When you’re in the same CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) with four sisters, the conversation invariably turns to produce.
Q: What do you do with three radishes? A: Cut into matchsticks and toss on a salad. Q: Mountains of kale? Pesto! Assorted greens that you can’t identify? Smoothie!
The thing about our CSA from Livy’s Lettuce & Greens in Prospect, CT., is there’s always an element of surprise. Though we’re knee deep in tomatoes in Connecticut, we’ve only received a few in our weekly shares. (Our share czar Christina is equally baffled by the scores of green tomatoes clinging to vines, promising a bumper crop in a few weeks.) But we’ve received tons of bok choy, kale, rhubarb and lettuce, with carrots, beets, scallions and even free-range eggs tossed in.
Being in a CSA means every week is an adventure. Digging through your share is like tearing into an Easter basket, discovering little surprises (say, three radishes) hidden in the fake green grass. In honor of our produce sisterhood, I’m making Wednesdays CSA Day. My sibs (and yours truly) will share recipes inspired by our shares. And yes, we get veggies in the winter. They’re grown in hydroponic greenhouses.
A few tips for anyone joining a CSA:
- Clean out your refrigerator’s produce drawers before CSA pick-up to accommodate your share. This requires way more space than a typical supermarket run.
- Sort outside if possible. Dirt, wilted leaves, stems and other mysterious debris litter counters after sorting.
- For maximum preservation, use Debbie Meyer GreenBags. My sister Janet recommended them and they’re a game changer. I bought a 20-bag packet at Bed, Bath & Beyond. They work and are reusable.
JOANNE, THE KALE QUEEN
My CSA life began a few years ago. I was at a garden center to replenish
my annuals. At check-out, I saw a large cooler in back with a sign, “CSA pick-up.” I’d
read about CSAs, but the up-front commitment deterred me in the past. I asked the
young cashier about the cooler and she told me she grew the vegetables and threw
open the top. It was early spring and I was awed at the sight—fresh unblemished
spinach, arugula and perfect heads of Boston lettuce. She gave me handfuls of the
greens to take home and refused payment. I was thrilled to find a source of
plentiful, local fresh greens so early in the season. Within days, I signed up for a
share after my husband and I calculated that the price for our half share ($25/week)
was well below what we paid at the supermarket and the quality far superior.
We’ve faithfully renewed our membership even though at times the
quantity has been a challenge to incorporate. There’s no doubt our vegetable
consumption has increased dramatically as a result. We probably now eat
vegetarian 4 nights out of 7. And, I very much like that I’m supporting local
farming and agriculture, know where the seeds come from and what’s in the soil.
MY BIG KALE SMOOTHIE RECIPE:
Christina, who runs the CSA, always gives me a lot of kale. It started as “You’re the
person who makes smoothies with the kale.” (I wasn’t.) And now it’s because one of
my sisters told her she doesn’t like kale, so I have inherited her portion. I actually
think I get three times more kale than everyone else, which is great when my
children are home because as urban hipsters kale is their salad green of choice (or is
it now Brussels sprouts?), but other times requires some brainstorming. To make a
dent in it, I became the person who makes smoothies with kale. My recipe
is more art than science and takes well to improvisation. In the summer, I
have this most every morning:
¼ cup rolled oatmeal
1 TB ground flaxseed
½ ripe banana
½ fruit of choice (apple, peach—whatever is in season)
a handful of frozen blueberries or pineapple
½ to 1 cup low-fat plain yogurt or nondairy alternative, such as silken tofu or Kite
Hill plant-based yogurt
2 TB walnuts
approximately ½ cup kale (three large stemmed leaves)
a sprig of orange mint if I’m in the mood to pick some from my garden
Optional: a few shakes of cinnamon or ginger
Whirl in a heavy duty blender (such as Vitamix, Nutribullet or Ninja) at gradually
higher speed (the noise annoys my husband, so I usually prolong this step). If the
consistency is too thick, add one-quarter cup or more of milk, orange juice,
water/ice, or coconut or nondairy milk. My preferred consistency is similar to a
milkshake. Pour into a tall glass, admire its beauty and retreat outside with the
paper or your preferred electronic device, and feel virtuous with the recognition that by 8 a.m. you’ve consumed close to half the daily nutrients that are
recommended to live to 100.
NEXT WEEK: Two takes on pesto.