An Odd Time to Talk About Vegetables
February 3rd, 2014
During the early fall, life was zany and I never did a CSA wrap-up post. This may seem like an odd time to return to the subject, but I don’t care what the overgrown rodent says, spring IS just around the corner.
My bestie and I spent some time Friday afternoon pouring over the Gurney seed catalog and sign-ups have opened for the CSA this year. I am actually not signing up this year (I’ll explain why below), but I wanted to recap a few of the highs – and lows – of our Summer of Veggies.
First, the #VeggieFail nominations. Honestly, there weren’t many. I remain unconvinced by turnips, suspect that eggplant is actually made of rubber, and never managed to develop an appreciation for jalapeno peppers but otherwise, it was only good news on the veggie front this summer.
I am even slowly coming around on beets. They still tend to taste like dirt but I have had – and enjoyed – them roasted in salad several times and plan to try again this summer.
Kale. I’ve posted before on my new love affair with kale. Super Veggie for sure. I’m going to try to grow some myself this year and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to convince my kids of its magical properties. By the end of this summer, Miss Mouse was suspicious of anything green, fearful that it might be kale.
Okra and Collard Greens. Well bless my soul, I’m a southerner! I can’t claim total victory on the greens because I couldn’t keep up with the quantities that came in the CSA, but I served them with cheese grits and liked them, so there. And okra? That’s good stuff. I learned that you can, in fact, cook it without it getting all nasty and slimy. My favorite thing about okra is that, in contrast to kale, Miss Mouse likes it too! Requests it, even.
Zucchini & Yellow Squash. I’ve never been a fan of summer squash but I think I’ve turned a corner. While some of this season’s squash made its way into brownies (which were awesome, by the way), I didn’t always hide it. Two of my favorite sides this summer were quinoa-squash bites and zucchini-feta cakes. Serve the latter with basil mayo and don’t say I never did anything for you.
My favorite thing about participating in a CSA was not the food, exactly, but rather the whole experience. I loved picking up our veggies from “the farm boys” each Wednesday, taking the kids with me to collect our box, and watching them excitedly select just the right bunch of carrots or bag of green beans. I loved visiting the farm – twice! – and seeing exactly where our food was growing. And let me tell you right now that there is nothing better than a sun-warmed blueberry, fresh from the bush. Nothing.
So why aren’t we first in line to sign up again this year? Honestly, we can’t afford it. Joining a CSA is not cheap. Ours was certified organic and cost $20 a week – this year it’s going up to $25. I do not doubt that the CSA was a good value. I believe the market value for the produce we got was at least what we paid for it. But for us, it was an add-on expense. My family didn’t embrace veggies with enough enthusiasm for me to replace some of our grocery expenses with our CSA expenses. It was just extra money each week.
But I’m planning to build on what we learned last year. I want to be more diligent about going the farmer’s market to pick up our favorite veggies and I’m going to try again to grow a few things. Meg has promised to let the kids root around in her garden, helping them to learn more about where food really comes from.
And maybe the farm boys will let us come visit this summer if I promise not to eat all the blueberries…