More tips for adapting to, even flourishing under, your new farmshare:
- Get a salad spinner. Like it or not, you will be eating a lot of salads. I ate more salads last year than I had eaten in my whole life previously. I did not own a salad spinner and I refused to buy one on principle. The principle that salads aren’t delicious. So, to dry my wet greens, I would wrap them up in a few dishtowels, wrap a plastic bag around the whole thing, and whip my arm around real fast like a windmill on crack. It works. But you look really dumb. And if you let go, well…just don’t let go. But it turns out that salads really are delicious (they are!), so I bought a salad spinner last week to celebrate my one-year anniversary with my farm!
- There are very few herbs that can’t be made into pesto. If you can’t use up your basil, parsley, mint, or cilantro before they wilt, make pesto and it will last for a week in the fridge (or practically forever in the freezer).
- There are very few vegetables that can’t be made into cold, puréed soups. I live on gazpacho during tomato season. But I’ve made gazpacho-like concoctions with things other than tomatoes in almost every other color of the rainbow, too, not all of them good. Some of them got poured right onto the compost heap, but most of them were delicious.
- Whenever you fire up the grill, stick some extra vegetables on there so you have them cooked and ready to eat for the week. I do this a lot with the endless supply of summer squash. And, if you have a charcoal grill, you can harness that leftover heat to roast beets. Nobody wants to turn on the oven in the height of summer for an hour to roast beets (shouldn’t nature be thinking about these things?). So, when you’re cleaning up from dinner, once the grill has cooled down a bit, just wrap up the beets in some foil (you can peel them later), maybe three to a packet, and position them around the perimeter of the rack (not directly over the glowing coals). Cover the grill and forget about them for an hour or two. Three days is too long. They’ll look all puckered and scary, but they’ll be as sweet as candy.
- Stop looking at your farmer like that. It’s going to get you in trouble.
- When it comes to recipe ideas, the Internet can be your best friend. Epicurious, blogs, even checking out your favorite chefs’ menus online are good sources of inspiration. But I think I’m preaching to the choir here. Books are also good. Any good cookbook will do, but the vegetarians tend to know their way around a vegetable. I’ve also mentioned The Cook and the Gardener before, which arranges its recipes by season and month. And there are several CSA-centered cookbooks that I’m just beginning to explore. From Asparagus to Zucchini by the Madison Area CSA Coalition is one, and another is Recipes from America’s Small Farms.
Finally, my Neighbor reminded me of what, perhaps, is the biggest adjustment when joining a CSA. The mindset. When you have every possible ingredient available to you at any time of year at the store, you get into the habit of planning the meals first and getting the ingredients second. With a CSA, it’s the other way around. Your lovely farmer does the shopping for you, and so you learn to use what you have. If you’re stubborn like me, it may take an entire summer to get used to this mode of thinking. But, the result is that you suddenly become a much better cook.