Monday, November 11, 2013

life with a csa

(sing it to the tune of “life is a cabaret!”)

So my roommate Alli, her boyfriend Jason, his roommate, and I, have all gone in on a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture- Google it!). Split four ways, it comes out to $5 a week per person.

Because obviously CSA’s have their pluses and minuses (one minus being that I have gotten so much lemongrass in the past three weeks that I’ve had to turn it into a flower arrangement in the living room), I thought I’d share some of what I’ve been throwing together.

Because I am not always the organized woman I aspire to be, some nights I end up eating haphazard leftovers directly out of a baking dish.

These were all delicious:

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Beginning at 12:00, behold:

-a slice of grilled paneer with oil and balsamic. I bought paneer at the most epic Indian grocery store I have ever beheld and have used it to make lots. One of my favorites was making a bastardized version of grilled halloumi (Greek style): I just put some olive oil in a pan, cooked the paneer in it (on both sides) then added balsamic to deglaze the pan and add a little acidity. Brilliant, if I do say so myself.

-socca, to which I’ve hopefully sung enough odes by now that y’all are familiar with it

- turnips with miso butter, per Eating Well. Google it! Quite delicious.

- finally, my apple-potato gratin

Quite carb heavy (though I did foist some of that gratin off on my roommate, who didn’t protest all that much). But a very me-friendly meal. Local were: the turnips and their greens, the potatoes, the apples. Not bad!

Another night I had Steve over and made:

- Salmon (thawed frozen from Trader Joe’s. Silverbrite. Ultra fishy, wouldn’t necessarily recommend) marinated in CSA lemongrass broth (steeped lemongrass in hot water); soy sauce; watermelon rind pickle juice (!)

- roasted radishes (watermelon radishes! So pink and pretty!)

- rice steamed with a knob of lemongrass and finished off with CSA cilantro and butter

- CSA green salad with homemade vinaigrette

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Then I had one helllllllllllll of a week at work. Plus my car broke down. Plus I had to work Saturday. Gah gah gah.

So Sunday I slept my face off (score) and cooked all day (double score).

The first order of business was brunch, for which I made banana pancakes (using up an old batch of banana oatmeal and repurposing it into something more fun) and kale chips.

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Then I did my version of meal planning. None of these matched up (I subbed Wednesday’s lunch for Sunday’s dinner, ate Sunday’s dinner on Monday). My main goal in this endeavor is to make sure I have enough to eat all week so I won’t be able to lie to myself that I “need” to have ice cream for dinner.

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My first step is always to make a list of what I have already made (or quick-prep ingredients). I did REALLY WELL cooking a BUNCH of stuff on Sunday, so I had a LOT premade. The CSA was really good for this.

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I got a pumpkin NOT from the CSA but still local- my neighbor’s parents grew it! To be more specific, they grew a gazillion pumpkins and gave them all to their son, who is now earnestly trying to get rid of them.

Happy to do my part, I threw together something sort of fun and inventive: I sliced the pumpkin into super thin slices, that looked sort of like lasagna noodles. Then I made a basic bechamel, to which I added yogurt because I like the tang, I’ve done it successfully in the past while following a Cooking Light recipe, and most importantly was worried about my plain yogurt going bad. I layered the pumpkin “noodles” and the bechamel (which I’d pepped up a bit with nutmeg and balsamic) and it was PRETTY DANG TASTY.DSC03981

I also seasoned it, and everything else lately, with this:

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Bought it at the DOLLAH STORE. I mean cmon guys, it’s all the same sea.

Anyway, for the other CSA items for the week, I made the following:

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Looks kind of like hot and sour soup, doesn’t it? What it actually is is cooked yellow split peas and greens (beans and greens!), given some richness and pep with ginger and garlic (from the farmer’s market) and coconut milk (from the freezer! It freezes well, note to self, and it’s so nice because I perpetually only need a little bit when I make curry recipes), and finally more of that paneer.

Inventive. Or weird. However you want to phrase it.

Finally, I’ve been getting almost as many radishes as lemongrass. I combined two types of radishes (white and watermelon radishes- the watermelon radishes have beautiful pink centers!) along with purple potatoes, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and gave them a good roast.

Beautiful colors, no?

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Ultimately, I’m really glad I did the CSA experiment, and it ended up reinforcing to me all of the stereotypes about CSA’s: it’s fun and convenient and inspires creativity to get an unpredictable weekly delivery. You also get weird stuff in weird quantities and get sick of eating the same stuff over and over (I’m looking at you, absurd quantities of lemongrass that are now making up the flower arrangement in my living room).