Sunday, April 3, 2011

Winter CSA Wrap-Up

The last of our greens!
Today is the last pick up of our Winter CSA that began shortly before Thanksgiving. What a blast it has been! As I discussed in the previous article on How to Choose a CSA, there really are a lot of considerations to make. Our Winter CSA subscription was an experiment and an adventure -- we wanted to see just what you would get across five Winter months. Elain and Everblossom Farm did not disappoint.

In mid-January, with all the cold and snow in Pennsylvania this year, there was a lull in plant growth. Elaine made a command decision to cancel one of the January pick ups and replace it with another at the end of the season. Then, as February opened into March, she had a bloom in growth and added an extra pick up to ensure the produce wasn't wasted. Where the initial pickups were full of Winter squash, this last month has had a lot of greens, both lettuce and cooking greens.

In the post on choosing a CSA, I talked about being exposed to new vegetables and having to learn more about how to cook them. That certainly happened here for me.
  • I had never had celeriac, a big root bulb that I learned to cook and smash like potatoes. Mixed with broth and butter, it had a mild celery flavour and mashed potato texture.
  • I had limited greens experience. I've used Chard quite a bit, but never turnip, beet, and radish greens, and only rarely kale. I don't think I'd cooked collard greens. I used Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything to tackle a bunch of these and learn variety. I found his preparation of greens with yogurt just phenomenal over rice. Elaine herself had given us a recipe for beet greens with bacon, which was a hit in our home and a few months later in my mom's. With the greens, I learned the frequently a teaspoon of sugar would make all the difference, and to toss in a lot of other flavors. Sadly, a giant bundle of greens wilts down to maybe a single meal of veggies. 
  • Turnips. I had eaten turnips at various points in my life. I had not been keen on them. Usually someone was disguising them as potatoes, and they just aren't potatoes. I've been avoiding cooking mine, frankly, by putting them in the back of the produce drawer. But, last night I decided Bittman had to save me. I tried his Braised and Glazed root veggie recipe, which basically cooks the turnips in a small amount of broth and butter, then boils off the liquid to leave them coated in a glossy intense sauce. My son and I agreed they were excellent. I actually had seconds. My husband thought the turnip flavor was still too strong and rejected them. 
  • Blue Hubbard squash. This was the giant blue-green pumpkin size squash I used for pie and soup in the late Fall. I love love love this squash. This was my first time with this kind of Winter squash and I will definitely try to find it again this Fall. 
  • Pea shoots. This is exactly what it sounds like, the green shoot vines from planted peas. I am thinking you must overseed the peas and then thin them to harvest the shoots. Anyhow, you get these little vines. Elaine presented us with a recipe to use them in an Asian subo noodle with shitaki mushrooms dish. Most excellent. So much so, I cooked it twice. I'm not one on cooking things twice, generally. I also through them in other soups and stews and they worked great. 

Our final delivery will be greens greens greens. My greenhouse I discussed in this earlier post as a sad affair has exploded. Mostly it is weeds that have exploded, but the few lettuce and spinach plants, along with a handful of onions, have shot up in the weeks I was away as well. Shot up literally, it looks like several of the lettuce are ready to bolt. :(

As we leave the CSA season, I'm looking to my local farm to get asparagus to tide me over in fresh veggies until the farmer's market opens in late May.

1 comment:

  1. I am so missing our winter CSA and, despite the rain, I have a hankering for cream of asparagus soup. I wanted to check if the farm where you got asparagus and strawberries last spring is open, but I can't remember its name.