veggiesWeek 7 of my CSA adventures.Photo: Jennifer Prediger

Welcome to Week Seven of a takeout eater’s journey into the realm of Community Supported Agriculture, aka Veggie-Box Land. I’m learning what’s local, how to cook it, and keeping track of it here in this Urbivore’s Dilemma series.

This week’s farm-fresh vittles included a plethora of pretty plums, lettuce, spring onions, mint, raspberries, and a squash — pale green and avocado-shaped — that looked like it traveled from the future. Also note (at the bottom middle of the photo) a bitter, purplish-white lettuce that I thought was endive but now am not so sure. Anyone know what that stuff on the far left is? It’s good as a salad green but, like my Aunt Mary, a little too bitter for my taste.

Speaking of family, it was so nice hearing about your family traditions for making cooking a part of your lives in the comments to my last post. It struck me that these daily routines, though time-consuming, can be the most important kind of time spent with loved ones. It slows things down, creates a space to connect, and makes a healthy dinner. Memories, bonds, and new skills can all be created at dinnertime.

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I am former “latch-key kid.” (Cue the tiny violins.) Growing up, I ate countless bowls of spaghetti with butter in the company of nice families on television. (The violin grows louder and faster.) Family dinners, with working parents, occurred biannually, whether we needed to or not: Christmas and Thanksgiving. Memories of those dinners look more like this scene in Home for the Holidays, where a turkey ends up in someone’s lap.

Eating alone, there was always a kind of serenity. But eating with people lends itself to conflicts in every family, no? Do tell me, you wonderful families who cook together, what have your meal-making quibbles been about? And how have you handled them? Did anyone at your table ever end up like this, crying while eating?

In my adult experience, I’ve found cooking with a romantic partner can be challenging. (Violin screeches to a halt.) But there’s an opportunity here. Maybe if you can work through your issues in the kitchen, you can work through your issues together in life … ?

Perhaps only if the roles are clear: You take the Swiss chard and I’ll handle the fava beans! Or if one person plays the role of sous chef. I’m sure there are couples who share things equally and don’t step on each other’s toes, thanks to easy-going natures.

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Fava pastaA simple pasta with fava beans.Photo: Jennifer PredigerThis week, I took to the kitchen alone. But next week, I’d like to try sharing the kitchen. What’s your advice, readers, for sharing the stove with the one you love?

I was in a new, lucky position where I had unused items from previous weeks to contend — rather,  I mean, to cook — with. A dish of some of the pearl-like onions from last week coupled with steamed Swiss chard was delightful. Then I used more of those onions and sautéed the snap peas. And for a grain, I fried some polenta and garnished with the savory herb from weeks past.

Later in the week, I bonded with the fava beans, aka broad beans, that had been living in my refrigerator. I had heard these were one of the great joys of early summer. And I must second that. (Thanks for all the ideas of what to do with them and how, readers!) Taking them from their shells, blanching them, and then removing the little green emeralds from their second husk and then sautéing them took about an hour. But it was totally worth it. I cooked fresh fettucine made by an Italian grocery store and added black pepper, Pecorino, and olive oil to the favas. So heavenly. And that was accompanied by a summery squash (variety unknown), that I peeled, cut, braised in olive oil, and coated with some lemon juice, black pepper, and parsley. Though cooked by one, it made for a wonderful meal shared by two.

What’s to look forward to for Week 8? Lettuce, carrots, Swiss chard, cucumbers, squash, and italian parsley are on the way. Should I cook the currants from last week’s box with spinach, as Mark Bittman suggests? Or is it better to enjoy them raw?

Happy eating and thanks for sharing!