Urbivore’s Dilemma, Week 3: A bounty of greens and fruit
(Jennifer Prediger photos)I made it to delicious Week 3 of my farm to table CSA experience, which I’m chronicling here in this Urbivore’s Dilemma series.
Last week was made so delightful by all of the terrific suggestions for what to expect and cook with my CSA’s offerings from you, readers. Thank you for sharing your insights, ideas, beautiful pictures and video of what you get from your CSAs in different parts of the country. It makes me want to hop on my bike and ride across the nation to ‘live off the fat of the land’.
Here in Brooklyn, living off the nearby land continues not to disappoint. This week we got a beautiful installment of lavender, cherries, raspberries, mustard greens, lettuce, and some spinach-like greens that were neither escarole or frisee as we were expecting.
Whatever that green was, I sautéed it alongside the mustard greens and olive oil, and a bit of purple-turning spring garlic for about 10 minutes. The mustard greens, which are the wonderfully spicy leaves of mustard plants, were a tad tough and chewy. Lesson for next time: Cook longer, and perhaps add some water for a steam/sauté. Does that work? Anyway, the mystery greens were perfect. And though they remain an enigma, I like having faith in whatever it is that our farm brings. Even if I don’t know its name, chances are it’s going to be very delicious.
Speaking of faith, check out where we pick up the vegetables! In this beautiful old, stone church sanctuary with stained-glass windows.
Is there a name for people like me, people who just like to eat things as they are?
I guess I’ve always had a certain kind of faith in vegetables. In college I hosted an infamous dinner party still mentioned whenever an old friend wants a good laugh. As the story goes, I had about six people to dinner. I made a glorious brown-buttered and Parmesan cheese Greek-style pasta, taught to me by my ancestors (a.k.a. my grandmother, mother, and aunt).
But before the meal, I served what I thought was a perfect appetizer: A plate of washed carrots. Not peeled. No dip. Not cooked. Just carrots.
Everyone ate them. It never occurred to me it was unusual to do such a thing. I was a mere 18-year-old who’d never hosted a dinner party. I just went with my gut. Those formative experiences have a way of sticking with you as quirks and insecurities. And it hasn’t helped that the jokes haven’t stopped since. “Hey, Jennifer. Want to cater our wedding? Not!”
To this day, I am fond of things as they are. Especially from the CSA box items, which are fresher than most food I’ve ever eaten. I find myself savoring each perfect raspberry, admiring every supremely fresh cherry. I’d hate to soil their nature with my somewhat limited cooking knowhow. (Remember how chewy those mustard greens were?)
Is there a name for people like me, people who just like to eat things as they are? Am I a culinary minimalist? An unintentional raw foodist, perhaps? Maybe it’s because I lack imagination about what vegetables could be. Or maybe it’s because I’m not good at following directions in recipes. Or maybe I’m a simpleton? Or could it be that simple food is for the good life, like this book suggests?
I was grateful to read this last week in the comments: “I’ve heard great cooks say that the key to good food is fresh high-quality ingredients. So with the food you get from a CSA, you’re almost home.” Thank you, Bart Anderson.
In other news, last week’s conundrum of “oversharing” feels much more settled. This week, we decided that my friends who have the other half of the share would get the snow peas. Next time, we’ll get snow peas. Ample snow peas for everyone! Just on alternating weeks. A fine solution.
I didn’t get to talk to Farmer Bill yet. Which is how I know he’s a good farmer. He’s outstanding in his field. Zing! I did leave a message for him with a request to volunteer on the farm. Excited to meet the people and dirt giving us such beautiful produce.
In the meantime, I found what the Green Thumb website has to say about share size:
“The vegetable consumption for individuals and families differs considerably; for some, a share might last a week, for others, a share would only be enough for a few days. Click here for a list of representative shares. Although many single people will easily use a share in a week, some single households may want to split a share.”
Still a little inconclusive. But I’m pretty sure, if I make it through this year, that next year I’ll go whole hog on a share for me and my regular dining companion.
What’s coming out of the dirt to eat next week? Stay tuned!
Readers, I look forward to your ongoing ideas about how to make simple yet exciting dishes with my CSA veggies, and to hear what’s in your boxes around the country each week.