Thursday, June 19, 2008

CSA: Finally!

Well, it's about time I got around to posting a CSA roundup--or anything, for that matter. The Suitor is encouraging me to write up a pork chop with pineapple relish that I made last night, and I'm hoping to have that up this weekend. Things have been enormously busy, mostly juggling training and work and cooking. I also spent a few days in the greater Lake Tahoe area early this week: at the southern end of Fallen Leaf Lake, right on the edge of Desolation Wilderness, is a Stanford Alumni camp that my family attends for one week every summer. The lake was cold, the mountain chickadees sang "cheeseburger!" from nearly every tree, the wildflowers were out in full force, and the trail up Mt. Tallac was just as scenic as I remember it being (if perhaps a bit steeper). 

Meanwhile, the rest of the world plugs along, and the day after I got back it was CSA day. Right on schedule, my box appeared on my doorstep and I had a whole new set of goodies to explore. This week in delicious organic produce:

- Mixed lettuce (2 heads). They are enormous. I'm going to be eating lots of salads this weekend! Perhaps I'll make some lettuce wraps as well.

- Red Norland potatoes (1.5 pounds). New potatoes, these. They are just darling: round, 1-1.5" in diameter, and as tender as can be. I made a potato salad last night (the vinaigrette kind, not the mayonnaise kind) and am having some with my lunch today. The rest will probably go into aloo gobi with the cauliflower!

- Summer squash (1 pound). Three patty pans and two crook-neck squash. Not sure yet what I'll do with these, but I might saute them with some leeks. 

- Fresh lavender (1 bunch). I adore lavender, so I'm tickled that I'm getting some in my box. I have last week's sitting on my bedside table. This week's will probably go in a glass (makeshift vase) in the living room. Perhaps I'll make some creme brulee with it. :)

- Nantes carrots (1 bunch). Mmm, lunchy snacks!

- Yellow nectarines (1 pound). These are a little too firm for eating just yet, but they smell great. If I find myself unable to finish them raw, I'll pilfer some raspberries from my parents' garden and make a nectarine-raspberry crisp (a summer staple in our family). 

- Green bell peppers (1 pound). One will go into a stir-fry tonight, another into fajitas on Friday, and the last one will probably be stuffed with a rice pilaf (possibly with ground turkey) and baked at some point this weekend. 

- Heirloom tomatoes (1 pound). Two weeks ago I got one reddish striped one and a yellow one. Last week I got all yellow ones, and this week I got more yellow ones. It's not that I dislike yellow tomatoes (they're delicious--I sliced up some of them and had them with dinner last night), but I wouldn't mind having some in other colors as well. 

- Romaine lettuce (1 head). Again with the salads. This would be good for a chopped salad. black beans, some corn, tomato, bell pepper, a vinaigrette with lime juice and cumin.... Mmm. 

In other CSA news: starting in July I will be with a new CSA: Live Earth Farm. It's the CSA I was originally planning to join, but at the time they were full. I was on the waiting list, and this week I got a message saying that they had a spot for me if I was still interested. While on balance I've been quite happy with Capay Organic (my current CSA), there are a couple of things about them that have always bothered me. 

For one thing, the whole delivered-right-to-your-doorstep setup, while convenient, isn't exactly the most planet-friendly way of distributing the produce. Live Earth Farm's distribution is done by neighborhood drop sites, which seems to be the norm for most CSAs. Every neighborhood has a designated site where the farm leaves the produce one day a week, and each member comes to pick up his or her share of the goodies. I can bike to my drop site, and I feel much better about that than a refrigerated truck driving around to each subscriber's house to deliver the boxes.

The other aspect of Capay Organic that bothers me is that they supplement their farm's produce with items from other farms. Usually it's produce from the Monterey area, which isn't terribly far away (although if it has to go from Monterey all the way up to the Sacramento area and then back down to where I live, that's a little silly), but there are frequently items from southern California or even Washington. It seems contrary to the spirit of eating locally, and isn't what I had in mind when I decided that I wanted to join a CSA. Live Earth Farm's produce is all grown on their farm, and judging from their online records of what's in the box, it doesn't look like the the amount of variety is much different. Live Earth Farm doesn't have as much fruit in each box as Capay Organic does, but since Capay's fruit rarely comes from their own farm, I'm okay with that. Besides, I can always supplement my box with seasonal fruit from the farmer's market. 

Live Earth Farm also has some fun add-on options. I'm on the waiting list for the "extra fruit" option, as I'm a fool for all kinds of fruit. There's also a "fruit bounty" option, which I think must be aimed at those with large families and/or enough spare time to do a lot of preserving; last year fruit bounty subscribers got 4-5 baskets of strawberries every week! In addition to options for extra fruit, there are shares of pastured eggs, goat's milk/yogurt/cheese (a share in a goat or some goats, really), and artisanal bread from a local bakery. I was tempted by the bread option, but as I'm trying to bake more of my own bread when I want it, I decided not to do it. 

Anyway, I'm excited about this new CSA adventure. And hopefully now that I seem to have my training and cooking sorted out, I'll also figure out how to work more consistent blogging into the mix!


Brave Sir Robin said...

The rest will probably go into aloo gobi with the cauliflower!


You know, I've never made that. I've wanted to since the first time I saw Bend It Like Beckham I need to do it.

Your trip to the lake sounds just heavenly. I can only imagine how beautiful it must have been.

Brave Sir Robin said...

Wonderful picture!! That is some kind of beautiful.

Anne said...

The first aloo gobi I made was the recipe from the Bend It Like Beckham dvd extras. It's delicious! I recently made a different one that was a little disappointing, so next time I'll probably go back to the BILB recipe.

I should note that in the picture, the lake right behind us is Fallen Leaf Lake, and the one farther off and to the left is Lake Tahoe. We're at a little over 9,700' elevation, almost at the summit--it's another hundred or so vertical feet up to the summit, but my sisters (#1 in the middle, #2 on the right) didn't feel like going all the way up. I've been up before, and I'll go up again, so I didn't mind.

Right there it's quite rocky, but if you move cameraward and/or to the right by about 20 yards it's alpine tundra, with grasses and shrubs and groundcover plants and such. I didn't take any pictures of those views because I'd taken some years ago when I first went up Tallac--but I'd forgotten that those pictures are sequestered on an old laptop that's packed away in the garage. I might have to dig them out, because the views from the summit are just incredible.

Bee said...

Were the water and the sky really that blue? It looks so clean and fresh.

Can't wait for the pork chop recipe!

I'm fascinated that they send you lavendar.

I read, with interest, about your box debate. I am definitely going to get my own box come this fall. At the moment, we are hoping to have our own garden produce. The strawberries have started ripening.

Supersaps said...

Beautiful pictures!

It sounds like your new box is more of a match for you --I hope you enjoy it. I'm looking forward to reading more updates!

Some day, I'd love to talk to you more about choosing between ethical foods, the fetishisation of the "local," and using "food miles" as a metric to measure sustainability (I just submitted an article on this topic...).

Anne said...

Bee--so sorry it's taken me this long to get back to your comment! The sky and water really were that blue. It's just gorgeous up there. The lake is delightful for swimming. VERY cold (it's fed by snow runoff, and the snow is still melting at this time of year), but very clean.

Pork chop recipe coming... this has been quite a week, for various reasons. It doesn't take very long to write up the recipe, but for some reason there always seems to be something more pressing to do!

Sapna--let's do talk about ethical foods and such. I'm gradually learning about how to choose the most sustainable options, but sometimes it can be hard to tell, especially when there isn't an option that combines all of the virtues of fresh, sustainably and responsibly grown, local, pays workers a living wage, and so on... One of these days the Suitor and I need to have you and David over for dinner!