Monday, July 7, 2008

CSA: "new and improved" edition

At last I have a few minutes to sit down and regale you all with a summary of what I got in my last box. This weekend was enormously busy, and frankly, I could use a weekend to recover after my weekend! But back to the goodies. This box was my first with my new CSA, Live Earth Farm, and what a box it was! I was--and still am--flush with delicious fruits and veggies. It's actually a little overwhelming. In my box I found:

- Three baskets of Blenheim apricots, mostly eaten out of hand. Some, though, were grilled to soft, drippy goodness for dessert on Friday. 
- Three baskets of delicious strawberries, which have already disappeared.
- A half-pint basket of pale salmon-colored raspberries.
- Two broccoli crowns.
- Two baby bok choy.
- Three 6-7" cucumbers.
- Summer squash: two varieties, one a pale green, striped, and ridged baby zucchini and the other a shorter, squatter, smoother squash with similar coloration. I got a few of each--they were excellent marinated and grilled on Friday evening, and will be again on my sandwich at lunch today. 
- Kale: not the bumpy dinosaur kale that I'm used to seeing but smooth and rather like an overgrown oak leaf, green foliage with purple ribs/stems. 
- Lettuce: four enormous, beautiful heads of lettuce that I've been enjoying in salads and on sandwiches. 
- New red potatoes, about 2-3 pounds. Stellar in a not-potato-salad (potato salad with a garlicky, lemony, mustardy vinaigrette instead of mayonnaise) with haricots verts from Katie's mom's garden.
- Dill: honestly, I think they just pulled up the plant and lopped off the roots. It's several stalks about three feet tall--a bundle as big around as a 1-pound bundle of asparagus. Some of it got chopped up and put into the not-potato-salad, but I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to do with the rest of it. 
- Purslane! I had never heard of such a thing, except that I grew up picking it as a weed in my parents' garden. It grows wild around here, and apparently it's excellent in salads or soups. It's a succulent, very crisp and juicy, and has a tart, grassy flavor that's strongly reminiscent of lemons. Apparently it's very high in vitamins, and has more omega-3s than any other land-based leafy plant.

Like I said, a little overwhelming. It is, as you can imagine, a bit much for one person to manage. I have a "family share" because they didn't have any openings for small shares, but I'm considering asking them to pack me a small share and donate the extra to the charity where they send extra produce each week. In the meantime, I'm going to do my best to get through the rest of my veggies before I pick up the next box on Thursday evening. I have everything planned out... hopefully it will work. 

I hope everyone stateside had a great Fourth, and that our expat regular (*waves at Bee*) had a lovely weekend even without the holiday. It was a packed schedule here, but almost all of it most enjoyable. Friday had me at work for a little while in the morning (thus the "almost") and then cooking up a storm in the afternoon. Our feast included the aforementioned not-potato-salad and grilled zucchini, apricots, and mixed sausages on rolls. I also fashioned some bellini-style drinks out of Blenheim apricot puree and some cava that I'd been keeping on hand for when the Suitor finished something that has been a source of much stress over the last several weeks (months, even). 

In between work and cooking I stopped by my parents' place to show my mom the purslane (she was curious) and pick some Meyer lemons. As usual, I came home with some extra goodies--in this case, about four cups of olallieberries that my mom and sister #2 had picked coastside the previous day, three of the first white peaches from my mom's tree, and a few apricots (Blenheims, naturally) from another tree. We also munched on raspberries that we picked on the way out to the trees. It was a thoroughly fruitful day. 


Brave Sir Robin said...

Sounds like a lovely fourth.

It also sounds like your new box is going to be better than ever!

purslane ?????

Hmm, I've never heard of it.

Katie(W.I.N.S.) ok?

ps - Bee has her 4th post up.

Anne said...

Not to imply that you can't google all by yourself, but here you are. :)

I am very excited about my new box, mostly for all the delicious produce but also for the social aspect of it: the drop site is at a member family's house, so there's someone hanging out with the produce and saying hello to people who stop by. I'm guessing I'll also run into more kindred spirits who go to pick up their stuff at the same time that I do. I have to say, though, the excitement is tempered somewhat by a deer-in-the-headlights feeling of "what on earth am I going to do with all of this???"

KatieWINS is out of town at the moment, and I haven't heard anything specific about her house since last Wednesday, so my fingers are still crossed. According to what I heard on the radio this morning, the mandatory evacuation order was just lifted for her immediate area. Of course, we're at the beginning of a heat wave, so who knows what will happen. High heat, low humidity, serious drought conditions, and lots of dead trees (sudden oak death) make for great fire conditions... and not-so-great ones for trying to contain the fire.

Bee said...

I always feel healthier just READING about your CSA box. I wish that I had as many fruits and veggies in my life. We did pick our first zucchini today, though.

Purslane? It's new to me, too.

That potato salad sounds SO GOOD. Pretty please share the vinaigrette recipe?

Ha ha; I don't think one person really needs that much dill. I'm sure I've not used that much dill in my life so far!

Oh, I love a good Bellini. I hope that the Suitor was pleased with whatever he completed.

Bee said...

P.S. I wish that I could send you some of our rain for your drought! We had lashings and buckets of the stuff this weekend.

Brave Sir Robin said...

Hmmm - from what I read about purslane, it might work in gumbo as a thickener, like okra.

Anne said...

Bee, do you have special plans for your first zucchini?

I'm afraid I don't have a specific recipe for the vinaigrette--I usually just pour in this and that and whisk it all together. I minced a bunch of garlic with some salt (crushing it all together so that the garlic juices came out nicely) and put it in some freshly squeezed lemon juice, then added a touch of honey and a bit of mustard, and some excellent olive oil from a press a few hours south of here. I have no idea what the exact proportions were--I just put in enough olive oil to make it look "right," and then adjusted it to taste. It's very important to toss the potatoes with some of the vinaigrette just after you drain them--they soak it up when they're warm. You can add more vinaigrette after the potatoes cool, when you're ready to combine the potatoes with the haricots and herbs (and walnuts if you so choose).

It really was too much dill. This week I'm getting basil, though, and I'm quite capable of using up large quantities of that!

The Suitor was pleased, I think. Mostly just relieved to get it done! The pseudo-bellinis were so-so. The apricot flavor didn't come through as well as I was hoping it would. Ah well.

Indeed, BSR! I was thinking about using it in a soup or stew, but then we ended up with a heat wave. Perhaps another time.

Bee said...

Thanks for the vinaigrette blueprint -- I will definitely try that!

Someday I want to have a Harry's Bar Bellini in Venice.

Bee said...

I'm having another hour in need. Can you help?

Any suggestions for brunch fare which could be (at least mostly) made ahead?

Anne said...

Wouldn't you know it, Beth, I just now came across this recipe: Zucchini-Potato Tortilla. It can be made a day ahead, and is best served at room temperature. You could use zucchini from your garden--and eggs from Ralph and Lauren! When Katie(WINS) and I were in Spain, the tortilla we had at Cal Pep was served with some sort of garlicky aioli, and that might work well here. To continue with the Spanish theme, you could serve some jamón ibérico along with the tortilla (if you can get it where you are).

Bee said...

Dear lovely Anne,

THANK YOU SO MUCH for finding this tortilla link for me. I will definitely try this recipe someday, but for this occasion I decided to go with a Strata. In fact, I just finished assembling it. (It is one of those things that can chill overnight and then go straight into the oven.)

BTW, we ate our zucchini last night -- just sauteed in a speck of olive oil, with a hint of garlic.

Little daughter and I have realized that our garden is going to come to "fruition" during the next couple of weeks . . . when we are AWAY!

rednikki said...

We just moved to the Monterey area, and Live Earth is one of several competing CSAs. I'm not sure if you live thisaway or closer to Santa Cruz, but if you do live down here, I'd love to get your thoughts on the various CSAs down here, as it sounds like you've been a member of a couple.

Anne said...

rednikki - I'm actually up on the Peninsula (Mountain View and Palo Alto). I'm now with Live Earth Farm, and I used to be with Capay Organic, which is based near Sacramento... so Live Earth Farm is the only one in the Monterey/Watsonville area that I'm familiar with. Sorry I can't be more helpful! I've been very happy with Live Earth Farm, though, and would recommend them if you're looking to join a CSA in your area. In addition to the two different share sizes, they have add-on options like extra fruit, fruit bounty (a LOT of extra fruit), pastured eggs, fresh artisanal bread, and goat shares. I have the small share (originally the family share, but it was just too much) and the extra fruit option. I'll be putting up a new box post later this week--we're well into Fall with apples and grapes!