Saturday, June 19, 2010

Week One

June 15. The day I’ve been waiting for. My first CSA delivery of the summer. I open my box from Two Onion Farm in Belmont at the pick-up site and take a quick look at the produce inside. Since I did this last summer, the unfamiliar items, such as salad turnips and garlic scapes are recognizable to me now. There are also radishes, broccoli, a small head of cabbage, lettuce, pea pods, and green onions.

I pull out the lettuce and look in the swap box. Here you can deposit the items you don’t like and take an item you do like. Knowing I already have spinach at home for salad, I drop the lettuce in the box and take out a head of cabbage.

At home, I begin cooking. This will be my every other Tuesday evening ritual for most of the summer. Because the bounty is organic and untreated, I try to cook it as fast as possible so as not to waste it. I also try to find unusual uses for the items that aren’t my favorites and that might fall to the back of the crisper drawer and be forgotten until they are nothing but feed for the compost bin.

This week, it’s the radishes and the salad turnips. I’ve never been a huge fan of radishes and only learned about salad turnips last summer. I decide to pickle the radishes along with one of the salad turnips and a few green onions using this recipe. They turned out to be quite good. I have been eating them raw as a snack throughout the week and using them on toasted turkey sandwiches.

For dinner Tuesday night, I use my favorite item in the box, the sugar snap peas. Although I love these enough to sit down at the table and eat them raw, I have enough restraint to stir fry them with the garlic scapes and another salad turnip, which when cooked adds crunch like a water chestnut. I even take the time to make a brown sauce with sherry, soy sauce and cornstarch, instead of my short cut cooking with just oil.

The garlic scapes are long thin green tendrils that grow out of the ground above the garlic bulb below. If it is kept attached to the bulb it will turn white and opaque like the skin on the garlic and keep the bulb from growing. They add a subtle garlic taste and crunch to whatever you add them too. Throughout the rest of the next two weeks, I will throw them in anything that needs a little garlic taste and crunch.

For the first night, I’ve done enough cooking and sit down at the table to enjoy my first meal. As I crunch into the snap pea I make plans for the rest of the items. I found a recipe for curried cole slaw and I have a favorite sweet and sour cabbage recipe for the two heads of cabbage. The broccoli will be easy, as will the green onions and the garlic scapes, so I don’t have anything special planned for them yet.

It’s the other salad turnip I’m worried about. It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just one of those vegetables that tends to get lost in the back of the refrigerator. I get up from the table and pull it out of the bag my vegetables are stored in, placing it prominently front and center on the top shelf, where I won’t miss it.

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