Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Adventures in CSA Basket Eating - Week 4

Seems hard to believe it has been an entire month we've spent cooking/eating/sharing the bounty of the weekly CSA baskets we are getting from Tecolote Farm.

The flow of what we are getting follows Barbara Kingsolver's formula as laid out in "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" in what she refers to as a "Vegetannual" (poster copies on sale at their website).Her theory is that the flow of a farm/garden follows the form of a plant. First you get the root edibles, then you move towards leafy ebibles, followed by flower/fruit type bounty.

While you are on her website, scroll down to see pictures and read testimonials from folks who are making their own attempts at eating locally. It is a great boost to know the efforts we are all making, put together, just might make a real difference.

In our baskets this week we've gotten Salad Mix which features not only tender baby lettuce leaves, but also endive hearts and arugula, which is my current "new favorite" lettuce variety. We have some fennel, more kohlrabi, more leeks, some "new" carrots (not the overwintered ones but a new crop), more Bloomsdale Spinach which creams wonderfully, and a bit more fresh garlic.

I am learning as we go along that if I get, say, one bulb of kohlrabi there is a good chance I might get another one or two the next week, in order to have sufficient quantities as called for in most recipes.

That's another thing I am learning. Most recipes call for quantities that are taking for granted that you either have a limitless supply of something to choose from at your local market or from a harvest of your own.

This idea of limitless supply makes more sense to me if I think about it as coming from food producers. While I am not myself a "producer" in any commercial sense, our two loquat trees have set an amazing amount of fruit this year. I am trying to get much of the fallen fruit up off the ground before it produces another bumper crop of loquat trees, and in my attempts to pick what is ripe I have already outstripped my ability to use up all the fruit.

That is the way it typically goes for us with a garden. I think of it as the "Goldilocks Principle". It runs like this. You try to grow food. You plant, you wait, you harvest. As the harvest progresses (and here is where G'locks comes in) you start out with too few, then you have just enough, and finally, WAY too many of whatever it is you were growing.

My challenge this week will probably be the fennel. I have not managed to find a way to use this that has found broad appeal in the past, but I also recognize my intrepid husband's tastes have stretched over the past couple of years, and he has been an amazing good sport with all these new vegetables showing up on his dinner plate. I know my son loves cooking with fennel so my first call will be to him to get suggestions and perhaps to offer to share.Or maybe it will be the escarole. What an amazing example of GREEN greens.

You know, I use the word "challenge", but really it is fun researching these new (to us) foods and finding recipes that sound like a promising introduction to what I hope will become a regular in our dinnertime line up.

So far our adventures in Basket Eating have been great, delicious, fun. Most CSA farms have a waiting list. If you are considering this for your own family, I'd say your first step would be to go to the Farmer's Market to see who is out there in your area, and then get on their waiting list.

If our experience is any indicator, it will be well worth the wait.

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