Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Bounty: CSA, evening meals and enjoying the abundance of wonderful food

Last Thursday my husband walked in weighed down by the burden of a huge box of fresh, organic broccoli, our weekly CSA box and a large cooler bag containing all of our fresh milk. A gleeful smile came to my face as I saw all the wonderful foods entering out home. As soon as I opened our CSA box I knew I simply had to share a post about it, because the vegetables simply looked spectacular and the variety was better than what I could do at the farmers market.

We have a CSA (community supported agriculture) share through Driftless Organics this year and so far I've been nothing but impressed. This is our second time to try using a CSA. The first time, we split a share with another family, because neither of us was sure we'd be able to eat everything that came in the box, plus I still wanted to get some items at the farmers market. The CSA we used the first time was pretty good, but I had wanted more variety. It felt like we received at lot of the same things each week. Plus it was hard to meal plan, because we never knew what was coming in the box, which meant any additional grocery shopping had to wait until we had our box in hand. Really not a big deal, but then we joined Driftless and I do believe I am feeling a bit pampered now. Every week they send out an email on Monday (or maybe Tuesday) letting us know what's coming in our box on Thursday. This is awesome. It makes meal planning so much easier, especially if you know you aren't quite all the way through your box from the previous week, you can match up veggies with the next box to make a more thorough meal. They also let us know what's going on with the farm. This gives an extra connection with the farmers as we get to read first hand what's going on with them and learn how the weather is affecting the crop. Every email is always encouraging as they put a positive spin even on the more difficult times, like bad weather, that naturally comes with farming. They then send a news letter along with their box for us to read further updates. In the newsletter they cover everything that's included in the box, giving a brief description and preparation method for each vegetable and several recipes.

These couple of little extra steps Driftless Organics is taking, makes for an amazing experience on our end. Of course, the best part is all of the amazing vegetables. Honestly, they have been simply fabulous this year. Organic vegetables and fruit picked when they are at the peak of ripeness have truly wonderful flavors. I've been amazed at the full flavor and sweetness of everything we've enjoyed thus far. This last week (week 6 of 18 I think) our box included; broccoli, cauliflower, cilantro, fresh garlic, green beans, green leaf lettuce, green top carrots, green top gold beets, green zucchini, white scallions, snap peas, yellow summer squash, and red raspberries. What a delight!

On top of our CSA box, last week we received an email letting us know that an additional box of broccoli (about 11lbs) could be purchased for $20. Considering that broccoli is often around the $4 range per pound at the co-op, I certainly wasn't going to pass that deal up. Plus this broccoli would be far fresher than anything I could get at the store or even the farmers market.

Now you may be wondering what in the world is someone going to do with about 11lbs of broccoli. Easy, put it away for winter! I washed it and cut it into smaller piece, then blanched it in boiling water for about 4 minutes. Half of it went into our deep freeze and the other half went into our dehydrator. Properly dehydrated food is supposed to retain a good portion of the vitamins and minerals in food. You can then rehydrate it with water when you're ready to use it and use in any recipe that would call for cooked ingredients, like soup, casseroles, baked desserts, etc.

On to a wonderful summer meal.
There is typically a plentiful amount of fresh greens to eat this time of year, and I'm not talking just about salad greens. Swiss chard, spinach, kale and beat green tend to be in abundance. One of my favorite way to use greens is to mix them into eggs.
I chop up some garlic scapes and green onion (since we have been receiving them in our CSA box) and the stems of the greens and saute them in butter or oil (typically coconut oil). Then I'll mix up any greens we have on hand (except spinach, because it needs to be prepared a little differently since it has such a high water content), chop them up, and toss them into a frying pan with a lid. We let them cook down until they are bright green and still a bit crunchy. I then add however many eggs sound good (typically about 6 for 4 of us to eat) and about a cup of homemade cottage cheese. Depending on my mood, I may add some ground tumeric, which is excellent with eggs. Then season with the usual salt and fresh ground black pepper.

A filling egg meal like this isn't typically breakfast for us, but dinner. I love breakfast style meals for dinner and when you've spent all day outside enjoying the many summer activities an easy, healthy meal like this is a must. To go along wit the eggs I include a variety of fresh fruit, tossed with a bit of maple syrup (if a little sweetness is needed) and some fresh chopped mint. I think fruit accompanies almost every meal in our home during the summer. The choice of apples, banananas and oranges for about 6-8 months of the year, gets very, very old and I can't help but gourge myself on the fresh cherries, nectarines, plums, berries, peaches and so forth that come with the warm weather. 

Now, you may be thinking that's all nice, but there is not way my kids would eat that type of meal. All I can say is try it and see what happens.

A while back we made it a rule that the kids have to eat at least one or more bites of all the foods my husband and I eat (unless is something very spicy or not appropriate for our daughter because she only has 8 teeth). This came about when our son started to become a pickier and pickier eater and we found ourselves pretty much preparing a second meal for him so he would eat. After a while this simply wasn't working for us. Now both are kids must eat a little of everything on their plate (well since our daughter is only 15 months, this isn't quite true with her, but it will be as she gets older and we are trying to make it a point that she eats what she is given, before we give her more of something else). We of course get greeted with the usual moaning from our son as he claims that he doesn't like his food, mind you he hasn't even tried it. But, when we stick by this rule, we have found that more often than not he will actually end up liking what's put before him once he's encouraged to actually try it. It's important to us that our kids like a wide variety of foods, especially ones that are healthy for them. It's working too, because both eat a much more well balanced diet this way. In the process we also respect if our kids (more our son since he can actually talks) truly don't like certain foods. We all know we aren't all going to love the same foods. The thing is, we've been pretty spoiled in the U.S. We let our tongues do all the dictating for what we eat, instead of listening to our bodies and what they actually need to be healthy. We may not always love every meal, there's nothing wrong with that, we still need a well balanced diet to keep us healthy. So, if there is something on our sons plate, we know he consistently doesn't like we'll have him only eat a couple of bites. If he still refuses, because anyone with children knows just how stubborn they can be sometimes, then he has to go to bed hungry or without dessert. Our pediatrician once reminded me that she's never heard of a child staring themselves to death, so let them have the choice, but then if they won't eat it, well they can wait till the next meal to get anything more. On the really trying days our son may go through two meals without touching a thing (not a fan of those days), but almost a guarantee that by dinner he's ready and willing to eat whatever is put before him and with a smile on his face. I write this, simply to encourage parents to go ahead and make foods that they know are healthy, even if they don't think it's will be their child's favorite. Our kids need to learn to be grateful that they can enjoy such amazing different foods. There are simply far, far too many children in this world who don't have a thing to eat and would do anything to have the scraps off our plates. These children wouldn't care what the food was as along as it could fill their belly.

Till next time!

Our daughter totally loving the greens and eggs. She devoured her whole plate of food!

This is what happens when I ask my son to smile for the camera! Such a goofy boy with his goofy faces! :)

1 comment:

  1. Now I am super inspired to join a CSA in Austin. And I loved hearing about how you encourage your kids to eat a variety of foods. I'm going to try to do the same when I have my own kids. Thank you for sharing, sweet friend. I hope you had a great start to your week. Much love!


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