July 13, 2009

Yay, it's CSA delivery day!

I think having this bonanza delivered to our front door every other week is one of my very favorite unexpected pleasures about embarking on this Buy Nothing New year. I might have found out about Auntie Em's, our neighborhood CSA, without joining The Compact. But I wouldn't have been familiar with what it was or what was so great about it if I hadn't seen other bloggers writing about the advantages and photographing their food.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it's the simplest way to eat local and organic. It's great for people who don't have time to get to the Farmer's Market. This week's delivery includes a watermelon (!), a French Cavillion melon, white nectarines, mango nectarines (which are supposed to taste like mango), grapes, kale, red leaf lettuce, a huge bunch of basil which is supposed to last for weeks in water, Armenian cucumber, onions, garlic, potatoes, baby heirloom eggplant, assorted summer squash, beets, okra, cherry tomatoes, an heirloom tomato, and the treat is a cherry white chocolate blondie. What do you think I tasted first? Before they started a CSA, Auntie Em's was famous for their baked goods.

I'm particularly excited about the okra because my husband is from the south and we both loved the fried okra his aunt Mabel used to make. I asked her to write out some of her favorite recipes for me, and for the okra recipe she wrote "you'll have to use frozen okra." I wish she were still alive to see me making fresh okra! I can't wait to try it.

A reader asked me to describe how I wash and store all this produce. If I ever have a question, I send an email to the chef at Auntie Em's, who runs the CSA. She usually responds within a short time, sometimes immediately. But generally she has told me to wash right before you're going to use something, and store everything in the crisper. Greens go in plastic in the crisper, but everything else - potatoes, squash, beets, baby onions, etc. - can all be stored loose in the crisper.

So far that system is working, because this is our 6th delivery, and I have yet to have anything go bad on me. I'm very careful about using it all because I would hate to see anything go to waste. I try to use the ripest and most delicate items within the first few days, and save the root vegetables and potatoes for the second week.

I can't recommend joining a CSA highly enough. You'll be doing yourself and your family a big favor. Everything tastes absolutely delicious, you're supporting local farmers, you'll become a better and more creative cook, and it's so convenient. Best of all, this convenience has not caused my grocery budget to go up at all. With all this fresh produce to eat, I buy a lot less snack foods. Joining a CSA is good for your health AND for the environment. What a great win/win.

If you live in Los Angeles, Auntie Em's delivers to a wide area. And they even provide a weekly recipe along with a list of what's in your produce box. I've posted their recipe for Stuffed Baby Heirloom Eggplant below this post.

Are you a member of a CSA? Would you consider joining one? Please leave your thoughts and questions in the Comments section.

7 comments:

tammy said...

Angela! LOVELY PHOTO! How fun that you have okra. There is nothing quite so delightful as okra and tomatoes with a nice hunk of cornbread. YUM!
Didn't know your hubby was from the south- very neat.
I picked fresh mesclun mix from my garden yesterday, along with ONE green bean (apparently I'm feeding a mama rabbit and two babies who continually eat the leaves off the new green bean plants) and the FIRST of the butter beans. I am excited! Neighbor brought over two HUGE zucchini and I made zucchini casserole for the freezer last night...
Good luck and fun cooking with your garden delights!

Angela said...

Hey Tammy-

A couple of weeks back I asked "what's your favorite recipe for zucchini?" and I got an amazing number of responses, with delicious sounding recipes. Check it out- you can scroll through to find the photo of the zucchini...

Thanks for complimenting the photo- I was annoyed that I hadn't taken the grapes out of the plastic, but as usual I was trying to do too many things at once...

Ellen said...

I don't see the white chocolate cherry blondie in the photo! ;o)

I love to bread and fry okra--it's my favorite thing to grow in a garden (along with tomatoes). I grew a ton of it when I had a plot in a community garden. Not so much now in my own garden, as my neighbors dogs use the area as a communal space, and tend to (walk on and) break the little shoots before they can get a good hold. Maybe this fall....

Angela said...

Ellen- Yes, I should have taken the grapes OUT of the plastic and the blondie OUT of the white bag. I'll remember that next time- I am a very amateur photographer.

Yes, aunt Mabel's okra is rolled in cornmeal and pan fried. I'm going to make it tomorrow night. And I have to remember how to treat the okra- I think cut it up in smallish slices and let it drain out the "goo" on a paper towel...

Michele said...

Angela-
I love these CSA photos! You get so much varity, and being in CA as opposed to the far north like me, get so many cool items.
I just have one favor to ask... When you write about what you received, can you start at the top and work around clockwise fashion (or something like that)? You get many things I have never seen or heard of, so I have to guess as to what each item is.
You are so lucky to get such a bounty in each delivery!

sandwicharchitecture said...

I'm a member of a CSA in Boston, for the third year now (I'm on my second farm, only because I didn't buy my share early enough the second year, and the first farm sold out). I love that people all over the country post their weekly CSA takings, because it's interesting to see the difference in what's in season locally in different places.

I don't get much fruit (or any treats!) in my share, and i've never found myself with okra, but otherwise the vegetables are pretty similar. I'm always envious of all of you in California. :)

I think it's wonderful that you had Mabel write down her recipes, by the way. We should all do this kind of download from our elders more often.

Angela said...

Great idea Michele! I will do that next time. There are always things in our box I've never seen, and yes, I am SO aware of how lucky we are to have this variety of produce. It's one of the things I love about California.

sandwicharchitecture- yes, even a treat! Can you believe it? I am always blabbing about the CSA now, which is funny since I didn't know what it meant six months ago. My husband told me that Southerners will recognize the acronym as "Confederate States of America!"

And yes, I was SO happy when I found those recipes from Aunt Mabel- and in her own handwriting! So glad I thought of it before she died, it may have been the last time we visited.