CSA Vegetables, Recovery & a Delicious Slaw

With my gorgeous winter share from 47th Ave Farm. Photo credit Shawn Linehan Photography

Enjoy and love your vegetables! We’re told to eat our vegetables, all the time. We tell our children to eat their vegetables. But I think we sometimes forget the sheer pleasure and goodness of in-season vegetables, year-round. And yes, good health, is a big bonus!

 

It has been a tough winter for bugs of all sorts. Most everyone I know has battled several rounds of colds, flus, and other unpleasantries. Our little family of three has been practically unscathed. It has also been a big winter for vegetables. I’ve had the pleasure (and responsibility:) of two, full Winter CSA Shares (I’m guessing that’s 20lbs/week). I don’t have any proof that it’s all the black Spanish radishes, daikon, celeriac, leeks, turnips, kale, collards, purple sprouting broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, winter squashes of all shapes and sizes, and loads of onions, carrots and garlic, but I’d put money on my remarkable health and vitality these days having something to do with this pleasure and plethora of vegetables.

 

I’m just over a year out from a double mastectomy and six months of chemotherapy that laid waste to my immune system. However, when these gorgeous, nutrient dense, vegetables show up every week and the sheer volume allows you to eat as many vegetables as you possibly can, my immune system seemed to rebuild with gusto. I know I am very fortunate to have access to this bounty and everyone should be so lucky!

 

Most of us will hopefully not experience a health crisis of these proportions but we are all susceptible to stress and illness at every turn and what we choose and have access to eat, will make an impact. CSAs are one way of insuring a regular supply of truly seasonal produce. There’s something about this regularity that slowly builds habits that sustain and nourish not only our bodies but a better understanding of our communities, our soil, the people who cultivate it and share the fruits of their labor with us. I have never been more in love with the CSA model and more convinced that it is an antidote to so much of what ails us.

 

There’s still plenty of time to subscribe to a CSA and you’ll get access to all the recipes I’ve developed cooking my way through CSA shares for more than a decade in the form of the Seasonal Recipe Collection if you subscribe to one of these farms! But no matter what farm, just give it a shot, especially if you don’t travel much. Being home to enjoy all the bounty is one of the keys to CSA success.

 

Happy spring!

 

47th Ave Farm  — Minto Island Growers — Love Farm Organics — Full Cellar Farm — Mud Creek Farm  — Laughing Crow Organics — Hill Family Farm — Farmer Joe’s Gardens — Olsen Communities CSA — Cully Neighborhood Farm — Full Plate Farm — Coyote Family Farm — Abundant Field Farm — Sweetland Farm — Backyard Gardens — Legacy Acres Farm — Tanager Farm — In Good Heart Farm — Sweet Digz Farm — Lewis Educational Agricultural Center (L.E.A.F) 

 

Radish & Carrot Slaw w/ Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

This is gorgeous, bright, tart and crunchy from the seeds. It’s delicious as a salad as well as on toast with hummus or avocado or cheese or egg, in some form. It will enliven most anything, really.

 

Serves 4

 

2 medium carrots, grated on large holes of a box grater
1 1/2 – 2 cups grated radish, of most any kind: Watermelon, Black Spanish, Ostergruss or common little red ones
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley or a combination
2 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts
1/2 serrano chile (optional), minced or a few pinches red pepper flakes
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (toast in a 350 degree oven for 8-12 minutes until turning golden and a bit puffed or in a dry skillet over medium-low heat)
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

 

Toss all ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning with more vinegar, salt, pepper to suit your taste. Enjoy fairly soon if you want to enjoy the full crunch!

Winter Recipe Challenge

Garlic, yellow onions, russet or purple potatoes, Napa cabbage, collards, carrots, parsnips, beets, and rutabagas. . . that is the text I received last week from one of the farmer’s I work with. This is the list of produce members of the farm’s CSA received this week.

I get this list a few days before the share pick up and go to work collecting, testing, and adapting recipes to accompany the produce. It is particularly fun doing this work in the winter as we are blessed to live in a place where one truly can eat locally year-round. And since the bounty is actually so diverse here in the winter I have eaten well for many winters (buying at the farmers’ markets here) without eating many, if any, rutabagas or turnips. With this new gig, however, that’s changed and I am forever grateful.


So the winter recipe challenge is as follows: If you have been or would like to be buying local produce this winter and are curious how best to prepare something new to you.. .. or if you need a new idea for an old standby, post a comment below and I’ll do my best to respond next week with ideas or recipes. Or if you have favorite tricks and recipes, please share those as well!

The choices are certainly fewer this time of year than at the height of the growing season, however, the possibilities are not. And by having one’s grocery shopping choices eliminated (or narrowed) by the farmer (or the market vendor) we can spend our creative energy making the most of these delicious veggies that have stored up a summer’s worth of sun for us to enjoy this time of year.

And if you are curious about CSA (and happen to live in the Portland area) I will be teaching a class with Shari Raider of Sauvie Island Organics on February 4th where we’ll not only cook with local veggies but have Shari on hand to answer questions about our winter (or any season) veggies, the connection between farmer and eater and all that goes into growing food. Join us for what’s sure to be an interesting few hours of good cooking and conversation. I will be working with Sauvie Island Organics this year to create recipe packets for their CSA as well and if you sign up for their share this month you get a nice discount on any/all Cook With What You Have classes this year.

On another local note, Slow Food Portland is hosting a panel discussion on small-scale meat processing in our area. The event is next Thursday, January 26th. Visit Slow Food Portland for details.

Don’t forget to submit your comments with winter veggie questions or favorite preparations of yours, and check back next week for lots of new ideas on how to prepare them!

Happy Winter Cooking and Eating!