I joined a CSA.
A what? Caesar Salad Association? Crime Scene Assistant? Cute Sister Academy?
Community Supported Agriculture. CSA.
Let's do this interview style:
Q: What does that mean?
A: Well, it means I signed up to receive a box of organic grown produce from a local farm. I pay them directly and they deliver right to me (well, not really. I have to go pick it up at a drop off location but it's pretty close). They had options for once a week or every other week, and I chose every other week.
Q: Why did you sign up?
A: In my quest to be healthier (and make my family healthier) and eat more fruits and vegetables, I thought this would help get me out of my comfort zone. It's not a pick and choose type of deal. Whatever is in season and ripe at the moment is put in the box. I was hoping to use it as a replacement for buying my fruits and vegetables at the grocery store.
Q: How much do you get?
A: We've received one box so far and it's been plenty for two weeks. When I made meals, I made enough to freeze half, so I think it's enough for us. We still have quite a few items left, so I might even have a surplus.
Q: What was in the first box?
A: In my box, I got three Asian Pears, a basket of cherry tomatoes, three large Roma tomatoes, a head of Kale, a bunch of tomatillos, two eggplants, two red onions, a bunch of small zucchini, a squash, a small watermelon, and four red spicy peppers.
Q: Did you know in advance what you were gong to get?
A: The farm I use has a website where they post what is in the box of the week. It listed out most of the items, although it had said I would receive sweet peppers instead of spicy peppers (they sent out an apology email stating they had packed us the wrong ones). Also, it listed things like strawberries OR Asian pears. Thus, I wasn't completely sure which would be in my box, but I had some idea.
Q: What did you do with everything?
A: I'm glad you asked! The teacher in me was so excited to sort through everything and start meal planning. I compare it to lesson planning. In lesson planning, you have a standard that you plan to teach, or an objective you hope the students will accomplish. In meal planning, the produce item was my standard to work around. I was able to do some online research, read reviews about what worked, and implement some recipes. (I know, I'm a dork). I haven't used everything up just yet (this is a two week plan and I just finished the first week), but I'm on my way. I don't want anything to go to waste.
Q: So what meals did you plan?
A: The first night I just did a basic steak stir fry with the kale and zucchini and peppers and whatever other items I already had (spinach, lima beans, onions, garlic). That was delicious. The others are recipes I found off the internet. However, when I "follow" a recipe, I tend to look at it as more of a suggestion. Thus, I don't always use measuring cups and all those fancy things. I just toss items in as I see fit (Husband is not always a fan of my methods. But, hey, I'm cooking!) I'll link to the recipes, but keep in mind that my reviews are based on my interpretation of what I did, not on the exact recipe.
The next night I made Slowcooker Beer Braised Beef with Kale. A bit more prep than I am used to, but it turned out wonderfully. I made a bunch, so half of it is in the freezer to be enjoyed at a later date.
After that, I had planned to do stuffed peppers, but the peppers I received are insanely spicy instead of the sweet that I was expecting, so that was out.
I attempted Crockpot Jambalaya with Eggplant but that was kind of a disaster. It was way too bland for Husband and I. I saved what we didn't eat and I'll experiment with adding some flavor at a later date.
I'm currently cooking something else in the crockpot, but we'll see how it turns out before I post about it. It smells good so far, although that's not always the best indicator of how it will turn out.
Q: Why are all the meals in the crockpot?
A: Because I'm lazy. And I have two children who constantly want my attention. Plus, I find it harder to mess up crockpot meals.
Q: Do you recommend the CSA to others?
A: At the moment, I recommend it to those who don't know what to get when they go to the farmer's market or produce section of the grocery store (that's me!) and for those wanting to support a local farm and business (also me!).
I'll try to keep you updated as I continue this adventure!