The calendar may not yet agree, and my boys are still in school for an additional few days, but in my view summer has officially begun. That’s because Farmer Andy has started driving his pickup and trailer to the back of our church on Fridays to unload our CSA (community supported agriculture) shares.
I’ve written about my love for my CSA many times. This year I am trying to get my family equally excited about trying new items that come to us direct from the farm. The first week I challenged my older son to help me find something to make with the rhubarb. Together we made a tasty rhubarb crisp with crumb topping that I sweetened with an extra cup of strawberries.
The following week I challenged my husband with some tatsoi and mizuna (Asian cooking greens) thrown into a vegetable stir fry. He proclaimed it the tastiest stir fry I’d ever made. Last week there were fresh beets in the share box, and as much as I love ordering a goat cheese and beet salad when I’m at a restaurant, I wasn’t entirely sure how to prepare beets pulled from the ground.
This is what makes being part of a CSA so exciting. Not only am I trying new foods, researching tasty recipes, and engaging my family in the process, I’m doing it with the knowledge that I’m directly supporting a local farmer and his family. Each week is one part culinary adventure, one part challenge. The challenge is to make something edible using a new or unknown food item. Unlike the rotten cucumber I might find all soggy at the bottom of the veggie drawer, I am loath to throw Farmer Andy’s food away.
This week we’re due for some delicious strawberries. Red, ripe and sweet they are a welcome change from the bland ones we’ve been eating all winter and spring. If the strawberries are anything like last year’s harvest, my kids are sure to gobble them up, licking their stained fingers while I slice them into a spinach salad or mash them into vanilla yogurt. Mmmmm, can’t you just taste summer?
Do you participate in a CSA or frequent local farmer’s markets? What is your favorite summer food?