Making The Most Out of Your CSA Box
Bees will buzz, kids will blow dandelion fuzz, and I’ll be doing whatever mom does in summer!
The weather’s getting warmer, the grass is turning green, the flowers are in bloom, it’s SPRING! Mostly. And while our friends up north may have to brace themselves for another late winter storm, we’re going to take a deep breath and delight in all the glory that a Texas spring can bring. We must, friends, because as soon as spring is here we can rest assured that summer is on its way.
And what better way to prepare for the coming sun-drenched, hot, and lazy days of summer than to revel in the bounty that warm weather brings? That’s right, folks, it’s time to sign up for The Home Grown Farm’s Summer Season!
As you take the time to enjoy your spring and contemplate what your summer will look like, I offer a list of helpful hints for getting the most out of your CSA membership all year round. Whether you’re new to the HGF or you’re a seasoned veteran I hope that you’ll find something useful in the information below.
Making the Most of Your CSA Membership
One of the challenges I faced when I started with HGF was using all of my produce in a timely manner, a by-product I would assume of a lifetime spent cooking with foods that have been altered so that they could sustain the journey from their place of origin to the store where I would find them. You all know I love good food and one thing I hate is when good food goes bad. With that in mind, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.
1. Menus aren’t just for restaurants.
It sounds so basic but putting together a list of menus is by far the most helpful thing I do each week. I like to jot down a list of menus and their key ingredients, take stock of what I’ve got, and then order what I still need.
It’s helpful for me to see what ingredients we’ll be using and with what regularity. Plus, if I’m using the cabbage for jalapeno coleslaw with my Pulled Pork Tacos and as a steamed veggie with my Teriyaki Chicken, I know I’ll be able to use it all up while it’s still fresh.
I like to write my planned menus down on the calendar in our kitchen. I map out two weeks’ worth of meals on my calendar but they are never, and I do mean never, made in the order that they’re listed. I put them up there so that I remember what my plan was and then just scratch them off as I make them.
2. Stick with your friends.
If you know that you cook with onions at least three times a week and you find that you’re a few dollars shy of your full box one week, by all means throw in a few more onions. Even if they’re not on the menu for that week you can always take ten minutes to prep them, put them in a baggie, and toss them in the freezer. It makes meal prep that much easier and means you can enjoy some seasonal items even when they’re not in season. I have found this worked beautifully with mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, spinach, and green beans, to name a few.
3. Don’t be afraid to get out there and meet new people.
Part of the fun of being in the CSA is being introduced to new things. The Tull boys have good reasons for selecting the crops they grow which means we can take confidence in ordering a product that may be a little foreign to us.
4. Think outside the [recipe] box.
If you’re anything like me, and I like to believe that you are, then you can find yourself in a bit of a rut when it comes to meal planning. Like everyone else, I have my old tried-and-true standbys that I turn to time and again but sometimes routine can make cooking more of a chore than a pleasure. When I need to spice things up a bit, I look at the ingredients I’ve got available to me and then head to Google. You would be surprised what turns up when you enter a few items and tag on the word “recipe.” I also like to add the words “quick, easy, delicious,” to help narrow my search. As a means of backing up this point, I direct your attention to Exhibit A, the recipe for this week which was inspired by recipes I came across when using the search words “Mexican broccoli.”
If you are blessed to have good cooks in your life, lean on them as well. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve picked up the phone and called my mom or my sister to ask, “What’s for dinner? No. Not at your house, at mine?”
And remember, if you’re a little lacking in the recipe support area, that’s what I’m here for! Feel free to leave a comment or send an email requesting recipes and I’ll do my best to help out.
Included with this post is a list of tips and tricks from HGF on ways to keep your produce fresh, ensuring you the most possible time to use that delicious produce.
Come back next week for “The Ultimate Comfort Food: Mom’s Chicken Noodle Soup.”
Till then, happy cooking!
I perused my fridge this afternoon and discovered I had two heads of broccoli that needed to be used up. Our menu for tonight included Beef Enchiladas with a side of beans and needed just one more thing to round out the meal. Hello, broccoli and my trusted pal Google! Below is the oh-so-delicious result. Don’t believe me? Make it yourself. But be sure to double it because these bad boys were so irresistible that they barely made it from the cookie sheet to our plates before we scarfed them all up!
The Home Grown Mom’s Mexican Roasted Broccoli
2 crowns of broccoli
2 tsp Montreal Steak Seasoning
½ tsp Cumin
1/8 cup olive oil
2 Tbs. minced garlic
1/8 cup sesame oil
1-2 tsp. Chili Powder (depending on your heat preference)
1. Wash broccoli and slice into spears, leaving the stems long, then place in a bowl.
2. Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the broccoli, toss to coat.
3. Spread the coated broccoli on a greased cookie sheet and place in the oven at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Turn the broccoli once during cooking to ensure even crisping. Remove from the oven when the edges are browned/blackened to your liking and devour. Trust me, that’s what’s going to happen.