The Newbie Chronicles: Week 5

Just picked up my Week 5 CSA half-share.  After five weeks, I’ve observed and learned a few things.  Let me share them with you.  See if you can relate:

Week 5 - 1

  • The Salad Spinner is my friend. I’ve eaten more salads in the last month than in the last year.  My wife loves them.  I like them, too.  But they are getting a little tiresome.
  • When you go on vacation, the veggies don’t go along. We took a six-day trip between Week 2 and 3, leaving the day after picking up Week 2 produce and returning on pickup day for Week 3.  I’m thankful to Aaron and Alec for letting me pick up my half-share at the Fulton Street Farmers Market.  Still, I effectively had two weeks of produce to consume.  In fact, I still have leftover produce.  And now, I’m about to take a long Independence Day weekend trip and more veggies will accumulate!  I am grateful I only signed up for a half-share.
  • I have Kohlrabi coming out my…3 bulbs and counting. I finally used one in a stir-fry on Sunday.  My wife ate one raw for lunch today (Yoopers do the strangest things).  One more to go!
  • And I have Tatsoi tagging along. One of the neat things about the CSA is exposure to new (to me) veggies.  Some I can’t find in area stores.  Some I don’t think Whole Foods carried back in Dallas.  I know I’ve never seen Garlic Scapes before.  This isn’t a problem.  It’s a new learning experience.
  • The Learning Curve thing: The CSA isn’t just another store.  I don’t simply substitute my half-share for what I used to buy at retail stores.  I pick it up (easy), see what I get (easy), mentally start processing (not so easy):  Which night will we eat this?  Have I got a recipe for that?  Where will I store it?  Wait, the fridge still has leftovers from Sunday – will the produce fit?  Uh oh, too late, something is wilting in the fridge…  I don’t have a container big enough for some of those leafy thingies.  How long do I have before they go totally blah?  Can I revive them?  Someone pour me a beer before I pull out my hair!
  • Recipes I have, or can get. I’ve got books, friends, and the Internet, ya know.  Trouble is, it takes me a few times with a recipe before I’m comfortable.  The first time I make something, my results range from an edible failure to a bland success (oh, so that’s what they meant in Step 3).  New produce and new recipes mean new disasters.  My wife, a gardener, says you’re not trying if you don’t kill some plants.  Hope she’s as understanding when my Tatsoi meal turns to yuck.
  • No, I do NOT cook 7 days a week! This chef takes a break.  But then I feel guilty with all that produce in my fridge.  Maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing, surfacing.
  • The CSA produce has flavor! Much of the produce I bought in grocery stores had no taste.  The long lead times for transport, warehousing, and distribution meant veggies were picked before they developed their characteristic flavors.  Or they’d been selected and bred for their looks and survivability to market, at the expense of taste.  It’s great to once again have veggies that taste like, veggies!
  • Finally, I can walk to the market. I conveniently live near the Blandford Farm.  I can actually walk over and pick up my veggies.  Talk about local.  No waste of gas to buy food.  The last time I could do that was in 1973 in my hometown of Swanton, Ohio (population about 3000).

Week 5

Am I keeping score here?  Nope, just keeping a log of what’s going on.  It’ll give me fodder for a future blog post, too.  I’m actually having a fun time changing my relationship with food.  See you soon.

About the newbie: Newbie Dave Gillen didn’t want to eat hotdogs for the rest of his life, so he learned to cook. His mother taught him to boil water, fry an egg, and make oatmeal cookies. Dave forgot how to make the cookies, barely remembered how to fry eggs, but is spot on at boiling water. Currently, he divides his days between being wife Lois’ in-house techno geek and personal chef…and walking his greyhounds.

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