Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Christmas on Tuesdays

Every other Tuesday since October has been like Christmas in our home.  Imagine getting a Christmas gift every other week that was beautiful, colorful, delicious, and incredibly valuable.  For fourteen days it fed you, made you feel fantastic, stretched your creativity, and taught you something you didn't know before.  And just when the novelty of your gift wore off, it was time to get another surprise gift.  Who wouldn't love that?

We liked the concept of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) when we first heard about it - supporting local farmers who grow organic produce.  But it took a few years and the testimonials of friends to finally take the step beyond looking for local, organic produce in Whole Foods and visiting the Farmer's Market on our occasional free Saturday mornings.  We joined the Bountiful Blessings Farm CSA as a little experiment.  Would we save money?  Would we be able to eat everything that came in the box?  Would we like the produce? 

Look at the gorgeous produce I picked up this afternoon.  And we just receive a half bushel.
Extra radishes were available for the taking.

Does anyone know what in the world this is?  Tomorrow I'll get an email entitled "What's In the Box?"  I'll read the description of every single vegetable and play the matching game.  Once I've figured out the name of each veggie in my delivery, it's time to figure out what to do with it.

We've roasted a lot of root vegetables this winter - squashes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, and onions roasted at 400 degrees with olive oil and sea salt.  Comfort food.

We've had a lot of stirfrys with kale, bok choi, collards, Swiss chard, turnips, and beet greens.  Thai Kitchen makes some great gluten-free sauces for stirfrying.

We've done a lot of research on what to do with salsafy, endive, escarole,  mache, sorrel, pac choi, tatsoi, mustard, kohlrabi, and the list goes on!

We've had a TON of salads.  Until we joined the CSA, I thought all lettuce tasted like...well, lettuce.  Did you know that lettuces actually have flavor?  And each type of lettuce has a different flavor?  Fresh, organic lettuce that was picked the day before you put it in your salad bowl is amazing!

We've also had a lot of smoothies.  Smoothies have always been a staple in our diet, but until this year our smoothies have mainly consisted of fruit.  A fellow gluten-free foodie, and the man who keeps the aches and pains at bay, Josh Renkens, turned me on to green smoothies last summer and gave me the website of the Vita-Mix Lady.  There are several veggies like spinach, kale, swiss chard, and collard greens that miraculously don't taste like vegetables when blended with other fruits.

So, this was our dinner tonight.  There is no way that the Husband would ever succeed in choking down that many vegetables in a meal, a day, or even two.  But he'll drink it.  Why?  Because it's delicious, not to mention incredibly good for you.

(The Husband's first taste test had to be done with eyes closed, because I'm not sure that he'd ever try a smoothie that looked like a shamrock shake.)

But doesn't this look delicious?

If you asked me for the recipe it would be next to impossible, because each green smoothie is different, but here's an example:

Green Smoothie
1 cup of milk, coconut milk, or almond milk
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/3 frozen banana
1 1/2 cups frozen fruit
1 tsp flaxseeds
10 almonds
two huge fistfuls of greens (start with spinach)

Blend in the Vita-Mix for a minute pushing the greens down with the tamper.  If you don't use frozen fruit, add ice on top of the greens.  It helps push greens down to the blades and makes a thicker smoothie.

I'd say that our CSA experiment has been a great success.  Have we saved money?  I have no idea.  I'd never buy half, no MOST of the produce that comes from our CSA.  I definitely buy less produce at the store.  Have we been able eat everything that comes in the box?  Just about.  There have been a few busy weeks when cooking hasn't been a priority.  And that's when the Husband says, "Throw it in the Vita-Mix."  Have we liked the produce?  Definitely.  What's not to like about fresh, delicious, organic vegetables?  I didn't expect to eagerly await Tuesdays.  I didn't expect to love the challenge of cooking new dishes.  I didn't expect to love our farmers, the sweet people who grow our food.  But Christmas on Tuesdays is full of unexpected and bountiful blessings.

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