Eating Seasonally: Summer’s Bounty and a CSA Update

Hi!
Summertime is winding down here in the Pacific Northwest; the days are starting to get shorter and the mornings and evenings have a bit of crisp chilliness to them. 
Its raining today, which is welcomed! It seems like we’ve had a pretty dry summer and its nice to see rain. I know the plants appreciate it too.
Interestingly enough, my 4 year old daughter Ellie is out playing in the kiddie pool even though its raining. She sure loves the water!

We didn’t do a garden this year,but decided instead to participate in a CSA with a local organic farm. With baby Olivia joining our family in March I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get any seeds in the ground or take good care of them. I’m so glad we made it a priority to still have fresh vegetables every week!
Its been so much fun trying new veggies and learning to eat things that I NEVER would have tried otherwise.

Here are a few new veggies that we’ve eaten:

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Hakurei salad turnips. I had never even had turnips before, let alone put them in a salad! I absolutely love these turnips! They are crisp and fresh and sweet and seriously I can just bite into them and eat them like an apple. They’re that good. If we plant veggies next year, these will be one of the must-haves.

Beets. I’ve had pickled beets before and they weren’t my fave, so I was kind of scared to try fresh beets and had no idea how to cook them. It turns out, they are good peeled and sliced in salad, they add a really nice flavor to stir-fry (although they turn everything pink!) and are also yummy roasted with other root veggies.

Asian Greens.  This includes bok choy, pak choy (they’re two completely different things- pak choy is smaller), and this other really good one that I can’t remember the name of. They add such a nice flavor to stir-fries and soups! And of course they are good in salad too. 

Rainbow Chard. I was nervous about being able to find ways to eat this one as well, because I’d tried steamed chard before and hated it. But its super yummy in stir fry (see a theme? we have stir fry at least once a week now and love it!) and also good in salad. The lovely bright colored leaves and stalks are so pretty! 

Of course we have gotten all of the “normal” veggies that are usually front and center at the grocery store- carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, radishes, green beans, peas, spinach, kale, lettuce, basil, parsley, dill and many more. 
I’ve even been able to put up a few baggies of extra green beans and peas that we couldn’t eat, as well as some chard and kale for fall and winter soups. If you’re thinking of participating in Consumer Supported Agriculture, I definitely recommend it! Our CSA ends at the end of September and I’m already kind of sad that its almost over. If we can afford it I’d love to do it again next year, I really enjoy getting a nice big bag of delicious surprises every week. 

Honestly, there hasn’t been a vegetable that we’ve gotten and not liked. There are definitely favorites that we each have, but overall every single vegetable has been super fresh, flavorful and delicious.  

My grandpa has been giving us zucchini and cucumbers and potatoes and squash and corn from his garden as well, so my mom and I have been putting those up, blanching and freezing and making pickles and zucchini bread. 

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Lemon Cucumber Refrigerator Pickles

Now the apples and prunes are getting ripe and the blackberries are just finishing up- which means jam and pie and applesauce and maybe cider. Eating with the seasons has such a lovely rhythm to it. I love it!

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What do you think about eating seasonally? Have you tried it? Did you like it, or would you rather just go to the grocery store and get what you want year round? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

 

Learning To Eat In Season

This spring, we decided to purchase a CSA for our summer/early fall vegetables from a local organic farm school.

I’m so excited! My hubby and I have wanted to do a CSA for a couple years but haven’t been able to financially make it work til this year.  We’ll get to experiment with veggies we’ve never eaten and try new recipes to accommodate them, which will be fun and interesting to see how it works out. I’m going to be planning our weekly dinner menu around the veggies we get instead of making a menu and grocery list and then going and getting the food we’d need to make the recipes. The thought of this kind of makes my head spin- it’s completely opposite of what we’ve been doing.

What is a CSA?  It is community supported agriculture- you pay a local farmer and they give you a variety of fresh veggies every week for a set time- like 20 weeks, from June to September.  You may be able to find farms that offer CSA’s in your area by visiting localharvest.org or by doing a Google search. It’s a good way to support your local farmers and get delicious, pesticide and chemical free produce!

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I’m kinda stuck.

I thought I’d try to get some practice in and start this month, buying veggies and fruits that are on sale at the grocery store and trying not to buy stuff that is out of season. It’s harder than I thought it would be. I normally love making lists and planning what we’ll eat but I’m finding myself somewhat stumped this time around, trying to evaluate if what I’m thinking of making requires ingredients that are out of season or not. Maybe I’m thinking about it too deeply.

Looking at the grocery store sales paper; I had mixed feelings of what was on sale. Some things are great- like the organic oranges and lemons, but they still come from far away places like Mexico and Florida, which isn’t local by any means. Bananas are on sale, and we’ll buy them because they are cheap ($0.49 a lb!) and delicious, even though they are not from anywhere close by. And if we don’t eat them all, I can freeze them or make banana bread. yum!

Other things, like apples; are getting more expensive at the grocery store as the supply is beginning to dwindle. And honestly, apples at this time of year are not always that good- they can be mealy or over ripe and taste weird. But I love my peanut butter and apple slices and am sad that I have to wait until next fall to eat them again. Since I live in Washington, apples are always around…they just shoot WAY up in price, especially for organic ones. And paying $4 a pound is not my favorite thing to do, so we’ll probably cut back on the apples and peanut butter snacks and substitute something that is less expensive.

Broccoli is on sale, and we’ll get some of it for salads and as a side, and I like to have carrots and potatoes on hand for impromptu days of rain, which calls for chicken soup. But other than that, I’m having trouble.

So…could you help me out?

There are tons of greens that are in season right now- kale, spinach, lettuce, chard, Asian greens like bok choy. I’ll have to learn how to cook the chard/bok choy. I have no idea how to prepare them! So….if you know how to eat them and make them delicious, could you help me out and post a link or a recipe ? I’d SUPER appreciate it!

Also, I’d love to know your favorite spring vegetable and how you eat it, to give me some ideas. 🙂 Thanks!