After years of eating out of the Full Belly Farm CSA box, I tend not to follow recipes carefully. I use recipes and cook books all the time, getting inspiration and ideas that way, but with an allium, some herbs, some greens, and some roots at this time of year, a satisfying number of combinations seem to manifest, so around my dinner table, we are at ease making substitutions and carrying out kitchen experiments .
If you got a box every week last year, or on the other hand, if you are a new CSA member, I hope that you are becoming comfortable with this experimental approach. Full Belly offers a tremendous diversity of vegetable and fruit options — You are probably eating a much more diverse sample of vegetables than if you were shopping in a grocery store. For example, you might have thought you didn’t like broccoli, but when you start experimenting with it, you are likely to find recipes that work well for your palate (at least, that is my hope – there were almost 15 broccoli weeks last year.)
Every year, the combination of fruits and vegetables in the CSA box from season to season, is different because of ever-changing weather and farming conditions, but during the cool weather a ‘seasoned’ CSA member can predict that there will be some combination of an allium (fresh garlic, onion, or leek), probably oranges and carrots, either winter squash or potatoes, and usually a root, with the rest being less predictable. In the summer, tomatoes, melons and other fruit are the staples.
I know that right now, there are some of our CSA members who think that they’ve been getting cabbage FOREVER (this year, since January, it has been in the boxes every other week, so there have been 3 cabbage weeks…) During 2016 as a whole, there were almost 13 cabbage weeks, and 2017 is likely to be similar. Greens as a whole — kale, collards, chard, spinach and cabbage often get doubled up during the cool season (fall, winter and spring), which I think is excellent since greens make a good staple in the cool-weather diet when soups, stews, and pasta stir-fry are a good formula for staying healthy.
I was happy to find that we put fruit in the CSA boxes 41 weeks out of the 48 that we make deliveries. The list of CSA-box fruit included grapes (11 weeks), oranges (11 weeks), peaches (7 weeks), pomegranates (4 weeks), strawberries (3 weeks), apricots (2 weeks), asian pears (1 week). This doesn’t even include the Melons and a few Watermelons which we view as a category all of their own and sent to our CSA members 10 times last summer.
Another staple in the Full Belly box are members of the Allium family: Garlic (either fresh or dry), Onions (either fresh or dry) and Leeks. The Alliums were in the CSA boxes 44 out of the 48 weeks that we delivered. Often the first thing we do when we are preparing a meal in our kitchen, is start chopping up a member of the Allium family.
Aside from cabbage, another set of vegetables that might be problematic to the CSA newcomer are some of the roots. Things like Turnips (11 weeks), Rutabagas (4 weeks) and Watermelon Daikon (2 weeks). All of these can be stored well (after removing any greens) and roasted or stewed. I have also learned to make some of them into raw salads, by wilting them with a little bit of salt. The roots are a way to connect to the land and soil — hearty, nourishing and simple.
What vegetables are at the bottom of the list? Fennel (only twice) and Artichokes (only twice). In between the staples and the scarce, there is a diverse list, including: Potatoes (20 weeks), Carrots (17 weeks), Peppers (16 weeks), Beets (12 weeks), Winter Squash (12 weeks), Eggplant (8 weeks), Green Beans (7 weeks), Cucumbers (6 weeks) and Asparagus (alas, only 4 weeks).
Happy cooking and Blessings on Your Meals!