Wednesday, May 30, 2012

CSA Opening, Karma, and Bok Choy Salad

Despite my healthy UU skepticism, there are times when I feel like there is karmic justice in the universe.

This is the third year we've been members of a CSA, and I feel like that this year I may have finally gotten it right.  The first year, we had a full share of (read: way too much) high-quality organic produce from a lovely farm that was also too far away for us to take advantage of the additional pick-your-own perks (e.g. we missed out the week they allowed members to pick ten quarts of strawberries each).  I was newly pregnant and anxious about it, and have not-too-fond memories of eating too much lettuce for lunch, and really wanting to toss my proverbial cookies, but not wanting my co-workers to find out that I was expecting.

Last year I was freshly unemployed, and was dealing with an infant who refused to nap, and a much more reasonable half share from more local farm that unfortunately insisted on giving us poor quality (and even rotten) produce, week after week.  I lost energy after a while because I couldn't stand the disappointment of bug-infested lettuce, worm-eaten squash, and rotten melons, on top of sleep deprivation.

This year, we have a half share (which I think is the right amount for a family with one young child, one picky todder, one carnivore, and one mostly-vegetarian) at a local farm whose owners I already love.  When we went to the farm for the open house/orientation on Saturday, I felt like I'd been invited over for mint lemonade.  We strolled through the fields and saw a large variety of beautiful-looking produce, got a tour of the greenhouse, talked about their farming practices and recent organic certification, and got a "practice" (free) pickup to take home, just because some of the veggies were ready.  We have a pickup day that will allow me to grocery shop partway through the week's share, and I have promised myself that I will try to be less stressed out about figuring out the entire week's menu by pickup time; I can let the share "speak to me" (and go rummaging around my refrigerator and the internet).  Even with a mound of greens confronting me, I went home and made kale chips and salads for our Memorial Day barbecue, and was reminded of why I love summer so much.

And--this is the amazing karma part--I *won* the half share.

We'd already signed up and paid for the summer on the recommendation of a friend, back in February, and I was feeling a little guilty about the expense, given the two less-than-fabulous experiences we'd had, especially since I'm still not working.  In March, the farm sponsored a raffle via Facebook, offering a half share to people who were willing to re-post the call for members on their own pages.  Being a believer in local eating, it was a no-brainer; I would have done it even if there weren't a raffle.  Months went by, and I forgot about the contest.  Until late last week, when I got an email letting me know that I'd won.

Would you believe me when I said I started jumping up and down, squealing with delight?

It couldn't have been better timing.  (Did I mention that we just found out we need an entirely new central A/C unit -- goodbye $4K, and that I lost my diamond from my engagement ring, and that we had a shampoo cap drop down the drain to the tune of $200 ...)

With apologies to my lovely readers from the southern hemisphere, for whom this will be all backwards, I present: the first CSA salad of the season.  It's not Perfect Moment Monday, but it sure feels like it.  I'm giving thanks for this bounty already.

Bok Choy Salad
The original recipe from the MACSAC cookbook Asparagus to Zucchini suggests that you salt the vegetables, let them sit for half an hour, and squeeze them dry.  I omitted that step, changed some things around, and it worked out just fine.  I've never used bok choy in a raw salad before, and it was a refreshing change.

1 bunch bok choy, sliced (leaves separately from stems if you have larger bok choy)
1 c. kolhrabi or daikon radish (both peeled and shredded)
1/2 c. red pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 c. thinly sliced green onion
2 t. chopped cilantro
2 t. chopped mint 
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
3 T. rice vinegar
2 t. honey (or agave)
1/4 c. slivered almonds, toasted

Toss together the vegetables and herbs.  Stir together rice vinegar, honey, and slivered almonds.  Pour dressing over salad, toss to coat.  Add slivered almonds and serve.
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  1. Congrats on your win! I hope your experiences are better this year -- you'll definitely do better than breaking even, right?

    1. In some ways, yes! (I just wish the air conditioner hadn't broken, too! ;) But I will revel in those salads ...

  2. If I couldn't win, I'm delighted that you did! You will NOT be disappointed this year. What day is your pickup? If you ever get stuck, I'd be happy to pickup for you.

    1. Jeanne, I owe this to you! Thank you so much for "advertising" for the farm!!!

  3. Mmm, beautiful salad! And I'm so glad you found a CSA that works for you. It makes all the difference when you feel a real connection to the farm that your food is coming from. And a free season to boot--that's fantastic.

    1. Thanks, Fork! And ... LOVE the Portland market! I was there long ago and hope to return some day ...

  4. Congrats on the win! We plan on joining a CSA but not this year - too much with a little one here, I rely so heavily on my meal plans right now. However I am really looking forward to joining next year when things can be a bit more relaxed and yet food will still show up on my dining room table. :)

    1. Jenn, that is wise ... I was totally overwhelmed last year when N. was still a tiny one! I hope that a kind neighbor brings you a surprise meal with seasonal veggies. :)

  5. Congrats on your win! I am going to look into doing this next year. I am also getting into growing some of my own stuff since we have some garden room now. My Mom grows all different stuff every year and hands me a bag full every time I go over.


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