Out of the Box – Winter CSA Recipes

February 17, 2012

“How’s that GOING for you?”, our friends have been asking.

You would have think we adopted a baby, or something (we did NOT.)

They’re asking about our new relationship with our farmer at RiverDog Farms – one that deserves ample exploration.

Once a week, around 2pm, he arrives, having driven all the way from Guinda – a couple of hours into the country. We never know what he is bringing, in the big, meticulously packed boxes he brings, and sometimes we don’t even see him….but without fail, I scurry to the vestibule to peel back the parchment in one of the boxes and peek in. This week, it was little gem lettuces, early carrots, kabocha, oranges, spring onions, romanesco, broccoli, and cilantro. Last week, turnips, collards, rutabaga, beets, baby spinach, a butternut squash, and a couple of pounds of potatoes. Sounds, exciting, right?! But this little box has been a whole paradigm shift for us.

We have always eaten well – lots of organic veggies, whole grains, combined in healthy recipes with fresh flavors. Because work and life are busy, the farmer’s market always seems tricky to get to. Still, I love grocery stores and local markets, laid out like boutiques, with romantic lighting and comforting shopping spaces. But one can get lost in there, and end up walking out carrying armloads items to be combined in ingredient intensive recipes that are both costly, and without focus or seasonal attention. These ingredients may or may not be one step away from working with the farmer themselves, and so you have scooped up oranges from Chile (even though we grow OODLES of them here in California.) So, I like that this little box is good for our community – hands down.

I like to think that we live on the edge….so long as on the edge doesn’t mean eating potatoes, off-beat root vegetables, or bitter greens on a regular basis. I’m a creature of habit, and I have a repertoire that I’m not inspired to stray from when things get busy. But, having these “exotics” stare at me from the countertop or the icebox inspires me, in a chefly kind of way, to beat the clock to spoilage and think of some noble use for these gems. Lately, I have felt endlessly creative in the kitchen, and inspired to start dinner from scratch. Literally. Pickled carrots? Homemade marmelade? Pasta and sauces from the ground up? Yes.

On top of these perks, we’ve managed to trim our weekly food budget into thirds, are eating more variety (read, greater nutritional depth) AND I’ve even managed to pull my husband into the kitchen (whom makes the most amazing crepes, and carbonara, but doesn’t often help me with dinner in the evenings) so that we can tag-team recipes. I love having him cleaning fish, poaching eggs, or boiling homemade ravioli while pull things together. It’s a whole new way to catch up about the day.

I may have forgotten to mention that I’m back on a training calendar….I am.  I’m starving all the time, and gone are the days of haphazardly eating whatever I want (5 lbs on the bike is like 20lbs in the trunk. So, I have limited myself to only one chocolate croissant per week.) So, being that there has been so much more cooking (more than normal,) and more eating (well, maybe not) going on in our house, I though you all might enjoy some of healthy, rather easy recipes we’ve been pulling together for our athletic appetites. You might even be inspired to start a serious relationship with your very own farmer!

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