One of the things I really love about having a CSA membership is that it is full of potential energy. I get my email from Five Points Farm Market with the list of goodies that will be available in my CSA, and I just get excited. Okra? Poblano peppers? Eggplant? Oh my! What will I do with these things?
And then, I actually go. While Amanda holds the bag, I pick out zucchini, peaches, blueberries, okra, peppers, eggplant, and green tomatoes (or, you know, whatever else they have that week). I turn the produce over in my hands. I tap the bottoms of the eggplant, insisting on picking an eggplant that has clearly been treated like a lady (if any of you remember that ridiculous, awful Freddie Prinze Jr. movie, Down to You, and perhaps watched it 247 times like my sister and I did, you may remember the scene in which Henry Winkler instructs the studio audience of his cooking show on how to pick out an eggplant; my sister, alas, may be one of the four people who will get that reference).
And not even halfway home, Amanda and I look at each other and ask, “So… what will we make with our food?” I’ve never cooked with poblano peppers; Hell, jalapenos are still new to me. Poblano is certainly not in my repertoire. Eggplant I can handle, but I don’t want to do the same tired eggplant parmesan. Same goes for zucchini. I’ve never cooked with okra, but I have a strict no-slimy-okra policy.
Really, this is what I love about the CSA: the challenge. The research. Learning about a food I’ve never cooked before, where it’s from, what its flavor profile is, how it reacts when heated, dried, sauteed, fried, etc. And then cooking and eating it.
One of my favorite bloggers, In Her Chucks, hosts a link party for CSA goodies each week; if you are also cooking your way through a box of produce, you should definitely check out her blog. One of the blogs I found through her site actually listed the plans that particular blogger had for her CSA box, and I want to steal that idea, setting out my intentions in advance, even if I don’t keep them later.
Poblano Peppers: Right now, we’re not sure! Amanda has tossed out the option of chili rellenos, and I have expressed interest in a mole sauce. We’ll see.
Eggplant: Amanda has suggested a plan to roast eggplant, cherry tomatoes, and zucchini, maybe with a little bacon or pancetta or prosciutto (okay, the pork is my amendment to her suggestion), and some garlic, and toss the whole mess with pasta and fresh basil and parsley.
Zucchini: see above.
Green tomatoes: Finally! Fried green tomatoes, I will OWN you this week. Southern Living‘s latest issue had a great selection of recipes for sauces to accompany fried green tomatoes, and I’m trying them out.
Blueberries: My friend Leslie is coming over for coffee tomorrow, so I’m toying with making a blueberry buckle, a lovely blueberry coffee cake that is pretty much comfort and familiarity in a Pyrex baking dish. Beyond that, those suckers are getting each by the handful or over my yogurt each morning.
Peaches: Okay, let’s be real here. The options are endless. Amanda just got the new issue of Fine Cooking, which has a recipe for Sugar Roasted Peaches, which I want in my belly. There’s also pie, scones, or just raw, eaten over the sink with juices dripping down my arm.
Okra: I’ve never cooked with okra, but I’ve had it fried and liked it. I’m also toying with grilling it. Anyone ever tried that?
Should be a tasty week! Stay tuned for recipes as I continue my CSAcation, and check out In Her Chucks feature What’s In the Box for more CSA recipe ideas!