New Year, New CSA

I’m lounging in bed on a lazy Saturday morning, listening to the chirps of young birds and looking out the window at the baby leaves of a maple tree and the last blossoms of a yellow forsythia bush. I’m so grateful that spring has arrived; I love the winter, but part of that love is in knowing that it ends. And this year, spring is not just in the yard and outdoor parts of our life, but on our plates: yesterday was the first pick-up day for a new-to-us CSA!

We’ve explored many CSA options over the last several years – Simpaugh Farms from West Suffield, CT last year with a weekly delivery to a nearby farmer’s market; Norwich Meadows Farm from Westchester, CT two years ago with home delivery every week; and when I lived in Manhattan I supported Windflower Farms from Valley Falls, NY (right down the street from where my Nana lives) for years – they had a share delivery directly to my neighborhood.

This winter, I saw a post for The Hickories on Instagram, and was over the moon with excitement; this beautiful farm is just 12 miles from our home.  They use hoop and green houses in addition to fields so their growing season is exquisitely long and the CSA shares run from the end of April through Thanksgiving, and include a wonderful variety of vegetables, fruits, herbs, preserves, and pick-your-own crops. Members collect shares every week directly from the farm stand, which is attached to the sheep barn!

Yesterday I visited the farm for the first time. After a 28-minute drive through beautiful winding roads, I met Farmer Laura and the baby lambs – the little nibbler in this photo came over to the fence to greet me and lick my hands.

Inside a barn a small white lamb nibbles hay. In the foreground, two brown lambs and one white lamb rest.

Lambs!

After spending some time with the wooly friends, Laura brought me back into the farm stand room and showed me how collection works. I signed myself in for the week, and brought my giant canvas bag to the wall of CSA produce bins to collect our share:

  • I weighed out a half-pound of beautiful spinach leaves
  • Collected a bag of freshly picked and washed arugula
  • Gathered a bunch of bright Hakurei turnips
  • And another of lovely scallions
  • Was introduced to a bouquet of kale raab
  • And chose a beautiful jar of salsa verde

Yesterday’s share newsletter was a wonderful education in raabs: these are the first new growth of bolted brassica plants (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, etc) each spring, and are entirely edible! I’ve eaten broccoli raab but had never seen it or any other growing; since my bunch still had a few flowers attached, I cradled it like a bouquet.

In years past, figuring out how to store our veggies was a big part of share day, but now that I’m using The Jar Method of prepping and storing the produce that comes into our kitchen, it was nearly effortless to put these beauties away.

Week 1 Share: Kale Raab, Salsa Verde, Spinach, Hakurei Turnips, Arugula, Scallions

Week 1 Share: Kale Raab, Salsa Verde, Spinach, Hakurei Turnips, Arugula, Scallions

I stored the Kale Raab and the Scallions each in a 1-quart mason jar of water as a bouquet. I dried the spinach and arugula leaves and tucked each into their own half-gallon mason jar, with a bit of folded up paper towel at the bottom to absorb moisture. The salsa came in it’s own packaging. The turnips have given me a bit of trouble so currently they’re still in a bunch on the counter. Storage tips welcome!

The other ingredients will be so easy to use, though:

  • We used a third of the raab in a shrimp linguine dish last night, and the rest will be chopped for tomorrow night’s stir-fry along with the scallions.
  • The salsa verde is just what we need to make our favorite InstantPot chili with pork shoulder from the freezer.
  • The spinach will become a salad, along with strawberries, goat cheese, pecans, and some balsamic dressing.
  • Arugula is a wonderful sandwich topping for turkey sandwiches, especially with hummus and red pepper tapenade as the condiments. Time to get some bread dough rising…
  • As for those turnips? I’m a sucker for a pun and a huge fan of poutine, so am seriously considering an adaptation of this Turnip the Disco Fries recipe.

(If anything we make is worthy of sharing, Clay will certainly post about the adventure.)

P.S. While at the farm stand I also bought a bouquet of antique tulips and a new-to-me magazine: Edible Nutmeg. I’m looking forward to digging in later this weekend!

Edible Nutmeg (Spring 2019 edition) and Antique Tulips

Edible Nutmeg (Spring 2019 edition) and Antique Tulips

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