Thinking Inside the (CSA) Box

This is what it looks like outside. Yuck.

Can't wait to sweep these leaves. Not.

I should have known that posting about warm weather would inevitably bring a torrential rainstorm, drowning all hopes I had of an early spring. We’ve gotten pretty much non-stop rain for the past 3 or 4 days. And while I was enjoying the first cherry blossoms and near constant sunshine, the truth is that we need this rain. This has been an extremely dry year and if we hadn’t gotten this late-season downpour we might be heading towards another drought. I am made even more accutely aware of this need for rain because we subscribe to a local CSA. For those of you who don’t know, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. All CSAs do things a little differently but basically it boils down to subscribers buying a share of the produce a farm grows in a season and receive their share in weekly boxes of produce. The farm is local to its subscribers, the produce is seasonal and as far as I know most of it is also organic. Our CSA Terra Firma Farm is pretty awesome because instead of having to subscribe for an entire season subscribers can have the cost of their weekly box deducted from a pre-paid amount of at least $100. From what I’ve gathered from my research many other CSAs require you to pay for the entire season upfront. The great thing about Terra Firma is that if we feel like taking a break from subscribing we can just put our account on hold. Same thing if we go on vacation. Our account is always there when we want to return.

So as I was saying, subscribing to a CSA has made me more aware of how seriously the weather can affect agriculture. On the day we pick up the box (Wednesday) we also receive an email telling us exactly what’s in each size box and also why and how it came to be in our box. If an unexpected week of non-stop rain knocks out a bunch of newly planted tomato seedlings then the tomato season will most likely be delayed and something else will be in our boxes to take its place in the summer. It can be a real bummer when we’ve been expecting a crop to start appearing in our boxes during a particular month only to have to wait a while. That’s why I was so excited this week because we got our first bunch of asparagus of the season!! Even with the rain, I still view it as a sure sign that spring is just around the corner.

In the box: spinach, tangelos, oranges, leeks, sweet potatoes, asparagus

Another great thing about Terra Firma (no, they did not sponsor this post, if that’s what you’re wondering) is that they include a new recipe in their weekly emails using only ingredients from the box and some pantry essentials. I’ve included this week’s recipe, Leek-Asparagus Stirfry. I haven’t tried this out yet but will let you know how we like it. It’s on the menu for dinner tomorrow and we plan on adding chicken. Enjoy!

Recipe –  Leek-Asparagus Stir Fry

You can add marinated, sauteed tofu, fresh or dried mushrooms, or chicken to this recipe to make it heartier.

Remove the zest from 1 tangelo and place in a bowl.  Juice the tangelo and add to the bowl along with 2 T. soy sauce.

Mince fresh ginger to make 1 T. and add to the sauce.

Heat the sauce in a small pan.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until it reduces by half.  Remove from heat.

In another small bowl, mix together 3 T. water and 2 t. cornstarch.

Clean 2 leeks and remove the tops, then cut in half top to bottom and then thinly slice them lengthwise.

Trim or “snap” the bottoms off 1 bunch of asparagus.  Cut them into 2 inch pieces and then slice the thicker pieces in half so they are roughly the same thickness as the tips.

Stir fry the leeks in 2 T. canola oil, adding a dash of hot pepper flakes if you like.  Cook on high heat until the leeks are completely soft.

Add the asparagus and cook for 3-4 minutes.  It should turn bright green.

Combine the sauce and the water with cornstarch.  Add the wok and cook another 2 minutes.  Don’t cook too long or the sauce will become gluey.

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