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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.

Spring Forward

Yup, totally didn’t know the whole set your clocks forward thing was today. Not in the “Oh yeah, I knew that was coming up soon but I just spaced it” kind of way. I simply had absolutely no idea it was coming up at all until Rob came home last night and told me so. I would like to chime in here and ask that I be granted a reprieve for being so completely disconnected from the world. Um, I gave birth 32 days ago. Forgiven? Good. Let’s move on.

Perhaps as a subconscious attempt at reversing yesterday’s brain fart, today was actually quite eventful. After waking up at the crack of 10:30 and quickly realizing “&*%&, it’s actually 11:30” we hoped out of bed, straightened the apartment (kind of) before my parents showed up around noon. My parents live about 3 hours away on a lake outside the Yosemite gate so a visit from them is a rare treat. Although I will say the addition of a grandchild to our household has significantly increased the frequency of their visits. Who knew!Also, it turns out that another advantage besides them visiting more is that now they bring us delicious food when they come! And do the dishes afterwards! It’s a win-win-win situation for sure. Today was spaghetti and meatballs and a salad. Yessssssss.

Since I’m an only child and we’ve sort of preliminarily decided that Ophelia will also be an only child (future baby fever be damned) my parents seem to be soaking up grandparenthood more than most people, my dad especially. I love watching the two of them stare at each other, enraptured, while my dad babbles. When my mom stayed with us for a week after Ophelia was born I could see her really becoming a grandparent. She’s still neurotic about safety like she was/is with me as a parent (love you mom!) but I can see her slipping into enjoying the role of spoiler. I already daydream about all the adventures she will have with her grandparents up in the mountains, all the hikes she’ll go on, the mushroom hunts, the days spent swimming in the lake. I think about my dad teaching her how to make jewelry and my mom teaching her how to cook. It’s safe to say I daydream about her childhood regarding almost everything but especially the time she will spend up at Pine Mountain Lake. I hope it’s as magical as what I imagine for her.

The day got even better when we hit Fenton’s for dessert. I don’t think there’s anything else more quintessentially Oakland than Fentons. Maybe the Grand Lake Theatre. Or drive-bys. Okay, that was a bad joke. But a little bit true.

My parents split a Black and Tan (another classic) and I weenie-ed out and got a petite sundae with Rocky Road and hot fudge. But Rob got some amazingly huge Girl Scout cookie sundae with Thin Mints in it. My parents laughed at the size of it and swore up and down he wouldn’t finish it. I knew better.

This…

…quickly became this…

and then was finished. Rob’s non-chalance was the best part.

Afterwards we said our goodbyes and my parents started on their drive back to the boonies. Rob and I decided to head over to the Municipal Rose Gardens for a quick stroll. Being the end of winter the actual roses were non-existent but it felt nice to be outside for a while. I’m certainly gearing up for spring and warm weather and all the cooking, gardening, BBQing etc that goes along with it. Hurry up spring!

Tuesdays with Mary

ImageImageThe “weekend” around Casa de Reggiardo is quite a loose term. Rob is off early on Saturdays (6 instead of 9) and then off Sundays, which we usually spend just the 3 of us. Rob works Mondays and then is off again on Tuesdays. It ends up feeling like a stretched-out kinda sorta weekend that we’ve grown to like. Our weekly Tuesday night dinner ritual started a few months back and has persisted despite our move, a new baby and a new class schedule for Mary. In fact, I went into labor on one such Tuesday night. Not only did we not cancel dinner that night but we continued the very next Tuesday- with the addition of our six-day-old daughter. I don’t think the ritual is fading anytime soon!

Tuesdays look something like this: Rob and I get up in the late morning and until recently have had an appointment with our midwife Noah pretty much every week. Now that Ophelia is a month old they’re waning in frequency 😦 After Noah leaves Rob and I head out with a recipe in mind and a grocery list in hand. We hit Trader Joe’s and usually the Marin Sun Farms counter at Market Hall if that night’s recipe calls for meat (I’ll delve further into my ridiculously high standards for meat in a later post). Mary stops for bread, cheese and wine after her class ends at 6 then gets on BART and makes it over to our place by 7. Rob usually starts cooking when she gets here and we nosh on appetizers and drink too much wine until dinner is ready. By that point Mary and Rob have usually launched into their passionate debate for the night. I’ve heard it cover everything from disagreements over Mary’s love life to Princess Diana’s untimely death. I mean it when I say those two could argue about anything.

We take turns passing around the baby and when the conversation dies down around 11 Mary is usually starting to fall asleep on the couch. Every week we offer for her to sleep over and every week she declines. It’s a ritual. Then she walks back to BART and Rob and I clear dishes that we’ll put off washing until tomorrow.

The thing about Tuesday Night Dinners is that while it usually comes together seamlessly, the whole production isn’t really easy for any of us. Mary comes all the way out to Oakland after a long day of school and walks/ BARTs home completely wiped out after the whole thing. Rob and I have to specially plan, shop and pay for dinner. We are usually trying to show off our skills a bit for Mary so the meal is rarely simple and there is ALWAYS dessert. Oh yeah, and pretty much everything that could be made by us, is made by us. That included the ice cream in the sundaes we had a few weeks back. And I clean the kitchen the following morning which is always a disaster zone. It’s a lot of work for a few hours of food, wine and conversation every week but the ritual persists because we love it. Because we look forward to it every week. Because we wouldn’t see each other nearly as often if we didnt make it a priority. Because we laugh and laugh and laugh and then fall asleep happy. Tuesday nights are perfect. I think we’ll stick with them.

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