CSA: Charleston– the season ends

Almost two weeks ago, we got our final Pinckney’s Produce CSA box of the fall season.  It has taken me this long to get a post up about it because without another box’s arrival to give us a deadline, we had the opportunity to eat the last shipment of veggies at our leisure, which, though I did freeze a little bit of it, proved my theory that each box was at least two weeks’ food for us.  Here’s what we got:

  • 5 sweet potatoes
  • 2 heads broccoli
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 bunch collards
  • 3 bunches spinach
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 head cabbage
  • 1 eggplant
  • lots of green beans
  • lots of tomatoes

The first night I made a variation on one of our favorite dishes, Rachael Ray’s Italian Tuna Casserole (I have the cook book this recipe is from, but someone recreated it here).  Tuna casserole is one of my comfort foods, and I’m a big fan of this recipe.  Jon suggested adding in one of the heads of broccoli, and so this recipe used up one of those as well as two of the bunches of spinach.  This recipe fed us for a couple of days, plus at least one lunch for me.

The kale was used up another night in this pasta with sausage and kale, which was almost as good as the bacon and collard linguine we’ve loved this season.

Another night I tried Smitten Kitchen’s sweet potato gratin, substituting collards for the suggested kale, to great effect.  Jon wasn’t a HUGE fan of this dish, as he is sort of burnt out on sweet potatoes lately, but I loved it. So delicious.  I highly recommend using a food processor to slice the potatoes nice and thin, otherwise you’d be chopping for hours.  This dish would be a great one to take to a Thanksgiving potluck, for sure.  One recipe fed us for at least two nights, plus at least one lunch for me.

sweet potato and greens gratin

Jon specially requested that I make my “signature green beans,” which he thinks are some sort of amazing creation, but are really just green beans stir-fried with soy sauce, ginger, and onions.  We had them along with some mahi and rice one night, and again with some salmon another.

Despite the fact that we had plenty of time to eat all the veggies, there was still basically no way we were going to get them all eaten before they went bad, so I made a pasta sauce out of the eggplant, bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, and tomatoes, and froze it all in baggies.

This left the cabbage, which we ate as a pizza and in soup, which I expect will feed me for lunch this week.  Nothing beats soup and homemade bread on a rainy Sunday, and I have to say this No Time Bread, which only takes about an hour total, as opposed to an entire day’s rise, is really delicious.

So, our CSA season is over, though I must say we’ll be enjoying its bounty for weeks to come, thanks to all the goodies I socked away in the freezer.  For the friends who have been wondering how we got it all in there, check out these pictures, and notice I even had room for the Thanksgiving turkey:

I asked Jon if he had any final CSA thoughts to share, and he said “It’s great, you should do it.”  He also said he hopes to always be a CSA member whenever possible.  I have to say I agree.  It felt great to eat according to our values, to know we were supporting a local farmer and family and not unfair labor or a giant corporation, to know that tons of emissions weren’t released just shipping our food to us, to know that as little pesticides and other chemicals as possible were used.  On top of all that, the food was just delicious, and we even got to try new things we’d never used before, like rutabagas, beets, turnips, and greens.  We got to eat in connection with the season and our local climate, eating according to nature’s plan, rather than our own whims, and this made us feel more rooted to our community.  Sure, it took some planning, some sense of adventure, and some effort, but it also inspired us to take a slower approach to our food in other areas, whether it was me baking my own bread, or Jon’s efforts to make peanut butter (unsuccessful, ultimately, but his honey-roasted peanuts were delicious).

I can’t say that we felt healthier or had more energy or were able to leap tall buildings in a single bound thanks to our new diet.  Neither of us was looking to diet or lose weight, but we did drop a few pounds– I’m down a pants size and Jon thinks he lost at least 5 pounds (we don’t have a scale in the house, so he weighed himself at work).  I’m sure this weight loss was probably due mostly to our eating a lot less meat than we had previously.

Ultimately, I’m sure we’ll be signing up for another season with our CSA, and I would encourage you to look into CSA programs in your area.  If you don’t want to deal with the sheer volume of veggies we had in our share, you can get half size or even individual shares, or you could go in with friends and share a large-sized box.  I assure you you’ll be challenged and will have to try new things both as a matter of taste and preparation, but I also assure you that you will find the experience satisfying and rewarding.  As Thanksgiving arrives this week, I’ll be making a sweet potato pie out of my last CSA veggies, and will be giving thanks for the family and farm that fed us this fall.

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4 thoughts on “CSA: Charleston– the season ends

  1. i’m impressed with the neatness of your freezer! laying the bags flat to freeze undoubtedly helped with freezing your bounties. i miss my side-by-side fridge/freezer as when we moved into our house it came with a new regular top freezer/bottom fridge which i maintain is harder to keep organized. we just couldn’t get rid of the new fridge just to replace it.

    but i digress.

    i’m impressed with your kitchen prowess. i’d definitely consider a CSA were i not working full-time in order to invest more time & effort in meal-planning & cooking. that’s a luxury that perhaps i can look forward to one day.

    thanks for sharing your adventures!

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  2. The thing about spending time meal planning and cooking ahead is that you end up with a freezer like that that saves time for months. Freezer cooking has been so good to me – coming home at the end of a day and just grabbing whatever I decided to defrost the night before is well worth the occasional Saturday of cooking like mad.

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  3. I wish my freezer looked half as neat as yours! We froze a lot of corn on the cob and fruits over the summer, so none of that lays flat. We were also fortunate that my family saved us a lot of veggies that were grown in their garden … but, again, definitely not frozen flat. In essence, our freezer is a mess, with stuff crammed everywhere, but we have a lot of good fruits, veggies and even a couple of different kinds of soup stored up!

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