Collard greens and clementines ~ Week of December 29th

These red potatoes are literally the most beautiful potatoes I've ever seen. They're like gorgeous glowing gems!

This box will be my last one for a while. I take breaks periodically to reevaluate if getting a CSA box is still the right fit for my lifestyle and my budget. Unfortunately the farmer’s market near my house is closed until April, so I need a new produce plan, stat. I’ve found over the last month or so that I’m composting more than I’d like when I don’t cook certain items in time. This is always a good indication that I need to switch over to more targeted shopping, where I plan menus and get ingredients for them, rather than the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants style of having a mystery assortment of fruits and vegetables arrive every other week. I love both methods and they tend to each work best for me at different times of my life.

I know the theme of this blog is “what comes in my CSA box,” but never fear! For starters, if you’re checking out CSA services for yourself, you can still find records of the box contents of three different CSAs – Eatwell Farms, Eating with the Seasons, and my current CSA, Farm Fresh to You – over in the righthand navigation column. For example, clicking on “Box Contents – Farm Fresh to You” will show you almost two years of box contents through the seasons, letting you check out the quantity and quality of the produce throughout the year.

Beyond the cataloguing of what arrives in a typical Bay Area CSA box, this blog is intended to be a resource for what to do with all those fruits and veggies, some of which can be quite mysterious, and perhaps others of which you’ve only ever tasted cooked in the most unpleasant ways. Even though I won’t be getting a CSA box right now, I’ll still be focusing on providing plenty of inspiration for what to do with seasonal bounty, whether it comes in a box or from the market.

In the righthand column under Categories you’ll find the Menu Plan Monday link, which will take you to two years’ worth of weekly menu plans, many with links, recipes, cookbook recommendations, and photos, with every meal including a variety of fresh, seasonal produce. The Recipes section (near the top of the righthand column) is organized by category – soups, vegetable sides, main-dishes, desserts, DIY ingredients – with a notation if the recipe is vegan and/or gluten-free (they almost all are). And the tag cloud (at the very bottom of the righthand column) allows for you to search for recipes by ingredient – just click on “chard” to see posts, recipes, and meal plan ideas featuring chard. (Some veggies don’t show up in the tag cloud for some reason – just search for anything that doesn’t appear there in the “Search” box at the top of the righthand column under the calendar.)

So despite my box hiatus, In My Box will go on. 2011 has been a distractingly busy year so far and I’m terribly behind on my posting, but I have lots of fun recipes and photos just waiting to be shared!

Kohlrabi and cranberries ~ Week of November 16th

Opening my CSA box this week was like opening a Christmas stocking! I just kept pulling out delight after delight. And so much stuff! It was like clowns in a Volkswagon – more vibrant, perfect produce just kept popping out of the box.

This was an absurdly fun box. I just can’t get over it. I’ve never cooked with kohlrabi before! I’ve never gotten cranberries in my CSA box! (Probably because there’s no way they can be local, right?) My two favorite vegetables – rapini and radicchio – arriving together in the same box!! Plus stuff I generally love like beets and sweet potatoes and cabbage, plus bonus veggies because the beet greens and the kohlrabi greens are going to be so delicious in their own right. The radishes came with lots of lovely greens, but I’ve had not so good experiences with them in the past, so they go straight into the compost.

Here’s what came in my giant, shiny, Christmas-and-Chanukah-rolled-into-one-box box this week:
Cranberries (7.5 oz)
Bartlett pears (2)
Bosc pears (2)
Braeburn apples (1.5 lbs)
Gold beets (1 bunch, plus greens)
Spinach (1 bunch)
Rapini (1 bunch)
Savoy cabbage (1 bunch)
Kohlrabi (1 bunch, plus greens)
Carrots (1 bunch)
Radicchio (1 head)
Butter lettuce (1 head)
Red radishes (1 bunch)
Garnet yams (2 lbs)

Green apples and red grapes ~ Week of November 3rd

What a ridiculously busy week it’s been. My box arrived and I actually left it out overnight so I could take a picture of the contents the next day. But the next day I had to just put everything in the fridge when it became clear there was not going to be any time to be staging a CSA box photo-shoot. Then the day after that I hauled everything back out of the fridge to take a picture. I was going to just skip it, but I skipped it last time, and that is basically the fundamental point of this blog, right? Showing you what comes in my CSA box?

It was a nice box this week. The grapes were fantastic – perfect in flavor and texture – and I can’t wait to make turnip pickles with the baby turnips. The friend with whom I’ve been sharing all my meals lately is terribly picky but loves salad, so the lettuce will be put to better use than it usually is in this household. He loves green beans, too, come to think of it, so it looks like I scored in that department.

As a sidebar, cooking for a picky eater is actually kind of fun. I don’t have kids yet so I’ve never had to do some of the culinary contortions other bloggers have reported on; with a picky adult I feel perfectly comfortable cooking whatever I want and if he ends up not liking it he can make himself a quesadilla. But it really has been sort of an adventure. There are things he didn’t know if he liked or not, like kale (turns out he does) and things he knew he didn’t like, like nutmeg (until he ate several squares of my butternut squash lasagna last week), and I’m having a great time turning all those suppositions on their heads. And I suppose he’s doing his own share of pushing the boundaries of what I think I like – who knew I’d love Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World?

In the box this week:
Granny Smith apples (2 lbs)
D’Anjou pears (2)
Comice pears (2)
Leeks (1 bunch)
Turnips (1 bunch)
Bok choy (1.5 lb)
Green beans (1 lb)
Chard (1 bunch)
Carrots (1 bunch)
Leaf lettuce (1 head)
Celery (1 bunch)
Yellow onion (1 lb)

There were supposed to be persimmons but I must have them on my “no” list; I got yummy yummy red grapes instead. I did only get 3 out of the 4 pears, though. Sigh…

Green beans and red plums ~ Week of October 6th

Super beautiful, full, lush box today! (Although no replacements for the missing stuff from last week… Still haven’t heard back from FFTY in response to my email. Boo.)

I ate one of the heirloom tomatoes with my dinner tonight and finally got a delicious tomato from my box! All summer they’ve been kind of watery and/or tasteless. But I just couldn’t get enough of the one I had tonight. (It’s the funny, pointy-looking red one in the picture.)

I’m really excited to have so many greens! The chard and collard greens make me purr with dark-leafy-green contentment. I need to be better about salad to use up the lettuce and arugula. And I have no idea what I’m going to do with all that cilantro… I should add that to my veto list!

Here’s what came in my pretty box this week:
Fuji apples (1 lb)
Red plums (1 lb)
Valencia oranges (2)
Leek (1)
Chard (1 bunch)
Collard greens (1 bunch)
Green beans (1.5 lbs)
Arugula (1 bunch – to replace the sweet peppers on my veto list)
Radishes (1 bunch)
Romaine lettuce (1 large head)
Mixed heirloom tomatoes (1 lb)
Cilantro (1 bunch)
Fennel (1 small bulb)
Fingerling potatoes (1.5 lbs)

Green grapes and rapini ~ Week of September 22nd

Grr…. Do you know what’s not fun? Unpacking a nice CSA box and taking a picture of it and thinking about how lovely and abundant it looks and then finding out I didn’t get two of the things I was supposed to get. And one of those was potatoes. And we all know how much I love potatoes. I am feeling really cranky now. This is absolutely not the first time this has happened either. Money is a bit tight right now, and getting shorted on my CSA box is NOT helping me feel easeful about the expense.

Here’s what actually did come in my box this week:
Melon (1)
Green grapes (1 lb)
Bartlett pears (2)
Chard (1 bunch)
Tokyo turnips (4 turnips, with greens)
Rapini (1 bunch)
Baby bok choy (2 heads)
Mixed heirloom tomatoes (2 lbs)
Red radishes (2 bunch, 1 is I assume to replace the peppers that are on my veto list)
Fennel (1 giant bulb)

What didn’t come:
Fingerling potatoes (1 lb)
Basil (1 bunch)

Red Radishes and Fingerling Potatoes ~ Week of September 8

No photo this week. Such a shame. I barely had time to put my box away, much less set up a glamour shot for it! The potatoes are the sweetest, tiniest things you ever did see. The heirloom tomatoes are monsters – a pound apiece! Everything else is pretty much normal-sized.

Seasonal melon (2 – 1 was to make up for sweet peppers)
Bartlett pears (2)
Mixed plums (1 lb)
Zucchini (1 lb)
Broccoli (1 bunch)
Tomatoes (2 lbs)
Heirloom tomatoes (2 lbs)
Red leaf lettuce (1 head)
Red radishes (1 bunch)
Basil (1 bunch)
LaRatt Fingerling potatoes (1 lb)

Fennel and pears ~ Week of August 25th

Fennel and pears? What is this, fall? Or do I just have a messed-up notion of when it’s pear season? OR is it the end of August and I’m still vainly clinging to summer (maybe because we’ve had exactly THREE days in the last three months where the weather could be described as “nice”) while the rest of the world and the growing season have moved on?

Well, mine is not to question why. Mine is just to get the goodies in the box and try to cook and eat them all before they turn to disgusting babyfood-like sacks of mush. (Sorry, pears from the last box! I just wasn’t ready to eat pears yet!)

Here’s what came in my box this week:
Peaches (3)
Lemon cucumbers (3)
Lettuce (2 heads – I think one was to sub for bell peppers, which are on my veto list)
Fennel (massive)
Apples (2)
Pears (2)
Broccoli (2 stems)
Heirloom tomatoes (a bazillion)

Pluots and lemon cucumbers ~ Week of August 11th

Another nice summery box, with pears thrown in, which totally make me think of fall. It has been a tremendously busy week so far, but having a menu plan really does help. Having homemade hot pockets tucked away in my freezer was awfully helpful, too. And having the easiest, best cauliflower recipe in the world on hand doesn’t hurt either – I made it twice in three days!

Here’s what came in my box this week:
Watermelon (1 small)
Pluots (1 lb)
Mixed summer squash (1 lb)
Cauliflower (1)
Mixed heirloom tomatoes (1 lb)
Slicing tomatoes (1 lb)
Mixed cherry tomatoes (1 basket)
Mixed cucumbers (1.5 lb)
Basil (1 bunch)

I think I got extra pluots and cucumbers. I am guessing the pluots were to substitute for the sweet peppers other people got (I love that FFTY has a veto list!) and the cucumbers were to make up for the cucumber missing from my box last week.

Plums and corn ~ Week of July 14th

Happy Bastille Day! Let’s celebrate victory over tyranny with some fresh produce!

I don’t mean to be off the cuff about it. Tyranny is still being felt all over the world in so many forms, including right now in France with the racist political maneuvering of the burqa ban.

But I have such a special place in my heart for Bastille Day. I attended a bilingual and bicultural French- American school growing up, and I experienced my first French Bastille Day in Paris at the age of seven. I mostly ignored the most recent 4th of July while at home working on my grad school application, listening to the faint booms echoing from way out over the water. But today I wanted to hear La Marseillaise. It must be a childhood thing – it just makes me so happy. Or maybe it’s that my French is bad enough now that I just hear the stirring music and don’t have to think about things like “May an impure blood water our furrows!”

At any rate, my Bastille Day box was gorgeous, with one notable exception. Truly beautiful corn and plums – perfect for any independence day celebration, whether here or abroad. Pre-vegan days I would have made clafoutis with the plums, kicking off a summer’s worth of stone-fruit clafoutis. Doing a quick Food Blog Search for “vegan clafouti” I found several interesting recipes using silken tofu or chia seeds, so I may have to give them both a shot. It just isn’t summer without clafoutis.

The one major disappointment in my box this week was the bag of green grapes. They were mushy and tasted of mold, throughout the entire bag. I had to toss the whole bunch straight into the compost. What a shame! I’ve enjoyed so many fresh grapes lately (plus I’m not partial to green grapes in general) so this bunch was going to go into the freezer  for a most delicious, decadent summer dessert/snack. Ah well, I will take the advice of the French (Marchons! Marchons!) and move on from the disappointing grapes to the yummilicious rest of my box. For instance, I tried one of my tomatoes today. I didn’t have high hopes for it because it was a pallid, unassuming little fellow. But the flavor it packed took me back to my childhood, to the time when tomatoes were treasures and their taste exploded with summer.

Yellow peaches (1.5 lb)
Green grapes (1.5 lb)
Santa Rosa plums (1 lb)
Red beets (4, with greens)
Nantes carrots (1 bunch)
Tomatoes (2 lbs)
White corn (4 ears)
Butter lettuce (1 huge head)
Cucumber (1 lb)
Purple basil (1 bunch)
Yellow onions (1 bunch)

Red grapes and green beans ~ Week of June 30th

It has been a crazy, crazy month. Super busy, mostly eating out and Amy’s and grabbing little bites here and there. No menu planning, no trips to the store, a week out of town… But then this morning I rushed out the door only to discover my CSA box sitting on the stoop. I’d forgotten about it completely, so finding it there was like getting a magical visit from the Food Fairy. Suddenly there was fruit, there were vegetables. There was food again in my house!

The first thing I made was an Epic Salad. That’s a salad that starts out as, “Hmm… nice lettuce in my box today, maybe I’ll make a salad,” and ends up with more and more wonderful ingredients tossed in. This one ended up as leaf lettuce, tempeh bacon, spiced pecans, grated carrots, avocado, and red grapes. It was truly epic!

In this week’s box:
Red Flame grapes (1 lb)
Seasonal melon (looks watermelon-like from the outside) (1)
Yellow peaches (1 lb)
Red chard (1 bunch) (was supposed to be corn but they ran out)
Zucchini (1.5 lb)
Nantes carrots (1 bunch)
Heirloom tomatoes (1 lb)
Hass avocados (3) (instead of Gypsy peppers, which I hate)
Leaf lettuce (1 gigantic bunch)
Green beans (1 lb) (these were already rotting when I opened my box up the afternoon of the morning it arrived, which was a real bummer!)
Basil (1 bunch)