Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Real veggies

I spent the last 7 months waiting for this day -- the day when we get real veggies again. And it's finally here. Yesterday was our first CSA pick up. What is CSA? It's this illegal drug that causes temporary euphoria. No, no -- I am just kidding. It's not a drug at all, but it does cause euphoria in some people and can be addictive. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. People also refer to it as a farm share. You pay a local farmer a yearly fee in winter (the time they need the money the most), and they supply you with fabulous veggies in the summer and fall. We tried it for the first time last year and absolutely loved it. I am warning you though. Going back to supermarket veggies (even from Whole Foods) is like getting off caffeine. It can be painful. Really painful. That's why I've been waiting for this day with such anticipation.

We've joined a new farm this year, Waltham Fields Community Farm. Don't get me wrong. I loved Brookfield Farm that we joined last year. Our weekly box, conveniently delivered to Cambridge, was always gorgeous and plentiful. But since the farm was located in western Massachusetts (about 2 hours from us), we didn't take advantage of the pick-your-own aspect of the share. Waltham is just a 15 minute drive from where we live and should give us plenty of opportunity to pick our own veggies. It's hard to believe that there is a farm so close to Boston. But there is, and I got to see it myself yesterday.

What did we get?
  • A ton of greens (as is typical of the start of the season in New England). All types of lettuce, spinach, arugula, endive, bok choy, and some Asian green whose name escapes me.
  • Radishes
  • Baby turnips (they look like white radishes) -- they are so good roasted!
  • Kohlrabi
  • Scallions
I also got a chance to pick my own herbs and sugar snap peas aided by a young man who defied the stereotype that kids don't like green veggies. This 8 year old was so excited about sugar snap peas, you'd think he was in a candy shop. I really wonder what our daughter will be like. Will she want to pick peas with me some day? What will be her favorite foods, colors, songs, books?

By the way, does anyone have any bright ideas for meals the first few weeks after the hospital? I heard that I should freeze some meals for when we get home with the baby. This sounds like a good idea, except that all my dishes that freeze well (stews and hot soups) don't sound particularly appetizing in July.

P.S. The pasta above was inspired by whatever was in this week's share. I sautéed some leafy greens and spinach, roasted some baby turnips, and tossed it all with pasta, chopped sugar snap peas (they were too tender and sweet to cook), scallions, a little cream, butter, and parmesan. Then I sprinkled some chives and broken up chive flowers on top. Those little purple flowers are not only pretty, but they give a dish a wonderful crunch.


Dave said...

We've been a member of Waltham Community farms for 3 years now, it's great. Look for the twins :)

Most casseroles freeze well, some baked pastas or rice and chicken are simple and tasty even in the summer.

Anonymous said...

When I was pregnant, a friend who was due at the same time went into labor (precipitously) three weeks early. That got me cooking and freezing, for sure! Our baby was a summer baby, too, but we ate our frozen lasagna like crazy.

Friends gave us a lot of frozen soup from the New England Soup Factory, and it was also wolfed down. Bagels split in half freeze well and toast up quickly for those gotta-have-it-now snacks. We ate lots of those, too. Best wishes!!

Pam said...

For our first, we became major take-out customers at New Mother India in Waltham.

One of the lead waiters also had a new baby at the same time, so we would often chat about it.

The next Christmas, NMI gave us a nice bottle of wine.

Not frozen, but it's how we survived being new parents.


Timothy Johnson said...

Hi Helen,

Love your blog! First time commenter here. Feels like yesterday my 12 year old girl was a "baby." For your situation, I'd personally load up on salad greens and all the fixings for a variety of salads. Make a bunch of vinaigrettes in advance. Cook chicken and fish in batches and keep it tucked away in ziploc bags, hardboil a bunch of eggs, lots of tomatoes and fruits salads, lots of bread, cheeses, and fruit salads and some gazpacho (does that freeze well?). Just some thoughts! Happy eating.

Jason Morrison said...

Hi Helen,

This is fantastic! Best of luck in the coming weeks, although I'm afraid I can't offer much advice. I do have a question for you, though; I'm moving to Lexington this July, and while I definitely plan to join with CSA next winter, was wondering if you might have recommendations for similarly wonderful local farms or farmers' markets in the meantime? Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

In my father's country (Sri Lanka) it is a tradition for new mothers to eat shark after giving birth. It's meant to have medicinal properties. My mother swears by it although it is the one fish that I am no big fan of.

Not quite sure if you'll have the energy to cook it once you get home from the hospital though.

Good luck with the baby!

Helen said...

Hi Jason,

Welcome to Boston metro west :) There is no shortage of farmer's markets in here. Here is the website for the one in Lexington, but you might also want to check out the ones in neighboring towns. This website lists all markets in Massachusetts. Scroll down to Middlesex county and you'll see them listed by town with the day, time, etc. When I had an office job, I found the market in Waltham to be most convenient because it is on saturday mornings. The problem with most farmer's markets on weekdays is that they end around 6:30 and I didn't have a chance to get there on time.

Best of luck to you!


Helen said...

Hi guys,

Thank you so much for your advice! I love the idea of stocking up on pantry items (pasta, beans, cheeses, yogurts, etc). This way, I can always make something super easy without going shopping. I am also lucky that my husband is a very good cook and he is staying home with me the first week.

El Director: My friend from Singapore said that her family made her eat tons and tons of fish after she gave birth. They say it helps you have more milk. I am not sure if there is any scientific basis for it, but if I have to eat fish, I won't complain :) That's probably what I'll end up doing since we have a fish market 2 minutes from us and fish is so easy to cook.


Heather Bucell said...

Helen, we're due about the same time! I'll be having a boy (due 7/15).
I'm thinking that having baby won't make us totally incapacitated... being used to cooking (I think what's challenged is the ability to be inspired while on low brain cells)-- maybe I'll be wrong?

Recently I made stuffed shells w/meat sauce & froze the leftovers, they are really good.
I plan on just going the pasta route- and it's not like my freezer has tons of space, either!

Helen said...

Hi Heather,

So great to hear from you! And you are having a boy -- how wonderful :)

We'll have to e-mail each other some tips on cooking with newborns. My hope is that the CSA will be a huge help to me. On one hand, it seems like a major pain to have to deal with a box of veggies each week, but my husband said that he'll pick up the box and wash all the veggies for me and then I don't have to think about what to cook -- whatever is in the box that week. I will try to stock up on beens, lentils, and different grains now, to minimize shopping in those few weeks when we get back from the hospital.

Of course, it's really hard to imagine what it will be like, but I can't wait! It seems like I've been pregnant forever, and we are both dying to finally meet our baby :)

I wish you a fast and easy delivery and many joyful moments with your family.


Heather Bucell said...

Helen, I wish the same blessings to you, also!

After I posted about being "not totally incapacitated".... It got me worrying! lol~
So I am making extra baked chicken to use for make-ahead chicken enchiladas. I'm a fan of Cook's Illustrated & am referring to their book, "The Best Make-Ahead Recipe".

Over the winter my sister gave me a slow cooker- she said with her newborn (born last August) the slow cooker was great- she did the prep work when baby was asleep during a.m. nap.

Just thinking, how easy it was a moment ago to chop veggies and toss some chicken to bake in the oven-

I feel like ordering takeout (and then waiting) is more of a hassle and expense than just cooking.
Our usual knee-jerk response is pizza.
But then there's the Boboli crust that can be dressed up quite easily, anyhow.
Another easy meal is to keep some frozen raviolis, pasta sauce and mozzarella on hand for baked raviolis, YUMMY....

Anonymous said...

Hi Helen...our CSA started today here in Maine...always a little later than MA...FYI, Alanna of A Veggie Venture and I are collaborating to provide weekly recipes keyed to the Wolf Pine Farm shares (my CSA)...check it out at Stephencooks -- use the Category Index on the right side (click the Wolf Pine Farm tab) to find my contributions or click on the Wolf Pine Farm logo in the upper left corner of the screen to go to Alanna's WPF page.

Good luck, by the way, with your upcoming family event!

Helen said...

Heather: don't worry :) I am sure we'll make it work. I just found another survival food -- good purchased roast chicken. There is a little butcher near us, called Fresh Pond Market, that sells excellent roast chickens. There is probably a place like that near you guys too.

Stephen: thanks so much for heads up on your CSA. Can't wait to read all the yummy recipes you come up with over this summer.