the bounty of summer

Yesterday marked my first share of this summers CSA crop and man-o-man was it most excellent. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. CSA farms use sustainable farming methods (though not necessarily organic) and deliver their produce fresh from the field to the communities within which it was grown. The “supported” part of that comes from the part where people like you or I pay for a share of the crop.

What’s the point, you ask?

All politics are local. Supporting people in your community supports your community and you. Not only that, but it doesn’t cost much more (and in some cases less) than standard mega-mart prices. My bi-weekly CSA share was a few hundred dollars, of which 125 will come back to me in the form of a rebate from my health insurance provider.

If that’s not enough incentive for you, how about the fact that sustainably-grown produce that travels 10 miles to you just plain tastes better than anything in any store you have ever or will ever buy. Pretty bold statement, if you’ll forgive the pun, right? You won’t think so after your first share. Trust me.

Ok, soapbox disengaged. On with the show.

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The spring/early-summer in Wisconsin has been superior weather for greens. Spinach and lettuce of all varieties grew like proverbial weeds. My first share this year came through with a huge head of some odd red leaf  lettuce I’d never heard of (but tastes great!) and a giant bag of mixed leafy greens. Oh, and the bag of giant spinach which I put to immediate and tasty use.

Garlic scapes. Holy crap on a crap-boat do I love these things. They’re like garlic-flavored asparagus and just as versatile. In fact, I’ve cooked them with garlic and asparagus together for a trifecta of awesome you would not believe. I’d never even HEARD of them until joining a CSA farm. Put another check-mark in “reasons to CSA” column.

My share was rounded out by some fresh scallions, turnips, chives (that flowered already) and an itty-bitty basil plant. All-in-all, a wonderful start.

I picked up a nice ribeye on the way home from work, so while that was resting I used my trusty (and still blazing) cast-iron skillet to wilt about half of the spinach greens. I mixed that with the remaining uncooked leaves and some sliced turnip and scallions and tossed with some fresh-ground pepper. If you’ve ever had a spinach salad at a good steak place with the sweet bacon vinagrette you’ll almost get the taste right, save this salad was more savory than sweet/tangy. I wish I had snapped a pic of the finished product so I could show off a little, but honestly the stuff was just gone.

Anywho, take some time and seek out your local CSA group if there is one. Your efforts will not go unrewarded.