Friday, June 22, 2012

What's in the Box?

This year we decided to get a farm share.  Every other week or so, we pick up our box of vegetables from a neighborhood drop site and get fresh produce delivered from Harmony Valley Farm located in western Wisconsin.  They also have meat, fruit and coffee, but we decided, at least for this first year, to just go with the veggie box.

So far it's been a fun adventure.  You never know what you're going to get until the day before when they send out their newsletter. It puts you in a more creative and spontaneous mindset as far as planning meals.  After all, you don't want to waste anything, so you plan around what you find in the "box."  

I'll have to admit, some of the things we get, I've never seen before.  One week we got sunchokes.  They look like pieces of ginger root, and they taste a bit like potatoes.  I could get addicted to these.  There were these things called garlic scapes which looked like green onions, but they curled around into loops.  They work just like regular garlic.  We've gotten green leafy things that I can't pronounce - Hon Tsai Tai and Yukina Savoy (just toss it into a bowl with some fruit and make a salad).  We've also gotten some great things like parsnips, rhubarb, strawberries, asparagus, fennel and lots of mixed salad greens.  Of course everything tastes different than what you'd find at the store, and I like that it supports local farmers and organic food.

The thing is, because of the unusual ingredients, I'm making things that I normally would not make.  I made a strawberry rhubarb spread, and I'd forgotten how much I liked rhubarb.  I made pesto out of nettles and a mashed potato/parsnip side dish.  I usually make lamb soup in the winter, but since I received two fennel bulbs, I made a less-soupy batch last night and tucked it into a pocket pie.  Once a week there's a stir fry with things like baby bok choy, napa cabbage and green onions.  

We still pick up other things at the farmer's markets and co-ops when we need to, and I'll probably get tired of this by the time September rolls around, but for now "what's in the box" is making me think "outside the box."

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