Having a CSA has made us cook more.
Clearly, we are frequent guests at the grocery store. The checkers know us well, especially Lucy. We buy what we need to test recipes and treat ourselves with something new each day. And we try to use all the food we buy. But, like everyone else, we let some celery wither in the drawer. An errant beet may shrivel under the weight of the produce in there. I just found something at the back of a shelf and I’m not sure what it was.
I hate when we waste food.
However, when we pick up our shopping bag stuffed with vegetables from Jasper, we make sure not to let anything go uneaten.
This year, we bought a CSA share in the Green Man Farm here on Vashon. We have been buying kale, squashes, and tomatoes from Jasper and Will at the tiny Saturday farmers’ market for the last couple of years. These two are splendid folks smart, funny, in overalls, without pretension. Jasper plays the fiddle in a bluegrass group in the evenings after working on the farm all day. Will greets us with a jovial wave every time we see him. We found ourselves standing in front of their produce at the farmers market, talking and talking longer each week. So buying a share in the CSA made sense.
Each Tuesday afternoon (if we were in town, or remembered that day), we have picked up a brown paper bag filled with leeks and onions, potatoes and tomatoes, squashes and beets. And we have found not much to our surprise that we have created interesting ways to use these vegetables every day. Far more than we would have if we had bought them at the store.
Lu will pick up a knobbly kohlrabi on the counter, turn to me, and say, “Jasper grew this?”
I figured out what to do with kohlrabi that evening, rather than let that vegetable wither into itself.
Last week, Danny came home with a big of vegetables and a little bag stuffed with tiny green grapes. “They’re tart,” he said. “I’m not sure we can eat them. What do you want to do?”
This is why I started making jam at 7:30 the next morning. I didn’t want those grapes to go to waste.
We’ve been making jams all summer, and now this fall, inspired by the The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook. Making jams out of this cookbook has demystified jam making for me. Now, I don’t see it as an all-day endeavor. Instead, when I have some fruit I want to use, I throw some ingredients together, with a little sugar and spices, other fruits, and go.
Because I’ve made a number of jams out of this cookbook, I feel confident to play now. I looked at her recipe for concord grape jam, then I made it up at the kitchen counter. This is a green grape-pomegrante jam with honey, orange zest, and sherry.
It’s a pretty darned nice jam. And those grapes didn’t go to waste.