in the morning, making.

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.

20 comments on “in the morning, making.

  1. Shuku

    How funny, I was looking at that jam too after seeing it on Leite’s Culinaria! I’ve made a spiced persimmon jam with black pepper and caramelised lemon rind strips before, sometime last year. I must do it again, thank you for the reminder / inspiration! (I remember making cranberry port preserves too, and lugging it to California for my best friend’s family, all 6 jars of it.) It may be perpetual summer here, but I think I want to bottle a taste of it for the end of the year when things get crazy.

  2. aseafish

    I have the most delightful memories of making jam, and reading your post brings them all to life again. I must learn a method that doesn’t involve a lot of sugar.

  3. Robin

    I totally get this. I’m in charge of our veg garden. It’s a lot of work, and by golly, I’m not going to waste one tiny green tomato. There have been a couple of times this year where I’ve had an abundance – of peaches, of cantaloupe – and I’ve allowed myself to play and try new things. I had to branch out and get creative. It was wonderful. I’ve learned a lot this year.

  4. Ada

    I can definitely relate. Joining my CSA means I not only eat super-local for half the year (less than 4 km away!), but I’ve become very creative at cooking the endless greens, beets, and squashes (I’m in Vancouver, so this is what grows best here!). I eat much healthier and I try my absolute best not to let that food go to waste, because I know where it came from and I have a stake in it. Today’s the last CSA pick up, and I’ll miss it over the winter!

  5. Stephanie

    As a preserve-making addict myself, I’m so glad you’re getting into making jam! I just have one suggestion, though, after seeing your jars in the photo. From what I’ve heard, it’s very important not to leave too much air between the top of the jam and the lid — about a quarter inch is optimal. Otherwise, I think it leaves more room for bacteria to play. Perhaps your jam book says not to worry about this, but just in case, I wanted to let you know . . . Keep making jam!

  6. Anna

    I worked at a CSA this year, so for the first time I had a weekly share of vegetables. I use lots of vegetables anyway, but it was really fun to have to use up whatever I got. I ended up filling our freezer with a lot that we couldn’t eat, so we’ll be enjoying the CSA veggies well into the winter.

  7. TiaG

    CSA sounds like a great idea! I love the Farmer’s Market still, though. Homemade little quiches and fair trade coffee. I’m hooked 🙂

  8. Kaeli

    this year, I have been soooo blessed with weekly farm shares from a friend involved in CSA. this year has bombarded me with new food restrictions and elimination diets. I don’t know what I would do without a bag of fresh, local, organic produce to gorge on. As I am reading this, I am munching on a gigant Jonagold Apple from the share. Amen!
    I will admit however, I need to invest in a VitaMix for the seemingly endless bags of Kale and Speckled Lettuce and just drink ’em down 🙂 (I really don’t like lettuces all that much no matter how they are prepared).

  9. harsi

    As easy as you make whipping up a batch of jam sound, I’m still very timid about trying such things. My kitchen skills are a bit, well… “remedial” might be a good word. HA! Nevertheless, I am terribly excited by the notion of joining a CSA on Vashon. (Thanks for the tip about Green Man!) I confess that I have struggled with letting fresh food go to waste in the past. But, I can totally see how actually knowing the people that poured their love and labor into producing it might really work wonders on my motivation to get creative and find a way to use everything up.

    Oh, and on a random note… just wanted to say how much I love the phrasing “wither into itself” to describe the death of a vegetable. You writing always evokes such vivid pictures in my mind.

  10. Arya

    Oh, I have been wanting this book ever since I heard about it on “The Splendid Table”. Thank you for talking about it, now I’m more motivated to go out and get it!

  11. Lori

    I live in Florida and our CSA starts around Thanksgiving for about 24weeks. This will be our first CSA and I am looking forward to my new adventures in food. Most of the items we will get, I have cooked with before, but there are some that I am not familiar with; such as kohlrabi and seeing you mention it here got me excited. I thought you were going to tell us what you did with it. I would love to know. I figured I would Google items as I get them, but would love to hear what you did.

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