CSA Week 2: Grazing

This week we got: lettuce (romaine, I think), spinach, spring onions, sweet potatoes, chard, mustard greens, and  bok choi. We get an Email every weekend that tells us what to expect on Wednesday, but sometimes the farmer will swap something out or throw something extra in. This week we weren’t expecting the bok choi, but it was a happy addition.

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Wednesday

I was doing the pickup by myself and was pretty exhausted from a hectic work week, so I just made one of the fastest dishes I know: beans and greens. (A teacher kind of dish, according to Bourdieu’s food space.) I browned a chopped spring onion with some bacon I had left from collards last week, threw in a diced sweet potato for starch, then tore up my half of the spinach and added a can of white beans. Same principles as last week’s pot cooking, but in a skillet. Tasty and filling.

A word about the bacon. You can easily make a dish like this vegan–in fact, it’s more convenient to just use olive oil instead of bacon. Browning the onions and deglazing with wine or vinegar will add layers of earthy flavor, as will seasoning with smoky or savory spices like paprika or ground mustard.

The reason I use bacon whenever I have it is that fat is energy. I’ve been thinking about this a lot since several of my peers and some blogs that I read have been talking about Mark Bittman’s Vegan Before 6 book. I share many of his ideals–trying to move away from processed foods, etc.–but I think it’s important to remember that any and all dietary choices are literally Your Mileage May Vary: not everyone is going to get the same benefits from the same fuel. Personally, daytime is when I need energy-giving animal proteins the most, which became very clear to me when I worked at an art museum in a position that required all the problem-solving and emotional fortitude of a customer service job along with the physical stamina of standing upright for hours or traipsing all over acres of dolomite floor. I often brought vegan leftovers to eat for lunch–meatless stirfry, veggie rice dishes, etc.–because I find it easy and cheap to cook without animal products, but I would run out of steam by the end of the day, getting cranky and lethargic. I’d come home, lay on the floor, and stay there until my boyfriend texted me about dinner. But if I included meat in the stirfry, or cooked the vegetables in butter or bacon fat, or even just simmered the rice in broth instead of water, I’d have noticeably more stamina and a clearer head at the end of the day. These days my job isn’t so physically demanding, but a richer lunchtime meal still feels more fortifying for my daily brainwork, and I don’t need to reach continually for the cashews and dried fruit I keep at my desk just in case.

YMMV, as I said. I’m not a nutritionist. (Neither is Mark Bittman.) But in the absence of a dietetics degree or doctor’s orders, I think the best thing you can do for your cooking and eating is to notice how different foods make you physically feel. End rant!

On Friday and Saturday, I needed to purchase a lot of groceries for the the party (although I did put last week’s chives into dips and included CSA lettuce in the little sandwiches I made).  On Friday night, my neighbor and I fed ourselves by cutting up the surprise bok choi, most of the mustard greens, steak and some carrot for a stir fry.

Stir fry with peanut dressing

Once, long ago, during a rain of weekly cabbages during which we’d already made soups and slaws and kimchi and were a bit strapped for cabbage ideas, we came across this Martha Stewart recipe for a slaw with peanut dressing. Since then we have made that peanut dressing a hundred times, although I don’t think we have ever followed the recipe to the letter. We don’t ever look at the recipe anymore–I keep rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic on hand at all times so it’s easy to throw together a sauce in whatever proportions seem appropriate. This time, for example, I had the end of a bottle of chili garlic sauce I wanted to use up, so we put the vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and peanut butter directly in the jar and shook it up. There was more chili in there than I thought, so these noodles were VERY hot. (We like that.)

That’s it!  I coasted the rest of the week on salads and leftovers–much of which included non-CSA food this week, so I’ll spare you the details. My birthday parties heavily feature sangria and spiked punches, so my rules for party snacks are (a) must be safe for holding by the fingers while gesticulating in excited conversation, and (b) should stick to the ribs, so guests don’t wipe out after one cocktail. If you want to serve CSA greens or stirfry or salad for a party, it’s got to be a smaller or soberer party.

Meanwhile, I still have chard and some mustard greens leftover from the week’s share, but my neighbor and I will probably dispense with those this evening, while we pick up our share.

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10 responses to “CSA Week 2: Grazing

  1. We just started up our CSA again – we’ll pick up on Saturday. I wish we got email notification of likely inclusions, though – that’d make meal planning a whole lot easier.

    That looks like green leaf lettuce, by the way. Romaine is more crunchy at the bottom, and less curly at the top. ^_^

  2. I could not agree more that the best way to decide what to eat and what to avoid is to pay close attention to what feedback you get from your body. It’s harder than following a blanket system like “VB6” but I think it’s the best way to figure out what foods really give us the best energy and sense of well being.

    • I’m with both of you on that. I’m a protein-in-the-a.m. person, too. I have had all-fruit smoothies for a quick breakfast before, and that works on errand-running days where I need just some sugar to get going, but for real brain work, I need protein. And lots of it. I was actually getting chicken dinners from a vendor at Market East for a while, and eating them either on the train (6:30 a.m.) or once I got to work (7:30). I also require vegetables, usually green ones. The chicken came with mixed veggies: steamed broccoli and cabbage, for the most part, and that combination held me until 1 p.m. or later.

      It was hard, at first, to listen to what my body wanted and then go get it, but after practicing it for a while, it’s about all I *can* do. Regimented eating just gives me something to obsess over, and that’s not working – that’s distraction.

      • I know the feeling. I Problem-solving makes me very hungry! Hangry, even. Depending on how messy the piece I’m editing is.

        A few years back when I was regularly reading Shapely Prose and a few other sites, I heard about “intuitive eating” (eating what and when feels good) all the time. I don’t hear about it so often anymore, though maybe I’m not looking in the right places. But that’s pretty much how I have to roll. Paying attention to bodily feedback has also helped me *enjoy* food more, too.

        • Intuitive eating is definitely the name of my game. I can plan a bit now, so that I take hummus and veggies on a can’t-eat-much day, and a hugemungous bowl of chili when I need lot.

          It’s been a very long haul, though, and I still have days where I “shouldn’t” be hungry – which is such a useless train of thought. I am or I am not: “should” has nothing to do with it, despite the years of body policing.

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