Sunday, June 14, 2009

Eating local

One of my favorite things about this summer has been the way our cooking and eating has changed after joining a local CSA this year. I'm pretty sure it's reducing our grocery bill because I feel more inspired to cook largely vegetarian meals and I can practically skip the produce section of the grocery store (other than the necessary fruits and avocados).

I've made it a sort of personal challenge to use up everything we get in our half-subscription. Who wants to let delicious organically grown, fresh-off-the-farm produce spoil in the fridge? So we're eating more vegetables and greens than we ever have before and I'm more likely to eat a salad for lunch or load up my sandwich with cucumbers and arugula instead of just throwing on a piece of cheese and deli turkey.

And I've been suprised by how much of the produce Will and Owen want to eat too. Over the past week these are the locally grown things that both boys have gobbled up and asked for seconds and thirds: a medley of sweet potatoes (not local), carrots and beets drizzled with olive oil and roasted; steamed beet greens (yes, we use them too) and broccoli tossed in a pasta; squash and onions mixed with some grocery store produce for a ratatouille with basil dumplings; and a basmati rice salad with arugula and olives. Our farmers send us a weekly produce list with recipe suggestions -- and finally I am beginning to learn the art of cooking with splashes of this and dashes of that and some tasting -- instead of adhering to a recipe.

Will, who enjoys chopping produce with a kitchen knife and stirring sautees, cooks with me on many afternoons so he feels connected to the food too. And Rob's been feeling inspired to play chef too. This is a recipe for collards that we all love -- invented after I merged some advice from a couple good cooks in my life and then told Rob to add more ingredients until he felt excited to eat a green he's never much liked until now. Here's the gist of it:

Rob's collards:

Boil chopped collards 5 minutes, then drain and put in icewater bath 5 minutes or until cool. Saute in olive oil with a dash of sesame oil , a couple cloves of garlic minced, worcestire sauce, soy sauce, a generous bit of apple cider vinegar, a dash of ground mustard and ground ginger. Devour immediately.

(We get our produce from a Hamliton CSA because Rob's co-worker lives there and does the pick-up for us, but there's a Columbus-based CSA too. If you live nearby, check it out. It makes meal-planning fun and simple.)

And if you're a Michael Pollan fan like me, you might want to listen to a piece that aired Friday on NPR -- as he and director Robert Kenner discuss "Food Inc.," a documentary that "takes aim at corporate giants behind the U.S. food supply."

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