We have taken the leap. We've joined forces with a friend and split a CSA share.
Last Wednesday I picked up our share for the the first time: fat onions, adorable eggplants, actual tomatillos (as opposed to the "tomatillos" my garden produced last year), a giant honeydew melon (round as an unborn baby!), green chiles, okra, cucumbers, yellow squash, and bell peppers. Not everything looked like the plump, glossy vegetable porn I admit I expected (with no actual basis for that expectation) from CSA produce, but I wasn't disappointed. The childmelon alone weighed in at eleven pounds.
I thought that committing to seasonal produce would force me to cook differently, and so far so good as far as that goes. But I also realized this morning that several of my new vegetable friends were already softening in an alarming manner: the eggplant, the okra...the eggplant and the okra. Everything else seemed okay, but the eggplant and okra got me a little panicky. After all, I spent ten dollars and fifty-eight seconds finding legal parking on Wednesday in order to pick these things up which is an investment by anybody's standards these days. (Fifty-eight seconds?!? The eggplant must not be allowed to soften!)
And so I spent a couple of good, sweaty, satisfying summer hours in my kitchen this afternoon cooking up a 2:00 feast which we ate in the backyard under the dappled shade of the Big Mesquite (which you've never heard of - nevertheless, there is one) and washed down with orange-and-rose-water sangria.
Late Afternoon Summer Weekend Feast Menu:
Eggplant and Grilled Corn Fritters with Roasted Squash-Jalapeno Aioli. I roasted the corn in the oven, FYI. And this made a lot of aioli. Which, on account of its deliciousness, is probably acceptable.
Okra Sauteed with Onion, Green Chile, and Tomato. This suggestion was given to me by my Big Boss Woman Helen who I figured would know okra from okra since her family's from Louisiana. (I was right.) My Post-it Note reads as follows: Saute some onion and green chile - those big ones like from Hatch, NM - in vegetable oil and then add sliced okra. Cook the okra until they turn bright green - mine never turned bright green so I just waited a few minutes until I figured they were good. Add water to cover the bottom of the pan and a chopped tomato to counteract okra sliminess if desired. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for about ten minutes. You might need to add a little more water. Mine kind of burned on but turned out good anyway.
Squash, Cucumber, and Tomato Salad with Basil-Lemon Dressing.
Sangria with Rose Water and Orange. Not the best sangria I ever ate, but still good for a hot summer afternoon feast. What sangria wouldn't be?
In addition to the above recipes, which are all good and voted worth eating in our small household, I have cooked two meals designated "totally worth eating" by both Raphael and me in the past week and a half:
Shiitake Mushroom and Lentil Asian Tacos. I used white mushrooms and might use sesame oil in place of some of the coconut oil next time - although the Guatemalan had no probs with the flavor of the coconut oil.
And the Ultimate Delicious If-You-Make-Nothing-Else-Vegetarian-This-Week-Make-This Winner: Quinoa-stuffed Bell Peppers. (I used fresh spinach and canned fire-roasted tomatoes with garlic.) (Seriously - stuff these peppers.)
Copacabana - Barry Manilow
Blue Jeans - Lana Del Rey
Blueberry Yum Yum - Ludacris & Sleepy Brown