Adam & Erin (members since 2016)
My fiancé Adam and I are not skilled in the culinary arts. We bought a 1950’s oven, mostly for show. Last year a typical winter night would consist of us eating salads or gathered around the soft hum of the microwave, heating processed canned goods. That all changed when we decided to go all in on a full share CSA.
“Do we need a full box?” asked Adam.
“Absolutely! We’ll eat the whole thing like one giant salad!” I cried, fist pumping in the air.
For the most part I was right, until the arrival of the root vegetables. I was soon googling “how long does it take to bake stuff in a vintage stove?” Not a popular search. After some trial and error, I learned that roasting vegetables was indeed small potatoes and moved on to more complex dishes. I purchased a cookbook for the first time in my life and attempted to “gasp” follow recipes. I made borscht and miso soup with bok choy. Adam made cauliflower rice bowls with kale, green beans, and broccoli. Our friends were shocked when we showed up to parties with sautéed vegetable quinoa and red pepper hummus. With every new box came a new exciting challenge. With help from Jason and Juli’s newsletter, we learned about proper food storage and what the heck to do with a kohlrabi. We did not magically become master chefs. Steady Hand Farms is not staffed by warlocks or Stevie Nicks. What we did become was inventive. The catalysts for creativity was the desire to not waste any of the beautiful produce. By ordering a full share, we got out of the salad rut and realize a stove can be used for more than mere decoration.
Abby Wilson (member since 2016)
Full disclosure here: Summer 2016 was our first experience with any CSA and we loved it!! I am the main cook in our family and I was a little apprehensive as to how I would deal with the challenge of getting a big box of ’surprise’ produce every week and having to create family meals from it as opposed to deciding that I was going to make on a specific day then shopping for the ingredients. Instead I was presented with a whole new paradigm of both cooking and eating.
The weekly tips and recipes from Steady Hand Farm gave me a starting point. Also, I am a very visual person (landscape designer from California) so the first thing I did when I got home with our box was to take all the weekly haul out and display it in a big basket. Then I took a photo of it. This helped me see and admire everything at once…There was always a moment of gratitude to our farmers for producing such vibrant perfect produce. The vitality never changed from week to week even if the veggies did. Next, even though the veggies were very clean, I rewashed them before putting them away. This spurred my imagination as to what I would cook with them, or if we would eat them raw. Also, a scrubbed carrot, radish, turnip, etc. will always be eaten before an unscrubbed one. I know our family loves greens so if the box contained an abundance of spinach, kale, oriental greens, or roots veggies like beets or turnip with greens attached, I would always freeze a bag or two for later while leaving enough to enjoy fresh. We freeze washed and dried kale and crush a couple of handfuls into our eggs in the morning.
I have found that foods that ripen at the same time naturally taste good together so that was another strategy we used. The quality of the produce was so high that only a brief steaming and seasoning with S&P and the herb of the week was often all that was needed. Many people don’t think of veggies when they think of grilling, but ANYTHING can be grilled even cauliflower and romaine lettuce. Olive oil, S&P a bit of lemon are good starting points. Quick roasting is good too. Let the glorious flavor of those perfectly sweet veggies shine through!
I think paying for the produce in advance was a good impetus to eat everything in the box before eating anything else. Even though the initial outlay for a full share seemed significant I think we actually saved money by eating veggies first #veggiesfirst. Our diet became more plant based and my blood sugar returned to normal. My advice to eating through a whole share each week is to really look at what’s in the box, give thanks for the bounty, eat salad whenever you can with all kinds of veggies, prepare some veggies to munch on raw, learn what your family likes to eat and explore recipes from different cultures and new cooking methods. Finally, there is no shame in freezing some for the long Minnesota winter. Frozen Steady Hand Farm broccoli, green beans, kale and tomatoes beats store bought any day.