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The night you pick up your CSA share consider establishing pizza night. The idea is that you plan on supper being a hands-off, household favorite that everyone enjoys. Your pizza night could be as simple as a frozen pizza. You could go out to your favorite Tex-Mex place. Pick up barbecue sandwiches. Or order in Chinese food.

Here’s the reasoning behind this cunning plan.

First, it’s Pavlovian. If members of your household are ambivalent or even hostile towards the CSA idea, it can’t hurt to have them associate the arrival of your share with a favorite meal. (more…)

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For the ultimate in fine cooking, you would wait to prep all of your ingredients until just before cooking. But, let’s face it, if we were dealing with the ultimate in fine cooking, someone else would be prepping your ingredients.

By prepping, I mean things like washing, peeling, dicing, and the like.

washed beet greens, diced beet stems for stir-fries, and washed baby greens to add to salad (not pictured, beet roots for roasting)

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CSA tip: Start in the spring

Considering joining Farmers Fresh CSA or another Atlanta CSA program? Now’s the time. Spring is the best season to get used to preparing local produce for one reason:

Salad. (more…)

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Sometimes, you just can’t swing a CSA subscription.

If this is you, consider a different kind of commitment to a local farm and yourself – buying market credit. You can think of market credits as gift certificates you buy for yourself from a farmer. (more…)

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CSA program turnover is a problem: people get excited about the idea but don’t really know what’s required. So let’s look at the ideal CSA subscriber and see how close you get.

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One way to get more out of your CSA subscription and keep your CSA kitchen sustainable is to collect dishes that are flexible, easy, and veggie-intensive. It’s not hard to do – dishes like this exist in every food culture and have the following characteristics:

  • high vegetable to meat ratio (perhaps infinite)
  • infinitely variable in amounts and ingredients (with a few seasonal restraints)
  • can serve as one-dish meals
  • don’t call for a lot of additional ingredients
  • don’t require too much attention or time once you get the idea down

Veggie lo mein!

Here’s a quick list of possibilities. (Our two current favorites – lo mein and cottage pie – are discussed in more detail below.)

  • vegetable soup or stew (pretty much everywhere)
  • cottage pie (Britain)
  • ratatouille (France)
  • briami (Greece)
  • lo mein, fried rice (China)
  • yaksoba (Japan)
  • pad thai (Thailand)
  • gado gado (Indonesia)
  • curries of all sorts (India)

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Sustainability doesn’t stop at the farm. Joining a CSA is neither sprint nor short-run performance – it’s a lifestyle change. (You’re not doing it just because it’s trendy, right?) Check your dreams of instant local food bliss at the door. There’s simply too much work to be done.

Is your operation sustainable?

It’s a good idea to prepare for this long-term effort by dreaming up and adopting sustainable practices for you and your household. By sustainable, I don’t mean environmentally sound. I’m talking about  careful stewardship of your household’s most valuable resource: your sanity.

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Cabbage is a wonderful thing. Once you meet a local cabbage, you look at cabbage completely differently. It’s a vegetable with great flavor and texture. And a cabbage is a good friend when you find it weeks later in the back of the crisper. Peel off a layer or two, and you’ve still got a lovely head of cabbage. That’s what happened to me last year. Chris and I enjoyed every bit of that head of green cabbage.

Green cabbage

Green cabbage has a tightly-wrapped, round head and can last a long time in the fridge. Here’s an extraordinarily large example of green cabbage from last year in the center of this pic.

And here are the two best recipes we’ve found for green cabbage. (more…)

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How not to use a corn stripper

While cleaning upon our return from vacation, I stumbled across the instructions for the corn stripper.

So I totally see now how Kitchen Kung Fu got gored. These instructions are dumb and dangerous. I must have either missed or ignored them because here’s how I’ve been doing it.

First, shuck the ear, but don’t remove the stem. It’s handy to hold on to.

Then brace the top of the ear in the bottom of a bowl, like this.

Works for paper towel rolls, too!

Then you can push downward with more force, more safely. You have a lot more control pushing down than pushing up, and your non-cutting hand stays out of the danger zone.

Hope this helps – stir-fried sweet corn is too good to miss!

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Freezing eggs

Did you know you can freeze eggs?

It’s a bit of a process but really useful when you suddenly need an egg or when you need a bunch of yolks or whites.

The first step is separating the eggs. While there are tools that help with this, I find it easier to use my hands. First, crack the egg into a bowl.

Then carefully slide a hand under the yolk and pick it up. Carefully shift the yolk from one hand to the other. After a few times, all you’ll be holding is the yolk and the whites will be in the bowl.

(If you break a yolk, it’s no big deal – you’ve still got an egg. Put it in the fridge and use it in a day or two.) (more…)

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