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I just received an email from my CSA about our fourth pick-up later this week, so I must be a tad behind.  Load number 3 is pretty much gone from the kitchen by now other than a stray bit of garlic or onion, but I still have pictures to share!  No crazy bike adventures to share because this was in the midst of the OMG LAST WEEK AT WORK business.

And this is my photography assistant, with his strong opinion on the placement of the okra (it should apparently be carried around the house, not left on the kitchen table). Also, I promise we have other animals. Other cats, even. He’s just the most assertive about having his picture taken.

So without further ado, our bounty of the week accompanied by my attempts at food photography:

Okra – the July issue of Southern Living* showed up just in time with an article about the summer trifecta: okra, corn, and tomatoes. I made the okra maque choux for my Cajun husband, and he’s already asking for me to make it again. Delicious! This accidentally turned into a sausage-heavy meal (I’m struggling for a better phrase than “sausage fest” thanks to the “Home Wreckers” episode of How I Met Your Mother) because I absentmindedly thawed out the boudin instead of the smoked sausage his father made that would actually work for the recipe. (Are you noticing an absentminded trend here?). Boudin falls into the category of I DON’T WANT TO KNOW WHAT’S IN THIS. My father-in-law was a butcher and the Cajuns in general are a bit more open-minded than me about what parts of an animal are edible, so I politely eat and ask that they not tell me if it contains organ meats or other random bits. Eww. I”m from the totally wimpy “meat should be boneless and skinless” camp.  Traditional maque choux like my hubs makes is pretty much just corn and tomatoes (and no meat), so you could easily make this one veg-friendly if you prefer.

MORE patty pan squash – Perhaps I waited too long to cook these. Either way, we were unimpressed. It wasn’t terrible, but we won’t be making it again.

A variety of garlic – I should have written down all the types of garlic! By the time I got home I already wasn’t sure which was what. Whatever they are, they’re tasty. We received a garlic press as a very belated wedding present (ok, perhaps we bought one as a replacement for a belatedly returned duplicate gift), and it makes me happy.

Blueberries – Nothing fancy for these lovelies. They’ve been thrown onto cereal, brownies, and buttermilk french toast. And my apologies to Queen Martha, but when you make her yummy, tangy french toast recipe, please completely ignore the nutmeg and substitute cinnamon.

Humongous zucchini of unknown variety and baby yellow zucchini – Casualties of war. We were out of town for a few days right after the pick-up (Hello, Austin!) and came back to sad, shriveled squash. Oops.

*Yes, I receive the Southern Living. Of course I only read it after I’ve put on my pearls, ruffled apron, and heels and fixed my hair like a good exiled Alabama girl.

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This lovely squash overload came home with me from my CSA pick-up this Thursday. When I saw that I wouldn’t be getting anything huge and leafy and everything would likely fit in my messenger bag, I decided it was high time I take to the bike. I live in the land of BMWs, Hummers, pick-up trucks, and constant air-conditioning, which you might guess also means it is NOT pedestrian friendly. Luckily my suburb has decent bike trails, even if they do follow ditches or power lines. The first half of my ride was easy enough, though hot. I dropped off Juliet, Naked at the library, picked up my replacement phone from FedEx, then went for the veggies.

And oh my gourd… (US of Tara, anyone? No?) The ride back was tough. I plopped it on the scale when I got home, sure that it would say I was carrying 20 or 30 pounds worth of zucchini and cucumbers.

Apparently, I’m a wimp because 9.8 pounds nearly killed me. Let’s just call this a friendly lesson on how losing weight really does make biking easier: 10 extra pounds on the bike = pain.

So what did we get this time?

Regulars: zucchini, baby summer squash, granex onions, candy apple onions, pickling cucumbers, and peaches. Did I mention PEACHES?! Very excited about the first peaches of the season. They suggested we eat them with a knife since they’re pesticide free. So good.

New guy in town: pattypan squash. What does it taste like? This baby pattypan recipe recommends subbing yellow squash (we make it that way and LOVE it), so are they similar?

Yesterday I picked up our first CSA distribution! My apologies for the bags in the picture, but by the time I got home at the end of the day I just wasn’t up to emptying everything out and then packing it all back up.  CSAs are a great way to support local farmers while providing fresh, healthy food for your table. In our case, a nearby farm has networked with several other local farms to provide biweekly vegetable deliveries at a few convenient in-town locations. We can indicate which veggies we particularly hate or love, but I didn’t even tell them about my passionate hatred for carrots because I want to make the most of this and truly experiment and try new things. Besides, even a carrot can be tricked into tasting good if you add enough meat or sugar (but not both at the same time… eww). We can also let them know that we have enough sage, mint, rosemary, and oregano growing in our yard to last for years, thankyouverymuch, and once the zucchini succeeds at taking over our whole backyard we have the option to barter our own chemical-free produce for some extra veggies.

It’s best to sign up for a CSA early in the year because they base their spring planting on the number of customers. In most cases Memorial Day is too late, though it’s always worthwhile to check with them directly to see if a slot is still available. In the past I liked to pick up food from the farmer’s market, but I’ve heard that CSAs can be even better for farmers because of this ability to plan crop amounts (and at ours you have to sort out “real local” from Dole and Tropicana). I just went to Local Harvest, popped in our zip code, and looked through the options for one that was reasonably priced and whose shares wouldn’t be too large for just the two of us. If you’re debating about whether to join a CSA, I recommend some of the helpful posts from The Local Cook.

This week’s haul?

Familiar foods: arugula, mesclun greens, sweet basil, baby squash, swiss chard, onions, green beans, and snow peas.

New to us: baby beets (I never buy beets because my husband won’t eat them. I look forward to hoarding these ALL FOR ME! muahaha), turnips (any ideas people? I don’t think I’ve even tasted a turnip before), and green garlic (help! Never used it, but isn’t it beautiful?).

(all pics by author)

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