What’s in the veggie bag this week?

Leeks, lemons, tangerines, apples, and celery roots.

Subscription is the best thing to happen to vegetables since the agricultural revolution. I’m a total convert.

I should eat more fresh vegetables like everybody, but when you put me in front of the that wall of produce at the supermarket, what’s the chance I’m going to pick up (let alone identify) kohlrabi or leeks on a whim? I end up getting things I know I’ll like (or I know will keep), like garlic, onions, carrots, tomatoes, and lettuce (all good, but boring after a while). Beyond that, there’s a risk to buying perishables: if I’ve got no reason in advance to cook them, they’ll end up going bad, and I don’t want to waste food or money (think about the starving children in ___), so I end up taking less risks. It’s a slippery slope that always seems to land at the lowest common denominator.

One of the great benefits of moving to the city has been signing up with a local CSA called Eat with the Seasons. For $15 dollars a week, we get to choose 6 organic and in-season fruits and vegetables from a substantial list, that are then delivered to Stephanie’s pilates studio. Some choices translate to multiple items, so for example a unit of apples might include 4-5, and a unit of leeks would include 2. In the end, those 6 items (the extra-small bag), turn out to be a veritable cornucopia for the two of us. And it’s had some unexpected effects on my cooking and shopping habits.

For one, I’m cooking more. The constant appearance of novel vegetables in various quantities has inspired me to want to do something with them when I come home from work. That and I get home about an hour or two before Stephanie. That and for two weeks we forgot to choose our veggies in time, so they picked things for us that were similar to what we’d gotten previously. Which happened to mean potatoes. Lots of potatoes.

Over the last two weeks I’ve made twice-baked potatoes with ham and spinach,

Twice-baked potatoes

french fries with herbes de provence,

Homemade french fries

and tonight I made a potato gratin with cremini mushrooms.

Potato Gratin

The other thing I’ve noticed is that the predictable weekly appearance of new fruits and vegetables has somewhat lessened that urge to do those mega-restock shopping trips every two weeks, the ones where I always end up getting way more processed food than I need. You know that feeling when there’s nothing left in the house to eat—but actually there’s tons to eat, just nothing attractive, nothing fresh, and nothing to munch on? It seems that always having fresh veggies around makes that yellow curry Thai sauce and those frozen chicken thighs look a lot more palatable.

The other thing that I’m growing to appreciate is that since all the produce comes locally, it’s seasonal by its very nature. Which means we can’t get avocados right now :(, but we can get celery root! At first this was annoying because there were all these autumn vegetables to choose from that we had no interest in (i.e. cabbage and squash), so we ended up getting lots of fruit. But each week the list changes, which means I can see what’s new in a way that I probably won’t register those 8 token celery roots stuffed in the corner at the local grocery market. It also keeps things interesting. I’m actually excited to see what’s new next week (actually next month, they take a few weeks off at the end of the year) and to decide what 6 things we’ll get to pick.

7 Comments

Katie M.

I have this too, I get a box delivered of vegetables, and while I don’t get to pick, I can go online and say I don’t like a certain fruit or veg and they’ll replace it for me. Admittedly, coming from a small, damp sunless island, the produce isn’t as exotic as “lemons” but anything from overseas comes on a boat and is fair trade, particularly bananas, which are the largest selling fruit OR vegetable in the UK. Sainsbury’s alone sells 8000 a second.

Abel and Cole also deliver pantry stuff from fair trade and organic companies, like tea, coffee sugar, a local bakery’s bread, meat from a farm certified organic, and organic dairy products from staffordshire. It’s AWESOME. I love it.

I also have had to be inventive, mostly with chard. There’s a lot of chard this time of year.

I’m very jealous of the life you’re leading Mister. I adore your flat and wish I could bike to work across the golden gate bridge. I dream of the french laundry: it’s on my list of fifty things before I’m fifty.

Glad to hear you’re going to Paris, I was there last weekend revisiting (I left a year ago and still get my hair cut there: it’s very cost effective) and got some laduree macarons (stephanie will know what they are). Sooooo yummy and good…

We also signed for a CSA this year and really enjoyed it. I REALLY wish they would let us choose the veggies we get, as we got more kale than I would want in a lifetime. The best part is they deliver to our door, which means that I can eat fresh local veggies AND be lazy.

Garlic is never, ever boring.

“It’s a slippery slope that always seems to land at the lowest common denominator.” From one what writes as good as you do, Justin, this must be a parody of something. But what?

Andrew, I appreciate the compliment, but that sentence crept out of my brain fully-formed. If it smacks of something else, it’s not something I was conscious of at the time

Are you going to make things that look this tasty for my party?! :)

Katie, great to hear from you. Don’t be too jealous, you live in London! Or at least I think you do. Let me know if you’ll be getting your hair cut in Paris sometime around March 18, I’d love to meet up.

Jackson, there is something about not having picked the vegetables myself that makes them a lot more appealing to me.

Joy, we’ll see. You have any interest in pureed celery root with white truffle oil?

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