July 6, 2012

Let the Farm Box Adventures begin

Community supported agriculture (CSA) is a new concept to me, having heard about it from watching Food Inc. a few years ago.  According to LocalHarvest.org, the program has been around for over 20 years. 
Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. (Read more here.)

I have been looking for a program that has a pick up schedule that would work for me, but for a while I couldn't find one. They were all in the mid-afternoon at some schools. Not at all convenient.

Then a friend signed up for one that delivers to your house.  Just as I was looking into that service, my other friend Wyatt posted about Tanaka Farms CSA boxes on his Facebook.

Most of us Orange County residents have grown up knowing of Tanaka Farms for their strawberries and their farm tours. When I first visited the U.S., my aunt took my mom and I to their farm stand down the street in Garden Grove. I had never seen strawberries so BIG in my life! For many years, I would smuggle containers of strawberries and cherries back to Thailand as gifts.  Long story short, Tanaka Farms is the name I trust when it comes to good produce.

And then I found out that they have pick-up location at Long Beach Whole Foods from 4-8 p.m. on Fridays. Talk about a perfect match!  I signed up almost right away for a small CSA box, every other week.

My first box was picked up at the end of June. I didn't know what to expect but yet I was very excited of the possibilities.  For a household of two, the small box every other week was more than enough.  I had to throw a few things away because I couldn't get to them fast enough, and I traded/gave away a few other items that Brandon doesn't like to eat. e.g. corn.

No knowing what's coming in the box keeps you on your toes for sure. And it also makes grocery shopping and meal planning exciting.

For example, there were some Red Russian kale in the first box. I didn't know what they were except that they looked like kale. So I had to look them up.  Then I looked up a recipe to cook them because I had never cooked with kale before.  Voila! We found out that we DO like kale around here!

As I picked up my 2nd box today, I thought I should probably bring you guys along my cooking adventures. The photos may not be perfect and the results might be disastrous. But at least I can keep you guys entertained.

And hopefully, I would inspire you to join a CSA program in your neighborhood.

Without further ado...

This week's bounty
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Summer squash (aka Pattypan squash)
  • Oranges
  • Corn -- will be given away...so don't worry about that

Tanaka Farms CSA Box

Tonight's dinner: Roasted carrots and pork chops. (Jamie Oliver's recipe).

Tomorrow night's dinner: Chicken Caesar salad. (Another Jamie's recipe. Yes, I'm just a wee bit obsessed with Jamie these days. Don't get me started on the 30 Minute Meals series. Hee.)

Veggie I've never cooked before: Summer squash.

What would you do with this CSA box? Do share some good recipes and ideas...especially for the summer squash. lol

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