Monday, June 19, 2006

Hooray for our CSA!

I've never been to California, but that's where the nectarine I had as an afternoon snack a few days ago came from. The nectarine was delicious, but as I was eating, I couldn't stop thinking about the events that led to its cross-country trip. Who grew my nectarine? When had it been picked? And by whom? How much were they paid? (The nectarine cost a paltry 18 cents, and I can't help but think that shipping must eat up much of that cost.) Had it been picked firm-ripe, or was it picked green and gassed?

Since I can't answer any of these questions, early this spring I decided to join a CSA farm. The premise of Community Supported Agriculture is simple: each member purchases a "share" of the harvest, and over the course of the growing season gets local, organic, sustainably grown food. There are only two of us in my household, so I'm splitting a share with my friend Ali.

What have we received in our first two weekly pickups? Lots of salad greens: romaine - both red and green, sorrel, and frisee (curly endive). Scallions as long as my arm. Beets and bok choy. Later in the summer we'll head out to Trillium Haven to pick beans, peas, and tomatoes. While I'm excited about trying new varieties of foods and new recipes, and maybe learning how to can, most of all I'm looking forward to having a relationship with the people who grow my food. Plus, with Wal-Mart pushing to get organics on their shelves, eventually industrializing the industry and cheapening the concept, I guess it's safe to say that local really is the new organic.

For a good overview of the CSA movement and its promise, check out this article. To find a CSA farm or farmers market near you, click here.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

When Life Hands You Lemons...

Turn them...

Into this!

Lebanese Potato Salad

... you could make plain old lemonade, or you could try one of the following dishes: Lebanese potato salad, light and luscious lemon bundt cake, or lavender lemonade.

I've been buying lots of organic lemons as of late. For a while, they were sitting in a bowl with some grapefruit, looking pretty. But then I decided to put them to work.

I first tried Lebanese potato salad at Marie Catrib's, a phenomenal restaurant in the East Hills neighborhood, where I used to live. I'll admit that their version is a little better than mine, but every time I make this, I end up eating it as I go instead of waiting for in to chill in the fridge.

Lebanese Potato Salad

6 medium red potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 bunch parsley, rinsed and chopped
sea salt

Boil potatoes until tender. Drain and allow to cool. In a large bowl, mix together potatoes, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley. Add salt and adjust seasonings to taste. Chill and enjoy.

I made the lemon bundt cake from a recipe in the latest issue of VegNews Magazine. I'm not posting the recipe because a) you should pick up a copy at your local independent bookstore and b) I made more than one substitution in the recipe, and although the flavor was good, the cake was more dense and doughy than light and luscious.

To wash everything down, I made some lavender lemonade. Simply steep 1/4 cup of dried lavender in some simple syrup for about 20 minutes, strain, and add to your lemonade.