Thursday, July 7, 2016

CSA Week 2

Mixed salad greens, carrot leaves, carrots
This week my CSA box included salad greens, romaine lettuce, carrots, strawberries, mint, sage, bok choy, and a cucumber.
The first thing I did with the food in the box was to mince the sage and mix it with garlic and softened butter for a compound butter. Then I roughly chopped the mint and added it to the jar of peppermint extract that I began last week. I covered the fresh leaves with more vodka and put the jar back in the cupboard. The salad greens fed my sister and I at dinner that same night and provided a salad for me for two more lunches. We enjoyed the strawberries fresh and unadorned. I chopped the carrots and added them to my salads. I separated the carrot leaves from their stems. The leaves went into the salads and a few went into my stir fry dinner on Saturday; the stems will be chopped into small pieces in a stew. The bok choy was really three small heads, altogether being about the size of the romaine lettuce. The first head I sauteed with garlic scapes from last week and marinated chicken and powdered ginger, and uncooked carrot leaves. That was a large dinner for one person but tonight I need to feed four children and myself, so I plan to repeat the same basic recipe, although with beef instead of chicken, but saute some carrots before I add the scapes and bok choy and serve smaller portions with plenty of salad on the side. (Update: my husband and I loved that bok choy. We're ready to add it to our garden in future years.) That salad: The lettuce head from last week was a round head with leaves I could use all the way through. It fed our family for two dinners. This week's lettuce head was a very large romaine. There is a lot more of it but it isn't really as nice. Since the head is obviously as big as it could grow I needed to trim more off the tips and the stems. So the size is larger but I felt like I wasted more of it and I felt like the quality was lower. There is enough lettuce for every dinner though, so we'll have salad from it at least 5 times this week.
Growing up, we didn't eat many vegetables compared to what I feed my own family now. We were required to eat the vegetable served at every dinner, but really that little word "the" means a lot and our portions were sometimes no more than a single spoonful if it was a vegetable we particularly despised. I went ahead and purchased this CSA because I knew that I would be able to use all the vegetables in it. Our family doesn't often eat vegetables at breakfast, but we generally get one serving apiece at lunch and 2-3 servings at dinner, and our servings are much larger than those I endured growing up. When my two oldest daughters were around 3 and 4 years old we decided that the portion size rule for a vegetable from a vegetable tray was the same number of pieces as their current age. So now, my 9 year old picks out 9 baby carrots (or cucumber slices, or cherry tomatoes, or snap peas) to qualify as having eaten her veggies at lunchtime. Cooked vegetables and salad are less fixed but imagine the amount of space that 9 cucumber slices would take on a plate, and that's a good approximation of the serving size I require them to eat before getting served any seconds on another dish and before eating dessert. It's not a hard-and-fast rule, especially when we're not at home, but it helps us all understand the expectations within our family culture. The little kids are not required to finish their vegetables before receiving seconds until I think they truly understand the concept. Our 3 year old is learning that now, which means that she generally has to finish her servings but not always, depending on whether she seems able to handle that requirement at that particular meal (i.e. is she too tired? overstimulated? too attached to the main dish?). Their portions also match their appetite rather than their age, so the 3 year old receives 2 baby carrots and the 2 year old receives 1. I think the 3 year old will graduate to 3 carrots by her half birthday. When I know they don't like a particular vegetable, I still feed it to them, just a very small amount, so they get used to seeing it on their plates. The 3 year old has been seeing lettuce on her plate a couple times a week for 2 years now (without actually eating it in all that time) and just decided to begin eating that single lettuce leaf. She even requested a second leaf recently!! So, really, I would like to increase our vegetable intake even more, but we do eat more than the "average" household. And when I say that the romaine fed us for 5+ times, that means enough lettuce to cover a third to half a large plate for each adult at that meal and the 9 year old, a quarter of a small plate for the 7 year old, and a single torn "bite-size" leaf for each of the toddlers. Each dinner means 1-3 adults, and all children.
The other vegetables we did buy this week: 3 pound bag of carrots, two green bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and a Sam's Club vegetable tray. Of course we still had to buy our normal amount of fruit since a single box of strawberries doesn't go very far around here.

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