Hello! Ada here.
Despite having defrosted and marinated some venison, last night I drove to our nearest restaurant and ordered chips and queso, my favorite plate, and a frozen margarita. The experience was delightful, made even more so by the fun-loving table next to us (who may or may not have sent us a tequila shot for no reason!?). I'm lucky to work from home where I can easily simmer beans all day or harvest some lettuce from the garden for a quick salad. Cooking at my house usually happens easily, without too much anguish, but then there are those nights when YOU JUST DON'T FEEL LIKE COOKING. When you can't the bothered to dirty your kitchen or chop even one onion. Nights when you want to open up a menu, a library of possibilities, and order exactly what your taste buds desire. All this to say, I hope you're finding balance this spring.
Becky's CSA shares are incredible right now. Sure, she pays me to write about her gorgeous veggies, but even if I wasn't on payroll, I'd be singing praises to her colorful and high-quality harvest. It's easy to cook delicious food when your fridge is stocked with fresh and interesting vegetables. Don't believe me? Order a CSA share. And on the nights when you can't be bothered, I'm sure there is a frozen margarita machine within a 5-mile radius of your kitchen.
Growing food, consistently and acres at a time, isn't easy. For the first time, I successfully grew some heads of green cabbage in my spring garden. My planting timing was finally right. If you have a garden at home, you know the joy that can come from growing a big, dense, and edible plant. I hope you'll join me this spring and celebrate our Central Texas farmers. Becky and her team are professional growers - coaxing long lines of carrots to emerge from the sand, and dense cabbage patches, too. The Vrdnt team is working their butt off right now all so that we, their local community, can have safe and nutritious food to eat. Not currently getting Vrdnt CSA shares? Now is the time. And if you are a Vrdnt CSA Member, please nudge a friend who may be CSA-curious. Vegetables don't get better than this, right now. Oh, and in case you missed the announcement: you can now pick up a Vrdnt CSA share at the Mueller Farmer's Market!
For farmers, the first zucchini of the season is like a hug from a distant friend. After a fall and winter full of dark leafy greens (no judgment on our leafy greens), tender and perfect zucchini are novel and exciting. Yes, they're a harbinger of a hot summer to come, but they're also delicious and a welcome disruptor to the barrage of leaves. These first zucchini are special. Save your zucchini bread recipe for later in the season when fatigue sets in, and for now, choose recipes that truly highlight this charming cucurbit.
If I was forced to make a list of vegetables that tasted better from a local farm (I think they all do) compared to ones from a grocery store (grown thousands of miles away), carrots would rank number 1. Locally-grown carrots have superior flavor. When I first had very fresh carrots, plucked straight from the ground, I felt as though I was tasting carrots for the first time... which in a way, I was. Growing up, I've always had an allergy to raw, uncooked carrots. They make my mouth, lips, and throat itch. (Anyone else out there with oral allergy syndrome?) But for some reason, I can eat raw, fresh carrots from farms like Vrdnt. What I can't do, however, is explain why fresh and organic carrots don't illicit a histamine reaction. Higher sugar content? Lack of pesticides? Something that happens when carrots are in storage for a long time making grocery store versions inedible to me? Magic?
Lettuce will be gone before you know it, and familiar salads of toppings amid bright greens will soon be a distant memory. When daily temperatures rise, plants like lettuce will begin to bolt. Plant breeders have developed varieties of lettuces (and herbs like cilantro) that resist bolting, which will extend the season a couple of weeks for us Southern growers, but even still, consistent warm weather can cause lettuce to turn bitter. All this to say, now is the time to make your salad dreams come true.
Despite the fact that I like beets, they're often the last vegetable I tackle when working my way through a CSA share. Maybe it's their deep minerally flavor - bold and intimidating - or the danger of staining everything deep red. Whatever it is, I hate to admit that beets occasionally wither in my crisper drawer. You too? I'm honestly curious. But beets aren't easy to grow! And we'd be doing the Vrdnt farmers an injustice if we didn't eat our beets. Beets' strong flavor works well when balanced with something acidic like tangy yogurt or a sharp vinaigrette.
Before I ever made collard wraps myself, I considered them gimmicky... perhaps too focused on a solution to eliminating carbs, which I don't believe should be eliminated. Why does squash have to be spaghetti and cauliflower rice? But the truth is, when you're a member of a CSA and blessed with a constant influx of seasonal produce, using your vegetables as substitutions for like-ingredients is fun and creative, and a wonderful way to keep things interesting. And let the record show, collard wraps are actually delicious.
Spinach + Kale
Like lettuce, spinach and kale will be gone before you know it. Love 'em while you can.
Dill is my second favorite fresh herb, trailing flat parsley by just a smidge. I love to put fresh dill on EVERYTHING. It can add interest to salads, or brightness to a soup, an herby punch to eggs, and a fresh, grassy, and colorful amendment to cooked grains like white rice. If you're less of a dill fanatic than I am, less eager to chop it and put it on literally anything, might I recommend drying and storing your dill so that you can doll it out in more reasonable increments? Cucumbers will be here later this summer, and if you're feeling classy, you can make some dill cukes.
What I'm Eating:
Lots of salads. Below is a photo of a delicious, albeit unphotogenic, salad I made with some weird things I found in my pantry: Panko fried up with olive oil and lots of herbs and sumac, canned corn, pecans, lettuce, an herby vinaigrette, and more fresh dill.
What You're Eating:
What are you eating? Laura, a long-time Vrdnt CSA Member, is eating vegetable tart with carrot top pesto (see below). Email me a photo if you make something that you loved and want to share!
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