Wednesday, July 15, 2009

CSA Adventures: "Let's get it on."

Many of us are already well-versed in being eco-friendly, toting our reusable bags full of organic and locally grown Farmer's Market purchases on our bikes or onto the T. With all the hoopla about going "green" and "eco-friendly," it was refreshing to hear first-hand about the benefits of joining a CSA. I first learned about the marvels of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) through my lovely friend Julie (and Adam!), who waxed poetic about the awesomeness that is the weekly box of veggies delivered from a local farm.

It was exciting to think about creative ways to handle a package of vegetables that I've honestly never had to cook with. For example, I can't think of a single Filipino recipe that uses Swiss chard, though I'm sure you could use it in some standard favorites like

Bill and I have also been trying to save more money. With us both having root canals lately, money has been tight and we realized we needed to have more of a financial cushion than we already somewhat had.

Since I've also been on a mission to lose weight through exercising more and ingesting more veggies, Bill's clued me into the Taoist philosophy of eating, which is simply: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. (You can find this philosophy almost everywhere! But Bill got it from )

Really, it seemed like the next logical progression. Bill and I signed up for a $350 half-share from the Stillman's Farm CSA, of which Julie and Adam were super supporters.

Prior to the start of the CSA, I was big on making sure that we were not spending too much money on unnecessary grocery trips and using what we already had in our fridge. We had already increased our intake of vegetables in the summer of 2008, and I even bought a juicer to help us in that process. Anything that looked questionable to me was instantly sent to the juicer. But it would be quite a waste to juice all the CSA veggies.

Will Bill and I be able to make the most of our CSA subscription - not waste anything, save money, and live healthier lives?

Our diets and our wallets are up to the challenge.

With one of their pick up locations at the
Clear Flour Bread in Brookline (but really just off Comm Ave in Packard's Corner), it's an easy Sunday bike ride that gets Bill the Hermit out of the apartment. Getting him out of the apartment at any point gives the CSA subscription major points.

Since it started on June 20th, we've only had to throw away half of our weeks worth of arugula and a really gnarly beet or two or three. As far as saving money, I don't have much to compare it to yet...and besides, I'll let Bill crunch those numbers for me.

Apart from juicing, another saving grace has been that Bill is a master at stir-frying. While juicing is mainly done during the morning for breakfast, stir-frying makes for a fabulous dinner. Traditional stir-frying (with a really hot wok, a couple of quick stirs, and few sauces) is also great because it preserves many of the nutrients. Though Bill's way of stir-frying takes much longer, it's still very healthy.

Bill's standard stir-frying ingredients are sesame oil (first thing in the wok), soy sauce (the one we've used has calamansi juice - a Filipino citrus kind of like a tiny limey orange), and hoisin sauce. It's actually kind of neat that Bill incorporates a bit of Filipino action into the stir-fry.

So simple, so delicious.

I hesitate writing up a recipe only because it's really easy to improvise a stir-fry. So, I'm just going to go over the basics of Bill's genius.

After heating up the wok, Bill throws in some sesame oil to coat the bottom. He'll first throw in garlic and/or ginger, then onions, then one ingredient that might take longer to cook fully like carrots or snap peas. Stirring the items around is key here - you don't want them to fry in the oils necessarily.

When the ingredients have softened a bit, he's thrown in anything else we might have decided to cook, like sliced zucchini, summer squash, and radishes. Lastly, any leafy veggies like kale, Swiss chard, and spinach are thrown in. Depending on the amount, you might need to add a bit more sesame oil. When it's all in there, throw in some soy sauce and a little bit of hoisin sauce, and you're good to go.

Now, all of that is amazing in and of itself. And ridiculously filling!

But then Bill will do something like throw in pine nuts, toasted cashews (toasted in the wok prior to the sesame oil), or even already-cooked frozen shrimp from Trader Joe's. *drool*

This isn't your everyday ordinary stir-fry anymore. Not only have we ingested tons of veggies and spent minimal dollars for extra ingredients, we also usually have enough left over for lunch the next day (over rice to help absorb extra saucey goodness).

So far, it's been a great way to enjoy and not waste our weekly CSA treasures.


  1. awesome! i tried growing my own herbs, but that was a disaster :(

  2. I LOVE that you are juicing!! Way to go!! Miss you so much...maybe you can come out to Waltham and check out my gardens when our tomatoes come in!! :)

  3. Oh man...I only wish we were able to grow tomatoes and herbs! Our sad apartment doesn't have the right kind of light :(

    Rebecca, I'd love to see you soon!! Let me know when the tomatoes are ready! :)


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