csa

The Good & Bad of our First CSA Box

It’s been 25 weeks of eating local foods.

We received 11 CSA boxes, and now we are officially done. Overall, how did we like our experience? Read more to find out.

 

The Good

There are a number of aspects of the CSA that we really liked.

The location

We were lucky enough to live very close to our pick up location at Green City Market. It was easy to just walk over there on a Saturday morning, as opposed to having to get in the car and drive somewhere.

The variety

One of the reasons we picked this specific CSA is because it included fruit, which was important to me. We received a lot of different produce throughout the season, and it provided us with a lot of new experiences.

The quality

Our fruits and veggies were some of the most flavorful produce we had ever tasted. If you have grown up on commercial supermarket strawberries and then taste an actual strawberry, the different is life-changing.

The meal planning

It was nice to get our box and then plan the next week’s meals all around it. It also helped us make sure we got the most out of the box.

The Bad

There were also aspects of the CSA that irked us a bit.

The lack of flexibility

If you are out of town the weekend of your CSA box, basically you are out of luck. There is no holding of your box somewhere, and you can’t get an extra box another time. Luckily, we were only out of town once and I finagled my cousin into coming to get our box for us and leaving it at our apartment.

The quantity

Our CSA options were a full share (once a week) and a half share (every other week). We consulted with the farm to see what was the right size, explaining that we cooked pretty often. They suggested a full share, but we were still concerned that would be too much, so we chose the half share. Thank goodness we did! The sheer quantity of produce was almost mind-boggling for our tiny kitchen and fridge. Every other week we had to play Tetris to fit everything in.

The pressure

This goes along with the quantity issue. We felt so much pressure to cook and eat our produce before it went bad, or before our next CSA box came. Half the time I would open the fridge and feel like, “OMG we have to eat the kale NOW!”

The waste

Waste also goes along with the quantity and the pressure. If we did not use the produce fast enough or did not figure out what to do with it fast enough, we often ended up with some rotten veggies. We do have compost, so we were able to at least use that, but I would have liked to not waste anything in general.

Overall

I would say it was worth it and we will most likely do it again next year. For now, though, we are going to enjoy being free from the pressure and only purchase produce we know we can eat in a timely manner.

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Buying Local: Week 24

It’s our last CSA box this week. I am kind of sad, but am also kind of happy. We have an unreal amount of apples for the size of our fridge (which is not even full size). I have to play Tetris to get them all to fit in the drawer.

That means I am going to have to do some baking or giving away. Anyone want some apples?!

Next week I will be reviewing our entire CSA experience. So look out for that!

last CSA

What We Bought:

  • Bread from Local Foods
  • Sausages from Local Foods
  • Eggs from Local Foods
  • Mustard from Local Foods
  • Spinach
  • Delicata Squash
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Assorted apples
  • Leek
  • Russian Blue potatoes
  • Sweet peppers
  • Green Beans

What We Learned:

  • Look out next week for when I review our whole local foods/CSA experience!

 

Buying Local: Week 22

Thank goodness apples keep for a long time because we are overflowing over here. I already gave some away to friends on Saturday and am even considering bringing some in for people at work.

This week is the end of the sweetcorn, which I am kind of happy about because I am corned out. Too much. And we still have some in the freezer…

csa week 10

What We Bought:

  • Green Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Empire and honey crisp apples
  • Arugula
  • Red mustard
  • Yukon Potatoes
  • Kalettes ¬†(Kale sprouts)
  • Sweetcorn
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Apple cider
  • pumpkins (for decorating, not eating)

What We Learned:

  • K pickled his first batch of green beans, we shall see how they taste
  • I think I said this before, but omelets are great ways to use up some produce, paired with some homemade home fries

 

Buying Local: Week 21

We are in the middle of a CSA box from last weekend, and it is one of the last boxes we will receive. Our CSA ends at the end of October. ūüė¶

Some homemade chili tied us over for most of the zombie jetlag last week and we did not eat at home a couple nights.

Now that we are a week and a half out from vacation, we are fully back in our regular schedules, and getting back to eating regularly and normally. Eating 6 large pretzels over 3 days is not normal (I am looking at you Munich and Oktoberfest).

 

DINNER

Our first real homemade meal back. 

 

What We Bought:

  • From Local Foods
    • Whole chicken
    • Milk
    • Sausages
    • French bread
  • From¬†Nichol’s Farm in Marengo, IL
    • Carrots
    • Broccoli
    • Green beans
    • Mixed Greens

What We Learned:

The Great Compost Fiasco of 2017

With all of our CSA produce, we have been producing a lot of food scraps that we toss in our compost bucket. So much so that the bucket is totally full before pick-up time.

The first time this happened, I tossed some compost extras into a double lined paper (compostable over plastic) grocery bag, folded it over tightly and left it in the space between our fire escape’s door and the screen door. When pick-up day came, I just put the paper bag out with the compost bucket.

It all worked out just fine.

Before we left for vacation, I tried this bit again, putting the paper bag of food scraps in between the doors. I kind of forgot it was there and we jetted off to Europe for 10 days. Little did I know that it was going to basically be 90 degrees in Chicago the entire time we were gone.

Thus it was a recipe for disaster.

When we got home, the apartment had a little bit of a funk, but I did not think anything of it. I went to put our shoes on the fire escape to air out and a flock of bugs spewed into the apartment! Quickly shutting the door, I came to the terrible realization of what had happened. Unfortunately,  I was not able to actually open the door for confirmation unless I wanted to be assaulted by insects.

So I had a hot, smelly, rotten, bag of food scraps sitting in between our doors.

Great.

The only way to clean up this mess without letting all the bugs in the apartment meant I had to climb up the fire escape and open the screen door from the outside.

Armed with a trash bag, I took a deep breath and opened the door to free the insects who made their home in my bag of bug food. I scooped what I could into the trash bag before the soggy paper bag ripped, spilling old peppers onto the vestibule.

I plucked them up from the decaying food slime that had oozed out of the bag and shoved them into the trash bag. I propped the door open to air out the stink/bugs and ran back down the fire escape to the trash can.

Once inside, I filled up a pitcher of water and poured it over the ooze layer between the doors. Finally, I sprayed some Lysol over it to maybe make it less smelly.

So I tried to keep some organic matter from a landfill and failed miserably…

I won’t be trying the paper bag bit again anytime soon.

 

Buying Local: Week 19 and 8th CSA

This week we had to do a lot of cooking, storing, and preserving of our CSA box. That is because we are going to be out of town (and the country) for the next 10 days. More on that tomorrow.

Once we got home from the farmers market with our box, K got right to work making a pepper sauce and a tomato sauce. We sliced the corn off the cob and froze that for later.

CSA week 8

What We Bought:

  • From our CSA in Marengo, IL
    • Honey Crisp apples
    • Mixed Cherry tomatoes
    • Roma beans
    • Sweet colored peppers
    • Eggplant
    • Korean or tropical melon
    • Mirai Sweetcorn
    • Leek
    • White kennebec¬†potatoes
  • From Local Foods
    • Bread
    • Chicken
    • Sausages
    • Sprecher’s root beer (yum!)
    • A soft pretzel
    • Onion

What We Learned:

  • K is really good at accidentally making tomato soup. He originally was going for making a sauce with all the tomatoes we got, but it ended up being really amazing.
  • There are still some veggies we have to freeze or give away!

Buying Local: Week 18

We are rolling a bit behind this week. We lost some produce due to mold (peaches, eggplant, tomatoes). Going out to eat for two meals over the weekend also did not help and kind of set us back on using produce.

CSA week 7 v2

What We Bought:

  • Hamburger buns from Evanston, IL

What We Learned:

  • Real food can get moldy FAST. Some of my peaches did not even make it 5 days, and some of our tomatoes and peppers had to go straight to the compost bucket.
  • Potatoes and onions should not be stored together. We are a bit tight on kitchen storage so we had both of them in the same drawer. Now we have them separated.
  • You’re not supposed to store cucumbers in the fridge. No wonder they didn’t make it.

Buying Local: Week 17 & 7th CSA

These CSA boxes/bags ARE GETTING HEAVY!

That’s also because we got a melon this week!¬†CSA week 7

What We Bought:

  • Mixed Cherry tomatoes
  • Assorted slicing tomatoes
  • Red Cabbage
  • Shishito Peppers
  • Tropical melon
  • German Butterball Potatoes
  • Mirai Sweetcorn
  • Kohlrabi
  • Japanese eggplant
  • Zestar apples
  • Peaches from St. Joseph Michigan

 

corn chowder

K’s homemade corn chowder used up some CSA potatoes and corn

 

What We Learned:

  • More about vegetarian cooking. K bought a new cookbook so we could further utilize our boxes instead of relying on vegetables only as sides.
  • Meal planning is so important in order to use what we have available without wasting it.
  • Our compost game is STRONG! The last two months we have overflowed our bucket and had to have extra containers at pick up time.

 

vegetarian cookbook

K’s new cookbook

 

Buying Local: Week 16

We are ALMOST FINISHED WITH AN ENTIRE BOX!!

The cauliflower is on the meal plan for tomorrow, and I eat an apple every day. Now what to do with all those cucumbers?

Sixteen weeks into this journey K has finally figured that we should take a closer look at a more plant-based diet. We shall see where that takes us.

Our CSA box runs through October and it is already time to start thinking about signing up for a fall box that would last through December. It is definitely something to consider!

CSA week 16

What We Bought:

  • Brussel sprouts from Marengo, IL
  • Spring lettuce mix from Marengo, IL
  • Oberweis¬†milk from family farms around IL and WI
  • Turano¬†bread from Berwyn, IL
  • Corn from the Midwest (grocery store was not very specific…)

What We Learned:

  • How to freeze apples, beets, corn, and tomatoes. The apples and beets will be used in smoothies and the tomatoes for sauces.
  • How to blanch¬†tomatoes.
  • K tossed some of the frozen corn into our chicken and bean quesadillas the other night and it was super convenient to have cut up corn on hand.
  • We did end up getting additional corn from the grocery store, but both of us have declared that farmers market corn tastes way better.

Buying Local: Week 15 & 6th CSA

We have really been rolling with our box this week.

K made a tasty veggie ragu Saturday night, then we used the cucumbers in a tangy yogurt sauce Sunday, and we also tried our hand at cooking green beans two different ways.

CSA week 5

We are going to attempt to finally get through an entire box without any of it going to waste. I will keep you updated if we accomplish that. Fingers crossed.

What We Bought:

  • Bell peppers
  • Red thumb potatoes
  • Mix tomatoes
  • Jersey mac and pristine apples
  • Mira sweetcorn
  • Candy onions
  • Newhall Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Assorted cucumbers
  • Green Beans
  • Jalepenos

    veggie sauce

    veggie ragu sauce

What We Learned:

  • Thank goodness we have compost because we are creating a lot of food waste when we don’t get to something on time.
  • To use up some of the veggies from the previous week and a couple of the new ones, K made a fantastic red vegetable sauce. We ate some and then froze the rest.
  • You can freeze corn! We got 6 ears of corn in our box so we are going to save a few by cutting the kernels off the cob and freezing it for later.