Dear CSA member,
Congratulations for joining the CSA! Whether you are a renewing member who has belonged for several seasons or if this is your first time, here are some tips to help you use your whole share every week in a time efficient way. It is especially written for those who work outside the home, and want to eat better, but may have little time to cook. The guidelines below can help you prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner in one 40 minute cooking period. They were developed by a busy, long time CSA member who learned to cook using CSA food.
Most of us are used to buying what we like from the grocery store, so cooking seasonally with ingredients that may be unfamiliar is an art and skill that improves with each season. Look at it as a creative, fun endeavor which will benefit your body, heart, mind and spirit. Also, Spiritual Food CSA is unusual in that we work with several Biodynamic and true organic providers around the country, to provide a well rounded a share as possible. So in addition to vegetables and fruits you will be receiving staples such as dried beans and whole grains, to help you make hearty nurturing meals.
Helpful Equipment: Crockpot; Food Thermoses; Blender and/or Juicer; Hand Blender aka immersion blender; 4, 8, 16 oz or quart size Tupperware for freezing; Salad Box—see below under “fresh salads.”
The basic idea is to diversify one’s cooking methods, so that you can serve a well rounded meal in a short time. The main ways to prepare food are: fresh-raw, cooking, freezing, juicing/ blending, sprouts (for that you’ll need sprouting jars and lids—please see attached article for the how’s and why’s of sprouting), or preserved (raw or cooked). This wide “palette” will enable you to use your whole share in an efficient, convenient way—you will be able to make breakfast, lunch and dinner in one preparation period per day, with no need to recourse to the microwave, which compromises the nutritive value of your food. Also, you will be able to make “convenience foods” that will add substance and vitality to your daily fare.
“Cooking” includes stove-top and oven, eg., sauté, soup, stir-fry, stews, baking, pressure cooking, and crock-pot or slow cooking. Get in the habit of cooking big batches so you have some left to freeze in handy serving size containers such as 8 oz for 1 person or quart for a family.
Lacto-fermentation (“sauerkraut”) is an ideal way to use large quantities and daring combinations of any vegetables—roots, greens, anything goes!. The nutrition content actually increases over time thanks to the friendly pro-biotic organisms that ferment the foods, and this makes a wonderful “instant” side dish to accompany whatever you make fresh. One hour of preparation can yields months of handy food!
Juices and blended salads or smoothies are another fast way to use quantities of fresh foods, especially greens, and assimilate all those minerals and vitamins.
And of course fresh salads are a fast, delicious easy way to use the foods. Roots can be grated and combined with greens.
Salad Box -- for a super convenient way to make unpacking, storing and accessing your veggies for cooking easier and quick, use a "salad box". Any plastic bin with cover will do. Readily available in any container store, probably hardware or kitchen supply places too. Worth the minimal investment. A minimum size would be say 6"x12" x 6" high. just make sure it fits on your fridge shelf. Recommend 2 smaller rather than 1 big as it's easier to organize, to pull out, and to wash. When you get your share home, put a variety of veggies right into such as you would use for any meal. Extras can go into plastic bags or fridge drawer as usual. At mealtime, pull out the box and everything is there in one place. You restock it after several uses but it's better than pulling out 5 bags of veggies each meal. Can even keep garlic and ginger, or a lemon in it if you use those.
See below for salad dressing recipe.
Sprouts may be made from the lentils and chickpeas we occasionally receive in the share. This process significantly increases nutritional and digestive value. They are great as a stand alone raw side dish with a little olive oil and salt, or, tossed into a salad to make a substantive meal. Link for how to make sprouts at home.
The cardinal rule for not wasting any of the share is: “Juice or soup”!
Below are some examples of real menus using CSA food with very short preparation time
First, here are some nice spice combos for making any of the dishes below.
Once you get the basic idea of how to make a stew, soup, stir-fry, or crockpot meal, you can vary the taste and nutritional content endlessly by varying the veggies and spices you use for each method.
Nice spice combos:
1) European: any or all: garlic, thyme, oregano, rosemary, sea salt
2) Indian: turmeric, ginger, curry, coriander, cumin, cinnamon
3) Asian: apple cider vinegar, tamari, brown rice or maple syrup or sucanat
Easy and Good Herb Salad Dressing: this posseses great immune boosting and digestive enhancing spices:
Apple Cider vinegar
The above to taste—I prefer ½ C ACV to 3 C olive oil.
Herbs: any or all: oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, garlic, chopped; yellow mustard; raw honey; sea salt; nutritional yeast.
Cooked: soak the oats overnight in 2 parts water and next day to cook add 1 part more milk or water, bring to boil uncovered, simmer stirring occasionally. Only takes about 5 min or cook til done to your liking.
Raw: Oatmeal Muesli. Preparation time: 5 minutes the night before. Ingreds: Combine: ¼ C. rolled oats, ¼ c. water (or more to taste) raisins, and/or dates, cinnamon, pinch salt. Almonds (soaked separately.) In morning slip skins off almonds, add to other ingredients, stir, ready to eat! Optional: dried unsweetened coconut, raw honey.
Menu 1: Stir-fry: Prep and cooking time: 10 mins.
Add preferred oil and spices (choose from above) to pot. Heat and toss in:
Mixed greens, any kind; zucchini, green pepper, fresh corn, tomato. Opt’l: add tempeh or tofu.
Serve with side of home-made lacto-fermented vegetables.
Add preferred oil and spices (choose from above) to pot. Heat and toss in:
Mix of : bok choi, green mustard, kale, cabbage; grated squash and beets.
Menu 2: Stew: Preparation time: 7 minutes. Cooks hands-free 40 mins.
Wash and chop coarsely 1 onion, 2-3 cloves garlic, 2 carrots, bunch greens. Put a half inch water in the bottom. Add salt and desired spices. Cover and bake at 350. Optional: Cut a winter squash in half and bake separately. Combine all ingredients. Done! Can put one serving into a food thermos for dinner—no need to re-heat, and/or can freeze some.
Menu 3: Easy Winter Soup: Prep time: 7 minutes. Cooks hands-free 30 mins til last step which takes one minute.
Chop coarsely: one onion, one celeriac, one turnip, one sweet potato. Add water and spices (choose any or all: ginger, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, curry.) Bring to boil, simmer 30 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon almond butter, puree with hand blender. Done! Make a big batch and freeze extra in 4-8 oz Tupperware for an “instant” meal on a busy day.
Serve with fresh salad and or homemade lacto-fermented veggies.
Dinner: Crock Pot Stew: Prep time; 3 minutes. While stir-frying lunch—put into crockpot: millet, carrot, kale, spices, water. Turn on high, come back in 3-5 hours to a delicious meal ready to eat!
Vary this recipe by changing the grain (quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, wheat berries, etc) or veggies--Use whatever veggies come that week. Just be sure to combine red, orange, or yellow veggies with green, to get all your minerals and vitamins.
Note: crockpots vary in size from individual portions to family size. Most come with recipe suggestions—experiment to find the ideal level of water and cooking time for your creations.
Snack: blender smoothie: handful of any kind of greens and an apple with water and spices to taste, eg., coriander and salt, or honey or stevia
If you receive the raw dairy, it is even easier to add substance and nutrition to your meals. To any of the lunch or dinner options add any or all; a helping of cottage cheese; kefir; sauerkraut; eggs; etc.
Finally, tips on how to use each week’s share will be provided with the weekly share list. Also, be sure to sign up for the Yahoo Chat to see recipe ideas shared by fellow members. And—send your own!