Sunday, May 22, 2011

Too much asparagus? No such thing.

Last week at the Featherstone Farm Spring Open House I had several interesting conversations with Featherstone Farm CSA members - some new and some who have been cooking out of the box for a few years now.  I often ask people why they have chosen the CSA experience.  I get lots of different answers -- but a very common one is:  "We want to eat more organic vegetables.  If we sign up for a whole season they come to us automatically and then we HAVE to eat them."  Fair enough.  These folks are willing to give up some control and let the weekly box kind of run their lives - at least when it comes to some of their meals.  They are ready for this commitment and the trade-offs it brings.  They will be a little more tied down, culinarily speaking.  But they will be comfortable.  Secure.  Better fed.  They will know they can count on those boxes of lovely food.  They will have fewer vegetable buying decisions to make.  And lots of vegetables to cook.
Simple pasta sauce: green onions, morels, asparagus and cream (and salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg
But what is security for one household is vegetable tyranny in another.  Consider another conversation I had recently - with someone who likes to play the vegetable field, so to speak. Vegetable commitment is not for them.  They confessed to me that they tried CSA boxes for a few years, but stopped.  They said the reason was that they felt the box was in control of them and not the other way around.  If that was how they felt, I can see why the CSA experience was not for them.

I feel their pain.   There are times when I feel that vegetables are controlling my life.  Like right now.  We have our own asparagus patch, and the spears have been coming on like gangbusters the last few days.  I cannot ignore them.  I have to deal with them.  We have given some away, which is a lot of fun.  We have had asparagus and poached eggs on toast.  Roasted asparagus.  Stir fried asparagus and green onions with rice noodles and tofu (kind of my own version of pad thai).  Asparagus soup.  Scrambled eggs with asparagus and morel mushrooms.  Tomorrow I think I will make asparagus crepes with mushroom sauce. Or perhaps sauteed mushrooms and asparagus with cream over pasta.

Plain steamed asparagus - add to eggs, soup, pasta, salad

Scrambled eggs with morel mushrooms and asparagus.

But I don't mind letting vegetables take control.  I think it is a good thing.  Because we have been eating some really good meals in our house.  It is true that the asparagus is demanding.  Sometimes I even have to put other things aside in order to deal with it.  But it is also so rewarding.  So full of flavor and nutrition.  So fleeting.  Before we know it asparagus season will have passed and something new will be making demands on me  - spinach or lettuce or radishes.  Meanwhile, I have decided that there are worse things than letting vegetables run part of my life.  (And besides, I still get to make lots of important decisions, like what kind of shampoo and toothpaste to use and who to vote for.)

So you can decide where you are on this important issue.  Are you ready to let the contents of your CSA box control at least part of what you eat?  Do you want to reap the rewards that will come from letting seasonal vegetables guide your meal choices?  If you are ready to make a vegetable commitment,  welcome aboard.  We will have some fun this year cooking out of the box.


  1. I can't wait for out first box of the season. I love CSA-style eating because it keept me very much in touch with what is in season. Also, if I eat _all_ those veggies, there's less room my diet for less healthy foods.

    Thanks for all the great asparagus ideas!

  2. when i was in rome a looong time ago, the best thing i ate was a "cream" pizza - meaning a pizza with a cream sauce, in this case, ASPARAGI, as its base. incredible. if you have a good pizza crust recipe, you could do a little experiment...