“Eat your vegetables and you can have a cookie.” It’s a line I have used many times in the past, on both my daughter and my husband. They eat most vegetables just fine without prodding- broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, salad greens- no problem. However, add a box of veggies fresh from the farm that includes things like kale, fennel, beets, swiss chard and other vegetables we always admired for their vibrant colors, but intimidated us in the produce aisle, and I get a lot of questions and weird stares. I always thought of myself as an adventurous eater, but for some reason cooking greens and vegetables I didn’t grow up eating scared me a little. The want for more healthful living, the constant worry that my family wasn’t eating enough greens, and the concern of staying away from pesticides and harmful fertilizers led me on the quest to search for the rumored CSA. Growing up in my household, beets were the almost neon red things that came out of a can. They topped the infrequent salad that accompanied dinner. Kale- what’s that? How do you eat it? One of our very first boxes, received in winter, held red frill. It looked very intimidating with its spiky leaves, but we bravely gave it a go. Trying to figure out its slightly bitter edge and which taste buds to file it under. Thankfully, shortly after that, Spring came and with it an abundance of more familiar, yet extraordinarly better produce than we were used to. Beautiful, multi colored carrots, delicate lettuce, and herbs that put huge smiles on our faces. It’s hard to really want to transform such beautiful produce into anything more than a sliced, slightly sauteed and seasoned version of itself, but sometimes I find myself needing to get a little more creative to get my family to eat it and that is my mission here. A cookie may sometimes still be necessary as incentive for trying a new veggie or one they’re not used to, but we’re working on it. And that’s really all I can ask for.
“Mom/Honey, what is this?” My husband and daughter will ask as they hold up their forks draped in dark greens or poke at the veggies on their plate like they’re about to get up and walk. Since we began picking up our CSA shares, about a year ago, I got asked this question at dinner time a lot. But in the year since, my family has surprised me. My daughter, once a self-professed cucumber hater, fell in love with beautiful, tiny, crispy, white cucumbers from our CSA box. She would eagerly root around in the bags on a return trip from the farmer’s market to see if there were any cucumbers inside. She now regularly requests cucumbers for her school lunches. My husband and even some of our dinner guests raved over the onion sprouts that came in our box. My daughter likes to peruse the veggies as I ready them for storage when we get home from our site pick up every other week. I show her the little bugs that sometimes come clinging to the produce and used to wig me out at first. A little soak in veggie wash and a spin takes care of them and I realized I’d much rather find a few stragglers in my produce than to consume the pesticides that would otherwise kill them. If it kills them, what will it eventually do to me? She recently asked me if I can make bread or muffins with our vegetables. That made me happy that she sees vegetables as something that can be transformed. I’m thinking of indulging her with zucchini muffins or something like them depending on what is in season. We have learned a few things along the way in our quest for more veggie consumption, I have had a few disastrous attempts at cooking unfamiliar things and some very succesful ones, like discovering that kale and chilaquiles, a spicy mexican dish made with crispy tortillas, work very well together. I’ve also discovered that eating more vegetables doesn’t have to be boring or mean salad everyday. I want to share those successes and maybe the fails too and I want to have a little fun in the process, maybe in the form of cookie fridays? Possibly every third friday just to keep the cookies in the “sometimes” food category (thanks for that lesson Cookie Monster). I hope you stick around and try new things with me!
Here is the list of what our CSA box held this week and any produce I use in any recipes or meals posted that didn’t come from the CSA share I will label as such.
Carrots (red and orange)
Green Garlic (the mother of all garlic- I dream about this stuff!! More on that later.)
Kale (not sure of the variety)
Micro Beets (like the taste of a full sized beet in a tiny little leaf-neat!)
Next post- what I’ve done this week with these guys.