CSA Survival Tip #7: Involve your kids (and spouse!) in your CSA expericne

Veggies and fruits may be awesome, but if you’re the only one in your family who thinks so, you better reallllly think they’re awesome – because you’ll bust your tummy trying to eat your share allll by your onesie!

So, best bet is to get the whole fam on board. *Really, this tip should have come earlier in the season, but it just occurred to me. This would have been very helpful info when we started out! So, file for next year, at the least*.

How do you involve your kids and spouse (or even guests)?

Here are a few ideas:

Make it look good. If you’re home during the day, or even for weekend lunches, you can make lunch a fun CSA experience. Here’s a photo of a really surprising and colorful lunch! Purple cauliflower, pasta with tomatoes and onions, and orange cantaloupe!




Insist your spouse not make icky faces or say negative things about veggies. And yes, there are ways to kindly insist. I’m not sure what they are. But, use your imagination, or look it up on another blog. If nothing else, remind him of the money you’ve already spent, so might as well enjoy it! Above all, set a good example yourself.

Visit the Farm if you can. This is a fun experience, and will get them thinking about how all the stuff gets from the field (which they have now seen) into the box you pick up down the street. We live about 90 miles from our farm, so sadly we’ve never done this. But I rely on good evidence from friends who have – it is a great experience.

Involve them in choosing, like we did with these Veggie quesadillas. The kids can choose pepperoni and cheese (those are the no brainers) but they have to choose 3 colors (of veggies. Yeah, don’t let them “fool” you with, “The Pepperoni is RED mom, R-E-D!” That didn’t fly at our house.)Ask your spouse to think of recipes they’d like the family to try. Maybe a pizza heavier on the veggies (while still including meats, if you like?) Calzones? Eggs scrambled with peppers and zucchini?

Preserve some of the harvest, or read about how people have done this to survive. Little House on the Prairie, anyone? How about freezing corn with kids? That was the tip from a week back – check it out!

Share it with others. Recently when my mom and bro came over, I had planned on using up a LOT of veggies. We had Confetti Kale (corn, kale, shredded carrots, and onions, sauteed in oil) and an eggplant parmesan bake, with some fresh fruit. I was able to about triple how many veggies I would have used just for us – which helped me use stuff up, as well as brag on the CSA. You can also give produce you won’t use up to a food pantry, neighbor or friend in need, or bring to your church.

Be sneaky. This is a favorite with kale, which no one would ASK for by name, but if its served with macaroni with Wildtree Kids Cheez sauce (an all-natural, additive free ‘mac and cheese’) with teeny kale bits that I’ve whipped up in my food processor, they’ll gobble it up! I made for lunch the other day: 1 head of chopped cauliflower, 1 onion, 2 carrots, 3 sm. green peppers, and poured over it Wildtree Alfredo Extraordinare. Oh, and did I mention it had a WHOLE bunch of chopped kale in it? Also, I throw lots of things into ‘salads’, including beet greens, kale, and chard. Having good additive free Wildtree dressings helps, too.

Be real. Think of what you normally eat, and veggi-fy it. Add small chunks of veggies to burgers. When you stir fry, go lighter on the chicken, heavy on the veggies. Add sides like corn, or beets. Keep trying – and don’t be afraid to insist everyone takes a bite of everything. In time, they won’t balk. My kids are getting pretty good, but even they have their moments. It is a constant thing to keep ahead of — but the rewards are great!

CSA Survival Tip #6: Freeze Corn with your Kids.

I truly do like to garden, preserve food, cook, and do quirky things like have backyard chickens in the city. But, I’m also a wife and mom (in fact, that comes first! Always!), and while my family supports me, I don’t want to let my interests totally take over so that I’m ignoring the family. Which, I have to admit,is hard as the interests sometimes take up a lot of time and brain space.

So, to that end, I try to teach and involve them when possible. One such example (and a successful one!) was preserving a batch (10 ears) of frozen sweet corn!

I could have my 6 year old time the already-husked ears in the the pot of boiling water, and with my supervision, he could use a long tongs to take the ears out of the water, and put them in our sink full of cold water and ice cubes.

My 8 year old could measure out two cups of corn into prepared freezer bags. My 5 year old could open the bags for him.

I cut the kernels off the cob and into a glass pan. I then later sealed them up with a borrow ‘Food Saver’ type device.

It was actually *gasp* fun. I hope we’ll be able to do this more in the future. We froze enough corn for 4 side dish meals, in about 45 minutes. I thought that was pretty good. And, it was time that mom was not lost in her own ‘food preservation’ world, but I could involve them and we could just talk and be together as we did it. Nice.

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CSA Survival Tip #5: Roast, Pickle and Freeze Peppers

Have you eaten enough fresh sweet and hot peppers yet? If you can’t keep up, try these simple methods to preserve the rest!

I was inundated over a couple of weeks with just toooo many. Especially with the hotter peppers, I use them seldom at this point, and so needed to ‘deal with them’, because heaven forbid I would throw them away! Unthinkable.

A recipe for roasting:

Toss very lightly with an oil of your choice (or drizzle over) Lay the peppers on a baking sheet. I cut the tops off mine, but did not seed them. Broil at 500 for 5-7 minutes at a time, turning, until they’ve developed a brown, charred exterior. Some people then take the skin off (perhaps putting in a container, like a glass pan covered with a towel, to continue steaming, for a few more minutes, say, 10), but I just let them cool, and put them in freezer safe baggies. This was the first time I’ve tried this, and apparently the hotter peppers tend to mild and sweeten with this treatment. We shall see.


A recipe for pickling:

I used a post on The Purple Foodie blog as a reference, and this post referenced another blog, with a helpful tip about knowing how much pickling liquid to prepare: Fill your jar with sliced jalapeno or mixed peppers. Then, top up with water. Pour the water out into a measuring cup, and once you take that measurement, dump half the water out, and add apple cider vinegar to make up the amount you lost. Genius!

I then adjusted the spice ratio according to the Purple Foodie recipe, and it really couldn’t have been simpler! I left my two jars of pickled jalapenos out on the counter for about 5 days, and have just stuck them in the fridge. My hausband who is the pickled jalapeno pepper, will give a final pronouncement on that sooner, I would expect.

A recipe for freezing:

Slice, or leave whole. Seed peppers (or don’t). Put in a baggie or freezer safe container. Put in freezer. Simple!

I do miss peppers in the winter, and last year is seemed like I froze a TON — then ran out about December (and that was using them sparingly, frugally). It is humbling to consider how much fresh food a family would need to preserve to get them through the winter.

CSA Survival Tip #4: Conquering Weird Vegetables You Never Heard Of

I’m back with a survival tip this Friday!

Consider this a tip, or a challenge – but either way, hear me on this – every vegetable is a victory!

It has taken me 4 CSA seasons to conquer FENNEL.

I’m not a person that enjoys a lot of anise taste. And this kept me scared enough from trying to do much with fennel.

The first year we joined our CSA, we received several humungous bulbs of fennel. And I considered the options: I didn’t have any ideas, and I didn’t like how it smelled. I tried to give it away, and ended up composting it.

Sad, as I just made the most amazing soup, and thus: Victory (and good health, good stewardship, and all kinds of good stuff) is mine!

So, my advice in this tip is kind of an old adage, applied to the CSA: If at first you don’t succeed in eating it, try, try, try some more recipes. Click here to see my fennel soup recipe.

What veggie still has you stumped?

CSA Survival Menu #2: The all and nothing vegetable: Zucchini!

I am calling it an all-and-nothing vegetable, because it is really so versatile. You can let it absorb so many flavors, because it really doesn’t have so much of a pronounced taste of its own!

It is also very prolific in the garden, and sometimes even those of us with the best of intentions at a certain point run screaming from the very sight of it, a bit later in the season, when we have seen 500 zucchini.

Don’t let it happen to you.

Here are a few simple and YUMMY and versatile recipes, as versatile as this all-and-nothing vegetable itself.

Shred it!

Do you think I’m going to give you a recipe for zucchini bread? Ok, while I appreciate a good zucchini bread as much as the next person, “zucchini bread” is just basically a vehicle for me to get my chocolate-chip fix. Yum! But, what else can you do with shredded zucchini? Just about anything!

  • – to save on money for expensive ground meat (organic stuff gets pricey, y’know) I like to mix a half pound of ground beef with a plentiful grating of zucchini. The veggie absorbs the flavor of the meat, and also has a firm texture. You can even grate it, and then also chop it in a food processor, so it is in bits, which even further blends in with the meat!

    Shredded Zucchini/Beef Stroganoff, with a Buffalo White Sauce – rave reviews from Hub’band et al.

  • – to add to stir fry meals, and soups (but only add it in soups for the last couple minutes before serving, or it turns grey and gets a little icky-looking, say the children in my house.
  • – You can also blanch and squeeze excess moisture out and freeze in 1 or better yet, 2 cup portions. Fiberiffic and moisture! Save a few for your favorite sweet bread recipe when you need a shot of something tasty in the dark of winter.

Slice it!

  • – Here are some pics of a great and easy way to make zucchini chips! Just add a little oil and your favorite seasoning, and broil until its done to your liking. I like mine slightly brown on the outside, but soft on the inside.

Fry it?

  • – you can batter and fry these little chips, too, which is very delicious. I like to do a dip in egg wash, onion ring mixture, and a little parmesan. Nothing I do very frequently because of the labor intensity, but its very good.

Fill it!

  • – Our CSA grows an ‘8-ball’ variety of squash, which is fun to cook. I cut in half, hollow out the seeds and squishy part, then fill with all kinds of things, depending on my mood. These photos show some cheese and other veggies as the filling, which I chopped in the food processor and mixed together, then squished into the halves. Put the halves in a pan, cover with foil, and bake at 375 until nice and hot and bubbly – around 35 minutes or so.  (Alternately, you can cut it like a pumpkin, fill it, then put the ‘cap’ on to bake. It is cute this way. It tastes the same.) You can fill this kind of a zucchini squash with a mixture to suit your meals theme – Tex-Mex, Indian, Italian like mine, Hamburger/Cheeseburger – many, many possibilities. This is also a good way to use up your ‘Oops squash.” As in, “Oops, I was picking squash and somehow didn’t notice this one, for days and days, until it got too big, and really the only good use for it is to hollow it out and fill it and bake it.”

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I’d be interested to know other favorite zucchini squash recipes. Do you have any to share with us?

Next on my list to try:

Zucchini as a pasta (and I think you can even freeze it like this!)! I will report back to you all and tell you how it goes for me. Until then, you can read about this recipe here at this link.