The five little things that made my week…
1. The garden is a tangled mess of nasturtium vines right now, which are slowly dying back with our dry spell. But one bonus crop is a bright spot amidst all the brown: nasturtium seeds! I wait for them every year as the flowers start to shrivel but the seeds are still fresh and green. Harvest a handful of them to make your very own “capers”! While not true capers, they’re peppery and tangy and delicious in a number of dishes. I call them poor man’s capers and a little goes a long way in the kitchen!
Every year, there seems to be a new “superfood” on the scene. Blueberries. Pomegranates. Acai berries. Purple kale. What they all have in common, besides being the “it” ingredient in countless smoothie recipes, is the presence of anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins are naturally occurring compounds that give plants their vibrant purple, pink, red, and blue coloring and are found in the roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits. They also have antioxidant abilities and are believed to be anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer. (I’ve written more about anthocyanins — and their health-boosting and color-shifting properties — in red cabbage and purple beans.)
Because of all these benefits — and the fact that they add a gorgeous pop of color in a garden dominated by greens — many of my favorite things to grow are rich in anthocyanins, from raspberries to mulberries, red beets to purple broccoli.
And carrots. Carrots of all colors, but especially red and purple. When I came across Pusa Asita carrots, which claim to be almost entirely black, I was intrigued.
I’ve always been curious about the meal delivery services that are so prolific these days. You know the ones: the company sends you a box of fresh, perfectly portioned ingredients, you cook and assemble them in your own kitchen using their recipes. So maybe not so much a meal delivery, but a meal kit delivery… or a DIY meal delivery. At the end of the day, you still get a hot and healthy meal on your table and spare your family another night of takeout.
While I think they’re an innovative way for novice cooks to learn the ins and outs of flavor and technique, I’ve wondered whether these services would be useful for more experienced cooks, or those with pickier palates. Would the recipes be too basic? Would there be enough variety to suit every taste? I would soon find out.
For months I eagerly anticipated meeting the little one, and true to her nickname, Sprout — our darling Gemma Lumen — arrived on March 20, the first day of spring, after almost 16 hours of labor. It was long and grueling, but the gush of relief I felt with that final push sent a surge of endorphins through my body that I’ll never forget.
To celebrate the first anniversary of the release of The CSA Cookbook, today’s post goes back — way back, to the beginnings of the CSA movement and the people and places I visited while promoting my book on a cross-country road trip. Enjoy this little slice of American farm history!
It’s been estimated that there are between 6,000 and 6,500 CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms in the United States today. It’s hard to get an accurate count because such farms aren’t tracked by the government, and there’s no definitive answer to what constitutes a “CSA farm” for the USDA Agricultural Census.
But in 1986, the count was much more clear-cut: two. There were only two CSA initiatives, Indian Line Farm in Massachusetts and Temple-Wilton Community Farm in New Hampshire.
Both operations still exist, and in fact, Indian Line Farm and its founder, Robyn Van En, have largely been credited with pioneering the CSA concept in North America. (You can read more about those early days in my previous post about CSA farms.)
When I took off on The CSA Cookbook Road Trip in the summer of 2015, I knew I needed to visit the birthplace of such an influential movement in the food and farm industry.
I’m often asked what working at home entails as a lifestyle blogger. I think the perception is that bloggers sit around all day sipping artisanal coffee, Instagramming said coffee, enjoying a day of leisure while fielding emails from brands that want to drop free products on them. I think people picture me rolling out of bed, strolling through the garden, making a meal and then photographing and blogging about it.
These are the same people who usually say things like, “Damn, I should be a blogger! I’d love to make money taking pictures of my home/food/life!”
I can’t quite believe that we’re a week away, more or less, from meeting our little Sprout. Nine months certainly fly by before you know it… three seasons of gardening, three trimesters of baking, and soon a third human appearing in the house. I almost can’t wrap my mind around that, though I’m exceptionally eager to meet her.