I have a small vegetable garden, two four-by-eight foot beds plus some containers, that usually gives mixed results – somewhat due to living in a wonderful but heavily tree-covered area in an old part of Colorado Springs. (In fact, the trees are part of what makes it wonderful ….just not so wonderful for veggie gardens.) Why, just last week, I excitedly harvested five green beans and three tomatoes. No, not five pounds of beans and three pounds of tomatoes – five individual beans and three tomatoes. My husband joked we could have three bean salad (with two beans left over!).

So I’ve toyed with the idea of signing up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share to supplement what our garden provides us. I’ve never taken the leap though. I diligently researched the different options this past spring. (My friend Kate does a terrific food blog called Local Dish – localdish.net – and she did a nice post summarizing the local CSA options last spring – see her “Are You CSAing This Year?” post.) And then, I didn’t sign up. So, lucky us! Our friends who DID sign up for a CSA with Javernick Farms had a trip to Ireland planned for much of September and invited us to take their CSA produce for those three weeks. (Thanks Kate! Yup, the same Kate of Local Dish.)I decided I would take a break from garden and plant posts and slip into (bad) food blog mode to tell the story of our three weeks with the CSA. Good food blogging is hard work. For example, food bloggers work really hard on their photos. Part of the hard work for me was remembering to even TAKE photos. So, you’ll just have to enjoy the ones I took. No fancy dishes or prep tools – just my real and messy kitchen!

Week 1 (produce picked up on Sep 7)

When my husband showed up at the appointed place and time to pick up the produce, there was a note asking him to knock on the door when he arrived. The kind lady who lived at the house where the pick-up happens for Javernick’s CSA brought out a large bag full of LAST WEEK’S produce to add to the current week! Apparently our friends hadn’t picked up the week before either, so we got a bonus week.

What We Got

2 eggplants, 3 pounds of potatoes, a bunch of 7-8 okra, a spicy yellow pepper, a serrano pepper, a couple of green bell peppers, an acorn squash, a delicata squash, two bunches of turnips (one from the previous week and one for the current week), 3 large cucumbers, 1 zucchini

I have to admit that I had to look up pictures of the acorn and delicata squash just to be sure of what they were. I also looked up the beautiful striped eggplant to double-check on it too. (Hmm….see I’m already a bad food blogger because I forgot to take a picture of that eggplant before eating it!) I was also a little nervous about that okra. What can you do with okra besides fry it or cook gumbo?

What We Made

Broiled Eggplant Parmesan – Yum! A resounding success! I found a recipe on Epicurious for grilled eggplant parmesan and adapted it to the broiler. This plus a salad (with some of the cucumber in it) made a terrific meal.
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Sauteed Zucchini Omelet – Sauteed zucchini is a go-to recipe for me throughout the season. Grate up a zucchini, put it in a strainer in the sink, mix a little salt throughout, and let it sit for 15 minutes. Squish out (squash out? heh, heh…) as much water as you can and add it to a hot skillet with olive oil and garlic. Add whatever herbs you’d like. This makes a good side dish but I decided to use some of the leftovers in an omelet with a bit of cheese (okay, this bad food blogger will admit it was a slice of American cheese) and spaghetti sauce. Delicious!
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Pureed Acorn Squash – First, let me warn anyone who hasn’t ever dealt with an acorn squash that it is REALLY REALLY hard to cut an acorn squash! I seriously thought I might not be able to get it open! A bit of surveying friends revealed one who has her husband use a machete on her acorn squash (!), another who drops (throws?) hers on the floor to crack it, and a more sensible (less adventurous) one who microwaves hers for 10 minutes to soften it first. After removing the seeds and stringy bits, I oiled the cut sides and roasted cut sides down until soft, about an hour. Once it cooled, I pureed the flesh in the food processor with a little butter and froze it in portions that will be perfect for soup later. (Note I was so traumatized by the cutting of the bugger that I forgot to take a photo of the beast before roasting it!)

Cucumber Salad – These were some BIG cucumbers that came in the first batch of produce. I’m the only one in the house who likes cucumbers (well, I guess I’ve never tried feeding any to the fish). So I needed a recipe that I could take and share with my fellow volunteers at the local xeriscape demonstration garden. I found this one at Epicurious, and it received rave reviews – www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Cucumber-Salad-350881. Note…absolutely no photos of this one! I think I thought I had enough cucumbers that I would make it again, but I did not.

Leftovers – You’ll notice I didn’t manage to use up all the produce we got during the first week. None of it went to waste though. Tune in to my posts for the second and third weeks to learn what happened to all that mystery leftover produce (I know you’re especially curious about that okra…it’s not gonna be a pretty story!).