Here is part two of our adventures in test driving a CSA (Javernick Farms of Canon City, Colorado). For background info on how we came to have this opportunity, feel free to read Part 1.

Week 2 (produce picked up on Sep 14)

You may or may not remember that Sep 14 was our BIG RAIN day here in Colorado Springs. We got 3″ at our house, but the airport got 4.5″! Record setting stuff!

What We Got

But, I valiantly made my way through the flooded streets to the pickup location and took home the following: about two dozen roma tomatoes, 2 red onions, 1 delicata squash, 1 butternut squash, 2 bell peppers (two green and one purple), 1 serrano pepper, 3 beets, another cucumber, and a yellow summer squash. (From the previous pickup, I still had turnips, potatoes, a delicata squash, a serrano pepper, and the okra.)

What We Made

Gumbo – Ah, yes the okra. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was a little nervous about it (I kept reading about how disgustingly slimy it can be after cooking). But after staring at it in the crisper for a week, I decided to be bold and jump right in to that quintessential okra dish – gumbo. I found a recipe in Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” app (I love love love this app – bought it even though I had the print book already). As a bonus, I could use some of the roma tomatoes and I decided I would chop up a few of the bell peppers too.

After a bit of prep work, I was ready to get going with the roux (ooh-la-la!). Once it was a lovely golden brown, I tossed in the sliced okra to cook for a bit. (Now, I was quite surprised at how tough it was to slice that okra, but what did I know? I could not imagine these hard little slices ever getting slimy!) Then everything else went in and cooked for a good 30-to-40 minutes. Wow…the kitchen smelled terrific! I had gotten some rice going before starting the prep work, and it was ready and waiting when the gumbo was done.

We ladled up big bowls of it and dove in. First spoonful – wow, yum! I am such a good cook! Second spoonful – uh, just what is this hard, almost, well, splintery stuff? Oh..maybe just a fluke. Third spoonful – yuck! Spitting it out, we traced the source of unpleasantness….yes, the okra. It was TOUGH and, well, as I said before, splintery. I don’t think I’ve ever used “splintery” to describe anything I’ve ever cooked before. (My husband said that “slimy” would have been an improvement.) So we carefully pulled out all the okra we could find (darn my decision to throw that chopped green pepper in there too – it made finding the okra that much harder!). So, not a big success story. Too bad, the rest of the gumbo was quite good. From post-dinner research I’ve learned that the okra was probably too large and over-ripe.
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Salsa – A much happier story! The rest of the romas, the serrano peppers from last week, and some of the onion made their way into the salsa. I love super fresh homemade salsa. I added some of my homegrown garlic. I did have to dash to the store for some cilantro, as my cilantro plants had gone to seed weeks and weeks ago. This smelled terrific and tasted just as good.
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Sauteed Turnips in Mustard Sauce – This was another Mark Bittman recipe. I had never cooked turnips before, so I was surprised to learn I needed to peel them and even more surprised to discover they smelled like radishes! Basically, you cube the peeled turnips, stir fry them until they are softened, and add the mustard sauce ingredients. The result made a nice side dish.
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Roasted Beets – I must admit I felt a bit more “grown up” cooking beets – a vegetable I’ve sort of avoided since childhood. I put them in foil and tossed them into the oven for about 40 minutes. As with the turnips, I was surprised to discover beets need to be peeled, but this time you peel them AFTER cooking them. This was rather fun and turned my fingers a fun shade of purple. I sliced up the roasted beets, salted and peppered them, and served them as a side dish. No rave reviews, but they did all get eaten!
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Roasted Butternut Squash – I roasted this along with the beets since I was already heating up the oven on a warm day. The butternut squash was MUCH easier to peel than the acorn squash I’d worked with in week one. I scooped out the softened roasted flesh and mashed it with a spoon before putting it into the freezer to save for soup.
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So that’s the Week Two story. We did pretty well using up the produce, only the summer squash, potatoes, a cucumber, and the delicata squash remained. Just one more week to go….

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