Discover more from Home Food
Everything we ate, made, and preserved from our CSA and garden in one week
From June through mid-November we get vegetables, eggs, and chicken thighs from 607 CSA, a multi-farm community-supported agriculture group in the Catskill mountains of New York. Every other week we also get a box of fruit and a cheese.
Before the CSA we would make a meal plan and grocery shop online. We would choose recipes from bookmarks based on whims, and were therefore often cooking out-of-season meals. Much of New York’s grocery store produce is imported, or from California, and the taste, if you’ve had the misfortune of shopping at a standard grocery store here, is reflected in this fact. Something awful happens to tomatoes and blueberries on a truck to the East Coast.
Of course we still buy produce from the grocery store—you can’t buy a local avocado or a Pennsylvania lime. I keep the pantry well-stocked with staples—proteins, legumes, grains, and seasonings. But now we cook mostly without a plan, in response to the box. It’s made me more creative. How will I use these plums? What the hell is a ground cherry? How can I adapt this recipe to use what it is that I have on hand? We are, as someone on TikTok would say, an ingredient house.
Combined with my vendetta against single-use plastic (and therefore most processed foods), the CSA means we are eating more healthfully than ever. While Skylar and I have both gotten into a pretty good rhythm with the box, one of my goals this year was to preserve at least one thing each week. Whether it’s lacto-fermenting carrots, freezing fruit, or drying herbs, I wanted to preserve at least one thing—not only to reduce waste but to extend the taste of summer and practice my skills. I don’t have the garden or the storage space right now to can, freeze, or otherwise preserve a whole winter’s worth of local food, but I am trying to use this time to learn those skills on a smaller level. Jess from Roots and Refuge farm calls this “turning your waiting room into a classroom.”
In the interest of sharing those skills and techniques, I decided to compile a week’s worth of CSA dining into this Grub Street Diet-style diary. It was lovely (and surprising) to read back on this CSA diary and see how many items we were using from the freezer and how little of the produce went to waste. Let me know if you’d like to read more of these.
*Bolded items are from the CSA or the garden.
We decided to grill. I followed Alison Roman’s grilled zucchini recipe mostly as written, scoring the flesh of the squash (needed IMO) and replacing the garlic in the dill scallion dressing with a minced garlic scape. It was simple and delicious.
We had a salad greens mix from the prior week’s CSA that was miraculously still good, so I dressed the lettuce in a red wine vinegar and olive oil. A few days prior I’d made “ricotta” with whole milk leftover from a Breakfast Party recipe. (Traditional ricotta is made not from whole milk but rather from cheesemaking whey, so what I made is more accurately farmer’s cheese. I’ve made farmer’s cheese using both white vinegar and lemon juice but find that lemon juice tastes better.) We cut a peach in half, grilled the pieces, and nestled the halves on top. The rest of the peaches were ripe and softening so I cut up and froze them, likely for a future crisp or crumble.
Skylar grilled marinated chicken, but for my protein I reheated Puglia lentils I had made a few days before and spooned some of the zucchini dill dressing on top. I also threw a piece of sourdough bread on the grill to toast.
I toasted another piece of sourdough and fried an egg that I sprinkled with some chives from the garden and Dimes hot sauce.
Wednesday (and Thursday) lunch:
After Tuesday night’s dinner I somehow summoned the energy to cook not one but two lunches for the following days, which I was planning to spend at the office. I prefer to pack my lunch, a habit from back when I desperately needed to save money, but also because if I have to eat one more sad, $17 Sweetgreen salad I will quit my job.
I made “tofu rice bowl,” which is a meal I’ve been making once a week for probably eight years now. I’ll share the recipe in a future newsletter, but it’s somewhat similar to this Hetty McKinnon tofu recipe. I threw some rice in the rice cooker and portioned out two servings.
For Wednesday’s bowl I added the leftover zucchini dressing, sliced farmer’s market radishes I had in the fridge, and a small handful of ripe cherry tomatoes from the garden. I keep bottles of Kewpie mayonnaise and sriracha at the office to dress up this kind of thing, too.
It was Skylar’s night to cook and he made a pesto pasta with fava beans and garlic scapes, plus a tomato, mozzarella salad with basil from the garden.
I had made and frozen the pesto a few CSA boxes ago, and I threw in arugula, kale, garlic scapes, and various garden herbs. The quickly-Googled recipe I based mine off happened to be vegan and called for nutritional yeast, which made it freeze and reheat better than a typical pesto made with cheese.
I had a small bowl of blueberries and peanut butter toast. The bread was sourdough sandwich bread I had made and frozen a few weeks before.
Teddie is my favorite all-natural peanut butter. I’ve had a hard time finding an all-natural peanut butter similar to Adams, the brand of peanut butter I grew up eating, on the East Coast, but Teddie is by far the best. It also has the added bonus of not being owned by Smuckers.
For Thursday’s lunch I added the leftover zucchini to my tofu rice bowl. I don’t know if all the flavors really meshed, but tofu rice bowl is so satisfying and delicious to me after all these years later that I still enjoyed.
I had the foresight to thaw frozen cooked lima beans before leaving for work. When I got home, I sauteed them with olive oil, nutritional yeast, and red pepper flakes. They were delicious and tasted like home fries.
I also made a simple cucumber salad with kalamata olives, dressed with rice vinegar, olive brine, salt, pepper, dill, and oregano from the garden.
Skylar had made a dill potato salad earlier in the day with a few old potatoes from the farmer’s market, so we polished that off, too.
I made a smoothie with Maine Mango Mix that I bought from Farm to People. While I don’t like buying food packaged with single-use plastic, I also don’t have enough freezer space to store a year’s worth of in-season smoothie fruit, so I am content to compromise with local-ish frozen fruit.
My current smoothie recipe is water, the mango mix (which has blueberries, cherries, mango, and pineapple), hemp seeds, oat pulp, a little bit of honey or agave, a pinch of salt, and vanilla-flavored protein powder. If I have yogurt whey I’ll add that, too.
On my lunch break I boiled a half-dozen eggs for an egg salad. I would say that I base my egg salad on the Zabar's recipe, but I add so many things now that it’s no longer their recipe at all. I used Kewpie mayo, fresh dill, dijon mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, hot sauce, salt, and pepper and made a sandwich on the aforementioned sourdough bread.
I also started a fresh loaf of artisan sourdough. I’ve been practicing this recipe (halved) for a few months now.
We went out with some friends to Bonnie’s, a relatively new Cantonese-American restaurant in Williamsburg. It’s been on my list for a while now and I’d somehow snagged a four-top reservation a few weeks prior. It was all excellent, but my favorite dish was the chrysanthemum green salad.
We got home from dinner (and bowling) around 1:30am and I moved the fermenting sourdough to a banneton (essentially a proofing basket) in the fridge.
I made a fried egg and had a handful of blueberries. I had a pilates class booked for 11am so I also drank a glass of sugar-free electrolyte water.
After pilates I went to Saraghina Bakery to get a coffee (iced cortado with oat milk in a reusable cup) and by the time I got home I regretted not also picking up a piece of focaccia for lunch.
We were in the doldrums of the CSA box by then and out of the week’s leftovers. We had two bunches of salad turnips in the fridge that I had been putting off cooking, but I was hungry from the workout and decided it was time. I sauteed the turnips in olive oil with smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper. I was meh on them on their own, but they worked well in a rice bowl with raw cherry tomatoes, herbs, and Kewpie mayo.
While lunch was cooking I pre-heated the dutch oven, scored the proofed sourdough, and baked it.
I still felt hungry and in need of protein after lunch, so I made a smoothie with protein powder using the same recipe as Friday’s.
Skylar and I met some friends for a matinee of the new Mission Impossible movie, and I had chips and queso at the theater. Afterward we went to Grand Army for oysters, wine, and appetizers to share.
I made soft scrambled eggs and toasted a slice of Saturday’s sourdough.
Skylar made us a stir-fry with ramen noodles, garlic scapes, and bok choy. We buy these dried rice ramen noodles from Thrive Market (they are much cheaper from Thrive than elsewhere). Again, I don’t love the packaging, but we don’t have a convenient source for fresh or packaging-free ramen.
I decided to use the afternoon to get ahead on Monday night’s dinner. We had beets from a prior week’s CSA that needed to be put to use. I don’t really care for beets, but this Rick Martinez beet tostada recipe sways me. I roasted them and put them in the fridge.
Sunday is my night to cook, but we had made a reservation at Agi’s Counter (we don’t usually Go Out this much, but I have a lot of summer energy). We both loved the Caesar salad and the semolina dumplings.
After we got home I soaked a pound of pinto beans for Monday’s dinner. If you have difficulty digesting legumes, I can’t recommend enough soaking beans (or lentils) overnight in water with a little bit of vinegar or lemon juice (or leftover yogurt whey), which helps break down the naturally occuring phytic acid that can make beans tough to process. Soak for 12 to 24 hours, drain, then cook. Soaking also has the added bonus of shortening the cooking time.
I had a piece of the plum torte for breakfast.
I made a grilled cheese sandwich with rosemary cheese and honey from our first fruit box on the Saturday sourdough. It would have been perfect with thinly sliced pear or apple.
While I worked from the kitchen island in the afternoon, I started cooking the soaked pintos for refried beans. Homemade refried beans are worth the effort. When I started making them a few years ago I used a Rick Martinez recipe as reference, but have since invented my own method. I cook the beans with a whole head of garlic, onion, olive oil, salting as I go, then bloom cumin, paprika, and chili powder in a neutral oil for the frying step. I also use an immersion blender instead of mashing by hand. I usually cook the whole bag of beans and freeze half in their liquid. (I’ll share my techniques for cooking and freezing all kinds of beans in a future newsletter.)
We were out of my favorite, backordered flour tortillas (I usually buy about a dozen bags and freeze the backups), so I decided to use the occasion to make my own. I followed a recipe in Savory Baking, though this recipe is similar. They were entirely worth the effort.
We also needed to use up some wilting parsley and cilantro from the farmer’s market in the fridge, so I made a quick chimichurri to round out the tacos. This meal was my favorite of the week! Rich, flavorful, and filling.
While the tortilla dough was resting, I decided to make crispy tofu to pad the next day’s packed lunch—you guessed it, a tofu rice bowl. 🍚
Home Food is edited by Jillian Goodman.