Next week I will pick up the first baskets from my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), and I can hardly contain my excitement!
I'm also a little nervous about the effect it will have on my menu planning each week, since I won't know what to expect in the basket, but that's a challenge I'm very much looking forward to conquering.
At least part of that challenge will also be preparation of produce I usually don't make use of. There will probably be a good many things that I haven't ever used before, that I don't particularly like, or that I am entirely unfamiliar with! Along the way, I plan to make use of Chez Panisse Fruit, and Chez Panisse Vegetables, two wonderful books by Alice Waters.
Chez Panisse is a restaurant based in Berkeley, CA. Alice Waters is the executive chef and owner of the restaurant, and she has made it wildly famous through her use of locally- and sustainably-sourced ingredients, embracing the freshness of produce directly from the garden. She is also the founder of Slow Food International. I've never been to her restaurant, but I'll tell you something -- this lady knows produce.
If you flip through the pages of these books, you will find not only beautiful illustrations and delicious recipes, but also incredibly helpful tips for selecting and cooking fresh garden fruits and veggies. It's true inspiration for the bounty of summer.
Summer is such a wonderful time of year! A time to live in the moment. To feast. And to lay things by for the winter months. This summer, I hope to make good use of the abundance of produce coming my way, and try my hand at some canning.With help from Alice, I feel confident that nothing will go to waste, and that's a nice feeling.
If you want to get involved in a CSA near you, (or find out what that means, if you're unfamiliar) check out Local Harvest.