In Season

The CSA Chronicles: Week 7

This week's CSA haul.
This week's CSA haul. (Stephanie Witt Sedgwick - For The Washington Post)
By Stephanie Witt Sedgwick
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This summer and fall, In Season columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick is sharing her experiences as a member of a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. CSA members pay in advance for a weekly delivery or pickup of produce and other fresh items from a local farm.

Here is her quick take for the week. Check out her accompanying recipe for Feta-Crusted Baked Tomatoes, which uses ingredients from her CSA bag, and watch for her column, which appears on the first Wednesday of every month in Food.

I almost forgot to pick up the bag this week. As the sun was slowly lowering in the sky and I was somewhere between football practice and home, I suddenly remembered it was Tuesday. With the kids still on summer vacation and my husband away, I had lost track of the day. There was just enough time for me to pick up my share before dark. CSA life requires promptness, and my farmers have been clear: Empty your box before we begin to pack up the next day's shares early in the morning, or you'll lose your take for the week.

It would have been a bad week to miss. When I got there, I found exactly what I had expected: a mother lode of tomatoes. Not only did my share contain 15 of the ripest and best-looking tomatoes of the season (about four pounds' worth), there were also a couple of crates with a sign above them that read, "Take what you want." Fifteen is enough for me, so I emptied the box and was on my way.

The evenings are finally cooling down, so I decided to turn on the oven. I split a few tomatoes in half, sprinkled them with minced garlic, olive oil, salt and a generous amount of pepper and baked them for about 25 minutes. I added a feta topping and slid the halves under the broiler to brown. All I can say: delicious. The tomatoes were as good as promised. The baking had intensified the tomato flavor, and the feta complemented it.

Still, with so many tomatoes left, I had to act quickly. Perfectly ripe tomatoes don't take to being left out on the counter for more than a day or two before they start to spoil. The next morning, I made a tomato, mozzarella and pasta salad and shared it with a neighbor just home from knee surgery and her family. They seemed pleased, and I was relieved to have found happy homes for all my fruit. I'm already planning for next week, when I think it might be time to pull out the canning jars.

In the bag this week: 1 melon, 1 pint blackberries, 1 1/2 pounds small yellow potatoes, 1 pound carrots, 1 green bell pepper, 1 long green pepper, 2 garlic bulbs, 1 head lettuce, 4 ears corn, 1 bunch Swiss chard, 15 3- to 4-ounce tomatoes.

-- Stephanie Witt Sedgwick

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