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In Season

The CSA Chronicles: Week 7

This week's CSA haul.
This week's CSA haul. (Stephanie Witt Sedgwick - For The Washington Post)

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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.

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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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