In Season

CSA Chronicles: Week 12

(By Dominic Bracco Ii -- The Washington Post)
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By Stephanie Witt Sedgwick
Wednesday, October 1, 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, with an accompanying recipe for Chicken, Chard and Red Pepper Stir-Fry. Her column appears today here.

Fall greens have begun to appear amid the summer produce in my CSA share. While I await the root vegetables I've been promised, I can have fun with baby bok choy and Swiss chard. It's a treat to get fresh, just-harvested bunches.

This week, my family and I are leaving town just two days after I pick up my share. We're rushing around trying to get ready, so a vegetable suited for quick cooking is exactly what I need. It's a bonus to find ones in my share that I really enjoy.

I'm sending much of the rest of my bag to other homes because we'll be away. The tomatoes and basil are off to a friend who thinks one can never have enough tomatoes. She's also grabbing the eggplants. The raspberries are going across the street to a berry lover.

The onions and peppers will keep, as will the CSA-produced salsa mix. (Last month I made a mess of it, adding so much vinegar that I ended up with gazpacho-flavored salsa. I really want to try again.)

Although I can't wait to get at that bok choy, I'm always looking for something new to do with chard. I've braised and souped it in the past. Looking at the chard and bok choy together made me think about their similarities, so I decided to try the chard in a stir-fry with sweet red peppers, garlic chives and an onion. I added chicken and just enough soy sauce and sesame oil to season the dish without overwhelming it. It took the chard a little while to cook until it was tender, but all in all, the effort was a success. And it was nice to expand vegetable possibilities.

In my fourth month of being a CSA member, I might be getting the hang of the lifestyle at last.

In the bag this week: 5 baby bok choy, 1 bunch of Swiss chard, 5 tomatoes, 2 small eggplants, 7 onions, 2 green bell peppers, 2 red bell peppers, 1 package of salsa mix, 1 bunch of basil, 1 bunch of garlic chives and 1/2 pint of raspberries.

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