In Season

CSA Chronicles: Week 9

(By Stephanie Witt Sedgwick For The Washington Post)
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 10, 2008; Page F02

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, using ingredients from her CSA bag, and watch for her column, which appears on the first Wednesday of every month in Food.

It's official: I've had my fill of tomatoes. Not only was my share full of them this week, but I had ordered extra so I could try my hand at canning.

When I came home with a bursting bag and a large cardboard boxful as well, my husband just shook his head and left the kitchen. I hadn't really understood the quantity of tomatoes I was getting. Although I'm experienced at making and canning jam, this was another task altogether. I had pint jars and a large pot for processing, but I was going to need quart jars and bigger equipment, or I would be canning for days.

I was headed to the hardware store, making a first stop at a neighbor's house to share our raspberries, when fate lent a helping hand. My neighbor said she was an old pro at canning and offered the use of the canner and stash of quart jars in her basement. I spent the rest of the afternoon blanching and peeling tomatoes, cooking them in boiling water and then filling and processing the jars (called hot-packing). And I still had some tomatoes left.

I'm not exactly certain what I'll do with five quarts of canned tomatoes, but they're packed away in my pantry. I'm sure I'll be happy to have them come winter.

We had corn for dinner that night, but the next day I made a quick pasta dish by dicing and roasting the remaining tomatoes along with bell peppers and onions, then mixing them with ziti. Roasting the vegetables intensified their flavors, yet the whole dish took less than an hour to prepare, providing more immediate gratification than my efforts on the previous afternoon.

In the bag this week: 3 ears of corn, 1 head of lettuce, 6 onions, 1 pound of string beans, 1 sweet red bell pepper, 1 green bell pepper, 12 tomatoes, 1 head of garlic, 1 bunch of parsley, 2 pints of raspberries and 1 watermelon.

-- Stephanie Witt Sedgwick

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