6 Ideas for Picking a Great CSA

by Anne Maxfield on May 6, 2013

Accidental Locavore Spring VeggiesWhile you may not realize it, the Accidental Locavore has never formally been a part of a CSA (a CSA, if you’re not familiar with it, stands for community sponsored agriculture and is essentially a pre-paid pot-luck share of the farm’s bounty). Mostly I was spoiled in the beginning by having my own personal farmer/shopper/CSA with my farmer down the road. What he didn’t have (which was very little) I could always supplement with an occasional trip to the Greenmarkets in the city. And last year, when he gave up farming, I transferred my loyalties to Ron at Stokes Farm who would put bags together for me at the market (and has now turned into his Thyme Saver Box). As good as that was, one of the things that was missing, was the pure surprise of just being handed a box (or bag) of veggie goodies. In other words, I had a little too much say in what went into the bags, so there were never really any big food challenges.

This year, we’re up at our Hudson Valley house full time and while I could try to expand my herb garden, my history with growing edible food is not confidence building. In other words, if we were alone in the world, you would not want to be handing me the bag of seeds and a shovel. Better left to the professionals! But which professionals? We’re fortunate to have a lot of really wonderful farms near us and most of them offer CSA’s  These were my criteria for picking one and while yours will probably be different, these can be some guidelines:Accidental Locavore Strawberries

  1. A convenient pick-up place, day and time. You need to think about where and when you want to have an abundance of produce. Do you cook and entertain during the weekends? Or will you use it mostly during the week? When will you have time to wash/prep stuff? Do you have fridge space?
  2. A reasonable share for two people. I hate wasting food and sometimes feel like the kitchen version of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice-cooking as fast as I can, only to have a whole new box show up.
  3. For some, organic is important; I’m more into sustainable practices (you never know what the guy next door is flooding the water table with…), but if organic matters, only look for those farmers.
  4. A farmer/farm referral. Like most business relationships, it’s all about doing business with people you know and like. The CSA that I went with is being run by a woman I know (extra points for being a female farmer) and like, both personally and her agricultural point of view.Accidental Locavore Summer Greens
  5. Giving back to the community. This is more of an extra credit thing, but this farm/CSA is in the middle of an urban area and gives back through education and by providing produce to local families.
  6. What foodstuffs you’re looking for. Since we’ve got a freezer full of beef (from our share from Brykill Farm), we were looking mostly for produce. However there are many that offer meat, poultry and other foods in combination. A few minutes on the Internet should find you just what you need.

Whatever you decide, a CSA is a great way of exploring new foods, while supporting farmers-a perfect combination. But act soon, many of the most popular may be sold out for the season!



Ideas for Dry Chimichurri Rub

by Anne Maxfield on December 13, 2012

Accidental Locavore Lamb With RubIf you’re wondering what to do with the dry chimichurri rub, here are a few ideas:

  •       Rub all over tri-tip before roasting
  •       Sprinkle over halibut fillets before pan-searing
  •       Make a marinade for roast chicken by whisking 1/4 cup rub with 1/2 cup olive oil and 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar.
  •       Toss chunks of potatoes in olive oil, sprinkle with the rub and roast at 450°
  •       Add to your favorite vinaigrette and give your salad a kick!
  •       Toss with vegetables before steaming or roasting
  •       Sprinkle a teaspoon in rice when cooking it.
  •       Go classic, and rub into a steak before grilling

The Accidental Locavore used it on a rack of lamb. I let it marinate for a couple of hours, seared it off in my cast iron skillet and finished it in a 375° oven until it was medium-rare (about 15 minutes). I sprinkled the finished rack with lemon and some Maldon salt-it was delicious!

We’d love to hear what you did with it. Let us know in the comments below. Happy Holidays to All!




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Accidental Locavore Pimentos and Broccoli

Finally back on track with the farmbasket, but only for a week. If you’re like the Accidental Locavore you’re in huge denial that August (and the summer) is almost over. One of the big signs is that the Dutchess County Fair starts Tuesday. Paul Wigsten, my farmer and his son Will always have lots of their vegetables and a cow or two entered in the show. My neighbor Arthur is in charge of the horticulture area, and enters his gladiolas and other flowers. They usually score best in show ribbons in a lot of categories.
The downside? No basket next week, the lawn doesn’t get mowed for a week, and it’s the last weekend in August.
The upside? A trip to a real county fair, complete with exotic chickens, prize worthy vegetables, and more (junk) food than you can possibly imagine.
In this week’s basket, a big purple cabbage, lovely cantaloupe, bag of mesclun, red, orange and yellow peppers, along with pimentos, zucchini and squash, corn, tomatoes (one of my favorite heirloom varieties, German stripe), and cranberry beans (dried this time).
So what have I been doing with the veggies? True confession; the corn I’ve just been tossing on the grill, and the tomatoes have been mixed with basil and mozzarella. It’s my favorite thing to do with both of them and until we’re really into (gasp) September, I can’t get enough of them.
Tonight I’m grilling baby loin lamb chops that I’ve marinated in some (homemade) yogurt with cumin and other warm spices and roasting the broccoli, then tossing it in a little butter and some of the pureed garlic confit I made a few weeks ago. Sounds good right? Later in the week, I’m revisiting a great recipe from the NY Times last year, for a ratatouille pot pie, with Italian sausage, ratatouille, and a cornmeal topping. It’s more of a cobbler than a pie, and really delicious. Maybe I’ll see what happens if I toss a couple of the pimentos in…
I’m also going to try the cranberry beans in a gratin that I found online. I’m a sucker for the word gratin, aren’t you?