The growing season is finally here — a time of rebirth, renewal, and farm share season. Along with the weekly community-supported agriculture bounty and its accompanying newsletter, filled with helpful recipes and notes about the progress of crops, comes a cornucopia of emotions that may manifest themselves in a variety of cooking styles and techniques.
This guide can be used as a path through those feelings. Please remember that these stages are only a framework. Different vegetables may act as triggers for different people. Allow yourself to fully experience each stage, before moving on to the next.
Stage 1: Euphoria/Puree
The mania you experience during the first week of your farm share may make it difficult to keep from ripping the waxy flaps off the CSA box. To celebrate your first week you may decide to prep and serve every single vegetable from the box that night. Elaborately. You will steam, chop, puree, emulsify. Your children and husband may collapse on the couch from hunger and exhaustion. Rouse them between 9 and 10 p.m. for a dinner made entirely of ramps. You may feel guilty. Don’t. Tell yourself that eating late is very European.
Stage 2: Jubilation/Salad
These are, quite literally, salad days: frisee, bok choy, braising mix, mustard greens, pea shoots, Swiss chard. Most look beautiful. Some look like weeds. No matter — just toss all the greens together. Salad is this season’s casserole. Kale chips may be all the rage, but salad never goes out of fashion. Wash and dry each leaf with care, by hand; the salad spinner can injure young shoots. The prep time may be brutal, making it impossible to serve your family anything but salad. However you will likely find several worms and bugs clinging to the undersides of leaves. Save them and show them to your children; it may be the only protein they see all night.
Stage 3: Deception/Heavily Spiced, Fried, or Pickled
The tyranny of kohlrabi causes people to do terrible things to their families. Including lie. After you have peeled and cut the root-like vegetable into matchsticks, stir-fried it, roasted it into “chips,” dipped it raw in hummus, pickled it along with cauliflower and carrots, your family will inevitably turn on you. That will be your chance to come clean: the “chicken” cutlet they loved last night? It was really a member of the cabbage family.
Stage 4: Shock, Disbelief/Grating and Shredding
When you can no longer fit the milk in the refrigerator and carrots appear to be sprouting from your butter bin simply grate and shred them all. Then dump the mounds of orange directly into muffin batter. Your children may complain about the ubiquity of carrots. Ignore them. The muffins are (sort of) healthy. Ignoring has its benefits, too.
Stage 5: Resignation/Soup
Maybe it will be the rutabaga as big as your baby’s head or the 3-pound cabbage that tumbles out of the fridge and onto your toe that finally causes you to break down, overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness. Week after week you feel pelted by fresh vegetables as the farm share boxes pile up. You struggle to cook most of it, but members of the turnip and cabbage family linger.
Just remember: There is nothing wrong with farm share soup. Cope by taking all your remaining vegetables, chopping them all into pieces roughly the same size, throwing them into a pot, and adding some salt and water. You will have enough for dozens of servings; freeze it for the winter. Be prepared, though. Upon defrosting all emotions may resurface.