Member Diary: Darling House Reflects on the CSA Season

In honor of this year’s final Southside distribution, the Darling House share would like to reflect on a few of the ways this food has integrated into our lives. Some background and habits: we are a household of 4 to 5 room mates that buys most of our groceries communally. There is a whiteboard in the kitchen that we use to track our purchases, as well as the week’s haul from the CSA. We cook a large dinner together 1 to 2 times a week, and about half the share goes into communal meals. Potatoes, onions, apples, died corn and squash go into hanging baskets in our kitchen, and the rest is stored in our fridge, which is always being cleaned out and re-arranged. Those more inclined to biking usually pick up the share in a backpack on their way home from work, and then they’re able to opt out of the volunteer shifts if they want.
Darling house laying out the share

Things we’ve leaned:

Eat things as soon as you can
 (exception: beets, onions, and potatoes in the fridge, and squash/pumpkin). Organic vegetables and fruits ripen quicker than their grocery store counterparts, and if you wait more than a week to eat them they will probably go to goo or wilt. You can make dishes in larger portions and share them rather than saving the raw materials for others to use.
darling house breakfast with orchard share
You can eat too many blueberries. And you will pay for it tomorrow.  For berry share people who don’t know what to do with all the abundance, pies and jams are two good ways to go. If you’re like me and too lazy to can your creation properly, just make the jam and try to eat it within a week. It’s great on top of yogurt, ice cream and breakfast in general.
darling house cooking
Try new recipes and then develop them over time. Ingredients come in waves (just when you thought there couldn’t be any more pumpkins, there were more pumpkins), so you might as well make three versions of a recipe if you’re going to make one. Slowly, the pumpkin pile in your kitchen will disappear. I usually start from something simple and make it a little more complex each iteration. We’ll include a couple of the recipes that we’ve come up with at the end of this post.
darling house csa breakfast
Coconut oil is the best for popping corn. It is delicious.
darling house raw beet avocado kale and sesame seed salad
Specialize. Identify the person who is the most skilled at baking in your household and then pressure him or her to do it until they give in.
Have a roasting party. Why sit around the table when you can gather round the oven, eating batch after batch of roasted greens and roots? Get that kale/cabbage/brussel-sprout-top chip timing and seasoning just right. Make some rice on the side so that you don’t get a stomach ache.
darling house mirry cooking
Put a couch in your kitchen. Because that’s where you probably spend the most time anyway, and it’s the easiest way to con someone into keeping you company while you cook.
Open face sandwiches rule. Anything goes on there.
darling house open face snadwich sandra___________________
Summer
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Cucumber Quick Pickle Asian Salad
For that time when you have so many cucumbers, week after week, innovation becomes a necessity. Luckily, this is also the part of the summer when I start craving a spicy cucumber salad. Here is my interpretation of the classic, modified to include other CSA vegetables that we get in abundance around this time.
darling house cucmber raw beet and sesame salad
Ingredients (makes a salad to serve about 5 hungry people)
2 large cucumbers
1 medium white onion
2 small bell peppers
Chinese rice vinegar
white sugar
salt
Chinese chili sauce (rooster sauce, with the seeds in)
(optional: for extra spiciness mince up a small serrano pepper, for extra herbiness, add a half cup of chopped cilantro, basil, or parsley)-Cut the cucumbers into bite sized cubes, leaving the skin on. Chop the onion and bell peppers into fingernail sized pieces. Mix together in a large bowl.
-Sprinkle on about a 1/2 tablespoon of salt, to taste, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon chili sauce (vary to your tolerance), 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, and mix until the veggies are coated. These measurements are approximations, so be sure to taste and adjust as you go. If you’d like, you can also add a little olive oil.
-Serve immediately, or refrigerate and serve for some quick pickle action.

darling house cuc saladA popular variation of this in my household was to sub out the sugar and chili sauce for some radish-top pesto and tomatoes. “Wierdly good” was my finest review. To make radish pesto, follow any basic pesto recipe online using your radish tops and at least one radish (for flavor) instead of herbs. In my experience, kale and basil/parsley are all acceptable add-ins. Don’t feel bad if you don’t want to spend money on pine nuts – make your heathen-style pesto with whatever is in your fridge and pantry.

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Fall
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Pumpkin Soup with Mushroom

This year we got the usual tasty butternut and acorn squashes from our share, as well as plentiful berry share pumpkins (Pumpkins are a berryLook it up!). Last fall I spent most of my time cumbersomely braising squashes in the oven to hit and miss results, but thanks to a Korean friend I have learned a much easier way of preparing them: steaming. I then developed this hearty vegetarian pumpkin and mushroom soup recipe, often cooking to sound of the presidential debates.
One pumpkin or squash should be enough for two people, but the proportions for this recipe are for two small (baby head sized) pumpkins or squashes, feeds about 5 hungry people. It’s pretty good leftover too.-Cut small pumpkin (or butternut squash or acorn squash) in half and remove seeds. Scrape inside. Set aside seeds for roasting.

-Cut the pumpkins into medium sized sections, about the size of the palm of your hand.
-Place in large pot with a steamer basket, add about two inches of water on the bottom, and cover (make sure to check the water level occasionally as you are steaming the pumpkin – I had some burned pot bottom mishaps).
– Steam on high heat for about 30 minutes, until you can easily stick a fork all the way through the pumpkin flesh. It should be nice and soft.
-As the pumpkin is steaming, cut up one medium size white onion and the mushrooms of your choice into fingernail sized pieces. (Enoki, which you leave like a noodle, and portobello were both delicious when I used them). Do not skip the mushrooms! You need them to give the soup a meatier, more complex and satisfying flavor. Saute on low heat in butter for a long time until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are completely tender. As you go, season however you like, and add in more bits of anything you fancy. I think each time I’ve used some combination of bell peppers, radishes, and leeks from the share, plus store bought garlic.
-When the pumpkin is soft, take it out of the pot and let cool, then scoop out of the skin into a bowl. Mash/whip with a fork. When all ingredients are ready, add the pumpkin mush into a large non-stick pot, medium heat. Add at least 1 cup of chicken broth, 1 cup of milk and a couple tablespoons of butter. At this point you should add liquids until you get the consistency you want. I like it fairly thick, but not mashed potato thick. Add in the mushrooms, onion, and other veggies. SECRET WEAPON – two packets of the orange Goya Sazon. This contains MSG, which makes food tasty meaty, and contrary to popular belief does not actually give people headaches.
-Finally, some chopped parsley is nice. Salt to taste.
-Optional: As everything else is cooking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees, wash the seeds from the pumpkins, and put them in a foil-lined baking dish. Massage in a couple tablespoons of olive oil, a big old helping of siracha sauce, and a couple tablespoons of soy sauce. Spread out on baking pan and roast the seeds for about ten minutes, stirring them occasionally, until they are crisp. When the soup is ready, serve it with a small handful of seeds on top. Nice with a kale salad and rice on the side.

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