I feel extremely blessed to live so close to such an incredible farmers market, which meets every Saturday in the parking lot of a shopping mall. Oh Austin, how I adore thee! Since its grand opening, the market continues to grow with arguably the friendliest, most dedicated and passionate vendors in the state. However, I must say that I miss those days when I didn’t have to feel so rushed to make it out there. With its ever increasing popularity, we aim to be there right when it opens. I don’t do well in crowds, and things turn ugly very.very quickly. Kona, on the other hand, loves and soaks up all the attention he gets.
One of our go-to stands is Johnson’s Backyard Garden. What I’ve come to realize over time is that while I have the best intentions of trying different fruits and vegetables each week, my bag always ends up being filled with the usual culprits: kale, spinach, beets, carrots, and zucchini.
Since I’ve lost all confidence in myself to venture away from my norm, I signed up for JBG’s CSA (community supported agriculture) box, in which an assortment of items are pre-selected and ready for pick-up at the designated time and location. Luckily, one of the spots is “our” Saturday farmers market. You have the option of swapping out pieces you don’t want, but I’m going to challenge myself to keep everything. My hope is that I will expand my repertoire and gain an appreciation for a wide variety of nature’s gifts.
These were the beauties in my box two weeks ago.
Ok, let’s be real. I did feel quite ridiculous laying everything out intentionally as soon as I got home to snap this overhead photo, but boy does this picture make me excited! It doesn’t get any fresher or more nutritious than this! The Hungryman, on the other hand, was somewhere between overwhelmed and horrified.
So here’s what I did with some of the vegetables. I didn’t take pictures of everything, but this is to give you a glimpse into my weekly meals.
Kale: I simply sautéed it with some olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper. I didn’t want to add too many flavorings as I was going to be adding it to various salads throughout the week. For instance, I had it with some smoked sausage and made a salad bowl with barley and rotisserie chicken (with red wine vinaigrette).
Spinach: I made Korean spinach soybean paste (doenjang) soup. A bunch really cooks down to nothing! A scoop of brown rice and a side of kimchi and I was ready to eat, although my mom would’ve given me grief for not having more side dishes (banchans).
Curly parsley: Now this one was new to me. I normally purchase the flat-leaf kind so I wasn’t sure if I could use it in the same way. Although flat-leaf parsley has a more pronounced flavor, I didn’t think simply using the bouquet of bright green herb I had in my hand as decoration, as some suggest, would do it justice. Therefore, I decided to make one of my favorite side dishes – tabbouleh. There’s an unexpected ingredient in my version, for which you’ll have to come back to find out ;).
Carrots and Beets: These were simply tossed with some olive oil, salt and pepper and then roasted in the oven. They were enjoyed as a side dish for various meals, including the one pictured above – roasted salmon with beet greens (never discard) and lettuce.
Bok Choy: I made this bok choy stir-fry, except I added chicken rather than pork. It was also enjoyed with a side of kimchi. Simple yet satisfying.
Celeriac Greens: Ok. This one was a head scratcher from the moment I saw it in the box. I was so tempted to swap it out. I’ve had the root before but never the greens. I had to turn to Twitter for some much needed advice, and Michelle from Daily Waffle suggested I use it in stir-fry or for a vegetable stock. I added it (a little goes a long way!) to the bok choy stir-fry mentioned above, but I had so much left over. I do an excellent job of not wasting produce (I shamelessly toot my own horn here, but bear with me as this is one area that I take extreme pride in). But this time, I failed miserably as I watched it wither away without any hope of revival. Perhaps I should’ve frozen it, but I wasn’t sure if it would keep well. In any case, I can now say that I’ve tried it, so I shall consider this a small victory.
Now that you’ve heard my insight, here’s what the Hungryman has to say about this week’s meals. First, I would like to publicly apologize to him for not sharing any of the carrots or beets. I admit my selfishness. In any case, take it away, sir!
I really must applaud my wife’s efforts at changing my food preferences. Although I can’t say she’s had any major victories, I know she tries so hard for a happier, healthier me. And for that I’m grateful. Moving onto the CSA b0x… Truth be told, I was really hoping to chomp into some of those carrots (especially after I saw MJ roast them), but I won’t beat a dead horse. Apology accepted :). I think I’ve said this before, but the Hungryman doesn’t do kale. It’s just too bitter and possesses too much body. Just the sight of the dense green leaves scares me. On the other hand, I was actually excited to see the bok choy in our box of veggies and was even more thrilled when I saw it in the stir-fry. MJ does a lightened-up version of your typical stir-fry that I find especially satisfying. I had no idea that she had incorporated the celeriac greens to the dish. Well played, my bride…well played. The Korean spinach soybean paste soup is always comforting with its pungent aroma, but the winning recipe for the week, in my book, would have to be the tabbouleh. I couldn’t help but want more and more of the fresh tastiness in the dish. Unfortunately, that’s all I’m allowed to divulge at this time. Have we piqued your curiosity yet?