Zoe said she would go with me to the CSA even though she’s “so tired.” She perked up when she saw the apricots. They were on sale, separate from our weekly pick up. I told her she could pick out a pound and left her to gather up our vegetables. This is our last CSA for the season. I’m sad. I like the challenge of figuring out what to cook with wheat berries, turnips, kale and rapini. In the middle of January, there’s nothing as sunny as a bag full of strange vegetables from the valley. I have a lot of thoughts about Phoenix, but my thinking about the vegetables is, if you’re going to water something, it may as well be food. And here, up at the very tip of Arizona where extreme weather means very difficult vegetable growing, I was grateful for the CSA.
As Zoe piled apricots into the Ziploc bag of pretzels she had just finished. I put the heavy potatoes, grapefruit and the green and yellow squashes on the bottom of the nylon bag I sometimes remember to bring and reuse at the CSA. It’s a stellar day when I remember those bags for the grocery store. On top of the squash, I put the sweet onions, and then had to arrange the tomatoes, peaches and arugula so none of that would get smashed. The eggs I bought were extra. I asked Zoe if we should get some sprouts. She said, sure. She liked sprouts. There really wasn’t a vegetable she didn’t like. I actually think it was she who first ate raw turnips and inspired me to taste them. She was excited about the peaches and the squash but was still piling in the apricots.
“I think that’s all that will fit in that tiny bag.”“But I like them so much.” How can you argue with an apricot lover?
There is a summer CSA. Should we sign up or avail ourselves of the Farmer's Market? Am I still supporting my agricultural community by buying what I want at the market or is it better just let the CSA challenge my culinary skills. I do like a challenge.
So what should I make for dinner? The best thing about the CSA is that it upends your expectations. You go with what you’ve got. I was going to make the oven-fried chicken again. Maybe I’ll also oven-fry some of the zucchini. Or maybe I’ll plate the chicken on top of the arugula. Corn always goes with chicken but so do potatoes. Maybe we’d count the corn as a vegetable instead of a starch. I’ll take the zucchini to Tucson, where we're going soon, and saute it with butter and some other surprise there. I can’t wait to find what they grow on the netherside of Phoenix.