Coming to the Table
The shared family meal may be more than just a means to an end. Eating dinner with your kids or parents or neighbors creates a unifying effect on the people sitting at the table. If you want to get to know someone, re-connect with someone or simply nurture the bond with someone, the opportunity arises every day at least twice a day. An article I read by The Atlantic suggests that the shared meal has a positive psychological effect on us-as well as a positive nutritional effect.
Meals made at home are almost always healthier than fast food meals or meals eaten outside the home. Meals served at restaurants have higher trans-fats, salts and sugars than meals prepared at home. The ingredients sourced at restaurants are usually the cheapest possible ingredients to keep the cost of the meal down. And even if you’re eating out at a restaurant that serves all local or organic ingredients, if you’re eating alone regularly, you may not feel as full emotionally or psychologically than if you shared a meal with a friend or loved one.
Chances are good that if you have signed up for a CSA share with our farm, you are preparing at least a healthy percentage of your meals at home. And if you’re not, potentially this newsletter or the article in the Atlantic could inspire you to want to do so. As over-achieving Americans with such busy and fast-paced lives, it is very easy to eat in our cars or at our computers or while checking our voicemails. We are at a very unfortunate time in history where distractions, obligations, responsibilities, phones, twitter feeds and even work commutes are gobbling up our time and the only thing that we can afford to give is the 45 minutes we may or may not have spent sitting at a table sharing a meal with people who mean the most to us.
Or can we afford it? I feel that we go into a form of an emotional debt when we sacrifice eating a meal around a table with the people who live in our home. Soccer, Yoga or going to the gym might be good for our health and family structure in one way, but I would argue that eating meals at home with your family has the potential to be better for your long-term health than any other activity you may allocate your time towards. The conversations that are had at a dinner table may be some of the most rich, revealing and connecting moments that we can create while serving the double function of filling our bellies and our hearts at the same time. You may tell someone about yourself or your day that you may have otherwise not shared. Likewise, you may learn something about someone in your home that was shared with you at the dinner table that they may not have been revealed in any other setting. The dinner table has the magical ability to create a relaxing, comforting and consoling effect on those sitting around it.
I remember the feeling of my mother cooking dinner in the kitchen as a child in such a fond way that it actually makes me feel warm in my chest just thinking about it. It’s like a ‘happy place’ for me. I remember the smells coming from the kitchen, the feeling of knowing that we were going to get fed soon, that mom was home and everything was all right now. That the day was nearly over and we were all together again at last. My mother happens to be an exceptionally good cook, and her cooking has gotten even better over the years. But what I think is even more important than that she is a good cook, is that she did cook. And while I sometimes resented the fact that we were demanded to drop everything and come to eat at the table right now, I am finally thankful for it in my later years. We had rules too! No elbows on the table. We had to ask to be excused from the table, we had to use manners when asking for milk or water or if you could please pass the potatoes. No reaching in front of anyone else’s plate or reaching far across the table. There was an etiquette and a respectfulness that was expected to be delivered to the person who had prepared the meal for us. While some of this may sound old fashioned to you, I would hope that that at the very least the shared meal (no matter your family etiquette) never, ever, ever goes out of fashion. It doesn’t need to be all local and organic, it just needs to be prepared at home and shared with your family. It’s a sort of endangerment of our emotional well being to not do so.
So tonight make something good, even if you’re a terrible cook! At least you’ll all get a good laugh out of it and it your efforts will have been a success!
Sooo…What’s in the Box???
Spaghetti Squash- These are the large, yellow, and hard winter squash at the bottome of your box. These guys are all the rage in the gluten free world. Cut them in half lengthwise, scoop the seeds out and lay the squash cut-side down in a 9x13 pan with about a half inch of water at the bottom of the pan. Bake them for about an hour at 350. After a hour is up, you’ll be able to scoop out all of the spaghetti like squash and enjoy it however you like. Serve it with a home made tomato sauce using your tomatoes in this weeks box?!?!
Yellow Onions- Yellow Onions! They’re all cured down by now and we’ll continue to shell them out until then end of the season!
Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper- These peppers are also known as 'Banana peppers’. They are most commonly seen lime green or a yellow-ish color. When they are ‘ripe’ they turn orange or red which sometimes makes them a little sweeter. Hungarian Hot Wax, despite their intimidating name are amidst one of the most mild of all hot peppers out there. For a Woose like me, they’re perfect!
Jalapeno Pepper- One of these little guys per box. Jalapenos turn red as they ‘ripen’ near the end of the growing season. You may have received a red jalanpeno. Jalapenos pack a little more heat than the Hungarian Hot Wax peppers. We recommend wearing gloves if you go to cut these up!
Sweet Bell Peppers- Four sweet peppers per member this week. You may have received red, orange and/or yellow peppers this week. A wonderful addition to your salsas, stir frys and salads! Some of the sweet peppers this week were a Carmen variety that are large, bulky peppers like a sweet bell, but come to a point at the tips.
Lunchbox Sweet Peppers- Everyone received about four little, small sweet peppers that could be mistaken for a hot pepper, but they are not hot. They usually come in red, yellow and orange colors. We grew these little guys last year for the first time and totally fell in love with them! Eat these for a snack raw, or cook with them like you would any other sweet bell pepper.DSC 0132
Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes- We were able to pick one pint for everyone this week. These are my personal favorite of all kinds of tomatoes! Some of the pints were mixed with a small, red grape tomato that ripens the color red, unlike the sungold cherry tomtoes that ripen orange.
Napa Cabbage- Napa Cabbages are a popular cabbage variety that is used in kimchi. It also makes a wonderful Asian salad that is eaten raw. This is one of our favorite varieties of cabbage that we have the best of luck producing in the fall when the insect pressure is low. Any kind of Asian vegetable variety is usually attacked by bugs in the heat of the summer.
Edamame- These are the little green pods in the plastic bag that look like soybeans. The look like soybeans because they are an edible soybean! You’ll have to give them a good rinse before you eat them because they were a little muddy from all of the rain this last week during harvest. Boil them in a little salt water for just a few minutes and then pop the beans out of the shell and eat only the beans. They’re great kid food and a terrific snack!
Kohlrabi- Most of the kohlrabi that we harvested this week was the purple variety that. Although, near the end of the harvest we harvested a few of the white kohlrabi. These are so tender and crunchy! Don’t forget that you can cook with the Kohlrabi greens like you would kale or any other cooking green!
Tomatoes- Tomatoes are on the decline. We packed a 4.5 lb bag of tomatoes for everyone this week. We did our very best to keep strict quality standards this week as to not let any tomatoes with blight spots in the bags. We had to cull a huge percentage of the harvest to make this happen. We pick any tomato with a ‘blush’ or any shade of red, yellow or orange. We grow many different kinds of tomatoes and some are romas, some are heirlooms and some are standard slicing tomatoes. We grow many different colored tomatoes as well. Don’t wait for your tomatoes to all turn a bright red color, some of them ripen pink or yellow or orange. You will know when they are ripe if you give them a very gentle squeeze and they are soft and not firm anymore. Do not put your tomatoes in the fridge as their flavor with diminish. We recommend leaving your tomatoes on your countertop to ripen if they are slightly under ripe. Only if they are very ripe and you are in danger of loosing them should you put them in the fridge if you can’t eat them up promptly
Carrots- .85 lbs of carrots per member this week. We struggled to get enough carrots for this weeks box because we had to dig them all with a pitch fork this week using hours more of labor and time to make this possible. With all of the rain that we have been getting, we cannot make it into the fields with a tractor or digging equipment. Furthermore, because of all of the rain this season, many of our carrots are rotting in the fields because they are sitting in ground that is always wet. We’re hoping that we don’t loose too many more carrots to rot this Fall.
Romaine Lettuce- One or two heads of lettuce per member this week depending on the size. We are happy to be able to offer a fall giving of lettuce!
Cilantro or Basil- Most of the members received cilantro, but at the very end we needed to harvest about 10 bunches of basil to make up for what we did not get for cilantro.
Garlic- Armenian variety. This garlic is special. We have been saving our own garlic seed for over 12 years and have had this garlic variety in the ‘family’ for as long as our farm has existed. We love this variety because the cloves are so large. You only need to peel one large clove rather than peeling several tiny cloves like what you experience when you buy china garlic in the grocery store. This is a hardy, northern hardneck variety that is also quite attractive to look at. It should keep on your counter for months. If you still have it after January, stick it in the fridge for the longest shelf life.
Next Weeks Best Guess:
Sweet Peppers, tomatoes, onion, kohlrabi, carrots, garlic, winter squash, hungarian hot wax pepper, jalapeno pepper, lunchbox peppers, kale, savoy cabbage, basil, broccoli?