CSA Newsletter – Week 8
Beyond Nutrition- On Food, Flame, and Friends
Each of us has our own personal food history, the progression of our eating habits that changes throughout time. Currently, I cook almost all of my meals in a hole in the ground in the backyard, as strange as that seems in this country. I like to make whole-roasted vegetables to dip into salt and oil or aioli, maybe throw on a couple sausages, and throw together a salad. Simple, yet complex. But it’s more than the food itself, and it’s even more than the flame—what really nourishes me in these moments is how I get to hang out outside with my friends by the fire as day turns to night. My body and soul are so nourished by these meals in a way that nutrients alone cannot accomplish.
But this dreamy existence is not how my eating habits have always been. I grew up eating mostly processed foods, always at the couch and never at a table, and usually mealtime was a solo event. Food was good when it was affordable and gave you instant gratification, the reality of many that processed food capitalizes on. It was necessary to eat this way, but I didn’t feel like I was suffering for it at the time. On the contrary, I loved eating these foods as I watched tv. Many of us who value organic food have turned a cold shoulder to processed foods and television, but for me, I like to sprinkle them both into my mostly-organic lifestyle. Things are not always all good or all bad.
Food anthropologists who study the eating habits of consumers for food corporations have found that Americans increasingly prefer to eat alone over sharing meals with other people. Mostly, this is because people want autonomy with their food. It’s common now for each person in a household to eat a different food at mealtime, and to eat that meal by themselves. Even though I remember eating this way somewhat fondly, I can’t help but feel that eliminating the element of time and flame, as well as the social element from eating deprives us of something supremely nourishing that makes us human.
As someone who grew up eating food that lacked in physical nutrition as well as social nutrition, I so appreciate the good food that I now get to share with the people that I love. I often think about how privileged I am to have such good food from this farm, good friends from this farm, and to have a backyard and the time that it takes to cook with fire, especially when I only had access to an electric stove in an apartment for the majority of my life. And yet in so many other places in this world people are still cooking outside together with fire out of pure necessity. What is a privilege in this country is a necessary way of life in another, but in both places the simple act of cooking and eating together is one way that we can express our humanity despite all else.
Food can be so much more than the components outlined on a nutrition label. I don’t believe that a “healthy” diet consists solely of “healthy” food. For me, I strive for the following trifecta—mostly-healthy food, cooked simply over a flame, and enjoyed in loving company. But that’s just me. What makes you feel healthy? What makes you feel nourished? What makes you feel human?
Best, Laura Bennett
Table of Box Contents
- Purple Majesty Potatoes—These potatoes are a deep purple all the way through and have high antioxidant levels to show for it. I love roasting these whole, as their color seems to be best preserved this way compared to steaming or sautéing.
- Anaheim Peppers—Anaheim peppers can be quite spicy, much more than a poblano. This time of year they don’t have as much heat as they will later in the season when they start turning red.
- Bunched Beets w/ Greens
- Italian Parsley— We grow Peione Italian parsley, a Giant-of-Italy-type that has a strong, sweet flavor. I once had a parsley sorbet that completely changed how I felt about parsley. It really has a unique flavor, enjoy!
- Sierra Blanca Superstar Onions—These white bulb onions are the first fresh digs of the season as far as bulb onions go! They have a mild yet semi-sweet flavor, perfect for salads or fried into onion rings.
- Bunched Carrot
- Sweet Slice Cucumbers
- Heirloom Tomato
- Mixed Summer Squash—excellent grilled whole! All squash can be cooked similarly, however each type does have unique qualities.
- Green Leaf Lettuce—these heads of lettuce have large leaves, perfect for making wraps
Simple Couscous Salad
I love throwing this salad together quickly on hot summer nights. It’s a great way to utilize a variety of vegetables.
- 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth or veg. broth
- 1 cup uncooked couscous
- 1 head lettuce, sliced thinly
- 1-2 medium cucumber, halved and sliced
- 3-5 carrots, grated or sliced into matchsticks
- 1-2 beets, grated or sliced into matchsticks
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- A good pile of minced fresh parsley
- Some tomato, sliced up and tossed in last
- Olive oil to taste
- Lemon juice to taste
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Pepper
- Other flavor additions to play around with: toasted sesame oil, apple cider vinegar, spicy chiles, avocado!
In a small saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Stir in couscous. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 5-10 minutes or until water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, combine the cucumber, carrot, beet, onion, parsley, and lettuce. Stir in couscous.
Toss in cooked vegetable sauté, if applicable
In a small bowl, whisk the oil, lemon juice and seasonings. Pour over couscous mixture; toss to coat. Add more of anything to taste. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until chilled
I like to serve this with cheese, more fresh parsley (or whatever herb is on hand), and sunflower seeds on top
Optional-- Stir in a cooked vegetable sauté:
Zucchini stir fried in oil with garlic added a few minutes before the zucchini is done. Salt zukes after cooking process is over, otherwise they’ll turn to mush in the pan. Or, the same thing but with Anaheim pepper instead of zucchini.
Roasted Veg. w/ Parsley Aioli
This is my new favorite summer treat! At the end of the day, it’s so easy to just roast up vegetables whole, make an aioli in a quart mason jar with an immersion blender, slice up my roasted veg on a platter, dip and consume. Aioli is just mayo with a fancy name, don’t let it intimidate you. At home, I make a fire in a hole in the ground in the back yard, throw my veggies on a grate whole over the coals, and turn them as they cook until they’re done. So, whether you’re using a grill, an oven, or a hole in the ground, you can’t mess this one up! It’ll be delicious no matter what.
- 1 egg—most people just use the yolk; however, I use the whole egg when I make it at home and have never had a problem
- Oil—a mixture is nice, all olive oil can be overpowering
- Lemon juice
- Garlic, minced
- Parsley, minced (or whatever herb, basil is great!)
- 1-2 tsp mustard (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Roasted Vegetables—out of the veggies you have in your box this week, the following are great roasted and dipped into aioli!
- Carrots, Beets, Peppers, Potatoes, Zucchini
There are lots of ways to make aioli, but the basic thing that you need to do is emulsify eggs and oil together. The following link is a great walk through to make aioli by hand, however I always use an emulsion blender at home and it turns out great.
Electric: Crack an egg into a quart sized mason jar, add in salt, pepper, mustard, garlic, and lemon juice. Start pouring in oil slowly as you blend. Your aioli should start to thicken after you get a significant amount of oil in there, so don’t worry if it stays thin at first. Add your parsley in once you’ve added all your oil, adding a bit more oil to blend it in thoroughly if needed. I don’t measure the oil, but rather stop when the consistency and flavor seems right.
Roast your vegetables whichever way you like to roast vegetables. I like roasting whole in a hole. But you could roast them sliced in the oven and they’d be just great.