Jun 11, 2010

Week 1: 白菜 and Rookie Mistakes

June 11, 2010

Well, it's true. After a million summers of hoping and wishing, we finally joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) here in Maine. Here's how it works.... My friend Anna's parents own the organic farm, we pay 'em $500, and in exchange we get an assload of vegetables every week from the middle of June until the beginning of October.

I bet you're wondering what an assload is. Well it's a precise unit of measurement (forget metric, go asstic!), and when it's measured in vegetables, it looks a lot like this:

Isn't that basket adorable? If you listen hard enough, you can hear it say things like, Come together! and Recycle, man! and Can't we all just get along? Totally different from the tupperware in the back of my cabinets. It can't talk, but if it could I bet it'd say, Wash me out, ya b****!

Now the fact that the basket is sitting on my counter? I do believe that constitutes CSA Rookie Mistake #1. I think I was supposed to leave it there. The name tag would be Rookie Mistake #2--same reason. And Rookie Mistake #3? Well, I haven't paid the balance on my account just yet. I had my checkbook with me when I went to pick up my share yesterday afternoon, I swear I did. But for some reason, I couldn't find an actual person to take my check. There were sheep, there were cows, and there were ducks all over the darn place, but no actual people. As far as I can tell, the whole CSA is done on the honor system. You walk in, you take your basket, you ignore the urge to steal beets from the Daigles or the Schwatzs, and you walk out. Just like Super WalMart--except you don't have to put the radishes in your bra.  

So Denis, Michele, if you're reading this, the check is in the mail.

Now do you have any idea how much stuff they fit inside that happy, little basket? Oh my word, a whole freaking lot--I've got more salad greens than the salad bar at Bonanza! And let me tell you, for a girls who's more accustomed to eating Ding Dongs, hot dogs, and the occasional banana, this is a major lifestyle change. Here it is all laid out:

Let's see if I get this right. We've got two giant heads of Romaine, two heads of red leaf lettuce, two heads of this super cute green curly lettuce stuff, two bags of mescalin salad mix, two humungazoid bags of spinach (like as big as the pillow on my bed), three heads of broccoli, two bags of carrots, a huge bunch of radishes, and beets...lots and lots of beets. 

And I shouldn't forget to mention this:

James pulled it off the top of the basket and said, "Mom, what's this?"

I took it in my hands and put it up to my nose to sniff it. Not much help. Then I put in next to my ear and shook it. Still no clue. So I tasted it, and you guessed it--still couldn't place it. So I said, "You know what that is, James? That's healthy."

"Oh," he said. "Its name is healthy?"

"Sure is, buddy."

So the truth is, that stuff is healthy, but that's not it's official name. It's real name is 白菜 and it's pronounced exactly as it's spelled. Some people (the ones who are far less sophisticated than I) call it Pak Choi. And the peasants? Well, they call it Bok Choy.

To be quite honest, I have no stinkin' clue what I'm supposed to do with it, but I'll get there, I'll figure it out. And when I do, I'll post it. Actually, that's the whole idea behind this new blog--whether it's baby food, a casserole, or a donation to my neighbor who's on Weight Watchers, I plan to show you exactly how I use every single item in my CSA basket.

Exhibit 1, Salad:

I didn't even need to use a recipe. I'm such a natural!


  1. sweet- I haven't found a CSA here in Dallas yet- but I want to. Looks SO healthy.

  2. That salad looks fantastic! I'm off to Walmart now. I'll try to remember to put the radishes in my bra!

  3. Just when I think it wouldn't be humanly possible for you to be more wonderful, this blog comes along. You are my hero, Amy!

  4. Such an awesome recipe for bok choy (the only time I've ever used it): http://books.google.com/books?id=DMNfuGeYfgAC&pg=PT176&lpg=PT176&dq=kathleen+daelemans+flank+steak+bok+choy+recipe&source=bl&ots=EBCDsAFAf4&sig=c_hoiifVxIHcB4TJH4YX5m2EcJ4&hl=en&ei=U74STOq1HIKSnAfZ9v2QAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBIQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Sorry for the crazy link. ;)

  5. Follower? How could I resist... the watermelon header just reeled me in! This blog looks great :)

  6. I got some bok choy from a produce co-op and I made this: http://www.parentsconnect.com/recipes/dish_1214141682663.jhtml. It went over pretty well and it's from Nickelodeon so kids have to like it. Right?

  7. love the new blog! I cant believe your CSA started already - dont you still have snow up there? :) Ours starts in another week or two, cant wait!

  8. Ugh an overabundance of green cr...um vegetables.New snack idea for me, I am filling the watermelon seed holes with m&m's. Thanks Amy!

  9. I was just thinking that they need to supply recipes with all the greens; honestly, most of that would end up rotting and becoming worm food.

  10. Damn, I wasn't the first ;) Can't wait to see what you do with the 白菜 - it's as big as James' head. Have fun!

  11. I wish I had signed up for one. We thought we were moving so we didn't.

  12. Love the new blog! I'm a longtime follower of the Lawson's Did Dallas, and I'm following here too :-)

    If you get the chance, feel free to visit my blog

    I'm excited to see everything you make!

  13. Wow, that IS a lot of stuff that fits into that hippy basket.

  14. Welcome to the wonderful summer of the CSA - or as I refer to it, Pesto Season.

  15. hi amy! we're splitting a CSA share 3 ways this summer, and it's awesome! only 2 weeks in and i'm in love. :) xo from ann arbor :)

  16. Awesome! I do have to say that I couldn't find the link to this blog on your other blog...I had to google the name. It's entirely possible that I'm just blind and missed it :)

  17. You can simply cook the bok choy with some oyster sauce and shiitake mushrooms. It's a Chinese dish--you can find it on Mark Bittman's page on the NYTimes website. I really love bok choy and it's a really versatile vegetable. If you're having difficulty finding a way to cook anything, it only take a quick Google search to find a decent recipe. That's what I do...a lot.

  18. oooooooo, I'm so excited for this CSA ADVENTURE! I still have a week to wait for mine, but look how prepared I'll be for bok choy!