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CSA Box Week 12: Tips, Tricks and Idea

Posted 9/5/2017 3:07am by Jenna Untiedt.

Im starting off my post a bit differently this week. After a few rough weeks, I felt the need to address the CSA concept a bit and what to do if you are unhappy. Sometimes I think we get so caught up with work and life that we forget there are people on the other side of a computer screen. We forget how fortunate we are to have access to fresh and local food. We forget what really goes into growing the food that sits on the table before us each night. By no means am I downplaying any other profession because I know we all have our challenges, but on more than one occasion this past week multiple people were unaware of the work that went into preparing for the CSA or how produce was harvested. I figured I would take a few extra minutes this week to just share some thoughts with you all.

Everyone always says farming isn’t for the faint of heart, but I don’t think it was until this season that I really understood what encompassed the entire saying. Farming operations work around the clock in every element of weather to get product to market on time. We can’t turn the switch on a Friday afternoon and say ‘see you later.’ Weekends are just another day of work and regular 9-5 hours are difficult to come by. And now, the State of Minnesota is making what we do even harder by limiting the number of hours our employees can work….more on that issue another week. We don’t say this to get attention, but maybe to bring awareness to what farmers really endure.

When we first created the CSA program, I actually was not involved. I was off doing my own thing, living in my own world because that is what I told myself I needed to do after college. I needed to experience industries outside of agriculture. Well, times change and there was an opportunity to rejoin the family business. Building this program has been my main job since 2012 and I work hard with our entire team day in and day out to ensure that you, our customer, is receiving a full share. We pride ourselves on never once sending out an empty box or cancelling a week of the program because we don’t have any produce. We are incredibly thankful for our teams that work day in and day out to make all of this possible. Every piece of produce that comes from our farm is hand harvested, meaning that it takes much longer than what a machine could do, but the quality is also higher than machine harvested produce. We are able to grow special varieties that are much more delicate because of the way we harvest. We see that as a value for all of our customers.

We work hard to provide the highest quality produce to all of our customers. Occasionally though, something may slip through the crack. Should this ever happen to you, please let us know in a constructive or courteous way and we would be more than happy to replace the item. Our goal is to keep you happy as a consumer. On a few occasions this season, I have received emails from unhappy customers who are extremely angry with how their produce was shipped. We make mistakes, we are only humans working in an imperfect world. I try to fix all issues as quickly as possible, but I want to remind everyone that at the end of the day, we are farm growing produce that is sometimes unpredictable. We take all issues seriously and strive to make you all happy.

Bad produce may happen, but we are here to fix it or make it right. We are here to provide you all with nourishing food and support our communities. Without you as customers, we would not be able to give back to all the communities in which we are a part of. Although growing vegetables is not my specialty, I get to see individuals who are passionate about it each day. They truly dedicate their lives to ensuring fresh produce gets into the hands of our consumers. Without people like that, the idea of fresh and local would be merely an idea and not a possibility. So, if you are still reading this, thank you. Thank you for taking a few moments to understand what we do and how much we truly care. As our customer, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for allowing us to grow for you.

Let's move on to the share this week. With those rain showers yesterday afternoon, some real fall temperatures arrived. I couldn't believe how fast the temps fell! With some cooler weather though, the thought of cooking returns and the box this week can definitely help out with that.

Sweet Corn: Enjoy it while you can. If you didn't make it to the State Fair, here is your chance to enjoy some State Fair sweet corn. Even if you are a little burnt out from corn, just boil it, slice if off the cob and toss into the freezer. It is always nice to pull out a bag of fresh sweet corn during the winter months. Whether it is to eat plain or add to chili or another soup, its always a winter delight. 

Tomatoes: I had the best sliced tomato with a burger last night. So much flavor! Enjoy on burgers, diced into salads, or even plain. These truly are the taste of summer. Again, if you have a pile of tomatoes on your counter, just dice into chunks and freeze on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, put into a freezer bag and save for the cold, winter months. 

Grape Tomatoes: Tired of finger food snacks? Try slicing in half, add some fresh basil and mozzarella cheese and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Enjoy these while you can as the cool temps will definitely start to slow production.

Golden Potatoes: Cooking at the parents house is always a gamble. I am never sure what kitchen tools my mother has, so sometimes I bring my own. I brought my mandolin this week to slice potatoes and knew she had an electric frying pan that was perfect for fried potatoes. They were delicious! I remember fried potatoes from my childhood, but it has been years since Ive had them. If fried potatoes aren't your thing, try boiling and mashing this type, they truly have exceptional flavor. 

Broccoli: There are so many ways to enjoy broccoli. My favorite though is to roast it and have it turn a little black and crispy. Otherwise, steamed broccoli is a great addition to many meals. 

Mini Bell Peppers: Aren't they cute? These are perfect for afternoon snacking. I used to hate eating peppers raw, but now they are one of my favorite snacks. If raw peppers aren't your favorite, try slicing them in half, scooping out the inside and filling with a bit ricotta cheese and baking until soft. Top with a small piece of bacon and you have a great addition to any meal. 

Jalapenos: These keep for a long time, so don't think you need to use them all this week. You can also dice and freeze so you can add to chili throughout the winter. With the temperatures this week though, chili kind of sounds like a wonderful idea right now!

Shallots: These are phenomenal with the Romano Beans. Sautee the shallots in some butter until soft and then add the Romano Beans. Cover the pan and let the beans steam until soft. These flavors together are so wonderful you could probably make an entire meal out of just beans and shallots. 

Romano Beans: See shallots? If mixing the beans with shallots doesn't appeal to you, you can definitely just steam these beans. When you get these home, please dry the beans off as they have a tendency to mold if they get too warm. Cooking them right away would be best, but if that isn't possible please store in the paper bag or in an air tight container with a paper towel inside to absorb the moisture that the beans give off. 

Onion: Do you have a build up of onions in your fridge or on your counter? Maybe it's time for a batch of French Onion Soup. Or, did you know you can freeze the onions as well? Just dice and lay on a cookie sheet. Freeze on the cookie sheet and once frozen toss into a freezer bag or tupperware container. Take out and add to soups or meals throughout the winter. 

Apples: Zestar! and Chestnut Crab (little apple). The Chestnuts are the perfect snack sized apple for the kids or for an afternoon snack at your desk. Enjoy the Zestars! one more time before we likely move onto a new variety next week. 

Canary Melon: Im going to first start off saying, if you get a bad melon, we did not mean to send one. Please let me know and we can replace it next week. I wish there was really an xray machine that would help us see inside 

There you have it, week number 12. If you are still reading this far, thank you. I know if got a bit lengthy this week, but I feel like sometimes we just have to address a few things. I hope you all have a fantastic week. I know these cool temps make me excited to get back into the kitchen and do a little cooking this week. Enjoy!