Real Life CSA: week 4

I am usually quite excited when I get our weekly email about what’s coming in the CSA, but when I saw this week’s one, I said “OH. YES.” out loud. Why? RAMPS.

Western PA has had a cold, dark spring coming out of a nasty winter. It’s already pretty cloudy around here, but this year has been dark in particular. (I heard once that Pittsburgh was second only to Seattle for cloudy days each year. I wonder if that’s true – and I wouldn’t be surprised.) 

So because of the slow start to the growing season, the fine folks at Penn’s Corner substitute fresh produce with other items, such as their canned goods and pasta, eggs or cheese. No complaints here. When you plant your own garden, however small, you appreciate the time it take to grow food and how wonderful the return is after the wait. And who can say no to pasta and cheese? (Well, maybe vegans or celiacs, but thankfully Penn’s Corner has shares for those people too!)

Anyway, the salsa will go in our stockpile, but since we cook Mexican food regularly, this won’t be a problem to use up before it comes time to make fresh salsa. Potatoes will be a side of some sort, and the lettuce like usual will end up in salads. Sometimes the best preparations for veggies are the simple ones.

Eggs will add to our stockpile as well. The ones you see in the bowl behind the CSA eggs are from our own chickens, so we have a combination of both on hand. Will give Mark a chance to experiment with some recipes from Michael Ruhlman’s new cookbook, Egg.

This fresh feta cheese from Hidden Hills Dairy looks amazing. I used to be averse to all crumbly cheese because of the texture, but it was one of the items that Mark really introduced me to that has grown on me to the point that I love it now. 

We have spinach in our garden right now that overwintered in a miracle, so I’m thinking it might make a good combination with the feta in some dish – maybe even with this fresh rigatoni from Fontana Pasta. We have loved this fresh pasta – and would probably order way more of it if we had more freezer space.

And now for the main event – what I’ve been waiting to cook with my whole life. Ramps. Ramps are wild leeks that have a garlic flavor to them. I’ve had them at restaurants before – most recently at Cure as a “ramp ash” on pasta. But I’ve never been able to cook with them myself, primarily because the farmers markets aren’t open when these babies show up, and also because I have no idea how to forage for them. I might not forage for them anyway, since there are concerns about over-foraging since these have exploded in popularity. But as they state in the weekly blog post, Penn’s Corner’s suppliers and member farms are committed to sustainable practices. 

So I’m beyond excited to get a chance to make something with these.  

What that will be remains to be seen, but there are tons of recipes out there for them, being the hot commodity that they are. 

As a side note, we also ordered from the Penn’s Corner Farm Stand this week to refresh our supply of Clarion River Organics bread and butter jalapenos, which I’m so obsessed with, I have started putting them on everything. I might have to use a similar preparation and canning if our jalapenos do well this year, but for the moment, we are enjoying the luxury of someone else’s hard canning work.