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Cooking Out of the Box + Answering Questions for #FoodDay2015

Yesterday was Food Day 2015. Last year, my piece - Dining Table as a Nexus for Change - appeared on Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution website. And, since Food Day 2014 occurred during my Eat a Rainbow cooking class at school, my students and I made Blue and Purple Foods.

When our #FoodDay2015 dinner party fell through yesterday - BOO for sick kiddos! Hope they're feeling better!! - I changed course to plan a dinner at home. This year's theme: towards a greener diet. To that end, I decided to highlight and cook from our High Ground Organics CSA box.

First a little bit about why I am a CSA subscriber. Organic Schmorganic. Organic fruits and veggies are available in virtually every grocery store in town. So, what's the appeal of a CSA box?

Right around the same time the Slow Food movement began to coalesce, the popularity of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) began to rise. CSAs are a popular way for us, as consumers, to buy locally-grown, organic, seasonal food directly from a farmer.

Here are the basics and benefits...the farmers receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm's cash flow and have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow. The consumers get weekly deliveries of fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits; we get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking; and we usually get to visit the farm at least once a season so the kids see that food is grown in the ground and doesn't just magically appear - in cellophane - in the grocery store!

I had initially joined years ago to get organic, freshly plucked fruits and veggies every week during their season and to support a local farm. And while I am happy to support local farmers, I realized that one of my strongest reason for continuing my subscription: the mystery! I love a challenge.

I relish getting something unknown in my box. I had never seen, much less cooked with, agretti. But I loved the burst of juiciness that it brought to a quick pasta tossed with pancetta, caramelized onions, and mascarpone cheese. The albino looking carrots - parsnips - were transformed into a flavorful soup with a sweetness brought on by white chocolate. And roasted romanesco added a nuttiness to a frittata topped with asiago cheese.

I love the adventure of finding delectable ways to cook something I've never seen before. What might stress out some home-chefs, piques my curiosity and gives me a reason to look for new recipes. So, every Thursday I pick up my CSA box and do a happy dance. Woohoo. Oh, yeah. Woohoo. Oh, yeah!

We pay $216 every 9 weeks for the season. That's less than $25 per week for super-fresh fruits and vegetables. Amazing deal.  It's like Christmas every week with the anticipation and glee of opening a box with unknown contents. I know, I'm fairly easy to please.

This week I got: green chard, apples, zucchini, cucumber, shishito pepper, shiitake mushrooms, and delicata squash. The week before there was a gorgeous Winter Luxury pumpkin that I turned into puree. Thank you, Stephen, Jeanne, and the entire High Ground Organics Team!

Now onto our Food Day 2015 feast... click on the recipe titles to go to the original recipe posts.

Though the focus of this post was our #FoodDay2015 dinner, our day began with Apple-Stuffed Delicata Squash, made with some HGO goodness.

With more of the apples and some of the zucchini from the box, I made Fennel-Apple Soup.

I roasted more  zucchini alongside my Roasted Millet-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms.

Earlier in the season, High Ground Organics delivered voluptuous tomatoes that I turned into a batch of passata di pomodoro. The tomatoes in that recipe were from Serendipity Farms, another favorite local-to-me farm, but my HGO tomatoes got the same treatment! With a jar of passata and some za'atar, I made Za'atar-Roasted Rock Cod.


While we ate, we talked about food.

What's the worst thing you've ever tasted?

J: That spiky melon thing on Ustica. I don't think that was really edible.
C: Yeah, I will never forget Tiff's reaction - I can't believe he made it past adolescence! I still can't believe you actually picked that and put it on your tongue. I remember carrying that pod all the way off the mountain just in case you fell ill; I'd be able to tell the doctor what poisoned you!

R: Cherry-flavored cough syrup. Definitely.

D: Fake cheese. I hate fake cheese.

Should food products have to meet standards 
to be marketed to kids?

J: Absolutely! No added sugar.

R: Organic. Non-GMO. And less processed.

D: No chemicals.

 What does Eating Real mean to you?

J: Non-GMO. Food that comes from really close by. Food that's really fresh.

R: Made from scratch. And you can identify all of the ingredients.

D: Eating unprocessed foods not from a package. And you can't add man-made ingredients.


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