Rattle them pots and pans
I immediately sent Alison an email, titled "What we're having for dinner as soon as possible."
And then our community supported agriculture folks were nice enough to deliver us a pound of asparagus Saturday morning. There's a moral imperative if I ever saw one. Even if it was raining too much to really grill, and I had to use the grill pan on the stove... that was still some fine eating.
CSA helps me get through this crappy cold wet spring, which only hints at becoming summer to toy with my affections. Summer has to come, because somewhere out there is tender asparagus, a rhubarb pie, a tomato worthy of its name, a peck of strawberries which holds all summer in its scent. And 3 months of free-range chickens to fry or roast or fry or grill or stew or fry. Or maybe I'll try frying one.
The community supported agriculture concept is relatively simple: you send a farmer a check in early spring, and from late spring to early fall, you get a share of whatever they harvest. If they get rained out, you get a call that says "don't come to pickup this week." If there's a bumper crop, you take home a glorious horde of greens or potatoes or berries.
I can bend your ear about how that's great for sustainable farming. CSA costs us almost exactly the same as grocery produce over 3 months, but we know more goes to the farmers. I can tell you how, if you really want to do something about gas prices, you should try eating things which haven't been on a truck for two days.
I can also tell you how it patches me in to the natural world. I used to like the summer heat because I like it hot. Now I know hot summers mean good tomatoes. (And a warm fall might mean an extra week or two of harvest.) When it rains too much or too little, I worry about the folks at Princeton Valley Farm.
Those things make me feel superior, but CSA is really all about hedonism. It's about discovering when food is at its best, and enjoying it to the hilt at the right time. I've put up with too many weak slices of mushy "tomato." I had quite literally forgotten that strawberries are not just those sweet fibrous giants which caterers put on fruit trays. I don't think I ever knew that a chicken should not "taste like chicken." Princeton Valley Farm reminds me that a little corner of the world can be too big (and move too fast) even for all of Kroger's 16-wheelers.
How can I reconcile this with 3 California lemons and a pound of crab packed in North Carolina and caught God knows where? I guess I can't, except to say that those are things which travel well and don't occur naturally in Ohio. (Why humans settled this poor seafoodless land remains a mystery to me, but that's for the anthropologists to explain.) All I can say is, it's about picking your battles. Eat local what you can, and spice and flavor with the exotics.
So live a little. See if you can get better food for the same money (and a better world while you're at it). Find a CSA farm that's near you.
Next week on Eating With Joe: the hunt for the farmer's market that opens at noon, instead of closing then. I know farmers rise with the sun, but people who stay up all night cooking and eating and drinking don't!
Grilled asparagus with crab mayonnaise is from Douglas Rodriguez's Latin Flavors on the Grill, which I have not read. The ingredients are, well, grilled asparagus, and a mix of approximately equal parts mayo and crab, with lemon juice and zest, adobo sauce, finely diced red onion and jalapenos, and cilantro. This is what crab salad dreams it could be. (Except just a little looser than crab salad usually is.)
The recipe says it serves 6 to 8 people, as an appetizer or side dish. But why have small dreams? I say a half recipe is a very dignified main course for two. The mix also goes nicely on a bed of lettuce for a light lunch.