Friday, December 25, 2009

A Merry CSA Meal

Our Christmas Day meal was based on the 12/17 CSA box items. And it was delicious!

That's scalloped potatoes using potatoes and onions from the box; a salmon prepared with onions and parsley from the box; steamed broccoli and cauliflower from the box; and salad using greens from the box. We also used local tomatoes--three late-bloomers from our own yard.

Hope you're eating good things over the school break!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

CSA Frittata

Since Penny asked what we do with our CSA veggies...

CSA deliveries are Thursday. Wednesday night, we clear out space in our refrigerator for the incoming produce.  Many weeks, that means whatever veggies we have left over go into one giant frittata.

Start by sauteing chopped veggies in oil, throwing the items in order of longest cooking times.

When the veggies are cooked through (but not overly soft) pour in eggs scrambled with a little bit of milk or water.  We typically use 6-8 omega-3 enriched eggs in order to cover the veggies.

Cover and reduce the heat.

When the eggs are almost done, you can dot some goat cheese on the top.  Cover again until the goat cheese melts into gooey goodness.

Serve with your favorite whole grain.  It's a 15 minute meal if you use a rice cooker with a timer for your grain.

Leftover frittata is wonderful for breakfast.

Lincoln Box contents, 17 December

Now we're set for the holiday break, with apples, potatoes, onions, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, butter lettuce, a box of baby spinach and a box of mixed greens, and a nice bunch of parsley. Potatoes and onions--that's the start of a nice big casserole dish of scalloped potatoes for the visiting relatives. What will you make with your box of goodies this time?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Lincoln CSA Box for 12/3/09

A nice supply of kitchen basics this time--celery, broccoli, green beans, potatoes, apples, baby carrots, baby Maui onions, cilantro, lettuce, spinach. What to do, what to do, on a cool night in the Beach Cities....
We had peanut stew tonight, with rice and lime and curry-style spices, and a whole lot of fresh vegetables.... made the house smell good and tasted great too. It's stew season, and the CSA box is full of possibilities in that direction.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dates of Holiday Hiatus

The last delivery for the calendar year will take place Thursday, December 17, 2009.

Delivery resumes Thursday, January 14, 2010.

Please place your orders for the remainder of December by 8 AM Friday, December 6.

I will send out the January/February 2010 order forms via email to people who have subscribed within the last 6 months.  New subscribers can email me for the 2010 form or download the December 2009 from the link to the upper left.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lincoln Box contents, 19 November

Ooooh, some goodies this time (I say that every time, don't I?). Swiss chard is the tall leafy green--treat the leaves like spinach, and the white stalks like celery, more or less. The fruits that aren't apples are fuyu persimmons--yes, you can figure out something to do with them. (Keeping it simple, they go great in fruit salad.) Yellow beans, mmm, nice to add a different color to a stirfry, or your favorite casserole. And who can't enjoy some fresh basil?

Here's what it all looked like together on my counter:
What you see: mixed greens, yellow beans, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, baby carrots, swiss chard, basil, apples, fuyu persimmons.

Friday, November 13, 2009

CSA Family Day

The next CSA Family day is December 6, 2009.  All Madison and Lincoln CSA families are invited to participate.  RSVP to your school coordinators, Grace (Madison) or Kelly (Lincoln) by Dec 1, 2009.

What is CSA Family Day at the farm?  Here's a recap from a CSA day in April of 2009.

Iris and I greatly enjoyed the CSA Family Day at Tanaka Farms.
Iris and I arrived an hour late for the 10:00 AM tour due to construction on interstate 405. While we were stuck on the freeway, I gave Iris my cell phone and asked her to dial her nanny. (Iris has decided that M will always be her one and only nanny; everyone else is just a babysitter.) Tanaka Farms is in Irvine. M currently lives on campus in Irvine. Let's meet for lunch!

Irvine is not a small town. I never expected that the farm and M's university shared a freeway exit. We drive this section of road regularly to visit my in-laws in San Diego. I never noticed this exit before. But, that's life in LA. Behind each freeway exit, is a community both distinct and integrated into the life of the larger metro area.

When M met us, she showed us how her college is visible from the Tanaka Farms parking lot. Once a week-on low carb, low carbon night-her dorm cafeteria serves produce from Tanaka Farms. Now that's local!

I couldn't believe the buccolic setting. Is this really only 1 minute away from the 405? The juxtaposition of banana trees and corn stalks tickled my fancy. The bananas we received in last week's box came from another farm. Irvine winter nights are too cold for these trees to bear fruit in large quantities.

Though they do bear some fruit. And who are those lazy guys all over the farm? Don't they ever move?

Iris tried unsuccessfully to befriend one.

The farm was also overrun with ladybugs.

The CSA tour is run separately from the strawberry and birthday party tours. We were given a map of the farm and sent to stations to pick radishes, carrots, cilantro, spinach and strawberries. It was a farm treasure hunt.

At each station, I embarrassed Iris by asking lots of questions. Can you imagine they run this entire farm, the CSA, the farm stand, educational tours and take care of the back office with just ~20 full-time employees and a few part-timers?

They minimize weeding by using drip irrigation and plastic row covers. Weeds only grow if they have water and sunlight. Under this system, they get very fewer weeds.

At first, I thought that was a whole lot of non-recyclable plastic. Then I thought about all the energy they save by not having to pump more water out here and not needing more workers, each commuting by car. We don't see the waste from that petroleum use, though we do see the plastic.

The ladybugs and scarecrows are part of the integrated pest management system, which includes interleaving crops.

Those are the healthiest tomatoes I have seen since I moved from Kansas.

Their Swiss chard has a few insect nibbles, just like mine. Note that not all the people in the background are capable of moving. ;-)

I lingered near the carrots because I enjoyed observing the wind rustle through the carrots with my senses. I could see, hear and smell the carroty goodness.

Then we headed up to the washing, chopping and grilling station at the top of a hill. They provided tofu, oil and spices to mix with our veggies. They also grilled sweet Maui-style onions. I noticed that the discarded onion tops resembled leeks. The young man told me I was welcome to take as many onion tops as I wanted.

After the food break, we headed over to the strawberry patch for dessert. They gave us one large plastic box per person and told us to fill them up. We were so sad that M had to leave the tour before dessert. She had an appointment with a study group for an upcoming exam. Luckily, we picked a small box of strawberries for her at the strawberry maze near the farm entrance before she met us that morning.

The onions are planted there to help repel insects from the strawberries.

They told us to eat as many strawberries as we wanted. So we did. All the parents were telling the kids to eat the darkest red ones, because they were the sweetest and wouldn't transport well. We picked bright red ones to take home. There is a certain joy in eating freshly picked and ripe strawberries, warmed by the sun. The kids had strawberry juice dribbling down their chins. Before long, I heard one child cry out, "My stomach hurts!"

Iris says she knows how a flower becomes a strawberry. You can see the whole process right here.

Iris managed to spill her container. She picked up what she could, and asked me to pick some more to fill it up. She carried mine. It was a windy day and our hats tried to fly away. She put the strawberries on her head to hold the hat on and to carry the strawberries. Container #2 hit the ground and burst open. I bit my tongue and watched her pick them up, slightly worse for the tumble.

After we put our pickings away, we went to the farm stand near the entrance. I bought some onions, garlic and potatoes. Iris bought a box of 6 enormous chocolate-covered strawberries. She gave Mark one, but tried to charge me $2 per strawberry! I asked her why he got a free sample. She said it was because he wasn't there. I had the option to buy them and I refused.

Bye-bye. We will be back next year for CSA day. Actually, Iris says we will be back in the summer for the watermelon tour. We went home to cook potato-leek soup with cilantro. What a great way to cap off the day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Madison CSA Program FAQ

An FAQ with just the answers.  Is it a Frequently Answered Questions?  Or answers I am tired of repeating?

Change History:
  • This post was originally written in 2009. 
  • Effective January 2010, the price for the original large boxes changed from $25 to $30.
  • Effective June 2010, smaller $20 boxes were introduced.   Large boxes continue to be $30.
  • July and August 2010, Lincoln subscribers will also pick up their produce at Neighborhood Grinds.
  • Effective Oct 2010, the boxes remain $30/$20, but the PTA will earn only $3/$2 per box. 
  • Effective Nov 2010, orders will be accepted monthly (not weekly)
CSA means community supported agriculture.  Tanaka Farms has written an introductory pdf about their CSA program.  The Madison and Lincoln schools'  PTAs partner with Tanaka Farms (TF) to locally administer the program.

Each box contains produce grown using organic methods at local farms around southern California-mainly from Tanaka Farms of Irvine.  All produce is farmed using organic methods, but may not necessarily be certified organic.  Small farms often forgo the expensive certification process.  A few times a year, TF invites subscribers to visit the farm so they can see for themselves how their food is grown.

Orders are due monthly.  You must turn in the order form and payment on or before 8:00 AM of the last Friday of every month.

The retail value of produce in each box will be $30/$20 (Large/Small box). Subscribers select the dates and sizes that they would like boxes and pay in advance.

Email the Madison coordinator for the most current sign up form.  Sign up forms can also be downloaded by following the link on the left hand column of Madison's Tanaka Farms Produce Orders page.

Make the checks payable to "Madison PTA".

Drop off the completed forms and payment at the Madison school office or at Neighborhood Grinds aka NG (2315 Artesia Boulevard, cross-street Mackay)
    Email us to let us know you placed an order (and where we should pick it up). We will email back a confirmation upon receipt of the hard copy form and payment.

    The PTA sends $27/$18 to Tanaka Farms and keeps $3/$2 to help support programs at Madison Elementary school.

    Tanaka Farms delivers to Redondo Beach and Santa Monica each Thursday.  They deliver elsewhere within the South Bay on Tuesdays.  If Thursday falls on a holiday (e.g. Thanksgiving), our backup delivery day is the prior Tuesday.

    Madison CSA boxes can be picked up at Neighborhood Grinds (NG) coffee shop, conveniently located at 2315 Artesia Boulevard (cross-street Mackay).  Just sign the subscriber sheet at the counter to confirm pick-up, and a NG staffer will hand you a box of produce. (If you think you have a box that week, and your name does not appear on the weekly list, call Aisha immediately.  Do NOT take a box.)

    Delivery times vary, but are generally in the late morning.  Subscriber boxes can be picked up anytime between 2:00 until 10:00 PM on delivery days (currently Thursdays).  Sometimes*, we send out email when the boxes are ready for pickup.  

    Tanaka Farms' sturdy waxed cardboard boxes must be returned. Please bring your own box, bag or bin to carry your produce home. NG staff will fold up the TF box and return it for you.

    Make sure you pick up the correct size box!

    Subscribers do not get a choice of produce. The boxes contain produce in season in our local area. Basically, they consist of whatever is ready to be harvested at the farm on the morning of the delivery, supplemented with specialty produce (e.g. stone fruit from the central valley, apples from Julian).

    The produce will contain varieties not commonly found at supermarkets. That's the whole point.

    Pictures of representative boxes can be found here and the posts tagged Inventory.  Pictures and inventory lists of a sample week can be found in small and large box comparison.

    We will provide recipe support at this blog.  Peruse the entries tagged Recipes.

    *Travel schedules permitting, an email reminder is sent out Wednesday to everyone who ordered a box for that week.  When the boxes arrive on Thursday, NG sends out a 'reply to all' message.  Keep your own records.  Don't count on the reminder because I can't do it every week.  If you are super curious and can't wait to tear into your strawberries, you can call NG at (310) 371-0900.

    Tanaka Farms provides free CSA family days down at the farm.  The last one was in June.  Pictures and a description of a family day from April 2008 can be found here.

    The Adams Middle School CSA program also picks up at NG.   Email the Adams CSA coordinator for the current monthly sign-up form or download the November 2010 form on Google Docs.  Fill out the form and drop it off with payment at Neighborhood Grinds (NG).  Make checks out to “Adams PTA”.  If you can’t make it over to NG in person, just drop it in the mail.
    Neighborhood Grinds
    2315 Artesia Blvd., Unit 1
    Redondo Beach, CA 90278
    Attn: Adams CSA

    Lincoln Elementary School families may sign up through the Lincoln PTA.  Proceeds from those orders benefit the Lincoln PTA. Email Kelly Wolschon to sign-up for the Lincoln School PTA program.

    Jefferson Elementary School has also joined the Tanaka Farms CSA program. However, Jefferson boxes must be picked up at the school between 2:15 and 3:00 PM.  Email Leslie Typrin to sign-up for the Jefferson School PTA program.

    Thanksgiving Week Delivery 24 November, 2009

    Our normal delivery day is Thursday.  We don't expect anyone at the farm to work on Thanksgiving Thursday, so we arranged for our delivery to be moved FROM 26 Nov TO 24 Nov. That gives subscribers time to check out the contents of the box, select their recipes for the Thanksgiving meal, and shop on Wednesday for any extra ingredients not included in the box.

    Order your Thanksgiving box today by downloading the form at the left hand column of Madison's Tanaka Farms Produce Orders page.  Lincoln subscribers can email their coordinator, Kelly W.

    Lettuce; not just for salads

    Each winter box usually includes heads of two types of lettuces. Here are a few recipe suggestions beyond salads.

    Make soup! This is not as strange as it sounds. Have you ever had watercress soup?  Romaine lettuce imparts a refreshing flavor to soup, without the spiciness of watercress.  Moreover, Chinese clay pot dishes are often lined with the tougher outer leaves of Romaine lettuce. They lend flavor and help reduce cleanup.

    You may not be the type of mom that serves ramen after a long day at work.  But I have been known to serve ramen with cubes of tofu, slices of fish cake and whatever veggies I can scrounge in the fridge.  My mother used spinach, watercress and Romaine interchangeably in ramen soup; I do the same.

    The softer types of lettuce leaves are perfect for low-carb wraps.  Boston or Bibb lettuce also works well for Korean-style lettuce cups.

    Feel free to add your lettuce ideas in the comments!

    Friday, November 6, 2009

    Can't Beet Cookies!

    Or maybe you can.... Faced with the beets in our CSA box this week, I used a recipe that works for carrots and made beet cookies. The batter was very vivid:
    But the cookies themselves weren't more than a hint of pink:
    I like them. My friend likes them. And most impressively, my very picky nine-year-old likes them. Success! The same recipe works for squash, carrots, applesauce, bananas, etc. Here's my basic recipe:

    1/2 c. butter
    1 c. brown sugar
    1 c. mashed-up (whatever)
    1/2 t. vanilla
    2 c. flour (I use a mix of white and cornmeal, with some whole wheat if I have it)
    1 t. baking powder
    1 t. baking soda
    whatever cookie spices you like (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger, cardamom)
    a cup of raisins (or sultanas, or currants, or chopped dried apricots, or craisins, or dates)
    a cup of chopped walnuts (or chopped almonds)
    citrus zest (if you have it around and you like the idea)

    Mix together in the order shown. The batter will be thick enough to roll into balls. So roll it into balls, about ping-pong size. Bake well-spaced on a greased cookie sheet, 350F, for about 12-15 minutes, till they look dry. Remove from sheet promptly.

    Thursday, November 5, 2009

    The November 5 Boxes at Lincoln

    Can't "beet" this week's box... groan. It's really a beautiful array this week:

    green beans
    mixed greens
    lettuce and more lettuce

    Check it out!

    Not a beet-friendly household? I understand, really, I do. I was hoping to use the beets to dye fabric, but it turns out to be less effective than you'd think. So I'm still in search of the right beet recipe or application for me....

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    The October 22 Boxes at Lincoln: Apples to Zucchinis!

    It's a beautiful sight, when you first open the CSA box--fresh leafy greens cover the whole top layer. But then below that, so much more goodness.... this week, we have:
    lettuce (two kinds)
    baby onions
    baby carrots
    green beans
    and a jar of strawberry jam!
    Can't picture it? Glad to help:

    Wednesday, October 14, 2009

    Make a CSA Pizza!

    Most vegetables are great on a pizza. This one used the whole bunch of spinach from last week's box, plus one pepper, and two tomatoes from our garden. The crust is homemade, because today was a good day for baking, but it would have been good on any base.

    Did you know?

    [Photo above: seafood soup made with white radishes, radish greens, and onions from last week's Lincoln box.]

    There's a Flickr group for "photographs of local and/or CSA (community supported agriculture) produce, farms, recipes, events, and people." I posted some of my recent photos of the Lincoln box and a bowl of soup I made with the contents. If you also take photos of the things you make, come join me there. It's interesting to see what other CSA folks are doing all over the country.

    Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    Oct 15 Box

    What might be in your Tanaka Farms box on Oct 15?

    ~ Japanese Turnips ~ Baby Carrots ~ Broccoli ~ Spinach
    ~ Red Leaf Lettuce ~ Cucumbers ~ Radishes ~ Russett Potatos
    ~ Romaine Lettuce ~ Cilantro ~ Oranges* ~ Apples*
    ~ Squash ~ Blue Lake Beans

    * grown by other area organic farmers

    Farmer Tanaka has posted some sad news on his blog.

    I know that the produce that everyone has been receiving lately has not been up to par and I would like to apologize for that. Some of our crops are being harvested a little early because of an infestation of beetles that we are having a hard time controlling without conventional chemicals. Harvesting a crop early is not usually a problem, but with the heat that we were having, they wilted very quickly while in the box waiting to be picked up by you at school.  Believe me, I know how bad a wilted head of lettuce can look or a limp bunch of carrots. Very unappealling.

    Also, I know that the boxes can sometimes look empty. We do try and make the retail value come out to at least $25 and most of the time it is more than that. But there will be times when items are small and do not take up a lot of room to make the box look empty or maybe we are actually short on value. If you have a garden or have had any experience growing vegetables, you can appreciate how difficult it can be to have a plant produce the amount of produce you want when you want it! Just as two children of the same age mature at different times, so do crops.

    Please remember that this CSA program is not only about receiving produce from a local farm to consume but it is also a learning experience for our children. Explaining the production cycle and the different seasons and how it affects what we eat.

    I appreciate your patience and understanding. I hope that you will all continue to support your school and Tanaka Farms as we work through this period. I guarantee that your boxes will be better!

    Farmer Tanaka
    This is an important lesson for kids.

    I once watched a swarm of locusts eat my entire garden in Boulder, Colorado in a single afternoon. I missed my homegrown tomatoes, but I still had the supermarket. Just imagine the calamity of an insect infestation if we didn't have cash and had to live on only what we could grow and gather.

    Diakon Soup

    The cooler weather brings yearning for hot soup. In case you haven't used your white radishes yet, you can try substituting the radishes for daikon (white turnip) in this recipe from "Homestyle Cooking of Taiwan", a compilation of recipes my mother gave me.
    • 1-2 pounds of daikon (or any white turnip/radish)
    • half pound of pork ribs, chopped into 1" or one rib section pieces
    • salt and pepper
    1. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Add pork ribs and boil for half a minute. Then drain and rinse the pork. This minimizes the scum that can seep out of the bones.
    2. Put the pork ribs back into the pot with 5 cups of water. Bring it back to a boil, reduce to low heat, and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
    3. Meanwhile, peel the daikon and cut it up into 1" chunks. Add daikon to the soup and let simmer for 5 minutes until pork and daikon are tender.
    4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    Add rice noodles to make a filling one-pot meal. Add cauliflower, black mushrooms, lily buds, "tree ear" black fungus, kelp or tofu.

    Be sure to reconstitute the dried black mushrooms, lily buds or black fungus in warm water for 5 minutes. Then rinse and drain before adding them to the soup. Dried kelp can be put directly in the soup.

    Thursday, October 8, 2009

    Radish and Cilantro Relish

    This recipe was submitted by one of the Lincoln CSA subscribers, Traci Vujicich. This sounds like a delicious way to use a lot of radishes!
    Radish and Cilantro Relish

    2 cups radishes, thinly Sliced
    3 tbsps. orange juice
    2 tbsps. fresh cilantro, fine snipped
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1/2 cup onion, chopped, 1 medium
    2 tbsps. lime juice
    2 tbsps. vegetable oil
    1/8 tsp. pepper, freshly ground
    Dash red pepper flakes

    Mix all ingredients in glass or plastic bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
    Makes 3 cups of relish.

    The October 8 Boxes at Lincoln

    Lincoln families ordered 39 boxes of produce for our first week of CSA boxes from Tanaka Farms. That's a lot of boxes!What was in each box? I got ten pieces of fruit (5 apples and 5 oranges):
    PLUS three heads of greens (two lettuce, one spinach, I think), two cucumbers, five or six peppers, a bunch of small onions, a bunch of white radishes, and a bunch of baby carrots:I don't think we'll be ordering pizza tonight. ;)

    If the white radishes have you stumped, here are some hints: Use them like you would water chestnuts, and slice them into a stir-fry. They're also good chopped up in egg salad or tuna salad sandwiches. Finely-chopped radishes can be added to dips and baked-potato toppings, too. Start chopping!

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009

    First Lincoln boxes start tomorrow!

    There are dozens of Lincoln families signed up for the fresh produce boxes from Tanaka Farms--yeah! Whether you're picking up your goodies outside the cafeteria after school, or at the CDC later, don't forget to bring your own sturdy bags or boxes (you can't take the Tanaka box home with you, they reuse those). If you're on foot, maybe consider bringing a shopping cart or the kids' red wagon to bring the produce home without wrecking your shoulders and wrists. You don't want to drop a bag and lose or bruise the contents.

    Monday, October 5, 2009

    What might be in the Oct 8 box?

    From Tanaka Farms' CSA blog:
    • Baby Maui Onions
    • Baby Carrots
    • Romaine Lettuce
    • Green Leaf Lettuce
    • Mild Mesclun Mix
    • Cucumbers
    • Radishes
    • Zucchini
    • Japanese Eggplant
    • Baby Basil
    • Cilantro
    • Beans (green or yellow)
    • Honey Yellow (Melon)
    • Honey Orange (Melon)
    • Apples*
    *These fruits are grown by other local CA farmers.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009

    What might be in the Oct 1 box?

    I forgot to photograph my box, but CSA Subscriber Mickey M sent this photo of the contents of her box.

    From Tanaka Farms' Blog
    (amended to reflect actual box contents):
    • White Corn
    • Baby Carrots, 1 bunch
    • Head Lettuce, 1
    • Zucchini
    • Radishes, 1 bunch
    • Maui Onions, 1 large
    • Green Leaf Lettuce, 1
    • Cucumbers, 2
    • Potatoes
    • Romaine Lettuce
    • Squash, 1 ovoid yellow one, spaghetti squash?
    • Green Bell peppers, 3 green + 1 purple
    • Cilantro, 1 bunch
    • Oranges*
    • Apples*, 4 Fuji
    • 1 bunch of broccoli (not on the "might be in box list", but it appeared in the box)
    *These fruits are grown by other local CA farmers.

    We roasted last week's potatoes with rosemary from our garden. Yum. Our rosemary bush and bay tree overfloweth. Email if you want to pick up some hyperlocal rosemary, bay leaves or a Meyer lemon with your Thursday box.

    Friday, September 25, 2009

    September 24 Box & Recipes

    Tanaka Farms sent an extra box yesterday to Neighborhood Grinds (2315 Artesia Blvd), so we could show off the produce. This week, the boxes contained:
    • 4 Fuji apples
    • 4 oranges
    • 8 Persian cucumbers
    • 5 zucchinis/crookneck squashes
    • 3 ears of white corn
    • 4 potatoes
    • 1 head of loose-leaf lettuce
    • 1 bunch of carrots
    • 1 bunch of mini Maui onions
    • green beans
    Still life with flower and produce.


    Green Beans with Slivered Almonds
    1. Blanch washed green beans in boiling water until tender-crisp (~1-2 minutes depending upon the ratio of hot water to beans), drain
    2. In a separate pan, saute slivered almonds in butter and/or olive oil until almonds are lightly browned
    3. Add minced garlic and turn down heat
    4. Add the blanched and drained green beans
    5. Season to taste with salt and pepper

    Cucumber and Tomato Salad
    1. Cut cucumbers, tomatoes and mozzarella into chunks about 1/2" to 3/4" in size.
    2. (Optional) Sprinkle with chopped seasonings such as red onion, basil, mint and chives.
    3. Toss with a vinaigrette of olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper

    Lincoln School deliveries begin October 8, 2009. Lincoln families who want a box for October 1, 2009 are welcome to order through Madison School's program. Just download the order form at the top right (under "Want to join?". Fill it out and drop the form and payment off at Neighborhood Grinds by Monday. I collect the orders and place a weekly Tanaka order on Tuesdays for the following Thursday.

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    What's in this week's box?

    Tanaka Farms is posting a weekly newsletter about what's new at the farm for the CSA subscribers. They are including recipe ideas.

    At the August CSA coordinator meeting, Tanaka admitted they were feeling growing pains. They had grown from one group to 60 groups (schools/churches/workplaces) in their first year. Selected news from their newsletters:
    We have acquired another field in Irvine just for our CSA program.  It is about 12 acres and we are going to grow as much vegetables as we can there for your boxes. We have been working on this piece of ground for about two weeks. Getting the ground ready, watering, bedding up, and we are starting to plant seeds Saturday. We are planting a little late so the vegetables won't be ready until November or December.

    New schools and new businesses are starting up everywhere for us. We acquired 20 new schools so far for this upcoming school year. Get the word out there and tell your friends, family and neighbors. Eat fresh and eat healthy.

    Here's what might be in the box for this week:
    • White Corn
    • Baby Carrots
    • Red Leaf Lettuce
    • Peaches
    • Baby Maui Onions
    • Green Leaf Lettuce
    • Potatoes
    • Romaine Lettuce
    • Tomatoes
    • Zucchini
    • Cucumbers
    • Apples
    Remember, these are the things that are available this week. Each box will contain some, but not all, of the items listed. They try to maintain consistency within each delivery. That is, each school's box will contain an identical inventory. But boxes destined for different schools may contain different items due to availability. We are a smaller school program, so we might get the rarer items!

    If you turned in a subscription order form with payment, you will receive a confirmation email from me shortly. If you haven't subscribed yet (why not?), or want to add more boxes to your order, email me.

    Thursday, September 17, 2009

    How do you sign up?

    Email for an electronic sign-up form.  (Addendum, forms can be downloaded directly from the left hand column of Madison's Tanaka Farms Produce Orders web page.)  Return the completed form with your check made out to  "Madison PTA" for $25 $30 each box to the Madison School Office (if you have children at Madison) or to Neighborhood Grinds (if you don't).  Or, you can come by Grace's office at work.

    To start, we will use rolling deadlines.  You must turn in the order form and check on or before 8:00 AM on Friday in order to receive a box the following Thursday.  After we have worked out the start-up kinks, we will move to monthly order forms.

    Tanaka Farms delivers to the South Bay each Thursday.

    Lincoln Elementary School families may sign up through the Lincoln PTA and pick up their produce at the school.  Proceeds from those orders benefit the Lincoln PTA.  Email Kelly Wolschon to sign-up for the Lincoln program.

    Jefferson Elementary School has also joined the Tanaka Farms CSA program.  However, pickups for Jefferson must be in a half hour time window after school dismissal.

    We don't mean to poach from other schools' PTAs, but working parents from any school may take advantage of the Madison program's flexible pickup times between 2:00 and 10:00 PM.

    If you would like to start a Tanaka Farms CSA program at your South Bay school, contact me to learn how to set it up.  The more schools and members we sign up, the lower the carbon footprint of each box trucked in from Irvine!

    More info can be found in Fall 2009 CSA Deliveries .

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    What will I do with all that produce?

    It's a bargain, no doubt, all that food in the photos below. But maybe you're not an adventurous cook, or maybe your family aren't very adventurous diners. Maybe that's exactly why you're subscribing: to nudge yourself and your family to eat and cook a wider range of better foods. Good for you! We'll be posting recipe ideas here to help you to work toward that goal.

    But that might take some time. And meanwhile, what can you do with all that beautiful, locally-grown produce? First, don't be overwhelmed. You don't have to eat it all the first day or two. Remember that you can always trade with your neighbors. If you don't like something or you just don't think you'll be able to use it, maybe a friend can use it instead.

    Cezanne still life painting[Visual description: A still life by Cezanne, showing a bowl of fruit, a few pots and bowls, and a bunchy tablecloth.]

    Here's another idea, time-honored and fun too: sketch your produce. Sketch one item in isolation, for starters. Pay attention to the curves, the shine, the texture. For a bigger challenge, make a still life in a bowl, maybe add a candle or bottle for height. When you like the composition, sketch, or paint, or photograph it. Or all three, if you like.

    Make CSA art with your kids, and laugh together about how tricky the greens are, or admire each other's best shadows. The goal isn't to make a masterpiece, just to have fun and appreciate your food in all its gorgeousness. This way, every delivery will bring new tastes AND colors and shapes to enjoy. (If there's enough interest, I'll set up a Flickr group for our CSA art. Let me know what you think about that.)

    Looking forward to this fall of great food, for all the senses!

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    Representative Boxes

    Here's an early August sample box.

    This was my box from late August.

    After I removed the top layer of greens, I could see the other goodies. This is what edamame looks like on the vine. We picked off the pods, boiled them in water for 5 minutes with a pinch of salt, and ate them all up as soon as we got home.

    That's not just another watermelon. It is a yellow flesh variety. Mintage Home posted a pix of the inside.

    Fall 2009 CSA Deliveries

    [Update:  In 2009, the boxes were $25 each.  Effective January 2010, the boxes are $30 each.  The post has been edited to reflect the price change.]

    Tanaka Farms will deliver Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) produce boxes each Thursday afternoon to Neighborhood Grinds in North Redondo Beach starting on September 24, 2009. 

    Each box will contain organically grown (but not necessarily certified organic) produce from local farms around southern California-mainly from Tanaka Farms of Irvine. The retail value of produce in each box will be $25 $30. Subscribers select the weeks that they would like boxes and pay $25 $30/box in advance. There is no minimum order. Try it once and then sign up for more later!

    Madison PTA sends $20 $25 to Tanaka Farms and keeps $5 to help support programs at nearby Madison Elementary School. This community-building fundraiser promotes healthy eating habits and helps support local organic agriculture. It's a win-win for everyone.

    Neighborhood Grinds is conveniently located at 2315 Artesia Boulevard (cross-street Mackay). Subscriber boxes can be picked up anytime between 2:00 until 10:00 PM on delivery days (currently Thursdays). Just sign the subscriber sheet at the counter to confirm pick-up, and a NG staffer will hand you a box of produce. Tanaka Farms' sturdy waxed cardboard boxes do need to be returned. Please bring your own box, bag or bin to carry your produce home. NG staff will fold up the TF box and return it for you.

    Send email to to request a sign-up sheet in electronic format. (Update: you can now download the form here.)  Return the form and your check made payable to Madison PTA to the Madison School Office (families with children attending Madison) or Neighborhood Grinds (community members without children attending Madison).

    • Learn more about Tanaka Farms' CSA program.
    • Subscribers do not get a choice of produce. The boxes contain produce in season in our local area. Basically, they consist of whatever is ready to be harvested at the farm on the morning of the delivery, supplemented with specialty produce (e.g. stone fruit from the central valley).
    • The produce will contain varieties not commonly found at supermarkets. That's the whole point.
    • We will provide recipe support at this blog. What do you do with the red cabbage and the apples in the winter boxes? Make braised red cabbage with apples, of course!