Thursday, October 21, 2010

No more soggy cilantro

Cilantro, like many cut plants, wilts over time.  The cure for this is to trim the cut ends and plunge them into a vase of water.  Use enough water to cover most of the stem, but not the leaves.
 Then place a loose plastic bag over the cilantro and put it in the refrigerator.
When you want to use a bit of cilantro, just take out the small amount that you need and put the rest back in the refrigerator.  Cilantro can stay fresh over 2 weeks in the refrigerator this way.

Celery also benefits from this treatment.
To the CSA box celery, we added some carrot flowers from our garden and a stalk of artichoke from Trader Joe's to make an edible bouquet.

Most people don't eat the carrot tops that come with the CSA carrots, but they are really pretty when put in a vase with some flowers from the garden or store.

You can use a glass instead of a vase, but a vase has a more stable base.  You can also put it in a plastic juice pitcher, but then we don't see the cilantro and forget about it.  Oops.

The science behind this:
When you trim (1/2" to 1") off the ends of the cilantro, you open up the small tubes that draw water from the bottom of the plant to the leaves.  It's lack of water up at the leaves (not an excess of it) that makes the leaves wilt.

If you place the vase of cilantro out at room temperature, you can watch the water in the vase disappear through evapotranspiration out through the leaves. 

How does the speed of the evapotranspiration vary with the temperature in the room?  The humidity?  The level of water?

The water in the vase can also breed bacteria.  After you are done with this experiment, rinse the cilantro and vase to reduce the bacteria, refill the vase, and put the cilantro back into the vase.  You may want to trim about 1/2" off the stems again.

If you don't use the plastic bag, the cilantro will evapotranspirate water into the refrigerator, which is not good for some of the other food in there.  That's why you want to use the bag.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Adams CSA Program FAQ

What? Boxes of local (So Cal) produce, ~75% from Tanaka Farms of Irvine.  All of the produce is unsprayed; some are certified organic, others are grown using organic methods but not certified.

Where and When? Boxes are delivered every Thursday, typically between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM, to Neighborhood Grinds (NG) at 2315 Artesia Blvd, Unit 1 (the northwest corner of Mackay and Artesia).  NG usually sends out an email announcement when the boxes arrive.  Boxes can be picked up any time before NG closing time at 10:00 PM.  If you don’t have access to email during those hours, you may call Neighborhood Grinds at (310) 371-0900 to check if the boxes have arrived.

How much does it cost?  $30 for a large box, $20 for a small box, paid in advance.  Make checks out to Adams PTSA.  There is no minimum order size.  You need not order the same size each week or on a regular schedule.

How do I sign up?  Email the Adams CSA coordinator for the current monthly sign-up form.  You can also download the form from the Adams PTSA CSA webpage (look on the right hand side, under Resources).  You can also 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 PTSA”.  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

When’s the deadline?  Orders are due the last Friday of each month for the following month.  
E.g. orders for November 2010 are due by 8 AM October 29, 2010.  You select the size box you want and the weeks you want them.  Orders and payment can be left either at the Adams MS office or at NG. Orders are due at 7:45 AM at the Adams MS office or at 8:00 AM at NG. 

Who? Because we distribute the boxes off campus, anyone--not just Adams families--can join the Adams CSA program.  Tell your friends, families, neighbors, and coworkers…

Logistics:  We email confirmations of orders received.  We usually send an email reminder the day before delivery to that week’s subscriber list. When the boxes arrive at NG (usually between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM), NG sends out a “reply to all” announcing their arrival. Boxes can be picked up any time between that announcement and 10 PM NG closing time.  To save yourself a trip to return the cardboard box to NG, leave the box there; bring your own bags to carry your produce home.  It’s also a good time to drop off sign-up forms and payment for the following month.

Why?  To teach our kids what grows seasonally in our region.  To increase the economic viability of small family farms amid suburban development.  To economically buy organic and unusual produce.  To save time and money.  To lower the chemical input into our soil, our water table and our bodies (both the consumers’ and the agricultural workers’).   To lower the carbon footprint of your food.  And, of course, to raise money for the Adams PTSA.

Announcing the Adams School CSA Program!

Effective November 2010, Grace Peng will be running the Adams Middle School CSA program.  You can email her at adamschoolcsa@gmail.comEmail the Adams CSA coordinator for the current monthly sign-up form or download the latest form from the Adams PTSA CSA website (on the right hand side, under Resources) or download the November 2010 form on Google Docs.

Deliveries continue to occur on Thursdays.  When Thursday falls on a holiday, delivery will be on Tuesday.

UPDATE 10/22/10
Madison PTA is looking for another volunteer to coordinate their CSA program after October, 2010.  Do you want to help out Madison PTA?  This is your chance!

The Madison School CSA program will continue under the direction of Aisha Qaasim.  You can email her at

You can subscribe to either program* and pick up at Neighborhood Grinds.  Just be sure that, when you drop off your sign-up form and check, you let the NG staff know which program you are in so they put it in the correct envelope.  Make checks payable to Adams or Madison PTSA.

Lincoln subscribers continue to drop off their forms at the Lincoln school office and pick up their boxes at the school.

* While the status of the Madison program is in flux, you won't miss a single week if you sign up for the Adams program.