Thursday, May 31, 2012

Our first CSA pickup!

Have you ever heard of a CSA? It stands for Community-supported agriculture.  How it works is people in your geographic area will purchase half or full shares of vegetables from local farms.  Each week, the farms will assemble boxes of whatever crop is ready for harvest, and bring them to a common location for pickup by shareholders.  As a shareholder, you don't have a choice of what vegetables you get; you just get what you get each week.  Shareholders pay for their half or full share at the beginning of the season -- if there is no rain or the crops are low for another reason, you might be out of luck.

I have always wanted to participate in a CSA, but in the past I traveled often and did not think I could eat all of the vegetables I would receive.  Now that Justin and I are living together in Arlington, I decided to shop around for a CSA and participate by purchasing a half-share of vegetables each week.

Several CSAs in the Arlington area were already completely full by the time I started looking (early May), so our veggies have to travel a little further to get here from Pennsylvania.  They come from the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, which gathers fresh foods from the local Amish farmers and delivers them to us!

 Here's our first batch:

For our first pickup last week, here's the list they sent me the morning of my pickup:

1 Pint Strawberries - Certified Organic - Liberty Acres
Click here for strawberry storage information.

1 Bunch Baby Scarlet Turnips - Certified Organic - Outback Farm
Click here for turnip storage information.

1 Bag Loose Sparkler Radishes - Certified Organic - Maple Lawn Organics
Click here for radish storage information.

1 Bunch Red Kale - Certified Organic - Maple Lawn Organics
Click here for kale storage information.

1 Bunch Collards - Certified Organic - Coyote Run Organics
Click here for collard storage information.

1 Package Portobello Caps - Certified Organic - Mother Earth Organics
Click here for mushroom storage information.

1 Bunch Fresh White Pearl Onions - Certified Organic - Liberty Branch Farm
Click here for onion storage information.

There were a few items in there that I had to learn how to cook (Kale, Collards, and Radishes), but all in all I would say it was a successful week.

The second batch we picked up this week was more familiar and a lot easier for me:

1 Bunch Asparagus - Certified Organic - Farmdale Organics OR Lancaster Farmacy
Click here for asparagus storage information.

1 Bag Snow Peas - Certified Organic - White Swan Acres
Click here for snow pea storage information.

1 Bunch Garlic Scapes - Certified Organic - Coyote Run Organics
Store unwashed garlic scapes in a loosely wrapped plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
1 Head Broccoli - Certified Organic - Farmdale Organics
Click here for broccoli storage information.

1 Head Red Leaf Lettuce - Certified Organic - Railroad Organics
Click here for leaf lettuce storage information.

1 Bag Mini Bok Choy - Certified Organic - Riverview Organics
Click here for bok choy storage information. 

....Except what the heck is a Garlic Scape??  It looks like the green part of a scallion and I have yet to Google what I should do with it.  I also may have cooked the bok choy to death on accident in my stir fry -- oops!

update: Karen over at The Art of Doing Stuff must be reading my mind... 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Rose Garden

We went out to visit Justin's parents in Middleburg, Virginia a few weeks back.   His dad is a very talented gardener and grows the most beautiful roses.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

a Top Golf birthday celebration

A few weeks ago, we celebrated our dear friend Michelle's birthday playing Top Golf in Alexandria. 

Top Golf is pretty fun.  It's basically like a driving range with these huge targets out in the field.  Kind of like bowling (or maybe ski-ball), the computer-chipped golf balls distribute points depending on where your ball lands.

Apparently Top Golf only has four locations in the United States (and three in the UK), so I'm glad we get to enjoy this one every now and again.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the food was pretty good for a place like this, and they even have punch-like sangria.

I loved baking a cake for Michelle's birthday because I knew her favorite flavor combination and color, so she was guaranteed to like it as long as I didn't mess it up :)  I did add a little something special by spreading on a layer of my grandma's homemade strawberry jam between the two layers of chocolate cake.  (Full disclosure -- it was a box cake with store-bought frosting.  It was a weeknight, don't judge me.)

All in all, I think the birthday girl had a fun time!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Order Envy and Bald Eagles

Justin was working on Saturday, so I spent the day in Chester, VA at Maryellen's adorable new shop, the Handmade Happiness Boutique.  As always, it was so fun to look at all the pretty jewelry she has been designing.  Now that Maryellen is running a retail shop, she also carries the work of several other artists and designers from around the country.  Every corner of the shop has something new to see!

Justin drove down to spend the evening with us, and we had a great time chowing down on Chinese food and watching Baby Leo run around like a crazy person.  He is no longer a sleepy baby, he is now a little whirlwind of energy.

On our way back home, Justin and I stopped for a visit to Fredericksburg, VA.  It was a great way to spend the afternoon.

We enjoyed lunch at a little local favorite called Soup & Taco.  My meal was ok, but I didn't follow the cardinal rule: get the soup and taco.  I had a bad order and spent the meal enviously watching Justin eat :)   (The restaurant is great -- I just forgot that I don't like empanadas!)

After lunch, we met up with our friend Ryan for a little stroll down to the city docks.  Some crazy woman was out there with a stopwatch, forcing her miserable children to do running workouts in preparation for the Great Train Race.

Ryan headed home to spend the day with his family, and we went off to J's favorite fishing spot.  He has been testing out some new lures and learning more about fishing techniques. 

My homework kept me busy, but I did manage to do a little sky-gazing while I was there.  I may or may not have squeezed in a little "power nap" on the riverbank, as well.

From my front-row seat, I also watched two bald eagles flying over the river, catching fish.  At one point, one of the eagles sat on a tree branch watching a hawk find a fish for lunch.  As soon as the hawk caught one, the eagle flew right over to him and the hawk dropped the fish out of his beak and flew away.  That lazy eagle got himself a free lunch!