As I made supper tonight out of bits and pieces of leftover vegetables from our early markets I pondered the pleas for help last year when families were getting their first share boxes. "What do I do with all these greens?" "How do you use this... and what is it?!" "My refrigerator looks like a vegetable bomb went off in it!" "Leftover vegetables from last week are getting mixed up with my new vegetables and I am wasting some!" The comments rolled in until everyone came up with their own system, or gave up. I'd like to share some of my "survival strategies" when the blessings start rolling in!
#1 It's time to clean out your refrigerator. I mean, REALLY clean it out...think of it as a spring clean. Look at all those jars of condiments...tiny peppers that were too hot to eat, salad dressings that have sat for weeks (maybe months) and those leftovers that no one ate and got lost in the refrigerator shuffle....be ruthless and CLEAN IT OUT. Keep what you will use and "compost" the rest. Try and devote a shelf plus a drawer if possible to vegetables. Wipe the whole thing down well, and plan on doing it each week as you store your vegetables.
(A side note right here...I HAVE A NEW REFRIGERATOR!! My old one was a hand-me-down from my mother-in-love, and was going on 40 years old. The one the Lord blessed me with through my husband is alllllllllllllllllll refrigerator...no little freezer on top. I REALLLLLLY LIKE THIS REFRIGERATOR. For the first time in my married life there is room!)
#2 Think through how you handle the fresh vegetables you now use. Does your family eat fresh salads daily like mine? How do you store the lettuce and other greens? I didn't have a method until recently that really worked. It took a bit of an investment, but we found rectangular plastic (I know, but it will save on bags in the long run.) containers that stack nicely two to three high that are long enough for the full depth of the shelf for the different greens. After I wash and spin the greens I store them in the containers for quick meals.
#3 Think through how you will rotate your vegetables. Some vegetables store well over a week...beets, carrots, radish, and a few others. One idea is to use different colored twist ties on
your bags, use a "sharpie" marker to date and label them, or rotate your stacked vegetable containers. The ideas are endless. But the most important thing is to plan your week's meals around what you receive in your share! Plan on using your vegetables weekly. I will help you with recipes that go along with the weekly harvest. If you can, buy the cookbook we will be offering soon. It was my "Vegetable Bible" last year. I will put a cookbook review up of it latter this week.
#4 One more adjustment you should try is to make time in your Saturday (Thursdays in Crossville) for washing, trimming, and storing your vegetables. You will be more likely to use the vegetables if they are handy to use. This spring I have given up with picking early spring greens as the weather has been cold (we had a frost yesterday 5/5/11 and it was in the middle 40's this morning 5/16) and WET, WET. I actually began buying salad greens! They are expensive, but I enjoyed the convenience of clean organic greens. It will take a few minutes once a week, but you can still have the convenience you have enjoyed. If you have a busy family as I have, make it a family affair. Little ones love to swirl greens in a clean sink of cool water, and my boys love to "twirl" the salad spinner. I also snip the beet greens off the beets about an inch above the bulb and store them either separately or with the chard for quick stir fries. I keep a special basket for the new potatoes (I hate mixing them in with the store bought kind!) under my sink. I also keep a special basket on my counter of tomatoes latter in the summer as they should never be refrigerated. Squash, cucumbers, and carrots are delegated to the crisper drawer, while I cut the roots off the green onions and put them in a jar that is filled about 1/3 full of water. By having everything stored clean and ready to use, I am more likely to use them when pulling a quick meal togehter. As the season progresses, I'll give more tips on how to store your bounty.
The family has finally finished picking the strawberries and gathered around our 12 foot farmhouse table for supper. I had supper waiting for them...two loaves of fresh whole wheat bread, a fresh salad make of OUR GREENS!, and a dish I named garlic chicken linguine. (It had bits of mushrooms, garlic, green onions, and asparagus in a garlic chicken cream sauce served over pasta...they told me to give the recipe to ya'll...now to write it down. :)
A handful of Swiss Chard is soaking in the sink and 4 green onions were just handed to me...this is just he beginning of a busy growing season...the challenge? Cooking with a little of this and a little of that...and at times canning / freezing A LOT OF THIS AND A LOT OF THAT! Take the challenge yourself! It's time to prepare now.
As I ponder on being prepared for the coming blessings of our farm, I want to also be prepared for the Lord Jesus Christ's imminent return. Are you? With the uncertainty of the world around us, the signs of His appearing are everywhere! You cannot count on entrance to heaven by being good, being a helpful person, or because you give to the needy. There is only one way, through Jesus Christ. You can't earn salvation or eternal life...IT IS A FREE GIFT!
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works lest any man should boast."
Until Next Week,
"The Farmer's Wife"
Until Next Week,
"The Farmer's Wife"