Friday, September 6, 2013


I haven't been able to find anyone to swap blogs with today so I'm going to do this instead.

As you've probably noticed I write these posts the day before I post them, that's why the weather is always out of date. Anyway, Thursday is veggie day in our house. Since the beginning of the year we've belonged to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group run by Wairarapa Eco Farms (WEF). Community Supported Agriculture is also known as subscription farming. Basically, we 'subscribe' for a season with WEF, in other words we pay up front for three months' worth of weekly deliveries of fruit and vegetables. What this means is they we share the risk and harvest of the farm. It's kind of like futures trading, on a very small scale. What's great about it is that the farm knows exactly how much food it needs to produce and exactly its budget for doing so is.

Toki with the CSA vegetables

There are heaps of things I like about this way of buying our vegetables. For starters all the produce is organic and sustainably grown, while we're nowhere close to being an organic household the food tastes delicious (and when you're eating mainly vegetables that is quite a big thing) and it feels really nice to know where it's come from and how it's been grown. WEF send out weekly emails talking about how the farm is going and sharing articles and recipes about food. It feels really great to sort of by 'in on' the growing of your food. This year there was a bit of an issue with the potato harvest, which all matured at the same time. The farm experimented with storing some the potatoes underground to try and stagger the supply but then the rains came and the big storm and most of the potatoes got quite ill. Being in communication with the farm during this reminded me that farming vegetables is tricky and weather will often have its way.

Another things which works for us is that we pay up front for a season's worth of vegetables and fruit. I realise being able to find a month's worth of vegetable budget is a really privileged position to be in but it works for our budget. I know exactly how much to put aside for the season to come. We do supplement the CSA sometimes. For instance, we have had a bit of a glut of apples and pears and, well, we have a couple of quite committed citrus fans in the house so we often buy some extra oranges and a head of broccoli if we're hanging out. As an aside, we have a LOT of apples at the moment. I'm trying to find an apple chutney recipe but I'm not even sure I like apple chutney. It would make nice presents but, yeah, if you have any apple glut ideas please leave a comment.

I also like how the CSA keeps us seasonal. I'm not quite sure why but I feel better mentally and physically when I'm eating seasonally. I think it's a hangover from my aryuvedic days.

Me with our fruit and vegetable share.
Our vegetables are delivered to the Aro Valley Community Centre on Thursday mornings. Toki and I walk down after school and pick them up. That's another nice thing about the CSA I quite like carrying my food home by foot. I think it appeals to me hunter-gatherer instinct. While you can pick up your vegetables and fruit any time of the day, there is always someone rostered on in the early evening as people are coming home from work. Once or twice a season Toki and I do this and we get to meet almost everyone in the Aro Valley CSA share. This along with the weekly emails makes for a really nice community feeling.

One of the best things for me about the CSA has been stretching my cooking repertoire. There's something really challenging about not choosing your vegetables. While the CSA makes potato-free bags and will work with individual allergies and preferences generally we've always taken the standard share. What this means is often this year I've been faced with vegetables I've never cooked before. A couple of times I've been faced with vegetables I don't even know the name of. The WEF email lists the vegetables we get in the standard bag and sometimes even offers recipe ideas. This year for instance I met kohlrabi for the first time and it quickly became one of my favourite brassicas. One of the challenges for me has been mesclun and bitter greens. I'm not a big fan of either but I found I really liked them juiced. So again, any mesclun ideas greatly appreciated.

This week's share.
As you can see from this week's share, this time of year at WEF is all about the green, which is great for us because we really like salads and stir fries and I generally find something to do with that pesky mesclun.

Last night I made a soup. Sorry about the photo, taking photos of food is really hard. As I said before I find the mess beetroot makes a bit tiring. I also find the way it turns everything pink tricky. I don't really like pink food. I like it juiced - I like the way it all stays contained when I juice it. Control freak anyone? Anyway, last night I bit the bullet and made this soup. I think the two magic vegan ingredients are Rapunzel vegetable stock powder which basically makes everything taste good. I use small amounts of it mixed with warm water to mash potatoes, I use it in my marinades and I cook rice in it most of the time, it's also nice sprinkled over vegetables before you roast them. The other ingredient that I think makes this soup is the pearl barley. The texture is great and it made the soup more like a meal than a starter. We ate the soup with mashed potatoes mainly because I couldn't be arsed making bread, but it would be nice with bread.


1 splash of olive oil
1 teaspoon of cumin

1 onion
1/4 of a pumpkin cut into 1 inch cubes (I peeled mine)
3 small beetroot peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
6-7 small turnips (at this point I reckon put in whatever vegetable you have to hand)
(If I'd had a stick of celery I would have used that too).
(I'm not a huge garlic fan but you could add garlic, I added a bit of asafoetida.)
6-7 brussel sprouts halved
1/2-1 cup of pearl barley (rinsed)
Enough water to cover the vegetable
2 teaspoons of Rapunzel stock powder (1 teaspoon for each cup of water)
A handful of spinach or other greens

I got a big pot and put the oil in to heat over a medium-high heat. I put in the cumin seed and then the onion and cooked the onion until it was see through.

Then I added the rest of the vegetables and the barley and coated them a bit in the oil and cumin and onions.

Then I added the water and the stock, then I just let it cook covered, checking every now and then to make sure it didn't need more liquid. When it was cooked I blended it with my hand blender and then added the spinach to just wilt a bit.


  1. Nice one Pip. The CSA rocks :)

  2. Bummed that I forgot my leftover soup and mash for lunch today!
    Brent :)

    Nom nom..!