Thursday, April 14, 2011

Community Supported Agriculture: A Love Affair

This is the not the best picture I've ever taken, but I sure am happy with it.  Why?

Because it's the first salad of the new growing season for our CSA.  I first read about Community Supported Agriculture in Michael Pollan's book In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto.  The gist of the book was to eat food, not too much, mostly plants.  Of "food", he was addressing issues with overly processed, packaged foods.  The "not too much" deals with our out of control portions, and "mostly plants" means just what it says, with an emphasis on eating more leafy greens.  My practice of these rules may not always live up to my practice (umm, that bowl of salad?  All mine.  So, leaves?  Check.  Portion?  Umm...), but I do keep them in mind.  And I believe he's got it right.  He also talks about eating seasonally and eating locally, and it's in that portion of the book that he talks about CSAs.  

I went to a website to locate local CSAs, expecting that there would be none in my corner of Alabama.  (This would have been Spring of 2009.)  Much to my happiness, there was a farm!  In Coker, Alabama!  That did Community Supported Agriculture!  (For those of you who don't know and won't google, Coker is just outside Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where we were living at the time.)  I emailed them, giddy at the prospect of engaging in this whole thing.  Disappointment arrived in the form of an "I'm sorry, all our shares have been filled for this season" and "we will put you on a list for next year if we have additional shares" email.  Devastation may be a better word.  My only chance at a CSA was gone.  I made do that summer with farmer's markets in Clanton and a brief stint with office delivery of certain vegetables via Katie Farms, also in Coker.  (If I remember correctly, a restaurant opened that wanted to use their produce, and that used much of their available supply.  We were happy for them, even if I did miss my blueberries and fresh eggs.)  

I nearly fell out of my chair the next January when I received another email from Margaret Ann at the farm about joining their CSA.  They had shares available, did we still want one, etc.  I trembled the way Edie and Bailey tremble when someone picks them up from a haircut appointment.  I eagerly filled out a form, sent in a check, and waited for mid-April to arrive.  That first pick-up was a dream.  It was just around the corner from my job at the time, and there was fresh dill.  Dill!  Everything smelled heavenly. And then there were these little bags of salad mix.  Beautiful green and purple leaves of all sorts, washed and placed into Amy sized bags.  I was in love.

The next week was when Jay and I decided to move to Birmingham full time, which meant I would be leaving my beloved job and community in Tuscaloosa.  I was excited about the move but still sad about leaving, and my biggest, most secret fear was that the CSA thing would fall through.  How would I pick up veggies from Tuscaloosa in Birmingham?  What would I do?  Turns out, they have pickups in Birmingham, too.  And one of them is maybe a mile from where I work now.  Things really do have a way of working out sometimes.

But back to the salad.  You don't get the little bags of mix every week.  You get them most often in the spring and fall, and I look forward to them each time.  (Early summer gets you different head lettuces as they've matured, and summer is just too hot down here to support much leafiness in July.)  I don't even really share them with Jay.  Most of the time I eat them at work, lovingly tearing the stems off any particularly stemmy bits.  Crumble a little feta over them and top with some Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar dressing, and really, that's all I need.  It is perfection, and there is no salad mix out there that can compare.  I've bought some bagged mixes, even gotten some at Whole Foods.  Not the same.  Not even a little bit.  I've been missing these little baggies of goodness now for months, and just the smell of the greens nearly brought to tears to my eyes when I was preparing the bowl this evening.  Things are back as they should be, and I'm still in love.  

If you want to check out my CSA, go to their web page!  My CSA is through Snow's Bend Farm, and I can't say enough good things about them.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Why I Married Him #1

I'm going to start a new, semi-regular feature for my husband, Jay.  The poor critter (and the rest of the world) generally only hears the things that annoy me (i.e. "Why do you stay up so late?! Did you really not do this thing I've been asking you to do for days?!")  It makes me sound and feel like the worst type of partner.  He really is a good man, and he really is quite good to me.  So he's getting some posts devoted entirely to him.  (And these are in no particular order of importance.  The numbers in the post headings are just going to indicate the order of the posts, not reasons.)

When we were freshmen in high school, we were walking down a hallway together.  A special needs boy in Jay's physical education class was a little ahead of us, and a group of rather obnoxious, arrogant boys came up to him and started teasing him.  He couldn't really tell they were making fun of him and just kept talking to them and answering their questions.  Jay and I saw this, and I was horrified.  But I remained inert.  I just kept quiet and kept walking along behind them.  Jay sped up away from me and walked right up to the boy and put his arm around him.  He said something along the lines of, "Hey, buddy, how was your weekend?" and quietly steered the boy away.  The others just walked off.  No scene, no nothing.  Just Jay, stepping into a bad situation, and handling it like a pro.  I'd never been so happy to be left behind in a hallway in my life, and I knew right then that the boy I'd been dating for about a year at that point was a keeper.  I kid you not.

He does not think I am crazy for the way I am about Edie and Bailey.  He encourages this behavior and engages in it himself.

He keeps me grounded.  I am prone to get caught up in a plan or a dream and spend so much time planning and dreaming that I don't follow through.  Or that I get mopey and sad when it doesn't work out.  He is a balancing force for me in emotions, daily tasks, and even finances.  I'm a bit of an impulse buyer, and my inner nature is to walk into Anthropologie and blow $200 on lovely home items.  (Every time I get paid.  Doing this occasionally, not a problem.  Twice a month?  It would be a big, fat problem.)  He keeps me from doing that, but not in a "Don't you dare spend that kind of money" way.  (I could never function in a relationship like that.)  I know that financial security is important to him, and that's how I keep it in check.  Not because it's something he demands of me.  (Again, that kind of control would be my undoing.  It's much better for me to control myself because I know it will make him happy, not because it will make him mad if I don't.  Do you see the difference there?  It may be a fine distinction, but it's an important one for me.) When I do have the occasional splurge (like the most perfect, albeit expensive, lampshade EVER), he doesn't bat an eye and generally likes the item, too.  Which brings me to....

He doesn't care if our home looks like some weird cross between a flea market, a pile of blankets, and the home section of Anthropologie.  He doesn't really care about how the place is decorated, which lets me have all my fun, happy stuff I've collected over the years just sit about.  Pewter pitchers and turquoise mason jars?  Piles and piles and books and picture frames?  One comforter, two lap blankets, a sheet, and a snuggie on the couch at the same time?  He's fine with it.  Happy, even.  And it makes me giddy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Things that Make Me Go "Ugh" and Why I Need to Settle Down

I had some car trouble a few weeks back and left my van at Home to be dealt with by the Cousin Mechanic, and even though the Van is fixed now (The Mother has been driving it some to make sure we're good), since gas prices have been up, I've continued to drive my father in law's old Focus.  That doesn't have a tape player in it.  Which means that I can't listen to my mp3 player.  (As for all you "Just get a radio receiver" naysayers...go away!  I would have to go purchase something to use that contraption, and that would be work.  This is my corner of the internet from which to complain.)  The first few weeks it wasn't a problem; I had some CDs from The Auburn Fan and then I bought the new Adele album. (If you haven't done this yet, GO.  Now.)  But my drive to work has been decidedly more droll, and I miss my random assortment of music. Ugh.

We moved last weekend.  About 12 feet or so up, that is.  Still, it was a pain, and the lack of sleep that came with the whole experience is something from which I'm still recovering.  Ugh. I knew my Trusty Coworker  had jury duty Monday, but since he's an attorney as well, I assumed no one would want him and that he'd be back in the office Tuesday morning.  WAS I EVER WRONG.  He can't talk about it (duh, he's a real live juror at this point), but they sure did want him, for some reason unknown to me.  And no worries, trial will last no more than THREE WEEKS.  But who did I feel sorry for?  Not Trusty Coworker, oh no.  ME.  The past twenty-four hours have been one giant pity party for FloCo, and it has not been pretty.  Ugh.

Then, on my drive home this afternoon, The Mother calls.  She says hello and asks how I am.  I dejectedly say I am fine.  Then, in a teary voice, she says, "I have some bad news."  I nearly faint on Highway 280.  "What?!" I cry.  "Is it The Last Grandmother?!  Is it one of the Canines?! WHO IS DEAD?!"  All I can think is that it's The Last Grandmother, and that I won't be able to attend the funeral because of Trusty Coworker's juror duties.  "I hit a deer with the Van," she says. 


All I could do was giggle.  Here I am, feeling sorry for myself, and my mother is nearly in tears about my blasted vehicle.  I ask, "Are you okay?  Did it come through the windshield?" "No, but it did crack it all the way across. You'll also need a new headlight." 

That's it?  Really?  More giggling.  Everyone is safe, and the Van may be a little worse for wear, but it is easily fixable.  There has been no death or need for tears.  I am humbled at the realization that I have been feeling so sorry for myself when, really, are three weeks alone at work so bad?  There could be a Canine in Peril, or a sick relative, or utter destruction of my parents' Home.  Three weeks?  I've got clients and a mounting pile of sticky notes to amuse me, and poor Trusty Coworker is trapped in a courtroom listening to litigation.  Bah.  I'd rather be the one at work than the one on jury duty, and I do think my attitude is better already.