November 1, 2010

The Most Intimidating Box in the World

This year Dustan and I bought a CSA share at a local farm in Oak Creek.  You can read about it here, if you're interested in that sort of thing.

It was a funny thing, that white box.

Most people would love a box of organic vegetables spilling onto their counter. 

We dreaded this white box like The Plague.  First of all, pickup was every Wednesday before 7pm at a house near us in Racine.  It was the biggest feat of the week.  We could not get that box.  If it's any indication of how we'll be as parents, little Bearcub Balkcom will be that kid after school making small talk with the teacher, sneakers on concrete, waiting on his ride.

Me: Hey wait, isn't it Wednesday?
Dustan: Ahhhh dangit.

When we first talked this decision over, we were both on board, because we have hoped to start our own CSA at some point in the future.  Not just a passing whim, but a LOT of late nights in bed talking over what it would mean to have our own farm as a job.  We've thought through everything, from the coolest root cellar to the design of the garden to the massive harvest parties we would throw every year under lanterns with guitars and dogs and babies and butternut squash soup in thick mugs.  It was only logical that before we could start a CSA, we should test out the other end - the customer end.  So it was a no-brainer.

Theeeeeeen, I got pregnant, and the veggies started coming right in the middle of the first trimester.  The first trimester was like one of those cats that rub up around your ankle all coy and calm, and you think 'Hey, I might actually like this cat!'  And then right when you reach out to pet it, it turns around and sinks its claws into the fatty part of your palm, and suddenly you hate all cats everywhere.  Yeah, that's what the beginning of pregnancy was for me.  Except what I suddenly hated was vegetables.  All I could imagine eating when I got pregnant was trailer trash food, to mitigate the "morning" sickness that hit worst at night.  Pizza, corn dogs, cheeseburgers, sausage biscuits from McDonald's, frozen stuff that gets greasy when you cook it.  All the worst, artery-clogging, immune system-destroying goodness on the planet.  Bacon, doughnuts, italian sausage, cheese cheese cheese.

Not only did I not want vegetables, I didn't cook.  Period.  This was not the time for me to Google "kohlrabi" and figure out how to use it before it went bad in my crisper (which it did).  I can't even tell you how much money I spent grabbing takeout and random slices of mushroom pizza at 3pm in downtown Milwaukee (but it was a lot). So these boxes would come, and Dustan would pull out the little sheet of recipes they came with and he'd make something.  And at first, this worked.

Confetti Potatoes

That is quite beautiful, isn't it?

Roasted chicken with beets, red onion, summer squash, apples, carrots and turnips

Penne lisce with summer squash, some other squash, carrot and tomato marinara and parm
But after a bit, the endless mystery vegetables became quite a burden.  I gave a lot of them away.  Some of them wilted and I threw them away.  What a dismal, wasteful failure I was!  We both were!  It was a good lesson learned.  I don't think we have any business starting a farm.  We paid a lot of money to give away turnips this year, and it left a really bad taste in our mouth.  CSA's are awesome, but this one just kind of slapped us around and we didn't do with it what we should have.

Now I'm in the glory days of being prego, looking round but feeling great.  I eat vegetables now, don't worry.  I actually prefer fresh cooking, because all that crap I ate at first is now associated with the rolling nausea I thankfully don't have at all anymore.  But that very last veggie pickup?  Was aaaawesome.  We're both so glad that White Box isn't here to sit in judgement of us anymore.  (Even though there are 3 lingering turnips in my fridge...does anybody want them?)

P.s.  I'm blogging again because I'm back to work 3 days a week instead of full-time.  I have no idea how people keep up (quality) blogging while working and having a balanced life.  It totally eludes me.


  1. I am glad to read this; I was thinking about joining something like this next spring. I thought that growing up on a farm meant that I knew what every veggie was, but this is a terrible misconception. I go to the grocery store, pick up objects, turn them over and think, "What on earth is this, and how are you supposed to cut it open?" But I am thinking about joining a wool/yarn CSA; I can deal with yarn.

  2. A wool/yarn CSA?? That sounds even more amazing and intimidating. But I'm sure you could rock it.

  3. i don't know how people blog and have a full-time job either...hence the reason i only post about once a month now.

    also, i've wanted to join a csa for a long time but i know i'd have the same experience you did (minus the pregnancy). i just can't see it working for me, and i know i'd crumble under the pressure of those mysterious veggies. i like to meal plan for the week, go to the grocery store and buy the exact veggies i need, and then cook them on the designated night. exciting, i know, but it works for me. plus i'm way frugal and putting up that kind of money up front and then not using the veggies would make me sick to my stomach. kudos to you guys for giving to a shot, though!

  4. Glad to see you back - we need more pictures soon! And I promise we can quit playing phone tag! I am home today - call me if you want! Love and hugs!

  5. @ Libby - Yeah, meal plans work best for us too, so I totally understand that. Before we bought, we visited the farm and talked with the farmer who assured us that if we were a vegetarian family of 5, we would need a bigger share. I agree looking back that the actual AMOUNT we got was not overwhelming. It was actually pretty perfect for a family of 2. It was just the unknowing that killed me, and if I'd been in a place to make and freeze stuff, or just chop and freeze, it might have been way better.

    Giving the veggies away sucked - but it was better to watch people's eyes light up than throwing them away....

    Ugh - who wants Poptarts for dinner raise your hand!

  6. Make oven chips out of the turnips. You'll thank me later!


Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I like to be liked. I enjoy being liked. I have to be liked. But it's not like a compulsive need to be liked. Like my need to be praised.