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This year, I knew what I was in for when I opted to do another CSA season, so we ended up splitting an every-other-week vegetable share with another family. This means once a month we get a load of veggies-Leo-might-politely-try-once. The rest of the time, I stock up at the food coop on the vegs-known-to-be-acceptable: green beans, broccoli, corn, kohlrabi (still his fave; peel with a knife, slice and steam, tell your kids it tastes like broccoli stems but better, then report back—is Leo weird?), the occasional carrot, sugar snap, wax bean, plus raw cukes, avocado, bell peppers.
I’m not complaining, the kid is a good eater. Plus he loves participating in the CSA pick-up, and he demolishes our fruit share. But a few times a month, I serve him dinner separately, then eagerly wait till he’s asleep before heading back into the kitchen to prepare what I call Sauté of CSA.
When your food is picked in the morning and trucked directly to your neighborhood by the farmer, it doesn’t need much more than cooking (if that) to make it one of the best things you’ve eaten in weeks. And when it comes as a grab-box of different veggies that you’ve never considered putting together before, all the better! This week, Sauté of CSA contained summer squash, green and jalapeno peppers, red onion, scallions, corn and oregano, all topped with crumbled fresh goat cheese.
Our CSA farm is Mimomex, owned by the Mexican Rodriguez family, and I attribute the taste of the jalapenos we get to their heritage. Yes, they’re spicy, but not just sharp and hot like the green chili peppers I buy at the store—these are plump, crisp, and so incredibly fragrant that roses come to mind. Half of one of these peppers suffuses a dish with wonderful flavor and just the right amount of warmth, and declares it to be a grown-up dinner. Enjoyed with a frosty Negro Modelo in the barely-lit kitchen after the heat of the day has passed, our grown-up CSA dinners have become one of my favorite things this summer. Yeah, a CSA veg box can make cooking kid-friendly meals a challenge, but then again, it makes cooking kid-unfriendly meals a real treat.
Zoe Singer is a freelance food writer and cookbook editor and co-author of The Flexitarian Table. Food Editor and blogger for The Faster Times, she tries not to eat for two now that her son is a toddler.