The Winter Spinach that Comes in My CSA is the Best No Matter How I Screw It Up

February 11, 2013 at 12:09 pm

In Week Two Our Winter CSA Included Spinach

You might think the best thing about getting a bi-weekly box of local food in the middle of winter is getting a bi-weekly box of local food in the middle of winter. And yes, that’s a good thing, really good thing, but I’m telling you the best thing about getting a bi-weekly box of local food in the middle of winter is that winter is spinach season at Tomato Mountain Organic Farm*. Chris and Kurt and the farmers up in Brooklyn, Wisconsin know that it’s not just that very doable to grow a ton of spinach during the winter in their hoop houses; they know that the spinach that can thrive in the crisp Wisconsin hoop-house weather will be sweeter and more succulent than the spinach harvested any time other time of year. Winter spinach in the CSA box is proof that it’s not just root boredom this time of year.  Proof that there’s really exiting food to eat all year long.

Even if you screw it up. My wife and I supply the Local Family with delicious, nutritious meals all the time because we use our supply of delicious, nutritious locally sourced food all the time for our meals.

I know it’s a little too brown to be luscious, but that’s the kind of dinner we’re having this time of year, which includes bacon fat braised cabbage, lentils with cellared carrots (Just like Next!), and pot pie fluffed up with locally grown mushrooms and potatoes. That’s not the kind of meal the kids tell you we have. They like to talk about the screw-ups. The part of the story they love the most is that I never let a screw up get in the way of a meal of locally sourced food.

Of all the great meals we’ve served the local family over the years, the one that will always be remembered is the one where I mistook some very red, frozen apple sauce for what I thought was a pale frozen tomato sauce. I made it. Mint Creek lamb and asparagus tips also from the freezer, braised in apple sauce. I ate it. So. It was not that bad. Mention of any element of this meal will send the rest of the Local Family into uncontrollable fits of mirth. I ate the spinach salad we made last week too.

No one would have noted anything wrong with the salad if I did not decide to add a little bit of extra dressing. My wife, having worked in the Mado kitchen for a bit, knows how to dress a salad just so. I had taken my portion from the large bowl. I wanted more. Dressing. There was the little cruet of dressing by the bowl. I poured. I used my finger to catch what dripped. I licked. I had taken dressing out of the fridge earlier that night so it would be ready for the salad.

Big salad is one of my favorite meals. You take leftover meat, in this case last Friday’s roast chicken and stretch it out with a mix of raw and pickled vegetable as well as some cheese. It’s big salad for dinner once you pour on the salad dressing. Me, I tend to make the dressing of the fly, dosing the oil and vinegar (or lemon) right on the greens. My wife, however, likes the dressing pre-mixed. To make sure she was happy, I had taken what I thought was dressing from the fridge. Really, it looked like what a mustard vinaigrette looks like when its congealed from the cold.

I licked my finger. It was caramel sauce. We had dressed the spinach with caramel sauce.  Who could tell the difference?  My daughter immediately gave up on big salad for dinner. I did not. I explained to her that a little sweetness made sense in a spinach salad. It was big salad because it contained leftover chicken, but it was also very much “spinach salad” as it had bacon and slices of hard-boiled egg too. Really, I squeezed some lemon over my helping. It was very fine. It’s hard to ruin dinner when it’s locally grown, seasonally delicious food like the winter spinach that came in my CSA.

*My wife works for Tomato Mountain, and Tomato Mountain is an advertiser on the Local Beet.