LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — It’s been a summer of omelets at our house, with nearly every Saturday morning spent out on the deck with coffee and these yellow half moons sitting cheerfully on the plate. The beauty of the omelet, I discovered, is that it is wonderfully accepting. Have an extra tomato? Dice it up and add. Too many jalapenos? It can take care of that. Scallions getting wilty? Throw them in there. In fact, the omelet is to breakfast what salad is to lunch — you can toss just about anything in there and somehow it all works.
My interest in omelets has been on account of the CSA basket I’ve been picking up each week. The basket represents my share of the harvest of a local farmer, and each week I’ve been getting piles of green beans, pounds of potatoes, happy tomatoes, gorgeous peppers, sugary corn. We’ve been eating like royalty and, by the end of the week, when we have the odds and ends left over, I’ve found the perfect venue for them is our omelets.
It’s my second summer doing a CSA — community shared agriculture — and last year, I was struck by how it necessarily forced me to cook according to the ingredients I had. This has two benefits. One, you are eating as seasonally as possible and are eating produce at its flavor peak. The second is you find yourself wandering aimlessly around Kroger a lot less. Dinner decides itself according to what ingredients need to be consumed most.
As a result, you get creative and find yourself coming up with different ways to prepare the same ingredient to keep things fresh. For me, green beans were my biggest challenge and, admittedly, we ate a whole lot of them simply boiled then drizzled in butter and dill this summer.
But the possibilities for other ingredients are nearly endless. Tomatoes fall into this category. So does corn. My favorite recipe I discovered this year was a Southwestern corn quiche that knocked my socks off. The secret to this little gem is a whole cup of cottage cheese right there in the filling. That, along with 2 cups of corn, cumin, chili powder, a jalapeno or two, milk, eggs, a little grated cheese, and you’ve got a beautiful meal.
It was my great friend Julie, who also got a CSA this year, who gave me the recipe. And it’s thanks to her that I recognized another big bonus of getting a CSA. It creates a mini community in which you have a group of people who have the exact same thing as you do in their fridges. As a result, they know intimately just how many peppers you need to go through, how many cobs of corn, how many pounds of tomatoes. This prompts not only conversations about food, but really stellar recipes that, a), have actually been tested (as opposed to randomly plucked off of Pinterest), and, b), use the ingredients you really need to use too.
The result is a satisfying feeling in which you really feel like you’re advancing your meals together. You have another person who is busy in their kitchen doing experiments on what could actually benefit your family dinners too. How neat is that?
Not only that, you can pool your resources. When Julie and I admitted to each other we didn’t know what we would do with all of our jalapenos a few weeks ago, we made a plan to make salsa, with each of us getting part of the yield.
Now that I’ve had two summers with Wilson’s Cedar Point Farm’s CSA — which has been a fantastic experience — I’m looking forward to trying something new next summer: Ford and Amanda Waterstrat’s CSA in London. Another one of my girlfriends has been part of this one, and I’ve been hearing about the beautiful specimens she gets in her basket, everything from fennel to sweet corn to perfect squash.
And so I’ll look forward to another summer of perfect produce. Because, unless I magically become a better gardener, summer is no longer complete without our CSA basket. Being part of this has changed the way I look at food, changed the way I cook and has us eating a lot more fruit and vegetables. I don’t want to tell you what to do, dear readers, but I can’t recommend it enough.
Ford and Amanda Waterstrat can be reached at www.sustainableharvestfarm.com.
Wilson’s Cedar Point Farm can be reached at www.wilsonscedarpointfarm.com.