We canceled our CSA service

I was sad to do this.  I was more sad as I was picking through moldy beets at the grocery store, trying to find something edible.  The produce we’ve been getting from Bryson Farms has been outstanding.  It tastes fantastic, it’s colourful, it looks fantastic, it lasts a long time, etc.

Canceling the service is part of our ‘simplification plan’.  The challenge with a basket of produce that gets delivered, is that it arrives mid-week and then I have to plan my meals around what’s in the box.   This is more time consuming that going through my recipe binder and picking out the first  6 meals that look interesting to me.

Always an evolution here at the house.  It will only take a couple of weeks of moldy, wilted produce for me to go back to the CSA.

Menu Plan | August 10

Ok, so I haven’t been posting menu’s lately.  It’s not just the posting part I’ve been ignoring, it’s the whole planning part.  I’d like to say that it’s because I didn’t know what was coming in my weekly farmers basket, but that’s not the case.  It’s sheer disorganization – from menu planning, to grocery shopping, to scrambling every night to figure out what to put on the table.

It’s so much easier with a plan (at least for me).  Accordingly, I’m back at it this week. 

Monday – Zucchini Hummus, Tabouleh & Veggies with Pita
Tuesday – Roast chicken, steamed veggies, turnip and tomatoes
Wednesday – Greek Salad with Chickpeas
Thursday – Easy Trout Panini’s with cut up veggies
Friday – Stir-fry with left over vegetables & tofu and brown basmati rice
Saturday – Leftovers

All my recipes this week are from this new magazine I found: Clean Eating.  We’ll find out if the magazine is worth getting again after a week or two of recipes from it.

Weekend Menu UpdateThere are only so many days in a row that I can eat cereal, so on the wekeend, I’ve been trying to come up with some new alternatives.  I think I now have our family pancake recipe to the point where I don’t consider them junk food.  I use 1/2 whole wheat flour, 1/2 chickpea flour and I sprinkle them with blueberries, walnuts and flax seed while they are cooking.  In the same way I can’t have cereal everyday, I’m not up for making pancakes every weekend.  Have any suggestions?

Update on the Ottawa CSA front

As you may recall, we’ve been ordering groceries from Ottawa Organics for the past month or so.  Here are some thoughts:

Pro:

  • Arrives without fail every Wednesday
  • I can leave them a check in my cooler for the amount ordered
  • No one has stolen our groceries (big concern of my husband!)
  • The fruit has been very, very tasty.

Cons:

  • I’ve been ordering some extras off their web site (bread, milk, broccoli) to add to my ‘veggie box’.  When I order the extras, I’m given a total amount to pay and leave the check for that amount. Trouble is, they don’t always have the extras.  This means I overpay and have to take it off the next week’s check
  • The quality has been mixed: we’ve had bruised, punctured plums; moldy raspberries and worm riddled turnips.  Truth be told, when I brought this to there attention, we were given a discount off our next box.

Bytown Mom Conclusion: I’m doing this to save myself time and effort: when the milk doesn’t show up I have to head out to the grocery store on a weeknight; when the turnips have worms, I need to adjust dinner plans 15 minutes before it’s expected on the table.  Tomorrow’s our last delivery from Ottawa Organics.  We’re moving on to Bryson Farms for next week.

Giving CSAs a chance

To say things have been busy since returning to work, would be an understatement.  #1 tip from BytownMom about returning to work:  have your childcare arrangements locked in stone!  Since letting our nanny go, we’ve been going between our bouncing between babysitters and family and no one, especially our three year old, knows which way is up.

Accordingly, we’re looking for a couple of ways to simplify things around here.  The first one is not: stop driving across town to get our fruits and veggies.  They are going to be delivered to a cooler on our doorstep on Wednesdays.  As I’m not quite sure what’s in this week’s box, I’m going to menu plan once I see what I’ve got.

From the CSA options I discovered earlier this season, I’ve decided to start with Ottawa Organics, as you can add lots of fruit to your order, on top of the veggies.  Stay-tuned for menu planning to pick back up on Friday.

Menu – June 29

For my first week back at work, I have some fast and easy recipes, that make good left over lunch material. The chef salad is from Fine Cooking, but I couldn’t find a link to the recipe.

Sunday: Malasian Sambal – from the World Food Cafe, my favorite cookbook
Monday: Mexican Chopped Saladyummy lime, orange juice, cumin, garlic salad dressing!
Tuesday: Modern Chef Salad ( I’m making mine with with edamame, chickpeas and shrimp in place of your standard deli meat and cheese, here’s a collection of chef salad recipes)
Wednesday:  Burgers & Sausages (veggie… of course), roast potato salad, ceasar salad (hopefully from the garden)
Thursday: Make your own Pizza on a Pita
Friday: Shrimp & Coconut Milk Vermicelli Soup

No menu plan for this week

That’ not a good sign.  I have many, miscellaneous vegetables in the fridge, dried beans, spaghetti noodles and spices in the cupboard, but not plan.  My husband’s going back to work this week, which means I’m home along with the boys.  It will be hard enough to make dinner, but without a plan the week will not be a showcase for my best cooking. 

 

We bought a ‘lobok’ last week at the grocery store.  When my son asks what something is, I usually try to tell him.  We’re allowed to pick up one thing that’s not on our list at the store, and last week it was a lobok. I looked it up and apparently you can use it in place of “Daikon radish” and I know I’ve seen Daikon in recipes.  Now to scour the cookbooks during the boys nap time to find recipes.

 

Coincidentally, when I googled lobok, one of the first responses to come up, was a definition provided by our grocery store.  I love Produce Depot.  For consistency of quality they are unmatched in the city.   That’s a bit of a fib, Herb and Spice on Wellington is better, but I simply can’t afford to shop there every week.  It was one thing when I was single and my bill there would hit $100, but when I shop there for my family now, I’m buying $150-200 worth of vegetables and and handful of staples, it’s simply not affordable.  

But back to Produce Depot.  It’s fabulous, there are two locations one at Carling and Maintland and the other on Bank Street.  You can’t go wrong with either location and the prices as fabulous, more often than not they are less that Loblaws or what ever the chain grocery store is near your house, but the flavour of their produces is fantastic.

CSA and Organic Delivery Services

Here’s a quick summary of what I’ve been able to find regarding Ottawa CSA and organic delivery programs.  It’s not an exhaustive list.  In fact, it’s limited to farms with websites, so I must be missing a plethora of options.  I’m going to try out one of the services that delivers to my neck of the woods and will likely move to the “Ottawa Organic” group when the fall/winter hits and I’ve become accustomed to having everything delivered.

Aubin Farm

  • Based in Spencerville, they deliver from the west end to center
  • No web site:  call 613.658.5721 for information
  • Meat (beef, lamb, chickens & turkeys) products and eggs are also available
  • Apparently Indian cuisine can be cooked to order!
  • You can met htem at the Brockville Market on Saturdays (8-1) or Kemtville Market on Sundays (2-6)

Bryson Farms

  • Organic & Local
  • Home delivery to your cooler, services almost all areas of Ottawa
  • Year round delivery (not sure how they do this with only their produce)
  • Price: two persons $45, four persons $65, six persons $85 – all prices per week
  • Other Offerings:  Beef sometimes available; tomato and potato baskets available in season; starting at Parkdale Market in July 2009

Connaught Farms

  • Organic & Local
  • CSA – you buy a share of the season’s produce (16-20 weeks of produce)
  • No home delivery
  • Price:  $750 if picked up at the farm or $950 delivered to Ottawa (Canada Care Centre, behind the Canadian Tire on Heron Road at Bank)
  • Other Offerings:  Egg orders available; Meat, poultry, breads and other goods available at farm store; requires 5 hours farm volunteer work

Ottawa Organics

  • Organic, not always local
  • Home delivery to your cooler, services almost all of Ottawa
  • Year round delivery
  • Price: $25 small basket, $34 medium basket, $40 large basket — all per week
  • Other Offerings:  Add bread, extra fruit, organic milk, organic grains & staples and other grocery items to your order

Riverglen Biodynamic Farm

  • ‘Biodynamic’, but not organic
  • CSA – purchasing a share of the season’s produce
  • Price:  $550 membership fee entitles members to produce once a week, for 17 weeks (about $32.50/week)
  • Pickup only – 3 locations: Farm (Carling & Moodie), Wellington Village and Britannia
  • Full for 2009 season

Saffire Farms

  • Organic & Local
  • CSA — purchasing a share of the season’s produce
  • Delivery:  services primarily the west and central parts of Ottawa
  • Price: $500 for the season of weekly produce + $75 delivery fee

Veggie Patch

  • Local & Organic:  produce grown in community areas, not at a specific farm
  • CSA: purchasing a share of produce for the season
  • Delivery – many parts of Ottawa, but nothing west of Island Park
  • Price: weekly basket and a bi-weekly basket which are $500 and $250 respectively for the season

CSA?

Have you heard of this? Probably.  I’m a little late to the ‘community sustainable agriculture’ party.  I can’t imagine a better idea:  local growers deliver a box of fruits and vegetables to your door every week, two weeks or month.  Depending on the farm/co-op you pay for the season, or per delivery.  Some farmers are organic, some are not; other farms use only their produce, other’s act as liaison for a couple of other farms; some farms have cuts of meat and eggs available.  

A friend of mine sent me a link to an Ottawa based CSA in the winter, but they didn’t deliver to my neighborhood, so I let the matter drop.  Since then, I’ve discovered that there are farms not 10 minutes from my house (who knew there were these little pocket farms in the city!!) that have a CSA program, and they are full.  Once I started looking into the matter I realized that there are so many options, that it will be hard to pick one farm/co-op.  I’m going to start cataloguing pros, cons and options of the various farms to help me, friends and family find what works best for our situation.

I’m only looking at stuff in Ottawa, but a quick google of: CSA or organic delivery and your city name should get you started in the right direction.

Menu – March 16

It’s Canadian Living week at our house.  For no good reason, other than it was in front of me, I picked almost all our meals from this month’s Canadian Living.  Here’s what we have on the go:

Monday: Samosa Pie + salad
Tuesday: Pasta with beans and pesto (-cheese, +kidney beans, +kale)
Wednesday: California hand rolls
Thursday: Italian meat loaf with kale
Friday: Roast chicken, rice, squash
Saturday: Chicken Soup
Sunday: Curry (frozen from freezer)