The first time around, when I lived on the north side, my CSA was awesome. Each week was like hippie Christmas—I never knew what I might find in that grubby box, but invariably I was delighted. This particular CSA was a Wisconsin collective of twenty-some farms, so there was always a nice assortment of stuff, and the quality was excellent.
Last summer, I joined a different CSA that served the Hyde Park area. I split my share with a friend because, despite my best efforts, it was just too difficult to eat all that produce before it went bad. Unfortunately, the quality wasn’t nearly as impressive and the selection straight-up sucked. It seemed like every week we opened a grubby box full of gourds and potatoes with one lonely carrot or beet.
This year, I decided I to skip the CSA and spend Thursday mornings at the local Farmers’ Market, which is just a few blocks from my front door. I stopped through for the first time last week and thoroughly enjoyed myself even though it was pretty slim pickings. I love the early season when farms harvest loads of greens, asparagus, strawberries, and little else. Unfortunately, the greens looked as though they had been munched by one of the beasties on E’s creepy list, so I overcompensated by buying three quarts of strawberries, along with asparagus, tomatoes, rhubarb, and okra.
While the vendor clearly thought I was a crazypants, it all worked out in the end because I had enough to make a fruit tart for C & A (who were terrific sports even though I ran out of time and had to bake the shell at their place) and a strawberry-rhubarb pie for Z. I was particularly excited about the pie because I got to use my favorite recipe for crust, which uses equal parts vodka and water. (Too much water makes the crust tough, while booze keeps it moist and easy to roll out.) This dessert is impressive on so many levels: it’s relatively easy, incredibly tasty, and best of all, when your friends tease you for being an alkie, you can dazzle them with your knowledge of gluten formation.