Saturday, July 10, 2010

CSA Number 5

This post is dedicated to Mom's cutting board.  I made it for her in 1970 while taking wood shop at Lane Tech High School.  Each of the various woods; oak, walnut, teak, ash, and cherry, were hand planed to exacting standards (so exacting, that some of the cutting boards made were rather skinny because of the difficulty of getting everything square... you had to get approval from the shop teacher before you could move on.)  and then glued together to make the rough butcher block.  We then hand planed the front and back surfaces flat, cut out the shape on a jig saw, and then filed, sanded and beveled the board to finish up.  Forty years later it is going strong, letting me prepare meals for the third generation of Kopankes.

Mom's Cutting Board

Nine point nine out of ten people who knew me prior to this summer would assume that the residue on the knife was from some unlucky, but soon to be delicious, animal that I was going to eat.  They would be wrong... at least in this case.  The residue on the knife is actually beet juice from some organic, free range, humanely killed beets that were pasture grazed and silage finished in the farmyard.  (Somehow, I can't give up the language of meat.)

I went to Green City Market at 7 AM this morning to pick up my weekly allotment of vegetables from my CSA share.  While I was there, I had to restrain myself from indiscriminately buying all sorts of gorgeous vegetables.  The early summer vegetables are just starting to show up in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin and they are coming to the tables of the farmers in all their glorious diversity.  There were five different varieties of summer squash on one table, two different peaches, three different raspberries on another.  Table after table showed the focus of different farmers' interests as root vegetables, fruits, or leafy greens would variably take the fore.  I counted 6 different kinds of kale at one stand!

Greens, about to be washed

One of the best treats for me are the tomatoes.  I have been buying heirloom tomatoes that were started in hoop houses a couple of months ago.  They are incredibly close to the tomatoes dad would grow in his backyard and while they are expensive, $5.50 a pound, they are more than worth it to me.  You can see the view from my condo at the top of the blog... the north facing view is breathtaking, but is not conducive to growing tomatoes.  Otherwise, dad would have some competition.

Finally, the root vegetables.  To be honest, I don't really know what to do with the beets.  One of my enduring memories toward the end of summer is coming down the stairs from my bedroom and smelling the earthy smell of mom preparing the beets for canning.  I hated that smell.  She would sometimes make something she called "Harvard Beets".  I hated that smell even more!  Even though I tell Danika that she should at least TRY unfamiliar food, I have never, ever, ever, eaten a beet.  Sometime this week you'll get to hear my adventure with that wily vegetable as I try to come to grips with it.

Carrots and Beets

Today's recipe?  An incredibly simple one.  Go ahead, you spend two buck on a Slurpee, why not buy a heirloom tomato from a farmer's market and get some real value!


Garden raised ripe heirloom tomato, whole.  (I'm not talking about "vine-ripened tomatoes" that come three or four to a vine.)
Sea salt to taste.

1. Hold tomato in right hand and slightly lick a small portion of the surface so that the salt can stick.
2. Sprinkle salt onto moistened area and bite.
3. Continue eating like an apple, adding salt as desired.
4. Reverse hands, if left handed.



  1. There is only one vegetable I hate and that's beets! So I share your feelings. I am however drooling over those tomatoes! Yum! I thought the cutting board story was classic. - Scott

  2. My mom grew up in farm country (although she was a "City Girl", if there is such a thing in Red Bud, IL). She'd be gratified to know that "City Boys" eat tomatoes like they do down there. I miss my veggie garden!!