Thursday, September 18, 2014

How we use our CSA or Co-op {Community Supported Agriculture, Produce, Use what you have}

I HATE wasting food. I'm frugal and practical, but also justice-minded and do not like seeing things go to waste. When my husband and I started testing the waters in community supported agriculture and Co-ops, I knew that I'd need to get creative to ensure we didn't waste food.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and allows individuals to essentially purchase a "share" of produce from local or regional farmers. A food cooperative or  co-op is where members share decision-making responsibilities about food they purchase together. 

Jarrod and I initially joined a local CSA that received the bulk of it's produce from a local farmer. It was wonderful because everything was organic, local, and fresh. We picked up our share once a week on Saturday morning. What wasn't so great was that it was all pretty random stuff. Several weeks in a row we got prickly pear cactus. This isn't a great deal for our family because there's only so much you can make with cactus for a toddler...

About a year ago, we switched to Urban Acres, a local CSA that we LOVE. Every 2 weeks we pick up our share at a local establishment.

Things I LOVE about our CSA:
  • A few days before our pick-up, we receive an e-mail with pictures and links to everything that will be included in our box. This includes recipes, a little bit about the produce, and the best way to store it. 
  • It's all organic and regional. The produce supports local farmers.
  • It's stuff we eat or a good replacement for stuff we eat. We get unusual things or things we've never tried before, but it's always something that can be tossed in a smoothie, added to a stir fry, or chopped into a casserole. None of it is weird, random, or strange. 
I sing the praises of our CSA regularly and usually the first thing people ask me is what is in it and how I use it. I decided to take a fairly normal share (we get the medium share) and tell you how I use it over the course of two weeks.

This particular share included: 
  1. One spaghetti squash
  2. 5 small red potatoes
  3. two bundles of green onions
  4. about 8 figs
  5. A brown paper bag of okra
  6. 3 tomatoes
  7. Oregano
  8. Two LARGE heads of garlic
  9. A bunch of kale
  10. A bag of arugula
This was a decent share - not the best and not the worst. It came on a week where I didn't have much patience for trying new recipes, so my solutions for using these foods were rather boring. But it all got used! Here's what we did...
  • Grilled Veggie Pasta - We chopped the tomatoes, some green onions, oregano, and garlic, sauted it, and served it over pasta. I ate mine over roasted spaghetti squash
  • Hash - Chopped potatoes, some green onions, and oregano in a skillet with sausage. Sometimes we add an egg on top, but this time we left it plain. 
  • Gluten-free fried okra - This was a new one for us and it was INCREDIBLE! We ate the entire batch in one sitting. Wesley ate a ton of it! 
  • Green Smoothies and Healthy Muffins are my life-savers for using all this produce! While I really wanted to try these figs prosciutto or even these no-bake fig balls with the figs, but in the end I just used them as sweetener in smoothies and muffins. I used all of the kale in a few batches of smoothies. 
  • Salad - I force salad down Jarrod's throat a few times a week. This week we used green leaf lettuce and arugula. I'm not the biggest fan of arugula, but adding the green leaf made it palatable. 
Because this was such a simple box, it really wasn't hard to use everything. I think I ended up throwing a little bit of the oregano away, but that was all from the whole box! If I'd been smarter (and perhaps didn't have a newborn and a 2.5 year old...) I would have dried some of the oregano and froze it for later use.

Having a CSA or co-op does take some planning and flexibility. But it's a great way to try new things, get organic produce, and save money! 

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Journey to our little girl - Chapter 7: ADOPTION DAY!

This is the last installment of the Journey to our little girl series. If you missed chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3, chapter 4, chapter 5, or chapter 6, I encourage you to read those as well to find out how we ended up here! 

If you follow us on Instagram you got overgrammed on Wednesday, September 3rd. We got up early in the morning, put on clothes that had been picked out and ironed for weeks, and were out of the house by 7:05 AM!

We parked the car at the parking garage (we scouted out the day before!) across the street from the court house. We had plenty of time to capture this selfie.

After walking across the street, we went through security. There were metal detectors but we managed to get through without any trouble. The sheriffs keeping guard were incredibly sweet to my boy who pretended he was shy.

The elevator took us to the 5th floor and we had time to run around. We took more photos, Wesley read a book, diaper change, potty trip, and it was time to meet our attorney! Our attorney took us to a private conference room to go over some paperwork.

Thank goodness she went over everything with us privately. She asked us the questions she'd ask in front of the judge and I got very teary. We practiced promising to love our baby girl forever and be her parents forever. It was emotional and beautiful... While Wesley ate Cheerios and read Go Dog Go in the corner.

After we finished practicing, we walked over to the court room and waited for our attorney to check us in. A few minutes later, we were ready to go! We walked into the court room and were told to go straight to the front! We walked right up to the judge and got things going!

We introduced our family to the precious judge and he swore us in. Our attorney asked us the questions again and we said we would love Sister forever and be her parents forever. We acknowledged that the 6-month waiting period had been waived (praise Jesus!) and we were prepared to take on all the responsibilities of parenting Sister.

And then we took pictures.

She's officially a Johnston!!

We went to court records and received 3 (THREE!) copies of her paperwork. We'll get birth certificate and everything else soon, but for now, 3 copies. And we can't lose all of them. Or it'd be bad. :-) Even with waiting for the documents, we were still out of the courthouse by 8:50am!

We went back to the car and decided to go to Starbucks to kill time before the zoo opened. We changed into our TEAM JOHNSTON t-shirts and got ready for coffee. We attracted a lot of attention getting our coffee and told our story about our precious baby. Not only did the woman behind us in line want to buy our coffee, but the baristas comped our coffee! It was beautiful to share our story and brighten everyone's Wednesday.

Free coffee is good coffee!!

After our quick stop, we went to the zoo! We have a membership and love to spend time there! We were some of the first people in the zoo and decided to take advantage of that to see things we don't normally see. We let Wesley direct our path and he wandered free - there was almost no one there!
We had a fantastic time at the zoo - the weather was perfect and Wesley loved it. But after about 90 minutes, we were all exhausted. It was a very long morning! We decided it was time to head to lunch. We went to one of Jarrod's favorite spots in Fort Worth for meat and meat. I got roasted cauliflower. It was incredible and one of the only non-meat options. :-)
Sister is so excited to be on Team Johnston!

After lunch we all crashed. Wesley took a 3 hour nap while Daddy and Mama got work done. Sister was pretty exhausted too!

And that's how she became a Johnston!
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