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How Seton Harvest Taught Me Cooking Lessons | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

How Seton Harvest Taught Me Cooking Lessons

Yesterday was my last day to pick up produce with Seton Harvest, a CSA sponsored by the Daughters of Charity in Evansville, Indiana.

As a gardener, I was skeptical when we joined that our family would benefit much from a weekly harvest share. We had our own 250 square foot vegetable garden that included over 20 tomato plants and a wide range of produce.

It turned out that for our own garden, weather extremes resulted in the worst garden we’ve ever had. A flooded spring, followed by a searing summer and more rain meant we didn’t harvest a single tomato until late October.

Had it not been for Seton , we wouldn’t have had much produce this year. I didn’t anticipate the variety. Each week became a discovery when I got to meet new vegetables and then research ways to cook vegetables I never knew existed. Seton pushed my cooking to find ways to use the new produce. Some of the new foods we tried:

    • Turnips taste good when they are slow-cooked with a pot roast and vegetables.
    • Rutabegas are good mixed with mashed potatoes.
    • Kale tastes wonderful when cooked in olive oil. We liked it best as krispy kale, drizzled in oil and vinegar and baked in the oven.
    • Tatsoi is a real treat. When its stalks are sliced like celery into a salad, they add a subtle, peppery zing.
    • Okra does taste good in soups – both the green and red varieties.
    • My great-aunt’s bean salad is marvelous when made with freshly steamed green and wax beans.
    • Yukina savoy is marvelous with a Lebanese beef and rice dish I discovered.
    • Collard greens really are good to eat and easy to make.
    • Fresh beets taste totally different from those out of a can.
    • Bok choy, swiss chard, and other greens are good.
    • Napa cabbage is positively beautiful and delicious.
    • Daikon radishes add a total zing to salads.
    • Parsnips are wonderful in vegetable soup.

Another perk was when I got to pick fresh blackberries or strawberries. And when I needed fresh herbs, I just brought scissors to clip them. We did pick up more traditional foods too like lettuce, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and green beans.

Despite the difficult year of gardening, Seton produced over 37,000 pounds of fresh produce this season. Though that’s down from last season’s 40,000 pounds, it provided enough for all the families in the CSA and to donate to area food pantries.

Over the harvest season, my weekly treks to Seton became mental health breaks. The moment I got out of my car each week, I felt a peace and serenity. Regardless of how hectic my week was, this was a chance to stop, be still, and savor the silence in their fields.

The silence would be broken up by the children of other shareholders, and that made it that much better. As I gathered my final share yesterday, a mother with 3 young children went to pick some final arugala. Her children ran with excitement at the prospect. These preschoolers delight in picking eggplant, their favorite vegetable. Earlier this fall, kids got to help dig sweet potatoes. When we had a CSA potluck, the kids got to go on hayrides around the property Each week, kids get to see something growing in the field.

Children – and adults – can learn healthier ways of eating and cooking. This year, Seton Harvest was my nudge that provided fresh, local produce to my family – and taught me some new cooking tricks as well.




One Response to “How Seton Harvest Taught Me Cooking Lessons”

  1. John November 9, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    Great post Mary! I think not getting in on Seton Harvest was the worst mistake I made all year. I missed it so much! We’ve had the same experience that you did. Seton Harvest drove us to try new things and find new recipes. Baked Kale with seasalt and olive oil is our favorite! Like healthy chips!

    We are big fans of the show Chopped on the Food Network. When we got a handful of new veggies from the farm, we would come home and play Chopped–seeing what kind of fancy meals we could whip up with the mystery ingredients.

    Thanks for sharing….hopefully we’ll be back next year!

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