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Your guide to Chesaeake Country's freshest produce and more!

My Six-Month Vegetable Journey

While touch and go at first, I now know my veggies — and how to cook them

Remember me? And my journey?

For the past six months I’ve navigated Solomon’s Island Road every Thursday to restock my kitchen with the week’s produce that came in my share of the Community-Supported Agriculture farm I joined in April.

I have embarked on a great food experiment: I am teaching myself to cook, I wrote back then. I know nothing about vegetables beyond the traditional broccoli and carrots. Knowing that I will have to branch out of those comforts if I really want to learn to cook, I decided that the next stop along my culinary journey would be to join Community Supported Agriculture.

The idea was that I’d be forced to try new ingredients, become acquainted with different vegetables and put my self-taught cooking lessons in full swing.

Boy, did I ever.

During the first couple of weeks, it was touch and go. Once, I mistakenly tried to sauté peas without de-poding them. In another discouraging experience, I made a grilled chicken salad from cabbage that I thought was iceberg lettuce. I broke a paring knife trying to slice a thick-skinned squash that I confused with its tender, thin-skinned counterpart.
I pushed on, consulted cookbooks, sought family recipes and Googled a lot.

On the plus side, I put together an almost-entirely organic potato salad, produced a pretty tasty eggplant parmesan and made more fajitas and salsa than I’d have imagined. This was primarily a cooking adventure, but I dabbled in mixed drinks and discovered a cucumber margarita that immediately became my cocktail mainstay.

A comforting thought in each culinary adventure was that regardless of how the meal tasted, the nutrients would be unsurpassable. The ingredients were fresh, rich in vitamins and minerals and shy of those not-so-good preservatives.

I’ve also been enlightened as to which vegetables are in season. I remember when I was young, loving the peas from my mom’s garden yet refusing to eat grocery store greens. Until I tasted the veggies from Sizer Farmstead, I never understood why that was. After indulging in six months of locally grown, farm-fresh produce, I get it.

Now when I dine out, I feel more educated about making healthier, tastier choices. Strolling the aisles of the grocery store, I can more easily identify which types of produce may have been brought in locally or regionally.

In 25 weeks, I’ve acclimated myself to the kitchen and discovered a world of new tastes and appreciations.

I’m not the only newbie in this business to know success. Farmer Shawn Sizer, you might remember, was in his first try at running a CSA. Sizer reported that after my article ran in Bay Weekly in April, he received so many inquiries that he decided to increase the number of shareholders next year from 50 to 200. Over the course of the summer, for example, he brought in more chickens to accommodate the egg shares. He, too, learned a lot this summer and we’re both looking forward to what next year has in store.

With one season behind us, we won’t be as green as the vegetables.