My Little Bundle of Joy

My CSA box, just opened.

I picked up my first community supported agriculture (CSA) box yesterday from an unmarked garage near Uptown Minneapolis. I was excited to see what had come from Harmony Valley, but disorganized enough to have forgotten to bring my own bag to carry away my bounty (the boxes themselves are meant to stay). As it turned out, my little bundle of joy included a 5-foot bundle of decorative pussy willow (I could also have chosen dogwood), so it wasn't all that little.

The foods in my CSA box provided what I imagined to be a pretty good idea of the boxes to come: a few vegetables I recognized (overwintered spinach in a bag, rhubarb, chives) and a whole bunch of stuff I'd never seen before, including ramps, black radishes, sorrel, and burdock. The overall package was gorgeous (but real enough - the sorrel was full of holes, letting me know that I might not have been the first creature to gnaw on it) and I approached it full of hope and anticipation. I've heard so much about ramps lately that I needed to try one of those immediately.

As I bit into what looked like a slightly bulbous, slightly reddish green onion, I realized that the taste was like nothing I'd ever eaten before, in a great way. Ramps taste like the love child of scallions and garlic, smooth and spicy. I'm excited to put them in all sorts of things for as long as ramp season lasts (just about 2 weeks, I'm told).

Sunchokes, parsnips, and chives on the grill

After a bite of sorrel (bursting with tastes of lemon and pepper), my wife and I settled on a side-dish of parsnips, sunchokes, and chives grilled in olive oil, lemon, sea salt and pepper (pictured on the left). They were slightly charred, a little bit too firm, and - somehow - exactly perfect. After dinner we compared notes with neighbors who had started on their ramps and spinach. My kids stuck to the chives - the only food they immediately recognized - but we'll be cooking lots of other interesting local, sustainable, organic things this week, which they will definitely try. This spring, hope springs eternal.