July 2012

cooking class: the farmer returns

For the uninitiated, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a group of like minded folks who pony up a chunk of cash at the beginning of a growing season in order to support one farm. In return for the financial stability, the farmer then delivers the bounty from his harvest to those same people on a weekly basis for as long as it lasts. Some CSA’s have their members go to a central spot to pick up their goodies. We are extremely fortunate to have our deliciousness delivered right to our door.

Oh happy is the day when our first Farmer Totman box arrives! Starting the first week of June and continuing on, more or less without cease, through Thanksgiving, the weekely arrival of fresh produce, eggs, meat, grains and other goodies signals the end of my dependence on Whole Foods in particualr and, more importantly, the end of my horribly disorganized style of grocery shopping. At least until the dark days of winter come again, and the deliveries stop for another season, we eat what’s in the box.

Farmer Totman is the current incarnation of the esteemed fashion designer Christopher Totman, who I met and instantly befreinded back in the olden days of the 1990′s. (I still wear something of his probably once a week, which speaks to both the quality of the workmanship as well as the design…) One of the truly wise ones, he ditched the mean streets of NYC for the more pastoral venue of his family farm in Western Massachusetts, turning his artistic eye from shaping dresses to creating crops.

And beautiful crops they are. Lucky are the 24-odd families who receive the fruits of Farmer Totman and his carefully curated posse’s labor. Because the box includes not only the produce that he grows himself, but also goodies from other local small producers in the area… including South River Miso and Side Hill Farm yogurt, which is hands down the best I’ve ever tasted.

But it can be almost oppressive. How do you go through such bounty and use it all up each week before the next week’s delivery arrives? What if, god forbid, we go away for a weekend or dine out more than once in a week? Or if we’re just feeling lazy?

No time for any of that. It’s all about taking what’s in the box and making the best out of it. And the best is pretty damned good, if you ask me. This summer and fall are going to be all about working through the entire box, and sharing some of the great tips/recepies, etc I learn along the way.

Click below for the first installment of this particular story.

So for example, here’s a photo of what showed up a couple of weeks ago…


Just looking at it all makes me hungry. So I decided to rip off one of the appetizers at Prune, a favorite spot to eat, especially when you’re stuck in Manhattan. Just clean the radishes, dip them in some softened butter, dip that in some salt and enjoy.

When you start off with the perfect radish, you don’t have to do much!