Summer always brings such wonderful things: no school for the kids, fire works, fireflies, picnics, vacations. But the thing I love most about summer is all of the summertime produce! Growing up in the midwest, summer was always a great time to pick sweet corn, berries, asparagus and all sorts of other seasonal wonders. Here in AZ it is actually a bit sparse in the summer. But thankfully Fred has devised some great shading for our garden. I love going to the farmers market for veggies too. This time of the year the farmers sometimes bow out of our market because it is located in a hot asphault parking lot. I needed to find another alternative to fill my summer produce desires.
I really try to eat mostly organic produce from the US. I don't know if it is true, but someone told Fred that all produce that comes out of Mexico gets fumigated before it can cross the border, which pretty much negates the "organic" labeling in my mind. It has been getting more difficult to find US grown produce at Whole Foods. My good friend Daphne told me about Bountiful Baskets co-op. I sure am glad she did. The co-op offers produce boxes. The regular box is $15.00 plus handling ($1.50). The organic box when available is $25.00 plus handling. They also offer an option to purchase bread. There are times they will have other special purchase. For example this week they had a screaming deal on flats of blueberries. You must place your order online with a credit card by Tuesday of the week you want to pick up.
The down side is that you have to be there at a specific time and on time to get your goodies. It's really no big deal, but some people are a bit more spontaneaous in their shopping habits. I find it completely worth it. I'd love to see an option for and all fruit or all vegetable basket. I know a lot of juicers like this option as well. I'm not a huge fruit eater myself, so an all veggie option would be perfect for me.
Fred picked up our first basket this week. I was bummed I was working, because I find getting produce baskets/boxes a bit like Christmas. He said the pickup was very quick and organized. I made him call me when he got the box home to tell me all the goodies that were in the box. It was loaded with organic fabulousness. There were fresh green beans, a bag of sweet potatoes, spinach, romaine lettuce, a zucchini, a cucumber, a giant cantaloupe, a huge bag of grapes, gorgeous strawberries, apples, and plums. I think I got it all. It was really a bargain for $26.50. I know I would have paid a lot more at the market or Whole Foods!
I have tried other co-ops, CSA's, and other produce delivery services. What stands out about Bountiful Baskets in my mind is that you do not have to take an order every week or every other week. You only order when you want to. This is huge for me as I often travel or need specific items for recipe testing. The quality of the produce is excellent. They have lots of pick up locations.
I wish I would have gotten a picture of the whole kit n kaboodle, but I started using things up before I thought of it. It was an impressive take! I did get a picture of these beauties.
Zucchini Bites (based on this recipe from Webly at the PPK) and Baked Sweet Potato Fries
The zucchini bites are easy breezy to make. You don't have to measure things out here. Just slice zuchs to about 1/4 inch thick. Spread a very thin layer of Vegannaise on one side of each slice. Place slices, mayo side up, in a single layer on cookie sheet sprayed with oil. Sprinkle Vegan Parmesan, panko crumbs and Italian seasoning on each slice. Bake for 20 minutes at 350. Eat and enjoy. I'm going to try a variation next time by turning the slices half way through and sprinkling the other side with the panko and parm.
The sweet potatoes are pretty basic. Slice unpeeled sweet taters into thin matchsticks. Toss in a bit of canola oil and seasonings (I love to use Penzey's Northwoods Fire Seasoning). Bake for about 25-30 minutes at 350 until crisp on the edges, turning once.