ELLSWORTH — No matter how many years you’ve been eating your vegetables, an overflowing Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box of produce can still induce head-scratching about what to do with that root or stalk.
To that end, a Seattle woman has released a new cookbook, “Bounty From The Box: The CSA Farm Cookbook.” The 712-page volume is packed with recipes, cooking tips, suggestions for 92 vegetables herbs and fruits.
Author Mi Ae Lipe also wanted to showcase farms and food organizations across the United States, many of which are making a difference in their communities, she said.
Lipe will speak at the Porter Memorial Library in Machias on Thursday, June 16 at 7 p.m.
She was encouraged by Machias-based editor Laurel Robinson, who proofread the book, to visit Maine. The pair will spend time at the Machias Farmers Market the afternoon of June 16.
“I thought it would be fun to put together a book to help people like me know what to do with their box,” said Lipe in a telephone interview last week.
CSA stands for community-supported agriculture. A consumer pays a farmer upfront for a share of produce throughout the growing season.
“Farmers in these arrangements benefit from this financial security as well as start-up capital to get their crops in the ground at the beginning of the season,” Lipe wrote in an essay about CSAs.
Of course, you’ll find the book useful even if you’re shopping at a farmers market or a supermarket vegetable aisle.
Lipe, is native of South Korea, but was adopted and grew up in California. She is a professional book designer and editor.
“Bounty from the Box” is an expansion of an earlier book Lipe wrote called “Tastes from Valley to Bluff: The Featherstone Farm Cookbook.”
The Featherstone book was born from Lipe wondering what she should do with a CSA box a farmer had given her as payment for designing a logo for a farm.
“Being a struggling farmer, he didn’t have enough money to pay me in cash,” Lipe said. “We did part cash and the rest as a CSA barter.
“That was my introduction to CSA,” Lipe said. “Just like anybody else, I wondered what to do with these boxes.”
In expanding the material from her first cookbook, Lipe has added 40 more crops and corresponding recipes. The addition includes coverage of tropical fruits and vegetables as well as edible flowers.
Lest you find 712 pages daunting, Lipe has the book arranged by seasons and what might be available in each.
There also is a handy listing of recipes by ingredient at the back of the book.
“This is a truly comprehensive resource, whether your produce comes from a weekly CSA box, the supermarket, or your local farmers market,” Lipe wrote.
“Bounty in the Box” is unusual because it’s an anthology,” the author said. “It’s curated from many different sources. I wanted to avoid having a cookbook that was all the same style of cooking and flavors. I wanted it to be pretty diverse.”
To that end, Lipe sourced the 361 recipes from professional chefs, cooking magazines, food bloggers and farmers.
The recipes represent a variety of ethnicities as well as American comfort food.
There are noveau recipes to those you might see in a community church book, Lipe said. “It’s a really wild range of things.”
In addition to recipes, Lipe has included how to choose, prepare and store each produce item as well as the foods and flavors that complement each one.
In researching farms to feature, Lipe worked with two research assistants to cull through the listings on localharvest.org.
“It was a really hard choice because there are probably 6,000 to 8,000 CSA farms around the country,” Lipe said. “We were shocked at the diversity of the farms in terms of helping people.”
There are farms that help people regain dignity from helping with housing for homeless people to helping refugees to farm and promote their own corners of the world with agrotourism, she said.
“As we dug further into that research, I wanted to let people know farms are doing this amazing work besides farming,” Lipe said.
Maine farms are represented including an essay about University of Maine Cooperative Extension in connection with FoodCorps.
The Portland, Maine-based North Spore Mushroom Company is cited in an essay about mushroom CSAs.
There is also is information about Maine Farmland Trust’s annual series of farm dinners.
Lipe said her goal for writing the book was to help the cause of CSA farms and the cause of farming in the U.S. by giving consumers to tool to help enjoy what farms produce.
But, not all the sidebars are about farms. There are essays on food ethics, gardening, nutrition and other satellite topics.
As far as her own vegetable consumption, Lipe said she’s a believer in “big, messy salads. Salads that form whole meals are my most favorite thing actually.”
“I really like the very best, freshest ingredients,” she said. “I don’t believe in making things complicated.”
“Bounty from the Box: The CSA Farm Cookbook” ($35) by Mi Ae can be ordered through www.BountyfromtheBox.com.
All about asparagus
- Serve cooked asparagus cold with a simple vinaigrette, or olive oil, lemon juice, and sea salt. A final toss with grated lemon zest adds flavor and beauty.
- Asparagus is the ultimate finger food. Believe it or not, proper etiquette calls for eating asparagus with your fingers, not utensils! Kids love dipping spears in a little dish of melted butter, salad dressing, or mayonnaise.
- Slice into 1-inch pieces and stir-fry with other vegetables in a wok with a little corn, peanut, or sesame oil.
- Substitute asparagus for leeks in a leek tart or quiche recipe, or combine the two vegetables.
- Top pizza with very thin spears or tips of parboiled or steamed asparagus. , Sauté asparagus in chicken broth for more flavor.
- Place parboiled asparagus spears, tomatoes, mushrooms, and shredded mozzarella cheese on top of focaccia bread for an elegant garden pizza.
- French-fry asparagus just like potato fries for a delicious and unusual dish, or try as a tempura vegetable.
- Asparagus and morel mushrooms, lightly sautéed in butter, are a magical combination, with happily synchronized market appearances in the spring.
- If you are lucky enough to encounter young, tender asparagus the width of a pencil, try serving it raw with carrot and celery sticks and a favorite dip.
- Asparagus was born to be wrapped. Do it with bacon, but smoked salmon, prosciutto, Iberian ham, phyllo dough, salami, and smoked turkey are also absolutely delicious.
Correction: An earlier version of this article contained an error. Author Mi Ae Lipe’s name was misspelled.