Cooking Good Food in a Tiny Kitchen

Food Box Bag These days when I arrive at People’s Food Co-op on Wednesday afternoons I make a beeline for the Gee Creek Farm stand where I announce my arrival with an enthusiastic squeal of “Food Box!” which makes the women who work there grin. They help me hunt for my box among the stack of boxes, hand-labeled with our names. Portland is a paradise for foodies, so I’m sure other people are excited about their Food Box, too, but I can almost guarantee they’re not as excited as I am!

I loooove my Food Box! For lots of good reasons:

  • Like the fact that I get to visit with the farmers while I Tetris my cucumber into the nook left between my butternut squash and my bok choi.
  • Or the fact that I then get to wander the rest of the market deciding what else to buy to turn my produce into a meal (often it’s Gee Creek’s beans, wild mushrooms from The Mushroomery, a slice of almond cake, and/or Pedro’s Three Sister’s Nixtamal tortillas – especially the Guajillo chile flavor!)
  • Or the fact that I get grins from all the people who see me biking home with my bags bursting at the seams with carrot tops and kale, beets dangling from the pockets.
  • Or the fact that I’m only paying $27 a week for this much good food!
  • Or the fact that the food box contents rotate so I get something different each week of the month.
  • Or the fact that I’ve resumed creative meal planning and begun to really enjoy cooking again. (Yes, sometimes I dirty nearly every dish in the house, but it makes the tiny kitchen feel like a mad science lab, which is rather thrilling, thank you! My crock pot and my pressure cooker are both working at full tilt again and my tiny house smells great.)
  • Or the fact that everything I’m eating is delicious and intentional (rather than an afterthought – this is mindful eating, not maintenance eating).
  • Or the fact that I’m eating sooo much healthier than those two years of wimpy nutrition during grad school.
  • Or the fact that I’ve enjoyed challenging myself each week to eat everything up before the next Wednesday food box pick up.
  • Or the fact that my grocery bill has been cut in half.
  • Or the fact that since I never open the fridge and think “there’s nothing to eat” I don’t end up eating out nearly as much.
  • Or the fact that I feel compelled to host dinner parties again because I have more food than I can possibly eat all by my lonesome.

the contents of last week's Food Box

Did I mention that I'm only paying $108 a month for more delicious, organic produce than I can eat by myself? I just think that's worth repeating... (If you'd like to sign up for a Buying Club Food Box of your own, you can register on the Our Farm Community registration page.)

I think my Food Box may be the single best health decision I've ever made (and that's coming from someone who is thoroughly enjoying Yoga Union's April Yoga Challenge!)

I first learned about Gee Creek’s organic winter buying club nearly two months ago, just before I left to teach Less Is More at Yestermorrow. I decided I’d better wait till I was home again to get started with food boxes. And it’s a good thing I did because eating this much good food is a commitment! (Fortunately, when I headed out of town recently for the Tiny House Conference, fellow tiny house builder Laura Klement helped me out by eating up a food box for me!)

Food Box Menu

When time is squishy I turn my produce into quick fixes (grab an apple or an orange, dip some broccoli into hummus, smear some peanut butter on celery, dump dressing on mixed greens). But when I make time for cooking, like I did this evening while my friend Ricardo kept me company on a rainy spring day, I turn my produce into tasty meals for the rest of the week.

I’ve already eaten some of the stuff from this week’s food box. Here’s the menu for the rest of this week:

  • borscht with beets, cabbage, and apples (in the crockpot),
  • butternut squash and sage soup with caramelized onions and garlic,
  • salads with mixed greens, spinach, beets, pecans, and feta,
  • bruised kale salad with dried cherries and sesame seeds,
  • a broccoli and bok choi sauté with onions and garlic that will be turned into three meals (a curry, a stirfry, and a rice noodle dish with green onions)
  • beet greens with sesame oil and soy sauce,
  • celery with peanut butter or hummus,
  • apples, oranges, grapefruit

As the farmers at Gee Creek Farm say, “Enjoy your food in health!”

Yes. Yes, I will, thanks to you, Gee Creek Farmers!