I am writing this exactly four weeks after I received a CSA box from Oxbow Farm. This matters only because I am sure they were expecting something within a few days…a week tops. But, like I said, it has been four weeks….maybe even five.

I have been in a bit of a funk.

I probably should be writing about how important CSA programs are to small organic farms and how we should all support them. Vote with your dollars kind of stuff but you all know that. My audience gets it and I love you for that. Truth is, though, I used Oxbow Farms and there event coordinator, Audra Mulkern of The Female Farmer Project, for my own personal reasons. I used them and this project to get out of said funk. I needed some momentum. I had not made a video or written anything in a long time. I cancelled my podcast. I turned down cooking demos and presentations. I hated my job. I got upset when my kids complained about the food I had made them….

“Don’t you know I cooked all night last night at work then came home and made your school lunches at midnight then only slept five hours and now you are saying you want cereal instead of the scratch crepes I just made?!!”

Amazing how easy it is to play the victim.

So, five weeks ago I forced myself to get the kids in the truck on my day off and drive out to The Hoedown Festival at Oxbow Farm in Carnation, Washington. We had a great day. Classic farm stuff like bobbing for apples, pressing cider, sunflower mazes, food trucks, hay rides etc. etc. Fun yes, but I was just going through the motions. Phoning it in. We had been here before. I have done many a cooking demo on this farm and my girls and I have explored this whole place with wide eyes and total care and curiosity. But, that guy wasn’t around anymore. I miss that guy. I miss the real Chef and Father that my girls are so proud to call their dad.

The hay ride stopped out in the middle of the fields amidst the kale, chard and fennel flowers. Luke, the farm manager, got out of the tractor and told all of us weirdos packed like sardines on a trailer full of straw a bit about the farm. We learned about green manure and we all got a sense just how hard running a 100% organic farm really is. I was thinking about how funny all of us must look to Luke but he didn’t show it, and truly, I think even though it was his thousandth hay ride, he really cared about what he was saying. He cared about his work and how it was affecting us and our planet. After his reluctant sales pitch of the Oxbow CSA program we carried on through the rows and rows of green vegetables as usual. But something had shifted in me. I suddenly saw how excited all the parents on this hayride were to share it all with their kids. Seeing the world as an intelligent adult through the eyes of your kids can be amazing. Living in the moment, curious, open, unfettered. A gift for any parent if you choose to un-wrap it.

Moment of clarity. Momentum = motivation. Take action. I went straight up to Audra and, as my daughter was furiously peddling a bike that was running a blender that was, in turn, making a smoothie out of swiss chard, I took said action.

“I want to do the Oxbow Box Project again this year, make a video, blog post, whatever.”

Truth is, I didn’t really want to do it but needed momentum and I know if I commit to something I will see it through. The Oxbow Box project has food bloggers make food from the CSA box and write about it. It is a cool way to promote CSA projects in general. Here is the video I did a couple years ago.

A week later I picked up the CSA box at Oxbow Farm on my way to work. I remember being jealous of the girl (probably an intern) who was washing down the floors under the vegetable prep areas. Doing dirty farm labor sounded good to me. That was where I was at. I brought the CSA box to work, looked at the contents, and put it in the bottom of my fridge. As I cooked that night I came up with wildly creative video ideas of how I could use the box. Ideas were flowing. Was I back?

A week later the box was still there glaring at me. It hated me and I hated it. Well, I hated myself for letting it sit there…rotting. I even emailed Audra to let her know I just couldn’t manage it and passive aggressively offered to pay for the box because I wouldn’t be able to hold up my end of the deal. She didn’t respond. She knew better than to pander the victim. Then a Saturday opened up. I quickly emailed again. I was pumped! You will get your video. Yes! Go! She responded with something but I forgot what. Then Saturday came and I sat in my farm studio and piddled away doing other things. Cameras stayed in their cases. Nothing happened. What has happened to me?

Another week goes by….But, of course, I was still posting pics and such on Facebook and Twitter to show how great everything is! You ever do that?

Then one night, on my long drive up to my farm studio, I thought of the work farmers do to bring us beautiful food that sustains my family and realized just what a whiny bitch they would probably think I was being. And then I fought back (to my own idea.) No…I am not lazy! I pride myself in sticking to my word. I do the work. But, this time, I needed a strategy. So, on a rainy Friday night after work I set up all the cameras, the lights, the mics, built a background to block the window light, designed the scene a bit, charged all the batteries, and basically set myself up so I had zero excuses in the morning to not start shooting. Guess what? It actually worked. I woke up, pressed record and started cooking. No cameraman, no script, not even a plan. I just figured it out as I went. I shot straight through the afternoon then rushed off to work.

I won’t keep going but it took another week of putting off the editing and constantly figuring out how to motivate myself to just get it done and get me to today. Video is done. Blog post happening right now. Unbelievable, how hard it can be to get yourself to be creative sometimes. Living a life outside the norm takes daily work. I guess I needed this year of being in a funk to get me to where I am now. I am grateful for that. Thank you. This video is a little long and not flashy but I really wanted to share exactly how to make a simple dish like a chef would. No recipe, no plan, no internet. Just a box of local organic ingredients, a warm kitchen, and a little momentum…..

P.S. I am happy to say I have already filmed two more videos and have countless ideas for more so it is true.

Momentum = Motivation.  Just keep making stuff. Thank you Oxbow Farm and Audra Mulkern.

Watch the video by clicking right here and I really hope it motivates you in some way to create a special meal for your family from whatever you have on hand. Cooking is love and love is the true nucleus of any family.

Chef Greg

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