How long have you been a member with Three Sisters CSA Community Farm?
Since 2014. We rent a house together and we cook together, we are a big food family. That's how we got into it and we knew we wanted to do Three Sisters, but we were technically not on the boundary map when they first started. So we sent them a cheeky email and said “Hey we are two sisters and we want to get Three Sisters.”
What part of Southeastern WI do you live in?
We live in Tosa, on the Tosa/Milwaukee border.
What three words or phrases would you use to describe the experience of seasonal eating you have through your CSA share?
We were texting about this already today! We agreed that:
It's personal. We love that we have met Kelly and we've seen Jeff's silhouette dropping off our food. It feels very personal to know who's touching your food.
It's really invigorating for us because we're both plant-based and we have a litany of food sensitivities. We feel the CSA is very life-giving and we wouldn’t have access to it otherwise. And we love to cook.
We feel like it's a privilege because we know that people don't have access to fresh food, and this is literally delivered to our doorstep. We think about climate change and we're worried about it, we want more people to be invested. So many of our friends just don't care where their food comes from. But we want to live a smaller, slower food life and it's hard to do that in this society. It's a lot of work, and Jeff and Kelly are so gracious.
When other people ask you what it’s like to be a CSA member or why you do it, what do you usually say?
E: There is someone who is touching our food and there's that connection to the farm. I love the weekly updates, I love hearing from other CSA members. You can just tell there is so much love that they put into the farm. You don't get that from the grocery store, today you don't even have to go into the grocery store. There's no connection anymore to where your food comes from. I think it used to be part of our American culture to make food and grow something in a garden.
N: I think when people ask me and I tell them about it, they think it's really cool. So I think that hopefully people will do it more. But just be prepared to prep everything!
We are so disappointed now when we eat out because it just doesn't taste as good.
We love to travel, and I feel like the CSA is so hip. Three Sisters especially, if they were in Paris it would be the hottest thing. Kelly and Jeff just grow this amazing food.
What is your favorite CSA food item?
Our favorite vegetable is kohlrabi. We fight over it in our family. When we get the kohlrabi in the CSA box Liz cuts it in exactly in half. It's so satisfying and it's such a good snack. There's a story about Liz, one morning when she was little she went into our garden and pulled out a kohlrabi and brought it to my mom who was still asleep in bed, and said, “Can you cut this kohlrabi for me?”
Yes! We know, we have read the other interviews. So we want to say to Jeff and Kelly - Please don’t get rid of the kohlrabi!!
But we love everything. I love the really early lettuce. And kabocha squash. That was so amazing, it's the number one squash. We roast it and scoop it out and add a little coconut oil and coconut sugar and pop it back in the oven for a bit.
Is there a CSA food item that most confounds or stumps you when it comes to cooking or eating, or used to before you knew what to do with it?
We definitely call our parents hotline if we have a question about something. But I think the only thing that we were slightly confused about was the celeriac. But we did end up using it - my dad said to make stock with it. We love the broccoli but we are so freaked out by the worms! So sometimes we choose the broccoli but then we make our dad or our sister prepare it. You might hear screaming from this house when we are preparing food and we find bugs.
Do you have a “box unpacking ritual” each week? If yes, please describe.
N; Liz takes the produce out of the box and takes a picture for me, and she preps the greens while I'm at work. Then we have a conversation with my dad about how the produce looks and what we got.
Wen we got the extra box of tomatoes our dad helped us cook them. I brought the 18 pounds to Sheboygan. I'm the sous chef – being in the food business he likes to delegate.
How has your family shaped your relationship with food?
Our grandparents owned a bakery, so that was a big part of our identity growing up. Both of our parents cook a lot, they bake a lot. Our dad was the head baker at the American Club in Sheboygan, and European bakery is his specialty. He is also a huge gardener. Our grandmother also had a garden, so we grew up eating a lot of fresh food. Any time we have a family meal there is a discussion about the menu, about what recipe would be used.
We didn't grow up with a lot of money but our food life was phenomenal. There was such a focus on food and how you feel from eating. It's such a great foundation for life, just knowing that food is such an asset. And that it makes you feel so good. We started cooking really early, I think from the age of seven I knew how to make my own vinaigrette.
Our dad is an honorary member of our CSA share. He was obsessed with it the year they shared the phase the moon was in on the planting date. We even ask our dad what we should get in the share some weeks based on what's in the garden.
My dad always makes a menu for everyone's birthday, and it's not like one or two things - it's a whole list of things. That's how he shows his love.
What is your favorite thing about being a member of Three Sisters Community Farm?
I love getting it delivered every week. It's just so nice. It's slightly different every week and it's seasonally appropriate which is so nice. I love the connection back to Kelly and Jeff, just all the stories behind where it comes from. I love getting to know other varieties, there's always a new variety that comes every year so it's never the same. It's kind of exciting.
I love that they will be like “we had extra so everyone's getting more” - but sometimes I think they are too generous.
What we are getting is such a value. You look at the cost per share and you could never get that price at the grocery store. It's unbelievable what we are able to get for that value.
What about being a CSA member is most important to you?
We like Kelly and Jeff, and I like that it's still small and local. It's so personal, and there's such a direct connection to the farmer - that seems so rare these days. It's trendy to say things are farm grown but you don't really know. They are so transparent with what's happening, like this year when the CSA started a week late because of the rain.
I love that it's organic but that's not the most important thing. We already brought up climate change - and they are doing their part with the farm. They are spreading their mission with the work.
What’s the most delicious meal you have had recently?
We were frantically trying to cook dinner before this call, and Liz pulled out one of her 1800 tomato sauces that she cooked down and we made a yummy veggie chill. We cook all the time so we just see what comes with the CSA and what's seasonal. And the purple carrots have been delicious! We used one to make a vinaigrette and it was so pretty.
We just cook all the time. We're trying to introduce our friends to a more plant-based diet without forcing it. So we had a vegan party at our house and spent days making specialty vegan food. People were like, “I would love all this food but I just want you to cook it all.” It was so nice to come together around the food. It wasn’t about pushing anything, it was just about community.
I love green tomatoes, so I made baked green tomato, they are like a friend green tomato with no gluten and no egg.
Did you get those from your dad?
We did. They are so lemony to me, they are so good. Every day our lunch is a salad, so we love when the CSA has so much lettuce.
What’s the strangest thing you have ever eaten?
Naomi: When I was in law school I clerked for a company and I went on a private jet to Amsterdam. We went to a restaurant and we were having a tasting menu. The waiter came out right away and said, “Does everybody eat everything?” I didn’t know about all of my food sensitivities back then, but I said, “I really don't eat a lot of meat.” And the waiter said, “For you we do fish.”
So it proceeded to be like 20 courses of things like eel foam. We get to the dessert courses, and by that point I had been drinking a lot of wine. So we're on dessert course number three, and they bring out a little egg cup. The guy didn't speak a lot of english and I thought he said it was a liquor. So I took it like a shot. And then the guy next to me from the firm was like, “I can't believe you just drank that raw chicken egg from the chicken outside.”
Liz – I had some raw tuna tartare. But I was in NY and with my aunt and uncle and just had to experience it. Wasn't my thing but it’s probably delicious to other people!
We loved eating cold leftovers as kids. We loved eating leftover spaghetti in the morning watching cartoons. Leftover cold marinara was so good. We still love a savory cold left over.
What is your favorite place to have a meal?
We love Europe. But we wouldn't really care if we were eating on a card table in an abandoned building if the food is good. And our family, when we are around good food, we are just obsessed. Our family home in Sheboygan – we all love coming home and having meals there. There's the big beautiful garden and a beautiful maple tree. Just simple perfection.
What is one thing that is bringing joy into your life these days?
Apart from travel, we've been really into hiking especially at Devils' lake. Being outside has been so great this summer.
Concerts, we have a record player in our dining room. We love to come home and put on a record and do our cooking – just small moments of joy.
Last summer we both really got into open water swimming, just like childhood, just jumping into the lake. It doesn't cost any money but it makes you feel so refreshed.
What is one thing that is giving you pause, or reason for concern?
Climate change. It's an emergency and it doesn't seem to worry a lot of people. We are so concerned about what we can do to reduce our waste and our emissions. We know we're not even close to perfect, but we don't understand why other people don't do more.
Also the cycle of food, and how some people have so much food and some have so little. We need more equality in food access and food supply. Liz has students who don't have enough to eat. Why do we have so much and some have so little?
Chard or Kale? Which one and why?
Kale 100%. We like kale the best raw with lime juice, a little olive oil, chili powder, teeny bit of balsamic and kosher sea salt and pepper, and maybe a little honey sometimes. And no massaging – we like the true texture.
Is there anything you would like to share about seasonal eating, local food, CSA membership or anything else related to these topics that you have never had the chance to say?
We're so excited for the fall share!! Hopefully there will be squash, but we're OK with whatever ends up happening.
Simple Stieber Sister Curry
Although this in no *way* compares to the curry we’ve experienced from some lovely kitchens, this is a nice and simple “we’ve got lots of veg and I want something warm and comforting” curry.
Wash, prep, and chop all of your veg (bonus points if they are CSA babies!) - we love carrots, sweet potato, potato, cauliflower, peas, jalapeño, bell pepper, any type of green, onion. The sky is the limit.
Warm a bit of oil (we use safflower) in a pan (we use a Le Creuset cocotte). Add your onion and soften it, if using onion. Then, add the rest of your veg. Add some S&P and a decent amount of curry powder. Let those babies cook for 8-10 minutes or so (use your heart here, per our cooking teachers, Mama and Papa Stieber). Once they are somewhat cooked (potato and carrots won’t be tender at this point, don’t worry), add a can of full fat coconut milk. Now, add Thai red curry paste to your liking (we use over half a jar here but we love) and a bit more curry powder and some S&P. Let this all slowly simmer - don’t boil - but it won’t be ruined either.
Once the carrots and potatoes are tender, serve over rice with whatever toppings you’ve got. We like green onions, chopped peanuts, and of course, a squeeze of fresh lime. Oh, and it’s great with tofu on the side too!
Jeff Schreiber has been farming organically for 10 years. In 2011 he started Three Sisters Community Farm with his wife, Kelly.