During Week 2 of our CSA Challenge, our box arrived overflowing with seasonal beauties. I gasped audibly when I spotted the gorgeous heirloom tomatoes. The veggie moderator invoked a considerable amount of self-control to hold back from skimming a few off the top before anyone noticed. We thought last week's box was nice, but this one upped the ante. Maelynn, our managing editor, suggested we show off our bounty, so we spread it out on a couple of pretty napkins from a prop sale.
Team Carrots, minus one member from the Test Kitchens, assembled in Maelynn's office for their mini-shares. As we did last week, we drew veggie names to keep it random. Here's who got what (team members listed from left to right; see bios below):
Mary Kay: okra, roma tomatoes, eggplant, canteloupe
Susan: heirloom tomatoes (score!), red cabbage, cucumbers
Maelynn: tomatoes, onions, shallots, banana peppers, eggs
Tiffany (see her photo here): bell peppers, summer squash, pole beans
Keep reading for the lowdown on Team Carrots.
Name: Mary Kay Culpepper
Position: Editor in Chief
Cooking experience: I’ve been cooking since roughly the second grade, when I could (finally) begin to read my mother’s cookbooks. Because I’ve been at it so long, I can now cook almost anything. The only exception: I’m lousy at deep frying. Perhaps that’s why I’m at this magazine.
Usually cooks for: My spouse (every day), my extended family (about once a month), and friends (whenever they drop by). Like me, they all love all kinds of foods. And yes, I know I’m lucky.
Likes: One of the things I love most about being in the kitchen is how one thing leads to another. This weekend, for instance, I cooked a batch of black beans and made soup and refritos. I made a quiche. I baked rolls for the week. I grilled fish. I assembled pesto and whisked together some mayo. Tonight, I’ll make a dacquoise with the leftover egg whites. The fun never stops.
Doesn’t like: The fun never stops. On a regular basis, I simply have to put the dish towel down and get out of the kitchen. Time away makes you appreciate the time you spend there.
Name: Susan Roberts
Position: Assistant Copy Chief
Cooking experience: I am not a very experienced cook. Pretty much everything I know about cooking, I learned working here.
Usually cooks for: Normally, just myself. I am not picky (and that's a blessing and a curse). I don't exactly struggle with cooking. I struggle with not going through the drive-through every night!
Likes: About 95% of what I cook involves pasta. I love it, and I can boil water like a pro. I also believe pasta can be as healthy or as indulgent as you want it to be. In the summer, I eat some variation of pasta with fresh tomatoes very often. In winter, I particularly like to make things that are largely hands-off and cook for a long time, like chili, stew, or roast chicken-—things that warm up my apartment and smell wonderful.
Doesn’t like: Taste-wise, I like almost everything (except okra—-it’s a texture thing). I just don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen doing something really complicated.
Name: Maelynn Cheung
Position: Managing Editor
Cooking experience: I consider myself to be an experienced cook, though not particularly skilled. I can pull off just about any technique with the help of how-to videos and step-by-step instructions. I know enough to choose good, fresh ingredients, but will easily grab something frozen, canned, or dried from my own stash to save money or time. If I don’t have something on hand, I can typically find a way to make it work.
Usually cooks for: I usually cook for my son, Cory, and me. Thankfully, he’s not a picky eater, so finding something we both want isn’t difficult.
Likes: Anything that is 1) fast/easy, 2) inexpensive, and 3) easy to clean up. Stir-fries in the wok, one-dish meals, slow-cooker, grilled meats and veggies tend to fit those criteria.
Doesn’t like: Curry, avocado (except in sushi), food that’s work (artichokes, homemade yogurt), tofu.
Name: Tiffany Vickers
Position: Assistant Test Kitchen Director
Cooking experience: I worked in a great small restaurant in Chapel Hill called Crook’s Corner, then went to culinary school at Johnson & Wales in Charleston. While I was there I worked at Magnolia’s and did some catering. For the last 8 1/2 years, I have worked in the test kitchens here at Cooking Light magazine.
Usually cooks for: I cook at work for the editors and other food staff. At home, it’s just me and my fiancee, Stanton. He loves good food so he’s and I together are pretty tough on our own cooking but that makes it more fun to try new things.
Likes: Simplicity, slow food, collard greens, mashed potatoes, pot roast, root vegetables, raw fresh green beans, cheese plates, real butter and sugar, bloody mary with homemade mix, olives, and cured meats.
Doesn’t like: Cantaloupe or honeydew melons. I want to like them, but I can’t. Anything recipe that includes the term “scented” -- it just bugs me. Overly arty food, like foie gras sorbet (I really had this once!). If it’s not the food at its best, I don’t want it.