Thursday, June 26, 2008

Week Four; June 25, 2008

We had higher hopes for this week but a lot of our May seedings never germinated because the weather was so cool and dry. In all, however, it didn’t turn out so bad. And June has been a different story. All of the great stuff that comes in next month and in August is growing beautifully because we’ve had so much rain. You can see some pics of the fields in tomorrow’s Farm to Fork blog posting at Fine Cooking’s web site:
It talks a little about how May’s weather affected us, and how, for now, we’re busy keeping the weeds at bay.

In this week’s share:

  • 1 bunch of fresh onions –use all of it, from the whites to the green tops
  • 1 pound sugar snap peas
  • 2 heads of lettuce
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • ¾ pound broccoli
  • garlic scapes –chop and use as you would garlic; it’s especially good fresh in a salad, be it a green salad (see below), potato, egg or pasta

Recipe from Maryellen Driscoll at Free Bird Farm:
I tend to make all of my salad dressings. This is one I make for Romaine lettuce. It’s a riff on Caesar Salad dressing but lighter and with a little more zing. Minced scapes would also work well in this salad.

Juice from ½ of a lemon
1 tablespoon sour cream or mayonnaise
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
dash of Tabasco
2 teaspoons coarsely chopped capers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 to 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the lemon juice, sour cream or mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and capers. While constantly whisking, slowly pour in the olive oil to blend. Taste and add more olive oil if the dressing tastes too acidic. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.

Drizzle half of the dressing over a bowl of romaine lettuce leaves (large leaves cut into thirds or quartered). Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese (preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano). Toss. Taste. Add more dressing if needed. Toss again. Serve with croutons (see note below).

I also like to make my own croutons. In our house, we’re kind of hooked on Heidelberg’s French Peasant loaf. It makes great toast, works for a substantial sandwich as well as good old peanut butter and jelly, and the ends of the loaf make great, crispy croutons. I usually just cut a couple of slices into squares, pile in a cast-iron skillet, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, toss, and then gently toast over medium-low heat. Turn pieces once golden brown and continue cooking until both sides are crisped and golden brown.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Week Three; June 18, 2008

In this week's share...
  • 1 head Romaine
  • 1 head of Escarole (don't confuse this with lettuce; it looks similar to romaine, but the romaine is more cupped and its leaves more oval in shape. If you're really unsure, just taste each. Romaine will taste like, well, lettuce while the escarole will have a bitter taste.)
  • 1 bunch of Cilantro
  • 1 bunch of Green Onions (edible to the very tops)
  • 1 head of Red Leaf Lettuce
  • 1 quart of sugar snap peas (eat fresh--my 3-year-old will even eat them like this; they're that sweet; or cook just briefly; don't shell)
  • 1/2 pound of cooking spinach


Friday, June 20, 2008

Week Two; June 11, 2008

In this week's share…

About the spinach: The spinach is larger this week, and, thus, better suited to cooking; still, it just needs a brief wilting if you want to make a quick sauté. Here’s how I do it: After washing, I gently shake my spinach dry so that it’s still a bit wet (or give it a gentle spin in a salad spinner). Then I preheat a sauté pan or skillet over medium to medium-high heat with a tablespoon or so of extra-virgin olive oil (a neutral-flavored oil like safflower or canola would work too) and add the spinach (not all of it at once; do this in batches). The water on the spinach will cause some “popping” when it comes into contact with the hot oil, but the greens tend to smother any splattering. Once they’ve begun to wilt, I just gently turn over with tongs until all of the spinach has wilted but is still bright green and has some body to it. I then season with salt and pepper and remove from the pan. Then onto another batch usually. It’s yummy with minced dried apricots, toasted pine nuts and sautéed, minced garlic. Or ask Jeannine Bohler how the spinach and cheese squares she was planning to make with her 5-year-old turned out. They sounded tempting and simple enough to make with kids. About the escarole: For a quick preparation, you can cut leaves into large pieces (2” wide strips) and wilt in a similar fashion to the spinach (above). Toss at the end with a few splashes of vinegar. Balsamic or red vinegar work well. Escarole has a nutty essence that makes it conducive to pairing with toasted walnuts and, if you like, a crumbled blue cheese. Now that it's not so hot out, I'm thinking about using the escarole to make this spicy sausage, escarole and white bean stew: This escarole and white bean stew with rustic croutons is also tempting and can work for vegetarians provided you subsitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth:

Week One; June 4, 2008

In this week's share...

Just wanted to give you a quick rundown as to what was in this week's share as well as some very quick cooking quick tips.

  • 1/2 lb. arugula (great for salads or briefly wilted in extra-virgin olive oil as a side dish or in pasta)
  • 1/2 lb. spinach-- young and tender enough that it's great in salad or on a sandwich; if you cook it, cook it briefly, in olive oil and when still a little wet so that it just barely wilts
  • 1/2 lb. salad mix-- these are mixed lettuce leaves; different from mesclun mix, which has some other greens with a little more bite to them; if you have a salad spinner, wash and spin this out and store in your refrigerator in the spinner. They'll easily hold up through the week--if you don't eat them sooner. a.. bunch of "green" or "spring" garlic-- I've actually written something on this which will post tomorrow (Friday) on Fine Cooking magazine's web site. They have a new blog feature called Farm to Fork that I've been asked to contribute to weekly. How could I say no? Last week I wrote a little something about our eggs.The link:


Welcome everyone! My name is Monica Swift and I am setting up this blog so that all of us who have joined Free Bird Farm's CSA this year can have a place to share how we are using our fresh summer produce. Each week I will post the list of produce we received as well as any additional information Maryellen sends along. This will basically be a posting of what we have been receiving in email format. After each post, you will see a 'comments' button. Everyone can leave their own comments for our group as to how we used the produce. Recipes, tips, and general comments are all encouraged. For example, I used my first head of escarole in the sausage, white bean, and escarole soup that Maryellen included in our first email and it was fantastic. I look forward to hearing from everyone all summer long!