Friday, October 30, 2009

Week 22

Indeed, this is the last week of our CSA season. We don't consider membership to a CSA suited for everyone, but we hope nonetheless that everyone took something positive away from the experience—whether it meant you found yourself eating healthier, were inspired to cook new things, or simply enjoyed having an abundance of produce picked-that-day fresh. We try hard to provide great shares week after week and hope that, in general, we succeeded. It was a hard growing season, as any of you who keep a garden would know.
Expect soon a year-in-review letter from the farm. We'd like to share with you thoughts on how we would have liked to do better (i.e. more winter squash), why we we may have been short on certain things (aka historically disastrous summer weather), as well how we hope to do some things differently next year. We'll also include a short survey so that we can find out from you what you really liked, what you could live without or would like to see us do differently. Your feedback really counts.

Meantime, this week’s share included:
½ pound spinach
2 pounds potatoes
1 quart Brussels sprouts
1 large yellow onion
1 bunch Toscano kale
1 head of read leaf lettuce
1 bunch leeks
1 bunch parsley
3 green bell peppers (see note below)
1 green cabbage (see storage note below)
1 pound garlic (see storage note below)

Bell peppers. Lately, for every pepper we slice or dice for dinner (or for a morning omelet), we chop one or two extra, slip it into a zipper-sealed bag and stash in the freezer. It’s a nice ingredient to have on hand through winter.

Cabbage. Don't feel like you have to use your cabbage this week. Or next week. Or the next. Cabbage has incredible staying power when stored in the fridge. At some point, however, you might want to use it to try Molly Stevens’ recipe for Braised Cabbage with Maple and Ginger (don’t worry that it calls for red cabbage; use your green one). After trying this recipe, you may feel compelled to seek out her book All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking, which includes this recipe. This cookbook was recently included in the Village Voice's list of “Our 10 Best: Cookbooks" and has won awards from the esteemed James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Garlic. Unlike the garlic you get at the supermarket (often grown in China), our garlic keeps. So tuck it somewhere dark, dry and cool (not in the refrigerator). If you don't use it all beforehand, it will last until next May or even June—around when fresh garlic starts to appear in the following year's shares.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Reminder: One more week left in the CSA season

In this week's share:
2 pounds potatoes
1 quart Brussels sprouts
2 bulbs garlic
1 head of red leaf lettuce
1 large head of bok choy
1 bunch kale
1 onion
1 bunch radish
1 bag mixed peppers
2 delicata or sweet dumpling squash

Re: peppers.
At a farmers' market last week a customer bought half a dozen peppers. Her friend looked stumped, then proceeded to ask what she planned to do with all those peppers. The reply: "I slice them up and eat them for lunch." The friend then grabbed 5 as well. It was a good reminder that these peppers are crispy and sweet enough to enjoy raw; nothing like the thick, leathery peppers with half the bright flavor we often find at the grocery store.
If you haven't been able to make your way through the last 2 weeks' worth of peppers quite so efficiently, chop and freeze them. There's no need to blanch or parcook. Just chop and seal in a freezer bag. Pull them out this winter when making a stir fry, pasta sauce, homemade pizza, among many other possibilities. Or if you've got the time and inclination, roast the peppers and then freeze them.
Week 20

In this week's share:

1 bag of mixed peppers
1 head of lettuce
1 head of escarole (not to be confused with lettuce)
1 pound of green beans
1 bunch radish
1 onion
2 bulbs garlic
1/2 pound spinach
1 bunch collard greens
1 large or 2 small tomatoes (from a late crop planted in our greenhouse)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Week 19

We’ve 3 more weeks to the season (22 in all). That means the last week in october is the final week of the CSA season. :(
We included a number of late-summer type crops with you this week that you are not apt to see again (i.e. eggplant, peppers)—especially if we end up with some snow in the next week. We’ve yet to have a frost on the farm, but last we checked there was snow in the forecast.

We’ve got covers over vulnerable greens hoping that they’ll stay protected. But a lot of our hearty end-of-the-season plantings, such as cauliflower and broccoli, which should hold up to a frost, still very much need some sun to grow. Yes, that ever-elusive thing we call sun…

In this week’s share:
1 head of Romaine lettuce
1 head of bok choy
1 bunch of Swiss chard
2 Beatrice Italian eggplants (see cooking tip below)
Bag of spinach
1 cabbage (don’t feel pressed to use this too soon; it will hold for a few weeks in your refrigerator)
1 bunch carrots
3 green peppers—easy to chop & freeze for the winter!
1 bulb of garlic
1 bag of arugula

Getting your vegetables through a CSA often requires you be able to cook on the fly with what you have been given. That's not always so easy. So we try to help you with that when we can. Take eggplant. That’s not exactly a vegetable most people grab for when they need a quick-fix vegetable side. That is, not unless you’ve roasted eggplant. It’s effortless and delicious. Try this recipe:

Something we often do with eggplant is grill it. To grill: slice the eggplant into ¼- to ½-inch thick discs, brush generously with olive oil, season with Kosher salt and grill over medium heat until golden brown on each side. For a simple dinner, we often then halve or quarter the grilled eggplant slices and toss with pasta, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, chopped olives or capers and a little reserved cooking water from the pasta and some extra-virgin olive oil so that the pasta isn’t too dry. For some protein we sometimes add white beans. A minced fresh herb, such as basil, rosemary, oregano or chives, is terrific but not necessary. Serve with grated parmigiano reggiano or crumbled goat cheese.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Week 18

Let's hope this week's November-like stretch of cold is a precursor to one loooong Indian summer. We've so many beautiful fall crops, but they need sun to grow and come to fruition.

Here is what's in this week’s share:
1 butternut squash
1 bunch radish
1 pound Brussels sprouts
2 pounds potatoes
1 bunch parsley
2 heads lettuce
1 bunch curly-leaf kale
1 bulb garlic
1 pound green beans
1 red onion

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Week 17

In this week’s share:
Bunched fresh red onions
1 bunch kale
1 bunch leeks
7 ounces salad mix
7 ounces spicy greens mix (mesclun)
1 lb. green beans
3 green bell peppers
1 bunch beets

Beets. Don't like 'em? Then maybe you haven't tried them roasted:

1 bunch beets, trimmed, peeled*, and cut into 3/4- to 1-inch-thick wedges
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Lemon juice, optional

Heat the oven to 450° F. On a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet, mound the sliced beets in the middle and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat generously. Sprinkle with salt and a few grinds of pepper, and toss again. Evenly spread the beets cut side down in a single layer across the baking sheet.

Roast until they've begun to brown (or turn a darker red) on their undersides, 15 to 20 minutes. Flip and roast until tender, about 15 minutes more.

Transfer the beets to a serving bowl. Season to taste with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. You can also add a squirt of lemon juice or toss with a balsamic vinaigrette and top with crumbled goat cheese.

*If you're short on time or big on shortcuts, you can skip the step of peeling the beets. After roasting, the skins will have loosened and will slip right off on your plate with the help of a fork.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Week 16

There was a point this season that we weren’t sure we’d get a corn crop. With all the rain and lack of sun the stalks just sat there through July and most of August, not growing. Then, suddenly, they shot off. Our 4-year-old daughter, seen here in perfect fairy form planting her giant pumpkin plants this spring, seems to have an eagle eye for such details and noticed this like a typical kid would notice a new display of balls at the local supermarket. “The corn has taken off!” she exclaimed. Indeed, it did. We planted 2 varieties with different growth cycles—one needing more time to grow than the other—so we’d have a few weeks worth of corn to harvest. Unfortunately, because the plants’ growth was so out of whack, they ripened simultaneously. This happened with a few crops we planted at different times; they matured at the same time because of this year’s poor growing weather. So this season's corn harvest will be a short-lived one. Here and, sadly, gone. Any leftover ears from dinner this week we’ve been slicing and freezing to make Ajiaco, a flavorful Colombian chicken soup we often crave (but just don’t have time to tackle this week!).

In this week’s share:
1 head of Pac Choi (also known as Bok Choy)
1 pound Brussels Sprouts
1 pound Yellow Wax Beans
2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes
1 yellow onion
10-11 ears sweet corn
1 large Italian eggplant
1 head of Romaine lettuce
7 ounces salad mix

Pac Choi. Like the classic, white-stemmed pac choi (also known as bok choy or pak choi), the beautiful, green-stemmed version we grew this year, called Black Summer, is well suited to stir fries and Asian-flavored soups. If you’re stir frying, you’ll want to slice the thicker stem end of the leaves and cook separately from the leaves since they need more time to cook. Or, similarly, start stir-frying the stems and shortly before their being done, stir in the sliced or chopped leafy part, which should wilt pretty much immediately.

Brussels Sprouts. In our minds, brussels sprouts are a lot like beets. You need to know how to cook them to love them. Like beets, our favorite way to prepare them is to roast them. It brings out a nutty flavor that you may never have known Brussels sprouts to have if all you’ve done is steam them. You can simply toss in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast as is. Or you may like to branch out with this recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Dijon, Walnuts & Crisp Crumbs by our friend Martha Holmberg, who is the editor of the food section at the Portland Oregonian and former editor of Fine Cooking magazine. This recipe for Creamy Brussels Sprout Gratin is a little more decadent but surprisingly simple to make.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Week 15

In this week’s share:
1 honeydew melon
1 bunch carrots
1 large green pepper
1 head of broccoli
1 pound green beans
1 bag of arugula
1 bunch of leeks
1 pound shallots
1 cooking onion (cured; will hold in pantry)

One of our members splits her share with her adult daughter who lives and works about 50 minutes away. She recently told us how her daughter travels to her house every Wednesday night so that they can cook a meal together from their share. Then they have fun figuring out how to divvy the rest. We LOVE hearing these stories: how our food brings people together, challenges people to cook something new or with greater spontaneity, provides them fresh, organic ingredients they can't find in the stores, inspires their kids to eat more healthy... Thanks to everyone who shares these tidbits with us. They go a long way.

There are no great mysteries to the ingredients in your share this week. Lots of fresh, practical produce we hope you will enjoy. If you have potatoes left over from last week, it's feeling like just the right weather for some leek and potato soup.

Before slicing into your melon, make sure it is truly ripe. It should give a little when you press into the dimple end with your thumb. If it feels too firm, let it sit on your countertop for a few days until it reaches proper ripeness.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Week 14

In this week’s share:
1 honeydew melon
1 pint sungold cherry tomatoes
2-3 sweet Italian red peppers
1 bunch carrots or beets
2 pounds red potatoes
1 pound edamame (see last week’s share info.)
2 or 3 bulbs of garlic
1-2 mild cured onions
Bag of mixed young salad greens
1 bunch radish
1 bunch swiss chard

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Week 13

In this week’s share:


purple cauliflower (tastes great and holds its gorgeous color when cooked)

1 lb. fresh edamame (see cooking info. below)

2 to 3 tomatoes

8-ounce bag of spinach (not baby in size but tender enough for eating in salads)

1 lb. green beans

2 jalapenos

1 bunch carrots

2 red onions

It’s hard to believe this is our last August share. Where did the summer go? Oh right, we hardly had one(!). Here’s a photo (above) of Ken (right) and our go-to staffer Karl (left) setting up to plant some fall crops in the field. Karl came here from Asheville, NC, to work a season on the farm with us. Some of you have met him. He’s great. Hard working, personable, and lots of fun.

Edamame. Pronounced like eh-dah-mah-may. That would be the name for the small, fuzzy pods with flat, nutty-tasting beans you're seeing for the first time this season in your weekly share. This link: sums up well how to cook and serve. Our kids chant this fresh soy bean's name when we serve it for dinner. Finger food. Very simple, very tasty.

Tomatoes. Somehow our failing tomato plants are still producing some but an ever-dwindling crop of tomatoes. See last week’s blog for information on how we were affected by this year’s late blight.

Crop report. There’s a frost warning tonight in an area of the Adirondacks about an hour north of us. Any mumblings of this “f” word, let alone in August, make us shudder.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Week 12

In this week’s share:
3 tomatoes
1 large, round Italian eggplant
1 cucumber
1 bag of salad mix
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
¼ pound arugula
1 walla walla sweet onion
1 bunch of parsley
1 bunch of carrots
1 ½ pounds Italian heirloom fresh shell beans (see tips below for cooking and storing)
1 head of broccoli
1 bunch of leeks

We have a CSA member who periodically e-mails us with descriptions of some of the dinners she puts together through the week using her share. It’s inspiring to read about the healthy dinners she is serving to her family of four. And it’s rewarding to see how her CSA share has inspired her to make the most of what comes from the farm. She tells us that this is something she especially enjoys about the CSA: it forces her out of cooking the same thing over and over again.

On the farm, we too can fall into the trap of cooking the same thing over and over again (especially when everyone is working such long hours this time of year). So we glean a lot from talking to (or e-mailing with) CSA members and farmers’ market customers, some of whom are truly accomplished cooks (domestic and professional). This can be especially useful with less obvious ingredients like the colorful Italian heirloom fresh shell beans in this week’s share, pictured above.

We’ve heard from a number of people that they use them for succotash. One farmers market customer planned to use them to make minestrone soup. One chef—confit. We use the beans as many ways as we can think of, as we love their creamy texture and nutty flavor. They’re great in a pasta dish.

Using ingredients from this week’s share, here is one suggestion for using the beans:

Penne with Caramelized Walla Walla Onions, Fresh Shell Beans and Tomato.
We’ll try to flesh out a specific recipe for the future, but, in short, caramelize sliced onion in extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat until deeply golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside. Dice tomato and sauté briefly in a few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat adding minced garlic towards the end. Toss the penne with the tomatoes, onion, and beans—adding a little more olive oil if needed. Season to taste with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and serve with shaved parmigiano reggiano. Some capers would be nice too. Or, even better, stir in some pesto if you have any made from the basil you’ve been getting in the past weeks’ shares.
(For more detailed instructions on how to caramelize the onions, see this recipe for Caramelized Onion Cheeseburgers. You might be tempted to try this recipe too. It calls for both the Walla Wallas and arugula in this week's share.)

The beans would also be great on a grilled pizza with (from this week’s share): arugula, caramelized onion and goat cheese.

Or freeze them. Cook, following instructions below, and freeze in zipper-lock freezer-grade bags to use in soups or stews this winter.

How to Cook Fresh Shell Beans
Shell the beans, discarding the pods. (If you have kids, recruit their help with shelling.)
Cover the colorfully mottled beans in chicken broth or water with a handful of added aromatics—such as (from your share) some leeks, carrot, parsley stems (save the leaves and just add the flavorful stems), and a bay leaf. Either keep the aromatics in large enough pieces that you can easily fish out or bundle in cheesecloth. Bring the water or broth to a boil, and then reduce to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender (30 to 45 minutes; taste to check for doneness). Sadly, the beans will lose their color and mottling as they cook. Drain in a colander.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Week 11

In this week’s share:
3 tomatoes
2 pounds red potatoes
1 head of broccoli
1 bunch of swiss chard (see cooking tips below)
1 bunch of carrots
1 bag of salad mix
1 pound of green beans
2 large onions
1 bulb of garlic

(green bean harvest at right)

Crop Report: Late Blight
In the 10 years we’ve owned our farm, we’ve never experienced weather quite like we’ve had this summer. When July had passed, it was somehow consoling to hear the media report that there had not been a July this cool since some time in the early 1800s. We knew it was bad, but, in fact, it was historically so. With such cool, wet temperatures, we also knew it wasn’t going to be a great year for tomatoes. But, instead, it’s been a disastrous year. The cause: late blight introduced to the Northeast through starter tomato plants imported from the South and sold in stores like Home Depot and WalMart to aspiring home gardeners.
Sadly, our farm has not been immune to the effects of this airborne plant disease. This week we had an agent from Cornell Cooperative Extension come out to our farm to confirm that both our tomato crop and potato crop had been affected by last blight (note: it is not harmful to humans). What this means for CSA members, is that what tomatoes we’re able to share in this year’s CSA season is severely limited and will be short lived. This is pretty disappointing for us to report. We grow more than a dozen varieties of tomatoes (including heirlooms) and put a great deal of time into preparing for this crop—pounding thousands of stakes into the ground, pruning the plants, tying them to the stakes as they grow. Not to mention, since we also sell our produce at farmers’ markets, it’s a significant income loss for our family.
That said, we’re not ones to bellyache or give up. We took a chance weeks ago planting some broccoli plants on the late side, and, thanks to this summer’s lack of heat, we have a gorgeous broccoli crop in the middle of August. And weeks ago, when it started to look like we just weren’t going to get much heat this summer, we compensated by planting crops that do well in cooler times (radish, peas, greens). So, we can at least breathe a sigh of relief that each week’s share has still been abundant.

If you’re interested in learning more about late blight, there was a terrific op-ed this week in the New York Times: You Say Tomato, I Say Agricultural Disaster.

On a lighter note...Swiss Chard. For quick use of this leafy, nutrient-rich green, we like to sauté it. Here’s an excellent recipe for the basic technique of how to sauté swiss chard as well as a host of ideas on how to embellish. If you’re looking for a recipe suited to more of a special occasion, this Creamy Parmesan Swiss Chard Gratin is decadent.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Week 10

In this week’s share:
1 lb. green beans
½ lb. mix baby lettuce greens
3 cucumbers
1 bunch of carrots (standard, purple or Parmex—a stubby, Parisian market variety suited to freezing.)
1 bulb of garlic
1 Walla Walla large, sweet onion
3 to 4 tomatoes
Patty pan squash
1 bunch beets
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch basil

Green beans. These are so fresh, there’s little you have to do to make these taste great. We usually cook them in a large skillet with a few tablespoons of butter or extra-virgin olive oil and a small amount of water (about 3 tablespoons) over medium-high heat. When the water comes to a boil, cover the pan for just a couple of minutes to steam-cook the beans ever so slightly (they’ll turn bright green). Remove the lid, toss with tongs and let the remaining water cook off. Tossing periodically with tongs to cook the beans evenly and coat with the melted butter or oil. Remove from the heat once crisp tender. Season with a large pinch of Kosher salt and serve.

Cilantro. We liked this recipe for cilantro coconut rice that one of our members shared with us last year (feel free to share recipes in the comment section of this blog!).

Another member shared with us how she kids manages to get a lot of our vegetables into her kids and spouse by making spring rolls—grating or slicing into fine julienne carrots, yellow zucchini, cabbage, and/or cucumbers and wrapping in rice paper. You can add shrimp or tofu as well as your cilantro or basil. A sweet-and-sour-type dipping sauce sweetens the package deal. (Recipes anyone?)

What to do with all those cucumbers. Snack! Also, we just made this homemade falafel with tomato and cucumber salad. It was a hit with lunch guests and really simple. You can also make a Thai-style cucumber salad and served with grilled satay. Or if you like the idea of Thai food but can’t find all the ingredients for satay, this Grilled Thai Chicken is simple and so delicious. We try to cook this at least once every summer.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Week 9

In this week’s share:

1 pound yellow wax beans

6-ounces arugula

1 Napa cabbage

1 head of red Romaine lettuce

Tomatoes (1 or 2 depending on size)

1 bunch of basil

1 12-ounce bag of snow peas

2 large red onions with green tops

Garlic (see storage tips below)

There are a number of items in this week’s share that can combine nicely. Below is an adaptation of a recipe for Green Bean Salad with Tomatoes, Arugula & Basil Dressing that Maryellen developed for a Fine Cooking magazine last summer. It makes use of the yellow beans, arugula, tomatoes, basil and onion tops in this week’s share.

This recipe for Hoisin Pork with Napa Cabbage (click on recipe name to connect to link) is a nice week-night stir fry. Kids are apt to like this one. Instead of using red bell pepper, as the recipe suggests, you can throw in some of your snow peas. And finely slice some of the green tops on your red onions in place of the chives. Or if you’d like to make use of your snow peas on their own, here’s another tempting stir-fry recipe: Sesame Chicken with Ginger and Snow Peas. To be truthful, we can’t say we’ve tried either of these recipes. But we’ve known author Tony Rosenfeld for many years. He’s a gifted cook, and writes recipes that work for real people living real (busy) lives. So we feel pretty comfortable recommending these two recipes.

We’re big on garlic. It finds its way into our dinners pretty much every night. So, to us, a bulb a week doesn’t seem over the top. If you’re not using up your garlic that fast, however, take heed. So long as you store it in a relatively cool (but not refrigerated), dry location and out of the sun, it will hold up for a good long while (unlike the garlic you’ll find in the supermarkets that typically comes from China). And if you feel like using up a bunch, here’s yet another Tony Rosenfeld recipe for slow-cooking garlic in extra virgin olive oil. It tempers and sweetens the garlic’s flavor and results in a creamy texture—much like roasted garlic. Only, you don’t have the sticky mess of squeezing cloves out of the skins, and you end up with a garlic-infused oil with which you can cook or use to make salad dressings. Spread the garlic and oil on a slice of a crusty bread and top with sliced tomato and basil (from your share), some goat cheese if you like too. It makes a simple appetizer or side to a salad. Slow-cooked garlic is a natural in pasta dishes. Use for a pizza topping. And if you still can’t use it up within a week’s time, put it in an airtight container and freeze for later use. We often make a double batch. It’s that good.

Yellow Wax Bean Salad with Tomatoes, Arugula & Basil Dressing

Serves four.

1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves

1 small strip lemon zest, about 3 inches long and 1/2-inch wide, white pith removed

3 tablespoons cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbs. kosher salt; more to taste

1 lb. fresh yellow wax beans, trimmed (long ones snapped in half)

1 cup arugula, rinsed and spun dry

1 tomato chopped into ½-inch pieces

¾ cups (5 oz.)1-inch-wide fresh mozzarella balls (ciliegine), halved

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice; more to taste

Fill a large (8 qt.) stockpot ½ full of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Put the basil and lemon zest in a medium-to-large sieve, immerse it in the boiling water and blanch for 5 seconds. Remove, tapping the sieve over the sink to shake off excess water. Turn off the burner but leave the water in the pot with the cover on. Roughly chop the lemon zest. Put the basil and lemon zest in a blender and pulse a few times to chop the leaves. With the blender running, pour the olive oil through the lid’s fill hole and process for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the blender and continue to purée until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds more. Transfer to a small dish or liquid measuring cup, and cover. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the salad.

Return the water to a boil over high heat. Remove the cover and add the salt and then the beans. Cook until the beans are crisp-tender or fully tender, depending on your preference, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Spread the beans on a large rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate to cool completely. If making more than an hour ahead, cover with plastic wrap.

In a large bowl, combine the cooled beans with the arugula, tomatoes, and mozzarella. Drizzle with the basil oil and the lemon juice. Toss with tongs. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more lemon juice.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Week 8

This past week our green beans were prepared by American Hotel chef Lee Wolver for an upcoming Rachel Ray segment on the Food Network. Lee uses a lot of our produce as well as our chicken in his menu. If you haven't been to the American Hotel in Sharon Springs (or haven't been lately), now is a beautiful time of year to check it out. Well, any time of year it's a really pleasant place to dine.

Walla Walla Sweet onions have arrived. These big, bulbous onions make us smile. They have a nice balance of bright sweet flavor and zesty onion bite when served raw, be it in a green or pasta salad or a sandwich. Sliced thick, they brown beautifully on the grill. Sliced thin and slowly cooked over medium to medium-low heat in olive oil and/or butter (stir occasionally), they melt down into a perfect portion of caramelized onions. Ideal in a pasta dish or bruschetta. These are very juicy, fresh onions not meant for on-the-counter or cupboard storage. Keep in your fridge.

Farm report.
This is a busy week. We're in the throes of squeezing a pretty giant garlic harvest in along with everything else we're trying to normally do in a week. So everyone is working straight out. No days off. Dinners late. Everyone stinking of, aaaah, garlic. And the crop looks great.

In this week’s share:
1 pound of green beans
1 big Walla Walla onion (refrigerate; for more info., see above)
1 bunch of parsley
1 bunch of Swiss chard
1 bulb of garlic
Green cabbage
½ pound of salad mix
Cauliflower—purple or white
1 head of escarole (not to be confused with lettuce)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

CSA Share Week 7

On Sugar Snap Peas
As you may have noticed, we care a lot about quality. At a farmers’ market last week, Maryellen just didn’t have the heart to sell the salad mix that was harvested for that day. It just wasn’t looking as good as it should. Now salad mix is a popular item at our markets, and farmers’ markets are an important means for supporting our farm, but, to us, that’s all the more reason not to sell something that doesn’t meet our standards.

So it felt a bit strange this week, packing up sugar snap peas for the CSA shares knowing that, because the pea plants were at the end of their life cycle, some of the peas were showing their age, with less-than-smooth shells and some with “rust”—little dark spots you’ll sometimes see on mature green beans too. In this situation, however, we urge you to look beyond any cosmetic imperfections and taste. These peas are delightfully sweet and snappy and meant to be enjoyed just as they are, fresh and whole. It would be a shame to let them go past in the field.

Of course, we gave you a heaping pile, so if you would rather, they can be shelled. Some children prefer to eat them this way, including our food-fussy toddler. It requires some effort, of course. We peel open the pod, “ooh” and “ahh” over what’s inside--how many peas there are, how big and plump they look, …. and he pops them into his mouth while we eat the sweet leftover pods. Our 4-year-old daughter, who likes to go out to the sugar snap pea crop after dinner for “dessert,” gets in on the game too and inevitably adds an element of sibling rivalry—who can find the most peas in a pod.

Crop Report

With all this remarkably cool, wet weather we’ve had this summer, many of our plants simply aren’t progressing as usual. Usually we’ve heaps of green beans and the beginning of our tomato crop coming in at this point in the season. The plants are standing, they’re just in need of some sun and heat to progress. Hopefully they’ll both be part of your share soon.

In this week’s share:

1 bunch of leeks

1 bunch of purple carrots

1 big head of broccoli

1 large bag of mesclun mix

1 head of garlic (okay to leave out and cure on countertop at this stage)

1 bunch of radish

Mixture of patty pan squash, zucchini, and yellow summer squash

Heaping quart of sugar snap peas

1 bunch of green onions (store in the refrigerator)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

CSA Share Week 6

We’re so glad to be seeing those purple carrots. We think they’re pretty amazing. If anything, we love that our 4-year-old daughter eats them like they’re candy. Now if only our toddler would take after her that way. This variety, called Purple Haze, has more carrot taste than just about any other carrot we’ve eaten. Certainly, it beats the woody, flavorless ones we too often encounter in stores. They’re terrific as a fresh snack, but we also love to roast them as it concentrates their sweet flavor. Before roasting, wash the carrots but don’t bother peeling. Toss with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in a 425° F oven on a baking sheet with raised edges until they feel tender when skewered with a fork, 25 to 30 minutes. About halfway through cooking, do shake the baking pan back and forth so that the golden undersides of the carrots roll to face upwards.

In this week’s share:
1 bunch purple basil (see storage tip below)
1 head of Romaine lettuce
1 red cabbage (see recipe ideas below)
1 bunch of green onions (make use of the fresh, green tops!)
5 zucchini
1 head of garlic (you can let “cure” on the countertop--out of direct sun—for longer storage)
1 bunch of beets
1 bunch of purple carrots

Basil is delicate and quick to go by. Store it in your fridge, stem side down in a cup with a little water. Tent the leafy tops with a plastic bag to protect from the refrigerator’s cold air.

We know cabbage is the kind of thing some people can’t get enough of and others don’t know what to do with (or just don’t like). Here are a couple of recipes that might convert the latter camp.

Red Leaf & Cabbage Salad with Grilled Tarragon Chicken
If you have red leaf lettuce left over from last week, that’s what this recipe calls for. Otherwise, substitute with this week’s Romaine. And don’t hesitate to substitute the fresh tarragon for this week’s basil or last week’s parsley, if you still have that on hand. Don’t bother buying a shallot. Use the white bulb part of one of your smaller green onions.

Grilled Red and Green Cabbage Slaw
Grilled cabbage? Why not! Doesn’t everything taste better on the grill? And you get to make use of your green onions too.
Here are some tips on how to get around buying ingredients you might not have for this recipe:
Substitute basil or parsley for the tarragon;
Use all red cabbage (no need to go buy yourself a green head);
Also, don’t feel like you need tarragon vinegar. A red or white vinegar, even balsamic, can make a fine substitute.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

At right: Colorado Potato Beetles Attack (read below how we fight back, one bug at a time)

CSA Share Week 5

NEWS: We’re Now Certified Organic!
Weeks after our farm inspection, we’ve finally received notice: we’re officially Certified Organic. We appreciate the number of people who encouraged us to do this because they believed in us, knew we were in this for the long haul, and believed the benefits of being certified would outweigh the work (and cost) involved in being certified. But what really inspired us to move forward on this was the ongoing frustration of knowing we followed all the rules but legally could not call ourselves “organic.” The certifying process was challenging, as expected. We started as early as January. Ken spent a day at a winter workshop going over all the ins and outs of the application and then spent hours filling out paperwork, which included a 15-page application addendum just to be able to package our salad mixes in labeled, sealed containers. But the paper work involved with being certified organic pales to the physical work that truly distinguishes us from conventional growers. Case in point: Colorado potato beetles (see pic above). They’re all over our potato crop. But instead of spraying them with a chemical pesticide, we hand pick them one by one. Or if there’s a good cluster of them, you can brush them off as a bunch into a container. Left to their devices, these bugs will at the very least affect a crop’s yield. At worse, they’ll kill the crop. This year they’re pretty bad. If not for the tireless efforts of a few people over the course of nearly two days this past week, our potato crop would likely have been ruined. Okay, the two days of work also involved hand weeding as they went along too—yet another difference between organic growing practices and conventional. We simply don’t use chemicals to kill weeds. The list of differentiations could go on, but it seemed fitting that we receive our approval the week we’re hand picking bugs from the field.

Rain, rain go away…
Many people are asking if all this rain is becoming a problem on our farm. Yes, it is. The ground is too wet to prepare seed beds. So we can’t directly seed into beds for new crops, and plants long ready to be moved out of the greenhouse and into the field are overdeveloping in their pots for lack of prepared beds to plant into. Of course, all this rain and lack of sun isn’t so great for what’s in the fields either. Certain crops become vulnerable to disease (last year this is what seriously compromised our tomato crop), and many simply don’t progress without much-needed sun. Bees don’t like all this rain either. So they’re not out helping to pollinate important crops like green beans, squash, cucumbers and melons.

Despite all this cool, wet weather, we did manage to pull together a nice, big share for the holiday weekend:
· 1 bunch of swiss chard
· 1 big head of red lettuce
· 1 bulb of fresh garlic
· Quart of snap peas
· A few zucchini
· A few yellow summer squash
· 1 head of broccoli
· 1 bunch of radish
· 1 bunch of spring onions
· 1 bunch of carrots—the first of the season
· 1 bunch parsley

As bountiful as this might seem, you can easily work through half your share in a meal. For example, this is what we had for dinner the other night: penne with grilled onions, zucchini (or summer squash), chard with olives and goat cheese (feta or shaved parmigiano reggiano would work well too). Then we had a big salad on the side.
This isn’t exactly a recipe, but here’s some general info. on how this was prepared: thinly slice ¼ head of garlic (see instrux below) and gently simmer in extra-virgin olive oil over medium-low heat until fragrant. Remove from the heat and grate zest from half a lemon into the oil. Cut off the onions green tops and slice the lower bulb part in half lengthwise. Cut the squash diagonally into ¼-inch thick ovals. Brush onions and squash with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill over medium-high heat until golden brown—3 to 5 minutes per side. Rinse the chard and the lay the bunch on the grill spread out some so that it wilts and some lightly browns, flipping after a couple of minutes.
Chop the onion and chard (discarding the thick lower part of stems if desired) and toss with pasta, chopped olives, garlic oil, the grilled squash, and some reserved pasta cooking water (as needed). Add a generous squirt of lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese and minced parsley.
About fresh garlic: at this stage in the season, the garlic can sit out on the counter. It won’t spoil. It will just lose moisture and “cure.” Refrigerating will help keep the outer papery layers stay supple so you can use all but the woody stem in the middle of the bulb. We’ve been halving the garlic (top to bottom), removing the woody stem, and slicing thinly across the half bulb. No need to extract individual cloves yet. It’s all edible. Store whatever is left in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Week 4
Yes, you’re seeing strawberries in your share for the 3rd week in a row. We’ve had a terrific crop and are really glad to be able to offer these this year. Sadly, this is likely the last week you’ll be seeing them for the season. It’s a short-lived crop, and our plants are at the tail end of production. Strawberries aren’t the easiest crop to grow or pick, so we’ve not been taking one berry for granted. We’ve been eating them with waffles, pancakes, on cereal, as a snack morning, noon, night…sometimes with homemade shortcakes and some whipped heavy cream we are able to buy from a farm right in our neighborhood. Next and most likely last…strawberry ice cream!

Strawberry storage tip: If you need to hold your strawberries, here's how we have the most luck. Rinse, spread on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet and set in a safe place in the refrigerator. If you're going to freeze, rinse, air dry and then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet to par-freeze in the freezer before freezing in a freezer-safe bag or container. The par-freezing step helps prevent the berries from sticking together.

In this week’s share:

1 quart of strawberries
½ pound bag of salad mix
1 large head of broccoli
1 bunch of red spring onions
1 humungous head of romaine lettuce
1 bunch of kale
1 bulb of garlic
3 zucchinis

Thursday, June 18, 2009

17-June-2009 share contents:

8 oz. mild mesclun mix
1 bunch cilantro
1 gigantic head of red leaf lettuce
1 bunch red spring onions
1 quart strawberries
1 head of escarole (see cooking ideas below)
garlic scapes

That thick-leaf, light-green head of lettuce—or what looks like lettuce—is actually escarole. You can eat this member of the chicory family raw, but its bitter flavor is nicely tempered when cooked. I recommended this Fine Cooking recipe for Sausage, Escarole and White Bean Stew last year, and I can’t help but do the same again—esp. while we’re having this cool, rainy weather. It’s great.

If you’re looking for a meat-free option, try this recipe for Sautéed Escarole with Raisins, Pine Nuts, and Capers.

To be honest, I usually don’t follow the initial step of blanching before sautéing as this recipe instructs, and I’m quite happy w/the results. But that might just be the difference between working with escarole that’s just been picked from the fields versus the tough stuff you find in the markets. See what you think.

As for garlic scapes, chop them up and add to eggs, salad, a sauté or a stir-fry. Chop by hand or mince them in a food processor and store in a sealed container to add to your dinners throughout the week. Stored in a plastic bag, garlic scapes hold up for a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

June 10, 2009
Strawberries!!! We’re excited to be able to offer them this year and hope you really enjoy them. As you see, we have been.

Expect June to continue to consist of a lot of greens. That’s simply what thrives in what has remained relatively cool, dry weather. The great thing about greens is that you can build a meal around them. Maryellen just had 4 such recipes published in the recent issue of Fine Cooking. You can find the following recipes in the June/July issue as well as being rotated on the magazine’s web site Almond-Crusted Chicken and Nectarine Salad with Buttermilk-Chive Dressing, Pan-Seared Salmon with Baby Greens and Fennel, Grilled Steak with Pineapple-Ginger Dressing and Spinach and Artichoke Salad with Couscous Cakes and Feta. This really isn’t meant to be a shameless plug; they’re just in-season and relatively easy-to-make recipes that you can refer to and riff from. For instance, substitute the strawberries for the nectarines, since nectarines aren’t quite yet in season or substitute this week’s romaine for the spinach. We had the couscous cakes as a side dish this week but instead of using herbs we stirred in some of that spring garlic pesto mentioned in last week’s blog.

Storage tips:
To minimize our use of plastic bags, we aren’t packaging heads of lettuce. They come in your share as is. The lettuce really does need to be sealed somehow, however, so that it holds its moisture and, thus, structure. We’d recommend washing, spinning and storing in a salad spinner. Salad spinners do a great job of holding lettuces and other greens. We have one by Oxo that we like but also onced owned one by Zyliss that worked terrifically as well. If you don’t have a salad spinner, you can always clean and reuse the bags last week’s salad mix or arugula were packed in. You know, reduce, reuse…recycle.

What's in this week’s share:

1 quart strawberries
8 oz. mixed baby lettuce leaves aka “salad mix”
1 bunch Easter egg radish
1 large head of Romaine (perfect for Caesar Salad with or without grilled chicken)
2 bunches spring onions*
1 bunch spring garlic*

*The white portions of the onions and garlic are well suited when sliced to sautéing over medium heat until lightly golden. Or halve lengthwise and grill. We’ve been eating them with everything from eggs to last night’s dinner of gnocchi with wilted arugula (from last week’s share), Tongue of Fire shell beans (frozen from last year’s crop) and shaved parmigianno reggiano cheese.

Friday, June 5, 2009


This is it. The CSA season has begun and we’re up and, believe me, running. It’s a very busy time on the farm—planting, planting, planting. The weeds are starting to make their presence known, so we’re working hard to stay on top of them since they can easily out-compete certain plantings. A good friend came for a few days this week to visit and help however she could. She was put on a carrot-weeding assignment—one of the toughest young crops to weed. At this stage the carrot plants are itsy fern-like wisps barely rooted in the ground. The weeds were beginning to tower over and shoulder their way into them, so pulling the weeds without taking the carrot plant too, she learned, can be tricky. After two days at the task, mostly on hands and knees, the rows were spotless and we jumped at the chance to irrigate. (Maybe you notice the soil looking a little parched here.) So, when those first purple carrots show up in a share, we’ll all have to give thanks to our friend and resolute weeder Susie.

Here’s what is in this week’s share:

8 oz. mixed baby lettuce leaves aka “salad mix”
4 oz bag of arugula (narrow green loose leaves with addictive peppery punch)
1 bunch Easter egg radish
Lettuce (2 heads Romaine or 1 head Romaine and 2 to 3 heads mixed baby heads of lettuce)
1 bunch spring onions (use the green tops and white bottoms—just like a scallion)
1 bunch spring garlic (looks like onions but with bigger bulb bottoms and definite garlic smell)
Other notes:
May was a cool month. And we woke despairingly to a widespread frost the 1st of June. We’re still waiting to see if the frost killed our sweet potato crop. So while there’s LOTS planted in the fields and in the greenhouse (see pic above), nothing in our fields has really shot off. We need some heat, and rain would be good too. As late spring often goes, expect your share to be on the smaller side at the start of this season. And be prepared for it to be heavy on greens this time of year as well. Leafy greens are what thrive in cool-ish spring weather and take the least amount of time to grow. More on this subject later.

Re: garlic
This is spring garlic. All of it can and should be eaten--both the green tops and white bottoms. We’ve composted what remained of our cured bulb garlic from last year (it was getting pretty punky anyhow) and now cook with this instead. It's one of our favorite hallmarks of spring--up there with robins, lilacs and sore backs.
I tend to chop the white bulbs and use it just like I would regular garlic. Sometimes the outermost skin layer is tough and needs to be peeled off. While still tender, the green tops are great sliced or finely chopped and added to eggs or most any salad—potato, pasta, bean, rice or a leafy green salad. I haven't tried this, but I bet it would be nice pureed with some extra-virgin olive oil to make a green garlic pesto that you can drizzle over pasta or some grilled fish or meat.