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.