Tuesday, July 6, 2010

CSA Share Week 6

Do we need to even say it? It’s really, really, really hot. We’re not sure we’ve seen a heat wave quite like this in the 11 years we’ve owned our farm. We’re irrigating as best we can, but the pond project isn’t complete, and our present system cannot distribute water in large sections of field. So we’ll keep disconnecting and reconnecting irrigation lines to keep as much watered as we can until this heat breaks.
Certain crops simply don’t like heat. Lettuce and broccoli are sure casualties. We’re harvesting all of our fennel crop now too; that will otherwise bolt. And we’ve severely trimmed down the basil (thus, this week’s big bunches) so that it won’t go to seed either. In sum, many of the items in this week’s share you aren’t apt to see again soon. Other heat-loving crops we see further into summer, like tomatoes and peppers, melons and cucumbers, aren’t necessarily going to thrive under these conditions either. When it’s this hot, plants become stressed.
Like we said, we’ll do our best with irrigation and hope the intense heat breaks sooner than later.
Meantime, this week’s share has a lot of new items we’re excited about. The anise flavor of the variety of fennel we grow, called Orion, makes the flavor of store-bought fennel seem feeble. See this week’s tips on how to thinly slice fennel (great mixed in with your baby salad greens). There are also ideas on hot-weather options for cauliflower—something we normally love to roast but wouldn’t consider turning on the oven for right now. And while this week’s herbs—basil and parsley—go beautifully with just about every vegetable in this week’s share, they can also be their own stars. It just might be a good week to make pesto and tabbouleh.


1 bulb fennel
1 bunch parsley
1 head cauliflower
6 ½ ounces salad mix
1 large bunch basil
1 bunch radish
1 bag spinach
1 lb. bag of sugar snap peas

*The above list is what local members can expect to receive. Due to a short supply of certain crops, members in the city are receiving a slightly different share than local members. Our summer squash crop is just kicking in and was compromised by mice in the early greenhouse stages; so we didn't have enough for everyone this week. Similarly, our spring pea crop didn't germinate well. So this crop is limited and short-lived. We will have more squash and peas for all as the season progresses. We do our best to make sure what when there are variations that the different items are of comparable worth and overall desirability.
For our CSA members in the city, please refer to the newsletters your CSA group compiles weekly for specifics on your shares and other CSA news specific to your community group.



Sautéed Cauliflower: Cauliflower has an inherently nutty flavor that especially comes through when sautéed (or roasted). To sauté, heat a heavy-bottomed or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil or a heat-friendly oil like canola or safflower oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the cauliflower (cut into 1-inch florets) so that it fits in the pan in a single layer. If necessary, cook in batches. Lower the heat to medium and let cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the cauliflower and loosely cover with a lid so that the cauliflower browns and steam cooks. Continue to cook until golden brown and tender, about 5 more minutes. Suggestions: serve in a pasta dish with beans (kidney, white or garbanzos), roasted red pepper or sun-dried tomatoes, sautéed onion, garlic, and basil or as a side dish with melted butter, chopped parsley and minced capers.

Cauliflower pickles. We're really liking the sound of this cool, crunchy pickled cauliflower recipe (click on "pickled cauliflower" to connect to link). Since carrots and red bell peppers aren’t quite ready at our farm, you can always omit and add a few more cups of cauliflower. If this seems like way more pickles than you’d ever eat, you can halve this recipe.

Quick fix: Radish and parsley salad
Make a simple salad of thinly sliced radish and parsley leaves. Serve with freshly squeezed lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and a pinch of Kosher or sea salt. If you have any green onion tops left over from last week’s share, thinly slice and add some of those too. Or shave some of this week’s fennel and toss in too.


Fennel- very thinly slicing fennel is the best way to prepare it, especially if serving in a salad. You don’t have to have a super-sharp knife and knife skills to achieve this. A vegetable peeler lets you shave it. Trim the base, quarter lengthwise, cut out the core, and run the peeler lengthwise along each quarter to shave. You can also use a mandoline or hand slicer, if you have one. For a more detailed lesson on how to use any of these tools to thinly slice or shave fennel, go to the Fine Cooking test kitchen’s web site.

Storing herbs- like basil (last week’s tip), store parsley in a cup or jar of water tented with a plastic bag and refrigerated. Parsley will hold up for a number of days; basil usually only lasts 3 to 4 days.

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