Tuesday, June 28, 2011

CSA Week #4

CSA members Scott Norton and Andrea Lacey harvest garlic scapes.

Thanks to all those CSA members who came Sunday to help out and harvest the last of the garlic scapes for this week's share! We enjoyed having visitors. For those of you who couldn't make it but would like to visit the farm, our Open House for CSA members is scheduled for Sunday, September 18.

1 bunch carrots
1 bunch basil
3/4 pound sugar snap peas
1 unit of broccoli (1 large head or 2 small bunched together)
3/4 pound garlic scapes
1 head of lettuce
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch radish
1 bunch green onions

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2011 CSA Season- Week 3

Letter from the Farm. Finally, we had a week of normal growing weather. We welcome hot, sunny days balanced out by occasional rain showers. When we recently had an overnight rain that was followed by a bright, warm day, Ken aptly commented, “You can practically hear the plants growing today.”
We are still trying to catch up from four weeks lost to bad weather in April and May. We continue to plant seeds and transplant from the greenhouse in between harvesting for the CSA and a couple of farmers markets.
Our plants are popping up and looking very healthy in most cases, yet so are the weeds. So now we begin the summer long project of weed pulling and tractor cultivation to eliminate as many weeds as possible. Part of being organic is that we never kill weeds with petrochemical “herbicides.” We remove them by hand or with mechanically.
On that note, we can ALWAYS use help with weed control. So for all those coming to volunteer on Sunday, we surely have work for you that can help the farm immensely! If you have not RSVP’d and would like to come, please do so asap. If you’ve never pulled weeds before, it requires no special skills and can be pleasantly meditative and extremely rewarding. Sometimes, at the end of the day, we’ll go out and pull weeds just because it can feel therapeutic.
We know it’s a hike for many to get here, but we really look forward to seeing those of you who can make it on Sunday.

-Ken & Maryellen

¾ pound garlic scapes
1 bunch red Russian or Toscano kale
.35 pounds (6 1/3 ounces) Salad Mix
1 bunch baby turnips with (edible) greens
1 bunch beets (with edible greens)
Escarole or bok choy (whichever you did not get last week)
1 bunch Swiss Chard

GARLIC SCAPES. Those curly-cue shoots in this week’s share are garlic scapes (see pic above). They’re a flowering shoot that gets snapped off the garlic plant shortly after they appear so that the plant’s energy stays focused on developing a large, healthy bulb underground. Snap a scape in half, and you’ll recognize the bright aroma of early-season garlic. Scapes store really well (refrigerate in a sealed bag, and they’ll hold for at least a couple of weeks). Use them chopped or minced in whatever you’d normally use garlic. You can sauté or stir fry. Grill whole. Chop and add to pasta, salad, eggs… It’s incredibly versatile. Have fun experimenting with it on your own or in this pesto recipe—which would be great with pasta, especially a filled pasta, or as a spread on a sandwich.

RECIPE: Garlic Scape PestoAdapted from A Mighty Appetite blog by Kim O’Donnell, published online by The Washington Post

For ½ pound short pasta such as penne, add about 2 tablespoons of pesto to cooked pasta and stir until pasta is well coated.

1 cup garlic scapes (about 8 or 9 scapes), top flowery part removed, cut into ¼-inch slices
1/3 cup walnuts
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼-1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional: To bring out the flavor of the walnuts, gently toast them over medium-low heat in a skillet until fragrant. Remove from the skillet immediately. Let cool before processing.

Place scapes and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until well combined and somewhat smooth. Slowly drizzle in oil and process until blended. With a rubber spatula, scoop pesto out of bowl and into a mixing bowl. Add parmigiano to taste; add salt and pepper to taste.

Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for one week. Or freeze in a thin layer in a sealed freezer bag. Break off a portion of the frozen pesto to use as needed—to flavor pastas or soups or spread on a sandwich.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Week 2
Remember all those weeks of rain this spring? Many of us remember it because after a long, robust winter, we were starved for sunlight and weren’t getting our spring fix. For the farm, it meant three consecutive weeks in which the ground was wet, too wet to prep seed beds and put seed and plants started in the greenhouse in the ground. That’s a lot of time. Ken is still playing catch up on that front. So many of the crops we planned for the first few weeks of the CSA season are behind schedule. As the beginning of a CSA season goes, greens abound.
This week’s farm picture features a new radish variety for us called French Breakfast. We sliced it up last night and tossed in a salad with arugula and some slivered green onion tops. The consensus was this elongated hot pink radish with a splash of white at its root end is terrific. If you’re not keen on radish, try it. It’s nothing like the heavy, hot radish you might find in your supermarket. That said, we can’t agree on how it tastes. French Breakfast is known to be a more mild variety of radish, and Ken said that’s how it tasted to him. I was surprised by how much zing it packed in a bite. Maybe the peppery taste of the arugula was bringing it out. You’ll have to let us know what you think: mild or spicy?

1 bunch green onions
1 bunch French breakfast radish
½ pound spinach
6 ¼ ounces Salad Mix
5 1/2 ounces Arugula
Pac Choi or Escarole or Swiss Chard
1 head red leaf lettuce

It’s hard for the farm to plan how a CSA season will play out. We can plan, but Mother Nature is truly the one in charge. That’s not always easy for CSA members since there’s no guessing what’s going to come in a share from week to week. Heck, as this is being written Monday morning with the share halfway harvested, we still don’t know for sure quite yet what the final share is going to be. Sometimes it’s not until we start harvesting a specific crop that we know how much it will yield.

BUT if you’re a stickler for planning, especially when it comes to meals, here is an oxymoron to cook by:
Be prepared to wing it.
Stocking your kitchen with a handful of staples means you can spontaneously pull together dinner for at least a couple of nights after picking up your CSA share while you shop or look for recipes that help make use of some of the items you’re not so sure what to do with or want to save for a recipe you can follow over the weekend or for company.
At the farm, we don’t have a lot of food shopping options close by. (Come to the farm’s CSA Member Volunteer Day on June 26, and you’ll see what we mean.) So as the season nears and it gets too busy to travel to find certain groceries , we stock up too. Here’s a list of non-perishable items we keep in stock so we can mostly wing it from night to night using whatever veggies are coming in from the fields:
grains: rice (brown and white), whole wheat couscous, quinoa, barley, Israeli couscous, cornmeal for polenta...
noodles: a variety of pastas and two Asian noodles we particularly like.
Salad dressing basics: an assortment of vinegars, good quality extra-virgin olive oil and a more neutral oil like grapeseed or walnut oil
Salad extras: dried fruits and a variety of nuts and seeds
Beans: canned and dried
Canned and jarred goods, like capers, olives, artichoke hearts and even a jar or two of store-bought marinara sauce for those nights we are simply too exhausted to think up anything clever. We toss the cooked sauce with some pasta and then top with some sautéed greens from a week’s share with garlic or onions, pine nuts and parmigiano.
AND basic ingredients for making a stir fry sauce (a favorite way many members use up remaining CSA vegetables in on meal).

Understandably, not all CSA members have a lot of kitchen space to store this much stuff. Consider it food for thought. We still need to buy milk, and we are at weekend farmer’s markets, where we usually can get our good bread and cheese fix. But the above really carries us through the season.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ken & the kids pull weeds from a young beet crop
Distribution date: Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Letter from the Farm:

It’s hard to believe we’ve finally made it to the CSA’s 1st distribution date. Spring has felt so LOOONG. So cold. So wet. So, ugh, dramatic. We’ve had tornado warnings, severe thunderstorms, and even a little hail—thankfully nothing like the damaging golf-ball sized hail some of our farming friends in the region have experienced. We’ve heard of a few farms down state having to delay their CSA distributions by a couple of weeks. Thankfully, we were able to get enough planted before the perpetual rain that plagued us in May to offer a modest first share.

As a general rule of thumb, the CSA season almost always starts out a little slow since there are only so many things that fully mature in the short amount of time we’ve so far had to grow this season. And, frustratingly, the conditions for getting things planted have been extremely difficult this spring because it has been so wet.

The season will start heavy on the greens—with things like lettuces, spinach, swiss chard… These are the plants that grow in a relatively short amount of time and without requiring a tremendous amount of heat (unlike summer-time favorites like tomatoes, cucumbers, melon…). Here at the farm, we’re just so glad to finally have truly fresh salad greens after suffering through a winter of store-bought packets of baby lettuces that turned slimy all too quickly.

This week that nagging question--what’s for dinner?—has an easy answer. Whatever goes with great salad.

1 bunch green garlic (see note below)
1 bunch scallions
1 bunch radish
1 head Romaine lettuce
Salad mix (a mix of baby red and green lettuces; nothing spicy)
1 bunch cilantro

Making the Most of Your Greens For some of us, getting through a head of lettuce in one meal is a breeze. For others, it takes more work and planning. If you fall into the latter category, consider your greens the foundation for a supper salads—main-course salads reinforced with proteins like beans, fish, chicken or other meats (grilled, sautéed, poached or roasted). Let the greens drive the main dish, and, if you don’t already, try making your own basic vinaigrette. It’s really, really simple to make, and outshines the gloppy stuff you find in the superstore any day.

Asian Vinaigrette with Cilantro This vinaigrette makes use of your cilantro and is great with a main-course salad of lettuce greens, thinly sliced scallions from this week’s share and steak or grilled or broiled shrimp or, if you’re a vegan, tempeh.

1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. minced green garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbs. dry sherry
1 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fish sauce (also called nuoc mam)
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon honey
A dash of hot sauce or chile sauce (optional)
Kosher salt to taste
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 Tbs. peanut oil

Combine all the ingredients, except for the sesame and peanut oils. Slowly whisk in sesame and peanut oils to blend.

Greens Storage Tip: If you have a salad spinner, that’s an ideal place to store your mixed baby greens in the refrigerator. The basket to the spinner allows air to flow around the greens so they can “breathe”; the top holds in moisture, so they don’t dry out. If you don’t own a salad spinner, consider buying one. It’ll serve you well through the CSA season. All of the farm’s greens are washed after harvest, but, as with any produce you get from the farm or purchase elsewhere, it is wise to wash again before use.

Cilantro Storage Tip: To keep your cilantro from perishing too fast, store it stem side down in a jar or glass of water (like you would a bouquet of flowers), “tent” the leafy tops with a plastic bag and refrigerate.

In this week’s share you’ll be receiving a slender, small bunch of scallions and then something that looks like bunched green onions but larger and with green tops that look more like leeks. This is green garlic. It’s the garlic plant in its early stage of growth—before the white bulb end has developed cloves. Green garlic is hard to find any time after spring. It has a fresh and delicate garlic flavor without the pungency of mature, cured garlic. It’s terrific with eggs, potatoes, in any kind of salad, and lightly sautéed in anything you’d normally use garlic. It’s also good as a garnish for a dip. Like a scallion, use the entire plant—from the white base to the green tops. The tops are somewhat fibrous, so, depending on how you use them, you may wish to slice thinly or chop well.

The Eggs Get Bigger
All of the farm’s eggs are being laid by spring chickens. That is, the hens are young and only begun to lay eggs in the last few weeks. Lucky for the hens, as nature has it, they start by laying small eggs. Right now the eggs are medium in size. As the season progresses, so will the size of the eggs, until they reach something between a large and extra-large size.

Recycling egg cartons. For all those with egg shares, the farm is more than glad to reuse any clean egg cartons—from the eggs we’ve provided or eggs members have purchased elsewhere. Bring them to the CSA distribution site.

Recycling rubber bands. Through the course of the season you’ll accumulate quite a few food-safe red rubber bands the farm uses to bunch a number of different herbs and veggies. The farm can reuse them. So feel free to bring your eventual stockpile to the CSA distribution, and they will get returned to the farm.