Wednesday, July 18, 2012

CSA Week 6

Farm Letter

Right now, we’re irrigating like crazy. We’ve now used up about a half million gallons of water to sustain our main field, and, based on the forecast, expect we’ll need to keep running it continuously this week.
A brief rain Sunday afternoon wasn’t even enough to dampen the soil under the canopy of this young, delicate Thai basil plant (see pic).
A USDA Conservation engineer came by the farm today to consult on building another pond. He told us we haven’t had any measurable rainfall since June 6 and that this has been the driest June and July for our county.
Our sweet corn crop is among the casualties. So if you’ve been waiting for the golden moment of having your first corn on the cob this season, we recommend not waiting to find it in your share. We usually do have it.
On an up note(!), our orchard farmer, Tom Maynard, is loving this weather. It makes for flavorful tree fruit. And we can attest to that having just had a sample of this week’s white nectarines (pic below). Maryellen served the kids a bowl of sliced nectarines this morning saying, “You’ve got to try these. They’re like nature’s candy.” That caught their attention.
As Tom taught us last year, the white nectarines are more aromatic than a yellow nectarine, which tends to taste more tart.


Share list:

1 head Romaine lettuce
1 bunch carrots
2 kohlrabi
Swiss chard
1 bunch broccoli
1 bunch sweet, mild onions


Fruit share: white nectarines


Grilled romaine? I was reading the Contributor’s section of a recent Fine Cooking magazine issue, and a former colleague of mine from the magazine said her latest favorite food was grilled Romaine. Now this I’ve got to try. And maybe you want to try too.

You could easily substitute a white bean, like cannellini, drained, rinsed and chilled for the favas. I wouldn’t feel wed to the Pecorino, as well, if you don’t have it on hand but have a suitable alternative.
If you don’t have a grill but are curious about this idea, Alton Jones has a riff on it using a stovetop griddle or sauté pan:

Tip: Hang onto the outer Romaine leaves you pull off for the above recipes and use in the kohlrabi recipe below or tear up to make a salad with sliced nectarines, dried cherries or cranberries and almonds or top on a sandwich with some browned sweet onions from this week and a favorite cheese.


This German cabbage looks like vegetal sputnik and, we think, it is out of this world.
Kohlrabi has a crisp, juicy texture and is often likened to broccoli stems but only milder and sweeter (and crunchier). It’s delicious paired with fresh herbs like chives, cilantro or parsley, radishes, carrots and apples, as well as with seasonings like horseradish, sesame, ginger, and mustard. Slice it into batons and snack on it with a creamy dip or dressing in the afternoon or before serving dinner. Thinly sliced, it can also be added to a salad. A popular way to prepare kohlrabi is as a slaw.
Kohlrabi is also tasty sautéed or roasted (cut them into thin slices or bite-size wedges first) or added to a braise or stew. You can also boil the bulbs until tender and mash them.
Kohlrabi will hold in the refrigerator for at least a couple of weeks. So, don’t feel pressed to use it up this week if you’re still working your way through last week’s share. Save some for a summer picnic.

 Recipe from the farm: Kohlrabi Slaw with Confetti or Romaine Chard

Making “matchsticks” and “confetti” might sound tedious, but there’s a simple trick:  thinly slice the trimmed kohlrabi. Stack a few of the slices on top of one another and then slice into the sticks. For the chard (or Romaine—left over from the grilled hearts you may have made), roll the leaves into cigar shapes and then very thinly slice across to make the confetti.

2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 Tbs. walnut or other mild-tasting oil
2 medium carrots, sliced into 1/8-inch thick matchsticks
1 purple kohlrabi bulb, trimmed and cut into 1/8-inch-thick matchsticks (2 cups)
1 cup of very thinly sliced chard or outer Romaine leaves (see tip, above)
3 tablespoons chopped parsley

In a small bowl whisk the vinegar, honey, mustard seeds, 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt, and a pinch of pepper. Gradually whisk in the walnut oil until combined.
Put the kohlrabi, carrots, kale, and parsley in a medium bowl. Pour in the dressing and gently toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Crispy footing from the house to the greenhouse after 4 weeks without rain.
Water from the farm's pond is being pumped out to irrigate. It's helping but has its limitations.
Winter squash in a back field suffers from lack of rain. This field, which contains our sweet corn and a number of other crops, is not within reach of the farm's irrigation system.

Note to Cooperstown members: the distribution will be at 54 Elm Street again. 

When you hike around the farm these days from task the task, the ground audibly crunches underfoot. We are now in our 4th week here without rain.
Plants naturally struggle without water, and this is visible around the farm. Though conditions here are mild in comparison to the drought conditions in the Midwest where farmers are simply ploughing under shriveling corn crops, the drought is compromising our yields and challenging our ability to get certain crops started from seed (seeds need moisture to germinate).
Two years ago the farm received a grant through the USDA National Resources Conservation Service, which assisted us in the building of a million gallon pond and installation of an irrigation system with underground water lines running to the edges of our primary fields. Last year there was no shortage of rain, so we did not get the chance to put the system to work. Now, it’s running.
It is a drip system (perforated plastic lines are run down a bed of plants and slowly drip water out through the night). It is an amazing thing to have. Because of this system, we were able to run drip line through a mature broccoli crop all of this past week so that it would hold up for this week’s harvest. At the same time, because it is such a gentle watering system and the conditions are so dry, it’s not completely effective. It’s more like a band aid. And we do have crops in our back fields that this system can’t reach.
So, needless to say, we could use a good, soaking rain.


1 head fresh garlic
1 bunch broccoli
1 bunch basil
2 cucumbers
2 to 3 zucchini or patty pan squash
1 head of red leaf lettuce
1 bunch carrots
1 bunch beets

 (zucchini and squash types and amounts vary depending on what you've received in past weeks)


Sweet Yellow Plums
Yellow Peaches*

(peaches only for those CSA groups that did not receive them last week because of the holiday: at-farm and Cooperstown members)

Sweet yellow plums are ripe when they turn a "canary yellow" color and are soft to touch. "They're wonderful," says grower Tom Maynard. 

The plums and peaches were just picked and need time to ripen off the tree. 
To ripen, leave out in the counter in a bowl or on a plate. Transfer into the refrigerator once ripe. 

For those members with a chicken share, this is a chicken distribution week.

Cooking tips and recipe ideas:

Fresh ideas for this week’s squash

Zucchini is so incredibly versatile (green or golden). Great on the stovetop or in the oven—whether you’re roasting for dinner or making Maryellen's chocolate nut zucchini bread for a snack:
(we ate 2 loaves in 24 hours--okay, our young dog got a hold of half of one)

An outdoor grill or electric griddle or stovetop grill plan can be used for this recipe for grilled zucchini with chive oil-- 
Maybe skip the chive oil and use this week's basil to make a basil oil instead (use leftovers for a homemade vinaigrette):

The Cousa-style squash can be treated like a zucchini (the only thing we haven’t tried with it is making zucchini bread), but it is popular with some Middle-Eastern cuisines for stuffing with ground lamb or beef and rice. Variations on this abound: with or without meat or with a different kind of grain—may be with some minced sautéed beet greens and a cheese…. Let us know if you have a recipe for this specialty squash.

Spare your carrots!!! No need to bother peeling the carrots in your share. Just scrub to get any residual dirt off of them and enjoy.

Beet conundrum: Are beets a hard sell in your household? Or maybe you haven’t learned to love them? Sneak them into a chocolate cake:

Or maybe you do love beets (especially great roasted) but hate the idea of turning on the oven in this summer heat. Here are two no-cook beet salads to consider:


Granted, beets aren’t as sweet when served raw. If you like the idea of a cooling beet salad but are willing to turn on the oven for a sweeter-tasting beet, the yogurt dressing is a nice, fresh counterpart to the earthy beet. Don’t hesitate to use minced basil (from this week’s share) instead of the dill called for in this recipe:

Storing fresh garlic. The garlic is now at the stage where you can simply leave it out on the counter. The papery layers around the cloves will dry back some and be easier to peel off. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

CSA Share Week #4

Note to Cooperstown members: the distribution site has had to change this week. Please see the e-mail sent out to members for alternate site information.

The farm tries to make sure each share has a good showing of familiar veggies in the mix. As the weeks go on, more and more of summer’s favorites, like cucumbers and tomatoes and green beans, should start appearing. But, as many of our CSA members tell us, they also like that belonging to a CSA pushes them out of their comfort zone—inspires them to try something new, something they wouldn’t buy in the supermarket or, in the case of this week’s Treviso radicchio, something they may not ever even find in the supermarket. 
Native to Italy, this form of chicory is so rich in color and texture and character. We had to take a picture. Unlike the more common ball-shaped radicchio, this is oblong in shape. Since it’s not necessarily “native” to most of our home refrigerators, we’ve provided a web link below for some general information and an assortment of recipes.

 In this week’s share:

1# sugar snap peas
1 green cabbage
1 bunch radish
1 bunch parsley
7 ounces (.44 lbs.) salad mix (mixed baby greens)
1 Treviso radicchio
5 ounces spicy greens mix (good for salad or stir fries)
summer squash*

*We are rotating the kind of summer squash members receive. All of the squash-- zucchini, golden zucchini, patty pan squash, and Mid-East or cousa-type squash (variety Magda). All of them cook similarly. Great sautéed, roasted, grilled. The patty pans can be stuffed. The Mid-East, light green squash is known for its nutty flavor. 

Fruit Share:

For city and JCC members, refer to your CSA newsletter for specifics. Local and Cooperstown members will not have a fruit share this week because of the changed holiday schedule, but hang tight--peaches are on their way!!

Radicchio: The Martha Stewart web site offers a nice overview of radicchio and a wide spectrum of ways it can be cooked. There is a slaw recipe that could work with this week’s radicchio and cabbage. There is also an interesting recipe in which the radicchio is “grilled” on a grill pan and has grated fontina tucked and melted between its leaves.

Sugar snap peas are terrific eaten whole—pod and all—and are sweetest eaten raw. They make a great snack.