Thursday, September 27, 2012

CSA Week #16

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We finally have purple carrots! Our 4-year-old did a wild jig when he first bit into one this week—some kind of Sponge Bob-inspired dance routine, we fear.
The purple carrots have given us a heck of a time this year. Many, many plantings of seeds were planted but wouldn’t germinate, mostly because of the dry weather. But, at last, we got a crop.
We love these carrots because of the rich color and sweet flavor. Our orange carrots are pretty flavorful, but there’s something special about the purples.
If anyone asks you about them, you can let them know that the earlierst carrots were purple. Really. The Dutch in the 17th century altered them to orange.
“Jack Frost” has been hovering in the neighborhood here. So we expect this is the last week you’ll see the salad tomatoes (or any tomatoes), eggplant, and many such summer favorites. We had a good stretch and enjoyed them while they lasted. The sweet bell peppers we’ve been enjoying are also on the short list.
***We had parsley on the harvest list, but our field crew mistook young celery tops for parsley and picked the wrong crop. Our 7-year-old daughter, ironically, was just asking how the celery was coming along. It’s a hard crop to grow in the Northeast, and Ken explained it wasn’t going so well seeing as it’s a crop that needs intensive water.  That’s not to say your celery tops can’t be put to good use. Use much like you would parsley. The stems are flavor-full and would be a great aromatic addition to a sauce, stir-fry or soup. The leaves are good to eat too and contain Vitamin C,  calcium and potassium (more so than the stalks). Use the leaves like parsley leaves or add to a green salad or sandwich, such as tuna or egg salad.

1 bunch purple carrots
1 head Romaine lettuce
1 bunch green onions
1 bunch young celery stalks (see farm letter)
1 bunch arugula
1 bunch braising greens
Bell peppers
2 heads garlic
1 pint (1 pound) salad tomatoes

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

CSA Share Week 15

Tuesday's drizzly day brought (still) much-needed rain and, hooray, mud puddles!

A change of clothes were in order, twice, as we packed this week’s share. Hauling boxes in the rain from the packing shed to the farm’s truck for city-bound shares (plus getting soaked from all the water those lettuce leaves tend to trap), we were uncomfortably, wonderfully wet.
It drizzled and rained almost all of Tuesday.
Here, a sodden day was still very much needed.
The leaves have begun to change, and there’s a peaceful stillness to the air that we associate here with fall. To not let this time go unnoticed, we pulled the kids outside Tuesday before dinner to walk around one of the fields while it was just drizzling. They were so excited to discover the first of a series of mud puddles. You’d think they hadn’t seen a mud puddle in months. Oh, right… they haven’t.

In this week’s share:

1 bunch braising greens

1 bunch radish

1 head Romaine lettuce

1 bunch green onions

1 bunch fresh dill

1 head red leaf lettuce

2 red bell peppers

1 jalapeño

Plum or “sauce” tomatoes

What are “braising greens”? This week's bunched “braising greens” are a mix of kale, tatsoi, green and red mustard, and hon tsai tsai. This is something we grow in the fall only, since these are cool-weather loving greens. Some of our regular farmers' market customers have caught onto this schedule and have been stopping by our stand to ask if these greens have arrived yet. Our CSA members get to be the first to enjoy them.
These greens would make a nutritious, spicy stir-fry with this week's onions and some garlic and red bell pepper or pencil-thin strips of carrots, if you have any left over in your fridge from last week’s share. At the farm, we often wilt them briefly in hot olive oil, stir in minced garlic and eat as a side along something like crusty bread. We may just do that tonight with some scrambled eggs seeing as we're pressed for time here. White or garbanzo beans and chopped roasted red bell pepper would also temper the spicy kick of these greens.

We have dill! This week’s fresh dill would go great in a creamy, homemade salad dressing served with either of this week's lettuces and the radish. Or if you're looking for a new idea with radish try sautéing it and adding dill for flavor.
Dill is also a natural with salmon or in a chicken soup.

Fruit share:
About 3 pounds mixed apples (Gala, Fuji and Ginger Golds) or Macoun apples

Reminder to those with a chicken share: this is a chicken week.

Other recipes to consider with your share:

Tomato tip: Leave tomatoes on the countertop to ripen to a rich red color before using. This week's plum tomatoes are traditionally used for making Italian tomato sauce.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

CSA Share Week 14

Farm letter
We are loving the salad tomatoes that you are seeing again in this week’s share. It’s a variety we haven’t grown before this year.
From a farming perspective, we’re pleased because it has been prolific and disease resistant (tomatoes are highly prone to disease, such as blight). They also hold well in their travels from the farm to your countertop (reminder: refrigerating makes a tomato mealy.)
From the standpoint of our appetites, we love the bright, tart flavor of the salad tomatoes and their versatility. They slice up into neat wedges for salad (perfect for this week when we have salad mix, arugula and beautiful oak leaf bib-style lettuce to work with). We nosh on them for an on-the-fly snack. We use them to make a fresh salsa—perfect with this week’s cilantro and garlic. This past week we’ve especially taken to roasting them (see recipe). The time in a hot oven concentrates the flavor, like a sun-dried tomato but better/brighter and without a leathery texture.
Roasted tomatoes go great on pizza or polenta, mixed into a pasta dish, or as a condiment for chicken, fish, eggs or beans.

In this week’s share:7 ounces arugula
7 ounces salad mix
1 bunch carrots
1 bunch White Lady turnips
3 heads of garlic
1 head of oak leaf bib lettuce
1# salad tomatoes
1 slicing tomato
1 bunch cilantro
 Fruit share:2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds yellow nectarines
1 quart Concord grapes

About this week’s fruit:

Maynard Farms’ nectarines have been so juicy and flavor-concentrated that we practically whooped at the news that the farm had some available for us. (We figure there’s plenty of time ahead for apples.) As with peaches, let ripen on the countertop in a bowl and then refrigerate.

The puckery tart and sweet flavor of Concord grapes is a fall gem. Yes, you have to put up with the seeds, but we think they’re worth it. Just pop them into your mouth fresh. If the seeds bother you or anyone you are feeding, halve the grapes and pry out with the tip of a paring knife.
There are also a lot of ways to cook with Concord grapes…

For the aspiring baker: grape focaccia with rosemary
For someone looking for an excuse to make a cocktail: Concord Crush
For a savory slant: Concord grape reduction sauce with pork (or chicken),0,6679011.story
For the gourmet cook: Duck Breast with Saba and Grapes
For a simple dessert (if you have an ice cream maker): Concord Grape Sorbet (adjust amount of sugar according to weight of grapes in quart container)

How to Roast Your “Salad” Tomatoes:

Heat an oven to 375° F.

Using a medium-sized baking sheet with raised edges, pour enough extra-virgin olive oil to lightly cover the pan bottom.

Halve the tomatoes and place cut-side down on the pan.

Roast on the center rack of the oven until the tomatoes begin to look wrinkled and some have begun to brown on their undersides, 20 to 30 minutes. Using a metal spatula, flip the tomatoes and continue to roast until the tomato halves are collapsed and any juice inside the tomato is cooked off, 10 to 15 more minutes.

 Note about this week’s turnips:

This week’s white lady turnips are an “eating” turnip, meaning they are mild enough that you can slice them and serve them in a salad. These turnips, however, are slightly more turnip-y in flavor than the small, white Japanese salad turnips we had earlier this season. Turnips are also a natural in braises, such as beef stew, and roasting them brings out their sweetness.

Don’t forget your turnip greens: this power green is a good source of vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, vitamin K and lutein. These are bitter greens, like mustard greens. A quick way to cook them is to briefly sauté in olive oil, stirring in minced garlic towards the end.
If you have a favorite way to cook turnip greens, please share with the farm and your fellow CSA members.

Don’t worry about not immediately getting through the garlic….Unlike most supermarket garlic, this garlic holds. Store it out of direct sunlight—in a place in your home that’s cool, dry and dark—and it will wait for you to eat for months. If stored right, it will hold until May.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

CSA Week 13

Daily life on a farm is chock full of smile-worthy moments. The frequent sight of these young chickens cavorting outside our kitchen is a favorite (see pic). They’re very busy living a good life—hanging out in the shade of a plum tree, running, grazing, exploring.
Our hens’ squawk and chatter can be an amusing wake-up call when dawn is at 5:30—as it is now. (It’s not so charming in July, when they start up around 4 a.m.; that’s when the white noise of a fan comes in handy.)
Then there’s something as simple as rain. The inch and a half we got last week put a huge smile on our faces. We were so excited, we had to take pictures of our rain gauge. Incredible.
And this week’s CSA share is one happy ensemble—more than a few of our favorite things. The arugula is particularly tasty, gorgeous and abundant. The edamame is a treat—extremely time-consuming and tedious to harvest but oh so addictive to eat.
Last night we made a dinner out of most of this share: a generous bed of arugula topped with slivered radish, sliced peppers, minced scallions, a couple thick slices of tomato. Not in the share was some farm-raised grilled chicken left over from the night before. We used this week’s basil in a lemon-caper vinaigrette for the main-course salad and some fresh mozzarella cheese from a cheese vendor friend at a local farmers’ market. Everything was so fresh, so tasty and practically exclusively from our farm. This really made us happy.
We hope this week’s share makes a lot more than just us smile too.

2 red bell peppers
1 bunch Italian basil
¾ pound green beans
1 bunch radish
½ pound fresh edamame (soy bean) or 2 cucumbers*
3 tomatoes
1 bunch scallions
10 ounces arugula
2 pounds last-of-the-season yellow peaches
2 pounds Macintosh apples

*Due to frought-related crop loss, there was not enough edamame for all CSA members to receive.

At the farm this week we are enjoying both the last few days of “summer” and the excitement of a new school year. In light of this, we thought it made sense to offer a final taste of summer with peaches (so particularly delicious this year) and the introduction of a fall classic, the Macintosh apple.

Arugula Tips:

If you’re not sure what to do with the large helping of arugula this week, there is a host of recipes you can scroll through on the Martha Stewart web site. .
 It just might give you some ideas. If you want to try storing some for the future, an arugula-walnut pesto would hold in the freezer and be great for a pasta dish, a stew or spreading on a sandwich.