Monday, May 26, 2008

CSA News, Week 3

News From the Farm . . .

Over the years of growing and selling fresh vegetables, we have learned that unless you are standing in the field eating your produce just seconds after you picked it, good post-harvest handling is necessary to keep fresh veggies fresh. We do everything we can to make sure what goes into your share is in the best possible shape when it leaves the farm. We begin harvest in early mornings picking greens and lettuces first before the sun heats up the plants. Our harvest containers are regularly returned to our packing barn where we hand rinse most items to remove soil, reduce the field heat, and remove any damaged leaves. We use on-farm coolers to chill produce to its preferred temperature. The quicker all this happens, the longer the fresh-life for everything. The quicker you can cool your items after pickup, the better. We all have days when we don’t make it home as early as plan-ned. If so, swirl your greens in a sink of cold water for about 10 min-utes, shake dry, then put in a sealed container in the refrigerator to re-invigorate the slightly wilted leaves. Remember that all greens need to be stored in a closed container in the coolest part of your fridge. Enjoy!

In Your Share . . .

Greens, Cooking – organic
Many folks put greens into the categories of “love it” or “hate it.” If you fall into the latter, you owe it to yourself to try cooking greens again! Some are more common and some unusual, but each has unique flavors that change slightly depending on weather conditions and the season. The nutritional benefit to human health of vitamins, minerals, and folic acid just cannot be duplicated in tablet or capsule forms. Disease prevention is well documented from leafy greens – so experiment a little bit and find a recipe that works for you and your family. We have many recipes for kale, chard, arugula, turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, and more in newsletters over the past years – you can substitute one for the other in most recipes. If all else fails, throw chopped greens into soup, stew, casseroles and add to your holiday backyard barbeque!Today’s harvest is Giant Red Mustard Greens and Tasty Turnip Greens. Both have a pungent, spicy flavor and will cook down to 25% or less of fresh volume if boiled in the country style. Try rough-chopping into smaller pieces and adding to an omelet, quiche, or frittata. Find a recipe below.

Lettuce – organic
This week’s harvest comes from several varieties of tender heads. You will have one of Thai Green, Reine des Glaces Crisphead, or Optima Greenleaf. The Thai resembles the old-time traditional Black Seeded Simpson long grown in Kentucky gardens. The Reine des Glaces has a scalloped, spiky outer edge on the lower leaves resembling the spikes of a crown, leading to its name as Queen of Ice. The Optima is a darker green than the Thai with enjoyable butterhead flavor.

Swiss Chard - organic
This crop is a Rainbow mix of red, pink, white, yellow, orange, and striped color chard. The greens of the chard plant can be prepared like spinach. Large stalks can be cut into bite size pieces and used in any chard recipe – just know they take a little longer to cook than the more tender leaf.For a quick side dish, chop leaves and stems into ribbons and 1 inch chunks. Sauté in olive oil or steam – either way start with stems first, then after 3-4 minutes, add the ribbon leaves.

Enjoy baby leaves added to salad, or add to pasta, quiche, or a frittata – if you choose to steam, it will wilt way down as does spinach!

Strawberries - organic
Yeh, more berries! In our region, strawberry plants produce berries once per year. In other areas like California or South America, mul-tiple climate zones allow for many plant-ings resulting in longer seasons for ripe berries. Some say the tasty flavor is worth our shorter KY season. Enjoy all you can of local organic berries now!

Larger Baskets Only:

We still are getting some asparagus, but the harvest each day is much smaller. Since asparagus must grow its roots for a full year prior to producing the spears we enjoy, now is the time in the season to cut back on harvesting. The asparagus stalk needs to put energy into flowering in order to have a sufficient crop next spring. Enjoy this last treat as the season for asparagus winds down.

Bok Choy - organic
Long viewed as a specialty item, bok choy is becoming better known and well liked as our menus and palates expand. Try a simple stir-fry by sautéing some garlic or onion in olive oil or butter; add the chopped white stalks, then a few minutes later add the chopped green leaves. When wilted, but still crunchy, add a dash of sesame oil. Enjoy as a nice side dish with fresh garden flavor.

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Strawberry-Blueberry Compote in Red Wine Syrup
adapted, not original farm recipe

1 cup dry red wine
½ cup sugar
½ tsp whole black peppercorns
2 (2 ½-inch) orange rind strips
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
4 cups sliced strawberries
1 cup blueberries

Combine first 6 ingredients in small non-aluminum saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until liquid is reduced to ½ cup.

Drain mixture in colander over large bowl. Discard solids. Add berries. Toss to coat. Serve warm or chill up to 2 hours. Makes 8 servings.

Spicy Mustard Greens with Cumin

recipe from Bon Appetit – use any of your greens including tops from beets and turnips – may want to halve the recipe since smallish bunch harvested this week.

¼ C extra virgin olive oil
2 med. onions, coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 T cumin seeds
½ tsp dried crushed red pepper
2 bunches mustard greens, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper
1 T balsamic vinegar

Heat oil in large pot, medium high heat. Add onions & sauté until soft, about 7 min.
Stir in garlic, cumin seeds, and red pepper flakes. Sauté 3 minutes.
Add mustard greens in batches, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until greens are very tender, 15 minutes or more. Stir frequently.
Season with salt and pepper. Mix in vinegar.
Can be made 3 hours ahead. Serve hot or at room temperature. Recipe can be halved.

Wilted Chard with Onions

from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

1 bunch chard
2 T olive oil
1 onion, diced

Wash and drain chard. Pull the leaves from the ribs. Trim the ends from the ribs and then cut them into thin slices. Cut the leaves into wide ribbons. Heat oil in a heavy pan and add onion. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chard ribs and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Add the leaves and salt. Cook, stirring now and then, until the leaves are tender. Add a little bit of water if the pan gets dry and the inions begin to stick and brown.