Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Has Spring Sprung? Week 1

News from the Farm

Welcome to the 2008 season of Elmwood Stock Farm’s Community Supported Agriculture program. Our goal is to provide you clean, tasty, beautiful, special, high quality fresh foods. We hope you enjoy eating fresh from the farm and have fun with the experience of sometimes trying new things!
Seasonal eating is an adventure. As each basket comes, you will be exposed to the new colors and flavors of foods you have never cooked with before, as well as familiar favorites. We have a few tips to help anyone through the adjustment period.
· Take a few minutes to assess your basket – look at the listing at top right to scan the contents - you might choose to utilize the swap basket at your pickup location. When you get home, decide what needs to be eaten fairly soon and what can wait until later in the week. A few minutes now will save you time later and often some items are more perishable than others – we will let you know what keeps well.
· Remember to wash your vegetables. We do not offer the produce ready to eat. Some items are rinsed and cooled before you get them, but this aids in removing dirt and reducing the field temperature – things we do to ensure better post-harvest quality.
· Try to refrigerate as soon as possible. This is the number one way to keep everything fresh. We do have tips to refresh your greens or lettuce; so don’t give up if you are not able to go straight home.
· Keep your newsletters handy (a 3 ring binder or file folder) or revisit our web-blog
www.elmwoodstockfarm.blogspot.com. Later in the summer when you might be really busy or another family member gets CSA duty the week you are gone, a quick recipe or description of a new vegetable may be needed.Find recipes that fit your lifestyle from vegetable cookbooks or the internet. We have resources if you need them.

Note: Each week we scout the fields ready to harvest each new produce crop at the peak of ripeness. A few plants will be ready early, then the majority of the crop comes, followed by a few more that ripen a little later. Think of the bell curve.If you do not have an item like the spinach, this week, don’t worry, there is plenty planted and warmer weather will bring a much larger harvest soon. We keep track of what goes into each share every week to make sure everyone shares in the bounty!

In Your Basket

Our late, wet season is not holding back the asparagus. It’s fresh flavor makes it a farm favorite and one of the top veggies each year for CSA shares. You don’t have to cut the end on a long piece – just bend lightly until it breaks naturally. Short stalks may not have to be trimmed if the ends are tender or you may want to lightly peel away the outer skin at the bottom of the stalk. Enjoy raw, boiled, steamed, sautéed, baked, or roasted. To store, put the cut ends in water or wrap in a wet paper towel and place inside a plastic container. Below are some recipes.

Salad Mix - organic
This week find young and tender lettuces to make a fresh salad. If you wash gently, they should store very well in the fridge for several days. After washing, a salad spinner will help remove excess water as lettuce will keep better when not soggy and prevents your dressing from slipping off. This week’s mix includes Ruben’s Red Romaine, Jericho Romaine, and Thai Green varieties.

Garlic Greens - organic
Resembling a green onion, the delicate green garlic can be enjoyed only in the spring before the plant’s energy is put into making a bulb under the ground. Use all of the white and as much of the green as you find tender. You can enjoy any way you would a scallion or green onion: sauté in olive oil; chop in salad or pasta, make pesto, or add to soups. A yummy Alice Waters recipe is below.

Radishes – organic
We hope you like both the look and the taste of the Plum Purple round radishes – a newer variety this season. We also are harvesting the cylinder shaped French Breakfast radish that is actually easier to slice! Enjoy with salad, or dip lightly in salt or favorite cream cheese for a nice healthy snack. The leaves are not so tasty and will wilt quickly, but the radish itself stores well refrigerated.

Only in Larger Baskets:

Spinach – organic
This Bloomsdale variety offers enough for an early small harvest. Add to your lettuce for a week of green salads, or lightly sauté with a green garlic and radish. It wilts dramatically when steamed down to a very little portion!

Our strawberries are planted in two sections of our unheated high tunnel, protected from the pelting rains. After Sunday’s day of storms, we are happy to have a few berries ready to harvest, as they would have been ruined if completely outdoors. We try to only pick the reddest, ripest berries; they should be washed right before eating rather than in advance, and will keep best refrigerated. This is the first week of the berry harvest and we expect to have plenty more once a little sunshine comes our way.

Recipes to Enjoy

New Garlic and Semolina Soup from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters.
Semolina, coarsely ground durum wheat, turns simple, homemade chicken broth into a more substantial, silky textured soup.

In a heavy soup pot, bring to a boil:
2 quarts chicken broth
1 herb bouquet, tied with cotton string (a few sprigs of thyme and parsley, and a bay leaf)

Stirring constantly with a whisk, sprinkle in:
½ cup semolina

Lower the heat and continue stirring until the semolina is suspended in the broth and no longer settles to the bottom, about 5 minutes. Add:
3 green garlic plants (bulbs and stalks), trimmed and finely chopped

Cook at a simmer, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for 20 minutes. Discard the herb bouquet, taste for salt. Adjust as needed, and serve hot.

[Variation: add cooked, chopped spinach to the bowl when serving.] Makes about two quarts, 4 to 6 servings.

Baked Asparagus with Goat Cheese and Bread-crumbs

1½ lb fresh asparagus
2¼ T butter, melted

2 oz fresh white goat cheese, crumbled (¼ C)
½ C fresh breadcrumbs
Coat asparagus spears in 1½ T of the butter, then salt lightly. Arrange in a shallow baking dish large enough to accommodate all the asparagus in a single layer. Evenly distribute cheese over asparagus, then breadcrumbs. Drizzle with remaining butter, and bake at 400 degrees until the asparagus is lightly crisped and the bread-crumbs are browned, about 10 minutes.

Asparagus Vinaigrette
adapted from the food-blog Orangette

1 bunch asparagus, blanched until bright greenSalt2 T lemon juice1 T white wine or champagne vinegar1 T Dijon mustard½ tsp fine sea salt5 T olive oilScant 1/8 t pressed garlic1 hard-boiled egg, finely chopped (optional)Zest of half a lemon (optional) In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, and salt. Add the oil, and whisk well to emulsify. Taste, and if necessary, add a bit more oil. Add the garlic, and whisk to combine.To serve, drizzle the vinaigrette over the asparagus, and top, if you like, with hard-boiled egg. If you choose to use the lemon zest, sprinkle a couple of pinches on top.