Monday, June 9, 2008

Week 5, CSA

News from the Farm . . .
Giving a report from the farm about current jobs, the crops, and expected produce harvest also has to include a weather report. Unless someone keeps a garden (food or flower), has employment that depends on weather conditions, or is involved in an outdoor sport, one does not realize how challenging and often unpredictable localized climate conditions affect our lives. As little as ten years ago, local radio and television meterologists used to include in their forecasts information that was geared toward farming schedules. The coverage area was much smaller, so rainfall prediction, for example, was more accurate since it was for a smaller, more local area. With the closure of the National Weather Service office in Central KY, the consolidation of radio and television stations resulting in fewer folks working in weather, and the focus of our local economy moving away from agriculture to indoor industry – meterology applied to a crop farm is practically not available.

New “tools” used today include personal localized satellite radar downloaded to a pc or cell phone. A farmer’s log of air temperatures, precipation, soil temperatures, and other observations of nature from year to year aid in making critical decisions on planting, transplanting, hay cutting, crop harvest, and irrigation.

Hail, floods, tornados, and ice storms are obvious “big events” in weather. Drought is just as serious. Recent public awareness of issues surrounding municipal water sourcing along with water usage restrictions should have made us all aware of the problems of drought. Utilizing last century systems such as cisterns and deep wells are a small step towards a back-up plan in food production farming.

Farm Report . . .
High air temperatures and dry winds are beginning to affect some crops. With the late spring (cold soil temperatures and cool air temperatures preventing plant growth) followed by the high heat, many spring crops will have a shortened harvest period. Broccoli (see below), lettuces, spinach, heavy greens, and peas are already affected by unharvestable plants or low yield.

Garlic, onion and early potato plants look green and healthy; we hope to not have to set up irrigation on these crops prior to harvest. Transplanting and chopping out weeds continues on the days we are not picking. The summer tomatoes, peppers, egg-plant, and cucumbers are well-established. Direct seeded crops of sweet corn, edamame, and root veggies are underway. Most of the late tomatoes are ready to go out, along with plantings of winter squash and sweet potatoes. The perennial herb plants are in the ground; mulching and setting up the irrigation system continues.

In Your Share . . .
Not every share will have every item as it depends on your share size and day of harvest.

Strawberries – organic

Broccoli – organic – new this week!
We are harvesting from three plantings this week – this was not the plan. Intended to grow and mature at different weeks during the spring, all of the broccoli plants are starting to bolt from the high heat. By going from a compact head the size of a golf ball to an open-stemmed flower within a 24-hour period, this year the spring broccoli will be considered a lost crop.
Each share may have three or four tiny heads rather than the single large head that is expected. As a result of the heat, today’s tiny harvest may be the only yield from the spring broccoli plants.

Green Oak Leaf Lettuce Head – organic
This frilly leaf lettuce is as tasty as it is pretty! Due to the heat, refresh in a water bath before refrigerating if necessary.

Red Romaine Lettuce Head – organic
The organic Red Romaine harvested this week is Rouge d’Hiver, a French Heirloom variety, one of the most striking in appearance making a very pretty head. It also will keep quite awhile in your refrigerator.

Red Leaf Lettuce – organic
The Batavian type lettuce has purplish-red leaves with a pale green inside. Named Rouge de’Grenoblouse, it maintains a sweet flavor even in a hot season.

Sugar Snap Peas – organic – new this week!
Snap peas are a sweet indicator of spring in Kentucky. This organic variety, Sugar Sprint, is a stringless snap pea (both the pod and the pea are edible). Eat fresh in salads or lightly sauté in olive oil to bring out the flavor. You may want to quickly blanche in boiling water, then throw into an ice water bath to stop the cooking. Add to your lettuce or pasta salad, or enjoy as a snack or appetizer with your favorite dip.

Spinach – organic
Our next two plantings of fresh spinach are beginning to size up. Enjoy raw in salads or in wraps, add to any pasta or egg recipe, or cook by steaming or sautéing. Just remember how much it shrinks down when cooked. Add a little vinegar when ready to eat.

Radishes – organic
This week’s harvest of French Breakfast and Plum Purple offers a spicy kick to your fresh green salad. Try a quick-pickle recipe for sliced radishes and sliced turnips to enjoy with sushi, in place of a cucumber pickle, or add to your falafels or other sandwiches.
Sliced radishes served on bread with butter is an old-time favorite Southern snack.

Turnips – organic
These Purple Top White Globe Turnips are the traditional American variety. Remove the tops to enjoy steamed, boiled, sautéed, or with pasta. The bulbs will store refrigerated for several weeks. Peel and enjoy sliced or grated raw; steam or boil and serve with butter; oven roast to bring out natural sweetness; add chunks to kabobs on the grill; oven bake with chicken along with radishes, potatoes, and carrots.

Sweet Basil – organic – new this week!
Use fresh basil fairly soon in salad, pasta, marinara, or as pesto. Seal in container to store in refrigerator as cold temperatures will turn the leaves dark.

Romaine Lettuce – organic
This organic variety, Green Forest, is one of the darkest green types of romaine lettuce. It has a good sized head, not easy in this hot weather. Romaine will keep the longest in your refrigerator.

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Pasta with Broccoli and Ginger

1 bunch broccoli (1 ½ lbs)
1 ½ cups chicken or vegetable broth, divided
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
1/8 to ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
½ tsp salt
1 lb fusilli, rotelle or radiatore pasta, cooked according to pasta directions

Cut broccoli florets from stem. Trim to small florets. Peel and slice stems. Process sliced stems and ½ cup broth in food processor until very fine.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger, garlic, and red pepper. Cook 15 seconds. Stir in pureed broccoli mixture, florets, remaining 1 cup broth and salt. Boil, stirring occasionally, just until broccoli is tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Toss with pasta.

Spinach, Walnut, and Curried-Apple Salad
adapted from Cooking Light, March 2002

1 ½ cups thinly sliced Granny Smith (or tart) apple
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 tsp red curry powder
3 Tbsp cider vinegar

2 Tbsp chicken or vegetable broth
1 Tbsp honey
½ lb fresh spinach
2 Tbsp chopped walnuts, toasted
2 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled (optional)

Heat skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add apple and onion. Sauté 3 minutes. Stir in curry powder and sauté 1 minute. Stir in vinegar, broth, and honey. Remove from heat.

Place spinach in large bowl. Pour warm apple mixture over spinach. Toss well. Sprinkle with nuts and bacon (if using). Makes 6 servings.

Wilted Lettuce Salad
We get a lot of requests at farmers market on how to make this traditional Kentucky spring salad.

6 slices bacon
½ cup sliced green onion
¼ cup vinegar
4 tsp sugar
8 cups torn lettuce leaves

Fry bacon. Drain on paper towels. To grease, add vinegar, sugar, onion, and crumbled bacon. Heat until hot. Pour over lettuce.