Monday, May 11, 2009

CSA News, Week 1

Week 1 of the 2009 season

Welcome to 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 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 visit this web-blog as a reference. 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.

In Your Share . . .
Share items may vary depending on your share size and harvest day. Each share may not have every item listed below.

Our late, wet spring is not holding back the asparagus. We often consider start-ing CSA a week or two later in May since it is difficult to have enough diverisity for the first week’s har-vest. But, we would miss most of the asp-aragus harvest if we wait, and it’s one of your top favorites you tell us 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 is a favorite recipe.

Dried Beans – organic
Our organic black turtle beans are now one of the farm favorites. Popular in both Latin American and Caribbean cuisine, the beans can also be used in soups, stews, or in fresh vegetable wraps. We have yet to invest in a commercial bean sheller, however we did borrow one over the winter. It did an okay job on shelling, but also cut several of the beans in half – you can see the white centers. This does not affect the flavor, cooking ability, nor storage time – and the whites dissapear when cooked. These beans are not stored for years like packaged commercial dry beans. Our beans are fresh from the fall harvest and do not need to be soaked overnight before cooking. Recipe below.

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.

Over wintered Parsnips – organic
Parsnips have a long growing season and this crop was grown last year and harvested this spring. That makes them extra sweet. It can also cause the larger ones to be a bit hollow-cored or rusty inside. Just trim out the core, if you wish. If you are making a mashed parsnip, puree or soup, you can use your vegetable peeler to keep shaving away to prepare your parsnips for boiling, just stop your peeling if you get to a hard core in the center – you will notice the change in color from creamy parsnip to white core. Will keep well, store refrigerated.

Over wintered Spinach – organic
This Bloomsdale variety is one of only a couple that will handle our unpredictable winters. Only greens that were planted last fall are really large enough for harvest this week due to weeks of cloudy days and cool temperatures. We also benefit from great flavor by having spinach that has been through a frost. Store in the bag or another container refrigerated.

Fresh Thyme – organic

Fresh Horseradish Root – organic
If you have never seen fresh horseradish root before, process of elimination will identify it as the whitish, curly root. Store refrigerated for several weeks if not ready to use soon. To prepare, peel the skin then use either a hand grater or food processor to grate into fine pieces. Add to some white vinegar and store in a sealed container or jar in your refrigerator. As the root is exposed to air, the heat will begin to mellow; so to retain the most heat, add your vinegar as quickly as possible after peeling and grating. Add your prepared horseradish to ketchup for homemade cocktail sauce; add to mayonnaise for a spicy spread for meats or roasted vegetable sandwiches or wraps.

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Kentucky Asparagus
recipe adapted from the Governor’s Mansion as showcased in recent Kentucky Monthly Magazine, April 2009

1 ½ to 2 pounds asparagus
½ C soy sauce (reduce slightly if using balsamic)
½ C sugar (we use honey instead)
½ C white wine vinegar (balsamic is good too)
toasted sesame seeds

Mix together equal parts of soy sauce and sugar, and white wine vinegar. Heat the mixture in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until dissolved. Cool and pour over blanched asparagus.

To blanch asparagus, bring to boil a large pot of water. Place asparagus in the boiling water for 3 minutes, then remove and immediately plunge them in ice-cold water to cool. Drain. Pour marinade for 4 to 6 hours. Drain, place on serving tray and top with toasted sesame seeds. Recipe can be doubled or halved.

Steamed Parsnips with Sweet Butter Sauce
recipe from Farmer John’s Cookbook, The Real Dirt on Vegetables, serves 3-4

3 large parsnips, sliced into ½-inch pieces
¼ cup butter
1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

-Place parsnips in a steamer basket set over 1 ½ inches boiling water and cover. Steam for 10-15 minutes, depending on size. Transfer to a serving bowl.
-Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat. Remove the pot from heat and stir in maple syrup or honey.
-Pour the butter mixture over the parsnips. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Basic Black Bean Soup
recipe for smallest share size; for larger share increase water by 1 Cup and use all beans in the share

¾ C black beans
3 C water

Combine beans with water and simmer gently for one hour. Salt and pepper to taste. To this you can add one or any number of these items: diced onion, tomato, garlic, chiles, cilantro, lime juice, or ground cumin. Serves 2 to 4 depending on share size. Stores well refrigerated.