Monday, June 29, 2009

CSA Week 8

From the Farm . . .

As people begin to try growing gardens again, or remember the big patch their parents had when they were children, by thumbing through seed catalogues or browsing the market or garden centers, they begin to realize how many hundreds of varieties of different items exist. Corn and tomatoes are two foods that come to mind when we think of the many choices one has in varieties. There are the old standbys of Early Girl and Big Beef red tomatoes, and the many Heirloom varieties that we try to not let become extinct by continuing to grow and saving seeds each year like Cherokee Purple and Arkansas Traveler. Attributes may differ in fruit color, size, taste, percent of natural sugars, and then all of the differences in the growth and production also – number of days until flowering, height of stalk, leaf shape, watering and mineral needs, ease or challenge of harvest, spacing from other plants, potential for cross-pollination, germination success, and the list goes on.

We have learned over the years that many folks are not aware that there is a huge difference in “field corn” – what grows in thousands of acres mostly in the flat lands of the mid-West USA – and the “sweet corn” one finds at a farmers market or grocery. Field corn has many uses these days including livestock feed, processed into syrup to be used in many, many processed foods, processed into ethanol, and more. Noted authorMichael Pollan, has researched and written about corn and its role in our food supply and in US public policy.

With sweet corn, there are hundreds of varieties though most fall into one of three visual categories folks use to distinguish: white corn, yellow corn, or the bi-color white and gold mixed. Each sweet corn plant only produces one (sometimes two) ear(s) of corn if all goes well. Depending on the variety and weather conditions, it can take 60 to 100 days to go from seed to harvest. Though it becomes costly to buy seed, use heated greenhouse space to grow a corn transplant, plant it into a mulch or ground cover that is used to warm the soil in April, set up and use water lines through the cornfield, it all seems worth it to have that first fat, sweet ear. We plant at least 15 seeds for each dozen expected knowing that the insects, birds, raccoons, and passers-by traveling down the roadway will each try to take their own “harvest.” And, in order to have corn more than one week out of the summer, we keep planting successive weeks. Some varieties grow better early in the season, some best in late season, so you can’t just keep growing the same type week after week.

At the farm we plant varieties that are non-GMO, that taste great, that have enough green husk cover to not invite all the bird population of Scott County to stop in, and that perform well in our own variety trials. You never know when a favorite variety will not be available due to a seed crop failure, so it’s beneficial to have several favorites.

We did our own taste-test for you on this first variety – Enjoy!

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

Roma Stringless Green Beans – organic
These Italian style flat pod stringless beans are one of the earliest varieties in our area. We started the seeds and transplanted them from the greenhouse for an early start and the spring rains have helped them along. Store refrigerated, then steam or boil in water until tender.

Sweet Corn
Yeh, yeh the sweet corn is ready!! This is the most popular summer vegetable and something most folks never seem to tire of. Our first planting of the season is ready now and we included a large amount for your shares this week. With unpredictable weather and corn-lovin’ predators about (black birds and raccoons) we want to load you up while we have it. Your best storage will be in-the-husk in the coldest part of your refrigerator. If you don’t have room, go ahead and shuck it, clean your silks off with a brush, drop into boiling water, pull out quickly and plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking, and then put into the freezer. You can freeze the whole ear, or cut off the cob and freeze just the kernels and milky sweet juice.

English Burpless Cucumber
These long, large cucumbers are the variety you see wrapped in plastic in the super-market. Ours are field-grown (rather than strung up in a greenhouse making them pencil straight). They have a thin skin that evaporates moisture much quicker than a regular slicing cucumber. They also have a smaller seed cavity. If you have a large one in your share, you should have plenty for the new recipe below.

Green Garlic – organic
This week’s harvest includes the whole green garlic stalk. Your bulb is ready to use like you would regular cloves, it is freshly dug, though, and not dried yet. Use the entire bulb and up the stalk as far as you find desirable. Store this type of garlic in the refrigerator since it is not “dried and cured”.

Kale Greens – organic
Some of you have been asking for kale greens this season. You can use in any recipe that calls for a leafy green. You can also enjoy boiled, sautéed, steamed, or baked. If your recipe has a shortened cooking time, remove the fat stems first as they will not cook as quickly as the leaves. Fold your leaf in half, cut along the fold to easily remove the stem. You can go ahead and cut your leaves into smaller ribbon-like pieces for a quick steam or sauté. Kale will keep well in your refrigerator, longer than more tender greens.

Collard Greens – organic
Once tried, some find the collard greens to be one of their favorites – mix with the kale when cooking and store similarly.

Summer Squash

Tomatoes, Green


Broccoli – organic
Last week’s early harvest of small broccoli stalks took many of the heads planted and intended for this week’s shares. With the hot weather pushing the plants to produce flowers rather than staying at the dark-green ‘bud’ stage that broccoli-eaters desire, we just are not getting much yield from the entire crop this spring. Other farms seem to be having the same luck this June; however, we have more seed ready for the fall!

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Cold Cucumber Soup
recipe shared by a friend of the farm

3 medium seedless cucumbers, peeled and chopped
¾ C thinly sliced green onions
1 T lemon juice + 1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
1 ½ C vegetable broth
½ C sour cream

In a food processor or blender, puree cucumbers, green onions, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper and broth. Stir in sour cream and chill until very cold, about 1 hour. Serve topped with additional chopped cucumber, green onion and lemon zest for garnish. Makes 4 servings.

Crab Stuffed Zucchini Boats
recipe from Robin Miller’s Quick Fix Meals, serves 4

2 large zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
1 pound fresh lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
1/3 C sour cream

½ C coarsely chopped artichoke hearts
¼ C + 2 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp Dijon-type mustard
1 tsp Creole or Cajun seasoning
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 T seasoned dry breadcrumbs

Using a spoon, scoop the seeds from the center of each zucchini half, making four long, canoe-like boats. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the crabmeat, sour cream, artichoke, ¼ C cheese, mustard, Creole seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix gently to combine, being careful not to break up any crabmeat lumps. Spoon the mixture evenly into the zucchini boats. Transfer boats to shallow baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 T cheese and breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over crab. (You can cover and refrigerate up to 3 days before baking). Preheat oven to 400° F, remove cover and bake until top is golden brown, about 15 min.