Monday, June 1, 2009

Week 4, CSA

From the Farm . . .

Like many in our area, the farm continues to enjoy the daily rains. We can continue to focus on planting, weeding and harvesting since irrigation is not yet needed. The rain is also good for greens, lettuces and peas.

Your shares will be heavy on lettuces this week since the later plants have caught up with the early plants and both are ready for harvest. If you have a little time to wash and properly store your lettuce heads, they should keep for you easily for several days. Take a big salad to that weekend pot luck, add lettuce to your sandwiches and wraps, serve under seafood, even try grilling your romaine hearts before adding a little salad dressing. We have several more crops of lettuce planted, trying for varieties that perform well in KY springtime weather conditions and that have great flavor. Our intent is to extend the salad season as long as we can.

As you may know, our organic certification requires we source and plant certified organic seeds for our crops. Some years, organic seeds for old standby varieties may not be available. In some cases, we use another variety that is organic. Sometimes we can get approval from our certification agency to use non-organic seed as long as it is untreated with a fungicide (as many seeds are to prevent rotting when planted in damp soil). We absolutely never use any GMO seeds for our organic production, nor any fungicide treated seeds, nor seeds treated with a pelleted coating not approved for organic (it makes smaller seeds easier to plant).

Limited production and availability of certified organic seeds is becoming an issue for not only organic vegetables, but also organic grasses, legumes, and small grains. We grow, gather, and store many seeds from our own plants each year, but still need to rely on several items or varieties that specialized seed growers produce. Just like our organic costs are higher than conventional, organic seed producers have higher costs too resulting in organic seed being priced higher than non-organic seed. But, we are willing to pay what they ask as we know what goes into bringing those desired seeds to the marketplace.

If you know any aspiring young folks interested in organic agriculture, the preservation and production of organic seeds should be highly recommended to them for further exploration.

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

We are glad to include some asparagus for its final week of harvest.

Swiss Chard – organic
We always love when the Rainbow Swiss Chard is ready. The colors are so bright (hence a variety name of “Bright Lights”) to make preparing a good-for-you vegetable more fun. Chard is high in Vit. A, E, and C along with calcium and iron. Chard does not contain oxalic acid resulting in your body absorbing more of the minerals during digestion.You can enjoy the entire leaf including the whole stalk. Easy recipes include stir-fry, steaming, or sautéing. You can enjoy when raw, but we suggest using as a cooked green this week. Find a popular recipe below.

Lettuce, Head – organic
This week’s share is loaded up on lettuce, we have plenty at the farm and want to make sure you have an opportunity to get all you want this week. Every share size should contain a green butter-head (a Boston type lettuce, the butterheads are in same family as KY bibb) and a red romaine (an heirloom French variety, more tender than other romaines). Larger shares also contain a green romaine that is a very bright green and one of the best tasting of the many romaine varieties.

Spinach – organic
This week’s harvest is from a new patch just planted earlier in the spring. You can mix this with salad greens or enjoy it cooked. It can be used instead of chard in a favorite recipe included below.

Spring Salad Mix – organic
Our salad mix is only lettuce, no spicy greens included. It does not keep as long for you as whole lettuce heads since the individual leaves can dry out quicker in your air-cooled refrigerator. We rinse field dirt, but do not pack it for you ready-to-eat, so wash well just like all the vegetables.

Sugar Snap Peas – organic
The peas seem to be sweetening up a bit more with a few days of hot weather. Remember that the entire pod and peas inside are edible. You will want to snap the tiny end and pull the string from end to end before eating.

Strawberries – organic
We are trying to not pick these when they are wet from the rain or they get mushy. As a result, like last week, the berries are really ripe when harvested. And we have lost several due to the rain. You probably won’t have a problem using them soon (a benefit of picking when ripe is the extra sweet flavor). You also have the comfort of knowing they are grown organically.

Garlic Scapes – organic
A garlic scape is the center stalk of a hard neck garlic plant. Earlier this season, you had the entire green garlic plant including the stalk, leaves, and roots. The stalk grows above the ground and can be enjoyed many ways while we wait for the bulbs to fill out into cloves underground. Use the scapes in any manner you would use garlic cloves. Chop finely or use a processor. The flower head is also edible. You can make pesto; chop in salads; or sauté similar to green onions. Store refrigerated or in water in a vase.

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Easy Steamed or Sautéed Vegetable of the Week
Recipe shared by a member who has had success, so far, using asparagus one week and spinach the next. She is also planning this for green beans later on.

lemon juice
Dijon mustard
pine nuts (toasted with a little olive oil) *and/or *capers *and/or* garlic

Mix above ingredients with steamed or sautéed vegetable of the week.

Swiss Chard Pie
recipe adapted from From Asparagus to Zucchini

½ onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced (use your scapes instead)
2 T oil
1 bunch Swiss Chard
3 jumbo or 4 large eggs
½ C shredded cheese
½ tsp salt
1 pie crust

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Brown onion and garlic in oil. Trim and chop chard, add to pan, and cook down until wilted. Beat eggs in bowl; mix in cheese, salt and chard mixture. Pour into pie crust, bake until knife inserted into center comes out clean, 30-40 minutes.

Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas with Carrots and Honey Glaze
recipe from Farmer John’s Cookbook, as written serves 3 to 4

½ - 1 pound sugar snap peas
2 medium carrots, peeled
2 T butter
1 T honey
freshly ground black pepper

1. Remove the strings from both edges of the pea pods (start by gently pulling from the stem).

2. Cut each carrot into thirds. Slice each third, lengthwise, into quarters so that the slices are about the size and shape of the sugar snap peas.

3. Place the carrots in a steamer basket set over 1 ½ inches boiling water, cover and steam until they are just crisp tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain the carrots in a colander.

4. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sugar snap peas; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the carrots. Continue to cook and stir until the peas are bright green and crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Add the honey and cook for 1 more minute, stirring constantly, until the peas and carrots are thoroughly glazed with the honey.

5. Remove the skillet from heat. Season generously with pepper.