Monday, June 8, 2009

CSA News, 5th Week

From the Farm . . .

As farmers our lives have always been in partnership with the seasons. If we don’t plant the seeds when the season is right for planting, we certainly won’t be successful in growing, tending, and harvesting a crop. This applies to all of our horticultural endeavors, our hay and grasses, also livestock breeding and poultry hatching. There are even better seasons for compost-making than others. And the seasons shape the microclimate of our farm, resulting in our lives revolving so much around the weather conditions and the weather forecast – as you have heard from us a time or two already . . . The inability to predict or control the climatic conditions is the BIG variable in every farmer’s life.

It is not easy to separate the work from the non-work on a farm, and often farmers don’t really see the need to. Only, if, and when, it is pointed out by someone else does this attempt to separate enter the conversation. (Sometimes this comes from one who views work as the negative and non-work as the positive in their own life.) Both our weekly work plan and our social time are reflected in the season and the farm’s needs at that particular time of the year.

We recognize that a farmer’s work includes many physical tasks, along with more paperwork than one can imagine, but also an ability to continually plan, adjust, problem-solve, readjust, analyze, study, observe, listen, react, care for, make-do, readjust again, communicate, coax, repair, and some level of optimism must be underlying in each of us. When the prized crop is 95% lost due to a pop-up hail storm, we are sad at our wasted efforts and lost opportunity, (and of course, affected finances), but we make plans to do it a little differently next year. In fact, we only get 50 or 60 chances (on a once-a-year crop), which is really not very many compared to other types of product production.

When the rains wash out the berries, all the water helps the greens and peas. The drought that slows the growth of the tomato or the melon will make their flavors much sweeter later.
One CSA member relayed to us his newly found attentiveness to the daily weather forecast now that he has a small vegetable plot in his own “back 40.” As you go through your daily life adjusting your plans to the weather or to fit the season, know that the food on your table has been through the same seasonal adjustments. Not just a partnership for the farmer, for you too!

In Your Share . . .
As always, shares may vary depending on your share size and day of harvest. Each share may not have each item listed.

Surprise! We are definitely winding down on this one.

Red Beets – organic
The rain has helped the early beets to size up nicely this week. We only included one or two this harvest so you might want to consider oven roasting this week and adding to salads. A popular beet and feta recipe is below.

Lettuce, Head – organic
Find a nice sized head of the green romaine lettuce in your share this week. It is one of our favorites as it retains a nice crisp flavor during these hot days – other varieties will bolt up to make flowers before ever sizing up to make heads.

We get questions about the appearance of our large romaine heads, as they are different than the bagged romaines found in the supermarkets. In larger lettuce production, usually at least half of the outer leaves are taken off of the heads and you only are able to purchase the hearts of the romaine. The outer wrapper leaves are left behind in the field, the middle leaves are washed and sanitized in the lettuce packing houses and they are then packed into food service boxes where they make their way into fast food joints, schools and chain restaurants who use them on burgers and sandwiches – the perfect size lettuce leaf, all ready to go, making burger building more efficient.

Larger size shares also contain a red leaf lettuce head, Rouge de Greno-blouse.

Spring Salad Mix – organic
Several of the lettuces will not make full heads before the heat of summer sets in. Our solution is to cut the leaves and bag as a spring salad mix. You will want to wash and dry your salad greens prior to eating.

Yellow Squash
Included is your first harvest of the season of the summer squash. It will keep well for you refrigerated (especially out of the drying air) and can be used later on in the week. The skin is soft since so fresh, so no need to peel, just discard the stem end.

Sugar Snap Peas – organic
We can enjoy one more harvest of the sweet peas this week. You may see some discoloration on the peapods this week that we described in an earlier newsletter – this rusting is a result of the heavy rains last week and our choice to grow these peas organically not using a preventative fungicide. The dark color on the pod will not hurt the flavor, but if you find it too unsightly, just shell out the sweet peas and lightly steam or sauté. You can also enjoy raw in a green salad or as a snack. It is surprising how many children have never shelled out their own peas! Keep peas refrigerated and use them early in the week if possible.

Find some tender green zucchini this harvest. You can prepare with the yellow squash, or use on its own. Enjoy raw in dips, grated into salads, steamed, fried, sautéed, stir-fry, baked in casseroles, or try some zucchini bread.

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Red Curry Beef, serves 4

Our thanks to a CSA member for this versatile and tasty recipe. She reports, “I have found this to be the best way I can use large quantities and wide varieties of greens. Amazingly, our 7 and 10 year-old kids even love it! I have also added other veggies thinly sliced.”

2 T canola oil
1½ T red curry paste
1T soy sauce
1T sugar
1 lb. ground beef
¼ C coconut milk
6 scallions, thinly sliced
5 oz. baby spinach (I also use Swiss chard, turnip greens, other root tops, etc.)
Zest and juice of ½ lime
½ C shredded fresh basil
½ C crushed unsalted peanuts

In skillet over medium heat, combine oil, curry paste, soy sauce & sugar. Cook about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add beef and sauté until cooked through. Stir in coconut milk and reduce to a simmer. Mix in scallions and spinach until just wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in limejuice & zest and basil. Serve over cooked rice, garnished with peanuts, or drain juices and serve in tortillas.

Salad Mix with Beets and Feta
adapted from Rock Spring Farm

Wash, dry, and tear your lettuce ready for salad toppings. Plan ahead to roast beets in advance.

2 tsp red wine vinegar
3 Tbs. olive or nut oil
1 lb roasted red beets
3 cups salad mix
1/4 lb feta cheese, crumbled

Whisk together the vinegar and oil to make vinaigrette. Add salt to taste. Slice the beets thinly and toss with a little bit of the vinaigrette. Combine the greens with the vinaigrette, and arrange over the beet slices. Crumble feta on top.

To Roast Beets:

Scrub beets and trim tops to 1 inch (leaving a little stem prevents the bleeding common with red beets). Place in foil, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap tightly. Oven roast 350-400 degrees or put on grill for 30 minutes – 1 hour depending on size of beets. Beets are done when can be easily pierced with a fork. Let cool and remove skins.