Monday, May 17, 2010

CSA News, Week 2

We thank the many of you that were able to come out for the CSA member farm tour. As we are not set up to regularly host groups or tours with adequate parking and bathrooms, it takes a little planning for us to host you and we appreciate you taking the time to come to the farm. We love what we do in growing healthy, clean food and appreciate the opportunity to share our knowledge of organic production systems with you. The weather did cooperate and many of you remarked how you enjoyed being able to spend time here viewing the crops in the fields, transplants in the greenhouses, berries in the high tunnel, the compost system, the heritage breed turkeys, and the laying hens (maybe the most popular with the kids). It is possible we can do another tour day in the fall, but production and filling your boxes each week has to come first, of course. We hope you can now picture Elmwood when opening your box of vegetables each week from “your CSA farm.”

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

This week’s harvest of asparagus is a little less than last time. We know it is one of the most popular items and it is why we start the CSA program so early in May. This year the asparagus started poking up through the soil a full two weeks earlier than last year since we had nice warm days in April – and we had to begin harvesting before CSA started. The overall product-ion of the asparagus plants is usually about 4-6 weeks, so it is likely asparagus will not be in the shares many more weeks. Enjoy what we are able to harvest now; find a new recipe below.

Garlic Greens - organic
Use these fresh garlic greens as you would green onions – and use in any recipe calling for garlic. The roots are edible as are the white and green parts of the stalk. The flat leaf gets a little tough. Store refrigerated – even if the leaves turn a little yellow, the stalk will remain fresh to use for up to 4 weeks. This plant is the best way to cook with fresh garlic in the spring time of the year.

Alice Waters and many others have developed Green Garlic Soups using these garlic stalks – we included an easy and popular version from James Peterson below.

Kale Greens – organic
Find the first harvest of your heavy cooking greens this season. The red-stemmed kale is similar to the curly green kale you might be more familiar with. It will store for a week or more refrigerated. To prepare for cooking, cut or tear the heavy stem from the leaf. You can either leave the leaves whole if your cooking time is long enough to let the leaf become tender – or you can cut your leaves into strips for faster cooking. Kale can be stir fried, steamed, or braised. We have several recipes in past season newsletters.

Lettuce Heads - organic
All shares should contain both the green butterhead variety along with the red oak leaf variety of lettuce today. Largest shares also have an heirloom red romaine head.

These are young heads of lettuce, so they are especially tender. You can store the lettuce heads in the fridge for several days – whole heads do keep longer than leaves. To keep lettuce at optimal freshness, the sooner you can rinse and refrigerate it, the longer it will keep for you. For salad, wash and tear heads into desired size; use a salad spinner to remove excess water. Lettuce will keep better and hold your dressing without it slipping off and becoming watery. Store in a bag, bowl or other container in the refrigerator and cover to protect from the blowing air that will dry out the leaves. If this does happen, soak lettuce in cold water for 10-15 minutes to re-hydrate, then spin off the water to enjoy.

Fresh Thyme – organic
You can use fresh, or hang to dry. Remove the leaves from the stem before chopping. The flowers are also a tasty treat.

Strawberries – organic
Even with all of the rainfall, we can harvest the berries for your shares since we are growing them in the high tunnel this year. While the ends and sides are still open to the weather, our production system of mulching the plants and using an overhead cover keep the berries from becoming soggy and mud-splashed. We do harvest them as ripe as we can to ensure you get the full flavor. So, enjoy as soon as possible – store refrigerated if needed.

Bok Choy - organic
Use both the stalk and the leafy greens, either together in a dish, or chopped and prepared separately. If stir-frying, add the stalks first as they cook a little longer than the more tender greens. Store refrigerated in a closed container, leaves will wilt slightly prior to the stalk, but it is to be expected and taste will not change.

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Asparagus, Goat Cheese and Lemon Pasta
Our thanks to a CSA member who shard this recipe adapted from Bon Appetit. You will not have a full pound of asparagus in your share, so you may want to adjust the quantity of pasta and cheese also.

1 pound spiral-shaped pasta
1 pound slender asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon plus more for garnish (substitute fresh thyme or sage)
1 5-to 5 1/2-ounce log soft fresh goat cheese (the pre-crumbled stuff will not melt as well)
Fresh lemon juice to taste (optional)

Cook your pasta in a large pot of well-salted water until it is almost tender, or about three minutes shy of what the package suggests. Add asparagus and cook until firm-tender, another two to three minutes. Drain both pasta and asparagus together, reserving one cup of pasta water.

Meanwhile, combine olive oil, lemon peel, tarragon and cheese in a large bowl, breaking up the goat cheese as you put it in. Add hot pasta and asparagus to bowl, along with a couple slashes of the pasta water. Toss until smoothly combined, adding more pasta water if needed. Season generously with salt and pepper, and lemon juice if you feel it needs a little extra kick. (We did.) Serves 6.

Green Garlic Soup
adapted from a James Peterson recipe

1 ½ pounds garlic greens
2 T butter
3 ½ C broth
½ C heavy cream (optional, for creamy soup)
salt and pepper to taste

Cut most of flat leaves away, leaving inch or so of dark green above the white portion. Cut off roots and discard. Cut into pieces to fit into deep skillet with butter and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Add stock and bring to simmer over high heat. Turn heat down to low and simmer gently for 10 minutes more. Use hand blender in pan to puree, or carefully puree in blender for 1 minute. Work through strainer into a clean pot with the back of a ladle. Add cream, if desired, bring to a simmer and season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Provencal Bok Choy
Thanks to a CSA member who found this awesome recipe on She reports “It was easy to prepare. There are a lot of strong flavors (orange zest, tomatoes, olives, thyme, parsley) which really stand up to the bok choy and are a definite change from the stir-fry route we usually take. There might be others on the fence about bok choy who might like to give it a try.” Makes 6 servings.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped (from your share)
2 teaspoon chopped thyme (from your share)
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
3 (3-by 1-inch) strips orange zest
3 pounds bok choy (2 to 3 heads), cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces (from your share)
1 pound tomatoes (3 medium), chopped
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat oil in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then sauté garlic with thyme, bay leaf, and zest until garlic is pale golden and mixture is very fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add bok choy, tomatoes, olives, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bok choy is crisp-tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Discard bay leaf and stir in parsley.