Monday, June 14, 2010

Week 6, CSA News

From the Farm . . .

Usually by this time in the “late spring–almost summer” season, we are dealing with too much heat and not enough rain, or continuously drizzly days with not enough sunshine. Not this season. This year’s spring season seems to be somewhat balanced without a really late freeze, but rather we have enjoyed consistent rainfall combined with good sunshine and warmth that our summer crops really love.

We started harvesting squash this week, soon to be followed by cucumbers, onions, garlic and beans. Sweet corn, potatoes, and the early tomatoes are coming along nicely, also peppers and eggplant. Later items that need a long growing season, like Brussels sprouts and celery, have been transplanted and their water irrigation lines are set up. We are putting more time into our perennial herb beds and flower production this year including edibles and cut flowers bouquets.

Good weather does bring the need for lots of work resulting in long, long days. While the farm crew tries to take at least one day off weekly, the farm itself does not –vegetables continue to ripen and are ready for harvest, the soil may be in prime condition for planting, the grasses are ready to be cut for hay, and the weeds keep growing. We have between 10 and 18 folks working at the farm each day depending on whether we are harvesting and packing CSA shares that day. At any given time, some of us may be planting, transplanting, mulching and weeding crops. Some are busy harvesting or washing; some counting out, sorting, and packing CSA boxes; some tending to animals or weed-eating around their electric fences; mowing and baling hay; hooking up the irrigation; stringing the tomatoes; loading the farmers market truck; turning the compost; mowing the pastures; and the list seems to go on.

One of the most important jobs at the farm is in the kitchen where our favorite farm chef prepares all of us a home cooked lunch each day using as many ingredients as possible grown here at the farm. We feel very fortunate to have freshly prepared organic food ready for us after a morning of hard, hot work and refuel us to go back out for more. We use the farm kitchen as a testing opportunity for new varieties of vegetables and as a place to utilize the not-so-perfect items that may get harvested but don’t pass our quality inspection during cleaning, sorting, and packing boxes. There’s nothing that goes into your CSA box that we haven’t tried ourselves. And, just like you, we often are surprised to find a new favorite vegetable!

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

Broccoli – organic

Cabbage, Green – organic
Your early head of green cabbage will keep several weeks when refrigerated. Fresh cabbage is sweet, juicy and more moisture content than fall crops. Cabbage contains Vit. E, calcium, more Vit. C than oranges, and many minerals.

Garlic Scapes - organic
Garlic scapes are the center stalks of the hard neck garlic plant. Early in the season, you had the green garlic leaves and last week the green garlic whole plant. Scapes can be enjoyed in many dishes while we wait for the bulbs to fill out into cloves underground. Use as you would use garlic cloves. Chop finely or use a processsor since some stalks can be fibrous. The heads are also edible. You can make pesto; chop in salads; or sauté similar to green onions. Store refrigerated or in water in a vase; can be finely chopped, then frozen.

Lettuce Head - organic
Our harvest this week is from all three lettuce beds, cutting our last heads that have not yet been affected by the heat. As a result, your share contains any one of nine varie-ties – probably the last whole head for a while. Find a new dressing recipe below.

Onions, Yellow – organic
Find a couple of onions from our first harvest of the year. Though these are a yellow variety of traditional bulb onions, they have not been dried and cured as your later storage onions will be. Just store in the pantry and use within a couple of weeks.

Summer Squash, Yellow and Green Zucchini
One of the most versatile summer vegetables, the squash can be enjoyed raw when sliced small, or cooked in many ways. When squash is harvested smaller, the skin is tender and it is unnecessary to peel. Also, the seeds are smaller and easier to digest. When harvested fresh, the flavor is strongest before the squash loses moisture through natural evaporation. Just remove the stem end before preparing and store refrigerated.

Fennel – organic
The long stalks with hairy fern-like leaves are your fresh fennel bulbs and fronds. It has a long history as a popular item grown in ancient Greece. Fennel is known to aid in digestion, cure poor eyesight, help a nervous condition, and even repel insects. Store refrigerated and realize that the anise aroma will spread throughout your fridge. You can separate the leaves from the bulb to store if you want to keep in closed containers. Fennel is quite popular as a fresh herb seasoning with baked or broiled fish along with lemon.

If you think you don’t like fennel, try this tip from Two Small Farms in California: chop like celery and cook with onion when you’re starting a chili or spaghetti sauce. There will be no anise flavor at all and you will have used up the fennel.

Edible Flowers - organic

Recipes to Enjoy

Garlic Scape Pesto
This recipe is shared by a member who found it on the internet when researching garlic scapes.

1 C garlic scapes (about 7-8), top flowery part removed, cut into ¼ inch slices
1/3 C walnuts
¾ C olive oil
¼ - ½ C grated parmigiano
½ tsp salt
black pepper to taste

Place scapes and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and whiz until well combined and somewhat smooth. Slowly drizzle in oil and process until integrated. With a rubber spatula, scoop pesto out of bowl and into a mixing bowl. Add parmigiano to taste; add salt and pepper. Makes about 6 ounces of pesto. Keeps for up to one week in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For ½ pound short pasta such as penne, add about 2 Tablespoons of pesto to cooked pasta along with 2 Tablespoons of the pasta water and stir until pasta is well coated.

Caesar Dressing with Garlic Scapes
A member shared this recipe and reports, “If you enjoy the stinky, pungent Caesar dressing at a certain Down-Under restaurant, you'll love this. Substitute a good handful of chopped garlic scapes and a few flower heads in place of the chopped garlic to put those scapes to good use.”

1 C eggs, beaten
1 ¼ oz crushed fresh garlic (or substitute a handful of chopped garlic scapes--the tender ends--and some flower heads)
3 ½ oz grated Parmesan cheese
2 2/3 T red wine vinegar or rice vinegar
1 T fresh lemon juice

1 T salt
1 T black pepper
1 T dry mustard
1 ½ oz anchovy paste or 1 can of drained anchovies
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ C olive oil (vary the amount of olive oil to change consistency to your preference)

Throw all the ingredients in a blender and pulverize. Will keep about 1 week refrigerated. Makes 1 quart or so, depending on how much olive oil you use.

Roasted Squash & Fennel with Thyme
Our thanks to a CSA member for this versatile recipe. Use your favorite fresh herb! Makes 4 servings, about 2/3 cup each.

2 small summer squash (about 12 ounces)
1½ C sliced fennel bulb (about 1 small bulb), plus 1 T chopped fennel fronds, divided
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 T chopped fresh thyme
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
¼ C thinly sliced garlic

Preheat oven to 450°F. Quarter squash lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Combine the squash with sliced fennel, oil, thyme, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Spread the mixture evenly on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and roast until the vegetables are tender and the fennel is beginning to brown, about 5 minutes more. Stir in fennel fronds and serve.