Monday, May 21, 2012

Week 3, CSA

A Day in the Life of Your Share
We know you are excited each week to see what bounty from Elmwood is in the share you will be eating. Did you stop to think about how it all got in there? How much of each item there is? Here is the story of how your share comes together. 

Each morning, well before sun-up, we are detailing the “pick list” of items we know are ripe and ready for you. With multiple plantings and multiple varieties, there are many decisions to be made simply to come up with items for the list. Often we are out at first light to confirm our plan from crop scouting the day before. The pick list is given to the harvest crew with specific instructions in regard to how many of what size and the best order to harvest, in order to facilitate the rest of the schedule.  Most of the harvest crew have been working together for many years, and know the importance of selecting the best quality to load in the tubs to bring in from the field.  Your produce is rinsed and any damaged leaves are removed.  It is sorted to then divide into the individual shares.  The pick list is updated to confirm an adequate amount of produce was harvested for that day’s delivery. Washing not only cleans field dirt from the produce, but also gets the heat out very efficiently and begins post-harvest cooling.  The freshly washed produce is placed into containers and wheeled into the walk-in cooler, to further chill the product, which greatly extends shelf life in your home. 
Others at the farm are busy “metering out” the produce into the pre-determined portion size for that day’s shares.  We do lots of counting at Elmwood Stock Farm. The goal is to have all of the produce cooled, metered and counted before we all sit together and enjoy a harvest meal of our homegrown food. After lunch, we set up all the various items along “the line”, which is a passive roller conveyor. The entire crew then lines up, each with the responsibility of filling the share with “their” items.  They then place the items in the box or bag as it is passed from one person to the next along the line. The shares go directly on the truck as they come off the line or onto a pallet and back in the cooler for later delivery. The truck heads out to be on time to accommodate your busy schedules. Others of us stay at the farm to break down the packing line, organize empty containers, and prepare for the next day. The afternoon is when the crew works in the fields, planting, pruning, weeding, staking, tying, etc.
So enjoy your share, knowing how much care and consideration goes into an efficient process of providing you the freshest possible share of organic produce at the appointed time.

In Your Share
Black Eyed Peas – organic
This variety, Mississippi Silver, is one of the tastiest of the field peas most frequently grown in the South.  Traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day to bring good luck, we suggest the health benefits of this legume (calcium, folate, Vitamin A) will bring you prosperity every time you eat it.  You can make fritters, hummus, Hoppin’ John, or pair with fresh greens for a delicious one-dish meal.

Broccoli – organic
Chinese Napa Cabbage– organic
Described as a cabbage that cabbage-haters love, this Asian specialty combines the thin, crisp texture of lettuce with the fresh peppery tang of juicy cabbage.  Our open head variety resembles a ruffled leaf lettuce.  Try this cabbage in soups, baked, or braised; also lightly cook by steaming, stir-fry, blanching.  Refrigerate for longer storage.
Lettuce – organic

Garlic - organic
Kale Greens – organic
Recipes to Enjoy

Asparagus and Cream Cheese Sandwich  Thanks to a CSA member for this delicious recommendation.

1 lb of fresh asparagus, chopped in 1-inch pieces
¾ to 1 lb of cream cheese, softened
1 T of tarragon or other herb
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon juice and/or zest to taste
1/2 C of finely grated Parmesan cheese
Softened butter
8 slices of good quality crusty bread such as sour dough

Boil or steam the chopped asparagus for 3 minutes and then submerge in cold water.
Mix the cooked asparagus with the softened cream cheese, herbs, salt and pepper, and lemon juice or zest. Spread one side of each slice of bread with softened butter, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, pressing into butter Spread 1/4 of the cream-cheese/asparagus filling on a slice of bread on the non-coated side, and top with another slice, leaving the Parmesan-coated sides on the outside. Grill assembled sandwiches over moderate heat in skillet or griddle, turning once so each side is browned.  Make 4 sandwiches.

Alternate directions:  Toss asparagus with olive oil and lightly roast in 400° oven. Follow directions above to assemble sandwiches. Place assembled sandwiches on a greased sheet and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, turning over once so both sides are browned.

Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Fresh Greens, adapted from a Lorna Sass recipe

3 C organic chicken or vegetable stock (or use water)
1 C black-eyed peas
1 bunch fresh greens (kale or collard, or 1 bag frozen
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 ½ tsp dried thyme, divided
1 pinch cayenne, (or crushed red pepper flakes)
salt to taste

Soak the peas overnight in cold water. Pick out any unusea-bles, drain water, and rinse.  In a large soup pot bring stock/ water and peas to a boil.  Meanwhile, wash the greens, discarding any thick stems.  Chop into 1-inch strips.  Once peas are boiling, add the collards, onions, celery, garlic, ½ tsp thyme, and cayenne.  Bring to a boil again, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer at least 1 hour.  Stir in salt to taste, another 1 T dried thyme, and cook another 20-40 minutes until peas are tender and tasty.  For extra spice, serve with hot sauce.

Chinese Cabbage Salad
from Asparagus to Zucchini, serves 6 to 8.
5 C chopped Chinese cabbage
¾ C sliced or shredded radish
1 ½ C chow mien noodles, crunchy ones
1 C crushed peanuts
¼ C sesame seeds
2 T rice vinegar
4 T sesame oil
3 T soy sauce
1 T honey
½ - 1 tsp dry mustard
Combine cabbage, radishes, noodles, peanuts and sesame seeds.  Mix remaining ingredients in separate bowl.  Toss with cabbage, using just enough dressing to suit your taste.

Avocado and Asparagus Hot Fried Egg Sandwiches, a Better Homes and Gardens recipe

1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and chopped
1 tsp lime juice
½ lb asparagus, trimmed
2 T butter
4 organic Elmwood eggs
8 slices favorite white, wheat or brioche bread, toasted
8 slices crisp-cooked bacon (optional)

In a small bowl, mash avocado with limejuice, set aside.
Place asparagus in a single layer in shallow baking pan.  Cover with about 2 C of boiling water.  Let stand for 10 to 12 minutes, until bright green and crisp-tender.  Drain.  Finely chop 3 of the asparagus spears and stir into mashed avocado; set aside remaining spears.
Meanwhile, in large skillet melt butter over medium heat.  Break eggs into skillet.  Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook eggs for 6 minutes, until whites are completely set and yolks begin to thicken.  If desired, turn eggs to fully cook yolks.
Spread avocado-asparagus mixture on 4 slices of bread.  Sprinkle with salt.  Layer bacon (if using), egg, asparagus spears, and remaining bread.  Makes 4 sandwiches.

Lettuce Soup
Our thanks to Chef Carolyn for this recipe, a tasty use for any extra lettuce.  Photographs and other tips are posted on her website, The Wholesome Chef

1 medium onion
2 garlic clove, chopped
3 T ghee (clarified butter)
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 medium gold potatoes, diced
4 medium-sized heads of coarsely chopped lettuce leaves including ribs (I used the red leaf variety)
3 C water

Sauté onion and garlic in 2 T ghee on medium-low heat in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in potato, lettuce and water and simmer, until potato is very tender.  Purée soup in batches. Serve warm with a drizzle of walnut oil!