Monday, May 7, 2012

Welcome to the 2012 Season!

Welcome to the 2012 season of Elmwood Stock Farm’s Community Supported Agriculture program. Our goal is to provide you clean, tasty, beautiful, special, high quality fresh foods. We hope you enjoy eating fresh from the farm and have fun with the experience of sometimes trying new things!

Seasonal eating is an adventure. As each basket comes, you will be exposed to the new colors and flavors of foods you have never cooked with before, as well as familiar favorites. We have a few tips to help anyone through the adjustment period.

· Take a few minutes to assess your basket – look at the listing at top right to scan the contents - you might choose to utilize the swap basket at your pickup location. When you get home, decide what needs to be eaten fairly soon and what can wait until later in the week. A few minutes now will save you time later and often some items are more perishable than others – we will let you know what keeps well.

· Remember to wash your vegetables. We do not offer the produce ready to eat. Some items are rinsed and cooled before you get them, but this aids in removing dirt and reducing the field temperature – things we do to ensure better post-harvest quality.

· Try to refrigerate as soon as possible. This is the number one way to keep everything fresh. We do have tips to refresh greens or lettuce; let us know if you need help.

· Find recipes that fit your lifestyle from our newsletters, cookbooks or the internet. We have resources if you need them.

Our 22-week season is focused on the months of the year that vegetables flourish when grown in Central Kentucky. You start off with asparagus and spring greens; move to hot weather tomatoes, corn, and beans; then wind down in the fall with root crops and winter squashes. This is the normal production cycle.

This spring, the early heat accelerated the production of some spring items, so we may see a shorter season on a few items such as bok choy, asparagus, and strawberries. It also means lettuce, kale, and broccoli will be earlier than normal. Hope you enjoy this first week!

If you have never had fresh asparagus, you are in for a treat. You will want to remove any of the tough ends that grows right at ground level.  It is not necessary to cut the end on a long piece – just bend lightly until it breaks naturally.  Short stalks may not have to be trimmed if the ends are tender or you may want to lightly peel away the outer skin at the bottom of the stalk.  Enjoy raw,  boiled,  steamed, sautéed, baked, or roasted.  To store, put the cut ends in water in a drinking glass or bowl.  Or wrap in a wet paper towel and place inside a container in your refrigerator. 

Bok Choy – organic
This variety is not the same as the one we have grown in the past, and does have a different appearance: light green leaves with a velvety texture.  It has a milder flavor and pairs well with the flavors of ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. Combine with sautéed meat and rice or noodles and you have a complete meal!
Wrap bok choy in a damp towel or put it in a sealed  bag in the hydrator drawer of the refrigerator.  Leaves will lose integrity and wilt if allowed to dry out, but can still be cooked.  To freeze, chop, add to boiling water for 1 minute, cool, drain, and freeze in an airtight container for later use.

Green Garlic– organic
Resembling a green onion, the delicate green garlic can be enjoyed only in the spring before the plant’s energy is put into making a bulb under the ground.  Use all of the white and as much of the green you find tender - as you would a green onion – several inches up the stalk.  You can enjoy any way you would a scallion or green onion or in any recipe that calls for garlic: sauté in olive oil, chop in salad or pasta, make pesto, or add to soups.

Lettuce – organic

Strawberries – organic

Sweet Potatoes – organic

Onions - organic

Radishes – organic

Sweet Potato Hummus, a Sarah Britton recipe
2 C chickpeas, cooked
zest of 1 organic lemon, juice of ½ lemon
3 small sweet potatoes
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
2-3 pinches sea salt
3 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic (use your green garlic)

: Don't get too hung up on the quantities of ingredients with this recipe - it's hard to make a mistake! Use more or less sweet potato than called for, more or less chickpeas if that suits you (or even leave them out!), omit the cayenne or throw in more if you like it spicy. Just work with what you have and what tastes good to you.

Place sweet potatoes (with the skin on) in a baking dish in a 400 F oven and bake until very soft, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their size.
  Let the sweet potatoes cool down so that you can easily remove their skins - they should just peel off. Place them in a food processor with the remaining ingredients and blend on high to mix. 

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle of cracked black pepper, and whatever herb you have on hand. This is wonderful with raw veggies, healthy crackers, or pita bread.   This dip doubles as an amazing sandwich spread, particularly on crusty sourdough with avocado, sprouts, and fresh herbs. Finally, you can use as a thickener for soups and stews.

Stir-Fried Shanghai Bok Choy recipe from The Asian Grandmother Cookbook, an online web blog; serves 2-4 depending on if a side dish or main

1 T oil
3 garlic cloves, minced (use your green garlic!)
few sprinkles of salt to taste (or soy sauce/ fish sauce)
drizzle of sesame oil (optional)

Cut about ¼ -inch off the bottom of each plant. Rinse thoroughly to get rid of the dirt in between the stems.  Cut them crosswise into 1-inch pieces, keeping the stems and leaves separate.

Preheat a 14-inch wok or 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Swirl in the oil and wait until it starts to shimmer. Add the garlic and stir for 15 to 30 seconds until fragrant.

Raise the heat to medium-high, throw in the stems and toss to coat with oil and garlic for about 1 minute. Add the leaves and keep tossing until the leaves are just wilted.

Add the salt and stir until some liquid has been released and the vegetables are tender and bright green, another 1 to 2 minutes. If you’d like a little more “sauce,” add a tablespoon, or two, of water.  Drizzle with sesame oil, if desired, and serve immediately.

Asparagus Tart, thanks to a CSA member for sharing this recipe adapted from the website Ezra Poundcake.

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
2 C (about 6 oz) melting cheese such as Gruyere, Swiss, mozzarella, Fontina, Emmentaler
1 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed
1 T olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400° degrees F. Sprinkle counter with flour and place the puff pastry on top. Sprinkle extra flour on the pastry, and roll the pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Carefully place pastry on a baking sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. Using a fork, pierce dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 8 minutes. Remove pastry shell from oven, and sprinkle with cheese. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell. Arrange them in a single layer over cheese, alternating ends and tips by placing a layer with tips facing one direction, then another layer reversed. Brush with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until spears are tender, about 20 minutes.

Shaved Asparagus Pizza, adapted from the popular site, Thanks to a CSA member for trying out and sharing this yummy recipe, we have shared it before, but it is so easy, we had to offer it again!

1 pizza crust of your choice
½ lb asparagus
¼ C grated Parmesan
½ lb shredded mozzarella
2 tsp olive oil
½ tsp coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to highest temperature.  Preheating a pizza stone or pan will help to ensure a crispy crust. Holding a single asparagus spear by its tough end, lay it flat on a cutting board and using a vegetable peeler, create long shavings of asparagus by drawing the peeler from the base to the top of the stalk. Repeat with remaining stalks. Discard tough ends.

Toss peelings with olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Sprinkle pizza dough with Parmesan, then mozzarella. Pile asparagus on top. Bake pizza for 10 to 15 minutes, or until edges are browned, the cheese is bubbly and the asparagus might be lightly charred.

Optional:  Add red pepper flakes to asparagus mixture, sprinkle with your green garlic after baking or squeeze a lemon over top.  For a quick fix, omit cheeses and top a frozen cheese pizza with asparagus mixture.