Thursday, May 16, 2013

Welcome or Welcome Back!

Spring is very much in place as we begin the 2013 Summer CSA season at Elmwood Stock Farm. Thank-you for signing on to be a shareholder with us, some of you for the first time, others of you have shared the bounty and beauty of the farm for many years. Old man winter hung around pretty much through March and some of April this year, very different than the record warmth in the spring of 2012. Strawberries are blooming nicely as we begin the CSA season, when last year they were past the peak when it started. Garlic, asparagus, and spinach over-wintered well. 

We had great germination in the greenhouse this year, in part to our special blend of homemade compost and potting soil. We also converted the old stripping room into a germination room. (A stripping room is where you strip the tobacco leaves from the stalk for baling, not a place to get ready for skinny dippin’ in Elkhorn Creek.) In our new well -insulated germ room, we can use our vacuum seeder to seed the trays, then stack them in the germination chamber. This is a curtained off area with high heat and humidity to uniformly stimulate the root radicle of the seed to break the seed coat and search for nutrients. We immediately transport the trays to the greenhouse, where it is warm enough to grow, but the open space has variable temperatures, less conducive to germination. Therefore, the plants are very uniform is size and stage of maturity, which creates efficiencies in transplanting, cultivation and harvesting. The new room will also greatly improve our ability to germinate seeds for fall production, by cooling with an air conditioner if needed. These seeds need to be germinated in August but the cool-weather crops are programmed not to germinate at those hot temperatures.

Albeit cool lately, we have been able to prepare the fields and plant both seeds and set the transplants for the early crops. The numerous types of lettuces are looking great, just smallish. The various crucifers like kale, collard, cabbage, broccoli, turnips, and mustard are well established and ready to grow. We have been able to plant the peas, beets, radishes, and carrots. Now that Derby Day is past, we want to set out the true summer crops, just waiting for the next time the fields are in the right condition, hoping not too late.

We have been doing our part, now it is time for you to do your part. We work to have your share delivered on time to the specified pick up location each week. If you are to get chicken, beef, or eggs they will be in insulated containers next to the vegetable shares. Be sure to pick your items up during the specified time and know what you are supposed to get. When you have another family member or friend pickup your share, be specific about what they are to retrieve since they are less familiar with the process. Be sure to check the delivery sheet and sign to verify your order. Please bring back your previous week’s box, as the price for them has tripled since we started CSA shares, and we have not factored boxes that disappear into the price of the share. Some people prefer to bring their own market bags to transport their items home rather than have the responsibility of keeping up with the box. Those of you, whose shares are delivered in a bag, please recycle these.
We will share some news from the farm with you each week in this newsletter. Feel free to ask questions about things you would like to know, or current events around good food and healthy eating.  Please share with us your favorite recipe.  Thanks for your support.

In Your Share

Fresh Asparagus is such a treat compared to frozen or jarred!  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 glass or bowl, or wrap in a wet paper towel and place inside a container in your refrigerator. 

Black Turtle Beans prepared by traditional cultures whose cuisines are based on legumes do so with great care.  Beans are soaked for long periods before they are cooked.  The soaking water is poured off and the beans are rinsed.  As the beans cook, the foam that rises to the top is skimmed off.  Such care ensures that the legumes will be thoroughly digestible, and that phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are neutralized to make the nutrients available for absorption.  Beans marry well with all sorts of spices, and they are particularly synergistic with sour foods. Add lemon juice or liquid from fermented vege-tables to bean and lentil soups.  Bean dishes go very well with sauerkraut and other lacto-fermented vegetables.  In salads, beans are enhanced by onions.  

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

Fresh Spinach can be enjoyed fresh in salads, or lightly steam or sauté. You should taste extra sweetness as the plants have been through several nights of frosty weather that brings out the flavor!  Keep protected from drying air in the fridge.  When ready to eat, use a salad spinner after rinsing to remove excess water, as you should on all leafy salad greens. 

Sweet Potato is a source for absorbable beta-carotene; it digests slowly and will not spike blood sugar; it contains high Vit. E offering antioxidants to help protect us from free radicals.  Knowing how much the sweet potato offers helps to love it even more!  These are one of the most popular new items of the season.  Leave the fingerling potatoes whole with no need to peel, drizzle with olive oil, lay out on a baking sheet, oven roast until done, turning halfway through if desired.  Salt or desired seasonings can be added, but really not necessary.  Sweet potato fries!

Recipes to Enjoy

Spring Lettuce Salad with Roasted Asparagus, adapted from food and

1 pound medium asparagus
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
10 ounces mixed spring lettuces
1 ½ ounce piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved into curls with a vegetable peeler

Preheat the oven to 450°F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the asparagus with 1 tablespoon of the oil and the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for about 8 minutes, until just tender and the tips begin to turn brown.
In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the mustard and the remaining 1/3 cup of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the lettuces with all but 2 tablespoons of the dressing. Arrange the salad on plates and top with the roasted asparagus and cheese curls. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the asparagus and serve.

Breakfast Burrito with Spinach our thanks to a long-time CSA member who has shared many recipes with us over the seasons, including this delicious breakfast dish, it can be enjoyed really any time of the day!

1 egg
1 whole grain tortilla
cheddar cheese
spinach (a couple of large handfuls)
cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Remove tough stems and chop larger leaves, then sauté spinach in a little butter or olive oil over medium heat. Beat egg slightly with salt and pepper, then add to pan with spinach.  Cook, stirring frequently a couple of minutes until eggs reach desired consistency. While eggs are cooking, warm tortilla in microwave, oven, or another skillet.  Fill warm tortilla with egg and spinach mixture; top with cheese, salsa and cilantro.  For an even faster but less attractive preparation, add everything except tortilla to skillet with sautéed spinach and scramble all together.
Easy Spinach Black Bean and Guacamole Tostadas, thanks to a member for sharing this recipe, you can use your Elmwood black beans after already cooked
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
8 corn tortillas
1 (14.5 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 T taco seasoning
8 cups baby spinach
2 avocados
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 lime
1 pinch coarse salt
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly brush the corn tortillas with the oil. Cooking spray is fine too. Arrange them on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 4 minutes on one side. Flip and bake 4 more minutes, or until crispy. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring the beans to a medium-low heat. Add the taco seasoning, a few of the cilantro leaves and a good pinch of salt. Toss to combine. Keep it on low while you make the rest of the meal.

Bring a large skillet to a medium heat. Add the spinach and toss to wilt, 2 minutes.
In a small bowl, add the two avocados, the rest of the cilantro, about 2 Tbs. of the lime juice, another pinch of taco seasoning, and a pinch of salt. Mash until you get a smooth guacamole.

Layer a little of the spinach on each crispy tortilla. Top with seasoned beans, shredded cheese and a dollop of guacamole.