Monday, May 16, 2016

CSA News, Week 3

Working Up Your Weekly Share

Committing to 22 weeks of fresh, organic vegetables means you've committed to a whole season—and then some—of the best food you can find for your family.

The produce you get each week has been cleaned and cooled to preserve that just-picked freshness and flavor. The pick-up schedule is timed so you can retrieve your share and quickly get the veggies tucked away in your kitchen and/or refrigerator. We take great pride in sending you top-quality products—please do your part to keep it that way until it's time to eat.

When you get your share and head home, try to keep it out of the sun and away from drafty, open windows. Secure it so it doesn't get squished by other stuff you may be hauling around. When you get home, the default mode is to get most items back into refrigeration as soon as possible, except for tomatoes. As we move through the season, try to take a few moments to work up your share when you get it home. Some people go ahead and cut up their vegetables for quick and easy meal prep for busy nights. 

Because we harvest strawberries at peak ripeness—rather than days or weeks before full ripeness like supermarket berries – they are tender, full of flavor, and your refrigeration holds them right where they need to be. Still, they should be eaten sooner in the week. 

The asparagus will hold in the fridge a few days, although the tips may curl upward if laid flat, as they are continuing to grow and trying to angle toward the sun. This is why you see them standing up on ice at retail outlets. If saving asparagus for the weekend, rinse them and stand them up in a dish of shallow water in the refrigerator.

Leafy Greens
Most all of our produce is put through a two-basin cold-water wash and rinse system right after harvest, but is not considered plate-ready. The first basin washes off soil that came with the vegetables from the field, and the second rinses it with clean tap water, but equally as important, these steps take out the field heat and rehydrate the leaves through their stomata, which are the pores all over the leaves. (Incidentally, if you've noticed fresher produce tastes better, consider the stomata. Grocery-store vegetables are breathing out moisture all during their long truck ride from a farm on the other side of the country. How would you look and feel after riding a bus from California?) If leafy greens in your share appear limp, simply rinse them off and submerge them in cold water for a while, shake off the excess moisture or spin, and then place their container in the fridge so they can crisp up.

Leafy greens are still transpiring moisture through those same stomates (the pores all over their leaves), which is why we often bag them for delivery and storage, but lettuce heads or bunched greens may be delivered open in your share. We don't want to overwhelm you with plastic bags, but plastic bags or other closed containers are the best way to store greens in the refrigerator. Wash and drain them, using a salad spinner, if you have one—and if you don't have one, consider getting one!

We expect you to eat your greens every week, and we make no apologies for sending them to you each week. Be it red Russian, green curly or black lacinato kale; curly mustard; turnip greens; collards; or rainbow Swiss chard, you will find creative ways to  eat them often. The health benefits of these greens are widely known. In years past, we on the farm have had a New Year’s resolution to eat greens on a daily basis. Now, it is just something we do without question. 

With all the many recipes available—including those that we include in this newsletter— you will find a few you like, and you might stick with them. We simply stem 'em and steam ‘em. They keep well after cooking as easy leftovers, too. Kale salads last several days and may even get better as the flavors meld in the fridge. 

These greens may also be referred to as crucifers or brassicas in the popular press. Farmers call them cole crops—but everybody thinks we are saying cold crops, which is not entirely inaccurate, as they grow best in cooler conditions. Broccoli and cabbage are also in this family of foods.

The ABCs of Using Your CSA
All of the produce that you'll get in your CSA share can be overwhelming at first glance, but we're here to help you use every last bit of it. If you can take a few minutes to read this newsletter, we will point out how to store your share. You'll also see what all is available for the week, read some recipes you might not have considered before and have a chance to do some menu planning, which will optimize your CSA experience. New this year, we're offering two series of on-farm events—you probably saw the email announcement about our farm tours last week—and some of the events in the evening Culinary Tour Series are aimed at working up your weekly CSA share. The first Culinary Tour is The ABCs of Using Your CSA, next Tuesday, May 24, 6 to 8 pm. Read more HERE. You can rest assured there are no pesticide residues to worry about on the food you receive from us. We are militant about organic, so you can eat in peace. Go ahead and have a little fun: Play with your food. —Mac Stone

In Your Share:

Bok Choy


Ginger-Rhubarb Sauce, adapted from strawberryplum
Serve this decadent sauce over yogurt, ice cream or other dessert. If you have any ginger frozen from last year’s CSA shares, this is an excellent use for it, as frozen ginger grates easily.

1 c. sliced rhubarb (about 2 medium stalks)

½ c. sugar

1-2 inch piece ginger root, grated

1 T. fresh orange juice

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the rhubarb has broken down and the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and cool completely.

Shiitake and Bok Choy Stir-Fry, adapted from The Simple Art of Vegetarian Cooking

6 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms

1 lb. bok choy

¼ tsp. honey

salt & pepper

1 T. soy sauce or tamari

1 T. rice wine or sherry

¼ c. plus 2 T. vegetable stock or water

1 tsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder

1 T. sunflower or grapeseed oil

3 tsp. minced garlic

3 tsp. minced ginger

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

Remove stems from mushrooms and quarter mushroom caps. Simmer stems in 2 C water for 20 minutes. Strain. Slice bok choy crosswise into ¾-inch pieces. Combine honey, salt, pepper, soy sauce, rice wine and 1/4 C stock in a bowl. Make a slurry with cornstarch and 2 T of stock. Heat a wok or skillet over high heat. Swirl in oil, add garlic, ginger and red-pepper flakes; then mushroom caps. Pour in ¼ C of mushroom stock, and cook for 1 minute, until stock is evaporated. Add bok choy and stir for 1 minute. Add the honey and soy sauce mixture. Stir until bok choy is crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add slurry. Stir for 1 minute. Serve over rice or noodles. Add leftover chicken, shrimp, tofu or tempeh to this dish for protein. Serves 4.

Gluten-Free Strawberry Crumble, adapted from

Consider putting some of your fresh strawberries into a simple dessert treat. You can also combine them with other berries, apples or peaches—whatever you have on hand.

1 1/2 cups strawberries

2 T. lemon juice

3 T. gluten-free flour, divided

1 c. old-fashioned oats

2 T. brown sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. salt

2 T. grapeseed oil

2 T. maple syrup

2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat baking dish with butter. In a small bowl, mix the strawberries, lemon juice and 1 T of flour until blended. Set aside. In a medium bowl, mix oats, the remaining flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt together until mixed. In a separate bowl, whisk oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Stream into the oat mixture and stir with a fork until all the liquid is well-incorporated into the dry. Spoon 1/3 C of the topping ingredients into the strawberry mixture and stir. Pour the strawberry mixture into the baking dish and cover with the oat mixture. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until the strawberries are tender and the topping is golden brown and crisp. Serves 4.