Monday, May 2, 2016

New Summer Season 2016, Week 1


Thank you for signing on to be a shareholder of Elmwood Stock Farm's 2016 Summer Season CSA. Here in our 12th year, we welcome many new members along with lots of early adopters from the beginning of our program. You can expect to enjoy a bounty of wholesome, organic produce throughout the summer. We expect you will try many new recipes, learn more about the value of consuming organic foods and feel better to boot.

Generally speaking, shares each year follow a bit of a seasonal trend. The shares are often smaller in the first few weeks. We start out early because we want you to benefit from the perennial crops we have on the farm—namely, the asparagus and strawberry harvest, although the early strawberry crop was hurt by freezing temperatures this year so will be later than we'd like. The CSA shares will swell dramatically in the summer and then trail off a bit in the fall. We track the value of each week's share closely to ensure you get the full value of your investment in our farm. When we have bountiful harvests, we often send out extra for everyone to enjoy. A CSA membership allows you to share in our farm's rewards as well as our risks.

Every year, we expect Mother Nature to surprise us—perhaps the biggest risk of all—but we did not expect to have record-cold nights in April with outrageous winds, quickly followed by numerous days over 80 degrees with very little rain! There will be many more weather-related experiences intertwined with our livelihood, which is what farming is all about. The rains last week really helped the young plants in the field; we are thankful we did not have to hook up the irrigation systems this early in the season. The next rain could be the first of many weeks of rain, like last year, or it could be the last for many weeks or even months, as in years past. You just never know.

Your Weekly Share
Your weekly share will be a bit like a surprise package each week, as you don’t know exactly what’s in it until you unpack it. We suggest you look at this newsletter for tips on storage and cooking, along with a riveting story in this space. The inventory list here may help you identify some veggie you are not familiar with, too. 

At some CSA pickup locations, your share will be packed in a box, and we expect you to return the box to us the next week, as these add up to be a great expense to our program. Please go ahead and put the box back in your car so you won’t forget, or at least store it in a clean place. If you are out of town or cannot be at your pick-up location on time, please ask a friend to secure your share for you.

When you get your CSA share home, it is best to get most items into the refrigerator as quickly as possible. If anything doesn't belong in the fridge, we'll say so in this newsletter. We always recommend that you use the more perishable items early in the week, saving some of the heartier items for later. 

Before you use any produce from your CSA share—or any produce at all, for that matter—remember to wash your vegetables. We do not offer the produce ready to eat. Some items are rinsed and cooled after we pick them, but this only aids in removing dirt and reducing the field temperature—things we do to ensure better post-harvest quality.

At Elmwood Stock Farm, we have a strong sense of responsibility to honor your commitment and expectations of securing wholesome, organic foods for you, your family your and friends. Knowing what we have learned about food production over the years, you can be assured you are getting nothing but the best. 

You are now eating like an organic farmer—pretty cool, huh? We expect you are going to have fun with your CSA share, enjoy some awesome flavors and share your knowledge with others. —Mac Stone
In Your Share

Corn Meal
Fresh Herbs
Green Onions
Pea Shoots


Asparagus with Garlic, adapted from The New York Times, serves 2.

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
½ lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-in. diagonal pieces
1 ½ tsp. chopped sage or oregano
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the asparagus and salt to taste. Sauté until the asparagus is tender and the skin has shriveled slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and continue to sauté for another minute. Adjust salt, add the pepper and herbs, and serve. 
Spinach Salad with Bacon and Shitakes, adapted from epicurious
¼ lb. smoked bacon
3 ½ tsp. olive oil
¾ lb. shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps quartered
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 ½ T. fresh lemon juice
½ T. red-wine vinegar
½ T. coarse-grain mustard
½ tsp. black pepper
6 oz. spinach leaves
1 green onion, sliced thin
6 radishes, cut into matchsticks

Cut bacon into 3/4-inch-thick matchsticks, and cook in a heavy skillet over moderately low heat, stirring, until crisp but still chewy, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Pour off fat from skillet and add 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, mushrooms and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden, about 8 minutes. Cool.  Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large salad bowl until blended.  Combine all ingredients and toss.  

Kale and Hot Sausage Pasta, adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen
12 oz. hot Italian sausage, already browned
8 oz. kale leaves, thinly sliced (about 12 cups thinly sliced kale)
6 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
3 T. olive oil
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2 cups chicken stock
1 lb. rotini pasta
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
In a large frying pan, cook olive oil, garlic and hot-pepper flakes over medium until garlic becomes fragrant. Add kale and cook until wilted. Add stock and cooked sausage, and simmer. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain but reserve some pasta-cooking water. Combine kale mixture with pasta. Add pasta water as needed for moisture.

Spinach & Cheddar Cornbread, adapted from a Not Eating Out in NY recipe
1 c. water
 2c. milk
1½ c. cornmeal
4 T. butter, divided
1 bunch spinach
1 green onion, finely chopped
¼ c. sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
2 ½ tsp. baking powder
4 oz. sharp cheddar, grated

Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the butter in a skillet over low heat, and add the green onions, spinach and a pinch of salt. Increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach has released its juices and evaporated, so the mixture appears fairly dry, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Once cool, finely chop the spinach mixture.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat the water, milk and remaining butter in a saucepan over medium-high until the butter is almost melted. Remove from heat. Stir in the cornmeal and continue stirring until there are no lumps and mixture is thickened, 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl, and stir in the spinach mixture, sugar, salt, pepper, baking powder and beaten eggs. Fold in the grated cheddar.

Grease a 9 x 9″ casserole dish with butter, and dust the interior and sides thoroughly with sugar. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of the dish comes out clean. Let cool at least 5 minutes before cutting and serving.