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Week 2 Newsletter

June 21, 2012

In your box:

  • Arugula
  • Bok choy
  • Chard
  • Garlic scapes
  • Head lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Scallions (green onions)
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Turnips

To begin this week, we wanted to extend all of our sympathies to those suffering from the torrential flooding all across our state.  It’s been a traumatic week in so many flooded areas throughout the region, affecting homeowners, workers, tourists, and, of course, farmers.  Our thoughts are with all of the farmers across the midwest who lost their crops, their farms, and even their livelihood this week with 10-13 inches of rain in some areas.  It’s simply by chance that we don’t farm in Northfield or Duluth, regions we originally looked for a farm, and which now sit in a foot of water.

Overall, we came through this wet period fairly well.  We did have some wind damage, which destroyed our farm sign and tore apart the plastic on 1/3 of our tomato hoophouse.  We tallied nearly 5 inches of rain within the past week, but thankfully it was spread out over 4 storms and not dumped all at once.  This is so much more rain than we needed and simply more than the soil can take in, so we do have some standing water in our aisles and some very soggy crops.  We don’t have any new crop losses to report, as most of the rain mercifully pooled in areas where May storms had already killed off all of our crops. 

Our main frustration now is the rapid growth of weeds, which we can’t pull until the fields dry out enough to walk in and purify with hand and hoe weeding.  That said, we know we don’t have much to complain about compared to farmers in other areas whose entire crop has washed away.

This week our box continues the greenish hue that we had for the first box, with some new crops in the mix.  Enjoy all of the greens now–by the time it really heats up in July and August, most of these greens wither in the sun.

Our first new flavor this week is Arugula, a close cousin of Mizuna but with a much spicier taste.  This crop is bagged for freshness and has small, rounded leaves.  I can eat arugula by the handful, but it’s usually consumed mixed into salads.  If the spice is too much for your taste, you can also steam it lightly and add to a dish.  Arugula is also known as Rocket, named for the speed with which it grows from seed and reaches your dish! 

We also introduce Bok Choy, a crop similar in taste and heritage to Tat Soi.  To use, break off the large leaves and separate the white stalk from the green growth.  Both are edible and nutritious, but the stalks require about 3-5 minutes to stir-fry while the green leaves will wilt in just a minute or so.  In a stir-fry, throw in the stalks first and add the greens when the stalks are nearly done.

Chard is also known as Swiss Chard, but I’ve dropped the “Swiss” because there simply isn’t anything Swiss about it.  It is only called that because a Swiss botanist first studied it in the 16th century and, presumably, the Swiss want to have another food named in their honor besides a certain bland hot chocolate product.  Chard is a close relative of beets and spinach, and has a similar waxy leaf to those crops.  Use it as with other cooking greens, especially kale.  Our favorite use for chard is in a quiche.

Garlic Scapes are the snaky, beaked creatures swimming around in your box. Garlic is a most resourceful plant, with most varieties utilizing three ways to reproduce themselves. In addition to the common cloves that are typically used to propagate it, hard-necked garlic also sends up these scapes from the top of its growth as a backup to continue its progeny. If these scapes mature, they would produce tiny seeds and mini cloves, called bulbils, in the beak of the scape. By snapping these off, we remind the garlic to focus on its cloves and put all of its energy into that method of reproduction. Aside from the utility of snapping them off, they also serve as a stand-in for garlic flavor until the cloves mature in late July. Scapes have all of the flavor of the clove, and don’t even need to be peeled. Simply wash and chop into small pieces in any recipe calling for garlic or garlic powder. They are also edible (and delicious!) raw, although eating them as such is a sure way to not make out with anyone.

We were thrilled to see Snap Peas picking up their production this week, with many more to come. To eat these, all you need to do is snap off the hat and any string that might come with it. The whole shell is edible and tasty, so don’t bother shelling them.

Finally, we have some great sized Turnips this week. These are similar to Radishes, but are all white. The greens should be separated and can be eaten as any cooked green (chard, kale, etc.). The root can be sliced and eaten raw (some like it with a little salt sprinkled on) or grated into salads or slaws. It can also be boiled, baked, steamed, or roasted alongside a main dish. Unlike fall turnips and rutabagas, these have a sweet flavor and taste great on their own!

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