In your box:
–Head lettuce, “Red Romaine”
–Kale, “Red Russian”
First of all, I just wanted to remind everyone that our produce delivery will go on as normally scheduled during this holiday week. The 4th of July doesn’t really come at a great time for vegetable farmers—but then, neither does Memorial Day, Labor Day, Flag Day, or really any weekend unless it’s raining heavily. Thanksgiving is actually the rare holiday that comes at a time I can celebrate it. And then, lest you start to pity me, I continue celebrating Thanksgiving every day until March.
The good news around the farm is that the weeds are remarkably under control. We’ve developed an aspirational motto: “Weed free by the 4th of July.” No, this does not have anything to do with kicking a drug habit. It does have everything to do with knocking the weeds back again and again and again until finally, right about this time of year, most of the weed seeds that are going to germinate this year have already done so. By killing them small and repeatedly up to this point, weeds have all but capitulated in their attempt to ruin my life and the lives of our plants. The result is a garden that actually looks something like it’s supposed to and thousands of plants growing without competition.
As much as I like to vary the contents from week to week during the season, this week’s box is nearly identical to last week’s. The only difference is that turnips are taking the week off and our spinach has finally succumbed to the heat. Stepping up in its place is the “Red Russian” variety of kale that we grow all summer. Kale is a magnificent plant, producing seemingly endless leaves the more it is harvested. It is cold hardy and endures sizzling heat without issue, producing from June through Thanksgiving. Some varieties of kale are eaten up by insect pressure on the farm, but Red Russian has proven to be above the bullying of flea beetles and cabbage loopers.
Not only is it virtually indestructible, but kale is increasingly popular. A t-shirt company in Vermont sells “Eat More Kale” clothing. Employees at Lakewinds Natural Foods sport “Kale Yeah” shirts. Except, I’m not entirely sure what that means. Perhaps we’ll really know when kale has caught on everywhere once bar patrons throw their hands in the air with a hearty “Oh kale yeah!” after every Vikings touchdown while munching raw kale throughout the game. Something to hope for, anyway.
To use your kale, you’ll probably want to cook it or steam it to cut down its rubbery texture. To prepare, fold the whole leaf over on itself and trim off the rigid stem/spine. Cut it into ribbons, then lightly steam it or bake it into a casserole, lasagna, etc. It can also be prepared and chopped, lightly oiled, and then roasted plain in the oven at 400 degrees for a few minutes until it blackens. The result is kale chips that are sacrilegious to the kale purist, but a good way to use it up if your family doesn’t share the “Kale yeah” sentiment. Another way to enjoy kale is to prepare it and then steam over olive oil for about five minutes, stirring constantly. The leaves will take on a nice crispy texture and make a delicious side dish.
As the weather continues to warm, we’ll lose the salad mix and lettuce shortly and start looking forward to broccoli, zucchini, cucumbers, beans, tomatoes and cabbage over the next few weeks.
Have a great holiday!