In your box:
–Head Lettuce, “Mantilia”
This week we’ve been enjoying some much-needed rain and heat. We have had a couple stretches this growing season already with little or no rain, but once again some good thunderstorms bailed us out and helped to keep the garden growing nicely. I had just hooked up our irrigation system and began watering in case the rain didn’t materialize, but we’re grateful for the inch of rain we’ve received this week. And, as much as we needed the heat to hurry along our tomato and bean crops, I’m grateful for a break from hundred-degree heat indexes!
We are already a third of the way through the growing season, which essentially wraps up our “spring” portion of the year. Granted, it hasn’t felt much like spring lately. But the cool-weather loving crops are past their prime and after this box we’ll take a break from cabbage and green onions. Spinach, arugula, and the lettuce leaf salad mix are already done for, but they will get another planting in a couple weeks so that they’re ready for the cool weather at the end of our growing year.
Next week will bring the first of our potatoes, and with any luck I’ll also start finding some beans and tomatoes. Peppers and eggplants are now fruiting nicely, but not quite reaching full size.
A crop in your box that might be new to you this week is fennel, a licorice-scented member of the carrot family (along with celery, parsley, dill, and many flowers). The whole crop is edible, with the leafy fronds a common ingredient in soups and baked dishes, and the bulbs used for stir-fries and roasting. The bulbs can be substituted in any recipe calling for celery. For a good starter into the world of fennel, try it baked: cut into quarters, drizzle with olive oil, and bake until tender, about 35 min at 350°. To store: The bulbs will last for two weeks in a plastic bag in the fridge. The leaves will go limp, and should be wrapped in a moist towel in the fridge.
The main event in your box this week is the Napa cabbage. These are also called Chinese cabbage, but I’ve reverted to “Napa” in honor of our good friend Jeremy, who is currently living in the town of Napa in northern California. According to Jeremy, all throughout the Napa Valley the residents will go for weeks at a time without eating anything but Napa cabbage. It is shredded into oatmeal, made into afternoon teas, and squeezed for milk that is then used as coffee creamer. None of that is true, of course, but with all this cabbage you might need to try some of those uses.
Napa cabbage can be used raw (chopped or grated) in salads, in any coleslaw recipe, stuffed into egg rolls, stir-fried, or steamed. Napas cook down more quickly than common cabbage, so be careful not to overdo it. These should be kept in the hydrator drawer of the fridge or in a plastic bag. We recommend you keep all the leaves on for storage, but when preparing you’ll probably want to remove the tough and dirty outer leaves in favor of the more tender center. It will keep for a couple weeks in the fridge.
Thanks to everyone for returning your boxes so far! We really appreciate it and ask that you continue cycling your used CSA box throughout the season. Thanks!
Expected next week: Basil, head lettuce, cucumber, squash, potatoes, kale, sweet onion, beans and tomatoes.