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Week 7 Newsletter

July 27, 2017

In your box:

–Basil

–Beets

–Cucumbers

–Escarole (endive)

–Head Lettuce

–Kale

–Summer squash

–Sweet onion or Scallions

–Tomatoes

This week’s box is a little different than I had planned a week ago, largely due to the good rains we received Wednesday night. We picked up over an inch and a half in a good summer downpour, which started just as I raced from the field back to the shed on my tractor. I was only about halfway back when the heavens opened, leaving me thoroughly soaked in the final minute of my tractor ride as I haphazardly parked it in the open space.

The rain was welcome as we make our way through summer, as many crops still have a lot of growing to do. The only downside is that it left the soil much too wet to dig up potatoes for everyone this week, so they will wait one more week while things dry out again. In their place we have actual beets, much welcome after a couple weeks of baby beets and greens. These have sized up nicely in just the two weeks since I thinned out their neighbors, and they have some more good growing coming up shortly.

This week we finish off all of our scallions for the year and start to offer sweet onions in the box. Sweet onions are delicious raw or cooked, and the greens can be used just as with green onions. They don’t store for as long as the yellow and white storage onions we’ll offer in September, so they should be used up within a few weeks. They can be kept for up to a month and are equally happy in the fridge or in a cool, dark pantry.

I was delighted to find the first tomatoes of the season for this week, and it looks like we’re in for a great season as we flip the calendar to August. Most of what I’ve picked so far are “Juliet,” an heirloom variety that produces absurd amounts of plum tomatoes consistently throughout the growing season. These are not as stand-out tasty as some of the heirlooms that are still ripening, but they have a great meaty texture and hold together well in a salad or chopped onto your favorite dish.

I’ve also started picking cherry tomatoes this week. We’ve again planted a red variety called “Jasper” and a slightly larger orange variety called “Sungold.” These continue bearing throughout the tomato season, so I will keep track of who has received them and make sure that everyone gets to try some cherry tomatoes this year, as long as the harvest continues.

We have sadly picked the last of our spring raspberries, which ended up being kind of a dud after such a promising start. Only about half of you have received raspberries yet this season, but we do have a fall variety that will come on in late August and continue until our first fall frost. If you have not yet received berries, you will be first in line to get these fall berries.

I had hoped to start offering beans in your box this week, but unfortunately it looks like we need to wait one more week before their harvest begins. The plants look very healthy and are full of flowers, so I’m confident we’ll have a good bean season—just as soon as they’re ready!

While we wait on beans, I noticed that our escarole has reached a good size. Batavian Broad Escarole looks a lot like our head lettuce this week, so I recommend you google the term to note the difference. You can also try them—the head lettuce is soft and sweet, while the escarole leaf is more solid and bitter. Escarole is also known as endive, but true endive is much more bitter and resembles dandelion greens, while escarole is more versatile and can be eaten raw.

Escarole mixes well into a raw salad, where you can best appreciate its nutrients (vitamins A, B, and C as well as calcium, iron, and phosphorus). If the taste is too bitter, it can also be sauteed and used as a cooking green in place of spinach.

Expected next week: Parsley, head lettuce, cucumber, squash, potatoes, chard, sweet onion, beans and tomatoes.

Grilled Kale and Escarole Caesar Salad

July 26, 2017

from RealSimple.com

  • garlic clove
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
  • large egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • large bunch kale (about 12 oz.), tough stems removed
  • small head escarole (about 12 oz.), leaves torn

Directions:

  1. Preheat the grill to high. Finely chop the garlic on top of ¼ teaspoon of the salt; press the mixture with the flat side of the knife to make a paste. Whisk together the garlic paste, egg yolk, mustard, and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice in a medium bowl. Slowly add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, whisking constantly. Slowly add the vegetable oil, whisking constantly. Stir in the pepper, 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan, and the remaining ½ tablespoon of lemon juice and ½ teaspoon of salt.
  2. Toss the kale and escarole with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Arrange the greens on oiled grill grates. Grill, uncovered, until lightly charred on the edges, 1 to 2 minutes, turning once. Coarsely chop and arrange on a platter. Drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

Week 6 Newsletter

July 20, 2017

In your box:

–Beet greens

–Broccoli

–Cucumbers

–Fennel

–Head Lettuce, “Mantilia”

–Napa Cabbage

–Scallions

–Summer squash

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.

Fennel/Orange/Cabbage Slaw

July 19, 2017

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups shredded cabbage (Napa or other)
  • 2 medium oranges, peeled and segmented
  • 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

 

Directions:

    1. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, oranges, fennel, and parsley.
    2. In another bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, brown sugar, and pepper.
    3. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to coat. Chill and garnish with the almonds just before serving.

Serves 4-6

Week 5 Newsletter

July 13, 2017

In your box:

–Basil

–Beet greens

–Broccoli

–Cabbage (‘Caraflex’ green)

–Cucumbers

–Kohlrabi

–Salad Mix

–Scallions

–Summer squash

As your dedicated purveyor of fine vegetables and ways to put them to good use, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to use veggies in the kitchen. So I was delighted to receive an e-mail from a Russian lawyer the other day who offered me top secret information on how kohlrabi is used in Russia. I was intrigued, so I responded that it “seems we have some time and if it’s what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer” when the kohlrabi would be ready for harvest. So I called up my brother-in-law and this lobbyist guy my dad is friends with and we decided we’d go meet this Russian lawyer, whose name was Natalia.

I was really excited to get some new recipes for kohlrabi and get some “Good dirt” on how it is used in Russia, but it was quickly apparent that Natalia was confusing sweet turnips with kohlrabi. She went on like this for some time before she changed the topic of our conversation to trying to get me to change my farm’s adoption policy on transplants that are grown in Russian greenhouses. I’m totally dedicated to making my farm great again, so it really didn’t benefit me much to start taking in Russian adoptee plants. We ended with that, so unfortunately I never did get those great Russian tips on how to cook kohlrabi. Seriously. It’s the strangest thing.

But here’s what you can do with kohlrabi, international incidents aside:

  • Peel off the outer skin and slice up the kohlrabi into slivers. Try dipping it in lemon juice, olive oil, or dressing.
  • Grate it into a salad for a modified cole slaw.
  • Add it to a stir-fry.

The leaves are edible and can be cooked up as a substitute for kale. The leaves will keep well for a few days in the fridge, while the bulb itself will last for a week to ten days in the fridge.

We also have baby beets in your box this week. Beet seeds are nearly always twins or triplets, so it’s very difficult to achieve the ideal spacing with beets using a push seeder. The result is a long line of very densely populated beets, which need to be thinned out so that the beets can achieve full size. The good news is that the beet tops and baby beet roots are perfectly edible and delicious, so rather than throwing them in the compost pile I’ve included them in your box this week. The baby beet greens are good in any recipe calling for chard or spinach. They are also small enough to eat raw mixed into a salad. The roots are still quite small, but if they’re too crunchy they can be steamed or cooked in a little oil or butter until tender.

We had an incredible first harvest of cucumbers this week, with many more on the way. Our cucumber and squash plants look healthier than they have in six years, so I’m optimistic for a good long harvest. I’m thinking part of the strong start is our relatively dry weather the past six weeks. We haven’t had major flooding or rain events, which can usher in disease pressure and wipe out flowers on the plants. Picking cucumbers today was a very audible experience—there were honeybees everywhere on the hundreds of small flowers in the cucumber patch!

Expected next week: Summer squash, cucumbers, fennel, head lettuce, beet greens, Napa cabbage, green onions, broccoli, and kale.

Kohlrabi Cabbage Slaw

July 13, 2017

from DishingUpTheDirt.com

  • 1 medium sized kohlrabi, stems and greens removed
  • 1/2 a head of green cabbage
  • 1 large bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 small ripe avocado, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Tahini-Lemon Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2-3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • a small handful of very finely minced parsley
  • 3 Tablespoons water + more to thin if necessary
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Prepare the dressing by combining all the ingredients and blending with an immersion blender or regular blender until smooth. If the dressing is too thick add a splash of water. If the dressing is too thin add a little more tahini. Taste test and adjust seasonings as necessary.
  2. With a mandoline or a sharp knife slice the kohlrabi into thin rounds. Then stack the rounds and slice into thin matchsticks.  Cut the cabbage into 1/4-inch-thick strips
  3. Place the kohlrabi and cabbage in a large salad bowl. Add parsley, raisins, avocado, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Drizzle in the dressing and toss until well combined.

Week 4 Newsletter

July 6, 2017

In your box:

–Cabbage (red or green)

–Garlic Scapes

–Head lettuce (“Grandpa Admire”)

–Salad Mix

–Scallions

–Spinach

–Summer squash

–Turnips

 

Our highlight this week is the first of our cabbage. I’ve never been a reliable cabbage grower, and as a result I grow three kinds of spring cabbage with the hope that one or two will do well. This year it looks like the stars have aligned for success with all three kinds: red, green, and Napa cabbage. This week most boxes will receive small red cabbages, with the pyramid-shaped green cabbages coming next week. It looks like all of the cabbages will be reaching maturity at about the same time, so be sure to use up this week’s cabbage before your next box so you don’t get over-run with cabbage. These keep well in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. If you only need half of a head for a recipe, just put the remainder in a bag in the fridge and it should keep its quality well for up to a week.

Our box this week is largely a repeat of last week, but there are changes on the way. This is the last week of turnips and garlic scapes, while salad mix has its days numbered and scallions will soon give way to full-size sweet onions. So please bear with the greens for another week—it will be fall before we see many of them again. Our tomato plants are looking great and have hundreds of flowers and little green fruits forming, and with some more heat we’ll be munching delicious heirloom tomatoes in no time.

We’re off to a great start with zucchini, and hopefully the harvest will make up for three straight years of lackluster harvests. People often wonder what the difference is between a zucchini and a summer squash, and even more than that wonder how to spell zucchini. As far as their relationship—zucchini is a kind of summer squash, just like crooknecks, patty pams, and zephyrs. We grow four different kinds of summer squash, so in newsletters I just refer to them generically as summer squash. My favorite looking squash are the zephyrs, which are half green and half yellow. But the green and yellow zucchini are the most abundant, so you can expect a lot of those this year.

Squash should be rinsed but do not need to be peeled. They should be kept in the fridge and keep for 7-10 days. Squash can be eaten raw, cut into sticks and served with dip. They can also be grated into salads for a modified cole slaw. Squash can also be cooked into soups and stews, but to retain their texture we recommend adding them to the pot for just the last 5-10 minutes. Squash are also great on the grill—slice them in half and cook for 3-4 minutes near the center of the heat and then 8-10 minutes on a cooler part of the grill after basting with oil or your favorite marinade.

The squash this week are of good size, but at some point in the season I will doubtless miss some for a couple days too many and find some real whoppers out in the field. If you get any that are too large to deal with, or if you start getting a little fatigued with all the squash, they can always be used in a zucchini cake (recipe below). If they start piling up in the fridge, you can grate them into a freezer bag or container, juices and all, and store until you have enough saved up for a zucchini cake. And yes, it still counts as a vegetable in cake form.

Our spring raspberries are coming in nicely, so some of you will receive them in your boxes this week. We don’t grow enough to supply everyone each week, but we keep track of which boxes receive raspberries so that everyone receives them equally. We’ve started picking into half pints this year so that we can be sure to get through our whole CSA list this summer. Full shares will receive one full pint.

It’s a good idea to be careful with your box each week—I always cringe when I see someone pick it up by one handle and let all the produce flop around inside. Raspberries are very delicate, as are the tomatoes we’ll begin picking in a couple weeks. Treat them kindly!

Expected next week: Summer squash, cucumbers, kohlrabi, salad mix, beet greens, cabbage, green onions, basil, and kale.