Monthly Archives: July 2015

Speedy week.

Folks, this was a productive week but I did not have time to sit down and write a real newsletter for you all.  Lots of farm work plus the local 4H fair runs this week.  (Our son earned a blue ribbon in woodworking.)  I will be away from the farm next week, visiting family with our kids.  Steve and the crew will keep the farm running, and we will resume more substantial newsletters after I return.  Beth

What does “OR” mean?

Often our weekly veggie list includes something like “watermelon OR muskmelon.”  What does that mean?  Sometimes our crops are overwhelming (get ready for tomatoes in August).  At other times they ripen in fits and starts, eg. eggplant and the first harvest of almost any crop.  When there are small amounts, we split them up among the sites.  We make sure that all the boxes at a site are uniform so we can track who gets what.  That lets us follow up to deliver muskmelons in future to the people who got watermelons this week, and vice versa.

When our list says “xxx OR yyy” please don’t open CSA boxes searching for your preference.  All the boxes at your site are the same.  Take your box off the top of the stack.  When you open other members’ boxes, their produce warms up.  No one wants that.  Thanks for your help.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (July 30/31, 2015, week #11, purple EOW)

IMG_1306 ari billy melons2
First watermelon harvest this week.  From left, Ari, Billy, and a slew of melons.

Watermelon OR muskmelon
Cherry tomatoes, 1 pint
Slicing tomatoes, 1.25 – 1.5 lb
Swiss chard, 1 bunch
Bell peppers, 2
Carrots, 2 lb
Walla Walla onions, 1 jumbo
Zucchini and summer squash, 2 lb
Cucumbers (4) OR pickles (2.5 lb) OR Silver Slicer cukes (2.5 lb)
Dill, 1 bunch
A few sites will receive Japanese or globe eggplant this week.

Next week’s box will probably contain melon, sweet corn, green beans, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, onions, and more.

Watermelon OR muskmelon – Everyone gets one melon.
Bell peppers – Some sites will receive 1 green + 1 red, some sites will receive 2 green peppers.
Cucumbers –  You will receive either slicing cucumber OR pickles OR white Silver Slicer cucumbers.  All can be used for salads or for refrigerator pickles.
Eggplant – A few sites will get globe eggplant (round, purple) or Japanese eggplant (long, purple).  Globe eggplant need to be peeled.  Japanese eggplant have thinner skin and are traditionally left unpeeled in Asian cooking.  When grilling Japanese eggplant, I find it useful to remove a little skin from the outside slices, as they grill or sauté best when the flesh is exposed.
Dill – We’re sending dill this week in combination with abundant cucumbers so you can make refrigerator pickles.  The flower heads are my favorite for pickles but you can use both the flowers and the ferny leaves.
IMG_1269 dill
Dill flowerheads

THIS WEEK’S RECIPES

Comforting Classics

Chilled Muskmelon Soup
Ground Beef, Shredded Carrot and Bell Pepper Tacos
Swiss Chard and Zucchini Frittata with Dill and Fontina Cheese
Rustic Roasted Peppers and Tomatoes with Ziti
Carrot Hummus with Zucchini and Pepper Crudité
Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Outside the Box Recipes

Sriracha Spiked Watermelon Pepper Salsa
Thai Fried Rice with Summer Squash, Carrot, Bell Pepper, and Shrimp
Wheat Berries and Swiss Chard with Pomegranate Molasses
Cucumber, Tomato and White Bean Salad
Japanese Quick Pickled Carrots and Peppers
Cucumber and Peanut Salad

Kitchen Sink Recipe
Feel free to add more vegetables to this rice dish. Perhaps shredded carrot, diced zucchini, bell pepper and/or eggplant.

Braised Chickpeas, Tomatoes and Chard on Brown Rice

Quick and Easy Dinner Idea
Chard Pesto Pizza with Grilled Zucchini

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Lettuce Queen

IMG_1163 maggie iceberg 2
We grew iceberg lettuce for the first time, at Maggie’s urging. She’s the boss of the lettuce patch, so we generally go along with whatever she wants.  At least with lettuce.  Iceberg seems an odd choice for a farm like ours, doesn’t it?  We enjoy growing varied, interesting lettuce varieties.  I quizzed Maggie why she was eager to grow iceberg.  “You know, everyone secretly loves iceberg lettuce,” she said, then described breaking down in winter and buying iceberg when all our leafy greens are done for the year.  It’s just an experiment for us this season.  Turned out pretty well, a challenge this time of year when the weather is wet and warm.  As an experiment, it’s a small planting so we have iceberg for most members but some members will get red bibb or red leaf lettuce instead.

IMG_1148 evening sky
The weather has been lovely this week, a real treat.

Q&A – Answers to a few recent questions from members

Why do we take the leaves off our carrots?
It’s common to find bunched carrots with tops for sale at farmers’ markets.  They are pretty but keeping the tops on is a bad idea!  The leaves pull moisture out of the carrot roots, drying them out.  We remove the carrot tops at harvest so the roots stay sweet and crisp.
Beth and Steve, did you bottle the tomato juice yourselves?
No, no, no.  That would be quite a project, wouldn’t it?  We had the juice bottled last year at peak season by a small food processor called Contract Comestibles in East Troy, WI.  We are well-sized for each other.  Many food processors would consider a batch of 500 jars of juice too small to mess with.  They’ve done a nice job for us the last two years.  We plan to bottle juice again this year (for next year’s CSA boxes) as long as we have a big flush of tomatoes at peak season.
Should we return the empty juice jars?
Please keep the jars or recycle them.  We cannot re-use them for juice.  Please do not return them to us – we don’t want to risk shattered glass at the pickup sites.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (July 23/24, 2015, week #10, green EOW)

Caraflex cabbage
Fresh garlic, 1 bulb
Carrots, 2 lb
Green beans, about 3/4 lb
Iceberg OR red bibb OR red leaf lettuce
Zucchini/summer squash, 2 to 2.5 lb
Cucumbers, 2 OR pickles OR Silver Slicer cucumbers
Walla Walla onions
Cilantro, 1 bunch
Cherry tomatoes OR a slicing tomato(es) + a bell pepper

Next week’s box will probably contain Swiss chard, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, cucumbers, herbs and more.

Caraflex cabbage – This is a return of the pointy cabbage we delivered three weeks ago.  We’ve chosen this variety for summer production because the leaves are tender and perfect for raw slaws and salads.  The small size is helpful this time of year when we have so many other options for the CSA box.
Fresh garlic – Here’s a treat.  Harvested fresh this week and sent to you without drying the skins, this garlic is super crunchy and tasty.  Eat soon before the skins dry for the easiest peeling.  Now we will harvest the rest of the garlic field but will need to wait while the skins dry before we can deliver garlic again.
Carrots – First carrot harvest of the year!
Tomatoes – Tomato harvests have just begun.  Soon we will be swimming in tomatoes. Everyone gets cherry tomatoes OR slicing tomato(es) plus a green bell pepper.
Cucumbers – This week, we have small amounts of pickles and a white cucumber called ‘Silver Slicer’ which is interesting and tasty.  We don’t have enough for everyone this week, but we will try to distribute them to all the sites over the next few weeks.  You will receive 2 slicing cucumbers OR a Silver Slicer and a small amount of pickles.  Don’t worry about pickling the pickles.  They are excellent for salads because of their thin, tender skins.  That’s what we choose for salads.  Don’t peel the pickles or the Silver Slicers; it’s unnecessary.

IMG_3042 cukes silver pickles
We will pack for you at least one of these types: slicing cucumbers (top), ‘Silver Slicer’ cucumbers (middle) or pickles (bottom).

Mixed Beans with Cilantro Pesto

This recipe is from our farmer-friend Lauren Rudersdorf of Raleigh’s Hillside Farm.  I tasted a batch Lauren made and it was delicious.  Lauren offered the recipe in her blog The Leek and The Carrot and wrote “I used mixed green and yellow beans with the addition of some snap peas because well, that’s what we had in abundance. You could just use green beans or just use yellow beans or just use peas if you really wanted to. The mix looks pretty but is in no way necessary.”
Takes 15 minutes
Makes enough for 4 as a side (or 1-2 as a meal, as it is for me often)

4 cups beans, ends trimmed
1 cup snap peas, ends trimmed, optional (Beth’s note; choose a substitute from the CSA veggies.)

Cilantro Pesto(makes approximately 2/3 of a cup):
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup toasted almonds
1/4 cup parmesan
1 cup cilantro (stems and leaves are fine; it was just about 1 bunch for me)
1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh if you’ve got it
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove. Blanche (submerge in boiling water) beans for three minutes. Remove from water and cover with ice cubes or place hot beans in an ice bath to stop the cooking immediately. This will help keep their crispness. Blanche the snap peas for 1 minute, if using. Remove to an ice bath or cover with ice cubes. Strain the beans and peas in a colander and shake a few times to make sure most of the water is removed.

Prepare the pesto by pulsing garlic and almonds in a food processor until very fine. Add cilantro. Pulse until the mixture resembles a course meal. Add lemon juice, salt, red pepper flakes and pepper. Turn the food processor on and slowly add the olive oil. You may need to scrape down the sides of the food processor occasionally.

Add 1/4 cup of cilantro pesto to the cooled and dried beans and peas. Save the rest in the fridge for some other use. Add more salt and/or red pepper flakes to taste. Enjoy!

THIS WEEK’S RECIPES

Comforting Classics

Spicy Caraflex Cabbage Slaw
Zucchini Soup Base
Cumin Roasted Carrots
Garlic Confit
Green Beans with Parmesan, Garlic and Black Pepper
Bleu Cheese Dressing

Outside the Box Recipes

Roasted Caraflex Cabbage with Gruyere
Zucchini Saute with Vermouth
Carrot and Cucumber Kimchi Style Salad
Spicy Cilantro Garlic Peanut Sauce
Thai Green Bean, Cucumber, Cilantro, and Tomato Salad
Cilantro Vinaigrette

Kitchen Sink Recipe

Zucchini Gazpacho

Quick and Easy Dinner

Szechuan Grilled Shish Kebabs with Zucchini and Shrimp

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Five firsts

IMG_2973 five firsts
We harvested five new crops this week.  Now it’s summer.  Clockwise from left, basil, cherry tomatoes, green beans, green bell pepper and a slicing tomato in the center.  Everyone gets a sprig of basil and lots of beans (1.75 lb!)  The other crops are just starting so look for only one of these in your box: cherry tomatoes or a tomato or a green pepper or a bag of sugar snap peas.

Farm news

Steve is absorbed in planting carrots.  The first few weeks of July, he plants all the carrots we will harvest for winter storage.  If you buy our carrots from November through next April, they have been planted during this short two weeks in July.  It takes finesse (and daily irrigation) to get the delicate seedlings out of the ground.

IMG_1081 carrot cultivation
The seedlings are tiny when they get their first mechanical cultivation. Wait too long and the weeds will overwhelm the carrots.

IMG_1090 carrot cultivation
Can you see the three lines of seedlings in this bed?  We have to trace these faint lines to cultivate closely.  Mechanical cultivation is essential, but we still have to weed every row by hand.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (July 16/17, 2015, week #9, purple EOW)

Tomato juice, 1 quart
Green beans, about 1.75 lb
Lacinato OR Red Russian kale
Broccoli, 1 or 2 medium heads
Zucchini and summer squash, about 2 lb
Cucumbers, 3
Walla Walla onions, 1 or 2 or 3
Kohlrabi, 1
Basil, 1 sprig

We have small harvests of several delicacies.  You will get one of these …
cherry tomatoes
OR a slicing tomato
OR a modest bag of sugar snap peas
OR a green bell pepper

Next week’s box will probably contain green beans, a few tomatoes or a pepper, cabbage, fresh garlic, Walla Walla onions, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, an herb, and more.

Tomato juice – This is juice we had bottled from our tomatoes last summer.  It’s a great way to capture ripe tomatoes at peak season, at a moment when we have too many to pack into your CSA boxes.  We are sending the juice this week because it combines so readily with early summer produce.  Try making an easy soup with the tomato juice, beans, sweet Walla Walla onion, zucchini and basil.  Honestly, any of this week’s produce will work.
Store the juice out of sunlight at room temperature when unopened.  Refrigerate after opening.  The juice is already seasoned so don’t add salt if you cook with it.  I’ve listed the ingredients and nutritional information here.
Broccoli – Broccoli does not like hot weather.  Some heads are uneven or have yellow beads due to the blast of high temperatures earlier this week.  Boy, it is frustrating to bring a crop so close to harvest, then watch it get damaged at the very end.
Basil (curly-leaved sprig) – This is the variety ‘Napoletano.’  The leaves are larger and more frilly than most basils.  We like this variety because the its leaves remain tender and flavorful even as the plants mature.  Basil will blacken if stored in the refrigerator.  It is best stored at room temperature with the cut ends in water, for example in a glass or teacup.  Give the stem a fresh trim.  You will receive one sturdy stem this week.  We snipped these sprigs to shape the plants.

THIS WEEK’S RECIPES

Comforting Classics

Lovage Bloody Mary (No worries about the lovage, it’s used as a straw. Got some celery in the fridge? Try that!)
Balsamic Roasted Green Beans
Braised Kale
Summer Squash and Kale Fried Rice with Meat
Parmesan Roasted Kohlrabi
Cucumber and Kohlrabi Salad with Chili and Lime

Outside the Box Recipes

Spiced Tomato Juice Gazpacho
Five Spice Broccoli and Green Beans with Chicken
Creole Rice and Kale
Pasta with Summer Squash and Herbed Ricotta
Braised Lentils with Kohlrabi and Smoked Sausage
Quick Pickle of Cucumber and Sweet Onion

Kitchen Sink Recipe

Tipi Tomato Juice Minestrone

Quick and Easy Dinner Idea

Coconut Red Curry with Kohlrabi, Kale, Shrimp and Lime

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A major distraction

IMG_0911 old truck
It’s a miracle we harvested your vegetables this week in the midst of a major distraction.  Years ago, a pickup truck died in a far field in late fall and was never revived.  It has become a useless fixture of our farm.  “Remember, you can always take shelter in that truck if there’s lightning.”  Everyone rolls their eyes because the truck is so gross.  What happens if you leave a truck parked in one place long enough?  Nature abhors a vacuum.

IMG_0921 kittens in truck

IMG_20150701_162825 madeleine simone kitten

Lo and behold, a wild cat had a litter of kittens in the truck. The crew heard them yowling one day.  Simone approached and a kitten immediately crawled out of the truck and into her arms.  Amazing.  We watched for a few days, feeding the kittens and waiting for the mother cat to return.  They became more desperate and eventually Simone took the litter home.  Left in the field, they are easy prey for raccoons.  They are growing quickly and fairing well at Simone’s house.  The crew has dibs on them, but I’ll let you know if any need homes.  They have brightened everyone’s lives this week, especially Simone who recently lost a beloved kitty.   Beth

IMG_0866 truck kitten
Photo credits from top, Beth, Andrew, Madeleine, Karen.

Take it with a grain of …

IMG_0840 fennel
Fennel harvest started on a grumpy note. We planted the fennel in a very fertile field, so it grew lush but unwieldy and brittle.  The crew bushwhacked their way down the field with a sharpened shovel, a favorite tool in this situation.  Then we cut a few fennel bulbs to check the quality.  Just a few bites and, suddenly, it was everyone’s favorite vegetable and the day improved.  Zippy, licorice-y, it is fabulous raw. The discussion segued to trendy, expensive fennel salt, and a new farm motto was born: “Take it with a grain of fennel salt.”  Maggie researched fennel salt and found two intriguing recipes in a Local Kitchen post:

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Maggie plans to make both the salt and the candied stems, Jory and Osha the fennel salt, and Gage has plans for fennel wine.  “OK,” he said after the mixed response, “I won’t make a full six gallons.”

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (July 9/10, 2015, week #8, green EOW)

Fennel, 1 bulb
Cucumbers, about 3
Zucchini/summer squash, 2.5 – 3 lb
Red or green bibb lettuce
Broccoli, 1 medium head
Mustard greens, 1 bunch
Beets, 2 lb
Walla Walla onion, 1 – 2
Bunched scallions OR an extra Walla Walla onion
Parsley, 1 bunch

Next week’s box will probably contain tomato juice, zucchini, Walla Walla onion, cucumbers, broccoli, lacinato kale, green beans or peas, kohlrabi and more.

Fennel (large vegetable with a fat bulb and lacy fronds) – Fennel is a ‘swing vegetable’; it can be used raw or cooked.  Clean well and slice as thinly as possible for use in raw salads.  It is good simply prepared with olive oil, lime or lemon juice, salt and shaved parmesan cheese.  Cooking softens and sweetens fennel, and mellows its anise flavor.  Both the bulb and leaves are edible.  Here are ideas from Alice Water of Chez Panisse about how to use fennel:  ‘It’s strong anise characteristic seems to suit fish particularly well.  … We use fennel all the time.  We add the feathery leaves to marinades for fish and to numerous salads, sauces and soups and we use them as a garnish, too. … The bulbs are sliced and served raw in salads in various combinations with other vegetables, parboiled for pastas; caramelized and served as a side dish; braised whole; or cooked in vegetable broths & fish stocks.”
Lettuce – The lettuce are small this week.  Our peak lettuce season is ending, and we harvested these young to ensure good quality.
Mustard greens (bundle of large green leaves) – Spicy mustard greens are considered one of the most nutritious vegetables.  The flat-leaved variety that we grow is much milder than the traditional curly mustard.  The thin, tender leaves only need brief cooking, about as long as Swiss chard (i.e., longer than spinach but shorter than kale).
Walla Walla onion – Yeah for the first Walla Wallas!  These are sweet onions, crisp and very mild.  Wonderful raw or lightly cooked.  Don’t try to fry these onions – it doesn’t work because of their high water content.

THIS WEEK’S RECIPES

Comforting Classics

Salad with Caramelized Fennel and Pancetta
Fennel, Kale or Mustard Greens and Pastina Soup
Citrus Rice Salad with Feta, Walla Walla Onions and Cucumbers
Creamy Zucchini and Spaghetti
Roasted Beet, Cucumber and Feta Salad
Southern Braised Mustard Greens with Bacon

Outside the Box Recipes

Fennel and Beet Soup with Kefir
Cucumber Granita
Batter Fried Zucchini Strips
Mustard Greens Pesto with Raisins
Chocolate Beet Cake and Gluten Free Chocolate Beet Cake
Beets with their Greens, in Cumin Garlic Vinaigrette

Kitchen Sink Recipe
Here’s this week’s installment in our “whole box” challenge. You could easily add your fennel (with its fronds), onion and zucchini to this strata. You may want to add a couple more eggs.

Broccoli and Bacon Strata

Quick and Easy Dinner Idea
Feel free to get creative, if you have time, and add caramelized onion, cucumber, parsley…you get the idea!

Salad with Grilled Skirt Steak, Shredded Beets and Blue Cheese

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Newest farm hobby

Maggie and Jon suggested I share the latest farm hobby: collecting interesting bugs.  Farmhand Madeleine Wieder is especially taken with the beautiful swallowtail caterpillars.  She’s taken two of them home to pupate in a jar, with names “Lewis” and “Carroll.”   We find swallowtail caterpillars scattered about the farm on plants in the carrot family (carrots, fennel, dill, parsnip, parsley).  Their populations are low so they cause little cumulative damage to our crops.  We appreciate the beauty and interest they add to our lives.  Check out Wisconsin Butterflies for gorgeous photos and basic bios of species found in Wisconsin.  These are probably black swallowtails.  I’ll post more photos once they pupate and emerge as butterflies.

IMG_0656 swallowtail madeleine
Madeleine holds a swallowtail caterpillar on a fennel frond.

IMG_0701 swallowtail horns 2
When threatened, the caterpillars unfurl bright orange ‘horns’ and release an incredible stench.  Trust us, they really do stink.

IMG_20150630_104446 madeleine swallowtail
Madeleine has found swallowtails on parsnips growing in our pea field, …

IMG_20150622_130144 madeleine swallowtail
… while bunching parsley (hence the rubber bands), …

IMG_20150630_193951 maeleine swallowtails in jar
… and while weeding carrots.  Lewis and Carroll near pupation size, feeding on carrots leaves.  Madeleine took the last three photos.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (July 2/3, 2015, purple EOW)

Strawberry season is over.  We expected to pick the final berries this week, but pounding rain on Monday did them in.  We will miss the berries, but our crew is glad to move on to other jobs.

‘Caraflex’ green cabbage, 1
Swiss chard, 1 bunch
Broccoli, 1 or 2 medium heads
Romaine lettuce
Sugar snap peas, 1.4 lb
Zucchini & summer squash, about 3 lb
Rhubarb, 1.5 lb
Garlic scapes, a handful
A few members will get one cucumber.  We’ll have cukes for everyone next week.

Next week’s box will probably contain sweet Walla Walla onions, cucumbers, broccoli, greens, zucchini, herbs and more.

‘Caraflex’ cabbage – This ia a nice salad-type that we grow in summer.  Don’t you love the pointy shape?  It has thinner, more tender leaves than the usual green cabbage.  Great in salads and slaws but can also be cooked.  Here’s the description from the seed catalogue: “Inner leaves are tender, crunchy, and have an excellent, sweet and mild cabbage flavor.  Perfect for summer salads, slaws, or cooked dishes.”
Swiss chard (pretty bundle of green leaves) – This is a close relative of spinach, but requires a bit more cooking.  Use as a substitute in any recipe that calls for spinach, just cook the chard a little longer. Both stems and leaves are delicious. The stems requite longer cooking, so cut them free from the leaves when preparing.  That allows you to cook the stems longer.
Rhubarb – We’re sending rhubarb so you can bake for your holiday parties!
Cucumbers (only a few members this week) – We should have cucumbers for everyone next week.  If you do receive one this week, don’t be surprised if it’s a bit misshapen.  Like zucchini, the first set of cucumbers are often odd.

IMG_2954 caraflex pointy cabbage
‘Caraflex’ green cabbage

THIS WEEK’S RECIPES

Comforting Classics

Rhubarb Charlotte
Fish and Wilted Swiss Chard Tacos with Shredded Lettuce and Chipotle Cream
Mac and Smoked Gouda with Broccoli
Stir Fry Rice Noodle with Snap Pea and Eggs
Laura’s Zucchini Bread
Napa Cabbage and Chicken Salad

Outside the Box Recipes

Rhubarb Vinaigrette
Greek Swiss Chard and Zucchini Soup
Broccoli and Gorgonzola Polenta
Lettuce Steamed Snap Peas
Zucchini Carpaccio
Cabbage and Shrimp Fritters

Kitchen Sink Recipe
Make a big old salad with any of the box ingredients and add the garlic scape dressing. Imagine the different textures if you grill your romaine and then top with raw, shaved zucchini or broccoli florets, chopped snap peas or sliced Swiss chard.

Grilled Romaine with Garlic Scape Dressing

Quick and Easy Dinner Idea

Grilled Salmon with Summer Squash and Snap Pea Relish

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