Yearly Archives: 2015

September 10/11, 2015

IMG_2001 jon simone peppers1Red peppers make everyone happy. Jon and Simone with a pepper haul.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (September 10/11, 2015, week #17, purple EOW)

Tomatoes, 4 lb, mixed slicing & plum
Edamame soybeans, 1 bundle
Golden beets with greens, 1 bunch
Broccoli, 1 or 2 nice heads
Delicata winter squash, 2
Oranos peppers, 4 – 5
Colored bell pepper, 1
Yellow onions, about 2
Basil, 1 husky sprig

Each site will get 1 heirloom tomato per box OR an additional pepper.

Edamame soybeans (bundle of green stems with pods attached ) – These edible soybeans are a treat.  Pull the pods from the stem and wash well.  It helps to submerge the pods and rub them together.  Boil in water until the pods have split and the beans are quite tender.  Season with salt and pop the beans out of the pods into your mouth.  This Japanese specialty is becoming more and more popular in the USA.
Storage:  Remove the pods from the stems promptly and refrigerate.

Broccoli – Don’t try to store this broccoli for long.  It matured in hot weather, and that is likely to shorten its storage life.

Delicata winter squash – These are flavorful, thin-walled winter squash.  You can even eat the skin.  Delicatas do not store well, so eat them soon.
Storage:  Store all winter squash at room temperature.
Preparation: These squash have a central cavity that can be stuffed if you wish.  Cut squash in half, scoop out and discard the seeds.  To cook, I place the cut squash face-down on a cookie sheet, with a small amount of water in the pan, and roast at 400 oF until easily pierced with a fork.  The water in the pan is optional.  Allow the pan to dry during cooking, so the squash has a chance to caramelize.

Heirloom tomatoes (large tomato that’s not in the paper bag with the other tomatoes) – We will rotate heirloom tomatoes among the sites as they ripen.  Heirloom tomatoes are full-flavored but delicate.  If you receive one this week, please handle it very gently, as these fragile beauties bruise easily.  Some are delivered ripe, some need to ripen at room temperature for a day or two.  Plan to eat your heirloom as soon as it is ripe.

Golden beets with greens – These beet greens are delicious. They are similar to Swiss chard in flavor, texture & cooking time (the two crops are very closely related.) You can remove the thickest midribs before cooking if you wish, but it is not essential.
Storage: Cover and refrigerate. The beet roots will last for weeks.  Beet greens are perishable and should be eaten soon. Separate the tops and roots if you don’t plan to eat the greens immediately, to preserve freshness in the roots.

IMG_0970 golden beets


Comforting Classics

Roasted Salt and Pepper Edamame
Beet, Beet Greens, Caramelized Onions and Feta
Tuna and Beet Salad with Coddled Eggs
Chunky Tomato Bruschetta
Broccoli Sautéed with Pine Nuts, Basil and Parmesan
Roasted Delicata Squash with Apples

Outside the Box Recipes

Tasty Summer Stew
Beet Green Strata
Shredded Sautéed Beets with Poppy Seeds
Tunisian Broiled Tomato and Pepper Salad
Broccoli with Quinoa Salad and Basil Vinaigrette
Roasted Squash Breakfast Bowl

Kitchen Sink Recipe

Squash Posole

Quick and Easy Dinner

Fresh Tomato Soup Spiked with Chipotle Cream

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September 3, 2015

I don’t know about you folks but it feels like a major accomplishment to get our kids back to school.  However, it’s not just children who return to school.  We’ve lost five valuable crew members back to the academic life or other ventures.  Steve and I like to thank Joel, Gage, Dana, Osha and Sophie for their hard work this summer.  Dana and Joel are off to teaching positions, Gage and Sophie back to school.  Osha begins an AmeriCorps position on the west coast.

New employees begin work this week and next week.  It is a challenge to join our field crew this time of year.  The experienced folks are seasoned and accustomed to working outdoors.  Everyone is knowledgeable about farming details, even the employees who began their first year with us this May.  Fortunately, we are a welcoming bunch.  We will share our gallons of sunscreen and show them where to put their lunch so the barn cats won’t find it.  Beth

IMG_0830 gage
Gage finishes a particularly messy mowing job.

IMG_2142 crew joel osha
Osha and Joel harvest spinach this spring.

IMG_1782 crew dana
Dana weeds carrots.

IMG_1862 crew sophie
Sophie bunches kale.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (Sept 3/4, 2015, week #16, green EOW)

This is such a nice summer box.  It typifies the abundance this time of year.  Steve chose the best red watermelons for you this week, thinking many of you will celebrate Labor Day with barbecues or picnics.

Sweet corn, 5 ears
Mixed green & yellow wax beans, 2 lb
Tomatoes, 4 lb, mixed slicing and plum
Red watermelon
Broccoli, 1 medium head
Orano peppers, about 3
Colored bell pepper, 1
Walla Walla onions, 1 or 2 or 3
Basil, 1 husky branch
We have some treats to share.  Most sites will get …
… globe or Japanese eggplant OR an extra bell pepper OR an extra corn OR an heirloom tomato.

Next week’s box will probably contain beans, tomatoes, edamame soybeans, broccoli, basil, onions, peppers, and more.

Sweet corn – This is the last delivery of corn.  A minority of ears have bugs at the tip and will need to be trimmed.  It’s that time of year; corn pests are more problematic in the later plantings.
Basil – This is a new Italian basil variety for us, chosen because it’s resistant to a disease that often shows up this time of year.  We like the variety; it’s a bit more prone to flower but the flavor is good.


Comforting Classics

Basil Aioli
Eggplant Involtini
Four Bean Salad
Tomato, Green Bean, Basil Pasta Salad
Seared Green Beans
Stewed Tomatoes with Onions and Herbs

Outside the Box Recipes

Greek Olive Pesto
Yellow Wax Bean Refrigerator Pickles
Kung Pao Stir Fry with Tofu or Chicken, Eggplant, Peppers, and Broccoli
Broccoli with Basil Gremolata
Tomato Salad with Parmesan and Olives

Kitchen Sink Recipe

Labor Day Composed Salad

Quick and Easy Dinner Idea

Grilled Burgers or Veggie Burgers with Simple Sauteed Corn

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Everyday beauty

I bought a smart phone recently and find myself taking more photos of our farm’s everyday beauty.

IMG_1673 cabbage green shades
The cabbage family grows in many shades of gray-green. From front, two types of cabbage, then Brussels sprouts, then more cabbage, then our new solar array.  We installed the array for its blue tint.

IMG_1909 eggplant shadows
Once in a while, an eggplant will form rings of color emanating from the stem and calyx.  See how the rings echo the shape of the calyx?  We assume it’s related to light exposure with a new ring forming during each day/night cycle.  It could be temperature-related instead.  There’s a science project in there!

IMG_3145 alfalfa moth2
The alfalfa is in full bloom. We planted it on the scrubby parts of our farm and rarely cut it – it’s there to keep the soil in place and provide habitat for beneficial insects. The blooms come in every shade of lilac. The scent is incredible at full bloom. Of course, the alfalfa blossoms draw many visitors.

IMG_1678 billy frog2
Billy rescued this gorgeous frog and relocated it to a safer spot. Caitlyn took the photo.  We think it’s a leopard frog but could be a pickerel frog.

IMG_1283 flowers in peppers
IMG_1293 ageratum
We plant flowers in our pepper fields to separate the different varieties. (We grew 28 pepper varieties this year.)  The flowers help us keep our bearings, but also bring a jolt of color that we all appreciate.

IMG_1893 pepper label flowers2
The pepper variety marker gets placed at the base of the flowers so it’s easy to find.

IMG_1762 fennel flowers
Steve tilled around this patch of bolted fennel to provide short-term habitat for beneficial insects.  It’s another fragrant beauty.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (August 27/28, 2015, week #15, purple EOW)

Make salsa this week. We’ve sent all the usual ingredients; ripe tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, hot peppers, sweet peppers. Your choice between the sweet Walla Walla onion or the more pungent red onion. I mentioned to the crew that this is our annual salsa box. Their immediate response was ‘Watermelon salsa! Kale salsa!” Turned out that at least one person in the group had made salsa with every ingredient in this week’s box.

Tomatoes, 3.8 lb, mixed slicing & plum
Cilantro, 1 bunch
Garlic, 1 head
Walla Walla onion, 1
Red onion, 1
Jalapeño chiles, 2
Red frying peppers, 2+
Orano peppers, 2+
Yellow or orange bell pepper, 1
Orange or yellow watermelon
Kale, 1 bunch
You will receive two things from this list:
Cucumber OR heirloom tomato OR zucchini OR cherry tomatoes

Next week’s box will probably contain tomatoes, peppers, basil, onions, sweet corn, beans and more.

Jalapeño chiles – These are hot.  You can reduce the heat by removing the seeds and inner membrane of the pepper.


Comforting Classics

Quick Juicy Salsa
Roasted, Seared and Simmered Salsa
Kale Smoothie
Watermelon Popsicles
Blue Room Cilantro Marinade

Outside the Box Recipes

Salsa Carnaval
Braised Lentil and Kale Salad with Grilled Steak or Salmon Chimichurri
Cheese and Sweet Pepper Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce
Watermelon Lassi
Cilantro Oil

Kitchen Sink Recipe

Taco Salad with Kale

Quick and Easy Dinner Idea

Szechuan Pepper and Zucchini Kebabs with Shrimp

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Halfway there

This week begins the second half of our CSA season. There’s so much great produce yet to come.

These is peak work season for us.  We’re harvesting like mad, but still getting our winter storage crops established.  Let’s share some highlights of the past week.

IMG_1697 onions on wagon
Onions are the first seeds we plant in the greenhouse each February. They start as tiny threadlike seedlings, and need so much tending between February and August.  It feels like an accomplishment to nurture them from their weak beginning all the way to harvest.  About one third of the crop is harvested.

IMG_1699 onions in greenhouse
IMG_1753 onions in greenhouse
The onions spend a week or two in the greenhouse to dry before going into cool storage. At top, Gage, Billy and Boi roll crates from the harvest wagon into the greenhouse.

IMG_1744 muskmelon tasting
From left, Jon, Billy and Boi sample muskmelons at lunch. Steve harvests watermelons, the crew harvests muskmelons. We grow multiple varieties. Learning to judge ripeness for each variety requires lots of sampling. It’s part of the job.

IMG_1779 dana kelcie weed carrots
When our harvests are finished each day, we head out to the fields to weed carrots.  Five acres of fall carrots have kept us at this task for weeks.  From left, Kelcie and Dana weed carrots.  Dana is one of several folks leaving us to return to school, either as a student or (like Dana) a teacher.

IMG_1732 rain from porch
After 31 days without rain, Tuesday night’s storm was very, very welcome.  Dry weather is great for the vegetables (it keeps most diseases in check) but hard on Steve who is responsible for irrigation.

IMG_1711 grease travelling gun
IMG_1713 grease travelling gun2
Steve greases the travelling irrigation gun. It’s been used heavily during the past four weeks.

I realize that’s a lot of photos but so much is happening.  Enjoy your week.  Enjoy your veggies.  Beth

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (August 20/21, 2015, week #14, green EOW)

Sweet corn, 7 ears
Muskmelon OR red watermelon
Tomatoes, 3.8 lb, mostly slicing tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes, 1 pint
Orano orange peppers, 2
Red frying pepper, 1
Colored bell pepper, 1
Cucumbers AND/OR Silver Slicers AND/OR pickles
Small globe OR Japanese eggplant, near 1 lb
Walla Walla onions, about 2
Thai basil, 1 bunch
Some sites will get 1 modest head lettuce.

Next week’s box will probably contain tomatoes, peppers, melon, cucumbers, zucchini, kale, onions, garlic, cilantro and more.

Orano peppers (orange, tapered, sweet) – These are great snacking peppers.  Sweet and flavorful, they are excellent raw.  Pack one in your lunch.  These sweet orange peppers look like frying peppers but behave like bell peppers during cooking.
‘Thai Magic’ basil – This basil variety has a hint of anise flavor.  Great in Thai and Indonesian dishes, it’s a fine substitute for Italian basil.  We plant this cultivar for variety, and because it is resistant to a disease that often damages basil in late summer.
‘Summercrisp’ lettuce – We’ll fit these into boxes where there’s room.  As usual, we harvest lettuce small this time of year to avoid problems that develop in warm weather.


Comforting Classics

Zesty Corn Relish
Baba Ghanouj
Laurie Colwin’s Tomato Pie
Bread and Butter Pickle
Green Salad with Grilled Shrimp, Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Thai Basil Vinaigrette
Rustic Roasted Italian Frying Peppers and Tomatoes with Ziti

Outside the Box Recipes

Sweet Corn and Basil Lasagna
Marinated Roasted Asian Eggplant
Smoky Tomato Vinaigrette
IPA Pickles
Thai Cucumber and Tomato Salad
Charred Sweet Peppers with Parmesan

Kitchen Sink Recipe
Feel free to add corn kernels, and roasted or grilled eggplant to this dish. It is very forgiving.


Quick and Easy Dinner Idea

Rice Stuffed Tomato

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Big picture, small details

Steve had a chance to step back and take a broader look at organic farming this week. He attended the Student Organic Seed Symposium (SOSS) in Madison, not as a student but as a community member. Steve studied plant breeding at UW/Madison and we maintain close ties with the horticulture department, which houses one of the largest public vegetable breeding programs in the country.  I’ve written before about our collaborations with Dr. Irwin Goldman and Clare Luby at UW/Madison.  I’ll write soon about this year’s projects.

SOSS describes itself as a “student-driven symposium focussed on fostering dialogue between students, researchers and industry professionals.”  I read that and thought “farmers too” then realized that (ha!) we are “industry professionals.”  The symposium brought some of our heroes to Madison: Tom Stearns of High Mowing Seeds; Rob Johnson, founder of Johnnys Seeds; John Navazio, friend and crop breeder at Johnnys Seeds, plus Irwin Goldman and Bill Tracy of UW/Madison.  They are all stars of organic vegetable breeding.  Steve attended the Organic Seed School, a day of discussions and demonstrations about breeding vegetable varieties specifically for organic conditions, then joined a evening discussion on the same topic.  Our farming work often feels routine this time of year.  It’s good to pause, consider the larger issues we are involved with, and learn something new.

IMG_1670 nienhuis
Today, UW prof Jim Nienhuis brought a group of students, scientists and farmers to visit our farm. All are visitors from Central America. Jim brings a group each year to tour our farm. The group is intensely interested in small scale agriculture. We answer as many questions as we can.  I think we learn as much from the exchange as they do.

Then it was back to work for Steve, specifically melons.  Steve harvests every watermelon we grow for you, unlike other crops which are harvested by our capable crew.  Judging watermelon ripeness is exacting, and Steve remains the expert.  The man loves watermelons and wants to send you our best melons.  You would not believe how many he eats this time of year.  Beth

DSCF7591 steve david melon3
Excuse the older photo. I haven’t snapped Steve in the melon patch yet this year. From left, Bri, Kyle, David and Steve harvest melons.

When should you refrigerate tomatoes?

Ripe tomatoes (top) and less-ripe tomatoes (bottom).

As usual, we have packed a mix of ripe and less-ripe tomatoes so you can stretch them through the week. The top two tomatoes in the photo are ready to eat. The bottom tomatoes need to ripen at room temperature for a few days.  Put on your counter or keep in a brown paper bag.

Tomatoes retain their best flavor and texture when stored at room temperature, no lower than 55oF.  However, you should refrigerate your tomatoes if they are fully ripe and you don’t expect to eat them right away.  It is better to sacrifice a little flavor and texture than lose your tomatoes to rot.  Also, fully-ripe tomatoes are less sensitive to chilling injury.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (August 13/14, 2015, week #13, purple EOW)

Sweet corn, 7 or 8 ears
Tomatoes, 3.5 lb, mostly slicers, maybe a few Romas
Red watermelon AND/OR muskmelon
Italian beans, 3/4 lb
Carrots, 2 lb
Red bell peppers, 2
Red Italian frying pepper, 1
Walla Walla onion, 1
Red onion, 1 or 2
Parsley, 1 bunch
We have some small harvests to share.  Each site will receive globe eggplant OR Japanese eggplant OR Silver Slicer cucumbers OR cucumber OR zucchini.

Next week’s box will probably contain plum and slicing tomatoes, melon, peppers, garlic, herbs and more summer veggies.

Melons – Each site will get either ‘Starlight’ red watermelon OR a ripe muskmelon.  One or two sites will get a small red watermelon plus a small muskmelon named “Sugar Cube,” a variety bred to be small and tasty.
Onions –  We’ve sent a sweet Walla Walla onion plus a more pungent red onion.  The mild Wallas are best raw, the red onion will fry nicely.  We sent this combination because you can tell them apart.


Comforting Classics

Carrot Salad with Caramelized Lemon
Sweet Red Pepper Sauce with Capellini
Light Corn Vegetable Soup
Basic Summer Tomato Sauce
Eggplant and Pepper Bruschetta 
Marinated Carrot and Onion Pickles

Outside the Box Recipes

Sesame Noodles with Peppers and Carrot
Smoky Red Pepper Sauce
Corn O’Brien
Catalan Tomato Bread
Eggplant Tomato Tian
Balsamic Onion Jam

Kitchen Sink Recipe
Feel free to add shredded carrot and even a bit of shucked corn, if desired. Add more liquid to accommodate these extra vegetables.

Shrimp and Pepper Paella

Quick and Easy Dinner Idea

Strip Steaks with Sweet Pepper Ragout

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August 6/7, 2015

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (August 6/7, 2015, week #12, green EOW)

Sweet corn, 10 or 11 ears
Red or yellow watermelon OR 1-2 muskmelons
Slicing tomatoes, 1.9 lb OR 1.25 lb plum tomatoes + 1-2 slicing tomatoes
Italian beans, 2 lb
A bell pepper OR 1-2 eggplants
Cucumbers OR pickles OR Silver Slicers
White onion, 1 large
Basil, 1 – 2 sprigs
You’ll receive 1-2 zucchini if we can fit it in the box.

Next week’s box will probably contain sweet corn, Italian beans, melons, tomatoes, peppers, onions, herbs and more.

White onion – This onion is more pungent than the Walla Wallas that we’ve sent recently.  White onions can be fried at high heat but are not as easy to fry as a yellow storage onion.


Comforting Classics

Tomato and Pepper Braised Romano Beans
Chicken and Corn Pudding
Tomato Tarte Tatin
Aromatic Zucchini Basil Bread
Salmon with Brown Butter Cucumbers
Richard Olney’s Onion Pudding

Outside the Box Recipes

Tofu with Sweet Peppers, Romano Beans, Tomatoes and Eggplant in Tikka Spice
Siwik’s Mexican Grilled Corn
Tomato, Cucumber and Corn Panzanella
Chorizo and Zucchini Soft Tacos
Chilled Cucumber Melon Soup with Coconut
Brazilian Onion Bites

Kitchen Sink Recipe
Feel free to add shredded zucchini, blanched corn and chopped pepper too. Just add more liquid.

Tomato and Green Pepper Shakshuka with Eggs

Quick and Easy Dinner

Melon and Tomato Salad with Ricotta Salata

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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


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!


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.


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:

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.


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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