Monthly Archives: May 2018

Week #2, May 31/June 1, 2018

June 1 check reminder

Many of you paid us with checks dated to June 1.  We will deposit the checks on Monday June 4.

Fast-moving week

The heat this week was ridiculous.  Perhaps you noticed.  Madison set a record with four days in the 90’s.  We are proud of our work crew – they soldiered through, drinking lots of water and gatorade and taking breaks in the shade.  Even seasoned farmhands (like most of our crew) have to re-acclimate to hot weather.  

The heat wave advanced most of our crops.  We’ve quickly switched from running behind schedule to running ahead of schedule.  It is head spinning.  This week’s box contains next week’s spinach, escarole and mint.  In turn, some of the following week’s crops will be ready next week (lettuce field #2, zucchini).  We lost a few spring plantings that couldn’t handle the heat: radishes, some spinach, and the new Abyssinian mustard we planted.  We have more radish and spinach plantings and will see how those younger plants fare.  The asparagus did not respond well to the hot weather.  We’ll harvest again next week but then have to decide whether to end the asparagus season early to let the plants recover and store root reserves for next year.  We’ll let you know.
Bright spots of the week:  It was a big relief when the temperatures dropped.  It rained gently on Wednesday.  The heat-loving crops grew a lot (tomatoes, peppers, squash).  Our mama farm cat moved her kittens back into the garage where we can tame them.  Life is good again.



Top; the strawberry field is blooming beautifully.  You can see young berries forming in the bottom photo.  Steve thinks the first berries might be ready in two weeks but that’s a guess.



The zucchini and summer squash fields loved the heat!  These should be ready to pick next week.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes
May 31/June 1, 2018 (Thurs/Fri sites)
Week #2, purple EOW and sun Sampler

Remember, we list storage, prep and cooking information on each vegetable the first time we pack it in the CSA boxes.  See last week’s newsletter for info on asparagus, spinach, lettuce, green garlic and rhubarb.  If we have special instructions or insights to offer, we’ll list them here.  For example, I’ve included freezing instructions for rhubarb.

Asparagus, 0.6 lb
Escarole, 1
Spinach, 1 big bunch
Button mushroom, 12 oz
Red leaf lettuce
White salad turnips & greens, 1 bunch
Green garlic, 1 bunch
Mint, 1 sprig
Rhubarb, ~1.75 lb

Next week’s box will probably contain kale, lettuce, white salad turnips, scallions, shiitake mushrooms and more.

Escarole (large head of wavy green leaves) – This member of the chicory family can be eaten raw or cooked.  Its slightly bitter flavor is a good addition to mixed salads.  It is excellent cooked alone or mixed with other greens.  It cooks quickly, but not as quickly as spinach.  Cover and refrigerate.

Button mushrooms – These organic mushrooms are from Hidden Valley Mushrooms from Wisconsin Dells.  We buy mushrooms from Mary every year; they are a great addition to spring salads and quiches.  Here are Mary’s suggestions for storing the mushrooms.  Store separate from leafy greens, which hasten mushroom aging.  If storing for more than a few days, remove from the box and store in a paper bag with holes punched in the side.  Keep dry.  Don’t wash to clean, just wipe with a damp cloth.

White salad turnips (bunched white roots with green tops) – I know that returning members look forward to these sweet and delicious turnips, which taste nothing like the turnips that are harvested in fall.
– Storage: Cover and refrigerate.
– Uses: Both the turnip roots and tops are edible.  The roots are excellent raw; Slice and add to salads.  They can be cooked and are especially good when lightly sauteed in butter.  Stir as little as possible so they brown on at least one side.  The turnips greens are excellent cooked.  Treat them like mustard greens.
– Our favorite use:  Slice the roots very thinly and combine with a mixture of rice vinegar, mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil.  Eat immediately or marinate.

Mint – Everyone gets one sprig with about 6 to 8 leaves.  Refrigerate in a small container.

Rhubarb – Remember, rhubarb is easy to freeze.  Simply chop and freeze in a freezer bag.  It does not need to be blanched.  When it’s time to bake, just add the frozen rhubarb to your batter.  You’ll need to cook baked goods a few minutes longer, e.g. about 5 minutes longer for a cake in a 9 x 13 pan.

RECIPES

Visit our 2018 Recipe Log, a week-by-week list of 2018 recipes.
Visit our 2017 Recipe Log, a week-by-week list of last year’s recipes.
Beth’s box logic: The mint sprig is small but we included it specifically so you can make spring rolls with mint, spinach or lettuce, plus a few spears of cooked asparagus.  We usually add strips of marinated cooked tofu but shrimp are good if you have them.  
– Here’s a useful recipe for how to handle the rice paper wrappers: Rainbow Vegetable Spring Rolls.  
– Use any vegetables you like. 
– We make a dipping sauce of soy sauce + rice vinegar + thinly sliced scallions or green garlic.  It’s easier to dip or spoon the sauce into your spring rolls as you eat them, rather than adding the sauce to the rolls as described in the recipe.

LOCAL THYME/ Comforting Classics
Asparagus and Spinach Pasta Salad with Feta
Wilted Escarole with Pine Nuts and Raisins
Farro Salad with Salad Turnips, Turnip Greens, Mint and Walnuts
Shaved Asparagus and Maple Mint Salad

LOCAL THYME/ Outside the Box Recipes
Green Curry Shrimp Soup with Spinach and Salad Turnips
Escarole, Salad Turnip and Apple Salad
Pan Seared Chicken with Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Sauce
Rhubarb Mint Vinaigrette

LOCAL THYME/ Quick and Easy Recipe
Spinach Frittata with Turnip Greens

Recipes from Lauren

SPRING SALAD WITH TURNIPS & LEMON CREAM
Every winter I get a new cookbook focused on vegetables to expand my repertoire of recipes and every year I am surprised by the variety of textures and flavors I discover within familiar foods. Re-discovering vegetables in new ways is my favorite thing about cooking. Inspired by Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons cookbook, this recipe made me fall back in love with spring lettuces and salads. The lemon cream dressing is delicate and feminine really letting the fresh lettuce and floral turnip flavors take center stage. Enjoy! Lauren

Serves 4-6
Takes 20 minutes

1 bunch turnips
1/2 head red leaf lettuce, rinsed and dried well
5-10 fresh mint leaves, torn
1/2 cup lemon cream dressing (below)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup salted roasted sunflower seeds

  1. Remove the greens from the turnips. Wash, remove any yellowed pieces and pat dry. Roughly chop and add to a large bowl. Roughly chop lettuce and add to bowl. Trim the ends off the turnips and very thinly slice them (use a mandolin if you have one). Add the sliced turnips to the bowl of greens along with the mint leaves.
  2. Prepare the lemon cream dressing (below) and add to greens. Use your hands to evenly distribute the dressing (though tongs may also work). Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
  3. Top with sunflower seeds.

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Lemon Cream Dressing
Makes 1 cup

2-3 green garlic, quartered and sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

  1. In a small bowl combine garlic, lemon juice and lemon zest. Add cream, followed by salt and pepper. Whisk to combine until it starts to thicken then add olive oil. Continue whisking until dressing gets a bit lighter and airy. Use within a day of making.

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SHAVED ASPARAGUS, SPINACH & MUSHROOM QUICHE

One 9-inch quiche
Serves 4-6
Takes 50 minutes

1 batch favorite pie dough (this makes two servings) or a store-bought pie crust
2 tablespoons butter
12 ounces button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 bunch spinach, leaves torn or roughly chopped
1-1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
1/2 pound asparagus, shaved
4 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. If you made your pie dough from scratch, pre-bake the crust with pie weights for 15 minutes. If you are using a store-bought crust, follow package directions.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Saute for 5-10 minutes until just beginning to release their juices then add the spinach. Stir to combine and cover. Turn off the heat but leave pan on burner for five minutes just to steam the spinach. Add shaved asparagus along with remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine and then pour into pre-baked crust.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, cream and milk. Whisk until smooth then add Parmesan. Pour over asparagus mixture. Shake pan to even out the filling. Bake for 30-35 minutes until cooked through.

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Week #1, Let’s start!

Welcome to our CSA!  Deliveries begin this week for weekly members and for green every-other-week (EOW) members.  Go here to check the delivery schedule for other shares.

Things you need to know.

♦  We post this newsletter/blog each Wednesday night, with a list of veggies for the week, quantities, information about storage and preparation, news of the farm, recipes, and a forecast for the next week’s box.  We alert you by email on Wednesday night once the newsletter is posted and ready to read.
♦  Want earlier notice of what will be in the box?  Check the sidebar on our website homepage around 7 p.m. on Wednesday night.  I’ll post the list under “Box Contents.”  I also provide a tentative list for the following week in the Veggie List section of this newsletter.  The next week’s list is rarely complete but the items listed are ones we feel confident about.
♦  EOW, sampler and weekly members, we assume you read all the newsletters, even on your “off” weeks.  This newsletter (and our emails to you) are our means to communicate with you.
♦  The first few boxes of the season are often the lightest.  EOW members, do not worry that you have signed up for the wrong share.  Our deliveries get heavier and more abundant as the season progresses.
♦  We will sometimes write “OR” in the produce list, e.g. green leaf OR red bibb lettuce.  You will receive one of these crops.  All the boxes at each site are identical; we pack the same crops for all the members at each site.  Please don’t open other members’ boxes.
♦  Wash your produce well this week to remove grit.  It has rained a lot lately, driving grit into the asparagus and anything that forms a head (lettuce, bok choy, spinach).  Our crew took extra care with washing but expect to wash everything.  You should always wash your produce!
♦  On Thursday, we deliver CSA boxes to Evansville, Fitchburg, Madison, McFarland, Middleton and Oregon.
♦  On Friday, we deliver CSA boxes to Brookfield, Janesville, Mequon, Milwaukee, Waukesha and Wauwatosa.

A Tricky Spring Decision

In mid-April, we had to decide whether to transplant our precious greenhouse seedlings the day before a predicted snow storm.  Seems crazy, right?  Why not just wait?  Well, we were already two weeks behind schedule, the plants were growing actively and our greenhouses were completely full.  We had a CSA schedule to meet!

We decided to plant.  As a rule, we use every opportunity to plant and transplant in late March and early April.  If the ground gets soaked, it can take a long time to dry.  We use row cover (a lightweight fabric) as an insurance policy, to moderate the cold and wind and to gather the sun’s warmth.  This is a situation where experience is so helpful.  We’ve been through this before and have yet to lose a crop by putting it out too early.  Of course, we did wait for the 15 degree nights to pass before transplanting.  That’s just common sense.


Our greenhouse seedlings are precious.  It takes 6 to 8 weeks for them to grow to transplanting size, which means that we cannot replace them.


We transplanted on a beautiful sunny day, and covered the plants with floating row cover.  It snowed the next day, weighing down the plants and freezing the row cover to the ground.


The plants did fine.  The row cover makes a nice shelter and traps heat from the ground.


The row cover was seriously beaten up by the weather.  We patched it together because we did not want to replace it with a new $300 piece.  Your bok choy has some insect damage as a result; the flea beetles snuck in through the holes.


Otherwise, everything did very, very well.



Harvest day!


The happy resolution to the story.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes
May 24/25, 2018 (Th/Fri sites), week #1, green EOW

Asparagus, ~1 lb
Spinach, 1 big bunch
German Butterball potatoes, 3.5 lb
Green leaf lettuce
Salad radishes, 1 bunch
Green garlic, 1 bunch
Bok choy, 1 large
Rhubarb, 2 lb

Next week’s box will probably contain asparagus, spinach, button mushrooms, lettuce,  green garlic, Abyssinian mustard, rhubarb and more.

Asparagus – Enjoy this spring treat!  Your asparagus will be green or purple.  The purple variety turns dark green when cooked.  Its flavor is almost identical to normal green asparagus.  Wash your asparagus thoroughly to remove hidden grit.  Submerge in water with the tips pointing down, soak briefly, then swish vigorously and pull out of the water.  The draining action helps pull the grit out of the asparagus tips.  Repeat several times.
Storage: Asparagus is perishable, so eat it as soon as possible.  Store it in the paper bag we packed it in, and wrap loosely in a plastic bag.  The paper bag protects the asparagus tips from direct contact with the plastic bag.  The plastic bag keeps the asparagus from wilting.
Preparation: We snap our asparagus at harvest, rather than cutting.  Therefore, there is no need to snap the stalks to remove fibrous ends.  For the same reason, it is not necessary to peel the asparagus stalks.  It’s OK to trim the cut end a bit.
Cooking:  If your asparagus stalks vary greatly in size, you will want to cook the thicker ones longer.  Put an empty steamer pot over water, and bring the water to a boil.  Add the asparagus.  Cover and steam over medium heat until just tender.  Use two forks or a spatula to turn the asparagus during cooking, rotating the bottom spears to the top.  Drain and serve.  Alternatively, you can lay spears flat in the bottom of a broad pan, with ½ inch of water.  Also excellent broiled or grilled.  Good dressed with vinaigrette, or with lime juice, salt and pepper.

German Butterball potatoes –  Please refrigerate these potatoes.  They are in great shape now but will sprout within days if stored at room temperature.  They’ve been stored all winter and want to grow.  Store in a paper bag to protect from light, even in the fridge.  We grow everything we send in our CSA boxes except potatoes, some of the garlic, and mushrooms, all of which we buy from organic growers that we trust.  We purchased these potatoes from Jesse Perkins at Vermont Valley Farm.  German Butterballs are good all-around potatoes with outstanding flavor.  This variety was the first place winner in Rodale’s Organic Gardening “Taste Off.”  Best uses are roasted, boiled or fried.  With the predicted weather this weekend, you might want to make potato salad!  Jesse says the potatoes have a higher sugar content because of starch to sugar conversion during cold storage.  The potatoes taste a bit sweet, and will blacken slightly when fried.  It’s a harmless color change due to the sugar conversion.

Lettuce and spinach – Wash your greens to remove grit splashed into the heads by rain.  Cut to the size you like, submerge in water, swish gently, then pull from the water and drain in a colander.  Some weeks, you will need to repeat in fresh water.
Storage hint – To extend the storage life of your tender greens, wash them, dry in a salad spinner, then store in a dry container or bag.  Lettuce and spinach last much longer when handled this way.

Bok choy (large rosette with thick white stems and green leaves) – This Asian green is good for stir-frying or sautéing or in soup.  You can think of the stems and leaves as two separate vegetables.  The stems require longer cooking.  The leaves will cook almost as quickly as spinach.  Bok choy stores well, so feel free to pull off leaves as you need them, or use the whole head at once.  Refrigerate in a plastic bag.

Green garlic (looks like scallions, tastes like garlic) – Last fall, we planted garlic cloves that grew into the stalks we harvested this week.  If left to grow until mid-summer, the slim white bulb on this week’s garlic will divide and form the usual cluster of cloves in a garlic bulb.  This year’s green garlic is robust.
Preparation: Green garlic is more pungent than scallions, so slice thinly and use sparingly when raw.  It mellows when cooked.  Chop and add to any cooked dish that would benefit from garlic.  Use the white bulbs and pale green stems.  Avoid the dark green stems and leaves, as these are fibrous.

Rhubarb – Refrigerate in a plastic bag.  FYI, 2 lb of rhubarb yields 6 – 6.5 cups when chopped.
Stewed rhubarb:  This is the simplest way to prepare rhubarb.  Chop rhubarb into one inch chunks.  Stir over medium heat with a small amount of water in the bottom of the pan.  The rhubarb will release moisture as it cooks.  Stew until it softens and falls apart.  Sweeten to taste with honey or sugar.  Eat warm on its own, over vanilla ice cream, on pancakes, etc.

Recipes from chef Pat Mulvey at Local Thyme

Comforting Classics
Spinach Salad with Pan Seared Asparagus, Steamed Potatoes, Chickpeas and Oven Poached Egg
Pureed Potato and Asparagus Soup with Spinach
White Bean Stew with Potato and Bok Choy
Rhubarb Compote with Fresh Ricotta

Outside the Box Recipes
Grilled Pizza with Wilted Spinach and Shaved Asparagus
Saag Paneer
Rhubarb Glazed Bok Choy and Radish
Spatchcocked Chicken and Potatoes with Rhubarb Butter

Quick and Easy Recipe
Classic Warm Spinach Salad

Recipes from Lauren

BEEF & GREENS STIR FRY WITH RHUBARB SAUCE
Not many people realize that rhubarb is as amazing in savory dishes as it is in desserts.  Just like citrus, rhubarb lends a complex acidity and sweetness to dishes.  I love to use rhubarb in Asian style recipes with powerful flavors that can balance it (like toasted sesame oil and soy sauce).  Whip up this dish for a quick weeknight meal and remember why you waited so long for fresh produce.  Lauren.

Serves 4.
Takes 45 minutes.

1 large head Bok Choy
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, divided
2 tablespoons water, plus more as needed
1/2 pound spinach
2 cups rhubarb, diced
3 green garlic, minced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound raw flank steak, cut into strips
2 cups cooked rice
Toasted sesame seeds, optional

  1. If you don’t have cooked rice in the fridge, begin your rice according to package directions.
  2. Remove individual leaves from the bok choy and thoroughly wash. Thinly slice the stalks (like you would celery). Roughly chop the leaves and keep in a separate pile from the stalks.
  3. In a large wide saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil with 2 tablespoons water over medium heat. Add bok choy greens and spinach and toss with oil and water to coat. Cover pan and steam for 5 minutes until just wilted. Remove greens from pan with tongs and set aside. Leave juices in pan.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, rhubarb, green garlic, soy sauce, white sugar, honey, garlic powder and red pepper flakes to the same pan you cooked greens in. Simmer gently (and reduce mixture) over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, adding a tablespoon or two of water if it gets too thick. Remove sauce to a small bowl and again, don’t wipe out your pan.
  5. Add last tablespoon of toasted sesame oil to the pan along with bok choy stalks and steak. Cook over medium high heat 5-7 minutes until meat is cooked through. Add sauce and greens back to pan. Stir to combine and cook for about a minute, just to warm. Serve over rice and garnish with sesame seeds, if using.

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SPRING HASH
Ingredients adapted from Smitten Kitchen recipe
I have no shortage of amazing asparagus recipes in my repertoire but for some reason or another, I come back to this one every year. I love the combination of smoky bacon and fresh tender asparagus, but I also love the versatility and heartiness of this dish created by Smitten Kitchen. This time around I added green garlic and radishes. It’s a perfect place to hide radishes if you aren’t a huge fan. Cooked radishes don’t taste all that different from a potato and you’ll relish the slight spice and bite they bring. Enjoy!  Lauren.

Serves 4 depending what you serve with it.
Takes 45 minutes.

1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cups potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cup radishes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 green garlic, thinly sliced
0.90 – 1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet or other large frying pan over medium heat. Fry the bacon, turning it frequently so it browns and crisps evenly. This should take about 10 minutes. Remove it with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Leave the heat on and the bacon grease in the pan.
  2. Add the potatoes and radishes and donít move them for a couple minutes. Use this time to season them well with salt and pepper. Once theyíve gotten a little brown underneath, begin flipping and turning them, then letting them cook again for a few minutes. The idea is not to fight them off the frying pan, once theyíve gotten a little color, itís easier to flip them and youíve gotten closer to your goal of getting them evenly browned.
  3. When the potatoes and radishes are as crisped and brown as youíd like them ó this takes about 20 minutes ó add the green garlic and asparagus. Stir to combine and then add a lid. (It doesnít have to fit perfectly). Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes (thin spears of asparagus will take closer to 5 minutes, thick spears will take a bit longer) until asparagus is softened. Remove the lid, return the bacon to the pan for another minute, to reheat. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.
  4. Serve immediately with a fried egg on top and maybe a small salad of lettuce and thinly sliced radishes on the side.

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