Week #4, June 14/15, 2018

Farm News

I watched Steve slowly relax on Saturday night as the rain began.  He loves gentle rain on Friday or Saturday night, perfect timing so it doesn’t get in the way of field work.  It’s great when it falls from the sky without any irrigation effort from us.  Free water!

We accomplished a lot this week.  Sweet potatoes and winter squash are both in the ground.  It will be a long time until those are ready to harvest but this is the first step.


We have a pretty strawberry field this year.  It’s weed-free and the rows are clear and nicely mulched with straw.  Steve weeded the field last summer with our new finger weeder cultivator.  It really worked.  We planted the field a year ago, took care of it all summer, and will harvest berries this year and next.  Then the field is finished.  Strawberries are big time investment but are worth the effort.  From left, Charlotte, Billy, Kristen and Maggie pick this week’s berries.


Planting sweet potato slips with an old strawberry transplanter.  It’s practically an antique (look at the wheels) but still functions.  This is an easy job but you have to like the people you work with; it’s a snug fit with four people.  From left, Charlotte, Jory, Sena and Kristen.  Raul drives the tractor.

Late prairie burn

We burned our experimental prairie last week.  This is a bizarre time to burn prairie but it’s thought to suppress introduced cool season grasses in favor of native species.  This is an experimental approach.  Our goal is to convert this neglected field to prairie to provide habitat for beneficial insects.  In the process, it’s developed into an engrossing hobby for me.  Steve reviewed this newsletter for me and said “Hmm, there are many more photos of your prairie than of the rest of the farm.”  Yeah, that’s how it is.  Beth


It’s hard to believe that a field this green would burn but it does.  The fire stays close to the ground, burning flammable duff at the soil surface.  The grass leaves remain green but fall over as the fire passes.  


Burn boss Kristen.  She has years of experience with prairie management and burns.  She works for us now, and it’s been great having her here as a resource with this project.


By two days later, the grass leaves had withered.


Then we chopped the dry residue and planted seedlings that I grew in the greenhouse this spring.  Most of the seed is from local prairies.  Over the past year, I volunteered with the local Prairie Bluff chapter of The Prairie Enthusiasts (TPE).  We collect seed to expand TPE plantings and I get to keep some for my own use.


Before the burn, I collected monarch butterfly caterpillars and moved them to safety.  There are many this year.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes

Strawberries, 1 scant pint
Sugar snap peas, 0.4 lb
Bok choy, 1
Zucchini & summer squash, ~3 lb
Swiss chard, 1 bunch
Scallions, red or white, 1 bunch
Italian parsley, 1 bunch
Red Romaine lettuce
Rhubarb, ~1.75 lb

Next week’s box will probably contain strawberries, snap & snow peas, zucchini, lettuce, scallions, garlic scapes, and more.

Strawberries! – We’ve been waiting for these.  This first picking is small but more are ripening for next week.
♦ Ripe strawberries are perishable.  Eat them immediately, or store in the refrigerator.  Most berries are quite clean.  If you want to clean your berries, rinse gently.  Don’t soak them, just rinse.
♦ Please recycle your strawberry containers.  We no longer collect them for re-use.  Please don’t return them to your pick-up site.

Sugar snap peas (plump pea pods) – These peas should be eaten pod and all.  They are delicious raw, or very lightly cooked or stir-fried.
Preparation: They will need a quick rinse to remove faded gray blossoms.
Remove the strings before eating: snap off the stem end and pull the string down the concave side of the pod (the inward-curving side).  Throw away the string and eat the pod.
Storage: Refrigerate.

Zucchini & summer squash – It was a very productive squash week, so we’re sending lots.  Zucchini and summer squash need refrigeration but do not do well at very cold temperatures, as they will soften and form pits in their surface. Refrigerate these squash but in the warmest part of your fridge.

Swiss chard (pretty bundle of green leaves) – Our crew did a nice job mixing colors for pretty bunches.  Swiss chard 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.

Scallions – You will get either red or white scallions.  They can be used interchangeably.  We started growing the red ones because they are so darn pretty.

Parsley – We have harvested flat-leaved Italian parsley for you this week.  It looks a bit different than curly parsley but they are used interchangeably.

RECIPES

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Join our Facebook discussion group.
Beth’s box logic. 
– We’re sending rhubarb this week because we have the time to harvest it.  Next week will be too busy with time-consuming pea and strawberry harvests, plus the other veggies.  If you want to use your rhubarb in combination with the upcoming strawberries, just freeze it.  Wash, dry, and chop it, then freeze in a plastic bag or any container.  You can use the frozen rhubarb in most baked recipes without thawing.  Of course, it’s ready to use fresh as well.
– I like to pack parsley and scallions together because they combine well in grain salads like tabouleh.  This week, I plan to make a farro salad with snap peas, grilled zucchini, scallions and parsley.  We’ll add lots of lemon-olive oil dressing, then eat it over lettuce.

LOCAL THYME/ Comforting Classics
Flourless Rhubarb-Almond Upside Down Cake
Soba and Bok Choy Stir Fry
Black Eyed Pea and Chard Soup
Wilted Chard with Almonds

LOCAL THYME/ Outside the Box Recipes
Chicken with Lemon Rhubarb Sauce
Grilled Bok Choy
Moroccan Chard and Couscous Stuffed Zucchini
Raw Chard and Rice Noodle Salad

LOCAL THYME/ Quick and Easy Meal
Herbed Ricotta Pesto with Linguine and Summer Squash

RECIPES FROM LAUREN

ZUCCHINI, CHARD & CHICKPEA TACOS
I love this dish over the grill for the char I get, but also because I love cooking outside as much as possible this time of year, but it does require one of those fancy grill pans that could keep small zucchini pieces and chickpeas from falling into the fire. If you don’t have one of those, do the broiler method instead. Both are mentioned below. Lauren.

Makes a lot of little tacos
Serves 6-8 with a side dish (4-6 as a meal)
Takes 30 minutes

2 medium zucchini, cut into strips (about 1/4-inch wide by 3/4-inch long as best you can)
1 (15 ounce can) chickpeas, rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt + pinch or two
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bunch chard, ribs removed and sliced, leaves rinsed, left wet, and roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 lime
3-4 scallions, sliced
Corn tortillas
3-4 avocados
Sour cream

  1. Preheat your grill to medium high or preheat the broiler of your oven.
  2. In a large bowl, combine zucchini and chickpeas. Toss with two tablespoons of olive oil until well-coated. Add chili powder, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, coriander, and pepper. Toss until zucchini is as evenly coated as possible. Place on a grill pan or baking sheet. If using the grill, cook for 15-20 minutes until charred in spots. If using the oven, broil for 10-15 minutes until charred in spots. I had to do mine on two pans (or in two batches) for the best char.
  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining two tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Toss the sliced chard stem into the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the just rinsed chard leaves (while still wet). The pan will spit and splatter a bit, but don’t worry about it. Add a pinch or two of salt and the red pepper flakes and stir a couple times. Let cook over high heat until wilted. Again, it will char in a couple spots and that’s fine. Squeeze half a lime over the chard once it’s cooked to your liking and remove from heat.
  4. Just before serving, toss your corn tortillas on the grill to warm. Serve with grilled zucchini and chickpeas, chard, sliced scallions, a generous amount of avocado and sour cream.

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SPRING COBB SALAD
I love a good cobb salad this time of year when we’re all swimming in lettuce and craving something hearty. I always put bacon, egg and feta cheese on mine but you could certainly also add some cold cuts (turkey and ham are common) or substitute blue or gorgonzola for the feta. The veggies too can be super versatile but I love things that are fresh and crunchy so I put scallions, bok choy stems and sliced snap peas into the mix. Lauren.

Serves 4 as a meal (more as a side salad)
Takes 25 minutes

8 slices bacon, preferably thick-cut
6 eggs
1/2 head lettuce (or approximately 8-12 cups), washed, dried and roughly chopped
4 scallions, white and pale green parts only (dark green tops saved for dressing), sliced
4-6 bok choy stems, sliced
1/3 pound snap peas, ends trimmed and sliced
4 ounces feta, crumbled

Parsley Buttermilk Ranch
Makes 1 cup

4 scallions, dark green tops only
1/2 bunch parsley
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic powdder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 cup olive oil

  1. Cook bacon however you usually do. Or if you want to try what we do at our home, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and lay bacon on a baking sheet. Place in oven (right away- before its preheated) and set the timer for 20 minutes. Ta da! Perfect bacon every time. If you did find the thick-cut stuff, it may take more like 26-28 minutes to get it crispy.
  2. While the bacon cooks, hard-boil your eggs. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the eggs and cook for 12 minutes. Remove to an ice bath for at least 2 minutes (this will make the eggs easier to peel) and then get to peeling.
  3. Then, prepare your dressing. Toss your scallion greens and parsley in the bowl o f a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add buttermilk, yogurt, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder, pepper and dill. Process until smooth. With the top of the food processor open, drizzle in olive oil until the dressing comes together. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. (This is easiest in a food processor but if you don’t have one you can just finely mince your dark green scallions tops and parsley leaves and combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth).
  4. Serve your salad by putting a quarter of the lettuce in each of four bowls. Add cooked bacon, sliced hard-boiled egg, scallions, bok choy stems, snap peas and feta. Drizzle with dressing and serve/eat immediately!

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