Week #7; Our thoughts on the u-picks

From left, your strawberry guide Ari in 2014, and this year at age 17.

We hosted a second strawberry u-pick last weekend, by reservation only.  This one was much calmer than the u-pick held on Fathers’ Day.  We scheduled up to 10 groups per 20-minute arrival window and that worked smoothly.

Scheduled reservations seems an obvious u-pick strategy whether there’s a pandemic or not.  Let me explain why we have avoided them until now.  It is very difficult to predict how many strawberries are in a field. That’s why most u-pick farms simply offer berries “until sold out.”  If we offer a reservation, it is an implicit promise there will be berries when you arrive, even for later reservations.  Imagine if we ran out of berries for the later groups and someone had travelled all the way from Milwaukee?  What a mess.  By this past weekend, we had a better idea of how many berries were in the field.  However, we also ‘under-sold’ our reservations, knowing that some berries would go unpicked.  That’s exactly what happened.  While a waste, it was necessary to make the u-pick run smoothly.

I am explaining our thoughts and experiences because it’s clear that we will need to consider reservations for other u-picks this year.  We will do our best to make the events ‘fair’ for everyone (eg by offering Milwaukee-area members the first chance at early arrival times) but no system will be perfect.  At the same time, we cannot overtax our own limited time and energy.  The farm consumes all of our energy right now.  All!

We consider this past weekend a success.  Feedback from attending members was excellent. A few people had attended both u-picks, so they got to experience how calm the second weekend was. Other members confided that they had driven to the farm on June 21, were uncomfortable with the number of people, and simply drove away.  This weekend was a better system.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge our son Ari, your strawberry guide both weekends.  He was a whirling dervish the first weekend!  Let’s give him a round of applause!

Experiences of the week

The weather forecast on Monday predicted 1/10 inch rain, with a brief, midday thunderstorm.  We gathered after lunch and decided to wait while the lightning passed.  Then another cell popped up, then another.  The deluge went on for over an hour, totaling 2.5 inches.  Steve went out and turned off the irrigation.  In the meantime, we did a few chores but mostly socialized in our spacious pack shed.  Crew members told me afterwards how much they enjoyed this hour together. We work in teams, which are social, but this rainy day break was oddly enjoyable.

From left, Courtney, Ari, Zoe and Chance bring in the snap pea harvest.  It was a very productive week for peas!

Veggie List & Veggie Notes
Week #7, July 2/3, 2020
– Weekly shares
– EOW/ green

Strawberries, 1 scant pint
‘Caraflex’ cabbage, 2 medium
Sugar snap peas, 1.2 lb
Zucchini or summer squash, 1 – 1.75 lb
Romaine lettuce
Broccoli, 1 small head
Scallions, 1 bunch
Parsley, 1 bunch
Garlic scapes, a handful
– Some sites get Swiss chard.
– Some sites get Red Russian kale.

Next week’s box will probably contain cucumber (we hope!), zucchini, sugar snap peas, lettuce, basil, garlic scapes and more.

Strawberries – Folks, these berries survived 2.5 inches of rain on Monday.  They are ripe and perishable and need to be eaten immediately.  We’ll have either a pint or a half pint for everyone, and will find out when finish our berry harvests in the morning.

‘Caraflex’ cabbage – This is 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.”  We’re sending it this week so you can make slaw for your holiday picnics.

Scallions –  This is the last batch of scallions until fall.  We hope you enjoyed them.

FOR SOME SITES, 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.

Garlic scapes (curly green things) – Garlic scapes grow at the top of garlic plants.  They look like flower buds but are actually clusters of tiny bulblets.  We snap off the young scapes to direct the plants’ energy into forming garlic bulbs underground.  Use scapes as a substitute for garlic cloves.  They can be minced, mixed with olive oil, and added to stir fries or simple pasta dishes.  The scapes can be sautéed, but will not brown like garlic cloves.  Expect them to retain their crunch even when cooked, and to be milder than garlic cloves, closer in pungency to the green garlic we’ve sent.

Garlic scapes


Visit our 2020 Recipe Log or our 2019 Recipe Log or join our Facebook discussion group.

LOCAL THYME/ Cooking 101
Smoked Trout, Snap Pea and Cabbage Pasta Salad
Snap Pea and Strawberry Salad
Greek Swiss Chard or Kale Fritters

LOCAL THYME/ Cooking 202
Warm Japanese Cabbage Salad
Precious Snap Pea Sauté
Provençal Omelet


Takes 15 minutes
Serves 2-4 as a side + lots of leftover pesto for your fridge

4 cups snap peas or snow peas, ends trimmed
2-4 tablespoons Chard & Pistachio Pesto (see below)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Nasturtium, borage or other pretty edible flowers, optional

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Blanche peas for two minutes, drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Add peas to a small bowl with remaining ingredients and toss to coat evenly. Enjoy warm or cold (I like it best some hours later once it’s been chilled.

Chard & Pistachio Pesto
1 bunch rainbow chard (5-6 leaves), well dried
1/2 cup shelled and toasted pistachios
2 garlic cloves (or 2-3 garlic scapes)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1-3 teaspoons lemon juice

  1. Prepare rainbow chard. Remove stems and roughly chop. Set aside. Tear leaves into small pieces.
  2. In a food processor, chop pistachios until finely ground. Add garlic, salt and chard stems. Process until consistent in size and then add leaves. Continue to puree until leaves are all finely chopped, you may have to scrape down the sides occassionally.
  3. Turn the food processor on and run it while you drizzle in the olive oil. Process until smooth. Add lemon juice to taste.


Takes 8 hours, if using slow cooker to make brisket, though only about 45 minutes of active time are involved
Makes two 14-inch pizzas
Serves 6-8

1 batch favorite pizza dough
2/3 cup favorite BBQ sauce
1/2 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
2 cups smoked cheddar cheese

3 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2-3 pounds beef brisket
3/4 cup BBQ sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

1/3 cup Greek yogurt
Juice of 1/2 lime
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 medium head cabbage, shredded

  1. As advised above, the real work for this delicious pizza should start a couple days before you want to make it. You can store the dough until your fridge until you’re ready to use it. If you prefer to make it in the morning for the evening, just leave it in a cool place in your kitchen to slowly rise all day. You can absolutely also buy a store-bought dough if you like.
  2. The next step is making that tasty brisket. I like to start this in the morning before I head to work. Combine paprika, pepper, salt, brown sugar, chili powder, and cumin in a small bowl. Pat all over brisket.
  3. Place brisket in slow cooker (You could also do this night of in a Dutch oven in the oven or likely very quickly in an Instant pot) and surround with BBQ sauce, water, Worcestershire sauce and onions. Bake on low setting for 6-8 hours or high setting for 3-4 hours.
  4. When you’re ready to bake your pizza, preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  5. Divide pizza dough into two 12-inch round pizzas (you can also fit the dough to two baking sheets). Cover each round with 1/3 cup BBQ sauce.
  6. Shred approximately 2 cups of brisket and divide between the two pizzas. Sprinkle with scallions and cheddar cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.
  7. While the pizza bakes, throw a quick coleslaw together. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lime, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour over the cabbage and toss gently. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl until dressing evenly coats cabbage.
  8. Serve pizza warm with coleslaw on top.


Zucchini Pie
This recipe comes straight from my momma—an excellent Midwest home cook. It calls for Bisquick because my mom loves things like that but if you don’t have any on hand, just use this great homemade substitute.
Takes 45 minutes
Serves 3-4

3 eggs
1 cup grated parmesan
½ cup canola oil
¼ cup diced fresh parsley
6 minced garlic scapes
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch pepper
3 cups thinly sliced small zucchini
1 cup Bisquick
½ bunch scallions, thinly sliced

  1. Preaheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl (or the mixing bowl of your stand mixer), combine eggs, parmesan, oil, parsley, garlic scapes, salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.
  3. Add zucchini, Bisquick, and scallions. Stir until all ingredients are combined but the mixture is not overmixed.
  4. Pour into a greased 9-inch pie pan (or 9×9 baking dish). Bake for 25-35 minutes until golden brown on top. If it’s not golden brown on top, the middle will likely not be cooked through. Wait for the pie to take on a golden hue before removing it to the oven. Serve warm on its own or alongside any roast meat.


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