Big bang moment

Steve loves transplanting season, and marvels how quickly a compact mass of seedlings expands to fill our farm.  Two wagonloads of tomato seedlings expand into 1.3 acres in the field.  Can we continue that expansion for the next 13 billion years?  No, probably not.

IMG_2545 tomatoe on wagon
Tomato seedlings await transplanting.  The green wheel is for our mechanical transplanter.  It digs holes at a regular spacing.

IMG_2618 8bed tomato field
The seedlings on the wagon filled this 1/2 acre field.

IMG_2600 transplant tomatoes
The seedlings go in quickly with our transplanter and crew …

IMG_2579 transplant tomatoes
… followed by more people to set the plants in place.  The tomato plants are leggy.  Our transplanting schedule was thrown off by rainy weather.  They will recover but it’s not the best start.

Tweak of the week – Something new and interesting this week.

We strive to make improvements every season.  Innovation keeps farming fresh and interesting for us.  New this year, we interspersed alyssum seedlings into our early lettuce and bok choy plantings.  We hope to control aphids, an insect which has been problematic on these spring vegetables the last few years.  Alyssum is an ‘insectary plant’, a host for beneficial insects that prey on crop pests.  New research shows that interspersing 1 or 2 alyssum per 50 lettuce seedlings is enough to control aphids as effectively as conventional pesticide sprays.  How cool!  Sure, the alyssum displaces some harvestable lettuce but is worth the trade-off for higher quality.  So far, our lettuce remains clean of aphids this year.

IMG_2349 alyssum
IMG_2330 alyssum romaine
(top) Alyssum flowers with red bibb lettuce in background. (bottom) Alyssum interspersed among Romaine lettuce.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (6/4/15, week #3, purple EOW)

This is a box of completely green vegetables.  I asked Pat Mulvey to focus on recipes for leafy greens this week.  They are big and abundant.  If there are more greens than you will use promptly, consider freezing your extras.  Steam, chop coarsely and freeze.  Add the frozen greens later to casseroles and soups.   You’ll be glad you have them.  We encourage you to wash your produce carefully again this week (especially asparagus, Romaine, escarole and spinach) because of the recent rains.

Asparagus, 1 lb
Escarole
Romaine lettuce
White salad turnips with greens, 1 bunch
Spinach, 1 bunch
Scallions, 1 bunch
Cilantro, 1 bunch

Next week’s box will probably contain asparagus, kale or collards, lettuce, spinach, kohlrabi, scallions, cilantro and (maybe) 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.
Romaine lettuce (tall head of lettuce with crisp leaves) – More sturdy and less fragile than our other spring lettuces.  Great for salads.
White salad turnips (white roots with tender greens) – The greens are particularly nice this week.  We just started harvesting from a new field so the roots are a bit smaller than last week.
Scallions (bundle of green onions) – These are useful raw or cooked.  Thinly-sliced raw scallions can be folded into biscuit dough or sprinkled on top of soups or salads.  Terrific garnish for pasta dishes in combination with cilantro.  Think pad thai.
Cilantro (bundle of aromatic leaves) – This herb is good in salsa, chutneys and salad dressings, or added to stir-fries.  Used in Mexican, Asian and Indian cooking.

RECIPE FROM BETH; Caesar Salad, made safely with cooked egg yolks.

I love Caesar salad but gave it up years ago.  Who wants to eat raw eggs?   Lo and behold, there are ways to prepare it safely.  Food scientist Harold McGee has developed a method that works.  Many Caesar salad recipes call for 10 Tbsp. oil, but you can reduce the oil to 6 Tbsp. (total canola + olive) and the dressing still works.

Harold McGee’s method to sterilize egg yolks
Use a clean fork at each step to avoid re-contaminating the cooked yolks.
2 large egg yolks
1 & 1/2 tsp. water
1 tsp. lemon juice
Mix the ingredients in a clear glass bowl and beat together with a fork.  Cover the bowl and microwave on high power until the mixture bubbles (about 45 seconds).  Uncover and stir with a clean fork.  Cover and microwave until it bubbles again (about 20 seconds) and let it bubble 5 to 10 seconds more.  Stir again with another clean fork.  Let cool.  The mixture will be custard-like.

Caesar Salad
2 large eggs yolks, cooked as described above and still in the clear glass bowl
2 – 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, grated
2 tsp. anchovy paste
5 Tbsp. olive oil (or as little as 3 Tbsp.)
5 Tbsp. canola oil (or as little as 3 Tbsp.)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
black pepper
croutons
1 head Romaine lettuce, cut into 2-inch pieces, washed and carefully dried.
Note: Our Romaine vary in size.  Start with half your Romaine, and gradually toss together with the dressing to be sure you have the right amount of lettuce.

1.  Add the lemon juice, Worchestershire sauce, garlic and anchovy paste to the cooked egg yolks.  Stir together with a fork.  Let stand 5 – 10 minutes.
2.  Slowly drizzle the canola and olive oils into the mixture while beating with a fork to emulsify.  Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan and black pepper to taste.
3.  Mix the dressing with the prepared Romaine and croutons in a large bowl and toss to coat.  Taste and add the remaining 1 Tbsp. lemon juice if needed.  Sprinkle remaining Parmesan over top.  Serve.

LOCAL THYME RECIPES

Comforting Classics

Classic Warm Spinach Salad or Warm Spinach and Shiitake Salad
Steamed Salad Turnip with Greens
Italian Escarole Wedding Soup and Vegetarian Italian Wedding Soup
Southwestern Caesar
Scallion and Cilantro Pancakes
Cilantro Chimichurri with Scallions

Outside the Box Recipes

Green Curry Simmered Veggies
Salad Turnip with Miso Ginger Vinaigrette
Escarole and Apple Salad
Teriyaki Asparagus Romaine Stir Fry
Fried Scallions
Salad with Lime Soy Cilantro Sauce

Kitchen Sink Recipe
This is a recipe that is very flexible — you can add just about any, or all of the veggies in your box. Grill some scallions, romaine and salad turnips and toss them on too!
Grilled Pizza with Wilted Spinach and Shaved Asparagus 

Quick and Easy Dinner Idea

Egg Salad Sandwich with Salad Turnips and Spinach

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