Farm news & photos

The CSA pick-ups went smoothly last week despite the unusual July 4 schedule.  Good job, folks!

For us, July 4 means fireworks and carrot planting.  Steve begins planting our fall carrot crop on July 3, weather permitting.  In a good year, the carrot fields are all planted within two weeks.  In a challenging year (like 2012) we replant multiple times to get a good stand of carrot seedlings.  Hot dry weather will damage the seedlings despite irrigation.  Heavy rains crust the ground and the seedlings can’t emerge.  I’ll keep you posted about this year’s plantings.

The time-consuming strawberry harvests are done.  Now we are busy harvesting early summer crops like peas and cucumbers, and transplanting winter storage crops such as cabbage.  We’re working hard to weed and maintain our summer crops.
Beth

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Steve chopped this oat cover crop in preparation for planting carrots.

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Steve’s view from the tractor. The lush oats are waist-high.

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The cucumber bounty is amazing this week.

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Alex and Boi place stakes in the tomato field. Soon we’ll weave string between the stakes to support the plants.


Veggie List and Veggie Notes
.
Strawberries, 1 pint
Romaine lettuce
Walla Walla onion, 1
Broccoli, 1 large or 2 medium heads
Fennel, 1 bulb with luxurious fronds
Cucumbers, 4 or 5
Sugar snap peas, 1.1 lb
Mixed zucchini, patty pan and summer squash, 3 lbs.
Basil, 1 or 2 sprigs

Next week’s box will probably contain cabbage, cucumbers, peas, Walla Walla onion, lettuce & 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.”
Walla Walla onions – These are sweet onions, like Vidalias.  Wonderful raw or lightly cooked.  The crew walked the field to find the biggest onions for today’s box.

Caesar Salad, safely made with cooked egg yolks.
I gave up Caesar salad years ago.  Who wants to eat raw eggs?   The beautiful Romaine lettuce made me long for Caesar salad, so I researched ways to make it safely.  Food scientist Harold McGee has developed a method that works.  We add snap peas for crunch instead of croutons.  Many Caesar salad recipes call for 10 Tbsp. oil, but you can reduce the oil to 6 Tbsp. 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 less)
5 Tbsp. canola oil (or less)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
black pepper

1 head Romaine lettuce, cut into 2-inch pieces, washed and carefully dried
croutons and/or snap peas

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 (or peas) 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.

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