DIGGING DEEPER

Farm NewsLetter 06/12/06

For the week of June 12th, 2006

John Peterson, the star of the feature length documentary The Real Dirt on Farmer John, was at the downtown farmers market last Saturday to talk about his movie and sell his new cookbook. I introduced him when he spoke at the market and he was kind enough to donate a percentage of the cookbook sales from this weekend to PACSAC (Portland Area CSA Coalition). I have a copy of the cookbook and have ordered some to sell at pickup because I like it so much. In the mean time I’ll just tempt you with a few pages of it each week until the real thing arrives- hopefully soon.

Wow! There are a lot of peas for everyone this week. Almost every year I hear that folks would like more peas so here they are—a whopping 4 pounds per share. While we did make an attempt to increase production this season, the level of abundance this week is in part due to the happy coincidence that several plantings have come ripe all at once. We usually plant peas at least twice, and sometimes more often, to spread out the harvest for as long as possible. Despite the fact that some of these varieties were planted more than 2 months apart, the weather aka Mother Nature has conspired to ripe them all at once. So we’ll just have to enjoy the abundance.

There are actually several varieties of peas in your share this week. In our earliest plantings I often try to include the old fashioned original Sugar Snap Pea. It is climbing pole pea whose vines reach over 6’ tall. The long plump peas are among the sweetest, and the tall vines produce a lot of them. Building the trellis is a bit of extra work, but I think it’s worth it for these jewels. We would grow this variety later in the season too, but it does not have very good disease resistance. Pea enation is the main disease problem we have here and it shows up in late spring. The virus causes enations, blister-like outgrowths, on the foliage and pods and eventually kills the whole plant. The reason it doesn’t show up earlier in the season is because it’s spread by aphids which don’t come out until the weather has warmed up a bit. Luckily, there are resistant varieties which we use for our later plantings so we can have peas for as long as possible. This week those varieties include Cascadia and Mega which are both plump sweet sugar snap types. There is also a snow pea called Oregon Sugar Pod in the mix. The snow peas have a much flatter pod, and the peas inside are very small, but the whole thing is just as sweet as the sugar pod types.

The Weather: Nice to have cooler temps and a bit of rain
Thank you everyone for all your help!

Your share this week may include:
Beet Greens These are really tender and don’t need to be cooked long at all. Use them in any recipe that calls for cooked spinach or chard.
Baby Carrots These are so sweet & good!
Chard Beautiful and tasty too!
Choi This is one of my favorite greens. It is sweet and mild and can be cooked or sliced thin for a raw asian slaw.
Garlic Scapes Roast these with salt and olive oil for a super snack.
Kale Red Russian has a pretty red blush through the veins, and Toscano is a savoy or crinkly dark green leaf.
Kohlrabi They look like an alien, but taste like a mild version of their cousin broccoli
Lettuce Mix Time for more summer salad!
Green Spring Onions They are getting a bit bigger, but you can still use these as you would a scallion- raw or lightly sautéed.
Parsley Our first picking of this flat leaf Italian variety. It is really tasty, and we’ll have more through out the summer.
Peas The perfect sweet snack!

Coming Soon… Broccoli!

Swiss Chard Bisque, By Beverly Matlock

1 bunch chard 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1 can chicken broth 1 pint half and half
1/4 cup butter salt and pepper
1 cup chopped mushrooms 4 slices bacon, crisply fried and crumbled
3 tablespoon flour

Slice stems of chard- cook about 3-4 min with 2 tablespoons of broth.
Slice leaves and cook until tender, covered about 3 min. Put chard and remaining broth in blender and whirl until smooth. Should be about 3 to 3 1/2 cups.

Melt butter. Saute mushrooms 5 min. Stir in flour and curry powder. Cook until bubbly and slowly add cream. Stir until thickened. Add chard puree and season to taste. Garnish with bacon when serving.

Laura’s Disclaimer: This is my grandmother’s recipe exactly as she used to make it. I’ve made it more recently with a few modifications. It is still really good with veggie broth and olive oil. You can leave out the dairy or use soy milk and you can leave off the garnish or try croutons or a bit of parmesan or crisp fried tofu instead of bacon.

Choi with Soba Noodles
From Fields of Greens
By Annie Somerville

1/4 lb fresh shitake mushrooms
1/2- 1 lg head of bok choi
6 oz thin dried buckwheat or soba noodles
2 Tbs light vegetable or peanut oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Tbs grated fresh ginger
1-2 jalapeno chilies, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 scallion, thinly slice on diagonal
1 Tbs dark sesame oil
1 Tbs mirin (sweet cooking sake)
3 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs coarse chopped cilantro
1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

Set a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Remove the mushroom stems and cut the caps into 1/2-inch slices. (The stems can be saved for stock). Slice the stems of the bok choi diagonally about 3/4 inch thick, and slice the leaves into 2-inch-wide ribbons.
When the water boils, add 1 teaspoon salt. Add the noodles and cook as directed on the package, about 8-10 min. While the pasta is cooking, heat the vegetable oil in a large saute pan; add the shitake mushrooms and 1/4 tsp salt. Saute over medium heat for 3-4 min, then add the ginger, garlic, chilies, and bok choi and saute for 2 min.
Drain the pasta in a colander when it is just past tender. Reduce the heat under the saute pan and add the scallions, sesame oil, mirin and soy sauce. Quickly add the noodles, taking care not to overcook the bok choi. Remove from heat, toss the noodles with the vegetables and cilantro, and season with salt to taste. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.