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In Your Share (Nov 1st)

By Laura

Welcome to the first week of the 2011-2012 Winter CSA!

It seems remarkably balmy still for November. I’ve been plowing with the horses down at the Grand Island farm in order to get more fields ready for springtime. The horses are lighter on the ground, so we can work them even when it is too wet for the tractor. This is nice because it means that we can get fieldwork done later into the fall (like now!) and earlier in the spring.

This week your share may include…

  • Beets: These big beautiful beets are an incredible winter variety called, not suprizingly, Winterkeeper. The greens on them are still very nice to be sure to use those too. If you’re looking for simple tips and recipes then read this post I wrote a few years ago called Beets 101.
  • Cauliflower or Broccoli: Your choice of happy heads of cauliflower or beautiful broccoli. This cauliflower is so tender it makes for perfected roasted florettes. Cut into bite sized pieces, toss with olive oil & salt, put on a jelly roll pan directly under the broiler. Keep your eye on it and shake the pan a few times to keep them from sticking. Pull them out when the edges just start to carmelize – easy, fast & yum! One of my favorite dishes is Gino’s Cauliflower Pasta. Often recipes suggest parboiling cauliflower first, but I have found that is not necessary with these heads and it can turn them to mush. The white cauliflower variety is Candid Charm and the green ones are called Panther. The broccoli variety is Arcadia.
  • Cabbage: These nice big heads are really sweet & tender so they’ll make a great salad or slaw. That said, on a cold fall evening there is nothing better than braised cabbage. Try this recipe for cabbage with onion & poached egg inspired by Cathy Whims at Nostrana.
  • Chard: Various greens are a staple during the winter. The Swiss Chard is not as winter hardy as some of the other types, but we should be able to enjoy it well into December. Provided the winter is not too harsh, we’ll also probably be able to pick some when it warms up in the spring too. Cook chard (and beet greens) just like you would spinach. I sauteed some last weekend with those beautiful red onions and then added them a fritatta which was fabulous. Also, if you haven’t tried my grandmothers Chard Bisque I highly recommend it!
  • Celery: I love home grown celery. It is not quite as tender as the pampered ones grown down south, but it has much better flavor. We’ll have some more at the next pickup too because I think it is a necessary ingredient in the traditional Thanksgiving stuffing.
  • Onions, Red Tropea: This sweet red Italian onion aka Rossa Lunga di Tropea has a slightly elongated shape. This onion variety is originally from Calabria – the region in southern Italy where my husbands family also came from : )
  • Parsley: When we are blessed with these big beautiful bunches of flat leaf Italian parsley I treat it less like an herb and more like greens ie. chard, spinach, kale. I often chop up greens and saute them as soon as I get home. They’ll keep in the fridge for up to a week and they’re ready to add to pasta, soup or eggs at any time. This makes the fit in the fridge much better too!
  • Peppers, Gypsy: Better late than never – this will be the last week of peppers – hip hip hooray that they finally ripened!!
  • Peppers, Jimmy Nardello: This is NOT a hot pepper. It is a traditional frying pepper that is usually ripened to red, but it these little green ones are good too.

Coming soon… Beautiful Winter Greens!!

In Your Share (Oct 17th edition)

By Laura

Time to sign up for the winter share if you haven’t done so already! We still have a few shares available to pass the word on if you know folks who might be interested.

This beautiful sunshine we’re having has allowed us to get the tractor back out on the fields to help with harvest and get a bit more cover cropping done. The big projects on the farm this week will be bringing in winter squash at Luscher Farm and planting garlic down on Grand Island. The fall brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, collards, brussel sprouts) are looking great! We’ll harvest gorgeous heads of cabbage for you this week then finish the summer share with a bumper crop of broccoli & cauliflower.

This week your share may include…

  • Cabbage: These nice big heads are really sweet & tender so they’ll make a great salad or slaw. That said, on a cold fall evening there is nothing better than braised cabbage. Try this recipe for cabbage with onion & poached egg inspired by Cathy Whims at Nostrana.
  • Chard: I didn’t grow up eating very many different kinds of greens, but this is one that my mom always had in the garden. I use it in place of cooked spinach in almost any recipe from quiche to lasagna, but one of my all time favorite ways to prepare it will always be my grandmothers chard bisque.
  • Eggplant: These cute little fruits are the last of this seasons crop.
  • Fennel: The mild anise flavored bulb is very versatile – it can be shaved into salads and is also great in gratins. The flavor is very bright when raw and much more mild after cooking. Last week I diced the bulbs, sauteed them with onions and parsley, and put that over pasta. We grated a bit of parmesan on top and it made for a nice  simple supper. More ideas here.
  • Peppers, Green: These are nice thick walled bell peppers.
  • Peppers, Jalapeno: Hot peppers can be hard to grow in our climate but this variety, Early Jalapeno, has been a real workhorse for us this summer. I like to save a few for the winter – just roast them under the broiler, pull off the skins and pop them in the freezer. I do this with all the different peppers, but I freeze hot peppers in smaller containers since I tend to use them in smaller quantities.
  • Tomatillos: These are the classic ingredient for salsa verde and this recipe from Rick Bayless is one of my favorites. This time of year I often roast tomatillos, blend them with hot peppers and freeze them. That way I can pull them out, add fresh cilantro & diced onion, and have summer salsa all winter.
  • Tomatoes, Green: The time has come to embrace green tomatoes! Don’t be afraid or intimidated – there are lots of tasty things to do with these.  This article has recipes for fritatta, gratin, salsa and of course the classic fried green tomatoes – maybe not the best for you but they’re soooo good!

Coming soon… Beautiful Winter Greens!!

In Your Share (Oct 3rd edition)

By Laura

Time to sign up for the winter share if you haven’t done so already! And put our next Volunteer Day on your calendar – Oct 21st at Luscher Farm

We managed to get a nice bit of cover crop seed planted between rain storms last week. The crimson clover is already germinating and should make some good green growth this fall. This is one of my favorite cover crops because it is versatile and beautiful! Don’t confuse crimson clover with red clover which actually has pink flowers and runners which make it hard to kill once it gets established in your garden. Crimson clover grows well in the cool fall weather and will protect the soil from erosion and compaction caused by the rain over the winter. The growth really takes off in the spring and if left  to flower it attracts a million beneficial insects to the field. It is a legume so if tilled in after it reaches maturity it can contribute up to 125lbs of nitrogen per acre too. We bought our seed from directly from Jim Bronec at Praying Mantis Farm in Canby. Naomi’s Farm Supply and Portland Nursery also both have a good selection of cover crop seed if you what to try some in your garden.

This week your share may include…

  • Cilantro: These are tiny little bunches, but they’ll make a nice addition to salsas or southeast asian dishes.
  • Daikon Radish: These look really good! I like to grate them raw into salads, but they make a mean pickle too. This recipe is easy & awesome with Bánh Mì, the spicy Vietnamese baguette pork sandwich.
  • Eggplant: The long skinny asian varieties are tasty and more productive for us than the traditional italian vareities. Most of what you see in the share will be the dark purple Orient Express and the pink Orient Charm. These varieties can be used exactly as you would use the regular eggplant. I’ve posted one of my favorite recipes for a simple spanish eggplant salad here. Last Sunday’s NY Times magazine had several nice  variations on the eggplant theme here.
  • Fennel: The mild anise flavored bulb is very versatile – it can be shaved into salads and is also great in gratins. Today I grated it into a salad with the napa cabbage, lots of cilantro, and jicama with a lime vinagrette. It went great with the burritos I made for the farm crew lunch. More ideas here.
  • Napa (Chinese) Cabbage: We’ve had a bumper crop this year and these nice big heads are the grand finale!
  • Peppers, Anaheim:  These peppers have just a hint of heat and they really shine in traditional southwest and mexican cooking. I made some great corn & roasted chile salsa last week. This is a good recipe for stuffed peppers and once you have the basics you can get creative and come up with lots of variations on this theme. In this taco filling recipe from Rick Bayless I use anaheim chiles as a substitute for  fresh poblanos.
  • Peppers, Green: These are nice thick walled sweet bell peppers.
  • Peppers, Jalapeno: Time for salsa!
  • Tomatoes, Stupice: These small early tomatoes continue to be tasty and productive throughout the season.
  • Tomatoes, Heirlooms: This is probably the last week of red tomatoes. We have Brandywine, Moskovitch, Azoychka, German Striped, Black, Zapotec Pleated and more varieties to chose from. The rain has caused many to split so take them home and eat immediately!

Coming soon… Green Tomatoes!!

In Your Share (Sept 19th edition)

By Laura

This could be the peak of the tomato season!! Keep you fingers crossed for some sun so we can keep picking for a few more weeks.

This week on the farm we’re just trying to keep up with all the harvesting! Summer crops are still going strong but we also need to bring in the storage crops like potatoes, onions, dry beans and popcorn. In fields that we have finished harvesting we plan to start seeding cover crops soon.

This week your share may include…

  • Basil: You can chose from several varieties this week. Thai basil has green leaves with purple stems & flowers – it’s minty fragrance adds a distinctive flavor to many southeast asian recipes. Genovese basil is all green and the classic variety of traditional italian pesto. Purple basil can be used like the Genovese but I also sometimes showcase the intense dark purple color by adding some leaves to summer salads.
  • Corn: Some of our sweet corn has crossed with the popcorn we are growing nearby. We have tried to pick only the good ears, but if you see a few pink and purple kernals or if it tastes a bit starchy you’ll know what happened. Sorry about that – next year we’ll be planting them much further apart!
  • Eggplant: The long skinny asian varieties are tasty and more productive for us than the traditional italian vareities. Most of what you see in the share will be the dark purple Orient Express and the pink Orient Charm. These varieties can be used exactly as you would use the regular eggplant. I’ve posted one of my favorite recipes for a simple spanish eggplant salad here.
  • Fennel: The mild anise flavored bulb is very versatile – it can be shaved into salads and is also great in gratins. More ideas here.
  • Mizuna: This is one of my favorite asian greens as it is very mild and can be used in salads or sauteed.
  • Peppers, Anaheim:  These peppers have just a hint of heat and they really shine in traditional southwest and mexican cooking. I made some great corn & roasted chile salsa this week. This is a good recipe for stuffed peppers and once you have the basics you can get creative and come up with lots of variations on this theme.  I often use Anaheim’s to substitute for regular green bell peppers in recipes too.
  • Peppers, Jalapeno: Time for salsa!
  • Summer Squash: The much maligned courgette will produce obscenely large fruit if you turn your back on it this time of year. We harvest regularly so you always have a wide variety of shapes and sizes to choose from. Take larger ones if you want to make zucchini bread. The smaller fruit can be steamed whole.
  • Tomatoes, Stupice: These small early tomatoes continue to be tasty and productive throughout the season.
  • Tomatoes, Heirlooms: This week may be the absolute peak of the tomato season! We have Brandywine, Moskovitch, Azoychka, German Striped, Black, Zapotec Pleated and more varieties to chose from. Some are beautiful, all are incredibly flavorful!

Coming soon… Sweet Gypsy Peppers and Tomatillos!!

In Your Share (June 27th edition)

By Laura

The 4th of July is coming up this weekend and just wanted to let you know that we’re not going to do our usual Farm Work Party. Your next opportunities to volunteer on the farm will be Friday July 22nd & Saturday August 6th. Hope you can join us then!

I made baked polenta for the crew lunch this week with lots of sauteed onions, garlic and greens. We had it with a baby lettuce salad and baguettes with radish butter.

This week your share may include…

  • Arugula: This is so good right now! One of my favorite things at Nostrana’s is this super simple salad they make with flank steak & arugula.
  • Cilantro: Everyone thinks it’s just for tomato salsa, but in fact cilantro is also used all over southeast asia. I went back to Pok Pok a few weeks ago and it was – as always – extraordinary! Their recipe for Spicy Citrus Dipping Sauce makes inspired use of cilantro.
  • Joi Choy: Slice the thick stems and saute them for a minute before adding the rest of the greens. An essential ingredient in stir fry and soba noodle salad, but more versatile than that. I used them with baked polenta today and they would also be great in Shareholder Dave Culpepper’s Green Soup.
  • Green Garlic: We planted these small garlic cloves last fall especially for spring harvest. The lighter green bottom of the stalk is the most tender part. The upper stem has good flavor but is not as tender so plant to cook it longer or use it for soup stock. The whole plant has a nice mild garlic flavor.
  • Garlic Scapes: The flowering stalk of the garlic plant is tender when it first emerges and begins to coil. Later the stalks straighten and bloom with beautiful purple or white flowers. When eaten raw the flavor is quite sharp, but after cooking it is much milder. There is a bit of rust on the ends so you can snip that part off.
  • Kohlrabi: They look like an alien space ship! But they are in fact a very mild easy to use cousin to broccoli. Peel the outer layer off and the sweet crunch center can be eaten raw, steamed or sauteed. Not surprisingly, it tastes similar to the broccoli stem. The greens are great too – use them like you would kale or collards.
  • Lettuce Mix: The salad this week is a beautiful mix of baby lettuces.
  • Peas: Hip Hip Hooray for peas! These are sugar snap peas which means you can eat the sweet crunchy pods too.
  • Radish: These cute little red radish bunches are sill going strong. The round red variety is Cheriette and the elongated red and white variety is French Breakfast. Tops are good to eat too – saute them with choy or turnip greens. I mentioned it up above, but I can’t recommend enough this recipe for radish butter. The crunchy zing of the radish adds a freshness & beautiful red color to the butter. Spread on good bread with a pinch of salt – yum!
  • Spring Onions: These onion sets were planted in February when we had a short but lovely bit of dry weather.  The green tops and any flower stems poking out are edible too.

Coming soon… Fava Beans!!

 

In Your Share (June 6th edition)

By Laura

We had a great work party this weekend – THANK YOU to everyone who came and helped us plant tomatoes, weed fava beans and seed popcorn : ) We got lots done and had a fun time too. Here is the schedule for the rest of the summer work parties & volunteer days. Hope to see you out at the farm!!

This week I think I’ll make my favorite sesame & soba noodle salad. It would be great way to use all those greens – napa cabbage, mizuna, mustards, raab and even radish tops would be a fine substitute for the more traditional choi. The green garlic & spring onions will go well with it too. Try my recipe here or another variation from CookWithWhatYouHave.com

This week your share may include…

  • Carrots: Same as last week just a bit bigger thanks to all the sunshine. The variety is Nelson, which is sweet and versatile growing well in spring, summer, & fall.
  • Fava Leaves: These are my new favorite addition to salad! They have an interesting complex flavor – sweet, nutty, with a hint of artichoke – seriously!
  • Mixed Brassica Greens: Your choice of Mizuna, Mustards or Spring Raab bunches.
  • Green Garlic: We planted these small garlic cloves last fall especially for spring harvest. The lighter green bottom of the stalk is the most tender part. The upper stem has good flavor but is not as tender so plant to cook it longer or use it for soup stock. The whole plant has a nice mild garlic flavor.
  • Lettuce Heads: These beautiful heads came from our new high tunnels. The high tunnel is a very basic greenhouses with metal hoops and a single layer of plastic covering. It just keeps the rain off and raises the temperature a few degrees. This one doesn’t even have sides on it right now, but the lettuce inside is weeks ahead of the lettuce outside. Varieties are both loose leaf types –  Tropicana  and New Red Fire.
  • Napa Cabbage -Wonderful baby heads are perfect cut in half & grilled or put under the broiler with a dash of olive oil.
  • Radish: These cute little red radish bunches are the first of the season. The variety is Cheriette and I’ve been impressed with their smooth bright red roots and not too spicy flavor. Tops are good to eat too.
  • Sweet Spring Onions: These sweet Walla Walla type onions  were planted last fall and grew well over the winter. The green tops and any flower stems poking out are edible too. Good on the grill or as a pizza topping.

Coming soon… Onion Scapes!!

 

In Your Share (May 30th edition)

By Laura

Everyone is invited to join us for the Work Party this weekend!! We’ll be at Luscher Farm on Sat June 4th working from 1-5pm followed by a potluck BBQ. You can drop by anytime and there will be projects for people of all ages and abilities. Come out for a fun day on the farm!!

  • Arugula: This is the best time of year for perfect tender tasty arugula salad – yum.
  • Carrots: These are tiny this week but growing fast. The variety is Nelson, which is sweet and versatile growing well in spring, summer, & fall.
  • Chard: I have very fond memories of picking swiss chard from my parents garden and making Swiss Card Bisque with my mother and grandmother. Here is the old fashioned original recipe. This chard was planted last season, survived the winter and grew back nicely this spring. On Sunday, I was on the tractor until dark and hadn’t given a thought to dinner. I sauteed onions, green garlic and heaps of chard then put it over pasta with a bit pa parmesan. It was fast, easy & yum : )
  • Green Garlic: We planted these small garlic cloves last fall especially for spring harvest. The lighter green bottom of the stalk is the most tender part. The upper stem hs good flavor but is not as tender so plant to cook it longer or use it for soup stock. The whole plant has a nice mild garlic flavor. Good on the grill or as a pizza topping. I think these (and the leeks for that matter) could easily be adapted to the Barcelona tradition of calçotada.
  • Lettuce Heads: These beautiful heads came from our new high tunnels. The high tunnel is a very basic greenhouses with metal hoops and a single layer of plastic covering. It just keeps the rain off and raises the temperature a few degrees. This one doesn’t even have sides on it right now, but the lettuce inside is weeks ahead of the lettuce outside. Varieties are both romaine types –  Coastal Star (green) and Outredgeous (red from Frank Morton)
  • Pea Shoots: We’re still waiting for the pea pods to mature, but in the meantime we can enjoy the tasty shoots. These are the greens from the pea plant they have a sweet pea flavor similar to the pods. They are good in salad or can be sauteed too.
  • Radish: These cute little red radish bunches are the first of the season. The variety is Cheriette and I’ve been impressed with their smooth bright red roots and not too spicy flavor. Tops are good to eat too.
  • Sweet Spring Onions: These sweet Walla Walla type onions  were planted last fall and grew well over the winter. The green tops and any flower stems poking out are edible too.

Coming soon… hakuri salad turnips!!

 

In Your Share (May 23rd edition)

By Laura

We were quite happy for the sunshine and got lots more stuff planted. We even turned the irrigation on, but then the rains returned. This week we’ll hopefully be planting tomatoes and winter squash!

  • Cauliflower: This is my favorite time of year for cauliflower! These varieties wrap their leaves tightly around the head to protect it then they burst forth in all their perfection. Cameron & Maystar are the varieties we are picking this week. Try Kelly’s Cauliflower Carpaccio and Lane’s Cauliflower Risotto.
  • Chard: I have very fond memories of picking swiss chard from my parents garden and making Swiss Card Bisque with my mother and grandmother. Here is the old fashioned original recipe. This chard was planted last season, survived the winter and grew back nicely this spring.
  • Green Garlic: We planted these small garlic cloves last fall especially for spring harvest. The lighter green bottom of the stalk is the most tender part. The upper stem hs good flavor but is not as tender so use it for soup stock. The whole plant has a nice mild garlic flavor. Good on the grill or as a pizza topping. I think these (and the leeks for that matter) could easily be adapted to the Barcelona tradition of calçotada.
  • Leeks: These were planted last fall and have grown well over the winter. They are not huge, but they have nicely blanched stems that can be used to replace onions in almost any dish. The darker green tops are not as tender, but they make a fabulous soup stock. Here is a recipe specifically for making leeks into calçotada, including the yummy romesco dipping sauce.
  • Parsley: This variety is aptly named Survivor and was created by one of my favorite local seed breeders Frank Morton at Wild Garden Seeds. Frank has spent years developing varieties that are specifically adapted for our region and for organic systems. Read more about why that matters here.
  • Pea Shoots: We’re still waiting for the pea pods to mature, but in the meantime we can enjoy the tasty shoots. These are the greens from the pea plant they have a sweet pea flavor similar to the pods. They are good in salad or can be sauteed too.
  • Sweet Spring Onions: These Walla Walla type onions  were planted last fall and grew well over the winter. The green tops are edible too.
  • Cherry Tomato Starts: We’ll grow lots of slicing and heirloom tomatoes on the farm and you can grow your own cherry tomatoes! We have several types of cherry tomato starts for you to choose from this year. We give out the plants because these are so easy to grow in your garden or even in a pot on our deck.

Coming soon… onions scapes & baby lettuce heads!!