Sunday, April 22, 2012

2012 Season

Hello Friends of Dover Farm CSA

Welcome to spring, 2012!

We have a new website at

Shares are available for the upcoming June through October 
2012 season.

Please contact us at or  visit us at for more information, including downloadable membership forms, contact information and more.

Yours in local farming!

The Dover Farm team

Monday, October 17, 2011

2011 CSA Week 21

I spent much of last week at a low point on the sine wave of my moodiness, a situation exacerbated by the imminent end of our growing season and the increasingly urgent sense that time is short. But it's okay, we have known since the CSA season began that the weeks would pass quickly, and the fact that time's passage has conformed to our expectations should be no cause for distress; this week I have been feeling better, and I have been enjoying the September 1984 issue of National Geographic.

"Dallas! Keeping the Dream Alive" is not relevant to our current experience, but there is an article set in Iceland and an article set in Oklahoma, the state in which Joshua and I sat in a coffee shop last January and composed the first of a few off-season emails to our returning CSA members. There are two articles related to farming: One that investigates issues of erosion and topsoil conservation, and another about patterns mowed into massive swaths of mono-crop agriculture, imperceptible from the ground but eye-catching if you are in an airplane above the Midwest. The first is of greater pertinence to our work at Dover Farm.

Each of those articles, though, is an ancillary pleasure to "Man and Manatee," which I must have missed when I was four years old, and is the reason the magazine captured my attention today. That strange lump next to the scuba diver is alive! It lives in the ocean, and is extremely gentle.

The share this week:

Lacinato Kale
Bok Choi
Sage or Dill or Oregano

Notes about the food:

* At this time of year we harvest those of our crops that have been longest in the ground. Many things we grow have a relatively short life-span in the field--lettuce, for example, and other salad greens, grow quickly enough that we can plant them, harvest them, and plant them again throughout the spring, summer, and fall--but some vegetables require the duration of the season to mature. Leeks were the first seeds we sowed this season, on the last day of February, when the greenhouse was surrounded by snow, and they now are one of the last things we'll harvest. Unlike crops we grow in succession, we have tended the leeks over the course of many months; to harvest and eat them is an event rarer than others on the farm, and it feels to us like the satisfying culmination of a season-long project.

Little Cakes of Leeks and Potatoes

5 medium potatoes
2 large leeks
4 tablespoons butter
scant 1/2 cup milk
vegetable or peanut oil for shallow-frying

Boil potatoes in deep, salted water. Trim and rinse the leeks, discarding the dark outer leaves, and slice them thinly. Melt the butter in a shallow pan and cook the leeks in it over low heat, stirring from time to time, until they are soft and melting; they should be ready in twenty minutes or so. If they color they will turn bitter, so cover them with a lid or a piece of wax paper.

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan, then switch off the heat. When the potatoes are tender, drain them, put them back on the heat for a minute, covered with a lid or a kitchen towel, to dry out, then mash them with a potato masher, pouring in the warm milk as you go. You are after a thick mash, not a sloppy one, so stop adding milk when the consistency is thick enough to make into patties. Stir in the leeks and season generously.

When the mixture is cool enough to roll, shape it into rough patties. Don't be tempted to make them perfectly smooth.; they will be all the more interesting if they are a little rough.

Heat some oil in a shallow pan. When it is hot, slide in the patties, not too close together, and let them color lightly on both sides. They will cook quite quickly, about three or four minutes on each side. Lift the patties out with a spatula and drain briefly on paper towels.

Chicken with Leeks and Lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil
8 chicken thighs
4 medium leeks
A glass of dry vermouth
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 cups chicken stock
1 small bunch parsley

In a large casserole, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces, skin side down, and cook until pale gold in color. Wash the leeks thoroughly, shake them dry, then cut them into pieces the length of a wine cork. Lift the chicken out of the pan and add the leeks. Cover and let them cook gently until they are soft but relatively uncolored. Whatever happens, they should not brown. Once they start to soften, add the vermouth, the zest and juice of the lemon, and the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, return the chicken and its juices to the pan, season with salt and pepper, then cover and simmer for about twenty minutes.

Chop the parsley, taste the sauce for seasoning, and stir the parsley in.

* I have been enjoying a book called Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater. The book itself is a satisfying shape and weight, it includes numerous recipes, it is illustrated with photographs of vegetables at their earthy best, and the whole package is somehow extremely British. It's from that book that I transcribed the leek recipes above, and Parsnips, another of our crops that has occupied the same piece of ground for most of the season (we sowed the seeds directly to the field in April), is another of the vegetables prominently featured. I appreciate the description that begins the parsnip chapter:

The soil-encrusted rood, gnarled like the bark of an old tree, hides a creamy flesh that is both earthy and sweet. Snapped it half, it smells of freshly dug ground. Roasted in butter, it smells of warm heather honey.

You'll remember that we offered parsnips in one share during the month of August. The roots were well-sized at that time, and they tasted good, but our reason for harvesting them was strictly to thin the planting and give the remaining parsnips room to grow. Compare the flavor of these to those harvested at the end of summer; the cooler days and cold nights since then will have begun to convert the vegetable's starch to sugar, and you can expect a sweeter result in the kitchen.

Roast Parsnips with Sesame and Honey

2 pounds parsnips
a little peanut oil
a little rosemary
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

For the dressing:
4 level tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons peanut oil
Generous splash sesame oil

Preheat the oven to 350. Bring a pan of water to a boil. Cut parsnips in half lengthwise, and then into fat chunks. When the water boils, lower them in and simmer for ten minutes, until they show early signs of tenderness. Remove from the heat and drain.

Pour a glug of oil into a roasting pan, add the drained parsnips, and toss them with sea salt, pepper, and some chopped needles of rosemary. A tablespoon or so will do. Roast for about forty minutes, turning them in the pan occasionally, so that they end up with a pale, golden crust on all sides. In a dry, shallow pan, lightly brown the sesame seeds. They will take barely a minute or so to color.

Put the honey into a small bowl and whisk in the vinegar, peanut oil, and sesame oil with a small grinding of salt and black pepper. Remove the parsnips from the oven and immediately toss them in the honey dressing, scattering over the toasted sesame seeds as you go.

Parsnips Baked with Cheese

1 large onion
5 tablespoons butter
2 large parsnips
Leaves from 3 or 4 sprigs of thyme
3 1/2 ounces cheese, Gruyere or Cornish Yarg
Scant 1/2 cup vegetable stock

Preheat the oven to 400. Peel the onion and cut it into paper-thin rings. Melt half the butter in a shallow ovenproof pan and gently fry the onion until soft and translucent. Stop before it colors.

Slice parsnips into fine disks. I like to make them so think you can almost read through them. Remove the onion from the pan, place a layer or two of parsnips in it, brush with more melted butter and scatter over salt, pepper, some of the thyme, and a little of the cheese. Do this twice more, ending with cheese. Pour over the stock.

Cover with lightly buttered wax paper or aluminum foil, then place on a high rack in the oven and bake for twenty-five to thirty minutes. Remove the paper and test the parsnips with a sharp knife; it should glide in effortlessly. Return to the oven, uncovered, for about ten minutes to brown. Serve straight from the pan.

Monday, October 10, 2011

2011 CSA Week 20

The conditions this past weekend were a sort of autumn ideal in which warm, summer-like days were transplanted perfectly between cool October nights. The days bore no humidity and the nights no threat of frost, and all hours continued their concessions to the softening light of the season.

Before the weekend, though, there were cold nights, and for the first time this season we were subject to the unique discomforts of harvesting in near-frost conditions. It stings our fingers and stiffens our hands to pick crops that are sheathed in icy condensation, and on such mornings the time we spend working before the sun rises enough above the trees that our fields are fully lit and slightly warmed can be arduous. Last Thursday, to divert my attention from the stinging pain in my fingers, I wrote a short song and then sang it repeatedly, sort of out loud. It's basically a recap of all the Spanish I have learned in the last six months:

Lechuga, batata
remolacha, albahaca
vegetables en Espanol!

Not only did the song not distract me from the fact that my hands might as well have been submerged in ice-water, it was accompanied by the sad realization that although I have been working alongside a native Spanish speaker for half a year, and our work has consisted entirely of growing vegetables, I have learned to say the names of only four vegetables in Spanish, and one of them is really more of an herb.

Which reminds me-- The weeks pass quickly, and things left until the end are often left undone, which means that the antepenultimate week of our season is as good a time as any to thank Gustavo, our native Spanish speaker and tireless helper, whose fault it certainly is not that my capacity for language acquisition has scarcely improved since the beginning of our acquaintance, in terms as sincere as can be expressed on a blog, for his hard work, his positive attitude, and his friendship. We are indebted, and we are grateful.

The share this week:

Winter Brassica Greens
Beets or Mixed Roots (Kohlrabi, Parsnip, Rutabaga)
Broccoli or Cabbage
Sweet Peppers
Hot Peppers

Notes about the food:

* Mizuna is a feathery green in the mustard family. Its peppery flavor and subtle spiciness are reminiscent of arugula, but it is generally milder than that crop. Consider it a good compliment to lettuce and other salad greens, and don't overlook the decorative aspect of its shape when adding it to any dish. We are harvesting these leaves when they are still young and tender, so their tendency to wilt may be noticeable, especially if the day of harvest is warm. As always, cut the stems slightly when you get home and place the greens upright in a bowl of cold water, and they will revive.

Two recipes from The New York Times:

Mizuna with Potatoes and Shallot Vinaigrette

1/2 pound potatoes, cut in irregular bite-size chunks
Sea salt
6 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Champagne or white wine vinegar
1 large shallot, slivered
4 ounces mizuna
2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled
1 teaspoon freshly crushed black peppercorns

Place potatoes in a saucepan with cold water to cover. Season water liberally with salt. Bring to a simmer and cook just until potatoes are tender, 6 to 8 minutes, then drain. When potatoes stop steaming, transfer them to a wide bowl.

Combine oil, vinegar, and salt to taste, and drizzle about one-third of this dressing over potatoes. Add shallot. Fold together with a rubber spatula. Dressing will pick up creaminess from potatoes. Set aside.

Place mizuna in a second wide bowl suitable for serving. Toss with half of the remaining dressing. Add potato mixture and fold in gently. Halve eggs lengthwise, and cut in crosswise slices 1/8-inch thick. Scatter over salad, add remaining dressing, and fold once or twice very gently. Dust with crushed pepper, and serve.

Turkey and Mizuna Salad

For the salad:
2 cups mizuna
3 cups shredded or diced cooked turkey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 serrano chili, seeded and chopped
1 bunch scallions, white part and green, thinly sliced
1 small cucumber, seeded and diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 small red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts
2 broccoli crowns, cut or broken into small florets, steamed 4 to 5 minutes, refreshed with cold water and drained on paper towels

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk or plain nonfat yogurt
1 tablespoon turkey stock or water, for thinning if using yogurt

Line a platter or bowl with mizuna.

Season the turkey with salt and pepper, and combine in a large bowl with the chili, scallions, cucumber, cilantro, red pepper, and walnuts.

Combine the ingredients for the dressing, and mix well. Toss with the turkey mixture. Arrange on top of the mizuna and serve.

Monday, October 3, 2011

2011 CSA Week 19

This season can have an insulating effect. Twice in the past week I have arrived at the farm to find it shrouded in morning fog and myself unable to see one side of the fields from the other. Once already we have revised our harvest-day start time to accommodate a later dawn, and before long we will have to do so again, each concession to the encroaching darkness kept to a minimum so that we are assured of beginning our workday in light that is still dim. The limitations imposed by day length and atmosphere are part of a progression toward the time of year when our fields will be frozen and still, but for now they hold us gently for only a part of most days, and their hold is brief: Mist dissipates as the day warms, and the midday sun, when not obscured by clouds, is surprisingly warm and bright.

That's the weather report for this week, although apropos of nothing I would like to record that last Thursday the heavy sky under which we worked all day and which twice opened to a violent rainfall was briefly perforated by sunshine in such a way that all things gray were brightened and steam rose from our wet fields and a fat, low rainbow spanned the farm. It would be nice to have a picture of such a moment, but instead we have a picture of this chicken that Joshua carved in our picnic table.

The share this week:

Red Russian Kale
Rainbow Chard
Dandelion Greens
Sweet Peppers
Hot Peppers
Red Onion
Sweet Potatoes

Notes About the Food:

* What better way to welcome October than with sweet potatoes? We are sad to count them among the crops whose production was diminished by the cool and wet conditions of recent months, especially after the superlative harvest of last year, but after digging them from a bed that had recently been underwater (and is now underwater again), we feel lucky to have any of the things at all. Sweet potatoes are best grown in sandy, well-drained soils--basically the opposite of what we have in most of our fields--and conditions for them cannot be too hot. Last season was hot and dry, and our forbearance in conditions that were sometimes unfavorable for humans was rewarded by impressively-sized sweet potatoes. This year our sweet potato plants were cold and wet, and their yield was uninspiring. Some are large, none are huge, and most of what we dug is small and shaped like twisted magic markers. Please be aware that some of what you receive will look scrappy, but please also be aware that all of it is good food. The thin potatoes are easily chopped and roasted, or steamed and mashed. Most recipes will recommend that you peel sweet potatoes (regular potatoes too), but when I know that the tubers have been grown in clean soil, without chemicals, I never do this, and it's a step I have elided in the following recipes, all of which are from The New York Times:

Sweet Potato Fries

4 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick fries
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the fries on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and paprika. Mix well with your fingers and bake for about 45 minutes or till the fries are soft on the inside and crunchy and golden brown on the outside.

Coconut Oil Roasted Sweet Potatoes

1 1/2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
1 3/4 pounds sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 teaspoons light brown sugar, packed
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat.

In a large bowl, toss together potatoes, coconut oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Spread potatoes in an even layer on a large baking sheet. Roast, tossing occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 1 hour.

This recipe is especially notable for the fact that nearly all of the ingredients are included in this week's CSA share. Unfortunately, we can't grow limes:

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Black Beans and Chili Dressing

4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 large onion, preferably red, chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh hot chili, like jalapeno
1 clove garlic, peeled
Juice of 2 limes
2 cups cooked black beans, drained (canned are fine)
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put sweet potatoes and onion on large baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, toss to coat and spread out in single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning occasionally, until potatoes begin to brown on corners and are just tender inside, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven; keep on pan until ready to mix with dressing.

Put chilies in a blender or mini food processor along with the garlic, lime juice, remaining olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Process until blended.

Put warm vegetables in a large bowl with beans and bell pepper; toss with dressing and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to a day.

* We snuck broccoli into the share last Thursday, and this week we'll offer it to those of our members who pick up on Tuesday. Rarely do we split the week in such a way (it is always our goal to offer identical shares in a single week), but the broccoli was forming heads with timing that necessitated a mid-week harvest. It is full-on now, and without making promises I'll state that it is our hope to have enough broccoli for Tuesday and Thursday next week.

[Update: As much as we'd like to plan the entirety of our harvests in advance, it is really the plants that dictate when they should be picked and in what quantity. The broccoli is abundant; both pick-up days will receive broccoli this week, and we'll sneak it into an additional Tuesday share soon.]

Our optimism is based on the vigor of the broccoli plants in the field. You have probably seen them when you pick up your vegetables: They are the swath of green that is almost a muted teal where the strawberries were in the spring. The strawberries had been there for more than two years, and had received a generous application of compost during the off-season, which means the soil they occupied was untilled relative to other parts of the field, and very healthy. This likely is what accounts for the health of the broccoli. From a distance, most of the growth you're looking at is stems and leaves; the florets that we are accustomed to thinking of as broccoli are tucked amongst these other parts of the plant. It's the flowering part of the plant that we have been conditioned to eat--each tightly-balled floret will bloom yellow if left unharvested--but I hope you'll treat the entire plant as food. The stem can be chopped and cooked alongside the head, and the leaves can be prepared as you would any sturdy cooking green. We'll bunch the leaves and stems along with the florets, and in recipes--such as the following from The Washington Post--that call for only the florets, you should use the whole plant:

Broccoli, Ginger and Cashew Stir-Fry

3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
2-inch piece peeled ginger root, minced (1 tablespoon)
1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
Florets from 1 head broccoli
1/4 raw or dry-roasted unsalted cashew pieces
1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce
Dash cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon Thai red or green curry paste (optional)

Heat a wok or skillet over medium heat. When it is quite hot, add the oil and swirl to coat the surface. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and red bell pepper; stir-fry for a few minutes, until the ingredients are fragrant yet still crisp. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a bowl.

Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the broccoli and stir-fry for 8 to 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to low; return the vegetable mixture to the wok or skillet and add the cashew pieces, tamari soy sauce, cayenne pepper, and Thai curry paste, if using. Stir to incorporate, then cover and cook undisturbed for 5 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Monday, September 26, 2011

2011 CSA Week 18

After more than a week of certain autumn the recent spate of muggy days have felt like a retreat toward summertime. This is the time of year when warm weather is equally as possible as cold, when the transition from one season to the next feels more like a series of fluctuations than a linear narrative of cooling temperatures and shortening days. Fall arrives and summer immediately asserts its lingering presence and so on in a series of interlocking days that fail to establish a middle ground between the two seasons until suddenly, one morning, it is irrevocably cold. In the midst of this unpredictability I was reminded of this time one year ago, and although the daily specifics of whatever jagged overlap of seasons characterized our work in September of 2010 are lost to me, I was aware--in the way that odd dates or events remain as arbitrary cairns in our memory--that this same weekend last September was unexpectedly warm and humid. I remembered visiting friends in Northampton on the 25th of September last year and my mild discomfort in the wet air and the difficulty I had falling asleep in an upstairs apartment, and I was struck by this unexpected annual symmetry revealing itself amidst our present discontinuous progress toward autumn: A welcome glimpse of the larger patterns in which we participate, one changeable day at a time.

The share this week:

Green Cabbage
Hakurei Turnips
Bok Choi
Sweet Peppers
Hot Peppers
You-Pick Husk Cherries

Notes About the Food:

* We had our suspicions last year that because we are farming a low, wet piece of ground it would be difficult for us to grow potatoes. We planted a small amount as an experiment, and our hypothesis was confirmed by the poor yield and small size of what we harvested. Well-drained planting beds are at a premium for us, and to successfully grow potatoes for the CSA would require a larger percentage of the most desirable parts our fields than we can spare, and the resulting space issues would jeopardize our other crops. We weighed our options and decided that even if it doesn't make sense for us to grow them, we'd like to offer potatoes in the share. So we budgeted accordingly, and this year we are happy to provide potatoes from Allandale Farm. It was truly a pleasure to arrange the purchase and to visit the farm in Brookline to pick up the potatoes. In addition to last week and this week, expect potatoes from Allandale in one more share before the end of the season.

Warm Potato Salad with Goat Cheese

For the Dressing
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the Salad
1 1/2 pounds potatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 ounces soft goat cheese
2 to 3 sage leaves, cut into thin slivers (optional)

Make the dressing. Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and garlic. Whisk in the olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings, and set aside.

Scrub the potatoes and cut into 3/4-inch dice. Steam above 1 inch of boiling water until tender but not mushy, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and toss while hot in a bowl with salt and pepper to taste, the onions, parsley, goat cheese, and dressing. Sprinkle the sage over the top and serve.

* The New York Times (the source for all of the recipes in this post) described cabbage as a "versatile vegetable for hard times," and I was pleased to search for recipes that include cabbage alongside potatoes and uncover a plethora of adjectives synonymous with "rustic," many of which referred to a bygone notion of Irish peasantry. Nothing wrong with that:

Smashed Red Potatoes with Cabbage

2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed
1 pound cabbage, quartered, cored, and cut into thin shreds across the grain
2 tablespoons butter or extra-virgin olive oil
2 heaped tablespoons chopped scallions
2/3 cup low-fat milk (more as needed), warmed
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons minced chives (optional)

Cover the potatoes with water in a saucepan, add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover partially and cook until tender all the way through when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes. Do not drain the water, but using a skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes from the pot to a bowl. Cover tightly and allow to sit for five to 10 minutes. Then, using a towel to hold the potatoes steady (because they're still hot), cut them into quarters.

Meanwhile, bring the water back to a boil, add more salt if desired and add the cabbage. Cook uncovered until tender, five to six minutes. Drain.

Heat the butter or oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet, and add the scallions. Cook, stirring, until they soften, about three minutes. Add the potatoes. Smash the potatoes to a coarse mash in the pan with a potato masher or the back of your spoon. Stir in the hot milk, and mix together well until the potatoes have absorbed all the milk. Stir in the cabbage, and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the chives, stir together until heated through, and serve.

Cabbage is also a versatile vegetable for fancy times, and such times may call for a tart:

Cabbage and Caramelized Onion Tart

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, cut in half root to stem, then thinly sliced across the grain
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small cabbage, shredded or chopped (about 6 cups)
Freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs
3/4 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup, tightly packed (2 ounces) Gruyere cheese
1 pie crust (
NYT recommends this recipe)

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large, heavy non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until they begin to sizzle and soften, about three minutes. Add a generous pinch of salt and the garlic. Stir everything together, turn the heat to low, cover and cook slowly for 45 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are very soft, sweet and light brown.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat in another large skillet. Add the cabbage. Cook, stirring often, until it begins to wilt, then add salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until the cabbage is tender and fragrant. Stir in the onions, simmer together uncovered for about five minutes or until there is no longer any liquid in the pan, and remove from the heat.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9- or 10-inch tart pan and line with the dough. Beat the eggs and milk in a bowl and season with salt (about 1/2 teaspoon) and pepper. Stir in the onions, cabbage and cheese, and combine well. Scrape into the tart pan, and place in the oven. Bake 40 to 45 minutes until the top is lightly browned.

*Cabbage is another cool-weather crop that we grow in the spring and fall, and so is bok choi. Add it to the arsenal of greens returning after a summer's absence, and try it in an easy stir-fry:

Stir-Fried Bok Choi or Sturdy Greens

12 to 16 ounces bok choi or sturdy greens, such as collards
1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
1 tablespoon Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 slice ginger, minced
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons sesame seeds

Rinse bok choi and cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces. Bring an inch of water to a boil in the bottom of a steamer, and place the bok choi in the steamer basket. Steam 1 minute, remove from the heat and rinse in cold water. Squeeze out excess water and drain on a kitchen towel.

Combine the broth or water, rice wine or sherry, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl and place within arm's reach of your pan. Have the remaining ingredients measured out and near your pan.

Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or a 12-inch skillet over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within a second or two when added to the pan. Swirl in the oil by adding it to the sides of the pan and swirling the pan, then add garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 10 seconds, until fragrant. Add the bok choi or greens, sprinkle with salt and the sugar, and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Stir the cornstarch mixture and swirl into the wok, then stir-fry for 1 minute, or until the greens are just tender. Sprinkle on the sesame seeds. Remove from the heat and serve.

Monday, September 19, 2011

2011 CSA Week 17

At some point in recent weeks, while I was preoccupied with the overabundance of rainfall and the fact that the viability of several of our crops was threatened by the inability of our fields to dry, September began, and the season turned to fall. The rain and its attendant stress distracted my awareness from what are usually milestones of relief, and when it cleared last week I was surprised and happy to be reacquainted with cool mornings and the softening light of a Massachusetts autumn. Our days unencumbered by precipitation, we have been able to take stock of our fields and prepare ourselves for the season's homestretch. It is true that the lifespan of some of our crops was shortened--you will receive the last of our beleaguered tomatoes this week--but not tragically so. The rest of what we will harvest this year is in the ground, and those crops are enjoying the same gentle conditions as those of us who tend them. As they ease toward maturity and we ease toward October and the last weeks of the CSA season, we are careful to appreciate the dual reprieve from summer's heat and its persistent inclemencies.

The share this week:

Sweet Peppers
Hot Peppers
Dandelion Greens
White Onions

Notes About the Food:

* There are many days when I feel like I am underwater and the people around me are on dry land and I am talking to them and they are talking to me but we are not communicating, and on those days I think that one of the greatest tragedies of our lives is the fact that all of our joys are private. On those days I think perhaps we are all submerged and isolated and that it is impossible to express the truth of any of the things we feel. In this way our sadnesses, our anxieties, our periods of contentment are all private, and alongside them our genuine fondness for the things we love wells within us until we overflow, at which point it enters the world diluted by language and inflection, a watery and imperfect representation that keeps us separate from those with whom we would share our happiness.

Of course I am thinking of dandelion greens. Back in the share after a summer's absence, they are still bitter, they are still nutritious, and I love them. Alone, mostly. And if I despair of effectively sharing my affinity for the things, that's okay, it's among the least important of all that will remain permanently incommunicable between us.

You might prefer them with eggs and bacon. From Earth to Table:

Dandelion Salad with Poached Eggs and Bacon

For the croutons
2 cups stale bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced herbs, such as thyme or rosemary
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the salad
8 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
canola oil, as needed
1 tablespoon minced shallots
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
4 cups dandelion leaves

For the eggs
4 large eggs
6 cups water
1/4 cup white vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350. Toss the bread with the oil, herbs, and salt, and spread on a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, start the bacon cooking in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until the fat renders and the bacon is chewy and starting to crisp, about 7-10 minutes. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels, then add a little canola oil (if necessary) to make about 1/3 cup of fat, depending how much fat the bacon rendered. Add the shallots, vinegar, and mustard, and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits in the pan. Stir quickly to bring together into a dressing and keep warm.

While the bacon is cooking, bring the water and vinegar for the eggs to a simmer, then crack the eggs into a small dish or ladle. Slip them carefully into the water and simmer until the whites are just set and yoke is still runny, about 3-4 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the dandelion greens with the bacon, croutons, and dressing. Toss to combine, then plate and top with the poached egg. Serve immediately while the egg and the dressing are still warm.

The following recipe was published in a 2007 New York magazine, with a note about the New York chef and restaurant from which it was taken. It pleases me because of my interest in Greece and for its use of the word "midribs" to describe a part of the leaf I had always thought of as "veins." I like midribs better:

Warm Dandelion Greens with Fingerling Potatoes and Cherry Peppers

"Pesky weed to some, seasonal delicacy to others, the jagged, bitter dandelion green is on of those Mediterranean peasant foods newly embraced for their health-giving properties--in this case a preponderance of iron, calcium, and vitamin A. Delicate young greens are terrific in raw salads, but in the Greek kitchen the mature leaf is often used in the generic "horta" preparation, (over)boiled and simply dressed with olive oil and lemon, the way Anthos chef Michael Psilakis's mother made it. Psilakis prefers to preserve the plant's bitter bite by blanching it quickly just to tenderize, then sauteing it with garlic and hot peppers, as in this warm spring salad."

2 bunches mature dandelion greens, washed, thick stems removed
12 pickled cherry peppers
Extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, crushed and coarsely chopped
18 fingerling potatoes, roasted
1 1/2 cups pitted Thassos olives (Kalamata may be substituted)
Juice of 3 lemons
1 1/2 cups crumbled Greek feta
salt and pepper

Add dandelion greens to a large pot of boiling salted water, and cook just until the midribs (the part of the stem that extends into the leaf) are malleable. Immediately remove and shock in an ice bath. Lay greens on a dish towel to dry thoroughly. Stem and quarter the cherry peppers, discarding the seeds if a milder degree of heat is desired.

Add 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil to a large pan over medium heat. In rapid succession, cook garlic and peppers until garlic begins to brown, add potatoes and stir to coat with oil, add dandelion greens and olives to warm, and deglaze with lemon juice, giving the pan's contents a quick toss. Take care not to overcook the greens and potatoes.

Transfer to a large serving bowl and add crumbled feta. Dress with olive oil and season to taste.

* As the weather cools you'll notice several crops that we grew in the spring--dandelion greens among them--return to the rotation. We schedule two plantings of much of our cool-weather produce, the first timed for early-season harvest, the second for autumn harvest. Kohlrabi is another example of a crop that does not tolerate the full heat of summer but with which we choose to begin and end our growing season. When we last saw kohlrabi it was pale green; this fall we are growing a purple variety. The color extends from the skin of the bulb through the stems and midribs, but you will recognize the crisp white interior as the same refreshment we saw in the spring variety. Here's a recipe from the BBC (why not?), which also calls for leeks:

Smothered Leeks and Kohlrabi

"Smothering is a way of cooking vegetables with a little fat and the least possible amount of water in a covered pan until very, very tender. Kohlrabi holds together well, adding its own natural sweetness."

3 leeks, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch lengths
2 kohlrabi, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
3 large carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
6 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
water, to cover
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 ounces butter

Place the leeks, kohlrabi, carrots, and garlic into a wide shallow pan that will take them in a single layer. Tuck the herbs among them.

Pour in enough water to come 1/2-inch up the sides of the pan. Season with salt and pepper, and dot with butter.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to the absolute minimum. Cover the pan with a lid and leave to cook very gently for about an hour, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't catch. If necessary, add an extra splash of water, or if it ends up to watery uncover and boil the water off. Either way, your aim is to end with meltingly tender vegetables, perhaps slightly patched with brown toward the end of the cooking, with little more than a few tablespoons of syrupy liquid left in the pan. Serve warm.

Monday, September 12, 2011

2011 CSA Week 16

Last year I noticed that on several occasions I put on rain pants before it began to rain and then proceeded to work comfortably in whatever inclement conditions ensued. This was a notable improvement of my previous tendency to wait until I was in the midst of a rainstorm to acknowledge the weather and don protective clothing, and I decided my new-found attention to preventative measures was a sign of maturity. And I was proud to count this rudimentary example of common sense among my attributes until earlier this season, when I realized during one of the heavy rainfalls of August that without my noticing my raincoat and rain pants had grown so old and permeable that they were best considered decorative rather than functional, and I was wearing them to no effect except an exacerbation of my wet condition. Intending to trick myself into acquiring a new rain outfit that would actually repel rain, I threw out the old set and then promptly undermined my claims of common sense and self-reliance by failing to replace it before our region was beset by 1. A hurricane, and 2. The extended aftermath of a tropical storm. If I have been unduly wet in recent weeks, and a little cold, it's my own fault.

Personal comfort aside, this August was one of the wettest on record, and September has scarcely been drier. By last Thursday our fields were saturated so that as the rain fell it pooled and then diffused itself in fast-flowing rivulets across many of our planting beds. We picked peppers that were underwater, and we stood in water well above our ankles to harvest cherry tomatoes. To see our plants submerged was a strange, disheartening experience, tempered only by the soggy awareness that there was not a thing we could do about it. It felt like the culmination of a waterlogged season, the point at which our summer of work might be fully undone. Since then we have had a few dry days during which to assess the state of our fields, and the situation does not feel as bleak as when the rain was pummeling the soil and the water was rising around our feet. Many of our planting beds are still choked with water, and the lifespan of the crops in those beds will likely be shortened, but our ability to produce food on the farm as a whole is not compromised. Each season is different, and the overabundance of water is part of this year's unique set of challenges. And if we're foolish enough to meet those challenges without a raincoat, we're not so foolish as to be ungrateful for what we've been spared: In a season in which farms throughout the northeast have been subject to flood damage far worse than our own, we consider ourselves lucky to accept the rain as it falls, to learn from its excess, and to work successfully in spite of it.

The share this week:

Red Russian Kale
Red or Chioggia Beets
Sweet Peppers
Red Onions
Husk Cherries or Green Beans

Notes about the food:

* Kale is among the crops that have thrived in the cool, wet conditions, and after a few weeks of summertime absence from our harvest schedule, we're happy to have it back. Its success during trying times in our fields is indicative of the give-and-take of each season. 2010 was hot and dry well into the autumn, conditions that prolonged the life of our tomato plants and other heat-loving crops but were deleterious to the kale and cabbage and other cool weather crops that we plant for harvest in the spring and then again in the fall. Brassicas were almost fully absent from the share at this time last season, but those plants that were unable to produce in the extended summer of 2010 have grown vigorously in the reduced temperatures and increased rainfall of this season, and we have reason to be enthusiastic about the kale, broccoli, and the rest, even as the tomatoes--so strong at this time one year ago-- continue to weaken. One is coming and the other going, so for now, two recipes that include kale and cherry tomatoes during this week of their overlap:

Lentil, Kale, and Cherry Tomato Salad

1/2 cup brown lentils
1/2 cup green lentils
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
1 lemon, juiced
8 slices whole grain bread
1 clove garlic, halved
butter, as needed
salt to taste

Bring a large pot of unsalted water to a boil with the lentils. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil, red chili flakes, and tomatoes in a small saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook until tomatoes begin to soften, then set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the kale and cook until wilted and a vivid dark green. Drain and rinse under cold water.

Drain the olive oil from the tomatoes into bowl or small jar. Add the oregano, lemon juice, and a generous pinch of coarse salt. Whisk with a fork until combined. Adjust the acidity and seasoning if necessary.

Toast the pieces of bread and, while still warm, brush with cut side of the garlic clove and spread with butter.

To serve, drain the lentils, toss with the prepared dressing, tomatoes, and kale and season to taste with salt. Arrange a slice of toast on each plate and spoon a generous portion over top. Sprinkle with a coarse finishing salt if desired.

Raw Kale Salad with Avocado, Cherry Tomato, Onion, and Toasted Walnuts

2 cups kale, torn into bite-sized chunks
1/2 of a small avocado, cubed
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon toasted walnut pieces
1 tablespoon sliced red onion
1/4 of a fresh lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil

Place the torn kale in a mixing bowl, pour in the olive oil, and squeeze the juice from the lemon over the leaves. Sprinkle with salt and mix thoroughly.

Toss in cherry tomatoes, avocado, and toasted walnuts, and continue to toss until well mixed. Add salt to taste.

* This is the final week for edamame. You'll notice that some of the leaves on the plants have died back, and that the pods have darkened. These changes in appearance are normal as the plant ages, but you'll find the soybeans themselves unchanged. As I said before, I rarely eat these as anything other than a stand-alone snack, but they are also easy to incorporate as part of a more elaborate presentation:

Roasted Corn and Edamame Salad

2 ears fresh corn, unhusked, or 1 1/4 cups cooked corn kernels
1/2 cup edamame, steamed and shelled
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup small-diced red bell pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped or grated ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Soak fresh corn in cold water about 30 minutes. Heat grill on high. Grill corn in husk, 10 to 15 minutes, turning once. Let cool. Remove husks. Cut corn from cob into a bowl; combine with remaining ingredients. Cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

* I rarely post about food that is not in the current week's share, but it is possible that you have been wondering how I have spent my free time lately, and the answer involves basil. Whether basil is in the share again this season is dependent on how the final planting recovers from being forced to grow in a lot of mud, but we're optimistic. Until then, if you have some basil at hand, and some free time, I recommend you revisit the cookie recipe from week 9. When I first posted the recipe I hadn't made it. Now, it is basically how I spend my weekends.