Tuesday, June 29, 2010

CSA Week 5

The weather has wasted no time becoming fully appropriate for summer. It will be July before this week is over, and it has been hot. For many of our crops this is a good thing: squash, tomatoes, eggplant, and other things evocative of the season should grow well in the heat. Other produce--especially the brassicas (broccoli and cabbage, as well as kale) are less tolerant of the heat. Those crops will eventually succumb to the temperatures, but we have already begun sowing their fall successions. In the coming weeks we'll plant more of everything in the cabbage family, and they'll be ready for harvest when cooler weather returns. Such is the cyclical nature of the farming season. As for right now, we're pleased with today's harvest--it's the largest of the season thus far. Here's what's in the share:

Kohlrabi -or- Turnips
Beets, red -or- chioggia
Kale, lacinato
Summer Squash, zephyr
Sugar Snap Peas
Green Garlic

Notes about the food:

*Green Garlic refers to garlic harvested before the bulb is fully formed. You'll notice that skin hasn't developed over the bulb, and that it hasn't segmented into cloves. These things will happen in the next few weeks, at which time we'll harvest the entirety of our crop. At that time we'll cut off what's left of the green leaves and let the bulbs dry before distributing them. For now, we're offering the entire plant, leaves and all. Use it as you would a green onion--chop the bulb as well as the stalk and include in your cooking as you would a regular clove of garlic. Keep in mind that it won't store as long as a fully developed garlic plant, so use it soon.

*We've harvested the broccoli with some of the stem and some of the leaves. Please eat them as well as the florets--they contain a lot of the nutrition that is in the crop, and they are similarly flavorful. We have worked on farms in the past that harvest the broccoli leaves and sell them separately, bunched like kale. The florets--the part of the plant that you are probably most accustomed to eating--are the part of the plant that will flower. If left unharvested, each of the tightly bunched kernels in the head of broccoli will produce a yellow flower.

*Risotto has a reputation for being difficult, but it isn't. It requires your presence at the stove for a period of constant stirring, but otherwise it is not hard to make well. I recommend the following recipe for beet risotto, which I've taken from a cookbook called Almost Vegetarian.

2 medium beets, topped
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 small onion, chopped

1 tbsp orange zest

1 cup arborio rice

2 tbsp raspberry or lemon vinegar

pinch of sugar

1 tbsp sour cream or yogurt cheese

1. Put beets and bay leaf in a saucepan and add 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, over medium heat, until the beets are cooked through, about 40 minutes.

2. Remove the beets with a slotted spoon, then strain the cooking water and discard the bay leaf. Pour the cooking water back into the saucepan. Slip the skins off the beets.

3. Chop 1 of the beets and set aside. In a food processor puree the other beet and stir into the strained broth. Cover the broth and keep it at a gentle simmer over low heat.

(The portion of the recipe above--the beet broth--can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator, and used as a base for things other than the risotto that follows.)

4. In another large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and orange zest, and saute over medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the chopped beet, and stir well. Add the rice and stir until it is well coated with the seasonings and is glistening, about 2 minutes.

5. Add the vinegar and stir until it evaporates, about 2 minutes.

6. Using a ladle, add about 1 cup hot broth. Stir constantly over medium heat until the broth has been absorbed. Add another ladleful of broth and keep stirring until it has been absorbed.

7. Continue the process, adding broth 1/2 cup at a time and stirring in this way until the kernels are plump and no longer chalk white in the center. This should take 25-30 minutes altogether. the rice is almost done when the kernels are still separate but starting to bind, and there are pools of broth on the surface. It is done when the liquid had been absorbed, and the kernels are bound in what looks like very ricey, yet somewhat creamy, rice pudding.

8. When the risotto is done, stir in the sugar, cream or yogurt cheese, and stir well to blend. Serve at once.

*Are you watching World Cup soccer? I think Spain and Portugal are playing as I write, and on my imaginary calendar I've highlighted the Germany-Argentina match that will be played next Saturday.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

CSA Week 4

The first day of summer is behind us, we are into the fourth week of the CSA season, and your farmers have begun to settle into a routine with the twice-weekly harvests and distributions. We hope that the CSA has become part of your routine, too--that the pick-ups are easy and familiar, and that you've begun to rely on the weekly supply of vegetables. Please remember, if you ever have any questions during pick-up and neither Joshua nor I are near the stand, please find us in the fields--we're nearby, and we'd love to say hello and answer any questions that you have. Here's what's in the share this week:

Beets, chioggia
Swiss Chard, bright lights
Kale, starbor
Lettuce, red and green varieties
Summer Squash, zephyr
Spring Onions
Sugar Snap Peas

Notes about the food:

*Chioggia Beets are one of three beet varieties that we grow. They're distinguished by their light-red skin and by the bullseye pattern of red and white stripes in their interior. Definitely cut one in half and take a look--they're beautiful. The stripes will usually blend to a uniform pink when cooked, but consider trying these beets uncooked as well. They are sweeter, with a less intense "beet" flavor than their standard dark-red counterparts, and they are delicious sliced thinly (a mandolin is the perfect tool for this) and lightly dressed. And don't neglect the greens: The food value of a bunch of beets is superb, because the greens are as edible and nutritious as the root. Lightly steamed, then dressed with balsamic vinegar and fresh-ground pepper, the beet greens make an excellent side dish.

*We are growing (or trying to grow) at least 45 distinct fruit and vegetable crops. When planning what to grow we make decisions based on what will be successful in our region and climate, and also on other, more subjective, criteria. Which is to say, we tend to grow food that we like to eat. Such is the case with kale, of which we are growing an abundance, and which you can expect to receive in a majority of this season's distributions. The variety this week is starbor, a type of green curly kale, one of three varieties that we grow (the others, which have already appeared in shares, are red russian and lacinato). Because it will be prominent throughout the season, we'll continue to provide notes and cooking suggestions about kale. This week, because it is officially summer and a cold drink is a nice way to start the day, I'm going to suggest that you consider it as an addition to any smoothie that you might make in a blender. Take my word for it: kale's not as odd an addition as it might sound, and it will add vitamins A, E, and C, as well as iron and protein to your drink. Try this (but we're talking about smoothies, so whatever. Be creative.):

Put 1 banana, 2 cups chopped kale, 1 tsp maple syrup, 1-2 tbsp ground flax seeds, and 1/2 cup rice milk (or soy milk, or almond milk, or milk milk, or yogurt) in a blender, and blend until smooth. The smoothie will be a rich green color. On a hot day, add a few ice cubes before blending.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Baked Kale Chips

Thanks also to Meredith for this awesome healthy potato chip alternative.

Baked Kale Chips

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
3 large handfuls lacinato kale, torn into shreds
1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Combine the salt, smoked paprika, and garlic in a small bowl.

Wash the kale. Rinse the kale leaves, then put them in a salad spinner and spin until the green becomes a blur. Round and round, spinning and spinning — let the kale dry. After it comes out, dry it even more with paper towels. Those leaves should be bone dry.

Oiling the kale. Put the kale leaves in a large bowl. Drizzle over 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Massage the oil into the leaves. You might need more. You might have larger hands than I do. Use your judgment.

Bake the chips. Arrange the kale chips onto the sheet try and slide it into the oven. Bake until the leaves are crisp to the touch but still a dark green. (When they turn brown, they turn bitter.) Check at the 12-minute mark, to be sure.

Remove them from the oven. Sprinkle with the garlic smoked paprika salt.

Let them cool a bit. Eat.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Thanks Meredith for this delicious sounding recipe!

Rudy's Garlic Scape Pesto

Original Recipe Yield 2 cups


* 6 garlic scapes, chopped
* 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
* 1/2 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
* 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
* 1/4 cup pine nuts
* 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* salt and pepper to taste


1. Place the garlic scapes, Parmesan cheese, Asiago cheese, lemon juice, and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor. Drizzle the olive oil over the mixture. Blend until the pesto is a brilliant green color and smooth in texture. Season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Great website for organic recipes

Hi everyone: As the summer season gets underway, I wanted to share a fun website for family-friendly organic food recipes. The site includes video demos, as well as printable recipes.

(If you aren't in the mood for humor, skip the video, but I found some of the demonstrations really helpful.) The website is at the memorable address of www.cookusinterruptus.com/

Here's to a great 'fresh from the field' cooking season.


CSA Week 3

Last week's rain and cool cloud cover was perfect for transplanting vegetables, and now we're nearly at capacity, with a small corner left for our Fall brassicas and odds and ends like fennel and rutabagas. At this time of year my awe at what the land is willing to give back is constantly renewed. Meanwhile, things are getting huge in the fields- our first summer squash are sizing up, and our beets are nearly ready to pull out of the ground, and berries are very very close.

This weeks share will include:

Red Russian Kale
Swiss Chard
Garlic Scapes
and Dandelion Greens

Yesterday Susan had a conversation in which a member suggested making quick pickles out of the Japanese Turnips- slicing thinly and soaking in a brine of white wine vinegar, sugar, and minced scallions and leaving in the refrigerator for 12 hours. I really want to try this!

Monday, June 7, 2010

CSA Week 2

Our crops have responded well to the recent warm and humid weather, and so have the weeds. The heat and regular intervals of rain (rain that is sometimes pummeling) have resulted in renewed vigor for everything that grows, and we have officially entered the part of the season during which we will engage in the regular and assiduous excavation of our food crops from the ever-encroaching pressure of weeds. By this morning, when the heavy thunderstorms of last evening had washed the air clean and the temperature was cool and the light was clear, it was apparent that several of our recently planted beds were subject to the green occlusion of those small and numerous plants that share the soil with those we have deliberately sown. Between now and the fall season we're prepared to spend significant time with hand and hoe to see that they don't succumb. That said, we're pleased with the harvest for the second week of the CSA:

Lettuce, green forest -or- winter density
Dandelion, catalogna
Kale, lacinato
Bok Choi
Garlic Scapes

Some food notes and recipes for this week's share:

*Kohlrabi is one of the loveliest vegetables we grow, even if it looks like it is from another planet. It is a brassica, related to kale and broccoli, and the entire plant can be eaten. Think of the bulb as a swollen broccoli stem, but sweeter and more refreshing, and of the leaves as tender kale leaves. Many people peel the purple outer skin of bulb, but I like to grate the entire thing over salad greens. To use all of the kohlrabi in a single dish, try an easy casserole:

1 lb. kohlrabi, including greens
1/2 lb. onions, chopped small
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel kohlrabi and cut into small chunks. Saute in oil with onion until onion is golden. Add kohlrabi greens, cut into ribbons, and continue cooking until wilted. (To add more greens--and I am always in favor of adding more greens--cut some of this week's kale into ribbons and use it as well.) Meanwhile, grease a baking dish. Put cooked kohlrabi mixture in to dish, top with breadcrumbs and cheese, and cook 10-15 minutes.

*The bok choi and dandelion greens will be familiar from last week. We had hoped to save the bok choi to harvest for next week's box, but because of the recent heat the plants are beginning to bolt (go to seed). By next week they'll be too bitter to be considered palatable, so we're harvesting them while we can and offering the crop for the second consecutive week. The dandelion greens are the result of our desire to never have too little of a crop, and our corresponding tendency to sometimes grow too much (if there is such a thing when it comes to healthy and delicious greens). We have a lot of dandelion greens right now, and we'll continue to offer them until we run out. To keep yourself interested, consider these recipes from Elizabeth Schneider's cookbook Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables:

Dandelions with Green Garlic
3 tbsp bacon fat
2 stalks minced green garlic (or use this week's garlic scapes)
1 bunch dandelion greens, cleaned and cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup stock
salt and pepper to taste

Heat fat in large skillet; add garlic and stir. Add greens and stock and cook over moderate heat, partly covered, for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with hot sauce or vinegar.

Dandelion and Goat Cheese Salad
1 bunch dandelion greens, cleaned and dried
1/4 lb. goat cheese, cut into cubes
1/3 cup chopped red onion or scallions
2 tbsp sherry or other light vinegar
2 tbsp walnut or other nut oil (good olive oil if that is what's available)
1/2 tsp sugar
3-4 tbsp chopped walnuts

Cut dandelion greens into 2-inch pieces. Place on serving dish; intersperse with cheese. Sprinkle with onion. In a small non-aluminum pan combine vinegar, oil, and sugar; bring to a boil, stirring. Pour over salad and toss lightly. Sprinkle with nuts and serve at once.

*Garlic Scapes are the flowering part of the garlic plant; the small bulb at the end of each scape would flower if left on the plant. Most growers remove the scapes so that the plant will redirect its energy toward forming a strong bulb below ground. We remove them for that reason, and also because we think they're delicious. The scapes are milder than fully developed garlic, so they can be chopped and eaten raw, or cooked with anything to which you wish to impart a light garlic flavor.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The CSA Season Begins

Our first CSA distribution is underway as I write. We've been preparing for this day all season, and we're happy with the results. Here's what's in the share (crop, variety):

Kale, red russian
Lettuce, winter density
Dandelion Greens, catalogna
Turnips, hakurei
Radishes, crunchy royale
Bok Choi, joi choi
Spring Onions

Much of this food began as seeds sown in our greenhouse as long ago as March. Back then we were coaxing plants to life by the heat of our woodstove; since then we've transplanted them in our fields, where we've kept them weeded, covered against insects, and exposed to healthy intervals of sun and rain. To harvest the resulting crops this morning, and to clean them and arrange them for presentation at our distribution shed, was truly satisfying. (We'll post pictures within a few days.) Thanks to our two working members, Kim and Amy, who helped us with today's harvest, and thanks to all of our members who have joined the CSA and are collecting their first shares today.

If you are reading this but are not a CSA member, there is still time to join! Shares are still available, and we'll continue to offer them until they sell out--if you are interested, please contact Joshua at doverfarmcsa@gmail.com.

A few cooking and eating tips for this week's harvest:

* The turnips are a Japanese variety, and they make for especially good fresh eating. Try one raw - it will be sweet and crunchy. They are also good cooked along with their greens. I've enjoyed this recipe from the late Gourmet Magazine, which suggests doing so and then flavoring with miso (the amounts can be adjusted proportionally):

3 tablespoons white miso
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided
3 pounds small (1 1/2-to 2-inch) Japanese turnips with greens
1 1/3 cups water
2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)

Stir together miso and 2 tablespoons butter.
Discard turnip stems and coarsely chop leaves. Halve turnips (leave whole if tiny) and put in a 12-inch heavy skillet along with water, mirin, remaining tablespoon butter, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then boil, covered, 10 minutes.
Add greens by handfuls, turning and stirring with tongs and adding more as volume in skillet reduces. Cover and cook 1 minute. Uncover and continue boiling, stirring occasionally, until turnips are tender and liquid is reduced to a glaze, about 5 minutes. Stir in miso butter and cook 1 minute.

* Dandelion is one of the most nutritious greens you can eat, but it can be bitter, so be prepared for the astringency. If you like that aspect of their flavor, they make a great addition to any raw green salad; otherwise, to remove the bitterness they can be blanched or washed in salted water. Here's another recipe from Gourmet, this one for dandelion salad with warm hazelnut vinaigrette:

2 large bunches dandelion greens (about 2 pounds)
1/4 cup hazelnuts
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Discard tough stems from greens. Cut top 5 inches from greens and reserve. Cut remaining greens into 3/4-inch slices. Transfer all greens to a large serving bowl. Coarsely chop nuts and finely chop garlic. In a small heavy skillet cook garlic and nuts in oil over moderate heat, stirring, until garlic is golden. Stir in vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.
Pour hot vinaigrette over greens and toss to combine.

We'll continue to post recipes that relate to the food we grow. Please feel free to share your own favorite recipes, cooking tips, or other food-related thoughts with us, and we'll use this blog to share them with the rest of the CSA membership.