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.


  1. I realized shortly after writing the above post that by including a recipe that calls for "bacon fat" (the recipe actually calls for "pork, chicken, duck, goose, or bacon fat", but I shortened it for the sake expediency) that I had possibly posted something completely anathema to Joshua, who is a conscientious vegan (and probably a better resource for kitchen improvisation and recipe creation than I am). In my defense I'll say only: 1. The cookbook I referenced, which I found in the house where I am renting a room, is from 1986, and I imagine that as the country's health-consciousness has increased the number of cookbooks to fully eschew such blatant use of animal fats has probably also increased. But I am enjoying the 1986 book for its useful introductions to a variety of (as the title suggests) uncommon vegetables. Elizabeth Schneider has written a more recent book called Vegetables A to Z, which includes useful introductions, fun facts, and full-color pictures of every vegetable that we grow plus many that we don't, and I recommend it highly. And: 2. Anything cooked in bacon fat is delicious.