Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In the Share: Week 3

In the Share: Week 3
STRAWBERRIES (F/P) About half a pint for everyone to begin the hopefully month-long harvest.
LETTUCE (F/P) Two for the full shares, one for the partials
ASPARAGUS (F) Just a few more weeks worth of the tender shoots before we let them make their ferns for the summer. Partial shares will get them next week.
RED RUSSIAN KALE (F/P) The only kale we grow in the springtime – hearty and so healthy. Full shares get both greens, partials get a choice of the two
VITAMIN GREEN (F/P) In the ‘Asian green’ category. Great fresh or stir fried. Check out Tom’s blog for our new favorite super-simple greens recipe.
GREEN GARLIC or RADISHES (F/P) The radishes that survived the sogginess are less than perfect, a bit pithy and spicy, but still very edible. This will be the last of the green garlic.
HERB CHOICE (F/P) Cilantro or dill or a dried herb

Also this week: Bread of Life delivery

Next week: More luscious strawberries, lettuces. A new planting of radishes should be ready as well as arugula and perhaps finally Hakurei turnips. The peas should debut as should the garlic scapes.

Weather: The rain today was just what the crops needed. It was of a gentle, soaking variety that we seldom see in our parts. Now with a little sunshine the crops should start reaching for the sky.

The Fields: We are feeling pretty good about how the fields are at this point. All the tomatoes are mulched and have either their cages or the first string of their trellising. Over the years we’ve built up our capacity to mechanically cultivate (i.e. weed with the tractors) to the point where now we usually only need to weed right around the plants. Last week the membership helped with just such a task and cleaned up 1200 feet of the onions. A few more beds of onions, beets and carrots are still to be done before all the crops are tidy for the summer.

Links: This week we have a featured writer, Lori Watley, one of our two 2009 farm apprentices. Lori has been living and working on the farm since mid-April. She is always game for whatever farm task is at hand with a quick wit that keeps us smiling. Here she is in her own words:

I am a foodie and average human being who wants to help educate my community on living healthfully and conscientiously. Since this includes knowing where your food comes from, I figured it would be pretty neat-o to work on a local farm and see first hand just what is entailed in the growing of sustainable and organic food.

In addition to working at the farm this season, I will be instructing four classes on home canning and preserving as part the Urban Homesteading series offered by Bad Seed Farm. (http://www.badseedfarm.com/) The class is a hands-on introduction to home canning for folks who have an interest in learning and keeping alive the practical and artful way of food preservation.

I am looking forward to meeting all of you (yes you!!) as I enjoy my time at the farm this summer. (it’s the low down, BTW, that I am always up for a game of Yahtzee or Scrabble. Or Pictionary. Or…games! Yes, I do indeed like a good game. ahem.) Oh, and if you happen to see a white and orange cat slinking about, feel free to say hello to my fellow companion and partner in crime, a one Mr. Romeo T-Bone.

Here’s to a great season!
Lori Watley

Week 3 - What to do With Your Share

We are pleased that this week's share has a little more substance than last week. The early rains and cold weather set some things back, but the fields now appear ready to start producing. Preparing this week's mix doesn't require too much coaching, except for maybe the greens.

One standard we have adopted for cooking greens comes from NY Times food writer Mark Bittman (The Minimalist). His April 15, 2009 article With Broccoli Raab, What's Not to Like? applies to all greens. It is a great way to eat kale, especially if you are suspect of it. The bread crumbs in this dish give it the texture of a good casserole. Here is our adaptation of his recipe.
Kale with Pasta and Bread Crumbs
1-1/2 cups bread crumbs
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, coarsley chopped
1 bunch kale
Salt and pepper
1 pound pasta (spaghetti), cooked
Parmesan cheese

- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the paste. Meanwhile...
- Tear the bread into small pieces and put into a food processor with the red pepper flakes.
- Process the bread into small pieces (but not to dust).
- Put the bread crumbs in a large skillet over medium high heat and cook until until lightly toasted, turning often. Remove and set aside.
- Cut the stems from the kale and chop fine. Chop the leaves into strips or large pieces. Saute the kale with the olive oil and garlic in the skillet over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, or until tender. You may want to add a little of the pasta water about halfway through to keep the kale from burning.
- Once the kale is cooked add the bread crumbs and half or more of the pasta. Toss to mix.
- Serve and top with a good dose of Parmesan cheese
Tonight we had some prosciutto left in the house from our 8th anniversary. It was the perfect bacon substitute for last week's CSA Chef's recipe of Speck Wrapped Asparagus with Lemon Tarragon Aioli. A great way to stretch a small batch of aspargus. As is Emily's breakfast.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Week 2-What to do with Your Share

Today I left the farm to help the Parker’s out with a chicken house improvement project. Tom recently broke his collarbone and has a brace on his shoulder until it heals (couple months.) If you are interested in helping out, give them a call at 816-470-3276. With the help of Tom’s friend and professional welder Shan, we built a new sled for their chicken coop out of heavy duty pipe. We then, with the help of leverage and an ATV, took off the old rotted wood sled, raised the coop, pulled the new sled under it, dropped it and welded it in place. It was a full day's work.

While I don’t have any photos of it, I do have some taken before my batteries ran out.

Heading out to move the sheep.

The sheep

The chicken coop

Bok Choi
New to some, familiar to others, bok choi is good many ways. You can pick the leaves off the stems and use them salads. Using Asian type or sesame oil based dressings are particularly good with it. The stems are what give crunchiness to a good stir fry. It’s also good as a snack with peanut butter.

We are finding that cool wet weather is an ideal condition for mint. In the field and out home garden, it is growing well, and as aromatic as ever. We need to clear cut it now, to harvest what we have, and to create room for new growth.

It is forgotten how popular mint was before the birth of artificial flavors. As an herb, it has true medicinal properties. Before the turn of the century there were peppermint oil factories in the towns around Rochester, New York where I used to live. Dr. Chases Receipts, or Information for Everybody from 1886 notes in their section Food for the Sick, “47. Mint Teas, From the dried or green leaves crushed, with a little sugar, are agreeable to the taste, and soothing to a nauseous stomach, and to the irritated bowels of children.” With firsthand knowledge we can say that it works better than anything else to sooth an upset stomach.

Great Recipes from Member Bloggers
There are two great blogs out there sharing wonderful recipes to try with your share, complete with step by step instruction. Check out Emily Akins blog for Lemon Orzo with Roasted Asparagus.

The second one is by our friend and chef Heather Hands. She was at the farm last week and shared her lettuce wrap recipe. It was wonderful. Her blog is The CSA Chef.

In the Share: Week 2

LETTUCE (F/P) We’re back to our standard one for the partial shares, two for the full shares. This week everyone gets a Forellenschluss (‘Trout back’ speckled romaine heirloom)
ASPARAGUS (F/P) We have enough for all this week thanks to the warmer temperatures. (Check out fellow FSF CSA members delectable asparagus recipes on our blog roll)
BOK CHOI (F/P) The downpour last week sent them into a premature flower, but they have kept their sweetness.
GREEN GARLIC (F) Add to your stir fries, salads & pastas.
GREEN ONIONS (F/P) The first young babies of the onion harvest.
MINT (F) In abundance this time of year. Read Tom's post for a short tract on its healing and culinary properties
HERB CHOICE (F/P) Cilantro or dill

Also this week: Parker Farms delivery

Photos: This past Sunday, we joined the beekeepers, Keith & Nancy Stubblefield, to inspect the hives. All appears well. We removed the sugar-water feeders that helped them through the first month in their new homes. Now they must forage amongst the strawberry flowers and white clover blooming on the farm. I got to suit up and assist Keith with the hive inspection. We also added the 'supers' that we hope will be filled with honey by late summer.

Reminders: Please don’t forget to pickup your Parker Farms products at distribution. It is pretty much impossible for the distribution team to hold on to these items for you. Look for the coolers that say ‘meat’ and ‘eggs’.

Weather: Last week we fared better than many and only received 2.7 inches of rain and a bit of pea-sized hail followed quickly by a low of 39 degrees. Our spring plantings of radishes, arugula and Hakurei turnips are not enjoying the multiple downpours and their harvests are in doubt. Ahead of the frosty forecast we were able with a big help from the membership on Weds and Sat to mulch all of the tomatoes. They seemed to have survived just fine, but some of our peppers got a bit nipped. We think most will recover and we have some replacements for those that don’t. Thanks to the Saturday crew especially who braved a suprisingly bitter wind during harvest and then mulched 800 row feet of tomatoes.

The Fields: Our planting season is winding down with just a bit left until we gear up for the fall crops in June. Until then we are focused on tending to the crops in the field: laying irrigation tape, protecting the crops from pests with row cover, staking, caging and mulching. The greenhouse has morphed into its summer form as an herb-drying house. We turned off the fan and filled it with crates of drying herbs, making it quite the herbal sauna inside.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Week One - In the Share

In the Share: Week 1
LETTUCE (F/P) Two big heads for the partial shares, three for the full shares. **Please wash well – there are aphids
ASPARAGUS (F) The full shares get slightly less than a half-pound this week. Next week it will go to the partial shares. It’ll be in the shares alternating between the two for another few weeks.
LEEKS (F/P) We have enough from our over-wintered patch for this week only
TATSOI (F/P) Bring on the Asian spinach!
GREEN GARLIC (F/P) So young and tender…
SORREL or FLOWERING CHIVES (F): tangy and tasty or pretty and edible
HERB CHOICE (F/P) Mint, lovage or tarragon or a dried herb. Partial shares will have a choice of the flowering chives too.

Also this week: Bread of Life delivery

Welcome all to the sixth CSA season at Fair Share Farm. We are truly looking forward to sharing many a harvest with our community of eaters. We anticipate seeing many familiar faces this year and meeting many new folks as well

Reminders: Since this is the first week of the season, we ask that you take extra care when you pick up your share. If you are a veteran CSA member, give yourself time to get back in the habit of reading all my scribbled labels. The distribution teams will be on hand to walk everybody through the process. We are forever grateful to these folks who take our place at the table so that we can stay on the farm and get done what needs to be done.

Either Tom or I will be at the distribution sites for this week only, just to give you all a big welcome and lend a hand if necessary.

Weather: Last year was one of our toughest due to soggy, cool weather and our region’s heavy soils, but so far this year we have missed the deluge that has hit many of our neighbors. The water has only stood in the fields one day this season. We thank our lucky stars every day that the sun shines upon us.

The Fields: Tom, Kara, Lori and I (rebecca) are keeping on schedule for the most part. The spring crops have been planted as well 1,000 row feet of tomatoes. The potatoes are up and looking good – a happy sight after last year’s sad rotten mush. In many areas we are piling on straw and hay and the plants seem to be responding. To be done this week: plant more leeks, all of the peppers, seed the okra, mulch and trellis the tomatoes. Here's the lovage with a nice layer of mulch around it:

Links: Some of you may already be hooked on Emily Akins’ blog ‘Everything begins with an E’. She and her hubby, Sergio, did some very informative and fun videos last season on freezing greens. This season she plans to blog about cooking up her share from us each week. We've added a link to her on the right-hand side.

Next week: More big spring lettuces, the slow-growing cilantro and dill should be ready, more green garlic or perhaps green onions, the first baby radishes, some arugula perhaps, bok choy. Parker Farms will begin distributing their meat and egg shares.

... and don't forget to scroll down to Tom's posting on how to cook your veggies each week.

Until next harvest, farmer rebecca

Lettuce Begin

Welcome newcomers, and welcome back old hands to the 2009 Fair Share Farm CSA. In this portion of the blog I will attempt to give ideas for how to prepare your share. I will talk about the new and less common share items, suggest recipes, provide techniques, discuss preserving, list bulk items for sale, and print photos to help explain it all.

You are also encouraged to visit our website's recipe page. Each recipe category has numerous examples of dishes made mainly with CSA share ingredients. You can also search the website for a particular vegetable, or check out past newsletters from a similar week . And of course, there is always Google, or your favorite cooking website. So hopefully, as long as we tell you what we are giving you, you can find some good information on it.

For the first week's share, the leeks, green garlic, lettuce, Asian greens, mint, and asparagus are well explained by the above sources. A couple other items are a little less well known. The choice of sorrel for the fulls this week is one. Sorrel is a garden green that comes up early like a hardy plant, but has the tart, citrus taste of something from much further south. It is good several ways; chopped up in salad, on sandwiches, cooked with other greens, or as a wonderful green soup (see May 20, 2008 blog).

Lovage is at it's peak right now. A little bit goes a long way with this celery-like herb. Season your egg salad and potato salad and cole slaw with a tablespoon of chopped lovage for a new taste sensation.

The chive flowers have several uses. You can separate out the flowers from the stems, cooking with the stems and displaying the flowers in a vase. You can also pick the tops apart and use the small purple flowers as a garnish.

We hope we are helpful this year and that you visit and comment on the blog often. Enjoy.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Dark and Stormy Night, Sheep and Vegetables

Thurday night was hauntingly beautiful here. A storm a couple counties northeast of us experienced some rough weather, funnel clouds included. At sunset we could see the storm clouds. At dark, the lightening.

Friday our two sheep arrived, courtesy of our favorite shepherd, Tom Parker. It is an experiment to a) keep Rocky and his instincts occupied, b) see if we can manage vegetables and livestock, c) attempt to reduce our mowing requirements, and d) take advantage of the sheeps' ability to convert grass and weeds to organic fertilizer.

The crops are doing well, though some have been quite stressed by this Spring's rain and cool weather. Rebecca cultivated 12 beds of beets, onions, carrots, spinach and broccoli in about an hours time with the electric G tractor on Thurday night, a task that in the past would have taken several days. The strawberries love the wet weather with many, many blooms right now. The virtually weed free bed is thanks, in most part, to the CSA.

Next blog on Wednesday to go along with the first week's share. Let the season begin!