Tuesday, May 29, 2012

In the Share - Week 4

sugar snap peas

LETTUCE (F2/P1)  The green Romaines have grown big and beautiful this week.  Everyone gets one plus another type for the full shares.  Time for some Caesar salad!

BROCCOLI (F/P) We have big bunches of broccoli this week.  Inspect the heads for any green caterpillars we might have missed by either soaking in salt water or just keeping an eye peeled as you chop them up.

SUGAR SNAP PEAS (F/P)  Enjoy the peas while they last because they won’t last long!  We think we hit a record harvest on Saturday with 140 lbs. of peas picked.

SNOW PEAS (F)  We grow a bigger variety than what you see in the store.  We like them because they get sweeter as the peas fill out the pods.

SCALLIONS (F/P)  Green onions go in every springtime dish and we have started to grow more of these little guys. 

KOHLRABI (F/P)  Like an alien spaceship that has landed on the earth, these bulbs grow right above the ground. See Tom’s post for more on this spring treat.

GREENS CHOICE (F/P) We have an assortment of greens in the field to pick.  We plan to include baby bok choy, kale, and/or tat soi.

HERB CHOICE (F)  Cilantro, dill, parsley or mint

ALSO THIS WEEK:  Parker Farms shares

NEXT WEEK:  More lettuce, peas, broccoli and kohlrabi.  More Hakurei turnips and the first of the summer squash and baby beets.

Our dear friend, Bill McKelvey, made his annual springtime visit to the farm last weekend.  We met Bill while we were selling our produce at what is now the Westport Farmers Market.  Bill is a talented home gardener, a professional working to expand access to fresh produce in underserved communities and a skilled photographer.  His visit coincided with a marathon of pea picking on Saturday morning.  In this post all photos are his.  Here’s just a few of his great shots….

I love the tunnel of peas with high tunnel in background.

Bill caught great portraits of some of my favorite people.

FSF apprentice and newlywed, Dani Hurst and ...

FSF apprentice, Ryan Stubby, and ...

 my favorite farmer, Tom Ruggieri.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 4

Physical exhaustion is the name of the game this time of year, so we are glad that most of the vegetables we grow are edible raw. A simple stringing and a snap pea is an appetizer, a Hakurei turnip is ready to go right out of the bag, and quick washing, tearing and spinning makes a lettuce salad.

Believe it or not, one of the tastiest of raw vegetables is the kohlrabi. We pulled some of this week’s share last week, as they were at prime picking stage, and we didn’t want the hot weather to toughen them up. Some may have a little bit of fiber in the very center, but the ones that we have been noshing on have been crispy and juicy.

One thing that can perplex folks is how to peel a kohlrabi. Well, former FSF apprentice and local urban farmer Julie Coon can show you the proper way. In a new video series she is working on, she and cooking partner Danika Hanson prepare a scrumptious mix of lentils, couscous, Hakurei turnips, kohlrabi and curry.

Go to about the 5:00 mark to see the simplest way to peel a kohlrabi. You cut off the top and bottom, and then set it on the counter and cut down the sides, like you are taking corn off a cob.

So now, what else to do with that wonderful kohlrabi? The simplest thing is to cut it into slices or chunks and smother it with your favorite dressing. A more “complex” approach is to make a refined and tasty salad.

Depending on your tastes, you can make whatever you want. If you like Asian cooking use a dressing like the one in last week’s stir fry salad. If you are a hard core Midwesterner, use ranch dressing. Another style is to copy a jicama salad recipe and substitute the kohlrabi for the jicama. That is what we did last year, so check out that blog or simply search for jicama or kohlrabi salad.

Radish Dip
Last November, member Ann Flynn sent me this recipe for radishes. If you still have some in the fridge (and some dill and green garlic), this is a great way to use them. In Ann’s words “This dip is delish.”

1 cup finely chopped radishes
1 package of cream cheese (8 oz)
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dill weed

Combine all ingredients. Use as a sandwich spread or on crackers or vegetables.

Finally, a shout out to our good friend Bill McKelvey, who took such beautiful photos and portraits during his visit last weekend. Here is Bill in front of the lens, and someone not pictured in Rebecca's post...Rebecca!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

In the Share - Week 3

peas ready for picking

LETTUCE (F2/P1) This week we are picking some lovely romaine lettuces along with more beautiful butterheads, from the French this time, Pirat.

STRAWBERRIES (F/P) The berries are a lot smaller and less plentiful this week so everyone is getting pints instead of quarts.

GARLIC SCAPES (F/P) If you are new to garlic scapes, they are the most tender part of the garlic plant. Chop up and add to any dish, cooked or raw, for a delicate garlic flavor.

NAPA CABBAGE (F) The farm crew was super excited to harvest this big babies today as we haven’t had much luck with the Napa cabbage (alias Chinese cabbage) for a few years. Read Tom’s post for a killer salad that uses almost everything from your share this week.

PEAS (F/P) Tomorrow morning we will pick the patch for the first time. Looks like there’s a lot of peas out there, both sugarsnap and snow varieties.

BROCCOLI (F) The broccoli is small this spring due to the hot, dry weather but we have enough that we should have some for a few weeks. Partial shares get broccoli next week. 

HAKUREI TURNIPS (F/P) More juicy turnip goodness this week.

HERB CHOICE (F/P) Cilantro, dill or radishes (radishes really aren’t an herb but they do add spice!)

NEXT WEEK:  More lettuce, peas, turnips and radishes.  Onions, kohlrabi and broccoli.


Oh my, it is dry. We haven’t had rain since the beginning of the month when we had the hail storm. Since then unseasonably hot, dry weather has wicked away the moisture. The farm’s soil is dusty and cracked, a typical sight in July, not May. We spend whatever time we can spare putting out irrigation lines on crops that we hardly ever irrigate. Usually the spring rains give the onions, potatoes, peas and lettuces all the drink they need. Not this year. So, out we walk our miles of drip line. Luckily the pond is full and the sun shines powering our pump for free. The problem is that all this extra time spent on irrigation is less time spent on other tasks. So far we seem to be not too far off schedule, but the list is long of crops to still be planted, weeded, mulched, etc.

onion weeding mob
On Saturday morning after the harvest was complete we found ourselves with an extra hour with the membership. Not to let an opportunity like that to pass us by we gathered at the onion patch and proceeded to pull weeds. Thanks to the nimble fingers of many the onions are in tip-top shape. After filling vehicles with produce destined for the Liberty distribution and wishing everyone a fond farewell, Tom, Ryan and I managed to get the first line of trellising on all of the tomatoes. Just in the nick of time too what with the strong winds threatening to topple the quick-growing plants. Afterwards, we cleaned ourselves up as best we could and headed to Lawrence, KS, where we attended the wedding of farm apprentice, Dani Hurst and her groom, Derek Brown. It was a heartfelt ceremony with beautiful weather, good food and lots of DIY decorations gleaned from the farm. We were honored to be invited to share in their happy day and wish them all the best in their future together.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 3

This “Sprummer” weather has really been something so far. We have learned over the  past 10 years that all you can do is go with the flow, and adjust your growing practices to fit the situation. In our case that has meant harvesting up to a month earlier than in the past and irrigating starting n April. A few more than anecdotal examples of this seasonal shift are in our past blogs and harvest records.

This year the strawberry harvest is already winding down. In 2010 we spotted the first ripe berry in mid-May and didn’t pick a full quart until tomorrow, the 23rd  of May. Other years showed a similar timeframe, with the first harvest somewhere at the end of May.

Likewise, the sugar snap peas are in full flush at the moment. In other years, it would be at least two weeks before we would start picking them. Best case with all of this, you eat better earlier in the year. Worst case, we’ve screwed up the balance of atmospheric gases with pollution, and we won’t be able to count on a “regular” season of weather too often.

Napa cabbage
The Share
Opportunities abound for delicious meals with this week’s vegetables, and any that you have left from last week. Remember, that for most all of the greens that we give you the best place for them is in a bag in your vegetable crisper. They will last over a week in such storage conditions. Vegetables will dry out in a fridge if not in a bag, so be sure to keep them happy.

First, a couple links to recipes. If you look to the right, you will see a link to member Emily Akins' blog Everything Begins With an E. Her post of May 15th is for braised lettuce with peas..just the thing for your share. If lettuce has accumulated, here is a good chance to eat some in a new way.

Re: the peas, you can “string” the sugar snap or snow peas and cut them into small pieces as a substitute for individual peas. Remember, with both types of peas we give you the pods are edible, but it helps to snap off the top and pull off the string (see photo). Try the recipe on that link too.

The turnips will be in the shares for a while, so keep our curried Hakurei turnip recipe in mind.

Raw Stir Fry SaladOur suggested recipe for this is an Asian vegetable salad/slaw, or as Rebecca noted, it is a "raw stir fry." It started as we pulled a Chinese cabbage last week to check them out. I wanted to make a slaw, but felt that was a little too normal and finely chopped. So I cut up the more solid ingredients (turnip, radish, cabbage stem) into chunks while chopping up the greens. Tossed with an Asian sauce it really is the same ingredients as a stir fry, but raw.

Ingredients:Any that your want from your share. It is a good use for the Chinese cabbage. Also good in it would be radish, turnips, turnip greens, peas, broccoli, onion. Cut greens fine and other parts chunky for a good mix of textures.

Dressing:For a slaw-like taste I go for a dressing that is about half oil and half sharp tasting liquid (ie, rice wine vinegar, lemon juice, fish sauce). You can try the following and adjust to your taste:
5 tbsp sesame oil, 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp chopped ginger.

Prepare vegetables and mix well in a large serving bowl. Toss with dressing. Serve as is or over warm or cold rice. Garnish with cilantro and crushed peanuts.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

In the Share - Week 2

LETTUCE (F/P) These lettuces are too beautiful and scrumptious to waste. Lettuce prefers to be in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer. That goes as well for almost any leaf vegetable you will be receiving from us. 2 big heads for the full shares, 1 for the partial shares.

STRAWBERRIES (F/P) More luscious ladies from the patch. Thanks to all of you who have been ordering bulk! We really appreciate the sales and it means we don’t have to schlep our products to market to try and sell the excess. So far you all have ordered 100 quarts. Way to go CSA! 

RED RUSSIAN KALE (F/P) The kale has grown by leaps and bounds thanks to the crazy weather we’ve had. If you haven’t yet discovered the beauty of kale chips now is your chance.

ASIAN GREENS (F) The perfect ingredient in your spring stir fry. This week we have Tat soi or Yokatta Na. Partial shares get a choice of Asian greens or kale.

PINK BEAUTY RADISHES (F) the hail from last week did a number on the greens, but the roots are still plenty pretty.

GREEN GARLIC (F/P) These are young garlic plants that you can eat like a green onion. Search the blog for past recipes or just use like you use garlic.

HAKUREI TURNIPS (F/P) If you are new to the Hakureis, you are in for a surprise. They are not your grandmother’s turnips – oh so sweet and juicy you can eat them like an apple.

ASPARAGUS (P) The last of the spears until next spring. 

HERB CHOICE (F) Cilantro, dill or oregano.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Parker Farms CSA shares

NEXT WEEK: More lettuce, turnips, greens and strawberries. Peas and green onions.

The month of May is in full expression on the farm right now. Peas, potatoes and broccoli paint the fields in hues of green. Sugarsnap and snow peas ornament the rows with their delicate white flowers. Meanwhile tomatoes, summer squash and cucumbers have adjusted to their new homes and are beginning their exuberant growth. The farm crew rushes through the days harvesting strawberries every morning and then tending to the plants in the fields even as we add to their ranks. It takes a bit of choreography to keep all of the crops planted, watered, weeded, trellised, hilled, irrigated and mulched.

Sometimes we lose one. As we realized this week when we uncovered the arugula. Seems that a pesky moth larvae, most likely a cankerworm, insinuated itself under the row cover and flourished. So, our apologies but there will be no arugula until fall. The other planting bolted in the unseasonably warm weather.

It is hard to say what the weather will do next week, much less next month. Tom and I rest easier knowing that this year we started a week early. That means we have some flexibility in the season. If we have a good harvest all season long the 24 weeks of the CSA season will end a week earlier than planned. But if sometime during the season the crops are meager we can figure on this early week as its substitute.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 2

The fields continue to produce in a grand fashion this week. The name of the game for week 2 is greens and roots, with some juicy red fruit thrown in. Time to settle into an eating cycle full of these early, cool season crops. Keep your wok and salad spinner handy.

We have several types of greens this week: lettuce, kale, Asian greens, and turnip tops. The leaf and head lettuce is at its tender best, making this a great time to make a "big salad." Get your biggest salad bowl, clean and spin a whole head of lettuce, and top with some onions, turnips, radishes, green garlic, nuts, seeds, cheese, etc. The real homemade local touch is to then make your own salad dressing. We recommend our Garlic Scape and Strawberry Dressing. Simply substitute green garlic for the scapes.

Wednesday harvest

The Asian greens this week are also good fresh in a salad, the tat soi and yukina savoy have the deep color and body of spinach. You can use these greens to make a fresh and delicious stir-fry too. Or go one better and make a savory stir fry soup. Serve it over rice noodles and you will think you are at a Vietnamese restaurant. Either way, consider stocking up on your Asian cooking supplies to get the best out of the next few week's offerings.

We suggest that you keep at lease some of the following ingredients on hand to compliment the vegetables in your share.

Fresh ginger
Rice and/or rice noodles
Sesame oil
Soy or tamari sauce
Hot sauce
Fish or shrimp sauce
Oyster/hosien or other prepared sauce
Peanut butter
Corn starch

With them you can make your own stir fry sauces. A peanut sauce recipe is in our August 23, 2011 blog. You can also buy prepared sauces. Just check the ingredients on the label.

The herb choice this week is full of fresh, Spring flavor. Cilantro, also known as Chinese parsley, is an excellent garnish for your stir fry (a little lime juice is nice too). Dill goes well in salads, homemade salad dressing, and is great with potatoes. The oregano is a savory herb that compliments most cooked meats and vegetables. When dried it is the seasoning that gives pizza sauce its traditional flavor.

Pickin' berries with the members

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Every once in a while we buy produce from the grocery store to do a comparison. We like to check out the competition. We are also simply curious as to the overall quality of what is available in the produce section.
Our current evaluation was with strawberries. I bought a pound of what appears to be a modern standard for commercial strawberries. We looked at many factors and below is a little tally. Mind you we attempted to be objective.

Conventional (minus 2) on left, FSF/Local on right

Conventional:  All different shades of red, white and green, some unripe fruit
Fair Share Farm: All red or deep orange fruit.

Size of berry
Conventional: All were palm-sized, 13 berries per 1 lb package
Fair Share Farm: From small to thumb-sized, 43 berries per 1lb+ package

Conventional: Hollow with white flesh
Fair Share Farm: Red throughout

Conventional: One berry half covered in mold, bruising on most.
Fair Share Farm: All berries in good to excellent condition. No significant bruising.

Conventional: Depended, berries were crunchy as if not ripe. Ripest part had good flavor, sweet and tart.
Fair Share Farm: Juicy and tart with some sweetness.

Conventional on top, FSF/Local on bottom

There is more to the story too. We use what are called biological (organic) methods to grow the crops. Strawberries are fed organic fertilizer and mulched with straw. We work to promote soil life to help keep the plants alive. The plants are treated as perennials, so we keep them from year to year, reducing tillage.

Conventional berries are grown on plastic mulch. The soil is fumigated and sterilized with methyl bromide, an ozone depleting chemical that is still allowed for agricultural use. Synthetic fertilizer is fed to the plants for immediate uptake, kind of like an IV.

I am amazed by the size of the conventional berries. It is almost scary...actually it is scary. And, this being America, you can mark my words that in another 5 years they will be even bigger. If spam doesn't make you feel inadequate, this sure tries.

Several years ago I emailed one of the commercial strawberry producers to ask them what their growing practices were. I got back a letter where pretty much the only thing they said was they were in compliance with the law with everything they do.

A main point these companies make, however, is that people need fresh fruit for a healthy diet and that is what they are providing. I do agree that there is a need for fresh fruit in everyone'd diet. The rest is a complex issue.

We would love to hear your strawberry experiences and how they relate to our comparison.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

In the Share - Week 1

LETTUCE (F/P) Big, beautiful heads, or at least they were before the hail on Sunday. We still think they are fabulously tasty, raggedy leaves and all. Full shares get a Regina di Maggio ('May Queeen') butterhead and a leafy New Red Fire. Partial shares get a choice of one.

ASPARAGUS (F) The early spring brought the asparagus on in March this year, so it will soon be left to fern out for the season. Partials will get their share next week.

STRAWBERRIES (F/P) Our “June bearers” are bearing in May instead this year. Lucky for us we were able to protect the blossoms and ridiculously early fruit from the spring frosts with a layer of row cover on at night, off during the day to allow for pollination of the fruit.

LEEKS (F/P) At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the leeks were extra early as well. These are the leeks we over-wintered from last fall. You have to pull them before they begin to develop a flower stalk. We harvested them over a week ago and kept them cold in the walk-in cooler to keep them fresh.

BOK CHOY (F/P) Tom and I are living on stir fry right now and bok choy is our favorite go-to ingredient. If you have yet to embrace the choy, check out Tom’s link in his post for a how-to for this most delectable dish.

SPRING ONIONS (F/P) Usually the first onions of the season are dainty ones, not these big boys. 

CHERRY BELLE RADISHES (F) Bright red and juicy radishes add that necessary zing to every dish or cook them briefly to reduce their heat.

HERB CHOICE (F/P) Cilantro, dill or mint. Partial shares get a choice of radishes or herbs.

NEXT WEEK: More lettuce, radishes, herbs, onions and strawberries. Kale, Hakurei turnips and arugula.

Rebecca here. I write the weekly post on what is in your share and the farm report. Make sure to read the post below mine for Tom’s take on how to use your share this week. He likes to focus on the more unusual items in the share and he also loves to talk about food preservation. The farm has been a flurry of excitement this week with the CSA season beginning. With the warm spring the crops are way ahead of schedule. Never have things looked so good so early …

… and then the hail storm came on Sunday. Luckily, the pebbles were pea-size but they can still rocket right through delicate lettuce leaves. And they did. This, my friends, is the life of a farmer. We fall in love with our butterheads and then they break our hearts.

And so this is my welcome to you all to the CSA season. You have chosen to join with us in the roller coaster ride that is farming and we thank you for that. We promise to do everything we can to protect our food supply from the vagaries of nature, but we also promise that there will be highs and there will be lows this season. We will have bumper crops as well as crop losses. There will be hail, but there will also be strawberries.

Week 1: What to Do With Your Share

Welcome to the 2012 Fair Share Farm CSA. In this section of the blog we will give you recipe ideas and other suggestions for enjoying your share to the fullest. This weekly blog will serve as a jumping off point for you to explore your possiblities. The recipes we post are all tested, and often created, right here in our kitchen. We suggeest the following supplemental sources of information each week:
Fair Share Farm Recipe Page---This website page is a compilation of some of the recipes we have recommended in the past. It was compiled several years ago, so it does not include all of our recipes. You can use the search bar or menu to find what you are looking for.

2004-2006 Fair Share Farm Newsletters---Prior to the blog we posted newsletters every week. An archive of them is on our website. You can look at newsletters from weeks with the same date as the week of your share for some probable cooking options.

This blog---As with the newsletters, you can search out what we were doing in previous years to find recipes appropriate for that week's share. Also, you can use the search bar in the upper righthand corner to look for things.

Use the Google and the internets---The early days of CSA's consisted of mimeographed newsletters. Today, if you have internet access, the possibilities are endless. Find something tasty? Link it in our comment section or post it on our facebook page. We would like everyone to signup.

So...on with the show. We have a great first share this year. So nice that the encores could be difficult, but that is our job after all. Just no more hail storms please.

Before our feature recipe of the week, here are a few past ones that are known favorites. New to leeks? Try an Asparagus and Leek Fritatta, or if you don't get your asparagus until next week, try Mashed Potatoes with Leeks and Garlic.

The bok choi is perfect right now, so get the wok out and have a stir fry. Hope we don't have to tell you what to do with the strawberries, but a nice option is presented below.

Butterhead Lettuce Wedge Salad with Strawberries and 1,000 Island Dressing
Rebecca and I saw a recipe similar to this on a cooking show this winter, and it stayed with us. The butterhead lettuce in your share is an Italian seed variety know as Regina di Maggio. They are the light green lettuces with the head in the center. The tender leaves combined with the thick dressing are a nice textural combination. Needing a knife to eat it makes it feel so civilized, like you are living at Downton Abbey.

1 butterhead lettuce
Spring onion

Combine in a bowl and blend 4 tbsp mayonnaise, 2 tbsp chili sauce or catsup, 2 tbsp chopped pepperoncinis or relish, 2 tbsp EV olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Peel the loose outer leaves away from the lettuce head and save them for salad or other use. With the root end still on, cut the lettuce head into sections (top to bottom). Keeping the root on allows you to wash and drain it without it falling apart.

To serve, cut off root and set wedges in individual bowls, cut side up. Top with chopped onions, radishes and strawberries. Top with dressing.