Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What to Do With Your Share---Week 3

It has been 13 Mays on the farm now, and the third week of the CSA always seems to have a stellar lineup, as the fruits and flowers start to fill the shares. It's the time of year when strawberries, broccoli and fresh garlic hit their peak, and you realize that they all go together well.

Megan and Semra harvesting strawberries
Be sure to save some of your strawberries to make a dressing that will compliment any salad. Mayonnaise based, yogurt based, or just plain balsamic vinaigrette with diced strawberries, the varieties and variations possible show the versatility of the strawberry.

Something new this year is gai lan or Chinese broccoli. Not your average mustard flower, this broccoli variation is tender with no bitterness, but instead a nutty sweetness. We are trialing two different varieties to see how they perform here in NE Clay County.

One thing nice about gai lan is that you eat the whole thing. Just chop it up and add it to anything you like. A stir fry is the normal recipe, but you can also chop it fine and add to eggs. Let us know what you think.

To prepare gai lan, simply chop

In the Share - Week 3

STRAWBERRIES F2/P1  The harvest is in full force right now and the berries as yummy as they are pretty.

LETTUCE F2/P1  Green romaine and butterheads for the full shares, red leaf lettuce for the partials.

TATSOI F/P  Sweet and tender enough to eat raw, but also great stir-fried.

GREEN ONIONS OR GREEN GARLIC F  Last of both for a while. 

HAKUREI TURNIPS F/P  an inch of rain in every bite!!

BROCCOLI F/P  We are proud of our broccoli this week.  It survived another crazy Missouri Spring and is beautiful, tender and delicious!

GAI LAN F  "Chinese broccoli" is our newest favorite crop.  See Tom's blog for methods of preparation.


NEXT WEEK:  More strawberries, lettuces, kale, chard, radishes, bok choy and herbs.  Perhaps the first of the kohlrabi and sugarsnap peas.

Holy deluge, Batman!  Another inch of rain fell last night, making the total in May so far over 12 inches.  The weather folks say that we have a new record for number of rainy days in the month of May.  We would rather if the weather stayed within the data of the last 100 years or so since we started keeping track, but every year there is some new extreme event - latest freeze, driest year, hottest year, wettest Spring, etc. 

The fields are full of running water and mud.  In many places we have grass paths and some mulch down, but harvesting the un-mulched broccoli (that I was so happy about a few weeks back!) was a messy job today.  Tom and I are incredibly happy with how the crops are handling the water so far.  Later on we aren't so sure about the summer crops, but the broccoli, strawberries and lettuces are exceptionally nice right now.  Not many growers in the area go to the trouble with these crops as they can be unpredictable and are labor-intensive.   But when they are at their best, like they are now, the work is so worth it.  We hope that our CSA supporters appreciate the love and attention that goes into the food that we are offering and enjoy the bounty!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

In the Share - Week 2

RADISHES F/P  Red and crisp.  My favorite way to eat radishes is lightly cooked in a stir-fry.

HAKUREI TURNIPS F/P  The "eat 'em like an apple" turnips are especially big and juicy now.

BUTTERHEAD LETTUCE F/P  Lovely and delicious

STRAWBERRIES F/P  We are hoping we can pick enough berries tomorrow AM (rain permitting!) to get all the Wednesday folks a pint or thereabouts.  By Saturday and next week we should have plenty!

FORELLENSCHLUSS ROMAINE F  They are supposed to be charmingly splotchy.

GREEN GARLIC F/P  Use like green onions.  See Tom for some thoughts.

ASIAN GREENS F/P  Bok choy and tat soi

KALE OR CHARD F  See Tom's post for a kale salad recipe.

BROCCOLI & GAI LAN P  Gai lan is broccoli's smaller, but tender cousin.  There is a bit of both in each bunch this week.  We hope to have enough for all by next week. 

HERBS F tarragon, garlic chives or arugula

NEXT WEEK:  More lettuces, greens, turnips, broccoli and strawberries.


The farm received 4 inches of rain Saturday night along with lots of wind and some small hail.  Water from our rolling hills flows into Clear Creek and the Fishing River before making its way to the Missouri.  Both Clear Creek and Fishing River overflowed their banks sending out first reponders in boats to rescue some folks.  Here on higher ground we saw some damage from the hail.  You may notice that the tender greens have been roughed up a bit.  The spinach suffered the worst of it.

It has rained every Saturday morning of the CSA season so far and it looks like this Saturday will be no exception.  We share our muck boots with whoever shows up and we keep busy bringing in the harvest.  Greens coming in from the fields need a good rinse before being packed and its a good job for the whole family.  

tat soi rinse

What to Do With Your Share---Week 2

It's been a verdant spring. Things have really burst on the scene this year. The trick is to keep the same pace as the plants in the field. It's the time of year when we make the really big stir fry.

For us it means to cook for four instead of two. The wok is something to be filled, so we chop up whatever we have available. Bok choi, tat soi, onions, green garlic, broccoli, gai lan; they all go well in a stir fry.

Massaged kale
Another recipe possibility this week is kale salad. Far from tough, the kale in the shares is prime for this tactile recipe. The key to it is de-stemming and chopping the kale, before massaging it with a little salt and olive oil.

The massaging action tenderizes the kale and deepens it's color. Such a simple step to enjoying this hearty and nutritious vegetable. Once you have prepared the kale you can add whatever salad ingredients you enjoy the most or have on hand. We tossed in some craisins, toasted pumpkin seeds, and chopped green garlic, along with the juice of 1/2 a lime.

The high tunnel is ready for a feeding, so we are emptying it out to for mowing, spading and seeding with cover crop. In the photo below Jody and Megan are dismantling a portion of the end walls so that I can drive the tractor inside and prepare the soil.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

In the Share - Week 1

Season starters
BUTTERHEAD LETTUCE F/P  The queens of the Spring are like nothing else.

ASIAN GREENS F/P A combo or a choice of bok choy and tat soi

KALE OR CHARD F/P  Everything leafy is thriving right now

GREEN ONIONS F/P  From our August 2014 planting

SPINACH F/P  Big, beefy leaves from the field

ARUGULA F  tender leaves to spice up your life

HERBS F/P  Cilantro and/or dill

RADISHES F  They are just starting to bulb out.  There will be more for all next week.

NEXT WEEK:  More lettuces, greens, herbs and radishes.  Hakurei turnips and green garlic.

We can't remember the farm looking more lush and vibrant. 

Washing the spinach
We have had the perfect weather for leaf growth and hence you are getting many greens this week.  Swiss chard leaves as big as our heads cannot grow forever.  They must be eaten now or never!  Today we harvested and washed the spinach.

It can't be the case that all is perfect on the farm.  The asparagus crop was a big disappointment this year.  It gave us barely enough to include a few times in the extended season, but now it is done for the year.  We hope that next year will see some improvement.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 1

Hello good members. Welcome to the 2015 CSA. Every year is different, and we are as curious as you as to how the crops will fare. So far, so good. Green is definitely the word at the farm right now.

To start the season, I don't think I could prep you any better than your fellow member Emily Akins. Her Edible Kansas City article, Sharing: How I Found My Way to CSA is full of excellent advice (like a reverse grocery list). It hits on how to get into the rhythm of having a CSA feed you.

This week the rhythm is greens. Fresh or cooked, we feel that they are all at their best this spring. You can make greens a main dish, or work them into just about anything. Tonight's recipe for carbonara with greens is a good example, working vegetables into your diet by adding them to an otherwise vegetable-less dish.

Carbonara with Greens
Ingredients1/2 bunch of greens
2 green onions
1 cup diced bacon, ham or salami
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp salt

1 lb pasta, cooked
3 eggs
1 cup shredded cheese
cracked pepper

Method Trim the stems off the greens. Chop and mix with chopped salami and green onions. Add to pan with heated olive oil and sauté for 3 minutes. Add greens and cook for 2 more minutes. Add half the pasta (save the other half and make this dish again).  Mix the eggs, cheese and cracked pepper in a bowl. Toss with pasta and heat until eggs are set. Serve with garnish of green onion tops and the remaining grated cheese.

Fold greens leaves in half to easily trim stems

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

In the Share - Week 3 Extended Season


ASPARAGUS  Hooray! Fresh spears for all!

SPINACH  The last of the high tunnel crop.

HEAD LETTUCE (2)  We have an assortment to choose from:  butterheads, red leaf and romaines.

FRISSEE ENDIVE  frilly heads to go in a salad or light sautee.

HAKUREI TURNIPS  Not our best crop, but they are still pretty good.

RED RADISHES  Round ladies with a bite.

BRAISING MIX  Time to chop down the kale, chard and Asian greens in the high tunnel.  The result is a yummy bag of greens.

CHIVE FLOWERS  The flowers are the thing to eat, not their woody stalks.  A pretty fresh garnish on every dish.

NEXT WEEK:  We are dependent on the great outdoors again and 77 more members are joining us.  Lettuce, herbs, bok choy, kale and green onions.

It is a beautiful time of year on the farm.  Everything green is responding to the nice temperatures and a good soaking rain last night. 1.6 inches fell which was a nice end to a busy several days of planting and fieldwork. 

rye & vetch cover crop and Swiss chard

This year, unlike years previous, we did not put hay mulch on the Spring cabbages and broccolis.  Instead, I've been able to use our electric tractor to cultivate and, with the help of the farm crew and our hoes, we've been able to take care of the weeds mechanically. 

The latest dry spell made this task possible and we were able to put in 600 cucumber and 200 squash and 550 tomato plants and 800 feet of beans. 
Farm Apprentices, Semra and Megan, plus Rebecca transplanting.

While the humans buzz around the fields, the canine and feline recognize the benefit of resting in the shade. 
Rocky and Momma Kitty being friendly despite the 100+ lb. difference between them.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 3X

The warm weather and recent rain has been good for growing, and the kitchen has gotten busier. So many fresh vegetables in early May is a healthy benefit of being so close to the fields. It also helps being part of a food circle that brings fresh local bread, cheese and eggs through the farm. Tonight's recipe takes advantage of this.

View from the onion patch

Spinach Balls with Endive
These pan fried fritters are similar to Indian pakoras. It is a nice way to use spinach, or any other green or cooked vegetable. I used Companionship bread, Heartland Mill flour, and Skyview goat cheddar cheese. The endive's fresh taste and crispy texture rounds out the recipe.

1/2 lb. fresh spinach
1/2 cup grated cheese
1 small onion, chopped fine
1-1/2 cups bread crumbs
2/3 cup flour
1 tbsp. dried herbs ( oregano, savory, thyme, and/or rosemary)
4 eggs
salt and pepper
chive flowers for garnish


Steam spinach for 3 minutes, let cool, squeeze dry and chop
Combine all ingredients, form into balls
Fry in 1/4 inch oil over medium high heat until golden brown
Plate up with endive and add salad dressing and chive flowers