Tuesday, June 5, 2012

CSA Harvest #1 for 2012

Good day everyone and welcome to the first delivery of 2012! We are excited for another great season. Although it seems like we are just starting we have actually been hard at work on the farm since late January. In late winter there were trees to prune, deer fence to build (finally!), a high tunnel to construct (one more on the way), perennial crops to prune, fertize and mulch. Although we have been busy since late January we are at our busiest now trying to get all of the crops in and keep the weeds from overtaking them at every turn. This year sharing the farm load while raising a baby we have wisened up and enlisted the help of two brothers from the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. Ray and Tino are now an integral part of our farm and business and try their darndest to keep the weeds at bay while Asinete and I have time to plant, plant some more and harvest and attend three markets a week around town. We are fortunate to have the help of many wonderful people. Dave, a retired machinist from the mill who comes nearly every day, all day just to help out (and even brings us homemade cookies too!) M.A our master packer who can organize anything, anywhere. Sally who makes sure your produce arrives clean and presentable and Violet for making it all look wonderful as she packs it in your baskets. No farm is an island and we appreciate all the hands that help to make Big Lick Farm possible. We will be taking pictures and introducing you to the crew of Big Lick as the CSA week's progress. Every season holds what we farmers like to call "aha! and uh oh! moments. So far this season seems a bit slow on the aha's and we've had to deal with the uh oh's! For example last Wednesday we were having nice warm weather. We took that as a sign to plant out our sweet peppers finally. We plant our peppers on black weed fabric for two reasons. First of course it keeps out lots of weeds but also the black color heats up and retains heat better than bare soil and peppers love heat. To make it even warmer for them we cover them with a fabric called reemay or agribon. This also helps to keep the peppers warm while also keeping pests out. We were so excited.. the peppers were in and they had never looked so good! The next day was another warm one. Errands to run in town. By the time we got back and got down to check the peppers nearly half of them were heavily wilted and many of the soft leaves were as dry and crackly as potato chips. We quickly noticed those that had not been covered still looked fine. We immediately removed the cover. The next morning we could see that about half of our sweet peppers had been killed. Luckily we were able to take quick action and replant them (with starts we had to purchase). Still the old adage is true "live and learn". We hope you enjoy this week's harvest. Spring time is when greens reign supreme. If the raw quantity of it is too intimidating it quickly wilts down to manageable portions when sauteed. Enjoy and thank you for choosing to support our small farm! Suzie, Asinete, Tione & The Crew Harvest This Week Includes: Snow OR Snap Peas (snap at top and remove string but enjoy whole & do not shell) Head Lettuce Salad Turnips (nope these are not fancy radishes. They are a facy turnip. So yummy raw or sauteed) Greens are good too! Bok Choy aka Pac Choi (recipe ideas below) Green Garlic (recipe ideas below) Rainbow Chard (recipe ideas below) Seascape Strawberries (much more to come but they do not like rain and need more sun and heat) Please note that our produce is field rinsed only. We recommend that you wash it again before consuming. How to Store it and Cook it! Rainbow Chard keeps best wrapped in a damp towel in crisper drawer of 'fridge. Not only is rainbow cahrd lovely to look at it is also yummy and good for you. Use the leaves as you would spinach although cook it a bit longer. Sauteed Chard To sauté chard, you will need: 2 pounds of chard, cleaned and coarsely chopped; 3 tablespoons of olive oil; 2 cloves of garlic, minced; salt and freshly ground pepper to taste; and fresh lemon juice, if desired. After washing, remove the stems and chop the chard into 1-inch (2.5cm) pieces and set aside. Then, stack the washed leaves and roll them into a long scroll. Using a sharp knife, cut the scroll in quarters. Heat a skillet or heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and chopped stems and sauté for five minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 15 seconds. Next, add the wet chard, one handful at a time, stirring after each addition. After all the leaves have been added, immediately cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid. Allow the leaves to cook for about five minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking over high heat until all the liquid has evaporated, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with a splash of fresh lemon juice, if desired. Serves four. BRAISED RAINBOW CHARD Ingredients: 1 pound rainbow chard, leaves and stems separated 1 cup dry red wine 1 tbsp unsalted butter 1 tbsp vegetable oil 1 medium red onion, diced 1 apple, grated, skin on 1 cup vegetable stock 2 tsp wildflower honey Sea salt and freshly ground pepper Instructions: Wash and cut the chard leaves across the stem into 1-inch ribbons. Trim 1/2 cup of the chard stems into 2-inch-long-by-1/4-inch-thick strips. Heat the butter and vegetable oil in a large sauté pan until the butter foaming subsides. Sauté the red onion and apple, without browning, until translucent. Toss in the chard leaf and stem and sauté for a minute with the apple and onion. Add the wine and vegetable stock all at once, and stir to cook evenly. Cook on high heat until the chard is tender, with the liquid evaporating by about two-thirds. When the chard is tender, remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the wildflower honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, or cool and store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Serves 2 to 4. Bok Choy/Pac Choi~ another super healthy leafy green! Americans are not too familiar with this Asian green but it is so tasty and also extremely good for you. Pac choi is an excellent source of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, calcium and iron. Pak choi is related to the cabbage and belongs to the same vegetable species as the turnip Like the rainbow chard this will keep best wrapped in a damp towel in your crisper drawer. Will store for about 5 days. The whole pac choi plant is edible. To clean, chop off enough of the base of the pac choi plant before washing so that stalks can be cleaned individually. Rinse stalks and leaves under running water, using a vegetable brush if they are especially dirty at the base of the stalk. Pac choi stalks can be consumed raw with dip, or chopped and used in salads. Pac choi has a high water content and becomes limp very quickly upon cooking. It should be cooked very quickly over a high temperature so that the leaves become tender and the stalks stay crisp. In Chinese stir-fried dishes and soups, choi is added toward the end of the cooking process. Since the leaves cook much more quickly than the stalks, it’s a good idea to add the stalks first and then the leaves about a minute later. Cut the stalks into 1/2-inch (1.25cm) pieces before cooking. RECIPE FOR PAC CHOI STIR-FRY (serves 4) 2 bunches pac choi 5 cloves garlic, minced 1 pound COOKED cubed tofu, chicken, beef or pork 1 pinch of salt 1 cup vegetable, chicken or beef stock 1 tbs. cornstarch mixed w/ 1 tbs. water 2 tbs. soy sauce 1 tbs. chili paste 1 tbs. toasted sesame oil 1. Cut pac choi leaves into 3 pieces, cut stems into 2 pieces. Wash well. Mix stock, soy sauce and chili paste. 2. Heat a nonstick skillet, add and heat oil then add garlic and pac choi. Sprinkle with salt and stir-fry over high heat for a few minutes until the greens are wilted. Add the stock, reduce heat to low, then add cooked meat or tofu. Cover and heat until meat or tofu are heated through. 3. Add cornstarch mixture and stir. Cook until thickened. 4. Serve over noodles (try udon or soba noodles) or rice. Pak Choi with sesame oil (Serves 3-4) 1 large pac choi 2 tbsp oil 2 cloves garlic, crushed 3 thin slices of ginger 3 tbsp chicken stock or water 1 tsp sugar 1 tsp soy sauce 1 tsp sesame oil Cut the pak choi into thumb-length pieces. Trim off any roots that hold pieces together, then wash and drain well. Heat a wok or lidded pan over a high heat and add the oil. Stir-fry the garlic and ginger for 30 seconds. Add the pak choi and stir-fry until it begins to wilt, than add the stock or water and sugar, and season with salt or soy sauce. Cover and cook for 2 minutes, or until the stems and leaves are tender but still green. Sprinkle over the sesame oil and serve immediately. Green Garlic The green garlic in your CSA share is just the immature dried garlic you will be getitng later this season. We love to use green garlic like green onions. While the taste is definitely garlic it is much milder in this form then when dry. We chop it up just as you would a green onion, cutting off the roots first and pulling away any of the course top leaves. We cut it all the way up the stalk and add it anywhere we want a garlic flavor. Green Garlic Mayonnaise 2 whole eggs 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon or a little less dijon mustard 4 stalks green garlic, cleaned as you would leeks, white and pale green parts chopped roughly 3 teaspoons lemon juice or rice wine vinegar 2 teaspoons more rice or white wine vinegar 1 1/4 cups corn or other vegetable oil Whirl all ingredients except oil in food processor with the metal blade. With machine running, add oil in thin steady stream through opening until all oil is completely incorporated. If the food pusher has that little hole, use it by pouring the oil into that, it works great. Green Garlic Soup The following soup is based on my ‘make any kind of vegetable soup' recipe, here's it's green garlic and potatoes. - Julia 1 pound green garlic 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter 2 Tablespoons cooking oil 1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes Salt and pepper to taste 1 1/2 quarts broth (chicken or veggie) Discard the darkest green leafy parts of the green garlic, leaving the white and pale and medium green parts. Cut each garlic in half lengthwise, then mince. Melt the butter and oil in a large saucepan over moderate heat. Add the minced garlic and saute for about 5 minutes to soften. Add potatoes, season with salt and pepper, then add chicken broth. Bring to a simmer, cover and adjust heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until potatoes are tender enough to mash with a wooden spoon, about 25-35 minutes. Mash the potatoes into the broth, or puree in a food processor, then reheat. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving. Serves 6 Greens and Green Garlic 1 generous bunch rainbow chard, stemmed and washed 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 medium onion, chopped 4 large cloves green garlic, peeled and sliced, or one small head that has not separated into cloves, chopped Salt to taste 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 3 eggs 1/2 cup 2 percent milk Freshly ground pepper 1 cup cooked barley (regular pearled or purple), brown rice or arborio rice 1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese (2 ounces) 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan 1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 2-quart gratin dish with olive oil. Blanch the chard for one minute in a large pot of generously salted boiling water, or steam over 1 inch of boiling water for two to five minutes until wilted and tender. Rinse with cold water, squeeze out water and chop medium-fine. Set aside. 2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the onion, and cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic and a generous pinch of salt. Continue to cook for another minute or two until the garlic is fragrant. Stir in the cooked greens and the thyme, and toss together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat. 3. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and milk. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Stir in the greens mixture, the barley or rice, and the cheeses. Mix together well. Scrape into the oiled baking dish. 4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until sizzling and lightly browned on the top and sides. Remove from the heat, and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. Yield: Serves four to six. Advance preparation: The gratin will be good for three or four days. It is as good served cold or at room temperature as it is hot. Nutritional information per serving (four servings): 272 calories; 6 grams saturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 8 grams monounsaturated fat; 159 milligrams cholesterol; 19 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams dietary fiber; 282 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 13 grams protein Nutritional information per serving (six servings): 181 calories; 4 grams saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 5 grams monounsaturated fat; 106 milligrams cholesterol; 13 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 188 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 9 grams protein Martha Rose Shulman is the author of "The Very Best of Recipes for Health." Enjoy and we will see you next week!