CSA 2011 – Week 6: Water, Water Everywhere…

In the Willamette Valley, most of the time we are spoiled with beautiful, warm, and dry summers. That is really most of the allure of living here. The summers are phenomenal; they warm your soul up enough to last the six rainy months of the year. This past weekend was not the summer that I know. It is interesting to think about how the rain really affects all of the vegetables in the fields. It doesn’t affect them all in a negative way, as it does my personal vitamin D level.

One vegetable that is affected in a negative way is garlic. Our garlic that is trying to dry has a hard time drying in rain, even if it’s covered or under a tarp. The moisture in the air and ground can easily seep its way into that freshly harvested garlic. Luckily the crew is on top of making sure the garlic is covered before rains, but like I said that doesn’t always keep it dry. The tomatoes are not so fond of downpours either. Of course they need water to grow well, but when it pours and then warms up that causes the skins of tomatoes to split. This type of occurrence has the same effect on cherries as well. Some crops thrive in cool rain, for example potatoes and most brassicas (such as kale and cabbage). Lucky for us we grow such a variety of crops that when one crop has a difficult season, there is another crop booming. I guess this goes along with the saying,…

…‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket.’

*CSA Tour and Tasting: Sunday August 28th 2-5pm *
Join us for a farm tour, melon and tomato tasting!

What’s in the Box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (Nicola and fingerling) – These are best steamed, fried, or boiled.
Purple Carrots, bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw or stir fried.
1 bunch baby Walla Walla onions – chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. The top green part goes well with eggs, cheese, stir fries, or pasta.
1 red cabbage – make slaw, braise it, or use it in a stir fry
2 Leeks – They go great with eggs in a scramble, omelet, in soup, or stir fried.
1 pint sugar snap peas – Eat them raw or do a quick sauté with olive oil and salt.
Summer squash (1lb) – Try them sautéed, grilled, grated raw, soup or stir fried.
Red or Green Leaf lettuce – Make a salad, or add to sandwiches.
2 cucumbers – Eat raw, on salad, or marinate them.
1 bunch dill – Yummy addition to potato salad, cucumber salad, or slaw!
1 Siletz tomato – Chop raw on salad, eat plain like an apple!
1 pint of cherries – picked from the trees down the road at Fritz and Beverley Lonsway’s house.

Recipes:

Stir-fried Sugar Snap Peas

1 pint sugar snap peas, ends and strings removed
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch baby Walla Walla onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Stir fry onions and peas in olive oil for about 3 minutes. Add sesame seeds and cook another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the toasted sesame oil. Season to taste.

Vegetable Leek Medley

2 medium leeks
2 summer squash
2 carrots
4 Tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut top and root end off the leeks and set aside. Cut the leeks in half length wise and chop into 1/4 inch size slices. Rinse the chopped leeks and set aside. Finely chop carrots and zucchini. Sauté carrots and leeks in butter. When they are almost cooked all the way through (5-10 minutes) add the zucchini and cook for another 2 minutes. Season to taste.

Zucchini Cakes

4 cups grated zucchini
1 Tablespoon salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups bread crumbs
Sea salt and pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Mix zucchini with salt and let stand 1/2 hour. Rinse well with water and squeeze dry in a tea towel. Mix with eggs, onion, bread crumbs, cheese, and cayenne pepper and season to taste. Form into cakes and sauté a few at a time in butter and olive oil.
Variations: You could add chopped or roasted garlic, sautéed leeks, shredded carrots, chopped onion tops, or even dill to this recipe!

CSA 2011 – Week 4: More than Just Farming

When you think about farms and farming, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For me six years ago, it was fields of plenty, chickens, cows – you know the picturesque version of Old McDonald. Since I began working on farms four years ago, my vision is a little different. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it; I love getting up at the crack of dawn to go pick lettuce, or getting to feel the warmth of the morning sun while washing potatoes. However, farmers, small and large, have to deal with regulations, certifications and logistics constantly, probably just as much as any other business if not more.

One of these logistics is our basic organic certification. Oregon Tilth visits us every year in order for us to hold our organic standing. We have to list everything we grow and everything we use in growing our vegetables. We are also in the process of being certified by the AJP (Agricultural Justice Project). AJP is mostly all about treating employees fairly, similar to a fair trade certification. We completed the process for AJP, and we expect to be certified soon. OGC (Organically Grown Company) is going to be requiring all of their produce providers to have the AJP certification by 2012. This is a must for us, since we sell them quite a bit of overflow produce throughout the year. The ODA (Oregon Department of Agriculture) also pays us a visit just about every year, but mainly to inspect our on-site kitchen.

Last week, we had a surprise visit from an OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) inspector. OSHA mainly ensures worker safety, and this inspection went pretty well, but it reminded us that being safe in a work place, especially a place with a lot of equipment, is key. This is just one of many hurdles that any organic farm that wants to function as a business must deal with. On top of worrying about seeding, transplanting, prepping ground, composting, harvesting , weeding, washing, and conducting all eight weekly markets, we have these certifications and inspections annually.

Overall, these certifications are positive because they are made to ensure proper treating of the land and workers, a type of check and balance. However, it makes one realize that in order to make a business out of farming, there are a lot of little details to work out and make note of. At the end of the day, it all seems worth it when you get to settle into a lovely bowl of salad greens, cucumber salad and grilled zucchinis. I will be dreaming of August heat and melons and forget all about the acronyms until they come knocking next year.

Lisa Hargest
CSA coordinator

What’s in the Box?

1.5 lb Colorado Rose Potatoes – These are best steamed or fried
Carrots, bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw or even stir fried.
1 bunch Baby Onions – Chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. The top green part goes well with eggs, cheese, stir fries or pasta.
1 Cabbage – Make slaw! I like my slaw with a oil and vinegar dressing
1 pint Snow Peas – Eat them raw or do a quick sauté with butter or olive oil and salt.
1 bunch of Basil – Make pesto, add to pasta dishes, salads, or even sandwiches. See recipe.
Assorted Summer Squash (1lb) – Try them sautéed, grilled, grated raw, soup or stir fried.
Romaine Lettuce – Great for salads or on sandwiches, Romaine is the traditional Caesar salad lettuce. See recipe.

 

Recipes:

  • Basic Basil Pesto
    1 bunch of basil, leaves removed
    3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
    2 Tablespoons chopped nuts (almonds or pine nuts work best)
    2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
    Juice of 1 lemon
    Pinch of salt
  • Combine olive oil and garlic in a blender or food processor, blend for 1 minute, or until garlic is fine.
  • Add basil leaves and nuts, pulse until the basil is as fine as you would like it. Add lemon juice and cheese and pulse a but more.
  • Salt to taste.

You can do this by hand if you don’t have a blender or food processor, by hand chopping everything and mixing. Note, you don’t have to use the lemon juice if you don’t wish to, but it does keep the pesto from turning brown on top.
Use Basil Pesto as a topping for roasted or steamed potatoes, or a dip for carrots, cucumbers or peas.

  • Dan the Man’s cucumber salad
    3 thinly sliced cucumbers
    1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
    2 Tablespoons sesame oil
    2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 teaspoon maple syrup/ or honey
    Pinch of salt
  • Combine all the ingredients and let marinate for 30 minutes before eating.

    Variations:
    Add chopped baby onions or onion tops.
    Add snow peas, chopped cabbage or shredded carrots to make a more slaw-like dish.

Caesar Salad Dressing:
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, chopped
Pinch of black pepper to taste

Use this dressing on Chopped Romaine lettuce for a lovely Caesar salad. Add parmesan cheese or home-made croutons out of leftover bread on top.

Grilled Caesar Variation:  Try cutting the head of romaine into quarters and brushing with olive oil and grill about 1-2 minutes on either side. Take off the grill, chop or keep whole and dress the salad, serve warm right away.

CSA 2011 – Week 3: Scrounging for Strawberries

It was about 5:30 yesterday, and it had been raining for a half an hour. I had just finished up taking the compost out with Robyn, our compost queen. So I headed up to the office to hopefully tie up some loose ends. Then Sally came into the office and seemed in a hurry. She was talking strawberries with Rodrigo on the phone. She hung up and asked me if I’d be interested in picking strawberries with the crew. Of course I wanted to go pick strawberries!

Knowing I had a couple more hours of work waiting for me in the office I joined the crew to Fairfield farm U-pick strawberries so that you may all get some fresh fruit this week! We had to hurry for fear of the rain clouds rolling in and watering down your delicious fruit. We got all 14 flats picked in about an hour and luckily we were barely rained on. We ideally wanted to provide you with our crop of seascape strawberries. They were planted late, although they are an ever-bearing crop, so we are still hopeful for a good late strawberry crop.

Of Favas and Fennel

Featured in this week’s box are two of my personal favorite spring vegetables: Fava Beans and Fennel! These two are not as straight forward as other vegetables.

Fava beans:

First you peel the outer layer of the bean to remove the inner beans. The outer shell will open up by simply popping it with your hands or you can cut it with a knife along the side. The outer shell can then be set aside for compost.

Now that you have all the inner beans, you can blanch them in salted boiling water. Drop the beans into the water for about 2-3 minutes and then pull them out and submerge them into ice water. Now you need to peel them again. Once they are blanched, the outside white layer of the bean should come off with ease. Compost the white outer layer and save the bright green inner bean! These beans can be used in stir fries, on salads, with soup, or just sautéed in some olive oil with a little salt and garlic.

Chef JC makes a wonderful spread using mashed up fava beans, chopped garlic, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. This spread goes great on bread, fish, or meat. It could also be used as a lovely dip!

Fennel:

Fennel is a wonderful vegetable with a mild anise flavor. The bulb is usually the most sought after part of the vegetable. To use the bulb, cut off the bottom 1/2 inch or so, and cut the top stalks and fronds as well. Then you can cut the bulb in half and proceed to chop it as you would an onion. Fennel can be sautéed in olive oil or butter with  salt and garlic. It makes a great addition to a simple soup or stir fry. Another tasty way to eat it is sliced thin and then dressed with a vinaigrette such as the lemon vinaigrette (featured in our Week 1 Newsletter). If you want to try using the stalk and fronds, the stalk can go in a stock of some sort. Also, the fronds make a great addition to a salad or even potato salad. For those out there with juicers, try juicing the fennel stalk. Carrot/ Fennel juice is quite lovely, but I would do a 2:1 ratio of carrot to fennel since the fennel can be a bit strong.

What’s in the Box?

  • 1.5 lb Colorado Rose Potatoes ($4.50) – These are best steamed or fried.
  • Chard ($2.50) – You can steam or sauté it, or use it in place of spinach.
  • Carrots, bunched ($3.00) – They are great raw, on salad, slaw, or even stir-fried.
  • Fennel ($2.50) – See recipe below, and instructions above.
  • Fava Beans (1lb) ($2.50) – See instructions above.
  • 1 Onion ($1.50) – Sauté, or use in soup. Rhese are also great just raw on salad or a sandwich.
  • 2-3 Summer squash (1lb) ($2.00) – Try them sautéed, grated raw, in soup, or stir-fried.
  • Garlic Tops ($2.50 ) – These are a great addition to any meal. Stir-fry, sauté with chard, or even eggs for breakfast. They have a mild garlic flavor. (see recipe)
  • Red or Green Leaf Lettuce ($2.00) – Great on salads or in sandwiches.
  • 1 pint of Strawberries ($3.50) – Eat them just as they are!
  • 2 cucumbers ($3.00) – Eat raw on salad, or marinate.

 If you were shopping at the market, the total cost of this box would be:  $29.50

 

Recipes:

Garlic Scape Pesto

1 bunch of garlic scapes
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon (juiced)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated small
Pinch of salt to taste

  • Chop the garlic scapes in small pieces, compost the very top flower part.
  • Combine the chopped scapes, olive oil, and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. (If you don’t have either you can finely chop the scapes and mix the whole thing by hand).
  • Add in the grated cheese and pulse a bit until the mixture is the consistency you would like.
  • Taste and add salt if it needs any. You’re good to go!

*This Pesto makes a great dip for those cucumbers, carrots and zucchinis!*

Raw Fennel Salad:

1 fennel bulb
1/2 onion
1 chopped cucumber

  • Thinly slice the fennel bulb.
  • Chop the onion fine.
  • Slice the cucumber into thin pieces.

Orange Dressing:

3 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange rind
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon flax seed oil or sesame oil (optional)

  • Combine all ingredients into a bowl and whisk vigorously. Add salt to taste.
  • Dress the Fennel, onion and cucumber with the dressing and serve.

Hint: if you let the salad marinate for 1 hour before eating, the veggies will have more flavor. Add toasted sesame seeds to mix it up a bit. Or grate some carrots on top to garnish!

The Farmer
By: Wendell Berry

I am going to seed

into the beloved body

Remembering the fields,

I have come through

the dead and the dark,

the winter, the eye

of time, as through

a gap in the hills,

into the new land.

 

CSA 2010 – Week 6: Tomato Rising

The plants will be more than double overhead by this time next week, and it will require someone taller than our compact innovator Rodrigo Garcia to continue the highly laborious process of pruning and training the tomatoes as they continue on their upward journey. The knowledge and labor that holds these plants up isn’t outwardly apparent, but what is obvious is the feeling that you get when you first walk into one of our tomato houses. The space here is being completely utilized, heat radiates between the rows of tomatoes that stretch from wall to wall, and from floor to ceiling of the hoop house. If you’ve ever seen a tomato plant before then, your second thought is that these burly plants do not look the same as your run of the mill backyard tomatoes, and they’re not. Oh no, these are super tomatoes. Before working with them, I’d never given much consideration to the fact that there is more than one way to grow an organic tomato. Isn’t it all just cultivate soil, transplant, stake, prune, and harvest? Wrong again. It turns out that in order to grow super tomatoes, you have to provide some super attention.

Back in early January, seeds went in for heirloom varieties with names like Pink Beauties, Black Cherokee, Brandywine, and Japanese Black Trifle. Heirloom seeds mean that they come from open pollinated varieties,  and that the seeds are saved for generations because the fruit had traits that the grower deemed valuable. Unfortunately many of the heirloom plants themselves are fragile, and vulnerable to diseases, meaning that often they under produce or die off before they have a chance. To combat this, in the last few years, Jolene, Paula, and Sara  (our dedicated greenhouse women) have taken on the challenge of grafting tomato plants. That means taking the bottom half (the rootstalk) of a hearty strong tomato, and more or less fusing it with the top cutting of an heirloom plant. After considerable healing, and seriously special care, by  early April the new bionic version is ready to move outside.  These ultra- exotic varieties are even more beautiful than their names, but for now most of our heirlooms are still hanging green on their sinuous skyward twisting vines. So why exactly is there a gain in all this work, why train tomatoes how to climb, and just how do you do it?

Last Thursday I worked with Rodrigo and some of the crew in one of our tomato houses doing some hands on learning about the process that will produce some of the most plentiful and best tomatoes that we’ve ever grown at the farm. By the time that they reach the tomato houses these plants have already been seeded, weeded, watered, grafted, and transplanted with the utmost care. Over the last 10 years we’ve been moving away from growing our tomatoes in the  conventional manner, but during the 17 years that he has worked on the farm Rodrigo has amassed considerable knowledge regarding how to maximize tomato production. As we made our way down the first row he took great care to show me the difference between the thick main tomato stalk (which is what we train to grow ever higher), and so called “sucker” offshoots that grow out of the joints in the plant. These suckers are aptly named; every bit of new plant growth takes energy, and these suckers will just continue to draw fuel until they grow to be just as large as the main stalk. The problem is not that they grow and grow, but that they don’t produce much fruit, and in the process they take massive amounts of energy away from more productive growth such as fruit ripening.  You also have your fruit producing branches, which will unfurl and open into blossoms, and if all goes well mature into fully grown tomatoes. And finally there are leaf branches, which are just what they sound like, these are necessary to shade and protect the tomatoes as they ripen.

Once you get the hang of identifying the difference between all the different types of branches, it’s still an enormous amount of work to keep these plants pruned. Once the weather gets warm, and they really start to grow, it is necessary to go through and cut back the suckers on each plant once a week, every week for a span of about four months. Not only do they need constant pruning as they flourish, but it is also necessary to routinely wrap a guide rope that hangs from the ceiling around the main stem to help it grow straight and tall. If you’re like me, you may be beginning to wonder how all this work can be possibly be worth it… Luckily it is also the part that Rodrigo is rightfully the most proud of; Where one plant grown under different circumstances would produce about 20 pounds of fruit. One of Rodrigo’s specially grown tomatoes plants yields closer to 100 pounds of fruit per plant. I imagined how many acres we would have to plant with tomatoes to get the same yield if we didn’t grow them like we do…..and then I realized once again, that thankfully there is always more than one way of making something work.

Devon Sanders, CSA Coordinator

What’s in the box?

  • Siletz Tomato – Your first of the season,  and the inspiration for this weeks newsletter, woo-hoo!
  • 1.5 lbs Yellow Potatos
  • 2 Cucumber – see recipe
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce – Red leaf
  • 2 lbs Fava beans – did you eat your first ones? A reprint on how to cook these is included.
  • Baby Onions – great for grilling, or shish kabobs
  • Broccoli
  • 2 Zucchini
  • Summer Squash – you should have one of either the cocozella (a long striped green variety), magda (pale green, and eggplant shaped), yellow crook neck, yellow patty pan (resembles a space ship), or zapallito (a round green variety)
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Garlic
  • Fennel – slice thinly and enjoy raw,  add to soups, or  bake whole in the oven. The greens can be eaten also, they make a great flavor or color addition to pastas, salads, potatoes or eggs

Tzatziki Sauce

This tzatziki sauce is an easy take on the classic Greek sauce, you can use real Greek yogurt if you like, but I always just make it with the ever present Nancy’s plain yogurt that I have in my fridge. This sauce is great pared with curry, falafel, or rolled into pita style bread with a salad of cubed tomato, cucumber, and onion. I have estimated amounts, but mostly I just taste as I go until texture, and flavor suit me, I suggest you do the same.

2-3 cups of plain yogurt
2-3 tablespoons  of lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cucumber, also finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Put yogurt, and lemon juice in a bowl and mix together. Wash and finely chop cucumber and cloves of garlic and add to yogurt. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If you don’t use this all at once it will keep well for several days if you cover it in the fridge.

Baby Onion & Summer Squash Kabobs

It’s finally sunny, which means time to roll out the BBQ again! Over the weekend I made some delicious kabobs for a fourth of July party. If you eat meat , you can add steak, chicken, or fish, the marinade works for all three.

Remember when making kabobs to pre-soak your wooden sticks in water, this will prevent them from burning when you put them on the grill.

Marinade:

1-2 cups water
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Soy sauce
1/2 cup Lemon juice
3 crushed garlic cloves
1 tablespoon of crushed ginger
A handful or so of chopped onion tops

Mix together thoroughly your marinade ingredients in a long shallow pan. Your container needs to be long enough and deep enough to partially submerge your kabob skewers in.

Slice summer squash into 1 inch size pieces, and cut the tops off of your baby onions. Skewer pieces (adding meat if you like), and let marinate for at least an hour before grilling. Once on the hot grill, they should only take 6 minutes or so on either side. Enjoy!

Fava Beans

Fava beans have a delicious buttery texture and lovely nutty taste. Although they require a bit more work to prepare, take the time to try this old world favorite.

When preparing fava beans you need to first remove the beans from the pod. After you have shucked your beans, dispose of the pods and start a pan of water boiling so that you can  boil the beans to make removal of the outer shell easier. Most people choose to remove the outer shell of the Fava bean before they eat them. So after 5 minutes or so of boiling, let your beans cool, or run them under cold water so you can remove the shell. Fava beans have what looks like a little seam on one side of the bean. Make a slit with your fingernail in the seam at one end of the bean and then squeeze the bean out. It should pop right out of the skin.  The boiled  beans should be bright green and are now ready to use in any recipe.

Suggestions: A cold pasta salad, with fava beans, parmesan, lemon juice, diced garlic, parsley, oil, salt and pepper.

CSA 2010 – Week 1: Springing In!

Well here we are again! Welcome, and Welcome! Winter has passed us by, and it’s late, soggy spring in the beautiful state of Oregon. I’d first of all like to thank you for choosing to be a part of our CSA, whether you are a returning member of many seasons, or if this is new to you, we are thrilled to have you along with us!

It’s amazing how fast the past twelve months have gone by. I’ve been working here at Gathering Together for just over a year now, and while some visible changes are clear (read: OZONATOR, and NEW BARN!), it’s the less obvious things that really make this whole operation go that have me floored. I’ve always been in love with the
idea of the simple life, and caring for the land, now I realize that it really ain’t all that simple.  I finished my Communications degree from OSU in December, and decided to prepare myself with a crash course in farming over the winter.  My sister Ivy and I took off for three months in Argentina, where we connected with two different farms through the WWOOF program (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms).   Lots of work, but oh so rewarding. We’d lay down at the end of the day in our tent, bodies aching, and brains buzzing from thinking in Spanish, but so happy to be doing something new and different.

So, coming back and jumping in as a working piece of this farm has really made me appreciate the complexities that aren’t all that evident from our picturesque cover.  Aside from the hard work, sometimes seeds don’t sprout, sometimes it doesn’t stop raining and we can’t transplant, things don’t always go according to schedule.  But we push on! No need to remind you how wet and cold its been, because it’s been this way before.  In Oregon
you just put on another layer, and enjoy the lush greens of spring until the summer sun comes out.  That being said:  prepare to enjoy many-a-lush green from our fields until it gets a bit warmer, and sooner or later it will.

I feel so lucky to be here, and I can’t wait to start putting the names I’ve been seeing with real faces. We encourage anyone in the area, or just passing through to stop by the farm, and see firsthand what it’s all about.

Thanks again, and Happy eating!

Devon Sanders, CSA Coordinator Continue reading “CSA 2010 – Week 1: Springing In!”