CSA 2011 – Week 13: Melons, Melons Everywhere!

The theme of the past few weeks here at the farm has been melons! I personally have been trying to eat at least one melon a day for the past couple of weeks, and I think that I’m succeeding. We plant four staggered plantings of melons in the season, intended to spread out our melon season for four weeks or more and assure that we will get a good harvest.

This year we transplanted them into the fields a little late and the lack of warm weather seemed to drag us behind with the melons, resulting in our first good melon harvest the last week of August. The amazing thing about all of this is that our 3rd and 4th melon plantings are both ready to be picked now! The hot weather ripened up those melons in a hurry. Thank you to Joelene and Sarah for spending their Sunday and other countless hours of their time devoting to the melon picking and boxing. We grow several different varieties of wonderful melons here. Those of you who attended our tasting last month got to try them all. For the melon type, we grow charentais, honey orange, honey pearl, and gaila. The watermelon varieties are sunshine, little baby flower, starlight, new orchid, and sorbet swirl. These melons are very special and are treated with special care. This week’s box contains the 4th melon for you all this season, and there will be more to come!

Assorted Veggie Casserole from CSA member Ruth:
1 lb potatoes
Several tomatoes
2-3 summer squash, chopped
Cheese (optional)
Herbs (marjoram, or thyme)
Salt
Olive oil

Slice the potatoes thinly, salt them, and layer in a casserole dish. Layer the dish with the tomatoes and squash, or any other appropriate vegetables. Sprinkle some layers with chopped garlic, salt, pepper, and herbs. Add some shredded cheese if you’d like in the layers – mozzarella works well. Drizzle with a significant amount of olive oil so that the layers all get some. Bake at 400 degrees covered for about 45 minutes– 1 hour.

What’s in the Box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (Nicola or Colorado Rose)– steam, roast, or mash.

Beets, bunched – They are great raw, roasted, or boiled.

2 onions– chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. Try them caramelized.

Watermelon, assorted types– Eat just like it is!

2 jimmy nardelo peppers– Chop and put on salads. (see recipe)

2 colored peppers— Grill, roast, or just eat raw, they are very sweet. (see recipe)

1 lipstick pepper– Chop raw for salads, add to a sauté or potato salad. (see recipe)

1 globe eggplant– Roast with olive oil, salt, and garlic. Try sautéing with tomatoes and onions.

2 Japanese cucumbers– Chop and add to a salad. Marinate and combine with tomatoes! Try combining with melons and eat together.

Bok Choy-Sauté with squash, and onions, serve with rice or quinoa.

Squash (zucchini and cocozelle)– Grate and make fritters, or zucchini bread. Bake or sauté with onions, olive oil and salt.

Romaine, Cardinal, or Red leaf lettuce– Make a salad, or add to sandwiches, make lettuce wraps!

Tomatoes (approximately 2 lbs)- Chop raw on salad, or sandwiches.

Cucumber Melon Soup
1 watermelon, rind removed and cut into chunks
2 cucumbers, peeled, cut in half, seeds removed
Pinch of salt
Spoonful of honey
Few sprigs of mint and/or cilantro
Tiny pinch of cayenne pepper

Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. For an even
smoother texture, strain after blending. Serve this soup cold. Add some
club soda or sparkling water before you serve for an extra kick!

Assorted pepper “slaw”
2 colored peppers
1 lipstick pepper
2 jimmy nardelo peppers
Aioli or mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Cut the colored peppers in half and then remove the seeds before slicing. Then, cut the peppers into thin strips (julienne). Mix with Aioli (recipe below) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Aioli
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4-1 cup extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil, or a combination of the two.
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped.
Pinch or two of salt

Place egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil slowly, while the motor is still running. Taste for seasoning. At this point you can add herbs if you’d like. Once the mixture gets thick it is just about done. Scoop out of the machine and into a container and put it in the fridge. Add to the peppers once they’re ready and chopped.

CSA 2011 – Week 12: Sugar Beet Case #3

Many of you know of Frank Morton, owner of Wild Garden Seed. Wild Garden Seed and GTF have been working together since 1994. Not all of you may be aware of the current court case going on between Frank Morton (represented along with others by the Center for Food Safety), the USDA, and the Sugar Beet Industry (Monsanto and other companies that financially benefit from the industry). The Center for Food Safety (CFS) originally filed a suit against the USDA when Frank and other growers of beet seeds realized that some growers in the Willamette Valley switched to GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) sugar beets. The USDA had allowed farmers close by to start growing these GMO sugar beets without any sort of testing. They sued the USDA simply because they did not want the sugar beets to contaminate their beets by cross pollinating.

Frank and the CFS wanted an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be done in order to protect organic growers and farmers from contamination. The Judge ruled in favor of CFS and Morton. However, then the USDA changed the rules and issued special permits to allow the commercial sugar beet growers to continue despite the judge’s ruling. The CFS and those who they represent decided to sue again after they had won, when nothing was going to be enforced. The goal was to make the growers remove what they had illegally planted. In this second case the Judge ruled in favor of Morton and the CFS again. Although, once again the USDA had completed a preliminary environmental assessment and said that the GMO sugar beet growers did not have to pull up the stecklings (roots of transplanted beets) because of safe guards (from cross-contamination) implemented by the USDA. The judges ruling was considered to be moot, or not valid, because of the rules being rewritten once again.

Following the second ruling, Morton and the CFS were getting ready to try again. Before they had time to file again, the sugar beet industry decided to sue CFS and the USDA for making it too hard for their industry. This means that the sugar beet industry got to choose where the case would be heard, and they chose Washington D.C, as opposed to San Francisco, where the previous cases had been heard. The D.C location makes it a bit harder for CFS and Frank, but I think that was their intention.

Contamination of Frank’s seed by the sugar beets would be terrible. The sugar beets could not only cross and contaminate his beets, but also chard seeds since they are all in the Beta vulgaris family. This threat of contamination could scare off customers, and he believes it does. Sugar beet contamination could affect his seed stock and future plantings. The whole thing is a sticky situation as well because of the patents that Monsanto has on the genes in the GMO sugar beets.

Because of these patents, no one but Monsanto can actually do any safety testing on their crops and publicize it. This patent also poses a threat to Frank and other growers like him; what if his crop does get contaminated? Does Monsanto own the rights to those seeds, or just the contaminated ones, or what? It’s not very clear, but one thing is – the USDA is obviously making up rules to keep the sugar beet industry in business while leaving Frank and many other growers like him feeling unprotected and unheard by the government. Hopefully the third time will be a charm!

What’s in the box? 

  • 1.5 lb Potatoes (nicola) – Steam, roast, or mash. These are versatile.
  • Carrots, bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw or stir fried.
  • 3 onions(1 walla, 1 superstar, 1 red ) – Chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. They are very good caramelized.
  • Honey Orange Melon – Eat just like it is!
  • Charentais melon – Very flavorful French melon. Try salting it slightly before eating.
  • 1 colored pepper – Grill, roast, or just eat raw, they are very sweet.
  • 1 poblano pepper– Grill, roast, or add to a sauté for an extra kick. These can be slightly spicy and have a great flavor.
  • 2 Japanese cucumbers– Chop and add to a salad. Marinate and combine with tomatoes!  Try combining with melons and eat together.
  • 1 lb green beans– Blanch them and then sauté with olive oil, salt, garlic and herbs.
  • Squash (zucchini and cocozelle) – Grate and make fritters, or zucchini bread. Bake or sauté with onions, olive oil and salt.
  • Celery– Snack on raw, or use in soups!
  • Green Leaf lettuce– Make a salad, or add to sandwiches, make lettuce wraps!
  • Tomatoes (approximately 2 lbs)- Chop raw on salad, or sandwiches.
  • Corn– Grill in husk or steam. Add some butter and salt if you’d like.

Stuffed Onions
4 large onions
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups whole grain bread crumbs or brown rice
1/4 cup toasted nuts (almonds work well)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 teaspoons parsley, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
Sea salt and pepper

Cut onions in half along the equator and remove the inner part of the onion, leaving a shell two or three layers thick. Make a small slice on the bottom of each onion shell so that it will stand upright. Place shells in a buttered glass oven dish.Chop the onion taken from the centers and sauté in olive oil until tender. Add rice or bread crumbs, nuts, oregano, cheese and parsley and mix well. Remove from heat, stir in the egg and season to taste. Fill the onion shells with the stuffing. Add a little water to the baking pan and bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour.

Stir Fry Green Beans with Cashews
1 pound string beans, each end cut off
1/2 cup crispy cashews, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup filtered water, orange juice or chicken stock
1 tablespoon arrowroot mixed with 1 tablespoon filtered water
1 teaspoon raw honey
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

Combine ginger, soy sauce, water or stock, honey, sesame oil, garlic and rosemary. Mix thoroughly with a wire whisk. Heat the oil in a skillet or wok. Stir fry the beans until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add cashews and the sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Add the arrowroot mixture and simmer until the sauce thickens and the beans are well coated.

CSA 2011 – Week 10: Cold Preparation Ideas

It’s official, it’s August and the heat is finally on. I think that everyone is feeling the pressure. We were able to harvest some of our first planting of melons that the crows attacked a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, we have been swimming in tomatoes, and yes, peppers are here! Hopefully soon we will be getting enough red and orange ones to give you all some of those!

This time of year I try to remind myself that it is normal to be stressed, and also that I am not the only one feeling it. I also tend to enjoy colder foods instead of hot prepared items. So here I will provide some cold preparation ideas for this week’s box. With a little innovation, you can pretty much prepare any vegetable in a cold manner, which is a nice relief in this hot weather. It’s sure hard to eat hot soup in the summer! More on cold soups next week.

Carrot/ Beet Slaw:
1 bunch of carrots, shredded
1 bunch of beets, shredded
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
This slaw would make a great addition to a sandwich
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
or wrap, or just eat it plain as a side dish.
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons stone ground mustard
2 Tablespoons honey
Salt to taste
1/2 cup chopped parsley

*Combine all ingredients and season to taste.

Bean and Potato salad
1 lb bag of green beans
1 lb or so of purple potatoes
1/2 red onion, finely chopped

Dressing:
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
1 tablespoon honey
Pinch of salt

Cut or snap tough ends of beans off. Blanch them in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes. Chill , set aside.

Boil potatoes whole for 20-30 minutes, or until cooked all the way. Cool and then chop into 1-inch cubes.

Combine beans with potatoes, onions, and the dressing. Serve cold.
Note: You may add more or less dressing to your liking, or use more or less vinegar or olive oil depending on how acidic you like your dressing.

If anyone has a recipe they would like to share with everyone else, feel free to e-mail it to me, and I will try to include it in a future newsletter.

*Reminder: CSA tour, melon and tomato tasting this weekend! August 28th, 2-5pm Be there or be square!*

What’s in the box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (purple majesty)– Steam, roast, or mash. These are versatile. (see recipe)

Carrots, bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw or stir fried.

2 Onions (1 Big Alsea craig white onion, 1 red) – Chop the onions and eat raw on salads
or soups. (see recipe)

1 Bunch Beets– Shred raw on salad, boil or roast and marinate. (see recipe)

1 Purple or Green Pepper—Grill, roast, or just eat raw. (see recipe)

1 Anaheim Pepper– Chop raw, and add to salsa, salad, or sauté with summer squash.

Assorted Summer Squash – Try them sautéed, grilled, in a soup, sautéed in butter, grated for fritters, or make muffins!

1 lb Green Beans– Blanch them and then sauté with olive oil, salt, garlic and herbs.

1 Bunch Fresh Shallots – chop and sauté in olive oil or butter, use in place of garlic with beans. Try roasted with potatoes, they have a wonderful flavor.

Red Leaf Lettuce – Make a salad, or add to sandwiches, make lettuce wraps.

Tomatoes (approximately 2 lbs)– Chop raw on salad, or sandwiches.

4 ears of Corn– First corn of the season! Grill in husk or steam for a few minutes. Eat plain or add salt and butter.

Recipes:

Peppers and Onions

1 large onion ( add shallots for more flavor), sliced
2 peppers (Anaheim and green or purple would work fine)
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried fine herbs (oregano, thyme, or sage work well)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 cup finely shredded basil leaves
Sea salt and pepper

  • Sauté onions and peppers gently in butter and olive oil for about 45 minutes until soft.
  • Add herbs, crushed garlic and basil and cook another few minutes, stirring constantly. The consistency should be like marmalade. Season to taste.
  • Serve as a side dish or as an appetizer on triangle croutons.

    Variation: Add cooked sausage to the mix and eat all together, on top of some smashed potatoes, or just on a roll with some mustard. Even add some chopped tomatoes towards the end for more flavor!

Stuffed Tomatoes

3 large tomatoes
Sea salt and pepper
2 slices whole grain bread
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon fine herbs

  • Slice tomatoes in half around the equator, remove the seeds and place cut side up in a buttered baking dish.
  • Sprinkle with a little sea salt and pepper. Process bread in a food processor to make fine crumbs.
  • Add butter, cheeseand herbs and pulse a few times until well blended.
  • Spread a spoonful of stuffing over each tomato half.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

    Variation: Try using sautéed summer squash in place of bread crumbs, or sauté shallots and add them in as well. A soft cheese goes well in this too.

CSA 2011 – Week 9: If I Had a CSA Box I Would…

I’ve decided to take this week to tell you how I would use all of the produce in a CSA box.
Candy Onions: I would caramelize them like the recipe on the back and then combine them with the sautéed green beans.
Beans: see recipe on back.

Potatoes: Boil them and mash them with butter and cream. You could also chop them into 2– inch pieces, toss in olive oil, salt, garlic and herbs. Roast them at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Try boiling them whole, let them cool and then grate them to make potato pan-cakes or pan-fried hash browns.

Green Pepper: My favorite way to eat these is grilled or roasted whole until the outside gets slightly charred. You can then peel the pepper or not and add it to a sandwich with arugula-basil pesto, lettuce and tomato.

Squash: Summer squash is wonderful chopped in half, coated with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and then grilled. Another way of preparing it is to chop it into thin strips and toss it in olive oil and salt and roast it at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until cooked thoroughly. I also hear that you can grate it raw and freeze it for later zucchini breads. Another CSA member told me she likes to chop the squash and layer it in a casserole dish with cheese and other veggies and bake it!

Cucumber: I like cucumbers raw dipped in hummus or salad dressings of some sort. The salad dressing on the back would be a perfect cucumber dip.

Arugula: Arugula is a tasty salad green. You can eat it raw with dressing (see recipe on back). Another great way to use the Arugula is in pesto with basil. I usually split the basil and arugula half and half so that you get to taste both equally. Their flavors complement each other well. This pesto goes nicely on a sandwich, as a dip or even as the base for a pesto pasta of some sort. I tend to like arugula slightly wilted as well because it cuts the spicy bitter edge that it tends to have. Try it wilted on top of pizza.

Romaine Lettuce: I really enjoy the grilled Caesar salad that I put a recipe for a few weeks ago. Romaine is a great crispy lettuce with a nice mild flavor. It goes well on sandwiches, or as salad. A woman I work with just suggested making lettuce rolls with the large leaves. You could stuff these with some tomato, pesto, and cucumbers. If you’re a meat eater, add some bacon! Mushrooms and cheese might go nicely as well.

Carrots: I enjoy these carrots as they are, raw! I know some CSA members who cut them up into carrot sticks for the week. Try them grated raw with raisins, oil and vinegar.

Basil: I am a huge pesto fan personally, but there are many ways to use basil. In fact, basil is a great addition to an Asian stir fry of squash, green beans, and carrots with soy sauce, sesame oil and seeds, some chili flakes and served over rice. Also, try making a tomato salad, or use in the salad dressing recipe.

Blueberries: Eat them raw, make a smoothie, or add them to pancakes!

Tomatoes: Eat them raw on salad. Combine with pesto. You could even try them stuffed with cheese and herbs and baked at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

What’s in the box?

…I suppose you just found out. 🙂

 

Recipes:

Simply Green Beans
1 lb green beans
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons Parsley or herbs chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt

First take both ends off of the beans simply by snapping and put beans into a bowl. Blanch beans quickly in salted boiling water for about 1-2 minutes. Heat olive oil in a pan and add beans and garlic. Add herbs last and season to taste. For extra flavor add butter at the very end. To spice it up, add some chili flakes.

Candy Onion Compote
2 candy onions, peeled and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Cook the onions in butter and olive oil on low heat for 30 minutes or more. Onions will turn a light brown color and develop a caramel taste. Use this as a topping for most savory dishes. Variations: Add thinly chopped carrots and/or summer squash or green pepper for more variety.

Arugula and Romaine Salad with Roasted Tomato Dressing
Dressing:
1 large tomato or a few small tomatoes
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt

Chop the tomato into 3-4 larger pieces, and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 30-45 minutes or until somewhat dried out, but not dark. Place tomatoes in a blender or food processor. On low speed, add garlic and vinegar. Drizzle in olive oil, add the basil last and salt to taste.

Use this dressing on top of washed and chopped Arugula and Romaine together. The
romaine will balance out the spice of the Arugula and the sweetness of the dressing will compliment the two. Add the other tomato chopped on top, the cucumber or even blanched green beans.