2016 CSA – Week 8: The Value of Variety

CSA Week 8 Graphic

CSA Newsletter – Week 8


The Value of Variety

A seemingly simple question was posed to me the other week: Why grow this yellow flying saucer squash when you can just grow a regular green zucchini? In the moment, I didn’t have a great answer, but the question got me thinking about the many reasons that variety and biodiversity are important to our farm system.

On a farm, there are so many factors and considerations that determine what we grow. Of course, we want to grow products that we can sell and that are tasty. Because we sell at a variety of markets, to chefs and restaurants, grocery stores, and directly to people like you, there is a wide variation of products, sizes desired within our broad market creating a diverse demand therefore, more variety means more possibilities of meeting people’s needs. Also, product diversity certainly makes our farmers market setups look beautiful and inviting!

On the farm, the seasons often dictate what we grow, and we can extend seasons by growing varieties that are early season, heat tolerant, overwintering, etc. Other on-farm considerations include days to maturity (how long it takes to grow), yield, ease of harvest, disease resistance, and storability.

In the case of the flying saucer squash, its fun shape and firm, nutty texture make it a squash we’ll continue to grow. With all of the complexities and variables in agriculture, sometimes it’s that simple!

Happy August and enjoy your salsa box!

-Lily, CSA Coordinator

Table of Box Contents

Lettuce ($2.00)

☐ 1½ lbs Potatoes ($2.25) – Store in dry, cool, darkness. Don’t scrub until you’re ready to eat them.

2 Poblano Peppers ($2.00) – Stuff as chile rellenos, or incorporate into a potato and corn hash

Bunched Golden Beets ($3.00)

☐ 1 Fresh Sweet Onion ($1.50)

1 Red Torpedo Onion ($1.50) – The long, cylindrical shape of this onion lends itself well to slicing rounds for salad.

☐ 1 Jalapeno ($.50) – Add a little kick to your salsa or pico de gallo

☐ Bunched Carrots ($3.50)

Cilantro ($2.00) – Use in salad, salsa, or to garnish any dish

1 lb Tomatillos (4-6) ($3.00) – Roast them and make salsa verde

☐ 4 zucchini ($3.50) – Grill, sauté, or make zucchini bread

2 Big Beef Tomatoes ($4.50)

4 Ears of Corn ($3.00) – Boil or grill and eat straight off the cob or cut off the ear and add to stir-fry or salsa

Box Market Value: $32.25

Recipes

Pico de Gallo

Make this simple, fresh salsa using your tomatoes, white onion, jalapeno, and cilantro.

The tomatoes will most likely be the limiting factor so chop those first and add chopped onions and cilantro to taste. Depending on your heat preference, add chopped jalapeno. Add a little salt and lime and adjust ingredients to taste.

Tomatillo Salsa

Ingredients

  • 5 medium tomatillos
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 serrano chiles (or jalapeno)
  • Handful chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • salt to taste

Preparation

  1. Peel and wash the tomatillos. Split and seed the chiles. Place the tomatillos and chiles under a broiler for about 4 minutes each side.
  2. Transfer the blackened tomatillos, chiles, and any juices from the pan to a blender or food processor. Simply add the rest of the ingredients and blend.
  3. This is the absolute basic recipe. Try adding garlic, cumin, avocado, and/or lime.

Poblano, Potato, and Corn Gratin

This dish is a bit indulgent but potatoes, corn, and poblanos are such a great combination, I couldn’t resist!  For a lighter version, cut the potatoes into chunks, salute with onions and olive oil for 10 minutes and then add the poblanos and corn. Sauté until ingredients are cooked through and add salt and pepper to taste.

 Ingredients

  •  3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 large fresh poblano chiles, stemmed, seeded, cut into 2×1/4-inch strips
  • 1 1/4 pounds potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 cup cooked corn, cut off the cob
  • 1 cup coarsely grated Oaxaca cheese or whole-milk mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Rub 9 1/2-inch-diameter deep-dish glass pie dish or cast-iron skillet with 2 teaspoons oil. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add poblano strips and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Arrange 1/3 of potato rounds, overlapping slightly, in prepared pie dish. Sprinkle 1/3 of poblano strips over, then 1/3 of corn and 1/3 of cheese. Repeat with 1/3 of potatoes, 1/3 of poblanos, 1/3 of corn, and 1/3 of cheese. Top with remaining potatoes, poblanos, and corn, reserving remaining 1/3 of cheese. Place dish on rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Whisk half and half, flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in small bowl. Pour over potato mixture in pie dish; press potatoes to submerge. Cover dish tightly with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil; sprinkle remaining cheese over gratin. Continue to bake gratin until potatoes are tender and cheese is golden brown, about 25 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Read More: Bon Appétit

2016 CSA – Week 7: Seed Selection: Growing Larger Grey Shallots

CSA Week 7 Graphic

CSA Newsletter – Week 7


Seed Selection: Growing Larger Grey Shallots

Most of the seed that we use at our farm comes from seed companies around the country from Johnny’s Select Seeds in Maine to Osborne Seed Company in Washington and everywhere in-between.  Sometimes our seeds are even sourced from companies in Europe. Specialty crops such as potatoes and ginger, that are cultivated vegetatively, are often source from specific farms that grow specific varieties for seed.

While we typically leave seed selection and saving up to seed companies sometimes, we do some seed saving of our own. Several years ago, we acquired some grey shallot seed from a farmer in Southern Oregon. Grey Shallots are a true shallot which means they only reproduce vegetatively. Grey shallot seed is simply a grey shallot that is planted in the ground to grow and reproduce more. Since then, we have been selecting the largest, best-looking shallots each year as seed for next year’s crop.

This week, I had the opportunity to be a part of the grey shallot seed selection process. We set aside 1,000 of the biggest shallots from this year’s harvest. This year’s seed is about three times larger than the seed that we started with initially! I am certainly looking forward to even larger grey shallots next year.

Have a great week and enjoy those veggies.

-Lily, CSA Coordinator

 

Table of Box Contents

Lettuce ($2.00)

1½ lbs Potatoes ($2.25) – Store in dry, cool, darkness. Don’t scrub until you’re ready to eat them.

2 Anaheim Peppers ($2.00) – This versatile, mild chili pepper can be used in chili rellenos, salsa, or in any recipe that calls for peppers.

Fresh Cipollini Onions ($2.50) – Delicious in eggs, salad, or grilled

1 Fresh Sweet Onion ($1.50)

1 Colored Bell Pepper ($2.00)

Bunched Purple Carrots ($3.50)

1 Bunch Basil ($3.00) – Make pesto or caprese salad with your heirloom tomato and some fresh mozzarella.

2 Leeks ($3.00) – Delicious  and very versatile. Enjoy them grilled, sautéed, in soup, or in a savory galette or frittata.

1 Bunch Swiss Chard ($3.00) – Sauté and put in a savory galette and make a dip with the stems. See recipes!

2 Cucumbers ($2.00)

1 Heirloom Tomato ($4.50)

1 Pint Strawberries ($4.00)

Box Market Value: $35.25

 

Recipes

Romesco

Romesco is a delicious Catalonian roasted pepper sauce that can be used as a dip, dressing, or eaten all by itself. I first had it in our very own Farmstand and was blown away by its rich, smoky flavor.

There are many variations of romesco. This simple recipe comes from my friend Lisa, the person who introduced me to this wonderful sauce.

Ingredients

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 peeled, roasted bell peppers
  • (roast on the grill or in the oven)
  • ½ cup olive oil (more to taste)
  • ½ cup roasted almonds
  • lemon juice to taste
  • salt to taste
  1. Grind the nuts and garlic in a food processor until the mixture is fairly fine
  2. Add the peppers and a pinch of salt and process to combine
  3. While processor is running, slowly add the olive oil. Add salt, lemon juice, and olive oil to taste.

What to Do with Those Stems?

I always use the stems of my chard. I either add them to my sauté before the leaves or set them aside for use in making stock. However, I haven’t ventured to make any dishes that feature the chard stems themselves.

Once I started looking, I found recipes for chard stems. I love this NYT Cooking recipe for Swiss chard stem dip but the recipes for pickled Swiss chard stems, Chard Stems with Sesame-Yogurt Sauce and Black Sesame Seeds, Baked Swiss Chard Stems Recipe with Olive Oil and Parmesan sound delicious too!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Swiss chard stalks, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 to 4garlic cloves (to taste), peeled, green shoots removed
  • ½cup sesame tahini, stirred if the oil has separated
  • ¼ to ½cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
  • 1tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation

Steam the chard stalks about 15 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain well, and allow to cool. Place in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Puree, stopping the machine from time to time to scrape down the sides.

In a mortar, mash the garlic with 1/2 teaspoon salt until you have a smooth paste (you can also do this in the food processor). Add to the chard stalks. Process until smooth. Add the tahini, and again process until smooth. With the machine running, add the lemon juice and salt to taste. Stop the machine, taste and adjust seasonings.

Read More: Swiss Chard Stalk and Tahini Dip


Galette: The Sweet and Savory Catchall

Galettes are one of my favorite things to make. Take whatever is in season (or in your fridge), fold it up in your favorite pie crust, and it is guaranteed to be delicious. I typically make sweet galettes (because I have a terrible sweet tooth) but savory ones are equally delicious. 

If you have a favorite pie crust recipe, use that. Recently, I have been making an all butter crust from the NYT Cooking section that is simple and delicious. I typically bake my galettes in a hot oven (375-400) until the crust is golden brown and the filling has set (40-50 minutes)

Galette Tips:

-Sauté greens, onions, mushrooms, etc, before baking

-Drain excess liquid from ingredients before filling crust to prevent a soggy bottom

-Add cheese, herbs, mustard, pesto, etc as a base before adding filling

-Toss fruit with a bit of cornstarch or flour absorb excess moisture

-Leave room around the edges to fold over the crust, about 2-3 inches

-Brush crust with egg for a golden brown sheen and sprinkle with sugar or cheese
Read More:

2016 CSA – Week 6: Mechanical Cultivation

CSA Week 6 Graphic

CSA Newsletter  – Week 6


Mechanical Cultivation: Keeping our fields well groomed

In passing, our logistics coordinator and cultivator extraordinaire, Joey, was lamenting about not wanting to get back on the tractor to cultivate in the afternoon. I don’t blame him, long days spent in the hot sun; meticulously driving through row after row of crops is tedious and straining.  However, cultivation is a very essential part of our weed management program and can make or break the success of a crop.

This time of year, we have a dedicated crew of cultivators who spend much of their days riding classic International and Farmall cultivation tractors,  from the 50’s and 60’s, through fields, the walking the fine line of effective cultivation and uprooting the very plants we are trying to protect. Like so many things in farming, timing is everything. If a crop (or the weeds) grows too large, the cultivation implement may not be able to run through the crop safely. Alternatively, if a crop is too small when cultivated, the plants may get buried in the processes, adversely impacting their success.  With new crops being planted weekly, there is never a shortage of things to cultivate. Often, the limiting factor is hours in the day.

Anything that does not get cultivated by tractor gets cultivated and weeded by hand. Our skilled field crew can knock out a weedy planting pretty quick if it’s all hands on deck, but with much of the harvest coming on, hand weeding often takes a back seat to harvesting mature crops ready for sale.

So thank you to the cultivation crew for taking one for the team and keeping our fields looking beautiful and weed free (reduced)!

Have a great week and enjoy those veggies.

-Lily, CSA Coordinator

Table of Box Contents

Lettuce ($2.00)

1½ lbs Potatoes ($2.25) – Store in dry, cool, darkness. Don’t scrub until you’re ready to eat them.

¾ Lbs Green Beans ($3.00)

Bunched Red Shallots ($2.50) – Delicious in eggs, salad, or grilled

2 Fresh Sweet Onion ($3.00)

1 Eggplant ($4.50) – Best eaten soon after harvest. Delicious roasted or charred, in dips, ragu, or as eggplant parmesan.

Bunch Carrots ($3.50) – Remove tops for storage

Fresh Dill ($2.00)

Green Bell Pepper ($1.50)

Dried Garlic ($1.50)

2-3 Summer Squash ($3.00) – Grill, sauté, or make zucchini bread.

3 Cucumbers ($3.00)

1 lb Tomatoes (2-3) ($3.50)

Box Market Value: $35.25

 

Recipes

Lisa’s Turkish Eggplant Dish

 Lisa, a dear friend of the farm and former CSA Coordinator, is also a wonderful cook. I remembered tasting her eggplant dip when she made it last year and I am so excited to share it with you this week (and to have the recipe for myself)!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 (plus a bit) tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (depending on size)
  • 1/3 to 2/3 cup yogurt
  • salt to taste

PREPARATION

  1. Place whole eggplant on grill (even straight on the coals)or in very hot oven until black. Let cool.
  2. Lightly sauté garlic in butter not allowing it to turn brown or black.
  3. Peel eggplant and chop into chunks.
  4. Add eggplant to garlic butter mixture and cook on medium low for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add yogurt and salt to taste.


Seasoned Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is one of my favorite condiments for grilled or roasted vegetables. It is incredibly versatile and can be dressed up in endless ways. Make your own mayo or use the jar from the fridge. Don’t be shy, a little mayo never hurt anybody and you’ll be surprised at how delicious it tastes!

Flavors (try combinations too!):

  • Roasted garlic (raw too!)
  • Sriracha
  • Mustard
  • Fresh Herbs: basil, parsley, dill, etc.
  • Chipotle
  • Harissa: a Tunisian hot chili pepper paste
  • Dry spices: curry powder, paprika, etc.

Ratatouille

This very versatile dish is perfect for using up the abundant zucchini and tomatoes, at this time of year. Add dried or fresh hot pepper to taste. Eat this dish with fresh bread, over rice or pasta, or all by itself.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large globe eggplant, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
  • ¾ cup olive oil, divided
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 1 large onion, halved, sliced ½ inch thick
  • 1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes divided (or use 2-3 whole tomatoes)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup torn basil leaves

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Toss eggplant, zucchini, and 2 tsp. salt in a colander. Let sit 30 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Heat ¼ cup oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy ovenproof pot over medium-high. Add half of eggplant and zucchini and cook, stirring constantly, until vegetables begin to take on color, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with ¼ cup oil and remaining eggplant and zucchini.
  3. Tie thyme sprigs together with kitchen twine. Heat remaining ¼ cup oil in same pot and cook onion, bell pepper, garlic, and thyme, stirring occasionally, until onion is beginning to brown and is softened, 8–10 minutes.
  4. Add half of tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in zucchini and eggplant, then top with remaining 1 pint tomatoes (do not stir); season with salt and pepper. Transfer pot to oven and roast until all vegetables are softened and tomatoes have begun to burst, 15–20 minutes.
  5. Remove thyme bundle. Transfer to a serving platter and top with basil.

Read More: Bon Appétit