Thursday, June 30, 2011
First step: before you leave the farm, make sure you know what's what in your basket!
Step two: A note on field washing-- most of your produce is field washed-- as in if it's something that will rapidly lose its quality if not rapidly cooled (think leafy greens, radishes, carrots, beets), it has been rinsed and/or soaked in potable, cold water. If it's a crop that reacts poorly to being rinsed (think summer squash, cukes, snap and snow peas, green beans), then it will come straight from the field.
Your produce will never, ever be sprayed with anything, or have harmful residues from any herbicides/pesticides. You will occassionally find a Burt hair in the mix. He is really sorry about it, but it does keep the gophers, rabbits, and other low-lying, nibbling friends at bay.
Step three: Please give your salad greens, or anything else that will be served fresh a quick rinse before eating-- in general, too, cold temps/rapid cooling help to preserve the shelf-life of veggies, converting starches to sugars. (This is part of the irony that the best-looking produce at market was often harvested the day before, and cooled overnight instead of coming fresh from the garden that morning, looking somewhat wilty at market.)
Step three-point-five: Try to remember that the occasional bug in your produce is a friendly reminder that organic farming uses overall soil health to combat pests and disease. Insects are a vital part of healthy natural communities, and they're probably just as happy to be in your lettuce as you are! Farming is not far off from being a junior entymologist.
Step four: When in doubt about how to treat an unfamiliar crop for storage in the fridge, put the crop, unwashed, into a plastic bag and leave it open. If there seem to be excess parts, trim, clip, and toss the extra surface area from which moisture is pulled by the refrigerator. The other thing to consider is, "how does this look at the grocery store?" Think about those big, 5# bags of carrots, or 1# bags of radishes-- they're good to sit on a shelf for several weeks, and they've been stripped of greens, with air holes built into the bags. All of the lovely looking greens that are convenient for holding bunches together are really conspiring against you, the eater, in drawing moisture from and dehydrating the root you'd like to eat. Toss them! (Or, sautee radish tops, use carrot tops for veggie/chix stock, and generally get creative!)
What about cilantro and parsely? The best grocery store bunches will still have their roots, unwashed, left on. Many crops survive best being chilled and unwashed (You can generally go by family here-- Cucurbits: squash, cukes, winter squash; Solanaceous/Nightshades: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers; legumes: beans, peas, green beans, favas, edamame).
When really in doubt, please don't hesitate to contact me-- It's my sincere hope that you enjoy your produce!
One more thing: with green garlic, it's a two-for-one deal. When you get it home, lop the garlic clove (white part) up about 4-6". You can use this part just like garlic for cooking-- it's got a nice, juicy, mild flavor, or store in the fridge as is. For the upper part, hold on to the scape (flowering head) and strip the excess leaves off, then store with the rest of the scapes in an open plastic bag in the fridge.
We're getting to the end of scape season, which means they're getting a bit tougher than early on (the plants are flowering in earnest!) They're still perfectly edible, just be sure to cook them through well; if you're using them as a garlic substitute, leave 8-10 minutes of pre-cooking time before adding in more delicate veggies (like all those sugar snap peas, for example!)
And lastly, a lovely-sounding recipe passed along from Sue Claro via Bon Appetit:
[You can view the complete recipe online at: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/366394]
Sugar Snap Salad
1 1/2 pounds sugar snap peas, trimmed, stringed, cut in half on diagonal
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sumac plus more for garnish
1 bunch radishes (about 6 ounces), trimmed, thinly sliced
4 ounces ricotta salata or feta, crumbled
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint
Ingredient info: Ricotta salata is a salted,aged ricotta cheese, available at better supermarkets and at specialty foods stores and Italian markets.
Fill a large bowl with ice water; set aside. Cook peas in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain; transfer to bowl with ice water to cool. Drain peas; transfer to a kitchen towel–lined baking sheet to dry.
Whisk oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon sumac in a small bowl. Toss peas, radishes, and cheese in a large bowl. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover dressing and salad separately and chill.
Add dressing to salad and toss to coat. Season salad with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired. Garnish with mint and sprinkle with sumac.
by Sara Dickerman
Enjoy, and please pass along any good recipes, inspirations, or ideas that come along! See you next week and Happy Independence Day!
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
With all the rain coming in and cool temperatures, the early season plants are in heaven. Your share this week is a spring-like bounty...
sugar snap peas
pea shoots/tendrils -- see below
bunch swiss chard
5 garlic scapes
2 green garlic
scallions/green onion tops
herbs: dill, parsely, oregano, thyme, sage, mint, lavender, chamomile
flowers: yarrow, zinnia, mint, asters, shallot and scallion flowers
Notes on the share: Sugar snap and snow peas are great for fresh eating, but are welcome additions to stir-fries, pastas, and cold salads. I was rocking some wheatberry-sugar snap salad earlier this week-- a good jaw workout indeed! Pea shoots are tasty, artsy little additions to salads or garnishes. The twining tendrils can be added to tiny bouquets, too-- they'll hold for a week or so in a vase.
I am personally not a big fan of eating swiss chard, so I prefer it in a vase, too. Sacrilege, I know. With some light heat, sauteed with garlic scapes, olive oil, and a little salt and pepper, it's a gorgeous and healthy side. Anyone have any good recipe suggestions to add to the mix?
The best sleepytime tea around is made by steeping lavender and chamomile in hot water. And, Zzzzzz....
Garlic scapes are the seeding, flower stalks that grow from the top of the garlic plant (the heads of cloves are underground bulbs, just like the lillies, daffodils, and amarayllis that also comprise the family Amaryllidaceae family.) Scapes have a nice, mild garlic flavor and a crunchy flavor. Try marinating in olive oil/balsamic with S&P, then grilling!! They're also good additions to eggs and stir-fries, and they make a killer pesto. Just replace the basil with chopped garlic scapes... And don't forget your toothbrush. It's pungent stuff! Scapes are impressive in bouquets, too!
Green garlic is just young garlic that hasn't had time yet to bulb up. Some of it is being thinned. All of the allia genus is very photosensitive-- responsive to the amount of darkness per 24 hour period-- and as we slide down from the summer solstice, more of the plant's energy gets dedicated to bulbing (used for storage for next year... needs that energy to make seeds!)
Since we're in the vein, I might as well explain some of the flowers. Most all of the allia (onion/leek/shallot/chive, etc. genus) are biennials, which means they will set seed only in their second year of growth, or after a period of vernalization (4-6 weeks of cold/freezing temps.) This week, there are some lovely globe-like flowers from scallions and shallots-- the shallot flowers have thicker stalks. These are all plants that overwintered from last year, and thus are producing seed stalks/flower heads. These are some of my favorites for their sculptural, sleek lines, as well as their stellar vase life. They will easily last 2-3 weeks in a vase-- just be sure to give them fresh, cold water every few days if the water looks scummy.
As a general rule, warm water will always rush flower buds/heads to open, so if you're looking for longevity, fill your vase with cool water. If you want a bursting bouquet on the table for tonight's dinner, make the water lukewarm!
(sidebar: I know a lot of this information is somewhat pedantic and pedagogical... I apologize!! I do love this stuff, though, and the good news is you can always just keep scrolling down or close out your browser!)
I adore radishes. Besides being ready for harvest in 21 days from germination, they've got some serious kick. Marilyn is still convinced they must have some good antiseptic/detox powers among the likes of ginger, wasabi and garlic for the punch packed into their bite. One of their biggest shortcomings on salad bars and in grocery stores nation-wide is that they don't taste like anything. Not so much the case here. Enjoy!
Here's a tidbit from Suzanne Ashworth in Seed to Seed, "Radishes were considered so important in ancient Egypt that their pictures were inscribed on many pyramid walls. Greeks presented offerings to Apollo which included turnips made of lead, beets of silver, and radishes of gold. Often thought to be native to Asia, radishes appear in artwork and legends in the eastern Mediterranean that date back to 2000 B.C." Fit for kings and gods!
Up next, a little herb tutorial via special request... If you ever, ever have questions about what's in your share, how to store it or use it, please don't hesitate to call or email!
Thanks for your help with CSA, Green Peak Farm members!
Friday, June 24, 2011
Snow peas and sugar snaps-- that chartreuse line at the foot of the snow peas on the left is a row of lettuce that's loving the cool, wet shade of the peas. Cilantro is under the snaps (row to the right.)
Summer squash-- Costata Romanesco speckled zucchini, Sunburst pattypan, and Yellow Crookneck-- are right on the cusp... One sunny day will get us some fruit!
Snaps coming on strong... Recipes, anyone?
Second set of chicks at 2.5 weeks weathering the cold well in new feather coats...
First set of chicks at 4.5 weeks... Getting big, and huddling in close for warmth in these colder temps. Solstice? What solistice?
The new duplex, as Jim put it, houses the second set of chicks. 50 all told!
We'll see everyone Tuesday or Thursday for our first week of pickups-- can't wait!
Monday, June 20, 2011
Snow Peas are so happy with these nights in the thirties and long day lengths!
Green garlic and snow peas
These radishes pack a punch: Marilyn is convinced they must be good for us, as they have such kick!! Garlic cleans up nice, eh?
Lobster, chourico, lemon, potato, corn, brown sweet bread, coleslaw, chowda, steamers... Melting pots are delicious. And beautiful flowers, of course!
Monday, June 13, 2011
Chicks at three weeks
More peas-- sugar snaps and snows
Equinox looms on a chilly mid-June day
Overwintered shallot blossoms: the experiment continues...
Advisee potatoes-- coming on strong and healthy. Nice work, girls!!
And lastly: not a bad mug shot from the dog who had a porcupine run-in only yesterday, resulting in being knocked out clean for a few hours, having dozens of quills pulled (not to mention a toenail trimming, too,) and still smiling. Thanks, Dr. Bob!
Crazy to think that iris, peony, rhodies, and the very last of the lilacs are still blooming... it's been a chilly spring. Word on the street is that peas still haven't showed up yet at Middlebury's market. CSA starts in two weeks-- sugar snaps and snow peas, lettuce, radish, green garlic, herbs, and with any luck, a few summer squash... In the meantime I'm off for my brother's wedding in Newport for a long weekend. All the chicks are on the farm, loving being outside, and I can't wait to kick off the season with you all!
Thursday, June 2, 2011
And so the season begins!
Rain's great for carrot, bean and beet germination, as well as the perennial hedgerows; the heat has awoken some beautiful potato plants their thick-stemmed, sleeping beauty glory, and it has somehow conned me into thinking that it's already time to transplant out cukes, picklers, 3 types of summer squash, zinnias and sunflowers... We're off and running!
New solutions beget new challenges, as is to be expected. One of this year's questions is how to provide ventilation for the hoophouse without compromising its structural integrity on Wind Hill. Thanks to Thomas, we rigged up some panels from the dealership that have been sitting in storage for a while, and came up with a tiny 12V fan to get the air circulation going in the house. It's amazing the differences in plant health the tiny changes can make.
As always, friends' help and inspiration is instrumental: Thanks to Becky, Liz, Maggie, and Jane, as well as the valiant, tandem-bike-wielding Middlebury crew of David, Makayla, and Joo Ei! And what would a farm spring be without some baby chicks around? After a longer layover than expected, thirty chicks arrived at 5am last Wednesday at the Manchester Center PO. They mangaged to perk right up after the trip from Albany, and it's a bright spot to add thirty little peeping fluffballs to the mix. Twenty more are heading in next Wednesday (don't tell Burt.) Summer is here (don't tell school, which ends in two weeks!)
Finally, and joyfully, thanks to Rachel who will be helping out on the farm a bit this year. More details to come soon after she finishes her wombat-softball birthday cake!!
I hope this finds everyone well. Happy June!