Heat and moisture have created such a lush environment in the fields that the vegetables are practically climbing into the kitchen and onto our plates. But of course the weeds are shooting up right next to them and we scramble here to keep up with the transplanting, harvesting, tilling, seeding and endless weeding of June. June is bonkers on a market farm! But so very very yummy and so achingly beautiful.
So – we’re a little famous. See the July Issue of Mary Jane’s Farm magazine which features Circle M animals and people in the Soil Sisters article. And save the date for the Soil Sisters Tour – this July 31 through August 1. Visit us and other women-owned farms and field-to-table restaurants in southwest Wisconsin. Circle M will host several wool classes, and Kriss will be the tour guide for the bus trip!
Well, that's all of our news for the week - now it's on to the veggies! Here's what's In The Box. Remember to use the first things listed first, they are the most perishable:
Cilantro - So tender, first cutting. I had a handful chopped on top of a Mexican-flavored bean salad yesterday. Summer on a fork! Since we don't have tomatoes yet, we've been playing around with fruit salsas. Since mangos are in season and on sale at most grocers, we've been combining them with what we've got here in abundance to make wonderful combos. For the farm dinner Saturday, we'll have Mango/Rhubarb Salsa with Grilled Spinach Quesadillas for our appetizer.
Basil - Holy cow - the basil really came on in the rain and heat. Hooray! Basil and scapes at the same time mean a wonderful sweet spring pesto! Sorry about the dirt - we got very very splashed around here. But if we wash them they won't last long for you. SO - Rinse these bagged leaves right before you are going to use them. Very tender. Best stored on the door of your fridge where it's not too cold. Don't forget to consider basil as an ingredient in your summer cocktails. Booze and basil really suit each other. Check out our ideas on the Farmer Kriss Pinterest Page under CSA Box Recipes and The Farmhouse Bar page.
Head Lettuce - This week we've got terrific tender-leaved Green Oakleaf.
Swiss Chard - First cutting leaves are so pretty and so soft and sweet. I just LOVE them. This week they are going in my Morning Glory Muffins for the little Blanchardville Farmers Market - come out and get one Saturday morning in Ryan Park from 8 to noon. Try these raw ribboned into salad and please do eat the stems. Very tasty chopped into scrambled eggs for breakfast.
Spinach - Ah! Sweet stems and tender leaves. I think baby spinach isn't worth eating but young adult leaves are totally the bomb. I would never cook such lovely stuff, but you can if you like. Actually, I lied. I made great quesadillas for crew lunch yesterday with multi-grain tortillas wrapped around whole spinach leaves and cherry farmer cheese. AMAZING. But this is the last spinach we'll have for a few weeks, since these plants bolted in the heat. We've got new spinach and new salad mix growing, but neither are big enough to harvest yet.
Herb Bouquet: Chocolate Mint, Lemon Balm, Oregano, Tarragon, Lovage, Sage and Chinese Leeks (Garlic Chives) - We've said this already but WE LOVE FRESH HERBS here at Circle M. Having a bounty of fresh herbs to choose from transforms our summer cooking and baking. The best way to have these at hand is to pop them in a Ball jar filled with an inch of water and store in the fridge. This week we made this incredible Lemon Balm Sage Jelly for our Bed and Breakfast guests to have on scones. You have enough of each in your box to make it, too. Lemon Balm makes a great anti-anxiety tea. Add honey while steeping all the leaves in hot water, the strain and chill. Sip on it cold from the fridge throughout the day. Chocolate Mint means Mojito Lemonade (simply add a few tablespoons of lime juice and a handful of mint leaves to a lemonade recipe) for crew lunches and Mojitos for REAL at dusk. With your stalks of tarragon, which is lightly sweet and anise-flavored, we recommend making a wine-based salad dressing. The lovage you've had before - a terrific perennial celery plant with a hint of nutmeg flavor. The Chinese leeks are the flat-leaved chives - snip into eggs, salads, goat cheese. The oregano - just about to flower - is great this time of year used on top of pizza cooked on the grill. Both the mint and the lemon balm can be started in your own yard by holding some of the stalks in water on the counter until you see little roots form. Could be just a day or two.
Baby Kale - Kale at any size is a good thing. But Baby Kale is a great thing. You could make Kale Chips out of these whole leaves, ribbon into a salad or add to soup. Try blended into a guacamole - with the big bunch of cilantro in your box! We grow six different varieties so we ca make you pretty bouquets all season long.
Mini Napa Cabbage - We grew this tiny variety of Napa Cabbage because it seemed a reasonable size fit into our CSA boxes. The bonus is that these little leaves work great as boats for dips! The crew had them slathered in goat cheese or peanut butter for lunch this week.
Snap Peas - Hooray! A favorite crop for many of our crew each year, snaps are like a sweet snack that is good for you but keeps you craving more! Hopefully we'll have a couple weeks of harvest of these for you - it depends on how the weather goes, but the vines certainly are loaded now! Zip the string off the side before you munch. Though it seems a shame to cook these, they get even sweeter when lightly sauteed!
Garlic Scapes - This bag of curly green pig-tails are the seed heads we harvest off off garlic in spring. Have a mild and sweet garlic-y flavor. Mince like a scallion and add to eggs or any dish you'd enjoy with garlic. Our good friends at Stoney Acres Farm in Athens put these whole on their wood-oven pizzas - pick one up sometime when you go north. And our neighbor Chelsea Chandler at Plowshares and Prairie Farm makes them into great pickles. I'll be throwing them into the food processor with basil and olive oil for my first pesto of the year! Try pesto on grilled cheese with Farmer John's Provonella Cheese! If you need more inspiration than these curly little treats can provide, check out the wonderful Kitchen Vignettes video on making Garlic Scape Pancakes.
Green Garlic - This is young garlic, not cured. Store in your fridge and use up like regular garlic. You will find the taste is a bit more mild.
Scallions - The first of the new onions! Enjoy all the way up the stalk - Chinese-style! No need to throw anything in the compost but the roots.
Rhubarb - More! Experiment with a different dessert this week, or cook down with a little honey and chia seeds for a wonderful healthy jam. We've had rhubarb every day for the past month and I am still not sick of it. I'm cooking some down right now to make a concentrated glaze for the ham I plan to serve at our Saturday dinner.
Horseradish - The lumpy root at the bottom of your box is, in fact, horseradish. It won't smell like much until you grate it - either with a cheese grater or a food processor. Then the damaged cells will release enzymes that react with the air and do the horseradish-y thing. Make sure to keep your eyes away from the fumes! Immediately add vinegar and salt to preserve, and store in the fridge. YUM.
Herbs To Plant: Savory, Ornamental Hot Pepper, Basil - We've given you a pack of three plants this week to pop into a pot on your patio, or plant out into the garden. The tallest plant is an ornamental pepper, very pretty, but also edible. HOT. The long stem with tiny leaves is summer savory, which tastes similar to thyme but grows faster. Snip often and it will branch into a nice bush. Same with the little bright green basil. Snip daily for a great big bush.
Gifts from the Goats: Lemon Honey Goat Cheese - We love to experiment with cheese all through the milking season. We especially like the results this week. The lemon zest/honey chevre is perfect crumbled over a salad, spread on a Napa Cabbage leaf or used as a dip for snap peas.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take a look at the Farmer Kriss Pinterest Page this week - I put a TON of great resources up on the CSA Box Recipe Page, but also at The Farmhouse Bar. And we've got a great recipe of the week up on the Recipe Blog page - our newly-invented Polenta Sage Muffins, to be served with our ham at the field-to-table dinner on Saturday.