This is (most of) the 2014 Crew. Halfway through the season, and they are still smiling. Well, done, team!
Whoa! We are halfway through our CSA season. That came up fast. On the one hand it seems like summer has just started, what with the relatively cool and easy weather. On the other hand, at the farm we can totally feel ourselves cresting the hill that is the growing year. The long downhill into fall isn’t exactly like coasting, but it certainly demands a lot less energy than the start of the season. Our last transplants were seeded into flats in the greenhouse this week. Our final rows of fall crops will be seeded into the field next week. And most of the earliest crops we seeded this spring have already been tilled in and replaced with fresh, new plants and lovely, weeded aisles. The look of the late-Autumn garden is a mixture of bare, cultivated dirt and crazy overgrown patches that house long-growing plants maturing among the annual weeds. Basically, barely controlled chaos populated by frogs, toads, snakes and birds of all species. This is where we get to work everyday, and on top of that, we get to eat like kings and queens. We hope you feel like kings and queens when you open your shares this week, too. Here’s what’s in the box:
Squash Blossoms – We rarely pack these twice in a season, but the plants are lush and full and we discovered some new recipes we really wanted to share with you! I’ve just read Molly Wizenberg’s excellent food memoir, Delancey, and she described a wonderful pizza with squash blossoms on top, and we’ve been enjoying squash quiche with our bed-and-breakfast guests. Find these recipes at our Farmer Kriss Pinterest Page. Of course, if you can’t resist stuffing and frying them again, go ahead! Farm Member Karen passed on this idea for a baked version, which is quite a bit lighter and healthier then the fried ones: “I tried a baked squash blossom recipe; substituting tomato/basil jack cheese for mozzarella, blended with cream cheese and rolled in egg and gluten free coating mix. Baked at 400° for 12 minutes. They came out golden brown and crispy!”
Summer Sweet and Sour Salad Mix - The return of salad! We aim to give you a fresh-eating green in every single box of the season, and while we are largely successful with that, we can’t always provide lettuce as that green. It gets bitter in the heat, bolts in a dry week, and in general is fussy through the top of the summer. However, we’ve got a nice mix here that incorporates the first cutting of the late-seeded lettuces. We grow these in the shade to prevent all those problems listed above, which means they grow slow, but taste sweet. In addition, we’ve also tossed some big Asian greens, small sorrel leaves and baby arugula in here with nasturtiums, calendula petals and viola flowers.
Tomatoes – We’re just now starting to pick tomatoes every day. Soon we’ll be rolling in them, but this is just the first small harvest of our mixed heirlooms. You could have red, orange, purple, yellow, green or black fruits in here – but everything we’ve packed for you is ripe and ready to eat!
Basil - These plants are going gangbusters, so we actually had to cut the stalks back this week, rather than just pinching leaves off the top. So you will have to pick your leaves off the stems this time around. The important thing is to not let the plants to to flower, because they will stop producing. So if you planted our basil plants at home, be sure to keep cutting them!
Swiss Chard – So yummy, delicate and tender! Use in a salad, chopped, or sautee lightly. The Swiss Chard Gratin we served at the July field-to-table Thankfulness Dinner was very popular, in spite of the fact that one of our talented young crew members served it to the table as “Kale Gruel.” Whatever you do with it – do not discard the stems! That’s where lots of the flavor and fiber reside in this crop, so take advantage of it. Simply chop the stems smaller and cook a little bit longer.
Summer Squash and Zucchini – These gorgeous fruits are summers most versatile crop. Eat fresh with dip, sautee lightly with olive oil and any herb, shred into baking, or slice into thin strips with a potato peeler and use as a low-calorie pasta to serve with your own pesto!
Lemon Balm - These bunches should scent your whole box and your whole kitchen! Chop into salad dressing, make into tea, snip into shortbreads, blend into pesto. Whatever you do with this herb, you will be blessed with bright citrus flavor. Not only that, in herbal healing, this is used to “increase joy,” so take advantage of it!
Sage and Chives – This little bag of herbs will enliven lots of dishes for you this week. Add both to your summer squash and zucchini sautéed, toss with butter on your new potatoes, snip into eggs for breakfast and mince into veggie dips.
Cukes – Until we got 4 inches of rain in one night last week, we’d been experiencing drought conditions here at Circle M. Every rain in the area seemed to miss us, except the last one, for which we are very very grateful. But the cukes need a lot of water and are just now bouncing back from their parched condition. These little guys should be the first of a nice crop to come in the next few weeks.
Scallions – More gorgeous bulbs and greens! Use both.
Fennel (Full Shares only) – These small bulbs are all we’ve got to show for our first crop of fennel for the year. They were much loved by bugs and much encroached by weeds in their field. We’ve got more coming for fall, but for now, use the bulb, stems and fronds all to season a fish dish or chop into a salad dressing.
Cauliflower and/or Broccoli – These little heads also struggled through the previous dry weeks. We’ve got more coming for fall, but enjoy these little guys for now.
Baby Beets – Another gorgeous thinning of our fall beets! Use stems, leaves and roots all together. We roasted them with rhubarb in a little maple syrup and served them over a Kale Salad at our last field-to-table dinner. So YUMMY. And gorgeous. To get them clean, take each and rub it between your hands in a washcloth under running water. Don’t attemp to peelJ
New Potatoes – Ah, these fresh Red Norlands have tender thin skins great for eating. Don’t peel, and don’t even scrub too hard. Also, store these potatoes in your fridge, rather than in your pantry. “New” means they’ve just been dug and packed without being cured. So their skins are not hardened up and they will rot outside of the fridge. Great for boiling, terrific sautéed with some sage and butter.
Garlic – These bulbs are also freshly dug and need to be stored in the fridge rather than the pantry. Use soon in pesto! Or combine with your summer squash and toss with basil and olive oil for a wonderful Italian saute.