Thursday, June 24, 2010

Variety...the spice of life!

There are many times during our winter planning that we get a little giddy.

One of those times is when we put all of seed orders on one table and take in the ~150 varieties of vegetables we'll plant the coming season. The picture below is our coffee table full of very tiny seasons in very large packages!

As you'll see more and more, we plant in three main categories:

- Staples (carrots, broccoli, squash, etc.)
- Specialties (that we plant in smaller quantities but anxiously await each season, e.g. spigariello liscia)
- New experiments (which this year = pastured eggs! Available at a market near you soon....more to come)

Jeff and the crew seem to manage this variety in a stride -- understanding what each crop needs to best thrive (that is, their specific planting, watering, pest control, harvesting needs). It always seems to amaze me how that table of seeds turns into 7 acres of delicious veggies feeding our 50+ member families for a whole season. Enjoy!

Week 3: CSA Box

Below are the veggies that made their way into your CSA box this week!

We've included a few links to pictures and a some ideas:

Spinach - One easy way to preserve spinach is to blanch and freeze. We do this by dunking spinach in a large pot of hot water several times, removing from water and squeezing out access liquid. Put into tightly sealed bags or storage containers.

Chard - We all know our greens are delicious and healthy, but did you know Swiss chard as an excellent source of vitamin A on account of its concentrated beta-carotene content. Once inside the body, beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin A, so when you eat Swiss chard, it's like getting both these beneficial nutrients at once. One cup of Swiss chard contains just 35 calories, but provides 109.9% of the daily value for vitamin A.

Spigariello Liscia - Also known as leaf broccoli, it's a favorite amongst Italian chefs and
has a flavor somewhere between broccoli and kale. Simply Remove the leaf's center rib — it's as easy as removing the string from a sugar snap pea. The rib's toughness detracts from the delicate texture of the leaves. It is great lightly sauteed w/ a little olive oil and garlic and a little lemon juice at the end (maybe some toasted pine nuts too!)

Beets - We have been anxiously awaiting their arrival! They are tasty roasted at 400 deg., covered in foil until tender (30 min. - 1 hr.), drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar.

Escarole - This recipe just sounded delicious, give it a try: Last week for escarole!

Summer Squash & Zucchini


Garlic Scapes - Last week for scapes for the season - please enjoy your spring delicacy!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What's coming up? Here you go!

Hi all,

In response to your comments, we're providing our best guess at what will be in the box each week prior to providing you with the final list. Please note: this is subject to change based on many things, including challenging weather conditions. :)

Lettuce (variety TBD)
Summer Squash
Broccoli Spigarello (maybe)

Hope this helps with your menu planning!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Veggie CSA Boxes This Week

Here are the things you'll find in your box this week. Check out earlier posts for good ideas on how to prepare:

- Escarole - Holds a special place in our heart, as it was our first crop to succeed in our first year of farming. Extremely healthy and often overlooked, it's delicious with a touch of sweet (e.g., honey, raisins) like this recipe:

- Chinese/Napa Cabbage - With its rich concentration of vitamin C, A, folate, manganese and fiber, it's a nice change of pace from the regular cabbage. Try this:

- Green Garlic

- Scapes

- Hakuri Turnips

- Spinach

- Bibb Lettuce

- Chard - Like kale or spinach, its a wonderful cooking green to be used in just about anything. It's one of Owen's favorite quiche additions:

- Arugula (bunched) - Better for cooking (due to its size), add olive oil, garlic and wilt like you would spinach. We love as a bed for fish, but also delicious as a side dish or in pasta. You can eat in a salad as well.

Happy eating!

the off-farm farmers

Is there such a thing as an 'off-farm farmer'? Well, this is how we like to think about my (Jen) role at the farm. It's a bit of a stretch to think that I'm as well versed in agriculture as Jeff, or as lean and fit as many of our farming friends. But as the other half of the farming family, myself and the kids play a role in the farm.

What is that role? Generally, I work to help think through the planting and planning for the season. This year, we've done A LOT of planning for this season including determining the vision for our farm 2 to 5 years from now. And of course, I tend to do a lot of the sales and marketing for the farm (my full time job is as an Account Supervisor at Hanson Dodge Creative in Milwaukee).

Like most family farms, we do a lot of juggling. Jeff tends to do the creative cooking (he smoked nearly 1/4 freezer worth of pork a few weekends ago!) and teaches the kids the basics like how to ride their bikes. I preserve vegetables and fruit throughout the summer months, while taking the kids to swimming lessons. We all spend at least a part of our weekend doing something fun together, which many times includes walks at the farm to walk Sally Mae (our dog), play with the pigs and check Owen's growing "cukes."

The best part of our family farm is that we enjoy every piece of the farm together -- from the delicious salads we enjoy each evening in early summer; to the cool summer evenings when we sit in the field and eat cherry tomatoes at the end of a busy day; to the winters when we visit our spinach under the snow. Farming has taught us all to take time to enjoy the little things. And appreciate the whatever comes your way...even if it isn't what you expected!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A couple recipies

Garlic Scape & Almond Pesto - scapes are also great on pizza
Quick Braised Kale with Oil and Vinegar - we make this all the time. I like to add garlic (or green garlic) & a little red pepper flakes. We usually use balsamic vinegar instead of champagne, you don't need much). This is also a good way to prepare spinach too.
Spinach and Green Garlic Soufflé - a little labor intensive but delicious!
Green Garlic Mashed Potatoes - also good with scapes if you want a little crunch.

Veggie storage

Now that veggies are starting to move out of the field and into your kitchens I thought I would give you a couple quick tips on vegetable storage.
  • Most vegetables like to stay cold after they are harvested, so the sooner you can get them home and in your fridge the better. Most crops like to be kept below 40 degrees, this includes greens, beets, lettuce, broccoli, radishes, etc. These veggies you definitely want to refrigerate right away. Other crops would prefer it a little warmer (40-50 deg.) but still should be kept in your fridge. These include cukes, summer squash, zucchini, & peppers. You should not put your tomatoes in the fridge, we keep them on the counter out of the sun with the stem side down. The only time we put tomatoes in the fridge is after they have been cut. Store potatoes some where cool dark and dry. Same for onions except they should be stored separate because they can flavor other vegetables.
  • A close second to temperature is moisture loss. Just about everything that goes into your fridge should also be in a plastic bag or container so it doesn't dry out.
  • Keep things whole until you are ready to use them. Also avoid damaging the skin, especially on squash and cucumbers.
  • Root crops (beets, turnips, carrots) with greens keep better when the greens are removed and stored separate. Otherwise the green will continue to draw moisture out of the root.
  • A soak in cold water for a couple minutes can help out if something is looking a little droopy.
I hope that helps keep your veggies fresher longer after you get them home. We work very hard to handle everything in the best way possible so that it stay fresh and delicious as long as possible.

Don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Veggies are ready for eating!

Welcome to the first week of the CSA program! We are very excited to finally start the season. The first week of harvest is a highly anticipated time around the farm. We have been working for months planting, weeding & tending to fields of vegetables and now is when we get to see the payoff from all our hard work.

Food is why we started farming, we have a deep respect for the food we eat, how it is grown & where it comes from. Over the years we have come realize that it wasn't just the food that we loved so much about farming but being able to share the food we grow with others; this is really what we enjoy the most. We look forward to sharing the season with you!

In this weeks box you'll find:
  • Red or Green Kale - First cut the center rib from the leaf then chop. Lightly simmer kale until it is tender. Serve with diced scapes or green garlic and drizzled in olive oil and a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar.
  • Salad mix
  • Hakurei Turnips - we also call these salad turnips. More mild & sweeter than a regular turnip. Try them raw, chopped in a salad or lightly sautéed in butter.
  • Red & Green Bibb lettuce - sweet and tender
  • Green garlic - Also called garlic scallions, this is baby garlic before the cloves are fully formed and the papery skin has developed. Use it like you would regular garlic.
  • Garlic Scapes (pictured here) - These are a true spring treat! Immature garlic flowers, the whole thing is edible. The lower part tends to be more tender and we like it in salad in place of scallions. It is also delicious sautéed with vegetables.
  • French Breakfast Radishes - A little sweeter and more mild than a regular radish. Tasty on their own or in a salad or chopped finely and mixed with soft butter as a spread for bread.
  • Spinach - Steam sauté or boil - throw into just about anything!
P.S. Please remember to return your box each week, thank you!