Thursday, August 26, 2010

CSA Picnic: Delicious Fun!

Thanks to those who attended the annual CSA picnic!

We had a great turn out and a lot of fun, too! We hope you had a good time and didn’t leave hungry J

A couple of follow up notes:

- Found: William Sonoma Salad Tongs. If these are yours, please let us know and we’ll put them in your CSA box!

- Pictures Needed! We’d like to have pictures from the event (we didn’t take any) for our memories and our marketing materials. If you took any good pictures and would be willing to share, we’d appreciate! Simply email them to us & we’ll post the best to our Facebook page.

- Share Your Recipe! The food was OUTSTANDING and many wanted to exchange recipes. We’d love it if you’d share your picnic recipes on our Discussion Board on our Facebook page. Simply search for “Dea Dia Organics” and click on the tab to share!

- Feedback is welcome! Every year, we strive to make our CSA picnic better. Please let us know your thoughts via email or Facebook. Thank you!

Thanks again and have a great rest of your summer!

the miller family

Week 12: Your CSA Box

We hope you've had a great week!

It's been a good one at the farm, including a trip to Chicago for Jeff this week. If you head out to eat at Uncommon Ground on Devon this week, you may notice a familiar fingerling potatoes on the menu. We're partnering with our friend and Executive Chef, Brian Millman, to provide our freshest fare to one of our favorite green Chicago restaurants. If you haven't already, give them a visit!

We hope you'll enjoy your fingerlings this week, too! In your box this week, you'll find:

Chard - Unlike our usual bunches, these bunches include everything from small to large leaves. There's a lot of salad mixing you can do this week with the smaller leaves (see suggestions below).

Stir-Fry/Braising Mix - The mix includes items such as Hon Tsai Tai, Komatsuna, Red Russian kale, Southern Giant and Red Giant mustards, and Tatsoi for great flavor and color.
Tat Soi - We love this green so much that we grow it separately from our stir fry mix. Tat soi tastes like a milder version of mustard greens (sometimes called mustard spinach) and has a texture similar to bok choy. It's high in minerals, vitamins, and health-promoting antioxidants. We love to eat raw in salads or cooked like spinach and used in place of spinach in your favorite recipe.

Baby Beet Greens - Mix these into your salad mix, arugula or take some of the smaller chard leaves and make a mixed salad with this spicy Mediterranean dressing recipe!

Salad Mix


Red/Yellow Onions



Okra - Every year, we experiment with a few crops and this year was our first year with okra. There are only a few in your box, but throw them into a gumbo recipe and let us know what you think!

Heirloom Purple Tomatillos - Here's our favorite tomatillo salsa recipe:

Tomatillo Salsa
Gourmet | September 2007

Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez

Yield: Makes about 2 cups
Active Time: 20 min
Total Time: 45 min
1 pound fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and quartered
1 fresh serrano chile, seeded and chopped
1/2 large white onion, cut into 4 wedges
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Coarsely purée tomatillos, chile, onion, garlic, water, and 1 teaspoon salt in a blender. Transfer to a large heavy skillet and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature, then stir in cilantro, lime juice, and salt to taste.

Heirloom Tomatoes - Here's the one minute salsa recipe from our picnic:

Makes about 1 cup.

This quick salsa can be made with either fresh or canned tomatoes, but if you're using fresh, make sure they are sweet, ripe, in-season tomatoes. If they aren't, canned tomatoes are a better choice.

1/2small jalapeño chile or 1/2 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced
1/4small red onion , peeled and root end removed
1small clove garlic , minced or pressed
2tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
1/4teaspoon table salt
pinch ground black pepper
2teaspoons lime juice from 1 lime
2small tomatoes (about 3/4 pound), ripe, each cored and cut into eighths, or one (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

Pulse all ingredients except tomatoes in food processor until minced, about five 1-second pulses, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. Add tomatoes and pulse until roughly chopped, about two 1-second pulses.

  1. The salsa can be refrigerated, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days. Season with additional lime juice and salt before serving.

Fingerling Potatoes - Delicious roasted in your oven on a pan with olive oil, kosher salt & fresh ground pepper.

Ground Cherries - Pictured here, these are a sweet delicacy of summer. In the same family as a tomatillo, you simply remove the husk (pinch at bottom) and fruit will peek through. Then, eat the center cherry -- orange color is ripe, and green-ish needs more time to ripen. Some describe ground cherries (or husk cherries) as somewhere between a pineapple and tomato in flavor. We can barely get them into a recipe (they are a favorite for snacking!), but if you can, use them to create a simple salsa for pork or as an addition to your salad. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Week 11: CSA Box

This weeks CSA box includes:
  • Sweet Corn - This is the second harvest of sweet corn so we didn't have as much corn. We do have a second planting that is 2-3 weeks behind the first planting so corn will be back in a couple weeks.

  • Curly Green Kale -
Kale Chips

adapted from Stacie Billis at

1 bunch kale, torn into 1-2″ pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sea salt

Preheat oven to 400° F. Whisk oil and vinegar and toss kale in the dressing until thoroughly coated.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place kale on sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 15 minutes or so, until crispy.

• Check out Stacie's blog for recipes and tips for cooking for kids at ChowMama.comand the ChowBaby baby food website.

  • Red & Green Romaine Lettuce
  • Poblano Pepper - Dark green medium size and hot
  • Green Peppers - Lighter green. I made something similar to this recipe a couple weeks ago. I skipped making the flavoring and used mix of green, poblano and chile peppers. I just finely chopped and mixed them raw with the warm rice. It was delicious and very fresh tasting.
  • Chile
  • Thyme
  • Baby Salad
  • Basil
  • Purslane - Some of you may recognize this as a weed but is also delicious to eat. It has a slightly sour and salty taste and is eaten throughout much of Europe, Asia and Mexico. The stems, leaves and flower buds are all edible. Purslane can be used fresh as a salad, stir-fried, or cooked like spinach. Purslane contains more Omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid in particular) than any other leafy vegetable plant.
  • Heirloom Tomatoes
We also wanted to give you a brief update on a couple crops. There is something causing our peppers and eggplant to loose their flowers. Everything else looks healthy but without flowers we won't get any fruit. It looks like the plants maight be staging a comeback and we are looking into causes and cures but we wanted to give you a heads up the we might not get much from these crops. We will keep you up to date with any developments.

Pay it forward

We have been fortunate to have many people mentor us over the years, making themselves available to advise us about farming and running a business. This has really sped up our learning curve and helped us grow much faster than we would have otherwise. In order to pass on the generosity given to us, we try to help out other farms who are just getting started. We have always shared our experiences with the other farms at Prairie Crossing. Also this year we started to mentor Dominic & Jessica Green, a family starting a new farm in Barrington. We try to be very open with Dominic and Jessica answering questions, advising them on solutions to problems, and sharing our information and planning. It is great to see new farms getting started! Plus Dominic and Jessica have already helped us out a great deal this year they work at our Lake Bluff farmers' market and Dominic stepped in to help us in the field. This cooperation and friendship is something that we think benefits everyone -- our farm, their farm and our communities -- and builds a strong farming community, too!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thank you, Prairie Farm Corps!

This week, we had the very nice to surprise to have 10 volunteers at our farm from the Prairie Farm Corps!

The Prairie Farm Corps is made up of young adults ages 16-18 that participate for a summer on the Prairie Crossing Learning Farm. On the farm they plant and grow crops, care for a flock of chickens, harvest crops and eggs, and prepare and sell them at market. The goal of the program is to increase work opportunities and job skills training for young adults in central Lake County Illinois while also increasing their connections to their food system, environment, and community.

They came to our farm for an hour of hand weeding and learning (on a 90 degree day no less!). This work was VERY needed and appreciated....and the kids kept Jeff quite entertained, too :)

To learn more about our friends at the Learning Farm, please visit their site!

Guess what's in your box this week?

Yes, the sweet corn is here again! Those of you with us last know that we missed having it last year and this year, our corn is the pride of the Prairie Crossing Farms. We hope you enjoy eating it as much as we enjoy growing it!

In this week's CSA box, you'll find:
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Acorn squash - "Winter squash" has come early this year! Store your squash somewhere cool and dry, and it will last until the fall/winter months.
  • Sweet corn - One of our most challenging and most rewarding crops to grow, this year's sweet corn is delicious (trust us, we eat it in the fields for a snack!). To grill, simply soak water (with husk on) for 10-20 minutes prior to grilling along side your dinner.*
*Please note: Organic sweet corn is difficult to grow for a number of reasons including pests. You may find a section of your corn that has seen some pest damage. We've sorted through them the ears but we don't open the corn so they may exist. If you do find these areas, it is safe to cut off and enjoy the rest of the corn cob.
  • Cherry/Salad tomatoes
Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed with Marinated Feta Bon Appétit | July 2009

1 7-to 8-ounce package feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling

1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 pound large cherry tomatoes
12 pitted Kalamata olives, halved lengthwise

Toss cubed feta, oil, shallot, and oregano in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut 12 tomatoes crosswise in half. Scoop out tomato pulp with melon baller or small spoon. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on serving plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Stuff hollowed cherry tomatoes with marinated feta. Slide in olive half alongside cheese. Drizzle with additional olive oil. DO AHEAD: Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings
  • Arugula Mix - A mix of mostly arugula with Asian greens, mustard & baby kale. Try it in this recipe:

Open-Face Bacon-and-Egg Sandwiches with Arugula Bon Appétit | March 2007

5 bacon slices, halved crosswise

1 (4-inch) square ciabatta or focaccia bread, halved horizontally
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 large thin tomato slices

1 small shallot, chopped
1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 cup (packed) arugula

2 large eggs
Parmesan cheese shavings

Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until brown and crisp; transfer to paper towels to drain.

Wipe out skillet. Brush cut sides of bread with 1 tablespoon oil. Place bread, cut sides down, in skillet. Cook over medium heat until golden, about 3 minutes. Place 1 bread square, golden side up, on each of 2 plates. Top each with half of bacon, then 2 tomato slices.

Whisk 1 tablespoon oil, shallot, and vinegar in medium bowl to blend. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Add arugula and toss to coat.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium heat. Crack eggs into skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until whites are set and yolks are cooked as desired. Top each bread stack with egg, then arugula and cheese. Yield: Makes 2 servings

  • Yellow Potatoes
  • Cippollini Onions
  • Golden & Chioggia Beets

Name:Goat Cheese and Beet Crostini
¾ pound beets (about 2 medium or 4 small)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cheese spread:

5 ounces fresh goat cheese
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
24 (1/2-inch-thick) slices diagonally cut French bread baguette, toasted

Preheat oven to 375°. To prepare beets, leave root and 1 inch of stem & scrub with a brush. Place in saucepan & cover with cold water. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until just tender when pricked with a fork. Drain, cool, & rub off skins, tops & roots. Cut beets crosswise into 1/8-inch slices. Should have about 24 slices.

In a medium bowl combine the vinegar, rind, juice, salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add sliced beets; toss gently to coat.

To prepare cheese spread, combine goat cheese, mayonnaise, pepper, and garlic in a small bowl. Spread each baguette slice with 1 teaspoon cheese mixture; top with 3 slightly overlapping slices of beet.
  • Garlic
  • Basil

Thursday, August 5, 2010


We once heard another farm family say their motto was, "Make no big decisions in August." This is something we have taken to heart over the years. August tends to be the time when all of our spring work is coming to fruition. The weeds are still growing like crazy but new crops seem to be ready each week. August is also long enough into the season to start thinking about changes, improvement and big ideas for next year. This is when Jen reminds me of the motto. So we talk a lot about how things are going and what we might want to change but resolve to make a note and come back to it later in the year when things have calmed down a bit and we can think a little more clearly.

That said, August is one of the best months of the season. The farm is in full swing, animals are fully grown, our most anticipated crops decorate the field with color, and the crew has settled into more of a routine. And it's the time of year we enjoy celebrating the season with eating outside and preserving what we can for a time of year we're allowed to make big decisions - winter! :)

Week 9: CSA Box

Here's what's in your box this week with some tips and recipes:
  • Red Beets
Roasted Beet Salad w/ Barley, Feta & Garlic Chives
Ingredients:1 cup dry pearl barley
1 bunch of beets, tops removed
1/3 cup minced garlic chives
2-3 ounces crumbled feta
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Loosely wrap the beets in tin foil and roast in the oven until they are just fork tender--30 - 45 minutes. Peel and dice the beets into small cubes. Meanwhile, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add the barley and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the barley is al dente, about 30 minutes. If there is extra liquid in the pot, drain the barley, return it to the pan and set aside. Cover with a clean dishtowel until ready to use. Combine barley, beets, feta, and garlic chives in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the lemon juice and olive oil over the top and toss to coat. Source:adapted from
  • Specialty Beets: Chiogga Beets (bright red and striped on the inside) or Gold Beets Shaved Beet and Arugula Salad
  • Purple & Yellow Potatoes
  • Summer Squash: This may be the last week for squash so we thought we would bring it back for what might be the last time. For some interesting new ideas check out 15 Spectacular Recipes for Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Pattypan & More
  • Arugula Mix - A mix of mostly arugula with Asian greens, mustard & baby kale. Delicious in salads, on sandwiches, or in the recipe above.
  • Mixed Tomatoes- Red slicer, Green Zebra, Brandywine, and Cosmonaut Volkov
  • Red & Yellow Onions
  • Eggplant or Tomatillos - Our favorite way to cook eggplant is on the grill. Tomatillos are best cooked in salsa or sauces for pork or chicken.
  • Green Peppers
  • Broccoli - The summer heat can give broccoli a bitter flavor. This broccoli is best cooked rather than raw.
  • Delicata Squash - Halve the squash lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut each piece in half again. Drizzle the squash with olive oil. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and sugar. Top with cracked pepper and fresh thyme sprigs. Bake at 425º for 30 minutes. These will hold well in a warm oven if they finish before you are ready to serve them. If they look dry, you can “refresh” them with a little drizzle of olive oil.
  • Parsley
  • Chives