Thursday, September 30, 2010

Week 17 CSA box

In your box this week:
Leeks - Leek has a mild onion-like taste, less bitter than scallion. The taste might be described as a mixture of mild onion and cucumber, with a fresh smell similar to scallion. In its raw state, the vegetable is crunchy and firm.

Beets - With wonderful texture and an earthy, nutty flavor. They're nutritious and filling. They can be juiced, boiled, pickled, cooked in soups, mashed, sliced in salads, or roasted. Although they have the highest sugar content of all vegetables, they are very low in calories. Beet Cabbage Cole Slaw (Kohlrabi would be good in this too). Roasted Beet Salad with Beet Greens and Feta. Roasted Beet Dip


Mesclun Mix - Dea Dia's own with Arugula, Tokyo Bekana and Baby Beet Greens

Broccoli - One of our fall favorites.
Roasted Broccoli
Serves 4. Published January 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.
Trim away the outer peel from the broccoli stalk, otherwise it will turn tough when cooked. For Roasted Broccoli with Garlic, stir 1 tablespoon minced garlic into the olive oil before drizzling it over the broccoli.
1large head broccoli (about 1 3/4 pounds)
3tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2teaspoon table salt
1/2teaspoon sugar
Ground black pepper
Lemon wedges for serving
1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place large rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Cut broccoli at juncture of florets and stems; remove outer peel from stalk. Cut stalk into 2- to 3-inch lengths and each length into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Cut crowns into 4 wedges if 3-4 inches in diameter or 6 wedges if 4-5 inches in diameter. Place broccoli in large bowl; drizzle with oil and toss well until evenly coated. Sprinkle with salt, sugar, and pepper to taste and toss to combine.
2. Working quickly, remove baking sheet from oven. Carefully transfer broccoli to baking sheet and spread into even layer, placing flat sides down. Return baking sheet to oven and roast until stalks are well browned and tender and florets are lightly browned, 9 to 11 minutes. Transfer to serving dish and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Kohlrabi - The taste and texture of kohlrabi are similar to those of a broccoli stem or cabbage heart, but milder and sweeter, with a higher ratio of flesh to skin. The young stem in particular can be as crisp and juicy as an apple, although much less sweet.
Kohlrabi Slaw
serves 2 3 medium kohlrabi, peeled, stems trimmed off, grated
1/3 purple cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, grated
1/2 red onion, grated
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp cider vinegar
4 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/4 cup mayonnaise (or more, if you prefer Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Chill for several hours before serving.

Tatsoi (mustard spinach) - Delicious in salads or lightly cooked like spinach.

Havarti, Parsley, and Garlic Cheese Ball
makes about 10 ounces6 ounces of Havarti cheese
4 ounces (half a package) full-fat cream cheese
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and trimmed
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon horseradish (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup toasted pine nutsLet the cheeses sit out at room temperature for about an hour to soften. Whir the toasted pine nuts in a small food processor briefly, just until they are cracked into smaller bits. Remove and set aside on a large plate. Blend the the garlic, parsley and horseradish to a paste in the food processor, then add the cheeses. Blend until well mixed. Taste and add salt and pepper.Let the mixture firm up the fridge then roll into a ball and coat with cracked pine nuts. Serve with whole grain crackers.



Salad turnips

1 lb bag of garlic - Garlic keeps well if stored in a cool dark place. We also Roast Garlic and freeze it in an ice cube tray so we have some ready when we want it. ***Grayslake and Lake Bluff pickups will get garlic this week and Deerfield and Milwaukee pickups will get garlic next week.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dea Dia featured at Locavore Dinner

We were recently a part of a locavore dinner here at Prairie Crossing that was captured on video. What a great event!

This dinner was a way for all of us (organizers, farmers, chef, supporters) to share our local bounty together and celebrate the hard work that goes into bringing food to our tables. There was a video crew shooting the event, which now provides an opportunity for the Farm Business Development Center to better explain how we all work together in this effort.

Check out a description of the event by organized Jim Javenkoski here and the video featuring your very own farmer, Jeff!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

In Your Box This Week (Week 16)

Hi all!

Hope you've had a great week, enjoying this summer-type weather! The plants are a bit confused, but soaking up the warmth and producing well. Here's what is in your box this week. Enjoy!

- Kale

- Parsnips

- Turnips

Root Vegetable Gratin

1 1/2 pounds rutabaga (about 1 small)
1 pound white turnips (about 5 medium)
3/4 pound parsnips (about 5 medium)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups grated Gruyère (about 5 ounces)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk

With a sharp knife peel rutabaga and cut into 1/8-inch-thick wedges. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water cook rutabaga until crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes, and transfer with a slotted spoon to a colander. Drain rutabaga and pat dry between paper towels.

Peel turnips and cut into 1/8-inch-thick wedges. Cook turnips in boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes, and transfer with slotted spoon to colander. Drain turnips and pat dry between paper towels.

Peel parsnips and cut diagonally into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Cook parsnips in boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes, and transfer with slotted spoon to colander. Drain parsnips and pat dry between paper towels.

In a bowl toss together vegetables. Vegetables may be cooked 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

Preheat oven to 350° F. and butter a 2-quart gratin dish, about 12 by 9 by 2 inches.

In gratin dish arrange one third vegetables and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon flour, 1/4 cup Gruyère, and salt and pepper to taste. Top cheese with half of remaining vegetables, remaining tablespoon flour, 1/4 cup cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange remaining vegetables over cheese and pour cream and milk over vegetables.

Sprinkle remaining 3/4 cup cheese over vegetables and bake in middle of oven, covered, 30 minutes. Uncover gratin and bake until bubbling and golden, about 40 minutes more. (Gourmet | November 1996)

- Kohlrabi - A member of the brassica family, kohlrabi is crisp and refreshing in flavor. Use kohlrabi in crudités, coleslaw, kohlrabi pancakes, or the recipe that follows:

Kohlrabi and Mâche Salad (Gourmet | November 2008)

3 medium kohlrabi (2 pounds total)
1/2 small red onion
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 ounces mâche (lamb’s lettuce; 4 cups) or other small tender lettuce

Equipment: an adjustable-blade slicer

Peel kohlrabi. Slice very thin with slicer and put in a bowl.

Slice onion very thin with slicer, then rinse in a sieve and pat dry. Stir into kohlrabi.

Stir together lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper, then stir in oil and capers. Pour over vegetables. Toss with mâche, then serve immediately. Yield: Makes 8 servings

- Hon-Tsai-Tai - This beautiful vegetable is not only is this a very tasty vegetable, but also prized in Oriental fried meat dishes. Pleasing, mild mustard taste for use raw in salads or lightly cooked in stir-fries or soups.

Slice the leaves into thin shreds before cooking them. If you're using them in a stir fry, add them early. Braising like collards would be a good application if you wanted to leave them whole. They can have a somewhat bitter taste when cooked. Consider sweet sauces or just adding a pinch of sugar for contrast.

- Tatsoi - 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 ofspinach in your favorite recipe.

- Broccoli

- Red Head Lettuce

- Tomatoes

- Eggplant

- Green Pepper

- Basil

- Onion

- Garlic

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Vacation for a farmer?

Well, we've never done this before but we're giving it a shot....we're taking a vacation during the farming season! Granted, we're going to cottage near the Indiana Dunes and it's only for a Friday & Saturday night...BUT it's a big deal for us! We've entrusted our animals to dear CSA members. Our markets are covered by our fellow farmers and crew members. Everyone is pitching in to allow us this time to be with with our extended family.

The reason this is important enough to make a blog post is because this has always been a dream of ours. There are plenty of veggie farmers who vacation in the winter. But we know a small set of farmers that take a short family vacation in the summertime. We never thought this would be possible given plants and animals generally do not take such holidays! We're not extremely busy all the time but we do collect eggs each day, feed and water animals every day and watch the weather like a hawk to time out what we should do and when.

We cherish this day-to-day routine. It keeps us connected to the land, the changes of the season and the ongoing health and well-being of our animals. But this weekend, we're going to listen to the Lake Michigan waves and rest. We'll be back Sunday (whew). :)

Week 14: Your CSA Box

It was a rainy harvest today, but very productive! Here's what is in your box & a couple of ideas of how to use it:

Red & Green Romaine Lettuce

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!

Green Peppers


Hakeuri Turnips

Russett Potatoes

Chard (see earlier blog posts for great ideas)

Butternut Squash - These will keep for months if stored in a cool spot. This is a great recipe for Southeast Asian Squash Curry that we enjoyed this week with our squash (use your chard in place of the spinach for a CSA box meal).


Greens Beans (Haricot Vert or Romano/Italian Flat) - Romanos are wide and flat. Also known as Italian Green Beans, these are a little meatier than regular green beans. Use them the same way you would any other green bean or try them tossed w/ olive oil and garlic roasted in a 450 deg. oven for 15-20 min. turning once.

The Haricot Verts are long, skinny and also known as
“French green beans.” When lightly cooked, haricot verts are tender, crispy, and very tasty, with a hint of sweetness. Briefly blanch them and add them to salads or as a side dish.

Chives w/flowers - Use chives as normal (sprinkle on your baked russet potatoes!). The flowers are also edible and can be sprinkled on salads or used as a garnish.

Eggplant (small amount) - We just wanted to make sure you had a chance to try eggplant before the end of our season. It was a rough year for eggplant at all of the Prairie Crossing Farms. We love eggplant grilled with garlic olive oil on a sandwich with goat cheese & tomato.

Your anticipated CSA box this week

Here's what your box will include:

Red & Green Romaine Lettuce
Green Peppers
Hakeuri Turnips
Beauty Heart Radishes
Russett Potatoes
Butternut Squash
Greens Beans (Haricot Vert or Romano/Italian Flat)

It may include (depending on the downpour this afternoon):
? - Chives
? - Eggplant and/or Tomatillos

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Week 14: Your CSA Box This Week

In your box this week, you'll find:

- Mixed heirloom cherry tomatoes (pictured here!)

- Sweet corn - This is our last sweet corn of the season. Use it soon after you receive for maximum sweetness, or freeze to preserve for a delicious winter treat!

Try it with this sun-dried tomato butter flavored butter:

1/4 cup butter, softened
2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes (about 6 large), softened in boiling water and chopped
2 tablespoon Italian parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped

Using a spoon, mix butter with respective ingredients. Roll each into a log shape and wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper. Refrigerate until firm, 2 to 3 hours, then soften to room temperature before serving with corn on cob.
Source: epicurious,com

- Beets

- Butternut squash - This winter squash has a similar flavor to a pumpkin or sweet potato.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Brown Butter and Nutmeg

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

2 pounds butternut squash (about 1 large), halved, seeded, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated whole nutmeg or ground nutmeg
Additional nutmeg (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Place squash on sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat; arrange squash in single layer. Bake squash until brown and very tender when pierced with fork, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Transfer to bowl.

Melt butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat until foam subsides and butter turns nut-brown, about 4 minutes. Pour over squash; stir lightly to coat. Toss with more salt and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Sprinkle with more nutmeg and serve.

Serve this with roast turkey, lamb, or pork.

Yield: Makes 4 side-dish servings

Source: Bon Appétit

- Hakurei turnips or French breakfast radishes - Similar to previous posts, our favorite way to use both of these delights is as additions to a party crudités and dip.

Try with this Lemon-Garlic Aioli:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 5 garlic cloves, put through a garlic press
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Source:

- Kennebec potatoes - Unlike your standard Russet, Kennebecs are getting quite the reputation as the french fry potato of choice (maybe due to In-n-Out Burger's use of the variety). The Kennebec potato has a golden-buffed skin, white fleshy inside, and a nice uniform appearance. The skin is thin so it peals quickly and we'd recommend using sooner rather than later (to prevent spoilage). Use as you would a russet...maybe for homemade french fries. :)

- Beauty heart radishes - (see linked picture) These large, round white roots have a crisp texture and a mild to sweet peppery flavor, sweetest in the magenta center. This radish can be cooked like a turnip, creamed and served as a side dish, sautéed and braised to be served as a vegetable dish, or added to stir-fry dishes. The skin can be removed prior to preparing. It can also be served raw to be used as hors d'oeuvres, as a complement to salads and sandwiches or diced for use in soups and stews. The color of the inner flesh makes it an attractive sliced radish for an appetizer tray or for sandwiches.

Radish Sandwiches with Dill Butter
1/2 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced 10 1/4-inch-thick diagonal slices baguette or other crusty bread sea salt or coarse kosher salt

In a small bowl, combine butter and dill. Spread butter generously over baguette slices and sprinkle lightly with sea salt or coarse kosher salt. Arrange radish slices atop buttered baguette slices.

- Fresh dill

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Week 13 CSA Box

In your box this week, you'll find:
  • French Fingerling Potatoes - Try this recipe for Perfect Fingerling Potatoes. It is a lot of salt, I have made it w/ less and it still works out. After a couple minutes on the cooling rack they will sparkle with crystallized salt. Nothing else needed!
  • Salad Mix - We had a little problem counting this week (it's not as easy as you'd think after a morning in the field! :)) so a couple boxes are missing salad mix. To make up for it we added a second bag of arugula and some extra carrots for you.
  • Arugula - Arugula Pesto is great on pasta, shrimp, sandwiches or as a sauce for pizza.
  • Sweet Corn - Please forgive the ear worms, there is no good way to control them organically. If you notice some brown at the top of an ear just cut the top off and cook like normal. As one market customer told me her grandma used to say, "If the worms don't like it, why would I?"
  • Leeks - Sauté in butter and mix with your taters.
  • Carrots
  • Beefsteak Tomatoes - Our tomatoes are rapidly winding down but we though you should get a few more so we harvested these from our neighbor, Sandhill Organics' vines.
  • Hon Tsai Tai - Delicious lightly sautéed with olive oil and garlic, or added at the end of your favorite stir fry. Eat the stems (except the thickest part at the bottom) and greens, its all tasty!
  • Acorn or Delicata Squash
  • Garlic
  • Onions

Changing Seasons: The Season of Change Approaching

I can feel fall approaching. It's the time of year we all change gears.

The days are getting shorter, crop growth is beginning to slow and school has started (Owen, our oldest, started kindergarten last week and is taking the bus to school -- a big deal for all of us!). It is always around this time of year that I look ahead to next year. To some extent, there isn't much I can change for this season. While we are still doing some planting, we are mostly harvesting and maintaining what we have already planted. As a result, I look at things to survey what has worked well (potatoes, squash) and what we might want to change for the future (hilling corn, more fertility for tomatoes).

The weekly schedule also starts to change this time of year. We were planting in the early week and harvesting in the later. Nowadays we will start clearing finished crops out, applying compost for next year's fertility and planting cover crops to protect and build our soils over the winter. We're planning the work we'll continue into winter and the educational conferences we'll attend in the early spring.

This is part of what I love about farming. The work is always changing. There is endless room for learning and improvement. Change no longer scares me or makes me nervous like it did when I first went to school -- it makes me breathe and encourages me to take a moment to appreciate our season.