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Monthly Archives: June 2012

When we move a tray of plants out of the greenhouse or tunnel and into the field, we give each individual one steady drink of water with the hose. This is called “watering in,” and it’s not so different from showing up with jello mold to say welcome to your new neighborhood. On hot days, Austin says that you can hear the transplants thanking you as you water them into the ground, but today all I hear are the sounds of slurping. Thank you is implied and not so much necessary. But thank you for growing, I would say back, I know that this is stressful for you. Moving is hard.

Heat spiking daily. Summer arrives as a wave: first the potatoes then the basil; beets bulge; small specks of orange dot themselves along the tomato trellises; hands paddle the stream of squash; corn tufts out, little pink beards growing out of its ears; every piece of clothing drenched in sweat.

In the South end of the eighth field, a hot tundra. Squash tendrils reaching out and grasping to pull the vines along the lonesome, cracking ground.

But, across the farm, in the shorter high tunnel, a tropical wetland and a bed of ginger roots raising leafy flags to the sun.

Well, you all must have noticed from their abundance at pick ups and our offer of unlimited “pick your own,” that we have excess of snap peas over here. We actually feel a little bit like we’re swimming with them over here, so they seemed like an obvious choice for this week’s spotlight vegetable. So, if you’re looking for a way to use up the twelve pounds of peas that you picked here over the weekend, or if you just want a few more creative options for the quart that you get at pick-up, we’ve got you covered.

On hot nights, for instance, you can (and, I think, should) try what we tried for the hot, hot solstice on Wednesday: chilled mint and snap pea soup. (We had it with a side of fresh summer rolls, an excellent recipe for which you can find here).

We were too busy eating and not busy enough taking pictures of this meal, but the soup is the green stuff way in the back.

You don’t need too many ingredients, just:

  • 1 large potato of any variety, cubed
  • 3 cups vegetable stock (though chicken stock or water would both be just fine in a pinch)
  • 5 cups sugar snap peas, washed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 8 leaves butter lettuce
  • 1 sprig of parsley, chopped (about a tablespoon)
  • about 1/4-1/2 cup of mint leaves (to taste)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1 large or 2 small onions or 1 bunch scallions
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1-2 tablespoons of oil of your choice (I used olive oil)

Then all you want to do is this:

  1. Saute the onions, garlic, lettuce, and parsley on medium heat until the onions are translucent and then add the stock and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the snap peas and cook for no longer than five minutes.
  4. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the mint leaves.
  5. Allow to cool slightly and then puree, either by transferring to a food processor (I had to do this in two batches) or by using an immersion blender.

Chill in the refrigerator– or, if you want to eat sooner rather than later– transfer the soup to a large bowl. Place this bowl in a larger bowl and fill the remainder of the large bowl with ice and water. Stir the soup until chilled (should be about five minutes).

If you want a richer soup, you can serve this with creme fraiche, Parmesan cheese, Greek yogurt, or a swirl of half and half. To keep it vegan, you could puree a non-dairy milk or yogurt or even silken tofu into the soup before cooling.

OK, so it’s not a picture of the kale and chick pea stiry-fry, but it is a stir-fry with snap peas. This one happened to have indian spices, potatoes, and tomatoes.

If you want something a little more substantial for dinner than soup, you could try Kayla’s delicious Friday-night stirfry. I asked her for the recipe, but, as would anyone who’s a  natural in the kitchen, “So I don’t think I have the exact recipe but basically I sauteed kale, snap peas, onions, and garlic together with some olive oil and added some chickpeas at the end. It was pretty simple.” There you have it! Easy weeknight dinner!

And, if you’re looking for a healthy side dish or something that you can bring with you to a potluck or cookout, I’d suggest Theresa’s mint, snap pea, and rice salad. (I’ve hyperlinked that last piece of text. Can you all tell when I have linked or not? Let me know if you can’t!) She served it with a stir-fry and these steal-the-show scallion crepes.

Anyone else out there cooking with snap peas this week? Let us know in the comments section!

Expected Harvest:
Each week I will send out a list of what we expect to harvest and distribute to our CSA members that week.  But, please remember that this list is just an estimate based on a quick walk-through of our fields and not a guarantee of what will be at the pick-ups.  What we are actually able to harvest may change according to how things look when we are out in the fields that day. 

New this week…
lemon cucumbers
flowers (snap dragons and black-eyed susan or rudbeckia)
fresh softneck garlic – variety: chet’s italian red
lacinato kale
new potatoes: most likely dark red norland (red-skinned, white interior)
purslane
bonus herbs: cilantro

Plus more of…
beets
cabbage – green and red
cucumbers – slicing and pickling
garlic scapes
kale – winterbor
kohlrabi
lettuce mix – a blend of red, green, and speckled loose leaf lettuces
onions – purplette (mini red onions)
peas – sugar snap or shell
scallions
summer squash, patty pan squash & zucchini (green or golden)
swiss chard
turnips – hakurei (the sweet, white variety)

Bonus Herbs:
basil

Future harvests…
Our head lettuce and French breakfast radishes have now finished for the spring.  We’ll probably have green beans, carrots and possibly eggplant on offer next week.  Our cherry tomatoes are also just starting to ripen, but we only picked about a pint today, so it might be a week or so until we have enough to offer at pick-ups.

 

So, we know that sometimes your CSA share can be a little daunting. (How do I store green garlic? How will I use all of these vegetables? What on earth am I supposed to do with the mutant-looking kohlrabi?) And, we know that your lives are busy enough that this isn’t always enough time to spend hours scouring recipe books and cooking blogs for the perfect thing to do with fresh spring peas. So, we’ve decided to take the challenge for you.

Starting this week: The Vegetable Spotlight Challenge. For Chefs. One week. One ingredient. Fame, glory, and four very full farmer bellies.

That’s right. Each week, the farmer’s over here are choosing one ingredient to highlight. Check in here on Mondays (I know, I know, I’m already running behind schedule this week) to find storage tips, cooking discussions, and recipes (with pictures!) from what we eat here in the farmhouse! Hopefully, this will give you some ideas as you plan out how to use your vegetables for the week.

First up, ahem, drum-roll please….. Garlic scapes! Those alluringly curly but potentially perplexing green rods. Maybe you’ve tried them, maybe you love them, maybe you’ve never been bold enough to choose a unit of them over a unit of spinach. Regardless, it’s time to give them a second look.

As we posted about earlier, garlic scapes are the reproductive part of the garlic plant. They grow out of the top of the bulb and begin forming little heads of cloves. Their taste is a little milder than a garlic bulb, but they can still pack a punch, and while you’re still waiting for the cured bulbs, scapes have a lot of the same health benefits as the other parts of the garlic plant. Plus, they’re more versatile than you think: you can eat them sauteed, grilled, chopped up like regular garlic, or pureed into soups of pestos. This week, our recipes feature oven-roasted crispy scapes, pasta and garlic scape pesto, and peanut and sesame noodles with vegetables and scapes.

On Monday, I roasted garlic scapes, which is insanely easy, but I somehow still managed to botch. Ideally, you want to follow one of two methods: 1) preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and roast for 8-15 minutes until the scapes are starting to brown on the edges (this is where I want wrong, by the way: I walked away from the oven, and they got quite crispy. They were still a hit at the farmhouse, though, where we’re always looking for potato chip alternatives.) or 2) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and roast for 25-25 minutes, until tender. Either way, roasting the scapes makes them mild and delectable enough to stand alone as a vegetable side dist with dinner. Plus, they look fancy enough to serve to company.

On Wednesday, Kayla broke out the Cuisinart and served up a garlic scape pesto with whole wheat pasta. She  felt that the pesto was too pungent in its raw state and sauteed it briefly before tossing it with the pasta. Whatever, she did, I have to tell you, it was freaking delicious. You can find a basic recipe here, but if you want to cook the pesto at all, I recommend cooking it before adding in the Parmesan and lemon. Whichever culinary path you decide to take, the end result is pretty versatile and could conceivably go well on any meal that you have often and would like to change up a bit: steak, grilled fish, pastas, roasted vegetables, omelets, sandwiches, or even just crackers.

And, finally, on one very hungry Thursday night, Theresa sauteed up all of the veggies below with an 8 oz package of soba noodles and this peanut sauce (though she used chunky peanut butter instead of smooth). The garlic scapes played well off of the creaminess of the peanut and sesame sauce. And, I’d bet that the rich creamy peanut sauce might be able to convince some of the pickier eaters you may know to have a few extra vegetables at dinner. On an only slightly related side-note, this is how many vegetables three of us can eat for one dinner alone.

Cooks out there, did you have any scapes this week? We’d love to know what you tried, what worked, what didn’t work. Post your own recipes in the comment section below!

Stay tuned for next week’s installment. At this very moment, our talented cooking farmers are hard at work trying to concoct as many pea recipes as they possibly can to give your dinners next week a little inspiration.

Expected Harvest:
Each week I will send out a list of what we expect to harvest and distribute to our CSA members that week.  But, please remember that this list is just an estimate based on a quick walk-through of our fields and not a guarantee of what will be at the pick-ups.  What we are actually able to harvest may change according to how things look when we are out in the fields that day. 

New this week…
purplette onions
summer squash and zucchini

Plus more of…
beets
cabbage – green and red
garlic scapes
kale – winterbor
kohlrabi
head lettuce – butterhead, red oakleaf, and green oakleaf varieties
lettuce mix – a blend of red, green, and speckled loose leaf lettuces
peas – sugar snap or snow or shell
radishes – french breakfast
scallions
swiss chard
turnips – hakurei (the sweet, white variety)

Bonus Herb:
dill

Future harvests…
Our spinach, broccoli and bok choy have finished for the spring.  And, this will most likely be our last week for head lettuce.  (But, we will continue to do our best to grow and harvest lettuce mix throughout the summer.)  The summer squash are now coming in and we may even have some cucumbers this week.  And, our main planting of peas is ready to pick, so we should be able to offer lots of sugar snap and shell peas this week.

Expected Harvest:
Each week I will send out a list of what we expect to harvest and distribute to our CSA members that week.  But, please remember that this list is just an estimate based on a quick walk-through of our fields and not a guarantee of what will be at the pick-ups.  What we are actually able to harvest may change according to how things look when we are out in the fields that day. 

New this week…
beets
bok choy – shuko (a smaller, green-stemmed variety)
cabbage – green or red
peas – shell

Plus more of…
beans – French variety
bok choy – joi choi (a large, white-stemmed variety)
broccoli
garlic scapes
kale – winterbor
kohlrabi
head lettuce – butterhead, red oakleaf, and green oakleaf varieties
lettuce mix – a blend of red, green, and speckled loose leaf lettuces
peas – sugar snap or snow or shell
radishes – french breakfast
scallions
spinach – large, but tender leaves of a savoyed variety
swiss chard
turnips – hakurei (the sweet, white variety)

Bonus Herbs:
basil

Future harvests…
This will most likely be the last week for our Spring spinach, and our broccoli harvest is also slowing.  Our main planting of peas is just starting to come in so we are hoping to have them at least for this and next week.  Soon (perhaps by next week) we will have summer squash and zucchini and the cucumbers won’t be too far behind.  Our purplette onions (mini, red onions) and potatoes are also sizing up nicely, so we are hoping to have some ready to harvest in a week or two.

Hot and dry and no guarantee for rain. 98 degrees today and vegetables in long queues for a drink: two-hundred-foot lines of plastic tape laid out over all the fields, dripping water drip by drip every six inches. Like ladling small spoonfuls of soup into infants’ mouths. First the water is on for three hours in the potatoes; then the squash gets two; and when will we get to the onions? Somewhere, a few fields away, the spinach is parched and waiting, and the stalks of chard are leaning into each other the way that I lean into the doorway to wipe sweat off the brow. Wasn’t it just a few days ago that it was too wet to work?, we try to remember, hoes in hand, scraping the weeds out of the parsnips, and the parsnips so small that we work at a careful crawl so as not to uproot them– the parsnips so small that we barely hear them as we pull away the chickweed and they gasp for air in tiny voices.

If it were a movie poster, this photo would read across the top, “June 2012: the Potatoes. Are. Coming.” Come to think of it, that’s brilliant. Don’t be surprised if I photoshop that into this image in a later post.

 

Plants in line for transplant this week: celeriac, watermelons, and a second generation of tomatoes. First generation is trellised and growing and nearly ready to be trellised again: bushing out, little green cherries appearing on the branches. Our dreams abound of summer dinners laden with a quick fresh Marinara and grilled corn and chopped basil– so we tie the tomatoes with care and trim off the side shoots that the plants will grow tall.

The forest of wooden stakes in the background are the stakes that we trellis the tomatoes on.

Hot yes, but the days outrageously clear. Sky unbelievably huge. Problems: admire the field of new potatoes lying in wait or admire the clouds, sigh over the deep rose-blue cabbage or the robins-egg blue of the sky? Life would be made easier, we know, were it only that the heavens were built with whipped potatoes and the skyline dotted was mammoth broccoli florets and sunsets were layers col slaw and carmelized golden beets.

Row of cabbages in front of the high tunnel on a beautiful day.