Author Archives: abbyferla

I write this blog post from the snowy hills of suburban Connecticut– a place so fundamentally removed from Galena that I almost feel as though I am typing to you from beyond the grave. So, forgive me if I get a little weepy.

First and foremost, I am writing because I felt as though I still owed you blog readers a serious Thank You for being so responsive and encouraging over the last few months. Publishing oneself to the internet can feel a bit like throwing a manuscript over the side of a large abyss—and it’s enormously comforting/reassuring to know that one’s words made it through the ether to another living, breathing human being.

I was trying to think of a way to give something back as a thank you gift, some sort of advice or retrospective. I had even started drafting a “10 Lessons from a First Season of Farming,” which included such gems as “never use one hand where you could use two;” “it’s actually important to count your chickens;” and “when in doubt, eat the evidence.”

Alas, the list turned out to be neither prolific nor terribly insightful. And then this morning, as I was doing some reading over my cup of coffee, I realized that– though I had shared with you the recipes and small delights of a first season farmer– I have never told you what brought me to an organic farm in the first place—and, spoiler alert: it goes beyond my somewhat embarrassing devotion to kohlrabi.

So, here, here is the best gift that I can think to give to you: an essay written at the turn of this century by quite possibly the most articulate man in agriculture— activist, poet, novelist, and essayist Wendell Berry. With far more wit and intelligence than I could ever hope to muster, Berry clearly states the values, fears, and goals that I so fervently believe in that I sometimes make the mistake of assuming that everyone else shares them. It’s a beautiful piece of writing, and I like to revisit every time I need to renew my sense of purpose.

You should definitely read the whole essay if you can, but because I know that this is a busy season, I’ve outlined the gist of it for you.

Berry begins by lamenting to the tendency of single-issue movements to corrode, dissolve, and generally devolve into the very problems that they once sought to address. He then outlines his hopes for a movement that would both necessitate and be necessitated by a mass transition from conventional agriculture to smaller, organic, and sustainable forms of growing food.

He has three conditions: one, that we recognize the interconnectedness of the world and its problems. We “should begin,” he writes, “by giving up all hope and belief in piecemeal, one-shot solutions.”

Two, that we become responsible, mindful, and informed members of economies—that we realize that in spending money, we are supporting the practices and people that create the goods that we buy—or as Berry says, “Spend money with our friends and not our enemies.” And then he nails the whole thing right on the head when he writes, “In seeking to change our economic use of the world, we are seeking inescapably to change our lives.”

And three, he asks that the movement be democratically-driven and remain populist (“content itself to be poor” in his words) so that it will necessarily develop solutions that are inexpensive, practical, and viable for everyone.

And, for those that like a happy ending, I’ll add that the note that he ends on is cheerful.

Rereading the essay, I am reminded that ultimately, one does not farm for the vegetables: one farms for people; if done mindfully and with a sense of purpose, the proliferation of small scale organic farming lies at the heart of the change that I hope for this world.

It was something, actually, that you also reminded me of as I worked that last cold Friday pick-up on the farm a couple of weeks ago, surprised to find myself in the midst of many sad goodbyes. It can be lonely to be an urban transplant in a rural climate, but I was never less lonely than when I got to chat with all of you on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings about the important things in life: things like which potato is the right potato for making oven-fries and why you really (yes, really) did want to take celeriac into your heart and home that day. Thank you for being so friendly and welcoming. If I had to do it all over again, I’d invite you over for dinner sometimes.

Have a wonderful and warm winter, everyone. You have a great resource in the farm and your fellow members. May you find and foster an abiding friendship, strength, and possibility in each other.

By Jmprouty. (Own work.) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (, via Wikimedia CommonsDear beloved CSA members, we need to talk. We need to talk about a certain pod-shaped vegetable.

Dear beloved CSA members, we need to talk. We need to sit down for a second and just get a little real about a certain lime-green pod-shaped vegetable– because I know that you’re skeptical. In fact, know that skeptical is a kind word for what some of you are. Some of you are downright critical: you think it’s weird, or worse, slimy— and you’re right. Okra is unique, and it does have a unique texture to it, but you’re failing to see the incredible possibility that okra’s specific characteristic present. Okra’s token sliminess, for instance, comes by way of a natural thickener, which means that slicing up a handful of okra pods and throwing them into a soup or stew saves you the trouble of having to add flour or cornstarch to create a thick hearty base.

So, a story. Once, there was a farm apprentice named Aaron, and he thought that okra was the only vegetable he’d met and didn’t like (though, to be honest, he didn’t care much for lettuce either). He hated the slime. He didn’t understand the shape. He thought the texture was all wrong. He passed on the okra.

He had, however, heard tales of a preparation of okra that would magically transform it into a delicious and downright un-slimy food. But, alas, he did not have the will to deep-fry it against the wishes of health-conscious dinner companions. Aaron and okra were thus star-crossed, until one day, a wise and benevolent market customer suggested that tossing the okra in oil, salt, and pepper would yield the same magical effects. Aaron was, like you, skeptical, but he was of great courage and heart, and he attempted the spell. He made sure to remember to preheat the oven to 450 degrees and stir the okra occasionally.
And the okra was not slimy! It was tender on the inside and crispy on the outside! Its seeds were delicious pops of joy, and, behold! It was so versatile! It paired well with curries and indian spices but, oh lord, was it good just dipped in ketchup like the healthiest, coolest french-fry in the world. Aaron loved (loved! can you believe it?!) the okra. They were, as the story went, happily ever after.

And, here’s the deal, guys, okra is fresh, it’s local, and we have a lot of it that even we okra-loving farmers can’t eat fast enough. You can take the time to put in a gumbo (we’ve got a killer recipe for that too if you’d like it) or you can throw it in soups, but I dare every okra-hater out there to try roasting it this week, just this once, if only to prove that you are true of heart and taste.


As far as I am concerned, fresh ripe tomatoes are the true harbinger of summer, and, well, let’s just say summer is definitely here. Now, I know that it’s not exactly difficult to think of things to do with a tomato. I asked one man at the market on Saturday what his plans were, and he seemed shocked that I even had to ask. “They’re going on the burgers, of course,” he said. Of course, the burgers– and the salad and the gratin and the pasta sauce and the stir-fry… I guess what I’m trying to say is that maybe you don’t think that you need four more things to do with a tomato, and I understand why you might think that. The thing is that you’re wrong.

Don’t believe me? Then you obviously haven’t tried making your own barbecue sauce with our cherry tomatoes. If you’re not making it yourself, you don’t know how delightfully fresh BBQ sauce can be– and you’re probably getting more preservatives and sugar than you think. Aaron cooked up this really awesome sauce for dinner the other night, and I think that you’ll be pleased by how easy it is to make and how deliciously sweet it is for having practically no added sugar. It’s good for meat (or so I’m told– and on this note, I think the kids might even like to dip chicken nuggets in it)), and it’s great with grilled veggies, potato pancakes, and polenta.

Aaron’s Cherry Tomato BBQ Sauce


  • 4 small purplette onions
  • 1 small head of garlic
    • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup demarra sugar
    • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 1/4-1/2 cup oil, butter, meat fat, or margarine
    • 2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp ground ginger
    • 1 tsp ground black pepper
    • 1 tsp ground chipotle peppers

    Use a food processor or blender to puree the tomatoes. Add the onions and garlic and blend until all the ingredients are finely chopped and mixed, adding vinegar as needed. Pulse in the remaining ingredients. Transfer the mixture to a medium sauce pan and cook, stirring on medium heat until it reaches you favorite consistency.

If you’re not in the mood to fire up the grill, though, you can follow Theresa’s lead and make pizza sauce and freeze it for later. The great thing about this dinner is that all you have to do is pull out your pre-made sauce, buy (or make) a dough, and cut up your favorite toppings. And, because you’re using fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes, the sauce is easy as pie (so-to-speak): you don’t really need to add anything fancy to it. The recipe is simple, so there’s also plenty of room to tweek it however you like. Personally, I have a credo about these kinds of things: More garlic, a pinch of lemon. If you’re not in the mood to cook ahead, though, our favorite pizza of the night was the one that Theresa slathered with pesto (though I think olive oil or any tapenade would do) and then cooked with fresh sliced tomatoes. What I’m trying to say is that you can be lazy and/or creative, and everything should still be delicious.

Basic Pizza Sauce


  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large onion or 2 small
  • 2 lbs of ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1-2 cups of water
  • salt, pepper, and seasonings to taste

Saute onions and garlic in oil until onions are translucent, add salt, add tomatoes, and simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally until everything has cooked down. Add any fresh herbs and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes. Add lemon if desired. Slather on pizza!

My favorite recipe of the week has to be this one that Kayla made and sent to me. It’s hearty, delicious, and the perfect thing to find waiting for you after you’re finished packing up a CSA pickup on a cold and rainy summer night. It’s good with rice, quinoa, or some of Mark’s bread (if you have any left from Tuesday pick-up by the time you have time to cook. …we don’t always.) It doesn’t look like a lot in this picture, but it’s really freaking awesome.


Spicy Lebanese Stew (from The Tomato Cookbook by Christine France)
Note: Contrary to the title this is NOT a spicy dish. It’s flavorful, but actually pretty mild. Next time I make it I will probably add more seasoning


  • 3 large eggplants, cubed
  • 1 cup chickpeas, soaked
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 14 oz canned tomatoes*
  • 7 oz fresh tomatoes
  • salt and ground black pepper

* I substituted fresh tomatoes from the canned

Place the eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Leave in the sink for 30 minutes to allow bitter juices to escape. Rinse with cold water and dry on kitchen paper. Drain the chickpeas and put in a pan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and summer for 1 hour until tneder. Drain.

Heat oil in a large pan; add the garlic and onions and cook until soft. Add the spices, stirring for a few seconds. Stir in the eggplant to coat with the spices and the onion. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and chickpeas, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

I also made this kind of stupid dish where I hollowed out a lot of medium-sized tomatoes and stuffed them with pesto and egg. I followed this basic recipe from Deb at Smitten Kitchen, but I substituted basil pesto for the romaine and had a bit of trouble with our oven. The result was OK, but if I had to do it over again, I’d follow Deb’s advice and also be sure not to cook the eggs to the point where the yolks harder. I think that the beauty of this recipe would be in the running yolks. On the upside, the tomatoes really are the star of the show in this dish, so maybe that’s something and you could probably put the stuffed tomatoes on top of a fresh green salad if you wanted to be gourmet about it.

Also, I was too lazy to edit this post, so please excuse an typos that do occur. (I was getting hungry! Can you blame me?)

So first I’m gone for three weeks and now, all of a sudden, you can’t get rid of me. I’m like that person that you dated but just could never quite figure out in college. (Don’t dump me: I’m better than this, really!) But, to continue the catch-up work that I started earlier with that cabbage post, I’m back to update you on last week’s vegetable spotlight challenge. If all goes according to plan, you should have this week’s update by Wednesday at the latest– but, then again, I do work on a farm, and we are in the middle of summer harvest, so don’t hold me to that.

Anyway, last week, we focused on summer squash, and I will confess, I have occasionally been known to suffer from S.S.F.S.– have you heard of it? Summer Squash Fatigue Syndrome. I actually started this bout last August and haven’t been able to kick it since. The disease is characterized by a generally malaise in the kitchen, a loss of interest in old hobbies (like stir-frying), and an irrationally fear of zucchini bread, and it generally strikes anywhere from mid-July to September. Some experts claim that it is especially prevalent among home gardeners in the Northeastern and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. Often, doctors prescribe abstinence from summer squash as a cure, but I’ve been undergoing a more radical experimental treatment, full immersion therapy. I’m happy to say to you today that it has been working– and with great success. Suddenly that crown-shaped flying saucer squash is in everything that I cook. So, today, I come bearing a message: embrace the squash; don’t fear it.

As part of the therapy last week, we tried to get a little creative. Kayle made a soup that would put any S.S.F.S. sufferer in recovery. Hell, I even treated myself to seconds. Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT skip the salsa verde.

Crookneck Squash soup with salsa verde (from Vegetable Soups by Deborah Madison)
1 pound summer squash
2 teasposoons each butter and olive oil (I doubled the amount of olive oil and omitted the butter and it turned out fine)
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped herbs, inclduing orgenao or marjoram, parsley, sage, and thyme
sea salt and pepper
4 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock
1 cup dried pasta (I used fusilli; the recipe suggests shells or farfalle)

Slice the squash into quarters and then again crosswise into 1/2 inch thick segments.

Warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, squash, and herbes and cook for 5 minutes. Seqson with 3/4 tablespoon salt and add the water or vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered until the squash is tender, abotu 15 minutes. Taste for salt and season with pepper.

Boil the pasta and add to the finished soup with a spoonful of salsa verde in each bowl.

Genius that she is, Kayla opted for the Smitten Kitchen salsa verde recipe over Madison’s. The latter didn’t have tomatillos, you see, and we definitely did.

Tomatillo salsa:
10 tomatillos, quartered
2 jalapenos, roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 bunch of scallions, cut into big segments (I only used the green ends)
salt to taste

Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor


I was less creative, I have to admit, being that I’m still in recovery and all. I did, however, do the most sensible thing that I could think of at the time: I roasted the squash and tossed it in pesto. This is a fool proof-method for making just about anything delicious, but I think that it works especially well with summer squash. The reason is that when roasted correctly, the squash maintains a succulent crunch and seeps up all the juicy flavors of the olive oil, but it’s still relatively low in calories– all of which makes it a perfect vehicle for the smooth, flavor(and calorie)-packed pesto.

So, I cut the squash into coins and tossed in olive, salt, and pepper. I spread it on a baking sheet and cooked it at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until the squash began to brown on edges. I tossed it with fresh sweet corn kernels, and chopped cherry tomatoes.

If I don’t say so myself, it’s kind of a crowd-pleaser, like, the kind of vegetable dish that even your kids might eat. (Then again, I know that as a kid I would eat anything if my mother put pesto on it.)

We ate this on top of socca bread– which is a delightful Greek food that I’ll probably write more about at another time. It’s made by combining equal parts chickpea flour and water, a little olive oil, rosemary, and salt– which you can cook either as small crepes or as a larger pancake as I did here.  If you’re interested in trying it out, there’s a good recipe here, though I recommend using rosemary instead of cumin, depending on the recipe that you’re preparing the socca to accompany.


Aaron also made zucchini bread, but I couldn’t find the recipe now that it’s time to post this. If you’re looking for a good version of the classic that uses more zucchini than it does flour, leave a comment below, and I’ll not only send you the recipe, but I’ll personally save you one of those over-sized zucchinis that are just absolutely perfect for the lazy baker to deal with.


First of all, I’d like to apologize for taking such a long hiatus! I know, I know, I said that I would write you next week, keep in touch, make sure you knew that I still loved you. But the weeks have been busy and sweaty, and– long story short– I just haven’t been able to muster the will-power needed to upload this many pictures using a short bandwidth and a six-year old lap top. Anyway, I just want you to know that it wasn’t you; it was me. I promise not to neglect you or your dinner plans for this long ever again.


Now, for the good stuff. And cabbage is, no matter it’s reputation, really, really good stuff. Whatever bad name cabbage has gotten is definitely the fault of the recipes and chefs that like to drown it in mayonaise or boil it down to a chunky mush– and not the fault of the vegetable itself. The truth is that cabbage is not only one of the cheapest, most nutritious, and best storing foods in the world, it can be used in a myriad of delicious ways. (If you don’t believe me, try googling “grilled cabbage” or “golumki.) It also has the added benefit of being quick to prepare, which I hope that this week’s recipes can demonstrate.

First up, we have Okonomiyaki, or Japanese Pizza, as adapted from Heidi Swanson’s recipe over at 101 Cookbooks. I have tweaked the ingredients list a bit for our CSA share, but the method is 100% Heidi’s, as is the write-up thereof.

2 cups cabbage, finely shredded
2 onions, finely sliced
2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour (for a gluten-free option, you can use 2/3 cup chickpea flour– though it would be best to also use a teaspoon of xantham gum to hold everything together)
a couple pinches of fine grain sea salt
2 eggs, beaten
1+ tablespoon olive, canola, or peanut oil + 1 tsp sesame oil (for flavor)

Garnish: toasted slivered almonds, cilantro, chopped scallions, sesame seeds

Combine the cabbage, leeks, flour, and salt in a bowl. Toss until everything is coated with a dusting of flour. Stir in the eggs and mix until everything is evenly coated.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a generous splash of olive oil. Scoop the cabbage mixture into the pan, and using a metal spatula press it into a round pancake shape, flat as you can get it. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the bottom is golden. To flip the okonomiyaki, slide it out of the skillet onto a plate. Place another plate on top and flip both (together) over. If you need a bit more oil in your skillet, add it now, before sliding the okonomiyaki back into the skillet. Again press down a bit with a spatula and cook until golden on this side – another 3 -5 minutes.

When you are finished cooking, sprinkle with toasted almonds and chives, and slide it onto a cutting board to cut into wedges. Enjoy immediately.

Also from 101 Cookbooks this week, we have the right recipe for all of you going to summer barbecues and pot lucks but are getting tired of the same old cole slaw. This is also delicious for a side dish on a hot summer night, which is how we ate it– on the side of (and also on top of) corn tortillas with stewed black beans and sauteed onions and peppers. I’d say that this is one of the most delicious meals we’ve had all summer (credit goes to Theresa). PLUS, this is the perfect place to put those delicious cherry tomatoes that we’ve been handing out to use.

Lime & Peanut Coleslaw Recipe

Leave out the jalapeno if you like it milder. I also thought about adding shredded, baked tortilla chips (like the ones from the tortilla soup recipe). Also, I’ve mentioned this before – I try to seek out organic peanuts.

1 1/2 cups unsalted raw peanuts
1/2 of a medium-large cabbage
1 basket of tiny cherry tomatoes, washed and quartered
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and diced
3/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon + fine-grain sea salt

In a skillet or oven (350F) roast the peanuts for 5 to 10 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice along the way, until golden and toasted.

Cut the cabbage into two quarters and cut out the core. Using a knife shred each quarter into whisper thin slices. The key here is bite-sized and thin. If any pieces look like they might be awkwardly long, cut those in half. Combine the cabbage, tomatoes, jalapeno (opt), and cilantro in a bowl.

In a separate bowl combine the lime juice, olive oil, salt. Add to the cabbage mixture and gently stir to combine. Just before serving fold in the peanuts (add them too earl and they lose some of their crunch). Taste and adjust the flavor with more salt if needed.

Serves 6 as a side.

AAnd, last but not least, we’ve got a bangin’ vegetarian main course recipe using red cabbage. Kayla threw together this incredble stir-fry from Nick Kindelsperger at Serious Eats. I know that looking at it, the recipe seems a little labor intensive, but when you consider that it makes a hearty one-dish dinner (though we had some rice with ours), the effort is far outweighed by the result. The meal is spicy but doesn’t pack too much heat, satisfying, and nutrient-packed. Definitely good for impressing company or for eating as leftovers for lunch for the rest of the week.

1 cup flour
1 (12-ounce) package firm tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes
10 tablespoons ghee or canola oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoons ground coriander, divided
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon asafetida
1 serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
½ head cabbage, core removed, and thinly sliced
Kosher salt
1 cup frozen peas


  1. Dry off tofu with paper towels. Dump flour onto large plate. Add half of tofu and toss gently until evenly covered. Shake off excess. Pour four tablespoons ghee or oil into 12-inch iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Heat until shimmering. Add flour-coated tofu. Cook tofu, turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, about five minutes total. Remove tofu and drain on paper towel-lined plate. Turn off heat, carefully clean out skillet, and repeat with remaining tofu.
  2. Pour last two tablespoons of ghee or oil into medium-sized dutch oven set over medium high heat. Heat until shimmering. Add mustard seeds. Cook until they start to pop, about 30 seconds. Add ginger, two teaspoons coriander, turmeric, asafetida, and serrano. Stir well, and cook until fragrant, about one minute.

  3. Add cabbage and pinch of salt. Cook, stirring every minute, until very tender, about 15 minutes. Add remaining coriander, fried tofu, peas, and another pinch of salt. Stir well and cook until everything is warm, about two minutes. Season with more salt to taste. Serve with white rice.

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!

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.

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.

So, it must be nice working a job without the stress of the office, huh?

Ok, so it’s true, I don’t have to spend my time off glued to my iPhone just in case that early morning office meeting gets moved from 9AM to 8AM. I don’t wake up with the same kind of empty anxiety that accompanies ironing your clothes for the early morning commute, and I don’t really ever feel like I need to watch TV or have a drink to decompress from the tension of inner-office competition. There’s no needing to put on makeup, no computer failure, no inner-office email fiascoes.

But, to the people who keep asking me this question, I just want to say: why don’t you try waking up in a cold sweat from a nightmare that you’ve somehow managed to kill all of the vegetables and have destroyed the summer harvest?

Here’s the other side of the truth: farming, like any other business, is necessarily stressful, because it demands that the farmer make a constant stream of choices even though there are so many elements that are out of the farmer’s control. I wrote last week about the weather and how one rainstorm can keep you from doing necessary work for almost a week. Well, the weather can do much more that that: inconsistent rain, for instance, can destroy an entire crop of tomatoes. Cold weather can stunt the growth of spring crops. Then there are other factors like bugs, disease, and super weeds… And, there is the additional stress of having to plant things before you know what people are going to want to eat in two months. You can plant a hundred or so eggplants (which will each yield a few eggplant), but if Dr. Oz suddenly does a segment on the why eggplant is bad for weight loss, and less people will want to buy it. What are you going to do with the leftovers? What else could you have planted in that space instead? Conversely, though, if Martha Stewart does a spread on healthy eggplant dishes for the workweek, they’re going to sell like hotcakes, and maybe you don’t have enough to keep up with demand. Should you have planted more eggplant and less edamame?

My point is really just that there’s a lot of planning, forethought, knowledge, and dialogue that goes into this thing of growing food. It’s no Wall Street, but it is still, to some degree, business. That being said, of course, it’s business where you get to wipe the dirt of your hands and on to you pants. When office workers are stressed, they have to find ways to try and relax until they can get to the gym later. When farmers feel anxious, they can very literally work it out in the fields through the tasks that need to be done. So, no, farming is not stress free, but by the time we’re done pounding, scraping, and digging our way through the day, it’s hard to have any energy left over for anxiety. So, in that sense, the lifestyle that comes with farming is to some degree significantly less stressful than others. Because, you know, even while I’m having nightmares about trampling all the swiss chard, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sleeping like a baby.