Monday, July 21, 2014

Birch Point CSA Week 6 News: Garlic Out! Fall Brassicas In (hopefully)!


Greetings farm friends! Welcome aboard, Heart of Summer members.  Please see Field Notes below for  this week's farm news.

In Your Share This Week:


Lettuce- Either romaine, butterhead, or green or red leaf.  Despite the last few days of heat, lettuce is still loving life and looking great in the field. We'll continue to have lettuce all summer provided we get some much-needed rain to re-soak the soils, to help keep lettuce happy (not a dry- or heat-loving plant).

Kohlrabi- I know we've sent you home with a lot of kohlrabi lately-- it just happened to thrive this spring/early summer, so we hope you love it as much as we do.  If you get a backlog, remember kohlrabi stores really well in the fridge if you remove the leaves and keep it in an airtight container (e.g. a sealed plastic bag or tupperware). And the leaves can be used just like kale- saute, steam, in soup, in omelets, etc.

Herbs- cilantro, parsley, OR basil (just the very beginning of basil; much more is on the horizon!). Top any dish with fresh minced herbs for more flavor and style.

Garlic- more early small bulbs-- store in fridge to maintain juiciness, or cut stems off and allow to dry at room temp to cure for later use. Come to the farm TUESDAY during CSA pickup to help pull garlic! See Announcements below for details.

Baby Salad Mix- it's back!  We took a little break when the big lettuces were threatening to overwhelm the CSA, but we should be back to an every-week or every-other-week baby salad rotation.  Luckily baby salad mix is planted in one of the gardens that is easy to keep watered, so it's doing great. We'll keep you posted.

And the fun part: We can't tell you what else exactly will be in your share, because every day (Sat-Mon-Tues-Wed) will be a little different! Due to the drought (see Field Notes, below) and late spring, summer crops are maturing later and less consistently than we'd like.  That means we're getting our very first harvests of beans, cherry tomatoes, summer squash/zucchini, peppers, cabbage, etc, but in sporadic quantities every day/week.  So you'll get a nice mix of some combo of those things this week and next! Thanks for your patience while we wait for the rain to help size up and mature all those crops in the field that are just hanging out, being small for now.  I think it's the quiet before the storm, so don't worry, there will be food and in greater quantities; if it'll just RAIN already!

Announcements:

1. Garlic Harvest has been moved UP to this Tuesday, July 22.  Due to the drought, garlic is ready to be out of the field and into the barn.  Sorry for the short notice, but if you'd like to join us, come to the back field during CSA pickup (4-7 pm-- we'll likely be done well before 7, so arrive by 6 at the latest if you want to get in on the garlic harvest). Wear clothes that can get dirty, gloves, and a hat.  There is a chance of rain (fingers crossed!), so bring rain gear to stay dry. There will NOT be a potluck following this garlic harvest, contrary to earlier announcement, but we will have a mid-summer celebration, independent of garlic, just as soon as we get some serious rain (something worth celebrating!!!).

2. Asparagus to Zucchini cookbooks have not yet arrived- it may be next week instead of this.  There are still books available (we ordered a case of 20 but only had orders for 12, so there is still time to get in on that). Books are $15 each.

Field Notes


      The good news: Hoophouse-grown cherry tomatoes and field-grown green BEANS are just starting to mature; either this or next week, members can expect the first tender, snappy green (and/or purple) beans and a small taste of cherry tomatoes in your shares. (Check out the current issue of Edible Grande Traverse for a nice article about green beans, written by our friend Nic Theisen, in which he admonishes the reader to dress nicely and stand tall when preparing green beans! ) The bad news: still no rain :(  This is one of the most extreme, if short-term, droughts we've experienced on the farm. Over the past month or more, every rain event that has hit our neighbors 20 or 30 (not to mention 300) miles from here has skipped us.  Last week's much-anticipated storm appeared as a bare sprinkle.  Tomorrow night's likelihood of precipitation has dropped from 92% to 62% and still dropping. The garden beds that have been harvested already and mowed down (e.g. spring broccoli, early lettuce, turnips, radishes) are too dry for the tiller to dig in.  We need to be able to till to re-prep beds to replant, whether to another crop or to cover crop.  Drip irrigation isn't cutting it, since some of the beds have dried out so completely and require a good soaking rain to rehydrate enough to be workable.  So the trays of transplants that are ready to go in the ground are waiting. Patient, but needing to get in the ground!
      Spirits are sagging a little bit at the dusty soils and slowed plant growth. We're running irrigation almost 24 hours a day, but since we're still using a domestic (house) well to supply the farm, we're limited in the volume of water we can use at one time.  The current big project is, of course, a new well (if cleaning/flushing/checking the pump for problems doesn't help).  That's been on the horizon for a while now, but this year's reduced flow (even less than past years, indicating a clogged filter, faulty pump, or -worst case scenario- depleted aquifer) combined with the drought has pushed the well to the head of the list. We'll keep you posted on developments (results of cleaning filter and checking pump, as well as a timeline and cost estimate from the well drillers).  Meanwhile, thanks for all the feedback and enthusiasm about the first third of the season, and thanks for joining us for what's turned out (so far)  to be this dry, dry season.
     More good news: a giant load of compost was delivered last week! We buy the majority of our compost from Morgan Composting (an aged compost made from dairy cow manure and bedding, known as "Dairy Doo").  I'd called them to arrange a later-summer delivery, and Diane at Morgan happened to mention that Four Seasons Nursery (a few miles from here) was getting a load delivered the very next day, and that if we had our load delivered tomorrow, we could split the delivery fee with the nursery-- good timing!  So we have an even bigger load of compost ready for the fields, which will increase the moisture-holding capacity, the cation exchange capacity (ability to make nutrients available to plants), the overall fertility (nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous and micronutrients), and friability (texture) of soil. Like any soil amendment, compost and all its living components (fungi, bacteria, micro- and macro-invertebrates) will really be effective and literally "come to life" when we get rain, and the critters can go to work. Yet another reason to do any rain dance of your choice when you get a minute!
      And last but not least, we've been the lucky hosts of two different amazing groups of people: one is the MSU Student Organic Farm Organic Farmer Training Program students, who are currently base camped at the farm while they tour several area farms as part of their program-- a yearly tradition we started six or seven years ago.  It's always fun to host this year's crop of students, hear what they're learning, catch up with old friends (staff and faculty who accompany them). The other group is Brenin's old college friends!  Genevieve, Holly, and Kelsey all arrived last week, pitched tents and immediately pitched in on weeding, harvesting, and making us lunch.  Holly and Kelsey are on a coast-to-coast road trip, visiting friends and farms, talking to folks about farmland, farm financing, farm business management, you name it. Genevieve took off to visit more friends and family before making her way back home to Chiapas, Mexico.  Holly and Kelsey are still here for a few more days and still helping out greatly-- if you see them at CSA pickup or at garlic harvest, be sure to say hello.


Holly and Kelsey, superstar volunteers:



Recipe

Kohlrabi Slaw- serves 2, approx.

2 med kohlrabi, peeled and grated OR cut into matchsticks (slightly nicer texture but slightly more involved)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 generous handful cilantro OR parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp mayo OR dijon mustard (or both-- your choice)
Juice of one small lime (optimal) OR 1-2 Tbsp verjus or cider vinegar (also good but there's really nothing quite like lime juice. Sad that there's a world lime shortage)
dash salt and pepper
optional: handful chopped olives and/or brined capers, dash red pepper flakes if you like a little spice

Mix everything together well, let marinate 15-20 min or longer in fridge. Serve chilled.  This is especially delicious on tacos and grilled things!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Birch Point CSA News Week 5: Try New Things, Garlic and Cookbooks, Share the Benefit; Share the Risk


In Your Share This Week
Kohlrabi-- more crisp, bulbous stems! The most common feedback we get about kohlrabi is in two categories: a)what IS that thing? what do I DO with it?  and b) Wow! I tried it; I loved it!  Never have I had a kohlrabi newbie come back with a negative report-- it may be unknown to some people, but it's consistently love at first bite. However, I've decided from reading popular food/farm blogs and articles that kohlrabi really takes an unfair beating at the hands of certain writers (e.g. http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelysanders/confusing-scary-csa-vegetables-recipes --a good article full of delicious-sounding recipes, but a bit kohlrabi-phobic if you ask me).  What do YOU think of this spaceship-shaped vegetable?

Fresh Garlic!  The first, small bulbs out of the field.  We'll be trickling in garlic over the next week or two, then we'll hold our big garlic harvest party; stay tuned for the date and time! Store fresh garlic in the fridge for best quality-- it's so juicy at this stage that it can be susceptible to mold at room temp.  Also, USE the tops-- the stems and leaves are GREAT in soups/stocks.  After you remove the bulb to use, plan to make soup, and just stick the whole stalk in your soup pot til it cooks completely through, then remove to the compost pile. The flavor will then be in your soup. While the bulb wrappers are still fresh and juicy (rather than papery, as later-season, cured garlic will be), you can use them in soup stock the same as the stalks, just for flavor. If you can't figure out what to do with fresh garlic, make a stir-fry out of greens, chop several cloves finely, add to greens, toss with lemon juice and/or vinegar, enjoy.  And/or get your hands on a copy of Asparagus to Zucchini (see Announcements, below).

Swiss chard OR Kale- your choice of two mainstays.  If you ever are at a loss for how to use kale or chard, I've got two words for you: 1. eggs  2. massage.  Eggs for omelets, scrambles, frittatas, or even egg salad w/chopped greens.  Massage coarsely chopped leafy greens by hand in a bowl, with some coarse salt, until they appear cooked-- basically this breaks the cell walls, like the heat of cooking does, without destroying enzymes or nutrients in the leaves (the argument against cooking posed by raw-foodies everywhere).  Enjoy well-massaged greens with an acidic condiment of your choice, like lemon juice, vinegar, or tomatoes (soon to be in season!), to make the calcium and iron in greens even easier for your body to absorb.

Lettuces- all kinds!  The late, wet spring meant head lettuces (like butterhead, romaine, and leaf lettuces) got off to a GREAT start and are still going strong (now that the heat wave has passed).  We also have a ton of baby leaf salad greens in the field, but those hold a little better in the field than "big" lettuce. And when everything is ready to to harvest at once, we have to triage who goes and who stays in the ground another week.  So we're sharing the bounty of big lettuce with you right now; expect to see a return to baby salad mix soon!  This week you may see les Oreilles du Diable ("devil's ears"), green leaf, red leaf, butterhead, or romaine in your share.  It's still salad season (see "Field Notes" below), though we're verging on grilling season, so I hope you're enjoying lots of big, crisp lettuce salads, as well as lettuce on sandwiches, in spring rolls, as lettuce wraps, etc.  There's really not much you can't do with lettuce.  Romaine tends to store better than more delicate-leaved varieties, so if you need to prioritize, use the romaine last.

Herbs- your choice of cilantro OR parsley

Grab bag surprise-- You may also get one or more of the following (different by pickup day): Bok Choi, Broccoli, Scallions, the first baby zucchini or summer squash, the first hot peppers, or surprise veggie.  These things are just starting to come on in small quantities (zukes and peppers) or just finishing their last wave for spring (choi and broccoli), so we still wanted members to have them even though everyone's share will be slightly different as a result!

Announcements
1. Asparagus to Zucchini cookbooks will be available next week.  It's a cookbook generated by and for CSA members and farmers' market shoppers, organized by vegetable instead of type of dish.  Each section has nutrition and storage info for each veggie, as well as several simple recipes.  It makes a great gift for anyone just getting into local, seasonal eating, as well as serving as a survival guide for some new CSA members!  $15 per book. We're ordering a case of 20 unless we hear otherwise. Email birchpointcsa@gmail.com ASAP to reserve a copy. Pay when you pick up your books.

2. Heart of Summer shares start NEXT WEEK. For Saturday folks that's the 19th. Monday the 21st, Tues the 22nd, or Wed the 23rd.  Heart of Summer shares run six weeks, and pickup time/location is exactly the same as full-season shares.  More Heart of Summer shares ARE still available if you know folks who'd like to join-- please share the invitation!

3. Garlic Harvest Party is coming up soon!  We'll gauge the timing based on weather and maturity of garlic, but it will be in the next two weeks.  Keep your eyes peeled for date and time--it's a great work party followed by our first CSA potluck of the season.

Field Notes
     It's DRY here.  Despite several small rain events, the cumulative rainfall has dropped ... er... precipitously below that of the beginning of the season.  This week's challenge is getting irrigation to sections of the fields that previously had none. We're setting up new drip systems, running sprinklers constantly, getting mulch hay and straw delivered, and looking forward to Tuesday's predicted storm (fingers crossed!).  The dry soils have slowed production in some areas, threatened survival in others, and caused farmers to shake fists at skies and sing our friend Chris Dorman's "Wandering Wanda" song to the skies.
     We've had several visits from old friends recently, and anticipate even more in the next week! Farm season is of course also vacation season. Since you live here, you're probably familiar with the phenomenon of friends and relatives on vacation who come to visit and want YOU to be on vacation as well.  We work all summer, but feel extremely fortunate to have a lifestyle that allows for visitors, flexibility, and even fun rolled into the work day-- it's incredibly gratifying to be able to catch up with visitors over farm lunch, weeding carrots together, or other tasks that are part of our day but still enjoyable to visitors, allowing us to be productive and still reconnect with dear friends. Often we just need to crank through a day's work, but when it is possible to relax, weed, plant, or water and chat at the same time, we're thankful.
     Crops looking great: beets, kale, beans, onions, summer squash, peppers, potatoes, leeks, tomatoes, eggplants, rutabagas, turnips, lettuces lettuces lettuces, parsnips, celeriac, basil, dill, and more. Crops in need of love: carrots need some serious moisture beyond irrigation, and more weeding. I think our first carrots will be even later than the late spring was already going to make them-- but we will have lots when they're finally mature! Cabbage needs irrigation and fertility.  Early cabbages were planted in the back field, with the least organic matter (OM) of any soil on the farm (there's lots of variability from garden to garden here). They got fertilized, but the low OM combined with low rainfall makes for some slow growth-- my hope is a good infusion of fish emulsion combined with tomorrow's rainfall will push them over their hesitation, and we'll have gorgeous cabbage soon. Following cabbage: a heavy application of compost before replanting those areas to crops or cover crops.  Crop failures: no new bad news to report! hooray. We'll see how the season progresses ;)
     This is what the "share the benefits; share the risk" mantra of CSA is about-- we grow a diversity of good food, and you can be assured of getting a good quantity of a good mix of fresh, delicious items.  Every year is different, so we never know exactly which crop are going to be amazing and which will be lacking.  So you agree to take on part of the risk of not knowing, and also end up benefitting from those that do well.  We're benefitting from lettuce right now, taking a hit on peas.  We'll benefit from hoophouse tomatoes (soon!!!) and hope that the predicted cool temps don't set back our field-grown tomatoes and other heat-loving crops too much. You and we took a risk by growing at two different locations this year (here at Birch Point and also at Brenin's family land in Grawn, where he's been farming the past four seasons), and we're benefitting from the heavy clay soil down there-- it retains moisture much better than the sandier soils here, meaning less rainfall is less of a problem down in Grawn, which is good since we're there only once a week. The list goes on-- whenever you're curious about how your food is grown, please ask when we see you at CSA pickup.  Thank you so much for sharing this farming season with us, financially, socially, and culinarily!


Recipes
Michelle's All Time Favorite Greens (Kale, Chard, Collards, Beet Greens, etc- use what you've got)
1 bunch hearty greens of your choice
1 onion or several scallions
a few cloves garlic or more if you're a garlic fanatic, or a handful of scapes if you have them
a generous handful or two of chopped, toasted nuts (I like walnuts, but pecans, pine nuts, or sunflower seeds are also good)
a generous handful or two of dried (or fresh) cherries, raisins, or currants (or OLIVES to take it in a different direction!)
olive oil
balsamic vinegar OR lemon juice
salt and pepper

Chop and saute, in olive oil over medium heat, onions with leafy green STEMS- having separated the stems from leaves, cook them first so they have a chance to tenderize equally with the quicker-cooking leaves.  Add chopped or chiffonaded greens, garlic, and cherries, saute til tender but still bright green and vibrant. Remove from heat. Toss in toasted nuts and vinegar/lemon, salt and pepper, serve with rice, pasta, other grains, anything you like! You can use this formula for any leafy greens:

Leafy greens
+ allium (onion/garlic family representative)
+ acid (e.g. lemon or vinegar)
+ fat (e.g. oil)
+ extra yummy bits (e.g. cherries, nuts, olives, use your imagination)
=
Dinner, or at least a good part of it!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

First Birch Point Blog/Newsletter of 2014- welcome/welcome back!

Welcome to our blog!  This is where CSA members and farm friends will find weekly lists of CSA share items, announcements (e.g. flats of organic strawberries available to order!), invitations to events, and news from the farm.
CSA MEMBERS: This is our FIRST line of communication with you, so please check the blog every week to stay current on farm happenings! You'll need to know things like which dates our market and CSA pickup locations change for Cherry Festival, when the opportunity arises to order optional extras like flats of organic strawberries from Ware Farm, if we need your help planting, weeding, or attending a party.  Here is where you'll find that info, so please do check weekly.

Blogs ARE our e-newsletter, and they happen in four parts:

1. What's In Your Share This Week
2. Announcements (things like invites to events, deadlines for ordering optional extras, etc)
3. Field Notes/Farm and Crop Updates
4. Recipes--suggestions for using new, unusual, and/or abundant items

We'll also occasionally include a "Meet Your Farmer" column to introduce the crew and superstar volunteers!  Want to contribute an article or recipe to our blog/newsletter? Please email it to birchpointcsa@gmail.com.


Here goes!

What's In Your Share This Week: Week 3
Kale- big kale, not baby!  Either Red Russian (purple stems, buttery and flat but toothy leaves), Winterbor (classic green curly kale), Dino (dark green, long, thin and slightly crinkly leaves), or Rainbow Dino (similar but usually with purple stems). We are rich in kale this spring/early summer, so expect to see more of this amazingly versatile and nutrition-packed veggie in shares. What to do with kale? More like what NOT to do with kale!  Chop fresh into a slaw, steam or saute with onions and garlic, chop and toss into any soup or stew, blend with your favorite smoothie or veggie juice, scramble with eggs, make kale chips, dehydrate into kale powder...... the list goes on. What's YOUR favorite way to enjoy kale?
Asian greens- either Senposai (resembles delicate collard greens) or bok choi-- try stirfried or fresh as slaw. When faced with a new Asian green, my go-to approach is a simple stirfry with onion and/or garlic, fresh ginger, red pepper flakes (or fresh hot chiles if they are in season), finished with a dressing of toasted sesame oil, tamari or soy sauce, and rice vinegar, and tossed with sesame seeds and/or toasted sunflower seeds. Add fried bits of protein of your choice, serve with rice or noodles, and voila! (remember the voila- very important)
Baby Salad mix- People asked for more of this last year, and we listened! Please let us know how the quantity is working out for you this year. 
Lettuce heads- either red leaf, green butterhead, red butterhead, or romaine.
Baby Turnips-- either Hakurei (white) or Scarlet Queen (pink)-just like last week, these are the "thinnings" from our early turnip bed, so expect to see larger versions of the same over the next few weeks. These are so mild you can eat them raw!  Slice or grate onto salad, slice onto sandwiches, eat whole like a plum, roast, fry or anything you'd do to a bigger turnip. AND use the greens-- toss in with your braising mix, scramble with eggs, chop finely into your miso soup...whatever you like. It's hard to go wrong with turnips.
Garlic Scapes-- can anyone get tired of garlic? I think not. Use scapes exactly like you use fresh garlic-- they ARE garlic!  These are the flowering stalks of the garlic plant, and we pick them for two reasons: 1. they are delicious, and 2. removing them directs more of the plant's growth into making a bigger bulb instead of a flower.  They'll keep for weeks in your fridge in a sealed bag, so don't stress if you get a backlog.  Try garlic scape pesto (below in Recipe section).
As always, perhaps a surprise or something I'm forgetting here.... ;)

Announcements 
1. Certified organic STRAWBERRIES available by the flat from Ware Farm!  $42 per flat (8 quarts). Ware Farm normally sells them for $46 per flat (or $6.50 per quart) at market, so it's a special CSA member price. Available for pickup at TUESDAY CSA at the farm, Saturday or Wednesday farmers' markets. I don't know if we can get delivery for Mondays (still waiting to hear back from the Wares), but Monday people are certainly welcome to order and pick up berries another day. How to order: EMAIL birchpointcsa@gmail.com with "strawberries" in the subject line BEFORE MONDAY. We'll be placing orders ON Monday for Tues and Wed pick up. Let us know how many flats you need and which day/location you'll pick up. Pay at time of pick up; make checks out to Birch Point Farm; we'll write one check to the Ware Farm for everything.  Also available: individual quarts ($6) if you need less than a flat. 

2. Bread, Coffee, Flower, and Heart-of-Summer shares still available; spread the word among friends!

Field Notes/Farm and Crop Updates
       The fields are nearly full!  It was a late, wet spring, as you may remember, which for us meant some fields were too wet to till and plant until just a couple weeks ago. We're finally about caught up with planting, though later than we'd like on some things, and now WEEDING is the thing taking all our attention!  Weeds respond as well or better than crops to warm weather and moisture and they are certainly robust already.  Looking GREAT so far: beans, kale, turnips, garlic,  strawberries, broccoli, cabbage, summer squash, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, sunflowers, lettuce, Asian greens.  Need work/will be awesome soon: potatoes (need bug pickers! and mulch), onions (recently liberated from weeds; they will now proceed to grow like mad), carrots and parsnips (in need of liberation from weeds), tomatoes- need trellising but looking good for being a little floppy! Of concern/unsatisfying: peas! sad to say, but the spring floods washed out most of our pea crop.  Only one of 7 rows survived intact, so we'll probably only have a mouthful of peas this year :(  More updates soon.

Recipes
Garlic Scape Pesto
     1 handful garlic scapes, chopped coarsley
     1 Tbsp lemon juice
     4-6 Tbsp olive oil
     1/2 c. toasted pinenuts or walnuts (I sometimes sub toasted sunflower seeds- delicious!)
     several dashes salt and pepper

Blend or food-process everything til smooth or chunky, as you like it. Refrigerate for a few weeks or freeze for a year-- this keeps wonderfully and goes well on EVERYTHING!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

CSA member survey- reply and be entered to win a free Thanksgiving share!

Hello farm friends!  I can't believe how fast the past few weeks have gone- CSA feels like a long time ago already--- hopefully not so long that you've forgotten all the ideas and feedback you had for us at the end of the season!
Below is the link to the member feedback survey.  While we appreciate any and all feedback all the time (CSA members, investors, market customers, nosy neighbors), this survey is specific to CSA, and the drawing for the free Thanksgiving share is for CSA members only.  If you win the drawing, you can pick up your Thanksgiving share Sat. November 23 at our stall at the indoor market in Bldg 50 (Sat from 10 am to 2 pm).
Deadline for survey responses to be entered in the drawing: Wed. Nov. 20
Deadline for survey responses (not entered in the drawing): Dec. 31

Deadline for feedback, input, ideas, concerns, questions: never!

Survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6BFPSJT

Thank you SO much for joining us this year.  It felt like a great and productive season; I look forward to hearing YOUR perspective!

Monday, October 14, 2013

BPF CSA Week 19: Thanksgiving Shares, Organic Apples, Winter Shares, Surveys

Lovely turnout for the Sunday Harvest Party and potluck on Sunday!  We got all the squash and gourds out of the field, and a good amount of potatoes into the barn, too. Thanks SO much to CSA members, neighbors, and friends who pitched in and/or stayed to share food and fire afterward.
The Eldred family collected buckets full of black walnuts for dyeing, chickens enjoyed a feast of half-rotten melons, and our youngest CSA member Elena Stauffer (8 weeks old) even joined us for the evening! Brenin and John pressed about 10 gallons of cider, and we still have apples left over!  Which reminds me: organic apples from Gene Garthe in Northport are available to order .  $1 per lb for orders of 10# or more, or $4 per quart.  Bushels are approx 40 lbs, so approx $40.  Scroll down to Announcements for details on varieties available. Also detailed in Announcements: Thanksgiving Shares, Winter Shares, and End-of-Season Surveys (*survey respondents will be entered into a drawing for a free Thanksgiving Share!).

In Your Share This Week:


Turnips: one of the most misunderstood vegetables, this hearty representative of European peasant food is a favorite of mine and a staple in the fall/winter diets of northern cultures the world around (*including northern MI*). Sweet and pungent, turnips are delicious raw (grated, sliced thinly, and/or fermented), cooked (roasted, baked, fried, souped), as greens (anything you'd do to kale, try it on turnip greens), and as a surprise at the back of your fridge in January (surprise! they are still delicious-- excellent keeping quality is what made them good peasant food-- try them now AND in mid-winter in hearty stews and roasted mixed roots).  You might see Scarlet Queen (pink inside and out!) or Gold Ball (pale gold-white).  If you need to triage vegetables to minimize waste, cut off the greens and use now, and store the roots in an airtight container (bag) in the fridge. They'll keep for several months if necessary.  See Recipes section for Smashed Turnips (with or without potatoes), one of my fave fall dishes.
Eggplant, mix of varieties
Peppers, sweet and/or hot
French Fingerling Potato
Broccoli
Onions
Garlic
Potatoes
Winter Squash- Acorn/Delicata/Dumpling
Greens: either Brussels Tops, Kale, or Chard
Salad Mix- finally back after a long hiatus!  I hope you've been enjoying Napa, kale, waldorfy, and cabbage salads in the meantime, but it is nice to finally get a good harvest of baby greens again.
Cherry Tomatoes
Heirloom Tomatoes- since we still haven't had a frost, they are still going, but certainly slowing down. It is nice to keep sharing this summer bounty with you well into fall.
Melons- either watermelons or canteloupe or galia.  What's been your favorite this season?

Announcements
1. Thanksgiving Shares available: Sign up now to get a box of $40-50+ worth of veggies the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  Pick up boxes at our stall at the indoor winter market (basement of Bldg 50; The Commons).  Purchase one or more for your family and/or sponsor a share to be donated to Food Rescue/Goodwill Inn for Thanksgiving meals for local families. Thanksgiving shares will cost $40-50, depending on crops available in November; exact price available soon. Things you may
see in the Thanksgiving share: winter squash, potatoes, onions, leeks,
garlic, root veggies like carrots, turnips and/or beets, Brussels
sprouts, celery and/or celeriac, cabbage, radishes, cooking greens
like kale/collards, salad greens, herbs, and possibly a few surprises.

2. Organic Apples from Gene Garthe in Northport available to order! This has been a tremendous year for apples -- "if you ever wanted amazing apples, this is the year!" according to my husband Jess, who's been helping Gene harvest.  $1 per lb for 10# or more.  (a bushel crate = approx 40 lbs, so approx $40) or $4 per quart (5-7 apples depending on variety). Deadline to order: Halloween.  Order early for guaranteed selection-- and since this year is so amazing (big, beautiful apples!), think storage-- cool, dark places like garages and basements and attics are perfect for months of fresh apples-- applesauce, dried apples, frozen apple pie filling, baked apples in foil in the fire, apple-squash soup, apple cider!

Varieties available NOW: 
Swiss Gourmet


Golden Supreme- like a golden delicious but crisp and better
Graham Spy - Kathy Garthe's favorite baking apple
Elstar- Abra Berens' favorite all-around apple
Swiss Gourmet- Jess' and my favorite eating apple, hands down
Honeycrisp- need I say more? organic honeycrisp anyone?

Varieties available by November:
Empire
Ida Red
Mutsu
Cortland
Northern Spy

3. The End is Near.   The last week of October will be the last week of CSA shares this year, for a 21-week season! Last date for Saturday people: Oct. 26; Tuesday people: Oct. 29; Wednesday: Oct. 30.  I'll be sending an end-of-season survey to get your feedback for help in planning next year's season.  All survey respondents will be entered in a drawing for one FREE Thanksgiving Share! So look for the survey (probably electronic- possibly paper) soon!

4. Winter Shares: Who wants to keep this going? We've had a few requests for winter shares.  Normally our winter shares take the form of investor shares (you invest cash in exchange for farm credit plus interest in the form of additional credit; each time you shop from our market stall, we debit your purchases from your account- no cash needed). More flexible than traditional shares, but you also have to show up early like any market customer to get the best selection.
If we did do a traditional winter share, it might be a once-a-month box. Say a $50-60 box of storage crops plus greens, once a month for four months, $200. Pick up at our stall at the indoor winter market. Just gauging interest here-- who's in? 

Recipes

Smashed Turnips
3-4 lg turnips, scrubbed and cut into 1-2" cubes or wedges
half (or more) that amount of potatoes (optional), scrubbed and cut into 2" cubes or wedges
1 head roasted garlic
Veg oil
salt and pepper

1. Boil turnips and potatoes in generously salted water til tender but not falling apart. Drain.
2. Heat enough oil in a large skillet over high heat to fry the turnips/potatoes-- not deep frying, but a generous amount of oil nonetheless. I use veg. oil for high heat frying because olive oil and butter tend to smoke at the high temps that make for really nice fried things.  350 F if you're measuring.
3. Gently dump in enough turnips/potatoes/peeled roasted garlic to fill the skillet about 2/3 full in a single layer- don't overcrowd. Do it in multiple batches if necessary.  Smash the chunked roots with a potato masher or the bottom of a mug-  not to actually mash to a pulp, but to flatten a bit and mush up the different flavors of the different roots if using turnips AND spuds AND garlic, to increase surface area that's in contact with the hot oil (*this is why it's good to only fill the skillet 2/3 full at first, so the smashed roots have room to be in contact with the pan, rather than crowding up on top of each other*).
4. Let them fry til crisp on one side, then flip with a spatula to fry the other side.  You'll see if you used enough oil-- there will still be some left to do the second side. If not, don't add more now; the cool oil with just make everything greasy.  Use more for the second batch. Push around with the spatula a bit if they start to stick. Let them fry til brown and crisp; drain on paper towels.
5. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Serve hot with ketchup, garlic aioli, hot sauce, hot sauce+mayo (I know, sounds weird; tastes delicious), tahini-lemon dressing, whatever you like.

Friday, October 4, 2013

BPF CSA Week 18: Falling for Brassicas

Foods in the Brassicaceae, or cabbage, family  are fall staples-- hearty turnips and radishes, sweet crunchy cabbage, tender and versatile broccoli, weirdly delicious kohlrabi, among others, form the centers of many meals this time of year.  Brassicas also contain sulfur compounds that have been linked to cancer prevention-- as if delicious and beautiful weren't enough! This week delivers a barrage of brassicas, among other fall goodness.  Bon appetit!
***Remember: Fall Harvest Party and Potluck Sun. Oct. 13. Harvest: 2-5 pm. Potluck: 5:30-8 pm***

In Your Share This Week:

Broccoli-- beautiful fall broccoli!  We planted three different varieties with the intention of harvesting over 3-4 weeks, but guess what- they're ALL coming on all at once, so lots of broccoli this week!  Possibly one more week of broccoli, but it depends on weather (whether they hold in the field or need to come out yesterday)
Cabbage- red or green-- a great storage item-- these cabbages are fresh and delicious, but if you need to prioritize your veggies so you make sure to use them all with minimal waste, keep in mind that cabbage is an excellent keeper. Great for kraut, cabbage rolls, coleslaw, stirfry, or soup.
Turnips with gorgeous greens-either Gold Ball, Scarlet Queen, or Hakurei- see below for a delicious turnip soup recipe. The smell of turnip greens always makes me feel like fall is here- it's inextricably linked to cool, moist air, foggy mornings, chilly fingers.  It makes me want to pop into Matt Murphy's Irish Pub in Brookline MA where I had the best turnip soup of my life, 13 years ago!  I worked at a farm outside of Boston, and we'd sell at a market near Brookline, then hit Matt Murphy's for turnip soup and a pint after market, and usually some traditional Irish music, too.
Radishes- French Breakfast or D'Avignon, the mildest and tenderest of radishes.
Brussels Tops OR Swiss Chard- so many greens! cabbage, turnip greens, AND brussels tops or chard. So Brussels tops.... are the tops of Brussels sprout plants.  And we top them for two reasons: 1. It causes the plants to direct growth at making bigger sprouts rather than growing taller, and 2. They are delicious!  I happen to prefer them after a frost (like B-sprouts themselves), because the cold temps make them sweeter, but they are still tasty now, and since we haven't had a frost and need those sprouts to size up, here you go!  Use just like Collard Greens or Kale.  Chard is interchangeable with spinach or beet greens, also delicious in a simple saute with olive oil, onions, garlic, lemon or vinegar. voila.

Carrots- yum! sweet fall carrots, several different varieties.
Celery- remember this from a few weeks ago?  cut off the tops (leaves) to maintain keeping quality if you're not using it all immediately. DO use leaves in soup, stew, stock, or salad.  You know what to do with the rest!
Potatoes- Red Gold or Nicola... which is your favorite so far?
Winter Squash- Delicata, Sweet Dumpling, and/or Acorn- yum.  Winter squash keeps well at a cool temp (55ish) for months or possibly room temp (60's not 70's) for several weeks at least.  If you see any soft or rot spots developing, cut them out and cook immediately. Freeze frozen squash if you can't use it immediately
Onions
Garlic
Cherry Tomatoes
Heirloom Tomatoes

Sunday, September 29, 2013

BPF CSA Week 17: Asian Invasion!

-It's time for stir-fry, kim chee, edamame, and/or eggrolls.  This week's share is bursting with Asian-style veggies.  Your Napa cabbage might last the entire week if you don't use it for a giant batch of kim chee, so start on it now! See recipes for my favorite slaw.
-Please help choose a date for the End of Season Harvest Party and Potluck: Oct. 13 or Oct 15?

Also- we have at least two more weeks of CSA.  As you know, CSA runs at least 18 weeks, and up to 22 weeks, weather permitting.  Since this is week 17, the season could end as early as next week. However, there's no frost in the forecast for the next 10 days, which means warm-weather crops like tomatoes, melons, eggplant, basil, and flowers should keep on coming at least that long.  Right now I'm predicting a 20-week season (three more weeks after this one), but I will keep checking weather and our store of crops and keep in touch about the end date.  We'll keep going if warm-weather crops AND cool-weather crops are still going strong, but we'll usually call it a season if we've had a frost, and the last couple of weeks are all storage veggies (e.g. potatoes, onions, garlic, squash, root veggies)-- if that's the case, we'll send you home with one last extra-large share instead of asking you to come pick up the same thing in smaller quantities for more weeks.  I'll keep you updated when the end is in sight ;)

What's in Your Share This Week

Napa Cabbage (Chinese Cabbage)- one of the most versatile of Brassicas, Napa can be cooked any way you'd use round cabbage; it is more delicate so requires less cooking time.  It's also delicious raw in so many forms- shredded slaw, chopped inside of egg rolls or spring rolls, lacto-fermented into kim chee (amazing Korean kraut-style fermented greens), you name it.  Here's a link to a blog by two Philly-area CSA members about what they did with Napa in their share--with a nice recipe for pot stickers! See Recipes for my favorite slaw.

Edamame- edible soybeans!  You'll see these as a big handful of bean plants with pods still attached. Remove pods from plant, compost the plant, boil the pods whole in heavily salted water til tender. Eat the beans (seeds) from out of the pod. They should be tender and flavorful. This makes an excellent appetizer or snack- set out bowls of beanpods and bowls for people to put in the empty pods after scraping out the beans with their teeth (sort of like scraping an artichoke petal with your teeth).

Daikon Radish-- one of my favorite radishes, daikon have affectionately been called "baby arm radishes" by a few different farm crew members here-- they can get that big!  These daikon this week are thinnings from the row-- small representatives. You  might see one more week of giant daikon before the season's end.  Enjoy these any way you normally use radishes- fresh on salad, grated onto anything, roasted, etc.  They make a delicious lacto-fermented pickle, are very nice sliced paper-thin and floated on a bowl of hot miso soup, or cut into long dipping sticks for hummous, tahini-miso dip, or anything else you'd like to eat with a radish stick. ALSO-- the greens are delicious!  Smooth (not hairy) and juicy, these radish tops are interchangeable with other Asian greens like bok choi or Napa in any recipe.

Broccoli-- the fall beauties! They are looking so delicious right now.  The broccoli is one of a few things in this family that did NOT get sprayed with Bt (an organic pesticide for cabbage loopers-- cabbage butterfly larvae-- see last week's blog posting/newsletter for details). That means there may still be loopers (small green worms exactly the color of the broccoli stem and incredibly hard to see) in the broccoli.  How to remove: soak broccoli in heavily salted cold water for 30-60 min. Agitate a few times, and worms should float free.  Rinse under cold water to blast off any remaining worms and the salt. Always store broccoli in an airtight container in the fridge.  If you use in the first few days, go ahead and leave leaves on; if not, remove leaves-- just like with carrots, the leaves will continue to transpire moisture away from the plant, resulting in rubbery broccoli.  Leaves ARE edible just like kale. But remove leaves for crisper stalks/florets.

Eggplant- are you still loving eggplant? It seems like we haven't had enough. I could use one more big harvest; I haven't even made any baba ganoush this summer! But those that we've had have been delicous-- try them simmered in coconut milk for 15-20 min for a delicious start to any Thai curry dish.

Peppers-sweet and/or hot, enjoy these ripe, i.e. red (or orange or lime green etc, depending on variety) rather than green for the best flavor and sweetness, but green peppers are still crispy, beautiful, and tasty, too.

Basil- probably the last of this heat-loving herb, basil is not only great as pesto or with tomatoes, but is also a delicous finish/topping for most Thai curry dishes. Try whole leaves or flowers floated in any kind of spicy soup (e.g. tom kha, hot and sour, or any spicy brothy soup), and woody stems in your veggie stock (see last week's blog re: making stock).

Onions- a mix of yellow onions, red Lunga di Tropea, or cipoollini.

Garlic- still got a good supply in store-- check farm news for our Garlic Planting Party invitation, probably right around Halloween time.

Carrots- always store in something airtight like a tupperware or plastic bag. If they get limp or rubbery, cut in half and soak in ice cold water, right in the fridge, for a few hours, and they will crisp right back up.

Cherry Tomatoes-  these plants are certainly starting to slow down in production from cooler temps and shorter days, but aren't done yet!

Heirloom Tomatoes-  like the cherry tomatoes, these heat-loving plants aren't dead yet, but have peaked and are starting to slow down. That said, we're not done yet! If you haven't had enough caprese salad yet (sliced tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella topped with olive oil and salt and possibly balsamic vinegar too), this is a good week for it.

Announcements

1. End-of-Season Harvest Party and Potluck: Which works best for you, Sun. Oct. 13 OR Tues. Oct. 15?  Harvest party from 2-6 ish; potluck from 6:30-8 ish. Come for either or both parts. Also, cider pressing in the barn, so bring apples to contribute to the mix, and a jug to take some cider home!  But please weigh in on the date ASAP- which date is better for you?

Recipe: Michelle's favorite Asian-ish Slaw

4-5 cups shredded Napa cabbage, bok choi, daikon greens, or any green Asian (or not) leafy thing you've got around
2-4 grated carrots
1 finely sliced onion
1-3 cloves garlic, minced
equal amt of fresh ginger, also minced (if you have none, put in 1 tsp ground ginger to dressing)
at least 1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
optional: 1-2 fresh hot chiles, minced

toasted sesame oil
rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
soy sauce/tamari
cayenne and/or your favorite hot sauce (I like Ray's Polish Fire)
pinch ground coriander
salt and pepper

Mix slaw ingredients well.  Mix dressing ingredients well, then mix w/ slaw. Enjoy!  Top with a squeeze of fresh lime and/or bean sprouts and/or pea shoots and/or fried tofu and/or anything else you like.
Prepared edamame

small daikon radish
Napa w/outer leaves removed-- you CAN eat them, by the way!