Thursday, June 30, 2011

CSA News Week 3

Birch Point CSA 2011
Week 3 News

In Your Share This Week:

- a classic Italian salad green, also known as chicory, and a close relative of lettuce with a stronger, somewhat bitter flavor. The hearty outer leaves are delicious lightly steamed or broiled (see Recipes for a wilted radicchio salad), and the blanched, buttery inner red leaves are perfect for salad. Actually I use all of it for salad, but I chop the outer leaves finely, because the ribs are thick. We discovered a bolted (flowering) radicchio, and tried eating the flowering stem yesterday- it was delicious!

French Breakfast Radishes- the beautiful pink-and-white variety is traditionally more mild than the classic round red radishes, but some of these pack some heat! As always, I recommend radishes with salt- slice in half or thin slices lengthwise, toss with fine salt, and let sit for 5-20 min before enjoying as an appetizer or snack. Salt tenderizes the radishes if you let it sit long enough, and balances out any heat or bitterness that may be there. My favorite radish dish (besides sliced with salt): sliced with salt, piled on top of a piece of toasted rye bread with cream cheese!

Beet Greens (some with baby beets!)- so tender and tasty. You can do anything with beet greens that you’d do with Swiss chard or spinach, and use the entire thing, root tip to leaf tip. Besides all the things you already love to do with beet greens, try them in smoothies, and see Recipes for my favorite creamy beet greens.
• Beet factoid: beets and Swiss chard are the same species! Beets have been bred for big roots, and chard for big leaves, but they are essentially the same, and the greens have similar nutritional value and can be used interchangeably.

Sweet Spring Onions – a mix of white and red bunching onions. These sweet beauties come with greens attached- chop greens finely and use just like onions. Or if you are one of those people who cut the green parts off of scallions and bunching onions (I don’t understand you people), save them and use them for soup stock. ;)

Curly Kale or Rainbow Swiss Chard- bodacious kale and chard again! We plan to include kale or chard every week this season. There are lots of good recipes in A to Z- also check out Michelle’s All-Time Favorite Greens Recipe/formula (from last week’s newsletter), and try different variations on that. Kale and chard are rich in vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, and folic acid. They’re nutritional powerhouses (all the dark green leafies are!), but they taste so delicious, and that’s enough reason to eat lots and lots of them, I think. Remember to include an acidic condiment (vinegar, lemon, tomatoes when they’re in season, etc) with these leafy greens to maximize nutritional value. Some minerals are chelated, or bound in the plant in molecules that prevent absorption by your body, and acid helps break those bonds and make the nutrients more bio-available.

Spearmint or Chocolate Mint- We thought since it’s still strawberry season, a little mint would go a long way toward either a mint-strawberry-radicchio salad, or a mint-strawberry-limeade! You can always make sun tea out of fresh mint, too- just stick a few sprigs in a clear jar full of water, with or without some green or black tea leaves, with a lid, and set in the sun for a few hours. Chill and serve with ice and another mint sprig or leaf in each glass. yummmm.


1. Saturday Farmers’ Market relocated for the next two weeks (July 2 and 9) for Cherry Festival. Come to the OLD TOWN PARKING DECK for CSA shares and farmers’ market shopping during normal market hours (8-12). Enter from Eighth St between Cass and Union. Look for signs/people directing you where to walk/park. Birch Point will be there with shares and market produce. Please remind your friends who shop at the market to come to the parking deck these 2 Saturdays! After Cherry Festival, we’re back to our normal location.

Field Notes

The potato mulching party was a great success! We found lots of Colorado potato beetles (the biggest pest in our potato crop), and spend a loooong time hand-picking and smushing them before getting to the actual mulching. However, we got more than half the job done, and will finish by next week- come check out the job done by your fellow CSA members and farm friends! The front of the field is now covered in hay, which the potato plants will break through and keep growing. Mulch provides 3 benefits: it holds in moisture, keeps weeds down, and provides more growing space for potatoes themselves- the more mulch on the soil surface, the more potatoes will grow, as potato stems under mulch “decide” that they might as well grow tubers since they’re suddenly “underground,” increasing the spud harvest.
The PEA PLANTS are so close to producing a tidal wave of peas- I think next week we’ll be inundated. If you like pea picking, come on out; we’ve got a bucket with your name on it, and you’ll get to take home extra! Favas are flowering nicely and have started to form pods. The first spring broccoli is a couple of weeks out, and Chinese cabbage will be ready either next week or the following. Kohlrabi is taking longer than I thought it would, but hopefully in 2 weeks the bulbs will be nice and big and juicy. Onions got in the ground late, so we’ll probably have small onions this year, but the plants are plugging away and growing well.
We had terrible winter squash germination this year- less than 25 % of what we seeded. This past week we re-seeded the squash patch with a bunch of short-season winter squash (acorns, delicatas, kabochas) in hopes of squeezing in an entire growing season in ¾ of a normal growing season. These shorter-season varieties take 90-100 days to mature, so if we get a warm-ish summer, it should be no problem for them to mature by the end of Sept/early Oct. We’ll just be heavy on the short-season varieties, and light on the longer-season ones (butternut, pumpkin, blue hubbard). We’ve actually contracted with our neighbors Nic and Sarah, who farm organically two doors down from here, to grow our pie pumpkins and some butternut this year, since they were planting huge quantities of those already. So you’ll see squash and pumpkins from two different organic farms in shares later this season.
The first generation of beans is growing rapidly and starting to get bushy- it’ll be a few weeks til harvest, but they are looking good so far. Celery just went in the ground, as did another round of head lettuce (as opposed to baby salad mix lettuce). The perennial flowers are kicking in and looking good (they just need to get weeded so we can see them!), and the rest of the annual flowers are going in this week, so flower share people have plenty of variety to look forward to later this season. Summer squash, cucumbers and melons germinated beautifully and are growing well in the garden by the house- I anticipate a good season for those guys. We’re trying a few new varieties of cucumbers this year, including the Mexican Sour Gherkin- a tiny, sour cucumber unlike anything I’ve ever tasted (I tasted them at a friend’s farm last year and loved them- I thought you might too!). You can pickle them or eat them fresh. I look forward to sharing those and the white Dragon Egg cukes, as well as the new summer squash and melon varieties, with you all. Since spring was so late, the whole season was pushed back a few weeks, so our growing season is more condensed than last year- lots of things will come on late, and all at once (even more than usual), so get ready for the deluge later on!

Meet Your Farmers

I’d like to introduce everyone to Jason Dudycha (“dude-a-shay”), this year’s chicken. (Jason’s actually a farm apprentice who lives in the former chicken coop, which was renovated long ago into a human coop, but I affectionately call people who stay there “chickens.”) Jason has worked on several farms over the past 2-3 years, where the majority of his farming experience has been in the temperate climate of the central Oregon coast. He is looking forward to expanding his agricultural knowledge by learning to grow in the mid-western climate region. He is also excited to work more with poultry, do farmers markets, and see old Michigan friends. Jason is a huge bird aficionado and has started building bird houses and bat houses for the farm! When not playing in the dirt Jason also enjoys traveling, meeting new people, bicycling, and making music. In fact, he has co-instigated monthly bike parties in TC! The last Sunday of each month, you’ll find Jason and friends biking around TC with a battery-powered, bike rack-mounted speaker blasting tunes and having a good time- everyone is welcome on these rides to a monthly “mystery location” somewhere in TC. See or talk to Jason at market or the farm for more info.


Wilted Radicchio Salad

1 head radicchio, outer AND inner leaves, washed
olive oil
fresh lemon juice- 1 lemon worth
thinly sliced onion
dry goat cheese or feta or blue cheese(something crumbly)
salt and pepper

Cut large outer radicchio leaves in half (slice lengthwise along center of ribs), toss all leaves, inner and outer, well with olive oil and salt. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and broil on high (be sure to place tray on oven rack in highest position, closest to broiler. For electric stoves, I think the broiler may be below-? You can figure that part out.) for 3-4 min, til edges are barely blackened and caramelized, ribs are softened but not mushy. Arrange on a platter or in a bowl, drizzle generously with onion, lemon juice and crumbled goat cheese, salt and pepper. Serve warm or room temp.

Creamy Beet Greens

1 bag beet greens with roots, chopped if stems are long (long stems are elegant in this dish, but can be hard to eat! Use your judgment whether you like them chopped or whole)
1-2 small onions, chopped
1 garlic scape, chopped (optional)
¼- ½ cup or more red cooking wine or balsamic vinegar (use more wine if you like, but if using vinegar, I’d keep it at ¼ cup or your whole dish will taste of nothing but vinegar)
½ cup or more half and half or heavy cream OR plain yogurt, or a mix of these
generous pinch ground nutmeg
olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in large skillet or wok (big enough to hold all the greens), sauté onions, garlic, and beet greens til tender, 8-12 min. Add wine or vinegar, and reduce for 5-10 min in the pan with the greens, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle in nutmeg, stir well. Add cream/yogurt, remove from heat, stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you want a drier dish, use less wine and cream. If you want a saucier dish, use more. Serve with rice, couscous, or as a side dish.

Mint-Strawberry-Radicchio Salad

1 head radicchio, chopped or chiffonaded
• Chiffonade (from Food Lover’s Companion): Literally translated, this French phrase means “made of rags.” Culinarily, it refers to thin strips or shreds of vegetables (classically, sorrel and lettuce) either lightly sautéed or used raw to garnish soups. To chiffonade radicchio, stack leaves on top of each other, and roll like a cigar. Slice crosswise (like making cinnamon rolls) very thinly- less than ¼” wide strips.
2 c. strawberries, washed and sliced thinly
1 small handful mint leaves (and stems if tender), finely chopped
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Take a minute to “massage” the radicchio after chiffonading or chopping it- slightly bruise the leaves and ribs to tenderize, then toss with salt, again massaging lightly to spread salt evenly- don’t be afraid of damaging leaves, that’s the point with massaging. It starts to break down cell walls, which both tenderizes and lets in other flavors (i.e. strawberry, mint). Toss well with all ingredients except vinegar, and let sit a few minutes to meld flavors. Add vinegar just before serving, to minimize discoloration of leaves. Or add it early and have a purple-gray salad- equally delicious!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Correction to yesterday's blog post

The Potato Mulching party here at Birch Point next week is WED June 29, NOT Thurs June 30. I'd written the wrong date and posted the blog before checking last night- sorry! It's corrected now. If you want to come help mulch potatoes, followed by a potluck, come out on Wed. thanks!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Birch Point CSA 2011 Week 2

Birch Point CSA Newsletter
2011 Week 2

In This Week’s Share:

Giant Swiss Chard or Kale-These leafy greens may be the backbone of CSA- I know, you probably thought it was the sexy salad mix or heirloom tomatoes, but according to farmer David Hambleton of Sisters Hill Farm in New York, “I can’t imagine a CSA without kale!” And I would include chard in that sentiment. Fresh dark green leafies are vitamin- and mineral-rich foods, versatile, delicious, and abundant. If these vibrant, leafy veggies are new to you, I highly recommend the Asparagus to Zucchini cookbook. Also check out my basic greens formula and the excellent chard recipe contributed by CSA member Lori Thomas in Recipes section!
Garlic Scapes- whoa, what is that? Curly-cue flowering stems of the garlic plant! We pull these stems from the centers of the garlic plant (one per plant) this time of year for two reasons: 1. They are delicious and versatile- just like fresh garlic, but no peeling required. 2. Removing the flowering stems redirects plant energy into forming bigger bulbs below ground, rather than on flowering. So we get bigger garlic bulbs later this summer! Garlic scapes =win-win situation. Check out the article about scapes (with quotes from Richard Andres of Tantre Farm, where I used to work!) from Ann
Arugula- A nutty, slightly spicy salad green, to be tossed with your baby lettuce mix, or enjoyed on its own- one of my favorite ways (besides salad) to enjoy arugula is wilted with pasta- see Recipes section.
Baby Salad Mix w/edible flowers- an almost entirely lettuce mix this week- the baby kales, mustards, and other non-lettuces we like to include are still too tiny to harvest- so probably next time you’ll get a spicy salad mix, light on the lettuce! Edible flowers include pansies (all colors), calendula petals (orange/yellow), nasturtiums (large red, yellow, or orange, spicy and sweet), and borage (blue-purple, super sweet). If you ever need edible flowers for cake decorating, etc. shoot me an email- there are plenty for CSA members!
Radishes- the first of the field-harvested roots! You may see Cherry Belle (classic round red) or French Breakfast (elongated pink and white). These red beauties have been growing under reemay (frost fabric) to keep insects off, so the leaves are gorgeous (you’ll see un-covered radishes later, where the roots are still beautiful but their leaves are perforated by flea beetles) and tender- did you know you can eat the leaves? They can be a little hairy, so cooking is advised- throw them in with your chard or kale! As for the roots, my favorite way to enjoy a radish is cut in halves or quarters, and lightly sprinkled with salt. The salt brings out the juiciness and mellows the spiciness (though these are fairly mild).
Scallions from the hoophouse. What’s the diff between scallions and green onions? They look the same, are interchangeable, and people use the terms interchangeably, but green onions are technically immature onions, which would grow into bulbs if left to grow. Scallions are bred not to bulb, so left to their own devices, they’d just grow into giant versions of themselves, perhaps resembling leeks. These scallions are pretty darn huge, but still tender- yes, you can use the entire thing, green and white parts! Some gourmet restaurants are even using the roots as garnishes- have you tried them? What do you think?
Maybe another surprise or two…


1. Wareberries available. Certified organic strawberries from our friends at Ware Farm in Bear Lake, to be picked up with your shares. Saturday shares: email me your order by Fri at 8 a.m. (I’ll call the Wares on Friday to place our order for Sat). Tuesday shares: Email me by Sunday midnight (I’ll place our Tues. order on Mon). Order as much or as little as you like: flats $37 (8 qts), quarts $5.

2. Films for Farms is back! This Saturday June 25, in the red barn at BPF. Everyone welcome. Potluck at 7, movie to start promptly at 8 pm. Films for Farms is always a free event, but donations are always accepted to cover popcorn and power. This month we will be showing 'SHAOLIN SOCCER', a Chinese cinematic masterpiece that the whole family can enjoy (not farmy at all, but it’ll be FUN!). Check out the trailer: Bring your own chair and clothing to be comfortable sitting in the barn. Please also bring your own tableware and dish to pass if you’re coming for the potluck.

3. Potato Mulching Party! Mulch helps keep moisture in, weeds down, and potato beetles at bay, while providing more growing space for the spuds themselves, resulting in higher yields and healthier plants. The more the merrier for this big job. WEDNESDAY JUNE 29 3-7 P.M. Wear pants, long sleeves and gloves. Dinner potluck afterward- come for any or all!

4. Cut Flower shares, Coffee orders, and A to Z cookbooks still available.

Field Notes

The Hot Crop Planting Party last Thursday was great! Thanks so much to the CSA members, friends, and even one neighbor who came out to haul compost, dig holes, and plant tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. After planting, we got irrigation set up in that field just in time for the rainstorms, of course. Next time you’re at the farm, take a look at what your fellow CSA members have accomplished (in the field right by the road). Potatoes are closest to the road, and then come the peppers, then eggplants, and tomatoes are farthest from the road. Next step: mulching potatoes (mulching party next week! See Announcements) Later this season, you’ll be able to U-pick cherry tomatoes up in this field.

Hoophouse update: Tomato plants are bushy and burly- with lots of green tomatoes already growing! We’re trellising them today, to make for easier harvesting and healthier plants. Hoophouse salad mix: gone (chickens are loving it!). Kale and chard: unstoppable. Radicchio: gorgeous. Mini bell pepper plants: starting to make fruit. Eggplants: showing new growth and looking good! Basil plants: going in this week (along with the outdoor basil). Mexican sour gherkin plants: going in this week. I’m excited to share this weird new cucumber with you all- they’re a lemony-flavored tiny cuke, perfect for pickling or eating fresh.

Coming on strong: spring brassicas and peas! Spring brassicas are the early broccoli (still a few weeks out, but loving this rain), kohlrabi, Napa cabbage, conehead green cabbages, and kale. We are blessed with an abundance of peas this year; the first pods are just ripening, and I think we’ll have enough for CSA shares next week. If you like picking peas, come on out to the farm; we will put you to work, and you’ll take home some extras!

Just germinated this past week and looking really good with all the rain lately: melons, summer squash, cucumbers, all in the garden by the “front yard”- the space we call the Old Garden, since it was the first garden we ever cultivated here. Also recently sprouted (and going in the ground soon): fall brassica transplants in trays. These include cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens, followed soon by more kohlrabi.

The weeds are super happy about all the rain, too- and we could use your help weeding and mulching! If you’ve got a few hours and want to dig in the dirt, please give the farm a call: 231 933 7256; we’ll put you to work.


Michelle’s All-Time Favorite Greens
(this will get you through a lot- keep it in mind as different greens cycle through your share this summer!)

1 generous bunch greens of your choice, washed and chopped (include stems, chopped)
1or more allium of your choice, chopped (could be a few garlic scapes, a bunch of scallions, one onion, a few garlic cloves, 1 bunch chives, 1 leek, etc) (*note: “Allium” refers to any member of the onion family, each of which has slightly different flavors and textures, but are interchangeable in this case!)
olive oil
either lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, or balsamic vinegar
optional: 1-2 generous handfuls toasted walnuts or other nuts or sunflower seeds
optional: 1-2 generous handfuls dried cherries or raisins

Heat generous amount of olive oil on medium heat in a skillet or wok big enough to hold all your greens. Add chopped allium of your choice and chopped stems of the greens, sauté til soft. Add chopped leaves, and optional dried fruit. Sauté til nice and wilty and still bright green, NOT mushy and gray. For chard, beet greens, or spinach, this is a quick process- a few minutes. For kale and heartier leaves, it could be 5-8 min. Just keep an eye on the greens, and test them til they’re as cooked as you like them. Remove from heat, toss with generous amount of acidic condiment (vinegar or lemon), optional nuts/seeds, and salt/pepper. Serve with rice, pasta, couscous, or anything else you like.
For Asian greens (which you’ll see later in the season), swap out lemon juice for rice vinegar, and walnuts for sesame seeds. Maybe include some grated ginger and hot sauce.

The basic formula is
Greens + allium + acid + oil + nuts/seeds + optional yummies (dried fruit or ginger, etc)

Play around with different things in each of these roles- you’ll have lots of opportunities!

BAKED BEANS WITH SWISS CHARD from the Food Network Magazine, via Lori Thomas

Serves 6

1 TBLS EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1/2 small onion chopped
1 small celery, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt and pepper
small bunch chard or greens, stems removed, leaves chopped
1/2 cup diced smoked turkey or lean ham
1 15-oz can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
2 15-oz cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can navy beans, undrained
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme and oregano.

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are soft and golden, about 7 minutes.
2. Add the chard, turkey, and 1/4 cup water to the skillet; cook, stirring, until the chard wilts slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, increase the heat to medium high and simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the pinto beans, then add the navy beans and their liquid. Add the parsley, thyme and oregano and return to a simmer.
3. Coarsely mash about one-quarter of the beans in the skillet with a potato masher or fork to thicken the mixture; season with salt. Transfer to a 2 quart baking dish. Cover and bake 45 minutes, then uncover and bake 10 more minutes.

Friday, June 17, 2011

CSA Week 1, 2011

Hi CSA friends! It's here- CSA season, and for those of you who've been at market this spring, this comes as no surprise, but we are rich in greens! So as CSA members, you are, too. I am so honored to grow food for you all, and so grateful to be part of this super supportive community- thanks for joining the farm and/or shopping from BPF at market.

This week's share includes a bounty of fresh greens and alliums:
1. Mesclun/Baby Salad mix- mainly mixed baby lettuces with a smattering of mizuna and/or baby kale this week. Mesclun changes every week with the season- see how many baby greens you can identify in each week's mix.
2. Rhubarb- just in time for strawberry-rhubarb pie! We'll be taking orders next week for Ware Farm's organic strawberries, or you can buy them at market from Sandee and Bernie Ware themselves. Rhubarb is also excellent in Rhubarbade- put rhubarb through a juicer or blend and strain, add to sparkling water with or without sweetener. Enjoy.
3. Swiss Chard or Kale- we'll include kale or chard every week, at least until you cry Uncle on these greens. If you're new to kale (or chard) I recommend the Asparagus to Zucchini cookbook (available to CSA members for $14, to everyone else for $20). My favorite preparation is a quick saute with a few onions/garlic in olive oil, then douse with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. Toasted walnuts, dried cherries, and crumbled goat cheese on top all optional. OR you can always juice or smoothie them!
4. Chives with edible flowers- chop the leaves into almost anything you're preparing, and sprinkle flowers on top!
5. Green garlic with scapes- this garlic is technically past "green garlic," as it has started to form individual cloves and is growing scapes, but the papery wrappers around the cloves are still soft, and you can still use the leaves, as well as the scapes- treat the entire thing as fresh garlic. No vampires allowed.
6. Lettuces- either bodacious red leaf or creamy red butterhead- these are the last of the spring hoophouse lettuces; the next planting will come from the field in a few weeks.
7. Spinach (Tues the 14th) or an equally awesome alternate surprise (Saturday shares)(and no I'm not just saying that- it's a pretty cool surprise; it's just not spinach).

1. Asparagus to Zucchini cookbooks are in! If you ordered one, please bring $14 if you're a CSA member; $20 if you're not. There are a few extras, so just ask if you need more.
2. The Hot Crop Planting Party was excellent- in addition to Jason, Julie, and myself, five CSA members, one neighbor, and three farm friends came out to plant over 400 eggplants, over 400 peppers, and 200 tomatoes- and we planted 300 more tomatoes after the party. So plan on some serious ratatouille this summer. Thanks SO MUCH to everyone who braved the dire weather predictions and pitched in.
3. The first film of our Films for Farms series is slated for Saturday June 25- all ages, everyone welcome. Bring your own lawn/camping chair and whatever you need to be comfortable on the floor of the barn. Sat. evening, potluck (7-ish?) followed by a film: TBA, all ages, and not necessarily farm-related, but it'll be good, I swear.

Check the farm web site ( and facebook (Birch Point Farm) for some new farm photos soon!