Thursday, June 30, 2011

CSA News Week 3

Birch Point CSA 2011
Week 3 News

In Your Share This Week:

Radicchio
- 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.

Announcements

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 http://www.tcbikeparty.org/ or talk to Jason at market or the farm for more info.

Recipes

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!

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