Wednesday, July 27, 2011

BPF CSA Week 7 news

Birch Point CSA
2011 Week 7!

In Your Share This Week:

Fava Beans! These beautiful Italian shelling beans are unlike any other bean- the flavor is unique and wonderful. If you like beans at all, you will love these. The trick is that they take some work to enjoy. Each bean (inside the pod) needs to be peeled before eating- the easiest way is to steam or blanch them first, then they slip from skins easily. Click here for instructions. Last night we made a fava “pesto” on bruschetta- toasted bread rubbed with fresh garlic, then topped with fava spread and shaved parmesan. See recipes section- it’s super easy if you have a food processor, and even if you mash them by hand it’s not hard, just takes longer.

The very first hoophouse Tomatoes! This is exciting, friends. In a year with such a cold, wet, late spring, we’ve got ripe tomatoes in July. I fall in love with the hoophouse over and over. This is just the beginning- a mix of cherry tomatoes and small slicers- there will be so many more!

Summer squash and/or Zucchini- again, the first of the season! You may see classic green zucchini, Costata Romanesca (ribbed zukes), eightball zukes (looks just like the name implies), yellow straight-neck or crook-neck squash, patty pan squash (the bumpy little yellow and green guys that look like spaceships), or light green summer squash. Guess what- while each has their own shape and color, they are ALL interchangeable in recipes; yes, even zucchini bread (any overgrown summer squash/zuke is perfect for that). My favorite is sliced and fried in butter til just browned on the edges, with salt and pepper, and fresh herbs chopped on top.

Napa (Chinese) Cabbage- instead of baby salad mix, this week’s salad greens are Napa. We’re giving the baby lettuce a rest to regrow for next week (we’ve been hitting it pretty hard) and give the newest planting a chance to size up before its first harvest. Napa is a cabbage, so it has a little of that cabbage “bite” to it, but it is mild and tender. So use Napa any way you’d use lettuce- shredded, chopped, whole leaves as a “bed” for other dishes, etc.

Scallions – as far as I know, everyone loves scallions. So we grow a lot. Please let me know how this quantity is working for you.

Beets! Same as last week- who wouldn’t want beets two weeks in a row? If you're not going to use them immediately, to store,remove greens and store separately- if attached, the leaves will evaporate moisture, causing the root to shrink and become soft. Without leaves, the roots can keep for weeks or even months in plastic in the fridge. Some people think the beet greens are the best part- use them just like spinach or Swiss chard (and vice versa).

Kohlrabi- same (who wouldn’t want kohlrabi two weeks in a row?) ;)

Broccoli- the third installment of tiny, early broccoli. It keeps trickling in- I’d like to give you all two heads at a time when they’re this small, but there are only enough heads maturing at any one time to give everyone one per week for now. Enjoy!

Fresh Garlic- the first of the season! This garlic is fresh out of the ground, not cured at all, so refrigerate and use it up. It won’t store for months like fall garlic after curing, but it’s pungent and delicious, and easy to peel since it’s still so moist. Use the upper portion of the plant for making soup stock. See Announcements section for the 2011 Garlic Harvest Party, when you can help get the garlic out of the ground and into the barn.

Kale or Swiss Chard-
Katherine DeGood said, “Thanks to a few busy weeks I was inspired to blanch and freeze a bunch of chard and kale to use in my veggie lasagna this winter. Thought it might be good to pass on to those who aren't sure about being able to use it all right away. I blanched it for 2 minutes, drained and cooled it in a colander and then lightly got the excess out once it was cool before putting it in a freezer bag.” Thanks Katherine! Also, see Recipes for Jason’s favorite Kale-Tomato summer slurry.


1. Garlic Harvest Party and Movie Night all rolled into one! Saturday July 30. Bring the whole family; we’re digging the Stinking Rose. The Plan: Dig, Pull, Bundle, Transport to barn, Hang up to cure. All ages, experience levels, and abilities welcome. Wear work clothes and gloves, and hard-soled shoes/boots if you want to be a digger. Potluck to follow, featuring anti-vampire fare. Stay after the potluck for a movie in the barn (featuring popcorn and a good vampire flick). Schedule: Garlic Harvest: 3-6 p.m. Potluck 6-ish til 7-ish. Movie directly after. Come for any or all of it! Bring friends.

2. Heart of Summer shares available- a new thing for 2011. Summer-only shares are six weeks long, and are intended for folks who are in northern MI only for summer, who want to try CSA but couldn’t commit to an entire season, or just heard about CSA and can’t wait til next year to join! Cost: $200, starts last week of July and runs through August. Please refer friends and fudgies.

3. Did you see Julie’s CSA Family Photo Album questionnaire that came around two weeks ago? Julie wants your stories- please reply to her email with your info, if you’d like to be part of the album. We’ll have hard copies available too, so you can fill in your info and leave that with us at CSA pick-up (or return it the following week).

Field Notes
This Tuesday, Jason, Julie, and a crew of volunteers pulled off CSA harvest without me! I had to be out of town (for a funeral, my mom’s brother died suddenly the week before), so the fearless crew ran the show here. They did all the chores, installed more irrigation, handweeded, hoed, watered, picked potato beetles, and harvested. They did such a great job that I’m considering taking more long weekends off. ;) I am thankful to have such capable and generous people here on the farm this year- thanks so much to everyone who pitched in from Saturday to Tuesday.
In other news, we’re getting to the season when we harvest every day- things like tomatoes (in the hoophouse for now, but from the field soon enough), summer squash, beans (1-2 weeks out), cucumbers (2-3 weeks out). If you love harvesting and would like to come out one afternoon a week, or even one hour a week, and “adopt a crop,” we will train you and set you loose! Let me know when you’re coming.
Once we get the rest of the fall brassicas in the ground this week, we will be at our summer “plateau”- when we’re not planting much additional space, just maintaining the somewhat crazy level of activity we’ve established. The plateau usually comes in July but got pushed back like everything else from the late spring. The first two weeks of August are Julie and Jason’s vacation weeks, respectively, so we will be down one pair of hands for those two weeks. If you or anyone you know can pitch in a day or two, we’ll put you to work.
I’m looking for a good, heavy-duty gas-powered weed whip. Do you have such a thing languishing in your garage or pole barn? If I can find a used one, that’s my first choice, but if not, I’ll start looking at new ones. What recommendations do experienced weed-whippers have? Brands, sizes, features, etc? I’m thinking string and blade attachments and a shoulder strap. Beyond that, I don’t know what to look for or consider- help please?

Meet Your Farmers

This one’s about me- Michelle. I’m from Michigan; I love the great lakes state and its sweet water, hills, shores, forests, all of it. I have moved away and come back several times, and I think this time it’s for good. I grew up in suburbia in downstate Michigan, and my family always had a little garden, but not a farm. In college, I thought I’d study French or drama, but I took one plant class and it was all downhill to botany from there. I first encountered CSA at the Community Farm of Ann Arbor, the first CSA farm in Michigan. My post-college housemates were apprenticing there, and I volunteered with them a few times and was hooked. I’ve worked at farms in Massachusetts (first full season was an internship at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, MA in 2000) and Michigan. My masters degree is in horticulture from MSU, and while I was there, I managed the Student Organic Farm through its first three years of life, and, along with the student farmers, started their year-round CSA. In 2006 I took a five-month bicycle tour of CSA farms in Michigan, which landed me here in Leelanau county. My goal here is to make this farm as self-sufficient as possible, closing the gaps in our nutrient cycles and minimizing off-farm inputs. In the next three to five years, I plan on myself and at least one other full time farmer making a living exclusively from the farm (no off-farm jobs), employing several local folks seasonally, and expanding the farm internship program to be more comprehensive and fine-tuned. On the odd occasion that I’m not working on the farm, you might find me walking the dog to the lake to swim, cooking, serving on the board of ISLAND, or xc skiing every day in the winter


Fava Beans
: true confession time- the only thing I’d ever done with favas was blanch the or sauté in olive oil then eat with salt and pepper and maybe lemon juice. That is quite enough- they are that good. However, I looked up “how to cook fava beans” the other day and came up with some great ideas- many from I made a version (blanched beans, not poached in oil) of the fava “pesto” to spread on garlic-rubbed toasts last night, and it was amazing. A few entries that jumped out at me are below. Let me know YOUR favorite fava dish! We may have one more week of favas, or these may be the only ones; hard to say if the small ones in the field will size up or not, with the recent heat.

30 seconds in boiling water is long enough to make the skins easy to remove.

Try some raw after you've peel them to see if you like the flavor. When they get a little older they can get a bit bitter and starchy, in which case they would be best cooked more.

My favorite prep is to poach about 75% of the peeled beans in olive oil over low heat for about 10 minutes. Then put the poached beans, reserved raw beans, and oil in a food processor, add salt and pepper, and puree. Add more olive oil if necessary to make it creamy. Spread over crostini and top with black pepper, shaved pecorino, and a few drops of truffle oil. Pure heaven. Serve with an Alto Adige Sauvignon Blanc.
From user nja on May 17, 2006 11:30AM on

Another great vegetarian dish with dried favas comes from Umbria. Purée the reconstituted and cooked beans with a slice or two of crustless white bread soaked in milk. Beat in some EVOO to lighten the texture. Keep warm. Meanwhile, parboil some rapini, then drain and sauté it in olive oil in which you've browned a few smooshed garlic cloves. Spread the purée on a platter, top with the rapini, drizzle with more EVOO and serve, preferably with some crusty peasant bread. Amazing synergy of flavours, one of those greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts dishes. (MF note: you can sub broccoli for rapini; it won’t be as bitter, but will have excellent flavor and color)
From user carswell on May 17, 2006 11:52AM on

Summer Kale-Tomato Slurry by Jason Dudycha

2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 med onions, chopped coarsely (or 4-5 scallions, white and green parts)
olive oil
3-4 med tomatoes, chopped large
3-4 kale leaves, incl. stems, chopped coarsely
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
pasta or rice

First sautee garlic and onions in 2 Tbsp olive oil. When browned, add tomatoes, 2 Tbsp water, 1 Tbsp salt. Simmer 1-2 min or until tomatoes are soft. Add 1 more Tbsp olive oil, vinegar, and nutritional yeast. Stir until creamy consistency. Add kale, mix all together, cover, simmer 1-2 minutes. Salt to taste. Remove from heat, serve with pasta or rice.

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