Friday, July 22, 2011

Birch Point CSA Week 6 news

Birch Point CSA
2011 Week 6!

In Your Share This Week:

Beets! (see picture at right) The first “big” beets of the season, with lovely beet greens. You saw beet greens with baby beets on them a few weeks ago- these were the thinnings that we pulled out to allow the beets to grow as big and fat as they are now (and they’ll continue growing). This week you may see classic dark red (Early Wonder variety) or pink-red with a red and white bullseye pattern inside (Chioggia variety). Chioggia taste just like red beets, but won’t stain your kitchen red. Some people think the beet greens are the best part- use them just like spinach or Swiss chard (and vice versa).

Kohlrabi (see picture above- rotated on its side; but picture it upright) ;)- green or purple, this spaceship-esque vegetable is one of my favorites. I like to eat it raw best. Peel the skin and slice the flesh into wedges or sticks, and sprinkle with a little salt (or not), and enjoy like carrot sticks. You can also grate it into slaw, or cook it any way you’d cook broccoli- steam, roast, stirfry. The leaves are also edible, and taste like broccoli or cabbage. Use them any way you’d use kale or cabbage.

the second installment of tiny, early broccoli. Your fall broccoli heads will be bigger, but for now, the heat is causing these early, summer broccoli to head up and spread out before they had a chance to get very big. The flavor is delicious, and texture is tender, however, and you can eat the broccoli leaves! (also just like kale or cabbage)

Peas- sugarsnap and snow. It’s the end of the world as we know it, for these cool weather-loving sweeties. The heat wave has done them in. We may get a few more pints for next week, but pea season was just short and sweet this year. You may, however, see pea shoots in your shares later this season- we grown them as greens, for salad when they’re tiny or cooking when they’re bigger, and they taste just like peas!

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- hopefully everyone’s settled into the kale-chard routine by now, and you’ve come up with your favorite ways of preparing these CSA staples. Let me know your fave recipes, and I’ll share them in future newsletters.

Baby Salad Mix with edible flowers- Despite the crazy heat, our baby lettuce patch is going strong (surprise!). You may get arugula flowers on the side, since some people love arugula and others can do without it- pluck these blossoms from the stems and sprinkle on salad or any dish, or enjoy them on their own- they are sweet! (yes, that means the arugula patch bolted, but there’s another going in next week, so look for arugula again later this summer)


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.

Field Notes

This past Sunday night we got 0.6” of rain! Biggest rain in over a month, biggest news on the farm. Then we launched into that amazing heat wave. That meant two things: very wilty farmers and huge, fast growth of plants! Thankfully our irrigation is still working (I just got news that our friends Ryan and Andrea at Providence Farm in Eastport have to sink a new well and are stuck without enough irrigation right now- please send good thoughts their way). A few varieties of lettuce and all the arugula bolted from the heat (sent up flowering stems as a response to heat stress, making them bitter and unusable), but most things thrived. First fava bean and summer squash/zucchini harvest today (just a few- the tidal wave is still a few days out)! You’ll see favas, zukes and summer squash in your shares next week. ALSO just in: the first hoophouse tomato harvest! And also just a few- we’ve been snacking on them but there are almost enough ripe ones for shares- next week you’ll see a few cherry tomatoes and/or early slicing tomatoes in your shares! It feels like the crops are finally catching up to the season. We finally got the north garden tilled for planting fall brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collard greens, rutabagas, etc) most of which are popping out of their trays and can’t wait to get in the ground. Sunflowers, which got planted super late, are finally growing- it’ll be a few weeks til the first blossoms though. Flower share people: I think we’ll start in August instead of late July. I’ll keep you posted.
The MSU Student Organic Farm Organic Farmer Training Program students went on their annual “study afarm” trip to northern lower MI farms this past week. Since 2007, Birch Point has served as their annual base camp while they visit 6-8 farms in the area, in addition to BPF, chat with farmers, gain exposure to a variety of farms, and of course swim in Lake Michigan! We hosted 15 student farmers and five staff who camped out in the yard, held a bonfire Monday night (after Sunday night’s rain!), and cooked delicious meals for us and themselves.

Meet Your Farmers

Gotta put this one off again, til next week. It’ll be good. ;)


Beet Greens with Goat Cheese

1 bunch beet greens, cleaned and chopped (including stems)
1 onion or 2-3 scallions, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
salt and pepper
balsamic vinegar
walnuts, chopped and toasted
heavy cream or half-and-half (optional)
Goat cheese- either the dry, crumbly kind (my favorite) or the soft creamy type

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil over med heat for a few minutes til soft. Add chopped beet greens, sauté til wilted but still bright green (just a few minutes). Add walnuts, salt, pepper. If using cream, add, stir, and remove from heat. Toss with generous quantity of balsamic vinegar. Serve with a significant quantity of crumbly goat cheese on top, or creamy goat cheese stirred in. Serve over pasta (especially good with the creamy version) or rice.

Beets on a Grill

Beets- greens removed, but skins, tops (where leaves attach), and roots still intact- to keep juices in while grilling.
Olive Oil
Aluminum Foil

Heat up grill. This is especially practical if you are already grilling other things. Coat beetroots generously in olive oil, wrap tightly in foil, place on/in grill for 30-60 min, depending on temperature and size of beets. For large beets, go the full hour. For smaller beets, you may get away with shorter grill time. The point is to cook them til the insides are meltingly soft, and the outsides are caramelized. Slice and eat the insides and skins, roots and all- it’s kind of like beet cracklin’s.

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