Friday, June 29, 2012

CSA Week 4: Another week of extreme weather (June 30, July 3 &4)

What's in your share this week? A PESTO package! Fresh Garlic- the first bulbs pulled from the ground! These have papery wrappings between the cloves, unlike green garlic, but are so fresh and juicy you'd never mistake them for cured, stored garlic- yes, your fingers will get sticky from handling this stuff. It's potent and delicious. . . .................................... Basil from the hoophouse! (these first two items are your pesto kit- add your own olive oil, toasted pine nuts or walnuts, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper) . ...................................... . Peas! Snow (flat podded and slightly curled) or sugar snap (round-podded but straight)- I doubt these will make it past the raw snacking stage, so no recipes for these sweet treats. . . ........................................ Beets! Either pink (Chioggia- with the bullseye pattern inside) or classic red. Use both interchangeably- Pink beets taste just like red ones, but don't stain your hands or kitchen red. . . .......................................... Kale- back on the scene. Have you tried kale chips? Tear washed and dried leaves into chip-sized pieces. Toss in a bowl with a small amount of olive oil- not too much, now- and salt. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 200 until crisp but not burnt (you can also use a dehydrator; takes longer but won't burn). OR bake on higher heat for a short time to crisp faster, but it's easy to burn them using this method- pay attention! . . .............................................. Baby Salad Mix- THIS JUST IN: Baby Lettuce was born at 6 p.m. today at Birch Point Farm (to Chelsea Hummon and Matt Nester, my farm-mates for the season). Mama, papa, and baby are ALL healthy and doing great. They'd love to see visitors after about a week. Call first. He was 7 lbs, 12 oz, 20 inches long, and is currently still going by Baby Lettuce until further notice. Welcome!!!!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

*Last* week's share (Week 3)

Whoops, I dropped the ball on blogging last week- sorry! In case you were wondering about any of those things in your share, here's the rundown: (and look for another blog posting tomorrow with THIS week's share (for Sat and for Tues coming up) . Napa Cabbage: the big, light green-leaved, white-ribbed head vegetable, with savoyed, or crinkly, leaves. Use just like lettuce, possibly with an Asian-themed dressing, OR saute/stir-fry. . Komatsuna: The elegant, long bok choi-like thing (dark green leaves, lighter green ribs/stems). Use just like choi (in a stirfry is my favorite) OR enjoy raw for just the tiniest bite of spice (it's in the mustard family; so it has a little kick, but cooking it nullifies the bite). . Radishes: for your salad? roasted? chopped, salted, and piled on Pleasanton rye toast with cream cheese? options are really endless.... . Beet greens: more beet thinnings! It is a GREEN share this week, hey? that time of year :) Use beet greens any way you'd use chard or spinach; bonus is you get little beets on the ends of some of them! My fave: see last week's chard recipe- sub beet greens. . Scallions- to complement your Komatsuna and/or Napa stir-fry: slice thinly on a diagonal and sprinkle on top after removing from heat. voila. delicious, fresh onion flavor with crisp, fresh texture- USE THE GREEN AS WELL AS THE WHITE PART! I once had a farmers' market customer tell me she discards the green part because it's tough -- guess what; tough scallions are NOT fresh, and fresh scallions aren't tough! Eat the greens. They're fresh, tender, and delicious. . Cilantro- to round out your Asian meal, depending on the cuisine you're going for. Did you know cilantro is technically a cool weather crop? That means that for all its association with tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, etc (all heat-loving crops), it would rather grow in spring and fall (sometimes through winter in the hoophouse!), so I'm mystified as to how these heat-loving crops came to be paired, culinarily, with cilantro. Try it as a generous sprinkle on top of a coconut milk curry with all the greens in your share- served over rice. (I use Thai Kitchen curry -red OR green- in the little jar with a black lid; directions on the jar). . Garlic Scapes! The very last of these for the season- if you're tired of scapes here are two ideas: 1. "onion" rings: first, steam scapes (whole) to tenderize. If there are multiple curls, or if they are very long, cut into manageable pieces. Use a simple egg-and-flour batter to coat, then fry in hot oil til crispy (in a deep fryer OR in a generous amount of peanut or vegetable oil in a skillet). Follow a tempura recipe for specifics. 2. Scape pesto: scapes, olive oil, parmesan cheese (optional), salt, pepper, lemon juice, nuts/seeds of your choice (toasted pine nuts=optimal, but expensive; toasted walnuts= nearly as good, toasted sunflower seeds=surprisingly also nearly as good, mix of any of the above=delicious). Blend to a smooth green paste. Use or freeze. mmmmm.....potent! . Baby Salad Mix- the famous and delicious mesclun mix. We normally wash salad mix once (or twice if it's extra muddy, like after a hard rain), but still recommend that you wash it before eating. Enjoy!

Monday, June 18, 2012

CSA Week 2: June 16, 19, 20: the Heat Wave followed by Torrential Rain

In Your Share This Week:

Rhubarb! Remember the rhubarbade we served at the pre-season member meeting? Recipe: super simple. Chop 2-3 cups rhubarb finely. Add a little water, bring to boil, then simmer 5-10 min in a small saucepan. Use an immersion blender OR transfer to blender to blend to a fine, smooth puree. Add sugar, maple, or honey to taste (you're making a concentrate here; it's supposed to taste super strong at this point). Chill, and mix with water (tap or sparkling) at about a 2:1 ratio, or to taste. Serve iced. You can of course combine rhubarb with Ware Farm strawberries for strawberry-rhubarb pie, crisp, or compote, too. Chelsea Hummon recently treated us to a traditional Icelandic Rabarbarakokur (rhubarb cake), which I HIGHLY reccommend:

Lettuce- lovely green leaf, red leaf, mini green romaine, and/or red romaine- these heads (some large and luscious, some little) were supposed to trickle in over the next few weeks, but the heat wave has made them start to bolt, so we harvested most of them while they are still good. This week (and possibly next) you're rich in lettuce! In addition to fresh salads and sandwich-fixins, try lettuce wraps: treat the lettuce leaf like an eggroll wrapper, fill it with things you like to eat, roll it up, and enjoy as finger food.

Baby Salad Mix: You'd think with that much lettuce (big not baby), we'd hold off on the salad mix. But so many people love the baby mix so much that we decided to include a bag of it-- on the smaller size, but salad mix nonetheless. In addition to the four different red and green lettuces in the mix, you'll notice spicy greens, some with pinpoint holes -- flea beetles love plants in the mustard family, which most of our spicy salad components are, and the flea beetles have been ACTIVE the past few weeks. It's just cosmetic damage; the leaves are still tender, perhaps slightly spicier, and "lacy" too. Let me know what you think.

Swiss Chard- rainbow "Bright Lights" variety. Use chard any way you'd use spinach, including sauteed or steamed, in eggs, in lasagna, in spanikopita, etc. My favorite chard recipe: saute onions and garlic in olive oil til tender. Add chopped chard stems (do not discard! they're delicious and beautiful), saute a few minutes. Add chopped leaves, sautet til wilted and shiny, not gray and shapeless. Toss lightly with balsamic vinegar, add toasted pine nuts or walnuts, crumbly feta or goat cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with rice, pasta, or anything else you like.

More Green Garlic- since garlic came on so early this year (scapes), I suspect this may be the end of the green garlic for the season. Use the entire plant, tip to tip, just like fresh garlic (it IS fresh garlic, just with the whole plant attached). Slice through the forming bulb in cross-section to see the cloves just starting to form! pretty cool.

More Garlic Scapes- or garlic "scrapes" as folks are wont to say when they're new to scapes, or vice versa. Again, use just like fresh garlic. Scapes are the flowering stem of the garlic plant; we harvest them to a) eat, and b) encourage the plant to direct growth energy at a bigger bulb, rather than a flowering stalk. So we get two garlic harvests, AND a bigger bulb after all that. Scapes will keep for several weeks in your fridge, in a in airtight plastic bag.

Dill weed and or other herbs - possibly some with flowers! I love dill chopped onto salads, onto eggs, or in soups or lentils. You can also use it for grilling fish or other grillables- the dill flavor seeps into whatever you put on it.

That's it for now- in the upcoming weeks, look for more greens (salad and cooking greens), scallions, Asian greens, more herbs, possibly big beets (not thinnings), radishes, peas, and more. Enjoy those green leafies!

Friday, June 8, 2012

CSA Week 1: June 9, 12, 13

Q: What's in your share this week?
A: A whole lot of spring greens! Greens should keep for at least a week, in the refrigerator in an airtight bag/container. All fresh leafies (whether cooked or raw) are delicious with a simple olive oil and coarse salt dressing -lemon juice or vinegar optional-- start simple when you encounter a new vegetable, and then decide how you want to lively it up the next time, once you've gotten to know it better. Let me know what delicious preparation methods work for you.

Baby Salad Mix- a blend of 4 different baby lettuces, mizuna, red Russian kale, Asian greens, mustard greens, and beet greens


Beet Greens- the thinnings from our spring beet patch, some of these even have baby beets attached! Use beet greens any way you'd use spinach or Swiss chard- my favorite way is a simple saute in olive oil, with garlic or onion (try chopped garlic scapes!), dressed with a splash of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and crumbly goat cheese. Also delicious in eggs, in salad, or in a beet greens-asparagus lasagna!


Kale! "No one could imagine a CSA without kale" -David Hambleton, CSA farmer at Sisters Hill Farm in Dutchess County, NY. And it's true. We've had requests to go easy on the kale AND requests for more and more kale. I think we'll keep the kale coming, but at some point this summer, it will become optional- i.e. kale available, but as an optional extra; pick up if you like, leave it if you don't. (Technically that's true for everything in your share, but I wanted to make a special point of NOT overwhelming folks with kale. There it is- it will be officially optional soon)


Green Garlic AND Garlic Scapes- what? scapes already? Yes, lots of things were brought on early by the strangely warm early spring, including garlic. Normally you'd see just green garlic this time of year, with scapes a few weeks out, but we've got them! So you do, too. So... what is a scape, anyway? It's the flowering stem of a garlic plant. It grows up in the center of the plant, and we pick it for two reasons. One is to eat (use it just like fresh garlic; tip and all), and the other is that it directs the plant's growth into making a bigger bulb, rather than flower. And Green Garlic is an immature garlic plant, before the papery divisions between the cloves start to form- we offer the entire plant at this stage because you can use it all! Chop the bulb, stem, and leaves, and use just like fresh garlic (because it is). Scapes and green garlic will keep for weeks in the fridge, in an airtight bag. Scapes last a little longer; the green garlic will start to yellow after several days, still useable, but lovelier when it's green! FAVORITE scape recipe: Garlic Scape Pesto! In a food processor, combine a lot of scapes, some pine nuts or walnuts, olive oil, salt and pepper, and process til it's smooth enough for you. Taste- adjust seasoning if necessary. Stores for months in the fridge (if you can resist it that long).


Radishes- the first of these spring beauties; you'll see more this season. Not really a radish lover? Try them with salt- here's what I do: trim and wash radishes. Cut in half, cut side up. Sprinkle with fine sea salt, let set for 5-10 minutes. Enjoy. The salt cuts whatever bitterness might be there, and brings out the flavor. One of my favorite spring treats: coarsely chopped radish, well salted, on top of a toasted bagel from Frida (Hannah Israel's new cafe in Suttons Bay!), with cream cheese. Yum! If you don't plan to eat them within the week, be sure to remove the tops before storing- otherwise the leaves will transpire moisture out of the roots, leaving you with limp radishes. ech.

As promised, a lot of greens, and an easy start (hopefully easy to use the whole share within the week- something that may present a challenge in the months to come). I hope you'll enjoy your adventure through the season with us. In the weeks to come, you can look forward to more kale, swiss chard, *possibly* spinach if the heat didn't make it all bolt, more salad mix and radishes, kohlrabi, scallions, dill, more garlic scapes, leaf and romaine lettuces, favas, and peas! (pea plants are still pretty small- we may cut it close with the weather- peas love cool temps, so no guarantees of gobs and gobs of peas like last year- remember that cold, wet spring? Peas loved it) And always, we may surprise you with substitutions, extras, and/or practical jokes.
If you need any transplants for your garden, check with your farmers; we may have extras that you need.

Thank you SO MUCH for being part of the farm and supporting us this season. Buon appetito!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Info for CSA Members

LOTS OF INFO HERE- please read carefully Thanks so much to everyone who attended the CSA member meeting last week- we had a great turnout, some delicious snacks (thank you!), and we even ended close to on-time. ;) I hope those of you who missed it can come out for a farm tour sometime (just call/email ahead of time). In the meantime, please check over these notes/minutes for logistical info. Anyone who was there, please post a comment if you notice I've forgotten something here, or if you have additional ideas/comments. THINGS TO KNOW IMMEDIATELY-super important; do not delay: 1. CSA STARTS THIS COMING WEEK. Shares start small and light (greens, radishes, herbs) and get progressively denser, heavier, and more diverse as the season progresses. We like to ease you into it- the season works that way. Saturday people: pick up at market Sat. June 9th, between 8 and 11 a.m. Pick up your box with your name on it; bring it back empty the following week in exchange for a full one. Always remember your empty box. You get two for the season. Find the Birch Point stall at the far east end of the main drag (sidewalk facing river). Tuesday people: pick up at the farm Tues. June 12th between 4 and 6 p.m. Bring your own cooler, bag or box. If you missed the farm tour, leave yourself a little extra time to check out the farm before or after picking up produce. Farmers available to answer questions. Wednesday people: See Saturday notes, pick up Wed. June 13. I don't know exactly where our stall location will be on Wed- I'll let you know as soon as I do! 2. ORGANIC STRAWBERRIES AVAILABLE now from Ware Farm- we'll take orders AT PICK-UP. Sign up when you pick up your first share, to get your berries (any amount from one quart to multiple flats) with your share the following week. Prices TBA, usually a little less than Ware Farm sells them by the quart at market. Be thinking of how much jam you want to make, or frozen berries you want to squirrel away. 3. BREAD SHARES from 9 Bean Rows, delivered here to BPF for Tuesday pickup, or to market for Sat pickup ($63 for 18 wks, starting the second week of CSA- email me for the order form). Starts the NEXT week, so RSVP ASAP on this one. Optional Add-ons available NOW: 1. CUT FLOWER SHARES from Birch Point- starting late July running through September- eight weeks of bouquets for $64 (at least an $80 value) for CSA members, or $80 for non-members. Email to sign up. 2. COFFEE SHARES from our friends at Higher Grounds: sign up for as many weeks as you like (1-18), to receive 1 lb of freshly roasted, whole bean coffee with your share each week. You choose medium or dark roast; Higher Grounds supplies different varieties for you to try each week. $10 per week, payable to Birch Point Farm (I'll pay Higher Grounds all at once). Email for a sign-up form; your coffee share will start the week after we get your form and payment, no matter how many weeks you sign up for. Optional Add-ons available LATER: 1. Birch Point Honey- bring your own jars, we'll fill them with honey from the bees at Birch Point, from beekeeper Greg Griswold. Price lower than at the store, depends on the season- we'll keep in touch about this one. 2. More organic fruit as the season progresses- probably no tree fruit this year, but certainly blueberries, and possibly other berries. 3. Canning/preserving shares: large quantities of canning tomatoes, beans, basil, pickling cukes, etc. As each crop comes in, you'll have a chance to order bushels or pounds, IF we have a big enough harvest that not even CSA shares can take up the extra abundance! 4. Birch Point Eggs- from the free range biddies (just FYI, they are on pasture, but their supplemental feed is not organic). Available to purchase weekly at CSA pickup, no egg "shares" per se. Check in weekly for availability. QUESTION for YOU: Who wants a copy of Asparagus To Zucchini (cookbook made by and for CSA members and farmers' market customers- a cookbook organized alphabetically by vegetable rather than dish category- a wonderful reference for "mystery" veggies in your share, as well as for familiar items)? In the past, we've ordered cases of these and offered them at cost to members and friends ($15-17-ish). Do we need another case? If we get at least 10 requests, I'll order one. RSVP. Question #2: Option to buy more produce-- At the meeting, a couple of members asked about the option to purchase additional items at Tuesday CSA pick-up. Normally if we have extras, we'll offer them as optional extras, no charge. I try to compose shares in a way that will meet most people's needs (and we've gotten feedback about shares tending toward too-big) , so we try not to overwhelm you with TOO many optional extras. However, what do you think? If we were to offer extras to purchase (extra salad mix comes to mind), what would you want? Who's interested? Just soliciting your thoughts for now. Reply here or on the blog. Currently, your option is to come to the farmers' market, where you'll find all (most) of the items that you already got in your share, available to purchase on Saturdays or Wednesdays. COMMUNICATION/ STAY CONNECTED: 4 things to know: 1. Farm Blog: check it and/or follow it. Nearly all farm communication is via email and blog. (you're reading it right now) Sign up to "follow" the Birch Point Farm blog here: Click on "Join this Site" and enter your information. This is the way to receive weekly updates- what's in your share that week, announcements about optional add-on orders, farm events, etc.. YOU can post recipes, ideas, etc. here, too. 2. Email: I'm not going to send weekly emails- just nice newsletters once a month or so. Email me whenever you have a question. 3. Facebook: I'll post photos, announcements (only those that also go out on the blog; no need to join facebook if you don't want to), etc. If you visit us at the farm or at market and take photos, please share them- either post them on the blog, or to our facebook page (Birch Point Farm). 4. Web Site: It's a mostly-static page, intended to supply basic farm and CSA info. Please send friends here when they're looking for info about CSA or directions to the farm. VOLUNTEER/GET INVOLVED: 3 things to know: 1. Volunteers always welcome. Bring your skills, your energy, your favorite weeding tools. Just call or email first to let me know when you want to dig in the dirt. Non-garden volunteers also welcome: carpenters (fix windows, steps, hoophouse door, etc), firewood stackers, data-enterers, painters, lawnmowers- all invited. Seriously, if you have a penchant for lawn-mowing and weed-whipping, I've got many bags of extra salad greens for you. If you want to set up a regular schedule to volunteer, email or call. If you want to drop by once in a while, Friday mornings/early afternoons or Tuesday mornings are our harvest days, and the more the merrier. 2. Children's Garden: Any kid or (adult who likes kids) is welcome to the Children's Garden! Thanks to Shelly Charron (farm investor), and Colleen Losse (farm investor and my neighbor), the garden is up and running - also thanks to Matt Hess, who helped construct the gorgeous branch-trellis (that will soon be covered in, I think, cherry tomatoes). Coming: a sensory garden (think smell, touch, taste, etc), edible flowers, art space, etc. This is the spot where it's safe to walk, sit, pick, eat, plant, and otherwise get to know the plants. Stop by during CSA pick-up Tuesday afternoons, to help plant, weed, harvest, or just hang out in the bean teepee or soon-to-be sunflower house. 3. Major Farm Work Parties: We hold five per year: 1. Potato planting and Maypole dance, traditionally May 1 or so. 2. Hot Crop Planting Party (transplanting tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil), traditionally the first week of June. 3. Garlic Harvest Party- sometime in July, depending on the weather and garlic maturation rate. I'll be in touch closer to the date. 4. The Great Pumpkin, Squash, and Potato Harvest Party: sometime in late September/early October- get all the squash and pumpkins out of the field before the frost! This may be an all-hands-on-deck work party; depends on how much warning we get before the first fall frost 5. Garlic Planting, traditionally on or near Hallowe'en or Dia de los Muertos, so it may be a costume party. The bookend to the season- garlic planting concludes fall planting and seals the deal for next year. OK, that's it for now- if I've omitted anything, I'll send a follow-up (or you can post a comment if you think of something I missed). I also sent you this in the body of an email msg. Thank you so, so much for being part of the farm this season! I look forward to seeing you at your first pick-up day!