Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Birch Point CSA Week 9: Soil Moisture=Increased Production and Weeds!

It finally feels like bounty has returned-- we are proud to share this week's harvest with you, and look forward to more diversity and quantity over the weeks to come.  We'll try to make sure your boxes are full and delicious without overwhelming you.  Keep in mind: we'll send an end-of-season survey, to help guide decisions next season, but we welcome your feedback any time!  Keep the comments, suggestions, and questions coming, please.

In Your Share This Week:

Swiss Chard- this most gorgeous of leafy greens is in the beet and spinach family-- in fact, chard and beets are the same species (Beta vulgaris)!  Our favorite preparation is a simple saute-- saute onions and/or garlic with chopped chard stems in olive oil, add in chopped leaves and saute til tender (not mushy).  Douse with your favorite acidic condiment (CSA member Kat Eldred recommends the espresso balsamic vinegar from Fustini's).  Perhaps some grated parmesan or toasted, chopped pecans?

Italian Parsley-- these generous bunches are intended to be used like a vegetable, not a garnish. Did you know parsley is an excellent source of vitamin C?  Besides its nutritional value, parsley is delicious-- of course there's the classic tabbouleh salad (chopped parsley, chopped tomatoes, diced onions/garlic, bulgur wheat, lots of lemon juice and olive oil), but use your imagination-- parsley is wonderful as the base of a salad, tossed with marinated and/or grilled summer squash chunks, coarsely chopped and tossed into hot (or cold) soup by the handful- not just a sprinkle, a handful ;)  And of course parsley potatoes  (to die for-- toss lots of chopped parsley with hot, bite-sized potato chunks and LOTS of butter, some salt and pepper. Cream=optional)!  It's hard to go wrong with Italian parsley-- we prefer it to the curly parsley for its superior flavor AND ease of cleaning (less dirt gets stuck in the large, flat leaves), but any parsley is a good thing.

Summer Squash/Zucchini OR Cucumbers-- more of these beautiful and tasty members of the Cucurbit family.  Check last week's blog for a marinated summer squash salad recipe.  Use little cucumbers the same way you'd use big ones. cheers!

Sweet onions-  you may get Walla Walla or Ailsa Craig, the two varieties we grew this year.  Sweet onions are fantastic as themselves (try marinating thick rings along with cucumber slices and serve as salad OR throw slices or halves on the grill just til hot) or in cooking-- they're not as pungent as yellow or red storage onions, so even the onion-averse might decide they like onions after all after trying these.

Beans!  Beans are really coming in like mad.  The pole beans (yellow Gold of Bacau, green Fortex, or Purple Podded Pole Beans) are producing crazy amounts of beans, and the second planting of bush beans (green, purple, and yellow) are coming into their own and starting to produce.  You could see any of these or a mix in your share this week. Try a fresh (uncooked) chopped bean, parsley, sweet onion, and cherry tomato salad with vinaigrette- yum.

Potatoes- the very first potato harvest!  We sample-harvested a bunch of different varieties just to check progress, and ended up with a nice amount to share with you. You may see Anushka (medium yellow-skinned white flesh), Purple Viking (purple skin with red streaking and white flesh), Bintje (small yellow/tan-skinned, pale yellow flesh), or any number of different redskin varieties.  A few shares may get fingerlings-- tiny potatoes with thin, tender skin that you can cook and eat whole. We determined that most of the spuds could stand to size up a little more, so we'll probably skip a couple of weeks at least before the next potato harvest.  It promises to be a GREAT potato season once they do size up!

Pea shoots- Saturday and Monday shares got pea shoots in their shares this week. Our favorite thing to do with them is a very brief, hot saute with generous amounts of minced garlic.  You can also toss them into any salad or at the end of any stir-fry.  They taste like peas, as you might imagine, and are a fun twist on greens.  Tuesday and Wednesday shares will get pea shoots in a couple of weeks, and extra beans for the time being.

Tomatoes- finally the field-grown tomatoes are starting to ripen!  Up til now we've gotten about a dozen tomatoes TOTAL from outdoors (not hoophouse-grown).  This week marks a turning point in that we finally have some ripe heirlooms coming in. At CSA pickup, your farmers are happy to help identify the different varieties by name and characteristics, if you're curious. If you just want to slice and eat them and do your own taste comparison, that's great too.  Fingers crossed for a critical mass to continue to ripen each week til frost! tip: never store a tomato in the fridge.  Keep at room temp for best eating quality (flavor and especially texture).

Cherry Tomatoes- the same mix of reds, Sungolds, bumblebees, and black (brown) varieties you've seen the past several weeks.  Enjoy!

OK, that's the list for now-- more juicy farm news next week ;)

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