Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Birch Point CSA 2015 Week 2 (Newsletter #1)

Welcome! or Welcome Back!
We are so glad you've joined our farm for the 2015 season.  Our first newsletter follows, and this is how newsletters normally go:
1. A list of this week's share items (what's in the box)
2. Announcements/ Need-to-Know important stuff (this is where you learn about changes to CSA pickup, optional extras available to order, on-farm events, etc)
3. Recipes featuring this week's items
and 4. (sometimes) Field Notes- what's up in the fields! Also occasional updates from the Children's Garden, "Meet your Farmers" interviews/profiles, photos from the farm this week, etc.

In Your Share This Week:  Lots of Green Loveliness, some Color, and some Sass

Peas! The very first snap peas of the season- there will be more, if the cool-ish weather holds. Peas love cool, moist times. We've got the cool; if we keep that and add the moist, we're rich in peas. Enjoy fresh (whole pod! these are NOT shelling peas) or tossed in a stir-fry at the last minute.

Baby salad mix- a lovely blend of baby lettuces, baby kales and chards, baby Asian greens, etc.  The salad mix composition changes every week, based on what looks best/what we have lots of.  See if you can identify all the different components!  *Note* All bagged or bunched greens have been rinsed but not washed ready-to-eat.  We recommend submerging in cool water, then spinning dry.

Radishes- more mild spring beauties- spring radishes, esp. those grown in the hoophouse or under row covers, are so much milder than the spicy summer versions of themselves-- the heat or moisture stress really "kicks it up" in the radish world. Enjoy the mellowness :)  If you think radishes are not your thing, give them two more chances: 1. Slice thinly or chop, then toss with a generous amount of SALT. Salt draws out the moisture, making them juicier and more tender, and also cuts the bitterness. Set for 5-20 min, then enjoy as is, or on a toasted bagel/baguette with cream cheese/goat cheese, or in your salad.  2. ROAST them just like potatoes- cut in half or leave whole, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, spread in a single layer in a cast iron skillet or on a cookie sheet, roast at 375ish for 30 min or so, til edges are brown and caramelized, and insides are soft and tender.  They'll taste of radish, but NOT of any bitterness. Mix with potatoes or other roots of your choice.

Bok Choy/Pac Choi (same thing, different spelling)- a most versatile leafy Asian vegetable.  My favorite preparation is a raw slaw (see recipe below), but any variation on stir-fry is a great use of choi as well. Some members will get green choi; others red. The red is starting to elongate, or bolt (send up a flower stalk), but we meticulously taste tested it, and it is still super tender and sweet, not stringy or spicy.  So go ahead and use the whole thing! Leaves, stalks, AND flower buds-- see below for the story of my introduction to "vegetable flower,"

Lettuces- lovely heads of red leaf, green romaine, butterhead, or red romaine.  Use for salad, sandwiches, on tacos, as lettuce wraps, etc. We love growing lettuces, so we hope you'll enjoy the rotating varieties we include with your share-- what are your favorites?

Garlic Scapes!  The flowering stalk of the garlic plant--- use just like fresh garlic, because it IS fresh garlic, just a part of the plant you don't see every day. That's because the scapes only grow in late spring/early summer for a 3-4 week window at most. We remove the scapes from the plants for two reasons: 1. They are DELICIOUS and tender, and a fun variation on garlic, one of our fave foods, and 2. Removing the flower stalk (before it flowers) allows the plant to redirect its energy into growing a bigger bulb instead of a flower, meaning more garlic (bigger bulbs) for us later in the summer.  This way we get two harvests of garlic from each plant!  My favorite preparation is on the grill: toss with olive oil, spread on the grill with anything else you happen to have on there, and let it go til blackened on the tips and soft/tender along the stem. Eat the whole thing. Or steam/blanch, then bread and deep fry, tempura-style, for the most decadent onion-ring-type-thing ever. Or just chop/mince and use in any recipe that calls for garlic.  AND they keep for weeks - just store in an airtight container, i.e. sealed plastic bag, in the fridge.

Locally-grown and milled FLOUR from Grand Traverse Culinary Flours. CSA member Bill Koucky produces both flours and culinary oils from locally grown ingredients!  The Record Eagle ran this story last year- check it out!  Flour AND oil will be available to order soon- this is just a sample to whet your baking whistles (and yes there IS buckwheat flour available for the gluten-averse of ye). Thanks Bill!


1. Cherry Festival Market Relocation: Starting Saturday, July 4, farmers' market is RELOCATED to the Old Town Parking Deck off Eighth or Lake St.  Saturday, July 4, Wed. July 8, and Saturday July 11, come find us and your CSA share on the ground level of the parking deck. As an incentive, the first 100 people to visit the market during festival days will receive $5 of their market purchases!

2. Bread and coffee shares ARE still available- you can start any week.  9 Bean Rows bread is $4 per week, bread is baker's choice- a rotating mix (one loaf per week).  Coffee is $10 per week, you sign up for light OR dark roast, and get a nice variety from within your roast preference each week (12 oz bag, whole beans).  Please email birchpointcsa@gmail.com to sign up or for more info.

3. Strawberries: if you (Tuesday people) ordered strawberries from Ware Farm, they are here today.  Sat and Wed people-- we are waiting, with baited breath, to hear if more berries will be available. The most reliable thing for you to do is to contact Bernie and Sandee Ware directly (warefarm@centurytel.net or 231 864 3242)and order flats for pick-up at market.  (Skip the Birch Point go-between entirely, since you'll be at market/in town for your CSA pickup anyway.)   I will let you know if we can take orders for more flats next week.

4. Tuesday people: remember BAGS and coolers or boxes to carry your share home.  We don't supply containers for on-farm pickups. However, we do accept donated stashes of used, clean plastic bags.  Bring your collection and leave it in the barn for when you (or fellow CSA members) forget your containers.


Asian-ish Slaw, using Choi of your Choice, or any Asian leafy green, for that matter :)

1 head bok choi (or substitute a small napa cabbage, komatsuna, or a few tatsoi heads), finely chopped across the grain, stems,  leaves, and all.
1-3 garlic scapes, thinly sliced
1-3 dried hot peppers, crushed with the side of a knife or mortar-and-pestled, OR 1 tsp ground cayenne (optional)
1 med onion, thinly sliced
1 handful cilantro, coarsely chopped
1-2 sweet peppers, very thinly sliced (optional)
1 carrot, grated or julienned
4 Tbsp black sesame seeds (sub white if black unavailable)
1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1 tsp ground ginger or one generous knob fresh ginger, minced
juice of one large or two small limes
generous sploosh of toasted sesame oil
salt and pepper

1. Make dressing: lime juice, sesame oil, ginger, cayenne, salt, pepper. Mix well in bottom of large bowl.
2. Add finely sliced/chopped vegetables: choi, scapes, peppers, carrots, onion. Toss with dressing.
3. Add seeds, toss.
4. Add cilantro just before serving, toss lightly-- keep that cilantro fresh til the last minute!
Enjoy room temperature or refrigerated.

"Vegetable Flower"
While I was the farm manager at the MSU Student Organic Farm, we hosted several student volunteer work parties. One spring day a class was ripping out the overgrown, weedy hoophouse that still harbored over-wintered Asian greens, among other things.   Blong, a Hmong student, questioned why we were ripping out the bolted Chinese cabbage, without distributing it to our CSA members. Upon investigation, it turned out that, at least in his family, bolted (flowering) Asian greens were a delicacy! And that there is a Hmong word for it, which translates to "vegetable flower."  We tried it, and he was right-- just as delicious as the non-bolting versions of themselves. Ever since, I've not hesitated to harvest and distribute to CSA members the bolting bok choi, napa, or other Asian greens-- they take a little explaining sometimes, but they are just long, there's nothing wrong!  I hope you enjoy whatever color and shape of bok choi you find in your share this week. And please do share your favorite recipe for bok choi or any other slightly uncommon veggie-- your fellow CSA members would love to hear from you.