What's in the share this week?
NAPA CABBAGE - Napa or Chinese cabbage has tall crinkly leaves, and the heads are not as tightly as the regular kind of cabbage. To store: Place whole in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. Use quickly before the leaves yellow. To prep: To prepare the entire head at once, cut it in half lengthwise, remove the core, and chop as desired. You can slice the leaves from the stem. Chop the stems and use them in stir fry. To use: Napa is great sliced and sautéed with onions and garlic. It goes well in a stir fry or soup. For a caramelized flavor, cut the cabbage into wedges and roast them until the cabbage is tender. Or slice in half and grill the entire wedge until charred. To freeze: Cut into quarters, wedges, or shred it. Cook in boiling pot of water for 90 seconds. Douse in ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain the cabbage and dry as much as possible. Place in Ziplock freezer bags and remove as much air as possible.
ARUGULA - Arugula has a peppery, slightly bitter flavor. It is stronger than most lettuces, so it’s often paired with other greens. Mature arugula has sturdy leaves, whereas baby arugula tends to be more tender and milder in flavor. Hotter weather makes for spicier leaves. To store: Arugula is highly Perishable. Store in the fridge inside a perforated plastic bag. If you decide to wash it first, be sure to spin the leaves dry before placing them loosely into a Green Bag with a dry paper towel to absorb the moisture. To freeze: Blanch leaves in boiling water or steam for two minutes, followed by soaking in ice water. Remove from ice water and drain well. Freeze "balls" of arugula on a cookie sheet in individual portions. When frozen, pop them into a Ziploc bag.
BOK CHOY, BABY SIZE - Bok Choy Bok choy, which may be written as bok choi, bok choy, or pac choi, is a traditional stir-fry vegetable from China. Choy grows in elongated, upright heads of dark green leaves with large, white stems. The leaves can be cooked and eaten like spinach, while the crisp stems can be used like celery or asparagus. To store: Cut off any yellow leaves. Store wrapped loosely in plastic bag (or a Green bag) in the refrigerator. To prep: Wash and removed any damaged yellowing leaves. Cut off the root tip — about an inch worth. If the stems are thick, cut the leaves from the stems and cook them separately a few minutes before you add the leaves. To freeze: Cut the stems from the leaves and chop to desired size. Store those separately. Cut the leaves into ribbons or squares or keep whole. Store separately from stems. Bring salted pot of water to a boil. Boil the leaves in boiling pot of water for 90 seconds. Douse in ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain the leaves and squeeze out moisture. Place in Ziploc freezer bags, removing as much air as possible. Put in freezer. Blanch the stems separately for 2 minutes. Douse in ice water and drain before packing into separate Ziplocs.
BEETS, BABY SIZE - Beets come in many colors -- red, gold, striped. You can eat the green tops too! To store: If your beets still have greens attached, cut them off, leaving an inch of stem. Store the beet roots, with the rootlets (or "tails") attached, unwashed, in a plastic bag in the crisper bin of your refrigerator. They will keep for several weeks. To prep: Just before cooking, scrub beets well and remove any scraggly leaves and rootlets. If your recipe calls for raw beets, peel them with a knife or a veggie peeler, then grate or cut them according to the recipe. To remove the skins, you can roast them in foil or boil them, and the peels will slip right off. To freeze: Boil or bake beets until done. Cool them in ice water or let them come to room temperature. Remove peels. Trim the beets into 1/4 inch slices or keep them whole (if they are small). Place in Ziplock freezer bag and remove as much air as possible. Seal and freeze.
CUCUMBERS - Cucumbers are in a family known as cucurbits that includes melons, squash, pumpkins and gourds. To store: Place cucumbers in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for up to a week. To prep: Slicing cucumbers are often peeled. Pickling cukes are not. If the seeds are bulky, slice the cucumber lengthwise and scoop them out. Scoring the skin of a cucumber with a fork or zester gives it attractive stripes. Slice, dice or cut into chunks according to recipe. To freeze: You can freeze cucumbers in a vinegar brine, but they will be mushy when you eat them later. Not recommended.
HEAD LETTUCE - To store: Store unwashed lettuce in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. To store lettuce that you have already washed and dried with a spinner, place back in a plastic bag with a dry paper towel in the bag, and place the package in the vegetable crisper bin. Use within 4 days. To prep: Slice the head at its base with a knife and let the leaves fall open. Discard any damaged or leathery outer leaves and tear large leaves into bite-size pieces. Wash leaves in a basin of cold water. Dry in a salad spinner. To freeze: Not recommended.
KALE - Kale is a member of the brassica family. Kale comes in blue-green, reddish green, and red varieties and may have flat or curly leaves. All types of kale have thick stems. It has a mild cabbage flavor when cooked. To store: Place kale unwashed, wrapped in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Best used very fresh, but may last for a week. To prep: Wash leaves in basin of lukewarm water to remove grit. If your greens have thick stems, you must remove them. Fold each leaf in half and slice out the stem. Then stack the leaves up and slice them diagonally into 1-inch-wide strips. To use: Sauté in olive oil. Use in soups, spaghetti sauce, pesto, quiche, or kale chips. You can also eat the stems. To freeze: Blanch washed greens for 2-3 minutes. Rinse in cold ice water to stop the cooking process, drain, and pack into airtight containers. Stems can also be frozen.
LETTUCE MIX - To store: Place lettuce mix in a plastic bag with a dry paper towel in the bag, and place the package in the vegetable crisper bin. Use within 4 days. To prep: Discard any damaged or leathery leaves and tear large leaves into bite-size pieces. Wash leaves in a basin of cold water. Dry in a salad spinner. To freeze: Not recommended.
RADICCHIO - Radicchio is a member of the lettuce family and has a bitter, peppery taste. Raw radicchio provides a pretty accent for a green salad, while cooked radicchio gives a wonderful savory-sweetness to a dish. To store: Keep unwashed radicchio in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper for up to a week. To prep: Discard any old limp outer leaves and wash the head in cold water. To cook: Radicchio is sometimes sliced and added to salads, but really shines when cooked a bit. Halved and brushed with oil, it's great on the grill. It pairs particularly well with olives, blue cheese, apples, and walnuts. To cut the bitterness, boil the leaves until just tender and dress with lemon juice or vinegar and salt. You can also sauté or stir-fry in oil or butter. To roast radicchio: quarter tight heads or halve loose heads, lightly coat them in oil, and roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, turning halfway through cooking. To freeze: Blanch for 1 minute in hot boiling water. Cool in ice water for 1 minute, drain, and pack into muffin cups or ice cube trays to freeze.
SALAD TURNIPS - (Save the greens to eat too!) Turnips are a root vegetable, related to arugula and radishes, which are members of the mustard family. Large or old turnips can be unpleasantly “hot” if not cooked properly or combined with the proper vegetables (like potatoes), but younger turnips add great zip to dishes. They are best in the fall or spring, when they are small and sweet. To store: Remove the greens from the turnips and store in a plastic bag to use within 3 days. The turnip roots should be stored in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge for up to a week. To prep: Cut off the green tops (which can be eaten as well). Wash and cut the white roots into wedges or slices. To cook: Serve raw with dip in a veggie tray. Or grate and add them to a salad. Turnips are delicious when roasted with other root vegetables (like carrot, potatoes, rutabaga, garlic). Add a turnip or two to your favorite mashed potato recipe. Or add them into soups and stews. To freeze: Blanch for 3 minutes in hot boiling water. Cool in ice water for 3 minutes, drain and pack into freezer containers or freezer bags.
SCALLIONS - To store: Chop off the top inch of the tender green tips and stand the scallions in an inch of water in a tall container covered loosely with a Ziplock bag, refreshing the water every 3 days. To prep: Remove roots. Chop the leaves and stem before cooking. To use: You can eat the entire scallion. Rinse scallions in cold water and snip off anything that’s floppy. Use chopped scallions as a garnish; they are less pungent. The minced greens of scallions are a good substitute for chives. Use them in stir-fry. Use scallions in almost any recipe calling for onions, raw or cooked. They are excellent in soups and stew. To freeze: Chop into desired size and place on cookie sheet and freeze. Then pop into a Ziplock baggie and store in the freezer. You can even freeze the green tops!
SPINACH - To store: Keep dry, unwashed greens in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks. To prep: Wash leaves in basin of lukewarm water to remove grit. Spin dry. To cook: Add uncooked spinach to a mixed green salad. Blanch spinach until it wilts, 2-4 minutes, or steam for 5-8 minutes. Sauté greens until tender in a covered pot or large sauté pan with olive oil, a pinch of salt, and garlic or onion. Watch for color to brighten as this signals it is done. To freeze: Blanch washed greens for 1 minute. Rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process, drain, and pack into airtight containers. Freeze.
SWISS CHARD - Swiss chard has expansive, pocketed leaves with stems in a spectrum of colors: red, white, green, yellow. It is actually in the beet family but doesn't develop a bulb. Its leaves are more tender and delicate than other greens. Eat small leaves raw in salads and blanch or steam larger leaves. You can freeze chard for recipes later To store: Keep dry, unwashed greens in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks. To prep: Wash leaves in basin of lukewarm water to remove grit. Remove the thicker stems by folding the leaves down the center and cutting out the stem. Stack several leaves on top of each other and slice into 1-inch wide ribbons. To use: Add uncooked greens to a mixed green salad. Steam stem pieces 8-10 minutes, and leaves 4-6 minutes. Or sauté greens until tender in a large sauté pan with olive oil, a pinch of salt, and garlic or onion. Watch for color to brighten as this signals they are done. Serve cooked chard alone as a side dish or use them in soup or with pasta, beans, rice, or potatoes. Chard also goes great in stir-fries or in any recipe calling for spinach. To freeze: Blanch washed greens for 2-3 minutes. Rinse in cold ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and freeze.
Thank Goodness for Rain
Well, we finally got a bit of rain today and we are so thankful for it. This is exactly the type of rain that farmers love. Seth pointed out that this is called an agricultural rain, one that is slow and soft and goes for many hours. We love this type. It waters our crops gently, without displacing any delicate seeds.
The rain came just in time to "water in" 10 beds of crops that we planted yesterday. Watering in means saturating the soil with water so the roots of a plant can grow through it, or so seeds will germinate in damp soil. When the soil is uniformly damp, our plants have a much better chance of growing. We can irrigate with water from our solar-powered well, but a good rain reaches farther and makes plants happier. Not to mention farmers!
There's a harder rain that comes down and compacts the soil ever so slightly, making for a hard crust that prevents seeds from germinating because the baby plants can't poke through. We've had those rains before too. May this summer be full of agricultural rains!
Farmer Christine's Field Notes
We had a special visitor this past week: Our friend Maevis, who worked with us on our previous farm in Massachusetts, came for a farmstay. Maevis is on summer break from college and we were so glad for her help! We needed to trellis the tomatoes in our tomato greenhouse and it was a big job. We all worked at it for more than two days. There are 350 plants in the tomato greenhouse, and for the majority of them we trimmed the plants to two growing stems, took off the suckers, and tied the tomatoes to twine strung from the ceiling using little tomato clips. Seth and I agree that the tomato plants in the greenhouse look prime: they are big and green and growing well, and we're still on track for our first tomatoes in a few weeks.
We spent an afternoon working on the irrigation system. We had to drop the well pump farther down into the well in hopes of getting more water. We wrestled 200' of pump hose into the well and I woke up the next morning feeling achy. It turns out it wasn't muscle soreness but an infection and I was feverish. I took some rest time and medicine so I was ready to help with harvest on Friday for the farmers market. Harvesting in 90 degree heat is no joke! But we brought in a lot of vegetables. Our Napa cabbage is coming in and it's one of my favorite vegetables (tomatoes being the first, of course).
While I was down for the count, Seth and Maevis worked hard weeding the carrots and prepping our field Samwise for the next generation of crops. We rounded out the holiday weekend with our booth at the Norwich Farmers Market, where we handed out our pesto cheat sheet to help people have a farm fresh weekend.
Week 4 Announcements
Check out our CSA Bingo challenge! Use our CSA bingo card and get 5 in a row over the next three weeks. At the end of three weeks we'll pick two winners. Winners receive their choice of either a dozen eggs or a flower bouquet.
Watch our weekly share unpacking video on Facebook! I talk about tips for storage, recipes, and share what successes and failures I've had with my veggies for the week. You can find the Facebook group at this link. If you aren’t on Facebook, we upload the unboxing video into the CSA Member Resource Library so you can watch there.
We're now offering eggs, thanks to McNaughton Farm in Weathersfield, VT. They have 100+ happy hens in a chicken wagon who free range on pasture. Their hens are fed with local, non-organic grain. You can pre-order them in our farm store and pay when you pick up your share, or bring cash to the pickup and we'll have some extras.
Week 3 CSA Recipes
Members can download these recipes as a PDF here. These recipes are designed to inspire you to use your share this week! Please check inside our private Facebook group to find your fellow members sharing ideas for what to make with their box! Share a photo and you might be featured in next week’s newsletter!
Roasted Beet Hummus
Oven-Roasted Squash and Beets with Arugula
Israeli Quinoa Salad
Lemony Lentil & Herb Lettuce Cups
Charred Scallion Salad Dressing
Camp Serrano Breakfast Hash
Pork and Napa Cabbage Soup
Baby Bok Choy with Soy Sauce
Vegan Root Vegetable Gratin
Swiss Chard Pesto Pasta with White Beans & Almonds
Spinach, Apple, & Date Muffins