Thursday, May 27, 2010

May 27 - week 1

(photo from a pretty day in March when we were spreading compost on the fields...)

Red Springs Family Farm

May 27, 2010, week 1

Lettuces Yokatta Na Dried tomatoes

Leeks Garlic Scapes Cilantro/coriander

Herb bag: Arugula Sorrel

Oregano Lemon Balm Radishes

Welcome to the new garden season!

We’re excited to get things going, and looking forward to a good season. Thank you for joining us. Please take a look at our Membersip Information page. Some of you have been with us for awhile, and a few of you are completely new. It doesn’t matter – please read it.

General garden report… We’re feeling so fortunate to still have a garden, and a garden doing as well as it is, after the intensity of this Spring’s weather. A piece of one of our bean rows was lost in a large temporary rain pond, as was the majority of the spinach. The first planted spring garden took a good hit in the flood (radishes, arugula, spinach, peas), so pardon the sparse and sometimes split radishes. We’re doing an experiment with early tomatoes this year, and so far they’re looking good. They’re covered in blooms, as are the tomatillos. Basil is still warming up in the ground, but as long as the weather stays warm and moderately moist, it will grow rapidly.

We’re in a period of rapid growth and big work right now. The ground is finally warm and dry enough to plant EVERYTHING. Eggplants and sweet potatoes have been planted into the big garden in the last couple days. The first planting of corn is up and the tomatoes are in. We divide our time between planting, and hoeing, and soon it will be time to mulch it all in.

Coming attractions… Swiss Chard, Kohlrabi, Day Lilies, Gobo. Green beans and peas are blooming. Onions are swelling in the field. The garlic will be peaking and beginning its slow underground curing process soon. Those of you who have been with us awhile might be wondering – where are all the scapes? We’ve got a very nice looking garlic crop this year, but our experience is taking more in the direction of soft-neck garlics, which don’t make those pretty curly seed heads we’ve usually enjoyed in Spring. So, we have a few, but not too many. We’ll be anticipating some good looking fresh garlic late in June, tho!

In your basket this week…

Lettuces are Black Seeded Simpson and Kagraner Sommer. Simpson is a classic early lettuce with trademark neon green ruffled leaves. Kagraner is a butterhead. Spring lettuces are reliably soft and silky. We hope you’ll enjoy your new spring salads as much as we have this year.

Sorrel is the bright arrow-shaped leaf with a bright lemony flavor. Take a bite and you’ll know without a doubt. Arugula is spicier, darker green, more tender leaf. Both are salad stand-bys in our house, though a peak through a few cookbooks will reveal more uses for both.

Yokatta Na! The words translate loosely from Japanese as “That was good!” It’s an Asian green with round dark leaves and long green stems. It’s mustardy, but not bitingly so. Chop the leaves and stems into a stir fry, or cut them fine for use in a salad. Get your vitamin green!

The dainty white flowers are the blooms of cilantro. We tend to think of cilantro primarily in Mexican dishes, but it’s actually an extremely hardy plant with Asian roots. What you’re receiving today is our last planting of cilantro from LAST FALL. It stayed alive in the garden all winter without cover. It was just about the only uncovered plant that survived, and seems to have thrived, through that intense cold and snow. When the flowers mature to seeds, we could call them coriander. Whatever we call them, they’re flavorful as a salad addition, garnish on Indian or Mexican dishes, or in a marinade.

These Leeks are our other winter garden survivor this year. We will keep trying to grow leeks, and one day we will really have great success. These do not look like leeks from the store, but they still taste wonderful. I’ve made perfectly fine vichyssoise from them, completely ignoring the advice to use only the white part of the plant. We don’t use the blades of the leaves (except in making stock, which is key to good soup), but the entirety of the stem, as long as it is relatively tender, is good to eat.

Oregano is so good fresh. It enhances breads, beans, mushrooms, potatoes, squash, tomatoes, and eggs, and is classic in pizzas and pastas, Mexican and Greek foods. If you can’t use it all, dry it or freeze it.

These dried tomatoes came from last year’s crop of Principe Borghese tomatoes. They’re a little Italian heirloom variety bred specially for drying. We think they’re like candy. You can re-constitute them in hot water for a few minutes then throw them into pasta salad or the like. We enjoy a few in a pot of beans for good flavor. This recipe sounds great too:

Lemon Balm and Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade

2 Tbsp sunflower seeds 8 oil-packed (or not) sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1 medium red onion, diced, rinsed in cold water ½ cup chopped kalamata olives

½ cup extra virgin olive oil 3-4 anchovy filets, chopped (opt.)

3-4 Tbsp. chopped fresh lemon balm freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon

1 Tbsp capers salt and fresh ground pepper

1) Toast sunflower seeds in a dry heavy skillet until lightly browned and fragrant. Cool.

2) Combine tomatoes, onion, olives, olive oil, anchovies, lemon balm, lemon juice, and capers in a medium bowl; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3) Chop or coarsely grind sunflower seeds (do not overprocess) and stir them into the mix. Cover and refrigerate to let the flavors blend for at least 30 minutes before serving.

To use our tomatoes in this recipe, just soak them in boiling water until they are plump and juicy. Rinsing the red onion takes away some of its bite – nice trick. This will work as a salad topper, with cream cheese on crackers, and on grilled veggies, fish, chicken, or beans.

If that sounds too weird for you – use your lemon balm to make a delicious iced tea, sweetened with just a dab of honey.

Enjoy your salad. We look forward to seeing you with more goodies next week.

To your good health… The Entwistles

"Nothing exists for its own sake, but for a harmony greater than itself which includes it." ~Wendell Berry

No comments: