Thursday, June 16, 2011

weeks 3 and 4

Red Springs Family Farm
June 16, 2011 week 4

Lettuce Lacinato Kale Kohlrabi
Carrots Broccoli Red Onion
Green Coriander Sorrel Basil & Mint

Beautiful! What a break! We’ve enjoyed the cold snap, and the good soaking rain yesterday, and the garden has too. The summer transplanting is almost complete and now with a good hoeing and a little more mulch, the summer crops will be “laid by” as they say ‘round here. Early tomatoes are swelling, but still green. They’re setting a tremendous number of blooms (exciting news for future harvests). Squashes, peppers, and eggplants are also blooming, and will be set to grow as we emerge from these wonderful cool days.

Today you’re getting the first handful of carrots, the first bulbed onions, and their yummy greens, and a little taste of fresh basil. The broccoli is just a bite. It falls short of what we had hoped for, and is nowhere near the perfection of a good autumn broccoli, but it’s a sincere reflection of the temperature fluctuations and growing conditions of the season so far. Tall and willowy, reaching for the sky, going to bloom before it makes a full head. We’ll be glad to pull out the remaining stalks and leaves (the chickens will turn them into good eggs) and give the space to another vegetable. Enjoy this special taste of broccoli.

The broccoli isn’t the only thing aiming for the sky down in the hollow. Lulah’s feet seem to touch the sky as she pumps herself up on the swingset, and lettuce has been bolting skyward as well, so we’re moving on into the summer lettuce selection of crunchy sweet butterheads. We like to dress our salads with a pinch of salt, a splash of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and nutritional yeast. The garlic will be out of the ground shortly, and then the salads will really sing!

Both the broccoli and the kale could use a good soaking before you cook them. Put a generous pinch of salt in your soaking water and it will cause any remaining cabbage lopers (green caterpillars) to float to the top of the bowl. It’s nicer to find them in the rinse water than on your plate!

As a matter of full disclosure – we do use an organically approved caterpillar killing spray (Dipel) on the cabbage family vegetables. It is based on bacillus thuringiensis (BT for short) – a naturally occurring soil-born bacteria that kills caterpillars, and has been used to do so since the 1920’s. Its effect is very targeted, and it is deactivated by sunlight, so it is active for a very short period of time. We use it only on a need-to basis. If we didn’t, there would rarely be kale, collard, broccoli, or kohlrabi to enjoy. Rest assured, we are extremists about what we use in the garden and this is the only pesticide, fungicide or herbicide that we use. We rinse these well and eat them without reservation. Any organic food you buy in the grocery store has certainly been sprayed with BT or some other variety of organic approved chemicals, and conventional produce has been treated with what the organic board did not approve, which can be some really poisonous stuff.

BT has gotten some bad press lately because it’s being used in Genetic Modification – particularly in potatoes, corn, and cotton – and due to that strange technology, the bacteria is now showing up in human blood stream samples. This is, in our opinion, one of the many potential ill effects of short term thinking in the world of modern agri-business (we don’t believe that sort of science can aptly be called ‘culture’).

Enough of that! How about a Broccoli Tofu Stir Fry?

Prepare: 1 ½ cups broccoli
2 carrots, thinly sliced 1 ½ cups kohlrabi, peeled, cut to 1 inch cubes
Drop vegetables into 2 cups boiling water. Boil for 2 minutes, drain, reserve cooking liquid.

Add to liquid for sauce: 2 Tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp garlic powder ½ tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp sugar 1 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot

In a large skillet or wok, cook a few minutes: 3 Tbsp. oil and 2 onions, cut into thin wedges.

Add the drained veggies to the onions, stir. Add 2 cups tofu, cut in 1 inch cubes.
Stir in the sauce and cook until sauce is bubbly. Serve on hot rice.

You could vary the vegetables used in this stir fry quite abit and still have great results. The greens would be just fine in here, and probably would not need the 2 minute blanch.
(adapted from The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook)

If you’re wondering what to do with sorrel – try this recipe. We put some finely sliced sorrel into a chicken soup (along with green coriander seed) to a very nice effect. You don’t have 2-3 cups of sorrel in your herb bag, but you could mix in some kale or even broccoli to bulk it up.

Sorrel and Goat Cheese Quiche
2-3 cups sorrel, coarsely chopped a few scallions, chopped
3-4 ounces goat cheese (chevre) 3 eggs
1½ cups milk ¼ teaspoon salt
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread goat cheese (or any strong flavored cheese) in the bottom of a piecrust. Cover with chopped sorrel and scallions. Beat eggs, salt and milk together. Pour over greens. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until top is golden brown.
Source: A Luna Circle Farm original recipe

Next week, we’ll likely pull more carrots, maybe beets, and hopefully the Chinese cabbages will be full enough to share.

Thank you for participating in our CSA. We know that the increasing speed of the world does not lend itself to cooking meals from scratch at home, and we commend you for continuing to value authentic and high quality food. Please feel free to contact us with questions about your basket’s contents – we want to encourage you to eat well and enjoy your share of the harvest. If you’d like to help spread the word about our farm and its service, please look us up at and drop a good word on our page there. By the time tomato season begins, we will have WAAAY too much food around here, and the local harvest site is a nice way to get our name out to the surrounding community. We appreciate your support.

Have a lovely weekend.

“…Lightning, then the rain-laughter. Dark earth receives that clear and grows a trunk. Melon and cucumber come dragging along on pilgrimage. You have to be to be blessed! Pumpkin begins climbing a rope! Where did he learn that? Grass, thorns, a hundred thousand ants and snakes, everything is looking for food. Don’t you hear the noise?...” ~ excerpt of Rumi

Red Springs Family Farm
June 9, 2011 week 3

Lettuce Rainbow Lights Chard Kohlrabi
Baby beet greens Mizuna Sorrel
Green Coriander Anise Hyssop Day Lilies

The gardens are looking better all the time. Paul and Branden are sweating it out for the love of good food. Sunday brought us a sweet little downpour. We were grateful for that ¼ inch of rain. The newly transplanted sweet potatoes were grateful too. Thanks to a little help from some friends, the tomatoes are all mulched and caged up and setting loads of little green fruits. Branden went to visit a neighboring farm’s interns and brought back a “crop mob” for an afternoon of work on the hill. Six folks with hoes and pitchforks sure can accomplish a lot of work in a short time! The home table was full of lively discussion, swapping travel plans and college stories over a late dinner of scrambled eggs and homemade tortillas. We all slept well that night.

There is no doubt that summer is here. Besides the little rain over the weekend, the days have been clear and hot hot hot. The cold creek is our best refuge and we enjoy it often. Please feel free to come out for a splash. In the meantime, stay hydrated. Here’s how Paul maintains:
One quart of good water dash of sea salt dollop of sorghum or molasses
Stir these three together and drink as needed. Don’t add ice or refrigerate. This is a homemade electrolyte drink. It hits the belly easier than water, and is very satisfying in this deep heat.

I know that most of you don’t eat your day lilies, but please remember that they are safe and lovely on a salad. Throw the anise hyssop flowers on too and you’ll have a veritable masterpiece of flavor and color in one bowl. Even if you don’t put the lilies on a plate – you might enjoy them in a vase. Each flower only lasts one day, but if you persist to pluck them off, you’ll be amazed at how many of even the smallest buds will burst into bloom for you over time.

The little purple aliens are back! These are kohlrabi. They’re fun. We like to eat kohlrabi grated in a salad. We put it in a teriyaki stir fry a couple nights ago. It’s just fine peeled and eaten like an apple, straight out of the lunchbox. We have not actually tried this recipe, but have used kohlrabi in slaw-like (what is coleslaw but kohlslaw anyway?) fashions and this sounds like a winner:


Makes 4 cups

1/4 cup cream 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon good mustard 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt & pepper to taste - go easy here Fresh mint, chopped
1 pound fresh kohlrabi, trimmed, peeled, grated or cut into batons with a Benriner
2 apples, peeled, grated or cut into batons (try to keep equivalent volumes of kohlrabi:apple)

Whisk cream into light pillows - this takes a minute or so, no need to get out a mixer. Stir in remaining dressing ingredients, the kohlrabi and apple. Serve immediately.

The feathery little leaves in your herb bag this week are chervil, the symbol of sincerity. It does not love our clayey soils and excess heat, so we’re sending it in a little early, just in case. Here’s some more details: “Often referred to as the “gourmet’s parsley,” chervil tastes mildly of licorice combined with pepper imparting certain freshness to a dish. Fresh or dried, it is a bright green and quite delicate and should be added to a dish at the end of cooking. Chervil has a tendency to enhance the flavors of other herbs when used in combinations. The most notable case is fines herbes, the French blend of at least three herbs, ground fine, where one herb is almost always chervil.” It is a good partner with your kohlrabi, and is said to be a natural companion to carrots. With luck, the chervil will live to be picked again when the carrots are ready (which will be pretty soon!).

Since the broccoli isn’t behaving in the heat (who would?), we’re sending this beautiful chard. We need to speak a kind word about chard stems now. There were times in the late winter and early spring when chard stems were an important food item in our home. They are very good. I’ve used them as a vegetable in pasta salads, quiche, and stir fry. They need more cooking than the leaves, but not much. They’re best enjoyed with a little texture remaining. That said, here’s a deluxe chard leaf recipe from a beautiful cookbook. Go to it!

Lasagne with Chard, Ricotta, and Walnuts from Local Flavors by Deborah Madison
1 cup walnuts sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs chard leaves 2 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for the dish
3 large cloves minced garlic 1/3 cup white wine
1 cup whole milk ricotta 1 cup fresh grated parmesan
2 4 oz balls mozzarella, grated 1 ¼ cup milk
1 8 oz box no-boil lasagna noodles

1. Bring 2 gallons of water to a boil for chard and pasta. Pre-heat oven to 400, then toast the walnuts in a shallow pan until pale gold and fragrant. Chop finely and set aside.
2. When the water boils add 1 tbsp salt and the chard. Cook about 5 minutes, even if the water doesn’t return to a boil. Scoop the chard into a colander; press out and reserve water. Chop chard.
3. Heat oil in a wide skillet and add 2/3 of the garlic, then the chard. Cook over med-high heat, turning frequently for several minutes, then add the wine and allow to cook down. Turn off heat.
4. Combine ricotta, parmesan, all but ¾ cup mozzarella, and remaining garlic. Stir in 1/3 cup of the chard cooking water, then add the chard. Mix, taste for salt, and season with pepper.
5. Bring the water back to a boil. Lightly oil a 9X13 dish. Drizzle ¼ cup milk over the dish.
6. Drop 3 pieces of instant pasta into the water and boil for 1 minute. Remove them and fit them in the baking dish. Sprinkle with ¼ cup walnuts. Repeat twice more with the pasta, milk, cheese mixture, and ¼ cup of the walnuts. When you get to the last layer, add the remaining milk, mozzarella, and walnuts. Place 4 toothpicks in the pasta to make a tent, then cover with foil, and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes longer or until lightly browned on top. Let sit for 10 minutes, then cut into portions and serve.

We know that it’s summer vacation time for a lot of you. Please remember to take care of your baskets over your vacation. When you can’t make a pick up, we ask first that you find someone to pick up for you while you’re gone. If you can’t find someone, please give us AMPLE notice (preferably one week, but a few days at least is helpful) so we can try to fill in the gap. we can also arrange to donate your unused share to a shelter, if we have enough advanced notice to arrange the pick up. Thanks.

Have a great weekend – stay cool enough – and enjoy the harvest!
With love from Red Springs Family Farm

“It is wrong to think that bodily health is compatible with spiritual confusion or cultural disorder,
or with polluted air and water or impoverished soil.” – Wendell Berry

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gobo and Miso

So here are a couple good links for our more unusual items in the basket this week:


I'll put them on FB as well. The Chelsea Green link has a very nicely explained recipe for miso soup - and a fun piece about harvesting seaweed - something we've never tried to grow on the farm here!

week 2

Red Springs Family Farm
June 2, 2011 week 2

Lettuce Yokatta Na Garlic Scapes
Baby beet greens Green Onions
Sorrel Oregano Mint Miso
Mizuna Gobo (Burdock) Green Coriander

What a week! The stormy weather pattern broke and summer came rushing in. The heat has arrived. Paul and Branden have worked pedal to the metal each day, transplanting hundreds of eggplants, peppers and squashes. The corn seed made it into the ground, and another round of beans, too. The peas aren't looking good, so we're taking them out and planting the cucumbers on their trellis. Early spring crops don't like this heat. It wears a body out too. The guys have been coming out of the garden parched and sweaty and we've been spending time in the creek as often as possible.

Our spring broccoli planting may yield us some decent heads and side shoots in the next couple weeks. It won't be the same spread as the Fall broccoli last year (if you missed it – it was an amazing broccoli crop), but spring broccoli is always a gamble.

We're including some basic information about salad greens and herbs this week – care, handling, storage, and enjoyments all included.

Storage and Handling of Lettuce and Tender Greens
This category includes all lettuces, and most of the greens we send.
Store unwashed greens in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. To store lettuce or greens mix that you've washed and dried, roll the leaves loosely in a kitchen towel, put the towel in a plastic bag,a nd place the package in the vegetable crisper bin. Wet greens will spoil quikly, so make sure they are truly dry before refrigerating them. If you have a salad spinner, wash and spin the greens before refrigerating them. It is preferable to eat cut greens withing three or four days, and use lettuce within a week.

Salad greens bruise easily, so be sure to handle them gently. For lettuce, slice the head at its base with a s harp knife and let th leaves fall open. Discard damaged or leather outer leaves and tear large leaves into bite size pieces. Both lettuce and tender greens can be washed by swishing them around in a basin of cold water. If a lot of dirt collects in the water, wash them a second time. Dry in a salad spinner (great investment if you love salads), or place them loosely in a mesh bag or thin towel, then go outside and swing the bundle around your head.

Yokatta Na is back. It's in the bag with the beet greens. Judging by the feedback from your surveys last year, you either loved Yokatta Na or didn't care for it at all. We stand by this plant. Please, give it another try. Though it does not LOOK like spinach, we've found that it acts very much like spinach when cooked. We also have enjoyed it sliced thin in salads.

In your herb bag this week, you'll find more sorrel (bright green arrow shaped leaves) and mizuna (white veins and deeply lobed), which are both green in a salad mix, as well as mint, and oregano. On the side, there are green onions, garlic scapes, and tiny little green corianders, just a taste. They add a flavorfull burst into a pot of chili or soup.

Herb Teas, or Tisanes

For about 6 cups, take a good handful of fresh herbs. Give them a good rinse and pluck any unattractive leaves off the stems. Place them in a teapot and cover with boiling water. Let steep for 5 minutes, or longer if the tea does not seem very aromatic yet, sweeten with honey if desired, then pour into glasses or teacups. For iced tea, make the tisane, then chill well. Pour over ice and add a sprig of fresh herb to the glass.

Native to northern China and Siberia, burdock, or Gobo is more commonly cultivated in Japan where it has been an important vegetable since the 10th century. It is considered a delicacy in Southeast Asia. The root was valued by ancient folk healers as a blood purifier and strengthener, a tonic after sickness, and a relief medicine for arthritis. It is also highly valued for its medicinal uses for skin diseases. Burdock root extracts have been shown to destroy bacteria and fungus cultures, and also show strong cancer fighting properties. Steeping fresh burdock shavings in boiling water produces a tea which is thought to help with indigestion, strengthening and toning the stomach, cleansing the liver and clearing acne.

We love Gobo best in Miso Soup. If you've never been exposed to miso – here's your chance. Our good friend Crazy Owl made lots of miso and we have become stewards of a portion of his last batch. Store it in the fridge; it only improves with age. One teaspoon stirred into a cup of hot (not boiling) water makes a healthful and tasty soup/tea. Miso can be added to almost any soup as a salt substitute and taste enhancer, but only add it at the end, when the soup is no longer boiling. Gobo is a nutty rooty taste and should be added early on in the soup-making process. I will post a more detailed recipe on our blog soon.

Here's a different recipe for Gobo:
Stir Fried Carrots and Burdock with Sesame Seeds
1-2 Gobo roots 3 carrots (sorry they're not quite ready)
2 Tbsp mirin 2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 tsp white sesame seeds 2 tsp light oil
2 tsp roasted sesame oil
1.Scrub the burdock roots with a stiff brush under running water to wash away the soil. Thinly slice them on the diagonal then slice into matchsticks. Put them in a bowl of cold water until they're all sliced, then parboil for 1 minute. Drain.
2.Peel carrots and slice into matchsticks. Combine the mirin and soy sauce. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet until golden, then immediately pour them onto a plate to stop the cooking.
3.Heat a wok or skillet, add the oils and swirl around the pan. When the pan is hot, add the burdock and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Add ¼ cup water, cover, and steam for 5 minutes. Add the carrots and stir fry 2-3 minutes longer. Pour in soy sauce and mirin and continue to stir-fry until the vegetables are nicley glazed, af ew more minutes. Toss with sesame seeds and serve hot or at room temp.

Next week, we look forward to bringing you broccoli and chard. Get your anchovies ready – it's time for Romaine lettuce. Have a great week and enjoy your greens!

~with love from Red Springs Family Farm

“Friendship is a basket of bread from which to eat for years to come. Good loaves fragrant and warm miraculously multiplied; the basket never empty and the bread never stale.” - Catherine de Vinck