Wednesday, May 30, 2012

week 2

Lettuce      Swiss Chard         Fresh Garlic
Baby Beet Greens        Parsley           Broccoli
Sorrel              Green Onions       Purslane       Oregano
Mint & Lemon Balm

The heat is on. With luck, by the time you read this the rain will be moving in and with it a “cold snap” taking temperatures back down into the seventies, where most of humanity is comfortable.

We spent the weekend getting the last few summer crops planted, including our beloved Indian Field Corn, which we haven’t given ourselves space to grow for a couple seasons. Now we will be defending it and the sweet corn from marauding crows and turkeys until it gets large enough to be un-pluck-able. We are hoping for some sweet rewards in the summer.

In other news – everything is growing fast, and will grow even faster once it gets an honest rain. The green beans have a nice set of flowers, green tomatoes are getting larger by the hour, and the summer squashes are buzzing with pollinators and setting a good load of fruit. Garlic is ready to dig a full three weeks early. Summer is as Summer does.

Purslane is a new one this week. Its native home is the Indian sub-continent, but it now grows almost everywhere as a thriving weed. It is a healthful little weed, though. Purslane contains more Omega 3s than some fish oil, and quite a lot of Vitamin A too. The sour to salty taste and succulent crunch are well suited to salad fixings, but you might find other ideas if you look on-line. Keep it in a bag in your crisper drawer and eat it while the leaves are still fresh and crispy.

We will finish thinning the beets this week, so this will be the last of the beet greens until we send the beets. The oregano will also be finished with its seasonal haircut. We’re slowly reclaiming a portion of the herb garden that has been over-run with beautiful mint and lemon balm for too long. Dry your oregano (put it in a paper bag – tie and hang in a drafty shady place for awhile) and other herbs to use later. Here are a couple of easy suggestions for excessive amounts of fresh herbs.

Mixed Herb Butter
2 cups (1 pound) butter, softened
¼ cup finely chopped fresh herbs
1 Tablespoon minced fresh garlic (optional)

In a large enough bowl, cream the butter until it is very soft and fluffy.  Add the herbs and garlic and mix until thoroughly combined.  Cover and refrigerate until the butter is just firm enough to shape into sticks.  Working quickly, use your hands to shape the butter into 4 sticks or logs, each about one inch thick.  Transfer one or more of the sticks to a covered butter dish in the fridge, or wrap the logs in waxed paper and store them in the freezer for up to six months.  Use on bread, melt over vegetables, potatoes, steak, or anywhere you want.

Fried Herb Topping
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil               1 cup chopped fresh herb or combination of herbs
1-2 cloves garlic                                 ½ lb hot cooked pasta
½ cup freshly grated parmesan or asiago cheese

Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat until it is very hot but not smoking.  Add the herbs and garlic; cook until the garlic is fragrant and slightly golden and the herbs are crisp but not burned.  Remove the skillet from the heat.  Pour the fried herbs and flavored oil over the warm pasta or vegetables of your choice.  Top with grated cheese and enjoy right away.

It is a great pleasure to bring this beautiful spring broccoli to tow. Planting broccoli is always a gamble.  The plants take up a lot of room and need a good deal of fertility to make a nice head.  Then they need good weather, and defense from hungry cabbage worms.  Please consider soaking your broccoli is cold salt water for ten minutes or so before cooking, just to dislodge these pernicious worms.  Remember, evidence of organic bug life indicates truly natural farming practices.  We don’t like them either, but we consider them the least evil.  Eat your broccoli in a salad, or if you must cook it, don’t cook it long.  The flavor and texture of fresh broccoli is such a different experience than the California-box-store broccoli.  However you eat this broccoli – do it soon – it’s best that way. 

Here’s one more good looking recipe, in case you want some help with the Chard (and I bet you could throw in the broccoli as well as a few mint leaves too).

Chard Utopia from Simply In Season
2 cups minced onion                                                  1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano (2 tsp fresh, at least!)                ¼ tsp salt
In a large frypan sauté in 1 Tbsp olive oil for 5 minutes.

2 lbs Swiss Chard, stemmed, finely chopped
Add and cook until wilted, 5-8 minutes

4-6 cloves garlic, minced                               1 Tbsp flour
Sprinkle in, stir, and cook over medium heat, 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat, and mix in….

2 cups feta cheese, crumbled             1 cup cottage cheese              Pepper to taste                      

1 lb frozen phyllo pastry sheets, thawed
Place a sheet of phyllo in an oiled 9X13 pan.  Brush with olive oil.  Repeat for 7 sheets.   Spread half the filling evenly on top.  Add 8 more sheets of oiled phyllo.  Cover with the rest of the filling and follow with remaining phyllo, oiling each, including the top sheet.  Tuck in the edges and bake uncovered in a preheated over at 375F until golden and crispy, about 45 min.

Good news from Hidden Springs Orchard – we’ll likely be making those awesome blueberries available at the end of June! 

Eat well – Be well.  Thanks for your support.
Paul, Coree, Lulah and Levon

The greatest delight the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable.  I am not alone and unacknowledged.  They nod to me and I to them.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May 24, 2012 week 1

Lettuce Swiss Chard Garlic Scapes Sweet Potatoes Borage Parsley Baby Beet Greens Sorrel Day Lilies Oregano Lemon Balm Mint
Ah, back in the veggie swing of things! Thank you for joining us for this new season. Even though the winter never seemed to arrive and spring was a continuously curious mix, signs are good for the growing season. It is always a happy sort of wonder, to see how life just wants to grow, and what a great effort all living things put forth to live rightly. The early warmth tempted us, but we’ve been grateful to have held off and waited to start the garden at a ‘usual’ time. Blackberry winter was still a hard freeze down in this hollow. The cold snaps are over now and rampant growth has begun. The feeling of the soil between our fingers improves and the color grows a little deeper, year by year. Clover’s twining stems branch and cover the ground while its roots fix nitrogen in the depths. Dandelion’s strong tap root reaches where we cannot and draws moisture and nutrients upward. A stand of peas that didn’t germinate too well exceeds our expectations by growing and setting some fruit, even in the unseasonable heat. Early tomatoes are sporting tiny green globes. Broccoli looks promising. Garlic scapes! The scapes are earlier than usual. The garlic has had a little more time to grow with this early spring. The lower section of stem might be a little woody. Cut the tender pieces and use them like garlic – throw the tougher pieces into a stock pot. Use them in avant garde flower arrangements and post photos on our Facebook page. Love that garlic. Beet seeds are actual fruit with a number of seed. So, when you plant a beet seed, it comes up as several beet plants. This means that beets always need some thinning. These tender greens are the beet thinnings. They cook just like Chard – tender, light cooking and easy treatment with butter and balsamic vinegar will do. The notable differences between beets and chard are that beets will turn whatever they touch pink, and beet greens are great in a salad. These sweet potatoes were harvested last fall. It’s fun for us to keep them around and give them just once more in the spring. They are drier now, but no less sweet than they were. They still bake well, but I would recommend using them in a bread or pie, or maybe in combination with some other roasting venture. Or, with lots of butter! Our borage patch went to seed last year and this is the first time we have had an abundance of it. Not a common vegetable, but a highly underrated herb and well deserving of seasonal culinary effort. It is known as the herb of courage (do you have the courage to eat borage?). Celtic warriors drank wine with borage to give them courage before going into battle. I know, the prickles can be a turn off (very sensitive people may have a slight contact dermatitis from contact with them). But believe it or not, you can substitute borage for spinach. It cooks quickly, the prickles disappear, and there’s this mild, cucumbery-nutty flavor. It’s different, and also GOOD. We were putting leaves in salad, which was nice for the cucumber scent and taste, but it’s a good idea to dress the salad a little heavier and let the borage wilt. Now we’re cooking with it and finding it to be a fine spring green. Thirty seconds in boiling water and you can use it any way you want (soup, ravioli, lasagna). Looking around on-line, I found a few excellent pages, and a couple of recipes that deserved attention. For some accurate information on borage as a medicinal herb, see Peter Holmes, 1998. Herb Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette This salad, made as directed, is a real doozy – no lettuce listed in these ingredients. This is a strong salad. If you have hesitations, I recommend using some lettuce in place of the herbs that we haven’t supplied in this week’s basket. Play with it! 1 bunch parsley 1/2 cup basil leaves 1/2 cup young borage leaves 12-14 sorrel leaves, torn bite-sized pieces 1/2 cup mint leaves 1 bunch watercress 1/4 cup chopped walnuts 4 tablespoons sherry vinegar 1 teaspoon mustard 1 teaspoon salt 1 minced garlic clove 1/2 cup walnut oil (olive oil will be OK) 1) Wash and dry the leaves. Anything too large for a fork should be torn to size. 2) Buzz into a paste the walnuts, vinegar, mustard, garlic and salt in a food processor. With the motor running, drizzle in the walnut oil and buzz to combine. 3) Toss and eat. Then there’s Chimichurri - an Argentinean sauce typically used with red meat, but it is also excellent with fish and seafood. The traditional recipe always has parsley, garlic and oregano, but it can be mixed up depending on what herbs are around – borage and mint and are excellent substitutes with seafood. This recipe makes about 2 cups. 1/2 cup water 1 t. salt 4-6 garlic cloves (scapes!) 1 cup parsley or borage or watercress leaves 1/2 cup oregano leaves (or 2 tablespoons dried) 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 2 teaspoons hot pepper flakes 1/2 cup olive oil 1) Heat the water and dissolve the salt in it. When it is cool enough to stick your finger in, proceed with the chimichurri. 2) Put everything except the olive oil into a food processor and buzz to combine -- you can puree it or leave it chunky. Your choice. 3) With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil and buzz for 30 seconds to a minute. Allow it to marinate for a few hours before serving. Chimichurri should hold up for a week or two in the fridge.

Please remember – if you want high quality honey from Monet’s Apiary, let us know ASAP. Prices are: $15/quart, $8/pint, $5/angel (like a honey bear). Have a safe and good Memorial Day Weekend! See you next week.

Paul, Coree, Lulah and Levon Red Springs Family Farm

I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden. ~Ruth Stout