CSA2016 Week 8. Its County Fair Time!

IMG_20160727_100349582All across rural America, midsummer means county fair season for lots of kids and their families.  4-H and FFA form the backbone to many rural communities because people see the value in supporting organizations that build positive habits in youth.  Through showing livestock, exhibiting produce or taking on the technical tasks of sewing a dress or overhauling a tractor, parents know that their kids will learn how to work, plan, budget, care and speak.  Sometimes kids win, but more often they don’t and both are huge learning opportunities.

County fair was the highlight of every summer for me during my youth.  It was a chance to work with the things I love surrounded by like minded people.  Looking back, I have to shake my head at my early projects.  The terrarium full of weeds from the yard and the painted wooden calf in much need of a sand job both were full of good intentions yet not the most desirable products.  Yet in 4-H, it is also about what you know, what you learned, and what your plans are for next year.  My weed terrarium was actually a pretty good project and I did well because I knew the weeds, a little bit about them and they looked beautiful, or at least as beautiful as plantain, oxalis and chickweed can look.   Little did I know that knowing those weeds would be handy later in life.

IMG_20160727_154703704This week I got to take a peek at what kids did for their projects, especially the plant science exhibits.  Planning a good vegetable exhibit is a lot like packing a CSA box.  You need to have produce that looks good, is trimmed correctly, clean, and proper size. An added element is having a variety of types and colors to hit all the nutritional needs.  While you might have a rocking assortment of greens and bean, people crave variety and each week I try to put together a mix that is appealing from first glance.

This week we have a nice variety.  Beets and carrots are still in full swing.  Carrots this week include a new white variety of carrot called White Satin.  This white variety great raw while the darker ones, Purple Dragon are the better option for cooking.  There are dragon tongue beans and green beans which would be great with the potatoes in the  Vomachka Soup.  Here is the recipe.

Ingredients

-1/4 cup butter

-1 cup chopped onions

-1 cup chopped carrots

-1 cup diced celery

-3 chopped cloves of garlic

-3 cup green beans

-3 cups diced potato

-1/4 cup flour

-50 oz chicken stock

-2 tbsp chicken base

-1 or 2 tbsp dill weed

-1 cup sour cream

-1 cup milk

-2+ tbsp cider vinegar

-Ground pepper and salt

Directions

1. Begin sauteing butter, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic

1.5. Mix together sour cream and milk in a sauce pan and begin tempering while you do other things

2. Add and mix together flour, chicken stock/base, dill weed, diced potatoes, green beans and ground pepper to a large stock pot. When ready, add the sauteed vegetables and tempered sour cream/milk in the pot as well.

3. Add cider vinegar and a little salt. Mix it all together and put the stock pot on the burner for a while.

Also in the box a fresh batch of arugula and some goat cheese.  Try them all in a salad with some toasted wall nuts

Finally, there is corn, it is a wee bit immature, but I couldn’t resist.

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CSA 2016 Week 7: Were Having a Veggie Wave!

IMG_20160720_161248166_HDRand a Heat Wave!  That is about all you hear on the news lately, well that and political stuff.  But yes it is hot, when coupled with the adequate moisture in the ground does help everything take big leaps towards maturity.  Some things are not fans.  Spinach, Lettuce and Radish throw up the white flag and flower surrendering to the heat, pretty much regardless of age.  I replanted them a few times, but I doubt it will amount to too much if the heat persists for very long.   Tomatoes don’t often set fruit very well, but there are plenty coming, but patience, it will be a few weeks.  Other things like beans and corn go in overdrive.  Also in overdrive is the broccoli.  I always have the great intention of doing some succession planting, but I didn’t with  the broccoli, and as a result we have great big wave of it happening right now of the first, nicest heads. Hopefully you can manage to find your own great ways of enjoying it… steamed, raw, that broccoli/carrot/raisin salad or some stiff fry perhaps? IMG_20160718_113452644

IMG_20160719_120405813Also making a debut in the box is a beautiful head of red cabbage.  300 lbs went into sauerkraut this week, but there are a few stragglers who will be garnishing your box the next few weeks.  We were graced with a patrons favorite way to prepare the cabbage, Sweet-Sour Red Cabbage

Here is the recipe:

Sweet-Sour Red Cabbage

1/2 cup butter

2 tbs chopped instant onions or 1/2 c minced raw onion

1/4 c packed brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp cloves

1 2-lb red cabbage, finely shredded.

1/c boiling water

1/2 c wine vinegar.

Melt butter in skillet; sautee onions until golden brown

Add sugar, seasonings, cabbage and mix lightly

Add water, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Add vinegar and simmer 10 minutes longer

This is pleasantly tart; should you prefer it milder, use only 1/4 c vinegar.

Serve Hot to 8 people.

 

There are plenty of beans to go around so you received a healthy sum of green ones, if you get sick of snapping them just pawn them off on your neighbor.  Also included are the ever beautiful Dragon’s Tongue Beans.  These tender wide-podded golden beans with the purple flecks are surprisingly good with a light blanch or steam.  However since they loose their color in cooking maybe a eating them raw is the way to go? There is kale, some Purple Viking Potatoes, orange and red carrots, beets, a couple onions, a garlic, and zucchini. The bunch of onion looking things are actually shallots.  They are ready for curing so if you don’t use them, just find a nail in the closet, hand them up and let them dry for use later.  Many recopies call for this milder cousin of the onion. They often are very fitting to eat with beans.    Finally it wouldn’t be summer with out some cool slicing cucumbers.  These are the first of the year,  no bitterness, just greatness.

Enjoy the week!IMG_20160720_161254616_HDR

CSA 2016 Week 6: A tribute to the Vikings.  

Sorry to disappoint the fans of Leif Erickson and Thor, but it only seams fitting to acknowledge the Minnesota Vikings with our assortment of gold and purple in this week’s box.  
The beans are in full force with a first string lineup- yellow variety called Solei and the ever tasty purple Velour making the final cut.  This past weekend we celebrated by Dad’s 75th birthday and Mom made a big batch of this homemade green bean casserole and it was great!  The favorable spring and summer weather has worked well for the onions; there is a bunch of purple ones in the box.  Red beets  and a head of garlic are a gain playing in this week’s box as are the zucchini.  New to the team are the fancy, all-purpose Purple Viking Potatoes.  There is a head of beautiful, mild tasting iceberg lettuce which would be great on a summertime sandwich and a mini head of cabbage.  Finally, this is the retirement of the MVP of the last 3 weeks, the Napa Cabbage. You could try out this stir fried version if you have run out of ideas.   They have had a great run and I hope you enjoyed them.  There are a few planted for fall, so they may come out of retirement and make a return for the fall season, but we will have to wait and see. 

The garlic harvest has begun and by the looks of the 3 varieties lifted, it will go down as my best year of garlic of all time!  Get ready to start warding off the Packers.. errr….vampires because it will becoming your way. 

Also underway is the kraut making process.  First up is dill pickle, red and we are trying out a Jalapeno Red this year as well.  The 6 to 8 weeks wait time to try it out is just another lesson in patience.  
Enjoy the box and enjoy another beautiful week of summer in Minnesota because like most good things, they don’t last forever.

CSA Week 5: The beginning of the beans… and the end of my social life.

977.423.8

977.423.8

String beans.  They are always a much anticipated crop. Fresh beans beat any canned, frozen or store bought variety in a taste tests, hands down.  Beans grow great on the farm, sell easily at the market and I do enjoy eating them myself.  BUT, picking beans is a tedious and time consuming task.  They can’t just hang out on the vine like a zucchini or underground like an onion.  Big beans are no good and if the weather is nice with moisture in the ground, beans grow and require constant picking.  So this week the beans have started with two great varieties.  The slender, tender, purple ones are Velour.  By far, they are the best purple beans I have grown.  Slender, tender, evenly colored, and  productive.  The other variety is Maxibel Hariot Vert.  This is a beautiful long slender French Filet bean that taste soooo good. Don’t overcook either of these delicate beans, just a quick steam or short boil is all they need.  Later on when the Romano beans come in, you can use those for a soup or or baked dish.

There is also an other Napa Cabbage for you to play around with, with may or may not be the final one of the season.  A small head of cabbage, some more beets, garlic, onions, sugar snap peas, and Kale.  You may have had your fill of kale but don’t give up on it yet until you try this Date and Kale salad.  Everyone who tries it wants the recipe.  I even eat it for breakfast, its’s that good.  Big basket gets some extra beets, carrots and raspberries.

975.432.0

975.432.0

The latest storm that blew through dropped a bunch of much needed rain, but just a brief wind and a couple tiny hail so a big sigh or relief can be had.

Enjoy!

 

Larry

CSA 2016 Week 4: We’re Seeing Red… and gold.

IMG_20160629_151607326_HDR (1)We are moving away from the greens and onto some color, in particular, RED!  The first of the beets are really coming in now and they are oh so good!  Boiled, baked, grilled, steamed, which ever way you cook them, these small early beets are full of sweetness and so tender. Some might even score some of the beloved Golden Beets or a few of the Badger Torch Beets. Badger Torch are a new variety developed by the University of Wisconsin.  The shape is more cylindrical and they have a darker gold than the Touchstone Gold with some red striping.  There are not many planted this year as it is more of a trial run, but they are looking and tasting very nice.

IMG_20160628_195745669_HDRIMG_20160628_195726548The dry weather as of late has actually been, overall, pretty handy.  It has allowed for some great weed control, crops do well at sinking down some roots a bit deeper in the soil and that heat allows those warm season crops like tomatoes, peppers and egg plants to really put on some growth.  The tomatoes are fully caged and mulched and full of flowers, so with any luck I can begin to watch them begin to really set fruit.  The garlic scapes will be done as I removed all that were remaining and you can have as many as you would like today.  There is also some fresh garlic, as there will be until it is fully cured in August.  Fresh garlic should be put in the refrigerator until used to keep it at its finest.

 

IMG_20160628_200037918_HDRAlso included is a little head of early cabbage called Premier, some beautiful Napa Cabbage.  Napa can be sauteed or eaten in a slaw but is mighty tasty in this Ramen Noodle Cabbage Salad.  There is the last of the lettuce for a while, some more chard or Kale, some tasty minty and tarragon and  sugar snap peas.  The larger share also has a bundle of early carrots.

A little added bonus is a sampling of my brother Dave’s popcorn!  Last year was the trial run for the popcorn and it was a huge success.  He had a great yield of some of the best popcorn many have ever tasted.  Popped in a little coconut oil with dash of salt or in the air popper, it always pops beautifully and has a great melt-away texture. If you are ever interested in purchasing some let me know and I can hook you up!

Hopefully the week is a great one and your Fourth of July weekend is enjoyable.

Larry

IMG_20160628_195941142_HDR

 

CSA2016 Week 3: Something(s) Sweet

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Week three top of box

Week three and the weather is gorgeous!  These longest days of the year allow for much to get done, and that’s a good thing because there is no shortage of things to do.  The heat does require a little watering here and there, but considering how much things have been growing, it’s no surprise.  Beans are blooming, cabbage is heading and I see the very beginnings of some broccoli.  Amazing eating season is upon us.

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This week’s CSA share contains: lettuce, kale, onions, fresh garlic, garlic scapes, cylindrical beets, sugar snap peas, and rhubarb only because there is also a quart of strawberries as well.  The large share also has an extra bundle of golden beets, purple Pak choy and a small head of cabbage.  If you really don’t want to use the rhubarb, simply chop, throw in a freezer bag, and freeze till the craving comes back.  There is also an herb bundle with a sprig of the tarragon (excellent with chicken) and a few sprigs of mint for mojitos or tea. 

Enjoy these long days of summer while they last!

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Week three bottom of box

CSA2016 Week II: Chlorophyll is Good for You!

This time of the year, all the early plants race to put out as much green growth as possible; leafyness abounds.  All those greens are packed with plenty of vitamins which is just what we all need after a winter of fat and starch.  This week is, again, a box primarily of greens but there are a few delicate treasures starting to creep their way in.  In the bottom of the box you will find a bundle of pok choy, some sticks of rhubarb, some tiny beets (and I had to scrounge to find them!) and a bunch of onions.  These onions have been in the family for decades.  Sometimes they go by the name of Multiplier onions, or Egyptian Walking Onions, or Top Setting Onions or Winter Onions, but these beauties came from my grandparents farm where they were pretty much growing wild under the apple trees.  They are a perennial, coming back year after year and the multiply in a unique way.  Late spring, the onion sets forth a flower, but it’s not really a flower, it is more of an aerial bunch of baby onions, technically called bulbils.  Once the weight gets too great or the onion starts to die back, the cluster falls to the ground where they then root in and grow into new onions, hence they walk about and multiply.  Like most onions, they overwinter quite well and provide one with a fresh crop of onions with little work early in the season.  They are a bit more firm than normal onions, but once cooked up or chopped finely, work out great.  Sometimes they are a bit on the strong side, but that is a good thing! In Eating on the Wild Side, author JO Robinson brings up that the older varieties of more pungent onions have more antioxidants and other cancer fighting compounds than the large sweet varieties that populate the grocery shelves, so eat up!

IMG_20160614_163856632IMG_20160614_163929335IMG_20160614_164000682_HDRIn the second layer of the box, you can find some spinach, mixed lettuce, a bag of Bright Lights Chard and a bag of dill weed and pea shoots.  Pea Shoots? Yep, pea shoots or pea tendrils. These gems taste like peas or pea pods, just in the form of foliage.  They can be chopped finely and added to a salad or steamed.  At an old place of employment, we grew peas by the acre for pea trials and many of my Asian coworkers cut off pea shoots by the bag full.  They then steamed or sauteed them and ate them with rice
daily for weeks.   I think they would pair nicely with the garlic scapes like this Pea Tendrils with Garlic Scapes Recipe, also in the box.  Garlic Scapes have a very short season and now is the time!  They are the immature flowers of a hardneck garlic.  Removing the scape also helps the bulbs grow larger so it is a win-win to cut off the scapes.  As for the Swiss Chard… its not a favorite of mine.  Steamed, its ok, creamed, were getting better, but I do love it in this Pasta with Swiss Chard Recipe!  The little hot pepper, garlic and Parmesan cheese make some great flavors.  I don’t think the capers are totally needed if you don’t have them.

Other doings on the farm include the birth of the last goats of the year, the completed butchering of the broiler chickens, and weed pulling in between rain showers.  The weather has been great so things are looking ripe for a great growing season.  Even some of my grafted apples are looking like they want to fruit, like this Cox Orange Pippin!IMG_20160614_164105625

Coming up next week, probably more of the same, but more beets, napa cabbage,  and possibly something for your sweet tooth.