Hi everyone! We hope this sunny, clear weather finds you all well. We are really excited to have our third box out, and it’s a fun one! Almost as fun as 4th of July parades, firecrackers, ice cream cones and grill-outs, we think.
In anticipation of the upcoming holiday, and in celebration of our personal love and respect for the third president of our nation and one of the most celebrated early farmers of the United States, we dedicate this post to Mr. Thomas Jefferson!
Did you know that Thomas Jefferson, one of my favorite presidents and the author of our Declaration of Independence, was an avid gardener? He believed in a United States as a nation of farmers, saying “I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural”. He was rather advanced in many of his gardening practices-he knew that the key to heathy plants is to create healthy soil, which is at the heart of our farm’s organic practices. He arranged his gardens to harness the warm and cool microclimes, allowing an extension of seasons long before mobile hoophouses. He practiced crop rotation, just as we do, to help increase the fertility of the soil and protect from pests and diseases. Just like Jefferson, Brandon is a meticulous note-taker, keeping track of seeding dates, amounts, soil conditions, weather patterns, threats from pests and disease and more, all in order to better understand our little farm and the habits of the plants we grow.
Many of the vegetables that are common to us today were quite exotic at the time Jefferson grew them. He brought seeds to his garden from his travels around the world, and grew “oddities” like eggplant, chickpeas, and tomatoes at Monticello. We grow some of the very same varieties that T.J. grew himself: Ananas d’Amerique, a lovely melon you’ll likely be seeing in a few months, Fish Pepper, Jimmy Nardello’s Sweet Pepper, Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage, Florence Fennel, Prudens Purple tomato, and the now-famous Cherokee Purple tomato. We even have one of our fields named in honor of him!
Another of Thomas Jefferson’s thoughts on farming: “Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independant, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to it’s liberty and interests by the most lasting bands.”
While we would argue that there is no shortage of hyperbole in the above quote, we appreciate the sentiment. Brandon and I firmly believe that every farmer gained is a step in the right direction for our nation. We are proud to experience the daily, tangible tie to our country by working the earth and helping to feed our fellow citizens, and we are proud that we are fortunate enough to share this with you! Have a fun, safe and happy 4th of July!
Let’s see what’s in the box and what to do with it for all those great picnics coming up!
Here it is:Salad Turnips Broccoli or Cauliflower Head Lettuce Pea Shoots Sorrel Onions (medium and full shares only) Spinach (full shares only) Pac Choi (full shares only)
Salad Turnips-these crunchy and sweet gems are great sliced and tossed into a big green salad. They have the texture of a radish but not a hint of spicyness. Some people also like to saute them with a little olive oil and salt and serve them as a side.
Broccoli or Cauliflower-or both! We had a lovely crop of these brassicas come up this week, so every share gets at least one head. Medium and Full shares get 2 heads or 3, respectively. We are really happy with how these turned out, they have great looks and great taste.
Head Lettuce-probably the last week for these guys, so enjoy while you can. The hotter temperatures are hard on lettuce as they tend to bolt and become bitter, so we typically plan on putting these in only the first three boxes.
Pea Shoots-these beauties are the answer to the problem of a late spring and the need to have that sweet pea taste as part of the late spring/early summer ritual. We knew that this cold, wet spring would make it nearly impossible to coax high-quality peas off the vines before the heat of summer destroyed them, so we decided to wait a few weeks more, plant the peas in a thick bed and harvest only the shoots. The top 3 inches or so are best, very tender, and make a gorgeous addition to a fresh green salad or to a stir-fry.
Sorrel-what an interesting crop! These thick leaves have an intriguing green-apple, lemon taste. They are best used as an accent, so slice them thinly and toss with a salad, garnish your scrambled eggs with a few slices, or use them to flavor a lentil or cauliflower soup like the recipes below.
Onions-Heather planted 12,000 onions this spring and is thrilled to see some of them leave the nest! They are young and tender now, and will keep sizing up as the year progresses.
Spinach-Full shares will enjoy another half pound of spinach, but the real question is what do members like to do with it? Give us an email or post on the website with your ideas, we love to hear from the people eating our produce how they like to eat it!
Pac Choi-This is the last round of purple pac choi for now. Full shares might enjoy adding them to that stir-fry with the pea shoots.
Cauliflower and Sorrel Soup
1 large head cauliflower, stem discarded, florets chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups light chicken stock
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 large sorrel leaves, stems trimmed, then shredded
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the cauliflower florets, potato, and onion in a saucepan with the butter and oil. Heat gently and, when the contents start to sizzle, cover with a lid and sweat everything over a low heat for about 10 minutes. The vegetables should not be at all colored.
Add the stock and bring to a boil, then pour in the milk and return gently to a boil. (This way, there will be no scum forming in the milk.) Season to taste, then simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes when the vegetables should be soft.
Pour in half the cream, then puree in a food processor or blender, or blend in the pan with an immersion blender. Pass the puree through a sieve into a clean pan, rubbing with the back of a ladle.
Stir in the rest of the cream. Taste for seasoning and bring the soup to a boil. Ladle into soup plates, top with sorrel shreds. Serve hot or cold.
Lentil and sorrel soup (V)
from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, British chef and food activist
Starchy red lentils make a nice foil to the sorrel in this lovely soup. Serves two.
1 oz. butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 stem celery, sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
4 oz. red lentils
1 pint vegetable stock (or chicken stock, if you like)
1 bunch sorrel, coarse stems removed, leaves roughly shredded
1 tbsp double cream, plus a little extra to serve
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Melt half the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, add the onion, celery and carrot, cover and sweat gently, stirring from time to time, for about eight minutes, until the vegetables are slightly softened but not coloured.
Stir in the lentils and stock, bring up to a simmer and cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes, until both the vegetables and lentils are soft.
Ladle the soup into a blender along with the raw sorrel, the remaining butter and the cream. Blend until smooth, adding a splash more stock or water if you feel the soup is too thick.
Reheat gently, taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary, and serve in warmed bowls with an extra little swirl of cream on top.
Pea Shoot Salad
1 handful pea shoots, top 3-4 inches only
1 head lettuce
1 clove garlic
3 oz. chevre, crumbled
1/4 cup toasted almonds (feel free to use any nut you like)
Sea salt, black pepper
Hot pepper flakes, optional
Trim the pea shoots and rinse in cold water. Drain.
Cut head lettuce into bite size pieces, wash and drain. Combine with pea shoots.
Make simple vinaigrette by whisking together the minced garlic, the juice of half a lemon and about 1/3 cup olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and pepper flakes if using.
Toss the lettuce and pea shoots with the vinaigrette. Place in serving bowl and top with crumbled chevre and toasted almonds.