Hello Sleepy Root members! We are so excited to be at the starting point of our shared season and can’t wait to see the year unfold with all of you.
This spring has been a long, wet, and somewhat difficult one for farming. The enormous amount of rain and cool weather we’ve received over the past month has made some crops germinate rather poorly, and we are anticipating some problems with our first succession of spinach, beets and cress. We will fill in and re-arrange the boxes so we can always give you everything the farm has to offer every week. Many of our nearby farm friends have experienced terrible flooding, and we are fortunate that we have escaped that particular problem. We feel very good about most all the other crops for the year, and think overall this will be another wonderful season, albeit a slightly spottier spring than we wished for.
We also write our newsletter today with heavy hearts and tears in our eyes. Heather’s father, Bob Spohr passed away on Sunday at the age of 65, following a long and hard 4-year battle with cancer. We are so grateful that we had more time with him than anyone expected and that he was able to walk Heather down the aisle for our wedding in February. We are so saddened by the loss of this generous, kind, gentle man. He will be missed so much not only by us and our family but to all those who knew him. Please keep Heather, her mother and the whole family in your thoughts. Heather and I thank all of you who have already been a part of this painful process and who have extended love and support over the years. We will be traveling to Evansville, Indiana on Thursday for the wake and funeral and will return to the farm late Sunday night. Our wonderful employees Megan and Ben will be working away and keeping an eye on things while we are gone-and we can’t emphasize enough the burden they lift from our minds right now. While we are absent feel free to call or email with any questions or problems-we know that the first week of deliveries sometimes raises a few. We will try to get back to each and every one of you as best we can.
Before we get to the good stuff of what’s in your boxes, a few things should be mentioned about how to handle your produce share for best success:
1) Unpack your box when you get home
Unpacking allows you to survey the goods and gives you a chance to make sure things are properly stored for the longest shelf life.
2) Prep and properly store your produce
Anything that has a leafy green and all root vegetables will store much better inside a plastic bag. Because we try to cut back on the amount of plastic we send out, not all items that store best in bags will come in them. For example: your kale and radish will do okay hanging around in the crisper for several days but will keep much longer and retain their crunch if you keep them in a produce bag.
Your head lettuce and most other greens will store best when they don’t have excessive moisture in their bags. We harvest, wash and dry them the morning of delivery, but we recommend you wash by swishing in a bowl of cold water, gently lifting out of the water (as opposed to pouring the water out first, which just returns any soil to the leaves!) and dry it again (with a salad spinner or patting leaves with a dry towel) and/or put a dry towel in their bag to absorb excess moisture.
3) Wash produce before using
We clean everything before it gets sent out to you, but it’s always a good idea to clean it again. Some items like the head lettuce can only really get cleaned once they’re cut apart.
4) Unfold your box after emptying by squeezing the short flaps on the underside of the box out to dislodge the insert tabs. Bring your box back to your drop site next week and leave behind for us to pick up and re-use.
Here’s what we’ve all been waiting for!
What’s in the box this week:Radishes-French Breakfast Head Lettuce-assorted beauties, including Mirlo, Ocate, Red Sails, Love Lock and Rouge d’hiver (3 heads for smalls, 4 for mediums, and 5 for full shares) Pea Shoots (2 ounces for small shares, 4 ounces for medium shares, and 6 ounces for full shares) Red Russian Kale (medium and full shares only) Mint Lovage Salt Pac choi (Full shares only)
Thoughts on radishes: We really don’t like to do much to our radishes. The radish canape is an all-time favorite which we never tire of. They’re also fantastic sliced thinly and added to sandwiches for extra crunch and spice. A quick pickle is always nice, too, but they’ve never made it to that stage in our house!
Thoughts on lettuce: It’s truly one of our favorite things to eat. We love their versatility, their color, their beauty and texture. Nigel Slater, the fabulous British food writer, probably writes the best love letter to lettuce we’ve ever seen: following is an excerpt from his book, Tender (which we highly recommend for all you veggie lovers out there!)”…We tend to take most salad leaves for granted, rarely affording them the respect they deserve. Flavor isn’t really the point here. Texture and composition are almost more fundamental to what we are likely to call a good lettuce. Most of all, it must be fresh, almost more so than any other vegetable. When they are newly picked, , with the dew still sitting in the waves and dimples of their leaves, you see these greens in a new light, a vegetable of the utmost tender, fragile beauty.”
We tend to eat salads with a very simple formula: lettuce, dressed first with a drizzle of olive oil and then a drop or two of vinegar and a light dusting of salt. We then add any other vegetable we have around, plus some shredded cheese, dried fruits if we feel like it, and some toasted nuts. There’s endless variations, and we turn it into a more substantial meal sometimes by adding some sliced grilled flank steak or chicken.
There is a special encore addition to this box: Lovage salt. Lovage is a perennial herb that looks and tastes like a skinny, pungent celery and is best used as an herb due to its strong flavor. Heather dehydrated the leaves and ground it in with salt for a unique seasoning. It adds extra herbaceous depth to anything you would normally salt. We’ve been making one of our favorite spring snacks with it: Radish Canapé (see recipe below) and it is also particularly well suited as a Bloody Mary rim salt. Try it sprinkled on grilled chicken or fish for a special finishing taste!Pea shoots
Pea shoots are one of the finest delicacies of Spring! Bursting with the fresh taste of peas, these tender little beauties are prized. We grow beds of peas specifically for harvesting as shoots, and additional beds for growing on into fresh peas. A traditional Chinese ingredient, they have also been embraced by French and modern American cuisine. This link will bring you to a great blog with nutritional information and a great list of recipes.
We gave out this “recipe” last year, and it really warrants a return!Slice good quality French baguette into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices. Spread thin layer of good local butter (room temp makes for easier spreading). Cut French breakfast radish into thin round slices, cover buttered bread with layer of radish slices. Sprinkle Lovage salt on top to taste. Its always good to make about double what you think you would want for this appetizer as they will go quicker than you expect! You may also smear fresh goat cheese, such as Donnay Chevre, on your bread and then layer with the radishes and lovage salt.
Pea Shoot, Mint and Pancetta Pasta
- 1 pound linguini, angelhair, or spaghetti
- 1/4 lb. (4 oz.) pancetta, finely diced (If you don’t have pancetta, try bacon or italian sausage. Vegetarians-we love this with extra caramelized onions)
- 2 shallots or onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- 3 cups pea shoots, washed and coarsely chopped
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- lots of freshly ground pepper
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- Parmesan or pecorino cheese for grating
- Fresh mint, roughly chopped, to taste
Put water on to boil for the pasta.
While you’re waiting for the water to boil, dice the pancetta and start cooking with the olive oil in a saute pan. Next, slice the onion or shallot and throw in the pan with the pancetta. Allow the onions to caramelize over medium heat. Toss in the pea shoots and let them just begin to wilt. This should be happening while you cook your pasta. If the onions mixture is done before the pasta finishes, simply turn the heat off.
When the pasta is cooked, strain it and return to it’s cooking pot, adding the onion/pancetta/pea shoots and mixing well. Grate the lemon into the pot, and squeeze in lemon juice to your liking.
Grate as much parmesan or pecorino as you’d like over the pasta, as well as the chopped fresh mint and a healthy grind of fresh black pepper.
Yeah, you got a lot of it! It’s so lovely right now we just couldn’t resist. Put it in the fridge, or if your house has a cool spot, place it in a vase of water and enjoy the scent while you use it up. Visit this page on Epicurious for more mint recipes than you can shake a stick at! Let us know if you have any favorites!
All the best from all of us at Sleepy Root:
Brandon, Heather, Frank, Megan and Ben