Well, another beautiful week on the farm. It’s always good to be into the swing of harvesting and delivering shares. We hope you all enjoyed the first week and are eagerly looking forward to this box. Remember to bring your boxes back to your drop site. Here again is a link to our in-house production on how to unfold your box.
‘Tis the season: Greens greens and more greens
If this is your first time being a CSA member, after the first few weeks you might be saying to yourself: “Jeez, where’s melons and tomatoes? These people only grow greens or what?” Well, we grow melons and tomatoes, but they are just not ready yet. Growing in the North comes with a limited window for certain crops. Crops ready for harvest this time of year tend to have a short growing season, be able to germinate in cooler temps, and take a light frost (the last frost of the season was only a mere 3 and a 1/2 weeks ago believe it or not). Modern grocery stores and trans-national trucking have put us at a rare time in history where we can get almost any piece of produce any time of the year we want, and most of us forget how unusual it actually is to eat a “fresh” tomato in the middle of winter. Being a CSA member re-connects you to the seasonal parameters of your geographical location. I’m not one to wish we could go back to a “simpler time,” but there is something lost, in my opinion, when season and location are not a major sculptor of our eating habits and culture.
And this year goes to…
Every year we like to declare a vegetable of the year that we either are focusing on growing really well, are growing really well, or wish would grow really well (sorry 2014 year-of-the-melon, better luck next time). I’m going to go ahead and call it for this year: 2015 is the year of the head lettuce! We have gone all in on growing head lettuce for the CSA this year. Usually we just have several successions at the beginning of the season, but this year we will be staggering successions all through the summer and fall as well. On top of it, the weather has been fantastic for them all spring and they are looking gorgeous.
To get more lettuce spread out across the season we are trialing a number of different heat tolerant head lettuce varieties that are bred to not turn bitter in the heat (as lettuce tends to do). The ones we like may make it into future baby lettuce mixes for summer production, but for now we will let them live out their full potential as heads of lettuce. Head lettuces can also be more interesting and versatile than baby lettuce mixes. The variety of shapes, textures, colors and head formations are beautiful to experience. Growing to the mature head state really showcases the character of the lettuce and the intentions of the breeding that has gone into creating each variety. Take green lollo types–king of the deli sandwich–fancy, frilly, and sturdy, it keeps well, adds loft and is nice and soft in the leaf and crunchy in the stem. Despite losing some of its panache due to its ubiquitousness, it is a stellar specimen and well designed head of lettuce. I’ll curb my enthusiasm here for now…I’m sure we’ll have more to say about head lettuce as the season goes on. It is the year of the lettuce after all.
What’s in the box this week:
- Head lettuce (of course) (2 for medium and full, 1 for small)
- Pea Shoots (4 oz for full, 3 oz for medium and small)
- Broccoli (1.25 lbs for mediums and smalls only)
- Radish (1 bunch for fulls and mediums)
- Mint (1 bunch each)
- Pac Choi (1.5 lb for fulls, 1 lb for smalls)
- Spicy Salad (1/2 lb for smalls and mediums, 3/4 lb for fulls)
- Green Onions (regular bunch for fulls, small bunch for mediums)
- Cilantro (fulls only)
- Collard Greens (fulls only)
- Chive Salt (1 packet for everyone)
Spicy Salad is back!
Every year we do a blend of several tasty baby mustard greens to make a custom spicy salad mix. These greens are great fresh or slightly cooked (I love love love them scrambled in eggs or quiche!). Watch out! They have a kick to them! They are in the mustard family which is why they have such a similar flavor condiments made from mustard seeds (like a spicy mustard or wasabi). They will mellow when cooked and are less intense if mixed with other greens in a raw salad or added with prudence to a sandwich.
Know your baby mustards (from left to right): Golden Frills, Suehlihung, Garnet Giant, Ruby Streaks.
Your little surprise…
It’s not much, but we’ve had so many happy comments on our seasoned salt the last few years that we are continuing the tradition. This year, we made chive salt. Way back in April we harvested the first growth of chives from our perennial garden and carefully dehydrated them to preserve their color and flavor. We’ve blended them with coarse kosher salt for a simple little treat. We recommend using the salt on buttered bread toasts with thinly sliced raw vegetables, and many of our members really like to sprinkle the herb salt over a nicely grilled piece of chicken or fish as part of a really awesome summer dinner salad. Tell us how you use yours!
The baby pea plant is an excellent little sweet snack that carries the sweet pea flavor in a soft little leafy garnish. Add to a stir fry at the end to slightly wilt, eat raw in a salad, use as a garnish, or just snack on plain for a foraged treat.
Spicy salad mix is awesome eaten raw, but if you’d like to try them cooked check out this recipe for sauteed Mustard Greens and Onions or for a main course try the Pasta with Mustards and Caramelized Onions. Also, collard greens work really well for any of the mustard greens recipes, so feel free to substitute!
We’re thrilled to have such beautiful broccoli again this week, and if you haven’t tried this unusual but fantastic pasta recipe with broccoli pesto, you should!
Next Week’s Sneak Peek:
- Peas, finally (for real this time)
- Spring Greens Mix
- Radish (French Breakfast)
- Napa Cabbage