Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sugar Snap Peas and Garlic Scapes!

Hello Echollective followers!

We're still having quite the time fighting through this dry spell!  At least it's been dry where we are...these storms lately are just missing us!  Oh well.  We warmly welcomed the cooler weather we experienced today, and that which is to come in the next couple days...along with a rumored storm.  Hopefully it hits us this time!  We've got sprinklers running through our garlic and potatoes (usually quite self-sufficient crops with intermittent rain) and hitting our plant starts every few hours.  By the way, our potato plants have gotten big.

Radishes, turnips, and beets have all been coming in by the armful!  Our beets this year are quite good-sized and plentiful.  What else is on the way...our broccoli is growing fast, ready for harvest in a month or so.  Our most recent round of transplanted kales will be featured in this week's braising mixes, sold at Co-op, Iowa City Farmer's Market, and which will be in the next CSA box...redbor and winterbor!  Redbor is a beautiful deep green hue with many tinges of purple.  Winterbor is your classic tasty blue-tinted kale, with ruffled edges (redbor is ruffled too).  Soon we'll be selling them by the bunch!  Braising mix will also feature some Napa cabbage leaves and Red choi leaves as well.  Ever heard of red choi?  I believe it is a pac choi/komatsuna hybrid.  The leaves have the mild spice of pac choi, with a peppery after taste.  Very interesting, and a very delicious touch to braising mixes!  It was in the salad mix last week for Saturday CSA folks, but now it is in both salad and braising mixes.

Basil plants are steadily getting bigger, and really liking the heat...tomatoes too, which are pretty close to needing their trellises.  Zucchinis have spread out a few inches and are now sporting their more mature leaves.  With such hot days, you really see plants like tomatoes and basil grow happily...you just gotta give them tons of water too.

This week will be our first sugar-snap pea week!  Expect some sugar snaps in your boxes, folks.  Our peas blossomed over a week ago, and this last week our oldest planted peas showed tons of fruit!  We are also picking our first garlic scapes!  Scapes are the flower part of garlic.  They can be picked off and taste delicious cooked...when eaten raw they are pretty strong and pungent!  When picked, it also helps the garlic plant focus its energy back down to its roots, and thus the bulb, to form the biggest and best-tasting garlic you can grow.

We've still got head lettuce in spades, and in spite of the hot weather we are planting more!  The variety you all have been receiving from us is called the "New Red Fire" variety.  We are trying out another variety called "Ruby Sky" this year.  Head lettuce has appeared in your CSA boxes the last couple weeks.  With this hot hot season, lettuce easily wilts more than any other vegetable, and it can be a challenge to keep that lettuce crisp and fresh, just how you like it.  Here's a few tips for you on how to keep your lettuce good for longer!  You may notice that when we package the head lettuce for you, the outermost leaves look brownish and unappetizing.  We leave them on there as a sort of "protective guard" against other items packed in with it to preserve the best, innermost leaves of the lettuce head until your mealtime; then you can just peel those leaves off, and serve/eat the good stuff.  You may also notice we leave a chunk of the root stalk on the lettuce head!  If leaves ever look wilty at all, place the lettuce head in a bowl, pitcher, or whichever container you like full of water, submerging only the root stalk.  A container full of ice works, too.  In a bit the lettuce will perk up and look full and beautiful again!  Placing the lettuce in a cool place (refrigerator/freezer) with the root stalk in contact of ice also maintains its freshness and aesthetic beauty.

As for the animal news on the farm: Survivor's leg is healing nicely, and we are continuing to keep a close eye on her!  Randall's chickens have gotten quite plump, and I believe they are about reading for the chopping block.  Doctor K(aporkian) and Merlock have been getting it good lately, dining on pac choi, arugula, breads, lettuces and all sorts of treats we can find them.  They are adorable and quite happy.  They let you pick them up sometimes!  Macy and her kittens are doing well, they are now starting to jump around and play with one another...they get curious about what we do all day with wash bins and piles of vegetables.

Hope you are well, and thank you for letting us be your farmers.  Hope to see you at market!


What's on the table this week:
  • Braising Mix
  • Salad Mix
  • Arugula (bag)
  • Beets
  • Turnips
  • Asparagus
  • Nettles
  • Radishes
  • Head Lettuce
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Garlic Scapes

Recipes


Beet, Citrus and Avocado Salad (www.nytimes.com)

This is a beautiful salad of contrasting flavors and textures. The juicy, acidic grapefruit plays off the earthy beets and the creamy, nutty avocado.

For the dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon walnut oil
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

For the salad:
  • 1 bunch beets (about 1 pound), scrubbed and roasted
  • 1 pink grapefruit
  • 1 medium-size or large ripe but firm Hass avocado, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons slivered fresh basil

1. Mix together the lemon or lime juice, the ground cumin seeds, salt, pepper and Dijon mustard. Whisk in the walnut oil and canola oil.
2. Peel the roasted beets, and slice or cut in wedges. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the dressing.
3. Cut away both ends of the grapefruit so that it sits flat on your work surface. Cut the skin and pith completely away from the fruit, following the natural curve of the fruit from top to bottom. Hold the grapefruit in your hand over a bowl to catch the juice, and cut away each segment from between the membranes.
4. Arrange the beets in the center of a platter, and surround with the grapefruit and avocado slices. Drizzle on the remaining dressing, and drizzle any grapefruit juice in the bowl over the grapefruit and avocado. Sprinkle on the basil, and serve.
Yield: Serves four.
Advance preparation: Roasted beets will keep for three to five days in the refrigerator. If you have them on hand, the salad is very quickly thrown together.


Pasta with Sugar Snap Peas, Asparagus and Parmesan
  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 lb. bow-tie pasta
  • 1/2 lb. sugar snap peas or snow peas, trimmed
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Add asparagus to large pot of boiling salted water. Cook until just crisp-tender. Transfer to bowl of cold water using slotted spoon. Cool asparagus slightly and drain. Add pasta to same pot of water and boil until just tender but still firm to bite. Add sugar snap peas and boil 2 minutes. Add asparagus and heat through. Drain well. Return pasta-vegetable mixture to pot. Add oil and toss to coat. Add 1/2 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, passing additional cheese separately. Preparation time: 20 minutes. Serves: 4.
Crispy Turnip 'Fries'

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds turnips
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with a piece of aluminum foil and lightly grease.
  2. Peel the turnips, and cut into French fry-sized sticks, about 1/3 by 4 inches. Place into a large bowl, and toss with the vegetable oil to coat. Place the Parmesan cheese, garlic salt, paprika, onion powder in a resealable plastic bag, and shake to mix. Place the oiled turnips into the bag, and shake until evenly coated with the spices. Spread out onto the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake in preheated oven until the outside is crispy, and the inside is tender, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
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Please tell us if you can't identify something on the market table, don't know what to do with a particular item, have a food allergy we should know about, or if you have other questions or comments. We love to hear from you!
 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dry Spell

Hello everyone!  Hope everybody is doing well.  To our CSA members: hope you enjoyed your first box!   We apologize that what actually turned up in them may have been a bit different than what appeared on our list...turns out we didn't have as much pac choi as we thought, and nowhere near enough cilantro.  We will try to be more true to our list next time!

Also, seems like we missed quite a few of you on Saturday!  That is our fault.  While we caught most of you on Wednesday (seems like only a couple people couldn't make it), we failed to sufficiently get a hold of all our Saturday pickup folks (more specifically, we failed to call you), and a lot of you didn't show up...we are sorry!  Before next Saturday we will make a renewed effort to make sure everybody knows our Summer CSA season has already begun.

In farm news: it...is...DRY.  Really, really dry.  The thunderstorm we were hoping for this past Sunday did not come through, although we we were told there would be a 50% chance of precipitation.  Dryness and drought, as you can figure out quickly, is quite an obstacle for farmers.  We must water constantly, diligently, and be highly observant.  This takes up a great deal of our time and energy, and pulls many of our farmers off of other important tasks like weeding, harvesting, and packing produce simply to watch plants and keep them alive.  Mind you, all this watering is simply to keep plants from dying....we do not experience much accelerated growth at all, and our harvests slip into a bit of a bottleneck!  We'd like you all to know that as a result, we are struggling and will try our best to keep the good stuff coming.  We have lots of stuff in the ground, but the harvests will be slower and fewer.  We are going to hold back on having a lot of produce at Farmer's Market, and prioritize the CSA shares.  We want to make sure you get the full benefit and variety of what we have at the moment, and hopefully the weather will improve!  Just letting you all know.  We hope you understand what we have to go through during these hot, hot summers to bring all this food to your table, and we want you to be informed of the reason why there is less of something or lack of certain things completely during this time.  In the meantime...pray for rain!  Or do a little rain dance!

On the plus side...you will be experiencing the beginnings of our first beet and turnip crop this week!

For those of you who were with us during early Spring CSA and even earlier, you may have encountered some of those helpings of stinging nettles.  Some of you may or may not know how to cook or eat this vegetable (yes, it is indeed a "wild" vegetable), and even more of you may simply be intimidated or freaked out by the concept of eating, let alone touching, stinging nettles.  So let us tell you a bit more about them!  For those of you who are concerned about handling this vegetable, we can assure you that typically a few days after they are picked, most of their histamine-emitting hair-like needles on their leaves and stems have dried and fallen off.  I'll warn you that very few can still remain here and there, but even if you do have a brush-in with a sting, the intensity of histamine the plant gives out when it is picked is a whole lot more diminished.  At the very worst, a nettle sting feels just like a mild bee or wasp sting.  In my book, that ain't nothing to cry about.  If you notice a lot of hairs still there, or the plant still seems really fresh...to be safe, you can choose to wear gloves so you don't encounter any, or you can always handle the plant by the very base of the stem or stalk, right above the roots, where there aren't any stingers.  For the tough-skinned and adventurous, go ahead and grab them!  I do it all the time, any stings I rarely encounter are mild and hardly anything to worry about (but that's just me, I am apt to roll around in patches of stinging nettle just for kicks.  J/k.).  Additionally, once you boil, steam, or dry out stinging nettles (say for storing or medicinal purposes), the histamine needles completely dissolve, 100% guaranteed.

Stinging nettles are one of those foods that I am surprised hasn't become a super-food!  Nettles have amazingly abundant amounts of iron, vitamin C & A, potassium, manganese, and calcium.  These plants taste a lot like spinach when cooked and are twice as good for you!  Stinging nettles are also fantastic medicine, helping with ailments such as allergies, rheumatism, menstruation, anemia, fatigue, and to help mother's breastfeed.  Featured at the end of our newsletter will be some recipes to help you get acquainted with this excellent wild vegetable!

Some of you got some of our CSA oyster mushroom special last week!  We hope you enjoyed it.  Any feedback on that would be lovely.  If you didn't receive one and would like one this upcoming week at your pickup, please let us know!

We also had a bit of a kitty mishap the other day, right in the middle of Friday, our busiest packing day when we are trying to get Co-op & restaurant orders, CSA boxes, and Farmer's Market produce out the door by Saturday morning.  Poor Survivor hurt her leg!  Between taking care of vegetables and cat injuries, we were all a bit frantic!  Although she seemed to be recovering pretty well, hobbling about but still trying to have fun, she made a visit to the vet yesterday just to make sure.  We thought her leg may have been broken, but turns out her ankle is only slightly dislocated, and will heal naturally in time with supervision.  She is being given lotsa bed-rest, love, and healthy space....we think it is very apparent she loathed her veterinary appointment, although she really took it in stride and behaved spectacularly.  But she clearly doesn't want to be messed around with anymore!  We are glad she is doing ok...and that she'll be able to keep her leg!  She definitely is a Survivor.

Last Saturday was also our first day selling at the 8th Ave. Cedar Rapids Farmer's Market!  Quite a success.  One of our workers Mike signed up to do the vending, and he was complimented by the market staff for being quite the dynamic salesman.  Coincidentally we did really, really well.  If you buy your produce from us out in Cedar Rapids, you'll be seeing a whole lot of Mike on those busy Saturdays!

It sure has been a bit of a stressful week, getting Summer CSA off the ground and dealing with kitty, amongst other things.  But though it may be a lot of toil and time for us, we all try to remember to have fun...and hey, we also eat well and stay fit!  Come share in the healthiness sometime...we love our Work-Traders and we love to see folks come out to volunteer!

Enjoy the beginnings of summer!

What's on your plate next week:
  • Braising Mix
  • Salad Mix
  • Spinach (bag)
  • Beets
  • Turnips
  • Asparagus
  • Nettles
  • Radishes
  • Pac choi
  • Head lettuce

Recipes (here is a group of recipes so you can get a "grasp" on stinging nettles!)

Nettle Ravioli Recipe (honest-food.net)
 Makes 35-40 ravioli.
  • 5 ounces all-purpose flour, a heaping cup
  • 5 ounces rye flour, also a heaping cup
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 2 roasted Yukon Gold or other waxy potatoes
  • 4 ounces mascarpone
  • 4 ounces blanched stinging nettles, a little less than a cup
  • Salt and pepper
  1. You will need two or three big tong-fulls of fresh nettles to get your 4 ounces. I say tong-fulls because you do not want to pick up fresh nettles, as they will sting you. Thus the name. Get a huge pot of water boiling and add a handful of salt.
  2. Grab the nettles with tongs and put them into the boiling water. Stir around and boil for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Fish them out with a skimmer or the tongs and immediately dump them into a big bowl with ice water in it. Once they are cool, put them in a colander to strain.
  4. Get a cloth towel, like a tea towel, and put the nettles in it. Wrap one end of the towel one way, then the other end of the towel the other and squeeze out as much moisture as you can.
  5. Chop the nettles finely — don’t use a food processor or you will get a mush.
  6. In a bowl, mash the potatoes, mascarpone and nettles into a cohesive paste. Again, not food processor! Do this by hand, as it is important for the texture. Taste it and add salt and pepper to your liking.
  7. To make the pasta, mix the rye and wheat flours and the pinch of salt and whisk or sift to combine.
  8. Make a well in the center and add the egg and the water, then with a fork whisk the two together, gradually incorporating the flour until you get a shaggy mass.
  9. Start folding the dough over itself until it comes together, then begin kneading. This is a hard dough, so you’ll need to work it hard. Knead for 5-8 minutes.
  10. Cover the dough with a thin film of olive oil and wrap in plastic. Let it sit for an hour.
  11. Cut off a piece of the dough and roll it out in a pasta machine. How thick? Your choice. I normally like thin ravioli, but the green in the filling shows through clearly on thinly made ravioli, so I go only to No. 6 on my Atlas — this is 3 clicks from the thinnest setting.
  12. Lay out your pasta on a board or table, then cut it in half.
  13. Put a teaspoon of filling every 2 inches or so and get a little bowl of water. Dip your finger in and run it along the pasta all around your filling. Just a little water, here, not too much.
  14. Lay the second piece of pasta over the first and seal off the ravioli, starting from the edges nearest the filling. Try to push out as much air as possible.
  15. With a knife or a pizza cutter, cut out the individual ravioli.
  16. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.
  17. You can freeze the ravioli at this point by putting them side by side — not overlapping! — on a cookie sheet in the freezer until they are solid, then into a plastic bag or better yet a vacuum sealed bag. Vacuum sealed they will last up to 4 months.
  18. If you are eating them fresh, boil in lots of salty water until they float, and then for another minute or two. Serve at once.


Nettle Pesto (pesto d'urtica) honest-food.net
This makes a little more than 1/2 cup of very green, very pretty pesto. Store any unused pesto in the fridge, topped with some olive oil to keep the air out.

You must first blanch the nettles before making this pesto. This is how:
  1. You will need two or three big tong-fulls of fresh nettles for this recipe. I say tong-fulls because you do not want to pick up fresh nettles, as they will sting you. Thus the name. Get a huge pot of water boiling and add a handful of salt.
  2. Grab the nettles with tongs and put them into the boiling water. Stir around and boil for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Fish them out with a skimmer or the tongs and immediately dump them into a big bowl with ice water in it. Once they are cool, put them in a colander to strain.
  4. Get a cloth towel, like a tea towel, and put the nettles in it. Wrap one end of the towel one way, then the other end of the towel the other and squeeze out as much moisture as you can.
 Now for the pesto:
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons grated cheese (any hard cheese will do)
  • 6-8 tablespoons blanched, chopped nettles
  • Salt
  • Olive oil (use the good stuff)
  1. Pesto is best made with a mortar and pestle, thus the name, which means “pound.’ You can make this in a food processor, but it will not be the same. First add the pine nuts and crush lightly — as they are roundish, they will jump out of your mortar if you get too vigorous.
  2. Roughly chop the garlic and add it to the mortar, then pound a little.
  3. Add the salt, cheese and the nettles and commence pounding. Mash everything together, stirring with the pestle and mashing well so it is all fairly uniform.
  4. Start adding olive oil. How much? Depends on how you are using your pesto. If you are making a spread, maybe 2 tablespoons. If a pasta sauce, double that or more. Either way, you add 1 tablespoon at a time, pounding and stirring to incorporate it.
  5. Serve as a spread on bread, as an additive to a minestrone (like this one), as a pasta sauce or as a dollop on fish or poultry.

Spring Lasagna with Asparagus, Peas, and Stinging Nettles (www.thebittenword.com)
Serves 6-8.
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 5 cups loose stinging nettle leaves (see note); baby spinach can be substituted
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen peas
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces mild goat cheese
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 lemons, very thinly sliced
  • 12 no-boil lasagna noodles

Note on preparing stinging nettles: Wearing gloves, place fresh nettles on a cutting board. Separate the leaves from the stalk. You can use the stems and leaves from the top 6 or 8 leaves on each stalk. You can also use the lower leaves, but discard the thicker stems as well as the main stalk, as they will be too thick and reedy to eat.

DIRECTIONS

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare stinging nettle leaves (see note above), and prepare asparagus: Cut the tips off of each asparagus spear and reserve them. Then cut asparagus spears into 1/2-inch pieces and set aside.
-In a large saucepan over medium high heat, cook sausage, breaking up pieces, until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to paper towel-lined plate.
-Into same saucepan, add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, then the pieces of asparagus spears. Sauté asparagus until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
-Add remaining olive oil to pan, then add diced onion and sauté until just softened and beginning to turn golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add stinging nettle leaves and sauté until wilted and cooked through, about 3 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
-Cover lemon slices with cold water by 3 inches in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate using a slotted spoon.
-Make the roux: Melt butter in a different saucepan over high heat. Stir in flour; cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat. Simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in Parmesan and goat cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
-Spread 1/4 cup of the roux in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, then top with a layer of noodles. Top with sautéed asparagus, half the sausage, one third of the remaining roux, and another layer of noodles. Top that with sautéed nettles and onions, peas, half the remaining roux, half the lemon slices, the remaining sausage and another layer of noodles. Arrange the remaining lemon slices and the reserved asparagus tips on the top layer, then pour on the remaining roux.
-Cover dish with parchment-lined aluminum foil and bake 28 minutes, until top is golden and bubbly. (You may want to finish it under a broiler for 2 minutes.) Let stand 10 minutes.

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Please tell us if you can't identify something on the market table, don't know what to do with a particular item, have a food allergy we should know about, or if you have other questions or comments. We love to hear from you!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Summer Farm Happenin's

Well, summer isn't really here yet, but it might as well be.  Summer CSA has begun already!  This past stretch of hot, hot weather has really got us all sweating out in the fields...running around and watering things...getting our skin to burn, peel, and tan.  It's been so dry, and we avidly await the next series of storms...we really need it.  And we need a break!

Of course, summer also means the hot vegetables are coming!  That would be tomatoes, basil, peppers, eggplants, and squashes.  This morning we got a whole lot more tomatoes and peppers into the ground in our greenhouse.  More freshly planted squashes are sprouting between our head lettuces, in the spaces that the big ones we pulled left behind.  No eggplants in the ground yet!  We have yet to make room.  Fortunately we have a variety of eggplant that doesn't take too long to get to maturity...most varieties take four months to mature from germination!  We still have cool weather crops for harvesting too, so don't worry!  We have a LOT.  Another round of pac choi heads are on the way.  We've got arugula and radishes in plenty.  No end to our lettuces yet, spinach keeps coming on, and it seems that we'll have a few more weeks of asparagus!  Our beets are getting bigger and bigger, and we'll have some sugar snap peas ready for the picking in no time.

We also have a vegetable that will appear in your next CSA box, but which most of you might not be too familiar with, it's kinda like broccoli but the florettes are smaller...broccoli raab!  Also called rapini.  We harvested a pound of it in a restaurant order just the other night, I got a few nibbles and it was pretty tasty.  Apparently some Italian cooks are nuts about putting rapini in their dishes.  An interesting thing to know is that broccoli raab and turnips are both the same species!  They diverged when they were selected for different traits: some plants for their swollen, tasty root, and some for their succulent florettes.  Thus you get broccoli raab and turnips...both share the same common wild ancestor.  If you were to take them both before some biologist or taxonomist, he/she would say they are the same...yet on a culinary level, they are entirely different.  Anyways, you will get that in your next box!

We were stoked to see everyone show up to market to pick up their first big CSA box of the year!  Well, except a few people, we hope to see them soon too!  Saturday market will bring a whole other group of CSA members to pick up their shares.  We hope everybody will like everything, and we all hope that you have a great week filled with delicious food.  See you next week!

What to expect next week:
  • Salad Mix
  • Braising Mix
  • Arugula
  • Cilantro bunch
  • Spinach (bag)
  • Pac choi head
  • Broccoli Raab/Rapini (bag)
  • Spring Radish bunch
  • Asparagus bunch

(We are out of rhubarb!  :(  Sorry it did not appear in the last CSA box, even though we said it would.  It abruptly left us.)
 

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Recipes

Broccoli Raab with Carmelized Onions Recipe (simplyrecipes.com)

Ingredients
  • Olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced into slivers, lengthwise (with the grain)
  • 1 large bunch of broccoli rabe (raab, rapini), rinsed and cut into 2-inch long pieces
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
 1- Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the onions, spread out in a thin layer. Cook, stirring occasionally until softened and then lightly browned. (Tip: to speed up the caramelization process you can sprinkle a pinch of sugar over the onions.) If the onions start to dry out at all, lower the heat (you can add a little water to them too.) They should brown, but not get dried out.
  
2- After you start the onions, bring a large pot of water to a boil. The onions take at least 15 minute to cook, so you'll have time to get the water boiling. Salt the water (about a tablespoon of salt for 3 quarts of water). Prepare an ice bath, fill a large bowl half way with ice water. Add the rabe to the boiling water. Blanch for 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to remove from the boiling water and put in the ice bath to stop the cooking. Shocking the rabe with ice water will also help keep the rabe bright green colored.
Note that some people blanch their rabe, some do not. Rabe can be rather bitter, so blanching will help take the edge off of the bitterness. If your rabe isn't particularly bitter, or you like bitter greens, you can easily skip this blanching step.  Drain the ice water from the rabe. Use a clean tea towel to gently wring out the excess moisture from the rabe.

3- Once the onions are lightly browned, remove them from the pan to a bowl. Using the same pan, add another Tbsp of olive oil and heat the pan on high heat. Add the chili flakes. Once the chili flakes start to sizzle, add the garlic. Once the garlic just starts to brown at the edges add the broccoli rabe and the onions. Toss the rabe mixture so that it gets well coated with the olive oil. Cook on high heat until most of the moisture is gone, about 5 minutes if you blanched first, a minute or too longer if you skipped the blanching.

Penne with Sausage & Broccoli Raab (cooks.com)

1 lb. of penne pasta
1 lb. sweet sausage
1 bunch fresh broccoli rabe
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can chicken stock
1 tbsp. cornstarch
3 to 4 sun-dried tomatoes in oil
Grated Parmesan cheese
1. Clean broccoli rabe and steam or boil in water. Strain and set aside.2. Cook sweet sausage in frying pan, adding a little water so it does not burn. Cover pan and cook until sausage is no longer pink. Set sausage aside and cut each sausage link into 1/4 inch diagonal slices.
3. In sausage drippings, saute minced garlic. When garlic is golden, but not brown, add can of chicken stock. Stir and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Put cornstarch in small bowl and add a ladle of chicken stock. Mix and stir until thick and smooth.
5. Add cornstarch paste into rest of stock and continue to cook for 10 more minutes, stirring continuously until thickened.
6. Boil pasta and strain. Place in serving bowl.
7. Combine cut up sausage, 3 to 4 sundried tomatoes broken into bits and broccoli rabe. Stir into sauce and top over pasta. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.


 Honey-Topped Radish Tartines (brightonyourhealth.com)

Ingredients
  • 1-2 medium slice Rye or Pumpernickel Bread
  • 1-2 tablespoon Fromage Frais or Greek Yogurt
  • 5 Mild Flavored Radishes such as French Breakfast Radishes, sliced thin (Milder tasting radishes are best for these breakfast tartines.)
  • 1 tablespoon Honey (Best if the honey was slightly runny in order to top the tartine properly.)

Note: French Breakfast Radishes are well known in France for their year round availability and mild taste. They are a perfect topping for this breakfast tartine. Don't be weary of the potential strong flavor of this breakfast sandwich. It is a wonderful combination of slight tartness and texture, soft cheesy feel and sweet honey.  High health benefits of radishes are abundant and are a great addition to the breakfast tray!

Directions

1- Spread carefully the fromage frais or greek yogurt completely onto the bread.



2- Add the sliced radishes on top of the fromage frais or greek yogurt.
3- Drizzle the honey on top of the tartine from top to bottom.
4- If the bread is a large slice, cut in half and serve.


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Please tell us if you can't identify something on the market table, don't know what to do with a particular item, have a food allergy we should know about, or if you have other questions or comments. We love to hear from you!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Summer CSA: EARLY KICK-OFF THIS WEDNESDAY

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!  We sent off a mass-email to our members last week about the possibility of starting our Summer CSA early.  Well...we got a lot of feedback, and it all seems to be more on the positive side!  A lot of you can't wait for it to start, and we've got more vegetables in the ground than we know what to do with....ready for the harvestin'!

SO IT IS OFFICIAL: SUMMER CSA BEGINS THIS WEDNESDAY!

With Summer CSA beginning, this is also means that the time has come for the rest of your CSA member dues.  We expect the rest of your payment at your first CSA pick-up.  If you are having any sort of difficulty, we are flexible and can work with you.  (If you don't remember how much you owe, contact us for an invoice.)

If you're signed up for CSA pickup at the Iowa City Farmer's Market on Wednesday, we'll expect to see you there!  We'll have your first box ready and waiting!  For those signed up for ICFM Saturday pickup...we'll see ya in a week!  (Note: If you don't remember which pickup you signed up for, we can look that up for you.  Just email us.)

In order for this message to be effective, PLEASE EMAIL US A QUICK NOTE THAT YOU RECEIVED THIS!  We DON'T want anybody to be in the dark about our early CSA start.  If we do NOT receive an email from you, we will call you before Wednesday!

SPECIAL NOTE: With Summer CSA starting, this also means the beginning of our Work-Trade arrangements!  This year we are once again having CSA members sign-up to hand out our CSA boxes at the market pick-ups.  Email us if you are interested in this particular Work-Trade position.  If you are doing Work-Trade/would like to Work-Trade some of the cost, now is the time to contact us.  

OOPS: ANOTHER SPECIAL NOTE!  Our resident Echollective mushroom farmer Will will be offering a special oyster mushroom CSA for those interested.  Please inquire by email: echocsa@gmail.com or echofarmers879@gmail.com

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What to expect in your first CSA box:
  • Salad Mix
  • Braising Mix
  • Spinach (bag)
  • Arugula (bag) 
  • Cilantro bunch
  • Spring Radish bunch
  • Asparagus bunch
  • Rhubarb bunch
  • Pac choi head
  • Head lettuce
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Recipes

Bok Choy Recipe (www.steamykitchen.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds bok choy or baby bok choy
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola, vegetable or peanut oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons broth or water (or 2 tablespoons broth/water + 1 tablespoon wine)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Directions:

1. Start by trimming the stem off - don't trim too much - just the end. Cutting the thick stem off will ensure that the bok choy cooks evenly. Separate out the leaves, keep the tender center intact and clean under running water. Drain.
2. Finely mince garlic and grate fresh ginger with a microplane grater. Grating the ginger helps break up the tough fibers! (and yeah, sometimes when the ginger is nice and fresh, I don't even bother peeling off the paper-thin skin)
3. Place wok or frying pan on your stove and pour in the cooking oil. Add the garlic and ginger. Turn the heat to medium-high. Let the ginger and garlic gently sizzle in the oil. When the aromatics become fragrant and light golden brown, add the bok choy leaves. Toss very well to coat each leaf with the garlicky, gingery oil for 15 seconds. Pour in broth, water or wine. Immediately cover and let cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and drizzle a bit of sesame oil on top.

 Spring Strawberry Spinach Salad (allrecipes.com)

  • 1 bunch spinach, rinsed
  • 10 large strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix the spinach and strawberries.
  2. In a blender, place the sugar, salt, vinegar, and oil, and blend until smooth. Stir in the poppy seeds. Pour over the spinach and strawberries, and toss to coat.

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 In farm news, organic farming continues to be an incredibly busy job.  Spring madness rages on, and the list of things to weed, plant, water, wash, box, pack, and deliver grows ever longer.  Saturday Farmer's Market was a great success!  Our booth was slammed by customers and people who ordered our weekly CSA boxes, and the Market itself was packed with folks who were probably either tickled by college graduation celebrations, or buying products to make a splendid Mother's Day meal on Sunday.  We sold out on lots of stuff.  People were hungry for our spring radishes, asparagus, and rhubarb especially, but everything else was literally flying off the table as well.  What we came home with in the market van was considerably smaller compared to what we left the farm with!  (Plus now we have a whole lot more room for stuff in our walk-in cooler!)

Pulling out our biggest and freshest pac choi heads has left a trail behind in our greenhouse beds to fit in our first newly transplanted tomato and basil starts, inter-planted with sprouting zucchini!  We have those tasties to look forward to in a couple months.  We still have a lot more room to make for seedlings to get in the ground: more tomatoes and basil, peppers, eggplants and onions!  Meanwhile, our beets have really swelled and spread out their leaves...peas have put out their first blossoms...new spinach and kale has grown to harvest size, and more lettuces and kale varieties are on the way.  We also spent until late Thursday finally getting our broccoli starts into the fields!  Then an accidental hose-break and the consequential flood gave them plenty of water...uh-oh!  Accidents happen.  But hey, they won't be thirsty for a while!

Our resident pigs been really having a go at their assigned farming task that they do best: weeding!  After which, they promptly eat the spoils.  Their pens are moved every week so they get more weeds to root out (particularly that pesky thistle!) but we're quickly realizing that they need more space to weed for the duration of the week.  The last time they were moved, we found the entire pen weeded (I should actually say it looked tilled and tractor-ed) by morning!  They are really doing a fantastic job, and hopefully that field will be a whole lot more manageable next year.  Those little folks have really grown too: Will estimates them to be at about 80 lbs.

Our barn kitties are also growing in size, and opening their eyes.  In a week perhaps they will be wandering around, distracting us from farm work.  Two boys, one all black, one a (probably longhair) tabby, and three girls, two all black and one tabby.  (For reference, look at our farm photos to see Survivor, our tabby from the previous litter.)  Hey, want a kitty?  In six months they will be take-home-able well-trained mousers (Mama Macy is a very good teacher), and if they are anything like their older sister Survivor, will be very people friendly and cuddly.  We plan on keeping one of the black ones to further propagate the farm's witchy-cat tradition, and two of them may already be spoken for...so that leaves a couple kittens left for the pickin'.  (Of course, you gotta wait for them to grow up.)

That is all I can recollect concerning the latest and greatest.  Hope to see you soon at one of these markets!

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Please tell us if you can't identify something on the market table, don't know what to do with a particular item, have a food allergy we should know about, or if you have other questions or comments. We love to hear from you!


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Just A Healthy Reminder

We want to remind you all that if you are signed up for Summer CSA and are planning on picking up your CSA boxes from us at IC Farmer's Market, we will not have your first box ready for you until the first week of June!  This Saturday is our first real downtown Iowa City Farmer's Market!  Yesterday's first Wednesday Market went really well and we got to see a lot of old faces.  Even though our big CSA season won't be starting 'til June we encourage you to come visit us at our booth Saturday!

If you simply can't wait for your first Summer CSA box...well, Spring CSA ain't over yet!  Contact Derek Roller for a box and you can pick it up at this upcoming Farmer's Market.  20$ Couple, 30$ Family.  There are other drop-off sites available as well.  Just get in touch with us!

Hope to see ya at Market!