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)
- Head Lettuce
- Sugar Snap Peas
- Garlic Scapes
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'
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with a piece of aluminum foil and lightly grease.
- 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.
- Bake in preheated oven until the outside is crispy, and the inside is tender, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
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!