Heat of Summer!

8:36 PM Adrian 0 Comments

Hello everyone.  The real-deal summer is finally here!  Now we are starting to see our days become shorter and shorter, if only by a few minutes.  Our cool crops will soon fade away, making way for our hotter ones.  FarmHack was a great success!  We hope those that attended enjoyed it, as they all seemed to do. We had a storm that night, but that did not deter our campers!  In fact, the weather in general has been pretty good to us.  We got quite the dumping of rain on us Sunday morning!  At least an inch.  The soil in some places is still wet, and it's been nice to get the watering break, while seeing all our broccoli and kale flourish!

Our head lettuces may be almost all gone, but the zucchinis are just popping right off the vine!  This past week has also seen our first sizable harvest of Sungold cherry tomatoes.  We've been selling both to the restaurants and co-ops this week.  Sungolds won't make it into the CSA shares yet, but the zucchinis will, along with our Yellow Zephyr squashes.  Basil has been picked in plenty, and CSA'ers will be seeing that too!  We've still got some braising and salad mixes to boast, one last harvest of beets and turnips, and this week will feature pea tendrils (or shoots) again.  What to look forward to in the coming weeks with the arrival of hot weather: several hundred pepper transplants have been plugged in, some of which are flowering and bearing fruit already.  Eggplants have been freshly transplanted into our greenhouse, with more on the way into the ground.  Cucumbers have been direct seeded and will sprout soon.  Our green bean plants are looking huge!  We'll expect beans to bear in about a week.

This week also signifies the start of our great garlic pull!  Several of us have been out in the field already pulling up plant after plant.  It's a bit early this year, but so it goes.  Though it looks like garlic problems have been rumored and rampant throughout Iowa, the cloves we've been pulling up are big and gorgeous, for the most part.  No problems here!  We've taken on a lot of extra people for the garlic endeavor so we can get all our stuff into the barn and cleaned for sale as quick as possible, ideally by the end of summer.  Thank yous so far for the garlic pull go to: Colin, Charlies, Dominic, Claire, Jesse, Lucas (our intern), Matt, and Chimo.  Over a ton of garlic has been pulled, cleaned, chopped, and hauled into the barn to be crated for curing.  Wow!  Which reminds me: The weekend of July 7th is our big garlic party!  I know, in the last newsletter I said it was a weekend earlier, but the date changed!!!  Come out with your tent, gloves, maybe some good food and some laid back garlic work where you'll get to meet other like-minded folks interested in sustainable, local agriculture!

Well, that's all the farm news we got for now.  Hope you're ready: CSA is switching gears for the heat of the summer!  Hope to see you at market, and taste a little of the summer!

In this week's box:
  • Braising mix
  • Salad mix
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow Zephyr Squash
  • Beets
  • Turnips
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Mint
  • Basil
  • Pea Tendrils

Recipes

Crunchy Zucchini Rounds with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese (www.health.com)

Ingredients
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1/4 teaspoonsalt
  • 1/4 teaspoonfreshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ouncessun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil (about 24)
  • 3 ouncesgoat cheese
  • 2 tablespoonschopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoonsextra-virgin olive oil

Preparation

1. Slice zucchini into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. (You should have about 24 slices.) Lay out on large platter; season with salt and pepper.
2. Place a sun-dried tomato on each slice, then top each tomato with a pinch of goat cheese. Sprinkle tops with chopped chives, and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil; serve.
 
Orange and Avocado Salad with Pea Tendrils (goodcheapeats.com)

Ingredients
  • 2 handfuls mixed greens, including a generous portion of pea tendrils, coarsely chopped
  • 1 orange, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons Tarragon Balsamic Dressing or other favorite dressing
Instructions
 
Layer the ingredients on a dinner plate in the order listed.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 1

Beet Ravioli Stuffed with Ricotta, Goat Cheese and Mint (www.marthastewart.com_

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese (about 6 ounces), drained 30 minutes
  • 3/4 cup fresh goat cheese (about 5 ounces), room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint, plus small sprigs for garnish
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 recipe Fresh Beet Pasta Dough (click link for recipe!)
  • Semolina flour or fine cornmeal, for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions

  1. Make the filling: Stir together cheeses and herbs; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Make the ravioli: Dust a baking sheet with semolina or cornmeal. Work with each sheet of dough just after it's been rolled. Cut sheet in half crosswise, and trim each half to a 3-inch-wide strip. Space tablespoons of filling 3 1/2 inches apart along center of 1 strip. Top with remaining strip, and gently press around filling to seal, working from center out. Using a fluted pastry cutter, cut into 3-inch squares. Transfer ravioli to sheet, and cover with a kitchen towel. Repeat with remaining pasta dough and filling. (To store, lightly dust ravioli with semolina, and refrigerate between layers of parchment in an airtight container for up to 4 hours. Alternatively, freeze ravioli in a single layer on a baking sheet, about 15 minutes, and then pack as described above; freeze for up to 1 month. Do not thaw before cooking.)
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add salt and half of the ravioli. Cook, stirring occasionally to separate, until edges are just tender, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander to drain. Drizzle with oil, and toss gently to coat. Transfer to a bowl, and loosely cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining ravioli.
  4. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, about 4 minutes.
  5. Divide ravioli among plates (if first batch has cooled, return them to hot water for 15 seconds, then drain). Spoon brown butter over ravioli. Serve immediately garnished with mint.
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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!


 

0 comments:

FarmHack and Upcoming 1st Garlic Party

5:41 PM Adrian 0 Comments

Hello folks!  Yet another productive week out here at the Echollective.  A couple days of nourishing rain have put our crops where they need to be.  Garlic will soon be pulled and last weekend's rain gave our bulbs just enough water for the home-stretch.  Yep that's right everyone...the weekend after next (June 30th-July 1st) ushers in the first Echollective garlic party!!!  Everyone's invited.  Come out and join us!  Garlic will be pulled by all and then cleaned right there in the field.  It is relaxing, laid back work.  And boy, we are glad that we've been running around putting sprinklers on all our mulched garlic beds, because it seems that a lot of garlic farmers in Iowa are experiencing some bizarre garlic behavior...wrinkly, lumpy bulbs!  Fortunately we haven't seen much of this in our bulbs, only barely a touch of it here and there.  We think this must be due to the intense dryness in between these rains, warping garlic cloves into strange shapes.  It sure was a hassle to get our garlic a drink of water, but we think it will pay off....in fact we may, as a result, have some of the best garlic around in Iowa!

The watering hustle has paid off for our other crops, too.  Our broccoli is simply huge now!  Their leaves form a cooling canopy for their beds.  Their stems are certainly thick enough that we'll be expecting crowns anytime soon.  In the hot, hot heat, however, sometimes broccoli flowers get kinda wonky and gross, so we'll see.  At least we've planted another plot of broccoli not too far behind our other one, full of Gypsy broccoli, a hot variety that is famed for enduring the sun's intensity a lot better.  We hope for good crowns from those, and those broccoli transplants are coming along quite well.  And if all else fails, well....broccoli leaves are pretty tasty and beautiful in a braising mix!  Broccoli in any form is incredibly healthy for you, full of vitamins, iron, and antioxidants.

We have new produce on the way, while some of our current vegetables are on their way to kicking the bucket....either they're flowering or simply cannot pump out more veggies.  This is the reality of things as the heat of summer starts to turn the thermostat up a notch.  Sugar snap peas are about done with what they can produce, and we are reaching the tail end of some of our tasty salad mix constituents like bok choy and mizuna (japanese mustard).  Arugula has long since flowered.  No more spinach!  Although we were able to procure a few bunches at market this past weekend.  Our kale though, even the remnants of our winter varieties, continue to grow bigger and bigger.  Our new hot crops are kicking in...we picked our first few zucchinis yesterday!  We are pleased with the size and health of our current squash plants, they are really pumping out flowers and there are quite a few little zukes on the way.  Along with those were our first Sun Gold cherry tomato harvests.  We managed to get a few pints!  Mmmm, they are juicy and sweet, it is pretty hard not to eat them as you pick them.  As you may know, we are now picking bunches from our already robust basil plants!  You probably received a bunch or two in your CSA.  More bunches will be on the table this week.  We have plans to get ground prepared today for more basil starts, which will be inter-planted with our first cucumber crop, the seeds of which were just sown today.  Last but not least, our potato plants are at the point that we will be pulling up our first harvest of New Orleans red fingerlings in just a couple weeks!  Our farm seems at its most bountiful.

Aside from the typical green vegetables, work is being done today to set up a mushroom fruiting shed by our mushroom farmer Will and a handful of others.  Colonized mushroom bags will be hung in a high-tunnel/hoop-house structure covered with white tarping to minimalize the effects of light and heat, and to trap moisture pivotal for the fungus to fruit, or send out mushrooms.  Soon we will have oyster mushrooms by the pound growing right here at Echollective.  Come check it out sometime, or feel free to contact us to stand in on an inoculation, the process by which mushrooms are "planted" and "grown."  Will has the hopes of providing affordable workshops someday, which we will let you know about, if and when they happen.  It is fascinating, informative and fun!

FarmHack IOWA after-party will be held here on the property tomorrow, June 20th!  Be there or be square.  New Belgium beer will flow!  A delicious farm dinner, featuring Echollective produce will be prepared on-site.  Awesome electric tractors, biodiesel farm vehicles, and other machinery will be shown off by their respective owners.  And when the sun goes down, mother nature's light show...the fireflies out here are pretty breathtaking.

Hope you have all had an excellent week.  See you all at market!

CSA Box this week:
  • Braising Mix
  • Salad Mix
  • Beets
  • Turnips
  • Nettles
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Mint
  • Bok Choy
  • Head Lettuce
  • Basil

Recipes

Lemon Basil Shrimp and Pasta (www.myrecipes.com)

Ingredients
  • 3 quarts water
  • 8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons drained capers
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups baby spinach
 Preparation
  1. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add pasta; cook 8 minutes. Add shrimp to pan; cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are done and pasta is al dente. Drain. Place pasta mixture in a large bowl. Stir in basil and next 4 ingredients (through salt). Place 1/2 cup spinach on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 1/2 cups pasta mixture.

Red Curry Bison Short Ribs with Baby Bok Choy (www.eatingwell.com)

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2-2 teaspoons red curry paste, (see Note), or more to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 1/8-inch-thick slices peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro stems plus 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves, divided
  • 6 scallions, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 3 pounds bone-in bison short ribs, or 2 pounds boneless (see Note), trimmed
  • 2 cups thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce, (see Note)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, or more to taste
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup “lite” coconut milk, (optional)
  • 6 baby bok choy, cut in half, or 3 regular bok choy, cut into quarters
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preparation
  1. Place curry paste to taste, garlic, ginger, cilantro stems, scallions and water in a blender or food processor. Blend or process to form a loose paste. Add more water if the mixture is too dense to blend.
  2. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add ribs and brown on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes total. Stir in the curry mixture, onion, broth, fish sauce and 2 tablespoons lime juice. Bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook, turning the ribs every 30 minutes, until the meat is very tender when pierced with a fork, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
  3. Transfer the ribs to a plate; cover and keep warm. Add tomatoes and coconut milk (if using) to the broth; bring to a simmer. Add bok choy; cover and cook until the bok choy bases can be pierced with a fork, 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size. Season with pepper and more lime juice, if desired. Serve topped with cilantro leaves.
Creamed Turnips (www.simplyrecipes.com)

Ingredients
  • 3 pounds turnips
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Preparation

1 Peel and cut the turnips into large chunks. In a large saucepan of boiling water, add the tablespoon of salt, the peppercorns, cloves and bay leaves. You may want to tie the spices into a sachet or cheesecloth bag — this makes it easier to remove them later. Boil turnips until tender, 15 to 20 minutes, then drain and remove the spices.
2 Return the turnips to the pot they boiled in and add the cream. Turn the burner to medium-low. Bring this to a gentle simmer and mash the turnips with a potato masher. Add the white pepper, the teaspoon of salt and freshly grated nutmeg to taste and serve at once.

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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!

 

0 comments:

Garlic Scape Surplus!

9:18 PM Adrian 0 Comments

Greetings folks!  Seems like the beginning of summer sure has had its ups and downs already.  It's as if it can't decide whether to completely do away with all the cool spring dusk and dawn, those chill nights where the windows must be closed, or to flip the heat switch all the way to the extreme.  We've experienced hot, grueling days out there in the fields, and finding ourselves wearing sweaters once the sun is down!  Quite strange, but I have to say, pretty refreshing.  Today's high up in the 70's was a perfect work day!  Sunny and warm, but not too much to the point of drying you out...with a few cool refreshing breezes here and there.

This week we see the continuation of mass scape and spring pea-pickin'.  Our walk-in cooler is filling up with big boxes of these tasty garlic flowers!  We've picked another huge round of our sugar snaps and if another rain permits, we may get yet another phase of sugar snaps for our CSA members and at Farmer's Market table.  We've sold a few to restaurants here and there today.  But our farm is literally overflowing with scapes!  Large batches of home-made scape pesto still haven't made much of a dent in them.  CSA members, Farmer's Market, Co-op and restaurants are all buying them, but we still rake them in by the loads every day (thanks to our diligent scape pickers these past couple weeks: Louie, Devika, Jesse, Blake, and Randall, and member of the River City Housing Collective...thanks guys!).  We are also happy to announce our selling of them through the Iowa Valley Food Co-op!  We haven't been able to sell much stuff through them, as much as we like to...the trick with them is knowing how much produce you will have two weeks in advance (which is difficult!)  And hey, we've got way more than enough scapes and we'll still be sitting in mountains of them come two weeks!  If you'd like to get your hands on large amounts of our garlic scapes to get your winter's worth of pesto batches going, order them online at www.iowavalleyfood.com!  We are also happy to be featuring farmer Will's delicious oyster mushrooms for sale through the co-op as well, don't forget to get your hands on some of those sometime!

As the hot weather has become more dominant, this will see the last of our lettuces, salad mixes, bok choy and spinach pretty soon...but don't worry, we've still got a few weeks!   Our asparagus plants have already given us as many spears as they have been able to this season and we are letting them retire and go to flower.  We will soon usher in our hot crops!  Our basil is growing fast, and our zucchini plants have put out their first flowers.  I can already see the green swellings at the base of some of their petals, the sign of ripe zucchinis to come.  Our peppers have also begun to flower, and tomatoes have already put out their fruits.  In time our first sun-gold cherry tomatoes will be ripening.  Our first round of beans have poked up a couple inches from the ground and seem to thrive in the heat!  We have still been pulling up a lot of our root crops,  turnips and beets, though it seems we are at the end of our delicious radishes.  Some of our turnips we've pulled up are enormous!  Potatoes are coming along, getting bigger as we keep the weeds and thistle at bay.  Our newly transplanted broccoli is doing well and our older plantings of broccoli have gotten very big, fanning out their huge green leaves.  We'll see how their crowns turn out this year.  Kale seems to be doing real well too, we've been getting plenty for our braising mixes.  That splash of purple from our redbor kale really does the trick to make our cooking greens look beautifully appetizing.

Thanks to our Echollective mechanic Michael Webb, we finally have a reliable watering system again!  Don't know if this was talked about in the last newsletter, but one of our underground waterlines blew a seam or something to that extent.  The driveway became flooded and we had to switch up our whole watering system, quite a complicated and painstaking task, actually.  Mike swooped in once to fix it and all seemed well for a day or two, when suddenly the hole that was dug to reach the broken (but now supposedly fixed) pipe started to overflow with well water and head straight towards the house!  Once again, our water system had to be switched up again.  A bit of a pain in our butts, yes, and a bit of a hazard to some of our crops.  A very few crops didn't make the water switch simply due to lack of time as a consequence, we just couldn't get around to saving them.  But for the most part, everything is doing well, and our waterline has officially been fixed (for real!) and our watering routine and our lives are back to normal.

 Macy's five kittens are getting bigger by the day, and they really are making quite the ruckus!  Jumping on boxes, climbing up shelves, attacking each other and their mom.  Their older sister, Survivor (named because she was the only survivor of her litter) really can't stand their antics...maybe it's the only child syndrome and she really can't accept the idea of siblings.  Which is why we extend an invitation to anyone who would like to take home a kitten in just a few weeks?  We have three that we would like to give away, we don't know if we can handle a barn full of cats, however cute they may be!  A couple will be sticking around here to keep tabs on the mice...but we think at least three cats is quite enough.

Well, that's the most we have in what's new out here at the Echollective.  We just keep chugging along!  Hope to see you soon!

 On the table this week:


  • Braising Mix
  • Salad Mix
  • Turnips
  • Nettles
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Mint
  • Head Lettuce
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Pea Tendrils (pea shoots)

Recipes

Sesame Pea-Shoot Salad Recipe (www.epicurious.com)
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • 1/2 cup snow peas
  • 1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen green peas
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Asian (toasted) sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted lightly
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 6 cups pea shoots, washed well and spun dry
In a kettle of boiling salted water cook sugar snap peas 2 minutes. Add snow and green peas and cook 1 minute. Drain peas in a colander and rinse in cold water. Pat dry on paper towels.
In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, oil, sesame seeds, sugar, and soy sauce until sugar is dissolved.
In a bowl toss pea shoots and peas with dressing.

 
Rudy's Garlic Scape Pesto Recipe (allrecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 6 garlic scapes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Place the garlic scapes, Parmesan cheese, Asiago cheese, lemon juice, and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor. Drizzle the olive oil over the mixture. Blend until the pesto is a brilliant green color and smooth in texture. Season with salt and pepper.
 
Nettle Frittata (www.mariquita.com)
 by Mark Gordon of Terzo in SF

Yield: 6 portions

  • ½ # Cleaned Nettle Tops 
  • 4 Tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Garlic Clove, Chopped
  • 6 lg Organic Eggs
  • ¼ C Heavy Cream
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste

Preheat oven to 300º.Cook 1/3rd of the nettles in one tablespoon of the olive oil in a non-stick pan. Cook until tender adding a small amount of water if needed. Repeat this 2 more times adding the garlic on the third batch. Place all of the cooked nettles on a cutting board and chop finely. Place the nettles in a bowl of a food processor with the eggs, salt, pepper and process until the nettles are incorporated into the eggs. Add the cream and process for 10 seconds. Heat the non-stick pan on medium with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the nettle mixture and with a rubber spatula move the eggs around to get the entire mixture warm. Place into the oven and cook for about 12 minutes. Let cool for 3 minutes then turn the frittata out onto a plate and cut.

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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!
 
 

0 comments:

FarmHack IOWA and IRenew

8:28 PM Adrian 0 Comments

Hi everyone! 

We're doing rather well out here, what with all the recent rain!  Hopefully it keeps coming.  We have less watering work to do, and less worry about keeping our plants alive.  Good news for both you and ourselves!  We've also had the chance to transplant more plants into the ground.  What better time to do it than when mother nature takes care of the rest.  I had the opportunity to have my mom come out and visit and do some farm work!  We transplanted a good deal of broccoli together, and quite conveniently, the sky opened up for some rain right afterward to give it a good watering!  It was great to see her and have the help.  We've also put in more kale, winterbor and lacinato (dinosaur) varieties, as well as plenty of onions!  We have all that to look forward to.

A couple notable events coming up:  

FarmHack IOWA is holding an event Wednesday, June 20th involving creative D.I.Y. strategies for small farmers with low resources.  Electric tractors, farmer-built machinery, WVO/biodiesel, micro-wind, micro-hydro, wood gas/producer gas fuels, and out-of-the-box farmer hacks will be among the event's topics.  The post-event social will be hosted out here at Echollective!  New Belgium brewery will be sponsoring with much beer...we think it'll be a good time!  Check it out at their website: http://www.farmhack.net/forums/farm-hackiowa-schedule-events.

The UrbFarm stand will be at the Iowa Renewable Energy Exposition!  Run by Derek Roller, tasty food featuring a lot of produce from Echollective!  For more info on the event: www.irenew.org/expo.html.

Sun Gold tomatoes are tall enough that we have already trellised them, and some are bearing their first fruits!  Cherry tomatoes on the way.  We have more garlic scapes than we know what to do with!  You'll be getting those at CSA and you can always buy more at our Farmer's Market stands, we have bushels upon bushels of them.  Not familiar with garlic scapes?  Well, scapes are just another name for the garlic's flower, which it sends up in late spring.  For garlic to flower, it must redirect its energy from rooting and bulbing up to its uppermost leaves.  We don't want that!  So we pick off the flowers so the plant redirects its energy back into the bulb, producing the best garlic bulbs possible.  I know, it seems a little cruel to ruin a plant's chance of getting some bee action and pollination, but truth be told, garlic flowers are sterile!  So sending energy to the flower would all be a waste anyway.  We'll include some tasty scape recipes in this newsletter!  The interesting thing about scapes is you don't cook them, like garlic bulbs...you eat them raw.  Heat destroys their consistency and flavor.  So we'll include a raw recipe for you, as well as one that involves some mild baking!

Your CSA box will also feature some lavender blossoms.  Lavender can be cooked with, and also has many beneficial medicinal effects...it is a cleansing astringent, great for skin and hair, with a soothing effect on the nerves...and a wonderful smell, of course!

Another interesting pick we had this week were pea shoots, or tendrils!  We have the honor of providing produce to the Lincoln Cafe in Mt. Vernon, and these were featured in their order today (by they way I recommend eating at Lincoln Cafe, I've eaten there!  I bit pricy but most of their meals are local and organically sourced, and totally delicious).  The top four or five inches of a maturing pea plant, along with its tiny little feelers it sends out in order to climb and latch, are tender and tasty...and may I add, quite beautiful.

We also had the first on-the-farm oyster mushroom inoculation last night, which typically happens over at our sister farm, Dirty Face Creek Farm.  Oh yes, we did it in the dark!  With the aid of car headlights and a cheap-o headlamp purchased at Paul's, as well as the blinking lights of several thousand fireflies!  They are really going crazy at this time of year.  It looks like flash photography our in our fields.  We first pasteurized  switch-grass straw on which the mushrooms will grow in a food-safe stainless steel barrel, in order to stifle any chance of competing fungi to get a hold and possibly lessen the chances of a good mushroom flush.  Then we mix the oat-grain mushroom spawn (basically the "root" system of the fungus growing throughout the mushroom grains) throughout the straw when it finally cools.  We then pack the straw tightly into food-safe plastic poly-tubes, and they end up kind of looking like straw sausages!  Holes are poked in them through which the mushroom can fruit out and express themselves, and then be picked....but we must wait a week for the grain spawn to spread throughout the straw in the bag and become fully formed again.  The bags are usually hung up in a cool, dark, humid place.

This past weekend we also received a visit from a prospective intern, Lucas, who graduated from Drake University in Des Moines.  He has farmed out in Palestine and plans to do PeaceCorps work out in Senegal, Africa, where he will be doing farming as well.  We all liked him and he seemed very capable and interested in farm work, which is always good, and we really liked his work ethic.  He plans to return and commit to a two-month internship to prepare him for his time in Africa.  We look forward to his help and time here.

Produce tip of the week: What do you do with all this salad mix you get in your CSA box?  What if you don't want to eat it immediately?  How do you make it last while keeping it good?  Well, here's a tip.  Take a paper towel, fold it up and place it inside your salad mix bag!  Lettuces and other leafy veggies in your salad tend to go bad due to excess moisture.  The paper towel will suck that right up.  On the other hand, if somehow your salad mix seems like it's somehow drying up, adding a moist paper towel to your salad bag will help it crisp up.

Thank you for your support and membership.  We hope you have been enjoying CSA so far...and we hope to see you soon!

What to expect this week:
  • Braising Mix
  • Salad Mix
  • Spinach (bag)
  • Beets
  • Turnips
  • Nettles
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Pac Choi (head)
  • Radishes
  • Head Lettuce
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Lavender 

Recipes
  
Garlic Scape Tart (www.seriouseats.com)

Ingredients

  • For the Crust
  • 1 cup teff flour
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

  • For the Filling
  • 1 cup thinly sliced garlic scapes (from 15 to 20 scapes with bud ends removed)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup good quality fresh ricotta cheese (bought or homemade)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon thyme plus 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Procedures

  1. Place the flours and the salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle four tablespoons of the ice water onto the dough. Pulse until the dough begins to hold together. Add the additional tablespoon of water and continue to pulse if the dough is otherwise too dry to hold together. Turn the dough out onto a piece of waxed paper and shape into a disc by pressing quickly and firmly with your hands, repairing any cracks as you go. Wrap the dough in the waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Roll out the dough into a 12-inch-diameter circle about 1/4-inch thick. Press into the bottom and sides of a fluted 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll your rolling pin over the top of the pan to remove any excess dough. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork, then line the dough with parchment paper and fill with dried beans. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the parchment and beans and bake for 7 minutes more.

  3. While the dough bakes, make the filling. Place the scapes, eggs, ricotta, lemon thyme, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Beat with a fork until well combined. Pour the filling into the partially baked tart shell and return the whole thing to the oven for 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Cool to warm or room temperature before slicing and serving.


Garlic Scape Hummus (umamigirl.com)

  • 2 15.5-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 6 garlic scapes, thinly sliced
  • Juice and zest of 1 1/2 lemons
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika

Combine all ingredients in a blender, with the liquids on the bottom. Blend until completely smooth. (Note: My blender is industrial – I keep it next to my World’s Biggest Geek apron – so I hope this works in a regular blender. If you make it, let me know!)


Lavender Aioli  (www.herbcompanion.com)

Note: Aioli is a sauce typically served on top of cooked fish, such as cod, or with cooked vegetables, or in fish soup.  To use as a delicate sauce for summer vegetables, thin with 1 to 2 additional tablespoons lemon juice.

• 1 cup olive oil
• 6 cloves garlic, unpeeled and crushed
• 2 fresh lavender sprigs (leaves and flowers) bruised
• 3 eggs
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1. In a small saucepan, gently heat the oil with the garlic and lavender over low heat for about 15 minutes.
2. Remove from heat just before oil starts to bubble. Allow to cool to room temperature.
3. With a sieve over a small bowl, strain the lavender oil, pressing with a spoon to extract soft solids from the garlic and lavender. Discard herbs.
4. In a food processor or blender, process the eggs and lemon juice until well blended. With the motor running, add the lavender oil a few drops at a time, then in a thin, steady stream until all the oil is absorbed and the mixture has thickened.
5. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
6. Refrigerate for up to 2 days or use immediately. Aioli thickens on chilling.

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