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)
- Garlic Scapes
- Pac Choi (head)
- Head Lettuce
- Sugar Snap Peas
Garlic Scape Tart (www.seriouseats.com)
- 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
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.
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.
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.