Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Dawning of the Age of Asparagus

Spring is seriously here....our asparagus is up, and it's enormous!  Last year's patches we planted are producing wonderfully...and a LOT.  Today was our first day picking it by the crate-ful.  Also, it appears that the moon is rising in the 7th house and Jupiter aligned with Mars.  Just kidding....we are not a biodynamic farm.  (Sure hope somebody gets that joke.)

An important update to everyone involved in Spring CSA and the soon-to-come Summer CSA!!!  CSA distribution days have been changed!  At least a little bit.  Wednesday and Saturday pick-ups at the Iowa City Farmer's Market remain unchanged.  Friday at Tim's/Kirkwood School for Children pickup has been moved to Thursday from 5 PM onward.  We have a new pickup available for Cedar Rapids New Bo Market on Saturday for you CR folks, if you need it....time to be announced.

Please contact us A.S.A.P. if you must hence change your pickup, or have a question or problem!  Thanks!!!

 
 
What to look forward to this week!:

  • Sprouts
  • Kale
  • Bunched Spinach
  • Salad Mix
  • Arugula
  • Asparagus
  • Garlic
  • Turnips

Yup....Spring greens and asparagus are on the menu!


In Echollective news, we have been hard at work and finally sweating now that the weather has decided to warm up!  The trees are at last greening and our first spring flowers and plants have popped up....dandelions, violets and stinging nettles to name your typical garden early-risers, not to mention our beautiful Iowa natives such as Purple Prairie Trillium, Troutlily, Hepatica, Dutchman's Breetches, Bloodroot, and Mayapples, just to boast a few.  Our first rounds of broccoli, kale, and lettuce have been transplanted out into the field!  Seeds we sowed weeks ago are starting to pop up, especially our sugar snap peas!  We are going to have a lot this year.

This week will be our first week of summer markets and we are excited and thrilled to be back at the stand again.  We plan on having a whole variety of spring greens ready for the eating!  Hope to see you there!


Recipes

Bacon-wrapped Asparagus Bundles (Rachael Ray, www.foodnetwork.com)

These bundles can be easily prepared on an outdoor grill or in a hot oven.
 
Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds asparagus spears, trimmed 4 to 5 inches long tips
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • A few grinds black pepper
  • 4 slices center cut bacon or pancetta
  • Chopped chives or scallions, optional garnish

Directions

Preheat oven, if using, to 400 degrees F.

Lightly coat asparagus spears in extra-virgin olive oil. Season the asparagus with black pepper. Take a quick count of the spear tips. Divide the total number by four. Gather that number of spears and use a slice of bacon to wrap the bundle and secure the spears together. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

To grill, place bundles on hot grill and cover. Cook 10 to 12 minutes until bacon is crisp and asparagus bundles are tender.

For oven preparation, place bundles on slotted broiler pan. Bake 12 minutes.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/bacon-wrapped-asparagus-bundles-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback
 
 
Strawberry-Arugula Salad with Lemon Ricotta (Faith Durand, www.thekitchn.com)
(Serves 8-10)

  • 4 pints strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced into quarters 
  • 1 pint raspberries, washed and blotted dry
  • 1-2 cups sliced almonds
  • 1 small bunch baby arugula, sliced into thin ribbons
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh, drained ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Toss the strawberries, raspberries, almonds, and sliced arugula with a pinch of kosher salt and the zest of 1 lemon.

For the dressing:
In a separate bowl, mix the lemon juice and remaining lemon zest with the ricotta, sugar, and nutmeg. Taste and sweeten to taste, if necessary.
Serve the salad with the dressing on the side.


*********************
 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, April 25, 2013

Onions, Onions, Onions

Greetings Echollective followers!

Still pulling ourselves out of this post-monsoon sludge.  But it appears we have still been able to stay on top of things!

For those of you in the Spring 2013 CSA: we have some important updates!  CSA Pickups are changing next week as the Iowa City Farmer's Market begins downtown and becomes our new main pickup spot.  We need to know from all of you where and when works best for you to switch your pickups to.  Options are: 


-Saturdays, 7:30 AM-12:00 PM at the Iowa City Farmers' Market
-Wednesdays, 5:00 PM-7:00 PM at same above location
-Fridays, Around/After 5:30 PM at KirkwoodSchool for Children/Tim's Daycare

If you are a Spring CSA member please contact us A.S.A.P. (preferably before next Wednesday!) concerning which new pickup would work best for you.  We will no longer be having pick-ups at the Ginter house on Ginter Ave. in Iowa City.

Also, as a side note to all of you: We would like to improve/streamline our communication methods (especially between us farmers and you CSA members).  We would love to receive feedback on farm-to-member communication.  Which venue of communication works best for you?  Email?  Phone?  Facebook?  This Newsletter?  Have suggestions?  Please let us know in an email!

And without further ado....a CSA preview! 

 
-Garlic
-Salad Mix (new this week!!)
-Kale*
-Spinach*
-Turnips (Purple Top)
-Sprouts
-And possibly more!
 
*Due to weather complications, exaggerated wetness, and hence some pretty unwanted plant diseases, the quality (appearance-wise) is slightly compromised, while still tasting great.  There is some spottiness on our kales and spinaches.  We have talked with many of you and this does not appear to be a problem, but if we haven't talked to you and you may take an issue, please contact us A.S.A.P.!
 

Now that the rain has at least slowed down and the muck and mire has finally gone away.....we can finally actually do things outside!  We took advantage of the few nicer days here and there to get stuff done, and quickly get some plants in the ground.  What did we get in the ground?  Well....leeks.  Onions.  Asparagus.  More onions.  Potatoes.  Onions.  Onions.  Onions onions onions!

And today...we planted more onions.  Some of us have nothing but dreams about planting (and sometimes planting and eating them simultaneously) onions.  The onion planting is never-ending, but there's nothing like a nice reassuring rain at the end of the day to water them in.  Boy, watering has not been a worry at all so far this season!  Phew!  Last year, we missed the boat on our onion-planting and it was a real shame due to the drought, but not this year!  You will be getting leeks!  And onions!  And hey, onions are high in magnesium, a nutrient that most Americans don't get a whole lot of in their diet, surprisingly.
 
Also, shallots will be planted soon.  Basically, they are small onions.  Onion fever is not over.
 
Radishes, arugula, and bok choy are all getting big...and ready to eat soon!

Garlic's first greens are popping up in our mulched fields!  It appears as if all varieties seem to be doing something at least, although some are more behind than others.  We were a bit worried about them getting drowned in all this rain or nipped by the spotty frosts, but they seem to be doing ok....a little yellowed, but ok!  Speaking of, we still have heirloom garlic varieties available for sale at the New Pi Co-ops in individual baggies.  You can still get our Ukrainian, German, Korean, and Bogatyr varieties in plenty.  For more information on our garlic breeds, check out the column to the left and read our Echollective Garlic Varieties page!
 
This year's Echo piggies are settling in well....a little shaky from the cold and storms, but we have had plenty of delicious compost and veggie scraps to feed them.  Today they dined on a large dumping of kale leaves that have been tainted by sickness....they loved the stuff!  They have all been laying in a big pile in the hay on these sunny days, basking in the warmth of spring!

As our pick-up changes above bode, we will be at the Iowa City Farmer's Market next week.  Hope to see you there!


Recipes
 
Kale and Pink Grapefruit Salad (www.bonappetit.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 pink grapefruit
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 cups thinly sliced kale (center ribs and stems removed)
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, sliced into 1/2-inch wedges

Preparation

  • Using a sharp knife, cut peel and white pith from grapefruit; discard. Working over a small bowl, cut between membranes to release segments into bowl. Squeeze juice from membranes into another small bowl; add any accumulated juices from bowl with segments (there should be about 1/4 cup juice total). Whisk oil into juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Place kale in a large bowl and drizzle 3 Tbsp. dressing over. Toss to combine and let stand for 10 minutes while kale wilts slightly. Toss once more, then arrange grapefruit segments and avocado slices over kale. Drizzle with remaining dressing and serve.
The Best Baked Spinach Au-Gratin (www.smittenkitchen.com)

Serves 6
  • 3 pounds fresh spinach3 1/2 to 4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup stock (your choice; Julia recommends beef) or cream (I used stock; it doesn’t *need* cream)
  • 3/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fine, dry breadcrumbs

-Stem and wash your spinach (see Tips below) well but no need to spin or pat it dry. Place spinach in a large pot over high heat. Cook, covered, with just the water clinging to leaves, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 2 to 4 minutes for baby spinach and 4 to 6 minutes for regular spinach. Transfer to a colander, immediately fill pot with cold water, transfer it back to the pot of cold water to shock it (stop the cooking) and drain again. Squeeze a small amount of the spinach at a time in your hands to extract as much water as possible. Chop the spinach coarsely. You should have about 3 cups of chopped spinach, or about 1 cup per pound.
-Wipe out pot then melt 2 tablespoons butter over moderately high heat and stir in the spinach. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until all of the moisture from the spinach has boiled off — you’ll know you’re done when the spinach begins to stick to the pan.
-Lower the heat and sprinkle with flour and stir for 2 minutes to cook the flour. Add 2/3 of your stock or cream, a tiny bit at a time, scraping up any stuck spinach as you do. Once the liquid is added, simmer for another minute or two, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. If you’re feeling especially indulgent, stir in one more tablespoon of butter. If needed, add all or part of remaining liquid. Season with salt (I found 1/2 teaspoon table salt about right) and pepper.
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a shallow 1-quart baking dish. Stir 1/2 cup cheese into the spinach and pour it into the baking dish. Mix the remaining cheese with breadcrumbs and sprinkle on spinach. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons remaining butter and pour it over the top. Bake until heated through and slightly brown on the top, about 30 minutes.
-Serve with steaks, chops, veal, chicken, broiled fish or, if you’re us, eggs, glorious eggs.

Do ahead: Spinach can be blanched and chopped several hours or a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Gratin can be fully assembled and 30 minutes before needed, placed in a preheated 375 degree oven to bake, then served.


*********************
 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!
 
 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spring Is Here (We Think)

....and it has been very, very wet.

Which, all in all, is a good thing.  The rains of the early almost pre-spring/late winter storms were nowhere near enough to break this endless drought, despite of how much actually fell! Most of it just ran off and flowed away down our rivers and creeks, to be taken by the Cedar and Iowa towards the Mississippi.  We all watched out our windows, wincing, as we saw all this much-needed water say "see ya later!" and wash away; and not into our parched aquifers, like we hoped it would.  But with this last round of storm after soppy storm and weather getting somewhat warmer and warmer, the ground has thawed and allowed much of this moisture to get soaked up!  Good news for our wells and watersheds.  It also looks like we'll be receiving even more replenishment in the next couple weeks to come.  What a wet April!

Reminiscing about last year, we find it all too ironic that this spring is exactly the opposite of the one before: it kick started early, around the end of February, and everything started blooming only for the drought and persistent frosts to shrivel up everything while we ran about like madmen to keep everything watered!  This year it seems like that's all getting contradicted.  We have been sneaking in plantings in between each downpour when we can, and then we have no choice but to watch them get soaked from inside.  A lot less hectic, but we've been itching to get outside and into the fields!  While our seeds and transplants are getting plenty of water to start, we are also worried about some of our most important crops, such as garlic and asparagus, hoping they don't get flooded or froze up in the coming late frosts.  We're a bit worried about our latest transplants of onions and leeks.  We have actually been making some attempts at slowing the growth of our asparagus down so they don't all get zapped by this late-coming freeze!

 One week of our Spring CSA 2013 came and went!  For those of you participating, we are excited to be getting you some early treats this year.  We hope you enjoyed your first box and all those goodies, because we are sad to inform you that not all of them will be appearing in your box next week!  We know: sad face. Especially bummed about the early spinach which we overwintered so well, this storm today just beat it up a ton with penny-sized hail so we need to let it grow some new leaves.  So this week's list will be a little bit different. 

No worries though!  We have seedlings in the fields and in our greenhouses that are growing strong and fast for future CSA boxes: radishes, choi, and arugula are in tiny-baby stage, lettuces are rooting and deepening their colors after this last transplant, and much more is in the works out in our fields.  Kales and asian greens are soaking up the rain in the fields as we speak (crossing our fingers they won't get overflooded!)  Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplants are getting big fast, we have already made their first transplants in to larger containers.  We ask you to bear with us through these early spring storms; while they hamper us quite a bit now with what we can plant and harvest, and are even damaging sometimes, in the long run these rains will be a huge help to the growth of our veggies and bring you a bigger helping in the near future!



In other news, our greenhouses/high tunnels are covered with brand new plastic and are serving us well, covering a large variety of our vegetables currently.  We're grateful that we don't need to worry about them much in their shelters, other than some minor floods here and there.

Our year's pigs have arrived!  Four of them, two all pink and two pink and black, one girl and three boys.  They're still a little spooked and uncomfortable with all the rain, but they've been cute as heck and sleeping in a big adorable pig-pile!  We have a sort of "Pig Naming" ceremony to come up for our Pork-Trade CSA members where we'll have a roast of last year's pork and think of names for this year's litter.  A "Piggening," if you will.



We look forward to seeing you Friday at Tim's Kirkwood School for Children, or at Derek's house on Ginter Ave. on Saturday for CSA pickup!  Be sure to bring a rain jacket, and maybe some slicks!





On your plate this week:
  • Garlic
  • Potatoes
  • Fingerling potatoes
  • Turnips (Purple Tops/Scarlet/Golden)
  • Sprouts (Arugula, Red Choi, Tat Soi, Sunflower, etc.)
  • Daikon Radishes
  • Black Spanish Radishes

Recipes

 Spicy Turnips (Masala Shalgam)  (www.syvum.com)

Serves: 4
Cooking time (approx.):  minutes
Style: North Indian Vegetarian (Punjabi)


  • 500  grams (about 20  oz.) turnips peeled chopped and washed
  • 2  large onion(s) chopped
  • 2  tomato(es) chopped
  • 1  teaspoon(s) each of grated garlic and ginger
  • 2  green chilli(es) chopped
  • 1  teaspoon(s) each of sugar, cumin powder and coriander powder
  • ½  teaspoon(s) turmeric powder
  • 1  cup(s) water
  • 2  tablespoons butter / oil
  • salt to taste
  • finely chopped coriander leaves to garnish.

  1. Heat the butter / oil in a pressure cooker till it is medium hot. Add the chopped green chilli(es), grated ginger and garlic. Fry briefly. Add the chopped onion(s) and saute on medium heat for 3  minute(s) or till the onions are lightly browned.
  2. Now, add the chopped tomato(es), salt, and the turmeric, cumin and coriander powders. Stir fry on medium / low heat for 3  minutes or till the fat leaves the sides of the cooker.
  3. Add the chopped turnips and mix. Add the water and stir well. Close the cooker and bring to maximum pressure on high heat. Now, reduce the heat and cook on low level for about 15  minutes. Open the cooker after all the steam has escaped. Add the sugar and very lightly mash the cooked turnips. Keep on the flame for a few minutes to dry out excess water if any.
    Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves. NOTE: A heavy bottomed vessel could be used in place of the pressure cooker. The quantity of water may be more than doubled and accordingly, the entire cooking process would take a longer time.
Serve immediately with: hot white rice, Indian bread (Roti) or sliced fresh white bread.


Korean-Style Daikon Radish with Chicken (www.food.com)

  • 1 medium daikon radish
  • 2 boneless chicken legs with thigh (may substitute with chicken breast but taste might be less rich)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Cooking sauce

  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon mirin
  • pepper

Directions:

1 Peel daikon and cut into 1/2 inch half moons.
2 Cut chicken into 1/2- 1 inch pieces.
3 Heat oil. Add daikon and chicken and sauté over high heat. Stir in crushed garlic and chili flakes/pepper. 
4 Add all ingredients for the cooking sauce. Cook over medium heat, constantly skimming.
5 When the sauce has nearly evaporated, sprinkle sesame oil.
6 Remove from heat and serve. Great with rice.
7 Even better the day after!

Read more at: http://www.food.com/recipe/daikon-radish-with-chicken-korean-style-133124?oc=linkback
 


Yay Spring Crocuses!
  

*********************
 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!