Solstices, Super Moons and Summer Storms

6:47 PM Adrian 0 Comments

....If you are plugged in or tuned to the natural world, there's no need to explain how such events rumble through farm life.  For those of you who don't follow, we'll explain.  But first....we have an exciting CSA table this week!  At first glance it may seem kinda short, but the following list could very well look different tomorrow (as in, there will be some wonderful, surprising additions to your share...expect the unexpected!).

Our spread this week:
  • Head Lettuce
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Kale bunch
  • Collards bunch
  • Fennel (frond & bulb)
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Spring Onions

...and more!


This week has been quite the showcasing of Mother Nature's forces at work!   This past Friday was the Summer Solstice during a waxing moon, followed two days later by the pinnacle of the Full Moon; which, to make it even more extreme, happened to be a "Super Moon."   Supposedly this is when the moon is at its closest to the earth in its orbit during the year, and is said to look 30-40% larger than usual (I went outside to look at the moon on the night of its "superiority"...sadly it was behind a thick veil of clouds and looked like an indeterminate-sized blob, so I cannot speak of the stunning size and visuals of the super moon from experience).

If you have had any encounter with the wild effects of the moon when it's full, you probably have an idea of what a Super-Full Moon could do.  Think of ocean riptides, coyotes and wolves (werewolves too), hippies in the desert if you give them a dope spot and enough djembes, you or your girlfriend's mood swings (she won't admit it but it's true) or the mayhem on the OB/GYN floor of a hospital as almost all expecting mothers go into labor simultaneously (just ask my mom).  In the natural world, plant and animal life is going crazy too, there is so much energy and sunlight coming from the sky all of the time, that the plants are having an all-you-can-eat photo-synthesis buffet and the animals are following suit and making their own huge buffet of them.  Our plants are no exception, and the deer out here are getting braver and braver in order to dine on them, venturing quite close to the barn these days!  Our crops have not known when to stop growing.  I have literally blinked and seen our kale plants grow an inch.  Well, maybe that is hyperbole; let's just say, this week our vegetables will grow more than they ever will at any point in the year.  Since it's the Summer Solstice, they are receiving more daytime rays for nourishment than ever during the longest days of the year, and because of the full moon at night, the photo-synthesis doesn't end!  Not a whole lot of people may know, but plants greatly benefit from the solar energy reflected from off of the moon at night.  Things are just growing and growing! 

Which would be a good thing, right?  Except (and some believe that perhaps this is the Super-Duper Moon's fault) we've had some pretty crazy, destructive storms.  We were visited by large hail a couple of nights ago which, regardless of how much our plants are benefiting from the 24/7 light show right now, really banged up a lot of them, especially our lettuces.  So just a little "heads" up...our head lettuce may have sustained some hail damage, and may have some bruises and holes in the leaves.  They will still taste delicious but we hope for your understanding of such unpredictable weather events!

And to add to the crazy, yesterday's storm almost sent a tornado our way!  Weather watchers saw one touch down only a couple miles away from us, and there was quite the intimidating wall cloud which passed over the farm.  We're glad it missed us (and that our greenhouses are still here)!

With that said, we hope you all have a great week and that mama nature calms down a little.  See you at market!


Recipes

Spicy Grilled Shrimp with Rice and Mango Salad and Sesame Sugar Snap Peas (www.bonappetit.com)

 

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 16 uncooked jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 cups cooked short-grain brown rice (about 1 1/4 cups uncooked)
  • 1 mango, peeled, pitted, chopped
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces sugar snap peas
  • 1 teaspoon oriental sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 4 10- to 12-inch metal skewers

 

Preparation

  • Whisk 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon ginger, and crushed red pepper in bowl. Add shrimp; toss. Chill 2 hours.
  • Whisk 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon ginger, lime juice, and soy sauce in another bowl. Add rice, mango, and onions; toss well. Cover rice salad; let stand at room temperature.
  • Boil sugar snap peas in salted water until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Drain peas and transfer to medium bowl. Toss peas with sesame oil and sesame seeds.
  • Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Thread 4 shrimp onto each of 4 skewers. Grill shrimp until just opaque in center, about 2 minutes per side.
  • Mound rice and mango salad in center of large platter; surround with sesame sugar snap peas. Top with grilled shrimp skewers and serve.



Spinach* and Kale Turnovers (www.myrecipes.com) 
 *Echollective Twist: they can also be just Kale turnovers!  Substitute spinach amount for kale (or collard!) amount.

Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil 
  • 1 cup chopped onion 
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped 
  • 3 cups chopped kale (about 1 small bunch)
  • 1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 (11.3-ounce) can refrigerated dinner roll dough (such as Pillsbury)
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 10 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Add garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add kale and spinach; sauté 8 minutes or until kale is tender. Stir in pepper, salt, and nutmeg. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Stir in feta.
  3. Separate dough into 8 pieces. Roll each dough piece into a 5-inch circle. Spoon about 1/3 cup kale mixture on half of each circle, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Fold dough over kale mixture until edges almost meet. Bring bottom edge of dough over top edge; crimp edges of dough with fingers to form a rim.
  4. Place turnovers on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat turnovers with cooking spray; sprinkle each turnover with about 1 teaspoon Parmesan. Bake at 375° for 18 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving; serve warm or at room temperature.


Caramelized Fennel (putneyfarm.com)
(Adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables)

Notes Before You Start:
  • The key to this dish is to brown, not steam, the fennel. Keep the pan hot and spread out the fennel, no crowding. Cook in batches if necessary- the only problem will be that you will finish the first batch before the next batch is done. Yes, this dish is that good.
What You Get: A great fennel recipe. Really.
What You Need: No special equipment is required.
How Long: 20 minutes, maybe more if cooking in batches. 5 minutes of prep and 15 minutes of cooking. You can make this dish any time.

Ingredients:
(Serves 4 as a side dish)
  • 2 Large fennel bulbs
  • ¼ Cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • ½ Lemon
Assemble:
  1. Using a very sharp knife, cut the top and bottom from the fennel bulbs and then remove tough or bruised outer layers. You will end up with a bulb about the size of your fist.
  2. Slice the bulbs in half and then remove the cores from the fennel. Then cut the fennel lengthwise into 1/8 inch slices (it is ok if a little thicker).
  3. Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the olive oil and then the fennel slices. Spread the fennel out in the pan to encourage browning.
  4. Cook for 10-12 minutes, flipping the fennel slices every few minutes, until golden brown.
  5. Remove the fennel from the pan and drain off any excess oil. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice, to taste. 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!

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