In The Box 1: Local Deliveries and Pick Up
This is such a lush and gorgeous time of year – all green growth, very little yellow anything. This week, we have especially enjoyed exploring the nearby woods and creeks for foraged greens. The overcast skies and humid air make our valley seem more like a rainforest than a Midwestern sand farm! We hope you will relish these tastes of spring before the summer heat comes on and gives us something new.
Welcome to the Circle M CSA adventure! We’ve got lots of resources to make it fun and easy for you to store, cook and experiment with your super-fresh veggies this season. We hope you’ll take advantage of the recipes we’ve included in the paper harvest list, as well as take some time to explore more of them at here. We also have a guest nutritionist, Sheila Robertson of Natural Path Health Center, who will be posting a video every other week to teach you some healthy recipes for your Circle M box. Like us on facebook and you’ll get direct links to the blog, the vlog and lots of fun pictures and videos of the farm. Finally, we hope you will send us your recipes and suggestions via facebook or a comment on the website so we can share them with the whole CSA community. Looking forward to our season together!
Every week youâ€™ll receive a harvest list in your box. The veggies will be listed in order of what you should try to eat first. In general, most vegetables appreciate refrigeration and sealed storage. We will let you know when there is an exception. Herbs usually do best, stems down, in a glass or vase of water and tucked into the fridge. If you wonâ€™t use them within a week, dry them by hanging them upside down, then crumble into sealed plastic bags or glass jars.
Salad Mix w/ Johnny Jump Ups and Bachelor Button Confetti â€“ These mixed lettuces are the product of a shady early garden, very mild in flavor and color. The flowers are edible â€“ so enjoy!
Pea Shoots and Edible Pods (curly tendrils in a bag)â€“ This tender Asian delicacy is a perennial favorite here at Circle M. We love spring peas, but the pea shoots have possibly more flavor and they are just so pretty sprinkled over a salad, arranged next to a main dish, or lightly sautÃ©ed and mixed in with pasta. We had a hard time not eating more than we packed, though in the heat of this past week they lost some of their sweetness. We also added the first harvest of edible pods to your bogs – yellow and green snow peas and fat sweet snaps. Eat them whole or chop into salad or stir fry.
Nettles â€“ (dark, serrated leaves in a bag) We sometimes have a hard time convincing members to give these mean old stinging woodland weeds a try! But we had lots of folks jump in this week and sent ideas, “recipes”:http://www.europeancuisines.com/Irish-Creamy-Nettle-Soup and links. Thanks to Francis for this “awesome link”:http://www.wildlifegardeners.org/forum/recipes/5912-cream-nettle-soup.html with a great little wild herb video. Do a bit of reading on the health benefits of these dark leafy greens, and you will have no trouble popping them into your mouth. Weâ€™ve picked mostly tender growing tips for you, so all you have to do is take the bag and dump the leaves into a colander and rinse. Donâ€™t touch them! Once cooked or smashed, the prickers no longer irritate the skin, but avoid touching them until then. Sheila will teach you how to make Nettle Pesto in her video (available on our facebook page tomorrow), but you can also use them in any recipe instead of spinach. I love to just make tea â€“ simply put the leaves in a big pot, pour boiling water over and let sit until cool, then strain into a pitcher. Leave in the fridge and enjoy with honey.
Turnip Greens (light green big leaves in a bunch)â€“ Another leafy green nutritional powerhouse â€“ turnip greens are a great antioxidant cancer fighter and are high in calcium. To get the most health benefits, simply rinse, cut into Â½ inch slices and steam for 5 minutes. Toss with a light lemon/olive oil dressing and season with salt and pepper. Or try Sheila’s amazing turnip green chips from the video in the last post.
Watercress (dark curly leaves in a bag)â€“ We really enjoyed traipsing through the cold, pretty creek to harvest this lush, peppery green. I think it must be a relative of arugula because it tastes so much like it. Traditionally, watercress is enjoyed on sandwiches, and it makes a simple lunch truly amazing. But try adding the leaves to your salad, or serve it as a side dish to fish. You can check out watercress.com for lots of nutritional info and recipes. We didnâ€™t wash this after we cut it because we werenâ€™t sure if the crispness would deteriorate. So rinse right before eating. Raw is the best way to get the amazing amount of nutrients available in watercress.
Rhubarb â€“ Who doesnâ€™t love something sweet that is ready in early spring? Just the smell of the juice oozing from the stalks as we pulled them made my mouth water. There are so many good recipes for rhubarb â€“ do you have one youâ€™d like to share? We like to simply wash and cube, then cook it on the stove with a bit of sugar and water to keep it from sticking. Then we keep that puree in the fridge to put on everything â€“ ice cream, oatmeal, toast.
Salad Turnips (large white round roots, loose) â€“ Oh joy! We ate these like apples the whole time we were washing them up. The Hakurai turnips are a fleeting spring delicacy that can be ruined so many ways â€“ by heat, by drought, by flea beetles, by root maggotsâ€¦ But these are tremendously perfect. Eat like a radish, raw and sliced over salad, or served alone with a dip. Or cube and sautÃ© in butter with the greens.
Radish (multi-colored in a bag) â€“ So pretty and fresh in salad or on a buttered baguette slice â€“ sprinkle with salt.
Winter Scallions (thin onions) â€“ These Asian bunching scallions are planted in the fall, grow through the winter and then are available to use early in the season. Use the whites and greens â€“ and use the flowers, as well!
Herbs: We like to pack an herb bouquet in every box so you can always have fresh herbs to season your fresh veggies. But we consistently hear that folks have a hard time telling which herbs are which. So this year, we are going to try to introduce you to them a few at a time. Later in the season, they will be included in smaller amounts and bunched together.
Chives w/ Bulblets (long, grassy leaves with pinkish flowers) â€“ These chives have flowered, and if you look close their flowers are turning into tiny little bulblets. Both the chive leaves and the bulblets are edible â€“ try sprinkling those bulblets over an omelet for a very fancy breakfast. The stalks that hold the flowers are not edible, however, too tough. The leaves are best cut into tiny pieces with a scissor into whatever you wish to flavor with them â€“ soup, eggs, cream cheese dips, potatoes, fish. Today I made the vinegar that farm member Gianna sent via facebook: just pull off the purple flowers and stuff into a jar, then cover with vinegar for a few weeks in a dark place. When done you’ll have purple-tinted chive vinegar to use on salads.
Lovage (large parsely-like leaves in a bunch)â€“ Lovage is a perennial celery that is ready long before typical celery. It tastes like celery with the hint of nutmeg. It is one of my favorite herbs to munch on all day when Iâ€™m working in the gardens. If you will be cooking it, you can use the stalks and all. If you want it in a salad, just use the leaves as the stalks are a bit fibrous to eat raw.
Oregano (small leaves on tough stalks, bunched) â€“ Using fresh herbs is one of the true delights of the growing season. Perhaps youâ€™ve never used fresh herbs in cooking before, and you need to know that youâ€™ll use DOUBLE the dried amount given in recipes. Oregano is essential in all Italian and Mexican dishes. Hang and dry what you wonâ€™t use in a week â€“ it will still be fresher than anything you can buy in the store.
Chocolate Mint (dark fragrant leaves, maroon stems) â€“ Essential in mojitos and lemonade here on the farm all summer. Chop leaves over fruit salad, cheesecake and chocolate treats. Use whole leaves as a garnish.
Herb to Plant: Cinnamon Basil! â€“ We want basil everyday in the summer. This little plant is sweeter than typical basil, so you can use it in desserts or in pesto. Pop it in the ground in sun in your garden, or in a pot on the porch. Harvest by cutting the top 3 inches off â€“ the rest will branch and give you a big plant by high summer.
Rhubarb Fool Recipe
I personally love this very simple English recipe for breakfast or dessert. Amounts are a bit funny, as Iâ€™m translating from those British weights in the recipe.
8 short rhubarb sticks, chopped
Â¼ cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
Place rhubarb in a heavy saucepan with 1 TBSP water and the sugar. Turn heat on medium-high and stir â€“ donâ€™t allow it to scald! Rhubarb will release its juice after a few minutes. Boil until the rhubarb is soft â€“ 10 minutes or so. Whip the cream with the vanilla until it forms soft peaks. Add warm, not hot, rhubarb and fold in gently until barely combined â€“ it looks best if itâ€™s a bit random and swirly. Spoon into parfait or wine glasses and chill for an hour before serving â€“ tart and awesome!
Strawberry Mint Mojito
A sweet treat from our friends at The Sumac Room caterers in Mineral Point
8 mint leaves
2 oz Rum
1 1/2 oz simple syrup
8 strawberries sliced,
Rhubarb Simple Syrup
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 stalks of rhubarb
Bring all to a boil in saucepot. Simmer and reduce to a third of the volume and strain.
Cool. Keeps in the refrig for a week covered.
Muddle mint and wine with simple syrup in a glass. Pack with ice, add the rum and slices of strawberry. Shake 10 seconds. Pour into a highball glass, top with wine and garnish with another sliced berry.
Cold Watercress and Avocado Soup
3 cups watercress, chopped
3 cups chicken stock
4 avocados, peeled and sliced
4 cilantro or parsley stems, chopped
1 pint natural yogurt
2 tbsp crÃ¨me fraiche or sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of 2 limes
1 green chili, finely chopped (optional)
Heat stock and, reserving a few leaves for garnish, simmer watercress in the stock for 15 minutes. Strain and cool. Chill in fridge. Blend other ingredients until smooth. Check seasoning and chill.
To serve, stir in the creamy avocado mix and garnish with watercress leaves.