In The Box 2: Madison Delivery
Last box we introduced you to our ducklings, and this week we’d like to introduce you to our brand-new baby Berkshires: piglets! These eight black porkers moved into their garden yesterday and are happily munching on weeds, playing in the sprinkler, and sleeping in a pile. Our pigs live in one of our back garden pens each year, so we get to work next to them a part of each day. Nothing is more soothing than the quiet grunts of contented pigs exploring.
Happy First Week of Summer! Sort of. We must admit to being less than happy about this weather. It feels like it’s been high summer for about a month here and quite frankly, it’s grueling. If we had some rain to mitigate the heat for the crops, that would change things quite a bit. But we haven’t had any for weeks and combined with the constant high winds, keeping things alive is an all-day and through-the-night job. Even though we irrigate with strips of high-efficiency drip tape next to each row of plants, the wind and heat evaporate the moisture the moment it leaks from the tape. What that means practically is that certain crops will produce only briefly for us before going to seed this year, like spinach and salad mix. Others, of course, like tomatoes and peppers, are on fast forward. We’ve been picking blossoms off the plants for weeks to try and encourage their energy toward strong stems and roots to deal with the wind. Nevertheless, we’ve already got fruit on a fair amount of the plants.
One of the losses of the hot spring has been our forage crops. We love to put some of the woodland’s bounty in our CSA boxes – crops we head into the hedgerows to find, like nettles, watercress and elderberry blossoms. But you won’t see any of those things in your box this year. The watercress had already bloomed by the first box so it was bitter. The nettle and elderberry quality is poor from lack of moisture, so the stands are thin and we’d have to put too much walking time in to find enough. (But DO go out and get some elder blossoms right now if you see them. Dip them in thin pancake, waffle or tempura batter and fry in oil until crispy. Here’s a great “recipe for Elder Flower Fritters”:http://www.lottieanddoof.com/2011/06/elderflower-fritters/ with pictures.) We did find some wonderful stands of milkweed this year, and those delicious pods are in your box this week!
We’ve also had to skip packing many of the herbs we enjoy sending out in spring, like sorrel, lovage, chives and thyme. They bolted by late May, so we’ve cut them back and hope to pack them in late summer and fall. We do have some other lovely herbs in your box this week, though – to enjoy now and dry for later. Here’s what else is in the box:
Salad w/ Dragon Mix or Spinach – We’d hoped to pack another big bag of Dragon Mix for you to saute with Milkweed this box, but the heat really reduced the growth of these cool-season greens. What we were able to harvest, we added to the Full Share salads. If you don’t like the spicy greens as salad, simply pick them off the top and use them to cook. Shorties, you got spinach with your Salad.
Baby Swiss Chard – These tender and colorful greens are delicious chopped into salad, at this size. Farm Member Becky really enjoys Swiss Chard chopped and sauteed into omelettes. Great green to whip into smoothies, since the leaves are very very soft.
Milkweed Pods This foraged prairie treat is a tasty first bite of summer. Saute very lightly or steam. Use in Asian dishes or enjoy simply with olive oil and garlic scapes. Yummy over brown rice with a bit of tamari or Bragg’s. See Ashleyâ€™s post from last week on the interesting properties of milkweed as food. Because the spring was so early and hot this year, we missed the opportunity to pack a lot of our favorite foraged crops, like nettles and watercress which were finished and bitter by June. But the milkweed couldn’t be nicer.
Cilantro Fragile but amazingly flavorful. Use quickly or dry.
Chocolate Mint The best way to store this bunch is upright in a tiny bit of water in a glass in the fridge. Water will turn the leaves black that it touches, but everything above will stay fresh. WE LOVE this herb. Sweet and minty, so very different from the spicy nature of peppermint. We throw a few sprigs in our lemonade and it flavors the whole gallon recipe. We use this in baking, in fruit salad, and most especially – cocktails! This makes amazing mojitos and check out this link for a “Shady Porch with Chocolate Mint”:http://boozedandinfused.com/2012/05/24/mint-bourbon-and-an-amazing-cocktail/. Or make Emeril’s “Mint Julep Sorbet”:http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/mint-julep-sorbet-recipe/index.html. If you donâ€™t use it in a week, hang it up, as is, and let it dry in your kitchen.
Oregano We love fresh herbs here at Circle M and we hope you agree, or will learn to love them by the end of the yearâ˜º Fresh herbs will literally transform your meals. Chop these leaves, flowers and tender stems into tomato sauces or over meats. Throw away woody stems. If you donâ€™t use in a few days, hang in your kitchen to dry, and crumble into a glass jar to use later.
Snap Peas Oh joy, oh crunchy sweet joy! No matter how hot and miserable it gets outside, these snaps stay cool and succulent, crunchy and sweet. It is snap pea month! Weâ€™ve had a ridiculously perfect pea year and the vines are positively dripping with pods. We harvest every day â€“ and eat our fill each time. Yum. DO NOT SHELL THESE PEAS, PLEASE! Eat the whole pod. Simply zip the strings off of each side and eat whole. Weâ€™ve also been enjoying these chopped in one-inch pieces and sautÃ©ed. We took some to a friends house for a dinner party and he made a terrific potato salad with lightly steamed snaps, cilantro and olive oil. Link to this recipe for “Salmon with Snaps and Cilantro”:http://karistaskitchen.com/2010/08/15/salmon-stir-fry-with-fresh-cilantro-bean-sprouts-and-sugar-snap-peas/ More recipes below.
Our snap pea jungle is near our country road. The vines are so lush, neighbors slow down as they go by and quite often stop to come into the trellises and have a look. We have no idea what we did right this year, but we are thankful for the harvest!
Spinach – We usually have this for a few early boxes, but the heat is sending these plants into flower, so we need to till them in and replant for fall. Shorties got spinach in their Salad Mix, but not a separate bag.
Easter Egg Radish This multi-colored mix is SPICY. Many of these varieties are versions of the huge Chinese daikon radish. Use for pickling or try in a sautÃ©. Spicy radishes mellow out a bit when cooked. Greens are great to save for stock, but apparently quite a few people use them in other ways. The Iron Chef show recently did a radish challenge and the chefs concluded that the greens might be the best part of the plant! These are pretty wilty from the recent heat, but they should cook up fine. Check out these “ideas”:http://www.thekitchn.com/dont-toss-those-radish-greens-145724.
Garlic Scapes These flower buds from our fall-planted garlic can be used just like a scallion. Chop and sautÃ© where youâ€™d use garlic flavor.
Flower Bouquet This week’s box is brought to you by the sunny color YELLOW! We’ve got lots of versions of it in this bunch – bold Armenian Basket Flower, fragrant yellow Yarrow, delicate Sunset Yarrow, chartreuse Bupleurum and for a bit of contrast, maroon Ninebark with blue Balloon Flowers (full shares).
Potted Herb: Celery We’ve got a row of celery planted, but we will probably only pack the stalks once or twice in the box. If you like celery, we recommend you plant this in a sunny spot and use the outer leaves as they get big. Sometimes you only need a stalk or two to give you the flavor you need. Try using the immature leaves for flavor, too. If you don’t like celery – try putting this in a pot surrounded by flowers in place of the ever-present spike! We used dill and kohlrabi in our flower pots this year.
Fried Rice with Snow Peas and Asparagus
4 eggs, beaten
ground white pepper
3 Tbs. canola oil, divided
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut into 1/2″ pieces
2 cups snow peas, trimmed, cut into 1/2″ pieces
4 cups cooked brown rice (leftover rice is the best way to go for fried rice)
3 scallions, sliced diagonally
1 tsp. soy sauce
Directions: Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a wok or large, heavy pan over high heat. Pour in the eggs, sprinkle with salt and white pepper, and gently stir once or twice with a wooden spoon. When the eggs are just cooked through, transfer them to a bowl.
Pour a tablespoon of oil into the pan and add the asparagus and snow peas. Sprinkle with salt and a tablespoon of water. Cook, stirring occasionally, over high heat for 3-4 minutes, until the vegetables are crisp-tender and bright green. Transfer to a bowl with the eggs.
Heat the last tablespoon of oil in the pan and add the rice and soy sauce. Stir to break up the clumps and cook to heat through. Cook without stirring for a minute or two to allow the rice to lightly brown.
Return the scrambled eggs, snow peas, and asparagus to the pan. Fold in the ingredients until combined. Heat through and adjust the seasoning if needed. Sprinkle with scallions and serve piping hot. Makes 4 servings.
Sugar Snap Peas with Lemon-Chili Breadcrumbs
3 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1/2 c. breadcrumbs
1 garlic clove, minced
zest of 1 lemon
large pinch dried chili flakes
3 cups sugar snap peas, washed and trimmed
Directions: Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy saute pan. Add the breadcrumbs and stir until well-coated in oil. Toast, stirring frequently until golden-brown, about five minutes. Stir in the garlic, saute for 1 minute, then stir in the lemon zest, chili flakes, and a generous pinch of salt. Transfer the breadcrumb mixture to a dish and set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in the pan over medium-low heat. Add the sugar snap peas, a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender and bright green, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, fold in the breadcrumbs, and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Golden Thai Curry
We are digging this recipe from CSA member Alison Finseth.
1 lb. Yukon gold or baby red potatoes, peeled and cubed (2 1/2 cups)
1 pint sugar snap peas, snapped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 1/2 tbsp yellow curry paste (or more to taste)
1 tbsp butter
1 13.5-oz can coconut milk (biggest tip: don’t use light coconut milk!)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups pea shoots, chopped
2 tbsp thinly sliced basil leaves
1 tbsp lime juice
Directions: Bring large pot of water to boil. Cook potatoes 7 minutes; drain, reserving 1/2 cup water. Heat oil in deep pan over medium heat. Add onion; cook 7 minutes or until starting to brown. Stir in garlic, curry paste, and butter; cook 1 minute. Add coconut milk and 1/2 cup water; bring mixture to a simmer. Stir in potatoes, peas, and bell pepper; simmer 10 minutes. Add pea shoots and basil, and cook 2 minutes more. Add lime juice just before serving. Excellent over brown rice.
The first time I had this drink was at a Chicago party where a Puerto Rican friend was making up pitchers that included mashed sugar cane. I’d always walked by stalks of sugar cane at the Mexican grocery in my neighborhood and wondered how to use them. Well, mojitos are all the application I’ll ever need! But this recipe simplifies things with powdered sugar while still being quite amazing. Using sweet chocolate mint takes this cocktail to a whole ‘nother level. Enjoy the hot nights we’ve got ahead by quenching your thirst with this. Single serving.
4 mint leaves
1 lime (for juicing)
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
2 ounces white rum
2 ounces club soda
1 sprig of mint (for garnishing)
Put the mint leaves into a Collins glass and squeeze the lime juice over them. Add the powdered sugar and then muddle the mint, lime juice and sugar together. Add crushed ice. Stir in the rum and top off with the club soda. Garnish with a mint sprig.