In The Box 4: Farm Pick Up and New Glarus Delivery
We are so thankful for the many emails, calls and messages of support extended to us in the past week. Yes, it is a crazy year to be a farmer, but it is also really nice to feel the love and concern of neighbors and friends! So I’ll forgo any more comments about the drought, since I’ve certainly said enough about it in the past month. For now, there are still lots of wonderful veggies for the boxes. In fact, they were so full this week, we had to leave the bouquets outside of the boxes. We didn’t want to skip them, though, because one of our favorite flowers of the the year is at it’s peak right now – fragrant purple butterfly bush. Enjoy the smells, tastes and colors of this harvest! Here’s what’s in the box:
In order of most to least perishable…
Tansy – DO NOT EAT! These dark green, very fragrant stalks are tucked into the large boxes to help repel bugs. Take these fronds and put them in your fruit bowls to chase the fruit flies away.
Basil – This is bagged up somewhere near the top of your box. Basil is just hitting it’s stride, and we’ll be giving you more and more each week til you can start freezing pesto for the fall! Use this within a few days, and store in a cool area, or on the door of your fridge. It is damaged by cold.
Salad Mix – We could not believe we still had salad to pick this week! The few days of cooler temperatures, with chilly nights, helped this bounce back after the heat wave. We are also growing it under black shade cloth.
Baby Bok Choy – We are a bit ashamed of the condition of these purple baby Asian greens, because the flea beetles really did some damage to them. However, it is a terrible terrible year for bugs and if we start discarding produce with holes, we might end up with nothing to eat!
Bug infestations are probably the most challenging problem faced by organic farmers, and this is a very intense year in terms of all beetles. Organic farmers all over the state are collaborating via email to try and brainstorm some solutions. The very excellent folks at Johnny’s Seed Company told me over the phone that beetles tend to thrive in a hot year and gave me some good ideas for organic sprays that we are trying out. We aren’t seeing very good results yet, however – and the conventional farmers we chat with at the hardware store in town aren’t seeing good results with conventional sprays, either. So we are pretty much having to re-seed large sections of our cucumber, summer squash, brassica and pumpkin fields that were decimated by spotted cucumber beetles, squash bugs and Japanese beetles.
Sorrel – These tart lance-shaped leaves that we’ve got bagged up for you are the Sour Patch Kids of the veggie world. On our high-school farm tours, this herb is hands down the favorite for munching in the field. Add this, ribboned, to your salad for a taste kick, or use to garnish and flavor your new potatoes. The lemon-y bright flavor complements goat cheese, poultry and eggs.
Mixed Baby Kale – These crisp curly leaves bunched in a rubber band are the first harvest thru our kale rows. We just LOVE the first bite of kale each season – so crisp and sweet and healthy! These are a powerhouse of flavor and nutrition, and I suggest you try these raw, including the very sweet stems. A great way to enjoy young kale it to chop the leaves and stems into bite-size pieces, then massage gently, as you would knead bread, with salad dressing. Allow to sit 1/2 hour, then garnish with nuts and dried cranberries – and eat!
Kale is one of the brassicas being plagued this year by Japanese beetles. Until this year, I honestly wasn’t aware that Japanese beetles had any interest in kale. One nice thing about these destructive bugs is that they do eat a whole leaf before moving on to the next one – which means we had plenty of nice leaves to harvest even though the plants are hosting a lot of munchers. Harvesting gave me a nice chance today to squish hundreds of them in about an hour. Floating row covers are our first line of defense against bugs, but once the plants get too big to fit under covers, we resort of our second line of defense – squish, squish and squish.
Chives – Enjoy these grassy-looking onion-family leaves with the lovely little new potatoes. I just cut them with a scissor directly over whatever dish I want them in.
Fennel – These white bulbs with ferny greens are smaller than we wanted to send out to you – but they started bolting in the heat and we had to get them out of the field before they got fibrous. This is a crop you either love or hate. I love it because I LOVE anise and licorice flavors – which are present in this veggie. The flavor is really like a cross between licorice and celery – and it is almost a little spicy. It pairs amazingly well with citrus in a salad. It is also fabulous roasted with olive oil, caramelized with onions or baked in a gratin with potatoes. Some nice recipe ideas “here”:http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/roasted_fennel/
Dill – We had a little bit more of this (large yellow/green flower heads) and thought it might go nicely if you wanted to pickle the beets. To save for cucumber pickling later, simply leave out to dry. Seeds and leaves and flowers are all very tasty.
Onions – We’ve really been enjoying these mild fresh onions. They are uncured and immature, so don’t store outside of the fridge. Use within a few weeks.
Beets – We got a lot of great feedback about the beet, feta and beet green recipe from the previous harvest list. Something about beets and feta is wonderful! Here are more delicious beets and greens to try out – you might have red, golden, white or striped beets in your box. All tasty.
New Red and Blue Potatoes – Our poor potatoes have been pretty decimated by Colorado potato beetles and by the heat wave. But these early colored varieties – Red Superior and Adirondack Blue are tasty and gorgeous. Even though the plants didn’t yield much before they died back, they made us a few wonderful tubers each. Try these lightly boiled and dressed simply with olive oil, white balsamic vinegar and chives.
Flower Bouquet – These bouquets are all about the butterfly bush! But we did put some cool foraged Queen Anne’s Lace in there, along with some cool succulent Sedum greens, yellow yarrow and white liatris. Full Size bouquets have Highbush Cranberries.
“Spaghetti with Kale”:http://www.pbs.org/food/fresh-tastes/spaghetti-with-kale/
I think you should eat the kale raw this time, but if you really don’t care for it, click on this recipe for an unusual treat.
“Blue Potatoes with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette”:http://www.fakefoodfree.com/2012/06/blue-potato-salad-with-lemon-basil.html This link has a great recipe using lots of the things you got in the box this week, and lots of pretty pictures, too!
“Sorrel and New Potato Salad”:http://eatenanythinginterestinglately.blogspot.com/2011/06/new-potatoes-with-sorrel-sauce-and.html This link has a recipe involving new potatoes, sorrel and truffle salt!
Fennel and Fontina Pizza with Caramelized Onions
Thanks, Martha, for another fabulous recipe. From marthastewart.com.
1/2 cup Caramelized Fennel and Onions (below)
4 ounces shredded fontina
Basic Grilled Pizza Dough (below)
Set up a grill with heat source, coals or gas, on one side over medium-high. Clean and lightly oil hot grill. On a lightly floured work surface, stretch or roll 1 piece basic grilled pizza dough or 4 ounces store-bought dough into a 10-inch-long oval or other desired shape. Brush one side lightly with herb oil or olive oil and season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Using your hands, place dough, oiled side down, directly over heat source. Brush dough with herb oil or olive oil and cook until underside is lightly charred and bubbles form all over top, 1 to 2 minutes. With tongs, flip dough and cook until lightly charred, 1 to 2 minutes. Slide dough to cooler side of grill. Top with cheese and fennel/onion mix; garnish with fennel fronds, cover grill. Cook until cheese melts and toppings are heated through, 2 to 5 minutes.
Caramelized Fennel and Onions
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
In a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid, heat extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high. Add fennel and onion, and season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook 5 to 7 minutes. Uncover, add 1 tablespoon water, and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown and soft, 2 minutes.
Basic Grilled Pizza Dough
1 teaspoon sugar
1 packet (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for bowl and brushing
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 1/4 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
Pour 1 cup warm water into a medium bowl; add sugar and sprinkle with yeast. Let stand until foamy, 5 minutes. Whisk oil and 1 teaspoon salt into yeast mixture. Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until liquid is incorporated (dough will appear dry). Turn out onto a floured work surface. Knead until dough comes together in an elastic ball, 2 minutes. Transfer to an oiled medium bowl; brush lightly with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; set in a warm, draft-free place until dough has doubled in bulk, 45 minutes. Punch down dough and cover; let rise another 30 minutes. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide into 4 equal pieces. Let rest 15 minutes before using.
Spicy Kale and Bok
This is so nice served just warm over rice. It cooks quick and doesn’t heat up the kitchen.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 Thai or jalapeno chile, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed and slices quartered
1 tablespoon honey
Small kale bunch, coarsely chopped
Small bunch baby bok choy, chopped
6 small onions and greens, cut into 2-inch pieces
In a large skillet, heat oil and chile over medium-high heat. Add lemon and honey and cook, stirring, until lemon begins to break down, about 2 minutes. Add kale and bok choy and cook, stirring, until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Add scallions, season with salt, and cook 1 minute. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Beets and Greens Risotto
This is a wonderful pink recipe from Martha Rose Schulman in the New York Times.
4 pound beets (1 bunch small), roasted
1 bunch beet greens, stemmed and washed
6 to 7 cups chicken or vegetable stock, as needed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio or Carnarolli rice
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 cup red, rose, or dry white wine
Freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1/4 to 1/2 cup, to taste)
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Season well and turn the heat to low. Stack the stemmed, washed greens and cut crosswise into 1-inch wide strips. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large nonstick frying pan or wide, heavy saucepan and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes, and add the rice and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the grains of rice are separate and beginning to crackle, about 3 minutes. Stir in the wine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. The wine should bubble, but not too quickly. You want some of the flavor to cook into the rice before it evaporates. When the wine has just about evaporated, stir in a ladleful or two of the simmering stock (about 1/2 cup), enough to just cover the rice. The stock should bubble slowly (adjust heat accordingly). Cook, stirring often, until it is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful or two of the stock and continue to cook in this fashion, not too fast and not too slowly, stirring often and adding more stock when the rice is almost dry, for 10 minutes.
Stir in the greens and the diced beets, and continue adding more stock, enough to barely cover the rice, and stirring often, for another 10 to 15 minutes. Taste a bit of the rice. Is it cooked through? It should taste chewy but not hard in the middle. Definitely not soft like steamed rice. If it is still hard in the middle, you need to continue adding stock and stirring for another 5 minutes or so. Now is the time to ascertain if there is enough salt. Add if necessary. When the rice is cooked through, add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper, and stir in another half cup of stock, the Parmesan and the parsley. Remove from the heat. The rice should be creamy; if it isnâ€™t, add a little more stock. Stir once, taste and adjust seasonings, and serve.
Variation: I often blanch greens when I get them home from the market so that they wonâ€™t wilt or rot in the refrigerator if I donâ€™t get around to cooking them right away. If you do this, and want to use them for this risotto, chop the blanched greens and set aside. Add them to the risotto during the last few minutes of cooking, just to heat them through and amalgamate into the dish.
Advance preparation: The roasted beets will keep for 5 days in the refrigerator. You can get ahead on the risotto, cooking it just through Step 3, then spreading the rice out in the pan or on a baking sheet. Reheat and proceed with Step 4 shortly before serving.