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Early Winter Box
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Denison Farms Early Winter Harvest Box 2007: Week 7

In the box1 bunch Watercress, 1 bunch Kale, 1 Cabbage, 2# Carrots (Groundwork Organics), 1# Cipollini Onions (from Persephone Farm), 1 Delicata or Sweet Dumpling or Sunshine squash, 3# Desiree Potatoes, 1# Gold Rush Apples & 2# Braeburn Apples (from LaMancha Ranch & Orchard)

Thank you
    This is the final box of the 2007 Harvest Box season. Thank you so much for being part of our farm this year! We appreciate your support and your commitment to eating locally produced, organic food. We couldn't do it without you.
We will be mailing information about next year's box in February, and our weekly boxes will begin again in June.
 
Locavore
    "The New Oxford American Dictionary chose locavore, a person who seeks out locally produced food, as its word of the year. The local foods movement is gaining momentum as people discover that the best-tasting and most sustainable choices are foods that are fresh, seasonal, and grown close to home. Some locavores draw inspiration from the 100-mile diet or from advocates of local eating like Barbara Kingsolver. Others just follow their taste buds to farmers' markets, community supported agriculture programs, and community gardens." (Margaret E. MacDonald, Western Organization of Resource Councils, Billings, MT)

Cabbage & Leeks
    You can find a simple and delicious recipe for braised cabbage and leeks on our web site: Last Year's Newsletters, Early Winter Week 4.

Cipollini Onions
    Cipollini Onions are a truly gourmet onion-fancy restaurants frequently identify them by name on the menu. They are extremely sweet and flavorful when roasted, baked, or sautéed (cook until slightly caramelized).

Gold Rush and Braeburn Apples
    Gold Rush (yellow): We love their intense flavor, but it's too much for some people. We like fresh chunks of Gold Rush cut up in our morning oats. Also fabulous cooked.
     Braeburn (red): Crisp and sweet, with a bit of tartness. They are a great dessert apple.

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Denison Farms Early Winter Harvest Box 2007: Week 6


In the box1 bunch Arugula, 1 bunch Collards, 2# Yellow carrots (Groundwork Organics), 1.5# Broccoli, 2 "Keeper" Onions (from Persephone Farm), 1 Butternut squash, 3# Butterball Potatoes, 3# mixed Rome and Cameo Apples (from Gala Springs Orchard), 3# Asian Pears (from Gala Springs Orchard)
Need recipe ideas for Arugula or Asian Pears? Check out www.cookinglight.com for lots of ideas.

Keeper Onions
    This week's onion selection from Persephone Farm is a "keeper" onion. Keeper onions are distinguished from "sweet" onions both by their good storage qualities and also by their stronger flavor. All the previous onions in your boxes have been sweet onions, which are milder and can be enjoyed both raw and cooked. Most people use keeper onions for cooking.

Collards are a very versatile green, with a distinctive flavor. I found the following recipe at the suggestion of Albany box member, Jan.
Greens in Peanut Sauce (From Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert)
1 medium onion (chopped) & 2-3 cloves garlic (minced)        
In a large soup pot sauté in 1 Tbs. oil.
1 medium tomato (diced; optional)                
Add and simmer 2-4 minutes.
1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/4 tsp salt or to taste, 1/8 tsp ground clove (or 11/2 tsp curry powder)
    Add, cook, and stir 2 minutes.
1 bunch collards or kale & 1/2 cup water
    Add and steam until greens are soft but not mush. Avoid overcooking.
Stir occasionally to coat greens with the spices.
2-3 Tablespoons chunky peanut butter or almond butter & 1-2 tsp. hot water
    Combine and add to greens at end of cooking time.

Butternut Squash:  Here's my favorite Butternut Squash Soup recipe.
1. Peel and cube 1 medium butternut squash. (Peeling is optional. It will be pureed later. )
2. Cook for 25 minutes in 5 cups of water or stock.
3. Sauté 1 large chopped onion and 1 tsp dried thyme in 2 Tbs oil. Add to squash.
4. Cool and puree the squash and onions.
5. Melt 4 Tbs butter. Stir in 1/4 cup flour and cook 2 minutes. Add 3/4 cup cream (or non-dairy milk)
6. Add flour & cream mixture to soup. Add 1 tsp salt, & 1/2 tsp tamari.
7. Simmer 15 minutes, stir to prevent sticking.
8. Garnish with 1/2 cup sliced and toasted almonds and black pepper to taste.

Yellow Carrots
Carrots come in many sizes, shapes, and colors. Our favorite variety is the sweet crunchy orange variety that you have been getting nearly every week. However, for something different, we're including yellow carrots this week. They are not quite as sweet as the orange variety, but they make delicious roasted carrots. You can combine carrots and potatoes in a roasting pan with a bit of olive oil and salt for an easy dish.

Apples: Cameo and Rome
Cameos are a great apple for fresh eating.  They are similar to the Gala apple, but have better texture and keep longer. Rome Apples (darker red skin, rounder shape, and pink blush on the flesh) are at their best cooked into applesauce or apple pie. Our kids really like applesauce from Rome apples-it's pink.

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Denison Farms Early Winter Harvest Box 2007: Week 5

Week 5:  1 bunch Mizuna, 2# carrots (Groundwork Organics), 1 bunch Beets, 2 Peppers (one colored, one green), 2 Sweet Red Onions (from Persephone Farm), 1 Spahgetti Squash, 4 or 5 Persimmons, 3# Desiree Potatoes, 3# Liberty Apples (from LaMancha Ranch and Orchard)

Winter Storm
        What a welcome relief to wake up to calm weather this morning! We were fortunate during the storm to only lose a few of our cold frames. The plastic cover can whip like a sail and mangle the steel frame supports. It’s humbling to see the power of the wind. Today I’m looking out my office window onto the neighbors grass seed field that has become a lake since Saturday.

Persimmons
        Freezing is not only a great way to preserve persimmons for later eating, but it makes a delicious “instant” dessert.  Once your persimmons have become soft, you can freeze them whole. When you’re ready for a sweet treat, thaw just enough to eat with a spoon. It’s like instant sorbet. Thanks to Julia for this idea.
        Other new persimmon ideas: use firm Fuyu persimmons as a sweet element in a sweet-sour stir fry…chunks of persimmon, water chestnuts, grated ginger, soy sauce stir-fried in peanut oil with your choice of protein and greenery….

Potatoes have fallen out of favor in recent years, I think due to the popularity of Lo-Carb diets. Historically, however, potatoes have been quite important in parts of the world. When Tom was in college in the mid-1970’s per capita potato consumption in many European countries was 4-5 pounds per day. Here’s an interesting nutritional note: If you got all your food calories from potatoes, you would also consume adequate protein and all vitamins except vitamin A and B12. But you would have to eat 12 pounds per day!  Here’s a recipe that is particularly good with today’s Desiree potatoes.

Elizabeth’s Simple Potato Salad
  1. Finely chop ½ a sweet onion, place in bowl.
  2. Cover onion with good olive oil and vinegar (I use about 1/3 cup olive oil & 3 Tbs vinegar. A mix of vinegars is good—try 2 Tbs mild rice vinegar or cider vinegar and 1 Tbs flavorful Balsamic vinegar, wine vinegar, or sherry vinegar).
  3. Cut 2 lbs. red potatoes into bite-sized chunks.
  4. Cover potatoes with water, add 1 tsp. salt. Boil for 10-15 minutes or until tender.
  5. Drain potatoes and add to onions. Stir gently. Cool 10 minutes. Taste and adjust salt, or add more oil or vinegar as needed. Serve warm. <>
<>Spaghetti Squash
        I was given a recipe for Lasagna by a market customer (from Relish magazine). I really like the recipe introduction, so I will repeat it here, as it is relevant to today’s spaghetti squash. “Lasagna is the ultimate any time food—perfect for a party, a potluck or an evening at home. It is also a dish that lends itself to inexhaustible tweaking. Almost anything goes.” Spaghetti squash is really nice in lasagna. First, bake the squash whole (350 degrees for about an hour), then open it and scoop out the seeds. Try mixing cooked spaghetti squash with the ricotta cheese layer of your lasagna, and cooking as usual for lasagna.
        Spaghetti squash also pairs well with cheese. It is less sweet than other winter squashes, and the long spaghetti-like strings keep a nice texture mixed with melted cheese. Try warm spaghetti squash mixed with grated jalapeno jack or sharp cheddar cheese. Greens tip of the week: chop Mizuna finely and add a handful to your bowl before adding hot, brothy soup.

<>Housekeeping Details
Please return any empty tubs that you may have. Our on-farm supply is dwindling. On the week of your final box (next week for many of you), please bring bags or boxes and transfer your produce, leaving the box. Or bring the box back to the pick-up site before the following Tuesday. Thank you!

Denison Farms Early Winter Harvest Box 2007: Week 4

Week 4: 1 bunch Kale, 2# carrots (Groundwork Organics), 2 Fennel, 1 Gold Bell pepper, 1 Gold Italian Pepper, 3# Butterball Potatoes, 2 Sweet Onions (from Persephone Farm), 1 Delicata Squash, 4 Fuyu Persimmons, 3# Cameo Apples (from Gala Springs)

Mystery greens in last week’s box
    Perhaps you noticed a bunch of greens in last week’s box  that wasn’t mentioned in the What’s in the box list? Here’s what I should have said last week: Tat Soy is a lovely stir-fry green. Tat Soy cooks quickly, so don’t overcook it. Or try it as a wilted salad with a hot sweet & sour vinaigrette dressing. The hot dressing cooks the Tat Soy just enough, leaving it still a little crunchy. I generally put the stems into a long-cooking soup or stew.

Fennel
    Fennel is one of my favorite vegetables. It is in the same botanical family as celery, carrots, parsley, cumin, and other aromatic vegetables grown for their edible roots, stalks, or seeds. It’s aroma and flavor are reminiscent of anise or licorice, and it can be enjoyed both raw and cooked. It’s flavor becomes more subtle with cooking.
Preparing Fennel
: Cut the leaf stalks from the bulb, then slice the bulb thinly lengthwise or crosswise. The bulb part is what most people eat, and what most recipes refer to when the call for fennel. You can use the stalks as you would celery, avoiding the stringier outer stalks, or using them in soup stock. The frilly leaves are edible and make a nice garnish for potato salad or roasted vegetables.
Cooking with Fennel:
   
Baked
: Slice 2 fennel bulbs into ½ inch thick slices. Arrange in a casserole dish. Poke 2 cloves of sliced garlic amongst the fennel. Crumble ½ cup blue cheese on top. Cover and bake 20–30 minutes at 375 degrees.
    Souped: Fennel works well in either a pureed soup or a chunky vegetable soup. It is particularly nice (and adds a very subtle flavor) in a pureed carrot or potato soup (or even potato-leek soup).

Potatoes
    Last week, I noticed that carrots and potatoes are starting to accumulate in the trade boxes at some sites. I will assume that is because carrots and potatoes are starting to pile up in some of your kitchens? Roasting is a great way to cook any root vegetables, particularly carrots and potatoes. When I was in Ohio visiting my parents earlier this month, I found the following recipe stuck on my mother’s refrigerator. Here’s a new twist on the standard roasted root recipe:
Sweet & Sour Winter Vegetables

4 cups raw diced root vegetables
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
 Tbs fresh rosemary Salt & Pepper
2 Tbs Maple syrup
2 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar
¼ cup chicken or vegetable broth
    Toss Roots with oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes, stirring once or twice until the vegetables are tender. Meanwhile, combine syrup, vinegar, and broth. Simmer vigorously for 5 minutes to reduce volume. When vegetables are tender, drizzle the syrup-vinegar mixture over the roots and bake 5 more minutes.

Fuyu Persimmons
    If you didn’t get last week’s box, please check last week’s newsletter (below) for information about persimmons. Briefly, these are fuyu persimmons, which can be eaten when firm—but I think they’re best when they are starting to soften and are about as soft as a ripe peach.

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Denison Farms Early Winter Harvest Box 2007: Week 3

Week 3: 1 bunch Arugula, 1 bunch Tat Soy, 2# carrots (Groundwork Organics), 1 Butternut Squash, 2 Green Peppers, 3# Fingerling Potatoes, 2# Sweet Potatoes, 4 Fuyu Persimmons, 3# Asian Pears ( from Gala Springs)

Arugula
    Twenty years ago arugula was virtually unknown, used more as a mysterious flavor in some of the most chic restaurants in the country. Now we have people asking for it every week at the Farmers Markets, and some people even seem addicted to its unique and spicy flavor. Some food cultures have been appreciating arugula for a long time. Years ago, Tom had an Iranian friend who planted some in his winter garden, along with cress and parsley for greens through the winter. If you enjoy the strong, peppery flavor of raw arugula, it makes a fine salad—I suggest the following
Balsamic-Garlic Vinaigrette (from Fields of Greens by Annie Somerville):
¼ cup balsamic vinegar 
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
¼ cup olive oil.
    Combine everything but the oil in a small bowl, then gradually whisk in the oil. With it’s strong flavor, arugula combines well with flavorful cheeses. For a complete arugula salad, I would add olives and crumbled goat cheese. For arugula sandwiches, layer arugula leaves with slices of sharp cheddar on your favorite sandwich bread. Tom prefers his arugula mellowed by a bit of cooking. As with many of the stronger flavored greens, cooking (or even just warming enough to wilt the greens) will make the flavors more mellow. Chef Intaba at Fireworks restaurant in Corvallis places arugula leaves on each plate before serving the entrée. The arugula gets slightly wilted by the heat of the entrée. At home, we will put a handful of finely chopped arugula into a bowl of brothy soup at the table. Or, arugula can be substituted for basil in your favorite pesto recipe.

Fuyu Persimmons
    There are two major types of persimmons in the world, Astringent persimmons (like Hachiya types and our native North American persimmons) must be very soft before they are eaten, or else the water-soluble tannins in the flesh will make your mouth pucker. Non-astringent persimmons (like the Fuyu-types in today’s box) are usually eaten while still firm. I think they are best when they give slightly to pressure—you’re looking for the same softness as a ripe peach or mango. If the persimmons in your box have the hardness of an apple, you might consider adding them to your Thanksgiving centerpiece, and checking them every few days until they are starting to soften. We like to eat persimmons as a dessert fruit when they have the softness and texture of a ripe mango. We cut the persimmon like an apple, remove the tiny center core, and cut into about six wedges. They can be peeled if you wish. Persimmons can also be used in place of mangoes if you have a recipe for mango salsa, and I really like persimmon chunks in my morning oats. If you lose track of your persimmons and find them next week, they may be as soft as jelly (the way you would prefer Hachiya persimmons). In this state, you can spoon out the soft, sweet pulp and it as a lovely topping for vanilla ice cream or waffles.

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Denison Farms Early Winter Harvest Box 2007: Week 2

Week 2: 2# carrots (Groundwork Organics), 1 bunch radishes, 1 Celery (Groundwork Organics), 3# Desiree potatoes (a favorite red potato in Europe—good for soups and stews), 1 sweet pepper, 3 leeks, 1 basket cherry tomatoes or raspberries, 1 Sunshine squash, 3# Cameo Apples (Cameo is a lot like Gala, but crisper and tangier, says Shane Baker from Gala Springs, grower of these apples)

        In the fall, our natural sweet cravings may shift from the fruits of summer to the rich, sweet “fruits” of autumn—the winter squashes. I’m currently reading a new book by Barbara Kingsolver (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) in which she chronicles her 12-month commitment to eat ONLY local food. She has a really funny chapter about winter squashes. In the fall, her local paper featured an entire page of winter squash recipes—all of which call for “1 can (15 oz) pumpkin.”  Kingsolver jokes that every shopping list will have “1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin: for pie, and 1 giant winter squash: for doorstop”.  What a shame if we have forgotten the ease with which these local delicacies can be turned into bread, muffins, pies, and soups! If you have any favorite or family recipe that calls for 1 (15 oz.) can of pumpkin, I guarantee it will be better if you use fresh cooked, sweet, local winter squash. Substitute 2 cups of cooked, mashed squash for 1 can pumpkin.
        For new members, or those who have misplaced previous newsletters, check our web site Week 20 for cooking instructions for your sunshine squash. Here’s a new recipe for pumpkin bread given to me by Sally, one of our Beaverton Market staffers. I have been making this recipe nearly every other day the past two weeks!

Pumpkin Bread
2 cups flour, 1/3 cup water, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/3 cup oil, ¼ tsp baking soda, 2 eggs, ½ tsp salt, ¼ cup maple syrup, ½ tsp ground nutmeg, ½ tsp vanilla, 1 cup mashed cooked winter squash, ½ cup walnuts or other nuts, ¼ cup raisins

Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients together with nuts and raisins. Add dry to wet and stir just until blended. Spread into a greased and floured or sprayed loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Makes 1 large loaf. Also can be made into muffins.  

        This Leek pie recipe that follows came from a Corvallis market customer years ago. It continues to be one of my very favorite recipes. Over the years, I have tried a wide variety of modifications, one of my favorites being to sauté cabbage (or carrots, or last week’s Bok Choy) along with the leeks. Then it becomes a mystery vegetable pie, and my kids love it!

Leek Pie
3 large leeks, cleaned and sliced into thin rings
2 Tbs. butter ½ lb. Crumbled Roquefort or grated gruyere cheese
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup plain yogurt or heavy cream
pie dough for a double crust pie

Sauté leek rings in butter on medium heat for 30 minutes. (Yes, 30 minutes. Cover or lower the heat if it seems to be getting too dry. You don’t want to brown the leeks, just let them “melt”). Add cheese, egg, and yogurt or cream. Pour into pie crust. Cover with top crust. Bake at 350o for 35-40 minutes.

To clean a leek: using a large, sharp knife, slice the leek lengthwise. Then rinse the leek halves under running water to rinse out any bits of dirt that have accumulated in between the leaves.
Leek storage: Leeks keep well in the refrigerator (Tom says that although everything is better when it’s fresh, leeks will keep more than 2 weeks in the fridge). Wrap lightly in a plastic bag to maintain moisture.

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Denison Farms Early Winter Harvest Box 2007: Week 1

Week 1: 1 # Tomatoes, 1 or 2 Baby Bok Choy, 1 Onion (from Groundwork Organics), 1 bu Carrots (Groundwork Organics), 3# Butterball Potatoes, 1 Ripe Sweet Pepper, 1 Delicata squash, 1 clam Raspberries or Strawberries, 3# Liberty Apples (from LaMancha Ranch & Orchard)

Welcome
        Welcome to our Early Winter Harvest Box. The popularity of our winter box has been overwhelming. We’re heartened to see how many people are really interested in eating local produce, and willing to keep your food choices local! We apologize for any late confirmations, but we got a bit behind in the office. Returning members may recognize some of this winter’s recipes, because I do have some favorites that I just have to repeat for the benefit of the new members. If you’ve lost your favorite recipe from a previous newsletter, you can view all previous newsletters on our web site (from the home page, choose CSA Newsletters). The weekly newsletter is usually posted the week AFTER your box, so don’t forget to pick up a newsletter every week when you cross off your name.
        On our farm right now we’re picking the last of the sweet summer fruits.  This may be the final week for tomatoes, peppers, and berries. Our winter crops look good—there is a lovely full stand of teenage cabbages next to the driveway that I get to see every time I drive onto the farm. But this time of year, there’s so little light (and warmth) that plants grow very slowly. Root crops recognize the seasonal shift, and they start storing sugars in their roots—which makes things like carrots really sweet this time of year.
        Since we have so many members this winter, we’re going to need some help from our friends to fill the boxes each week. We’re grateful that our farming friends can help us keep your boxes interesting, and the produce we buy from them helps support their families as well. Any of you who have been members with us before are familiar with Gabe and Sophie at Groundwork Organics because we have been cooperating with them ever since Gabe worked for us years ago. Groundwork Organic farm is just north of Eugene along the Willamette River. We had a crop failure in our fall carrots, but I can’t live without my daily carrots. So, I’m thrilled that Gabe and Sophie have lots of carrots at the moment. I ask for a few extra bunches when we order carrots for your box for my personal supply. David Landis and Anita Azaranko from La Mancha Ranch and Orchards are also regular contributors to our fall and winter boxes. They grow many kinds of apples, but they are best known for their Liberties. Liberty’s are bursting with juicy, sweet-tart, old-fashioned apple flavor. Liberties are great for fresh eating.

Nutty Delicata Bake
        Most of the time, I simply bake my squash and eat it plain or with a little butter, but I saw this recipe in the newspaper from the Corvallis First Alternative Co-op last year, and even though it sounded like an odd assortment of ingredients, I tried it and loved it!

2 small or 1 large delicata squash, cut into ¾” chunks (3 cups of squash chunks)
½ cup almonds or filberts, chopped coarsely
¼ cup chopped dried tomatoes soaked in oil
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped salt and pepper to taste

        Mix all ingredients, stirring to blend and to coat the vegetables with olive oil. Bake, covered in a 9 x 13” pan at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the cover. Stir to loosen the bits from the bottom of the pan. Bake 10 additional minutes uncovered. Serves 4.  
***important note: I have written the recipe as it was in the original source, but when I made this dish, I cooked it for about twice as long as suggested here. My suggestion is to bake covered 20 – 40 minutes until the squash is tender (a knife passes easily through the pieces), then stir and bake an additional 10-15 minutes uncovered.


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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007: Week 22
Final Week of Summer Box

In this box: ½# salad mix, 1# Tomatoes, 1 bunch Kale, 1# Onions (from Groundwork Organics), 1 bu Carrots (Groundwork), 3# Butterball Potatoes, 2# Sweet Potatoes, 1 clam Cherry Tomatoes (Eat the ripest ones first, the rest will ripen up on your kitchen counter), 3# Asian Pears (from Gala Springs Orchard)

End of the Season
        This is officially the final box of our Summer Harvest Box season. Although many of you are continuing on with our Early Winter Season (which starts November 6th), I feel this is the appropriate time to thank you for your commitment to eat local, organic produce this season. We hope you have enjoyed watching the progression from early- to mid- to late-summer in your box and having a connection to our farm (and family).  Thank you for choosing our harvest box this year.

Sweet Potatoes
        Yes, it is possible to grow sweet potatoes in the Willamette Valley. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. The hardest thing is that sweet potatoes really like long, hot summers, and Corvallis just doesn’t offer quite enough heat for sweet potatoes to be really happy.  Our trick is to plant them as soon as the soil has really warmed up (typically mid-June), and leave them in the ground as long as possible. We dug our sweet potatoes in a hurry a few weeks ago as the cold rains were starting to soak the farm and cool down the soil. Then we put all the (unwashed) sweet potatoes in ventilated crates and stacked them in a dry, heated room in our barn. We turned the heat up to 90 degrees for exactly one week to “cure” the tubers—sweeten them up, and harden the skins so they will keep. If stored well, they should keep for several months. I’m not suggesting that you save these potatoes for that long, but it means that we should have sweet potatoes once or twice in the Early Winter boxes, and hopefully all winter for our Corvallis Indoor Farmers Markets. Sweet potatoes should NEVER be refrigerated, as any temperature below 50 degrees will cause them to rot.
        This summer was relatively cool (even for Oregon), so a lot of our sweet potatoes are small. Our family loves the little ones. We call them “baby bakers”. Here’s what we do with them: scrub the tubers and coat with a little olive oil or coconut oil. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until they are really soft and the house starts to smell like sweet potatoes. Cool just enough so you can handle them, and serve. We eat them, skins and all, with our fingers, as you would a french fry.

Kale
        There are lots of varieties of Kale in the world. The bunch in your box today is Winter Hardy Kale—a new variety for us this year.  The seeds were given to us by our friend Steve West who grew them in his garden in South Corvallis.  Steve says that true to it’s name, it produces all winter no matter how cold it gets. Full-size kale leaves are usually cooked (although we put small tender kale leaves in our salad mix). For a simple preparation that enhances the texture and flavor of kale, coarsely chop the leaves (and stems) and steam or saute for 4-5 minutes. If you’re sauteeing, add some chopped onion or garlic. Then layer into lasagne, stuff into an omelet, dollop on top of pizza (then bake the pizza), or simply dress with your favorite vinaigrette dressing and eat your greens.

Important notes
This is the final summer Harvest Box.
Our Early Winter Box begins next Tues. 11/6.
Call the farm if you have any questions.
If you have mailed in your application in the past few days, it may not be processed yet.
We are still accepting members for the winter season, but please call as soon as possible so we know how many boxes to plan for.
If you are extending your membership for only your vacation credit weeks, let us know when you want your box(es).

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007: Week 21

In this box: ½# salad mix, ½# spinach (Saturday) or 1 bunch Beets (Midweek), 1 bunch radishes (from Groundwork  Farm-- Radishes are excellent in  a stir-fry, 1 bunch Mizuna (the most mild-flavored green in the mustard family) 3# Fingerling Potatoes, 1 piece SweetMeat squash, 1 basket raspberries, 3# Liberty Apples (from LaMancha Ranch and Orchard in Sweet Home) Liberty is a crisp, juicy sweet-tart apple, and the perfect “lunchbox” size.

Sweetmeat Squash
        Sweetmeat squash is an heirloom winter squash variety—and they tend to run really large. So as not to overwhelm anyone with a 10-pound squash, we have cut the squash down to a manageable size. Once cut, squash will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. I know I told you last week about making pie from Sunshine squash. Well, I spoke too soon, because I made a pie from sweetmeat this week, and it was even better. It required no extra sweetening for my family. If you don’t feel like making a pie crust this week, here’s my recipe for Sweetmeat custard cups (it’s a standard pumpkin pie recipe that I modified to be dairy-free, without the piecrust).
        Start by baking the squash until soft (350 degrees for about an hour). Since the sweetmeat may be cut into an odd shape, you might cover the baking pan with foil to keep the moisture in. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the insides and mash. Take 2 cups of mashed squash meat. Add 1 can coconut milk, 2 beaten eggs, ½ teaspoon of salt, 1 tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. ginger, ¼ tsp. nutmeg or allspice, 1/8 tsp. cloves. Pour the mixture into lined muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

Potatoes
        We don’t actually eat many potatoes at our house, because our youngest son gets a rash from them. However, our older son really likes potatoes, and we have some really great varieties, so I’ve been cooking up potatoes for after school snacks this week. Now that the weather is cooler, it feels like potato weather—and they are so versatile. Boiled potatoes with butter, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, fried potatoes, pureed potato soup, chunky potato stew…..I will try to let you know which cooking method/recipe is best with each week’s potato variety.
        If you end up with several week’s worth of potatoes in the refrigerator, you can always roast them together for a nice effect. Even if the potatoes have very different textures, roasting a mixture (and possibly topping with grated cheese when hot from the oven) will yield excellent results.
        This week’s Banana potato is a gourmet fingerling variety. They can be roasted (whole or chunked) or used in stews. However, their delicate and slightly nutty flavor is really delicious just steamed (over salted water for 12-15 minutes) and dressed with butter.
        Store potatoes away from light—if exposed to light, they will turn green and be inedible.In a paper bag on the counter is fine for up to a week. Refrigerate for longer storage.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007: Week 20

In this box: ½# spinach, 2 baby bok choy, 1# small Beefsteak OR 1 bskt cherry, tomatoes, 1 Sunshine Squash, 2 Sweet Bell Peppers, 3# White Rose Potatoes (White Rose has a flaky texture like a russet, and is good just boiled in salted water then buttered, or roasted, baked, or hashed), 1 bskt strawberries, 3# Liberty Apples (from LaMancha Ranch and Orchard in Sweet Home) Liberty is a crisp, juicy sweet-tart apple

Sunshine Squash
        Sunshine squash is a versatile and tasty winter squash. Sunshine can be baked or steamed, then mashed, souped, curried, or made into a lovely pie. If you know a lot about winter squash, you may recognize the shape of Sunshine—it looks like the more familiar green Kubocha or orange Amber Cup. However, in our taste tests, we find Sunshine sweeter and more moist than those other varieties.
        Baking instructions: cut squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake cut-side down in a baking pan with about ½” of water at 350 degrees for about an hour. Then scoop out the insides when cool enough to handle, and follow your favorite squash recipe. We like to mash sunshine with coconut milk for a slightly exotic and sweet side dish. It’s practically like a dessert.
        Sunshine squash can also be steamed. For steaming, cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, then cut each half into thin sections. When cooked, the skin is soft enough to be eaten, so you don’t need to peel it.

Greens
        Baby bok choy is a mild-flavored green that is great for stir-fry’s. I like to eat the crunchy white stems raw (the juicy texture reminds me of celery) while I prepare the leafy part for a stir-fry. Baby bok choy pairs nicely with spinach—you can combine them in a salad, or cook them together in any recipe. If you need a simple and easy greens recipe, here’s my all-time favorite recipe for all kinds of greens:

Hot and Sour Greens (from Andrew Weil, 8 Weeks to Optimum Health) 1 bunch greens (chard, collards, kale, spinach, tat soy, shungiku or bok choy), 2 tsp. canola oil, 2 cloves garlic, minced dash of red pepper flakes, ¼ tsp. dry mustard, 2 Tbs. rice vinegar, 1 tsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. brown sugar

Rinse and slice greens in ½ inch shreds.
Heat oil, stir-fry garlic and pepper flakes 1 minute.
Add greens and mustard powder.
Stir to coat greens with garlic and oil.
Combine rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar. Add to skillet.
Cook, covered, over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
 ~I just realized, your sweet peppers would go very nicely in this greens recipe. I would sauté the peppers first until they are quite soft and even starting to brown a bit before adding the garlic and proceeding with the recipe. 

Important notes
This is the 20th of 22 boxes.
If you are not continuing for Early Winter, your last box will be 10/30 (or 10/31 for Corvallis Wednesday pick-up).
Our Early Winter Box will begin Tuesday November 6th.
Winter Box Registration is included on the back of this newsletter.
If you have vacation credits, and you want to extend your summer membership for only your credit weeks, please send in a registration form indicating what weeks you want a box. If you are getting only the boxes for which you have credit, no membership fee is necessary, but we do need the registration form!

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Denison Farms Harvest Book 2007: Week 19

In this box: ½# Salad mix, 1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, 1 cabbage, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 bunch Golden Chard, 1.5# Parsnips (from Groundwork Organics), 1 bunch red scallions, (from Groundwork  Organics), 1 bskt gold raspberries, 3# Cameo Apples from Gala Springs Orchard

<>Parsnips and fall weather
        Now it is truly October. The rains are more frequent, and the air is colder. On the farm, we’re anxiously watching the weather forecasts, and judging how much of a break we’ll have between rainstorms. There’s a lot to do this time of year, and the rain is not always helpful. October is the month when we need to plant our garlic, onions, and fava bean seeds for next spring. Our garlic seed has arrived, and the sooner we plant it, the more time it will have to grow before the really short days of winter arrive. If the ground is too wet, we have to plant by hand—which is messy and time-consuming.  
        This is also the time of year to harvest our long-season crops. On Wednesday, our crew took advantage of a break in the showers to harvest our sweet potato crop. They dug over 900 pounds of sweet potatoes, but a short rain shower made the field so slick that the truck got stuck. They had to pull it out of the mud with a tractor. (Sweet potatoes need to “cure” in a warm, dry place for a few weeks to achieve their maximum sweetness, so you won’t see them in your box until later this month). Winter squash is less messy, because the squash are on the ground surface instead of underground, but I saw the crew gently wiping the mud off each squash as they picked it up. We still have a lot of potatoes in the ground, and we hope we’ll have some dry breaks so we can drive our potato digger through the field and not dig them all up by hand.  
        And this box feels like a winter box: greens are back (Golden Chard is nice sautéed in olive oil and dressed with a splash of balsamic vinegar, or cooked any way you would cook spinach). I’ll talk more about greens next week, as we’ll likely put a bunch of greens in each of the next several boxes. And some of you may be very excited about parsnips (others may be wondering what those weird white carrots are doing in your box.). Parsnips are in the same family as carrots, celery, and parsley.

Parsnips are perhaps the sweetest root vegetable in this group, and they have a distinctive flavor. They can be enjoyed steamed, roasted, or sautéed. One of the simplest ways to enjoy parsnips is steamed until soft, then mashed with butter. I prefer to cut mine into slices or sticks and sauté in butter until browned (this tastes best with quite a bit of butter). They also grill or roast well. One cookbook suggests roasting French-fry sized pieces at 350 degrees until soft, yet firm, then brushing with butter and cinnamon. Serve warm. (I didn’t have a chance to try this, but I think the cinnamon would be nice).

< style="font-weight: bold;">Important notes
<>
<>This is the 19th of 22 boxes.
<>Your membership continues until the end of October.
<>Our Early Winter Box will begin Tuesday November 6th.  Winter Box Registration is included on the back of this form.
 

<>The Cedar Hills—North Beaverton site is full

There are still plenty of spaces at our other Portland area sites. If you have vacation credits, and you want to extend your summer membership for only your credit weeks, please send in a registration form indicating what weeks you want a box. If you are getting only the boxes for which you have credit, no membership fee is necessary, but we do need the registration form!

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007: Week 18

In this box: ½# Spinach, 1# small or tiny Beef Tomatoes, 1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, 1 Delicata Squash, 2 Leeks, 3# Russian Banana Potatoes, 2 Sweet Italian Peppers, 1 bskt Strawberries or raspberries, 3# Cameo Apples from Gala Springs Orchard

My how we’ve grown
        I remember our first year of Harvest Box—10 years ago. In those days, I was in the packing shed with Carson (then a baby) in a backpack, filling boxes on Tuesday afternoons. In our first year, we had fewer than 60 boxes, and two of us could pack boxes in a couple of hours. Now, we have nearly 300 boxes (serving almost 400 families), and it takes a crew of 6 people several hours to fill all the boxes (two people are needed for box washing alone). It’s a great scene; about 6 long tables are set up in the middle of the packing shed. Then the tables are filled with about 20 empty boxes. With a rhythm that reminds me of a choreographed dance, our packing crew fills box after box with the bounty of the week. On occasion, one item gets left out of a box, and we’re sorry if that has happened to you. Last week, we entirely forgot to put cherry tomatoes in any of the boxes on the Albany/Salem truck. Someone found the 25 flats of cherry tomatoes that we had set aside for the Harvest Boxes just before the Corvallis truck was scheduled to leave. We hurriedly put full flats on the truck—and we were still late to the drop-off.
        In order to fill 300 boxes a week, it takes a substantial amount of produce. I was asking our farm manager what kind of potatoes we had for this week’s box, and I realized that we need roughly 900 pounds of potatoes (that’s about 40 of our Harvest Box totes full of potatoes) for one week of Harvest Box. Similarly, we need 25 flats of raspberries, strawberries, or cherry tomatoes each week that we put those items in the box. Sometimes the sheer volume of produce needed to fill the boxes is staggering, and we need to plan well to not run short. I really don’t know if we can pick enough strawberries for everyone this week—with the weather so cool, berries are ripening slowly. If we don’t have enough strawberries, we’ll try to put in raspberries.

Sweet Italian Peppers are at their best when sautéed in olive oil with sweet onions (or leeks) until they are quite soft, or even starting to brown. Then toss with pasta and add cheese for a light meal. They are also easy to roast, and make sweet chiles rellenos.
        Some years, we have an excess of sweet peppers, and can put a large bag in each box. That is unlikely to happen this year. If you need to order a quantity to put in your freezer for the winter, call the farm to arrange a special order.


Important notes

This is the 18th of 22 boxes. Your membership continues until the end of October. Notes and reminders about the rest of the summer season:
  1. What happens if you forget to pick up your box on Tuesday afternoon?    You can still pick up your box! If you’re in Albany or Salem, unclaimed boxes will remain at the drop site until at least Wednesday at Noon. After that, they are donated to local families in need. In Corvallis, boxes return to the farm. You can call us to arrange a late pick-up.
  2. The Trade Box is intended for exchanges. If you take something out, please put something back in. That way even the last people to pick up their box will have some choice if they wish to trade.
  3. <>
<>Winter box registration is underway. Registration information is included on the back of this newsletter. Please note: last week I gave the incorrect address for the North Corvallis Winter Pickup site. The correct address (which is the same as the summer pick-up site) is included on the back of this newsletter. If you have vacation credits, and you want to extend your summer membership for only your credit weeks, please send in a registration form indicating what weeks you want a box. If you are getting only the boxes for which you have credit, no membership fee is necessary, but we do need the registration form!

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007: Week 17

In this box: 1 bunch Carrots, ½# Sweet Onions, 3# Purple Viking potatoes (these make  really creamy mashed  potatoes, or excellent  potato salad), 2 Ripe Bell Peppers, 1# Heirloom Tomatoes, 1 pint cherry tomatoes, 2 Sweet Dumpling Squash, 1 bskt Gold Raspberries or Strawberries, 1.5# Canadice Grapes (from Reynolds Farm, Corvallis)

Seasons change
        This week I noticed that our 16-year old barn cat has returned to her south-facing barn window for long naps during the day. She spent all summer hanging out at the front door of our house, ever hopeful that she might be invited inside some day. Now that the weather has turned cooler, she has returned to the sunny window in the upstairs of our barn.
        On the farm, we are noticing that the days are much shorter than they were just a month ago. We need a light to setup for early morning markets, and the crew is going home by 8 PM because it is too dark to work in the fields. Peppers and tomatoes are ripening much more slowly, and our fall raspberries are starting to produce a nice crop. These Golden Raspberries are my favorite. I’m glad they are growing just outside the office door, so I can grab a quick handful when I need a sweet snack. 
        Now that there are fewer tomatoes and peppers to pick, our on-farm crew is catching up on weeding. Today they swarmed the leek field for the second time since the leeks were planted, hoeing the weeds by hand. The fields look so nice when they are freshly weeded, and you can see nicely cultivated soil between the young plants. We’ve also been removing tired plants from cucumber, pole bean, and strawberry cold frames and planting spinach, lettuce, and other greens for the winter. Speaking of winter,


Registration Information for our Early Winter Harvest Box:
Pick-up sites will be the same as for the summer box, but drop-off times will be a little different. If you have vacation credits, and you want to extend your summer membership for only your credit weeks, please send in a registration form indicating what weeks you want a box.

Winter Squash
        Today’s delicata squash is the first of several varieties of winter squash that you will see in your boxes this fall. All of our winter squashes have yellow or orange flesh, which means they are rich in vitamin A. Winter squashes are also sweet, which makes them popular at our house. Delicata squash can be steamed or baked. To steam, cut in half lengthwise (this takes a large and sturdy knife). Then scoop out the seeds. Cut each half into ½” smile-shaped pieces, and steam over boiling water for 10 minutes or until tender. I like to serve my steamed delicata with a little butter, but I don’t usually add extra sweetening because they are so sweet. To bake, cut the squash in half and remove the seeds as for steaming, but then leave the halves intact. Place cut side down in a baking pan, add about ¼-inch of water, and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes, or until very soft.
        Stuffed squash is easy: Prepare delicata as if for baking. Place cut side up in a baking dish, stuff with your favorite meat or vegetarian or seasoned rice filling, and bake until the filling is done and the squash is tender. While you’re at it, you can cut the top out of your peppers, take out the seeds, and stuff them with the same filling. Bake it all in the same dish, and there’s a one-dish dinner for the family. 
       
Tip of the week: you can eat the skin of delicata squash (and of most winter squashes!). When cooked, the skins are tender.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007: Week 16

In this box: ½# salad mix, ½# spinach (from Groundwork Organics), 1 bunch carrots, 2# Russian Banana Fingerling potatoes (wouldn’t these be lovely roasted whole...), ½# Sweet Pimento Peppers, 3#  tomatoes, ¾# Romano Beans 1 basket Japanese plums or French Petite Prunes

Salsa
        Our abundance of tomatoes continues. Tomato plants are really amazing. Many of the tomatoes we grow are called indeterminate. That means the plants keep growing up, and keep making tomatoes at the top of the plant. Some of our plants have been producing tomatoes since early June, and they’re still growing. The plants are taller than I am. The earliest and latest tomatoes on a plant are smaller than the ones in the middle, but the later tomatoes that have seen a lot of sun during their ripening are very sweet!
        This week I’ve been thinking about salsa, so I started looking through my cookbook collection. I was surprised that many of my older, classic cookbooks (Joy of Cooking, for example) don’t even mention salsa! I did find that salsa sales in the U.S. surpassed ketchup sales about 15 years ago.
        So, what makes a salsa? In my own mind, I think of salsa as any variation of a fresh tomato-based condiment to enliven anything from eggs to baked potatoes, to pasta or rice, to chips. Salsa is a great way to add color and nutrition to your meals. My salsas are chunky because I chop everything by hand, but I’ve seen some smooth salsas as well that have been prepared in a food processor. Many familiar salsas are spicy, but I prefer mine on the sweet and pungent side. I use tomatoes and sweet peppers for sweetness, onions or garlic for pungency, a handful of greenery (basil, cilantro, or parsley) for interest, and a touch of salt to enhance the flavors. The quantities can vary depending on what you have on hand. If you want a spicy salsa, just add one finely diced jalapeno pepper.
        Here’s a quick dinner idea from Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert—Much like a salsa, you don’t even cook the sauce! 

Fresh Tomato and Basil Pasta
4 large cloves garlic (minced)
2 pounds tomatoes (chopped, seeded, and drained)
½ cup fresh basil (chopped)
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Combine and let stand at room temperature 1-2 hours.

1 pound whole wheat pasta shells or ziti.

<><><><>Cook according to package directions.
Combine hot pasta and sauce.  Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese or feta cheese.  Serve immediately.<>< style="font-style: italic;">

Pimento peppers
        Yes, these are the kind of peppers you find pickled and stuffed inside olives. When fresh, pimentos are much like a sweet bell pepper, but their flesh is thicker and juicier.  These would be great roasted with the Russian Banana potatoes. Just cut peppers into chunks, take out the seeds, and add to a roasting pan with scrubbed potatoes, a touch of salt and olive oil. Roast at 350 degrees until potatoes are tender.

Prunes and Plums
        Some boxes have Japanese Purple Plums (larger) and some have French Petite Prunes. The petite prunes tend to get slightly wrinkled when they are at their peak. Don’t worry if yours are wrinkled at the stem end. I think the wrinkled ones are the sweetest.


Good Job!

I have noticed that nearly all the boxes are returning to the farm clean. Thank you! It saves our on-farm crew a lot of time if they just have to give the boxes a quick rinse before filling them again the next week.  If you have been accumulating boxes at your house, please bring them back soon. We’re running short on our box supply.  Thanks.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007: Week 15

In this box: 1 Lettuce, 1 bunch Basil, 1 or 2 Eggplants (from Groundwork Organics), 3#  tomatoes, 1 basket pink grape or mini Roma tomatoes, 2 Red Bell peppers, 1# Sweet Onions, 1# Summer Squash, 3# Pears: Bartlett or Abate Fatel (from Gala Springs Orchard)

These are a few of my favorite things
        One of the things I like about being a small farmer in the Willamette Valley is the other farmers that have become our friends over the years. We have developed a community of farming friends who cooperate with each other in a lot of ways. You may have noticed we occasionally include produce from some other organic growers in your box. These other farmers are our friends. Some have worked on our farm before striking out on their own (Jamie at Springhill Farm, Gabe at Groundwork Organics), and some are friends that we have met because we sell at the same Farmer’s Markets (like Shane Baker from Gala Springs Orchard—Tom sees him in Beaverton every Saturday). We benefit from our cooperation in many ways, from having a more interesting Harvest Box to co-purchasing supplies like strawberry baskets or seed potatoes to save freight costs.
        Some other farming friends of ours are the Wood family. They used to grow vegetables, particularly melons, on their farm near Jefferson. About 10 years ago, they transitioned their farm to growing eggs and meat. Now they have lamb, pork, beef, and eggs, and they even make soap from their own lard!  We see them every Saturday at the Corvallis Farmers Market. At the end of the day, they take all our trimmings (carrot tops, cauliflower leaves, lettuce trimmings) and take it home for their pigs. We feel happy that someone is using our compost, and “Ben the Boar” is very happy with the fresh produce!


Recipe of the week
:

Caponata (Sicilian Sweet-Sour Vegetables)
2 eggplants, cut into ½” cubes, salt, 10 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped, 1 anchovy fillet, chopped, 3 ripe, medium tomatoes (about 1 lb), cored, peeled, and coarsely chopped, 2 ribs celery, thinly sliced crosswise, ¼ cup red wine vinegar, 2 Tbs. sugar, 2 Tbs. tomato paste, 2 Tbs. golden raisins, 2 Tbs. pine nuts, 2 Tbs. capers, rinsed, 12 pitted green olives, coarsely chopped, 1 red bell  pepper, roasted, peeled, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced, Freshly ground pepper, 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped basil, 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

  1. Put eggplant into a colander set over a large bowl, toss with 1 Tbs. salt. Top with a plate weighted down with several large cans, let drain for 1 hour. Rinse eggplant and pat dry with paper towels. Heat 2 Tbs. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add one-third of the eggplant and cook until golden brown, 7-8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggplant to a bowl. Repeat with oil and remaining eggplant.  
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and add remaining oil, onions, and anchovies; cook until soft, 14-15 minutes. Add tomatoes and celery and increase heat to medium, cook until tomatoes release their juices, 5-6 minutes. Add vinegar, sugar, and tomato paste, cook until thickened, 3-4 minutes. Add cooked eggplant, raisins, pine nuts, capers, olives, roasted peppers, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until hot. Transfer to a plate, let cool slightly. Top with basil and parsley. Serve at room temperature. Serves 6. From Savoir, September 2007. Adapted from A Celebration of Southern Italian Cooking by Nancy Harmon Jenkins (Morrow, 2007).
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007: Week 14

In this box: 1 green lettuce, 2# carrots, 2# Butterball potatoes (these make great fried potatoes!), 3# beefsteak tomatoes, 1 ½# Heirloom tomatoes, 1 Gold Bell pepper, 1 Superbowl Watermelon, 3# Gala Apples (from Gala Springs Orchard)

Inspiration
        It is the end of August, and I’m walking around the farm today to get inspiration for the newsletter. Here’s what I see:

Recipe of the week:
pick up some basil and local goat cheese, or wait until next week for more basil in the box

Pasta with Herbed Goat Cheese and Cherry Tomatoes (Cooking Light magazine, July 2002)
12 oz uncooked angel hair pasta, 3 ounces (6 Tbs) garlic and herb-flavored goat cheese, 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper, 1 Tbs. olive oil, 1 ½ tsp. minced garlic, 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or 1# regular tomatoes, in chunks, 2/3 cup fat-free less-sodium chicken broth. 

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.  Drain. Place in a large bowl.
  2. Add goat cheese, basil, salt, and pepper. Stir until well blended.
  3. While pasta cooks, heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.
  4. Add tomatoes and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add broth and cook 1 minute.
  6. Add tomato mixture to pasta. Toss gently to combine. (4 servings).
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007:  Week 13

In this box: 1 lettuce, 1 cucumber (Saturday boxes) or 1 Red Bell Pepper (Midweek boxes), 1# carrots, 2# French Fingerling potatoes, 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, 3# little beefsteak tomatoes, 4 Corn (from Ground work Organics), 1 Margarita Melon, 1 Sweet Diamond Melon

Corn
        I can’t believe summer is waning. The mornings are feeling delightfully cool, our kids are going back to school in a week, and we haven’t even put corn in the box yet. Well, here’s the corn! We all love corn, but it takes a lot of space to grow a lot of corn, and we are a small farm (30 acres total). Tom didn’t get any corn planted on our farm this year because he filled all our land up with things like tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, melons, and potatoes, which produce more per acre than corn. Fortunately, our friends Gabe and Sophie at Groundwork Organics do have a lot of land, and they agreed to sell us some corn for this week’s box (Elizabeth sort of needed to beg, because they didn’t really have too much extra corn either).  
        Those members who have been with us for a while have heard us talk about Gabe and Sophie before, but for our newer members, here’s a short introduction. Gabe started working for Tom 10 years ago and after learning from us for a few years, he bought some land and started his own organic farm in Junction City. We have remained close over the years and cooperate on many things from sharing equipment to helping market each other’s produce. You have seen a few items from Gabe and Sophie this year, including their baby leeks last week, and we hope to get eggplant soon. 

Melons
        Back in the 1970’s when Tom was first starting to farm, people used to call him The Melon Man because he grew more melons than anything else.  Back then, the melons coming from California weren’t very good, and most people thought you couldn’t grow melons in the Willamette Valley. When people get their first taste of a truly picked-ripe melon, it can make quite an impression. Now there are a lot more melons grown in the Willamette Valley, and California is also producing a better product, so melons aren’t as big a part of our farm as they used to be.
         Tom still enjoys finding novel melon varieties that are different from what everyone else grows. There are so many different kinds of melons in the world that have never made it into wholesale produce distribution. Two examples are in your box today: the Sweet Diamond, which has glossy, jewel-like flesh; and the Margarita Melon with its sweet, clean taste is a local favorite.
        Our melons are picked ripe, and ready to eat. Please don’t wait until they feel soft! If you’re not going to eat your melons in the next day, refrigerate them until you are ready to eat.

Nine More Boxes: Though August is drawing to a close, we still have two more months of Harvest Boxes in this season. Your box will continue until October 31st for a total of 22 weeks. We’ll have Early Winter Box information available by mid-September. We will print all the registration information in the newsletter as soon as it is available.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007: Week 12

<>In this box: ½# Salad Mix, 1 Red Lettuce, 1 bunch Basil, 1 head Cauliflower, 1 Garlic, 1 bunch baby Leeks, (from Groundwork Organic Farm), 3# Beefsteak Tomatoes, 1.5# Heirloom Tomatoes, 2 Little Sweetie melons (flavor like butterscotch,  flesh is a swirl of orange and green. Good all the way to the rind.)

Heirloom Tomatoes
        Our plan this week is to have enough heirloom tomatoes to give everyone a sampling of several varieties. There are an overwhelming number of very unique tomatoes, and Tom spends a lot of time every winter looking through seed catalogs and on the Internet trying to find varieties that we think will grow well here and taste good. My suggestion for enjoying these heirlooms? Cut them all up and arrange on a platter. Add a tiny sprinkle of salt, a dash of balsamic vinegar, and/or a light drizzle of olive oil, and have a tomato tasting. Enjoy the variety of flavors, textures, and colors, and let us know your favorites next week!

Tomato Tart
        I have been seeing lots of variations of tomato pie recipes this summer.  I can’t put my hands on my favorite one right now, but I made a delicious tomato tart last week without really following a recipe. Directions follow. Most tomato pies call for a single piecrust. I prefer a vegetable oil-based “pat-in-the-pan” piecrust rather than a flaky, rolled crust made with shortening, as the crumbly texture of an oil-based crust is the perfect complement to this savory pie. Various recipes then add layer of grated hard cheese or crumbled feta or chevre, a layer or two of tomato slices, topped with chopped basil and garlic, and baked for 25- 30 minutes at 350 degrees. (I guess that makes it like an upside down pizza with the cheese below the tomatoes). I made a tomato tart last week without cheese (because our family is dairy-free) and didn’t miss the cheese at all! I prepared an oil-based piecrust, and filled it with a single layer of sliced tomatoes, then dotted the top of the tomatoes with a mixture of one large clove of crushed garlic and a handful of chopped basil.

Here are a couple more recipes for the abundance of beefsteak tomatoes this time of year:

Baked Parmesan tomatoes- From Eating Well (Aug/Sept 2006)
Halve tomatoes horizontally; transfer to a baking sheet cut-side up. Top with Parmesan cheese, oregano, salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and bake in a 450oF oven until the tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes for small tomatoes, slightly longer for larger ones.  

Roasted garlic and tomato salad (From my kitchen, inspired by Cooking with Caprial) (Roasted garlic instructions from From Asparagus to Zucchini)
Roast 1 head of garlic:  Heat oven to 300 degrees. Cut ¼ - ½ inch off top of garlic head to expose tips of cloves. Lay garlic head cut-side up in a small baking dish. Drizzle ½ Tbs. olive oil over the top; sprinkle on some pepper. Roast until soft, fragrant, and lightly browned, about 45 minutes. Cool completely. Squeeze cloves from the base and use a fork to dislodge flesh from skin.  
  1. <><>Cut 4 or 5 tomatoes into wedges and place in a large bowl. Coarsely chop roasted garlic and toss with tomatoes.
  2. C<><>ombine 2 Tbs. red wine or balsamic vinegar with 6 Tbs. olive oil. Toss with garlic and tomatoes. 
  3. <><>Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007: Week 11

In this box: 1 Red Butter Lettuce, 1# Carrots, 1 head Cauliflower or Broccoli, 1.5# White Zucchini, 2# White Rose or Russet Potato, 1 pint sungold cherry tomatoes, 3# BeefsteakTomatoes, 2 Red Peppers, 1 Yellow  Watermelon

Cauliflower or Broccoli
        Here’s a trick to avoid overcooking cauliflower or broccoli. Tom learned this technique from his mother. Find a small steamer or saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add ¼” of water to the bottom of the pan, and place cauliflower or broccoli florets in a steamer or directly into the pot. Cover and place over high heat until the water comes to a full boil and steam comes out from under the lid. Then turn the heat OFF and leave the pan on the hot burner for 5 minutes. (This timing works great on our electric stove, because the burner stays hot enough to keep a light steam going for the 5-minute cooking time. On a gas stove, you may need to leave the gas on extra low for 5 minutes.) Serve immediately, or plunge into ice water to quickly stop the cooking process if you want to eat it later. 

French White Zucchini
        Zucchini seems to be the darling vegetable of the summer. I say this because every time I pick up a cooking magazine, there are great zucchini recipes. Here are a couple of new ones that would be great with this week’s French White Zucchini:

Sauteed Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes, Olives, and Basil
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds zucchini (cut into ½ -inch thick slices), 2 large garlic cloves (sliced), 1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, 2 cups small cherry tomatoes (halved), 1/3 cup halved pitted Kalamata olives, ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, garlic, and rosemary. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute until zucchini is just tender, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and olives. Saute until tomatoes just begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Mix in basil and vinegar. Season vegetables to taste with salt and pepper. Transferto a bowl. Makes 6 servings. From Bon Appetit, September 2007.


Mannie’s Cold Zucchini Salad
(From Asparagus to Zucchini, Madison Area CSA Coalition)
Zucchini, canola oil, minced garlic, red wine vinegar  

Slice zucchini into thin strips lengthwise. Fry lightly in hot oil until soft throughout. Transfer zucchini to a bowl; salt lightly. Discard most of the oil in the pan. Add generous amounts of garlic and sauté lightly. Add ¼ inch of red wine vinegar to the pan and bring to a quick boil. Toss sauce with squash. Cover and refrigerate; serve in a few hours. Makes any number of servings.


"What about the plastic fruit boxes and paperboard berry baskets?"

        Many people have been asking if they can return the plastic clams and berry baskets. The answer is: maybe.  We are always happy when things can be re-used. However, only clean plastic and paperboard berry baskets are useful to us. If you think your baskets are clean enough that you wouldn’t mind receiving them back refilled, then you can bring them back and we will reuse them.  Otherwise, please recycle them.  Stay tuned for updates in the future, as the Food Safety Division at the Oregon Dept of Agriculture is currently working on new regulations for farmers. We expect more limited reuse of containers with the new rules.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007: Week 10

In this box: 1 Lettuce, 1# Carrots, 1 Bunch Basil, 1.5# Broccoli, 2# Red Potatoes, ½# Shallots, either 1 pint Mini-Roma Tomatoes (these mini-romas will be best in a few days when their color is a deeper red—then they’re great for cooking. Very intense flavor!) or 1 pint Sungold Cherry Tomatoes, 2# Beefsteak Tomatoes, 1 Guava Watermelon

Broccoli
        Have you ever thought of roasting broccoli? It’s one of my new favorite things. It’s hard to overcook broccoli by this method, because the outside of the stalks remain firm even when the insides are tender. And the floret portion becomes crispy and sweet. Here’s my technique: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut broccoli into individual “trees”. Peel and cut stems into similar-sized pieces. Coat lightly with olive oil. Here’s a trick: put cut up broccoli into a large bowl. Pour a small amount of olive oil  (2-3 Tbs.) and a light sprinkle of salt over the top and mix gently to coat all pieces. Then spread broccoli 1-layer deep in a roasting pan. The alternate method for oiling the broccoli is to spread pieces in a roasting pan first, and drizzle with olive oil, then shake the pan to distribute the oil, but I find that this leaves most of the olive oil coating the pan, not the broccoli. Roast at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, shaking after 10 and 15 minutes to make sure nothing burns. They’re done when the stems pierce easily with a sharp knife.

Basil, basil, and more basil
        
What to do besides pesto? Well, at our house, we could eat pesto once a week, so that’s not a big problem. But here are some additional ideas if your family is getting tired of pesto:

  1. Chop basil leaves and stems into soups and stews.
  2. Layer basil leaves in a sandwich with sliced tomatoes and cheese.
  3. Make pesto (recipe follows), and use pesto as a layer in lasagna, a stuffing for omelets, or a nutritious addition to mashed potatoes or mac n’ cheese.
  4. Add torn basil leaves to a green salad.
  5. Make Basil butter: Mix together ½ cup softened butter, 1 minced shallot, 2 Tbs. fresh minced basil, 1 tsp. lemon juice (optional). From Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert. <>
Basic Pesto:

Blend in a food processor until finely chopped: 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds, pine nuts, or some of each. 1 clove chopped garlic.
Then add: 1 bunch (about 2 cups) chopped basil leaves and tender stems. 1/2 tsp salt.
When finely chopped, slowly add: 1/2-2/3 cup olive oil.
Mix gently into 1# cooked pasta. (Optional: add ½ cup grated Parmesan).


Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette

½ cup basil leaves, 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots, ¼ cup water, 2 Tbs honey, 2 Tbs olive oil

Process in a blender or food processor until finely mixed. Best if left to marinate overnight. This makes a strongly-flavored salad dressing. Try it on a tomato salad, on steamed broccoli, or as a low-fat alternative to pesto on pasta.

 

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007: Week 9

 In this box: 1 Lettuce, ½# Salad Mix, 1 Red Pepper, 1 1/2# Summer Squash, 1 head Green Cabbage, 1 Red Onion (forgotten in  last week’s box), 2# Purple Viking  Potatoes, 2# Beefsteak Tomatoes, 2 pints Strawberries

        This time of year is so busy on the farm that I barely have time to cook and eat the explosion of produce that is ripe right now. I bring in armloads of tomatoes, but the only ones that get eaten are the cherry tomatoes that I can grab as I pass through the kitchen on the way somewhere else. However, if I did have the time to cook this week, this is what I would do……

More ideas for summer squash: (my two favorite recipes appeared in the Week 7 newsletter, available on the web site)
  1. Substitute zucchini for grated potato in a potato pancake recipe.
  2. Grill zucchini halves or skewer and grill chunks of zucchini (anything on a skewer is popular with my kids!).
  3. Grate or thinly slice zucchini and dress with lemon juice, olive oil, one clove of smashed garlic, and capers.
  4. Grate and freeze in a zip-lock bag for winter cakes and muffins.
  5. Add a layer of zucchini slices to a lasagna casserole.
  6. Sauté zucchini (with or without onion, pepper & cabbage) until just tender (larger chunks maintain better texture). Gently mix with vinaigrette dressing and serve at room temperature. Make a simple casserole: Layer squash slices alternately with onion slices, bread crumbs, (and optional cheese). Repeat for a total of 3 layers. Top with butter. Cook at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly.
  7. If you’re feeling like cooking something more complicated, try:
Double Chocolate Zucchini Cake (From Asparagus to Zucchini, Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition) 
¾ cup oil
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups grated zucchini
½ cup sour milk or buttermilk
3 Tbs. cocoa or carob powder
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. each cinnamon and cloves
2 ½ cups flour
1 small bag of chocolate or carob chips
    Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan. Mix all ingredients and bake 30-35 minutes. Makes 16 servings. Summer squash is approximately 94 % water, very low in calories, and a great source of vitamins A and C, potassium, and calcium.  Stores best in a plastic bag or hydrator drawer in refrigerator up to a week.


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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007: Week 8

In this box: 1 Romaine lettuce, 1# Romano Beans (yellow or green), 1 red onion, 1 bunch Carrots, 2# Beefsteak tomatoes, 1 pint grape tomatoes, 1 pint strawberries, 1 pint blueberries (from  Nature’s Fountain).

        I’ve got to tell you about these pole beans. We grow these green and yellow Italian Pole Beans on 6-foot high wire trellises in covered hoop houses. Even though the rows are 5 feet apart, the vines grow so fast that we have to go through the houses every week with a machete just to keep the paths between the rows open. Our oldest son, who will be 10 next month, has been reading the Harry Potter books this summer. Near the end of the first book, there is a magical plant that grows so fast that it ensnares people who happen to fall on it. Walking through the bean house makes that seem almost believable.
        Since we don’t have enough beans to give everyone a large portion each week, I thought it would be nice to include beans two weeks in a row. Your box will have either yellow or green beans. Either color can be used in all the same recipes. Here’s one of my favorites:

Green Beans with Red Onion and Mustard Seed Vinaigrette
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. yellow mustard seeds
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1 lb. green beans

  1. Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in a heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Cook 2 Tbs. mustard seeds, stirring, until they pop and are 1 shade darker, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in a cleaned skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook 1/2 red onion stirring, until golden brown (8-10 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar, then add to mustard seed and oil in large bowl.  
  3. Have ready a large bowl of ice and cold water. Cook 1 lb. green beans in a pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and plunge into ice water, then drain well.
  4. Toss beans with vinaigrette and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill 12-24 hours in refrigerator. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Serves 6. (modified from Gourmet, Aug. 2001)
       
        Need a new idea for carrots? Try these easy Glazed Carrots with Mustard and Honey. My kids really like them, even cold for lunch the next day. The recipe comes from Deborah Madison Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. 1 bunch carrots, scrubbed, 2 Tbs butter, 1 Tbs honey, 2 tsp. Stone ground or Dijon mustard, Salt & freshly milled pepper, Chopped parsley (optional), Cut carrots into 3-inch lengths; halve or quarter the thicker ends so that they’ll cook evenly. Steam or boil until nearly tender (3-5 minutes). In a medium skillet, melt the butter with the honey, then stir in the mustard. Drain and add carrots and season with salt and plenty of pepper. Cook over medium heat for several minutes, until well coated and bubbling (or even a bit browned), then toss with chopped parsley and serve.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007: Week 7

In this box:
1 lettuce, 1 bunch Basil, ½# garlic, 1 bunch Carrots, 1# Italian Romano Beans, 1# Yellow Summer  Squash, 2# New Red Potatoes, 1 Pt. Cherry Tomatoes (Saturday) or 2# Beefsteak Tomatoes (Midweek), 1 box Yellow Plums (Saturday) or Purple Plums (Midweek).

Italian Romano Beans
        If you’re new to our box this year, you may not recognize the long, flat, green (or yellow) bean-like vegetables in your box. They are Italian Romano Beans. We’ve been growing Romano for several years, because we really like the flavor, even raw.  We continually have customers ask us what to do with them. My answer? "Anything you can do with a green bean, you can do with an Italian Romano Bean.”
        Our kids really like when I make Twice-Cooked Green Beans: snap beans into 2-inch pieces and steam for 3 minutes, then add to a hot sauté pan with olive oil (and maybe a crushed clove of garlic), and sauté until browned (about 5 minutes). Add salt to taste.

Yellow Straightneck Summer Squash
        I have two recipes to share with you that are just perfect with this Yellow summer squash. The first was created just last week by the brother of one of my friends at a family gathering. It’s a lovely and rather unusual pairing of raw summer squash, the rich sweet-tart flavor of balsamic vinegar, and sharp-on-the-tongue aged Italian cheese (or salty Italian meats if you prefer). The straightneck summer squash can be used in any recipe you might use zucchini, but we think the flavor is sweeter, which makes it really nice for this raw salad, or try Quick-fried zucchini flavored with garlic and lime:

Doug’s Summer Squash Salad
Essential Ingredients:
1# small summer squash, very thinly sliced.
¼ sweet onion, finely diced.
1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved.
½ can pitted black olives.
Optional ingredients:
Aged Italian Cheese (Asiago, Parmesan, Romano), thinly shaved or grated.
Prociutto or Pepperoni, thinly sliced
Dressing:
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
(optional: 1 Tbs mustard in dressing)
        Mix all together and eat chilled. The zucchini may leach out liquid if it sits for a while, but excess liquid can be drained off.

Quick-Fried Zucchini with Toasted Garlic and Lime
1 lb. zucchini cut in ½ inch pieces
1 scant tsp. salt 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 Tbs. lime juice
Generous ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
½ tsp. dried oregano
2 Tbs. chopped parsley
    In a colander, toss the cut zucchini with salt; let stand over a plate or in the sink for half an hour. Rinse and dry zucchini.
    About 15 minutes before serving, heat the butter and oil over low heat in a skillet large enough to hold the zucchini in a single layer.
    Add the garlic, stir until light brown, about 3 minutes. Do not burn garlic. Scoop the garlic into a fine-mesh sieve set over a small bowl, then scrape the strained butter mixture back into the pan; set garlic aside. Raise the heat to medium-high.
   Add zucchini to the pan and fry, stirring frequently, for 8-10 minutes, until browned and tender but still a little crunchy.
   Remove from the heat. Add lime juice and toasted garlic and toss thoroughly.
   Sprinkle with pepper, oregano, and parsley, then mix.
   Taste for salt, and season if necessary. Serve in a warm dish.
From Kitchen Gardening magazine, “Mexican Ways with Zucchini”, #14, p. 28.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007:  Week 6 

In this box:

½# salad mix, ½# spinach, 2 cucumbers, 1 red onion, 2# summer squash, 1# Gold Roma tomatoes, 1 pint mixed cherry & grape tomatoes, ½ pt gold raspberries 

Gold Roma Tomatoes   <>

        This week brings the first installment of heirloom tomatoes of this season. Tom spent many hours last summer and fall absorbed in seed catalogs and searching the Web for interesting and good-tasting heirloom and specialty tomatoes that he thought might grow well in our climate. There are hundreds of these special tomatoes, and they come in all sizes, shapes, colors, flavors, and textures. This week we have an abundance of Gold Romas. Although traditional Red Roma tomatoes can be somewhat dry and are best used for making thick tomato sauces, the Gold Romas have great flavor and are delicious for salads, cooking, or eating out of hand. I like them just sliced, and drizzled with a bit of olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Roasted Romas have an intense flavor like dried tomatoes.

Here’s a quick and easy recipe: Roasted Roma Tomatoes

  1. Cut roma tomatoes in half lengthwise.
  2. Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. (The parchment paper is not essential, but makes clean-up easier).
  3. Roast slowly in a 250o oven for 2-3 hours. Check after 2 hours and remove any pieces that are browning. Larger pieces will take longer to roast. Tomatoes are done when they are fully soft, but before they have become burned. When cool, add to your favorite pesto or pasta salad recipe (maybe with some red onion, spinach and cucumber...).  
  4. Refrigerate and use within a week, or store in a zip-lock in the freezer.

Summer Heat
        July is here, and we’re into full summer heat on the farm. Tom’s major tasks these days involve trying to keep our vegetables from getting too hot. Raspberries and strawberries can become sunburned (the side of the fruits toward the sun bleaches white), tomatoes develop green shoulders, and young newly-transplanted seedlings wilt in the afternoons. We keep overhead sprinklers watering our raspberries so the berries stay cool from evaporation.          
        Our farm crew starts work early in the cool of the morning, and they try to pick all the berries and tomatoes in our hoop houses before mid-morning, partly for their benefit, and partly to keep the berries in the best condition for you—they go into our 33-degree cooler as soon as they are picked. In the afternoon, our crew might choose cooler tasks like cleaning garlic in the shade or washing carrots, lettuce, or potatoes.
        Today, Tom was preparing a sprayer full of suspended limestone to spray as a whitewash on our hoop houses and provide a bit of shade from the summer sun. In the fall, it washes off in the rain and serves as an organic fertilizer to the soil.


Produce storage tip of the week:
Berries are our most perishable crop. They should be refrigerated (or eaten) as soon as possible.

*If anyone wishes to special order strawberries or raspberries by the flat to freeze or make jam, just call the farm a day ahead of your pick-up and we can deliver them to your drop site.
Raspberries $20/flat
Strawberries $30/flat


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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007:  Week 5

In this box:

1 Lettuce, 1 Celery, ½# Spinach, 1 Sweet Onion, ¼# Garlic whistles, 2# Yellow Finn Potatoes (from Springhill Farm), 1 1/2 # small Beef Tomatoes, 1 pint cherries & 1 basket Golden Raspberries


Beefsteak Tomatoes
        Those of you who came to our farm party got a chance to see our passive solar hoop houses that protect our tomato plants from frost in the spring and rain in the summer, and hasten the ripening of fruits by using any sunshine to warm the soil and air well above outside temperatures. Even a few minutes of sunshine on a cold day in April or May can make a huge difference in the temperature, and tomatoes are basically a tropical fruit. They like it warm!  
        Though still small (as the first fruits on a plant often are), our beefsteaks are mild-flavored and meaty. Beefsteak tomatoes are classically used for slicing (as in sandwiches or burgers), or for quick tomato sauces (they cook down into a thick, sweet sauce—especially if you add some sautéed sweet onion or shallots).

Garlic Whistles
        The  long, skinny, green things in your box are called garlic whistles, or garlic tops. You can cook them any way you might cook asparagus: steam, sauté, roast, grill, or stew. I find the flavor mellow, like a roasted garlic flavor rather than sharp or hot like a clove of garlic. One of my friends likes them best chopped finely, steamed for 2-3 minutes, then used as a pizza topping—add to the pizza before baking.  
        Garlic whistles are only available for a short time during early summer. They won’t appear at the market again until next June. Truly a seasonal delight!


Cherries
        We thought the birds had eaten all of our cherries this year, as we didn’t get our bird netting up, and there’s really no other way to prevent the birds from eating cherries. The birds did eat about 98% of our early varieties, because they ripen in early June before there is much other ripe fruit in the area. However, we have a few trees of this later variety (Lapin), and now the birds have moved on, perhaps to our neighbor’s blueberries, and we feel lucky to have a few cherries to share with you.


Storage suggestions

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<>Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007:  Week 4
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In this box:
< style="font-style: italic;">1 Green Leaf Lettuce, 1 Red Butter Lettuce, 1 Cucumber, 1 bunch Basil, 1 Porcelain Garlic (large cloves, easy to peel. We love this garlic!), 1 bunch Green Shallots, 1 ½# Zucchini, 1 Cabbage (from Groundwork Organics)
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Raspberries
        I can’t tell you how excited Tom is to have raspberries growing on our farm. Back in the mid-1970’s, when Tom was studying Agriculture at Cornell University and first thinking of farming as a career, he dreamed about being a raspberry grower. It’s taken nearly 30 years to make it happen, but here we are with a plentitude of raspberries this summer.  Last spring, after hours and hours of researching the best raspberries for our climate, soil, and growing conditions, Tom chose 4 varieties and planted about 3/4 of an acre of raspberries. This is our first real harvest year of berries. Many of our organic farming friends have tried growing raspberries, but have been unsuccessful at keeping them alive for more than a year or two—they’re just too susceptible to diseases (and weeds) that are hard to control with organic methods.
        Our golden raspberries (in some boxes this week, and some of you will get yours another week) are usually grown as a fall-bearing raspberry. Generally, you mow the canes in the late fall, and they regrow and bear fruit the following fall. We decided to try fruiting them in the early summer by not removing last year’s canes. I think the golden raspberries are perhaps my favorite variety. They are the ones I pick for snacking when I’m out walking around the farm. Even though their color is novel, if you close your eyes, you may find them indistinguishable from a red raspberry.  I think they have a slightly aromatic note to their flavor—a perfume-like sweetness that lingers in my mouth after I eat the berry.

Summer Squash
        Now that summer is officially here, it’s time for Summer Squash. We’re growing several different varieties, and I’m not sure what is in your box this week. We hope to give you a good assortment of the different varieties during the summer so you can taste them all.  In addition to the dark green and golden zucchini, we are growing Zephyr, which is a green-tipped yellow straightneck, and French White which is pale green in color (I guess the seed catalog’s didn’t think French Pale sounded as good as French White). Tom used to sell zucchini to Safeway in the 1980’s so he has seen and eaten a lot of zucchini.  He thinks the flavor and texture of French White and Zephyr are superior to green zucchini, and they look interesting too.  Summer is grilling season, and summer squash are great on the grill!

Green Shallots can be eaten either raw or cooked. If used raw, I suggest dicing and marinating in salad dressing for 15 minutes before serving, as their raw flavor can be a bit sharp. Cooking brings out the sweet and flavorful nature of shallots. Try them in a stir-fry, grilled, or roasted. Roasting makes both shallots and zucchini extra-sweet.

Beefsteak Tomatoes
        Even though the tomatoes in your box may not be very large, they are a beefsteak variety. The first fruits from Beefsteak plants are often small in size. These tomatoes have a very mild flavor, and make a nice tomato sauce. If you still have your fava beans from last week, you can try simmering the tomatoes, garlic, and shallots, then adding blanched & peeled fava beans and some basil 3 minutes before serving. If you don’t have any fava beans left, the sauce would be fine without them. 

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<>Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007:  Week 3
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In this box:
< style="font-style: italic;">1 Lettuce, 1 bunch Spinach, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 Cucumber, 1 Red Onion, 1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, 2# Fava Beans, 1 bunch Beets OR 1.5# Broccoli (from Groundwork Organics), 1/2 pint Raspberries or Strawberries (whichever you didn’t get last week)
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Fava Beans
        Fava Beans may be a new item for some of you, and I think they need a bit of introduction to be fully appreciated. Fava Beans are a staple vegetable in the Mediterranean and Middle East. Every year, we have some people call the farm to make special orders for a hundred pounds of Fava Beans to freeze for their family’s meals for the year.
        In the past few years, Fava Beans have seen a surge in popularity in this country, and I’ve seen articles in several cooking magazines and also The Oregonian featuring Fava Beans. Here’s my suggestion for your beans: First you must shell the bean out of the pod and remove the inner skin from each bean. This is easiest if you score the pod with a sharp knife. (Cut deeply enough to score the inner bean, and it will be easier to pop out of its skin after blanching). Then blanch the beans (submerge 2 minutes in boiling water, then plunge into icy water to cool quickly). When cool, you can slip the outer skin off the bean, and you are left with a tender, slightly sweet bean that needs only the slightest additional cooking before eating. 
        Fava Beans pair particularly well with garlic, lemon juice or tamari, sweet onions, and olive oil. They can also be simmered for 5 minutes in a tomato sauce and served over rice or pasta. Personally, I like to pop the blanched beans out of their skins directly into my mouth without any further cooking or adornment.

Fava Bean Sauté: Blanch and remove skins from 2# Fava Beans. Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in a frypan. Sauté 1 or more cloves garlic and ½ sliced sweet onion until soft. Add 2 cups shredded greens (spinach or beet greens) and 1 tsp. tamari, sauté for 3 minutes or until the greens are wilted. Add blanched Fava Beans. Cover and cook 3 more minutes. 

Beets or Broccoli: Some boxes may have beets, but we picked our entire row of beets and came up short. Fortunately, our friends Gabe and Sophie at Groundwork Organic Farm north of Eugene could send us some broccoli to fill in. Your box will have either broccoli or beets. If you have beets, try this: slice, steam, and marinate in vinaigrette dressing for quick marinated beets; or grate and use to garnish a green salad….. The greens are good for you, too!

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<>Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007:  Week 2

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<>In this box:
< style="font-style: italic;">1 Romaine Lettuce, 1 bunch Spinach, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 bunch Basil, 1 head Garlic (Need a pesto recipe? check the web site, Last year’s newsletters Week 9), 1 Fennel, 1 Walla Walla Onion, 1 Cucumber, ¾# Sugar Snap Peas (from Springhill Farm), 2# Red Pearl potatoes, 1/2 pint Raspberries OR 1 pint Strawberries

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<>Red Pearl Potatoes
        Red potatoes are perfect for making potato salad. In general, red potatoes have a texture called “waxy”. In comparison with last week’s more starchy White Rose potato, the red pearl will have a moister texture when cooked. Here’s my basic potato salad recipe: Finely chop ¼ cup sweet onion and place in a bowl. Cover onion with good olive oil and rice vinegar—using about twice as much olive oil as vinegar. While the onions marinate, cut 2 lbs. New potatoes into bite-sized chunks, cover with water, add one tsp. salt, and boil for 10 minutes or until soft. Drain potatoes and add to onions. Stir gently. Cool 10 minutes. Serve.

Onions
        Walla Walla is one onion that people ask for by name. I have a theory about why Walla Walla’s are so popular—they taste great! The Walla Walla onion is a very juicy, sweet onion. Some people (I am not one of them) enjoy eating them raw as you might an apple. I do like mine raw (especially in a potato salad), but prefer to marinate mine in a bit of salad dressing to mellow the flavor.

Fennel
        Fennel is in the same vegetable family as carrots, parsley, and celery. It has a slightly anise or licorice flavor when raw, and becomes milder when cooked. My kids and I love to eat raw fennel. I slice the bulb thinly and use it much the way you might use celery—either by itself, or chopped and added to a salad (fennel is particularly nice instead of celery in a chicken salad). When I’m eating fennel raw, I discard the outermost layers of the bulb and any leaf stalks that seem woody.  
        However, if you’re cooking fennel, you can use the whole bulb, as the cooking process will tenderize even the outermost layers of the bulb. My favorite way to cook fennel is to slice it in ½ inch thick crosswise slices and layer it in a baking dish with some fresh garlic (and onion if you have some). Then drizzle a little olive oil over the vegetables, cover and bake for about 45 minutes. Then remove the cover, stir, and return to the hot oven until the fennel is very soft.
        The fennel leaf stalks and feathery leaves have good flavor, but not good texture for eating raw. Many people use the feathery leaves to add flavor to a green salad. The leaf stalks are often discarded but can be used to season soups, curries. Fish can be baked on a bed of fennel fronds for a nice flavor.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2007:  Week 1


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<>In this box:
< style="font-style: italic;">2 French Crisp Lettuce, ½# Spinach, 1# Sweet Onions (red or white), 1 bunch Carrots, 1# Broccoli (from Groundwork Organics), 2# New White Rose  potatoes, 1 pint Sungold Cherry Tomatoes, 1/2 pint Raspberries


Welcome to all our returning and new members. We hope you enjoy this first box of the season. It’s exciting to be starting the harvest boxes again. Thanks for choosing us to be your farmers!


New Potatoes

        Tom worked for a vegetable grower in upstate New York in the mid ‘70s. That’s where he first encountered new potatoes, which were always sold with a little bag of coarse salt.  Because new potatoes have such thin skins they were traditionally boiled in heavily salted water to prevent the flavor from leaching out into the cooking water.  This is still one of our favorite ways to enjoy the subtle flavor of these new potatoes. I use about a heaping teaspoon of salt in the water if I’m boiling 2# of potatoes.
        White Rose is a white-fleshed potato, with a delicate mild flavor. It’s a good all-around potato. We’ve tried boiling, mashing, roasting, and baking them, and we like them all.  
        We plant potatoes as soon as we can in the spring because we like to have new potatoes as early as possible. Often our soil is too wet to plant potatoes as early as we want.  Sandy soil dries out faster than soil with more clay and silt, and potatoes grow well in sandy soils.  For the past 3 years, we have been renting 10 acres of farmland along the Willamette River in North Albany. Part of that field is very sandy and with all the rain last winter it was under water for long enough to drown the cover crop.  When it was time to plant early potatoes all our higher fields were too wet to plow, but the sandy field was weed-free and soft enough that we were able to plant without plowing.  We quickly planted an acre of potatoes between rainstorms, and hoped they would grow. They did.

Potato Storage            
        These new potatoes are freshly dug, and have very thin skins. They will keep best in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. Later in the season when our potatoes have a fully cured thicker skin, they can be left in a paper bag out of the refrigerator. Potatoes that are exposed to light (if left on the counter) will develop green skin, which is not good to eat.  
        Where the tender skin of these new potatoes was rubbed off in the washing process, they may develop a brownish color, which is not pretty, but won’t be noticeable after they are cooked. The brown color is fine to eat.

Strawberry tip for the week            
        Combine 1 cup sour cream with ¼ cup packed brown sugar. Mix well and let stand for 10 minutes for smooth consistency. Dip individual berries in this for an elegant presentation and an exquisite and somewhat mysterious taste. (Jan Roberts-Dominguez, Corvallis resident and food writer suggested this recipe years ago. I think it bears repeating!)

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