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2013 Denison Farms Newsletters

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 26
  This is the last box. Thank you for choosing to be part of our farm this year!.

In this box: 3/4# Brussels Sprouts, 2# Sweet Potatoes, 1 piece Sweet Meat Squash, 2 Cooking Onions, 1 bunch Russian Kale, 3# Yellow Potatoes, 2 Leeks, 6 persimmons--these are NOT fuyu persimmons. They are the "astringent" kind--they need to be super-soft before they are good to eat! ,2# Gold Rush Apples from LaMancha Ranch& Orchard  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Nishime Vegetables
    As one might expect, Tom & I have a long history of special memories around sharing food together. Tom still talks of how impressed he was by the whole wheat biscuits I made from scratch on our first date. And I still remember (nearly 20 years later) how he won my heart with a pot of Nishime vegetables.
    Nishime refers to a method of cooking from the Macrobiotic tradition. Nishime vegetables are cooked in a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid. No oil is added, and no steam is allowed to escape. There is some culinary magic that occurs as the layers of vegetables steam together, and the result is quite different from anything else I have ever tasted.
    Here's how to make Nishime vegetables: Start by soaking a couple of strips of Kombu (dried seaweed) in warm water. Slice the soaked kombu in bite-sized pieces, then place kombu pieces in the bottom of a large pot with a tight fitting lid (we use our cast iron dutch oven). Cut into 2-inch chunks, and layer any or all of the following vegetables over the kombu: carrots, potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, winter squash, leeks, cabbage, or kale. Place root vegetables on top of the kombu, followed by the squash, with cabbage or kale on the top. Add 1/2-inch water and a pinch of sea salt to the pot. Place over high heat just until steam starts to escape, then reduce heat to low and cook for about 25 minutes. Remove the lid to add a small amount of tamari soy sauce (1-2 teaspoons). Continue to cook about ten minutes longer until everything is tender. Gently stir vegetables to coat everything with tamari-seasoned juices, and serve. The perfect meal for a cold, winter day.

Gold Rush Apples
    This variety is intensely flavored, and very aromatic (open the bag and sniff). Gold Rush apples have the highest sugar content and highest acidity among apples commonly grown today. If you try one, and find it a little to intensely tart for your tastebuds, the tartness will mellow if you either cook them (into a pie, perhaps), or store them in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

Have you tried Kale Chips yet?
    A fairly recent addition to the snack food aisle of many grocery stores, kale chips are rapidly gaining popularity as a healthy snack food. Even by my extraordinarily high standards, kale chips qualify as a healthy snack food--most brands are made from whole kale, cashews, spices, and other natural flavors. The only "processing", aside from tearing the kale into pieces, and mixing with chopped nuts, onions, peppers, and spices, is dehydrating at low temperatures until crispy.  (Remember to read the label, however, as some brands have less desirable ingredients as well, such as sugar or MSG).
    If you are going to try kale chips, we suggest you try Pacific Northwest Kale Chips-because we know the people who own the company, and they use our kale and onions. Last fall, we made a connection with PNW Kale Chips at the Beaverton Saturday Market, where we are both vendors. Because of the great folks at PNW Kale Chips, we made a commitment to grow more kale this year-just for them! Their kale chips are vegan, and certified as a "raw" food, and we think they are delicious.  Check out their web site (www.pacifickale.com), and check out their kale chips!

Eat Local through the Winter!
Corvallis Indoor Winter Market starts January 11
Then every Saturday (Jan 11 - Apr 12) from 9am-1pm
At the Benton County Fairgrounds.
We will be there with a full display of salad mix, spinach, sweet potatoes, potatoes, winter squash, onions, cabbage, carrots, and other winter produce.

McMinnville Grange Farm/Craft Market
From 10am - 3pm every Saturday--All Year Round
In the McMinnville Grange Hall-we're downstairs
A small, but sweet market. We're there every week!
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 25                  
Our season is 26 weeks long. There is ONE MORE BOX.

In this box: ½# Salad Mix, 2# Carrots1 Sunshine Squash, 2 Red Onions, 2 Green Bell Peppers, 1 bunch Kale, 2# Red Potatoes, 2 heads garlic, 2# Liberty Apples from  LaMancha Ranch& Orchard (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

 

Scottish Heirloom Kale

The bunch of greens in today’s box is an heirloom variety of kale from Scotland. The leaf is a different shape than the more familiar types of kale, so you may not recognize it, and I think we might be the only farm in the area where you will find this kale.  We grow it because we think this is one of the best-tasting kales around! You can use any variety of kale (or collards) interchangeably in your favorite recipe. You will have the best results, however, if you remember that Scottish kale is more tender than curly green kale, so it cooks a little quicker. Lately, we’ve been adding kale to our dinner nearly every night—by quietly slipping finely chopped kale into the dinner pot. Even the picky-eater in our house has not complained, because our kale has a mild flavor, and if it’s in small enough pieces, it just adds flecks of green to the dinner without noticeably changing the flavor or texture of the main dish. So far this week, we’ve used a bunch of kale in cashew chili with kale; another bunch in wild rice and fish stew; and a leek, kale & egg frittata…..Tonight, I may take a night off from kale, and make fajitas with sautéed onion & bell peppers.

One of the simplest ways to prepare kale is to steam it, and serve as a side dish with dinner.

To steam greens: rinse 1 bunch of kale or collards, and slice into bite-size ribbons (easy to manage if you stack the leaves on top of each other, then roll into a cylinder, and slice off 1-inch pieces). I usually leave the stems on, because fresh-picked kale stems are tender and juicy when cooked. Place greens in a large pot with ½” of water in the bottom. Add ¼ teaspoon salt. Cover, and bring to a boil. When you see steam escaping from under the lid, turn off the heat, and leave on the burner for 5 minutes. Then serve greens – by themselves if you just want to appreciate the pure, sweet taste of fresh kale, or top with your favorite vinaigrette salad dressing.  

 

Three ways to cook Sunshine squash

(You don’t have to peel Sunshine squash, as the skin is tender)

1.        Slice into thin wedges or “smiles”, and steam for 10-15 minutes. Serve with a light sprinkle of tamari.

2.       Cut in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake (cut side down) in a baking dish with 1/2 –inch water. Bake at 350 – 375 degrees for 60 – 90 minutes, or until very soft. Then mash the squash, and serve with butter, or stir a big spoonful of mashed squash into your favorite brothy soup or stew to add a bit more body to the soup and a delightfully sweet flavor.

3.       Crock Pot squash: Place whole squash in crock pot with 2 Tbs. water. Cover, and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. Then cool enough to cut, scoop out the seeds, and mash. For slightly less mess, cut the squash in half first, remove the seeds, then put in your slow cooker as above.

Use cooked, mashed sunshine squash instead of canned pumpkin in any recipe for pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, or pumpkin pie. Sunshine squash has more flavor than canned pumpkin, and it’s sweeter!

 

Liberty Apples

            Liberty Apples have a bright, tart flavor. Liberty’s have plenty of sugar, but when raw, the tartness is more apparent. Cooking seems to bring out more of the apple’s sweetness. In October, when Liberty’s have just been picked, their texture is crisp and juicy. A few weeks later, their texture becomes a little less crisp, but the flavor is just as intense.  This is the perfect time to turn Liberty apples into applesauce, apple crisp, baked apples, or apple pie. The Cameo apples (in last week’s box) remain crisp for fresh eating longer into the fall, but have a less interesting flavor when cooked. Cameos remain my preferred apple for fresh snacking when I just need a little sweet treat.

            Check out my recipe for making applesauce, in this year’s Week 20 Newsletter.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 24
                   
Our season is 26 weeks long. There are 2 more boxes

In this box: 1/2# Salad Mix, 2# Carrots, 1 Butternut Squash, 1 Sweet Spanish Onion, 1 bunch Beets, 1 bunch Collards, 2# Blue Potatoes , 6 Fuyu Persimmons, 2# Cameo Apples from  Gala Srings Orchard, (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
 
My Favorite Carrot Soup...from the Moosewood Cookbook (Mollie Katzen, 1977)
2 pounds carrots, scrubbed and chopped       
4 cups water or stock       
1 1/2 tsp. salt                   
optional: 1 medium potato, chopped (for heartier soup)
1 cup chopped onion                   
1-2 small cloves crushed garlic               
1/3 cup chopped almonds or cashews   
* Bring carrots, stock, salt, and optional potato to a boil. Cover and simmer 12-15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
* Sauté onion, garlic, and chopped nuts in 3-4 Tbs. butter with a little salt, until onions are clear.
* Purée everything together in a blender until smooth. Return the purée to a kettle or double-boiler and whisk in one of the following: 1 cup milk (or dairy-free milk), or 1 cup yogurt, or 1/2 pint heavy cream, or 3/4 cup sour cream.
* Heat very slowly. Season with 1 Tbs fresh-grated ginger root and a dash of sherry OR 2 pinches nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. dried mint, and a dash of cinnamon. Garnish with toasted nuts

Fuyu Persimmons
    Fuyu Persimmons are ripe when they are still somewhat firm-you can eat them over a broad range of textures, from crunchy to jelly-soft.  (Hachiya  persimmons are the type that must be as soft as jelly before they are edible-and those are the kind most often used for baking). If you eat an unripe persimmon, it will be unpleasantly astringent.
    Opinions vary, but I think Fuyu persimmons are at their best when they are as soft as an avocado or a ripe peach. The persimmons in your box today are ripe, if you prefer yours crunchy; but I suggest giving them a few days at room temperature to become a bit softer. The fruit should give very slightly to thumb pressure, but not much. I think the ideal texture is firm, but a little slippery like a ripe mango or peach (again, opinions vary on this).
    When ripe, Fuyu persimmons can vary in color from deep dark orange, to a lighter yellow-orange, or greenish-yellow. Color isn't the best judge of ripeness.
    We suggest leaving your persimmons on the counter until each fruit reaches that slightly-soft feel. Then refrigerate each fruit until you're ready to eat it.
    To serve Fuyu persimmons: cut off the calyx, then cut each persimmon into wedges. The skin is edible, but many people prefer to remove it. Fuyu persimmons are nice just by themselves, or sliced thinly and spread on warm toast instead of jam, or in a bowl with vanilla ice cream (or yogurt), or sliced thinly to garnish a cheesecake.

Blue Potatoes 
    This is the new favorite potato at our house, where a pan of roasted potatoes is a frequent after-school snack, or side dish with dinner. They are fantastic as roasted potatoes; or boiled, and served with butter. I'm getting hungry just writing this.....

Butternut Soup-really simple, and always delicious!
1. Peel and cube 1 medium butternut squash.
2. Cook for 25 minutes in 5 cups of water or stock.
3. Sauté 2 cups chopped onion and 1 tsp dried thyme in 2 Tbs oil. Add to squash.
4. Cool, then purée the squash and onions.
5. Melt 4 Tbs butter. Stir in 1/4 cup flour and cook 2 minutes. Stir into soup.
6. Add 3/4 cup cream (or milk, or non-dairy milk), 1 tsp salt, & 1/2 tsp tamari. Simmer 15 minutes.
7. Garnish with 1/2 cup sliced and toasted almonds, and black pepper to taste.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 23                     
Our season is 26 weeks long. There are 3 more boxes


In this box: 1 Cabbage, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 Delicata Squash, 2 Red Bottle Onions, 1 bskt Cherry tomatoes, 2 Sweet Peppers, 1 bunch Italian Kale-also known as Tuscan Kale or Dinosaur Kale, 3# Potatoes , 2# Cameo Apples from Gala Springs Orchard  (weights are approx.)        Everything is Organic!
 

Three Great ideas for Cabbage
    Mu Shu Cabbage (Thank you, Molly, for sending me the original recipe-I modified it only slightly to use the ingredients you have in the box)
1 Tbs., and then 3 Tbs. peanut oil or vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger (one of my kids doesn't like ginger-so I leave it out)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 of a red bottle onion, sliced thinly
1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes
1 pound (half a large head) cabbage, sliced thinly
2 Tbs. water, and then 2 additional Tbs. water
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Teaspoon toasted sesame oil
3 Tbs. hoisin sauce, or 2 Tbs. rice vinegar, or 2 Tbs. Mirin (rice cooking wine)- any of these will add a little sweet & sour
Instructions
1. Heat 1 Tbs. oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet or a wok over high heat until hot, but not smoking. Pour in eggs, and let cook like a pancake-leave eggs alone until the top starts to set, then flip over and cook 1 more minute. Transfer eggs to a plate, and slice into ribbons.
2. Add remaining 3 Tbs. oil to skillet, and heat until hot but not smoking. Cook ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, and onion, stirring, until garlic is golden (about 1 minute).
3. Add cabbage and 2 Tbs. water. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until cabbage wilts.
4. In a small bowl, stir together remaining 2 Tbs. water, soy sauce, sesame oil, and hoisin sauce, vinegar, or mirin. Add to cabbage in the skillet. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat
5. Serve on tortillas or softened rice wrappers. Make a complete meal by adding shredded, cooked chicken.

Cabbage & White Bean soup--ready in 20 minutes! (plus time to chop cabbage & carrot, and cook beans)
1 Tbs olive oil                   
3 cups thinly sliced cabbage           
1 large carrot, sliced               
1 Tbs. garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground pepper
6 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth   
1 cup water   
4 cups cooked cannellini beans (equal to 2 cans, drained)
    Heat oil. Add cabbage, carrot, garlic, salt & pepper. Cover and cook 3 minutes, until cabbage starts to wilt. Increase heat to high. Add broth and water. Cover, bring to a boil. Cook 8-10 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
    Save 1 1/2 cup beans. Purée the rest of the beans in a food processor.
    Add whole beans and bean purée to the soup pot. Cook 2 minutes or until beans are hot. Serve.

Cabbage & Noodles:  Caution, this recipe is very rich (it has lots of butter), but it's delicious!
1. Begin by chopping an onion or two. In a deep pan with liberal amounts of butter or olive oil, sauté the onion until translucent (about 5 min).
2. Add to the pan: half a head of finely chopped cabbage. Add more butter or oil as needed to prevent cabbage from sticking. Stir, and then cover to let cabbage wilt. Every 5 minutes or so, remove the cover and stir until cabbage is very soft (about 20 minutes), adding more butter or oil as necessary. 
3. When cabbage is soft, cut 2 bratwurst-style sausages into chunks and toss on top of the cabbage. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, or until sausages are cooked.
4. Meanwhile, cook a package of egg noodles, drain and add to the pan with cabbage and sausage. Mix together and add salt & pepper to taste.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 22
                     
Our season is 26 weeks long. There are 4 more boxes


It's a "sweet" box:
1 1/2# Sweet Potatoes , 2 Sweet Dumpling Squash, 1 Sweet Spanish Onion, 1 bunch Broccoli, 1# Tomatoes,  2 garlic, 2 Green Peppers, 1 basket Strawberries, 2# Liberty Apples from LaMancha Ranch & Orchard
(weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
 
First Frost
    We pay a lot of attention to the weather forecast all year, but particularly in the spring & fall when so much of what we do depends on whether or not the ground is wet. When our favorite agricultural weather forecaster suggested it might frost last night, we covered out tender crops (particularly the fennel) with fabric row covers, and closed the ends of our hoop houses where we're hoping to continue harvesting tomatoes & peppers for a few more weeks. It's good that we listened, because this morning was our first frost on the farm. We are grateful for continuing sunny days, as we still have a lot more to plant before the fall rains make the ground too wet to plant next year's garlic, fava beans, and onions.   

Sweet Potatoes
Important: Take them out of the plastic bag, and store on the counter. Do not refrigerate.
(Your sweet potatoes are bagged only because it makes packing the boxes much quicker for our packing crew)
    We enjoy sweet potatoes in many ways. You don't need to peel them, just scrub, then bake, roast, sauté, or add to a soup or stew. Chunks of sweet potato hold their shape in a soup or stew, and add sweetness to whatever you're serving. You can also cut sweet potato into chunks and steam them on the stovetop or in a microwave, but the end result won't be as sweet as if you bake or sauté them because baking or sautéing will caramelize the natural sugars.

Pan-roasted Sweet Potatoes (recipe adapted from Sunset Magazine, November 2013):
1. Scrub 11/2 pounds sweet potatoes, then slice into discs about 1/2-inch long. If some of your roots are larger than 1-inch in diameter, slice those discs in half.
2. Warm 2 Tbs coconut oil, or olive oil, or your favorite sauté oil in a large heavy frying pan over medium-high heat. Add sweet potatoes. Stir to coat all sides with oil, and season with a few pinches of salt and a shake of black pepper.
3. Cover pan, turn heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring every 10 minutes, until sweet potatoes are quite tender and browned (this took 25 minutes on my stove, but timing will vary with the size of your chunks, and temperature of your stove). Serve warm.

Sweet Dumpling Squash  (Winter squashes store well at room temperature. Do not refrigerate)
    These darling little squashes make a nice autumn centerpiece, until you're ready to cook and eat them. Here's my suggestion when you're ready to cook them: Rinse off any dirt on your squash, and poke the skin several times with a sharp knife (to let steam escape when cooking). Then put the whole squash, uncut, in a roasting pan in a 350-degree oven for 45 - 60 minutes, or until very soft.  Then cut the top off and scoop out the seeds as if you were going to make a jack-o-lantern. Serve the squash whole on a plate, using a spoon to scoop out the sweet, creamy cooked squash inside the shell, or slice into wedges for serving. We generally don't eat the skin, because it's a little tough, but it's edible if you wish.

Gingered Strawberries (adapted from Bon Appetit September 2010)
    If you still have some fresh ginger left from last week's box, here is a recipe I discovered as I was organizing my pile of recipes and old cooking magazines.
    Stir 2 Tbs. sugar, 1 Tbs. lemon juice, and 1 Tbs minced & crushed fresh ginger in a saucepan over low heat until sugar melts. Cool mixture. Mix with 1 pint sliced strawberries. Serve over ice cream or yogurt, or with cheesecake.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 21                        
Our season is 26 weeks long. There are 5 more boxes


In this box:
1 piece Fresh Ginger, 1 bunch Carrots, 3 Leeks, Broccoli , 1 bu White Russian Kale, 3# Nicola Potatoes- firm, smooth texture.  Excellent for roasting, boiling, potato salad. Nicola is  reported to have lower glycemic index than other potato varieties, 1 Sunshine Squash, 3 Anaheim Peppers , 2# Cameo Apples from  Gala Springs Orchard. (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Anaheim peppers
    Also known as New Mex Chiles, Anaheim peppers are probably the mildest of the "hot" peppers. Popular for Chile Rellenos or grilled for fajitas, this is also the pepper that is processed and sold in little cans as "diced green chiles".
    Green peppers (whether bell peppers, Italian peppers, or hot peppers) are the unripe fruits of the pepper plant. If left on the plant, green peppers will ripen to various colors (most often red, but also yellow or orange), gaining more vitamin C and sweetness in the process. Peppers are good to eat whether green or ripe.

Fresh GINGER
    A few years ago, Tom heard about some farmers in the Northeast who were growing ginger, so he decided to try it on our farm. Ginger is a sub-tropical plant that grows best in a climate like Hawaii. If we're lucky, the microclimate in our hoop houses is close enough for the ginger to mature in one summer.
Fresh ginger differs from what you normally see in the grocery store. The most obvious difference (besides being really juicy) is the absence of fibers through the root. Fresh ginger does not need to be peeled, just gently rinsed of any dirt. Then you can slice, mince, or grate the entire root and add to a stir-fry, or steep for tea.
    Fresh ginger keeps best out of the refrigerator. If you can't use your piece up this week, put it in a
zip-top bag in the freezer, and slice or grate as needed, directly from the freezer.
Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce   
    1/4  cup soy sauce
    2 Tbs. rice vinegar or rice wine (also called Mirin)
    1/2  tsp. sesame oil (use red pepper sesame oil for a hot pepper kick)
    1-2 Tbs. finely minced or grated fresh ginger
    1 tsp. cornstarch, dissolved in 1 Tbs. warm water
    Combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and ginger in a saucepan. Heat, but do not allow to boil. When hot, slowly add dissolved cornstarch to the hot dipping sauce, stirring constantly, until thickened. Serve as a dipping sauce for steamed broccoli, spring rolls, or pot stickers; or pour over steamed kale.

Hot & Sour Greens: Here's a reprint of our old favorite (slightly modified) recipe, with the addition of fresh ginger: Rinse and slice 1 bunch greens (kale or collards) into 1/2 inch ribbons. Heat 1 Tbs. oil in a large sauté pan. Stir-fry 2 cloves garlic, 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger, and a dash of hot pepper flakes 1 minute. Add greens, stir to coat with ginger/garlic oil. Combine 2 Tbs. rice vinegar with 1 tsp. Soy sauce. Add to skillet. Cook, covered, over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Leeks are related to onions & garlic. They are great sliced into a stir-fry instead of onions, or used in soups, where they add body and flavor.
    To clean a leek, slice the leek in half lengthwise and rinse under running water to remove any dirt that has accumulated in the area where the leaf turns from white to green. Many recipes call for using only the white part, but I think that wastes a lot of good food. Go ahead and use the whole thing, green parts too.
Leek Pie
    The reason we put 3 leeks in the box today is so you can make Leek Pie. The original recipe came from one of our Corvallis market customers. Thanks Wendolyn. I have also included my own dairy-free variation.
3 leeks, cleaned and sliced into thin rings (use the white part and inner green leaves)
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 if it seems to be getting too dry). Add cheese, egg, and yogurt or cream. Pour into pie crust. Cover with top crust. (The top crust is optional). Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Elizabeth’s Indonesian Leek Pie
    I created this one when we were looking for some satisfying dairy-free ideas for our family. We served it when some friends from Indonesia were over and they said it reminded them very much of a recipe from their homeland.
3 leeks, cleaned and sliced into thin rings       
2 Tbs. butter or coconut oil                     
½ tsp salt                           
1 large or 2 small eggs, beaten                   
½ can coconut milk                       
grated rind and juice of 1 large lemon or 2 limes   
pie crust (either single or double crust)   
    Sauté leek rings in butter with salt over medium heat for 30 minutes. Add coconut milk, eggs, lemon or lime juice, and grated lemon/lime rind. Pour into pie crust. Cover with (optional) top crust. Bake at 350o for 35-40 minutes.

Squash Pie (also known a pumpkin pie)
Sunshine squash makes excellent “pumpkin” pie. My favorite recipe comes from my 1975 edition Joy of Cooking: Line a pie pan with pie dough. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Mix until well blended:
2 cups cooked, mashed squash
1 ½ cups undiluted evaporated milk or rich cream (or coconut milk for dairy-free)
¼ brown sugar & ½ cup white sugar (I usually reduce the sugar, since squash is sweeter than pumpkin)
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp dried ginger (or 1 tsp grated fresh ginger)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
2 slightly beaten eggs
    Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 45 min. longer.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 20                         
Our season is 26 weeks long. There are 6 more boxes.

In this box: 1/2# spinach, 1 bunch Carrots, 2 Fennel, 1 bunch Collards, 3# Red Potatoes, 2 Red Bottle Onions, 1 Butternut Squash, 3 Sweet Mini Bell  Peppers Caution: a few of these peppers have HOT seeds!, 2# Rome Apples from Gala Springs Orchard  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic

Fennel Basics-with some new information
    Fennel is in the same Botanical family as celery, and I often use fennel as I would use celery-slicing or chopping the raw bulb as a crunchy addition to a potato salad or a raw veggie tray. Fennel fronds are nice in a tuna salad.
    As with celery, fennel is also good as a cooked vegetable. Fennel smells & tastes vaguely of licorice. This flavor is less obvious once it is cooked. Fennel bulb is nice in a stir-fry, or baked (recipe for Baked Fennel is on our website/last year's newsletters, week 24). Fennel bulb can be sliced or chopped and added to any soup or stew. While fennel doesn't actually thicken a soup, it adds a subtle body and sweet flavor to brothy soups.
    Many recipes will call for using only the white bulb of the fennel, but this year we have started using the leaf stalks and fronds as well. The leaf stalks tend to be fibrous unless they are minced finely (by hand or in a food processor). Once minced, you can add leaf stalks & leaves to spaghetti sauce, chili or a bean soup. We think they are particularly nice added to spaghetti sauce, and you can hide quite a large amount of greens in dinner this way.

Collards
    A number of years ago, I received a recipe from one of our Harvest Box members (thanks, Jeff!). I have been carrying this recipe in my files ever since, and finally got around to making it last night. What a winner! Here is the recipe, originally from Souped Up by Sally Sampson.  This soup needs to simmer for 2-3 hours, so start it early in the day.
Black Eyed Peas & Collard Soup
1/2 pound dry black-eyed peas               
2 Tbs. olive oil or canola oil                   
1 large onion, coarsely chopped               
1 Carrot, peeled & sliced               
1 Celery stalk, sliced                   
2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely chopped           
8 cups low-salt chicken or vegetable stock       
1 cup dry white wine (cheap stuff is fine)       
1 tsp  dried thyme (I think 1/2 tsp is plenty)       
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes           
2 bay leaves                       
1 bunch collard greens, chopped              
salt to taste                      

    Put black-eyed peas in a pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and then let simmer on medium-low heat for about an hour, until the beans are barely soft. Drain and rinse.
    Put the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat and add the vegetables, cooking for 10-15 minutes until tender. Then add the stock, wine, and spices.  Raise the heat and bring to a boil.
    Add the beans and lower the heat to medium-low. Simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours (really-it makes a difference).
    Add the collard greens, stir them in, and cook for another 30 - 45 minutes. Add salt to taste. Serve.

Butternut Squash is famous in puréed squash soup. It is also widely used in curries, because chunks will hold their shape in a sauté (if you stir gently). Our favorite, however, is roasted butternut: Peel & remove seeds from 1 butternut squash. Cut into 1-inch cubes. Coat well with olive oil. Salt lightly. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 45-60 minutes. The timing is somewhat up to you, they just get sweeter if cooked longer.

Rome Apples
     These are one of the apples most recommended for baked apples. We think they make great applesauce too. Homemade applesauce: Peel & core several apples. Cut into chunks, and place in a pot with 1/4 -inch of water. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat, cover tightly, and simmer for 10 minutes. When soft, mash with a potato-masher. Taste, and add sweetener if you wish. 
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 19
                          
Our season is 26 weeks long. There are 7 more boxes.


In this box: 1/2# spinach, 1 Cabbage, 1 Spanish Sweet Onion, 2 Pimento sweet peppers, 3# Red Potatoes, 2 Acorn Squash, 1 bunch Beets, 1/2# Tomatillos, 2# Jonagold Apples from LaMancha Ranch & Orchard
(weights are approx.)  Everything is Organic!

Tomatillos

    Tomatillos are in the same botanical family as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes. The tomatillo comes in a papery husk that must be removed before using the fruit inside. Once you remove the husk, tomatillos can be eaten raw or cooked. Their flavor is tart, and fruity, somewhat like a green apple. Sticky on the outside and somewhat slippery inside, tomatillos make thick, smooth sauces. Tomatillos are a key ingredient in salsa verde, and in green enchilada sauce.
    For a classic salsa verde, chop your tomatillos coarsely and place in a food processor bowl. Add approximately 1 clove of garlic, 1/4 cup chopped sweet onion, a small slice of hot pepper (or more if you like it hot!), 2 Tbs. chopped cilantro or Italian parsley, the juice from half a lime (1 Tbs.), and 1/2 tsp. salt. Pulse several times until everything is chopped well (but not quite puréed). You can simmer this sauce for 10 minutes on the stove for a slightly different taste. Serve raw or cooked salsa with chips, mix with avocado for an awesome guacamole, or spoon on top of cooked fish, cheesy polenta, black beans, or baked winter squash.
    The tomatillos in your box today are ripe, and ready to eat. They will keep for up to a week on your kitchen counter. They will store best left in their husks, but NOT in the plastic bag. As they continue to ripen, tomatillos will turn from bright green toward yellow, and their flavor will become less tart & more fruity. They will not turn red like a tomato.

Pimento Peppers
    Pimento peppers are so much more than the little slivers of pickled red pepper that you find stuffed inside olives. But that is perhaps the way you most often see them. Pimento peppers are a very thick-walled variety of sweet pepper. We use them in all the same ways we use bell peppers. They are especially nice sliced on a plate of raw vegetables with a bowl of hummus or goat chévre for dipping.

Beets
    A versatile vegetable, beet roots can be used either raw (grated in salads) or cooked. Before cooking, trim off the leaves (save them for another use), then scrub the roots with a vegetable brush. You don't need to peel freshly dug, organic beets. You can steam whole beets until tender (25 - 30 minutes), then slice and toss with vinaigrette salad dressing. A quicker cooking method is to microwave beet roots in a covered dish with 1/4-cup liquid for 10 - 11 minutes, until tender, then slice & serve with butter, sour cream, or vinaigrette dressing.
     With the red beets and cabbage in today's box, you have the start of a great Borscht Soup (check your favorite cookbook, or the Internet for specific recipes).
    Beet greens can be substituted for chard in any recipe. Try them in:
Beet Green Pie
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Sauté 1 cup chopped onion & 1 clove minced garlic in 2 Tbs. cooking oil until browned.
Rinse 1 bunch beet greens & chop coarsely. Add to sauté pan.
Cook for 5 minutes, or until wilted.
Beat 6 eggs in a bowl.
Add 1 cup shredded cheese, and 1 tsp. salt.
Stir in cooked vegetables.
Pour into 2 cooked pie crusts. Bake 30 - 40 minutes (at 400 degrees) until the center is firm.

Jonagold Apples   
    This would be a good week to make applesauce or apple pie!

Cabbage   
   
Check last year's newsletters on the web site for a great recipe for cabbage & noodles! Or pour your favorite creamy salad dressing on a bowl of shredded cabbage for cabbage slaw.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 18
<>In this box: 1/2# spinach, 1 Pint cherry or grape Tomatoes, 2 Red Bottle Onions, 3 Italian sweet peppers, 3# Butterball Potatoes, 1 Sunshine Squash, 1 bunch Kale, 11/2# Roma, Sweet Girl, or Heirloom Tomatoes , 2# Cameo Apples from
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<>    Gala Springs Orchard  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
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German Butterball Potatoes
        German Butterball Potatoes have a flaky texture. They are one of the best potatoes for mashing or baking, and are also wonderful as a roasted potato. They are NOT the potato to choose for potato salad. Also, do not cut them if you will be boiling them, or they will "melt" into mashed potatoes right in the pot. This characteristic makes them wonderful for a creamy potato soup, or for mashed potatoes. I like to bake them whole (don't forget to poke the skin in several places before baking, or they may explode in your oven!). Bake at 350 - 375 degrees for 45 - 60 minutes, until soft.  My kids enjoy leftover baked potatoes in their lunchboxes. 
    Storing potatoes: Potatoes must be stored in the dark. You can store them in a paper bag in the refrigerator, or in a cool part of your kitchen. If you store them where there is light, the skins will turn green. Any green parts should be trimmed. Do not eat green potatoes.

Kale
      I notice many recipes that start with "remove the center rib from each leaf", but I don't usually feel this is necessary. I never remove any but the very bottom of the leaf stalk. Please consider using the whole kale leaf, including the center rib. Perhaps those instructions are more appropriate when you purchase kale at the grocery store that may have been picked weeks ago and has become tough and strong-flavored.
      Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish of mashed potatoes with kale (or cabbage). Onions are also included in many recipes. I had potatoes and kale in the kitchen the other day, and I was trying to think of ways to get my younger son interested in eating something green, so colcannon came to mind.  First, cook a pot of potatoes for mashing (either steam cut-up Butterball potatoes, or boil whole Butterball potatoes). While the potatoes are cooking, finely chop 1 bunch of kale. Place kale and 1/4 -inch of water in a pot with a lid. Steam kale for 5 minutes or until it wilts.  Drain Kale. Drain potatoes. Mash everything together with enough butter, milk, or cream to create the texture you prefer. Add salt & pepper to taste.
   
Red "Bottle" Onions
    These pungent and flavorful onions remind me of shallots. You can finely chop them and use like shallots in a salad dressing, or use them as a cooking onion. Originally from the Calabrese region of Italy, these onions would be lovely cooked into a tomato sauce, or sliced on a pizza!

Tomatoes
    Due to the recent cool weather, today's tomatoes (particularly the cherry or grape tomatoes) need a few days to ripen up. We decided they would ripen better on your kitchen counter than if left on the plants in this damp weather.  The best way to keep them is to spread them out on a paper plate or paper towel, leave them on your counter, and eat the ripest ones first. (Tomatoes should never be refrigerated).

Sunshine Squash (in today's box) is a variety of Kabocha winter squash, bred by Johnny's Selected seeds in Albion Maine a few years ago.  We think it is one of the best tasting winter squashes. The skin of Sunshine squash is tender enough that it doesn't need to be peeled. Store winter squashes at room temperature.
   
Cooking Sunshine Squash
- There are several options for cooking winter squash. Most varieties of winter squash can be steamed, baked, sautéed, or used in soups or stews. Cooking method depends on how much time you have, what texture you are looking for in the finished dish, and how large & sharp your kitchen knife is. Steaming is quicker. Baking takes longer. Sunshine squash is fairly tender when cooked, so steaming or baking are good choices. Butternut squash (which you will see some week soon) holds its shape better when cooked, so is a good choice for a sauté or curry.
Steamed squash: Using a large, sharp knife, cut squash in half. Scoop out the seeds with a large spoon. Then slice the squash into “smile”-shaped pieces, approximately ½” thick. Steam for 10 – 20 minutes until tender. Serve with butter.

Baked squash:
If you don’t have a large, sharp knife, you can bake squash whole. However, I prefer to cut my squash in half, scoop out the seeds, then place the halves cut-side-down in a baking dish with ½-inch of water.The water in the pan will keep the edges moist, and also helps the squash bake faster than in a dry pan. Bake at 350 – 375 degrees for 60- 90 minutes, or until very soft. When the squash has cooled to touch, mash with butter or coconut milk. Baked, mashed squash is better than pumpkin in any pumpkin pie recipe.     Our favorite recipe for Sunshine Squash is to bake it until soft, then mash with 1/2 can of coconut milk. It's also delicious cut into "smiles", and steamed. Serve with salt and/or butter.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 17

In this box: 1 Garlic, 1 Pint Grape Tomatoes, 1 Sweet Onion, 1# Italian sweet peppers, 2 Delicata Squash, 6 jalapeno Peppers, 1 bunch basil, 1/2# spinach, 2# Liberty Apples from La Mancha Ranch (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Liberty Apples
    Our friends Anita and David own and operate La Mancha Ranch and Orchard in Sweet Home.  They grow apples, peaches, cherries, hazelnuts, and beef on their beautiful ranch in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.  The cool nights and good air drainage of their hillside orchard are perfect for growing apples.  This week's apples are Liberty, and you can expect to see their apples several more times this fall.

Delicata Squash 
    The squash in your box may be enjoyed several ways because delicata have skins that are tender enough to be eaten.  If you slice them in half lengthwise and remove the seeds, they can then be sliced crosswise into "smiles" that can be steamed or sautéed in 5-10 minutes.  If you have more time, half squash can be baked at 350 degrees for about an hour until tender.  Many people like to add butter or other toppings to these "boats" though they are good plain as well.  The halves can also be stuffed with various fillings, to turn them into a full meal though this may increase the baking time. 
    If you have trouble cutting the squash, it can be baked whole, then cut and seeded when it is soft (after cooling enough to be handled.)
    Winter squash should not be refrigerated, and will keep for many weeks on your counter if you don't cook it right away.  You don't need to hoard it however because we will have various winter squash in the box many times this fall.

Fall is here according to the calendar, and the weather feels fall like as well.  We have harvested all the onions and winter squash, and still need to finish bringing in the potatoes and sweet potatoes.  These four crops we store for marketing throughout fall and much of the winter. Other crops like kale, carrots, leeks, and cabbage can stay and grow in the field through most of our winters, to be picked as needed.  We are glad they can wait for our attention because we need to prepare the soil for planting, garlic, onions, and fava beans. These fall-planted crops will be harvested early next summer if all goes well.  If we don't get the soil prepared before the fall rains turn our soil into mud, the roots won't be happy.  Hopefully there will be a few more dry days this season as we have lots to do yet.

    Another fall task involves changing the crops in the passive solar greenhouses that we call "tunnels" or "hoop houses".  Winters here are too cool and dark to grow tomatoes, peppers, basil, and other summer crops, but greens such as spinach, lettuce, and chard can thrive in the hoop houses when the warm season crops cannot.  This week we are seeding spinach where the beans have finished producing, and transplanting lettuce where some of the tired heirloom tomato plants are being removed.  It is important to start the winter crops soon enough that they are well established before the darkest coldest days in November through January.  Otherwise they won't produce much until the days start to lengthen, and by then we are thinking about tomatoes and basil again.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 16

In this box: 1 Lettuce, 4 ears Corn, 1 Red "Burger" Onion-just made for slicing and  layering on a burger!, 3# Butterball Potatoes, 1 basket cherry tomatoes (on the NPR.org web site, the  weekly Kitchen Window blog from August 28, 2013 has great information & recipes for roasted cherry tomatoes),  bunch Collards, 1 Leek , 1# Canadice Grapes, 2# Gala Apples, (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Change of seasons
    People who are not connected with a local farm may notice the change in seasons by the geese flying overhead (I saw my first flock of geese a few days ago), or by the school busses on their routes to-and-from school.
    To you, who are members of a local farm, this time of year brings some new items to your Harvest Box-this week, apples (from our friends at Gala Springs Farm), and seedless table grapes (from our neighbors at Reynolds Farm). Soon, our winter squash and sweet potatoes will be harvested, and their orange sweetness will grace your box, and your table. 
    To those of us on the farm, September is a very busy month where we try to harvest all our storage crops for the winter (onions, potatoes, winter squash, and sweet potatoes) AND prepare ground for winter's kale, collards, & spinach; and next year's garlic, fava beans, and spring onions before the rains make the ground too soggy to plant.
    Tom was in a mild panic last week when the weather forecast called for serious rain to start this week. We simply must get our potatoes and onions out of the ground and into dry storage before the rains soak the fields. A quick calculation told us that we didn't have enough storage boxes for our estimated harvest (not to mention dry storage space), so last week we were tearing around trying to locate about 2000 crates for our onions-and figure out how to get them to the farm so our onions could be gathered before the rain arrived. Fortunately, on Saturday we heard that an old farmer friend was retiring, and selling off his wooden apple bins. Our crew drove to Albany for several loads of wooden bins, and all hands worked from morning until evening in the onion field. By Saturday evening, we had about 50 bins of onions safe in dry storage, the onion field was empty, and everyone slept well that night.

Collard Greens with Pasta & Feta (my favorite recipe for collards!)

  1. Cook 1 lb pasta (penne, fusili, or shells) in salted water until al dente.
  2. Heat 6 Tbs. olive oil in a deep skillet. Add 2 cloves garlic, minced. Cook gently (medium heat) for 5 minutes.
  3. Add 1 bunch collards, sliced in thin ribbons, stir for 2 minutes.
  4. Add a handful of halved cherry tomatoes. Cover & cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. 
  5. Remove lid, crumble 1 cup feta cheese on vegetables. Mix gently.
  6. Drain pasta. Add to vegetables & feta. Simmer, covered, over low heat for 3 minutes.
  7. Serve with freshly ground pepper to taste.


Corn--Ever wonder why the corn at the supermarket often has the tips cut off?
    The Willamette Valley is home to a moth that likes to lay its eggs in the silk at the top of young ears of corn (hence the name, corn earworm). After hatching, the young larva slowly eats its way down from the tip. We try to pick out any ears that are hosting these larvae before putting them in your box, but a few may have escaped our notice. Fortunately, the larvae start at the top, and take a long time to eat very much. If you find a corn earworm has taken up home in your corn, you can just cut off the tip, and the rest of the ear should be untouched. If you're grilling corn in the husks, check the tip of each ear before roasting on the grill.

Footnotes from last week's newsletter:
    Just so you know, you can make caramelized onions from any kind of onion, not just the Kelsae onions in last week's box. I gave the recipe last week primarily because the onions were so large, and caramelizing is an easy way to use up a giant onion. If you ever find yourself with too many onions, you can caramelize a variety of onions together. If you have shiitake mushrooms in the house, add them to the pan for a really nice combination.
    Melons: I forgot to mention in the newsletter last week that our melons are picked ripe. I should have suggested storing them directly in the refrigerator. I apologize if your melons were overripe by the time you cut into them. Our intention is to put only top quality fruits & vegetables in your box. If you ever get something that is not up to par, visit us at the Farmers Market and we would be happy to replace it. We're at the Farmers Market in Corvallis every Weds & Saturday, and Salem on Wednesdays.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 15

In this box: 1 Lettuce, 1 head Broccoli, 1 Onion, 2# Red Potatoes-great for potato salad or boiled potatoes,
2# Tomatoes,  2 Red Bell Pepper, 1 Yellow Bell Pepper, 1 Basket French Petite Plums, 2 Melons (weights are approx.)
Everything is Organic!

In this Box
Kelsae Onion.
    This large, mild, Spanish-type onion is excellent for onion rings, or caramelized onions.  The longer an onion is cooked, the milder & sweeter it becomes. Caramelizing capitalizes on this effect, resulting in a very sweet dish.
Caramlized Onions are a side dish that is always popular with our kids. It's good to start with a really large onion, because it cooks down quite a bit.
    We like to sauté onions over medium-high heat (with plenty of olive oil & salt, and enough stirring to prevent burning) until the color darkens and the onion sugars become caramelized (15 - 20 minutes). Or slice onions, coat with salt & olive oil, and roast (uncovered) in a pan in a 325-degree oven for 45 - 55 minutes until very soft, and slightly browned. A touch of balsamic vinegar toward the end is nice.

French Petite plum  
    This old variety is incredibly sweet. We like them for fresh eating or cooking (plum tart, or stewed plums on cheesecake...). If you have a food dehydrator, this plum is amazing when dried!

We can't do this all by ourselves, and fortunately we don't have to...
    Tom had an exciting morning on Saturday.  Like he does every week, he got up at 3:00am so that he could be on the road to the Beaverton Farmers market with his truck full of produce by 3:45.  Unlike the other weeks however, his throttle cable broke as he was trying to merge onto highway 217, and he had to coast to the shoulder and put on his emergency flashers.  We have a great truck repair shop in Albany, but that is 60 miles to the south.  He called a farmer friend who was already at the market. That friend knew a towing company that could haul our 20,000-pound truck, and his wife used her smart phone to find a mobile mechanic.  
    While waiting for the tow truck to arrive Tom called the market manager and asked if there was somewhere near the market where the tow truck could bring our truck that would not be in the way, because there was no way we could be towed to our market spot since all our neighbors would be setting up.  The manager flagged off a row in the parking lot a block north of the market so it would not fill up with cars.   Also while waiting for the tow truck two different farmers called to volunteer their trucks to shuttle our produce to the market, but the breakdown location was too dangerous to transfer from one truck to another because the shoulder was barely as wide as the truck. 
By the time the tow truck got everything hooked up and towed us to the market, it was 1/2 hour before the 8 AM opening bell.  Normally with our truck parked in the back of our market space it takes 21/2 hours for 8 experienced people to unload 10,000 pounds of produce, tables, scales, etc. Put up a 22'x40' shelter, and build a nice display.  Tom thought they would miss several hours of the market while they carried the stuff a block to the market space and set up a minimal display.  But when he arrived at the parking lot dozens of people also showed up.  Our staff, market staff, people from many other farms, and early bird customers.  They had hand trucks, pallet jacks and pallets, wheelbarrows, carts, and willing arms.   While Tom paid the tow bill, they swarmed the truck, and like giant ants formed a line with their burdens from the truck to our market space.  When Tom finished talking with the mechanic, the tarp and tables were up, and half the display was built.  The opening bell rang at 8:00 and the scales and cashboxes were ready, the display looked fantastic, and the last signs were being hung up.  Most of the customers could not even tell that it wasn't a normal day for us.
    A tragedy was transformed into a triumph by a market community flash mob, and everybody involved was moved by the experience.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 14

In this box: 1/2 # Spinach, 1 bu Parsley, 1 bu Radishes, 2# German Butterball Potatoes, 1# Heirloom Tomatoes, 1 basket Cherry Tomatoes, 2 Yellow Bell Peppers, 1 Tuscan Cantaloupe!, 1 Honeydew Melon!! (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Ripe Bell Peppers
     Peppers come in so many shapes, colors & flavors; from sweet to very hot, from blocky to long and thin, green, purple, white, orange, yellow, or red.  Originally from Central America, peppers are now an essential ingredient in cuisines around the world.  Traditionally many cultures dried peppers for seasoning food year round, chili powder, paprika, cayenne, dried sweet pepper flakes, and those hot little dried red peppers from Sichuan cooking come to mind.  We eat most of ours fresh, or freeze them for winter use.  Often we roast them before freezing for a richer flavor. If you are interested in roasting a bunch of peppers for the winter, we can take orders for a 15-pound box of "seconds" peppers for $20.  Peppers are in the same family as tomatoes, and like tomatoes are best if they are not stored in the refrigerator.  Since peppers are a semi-tropical fruit, refrigerator temperatures will cause flavor and texture changes that are undesirable.  Also like tomatoes, peppers start out green, or sometimes purple, or cream colored, becoming red, yellow or orange as they ripen.  When ripe the flavor becomes sweeter, richer, and less bitter. 
Ripe peppers also contain many time more vitamins C & A than green peppers do. Here's a quotable fact for the week: a cup of chopped ripe pepper has more vitamin C than a cup of orange juice.

Parsley
    Our family enjoys parsley regularly, especially in Quinoa tabbouleh (find the recipe on our web site-Last Year's Newsetters Week 7), and also as a cooked vegetable-added to stir-fry dishes and soups.
    Here are a couple of new ideas from the book: from Asparagus to Zucchini (Madison Area CSA Coalition)

Parsley Pasta Sauce
1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves       
1/4 cup olive oil                   
1 tsp dried oregano               
1/2 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp black pepper           
2 cloves garlic
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Combine parsley, olive oil, oregano, salt, garlic, and pepper in food processor. Chop finely. Add sour cream & Parmesan; puree. Place mixture in a saucepan; heat to almost boiling. Serve over cooked pasta.

Chimichurri sauce is an Argentinean sauce or condiment, similar to pesto, that is popular throughout South America. It can be used both as a marinade and a sauce for grilled steak, but you can use it also with fish, chicken, or even pasta. This would also be a great stuffing for Portabello mushroom!   
     Finely chop 1 cup parsley leaves, 2 Tbs fresh oregano leaves (or 2 tsp dried oregano), and 3-4 cloves garlic in a food processor. Place in a small bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 Tbs. red or white wine vinegar, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, and 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes. Taste to adjust seasonings.

Our Annual Members Day on the Farm was last Sunday
   We appreciate all who took the time to come to the farm, and hope you all enjoyed the farm tour, the food, the lovely shade in the front yard, the strawberry punch, and the socializing. Tom & I enjoyed ourselves, and we're happy that so many of you took the time out of your Labor Day weekend to visit with us.
    Someone left a metal serving spoon. Let me know if it's yours, and I will send it next week to your drop site.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 13

In this box: 1 bunch Basil, 1 head Garlic, 1# Romano beans, 1# summer squash, 2# Tomatoes, 1 Red Onion, 1 basket Cherry Tomatoes, 2# Red Gold potatoes-a great all-around potato.  You can use it for mashing, smashing, boiling, potato salad,, roasting.... , 2 Yellow Bell Peppers, 1 basket Plums or 1 Tuscan Melon (we hope to have melons next week for those who get plums this week)  (weights are approx.)  Everything is Organic!
 
Romano (Italian) Pole Beans grow on vines that will climb a trellis or pole 10-feet high or more-we try to stop ours at about 6 feet, or we would need ladders to pick them.  Pole beans have largely been replaced by bush beans in the US because bush beans can be harvested by machine. Romano beans get sweeter and richer tasting as they grow bigger, but if they get too big they become leathery and tough. Our pickers try to let them get big and sweet before picking,
while trying to get them before they become tough.  Sometimes though a tough one or two will get picked.  If the cook snaps these beans into bite sized pieces rather than cutting them with a knife, any tough beans will be recognized because they won't snap, and can be discarded.

My favorite recipes
     Two of my favorite recipes for basil, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and green beans were in the newsletter a few weeks ago. See Week 9 Newsletter for Summer Pasta salad with Basil, and Sautéed Zucchini, Basil, Cherry Tomatoes & Olives. At the time, I didn't have space for my all-time favorite recipe for Romano Green Beans. Read on for a great green bean salad recipe.

Green Beans with Red Onion and Mustard Seed Vinaigrette
Ingredients:
3 Tbs. olive oil, divided
2 Tbs. yellow mustard seeds
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup red-wine vinegar
1 lb. beans, snapped in bite-size pieces

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 red onion stirring, until golden brown (8-10 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in 1/3 cup red-wine vinegar, then add to mustard seeds 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.       
(slightly modified from Gourmet, August 2001)

Annual Members Day on the Farm   
Rain or shine!
Sunday, September 1, from 2-6 pm  
Farm Tour at 2:00; Potluck at 4:00 

Come to the farm for part or all of the afternoon. The farm tour starts at 2pm, and a potluck follows around 4.
  
You are invited to bring comfortable walking shoes for the farm tour, a potluck dish to share, and a blanket or lawn chair. Please bring your own plates & cutlery for the potluck.
We will provide Strawberry punch and Blackberry soda-made from our berries, of course.
  
You are welcome to drop in at any time between 2 & 6 pm to see the farm,
or just sit in the shade and enjoy the good company of other Harvest Box members.
    
Directions to the farm: Our address is 1835 NE Steele Ave. Steele Avenue is on Hwy 20, 4 miles north of Corvallis (and 7 miles south of Albany). Turn onto Steele across from the Children's Farm Home, and follow Steele to the end of the road.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 12

In this box: 1 head lettuce, 1# Romano beans, 1# summer squash, 8 ears Corn, 2# Slicing tomatoes, 4 jalapeno peppers, 1 Sweet Onion, 1 basket Cherry Tomatoes, 1 bskt Raspberries (Salem & Albany boxes) OR Strawberries (Corvallis)
(weights are approx.)  Everything is Organic!
 
New world vegetables
     Although there are no potatoes in the box this week, it is a good time to acknowledge the contributions of new world plant breeders to our diets.  Before Columbus, the diets of Europeans did not include corn, beans, squash, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, or chocolate.  We can't grow chocolate in the Willamette Valley, but all those other crops thrive here.  It's hard to imagine Italian or French cuisine without tomatoes, and peppers, or the Germans and Irish without potatoes, but before Columbus, Europeans ate a lot more cabbage, turnips, and carrots.

Jalapeno
     We never know how many hot peppers we should put in the box.  For some peoples' tastes one is more than enough, while others would enjoy a pound of them.  In our house we eat homemade salsa by the quart, but our kids generally like it best with only chopped tomato, sweet onion, and cilantro.  Tom thinks salsa "should" have minced jalapeno in it, but more than a slice or two minced in the salsa means most of us won't eat very much of it.  It's important to know that most of the heat in hot peppers is in the seeds and the membrane that holds the seeds.  If you are using chilies in a dish where you want less heat, removing the seeds and membrane will give you a milder result, while leaving the seeds in will give more fire.  Do not touch the seeds or cut peppers with your fingers if you can avoid it, because the hot compounds are easily transferred via the fingers to the eyes, nose, or other delicate body parts, that will burn as a result.

Jalapeno Poppers-two different ways
    Slice Jalapenos in half the long way so that with the seeds and stem removed they look like little boats.  Fill with a mixture of refried beans and cream cheese.  Top with a slice of sharp cheddar and place in a 350-degree oven for 20 - 30 minutes. If the cheese is not yet bubbly, turn on the broiler until the cheese browns and melts a bit.  Serve warm for an exciting snack or appetizer.
 
    Here's a slightly sweet version that Maggie tried for a party last week: Slice jalapenos in half  & scoop out the seeds as above. Then drizzle half a spoonful of maple syrup in each pepper half, then fill with cream cheese (or Neufchatel cheese for a lower-fat version). Cut a strip of bacon in half, wrap around each piece of filled pepper, and secure with a toothpick. Place on a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet to allow bacon to crisp on all sides. Bake at 375 degrees until bacon is crisp on all sides (20 - 40 minutes depending on the thickness of your bacon and size of the peppers).

Annual Members Day on the Farm        
Sunday, September 1st  from 2-6 pm  
Farm Tour at 2:00; Potluck at 4:00  (Rain or shine!)

   Come  to the farm for part or all of the afternoon. The farm tour starts at 2:00, and a potluck follows around 4:00.
   You are invited to bring a potluck dish to share, a blanket or lawn chair, and comfortable walking shoes for the farm tour. (Please bring your own plates & cutlery). We will provide beverages.
  
You are welcome to drop in at any time between 2 & 6 pm to see the farm, or just sit in the shade and enjoy the good company of other Harvest Box members.
    
Directions to the farm: Our address is 1835 NE Steele Ave. Steele Avenue is on Hwy 20, 4 miles north of Corvallis (and 7 miles south of Albany). Turn onto Steele across from the Children's Farm Home, and follow Steele to the end of the road. Once you cross the tracks, you're on our farm.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 11

In this box:
1 bunch Basil, 1 garlic, 1 head Cauliflower, 6 ears Corn, 1# Tigerella or Gold Roma Tomatoes, 1/2# Jimmy Nardelo Sweet Italian Peppers, 2# Red Gold potatoes, 1 basket Blackberries, 1 bskt Raspberries or Plums

(weights are approx.)  Everything is Organic!

   We woke this morning to a power outage on the farm.  A delivery truck clipped a power pole and caused a short in the lines to the farm. So, we're having a power-free morning, and I'm hand-writing the newsletter (and later transcribing it to the web site).

Jimmy Nardelo Sweet Italian Peppers
      This is an heirloom variety of sweet Italian pepper. According to one story, the seeds were originally brought to the US on a boat when the Nardelo family emigrated from Italy. We think these are the sweetest Italian peppers. They are gbest sautéed in olive oil with a little garlic. When very soft, and maybe starting to brown, serve on crusty Italian bread (with or without Italian sausage), or mix with pasta.

Corn on the grill   
   Corn is best wthen just picked. Eat it soon.
   One of our favorite ways to cook fresh corn is in the husk on the grill. Just place fresh, unhusked corn over medium flame for 20 - 25 minutes, turning over after 15 minutes. Or pull back the husks, remove the silks, spread herb butter on kernels, close up the husk again, and grill as above.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 10

In this box: 1/2# Salad Mix, 1 head Broccoli, 6 ears Corn, 1# Tigerella Tomatoes, 3/4# Sweet Italian Peppers, 1 basket Strawberries, 1 basket Blackberries, 1 basket Figs   (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
 
It's a "sweet" box today, with sweet corn, sweet Italian peppers, and 3 kinds of fruit-4 if you count tomatoes (which are technically a fruit).

Sweet Italian Peppers
    The long, skinny peppers in your box today are Sweet Italian Peppers. These peppers are great for fresh-eating, just like bell peppers, but they are even better when stir-fried! We like to cut them into small pieces, remove the seeds, then fry in a hot sauté pan in olive oil until soft and starting to brown. You can serve them as a simple dish, just stirred into a bowl of hot pasta, or piled on top of a sandwich bun. Or, you can use fried peppers as a sweet accent to any stir-fry, or stuffed into an omelet.
    If Chiles rellenos are part of your culinary repertoire, you should try making them with Sweet Italian Peppers. Italian peppers are easy to roast. I roast my peppers under the broiler: Rinse peppers and place on a baking sheet with edges to catch the juices. Broil peppers until the skin bubbles up and starts to char, turning to char all sides. Keep your eye on the peppers while broiling to catch them when slightly charred on each side. Then turn off the oven and close the door for 5 minutes to finish cooking. The peppers will "wilt" onto the pan when they are fully cooked. After 5 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool just enough to handle. Then peel and remove the seeds. At this point, the roasted peppers can be used for Chiles rellenos, roasted pepper sauce, antipasto, or any other roasted pepper recipe.

Tigerella Tomatoes
    I like to call Tom a "seed nerd". He spends many hours studying seed catalogs and websites of dozens of seed companies.  Every year in addition to our tried-and-true varieties, he tries lots of new varieties hoping to find something that tastes and grows better than what we have been using.  We're always looking for the best varieties for our soils and climate-and sometimes the best variety is different from year-to-year.  Tigerella is an heirloom that we grew for the first time this year.  It grew quite well in our passive solar greenhouses under our Organic methods (we use only natural fertilizers, and no pesticides on any of our crops.)   We really like the sweet/tart traditional tomato flavor, and juicy texture, and they're cute too.
    The best storage temperature for tomatoes is room temperature. Please resist the urge to put your tomatoes in the refrigerator to prolong their shelf life. Refrigerator temperatures will ruin the flavor & texture of tomatoes. If your tomatoes start to feel too soft, eat them, or cook them into sauce.
    Recipe suggestion: These tigerella tomatoes inspire me to get a long loaf of Italian or Ciabatta bread. Slice it lengthwise into two halves. Turn on the grill (or broiler), and toast the cut side of the bread for about 3 minutes. While it is still hot, rub the toasted surface with a cut clove of garlic. Then cover with sliced tigerella tomatoes (if yours are a little too soft to slice, just crush them and spread on the bread). Sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt and enjoy.

Finally, please eat your salad mix soon-don't expect it to last until the weekend in good condition.  Best to eat it today or tomorrow.

Member's Day on the Farm
Farm Tour & Potluck
Sunday, September 1st
Guided farm tour: 2-4
Potluck in the shade:  4-6
Come for all or part of the afternoon.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 9

In this box: 1 head lettuce, 1 bu Radish, 1 bu Basil, 1 head Broccoli, 1# summer squash, 1 red onion, 1# Sweet Girl Tomatoes, 3/4# Romano Green Beans, 1 basket Blackberries, 1 basket Figs (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
 
Summer Pasta salad with Basil
      I'm always on the lookout for great, simple new recipes to share with you. Here's one I picked up from Trader Joe's - where they were sampling a simple pasta salad. It has similar ingredients to a classic pesto, but it's way simpler (because you don't end up with a dirty food processor), and the dried tomatoes really add an exciting flavor. Of course, I suggest using our local, organic basil & tomatoes (did you dry your romas last week?), but I highly recommend this recipe, even if you need to pick up some dried tomatoes at the store. This recipe works just as well with gluten-free pasta as with wheat pasta. I've made it 4 times this past week!
1. Cook 1 pound pasta in boiling, salted water.
2. While pasta cooks, finely chop 1 bunch fresh basil leaves & tender stems
3. Chop 1 handful dried tomatoes 
4. Drain pasta. Return to pot. Gently stir in 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, chopped basil, and chopped dried tomatoes. Add salt  & coarse-ground pepper to taste.
   

Fresh Figs
    Although some of you may have only tasted figs in the middle of a Fig Newton, there are many other ways to enjoy this ancient fruit. Fresh figs can be enjoyed straight from the tree, with no additional fuss or adornment. This is my favorite way to eat them. Or make Fig Purée: Purée fresh figs in a food processor, adding a little warm water if needed for smoother consistency. Serve on French toast, mix with plain yogurt, spoon over vanilla ice cream, or place a spoonful of fig purée between layers of muffin batter before baking.

Romano Green Beans with Red Onion & Mustard Seed Vinaigrette
    We never get tired of just steaming our Romano beans for 3-4 minutes, and serving them straight from the pot. For another great recipe, check Last Year's Newsletters (Week 9) for Green Beans with Mustard Seed Vinaigrette.
 

Sautéed Zucchini, Basil, Cherry Tomatoes, and Olives
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound zucchini, cut into 1/2 -inch thick slices or matchsticks
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 cups small cherry tomatoes, halved (or 1# Sweet Girl tomatoes, quartered)
1/3 cup halved pitted Kalamata olives
1/4 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. Sauté until zucchini is just tender, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and olives. Sauté 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.

Instagram anyone?
   Tom & I are not particularly adept with modern technology, but some of our customers & employees have been sharing photos through instagram. I encourage you to add photos (of your Harvest Box, or delicious meals prepared with our produce) to instagram #Denisonfarms.
   Note: make sure you  hashtag #Denisonfarms-not Denisonfarm, as there is a "Denison Farm" in New York State (no relation to us that we are aware of). The NY farm doesn't add the "s" to the end of "farm" on their website or instagram site.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 8

In this box: 1 head lettuce, 1/2# Spinach (Corvallis boxes) ,OR 1 bu. Kale (Alb/Salem)) 1 # Summer Squash, 1 sweet onion, 11/2# Roma Tomatoes, 1# Heirloom Tomatoes, 2# Sierra Gold Potatoes, 1 basket Strawberries, 1 basket Plums
(weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

 
Please return your empty tub every week. Our packing crew needs all boxes to stay in circulation. Thank you.

Roma Tomatoes
      I suggest turning your roma tomatoes into dried tomatoes this week. There are so many wonderful things you can do with dried tomatoes! (We can eat a whole pan-full just for an afternoon snack). They enliven any number of recipes with intensified, sweet flavor.  I have a new recipe that I plan to put in the newsletter next time we have basil for you-and if you dry this week's roma tomatoes (and keep yourself from eating them all right away), you will be all set for one of the easiest pasta dinners ever created.
    You can dry nearly any variety of tomato (larger, juicier ones just take longer), but Romas dry especially well. It's a little easier to dry tomatoes if you have a food dehydrator, but the oven also works quite well-you just need to keep an eye on things because they can get too dry if you leave them too long.
Oven-Dried Tomatoes
    Rinse tomatoes, and slice in half lengthwise. Place halves, cut-side up, in a single layer on a large cookie sheet. They can be pretty close together, because they will shrink as they dry, but don't overlap. (Optional: line the cookie sheet first with parchment paper to keep the tomato acids from discoloring the pan).
    Place the pan of tomatoes in a 200-degree oven for at least 4 hours. Check every hour after 4 hours, and remove smaller pieces after they have shrunk, when they no longer feel juicy, but before they become crispy. They will get harder as they cool, but you want to catch them before they are crispy, or your future recipe options will be more limited.  You have some
leeway on catching them at the perfect moment, but don't leave them unattended overnight.
    Fortunately, dried tomatoes have excellent eating quality over a wide range of dryness. You can taste-test a few every hour and pull them out of the oven when they reach the texture you prefer. If your tomatoes seem nearly-, but not quite dry enough when you want to go to bed, you can turn off the oven, leave the pan in the oven overnight, then turn the heat on again in the morning.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Once your tomatoes have reached the texture you prefer, allow them to cool, then seal in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator or freezer until you want to use them. Unless you have dried yours to a crisp, they could become moldy if you leave them on the counter.

Patty Pan Summer Squash
    "Patty pan" squash is a very close relative to zucchini. I find the texture of patty pan squash a little firmer than zucchini, not quite so watery. If you have a favorite zucchini recipe, patty pan squash can be used instead of zucchini. If you want to try something new, and especially nice with patty pan squash, slice them along the "equator" (if yours are more round, slice into additional disks),  coat the cut sides with olive oil, and place them on the grill until the cut sides are slightly charred.
 
Potatoes
     Sierra Gold potatoes are another great all-around potato. We like to cut them in chunks, coat them with a generous amount of olive oil, sprinkle with salt & chili powder, then roast in a 375-degree oven for about an hour, until the outside is crispy and the insides are tender. Stir after 40 minutes. Sierra Gold potatoes will also work well for hashed-browned potatoes or latkes, if that is part of your kitchen repertoire.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 7

In this box: 1 head lettuce, 1 bunch Basil, 1 head Garlic, 1/2# Spinach (Albany & Salem) OR 1 bunch Kale (Corvallis)
1# Sweet Girl Tomatoes, 1# Mixed Heirloom & Specialty Tomatoes, 2# Red Gold Potatoes, 1 basket Strawberries, 1 basket Plums (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

On the farm this week
      Mid-July has passed. Our early corn has tassels, and should be ready in a few weeks. This year's garlic crop has been harvested and the ground is already planted with a new crop of lettuce for the fall. My kitchen (and your Harvest Box) is full of tomatoes & basil. The air is thick with the dust of Willamette Valley grass-seed harvests. Our neighbors have harvested their grass seed, and the field below us (which is a wetland in the winter) is now full of huge bales of straw. In spite of a somewhat cool & cloudy day today, the weather forecasts suggest hot summertime weather for the rest of the month.
 
Potatoes-new recipe for roasted potato salad!   
     People often ask me which potato is best for potato salad, or for roasting, or for grilling, or for soup, or for whatever their favorite recipe is. Fortunately, most of our potatoes are considered all-around potatoes, with a texture appropriate to nearly any recipe. (The exception is our German Butterball potatoes, which were in the box a few weeks ago, and should not be used for potato salad because they are too flaky, and will fall apart). 
     The Red Gold potatoes in your box today are close cousins of the versatile Yukon Gold potato. Red Gold potatoes are excellent for potato salad, roasted potatoes, grilled potatoes, chunky "smashed" potatoes (especially nice with blue cheese mashed in), or for adding to soups & stew.
     I have a new favorite recipe to share this week, inspired by the July 2013 issue of Sunset Magazine: Roasted Potato Salad with Creamy Dijon Vinaigrette. If you have any potatoes left in your refrigerator from previous week's harvest boxes, go ahead and use them all-the slightly different textures in the finished dish are an asset. This recipe can be doubled (or tripled) if you have a large enough roasting pan.
Roasted Potatoes (with optional Creamy Dijon Vinaigrette)
1. Cut 2-3 pounds of potatoes into wedges (like giant French-fries)
2. Place in a large zip-top bag. Pour 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper on top of potatoes in bag. Close bag tightly and shake to coat everything evenly.
3. Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes, turning pieces over after 20 minutes, and checking again at 30 minutes, until browned and tender.
4. Serve immediately as warm roasted potatoes (my kids prefer them this way, with no added dressing), or
5. Whisk together 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil with 1 1/2 Tbs. white wine vinegar or herb vinegar, 2 tsp. Dijon mustard, and 2 tsp. minced fresh herb (thyme, tarragon, parsley, or basil). Pour dressing over warm potatoes. Stir gently. Serve warm.

Basil....Here are some of my favorite things to do with basil.
1) Layer basil leaves in a cheese sandwich instead of lettuce.
2) Top hot, roasted potatoes with pesto:  Blend 4 Tbs oil, 1 bunch basil, and 2 cloves garlic in food processor. Roast potatoes as above to step 3-pouring pesto mixture on potatoes after first 20 minutes in the oven. Stir, and continue roasting for an additional 10 - 20 minutes.
3) Chop basil stems into soups & stews.
4) Add a whole handful of chopped basil to a simmering tomato sauce.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 6
In this box: 1 head lettuce, 1 bunch Green Onions (from Groundwork Organics), 1# Summer squash, 2# Romano Green Beans, 1# Mixed Heirloom & Specialty Tomatoes, 2# Romanze Potatoes, 1 basket Raspberries, 1 basket Blueberries (fromGroundwork Organics)  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Tomato medley   
    To show off some of the variety of colors, textures, and flavors in the tomato world, this week's box has a medley of specialty tomatoes. Tom and I spent years trying to decide which heirloom tomato was our favorite.  Eventually we realized that we could not pick a favorite, but enjoyed having a variety in our salads, salsas, and sandwiches. A plate of rainbow-colored tomato slices doesn't need any fancy dressing, but I like to sprinkle my heirloom tomatoes with a touch of salt or a tiny drizzle of balsamic vinegar to really enhance the delicate flavors. Enjoy!

Romano Green Beans
    We have no problem, however, choosing our favorite green bean-this traditional Italian Romano pole bean.  They are called pole beans because they can climb a teepee of poles placed for their support and reach 8, 10, 12' or more in height.  We grow them only about 7' high on a trellis because they are hard to pick above that.  The extra foliage and vigor in these tall vines give them a flavor advantage over bush beans, but because bush beans can be machine picked they have almost completely replaced pole beans in the grocery store.
    Romano green beans can be cooked any way you would cook a standard green bean, but please remember that they are more tender (don't overcook them). Romano Beans cook more quickly than other beans. We like to steam them for about 3 minutes, then add a little butter and serve. They are also wonderful as a sir-fried green bean: Steam for 2 minutes. Drain & pat dry with paper towels. Then toss into a hot sauté pan with olive oil and 1 clove minced garlic. Sauté until the skin on the beans blisters slightly.  Add a touch of salt to taste and serve hot.
   
Groundwork Organic Farm-Blueberries & Green Onions
    Gabe Cox started working for us 15 years ago when he was in his early 20's.  We have had a number of employees start successful farms of their own, but Gabe was probably the most eager student.  Gabe was the one who got us started growing strawberries-which have now become a major crop for us. While he was working for us, Gabe planted the entire yard of his rental house to strawberries, and after he got expert at growing them he convinced us we should grow them too.  Gabe and his wife Sophie now have an organic farm just north of Eugene that is twice the size of ours, and they are famous for their strawberries.  We still share information, equipment, supplies and seeds etc. with them regularly.  We also put their produce in our harvest box when they have things we don't grow like blueberries and green onions.  This week our cherry tomatoes are going into their Harvest Boxes.

Members are invited to our annual Member's Day on the Farm
Farm Tour & Potluck Sunday, September 1st From 2 - 6 pm
    The date is set, and we're already planning for this year's Member's day on the farm. We've set aside Sunday afternoon of Labor Day weekend, and invite all our Harvest Box members to our annual farm tour & potluck. It will be a lovely time. Please mark the date on your calendars. We'll send  more details & directions to the farm a few weeks before the event.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 5

In this box: 1 head lettuce, 1 bunch Parsley, 1# carrots, 1 bunch Chard (fromSpringhill Organic Farm),  2 cucumbers, 1# Red Roma, Gold Roma, or Slicing Tomatoes, 2# Butterball Potatoes, 1 basket Gold Raspberries, 1 basket Red Raspberries  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

In the kitchen   
    One of my favorite things about my "job" is that I get to spend hours each week in the kitchen, testing and developing and modifying recipes to use the produce that we grow on the farm. Of course, this often means I'm in the kitchen, with both the stovetop and the oven on during the hottest days of the summer. But I just turn a fan on to circulate the air, and I enjoy feeling hot & sticky because it reminds me of summers in my Grandmother's kitchen in Vermont when I was growing up. My family would often visit there in the height of New England's famous summer humidity. Many days, my mother, grandmother, and I would sweat together in the old farmhouse kitchen canning, freezing, and making jam from her garden produce. I come from a long line of farm women, and I am grateful for that legacy.
This week, I've been cooking lots of tomatoes and potatoes (not necessarily together). The bag of tomatoes in your box today contains either red roma or "slicer" (also known as beefsteak) tomatoes, and some gold roma tomatoes. Red roma tomatoes are traditionally used as a sauce tomato, because they are not very juicy.  They are also great as a sliced tomato on a pizza-put them on the pizza before cooking for richer flavor. The gold roma tomatoes are very sweet, and also juicy. Gold romas are my favorite for snacking on as I walk through the kitchen. Or, try them on a salad.
   
Chard (from Springhill Organic Farm)
    The chard in this week's box is from Jamie Kitzrow, at Springhill Organic Farm in Albany. Twenty-five years ago, Jamie spent a summer working for Tom before starting his own farm.
Over the years, Jamie has become famous for the quality of his greens, and we're happy he had enough chard this week for you. Here is my favorite chard recipe:
Sautéed Chard with Raisins & Pine Nuts
    1/2 cup golden raisins
    1 bunch Chard
    1 Tbs. Olive oil
    1/4 cup pine nuts
    salt and pepper
1. Cover raisins with warm water and set aside.
2. Wash chard, separate stems from leaves. Chop stems in 1" sections, slice leaves into thin ribbons.
3. Heat olive oil over medium heat in your largest frypan or wok.
4. Add pine nuts and sauté 1 minute.
5. Drain raisins, reserving liquid. Add raisins and chard stems to wok. Cover and sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Add chard leaf and liquid from raisins. Cover. Turn heat to high and steam until leaves are wilted, stirring occasionally.

German Butterball Potatoes
    Butterball potatoes are best either mashed, baked, or roasted. They have a very flaky texture. This quality makes them excellent for mashed potatoes (they practically mash themselves in the pot), but not the one to choose for your 4th of July potato salad. If you boil them to make potato salad, or cut them into a stew, they will fall apart. They are FANTASTIC and fluffy as a baked potato, if you can stand to have your oven on these days.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 4

In this box: 1/2# Salad Mix, 1 bunch Radishes, 1 bunch Basil, 1 head Garlic, 1# Summer Squash, 1 cucumber,  1 basket Mixed Grape Tomatoes (Corvallis boxes)  or 1 basket Red Cherry  Tomatoes (Albany & Salem), 1 basket Blackberries,  1 basket Raspberries  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Summer rains
    Last week was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and the official beginning of summer.  Each day now will be a little bit shorter than the one before until we reach the winter solstice on December 21st.  I have farmed and studied the weather for 35 years so I know how many different kinds of weather are "normal" for the Willamette Valley.  Still I have this tendency to believe that we have rainy winters and sunny summers here.  When it rains on our cherries (causing them to split and rot) my first reaction is usually indignant shock.  "It's not supposed to rain now, it's summer." I think.  Then I remember that in the 20 years since my brother and I planted these cherries, it has rained at some time during harvest in 19 of those years.  Our main crop of German Porcelain garlic is ready to be harvested, and it's raining again, requiring that we haul all the garlic to an empty greenhouse for curing, so the heads won't get moldy.  Again I am momentarily indignant, until I remember that we have cured the German garlic in a greenhouse for many years now because it usually rains sometime during the weeks it takes to dry & cure the garlic.
    These same summer rains are the reason we now grow all of our berries, tomatoes, peppers, and basil in passive solar greenhouses or "hoop houses".  These are what people used to call "coldframes" because they have no heat source other than sunlight.  The ones we use are mostly 25' wide by 300' long.  Steel frames covered with clear plastic sheets six-thousandths of an inch thick.  They keep the rain off the fruits so they are less likely to mold or crack.  Because they are slightly insulating, it's warmer in the tunnels than out, which allows us to grow for a much longer season.  Taking advantage of all that sunshine we had in March to plant tomatoes would have been very risky without the tunnels because most years those plants would be killed by frost in April or early May.
   
Radishes
    Radishes are commonly used raw in salads, where they add a juicy crunch and a little spiciness. However, they are not just for salads! Years ago, I tried radishes in a stir-fry, and I really like how the spicy "bite" mellows with cooking. Radishes stay fairly firm when they are cooked, which gives a nice texture in a stir-fry.  Here are a couple of specific recipes I found in From Asparagus to Zucchini (from the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition), slightly modified of course.
Radish & Feta Salad
    Combine 1 bunch thinly sliced or grated radishes, 1/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese, & a handful of sliced black olives. Dress with a lemony vinaigrette (my standard dressing is 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup lemon juice). Garnish with chopped fresh basil.

Sautéed Radishes
    Heat 1 Tbs. butter or olive oil in a skillet. Add 1 minced clove garlic, and sauté for about 1 minute. Cut radishes into quarters. Add to garlic & olive oil in pan. Sauté for about 2 minutes. (If you're feeling adventuresome, add the radish greens, sliced into thin ribbons. Radish greens are edible! This recipe also works with any other bunch of greens you may have, or leave out the greens and use just the radish roots). Add a splash of white wine (about 1 Tbs). Cover, and leave on the hot burner for 3 minutes.

Notes from the farm office:
Farm Party
   You haven't missed it! We have not yet settled on a date for our annual Members day on the farm. We know it will be a Sunday afternoon, and we are looking at dates in late August or early September. But we don't yet have a date set yet. I will put notice in the newsletter once we decide on the date.

Empty Tubs
   Please bring back your empty tub every week, or transfer your produce at your pick-up site, and leave the box there. Our packing crew thanks you!
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 3
In this box: 1 head lettuce, 1 bunch Kale, 1 Sweet Onion, 2# Romance Potatoes, 3/4# Zucchini (Corvallis boxes) or 2 cucumbers (Albany & Salem boxes), 1 basket Red Cherry  Tomatoes (Corvallis boxes)  or 1 basket Mixed Grape  Tomatoes (Albany & Salem), 1 basket Blackberries, 1 basket Raspberries    (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
 
Sweet Onions
       In the culinary world, there are two types of onions-sweet onions and storage (or cooking) onions. Sweet onions are milder than storage onions-they are less likely to make your eyes water when you chop them, and if you eat them raw, they are pleasantly piquant, rather than numbing on the tongue. Storage onions are "hotter" when raw, and are rarely recommended for salads. Cooking will mellow the hotness of a storage onion, enhancing the sweetness that is hiding behind the hotness when a cooking onion is raw.
     There is seasonality to onions as well. Sweet onions don't keep well, so they are only available during the summer. They should be used within a few weeks of harvesting. Storage onions (as the name implies) can be dried after harvesting, and will keep for months in a dry, cool place. Local sweet onions are generally available in the Willamette Valley from May through September. In the winter, sweet onions are only local if you live in the Southern Hemisphere.
     That suits me fine, because in the summer I'm happy to make potato salad (recipe below), slap an onion ring on a burger on the grill, or add sweet onion to a cucumber, tomato, & feta Greek salad. By the time winter comes, I'm happy to cook with the hotter storage onions whose flavor holds up better in hearty winter stews.


Kale
    I have been hearing a lot of people talk about kale salad lately. LUC restaurant in Corvallis uses our kale in a very popular Caesar salad (http://www.i-love-luc.com).
Here is a recipe that one of our friends loves, originally from True Food Kitchen.
Kale Salad (8 servings)
    In a large salad bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 mashed clove garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt. Add 1 large bunch Kale, sliced into 1/4-inch shreds. Toss well to coat. Let sit at room temperature for 10 - 30 minutes.
    Before serving, add 1/2 cup finely grated Grana Padano or Pamigiano-Reggiano cheese and 2 Tbs. toasted bread crumbs. Garnish with cheese shavings.

If you're not ready yet for Kale as a salad, my favorite tried & true recipe for Hot & Sour sautéed greens is on the web site, under Last Year's Newsletters, Week 20.

Potatoes
     This week's potato is called Romance. Gold inside with red skin, Romance is a great all-around potato with a fine-grained texture. These make fabulous potato salad. They are also good steamed or boiled and served with butter, scalloped, roasted, or cut up into stew.
Last week's Red Gold potatoes have similar cooking qualities, so if you are starting to accumulate potatoes from week-to-week, this may be a good week to make potato salad. My favorite is a warm potato salad with oil & vinegar dressing, but good old-fashioned mayonnaise with pickle relish also makes a great summertime potato salad.
Elizabeth's Simple Potato Salad
1. Finely chop 1/2 a sweet onion, place in bowl.
2. Cover chopped onion with good olive oil and rice vinegar (use about twice as much olive oil as vinegar).
3. Cut 2 lbs. new potatoes into bite-sized chunks.
4. Place potatoes in a steamer over boiling water, add 1 tsp. salt. Steam for 15 minutes or until soft.
5. Drain potatoes and add to onions. Stir gently. Cool 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Notes from the farm office:Empty Tubs
    We love using durable, washable, reusable tubs for our Harvest Boxes. However, our system relies on getting the tubs back every week.  These tubs have become difficult to find, and we don't have a lot of extras on the farm. Please return your empty tub every week.
   Many people find it works great to bring a box or bag and a cooler to the pick-up site. Then you can transfer your produce when you pick it up, and leave the box at the site. No need to find a place to store the box at your house for the week, and you don't have to remember to bring it back the following week.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013:  Week 2
In this box: 1 French crisp lettuce, 1 bunch Carrots, 2 Cucumbers (Corvallis boxes), 1# zucchini (Salem & lbany), 1 Red Onion, 1 bunch Basil, 1 head Garlic, 2# Red Gold Potatoes, 11/2 # Honeypod Fava Baens,1 basket Strawberries  (Corvallis), 1 basket Raspberries (Albany & Salem boxes)  (weights are approx.)
Everything is Organic!

Basil
       The most important thing to remember about basil is that it does not like to be cold. Do not store basil in the refrigerator. If basil gets too cold, the leaves will turn black. Basil keeps best if you treat it like cut flowers. Trim the base of the stems, and put in a jar of water on your counter. Then place a plastic bag loosely over the top of the basil to keep high humidity around the leaves-but don't seal the bag shut, or mold could develop. Change the water every day.
     Or, better yet, make your first batch of Summer Pesto tonight:
Basic Pesto:
Blend in a food processor or blender until finely chopped:
1 clove garlic (mince it first before adding to blender for best results)
1/2 tsp salt
1 bunch basil leaves and tender stems (no need to waste the stems!)
    (chop first for best results, then add to blender or processor)
Blend until everything is finely chopped, then add:
1/2 cup pine nuts, sunflower seeds, cashews, or walnuts. Nice if they're toasted first.
Process until well blended. Then while the blender or processor is on, slowly add:
1/2-2/3 cup olive oil, until you hear a change in the tone of the motor and the pesto turns creamy.
Fold in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Mix gently into 1 pound of hot cooked pasta.

Honeypod Fava Beans
      Members who have had our box in past years may remember that we've been searching for special varieties of fava beans that have tasty pods. This year, we have enough Honeypod Favas for everyone. Honeypod Favas (as their name implies) have the best tasting pod we've found.
     Commonly, fava beans are prepared by popping the beans out of the pod, then the small, inner beans are steamed, sauteed (with onion, garlic, and a little tomato paste), or tossed into soups. [There are a couple of recipes on the website. See Last Year's Newsletters Week 2].
     You can do any of those things with Honeypod Favas, but this variety is particularly suited to eating pod and all! Honeypod Favas have somewhat fewer beans and more pod than many other varities, so it's nice to use the whole thing. First, remove the tough string that starts at the stem end. Then slice the pod (with the beans inside) into slim disks, and saute with olive oil, garlic, and some fresh herbs (basil or parsley). Serve over pasta or over rice.
   I recently made tempura fava beans, after a friend said they had eaten them at a very fancy restaurant in San Francisco. Making tempura is a bit of a production, so not something I would do every night-besides who needs all the oil. But if you're an accomplished tempura-maker, try it with fava beans (in their pods).

Parsley
     If any of you still have some parsley from last week's box, check out the new June 2013 issue of Bon Appetit. The front cover photo features parsley pesto, with the recipe of course.

Notes from the farm office:
Trying to get a message to the farm? The best way to leave a message is to send email to denisonfarms@
peak.org. Please don't leave messages for the farm on the clipboard at your pick-up site, as those papers don't reliably get back to the office.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2013: Week 1

<>In this box: 1 red leaf lettuce, 1 bunch Spinach, 1½  # Carrots, 1 Sweet Onion, 1 bunch Italian Parsley, 1 bunch Radishes (radish roots are lovely in a sti-fry), 2# Sierra Gold Potatoes, 1# Zucchini, 1 basket Strawberries (Albany & Salem boxes), 1 basket Cherries (Corvallis boxes)  (weights are approx.) 
Everything is Organic!


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 box season again.       
Getting the most from your Harvest Box: Here are some general suggestions about how to deal with your produce so you can get the most enjoyment from your box.
1)    Eat your fruit as soon as possible. If you really can’t eat your berries tonight, get them into a cold refrigerator AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  And don’t wash them until right before you plan to eat them, or they will become waterlogged. Better yet, bring a cooler to your pick-up site to keep things chilled on the way home.
2)    Rinse greens, drain well, and store in cold refrigerator. Gently dunk lettuce, salad mixes, or other greens in a large bowl of cold water several times to remove any debris from between the leaves. Then drain well before storing in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or sealed tub. Salad mixes should be eaten within 2 days, whereas a head of lettuce will keep longer. Leave heads of lettuce intact until you’re ready to make salad. Once the leaves are separated from each other, lettuces don’t keep as well.
3)    Roots: We like to scrub carrots & radishes as soon as we get them into the house so they are ready-to-eat later in the week. Most root vegetables keep better without their tops. The greens will continue to lose moisture after they are picked, so your roots will be most crisp and sweet if you remove the tops before storing them in a cold part of the refrigerator.
4)    Potatoes: Always store potatoes in the dark. They will turn green when exposed to light, and the green parts are not good to eat.  Potatoes will keep best in the refrigerator, especially early in the season when the skins are still tender. I like to label a brown paper bag with the date and kind of potato, then store it in the fridge.

Parsley
    Parsley is a nutritional champion, with more vitamin A than carrots, more vitamin C than oranges, and mineral levels equal to kale.  Unfortunately, years of plant breeding to emphasize its appearance and shelf life for use as a garnish, have neglected its flavor.  The parsley in today’s box is an heirloom variety that we got from Andrew and Sarah at Adaptive Seeds in Crawfordsville, Oregon.  They collected it (and many other wonderful heirloom seeds) on their seed ambassador trip to Europe.  We think it has extraordinarily good flavor. I like to use the stems like you would use celery—try just munching on a raw stem. Here’s a recipe using parsley with my current favorite grain, Quinoa. Substitute bulgur or brown rice for the quinoa for a slightly different taste.
Quinoa Summer Salad
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well            
½ tsp. salt               
2 Tbs. lemon juice           
1 clove garlic, minced           
freshly ground black pepper            
½ cup olive oil               
½ cup chopped parsley           
½ cup grated carrots                
¼ cup finely chopped sweet onion  
(Optional: add crumbled Feta cheese)
    Bring quinoa, ½ tsp. salt, and 1 ¼ cup water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Then remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 more minutes.   Fluff with a fork. Meanwhile, in the serving bowl, whisk lemon juice and garlic. Whisk in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add parsley, grated carrots, and sweet onion. Toss gently. Add quinoa. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate.

Parsley is also wonderful in a stir-fry with zucchini & sweet onions!
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