Home
Return to Home

Denison Farms


2015 Denison Farms Newsletters

June

week 1
week 2
week 3
week 4

July

week 5
week 6
week 7
week 8
week 9

August

week 10
week 11
week 12
week 13

September

week 14
week 15
week 16
week 17

October

week 18
week 19
week 20
week 21
week 22

November

week23
week 24
week 25
week 26



Denison Farms Harvest Box 2016: Week 14 (September 1st)

In this box: ½# Salad Mix , 2# Heirloom Tomatoes, 1 bunch Basil, (search for “caprese salad recipes” on the internet), 1 head Garlic, 1 red Onion, 1 bunch Celery, 2# Sweet Italian Peppers, 1 basket Strawberries, 2# Gala apples (from Gala Springs Orchard) (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
 
September
    Hard to believe I’m having a hard time believinthat September is here. Even though I notice the days are getting shorter, the weather is cooler and damper, and the first geese of the winter are arriving, it’s still a shock that I’m turning my calendar to September. But, here it is….. On the farm, we’ve harvested our winter onion crop, and put hundreds of boxes of onions in a cooler for storage through the winter. We’re preparing planting beds for next year’s garlic crop, and seeding our winter Kale and salad mix. Still, the season is far from over.  We’re just over half-way through our Harvest Box season. However, as the seasons shift toward autumn, the fruits and vegetables in your boxes will also be shifting slightly. Our cucumbers and green beans are finished for the year, and our summer squash plants are looking tired. Crops that require a long growing season are finally ready now in the season of late summer. In today’s box, we offer Gala apples from friends of ours at Gala Springs Orchard. Martin & Denise grow a wide variety of apples and pears, and they see Tom on Saturdays at the Beaverton Farmers Market. You will be seeing more of their fruits in the coming weeks. Soon, we will be harvesting our winter squashes, sweet potatoes, storage onions, and ginger as late summer marches on toward fall.
      
Truly, the best way to know what’s going on at the farm is to come visit us this Sunday for our annual Farm Tour and Potluck, this Sunday from 3-6. Bring a good pair of walking shoes for the farm tour (which starts at 3 pm), and some lawn chairs (or a blanket), and a dish to share if you’re staying for the potluck (starting around 4:30). We hope to see you on Sunday!
Farm Party This Sunday!
September 6, from 3 – 6 pm
Farm tour at 3pm
Potluck at 5pm
Please bring something to share, and your own plates/cutlery if you will be staying for the potluck.
We will provide strawberry lemonade!
Come any time between 3 & 6 pm to see the farm, or to just sit in the shade and enjoy the good company of other Harvest Box members.
Directions to the farm: Steele Ave is off HWY 20 between Corvallis & Albany. We’re 4 miles north of downtown Corvallis, and 7 miles south of Albany. Turn west onto Steele Ave (across from the Children’s Farm Home), and drive to the end of the road.
      

Sweet Italian Peppers   
       Tom first tasted sweet Italian peppers during the mid-70’s when he was farming in New York State. He tells of seeing old farmers of Italian heritage at the farmers’ markets slicing these peppers in rings then frying them in olive oil with garlic until they were soft and slightly scorched. Then, they would pile the caramelized pepper/onion mixture on some crusty Italian bread with cheese or Italian sausage. I prefer Italian peppers over Bell peppers for any saute because Italian peppers are a little less juicy, and when they are caramelized, they are incredibly sweet!
      
How to Roast peppers: Rinse peppers and place on a baking sheet with edges to catch the juices. Or turn on your barbecue, and place peppers right on the grill. Broil (or grill) 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 browned on each side. If the peppers are really odd-shaped, don’t worry about evenly charring all surfaces, as long as the pepper is well-cooked overall. Turn off the oven and close the door for 5 minutes (or put grilled peppers in a paper bag) to “rest”. The peppers will “wilt” during this rest time. 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 freeze well in any handy container for winter meals.
       Roasted Pepper Puree: Dice 3-4 peeled, roasted peppers. Then sauté with 2 teaspoons chopped garlic, and 2 tsp. fresh thyme in 1 Tbs. olive oil. When garlic is fragrant, purée everything in a food processor. Add salt to taste. Makes enough for 1 lb. pasta; pour over steamed or baked potatoes; spread over grilled chicken breasts; spread on a vegetable sandwich; thin with chicken or vegetable broth for soup; or (my favorite) brown 2 Tbs. flour in 2 Tbs. butter; whisk in cream or milk to make a white sauce; stir in red pepper purée for a creamy roasted pepper pasta sauce.
top of page


Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 13 (August 24)

In this box:
½# Spinach (Salem and Albany boxes) or Salad Mix (Corvallis boxes), 1 bunch Carrots, 1# Sweet Girl Tomatoes, 5 ears Corn, 2# Potatoes, 1# Summer Squash, 1 bunch Italian Parsley, 1 basket Strawberries, ¾# Grapes

(weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Farm Party For Harvest Box Members
Sunday, September 6, from 3 – 6 pm
Farm tour at 3pm
Potluck at 5pm
Please bring something to share, and your own plates/cutlery if you will be staying for the potluck.
We will provide a couple of gluten-free vegetarian dishes, and strawberry lemonade!
Come any time between 3 & 6 pm to see the farm, or to just sit in the shade and enjoy the good company of other Harvest Box members.

Directions to the farm: Steele Ave is off HWY 20 between Corvallis & Albany. We’re 4 miles north of downtown Corvallis, and 7 miles south of Albany. Turn west onto Steele Ave (across from the Children’s Farm Home), and drive all the way to the end of the road.

Italian Parsley
    Native to the Mediterranean countries, Parsley is a nutritional giant that (in my opinion) is not appreciated nearly enough. It has more vitamin A than carrots, and more vitamin C than oranges. Also high in minerals, particularly iron.
    In France, parsley is the main ingredient in a condiment called Persillade. In Argentina, a very similar recipe is called Chimichurri. In Italy, parsley is one of the “holy trinity” of carrots, onions, and parsley, sautéed together (called Soffritto) as the base to start hundreds of dishes.
I like parsley chopped into a summer salad. This week, my lunch fare has been rice, beans, sweet onion, grated carrots, tomatoes, and parsley, dressed with oil & vinegar or lemon juice. However, if raw parsley is a little too strong for you, here are some other ideas for cooking Italian Parsley, and Potatoes or Summer Squash:
1.    Substitute Parsley for Basil in your favorite pesto recipe.
2.    Prepare persillade (French term for a mixture of minced parsley and garlic). Combine 1 cup coarsely chopped parsley leaves with 3 cloves coarsely chopped garlic & ½ tsp salt. Pulse in the food processor, or chop very finely.
3.    Potatoes en Persillade: Preheat oven to 375o. Cut potatoes in bite-sized chunks. Toss potatoes in large bowl with 4 Tbs oil, salt and pepper. Transfer to baking pan. Roast 35 minutes. Pour persillade over potatoes and stir to coat. [Add some grated Parmesan cheese if you wish.] Continue roasting until golden brown and tender when pierced with a skewer (about 20 minutes longer).
4.    Summer squash en Persillade: Slice summer squash in half lengthwise, and place face up on a roasting pan. Brush the cut sides with olive oil, and sprinkle with persillade and a generous amount of grated cheese. Bake in a 375-degree oven until the squash is tender, and the topping is crispy.

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 ½ cup olive oil, 2 Tbs. red or white wine vinegar, 1 tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper, and ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes. Taste to adjust seasonings.

Parsley Pasta Sauce  (From Asparagus to Zucchini, Madison Area CSA Coalition)
1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves       
¼ cup olive oil                   
pepper
1 tsp dried oregano               
½ tsp salt & ½ tsp black pepper           
2 cloves garlic                   
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
    Combine parsley, olive oil, oregano, salt, garlic, and in food processor. Chop finely. Add sour cream & Parmesan; in food processor. Chop finely. Add sour cream & Parmesan; Serve over cooked pasta.
Top of page

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 12 (August 18)

In this box:
½# Salad Mix, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 bunch Basil, 1 head Garlic, 4 Jalapeno peppers, 1 Sweet Onion, ½# Jimmy Nardelo (Sweet Italian) Peppers, 2# Beefsteak Tomatoes, 1 basket Strawberries, 1 Cantaloupe (from  Groundwork Organics) (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Farm Party
Sunday, September 6, from 3 – 6 pm
Farm tour at 3pm
Potluck at 5pm
Please bring something to share, and your own plates/cutlery if you will be staying for the potluck.
We will provide strawberry lemonade!
Come any time between 3 & 6 pm to see the farm, or to just sit in the shade and enjoy the good company of other Harvest Box members.
Directions to the farm: Steele Ave is off HWY 20 between Corvallis & Albany. We’re 4 miles north of downtown Corvallis, and 7 miles south of Albany. Turn west onto Steele Ave (across from the Children’s Farm Home), and drive all the way to the end of the road.

Cooking from the Farm
       I like to read cookbooks. I have quite a collection, and some of my favorites are cookbooks that describe the traditional cooking of a region. Three that are on my all-time favorites list are “Goose Fat and Garlic, Country recipes from Southwest France”, “Honey from a Weed, Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany”, and Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”. What is common among these three books is the principle that people cook what is local and seasonal. It’s amazing how many ways you can combine a few simple ingredients to create an entire cuisine to sustain and nourish a culture. Reading about traditional diets in other parts of the world makes me grateful that we live in the Willamette Valley. We really can grow food all year long here. True, tomatoes, peppers, and basil are seasonal, and need to be preserved or frozen if you want to eat them all year, but even in the winter, we harvest a good variety of food from our land. I do freeze lots of tomatoes for winter meals, and I buy occasional lemons, limes, and avocados in the summer, but otherwise, Tom & I are quite content just eating what we grow.
       Which brings me to the contents of today’s Harvest Box. This would be a good week to make pesto (see Newsletter Week 4), but don’t forget to save a few basil leaves (or the tender stems) to flavor a pot of Tomato Sauce (Newsletter Week 8). 
      
       Jimmy Nardelo Sweet Italian peppers: The little red peppers in your box might look like hot peppers, but don’t be fooled. These are a delightful sweet pepper. Though you can eat sweet Italian peppers raw just like bell peppers, I think cooking really brings out their best qualities. I suggest slicing your Nardelo peppers into rings, removing the seeds, and sautéing in olive oil with garlic, onion, and a little salt.  When everything is soft, and slightly caramelized, mix with cooked pasta, and call it dinner!
      
      Jalapeno peppers: These, on the other hand, really are hot! As with all hot peppers, a lot of the heat is in the seeds, and in the white membrane attached to the seeds. If you prefer your peppers on the milder side, remove the seeds, and all the white membrane (and wear rubber gloves while doing this). If you (like me) don’t use a lot of jalapenos, I suggest roasting them, and freezing them so you can use them a little at a time. Char them on the grill or under the broiler, turning to all sides get blistered. After they cool, put on some rubber gloves, and remove the skins and seeds. Store in the freezer.
If you enjoy spicy food, try Jalapeno Poppers:
    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.

Cantaloupe from Groundwork Organic Farm. Gabe picks his cantaloupe ripe, so eat yours tonight, or store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat it. Unlike grocery store cantaloupes (which are picked before they are truly ripe), if you wait for this one to feel “soft”, it may be over-ripe.
top of page


Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 11 (August 11/12)

In this box: 1 lettuce, 2# Beefsteak Tomatoes, 1 Cauliflower, 1 bunch Carrots, 5 ears Corn, 1# Summer Squash, 2 Ripe Bell Peppers, ¾# Grapes (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
 
Thanks for returning the tubs. We have seen a tremendous increase in tub returns. We appreciate it!

Grapes
       When Tom started farming in Corvallis (in the late 1970’s), he grew only a few crops. Zucchini, melons, and sweet peppers were his major crops. There were only a few farmers markets at that time, and he sold mostly to family-owned grocery stores up & down the Willamette Valley. Over the decades, farmers markets have sprouted everywhere, “community-supported agriculture” programs (like our Harvest Box) have become common, and family-owned grocery stores have been replaced by regional or national chain stores. Our diversity of crops has increased as we focus our energy on growing a full range of fruits & vegetables for people (like you!) who are committed to locally-grown, organic food. All this to say that grapes are a fairly new crop for us. As our farm has shifted from selling a few items to grocery stores to offering a full line of fresh fruits and vegetables at Farmers Markets and through our Harvest Box, Tom continues to search for popular crops that will grow well in our climate. Those of you who have been members of our Harvest Box since the early years (18 years ago!) have probably noticed that we have increased the amount and diversity of fruit in the box over the years. The first fruits Tom planted were cherries and plums—those trees are over 20 years old, and some years they yield heavy harvests. Some years they don’t. So, we started growing berries, which are more reliable, and (if tended well) can ripen fruits nearly all season. A few years ago, Tom decided to try growing seedless table grapes, and you’re seeing the results today. We expected that the popular grocery store varieties wouldn’t grow well for us, because they like California’s climate, so we planted a few rows each of a number of different varieties. Besides, there are hundreds of varieties of grapes available, and we wanted to grow something unique. Some boxes today have the Reliance variety (pale green with a pink tint), and some probably have Thomcord (dark blue). We hope you enjoy them!
      
Corn   
   
The good news is that our corn is not grown from GMO seed or sprayed with any pesticides, the unfortunate news is that there may be a few corn earworms. 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. After hatching, the larva slowly eats its way down from the tip. We try not to pick ears that are hosting these larvae, but a few may have escaped our notice. Fortunately, the larvae start at the top, and take a long time to eat very far. If you find a corn earworm has come home with your corn, just cut off the tip, and the rest of the ear should be untouched. If you’re grilling your corn in the husk (20-25 minutes over medium heat, turn half-way through), check the tip of each ear before putting them on the grill.

Cauliflower is the same botanical species as broccoli, cabbage, kale, collards, and Brussels sprouts. Over centuries of cultivation, humans have selected for leaves (kale, collards, cabbage), central flower buds (broccoli, cauliflower), or lateral buds (Brussels sprouts). And each tastes just a little different from the other. Pretty amazing, eh? We like to steam our cauliflower, just until tender (about 5 minutes), then top with some grated Parmesan cheese, or Brewer’s yeast if you’re avoiding dairy.

Farm Party Sunday, September 6, from 3 – 6 pm
Farm tour at 3pm
Potluck at 5pm
Please bring something to share, and your own plates/cutlery  if you will be staying for the potluck.
We will provide strawberry lemonade!
Come any time between 3 & 6 pm to see the farm, or to just sit in the shade and enjoy the good company of other Harvest Box members.
Directions to the farm: Steele Ave is off HWY 20 between Corvallis & Albany. We’re 4 miles north of downtown Corvallis, and 7 miles south of Albany. Turn west onto Steele Ave (across from the Children’s Farm Home), and drive all the way to the end of the road.
top of page


Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015 Week 10 (August 3)


In this box:
2# Salad Tomatoes, 1 box Cherry Tomatoes, 1 bunch Kale, 1 head Garlic, 1 Sweet Onion, 5 ears Corn, 2# All Blue Potatoes, 2 Red Bell Peppers, 1 box Strawberries (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
 
Farm Party Sunday, September 6, from 3 – 6 pm
    We invite all harvest box members to come see the farm this year on Sunday afternoon, September 6th. The event starts at 3 pm with a Farm Tour, led by Tom. After the tour, around 5 pm, we will have a potluck – so please bring something to share if you will be staying for that. You are welcome to drop in at any time between 3 & 6 pm to see the farm, or to just sit in the shade and enjoy the good company of other Harvest Box members. We’ll tell you how to get here a few weeks ahead of the date.

Kale 
    Though Kale has seen a tremendous rise in popularity recently (even appearing on the menu at Panera and MacDonald’s!), we realize it’s not yet an everyday menu item for everyone. So I will give you several easy recipes for kale.  Summer kale has a stronger flavor than winter kale. Adding some acid (generally lemon juice or vinegar, but cheese also works) balances these stronger flavors, and makes kale enjoyable to a wider audience.         Kale is very forgiving as a cooked green. It’s easy to cook, and difficult to overcook. Unlike spinach or chard, kale won’t get mushy if you cook it a little longer than necessary. Here are several recipes I like with summer kale:
    Steamed Kale: chop 1 bunch kale into large pieces, and steam for about 5 minutes. I suggest dressing steamed kale with salad dressing—either lemon juice & olive oil, or your favorite homemade or bottled vinaigrette or creamy salad dressing. Steamed kale is also very complimentary with hummus, and a frequent lunchtime salad in my kitchen is a bowl of steamed kale with a large dollop of hummus (and tomato wedges and sweet onion this time of year).
    Kale Pesto: Once your kale is steamed, you can substitute it for basil in your favorite pesto recipe! I suggest adding 1 Tbs. of lemon zest (to balance the hearty flavor of kale), but otherwise, follow a regular pesto recipe and just substitute one bunch of steamed kale for the basil.
Green Dip (also known as “green hummus”). Coarsely chop 1 bunch of kale. Steam for 5 minutes, then drain. Allow to cool to room temperature. Then, blend 2 cups kale greens in a food processor with ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup toasted nuts or nut butter (hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, toasted sunflower seeds, or tahini all work great). Add 1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar. And 1 tsp. salt (unless your nut butter is salted). Blend until very smooth. Taste, and add salt, pepper, or more cider vinegar as desired. For the batch I made today, I needed to add an additional 1 tsp of cider vinegar.
    Summer Garden Sauté: Well, there’s no exact recipe for this dish, but it’s another frequent summer meal around our house that would work great with the items in this week’s box. Use a large sauté pan. Start with a generous amount of olive oil (maybe 3 Tbs.). Sauté some onions first. When they are softened, add sweet peppers, and sauté for a few more minutes. Then add chopped garlic, and kale. Sauté until kale is wilted. Then add 2 small chopped tomatoes, cover, and simmer until the tomatoes have “melted” into a sauce over everything. Season with fresh or dried oregano or basil, salt and pepper. Serve over rice or pasta. Grate some cheese on top if you wish.
    One other note:. Some recipes call for removing the center rib from the kale, but that’s my favorite part! When you’re cooking kale, make sure you cook it long enough for the ribs to become tender, but there’s no need to remove them.

Note from the office: If you joined by paying the first half of the membership fee, your second payment was due August 1st. Invoices will be mailed next week if I haven’t received your payment by the end of this week.

PLEASE RETURN TUBS
Our packing crew reports that about 20% of our tubs are not returning to the farm each week. We really need all tubs to stay in circulation. Our supplies on the farm are desperately short. Please bring them back! Thanks.


Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 9

In this box: ½# Salad Mix, 1 bunch Celery, 1 bunch Cilantro OR Radishes, ¾# Tomatillos—take them out of the bag, and store on the counter. 1 Sweet Onion, 1 ½# Summer Squash, 2# Slicing Tomatoes, 4 ears Corn, 1# Rhubarb (weights are approx.)  Everything is Organic!
 

PLEASE RETURN TUBS
Our packing crew reports that about 20% of our tubs are not returning to the farm each week. We really need all tubs to stay in circulation. Our supplies on the farm are desperately short. We understand that on occasion, you may forget one week, and need to bring back two the next week, but if tubs are accumulating at your house, please bring them back as soon as possible. Thank you.

If you joined by paying the first half of the membership fee, your second payment is due August 1st. Since most members remember to send in their payment on or around August 1st, I usually wait a week or so, and send individual reminders only to those who have forgotten.


Tomatillos
        Let’s talk about tomatillos…. Botanically related to tomatoes, tomatillos can be eaten over a wide range of ripeness—the ones in your box are ripe now, or you can let them sit on the counter for a few days. They are somewhat more tart when “green”, and become sweeter as they continue to ripen, and the skin turns toward yellow. Don’t wait for them to get soft (that would be over-ripe), or turn red (they won’t). 
        To prepare tomatillos, first remove the papery husk. The skins are somewhat sticky, and when cooked, tomatillos help thicken sauces. Tomatillos are a key ingredient in salsa verde, and in green enchilada sauce.
        Tomatillo Salsa I: For a classic salsa verde, chop your tomatillos coarsely and place in a food processor bowl. Add approximately 1 clove of garlic, ¼ cup chopped sweet onion, a small slice of hot pepper if you like spicy salsa, ¼ cup chopped cilantro or Italian Parsley (optional), ½ tsp. salt, and the juice from ½ a lime (1 Tbs). Pulse several times until everything is chopped well, but not quite pureed.
        Tomatillo Salsa II: Simmer the basic salsa verde on the stove for 10 minutes for a thicker sauce, and a mellower flavor.
        Tomatillo Salsa III: Start by toasting whole tomatillos in a dry skillet over medium heat. Don’t worry about toasting all sides evenly—that’s impossible because they roll around in the pan! Just try to get them a little browned on several sides. Any amount of toasting brings out the flavor. After they are cool, follow the recipe for Salsa Verde (above).
        Serve any of these green salsas with chips, on top of cooked black beans or polenta, or spoon some on a taco or steamed fish.

Cilantro or Radishes
    We tried to have cilantro for everyone this week, but we should have picked it for last week’s box. During these long, hot summer days, things go from not-quite-ready to “oops, too late” in such a short time, that most of our cilantro has bolted and gone to flower.
    Here’s something new to try with radishes—sauté radishes in olive oil with a little salt. Cooking dramatically changes the flavor, as the spicy notes diminish and sweeter flavors are enhance by the heat of the stove. Nice with a drizzle of lemon juice added to the pan, to finish the roots with a little citrus glaze.
      
Rhubarb      
    By itself, rhubarb is quite sour, so it’s usually sweetened considerably, or combined with sweet fruits. The tartness of rhubarb balances and enhances the flavor of strawberries in the classic Strawberry-Rhubarb pie.
       Here’s a very simple rhubarb sauce that I remember having frequently when I was growing up. Rinse rhubarb stalks and trim off any leafy bits. Slice in ½” pieces, and place in a heavy saucepan. You will probably have about 3 cups of rhubarb pieces. Add ½ cup water, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes until it becomes a sauce. Sweeten to taste (this might take ¾ - 1 cup sugar, or sweetener of your choice). Cool, and serve rhubarb sauce over vanilla ice cream, or mix with yogurt.


Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 8

In this box: 1 Lettuce, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 bunch Radishes, 1# Broccoli, 2# Purple Potatoes, 2# Slicing Tomatoes, 2# Sweet Girl  Tomatoes, 1 box Cherry Tomatoes, 1 box Blackberries (weights are approx.)  Everything is Organic!
 
Tomatoes!!
       This week we have 3 different kinds of tomatoes for you. Though all are great just sliced into bite-sized pieces and eaten on a green salad, or combined with basil and mozzarella cheese for a Caprese salad, here are some other ideas:

Sweet Girl tomatoes are particularly nice in the following recipe—
Roasted garlic and tomato salad    (inspired by Cooking with Caprial)
   Roast 1 head of garlic:  Recipes for roasted garlic vary widely. Most recipes suggest cutting the top ½ inch off a head of garlic. Then pour a little olive oil onto the exposed cloves. You can either wrap the head in foil, and roast in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes; or leave off the foil, and roast in a 300-degree oven for 45 minutes. Cool completely, then squeeze cloves from the base and use a fork to dislodge flesh from skin.
1. Cut 4 or 5 tomatoes into wedges and place in a large bowl. Coarsely chop roasted garlic and toss with tomatoes.
2. Combine 2 Tbs. red wine or balsamic vinegar with 6 Tbs. olive oil. Toss with garlic and tomatoes.
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.

With my large, “slicing” tomatoes, I’m definitely going to serve burgers tonight! If you’re not in the mood for burgers, try one of the following recipes for sauce:
Basic Blender Italian Tomato Sauce (“From Asparagus to Zucchini”, Madison Area CSA Coalition, 2004)
Lots of tomatoes
Small amount of basil and parsley (got any left from last week’s box?)
Large amount of oregano
Minced garlic cloves
1 or 2 carrots, grated
Salt & pepper
Olive oil
    In Italy, no one follows a recipe for tomato sauce, so use your imagination for quantities. A couple of guidelines: do not underestimate the amount of garlic. When in doubt, put in lots. Adding carrots makes a sweeter sauce. Blend or process the tomatoes to an almost pureed texture. Gradually add herbs, garlic, and carrots. Slowly cook in a deep skillet. When sauce has reduced about halfway to the texture you want, add salt & pepper. Add several tablespoons of olive oil before reheating for serving.

Butter, Tomato, and Onion Sauce (from Hazan Family Favorites: Beloved Italian Recipes by Guiliano Hazan). Ingredients: 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, 1 medium sweet yellow onion, 5 Tbs. butter, 1 ¼ tsp. salt. Preparation: Peel & coarsely chop tomatoes*. Trim both ends of the onion. Peel it, and cut in half lengthwise. Put tomatoes, onion, butter, and salt into a 4- to 5- quart saucepan over medium heat. When the tomatoes start to bubble, lower the heat to a slow but steady simmer. Cook, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes, until the tomatoes are no longer watery and the sauce has reduced, about 45 minutes, depending on the size and shape of the pot. The sauce is done when the butter has separated from the tomatoes and the sauce has thickened. Remove and discard the onion. Serve over hot pasta, with or without cheese. Even if you “always” use cheese on your tomato pasta, try it first without any. This sauce will surprise you!   
*To peel tomatoes: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Gently drop tomatoes in the boiling water for 1 minute. Remove from boiling water and immediately submerge tomatoes in bowl of ice water. When cool to the touch, the skins should pull off easily.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 7

In this box: 1 Lettuce, 1 bunch Basil, 1 bunch Italian Parsley, 1 Sweet Onion, 1# Green Zucchini, 2# Roma Tomatoes, 1 box Cherry Tomatoes (we affectionately call these our “jellybean” mixed cherry tomatoes), 1 box Plums (plums will continue to ripen on the counter. When yours feel soft, store in the fridge), 1 box Blackberries, (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Roma tomatoes are less juicy, and more meaty than other kinds of tomatoes. This makes them ideal for tomato sauce, or for drying. Eaten fresh, romas have a rather bland flavor, but cooking or drying brings out a luscious sweetness and a more complex flavor.
       How to dry roma tomatoes (see Summer Pasta Salad with Basil (below) for a great recipe using dried romas): 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 your 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. You want to catch them before they are crispy, because they get drier as they cool.  You have some leeway on catching them at the perfect moment, but don’t leave them unattended overnight.
       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.
       IMPORTANT NOTE: Once your tomatoes have reached the texture you prefer, allow them to cool, store in the refrigerator or freezer. Unless you have dried yours to a crisp, they wil47l get moldy on the counter.

Basil Many people can use up a bunch of basil every week, because pesto is such an easy summer meal. In addition to the classic “pesto on pasta”, pesto is wonderful on roasted or boiled potatoes, mixed into a minestrone soup, or frozen for a quick meal in the winter. However, if you’re not in the mood for making pesto this week, here are some additional ideas for using basil:
1. Layer basil leaves in a cheese sandwich, instead of lettuce.
2. Chop basil stems into soups and stews.
3. Make Summer Pasta salad with Dried Tomatoes & Basil:
Cook 1 pound pasta in boiling, salted water. While pasta cooks, finely chop 1 bunch fresh basil leaves & tender stems. Chop 1 handful dried tomatoes. Drain pasta. Return to pot. Gently stir in ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, chopped basil, and chopped dried tomatoes. Add salt & coarsely ground pepper to taste.
4. Cook a quick Sweet Tomato-Basil Sauce, to serve over pasta:
Chop tomatoes, and simmer with ¼ cup water until soft. Pass through a food mill to remove skins. Return to stovetop. Add 1 tsp. salt, 2 Tbs. olive oil, and 1 bunch chopped basil. Continue to simmer until sauce has thickened.

Parsley There are many ways to spell Tabbouleh, (or tabouli, or tabbouli), and even more variations on the recipe for this traditional vegetarian dish from the Middle East. The basic concept uses a quick-cooking grain (bulgur, or quinoa, or couscous), with chopped tomatoes, parsley, mint, and onion; dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Here’s my basic recipe: cook 1 cup of bulgur wheat or quinoa. While the grain cooks, chop 1 bunch of parsley, about half that much mint (if you have some), a couple of tomatoes, and half a sweet onion. Dress with 1/3 cup olive oil, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Taste, and adjust seasonings. Optional: add olives and/or feta cheese. This salad is even better made a day ahead, so the flavors can blend.


Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015:  Week 6

In this box: 1 bunch Celery, 1# Sweet Girl Tomatoes, 1 Sweet Onion, 1# summer squash , 1 bunch Basil, 1 Garlic, 2# yellow potatoes, 1 box Plums, 1 box Blackberries, 1 box Strawberries,  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
 
Sweet Girl tomatoes: We discovered this tasty little tomato a few years ago, and it has become one of my favorite tomatoes for all uses. They are great as a salad tomato, sturdy enough to hold up in a lunchbox, and wonderful as an accent in a vegetable sauté (recipe follows) or cooked as tomato sauce.
       Storage tip: Store tomatoes on the counter until you’re ready to use them. The refrigerator is too cold for tomatoes. It dulls their flavor.
       We ran out of paper bags, so many of you have tomatoes in a plastic bag. Open the bag, so they can “breathe”.

Summer Squash
       The most familiar summer squash is green zucchini. However, we like to grow a wide variety of different colors and shapes of summer squash. All are closely related in the culinary world, and interchangeable in recipes. Over the course of several boxes, you may receive “white” zucchini (actually, it’s pale green), striped zucchini, yellow zucchini, green-tipped yellow zephyr squash, or flying-saucer-shaped patty pan squash (in yellow or green varieties). 
       Since you’ve been getting summer squash for the past few weeks, I figure it’s time to give you one of my favorite recipes. The original recipe called for green zucchini, but I think it’s even better with mixed summer squashes. And, to make your life even simpler, this recipe can be made successfully without the olives (so don’t worry if you have none on hand.).
Sauteed Zucchini, Basil, Tomatoes, and Olives
2 Tbs (or more) olive oil
1 to 1 ½ pounds summer squash, cut into small cubes
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, halved and pitted (optional. If you leave them out, consider adding more salt).
¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 pound pasta, cooked al dente.
       Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, garlic, and (optional) rosemary. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute until squash is just tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and olives. Saute until tomatoes just begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Mix in basil and vinegar. Drain the pasta briefly (it’s good if it’s still a bit damp, as that makes a better sauce). Add pasta to the saute pan. Stir everything gently for a minute or two while the flavors meld, adding more olive oil (or a Tbs. of water or white wine) if things seem dry. Season vegetables to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 6 servings. Modified from Bon Appetit, September 2007.

Methley Plums
       According some sources on the Internet, and my personal research, methley plums are good “snacking” plums. Plums are known for their sweet-tart flavor, and also their juiciness. Although the plums in your box are ripe enough to eat, if you prefer yours a little softer and less tart, you can leave them on the counter for a few days and they should continue to ripen. A fully ripe plum is so delicate and juicy that we
thought it better to pick them firm so they will arrive in your kitchen before they melt. 

Farm Party
Sunday, September 6
The date is set! Mark your calendars now, and plan to spend the afternoon with us, for a farm tour and potluck. More details will be sent closer to the date.


Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 5

       
In this box: 1 head Lettuce, ½# Spinach, 1 Cucumbers, 1.5# summer squash , ¾# Romano pole beans, 2# All Blue potatoes, 1 box Cherry Tomatoes, 1 box Raspberries, 1 box Strawberries    (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Berries: Raspberries and Strawberries again this week! We hope you are appreciating the abundance of fruit. This warm weather brings some challenges (like getting enough water on the plants so they stay healthy), but it sure does help ripen fruit! As always, best to eat your berries soon, and keep them as cold as possible until you are ready to prepare them. Berries are incredibly perishable, especially when they are picked ripe (as ours are), and when they are organic.
       Years ago, I came across a recipe for a strawberry dip that remains one of my favorites. Originally from Jan Roberts-Dominguez (who lives in Corvallis and writes a weekly Food column for the Corvallis Gazette Times). Try this when you want to dress up your strawberries: Combine 1 cup sour cream with ¼ cup packed brown sugar. Mix well and let stand for 10 minutes. Dip individual berries in this for an elegant presentation, and a delightful and somewhat mysterious taste. I think of it as “instant cheesecake”.

Blue Potatoes
    Here’s an interesting potato! We resist growing novelty vegetables, unless we think they also have great eating quality. These All Blue potatoes have become one of our favorite potatoes. Our kids love them roasted or fried, but they are also nice boiled or steamed and dressed with butter or made into potato salad. They keep their blue color even when cooked, so would be nice mixed with other potatoes for a colorful potato salad. Plant pigments function as antioxidants in the human body, so the more colorful your diet (as long as we’re talking natural pigments), the more health-promoting. Our youngest son will parrot “loaded with antioxidants” as he gleefully snitches handfuls of raspberries from the bushes outside. These All Blue potatoes are a good choice if you’re “eating from the rainbow” for health—and they taste good!

Let’s talk about sugar
    Is there anyone who doesn’t like sweet things? Sweet is one of the basic tastes that everyone seems to enjoy. Whereas some people avoid bitter or sour flavors, sweetness is usually considered desirable. I’m not suggesting we need a diet filled with processed foods that have lots of added sugar. I’m suggesting that if vegetables and fruits taste sweet, more people will like them. And everyone seems in agreement that the most health-promoting diets include an abundance of unprocessed fruits and vegetables.
    Few would argue that fruits are generally sweet (though their sugar content varies quite a bit depending on the variety, growing conditions, health of the plants, and the maturity when picked). However, most vegetables have natural sugars also. Here’s why: Plants convert sunlight into sugar. That’s the basis of photosynthesis. From there, plants will convert sugar into starches and other more complex carbohydrates. Many vegetables will be sweetest when just picked (like peas, sweet corn, new potatoes, carrots, and beans), but will lose their sweetness as the sugars turn to starches after they are picked. Keeping them in a cold refrigerator will slow this conversion, and help them stay sweeter longer. 
       Exceptions to this are the “fruits” that are typically considered vegetables. Cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers suffer when they are too cold. Refrigerator temperatures will make tomatoes taste bland, and cause cucumbers and peppers to get spots. One special note about basil. This heat-loving herb should not be refrigerated. Never. Not ever. The leaves turn black when they are too cold.
       Many leafy greens have other flavors that mask their sweetness, but even kale has sweetness if it’s grown well. We think kale is sweetest when it’s grown in cool weather. Heat causes the bitter flavors to predominate. In a future newsletter, I will talk about some tricks in the kitchen to help mellow the stronger flavors of summer-grown greens.
      
      
Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 4


In this box: 1 head Lettuce, ½# Salad Mix, 1-2 Cucumbers, 1.5# summer squash , ¾# Romano pole beans, 1 bunch Basil, 1 Garlic, 1 Sweet Onion, 1 box Raspberries, 1 box Strawberries   (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Berries: Raspberries and Strawberries this week! As always, best to eat your berries soon, and keep them as cold as possible until you are ready to prepare them. Berries are incredibly perishable, especially when they are picked ripe (as ours are), and when they are organic.

       The same advice is true for the Salad Mix. Keep it cold, and eat it soon. Salad mix is quite a bit more perishable than a head of lettuce. I suggest giving your salad mix a quick rinse in cold water, then dry it well (use a salad spinner or roll gently in a clean dishtowel, then put a paper towel or dry dish towel in the bottom of an airtight container and store in the fridge until ready to use). 

Romano Pole Beans
       Those of you who have been members for a few years probably remember these beans from past years’ boxes. You may also remember that last year was NOT a good year for our Romano beans. We only had enough to put in half the boxes one week. Such a sad year! This year, our bean plants are much healthier—in fact, these pole beans are climbing up to the roof of our hoop house, supported by strong trellises. It’s truly a jungle in there!
    Cooking advice: Romano Pole Beans are more tender than standard green beans. They cook very quickly. We like to steam ours for about 3 minutes, just until they turn bright green. Then toss gently with a bit of butter, and serve. We also like to toss them into a stir fry (after snapping into bite-sized pieces first) with garlic, sweet onion, and olive oil.

Basil & Garlic…did someone mention Pesto?     
    Pesto is a general term for the process of mashing fresh herbs, garlic, nuts, and oil together to make a thick paste, which is then mixed with hot pasta or added to minestrone soup. Perhaps one of the most common recipes uses basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, and Parmesano-Reggiano cheese (recipe below). However, don’t be limited by tradition! Since pine nuts are a bit pricey (and not local), I have successfully used a variety of other nuts in my pesto—walnuts, sunflower seeds, and almonds can be substituted for the pine nuts. I particularly like to toast my nuts/seeds first, as that enhances the flavor.  In our household, we avoid cheese, but if you add a bit more oil and salt to the basic recipe, you won’t miss the cheese (much).
       Basic Pesto:  Blend 1 bunch basil (coarsely chopped, include the stems if tender), 1-2 cloves garlic, and ½ tsp salt in a food processor or blender until finely chopped. Then add ½ cup nuts or seeds, continue processing until everything is well blended. Then, while the blender or processor is running, slowly add ½ cup olive oil, and continue blending until everything is creamy. You may need to add a bit more oil if things seem dry. Optional: add ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, and blend briefly for a final mix. Then mix gently with 1 pound cooked pasta, or spoon a dollop into a steaming bowl of Minestrone soup.

Summer Squash: The weather this week is supposed to turn quite hot, so maybe this is a good week to fire up the barbecue. Summer squash is great on the grill. Here’s how: Preheat grill on medium-high. Cut summer squash lengthwise if small, or into ½-inch disks if larger. Brush with olive oil. Grill, cut side down first, for approximately 5 minutes per side until the surface becomes slightly browned, and they are just tender when pierced with a knife. Just so you know, the surface browning indicates that sugars in the squash are caramelizing—which is why grilling brings out the sweetness in many vegetables.
       If you haven’t used your sweet onion in a cucumber & onion salad, you can cut it into “rings”, and grill them, too, for an extraordinarily sweet treat!
      
      
Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 3

In this box: 1 head Lettuce, ½# Spinach, 1-2 Cucumbers*, 1# zucchini*, *Look closely--the cukes & zucchs look like each other this week! 1 bunch Beets, 1 bunch Collards, 2# Red Potatoes, 1 box Cherry Tomatoes, 1 box Strawberries    (weights are approx.)  Everything is Organic!

Strawberries: Please plan to eat your berries soon, and keep them as cold as possible until you are ready to prepare them. Berries are incredibly perishable, especially when they are picked ripe (as ours are), and when they are organic.

Beets: I have heard beets referred to as “2 vegetables in 1,” because you can eat both the beet roots and the leaves.  Best to separate the roots from the greens, because they cook quite differently from each other. The greens are very similar to chard, and can be steamed, sautéed, or chopped into a soup. I like to stir-fry mine, and sprinkle a little vinegar on top of the greens when they are nearly cooked. You can use any kind of vinegar that you have handy—in my kitchen I have at least 3 kinds of vinegar in my cupboard-- rice vinegar when I want a mild flavor, apple cider vinegar for a rustic taste and a bit more flavor, and balsamic vinegar when I want some sweetness along with tartness.
    Beet roots can be cooked whole, or cut up first. Since ours are young, and are grown in organic soil, you can just scrub them clean, and cook with the skins on. If you want to take the skins off, the skins slip right off after they are cooked. Whole beets can be steamed (approx. 20 minutes), microwaved (covered, with ¼ cup water for 8-10 min.) or slow-cooked in the oven (covered, at 350 for 40 – 60 minutes) until tender. Once they are cool enough to handle, slip the skins off, and slice or dice, and toss with salt, pepper, and vinaigrette dressing—nice with a balsamic or citrus vinaigrette, particularly a vinaigrette made with fresh orange juice and a mild-flavored vinegar.

Collards are closely related to Kale, so you can use them interchangeably in any of your favorite recipes. Compared with spinach, collard & kale take longer to cook, and whereas spinach will become very soft, collards & kales stay somewhat firm even when cooked. I found this recipe many years ago, but it is still my favorite way to feature collards. It’s nice if your feta cheese has a nice strong flavor (imported sheep’s feta tends to be stronger than domestic cow’s milk feta. Ask at your favorite cheese counter for their most flavorful feta).
Collard Greens with Pasta and Feta
6 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bunch Collard Greens, rolled and sliced into ribbons, then coarsely chopped
½ pint of cherry tomatoes, halved, or quartered if large
1 lb. pasta penne, fusilli, or shells
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
* Bring salted pasta water to a boil.
* Heat oil in a deep sauté pan. Add onions and cook over medium heat 10 min.
* Add collards, stir for 2 minutes. Then add tomatoes. Cover, and cook 10 minutes over medium-low heat.
* Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente.
* Crumble feta into vegetables in sauté pan. Mix gently.
* Drain pasta and add to vegetables and feta. Simmer over low heat for 3 minutes.
* Serve with freshly ground pepper.
      
      
Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 2

In this box: ½# Spinach, 1 Cucumber, ¾# Broccoli (from Groundwork Organic Farm), 1 Sweet Red Onion, 2# Fava Beans, 1 bunch Radishes, 1 head Fresh Garlic, 1 bunch Garlic tops, 1# Zucchini, 1 basket Raspberries   (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
 
Raspberries: Please keep your berries as cold as possible, and plan to eat them quickly. Berries are incredibly perishable, especially when they are picked ripe (as ours are), and when they are organic. We take great care to chill our raspberries and strawberries as soon as they are picked, so they start out cold when they are packed into your box. However, this week our refrigeration failed. Even though the cooler was 33-degrees when we went to bed last night, it was 60 degrees in there this morning! Please eat your raspberries AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Garlic tops: Here’s a lovely vegetable that you may not have seen before (unless you’ve been a Harvest Box member in past years). You can cook garlic tops any way you would cook asparagus—steam, roast, or grill. As with asparagus, I recommend breaking off the bottom few inches, wherever it snaps easily, as the very bottom parts can be stringy. My personal cooking preference (because it’s easy) is to steam them for about 10 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a sharp knife. They are also quite popular cut into bite-sized pieces and cooked in a stir-fry.

Fava Beans
     For those of you who know fava beans, I just need to tell you that these beans are so young and fresh that they only need a minimum of cooking time.
     If you’re new to fava beans, read on: First, take the beans out of the pods. You can do this either by scoring the length of the pod with a paring knife, or by snapping the pod at each bean and popping the bean out. Blanch the beans for 2 minutes, then plunge into ice water to chill quickly. Finally, (this step is optional, depending on the ultimate recipe) pop the bright green, tender bean out of its skin. Leaving the skins on is optional. You can taste a bean or two after blanching and see if you want to take the extra effort to pop off the outer skins.  If you do peel them, you get a milder flavor and more tender bean, if you leave the peels on you get a more chewy texture, but the beans hold their shape better in the final dish. Taste a few beans, and then decide.

RECIPES FOR FAVA BEANS
Edamame style: Serve blanched fava beans in a small dish, with a touch of salt. Take one bean at a time, and pop it out of the skin directly into your mouth. Discard the skin.

Fava Beans with Yogurt and Lemon
1. Heat 2 Tbs olive oil over moderate heat in a frypan until the oil shimmers.
2. Add 1-2 cups blanched, peeled fava beans and 1 clove garlic, sliced. Sauté for 3 minutes.
3. Then add ½ sweet onion, thinly sliced. Sauté for 3 more minutes.
4. Prepare dressing: whisk together 1 Tbs olive oil, zest and juice from ½ lemon, and a pinch of salt.
5. Toss sautéed favas with lemon dressing and cool for 5 minutes.
6. Gently fold in ¼ cup yogurt and a generous handful of fresh dill, basil, or parsley. Eat warm or chilled.

     If you want to try something different, and use the pods as well, sauté lots of garlic and onion in a generous amount of olive oil until soft. Snap off the stem ends, and pull strings off fava pods. Cut your pods into 1-inch lengths, and add to the sautéed garlic. Stir-fry for 3 minutes, then add tomato paste, and a little water (6 oz. tomato paste, ½ cup water for 2 pounds of beans). Add a handful of fresh dill, parsley, or basil. Cover and simmer until the beans are tender, and the sauce becomes thickened (about 10 minutes). Add salt to taste.

      
Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 1

In this box: 1 Oak Leaf Lettuce (from Springhill Organic Farm, 1 Sweet Red Onion, 1# Sugar Snap Peas (from Springhill rganic Farm), 2# New Potatoes (red), 1 bunch Kale, 1 basket Cherries   (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
  
    
       Tom and I like to joke about how there’s “never a dull moment” on the farm, and this past week was no exception. Sometimes it’s the weather, sometimes it’s because we’re short on something we want to put in our Harvest Box, sometimes it’s because we have parents & children, and sometimes it’s a technology challenge. Well, this past week, we’ve had just about every one of those challenges! I think we’ve gracefully handled all but the death of my beloved computer—I hope everyone received my email note to pick up a paper copy of this week’s newsletter. All my data was saved (whew!), but I still need to finish downloading a program onto my new computer before I will be able to post the newsletters to the web site. Hopefully by next week, I will resolve that little issue, and you can again read the current newsletters on the web site!
       The weather has influenced not only today’s box, but future boxes as well. We are SO grateful that we picked cherries for today’s box on Sunday. Because the rain this week will make all the remaining cherries of this early variety swell and crack. Sigh. We knew we were taking a chance trying to grow organic cherries in Corvallis, but when the weather cooperates, they are just too delicious to pass up! The cherries this week are a variety called Early Burlat. This is an heirloom French variety that ripens very early in the season. 
    Aside from the past few days, the weather has been incredibly lovely since January. Remarkably dry, and warm weather this winter & early spring enabled us to plant some things earlier than usual, and hastened the growth & ripening of a number of our crops. We had lovely sugar snap peas a month ago, but our peas peaked early. We weren’t going to have enough of our own peas for everyone—but we really wanted to put peas in the boxes today. So, we called on our friend Jamie, at Springhill Organic Farm (in North Albany), who is famous for his sugar snap peas. Fortunately, his crop was planted later than ours, so today’s box has a pound of sugar snap peas from Springhill Farm.
    Sugar snap peas can be eaten raw (dipped in hummus), or lightly steamed and tossed with butter. I suggest snapping off the stem end, and pulling the bit of “string” off before cooking or eating.
    As with our peas, our spring-planted lettuce and carrots also matured early, and we don’t have enough for all our members, so we called on Springhill Farm again, and Jamie offered us his lovely green oak leaf lettuce. The carrots today are from our friends Gabe & Sophie at Groundwork Organic Farm. Gabe worked for us years ago (in fact, it was 18 years ago, because our son who is graduating from high school next week was just a baby!) before starting his own farm just north of Eugene.  We collaborate frequently with Gabe & Sophie, and also with Jamie, so you are likely to see a few items from them in future weeks as well.

This week’s box just begs for a cucumber & onion salad. Add a little oil & vinegar, and maybe some feta cheese, and you have a meal. By the way, cucumbers store best at room temperature—but loosely covered with plastic so they don’t shrivel. Unlike most cucumbers in the grocery store, ours are NOT waxed to prevent moisture loss.

New Potatoes: Potatoes need to be stored in the dark or the skins will turn green. The green parts are not good to eat. I generally store my potatoes in a plastic bag (to keep them from drying out), in the fridge (to keep them cool), inside a paper bag (to keep them in the dark) — but I strongly suggest labeling the bag with the date & type of potato before they get lost at the back of the fridge. Better yet, cook your new potatoes this week, when they are really at their best (there will be plenty more potatoes in the coming weeks). Red potatoes are lovely steamed and made into potato salad with your favorite dressing, either oil & vinegar, or the classic mayonnaise dressing. These red potatoes would also be just wonderful steamed until tender and tossed with a touch of butter.