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Denison Farms

2014 Denison Farms Newsletters


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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2014 Week 9
In this box: 1 bu Carrots, 1 bunch Italian Parsley (Need a  parsley idea? Look up  recipes for chimichurri on the Internet), 1 head Garlic, 1 bx Red Cherry Tomatoes, 1 bx Cherry Tomato Mix, 3/4# Romano Green Beans OR 1# Summer Squash, 2# Butterball Potatoes- these are wonderful for  roasting,  hashed browns, or mashing,  1 basket Blackberries, 1 basket Strawberries (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
Plans and flexibility
    In past years, this would have been the week to find fresh figs in your harvest box. However, our fig orchard nearly died last December when the temperatures dropped to 2-degrees on our farm. In the 36 years since Tom started farming in Corvallis, that's the coldest it's ever been here. We crossed our fingers, and waited for spring to see if the fig trees would leaf out. But all the buds that should have produced green leaves and this year's figs are dead.
Fortunately, our blackberries and strawberries survived the cold winter, so we still have fruit for you this week. And, due to the amazing resilience of fig trees, many of the trees that looked dead have sprouted new branches from the roots. We can hope for figs again next year.

Romano Green Beans
    Our members in Salem and Albany will find Romano Green Beans in today's box. We hope to have beans for our Corvallis members next week. In my dreams, we would have picked enough Romano beans for all the boxes, but the plants just aren't cooperating this week. We even tried to get some Romano beans from Groundwork Organic Farm, but Gabe's bean harvest was small as well-so we are practicing flexibility, and will put summer squash in our Corvallis boxes today.
    Here's what you should know about Romano green beans: They can be used any way you would use a standard green bean, but they are more tender (and we think have much better flavor) than regular green beans. Since they are more tender, you want to be careful not to overcook them. We suggest steaming them for just 2-3 minutes, then serve with a little butter. As you prepare them for the steamer, snap (don't cut) each bean into bite-sized pieces. Occasionally you will come across a bean that doesn't snap because it's too mature. Toss those few in the compost (or juicer, or soup stock pot), as that one will be tough and stringy. 

Italian Parsley
    I've been eating a lot of parsley this week-I like to fill my salad bowl with chopped parsley, add a bunch of sliced tomatoes, & maybe some thin slices of sweet onion, top it with a big spoonful of hummus, and then drizzle with extra olive oil to turn the hummus into the consistency of dressing (rather than a dip). Add some leftover cooked rice or other cooked grain for a complete meal. 
Here's a recipe for a vegan, gluten-free dinner salad:
Quinoa Tabbouleh
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well   
1/2 tsp. salt           
2 Tbs. lemon juice       
1 clove garlic, minced        
freshly ground black pepper   
1/2 cup olive oil          
1/2 cup chopped parsley       
1/4 cup finely chopped onion        
Bring quinoa, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 1/4 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, and sweet onion. Toss gently. Add quinoa. Mix thoroughly, & chill.

Second payment due
   If you paid half of the membership fee at the beginning of the season, your second payment is due August 1st.
   Since most people remember to send their payment in without a formal reminder, we usually wait until after August 1st to send invoices to those who still have a balance due.
    If you can't remember whether or not you have a balance due on your membership, please drop me an email, and I can check whether or not you have paid in full. For those of you joining at the beginning of the season, your balance due is probably $286. Some members who started after the first box may have a different payment amount. Send me an email, and I can look it up.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2014 Week 8
In this box:
1 Romaine Lettuce, 1 bu Carrots, 1 bunch Kale, 1 Sweet Onion, 1 box Artisan Tomatoes, 2# Sweet Girl Tomatoes, 2# Purple Potatoes, 1 basket Blueberries (from Groundwork Organic Farm), 1 basket Beauty Plums OR 1 basket Blackberries  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Artisan tomatoes
Today you will be getting some unusual cherry or mini roma tomatoes in your box.  Tom is always looking for great vegetables or fruits that might grow well for us.  Last winter he discovered the Artisan Tomato series from Artisan Seeds.  Artisan Seeds is a branch of Baia Nicchia Farm in Sunol California.  This series of cherry and mini roma tomatoes all look like they were tie-dyed, and taste very good.  The seeds for these tomatoes are not hybrids, (and definitely not GMO), but were produced via traditional breeding methods.  A grower could plant the seeds from these tomatoes and they will breed true. We have enjoyed eating the different kinds, and they have been popular at our farmers markets, so we are happy to have enough yield to put some in our harvest boxes this week.  We have several kinds from this series, so you won't all get the same thing, but likely will get a chance to taste them all before the season is over.

Green Hummus
    Here's the recipe that was such a hit at our Harvest Box Farm party. It's a delicious dip for crackers or carrot sticks, delicious spread on slices of tomato, or in a sandwich. The secret ingredient? Kale.
    The original recipe from which I take my inspiration was Collard & Pecan Pesto Bon Apetit, Oct. 2013.

1. Slice 1 large bunch of kale (or collards) into ribbons. Steam for 5 minutes. Drain. Cool to room temperature.
2. Blend cooled greens in a food processor with:
3. Blend until very smooth. Taste, and add salt, pepper, or more cider vinegar as desired. 

    My other favorite recipe for Kale: Hot & Sour Greens (adapted from Andrew Weil, 8 Weeks to Optimum Health)
1 bunch greens  (chard, collards, kale, bok choy, or any other greens)
2 tsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
dash of red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
2 Tbs. rice vinegar
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. brown sugar (optional)
Rinse and slice greens in 1/2 inch shreds. Heat oil, stir-fry garlic and pepper flakes 1 minute.
Add greens and mustard powder. Stir to coat greens with garlic and oil. Combine rice vinegar, soy sauce, and (optional) sugar. Add to skillet. Cook, covered, over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

And, last but not least, my recommendation for Purple Viking Potatoes.... Definitely some kind of potato salad. You can scroll down to find my favorite recipe in this year's Week 3 newsletter: Simple Potato Salad.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2014:  Week 7
In this box: 1 Lettuce, 1 bu Basil, 1 bu Carrots, 1 or 2 Cucumbers, 1 box Grape Tomatoes, 1 bx Cherry Tomatoes, 2# Butterball Potatoes, 1.5# Zucchini, 1 basket Beauty Plums  (weights are approx.)
Everything is Organic!


    When Tom moved to this farm in 1990, there were no orchards, as the farm had been growing hay and row crops. That first year, he planted a small cherry orchard-the fruits of which you tasted a few weeks ago. I met Tom in 1995, and that year we planted about 30 plum trees. The following spring, we were married in the plum orchard when the trees were in bloom. Our plums always taste a little extra sweet to me because of that association. These plums are a variety called "Beauty". They are very juicy!

Food Blogs
    One of the fun things about being a farmer is the challenge to cook with whatever Tom brings into the kitchen. Sometimes I read cooking magazines for inspiration, and occasionally I sit at the computer and scan food blogs. Last week, I found myself reading deeper and deeper into foodloveswriting.com. I got there by searching for something to do with a bunch of tarragon. I was inspired by the suggestion to make pesto with a little more olive oil than usual, and use it for a most delicious salad dressing (foodloveswriting.com/2013/03/26/lemon-tarragon-pesto-dressing/). More recently, a friend sent me searching through peachesplease.com for the recipe for chilled tomato soup with Tabasco granita. Caution, reading food blogs can be addictive!
    Tom's vote for his favorite food blog is cookingwithrosetta.com. The author is a native of the Calabria region in Italy, who has been living and teaching her cuisine in Oakland, CA for years. There are some mouthwatering recipes for zucchini, tomatoes, basil, and more esoteric ingredients on her blog. Makes me feel like I'm in Italy-I guess that's a new version of armchair travel.
More ways to use Basil
1. Layer basil leaves instead of lettuce on a sandwich,
2. Make pesto (see Newsletter Week 5), and add to mashed potatoes,
3. Spread pesto on pizza crust before baking,
4. Make extra pesto, and freeze in an old ice cube tray for single-serving portions all winter.
5. Add pesto to soup, stew, or spaghetti sauce all year long. Especially nice with a potato, zucchini, and white bean soup. STart with 1/4 cup pesto, and add more to taste.

Grape Tomates & Cherry Tomatoes
    Today's box has both grape tomatoes and cherry tomatoes-in a variety of colors. We affectionately call the mixed cherry tomatoes our "jelly bean" mix.  Cherry tomatoes tend to be juicier, and grape tomatoes more "meaty". This makes grape tomatoes more durable if you're packing a lunchbox. Grape tomatoes are my first choice on shish kebob skewers or in a sauté-for example they would be ideal for the recipe in last week's newsletter: Sautéed Zucchini, Basil, Cherry Tomatoes, and Olives.
    Ideas for using the jelly bean cherry tomatoes? I suggest sitting in the shade, and eating one after the other to discover your favorite variety!

German Butterball Potatoes-these are great for baking, roasting, mashing, or hash browns! Really, a great potato for so many things. The only caution I have is don't cut them up and boil them, or they will fall apart.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2014:  Week 6

In this box: 1 Lettuce, 1 Sweet Onion, 1 or 2 Cucumbers, 1# Salad (small) Tomatoes, 1 bx Cherry Tomatoes, 2# Red Potatoes, 2 or 3 Zucchini, 1 basket Blackberries, 1 basket Strawberries OR Beauty Plums   (weights are approx.)
Everything is Organic!

    In the early 80's Tom grew a LOT of zucchini. The farm was less diverse then, and zucchini was one of his primary crops. Back then, there were lots of local family-owned grocery stores (now all extinct). Tom would load up his old 1964 Chevrolet flat-bed truck, and deliver boxes of zucchini to individual grocery stores between Eugene and Portland. We've since sold the '64 Chevy in favor of more reliable transportation.
     Zucchini are famous for growing quickly. The only way to have small, uniform-sized zucchini is to harvest 7 days a week. Zucchini plants have a very strong drive to reproduce. If you pick every day, when the zucchini are small, the plant will continually set more and more fruits-from June through September. However, if you miss one zucchini, it will quickly grow to the size of your leg (and if left long enough, will develop a hard shell and mature seeds and start to look like an oblong pumpkin). As the seeds in this behemoth squash mature, they send a signal to the rest of the plant, and it stops producing more fruits. We pick our zucchini every day, so that the plants will keep setting more fruit through the summer.
     There are many different varieties of summer squash-green zucchini being the most common. All the different varieties are interchangeable in the kitchen, whether you slice & eat yours raw in a salad, drizzle with marinade & toss on the grill, or throw it in a sauté pan. In your box today, you may have the classic green zucchini, or "white" (really pale green) zucchini, gold-skinned zucchini, or the delightful patty pan squash, shaped like a flying saucer.

Here's a new recipe from Maggie (our Corvallis Harvest Box driver, and friendly face at the Salem Wednesday Market). She says: "I've eaten this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.... Anyone I've shared it with has raved at how the combination of tastes are so distinguishable yet blend in a way that is pleasing to the palate".  I call it Maggie's Summer Squash Scramble:
Ingredients: Zucchini, Onion, Basil, Garlic, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper, Cheese (I prefer Parmesan for this but have used several other kinds and they all taste great in this dish!)
Instructions: Cut zucchini the long way into thin strips. Dice the onion. Have the basil ready to be cut (with scissors) as the dish cooks. Grate the cheese. Chop garlic or use garlic press.
In a skillet brown the onion and garlic. Add zukes to the pan and let them brown as well. When you notice the zukes are getting tender and semi soft, use the scissors and cut the basil over the pan. I usually cut about half the bunch each time I make this dish. Once the basil has been added and you've cooked everything to your desired texture, turn off the heat, add the cheese and place a lid on the skillet to let the cheese melt. Then you're ready to serve it!

And, another great recipe:
Sauteed Zucchini, Basil, Cherry Tomatoes, and Olives
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil               
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, cut into 1/2 -inch thick slices   
2 large garlic cloves, sliced               
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary           
2 cups small cherry tomatoes, halved           
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 & pepper. Saute until zucchini is just tender, about 5 min.Add tomatoes and olives. Saute until tomatoes just begin to soften, about 2 minutes.
Mix in basil and vinegar. Season vegetables to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl.
Makes 6 servings. From Bon Appetit, September 2007.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2014:  Week 5

In this box: 1 Lettuce, 1 bunch Italian Parsley, 1 bunch Basil, 1 Cabbage (from Groundwork Farm), 1 head garlic, 1# Salad (small) Tomatoes, 1 bx Red Grape Tomatoes, 1 basket Raspberries, 1 basket Strawberries OR Gold Raspberries   (weights are approx.)  Everything is Organic!
Storage Tip: Cherry and Grape Tomatoes
Don’t rinse cherry tomatoes until just before you eat them, or the skins will crack.
Grape tomatoes are a little meatier than cherry tomatoes (less juicy). They travel better in a lunchbox, and are less perishable.

    Today’s cabbage is from our friends, Gabe & Sophie, at Groundwork Organic Farm. Gabe worked on our farm for a number of years before starting his own farm in Junction City. There were some slugs around the bottom of the head I cooked today. You can get rid of them by cutting off the bottom, and removing the first few outer leaves.
    One of my favorite ways to cook cabbage is in a stir-fry, with a soy sauce/rice vinegar flavoring. Here’s a quick recipe (loosely adapted from Andrew Weil’s book 8 Weeks to Optimum Health, with inspiration from Molly’s Mu Shu Cabbage recipe (see Last Year’s Newsletters Week 23)
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. rice vinegar
2 Tbs. soy sauce
(optional ½ tsp. toasted sesame oil)
    Shred ½ small head of cabbage. Heat oil in a large skillet, stir-fry garlic 1 minute. Add shredded cabbage, and stir-fry for 3 minutes on medium-high heat. Combine rice vinegar, soy sauce, and (optional) sesame oil. Add to skillet. Cover, and cook over medium heat for about 3 more minutes. Top with ribbons of fried egg for a complete meal.

    Revered by ancient Romans, Italian Parsley has been used as a vegetable in the Mediterranean regions for centuries. Nutritionally, it is very high in vitamins A & C, and iron. Parsley is an essential ingredient in Tabbouleh (a summer salad of parsley, tomatoes, olive oil, & lemon juice). Traditional tabbouleh is made with bulgur wheat, but I find Quinoa is an excellent substitute for gluten-free diets. Last Year’s Newsletters, Week 1 has a recipe for Quinoa Summer Salad if you would like specific quantities for the ingredients & dressing.
    Parsley is also a great addition to pesto--

    The most important note about basil is Don’t store it in the refrigerator! Most refrigerators are way too cold for basil, and the leaves will turn black. Best to store it on the counter, loosely covered with a plastic bag. Or, better yet, turn it into pesto for a quick dinner tonight or tomorrow.
Basic Pesto:
Blend in a food processor or blender until finely chopped:
1 clove garlic (mince it first for best results)
1/2 tsp salt
1 bunch basil leaves and tender stems (no need to waste the stems!) OR 1 bu Basil & ½ bunch Parsley
    (chop first for best results, then add to blender or processor)
Blend until everything is finely chopped, then add:
½ cup nuts (pine nuts are so expensive, but we’ve had excellent results using sunflower seeds, cashews, or walnuts. It’s extra nice if the nuts are 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 ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese. Mix gently into 1 pound of hot cooked pasta. (If you want a vegan version, omit the cheese and use a little more salt and nuts).
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2014:  Week 4

In this box: 1 Lettuce, 1 bunch Radish, 1 bunch Spinach, 1 bunch Green Kale, 2# German Butterball Potatoes, 1 Cucumber, 1 box Sungold Tomatoes, 1 basket Raspberries, 1 basket Strawberries OR Gold Raspberries (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Notes from the Farm: Box Shortage Alert
    Please return your empty Harvest Box tub every week. We have a severe box shortage in the packing shed, and need to keep all our boxes in circulation. Thank you.

    Kale is closely related to broccoli, cabbage, radishes, and collards. Twenty years ago, the largest consumer of kale was Pizza Hut Restaurants, who used it to decorate their salad bar. Times have certainly changed, and Kale is no longer just used as decoration.  It has always been one of the most nutritious vegetables, but recently has been enjoying such an increase in popularity that seed shortages plagued gardeners and farmers this season.  The rapid increase in kale consumption has frightened the broccoli lobby into attacking kale with humorous adds with statements like "Broccoli, it's 50% less pretentious than Kale."  Kale sales at the farmers markets are running 3 or 4 times higher than they were a couple of years ago.  So what is driving all this kale consumption?  While food fashions come and go, ample evidence exists that diets containing fresh leafy greens like kale help ward off many health problems. 
    There are lots of different ways to use kale.  Last night, Tom took a bunch of coarsely chopped kale, and steamed it for dinner:  put chopped kale into a large pot with about 1/2" of salted water in the bottom. Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once steam starts escaping strongly from under the lid, turn off the heat, and leave the pot on the hot burner for about 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, serve kale by itself, drizzle with a vinaigrette salad dressing, or top with a dollop of hummus. Although our boys sometimes eat kale cooked this way, they always eat it chopped very finely and hidden in slow-cooked chili or spaghetti sauce. 
    Part of the increasing popularity of kale is the rise of Kale Chips as a "healthy" snack food. We sell thousands of pounds of kale to Pacific Northwest Kale Chips in Portland.  They season it and dehydrate it into several different tasty flavors, then distribute their product to grocery stores throughout the Northwest. If you want to try kale chips, we (of course) recommend Pacific Northwest Kale Chips, because they use our kale.

Radishes can be eaten either raw or cooked. Cooking will tone down their spicy hotness. Try them in a sauté! I start with olive oil in a hot pan, then stir-fry sliced radishes for 3 minutes, season with a hearty dash of tamari (soy sauce), then continue to stir-fry until the tamari becomes slightly caramelized.

Member's Day on the Farm
This Sunday, June 29th
From 2-6 pm
Farm tour at 3, Potluck at 5
Come for all or part of the afternoon

Bring walking shoes for the farm tour, and a blanket or lawn chair for relaxing. If you're staying for the potluck, please bring a dish to share, and it's helpful if you bring your own plates & cutlery.
We will provide berry soda again this year.
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 2014: Week 3

In this box: 1 Lettuce, 3-4 Cucumbers, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 bunch Basil, 1 Sweet onion, 2# New Potatoes, 1# Zucchini, 1 basket Raspberries, 1 basket Strawberries  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Just so you know, we don’t use any pesticides on our farm. The Environmental Working Group has published a list of “conventionally grown” fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide residues. Strawberries, spinach, cherry tomatoes, and potatoes are all on their “dirty dozen list”. Lettuce was ranked #15.    
Thank you for choosing Organic. We think it’s better for you, and better for the planet.

    Cucumbers (and also tomatoes and zucchini) don’t like to be cold. In the spring, they must be either protected from freezing weather or planted only after the risk of frost has passed. On our farm, we plant cucumbers, zucchini, and tomatoes in hoop houses to protect them from frost, and so that we can harvest them as early as possible in the season. I’m thrilled when the first cucumbers come into my kitchen—because cucumbers are one of the things I only eat when they are in season and local.
    These same crops don’t like to be stored in the refrigerator—it’s way too cold in there! Cucumbers & zucchini are happiest above 50 degrees. Tomatoes store best at room temperature—the refrigerator ruins their flavor. However, cucumbers have thin skin, and lose moisture if they sit on the countertop. Losing just a little bit of moisture through their thin skins makes cucumbers soft. For this reason nearly all cucumbers in the grocery store
(even organic ones) get coated with a wax before they are shipped to keep them from losing moisture. English cucumbers are generally wrapped in plastic for the same reason.
     We store our cucumbers on the counter, where they get a little soft, but they taste great. I suggest eating your cucumbers within a day or two, or cover loosely with a plastic bag on the counter to keep the moisture in.  You can store cucumbers in the fridge, if they will be eaten immediately after they come out of refrigeration, but they won’t taste as good as ones that have never been in the fridge.

Purple Viking potatoes 
    Potatoes come in such a wide variety of textures, flavors, and colors. We can’t promise a new variety every week, but so far this season, we’ve given you a different kind each week. This week’s potato is Purple Viking. It has vibrant purple skin and creamy white flesh. Purple Viking is my favorite kind for potato salad, and also makes delicious mashed potatoes, especially if you like your mashed potatoes moist & creamy. Here’s my favorite potato salad recipe. 
Simple Potato Salad
1.    Finely chop ½ a mild onion, place in bowl.
2.    Cover with good olive oil and rice vinegar (use about twice as much olive oil as vinegar). Add 1 Tbs. capers (optional), or ½ tsp mustard.
3.    Scrub, but don’t peel 2 lbs. new potatoes. Cut into bite-sized chunks.
4.    Cover potatoes with water, add 1 tsp. salt. Boil for 10 minutes or until soft.
5.    Drain potatoes and add to onions. Stir gently. Cool 10 minutes. Serve warm or chilled.

    When Tom was in college, studying vegetable production, one assignment was to calculate the nutritional content of a diet that consisted of 12-pounds per day of potatoes—which is what most people in Ireland, and many people in the rest of Europe were eating before the potato famine. Incredible as it may seem, a person could get nearly all their nutritional, protein & caloric needs met (except for Vitamin A & B12) with this diet. The Irish obtained the rest of the necessary nutrients (including Vitamin A) from dairy products, and they fed their cows the cull potatoes.  Wow, I have a new respect for potatoes!

Rain or Shine, this year’s Member’s Day on the Farm
Sunday, June 29th
From 2-6 pm
Farm tour at 3, Potluck at 5
Come for all or part of the afternoon
Bring walking shoes, and a blanket or lawn chair for relaxing. If you’re staying for the potluck, please bring a dish to share, and your own plates & cutlery.
We will make berry soda again this year.
(Directions to the farm in next week’s newsletter)
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2014: Week 2
In this box:
, 1/2# Spinach, 1 bunch Carrots, ¾# Broccoli, 1 Fresh Garlic, 2# New Potatoes (Gold), 1 bunch Garlic tops, 1.5# Fava Beans, 1 basket Raspberries, 1 basket Cherries, (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Correction to last week’s newsletter: Potato Storage
I forgot to mention that new potatoes should be stored in a plastic bag inside a paper bag.
New potatoes keep best in the refrigerator; and don’t forget to write the date & kind of potato
on the bag.

The date has been chosen: This year’s Member’s Day on the Farm
Sunday, June 29th, From 2-6 pm
Farm tour at 3, Potluck at 5
Come for all or part of the afternoon

Broccoli should never be overcooked.
    Harvest Box member, Pamela, suggests blanching for reliably good results.
    To blanch, lower broccoli into boiling water, or place in a steamer over boiling water for just 3 minutes. You want to catch it when the color turns from dull green to bright green. Then plunge into ice water to halt the cooking process.  Cooked this way, the broccoli stays crisp.

    The ground got a little dry, so some of our potatoes didn't clean up in our root washer. Soak in a bowl of water for 10 minutes, then scrub to clean them.

Garlic tops
    Garlic tops can be cooked any way you might cook asparagus. The texture is similar to asparagus, but the flavor tastes mildly of garlic. We like to snap them into bite-sized pieces, then stir-fry in olive oil until they are soft, or slightly browned. Garlic tops can also be steamed until tender, and served with a touch of butter.

Fava Beans
    Most recipes start by taking the beans out of the pods. This is easily done by snapping the pod at each bean and popping the beans out. Either toss the pods in your compost, or see below for a recipe that uses them.
Next, blanch the beans for 3 minutes. Plunge into ice water to chill quickly. Many recipes instruct you to pop the inner bean out of its skin after blanching, then add the inner bean to a soup or sauté.  This step, however, is not essential. If you don’t mind a little extra texture in your diet, there is really no need to take the outer skin off the bean. 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. Note: this information is relevant only for favas from Denison Farms. There are many different varieties of fava beans, and some other farms grow varieties with tough, bitter skin.

Edamame-style Fava Beans: Blanch, but don’t remove skins. 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. This presentation is especially popular with my youngest son.

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 cup blanched, peeled fava beans and 1 clove garlic, sliced. Sauté for 3 minutes.
3.    Prepare dressing: whisk together 1 Tbs olive oil, zest and juice from ½ lemon, and a pinch of salt.
4.    Toss sautéed favas with lemon dressing and cool for 5 minutes.
5.    Gently fold in ¼ cup yogurt and a generous handful of fresh dill, basil, or parsley.

Using Fava pods: The fava pods in your box today are also nice cooked—either by themselves (because you used the beans already), or use the whole pod with beans inside—just break off & strip away the strings on the sides of the pod. Please note: We grow a fava bean that has a nice tasting pod. Don’t assume favas from the grocery store will taste as good.  Here’s our favorite way to prepare fava pods:

Mediterranean Fava Bean Sauté 
Sauté lots of garlic (and onion if you have it) in a generous amount of olive oil until soft. Snap off the top, and pull strings off fava pods. Cut into ¼” inch lengths, and add to the sautéed garlic. Stir-fry for 3 minutes, then add 6 oz. tomato paste, ½ cup water, and ¼ tsp. salt. [Optional: add a handful of dill, parsley, or basil, if available]. Cover and simmer until the beans are tender (about 10 minutes) and the sauce thickens.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2014 Week 1

In this box: 1/2# spinach, 1 bunch carrots, 1 sweet onion, 1 fresh garlic, 2# new red potatoes, 1# zucchini, 1# sugar snap peas, 1 basket raspberries, 1 basket cherries (weights are approximate) Everything is Certified Organic!

Welcome to this season of Harvest Boxes! We look forward to being your farmers for the next 6 months. 

Meet this week’s fruits & vegetables
    Let’s start right in with the fruit—the first of the season’s raspberries! If you can’t eat your raspberries tonight, please get them into a cold refrigerator AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. In fact, many experienced Harvest Box members bring a cooler when they pick up their weekly box, and transfer the most perishable items right into the cooler. Things like fruit, carrots, peas, and spinach will keep much better if they stay cool.
    Cherries: When Tom first moved to this farm (24 years ago), one of the first things he did was plant about 125 cherry trees. Those trees have grown into a lovely mature orchard. Our farm crew has been spending dozens of hours up on ladders picking cherries for the past few days. The cherry season is short, but sweet.
    This week’s cherries are a variety called Early Burlat. This is an heirloom French variety that ripens very early in the season.

Now for the vegetables—Fresh Garlic: Most garlic in a grocery store has matured in the field, and is dried, so it keeps for months. However, we’re just too impatient to wait that long! We harvest some of our garlic as soon as the bulbs have developed, and then it is called “fresh” garlic. Since fresh garlic hasn’t completely dried, it won’t keep very long. Best to use it this week, and store it in the refrigerator, or you can store it on the counter—but NOT in a plastic bag. Fresh garlic can get moldy if it’s not in a well-ventilated place. Our main-season garlic will be harvested in early July, dried in the shade, and available for all your culinary needs through summer and into the fall.
    This early red-skinned garlic is one of our milder-tasting varieties. Later in the summer, we will have some garlic that is hotter. This mild garlic would be excellent stir-fried with zucchini, or minced & simmered gently in butter then poured over boiled new potatoes.

Sweet Onion: Sweet onions can be used either raw or cooked, and the green tops can be used just like a green onion. If you only want to use part of your onion, store the unused portion wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator.

New Potatoes: Potatoes will keep best in the refrigerator, especially early in the season when they have just been harvested, and the skins are thin. I suggest storing your new potatoes in the refrigerator in a brown paper bag labeled with the date and variety of potato.  Always store potatoes in the dark. They will turn green when exposed to light, and the green parts are not good to eat. 

Sugar Snap Peas: When we planned this box, we were hopeful that we would have enough sugar snap peas of our own for all the boxes. Unfortunately, our peas are not producing very well, so we asked our friend, Jamie at Springhill Farm in Albany if he would share some of his peas with us. We’re happy to offer Jamie’s peas in this week’s box. Sugar Snap peas, also called “edible pod” peas, can be enjoyed raw, steamed, or sautéed.

And one final, quick note about carrots: Carrots keep best if you remove the tops when you get home. I like to scrub the roots before storing in the refrigerator, so they’re clean and ready to eat when the kids get home from school.

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