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.
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!
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
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”.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.