Thursday, June 23, 2011

Week 7: Summer Solstice

Shannon shows off the good greens to come...a herb salad blend.

Hey howdy, everybody! Supposedly it will be warm this week, today sure feels good. Yes, I type these letters a Monday afternoon, whilst children still at friend's or grandma-grandpa's house. I just can't seem to think, much less type, when they're here. So loud and crazy they are! And sleep early? Oh, no no no, “it's not night time...” “yes it is, it's summertime, the sunshine stays bright late, so it's nighttime even though it's light out. Go to sleep, now.” “But it's mornin'time, not night time.” “it's nighttime, sleepytime, close your eyes then it will be dark!” Happy Summer Solstice!!!

Yaay, we got a comment on our blogspot! A compliment, even, yaay! It said, “those sunflower shoots were awesome!” I agree, they were tasty, and i'm-a-gonna plant some more! The kids like them, too. 

Full share with Cheese and extra fruit options.  Photo by Shannon Gilbert
This week's standard share with extra fruit option.  Photo by Shannon Gilbert

This week's box: the salad is back! We'll have the herb blend next week or the next, lookin' forward to it! A bundle of scapes with either dill or cilantro and a pretty pea shoot (a decorative, edible, savory bundle; perfect for a pretty glass of water on your counter). And an alien from outer space! Just kidding, it's kohlrabi from Yonder Farm! I looked at recipes, but they're all for cooking and you only each get one, and they're yummiest raw, anyways. So, chop tops (can cook and eat them) and bottom, then peel and cut slabs or wedges and eat like a sliced apple-- I can't wait to get mine to eat! Maybe i'll start growing them again next year. I think i'll grow more stuff next year, i'm starting to miss all the cool plants. . . The Chinese/Napa Cabbage is from up Yonder, too. Fruit shares: the strawberries are from 8th Street, not washed. You have credit for next week, as it's a late fruit year and cherries are ~10 days slow.

For those with a fruit share: the reddest, juiciest strawberries from 8th Street Greens.

Cooking tips for Chinese Cabbage: chop raw into green salads; sub. into traditional coleslaw; make kim chi; chop with grated carrot/green onion/toasted sesame oil/rice vinegar and soy sauce; cooks quickly: Steam for 3-5 minutes or until leaves are wilted down but remain slightly crisp; sub. For common cabbage but reduce cook time by 2 minutes; stir-fry alone with onion, toasted sesame oil and soy sauce or add at end of stir-fry; use leaves for roll-ups; excellent in soups, fried rice, mashed with potatoes, chopped with scrambled eggs. Storage tips: do not remove all of the outer tough leaves before storage. They will help retain moisture, keeping the inside crisp and fresh. Keep in hydrator drawer of fridge for up to 2 weeks. --from Asparagus to Zucchini

Can you believe that just 7 weeks ago, as shown on our first blog post, these big Chinese Cabbages were transplanted to the field?

Cilantro does not keep flavor when dried, however it's delicious in stir-fries and soups but add at end of cooking to preserve flavor. Toss into salad, pasta or potato salad (or use dill), make a vinaigrette with lime, use in Thai-Indian-Mexican or Chinese dishes, or in those roll-ups you're doing with the Napa Cabbage. :)

Fletcher harvests the tasty and decorative buds from a cilantro plant that Shannon let grow tall and flower for this week's herb bundle.

Keep fresh herbs like dill or cilantro in a damp towel or stand upright in a container with an inch of h2o, and refrigerate. Do not wash prior to chilling. Freeze fresh leaves in a zip-lock bag or little yogurt type container. Do not thaw before use. Dill DOES dry nicely. You'll get both these herbs again as the summer rolls along. . . ~~later, Shannon

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Week 6: "Oh, The Things You Can Do With a Farm Share Box"

Check out this great article (with recipes) on NPR about the excitement of cooking from a CSA box, entitled, "Oh, The Things You Can Do With a Farm Share Box".

Beautiful lettuce from Art Heineman, garlic scapes, winter savory herb bundles, mini chinese cabbage, sunflower shoots and a ripening hint of the fruits to come! (photo by Shannon)

Hey there, everyone! This is our 6th CSA box of the season. This week's box has: a bundle of winter savory herb from Michael Pilarski, a head of red iceberg lettuce from Art Heineman (certified organic fields in Tonasket), a bundle of mini Chinese cabbage from 8th Street Greens (it began bolting before it formed heads, but is still good cooking food, the flowers and buds are food too!), a bundle of garlic scapes from 8th Street (tasty savory seed shoots that we trim from the garlic plants, allows garlic to form bigger bulbs and gives us gourmet early garlic flavor for our cooking, or eat raw in a processed dressing or pesto), and either a bag of stir-fry or a handful of sunflower shoots from 8th St... Sunflower shoots are a delicious tender microgreen, a young green that's older than sprouts but not yet a baby green like our salad. Hopefully we succeed for this Thursday, otherwise we'll try again for in a week or two! It's probable that this week's box is a little sparse and you'll all have some credit for later this summer when we have food abundance. Then, you'll get a fat box! How about that watercress guacomole?! Yum!

Where exactly does a scape come from? The top of an almost mature garlic plant.

The super-delicious flowers from a bolted Yukina Savoy plant. This week you have the flowers from a mini Chinese cabbage. 

Savory by Linda Gilbert
Savory: an herb so bold and peppery in its flavor that since the time of the Saxons it has come to denote not only the herb itself, but also a whole segment of cooking. It is synonymous with tasty and flavorful foods. Most commonly used as a seasoning for green vegetables, savory's special affinity is for beans. Use summer savory, with its more delicate flavor, for tender baby green beans, and winter savory to enhance a whole medley of dried beans and lentils. It is no coincidence that the German word for the herb is Bohenkraut, meaning bean herb, as one of the components of the herb naturally aids the digestion of these sometimes problematic legumes.
Winter savory (Satureja montana) The leaves of winter savory are best used for dishes that require long cooking, such as stews, or added to the water when cooking dried beans so that there is enough heat and moisture to break them down. This not only releases the flavorful oils, but also softens the leaves so that they are palatable. Winter savory is often used in stuffing, with vegetables, as a seasoning for fowl, and in making sausages. In fact, it is used today in the commercial preparation of salami.

Asian Bean Salad serves 4 Colorful and filled with lively flavors, this salad is a perfect match with grilled chicken or fish.

1/2 cup Adzuki Beans;4 sprigs Winter Savory; 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, minced; 1 tablespoon olive oil; 1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil; 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar; 1/8 teaspoon Asian chile sauce; 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice; 3 tablespoons celery, chopped
4 tablespoons red onion, chopped; 3 tablespoons red bell peppers, chopped; 3 tablespoons snow peas, blanched and chopped; 1/8 teaspoon black pepper; 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin; 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cover the beans in four times the volume of water and let soak overnight. Drain off the water and place the beans in a pot. Cover with five cups of water, add the salt and garlic. Bring to a boil and cook until the beans are soft but still retain their shape. Remove from heat, drain and rinse briefly with warm water. When drained, place in a mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients, and toss gently until everything is evenly blended. ~~shannon

Eisa and Copper Kettle cuddle on top of a bale of hay.
photo by Shannon Gilbert 

Iris grabs a good snack: asparagus from her back yard.
photo by Shannon Gilbert

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Week 5: Sweet Greens Are Made of These

This week's box: Heads of Bok Choy, beautiful radishes (limited supply cuz high cull rate) or heads of lettuce or other substitute, and sweet carrots from Yonder farm, early carrots – so special. 

Painted Sky Warrior uses the giant salad spinner to dry the triple washed greens.

The stir-fry bag from 8th Street is an odd-ball mix, not our usual “prototype :),” but it's still good food that we've rinsed 3 times. Big and small kales, chards, tokyo bekana, pea shoots and flowers, tatsoi and yukina savoy. We're giving the salad and spinach a rest from being picked so hard. It's been slow-growing, but this week's blend has two new plantings in it! Next year I will plant 3 times as much when I do my 1st march planting!

Heather harvests Yukina Savory

What's with all the Pac Choi? Last week's bag, this week's blend AND heads from Yonder? Well. . . that's what we've got out in the fields! I ate some chopped, sauteed in butter then cracked a couple eggs in the pan, stirred and flipped and scrambled, then spritzed with braggs or soy sauce, yum!
Bok Choy is a great nutritional gift and often touted as the garden vegetable higheset in calcium. Whether this is the truth or not, you can be confident that bok choy is an exellent source of vitamins A, B-complex, C and some minerals. All of this for only 24 calories per 1-cup serving!”
For stir-fry: separate leaves from stem, put stems in first to start cooking. Bok Choy can compliment other ingredients or it can be the stir-fry. Good with rice or noodles. Or, simply steam the Pac Choi and toss with a favorite marinade. Toasted sesame oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar are good basics. Storage: Wrap bok choy in a damp towel or put it in a plastic bag and place in the hydrator drawer of the fridge. Store up to 1 week. Leaves will lose integrity and wilt if allowed to dry out.

Beautiful Austrian Winter Pea shoots are included in this weeks stir-fry mix.

Grilled Pork Chops and Bok Choy with Sesame Garlic Glaze -From Asparagus to Zucchini
3 TB soy sauce//1 ½ TB sesame oil//1 ½-2 tsp chili garlic sauce//4 chops//8 large stalks bok choy
Combine sauces and oil in a large, deep plate or dish. Place chops in the mix, turn and coat. Let stand at room temp., turning occasionally, while prepare grill to med-hi heat. When coals ready, remove chops from marinade and grill them until just done, 3-4 min. p/side. Meanwhile, grill the bok choy stalks until tender, about 3 min., basting with remaining marinade while they cook. Serve with rice or asian noodle dish. 4 servings.

The watercress, never before in the csa boxes, is from a creek at one of Michael Pilarski's fields. I'm looking forward to eating it! A love of mine is wildcrafting and when out on a walk, nibbling foods from the old lands... last week, while thunder was rolling, I munched on a few fern tips that were just thinking about unfurling the next day. (Michael taught me about eating fern tips about 14 years ago in Bellingham). Then I looked at the nettle tips with buds, still tender, and remembered our friend Sonya who taught me that you could munch them too. (No, I didn't get stung:)) Little moments of wildcrafting food or medecine, and recognizing what's out there without farming gives good feelings and good memories. I always feel moments of thankfulness and gratitude right then...
4-star review on this simple recipe~~~

Watercress Guacamole//Bon Appétit | December 2009 //by Selma Brown Morrow //yield: 8 servings
Ingredients: 3 large avocados, halved, pitted, peeled//2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 cup chopped fresh watercress tops//Coarse kosher salt

Preparation: Cube avocados into medium bowl of cold water; drain well. Place in large bowl. Add lime juice and mash coarsely. Mix in watercress; season to taste with coarse salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and chill. ~~~shannon

photo by Shannon Gilbert
Albert from Pine Stump Farms unloads hay for mulching at 8th Street Greens while Eisa looks on with admiration from a safe distance.

Shannon planted blackberry "tissue cultures" and keeps them warm and protected from weeds in a nest of hay mulch.

Vetch grows freely at 8th Street Greens. Vetch (the purple plant) is a often used as a cover crop, as it fixes nitrogen and other nutrients into the soil.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Week 4: A tour of Crown S Ranch

Here we are with our 4th CSA box, already! This week's boxes have:

photo by Painted Sky Warrior
Salad from 8th Street Greens, bok choy leaves (washed 3 times) from Yonder Farm and 8th Street, radishes from Yonder, and marjoram from Michael Pilarski. The chive flowers in the salad are also from Michael. Yes, they are edible!

There is an avocado soup recipe I've posted on the blog site. It's ingredients are nicely seasonal (except the nuts)... scallions, marjoram, radishes and chive blossoms, all of which are in this week's CSA box. Lots of other seasonal herbs too, if you have them.

Avocado Soup
yield: 3 1/2 Cups

Avocado pureed with buttermilk (low-fat) and yogurt (with the cream on top) yields a pale green soup laced with masses of minced herbs and textures.
Ingredients: 2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1 cup yogurt, preferably whole-milk
1 large avocado, peeled and pitted
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 large garlic clove
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 slender scallions, white parts plus a bit of the green, finely minced
2 tablespoons chopped dill
1 tablespoon snipped chives
1 tablespoon minced marjoram or oregano
1 tablespoon minced tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1/2 jalapeño chile, seeded and chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon sweetener, such as agave syrup, to taste

To Finish:
Finely sliced chives and chive blossoms
Thinly slivered radishes
Dill, mint, and cilantro sprigs
1/3 cup shelled pistachios or walnuts

1. Puree the buttermilk, yogurt, avocado, and a quarter of the peeled cucumber in a blender until smooth, then pour it into a bowl.

2. Mash the garlic with 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir it into the puree along with the scallions, herbs, chile, and lime zest. Season to taste with salt, pepper, lime juice, and sweetener, if needed. Seed and finely dice the remaining cucumber and add to the soup. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled. Just before serving, taste and correct the seasonings.

3. Ladle the soup into bowls, then cover the surface with the chives, radishes, herb sprigs, and pistachios

Following is a radish recipe, but you've received just one bunch.

Yield: Makes 4 side-dish servings
Active time: 15 minutes //total time: 35 minutes
Brief high-heat roasting mellows a radish's peppery flavor and turns it into a whole new root vegetable.

Ingredients: 2 bunches medium radishes (such as red, pink, and purple; about 20)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Preparation: Preheat oven to 450°F. Brush large heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Cut off all but 1/2 inch of green radish tops; reserve trimmed tops and rinse them well, checking for grit. Coarsely chop radish tops and set aside. Cut radishes lengthwise in half and place in medium bowl. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and toss thoroughly to coat. Place radishes, cut side down, on prepared baking sheet; sprinkle lightly with coarse salt. Roast until radishes are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes. Season to taste with more coarse kosher salt, if desired.
Medium-high heat: Add pinch of coarse kosher salt to skillet and cook until butter browns, swirling skillet frequently to keep butter solids from burning, about 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in fresh lemon juice.

Transfer roasted radishes to warmed shallow serving bowl and drizzle brown butter over. Sprinkle with chopped radish tops and serve.

photo by Shannon Gilbert
Iris watches a variety of sheep graze in the rain at Crown S Ranch.

Our family visited Crown S Ranch this Sunday. We did an informative and fun tour in a torrential downpour. Super fun! They tour folks on Saturdays at 2:00 throughout the season. They've done awesome things with solar powered rolling chicken coops, crop-rotating meat animals, and food processing. They've got a good example of a closed-loop, full-circle, healthy animal/land, actually sustainable family farm. Best to them and their projects! 

photo by Shannon Gilbert
Eisa and Iris check out one of the solar powered rolling chicken coops at Crown S Ranch.

photo by Shannon Gilbert
Jennifer Sukovaty-Argraves runs Crown S Ranch with her husband, Louis. Her energy isn't dampened by the rain as she gives a tour of their sustainable family farm.

Ed Welch from Sunny Pine farm was there, too. Our kids love sampling the “cream cheese” (goat chevre). That is probably what the cheese shares are getting in the box this week. Their cheese is so yummy, a couple weeks ago was the first time we tried the honey lavender, “mmm,” Iris likes it a lot. We were at Twisp Farmers Market Saturday and happened to meet an 8th Street 2nd year CSA shareholder. It's so funny that several of us are involved without knowing faces, another reason for the blog. That way you can see our fun and beautiful pictures!

Best to you and yours! ~~Shannon