Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Week 12: First tomatoes of the season!

This week's box:  1 med or 2 small fennel bulb, 2 fresh garlic bulbs and a little bag of basil or cilantro – all from 8th Street.  The beet bunch, slicing tomato and walla walla onion is all from Yonder Farm.  The PF Flyer peaches, an early variety and the first of J.C.'s peach crop, are all from Filaree Fruit.  Normally the Okanogan is well into peach harvest by now, but judging by how packed Omak Lake was yesterday, we just finally got a heat wave. Although, now it's thunder and pouring out. . .!  Fruit Option:  a pint (2 shells) of blueberries from Bunny Laine – those big, fat sweet berries have been so refreshing. After being in the sun for several hours, I sit for paperwork and shove handfuls into my mouth, then get full fruit belly, don't need any other food for a while, and praise the beauty of blueberries!  A pint of strawberries from 8th Street, and 2 lbs. of peaches from Filaree Fruit.

Chris Deveraux polishes a perfect slicing tomato at Yonder Farm.

A new (old style) wheel hoe rests outside one of four greenhouses full of ripening tomatoes at Yonder Farm. 

A moment we've been waiting for. . .   fennel bulb! ! !  Hah!  It's actually been a nice fennel bulb season, with less heat and more time to absorb water.  Fennel is usually a fall crop, like Chinese Cabbage, but we grow them in the spring around here.  By this time of year, it's typically been harvested because of bolting.  It still hasn't grown like I see in the stores, but it sure tastes good.  My kids love its sweet, refreshing, licorice flavor!

Fennel bulbs!

Carrot, Fennel, and Orange Soup

Gourmet  April 1996    
 yield: Makes about 8 cups

1 med.  fennel bulb, stalks trimmed flush with bulb, bulb sliced thin crosswise
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds carrots, sliced thin (about 4 cups)
1 garlic clove, sliced thin
6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup sour cream
Garnish: 1 tablespoon fresh chervil leaves or fennel fronds

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook fennel bulb in butter over moderate heat, stirring, until softened and beginning to turn golden. Add carrots and garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add water and salt and simmer, covered, 20 minutes, or until carrots are very tender.

In a blender purée mixture in batches with orange juice, sour cream, and salt and pepper to taste until smooth, transferring to another heavy saucepan. Heat soup, stirring, just until heated through (do not let boil).

Serve soup garnished with chervil leaves or fennel fronds.

(Scroll down for Chicken and Fennel Salad Sandwich)

Chris Deveraux cheerfully cleans Walla Walla onions on Yonder Farm.

Fresh Walla Walla onions from Yonder Farm.

We're finally getting caught up with the weeds here at 8th Street Greens.  Thanks to all the weeding crew for their stamina and willingness to get it done!  I liked the little boombox blasting classics out in the field.  A fun change contrasting the modern-era of ipods.  I quit farming for 3 years, and upon re-entering the farm-worker world, discovered that ipods had become the norm!  There's a new view when observing helper friends out in the paths between crop beds:  wires hanging out their ears, ipod on hip or in pocket, and little conversation.  It took some adjustment for me, I confess, and I must talk louder when orchestrating, and then next time, they have just one wire hanging out one ear. 

It's a brave new world but we still got fennel bulb!  And worker-friends we appreciate!  

Thanks everybody!   ~~shannon

Tomato vines climb towards the trellised sky in a Yonder Farm greenhouse. 

Chicken and Fennel Salad Sandwiches
Gourmet  June 2006          
by Maggie Ruggiero
yield: Makes 12 servings          active time: 45 min           total time: 2 3/4 hr

Ingredients:  For the chickens:
3 whole chickens
4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened

For the dressing and sandwiches:
1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted and cooled, then lightly crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chopped fresh basil
3cups chopped fennel bulb (sometimes called anise; from 2 to 3 medium bulbs, stalks discarded)
12 rolls or buns

Preparation:  Roast chickens:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.

Rinse chickens inside and out and pat dry. Stir together salt and pepper, then sprinkle over chickens inside and out. Put 1 tablespoon softened butter evenly under skin of each breast, then rub remaining tablespoon butter over skin of each. Arrange chickens in a 17- by 12-inch shallow heavy baking pan and roast, switching position of chickens and rotating pan halfway through roasting to help cook evenly, until thermometer inserted into fleshy part of each thigh (do not touch bone) registers 170°F, about 1 hour. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Discard skin and bones from chickens, then coarsely shred meat and transfer to a large bowl.

Make dressing and assemble sandwiches:
Stir together mayonnaise, yogurt, zest, lemon juice, fennel seeds, salt, pepper, and basil, then pour over chicken in bowl. Add chopped fennel and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve chicken salad in rolls or your favorite bread.

Cooks' note:
Chicken salad, without basil, can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Stir in basil before serving.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Week 11: The Okanogan Bakery

Thomas and Joelle load up the Okanogan Bakery bicycle with fresh loaves of bread.

Hello everybody! Here we are with our 11th box, almost half way through the CSA season! I just rototilled more old greens into the soil, prepping for a few more successions of salad plantings. The bees and beneficial insects love the nectar of the mustards and bok choys. I consider the bolted/flowering food crops as an insectary, attracting the beneficials. It feels good to clean up the fields and to break down the tall plants which allows the sprinklers to reach the other plants rather than them being blocked, but it's also sad to see happy bees getting food in the bright beautiful flowers and then my monster tractor comes along, trampling it all away. But there are succession plots of bolted greens going into flower, and the insects will find them!

Fresh loaves of bread from the Okanogan Bakery sit cooling on a rack.

Joelle adds eggs to her chocolate chip cookie dough.

Full share box (photo by Shannon Gilbert)
Half share box (photo by Shannon Gilbert
This week's box has red cabbage (~2 lb heads), the last of the sugar snap peas, and fresh carrots – all from Yonder Farm. The salad and mini bundles of dill are from 8th Street Greens. The Tomcot Apricots are an early variety from Leaping Sheep Farm, certified organic. They are small and may need to ripen on your counter. I only got you a ½ lb each of apricots because the cabbage turned out to be big, not small as expected, and I think we will have apricots twice this year, not just once as in the past. More apricots are ripening in the orchards, they are about a week or two slower than usual. The fruit shares get apricots, Rainier cherries (cert. OG from Bartella's Orchard) and some blueberries. How about that Maple Leaf wrapped cheese from Larkaven last week? Yum! And the Ciabatta bread from Okanogan Bakery? I don't know what we'll get until they give it to me, so I don't write about it in the newsletter ahead of time. Joelle at the Bakery said that Ciabatta bread is good for dipping, I thought it would be good with hummus, greens, olives and slices of fresh garlic. Should I put fresh garlic in the boxes next week? I'm so sorry you didn't all get new potatoes in your boxes last week. I was really disappointed but couldn't fix the problem. . . so, oh well. You got extra cherries instead!

Apricots, blueberries, and cherries! (photo by Shannon Gilbert)

This week you get the Okanogan Multigrain loaf in your CSA box.

Peppercorn, Mustard and Dill Vinegar
Bon Appétit 
December 1997 
yield: Makes about 3 ½ C.

Typical Danish ingredients are featured in this easy-to-make condiment; it would be wonderful incorporated into a vinaigrette for cold poached salmon.

Ingredients: 3 cups white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon whole allspice
1 tablespoon white peppercorns
1 teaspoon dill seeds
3 bay leaves
2 lemon slices, halved
1 medium bunch fresh dill sprigs

Preparation: Place first 5 ingredients in 1-quart jar. Add bay leaves, lemon slices and dill sprigs. Place lid on jar; seal. Store in cool dry place at least 1 and up to 6 weeks.

This infused vinegar sounds really good to me, and versatile. Speaking of vinegar, I have 3 boxes of scapes that would like to be pickled. I also have garlic, dill and grape leaves. Would one of you like to can them? I would trade you the ingredients in exchange for 1/3 of the jars. We love pickled scapes, in a simple salt brine (not pickling spice). Our 3 year old daughter Iris eats them up! Maybe one of you would like to buy a box of scapes to pickle for yourself?!!! Hoping you're all doing well. . . Shannon

Joelle shows off her amazing muscles (!) that she earned from stirring dough and kneading bread.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Week 10: Shannon the Grocer

This week's box: broccoli!!! and golden beets from Yonder Farm, red or yellow new potatoes and arugula from 8th Street Greens and Lapin Cherries from River Valley Organics. The fruit shares get extra cherries, a pint of blueberries and some raspberries. Last week the cheese shares enjoyed Feta (I love it!) from Sunny Pine Farm and get an aged cheese from Larkhaven Farmstead Cheeses this week. The Rye Currant bread from Okanogan Bakery was soooo delicious last week! I wonder what the bread shares will get this week?!!

Shannon leaves notes to members of the CSA on the cooler, letting them know about extra local produce.

Thank You to the CSA members who are taking advantage of me easily ordering extra food for you and delivering it with your box. It's no problem and I like giving the extra support to the orchardists, row-croppers and berry farmers. Also, it helps them better appreciate me as a “grocer.” The sugar snap peas are only in season another week or two. Order extra now. I'm hoping to put them in your boxes again next week. My family loves eating sugar snap peas from the freezer, throughout the winter. The frozen peas break from out of the freezer bags easily. We dump them, having already been chopped accordingly, into soups or stir-fries. Sometimes we sautee them separately, then have rice, corn and peas on the plate with hamburger. A tasty, kid-friendly meal.

Sugar snap peas are the perfect snack for a hot, summer day. Cool, juicy, and crunchy!

Arugula has 52 pages of recipes on (a free website of recipes). So, have at it! :) I'm hungry at the moment which is probably why I'm mentioning hamburger and steak in this newsletter. . .

Steak with Parmesan Butter, Balsamic Glaze, and Arugula
Bon Appétit | October 2008
4 star review, Makes 2 servings
Active time: 20 minutes, total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese plus Parmesan cheese shavings
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, room temperature; 1 12-ounce rib-eye steak; 1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar; 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots; 1/2 teaspoon (packed) dark brown sugar
4 cups (lightly packed) arugula; 2 large lemon wedges

Preparation: Mix grated cheese and butter in small bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper; set aside. Sprinkle steak generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add steak; cook to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to plate. Add vinegar, shallots, and sugar to skillet; boil until reduced to glaze, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Divide arugula and Parmesan shavings between 2 plates. Squeeze lemon over. Slice steak; place atop arugula. Top steak with Parmesan butter. Drizzle lightly with glaze.

Another succession of salad greens has just been planted at 8th Street Greens. Shannon plants multiple successions throughout the growing year to keep your greens fresh and tender.

Baby fennel glistens in the early morning sun.

Isn't the garden beautiful in the early hours? Thai Basil soaks up the sun so it will grow big and someday you will see this basil in your CSA box!

Creamed New Potatoes and Peas
from The St. Paul Farmers Market Produce Cookbook
(a gift from a 2010 and 2011 CSA Member, Thank-You)

2 Cups whole small new potatoes, unpeeled; 2 cups sugar snap or shelled fresh peas
Cream sauce: 5 TB butter; 5 TB all-purpose flour; 2 ½ Cup milk, warm; 1 ½ tsp. Salt; black pepper

Boil potatoes in water until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain. Steam peas until tender, about 5 minutes. Make white sauce. In a med. saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook over low-med heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add warm milk, all at once, and bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat and stir until sauce thickens. Stir in salt. Pour over the mixed potatoes and peas. 6 servings.

Best ~~Shannon

Portait of a family's farm: a canoe sits in front of the hut that will be used for hanging garlic.

8th Street Greens cultivates quite a few varieties of garlic. This one is Chesnok Red, and it will be hung up in the shaded hut (above) to be dried and cured and put in your CSA box.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Week 9: Blueberries and Sugar Snap Peas

(photo by Shannon Gilbert)

This week's box has some original salad, light green cabbage, and blueberries! There's also basil and . . . . . . sugar snap peas! From Yonder Farm. The fruit shares have strawberries and some cherries, a pint of blueberries and a ½ pint of raspberries. Dave, of Bunny Laine, says the berries all came on later and quickly but seem to be finishing quickly, too. So, if anyone wants blueberries or raspberries, look them up in the ag guide (the new 2011 printing is enclosed) or call me and I can deliver the flats with your CSA box. Next week, Lapin cherries from Tonasket, approximately $65./box (20 lbs.) They keep well in a fridge for about 3 weeks. You're welcome to just order an extra 5, 10, or 15 lbs quantity.
If any of you miss your Chinese Cabbage, give me a call. I can put that in your box next week, too. We love Kim Chi!!!

Blueberries and Sugar Snap Peas! Must be summer! (photo by Shannon Gilbert)
It's 7pm on Independence Day. We just got back from the Methow Arts Festival at the Twisp Park. Good times for children and big folks alike. We made head bands adorned with snails and dragonflies, sparkles and ribbons. We made wooden boats from a wonderfully thought out kit, the yellow cedar hull smells so good when soaked with water, and copper wire bubble wands with shiny beads. It's good to get away from the farm jobsite and do somethin' for the kiddos.
Just checked on the garlic patch. Decided to water overnight. The garlics seem to want to mature some more, get more shoulder to them. The first ones will be harvested in the next week or two. There's folks all over the county right now, checking on their garlic patches. Good luck to us all. . . we need to create some drying/curing space. Gotta stay on the ball, yah, yah.

~~~Recipes found at

yield: Makes 12 servings///active time: 45 min ///total time: 2 3/4 hr
Ingredients2 1/2 pounds green cabbage (your cabbages are 1.5-2 lbs), quartered, cored, and thinly sliced (14 cups)
3/4 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed and thinly sliced diagonally (4 cups)
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill (hope to put dill in your box next week, with a red cabbage)
2 garlic cloves, minced (or scapes)
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar

Preparation: Toss together cabbage and peas in a large bowl. Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over slaw, stirring to combine well. Add salt to taste, then chill, covered, at least 2 hours.
Cooks' note: Slaw can be chilled, covered, up to 1 day.

Creamy Basil Dressing
Gourmet | September 2002 ///yield: Makes about 1/2 cup

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped shallot (or onion); 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar; 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper; 2 tablespoons mayonnaise; 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil;

Preparation: Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Week 8: Weeds, Glorious Weeds!

Photo by Shannon Gilbert

Weeds glorious weeds!  We are up to our knees in weeds!  Or, if a baby lettuce (below), we are in over our heads!  Weeding extravaganza this Tuesday. . . anyone wanna join us? :)

Photo by Shannon Gilbert

8th Street Greens
846 8th Ave S.///Okanogan, WA 98840

Hello! So, there's our address in the header, so you can mail 2nd payments that are due.
Last Thursday early a.m., Dave from Bunny Laine called, “hey i've got a bunch of raspberries picked, do you want'em for your boxes?” “Holy cow,” I thought, but then remembered your credit from the sparse box on June 16th, and the extra fruit share's boxes being sparse as written in last week's news, so then I said, “yah, sure!” Yummy raspberries... Glad to be eating them! Made some pound cake for the fruit, whipped up cream, attended some socials this past weekend:

Shannon enjoys her homemade pound cake topped with 8th Street Greens' strawberries.

The Fannie Farmer Baking Book:
Simple Pound Cake keeps well, dense, serve it with fresh fruit (berries or peaches in season), ice cream or sauce. 5 eggs; 2 c. All purpose flour; ½ tsp salt; 2 sticks butter softened; 1 2/3 c. Sugar; 2 tsp vanilla /// preheat oven 325 d., grease and flour 9x5x3 loaf pan, place uncracked eggs in bowl & pour hot water over them to warm while prepare rest of ingredients.

Combine flour and salt, set aside. Put butter in large mixing bowl, beat until smooth and creamy. Slowly add sugar, beating constantly, until the mix is well blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Continue beating as you gradually sprinkle in the flour mix. Continue to beat until smooth and well blended.
Pour into pan, smooth top with rubber spatula. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a broom straw or wooden skewer (toothpick? :)) inserted in cake comes out clean. Remove from oven, let cool ~ 5 minutes, turn onto rack to cool completely. Wrap well to store, serve in thin slices.

1/2 share produce box with bread option, this week the bread from Okanogan Bakery is Maple Oat, so soft -n- sweet! (Photo by Shannon Gilbert)
This week's box: strawberries, herb salad blend and a head of Chinese Cabbage –- all from 8th Street. And the Mystery (probably Chelan) Cherries from River Valley Organics (Apple and George Otte's orchard). They are certified organic and oh, so delicious. We will get Lapin cherries from them in a week or two. Order now if you'd like me to get you extra cherries, or a whole box of the Lapins. Not sure of the price yet, but it's definitely not the $8.00/lb that folks pay at the stores in Seattle!

Herbed salad with Strawberry Dressing

1/3 cup strawberries, hulled, halved
1 5-ounce package mixed baby greens with some optional feta and toasted walnuts
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar

Mash enough strawberries to measure 1/3 cup. Whisk oil, vinegar, and sugar in small bowl to blend. Whisk in mashed strawberries. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Add to salad; toss to coat. (Or whip dressing in a blender for a lofty, thick dressing)

Best! ~~Shannon

Shannon grills two flavors of shish kabobs with pork from Larkhaven Farm and beef from Oberg Brothers.

Full Moon Goatling
New on Larkhaven's  list of offerings is their Full Moon Goatling, a camembert-style cheese. This
Is a compelling, creamy and rich cheese with a variable paste. Wheels weigh about a pound. This morning Clare described it as a soft, mold-ripened cheese, not  bouncy like brie, rather soft.  It's aged at least 60 days and is tangy-smooth. She suggests bringing it to room temperature for 1/2 hour then spreading it on bread or crackers and eating it up right away.  Maybe with a little fruit on the side?  Or in a toasted sandwich with fruit?

Please treat your cheese carefully. Particularly with soft cheeses, conditions
should always be very sanitary when cutting and when preparing to re-store.
If the wrapper has stayed out with the cheese for a few hours, replace it.
Sanitize the cutting board and the knife (and your hands!) Before cutting into
the cheese. Immediately refrigerate the part you won’t be using.
With our Full Moon, we recommend having it out about a half-hour before
eating it, but get it back in the ‘fridge when you are done.
A slight ammonia odor when opening a cheese is okay, but if it is strong and
persists, the cheese is past its prime. While not dangerous, it may not be as
enjoyable. Sometimes, the insides still taste great and trimming off or
avoiding the outside layer can do the trick. Generally, if it tastes good, it is
Hard cheeses are hardier, but still need to be treated with respect. They do,
however, hold up to more room-temperature time and the flavor benefits
from it. All of these practices will give you more time to enjoy your cheese.

Clare Paris, of Larkhaven Farmstead Cheeses,  shaves off a slice of one of her handcrafted cheeses for a customer at the Twisp Market. The advice on cheese storage below is from Clare.

MORE ON CHEESE STORAGE, as sent to 8th Street from Larkhaven Farmstead Cheeses
I'd like to share some tips on storing cheese. Stored properly cheese has a remarkable
shelf life. The optimal environment for most cheese is about 50 - 55 degrees Fahrenheit
and a level of humidity that stays constant. For centuries caves, which are usually cool
and have a consistent humidity, have been great environments to age and store cheese.
Caves are still used today, but usually they are man-made structures with a highly
controlled environment.

At home, we unfortunately have a refrigerator to deal with; its 10 - 15 degrees cooler then
a cave and it has a tendency to suck the moisture out of anything that is unprotected. To
protect the cheese you will need an airtight container. The size of the container should be
larger then what is needed; 40% cheese and 60% empty space (air). I use the 64 oz.
disposable plastic container from Glad. It has a flat bottom and can hold a couple of
cheeses leaving enough air so the cheese can breathe. You may have more or less cheese
at home and therefore may want to adjust the size of the container accordingly.
Now we have a "home-made cheese cave". We can adjust the humidity of the air inside
the container by using wet paper towel, crumpled up in a ball and placed in a corner of
the container. The paper towel should not be dripping wet. The object is to introduce
moisture to the air and not to leave the bottom of your container with standing water.
The paper towel should not be touching the cheese; the air should be damp, not the
cheese. Wrap your cheese in wax paper or parchment. It would be a waist of time to put
any cheese in your new cheese cave wrapped in plastic. Store your cheese cave in the
warmest part of your refrigerator, like the vegetable bin.

Check the container once a week. Inspect your cheese and trim or scrape any mold. If
you find the cheese wet or slimy, reduce the amount of moisture in the paper towel. Of
course if you find your cheese dry, add more moisture to the towel.
The best part of having a cheese cave: NO MORE STINKY CHEESE FRIDGE!

NEVER... Freeze your cheese! Please don't do it! Mercy for the beautiful cheeses.
If you do freeze your cheese, plan to use it for cooking only and keep it off any cheese plate.
Use two separate cheese caves -one for dry and the other for blues and wetter cheese.
Use those cool Waxtex wax paper sandwich bags to wrap your cheese in.
Instead of a knife, try using a cheese plane when removing mold. I find there is less waste.