Monday, July 29, 2013

Week 5: Something Else

Remember the week two post? I said the weather was getting "normal"? Apparently I jinxed things because since then we have seen a spike of 91 degrees (the recorded high on the 18th of July) and a low of 41, which was recorded sometime this very morning.

Of course, today turned out to be beautiful. I am not going to mention what tomorrow might bring for fear of throwing things out of whack.

I will say that the extreme swings have been a challenge for the garden. The heat slowed down the cold weather crops (like the favas, which are recovering - slowly) then the cold came in and stalled the warm weather lovers.

As a result, the first round of very promising fava flowers came and went with no beans to follow, and the cucumber plants have been covered with these for almost a week and a half now:

Cute, but not ready to pick. 

So, the week 5 share will not include favas or cucumbers.

It will include: Frisee Endive, Kale, Snow Peas, Basil, Gilfeather Turnips (which are actually a rutabaga), Scallions, Parsley or Sorrel, Fresh herbs or Edible Flowers, and Something Else.

The share or two during the transition season - as we shift between the spring greens and the summer fruiting vegetables - are always the hardest to balance, but this year has reached a whole new level. So, we have "Something Else" in the shares this week. We have a little bit of a few warmer season things (beets, carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, etc) but not enough of any one of them to put in all of the shares, so one of the items will be a surprise this week.

Or, maybe, Surprise!
The gilfeather turnips, which are in fact especially delicious rutabaga, are making their first appearance at Wintergreen Farm this year. They are a Slow Food Ark of Taste variety and, now that I have tasted them, I think they are worth the acclaim. We've actually been eating, and enjoying, them raw right in the field. They are also fantastic cooked. If you need some rutabaga recipe ideas, click here. The greens are like tender kale, the roots will store best if you cut them off, but we'll leave them on for you. Please eat them!!

I would wager that you'd all like another endive recipe idea (or two). Try pasta salad, if you haven't yet. Cut up a head of endive and toss it into your favorite pasta salad recipe. It's seriously good.

So is this.
Frisee with Cherries and Feta

We were all raised on flavorless lettuce, so I know it can be really hard to figure out how to eat assertive salad greens. The key is to pair them with other assertive flavors, as in this salad recipe.
  • 1 head frisee endive
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • salt, pepper, and herbs to taste
  • about 8 ounces fresh cherries
  • about 2 ounces crumbled feta
Chop the endive into bite sized pieces, if you aren't sure how to go about that, click here. Though don't leave quite as much core behind as the woman in the video does, the white bits at the bottom are the sweetest part.

Whisk together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, add salt and pepper to taste. You can leave the dressing at that or add a teaspoon or so of herbs. I used tarragon. Thyme would be good.

Pour the dressing over the endive, and toss to coat. Cover and place the endive in the refrigerator. At this point you are going to allow the dressed endive to rest for 15 minutes or so. The rest mellows the bitterness and evens out the flavor of the salad.

While the endive rests, pit and halve the cherries. Toss the cherries and the crumbled feta with the frisee just before serving.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Week 4: Snow Peas and Green Lace (wings)

It's snow pea season!

The snow peas are coming on strong. Everyone can expect a
generous quantity of them this week and, if the weather
cooperates, the next two or three weeks to come.

It's also green lacewing season.

These are green lacewing eggs, next to our front doorknob. I have no idea why
a mama green lacewing would decide to lay eggs here, but I think it's awesome.

Normally green lacewings lay their eggs on plants, especially those likely to become infested with aphids, because aphids are what their nymphs - which are sometimes referred to as aphid lions - like to eat. There are green lacewing eggs all over the place this year. I saw a gazillion of them on the snow peas during harvest. I only saw one aphid though. Last year was a really bad aphid year, and this year we are seeing somewhat fewer than average. In the insect balance of the vegetable farm universe, lots of aphids last year means a big year for green lacewings this year, though many of the nymphs that hatch from these eggs won't make it to maturity for lack of prey. Especially the ones on my front door. Next year the green lacewing population will likely be back to normal. 

Just thought I'd mention them. Now you'll know what they are if you happen to get some green lacewing eggs along with your share this season.

In addition to green lacewing eggs and snow peas, members can expect to receive: Braising Mix, Endive, Kale, Basil, Scallions, and Parsley or Sorrel.

Some of you may have noticed the article about grain salads that I linked to on the facebook page the other day. It encourages a lot of improvising in the kitchen, which I know not everyone is comfortable with. So, I came up with a grain salad that uses share items and stuff I had on hand in my kitchen. If bulgar isn't something that you tend to have on hand, you should. It's handy.

Bulgar Salad with Snow Peas and More

As with the example in the article I mentioned above, this recipe is meant to be experimented with. You can follow it exactly or change it as much as your comfort level allows. Consider soaking the bulgar well ahead of time. We keep a jar of soaked bulgar in the fridge (when we remember to) for spur of the moment salads. This quantity would make a light lunch for two or a side dish for four. Feel free to multiply it.
  • 1 cup soaked bulgar (a generous 1/2 cup dried bulgar, soaked for at least an hour)
  • 2 oz (a large handful) snow peas, stems removed and chopped.
  • 1 or 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1 kale leaf, sliced into narrow ribbons
  • 2 or 3 sprigs of parsley, minced
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, I used raw but roasted would work too, chopped roughly
  • 1 small apple, chopped and sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar 
  • salt and pepper to taste
Stir together the bulgar and chopped vegetables, apple, and nuts. 

Use a fork to whisk the oil and vinegar together, add salt and pepper to taste. Stir the dressing onto the salad until everything is well coated with dressing. Eat immediately or refrigerate for up to 24 hours to allow the flavors to meld.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Week 3: The Greens are Still Coming

It's still pretty much greens season at Wintergreen Farm. And this week we have a new one for the members.

Frisee Endive

Frisee is a frilly, slightly bitter salad green. It is used in many traditional french salads, especially Frisee aux Lardons, a simple salad with frisee, bacon, and poached egg. This week we are going to include it in a salad mix with spicy red giant mustard and colorful merlot lettuce. If you would like some more ideas for salads with frisee, click here.

Along with salad mix, members will receive Braising Mix, Beets or Hakurei, Kohlrabi, Head Lettuce, Spring Onions, Herbs or Edible Flowers, and Basil. The basil, which will be a choice of Thai basil or sweet basil, will be in the form of basil tops. This time of year we pinch off the large top leaves of our basil plants...

Like these leaves on this Thai basil plant
With the top leaves plucked, the side leaves
will grow better, which means bushier plants and
more basil for you later this season.

The Thai basil is a little further along than the sweet basil at this point, which means some of you might get Thai when you were hoping for sweet. If you end up coming home with a handful of Thai basil tops, I suggest adding them to a stir fry, slicing them and sprinkling them on a kohlrabi salad, or trying this sesame noodle recipe I posted at basil top time last year.

We are also making a slight change to the braising mix this week. Along with the dandelion and various Asian mustard greens you have been receiving, this week you'll see baby rainbow chard, which should pretty up the mix nicely. 

See the chard? It's the pretty one to the left of the frisee.

This week's recipe features the braising mix. Usually I go for lightly cooked greens recipes, but this one calls for an hour of simmering. It is based (very loosely) on a traditional Kashmiri recipe called Haak from Madhur Jaffrey's World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking. Haak is normally made with collard greens. It is also usually made with mustard oil, which is hard to find in the US because the FDA thinks it is unhealthy, and lots of fresh and dried chilies, which I skip because my three year old is a lightweight when it comes to spicy stuff. 

I did use the traditional asafetida, which I picked up at World Foods in Houghton some time ago. My guess is most of you don't happen to have a jar of that on hand. If not, still make the dish. There really isn't a substitute, asafetida is dried resin from the root of a plant in the carrot family. It is very stinky. The best way I can describe it is that it stinks of food. I suggest a few cloves of garlic in place of it. It won't taste the same, but the garlic will fill the hole that the missing asafetida creates. 

Also, this is meant to be served over rice. Somehow, I was out of rice. Bulgar worked nicely.

Sort of like Haak
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon asafetida (or garlic)
  • 2 spring onions, white and green portions, sliced
  • 1/2 - 3/4 lbs cooking greens (for reference, you receive 3/4 lbs braising mix in your shares) chopped into bite sized pieces.
  • 1/2 salt, or more to taste
  • 1 cup water
Heat the oil over medium heat in a 4 cup saucepan with a lid. Stir in the asafetida or garlic and let it cook for about five seconds. 

Add the greens and onions, cover the pot and let the greens cook to wilt for about a minute. Open and stir the greens to mix them with the oil. Add salt and water, there should be just enough water to cover the greens. Bring the water to a boil, cover, and simmer for a half an hour. 

Check the greens at this point, if there is a lot of liquid left in the pan remove the lid and continue simmering for approximately half an hour more, or until the greens are tender. If there is a small amount of liquid (around a half cup) continue simmering with the lid on. Serve over rice, or bulgar if you forgot to buy rice.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Harvest Days

I realized recently that I don't share many images from harvest with you.

Spring, when we are prepping and planting in the fields and maintaining the greenhouse, is relatively leisurely. When something catches my eye I can run and get the camera. But summer, when we're harvesting, is a different story.

Harvest days are long, busy, and a little exhausting. There is a deadline, and a desire to fit in some sleep before it's time to go to the market/CSA distribution. So I don't usually take a lot of pictures.

However, I decided to change that. So I lugged my camera around with me on harvest days these last two weeks. Here are the results.

Scott among the braising mix greens.

Washing and mixing braising mix in the washing station. We also have two
laundry sinks and a variety of "trugs". Some are made from pickle barrels :)

My new industrial salad spinner! So much better than a
five gallon bucket with holes drilled in it.

Last Tuesday's misty morning was perfect lettuce harvesting weather.

Also perfect for this.

This time of year the beets come from the (very weedy) hoophouse,
so we harvest it early, before the sun gets too high.

We soak everything to cool it and get most of the dirt off. Damp sheets protect
produce from the sun (when I don't take it off to take a picture).

After soaking, the beets look like this.

Early kohlrabi comes from the hoophouse too, though we started to
harvest the field kohlrabi today.

Hoophouse carrots, funny looking - but delicious.

I noticed this going on at the washing station the other day.

It's a family affair. Though sometimes Seda harvests things
a little differently than Scott and I do. (Lake Linden members
may notice a few extra tiny leaves in their kale bunches
 this week...)

We haul vegetables around with the tractor.

I like a ride now and then too.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Week 2: Hakurei

I really like to say hakurei.

I also like to eat hakurei.

Hakurei, sometimes called salad turnips, are small Japanese turnips. They are very mild and a bit fruity tasting. More like delicious radishes than turnips. They are also in this week's share. Eat the greens and the roots raw in salad or lightly cooked (check out the hakurei board for a few recipe ideas).

Along with the hakurei, members will receive: Kale, Braising Mix, Kohlrabi, Head Lettuce, Spring Onions, Beets or Carrots, and Parsley or Sorrel. 

We are finally starting to relax a little this season. Weather is settling into "normal" after the challenging (to put it mildly) spring and things are moving forward. The rain keeps chasing us out of the fields, making the soil too wet to plant into, so we still have a few odds and ends to make their way into the ground. 

Scott finally decided today to plant the watermelon starts in the hoophouse, where we just harvested (and will be harvesting tomorrow) the early kohlrabi. Mostly that leaves the gourds to go in somewhere, and I'm pretty sure that I am the only person who will feel true sadness if we don't get a good gourd harvest this year ;)

Things are looking good. There's watermelon growing in that
hoophouse over yonder.
There is more kohlrabi coming this week, and my guess is that more than a few of you still have your kohlrabi from last week - and are wondering what to do with them. Tender spring kohlrabi make a wonderful salad, and pair well with sour sorrel (another item many members ask about). Which is why I came up with this recipe.

Kohlrabi Salad

 The hakurei would be a lovely addition to this salad as well, and you can use parsley instead of sorrel for a different flavor.
  • 2 small to medium kohlrabi, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 5-6 kohlrabi leaves (go for the small, tender ones) sliced into narrow ribbons
  • 10 - 12 sorrel leaves, sliced into narrow ribbons
  • 1 apple, sliced thinly
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

Chop the kohlrabi and apple slices into bite sized pieces. Combine the kohlrabi, greens, and apple in a bowl that is large enough to toss the ingredients. 

Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and honey. Add salt and pepper to taste to the dressing. Drizzle the dressing over the salad or serve it on the side.

Monday, July 1, 2013

2013: Go!

We are finally ready and set to go for CSA harvest this season, and the first share has shaped up nicely. It's early season favorites with a few new twists.

Before I forget, for those of you that are Pinterest users (pinners? pintys?), Wintergreen Farm is now on Pinterest. I'll pin recipes from this blog (and countless others of course) onto boards categorized by veggie. I'm just getting started with it, so please be patient. I think right now I have about 20 pins, but I'll add as I can. Hopefully it will help everyone use up the shares!

The first share will include: Beets, Kohlrabi, French Breakfast Radishes, Braising Mix, Salad Mix, Spring Onions, Parsley or Sorrel, and a choice of oregano, mint, or lemon balm.

Returning members are all familiar with these items, so I'll start with the new items to keep everyone interested ;)

First, this year's braising mix has a few additions. Along with the Asian greens (like mizuna, senposai, yokatta na, and more) you will see dandelion greens and orach.

Technically these are not dandelions, they are an
Italian chicory. They are definitely bitter, though not
as bitter as wild dandelions. The midribs are a touch sweet.

This is what they look like to ground beetles and ants.
I'm pretty into the dandelions :)

And this is orach. It ranges from purple to pale green and
it tastes like a cross between spinach and chard, which
are both relatives. If it looks familiar, that's because it
is essentially cultivated lamb's quarters.
For those of you new to braising mix, it's just what it sounds like, a mix of greens meant for cooking. If you check out the Pinterest link, the board called braising mix (not exactly a secret code, is it?) has a handful of ideas for you. You can use your braising mix in any recipe that calls for spinach or kale. It's also awesome in smoothies.

The salad mix also has a new item, though it is a one time addition. Along with the standard spicy mix of mustard and arugula, the salad mix will have spinach and mache (also called corn salad). Mache only grows in cool weather, so we may see it again if weather permits this fall, but we won't see it for the rest of July and August.

Little lovely mache.
We're also trying out a new kind of mustard. It tastes similar to our standard mustard green variety, Red Giant, but it's so much cuter. You'll see both of them in the salad mix this year.

Standard Red Giant mustard in the foreground. Adorable Scarlet Frills in the back.

Those of you that are new members may also be new to kohlrabi and sorrel. Again, they each have their own board on pinterest, if you're into that sort of thing.

Kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family. The part you eat is a swollen stem (the leaves are tasty too - like slightly tender kale) that tastes much like broccoli stems. It can be cooked or eaten raw, but either way it should be peeled first - the peel is very tough.

If you've never seen kohlrabi growing, it's kind of
hard to imagine. This is what it looks like in the field.
The other day we grilled some sliced kohlrabi after seasoning it with a bit of lemon
juice and salt. We left them on for about half the time it took
to cook the pork. Very yum.

Sorrel is a tart green that can be eaten cooked or raw. If you want to go with raw, the easiest thing to do is just slice it up and add it to salad. It's also nice in smoothies. It goes particularly well with apples. Cooked, it turns a little greyish and very soft, almost like a thick sauce. It's good with eggs and dairy. We like it as an omelet filling, especially with goat cheese.

Sorrel in the field

Of course, the share has many self explanatory vegetables as well. I'm choosing to highlight a few of those for this week's recipe.

Omelet with Beets and Scallions

A couple days ago Scott walked into the kitchen with two freshly harvested beets and asked me to make a beet omelet. To be honest, I thought it sounded like a kind of icky idea, but it turned out great. This quantity was just right for lunch for the three of us.
  • Butter, about a half tablespoon
  • Two small/medium beets (slightly larger than golf ball size) with greens
  • 2-3 spring onions, sliced (both green and white portions)
  • 8 large eggs, beaten
  • about 1/3 cup grated cheese (I used colby jack)
Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium/low heat. Slice the beets (we NEVER peel beets - it's a hassle and you lose nutritional value) into rounds just under a quarter inch thick, then chop them roughly. Chop 4 - 6 of the leaves as well and set them aside.

When the butter is melted, add the chopped beets and onions (but not the beet greens) to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beets are just tender. Spread the beets and onions evenly in the bottom of the pan and pour the eggs over them.

Cook, lifting the edges to allow raw egg to run underneath as needed, until the eggs are almost entirely set. When just a thin layer of uncooked egg remains on the surface of the omelet, mound the chopped beet greens and shredded cheese in the center of the eggs.

Like this
Then attempt to fold the omelet in half without breaking the whole thing into several large chunks (perhaps you are better at this than I am). Flip if needed to cook the remaining egg, then turn it out onto a plate.