Monday, July 27, 2015

Week Seven: Black Magic

It's kale time.

It took a while, but all those kale transplants we put in after the June rain finally subsided are ready to start harvesting.

Let us know what you think of the new lacinato variety we're trying this year.

It's called black magic.
In addition to kale, members will receive the following in this week's share: Snow Peas, Brokali, Frisee Endive, Napa Cabbage, Kohlrabi, Fennel and a Hoophouse Treat.

The hoophouse is just starting to produce for the season. We were able to harvest enough tomatoes, banana peppers and eggplants for everyone to get their choice of one this week. I know this early harvest is kind of a tease, but I promise there is plenty more to come as the season progresses.

Just the beginning.

If you are apprehensive about getting another fennel in your share, fret no more! I added a few more fennel recipes to our Pinterest board if you need some ideas.

There is also an extensive endive board, should you need some inspiration with that this week.

If you aren't sure what to do with your Brokali, try this recipe:

Chicken and Brokali with Ginger Citrus Sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced orange zest
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar or honey
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into large cubes
  • 1/4 pound brokali (include florets, leaves, and tender stems)
  • 1 banana pepper
  • a large handful of snow peas (there were about 12 peas in my handful)
Combine the ginger, orange zest, orange juice, soy sauce, olive oil, and sugar. Stir well and pour over the cubed chicken. Marinate for half an hour.

In the meantime, chop all of the vegetables into bite sized pieces.

When the chicken is done marinating, heat a large skillet over medium/high heat. Pour in the chicken and all of its marinating liquid.

Cook, over medium/high heat, until the chicken is browned on all sides and the sauce has begun to boil, about five minutes. 

Turn the heat down to medium and continue to cook until the sauce is reduced by about a third and the chicken is completely cooked, 10 to 15 more minutes.

Push the chicken to the side of the pan and pour in the chopped vegetables. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are just heated through and covered with sauce, about two minutes.

Serve with plenty of rice to soak up the sauce.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Week 6: In Between Time

During our field walk this morning Scott and I found baby peas and baby zucchini growing.

I am a sucker for morning sun on the field photos.
The long salad season is drawing to a close for this year and the shares are starting to get just a little bit chunkier. We haven't quite gotten into the summer vegetables yet, but they're close.

This week's share will include: Pea Greens, Fennel, Nappa Cabbage, Kohlrabi, Spring Onions, Fresh Herbs, Brokali OR Collards, and Daikon OR Gold Ball Turnips.

Scott said he did a bit of a survey regarding the pea greens at last week's pick up. The general consensus was that they are good, but a little tough. We have definitely found that they toughen as they sit after harvest--just like fresh peas will, so try to use them up within the first couple days after you get them. We have also noticed that the toughest portion of the greens tends to be the fine tendrils that grow off the tips of the shoots. If you are having trouble with them, perhaps try trimming off the tendrils before you prepare your pea greens.

I've included fennel in this week's slaw recipe, I know it's one of the items we grow that members find especially challenging to use up. If you would like to go in a different direction with your fennel, this recipe for candied fennel and fennel syrup is fantastic. 

Napa Cabbage, the true cabbage rose.

The Napa cabbage we're growing this year is a variety called mini kisaku, and it makes a fairly small head compared to standard varieties of Napa cabbage, which can get fairly gargantuan. Small though they are, the mini kisaku are still substantial. I used one head to make a slaw to serve four adults plus Seda (my parents are visiting!!) and we had leftovers.

They bought her a kite :)

Napa Cabbage Slaw

  • One small head Napa cabbage, washed and chopped into bite sized pieces
  • One small fennel bulb, with feathery fronds included, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 2-3 spring onions, sliced finely
  • One package ramen noodles (discard the seasoning packet) broken up into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
Toss together the chopped Napa cabbage, fennel, onion, and ramen noodle.

Whisk together the oils, vinegar and spices.

Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to coat. 

Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds before serving.

Before it was slaw.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Week 5: Heat Wave

If you somehow didn't notice, it has actually been hot the last few days!

And the crops are loving it.

For example, these lovely potato flowers are thoroughly enjoying
the summer weather.
Though we are still playing catch-up a bit as we finish getting our fall crops in, this is the time of year when we primarily focus on maintaining what we've planted so that it will be at its best come harvest time. It's the time for weeding and trellising and hoping the weather cooperates by giving us a bit of summer heat, mixed with just enough rain, which is what it did this week :)

The hoophouse tomatoes (this photo is from last week,
tomato harvest looms ever closer!) are just one of
the crops that need trellising this time of year.
The transplants are putting on size. We'll be harvesting all your favorites soon.

The lacinato kale was late to get in this year, but
it's well on its way to harvest now.
And we have some new crops to look forward to.

New crops like purple peacock broccoli. 
This week's share is full of a mix of old favorites and new delacies as well. It includes Kohlrabi, Hakurei, Mesclun, Braising Mix, Pea Shoots, Bunching Onions, Fresh Herbs, and Joi Choi OR Nappa Cabbage OR Brokali.

No, brokali is not a typo. It's a broccoli kale cross. Instead of making big heads of broccoli, it makes lots of shoots and tasty kale like leaves. We are actually trialing a few of these sprouting broccoli varieties this year (the purple peacock pictured above is one of them). This first variety, which is called Apollo, is just starting to make its first shoots. We were able to harvest enough for 24 members, the rest of you will get the last of the Joi Choi pac choi and the first of the Nappa cabbage for the season. We're hoping the Apollo will continue to make shoots throughout the season and, along with the other varieties we're trying out, help us get more broccoli into the shares over a longer portion of the season.

This is where I would usually include an original recipe. But this week, I decided not to. If I had come up with an original recipe it would have featured the kohlrabi, because the kohlrabi are very much the stars of the share this week and because they are a vegetable that we tend to get a lot of questions about. However, when pondering what the recipe would look like, I realized I have featured kohlrabi recipes on the blog several times over the years.

The time has come for a best of!

When reviewing the kohlrabi recipes I noticed that I say the following things (that all bear repeating) about kohlrabi every time I post about it:

1. Peel it! Kohlrabi is the only thing we grow that I always peel. The outside is tough and stringy. The inside is tender and sweet. If you eat the peel you will not like it, I promise.

2. Eat it raw with a little salt and lemon juice or honey and lime juice and possibly some cayenne or fresh herbs sprinkled on it. This is kohlrabi at its best. If you feel fancy, season with salt, lemon juice, etc. and grill it for a few minutes.

3. Use the leaves!!!!!! Kohlrabi leaves are better kale than kale is.

And my two favorite kohlrabi recipes are:

Kohlrabi Salad (with apples!) from July 8th 2013


Kohlrabi and Chickpea Salad from June 25th 2012

Both of these are, of course, raw. If raw kohlrabi doesn't do it for you (a possibility I believe exists but honestly cannot imagine) I highly recommend using them in place of the hakurei in last week's curry recipe. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Week 4: Planted

You may recall that two weeks ago we were wringing our hands a bit over the excessive rain we had in June that kept chasing us out of the fields during our normal planting season.

Well, the weather turned (mostly!) and we have been able to get the bulk of our planting done in these last two weeks.

We've put in about three quarters of an acre of beans (both dry and bush) that look like this right now.

We've also planted something in the range of 10,000 transplants.

The plants always look a little meh just after transplant, while
the roots are developing. Then they explode with top growth and
we eat them up :)
So things are looking good now. We'll be finishing up the planting of the fall crops, like our storage carrots and winter radishes, this week, which is right around the same time we got them in last year.

And in the meantime, we've got the first spring planting of carrots to start harvesting! 

This week's share will include: Mesclun, Braising Mix, Pac Choi (the full size Joi Choi again), Spring Onions, Hakurei (beautiful, perfect, free of root maggots!!), Carrots, and Fresh Herbs.

The carrots in this week's share are from our first planting which went in late May, before the June rain hit. They are still on the small side, but definitely ready for munching. It was a big planting so we'll be enjoying them for a while as they size up.

The hakurei are from our second planting. They are so very wonderfully perfect (where do the root maggots go after May we wonder....) that I decided to feature them in this week's recipe.

Hakurei Perfection
Remember to eat those Greens!!!!
If, however, you find that you have eaten all of your Hakurei raw before you make it to the kitchen, this recipe would be excellent with Joi Choi in place of the Hakurei.

Beef and Hakurei in Simple Coconut Curry
  • One top round steak (about 1 to 1.5 lbs of meat), sliced into half inch slices against the grain
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 2 teaspoons high quality Curry Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • Cayenne Pepper to taste (this will depend completely on your fondness for heat and the spiciness of the curry powder you're using)
  • 4 Spring Onions, greens and all, sliced thinly
  • 1 can Coconut Milk
  • 1 bunch Hakurei, turnips cut into 1/2 inch cubes and greens roughly chopped into bite sized pieces 
Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. 

Add the tomato paste, curry powder, salt, cayenne, and sliced spring onions. Stir constantly until very fragrant, about one minute.

Add the sliced top round steak. Stir well to coat the steak with the seasonings. Turn as needed until the meat is browned on all sides, about two minutes.

Add the coconut milk, stirring well. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover and let cook for twenty minutes.

After 20 minutes of simmering, stir in the chopped turnips (but not the greens quite yet) cover and continue simmering for 10 more minutes.

After 10 additional minutes of simmering, stir in the chopped greens. Turn off the heat and stir until the greens are well wilted, which should take no longer than 30 seconds.

Serve over rice or something similar like quinoa. We ate ours over rice noodles.