A 4-H Family Tradition

Sylvia’s champion produce arrangement

When our daughter, Sylvia, was asking about what to bring to the fair, our obvious answer was “vegetables.”  Being that this is the first year she could show and place (she graduated from Cloverbuds), it took us a bit to figure out exactly how to present the veggies for the fair.  We read through this publication Extension put together back in the 70’s – an oldie, but goodie, I guess.  Then, Tuesday morning, we trounced out to the garden to pull in a assortment consisting of a cabbage, peas, cucumbers, beets, swiss chard, and summer squash.  Maree and Sylvia must have a good eye because she was awarded champion at the West Otter Tail County Fair.

One neat thing about the kids now getting into 4-H and the fair is that they are picking up on a long family tradition started with Maree’s great-grandfather, Charles Goetschel.  Settling in Lake Elmo in the 1840’s, Maree’s family operated a diversified dairy operation up until early 2000’s; I always say Maree grew up at the last remaining dairy farm in Lake Elmo, although I really don’t know if that’s true.  Apparently these guys were fierce competition at both the Washington County Fair and the State Fair, especially in field crops.  Maree’s mom passed on this little clipping from the 30’s about her grandpa Wally in his last year of 4-H.  
In the CSA box: 
Napa Cabbage
Bok Choi
Green Beans 
Summer Squash: Yellow and zucchini
Cucumbers
Swiss Chard: Colorful green with a blue band
‘Imperial’ broccoli
Bunch of Cilantro: One with a red band around it.  
Fennel: This one seems to freak people out, but there’s a recipe below
Green Bean and Fennel Salad with Shaved Parmesan 
  1. 1 pound green beans
  2. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  4. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  5. 2 small fennel bulbs (about 1 pound)
  6. 2/3 cup shaved Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
  1. Cook the beans in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until nearly tender, about 6 minutes. Drain them in a colander and refresh under cold running water. Drain well.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Thinly slice the fennel lengthwise, add it to the bowl and toss, then transfer the fennel to a platter. Add the beans to the bowl and toss with the remaining dressing, then transfer them to the platter. Garnish with the Parmesan shavings and serve.

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