As I write this in our porch, I’m looking over the front field. It’s a beautiful site as swallows dive over the nicely trellised tomato plants and green sweet corn. The sun is out, but it’s pretty cool for a day in July with a nice breeze. Even with all this beauty around me, I’m still in that July state of mind, what my former mentor called the ‘heart of darkness.’
July is a time when small weeds turn into 4-foot tall monsters overnight and produce harvest is something you need to do each and every day just to keep up. It’s the time that can really wear out market gardeners like me when every hour is consumed with the battle against the weeds or trying to keep up on cucumbers. I’ve been doing this enough in my life to know, however, that things will begin to slow down in August when we give up on pulling weeds and planting new crops. I should at least slow up enough to stop and watch these birds near my house for a spell. Should we all keep things in perspective.
In the box:
‘Imperial’ Broccoli: A lot of these heads turned out to be huge.
Fennel: This one can throw people for a loop, but it’s great sauteed with other veggies. Here’s a recipe from Simply Recipes: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/caramelized_fennel_and_onions/
A couple Cucumbers
A couple Yellow Summer Squash: Cook up and use however you like your zucchi done.
A smattering of Lettuce: I scraped the fields to find a mix of lettuces to fill the boxes this week.
Sweet ‘Alisa Craig’ onion
‘Norland’ Red Potatoes
A few days ago we experienced one of the best moments of the year: eating the first tomatoes. They were orange Sungold cherry tomatoes in the high tunnel, and, man, they were good. I’m not letting you know this to torture you, but let you know that they are coming soon.
|Rainbow at Lida Farm after Yesterday’s Rain
The challenge with packing 50 boxes each week, however, is that you need a really large quantity to make sure something can get to each of you. At this point there’s probably 6-7 pints of cherry tomatoes and that’s about it, certainly not enough to supply the CSA this week, but, I hope, next week.
In the box:
This is a monster cabbage. These were so big we did some serious trimming back in the field and they still took up most of the box. One thing we do is make into an Asian salad. Allrecipes has a video recipe similar to what we’ve made before (sorry you have to watch an ad first): http://allrecipes.com/video/3111/napa-cabbage-salad/detail.aspx
‘Alisa Craig’ Sweet Onion: This one is pretty mild as far as onions go
Summer Squash: Every one has at least one Zucchini and some have Yellow Summer Squash. One recipe idea that I love are using the summer squash to make fritters. Grate the summer squash and mix in with 2-3 eggs plus salt and pepper and some chopped onion. Fry in a pan til each side browns a bit and firms up, like a pancake. You can dress with cheese and/or salsa. I like these for breakfast.
Cucumbers: First time for cukes in the Friday box! There are two kinds here. The light green/white ones are fully grown out pickling cukes and the dark green are a slicer variety called ‘Marketmore’ I’ve found the skin on the pickling cukes to be a bit tough and bitter at times, so I suggest you peel them.
‘Provider’ Green Beans; You know it’s summer when these guys arrive.
Sometimes I’ve found that people sign up for a CSA or take stuff home from a farmers market and it ends up going bad on them, not necessarily because the veggies weren’t fresh, but because they didn’t know how best to store the food.
We grow a lot of variety of produce. With all that diversity, you learn that different plants like different conditions. Not everything likes to sit in your crisper drawer in your refrigerator. One such a plant is basil I get a lot of questions about to keep basil from turning black. Bottom line: Don’t Put into the Fridge….it will go black. I made this video to explain a couple ways to store basil in this weeks box:
Also find this week’s farmcast where I explain about different produce in the box:
In the Box:
- Bunch of Beets: Greens are looking good, so try cooking these up. This one looks good…hey it uses bacon: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/beet_greens/
- Green Cabbage
- Summer Squash (maybe a zucchini, maybe yellow summer squash)
- Green Onions
- Small Head of Lettuce: Either a Red Butterhead type or Greenleaf type
As we approach July 4th, all of us reflect on our nation and its history. For many, our minds turn to our founding fathers, the Revolutionary War, and the Declaration of Independence. My mind, of course, goes to farming.
At the time of independence, we were a country of farmers. Part of the myth of our founding was that we were a nation of yeomen, freemen who farmed small plots of ground. We all know that we were also a nation of plantations and slavery, but, mainly due to the writings of Thomas Jefferson, that’s not the ideal we were handed down. This Jeffersonian ideal of democracy built on the free association of hard-working free people remains an inspiration to many, myself included. The yeoman farmers of yesterday were not serfs under the thumb of some Lord or Duke, but free and independent operators with a stake in their local governments and development.
If small family farms were the bedrock on which our democracy was based, we have been in trouble for a long time. For my entire life-I was born in 1977-family farms have been in retreat. I clearly remember the farm crisis of the 1980s when Willie Nelson took the stage at Farm Aid and America’s attention was turned to farm families’ struggles. Farm auctions and foreclosures blanketed the evening news. Although the attention waned with time, the trend of family farm loss continued. Instead of being a nation of independent yeoman farmers, it’s hard not to feel like we’ve become a nation of farmers on contract to our overloads of Tyson, Smithfield, Cargill, and Monsanto.
Despite this doom and gloom, at least those of us in the sustainable agriculture communtiy still have hope. There are many more farm operations like our own making a living today because people like you chose to buy your food directly from the farmer It may sound Pollyanna-ish, but I firmly believe these simple choices are making a real difference in keeping that dream of family farm alive.
In the Box:
- Garlic Scapes: These are the tops of garlic which can be used in substitute for green onions or garlic. See recipe below for an idea.
- French Breakfast Radishes
- ‘Farao’ Green Cabbage
- Snap Peas: Don’t shell these…just eat the whole thing
- ‘Lacinato’ Kale: Dark green with a blue band
- A couple small heads of lettuce
- Broccoli or Cauliflower: Most of you got cauliflower, but we had to substitute in broccoli in some boxes
- ½ lb campanella pasta, or shape of your choosing
- 4 slices bacon (about 3¼ ounces), chopped
- ¼ cup garlic scapes, cut into ¼ inch coins
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- ½ cup freshly grated Romano cheese
- Set a pot of water to boiling on the stove and cook the campanella pasta (or desired shape).
- While it’s cooking, cook the bacon over medium heat until browned. Remove the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon and add the garlic scapes. Cook until soft (2-3 minutes). Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. (Drain both the bacon and the garlic scapes on a paper towel).
- Whisk together the eggs, salt and red pepper flakes.
- When the pasta is done, quickly remove it from the stove and set a different burner to low heat. Drain the pasta and add it back to the pot, on the burner set to low. Stir in the garlic scapes and bacon. Add the egg mixture and stir feverishly for 3-4 minutes until sauce is thick and creamy. Don’t let it overcook or it will be gloppy. Sprinkle the Romano cheese in, a little at a time, and stir to combine. Don’t add it all at once or it won’t mix throughout the pasta as well (since it will clump).
- Serve immediately.