Vegetables, Herbs, Flowers, and Eggs
We plant about 40 kinds of vegetables. Different vegetables grow with different seasons. In spring you can expect a lot of greens. Summer brings a well rounded bounty of most of the varieties and with fall comes root vegetables and greens again. Check out a vegetable season availability chart for exact details on when things are ready.
Some CSAs are known for their exotic varieties of vegetables. We generally stick with the basics. If you dont eat a lot of vegetables, you might have a few pleasant surprise varieties you've never encountered, but for the vegetable loving human, our shares will be pretty familiar.
Along with your share, each week we send a letter describing the contents of your share and their amounts. We include information about vegetables, and ways to prepare the food you receive. We also use this letter to keep you connected to what we do on the farm. To give you an idea, here are two letters from last year's CSA, one from the spring, and one from the fall.
A: The vegetable part of your share is valued at $30. Each week in your share we aim to include ten items that are each worth around $3. The size of each share varies from week to week-greens are light and don't take up much space compared to a pumpkin. A half share is the same amount as a full share but comes every other week. Below are some pictures of past shares to give you an idea of what to expect.
Below is the text of two weekly newsletters that accompanied two shares in 2016. These will give you an example of what you could expect in the future
Welcome to Week 1 of CSA!
...And welcome to greens season. Greens are always the first to come up in the spring, and what the land wants to produce as it reluctantly gives up its cold nights. Greens are at their best selves with the cooler weather to concentrate their sugars and keep them slow growing and tender. We've long used up the last of our frozen blanched greens, our canned tomatoes, and even most of the fermented vegetables that Corinne produced with wild abandon last year have been consumed. We are so ready for greens, and not the sad ones from California that we begrudgingly buy when we're desperate/anemic enough. We hope you are ready for greens too, because you'll be getting a lot of them in the next few weeks. Sometimes greens are hard to deal with. Boring even. But your participation in our CSA means you will be eating with the rythyms of the seasons, and this specific rythym looks like greens right now. Greens are very high in vitamins and minerals, and some say that the proliferation of greens in the spring is nature's way of directing us to start replenishing the nutrients that were used up in our bodies over the winter. Whatever the case, we'll make sure that you and the greens have a good relationship.
We've been throwing the hardier greens in everything whether it works or not-lentil burgers, soups, quiches, pizzas, curry. The more delicate salad greens (arugula, lettuce mix, baby spinach) are best eaten fresh with your favorite simple dressing. We like olive oil, balsamic, a sprinkle of salt and some pecorino.
Broccoli raab may be unfamiliar to some of you. It's a cold-hardy green, sweet and mustardy in flavor, with big leaves and small sprouting florets. It bolts very quickly with the first signs of heat and doesn't have a long life in the garden. It's ubiquitous in Italy, where the most popular way to cook it is sauteed in olive oil, garlic, and dried red chile flakes. A few weeks ago we made grilled pizzas and topped them with chorizo and broccoli raab in a light cream garlic sauce and the flavors were just lovely.
The zucchini you're getting is kind of a happy experiment. As farmers coming from the south now growing in a less accomodating climate, we have been experimenting with season extension techniques so that we can produce vegetables on a more competitive level. Last year Joel built a movable high tunnel/greenhouse which, over the winter provided a shelter with passive heat for our chickens. In the spring we moved the tunnel into the garden, planted early starts of cucumbers and squash in it, and covered them all with a cloth row cover. As the soil in the tunnel heated up from the sun, the double protection over the plants allowed them to survive and thrive, even, through days and nights that were normally too cold for the heat- loving cucurbits. The plants are huge now, and doing great. We discovered that we did have to hand pollinate them, since it was too early even for the bees to be out in abundance, but that was not a problem. Enjoy these zucchinis! We like them shredded into garlicky egg griddle cakes and served with chipotle mayonnaise. Or grilled, then tossed with herb oil.
Daniel, Joel's youngest brother, who graduated from highschool this year, recently arrived to take on the lowly but worthy role of intern. He came at the perfect time, when everything everywhere was starting to get out of control, and when Joel began suffering from an overabundance of estrogen. Daniel has worked with us in previous years, knows our systems and quirks and fits well into the farm. He has also quickly endeared himself to Una, and whenever I see them together they're always cracking each other up. I just find it hard to feed him. He is 6 ft 3 in and very thin but he told me once that he has never felt full in his life. I know where my battegrounds will be this summer-in front of the stove. I just ordered a 50 lb bag of rice from the co-op to be my first weapon of choice. We'll see how the war goes.
Our first chicken processing will be June 29. Until then, you members with meat shares will be getting 3 weeks of beef, then once we have chicken, you'll get 3 weeks of chicken. Then we will proceed to every other week being chicken or beef, as stated on our website.
Lets take a look in your share this week:
Broccoli Raab-0.5 lb
Red Cherry Radish-1 bunch
Red Russian Kale-0.5 lb
Lettuce Mix-0.3 lbs
Rainbow Swiss Chard-0.5 lbs
Spring Radish Pickles (From Fermented Vegetables, by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey) (Eat your fermented foods!!!)
Yield: 1 quart
1-2 bunches radishes, ends trimmed
5 scallions, whites only, halved lengthwise (your small onions would be a perfect replacement for scallions!)
3 slices fresh ginger
2-3 small dried red chiles or 1-2 TB red chile flakes (more or less depending on your tolerance)
1 TB unrefined sea salt
1 tsp sugar
1 quart unchlorinated water
1. Pack the radishes, scallions, ginger and chiles into a quart jar, wedging the radishes under the shoulder of the jar to prevent them from floating above the brine.
2. Dissolve the salt and sugar in the water. Pour enough brine into the jar to cover the vegetables completely. Loosely cover with a lid. There will be some leftover brine; store it covered in fridge.
3. Set aside jar on baking sheet to ferment, somewhere our of direct sun and cool, 7-10 days. Moniter brine level and top off with the reserved brine solution if needed, to cover. You may see foam on top; it is harmless, but if you see mold, scoop it out.
4. AS the vegetables ferment, they begin to lose their vibrant color and the brine will get cloudy. This is when you can start testing your pickles. They are ready when the brine is somewhat cloudy and bright pink from the radish skins and the radishes are sour like a pickle.
5. When the pickles are ready, screw on the lid and store in the fridge. After about one day check to be sure the pickles are still submerged, topping off with more brine if necessary. THese will keep, refrigerated, for six months.
Soba Noodles with Raab
This recipe uses a lot of what's in your share this week-the post also includes some more ideas.
Enjoy the share!
Megan and the ATF Crew (Joel, Corinne, Daniel and Una)
Week eight is here. It is hard for us to believe. Everything has gone so fast this season. In the last few weeks a new mood has begun to creep up in me (Joel). I knew it would arrive around the beginning of August and I even told Daniel to watch out for it. It first settles on my shoulders. As the pasture begins to take on a golden tone and all the growth and energy of the season begins to weaken in its upward surge I feel myself following the call down into the earth. I always notice it first on some afternoon in late July when I don't want to stand back up. Inevitably, I sit down at the washstand after finishing some task, look up at the To-Do list on our marker board, glance out at the sky, and then, nothing happens. I don't pick something new to do. I don't grab the necessary tool. The cry of the To-do list has lost it's power and I know that August is nearby. It feels like earth's gravitational pull is stronger then it was the day before. I guess some people would call it tiredness. The bears recognize it as the call of winter. No flocks of geese have Veed their way south. No leaves are turned. But a month and a half after the summer solstice you can feel the earth's energy subsiding. Our mood shifts with it. Plans become less important. My gaze turns backwards--to surveying our work and assessing the season's progress. Last week I spent several hours taking detailed notes on all the crops in the garden. These reflections will be essential to our planning for next year.
The change is welcome. The growth in our garden is sustained by the decomposition in our compost pile. The seed must fall to the ground and die if is too put forth new life. We too must give up our plans and step back from our work. Straining must be balanced with rest. Planning must balance with reflection. There is a sweetness in releasing the season. The uphill climb is over and while there is still much work to be done, we know that we are in harvest season now and there is a rest ahead!
The change is necessary too. In order to progress ultimately and improve next spring, we must leave off from our spring time enthusiasm and the strain of summer. The reflection of fall and the rest of winter are just as important for our progress and continual improvement. We need every season.
A Look in your share:
L. mix-0.3 lb
Cabbage (red)-1 head
Beets or Snap Peas
Some of you have been asking us about what to do with the herbs that we include in the share each week and I thought I would give you a few ideas:
I tried this with basil for the first time last summer. Take four parts of the leaves of any kind of herb (4 tsp., 4 Tbsp., or 4 cups, etc.) and process in a food processor with 1 part salt (1 tsp, 1 Tbsp, or 1 cup etc.). Pack the herb salt in a jar and store in the fridge. It will last through the winter. Use the herb salt in place of regular salt in your stove top cooking.
This is the easiest thing: take one of our bundles of mint, chop it up a bit and place in a half-gallon glass container filled with water. Cover and let stand in the full hot sun all day. In the evening the water should be colored by the herbs. Strain and chill in the fridge. Drink it as is or add a sweetener or some lemon.
Pretty much every herb can be used to make pesto. Basil is the commonly used one, but have you considered making a mint pesto and serving it with lamb? I've made pesto from parsley, lemon balm, and cilantro all with good results. However, I have not tried dill yet...Some people freeze basil in ice cube trays so that they have little amounts ready to pop straight into pasta dishes.
Salads and Salad Dressings
You can make a salad more interesting by chopping up herbs and mixing them with your salad greens. I like a tiny bit of cilantro and dill chopped up very fine. Herbs can be added to vinaigrettes and other sorts of salad dressings. Dill is great in potato salad, I love thyme on a beet salad, mint is used in Tabouli salad...
Roasting Meat or Vegetables
We like to oven-roast our chickens resting on a bed of herbs and/or lemons. Toss herbs with any vegetable that you roast as well.
Hang your herbs to in a dry place out of direct sunlight. Allow to dry until they are crunchy and then crumble them into jars and save them in you spice cabinet. They can be used to flavor food or made into tea.
I have not done much of this myself. Some herbs can become slimy in the freezer, but this is another way to preserve the herbal bounty.
The ATF crew