Thursday, July 30, 2009

Box #9

In addition to being behind on broccoli, cucumbers and beans, I’m also behind on blogging (also receipt writing, if you’ve paid me in July and have not yet received a receipt, you’ll be getting it next week in your box). Anyway, here are some recipe ideas and other useful bits of information on your produce:

Basil - There are many types of basil, this particular one is known as sweet basil and is probably one of the more common kinds. According to the Fedco Seed Catalog, which is where I order basil seed, this type is recommended for “drying, all-around great eating and large-scale pesto production”. If you are interested in drying some basil and you don’t own a food dehydrator, place a layer of leaves on a plate and microwave them until they are crispy.

Beets - Beets can be frozen, canned, dried or root cellared (wait for later ones if you plan on doing this). I’ve also heard of people pickling beets, which sounds interesting. Admittedly, beets are not my favorite so I’m not the best resource for beet related recipes.

Brussel Sprouts - These are one of my favorites. I like to steam them and serve with pasta and cheese sauce. They are root cellarable as Brussels sprout logs (these will show up at the end of the season, probably in the last box) or they can also be frozen individually (blanch 3-5 minutes first). The plants themselves are very interesting-looking (see photo above) with thick stocks and leafy tops. They sort of resemble miniature palm trees with the heads growing where the stalks meet the leaves.

Carrots - Carrots are one of those crops that we plant more than once so expect them several times throughout the season. They freeze well after being peeled, chopped and balanced for 2-5 minutes. One of my favorite ways to prepare carrots is to steam them in orange juice.

Cilantro - Also known as Chinese Parsley and Mexican Parsley, cilantro is the leaf part of the plant with the seeds being the coriander part. Cilantro can be used to flavor a variety of dishes including; salsa, guacamole, soups, stews, salads, stir-fries, egg, fish, pork, hot dogs etcetera. Unfortunately, cilantro does not keep well and drying the leaves results in little to no flavor.

Fennel - Fennel is sort of new to me, this is the first year I’ve grown it. It has an anise-type flavor and is good raw or cooked. It really does not keep well and should be used within a few days. According to The Joy of Cooking, fennel can be roasted, braised, grilled or sautéed. The fronds can be used as a seasoning and bulbs can be used as a substitute for celery. Fennel accompanies fish especially well.

Flowers – We’ve started putting zinnia (very colorful) and sweet pea (very fragrant) bouquets in the boxes this week. We’ll have sunflowers later.

Kohlrabi - I think these are best raw (just peel and slice) but they also are good in stir fries, casseroles or toasted in the oven with cheese on top. You can freeze them but they tend to smell like propane when thawed.

Rutabaga – So, I think I may have planted a few too many turnips this year. To add insult to injury, as soon as we’re done picking turnips we’ll head right into rutabagas, which taste pretty much just like turnips.

Spuds – I’m sure you all know what to do with tators. I think you’ll find the blue ones interesting to cook with.

Here’s a great potato bread recipe from The Foxfire Book: Dissolve a cake of yeast in a cup of warm water. Cook up two medium spuds, mash them and add two teaspoons salt, three teaspoons sugar and the yeast water. Put in a jar (or bowl) in a warm place to rise (it’ll get bubbly). Then add enough flour to make a firm dough. Let rise till double, knead and make into two loaves. Let rise then bake at 350 degrees until it tests done.

Swiss Chard – If you didn’t get a bag of lettuce mix this week you got a bunch of swiss chard. The leaves are great as salad greens and the stalks are a good substitute for celery (which we don’t grow).

Turnips – Here’s a recipe involving turnips one of you e-mailed to me. It’s good (thanks Wendy).

Cheesy Turnips and Carrots

3 cups diced peeled turnips
2 cups sliced carrots
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup diced celery
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

In a saucepan, combine turnips, carrots, ginger, water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender; drain and reserve liquid. Set vegetables aside. In a skillet, saute onion and celery in butter until tender; stir in flour, pepper and remaining salt. Add milk and the vegetable liquid; bring to a boil. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in cheese until melted; stir in the vegetables and heat through.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Farm News and Pictures

Hope you all are enjoying box #7. It was a challenging one to pick and pack what with all the varying maturity levels of different crops right now. I apologize to those who had to wait for me on Wednesday in St. Paul. By trying to avoid one area of road construction I got stuck in two other unforeseen areas of construction and ended up not arriving at Hampden Park until after 3 p.m. Thanks to Tameaka and the Sellkes for helping me unload boxes.

Fall Farm Harvest Fest
We’ve decided to hold a fall harvest fest/party here at the farm for all CSA members on October 17. Members can come pick out their pumpkins, gourds and ornamental corn (hopefully this stuff will be ready by then, it really should be). There also will be a corn shock making clinic, tours and possibly a bon fire weather permitting. We’ll post more info as this date approaches.

Other Farm Visits
If you are interested in touring the farm sooner than October, please feel free to come by. Except for delivery days, I’m pretty much always here. Our place it pretty easy to find provided you can navigate through all the road construction between here and the cities. Give me a call or e-mail me if you decide to stop by.

One of the barns with pumpkin patch in foreground.


Olaf, our billy goat.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Boxes will not be Early to St. Paul this Week

As you're all aware, Hampden Park picker-uppers pick up their boxes around 3 p.m. but generally I'm there unloading earlier than that. This week it is very unlikely that I'll be there anytime much before 3 for two reasons. First, my helper is on vacation this week and so I'll be packing boxes solo. Also I've heard that I-94 has a bunch of construction going on right now. I'll probably take Hwy. 36 tomorrow to avoid hang-ups in the construction. By doing this I'll risk getting stuck on the lift bridge in Stillwater which seems to happen about 50% of the time (sometimes I sit there for half an hour, though admittedly it is pretty cool to see the boats go under). I hope none of you end up waiting for me, I’ll do my best to get there as soon as I can.