Summer CSA Week 10

We’re just over half way through the 2021 summer share! We hope you’ve been enjoying the ever more summery selection! Our item list on the white board hardly fits any more – time to write it smaller. The crew has more of a routine as the summer goes on as different people take on a different, regularly harvested crop like daily zucchini and cucumbers, and almost daily melons (for a while), peppers and broccoli (never ending!). The addition of increasingly more harvesting is butting up against some later-than normal season weeding as rains have helped both crops, and the little (and not so little) unwanted plants in our fields.

We will be getting into a more regular rhythm of harvesting large amounts of things at a time too, to have available for a week or two at a time. The first planting of carrots got harvested a week and a half ago, and we have a few bins of cabbage in the cooler waiting for wholesale orders and for CSA delivery. The garlic is out of the ground, a couple weeks ahead of usual, and is curing in the greenhouse for now. Soon we’ll trim those stalks and move the garlic to make way for onions. Bit by bit the harvest ramps up, and we can start ticking entire crops off the list.

How about all of you? Do you feel like you’re in a good rhythm of using your share, or are you stuck in a rut? Hopefully you won’t ever feel too stuck since the veggies change throughout the season, though I think my household is already ready to move on from zucchini fritters… Time to move on to my regularly occurring (but it’s been a while!) potato salad I guess!

August in Minnesota always feels so full and so fast with late summer camping trips, or weddings and planning for the fall and school season ahead. Even if school isn’t a part of your life any more, there seems to be a different pace to things come September. I hope you are all finding satisfying ways to spend these last summery weeks. Perhaps in a couple of weeks, on the 21st (3-5pm), you’ll find yourself out here at the Food Farm for our farm gathering, or up the road for the Free Range Film Festival (7pm)! What could be more summery than an afternoon drive out to Wrenshall?

For the busy crew,

Karin


In your share this week:
Green Beans – Broccoli – Carrots – Cucumber – Dill – Melons! – Sweet Onion – Green Onions – Sweet and Hot Peppers – Potatoes – Tomatoes – Zucchini


Cream of Broccoli Soup, By Farmer John

One large head of broccoli “the biggest you can find”, chopped
One large onion, the biggest you can find, chopped (not a sweet onion… sorry)
One large carrot, also the biggest you can find, chopped

2 Cloves Garlic
2 Tbsp, (but he uses 3) butter
2 Cups chicken or veggie broth
Salt to taste
1 Cup milk

Cook veggies in broth until quite soft, and then blend the living daylights out of it with an immersion blender. Add milk, stir and taste.
We talked about the option of freezing the soup – perhaps freeze it before blending, and adding the milk, so as to simplify the reheating. Then thaw, heat, blend and add milk when you’re ready to serve.

Ultimate Zucchini Bread

From The Smitten Kitchen

I have been making this like it’s going out of style… but it never will in my house! If you want a fun little description about how she got to this recipe from other less satisfying versions, look it up on her website – all her complaints about plain old zucchini bread were also my own- but I love this recipe! Disclaimer… it is basically eating cake for breakfast.

  • 2 cups (13 ounces or 370 grams) grated, packed zucchini, not wrung out, grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) of a neutral oil (I use safflower), olive oil, or melted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (95 grams) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) raw or turbinado sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 6-cup or 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray. Place grated zucchini in a large bowl and add oil, eggs, sugars, vanilla, and salt. Use a fork to mix until combined. Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and baking powder over surface of batter and mix until combined — and then, for extra security that the ingredients are well-dispersed, give it 10 extra stirs. Add flour and mix until just combined. Pour into prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the raw or turbinado sugar — don’t skimp. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick or tester inserted into the middle cake but also into the top of the cake, closer to the dome, comes out batter-free.

Let cool completely in the pan. Leave in pan, unwrapped, overnight or 24 hours, until removing (carefully, so not to ruin flaky lid) and serving in slices. Zucchini bread keeps for 4 to 5 days at room temperature. I wrap only the cut end of the cake in foil, and return it to the baking pan, leaving the top exposed so that it stays crunchy.

Summer CSA Week 8

We’re grateful for the half inch of rain we got on Saturday- and we’d like to place an order for more on Monday… but no hail this year please! It is hard to know the total of what damage the hail did last year exactly – but it definitely made the 2020 season feel more Biblical than ever- and not in a nice way.

I am excited for potatoes this week. New potatoes are so extra tasty, tender, and fresh feeling. You could do anything you want with them and it would be delicious. However – if I were you, I’d keep it simple with the potatoes the first few weeks. You have all winter to cover them up with mayonnaise, cheese, or gravy. These first potatoes are so good roasted and then smashed with herbs and butter, or in a potato salad with a bright dressing as opposed to something creamy. Of course- if you’ve been waiting months for local-cheesy hashbrowns, I won’t stand in your way.

Potatoes are such a great vegetable. Even people who don’t like vegetables like them, that’s how great they are. And, while fries and potato chips are not sustainable every day options, potatoes really are quite nutritious as an every day food. They are such a staple of so many recipes from European countries, but they really only made it from the Americas to Europe around five hundred years ago, give or take. In some ways, that isn’t really so long ago.

The share is moving in a particularly American direction this week with the addition of potatoes, peppers and of course the tomatoes and zucchini. What a tremendous amount of work and attention must have happened to breed otherwise poisonous plants into what would become near-global staples. I feel grateful, but of course the how and why these vegetables made it halfway around the world and back is not a happy one for the people who originally bred and worked over plots of potatoes, peppers, tomatoes and squashes. I wish there was a word that mixed joyful gratitude with un-payable debt.

Whatever that word would be, perhaps it will hover over you as you prepare meals from your share this week. I am sure they will all be delicious.

For the farm crew,

Karin


In your share this week:
Broccoli – Carrots – Cauliflower – Cucumbers – Dill – Lettuce – Green Onions – Parsley – Peas – Peppers – Potatoes! – Tomatoes – Zucchini

How to Freeze Broccoli

Janaki is feeling super guilty for sending so much broccoli, so here’s a quick tutorial on how to freeze it so it’s not so overwhelming. You can certainly find videos on YouTube for how to do it, but a lot of them seem too fussy. We like to get things done fast here at the farm, so here’s the farmer way:

Supplies:

1 large stockpot or saucepan, ideally with a steamer basket

Colander

Ziploc quart freezer bags

Ice (optional)

Salad spinner (optional but awesome)

Broccoli (not optional)

Cut the broccoli into smallish similarly-sized pieces, I usually shoot for around 1.5-2″ diameter. Stems can be used as well, though they’re more dense so should be cut smaller/thinner so they blanch in the same amount of time. I only use the tender part of the stems, but you can use the lower part as well if you want to peel to remove the tough skin.

Once your pot of water is boiling well, fill the steamer with broccoli pieces. (Boiling also works, but I prefer steaming). If you cram it really full they don’t cook evenly, so you’ll have to judge the right amount based on the size of your pot. For mine it’s about enough for 1 1/2 bags.

Set a timer for 3 minutes and fill both sides of your sink with water. Put in ice on one side. When the timer is done, dump the steamer basket into the colander. Put that into the side without ice. Refill the steamer basket and reset the timer.

After about 90 seconds, move the colander to the ice bath. Just before the timer goes off, dump the colander into the salad spinner and take the broccoli out of the pot, into the sink, etc.

Spin the broccoli in the spinner to remove excess water. If you don’t have one, just shake the excess off in the colander. Some people pat it dry with a towel but I don’t think you need to be that finicky. Take it out of the spinner and stuff it into bags. Put the bags in the freezer.

Label the bags first so you know what year it’s from. If you forget that part, don’t worry just eat it faster. If you only have a single basin sink, don’t worry, just use more ice. If you don’t have ice, don’t worry. The faster you cool it down the longer it keeps, but I’ve eaten broccoli that’s several years old and it’s usually fine.

If you get really fast/impatient like me, you can have two steamers going at once and still keep up as long as you don’t have any “helpers” in the kitchen.

Final step: make someone else clean up, you’ve done your part. (I still haven’t figured out that step yet.) That’s it, good luck!


Tzatziki Sauce

From Cookie and Kate

  • 2 cups grated cucumber (from about 1 medium 10-ounce cucumber, no need to peel or seed the cucumber first, grate on the large holes of your box grater)
  • 1 ½ cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint and/or dill
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 medium clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  1. (Karin’s side note on straining: I would use either cheese cloth, a clean flour-sack towel or a sturdy strainer you could push against to strain water out… or, do it her way): Working with one big handful at a time, lightly squeeze the grated cucumber between your palms over the sink to remove excess moisture. Transfer the squeezed cucumber to a serving bowl, and repeat with the remaining cucumber.
  2. Add the yogurt, olive oil, herbs, lemon juice, garlic, and salt to the bowl, and stir to blend. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Taste and add additional chopped fresh herbs, lemon juice, and/or salt, if necessary (I thought this batch was just right as-is).
  3. Serve tzatziki immediately or chill for later. Leftover tzatziki keeps well, chilled, for about 4 days.

Summer CSA Week 7

It isn’t an easy summer to be a plant – or someone trying to grow plants. All the trees around town look tired and soft, like a sweaty brochure being used as a fan. Janaki is spending his time running irrigation around to keep vegetables alive in their turn, constant triage ensuring that every crop has what it needs. There are around 42 fields now, some quite large. Wow, I had never counted. No wonder I still get “lost” with the field numbers.

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There is something daunting about the weather this year. It’s not a good rain year. Last year wasn’t a good rain year, nor particularly snowy. Who can say if this is a trend, but who can say what a trend is other than unusual and more intense. It feels unsettling to know that the rest of my life will be marked by these changes. Perhaps some more “normal” feeling seasons or years will still happen- but I fear for more winters with little snow (what is the point of winter if there is no snow!?) and more growing seasons that are hot and dry. And what all will that change? In my life time will pine trees become more rare, will more invasive pests and plants make their way north, will all the ash trees die? Probably. Maybe I’ll find myself accepting change and growing a patch of lavender in my 70s. Or maybe I’ll move somewhere I can still ski.

Going down either an emotional or intellectual rabbit hole of climate worry will drive anyone insane after a while. Beyond my worry is grief, which is easier to be with than worry in the long term, but still not easy.

The other day I found myself thinking how hard it would be to plan and build for these changes we see. From air conditioning in schools to making changes to river banks – a lot could get done and some of it is a guessing game.

On the farm Janaki is continually making those guesses as well as he can in an attempt to mitigate risk and maintain some level of sanity in our work. We can’t make it rain, but he is in the market for a more sustainable and efficient irrigation system. And when (not if) the 5 inches of rain in a weekend fall, he has drain-tile now throughout the fields, to give the water somewhere to go instead of sitting and rotting carrots. We use refrigeration in the root cellar now, instead of solely relying on cold fall air to cool the old cellar for winter storage. Many changes in the past 8 seasons I have known the farm – and many of them just in time. We’re trying, folks. Thanks for coming with us on the journey.

For the farm crew,

Karin


In your share this week:
Broccoli – Carrots – Cucumbers – Lettuce – Green Onions – Peas – Tomatoes


Carrot and White Bean Burgers

From The Smitten Kitchen

  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup panko-style breadcrumbs
  • 3 shallots, or 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup packed grated carrot (from 2 medium carrots)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Two 15-ounce cans cannellini or other white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Burger accompaniments, as you like

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the panko and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer crumbs to a large bowl, then return the pan to the heat.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet, followed by the shallot or onion. Cook until softened and lightly golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, salt, and carrots and stir frequently until the carrots are soft and a bit blistered, another 8 to 10 minutes. Add the vinegar, scraping up all the browned bits until the pan is dry. Remove from heat and add the bowl with the toasted panko. Add beans and use a wooden spoon or spatula to very coarsely mash the mixture until a bit pasty and the mixture coheres in places—there should still be plenty of beans intact. Add pepper, and more salt if needed, to aste. Stir in the egg. Shape into 6 patties (I used a 1/2 cup measure as a scoop) for the size burger you see here; 4 patties for really large burgers (to warn, I found this size a little unwieldy), or 8 to 10 for slider-size.

To cook the veggie burgers, heat a thin layer of olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat and carefully cook until browned and slightly firm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes per side. It may be necessary to cook in batches. Serve hot or at room temperature, with whatever you like on or with veggie burgers.

Quinoa Broccoli Salad

From Cookie and Kate

Slaw

  • ¾ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ½ cup slivered or sliced almonds
  • 1 ½ pounds broccoli (about 2 large or 3 medium heads)
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil

Honey-mustard dressing

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or more lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes, optional (for heat)
  1. To cook the quinoa: First, rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh colander under running water. In a medium-sized pot, combine the rinsed quinoa and 1 ½ cups water. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer the quinoa until it has absorbed all of the water. Remove the quinoa from heat, cover the pot and let it rest for 5 minutes. Uncover the pot and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Set it aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the almonds: In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the almonds, stirring frequently, until they are fragrant and starting to turn golden on the edges, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a large serving bowl to cool.
  3. To prepare the broccoli slice the florets off the stems into manageable pieces. Feed the broccoli florets through your food processor using the slicing blade, then switch to the grating blade to shred the stems. Alternatively, you can shred the broccoli with a mandoline or by hand with a sharp knife.
  4. Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a liquid measuring cup and whisk until emulsified. The dressing should be pleasantly tangy and pack a punch. If it’s overwhelmingly acidic, add a little more honey to balance out the flavors. If it needs more kick, add a bit more mustard or lemon juice.
  5. Add the shredded broccoli slaw, cooked quinoa and chopped basil to your large serving bowl. Pour the dressing over the mixture and toss until well mixed. Let the slaw rest for about 20 minutes to let the flavors meld.

Summer CSA, Week 15

There is a lot of beauty and wonder in watching a vegetable from start to finish.

I feel a lot of care and pride goes into each and every field out here. But for some reason the onion field keeps coming to mind as one that gets an extra level of hands on care and love.

Many of the other fields Janaki is able to cultivate with the tractor. But the onion field and the tomato and pepper field get straw mulch, plastic, trellis’ and such.

So let me break the dance of the onion down for you. In early March, with a frozen snowy landscape outside, Dave seeded the onions into 72 cell trays to grow big enough and develop enough root matter to make it in the cold of outdoors. In May we placed thin plastic over each bed and then transplanted the onions into the field.

I believe a day later it snowed. Those little transplants survived, though!

Throughout the summer our mantra has been “When in doubt pull weeds from the onion holes”. And so we weeded the onion holes, action-hoed the aisles, mulched the aisles and weeded more onion holes.

Side bar: when I say onion holes I mean the holes in the plastic which the onions are growing out of.

Then after all that, once the greens of the onions fall down we go out and pull them from the ground and let them sit in the sun for a while.

This past week was spent in the onion field. The weather was dreary. We got rained on often. But we got all the onions out of the field and into greenhouses to dry. The forecast mentioned mist and drizzle which turned into thunder and heavy rain.

And through it all you have to laugh because it was a hot dry summer and we had to get rained on eventually. Of course it would be while trying to pick up slimy dried up onion greens. The next step will be curing them in the greenhouse for a month or so before they move to their home in the root cellar. They’ll stay there all the way until the last winter share in April, at which point next year’s onions will already be over a month old!

I will leave you with a final note regarding Taylor Swift. I had a song of hers stuck in my head while harvesting onions all week. The song is titled London Boy, and she sings of falling for a boy from London. Well somewhere around the 30th bucket of onions I changed the lyrics to “Onion boy”.

You know I love an Onion boy…..

From a clean and dry farm crew,

Tiffany


In your CSA box:

Green Beans, Garlic, Broccoli, Carrots, Cucumbers, Dill, Yellow Onions, Purplette Onions, Parsley, Peppers, Russet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Greens Mix


French Onion Soup

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups sliced onions
  • 10.5 oz beef broth
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp dried sherry
  • 4 slices French bread
  • 1/2 cup provolone cheese, shredded
  • 1/8 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

Melt butter in with olive oil in a stock pot on medium heat. Add onions and stir until tender.

Add beef broth, thyme and sherry. Summer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven on high broil.

Place soup in four oven safe bowls. Place a slice of French bread on top of each bowl sprinkling three cheese blend over the top of all bowls.

Place bowls on a cookie sheet and into the oven. Cook until cheese bubbles and browns slightly. 10-15 minutes. Watch carefully.

Broccoli and Herb Salad

  • 4 cups Broccoli, chopped into pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill
  • 1 handful fresh parsley
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (about 1 cup uncooked)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • A handful of nuts (I prefer walnuts)

Cook quinoa and chickpeas. Chop broccoli and onions into small pieces. Finely chop herbs.

Combine chilled chickpeas and quinoa into large bowl. Drizzle olive oil over and mix well. Add broccoli, onion, herbs and lemon juice. Mix and season with salt and pepper to taste. Lastly mix in sunflower seeds and favorite nuts.

Summer CSA Week 5

Here comes summer

Here comes summer

Chirping robin, budding rose

Here comes summer

Here comes summer

Gentle showers, summer clothes

Here comes summer

Here comes summer

Whoosh–shiver–there it goes.

–Shel Silverstein

I was laid up for a few days this past week recovering from a tick born illness. When I came back to work on Wednesday I felt like I’d been gone a week!

The tomatoes in the green house are taller than I am. The cucumbers have become wildly prolific. All the row cover is off the cabbage and the broccoli are beautiful.

This season is what I live for. The warm air when the breeze blows. The sweltering heat when the sun is high in the sky. Sun burnt shoulders and tan faces. Bare feet in warm fields.

Summer can fly by in the blink of an eye if you aren’t careful to pay attention. We all get caught up in the work, because we are farmers and can’t help ourselves. There is a mile of cabbage to weed. There are tomatoes to trellis and boxes to wash. There is grass to mow and sunscreen to apply and water that needs to be drank.

I have to remind myself to pay attention, to stay conscious of what’s going on around me. Sam started harvesting a ton of cucumbers each day. I noticed that. But I had to pay attention to see it. The sun golds started turning yellow. I bet a I’ll get to eat a handful in a few days.

Dave planted basil in every nook and cranny of the green houses. But you have to look down for just a second to appreciate that.

We farmers do a special kind of dance. We all have different roles to play, different songs to sing. I like to imagine us from a birds eye view. Little objects floating around the farm, accomplishing so, so much.

From a tender loving farm crew

Tiffany


In your CSA box:

Carrots – Beets – Cucumbers – Broccoli- Green Onions – Romaine Lettuce – Garlic Scapes!


Broccoli Fritters

  • 8 oz broccoli including stem cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (if you’re into that)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp cayenne

Steam broccoli until tender. Drain excess water and pat dry. Toss broccoli in flour and cayenne. Combine egg to broccoli, then the cheese. Mix completely.

Place pan on medium heat. Add oil. Divide mixture into fourth and spoon into pan in patty form.

Cook on one side for 2-3 minutes or until bottom is golden brown. Flip and cook another 2-3 minutes

Asian Cucumber Salad

  • 4 cups VERY thinly sliced cucumber
  • 1/4 cup finely sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup finely sliced red pepper
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Add cucumber, onion, red pepper and sesame seeds to medium bowl. Set aside

In small bowl mix rice wine vinegar, honey, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and salt.

Add dressing to veggie mix, serve immediately raw let sit in fridge for a while to let the flavors meld