News from the Fields
And so it begins! With much anticipation and a whole heck of a lot of excitement, we once again start another CSA season. All of us here at Driftless Organics are proud to finally, after 3 months of hard work, be able to provide you all with your first CSA box of the season. What a spring it has been! With temperatures in the 80s in March and highs in the 40s in April, it seems like craze weather has become the new norm. Our biggest struggle thus this season has been a lack of rain. Coming off a virtually snow-less winter, and now nearly 2 months with a mere inch of rain, our soils our DRY. We do have irrigation though, and we are trying to keep it running around the clock to keep those thirsty veggies alive. Despite it all, we are really on top of things this year – and I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to be off to such a great start. We love spring with all of the planting and seeding and positive attitudes and excitement about starting the cycle all over again. We have about 55% of this year’s crops already planted: everything from 5 rounds of broccoli to most of the potatoes . With 2 rounds of carrots planted and 2 of the 4 plantings of sweet corn in the ground, things are looking great. Now comes the fun part – harvesting all of that goodness. We are hoping for a tremendously bountiful season, and hope you are ready to fulfill your duty as a CSA member. You see – being a CSA member isn’t just about getting a box of veggies every or every other week. It is about opening your minds (and mouths) to new foods, new recipes and new ways to prepare foods that you may not think you like. I am not going to lie – a CSA box can be challenging for those (like me) who haven’t spent a ton of time in the kitchen. All I can say is: the work is worth it and I do believe that we’ll all be healthier come fall after a season of eating ‘from the box;. Being a CSA member is more than just about the eating – it is as much about learning as well! How to eat seasonally, how and where those veggies of yours come from, and who actually grows them are all things that we hope to help you learn about throughout this season. And finally, I have to once again thank you all for signing up this season. It is your dollars and your faith in us as farmers that has enabled us, and I mean all of us: Josh, Noah and I; but also our amazing crew consisting of: Rachel, Eric, Kaleb, Lilly E., Patrick, Paul, Eric, Joey, Liz, Nick, Tom, Lilly D., Chris and Susan to do what we love and that is grow great vegetables for folks like you. And that’s the news for the week. Remember, if you have any questions, comments, complaints or whatever, feel free to give me a jingle. I would love to help you out in anyway I can to make this 2012 CSA season an enjoyable and educational one for you. Here’s to another year, may it be the best yet!
What’s in the Box?
Arugula – probably my favorite salad green. Adds zippy spice & warm pepper notes to salads, sandwiches, omelets, & pasta. I had it fresh on top of pizza in Italy (cut up & put on the pizza after it comes out of the oven) & now it’s a mainstay pizza topping at home. Doesn’t keep long: store in plastic in the fridge & use up within a few days.
Black Spanish Radish – a crazy dinosaur egg-looking storage radish with black knobby skin & snow white flesh. It’s harvested in the late fall when it’s quite spicy & will store until the next summer, getting milder all the while. I like to keep the skin on because it looks great when grated onto salads or slice for a veggie tray. You can also cook with it – in stir-fries or Asian soups. In plastic in the fridge it should store for a couple more weeks.
Collard Greens – are in the same family as cabbage & kale, & are similarly super healthy for you! It’s easy to add collards into soups, stir-fries, pasta sauces, bean dishes, eggs, or sauteed with garlic. Best to strip the leaves off the stem, as it’s rather tough. Store in plastic in the fridge for about 5 days.
Fresh Garlic – is fresh out of the ground and uncured, meaning it won’t store like cured garlic will (fresh garlic will be layed out in the greenhouse with fans going for several weeks to cure and be ready to store). It’s really easy to peel. Use it like cured garlic, just use a little extra since it has a higher moisture content.
Garlic Scapes – are the gorgeously swirled flowering stem of hard-neck garlic. They are harvested about a month before their better known bulbs are ready to be dug. Scapes can be used as a substitute for garlic cloves, fresh or cooked, or cooked as a vegetable in their own right. Their flavor is slightly milder than garlic; their texture & shape are similar to asparagus when cooked. Store them in plastic in fridge for a week or two or trim the ends & put them in a vase (they are a flower, after all) to grace your kitchen table with for up to a week. You can fry, sauté, steam, boil, or roast them. The whole stem & flower bud is edible (discard the tough tip above the bud). Scapes are especially good in stir-fries, eggs, soups, mashed potatoes, pasta… Or try the pesto recipe on pasta, pizzas, in dressings, or as a dip.
German Butterball Potatoes – our favorite potato: golden skin that’s flakier than a Yukon but waxier than a russet. No need to peel – the slightly russetted skin roasts up nice & crispy. A great all-purpose potato, from mash, soups, & salad to steamed, boiled, fried, or roasted. Store in a cool dark place in paper, or even the fridge, & use up within a couple weeks.
Green or Red Leaf Lettuce – The outer leaves are perfect for sandwiches or lettuce wraps, while the inner part is sweeter & crunchier & is great in salads or as lettuce “boats” for many fillings, like tuna salad or tabouli. Store in a plastic bag with a paper towel in the fridge & use it up within a few days.
Mint – fresh mint is the making of many a middle eastern or Vietnamese dish. It’s also great in tea, hot or cold, & of course mint juleps & mojitos!! Store in plastic in the fridge & use it up within a few days.
Potato Onions – kind of a cross between a green onion, and a regular onion, you should refrigerate these in a plastic bag. Use like you would a green onion: even the majority of the green part!
Pea Tendrils – otherwise known as “pea vine” or “pea shoots” these edible vines have sweet pea flavor & crunch earlier than actual peas are set. They are fun to cook in stir-fries or sautéed greens, or you can cut them up in a salad. Use them within a few days & store in plastic in the fridge.
Rosemary – a classic Mediterranean herb that is delicious in roasted or mashed potatoes, salad dressings, pasta. Makes a fantastic rub/stuffing for any kind of roasted or grilled meat – chicken, beef, pork, lamb, or fish – simply grind the leaves coarsely with the white part of green garlic, salt, & pepper in a mini food processor or mortar & pestle (if it’s for chicken, lamb, or fish add some lemon zest too). Or try the rosemary vinaigrette recipe, below. Rosemary will keep in plastic in the fridge for a couple weeks. To use, strip the leaves from the stem, which is too woody to eat.
Spinach – add to salads, sandwiches, eggs, pasta, soups… Store in plastic & eat within a few days.
Strawberries – Our friends at Harmony Valley Farm helped us out in ensuring that y’all got 2 pints of strawberries for your first box. I think we all know what to do with strawberries, right?