Our newsletter from June 30:
Dear CSA members,
What a pleasant harvest morning! This is the type of weather that makes me especially grateful that I get to work outdoors all summer. Things are rolling along here—big thanks to Crystal, William, and Anna for coming out to weed yesterday. We had a couple of our former K College students come out to volunteer yesterday as well, so the pepper and tomato plants are feeling much less crowded today. They are looking really good and starting to set fruit. The eggplants are looking good as well, though I think deer have sampled a few of them. Let’s hope they didn’t find them particularly tasty!
The vine crops (melons, cucumbers, squashes) are struggling with cucumber beetles and squash bugs—pests we haven’t had too much trouble with in the past. We’ve used an organically approved formulation of pyrethrum, an insecticide derived from chrysanthemums, to try to knock back their populations a bit. I don’t like using pyrethrum if I can avoid it, since it’s toxic to beneficial insects too, but at this point the plants are small enough that we can target the spray right at the pests rather than broadcasting it into the environment. And I do feel that at this stage, these bugs are a threat to the crop—they can wreak havoc with new transplants and spread disease as they feed on plant after plant. We’re also helping the plants along with a little extra nutrition in the form of fish emulsion. What the plants really need is a nice gentle thunderstorm, but we’re not counting on that given the weather so far this year.
The romaine in your shares this week is a new variety we wanted to try based on the rave reviews it got in our favorite seed catalogs. The reviewers called it some of the best tasting romaine on the planet. I agree that it’s pretty tasty, but I didn’t like that it began to bolt so quickly. “Bolting” is when lettuce, spinach, or other such plants start to grow a flower stalk up their center. This doesn’t mean that they are ruined for eating, but eventually the plant’s energy will be diverted into the flower rather than the leaves and the leaves usually become less succulent. You’ll probably notice that some of the lettuce heads are starting to grow that center stem. Just strip the leaves off the stem and chop them into your salads as usual. Or . . . you could try roasting the heads whole. I know, roasted lettuce sounds a little weird, but I tried this recipe from foodandwine.com the other day and it was great! The lettuce stem was even tender and tasty.
Roasted Romaine with Pine Nut Vinaigrette (Chef Pablo Montero creates a savory dressing with toasted pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives and olive oil.)
Ingredients: 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar; 3 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and minced; 1 tablespoon minced kalamata or other black olives; 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing; 2 large romaine heads; 1/3 cup pine nuts; Kosher salt; Shaved Pico Melero or Manchego cheese, for serving; Flaky sea salt for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 425°. In a medium bowl, whisk the vinegar with the sun-dried tomatoes, olives and the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Set aside. Brush the romaine hearts all over with olive oil and arrange on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread the pine nuts in a pie plate. Roast the romaine and pine nuts for about 13 minutes, tossing the nuts occasionally, until the lettuce is browned in spots and the nuts are golden. In a mortar, finely crush the pine nuts. Stir into the vinaigrette and season with kosher salt. Transfer the romaine to a work surface. Cut the hearts in half lengthwise, transfer to a platter and spoon the vinaigrette on top. Scatter shaved cheese over the romaine and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve right away.
I used walnuts instead of pine nuts and I took them out of the oven after 10 minutes as they were starting to burn. I also did one head of romaine, not two, and I used dried tomatoes from our garden from last year and parmesan cheese. Really, it was delicious!
Yay, peas!! They are really good this year. Here’s a recipe from springhillcommunityfarm.com that will help you use up some of all that garlic we’ve been giving you:
Snap Peas with Garlic Scapes
Ingredients: 1 tablespoon butter; 3 garlic scapes cut in 1” pieces; 4 cups snap peas, left whole, with strings and tips removed; 1⁄4 teaspoon salt; 2-3 tablespoons vegetable broth or water
Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the scapes and sauté 2-3 minutes. Add the peas, sprinkle with salt, and stir to coat with butter. Add liquid to the pan, cover, and cook for 3 or 4 minutes more or until peas are barely tender-crisp and still bright green. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Thanks to Zinta for sharing these simple turnip recipes from realsimple.com!
Sautéed Turnips and Greens
Cook cut-up turnips and sliced garlic in olive oil in a large skillet until tender. Add the turnip greens and cook until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Mashed Turnips With Crispy Bacon
Simmer peeled and cut-up turnips in boiling salted water until tender. Drain and mash with butter, salt, and pepper. Fold in crumbled cooked bacon and chopped chives; top with shaved Parmesan.
Finally, two invitations: A few of you have asked about spending some time on the farm. You are more than welcome, either to just enjoy the land or to work in the gardens. We are usually here, so just let us know when you’d like to come by. Also, for those of you picking up on the farm, I’ve finally got my vermicompost (worm compost) system scaled up so that it can handle larger quantities of vegetable waste. I know this won’t be practical for many of you, but if you would like to bring your vegetable scraps back to the farm for composting, I will have buckets set up starting next week so that you can do that. The worms can handle pretty much any kind of raw vegetable scraps—peelings, trimmings, bunches of kale you didn’t get around to eating, coffee grounds, tea bags, etc. They can’t handle large quantities of cooked food or any animal products. But pretty much anything raw and vegetative that you aren’t going to eat the worms will turn into lovely compost that we’ll use to grow more food for you!
Have a great week, everyone! We hope you are able to get out and enjoy this weather too.
Amy & John