Our newsletter from June 14:
Dear CSA members,
It’s been a busy week for us here on the farm as we are wrapping up our class at Kalamazoo College and moving into our summer schedule. We’re still working to get plants like squash and seeds like sweet corn into the ground, while at the same time weeding, watering, and mulching the plants that are already in and growing, like the broccolis, cabbages, peppers, and tomatoes. We are preparing for another heat wave to hit this weekend, which is why you have so much lettuce in your shares today! Lettuce, with its tender leaves, does not like the heat and will bolt (send up a flower stalk) or burn in extremely hot temperatures. So we thought we’d better harvest the lettuce and get it to you right away.
Your lettuce comes to you in two forms this week: mixed baby leaves in a bag and an assortment of romaine-type heads. The baby leaves are more tender and perishable, so I suggest that you eat those first. The romaine-type heads will keep longer if you put them into something that will keep them moist, such as a plastic bag or sealed plastic container. (The pac choi will keep best this way as well.)
Romaine lettuce is one of those crops that I almost can’t bring myself to buy in the store anymore—it is so bland that it is almost tasteless. Fresh-from-the-garden romaine actually has flavor to go along with its crunch and that slight hint of bitterness that I find really satisfying. You could use the dill in your shares to make a nice dressing for your lettuce, either by chopping it into the recipe I gave you last week or by making the creamy dressing in this salad recipe from www.healthyseasonalrecipes.com:
Spring Salad with Radishes and Yogurt Dill Dressing
Ingredients: 2 eggs; 1/2 cup Plain Low-Fat Greek Style yogurt; 2 tablespoons mayonnaise; 4 teaspoons minced shallot; 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill; 2 tablespoon cider vinegar or white wine vinegar; 1/2 teaspoon salt; Freshly ground pepper; 8 cups greens, washed and spun dry; 2 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled; 1/4 cup sliced radishes
Place eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Place over high heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer very gently for 10 minutes. Drain off hot water, and place pot under cold running water for several minutes to stop egg from cooking. Crack and peel egg. Slice or chop the egg. Whisk yogurt, mayonnaise, shallot, dill, vinegar, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Arrange salad greens on four plates. Sprinkle bacon over the greens. Arrange radishes and the egg over the top of the salad. Drizzle the dressing over the salads. Extra dressing will keep up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
One tip I can add to the above recipe that I recently learned from a friend: if you are hard-boiling eggs for your salads (or for deviled eggs, which would be another good use for your dill), steam your eggs instead of boiling them. Then dunk them in cold water and the shells come right off! I tried this for the first time a few weeks ago with fresh duck eggs and couldn’t believe how easy they peeled. (And if you have ever tried to peel a fresh egg, you know how excited I was!) For the duck eggs, 15 minutes in the steamer was about right. You may want to do less time with chicken eggs.
I didn’t much like raw radishes until about 10 years ago when I met a friend for a morning hike and she brought along a container of cut radishes and a little dish of salt for a snack (I know, most people bring granola bars, but my friends are weird). She dipped the cut side of a radish into the salt and offered me a bite. I was hooked! Somehow the salt combined with the bite of the radish is satisfying and addictive. Since then, I’ve found that I like to snack on radishes along with a salty cheese like feta, as well as a few really good olives.
Unlike John, I’m an impatient and simple cook. Sometimes I follow recipes; more often I throw whatever is ripe in a pan and stir-fry it all together. When I do follow a recipe, it’s likely to be a simple one like the following one I modified from the Moosewood Restaurant Favorites cookbook:
Ingredients: Pac Choi (approx. 1 lb); 2 Tbsp soy sauce; 1 Tbsp dark sesame oil; 2 Tbsp dry sherry, rice wine, or water; 2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil; 4-6 garlic cloves, minced (or to taste); 2 tsp grated ginger; 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds.
Cut pac choi head(s) so that the leaves and thick stems are separated. Cut stems into ½ inch chunks and slice up leaves. Wash both the stems and leaves to remove any grit. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, and sherry or wine or water. Set aside. Warm vegetable oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add garlic and ginger. Sizzle for about 10 seconds, then add pac choi stems. Cook, stirring, for a minute or so, depending on how tender you want the stems to get. Then add leaves and stir-fry until the leaves are wilted but still bright green. Pour in the soy sauce mixture and stir to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.
This is one of those recipes you can easily add stuff to, depending on what’s in your refrigerator that needs to be used. Last night I made a variation of this recipe that included mushrooms and cooked radishes. If you’ve never tried cooking radishes, you might want to try it! Their flavor mellows out as they tenderize in the pan. Simply cut them into chunks or if they are small, throw them whole into the stir-fry with the pac choi stems.
We have not yet made it back to the orchard to work on thinning fruit, but we hope to get to that in the coming week. A few of you have asked about future work parties. We are thinking that Saturday, June 23 may be a good day for us to host another work day. We’ll keep an eye on the weather and send an update about that over the weekend.
Happy eating! And stay cool and hydrated this weekend! Amy & John