Our newsletter from June 21:
Dear CSA members,
I’m feeling awfully grateful for the cooler weather these past couple of days, which has made harvest this week easier on both us and the plants we were harvesting! Harvesting leafy greens in the heat is always a challenge, since they start to wilt as soon as you cut them and handling them when they are hot can bruise the leaves. But this cool cloudy weather has been perfect for cutting greens and we have some lovely leaves for you today.
We have a few extra potatoes to get in the ground yet (fingers crossed, that will happen later today), but otherwise planting is mostly done. Now we move on to cultivating! Most of the plants in our larger gardens that we call Middle Earth and New Earth are looking good and put on a growth spurt in last week’s heat. Unfortunately, so did the weeds! We’ll be putting in overtime with the tiller and the hoe to get those under control this next week. We are also experimenting with some cover crop and mulch rotations that I hope will reduce our need to cultivate those gardens for weed suppression in the future.
Speaking of weeds, the ducklings are growing like them! They are good entertainment at the end of a long day, splashing about in the plastic sled that currently serves as their wading pool. They will help us with pest control in the gardens around the house, where we will let them roam in the winter months to eat slugs overwintering in mulch that we use for soil improvement and weed suppression in those gardens. Stop by and see them if you need some duckling comic relief.
The chard got away from us in the heat and got huge! So big that we can’t fit it into pre-boxed small share boxes today, so we’ll offer pre-boxed small share folks kale this week and chard the next time around when we’ll cut it at a smaller size. This gratin from FARMfood: green living with chef Daniel Orr is one of our favorite ways to eat chard and makes good use of the stems as well as the leaves:
Gruyere and Chard Gratin
Ingredients: 1 lb chard, stems cut into small pieces and leaves roughly chopped; 3 large eggs; 1 ½ cup heavy cream; ¼ tsp nutmeg, ground; fresh ground pepper; 1 garlic clove, minced; 2 anchovies, finely diced [you can omit these]; 1 tsp salt; ½ cup Gruyere or Swiss cheese, grated; butter for greasing pan
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Blanch chard in salted water until crunchy-tender and shock in ice water. Drain and pat dry. Combine eggs, cream, nutmeg, pepper, garlic, anchovies, salt, and three-quarters of cheese and mix well. Add chard and mix well to incorporate into egg mix. Lightly grease 9” glass or ceramic dish and pour in mixture. Top with remaining cheese. Pat down evenly and bake 30-35 minutes until set and golden on top. Allow to sit at least 5 minutes before serving.
I am super excited about the arugula we have for you today. It’s a new variety that we’re trying called Esmee and I think it may be the best arugula we’ve ever grown. I love the crispy texture and peppery flavor raw in salads, wilted on pizza, or blended in pesto like in this recipe from everybodylikessandwiches.com, which also calls for the garlic scapes (the curly flower stalks of the garlic plant) that are in your shares today. Simply cut the tough ends off of the scape, mince the rest, and use in anything you’d normally put garlic in.
Arugula & Garlic Scape Pesto
Ingredients: 2 c garlic scapes, cut into bits & the flower head discarded; 1 – 2 c arugula (or spinach, torn up kale or chard); 1/2 c walnuts; 1/4 c grated parmesan cheese (leave out for a vegan version); 1/4 – 1/3 c olive oil; juice of 1/2 lemon (or more); 1/2 t kosher salt; 1/2 t chili pepper flakes
Combine the garlic scapes, arugula, walnuts, cheese in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times. Let the machine run and slowly pour in half the amount of oil along with the lemon juice, salt and chili flakes. Slowly add the remaining oil until you’ve reached a good consistency (you may not need all the oil). Store in a lidded jar in the fridge for a week or freeze in small jars. You can put your pesto on pasta, sandwiches, and pizza or use it as a raw veggie dip.
For those of you wanting to spend a little extra time on the farm, we’d like to invite you to join us in the orchard for fruit thinning fun this coming Saturday morning between 9am and noon and on Sunday any time after noon. You would be most welcome to bring a picnic and spend some time hiking around the farm as well if that sounds fun to you. Bring a hat, though, to ward off the deer flies! You may want some mosquito repellent as well.
Finally, we have determined that our vacation week this year will be the week of July 19, so there will be no share distribution that day while we retreat and rest up for the rest of the season. We have found that even a few days away from the farm mid-summer makes a huge difference in our energy and attitudes at the end of the season. We hope you have similar times of rest and rejuvenation this summer!
Amy & John