CSA Newsletter: Week 20

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IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK

Bok Choy // Store unwashed in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Use within a couple days for best texture. Greens will wilt relatively quickly. Stems will retain firmness a while longer.

Lettuce Mix (Full Shares Only) // Store loosely in a plastic bag until ready to use. Should last up to a week.

Lovelock Lettuce (Half Shares Only) // Store loosely in a plastic bag until ready to use. Should last up to a week.

Beans (Half Shares Only) // Refrigerate in a plastic bag and use as soon as possible. They are quite perishable.

Broccoli (Most Full & Half Shares) // Store in the crisper drawer of the fridge. The colder the better for broccoli. Try to use within a few days.

Brussels Sprouts (Full & Half Shares who did not receive Broccoli) // Take out of plastic bag and store in a bowl or open container in the fridge. Do not trim or discard outer leaves before storage. Brussels sprouts should last up to a month this way. The outer leaves might get a little shriveled but you typically remove them anyway.

Purple-Top Turnips // Store loose in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. You can also store them in an open plastic bag to best retain moisture but they may mold faster. Either way, turnips can store weeks.

Rutabaga // Store roots separately loose in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. You can also store them in an open plastic bag to best retain moisture. Greens will last a few days. Turnips will last weeks.

Russet Potatoes // Store just like you’d store any bag of potatoes from the grocery store: in a cool, dark place. Out of the light, they should keep for at least a month.

Yellow Onions // Store along with your potatoes in a cool dark place and try to use within a couple weeks.

 photo by: Brandi Bonde

photo by: Brandi Bonde

Well, what can I say? We made it! What a truly unbelievable year of growth, strength, struggle, love, patience, and new possibilities. Even before this season became what it was (a remarkable feat of working to survive the weather) we were taking on a lot. We just keep packing more in than ever before. This year we added so many new things. A new box option (flex shares) and a new share style (market shares) were just the beginning. 

Wow, oh wow. What a year my friends! Can you believe we’re here in the midst of week 20? Can you believe we made it? Honestly, we didn’t know if we would. Yes, the weather had a lot to do with it, but we also just keep packing more and more in than ever before. 

In April, we built a second greenhouse and bought our first tractor. We had snow, we had hail and when the weather finally cleared, we hit the ground running. That next weekend was over ninety. We worked hard in the fields and in our downtime met with several phenomenal local growers and producers to figure out terms and schedules so we could offer add-on shares of flowers, apples, beef, coffee and maple syrup to our members. In May, we figured out all the logistics of how this would actually work. In June we started delivering them. It happened that fast and I loved how they turned out. We also made time to meet with contractors to figure out how to move forward with our much-needed pack shed. (We had originally planned to have it built last year only to realize the location we had in mind was totally unsuitable which caused a dramatic pivot when we decided over the winter that we would build it ourselves. The laborious task of building a second greenhouse while also trying to get a farm planted for the season taught us a quick lesson. Farmers can’t also be builders during summer). The saga of the pack shed continued. It’s still not quite complete. 

In June, it rained and rained and rained. The fields were soaked. The weeds were wild. The weekends were long and we realized quickly that our crew was essential not only for labor but for keeping us going. Their laughter and good energy was essential to our not breaking down when the work was greater than ever before. We handled it with relative ease. Things were hard but we knew how to move forward. When to reseed, when to admit defeat, and how not to lose crops to voracious weeds. 

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In July, we partied. We hosted 60+ people on a warm July night. We ate well, we played with farm cats, and we lingered around a bonfire late into the night. It was easily our most well-attended and joyous party to date, and then construction of the pack shed finally began. We lost a cat, we found another. We laughed. We cried. We savored the only dry month of the whole damn summer. 

In August, our farm hosted an educational field day for aspiring farmers. Lauren taught 50 women what it meant to be a CSA farmer, a female farmer and part of a business partnership with your spouse. The next day we taught local folks how to preserve the harvest in our newly constructed packshed and then we pulled the majority of our onions out of the field to get them curing (before the impending rains) while hosting an all-day tour of our farm. We tried to get away for Kyle’s birthday. We failed completely. We grilled everything. We worked hard. We celebrated the first patch of cement next to our new pack shed with hand, foot and paw prints. We passed our fourth organic inspection. Then the rain fell. And fell and fell. We watched the tomatoes rot on the vine. We struggled to get fall crops into soaked ground.  

September came and we took an impromptu camping trip because the fields were to wet to get anything done. We reconnected as a couple. We let it all go. We released every ounce of pain this season had caused and realized we were handling a disaster season like champs and decided we could make it to the end. We hosted our first ever wellness event—something I hope becomes a tradition out here on our farm. It was beautiful and soul-nourishing, inspiring and cathartic. We dug 1200 feet of potatoes by hand. We laughed and laughed some more. We took ridiculous pictures. We lived in our rain suits. We forgot what the sun looked like and celebrated this season for everything it was: a totally beautiful, totally ridiculous, totally out of our control mess. 

October arrived and we let out the largest sigh of relief. We had plenty of produce in the field. It wasn’t timed perfectly. It wasn’t our usual impeccable quality. It wasn’t exactly how we planned it to be. But it was there, growing strong through drenched soil. We knew we could finish the season. We knew our members would end their year with us happy and satisfied. Then we stared at our unfinished pack shed and prayed it’d get done for the harvest party. It didn’t. We partied anyway. We hosted our first ever fall harvest party. We planned so many silly activities. We laughed more than even before. 

When I look back at this past season, there is certainly some sadness. This was our double down year. Our let’s get serious about this business and invest some money in ourselves year. It was a terrible season for that. We made big investments and weren’t able to see them provide any return. In one case, we haven’t even seen it’s competition yet. 

But when I look back there is so much more than just sadness or hardship. There is also immense pride in our strength, our knowledge, and our dedication. Because a season this bad didn’t break us. In one of the worst years for weeds on record, we lost the least amount of crops to weeds that we’ve ever lost. We kept up. Despite every curve ball and challenge, we kept up. We didn’t have to take a week off the CSA at the end. We didn’t even  wind up giving any boxes that disappointed me. We fulfilled our obligations to our members and wholesale accounts despite all the odds being stacked against us. We grumbled, a little, but far less than usual. We survived. No, we THRIVED. During a year that broke many a farmer. 

It has been a year my friends. A year we will truly never forget. A year we loved deeply in-spite of the struggles. A year we will forever be in disbelief that we survived. Thank for joining us and loving us and your messages of kindness and support. 

-L&K

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veggie id: bok choy ↓

Be not afraid of that leafy green vegetable with white almost celery-looking stalks in your box this week. Bok Choy is one of the vegetables I had never heard of before we began farming that I have grown to have a deep love for. It is a member of the brassica family (I'll mention the brassica family a lot; it includes lots of popular veggies like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts as well as some odd ducks like kohlrabi, bok choy and rutabaga).

It sometimes also referred to a pac choi or Chinese cabbage. This green is mild and sweet with an almost silky texture. A lot of dark leafy greens can be bitter or harsh, but bok choy is the complete opposite. The leaves are light and tender. The stalk is crunchy and crisp.

So how do I use it?

The first step is getting it clean. We sprayed the field dirt off the bok choy, but dirt likes to hide between the layers. I fill my sink with cold water, rip off as many leaves as I plan to use and then soak them for 5-10 minutes. I rub my fingers over any dirty parts of the stem after they soak and then swish them through the water before use.

Then all that's left to do is cut it up. This will vary a little bit based on what recipe you are using, but I like to cut the stems from the leaves. I usually roughly chop the leaves and slice the stems. CSA member Ben made this great video for how to cut it up. 

What is the best way to prepare bok choy?

Because the leafy greens are so tender and the stalks so crispy, I love to eat bok choy raw in salads. There are two salad recipe belows that call for bok choy. My friend Sarah loves to grill bok choy because it stands up well to the heat. Lots of folks stir fry it or add it to soups. You can also make a quick ferment or kimchi out of it. I've also simmered it in coconut milk (ala creamed spinach, but vegan and so much better!) and that was one of my favorite simple preparation. The sky is the limit with this leafy green so be not afraid. You can learn to love it!

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VEGGIE ID: rutabaga vs purple top turnips

Rutabaga and Purple Top Turnips are not so different. They both fall into one of my favorite categories of delicious savory storage root vegetables. They are both in the brassica family and even look alike with purple tops. They have subtle almost radish or kohlrabi-esque flavor.

See the pictures below to identify but note that you can absolutely substitute one for the other without issue.

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KATHY'S RECIPE CORNER

Early on, Lauren's mom instilled in her a great love of cooking. She's always had a garden and knows what to do with abundant produce better than anyone. We hope you enjoy her classic Wisconsin preparations of summer abundance. 

Potato Pancakes // Potatoes, Onion

2 medium size potatoes, approximately 12 ounces

¼ cup butter (1/2 stick), melted

2 tablespoons. flour

¼ cup finely chopped onion

1 egg, beaten

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon baking powder

For frying, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon butter

  1. In a large bowl, melt. butter and then whisk together with next 7 ingredients. Set aside.

  2. Grate potatoes coarsely, wrap in clean kitchen towel and squeeze some of the liquid out. Stir into butter flour mixture. Heat remaining oil and butter on griddle or large skillet, use heaping tablespoon of potato mixture for each pancake, flatten. Cook until golden brown on both sides.

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box inspiration:

Every week I'll share the links to some of my favorite recipes for the produce in your box from my own blog as well as my favorite bloggers and chefs. I am a master recipe substituter so be sure to read my notes before clicking through to see what vegetables I am swapping for others and how I adapt favorite recipes time and time again with whatever is in season! Though some of the recipes I share may look complicated, I also love sharing tips for streamlining or suggesting other preparation suggestions in the notes of the recipes.

 photo by: Half Baked Harvest

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Date & Halloumi // Brussels Sprouts // Brussels Sprouts for everyone!!! Let’s celebrate by tossing them with literally all my favorite things: bacon, bread cheese (this is available all around Madison and a great substitute for halloumi) and dates!!!! Man I love fall!

Gluten-Free

 photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

Roasted Roots with Turmeric Tahini Sauce // Rutabaga, Turnip, Sub Russet Potato for sweet potato (unless you still have some), use some of the carrots from last week, and skip the parsnip altogether // This box is just begging to be roasted. All those root veggies will taste swell together, especially if covered in a delectable sauce. This simple turmeric tahini sauce is rich, vibrant, healthy and hearty at once. It’s sure to be a new favorite.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

 photo by: Dining In Cookbook

photo by: Dining In Cookbook

Blistered Green Beans with Creamy Tahini & Fresh Hot Sauce // Green Beans, leftover Jalapeno or other hot pepper // I discovered this recipe weeks ago now and have been waiting impatiently for us to have green beans again so I could share it with you. If you got sick of green beans this summer (like I did), trust me when I say you will be able to easily devour them in this delicious recipe. The heat, the creamy sauce, the char on the beans. It’s perfection. I did blanch my beans for 5 minutes first to ensure they got properly blistered while still being cooked through.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

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Crock Pot Pork Carnitas with Roasted Vegetables // Brussels Sprouts and/or Broccoli, sub Turnips, Potatoes, and/or Rutabaga for Celeriac, Sweet Potato, Parsnip & Carrots // // Slow cooker + sheet pan and a boat load of vegetables. My favorite kind of cooking. Simple, healthy, quick to pull together, delicious. What’s not to love?

Gluten-Free

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Crispy Korean Rice Bowl // Bok Choy // This particular recipes asks you to make your own kimchi (which is incredibly tasty), but that step is absolutely unnecessary. Find a great jar of spicy kimchi at your favorite local store and stick to the delicious simplicity of rice, mushrooms and some coconut braised bok choy.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free (with tamari instead of soy)

 photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

Lentil Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie // Onion, sub Turnips for the Parsnips, Rutabaga, Potatoes // My all-time favorite way to eat rutabaga is simple: mash it up and serve it with butter and a bit of maple syrup. The caramel-y notes of rutabaga make the best mashed vegetable you’ve ever had. However, it’s not November and mashed rutabaga seems a bit premature for the season. So, instead, try this. Mashed potatoes a top of slew of other veggies, mushrooms and lentils for a healthy light version of one of my favorite childhood meals.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

 photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Autumn Chopped Salad with Creamy Poppyseed Dressing // Lettuce, Arugula, Lettuce Mix // With so many beautiful greens in your box this week, you better be making a salad! With arugula, head lettuce, or lettuce mix, this recipe is destine to be a dreamy fall dish with apples, pears, bacon, dried cranberries, pecans and feta cheese.

Gluten-Free

 photo by: Half Baked Harvest

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

Roasted Sweet Potato & Salmon Soba Noodle Bowl // Bok Choy, and hopefully you have some Sweet Potato leftover // Bok Choy is such a lovely and versatile green. It’s perfect raw in salad or cooked up in a bowl of noodles. I love it here with a simple salmon, roasted sweet potatoes and spicy sauce. Yum!

Gluten-Free

 photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Root Vegetable Gratin // Onion, Potatoes, Sub Rutabaga and Turnips for Celeriac and Sweet Potato (unless you still have some lying around) // Rutabaga, turnips and potatoes can all absolutely stand alone, but I’m just in love with making them the star trio of pretty much any root vegetable dish. This lovely gratin calls for totally different vegetables (fennel, celeriac and gold potatoes) but onion, turnip, rutabaga and russet potatoes will be equally (if not more) delicious.

Vegetarian

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Raw Broccoli Salad with Fried Onions & Peanuts // Broccoli, Onion // A salad of raw veggies massaged in a mixture of oil, vinegar, sugar and fish sauce topped with fried things and crunchy salty nuts. How decadent! Here’s to more salads that don’t feel like salads. PS.I originally made this salad without kale so feel free to just make it with the broccoli. But also, if you got arugula and broccoli, maybe throw some of that beautiful arugula into the mix.

Vegetarian, Vegan