CSA Newsletter: Week 8

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IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK

Watermelon!!!!!!!!! (full shares only) // Store in the fridge. Once cut open, store leftover melon in the fridge wrapped with a  plastic wrap. The flesh will dry out if left exposed. Use them quickly.

Broccoli (full shares only + a few half shares who do not receive cauliflower) // Store in the crisper drawer of the fridge. The colder the better for broccoli. Try to use within a few days. 

Cauliflower (half shares only) // Cauliflower does not store well. Keep in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge, but try to eat within 5 days. It takes on strange flavors after that. Also, soak the head upside down in cool, salty water before use. Garden bests love to hide out in organic cauliflower.

Beans // Refrigerate in a plastic bag and use as soon as possible. They are quite perishable.

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.

Zucchini & Summer Squash // Zucchini and summer squash spoil most quickly in very warm or very cool temperatures. They can be stored in the crisper drawer of your fridge, but try to use within a week as they will get soggy quickly in there.

Cucumbers // Store in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Try to use within one week.

Green Italian Frying Pepper // Refrigerate peppers, unwashed, in the vegetable drawer. Moisture makes them spoil faster so don’t store in a plastic bag..

Daikon Radish // Daikon always seems to last for forever in the crisper drawer of my fridge, especially if it has not been cut. It will get a little soggier the longer you store it, but will still work quite well pickled. You within a month and you should be a-okay.

Fennel (full shares only) // Store the bulbs in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. 

Walla Walla Onion // Fresh onions, which are freshly harvested and have not been cured, should be stored in the crisper drawer of your fridge until ready to use. They will last about a week.

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Hey CSA members!

This week I want to tell you a little story. I want to step away from the fields and the monstrous harvests and the non-stop to do lists to share something a bit bigger with you all.

When Kyle and I started out, we were fresh out of college with next to no experience and next to no money. We were captivated by the CSA model and passionate about changing our food system while being kind to the Earth, but we had no idea what we were in for. I’d describe that first phase of our business as scrappy. And honest, and vulnerable, and quite the learning and growing experience, and also quite the crash course in what works and what doesn’t work in a marriage and partnership.  

Kyle and I always said that if we made it through five years of running a vegetable farm together and we were a) earning a semblance of a living, b) still enjoying ourselves, and c) still enjoying working side by side then we would commit to another five years.

And here we are, we made it to year six. You, dear members, are part of something really exciting for us this year. You are part of this next phase of our little business. If the first five years were scrappy, the goal for these next five years is for them to be planful, strategic and balanced. We’re doing this in a lot of ways: we’re setting up better systems, we’re doing more field walks to prioritize what needs to be done, we’re managing more people. But this year in particular, we’re doing something really huge. We’re taking on debt for the first time in this business and taking a chance by investing in ourselves.

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Kyle and I have always been pretty cautious and risk averse. It’s daunting to go from no debt in our business to thousands of dollars in the red, but the investments we’re making now will hopefully lead to a more sustainable lifestyle down the road. Because scrappy was fun (not to mention one hell of a beautiful adventure), but scrappy isn’t something we can sustain. 

If you’ve been watching and following along on social media, you’ve already seen a lot of these investments. We purchased a brand-new Kubota tractor, our first tractor, this spring and it’s allowing us to work soil faster, keep weeds down, turn over beds more efficiently, and better utilize cover crops. Because of the time we saved in the spring with the tractor, we were able to plant entire fields of our first perennial crops: asparagus and rhubarb. This April, Kyle also doubled the size of our greenhouse so that we can fit more plants, expand our seedling sales and have designated temperature zones for the different temperatures crops need to grow. We also worked with my parents to double the size of their well to ensure we have enough capacity for irrigation and spent a few thousand dollars on some new hand tools designed specifically for vegetable farmers working on our scale.

We’ve done a lot already to move the farm forward, and last week we finally broke ground on the grandest project of them all. We hired a builder this spring. Last week he began construction on our new pack shed: a 32-foot by 32-foot pole shed building where we will wash, store and pack our produce.

Believe it or not, in five years of farming, we have never washed our vegetables under a roof. We’ve been washing veggies behind my parents’ home on a cement slab with minimal drainage, driving clean vegetables to our tiny cooler 500 feet away, and packing them in my parents’ garage on Wednesday mornings. This process, aside from being terribly inefficient, has been hard on our backs and limiting in ways I can’t even begin to describe here.

With the new shed will come a new cooler (once we find the time to build it) and a space of better systems, more efficient processes and level of organization we’re desperate for. We want the building to be finished immediately, but like everything, it takes time. Our builder is juggling dozens of contracts and everyone wants him to complete their building first. We’ve got a shell of a building that’s in need of walls and a roof, then a cement floor that will need two weeks to set before we get started on that new cooler. But at least it's on the horizon. 

It’s a giant year of growth for our business and farm. The fields are fuller than they’ve ever been and alongside the 50% growth in production, we’ve got all these new investments to build, purchase, learn to use and manage. We bit off a lot in year 6 and I'd be lying if I told you we weren't completely overwhelmed the majority of the time. We’re tired, but our heads are still high. We feel ready for fall and it’s not even August, but we’re so proud of the food we’re producing. We're fatigued but we'll get there. We'll make it through this chaotic year of growth just like we've made it through every challenge that came before this. Thanks to you all for your love, your unyielding support and for coming along on this crazy ride.

-L&K

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VEGGIE ID: daikon radish↓

Daikon is not all that different from a regular radish (crisp and sweet with a little bit of spice). The main difference is just that it's MUCH larger. Daikon can get anywhere from 3-15 inches long. You can enjoy them raw, sliced, shaved, or cut into matchsticks. They add a great crunch to pretty much any dish with just a very subtle spice. I especially love to pickle them and toss them on sandwiches or grain bowls.

Have fun experimenting and if you want to learn more about this unique veggie: head over to Food 52 where they give you loads of  information and ideas for how to use it.

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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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IN YOUR BOX NEXT WEEK

You can expect 9-11 of these items in your box next week

Melons

Sweet Corn

Cherry Tomatoes or Regular Tomatoes

Beans

Broccoli

Cucumbers

Pickling Cucumbers

Zucchini

Summer Squash

Sweet Pepper

Hot Pepper

Daikon Radish

New Potatoes

Shallots

Garlic

Mixed Herbs (Parsley, Basil, Thyme, Sage, Mint, Chives)

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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. 

Creamy Cucumbers // Cucumbers, Walla Walla Onion
This recipe is a class from my childhood. Just taking a bite gives me a major case of nostalgia. It's one of my favorite things that my mom makes and I literally eat it by the bowlful for lunch, dinner, snack, whatever. I've changed up her original recipe that calls for 2/3 cup Miracle Whip and swapped in half mayo, half Greek yogurt to lighten things up a bit, but overall it's still the flavors I've loved since I was 10 years old. And a great way to use up way too many cucumbers.

Serves 8-10
Takes 20 minutes + a couple hours to let the flavors really soak in

4 cucumbers, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 Walla Walla onion (usually it's a whole onion but these things are MASSIVE!)
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup Greek yogurt
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons white vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Layer cucumbers and onions in a large bowl. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Pour dressing over veggies and let marinade in fridge for at least an hour and up to 24.

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: Food Network

photo by: Food Network

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats // Zucchini or Summer Squash (or a combination,), Onion, sub canned Tomatoes if you don't have any in your own garden, add Fennel if you've got it // Who here has made zucchini boats?! I think these things are so much fun. They always remind me of my childhood and the abundance of my mom's garden. This recipe calls for zucchini but zucchini or summer squash both make excellent "boats". 

 photo by: 

photo by: 

Fennel, Radish & Cucumber Salad // Fennel (sub Walla Walla onion if you don't have any fennel), sub Daikon Radish for regular radish, Cucumber // It's the time of year when thinking should not be required. Most veggies taste great together so just slice and dice and toss them with a little olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper for the easiest of meals. Add a piece of grilled meat and voila! You've got a robust healthy meal on  your hands. 

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

 photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

Daikon Radish & Soba Noodles with Ginger Sauce // Daikon Radish, Bok Choy, skip the Scallions and use sliced Walla Walla instead, skip the Carrots or use Beets from last week // A simple noodle bowl with tiny slivers of beautiful daikon and sauteed bok choy amped up with some hearty chickpeas and a protein-packed fried egg. Breakfast or dinner of champions.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

 photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Cucumber Lemonade // Cucumbers // Too many cucumbers you say? Well I think it's about time you start drinking them. This cucumber lemonade is amazing exactly as written, but if you were to do a variation of this beverage with say some gin or some other favorite liquor, well let's just say there would be no judgment from over here.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

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Summer Squash Tuna Cassarole Melt // Summer Squash, Onion, Pepper // I'm not an especially big fan of tuna or tuna melts (or casseroles for that matter) so imagine my surprise when I found a recipe like this in my new favorite fancy cookbook (Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden). I made it one night in a pinch when we had a ton of summer squash in our fridge and not much else and I was so pleasantly surprised that I've made it three times now. Hope you enjoy as much as we did! 

 photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Obsessively Good Avocado Cucumber Salad // Cucumbers, sub Onion for scallions (unless you happen to still have scallions in your fridge), Parsley or Basil // The name says it all. This salad is obsessively good. I love to grill or roast some salmon and eat this salad on the side for the most simple dinner. 

Vegetarian, Vegan (with the right mayo substitute)

 photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

Charred Green Beans with Harissa Yogurt // Green Beans // Have I convinced you to just grill everything yet? It's really just never the wrong answer. These green beans are heaven and the spicy yogurt sauce they're served with is equally to die for. 

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

 photo by: Bev Cooks

photo by: Bev Cooks

Seared Salmon with Gnocchi and Roasted Cauliflower // Cauliflower, Basil or Parsley // This time of year as the abundance really begins, simplicity is key. A simple piece of seared salmon. A bag of pasta dropped into boiling water. A pan of roasted cauliflower. All showered with a quick sauce of fresh herbs. There's nothing better. 

 photo by: Gourmet RD

photo by: Gourmet RD

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread // Zucchini // The solution to too much zucchini (or summer squash) is absolutely without a doubt always zucchini bread. This recipe earns bonus points for really just being a cake- but feeling a tad more healthy thanks to the vegetables in the batter. Yum!

Vegetarian

 photo by: Minimalist Baker

photo by: Minimalist Baker

Vegan Sloppy Joes // Walla Walla, Green Pepper // Okay okay, this really only calls for two CSA box ingredients so I know its kind of silly to share but I made these last week and was blown away by the fact that they are every bit as reminesient of the sloppy joe's of my childhood while still being vegan and relatively healthy. This is a fun recipe to try whether or not you have a hard time using up your green pepper and onion.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free (with the right buns)

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Bahn Mi Burgers // Cucumber, Daikon Radish, skip the Basil if you don't have any, use Jalapeno from last week if you have it or some pickled peppers if you don't // There is nothing, literally nothing, I don't love about this burger. The combination of spicy mayo, creamy crunchy cucumber, fresh basil, spicy jalapenos and pickled daikon all on a simple pork patty seasoned with garlic, curry and lime. It's perfection.

 photo by: Taste of Home

photo by: Taste of Home

Yellow Summer Squash Relish // Summer Squash, Onion, Pepper // Oh how I love a good relish. This tasty summer squash treat is perfect for serving over pork chops or on a brat, though I'm sure there are dozens of ways to use it. 

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free