CSA Newsletter: Week 5

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IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK

Broccoli (some half shares did not receive broccoli but more snap peas instead) // Store in the crisper drawer of the fridge. The colder the better for broccoli. Try to use within a few days. 

Rainbow Chard // Do not wash chard before storage. Wrap in a plastic bag and try to remove most of the air from the bag. Store in the fridge and try to use within a few days.

Lettuce Mix // Store loosely in a plastic bag (ideally) or in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Lettuce mix is much more perishable than lettuce so try to use immediately or within a couple days.

Snap Peas // Peas are very perishable. Keep them in the fridge and eat within 2-3 days for best flavor. Snap peas are best eaten fresh, but snow peas can be used in cooking (and taste delicious) after a few days.

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.

Jalapeno // Hot peppers keep well in the fridge, especially in the crisper drawer. I often keep hot peppers in a plastic bag so that they don’t spread their heat or flavor to other fridge items.

Fennel // Remove delicate leaves (also known as fronds) before storage if you plan to use. Store the bulbs in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Store the leaves in a moist paper towel in the fridge and use within a week.

Scallions // Store in the veggie drawer of your refrigerator and try to use within a week. If you use after a week, you can peel off the dry and/or “slimy” outer layer of the scallion.

Parsley (full shares) // Store in the fridge in a small glass with about an inch of water, stem side down (like flowers in a vase) for best storage.

Basil (half shares) // Store in a plastic bag that is twisted closed but still has plenty of air., preferably in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Some leaves may start to blacken in places but the majority of the basil should last up to a week.

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Hello! How is everyone? Did you all have a fantastic 4th of July and 4th of July weekend despite the heat? With the rescheduled delivery, we actually allowed ourselves to take the majority of the day off on July 4th (which is pretty much unheard of this time of year). After a quick zucchini harvest and transplanting the second planting of sweet corn, we retired to our house by early afternoon for some backyard hanging, games and fireworks with Kyle’s parents.

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And boy did we need that mid-week break. This June has definitely been our most exhausting one yet. Not exhausting because of our lack of skill or our lack of essential tools and infrastructure (which have certainly made past Junes tenuous), this June was exhausting because of the weather. The days have been warm (every day in June was above average temperature) and the rain has been falling in just the wrong way rendering our crew much less effective (because no one, including us, can work at full capacity or full speed in the rain and mud) and styming our best laid plans for an “easier” start to the season.

If you’ve noticed, most of the storms have been passing through on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays over the past month. And they have been strong storms accompanied by high winds and inches of rain. It’s been so much rain at one time that the fields get soaked and remain that way for three or four days (the days our crew is at the farm) making it impossible to plant or weed with hand tools and infinitely more time consuming to harvest. Then when the soil is finally ready to be worked, it’s Friday and our crew is off for three days so we are left to finish up the remaining tasks pulling long days in incredibly warm weather.

It hasn’t been an ideal cycle of weather, but it’s by far the best we’ve ever handled such ups, downs, and struggles on our farm. Even though we haven’t always been able to utilize them at full capacity, we did invest in the right tools this winter to work efficiently when we could work. And even though we haven’t been able to work our employees to their full potential, we did hire a kick butt crew this year and their positivity and joy through what could be miserable days is uplifting in ways I can’t even explain.

We’re beginning to realize how essential these big winter decisions really are in making it through the wacky weather and less than ideal conditions inherent in farming. It’s easy to plan for the best, but perhaps the people who succeed in farming are the ones who know how to plan for the worst. So, although we’ve had to pull longer hours on the weekends than I’d ever imagined and in hotter, tougher conditions, I guess you could say we’ve found a lot of silver linings.

First of all, we did it. We had the knowledge and know how to keep our heads up, stay positive and keep moving forward knowing that we’d make it through. And though we’ve been tired, we weren’t stressed. Every challenge felt surmountable. Plus, all the hard work is paying off. The fields are beautiful. It’s a true Eden out here. We can’t wait to show the fields off on Saturday at our rescheduled CSA open house! Hope to see you all out at the farm on the what is looking to be the most beautiful weekend we’ve had yet this summer!

Deep summer love and gratitude,

Lauren & Kyle

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VEGGIE ID: RAINBOW CHARD ↓

There's a green in your box this week that you may or may not be familiar with. It has giant leaves and colorful stems. It's rainbow chard and it's the best rainbow chard we've ever grown at our farm so expect a good amount of it!

Chard is a beautiful tender green that can be added to pretty much any dish from scrambled eggs to pizza (see amazing pizza below I made last night with chard instead of kale) to soups to pasta or eaten raw in a salad. The colorful stems should be removed before working with the leaves but can also be eaten. The colorful stems do great sauteed but take a bit longer to cook then the leaves, which is why I always remove them.

If chard is stumping you, check out this resource from Bon Appetit that lists 31 recipes that utilize rainbow chard.

If you are overwhelmed by greens, always remember that dark leafy greens (chard, kale, collards, spinach) stand up well to freezing for winter soup making. Find freezing tips in the recipe/box inspiration portion of the newsletter.

 photo cred: Rachel Joy Barehl

photo cred: Rachel Joy Barehl

VEGGIE ID: FENNEL ↓

Fennel is one of those vegetables that everyone thinks they don't like just because they don't know how to use it yet. I know because I was one of those people for a very long time. Fennel is a beautiful vegetable used in a lot of Italian cooking.  It's got a white bulb, green stalk and beautiful scented fronds at the top.  You can eat all of these things but most commonly folks eat the bulb or the fronds.

The bulb is pretty comparable to an onion (and can be used as such) but has a slightly anise (black licorice) flavor. I think this is why it gets such a bad wrap. Because people hate black licorice (I do too!). But anise is actually a flavor used in lots of common favorites like Italian sausage and pepperoni. When it's subtle it adds a lot to a dish. I know this is a less of a description of a vegetable and more of me begging you to try a vegetable, but I'm begging you people, try the fennel in one of the recipes below! You might be surprised! Also, here's an awesome article from a chef in Columbus, Ohio asking you to do the same :)

So how do I use it?

Because lots of people are stumped by fennel, there are lots of great tutorials online for how to cut it up. You will cut the bulb away from the stalks in an angle matching the shape of the fennel and then slice off the bottom where the fennel sat on the ground. Place the fennel flat on it's base and slice it in half lengthwise. From there you'll see a little core near the bottom of each half. It will look solid and triangular. Remove that and then get to chopping! This link will teach you how to slice, dice and shave it. I most often shave it because I love how delicate it is when added to any dish, but this is much easier with a mandolin than trying to do by hand. This link will teach you how to store and use every part of the vegetable.

What is the best way to prepare fennel?

Honestly, you can keep it so simple with fennel. You can shave it and throw it on pizza or in pasta. You can roughly chop it and throw it in a stew or braise. You can slice it and grill it (I'm so excited to try this over the weekend!). You can use a similar technique and roast it in the oven. You can shave it and toss it with some apple and lemon juice  for a quick salad. You can throw it in a quiche or a tart. You can really do a ton.

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IN YOUR BOX NEXT WEEK

You can expect 8-9 of these items in your box next week

Red Cabbage

Chard

Collards

Broccoli

Snow Peas

Snap Peas

Beets

Cucumbers

Zucchini

Summer Squash

Bell Pepper

Jalapeno

Onion

Basil

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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. 

Zucchini Pie

1 8-ounce package refrigerated crescent rolls                          

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter                                                                             

½ teaspoon black pepper

4 cups thinly sliced zucchini                                                           

2 eggs, lightly beaten

¼ cup chopped scallions                                                                   

2 cups shredded cheese – fontina, jack or swiss works best

3 tablespoons fresh parsley (or basil), chopped                                                       

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

Preheat oven to 375⁰. Unroll crescent roll dough. If using dough sheet, you can place it in the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 11 X 7” dish. If using traditional crescent roll dough, place points of each triangle in center of 9” or 10” pie plate. Press to seal seams and press dough up sides. Melt butter in lg. skillet,  gently saute’ onion and zucchini until just tender, ~ 12 minutes.

Gently stir all herbs and seasonings into zucchini mixture, set aside. Stir up eggs in a small bowl, pour over zucchini mixture, sprinkle cheese over. Fold together, spoon over crescent crust. Bake until set, 35 – 40 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving . Can serve warm or at room temperature.

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

Garden Greens Goddess Pizza // Zucchini, Sub Chard for Kale (remove the stems and save for another use), Basil, add Shaved Fennel, skip the Arugula/Watercress (unless you still happen to have some lying around) // I love a good veggie pizza and this one is going to be on rotation this summer for two veggies that can overwhelm me quickly (abundant zucchini and abundant greens). You likely won't have enough basil in your box this week to make pesto so feel free to use prepared pesto from the grocery store instead of making your own, and save the fresh leaves for topping the pizza at the end. I also recommend you add a 1/4 cup of very thinly sliced fennel before baking or some fronds after it's finished. 

P.S. Let shaved zucchini be your new favorite method for using the summer treat!

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free (with the right crust)

 photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

Simple Zucchini & Leek Soup // Zucchini, Sub 1 Fennel & 2-3 Scallions for Leeks & Garlic, Sub Fennel Fronds for Dill, thick about adding the Jalapeno // I know with this hot weather we've been having it doesn't exactly feel like soup season but I promise it's worth it. Though my favorite recipe developer found a beautiful combination in zucchini and leeks, we almost never have these veggies at the same time so I tried zucchini and fennel instead and it was LOVELY. A match made in heaven. Hope

Vegetarian (with the right broth), Gluten-Free

 photo by: Bon Appetit

photo by: Bon Appetit

Freeze your greens! // Kale, collards, chard, spinach // These are the optimal steps for freezing abundant CSA greens if you are tight on space. It will tell you to blanch, submerge in an ice bath and squeeze the liquid out of your greens. These are definitely the best steps for storing greens compactly. But know that chopping and freezing raw will also work just fine (though it will take up more space!).

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Vegan

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Snow Pea, Fennel & Pickled Strawberry Salad // Sub Snap Peas for Snow Peas (or use a combination if you still have snow peas left from last week), Fennel, Scallions, add fresh Basil or Parsley // I was always hesitant to use a lot of raw fennel in a dish before this recipe. I didn't realize that the technique of soaking it in ice water (with scallions) would make the flavors so much more mild and lovely. This salad is super simple even though it asks you to pickle strawberries, it's essentially just cutting up veggies and tossing together in a bowl with some nuts and olive oil. The pickled strawberries come together in 5 minutes and will teach you a technique you may use throughout the summer. I love adding quick pickles to almost any salad to add a bit of brightness.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

 photo by: Sunset Magazine

photo by: Sunset Magazine

Pasta alla Gricia with Slivered Snap Peas // Snap Peas, add Jalapeno, Basil or Parsley // It’s not often I eat pasta and it’s not often I want to use my snap peas in any way other than by the handful as I quickly shovel them into my mouth, but this recipe changed all that. It’s a bit of effort making the cacio e pepe butter (aka black pepper and parmesan butter), but I promise you it’s so worth it. Toss some basil, parsley and/or minced jalapeno into the butter before you allow it to firm up for a real treat. 

 photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Creamed Chard & Spring Onions // Chard, Scallions, add Fennel // This dish is rich, no doubt about it, but it's also pure heaven with a silky white sauce. We added fennel and served this with grilled steak and a simple salad (see below). Simple, hearty, decadent. 

Vegetarian

 photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

Grilled Sugar Snap Peas with Spicy Peanut Sauce // Snap Peas // I know most folks will just eat their snap peas straight out of the bag, but in case you didn't get enough grilling in this past week, I want to open your mind to the wonderful world of grilled snap peas. They are one of the most amazing summer treats I've ever experienced. The spicy peanut sauce is also out of this world.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

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Broccoli Basil Quiche // Broccoli, Basil, Scallions, add Fennel and Jalapeno // This recipe, featured in the Asparagus to Zucchini cookbook we sell, is a new favorite. I never thought of putting broccoli in quiche for some reason until I was asked to make this recipe for my friends at FairShare (my photos ended up being featured alongside the recipe in a great article about CSA for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). The recipe does call for prepared basil, but I say skip making the pesto and just add 2-3 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil instead! I also added about 1/4 cup very thinly sliced fennel to this dish when I made it recently and it was lovely!

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free (with the right crust)

Simple Salad // Lettuce Mix, Fennel, Scallions, Basil or Parsley if you like // I love fresh crunchy summer salads that have little more for ingredients than the produce in your box. Cooking with vegetables can be so much simpler than we think it is. This salad is a bed of greens topped with thinly sliced fennel, sliced scallion and cubed avocado alongside my favorite sweet dressing (Papaya Poppyseed from Annie's Organics). The citrus pairs perfectly with the fennel! You could also add some fresh herbs if you don't have another purpose for them.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

 photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Broccoli Melts // Broccoli, consider adding some Fennel & Scallions instead of the garlic, maybe some Basil or Parsley too // Broccoli is always an easy vegetable to cook with but I still like to find fun preparations that go a bit beyond the ordinary. These broccoli melts are simple and silly and as great for a party as they are for a quick dinner. 

Vegetarian, Gluten Free (with the right bread)