CSA Newsletter: Week 1

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IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK

Romaine Lettuce // Store loosely in a plastic bag (ideally) or in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Keep unused leaves on the head. Use within a week, but likely will store up to two weeks.

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.

Spinach // Store in plastic bag in fridge. Plastic bag will help spinach retain moisture which keeps it fresh for longer. Try to use it within a week. If it gets limp or wilted, you can still use in recipes that call for cooked or wilted spinach.

Arugula // Store in plastic bag in fridge. Plastic bag will help arugula retain moisture which keeps it fresh for longer. Try to use it within a week. If it gets limp or wilted, you can still use in recipes that call for cooked or wilted greens.

Asparagus // Of all your spring goodies this week, be sure to use the asparagus first! Asparagus has a short shelf life (less than a week). Keep it banded and up-right in about an inch of water for best long-term storage. Large mason jars work well for this. Don't bother with this step if you plan to use within a couple days.

Rhubarb // Store in your fridge and use within a week. Store in a plastic bag wrapped loosely in a damp paper towel for longest life.

Radishes // Store for up to 2 weeks in a plastic bag in the fridge for longest storage. Store greens separately, ideally gently wrapped in a damp paper towel. Use the greens as quickly as possible.

Green Garlic // Green garlic is similar to a scallion or green onion and can be stored similarly. Place in the crisper drawer of your fridge and use within 5-7 days. For best storage, wrap bulbs (the white part) in a damp paper towel.

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Hello and welcome to our little CSA! We are so incredibly excited to have you all with us for the growing season!

This year we expanded our CSA a bit so we are joined by dozens of new members. We want to give a huge heartfelt hello to all you Raleigh’s Hillside Farm CSA newbies. From email exchanges, we know many of you are brand new to CSA and we just want to let you know that we are here for you and to be your guide throughout the season. We love to cook almost as much as we love to grow vegetables so please feel free to reach out with questions at any time. Lauren will be active on the CSA Facebook Group, provide you with loads of resources in these weekly newsletters, and is also so happy to receive emails and texts from members throughout the week so don’t be shy!

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And for all you returning members, thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you for your consistency, love, support and enthusiasm for all we do. By now we’ve met most of you and we’re just overjoyed to have such a tremendous group of CSA member who quickly feel like they’re turning into family. We so look forward to another year together with so much new and exciting stuff (sweet potatoes, tomatillos, orange cauliflower, add-on offerings! Hooray!). Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your loyal commitment to knowing the people who grow your food.

As you all can imagine, it’s been a challenging start to the 2018 season. The weather, though always unpredictable, has felt a bit more extreme than usual. We had snow in late April, a heat wave in late May, and our first hail storm at the farm. The rainfall, however, has been nothing short of ideal.

What does this all mean for you? Largely nothing. We lost an early crop of arugula because the row cover that protects it was filled with holes from the hail and therefore let in huge numbers of pests that devoured it. We also don’t have as much spinach as we wanted though we tripled our production because a lot of the plants bolted (aka went to seed) in the hot weather two weekends ago.  Luckily, we had over-planned and overplanted anyhow. Throughout the season you may notice that some things may be a week later than usual because our schedule was pushed back due to those frigid cold days in April.

But mostly all this crazy weather means is that we’ve had to pull slightly longer hours and are a bit more tired coming into June than in years past. But we’re really grateful that we made the leap into larger investments this winter. We have a brand new shiny Kubota tractor out at the farm and it is helping keep us on schedule despite all the curve balls the weather keeps throwing at us. And our newest crew member Kristen and worker share team has been truly tremendous this spring. All in all, we’re really impressed by how things are going and growing out in the fields.

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This week’s box is a perfect introduction to everything we’ve been working on. Outside of transplanting beautiful seedlings, there is a major emphasis on keeping all the beautiful greens well-weeded this time of year. The romaine lettuce in your box this week is massive because of all that diligent weeding paired with good rainfall. The kale and spinach too are abundant for those reasons. The bok choy, though a little holey from damaged row cover and flea beetle damage, is largely perfect due to our re-row covering of most crops following the hail storm. Our perfect radish rows have also been weeded twice despite their quick growing season thanks to a new tool that allows us to remove weeds from even root crops with precision and speed. The green garlic planted last fall is towering and elegant: a gentle reminder of the bigger bulbs growing steadily under a bed of mulch nearby.

Even the asparagus and rhubarb in your box this week, though not grown by us, is a signal of bigger things to come at Raleigh’s Hillside Farm. We hadn’t invested spring energy or funds in perennial crops like rhubarb or asparagus in the past—which is why we buy them in from certified organic friends nearby (the rhubarb is from Tipi Produce and the asparagus is a mix from King’s Hill and Lotfotl Farms)—but this year we finally put in fields of both asparagus and rhubarb! Perennial crops can be a bit more challenging as far as keeping the weeds down but we’re so excited for this progression of our little acreage. Next year the bulk of the asparagus and rhubarb received by CSA members will be grown by us!

We hope you love these veggies as much as we enjoyed growing and tending to them for you.

All our love,

-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.

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 is an amazing salad recipe below that calls for bok choy as well as one that turns bok choy and radishes into a simple slaw. 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. And as always, never forget that you can roast literally anything. The sky is the limit with this leafy green so be not afraid. You too will learn to love it!

Arugula_ looks almost like an oak leaf. Spicy and GREAT mixed into salads of other greens or on sandwiches..jpg

 

VEGGIE ID: Green garlic ↓

Doesn’t need much work! Just trim the ends and the dark green portion (much like you would a leek), chop, slice or dice and use as you would use regular garlic. I love it in salad dressings and other raw preparations that really let the flavors sing.

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IN YOUR BOX NEXT WEEK

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

Lettuce

Spinach

Arugula

Bok Choy

Kale

Kohlrabi

Broccoli

Asparagus

Rhubarb

Radishes

Turnips

Scallions

Green Garlic

Garlic Scapes

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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. 

Rhubarb Cheesecake Bars

Filling:

1 – 8oz. pkg. cream cheese

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 1/4 cup rhubarb cut in ¼” pieces

Crust:

1 C. flour

¾ cup oatmeal

½ cup packed brown sugar

¼ tsp cinnamon

Pinch salt

¼ cup butter melted

  1. Combine first 5 filling ingred. until smooth. Stir in rhubarb, set aside.
  2. Combine all crust ingred and mix well. Press half this mixture into a micro safe 8” X 8” baking dish. Pat firmly to cover bottom of dish. Pour filling over. Sprinkle remaining crust over top. Press down gently.
  3. Set in microwave on custard dish or inverted saucer. Micro on high uncovered 7 – 10 minutes. Rotate ¼ turn twice until crumbs look somewhat dry. May need to adjust time depending on power of microwave. Let stand 15 minutes. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.
  4. Since it uses the microwave, this is a great way to avoid heating up the house!

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: Wisconsin From Scratch

photo by: Wisconsin From Scratch

Asparagus & Burrato Pizza with Arugula Pesto // Asparagus, Arugula (or mixture of Arugula and Spinach), Green Garlic // Although the award for my favorite asparagus pizza (and definitely in my top 5 favorite pizzas of all time) still goes to Smitten Kitchen unequivocably for her shaved asparagus pizza, I realized while posting an Instagram story of said pizza that perhaps we need a change up. The pizza referenced and photographed above (from local food blogger Wisconsin From Scratch) is not only a soon to be classic in your household; it will also teach you how to make arugula pesto from scratch which is sure to become a spring favorite!

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free with the right crust

 photo by: Half Baked Harvest

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

Grilled Balsamic Chicken Cobb Salad // Romaine Lettuce with a bit of Arugula and maybe even some Spinach, Sub sliced Radish for Cherry Tomatoes, Asparagus, Green Garlic // This week is certainly all about salads. With abundant greens, you'd be silly not to make a couple entree style salads. This elegant gem with chicken, bacon, cheese, egg, avocado and a sweet balsamic dressing is a protein packed, luxurious change up from any boring salad you are used to. It also calls for a lot of fresh herbs we don't have in season yet. If you use a mix of romaine, spinach and arugula for the greens you'll get plenty of flavor and can skip the herbs! You could even add some shaved asparagus to the salad or green garlic to your dressing.

Gluten-Free, skip the Chicken and Bacon for Vegetarian meal

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Rhubarb Margaritas // Rhubarb // These margaritas were quite the conversation starter on a recent WPR show and it's for good reason! I love a good rhubarb dessert (which is why I listed two- one above and one below- for you to try), but every once and a while you just want to go in a different direction. Enjoy these rhubarb margaritas once you tire of rhubarb sweets.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

 photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

Bok Choy Salad with Miso Tahini Dressing & Sesame Cashew Clusters // Bok Choy // Resist the urge to make yet another stir fry with your first bok choy of the season. Make this salad (which I made a dozen times last season and even shared at our CSA party last June) instead. It will blow your mind on what is possibly with bok choy. Bonus: the tahini dressing (I sub soy sauce for miso every time!) will become a staple in your fridge!

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

 

 photo from: Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden

photo from: Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden

Roasted Radishes with Brown Butter, Chile & Honey // Radishes //  I love a good sliced radish on a salad as much as the next person, but if you aren't trying radishes in any other way you are seriously missing out. Radishes are fantastic cooked and with all these great flavors make for a fun snack. You only got enough radishes to try a half batch but I promise you'll be happy you tried it!

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

 

 photo by: the Slow Roasted Italian

photo by: the Slow Roasted Italian

Best Ever Strawberry Spinach Salad // Spinach, Sub Green Garlic for Garlic in dressing // Spinach, avocado, fruit, candied nuts, feta and a sweet delicate dressing? What's not to love?! I know berries are just coming into season so you might not have any yet but if you can, run to the farmer's market and buy some strawberries to toss on this magical salad. 

Vegetarian,  Gluten-Free

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Mushroom & Lots of Green Quiche // Arugula, Spinach, Green Garlic, other Greens (as needed) // I make a ridiculous amount of quiche this time of year. It's partially because it's quick, easy and heats up well, but it's also because as much as a I love salads, I too get overwhelmed by fresh greens. This recipe for sheet-pan quiche originally created by Smitten Kitchen uses up to 9 cups of greens! I used a mixture of spinach, arugula and kale but you could just as easily use only spinach and arugula or even add in some of those bok choy greens (or even the greens from your radishes!).

Vegetarian

 photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

Chicken Tacos with Bok Choy & Radish Slaw // Bok Choy, Radish // When life throws a lot of veggies at you, always make tacos. You’d be surprised how many fresh veggies you can turn into a simple slaw and serve over zesty chicken or beef and wrap into a corn tortilla. This recipe makes using up your Bok Choy and radishes super simple! 

 photo by: Half Baked Harvest

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler with Honey Butter Biscuits // Rhubarb // I would usually never give you a rhubarb dessert recipe that also calls for strawberries when we don’t have any strawberries and there so many great rhubarb recipes out there (see here, here and my mom's recipe above) but this one is just too damn good to pass up and is what we’ll be making this weekend! 

Vegetarian

 photo by : Smitten Kitchen

photo by : Smitten Kitchen

Chicken Caesar Salad // Romaine, throw some Green Garlic in the dressing, add some sliced Radish // Sometimes with a beauty like romaine it’s best to just keep it simple and here’s no going wrong with a beautiful Caesar salad. Here smitten kitchen makes her own croutons and salad dressing but you wouldn’t necessarily have to do either. In a pitch, store bought croutons and dressing with tender chicken, a hefty head of romaine (recipe calls for two but with the size of these this week you will certainly only need one!) and some Parmesan will make a real winner of a dinner.