CSA Newsletter: Week 2

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IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK

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

Kohlrabi (Large Shares Only) // The kohlrabi bulb will last up to a month in the fridge. Use within a couple weeks if you plan to eat it raw.

Asparagus (Large Shares who do not receive Broccoli, and all Small Shares)** // 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.

Cabbage // Cabbage is one of the best storage vegetables. It can easily last three weeks to two months. You don’t need to do much to it. Keep it in the fridge in the crisper drawer. A plastic bag can help retain moisture, but it doesn’t matter much. The two outside leaves are used as storage leaves. Remove them before eating.

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.

Lovelock 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.

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 (with greens!) // Store for up to 2 weeks in a plastic bag in the fridge. Store greens separately, ideally gently wrapped in a damp paper towel. Use the greens as quickly as possible.

Turnips (with greens!) // Store for up to 2 weeks in a plastic bag in the fridge. Store greens separately, ideally gently wrapped in a damp paper towel. Use the greens as quickly as possible.

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.

Garlic Scapes // Garlic scapes will last up to three weeks loosely wrapped in plastic in your fridge. They also freeze extremely well; just chop and freeze!

**The asparagus you’ll be receiving from us this year is certified organic from Little Heathen’s Farm north of Stoughton. Though we did put an asparagus patch in last year, it takes a couple years to really begin producing so for now we’ll be buying in from our friends.

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Alright, so now that we got all of that storytelling out-of-the-way and you know little bit about us, our partnership, and our evolution as a farm over the past seven years, let’s get talking about this season because if you’ve been reading the headlines, you’ll likely know it’s been a pretty rough spring for farmers. Plagued with torrential storms throughout the month of May and not enough sunshine or warmth to keep the plants growing at a normal rate, it’s fair to say conditions have not been favorable for anyone trying to grow things for a living.

All in all, we can’t really complain. Our planting windows have been tight, our fields have not been worked in the ways we want (to work towards healthier, happier soils), and things are way behind schedule, but we have friends and neighbors who were literally under water for weeks and we feel pretty insulated from that on our little hillside. We feel grateful that we didn’t have to deal with any actual standing water or flood damage, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.

Our farming season generally begins in the fields during the third week of April. By then, all the things we seeded in early March are ready to be transplanted into the ground if weather conditions allow. We planned to get our onions, kale and the first field of brassica crops (broccoli plantings one & two, three plantings of cabbage, and one of kohlrabi) planted that week. When April 16th rolled around, conditions were basically perfect.

It was dry for five or six days straight with a storm at the end to water in all our transplants. We had a crew member who was able to start at the beginning of our season (for the first time ever!) and Kyle had no commitments away from the farm (he’d spent the past six seasons splitting his time between the farm and a greenhouse where he worked during March, April and May). We got the plants we wanted into the ground with time leftover to focus on getting our walk-in cooler built. Everything felt balanced and organized. That continued for another week until the late April blizzard. We were fearful of negative effects to all our young plants, but also knew from experience that plants were freakishly resilient and that snow would likely provide insulation for the below-zero temperatures.  We did what we could, focused on the positive, and everything made it through without issue.

Then came the real tough stuff, the rain and the cloud cover and the temperatures that refused to rise. Most farmers in our region are saying this is the wettest spring they’ve ever experienced. Others go so far as to say its quite possibly the wettest spring on record, and definitely the most rain in May in the last 20 years. Given any of those stats, we feel pretty grateful to have been able to stay mostly on track. Our planting schedule kept pushing a couple days behind and now it’s a solid 10 days from where we would like it to be, but generally we have stayed on top of the weeds and the plants look healthy and happy.

The two main concerns at this point are 1) that our plants are getting stressed having to deal with the compacted soils they were planted into (to be able to stay on schedule we had to till and do field work in less than ideal conditions thus packing the soil down a bit with the weight of our tractor—plants don’t like compacted soils because they have to put a LOT of energy into growing roots, and 2) the cool temperatures are keeping things small. Aside from a few crops that are rocking the cool days, cooler nights and lack of sunshine (peas, cabbage, lettuce, onions), a lot of crops are straggling along at a snail’s pace.  

We know that some of our early boxes might not look exactly how we wanted them to or thought they would, but as usual, farming is a practice in finding your zen. We can make plans but they rarely are able to come to fruition. Mother Nature always has a plan of her own. And like it or not, we can’t speed the plants up. We can only continue planting, harvesting what’s ready, weeding in every spare moment, and keeping our heads held high because things will catch up (as they always do).

And once again we’re reminded why CSA is the most beautiful business model that exists for farmers: it’s all about taking the trade-offs (of less asparagus but early cabbage; of less spinach, but more kohlrabi; of delayed snow peas but beautiful turnips with greens out of a storybook) and communicating them well with our community of supporters. Every year and every season has a mind of its own. CSA makes it our job to ride these waves and take you along with us. It’s a model I never take for granted and I never tire of. So once again, sincere thanks for being here. We’re so jazzed to be riding these farming waves with you.

-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 washed the field dirt off the bok choy, but dirt still 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!

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VEGGIE ID: Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage or brassica family. It is directly translated as cabbage turnip in German and that really alludes to the flavor. This vegetables has a strong brassica flavor. Once you remove the green or purple skin (more on that below), it essentially looks like a turnip, but tastes like cabbage. Kohlrabi retains a lot of water so it's crisp but softens when you cook with it. It is especially happy growing in cooler temperatures which is why you see them a lot in late spring or fall, but they are easy to grow year-round. The leaves are edible and can be compared to collards, but because you're already receiving so many greens this week (and because we weren't sure they'd fit in the box), we removed the greens.

So how do I use it?

You just want to eat the white interior part of the kohlrabi, not the green or purple skin. You will need to peel it before cooking with it (but leave the skin on while it's in the fridge for best storage). I do this with a knife not a vegetable peeler.  You want to remove both the peel and the fibrous tough skin beneath the peel. To do this, I cut off the top and bottom first so the kohlrabi can sit flat on my cutting board and then move down the sides with my knife, following the curve of the kohlrabi and letting the skin fall away. Once you are left with the semi-round peeled vegetable, you can cut into into chunks, matchsticks or slice it thinly depending on the recipe.

What is the best way to prepare kohlrabi?

You can eat kohlrabi a lot of different ways. You can just cut it into sticks and eat it raw with some veggie dip for a quick snack. You can use it raw in practically any salad (I added it to my favorite broccoli salad and it was amazing!) or make a salad that is all about highlighting the unique veggie. Cookie & Kate's Crispy Apple & Kohlrabi Slaw is delicious. I also love Wisconsin from Scratch's Spicy Thai Kohlrabi Salad. If you are nervous about eating it raw, you can also cook with it. I love it just simmered in some milk and then mashed like potatoes (especially if you throw in some of that green garlic!). You can roast it with other veggies just like you would a turnip. Things I Made Today turned them into gnocchi with kale. I've even seen it grated and turned into fritters! Try a few different methods and figure out which way you like kohlrabi best!

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VEGGIE ID: Garlic Scapes

An edible shoot that hard-neck garlic puts out in the spring. It is the plant trying to flower and reproduce and we have to cut this shoot off before it flowers so that the garlic puts energy into its bulb. Luckily, this shoot is edible and delicate and everything good about garlic in one little crunchy green ribbon. Munch on them raw, mince and put on your asparagus pizza (below), or use in salad dressing. The sky is the limit. If you love garlic, you will love these beauties. 

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IN YOUR BOX NEXT WEEK

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

Head Lettuce

Cabbage

Broccoli

Kohlrabi

Radish with Greens

Turnip with Greens

Beets

Scallions

Chard

Collards

Peas

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 Italian Sausage Pasta

5 cups dry pasta of choice, I used rotini

1 – 1 ¼ pound (6) favorite Italian Sausage links

1 bunch scallions

1-2 green garlic or garlic scape

8 ounces sliced mushrooms

½ teaspoon crushed rosemary

¼ teaspoon pepper

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons flour

1 ½ cups half & half cream

½ - ¾ cup flavorful shredded cheese i.e. fontina, asiago, etc.

1/2 cup reserved pasta water

1 cup milk

4 cups or more lightly packed chopped hearty greens (this is a great place to use your turnip or radish greens— or even bok choy leaves would work!)

  1. Cook pasta according to package or until al dente’.

  2. Meanwhile in a large skillet add a couple teaspoons olive oil and brown sausages well on both sides. Poke a few holes in the sausage with fork or knife tip. Add mushrooms, scallions and green garlic or garlic scapes and seasonings. Cover pan and saute for a few minutes until veggies are tender and sausage is almost cooked.

  3. Remove sausage to cutting board. Add flour to skillet and stir into veg juices. Cook a couple minutes. Add half & half, cook and stir until thickened. Stir in cheese. Slice sausage into bite size pieces and add to skillet. Add reserved pasta water and pasta, stir until combined.

  4. Stir in 1 milk and greens, stir to combine, cover and over very low temp, heat until greens are wilted.

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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.

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Broccoli & Kohlrabi Salad // Broccoli, Kohlrabi, Scallions // I've always been a huge fan of broccoli salad (especially when the broccoli is cut into very small, tender pieces as it is here). I love the combination of sweet dried fruits, crunchy roasted nuts, sharp raw scallions, and a creamy, tangy dressing all over a pile of fresh broccoli. This recipe is even better because of the small cubes of delicate kohlrabi. I eat bowl after bowl of this stuff for as long as the broccoli is in season and you really should too!

Vegetarian, Vegan

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Midwest Bok Choy Ramen Salad // Uses Bok Choy, Scallions, feel free to add julienned Radishes to the salad for extra crunch and minced Garlic Scapes to the dressing // I’m not sure if everyone else grew up with ramen noodle salad aka “Chinese Coleslaw” but this is a Kathy Wells (my mother) classic. It’s usually made with that bagged coleslaw mix but I wanted to play around with some spring veggies and it brings me back to my childhood while feeling a bit healthier. I did keep the ramen noodles because that’s such a key component of the original. I know it’s silly but dang it’s tasty. Oh and yes, the ramen noodles do go in raw. You want that crunch.

Vegetarian with the right Ramen packet

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Spicy Pork Tacos with Scallion Green Garlic Chimichurri & Radishes // Uses Scallions, Radishes, sub Garlic Scapes for the Green Garlic, and use whatever herbs or greens you feel like (chopped really small) // With the help of a crock pot and a food processor, this meal comes together easily in 15 minutes on a week night. Plus the flavors are out of this world. What a weeknight win!

Gluten-Free with corn tortillas

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

BLK Sandwich // Uses Lettuce, Kohlrabi, sub Garlic Scapes for Garlic, skip the Basil // Substituting kohlrabi for tomatoes seems a bit strange, I know, but trust me that this sandwich made entirely of vegetables, bread and bacon is simple spring perfection. Andrea Bemis of Dishing up the Dirt, the woman who created this recipe, also happens to be a master of great vegan substitutions like cashew mayo. But for this recipe, which has bacon (and is therefore absolutely not vegan) I sub mayo for the cashews for a quicker sandwich spread.

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Spinach, Turnip & Green Garlic Dip // Uses Turnip (or Radish), sub Turnip Greens and Radish Greens for spinach, sub Garlic Scapes for Green Garlic //  My veggie-centric riff on Spinach & Artichoke Dip. Everything you need when feeling overloaded by salad.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

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Cabbage & Snow Pea Rice Bowl with Warm Coconut Peanut Sauce // Uses Cabbage, Radish, Scallion, leave out the Snow Peas // A bowl of warm rice topped with abundant veggies and a creamy, rich peanut sauce? Is there a better way to get through your CSA box? I think not.

Vegetarian, Vegan (with a substitute for fish sauce used), Gluten Free

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

Chicken Tacos with Bok Choy & Radish Slaw // uses 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! 

Gluten Free with the right tortillas

photo by: Dishing Up The Dirt

photo by: Dishing Up The Dirt

Buttered Radish & Ricotta Toast // Uses Radish // Buttered radishes over ricotta-slathered toast is pretty much everything we all need for breakfast. Even without the sumac and parsley this is a true breakfast of champions.

Vegetarian

photo by: Epicurious

photo by: Epicurious

The Shubarb Cocktail // Uses Rhubarb // A syrup made with rhubarb that is tangy and bright instead of sticky sweet (aka a shrub!). If you are sick of baking, this is exactly the right thing to make with your rhubarb. Serve it with gin, bourbon or tequila for a stellar CSA day treat.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

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Alison Roman Inspired Wedge // uses Lettuce, Radishes or Turnips, Scallions // I love doing plays on classic Wedge Salads this time of year when Romaine is at it's absolute loveliest. Inspired by the incredible Dining In Cookbook by Alison Roman of the New York Times, this is my current favorite wedge. Recipe below.

First I slice my Radishes or Turnips and a couple Scallions real thin (use a mandoline for the radishes or turnips if you've got one!) and combine them in a small bowl with 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to quickly pickle them while I prep the rest of the meal. I cook up 10, yes 10, slices of thick-cut bacon (preferably the peppered stuff) either in a skillet if I'm real hungry or in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes if I'm feeling a little more patient, and then pat the browned and crispy slices with paper towels to get the grease off.

In another bowl, I quickly whisk together 1 cup Greek yogurt with 2 tablespoons olive oil and another 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon until smooth and then spread it evenly onto two (if doing entree salads) or four (if doing side salads) plates. I cut my washed and dried lettuce into quarters, putting one (if serving four) or two (if serving two) onto each plate. I sprinkle the whole thing with radishes or turnips and scallions being sure to get some of the vinegar right on the lettuce and I follow that up with a bunch of that bacon. I drizzle it all with a little olive oil and devour immediately using a steak knife and fork. Voila. The perfect spring Wedge.

Gluten-Free, skip the Bacon for Vegetarian salad

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Shaved Asparagus, Spinach & Mushroom Quiche // uses Asparagus, sub Turnip Greens or Radish Greens for Spinach, feel free to add Garlic Scapes and/or Scallions // 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. Cooked greens wilt down and feel so much more manageable and I love the way they pair with creamy eggs.

Vegetarian