CSA Newsletter: Week 12

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IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK

Watermleon or Cantaloupe // Store in the fridge. Once cut open, store leftover melon in the fridge wrapped with plastic wrap. The flesh will dry out if left exposed. Use them quickly.

Cherry Tomatoes // Most tomatoes should be kept out on the counter at room temperature, but cherry tomatoes need to be stored in the fridge or they over-ripen quickly.

Slicer and Heirloom Tomatoes // Store at room temperature for up to a week. Do not refrigerate. Use heirlooms much more quickly, immediately if you can.

Eggplant (Large Shares and most Small Shares) // Eggplant is very perishable. Use quickly or at least within the week. Many people recommend not storing in the fridge because it will get soggy quickly, but we generally do and just use it within a couple days. You can cube it and freeze it for soups or curries if you know you won’t get to it right away.

Zucchini (some Small Shares who did not receive Eggplant) // Zucchini 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 (Small Shares who did not receive Eggplant or Zucchini) // Store in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Try to use within one week.

Sweet Peppers // Refrigerate peppers, unwashed, in the vegetable drawer. Moisture makes them spoil faster so don’t store in a plastic bag.

Poblanos or Jalapenos // 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.

Carrots // Refrigerate carrots in a plastic bag. They will easily keep for 2-4 weeks this way. If your carrots had tops, remove them prior to storage and store the tops separately in a separate bag. They should last 2-3 days.

Daikon Radish // Store loose in the crisper drawer of your fridge. They will easily store for a month, after that they will begin to get a bit softer but will remain usable for 2-3 months.

Celery // Celery releases a gas known as ethylene. It is therefore should not be stored in plastic — This will trap the gas and cause quick spoilage. For best storage, wrap in aluminum foil and store in the fridge.

Yellow Onions // Store along with your garlic and potatoes in a cool dark place and try to use within a couple weeks. In the proper conditions, pure darkness and cool temperatures, they can store up to 6 months.

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We did it! We have now officially got all six beds of onions in from the field, tucked safe and sound into the greenhouse alongside the two beds’ worth of shallots. When we were a much smaller operation, we used to get this all done in early August but as we have continued to scale our onion production, this task became a much larger project spanning several weeks instead of just all coming out in one giant harvest.

Now our greenhouse can only hold about a quarter of our onion field at a time so the process looks a little different. We have to pull no more than two beds at a time, lay them out in the greenhouse to let the green dries (with several fans running through the space to maximize airflow), wait a week or so, and then begin to top. Onions are one of our absolute favorite crops to grow even though they take a little bit of maintenance post-harvest.

We move the onions through the greenhouse in a kind of west to east flow, allowing them to dry more and more each step of the way. That first step I mentioned above is the most important. Laying them out in a single layer with the green tops still intact is essential so the necks of the onions can pull excess moisture from the onion as each individual bulb dries. A week or so later (we give them longer when we can), we then spend an hour snipping those green tops off the onions and placing the onions in bulb crates. These crates are filled with holes so air still moves nicely through them. The onions are packed about half full so that they can continue to dry. After about another week or two, after the onions are fully cured, we move them into red mesh bags and pack them into my parents’ basement on farm. It’s a great space because the temperatures are cool and the humidity is generally low. As we scale up this production, we’re considering moving onions into a cooler for long term storage.

When we harvest the onions, we try to get any large clumps of dirt off, but the onions are still pretty dirty through this whole curing stage. They have some dirt from the field and lots of dried layers of skin left on them. We store them this way in those big bags for efficiency of moving things through the greenhouse, and then clean them to order. You’re receiving the first of the freshly cured yellow onions this week and will get more next week before we take a brief onion break for the fall leeks!!!!!!

I love to walk members through this process every year because it is the best and easiest way to show you just how much work and expertise goes into every single item we share with our members. The growing is just half the battle. Starting the seed, transplanting the crop, and keeping them weeded in the field is only half of what we do.

At this time of year, when most everything has been planted, harvest and post-harvest handling are taking 90-95% of our time each week. We not only work to harvest things at their peak ripeness and condition, we also need to figure out the best and most efficient ways to transport, wash, and store them for you. We keep crates washed and organized so when it comes time to harvest, we have the right tool for the job. We sharpen knives and fill wash tubs. We squeegee the floor a couple times a day to keep the mud moving out of the pack shed and into our drainage field. We package things into bags or pint containers so pick up can go easier for everyone. We load freshly processed veggies onto mini pallets and wheel them into our cooler.

By the time a crop makes it to you, we have probably nurtured it in someway (seeding, planting, weeding, harvesting, washing, bagging) at least 6 times. With something like onions, it’s probably more like 10 times. Imagine that! Someone at our farm has worked with each onion you receive TEN times.

Seven years in, it’s still truly amazing to me—this whole process, this deep nurturing of our land and our local community through our direct work. It’s a process you can understand with practices that are simple and that we feel are deeply respectful to our land. You can see the exact ways the dollars you invest in a local farm supports our work and the work of our crew. It’s so beautiful. And I think it begins to show you the imbalance that can sometimes exist at the store when you see a particular vegetable available for $1 a pound (or less!). Together, we can all begin to understand why the food we eat should be valued more highly—why it makes such a difference to pay $3 for a pound of tomatoes instead of 75 cents.

We’ve been together twelve weeks now and I know so many of you already understand all this—how local matters, how practices matter, how employment standards matter—but I just wanted to take one more opportunity to extend our most heartfelt thanks to you all for being a part of this movement we’re all building together from the ground up. And to thank you for being conscientious and intentional with just a small fraction of our purchasing decisions. It’s the theme of this month’s Climate Change Challenge and it is something that just speaks so wholly to our hearts. Thanks to you all for showing up and for being a part of this solution. We’re honored to grow (and harvest and process and clean) these onions for you!

-L&K

P.S. We just wanted to let you know that we’ve got a date for the Fall Harvest Party!! It will be September 28th from 11-3 p.m. and we’re so excited to have a CSA-member led CHILI COOKOFF at this event!! We’ll also have fresh apple cider alongside more apples for pressing as well as a caramel apple building station again for the kiddos. It should be a perfect fall day at the farm. You can find our Chili Cookoff and party sign-up form here.

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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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IN YOUR BOX NEXT WEEK

You can expect 10-11 of these items in your box next week

Watermelon

Cherry Tomatoes

Slicer and/or Heirloom Tomatoes

Tomatillos

Colored Bell Peppers or Italian Fryers

Hot Pepper

Festival Winter Squash

Carrots

Onion

Curly Kale

Mixed Herbs

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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. 

Easy Jambalaya

2 tablespoons butter

1 large onion , diced

1 large green bell or sweet pepper, diced

2 or 3 celery stalks, diced

4 garlic cloves, diced fine

½ pound cubed chicken breast or large peeled deveined shrimp (optional)

1 rope smoked sausage, cut in half lengthwise then sliced into ½” pieces

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups uncooked long grain rice

1 ½ cup peeled, diced fresh tomatoes (put fresh tomatoes in boiling water for 30 -45 sec., slip skins off)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

½ jalapeno or more to taste, finely diced

1 teaspoon salt

  1. In a large skillet, saute’ onions, peppers, celery and garlic in butter until crisp tender.

  2. Stir in chicken if using, saute’ until pink is gone. Stir in rest of ingredients, bring to boil, cover with tight fitting cover, reduce heat almost as low as it goes, simmer for 25 – 30 minutes. Almost all liquid should be absorbed and rice should be tender.

  3. If adding uncooked shrimp, add about 5 minutes before end of cooking time. Shrimp will turn pink when cooked.

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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: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Scalloped Tomatoes with Croutons // Tomatoes // SCALLOPED TOMATOES WITH CROUTONS?! This is essentially one of my favorite winter Midwest recipes (scalloped potatoes) lightened up and made fresh with tomatoes instead of potatoes, basil instead of the usual pounds of cheese and a beautiful array of freshly=made breadcrumbs. This dish is tasty. Make it now and serve it up with poached eggs. 

Vegetarian

photo by: Six Seasons (Joshua McFadden)

photo by: Six Seasons (Joshua McFadden)

Grilled Carrots, Steak, and Onion with Fish Sauce Sauce // Carrots, Sub Yellow Onion for red onion, Poblano or Jalapeno (for chili used in sauce), whatever herbs you’ve got on hand // I've wanted to share so many recipes from this fabulous cookbook with you but can't always find the recipes online. I'm so glad that this one is because it's unbelievably simple, inspiring, surprising and delicious. Give it a go and if you love it, think about purchasing this awesome cookbook packed full of vegetable recipes!

Gluten-Free

photo by; Bon Appetit

photo by; Bon Appetit

Pork Chops with Celery & Almond Salad // Celery, sub Celery leaves for parsley, Shallot // In case you can't tell just by looking at it, fresh celery is NOTHING like store bought celery. The stems are thinner, the leaves are bigger, the green is more vibrant. Fresh, local celery doesn't need to be buried in soups or stocks (though I do use it for soup in the next recipe). It is worthy of starring as the main event on your dinner table. This simple salad from Bon Appetit is lovely and tender and delicate. It feels a little like fall thanks to the dried cranberries, but with the great cool weather we're having today, I'm feeling like fall anyways.

Vegetarian (if just making the salad), Gluten-Free

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

Sesame Noodle Bowls with Lemongrass Meatballs // Carrots, Daikon, sub Onoin for scallions in meatballs, feel free to add some Green Pepper or Jalapeno to the meatballs as well, you can skip pretty much any of the herbs you don’t have on hand (cilantro, lemongrass, garlic) // This bowl of goodness is so dang delicious. I always scale up and make a double batch of the meatballs so that I have them at a moment’s notice (they store great in the freezer or fridge). Just be careful doubling the pickles as they get a little funky after 2-3 days. I usually dice all my pickle veg and do a quick pickle twice if I know I won’t finish it all in two days. Also, feel free to make the cashew sauce if you are so inclined. It’s a little too much effort for us so we usually just top with some sriracha.

Gluten-Free

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

Pork Sausage Pasta with Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Sauce // Uses Eggplant, Cherry Tomatoes, could absolutely throw in some Sweet or Hot peppers as well as some Onion if you like // By now, cherry tomatoes may be beginning to lose their excitement as being devoured in fresh salads. Lucky for you, they turn into a sauce so effortless that you will just have to give this recipe a try if you got eggplant this week!

photo by: How Sweet Eats

photo by: How Sweet Eats

Nicoise Bagels // Uses Tomatoes, use Yellow Onions for pickling instead of red, add some sliced Cucumber if you’ve got it, skip the green beans and herbs if you don’t have any on hand // I’m a sucker for a pretty make-your-own spread like this of pretty much any variety but this one I really really love because of my absolute obsession with bagels and smoked salmon for breakfast. Make this for a lazy Labor Day brunch and spoil everyone you’re with. I never follow a recipe in this situation, I just use the photos and recipes for guidance so don’t worry if you only want to include half of these things in your final bagel brunch spread.

photo by: Alexandra Cooks

photo by: Alexandra Cooks

Huevos Rancheros with Blistered Salsa Roja // Uses Cherry Tomato, Onion, Jalapeno for salsa (feel free to add Poblano and/or substitute regular tomatoes as necessary), add thinly sliced Onions to the top // It’s the fifth week of tomatoes in your CSA boxes. It is time to make SALSA!!! And then eat them with tortillas and eggs for breakfast.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free (with the right tortilla)

photo by: Bon Appetit

photo by: Bon Appetit

Celery, Apple & Peanut Salad // Celery, sub Yellow Onion for scallions, sub Jalapeno for fresno chili, sub Celery leaves for parsley // In case you didn't get the hint above, here's another one: I really want you to make salad with your fresh celery. This one pairs salty peanuts, spicy peppers, sweet apples and a bunch of lemon juice for a light, bright perfect for late summer salad.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

photo by: Jamie Oliver

photo by: Jamie Oliver

Tomato Soup with Carrots & Celery // Tomatoes, Carrots, Celery, Onion // I know this lovely cool spell likely won't last long so I'm relishing in it eating all the delicious hearty, tomato-y soups I can. And I'm thinking to the future with them too! I actually just made a bunch of this tomato soup and froze the majority of it in freezer-safe mason jars. I can't wait to pull a jar of soup out of the freezer on a busy fall or winter day when I don't know what to bring for lunch and be met with amazing summer flavors!

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Carrot Cake with Cider & Olive Oil // Carrots // Since we are finally receiving the first of the cider in our apple shares this week AND the first of the carrots (and I'm patiently willing fall into being), I thought this cake might be a lovely treat for your household. I'm all for summer abundance and non-stop simple tomato dishes, but I love to balance them with something fun and silly like a giant loaf of carrot cake!

Vegetarian

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Bahn Mi Burgers // Uses Daikon, Cucumber, Jalapeno, add Carrots to pickle if you like, skip the basil if you don’t have any // I love a good burger and I have even more fun with it when it’s a burger topped with loads of fresh veggies. This burger is inspired by the Vietnamese sandwich called the Bahn Mi and it is just so darn good!