CSA Newsletter: Week 15

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IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK

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.

Cherry Tomatoes (Some Large Shares) // 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.

Heirloom Tomatoes (Large Shares) and Slicer Tomatoes (Large Shares who did not receive cherry tomatoes) or Plum Tomatoes (Small Shares) // Store at room temperature for up to a week. Do not refrigerate. Use heirlooms much more quickly, immediately if you can.

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

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.

Beans (Some Small Shares) // Refrigerate in a plastic bag and use as soon as possible. They are quite perishable.

Carrots (Large Shares and Small Shares who did not receive green beans) // 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.

Acorn or Festival or Butternut Squash // Store winter squash in a cool, dry place and try to use within a week or two. Do not store in the fridge! This will cause it to spoil much more quickly.

Leeks // Store in the fridge and try to use within a week. Store in a plastic bag for best storage.

Chives (Large Shares) or Mint (Some Small 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.

Thyme (Small Shares who did not receive mint) // Lay on a damp paper towel and wrap tightly. For long term storage and drying instructions, see here.

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We did it! We have hauled all the winter squash in from the fields and I can now stop crossing my fingers and officially announce that we had one heck of an amazing winter squash season!

When the rain started coming down heavy over the last couple weeks, we got nervous. Too much moisture can be devastating to a winter squash crop still sitting out in the field to finish ripening. We had already hauled in a full melon bin of festival squash and a half bin of acorn squash when the rains began so we knew the winter squash harvest wouldn’t be a total bust, but there was still a lot left in the field. Four beds of butternut to be exact and about 150 more acorn/festival squash we had left to finish ripening.

It has been years since we’ve had a successful butternut harvest. Butternuts take a bit longer than acorn style squashes and requires a little more time in the field to finish ripening. The last four seasons it happened the same way: it looked great until a bunch of rain came down, and then it didn’t. It happened just that fast. We had a feeling this year would be different. The squash went into the ground earlier (meaning it could also come out much earlier) and the fall rains came a little later than past seasons.

We brought in the beautiful little brulee butternuts some of you are receiving this week on September 5th. Despite a couple early September rains, they yielded exceptionally. Two beds brought in several hundred squash—nearly as good as our high yielding festival squash! They had some skin damage from moisture but they were still a beautiful color inside and out. We moved them to the greenhouse to begin curing and watched as the skin damage remained the same. This is actually a great sign! Sometimes what you think is just a discoloration due to too much moisture in the field winds up being some sort of disease or rot and you watch as hundreds of pounds of squash turn to liquid as they cure.

This has been the story of the butternut the past couple years. It’s disappointing to watch the pounds you hauled in literally melt before your eyes, and absolutely disgusting to deal with. But not this year! This year, the brulee held fim with no signs of disease, rot or decay after nearly two full weeks of curing. If you get a brulee squash this week or next and it has a little bit of darker orange discoloration, know that we have brought many home and tested them (aka cooked them up and ate them) and they still taste absolutely amazing. The discoloration has nothing to do with their quality or flavor, and it appears to also have no effect on their storage.

After the brulee, we still had two more beds of butternuts to haul in and the rain kept falling pretty consistently. We looked at the forecast and planned two large butternut harvests right before big storms. The first half of the full-size butternuts came in after we finished the CSA pack last week and then we brought in the remaining fruits on Saturday. We knew the second half needed a little more time to ripen, but it was important to get it in before more storms began. Luckily, butternut always spend a couple weeks in the greenhouse curing which helps them finish the ripening process if they weren’t able in the fields. Large shares will begin receiving the first full size butternut squash next week and likely get two weeks of them!

When we expanded the CSA to 200 members this year (and with our past bad luck in the winter squash field), we never imagined we’d be able to give winter squash in such great quantities to members four or five times in one season but we are thrilled about it! We hope you are enjoying the winter squash bounty just as much as you enjoyed all the tomatoes (which are finally on their way out). We expect it to be the last week of tomatoes which is truly great timing—we’ve got a lot of root vegetables, greens and fall vegetables to make room for!

-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: Leeks

Leeks are the super tall vegetables in your box this week that look almost like a giant green onion. These are one of my all time favorite veggies and I hope you learn to love them too!

They are in the allium (onion, garlic, shallots, etc) family so have that delicious allium flavor. They can be used any place where you would use an onion but I LOVE them in potato leek soup! To use them, you want to cut a tiny bit of the bottom off (the fringy part that was in the ground) as well as the leaves (use the parts that are white and pale green, skip the parts that are dark green- though they can be used for soup stock) and you can then cut them into rings or slice the leek in half and slice it much as you would an onion.

For more info on leeks and how to cut them, head over here! For our video on how to cut them, check out the video on our YouTube channel!

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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 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: Winter Squash Varieties

Folks received one of these three types of winter squash today. The tan one on the far right is the Brulee variety of butternut. It is a mini butternut (perfect for those small share boxes!) and has a beautiful dark orange flesh. It is super sweet and one of our absolute favorite squashes. The speckled squash on top that almost looks like a gourd is the Festival winter squash. It is absolutely edible— you can even eat the skin! For those receiving it for the first time, check out Newsletter 13 for more variety specific info. The blue-ish squash on the right and bottom is acorn squash. We’ve been growing this for quite some time and you are likely familiar with it as it’s one of the most common in Wisconsin. For this one, you can’t eat the skin but the flesh is quite sweet and wonderful.

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Understanding tomato blemishes

As I’ve said before, the tomatoes are beginning to go down hill. This will very likely be your last week of receiving any tomatoes. It’s very common for tomatoes to begin going down in quality after 5 weeks and this is your EIGHTH week of tomatoes!! The fruits are still great to eat but there are a couple things to watch for.

On the left you will see some yellowing on the top of the fruit. This is called sun scald. It is very common for tomatoes to have sun scald on their tops after 5 weeks of production because at this point in the growing season, all of the tomato leaves have died off and there is nothing left to shade the ripening tomatoes. We remove the worst sun scald fruits when we clean tomatoes each week and give them to our restaurants as “seconds” or discounted damaged produce. However, since we are moving towards the end of the tomato season, we will begin to give you tomatoes with just a touch of yellowing. There is nothing wrong with these tomatoes. They will still taste delicious. We recommend just trimming the yellow portion off when you core the tomato since that portion rarely develops much delicious tomato flavor.

On the right you will see the effects of a tomato disease we get every year around this time. It is called anthracnose and it is a fungal disease that causes certain varieties of tomatoes to rot faster. Again, it is a common occurrence in organic tomatoes and is absolutely fine to eat. It is a disease that makes the tomato decay faster. It does not do anything to your body.

The photo above is just for reference. We will NEVER give you a tomato that looks like that. Any tomatoes with that much damage will be tossed into the compost. However, anthracnose is present in some of our tomatoes at this point of the season and can’t always be seen at harvest. A tomato may look perfect but due to anthracnose, decay very quickly on your counter.

At this point in the season, we recommend using CSA tomatoes within 1-2 days. This means using them within 1-2 days if you plan to eat them raw OR cooking with them in 1-2 days. The disease will not spread or have any effect in a cooked product.

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IN YOUR BOX NEXT WEEK

You can expect 9-10 of these items in your box next week

Rutabaga

Watermelon Radish

Bok Choy OR Napa Cabbage

Beans

Broccoli

Brussels Sprouts

Leeks

Sweet Peppers

Hot Peppers

Butternut Squash

Salanova Lettuce

Parsley or Mint

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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. 

Dill Glazed Carrots // Uses Carrots

1 pound carrots, peeled or well scrubbed, sliced ¼” thick

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons water

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dill seeds (can substitute dill weed if you have to)

  1. Place carrots, butter, water and salt in small heavy saucepan. Bring quickly to a boil, cover pan, reduce heat. Simmer for 10 – 12 minutes or until carrots are crisp tender. Remove cover, continue to simmer until water is almost gone. Gently stir in dill.

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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: Half Baked Harvest

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

Better Than Takeout Szechuan Noodles with Sesame Chili Oil // Uses Bok Choy, skip garlic, red onion and scallions (unless you happen to have some) sub Leeks for any and all of these other alliums // I am so excited to have greens again and you can probably tell because I shared FOUR recipes that you can use your bok choy in. I’m such a sucker for greens— and noodles.

Gluten-Free (with the right noodles)

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Slow Cooker Beef & Bok Choy Fried Rice // Uses Bok Choy, sub Leeks for garlic, add Daikon cut into matchsticks at the end instead of scallions // Fried rice. The perfect answer to what’s for dinner.

Gluten-Free

photo by; Dishing up the Dirt

photo by; Dishing up the Dirt

Daikon Radish & Soba Noodles with Chickpea-Miso & Ginger Sauce + Fried Egg // Uses Bok Choy, Daion, Carrot, sub Leeks for all garlic and scallions in recipe // Usually I just tell folks to pickle their daikon but I love this recipe because it has you do something totally different. It has you cut your daikon into long thin matchsticks so they transform into a kind of noodle along with the soba and carrots. The crunch they bring is incredible.

Vegetarian, Vegan (without the egg), Gluten-Free

photo by: Bon Appetit

photo by: Bon Appetit

Shaved Carrots with Charred Dates // Uses Carrots // A salad can be made from any base of raw vegetable and carrots are no exception. You may not usually eat them this way but you should give it a try!

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

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Crispy Korean Rice Bowl // Uses Bok Choy, make your Quick Kimchi out of the Daikon, Carrots, and Leeks // This recipe is top of the list for a reshoot. It is one of my absolute favorite blog recipes because of it’s versatility, but that picture is no good at all. Today, don’t eat with your eyes, just trust me that this bowl is incredible! The bulk of the meal is the coconut milk braised bok choy and sweet sticky mushrooms served over rice, but a ton of quick homemade kimchi over the top is what really makes it exceptional.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

photo by: Things I Made Today

photo by: Things I Made Today

Winter Squash & Tomato Gratin // Uses Tomatoes and/or Cherry Tomatoes, Winter Squash, feel free to sub Leek for onion, add a Sweet Pepper, skip the parsley and maybe add some Chives or Thyme instead // I wait all year for the winter squash to overlap with the tomatoes so I can share this beautiful recipe with you! It’s so simple and so tasty. You can use any winter squash and any tomatoes (though the winter squash we gave this week really should be peeled before use).

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

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Leek & Pepper Pretzel Dip // Uses Leek, Colored Pepper, skip the Jalapeno (unless you still have one lying around), maybe add some Chives if you like // Many thanks to CSA member and worker share Amy who reminded me putting random vegetables into cream cheese is ALWAYS a great idea. Leeks, jalapenos and a sweet pepper (if you still have one lying around) are a match made in heaven.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

photo by: Making Thyme for Health

photo by: Making Thyme for Health

One-Pot African Peanut Stew // Sub a couple Tomatoes for the tomato paste (I used 2 cups plus a tablespoon of maple syrup), sub Leeks for garlic and onion, sub Festival or Butternut Squash for sweet potato, skip the greens unless you don’t have a home for the Bok Choy greens, add a Sweet Pepper or two, and some Carrots if you feel like it // Every time of year, I  get this exact same craving and share this exact same recipe. It's the perfect dish to celebrate the time of year when tomatoes and peppers smash into winter squash. It may look like a lot of substitutions but I promise it's really not. This time of year is made for African peanut stew and the flavors of this box are just begging you to make it. Even if you want to leave out a suggested veggie ingredient or two, it will still be perfect. I promise.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

photo by: Dining In Cookbook

photo by: Dining In Cookbook

Blistered Green Beans with Creamy Tahini & Fresh Hot Sauce // Green Beans, leftover Jalapeno or other hot pepper // This is one of my favorite recipes from one of my favorite cookbooks. The heat, the creamy sauce, the char on the beans. It’s perfection. I did blanch my beans for 5 minutes first to ensure they got properly blistered while still being cooked through.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

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Butternut Squash & Leek Soup // Uses Winter Squash (use whatever you received this week), Leeks, Thyme, Chives // Leek and squash soup is such a fun twist on leek and potato soup. It’s just as rich and smooth and velvety with just a pop more sweetness and complexity. You don’t have to follow this recipe to make a great squash soup— play with whatever amount of squash and leeks you want to use and use the rest of the recipe simply as guidance.

Gluten-Free

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

Crockpot Caramelized Pork Ramen Noodle Soup with Curry Roasted Acorn Squash // Uses Winter Squash, Carrots, skip the Jalapeno, sub Leeks for green onions, add some matchsticked Daikon to the topping // This clearly qualifies as a PROJECT recipe. I prefer not to share project recipes for all you lovely CSA members because I know your preference is usually to cook maximum vegetables in minimum time with limited crazy techniques and/or ingredients, but this recipe, this recipe is oh so worth it. And it uses a crock pot, so that equates ease, right?

Gluten-Free