Friday, June 25, 2010

Successful Radishes and early Basil!

Good evening to all Parker Produce CSA members and random blog readers everywhere! I hope everyone is enjoying this weather and this week's bountiful harvest. Hopefully all full share members got my message this afternoon. The garden is yielding forth so much that I just went out and purchased another set of bags for each of you. Therefore there will be two (2) bags to pick up each week and return the next week (Full Shares only-half shares continue with one bag each week as I can still fit it in...barely).
The picture at the header of the blog is one that includes the radishes in your share today. I planted a mix this spring and I'm very, very pleased with how it came out. That is with the exception of the Black Spanish Radish which hardly germinated and didn't grow well when it did. I won't be growing that again but the others are all winners. You can find White Icicle, Pink Beauty, Crunchy Royale (red), and Plum (purple). All delicious, all great in salads or as a snack. I once tried to make horseradish dip by subbing radish for the horse radish. It tastes good but doesn't last very long so if you try that (find a recipe online) just make small batches and eat it fresh.
Next is the shallots. These are from last summer's garden and have been in our root cellar all winter. Shallots are amazing keepers and I could have kept them longer (into July and some say September before they sprout) but we're just plain out of room in the milk house on harvest day. A good problem to have. Shallots (this variety is Saffron Gold) are an excellent substitute for onions in any recipe. You just need to learn how much to sub. as a shallot bulb is several cloves like garlic and an onion is one bulb. If your recipe calls for cups you can use the same amount. Otherwise you'll have to experiment.
Also this week we got the first of the spring scallions out of the garden to make room for other things. This are just like the ones you've already had except they were planted in Feb. of this year and not wintered over. Therefore they are young, tender and don't need to be cleaned up so much. Enjoy in salads, eggs or as an onion addition to a meal. I usually cut them up and put them into a skillet with hot oil before making a stir-fry. Also consider adding them to steamed greens with a little salt and pepper after sauteing them in olive oil or butter. Delicious.
Also this week you will find another round of carrots (in with your radishes) and some more garlic scapes. Remember that scapes are the seed stalk from the garlic bulb. If you've never grown garlic it's good to know in case you want to. You have to remove the scape as soon as it emerges because the plant has only enough energy to put into one thing. We want that energy to go into making large, uniform, tasty bulbs of garlic below the ground. The scapes are a waste of energy to us. However, they do make a nice garlic addition to our summer meals when the root cellar garlic is gone and the new bulbs haven't matured yet.

This week you will also find the first installment of beet greens (and beets). What can I say about beet greens? They are an old-time favorite. Lightly steamed with some salt, pepper and butter...delicious. My mouth is watering already. Just be sure to clean them well or you'll have gritty beet greens...yuck. That can ruin a good meal. One method is to 'float' them. Fill your sink with a bit of cold water and float the beet greens in there. Dunk them under with your hands a few times, etc. Then remove the greens. You'll see all the garden soil left behind. Just wash it down the sink. You may wish to do this a couple of times. I usually just rinse them off under the faucet because I count on the beneficial bacteria found in garden soil and on plants. Some people are sticklers for no soil on their beet greens though. To each his/her own.
The beets on some of your greens may be too large to cook in the short amount of time needed to steam the greens. Simply cut those off and cook them another way. One way is to roast them in the oven. Just don't let them dry out. Put a little water in the base of your roasting pot and check it throughout the cooking period. You can also just boil them.
Now, onto my favorite thing of the day. Basil! I love Basil. Emily and I (and Lizzie too) absolutely depend on pesto. We make several batches in the fall to freeze for winter. I recommend you just eat this up right away though. There will be another round later if you want to save it. First basil of the summer demands fresh eating though. Pesto recipes abound on the Internet. I got ours from a bargain 'Italian Cooking' book from Borders and it's served us well though now I just wing it and throw other things in too. (As an aside, if your kids don't like to eat spinach, kale, chard, etc. put it in the blender with your basil when you make pesto. I guarantee they eat it if they like pesto pasta.) There are multiple other things to do with basil and when we get tomatoes (when, not if hopefully) we can discuss one of my favorites. But for now I'll just include this link to our old blog where I've posted our pesto recipe.
You will find two kinds of pesto in the bag. The large, light-green, frilly leaves are Napalatano (lettuce leaf basil) and the smaller, smoother, dark-green, glossy leaves are Genovese which is the standard basil found in stores. Both are quite good and offer different things to the cuisine. In the picture below the Napalatano is on the right and the Genovese is on the left.
Finally, peas, peas and oh yes some peas please. Brittany and I have been picking peas all week and we can't stop now. They are coming in like crazy. Jim, the gentleman who comes to the farm to volunteer, loves to pick Sugar Snaps which are the trellised peas he helped plant. The vines are over 7 ft tall and producing like crazy. You have some different peas in your bag this week and I want to explain before someone takes a bite out of one that isn't an edible pod pea. That would ruin a day in a hurry. In the photo below we have a few examples of the different peas in your share. From left to right: Oregon Giant Snow Pea, Sugar Ann/Sugar Snap (interchangeable for your purposes), Coral/Strike/Caselode (also interchangeable). The last one is not an edible pod pea. You can only eat the peas themselves by breaking open the pod. If they make it to a pot of boiling water I'll be very surprised. We just eat them like a snack. Grab two bowls, fill one with pea pods out of your bag. Sit down with a good book and shuck the peas. Eat them. Put the empty pods into the empty bowl. Compost them when finished for a good source of nitrogen. Simple as that. If you do want to cook the peas feel free. They are still just as good cooked. I just can't usually wait that long. Some of the peas may be a bit past their prime. Just separate those ones and cook them. They just stayed in the field a day or two too long before we could get to them to harvest. Nothing wrong with them and cooking will soften them back up again.
Oregon Giant Snow Peas are excellent in stir-fry dishes. Think Asian food (Thai is my personal favorite). I will actually cook those in a stir-fry though they are quite good raw like the sugar snaps/sugar anns.
Also in this week's share is the usual lettuce. There is so much coming out of the garden right now we didn't have time to bag it all. We had to compost some lettuce we harvested today. I don't like doing that but I am comforted by knowing that it will be recycled back into nutrients for the garden. You still get lettuce in your share this week in the form of an head of Nancy (the light green, full sized head) and Australe (the smaller, reddish green head). Enjoy!
Thank you to everyone who has submitted feedback regarding the share and your participation with Parker Produce. I appreciate it very much as it helps me make this a stronger local food chain. Have a good weekend.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A successful CSA?

Hi all:
I hope everyone enjoyed the amazingly hot weather this weekend. We just had a major thunderstorm at the farm and the garden is bursting from the heat/rain. I want to take a few posts to discuss some things that don't necessarily have to do with the harvest and what's in each week's share. Plus, I have some photos that don't fit during the Friday posts so I'll include those too.
I want to take this first post to discuss communication. One of the most important aspects of the CSA model of food sovereignty (to learn more about the concept of food sovereignty please visit: is the fact that you get to know the person who is growing your food. That doesn't need to be (and shouldn't be) limited to knowing his/her name or seeing his/her picture on a website. Rather, you get to actually know the person who is growing your food. You get to see where it is grown and ask questions. You cannot get that from the industrial food system. Try finding something out about anything...anything...that you find in the grocery store.
So what does that mean? Communication is possible and vital to the success of the local food movement and it's participants (you and I). As the farmer, I need to tell you what is in the share, how it is grown, why we do certain things, etc. But I also hope to hear from each of our CSA members throughout the season with anything you might be thinking. Do you like the things in the share? What don't you like? Are you getting enough each week? Are you getting too much. If everyone of our members hates chard and throws it away each week it doesn't make sense for me to grow it. (I hope everyone doesn't hate chard :-) Without hearing from our members we can only guess at these things. It's vital that I know, instead of guessing.
As an example, each winter I contact our members regarding whether or not they plan to return to the CSA in the upcoming season. Unless I hear from someone I end up contacting them several times. This season, I contacted one family right up until about a month before the first delivery. I finally heard from them that they would not be participating this year. The reason was that they were disappointed with the amount of produce.
This is a perfect example of a breakdown in the advantages of the CSA model. I never heard from this person after they originally signed up for the 2009 season. Never telling the farmer if you have suggestions for improvement or offering constructive criticism doesn't help anyone. Our farm is out the CSA member and that person/family is out the local, beyond organic produce. I would much rather have made adjustments during the season to the share amounts. It's very rare that I wouldn't have the ability to do that. I routinely have people not return because they got too much food. How do I know unless they tell me.
So I'm hoping to hear from each of our members and families throughout the season with any thoughts you might have. I love to hear great things but I also need to know if you have any issues. I might not be able to fix them but I can certainly try or explain why not. Personally, I think that's the only way we'll be able to keep our local food chain secure and grow our ability to provide for ourselves within the community instead of relying on a global food system that does not have the health of our families, communities or the planet in mind.
Emily and I are also looking at the calendar to find a date to hold our first annual Parker Produce CSA Picnic. We really want to encourage all of our members to visit the farm and see first hand how things are done and meet us (and we'd like to meet all of you). We hope to get out an invitation soon!
Now, onto some photos from the farm! First and foremost, our new salad mixer! We're very happy with the way this came out. I built it over the last two weeks at night and when it rained. Brittany and I tested it out with the share this week and it works great. I only need a few modifications as we work out the kinks.
Also, each day we give the compost pile a good dose of fresh green material from the garden. No day is as kind to the compost pile as harvest day though. You don't get to see all of the things that don't make it into the share. Rotten leaves on the bottom of lettuce are cut off. Any weeds that are easily picked during harvest, tops of scallions, etc. All gets recycled in our compost pile. Here is the pile before the harvest last Friday.

And here it is after! Great amounts of green material are needed to activate the biology of the pile and the temperature inside a well kept pile can reach 160+ degrees F! That's what we're going for as optimal.
Also, we have been moving the baby chickens every day or two onto fresh pasture. Here they are next to the adults. The older hens weren't very thrilled with this move. They seem to be getting used to it now but they wanted to let me know they weren't impressed. Message received! I moved them again today!

Take care until Friday everyone and please remember to let me know your thoughts throughout the season! Talk to you all soon.

Friday, June 18, 2010

June 18-Harvest

Happy last week of spring. Spring is going out with a wonderful burst of energy and growth in our gardens. The weather has been perfect knock on wood and it is as if Nature is apologizing for last year. The weather pattern has been near perfect for great growth with warm days punctuated by weekly rain spells. Once the night time temperatures start to get up into the 60's consistently we'll really start taking off.
Several things in this week's share are repeats and do not need any explanation. However, one new thing is this beautiful head lettuce pictured below. The variety is 'Nancy' and it is coming out wonderfully. It certainly looks great in the garden. Please ensure yours looks good and lasts longer by using the following tips.

Each week when you get your share home you should open the bag and take everything out. Don't just put the whole thing in the fridge. Different items need to be treated differently. We'll give tips in specific instances but for the most part one of the most important things you can do is take things out, open up the plastic bags and fluff things a bit before closing them again. Remember that the veggies and herbs have been crammed into a plastic bag and then into a cooler in tight spaces. Not the best situation for them.
Specific to this 'Nancy' lettuce, please take it out of the plastic bag carefully. Turn it upside down so the stem is facing up and run the faucet lightly over it to remove any extra garden soil. If there happen to be any leaves on that side showing signs of rot, remove them and compost. Once the bottom of the lettuce is cleaned you can put it back in the bag and into the crisper in the fridge. There is a lot of beneficial bacteria in the soil so leaving soil on plants after they've been harvested is a cue to the natural enzymes to start breaking things down. Prevent this by following the steps above.
Here is the first of the broccoli. This is the first spring we've had it. I usually save it till the fall but last year's season was so bad that our fall broccoli didn't come in until three weeks after the CSA was finished for the season. So I decided to plant in the spring too. That being said, I learned some lessons. I planted it out too early and that stressed the plants a bit too much. They are starting to flower and go to seed too fast. Therefore we'll have to put the broccoli on a rotation. This week Bangor members received what we had in the garden. Next week it will be Newport and then Winterport and we'll keep rotating until it's gone. I'm hoping to plant a lot more in the next few weeks for fall broccoli.

Other than that and the usual other things you will find the first harvest of snap peas which is very exciting. The general rule of thumb for a very, very successful year is that you want to have peas by the 4th of July...if you're lucky. Haha. My growing experience, Brittany's help and the cooperation of Nature have helped us blow that out of the water. My other farming friends have indicated to me that they are experiencing the same trends regarding weather patterns helping them out.
These particular peas are 'Sugar Ann' and they are an edible pod pea. You can put them in all sorts of things, from stir-fries to salads to soups. However, if you're like me they were probably gone by the time you got home. How anyone can wait long enough to cook these things is beyond me. In our home we eat them raw as an appetizer.
Also this week is the first of the baby carrots. We're having some trouble with our summer planting of carrots not germinating so I'm going to have to order new seed. The ones in your share were planted in March in the greenhouse before Brittany and I moved it to the new, summer location. They are coming along nicely. Don't forget that the tops (the leafy green, fern-like part) are very good for you, high in potassium and other minerals and make an awesome spring pesto. A google search for 'carrot-top pesto' will yield some recipes. You will likely use your garlic scape for it. That's the curly thing that's in with the carrots. For those who don't know the scape is the garlic sending up a shoot to release seeds. If you want garlic bulbs of any size you need to remove this as soon as it comes up. However, it tastes like garlic and when young and tender like those in the shares, they are a great substitute for garlic cloves. I use scissors to cut mine to manageable sizes.
Now that this week's share has been addressed, let's discuss some great things that are happening and coming up. The following photos are enough to give me lots of hope for this season, especially after last year. Returning members will recall a few things that were missing from last year's share. Things that are a staple of the summer garden. One was summer squash. Our plants waited and waited for sun and when it didn't appear they started to fruit. Unfortunately they were only as big as my hand at the time. I had a few plants that had fruit bigger than the plant. Plants that small can't support fruit and it instantly rotted on the vine. Big disappointment. But this picture shows how well ours are doing this year. Wahoo!!!

Also, tomatoes were a no show this year. I've already discussed my unwillingness to dump copper-sulfide on my plants and soil and that leads to a total loss of crop when the blight is brought into the state (however it got here whether from big box stores, nurseries or however). This year I'm trying some hybrid tomatoes in the greenhouse. Here they are chomping at the bit to form fruit. You can't see it in this photo but many of these are setting their first set of blossoms right now!
Emily says I have a strange love affair with tomatoes. She's totally right. I love them. All kinds, all sizes, all flavors, colors and shapes. That's another reason why last year was such a disappointment. But this year I have hope. the photo below will hopefully fill you with some too. Especially our returning members. Even though I'm growing hybrids in the greenhouse to try to ensure a crop, I can't give up on the heirloom varieties. The tastes, colors, smells and interest are too great. Plus, this is our heritage. Heirloom crops are the ones that are pollinated by nature (bees, wind, etc.) and have been passed down through the generations. Hybrid crops require a seed company and a laboratory each year. The variety below is someone's attempt to de-hybridize a standard yellow cherry known as 'Sungold'. This variety is 'Sungold Select II'. Hopefully, they'll be starting to turn in a couple of weeks! Enjoy!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

June 11 - Harvest post 2

Here is what the milk house looks like just after the harvest and just prior to bagging everything up. There is barely enough room for me and Brittany to move around in there. This usually doesn't happen until the end of the season. I don't know what we're going to do when squash and potatoes come in.
Here is the chard that is in your share this week. Below this photo is one where it is in the garden still nicely collecting sunlight, vitamins and rainwater. This chard is bunched for braising, steaming or souping. Like the full sized spinach that is also in your share, most people consider it too large to eat raw or in salads. I disagree but I love vegetables more than the average person. Whatever floats your boat as they say.

Also in your share this week are turnips. This particular variety is a favorite of mine as it has a nice earthy, distinctly turnip flavor. The smaller ones are good for salad sliced thinly like radishes. The larger ones are good for salads too but should be cut up and boiled first to tenderize them. If you're not familiar with preparing turnips you can google them to find some tips. Some people peel them. I don't because it removes too many vitamins...including B12 which is found in bacteria living in the soil. If there is a blemish on the turnip I'll simply use a potato peeler or a sharp knife and leave the rest. Cut off the green tops and the tap root and you're good to go.
This is also a good time to explain a bit about the breakdown between full and half shares. Usually we try for roughly twice as much of any given thing in the full shares. With the turnips it broke down as 18 oz for full shares and roughly 10 oz for half shares. Nature doesn't recognize our nifty little measurements so we have to make do and get as close as we can. For instance, some folks got one large turnip and a couple small ones. One of the full shares, I'm not sure who, actually got one huge turnip that weighed exactly 18 oz. That's one of the deals with the CSA. You get what the farmer has available when it's available in whatever form and quantity is available. I do my best to ensure everyone gets the same amount depending on their share size. Later in the season I hope to have some radishes that were actually bred as salad radishes. They don't really taste like radishes but it's like eating a sugar cube. They are amazing! Enjoy and please let me know if you have questions about anything in the share.

June 11 - Harvest

Hi all:
Sorry for the delay in posting this blog. Emily, Lizzie and I attended cousin Abbey's graduation party last night and we left almost as soon as I got home from the farm. There will be multiple posts again today so be sure to check the archives at the right for today's date.
Here is a wonderful head of romaine lettuce still in the row. This particular variety is Rouge D'Hiver and is a cold weather favorite. I really can't grow these in the heat of summer but they do great in the early spring and once this planting is fully harvested I'll switch to another variety and then back again in the fall.
Many people in our culture are indoctrinated with ideas about what is healthy and what is not. When it comes to vegetables, the more color the better. The lighter green a vegetable is the fewer vitamins it contains. On the health spectrum of lettuce, 'Iceberg' (the lifeless heads found in restaurants and grocery stores...I won't touch the stuff) is the least healthful. I don't offer any lettuces that fit that description. The darker green the better and the more color the better. Consider that when looking at this beautiful head of red romaine. Delicious and healthy. Some people find the outer leaves tough. I recommend only eating the inner leaves and composting the rest for you folks. However, I eat the entire head and simply slice or tear the outer leaves into more manageable sizes for salads.
Collard Greens! This is one of those wonderful examples of a CSA member requesting that I grow something. I have some neighbors who are originally from Kentucky and they looked desperately for collard greens around here. The ones in the store weren't up to snuff of course. So I figured this year I'd give it a try and these are wonderful. They are the large greens that are bursting out the the plastic bags this week. I found a short video showing an easy way to slice them for cooking. Also, a quick google search returned lots of hits for sites showing recipes. I suggest looking through them for some that tickle the fancy. I found a couple that seemed to use them in other recipes and included chicken broth and things like that. I use vegetable broth for any recipe that calls for chicken broth. I recommend this unless you know a farmer who will sell you whole chickens to make your own broth. I really recommend people do not use chicken broth available at the store. It terrifies me and it should do the same for everyone. If you'd like to know more about this please email me and I'll be glad to point you to some information about the dangers of industrial chicken farming. Suffice it to say, local, humane, sustainable is always better and that's true of chicken products as well. Here is the link to the google search.
Also this week: Cilantro! This is the earliest I've ever had it and that's thanks to our new movable greenhouse. I took this picture at about 5 am yesterday in the greenhouse. Oddly enough, neither Brittany nor I like the smell of cilantro. It's one of the most unique and overpowering herbs out there. For most people it's a love it or leave it type of herb. My mother-in-law loves this stuff and actually eats it raw. It makes me shutter! I grow it mostly for her but we had a lot so I threw it in. Brittany and I drew straws to see who would deal with it. We ended up compromising as I harvested it and she bagged it. :-) All nay-saying aside, this is a wonderful herb and it is great in salsas, salads and to dress up light meats like chicken. Sue makes a wonderful bean and corn salad in which I actually like the taste of cilantro. Just proves my friend Mark's theory that if you don't like a vegetable (or herb) you just haven't figured out how to prepare it.
Also this week, dill returns to the share. Last summer's growing season (approximately three days long) was so terrible I didn't even get to plant dill. My growing experience, knowledge base and the fact that Brittany is an awesome help in the garden has allowed me to bring back this wonderful herb. You won't hear me say anything negative about dill. It's awesome. I like it as an addition to any salad. grab a sprig and hold it by the stem and then cut tiny pieces with sharp scissors right onto the salad. You don't even need dressing when you have dill (though I sometimes then drizzle olive oil on top). Also, if you have young children they will love to chew on a sprig of this. Lizzie thinks it's great and even though she wrinkles up her nose when she eats it she asks for more. She ends up spitting it out but it is fun for her to 'help' cook with dill or be my taste tester in the garden. We are trying to get Lizzie to eat more spinach as her iron count is a little low. Spinach is an excellent source of dietary iron (local, beyond organic spinach raised in healthy soil that is). So we actually toss a handful in the blender and then mix it in with spaghetti or any past meal we make. I am going to try throwing in a bunch of dill the next time to add a new flavor. Don't forget to check out the next post in the archives...

Friday, June 4, 2010

First Delivery - June 4 - 1 of 2

Hi all:
This is the first of two posts. Blogspot only lets me upload 5 pictures to a post. I haven't figured out a way around that so if someone knows please let me know. The other post will be at the right in the archives labeled 2 of 2 with today's date.
First, I just want to remind everyone to rinse the produce. We don't wash produce before getting it out to our members. Washing damages produce and makes it harder to pack without damaging further. Produce should be washed just before consuming. This is also a good time to begin some of my soapbox preaching...sorry.
Produce you get in the store from who knows where has been over-washed in ultra-chlorinated water. That is one of the ways the food industry gets all of nature off the produce. So when you get produce from Parker Produce you may notice certain differences. You may find the occasional bug, the occasional garden soil, what have you. As a participant in a local food chain you are making a commitment to return to a way of life in which we begin to take more responsibility for our food. Washing produce is just the beginning and we thank our members for making that commitment. It takes more time to clean and prepare local, fresh, beyond organic food that hasn't been doused with chemicals and jet washed. It's worth the effort.
Below is a photo of the spinach row just prior to harvest. It's beautiful stuff! This is adult or full-sized spinach. It's really meant for braising. For an explanation of braising, please see the next post. You could also steam it or prepare it in any other fashion you like. I will say however that it's not meant to be eaten raw. Full-sized spinach is usually considered too tough to eat in a salad. I do it sometimes if there is no baby spinach in the garden but usually I braise it.
Here is a shot of some of the beet greens that are in the mix you'll find in your share. They are in there with baby spinach and Red Russian Kale. You'll find more about this mix in the '2 of 2' post.
Also, here are the scallions. These are wintered-over scallions which has several implications. As you can see in this photo, they've begun to set seed heads and I will soon have hundreds of thousands of seeds in this row. The scallions in your share have been reduced quite a bit. The picture doesn't really show it but these come up to my waist. I can't fit that in a bag! So I cut off the roots and the majority of the stalk and put the rest in with your radishes. These are a great early substitute for onions and also good cut up in salads and eggs and things like that.
The implications I was talking about have to do with the fact that you'll have to do a little more work to prepare these scallions that you do with spring planted scallions. Throughout the winter these hardy troopers are standing in snow, wind, ice, rain, sun and then do it all over again. That takes a toll on them. You may find some dead tissue in amongst the bunch or some on the outside of the scallion. That's normal. It's the plant's defense mechanism against the cold of early spring. It's like a layer of insulation. Just peel that part off to reveal the edible, delicious, oniony inside. Cut off the roots and then enjoy. I usually cut what I want off the top with a pair of sharp scissors. If I'm using it as an onion I will use a knife and cut from the bottom (the white part).

The radish! Each of you will find a French Breakfast Radish in your share. It's the odd shaped one with the white on bottom. They are meant to be that big! The other radishes allow me to step back up on my soap box for a moment...
The produce you find in the store all looks the same, has no bumps, bugs or signs of life. Our produce is different. We do not waist food! That's the bottom line. We certainly throw a fair amount of detritus and garden debris in the compost pile on harvest day. But if something just looks a little funny...we put it in the bag. That was the case with the radishes today. Some of them have worm markings on the outside. Personally, I just wash them thoroughly and eat them that way. If it bothers you all you have to do is shave that part off. You can use a sharp knife or a vegetable peeler. The amount of edible food that is wasted in the United States is estimated to be around 90% of the harvest! It's difficult to imagine that but I believe it's nearly accurate. Tons of edible produce is discarded right in the fields of this country because it doesn't look good. Then, at each stop along the way it happens again. In the field, in the packing house, in the grocery store, in the restaurant, in the kitchen, etc. The produce is whittled down until we only see and use the most perfect looking stuff. What a waste. We follow a different philosophy at Parker Produce. Why waste perfectly good food because a bug took a bite out of a leaf or a worm crawled by a radish or a tomato has a small crack in the shoulder. It will taste good.
That being said, we do try to present good looking produce. I was a bit surprised at how the radishes came out. I don't usually have that many with worm evidence. I'm hoping the next batch will weather better.
Finally, another salad mix. This one consists of a red romaine (Rouge D'Hiver) and Endive. I hope you all enjoy the share. Don't forget to check the other post at the right for additional information.

June 4 - First Delivery - 2 of 2

Hi all:
Welcome to the bounty of our gardens. I hope everyone is enjoying the fresh, healthy, beyond organic produce found in your share this week. This is how the blog is meant to be used, as a communication tool for me to let you know what is in the share each week. Some things are self-explanatory, others might not be your run-of-the-mill vegetable and might need explanation. Below is a shot of my favorite lettuce mix. It consists of a green and a red and is very 'soft', meaning it doesn't have the texture of a mesclun which can have 'crunchy' leaves. This mix of Red Salad Bowl and Tango lettuces is perfect for a salad base or just by itself.

After getting some negative feedback last year about Paris Island Romaine Lettuce (and having trouble getting it into the bags because it's so large) I decided to branch out into some French varieties of miniature head lettuce. I wasn't disappointed. Below is a shot of Mervaille des Quatre Saisons. It's an amazingly pretty head lettuce. The other one in your share that is more green with some brown/red coloring is Australe. Both delicious. To tell them apart you might also hold them in your hands. Australe is very, very dense and feels like it weighs a ton. Full share members will find 2 heads of the Mervaille.
We also included a wonderful, hearty mix of Red Russian Kale (pictured here), baby spinach and baby Bull's Blood Beet Greens. This is a great mix to eat raw or to braise. If you don't know what braising is, you should learn. It's an amazing way to eat fresh greens. Braising is basically 'quick cooking' the greens. The way I do it is to heat some olive oil in a large skillet until it is cooking temp. Then toss in the greens (which you've washed and prepared already). Toss them in the hot oil with a wooden spoon. You need to cook them only as long as it takes you to coat all greens in oil. It should really only be about 30 seconds to 2 minutes depending on your stove, heat, pan, etc. The trick is that you don't want them in the heat too long. It takes only a minute to wilt the leaves properly. Overcooking removes nutrients, flavor and texture. Then I remove from heat and toss on whatever suits me. Usually it's sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Sometimes I saute them with garlic and onions (which I saute first before adding the greens).

Also this week is the first cutting from our prolific mint garden. This shot shows the 'wall-o-mint'. It's incredible aromatic. One of the best things to do with it is remove it from the bag and put it all in a glass of water (like you would with flowers, just the tips of stems in water) on your kitchen window. Makes the kitchen smell wonderful. Here, however, is a link to some ideas for mint recipes.,1-0,fresh_mint,FF.html
Also, I believe Mary, one of our CSA members has made some interesting things with the mint in last year's shares. You can search her blog by clicking the Mitten Matten link in the upper right.

And finally, chives. This variety is garlic chives. I hate to get rid of them from the herb garden because the bees love the flowers. Luckily there is plenty more where they came from. Chives make a nice addition to almost anything. If you end up braising the greens you might try them with chives. Cut them up for baked potatoes, chicken, whatever you're eating. I also love them in scrambled or fried eggs. Our chickens work hard to keep up with the deman for beyond organic, pastured eggs. Yummy!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

All set for tomorrow...what to look for

Hi everyone:
Here is the last of our pre-harvest preparations. A neat line of harvest buckets all ready to be filled with the bounty of our gardens.
Here is Brittany working on the project...just before another bit of rain. Thanks Brittany!
For those picking up in Bangor or Winterport, please take a look at this cooler. Your bag will be inside with several others. Your name will be on the handle. If you're picking up in Bangor, this is the sign that will alert you to the location. The coolers will be on the front porch. PLEASE CLOSE THE COOLERS WHEN YOU HAVE REMOVED YOUR BAG. This is just in consideration of the other members who haven't picked up their share yet. The ice packs don't work if the coolers are open. Thank you all for your cooperation on this.

Here are the bags close up. You can see the names are on tags on the handles. You may have to move some handles around to find yours.

Here are all the bags, ready to be filled with tomorrow's harvest. I hope you're all looking forward to receiving the produce. I am certainly looking forward to the first harvest of the season. Up at 4 am and straight on till 5-ish. The harvest will begin before dawn and continue in a manner allowing us to get the harvest out of the field before the temperatures rise. Then Brittany and I will begin the process of packaging the produce. Tomorrow there will be at least one blog post showing what is in the share. Not too many recipe ideas needed since it will mostly be fresh, beyond organic, local greens, lettuces, spinach, onions and other early produce.
Bon Soir!