CSA Newsletter-Box 1-June 20, 2012

by jennifer on June 20, 2012

Today's box

Thank you for joining our CSA this year. We are excited for the upcoming season and the opportunity to be a part of your weekly health and happiness!

In an effort to save paper, we will send out the weekly CSA newsletter via email, and just leave a few paper copies at the sites for those who prefer that option. However, this week everyone will get a paper copy just to make sure you all receive it. I am also emailing it to everyone who provided an email address. If you did not get this via email and would like to, let me know and I’ll make sure you are on the email list. For those sharing shares, make sure I have everyone’s email address. Keep in mind that this letter may have wound up in your spam/bulk folder so check there as well. I will also post the newsletter on our website www.risingriverfarm.com and on our Facebook page. It is important to read the weekly letter as we sometimes make special announcements and it is a way for you to better connect with the farm.

WHAT’S IN THE BOX TODAY:
Lettuces: green leaf and/or romaine
Radishes-either pink beauty or multi-colored
Green onions (aka scallions)
Garlic
Garlic scapes
Italian parsley or cilantro
Dry beans
Kohlrabi-purple or green
Carrots
Strawberries
Rappini (broccoli raab)
Scarlet queen turnips

garlic scapes

Remember that the first few boxes are a little on the slim side, as most veggies need more time and heat to ripen. As the season wears on, the boxes will get fuller and more diverse. While not as cold as the last two springs, it has still been cooler and cloudier than we’d prefer. Many crops are still sitting on the brink of ripeness, just waiting (as are we) for a little sun.

Crops to look forward to in the next few weeks: beets, peas, summer squash and more strawberries.

We will try very hard each week to help you identify the more unfamiliar items in your box and give you recipes and preparation advice. The email version of the newsletter will usually contain photos of the more unusual items (another good reason to read them!) Also, be sure to check our website fairly regularly to see the new recipes we add.  We invite you to share recipes as well. If you email them to me, I can post them on the website and Facebook. It is great when you can all help each other get the most out of your share.

purple kohlrabi

TODAY’S VEGGIE ID:
Garlic scapes: They are the bunch of crazy looking curly-Qs. Scapes are the seed head of the garlic plant. They taste like garlic, but are milder than the actual clove. They are best cooked and have a texture similar to asparagus or green beans. A few ways we like to eat them are to toss with olive oil, salt, and freshly ground pepper and either cook on the grill or under high heat in the oven until tender. A little Parmesan on top surely wouldn’t hurt. You can add them to stir-fry, soup, quiche, or basically any savory dish you make.

Garlic-a super early variety called Chinese Pink. It registers a medium on the heat and pungency scale. It is freshly harvested so it doesn’t yet have the dry papers around the cloves. Use what you need and let the rest sit out on your counter and it will continue to cure.

Scarlet Queen turnips-As one market customer put it, they look like radishes on steroids. Red on the outside and white on the inside, they are a sweet, crisp, and delightfully refreshing. They are great raw or cooked.

Kohlrabi-We grow two types, so you’ll either an electric purple or a pale greenish white one. Kohlrabi tastes similar to peeled broccoli stalks, only sweeter and crunchier. You can eat them raw or cooked. Peel the outer skin and either eat raw, or add to a stir fry. We often put a plate of raw peeled and sliced kohlrabi on the dinner table as an addition to whatever we are having. The kids love it.

Strawberries-Picked fresh for you this morning! Thanks to yesterday’s rain, they will be a little dirty and might not hold up as long. Eat them right away (as if that will be a problem.)

Broccoli Raab-A small bunch of mustard greens. This is one of those crops I was seduced into growing, against my better judgment. (Darn those seed catalogs!) We have a heck of a time with flea beetles who love to chew holes in the leaves of any brassica family member we dare to plant. We have, for the most part, sworn off trying to grow any type of mustard green since they always get chewed to bits and leave us feeling like utter failures. However, in January when I was looking through all the seed catalogs, I got suckered into trying it again. (I think I was just really craving fresh greens.) So this year, I tried broccoli raab. The first two plantings looked horrible, of course, but this one was acceptable. This will be your one and only bunch of raab all season. The stalks are sweet and tender and the little flower buds are super tasty. It has a slightly spicy, mustard green flavor. It is best slightly cooked. Add it in at the end of a stir-fry or to a miso soup.

Dry Beans: This is a blend we have been saving seed from for over 15 years. The varieties are: Pinto, Calypso, Swedish Brown, and Hidatsta Shield Figure. We found a mix that all cook at the same rate. They are great for soup, refried beans, chili, and much more. Use them in all of your dry bean dishes.

Most everything else should be easily identified.

WASHING YOUR PRODUCE: In an effort to give you clean and pretty produce, we field-wash most of what goes in your box. However, many items don’t like to be man-handled too much or be packed away wet (think strawberries, beans, basil) so we do not wash them. You should wash all your produce again before you use it.

HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR CSA SHARE: To many of you, CSA eating has become part of your norm and you know how to adjust your shopping and menu planning accordingly. However, there are many new CSA members this year so let me give you some advice. You may be trained to think “what do I want to eat this week?” and then shop accordingly. But now you will get a box, whose contents will remain a mystery, delivered to you each week and the challenge will be how to incorporate the box contents into a week’s worth of meals. It is a good idea to skim through the farm cookbook and our website for recipes. On the website in the lower right corner of each page, there is a tag cloud. Just click on a particular veggie and all the recipes that contain that ingredient will pop up. In short, consider your CSA pick up day as the start of your weekly menu planning. See what’s in the box and plan the week’s dinners around it. Your weekly CSA will give you a true sense of what is in season now.

Also, try to rethink how you view recipes in general. Think of them more as a guide, rather than a hard and fast rule. Does your recipe call for onions but you only have scallions? Use the scallions, instead. Ran out of garlic, but have scapes? Use the scapes!  Feel free to add additional vegetables than what your recipes call for. Most of the time, it works out great.

Picky Eater Spiel. All of you returning members know that I am a recovering picky eater. I hated most vegetables until I grew them myself and was able to enjoy them at their freshest. Just picked vegetables are amazingly sweet and flavorful. Most veggies you find in the store are at least a week old and have lost a lot of their sweetness and nutrition. So please, I beg you, try everything in your box before you declare yourself a particular vegetable hater. Try each thing in a simplified form, not overcooked or hidden in sauces. If it still doesn’t float your boat, most veggies can be “snuck” into dishes by grating or chopping very small. If you need to trick a picky partner or child, that is the best way to do it.

Barter Box: Okay, so you’ve tried chard six different ways and still don’t like it. Or perhaps you have a food allergy. What to do? To address that dilemma, we will set up what we call the Barter Box at each site so that you may swap out what you don’t like for something you do. The barter box might contain some produce that is more “cosmetically challenged” than what you receive in your box. It is still perfectly tasty and will hold up just as well as what you were initially given.

Cookbooks will hopefully be ready next week. Each share gets one book. Additional books can be purchased for $6.

Box Return: In an effort to keep costs down and conserve resources, we re-use the CSA boxes as much as possible. Please return your box next week for re-use, or better yet show up at your pick-up site with bags to transfer your produce into.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call or email and I wll get back to you as soon as I can. I deal with the administrative end of things, so ask for me.

Enjoy!

Jennifer

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