Though it may be cool and cloudy outside, today’s box hints at grand summer possibilities. We are excited to be able to offer you strawberries today. Strawberries are best when picked fresh so we pick them right before we pack the boxes. Unlike their grocery store counterparts, these delicious berries have a short shelf-life. Try to eat them within a day or two (as if that will be a problem). The berry patch is full to bursting and we will have more berries at the Olympia Farmers Market Thursday-Sunday. For a limited time we can offer you, our CSA members, a discount rate of $35 for a full flat of berries. Come down to the market this week and let whoever is working know that you are a member so they will give you the right price. Strawberry season is short, so don’t delay. Who knows what the production will be next week.
We have a few other summer treats to share with you. What a difference a week makes! The zucchini surprised us and some of you will see it in your box today (others next week). Carrots are also in your box. We planted some in a small greenhouse in early spring when it was clear that it would be eons before we could actually plant them in the field. Boy, am I glad we did. We pretty much cleared out the patch for the CSA harvest and the field ones may be another 2 weeks out, so enjoy these. Peas are also starting up. You will either get a sampling of shell peas or snow peas. Sugar snaps should be ready for next week. The first planting is paltry due to the heavy, wet spring soil, but the 2nd planting is looking good and should be ready in a week or two.
THE FIELD REPORT:
Many of the crops (and weeds) are starting to emerge from their pitifully slow spring growing pace. It is shocking how much some things have grown even in the past week. As we pull row cover off some crops, we are delighted to see big, healthy plants underneath. It is like unwrapping a present. We are on the cusp of much to weed and much to harvest. Lately it has been a challenge finding enough work for everyone, though I know soon enough we’ll be so grateful to have all these hands on deck. I must say it feels good to be on top of the weeds. It is like tidying our house, giving us the illusion of some sense of control over our lives. We even got some field edges mowed. Weeding, seeding, and transplanting are still the main tasks on our plate these days, though harvest is taking more and more time.
ATTENTION PICKY EATERS, PARENTS OF PICKY EATERS, SPOUSES OF PICKY EATERS, ETC…
I am a recovering picky eater/vegetable hater. (It is a lifelong process to overcome this terrible affliction.) I grew up eating mostly canned and frozen vegetables save for ice berg lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, and tomatoes. (No offense mom, you know you are awesome.) That being said, I didn’t like most vegetables until I grew them myself. I am still discovering new ones each year. Freshly picked fruits and veggies are nothing like the ones you find in the store. Those varieties are bred for their shipping and storage capabilities, not flavor or nutritional content. Because we harvest the day before and the day of your CSA delivery, we can choose varieties for flavor and nutrient value. It is like comparing apples and…cardboard. So please, put aside all of your childhood food traumas and try EVERYTHING in your box. Also note that when you are using fresh and local produce in your cooking, you don’t need to doll it up with sauces and spices to give it flavor and character. Sometimes the simplest preparation is the best. Much of what you get in your box can be eaten raw, lightly steamed, or sautéed. I love a good peanut sauce as much as the next person, but I invite you to explore the uniqueness of each vegetable in its simplest form.
AN INTERESTING ARTICLE:
Keeping in line with this theme, I heard a great interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air” talk show while in the greenhouse yesterday. The interview was with Barry Estabrook discussing his newest book about the conventional tomato industry and how today’s “fresh” grocery store tomatoes are bred to withstand some pretty intense handling and travel and not at all for flavor. It is an interesting interview; not at all self-righteous or soap boxy. It is a reminder why it is best to just wait for tomatoes (among other things) to be in season. Here is the link: http://www.npr.org/2011/06/28/137371975/how-industrial-farming-destroyed-the-tasty-tomato.
IN YOUR BOX TODAY:
Peas-either snow or shell
Scarlet queen turnips
Chard or broccoli
Dill, cilantro, or Italian parsley
AND NOW FOR SOME VEGGIE IDENTIFICATION:
Kohlrabi-It is the beautiful purple orb with leaves. It tastes a lot like peeled broccoli stalks-sweet, crisp, with a hint of that brassica spicy edge. It is delicious grated onto salads, cut into julienned strips for a veggie tray, or added to a stir fry.
Turnips-The lovely pink bulbs with leaves that you may have thought were beets or giant radishes are actually Scarlet Queen turnips. They are a spring salad turnip with a sweet, crisp, subtle flavor. These are yummy on salads or used in your favorite turnip recipes. I only just started liking turnips last fall when we grew them for the first time, so my ideas on how to use them are limited.
Peas-A Refresher Course: Snow peas have flat pods and can be eaten in their entirety raw or cooked. These are the best for stir-fry. Shell peas have fat long pods and must be shelled (hence the name). The outer shell is fibrous and for the most part inedible, though I have seen a few hard-core fiber fans choke them down. Finally, there are the snap peas. They look a lot like shell peas, though are a little smaller and smoother. These can (and should) be eaten shell and all. They are best raw, but can be sautéed lightly. Good luck getting them to the frying pan, though. You know you’ll eat half of them on the drive home.