CSA Newsletter-Box 4-July13

by jennifer on July 13, 2011

This week is the last hurrah for strawberries. We had a good run, but now the plants are sparsely peppered with itty-bitty berries. They are perfect for us farmers to snack on while walking from one end of the field to the other, but not so much for a worthwhile mass-picking. The rain has rendered this morning’s harvest a little more perishable than usual. Try to eat them today. We will more than likely have some hardier (i.e. not rained on) berries this Thursday-Sunday at the Olympia Farmers Market if you want one last dose.
Beets are new on the scene this week. We do a bi-weekly rotation with beets and chard so if you don’t see one of them this week, you‘ll see it next week. I will repeat myself from a few newsletters back and beg you to eat your beets. If you think you hate beets-think again. Fresh garden beets- steamed, roasted, grated onto salad, or added to a chocolate cake are nothing like the creepy canned beets Grandma so-and-so made you eat every Thanksgiving. Try them again with an open mind. The green are also edible. They can be used interchangeably with Chard. Check out the recipe section of our website for easy beet ideas.
If every crop could produce like the snow peas we’d be thrilled. It was astonishing how many peas were on those plants. We finally had to quit picking as it was getting ridiculous. They are bigger than the sad little things you usually see in the grocery store. I never understood why snow peas get picked so small. They are so much sweeter when you let them get a little plump. The snap and shell peas gave us a respectable yield as well. Like the strawberries, pea season is short so enjoy the abundance while you can. They don’t tolerate the heat of summer (not that we’ve had much, mind you) and tend to turn curled and funky if the daytime temps get too high for too long. Just when you think you can’t eat another pea, they will be gone and a deluge of green beans will take their place. The bean plants are loaded with flowers right now, so watch for them in the weeks to come.
One of the benefits of getting a CSA share is that you learn what is in season right here in Thurston County. Like in days of old, you gorge on what is before you, maybe even tire of it a bit, and then move on to the next thing. There have been years where I get so sick of picking and eating shell peas, that I am perfectly content to not see another one until the next summer. Of course it is hard to get sick of berries or tomatoes for that matter, but you get the idea.

Sticking with the theme of mass quantity, we often have bulk amounts of crops for canning, freezing, and storing. We will be sure to alert you through the weekly CSA letter when they are available. If you know right now that you want something, let me know so I can put you on the wait list. This is especially important with pickling cucumbers. We offer bulk quantities (and discounts) for the following: green beans, pickling cucumbers, dill, tomatoes, basil, onions, shallots, potatoes, beets, carrots, and winter squash. If there is something else you want large quantities of, just ask. We may just have it!

Because the season for many things is so short (especially here in the PNW) I have found it difficult to find recipes that truly reflect which vegetables are in season at the same time. How many times have I seen a recipe that calls for asparagus (ready in April) and red peppers (ready in late August)? Jim and I have become good improvisers over the years and will add or subtract to a given recipe based on what is out in the fields. For those who are intimidated by cooking or deviating from recipes, I encourage you to stray from the path. Use them as a guide and tailor them to what you get in your box. (Really, you can put zucchini in nearly everything- savory or sweet.) Use scallions in place of onions, chard or beets greens instead of spinach, put zucchini in everything!

For those of you who eat meat and want to buy directly from a local farm, I have compiled a list of farms that offer anything from beef to chicken to rabbit. These are all folks we know and trust (and buy from!) There are more farms out there for sure, but this is the short list for now.

Beets or chard
Snow peas
Snap peas
Shell peas
Green kohlrabi (tastes just like the purple one)
Green or Italian zucchini
Italian parsley, dill, or cilantro

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