LARGE SHARE-WEEK 1
Welcome to Rising River Farm CSA. We are so glad you have chosen to spend the summer with us! We have a lot of new members, which is exciting. I love that local, organic eating is now a “normal” and common thing to do. Way back in 1994, when we first started, we felt like odd ducks. Many wondered if this organic thing was just a fad. Glad to see common sense prevailed!
Please read this newsletter thoroughly, especially if you are a new member. It will answer all sorts of questions you might have and give you some ideas on how to utilize your share.
THE SPRING REPORT: The weather this spring is unlike anything I have ever seen in all my years of living here. It feels more like August; hot days, no rain, low river levels. In most ways, this has been one of the best springs ever. Usually spring is really frustrating and nerve wracking for us. We periodically question our sanity about our decision to become farmers. So much risk! We are usually tearing our hair out trying to get everything planted in a timely manner. Sometimes we are forced to work the ground a little too early and then have to deal with less than ideal soil texture for the rest of the summer. Often it is so wet in spring that we can’t get to the weeds until they become a nightmare. They grow with wild abandon saying “Ha, you can’t get me!” And then there are the slugs. Most years they are terrifyingly prolific. But this year we have been able to work the soil in a “leisurely” fashion and it looks great! It is hard to resist romping barefoot through the freshly tilled soil. It is fluffy and smooth like chocolate cake. Succession plantings are evenly spaced this year so there should be a steady supply of most crops. This season really highlights how circumstantial the notions of “positive” and “negative” are. What is good for some is not always good for others. The warm, dry conditions are perfect for our spring work and crew morale, but the low river levels make me worry about fish habitat and elevated fire danger. All in all, life is good here at Rising River. The fields looks fabulous; full of the promise of delicious veggies
WHAT’S IN THE BOX:
Dill & cilantro or Italian parsley & basil
Chard-large shares only
Italian zucchini-large shares only
Coming soon…peas, beets, & summer squash
EXPLANATIONS AND PREPARATION IDEAS FOR BOX CONTENT:
LETTUCE:-an assortment of baby lettuces. We grow several varieties of lettuce that will rotate throughout the season. This spring we experimented with a handful of mini lettuces. They are what might happen if a romaine and a butter head had babies. They are a nice balance of crunchy and velvety.
CARROTS: No need to peel these guys. Just rinse and eat. (Chances are you will eat them all on the drive home.)
RADISHES: Add a hint of spice and crunch to your salad.
FRESH GARLIC: This variety is called Music. We grow it every year. It is a little small at this point, but we figured, why wait? To use, chop the tip off the fat end of the clove and peel off the wrapper. There is no need to refrigerate unused cloves. They will cure just fine on your counter.
GARLIC SCAPES: (See picture). They are the long, green curly-q thing in your box. They are the seed stalk of the garlic plant. The flavor is milder than garlic cloves, so you can use a lot and still be able to invite your vampire neighbors to dinner without offending. The texture is a lot like green beans or asparagus. I use them instead of garlic. I just threw some in a pot roast last night, as a matter of fact. Search our recipe section for ideas.
DRY BEANS: This is a mix of pinto, Hidatsta Shield Figure, Calypso, and Swedish Brown. They are all a very versatile bean and can be used in just about any bean dish you currently like to make. I recommend soaking for 8 or so hours before cooking.
GREEN ONIONS (AKA SCALLIONS): You can use the whole thing, cooked or raw. I often used them in place of an onion in any recipe, if I don’t have onions on hand.
KOHLRABI: (see picture) This has become one of my favorite spring vegetables. They are crunchy, sweet, and very refreshing. To use, cut in half, then into half-moon shapes. Use a pairing knife to peel away the outer skin. You will be left with the most delightful snack or appetizer. I prefer them raw, but lots of folks use them in stir fries, soups, roasts, etc.
DILL: goes great with fish, potatoes, or in a dill/maple vinaigrette (see recipe on our website)
CILANTRO: A common addition to Mexican, Thai, and Indian cuisine.
BASIL: Great in anything Italian or Thai.
ITALIAN PARSLEY: If you can scare up some new potatoes, parsley is fabulous chopped into melted butter and drizzled steamed or baked spuds. Also great in anything Italian.
CHARD:large shares only. Chard is a delightful green; a cousin to beets. Beets were bred for fat roots and chard for lush greens. It is a great addition to green smoothies. We often sauté it with garlic and onion and serve over rice, with a little sprinkle of feta cheese on top. If you eat meat, a nice bratwurst on the side, sure wouldn’t hurt.
ITALIAN ZUCCHINI: large shares only. These guys were an unintended early bonus crop. We sell tons of veggie starts at the market and to the co-ops. I had a flat of squash with no label. I suspected what it was, but couldn’t sell them with a clear conscience not truly knowing. So, we planted them. And now we have a tiny patch of very early zucchini. Use them as you would any summer squash.
GENERAL TIP: In the spring, when new veggies are coming on, I like to savor them in their simplest form. It is very common for us to put out a plate of raw carrots, kohlrabi, and peas at dinner, no matter what else we are having. It just feels so good to eat food so sweet and alive. After a winter of squash, potatoes, kale, leeks and grocery store sub-in vegetables, my taste buds are over the moon when they experience the crunchy sweetness of early carrots, the refreshing and subtle kohlrabi, tender lettuce. I WAS IN MY 20’s before I knew that vegetables could be sweet. I grew up on week old grocery store iceberg lettuce and holograms of tomatoes (you know the ones that look amazing, but have absolutely no flavor?) Canned green beans and frozen peas where the only form of either to ever pass my lips. Who knew how amazing fresh veggies could be? Once I started eating freshly picked produce, by cravings for other sugar diminished.
VEGGIE ID: 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 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.
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 (squash, 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: For 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 make your shopping list. 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.
ROTATION OF CROPS WITHIN YOUR CSA SHARE:
Veteran CSA members know this already, but for the new folks I will explain. Not everyone gets the same thing every week. We frequently rotate crops around the different pick up sites. This may happen for one of two reasons. 1.) When new crops come on, the first few harvests are usually a little light so there is not enough for all. 2.) Not everyone wants everything every week, so we alternate things like beets, chard, herbs, etc. Whatever the reason for the difference, we keep careful track of who gets what and when. It all evens out in the wash. If I post a picture on the website of a sample share for that week and it contains something you don’t have, chances are you are on the other rotation.
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. Sometimes he 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. NOTE: SINCE WE DO NOT HAVE MUCH SURPLUS AT THIS POINT THERE WILL NOT BE A BARTAR BOX TODAY. LOOK FOR IT IN FUTURE WEEKS.
COOKBOOKS: Rather than post the same recipes year after year in the newsletters, we print a cookbook with a bunch of our favorites. It is the same book as last year. Each new share gets one cookbook. There should be a book set on the table at your site with your name on it, or resting on/near your box. If you need additional copies, they can be purchased for $6. Just mail me a check. If I somehow forgot you, send me an email and I’ll leave one with your name on it the following week. Market folks can ask our market staff for additional books.
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 will get back to you as soon as I can. I deal with the administrative end of things, so ask for me.
Next week I’ll talk more about the farm and crew and help you get to know us all a little better!