Saturday, June 16, 2012

Box 6: Last of the spring!

What a great spring! We have loved filling up the boxes every week; there is something very satisfying about planting seeds, seeing plants grow to maturity, and then assembling everything into boxes. Not quite as satisfying as cooking the veggies, but still...  We have learned a lot in the process, and our first-season CSAers were wonderful to help us in the process. Thanks!

Clockwise from top: Swiss chard, kale, kohlrabi,
 basil, cucumbers, green onions, cabbage.

The Last Box of Spring!

  • Swiss Chard: any way you cook it, chard is a treat. Try it in a salad, or sauteed with garlic in a little olive oil.
  • Kale: it's back! We weren't sure the kale would last until this week, but our unusually cool June is your gain.
  • Kohlrabi: We had never grown this one before. We tried a variation of kohlrabi mashed potatoes this week, and it was a hit. Note: the peeled lower stem is crunchy and good in a salad.
  • Basil: We love basil. Seriously. Add it to anything. Try a leaf or three on a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Instead of chocolate sauce, drizzle a balsamic vinegar reduction over the top.
  • Cucumbers: It is a shame that our tomatoes aren't ready, or we would share our favorite gazpacho recipe. The cukes are still going strong: watch this space and our Facebook page; Ellie will be hosting a pickle making workshop later in June.
  • Green onions!
  • Cabbage: These are tiny, but they try so hard. Stuffed cabbage? Cabbage soup? Maybe just slaw: shred the cabbage; in a pot heat equal amounts of sugar and white vinegar (for one small head, maybe half to 3/4 cup each) and a teaspoon (or less) of celery seed. Heat just to simmer and dissolve the sugar. Pour over the cabbage, toss once, leave to cool. Serve with a side of pulled pork.
Look for the summer CSA email coming soon!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

CSA Week 5: The Boxes are In!

Can you believe we are in week 5 of the CSA already? We will be sending out a survey to members in the next week or so asking you how we did, what you liked best, and what you would change for next Spring. We are also planning our Summer CSA! The summer session will start after a break, and will include things like beans, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and assorted squash. Look for signup information soon!

Now, onto this week's box.

This week's offering includes an herb bundle from our backyard herb garden: sage, rosemary, and oregano. The sage and oregano may take root if you place them in damp sand or potting soil; otherwise, use these as fresh herbs, or hang them to dry and use later.
Sage, rosemary, and oregano (left to right)

We also have another great set of veggies:
  • Garlic! This time it is a garlic braid: hang this somewhere dry and out of direct sunlight, and you will have garlic for the next few months (less if you really love garlic.)
  • Kohlrabi: Ok, we are willing to be that this is a new one for some of you. You can eat the bulb-like stems and leaves raw, chop and sautee them, or roast the fleshy part in the oven. OR, you can try this recipe for kohlrabi puree that uses the whole plant. Think mashed potatoes, but less potato-y. 
  • Cucumbers! We were serious when we said that if any of you want bulk cukes for pickling, you should let us know... 
  • Carrots! Ok, these are not as big as last week's--and this is about it for the carrots. 
  • Swiss Chard: No beets this week, but we do have this beet cousin that is all about greens. Try it sauteed with lemon and Parmesan cheese. Don't forget to share recipes here or on FaceBook if you have a favorite! 
  • Pak Choi (Bok Choy); Well, that about does it for our Asian friend. We tried it sauteed, grilled, and steamed. How about using some of that garlic to make a spicy stir fry?
  • Basil: The bundle of herbs was just the tip of the iceberg. This is enough basil for a small batch of pesto, or a really good tomato sauce. Or, enough to make tomato, mozzarella, and basil sandwiches for your friends (note to self: keep that idea around for summer when the tomatoes come in.)
  • Onions! We still have spring onions coming in... we aren't done yet!
Next week is our last scheduled week for spring; we have had an amazing season, and can't thank you all enough for being part of our first shot at a CSA.

Oh! One last thing! EGGS! That is the egg carton in the center of the picture, above. Technically eggs don't grow in the garden, but they do come from our happy chickens--and the chickens did escape into the garden just today. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

CSA Week 4! With special guest veggies!

The whole idea of a totally self-sufficient farmstead with all of its own produce, animals, etc. is something of a myth. Here, I mean "myth" in both senses: in that it probably never existed as such and that the idea of a completely closed farm system is a powerful story. What is undoubtedly true is that most farmers are parts of tight farm communities. You bale my hay, I help you with threshing the grain--that kind of thing. When you sign on for the Oak Hill Farm CSA, you get our produce--but you also get linked to our farm community.

Our farm has been in operation since before the civil war. Back in the day, the spread was much larger and the north edge of the property included what is now Oleo Acres Farm. Tim of Oleo Acres worked for my grandfather in the 70s and 80s when this was a working dairy. Now, he and his wife Betty focus on "old time farming"--complete with a mule, two draft horses, and loads of heirloom vegetables. This week we are including 3 items from Oleo Acres in the box (beans, potatoes, and Stevia) . Oleo Acres uses the same chemical-free practices that we do, and they are right up the road from us. And, we like to give them a plug when we can.

Clockwise from upper left: Carrots, beans, cilantro, potatoes, cucumbers,
 kale, beets, pak choi, Stevia in the center.

In the box:

  • Kale! We had kale in the box last week, and it is still growing strong. Some people like this raw; we like it sauteed with garlic until it is nice and wilty. As always, feel free to share your recipes!
  • Carrots: The humble carrot. Carrot ginger soup, anyone?
  • Beets. Ok, so by now you are thinking: did these guys corner the market on beet seeds? Our beets did unusually well this year, but we love beets and beet greens so we aren't complaining. If you are looking for something different, try a Moroccan Carrot and Beet Salad.
  • Cilantro: We've heard from some of you that you hate cilantro. We've heard from others that you love cilantro. This week looks like the last of the cilantro for Spring, so enjoy it while you can! If you like it but can't use it now, you can always hang it in a dark, dry space to dry it--then you can use it all season.
  • Pak Choi (Bok Choy): Another familiar plant to CSA members--did you know you can grill it? Olive oil, salt and pepper, on a grill with relatively low heat... that's what I'm talking about.
  • Cucumbers! New for this week. And so it begins. Cucumbers just keep coming once they start. They are super versitile; try our friend Claire's recipe for 30-minute refrigerator pickles. SPECIAL NOTE: if you like making serious pickles and would like a box of just cucumbers (as an addition) later in the season, contact us.
  • Potatoes: From Oleo Acres. New potatoes are delicious, and these just came out of the ground yesterday. We rinsed them, but you probably should give them a soak and scrub before eating them. These are great roasted: cut potatoes into bite-size chunks, toss in a roasting pan with salt, pepper, olive oil, rosemary, and garlic, bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes, until they cut easily with a fork.
  • Green beans: From Oleo Acres. If you grew up eating beans from a can, these are the real deal. Wash, snap off the ends, and cook as you please. We like these steamed, but however you like your beans these will be delicious!
  • Stevia: From Oleo Acres. OK; this is a tiny bag with just a few leaves. It doesn't take much. Stevia leaves are sweet (as in 300X sweeter than sugar), and there are recipes all over the internet. If you are over 21 and enjoy an occasional cocktail, try 2 Stevia leaves in a glass with the juice of half a lemon and a shot of vodka. Add ice and shake to bruise the leaves.

Piglets Ahoy!!

Since one of our two sows had her litter of piglets late Monday-early Tuesday, we have had a flood of requests for photos; here is a closeup!

 See the entire photo album over on Google Plus.