CSA Week 22

Many thanks to those of you who made it out to Farm Day. The food was great, and the company even better.  Living in the country, we don’t get the chance to have people over very often, especially our friends from Portland.  So, we were happy to see all of you.  
 
 This week, everyone will receive green garlic, storage squash, and bok choi in their share. You were able to choose the remainder of your share from the following list:  salad turnips, radishes, salad mix, arugula, Walla Walla onions, parching corn, cornmeal, mint, chives, tatsoi, spinach, chicory mix, wheat berries, sorrel, and maceratese.  
 
The green garlic is immature garlic, and though it resembles a large scallion, it has the flavor of garlic.  Add it where you would garlic cloves.   You will have a range of squash to pick from:  spaghetti squash, tromboncini, strawberry crown, and few others.  Think about recipes–sweet v. savory–and we can help you choose a variety that will work for you.  The bok choi look fantastic and combined with the green garlic, tofu, tamari, and perhaps a little of the walla walla onions you got last week (or ordered this week), would make a nice stir-fry.  Here are a few recipes you might consult:  http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/5-ways-with-bok-choy/

Ducklings

We welcomed a group of ducklings and goslings to our farm this week, and these little ones are busy gobbling up food in our brooder aka Ducklingham Palace.  Waterfowl grow so much more quickly than chickens–the goslings will be out on grass in three weeks, and the ducklings in another week or so after that.  They are marvels.
Those of you who have visited the farm in the past, might be scratching your head.  ‘Wait, I thought you got rid of your ducks and geese LAST year.’
We did.  Not because we didn’t enjoy them–I think ducks are great clowns and if ever I need a lifting of my mood, I visit them.  But we were having trouble selling their eggs and had a ‘if they don’t pay, they have to go’ moment.   So we sold our ducks and geese.
But we have had such epic problems with slugs in the intervening year.  We use Sluggo, an organic slug control, but it’s very pricey.  So pricey that it’s cheaper to support a small flock of ducks to eat our slugs than it is to keep buying Sluggo. Neither does Sluggo provide eggs and meat.  Beyond costs, I always prefer a biological control to a chemical control.  Chemicals don’t evolve, but biological controls are living and can evolve along side their prey.  Slugs could become resistant to Sluggo, but it is less likely they would figure out a way to outwit a duck.
So the ducks and their guardian geese have returned to Mudjoy.
(In case you are worried, we don’t let the ducks into parts of the garden that have food.  We rotate them around the edges and leave sections inside to fallow during the summer.  The ducks go here.  Slugs migrate up to 150 feet, so hopefully over time, they will find themselves in a part of the garden where there are ducks, and gulp, they become a duck meal. )
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Everyone will receive green Walla Walla onions, parching corn and maceratese in their share this week.  You were able to choose the rest of your share from the following list:  sorrel, chives, rhubarb, sage, oregano, mint, lettuce, celery, shallots, leeks, popcorn, polenta, dried chiles, arugula, turnips, radishes, senposai, kale, scorzonera leaf, and catnip.
Parched corn is what corn nuts are.   Growing up in the South, we ate our good share of this snack.  For those of you who have never parched corn, here’s a simple recipe.  You can add salt, chili powder and lime to spice it up or brown sugar/dried fruit to sweeten it. Or just eat it plain.
Enjoy!

Opening Day at King Market!

This week of weird and warm weather was spent  transplanting hundreds of little plants.  All eventually will yield good food. We got the last of our late potatoes in the ground and also sowed seeds for another round of beets and spinach.  It was a week of hard work, but one that you feel proud from. 
 
Our new asparagus planting has just started to emerge, and patches of crimson clover that made it through the December deep freeze are sending up their red flower spikes here and there around the field.  The greenhouse tomatoes transplants have taken hold and are growing lustily. And just as I was beginning to despair about the dryness of the soil, it rained last night. Perfect.  
 
As a reminder,  this week we will have CSA pickup today at King Market from 10am to 2pm. Please bring any maroon Mudjoy resuable bags that you may have.  We’ll trade you an empty one for a full bag of fresh produce.  
 
This week everyone will receive spaghetti squash, erba stella, and the last of our sweet potatoes.  The sweet potatoes are small and funnily shaped, but they still taste great and who knows, maybe their shapes will inspire you in the kitchen.  Remember with the erba stella, saute with olive oil until bright green and then add just a bit of cooking liquid or water and steam finish.  Dress with sea salt, more olive oil, and a lemon juice, and you will have a delicious side. 
 
For those of you who received the flowering chives, remember that you eat the flowers not the stalks. A deft cut to the base of the flower ball will release tens of little purple chive flowers. Scatter these atop dishes like you would chopped chive leaves.  We steeped a bunch of these flowers in vinegar this week, and they make a beautiful and tasting infusion that goes well with salads and cooked greens.  For those of you who chose the chiles, these are a cayenne variety, whole pod, and can be made into cayenne chili powder by running them in your coffee grinder for a few seconds, seeds and all.  If you don’t have a grinder, enough time spent with a sharp knife and a cutting board will yield similar results.

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For all of our market customers, this is the first week of the King Market.  I know it’s rainy, but we would love to see you come out and visit the market.  We will have leeks, mint, maceratese, senposai, oregano, baby kale, salad mix, popcorn, flowering chives, shungyko, komatsuna, arugula, sorrel, cutting celery, mustard greens, and Hakurei salad turnips for sale.  

Social

We have been busy transplanting when the rain allows and working inside the greenhouses when it doesn’t. Our second intern, Haley, joined us, and she has been a wonderful addition to our farm.  I think human groups are a bit like curries:  a little bit of spice, a little bit of heat, a little bit of sugar, a little bit of salt make for the most interesting combination.  The medley of Jim’s, Michael’s, Haley’s and my personalities is working out well, and I am very hopeful for the upcoming season.  
 
As of today, we have potatoes and oca in the ground, and we just transplanted new artichokes to replace the ones that we lost during December’s deep freeze.  All of our tomatoes and the first succession of cucumbers are now in our greenhouses under row cover to keep them warm.  Transplanting the tomatoes was like meeting old friends; many of the varieties conjure memories of summers past, of sweet juice running down one’s face, of plates of caprese salad, and of that incredible smell that tomatoes exhale. 
 
We have two new bee hives on the farm.  Though the rain has kept them cooped up the last few days, the bees seem to be doing well. When they first arrive, I feed them sugar syrup if the weather gets cool, and so yesterday, I opened up the hives to replenish their feeders.  I don’t use smoke with our bees, and so I could enjoy the sweet and resinous smell of the hive that wafted up after I took off the hive roof.  Bees are the consummate foragers;  not only do they find all their food, but they also gather resins from trees to keep molds and bacteria at bay inside the hive and serve as a glue that cements the individual hive boxes together.  
 
Bees are a marvel, and so are we.  I was just reading the other day that the dominant species on the earth are all social creatures:  ants and humans are the two most striking examples. There is a logic to it;  cooperation allows the group to survive even if some of its members do not.  I like to think that by tending bees we humans have extended our ‘group’ beyond even our own species. 
 
This week will be our last CSA drop-off at our winter location, and starting next week our CSA members can pick up their shares at our booth at King Farmers Market.  It’s incredible to think that the markets are beginning again; time moves so quickly.  This season we will be expanding to a second market in McMinnville, which is just fifteen minutes away from the farm.  If you happen to find yourself in this little town on Thursday afternoons, drop by and say hi.  
 
In the share for this week, everyone will receive garlic, chicory, and your pick of cilantro, mustard greens, or cauliflower.  To complete the share, you were able to choose from the following list of items:  fresh oregano, leeks, onions, maceratese, bekana, flowering chives, kale, sprouting broccoli/rapini, sorrel, parsnips, erba stella, lettuce, popcorn, stridolo, Japanese collards, and cornmeal.
 
Many of you will receive mustard greens today, and here’s a simple recipe that marries these spicy greens with peanuts and tofu (though it’s easy enough to substitute another protein like chicken).  The wonderful thing about mustard greens is that you can throw them into anything, and they add a subtle zing to whatever you are cooking.  I would recommend de-ribbing our mustard greens as the ribs can be fibrous unless you cook them for long periods. 
 
For the chicory, here’s a recipe for a pasta dish that we have played with in the past.  If you are vegetarian, just omit the sausage and up the olive oil and cheese.  Any type of pasta will do–no need to use the orecchiette.  
 
Finally, for those of you who ordered the stridolo, here are some recipe ideas.  This green is normally foraged in the wild in Italy and shows up in spring egg dishes (you have both stridolo and eggs in abundance at the same time).  I normally pick off the blade-like leaves and then snap the stem where it breaks easily and use the tender part above the break.  I will admit it is a bit of work to pluck off the leaves, but they make for a nice addition to egg salads once chopped.  I could also see adding them whole to vegetable broth with some garlic and leeks and heating gently until everything is tender.  A slice of whole wheat bread with butter and a cup of this soup would keep hunger at bay.  Of course they can be wilted and tossed with your favorite pasta if you are running short on time.  
 
Take care and eat well. 

Mudjoy CSA Week 17

This week everyone received whole wheat flour, storage squash, and rapini in their share.  You were able to choose the rest of you share from the following:  mustard greens, leeks, bekana, maceratese, purple sprouting broccoli, garlic, oregano, sage, onions, erba stella, popcorn, kale, parsnips, salad mix, and rhubarb.

We enjoyed the rapini on homemade pizzas this week.  Here is a recipe for a whole wheat crust that’s quick.  After adding tomato sauce to your crust, you can scatter chopped rapini on top with whatever other toppings you enjoy. Finish with grated cheese and cook at 450 to 500F for 10 to 14 minutes (depending on how hot your oven gets).

For those of you who chose a desert squash, you might try this take on a bread pudding.  You will need to roast and cook the pumpkin/desert squash before hand, but it’s a great way to use any leftover pumpkin you might have.

Miscellini

In this week’s share, everyone received castelfranco chicory, Asian stir fry mix, garlic, and rapini.  You were able to choose the remainder of your share from the following:  cress, kale, bekana, leeks, chives, parsnips, polenta, maceratese, braising mix, sorrel, spinach, purple sprouting broccoli, oregano, thyme, and lettuce.

The chicory heads this week are very large, so I would suggest cooking with at least part of the head, though if you love raw chicory salads, you will be well supplied this week!  The flavor of chicory is bitter, but cooking helps moderate that.  Here’s a simple recipe that combines apples and bacon with braised chicory.

Our Asian stir fry mix is composed of bok choi, komatsuna, golden frill and ruby streaks mustard greens, and ho mi z. Jim likes to always have some cooked white rice on hand, and if you are in need of a quick meal fried rice with this stir fry mix would make for an easy dinner.   Check out this recipe for ideas or inspiration.

Though I use the word rapini, what I am actually referring to is miscellini.  Rapini are technically the florets of a type of turnip bred for its flowers.  But all the brassicas (think cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi…)  produce florets in the spring.  So this week you will have a choice between kalini (the florets of kale) and brussels sproutini (I know–work with me here).  These are wonderful as a side just steamed, sauteed, or grilled with a little salt, olive oil, and lemon juice.  Brussels sproutini actually taste like brussels sprouts, so you can fry and brown them in butter as would the regular sprouts. Hope you enjoy this spring treat.

Take care and eat well.

 

 

Kids

Our does gave birth to four kids last week. Here are a few photos of the young ones.

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Everyone received garlic, bok choi, spaghetti squash, and rapini in their share this week. To complete the rest of your share, you were able to choose from spinach, miner’s lettuce, leeks, onions, kale, sorrel, chives, oca, parsnips, salad mix, chicory mix, cornmeal, popcorn, wild greens, rhubarb, nettles, bekana, and extra rapini.

The spaghetti squash can be roasted, the pulp removed with a fork, and the strands used like pasta. I could see wilting the bok choi with sesame oil and soy sauce, adding some garlic, ginger, and green onion (if you have any from last week left) and tossing with the spaghetti squash. You could add your favorite protein to make it a more substantial meal. If you are adventuresome, here’s also a recipe for Pad Thai using spaghetti squash.

This week Jim adapted a recipe from The Moosewood Cookbook using rapini. It was delicious and comforting food.

Rapini-Rice Casserole

1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds

1 tsp olive oil
2 cups uncooked brown rice
1 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
2 cups diced onion
2 lbs chopped rapini (remove very end of the stem)
1 tsp of salt
4 – 5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne
black pepper, to taste
1-2 beaten eggs (or boiled flax seeds – see instructions below)
1 cup lowfat milk (optional)
1/2 cup packed grated cheddar
paprika

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9 X 13 inch baking pan.

2) In a small 4 X 4 baking pan, add pumpkin or sunflower seeds, 1 tsp of oil and salt to taste, mix well and bake for 15 min or until seeds begin to brown nicely.

3) Place the rice in a medium sized saucepan with 3 cups water and 1 tsp butter, salt to taste. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower to the slowest possible simmer. Cook covered and undisturbed for 35 to 40 min. Remove from the heat, transfer to a mixing bowl and fluff with a fork. [We made rice a different way, so feel free to use your own method]
4) Heat the oil in a deep skillet on medium heat. Add onion and saute 5 to 8 min, until soft. Add spinach, 1 tsp salt and garlic and cook about 5 minutes more over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add this to the rice, along with the seasonings and 3/4 cup of the pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Mix well.
5) Beat 1-2 eggs and add to milk or add milk with flax seed mixture. Stir this into the rapini-rice mixture along with the grated cheese. Save some cheese to spread over casserole in the last step.
6) Spread into the prepared pan, sprinkle with remaining pumpkin or sunflower seeds and grated cheese, dust with paprika.
7) Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 min, until heated through and lightly browned on the top.

Since I am allergic to eggs, Jim used flax seed in place of eggs here. If you are vegan or are wanting to substitute the eggs for another reason, try this trick. In a small saucepan, add 1/3 cup flax seeds and 1/3 cup water. Bring to a boil while stirring. Turn the burner off and let this sit for 10 min. It should thicken similar to an egg white.

CSA Week 14

This week in your share everyone will receive parsnips, spinach, and chicory.  You were able to choose the remainder of your share from the following list:  garlic, leeks, scallions, lettuce, rapini, kale, mustard greens, mizuna, cress, sorrel, polenta, popcorn, nettles, foraged greens, and our braising mix.  

If you are struggling with what to do with parsnips,  here’s a nice recipe with salmon.  Earlier this week, I braised them in duck broth with garlic, olive oil, and thyme for an hour at 350F in the oven, and they were delicious.  

Chicory is a bitter green, but this can be lessened by soaking in ice water or by cooking them.  Here’s an interesting recipe for chicory salad that you might enjoy.  

1000 Words

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Everyone will receive spinach, erba stella, onions, and storage squash this week. You chose the remainder of your share from the following list: rapini, salad mix, mache, garlic, leeks, parsnips, radishes, cornmeal, rosemary, thyme, oca, sorrel, chives, kale, foraged greens, nettles, and burdock.

Several of you have lamented that you never get to use our flour because baking bread is too intimidating or time consuming. I have been thinking about this, and you could combine the squash from this week with the flour from last share to make pumpkin pancakes. Since they use baking soda as leaven, they are a quick and easy way to cook with our flour. When I lived in Austin, there was a restaurant called Kirby Lane Cafe, and they had the best gingerbread pancakes, but in the fall for a spell, they would also make pumpkin pancakes. They were delicious. Here’s a recipe.

Erba stella can be eaten raw or lightly cooked. I would recommend sauteeing it and finishing with olive oil, salt, and a squeeze of lemon. But you could also try this approach.

For those of you who got the radishes, they are wonderful raw, but I just had them fried in butter (cut in half prior). I was surprised at how nice they were, firm but not crunchy, sweet but with a little bit of spice remaining.

Take care and eat well.

Return

After a long time away from the farm, it’s good to return.  Jim and Julie endured a very cold winter and the signs are still present:  so much of our overwintering crops are dead stumps and the fields are muddy, bare after our cover crop was killed by the deep cold in December.   But spring is coming and the signs are rife:  the grass in our pastures is thickening, the brassicas that did survive are sending up rapini, and our beds of arugula in the greenhouse are tilting with their beautiful and delicious flowers.

It’s still cool and when there is rain, the gray and cold weighs on the soul.  But there has been sun most days since I returned, and this carries with it hope.  Enough hope.

Our farm and the little part of Oregon that we frequent now feels like our home.  It’s been almost four years since we landed in Oregon, three since we started the farm.

Finally, there is that deep ache that one feels on the return flight when one passes over the patchwork of fields and towns that is our Willamette Valley. The expectation that rises when we leave Dayton and drive the last few miles to the farm on Wallace Road.   The smile that unfolds as we turn down the gravel road, the house so small, then growing, then upon us as the drive swings between the big leaf maples and the giant fir.  And Zola, our little dog, running out to greet us and the flock of chickens swarming at the sound of humans.  We’re home.

I wonder how long it takes for a new place to become home.   Is it a matter of attachment, of whether you are focused on the future and occupying this new place or on the past and your connections to the old one?  What about friends  and the forest of memories that reminds that this place is special and yours.  And theirs.  Is it a matter of brute time, of awakening to the same images and sounds over months and years?   Maybe they wear down a part of us until they fit smooth.  

I am reminded of a poem by Kay Ryan.

THINGS SHOULDN’T BE SO HARD

A life should leave
deep tracks:
ruts where she
went out and back
to get the mail
or move the hose
around the yard;
where she used to
stand before the sink,
a worn-out place;
beneath her hand
the china knobs
rubbed down to
white pastilles;
the switch she
used to feel for
in the dark
almost erased.
Her things should
keep her marks.
The passage
of a life should show;
it should abrade.
And when life stops,
a certain space—
however small —
should be left scarred
by the grand and
damaging parade.
Things shouldn’t
be so hard.

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Everyone will receive whole wheat flour, garlic, arugula, and parsnips in their share this Saturday.  You will choose the rest of your share from the following list:  sorrel, chicory, wild greens mix (cleavers, baby thistle, bittercress, chickweed, lapsara, and dandelion), oca, sunchokes, mustard greens, baby kale, scallions, cress, spinach, nettles, cabbage, leeks, burdock, braising mix, popcorn, and erba stella.

For those of you who are curious about how to use nettles, see this site for useful information.

We have been eating a fresh chicory salad with blood oranges and a dressing made from whole milk yogurt, a pinch of salt, and some fresh arbequina olive oil that one of our friends gave us.  It’s simple and quick, but full of flavor.

If you are looking for a creative way to dress up fresh greens, try adding pickled raisins to your salads.  The combination of sweet and sour is a nice compliment to arugula, spinach, and erba stella. Here is one recipe.  We combine the raisins with the greens, a generous splash of olive oil, and soft cheese like feta or chevre.

Take care and eat well.