Summer CSA Week 4

Everyone received spinach, lettuce, and kale this week. To complete your share, you were able to choose from the following: cucumbers, zucchini, green onions, new garlic, kohlrabi, broccoli, salad turnips, Chinese broccoli, beets, peas, favas, fennel bulb, ficoide glaciale, calaloo, and kimchi.

We have three different varieties of kale for you to choose from: emerald lacinato, frilly frisee, and a light green scotch kale. I like pairing peanuts with greens, either raw or lightly sauteed. Here is an option based on a dish found at Leon, a popular London restaurant. I am also a big fan of seaweed salads, and I had the inspiration to substitute kale for the seaweed. I base the dressing on one I found at the New York Times, but there are several variations. Finally, here is a twist on the now-classic kale salad–try charring the kale to add new flavors to a favorite dish.

At pickup, there will be several varieties of lettuce varying in natural sweetness and bitterness. The tall red lettuces are romaines, and they have been bred to have more bitterness than other types of lettuce. But I find if you use a strongly flavored dressing (a Caesar, for example) or use a creamy dressing, then you hardly notice the bitterness at all.

Finally, the spinach is the last we will have until the cool weather returns in the fall. But it is so nutty and toothsome–I like it raw but it also holds up well to wilting.  Here is an easy recipe for a wilted spinach salad with bacon vinaigrette. You might also want to try this lemon creamed spinach recipe:  for the vegetarians among us, you can leave out the bacon. What I like about this last recipe is that it can be eaten warm or later chilled. The acidity from the lemon works well in either case.

Summer CSA Week 3

Everyone received salad turnips, braising mix, zucchini, and ficoide glaciale this week. You could complete your share from the following:  cucumbers, lettuce, salad mix, magenta orach, spinach, bekana, broccoli, fava beans, mustard raab, Chinese broccoli, yukina savoy, kohlrabi, new garlic, green onions, napa cabbage, collards, and kale.

The braising mix can be lightly sauteed and finished with olive oil, salt, and lemon juice. It works well as a side or tossed with pasta. Handfuls stir-fried with garlic, soy sauce, and mushrooms make for a nice partner with steamed white rice and your favorite protein. Pesto is another option–just substitute it for  basil in many recipes. We also juice it with an apple and some ginger if we find it lingering in the fridge or lack the time to cook it.

The zucchini are standard as are the salad turnips (look to previous posts for ideas).

The ficoide glaciale is one of my favorite summer greens. It’s a succulent from the deserts of Southern Africa and has a lovely crunchy and well, succulent texture.  The flavor is mild like lettuce with a little acidity. We chop it  and always make a fresh salad with whatever fruit is in season (strawberries work great now), goat cheese, olive oil, and salt. It’s refreshing and never seems to get old. Our nephew who is picky when it comes to vegetables loves this green.  I haven’t ever cooked it, so if you try that, let me know the results.

The first cherry tomatoes have begun to ripen. I really can’t describe how excited I am. It will still be a few weeks before we can offer enough to satisfy everyone’s desire for tomatoes, but it is a small sign of the bounty to come. This year we changed our fertility program and nearly every crop, but especially, the tomatoes have responded well to the new regime. We prune and stake our tomatoes and many varieties are loaded with green fruit and nearly at the top of their stakes. I struggle to get enough water to these fast growing vines, but water-stressed tomatoes produce the best fruit, so I don’t worry too much.

Take care and eat well.

Mudjoy Summer CSA Week 2

Everyone received Napa cabbage, cilantro, salad turnips, and spinach. You were able to complete your share from the following: peas, kale or collards, kohlrabi, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce, broccoli, ficoide glaciale, Walla Walla onions, garlic scapes, cauliflower, new potatoes, artichokes, and magenta orach.

The Napa or Chinese cabbage can be eaten raw, stir fried, or fermented. For a nice salad, cut the cabbage thinly and marinade in your favorite dressing. I am a big fan of sesame dressing, but I think any vinegar-based dressing would work.  At our Farm Day this Saturday, someone brought a nice salad that paired the fresh Napa cabbage with peaches and a delicious dressing, though I can’t piece together what was in it. Traditionally, Napa cabbage was stir-fried and it works really well here.  Here is a recipe for a soup that combines chicken with the cabbage and a savory broth. Finally, you can make a small batch of kimchi from the cabbage. Look here for ideas.

The salad turnips are the same as we had in May, so look at the posts for Weeks 16 and 17 from the Winter/Spring CSA.

The spinach is nutty and sweet–I prefer this time of year just before the heat overwhelms the spinach crop. We like to lightly wilt it, either by briefly sauteeing it and stirring constantly or by dressing with a warm dressing.  But spinach is so mild and versatile that you can use it anywhere. Experiment and report back.

I wanted to thank all who came to our farm day this Saturday. It was a great spending time with you and enjoying the good food you brought. We will have another farm day in August, so those of you couldn’t make it will have another chance to see the farm and meet other CSA members. I hope everyone can make it.

Mudjoy Summer CSA Week 1

Everyone received sweet Italian chard, radishes, garlic scapes, and cucumbers this week. To complete your share, you chose from the following: lettuce, salad mix, cauliflower, broccoli, artichokes, new potatoes, kale/collards, spinach, braising mix, Chinese cabbage, polenta, roasting squash, zucchini, and peas.

This variety of chard is quite tender and I cut it when the leaves are young and so the stems are also small. You can eat this raw as you would spinach, and if you weren’t paying attention, you probably wouldn’t notice much of a difference in taste. It also sautees nicely. For a farmer and a cook, this variety is exciting both in the field and on the table. I hope you enjoy it. If you are looking for a simple light dish, cut the chard into ribbons and dress with a combination of lemon juice, pulverized juniper berries and olive oil (1 lemon and a 1/2 tsp of ground berries  to a 1/2 cup of oil). Wait 30 minutes and combine this with thinly sliced apples and dried fruit (raisins or cranberries work nicely). Salt to one’s taste and serve cold.

These cucumbers are a treat, sweet and without bitterness. I enjoy these just by themselves, but with all of this hot weather, I have been using them in cucumber salads. The first I made a salad by roasting garlic scapes (they would be better grilled if you have this option) and combining the chopped scapes with cucumber and radish. I made a simple lemon vinaigrette, added some of our goat cheese to the chopped vegetables, and then folded in the vinaigrette. So good.

I have been thinking of India lately, and I remembered the pickles my host mother would make for us. So I stopped by an Indian grocer on a drive home one day and purchased a jar of mango pickles. If you have never had them, they are different from anything we have in our cuisine. The sourness and sweetness is predictable, but the heat, the mix of spices, and the funk (like preserved lemons in this way) is really memorable. I took two tablespoons of the pickle along with two or three diced cucumbers and a few radishes, a 1/2 cup of yogurt, and some salt and stirred well. Let the salad sit for 15 minutes to marinade and eat at room temperature. A sort of mangle pickle raita. We ate it with Greek potato salad, some halibut, and an assortment of grilled vegetables.  We were kings that night!

Finally, the radishes and garlic scapes. The radishes combine heat with sweetness, and I don’t mind them sliced thinly and just tossed in a little vinegar and salt. We have also been tucking them into salads for their texture. One of our members remarked on how she had had them with goat cheese and crackers. The scapes taste like mild garlic and can be used in the same places as them. However, they have such a different texture than proper garlic that I would encourage you to savor them in their own right rather than using them as seasoning. My best suggestion for these:  marinade with a little soy sauce, olive oil, and vinegar and grill them.

Take care and eat well.

Mudjoy Spring CSA Week 20

This week everyone will receive salad turnips, storage squash, and braising mix. You can choose the remainder of your share from the following: leek scapes, arugula, radishes, cornmeal, arichokes, cucumbers, bok choi, chinese cabbage, green garlic, lettuce, Japanese collards, pea shoots, and cauliflower.

The storage squash are a medley of Brazilian varieties from the moschata family. They all have deep orange, aromatic flesh with good sweetness. They are medium-sized, so they aren’t as intimidating as some of the other varieties we grow. I love to roast them whole at 375 for an hour.  I then cut the squash open and remove the seeds.  For breakfast, I cut off a wedge and eat this with nuts and dried cranberries or some goat cheese.  It’s quick and healthy and needs no additional sweeteners.  The seeds can be eaten out of hand or used to make pesto.

The braising mix is a combination of mizuna, ruby streaks mustard, tatsoi, baby chinese cabbage, arugula, pea shoots, leaf amaranth, and baby chard.  The mix is tender enough to be eaten raw, though we like to stir fry it with a stalk or two of green garlic and plenty of soy sauce and a touch of vinegar.  If you are looking for an excuse to make quiche, these greens hold up well to the cheese and eggs in that dish.

Mudjoy Spring CSA Week 19

Everyone received salad turnips, a jar of our aji limon salsa, and green garlic.  You were able to choose the rest of your share from the following:  radishes, arugula, braising mix, chinese cabbage, polenta, leek scapes, artichokes, cucumbers, rhubarb, oregano, mitsuba, sweet potatoes, pea shoots, and winter squash.

The salad turnips are the same as last week, but with the warming weather, you might want to consider grilling them instead of eating them raw or boiled/steamed.  The key with grilling them is to cut them on the thick side (1/4 to 1/3 of an inch), toss in a little oil, and cook at high heat to get a good sear.  Finish with plenty of salt and a little more olive oil.  These make a great side to grilled ribs or other meats.

The salsa was made last fall from ingredients grown on our farm (except for the vinegar and salt).  They are nice prelude to the this season’s tomatoes and peppers.  (We have small green fruit on our tomato vines, so hopefully it won’t be too long before we can begin to send these fruits your way).  We are proud of the flavor of the salsa, and our combination of tomato varieties with the aji limon pepper make for a salsa that tastes very different than your traditional red sauce.  We hope you enjoy.

Mudjoy Spring CSA Week 18

Everyone received spaghetti squash, salad turnips, and green garlic this week. You were able to complete your share from the following: braising mix, fava greens, mustard greens, fennel bulb, whole wheat flour, beets, daikon, cauliflower, artichokes, leek scapes, Asian stir fry greens, arugula, shallots, and cucumbers.

Cooking ideas for turnips can be seen in the last two posts on the blog, but please let me know if you happen upon a way of eating/cooking these that you think I should share. I really love these gems, and I want to make sure that our members enjoy them as well.

The spaghetti squash is a standard variety. I recommend roasting it whole for around an hour at 375F. Once you can insert a fork easily into the rind, it’s done. I prefer to undercook mine slightly, so that the strings of squash retain their heft and don’t fall apart easily. They resemble their namesake pasta more this way.

An easy sauce for the squash would involve minced green garlic, butter, parmesan, lemon juice, and a bit of salt and black pepper. If you are a meat eater, pan-fried pork sausage with a little sage goes quite well with this squash.  You could try a spicy, Chinese sausage as another alternative.

The green garlic is the immature form of the garlic plant prior to its forming cloves or a scape. Treat it like you would garlic, though it is milder in flavor, and so I tend to use it raw (thrown in at the last moment) or add twice as much green garlic for garlic cloves when cooking it. Regardless, dice or mince it and let it rest for ten minutes to get the most health benefits. The Los Angeles Times has a great recipe primer for green garlic here. I also ran upon this recipe for spicy green garlic soup that is on my list of things to cook this week.  A note on storing green garlic:  put it in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer and it should keep for a couple weeks.

Mudjoy Spring CSA Week 17

This week everyone received salad turnips, leeks, and fava greens. You chose the rest of your share from the following: sweet potatoes, polenta, kabocha squash, beets, fennel bulb, artichokes, dalia root, braising mix, mustard greens, cauliflower, chives, shungiku, oregano, and garlic.

The salad turnips are the same as last week, and if you didn’t try any of the recipes from last week’s blog, take a look. You might also consider sauteeing them for 10 minutes and then dressing with salsa de mani, an Ecuadorian peanut sauce that makes about anything taste delicious. We also made them a few weeks ago with a pumpkin seed-cilantro pesto that was really nice. I think that heavier sauces (butter and nut-based sauces for example) add weight to the turnips, which can be watery and insubstantial by themselves.

The leeks are the same as we have had in the past and substitute well for onions in most recipes.

The fava greens are the tender tops of fava plants. I wait until the plants  flower as I have read that this is the point where the plant’s root system is deepest and it has mined the soil of the most nutrients. The idea is that the plant is also at the peak of its nutrition as it prepares to pass on those nutrients to its seeds. Regardless, these greens are delicious and remind me of pea shoots with a floral dimension. They cook quickly, and it is easy to overcook them (they darken in color when this happens).

I like to turn off the heat on whatever dish I am intending them for and fold them in at the end. Wait a few minutes and the residual heat will cook them perfectly. They are great with pasta (add olive oil, garlic, and a dry cheese and you have a quick meal). Jim made a simple salad with barely warmed fava greens, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and plenty of salt and pepper. It was perfect in its simplicity. They work well in soups and stews, but just remember to add them at the very end.

Mudjoy Winter CSA Week 16

Everyone received cauliflower, baby beets, turnips, and radishes this week. You were able to choose the rest of your share from the following: mustard greens, fava greens, fennel, rapini, braising mix, sweet potatoes, polenta, strawberry crown winter squash, rhubarb, shungiku, celery, sorrel, garlic, shallots, and flowering chives.

We roast our baby beets at 400F for 45 minutes, checking around 30 minutes to see how done they are. I prefer my beets soft and caramelized, so I often leave them closer to an hour in the oven. It all depends on the size of the beets. Once roasted, they can be used in many ways. Dollops of chevre and good olive oil are great accompaniments to them.  Friends invited us out to dinner at a nearby restaurant and I had a delicious salad of chicory, sliced apple, roasted beets, and thinly sliced red onions.  I don’t know exactly what was in the vinaigrette, but I would guess cider vinegar, olive oil, mustard, and perhaps some garlic. Yotam Ottolenghi has a recipe for a beet salad with leeks and walnuts. He takes roasted beets, boiled leeks (10 minutes simmered), and combines with the dressing described here.

Japanese salad turnips combine sweetness with just a hint of spice. They are wonderful raw or lightly marinaded in a vinaigrette. But my favorite recipe lightly features a butter miso sauce ( I usually substitute the mirin with white wine).

The radishes are a mix of colors and like the turnips are nice raw. Try this great salad made with turnips and white beans. I  have never eaten radishes this way, but some authors recommend pairing radishes with soft cheese like fresh mozzarella or  feta. If neither of these approaches inspire you, here is a compendium of recipes that hopefully will give you inspiration.

Mudjoy Winter CSA Week 14

Everyone received cauliflower, cabbage, and tromboncino squash this week. To complete your share, you chose from the following: sorrel, chives, castelfranco chicory, purple sprouting broccoli, garlic, cleavers, beets, leeks, lettuce, spinach, potatoes, sunchokes, sweet potatoes, mustard greens, nettles, and an herb bundle (parsley, sage, and thyme).

For cauliflower ideas, check last week’s post and weeks 9 and 10 as well.  In passing, one of our members mentioned loving cauliflower soup topped with mustard croutons.  Though I didn’t catch what her recipe source was for this dish, Yotam Ottolenghi has a version here.

Here is a recipe for apple cider vinegar-braised cabbage that is a cinch and great for those of you who are gluten-free.  If you want a side dish with more body, try this curry that combines cabbage with the warm spices of Indian cuisine and finishes with tangy yogurt.  Another approach would be to roast the cabbage and then dress with a chimichurri or mint chutney.

Finally, the tromboncino.  That tromboncino.  This overly enthusiastic member of the butternut family is cooked in the same as its tamer relative.  The neck is pure meat, so I often discard the bell of the squash and feed this to the chickens, using only the neck for recipes.  Cut the neck into several smaller pieces that can fit in a roasting pan, and roast at 350F for an hour till soft.  The skin can be peeled off afterwards very easily.  Alternatively, you could peel before hand, chop the squash into bite-size pieces, and roast this way after coating with a little canola oil.  Toss with salt and black pepper, or use one of the sauces mentioned above. Ottolenghi has a famous recipe for roasted eggplant with yogurt sauce and pomegranate seeds–and I wonder if one could substitute the eggplant with roasted squash. The creaminess from the yogurt and the astringency from the pomegranate seeds might pair nicely with the sweet earthiness of the squash.  Let me know if you try this idea.

Take care and eat well.