Growing the good stuff in Athens, GA since 2006

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

CSA Pickups -- Week 9 -- Carrots

Roots Farm CSA Week 9: June 28 & July 1

This Week:
-Carrots: Napoli, Bolero, Nelson, Yaya
-Kale: Winterbor, Red Russian, White Russian, Rainbow Lacinato
-Sweet Onions (“Vidalia-type Yellow Granex)
-Potatoes: Pontiac Red
-Cucumbers: Lemon
-Beans!: Rattlesnake Pole Beans
-Okra!: Burgundy & Clemson Spineless
-Berries: Blueberries, Blackerries, Wineberries
-Melons: Diplomat, SunJewel
-Tomatoes!: SunGold Cherry, Juliet Roma, various hybrids

On the Farm . . .
The heat has really taken a toll on things, but we’ve got hope that the afternoon rains and lower temperatures may help bring the crops back around. In the meantime, we’re working on some infrastructure and we just installed some drainage pipe in our processing area and covered it with gravel, so muddy driveway and walkway, be gone! For those of you who pick up on farm, you’ll notice the disappearance of the sketchy tin-covered hole with the broken PVC pipe--part of our drainage system that has now been repaired and tied into the new stuff and re-buried underground. Hopefully later this week, we’ll be installing quick hoops in the big upper field to cover the sweet potatoes that are outside the fence. The quick hoops are new, 4-foot tall hoops that can be used in place of a greenhouse or to cover large plants with fabric, which is what we plan to do. New experiments in farming. Also going on and experimental, we’ve seeded more okra for the late summer season, as well as pinkeye purplehull peas and butter beans. This heat is really working our current crops, so we’re trying to find other things to take their places that will hold up better. We’ll let you know what happens.

Workday Saturday, July 9th!
Come on out and join us for our July workday--Saturday, July 9th from 8-11am. That’s slightly earlier than we have been hosting them, but it’s July, so let’s beat the heat a bit. As always, we’ll be serving you up some home-cooked, farm-fresh BRUNCH afterwords. So get your sunhat and roll on out to the farm. We’ll be weeding, seeding, processing garlic, and who knows what all else. Hope to see you in a couple of weeks!

Bitter Cukes
So it’s come to our attention that some of the regular green cukes, the Marketmores to be specific, are bitter. Inedibly bitter. I was hoping it was a fluke cuke here and there, but survey says folks have gotten more bitter than not. Why, you say? Again, it’s the heat. Apparently when it’s too hot, cucumbers produce more cucurbitacins, a bitter chemical that usually is more confined to the stem end and skin, and those can infiltrate the whole fruit making it too bitter to eat. The Marketmores are planted in the hoop house, which gets pretty darn hot, so that’s not a total shock. Our apologies if you’ve gotten some of those bitter fruits. We’re now culling all the Marketmores from the share boxes and making them available as seconds if you want to try your luck with them. We’ll be handing out more Lemon cucumbers now, and some of the outdoor-planted (versus in the hoop house) Sultan cukes, both of which seem to be bitter-free for now. I recommend that you enjoy them while they last. The Marketmores and Sultans are beginning to fail. We’ll be seeding more soon, but there may be a stint of time when we have to go cucumber-less.

In Your Share
We’ve got lots of new stuff coming out, and some old stuff finishing up. New out--Rattlesnake Pole Beans: a purple-streaked bean, these are tender and delicious even large. It’s our first year growing them and so far, I have to say I’m impressed. Lovely lime green vines with lavender flowers and streaked beans. I don’t know if the streaking holds when cooked since I haven’t cooked any yet, but I can testify that they are sweet and delicious raw. New out--Burgundy & Clemson Spineless Okra. The okra is now beginning and we’re pretty excited to see it start appearing in your baskets. I eat it raw as well as cooked and recommend pan-frying it without breading or grilling it as my favorite approach . . . well, or making veggie gumbo. New out--Tomatoes. Finally, the tomatoes begin. It’s just a small bit this week. I expect to see a continuous trickle from the hoop houses until the outdoor plantings catch up with us--those seem hardier and more full of fruits. Please be patient while we wait for these summer staples to arrive in force. In between--the melons are seemingly on break for this week with just a few trickling in, though there are many more on the vines that I think will be ready next week. Ending--carrots. It’s been a long, wonderful couple of months of carrots coming out and now we’re running out of them. Love them this week because I think it’s their last. Ending--potatoes. Our supply dwindles; so it goes. Ending--blueberries. For real? Yep, it seems like we just haven’t had as big or long of a harvest this year and they’re really slowing down. For those of you still interested in getting your blueberry fix, we’ll be offering pints from our neighbor Jim’s Farm for sale at pickups for $5/pint, which is a steal, below their usual going rate. They’re amazing, fat berries, highly quality controlled and well worth the money. Check your email for more details on that front. . .

Are returning to the spotlight this week. You’ve been getting a lot of them, so hey, perhaps you’d like more carroty inspiration. Here goes . . .

Creamy Dilled Carrot Slaw
4 medium carrots, grated
1-2 garlic scapes, finely chopped
1 Tbsp finely chopped dill
1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt & fresh ground black pepper

Combine the carrots, garlic scapes, and dill in a medium bowl. Add the oil and toss to coat. Add buttermilk and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours to allow flavors to develop. Stir well and adjust seasonings. Enjoy! Makes 2 servings.

Stir-Fried Cabbage & Carrots
2 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 medium cabbage, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp peanut/vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced and peeled
2 cups shredded carrots
salt & pepper
minced parsley or cilantro

Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside. Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add peanut/veggie oil, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry for a few seconds, without allowing the garlic to brown. Add carrots and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add cabbage and stir-fry until tender, 5-7 minutes. Add soy sauce mixture and heat through, stirring to coat vegetables thoroughly. Serve immediately, sprinkled with parsley or cilantro. Makes 4 servings.

Potato Cakes with Carrot
2 eggs
1+ Tbsp minced fresh dill
¾ lb carrots (4 carrots)
½ lb Yukon Gold or other potatoes (3-4 medium)
salt & pepper to taste
4 Tbsp flour
oil for cooking
sour cream or butter

Beat eggs and dill in mixing bowl. Grate potatoes, sweet potatoes, and/or carrots. Squeeze excess liquid from grated mixture (I use my hands and do it in batches, or you can use a colander and press it, or a towel and wring it out). Place in bowl with eggs and dill and add salt and pepper and flour. Stir well. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat and add oil of your choice for cooking. Cook potato cakes in batches. I usually spoon cakes about 2-3 inches in diameter and ½-1 inch thick in size into the pan and fit 3-4 cakes per batch. Fry until cakes are browned on one side and flip to brown the other. Add additional oil as needed. Serve hot with sour cream or butter—I like to chop more dill to add to the sour cream and use that as a spread for the cakes. Makes 4 servings.

Carrot Almond Cake
1 1/2 cups steamed, pureed carrots
6 eggs, separated
2 cups honey or sugar
2 Tbsp ground almonds or flour
1 tsp grated orange zest
1 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp ground cardamon
cream cheese frosting (optional)

Head oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 9-inch cake pan. Combine pureed carrots with egg yolks and honey or sugar. Mix in ground almonds, orange zest, salt, and cardamon. Beat egg whites in clean, separate bowl until stiff and fold into carrot mixture. Spread in pan. Bake until springy, about 45 minutes. Cool. Frost with cream cheese frosting, if desired. Makes 8-10 servings. From the From Asparagus to Zucchini cookbook.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

CSA Pickups -- Week 8 -- Kale

Roots Farm CSA Week 8: June 21 & 24

This Week:
-Carrots: Napoli, Bolero, Nelson, Yaya
-Kale: Winterbor, Red Russian, White Russian, Rainbow Lacinato
-Sweet Onions (“Vidalia-type Yellow Granex)
-Potatoes: Pontiac Red
-Cucumbers: Marketmore, Sultan, Lemon
-Cabbage: Savoy
-Fresh Garlic
-Berries: Blueberries, Blackerries, Wineberries
-Melons! Diplomat, SunJewel
-Basil or Rosemary
-Flowers: Sunflowers, Zinnias

On the Farm . . .
Melons! Ah, melons . . . I’ve been watching them swell on the vines for weeks now. They’re so pretty, so magical. I didn’t think there would be melons in the shares this week, but as we were picking basil this morning I smelled ripe melons so strongly that I wondered over to the melon patch to investigate. And low and behold melons are ready. Yesterday they were not tan; yesterday they were green. But that was yesterday. Today they are tan, ripe, and aromatic. This week’s choices are Diplomat, a green-fleshed muskmelon with an amazingly sweet smell and flavor, and SunJewel, an Asian melon with crispy white flesh and a yellow and white striped rind. Both are delicious. I’m so excited they’re finally here!

It’s nice to have something to rave about this week as the first thing on my mind when I sit to write. If I think about it, it’s been a lovely, amazing season for a whole bunch of stuff so far--prolific kale, lovely cabbages, the biggest carrots I’ve ever grown, plentiful beets, cucumbers out the whazoo, and lots of lettuce, turnips, and radishes. It’s been good. May the melons be a sign that, despite what challenges arise, it will continue to be good.

Blossoms Dropping, No Fruit Set
In the land of arising challenges and educational experiences, we’ve been having trouble with our tomatoes, and now our beans, dropping their blossoms and not setting fruit. Beautiful clusters of flowers are followed by fruitless clusters of stems. Why? Well, we’re now learning that tomatoes apparently will not set fruit when nighttime temperatures are over 70 degrees (which makes me wonder how we ever got a tomato in Georgia) and beans will not produce enough pollen to set fruit with daytime temperatures over 90 degrees (again, how do we ever get any?). Interesting. Becky is the queen of research questions and discovered this info recently and while it may not vastly improve our situation immediately, it is helpful to understand what’s going on. It’s just too damn hot. Color me not terribly surprised. I don’t think I’d set fruit either if I had to stay in the sun all day. Looks like Lima beans can handle the heat better, so we may try some of those, and also looks like the other beans may need a bit more attention to consistent watering and perhaps a nitrogen boost to improve leaf cover (which both protects the plants from the sun and helps keep them cooler with evaporative cooling). Well, you learn something new every day.

Happy Summer Solstice
Today is the day -- longest day of the year. All Spring long, we’ve labored and planted and now are seeds have sprouted and are beginning to mature. Energetically, this is a good time to re-visit the goals you’ve been working on and the projects you’ve invested yourself in and to remind yourself what you’re up to. As my friend Holly says, it’s time to “potent-ize” those goals, time to fertilize, time to remember what you’re dreaming into being and pull yourself back into alignment with it. The sun’s at full blast and it’s a powerful time of the year. Harness that power--it will help you move in your chosen direction.

Is back in the spotlight this week. It’s been an amazing season for kale, and you’ve been getting lots of it. With that in mind, we figured you could use some fresh inspiration for what to do with all that kale. Here are some ideas . . .

Kale Chips
1 bunch kale (de-stemmed)
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet or pan with a light layer of olive oil. Place kale leaves in a single layer on the pan and drizzle with a little more oil. Bake for 12 minutes. Salt to taste and enjoy! Makes 2-3 servings. Jane tells us these are as good as potato chips. I've had them and I'd have to agree that they're pretty yummy. As well as an easy way to use up a bunch of greens in a pinch. Yum!

Creamy Peanut Kale
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
2 Tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos
1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1 bunch kale, chopped

In a pan, heat vegetable oil. Fry garlic and onions, until translucent. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix peanut butter, Bragg's, broth/water, and spices until the peanut butter has dissolved, and it has turned saucy. Add kale to the pan, and cook until the leaves are dark green and wilted. Add the peanut butter sauce to the pan. If it is too dry, add broth/water to reach desired consistency. From

Feel Good Kale Sauce with Pasta (vegan)
3 to 4 servings pasta (I like Angel Hair)
1 carrot
1/2 onion
2 large kale leaves, large stems removed
2 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup unsweetened or plain nondairy milk (soy, almond, coconut, etc.)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast

Cook your pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, put the carrot, onion, kale leaves, and garlic cloves into the food processor to create a pulp. It shouldn't be a liquid, just very pulpy with small bits. Heat the olive oil in a pan, and add the vegetable pulp. Saute it for about 5 minutes, and add salt and pepper as it cooks. When it is heated through, pour the milk into the mixture and allow it to get hot and a little bit bubbly. Add the nutritional yeast, and stir well. You can add more milk if you would like a thinner sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix sauce with drained pasta. This sauce is delicious mixed into pasta, and I feel good every time I eat it (which is about once per week). Makes 3-4 servings. From Yummy vegan recipes . . .

Potato Kale Soup
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
10 cloves garlic, chopped
½ Tbsp red chile flakes, or to taste
1 ¼ tsp salt
6 medium potatoes, peeled and diced into ¾ inch cubes
3 cups coarsely chopped kale
black pepper

Heat oil in soup pot; add onions, garlic, chile flakes, and salt, and saute until onions are translucent. Add potatoes and enough water to cover by 4 inches. Bring to boil and cook, covered, until potatoes are about half done. Add kale and cook, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, 10-15 minutes. Puree soup in blender or food processor. Season with pepper to taste. Makes 6-8 servings. From the From Asparagus to Zucchini cookbook.

Spicy African Kale and Yams
1 large bunch kale, 4 cups chopped, pressed firm
4 cups yams or sweet potatoes, rinsed well, chopped
1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
2 cups cabbage, sliced
1 ½ cups onion, chopped
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp salt, or to taste
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp serrano chile, seeded and diced
Hot Sauce, to taste

Rinse and drain kale well. Steam kale and yams. Kale should still be colorful and yams should still have some firmness. While kale and yams are steaming, place oil in a large sauté pan and heat on medium high. Add onion, garlic, ginger and chili pepper, cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add cabbage and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add small amounts of water if necessary to prevent sticking. Place in a large mixing bowl with remaining ingredients, add kale, and mix well. Add yams and gently mix well. From

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

CSA Pickups -- Week 7 -- Cabbage

Roots Farm CSA Week 7: June 13 & 17

This Week:
-Carrots: Napoli, Bolero, Nelson, Yaya
-Beets: Merlin, Chioggia
-Kale: Winterbor, Red Russian, White Russian, Rainbow Lacinato
-Sweet Onions (“Vidalia-type Yellow Granex)
-Pole Beans: Blue Coco, Gold of Bacau
-Potatoes!!: Yukon Gold or Pontiac Red
-Cucumbers! Marketmore, Sultan, Lemon
-Cabbage: Regular or Savoy
-Fresh Garlic
-Blueberries, Blackberries, Wineberries
-Basil: Regular Sweet, Lemon, Thai

On the Farm
The deer onslaught continues. We keep tying up holes, lacing up the fence, extending the flag ropes higher, and barricading the gates, but they somehow keep making their ways in. Chris said this week that deer aren’t invincible like magical flying unicorns, but I’m beginning to wonder. Who knew that deer would eat tomato plants, green tomatoes, cucumber vines, melon plants, sweet potatoes, lettuce, beans, beets, and more? Ravenous. It’s just a challenging time of year--deer pressure, lack of rain, high heat. Plants are drying out, roasting, being eaten, and failing to fruit. Whole squash plantings are failing and I am concerned for our early tomatoes. But that’s only looking in one direction. If I look elsewhere, the cabbages look great, carrots continue to come out awesome and big, the flood of cucumbers remains, and the new plantings of corn have germinated nicely. I see pepper flowers and melons swelling on the vine. The okra is 8 inches tall and the onions are neverending. Not all is bleak, so why am I only obsessing about the problems. Silly self--remember what’s going right as well.

In Your Basket
And some of the things going right are in your baskets this week. The beet harvest continues quite nicely, as do the carrots. NEW on the scene are several items, all of which the Half and Full share members get this week. Things like POTATOES, CABBAGE, & BLUEBERRIES! Oh my! We’ve begun digging potatoes and we’ve got a choice between yellow-fleshed Yukon Golds and white-fleshed, pink-skinned Pontic Reds this week. Sweet, delicious new potatoes are in your basket, and I think you should eat them today . . . Also, the cabbage is in. We’ve got a few regular green-leaf cabbages and lots of gorgeous Savoy-leafed heads. Cabbage is in the spotlight this week, and we’ve been loving it grilled. I’ve also been experimenting quite successfully with making sauerkraut and kimchi--tasty fermented delights--yay! Plus, we’ve got blueberries for everyone! It’s all half-pints this week. Hopefully we’ll see more as the season continues. A few of our blackberries and red wineberries are also appearing. And full share folks get the first taste of pole beans for the season. Wow! Lots of new goodies coming out here in mid-June.

Weekend Workday
We had about 5 wonderful folks show up for our workday on Saturday this past week. It was great. Beautiful weather, good people, and plenty of work done. We weeded chard and kale, pulled out old strawberry plantings, processed garlic, and dug potatoes. Those potatoes in your basket this week--all hand-dug by our hard working weekend volunteers. Thanks guys and gals! All that hard work followed by yummy greens quiches and fresh blueberry pie and ice cream. Don’t miss your next chance to come out and work with us--our next weekend workday is Saturday, July 9, so mark your calendars and come join us!

Summer Solstice
Just a reminder for you all that Summer Solstice is coming up next week. That’s right--the LONGEST DAY OF THE YEAR is just next week. We’ll have hit our peak of daylight hours and after that, the days will begin to gradually get shorter again. How can it be? Summer Solstice already? Celebrate by grilling out and watching the fireflies in action. Have a drink late in the warm evening. Or hey, go for a jog at dawn at 5 am! Personally, I’m more for the grill action. Perhaps some grilled cabbage . . .

This humble vegetable has been a staple crop of many different civilizations throughout time. Raw, cooked, fermented--it does them all. Cultures from China to Russia to Europe to America have strongly valued the fermented manifestations, namely sauerkraut and kimchi, as fermentation methods both preserve the cabbage (and things in it like vitamin C) and create more nutrients in it like B vitamins and additional antioxidants. Cabbage in and of itself offers generous amounts of vitamins A, B, and C, as well as iron, calcium, and potassium. It’s an amazing vegetable. Get some.

Storage: cabbage should be stored with the outer leaves on either in a plastic bag in the refrigerator or on bag-less in the hydrator drawer for anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months. It is sweetest fresh, but can hold for a long time. Usage: cabbage can be eaten raw, steamed, baked, boiled, stuffed, grilled, sauteed, stir-fried, or fermented. Try it out. Here are some recipes for you.

Grilled Cabbage
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 heads of green/white cabbage
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Prepare the grill for indirect grilling. If you are using a charcoal grill, light a chimney full of coals and pile them all to one side once they have burned down enough to product white ash on the top coals. You gas grillers have it easy, just light half of your burners. We want the hot side really hot, to produce between 350 and 400 degrees under the lid. Remove the outer few leaves from each head of cabbage, wash thoroughly and then quarter the heads. Start with the bottom and cut through the core for your quarters so that the core of the cabbage holds each section together. Place the cabbage sections on a pan (to minimize the mess) with the cut part facing up. Thoroughly whisk together the lemon juice and oil. Brush the lemon juice and oil mixture over each section of cabbage, letting the juice run down into the leaves. Generously season each cabbage section with the Kosher salt and black pepper. Keep the cabbage sections facing up so that the lemon juice doesn’t leak out and then place the sections on the cool part of the grill. Close the lid and let them roast on the grill for about 45 minutes, or until the tops have a little char and the inside leaves are nice and tender. You may want to move the cabbage around about halfway through your grilling session so that all of them spend their time closer to the fire. The bottom leaves may get burned, but they are being sacrificed for the greater good of the cabbage. Besides, I like the burnt leaves myself. From the Grilling Companion website I also like to turn the wedges so the edges of the leaves get that crispy grilled flavor and texture, so arrange them as you will. This recipe is amazing--I never knew cabbage could taste so good!

Asian Cabbage Slaw
2 cups shredded cabbage (~1/2 small head)
1/3 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup minced red onion
2 Tbsp minced fresh mint
2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 Tbsp rice wine (such as mirin or sake)
2 tsp honey
1 tsp toasted sesame oil, plus more to taste
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Combine the cabbage, carrot, onion, mint, and cilantro in a large bowl. Toss well. Mix the vinegar, peanut oil, rice wine, honey, and sesame oil in a small bowl until well combined. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture; toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Makes 2-4 servings. From Farmer John's Cookbook, which also says that this recipe works well with additional vegetables--julienned cucumber is nice--and makes a wonderful bed for grilled food. Enjoy!

Rice-Stuffed Cabbage in Sweet & Sour Sauce
Sweet & Sour Sauce
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 (28-oz) can tomato sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt & freshly ground black pepper
Cabbage Rolls
8 large Savoy or green cabbage leaves
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
½ cup chopped scallions
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 tsp caraway seeds, or to taste
salt & freshly ground black pepper

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is limp, about 3 minutes. Add the ginger, tomato sauce, honey, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste, and simmer while you prepare the cabbage and filling. Blanch the cabbage leaves in boiling water for 3 minutes, then plunge into cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well. To prepare the filling, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic, bell pepper, and scallions, and saute until limp, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and saute for another minute. Season to taste with the caraway seeds and salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large baking dish with oil. Spoon about 1 cup of sauce into the baking dish. To stuff the cabbage, place about 3 Tbsp of the filling near the base of each cabbage leaf. Fold in the sides, then roll up to enclose the filling. Do not roll too tightly or the cabbage roll will burst while cooking. Place the rolls, seam side down, in the baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the rolls. Cove rand bake until heated through, about 30 minutes. Serve hot. Makes 4-8 servings. From 366 Delicious Ways to Cook Rice, Beans, and Grains.

Risotto with Caramelized Onions & Cabbage
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
6 cups shredded green or Savoy cabbage
2 tsp dried thyme
5 ½ cups vegetable broth
½ cup dry white wine
1 ½ cups uncooked Arborio rice
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt & freshly ground black pepper

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, cabbage, and thyme, and saute until the onions are golden, 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the broth and wine and heat to simmering. When the onions are golden, add the rice and toss to coat with the oil. Add 1 cup of the simmering broth to the rice and stir until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding more broth, 1 cup at a time, cooking and stirring as the liquid is absorbed. It will take a total of 18-35 minutes for most of the liquid to be absorbed and the rice to become tender and creamy. Stir in the Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed. Serve hot. Makes 4-6 servings. From 366 Delicious Ways to Cook Rice, Beans, and Grains.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

CSA Pickups -- Week 6 -- Cucumbers

Roots Farm CSA Week 6: June 7 & June 10

This Week:
-Carrots: Napoli, Bolero, Nelson, Yaya
-Beets: Merlin, Chioggia
-Bright Lights Swiss Chard
-Kale: Winterbor, Red Russian, White Russian, Rainbow Lacinato
-Sweet Onions (“Vidalia-type Yellow Granex)
-Fresh Garlic!! Hardneck Georgian Crystal, Persian Star
-Summer Squash: Zephyr, Yellow Zucchini, Green Zucchini, Magda
-Cucumbers! Marketmore, Sultan, Lemon
-Cauliflower or Cabbage

On the Farm . . .
The deer are finding their way in. I’m not sure how, but we’ve begun a more serious investigation of the issue. Beets, chard, melon plants, pole beans, okra -- those four legged foes are ravenous and it seems no vegetable is safe. Time to patrol the fence, tie up holes, tie closed gates, and keep up the lookout. Jeeze.

Summer seems to be in full blast. I swear, those veggies grow from one hour to the next. The 3-inch cucumber of today is the behemoth of Friday’s harvest. Everything is growing up a storm, which is awesome in the realm of veggies and daunting in the realm of weeds. Good thing we’ve got a workday coming up on Saturday . . .

June Weekend Workday -- THIS SATURDAY!!
That’s right--it’s time to work with us on the farm again! This Saturday, June 11, from 9am-noon we’ll be out on the land, weeding, thinning, mulching, trellising, digging potatoes perhaps, processing garlic, and maybe even planting some seeds. So come join us! We’ll also have a farm-fresh BRUNCH as always following our hard work. Get out your sun hat and come get your early morning farm experience for June.

In Your Basket
Let’s see, lots of cucumbers this week, including the lemon cucumber. Lemon cucumbers are round and white to light yellow. They taste like regular cukes, and I like to think of them as snack-sized treats. They’ve been a hit in our CSA in the past and I think you’ll like ‘em. The summer squash are dwindling faster than we can say “whoa!” so enjoy them while they last. For full share folks, cabbage or cauliflower are available. We’ve just got a little of them right now and the cauliflower is both purplish and a bit spicy--both signs of weather stress (i.e. hot and dry); I recommend cooking it. The cabbage we will eventually have more of and will distribute to all shares. Same with the blueberries--just enough this week for full share folks, with all shares hopefully getting them next week. Basil is coming out to all shares this week, finally. And the fresh garlic continues with hardneck varieties this week. Last week it was softneck artichoke varieties--garlic like what you find at the grocery store. This week, it’s the hardneck kind. Hardnecks have a solid, hard core in the center usually surrounded by a single layer of cloves. Hardnecks are flavorful and easy to peel and often sport rather large cloves. They don’t store as long as the softnecks, though, which is why they don’t often appear in supermarkets. A fresh market treat! Enjoy them now.

These juicy veggies were first cultivated in India more than 3,000 years ago. A light and cooling vegetable, cucumbers are 95% water, contain small amounts of vitamins A and C and a few minerals and large amounts of vitamin E.

Storage: keep cukes in the refrigerator in the hydrator drawer or in a plastic bag for up to a week (or slightly longer). Cut or peeled cukes deteriorate quickly. Usage: popular in salads, pickles, and sandwiches, cucumbers can also make their way into soups and can even be cooked. Cooked cucumbers are silky smooth and lightly flavored and can pick up seasonings well. I have a theory that you could peel, slice, and seed them and then salt and press them sort of like tofu. Hmmmm. I also hear that Sarah Dunning over at Gymnopdie has made a cucumber sorbet! So many options! Here are some ideas for you:

Marinated Cucumber Salad
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp water
1-3 tsp honey
4 medium cucumbers, peeled, thinly sliced
6 thin slices of onion
seasoning—choose one:
1/4 tsp prepared Dijon mustard OR
1 tsp chopped fresh dill OR
1 tsp celery seeds OR
1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds

Mix the vinegar, water, honey to taste, and seasoning in a glass mixing bowl. Add the cucumber and onion; toss until well combined. Marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or refrigerate overnight. Serve cold or at room temperature. Makes 4 servings. Try varying your vinegars (rice wine, balsamic, red wine, apple cider, or others) and your seasonings (other recipes call for salt, hot peppers, soy sauce, sesame oil, olive oil, or white pepper to name a few) to create your own favorite marinated cucumber recipe. Most marinated cucumber recipes can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or more, and many folks I know just keep adding fresh cukes to the marinade as they go for a continuous supply.

Spicy Cucumber-Cashew Salad
2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and sliced
1/2 cup cashews, toasted
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sugar or honey
1 Thai Dragon hot pepper or 1/4 tsp ground cayenne, red pepper flakes, or hot pepper sauce (regulate your own level of spice, here)

Combine the cucumbers and cashews in a bowl together. Whisk the remaining ingredients together and pour over the cukes and cashews. Toss gently. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings. Adapted from the From Asparagus to Zucchini cookbook with inspiration from the Serving Up the Harvest cookbook. Sounds yummy to me.

Curried Rice & Cucumber Salad
3 cups cooked basmati or jasmine rice
1/3 cup sliced scallions (or onions)
1/3 cup golden raisins
3 Tbsp lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, & thinly sliced
1 Tbsp ghee (or veggie oil or butter)

Combine the cooked rice, scallions or onions, raisins, and lemon juice in a large bowl and stir. Season with salt to taste. Toast the nuts in a dry, heavy skillet over high heat until they turn brown in spots and smell fragrant. Transfer the nuts to a dish and set aside to cool. Melt the ghee/butter in the skillet over medium heat and stir in the curry powder; stir for 30 seconds. Add the cucumber slices. Cook, stirring constantly, until the cucumber is tender, about 4 minutes. Remove the skillet from heat. Add the cucumber to the rice mixture and toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Toss the toasted nuts with the salad, then sprinkle a generous amount of paprika over the top. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings. ( from Farmer John’s Cookbook)

Chilled Cucumber-Mint Soup
4 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped (about 4 cups)
1-2 cups water
2 cups plain yogurt (or 1 cup yogurt combined with 1 cup sour cream)
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
several fresh mint leaves
2 Tbsp fresh dill or 1 tsp dried dill
1 Tbsp honey
1-2 tsp salt
2 scallions, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

Combine the chopped cucumber, 1 cup water, yogurt, garlic, mint, dill, honey, and 1 tsp salt in a blender or food processor. Puree the ingredients, adding more of the water until the soup is a consistency you like. Season with more salt to taste. Transfer the soup to a large bowl and chill for several hours. Garnish with chopped scallions. Makes 4-6 servings.

Basic Tzatziki Sauce
2, 8oz containers plain yogurt
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and grated
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt & pepper to taste
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
3 cloves garlic, pressed

Combine all ingredients. Tastes best when chilled for at least 1 hour. Makes 8 servings.