csa share – week 8 {july 12}

Welcome to the 8th week of the Pitchfork & Crow CSA!

Here’s what’s in the share:

  • Snap Peas  – these look like the last of the snap peas.  Enjoy!
  • Salad Mix w/ a bonus small cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Baby Fennel – new to fennel?  Check out the recipe below and find more on the recipe page here: https://pitchforkandcrow.com/recipes/#F
  • Dill
  • French Breakfast Radishes
  • Swiss Chard
  • Bunching Onions
  • Raspberries

While looking up recipes we’d shared last year for using up fennel bulbs, I came across the 2010 CSA newsletter for week 5.  I’d written about our farm motto “life, liberty, and the pursuit of vegetables” and what it meant to us.  It was a good reminder as to why we got into this farming gig in the first place.

It’s no secret that this has been a tough year for us so far.  We’d made big plans to grow the farm and had hoped we could make progress towards both of us being full-time on the farm.  As we approach the mid-season mark we’re feeling much less sure of the season than we’d like to be.  We’ve experienced some big crop failures due to early planting and the cold spring, we’re constantly worrying about irrigating crops and not having enough irrigation pipe or time to move the bits we do have to effectively water, and there never seems to be enough time to get to all the weeding, mowing, and general maintenance of the farm.

While we do have our lows when we curse the weather, we know that most issues we’ve run up against can be dealt with over time.  Soil fertility can built up with cover crops and added amendments.  Eventually we can buy more irrigation pipe and set up drip irrigation as needed to alleviate spending hours moving pipe from field to field.  Future growing plans can be scaled back to account for the farm’s microclimate and allow for resting fields.

Of course the key to these plans is thinking long-term and as I mentioned last week, we hope to be able to stay in this place long enough to see some of this work and investment pay off in the future.  Most of you know we are currently leasing this farm with the option to buy it within the year.  We’ve saved a small down payment and are beginning in earnest the process of approaching banks for financing.  We’re keeping our fingers crossed that someone will believe in us and our goal of providing food to our community while also nurturing this land and be willing to help us buy this farm and stay put for a while.

That all said, we still can’t think of anything we’d rather be doing than growing food for our community.  We can honestly say that amidst the failures of this season we’re still having a pretty good time out on the farm.  Last night as we finished picking raspberries by moonlight, I was reminded again of how lucky we are to be working together, with nature,  growing food.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers,
Jeff Bramlett and Carri Heisler

Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Many thanks to CSA member Chris Andresen for forwarding this recipe!

Heartland Fennel Slaw

Serves 8

Along with spring onions, rhubarb, and greens, bulb fennel is the pick of the Heartland garden in late spring. Its mild anise flavor and crunchy texture make it a natural with chicken, fish, or pork.

2 fennel bulbs with fronds
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced  (you can use bunching onions)
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon fine kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Trim the fennel bulbs and cut off the stalks. Cut each bulb into quarters and cut out the core. Thinly slice the fennel bulbs and place in a large bowl with the scallions.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the cider vinegar, mayonnaise, sugar, dill, and lemon zest together. Whisk in the salt and pepper. Adjust the seasonings, if necessary. Pour the dressing over the fennel mixture and toss to blend. The salad will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

From Heartland: The Cookbook by Judith Fertig .  Also available here: http://tdn-digital.com/recipe_051711.shtml


Swiss Chard Pancakes

2 cups whole milk
2½ cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 shallot, coarsely chopped, rinsed, and patted dry
2 garlic cloves, split, germ removed, and coarsely chopped
Leaves from 10 parsley sprigs
10 fresh chives, snipped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
5 large or 10 small Swiss chard leaves, center ribs removed, washed, and dried
About ½ cup grapeseed, peanut, or vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil, and line a plate with paper towels.

Put everything except the Swiss chard and oil in a blender or food processor, making sure you season the mix generously with salt and pepper, and whir until the batter is smooth. (If your machine won’t handle this quantity, work in batches.) Little by little, add the chard to the mix and whir to incorporate it. There’s no need to pulverize the chard — having some strands is nice.

Pour ¼ to ½ inch of oil into a large skillet and place the skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot (a drop of batter should seize immediately), spoon in a scant ¼ cup batter for each pancake — don’t crowd the pan: depending on the size of the pan, 4 pancakes is probably max per batch. Cook the pancakes for about 3 minutes, until the underside is nicely browned and the edges are browned and curled. Flip the pancakes over and cook for another 2 minutes or so. Transfer the pancakes to the paper-towel-lined plate, cover with more towels, and pat off the excess oil. Place them on the foil-lined baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you continue to make pancakes, adding more oil to the pan as needed.

From Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.  Also found here: http://www.publicradio.org/columns/splendid-table/recipes/breakfast_chardpancakes.html


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