summer csa share – week 8

csa share week 8

Welcome to the 8th week of the Pitchfork & Crow Summer CSA! Here’s what’s in the share:

  • Green Conical Cabbage – Early Jersey Wakefield, a variety first grown in the US in 1840, great for kraut, soups, and sautes.
  • Cilantro
  • Yellow Beets
  • Salad Mix
  • Pink Beauty Radishes
  • Elephant Garlic – a mild type of garlic that is actually more closely related to leeks than garlic.  Use it in dishes calling for subtle garlicky flavors.
  • Summer Squash – Up first we’ve got traditional zucchinis, yellow straightneck, white pattypan, and an Italian round zucchini known as Tondo di Piacenza.
  • Cucumbers – A plethora of choices including various varieties of picklers and slicers!
  • Rainbow Carrots
  • Tomatoes Choose from mixed pints of cherries and slicers, the first of the season!
  • Yellow Transparent Apples – Apples in July?  It’s true, our earliest apples begin ripening now.  We’re getting to these Yellow Transparents before they get too ripe and begin to bruise when handled.  A good cooking apple, makes great applesauce!  Also, some of these might be Lodi apples.

It’s that time again!  CSA open farm and potluck time, that is!  We invite CSA members to join us on Saturday at the farm for tours, good food, and other farm shenanigans.  Come see your vegetables in the field, meet other members, and bring a t-shirt for some P&C logo screenprinting fun.  Check you email for all the details!

carrots and birds

What a wild ride this farming gig has been.  Every growing season has presented its own unique challenges, its own highs and lows.  The weather has played a big role in this, whether it be rain in June or scorching heat in May and all the way through into October.  This year we seem to be experiencing something in between with a warm spring and now a mild summer and rain in normally droughty July!  We’ve learned to expect the unexpected and keep on farming through to the other side.

The constant through every season has been the weeds.  You’d think we’d have a better handle on how to fight the weeds by now, but no.  There is no easy answer, no quick solution.  So we’ve come to the realization that in fact we cannot do it all by ourselves at this scale and we’ve brought on help.  Last week we hired two very part-time people to help with weeding.  We’re excited to begin wrangling things back into control around here.  We’ve begun this past week by salvaging the pepper field, so things are already looking up.

purple cape

Our “To Do” list is epic this time of year.  All the things need to be done yesterday.  This weekend we did get one big item marked off; we harvested the overwintering purple cape cauliflower seed crop.  We grow a handful of seed crops for our friends at Adaptive Seeds every year, and this past year we grew a stand of purple cape cauliflower.

Purple cape is a unique overwintering purple cauliflower that we start mid-July, transplant in August, and grows through the fall and winter to head up in February.  It’s such a surprise each year when the purple heads begin to appear in the field.  It’s definitely a favorite variety and staple in late-February Winter CSA shares.

Growing seed crops requires a different set of skills than our fresh produce crops.  Attempting to steward a crop for a year, through it’s entire life cycle from seed to seed, is more involved than the shorter time frame of sowing, tending, and harvesting other crops.  We grew purple cape cauliflower for the CSA this past year too, and once harvested in February we moved on, not giving it another thought until now when it’s time to sow it for the next round.  Long after we harvested that cauliflower for the CSA, the seed crop stayed in the field, elongating and flowering and eventually producing seed pods and seeds!  We kept it watered, flagged the best plants for stock seed, attempted to keep the weeds down, rogued out the worst plants, and finally harvested it this week before the birds discovered the dry seed pods and delicious seeds inside.

After a year’s worth of effort, we now have a bin full of beautiful seed.  After a little more cleaning it will be handed off to Adaptive Seeds for disease and germination testing.  Fingers crossed that we pass the tests and all the effort will have been worth it as the seed makes its way into the world to be grown by other farmers and gardeners.  We sowed our overwintered cauliflower this weekend too, and we’re already looking forward to sweet winter cauliflower next February.

Enjoy the vegetables and we’ll see you next week!

Your farmers,
Jeff Bramlett and Carri Heisler

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Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Wilted Cabbage with Carrots and Bacon

  • 4 bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 medium onion, sliced thin
  • 3 1/2 cups thinly sliced cabbage (about 3/4 pound)
  • 2 carrots, grated coarse
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves (wash and dry before chopping

In a large non-stick skillet cook bacon over moderate heat until crisp and transfer with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. In fat remaining in skillet cook garlic and onion over moderately low heat, stirring, until onion is softened. Add carrots and cabbage and cook, stirring, over moderate heat until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in bacon and parsley and season with salt and pepper.

From Epicurious via Gourmet, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/wilted-cabbage-with-carrots-and-bacon-14113

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Chilled Cucumber-Yogurt Soup with Radishes

  • 2 1/4 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 1/4 pounds pickling cucumbers, trimmed, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces.
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (generous) ground ginger
  • Thinly sliced radishes

Combine yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, salt, cumin, curry and ginger in blender. Puree until smooth. Strain through fine sieve into large bowl. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Ladle soup into bowls. Top with radishes and serve.

From Epicurious via Bon Appétit, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/chilled-cucumber-yogurt-soup-with-radishes-598

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Maple Horseradish Glazed Beets

  • 1 3/4 lb medium beets (3 3/4 lb with greens), stems trimmed to 1 inch
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons bottled horseradish (not drained)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup (preferably dark amber or Grade B)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.

Wrap beets in foil and roast until tender, about 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, peel beets and cut into eighths, then transfer to a bowl.

Melt butter with horseradish, syrup, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat. Stir in beets and boil, stirring occasionally, until liquid in skillet is reduced to about 1/4 cup and beets are coated, 4 to 5 minutes.

From Epicurious via Gourmet, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/maple-horseradish-glazed-beets-238068

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