Summer CSA Week 12

I haven’t always liked tomatoes, I used to flat out dislike them. When I was a kid, of course I liked pizza and spaghetti sauce and salsa, but watching my dad eat sliced tomatoes with salt and pepper baffled me. I think part of my dislike was the texture, part of it was the taste. Growing up we had store bought tomatoes -and maybe it’s a cliché at this point, but the difference between a store bought tomato and one ripe off the vine is amazing.

I didn’t start liking tomatoes so much (I do like them, so so much) until I started working on farms. I quickly became the kind of person who would eat them like apples when I had a free hand or a free minute in the field. Perhaps, this whole time, I had been eating apples like tomatoes?

These late summer days I enjoy seeing the monarchs float around the farm looking for any milk weed that’s still blooming. I say I enjoy seeing them, and I do, but sometimes I also have this sense that someday I might look at my last monarch and not know it. It matches my wonderings of how old I will be when honey is so expensive that only the wealthiest can buy it and all the bee’s wax will be in museum vaults. So I try to appreciate each butterfly and spoonful of honey. I shouldn’t have that appreciation just because I could outlive them but it adds gravitas to every day things.

img_20180825_110239874I feel lucky to live in an city with so many streams and trees running through it. It is nice to feel that wherever you are in town, it is not to far to a place that feels like a forest of sorts. It is like night and day from old pictures (mid/late 1800’s) of Duluth. It is out-right heartbreaking to see the barren hillside  – totally cleared for timber to build a growing country.

Maybe night and day isn’t quite the right level of contrast when taking into account how the forests in the area used to be. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to stand in the middle of virgin forest where my house is now. Groves of aspen, birch and maples are beautiful, and I love cedar and rock lined streams. But something is missing. The area used to have a different flavor and who is alive who remembers anyone who remembers how it was?

I love the time I get to spend outside, both at the farm and out in the rest of the world. I feel lucky to have so much space available to me as public land- and I love seeing other animals, human and non-human, enjoying and living in it all. But I feel remorse in a nagging and vague sort of way for the state of the forests and butterflies. I feel like I miss something I never even had. And it’s not as if I don’t love our planet, I do, but it is like a store bought tomato that keeps getting more and more store-bought-ish every time we pass it down to the next generation. And some day, who will remember to even try to imagine what it used to taste like?

For the crew,

Karin

P.S. We recommend taking your tomatoes out of the bag right away (always). It was particularly humid this morning as we were bagging them up.

And regarding your green beans and cilantro – we were happy for rain yesterday, but it sure made things dirty! I would consider using your beans and cilantro earlier rather than later. Don’t wash the beans before storing them – and maybe open the bag a bit so they can keep drying for a few hours in the fridge.

 


In your share this week:

  • Green beans 20180827_131115
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cilantro
  • Cucumbers
  • Greens mix
  • Sweet onions
  • Sweet Red peppers (long and pointy, not hot)
  • Jalapeno peppers (Small, green, and hot)
  • Red new potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

 

How to Freeze Tomatoes

  1. Drop tomatoes into boiling water for 60-90 seconds and, using a slotted spoon, transfer immediately into a bowl of ice water to cool. Skin will slip easily from the flesh.
  2. Remove stems and core tomatoes. Tomatoes may be left whole, but preparing them in a way that maximizes storage space is recommended. I cut mine into quarters or large cubes. Work over a shallow dish to retain juices.
  3. After allowing to cool to room temperature, transfer into storage bags. Using a ladle or measuring cup, fill pint or quart sized zipper-bags.
  4. Seal bags. Make sure to push as much air as possible when sealing to avoid freezer burn.
  5. Try to store flat. The shape in which they freeze is the shape you’re stuck with until it’s time to thaw.
Frozen tomatoes will retain flavor for 12 to 18 months.

Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2-3 medium garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Chop the cauliflower into florets. Peel and mince the garlic.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the cauliflower and garlic with the olive oil, cumin, paprika, turmeric, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper.
  4. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat, then place the cauliflower in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for 25-35 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender and browned, stirring once. Serve immediately.

Summer CSA Week 11

I have been delighted with the cooler evening temperatures these past several mornings. It has been good sleeping weather. Goldenrod and mountain-ash berries are offering us a sample of colors to come. At the end of the week we’ll change the angle of the solar panels on the farm to meet the sun at its lower arc across the fields.

Stepping into a drug store reminds me that other people are buying college-ruled notebooks, erasable pens and sets of binder inserts. I’ve thought about making a “winter is coming” list, even for my fairly low-maintenance city life. The only thing I can think of off the top of my head is to vacuum the beach and farm out of my car. I really do need to do that.

But what am I saying!? It’s August and there is broccoli to pick as far as the eye can see, sun flowers blooming and Kate, our one student crew member, is still full time for the week. We’ll be picking green beans today for the first time too. I think green beans are my favorite thing to harvest. It slows me down (I’m still pretty fast) and gets me to look and feel more than I do for some other harvesting.

20180817_150958As a kid I grew up on frozen or canned green beans. I never liked them, but the frozen ones were by far preferable to canned. I don’t remember now if it was a pole-bean or a pea pod, but I distinctly remember having my first fresh whichever-it-was from my great Aunt Barb and Uncle Burt’s garden. It was a game changer. A few years later my mom’s friend was watching my sister and I for an overnight and they had a garden with beans too. After having put away a handful or more, the boy in the family informed me I wasn’t supposed to pick them yet. I felt a little sheepish, but he was way, way younger than I (a year), so what did he know?

The first farm I worked on grew two beds of pole beans, trellised side by side. They grew super tall, probably 8 feet. I loved picking in between the rows: being in a leguminous tunnel full of wasps, bees and beans. The hum of life and occasional snack out of my basket made it my favorite daily ritual.

On the Food Farm I love the conversations I end up having while picking green beans. It tends to be an all hands on deck project, even Janaki comes out and harvests with us, so it has a nice feel to me. And, I think it makes them taste better. Hopefully you think so too.

For the farm crew,

Karin


August 26 you get a 2 for the price of 1 farm party! (read – FREE!)

We’ll have an open house at the farm as well as an opening celebration for a new exhibition in the Free Range Film Barn. Both are Sunday, August 26 from 2 to 5pm. Both events are kid friendly (and adult friendly as well). The art exhibition in the barn features the work of Cecilia Ramon and Kathy McTavish. There will be sundial workshops and an art walk led by Cecilia Ramon that follows the thermalhaline ocean current. The Farm party is a mile away at the Food Farm and will include tours and kids activities.
Looking forward to seeing as many of you there as we can get!
Free Range Film Barn: 909 County Road 4, Wrenshall, MN 55797
Food Farm: 2612 County Road 1, Wrenshall, MN 55797

In your share this week:

  • Green beans20180820_134346
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce mix
  • Yellow onions
  • Carmen (sweet) red peppers
  • Hot wax peppers
  • Red-gold potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

Pesto Potato Salad with Green Beans

2 pounds small  red-skinned potatoes, quartered20180817_154254
1/2 pound green beans, cut into one-inch segments
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 bunches of basil (about one ounce each)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons (or more to taste) mild vinegar, such as champagne, white wine or a white balsamic
1/4 cup chopped green onions (scallions)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Parmesan cheese to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Add beans; cook four minutes longer. Drain well and let cool, then transfer potatoes and beans to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, discard the stems from the basil and wash and dry the leaves. Puree them in a food processor with garlic, drizzling in enough olive oil that it gets saucy. Season the pesto with salt and pepper. [Alternately, you can swap this step with one cup of prepared pesto, but seriously, I think you’ll be missing out.]

Toss the beans and potatoes with pesto. Stir in vinegar, green onions, pine nuts and season with salt, pepper and/or additional vinegar to taste. Finally, shave some wide flecks of Parmesan over the salad with a vegetable peeler.

Serve immediately, or make this up to two hours in advance. It can be stored at room temperature.


 

Fresh Tomato Sauce

4 pounds tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
Small onion
2 to 3 small cloves of garlic
1/2 medium carrot
1/2 stalk of celery
1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
Slivers of fresh basil, to finish

Peel your tomatoes: Bring a pot of water to boil. Blanche the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10 to 30 seconds, then either rinse under cold water or shock in an ice water bath. Peeling the tomatoes should now be a cinch. If one gives you trouble, toss it back in the boiling water for another 10 seconds until the skin loosens up. Discard the skins (or get crafty with them).

Finish preparing your tomatoes: If using plum tomatoes, halve each lengthwise. If using beefsteak or another round variety, quarter them. Squeeze the seeds out over a strainer over a bowl and reserve the juices. (You can discard the seeds, or get crafty with them.) Either coarsely chop you tomatoes on a cutting board or use a potato masher to do so in your pot, as you cook them in a bit.

Prepare your vegetables: I finely chop my onion, and mince my carrot, celery and garlic.

Cook your sauce: Heat your olive oil in a large pot over meduim. Cook your onions, carrots, celery and garlic, if you’re using them, until they just start to take on a little color, about 10 minutes. I really like to concentrate their flavor as much as possible. Add your tomatoes and bring to a simmer, lowering the heat to medium-low to keep it at a gentle simmer. If you haven’t chopped them yet, use a potato masher to break them up as you cook them. Simmer your sauce, stirring occasionally. At 30 minutes, you’ll have a fine pot of tomato sauce, but at 45 minutes, you might just find tomato sauce nirvana: more caramelized flavors, more harmonized texture.

If your sauce seems to be getting thicker than you want it to be, add back the reserved tomato juice as need. If your sauce is too lumpy for your taste, use an immersion blender to break it down to your desired texture. (“Blasphemy!” some will say, but they’re not in the kitchen with you. So there.) Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and more to taste. I like somewhere between 1/2 and 1 teaspoon for 4 pounds of tomatoes. Scatter fresh basil over the pot before serving. Taste once more. Swear you’ll never buy jarred sauce again.

Summer CSA Week 10

This past weekend I bought measuring cups. I had been sliding by without them by strategically picking roommates that already owned them. But now, it’s been on my list for a bit and I figured I’d take the leap. My family lovingly made fun of me – “oh, are they for decoration and you’ll take them down once a year to dust?” They are making a fair point. I notoriously rarely measure. I only measure when I’m baking an unfamiliar recipe and even then, I’m only sort of measuring. To me recipes are more like guidelines, or suggestions, or inspirations. Or just pretty pictures. Things to be glanced at and kept in mind while throwing ingredients into a bowl.

My system isn’t fool proof -it’s mine after all. Sometimes my cookies are spread out and weird, or my pies aren’t quite sweet enough. Ah -the trials of trying to be decadent.

Cooking lunches on the farm, or dinners for myself, is my favorite kind of cooking. 20180813_071147Cooking is more forgiving and changeable than baking. I add things as I go and change my mind in the midst of prep. I like baking, but I’m commitment shy, and cooking fits that perfectly.

I feel lucky to have access to fields of produce – and this time of year it is full of options. Your share this week is almost its own recipe. There isn’t anything in there that couldn’t go together somehow -if not in the same dish, on the same plate. I learned to love cooking with whatever produce was around when I first started working on farms. I cooked a lot of what I’ve come to call “summer medley”, and I still do. Herbs, onions, zucchini and tomatoes all in a pan -what more could a girl ask for? Simple and tasty- and there is no shortage of any of those things this time of year.

In a society that values having access to all the choices, all the time, I am glad that you all have chosen to creatively acquiesce to the ingredients at hand this time of year from our farm. There is a certain peace in letting the season help you choose what is for dinner.

For the farm crew,

Karin

P.S. Farm Day is coming up Sunday, August 26th, from 2-5 pm . Come out to say hello! Also come out for farm tours, hayrides, kids activities and farm fresh snacks!


In your share this week:

  • Onions20180813_135857-e1534188076827.jpg
  • Carrots
  • New potatoes
  • Head lettuce
  • Greens mix
  • Basil
  • Green pepers
  • Hot Wax pepers
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Kale

Steamed Herb Potatoes

  • 1 1/2 pounds small new potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, basil, or tarragon)
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Steam the potatoes in 1 inch of water until tender, 12 to 15 minutes; drain. Toss with the butter, herbs, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.


Carrot soup with tahini and crisped chickpeas

Soup
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
2 pounds (905 grams) carrots, peeled, diced or thinly sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 regular or 6 small garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon table salt, plus more if needed
Pinch of Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
4 cups (945 ml) vegetable broth

Crisped chickpeas
1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 15-ounce (425-gram) can, drained, patted dry on paper towels
1 generous tablespoon (15 ml or so) olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Lemon-tahini dollop
3 tablespoons (25 grams) tahini paste
2 tablespoons (30 ml) lemon juice
Pinch or two of salt
2 tablespoons (30 ml) water

Pita wedges, garnish
A few large pitas, cut into 8 wedges
Olive oil, to brush pitas
Za’atar (a Middle Eastern herb blend) or sesame seeds and sea salt to sprinkle
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

Heat two tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, garlic, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper flakes and sauté until they begin to brown, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat your oven to 425 degrees F. Toss chickpeas with one tablespoon olive oil, salt and cumin until they’re all coated. Spread them on a baking sheet or pan and roast them in the oven until they’re browned and crisp. This can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size and firmness of your chickpeas. Toss them occasionally to make sure they’re toasting evenly.

Once vegetables have begun to brown, add broth, using it to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Cover pot with lid and simmer until carrots are tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small dish, whisk together tahini, lemon juice, salt and water until smooth with a yogurt-like consistency. If more liquid is needed to thin it, you can add more lemon juice or water, a spoonful at a time, until you get your desired consistency.

Spread pita wedges on a second baking sheet and brush lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with za’atar or a combination of sea salt and sesame seeds and toast in oven with chickpeas until brown at edges, about 5 minutes.

Puree soup in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth. Ladle into bowls. Dollop each with lemon-tahini, sprinkle with crisped chickpeas and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with pita wedges. Forget January, you’d eat this anytime. Right?

Summer CSA Week 9

The trees are a dark and sleepy sort of green, the crickets start their conversations before the sun goes down. Annie’s Tiger lilies are blooming out the kitchen window. Lambsquarter and pigweed reach up through the cover-crop in the race to the sun and tiny grasses try to hide behind carrots in their row hoping the crew won’t see them as they crawl along weeding immaculately. On work days, I want a cold meal and hot coffee. It is August on the farm.

This month tends to be a busy month for people. Obligations and summertime desires 20180806_123441come crashing together in a scramble for attention in the last fleeting days. Summer feels like the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky: gentle late-May days, storms, sultry evenings, hammocks, carrot weeding and the whirlwind finale. Of course, this isn’t what it was written for – but if the song fits, wear it.

Harvesting the first of the carrots and potatoes from the field is a treat and it also marks a seasonal shift for us here on the farm. The crescendo of harvest doesn’t happen for another several weeks, but the tune of the finale starts now. We’ll finish up the last of the weeding in these next couple of weeks and then move to harvesting all of the time.

After four seasons on this farm I am still amazed at how much food gets harvested in a short amount of time –and it starts with these first buckets from the field.

For the gearing-up farm crew,

Karin

P.S. Dave would like people to know that the cucumbers you are getting are from our outside plants. Yay! A lot of work goes into getting things like carrots and cucumbers growing in the greenhouses- and it allows us to push the season earlier. But we get excited when things come from the fields this time of year.


In your share this week:

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cilantro
  • Cucumbers
  • Dill
  • Green onions
  • Peas
  • Hot wax peppers
  • New red-gold potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

Carrot Greens Chimichurri

  • 1 cup finely chopped carrot greens (preferably organic)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • a few grinds of pepper
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil (a good fruity one)
  1. Wash and dry your carrot greens well.
  2. Roast carrots in a 450 degree oven for 10-15 minutes (or until tender but not mushy).
  3. Finely chop your carrot greens and mix them with all of the dried spices and minced garlic. Stir in the vinegar and olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings. (tip: taste it with a carrot or a piece of bread rather than by the spoonful)
  4. Serve with roasted carrots (or other veggies), toasted bread, or over grilled fish or meat.

 


New Potatoes

20180806_122142

New scale and new potatoes!

I cannot bring myself to put a recipe in for the new potatoes. They are so wonderful when they’re young and fresh. The skins are thin and delicate, and they’re the best kind of potato you’ll eat all year. New potatoes are called new because they’re harvested while the plant is still green. Storage potatoes are harvested once the plants have died, and the potato skins and flesh have hardened a bit.

Since they’re so tasty and so fleeting, I would just steam them (10-12 minutes) and smash them with butter or olive oil and whatever herbs you have sitting around. Keep it simple!