Friday, June 3, 2016

2016 Week 1 CSA Here We Come!





Saturday, June 6, 2015


Tips on Storing & Using Vegetables from a Farmer's Wife~CSA Week 1







 There's a lot of vegetables at Farmer's Markets and growing in gardens this time of year! Come on over to the farmhouse and learn from a farmer's wife with 13 children how to store, and use them frugally in creative ways!

                                                             CSA Week #1





This week's share includes:
Radish
Sweet Hakurei Turnips
Spinach
Bok Choy Cabbage
Red Summer Crisp Lettuce
Frilly Kale
Asparagus
Trucks full with crates of produce are rumbling down our drive as they head to the farmhouse. Here inside the farmhouse we're preparing supper to fill hungry farmer boy's bellies. They've spent the day out in the field harvesting your vegetables...when you get them they'll be less than 24 hours old! 

My front porch looks much different to most people who like the traditional rocking chair front porches. I "decorate" with vegetable boxes, stacks of market tables, green and tan harvest tubs and crates seen in the picture. The porch acts as our packing shed for a month or so 
longer as we wire and plumb our new packing shed...then I know I'll miss all the hustle, bustle, and...mess! 







We've been blessed to add another farmer's wife to the family this winter as Destany and Isaac got married on February 13th! Destany will be Isaac's right hand gal at Market Square on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Between them both they'll be able to meet your needs.

This week's blog is full of business...we'll get back to our regular routine next week.

What is it?


Hakurei Turnips




Unlike the traditional turnips with a distinctive taste, Hakurei is VERY versatile. We've found that these are our favorites...raw, steamed, mashed like potatoes, roasted, whatever way a potato can be used, even in chowders! Our children even love them raw for a quick snack.
As you prepare your turnips this week, don't peel them! There are a lot of great vitamins and fiber in the outer layer. Try using a green scrubbie like these we use. Scrubbing lightly with one of these saves time and leaves the outer skin intact. This is a great job for children that join you in the kitchen! 



If there's not enough for your meal, or you forget to use them during the week, no worry! These tiny treats will keep for weeks in the frig. Just follow my instructions for storing root crops above and you can have plenty by next week.


Bok Choy
It looks like we'll be having stir fry this week! Here is the link to my basic instructions for making a stir fry. My Mom taught me this method as a teen and I still use it today! There's also a Bok Choy salad on that blog entry. You could also try using the leaves for the recipe at the end of the blog. I think I'll create an Asian version this week from my supply! Experiment and have fun!



My phone is already ringing several times a day with questions from shareholders. I'm going to help everyone out and answer the questions you ask in the blog each week. I figure, if one person takes the time to write or call to ask a question, there are several out there wondering  the same thing!

Many of the questions I answer I hear year after 


year. The how-to of taking care of a regular supply of fresh vegetables straight from the farmer's field is probably the most oft' heard...It is really simple, but one you have to stay on top of. It's a different way of living for many folks as we're used to living in this faced paced world! I think it slows folks down, and the work draws the family together. 


Here are my tips to get you started, or refresh your mind after a winter of "sterile" veggies packed in plastic containers.


Tip #1


My most helpful tip would be to clean your vegetables immediately when you get home your market or CSA pick-up. You will be more likely to use your vegetables if you have them clean and ready to pull out of the refrigerator. 


I encourage everyone to run cool water into a clean sink as soon as you get home. As  you unpack your lettuce and other greens simply cut off the stem and drop the leaves into the water. Then go unpack the rest of your groceries, or go about your other chores that need to be done.



When you are settled in, go back to the sink and you'll be amazed! The lettuce and other greens have plumped and crisped up and are ready to spin or lay out on towels on your counter. (A salad spinner or the new microfiber salad bags are a great purchase and will pay for itself many times over during the season!) 


If you have lots of little ones that are eager helpers as I do, make it a family affair...part of the market experience. Little ones love to swirl greens in a clean sink of cool water, and my boys have been my salad spinner operators for YEARS. 



Radishes


I snip off the greens from beets, radish, and turnips  about one inch above the bulbs and drop their greens into the water that is still in my sink. Most folks throw out radish, broccoli, cauliflower and other greens that come with their vegetables. Be frugal and mix them with other braising greens such as mustard, kale, turnip and Swiss Chard in a stir fry or simple saute. In fact, when I steam broccoli, it's unusual for there NOT to be greens mixed in.


Romaine Lettuce
(Saturday shares will have Red Summer Crisp)


I store my root crops and other vegetables during the season in a Rubbermaid wash pan like this. It's nice and deep and since root crops last awhile in storage I can let my supply build up without it flowing over to the shelf. It sits next to the greens container, and makes for a pretty frig since it matches...sorry, but that's important to me. I like orderliness. I also can put squash (coming soon!) cucumbers, carrots, and other vegetables in this tub throughout the season. During the winter it moves to the pantry and is used for storing sweet  potatoes, winter squash, or other storage crops.

 By having everything stored clean and ready for use, I am more likely to use them when pulling a quick meal together.Take time to get it all manageable now so you can enjoy your vegetables at each meal during the week without a lot of repetitive work.



Red Butterhead Lettuce
(My favorite that's available on table!)


Tip #2
It's time to get the refrigerator cleaned out! You will need a shelf and a drawer devoted to storing your weekly supply of vegetables. All those leftovers that migrated to the back of the frig must now be dumped. (It happens to everyone!) If you haven't used those condiments for a while...you won't. So dump them too. It's time to get the refrigerator monster under control before the season moves on! I try and do a quick sweep through the refrigerator each week when I add new vegetables so older treasures don't lurk and grow mold. Make this clean up part of your new routine.




Spring Spinach



Tip #3


Think through how you will store your vegetables in the frig. Several years ago I found rectangle Rubbermaid containers that fit perfectly on my refrigerator shelves from front to back. This is a link for those who will be storing lots of lettuce or other greens this season. While I was searching for that container on Amazon (I do not get paid for any sales to any site.) I found a neat size for smaller families. It's half the size and stackable!  I think you can put two in the space of my biggie! Here is a link to that size that may work for you. I use two of the larger sized containers constantly throughout the season for lettuce and other greens that make their way into my kitchen.


Tip #4


Subscribe to this blog for fresh ideas, tasty farm-to-table 
Spring Pizza

recipes, and farm news. You'll see to the right a place to subscribe by email. DO IT NOW! It's a great way to get to know your farmers, educate yourself, and hold yourself accountable to a new way of eating.


Tip #5


Think "outside the box" in how you use your vegetables. I've come a long way from the simple country cooking...and have a long way to go in "breaking some of the cooking rules" I grew up with. Nowadays there is much more freedom to experiment with flavors. Enjoy the traditional recipes while having fun also with some new ideas you may have. 


While I've been working on the blog this evening, I remember all the worried faces of new shareholders that pick up their first boxes of the season. I hear the same questions year after year...so here are the most often asked questions and answers!


What are all these vegetables and how do I use them?!?
For many families there will be a few vegetables in their share they don't know their names, let alone how to cook them. That's understandable! No worry...Join us on FB, and subscribe to this blog to learn how I'm using what's being harvested each week. I don't mind an occasional call, as it helps me stay in touch with our shareholders needs.


Mixed Baby Lettuce


How do I keep my lettuce fresh? Everywhere I look on the web people have different ideas. What really works?
You're right! There are numerous ways to care for your lettuce, so I'll just share mine. If you've read the rest of the blog you'll see I soak the leaves in cool water until they crisp up. Then I use a salad spinner to dry them. (Laying them on a large clean towel with let them dry also.) Then I pack them whole into the rectangle Rubbermaid tubs I described before. Lettuce keeps in these for more than a week! Rotate your stock if needed, but try to use it up as we'll try to keep it in your share weekly. 




I like to include lettuce into 2 meals each day. Two "outside of the box" ideas I use are:
 1. Serve poached eggs on a salad and top with crumbled sausage or bacon. The lightly poached egg yolk becomes the dressing for the salad and it's a winner in my book!


My lunch one day this week. I save the outer leaves from
heads of lettuce especially for my lunches.

 2. I like to make lettuce wraps for lunch instead of eating traditional sandwiches. I simply lay a large outer lettuce leaf flat on my plate. Lay leftover meat/sandwich meat down the middle of the leaf. Next I'll chop or grate other vegetables fine like onion, asparagus, summer squash, or cucumbers and sprinkle a small amount over the meat. Add a small amount of plain Greek yogurt over the vegetables, then salt & pepper to taste. Lastly fold one side of the leaf over the mixture and roll. Yummm! 


We don't like (fill in the blank) in our share. 

What do I do?
We want happy shareholders! If you've really tried the vegetable in a few different ways that I've described then, and done some research online for new recipes, just tell the person you're getting your share from that you don't care for whatever the vegetable is. We'll try and substitute from the table within reason. We want you to be tickled to be part of our farm! (Home drop-offs will have their own method for exchange.)



I won't be at the market to get my share next week. What should I do?
There are several solutions to this question. First you could find a friend to bless and have them pick it up and use it. We've gained several shareholders by this kind of "advertising". Another solution is to tell the person you are picking your share up from a week ahead of time that you'd like to donate next week's share to the food bank or needy family. Lastly you could go online to your account and redirect your share to another market that is convenient to pick it up from later in the week. This should be done several days before your pick-up. 



          I'm finding I have more vegetables than I can 

use in one week.
We are growing "your garden for you". This is a common problem in gardening also! Find a friend to share with, rethink how you use your vegetables and include them in breakfast or lunches also, or freeze your leftovers for a great supply of healthy veggies during the winter. 





Here's what I fed the hungry crew for supper the other night. Since I didn't have enough of one kind of green to make the many little stuffed green rolls I used Swiss Chard and Cabbage. That's what's so fun about a CSA or buying fresh from a farmer. You get to experiment with what you have in your frig each week. (I'll be making an Asian version of this recipe this week!)

Italian Springy Rolls

1/2 lb. Ground pork (we sell this)
1/2 lb.  Bulk Hot Italian Sausage
1-2 C. Leftover Brown Rice (depending on 
how far you want to stretch the meat.)
1 Medium Onion, diced
Ricotta Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese
Diced Tomatoes with juice
Italian Seasoning
1 t. Minced Garlic
Salt
Pepper
1-2 Bunches of Spring Greens
*Collard Greens, Swiss Chard, Bok Choy Greens, or Cabbage*


Get a medium pot of water boiling. Meanwhile in a medium frying pan brown the meat and onion until the meat is well browned. Add the amount of brown rice that suits you. Next add your seasonings. This is the fun part as you get to taste the mixture to suit your family! Turn off the heat, and let it sit while you concentrate on the fun part.


Rinse your greens and drop them a few at a time into a pot of boiling water.
How long you blanch your greens depends on the type of greens...Swiss Chard takes just a couple of minutes, while Bok Choy or other cabbages will take 4 to 5. When the leaves take on a darker green and are slightly wilted, remove them from the pot, and lay them flat on a cutting board. I wrap 2-3 at a time. Drop the next few in the boiling water.


Usually I use all my stems...but these stems will rip a Swiss Chard roll, so I cut the stem out by making a cut on either side of the stem up into the leaf. (The stems make a good snack for hungry children eagerly watching you!)

Next I take about 1/4 cup plus or minus of the meat mixture and
place it in the middle of the wilted leaf. Add a couple of teaspoons of Ricotta Cheese on top of the filling. Watch your proportions as you will be rolling this similar to an Egg Roll!



 Next, fold the left and right sides of your green over the filling. Starting at the bottom of your leaf, roll the filling into the leaf. Keep the roll nice and tight. (I think these will freeze at this point. Simply tray freeze the rolls, then after they freeze put them into a ziploc bag for quick meals in the future!)






 Place each roll into a casserole dish in a single layer.


Sprinkle diced tomatoes over the rolls, including as much juice as you have available from the tomato.  Lastly sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and more Italian Seasoning. Salt once again if you are like us. Bake, covered at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

I served ours with any left over filling to my extra hungry men. Another idea is to freeze the filling for a quick "stuffing" for peppers, zucchini, or this recipe again soon!


News from the Farm

This year at nearly all our markets we will be selling farm fresh bread and cinnamon rolls made from our stone ground wheat.




Our latest addition from the farm kitchen is our growing line of Gluten Free beads, Baguettes, Cinnamon Rolls and Cookies! These products are carefully made in a gluten kitchen, so assess your dietary needs and enjoy! 


 We gather and lightly hand wash well over 100 eggs a day. We sell them at each of our markets.
Our flock of 250 Black Australorp chickens are aging, so we've begun a new flock of 350 Red Sex Link hens to replace them, and will begin to lay this fall



.
Strawberry season is winding down. This year you will not see our berries lined up so pretty on our market tables. All our strawberries are being made into the freshest tasting strawberry jam you've ever eaten! (Humble eh?) Give it a try and see if you agree! 



Each jar of our strawberry jam is made with a natural pectin made from grapefruit peels which allows it to jell with MUCH less sugar. This way you get to enjoy the ripe taste of our mountain grown berries!


A busy day in the farmhouse kitchen!




A project of our youngest farmers is the offering of our strawberry infused lemonade at the Dixie Lee Farmer's Market in Farragut! Enjoy!


Ok...it's time for a little Grandma bragging!


Josiah helping Grandpa give a tractor a spring tune-up!


  
We've not had the chance to meet Christina face to face yet, but her smile has won our hearts.


Samuel and Josiah picnicked and played on the farm this spring before returning to South Dakota.


Tiny Michaela is our newest blessing. Caleb and Shelby are sure blessed!


Samuel has loved the chickens since he was a baby...here he's playing with a chick from our first batch of pastured broilers. They'll be ready for market in a few weeks!


Grandma snuggling with Benjamin. 




Asparagus season is winding down, so enjoy it in your shares this week!


We continually plant all season. Each week the men are putting in new crops to meet your needs up till frost (and beyond!)




"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
                                 Joshua 24: 15

From all our busy farming family to yours,
Abundant Blessings,
Val, 
The Farmer's Wife