The Sunny Side – Week of 7/6/14
In this week’s box you will find:
- White or Red Pearl Onions
- Rainbow Swiss Chard
- Dill (Thursday box)
- Carrots (Thursday box)
- Napa cabbage (Sunday box)
- A little summer squash (Sunday box)
- Lettuce (Sunday box)
In the Field
When Nick and I talk about harvesting vegetables, we often describe getting a good “pull” from the fields. I have never really thought about what that term means until I was harvesting beets for market on Friday.
The beet harvest came on the heels of a particularly challenging few days for this farmer’s wife. Nick was sick this week, and was not well enough to lead the harvest. He does so much around the farm that it took several of us to make up for his absence. Thanks to Peter and Adam, and to Nick’s folks, who helped both with harvesting and childcare, we got everything done. Still, Friday afternoon rolled around, we still had a bit to harvest for the Glenview Farmers Market the next day, and there I was at 5 pm, bunching beets that would still have to be washed and packed before the end of the day.
It was then that I had my realization. As my friend Annie observed recently, when it is summertime on the farm, everything seems to be ready to pick at once. The carrots have sized up just as the squash begins to produce and the cherry tomatoes begin to ripen. Of course, for us, this is a great problem to have. But from early July into mid-September, the act of harvesting resembles nothing more than hauling a large, heavy object at the end of a rope. Apply steady force, never let up, even for a minute, and remember that every inch counts; every head of lettuce and bunch of dill brings us a few dollars more at market, a little bit closer to paying the bills and making the farm work. It’s a marathon, a long game, to pull from the garden all summer, but we sure are glad to do it, especially when we are pulling for folks who are so enthusiastic to receive the produce we are growing. This week, especially, thanks for the support, CSA members!
In the Kitchen
Storage tips for this week:
- Kohlrabi is the light green sphere with the large leaves attached. Remove the leaves from the bulb and store separately.
- Remove the fennel leaves from the bulb and store separately. Freeze the fennel fronds to use when cooking dry white beans.
- Remove the carrots from their tops and store separately.
- Pearl onions are not cured (dried) and so they should be stored in the fridge.
- The broccoli is best within 2-3 days of harvest.
- Basil can be placed in a jar or cup of water like a bouquet and stored on your counter top. If you want to store it in the refrigerator, wrap it in damp paper towels, place in a plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator door where temperatures are warmer.
- If you don’t eat all your dill this week, hang the remaining dill upside down in a warm, dark place with good air circulation. When dry, store in a jar for later!
Cooking tips for this week:
- For tips on cooking kohlrabi and fennel, please see the newsletter from the week of 6/22/14.
- Float a few slices of cucumber and/or basil in a pitcher of water in the fridge for a refreshing agua fresca.
- Broccoli crowns are the “flower” of the broccoli plant, and the part most commonly eaten, but you can eat the leaves too – they are like kale or collards, and are really tasty. For a nice vegetable stir-fry, heat cooking oil in a heavy frying pan. Add sliced onion, sliced carrots, and peeled, chopped broccoli stem. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, then add chopped broccoli florettes and sliced summer squash, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook about 5 minutes more, add chopped broccoli greens, and cook until vegetables and greens are at desired crispness. Toss with chopped basil leaves and serve.
- Use pearl onions wherever you might use regular onions.
- (Sunday) Napa cabbage (or Chinese cabbage) is a delicious, but under-appreciated, vegetable. Be sure to wash the leaves well by swishing vigorously in cold water before use. Napa is great in salads (try Lori’s recipe below, or this recipe for napa salad with ramen noodles). You can also make kimchi or roll-ups!
Lori found an historic recipe for cold cucumber soup (one of my favorite ways to eat cucumber). She also found a great fennel and summer squash recipe – if you save a bulb of fennel this week, you’ll be able to make it next week when I include the recipe!
Ernest Hemingway’s Cold Cucumber Soup
Hemingway’s mother, Grace Hall Hemingway, published this recipe in The Nineteenth Century Women’s Club Historical Centennial Cookbook. Ernest’s connection with this sweet cucumber and leek broth is unclear, but here it is!
- 3 cucumbers
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or mint
- 1 leek, white part only, sliced, or 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 cups fresh chicken stock or canned broth
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- White pepper (optional)
- 1 cup half & half
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
Peel and slice two of the cucumbers. Peel, seed and grate the remaining cucumber. Heat the butter in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the sliced cucumbers and cook over low heat for a few minutes. Add the dill or mint, leek and bay leaf and cook over low heat until tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for a few more minutes, stirring constantly. Add the stock and salt and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and let the mixture cool slightly. Purée the mixture, half at a time, in a blender or food processor. Return to the pan and add the white pepper to taste. Add the half & half, lemon juice and honey; then taste and adjust the seasoning. Stir in the grated cucumber. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve in a chilled bowl.
Excerpted from The Hemingway Cookbook by Craig Boreth (c) Craig Boreth 1998. Used with permission of Craig Boreth.
Fennel Gratin Recipe
- 2 good-sized fennel bulbs
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs (herbed or plain)
- 1 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Chopped fennel fronds, for garnish
- Cut off the fronds and stems of the fennel and save them for another dish; they are a great addition to stocks and broths. Cut the bulbs in quarters, then 1-2 inch pieces.
- Grease a casserole pan or gratin pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil and preheat the oven to 375°.
- Boil the fennel in a medium pot of salty water for 5-6 minutes, or until the fennel is just about tender. Drain well and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil.
- Mix the parmesan, thyme and bread crumbs, then mix half of that mixture with the fennel. Add the fennel to the casserole in an even layer. Top with the mozzarella cheese, then the rest of the parmesan-bread crumb mixture. Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over the top.
- Cover the casserole and bake for 20 minutes. Take the cover off and bake until the cheese is well browned, about 15 more minutes. Let the gratin rest for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped fresh fennel fronds.
Here’s another neat soup recipe from Lori:
Pink Soup with Roasted Onions and Broccoli
- 2-3 small to medium beets –peeled and cubed
- 2 garlic cloves –minced
- sea salt
- 2 small to medium onions –peeled and quartered or cut into eighths, depending on size
- grape seed oil
- 1 head of broccoli –cut into bite-sized florets
- 2 cans Thai coconut milk
- pinch of chili powder or a dash of cayenne
- 1/2 lemon –juiced
- 1-2 ripe but firm avocados
- freshly ground black pepper
- Add beets to a medium-sized saucepan along with the garlic and a pinch of salt and barely cover with water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until beets are tender.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F (180 C). Place onions on an oiled baking sheet, lightly brush with oil and roast until golden, for about 20 minutes.
- While waiting for the beets and onions to cook, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and blanch the broccoli for 3 minutes. Immediately transfer into an ice-water bath to stop the cooking.
- When the beets are tender, add in coconut milk and a pinch of salt, bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Add in the broccoli, stir to heat it through and then remove from the heat. Squeeze lemon juice over the soup and adjust salt if needed.
- Cube the avocado. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with roasted onion wedges, and avocado cubes. Serve with sourdough and/or sprouted bread avocado toasts. Enjoy!
Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe
- 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
- 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Here is a delicious napa cabbage recipe from Lori:
Napa Cabbage Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
- 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
- 1 pound Napa cabbage, cored and thinly sliced crosswise (4 cups)
- 6 radishes, diced
- 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced diagonally
- Whisk together buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, shallot, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl until sugar has dissolved, then whisk in chives.
- Toss cabbage, radishes, and celery with dressing.
You could also use the above dressing to toss with shredded kohlrabi and granny smith apple, or chard and chopped cucumber.