CSA Newsletter Week 4

newsletter with photoIn the Garden–from Hannah Kunde

I’ve been learning about composting as a side project while interning at Fern Creek.  When Lisa and I went to check the compost pile behind the pea patch this morning, I went in thinking I knew what to expect; a damp, chunky, and slightly stinky pile of soil and mulch. Once Lisa lifted the tarp that had been covering the pile, she hastily declared, “Oh my gosh!” and we both stood, awestruck and startled by a herd of small and medium sized snakes slithering out of the compost pile and into the surrounding grass. This phenomena was not something that had been explained in any of the books!

I went hunting for snakes in the compost but found this butterfly instead and figured you would prefer it anyway!

I went hunting for snakes in the compost but found this butterfly instead and figured you would prefer it anyway!

Once we caught our breath and laughed a bit, we considered the situation and decided that it made perfect sense to find a family of snakes (or several families!) in a covered compost pile; it is warm, dry, and safe. We supposed that snakes would be beneficial to a compost pile; they provide aeration and nutrients. Upon further research of garter (often pronounced “gardener”) and king snakes, I discovered that, although slightly creepy, these harmless snakes are indeed beneficial to compost piles because they keep the rodent population down. Another interesting fact about snakes is that they eat worms. So we joked about the fact that instead of cultivating a worm bin, a “snake bin” is being cultivated at Fern Creek!

From Field to Harvest–In the Marketberries

Buttercrunch Lettuce
Red Fire Romaine
Gourmet Baby Greens
Speckled & Rhaze Miniheads
Collards
Kale (Dinosaur, Curly, Russian, Siberian)
Rainbow Chard
Red Ace Beets
Berries (Strawberries, Marionberries, Raspberries)
White Bunching Onions
Red Potatoes
Shelling Peas
Snap & Snow Peas
Radish
Broccoli
Lavender

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Beets are one of the healthiest vegetables from the garden. It’s hard to imagine otherwise with their deep red color and hearty sweet flavor. Grate them raw in salads, quarter and steam them (and eat them as is, or marinated in an olive oil dressing). You can roast, grill, or boil them, grate and use them in beet burgers (a great beet/carrot recipe will be forthcoming sometime this summer). Enjoy experimenting with them–and the beet greens too, the big ones for cooking, and the young tender ones raw. Below Jamie Neavill (our second intern) unpacks the goods on this vegetable.

Jamie Neavill: The beet is a friend to our body in many ways! First off, it is rich in vitamins A, B, and C; potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron, beta-carotene, beta-cyanine, and folic acid.  Our body likes those.  In the long-term, beets will lower your blood pressure which helps protect against heart disease.  They also help prevent various cancers.  As for immediate effects, beets will detoxify your liver, purify your blood, aid in digestion, and make you feel better.  Really.  They have betain (used to treat depression), tryptophan which will relax the mind (like dark chocolate), and boron (an aphrodisiac.  Hm.).  For women, the potassium will kick menstrual cramps and the vitamin B and iron will be great for nourishing a baby inside you (if you happen to have one).  And a fun fact: eating beets can be a health test: if your pee turns pink after eating beets it means you have low stomach acid, or at least not enough to fully absorb the beet pigment.

How to cook them to get the maximum nutrients? Quarter and steam them for 15 minutes (and make sure you eat the peel too!).  Fern Creek CSA members Mary Beth and Tyler Amy serve them over quinoa cooked with leeks, garlic, and the greens from our good friend B, and put all that over the abundant lettuce that you receive each week from us.

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A Word About Lavender lavender

The early blooming lavender in The Market this week will be your first spray of it; the next one comes in July. Lavender has been used medicinally for centuries, primarily for its relaxing and healing properties. Use this as a simple bouquet, dry it for use in sachets, or make an infusion of lavender for lemonade, or cook with it in shortbread cookies or biscotti. Below is a Lavender Shortbread recipe from Hood River Lavender Farms. I’ll include my biscotti recipe in July.

Lavender Shortbread (adapted from Hood River Lavender Farms)

1½ cups (3 sticks) butter, room temp.
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp lavender & 1 tbsp mint, chopped
2 1/3 cups flour
½ cup cornstarch
¼ tsp salt

Lavender powdered sugar garnish: Put a few lavender flowers in a sealed, pint jar of powdered sugar for a day before using sugar.

In large bowl cream butter, sugar, lavender and mint; mix until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add flour, cornstarch and salt; beat until combined. Divide dough in half. Flatten into 1/4” thick squares and wrap in plastic. Chill until firm. Preheat oven to 325F. Cut squares into cookies, transfer to parchment lined baking sheets, spacing cookies about 1-inch apart. Prick each cookie several times with fork tines. Bake 20-25 minutes until pale golden (do not brown). Cool slightly and then transfer to a rack. Sprinkle with lavender powdered sugar. Store in cookie boxes or sealed containers.

 

 

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