Fern Creek CSA Newsletter–Week 2

newsletter with photoWe had a strong start to the CSA last week–lots of big and healthy greens, great strawberries, spring onions, and a sampling of snow and snap peas. We enjoyed seeing old friends again,  meeting some of the new folks, and having some of you meet each other. Thank you again (you’ll hear this more than once!) for being part of our Fern Creek family.

Except for succession planting of crops like lettuce and broccoli, all the seeds and transplants are in the ground. I look out the window from my desk upstairs and see the baby winter squash plants–Pumpkin, Butternut, Blue Hubbard, Red Kuri, Acorn, Black Futzu, Spaghetti… they are beginning to take hold of their spot at Fern Creek. It amazes us every year how many pounds of food comes from so light a packet of seeds.

Some plants won”t overly mind the hot weather of the weekend (cucumbers, peppers, eggplant), others are rather more unhappy with it (peas, vine fruits, fragile greens), so we’ll see what we see in the Market this week! Speaking of heat, if you pick up late and your greens are wilted when you get them home, put them in plastic bag in the fridge and they will perk back up. They don’t like circulating air–so close up the bag.

Onward and forward with week two!

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NEW JAM U-PICK

So far about ten of you have had opportunities to pick strawberries (some of you have been here twice already). Speaking of that, if you have already picked–at this point hold off signing up again until mid-week to give others a chance to claim open spots. We’re trying to get a sense of when to expect you, which helps with our daily planning, so please add the time you expect to come after your name. It’s fine for pickers to show up at the same time.

Here’s the current schedule of picking opportunities. This week we have Sweet Sunrise, Puget Reliance, Tillamook, Shukzan, and Charm strawberries for picking.

The CSA member price for strawberries is $1.50/pound.

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The Corner Shelf

As we introduce new things to the shelf in the corner (seasonal jams and pickles or a new batch of fair trade chocolate or cocoa), I’ll give you a heads up about it here.

Organic Fair Trade Vanilla: About two months ago I started steeping another batch of vanilla using Madagascar fair trade organic vanilla beans and organic vodka. The freshly poured bottles are in the Market. Note the label–of which I am particularly fond!

Strawberry Jam: Some of this season’s Puget Reliance berries made their way into two  batches of jam. The Classic Strawberry is the sweeter of the two, and likely most familiar if you’ve had homemade cooked jam before. The Old Fashioned Strawberry Jam uses a technique that cooks the jam long enough to concentrate the berry flavor and add a bit of a caramel-tone. Being concentrated means it uses less than half the sugar of Classic Jam. It is also less jelled–perfectly suited for pancakes, waffles, ice cream and cake drizzling. [For the record: Farmer Mark prefers the Classic and Farmer Lisa the Old Fashion. Take that for what its worth].

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New From the Field

kohlrabiKohlrabi is a brassica that grows above the ground. It has a delightful alien-like appearance and a mild, crunchy taste. Cut off the tendrils (leaves and tendrils can be chopped and added to stir-fries or salads) and peel off the tough skin of the ball. Slice and eat it raw on its own, or add it to salads or stir-fries. Kohlrabi is a cool weather crop so we’ll mostly be eating it now.

rhubarbRhubarb is a vegetable, but because we tend to eat it sweetened with sugar, it’s sometimes treated as a fruit. The leaves are toxic when eaten, so when we harvest we remove the leaves and leave them at the base of the plant to decompose. The tart red/pink stalks have a wonderful flavor when baked in cobblers, pies, or made into a sauce for ice cream or to eat like applesauce. Rhubarb can also be made into a savory chutney to serve with meats, or a chopped into small pieces and tossed into salads for a tart surprise.

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Farmer’s Tip: About Greens…

You see a lot of leaves in the Market in the first weeks because that’s what plants produce first.  Most plants need to get some hearty “stalk and stem” on them before they are strong enough to produce fruit, like zucchini and tomatoes. Michael Pollen says more of our vegetable eating should include leaves; that we tend to eat more seeds (beans, corn, and peas) and fewer leaves when we eat vegetables. So don’t be tempted to dismiss these as nutrient-light–leaves are full of nutrients as noted with Bok Choi last week. Kale, Collards, even the kinds of lettuce we grow, are chock-full of goodness.

Slugs know leaves are good for them (instinctively perhaps), and they like greens. A Lot.  Since we grow organically it means we hand pick slugs off plants rather than use a pesticide. That means you all need to double-check your tender greens for little slugs before chopping them into your salad. (If you are blending them into a smoothie, the extra protein will not hurt you–but some of you may still like to avoid that particular form of protein!). Mostly we manage to keep the big slugs out of the beds, but the little ones manage to sneak in and hide in the leaves. All that said, if you see little white round balls in your produce from time to time, it’s an OMRI approved (organic farmer approved) slug bait that we use when the slugs get out of control. While it’s not harmful to you, we don’t recommend eating it.

Here’s to celebrating greens of all sorts!

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Anticipated in The Market 

Icycle Radish

Icycle Radish

Strawberries (Puget Reliance and Sweet Sunrise, maybe Charm and Tillamook)
Lovelock Lettuce
Kohlrabi

Snow & Snap Peas
Spring Onions
Icycle Radishes
Kale (Dinosaur, Red Russian & Siberian)
Collards
Mesclun Mix or Spinach

Herbs (Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary)

Pick Two
Cascade Delight Raspberries
Chard

Bok Choi
Rhubarb

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Recipes for the Week–All About Rhubarb

Rhubarb Pudding Cakerhubarbcake

This ought to be made at least once a season. Actually, maybe only once a season, although I freeze enough rhubarb to make it several times in the off-season as well. It is heavy in sugar, but still tart and wonderful served warm with a dollop of ice cream.

Rhubarb sauce is excellent served over ice cream.  I’ll also stir some into oatmeal instead of sugar in the morning. It could be eaten by itself for dessert like a sweet applesauce.

Directions: Place about a pound of chopped rhubarb in a heavy pan and add about 1/4 c. water and about 1 c. of sugar (start with less and add to taste). Cook over medium heat for 10-20 minutes until the sauce is the consistency you want. Cool and serve warm or cold.

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