More Lettuce?

Nancy B

Nancy Butterhead, the most delicious butter crisp lettuce you will encounter.

Lily and lettuceSometimes Mother Nature does not work on our schedule. What we planned to be a leisurely harvest of lettuce over the course of the Spring season, has turned into a full-on race to get it all harvested before it rots in the field. This condensed schedule was brought on by close to 8 inches of rain in the past two weeks, which caused two things: the lettuce to grow extremely quickly and for its shelf life to be reduced somewhat due to the rapid growth. So yes, more lettuce in your shares, yay! Not to brag or anything, BUT, it is absolutely gorgeous lettuce, and varieties you won’t find in anywhere else. For instance, our favorite variety this year is Nancy Butterhead. For one, we just love saying the name, but it also is one of the best, most delicate and flavorful varieties we have come across in a long time. You will never find this in a grocery store because it is just too delicate to ship.

lettuce 2

Delicious, crisp, lovely, lettuce!

So, besides making a salad, what can you do with lettuce? You can add it to a sandwich, for an extra bit of flavor and crunch. Or, why not try a refreshing chilled lettuce soup? Lettuce cups or wraps are showing up on menus everywhere lately, from P.F. Chang’s to Chez Panisse. Basically, take any “filling” you like, such as egg or chicken salad, or spicy Thai chicken or pork, and wrap it in a lettuce leaf—voila! no fork required—just roll it up and eat like a burrito!

Below are some of the recipes we have been handing out on share days, plus online links to few fun spots. Huffington Post has a new weekly column, highlighting the more unusual things you might find in your share box. Last week they featured kohlrabi, and this week it is garlic scapes. Two very timely, and underrated, vegetables.

Joy and Kate

Joy and Kate harvesting pea tendrils in the early morning.

 

 

Spring Recipes

not sure what to do with pea tendrils, broccoli raab or rhubarb? Here are a few recipes to start the season. Scroll to the bottom for printable versions.



Sautéed Pea Tendrils

Pea TendrilsPea tendrils have a fresh, delicate flavor—not much needs to be done to them. In fact, they are delicious raw too!

  • 1 bunch of pea tendrils—trim any tough ends
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2–4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • A sprinkle of sea salt
  • Chili flakes, if you like heat (optional)

Rinse and chop the pea tendrils. Add olive oil and garlic to a cold skillet. Heat over medium heat until garlic is fragrant (but not brown!). Remove garlic clove from the pan and save for later (optional).

Add the chopped tendrils and sauté for about 30 seconds. Cover and cook just until wilted 2–5 minutes, depending on their thickness—don’t overdo it—you want them barely wilted, but still flavorful and crunchy!

Serve with a tiny sprinkle of sea salt and/or chili flakes if you want a little bit of heat. You also can chop the garlic and add it back in if you’d like.

 Pea Tendril Pesto

This intensely flavored, neon green pesto recipe is inspired by one that appeared in the New York Times. Add up to a half-cup of additional fresh herbs such as chives, mint, arugula and parsley. Like most pestos, all amounts are approximate, so adjust according to your own taste. Recipe by Edible Portland

Try this pesto on a piece of toast with a sliced hard boiled egg; added to boiled potatoes with chopped green onions; or thinned with pasta water and tossed with wide-cut fresh noodles.

  • ½ cup walnuts, raw or toasted
  • 3 cups pea shoots, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan Reggiano
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1/3 to ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. To toast the walnuts, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread walnuts on baking sheet and roast until golden, about 10 minutes. Check by letting them cool and then breaking a walnut in half. The inside should be golden all the way through. (Optional. Tastes good with walnuts just out of the bag too).

2. In a food processor or blender, combine walnuts, pea shoots, Parmesan and garlic. Pulse until roughly chopped. Add salt to taste. With motor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Blend until well-combined and you reach your desired thickness. Scrape pesto into a bowl and use immediately, or store in a jar with a thick covering of olive oil and use within three days. You can also freeze in ice cube trays.

Makes 2 to 2 ½ cups

Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Rabe

Garlicky Broccoli Rabe from Smitten Kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.smittenkitchen.com

  • 1 lb pasta, whatever shape you like (but chunky ones will match up better with the rabe)
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, heavy stems removed, remaining stems and leaves cut into 1- to 2-inch sections (roughly the same size as the pasta you are using)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced or pressed
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more or less to taste
  • About 1 heaping teaspoon Kosher salt (or more to taste)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and five minutes before its cooking time is up, add the broccoli rabe. It will seem like too much for the water, but with a stir or two, the rabe should wilt and cook alongside the pasta. Drain rabe and pasta together and pour into serving bowl.

In a small pot (or reuse the one you just emptied), heat the olive oil with the garlic, pepper flakes and Kosher salt over moderate heat, stirring frequently for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the garlic becomes lightly golden. Pour mixture over pasta and toss to evenly coat. Shower with freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese and eat at once.

 Spinach Salad with Strawberries & Basil

Adapted from Rachel Ray

  • 1 shallot
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 ½ cups small strawberries
  • 2 – 3 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 4 – 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Crumbled goat cheese (optional)

Chop the shallot and put it in a small bowl. Add the vinegar, sugar and lemon juice and set aside. Meanwhile, hull the strawberries and cut them in half. Transfer to a serving bowl along with the spinach and basil.

Whisk the extra virgin olive oil into the vinegar mixture and season with salt and pepper. Toss the salad with the dressing and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with goat cheese if desired.

Vanilla Rhubarb Jam

rhubarb jam

www.AlexandrasKitchen.com

  • about a pound of rhubarb*, to yield about 3 1/2 to 4 cups once chopped
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean

*If you start with a pound of rhubarb, by the time you trim the ends, you will have (shockingly) less than a pound of rhubarb, which will yield closer to 3 cups of chopped rhubarb. If you start with more like a pound and a half or a pound and a quarter of rhubarb, the yield once chopped will be closer to 4 cups. I have made the jam both ways and prefer it on the less sweet side — 1lb. 6 oz of rhubarb untrimmed left me with 4 cups of chopped rhubarb. You can always add more sugar about halfway through the cooking process if you find the jam to be too tart, but I doubt you will.

1. Wash rhubarb. Trim ends. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Place rhubarb in a saucepan with sugar. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the caviar with a paring knife. Place caviar and remaining pod in pan with rhubarb and sugar. Cover pan, place over medium heat and cook until the mixture is bubbling and the rhubarb has released a significant amount of its juices, about 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Uncover the pan, give the mixture a stir, and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thick and jam-like in consistency, another 10 or 15 minutes. Stir frequently and use a spatula or spoon to breakdown any big pieces of rhubarb. Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer to a jar and store in the fridge for at least a week.

Rhubarb Bars

rhubarb-crumb-bars

From “One United Harvest.”
Because of rhubarb’s tart flavor, these taste just like lemon bars.

  • Crust:
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 8 T powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • Filling:
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2¼ cups sugar
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups diced fresh rhubarb

For the crust, stir together flour and sugar. Cut into butter. Pat this mixture in a greased 9 x 13” pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10 – 15 min, until set, but not brown. Set aside.

Beat together eggs, sugar and flour. Stir in rhubarb. Pour this mixture over the hot crust and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until set.

 

Welcome to the 2013 CSA Season!

Pea Tendrils

Delicious, tender pea tendrils!

Sorry to have gone dormant and not updated the blog for such a long period of time. We have been crazy busy with millions (or so it seems) of farm activities.  A farmer’s day can easily be 12 to 14 hours at this time of year. Somehow, I find that this schedule does not lend itself to creative blogging. Remember that phrase “Make hay when the sun shines?” Well, it is never more appropriate than Spring…we have taken advantage of every single sunny day, only instead of “making hay,” we are growing produce. When you’re a farmer, Spring is all out time for farming!

The weather so far this year has been a roller coaster ride. It was certainly slow to warm up, and as a result we delayed some plantings. Which is a good thing since we experienced a heavy frost the second week of  May. The frost was then closely followed by four days in the 90’s. This kind of weather is challenging for people who aren’t used it as well as for all of our newly planted seedlings. We had some plants nipped by the frost, but no major losses. We  also had to replant a bunch of tomatoes that didn’t like the 90 degree windy days (thank goodness for extra plants in reserve!). Everything is growing very rapidly now, and it is very rewarding to look out over the fields and see the fruits of our labor!

We have the first week of CSA under our belt and as a result, are slowly shifting our energies from spending our time planting and tending, to harvesting and waiting on members and customers.

It is wonderful to see so many new members this year, as well as the many returning members after the long winter’s hiatus. A community has truly formed around this farm property! Good food and good people—what could be better!

Is Tomorrow the Day?

We’re hoping tomorrow is the big day when we finally get our “blessed forklift” back on the job!  It decided to go on strike sometime in Dec and we have been fiddling with it ever since [thankfully, not non-stop]. I have to admit we had additional names for it during all the frustrating hours spent working on it. It’s clearly a “vintage” piece of machinery but enough for our needs if it would only be reliable  We need it functioning to acess all the wonderful pallet shelving that we’ve installed in the barn so as to maximize  storage capabilities. It’s amazing how much stuff is utilized in our farming operation! Sometimes things are only needed for a month or two out of the year and then we’d like to move them up onto the shelving to make room for the next project. In the background of this photo are some of the various pieces of the new cooler we’re constructing. The forklift would be mighty handy with this project! Let’s see if new ignition parts gets it purring again.

Special tools of the trade

Over the years we have begun groOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwing more and more seedlings in the greenhouse.It gives us a nice jump on the season and allows us to provide a greater diversity of produce from the get go in Spring. If we did all this by hand it would be a rather daunting task to crank out the quantities of seedlings we need.

Here’s a picture of some of the tools we use in the greenhouse to help speed up the seeding process. Notice the board with the dowel pegs sticking out of it. This is called a dibble board [leave it to the Brits to name such a thing] it is used to establish the holes in the soil mix in which the seeds will be placed. Every time we switch to a different size of seed flat we need to use a different dibble board. So we have standardized the process as much as possible. This special tool keeps us from having to poke individual holes in the soil mix with your finger-big time savings! The other box -like tool is our wonderful vacuum seeder. A hose connects the suction box to a shop vac. The seeder has exchangeable plates that have specific hole sizes punched in each one. The idea is to use just the right plate size so  that the seeds will not get stuck in the holes when the suction is turned on. A seed will be held to the outside of each hole when the vacuum is turned on and will release when the device is turned upside down over top the seed flat and the vacuum is then turned off. Each seed falls into a hole that was created with the dibble board. A number of different plates are needed for the device since seeds vary so much in size and shape. Each plate costs more then $100.00.  Yikes- and we have to have how many plates?  Not exactly cheep but what a brilliant time saver and definitely money well spent!

Reason to celebrate!

IMG_20130215_121121_278(1)We like to save the big Summer Rambo apple trees till last. After two months of pruning it’s good to celebrate when the last tree is pruned. We’ll take a bit of a break from pruning to do some other chores and then it’s to the peach orchard sometime in March.