June 2, 2009

CSA News for the Week of June 1st

This Week's Vegetable Harvest:
  • Baby Carrots
  • Baby Beets
  • Arugula
  • Head Lettuce
  • Green Garlic
  • Baby Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Napa Cabbage or Bok Choy
  • Cherriette Radishes
  • Corn Meal
* not grown on our farm. See Notes from the Farm Kitchen for more info.

Farm Journal
There's something wonderful about pigs. I'm not talking about pork here--although I could easily write an entire journal entry about my love of high-quality pastured pork--but rather, the animals themselves. We raised pigs for the first time last year and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. (We are also having a marvelous time working our way through a freezer full of tasty pork.) We knew we wanted to raise a couple of pigs again this year, but it wasn't until this past week that we deemed the weather warm enough to pick up our young feeder pigs. Since they will be raised primarily on pasture and without a barn to shelter in, we needed to wait until the threat of freezing nighttime temperatures had passed. (In this respect, putting pigs out on pasture and planting tomato seedlings have the same prerequisites. Not coincidentally, both activites are taking place this week on our farm.)

On Sunday afternoon the kids and I picked up a pair of 12-week old pigs--a Hampshire and an American Spot. They will spend the season grazing our fields in a mobile pig pen. Based on our experience, the much-maligned pig, reputed to smelly and lazy, is actually fairly clean and industrious. The mobile pen (see photo below) gives them frequent access to fresh pasture and allows them to stay busy rooting around for insects and plants. As a bonus, it doubles as a jungle gym for the kids. Who says farm life has to be all work and no play?!

Have a good week. --Peg

Notes from the Farm Kitchen

Napa cabbage, also known as Chinese cabbage, has been cultivated for over six thousand years. Brassica rapa seeds have been found in jars in the excavated New Stone Age settlement of Banpo. They were a common part of the diet in southern China by the 5th century. Use Napa cabbage to make cole slaws similar to those made with the familiar green cabbage. For a simple crunchy side dish, chop it up, add sliced almonds and chopped green onions and dress it with oil and vinegar.

These green-top baby carrots were seeded inside the hoophouse more than 2 months ago, weeks before the fields were ready to be worked. They are a special treat this time of year since our earliest planting of field carrots won’t be ready for at least a month yet. Enjoy!

Arugula is a member of the mustard family. Its peppery flavor adds a real kick to salads and sandwiches

Green garlic stalks are the immature stalks of the garlic plant. We plant our garlic in October and harvest the bulbs in July. We allow most of our plants to develop bulbs, but a small portion are harvested in the spring when they look like very large green onions. Use everything but the fibrous dark green tops. I substitute garlic stalks for garlic cloves in many different recipes since the flavor and pungency are very similar.

The corn for the corn meal was grown by the Weydert family near DeKalb. It can be used in making breads, muffins, pancakes and other baked goods. You can also use it to create a crunchy breading for fish and other meats.

2008 CSA Gatherings

Early Summer Field Walk
Tuesday, June 23rd, 6:00-7:30 p.m.

Mid-Summer Field Walk
Sunday, July 26th, 4:00-6:00 p.m.

Tomato Jubilee
Sunday, August 30th, 2:00-5:00 p.m.

More details will follow soon. If you have questions in the meantime, please contact Peg at 847-548-4030 or sandhillorganics@prairiecrossing.com.

Important Reminders

-Next week is the FINAL WEEK of the Spring Share.
-The Fruit Share starts June 24th/25th.
-Please return empty boxes to your pickup site each week so that we may reuse them. Thanks!

This Week's Recipes

Indian Pudding

Cornmeal Asparagus Spoon Bread

Garlicky Hush Puppies

Roasted Spring Vegetable Salad with Orange-Tahini Dressing

Bowtie Pasta with Beet Greens, Capers and Olives

Arugula & Green Garlic Pizza

Asian Dumpling Soup

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... green onions, head lettuce, endive, spinach, rhubarb, asparagus, cilantro, and mushrooms