June 30, 2009

CSA News for the Week of June 29th

This Week's Vegetable Share:
  • Spinach
  • Red Currants
  • Head Lettuce
  • Crimini Mushrooms*
  • Baby Leeks
  • Scarlet Turnips
  • Zucchini and/or Summer Squash
  • Broccoli
    * not grown on our farm. See Notes from the Farm Kitchen for more info.
This Week's Fruit Share:
  • Red Raspberries
  • Sweet Cherries
  • Strawberries
Important Dates

What: Sandhill Organics Field Walk
When: Sunday, July 6th, 4-6 p.m.
Where: At the farm (32140 Harris Road in Grayslake)

What: Sandhill Organics Tomato Jubilee
When: August 30th, 2-5 p.m.
Where: At the farm (32140 Harris Road in Grayslake)

What: Lecture by Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
When: Monday, September 21, 2-3 p.m.
Where: Chicago Botanic Garden. Click here for more information

What: 6th Annual Lake County Wellness Celebration
When: Sunday, October 4th, 11-4 p.m.
Where: At the farm, but parking is at Lake Forest Hospital. Click here for more info.

Farm Journal
Tuesday morning. I find myself feeling incredulous for two reasons. First of all, I am crouching in the woodchips next to a long line of red currant bushes, positively shivering as I go about the morning's harvest. Here I am wearing a jacket in order to stay warm when exactly one week ago the only relief from the heat was to retreat to the house at lunchtime and lay on the basement floor, pressing my face against the mercifully cool cement. My body is still trying to make sense of the temperature change, and so, I suspect are some of our plants. Secondly, I am incredulous to discover, about 2 minutes into the harvest, that the amount of fruit on these currant bushes is beyond anything I had imagined. The bare twigs we planted a mere two years ago have exploded with foliage and fruit. Shiny ruby-red orbs hang in crowded clusters along the woody stems. I hold a cluster up in the sunlight and beneath the fragile translucent skin I can easily make out many tiny seeds inside each currant. At this particular moment there is nothing more beautiful on earth. And so picking currants on this Tuesday morning is more a treasure hunt than a chore. Enjoy these little goodies. They are a once-a-year taste of early summer.
Have a good week. --Peg

Notes from the Farm Kitchen

Red currants are members of the gooseberry family and are native to Western Europe. They are most often associated with the making of currant jelly, but they are excellent prepared in other ways as well. I find the sweet-sour taste of raw currants refreshing, but I also like to use them in desserts, savory dishes and salads. They should be stored in the refrigerator.

The crimini mushrooms come to us from our friend Eric Rose who farms near Burlington, Wisconsin. Store your criminis in the refrigerator, and if you plan to keep them around for more than a day or two, I recommend transfering them to a paper bag so they can breath in the fridge.

Leeks belong to the lily family, as do onions, garlic, scallions, shallots and chives. Baby leeks can be used in many different recipes that call for onions. Chop them like green onions, making sure to discard the fibrous tops.

Scarlet turnips are both beautiful and tasty. As opposed to the white japanese turnips we grow, these scarlet turnips are best when eaten cooked rather than raw. Slice them thinly, saute in butter with 1-inch sections of baby leeks and garlic scapes, and season with salt and pepper. For last night's supper, I prepared the turnips this way and then piled everything onto a pizza crust. With the addition of a little mozzarella and feta, you've got yourself one tasty "pizza".

Sweet cherries are best eaten fresh rather than used to make a pie. In my opinion, sour cherries are best for making pies and will be included in the fruit share in a week or two. Sweet cherries, unlike the more fragile raspberries, will keep well in the refrigerator for up to a week. Fresh raspberries ought to be eaten within a couple of days.

This Week's Recipes

Spinach Salad with Red Currant Dressing
Red Currant Clafouti
Slow-Roasted Zucchini with Balsamic Vinegar
Fusilli with Broccoli and Peanut Sauce
Matchstick Turnips Sauteed with Garlic Scapes

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... Swiss chard, newly-dug garlic, cilantro, cucumbers, basil, zucchini, broccoli, kohlrabi, lettuce, parsley and fennel.