May 3, 2010

CSA News for the Week of May 3rd

This Week's Vegetable Harvest:
  • Cherry Belle Radishes
  • Arugula
  • Overwintered Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Chives with Flower Buds
  • Yukon Gold Potatoes*
  • Mixed Lettuces
  • Green Garlic
  • Decorative Pussywillow Bunch
    *=not grown on our farm. See Notes from the Farm Kitchen for more info.

Organic Plant Sale on May 8th
The Prairie Crossing Learning Farm and Prairie Crossing Charter School PSO invite the public to their 5th Annual Organic Plant Sale. The theme this year is “Grow Your Own Groceries” from organically grown vegetable, herb and edible flower plants that will be for sale at this fun family event. Most of the plants for sale are grown by the students of the Charter School as part of their curriculum and 7th grade Service Learning Project. The Organic Plant Sale will be held at the shops of Station Square at Prairie Crossing, 977 Harris Road, Grayslake, IL on Saturday, May 8th from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., rain or shine. In addition to plants for sale, there will be kids activities, garden-related vendors, food and drink and more.For more information please contact Dorie Roth at 847-548-4062 x 11 or

Annual Prairie Pedal - A Family Bike Ride on Sunday, May 16th
Celebrate open space and support the Liberty Prairie Conservancy’s land preservation work by taking part in this popular Lake County tradition—a bike ride through beautiful natural areas. Choose from a variety of route lengths, ranging from child-friendly to challenging, and be sure to swing in to the well-appointed refreshment and education stations. The end point features a scrumptious lunch, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and professional massages. Check in and begin riding anytime between 8:30 and 11 a.m. at the Lake Forest Hospital building in Grayslake. Walk-ups welcome. $25 adults ($20 by May 7), $15 ages 6-17 ($10 by May 7. Free for children ages 5 and under. Visit for more info.

Farm Journal
5 a.m. Tuesday morning
I am already awake when the alarm goes off. Before my feet hit the floor I start reviewing the list of tasks that need to be done in preparation for the first CSA share; harvest arugula and radishes, wash and bag spinach, finish researching recipes for the newsletter. And the list goes on. I flip the switch on the coffeemaker, take a deep breath, and think about how good it feels to be back in the CSA rhythm.

People often ask what Matt and I do all winter long. My standard reply is that there's plenty to keep us busy around here after the snow flys-- bookkeeping, fixing equipment, attending conferences, planning for the next season's crops. While it's true that our farm operation is a year-round business, it's also true that the rhythm of the days is distinctly different in the wintertime. We sleep when we want, play with our kids when we want, go out of town when we want. For two people who thrive on hard work, this relaxed pace can be, well, downright disconcerting. Needless to say, it has become apparent to me over the years that I wasn't born with the relaxation gene! We are thrilled to be back in the swing of things, and the fact that the farm has never looked better just puts the icing on the cake. Thanks to a warm and dry April, every single early-season crop has been planted on time or even ahead of schedule. Together with our staff, we've put together a beautiful share for you this week. We look forward to sharing a great season with you. Cheers! --Peg

Matt and the crew bag your mixed lettuces on Tuesday. (From left: Nathan, Matt, Derek, Jeff and Meredith.)

Baby radishes, turnips and carrots --these are the three tiny spring beauties that caught my eye this morning as I walked through the hoophouse.

Notes from the Farm Kitchen

Overwintered spinach has thicker and more flavorful leaves than spring-planted spinach because it gets planted in October and grows throughout the winter before being harvested in May. Because of its thick leaf, overwintered spinach is best used in cooked dishes rather than eaten raw in salads.

Most spring vegetables must be refrigerated in a plastic bag. Some items (such as the leaf lettuce) are bagged by us at the farm. You will need to supply plastic bags for other items such as asparagus and head lettuce. Keeping these items in plastic helps prevent wilting. If you’ve got lettuce or some other tender vegetable that appears droopy, soak it in cold water for a few minutes and refrigerate in a plastic bag until it perks up. On a related note, we rinse the vegetables here at the farm, but you should wash them again prior to eating.

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 Yukon Gold potatoes come from the Igl Farm in Antigo, Wisconsin. Brothers Brian and Tom have been farming organically for many years. Springtime in our kitchen means cooking with the three things we have in abundance-- eggs from our hens, tender greens and last season's potatoes that have been carefully stored through the winter. Because these are storage potatoes, they need to be kept relatively cold to ensure that they won't sprout. Rather than keeping them in a pantry or basement, I recommend keeping them in the warmest part of your refrigerator.

Use chopped chives in potato salads, egg dishes, salad dressings, marinades and much more. You can make chive butter and freeze it for later use by adding chopped chives to softened butter. Mold it into a rectangle (or some fancier shape if you are the artistic sort), wrap in a piece of waxed paper and place in a freezer bag. Like many other members of the allium family, chive plants form purple flowers as they mature. Chive buds are not only pretty, they are also very tasty. Try breaking the mild-tasting buds up and sprinkling them over salads, omelets and more. They can also be fried and used as a crispy garnish.

Flower buds on our chive plants are very close to blooming.

This Week's Recipes

Savory Bread Pudding with Asparagus & Chives
Molly Katzen's Arugula Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
Creamed Mashed Potatoes with Spinach

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... spinach, asparagus, swiss chard, oregano, thyme, radishes, tomato puree, head lettuce and arugula