August 17, 2010

CSA News for the Week of August 16th

This Week's Vegetable Harvest:
  • Kennebec (Baking) Potatoes
  • Beefsteak Tomatoes
  • Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Red Onions
  • White Onions
  • Lacinato or Red Kale
  • Leeks
  • Sweet Peppers of Various Colors
  • Poblano (Hot) Peppers
  • Green Beans
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic Chives with Flower Buds
  • Broccoli or Cucumbers (broccoli at the farm pickup, cucumbers at all other sites)
  • Basil (for Glen Ellyn, Clarendon Hills & Oak Park since these members didn't receive it last week)
  • ...And Maybe Some Zucchini
This Week's Fruit Share
  • Paula Red Apples
  • Blueberries (last of the season)
  • Nectarines
Miscellaneous Announcements

There are still Fall Vegetable Shares available. The Fall Share will include beets, cabbage, carrots, celeriac, herbs, leeks, potatoes, lettuce, spinach, pumpkins, winter squash, onions, parsnips, shallots, turnips, radishes, rutabagas, bok choy and more. The Fall Share starts the week of October 4th and runs through the week of November 15th, for a total of 7 weeks. The price is $198, including sales tax. If interested, please send an email to Peg at

Please join us from 2 until 5 p.m. at the farm on Sunday, August 29th for our annual CSA Tomato Jubilee! This is an opporutunity for you, our CSA members, to pick tomatoes for freezing and canning. We welcome you to pick your own tomatoes, feed the chickens, meet your farmers and take a stroll through the fields. During the Tomato Jubilee the first 10 lbs are free for CSA members. All additional tomatoes are only $1 per pound for members. (There is a limit of 40 pounds per family/CSA share.)

Farm Journal
It's Friday evening, about 8:30, and I'm not exactly pleased to be heading back out to the barn to keep working. Tomorrow I'll be up at 3:30 a.m. to start loading the truck for the farmers' market, and there's still work to be done to prepare. Feeling a little grumpy and carrying an armful of tablecloths and market signs, I come around the corner into the main room of the barn. Out of the corner of my eye, I see movement near the door and I stop in my tracks. As I slowly turn my head, I realize I'm staring at the biggest bullfrog I've ever seen. Seriously-- it's just about as big as a muskmelon. We are both frozen there, staring at each other, wondering who is going to make the first move. Finally, I grab a cardboard box and manage to pop it down on top of the bullfrog. With the bullfrog secured in its temporary cage, I turn and run toward the house.

I arrive at the bottom of the stairs huffing and puffing. I fling open the door to the stairway and holler, "Anybody who wants to see the biggest bullfrog in the history of the entire universe better get down here right now!" Immediately I hear the pounding of little feet as the kids run down the hallway and down the wooden stairs. We explode out the door into the darkness, bare feet flying across the gravel driveway. When I lift the box, there is a moment of stunned silence. Then Avery asks quietly, "Do you think I can hold him?" Hmmm. It's a little bit of a ridiculous question given the size of the animal, and I reply skeptically but gently, "Sure, honey, you can try if you want to..." Avery makes a move toward the frog and immediately the big guy is out the barn door in one giant leap.

And then he is gone. We stare out into the darkness for a minute before making our way back to the house. I tuck the kids into bed and head back to the barn to finish the job I had set out to do. I realize that I'm now grinning from ear to ear. All I can think to myself is "Wow, well that was pretty cool." And so it goes on the farm. Just when you need the boost, when your spirits are low, there it is-- the world's biggest bullfrog staring right at you. Or maybe it's a cool caterpillar you've never seen before. Or a nest of baby barnswallows. Or four tiny, perfect watermelons strung out along a sticky green vine. The list never ends. I'm dog tired as I go about finishing my work, but I wouldn't trade this job for anything.

The big one got away before I could take any pictures. This little toad is
one of many toads we encounter every day.

Notes from the Farm Kitchen
Tomato season is now well underway. This week we're picking beefsteaks, yellow "taxi" tomatoes, and more than a dozen types of heirlooms. Throughout the course of the tomato season, you'll have the opportunity to sample tomatoes of different sizes, shapes, colors, textures and flavors. We hope you find a new favorite!

One week in late June your vegetable share contained garlic chives. As you may recall, garlic chives have a rather flat leaf compared to regular chives. This week the plants have formed beautiful little buds on long, cylindrical flower stalks. Your share contains a bunch of these beauties. Both stalk and bud are entirely edible and have a wondefully pungent garlic flavor. In my opinion they are not tender enough to use raw, but they are delicious when sauteed for a minute or two in a little olive oil or butter. Use sauteed chives and buds to flavor tomato salads and potato salads or use as a topping for baked potatoes. The possiblities are endless!

I spent some time on Tuesday morning harvesting garlic chives...

...and then made a tasty tomato, mozzerella and chive salad. To make the salad, sauté a couple of tablespoons of chopped garlic chives (including buds) in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Chop a couple of ripe tomatoes and a ball of fresh mozzarella. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, including all of the olive oil from the pan. Season with salt if necessary. This salad is best if you let it sit for an hour before eating.
As far as hot peppers go, poblanos are somewhere in the middle of the heat index scale. They are not as hot as a jalapeno or a serrano. This week's poblanos are between 3 and 5 inches long and are dark green and glossy. We have packed them in plastic bags so you will easily be able to tell the difference between the poblanos and the sweet bell peppers. Roasting poblano peppers before using them improves their flavor and allows you to remove their waxy skin. Once you've roasted them you can put them in a freezer bag and store them in the freezer for months. Poblanos can be used in many different Mexican-inspired dishes from rice dishes to casseroles to the well-known chiles rellenos. To roast them you can either put them under the broiler, use a skewer to hold them over an open flame on your stove top, or stick them in a very hot toaster oven. You should roast them until the skin starts to bubble and the bubbles start to blacken. Once this starts to happen, flip them over and do the same to the other side. Allow them to cool before pulling the skin off with your fingers. Finally, make a slit in each one and remove the seeds.
Kennebec potatoes are perfect for baking, but they also work well for many other applications. You can roast them, include them in soups, or mash them.

Because kale makes such a great addition to winter soups and stews, it's easy to think of it as strictly a cool-weather vegetable. This week I've come up with some recipes to get you thinking about how well it can also pair with warm-weather veggies such as tomatoes, poblano peppers, and eggplant. Some pickup sites will receive lacinato kale (pictured on the left), while other sites will recieve red kale (on the right). Both types can be used virtually interchangeably.

This Week's Recipes

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... watermelons, green onions, lettuce, beets, tomatoes, carrots, basil, cucumbers, tomatillos, peaches, plums and more!