Thursday, July 29, 2010

Some Summer Varieties

This week three of our tomato varieties are starting to ripen: Moscovich, Tigerella, and Sungold. There were also just a couple Black Prince. Chadwick's Cherry is the only other variety we're growing. The Moscovich are a standard red tomato with excellent flavor. Tigerella is almost like an overgrown cherry with red and orange tiger stripes. Sungold is an outstanding orange cherry, with a very fruity flavor. We pack the varieties randomly in the bags and hope that everyone will get to try all of them.

We're also growing two types of summer squash that get packed randomly: Yellow Scallopini and Midnight Lightning. We should have these in the share for the next six weeks or so.

Flipping back through last year's posts, there's a very similar one from August with notes on ripeness of tomatoes (near the end). It's useful info if you're wondering about how we pick the tomatoes and how ripe they are.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Summer vegetables

Tomatoes, basil, and summer squash are some of the most summery vegetables I can think of and they're all in the share today. This is really just the start of tomatoes and summer squash for us so they're small samples, but we'll continue to have more as the season goes on. Also in the share today are fennel, red iceberg lettuce and beets.

Thursday, July 22, 2010



Here's a photo of Kji and Adam pulling the last of the garlic. Today's share is mostly the same as Monday's (see the last post) minus the favas which are finished for the season. Everyone is receiving a few extra potatoes because we're undersubscribed. We've decided to go ahead a distribute some of the unsold shares of potatoes to the members who have signed up instead of storing them ourselves. We are selling some lettuce and other occasional items to help make up for the lower CSA sign ups this year. Long term we'd rather have all of it distributed through CSA, which is much easier for us, and is really the way we're set up right now.

The fields are looking good, although still a bit behind from the late spring. We're hoping to have summer squash as soon as next week and the very first tomatoes are ripening, although it'll still be a few weeks before we have enough to give out.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Fall share for the summer

Today we pulled the last of the garlic and the first of the potatoes. The garlic is Chesnok Red and it should keep through the fall on the counter, somewhere with good air flow. The potatoes are French Fingerlings, a bit earlier than we had planned but the tops suffered a bit of blight which took them down a few weeks early and gave us slightly smaller potatoes than we would have liked. Still, there are a good number of them and they'll keep in a cool, dry, dark place for a few months at least if you don't get around to eating them right away. There's no more garlic to give out this year but we do have one more variety of potato that will be coming in the next few weeks.

Also in the share today is a bit of rosemary to go with the potatoes (it will also dry and keep if you don't want to use it immediately), Yellowstone carrots, the last of the Aquadulce favas, and a big head of Plato II romaine. The potatoes, rosemary and garlic make me think of root roast which is a very fall dish in my mind. They'd make a great potato salad, or grilled potato salad as well, so maybe it's summer after all. I grilled favas for the first time this weekend and they're great. If you have the hibachi or grill out just toss them on in the pods, cook them until the pods are shriveling a bit and then eat the beans out of them.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Big Onion

One pound twelve ounces to be exact. I'm not sure if this was the biggest, but a few of you have samples in the shares this week. Today's share is almost the same as Monday's, although the peas are finished and we needed to pinch the basil again so there it is. The onions are all different sizes and most folks got a range from large to small. Many have flat sides from growing up against other onions. In my mind this actually makes them easier to slice, although I admit they're a little funny looking.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Another Big One

Today's share has a few extras in it, and a few of the items will keep well if you can't use them right away. The lettuce, fennel, peas and favas should all be used soon. The garlic and onions will keep for a couple of months in a cool dry spot. The onions might actually prefer the fridge if you have space. These are the last of our sweet onions which have been in the ground since last October. The garlic is a bit of random varieties that were planted for green garlic, but they never got harvested so we're giving them out now. This week there are two heads of lettuce, as the hot weather has speeded things up a bit and we were a little behind anyway. The pirat butter lettuce and lolo divino will make a great salad. It's the end of the peas today, the heat really did them in. The favas look nice and fat this year. If you haven't prepared them before the pods aren't edible but the fresh beans inside are great boiled or sauteed. Some folks say to skin the bean itself, there's a bit of a skin around each bean that can be removed, but I just eat them with the skin on. They make a great addition to pasta with a little olive oil, lemon, garlic and hard cheese.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Big View


The share today is basically the same as Monday's share, so I thought I'd post a photo of the farm from above. The two rows of beds on the right are the expansion from this year, 38 new beds to add to the original 28. The grassy area in the middle is the next area to move into over the next few weeks as we plant out the rest of the fall and winter vegetables. Ten more beds or so will bring us almost up to 80, which is our absolute max possible in the existing space. It was hot today but we rolled the dice anyway, seeded some carrots, beans and dill, flats of lettuce, chicory, and broccoli and put down a bunch of water. The summer crops look like they're loving the heat. If only this had come a month ago, I'm not sure how much time they have to put on the growth they need to. We'll see, always different every year.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cotton Bags


I just picked a share off my porch that wasn't picked up. It's been sitting there since Monday, with no cooling other than the damp cotton bag surrounding it and a bit of shade. It's Wednesday. It was 80 degrees yesterday, and those vegetable were harvested a full two days ago, with no refrigeration at all. All of the produce is fine. I am amazed by our low tech cooling systems, even though folks have been using them forever and I was first introduced to them twelve years ago on the farm I apprenticed on.

We use light weight, organic cotton bags that are soaked with water to pack and cool our vegetables. The packaging is reusable, relatively low tech, and effective on our small scale. It has allowed us to avoid the capital investment of buying a large cooler to keep the shares cold, and the ongoing costs of electricity and maintenance as well. Because the vegetables are harvested, packed and distributed on the same day it works. If you were to eat your vegetables within three days of harvest you could probably get away with never putting them in a refrigerator. Three days is the space between our harvest days.

A couple of thoughts on all of this. Refrigeration uses an amazing amount of electricity, and what it allows us to do is to hold onto vegetables long after they have been harvested. This means we can ship them long distances, which means eaters don't get them for at least a few days to a week after they're actually harvested. This also means that they can sit in our kitchens for long periods until we're either inspired to cook them, or they turn rubbery and we're inspired to compost them. I'm not suggesting that we get rid of refrigeration, I'm just suggesting that it's not as necessary as we take it to be, and we could get away with a lot less of it if we thought more carefully about how we use it.

PS - A huge thank you to all the members who return their bags inside out! It's a very small thing but on Sunday and Wednesday evenings when I go to wash the bags it's nice to not have to turn all 60 or so inside out.

PPS - Even though I think the bags are amazing, it's still best to pick up CSA shares ASAP, the vegetables will definitely be in better shape if you do.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Carrots and Peas

And fennel, chard, a garlic scape and lettuce. It's a big share this week, at least by our standards. Our early garlic is all out of the ground, but we have a later variety that is just setting scapes now. The lettuce is blush butter cos, a great combination of butter and romaine lettuces. I'm not sure how long the peas will last this year. We might get a second pick next week, but the forecasted heat could do them in before that so make sure to enjoy them this week. We loaded up on carrots a bit this week. If you can't use them all right away they should keep fine in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

How I Used The Share

Last night, pre holiday, I made a special dinner using part of the share and some great salmon from Bristol Bay. I thought I'd share the menu, as inspiration, and also say that we'd love to hear what you do with the shares as well.

I took my inspiration from the Chez Panisse Menu cookbook and poached the salmon in a simple stock, which I also cooked the peas in, and used to make a basil butter sauce. It's not pictured but we also had a salad with olive oil and balsamic, using the lettuce from the share, and a little leftover pasta salad with kale and feta on the side.

The salmon is from Bristol Bay in Alaska. I saw a beautiful film called Red Gold about the fishing up there and the threat to that watershed by a proposed mine, an unimaginably large open pit mine. Google Bristol Bay and you'll find lots of references to the mine and the fish. This spring I was on a panel discussing CSA (hosted by Slow Food Portland) where I met Reid Ten Klay from Illiamna Fish Co. who actually fishes in Bristol Bay and offers a Salmon CSA here in Portland. I didn't sign up (although I'm very tempted) but when I saw the Bristol Bay salmon at New Seasons I went for it.

So, here's what I did with the vegetables, and the salmon. I took a carrot and garlic scape that were leftover from a previous share (I don't always get to eating the vegetables right away) and I diced them, added them to a pot with a cup of water and a cup of white wine, tossed in some fennel seeds, black pepper corns, and a teaspoon of sea salt. I simmered that for about 15 minutes and then strained out the liquid. I simmered the shelled peas in that stock for just a few minutes, just enough time to get them dark green, but still leaving them firm. While all of this was cooking, I chopped up the basil and pounded it into a paste in a mortar and pestle and then pounded in about two tablespoons of butter. When the peas were done I again strained out stock, and saved about two tablespoons, putting the rest back into the pot. Into the pot with the stock I added a bit more water so that I had just enough to cover the fish and then poached the fish in the stock for about three minutes. I removed the fish with a slotted spoon and put it on a towel, saving the stock in a jar for soup later. The remaining two tablespoons of stock went back in to the pan with a teaspoon of lemon juice, or so, and I boiled that until it was reduced by half or so, then turned the head down low and added the basil butter, stirring to incorporate it all into a sauce. That's it, the sauce goes on the plate, peas on the sauce, salmon on the peas and it's ready to eat - and yes, it was incredibly good, definitely a treat, and only about a half hour to prepare.

One more note, I used two shares of basil (about six small sprigs), two shares of peas (twenty pods), and just one carrot and garlic scape, and I had about 2/3 of a pound of fish. All of this for two servings.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Peas (and more precipitation)


The first peas of the season are finally here, a bit later than expected, but with a little luck we'll still have them for a week or two. They are shelling peas (premium is the variety) which means the pod is a bit too tough to eat. The pods do have great flavor though so if you want to take advantage use them in stock.

The rest of the share is the same as Monday's so take a look back at the last post for a bit more. The only other difference is that some of you are getting blushed butter cos lettuce instead of blushed icy oak.

It just started sprinkling on my head! I thought we were done with the rain. Actually, I kind of like it, and I'm hoping it'll help this weeks seeding of carrots germinate.