Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Curly kale beds with hoophouse in background

This week’s harvest
Head Lettuce-  Yay! The lettuce did well with the cooler weather last week, and we have some beautiful lettuce.  We’ll cross our fingers for next week and hope that the little heads will handle the next few days of hot weather.
Radishes “French Breakfast”, Try the radish and cucumbers in a dill marinade recipe below.
Kale “Curly”: This variety has a nice texture for tomato sauce and soups.  Also great for kale chips.  (See recipe in previous blog post.http://bluebirdfarmcsa.blogspot.com/2012/05/week-1-of-lovely-vegetables.html)
Swiss Chard “Rainbow”: Medium bunch of baby leaves. See recipe below.
Zucchini and Summer Squash: There are many fun types of zucchini. I think that they are all similar in flavor when picked young and cooked, usually sautéed lightly. (Never cook them a long time; they turn to mush!)
Lettuce Mix           
Greens Mix (Mizuna, and Tatsoi)This mix is not so tiny in size anymore; you can also enjoy it by chopping into 1 inch pieces and wilting it down in a stir fry.  This lively mix has the peppery flavor of arugula with the more mild flavors of mizuna and tatsoi.  You may also dice it up and wilt down in a dish at the very end of cooking.
Mizuna- fancy Japanese green that is a bit peppery, but is much more mild than arugula. It has fancy, deeply serrated edges.
        Tatsoi-(pronounced: tat soy)     
Scallions: Use the fleshy part and the greens too.  Nice mild onion flavor. 
Cucumbers: Did you know you can grate cucumbers too? Try grating them in a cucumber yogurt salad.
Parsley: This nutrient packed herb is not just for a garnish! Many cultures across the world value parsley for its flavor, texture, and nutrients. Parsley has a fresh from the garden flavor that goes well with cucumbers and the nutty flavor of cous cous.  Try the tabouleh recipe for a great cold entrée or lunch.
Dill:  Cucumbers and dill! My oh my! What a wonderful combination.  Try sprinkling some fresh dill over a nice lettuce salad.  You can always hang it upside down and dry it for later.

Hello all,
        Maybe it’s not officially summer, but out in the vegetable field it sure feels like it.  The warm green days are beginning to blend together in our heads and it’s hard to keep straight one day from the next.  Did we weed that yesterday or three days ago?  When was the last time we checked on the tomatoes? 
        The defining characteristic of this week has been the water, rain here and there and everywhere. The pasture and vegetables have been enjoying the regular moisture.  The farmers, well, we just try to be happy for the plants.  We can try to shift our work a little bit to be in the barn or under cover during rain.  But usually we just have to do the same thing we would have done otherwise, only wetter. 
        This week-don’t ask which day, I’ve forgotten already-we had a record transplant day.  In only a 3 hours Marie, William, and a friend who has been helping weekly set out about 200 squash, 250 cucumbers, and 150 basil plants.  The squash and cucumbers you’ve been enjoying the last few weeks are from the first two successions of plants.  Like with the lettuce and other greens that we plant frequently to ensure a continuous harvest we plant multiple ages of squash and cucumbers through the summer.  A planting only has a peak harvest of 2-4 weeks depending on weather, insects, weeds, and nutrients in the soil.  So we plan to plant monthly up until August.  The August plants will be the last because they will start producing in September, a month before our October frost.  Any later plantings wouldn’t have a chance to produce before frost.
        Enjoy the harvest!

William and Marie              

Close up of curly kale growing in the garden.  Try the kale chips recipe in this previous post...http://bluebirdfarmcsa.blogspot.com/2012/05/week-1-of-lovely-vegetables.html

Cucumber yogurt salad
            Wash cucumbers well.  Finely slice, dice, or grate cucumber.  Mix with plain yogurt (greek style yogurts are particularly good for this recipe).  Add as much yogurt as you prefer.  This salad can range from being almost purely cucumbers with a yogurt dressing to a bowl of yogurt with some cucumbers in it.  Salt to taste.  For flavor try adding dill, crushed garlic, diced spring onion, parsley, or another of your favorite herbs. 

Fresh Cucumbers and Radishes in Dill Marinade
From The Fruit & Vegetable Stand by Barry Ballister, 2001.
Marie’s comments in italics.

½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 1 tablespoon crumble dried dill)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
¾ cup white wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
3 green unwaxed green cucumbers (Cucumbers from the store are often waxed.  Pesticides and fungicides may also be on the peel of conventional store cucumbers. Our cucumbers don’t have pesticide residue.)
4 radishes (don’t worry about them if they aren’t in season)

In deep bowl combine salt, pepper, dill, and garlic with vinegar and lemon juice.  Slice unpeeled cumbers and radishes. Mix with marinade. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.  Serves 4.

From Secrets of Healthy Middle Eastern Cuisine, Abourezk
Marie’s comments in italics
Go ahead and switch the recipe up a bit!  I recommend adding sweet peppers and cucumbers with feta cheese and basil. You can switch the ingredients based on what veggies are in season…in early June, you can use diced baby zucchini, cucumbers, and scallions… since there aren’t any tomatoes in season yet.

½ cup bulgur wheat (I’ve used cous cous before too)
½ cup water
4 cups finely chopped ripe tomatoes
½ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbs olive oil
2 large bunches parsley, about 5 cups finely chopped (1 large bunch is plenty! Chop parsley very fine- almost to a fluff)
1 cup chopped onions
1 tbl dried mint flakes

1.       Rinse the bulgur, drain and then add ½ cup of the water and let stand for 15 minutes.  Place the bulgur in a large mixing bowl, then add the tomatoes and lemon juice.  Chop the parsley (very fine-almost to a fluff).  Place on top of the bulgur and tomato mixture.  Add the onion, mint flakes, and the oil and mix thoroughly.
2.       Tabbouli can be prepared a couple hours ahead of time if you wish.  Simply leave out the oil and lemon juice dressing until you’re ready to serve.  Adding the dressing too soon makes the parsley wilt and creates too much liquid in the bottom of the salad bowl.
3.      In the Arab world, tabbouli is scooped up and eaten with lettuce leaves, rather than with silverware.  Putting each serving of tabbouli inside a lettuce or a cabbage leaf rather than displaying them in a flat dish is a very tempting presentation.  Or, for an elegant looking and tasting hors d’oeuvre, cut cherry tomatoes in half, remove the center, and fill them with tabbouli.

Creamy Baked Swiss Chard and Pasta
I don’t like to call anything “noodle casserole,” so I’m renaming this dish Creamy Baked Swiss Chard and Pasta.  You may omit the parsley if you wish. You can also cut back on the sour cream and cheese.  –Marie
VEGETABLE NOODLE CASSEROLE a.k.a Creamy Baked Swiss Chard and Pasta Printed from COOKS.COM

3 tbsp. olive oil
2/3 c. chopped walnuts
1 lg. onion, thinly sliced
2 lg. carrots, coarsely grated
1 lg. bunch Swiss Chard, chopped
1 clove minced garlic
1/3 c. minced parsley
1/2 tsp. thyme leaves
8 tsp. soy sauce
1 c. sour cream
3 c. pasta
2 c. grated Jack cheese
Heat oil in large frying pan and saute nuts until lightly browned. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, and then stir in onions and carrots.
Sauté until onion is translucent, and then remove from pan. Add chard, garlic, parsley and thyme and sauté until chard is limp.
Combine soy sauce and sour cream; add to chard mixture along with walnuts, onions and carrots.
Stir to mix well. Add salt to taste. Spread pasta in a lightly greased 2 quart casserole and spoon vegetable mixture over top.
Sprinkle with cheese and bake in 400°F oven for 15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and casserole is heated through.
Serves 6.

Check out this picture of tomato plants in the hoophouse from almost 2 weeks ago.  The plants are about 1 1/2 feet taller now!  We will have tomatoes in about a month or sooner.

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