Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Week 3: Buttercrunch lettuce and more!

Buttercrunch lettuce

~Please make sure to bring back your empty boxes so we can reuse them
~Veggie tips: 
·         Store your greens and head lettuce in plastic bags in your crisper drawer to keep them hydrated and fresh.  
·         Place herb stems in a little glass of water to keep them hydrated and fresh.
·         Remember to wash and swirl veggies in a bowl of cool water to clean the field dirt before eating.  
·         We like to store a washed head of lettuce in a salad spinner in the fresh for easy access to washed lettuce.
Swiss chard in the field

The new vegetable that all shares get this week is Swiss chard.  Chard comes in a rainbow of colors.  It’s leaves are more tender and delicate that other greens like collards and kale.  The patch of chard is about 30 feet by 100 feet big, but even with so many plants, it has taken a while to get enough leaves for all of the CSA members to have a bunch.
When you are ready to cook your chard, swirl the leaves in a large tub of cold water.  I usually let the leaves sit and soak in the water for a few minutes, and then give the leaves another swirl.  After the grit and sand has settled to the bottom of the tub, gently lift the leaves from the water.  More rounds of rinsing may be necessary.
~Currently, the Swish chard is very gritty from the ricocheting effects that the hard rains have had on us in the past weeks.  Make sure to rinse and soak the chard well.

Did anyone stay dry while picking up your vegetable box in Morganton last Wednesday? No one at Bluebird Farm stayed dry! We were all soaked little ducklings out here.  Between 4-8pm we receive about 4 inches of rain.  The driveway washed out in a few places where the ditch overflowed, but our vegetable field did not flood the way that it did with the big 24 hour rains a few weeks ago.
On Thursday morning, we had 5 people, all in rain boots, squishing through 3 inches of mud in the pathways of empty garden beds in our bottomland vegetable field at Silver Creek.  The bottomland (name used to describe flat land by a river or creek) is very sandy, so the raised beds had drained enough to slip 400 bell peppers, 400 cucumbers, and 400 squash plants into the ground!  Here comes summer veggie salads!
Speaking of summer vegetables, we do have a few baby squash fruits and many squash flowers in the vegetable field. Just a few more weeks til squash and zucchinis are ready to eat.
Okra helps Marie write the newsletter.
In your box
Arugula ~Mix into lettuce or enjoy it on its own.  Try an arugula salad with fresh dill and goat cheese.  Add something sweet like grated carrots to an arugula salad.  Add some sliced strawberries.  I love a sweet white balsamic vinegar with arugula.
Baby Lettuce mix- We grow a mix of different delicate and tender baby lettuce varieties.
        ~Add to sandwiches. Make a baby salad and hummus wrap.
Radishes, Baby “French Breakfast” This variety is easy to slice or grate. It is more mild than other types. (The radishes are a little spicier this week since the weather has warmed up.)
        ~Do you think radishes are spicy? Much of the spiciness is a volatile, aromatic flavor that will dissipate once you slice or grate the radish.  I make sure to dress the sliced or grated radishes with a bit of salt, olive oil, and sweet white balsamic vinegar and let them marinate for at least 5 minutes before serving.
-Head lettuce- Green or Red Buttercrunch (Small or Baby size) The best lettuce! Try using the leaves as a fun wrap for sandwiches or egg salad.
Dill- Adds a lively, fresh flavor to your creations.
~ Add to any potato dish, really.  Great with eggs: Add to lentils, greens/lettuce salads, egg salads, frittatas, fried egg sandwiches. Add to any salad. See a salad idea in the arugula section.
Cilantro- chopped cilantro over any Mexican or Brazilian fusion style meal.  We love cilantro with black beans and our chorizo sausage.
Curly Kale
Curly Kale
Kale chips, anyone? This variety of kale is the best for kale chips. Recipe below
Very good with canned diced tomatoes or add to spaghetti sauces.  I strip the leaves of their stems, dice about ½ of the stems, and chop the leaves into 1 inch pieces.  Saute the diced stems with onions in olive oil for about 4 minutes before adding the chopped leaves. You can add a few tablespoons of water or chicken broth and steam in the pan with a lid.      
         Swiss chard recipe below
Braised Swiss Chard with Asiago
This is a yummy Swiss Chard idea for quick and easy garden fresh cooking.    Try playing around with the favors however you may imagine it!
·         1 clove garlic, minced
·         1 medium onion, diced
·         1 bunch Swiss Chard, stems and leaves separated.
·         Lemon juice
·         Asiago, Parmesan, or Romano cheese
1.     Dice upper half of stems (you may also dice the entire length of the stem for stronger flavor).  Roughly chop the leaves into 1-2 inch pieces. 
2.    Sauté 1 clove garlic, 1 diced onion, and diced chard stems over medium low heat in 3 tablespoons olive oil for 5 minutes.
3.    Add ¼ cup of water and chopped chard leaves. Cover and lightly steam in the pan until the leaves are tender and still bright green, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4.    Uncover, add a dash of lemon juice.  Grate your aged cheese of choice and toss over your favorite carb like fettuccine, cous cous, quinoa etc…

Tip: Feel free to run wild with the flavors based on what is in season in the garden! Add some dice zucchini or summer squash,  more garlic, fresh oregano, and perhaps little cherry tomatoes cut in half. 

Swiss Chard with Sweet and Sour Ginger Sauce
From Farmer John’s Cookbook, The Real Dirt on Vegetables by Farmer John Peterson and Angelic Organics. Everyone who has a vegetable share should get this cookbook! This delightful book has plenty of sassy attitudes about growing and eating organic vegetables with love and dedication.  Sections include identification, storage, preparation, and recipes.  Here is one of the many great recipes…
“In this recipe, the natural salty tang of chard is intensified by cooking the chard in stock; the same stock is then used as a base for the wonderful sauce, thus ensuring that none of the precious nutrients from the leaves are lost.  For a unique touch, try adding a handful of raisins or currants to the boiling stock, allowing them to plump and soften for a minute or so before adding the chard; then cook, stain, and serve them right along with the greens.  Lisa, shareholder and recipe-tester, say she created a terrific variation on the recipe by substituting honey for brown sugar and balsamic vinegar and cooking sherry for white vinegar. Angelic Organics Kitchen.
Serves 4.
1 cup vegetable, chicken or beef stock or water
½ pound       chard, stems chopped, leaves torn into bite sized pieces
4                     scallions, thinly sliced, (about 1/3 cup) (you can substitute 1/3 cup finely diced and sautéed sweet onions)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tblsp          white vinegar
1 tblsp          light brown sugar           
1 tblsp          finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
1 teasp          red pepper flakes
1.     Bring stock or water to a boil in large skillet (not cast iron- turns chard an off color).  Add the chard and cook stirring until it is wilted, about 1 minute.
2.      Drain the chard, saving the cooking liquid. Transfer the chard to plate and garnish with scallions or sautéed sweet onions.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and cover to keep warm.
3.     Pour the reserved cooking liquid back into the skillet or pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until it is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 8 minutes.  Add the vinegar and brown sugar.  Stir in the ginger and red pepper flakes.  Boil for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and spoon the mixture over the chard. Serve immediately. 

Kale chips
1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
A drizzle of balsamic vinegar (about ½ tablespoon)
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (175 degrees C)
With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. (I like to use my hands to strip the leaves from the stem.)Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Place kale in a plastic bag. Drizzle kale with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with sea salt. Thoroughly massage the bag to mix the oil and vinegar into the leaves.
 Using several baking sheets spread the kale pieces out so that they are not touching; I use 3 or 4 sheets.  Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, about 7 to 12 minutes. Make sure to check the chips almost every minute after 7 minutes have passed.  Every oven is a little different…Adjust this recipe’s time to your oven!

Serve immediately!  Does not keep well, usually won't stay crisp.

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