Sinking into summer schedules
When I was a kid sometimes I wouldn’t know what to do with myself in the early days of summer. The first few days I had big plans, the fourth or fifth maybe would be marked by luxurious laziness and spent doing nothing at all, but by the second week of summer vacation time stretched out in front of me and there seemed no way to fill it all up. The farm crew lately has the opposite problem – the coming of the summer CSA has sprung up on us and planning, harvesting, and packing boxes has gone from one chore among many in our biweekly winter schedule to a constant, daily task. Tuesday deliveries come and go, we eat dinner at 9 and fall asleep exhausted, and wake up on Wednesday needing to plan out Friday’s distribution. And for CSA members, too, who have gotten used to grocery-store cooking during March and April’s lean times, the first few boxes can be miraculous, the third and fourth exciting, but when the fifth and sixth come and you still have a leftover bok choy from the second week you start to realize: vegetables can be demanding, as well as delicious. Just remember, almost anything can go into a stir-fry, and both farmers and eaters shouldn’t be afraid to experiment. I'm relearning that myself this year since, after four years living on the farm, I've moved to a new home - and so instead of having access to the infinite (if bug-ridden) grocery store that is our seconds cooler, I'm actually taking home a regular weekly CSA box. Now I'm the one eating some items on the ride home, cooking others that night or the next, and then staring in the fridge five days later wondering why we haven't been eating more salad. So while the farm crew gets our bodies used to the daily rhythms of harvesting, weeding, planting, trellising, seeding, and mulching all day long, hopefully all of you (and me) can get our families used to cooking straight from the farm every week once again. Thanks to wet weather a month back, I can already tell you that salad will play a big part in this week's menus.
Asparagus – Asparagus production is in full swing so hopefully it can stand up to providing you a weekly bounty. We took a chance on it on Sunday – lightly tilling the beds to cut down weeds without harming the crowns deep underground. But it loves hot humid days and drenching showers, so it should spring rightr back.
Carrots – Full shares are getting the last of our sweet overwintered carrots – a perfect mid-afternoon snack or salad fixing.
Kale– Kale is a mild broccoli-flavored green that cooks down into a delicious side dish. Like arugula, it has a bit of a snooty food snob reputation to it, but it’s really a super-simple peasant food – chop it up, sauté it in a little bit of oil and liquid, maybe add some salt, pepper, and garlic, and you’re done.
Endive – This bitter green needs a little bit of cooking to really be delicious on its own, although if you mix it with lettuce it’ll be good raw too. See the classic bacon dressing recipe on the back for one idea.
Herbs – Spring is high time for herbs and while we usually think of them as a supplement, when they come in abundance they can really hold a dish together all on their own. Spaghetti dressed with a little olive oil, a dash of vinegar, and lots of chopped herbs makes a delicious ten-minute meal.
Lettuce Heads – There are a couple different lettuces you might get today – the falsely-named Magenta (more of a reddish green), the bright red Oscarde, or the lime-green Simpson.
Rhubarb – Rhubarb season is winding to a close, so if you haven’t used last week’s yet, combine it with this portion and make up a couple pies or three. Or check out farm intern Meghan’s discovery: a website positively obsessed with rhubarb – www.rhubarbinfo.com – where there are hundreds of interesting and novel rhubarb recipes, including chutneys, stews, snack bars, beverages, and the curry recipe below.