“No price is set on the lavish summer/ June may be had by the poorest comer.”
― James Russell Lowell
The weather has finally turned, if not especially dry, into something June-like. Aside from today and Monday, the rain has mostly come in fierce summer thunderstorms and the days in between are hot enough that the ground gets a little workable. Those dry days are muggy, thickly hot and humid, but we are relishing them and trying to get caught up. The strawberry season, delicious though it is, was a short-lived one this year, and we’re not as sad to see it go as you all probably are. Two days a week, full of nothing but picking and picking, were making it hard to take advantage of the few dry days we’ve had. Now the forecasters are calling for clear skies and hot days on to the beginning of summer, so the farm crew will just keep on rolling, rolling, rolling along behind the transplanter, popping those seedlings into the ground. We’ve got to get this done! – the blueberries look to be coming in early this year. - Dave
Produce and Cooking Notes
Lettuce – More lettuce for your boxes – today we’ve got red leaf lettuce, green romaines, or reddish-green head lettuce.
Chard – The chard and kale are now the only survivors of the “early spring” plantings that brought radishes, arugula, and spinach to late winter and early summer shares. Everything else is tilled up and ready for a second round of crops.
Garlic Scapes – Garlic scapes are the flowering stalk of the garlic plant, pulled out so that the plant puts all of its energy into sizing up the bulb. They can be used like a scallion, or, with a bit of olive oil, make a delicious pesto ground up in a food processor.
Cucumbers – Cucumbers make a great and easy addition to salads and sandwiches, or don’t be afraid to quick-pickle small batches.
Zucchini – Zucchini season looks like it will be here for a while, but just to be sure we got a second generation planted yesterday afternoon.
Snap Peas – The snap peas are round, fat peas in cardboard tills (berry boxes) and vary a bit in quality depending on which planting they come from. Some are beautiful and green, enough to eat raw – while most could use a little cooking and a few sad pods might be better off shelled. They should all be tasty though.
Snow Peas – Today’s snow peas (the flat pea pods in plastic bags) are from the Hostetler’s, our Amish friends. They are spray- and pesticide-free but not certified organic. Snow peas are not as sweet as snap peas, but their crisp texture makes them just the right ingredient for any stir fry.
Radishes – Full shares are getting a bunch of radishes. They’re small but should still be a fun addition to a salad or snack bowl.
Cabbage or Spinach – Full shares are also getting a choice between a spring cabbage (from a fellow co-op member’s surplus, so they’re certified organic but not from our fields) or a bag of spinach from our planting. Odd weather makes for odd choices, I guess, but you can decide whether you want a springtime spinach salad or a summery cole slaw.
Cucumber Moons Sautéed with Fresh Dill – From Asparagus to Zucchini
• 2 large or 3 medium cucumbers
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 3 tablespoons chopped green onions
• 2 tablespoons fresh dill
• salt and pepper
Peel cucumbers with potato peeler and slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out all the seeds with a spoon. Slice about ¼ to 1/3 inch thick. Heat butter in large, heavy skillet over medium flame. Take care not to let the butter brown, but get it good and hot. Add cucumbers and onions and cook, tossing often, until cucumbers begin to get tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in dill plus salt and pepper to taste. Continue to toss and cook until crisp-tender, 1-2 minutes longer. Serve immediately. (Note: The cucumbers in this recipe could also be cut into “hoops”: use a long spoon to scoop the seed out of a peeled cucumber, then slice it into rounds.) Makes 4-6 servings.
Spicy No-Mayo Cole Slaw
From How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, or to taste
• 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar, or freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1 small clove garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh chile, like jalapeño, Thai, serrano, or habanero, or to taste (optional)
• 1/4 cup peanut oil or extra virgin olive oil
• 6 cups cored and shredded Napa, Savoy, green, and/or red cabbage
• 1 large red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced or shredded
• 1/3 cup chopped scallion, more or less
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1. To make the dressing, whisk together the mustard and vinegar in a small bowl, along with the garlic and chile. Add the oil a little at a time, whisking all the while.
2. Combine the cabbage, bell pepper, and scallion and toss with the dressing. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve. (It’s best to let the slaw rest for an hour or so to allow the flavors to mellow; the cabbage will also soften a bit and exude some juice. You can let it sit longer, up to 24 hours, if you like. Drain the slaw before continuing.) Just before serving, toss with the parsley.
Stir-fried Beef with Snow Peas
From The Pioneer Woman Cooks
• 1-1/2 pound Flank Steak, trimmed of fat and sliced very thin against the grain
• 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
• 3 Tbsp sherry or cooking sherry
• 2 Tbsp brown sugar
• 2 Tbsp cornstarch
• 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
• 8 ounces fresh snow peas, ends trimmed
• 5 whole scallions (or scapes), cut to ½”
• Salt as needed
• 3 Tbsp peanut or olive oil
• crushed red pepper, for sprinkling
In a bowl, mix together soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, cornstarch, and ginger. Add sliced meat to bowl and toss with hands. Set aside.
Heat oil in a heavy skillet (cast iron is best) or wok over high heat. Add snow peas and stir for 45 seconds. Remove to a separate plate. Set aside.
Allow pan to get very hot again. With tongs, add half the meat mixture, leaving most of the marinade still in the bowl. Add half the scallions. Spread out meat as you add it to pan, but do not stir for a good minute. (You want the meat to get as brown as possible in as short amount a time as possible.) Turn meat to the other side and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove to a clean plate.
Repeat with other half of meat, allowing pan to get very hot again first. After turning it, add the first plateful of meat, the rest of the marinade, and the snow peas. Stir over high heat for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Check seasonings and add salt only if it needs it. Mixture will thicken as it sits.
Serve immediately over rice. Sprinkle crushed red pepper over the top to give it some spice.
I'm rather reminded by the farm of how I imagine a bear would act upon coming out of hibernation. Yes, we haven't really been hibernating, I've felt busy all winter (except those 2 vacations within 3 weeks), but between the greenhouses, the shop, and the biweekly csa distributions, our days have felt quite full. But now it seems the farm is fully waking up, shaking off the sleepy winter calm, and heading out. Full of the same sense of urgency I think of a hungry bear roaming around for food. Instead though, we are out trying to beat the weather, scrounging not for hidden acorns or grubs, but spots of dry tillable land, a plastic bed perhaps made up in the fall, or the small herb beds that are workable by hand. Perhaps untrue of both the farm and the bear, but I imagine a bit of grogginess, a bit of uncoordination due to unuse, the need to learn or relearn for both the staff and the equipment. As a four-wheeler not used for months needs a bit of time to get reaquainted with the idea of shifting out of reverse. A parade of tractors rearranged in the machinery shed to access the plow last used months ago. A dash to plow, till, make raised beds, and seed, as decisions are made that indeed the soil is finally dry enough... today. not yesterday but today... unfortunately the snow/ rain/ crazy wintery (spring) mix is called for in a few hours...so out of hibernation into a sprint.
We try to prioritize- what will our members really want in a month or 2. The precious dry ground is fit for peas, both snap and shell, spinach, baby bok choi, mesclun mix, arugula, but beets and carrots still stored in the cooler will need to wait a week or 2. Its also a matter of what can take the crazy weather this spring is bringing and what transplants are ready to go out. Coming out of hibernation is a bit of balance. The energy is there, but tempered by a bit of winter's rust. Leaving the comfy confines of the greenhouses for the wide open skies over the spring mud is something we all have been looking forward to... but a few hours in the damp chill of a cloudy afternoon and I was ready for just a bit more time back in that warm hollow. With rain in the forecast, we most likely won't be abandoning the shelter of the packing shed, shop, and greenhouses, but when the sun returns (hopefully not with accompanying 20 degree nights), we'll be ready, having had a chance to stretch and encouraged by those first tastes of spring planting.