CSA Newsletter: Week 6

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IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK

Broccoli // Store in the crisper drawer of the fridge. The colder the better for broccoli. Try to use within a few days.

Lettuce Mix (Large Shares Only) or Romaine (Small Shares Only) // Store loosely in a plastic bag (ideally) or in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Keep unused leaves on head. Use within a week, but may store for up to two weeks.

Collards (Large Shares Only) // Refrigerate in a plastic bag until ready to use. Do not wash before storing.

Lacinato Kale (Most Small Shares) // Lasts at least a week if kept moist. Kale doesn’t taste as good once it’s dried out. Keep it in the crisper drawer of your fridge or loosely in a plastic bag to seal in the moisture.

Rainbow Chard (Small Shares who do not receive Kale) // Do not wash chard before storage. Wrap in a plastic bag and try to remove most of the air from the bag. Store in the fridge and try to use within a few days.

Zucchini or Summer Squash // Zucchini and summer squash spoil most quickly in very warm or very cool temperatures. They can be stored in the crisper drawer of your fridge, but try to use within a week as they will get soggy quickly in there.

Cucumbers // Store in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Try to use within one week.

Green Bell Peppers // Refrigerate peppers, unwashed, in the vegetable drawer. Moisture makes them spoil faster so don’t store in a plastic bag.

Jalapenos // Hot peppers keep well in the fridge, especially in the crisper drawer. I often keep hot peppers in a plastic bag so that they don’t spread their heat or flavor to other fridge items.

Fennel // Remove delicate leaves (also known as fronds) before storage if you plan to use. Store the bulbs in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Store the leaves in a moist paper towel in the fridge and use within a week.

Scallions // Store in the veggie drawer of your refrigerator and try to use within a week. If you use after a week, you can peel off the dry and/or “slimy” outer layer of the scallion.

Parsley (Large Shares Only) or Chives (Small Shares Only) // Store in the fridge in a small glass with about an inch of water, stem side down (like flowers in a vase) for best storage.

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Things are heating up on the farm my friends-- in case you hadn’t already heard on any number of Wisconsin news outlets. Despite the couple short stretches of days in the high 90’s we’ve already experienced this season (which we moved through with relative ease), the weather has decided it wants us to handle a bit more sweltering this summer.

Heat indexes above 100 seem to be a new norm in these Southern Wisconsin summers so we’re learning to roll with it: drinking plenty of water, slathering on the sunblock, stocking up on popsicles and taking as many breaks as we need without guilt and without too much thought. We discover a different rhythm than our typically manic pace. We work an hour, find a space to cool down (usually the walk-in cooler), fill up our water bottles, and repeat for the remainder of the day.

Generally, the heat wave is harder on your farmers and their farm crew than it is on the crops. Nothing really loves temperatures this hot, but most of what we’ve got in the ground can certainly tolerate these excessive temperatures if they don’t last too long. The peas, broccoli and lettuce are the only things we expect to be negatively affected.

The snap peas, which I proudly announced at the party were the best we’ve ever grown and expected to last three or four weeks, are going to be over after their typical short two week run. Their seedpods turned woody and bitter last week when the temperatures were in the low 90s and they certainly won’t be making it through this hot spell ahead of us. It’s not altogether unexpected but it is a little disappointing. Deconstructing our massive pea trellis and prepping that ground for fall will be a big priority in the coming weeks.

As for the lettuce, those receiving romaine this week will notice the lettuce is a bit smaller than before. If we didn’t harvest the romaine yesterday, it would have certainly bolted during the impending heat wave. We actually wanted to give you a week off of lettuce finishing the spring treat next week instead but had to adjust when we saw the forecast. Earlier this spring, we had considered planting two more beds of lettuce for late July. The cool June made us hopeful that we could grow lettuce into the hot summer months but in the end, we wound up opting against it and Kyle and I are both so glad we didn’t spend any time getting those sixth and seventh plantings of lettuce into the ground. Even with heat tolerant varieties, there is pretty much no way lettuce can survive days as hot as Friday’s forecast.

The last planting of broccoli is perhaps the biggest wild card. Broccoli, like lettuce, tends to bolt and flower in excessively hot temps. The broccoli in your box this week matured at just the right time. It was by far our most successful broccoli planting this year—with abundant large heads, and beautiful tight flowers. The fourth and last planting of broccoli is just beginning to head which means it will have to mature during the tail end of this week. It’s likely the broccoli will become stressed making the heads small and the flowers a bit more loose. We’ll likely be giving broccoli to some (and hopefully all!) folks either way, but the main questions are how much and what quality.

The best part of this July hot spell we’ve been encountering is actually the accompanying dry spell. We’ve still been getting a pretty heavy rain each week of the month but that’s so much less than what we were dealing with before and it is actually quite welcome after such a long, wet May and June. Our crops have been handling the rain and moisture much better than we expected, but it’s clear they are ready for a respite. This dry-ish spell will do them well. Plus, once rain slows to once a week or less, the weeds finally become much more manageable.

So that’s where we are at. Despite the heat, your farmers and the crops are certainly thriving and it feels good to make it to this point in the season.

I hope you all stay cool and enjoy this week’s veggies!

-L&K

VEGGIE ID: Collards

Collards are the oldest known greens in the cabbage family, dating back to ancient times. Collard greens grow quickest in warm weather, but they can withstand the cold temperatures of late autumn and mild winters. They are similar to kale but a little more robust in texture (almost like a cabbage kale cross).

So what do I do with it?

I used to only braise collard greens (that’s a big thing in Southern cooking) and I never really loved that, so never really thought I enjoyed collard greens. But then one day, I cut them into small slices and put them into a salad raw and absolutely fell in love. I’m overdue for some collard green recipes on my blog (I have so many yummy ones tested!!) so for now I’ve included a kale recipe below that I often make with collards instead so regardless of whether you got kale or collards this week you should absolutely give it a try. The greens can also be steamed, added to soups, salads, stews, and other dishes.

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VEGGIE ID: FENNEL

Fennel is one of those vegetables that everyone thinks they don't like just because they don't know how to use it yet. I know because I was one of those people for a very long time. Fennel is a beautiful vegetable used in a lot of Italian cooking.  It's got a white bulb, green stalk and beautiful scented fronds at the top.  You can eat all of these things but most commonly folks eat the bulb or the fronds.

The bulb is pretty comparable to an onion (and can be used as such) but has a slightly anise (black licorice) flavor. I think this is why it gets such a bad wrap. Because people hate black licorice (I do too!). But anise is actually a flavor used in lots of common favorites like Italian sausage and pepperoni. When it's subtle it adds a lot to a dish. I know this is a less of a description of a vegetable and more of me begging you to try a vegetable, but I'm begging you people, try the fennel in one of the recipes below! You might be surprised! Also, here's an awesome article from a chef in Columbus, Ohio asking you to do the same :)

So how do I use it?

Because lots of people are stumped by fennel, there are lots of great tutorials online for how to cut it up. You will cut the bulb away from the stalks in an angle matching the shape of the fennel and then slice off the bottom where the fennel sat on the ground. Place the fennel flat on it's base and slice it in half lengthwise. From there you'll see a little core near the bottom of each half. It will look solid and triangular. Remove that and then get to chopping! This link will teach you how to slice, dice and shave it. I most often shave it because I love how delicate it is when added to any dish, but this is much easier with a mandolin than trying to do by hand. This link will teach you how to store and use every part of the vegetable.

What is the best way to prepare fennel?

Honestly, you can keep it so simple with fennel. You can shave it and throw it on pizza or in pasta. You can roughly chop it and throw it in a stew or braise. You can slice it and grill it (I'm so excited to try this over the weekend!). You can use a similar technique and roast it in the oven. You can shave it and toss it with some apple and lemon juice  for a quick salad. You can throw it in a quiche or a tart. You can really do a ton.

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IN YOUR BOX NEXT WEEK

You can expect 10-11 of these items in your box next week

Red Cabbage

Chard

Collards

Kale

Broccoli

Cucumber

Zucchini

Summer Squash

Beans

Bell Peppers or Italian Fryers

Shishito Peppers

Jalapenos

Fresh Onions

Garlic

Mint or Parsley

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KATHY'S RECIPE CORNER

Early on, Lauren's mom instilled in her a great love of cooking. She's always had a garden and knows what to do with abundant produce better than anyone. We hope you enjoy her classic Wisconsin preparations of summer abundance. 

Broccoli Biscuit Squares

1 pound ground beef

4-ounce can mushrooms, stems and pieces, drained

3 or 4 scallions, sliced

4 cup chopped broccoli

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

2 cups biscuit/baking mix (Bisquick or Jiffy type)

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

½ cup water

4 large eggs

½ cup milk

2 or 3 teaspoon diced chives or other fresh herb of choice

1 teaspoon salt

Dash pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 375⁰.  In a large skillet, cook the hamburger, mushroom, onion and broccoli until meat is cooked through and veggies are close to tender, season lightly. Drain, set aside.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine biscuit mix, ½ C. shredded cheddar, parmesan cheese and water. Stir until a soft dough forms. Knead a few times on floured board.

  3. Press dough into bottom and ½” up sides of a greased 9” X 13” pan. Stir remaining cheddar cheese into hamburger mixture, spread evenly over dough.

  4. In the same large bowl, beat eggs, milk, chives, salt and pepper. Pour evenly over meat mixture. 

  5. Bake, uncovered 25 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.

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box inspiration:

Every week I'll share the links to some of my favorite recipes for the produce in your box from my own blog as well as my favorite bloggers and chefs. I am a master recipe substituter so be sure to read my notes before clicking through to see what vegetables I am swapping for others and how I adapt favorite recipes time and time again with whatever is in season! Though some of the recipes I share may look complicated, I also love sharing tips for streamlining or suggesting other preparation suggestions in the notes of the recipes.

photo by: Bon Appetit

photo by: Bon Appetit

Green Goddess Cobb Salad // Uses Lettuce or Lettuce Mix, Fennel, Scallions, Chives and/or Parsley, use more Scallions on the salad instead of Red Onion, skip the other herbs in the Green Goddess or buy some bottled stuff // It’s the last of the lettuce for a while so it’s time to go big. It’s time to make this salad immediately. When you start to get a little sick of salad, the only logical answer is to pile it high with so many delicious things that you fall back in love with summer’s best treat. This salad is a real gem— and if you can’t find the guanciale, feel free to substitute bacon or prosciutto.

Gluten-Free

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Kale Peanut Salad with Peanut Dressing // Uses Kale (or substitute Collards), skip the carrots and red bell pepper and put in some Scallions, Cucumber and Green Pepper instead // This recipe is my all time favorite CSA salad recipe and honestly, I need to apologize that it took me this long to share it. Martha Stewart’s version uses kale, carrots and red peppers. My version uses pretty much whatever I have on hand. The dressing is the real gem and the rest can be swapped around.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Pasta & Fried Zucchini Salad // Uses Zucchini or Summer Squash, substitute Parsley or Chives for basil, feel free to add thinly sliced fennel or scallions // I know many people are intimidated by fresh herbs, but let me just remind you that pesto is a thing and that it can be made with pretty much any green thing. I’ve made chard pesto, arugula pesto, parsley pesto, chive pesto. And it’s always good. So try this decadent pasta with the pesto of your choice— store bought or homemade. You won’t regret it.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free (with the right pasta)

photo by: Brooklyn Supper

photo by: Brooklyn Supper

Lily’s Lemony Fennel, Radish, and Kale Salad // Uses Fennel, Kale (or substitute Collards), don’t worry about not having radishes or snap peas // I am forever loving salads that just feel like summer in a giant bowl. This is definitely one to bookmark!

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

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Broccoli Basil Quiche // Broccoli, Scallions, add Fennel and Jalapeno, sub Chives or Parsley for basil to make a different kind of pesto (or skip the pesto altogether and just add some fresh chopped herbs into the eggs!) // This recipe, featured in the Asparagus to Zucchini cookbook we sell, is a new favorite. I never thought of putting broccoli in quiche for some reason until I was asked to make this recipe for my friends at FairShare and discovered what a gem this recipe really is!

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free (with the right crust)

photo by: Bon Appetit

photo by: Bon Appetit

Quinoa Tabbouleh // Uses Cucumber, Parsley, Scallions, feel free to also add diced Jalapeno or Bell Pepper, skip the Mint // Even though we’re still a couple weeks out from cherry tomatoes, I’ll still be making tabouli with my cucumber, scallions and parsley this week. It is such a cool, delicious treat!

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

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Simple Salad // Lettuce Mix, Fennel, Scallions, Chives or Parsley if you like // I love fresh crunchy summer salads that have little more for ingredients than the produce in your box. Cooking with vegetables can be so much simpler than we think it is. This salad is a bed of greens topped with thinly sliced fennel, sliced scallion and cubed avocado alongside my favorite sweet dressing (Papaya Poppyseed from Annie's Organics). The citrus pairs perfectly with the fennel! You could also add some fresh herbs if you don't have another purpose for them.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

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Summer Squash Tuna Cassarole Melt // Summer Squash, Onion, Pepper // I'm not an especially big fan of tuna or tuna melts (or casseroles for that matter) so imagine my surprise when I found a recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks (Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden). I made it one night in a pinch when we had a ton of summer squash in our fridge and not much else and I was so pleasantly surprised that I've made it three times now. Hope you enjoy as much as we did!

photo by: Minimalist Baker

photo by: Minimalist Baker

Vegan Collard Green Burritos // Collards, sub Scallions for red onion, sub Parsley or Chives for cilantro & sprouts, add sauteed Green Pepper or raw diced Jalalpeno (and whatever else you feel like tossing in) // This recipe as its written is totally vegan with walnut meal and vegan cheese spread so if you are vegan, absolutely give it a try. But if you aren't ground beef with taco seasoning and your favorite shredded cheese would work just as well. The real lesson to learn here is that collard greens make amazing vegetable wraps. Our friends at the Good Food cart did it a couple weeks ago and we just love the way it looks and tastes! Blanche the collards first for the best flavor and texture.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free