Farm News (5/11/2015)


Important Reminders & Announcements:

  • This week we are delivering vegetables. Next week we'll deliver vegetables, eggs and dairy.
  • There will be an organic plant sale at Prairie Crossing in Grayslake this Saturday, the 16th. Learn more here.
  • We need your help to spread the word about our summer CSA shares. We've planned for a 10% increase in the size of our membership this year in order to keep farm finances on the right track. If you're a Sandhill fan, please consider sharing something about the farm on Facebook or other social media. Thank you! --Matt, Peg, Jeff & Jen

This Week's Vegetable Share:
  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce Heads
  • Bok Choy
  • Garlic Chives
  • Mushrooms from River Valley Ranch, Burlington, WI
  • Parsnips from Harmony Valley Farm, Viroqua, WI

Farm Photo Journal

Well, it's certainly been a wet weekend. So wet, in fact, that we would probably be feeling a bit cranky right now if it weren't for the satisfaction of knowing that we got so much planting done last week. Our Grayslake crew worked on planting cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, lettuce, leeks, parsley and spinach. They made sure everything was finished by Friday evening before heading home for a well-deserved weekend rest. 

This morning the crew grabbed their raincoats and mud boots and headed out to the asparagus fields. Along with the orioles and the indigo buntings, asparagus started showing up on the farm for the first time last week. Our first asparagus harvest late in the week yielded a modest amount of the much-anticipated spring delicacy. We expect increasingly bigger harvests starting this week and continuing through early June.

 Asparagus isn't the only crop that's begun to respond to increased warmth and moisture. Our pasture grasses are really beginning to take off. We like to wait until grasses and legumes are about 6 inches high before turning our flock of sheep out to graze.


(Interesting side note: The ewe pictured above is one of the last of the flock to shed her winter coat this spring. The St. Croix breed is a hair sheep, which means they grow a hair coat instead of wool. The coat grows thick and warm in the winter and then is shed out in the spring.)


Avery's ducks and goslings, which he plans to show at the county fair, had their first taste of green grass last week. After spending their first four weeks of life in the barn, these little guys are in heaven!

In the Farm Kitchen: Tips for Making the Most of Your Share
Spinach is a very cold-hardy crop. We plant spinach at various time of the year, including late fall. Spinach planted in the late fall will develop strong roots and then go dormant through the cold winter. When spring comes, the plant begins to grow again and we are able to harvest the leaves. In contrast to the delicate leaves of spring-sown spinach, these leaves are thick, deeply creased and super-sweet. Overwintered spinach is the ultimate type of cooking spinach (as opposed to salad spinach) because it really stands up to the heat of cooking.


Bok Choy is mild, sweet and crunchy. Like many members of the cabbage family, it grows best in the cool temperatures of spring and fall. Nutritionally speaking, bok choy is loaded with vitamins. When cooking with bok choy, use the entire plant, both green leaves and white stems. It's also fantastic eaten raw. The mild, crunchy stalks are a particularly welcome addition to salads dressed with Asian-inspired dressings.

Parsnips are closely related to carrots. In fact, they sort of look like big white carrots. Although they can be eaten raw, their fibrous texture means that they are  definitely best when cooked. They are sweet and nutty and are particularly well suited to roasting and mashing. You can even use them in place of carrots in sweet baked goods like carrot cake and muffins.


Baked Parsnip Fries with Rosemary
Bon Appétit, March 2012     

2 1/2 pounds parsnips or carrots, peeled, cut into about 3 x 1/2" strips
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon (or more) ground cumin

Preheat oven to 450°F. Mix parsnips, chopped rosemary, garlic, and oil on a large rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread out in a single layer. Scatter rosemary sprigs over.
Roast for 10 minutes; turn parsnips and roast until parsnips are tender and browned in spots, 10-15 minutes longer. Crumble leaves from rosemary sprigs over; discard stems and toss to coat. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon cumin over. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more cumin, if desired.
Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup with Spinach & Garlic Chives
Gourmet,  February 1997     

a 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken
8 thin slices fresh gingerroot
1 bunch scallions, cut crosswise into thirds
10 cups water
3/4 cup Chinese rice wine or medium-dry Sherry
2 ounces dried rice-stick noodles (rice vermicelli)
1/2 pound spinach, washed and chopped coarse (about 4 packed cups)
3/4 cup thinly sliced fresh garlic chives

With a cleaver or heavy chef's knife cut chicken into large pieces. Cut chicken through bones into 2-inch pieces. In a large kettle of boiling water blanch chicken 1 minute. In a colander drain chicken and rinse under cold water.

With flat side of cleaver or knife lightly smash gingerroot and scallions. In cleaned kettle bring 10 cups water to a boil with chicken, gingerroot, scallions, rice wine or Sherry and simmer, uncovered, skimming froth occasionally, 2 hours. Pour broth through colander lined with triple thickness of cheesecloth into a large heatproof bowl, reserving chicken for another use. Broth may be made 3 days ahead, cooled completely, uncovered, and chilled, covered.

In cleaned kettle bring broth to a boil. Add noodles and boil, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Stir in spinach and simmer, stirring once or twice, until spinach turns bright green and is just tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in chives and salt and pepper to taste and simmer 1 minute.

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess) chard, radishes, head lettuce, asparagus, spinach, baby turnips, herbs and more...

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  • Margaret Sheaffer