Farm News (8/11/15)


Important Reminders & Announcements:

  • This week we are delivering vegetables, fruit, eggs, and dairy.
  • This is a pickup week for full and half shares.
  • Next week's newsletter will contain information about tomato u-pick at the Grayslake farm. We will also be offering bulk quantities of pre-picked tomatoes for canning and freezing. Stay tuned for more info. 
The Vegetable Share:
  • Leeks
  • Bell Peppers
  • Cabbage
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Head Lettuce
  • Curly Kale
  • Watermelon or Cantaloupe
  • Romano Beans or Green Beans
  • Bok Choy

The Fruit Share:

  • Red Raspberries
  • 'Pristine' Apples
  • 'Red Haven' Peaches
The Dairy Share:
  • Lowfat Vanilla Yogurt from Sugar River Dairy
  • Feta and Colby Cheeses from Nordic Creamery
  • Cinnamon Sugar Butter from Nordic Creamery
Nordic Creamery
If you've ever wondered what the term 'farmstead butter' means, this picture gives you some idea. Al and Sarah Bekkum of Nordic Creamery make butter in this small but state-of-the-art building on their dairy farm in southwestern Wisconsin.

We work with Al and Sarah to bring you their butter because it's the best butter we've ever tasted. Nordic Creamery butter is made in small batches a couple of times a week and hand-packed to order so that it's as fresh as it can possibly be.

We also work with Al and Sarah because we believe strongly in the importance of agricultural diversity in rural areas. Value-added enterprises can play a vital role in making farming an attractive career option for the next generation. Making butter and cheese on their farm creates greater economic sustainability for the Bekkum family than simply producing milk. Sarah (pictured above) is hopeful that one day when her children are grown they will choose to join the family business. We hope so too!

Farm Photo Journal

This week's vegetable share contains an unusual amount of leafy greens for this time of year. These crops don't typically perform well in the heat of July and August, but this year's weather has been a little milder than most. The lettuce in your share was planted in July (see photo above), after which it received ample rain. Remember to put your lettuce (and your bok choy and kale) in a plastic bag before storing in the refrigerator. This will keep the greens nice and crisp.

We've been eating melons on the farm for several weeks now. Every day or two since late July, we've picked and eaten a melon from each of the varieties to help gauge how quickly they are maturing. It's not always easy to tell when a melon is perfectly ripe, so we have to do quite a bit of taste testing. (Funny how our kids are so eager to help with this particular farm chore!)  This is finally the week when we've got enough ripe melons to include them in the CSA share. We planted about a dozen different types of melons all together, and we will continue to harvest for at least a month. This week members will receive either a cantaloupe or a watermelon. Our watermelons come in 3 different colors--red, yellow and orange--so some of you will be in for a fun surprise!

This Week's Featured Recipes 

Watermelon & Cucumber Salad
3 cups peeled and cubed (1/2 inch) cucumber
3 cups cubed (1/2 inch) watermelon
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Coarse salt and ground pepper

In a large bowl, toss cucumber and watermelon with lime juice, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Serve immediately.

Romano Beans* with Leeks & Fresh Tomatoes
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, white & light green parts thinly sliced 
1/2 lb  fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 small dried red chili (optional) 
1 lb romano beans or green beans, ends trimmed 
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 

In a saucepan large enough to hold the beans, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the leek and cook, stirring, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and chili, increase the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes reduce slightly, about 10 minutes. 

Stir in the beans and season with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Add 2 tablespoons hot water, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the beans are very tender. Check frequently and add a few tablespoons of additional hot water if the sauce looks dry. Transfer the beans to a serving dish and serve immediately.

*Romano beans are similar to traditional green beans except that they have a wider, flatter pod. They can be cooked the same way as traditional green beans, but they will take a little longer.

Kale, Tomato & Feta Salad
1 bunch kale
1 small lemon, juiced
4 -5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
pinch course salt
ground black pepper to taste
1⁄2 small onion, slivered
1 ripe avocado, diced
2 small, or one large, ripe tomato
1⁄2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Optional: ¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, or walnuts
Strip the kale from its tough center stem, slice crosswise into narrow, ribbon-y strips, and place it in a medium bowl. Add the onion, avocado, and tomato.

Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, and salt. Add a generous grind of coarse black pepper. Pour ½ of the vinaigrette over the vegetables and toss well to coat. Eyeball the salad and add more vinaigrette as needed. Sprinkle with the feta cheese, and top with the optional toasted seeds or nuts if using.


Sesame-Braised Cabbage with Leeks
1 tablespoon butter
4 cups sliced leeks (whites and light green parts)
¼ teaspoon salt 
4 cups cut green cabbage (1-inch "squares")
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
sesame oil
toasted sesame seeds

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until very tender. Add the cabbage and stir to combine. Add 2 tablespoons water, cover, reduce the heat at low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender, about 20 minutes.

Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and a pinch more salt if needed. Server hot or warm, drizzled with a tiny bit of dark sesame oil and topped with a generous sprinkling of lightly toasted sesame seeds.

from Mollie Katzens' The Vegetable Dishes that I Can't Live Without

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)...carrots, cilantro, nectarines, blueberries, potatoes, red onions, eggplant, beans, tomatoes, parsley and melons.

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  • Margaret Sheaffer