Farm News (6/21/16)

Important Announcements & Reminders
  • This is a pickup week for members who are registered for weekly summer vegetable shares. 
  • Members who registered for every-other-week vegetables will pick up next week.
  • Next week we will also deliver meat, eggs and dairy to neighborhood pickup sites as well as to home delivery members.
  • Full fruit shares (weekly pickup) start the week of July 4th. Half fruit shares (biweekly pickup) start the week of July 11th.

This Week's Vegetable Share
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Head Lettuce
  • Baby Leeks
  • Fresh Dill
  • Leafy Asian Cabbage (Tokyo Bekana)
  • Rainbow Swiss Chard

Farm Journal
With most of the summer planting behind us, we turned our attention this week to weeding and watering. In veggie farmer parlance, those jobs are often referred to as cultivation and irrigation. Some crops get weeded by hand, in which case we call the job weeding, and other crops get weeded with a tractor. In the latter case we tend to call it cultivation. Ideally, all crops would be cultivated just prior to irrigation since there's not much sense in watering weeds.

This is a shot of a recently cultivated field of lettuce being irrigated with a traveling sprinkler system that we call 'the big gun'. It's a pretty neat tool that consists of a hose reel machine sitting at the end of the field that's attached to a water gun on wheels. The stationary part continuously reels in the gun until, after several hours, the big gun reaches the end of the field and shuts itself off. It's a pretty effective way to water a medium-size field, and it has the side benefit of creating nice rainbows when the conditions are right.

When we haven't been busy weeding and watering, we've been preoccupied with predator control this week. The arrival of our third batch of 500 broiler chicks (many of whom decided that Ruby must be their mother hen) happened to coincide with a rise in the number of coyote sightings at both farms. 

Jeff captured a photo of this hungry fellow at the Grayslake farm last week. In order to make sure we don't give him any reason to linger, we're double-checking the chargers on our electric fences, keeping our baby chicks secure in the brooder, and increasing our foot patrols at dusk.

And yesterday we added an extra layer of protection for our laying hens--a guard donkey! Donkeys are known to be terrific guard animals. Many donkeys, including our Daisy, will stamp, kick, snort and holler when approached by any type of canine. We're hoping her dislike of coyotes is as intense as we think it is. She's got 600 feathered friends counting on her!

Vegetable Notes: Making the Most of Your Farm Share

The garlic scape is the flower stalk of the garlic plant. In the photo below you can see the scape emerging from the center of the plant and making a graceful curl. 

We snap the scapes off at this stage in the plant's development so that the plant will spend the next several weeks putting all of its energy into making a nice, big bulb rather than a flower stalk. 

The delicious side benefit is that we get to eat the scapes! This week each member will receive a handful of scapes like the ones above. Chopped garlic scapes can be used in place of chopped garlic cloves in almost any dish. Another way to use garlic scapes is to cut them into 3-inch lengths and saute them lightly in olive oil. In terms of taste and texture, sauteed scapes are a lot like garlicky green beans. Store scapes in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

In more familiar vegetable territory, we dug the first carrots of the season yesterday.  Over the course of the season you'll receive plenty of carrots for which we'll provide lots of tasty recipes. The first carrots of the summer are pretty special, and we recommend enjoying them just as they are or gently braised with a little butter.

Baby leeks are just what they sound like-- the immature version of full-grown leeks. They can be braised, roasted, or sauteed. You'll want to trim and discard about half of the fibrous green tops, just like you would on a larger leek.

There are numerous types of Asian cabbage. The type in this week's share is called Tokyo Bekana. For those members who might be unfamiliar with Tokyo Bekana, it is the lettuce-like item in the box with frilly yellow-green leaves. Tokyo Bekana's mild cabbage flavor provides a nice contrast to the more familiar flavor of head lettuce. It can be used raw in salads and in much the same way as you would use Napa cabbage. Its succulent leaves and juicy, crunchy stems would also make a great addition to your favorite stir fry.

Tokyo Bekana Slaw
Serve this slaw alone or over cooked rice noodles. You could also use it as a filling for spring rolls, wrapped up with lettuce in rice paper wrappers.

1/2 bunch Tokyo bekana, shredded
1 kohlrabi or 2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Toss together Tokyo bekana and kohlrabi. Mix dressing ingredients in separate bowl, then pour over vegetables. Toss, then let marinate in refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.

Chicken Gyros with Yogurt-Dill Sauce
1 cup plain greek yogurt

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
1 garlic scape, minced
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 pound chicken breast meat, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 baby leeks, white parts thinly sliced
4 pita bread rounds, heated

Stir yogurt, 2 tablespoons dill, chopped garlic scapes and 1 teaspoon lemon juice in small bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped leeks; sauté 5 minutes. Add chicken to the pan and sprinkle with oregano, 1 teaspoon dill and salt and pepper. Toss to coat.  Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Stir until heated through.

Arrange pita rounds on plates. Top pita rounds with chicken mixture. Spoon some yogurt sauce over chicken. Serve, passing extra sauce separately.adapted from Bon Appetit, December 1997 
Low-Carb Zucchini "Noodles" with Swiss Chard & Garlic Scapes
2-3 medium zucchini
2 tablespoons butter
1-2 garlic scapes, minced
2 cups chopped Swiss chard
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Use a spiralizer to turn zucchini into "noodles" and set aside. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Melt the butter and add the chopped garlic scapes; cook for 1-2 minutes. Add in the zucchini noodles and chard. Gently toss and cook until chard is wilted, about 3-4 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the zucchini noodles or they will get soggy. Stir in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese and toss until zucchini noodles are coated in the parmesan cheese. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Remove from heat and serve.

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... carrots, zucchini, broccoli, fennel, oregano, lettuce and more!

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  • Margaret Sheaffer