Welcome to our 4th CSA season! Let’s start with introductions. I’m Stacey; farmer, wife, mother and in charge of writing this portion of the newsletter. I also am usually who you will get if you send us an email or find us at the Farmers’ market. Tenzin, my husband, is the cooking extraordinaire, builder, fixer, farmer, father. He is the guy who cooks us all lunch every day and writes the recipes and tips portion of the newletter. We have two young daughters, Leona (5) and Iris (2.75). They are in charge of making sure we eat dinner at a reasonable time, looking adorable amongst the vegetables and farm animals, and general silliness.
We also have two employees, Aaron Griner and Haley Houghton. Haley is a local to Wausau and has been a worker share on our farm since the beginning. Her experience in the restaurant and catering industry adds a great perspective to our food production and her energy is contagious.
Aaron comes from a long background in farming beginning on his family’s farm in Georgia. He has managed farms on smaller scales in the Peace Corps in Togo and Washington D.C. We have been enjoying introducing him to fish fry, brandy old fashions, custard ice cream, absolute crazy weather, and the Packers. We feel so lucky to have both of them!
This spring had really been something else. Remember that snow storm in April? And the 90 degree week in May? It’s keeping us on our toes but the crops are looking great. We’ve had a few hiccups with tractors breaking down and our well filling in on us but we are finding our way with the help of friends and neighbors.
We are looking forward to another great CSA season!
Red Butterhead lettuce
Head Lettuce – These beauties are fresh and tender, with a pleasant crispness. Great for salads, sandwiches, wraps and for adding bulk to a pasta or bean salad. Try it with the Maple dressing recipe for last year’s newsletter (see way below). Stores well in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer. Peel off and eat the outer leaves first. (Sometimes the outer leaves close to the base can have a bitter flavor.)
Kohlrabi – earlier than normal, this is juicy and sweet. Best eaten raw, or with just a touch of heat to preserve the crunch. It’s a favorite snack around here, just peeled and sliced horizontally into thin crunchy half-rounds. Sometimes plain, or with salt and lemon juice, we serve it as a side or a snack. Makes a great substitution for water chestnuts in a stir fry, just don’t cook very long or they lose their crunch! The leaves are great too, and very good for you. Treat like kale/broccoli leaf/collard greens. Chop and mix into scrambled egg dishes or stir fry. Cut across the grain and add to soups for green noodley ribbons. Stores well off the leaves in the crisper.
Fresh Cilantro – Cilantro is a wonderful fresh herb, and this is about as fresh as you’ll find it, unless you grow it yourself or come out to the farm. Stores best in a small vase of water in the fridge, I use a coffee mug. Fresher is better, so don’t wait. You can just chop some up and sprinkle on top of almost any dish. Goes well with potatoes, eggs, rice and pasta dishes. Not just for Mexican dishes either, Peruvian and Asian cuisines showcase it as well. Top a salad or stir fry with fresh Cilantro and a soy-sauce and ginger dressing/sauce. Also great for an Asian-style slaw.
Beets – Fresh and rich. Beets are one of the first hearty roots we can grow. They nicely offset a greens-heavy spring, they also make a great addition to a fresh green salad. You can roast or boil the beets whole, then allow them to cool (dunk them in cold water if boiling) then “slip” the skins. Basically, just rub them off with your hands as soon as they are cool enough. I’ve done it with a rubberized hot mitt too, in a hurry. Then slice them to the size you like wedges, cubes, or half moons. Take these aside and season with a favorite dressing or vinaigrette. Allow them to marinade until everything else is ready and then add them on top of a salad or into a stir-fry. Otherwise just eat them as their own salad, or add blue cheese or feta! Use the beet greens as well. They can be used in place of swiss chard for any recipe. They are a hearty green that is best with a little heat, steam or sautee them before adding to eggs or pasta dishes. They can be chopped, steamed and frozen for winter, when we want the extra greens so much. Separate greens and store them in a bag separate from the bulbs, which will store a long time in a bag in the crisper drawer.
Flowering Chives – We love these colorful treats. They’ll store for a while in a bag in the fridge, but fresh is best. Chop the stems finely and add just before removing from heat. Chop the tops finely and wait to add as a garnish on the plate. Makes a great dip by stirring chopped chives into cream cheese, sour cream, or greek yogurt with a little salt. Mix thoroughly, then add the chopped blossoms on top to make a showy presentation.
Zucchini! – We are so pleased these were ready for our first box. Fresh zucchini is great lightly sautéed or even marinated raw. We often cut them into wedges and coat in a favorite salad dressing for an hour or two before eating as a snack or a side. Great for dipping too! Stores well in the fridge for a few days.
Bok choy – is super healthy for you, but also fun and easy to prepare. Chop it across the grain (finely for salad, or more coarsely for stir-fry). Grilled Bok-choy has become a personal favorite of mine. Halve or quarter the long way and coat with olive oil and salt/pepper. Then lay it directly on the grill (or under the broiler or in a hot skillet) over medium high heat until just lightly charred.
Don’t over – do it, leave some of that fresh crunch (or “tender-crisp”). Stores well in a bag in the fridge.
Maple Syrup – How sweet it is! So easy to use, it almost goes without saying. But here’s some of our favorites: as a sweetener for coffee, oatmeal or anything else, on top of vanilla ice cream, as a glaze for roasted veggies, and in an Apple Cider Vinaigrette. Refrigeration is not necessary, but if you don’t use it often refrigerating after opening can help to keep a harmless (but unsightly) mold from forming on the top.
Pearled Barley Salad with Garden Veggies
– 2-3 baseball sized beets (or carrots or substitute prepared beans)
– ½ head bok choy (or broccoli, cauliflower, or celery—with some greens)
– 1 fresh zucchini (or cucumber or kholrhabi)
– ¼ cup chopped fresh chives or scallions
– ½ lb pearled barley
– 2 ½ cups chicken or veggies stock
– ½ cup of your favorite dressing or see Maple Vinaigrette (from last years newsletter) below.
– ¼ cup fresh cilantro (or mint, dill, parsle, basil, etc.)
– ½ cup crumbled blue or feta cheese or crumbled crispy bacon (optional, but delicious)
Roast or boil beets, then slip the skins (peel them once they’ve cooled) chop into quarter rounds ¼” thick. Set aside with enough dressing to coat, and let marinade.
Slice remaining veggies finely across the grain (bok choy for example) including some of the greens. Toss with dressing and allow to marinade. Include chives or scallions, but keep separate from Beets for prettiest results. (reserve chopped chive blossoms for final garnish, because they’re so pretty!)
Meanwhile, cook barley in chicken stock for about 25 mins, or until tender. Remove to cool.
Toss Barley and beets together first with any remaining dressing. Then add marinated veggies, herbs, and cheese. Toss lightly, then top off with chive blossoms or lemon wedges.
Serve slightly above or below room temp (can refrigerate until needed, remove 30 mins ahead of serving).
Apple Cider Vinaigrette:
This simple recipe makes enough to coat one huge head of lettuce (just in case you were wondering. But it is easy to scale up for many uses. Store extra in a mason jar with a lid so it’s ready for quick use anytime.
*I like my dressings and marinades pretty tart, but feel free to reduce the vinegar to ¼ cup for a milder version.
-1/3 cup good Cider Vinegar (non-distilled is best, I use Bragg’s)
-1/3 cup good oil (olive is my go-to, but sunflower oil is really nice too and produced here locally).
-4 Tbsp Real Maple Syrup- don’t you dare cheat
-1 Tbsp mustard, or 2 Tbsp chopped chives
-1 tsp. salt
-(feel free to add different herbs and spices, I love it with oregano and black pepper, or with soy sauce and miso!)
-add all ingredients to a lidded jar and shake thoroughly. Reshake prior to each use. Works great to marinade mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, cooked beets, kohlrabi, bok choy, and as a salad dressing.
To make “creamy” add an egg and puree. This will help to reduce settling out between oil and vinegar.
To thicken add all ingredients except oil and add an egg yolk. Puree then begin to add oil very slowly while mixing until it thickens.