Thursday, May 21, 2015

Vegetable Feature: Rhubarb & Parsnips

Parsnip & Ginger Meatballs with Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce
by Andrea Yoder
Yield:  12-14 Meatballs

1 Tbsp sunflower oil
½ cup minced green onion (bulb & green tops)
⅓ cup minced green garlic (bulb & green tops
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
½ cup finely shredded parsnips
1# ground pork
1 egg, beaten slightly
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce (see recipe below)

Heat oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat.  When the pan is hot, add the green onion, green garlic & ginger.  Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and fragrant.  Remove from heat and stir in the shredded parsnips.  Set aside to cool to lukewarm.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine ground pork, egg, Worcestershire sauce, salt and black pepper.  Add the cooled vegetable mixture and mix to distribute all the ingredients evenly.
Form the mixture into meatballs approximately 1 ½ inches in diameter.  You should be able to make 12 to 14 meatballs.
Place the meatballs in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes at 375°F. Remove from the oven and transfer the meatballs to an 8 x 8 inch pan or another smaller baking dish that will fit the meatballs in a single layer.  Pour the rhubarb sauce over the top of the meatballs and make sure all the meat is covered.  Put the meatballs back in the oven and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and has more of a baked appearance.  Remove from the oven and serve warm.

Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce
1 lb rhubarb, approximately 3 cups diced
⅔  cup orange juice
2-3 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp soy sauce
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium sauté pan.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat.  Simmer until the rhubarb is soft and falling apart and the liquid has reduced by about half.
Remove from heat and blend the sauce in a food processor or blender.  The sauce should be the consistency of applesauce.  If it is too thin, return the sauce to the pan and simmer over low heat until the sauce thickens.  If the sauce is too thick, thin it out with a little bit of orange juice or water.
Set aside at room temperature until you are ready to add it to the meatballs.

Parsnip Pie
Yield:  9-inch pie
1- 9-inch pie crust, unbaked
2# parsnips, peeled & diced (approximately 6 cups)
½ cup water
2 Tbsp butter, softened
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp honey 
2 Tbsp orange zest
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp mace
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp powdered cloves
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Put the parsnips and water in a medium saucepan, cover and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Cook the parsnips until soft & tender.  Remove from the heat and pour off the cooking liquid into a separate bowl.  Reserve the liquid.  Let the parsnips cool to lukewarm in the pan for about 10 minutes.
While the parsnips are cooking, preheat the oven to 425°F.  Prick the bottom of the pastry dough all over and bake for 5 minutes.  Remove the crust from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 375°F.   
When the parsnips are cooled, puree them in a food processor until smooth.  The puree should be thick, but you can add a little bit of the cooking liquid if needed to obtain a smooth consistency.  You should have 3 cups of parsnip puree for the filling.  
In a medium mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of parsnip puree with the remaining ingredients.  Beat all the other ingredients together until smooth, reserving the 2 additional tablespoons of honey.  Pour the parsnip filling into the partially baked shell and drizzle the remaining honey over the top.  Bake 50-60 minutes or until the filling is firm in the center.  
Serve with a pitcher of heavy cream or a bowl of lightly whipped cream after the pie has cooled to room temperature.                                                                          

One of our faithful farmer’s market customers shared this recipe with us this spring.   This recipe was adapted from The Fannie Farmer Baking Cookbook by Marion Cunningham.  If you have been stockpiling parsnips, this is a good way to put them to use!

Parsnips & Rhubarb: The Odd Couple

by Andrea Yoder

This week we’d like to feature two very different vegetables that are part of our early spring boxes.  While parsnips and rhubarb are an unlikely match, they actually have a lot more in common than we may realize and complement each other quite nicely.  Which one is for the pie?  Good question, and perhaps the answer is “Both of them!” Rhubarb is not just for pies and parsnips are not just for roasting.  In this week’s newsletter we hope to challenge you to explore some different ways for preparing both of these vegetables beyond their most common and popular uses.
Rhubarb is an interesting vegetable that is often thought of as a fruit.  It is a perennial crop that grows from gnarly looking crowns.  It thrives well in cold climates, and is thought to have originated in Asia in the areas of present-day China, Russia and Mongolia.  It was originally used for the medicinal properties found in the roots, which have also been used to make bitters.  It was also consumed for its detoxifying properties.   Rhubarb has a tart, sour flavor that will certainly make you pucker.  It was for this reason that rhubarb didn’t gain much popularity until sugar became more readily available and it was used to balance the tartness.  It is now commonly used for making pies and over time rhubarb has become known as “The Pie Plant.” It takes about three years to establish a rhubarb plant.  In those first three years you are discouraged from harvesting any rhubarb so that there is more plant to gather and generate energy to put towards developing the crown.  There are different varieties of rhubarb ranging from all green to deep red.  We grow a variety that produces beautiful bright red stalks.
Rhubarb is typically cooked before it is eaten.  When cooked in a small amount of liquid, the rhubarb stalks will melt into the cooking liquid and the fiber and weight of the plant will act as a thickener.   While rhubarb pie is one of my favorite spring desserts, there is a lot more potential for rhubarb that goes beyond pie.  It pairs well with lemons, oranges, honey, strawberries, lavender, apples, and warm spices such as cinnamon, allspice, ginger and cardamom.  Because of its tartness, rhubarb pairs well with rich, fatty foods such as duck, poultry, pork and some creamy, sharp cheese varities.  You can use rhubarb as the base for tart dipping sauces, chutney, barbecue sauce, stir-frys and stir-fry sauces.  It adds a nice tartness and background flavor to braising or cooking liquids for things such as pork shoulder or ham.   It is also good in other sweet preparations such as Mexican Rhubarb Chocolate Chunk Brownies (featured on the Food Network), cakes, cookies, muffins, pancakes, etc.  Rhubarb is also a fun ingredient to include in drinks.  We have a recipe on our website in our recipe archives for rhubarb syrup that can be added to sparkling water or cocktails.  Rhubarb is also super easy to preserve.  Just wash it, dice it and stick it in a freezer bag in the freezer.  When you’re ready to use it, just remove it from the freezer and thaw it prior to use.
Parsnips are much different from rhubarb in appearance and flavor.  Parsnips have a distinct flavor that some people love and others are still learning to appreciate.  They are a very challenging crop to grow and have a long growing season.  We plant the seeds early in the spring when the soil is still cold.  It can take as long as two to three weeks for the seeds to germinate and push through the soil.  Unfortunately the weeds never have a problem growing, which is one of the challenges we have over the course of their long season.  We invest a lot of time cultivating and hand weeding our parsnip crop so we can have a healthy crop to harvest in the fall.  We start harvesting parsnips late in September or the first part of October.  While we harvest the majority of our crop in the fall, we also leave a small amount in the ground every fall.  How crazy are we to leave a high dollar crop in the field to get buried under snow!  Parsnips are amazing and can survive in the frozen ground over the winter.  We dig them early in the spring as soon as the ground thaws and dries out.
Overwintered parsnips are much sweeter than our fall-harvested parsnips.  Over the course of the winter starches are converted to sugars and sometimes they’re so sweet they taste like candy.  So what does one do with a parsnip?  One of the easiest things to do is slice them up and sauté them in butter or toss them with olive oil and roast them until they are golden brown.  But if you’re still learning to appreciate the flavor of parsnips, you might find their flavor a bit too parsnip-y for your liking.  There are many other things you can do with a parsnip.  Small amounts added to soups and stews add a nice background flavor.  Farmer Richard likes to add parsnips to his signature pot of split pea soup.  In this week’s featured recipe for parsnip-ginger meatballs, the parsnips add moisture to the meat and their sweetness balances the tartness of the rhubarb barbecue sauce.  You can also try to maximize their characteristic sweetness and use them in sweet preparations such as muffins, cakes, and even pie!  While a parsnip is not just a “white carrot,” you can substitute parsnips for carrots in baked goods such as carrot cake, cookies or muffins.  They add not only sweetness, but moisture to baked goods.  The sweet, earthy flavor of parsnips pairs well with maple syrup, Dijon mustard, apples, oranges, onions, parsley, chives, raisins, ginger and warm spices such as coriander, cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Parsnips are more common in Europe, but are gaining popularity in the U.S.  In the Middle Ages parsnips were a staple vegetable in Central and Northern Europe because they could be used as a starch and a sweetener.  In the 19th century, the English & Irish folks used parsnips to make a wine which turned out similar to sweet Madeira.  They even made parsnip beer in Northern Ireland!
 Both parsnips and rhubarb have an important place in our Midwestern spring diets.  I never really considered using them together in the same dish until I stopped and thought about their similarities and differences.  They both pair well with some of the same ingredients such as spices and fruit.  While one is tart and the other is sweet, their differences balance each other out.  I hope you’ll try some different ways of preparing these vegetables this spring and if you stumble upon an unusual recipe or way to prepare this odd couple, let us know so we can try it as well!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Spring Farm Update!

By Farmer Richard and his sidekicks Andrea & Captain Jack the Dog

Spring is different every year and as we write this update temperature is on our minds.  We were happy to see the snow melt away towards the end of March…..and then woke up to a winter wonderland on March 23!  Once the snow melted again and things dried out, we were able to dig overwintered parsnips and sunchokes….just before it rained!  After some rainy, cold days, we were thankful for warm days in April which allowed us to get some field work done.  We planted all the parsnips as well as the first beets, carrots & peas.  The transplanting team worked hard to plant all the onions and then moved right into transplanting the first crop of head lettuce, fennel, basil, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kohlrabi.  They also managed to get the parsley and Brussels sprouts in the ground!  Thankfully everything was in place before the next wave of rain.  This past week has been cool and wet.  In fact, it’s downright chilly today and there is a chance of frost!  Don’t worry….the crew covered the strawberries yesterday to protect the blossoms so there should be plenty of strawberries to pick on June 21 at Strawberry Day!  (Mark your calendars!)

Weather talk aside, we’ve had a pretty good spring and have a lot of good field updates.  First, our asparagus and rhubarb crops are producing beyond our expectations!  Both of these perennial crops take about 3 years to establish before we can do any substantial harvests off them.  Over the past few years we’ve put in new rhubarb and asparagus plantings.  Richard & Jack have been waiting patiently (Andrea not so patiently) for our new fields to become established and this is the first year we can harvest from all of these fields!   Despite the cool weather we’re still seeing some impressive asparagus harvests.  The rhubarb field is also producing well and the bright red stalks are gorgeous!
As we look ahead to June, we should mention that our first two pea plantings are in and looking good.  Sugar snap and snow peas should be ready for the first to middle part of June.  The pea vine looks like it might be ready as early as next week.  The strawberry field is blossoming and the plants look healthy.  We do watch the weather closely though (that darn weather topic again).  The blossoms can’t take the frost, so we’ve covered the field with our giant field blankets to get them through the week…just in case Jack Frost pays our valley a visit.
Anyone interested in garlic?  We’re happy to report the garlic crop appears to have overwintered nicely with about a 99% survival rate!  We’re planning to harvest green garlic next week….and before we know it we’ll be enjoying garlic scapes and fresh, juicy bulb garlic.
Our pastures are lush and green and the cattle love their days grazing the hillsides.  Our goat pasture is full of young energy with nine new kids and more on the way!  We’re also happy to report we have pigs roaming our pastures again!  Last week we got 15 piglets.  It took them a few days to acclimate to their new home, but it looks like they’ve adapted well.  They’ve also grown accustomed to the nightly deliveries of compost from the packing shed. Just like us, they are enjoying many spinach salads for dinner.  The chickens moved to the pasture with the pigs. They’re a little more vulnerable to pesky predators, but are learning to defend and protect themselves. Manuel and Juan Pablo have done five plantings  of “salad greens.” This is our first week of harvest from our spring-planted salad greens.  We should have salad mix, baby kale and more baby arugula coming soon!  We’re also learning how to use a new vacuum seeder we got this spring. We’ll use it to plant our cilantro, dill, bunched arugula, baby bok choi and radishes.  It was fun having a shiny, new piece of equipment.  It’s dirty now, but seems to be working well and we’re thankful to have it as it will help us fine-tune the plantings for greater precision.
Jack is happy to have the field crew back from Mexico so he can play ball at lunch time.  Richard has been hunting for morel mushrooms in his spare time and Andrea is having fun cooking them along with asparagus, spinach, ramps and all of the other tasty green things available now!
Kelly & Beth have been busy in the office preparing for the start of deliveries.  Lately they’ve been working on processing orders for maple syrup.  Our friend and neighbor, Alvin Miller, had another pretty good year for making maple syrup.  If you haven’t taken advantage of this offer yet, don’t wait. We’ve extended our deadline until May 20th, but that’s the absolute last day for orders!  Alvin needs time to bottle the syrup, so make sure you send your order in as soon as possible so Alvin knows how many bottles to fill!   We’re happy to have another season of CSA underway. While farming isn’t easy, we are blessed with great customers and a great crew!  Our crew has been practicing flexibility for the past several weeks.  On warm, sunny days they stay late to get the work done.  On rainy and cold days they help in the packing shed and greenhouses doing whatever needs to be done.  Without a hard-working crew, we couldn’t be the farm we are today.  We’re glad that you’ll be sharing with us in the bounty of this year’s harvest.  Rest assured we have a lot of delicious food coming your way!

Vegetable Feature: Sorrel

Sorrel is a perennial plant we look forward to every spring and is among the first greens of the season.  It is actually in the same family of vegetables as rhubarb!  Sorrel leaves have a pointy, arrow shape and are thick in texture and bright green in color.  You’ll recognize sorrel by its tart and citrus-like flavor.  It has a bright flavor that will call your taste buds to attention.
Sorrel can be eaten both raw and cooked.  Raw sorrel can brighten any salad and is excellent when blended into cold sauces, vinaigrettes, dressings or dips.  Because of its bold flavor, it is often treated more like an herb when used raw.  When cooked, sorrel behaves in a very interesting way.  First, its color changes from bright green to a drab olive green almost immediately.  Don’t worry, this happens to everyone and it’s just the way it is with sorrel!  The other interesting thing about sorrel is how it “melts” when added to hot liquids.  The leaves will almost immediately change color and then start to soften.  The longer it’s cooked, the more the leaves break apart and you can stir it into a coarse sauce. This is one of the reasons it’s often used in soups and sauces.
The acidity of sorrel makes it a natural companion to more rich foods such as cream, butter, sour cream, yogurt, duck, and fatty fish (salmon & mackerel).  Additionally, it pairs well with more “earthy” foods such as lentils, rice, buckwheat, mushrooms and potatoes.
If you are interested in preserving sorrel to use during the winter, here’s an interesting idea from Deborah Madison’s book, Vegetable Literacy.  She recommends making a sorrel puree to freeze.
“Drop stemmed leaves into a skillet with a little butter and cook until the leaves dissolve into a rough puree, which takes only a few minutes.  Cool, then freeze flat in a ziplock bag….Just a dab will add spirit to the quiet flavors of winter foods:  break off chunks to stir into lentil soups, mushroom sauces or ragouts, or an omelet filling.”

Spiced Lentils with Nettles & Sorrel Yogurt Sauce

Serves 2-3 as a main dish or 3-4 as a side dish
Spiced Lentils
1 Tbsp olive oil
¼ cup ramp bulbs or green onion bulbs, sliced thinly
1 ½ tsp ground coriander
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
¾ tsp salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup beluga lentils
2 ½ cups water
1 cup blanched, roughly chopped nettle leaves
2 Tbsp lemon juice
½ cup thinly sliced chives or green onion tops

Sorrel Yogurt Sauce
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
¾ cup sorrel leaves, sliced into ribbons
Zest of one lemon
½ tsp salt, plus more to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor.  Blend until the sorrel leaves are well-incorporated.
Let the mixture set for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.  Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with additional salt as needed.

Store any extra sauce in the refrigerator.

  1. Heat olive oil in a 10-12 inch sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the sliced ramp or green onion bulbs and sauté until softened, about 1-2 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt and black pepper.  Stir to combine the spices with the oil and onions.  Continue to stir and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. 
  2. Add the lentils and water and stir to combine.  Bring the lentils to a boil, then reduce the heat slightly to maintain a gentle simmer.  Partially cover the pan and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are just tender.  
  3. Remove the lid from the pan and stir in the nettles and lemon juice.  Continue to cook for another 5-6 minutes.  If there is still a lot of liquid in the pan, cook uncovered.  If there is a small amount of liquid remaining, put the lid back on the pan to finish cooking.  You want a small amount of liquid remaining when the dish is done, but it should not be soupy.
  4. Turn off the heat and season with additional salt and black pepper if needed.  Stir in the chives or green onion tops.  Serve warm or at room temperature with 1-2 Tbsp of Sorrel Yogurt Sauce.

Sorrel Hummus

Yield:  1 ½ cups
2 garlic cloves
1 ½ oz sorrel leaves, roughly chopped (approximately 1 cup)
1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (one-15 oz can)
¼ cup tahini
Grated zest of 1 organic lemon
1 ½ Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp sea salt, plus more if desired
1 ½ tsp raw honey or pure maple syrup
¼ cup water
Cold-pressed olive oil, for serving*

  1. Put the garlic in a food processor and pulse to mince.  Add the sorrel, chickpeas, tahini, lemon zest and juice, salt, honey, and ¼ cup water, and blend on the highest setting until smooth.  Season with more salt if needed.  
  2. Transfer the hummus to a serving bowl, drizzle olive oil over the top, and serve.  Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.

*Note:  If you are using the hummus as a spread, add 1 ½ tsp olive oil to the food processor and blend it into the hummus.

Serving Suggestions:  This sorrel hummus is delicious served with pita bread, corn chips or fresh vegetables as an appetizer or snack.  You can also use it as a spread for sandwiches, flat bread or wraps.  When we tested this recipe, we chose to spread the sorrel hummus on a tortilla and stuffed it with fresh spinach and diced raw asparagus tossed with a little drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper.  The hummus is bright and lemony and in Farmer Richard’s words.... “also rich & creamy.  I like the contrast of the crispy asparagus with the creamy hummus.” This spread goes well with any spring vegetable including radishes, green onions, blanched nettles, baby white turnips and more!

Recipe Source: This recipe was borrowed from Sarah Britton’s beautiful new cookbook, My New Roots.  This book was just released this spring and it’s packed full of nourishing plant-based recipes organized by the season.  Sarah also has a blog by the same name, My New Roots (  Her recipes are vegetarian and often vegan friendly, although they are also adaptable to include in meals for meat-eaters as well.  Another bonus of both her book and her blog…..the gorgeous pictures!  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Vegetable Feature: Nettles & Ramps

Vegetable Feature: Ramps
We’re so thankful that ramp season overlapped with the start of this year’s CSA deliveries!  Ramps are a special spring treat that are available for only 3-4 weeks on average.  They are a wild-foraged vegetable that we harvest from north-facing hillsides in the woods.  We take care to sustainably harvest them to ensure they’ll continue to grow in our valley for years to come.  Our harvest crew treads lightly as they walk the woods and only takes half of any bunch of ramps growing in an area, taking care to leave the remainder undisturbed.
You can use the ramp bulb and leaves, simply trim away the root end.  The flavor resembles garlic & onions, but it really has its own distinctive “rampy” flavor.  Ramps are excellent in any egg dish from simple scrambled eggs to fancy quiche.  They are also often used in risotto, pasta dishes and baked goods such as biscuits or cornbread.  You can use the leaves to make a tasty pesto or try the chimichurri recipe in this week’s newsletter.
 If you’re looking to preserve the delicious ramp flavor to enjoy later in the year, consider freezing ramp pesto or ramp butter.  We featured a simple recipe for ramp butter in our May 9-10, 2014 newsletter.  This recipe is archived on our website in our searchable recipe database.
Ramps are a delicate vegetable, so I’d encourage you to use them within several days.  Store them in the refrigerator in a plastic bag.  To preserve the delicate greens, wrap them gently in a moist paper towel or cloth.

Vegetable Feature: Nettles (yes, the stinging kind-please read this for more information)
We look forward to nettles every spring as they are one of the most nutrient-dense spring greens we have available early in the season.  Please be forewarned that these nettles are the “stinging nettles” many might consider a weed.  They have little fibers on the stems that contain formic acid which will give you a “stinging” sensation if you brush up against them before they’ve been washed or try to harvest them with bare hands.  Washing the nettles will remove most of the stinging fibers and there is no sting remaining after they are cooked.  We have vigorously washed the nettles in your box and put them in a bag to make handling easier for you.  Even though we’ve washed them, I would still recommend you handle  them carefully and avoid touching them with your bare hands prior to cooking them.  With a flavor similar to spinach, they contain a whole host of nutrients including protein, calcium, magnesium, potassium, boron, carotenoids and iron.  They are also reported to relieve eczema and seasonal allergies.
 Nettles should always be cooked prior to eating them.  Here are a few guidelines for handling them in your kitchen.  First, put some cold water in your kitchen sink and empty the bag of nettles into the sink.  Use either a pair of kitchen tongs, kitchen gloves, or a plastic bag inverted over your hand to handle the nettles until they are cooked.  Swish the nettles around in the sink.  Remove the nettles from the cold water in the sink using your tongs or gloved hand and put them directly into a pot of boiling water.  You should boil them for about 1 minute.  You’ll notice their color will intensify to a beautiful deep emerald green and the water will turn the same color.  After one minute, remove the nettles from the boiling water, put them in a strainer, and rinse with cold water until they are cooled. The stinging factor is no longer a concern after cooking, so you can use your bare hands to squeeze all the excess water out of them and remove the leaves from the thicker stems.  If the stems are small, there’s no need to sort them out.  Now your nettle greens are ready for use.
Nettle leaves are perishable, so it is best to cook them shortly after you receive them.  Even if you don’t want to eat them right away, it is better to store them in their cooked form for a few days until you are ready to use them.  The cooking water actually makes a beautiful tea, so don’t discard it.  You can drink the tea either hot or cold and mixed with honey and lemon.  It’s delicious and makes the cooking process dual purpose.  Nettles originated in Europe and Asia, so are a familiar vegetable in many of the cuisines from these regions.  They are often used to make soups, but you can also use the nettles in a pesto, to top off a pizza, or incorporated into a risotto or pasta dishes.  Nettle puree may be used in pasta or gnocchi dough to make a stunning appearance, or the nettles can be used in a ravioli filling.  Nettles pair well with cheese, cream, mushrooms and other spring greens.

Sesame Nettles & Rice
By Andrea Yoder

Serves 2-4
1 bunch nettles
1 to 1 ½ Tbsp sunflower oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic cloves or ramp bulbs
1 cup cooked rice
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 ½ tsp sesame oil
¼ tsp red pepper flakes or to taste
Salt & Black pepper, to taste
Toasted sesame seeds, to garnish

  1. Bring 4-5 quarts water to a boil in a small to medium stockpot.  Using gloves, tongs or an inverted plastic bag on your hand, remove the twist tie from the bunch of nettles and vigorously wash them in a sink or bowl of clean, cold water.  Once the water is boiling, add the nettles.  Cook for approximately 1-2 minutes.  Immediately remove the nettles from the boiling water and put them in a strainer or colander.  Rinse with cold water until cool enough to handle.
  2. Remove the leaves and thin stems from the thick main stem.  Discard the main stem.  Roughly chop the nettle leaves into coarse pieces.
  3. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat the sunflower oil.  Once the oil is hot, add the garlic cloves or ramp bulbs.  Sauté until golden, then add the rice & nettles and stir.  Immediately add the vinegar and put a lid on the pan.  Simmer for about 2 minutes.
  4. Remove the lid from the pan, reduce the heat and add the sesame oil, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper.  Stir to combine and remove from heat.
  5. Serve with toasted sesame seeds to garnish.

Ramp Chimichurri 
Yield:  about 1/2 cup
1 bunch ramps
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
Dash of pepper

  1. Clean the ramps;  if necessary, remove the roots.  Chop the bulbs off the stems and into some rough pieces.   Chop the leaves into rough pieces.
  2. Place just the bulbs into a food processor or blender and process until minced.  Then add the leaves, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and red pepper flakes.  Blend until smooth.

This recipe was borrowed from a Couple Cooks blog.  They feature it on their blog as a topping for a cheese omelet.  Chimichurri is traditionally made with parsley and garlic, but the ramp bulbs and leaves adapt nicely to this preparation.  You can use this as a topping for grilled or roasted fish, chicken or steak.  It is also a nice accompaniment to eggs and sandwiches. You could also try a recipe for Ramp Chimichurri Bread with Lemon Thyme Butter featured at (check out the amazing pictures of this tasty loaf of bread!)

Welcome to Another Great CSA Season!

Welcome to the 2015 CSA season!  We’re excited to have fresh, green food again after a long winter. We hope you enjoy the fresh spring flavors in this week’s box.  You may be less familiar with some of the vegetables this week, but rest assured we’re here to help you enjoy them!  Please take the time to read this week’s vegetable features in the newsletter to learn more about ramps & nettles.  If you’re looking for more recipe ideas or suggestions for how to use some of the other things in your box, consider checking out our website.  We have a searchable recipe database that archives all the recipes we’ve featured in our past newsletters.  It’s a great resource to get you started as you’re learning about vegetables with which you may not have much experience.

This week we’ve also sent a special “Choice” item—Decorative Willow Bunches.  These are not intended to be eaten, but they do make a beautiful adornment to your home or patio.  This is just a little something extra that we’d like to share with you.  While we specialize in growing food crops, we include some of these “decorative” plants as part of our production system.  We plant curly willow, dogwood, and a variety of pussy willows in our field hedgerows to provide habitats for beneficial insects and birds.  These creatures are an important part of how we manage pest insects and promote pollination for our vegetable crops.  Every winter we trim these hedgerows to keep them from becoming overgrown.  Our winter crew takes the time to trim and bundle the cuttings to turn them into beautiful arrangements that can be enjoyed throughout the year.  You can trim your bundle to the size you would like it to be and you don’t need to add water.  Over time the branches will dry out and the color may fade, but they will last for years!  We hope you enjoy this little piece of our farm as a reminder of the place where your food is grown!

Thank you for being a part of our farm!
Farmers Richard, Andrea and the Entire HVF Crew

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Meet Our Farmers' Market Crew: Sarah

Meet Sarah Janes Ugoretz!
By Andrea Yoder
     If you read our weekly newsletters, Sarah’s name is likely familiar to you and you may remember some of the excellent newsletter articles she contributed last season.  Sarah researched and wrote all of the National Geographic series articles entitled “The Future of Food.” You may also recognize Sarah’s familiar, smiling face as she’s been a member of our market crew since 2011.  We've been working with Sarah for over 4 years and have come to appreciate her warm, positive personality as well as her other areas of skill and expertise.  Sarah has become an important part of our farmer’s market crew and the farm in general.  We have enjoyed getting to know Sarah over the past several years and thought you might too!
      Sarah was born and raised in Wisconsin and currently resides in Madison with her husband, Justin, and their two playful dogs.  Sarah is currently a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in the area of Environment and Resources.  She will be traveling to El Salvador this summer to begin working on her dissertation which is centered around studying women’s management of household gardens in that country.  Sarah’s career path and areas of interest have developed from a unique evolution centered around developing local food systems, an interest in personal gardening, and a contagious excitement for fresh produce, cooking, and naturally….eating!
     Sarah grew up in rural Racine, Wisconsin.  Her father grew a huge garden and, much to Sarah’s dislike, included Sarah in the entire experience.  Sarah would have rather been having fun with friends and such, but instead she was working in the garden.  Needless to say she didn't enjoy her childhood gardening experiences.  Her parents tried to get her more involved with cooking as well, but Sarah wasn't into that so much either.  It wasn't until she went to college that she began to develop more of an interest in food, gardening and cooking.  She had a group of college friends who started doing weekly potlucks and began to ask questions about where their food came from.  They started a garden at school and Sarah began experimenting more with cooking and experiencing different foods.  During her undergraduate studies, she had the opportunity to live in Mexico for nine months.  Part of the work she did while in Mexico involved spending some time talking with women in the community who made homemade tamales and other foods to sell at the markets.  Sarah became even more interested in cooking and the community as it relates to food as she watched these women make their traditional foods.
     As Sarah’s interest in local food systems and agriculture grew, she felt like she needed to get her hands in the dirt and experience it for herself.  She sought out opportunities to immerse herself in local agriculture and that is how she came to work with Harmony Valley Farm.   In 2011 Sarah contacted us because she wanted to have the experience of working on a vegetable farm.  Unfortunately the commute from Madison was a little too far, but we did offer her a position on our farmer’s market crew.  She was a natural fit and quickly learned the ins and outs of all the vegetables we grow over the season.  With four years under her belt now, we’re happy to see Sarah’s continued excitement and interest in food continue to grow.  Sarah also had an opportunity to work with Tipi Produce, near Madison, where she was a member of their farm crew for a growing season.  Now she has personal, hands-on experience and a greater appreciation for how vegetables are produced on a scale larger than gardening.  At Tipi she did weeding, harvesting, packing and more.  She describes her work at Tipi as “very hard, but fun.”
     Sarah brings a lot of skills and interests to the table.  Last year we recruited her to help us with doing research and writing for our farmer’s market and CSA newsletters.  She accepted the challenge and had a lot of fun researching agriculture and different food related topics as well as interviewing some of the producers and farmers who supply fruit for our fruit shares.  She has also stepped up to the plate and become our Farmer’s Market Crew Manager.   She helps us make crew schedules, design the layout for our market stand each week, and continues to stock vegetables and interact with customers.
     When she isn't studying for school or working at the market stand on Saturdays, she enjoys some of her favorite past times.  Let’s start with the one we both share….eating & cooking! Sarah likes to use cooking as a form of “kitchen therapy.” I asked her the hard question… “What’s your favorite food?” After a long pause and a little giggle, her first answer was “I really like bananas!”Beyond the tropical fruits, she considers onions, garlic and mushrooms to be staples in her kitchen and really enjoys a simple, well-made mushroom risotto.  If you’d like to take her out for dinner, you can safely choose any restaurant serving Asian or Middle-Eastern food and Sarah will be very happy.
    One interesting food-centric fact about Sarah involves her husband Justin and a weekly tradition they call “Burger Monday.” About seven years ago Justin, who works at a bike shop in Madison, started going to “boys’ night” at the Old Fashioned with some of the guys from the bike shop.  The Old Fashioned is a well-known Madison restaurant offering 2 for 1 cheeseburger night on Mondays.  Somewhere along the way their “boys’ night” was crashed by girls (including Sarah) and they've never been able to take it back!  So if you are looking for Sarah and Justin on Monday evening, you will be sure to find them at the Old Fashioned enjoying “Burger Monday” with their friends.  
     Beyond burgers, bananas, and cooking, Sarah also enjoys non-academic reading, taking care of her own garden, hiking with her dogs, and going for bike rides with her husband Justin.  We’re very happy to have Sarah on our crew and hope you've enjoyed getting to know her better as well.  Next time you’re at the market, stop by and meet Sarah in person!