Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Celebrating & Growing Strawberries at Harmony Valley Farm

By Farmer Richard

Immature Strawberries
Strawberry Day is upon us and we hope you are making plans to visit our valley to celebrate this year’s strawberry harvest.  We are only in our first week of strawberry picking, which is about 10-14 days behind our “normal” strawberry season due to the cold, wet spring.  This year’s strawberries are looking good, and taste great!  In most years our Strawberry Day is near the end of the season whereas this year we’re just beginning the season.  Before we go any further, I want to mention a few important things for this year’s Strawberry Day event.  Normally we don’t worry too much if the kids (or adults) crawl, roll or run through the patch.  They are having a great time and we’re usually done picking most of the berries so there isn’t too much harm that can be done.  This year, we need to limit the amount of frolicking through the field.  We are proud of this beautiful field and really need to make sure we treat the plants gently and tread lightly so we don’t damage the plants or the immature berries that we want to preserve for picking over the next few weeks.  We’ll limit the traffic to our early varieties including Earliglow and our new early variety called Galletta.  These two early varieties will be in full production.  Some of our mid-season varieties are starting to produce some beautiful berries, but we need to try to stay out of this section of the field so we can continue to have abundant berries for two more weeks! 

This year's strawberry field--streamers to deter the birds!
As you prepare for your trip to the farm this weekend, please remember to pack your ballet shoes (tutu not required) so you can walk gracefully through the field like a ballet dancer and watch where you step! While I understand many members really enjoy participating in the “Heaviest Berry Contest,” we will not be able to host this activity this year.  Many of the big berries that are going to be tempting to pick will be in the part of the field that will not be open for picking.  The competition can get pretty intense some years and we often have excited participants leap off the wagon so they can run through the field in search of the winning berry.  Remember, ballet dancers don’t run.  While they do leap, we ask that you only do maneuvers such as these if you are professionally trained to do so.  Aside from the professional ballet dancers in attendance, we should all consider ourselves amateurs and limit our activity to gentle walking.  Please, do not run through the field this year!  If you do feel a sudden burst of joy coupled with the desire to run, feel free to do laps around the perimeter of the field.  Thank you in advance for your attention to these details.  If we all work together and treat the field with respect, we’ll be able to maximize our harvests this year and preserve the field for another great year in 2019!

Strawberry plants right after planting last spring.
While there won’t be a quiz about strawberry production when you come for Strawberry Day, we thought it might be interesting for our members to understand a little more about how we produce our strawberries.  We use a matted bed system of strawberry production.  This means we plant bare root dormant strawberry plants in early spring.  We space them about 12-16 inches apart.  The field we’ll be picking from this year is actually in its second year of growth, but this is our first year picking from it.  We planted the field last year, spring 2017.  The first year we do not harvest fruit.  The plants will produce blossoms, but we snip them off to shunt the energy in the plant towards producing runners for daughter plants instead of producing fruit.  Generally the amount of fruit a first-year plant would produce is not that great, thus it is more productive to forego the fruit for the sake of encouraging the plant to grow and spread.  The main strawberry plant will send off new growth called runners.  These runners will produce daughter plants that will set their roots into the soil thus propagating our strawberry crop.

Covering strawberries to protect from frost.
Over the course of the first year, we focus on controlling weeds with mechanical cultivation and hand weeding and make sure the plants have adequate water and nutrients to support their growth, health and development.  We bury drip tape under the beds before we plant so we can easily and efficiently provide water as well as nutrients when needed through these water lines. In the fall, the plants will start to produce the embryos or buds in the crown or base of the plant for the following year.  We then cover the plants heavily with straw mulch to protect this new growth from freezing and thawing over the course of the winter.  In the spring, the plants are uncovered and the mulch fills in between the plants to help choke out any weeds and to provide a clean bed for the strawberries.  The mulch isn’t removed too soon though or the plants will start blossoming and are at greater risk of being damaged by frost.  We also cover the field with large row covers, basically a huge blanket to keep the strawberries warm and protected on nights when we anticipate freezing temperatures. 

We select the varieties based on their ripening season, flavor, color, disease resistance and production potential.  Flavor is one of our most important characteristics and we typically only choose varieties that are rated as having “Excellent” flavor by Nourse Farms, the farm that produces our strawberry plants.  Genetics plays a very big role in flavor, which is why we’ve learned to trust Nourse Farms and their expert recommendations.  Every year we evaluate the plants and the characteristics of their fruit to decide which varieties we like best and want to plant again.  In California and Florida, two major strawberry producing states, the varieties they plant are “ever-bearing.”  These varieties have longer ripening seasons and have been bred to be a firmer berry with a longer shelf life to hold up to shipping.  While these strawberries often look pretty, their flavor is no comparison to any local berry you will get in early summer.  The berries we plant are “June-bearing.”  While our season is shorter in comparison, we select varieties that ripen at different times so we can extend our season as long as we can.  We have some early berries (Earliglow and our new Galetta), some mid-season, and some late ripening varieties.

After the harvest is done, we will renovate the field.  This means we will destroy some of the plants to promote more runners and daughter plant production for the next year.  We only harvest off our field for 2 years before it is destroyed and we start a new field in a different location. Why do we do this when the field is still producing?  Well, we like to keep our patch as clean as we can and free from perennial weeds.  The older the patch, the greater the chance that weed seeds such as dandelion and thistle will make their way into the patch.  This is also a means of controlling any leaf disease we may see on a variety.  A young, clean patch will usually have greater production and yields.

The best way to eat a strawberry is while standing in the patch with the sun overhead and a gentle breeze blowing across your face. While I hope you have the chance to do this, the second best option is to eat locally grown berries in season.  Sliced berries are a great topper for a bowl of cereal, ice cream, pancakes, waffles, or added to a spinach salad.  You can also preserve them to eat later in the year in the form of frozen berries, strawberry jam or syrup.  Other popular ways to enjoy strawberries include strawberry shortcake, pie, or chocolate covered berries! 

The weather looks good for this weekend’s festivities.  We have lots of other crops to show you and there may be an opportunity to pick some crops including onions and zucchini!  Of course we’ll have plenty of nice strawberries, delicious strawberry ice cream, and lots of good company as well! 

Our cabins are spoken for, but we still have lots of room in our two campgrounds if you’d like to turn your farm visit into a weekend adventure. 

We hope you enjoy your strawberries this season and we look forward to seeing you at Strawberry Day!

June 14, 2018 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Garlic Scapes

Cooking With This Week’s Box: 

This Week’s Summary of Recipes & The Vegetables They Utilize:

French Breakfast Radishes:  Dal with Radish Raita

Cilantro:  Thai Coconut Soup with Spinach and Garlic Scapes (See Below)

Garlic Scapes:  Thai Coconut Soup with Spinach and Garlic Scapes (See Below); Garlic Scape herb spread (See Below); Spicy Ginger Pork Noodles with Bok Choi

Spinach:  Thai Coconut Soup with Spinach and Garlic Scapes (See Below); Dal with Radish Raita

Hon Tsai Tai OR Bok ChoiSpicy Ginger Pork Noodles with Bok Choi

This week I’d like to start off by welcoming the Peak Season CSA Vegetable Share members!  And just in time for the peak season...strawberries!  We’re really excited to be kicking off strawberry season this week and want to remind you that this weekend is our annual Strawberry Day event at the farm.  The strawberry ice cream is scheduled to arrive on Thursday and Richard’s planning the tour route.  We hope you’ll plan on joining us!

This is a busy week, so I’m really looking for quick, easy dishes to prepare.  That’s how this Thai Coconut Soup with Spinach & Garlic Scapes (see below) evolved.  I haven’t made cream of spinach soup…well, ever.  For some reason it sounded good to me this week, but I didn’t have extra cream and I wanted to avoid that overcooked spinach flavor.  I ended up going with a Thai coconut soup concept, but I blended fresh, raw garlic scapes and spinach into the flavorful coconut milk broth.  This soup is easy and fast to make as well as being flavorful and filling.  Garnish it with scallion greens and some of the fresh cilantro in this week’s box and your set. 

Spicy Ginger Pork Noodles with Bok Choi
Several years ago we featured a recipe for Spicy Ginger Pork Noodles with Bok Choi.  This is the perfect week to make this recipe using hon tsai tai which is an acceptable substitute for the bok choi.  You’ll make use of some of the garlic scapes, scallions and cilantro in this recipe.  This will make a simple dinner and leftovers are equally as good! 

Another blast from the past recipe that crossed my mind this week was my White Turnip Salad with Miso Ginger Vinaigrette.  This is a refreshing, light salad that rounds out a simple meal when served with a piece of grilled salmon or chicken.  This salad makes use of both the greens and the turnips and is garnished with almonds for a little extra crunch.

This is definitely a week to enjoy salads and here is a recipe that was made for this week’s box contents.  This Boston Lettuce Avocado Salad with Lime Dressing will make good use of the head lettuce in this week’s box along with the avocadoes and limes from the fruit box!  It also includes cilantro…which just happens to be in this week’s vegetable box as well!  This salad will make a nice light lunch along with some crackers and sliced French Breakfast Radishes. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Ricky
Photo from Family Style Food
So what are you going to do with the delicious strawberries in this week’s box, and the next few weeks to come?  Well, this week I’d recommend using some of them to make a Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette.  This light, sweet dressing will go very nicely on a salad made with either red oak or Boston lettuce.  Garnish your salad with some crumbled feta and maybe a few croutons.  This would actually be a nice salad to eat with a sandwich, so perhaps you’ll try this recipe for a Strawberry Balsamic Grilled Cheese!  Strawberry season doesn’t last long, so you’ll want to eat them while you can!  I never considered putting fresh strawberries on a sandwich, but this sounds delicious.  The cheese this recipe calls for is similar to medium to sharp cheddar.  I think this would be delicious with gouda or a smoked cheddar as well.  While we’re talking strawberries, I want to share this cocktail with you as well.  If you have any rhubarb left from last week’s box, consider pairing it with some of the strawberries this week to make Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Rickey cocktails to celebrate Father’s Day!

Some boxes this week will include baby arugula and others will have saute mix.  If you receive the baby arugula, consider this recipe for Grilled Chicken with Arugula & Warm Chickpeas which will make a delicious, simple dinner.  Eat it on the patio with some good crusty bread slathered with Garlic Scape Herb Butter (See below).

If you are looking for another way to put this week’s radishes to use, consider making this Dal recipe with Radish Raita.  The radishes add a little zing to the yogurt which is served as a condiment for the dal.  This recipe also calls for a generous portion of cooking greens.  This is your opportunity to utilize any greens that may be lurking in your refrigerator.  Radish or turnip tops, spinach or saute mix, or hon tsai tai would all be appropriate to include in this dish. 

Greens & Grains Breakfast Scramble, Photo from epicurios
Well, we’ve almost reached the bottom of another CSA box.  We’ve covered lunch and dinners for the week with quite a few dishes ranging from noodles to grilled cheese to soup.  Lets not forget to eat well for breakfast too.  If you receive saute mix in your box this week instead of arugula, use it to make this simple Greens & Grains Breakfast Scramble.  The other delicious, simple vegetable dish I’ve enjoyed for breakfast this week is this recipe for Summer Squash with Basil Butter.  Use the zucchini in this week’s box along with basil from your own herb garden!  This makes a great vegetable to serve for brunch with eggs, bacon and toast.  If you have any left, turn it into a breakfast quesadilla the next day with some Monterey Jack to hold the quesadilla filling together.

Before I close out this week’s Cooking With The Box article, I just want to invite any new peak season members to join our Facebook Group.  This is a great forum to converse with other CSA members, share your recipes, ask questions and create a great connection with others in this HVF community of eaters.  Have a great week and we look forward to seeing you at Strawberry Day!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Garlic Scapes 

Garlic scape emerging from the hardneck garlic plant.

Garlic is a staple item in our kitchens, but bulbs of garlic to use in the form of cloves are hard to come by this time of the season.  It’s too early for fresh bulbs of garlic and if you have any garlic remaining from last fall, it is likely sprouting by now.  Even with a staple ingredient like garlic, we can continue to eat seasonally and locally when we are willing to consider garlic in its other forms.  For the past several weeks we’ve enjoyed green garlic.  Green garlic is best when it’s young and tender, but as it continues to grow the base starts to become a bulb and the layers of the plant become tough and less than desirable to eat. That’s just the way the garlic grows.  Just as we outgrow green garlic, garlic scapes start to form and we take the next step in our seasonal garlic journey.

Garlic scapes are the long, skinny, green vegetable with a lot of curl that you’ll find in this
week’s box.  Up until the early 90’s we used to remove scapes from the garlic plant and throw them on the ground!  What were we thinking?!  We were the first farm in the Midwest to start harvesting the scapes for use as a vegetable, thanks to one of our customers from Korea who asked us to save the garlic scapes for her so she could make pickles.  We thought this was odd (remember we used to throw them on the ground), but saved some for her anyway. She was gracious enough to share a jar of pickled scapes with us and that was our introduction to how delicious they are to eat!

Pickled Garlic Scapes
Garlic scapes are a curly shoot that forms on a hardneck garlic plant and grows up from the center of the plant in June.  All of our varieties of garlic are hardneck garlic.  This type of garlic produces scapes as part of nature’s plan for the plant to propagate itself in the soil.  Right now we want the garlic plant to focus its energy into producing a nice bulb of garlic, so we remove the scape from the plant.  Nearly the entire scape is edible and is best when harvested young and tender.  You may need to trim off the skinny end near the little bulb as it is tough sometimes.  Garlic scapes are very tender and do not need to be peeled…Easy!  Scapes have a bright, mild garlic flavor.  They can be used in any recipe that calls for garlic cloves, just chop them up and add them as you would clove garlic.  They can be grilled or roasted, pickled, fermented, and make an awesome pesto such as this  Cilantro & Garlic Scape Pesto recipe Dani Lind from Rooted Spoon Culinary shared with us back in 2015.  Check out our recipe archive for other delicious recipes utilizing garlic scapes including Pickled Garlic Scapes and Tempura Garlic Scapes.  Store your scapes in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them.  They’ll store for 2-3 weeks.  

Thai Coconut Soup with Spinach & Garlic Scapes 

By Chef Andrea

Yield:  2 quarts 

4 cups chicken stock

1 can coconut milk (15-16 oz can)
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp maple syrup
¼ tsp red chili flakes
½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp lime juice
8 oz baby spinach
3-4 garlic scapes, cut into 1 inch pieces
Zest of one lime
Cilantro, chopped, to garnish

  1. Put the chicken stock and coconut milk in a medium sized sauce pan along with the minced ginger, fish sauce, soy sauce, maple syrup, chili flakes, ½ tsp salt and black pepper.  Bring the liquid to a simmer over medium to medium high heat.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, uncovered, to infuse the flavors.  
  2. After 10 minutes, remove the coconut milk mixture from heat.  The next step is to puree the soup in a blender.  If you have a large blender container, you may be able to puree the whole batch of soup at one time.  Otherwise you may need to blend the soup in two batches.  First put about half of the spinach and the garlic scapes into the blender.  Pour the hot coconut milk mixture over the spinach and add the lime juice.  Secure the lid on the container and turn the blender on, starting on low speed and gradually increasing.  If you are blending everything in one batch, stop, remove the lid and add the remainder of the spinach.  If blending in two batches, blend the first batch until the spinach is chopped finely, but there is still a little texture to the mixture.  Pour the soup into a bowl and then repeat the process with the remaining spinach.
  3. Once the soup is blended, stir in the lime zest and taste it.  Adjust the seasoning to your liking with more salt, pepper and lime juice as needed.
  4. Serve the soup hot with chopped cilantro as a garnish.

Garlic Scape Herb Butter 

Photo from Dishing up the Dirt
Yield:  1 cup butter

1 cup (2 sticks) good-quality unsalted butter, softened
1 garlic scape, minced
2 ½ Tbsp minced parsley
2 ½ Tbsp minced dill
½ tsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp sea salt

  1. Using a hand mixer or a small food processor, beat together the softened butter, garlic scape, herbs, lemon juice, and salt until well combined.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

This super-simple recipe was borrowed from Andrea Bemis’s book, Dishing Up the Dirt.  She serves this butter as a spread for a fresh vegetable platter.  This spread would be delicious on a radish sandwich, spread it on toast, use it for your morning eggs, or use it to cook other vegetable in such as sautéed spinach or sautéed baby white turnips with their greens.  

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

June 7, 2018 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Baby White Turnip

Cooking With This Week’s Box: 

This Week’s Summary of Recipes and the Vegetables They Utilize:

Asparagus:  Asparagus Panzanella;  Spring Celebration Bowl (see below)

Red Radishes:  Spring Celebration Bowl (see below);  Easy Cilantro-Lime Chicken Salad Lettuce CupsFried Greens Meatless Balls

Red Oak LettuceMaple Mustard Balsamic

Green Garlic:  Green Goddess Detox Salad

Baby White Turnips:  Turnip Greens Pesto Pizza (See Below) OR Spring Celebration Bowl (See below)

Welcome to the first week of June!  In our world, June means picking strawberries, sugar snap peas, and zucchini while still trying to stay ahead of the weeds.  It’s going to be a very busy month!

Asparagus Panzanella, picture by 101 Cookbooks
This week we will be saying good-bye to asparagus, rhubarb and pea vine.  If there is something you’ve been thinking about making with any of these three things, this is the week to do so!  I’m going to use the asparagus to make Heidi Swanson’s Asparagus Panzanella.  Panzanella is traditionally an Italian tomato and bread salad.  This Asparagus Panzanella is a seasonal adaptation of this concept.

I want to try something new with the rhubarb this week.  I stumbled across two delicious and interesting recipes this week.  I haven’t decided yet which one I’m going to make, but the choices are Bourbon Roasted Rhubarb with Crème Anglaise or Strawberry Rhubarb Jalapeño SpreadI’m leaning towards cutting up the rhubarb and freezing it so I can make the Strawberry Rhubarb Jalapeño Spread once I have strawberries and a fresh jalapeño.  The author of this recipe gives suggestions for using this spread including serving it on bread or crackers with cream cheese.

Fried Greens Meatless Balls, picture by Food52
There was some nice action last week in our Facebook Group.  Several people decided to use the pea vine to make this Pea Vine Quesadilla recipe from our archives.  Another member suggested this Green Goddess Detox Salad which uses spinach & pea vine to form the greens base of a simple, delicious salad that has a lot of green in it!  In addition to the spinach and pea vine, this recipe also uses green onions and calls for garlic (substitute green garlic or garlic scapes).  Another great suggestion from the Facebook group last week is these Fried Greens Meatless Balls.  This recipe is a great way to use a variety of greens.  Some members chose to use the hon tsai tai and pea vine to make this recipe, but you could also include your radish tops, turnip tops and/or spinach.  If you want to take it a step further, serve these meatless balls in a baguette and turn them into a vegetarian Bahn Mi sandwich.  What a great idea!  You can use sliced radishes and chopped green onions as toppings for the sandwich. 

This is one of those weeks when you will definitely “Eat your greens every day!”  If you missed last week’s newsletter article about the value and vitality we get from eating greens in our diet, take a few minutes to read it here on our blog.  Make a jar of this Maple
Maple Mustard Balsamic Dressing,
picture by Green Healthy Cooking
Mustard Balsamic Dressing
 and keep it in the refrigerator so you can make quick salads throughout the week.  Just toss it with some of the salad mix or red oak lettuce and top off your salad with either hemp seeds or toasted pumpkin seeds.  Sometimes I’ll add a hard boiled egg to the salad as well.  This would be an excellent salad to serve along with Turnip Greens Pesto Pizza.  What?  Turnips on a pizza?  I know it sounds odd, but I tried it and it is really good!  You take the turnip greens and make them into a pesto to spread on a pizza crust in place of tomato sauce.  The turnips get sliced thinly and cooked briefly before layering them on the pizza along with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.  I also added some crumbled bacon which was a nice complement to the turnips.  This is definitely a recipe worth trying and I’m sure I’ll be making it again!

The other recipe I’ve included this week featuring baby white turnips is Andrea Bemis’s Spring Celebration Bowl (See below).  While written as a recipe, it’s more of a concept and launching pad that you can use to create your own version of a “Spring Celebration Bowl.”  You form the base of the bowl with a cooked grain. She used quinoa, I used short grain brown rice.  Then you roast asparagus and baby white turnips and add those to the bowl along with chopped cilantro, sliced radishes and drizzle the whole thing with a tahini miso sauce and sesame seeds.  Top it off with a fried egg and you just created a delicious bowl of nourishing food that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  The whole idea is that you can make all of the components in advance and then just heat and assemble the bowls when you’re ready to eat.  It’s pretty simple food, but it’s really good and nourishing!

Lastly, we need to find a use for the gorgeous green Boston lettuce.  I’m going to use it to make these  Easy Cilantro-Lime Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups.  While the recipe calls for diced tomatoes, tomatoes are not in season, so I’m going to substitute diced Red Radishes.

Ok, that brings us to the bottom of another CSA box.  I hope you have an awesome week of cooking and I look forward to sharing next week’s box with you! –Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature:  Baby White Turnips 

Baby white turnips are a classy little vegetable we often describe as being “pristine.”  They are classified as a salad turnip and are tender with a sweet, mild flavor.  Both the roots and the green tops are edible and may be eaten raw or lightly cooked.

We plant baby white turnips for harvest early in the season and again in the fall when the growing conditions are cooler.  We harvest them while they are still small and tender, when the sweet flavor matches its delicate appearance.  Compared to the common purple top turnip, or other storage turnips, salad turnips are much more mild and subtle in both flavor and texture.  The turnips we grow in the fall are meant for storage purposes and have a thicker skin compared to the thin skin of a salad turnip.  Baby white turnips also mature much faster than beets, carrots and fennel, etc so they are a very important part of our spring menus until other root vegetables are ready for harvest.  To prolong the shelf life, separate the greens from the roots with a knife and store separately in plastic bags in your refrigerator.

To prepare the turnips for use, separate the roots from the greens and wash both well to remove any dirt.  Salad turnips have such a thin exterior layer, they do not need to be peeled.  They are delicious eaten raw in a salad, or just munch on them with dip or hummus.  You can also cook these turnips, but remember to keep the cooking time short as it doesn’t take much to cook them to fork tender.  You can simply sautè them in butter, stir-fry or roast them.  The greens may be added to raw salads, or lightly sautè or wilt them in a little butter.  When cooking baby white turnips, remember to keep the cooking time short and the preparation simple.  Cook them just until they are fork tender. You can also stir-fry or roast them and they are a nice addition to light and simple spring soups.  

Spring Celebration Bowl 

Yield: 4 servings

This recipe is from Andrea Bemis’s book, Dishing Up the Dirt.  Andrea is a farmer on the west coast and here’s her intro to this recipe:  “I like to cook up big batches of grains along with a few sauces or salad dressings on Sundays.  This makes weekday mealtime (specifically lunch) really easy for us.  Lunch is the toughest meal of the day because I have no prep time—but a simple bowl of grains, some veggies, fried egg, and a sauce makes for a stress-free and energizing midday meal.  This soul-soothing bowl truly celebrates the bounty of spring.”

Tahini Miso Dressing
¼ cup tahini
1 Tbsp white miso
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
¼ cup warm water, plus more to thin if necessary
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Celebration Bowl
1 cup dry quinoa
¾ to 1 pound asparagus
2 cups sugar snap peas*
Turnips from one bunch of baby white turnips, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 Tbsp olive oil, plus additional for frying eggs
4 eggs
3 to 4 red radishes, thinly sliced
1 bunch cilantro, minced
¼ cup sesame seeds

1.     Prepare the dressing.  Whisk together tahini, miso, and lemon juice with an immersion blender or hand whisk.  Slowly add ¼ cup warm water, adding more, if necessary, until you reach your desired consistency.  I like this dressing on the thicker side but feel free to add more water for a thinner sauce.  Season with pepper and set it aside.
2.    Prepare the quinoa according to the package instructions.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Toss the asparagus, sugar snap peas, and turnips with the oil.  Place them on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until they are lightly browned and tender, 18 to 20 minutes.  Toss veggies halfway through cooking.
3.    When you’re almost ready to serve, fry your eggs.  Heat a little olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium.  When the oil is hot, crack in the eggs.  Cook until the whites are set and the yolks are still slightly runny, about 5 minutes.
4.    To assemble, spoon quinoa into the bowls.  Top each serving with roasted veggies, radishes, cilantro, and sesame seeds.  Drizzle with the dressing and place a fried egg on top.

*Note From Chef Andrea:  This recipe is very easy to adapt.  I didn’t have quinoa, so I used short grain brown rice instead.  We don’t have sugar snap peas yet, so in place of those I added steamed turnip greens.  Use what you have in season and adapt this recipe as needed to match what’s seasonal and available!

Turnip Greens Pesto Pizza

Yield: 4 Servings (One 12 to 14 inch pizza)

Turnip Green Pesto
Turnip greens from one bunch baby white turnips, roughly chopped
1 garlic scape or 1 stalk green garlic, chopped
¼ cup pine nuts or pumpkin seeds, toasted
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp lemon juice
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to thin if necessary
Salt and pepper, to taste

Olive oil
Turnips from one bunch baby white turnips, thinly sliced
1 ball of pizza dough (homemade or store bought)
½ cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
4 oz cooked bacon or sautèed mushrooms (optional)

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, add all of the ingredients for the pesto (except the oil).  Process until a paste is formed.  With the motor running slowly add the oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat the oven to 475° F.  Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sliced turnips and cook for about 1 minute per side (you may need to do this in batches).
  3. Roll out your pizza dough onto a pizza stone or pizza pan.  Spread the pesto on top of the crust and layer on the sliced turnips, bacon or mushrooms if using either, both cheeses, and sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes.  Bake in the oven until the crust is golden and crisp and the cheese is bubbling.  About 13-15 minutes.
  4. Remove the pizza from the oven.  Slice and serve.
Recipe adapted from Andrea Bemis's Blog, Dishing Up the Dirt.

June Farm Update

By:  Farmer Richard

It’s been 7 weeks since the last farm update we shared with you on April 19, written with a foot of snow on the ground!  In that update we reported that this year sets the record for the coldest and wettest spring in the forty plus years since I started farming!  Despite that crazy, wet, snowfall in late April, we were able to do our first spring planting on April 24 which is one full week later than any other year I’ve had farming.  The late start to the season would suggest that all of the crops would be later and heat loving crops like tomatoes, sweet corn and peppers would be equally late and have a short season, barely making it before the first fall frost!  Well folks, keep reading as I have some good news!!

Onions in the greenhouse
We had to plan our greenhouse transplants for a “normal” year.  We started planting in late February and actually had some really nice, sunny days in March.  We have new plastic on all the houses, so our early seeded crops took off nicely and even when the days became more cloudy, the crops continued to grow and were ready pretty much on schedule.  As soon as the skies cleared (and the snow melted away), we seized the few dry days we had to prepare ground, lay plastic (for some of our transplants like onions and tomatoes) and tried to keep our field plantings on schedule.  When greenhouse transplants are ready, they really need to get to the field!  However, just because you get a plant to the field it doesn’t mean it’s going to take off and grow, especially when it’s cold as it has been this spring.  

Antonio, Jose Luis & Carlos laying out hoops to cover zucchini
We decided to invest the time and energy into covering some crops with row covers to help trap heat and accelerate plant growth.  We cover some crops every year, but this year we had so many fields to cover that we had to fill an extra 1,000 sandbags and cut 1,000 new wire hoops to put over the beds to keep the covers from damaging the transplants under them.  Without the hoops we risk giving the plants cover abrasion and we need the sandbags to hold all the covers in place!  We couldn’t have covered all of these crops without our amazing crew!  When we had only a few dry days to plant and cover, they were asking “can we work late to finish?”  They repeatedly tell me, “if we don’t plant it and take care of it, we don’t have a crop to harvest!”  It’s important to get the big picture! 

Strawberries right after the covers were taken off.
We are well aware that it is our crew’s dedication to getting the crops planted on time, covered for protection from cold and storms and willingness to work late some nights that has changed the picture from coldest/latest spring to bring us pretty much back on schedule!  Does anyone remember that heat wave we had at the end of May?  We went from cool growing weather to blazing hot!  Those covers we had on everything…..most of them had to come off because now we ran the risk of the crop getting too hot!  We had to uncover the zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.  When we did, we were really happy to see beautiful plants that now appear to be growing at a normal rate!

Zucchini plants thriving after being uncovered!
Vicente and the irrigation crew members receive some acknowledgement here as well.  They have worked diligently to set up all the drip irrigation making it possible to give many of our new transplants a small drink of water mixed with fish and kelp fertilizer shortly after they were planted.  The combination of water and nutrients followed by a week of unseasonable, warm temperatures and we really saw some growth under those covers!  We are now ahead of schedule for zucchini, cucumber, melons, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers!! 

We have two crops of sweet corn and beans up and growing and one planting of edamame.  We lost about 25% of the first planting of corn to the Red Wing Black Birds.  Unfortunately they found that they could dig up the corn seed that was planted shallow because the soil was cold and we wanted the seeds closer to the surface so they would receive heat from the sun.  These were pretty determined birds that didn’t seem to mind the “scare eye” balloons and shiny streamers we put in the field to try to deter them.  They ignored our tactics and continued to dig up the seeds.  So our solution was to feed them organic corn on the edge of the field.  That actually did work as a decoy and and we still have 75% of the crop!  It’s hard to get upset with these birds, after all they have babies to feed and we’re always encouraging parents to feed their young ones more organic vegetables! 

Luis and Felix G mastering the new cultivator
If the weather cooperates we can still have a great year!  Right now we’re working really hard to battle the weeds.  Rafael has done a superb job of flaming crops to kill weeds just before a crop comes up.  Our local Cenex crew has been super cooperative in keeping our flamer filled and repaired.  A few gallons of propane used on the precise day saves hours and hours of weeding later!  The result of being diligent and staying on top of flaming is the main reason we have two beautiful crops of early carrots and five acres of parsnips, cilantro & dill!  Rafael has also done a lot of mechanical cultivating and has been instrumental in directing other cultivating crews.  Luis and Felix G have become masters at operating our new Kult/Cress German cultivator.  They’ve learned how to work together to use this machine to mechanically kill a lot of weeds! 

HVF crew hand weeding parsnips.
Andrea gets huge credit for keeping ahead of our frantic spring planting schedule.  Simon has also been a key player in helping us keep the greenhouse plantings on track and has helped with our “hot water” seed treatment for some seeds and biological seed treatments for others.  Andrea has also worked hard to maintain our seed inventory and provides planting plans for each crew every time they go out to plant.  Gwen is now learning the ropes of managing our records once a planting is done.  It’s super important that we have good, complete records both for our own use as well as for maintaining our ability to trace crops back. 

Our Strawberry Day event is coming up on June 17, and yes it looks like we’ll have strawberries!  We hope to see you at the party, or join us for the weekend and do some camping!  We have had a few CSA member visitors this spring and we welcome more.  If you’re interested in camping, we’d love to offer you a spot in one of our two campgrounds or reserve our cabins for your stay. 

Bee pollinating the strawberries
As I write this article on my back porch, I have marveled at the dozens of hummingbirds and the many bumblebees that I see coming to visit the columbine flowers in our yard.  Our strawberries are being pollinated by small bees I collectively call “sweat bees.” As the light dims and the day turns to night, I am in awe of the whippoorwills singing to me.  After a five year absence when we didn’t hear them in our valley, we’re very thankful that they’ve returned!  Every night we listen as they sing us to sleep and every morning they wake us up like an alarm clock, right outside our window.  Despite a challenging spring, life is good!