Wednesday, June 12, 2019

June 13, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Kale!


Cooking With This Week's Box


Potato Onions: Spicy Kale & Coconut Fried Rice (see below); Spring Noodle Bowl with PeaVine Broth

Garlic Scapes: Spicy Kale & Coconut Fried Rice (see below); Garlic Scape & Mushroom Pizza with Turnips and Bacon; Pasta with Asparagus & Avocado-Pea Vine Cream Sauce (See Below); Spring Noodle Bowl with Pea Vine BrothSpring Salad with Garlic Scape Herbed Croutons






Red Oak & Red Butterhead Lettuce: Spring Salad with Garlic Scape Herbed Croutons

Lacinato Kale: Spicy Kale & Coconut Fried Rice (see below); Lemon Kale Muffins (see below)

Strawberries: Just eat them!

This week we’re going to kick off our cooking discussion with an easy, quick recipe utilizing this week’s featured vegetable, Lacinato Kale.  This recipe for Spicy Kale & Coconut Fried Rice (see below) is very easy to assemble.  You do need to plan in advance to have cold, cooked rice which could be made on the weekend or the night before. If you have the rice, the rest of this recipe comes together very quickly which is great for a weeknight dinner.  This can serve as a vegetarian main dish, or you could add fish, pork or chicken to the fried rice if you wish.  The other recipe featuring kale is for Lemon Kale Muffins (see below).  This comes from veggiedesserts.uk.co, an interesting site that has a lot of different ways to incorporate vegetables into both sweet and savory preparations.  All of the recipes I’ve tried from this site have always been good, so be brave and try some things you may not have considered before…like putting kale in a muffin!

Garlic Scape & Mushroom Pizza with Turnips & Bacon
Photo from DishingUpTheDirt.com
This past week Andrea Bemis posted a recipe on her blog, Dishing Up the Dirt,  for Garlic Scape & Mushroom Pizza with Turnips & Bacon.  This is a very timely recipe since we have both garlic scapes and baby white turnips in the box this week!  You’ll use the turnip greens to make a pesto to spread on the crust.  Then top it off with sautéed scapes, crispy bacon, mushrooms and salad turnips.  Delicious!  Serve this on its own, or with a simple side salad using this week’s Salad Mix tossed with Red Wine Vinaigrette.  This is one of my go-to vinaigrette recipes that is nice to keep in the refrigerator for when you want to put together a nice, simple salad.  Grate a little Parmesan on top and you’re set.

It’s a salad kind of a week!  We’re happy to have these pretty little red oak and red butterhead lettuces.  Here’s another recipe from Andrea Bemis for Spring Salad with Garlic Scape Herbed Croutons.  This recipe would be delicious made with a mix of the two types of head lettuce that are dressed with a light lemon-dijon vinaigrette that contains fresh dill.  The salad is topped off with hard-boiled eggs, salad turnips and radishes as well as garlic scape herbed croutons.  This one is filling enough to stand on its own for a nice lunch or dinner option or add a little grilled chicken.

Creamy Dill Chicken Salad
photo from LifesAmbrosia.com
Dill is the herb of choice this week and if you’re wondering what else to do with it, consider a few of these options.  This recipe for Creamy Dill Chicken Salad would be a nice lunch option.  You can turn it into a sandwich, but don’t forget to load it up with a handful of spinach, salad mix, arugula or several pieces of head lettuce.  Dill is also a natural accompaniment to fish, so these Salmon Cakes with Yogurt & Dill Sauce seem like a good option.  Serve these with a simple salad or perhaps Grilled Asparagus in Dill Butter.

This is our second and final week for pea vine.  If you didn’t have a chance to make the featured recipe from last week, Pasta with Asparagus & Avocado-Pea Vine Cream Sauce, I’d encourage you to give it a try.  I also like to make a simple broth with pea vine, so my other recommendation is this recipe for Spring Noodle Bowl with Pea Vine Broth.

I think we’ve reached the bottom of this week’s box.  Wait, I forgot the strawberries!  What should you do with them?  JUST EAT THEM!  This year’s strawberry season is off to a bit of a late start, but there will be more to come!  I hope you’ll consider joining us for our annual Strawberry Day coming up this Sunday, June 16.  We’ll have delicious strawberry ice cream to celebrate the event and we’re anxious to show you some of our vegetable fields!  Have a good week!

Vegetable Feature: Kale

Green Curly and Lacinato Kale in the field
Kale has come a long way over the past 20-30 years.  What once was a vegetable eaten by hippies or used to decorate salad bars and buffets became a well-known hipster “super-food.”  I’m not sure how kale became so popular, but I’m glad more people learned how to use and enjoy it because it really is a delicious and nutrient packed vegetable and there are so many different ways to incorporate it into your diet!

There are different types of kale.  This week we’re harvesting Lacinato kale as well as green curly kale.  Lacinato kale is sometimes referred to as Toscano, dino kale or dinosaur kale.  This type of kale is dark green in color and has more of a flat, slightly savoyed leaf.  Green curly kale is just as its name says—it’s lighter green in color with ruffled leaves.  We also grow a unique variety called Portuguese kale.  This is a much different kale compared to lacinato and green curly kale.  We’ve grown this in the past and have a small planting for this fall which we plan to harvest with all of you at our fall Harvest party!  Kale is usually available from mid-June through October or early November.  The flavor can change over the course of the season. Right now it is pretty mild flavored.  In the heat of the summer it might have a little stronger flavor and then after it gets kissed by frost, the flavor becomes a little more sweet and mild again.

Kale is part of the family of vegetables called brassicas or crucifers.  Vegetables in this family share some similar nutrient characteristics including being high in vitamins, minerals and sulfur-rich phytonutrients that aid in cancer prevention.  They are also high in fiber and low in calories.  In particular, kale is an excellent source of vitamins K, C, and A as well as lutein and beta carotene.
Portuguese Kale in field

Kale has a pretty mild flavor and can be eaten both raw and cooked.  The texture of a kale leaf is much different than some of the other greens we’ve had this spring such as bok choi and hon tsai tai.  Kale leaves are thicker and require a little more cooking time to make them tender.  If you choose to eat kale raw in salads and such, it helps to marinate the kale in a vinaigrette or dressing for 30 minutes to an hour before serving.  The acidity from vinegar, lemon juice, etc in a vinaigrette helps to soften the leaves.  The great thing about kale salads is that they are more durable in comparison to a lettuce salad.  You can put the dressing on the night before and the salad isn’t soggy the next day!  It actually is better the next day!  In its cooked form, kale is often used in soups.  It can also be steamed, baked, sautéed and even roasted, as in the case of kale chips.  It can also be made into pesto, added to pizzas, incorporated into lasagna, casseroles and gratins.  You can even add it to smoothies and use it to make baked goods!  Yes, you can put kale into muffins, cakes, etc!  Check out this week’s recipe for Lemon Kale Muffins!  Kale pairs well with many other vegetables including mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, other greens, root vegetables and potatoes.  It is also often used in recipes paired with beans and lentils as well as citrus, dairy and pork products.  It is often incorporated into pasta and rice dishes as well.  This week we’ve featured a recipe for Spicy Kale and Coconut Fried Rice that is pretty tasty and very easy to make!

Both lacinato and green curly kale have a thicker stem that the leaf is part of.  It is best to wash the kale in a sink of cold water first, then strip the leaves off the main stem.  Store kale in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or wrapped in a damp towel.  

Spicy Kale & Coconut Fried Rice

Yield:  3-4 servings

2 Tbsp coconut oil or sunflower oil
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp finely chopped green garlic or garlic scapes
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
¾ cup thinly sliced green onions
1 cup chopped seasonal vegetable (mushrooms, carrots, peppers, etc)
1 bunch lacinato or green curly kale
¼ tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
¾ cup large, unsweetened coconut flakes
3 cups cooked and chilled brown rice
1 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1-2 tsp chili garlic sauce or sriracha
1 lime, halved
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
¼ cup toasted sesame seeds (optional)
  1. Heat a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat.  Once the pan is hot enough, add 1-2 tsp oil and swirl the pan to coat the bottom.  Pour in the beaten eggs and cook, stirring frequently, until the eggs are scrambled and lightly set.   Transfer the eggs to an empty bowl.  Wipe out the pan if necessary with a paper towel.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and add the garlic, ginger, green onions and additional vegetable of your choosing.  Cook until vegetables are just starting to get tender, stirring frequently, for 30 seconds or longer.  Add the kale and salt.  Continue to cook until the kale is wilted and tender, stirring frequently, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Transfer the contents of the pan to the bowl with the eggs.
  3. Add the remaining 2-3 tsp oil to the pan.  Pour in the coconut flakes and cook, stirring frequently until the flakes are lightly golden, about 30 seconds.  Add the rice to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is hot, about 3 minutes.
  4. Pour the contents of the bowl back into the pan, breaking up the scrambled egg with your spatula or spoon.  Once warmed, remove the pan from the heat.
  5. Add the tarmari, chili garlic sauce and juice of ½ lime.  Stir to combine.  Taste, and if it’s not fantastic yet, add another teaspoon of tamari or a pinch of salt, as needed.
  6. Slice the remaining ½ lime into wedges, then divide the fried rice into individual bowls.  Garnish with wedges of lime, cilantro and toasted sesame seeds.  
Recipe adapted from cookieandkate.com

Lemon Kale Muffins

Yield:  12 muffins



Photo from veggiedesserts.co.uk
2 cups packed raw kale leaves
½ cup unsalted butter, softened 
¾ cup sugar 
2 eggs 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1 lemon, zest and juice 
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour 
1 tsp baking powder 
½ teaspoon salt 

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.  Line or grease a muffin pan. 
  2. Tear the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces and boil or steam for a few minutes until tender. Refresh in cold water, drain and puree in a food processor or blender (it will still be a bit stringy). Set aside. 
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then beat in the kale, vanilla, zest and lemon juice. 
  4. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and stir to gently combine. 
  5. Fill the muffin cups ¾ full and bake for 15-20 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes then remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Recipe borrowed from www.veggiedesserts.co.uk.


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

June 6, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Pea Vine!


Cooking With This Week's Box

Pea Vine: Pasta with Asparagus & Avocado-Pea Vine Cream Sauce (See Below); Pea Vine & Spinach Green Drink (See Below);  Pea Vine Cream Cheese

Potato Onions: Pasta with Asparagus & Avocado-Pea Vine Cream Sauce (See Below); Pea Vine Cream CheeseCreamy Turnip Grits & Greens with Brown-Butter Hot Sauce Vinaigrette

Green Garlic: Pasta with Asparagus & Avocado-Pea Vine Cream Sauce (See Below); Creamy Turnip Grits & Greens with Brown-Butter Hot Sauce VinaigretteGreen Pancakes


Asparagus: Pasta with Asparagus & Avocado-Pea Vine Cream Sauce (See Below); Pea Vine Cream CheeseBaked Asparagus Fries


Cilantro: Cilantro Lime DressingEasy One Skillet Creamy Cilantro Lime ChickenPea Vine & Spinach Green Drink (See Below) 

Baby Spinach: Pasta with Asparagus & Avocado-Pea Vine Cream Sauce (See Below); Pea Vine & Spinach Green Drink (See Below);  Green PancakesSpinach-Mushroom Scrambled Eggs

Salad Mix: Cilantro Lime Dressing

Lets kick off this week’s cooking discussion with a simple, yet tasty and very green pasta dish.  This week’s featured recipe is Pasta with Asparagus & Avocado-Pea Vine Cream Sauce (See Below).  Last week a CSA member sent me a link to a recipe for Avocado Pasta with Asparagus and Peas.  She had made her own version of this recipe using a lot of the vegetables in the box and based upon her recommendation (as well as her husband’s endorsement of this “really good recipe”), I decided to give it a try and adapt it to this week’s box contents.  There are a couple steps to this recipe, but it comes together really easily and uses a whole bunch of pea vine, potato onions, green garlic and asparagus.  It’s creamy without being too heavy.  You can serve it as the main dish or as a side along with grilled chicken, fish, etc.  If you're short on time, are looking for a quick way to eat your greens, or you just want something healthy and invigorating, try the recipe for Pea Vine & Spinach Green Drink (See Below).  It's super simple, travels well and gives you a little burst of feel good energy.  

Creamy Turnip Grits & Greens with Brown-Butter Hot
Sauce Vinaigrette
Last week we featured baby white turnips, so if you missed last week’s feature article and recipe, take a minute to check out the article as well as the recipe for Creamy Turnip Grits & Greens with Brown-Butter Hot Sauce Vinaigrette.  It’s a tasty recipe that is good for breakfast, lunch or dinner and leftovers reheat easily.  If you’re looking for another way to use turnips, consider making these tasty Pancetta Wrapped Baby Turnips.  You may want to cut the turnips in half this week as they are a little bit larger. This recipe uses just the turnips, but don’t throw away the greens!  Chop them up and saute them with a little bit of butter or add them to scrambled eggs, rice, etc.

Asparagus Fries
photo from damndelicious.net
Looking for a classy summer appetizer to have with friends for a summer get together?  Check out this recipe for Vanilla Butter with Radishes.  Serve the radishes whole with the tops still on, or cut them in half if they’re a little bigger.  This vanilla butter is easy to make and the only other thing you need is a little salt.  Serve it along with crackers or some good crusty bread.  You could also make a batch of Pea Vine Cream Cheese to serve with crackers and, if you haven’t already used your asparagus, roast some on a sheet pan and serve spears of Baked Asparagus Fries.  Add a glass of wine and you’re set!

While we’re waiting for some of our other fresh herbs to grow big enough for harvest, we’re happy to have cilantro available to fill the herb slot.  This recipe for Cilantro Lime Dressing is on the agenda for this week.  The basic vinaigrette will be good tossed with this week’s salad mix.  You can turn it into a full meal by adding some chickpeas, grilled steak or chicken to the salad.  The author also suggests adding yogurt to make it a creamy dressing that could be used as a sauce for grilled meat or roasted vegetables or as a sauce for tacos or the like.

Green Pancakes
Another option for employing this week’s cilantro is Easy One Skillet Creamy Cilantro Lime Chicken.  This is an easy recipe that will allow you to have dinner on the table in 30 minutes!  Serve this with Green Pancakes and you have a complete meal.  The green pancakes might add a little time to your dinner prep, but they can be made in advance and reheated in the toaster or oven.  This is a savory pancake made with spinach (or any other green you have available) and lots of green garlic.  You can serve them with a dollop of sour cream, but in this meal they’ll be really good with the cream sauce on the chicken.

I think we’ve made it to the bottom of the box.  If you have any other greens hanging out in the refrigerator, use them to make Spinach-Mushroom Scrambled Eggs.  The recipe calls for spinach, but you can substitute any greens you have (radish tops, turnip tops, hon tsai tai from the week before, etc).
 
That pretty much finishes off box number 5!  What’s coming up for next week?  Well, we’re going to be picking strawberries very soon and the garlic scapes are starting to push up from the center of the garlic stalks.  We also have our eyes on a gorgeous field of head lettuce, including a deep, dark cherry red oak lettuce with soft rounded leaves. Have a great week!

Vegetable Feature: Pea Vine

Pea Vine is actually an immature pea plant that is harvested before the vine starts to develop blossoms.  It has a mild, sweet pea flavor and may be eaten raw or lightly cooked.  We look forward to pea vine every year because it has such a bright, gentle pea flavor and is a nutrient dense green that just seems to leave you feeling invigorated and refreshed!

While the tendrils and leaves are tender, the main stem can sometimes get tough depending on how mature the plant is at harvest.  This week’s pea vine is at an in between stage.  Most of the upper stem is still tender while the lower portion may be a little more coarse.  In past years we’ve had members comment that the pea vine is “stringy.”  Here’s how we tackle this issue. If you find this to be the case, pick the tender leaves, tendrils and thin stems off the main stem.  I must admit, I don’t like to spend a lot of time sorting through a bunch of pea vine and I prefer to use as much of the bunch as I can...plus there is a lot of flavor in the stem!  Thus, when the pea vine is more mature and some of the stems are more tough, I tend to use pea vine in ways that allow me to chop it finely in a blender or food processor.  The other way I like to use pea vine is in sauces, soups or broth.  I generally chop the pea vine into smaller pieces and add it to hot broth or a sauce base.  Let the pea vine simmer briefly to extract the flavor, but don’t overcook it or you’ll lose the bright pea flavor.  Once you’ve infused the flavor of the pea vine into the sauce or broth, you can strain it out to remove it.  If you’d like to extract just a little more flavor, blend the mixture before straining it.


Pea Vine Pesto Pasta Salad
Pea vine goes well with cream, butter, cheese, pancetta, prosciutto, bacon and ham, lemon, lime, mint, parsley, chives, spring onions, green garlic, radishes, asparagus, and mushrooms.  Some of my favorite past recipes using pea vine include Pea Vine Cream Cheese, Pea Vine Pesto Pasta Salad and Spring Noodle Bowl with Pea Vine Broth

As I mentioned in the introduction, pea vine, as with many greens, is packed with nutrients.  Farmer Richard always says “Eat your greens every day!”  Why is this so important?  Greens are rich sources of a variety of minerals, vitamins, enzymes and antioxidants.  When we include them in our diets on a daily basis, we’re essentially giving our bodies the daily boost they need to remove toxins from our systems, support our immune system and fuel our metabolic pathways that produce energy.  Of course this is a very simplified explanation of what really happens in our amazing, intricate body systems, but the bottom line is pretty simple…eat your greens!  From time to time you might even want to “drink your greens!”  Some of you may be accustomed to adding greens such as kale and spinach to a fruity smoothie.  You can also make more savory green drinks that are not only a great nutrient boost, but they’re convenient to take with you to work as part of your lunch or an afternoon snack.  In addition to nutrients, they’re also a great way to meet your daily water intake and, if you don’t strain them, you’ll get some fiber as well!  So this week I included a very simple green drink recipe that includes not only the vibrant, delicate flavor of pea vine, but it also includes spinach and cilantro.  It’s simple, refreshing and if you’re simply running short on time and need something quick you can pull this off in short order. 

I hope you enjoy and appreciate the delicate flavor of pea vine this week and remember, within the next month we’ll be enjoying peas in the pod!

Pasta with Asparagus & Avocado-Pea Vine Cream Sauce

Yield:  4 servings

8 oz small pasta (e.g., orecchiette, macaroni, fusilli, etc)
1 bunch pea vine
1 stalk green garlic, chopped finely
1 medium ripe avocado
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp salt plus more to taste
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 green onions (1 cup thinly sliced)
2 cups fresh baby spinach or arugula
Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta and set aside.
  2. While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce.  Cut the bottom one-inch off the pea vine stems.  Finely chop the pea vine, leaves and stem.  Place the pea vine and chopped green garlic in a food processor or blender.  Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop the flesh out of the skin.  Add it to the food processor along with yogurt, lemon juice, ½ tsp salt and ground black pepper.  Process on high for 20-30 seconds.  Stop and scrape down the bowl.  Continue to process until the mixture is well combined.  It will be very creamy, but not completely smooth.
  3. Once the pasta is cooked and the sauce is made, heat olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat.  Add the green onion and saute briefly until softened.  Add the asparagus and saute for several minutes, stirring periodically, until the asparagus is bright green and cooked al dente (tender but still a little crunchy).
  4. Add the baby spinach along with a few tablespoons of the pasta water.  Cover the pan and steam just until the spinach is wilted, 1-2 minutes.  Remove the lid and add the cooked pasta and the sauce to the pan.  Stir to combine.  Add additional pasta water if the sauce is too thick, or simmer for a few minutes if the sauce is too thin.  Once warmed through, taste and adjust the seasoning with additional lemon juice, salt and pepper as needed.
  5. Serve hot with freshly grated Parmesan.

This recipe was adapted from one entitled “Avocado Pasta with Asparagus and Peas,” originally published on www.wellplated.com.  

Pea Vine & Spinach Green Drink



Yield:  1 quart

3 cups roughly chopped pea vine
2 cups fresh spinach
½ cup chopped cilantro
2 cups water
4 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 to 1 ½ cups ice cubes
¼ tsp salt, plus more to taste

  1. Put all ingredients in a blender.  If you can’t fit all the greens in the blender cup, just put about half in at first with the remaining ingredients.  Blend briefly to create more space and then add remaining greens.
  2. Blend on high speed until all ingredients are finely chopped and the mixture is smooth.
  3. If you want a very smooth, velvety juice, pour it through a fine mesh strainer before serving.  If you don’t mind a little thickness in your juice from the vegetable pulp, then skip the straining step.  There may also be a layer of foam on top from the high speed blender action.  Just take a spoon and skim it off the top.
  4. Adjust the seasoning to your liking with more salt and lemon juice.  Serve over ice for a cold drink or gently and briefly heat it to lukewarm on the stove top for a warm drink.  Store any extras in the refrigerator.  The juice will separate in storage, just shake it before serving.

Recipe by Chef Andrea

June 2019 Farm & Crop Update

By Farmer/Chef Andrea

A sunny day in the valley & a view of our gorgeous garlic crop!
Here we are in the first week of June and it’s FINALLY starting to feel like early summer!  Strawberries will be ripening soon and the zucchini plants have the cutest little fruit on them.  We’ve had a good, yet cold and wet start to this year.  Every good chat with a farmer should include some talk about the weather, so here’s our report.  In April & May we had 8 inches of snow plus some hail, 11.25 inches of rain and only 12 dry days!  Through it all, our crew has been fantastic!  We had some days when it was too wet to do field work, so some crew took a little time off.  As soon as the weather cleared and the fields dried out just a bit, they were back out working hard with focus and determination to get things planted, cultivated, etc.  They’ve worked some longer days when necessary as well as some weekends to help keep us on track.  In Richard’s own words, “Considering the conditions we’ve had, I think we’ve done darn good!”

Despite a few weather delays, we’ve been able to get things planted in a timely manner.  Our greenhouses are pretty empty right now, which is exactly as it should be if we’re on schedule with transplanting.  Last week we were biting our nails as our beautiful tomato plants grew taller and taller in the greenhouse while it rained outside.  It’s easiest to transplant them when they are short or we risk breaking them.  Thankfully, we were able to get them in the field by the end of last week and we didn’t lose too many to breakage!  By the end of the day Saturday they were standing up tall and looking perky with a nice bed of straw mulch lining the wheel tracks.

There's a wolf in the field!  Oh wait, that's a pumpkin!
Last Friday, we pulled out our second water-wheel transplanter and had a second crew to transplant our first melons and watermelons.  As if we didn’t already have enough to transplant, we also knew our first shipment of sweet potato plants was on its way.  When they come in, they need to be transplanted as soon as possible.  UPS delivered them late Friday afternoon and within less than an hour the tomato planting crew was ready to move on to their next mission.  Tomas came in to get the first few boxes of sweet potato plants and they hustled to get some planted before the end of the day.  On Saturday morning, the other transplanting crew joined them and collectively they were able to plant them all with a little extra time to also plant jicama and pumpkins!  We’re expecting another shipment of plants to arrive this Thursday, so hopefully we’ll have the field totally planted by the end of the week! While they don’t look like much right now, we’re crossing our fingers for an awesome sweet potato crop!

This year's potato field, freshly cultivated!
While we’re talking potatoes, I might add that our potato field looks awesome!  We were able to utilize the dry fertilizer applicator on the planter this spring which allowed us to apply fertilizer in the furrow as the seed was being planted.  It was worth the extra effort as the plants are growing nicely and look very healthy.  The cultivating crew has stayed on top of weed control, which also makes this a lovely field to see.  Look for some delicious early potatoes in your box coming up in July!

Speaking of lovely fields, I need to mention our onion field.  Not only are the onions looking really healthy, but we’re already on top of hand weeding so the field is clean.  When you see the field you might say, “Well it still looks like there are a lot of weeds in between the beds!”  Wrong! The green in between the beds is actually white Dutch clover and creeping red fescue, short stature cover crops intentionally seeded  between the beds.  This is a new technique Richard is implementing with crops planted on beds covered with plastic mulch.  There are several reasons for this.  First, it’s always challenging to control weeds in between the beds.  If it gets too wet, we can’t get in to cultivate.  If the onions get too tall, we can’t pass through with a tractor or we risk damaging onion tops.  So one reason is to compete against weeds.  Another reason is to establish a good root system to hold the soil in place.  If we get hard rains, the water drains off the fields by running down the wheel tracks between the beds.  Unless we have something to hold the dirt in place, the water will wash it away.  Lastly, any cover crop will add to the health of the soil.

Onion Field with Interseeded Cover Crop
What else do we have to report on?  Well, the first crop of green beans are up, fenced to keep the deer out and look like a really good stand.  It’s always challenging to germinate the first crop when the soil is cold and wet, but we managed to get a good stand the first time out!  Our first crop of sweet corn is also up, although it’s a bit of a thin stand.  Some of the seed simply didn’t germinate in the cold, wet soil.  Don’t worry, we have second plantings of corn, beans and edamame already planted and up!

This week's cilantro crop....as far as the eye can see!
While we’ve been busy getting crops planted, we’ve also been harvesting early season vegetables for your boxes as well as selling what we have available to our wholesale and retail partners.  We’re happy to have more to offer and are pleased our first few crops of radishes and cilantro are yielding well! These are some of our major “bread and butter” crops.  In addition to harvest, it’s also haymaking time!  Over the weekend we cut our first planting of hay, got it dried and baled before Tuesday morning’s rain.  In addition to hay, we have some other nice fields of cover crops that are ready for their next phase.  Some of the cover crops we planted last fall will be harvested for use as mulch in other vegetable fields.  In other fields, we’ll chop the cover crop plants back onto the field and then incorporate the plant matter back into the soil.  This is called “green manure.” 
Richard standing in a field with four different cover crop plants

I walked through one field with Richard and the rye grass was nearly as tall as him!  In addition to rye grass, there were also thin stalks of cereal rye as well as hairy vetch and mammoth clover.  Why so many plants in the mix?  Well, each plant has a purpose.  Vetch and clover are nitrogen fixing which means they extract nitrogen from the atmosphere and convert it to nitrogen that is bioavailable to plants.  Rye serves as a scavenger crop meaning it takes nitrogen from the soil and stores it.  Before the cover crop was planted last fall, we applied compost to the field.  At that time, only half of the nitrogen potential was bioavailable.  The rye, through its root system, scavenged and took up the remainder and stored it for us.  Now, when we chop the plant and put it back in the soil, it’s there for us to use!  Thankfully, even some of our late planted fields of cover crops did really well and have produced very rich crops.

Strawberry Blossoms and Tiny Strawberries on Healthy Plants
Well, this is by no means the entire report of what’s going on at HVF, rather a little glimpse of what’s happening here.  If you’d like to see it for yourself, join us for our upcoming Strawberry Day event!  Our annual event is on Sunday, June 16.  We’ll enjoy a potluck lunch before we do field tours which will end in the strawberry field.  You can pick (and eat) strawberries to your heart’s content.  Of course, we’ll celebrate the day with our traditional strawberry ice cream.  You can mosey around the farm, visit with the animals, and just enjoy a little time in nature.  We hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

May 30, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Baby White Turnips!


Cooking With This Week's Box

Potato Onions: Creamy Turnip Grits & Greens (see below); Cilantro Lime Rice; Taste of Home’s Radish Dip; Potsticker Stir-Fry






Mini Romaine Lettuce:  Creamy Green Garlic & Feta Dressing

Baby White Turnips: Creamy Turnip Grits & Greens (see below)



Creamy Turnip Grits & Greens
This week’s featured vegetables is one of my favorite spring selections, baby white turnips.  While these are delicious simply sautéed in butter with the greens wilted on top, I wanted to try to come up with some other ways to use them.  So, with a little inspiration from Chef Vivian Howard, I came up with this recipe for Creamy Turnip Grits & Greens (see below).  Turnips are a popular vegetable in the south, and grits are also a popular southern dish.  So, I picked up Chef Vivian’s cookbook to see what she had to say about grits and turnips.  Chef Vivian is author of Deep Run Roots.  She also has several restaurants in North Carolina and was the star of PBS series, A Chef’s Life.  I consider her to be an expert on food from the Carolina Coastal plain.  This recipe is simple, but full of flavor.  If you’ve never cooked grits, it’s pretty darn simple and is similar to cooking oatmeal or risotto.  The component that kind of brings this whole dish together is the super simple and tasty Brown-Butter Hot Sauce Vinaigrette that you drizzle on top right before you eat it.  If you don’t care for hot sauce, I’d still encourage you to try this in a small quantity because the flavors are so good together with the grits and turnips.  If you like things hot, have at it!  This dish is hearty enough to be a main dish on its own, or serve it in a smaller portion as a side dish with pork chops, grilled or fried chicken, or for breakfast with scrambled or fried eggs.  It’s a good one, if I do say so myself!

Rhubarb Turnovers, photo from epicurious.com
Before I go any further, I just want to applaud all the members who are participating in our Facebook Group!!  If you haven’t joined the group yet, I’d encourage you to do so.  There has been some great dialogue this year as well as a lot of great recipes, pictures, suggestions, idea sharing, etc.  I’ve really been enjoying seeing what you’re making and have picked up some new recipe ideas as well. 

This recipe for Rhubarb Turnovers is a recipe that was shared in the group and was made by two different people who both verify they are delicious!  If you prefer to use your rhubarb in something that is not pie or pie-like, check out this post on Naturally Ella that includes links to non-pie recipes such as Curried Lentils and Rhubarb Chutney.  She recommends serving these lentils with fresh cilantro, which you happen to have in this week’s box!


Creamy Green Garlic & Feta Dressing
Speaking of cilantro, this recipe for Cilantro Lime Rice popped into my inbox earlier this week, and it looks simple and delicious!  The author, Jeanine, recommends serving it as a side dish with Asian or Mexican food OR turn it into a Burrito Bowl.  I don’t have a specific recipe for this concept, so you’ll have to be creative and just build your own.  My suggestions would be to use this rice as the base of the bowl and then add some black beans, thinly sliced radishes, some chopped romaine lettuce and top off the whole thing with a generous drizzle of this Creamy Green Garlic & Feta Dressing, a recipe we featured on our blog back in 2017.

What else can we do with radishes this week?  Have we exhausted all the options for how to enjoy radishes in the spring when they are abundant?  NO WAY!!  Consider turning this week’s radishes into Radish Dip.  You can try Martha Stewart’s version which includes sour cream and feta or you can try this Taste of Home version that is based on cream cheese.  Either one will make a delicious dip to serve with Romaine lettuce leaves or baby bok choi stems for dipping, or you can use it as a spread on toast, bagels, sandwiches, OR use it as a condiment to serve with hot scrambled eggs or possibly that burrito bowl concept we just talked about!

Potsticker Stir-Fry
Photo from NomNomPaleo.com
This is our second and likely final week for Hon Tsai Tai, an unique spring green with pretty little yellow flowers!  If you didn’t have a chance to make the Hon Tsai Tai and Shiitake Potstickers featured in our newsletter last week, consider adding these to this week’s menu.  The recipe is written as vegetarian, but you can add ground pork to the filling if you like.  If you don’t have time to make the potstickers or you’re looking for a gluten free or low carb alternative to the dumpling wrappers, try this recipe for Potsticker Stir-Fry.  Use the hon tsai tai in place of the napa cabbage.  This was a suggestion offered by a member in our Facebook Group—thanks!

This week we’re excited to include these pretty little baby bok choi. Bok choi can be used interchangeably with hon tsai tai, but it’s also delicious when simply steamed, stir-fried or eaten raw.   Here’s a quick recipe for 10-Minute Lemon Garlic Sauteed Bok Choi.  Serve this simple preparation alongside a grilled steak, piece of salmon or even a rotisserie chicken you pick up at the grocery store already cooked!  You’ll have dinner on the table super fast!


Bok Choi Salad with Sesame Almond Crunch
If you’re looking for a raw bok choi salad option, I can’t help but mention this recipe for Bok Choi Salad with Sesame Almond Crunch.  I’ve mentioned it before and I’m sure I’ll share it again—it’s so delicious!

Ok friends, we’re rolling into the home stretch with just a bunch of asparagus remaining.  What will we do with this lovely vegetable this week?  How about a Roasted Asparagus Grilled Cheese Sandwich!   The recipe doesn’t call for it, but I think this sandwich would be pretty tasty with a piece of prosciutto added to it.  Here’s another great recipe for Spring Tacos with Shrimp, Asparagus and Radish Leaf Pesto.  Did you really think I’d make it through the entire box and neglect to give you a recipe to utilize those radish tops?!

I think we made it to the bottom of the box.  I hope you are having fun cooking and eating through the box each week.  Cooking is supposed to be fun, so don’t forget to laugh a little and enjoy the ride.  Have a great week!

Vegetable Feature: Baby White Turnips

By Chef Andrea

Classy, pristine, delicate, mild, tender & sweet…these are just a few of the words we find ourselves using to describe baby white turnips, one of our favorite spring vegetables.  Baby white turnips are classified as a salad turnip and are also referred to as Tokyo or Hakurei turnips which are varietal names for turnips in this class.  Both the roots and the green tops are tender, mild and edible.  They may be eaten raw or lightly cooked.

This turnip variety thrives in the cool of spring and again later in the fall.  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 storage 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 which is why we value them as an 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, wash both the roots and greens 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 and the preparation simple.  You can simply saute them in butter, stir-fry or roast them.  The greens may be added to raw salads, or lightly saute or wilt them in a little butter.  Two of our favorite baby white turnip recipes from past newsletters include White Turnip Salad with Miso Ginger Vinaigrette and Turnip Greens Pesto Pizza.  We hope you enjoy these tasty little gems!

Creamy Turnip Grits & Greens


Yield:  4 servings as a main dish or 6 servings as a side



1 bunch baby white turnips
1 Tbsp butter
¾ cup minced green garlic and/or green onions (lower portion)
¾ cup thinly sliced green garlic and/or green onion tops
1 cup grits
3-4 cups water
1 ½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
¼ tsp ground black pepper, plus more to taste
¼ cup cream
½ cup grated Parmesan or cheddar cheese
5-6 oz bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces and cooked until crispy (optional)

Brown-Butter Hot Sauce Vinaigrette:
4 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp hot sauce
¼ tsp salt



  1. First, cut turnips from the tops, wash thoroughly and cut into small dice.  Thoroughly wash the greens.  Shake off excess water and thinly slice them.  Set aside
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, add the diced turnips.  Cook, stirring periodically, until turnips are tender and lightly browned.  Once browned, remove turnips from the pan with a spoon, leaving the extra butter in the pan.  Set turnips aside.
  3. Add minced green garlic and/or onions to the pan.  If necessary, add a little more butter.  Satue over medium heat until fragrant and softened.  
  4. Add 3 cups of water to the pan and stir in the grits along with salt and pepper.  Bring the grits to a gentle simmer and try to hold this temperature steady through the cooking.  Stir the grits frequently to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan and keep the heat gentle.  (Alternatively, you can cook the grits in a double boiler pan so you don’t have to worry about them sticking).  Gently simmer for 20-40 minutes.  When you first start cooking them, they’ll look grainy and separated.  As they cook they’ll start to soften and become thicker and creamy.  The cooking time will vary depending on how coarse the grits are, so you’ll have to observe and taste them to determine when they are done.  You’ll know they are done when they are soft, tender and do not taste starchy.  If they get too thick, you may need to add more water to thin them out.  You want them to be the consistency of moderately thick oatmeal.
  5. When the grits are fully cooked, stir in ¼ cup of cream and the cheese.  Once fully incorporated, stir in the turnips as well as the greens.  Stir and continue to simmer for just a few more minutes to allow the greens to fully wilt down.  Once fully wilted, remove from heat and taste them one more time.  Add additional salt and black pepper as needed.  You can also adjust the consistency at this point if they are too thick. (just stir in a little warm water)
  6. Just before serving, make the brown-butter hot sauce vinaigrette.  It’s best to have all the ingredients measured out in advance because this is a quick cooking process!  
  7. In an 8-inch saute pan, melt the 4 Tbsp of butter.  Do not use a cast-iron or black bottomed skillet for this because you will not be able to see the butter browning.  Once the butter melts, it will foam and fizz and eventually start to brown a little on the bottom.  When you see this beginning to happen, make sure you swirl the pan around so that all the milk solids brown evenly.  Do not walk away!  Once the butter is nutty in color as well as aroma, carefully stir in the lemon juice, hot sauce, and salt.  Let it bubble up for about 15 seconds, then pull it off the heat and get ready to spoon it over the hot grits!
  8. Serve the grits in a bowl garnished with the thinly sliced green garlic and/or onion tops, crumbled bacon (if using), and a drizzle of the brown-butter hot sauce vinaigrette.  Enjoy!
This recipe was written by Chef Andrea with inspiration and guidance from Chef Vivian Howard’s cookbook, Deep Run Roots.  The recipe for Brown-Butter Hot Sauce Vinaigrette is 100% credited to Chef Vivian!