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I can remember back to a time that I just didn’t get the appeal of fennel. This course, stringy, strongly scented vegetable didn’t seem worth the trouble to cook. But now I can honestly say that it is among my very favorite vegetables. I fully realize that there are many of our CSA members who still don’t “get” fennel, and if you are among these, you simply must try Jeanne’s recipe for roast fennel and onions.

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kale-lacinato

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Kale is a type of cabbage that does not form a head from the central leaves.We grow three varieties of kale, green curly leaf or Scotch kale, Lacinato or Dinosaur kale, and Red Russian kale.  Kale is high in beta carotene, vitamin K and vitamin C and calcium.

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kohlrabiKohlrabi is an odd vegetable that I think is often bought more for appearance than for the desire to eat it. Looking like something from a science-fiction movie, they come in lovely deep purple or jade green, and the leaves come up from all over what seems to be the root.

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Lettuce Rows

Lettuce Rows

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Lettuces grow exceptionally well here at our home farm near the coast. They love the cool foggy summer weather. We grow Red Leaf, Green Leaf, Butter Lettuces, Little Gem, and Romaine varieties and offer a mix of baby salad greens in our early spring boxes.

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Think of how often a dish starts with a sauté of onions, carrots, and celery. In Italy this combination is called soffritto. In France it is cooked with butter and called mirepoix, but for general purposes I like it cooked with a light flavored olive oil or even grapeseed oil, which is neutrally flavored, so I call it by the Italian name. I like to make this in larger batches, removing some when it is still pale, or blond, then cooking the remaining amount until it is a darker shade of amber, giving it a caramelized flavor. I sometimes even let some go until it is quite dark, like tobacco, for a very deep flavor. I then freeze it in batches. I use large zip bags and flatten out the soffritto in the bags, making it easier to stack and easier to simply break off the amount I wish to use. Some people freeze it in ice trays as you might pesto. However you store it, having this in the freezer is like having a time machine. It can make having good tasting food on the table much quicker, or if you have several pans going at once it is quite helpful as well as it is easy to burn smaller amounts of onions.

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Vinaigrettes are usually thought of as oil and vinegar dressing. In actuality, vinaigrettes can be used as a sauce, especially for fish and poultry, on sandwiches, as a marinade, or even as a pasta sauce. Vinaigrettes are great poured over roasted vegetables such as potatoes, parsnips, and beets, while still warm so the flavors are absorbed. This makes an excellent salad, and is, in fact, how German potato salad is made.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 bunch of beets
1 teaspoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of water
1-2 tablespoons vinegar such as white balsamic or sherry

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Straightforward lemony dressing, with Meyers supplying wonderful floral notes and lower acid. This recipe has boundless uses.

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You can do this with swordfish as well, and you can cook your fish in the oven if you wish.

INGREDIENTS:

4 servings salmon, 4-6 ounces each (or how ever large you like them), skin and bones removed
Salt and pepper to taste
½ teaspoon coriander seeds, powdered
½ tablespoon fresh marjoram, chopped finely
A little garlic powder, or 1 clove garlic grated on a Micro-plane or ginger grater
Olive oil as needed, around 1-2 tablespoons at most
1 recipe Celery Herb Salad (see recipe)
 

METHOD:

If using fresh garlic, mix the grated garlic paste with 2 tablespoon of olive oil. Let oil sit 10 minutes so flavors marry, then paint onto the non-skin side of the fish evenly. If using garlic powder, lightly rub the fish with a little oil, then sprinkle with garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper, dust with coriander seed, and scatter the marjoram over the fish. Allow to sit at least 15-20 minutes so flavors can marry with the fish.

Fire up the grill or crank the oven to 425°F. If not grilling the fish, heat a skillet large enough to hold all the fish without crowding and that can go in the oven.

When the grill is ready or the oven is up to temp and the pan is hot, cook the fish. For the grill, cook evenly for both sides. In a pan, cook for 4 minutes only on the non-skin side, so you can see the color of the fish in contact changing color about 1/8th of an inch in or more. Transfer the pan to the oven and finish cooking. NOW-here is the trick to cooking fish; eight minutes to the inch. If your salmon is 1½-inches thick, total cooking time should be right around 12 minutes. So if the fish in the pan has been on the stove-top 4 minutes, give it eight more in the oven. On the grill give it 7-8 minutes on the top, then flip it for the rest of the time. One way to tell if the salmon is done is the push with your finger on a thinner part near the edge and see if the fish readily flakes under a moderate pressure.

Cook until the fish is done, then plate. Pile the Celery Herb Salad in mounds on top of the fish and serve.

Serves: 4

Source: Chef Andrew E Cohen

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Based on a dish I had out recently. You can adjust the ginger to your liking, and if you run hot water over the ginger if will mitigate some of the heat while leaving the gingery flavor behind. Although the recipe looks long, it is a quick and flexible dish to make. Add beef or tofu to the sauté if you wish, and serve with rice.

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Although it says “Creamy” in the title, there is no cream, just a bit of yogurt for the smooth texture. You can, of course, skip the yogurt and the soup will still be quite good, if a little sweeter perhaps. The tomato adds acid and brightens the flavors of the soup, while adding liquid as well. As to seasoning, this soup is amenable to so many different herbs it makes this a truly versatile dish. The vegetable garnish is optional, so this can be a quick and simple dish as well.

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I have always tried to come up with interesting ways to use the leaves of celery besides dumping them in stock. Here’s one that is a nice topping for grilled fish like salmon or sword, or to top pork chops or lamb meat balls.

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Tractor CatWe’ve been busy this last week trying to get caught up with maintenance on our tractors and trucks. It’s always a challenge at this time of year because the trucks are out on the road most days, and the tractors are out in the field. One of the big advantages in having our own shop, as humble as it is, is that, in addition to saving us a lot of money, it is simply quicker and easier to do routine maintenance ourselves rather than having to shuttle a truck to an outside shop and back. And I can have my feline helper with me.

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This dressing was concocted for Grilled Strawberries and Little Gem Salad, but would work well with grilled shrimp, lamb meatballs, or falafel. It would go nicely with Herbed Chicken Paillards in a sandwich as well.

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Although the combination of may seem odd to some, the tomato forms the bridge here between the oxalic roughness of the spinach and the sweetness of the strawberry with its acid and sweetness. The crunch of the spinach and the plush softness of the berries and tomatoes is pleasing to the palate. The lettuce is used here to add loft to the salad and lighten it a little. Be sure to use enough oil to soften the bite of the acid in the dressing or it will team with the spinach to taste aggressive. If you have almond or hazelnut oil, use some in the dressing and add some roasted nuts to match the oil for added depth.

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Although if pressed I’d call this a salad, but it is also pretty much a meal in itself. Lots of crunchy textures, sweet and savory flavors, fruity top notes (tomato) and earthy nuttiness (pepitas), all swathed in refreshing mint and parsley. Add some cheese, cold chicken, cold cuts, or pressed tofu to make it even more substantial.

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This “risotto” will be more toothsome than one made with rice, and will have a deeper flavor that contrasts nicely with the bright flavors of the squash and tomatoes. The more colors of squash the better.

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Use this dressing for the Spinach, Tomato, and Strawberry Salad if you have the oil and nuts. This dressing will go well with many things. Anything with spinach, and especially arugula, match well with this dressing, as do crisped porcini mushrooms. Use this dressing for a salad if arugula and cress to top thin pan seared pork chops nut crusted swordfish. For nut oils, I like the Tourangelle line of oils. I find them to be full flavored, fresh, and relatively inexpensive for the quality, which I find to be consistent. If you wish, you can substitute almond oil for different salads.

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berryThe strawberries are coming in very strong now, so we’ll continue Strawberry U-picks through the month of August. The berry patch is right next to the Farmstand this year, so we can spread out the U-picking time window to accommodate more of your schedules. Come anytime between 10:30 AM and 4:00 PM on Saturdays or Sundays. Just check in with Mike at the farmstand first to weigh your containers or get an empty one from us.

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For this dish low moisture content squash such as Costata Romanesco or Cousa are ideal, but you can do this with any summer squash, really. The trick is to merely sear the outside of the squash for flavor and color, not to cook it through. A fixed-blade slicer or mandolin is great for prepping this dish, otherwise use a thin bladed razor sharp knife to prevent the squash from cracking.

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If you do not have filet beans, try this with Romano beans cut into 1-inch diamonds instead.

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Not truly pickled, these beans are what I call “quickles”. The recipe differs from most of my quickle recipes in that the quickling solution is a vinaigrette instead of the usual vinegar/sugar solution. This dish is great cold, but can be served hot as well.

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Not truly pickled, these beans are what I call “quickles”. These are great cold, but can be served heated as well.

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This recipe contrasts the slightly bitter silkiness of escarole with the nutty sweetness of potatoes that have been sautéed crisp, with onions forming a bridge. This dish makes a nice side with sausages, ham steaks, and other sweet and rich meats.

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StevetomatoThe tomatoes look great and we are right on the cusp of having lots of them, so expect to see them in the web store soon. This year we planted several new varieties including grape and “San Marzano” type sauce tomatoes and they all are loaded with fruit. This is the third year that we have used the single stem method of training the tomato plants in the greenhouses and every year we have gotten a little better at it.

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These are inspired by Indian koftas, but they are more of a croquette in that they use egg and flour, not chickpea flour as many kofta recipes do. The bell pepper usage resulted from having halves in the refrigerator, and I think cooling bell peppers, mint, and yogurt make a wonderful contrast to the hot zucchini fritters. Serve these hot or room temperature, but be sure the yogurt is cold.

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This a colorful and aromatic dish that has plenty of crunch due to just cooking the vegetables lightly and quickly. The recipe lists shiso, which is a Japanese herb that usually shows up in sushi. If you do not have it, don’t worry, carry on without it. I used as it was in the garden, and it adds depth to the dish, but you won’t miss it if it is not there. Leftovers make a good cold salad as is, or you could lightly dress it with a little white balsamic vinaigrette.

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This “sauce” is made from broccoli cooked until very tender and then mashed or pureed. For the polenta, you can use either soft cooked polenta, or use the rolls of hard cooked polenta and grill the slices, or simply oil them up and roast or broil them in the oven.

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Use this as an appetizer or party food.

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Use this creamy dressing with the Cabbage, Baby Leeks, Cilantro, and Tomato Salad for a slaw-like salad, or toss shrimp with it for a twist on a shrimp cocktail. Use it with grilled lamb or falafel as well.

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INGREDIENTS:

¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
1/3rd cup cilantro stems, chopped
½ teaspoon coriander seed, powdered
¼ teaspoon dried thyme, powdered

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Slaw like in texture, this salad is crunchy and lightly sweet from the cabbage and tomatoes, and has a refreshing aroma from the cilantro. The baby leeks, which could be replaced with scallions, add a bit of pungency and the allium funk. This salad would be great under grilled salmon or snapper, or as a side to grilled pork or barbecued ribs.

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Slowly braising Romano beans renders them meltingly tender, but they retain their shape and pick up a sweet and nutty quality. The other vegetables in the dish become silky and the chard adds depth and earthiness. Bacon always goes well with beans and greens, but if you prefer not to use it, substitute some sweet smoked paprika.

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weedsLast week I discussed some of the farm practices we use, relating to soil fertility, seed purchases, and pest control. But one of the biggest differences between growing vegetables organically vs. conventionally is how we deal with weeds. Conventional growers often use chemical weed killers before planting their crops (or even after the crops are planted if the crop is resistant to that weed killer—like the genetically modified “Round-Up Ready” crops.) Organic growers control weeds through only non-chemical methods.

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hedgerow1As an organic farm, we’re always looking for natural ways to combat insect pests. In the 15 years or so that we’ve been farming we have rarely resorted to using any of the wide assortment of organically approved pesticides that are available. Rather than spraying a crop with something that will impede or kill a targeted pest, most of our pest control methods are more indirect. We rotate a diverse array of crops in small plantings through the different fields of our farm so that pests don’t get to feast on large blocks of their favorite food over a long period of time in one place.

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Although offered here for Salad of Spinach and Quickled Fennel and Purplette Onions, the dressing would suit pork chops, shrimp (hot or cold), or grilled fish just fine.

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Serve this in bowls with slices of cheese toast. Add leftover chicken or grains such as farro or barley, or Israeli couscous.

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SIGN UP FOR CSA PROGRAM

When you join our CSA, you sign up with the farm to receive a share of the harvest during our 36 week season from mid-March to mid-November. In return, you get a weekly box of organic vegetables and fruit (and optional flowers) delivered straight from our farm to a pick-up site in your neighborhood.

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View our CSA Members Page

This is where you can go to find out what's coming in your box each week, find recipes, identify your vegetables with pictures, and view or print the current and past newsletters. Check here for the information you need to use your box to the fullest.

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