Last week, we had a nice visit with friend-of-the-farm, Ellen P. Ellen created and led the "Market Farmer Success Mastermind," a session with 15 farmers from across the nation discussing large scale vegetable growing, which Jeff was invited to join last winter. The growers met outside of Washington, DC for several days and they stay in touch with monthly calls and fun conversations on Instagram. This week, Ellen visited four different farms throughout the midwest (including ours!) and helped to share her 35 years of vegetable growing wisdom with us. We discussed everything from how to improve our soils to crop performance to water management to tips/tricks to find overall balance throughout the farm.
Ellen also reviewed our research work, as we observed the trial cucumbers and winter squash blanketing the fields. She was as shocked as we were! Many of the vines reach over 7 feet now and have an incredibly deep green color, demonstrating the plant's health and love of the field conditions.
Our research work is to grow a wide variety of squash, cucumber, pepper, and broccoli seeds and provide feedback on their flavor and growth characteristics. Ellen and our team helped by doing a taste test of the seven varieties of cucumbers we're growing this season. In fact, you have (or may still!) receive some of these distinctly different varieties in your share. While these cucumbers look slightly different than store-bought cucumbers, the team found their flavors and textures delightful. We welcome your feedback as well. These growing experiences and flavor feedback will be shared with UW Madison as they continue to evaluate seed varieties for growers in our region.
After touring the fields, we all gathered for a team lunch and Ellen's regaled us with stories from farms across the nation and advised some of our crew members (aspiring farmers themselves) on how to best purchase land and start their farms. Together, we enjoyed a variety of dishes inspired by the mid-summer crops in the field.
We're grateful for Ellen's generous spirit and we hope you'll also become inspired by the flavors in this week's mid-summer shares!
Pictured above: The Miller's grilled pizzas with zucchini, Chrissie's vegetable chili, Lucas' potato salad, Kim's bruschetta and spiralized zucchini noodles and Kim's homemade berry kimchi. Missing in photos: Arlet's fresh vegetable bread, Tyler's chips and salsa. Yum!
Cheers, Jeff, Jen and the farm crew
Notes from the Farm Kitchen
Summer cabbage is in! Because lettuces taste best in cooler temperatures, we instead grow cabbage in the summer and fall seasons as a salad base. Think refreshing coleslaw, taco slaw, buttery grilled cabbage, ferments, and more! Cabbage will store well in a refrigerator drawer. You can put the cabbage in a plastic bag to help retain moisture but it isn’t totally necessary (it already has its own wrapper!). If you use only a partial head, make sure to tightly wrap the remainder and put into the fridge. When properly stored, cabbage can last from 3 weeks to up to 2 months in your refrigerator.
Carrots also make an appearance in shares for the first time this growing season. We expect to share carrots again next week and we're hopeful for great harvests through late summer and fall, too. This week's Bolero variety is a beautiful shade of orange with healthy green tops that are perfect for carrot top pesto, garnishes, rabbits and chickens!
Arugula is one of our favorite crops that usually makes an appearance in spring and fall shares, and this season, we're growing for summer shares, too! You may find the heat made this arugula a bit spicier than our spring arugula, and that's why we love it so! We recommend a quick chop (use the stems, too!) and add as a flavor boost to grilled pizzas, spring rolls, sandwiches and pasta.
Seasonal Recipes from the Farm Kitchen
Lemony Orzo Salad- We added beans for additional protein though the salad is wonderful without them, too. 6oz dry orzo pasta 1-1/2 cups tomatoes, sliced in half 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese 1/4 cup chopped parsley 2 Tablespoons capers, drained ½ can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
1/4 cup lemon juice salt and pepper, lots 1 teaspoon honey 1 clove garlic 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Cook pasta according to directions on package then drain and set aside to cool slightly. For the Lemon Dressing: combine lemon juice, salt, pepper, honey and garlic in a bowl and then slowly drizzling in olive oil while stirring. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. Combine cooked pasta with remaining ingredients and stir. Serve and tastes even better the next day!
Vegetarian Summer Spring Rolls– We made these vegetarian and you could always add shrimp or other proteins.
8 ounces cooked rice noodles 8 Vietnamese rice spring roll wrappers 2 avocado, sliced Fresh basil leaves 1/2 cup each farm vegetables, cut very thin (we used carrots, scallions, cucumber, cabbage and arugula)
Cook noodles according to instructions on package, rinse with cold water and set aside. One at a time, dip the rice paper wrappers into warm water for 5 seconds. Remove and place on a clean towel. Place the noodles, avocado, farm vegetables, herbs in the center of the rice paper. Wrap and tuck the sides, then the bottom flap, and then carefully roll until the wrapper is tightly closed. Serve with a peanut sauce and/or tamari for dipping.
Summer Peach and Tahini Tart 1 (about 14-ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions 2 1/2 pounds ripe peaches (about 6 medium) 4 tablespoons raw sugar, divided 1 large egg 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds 1 medium lemon 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 cup well-stirred tahini 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt 1 tablespoon honey 1 whole nutmeg, for grating 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves
Thaw 1 package frozen puff pastry according to package directions and keep refrigerated. Halve and pit 2 1/2 pounds peaches, then cut into 1/2-inch thick slices. Place the slices in a large bowl, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the raw sugar, and toss to combine. Let sit and macerate 30 to 60 minutes.
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 425ºF. Place 1 large egg in a small bowl, add a splash of water, and whisk with a fork to combine. Unfold the puff pastry onto a sheet of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, flatten the creases. Prick holes all over the dough with a fork. Brush the egg mixture onto the outer 4 inches of the dough like a picture frame, no need to do the center. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds onto the egg-washed edges. Slide the parchment with the pastry on it onto a baking sheet. Refrigerate while you prepare the peaches.
Finely grate the zest of 1/2 medium lemon over the peaches. Halve the lemon and squeeze 1 tablespoon juice over the peaches. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons raw sugar and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and toss to combine. Spread 1/4 cup tahini onto the puff pastry, leaving a 1-inch border. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peaches onto the tahini, arranging them evenly and decoratively if desired. Reserve the peaches juices remaining in the bowl.
Bake until the edges are puffed and deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the peach juices into a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by more than half and thickened into a syrup, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Place 1/2 cup Greek yogurt and 1 tablespoon honey in a small bowl and whisk until combined.
Remove the tart from the oven and let cool until lukewarm or room temperature. When ready to serve, pour the peach syrup over the tart, then dollop the honey yogurt over the peaches. Finely grate a whole nutmeg over the surface of the tart until the top is lightly dusted. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, tearing them if large.