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Happy Fourth of July!

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Happy Fourth of July!
Important Reminders & Annoucements
  • This week, we are delivering to weekly Early Summer Vegetable and Fruit Shares members this week. 
  • Next week, we will deliver to weekly and every other week Early Summer Vegetable, Fruit and Egg Share members.

Fourth of July Delivery Schedule - Our adjusted holiday delivery schedule is the following:

Tuesday, July 3rd 
Northbrook/Highland Park
Lake Forest
Tuesday at the Farm

No deliveries Wednesday, July 4th

Thursday, July 5th
Vernon Hills
Buffalo Grove
Oak Park
Thursday at the Farm

Saturday, July 7th
Oak Park Farmers Market

This Week's Vegetable Harvest:
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Kohlrabi
  • Salad Mix
  • Broccoli
  • Basil
  • Fennel
  • Cucumber
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Zucchini (Boxed shares will receive this week.)

This Week's Fruit Harvest:
  • Blueberries
  • Red Raspberries
  • Tart Cherries

Farm Journal
Our winter wheat cover crop, pictured at the top, is drying in the summer sunshine and on a breezy summer day like today, demonstrates the infamous amber waves of the grain.

Speaking of golden yellow, the bright warm sun is shining down and the farm is buzzing this morning! All of our pollinators spend their days visiting squash blossoms (yellow blossom above), eggplant (purple blossom below) and native flowers throughout the prairie. This pollinating process is essential to the growth of our favorite summer vegetables, as our fruiting crops depend on this process to establish the fruit of the plants.
In exchange for their work, the bees take back a delicious treat to their hive. The farm is home to nearly 20 hives which are tucked into protective hedgerows offering the bees protection in both the summer and wintertime. Our beekeepers are wonderful friends to our farm, as they oftentimes help us to spot things happening in our fields (like white-tailed deer making regular appearances in the tomato fields).
Our crops have soaked up every bit of sunshine they received after nearly 4.5 inches of rain last week. The water was standing in some places but the heat wave helped to dry fields enough to begin cultivating (weeding) again. Jeff uses tractor-mounted cultivating tools to weed our longer-term crops like celery root, popcorn, onions and leeks which encourages their ongoing growth.
Last Friday, our farm crew started as soon as the sun rose to harvest during the cooler morning temperatures. After enjoying a breakfast treat together, we all headed into the farm fields to bring in the harvest, tend to crops and care for the animals to make them as comfortable in the heat. For both our flock of chickens and our goats, we added extra shade to their homes, provided plenty of extra water, and allowed for as much ventilation in as possible. Everyone (chickens included) took the afternoon off for a much-deserved siesta.
Amidst the warm days, our boys helped to care for the newest farm member, the sweet, black farm cat. After this tiny, malnourished kitten was found in the "Tornado Barn" one day, the Prairie Crossing farmers worked together to make sure the cat was nursed back to health. We decided to adopt the kitten, and our boys are now responsible for feeding and caring for her. While she's a bit skittish, she's a welcome addition to our buzzing farm community.

Stay cool this holiday week and Happy Fourth of July!

Jeff, Jen and the farm crew

Notes from the Farm Kitchen
This week's fruit share contains sour or tart cherries which are rounder, softer, and more tart than sweet cherries. They can be eaten fresh, though I enjoy baking with them and using them in smoothies.  Try them in a batch of muffins (add them to whole wheat pancakes, yum!) or as a topping for grilled pork chops. If you aren’t going to use your cherries this week, pit them and and place them in a freezer bag for use later. 
Cabbage is one of our summer staples as we use in a variety of slaws, salads and its our favorite veggie to ferment.  As one of the items that grow especially well in our soils, we enjoy watching it grow almost as much as we enjoy eating it! In the cooler months or when we're itching for a different preparation, we love to roast cabbage in the oven with butter and any remaining garlic scapes sprinkled on top. When slicing cabbage, cut the head into 4 wedges and either roast as a wedge or cut those wedges diagonally across the wedge for slaws. 
Most garlic that you are accustomed to using has been cured in a warm, dry place for some period of time to ensure that it stores well. Since we just harvested this garlic last week, it has not had time to cure. That is why it is called fresh garlic and it's extra flavorful and pungent. As the season progresses you will receive garlic that has been cured and will store well for several months. Use fresh garlic within a couple of weeks. Your best bet for storage is to store in your refrigerator to keep fresh.
Recipes from the Farm Kitchen

Kohlrabi and Cabbage Slaw with Tahini-Lemon Dressing - I love to make slaws because I can use up whatever veggies I have on hand (e.g., carrots, broccoli, onions).

1 medium sized kohlrabi, stems and greens removed
1/2 a head of green cabbage
1 large bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
1 cup raisins
1 small ripe avocado, diced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

For the Tahini-Lemon Dressing:
1/4 cup tahini
2-3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons honey
1 clove of garlic, minced
a small handful of very finely minced parsley
3 Tablespoons water + more to thin if necessary
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the dressing by combining all the ingredients and blending with an immersion blender or regular blender until smooth. If the dressing is too thick add a splash of water. If the dressing is too thin add a little more tahini. Taste test and adjust seasonings as necessary. With a mandoline or a sharp knife slice the kohlrabi into thin rounds. Then stack the rounds and slice into thin matchsticks. Cut the cabbage into 1/4-inch-thick strips Place the kohlrabi and cabbage in a large salad bowl. Add parsley, raisins, avocado, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Drizzle in the dressing and toss until well combined. 

Pickled Fennel with Orange Zest  The fennel has a bright flavor within this simple, orange-flavored brine. Try it alongside salty olives or a soft cheese on a charcuterie platter.
1-2 fennel bulbs, stalks removed
1 cup white wine vinegar
½ cup water
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
2 tablespoons orange zest

Slice the fennel into very thin slivers. Thoroughly rinse the fennel and set aside. Add all remaining ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. In the meantime, tightly pack the sliced fennel into a glass jar and set aside. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the brine to cool slightly, about one to two minutes. Pour the brine into the jar, being sure to cover the fennel completely. Allow to cool to room temperature. Seal the jar with a tight fitting lid. When kept covered and chilled, the pickles will keep well for 1-2 weeks.

Classic Sour Cherry Pie with Lattice Crust - this is my Dad's favorite pie, and its become mine, too! My secret ingredient: I add 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract to the filling.

2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 tablespoons (or more) ice water

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 cups whole pitted sour cherries or dark sweet cherries (about 2 pounds whole unpitted cherries)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (if using sour cherries) or 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (if using dark sweet cherries)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
optional: 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon (about) milk

For crust: Whisk flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl to blend. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until small pea-size clumps form. Add 5 tablespoons ice water; mix lightly with fork until dough holds together when small pieces are pressed between fingertips, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough together; divide into 2 pieces. Form each piece into ball, then flatten into disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly before rolling out.

For filling: Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 425°F. Whisk 1 cup sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Stir in cherries, lemon juice, vanilla and almond extract (if using); set aside. Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch glass pie dish. Trim dough overhang to 1/2 inch. Roll out second dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Using large knife or pastry wheel with fluted edge, cut ten 3/4-inch-wide strips from dough round. Transfer filling to dough-lined dish, mounding slightly in center. Dot with butter. Arrange dough strips atop filling, forming lattice; trim dough strip overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold bottom crust up over ends of strips and crimp edges to seal. Brush lattice crust (not edges) with milk. Sprinkle lattice with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Place pie on rimmed baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake pie until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown, covering edges with foil collar if browning too quickly, about 1 hour longer. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely. Cut into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... blueberries, zucchini, head lettuce, basil, mushrooms, apricots, cucumbers and more!

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