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Summer Solstice welcomes the Early Summer Season

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Summer Solstice welcomes the Early Summer Season
Important Reminders & Annoucements
  • This week is the first week of deliveries for Early Summer Share members. This includes all Early Summer Vegetable, Fruit and Egg Shares.
  • Questions? Please refer to the Early Summer Share Informational Email for pickup location details or contact Jen if you have any questions.
  • Fourth of July Delivery Schedule / Week of July 2nd - In observance of next Wednesday's holiday, our alternative delivery schedule is the following:

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

    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:
    • Young Leeks
    • Kale
    • Red Beets
    • Parsley
    • Fennel
    • Cucumber
    • Popcorn
    • Garlic Scapes
    • Zucchini (On farm members will receive this week.)

    This Week's Fruit Harvest:
    • Red Raspberries
    • Sweet Cherries
    • Strawberries
    Farm Journal

    Welcome to the first week of the Early Summer Share season! We're thrilled to grow for you during this exciting time of year.
    Our farm fields continue to fill with hues of greens and purples. The fruiting crops like early tomatoes and potatoes are beginning to show flowers, which signal the harvest is coming soon.

    Growing in the midwest is not without its challenges. We've received plenty of weather curve balls this year including April ice storms, the wettest May on record, an early June heat wave and significant rainfall in June. These conditions put stress on our crops, for instance some of our tomatoes were infected with a stem rot which is worsened by excessive moisture and chilly nighttime temperatures. We reached out to several farmers who offered us their help, support and most generously, their organic tomato plants which allowed us to replant. We're fortunate to belong to a network of growers in our region who support each other.

    We're not alone, as our friends at Mick Klug Farm shared this anecdote, "Too much rain, or heavy rain, at the wrong time is the cause of many a farmer's woe. Excess rain can flood crops leaving them stunted, moldy, or even dead. It can also foster bacteria, rendering current crops inedible and threatening future crops. Heavy or hard rain can physically damage shrubs, trees and the produce itself." Abby Klug reminds us of a familiar quote: "The farmer has to be an optimist or he (she) wouldn't still be a farmer." 

    Farmers acknowledge new challenges will continue to arise as we see more unpredictability in our weather patterns. We all continue to learn, adjust our best-laid-plans, stay flexible, and care for our most delicate crops to grow high quality organic produce.
    While we waited for our fields to dry out, we hosted our June Pizza Night at the Farm this past Sunday on a beautiful, crisp summer evening. We received a kind review of the evening from Gina, a local pizza farm enthusiast, writer of the blog "Last Night's Pizza Box" and supporter of local farmers. 
    We had a great turnout and we're grateful to everyone who joined us, from neighbors who biked to the farm from our very own Prairie Crossing community to those who traveled from Chicago, Oak Park, Des Plaines and beyond.

    Thank you for your ongoing support and enjoy this week's harvest!

    The Miller Family (Jeff, Jen, Owen & Gavin)
    Notes from the Farm Kitchen
    Baby leeks are the immature version of full-grown leeks which means they are more tender and are quite easy to prepare. They can be braised, roasted, or sauteed, or add them in a place of a recipe that calls for onion. Trim and discard about half of the fibrous green tops, just like you would on a larger leek, and then store in a plastic bag. I tend to freeze those tops for making veggie stock in autumn.
    Zucchini grows quickly, and our plants are harvested every other day in order to keep them healthy and productive. Over the course of a couple of months, all of this harvesting adds up to a lot of zucchini! To keep from overwhelming our members, we distribute zucchini on a rotating basis to our various pickup locations. We're starting with the Tuesday and Thursday farm pickups this week. Off-farm pickup sites will receive zucchini next week. Store zucchini in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.
    Raw fennel has a distinct anise flavor and smell, coming from both the base and fronds. We grow fennel for the beautiful bulb, however you can use the whole plant. Sauteed or roasted fennel bulb is excellent paired with broiled fish and a touch of butter and lemon. My favorite ways to use fennel is to sauté sliced fennel with onion and some Italian sausage. Then add it to hot pasta, mix in some jarred tomatoes, wilted swiss chard or mushrooms, add olive oil on top and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese, fennel fronds and salt to taste. We also recommend braising and grilling the bulbs.

    To grill the fennel, slice the fronds off, leaving about 3 inches attached to the bulb. Reserve fronds for another recipe. Slice bulbs in half so that you end up with 2 "patties". Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill slowly over indirect heat until the fennel is a little bit charred around the edges. Remove from grill and sprinkle with lemon juice and grated parmesan. 
    Its berry season! We strive to take full advantage of early fruit season, so this week's Fruit Share includes raspberries, cherries and fresh strawberries from our friends at Mick Klug Farms. Due to this extremely wet growing season, these strawberries are having a shorter season and will be more delicate so please enjoy them quickly! Store the extras in the refrigerator or freeze for baking a pie later this summer.
    Recipes from the Farm Kitchen

    Couscous with Roasted Fennel and Toasted Almonds
    1/2 cup orange juice
    1/3 cup  raisins
    3 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
    3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    1/4 cup almonds
    1 1/4 cups chicken stock
    1 cup couscous
    2 stalks green garlic, chopped
    1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
    2 tablespoons fennel fronds, chopped
    Freshly ground pepper and salt, to taste
    1 pinch coarse sea salt

    Soak raisins in orange juice until they plump up, about 1 - 2 hours; strain, and set aside. Toss fennel in one tablespoon of olive oil, pepper and salt; spread on a lined baking sheet and roast in a 350 oven for about 12-15 minutes, until edges are beginning to brown. Toast almonds on a separate pan in the oven until lightly browned; allow to cool; coarsely chop, and set aside

    While fennel and almonds are in the oven, bring chicken stock to a boil over high heat; add couscous, stir, cover, and remove from heat; let rest for about 15 minutes until all of the stock is absorbed. In a separate bowl, whisk together green garlic and vinegar, then whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil; add pepper and salt to taste.

    Transfer couscous to a serving bowl and fluff with fork; stir in the orange-soaked raisins, and fennel fronds; toss with enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat everything. Top with roasted fennel and almonds; finish with a sprinkling of ground pepper and coarse sea salt. 

    Kale, Carrot & Avocado Salad

    1 bunch kale, stemmed and finely chopped
    2 cups grated carrots
    1/2 avocado, peeled and pitted
    1/4 cup thinly sliced purplette onion
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
    1/2 teaspoon reduced sodium soy sauce

    Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Use your hands or the back of a large spoon to thoroughly mash avocado into kale. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving to allow kale to soften.

    Steak with Balsamic Raspberries
    1 generous pinch of salt, divided
    1 pound grassfed fillet sirloin, cut vertically into 4 strips
    Spray of grapeseed oil
    1 red onion, sliced into rings
    1/2 cup aged balsamic artisan vinegar
    1 1/2 pint raspberries
    1/2 teaspoon crushed peppercorns or more, divided
    Parsley for garnish

    Pound the steak a bit with the smooth side of a meat mallet. Add a generous pinch of salt to both sides of the steak. Let this rest for about 40 minutes, room temperature. If you do refrigerate, then make sure your return the steak to room temperature before cooking. The steak should be dry.

    When ready to cook, heat the grapeseed oil in a heavy braising pan to a high heat. Add and begin to cook the onions. Move the onions to the sides of the pan. Then add the steak. If you want, you can include a little grated ginger and garlic you have already roasted for flavor enhancements. Sear the steak on one side for about 4 minutes, so it has turned crusty brown on the outside, then turn over and sear on the other side the same way. Check by inserting a knife sparingly (so you don't release a deluge of juice) in to the steak, to see if the it is cooked enough for you. If it is done to your liking, remove the steak to a plate to let rest. Add the peppercorns right away. Keep the onions in the pan.

    Add the raspberries, pinch of salt, and vinegar. Stir and cook until the vinegar has reduced by almost 1/2. Drizzle the reduced vinegar over the steak. Spoon the onions and raspberries on top. Garnish with parsley. Add a pinch more of the crushed peppercorns and salt. 

    Here's a great article on the secret to great popcorn and some fun popcorn recipe ideas. 
    Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... lettuce, cherries, cucumber, zucchini, cabbage, basil and more!

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