Welcome to Spring! 2021 Spring Shares deliveries begin
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This Week's Vegetable Harvest:
Green Oak Leaf Lettuce
Wild Ramps - from Harmony Valley Farm, Viroqua, Wisconsin
Roots Medley: Celery Root and Scarlet Turnips or Rutabaga
This Week's Egg Shares:
Please note: We are providing Egg Share members with farm fresh, pasture-raised eggs from Joe's Farm this week, as our young chickens are slow to begin laying eggs. We work with this family farm to provide brown eggs to our farm stand so we trust that you'll enjoy them. We thank you for your patience as our flock begins to learn how to lay eggs!
How Spring CSA Share Pick Ups Work
When possible, we encourage picking up on the early end of the pickup window. This helps your fresh food remain fresh and allows site hosts to efficiently tidy up sites.
As you pick up, please provide social distances to others and wear a mask.
All shares are individually packed and labeled for you. All CSA shares will be packed into recyclable brown paper bags and labeled with your name so you can grab and go. There will be no need to cross names off of the CSA member list. Please take everything home with you and recycle all packaging.
Shares must be picked up during designated pickup times. Any unclaimed shares at pickup sites will be donated. Shares will not be available once the pickup has ended. We regret that we are not able to give refunds for shares that have not been claimed by the end of the pickup. We are happy to make alternative prior arrangements to share deliveries. Please email Jen by the Tuesday prior to delivery.
Pickup Sites List:
Deerfield, First Presbyterian Church, 824 Waukegan Road, Wednesdays, 4:00-7:00pm. The pick up location is in the back, outdoor vestibule of the First Presbyterian Church. CSA Shares are be packaged and labeled for a convenient, self-serve pick up.
Northbrook/Highland Park, Cancer Wellness Center, 215 Revere Drive, Wednesdays, 3:00-6:30pm. The pick up location is located within the front entrance vestibule of the Cancer Wellness Center. CSA Shares are be packaged and labeled for a convenient, self-serve pick up.
Evanston, 2719 Asbury, Wednesdays, 4:00-7:00pm. The pickup location is the Hilbrant's back porch and the gate will be propped open. CSA Shares are be packaged and labeled for a convenient, self-serve pick up.
Wilmette: St. Augustine's Episcopal Church, 1140 Wilmette, 2:00-5:00pm. The pick up location is in the back of St. Augustine's under the covered, rear door entrance. You can access the small parking lot from the alley just north of the church building, which connects Wilmette Ave. and 12th Street. CSA Shares are be packaged and labeled for a convenient, self-serve pick up.
Lake Forest, 994 Meadow Lane, Wednesdays, 4:00-7:00pm. The pick up location is within the inset portion of the Murley's front driveway. CSA Shares are be packaged and labeled for a convenient, self-serve pick up.
Grayslake, Prairie Crossing Farm, 560 North Harris Road, Wednesdays, 3:30-7:00pm. The pick up location is within the long white barn with the sign “Prairie Crossing Farm” on top. Please enter in driveway marked "CSA pickup", park on the side of the driveway and walk to the white barn. CSA Shares will be packaged and labeled for your pick up.
Buffalo Grove, 11 Strathmore Court, Thursdays, 3:30-7:000pm. The pick up location is within the Paunan's garage and the garage door will be open. CSA Shares are be packaged and labeled for a convenient, self-serve pick up.
Glenview, 2410 Glenview Road, Thursdays, 3:30-7:00pm. The pick up location is the outdoor entryway of the preschool, which is covered and accessible from the circle drive/parking lot. CSA Shares are be packaged and labeled for a convenient, self-serve pick up.
Libertyville,Pizzeria DeVille, 404 N Milwaukee Ave, Libertyville, IL, Thursdays, 3:30pm-7pm. The pick up location is inside of Pizzeria DeVille. CSA Shares are be packaged and labeled for a convenient, self-serve pick up.
Oak Park, Buzz Cafe,905 S Lombard, Thursdays, 4:30-7:00pm. The pick up location is behind the Buzz Cafe. CSA Shares will be packaged and labeled for your pick up. Please park on Flournoy or Harrison and walk into via the alley to the back patio.
Welcome to the start of our 15th growing season! We'd like to send a warm welcome to our 2021 Farm Share CSA members. While some members will pick up for the first time this week and some will pick up for the first time next week (and some will pick up later this season!), we strive to make every week's share special, high quality and delicious.
We've said it before but its worth saying again: we are deeply committed to our farm share/community supported agriculture (CSA) program. Each year, we make a commitment to our members that we will provide the safest, highest quality local food we can produce in exchange for an upfront financial commitment to our farm. This allows us to buy seeds, hire spring staff and plan our growing season. We plan carefully to ensure that no matter the weather conditions, we fulfill our promise to our farm share members. Farm share members receive the best of what we have to offer!
Many of you are returning members to our farm, and we want you to know how much we value your commitment each year! We’d also like to welcome those who are new members. Thank you for choosing us as your farmers. We look forward to seeing you and getting to know you better!
We realize eating seasonally is a commitment that takes time, thought and planning. We share ideas, tips and recipes throughout the season and we welcome your contributions, too. Have a favorite recipe or way to use your share? Please email me (Jen) and I'll share with this community, too.
Finally, we will also provide you with a window into our late fall and winter projects in upcoming newsletters. We're continuing our ongoing commitment to increase regenerative farming strategies throughout the farm. These benefit our collective community by caring for local soil life, fostering natural habitats, providing equitable and sustainable agricultural careers, and drawing down carbon.
Thank you for taking this seasonal journey with us. There's no greater honor than to be your farmers, sharing the bounty of the farm, your farm, with you and those around your dinner table.
Happy spring eating! ~ Jen, Jeff, Tyler, Abbey, Arlet, Ben, Peggy, Alex P, Alex J, Laura
Notes from the Farm Kitchen
Overwintered spinach has thicker and sweeter leaves than spring-planted spinach because it gets planted in October and grows throughout the winter. Because of its thick leaves, it is best used in cooked dishes rather than eaten raw in salads. You may notice it’s a bit more textured and that's a good thing! This means that the spinach won’t cook down as much as late spring or fall spinach.
This week's overwintered onions are also field grown meaning that they endured frost, snow, heat, rain and wind. Unlike a more delicate spring scallion, these field onions stand up to heat and they are great when cooked or raw.
Roots return! Members will receive celery root (large, cream and green root) and either scarlet turnips (large red root) or rutabaga (peachy colored root) this week. Many farmers call late spring storage roots "bridger" crops as they are nearly the last of the stored winter harvest and they keep us all healthy while we wait for spring greens to grow! I love the intersections of seasons within the kitchen -- delicate greens and hearty roots -- as they provide excellent contrasts in meals (think lentil vegetable soup and a fresh spring salad). Store these roots in plastic in your refrigerator and peel when ready to use. Feel free to check last year's fall newsletters for more recipes.
A Note on Packaging
Even during challenging times, we try to minimize our plastic packaging for members. To do this, we oftentimes combine produce (e.g., greens), which might be normally packaged separately, into one bag. Since most spring vegetables must be refrigerated in a plastic bag, please reuse these plastic packages. Keeping greens items in plastic helps prevent wilting. If arugula or another tender vegetable appears droopy, soak it in cold water for a few minutes, gently shake off the excess water, and refrigerate in a plastic bag until it perks up. Also, we rinse all the vegetables here at the farm, but you should always wash them thoroughly prior to eating.
Seasonal Recipes in the Farm Kitchen
Arugula and Apple Grilled Cheese Sandwiches 8 slices rustic sandwich bread 4 tablespoons butter, softened 1/2 cup Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced ½ bunch arugula 8 ounces sliced sharp cheddar cheese
Heat a griddle to medium high. Generously butter one side of each slice of bread. Flip four slices over so the butter side is facing down. Top each with the sliced apple, cheddar, arugula, and the remaining slices of bread (butter side up). Place the prepared sandwiches on the griddle. If using a griddle, toast the sandwiches for 5 minutes on each side, then transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and finish baking in a preheated 350°F oven for another 5 minutes; this allows the cheese to melt in the center of the sandwich. Slice sandwiches and enjoy! (slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour recipe)
Grilled Ramps - we slice these ramps and add them to our mashed potatoes! 1 bunch ramps Olive Oil Salt and Pepper 1 lemon
Heat a grill pan over medium high heat on the stovetop. Spray with extra virgin olive oil. While the pan is heating up, wash, trim the ends and dry the ramps. Place each ramp, leaves included, on the grill pan and cook for ~5 minutes on each side or until charred and tender (you can also do this on the grill). You may have to do several batches to cook all of the ramps. Transfer the ramps from the grill pan to a serving dish. Drizzle with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice and a fresh grind of sea salt, to taste.
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie - This recipe was served at the Prairie Crossing Charter School's Farm to Table luncheon. Its a great recipe to get the kids to eat their veggies!
Topping 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered (about 3 large) 6 tablespoons unsalted butter ½ cup whole milk ½ cup sour cream ½ cup packed grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or vegetarian Parmesan (optional) Freshly ground black pepper
Filling ¾ cup French lentils 4 sprigs thyme 3 ½ cups vegetable broth 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning 4 tablespoons butter 8 ounces sliced mixed mushrooms, such as button, cremini, and shitaake 1 large onion (about 1 1/2 cups) 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup) 1 cup root vegetables, e.g., turnips, rutabaga 2 cloves garlic, minced Freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons tomato paste 2 tablespoons flour 1 cup frozen peas, thawed 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
In a large pot, bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil over high heat. Add potatoes to boiling water and boil for about 15 to 20 minutes, until soft; a knife should go in with almost no resistance.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a 10-inch oven-safe skillet with high sides or an enameled cast-iron braiser over medium-high heat, bring the lentils, thyme and 2 cups of the broth to a simmer with 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce the heat and continue to cook the lentils, partly covered, until they are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Transfer the lentils to a bowl.
Finish the topping: In a small saucepan or a microwave oven, heat 6 tablespoons of the butter and milk together until butter melts. Drain potatoes well and return to pot. Using a masher or a ricer, mash hot potatoes until smooth. Mix in the hot butter mixture and sour cream just until blended. Stir in 1/2 of the Parmigiano. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.
Finish the filling: Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Melt the butter in the 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until they are deep golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add leeks, carrots, root vegetables and garlic, and continue to cook until tender, another 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the tomato paste and stir, cooking until it is well combined, another 2 to 3 minutes. 8 ounces sliced mixed mushrooms, such as button, cremini, and shitaake 1 large leek, white part only, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups) 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup) 2 cloves garlic, minced Freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons tomato paste 2 tablespoons flour 1 cup frozen peas, thawed 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice. Sprinkle flour over the mixture, stir and cook for 1 minute. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups broth, cooked lentils and peas, and cook until thickened. Remove thyme stems and stir in lemon juice to taste.
Top the mixture with dollops of the mashed potatoes, then spread them out over the top. (Or transfer the lentil mixture to a 3-quart casserole dish and spread into an even layer, and top with potatoes.) Sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano. Transfer to the oven and, if the mixture is at the top edges of your pan, set a foil-lined baking sheet underneath the pan to catch any drips. Bake the pie until the potatoes have begun to brown and the edges are bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.
Asparagus, Spinach and Cheddar Strata with Sourdough
10 to 11 cups sourdough bread cubes (3/4" cubes) ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1" pieces 2 handfuls winter spinach, cut into 1" pieces 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped; a scant 1 cup ½ pound ham, diced 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided 8 large eggs ½ cup to 1 1/2 cups half & half (fat-free is fine) ½ teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment, and grease a 2-quart casserole dish or 9" x 13" pan.
Toss the bread in a bowl with the melted butter, and spread evenly on the baking sheet. Heat the bread in the oven for 10 minutes; it won't color, but will dry out a bit.
Toss the asparagus, spinach, onion, ham, and 1 ½ cups of the cheese with the toasted bread cubes. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
Mix together the eggs, 1/2 cup of the half & half, and salt, and pour over the bread mixture, pressing the bread gently into the liquid. Add up to an additional 1 cup half & half if it doesn't come to within 3/4" of the top of the bread cubes. Cover the pan, and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 6 hours.
Sprinkle the top of the strata with the remaining cheese. Bake the strata uncovered, in a preheated 375°F oven, for about 45 minutes, or until it's puffed and golden. A knife blade inserted into the center will come out clean. Remove the strata from the oven, and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Organic Plant Sale Opens! - The Liberty Prairie Foundation Plant Sale takes place online again this year. Each year, the Foundation sells a wide variety of certified organic plants to local gardeners as a fundraiser for the Prairie Farm Corps high school job training program. The ordering platform went live here yesterday with pick up dates on May 14th, 15th, 18th, 21st and 22nd.
When you pick up plants, we welcome you to visit the Prairie Wind Farm Stand and the chickens! We'll offer supplemental plants (grown by us), meats, cheeses, jarred goods, early produce, soaps and more. We look forward to having you back at the farm this spring!