The First Week!
Note: Our first Beet Box is always a little longer than usual, in an effort to get you well-oriented to the farm food you’re getting from us.
In your share this week:
- Pac Choi (the dark green, vase-shaped heads)
- Head Lettuce
- Radishes (the red roots)
- Hakurei Turnips (the white roots)
- One little pint of rain-battered strawberries L
- Cherry tomato plant
This means that some pickup locations will receive it this week, others next week – or in a future week.
Spring is the time for greens! You’ll be getting a wide array of leafy vegetables from us in these first few weeks, such as: kale, chard, spinach, pac choi, and more. If you’re unaccustomed to eating lots of greens, it might feel overwhelming at first. Here are a couple of tips to help you relish your greens, rather than feel burdened by them:
- Cook them down! Greens cook down to almost nothing, so if there’s a pile-up happening in your fridge, turn up the heat and toss them in a pan with some butter and garlic!
- Take the “Half Your Plate” Challenge: fill up half your plate with veggies and green things. You’ll burn through that head lettuce in no time, and feel good.
- Make awesome salads. Chop up whatever is in the fridge and toss it together with some good dressing. Add nuts, dried cranberries, some cheese. Presto lunch!
- Add them to everything. Put some greens in your scrambled eggs in the morning. Add them to pasta sauce. They disappear into anything.
Each week I’ll give you a quick orientation to any new vegetables in your Harvest Basket, including tips for prepping, storing, and eating your produce. I do my best to throw in a few recipes (usually from epicurious.com), and there are many more to be found on our website: visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to post and share with everyone!
Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.
This week’s strawberries are not up to snuff in our book, but we figured you’d rather have some ugly berries than no berries at all. They were looking lovely all last week, ripening up just as we’d hoped, until Sunday/Monday when we got 2 inches of rain in 24 hours. Hard rain makes a mess of the strawberry patch, so our first few weeks of June harvest are always a crapshoot (I find myself wishing that we could put a huge temporary umbrella over the strawberries in May & June when the weather is so capricious).
Eat ‘em quick before they rot! As the weather improves, so will the strawberries. FYI, they are a fruit that will continue to ripen and sweeten after being picked (not so much in your fridge, but definitely on the countertop). I wouldn’t suggest further “ripening” this week’s berries on your counter – unless you want to grow some mold – but in the future you may want to leave them out if you want to ripen them more. They won’t last as long as they do in the fridge, but the flavor is fantastic. There should be strawberries in your tote from now through September. They are a Valley Flora Harvest Basket staple!
Mizuna & Arugula
You’ll either be getting 8 oz. of arugula or mizuna in your share this week, in a plastic Ziploc bag. Both are ingredients in Abby’s salad mix. The arugula is a tender, mildly spicy green that can be eaten straight as a salad (great with candied nuts, goat cheese or feta, and a dried fruit such as cranberries). You can also make pesto with it, or lightly sautee it. The mizuna has a serrated leaf with a mild, nutty flavor. It makes a wonderful salad (for a delicious example of a mizuna salad, go out for a special dinner at The Loft of Bandon – they know how to do it up!).
Here’s an easy recipe that uses both your mizuna (or arugula) and your pac choi: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Stir-Fried-Bok-Choy-and-Mizuna-with-Tofu-362936
And if you’re getting a Bread Share from Seth, this might be a great use of your arugula and bread: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Wild-Arugula-Salad-with-Gar...
Also spelled Bok Choy and Bok Choi, this is a heavy heading green with succulent ribs and dark leaves. Use the entire plant by cutting off the bottom, stripping and washing the heavy leaves (dirt and slugs often collect at the base of each leaf stem), and then cutting them up. Pac Choi is most commonly used in stir fries, but is a great addition to salads, steamed veggies, soups, eggs or quiche, or pasta.
Store in the fridge in a plastic bag. Will keep for a week or more.
There are two bunches of round roots in your tote. The red ones are the radishes! It’s a variety called Crunchy Royale, which has been a favorite of our CSA members for years now. They are super crunchy and tender, and not too spicy. They kick off our radish line-up for the season; in the coming weeks you’ll see two other varieties, one pink and one purple.
Radish roots will keep longer if you cut the tops off. Store in the fridge in a plastic bag. Without tops they’ll keep for weeks (if not months).
The other white bunch of round roots in your tote are a special variety of spring turnips called Hakureis. They’re a variety from Japan. If you’ve never tried a Hakurei, you’re in for a treat: tender, juicy, buttery and sweet! Not the sort of adjectives you might expect to see in front of the word “turnip,” but taste 'em for yourself. I like to eat Hakureis raw – like apples – but they also cook up nicely in a stir-fry, or steamed.
The turnip greens can be eaten just like mustard greens, so don’t be too quick to toss them! Here’s a simple recipe that uses both the greens and the roots:
Like radishes, turnips will keep longer in the fridge if you top them. They’ll last for weeks.
Hot Tip of the Week: How to Plant your Cherry Tomato
This week you get to take home your very own cherry tomato plant! We’ll still be providing you with baskets of cherry tomatoes come September, but if you have a warm spot – be it in the ground, or in a pot on a deck – we encourage you to try your hand at growing your own cherry tomatoes this year. They are easy to grow and the surest-ripening of all the tomatoes in our coastal climate. There are three varieties to choose from: Sungold (orange and tropical-sweet), Suncherry (red and prolific), and Yellow Mini (yellow and lemony-sweet).
Please limit to one per Harvest Basket.
- Plant your tomato as deeply as possible. It will grow roots out of its stem if buried (a unique trait called adventitious rooting) and create a bigger root zone.
- Feed your tomato a balanced organic compost or fertilizer. Too much nitrogen will make a huge leafy plant with no fruit, so don't overdo it!
- Water according to need. If your tomato is in a pot, it will need water more frequently. Try not to get the leaves wet when watering.
- Make sure you put your tomato in a sunny, warm spot. If growing in a container, the bigger the pot the better. A small pot will require more frequent watering and fertilizing.
- Provide support to your tomato in the form of a string trellis, a bamboo stake, or a wire cage.
If all goes well you should see some fruit by August or September!
Enjoy your first week of food!