What's In Your Basket?
- Tillamook Strawberries
- Emerald Oakleaf Lettuce
- Hakurei Turnips
- Green Globe Artichokes
- Braising Mix
- Rainbow Chard
Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
- Most people don't associate the word "turnip" with the adjectives "sweet and buttery," but Hakureis make the cut. They are our favorite turnip of all time, and lucky for all of us, they are a vigorous spring crop. These turnips are best eaten raw to savor their texture and flavor, but they also sautee up well with a little olive oil, salt and their own greens.
- Don't toss those tops! They make great stir-fry greens. Give them a wash, chop them up, and cook them!
- If you want your turnips to last longer in the fridge, cut the tops off and store the roots in a ziploc in the crisper.
- This is a colorful combo of baby kale, mustard and other asian greens. If you like it spicy, you can just eat your braising mix raw like a salad. Otherwise, they are great stir-fried, sauteed or steamed. At home we often just steam them, then douse them with good olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, and a dash of either ume plum vinegar or cider vinegar. Yum!
- Store in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag.
- We are choke addicts here at Valley Flora. We usually prepare them the simple old-fashioned way in a steamer basket. It usually takes 30-45 minutes in a regular steamer basket with plenty of water, depending on size, or 8-14 minutes in a pressure cooker. The bigger the choke, the longer it takes. Check for done-ness by plucking an outside leaf. The chokes are ready when a leaf plucks off easily. Dig in and eat your - its - heart out.
- Check out our easy ailoi recipe and turn your artichokes into a great vehicle for mayo, balsamic and capers.
- Zukes store for about a week in a plastic bag in the fridge. Wonderful sauteed with a little butter, thyme, salt and pepper.
- Like the zucchini, the broccoli is just getting going so we'll be distributing it to different pick-up sites on rotation these first few weeks. The heads are small right now, but will size up as the days warm up.
- Stores best in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag.
- Rapini is a wonderful spring and fall treat. It's essentially a flower bud from any kind of brassica plant (cabbage, kale, pac choi, etc.), cut right before it bursts into bloom. Rapini is often sweet, nutty with a little spice to it.
- Great eaten raw, sauteed or steamed.
- Stores for a long time in a plastic bag in the fridge.
- Another trusty spring green that will be with us from now on throughout the season. We are growing a mix of rainbow chard and rhubard chard, which lends those stems their technicolor palette.
- Treat it like you would kale or any other green, but don't toss those stems! Chop them up and toss them into your meal - the make great accents and are
On the Farm....
When you get your chard this week or next, you're probably going to wonder WHAT'S UP WITH ALL THOSE HOLES IN THE LEAVES!?
As it turns out, there's another animal in the world that loves chard as much as we do - and that's the western spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata). They look just like a ladybug beetle, but are yellow/lime green with black spots instead of red with black spots. True to their name, cucumber beetles love to feed on cucurbit plants (cucumbers, summer squash, melons, winter squash, etc.), but they have voracious appetites and will munch almost anything in the spring: dahlias, beans, zinnias, lettuce, and yes, chard.
Cucumber beetles tend to do their worst damage to crops in the spring when the temeratures are low and the plants are growing slowly. In some cases, the beetles will skeletonize new transplants entirely and kill them. Fortunately the chard didn't take that bad of a hit this spring, but it did sustain some cosmetic damage from the beetles - hence the holes in the chard leaves. I suppose the name "Swiss Chard" is apt this week, in the spirit of it's distant cousin "Swiss cheese."
Now that we have stripped the bullet-riddled leaves, it's likely that our chard plants will grow out of the cuke beetle damage and put on some new, less tattered leaves in the coming weeks. Our philosophy is to co-exist; there's usually enough to go around for the people and the cuke beetles alike.
Despite all the damage they do, it's hard not to appreciate the tenacity of these little insects. I read up on their life cycle last year when my first lettuce and dahlia plantings were getting decimated by cucumber beetles. I learned that the adults tend to overwinter in Southern California. In the spring, they take wing and FLY all the way up to the Northwest, traveling as much as 500 miles/day. For an insect that's half the size of your littlest fingernail, that deserves some respect! They land on farms all over the west coast - ours included. They start munching on anything they can find, lay their eggs at the base of plants, and then die. The next generation hatches in the late summer, feeds on the farm, and then usually takes off for Southern California as winter approaches. Our climate is mild enough that some of them overwinter here, giving them a head start on those baby chard plants in early April!
So enjoy that chard, holes and all, and don't forget to visit the
to check out the new recipes this week, and to share your own recipes with other folks.