What's In Your Basket?
- Seascape Strawberries
- Flashy Trout's Back Lettuce
- Italian Parsley
- Red Cabbage
- Baby Fennel
- More Carrots & Beets
Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
- The variety of cabbage in your basket this week is called "Red Express" - and aptly named crucifer considering it matured about 3 weeks earlier than planned. All the better for us, now that summer slaw season can officially begin!
- We're growing a handful of different cabbage varieties on the farm this season, including reds, greends and savoy types. You'll see them occasionally from now until November.
- Cabbage is an easy keeper and while last for months in your fridge. If you only use a little at a time, put the remainder of the head in a plastic bag each time and keep in the crisper. The cut edge will oxidize and brown, but next time you go to eat some, simply shave off the thin outer layer to reveal perfect cabbage beneath.
- Of, if you want to enjoy your cabbage whole-hog, here are a few recipes that use red cabbage as well as fennel and parsely, which are also in your share this week:
- Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage with Fennel: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Sweet-and-Sour-Red-Cabbage-...
- Cabbage, Fresh Fennel and Carrot Salad: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Cabbage-Fresh-Fennel-and-Ca...
- Italian Coleslaw with Fennel and Capers: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Italian-Coleslaw-with-Fenne...
- Fennel is a little-known and little-appreciated vegetable here in the states, but is widely popular in European and Indian cuisine. Fennel is one of my top 3 favorite summer veggies, which partly explains my mission to convert as many of you into fennel fans as possible!
- The fennel in your basket this week is baby, but as the summer goes on you'll also get fat, luscious, full size bulbs. These petite ones are a special, early summer treat, and we've sent the whole plant with fronds and all so you can not only see what they look like, but enjoy both the bulb and the fronds. The fronds can be used like any fresh herb, chopped into salad, atop fish, etc....
- Fennel has a long, rich history. The Greek word for fennel is "marathon," and so the story goes, the famous Battle of Marathon was fought on a field dotted with the revered fennel plant. Pheidippides, the famous first "marathon" runner who delivered the news of the Persian invasion to Sparta, carried a fennel stalk. Greek myths also hold that knowledge was delivered to man by the gods at Olympus in a fennel stalk filled with coal. The ancient Romans chewed fennel believing it would control obesity, and the Puritans nibbled on fennel seeds as an appetite suppressant during periods of religious fasting to keep themselves from growing hungry. In Medieal times, fennel was hung from rafters to bring good luck and stuffed into keyholes to ward off ghosts and evil spirits. It was though to cure snakebites, toothaches, earaches, colic, and to keep flies away when tied to horses' harness.
- This week you can either tie your fennel to the ceiling for good luck, OR you can savor it in some of these recipes:
- Braised Baby Fennel with Arugula and Feta: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/braised-fennel-arugula-and-feta-c...
- Crab and Fennel Salad: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Crab-and-Fennel-Salad-237183
- There are two kinds of parsley out there: curly and Italian, or flat-leaf. The Italian parsley that's in your share this week was planted this spring, but will most likely over-winter. It's a hardy little plant, and one that produces a wonderful, versatile herb!
- Parsley stores best in the fridge in a plastic bag, or put the stems in a glass of water and keep in the fridge or on the counter. It will keep up to a week that way.
- We are growing a few different varieties of cucumbers on the farm: English (the long, skinny kind you usually see shrink-wrapped in plastic at the store), slicing (your typical cucumber), and pickling (small cukes that we grow to stock the pantry with). You'll be getting English and slicing cukes throughout the season.
- Cukes store best in the fridge, in a plastic bag. They don't stay perky forever, though, so try to eat them up within a week.
- The broccoli has hit its stride! We planted 5 successions of broccoli this spring, so you will be seeing it in your share for at least a few more weeks, through July. If you're feeling overwhelmed by what to do with it all, remember that you can freeze it for winter and enjoy the Valley Flora bounty during those cold, dark months on the other side of the calendar. It's easy:
- Cut your broccoli into florets.
- Bring a pot of water to boil.
- Dunk the florets into the boiling water for a minute to blanch.
- Pull the florets out of the water and dunk into ice water.
- Put florets on cookie sheets and freeze.
- Once frozen, put the florets into a freezer ziploc and stash away for winter!
- Stores best in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag.
- If you're not in the mood to squirrel away your broccoli for later, here's an unusual recipe that will use up all of this week's broccoli: Braised Broccoli with Olives.
- This week's share includes enough arugula to make yourself a batch of arugula pesto. If you don't want to run those beautiful leaves through the blender, add it to a salad or use it as a bed of greens under fish.
- OR, try the unusual combination of arugula and strawberries in this recipe from www.epicurious.com (a great online compilation of Gourmet and Bon Appetit recipes): http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Strawberry-and-Arugula-Sala...
- OR, go to Epicurious.com and enter "arugula fennel" in the search window for a long list of great recipes that will help you combine the unusual ingredients in your share this week.....
- We are just beginning to harvest the june-bearing raspberries, a variety called Cascade Dawn. We will be distributing them on rotation to each pick-up site over the next couple of weeks. We also grow an ever-bearing variety called Caroline that will be coming on later in the summer, so hopefully raspberries will make frequent appearances in your baskets this season.
- What's the difference between a june-bearing and an ever-bearing raspberry? June-bearers are what they call "floricane" varieties, meaing they fruit on second year wood. Ever-bearers are called "primocanes" and they fruit on first year wood. What this means is that the june-bearers produce new canes every year, which we carefully select and tie up onto the trellis. Those canes overwinter and the following June begin to produce masses of fruit. Their season is short, however - less than 4 weeks. The fruit you're eating this week was produced by canes that shot up last spring, in 2008. Ever-bearers on the other hand, produce fruit on this year's canes. They are growing fast right now, and will probably start producing sometime in July. The benefit of ever-bearers is that you can mow them down each fall instead of trellising them, which makes maintenance a lot easier - but you also have to wait longer to get your first raspberry! We grow both kinds in order to extend our raspberry season to its utmost!
- Raspberries are fragile, poor-keepers. Best to eat them within a couple of days, or if you're the delayed gratification type - freeze them for winter! Whipped cream is always a good comrade to raspberries.
On the Farm....
It's been a glorious week on the farm: my best friend from Portland arrived to spend the month of July with us on the farm, I turned 30, and the flowers started blooming! We are starting to dig potatoes, harvest onions, and bring in some heavy yields of cabbage and beets. The carrots are still creeping along - slower than we'd like - but good things are worth waiting for. What we aren't eating now will be more than made up for by the harvests to come!
Enjoy the new veggies in your basket this week, and get ready for your first onions next week!