2016 CSA Week 12

Shoot, somehow I am putting 10 things in the shares this week?! What a great time to talk about how we decide what we put in the shares and the share value over the course of the season.

So we are usually shooting for 8 items a week. This makes it so we can put a reasonable amount of each item in the full shares and about ½-3/4 of that amount of each item in the partial shares. Often one or two items in the partial shares will be ~really small!~ and that is simply to keep the total value for the week reasonable while giving our partial share families the same variety of produce the full shares are getting. The share values are a minimum of $25/week for full shares and 17.50/week for partial shares. The first six weeks and the last four weeks we usually stick pretty close to that share value and the remaining 11 weeks of the season, usually week 7-18 we go over the value price up to $30/week for full shares and ~20/week for partial. This week is our first week this year of going over that 30/20 peak season goal. We are having a great season and are happy to share some of the extra extra bounty with you all.


Partial Share 
Carrots ~ Bundle
Cucumber ~ 1 silver slicer or asian slicer
Shallots ~ 1 
Basil ~ Partial Bundle 
Green Cabbage ~ ½ large
Zuchini or Patty Pan Squash ~ 2 
Lettuce Mix ~ Partial Bag 
Tomatoes ~3/4#
Kale ~ Partial Bundle 

Full Share
Carrots ~ Bundle
Cucumber ~ silver slicer or asian slicer
Shallots ~ 2
Basil ~ Bundle
Green Cabbage ½ large ½ extra large
Zuchini or Patty Pan Squash ~ 3
Lettuce Mix ~ Bag
Tomatoes ~ 1#
Kale ~ Bundle

Recipe Ideas for the week
Man this time of year gets busy doesn't it? While I'm horrible at making freezer meals I am awesome at making sure we eat well by staying on top of meal prep. What am I talking about? Well, having the pantry stocked with staples like milk, eggs, good salt, and great fats, and making sure there is always meat thawed out, and that I've got large glass Pyrex tubs full of washed cut up veggies means I've always got a meal I can put together in ten minutes.

(cucumber taxonomy)

I also like to have a couple casserole dishes full of pre-roasted veggies ready to go. Especially when it's hot. At 8 p.m. put washed cut up veggies in the oven + a stick of butter = awesome food and no hot kitchen for the next day.

Oh, and I also have a 4 qt Pyrex bowl with a lid that fits a 1# bag of salad mix. Salad always on the ready!

I also always like to have already cooked rice or potatoes in the fridge. It saves so much time in the kitchen to set aside some time for washing and chopping up enough produce for three days or even for the whole week at a time.

So, what is a shallot?
A member of the onion family, a shallot is milder than an onion and makes it wonderful for adding as a topping to a raw dish. They are also wonderful added raw to a casserole. They have a sweeter and yet more garlicky flavor than onions. They are also really good grilled. I do like sauteing them and using them just as you would an onion but they are milder so you can use more than you would use with onions.

WHOA! That's a big cabbage! Right? Here is our absolute favorite things to do with these cabbage monsters. Cut them into wedges (I like about 6 wedges per half a cabbage) and GRILL them. You can find more detailed directions from the always inspiring thekitchn.com
Grilled cabbage is awesome topped with a basil pesto (what isn't good with basil pesto?!)

WE LOVE POTATOES so much. These fresh little gems are great roasted with butter, boiled and served with simple herbs, butter and salt, or pan fried. They are delicious!

Next week: Basil, Carrots, Zucchini, I know I said it last week BUT I think next week we'll have peppers and eggplant for CSA. Also, keep fingers crossed that chard will be back to it's pre-hail finery.

2016 CSA Week 11

It's funny that last week I started the newsletter out with 'it would be nice to have a crystal ball'. Our Thursday CSA folks already got a little note in their box that a few things in their box had pock-marks on them from hail. We had to make a substitution in the shares for the lettuce mix; which looked like someone had tap danced on it. It's true, we got 7 minutes of marble sized hail last Tuesday night and it did damage to our mid-sized tender leaved crops: two weeks worth of lettuce mix, the chard, and Toscano and Russian kale. It's nothing we won't recover from. And for a variety of reasons, it was a really good learning opportunity.

Last Monday I was riding a wonderful euphoric farming high as we came around the bend of the half way point of the harvest season. We had withstood multiple spring wind storms, unseasonably warm early weather, an unseasonable cool July, more than average rain, and everything was looking SO GOOD! We started getting the garlic in and out of 1200 heads there was maybe a pound of garlic that wasn't premium, and I'm estimating the average head size at 6 oz. (AMAZING!) It seems the fertility management and crop rotations we've been practicing the past four years are working! And we are selling out at market, could be taking way more, and our CSA has a waiting list! (YEAR FOUR! WAHOO!) We saw a bit of a gnarly storm coming on the Doppler and rushed to get things covered. As soon as the hail started I set the timer and prayed for it to blow over quickly. I learned a lot from the storm about being ready next time, and I was also reminded that things are going to happen and we won't be ready for them, and that is part of the deal. It leaves us with just that much more wonder and respect that in 8 weeks a seed not much larger than a grain of sand can grow into an 8 pound cabbage. And in the blink of an eye, it can be returned to the earth. And more seeds can be planted to takes its place.

We're finally getting some seasonal weather stuff on the farm this week, and plants are just going crazy! Get ready for summer-time veggies in your box.
Tomatoes (DO NOT REFRIDGERATE YOUR TOMATOES) will be in a separate bag at pickup. There will be a Partial and Full sized paper bag of tomatoes this week!

Partial Share Full Share
Carrots -Partial Bundle
Cucumber -1 'pickling' 
Snow Peas (hail dinged) -Partial Bag
Lolla de Rosa Onions -Partial Bundle 
Cilantro -Partial Bundle 
Cauliflower -Medium 
Zuchini or Patty Pan Squash -2 
Super Greens -Partial Bag 

 Full Share
Carrots - Bundle
Cucumber - 1 'slicer'
Snow Peas (hail dinged) - Bag
Lolla de Rosa Onions - Bundle
Cilantro - Bundle
Cauliflower - Large!
Zuchini or Patty Pan Squash - 3
Super Greens - Bag

Recipe Ideas for the week
Let's talk about this cauliflower. We are trialing a bunch of varieties this year and we have purple, orange, and white. They all taste pretty much the same despite the awesome differences in color. I love roasting cauliflower in butter in the oven, but now that it's hot out we will most likely be brushing it with avocado oil (my favorite for high heat grilling) and grilling it in our grill basket.
Super Greens this is a new idea for us. These are a mixture of mustard, kale, arugula, and Asian greens harvested at baby size and good either raw in salads, or oh-so-slightly sauteed for a braising green. I really like them raw, especially pared with a nice creamy homemade dressing. Too busy to make dressing? Too hot to turn on the oven? Try a bed of super greens with a shredded carrot and diced cucumbers on top, some Annie's Green Goddess Dressing, and a drained can of sardines. Talk about a nutrient dense power lunch. The energy to dig carrots for days :) (Don't like sardines? This would also work great with leftover cold chicken or lentils.)
Lolla de Rosa or “red long” is an heirloom sweet red onion. They are great raw or cooked in any dish.
Cucumbers some of the cucumbers we are growing will look very familiar to you and some are going to look super unfamiliar. They are all wonderful and you just peel them, slice them, eat them. We will be putting a visual guide to our cucumbers on our facebook/instagram page later this week to help you identify what kind you are getting in your box.
Tomatoes the small very regularly shaped tomatoes are a mini slicer 'saladette' variety called Glacier. After trialling DOZENS of tomato varieties the last three years I'm really happy with the big tomato flavor in those little tomatoes. Glacier will be happy to sit on your counter until you get around to eating them. The irregularly shaped thinner skinned tomates are heirlooms. These are packed with flavor but don't have much shelf life; if fully red they should be eaten in 1-2 days. If still a bit orange in the 'shoulder,' it can sit on the counter a few days. ALL OF OUR TOMATOES (as well as EVERYTHING ON OUR FARM) are non-GMO!

I'm looking forward to making a carrot/cauliflower/snow pea stir fry with peanut sauce and cilantro this week. Next week: Basil, Carrots, Eggplant? Peppers, shallots, Salad Mix, and MORE TOMATOES (tomato dance!)  

2016 CSA Week 10

I'm thinking a crystal ball would be a really good investment for a Montana vegetable farmer.

If we would have seen this weather coming we would have planned a bit differently. We definitely could have gotten away with late June and early July plantings of Asian greens, arugula, salad turnips, radishes and spinach this year. But, who could have known it would be rainy and cool? Like I mentioned last week, we are loving this weather and guess what else is? Ohmygoodness Romanesco! It's in your box this week. Seriously amazing!

Despite all the time we spend planning planting dates and working on our crop calendar in the winter, unusual weather like this is a good affirmation on the common sense of being a diversified farm. Weather that isn't the best for one crop is perfect for another. Tomatoes a little late? No problem when you are harvesting three-pound heads of broccoli! Sure the beans will be 10-14 days later than usual, but the peas are so prolific with the cooler weather. Speaking of planting dates, in what always seems like sheer lunacy this time of year when we are starting to get up to our eyeballs in vegetables; we've got our first succession of fall crops going in the ground this week with more to follow every two weeks for the next six weeks. Let the awesome train keep rolling down the tracks for months to come.

As crazy as it seems to have so much seeding and transplanting on my crop calendar for this Monday, I know all the planning that went into it this winter, and I Trust The Planting Calendar and keep on seeding.

A common comment we get in spring is “I can't believe you have ____ already.” And into summer and fall “I can't believe you still have ____.” As you can imagine, having enough produce to create diverse CSA shares 21 weeks in a row and go to market with a truck full of a wide range of vegetables 24 weeks in a row takes...A TON of planning, intention, and multiple succession plantings throughout the season!

CSA WEEK 10 Partial Share Full Share
Golden Beets - Partial Bundle
Red Cabbage - ½ small 
Sugar Snap Peas - Partial Bag 
Green Onions - Partial Bundle
Basil - Partial Bundle 
Romanesco - Medium 
Zuchini or Patty Pan Squash - 1
Lettuce Mix - Partial Bag 

Full Share
Golden Beets - Bundle
Red Cabbage - ½ large
Sugar Snap Peas - Bag
Green Onions - Bundle
Basil Partial - Bundle
Romanesco - Large!
Zuchini or Patty Pan Squash - 2
Lettuce Mix - Bag

Recipe Ideas for the week:

I picture you opening your CSA box and scratching your head...what the heck is THAT?

That is a Romanesco, an Italian heirloom which is technically a cauliflower but I think it tastes more like broccoli. You can use it in any recipe that you would use for cauliflower or broccoli, roast it, saute it, steam it, grill it. They are beautiful chopped up and grilled in the grill basket.

I know those green onions got a bit big; back when we were harvesting green onions I was about 50 bundles shy of being able to take them to market in spring; looks like I accidentally set them out a few rows over mixed in with the shallots and noticed them when weeding last week. I'm actually surprised that sort of thing doesn't happen more often. Even though they are big they are super yummy. The tops are big and crunchy and yummy.

Golden Beets are so good boiled or roasted and served with butter. They don't have the same earthy flavor as red beets and are a bit sweeter. They make ugly soup though. No borscht for these beets!
Golden beet tops are seriously my favorite green (I know you are thinking: 'you say that about all the greens') But seriously, don't throw them out and don't eat them just because 'they are healthy.' Yeah, it's true. They are chock full of potassium BUT eat them because they are awesome.
I like to saute an onion, chop up the beet greens, saute a few minutes and then add balsamic vinegar and cook another minute.

Next week: Basil, Carrots, Cauliflower, Tomatoes? Cucumbers? (COME ON TOMATOES AND CUCUMBERS!!!)

Looks like it's finally going to start feeling like summer this week. Keep cool and enjoy your veggies,

2016 CSA Week 9

Well 2016 sure has been a funny year for weather. The cooler weather last week isn't great for growing zucchini, but MAN it sure makes for nice weather for folks who work outside. We are loving it. And, other than the first fruiting vegetables such as zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers (I know...all the things we are all SUPER excited about) are coming a bit slower than normal the plants all look super healthy and this weather isn't hurting them at all. They are just patiently waiting for things to heat up so they can GO CRAZY! The only thing I look at daily and wonder...hmm...is the corn, which is growing so slowly… I'm thinking it should be, well, calf-high by the 10th of July, and that should be okay...I hope....

Now, what is really growing exquisitely are our main planting of kohl crops including broccoli, cauliflower, and romanesco (an Italian heirloom cauliflower), and cabbages. All these guys you have had in your shares so far have been from our first early planting, we were happy with the size and quality of those, but this planting is straight up knocking our socks off. We took just a few of each to market last Saturday that didn't look like they would hold in the field until this week and the broccoli was, on average 1 ¾ pound per head and robustly healthy. Dinner plate sized broccoli is so fun to harvest and pack into the CSA boxes.

We continue to be amazed by how well things are going on the farm this year. We are staying on top of the weeds, we are actually trellising and pruning the tomatoes and cucumbers instead of them being overgrown and all over the place. We are making time to foliar spray our tomatoes once every two weeks with an organic fish fertilizer. We are staying on top of our record keeping and just overall starting to feel like we know what we are doing a little bit this year. IT'S A GOOD FEELING!

Oh and we wanted to thank all of you for being so great about picking up your veggies each week. Seriously, you guys are awesome. And we totally understand if once a season you forget to pickup your veggies. But, wow, the last three weeks no one has forgot! That is just...amazing...you guys are awesome Thank you!

Partial Share Full Share
Carrots - Partial Bundle 
Snow Peas - Partial Bag
Mini Onions - Partial Bundle 
Rainbow Chard - Partial Bundle 
Cilantro - Partial Bundle 
Broccoli - Large 
Bell Pepper - Purple or green - 1 
Zuchini or Patty Pan Squash - 1 small
Lettuce Mix - Partial Bag

Full Share
Carrots - Bundle
Snow Peas - Bag
Mini Onions - Bundle
Rainbow Chard - Bundle
Cilantro - Bundle
Broccoli - Extra Large!
Bell Pepper - Purple or green - 2
Zuchini or Patty Pan Squash - 1 medium
Lettuce Mix - Bag

Recipe Ideas for the week!
Mini Onions – guys, I'm loving these onions and I hope you are too. I've been chopping the roots and keeping them on hand for adding to anything and everything. I love that the tops are small enough for a really nice green onion and I keep a Pyrex dish of those chopped up in the fridge for a quick addition...to...ANYTHING! (Did I mention I'm LOVING THESE!?)

Broccoli- I'm begging of you to eat every bit of this. I'm sure you have a favorite recipe for broccoli. I'm planning on making a yummy onion, broccoli, snow peas, and carrot stir fry this week. Save the broccoli stalks by putting them in a freezer bag, storing them in the freezer. Chop them up for a creamy broccoli soup on a cool day (which I wouldn't normally say in July but...it's been a strange year for weather...we had stew one night last week?!). Our kids LOVE broccoli soup. I don't really use a recipe; just saute onions in butter, add broccoli stems and cook until infused with butter/onion goodness and cover with stock. Cook until Broccoli is tender and the use an immersion blender and serve with heavy cream.

I've been loving these first zucchinis lightly sauteed with butter and onions and finely chopped rainbow chard, cooking it a few minutes and then adding some scrambled eggs for a lovely breakfast dish.

The Cilantro and Lettuce Mix would pair beautifully for a taco salad topped with the first bell peppers of the year. Don't forget you can use the carrot tops for pesto or for adding a handful to the blender/food processor when making salad dressings/dips.

Next week: Looks Like Cauliflower/Romanesco, Kale, Basil, and Golden Beets will be some of the treasures in your CSA Box next week. 

2016 CSA Week 8

The newsletter is on hiatus this week!  Happy Independence Day!!.  PS ~ We weren't able to take a photo without little Oliver's hand sneaking in the frame. ☺

CSA WEEK 8 ~ Partial Share 
Cabbage ~ ½
Kale Partial ~ Bundle
Golden Beets ~ Partial Bundle 
Onions ~ Partial Bundle
Sugar snap peas ~ Partial bag 
Broccoli ~ Med Head
Lettuce Mix ~ Small Bag
Basil ~ tiny bundle  
Either 1 patty pan, zucchini, or purple pepper

Full Share
Cabbage ~ 1
Kale ~   Bundle
Golden Beets ~ Bundle
Onions ~ Bundle
Sugar snap peas ~ Bag
Broccoli ~ Large Head
Lettuce Mix ~ Bag
Basil  ~  small bundle
Either 1 patty pan, zucchini, or purple pepper