2018 CSA Weeks 20 & 21

~~~~****This is our Final Week of CSA 2018****~~~~

What an amazing growing season this has been!

All of us here at Lower Valley Farm, Myself (Mandy), Jay, Our Full Time Farmer Kari, Our Packshed Crew Katie and Jeanne, Our Field Worker Kayty, Our Work Trade Crew Allyson and Liz, and our volunteer Leta. These folks have blessed our farm with their skilled hands. Blood, Sweat, and Tears--quite literally--and a LOT of laughter have all happened in the fields this year. From seeding, cultivating, trellising, building, harvesting, washing, bundling, bagging, and packing csa boxes, this crew has gone above and beyond.

Our goals at the farm are:
To grow exceptionally high quality, nutrient-dense, fresh organic food
To meaningfully give back to our community
To be stewards of the land, improving and building better soil every year

Thanks to working in partnership with a fun and hard-working crew and a wonderfully dedicated community of eaters (that’s YOU!), we are ending this CSA season with these goals met beyond our expectations.

What a gift it is for us to grow seasonal food for you. From our farm to your home, this work is incredibly rewarding and we are so thankful for each and every one of you.

CSA week 20/21 Partial shares get all the same veggies in ½ - ¾ amounts.
“Candy Carrots”--These are the best carrots of the year! Harvested after a few frosts sweetens these sweet carrots!
Sweet Onions
Buttercup Squash--This is one of the sweetest varieties of winter squash, and the seeds can be roasted like pumpkin seeds.
Medley of Golden, Chioggio, and Red Beets
Mini Lettuce
Delicata Squash--This creamy-colored squash with green stripes cooks up so tender that you can eat the peel. See below for a delicious way to prepare it.
French Heirloom Potatoes-Size of a red potato, texture of a fingerling potato

Recipe of the Week: Delicata Squash Fries (Adapted from pasturedkitchen.com)

Ingredients: 1 delicata squash, scrubbed 1 T. avocado oil or melted coconut oil ½ t. Salt Pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice off ends of squash, cut in half lengthwise, and scoop out seeds. Cut into ½-inch slices. Toss squash slices with oil and salt and pepper. Feel free to add any other spices, like smoked paprika, cinnamon, cumin + chili powder, etc. Place slices on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip over and bake about 10 minutes more, until edges are crispy and browned.

Recipe of the Week: Roasted Beet Soup (Adapted from williams-sonoma.com)

Ingredients: 3 large red or yellow beets, trimmed, leaving 1 inch of stem 1 1/2 T. olive oil 1 Tbs. unsalted butter 1 shallot, chopped 4 cups chicken, beef or vegetable broth Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, for serving 2 T. coarsely chopped fresh dill, for serving

Directions: Roast the beets Preheat an oven to 350°F. Put the beets in a baking dish and drizzle with the olive oil, turning them to coat well. Roast until the beets are easily pierced with a fork, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel and coarsely chop them.

Cook the soup In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallot and sauté until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the beets and broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

Puree the soup Using a food processor or immersion blender, process the soup to a smooth puree. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the cheese and dill and serve. Serves 4.

2018 CSA Week 19

****Final week of CSA will be the week of September 23rd-29th. We will be combining weeks 20 and 21 into a ‘double box’, including both a week’s worth of fresh veggies and a collection of the storage crops: garlic, shallots, potatoes, and winter squash.****

One of our goals this year was to make the CSA box truly reflect the passing of the seasons in our region. We are so excited about the beautiful fall food in the boxes for the month of September this year; they are a wonderful reflection of the passing of summer to autumn.

This week we’ve got a taste of storage crops in the medley of root vegetables. Many of these are probably new to you. The purple top turnip is a familiar fall crop, but the watermelon radish (dullish color on the outside and bright pink inside) is starting to be more of a common vegetable. I’ve seen them available at grocery stores and specialty markets. A little less common is the black storage radish. We are putting just a few of these in your box as they have a strong/hot flavor that people either tend to love or really not love.

I know everyone loves Montana summers, which we all lament are much too short, but even shorter is fall which positively slips away into winter in such a short blink of an eye. And what beautiful fall weather we have had the last two weeks and the forecast just has more and more coming!

Every week, fields are coming out of production for the season, our small movable tunnels are being taken down as crops come out of production, and fields are being taken out of production for the season. Our amazing crew has made it possible that this year we were not scrambling at all before the first frost last week. We were completely and totally ready for it! And now our fall crops in your box this week are sweet and flavorful. Safe to say, if you don’t like these carrots or collard greens, then you really do not like carrots or collard greens because they just Do Not get any better than this!

We can’t believe next week is the last week of CSA already and we are so thankful for our fieldwork and packshed crew who have made this such a great season on the farm. We are thankful for the really great weather we have had this year, and we are thankful for each and every one of our CSA members!

Partial shares get all the same veggies in ½ - ¾ amounts.

Watermelon Radish, Black Radish, Purple Top Turnip Medley
Purple and Yellow Carrots
HOT “Ring of Fire” Cayenne Pepper (VERY HOT!) keep away from young kiddos and you may want to wear latex gloves when chopping.
Yellow Onions
Leeks--Slice the white part lengthwise and swish in a bowl of cool water to remove any grit before slicing and sauteing.
Collard Greens--These hardy greens can stand up to a long cooking time. Traditionally, this southern staple might have been cooked in broth along with a smoked meat for a hour or two.
Acorn Squash--Yay! Sweet winter squash at last. It is delicious served with butter and brown sugar or maple syrup, but the steamed flesh can also be substituted for pumpkin in breads and pies.
French Breakfast Radish: The tender tops of this radish can be sauteed or added to a frittata or scrambled eggs.

Recipe of the week: Creamy Leek and Acorn Squash Soup
(Adapted from spicechronicles.com)

1 medium sized (about 2 pounds), acorn squash
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 leeks (thinly sliced, and very well washed white and pale green parts only)
1 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary
1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper (decrease or omit for a less-spicy version)
salt to taste
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, plus more or less for pureeing
1 cup of half and half

Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and roast in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Cool slightly before removing the flesh.
While the squash is cooking, Heat the olive oil and add in the cumin seeds and wait for them to sizzle.
Reduce the heat; add the celery and the leek and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes, until the leeks wilt, shrink and then begin to turn very lightly golden.
At this point add in the ginger, garlic, rosemary and thyme and cook for another minute.
Add in the squash and mix well, then add broth and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes
Carefully place the squash and leek mixture in the blender (or use an immersion blender in the pot) and puree with the half and half. Return to the cooking pot, add more broth if needed and/or adjust seasonings, and heat through before serving.
To serve, garnish with chopped herbs and freshly ground black pepper or even toasted sesame or squash seeds and enjoy!

2018 CSA Week 18

****This year, our final week of CSA will be the week of September 23rd-29th. We will be combining weeks 20 and 21 into a ‘double box’, including both a week’s worth of fresh veggies and a collection of the storage crops: garlic, shallots, potatoes, and winter squash.****

Last week was a busy week at the farm. We got all the garlic and onions ‘cleaned’ and packed. They don’t get washed; they just get the tops removed and put into appropriate storage depending on airflow and temperature needs. We also got all the winter squash picked up out of the fields and set out to cure in one of our low tunnels.

It was a good season for winter squash; if you like to plan and know what’s coming in your CSA, it looks like we’ll have:
Spaghetti Squash-week 18
Acorn Squash-week 19
Buttercup and Delicata week 20/21
When we put the squash away to cure we take the most perfect and beautiful 130 squash of each variety and set those aside first for our 130 CSA families, then we set some aside for our family for the fall and winter, and the rest is for market and wholesale.

We always plan and harvest this way all season long, CSA first, and everything else after that. It’s fun to see the physical manifestation of that with our storage crops hanging, boxed up, and the winter squash curing.

We are so excited to be including the first of the winter squash in your CSA box this week. Since spaghetti squash isn’t sweet, it doesn’t need to cure as long as the other winter squashes, so they are always the first to make an appearance at market and in CSA for the season.

You might be wondering...wait?...squash needs to cure?! Yes, it does! In regions with warmer nights this is easily done in the field, but in our northern climate we have to get a bit fussy with our squash all season long. First, it’s started on heat mats and transplanted out at 10 days old, just to give it a jumpstart in our cool spring soil. Next, we transplant into reusable landscape fabric and water with reusable drip irrigation, then (guys...of all the steps as a native Hoosier...this one seems insane…) we actually cover the squash for the first 2 to 4 weeks for extra nighttime heat and to guard against late frost. Then we harvest and cure in a tunnel. That’s a lot of steps for the humble winter squash. But it’s worth it to have the delicious nutrient-dense flavors of fall. Winter squash has become one of our favorite crops to grow.

A note about aphids in the Brussels sprouts. These are the “cleanest” (clean of bugs) crop of Brussels we’ve ever grown. And yet, when opening each little sprout it seem there are tiny aphids hanging out in the inner layers. It is important us, as local organic growers, to strive to always have produce that is clean of dirt and bugs. With the Brussels we are making the call to put them in the shares; they need an extra soak in a bowl of cold water. We often joke about ‘an extra bit of protein’ and keep any ‘seconds’ or slightly damaged produce for our family and the crew. But, we are proud of these Brussels sprouts, bugs and all. They were set out at the same time as the early cabbages and cauliflower; those have all been flail mowed and returned to the earth. These crazy plants have been in the ground 100 days, and they picked up some aphids in the last 7 days AND they’re crazy delicious.

Partial shares get all the same veggies in ½ - ¾ amounts.

Thai Basil
Green and Purple Bells
Just a few sweet “snacking” bells
Red Onions
Braising Bundle of Asian Greens, Mustards, and Kales
Red Onions
Tomatoes - Slicers and a few glaciers
Spaghetti Squash
Brussels sprouts--Brussels + bacon = Delicious!!

Recipe of the week: Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes and Feta (Adapted from allrecipes.com)

1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons sliced black olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Thai basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and lightly grease a baking sheet, or cover with parchment paper.

Place spaghetti squash with cut sides down on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance.
Remove squash from oven and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Cook and stir onion in oil until tender.
Add garlic; cook and stir until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are warmed through.

Use a large spoon to scoop the stringy pulp from the squash and place in a medium bowl.
Toss with the vegetables, feta cheese, olives, and basil.
Serve warm.

2018 CSA Week 17

****This year the final week of CSA will be the week of September 23rd-29th. We will be combining weeks 20 and 21 into a ‘double box’, including both a week’s worth of fresh veggies and a collection of the storage crops: garlic, shallots, potatoes, and winter squash.****

Hello wonderful CSA families! Have you guys seen the 10-day weather forecast? We are so excited to see such beautiful weather for early September. Crisp mornings and shorter days sure feel like Autumn. You will see the shift in the seasons fully reflected in your first CSA box of September.

Nothing marks the beginning of fall to me like winter squash. After harvesting all the winter squash last week it’s gotten us really excited about fall cooking and eating. Next week you’ll get a spaghetti squash in your box, and the following weeks you’ll get a little parade of squash and get to taste test the difference in colors, textures, and flavors of winter squash.

We love the early greens and first quick green onions and radishes of spring, the delight of the first carrots and heading kohl crops of early summer, the bounty of peak season in July and August, but the waning of the season in September might just be my favorite time for bountiful seasonal eating. Or, maybe, whatever I happen to be eating is always my favorite thing!

Early autumn vegetables hold a special place in my heart. And we are so excited to include the colors and flavors of early autumn in this share and the next three shares to come.

Our garlic has been cleaned, sorted, and graded for the year, with 120 pounds of seed set aside for planting in October and 100 pounds set aside for CSA members for weeks 20/21. The onions are almost fully cured and will be cleaned and sorted for the remaining weeks as well. We have beautiful turnips, winter radishes, collard greens, curly kale (in the boxes this week), that were all planted at the absolute peak of the season in anticipation of cold weather to come in September; these crops not only can tolerate cold nights but actually sweeten up after a frost.

Speaking of sweetening up after a frost, it took us five years but we seem to have, FINALLY, grown some really nice brussels sprouts. We are hoping they get a frost on them before they need to be harvested, as ‘frosted’ brussels are amazing. Both the brussels and the fall leeks (also coming in September!) have been in the garden for over 100 days and we love seeing them standing in the fields ready to march into fall CSA boxes. We also have a beautiful crop of our final fall planting of carrots of the year. The last planting of carrots, seeded early July, are harvested at baby size after a frost and are always The Best Darn Carrots Of The Year.

Partial shares get all the same veggies in ½ - ¾ amounts.

Hot Poblano Peppers--Roast these by placing on a sheet pan under the broiler for a minute or two until the skins are blistered, then rotating so all sides get nice and charred. Place in a paper bag until cool, then peel, deseed, and add the chopped peppers to a pot of chili or batch of enchiladas for a little bit of heat.
Mini Napa Cabbage-This size Napa is our absolute favorite for using raw for adding to salads and using for wraps.
Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers--If you don’t like a lot of heat, you can temper these super-hot peppers by slicing them in half, removing the seeds and pith and soaking the deseeded pepper halves in a mixture of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water for about an hour before using in a recipe. The pepper halves can be stuffed with herbed cream cheese and baked at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until softened and bubbly.
Either Baby Kale or Super Greens
Red Onion and Sweet Onions
Carrots with Tops--The carrot tops on these are the same tender green as the spring variety. Use it instead of basil for a “carroty” pesto, or saute them.
Tomatoes, slicers and a few glaciers
Curly Kale--Add to a soup, saute, or stir-fry, or use anyway you would use collards or kale.
Red French Heirloom Potato-technically a ‘fingerling’ this heirloom variety is larger than most fingerlings. More the size of a red potato but with the texture and flavor of a fingerling potato. This is our very favorite potato variety!

To celebrate Labor Day this year, we read the dramatic chapter from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy where Almanzo helps to bring in the potatoes before the ground freezes, and then all went out as a family to harvest the last of our potatoes. And because they're always eating cake in this book, when we were done, we all went in and had a slice of cake!

We always give our fantastic crew Labor Day off, and feel a special affinity for this holiday. Cheers to all you workers out there who help make this farm possible!

Recipe of the Week: Zucchini and Potato Pancakes
(Adapted from tasteofhome.com)

3 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini (about 2 medium)
1 cup shredded potato
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for grated veggies
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika--sweet or smoked
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 small onion, finely chopped
2-4 tablespoons olive/avocado/coconut oil

Grate the zucchini and potatoes and toss with 1-2 teaspoons of salt in a colander to draw out excess moisture. Let drain about 20 minutes.
Place grated veggies in a dish towel and squeeze out as much moisture as you can.
Place veggies in a bowl and mix with remaining ingredients (except oil).
Heat oil in a skillet. Drop fritter mixture by ¼ cupfuls into hot oil and fry 3-4 minutes per side, until browned and crispy.
Serve with applesauce and sour cream, if desired.