CSA June 26, 2013

Notes from the Farm:

Since week one, we have focused on lettuce;  seeding, planting the delicate seedlings, and harvesting.  You will notice an abundance of it in your CSA box, so we hope you have some good salad dressing on hand!

One of the more frequent questions we are asked in the early summer is if we’ve got everything planted.  This is a loaded question, like asking parents of small children if they are getting a lot of sleep.  Planting is a continuous process throughout the summer.  Of course, the first week of June is when many people feel it is finally safe to  plant their frost sensitive vegetables – tomatoes, basil, and squashes, for example – so this is a busy time of year for gardeners and farmers alike.  For crops that take all summer to produce, it is good to get them in early. But there are other vegetables that can be planted later in the season, and even successively, to harvest more than one yield.  Lettuce is a great example: When the weather gets hot, lettuce tends to get bitter as it ages, making it unpalatable for most people.  This necessitates continuous plantings to get mild, crisp lettuce. And almost everyone loves a good salad in the heat of the summer!  So we should be through planting sometime in August.  Enjoy your salad!

This Week’s CSA

This week’s share includes kale, swiss chard, rutabaga greens, head lettuce, garlic scapes, and green onions.  For fresh herbs this week, you will find both spearmint and oregano.

Storage Notes

As you might expect, all of the items this week will do fine in plastic bags stored in the veggie crisper of your refrigerator.

Usage Notes

In case any of you had questions about the garlic scapes, the entire scape is edible, but there can be a tough section at the base of the yellowish-white blossom that can use more cooking time.  The green stems are most commonly cut into small pieces and cooked.  Garlic scapes are mild in flavor so you can add extra when substituting for garlic cloves.  Scapes are a great addition to breakfast scrambles and stir fries.

Except for the head lettuce, all the greens this week are perfect for sautéing.  The head lettuce is great for salads.  Although not of the buttercrunch variety, the recipe for wedge salad with buttered croutons, would work well for this week’s lettuce.  I realize some of you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of greens this time of year, but fortunately, when cooked, greens really shrink in size.  One hefty bunch of cooked greens should serve 4 people.  The three varieties of greens this week will be great mixed together.  Most greens need to be stemmed before cooking, as the stems are too tough to eat.  The exception is swiss chard.  These rainbow-colored stems have a similar texture to celery and can be used as such.  The light green, gently-lobed rutabaga greens can be treated like a mild mustard green.  Added to a stir fry, cooked greens, or cooked with bacon, these greens will bring a nice mild bite to the dish.  For additional ideas on how to use these great spring time greens, please visit  the website (by clicking on the links highlighted in this post).

Using green onions is fairly straightforward since the only inedible part is the very root end, which needs to be sliced off.  The white base can be cooked or added raw to salads, while the green tops are used as a raw garnish.


Red Bean Gumbo with Greens

Serves 4-6

Courtesy of Deborah Madison Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

While this recipe is delicious on its own, feel free to add some bacon, smoked pork hocks or and Andouille type sausage.

2-3 bunches greens, including kale, mustard style greens, collards, stems removed and discarded

salt and pepper

1/3 cup safflower oil or butter

6 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 1/2 teaspoons thyme

1 1/2 teaspoons oregano

1 tablespoon paprika

2 bay leaves

3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3/4 teaspoon freshly milled pepper

2 large onions, medium diced

2 large bell pepper, medium diced

3 celery ribs, chopped

5 large garlic cloves, minced or put through a press

3 cups cooked red kidney beans or 2 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed

Cook the greens in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 8-10 minutes.  Scoop out greens, reserving water.  Coarsely chop greens and set aside.

Meanwhile, make the roux.  In a large heavy stock pot heat the oil/butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour, reduce the heat to low, and stir constantly with a flat wooden spoon, until the roux is a dark reddish brown color, about 15 minutes.  (A very dark roux is what gives gumbo its distinctive rich taste, so take the time on this step.)  Stir in the seasonings and then add the veggies.  Cook for 10 minutes, then stir in the garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, and 7 cups of reserved cooking liquid.  While occasionally stirring, bring mix to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the beans and greens, cooking for 15 minutes more.

At this point, start tasting the beans, adding salt, pepper, hot sauce, and apple cider vinegar to balance the flavors and heat for your tastebuds.  Serve with cooked rice or cornbread.

CSA June 19, 2013

Notes from the Farm

June is the season of the weeds.  As the days get longer and warmer, these resilient plants sprout and grow at amazing speeds.  Idyllic photos of farms show fields with row after row of crops delineated with a strip of black loamy soil.  There are probably beautiful children playing behind a white picket fence too.

Not our farm. We have weeds; and it’s not such a terrible thing.  Repeatedly working up the soil to kill weeds also messes with the soil structure.  Weeds help cool the earth, retain moisture, and protect precious topsoil where the nutrients live.  Weeds such as plantain, shepard’s purse and dandelion have medicinal qualities.  And many weeds, lamb’s quarters, dock leaves, pigweed and salsify to name a few, are tasty and rich in vitamins and nutrients.  We invite you to indulge in some of our weeds!

This Week’s CSA

This week’s share includes kale, spinach, lettuce mixlamb’s quarters, fresh garlic scapeschocolate mint, and lemon balm.

Usage Notes:

The large and beautiful spinach leaves continue to be perfect for cooking or making a wilted spinach salad.  The stem in spinach retains lots of water, so make sure to remove it before cooking so you don’t end up with soggy spinach.  After cooking, take time to drain excess liquid before adding to a dish.

Kale, at the beginning of the season, is still very tender, making it suitable raw in salads or used in a gently massaged kale salad.  Kale greens pair well with olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic, potatoes, legumes, pasta, and eggs.  You will find more ideas on how to use kale on the website along with cooking ideas.

Lamb’s quarters are a wild annual green with dull green leaves that have toothed edges, while the garlic scapes look like a long green pencil that smells of garlic.  Basic information on lamb’s quarters and garlic scapes can be found on the website as well.

Both members of the mint family, lemon balm and chocolate mint are each great for tea and desserts.  Lemon balm, with its crinkled, serrated leaves, is native to southern Europe and western Asia.  When crushed, the leaves have a fresh lemon scent that makes it perfect in marinades for fish and chicken.  It can also be used to flavor sugar cookies, compound butters, and cheesecakes.

Chocolate mint has dark green to purple leaves with the scent of an after dinner mint.  It is great in chocolate desserts, fruit salads, ice creams, and custard-based desserts.  Additional information on mint and lemon balm can be found on the website.  For a refreshing summer cocktail, here is an idea from Bon Appetit.  Using lemon balm as a search function on cooks.com, you will find several recipes for desserts using the fresh lemony herb.


Spinach Salad with Apples and Almonds

(serves 4)

Courtesy of Edward Espe Brown Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings

1 large bunch of spinach, stemmed

1/2 cup almonds

1/2 teaspoon cumin seed

1/2 teaspoon coriander seed

juice of one fresh lime, about 1/4 cup

1 tablespoon honey

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 clove garlic, optional

1 good eating apple or your favorite fruit

1/4 cup olive oil

Stem spinach leaves.  Wash well and then spin dry.  Cut the largest leaves into halves or thirds.

Roast almonds for 7-8 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Let cool and roughly chop almonds.

For the dressing, grind whole spices in a spice grinder.  In a small bowl, combine ground spices, honey, lime juice, salt and pepper.  Quarter the apple, remove the core, and slice into thin lengthwise pieces.  Toss slices with the dressing.

Put the spinach in a stainless steel or wooden bowl.  Heat the olive oil in a small pan until nearly smoking.  Pour over the spinach with one hand, while using tongs to toss the spinach with the other.  If the spinach in not sufficiently wilted, press clumps on it into the hot pan using the tongs.  Then toss the spinach with the apples and dressing.  Check for salt and pepper.  Garnish with toasted almonds.

CSA June 12, 2013

This Week’s CSA

This week’s share includes spinach, a lettuce mix, dock leaves, radishes and horseradish root: More spring leafy greens to add some fiber to our diet after a long winter of heavier foods!

Storage Notes

Details on storage of specific produce can be found on the website, but most items in this week’s share will be fine in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.  Continue to remove leaves from the radish bunch before storage.  Horseradish should be refrigerated, wrapped in a plastic bag, and peeled before using.

Usage Notes

Native to eastern Europe, horseradish, a funny-looking root, thrives in our climate.  It needs to be peeled before using, and make sure to check for a hard and flavorless core that is not worth grating.  Please take time to read the notes on horseradish, as grating this pungent root can cause severe and painful irritation to your sinuses.  You will also find other ideas on how to preserve and use this flavorful root.  Horseradish is often served as a sharp relish to accompany roast beef, but also goes well with fish, eggs, apples, and potatoes.  Horseradish is often served raw but it can also be cooked before eating.  If grated, add it towards the end of cooking, as its pungency mellows with heat.  If roasting whole, treat it like roasting root vegetables.

Dock tastes of spring to me…vibrant with a strong lemon kick.  Dock does not store well, so it is best used within a few days.  Leaves can be added raw to salads for brightness, or can be cooked.  It can be used in the spring green phyllo rolls or mixed with greens for cooking.  I’ve included a recipe for creamed spinach that I think dock would make a great addition to.


Creamed Spinach 

(serves 2)

This old fashioned side dish goes well with French bread or with a poached egg.

1/2 cup heavy cream or whole milk

1 garlic clove, minced

1 shallot, finely diced

1 large bunch of spinach, stems removed

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 tablespoons flour

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Wash spinach well but do not spin or pat dry.  Place spinach in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Cook, covered, with just the water clinging to the leaves, stirring occasionally, until spinach leaves are wilted; 3 to 6 minutes.

Press or squeeze out excess liquid from spinach leaves.  Place cooked leaves in mesh strainer and press against it with a large spatula or spoon, or let leaves cool and hand wring out small bunches of leaves.  Coarsely chop leaves.

Wipe out large pot so you can use it again.  In a small pan, gently warm the cream or milk; keep warm.  In large pan, cook shallot and garlic in butter on medium-low heat, until shallots are softened.  Add flour, stirring constantly, and cook roux for 2-3 minutes.  Slowly whisk in warm cream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 3-4 minutes.  Add spinach, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Cook gently to heat through.

Thanks for Subscribing!

Thank you for subscribing to the Yourganic Farm newsletter. If you accepted your invitation after 7:32 a.m. last Wednesday morning, you probably missed the newsletter that was sent out to accompany last week’s share. You can read it now by clicking on this link: https://yourganicfarm.com/2013/06/.

Please remember that you can access all of this year’s (and last year’s) newsletters directly from the web site at any time by visiting yourganicfarm.com. Just look for “NEWSLETTERS” on the right side of the home page, and scroll down to select the month you’re interested in.

You can also use our web site to find storage and usage notes and recipes for nearly all of the herbs and vegetables that we grow on the farm by scrolling over the “herbs” and “vegetables” links on the left side of the home page.

A new newsletter will be posted to the site (and sent to you via email, if you’re a subscriber) every Wednesday. “Notes from the Farm” are prepared by Pam and Leon, the CSA notes and recipes are provided by Katie Lethenstrom, and the rest of the web site is maintained by me, Renee McGrath.

Please feel free to contact any of us (via the “contact” form on the web site) if you have any questions about the site, or want more information about the farm or your CSA share.

Enjoy the bounty!

CSA June 5, 2013

Notes from the Farm

Welcome to Yourganic Farm!  The month of May was a whirlwind of activity: preparing the fields, sowing seeds, mulching onions, and tending the greenhouses.

The sheep were taken to their summer pasture on the east side of the valley and the calves were taken to their summer grazing grounds.  The pigs, great and small, are on fresh pasture next to the milk cows, who seem to enjoy the company.  When you drive  onto the farm, please go slowly, as many of our critters view their pastures as only suggestions and sometimes go exploring.  We also have an exuberant puppy and a fearless one-eyed cat who may investigate your vehicle if a door is left open.  Most of our chickens are in the scratch pen, so you are relatively safe from a feathered attack.

The spring has been mostly cool and dry in Corvallis, making irrigation a daily chore.  The cool weather has been conducive to growing radishes, spinach and lettuce.  These crops tend to bolt (send up seed heads) in hot weather making radishes fiery, spinach spindly, and lettuce bitter.  Luckily, there are many crops that thrive in the warmer weather as the spring fades.  We will get to enjoy peas, potatoes, carrots… and the list goes on.  We have planted a large variety of vegetables and culinary herbs and hope for a bountiful season to share with you.

This Week’s CSA

Welcome to the start of the CSA! The spring weather brings us plenty of veggies that love the cooler weather:  radishes, lettuce mix, and spinach. You will also find fresh spearmint, thyme and oregano, along with shallots.

Storage Notes

On the website you will find information on how best to store shallots and radishes.  Since the shallots are from last fall, they will probably have a green shoot starting to grow in the middle of the bulb.  Make sure to remove the green center, as the sugar content is higher and can become bitter if cooked.

The fresh herbs, lettuce, radish, and spinach can all be stored in plastic bags in the crisper section of your refrigerator.  Remember to remove the tops of the radishes so the roots stay crisp during storage.

Usage Notes

Many of these veggies will make a light green salad that goes well with a shallot dressing  which can be found on the website, along with my favorite  way to serve fresh radishes as an appetizer.

If you do not plan on using the herbs fresh, they can be dried and stored for later usage.  Herb butter is also a nice way to incorporate the flavors of thyme and oregano into cooked veggies, grains, potatoes. Or, add a small piece over cooked seafood.  Both thyme and oregano go well with grilled meats, Mediterranean dishes, soups, and roasted vegetables.

Native to the Mediterranean region, oregano is used widely in Italian, Mexican, and Greek cuisine.  Finely chop the fresh leaves for a great addition to pasta sauces, pizza, bean dishes, taco fillings, stuffing, or grilled veggies.

Native to southern Europe, spearmint can be found growing around the world and has been incorporated into many cuisines.  In addition to providing a bright refreshing flavor, mint is also known to help with digestive ailments.  For those who enjoy summer drinks, spearmint will go well with lemonade, mint juleps and mojitos.  Mint tends to bruise easily so it needs to be handled with care.  If using in cooked dishes, add freshly chopped at the last moment, as the flavor diminishes with prolonged heat.


Fresh Herb Rub    (makes generous portion for one whole chicken)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves

4 garlic cloves, minced

zest from one lemon

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons melted butter, olive oil, or combination of both

1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes, optional

Combine the above ingredients in a bowl, stirring to combine.  If using skin on chicken, loosen the skin and gently rub paste under the skin.  This rub also goes well with steamed new potatoes or tossed with cooked veggies.  Can be stored for up to 10 days in the refrigerator.