For the past several months we have been co-habiting with the boreal toad, also called the Western toad. These creatures love to spend time in the greenhouses in early spring, where it is moist and warm. They hang out in puddles and among the seedlings, sometimes in groups of ten or more. Eventually they venture out to the fields where we find them in the shade of large leaves. This individual prefers the lettuce beds.
This Week’s CSA
Oregano: Native to the Mediterranean region, oregano is used widely in Italian, Mexican, and Greek cuisine. The fresh leaves provide robust flavor that is slightly peppery, with notes of camphor and lemon. The sharpness of this fresh herb mellows when dried. While there are flavor differences in the various varieties of oregano, once dried it can be used in many types of dishes.
Like other fresh herbs, oregano can be stored in a plastic bag in the crisper section of your refrigerator. Oregano can also be dried for future use. Dry in a cool, dark, well ventilated area.
Napa Cabbage: Pale and crinkled, Napa cabbage resembles a vegetable football that is lighter in flavor than a green or red cabbage. With its mild flavor, Napa cabbage is perfect for an Asian style coleslaw, stir fries, or use the whole leaves for stuffing.
Garlic Scapes: Garlic Scapes are the flower top off hardneck garlic. They look like a long green pencil that smells of garlic. 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. Cut before the plant starts to fully flower, the scapes provide a mild fresh garlic flavor that is great added to any dish where you would use a garlic clove. The sugar content is a bit higher so fresh scapes are best added towards the end of cooking to avoid any burning or bitter flavor. The scapes need to be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and are best used fresh since they do not store like whole garlic bulbs. 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.
Arugula: A leafy green in the Brassica family with a strong peppery, pungent flavor, high in potassium and vitamin C. Leaves, flower and mature seed pods are all edible. Use this flavorful green raw in salads or add to sauces or soups.
Baby Beets: The first of the season, small but delicious. Stores best with the tops off. The tops can be eaten as well in a salad, or lightly steamed or sautéed.
Dinosaur and Red Russian Kale: The new craze, except in Ravalli County. Farmers at our market bring kale and then bring it back home again sadly hoping one day citizens will rise to the challenge of eating kale. Jo Robinson, author of Eating on the Wild Side names kale “the king of crucifers … meets or exceeds the nutritional value of some wild greens,” and has “cancer-fighting, heart-protective glucosinolates.” So it’s really good for you, and what do people do? They make a chip out of it. Of course if you put enough fat and salt on almost anything it will taste good. I can already hear the shouts of protest. Go ahead, make them into chips.