CSA Newsletter -Week 18- 2016

Sigh. Another summer season has come and gone. It happened so fast! Each year the cycle spins around just a little faster. We are glad you joined us on this little ride and hope you will continue to visit us at the Farmers Markets in Olympia and Tacoma (Proctor) until next year’s CSA starts again. It makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside knowing that we are nourishing so many folks in the community.

I think I can speak confidently on behalf of our crew that we are all looking forward to a reduced (theoretically) work schedule. We can now enjoy later morning start times, earlier bed times, and hunkering down in front of our respective wood stoves and heaters, bowl of soup in hand, long abandoned books and projects ready to be taken up again. When I was younger, I always dreaded the dark, rainy season. Now I almost welcome it. Rest, and perhaps even a little boredom?????

In the next few weeks we will try to get this place all buttoned up for the winter. Like kids who have had their fun playing with the blocks and Legos, we now have to clean it all up. There is drip tape to roll up, trellises to take down, tools to put away, supplies to organize and inventory, greenhouses to clean, pots and flats to put in lofts; it’s a pretty long list and not terribly fun. But it has to get done, so we’ll brew the coffee and carry on. Because we live in a flood plain, we have to put away all the non-essential items now, while we have the luxury of time. It’s no fun to do during a flood. We have a half a dozen crew sticking around into the fall/winter so we’ll get it done.

THE CSA IS OVER, SO NOW WHAT?

You have no doubt gotten used to eating incredibly sweet and tasty fresh veggies all summer, so now what? Well, we have a handful of early and late fall shares left. We will be attending the Olympia and Proctor Farmers Market through the winter. We plan on having a wide variety of veggies all winter long, including fresh greens and herbs like lettuce, arugula, dill, cilantro, kale, and chard.

Sign up for 2017 begins in early January. I’ll send an email with a link after the first of the year.

 

SEEKING FEEDBACK-WE’RE ALL EARS: I don’t have a formal survey for you to fill out (because we all HATE surveys!) but please feel free to drop us line with any and all suggestions, compliments, complaints, observations, etc. We are always striving to improve and your feedback helps us do it. Thank you!

 

WHAT’S IN THE BOX:
Orange carrots
Yellow and purple carrots
Beets and chard
Rutabaga
Potatoes
Yellow onions
Garlic
Pie pumpkin
Delicata squash
Kale
Sweet peppers

ELABORATIONS:

Yellow and purple carrots: We have given these out before. They are a better cooking carrots, as opposed to fresh eating in my opinion, though you may enjoy them raw.

Potatoes: This variety is called Princess La Ratte. They are like most fingerlings-dense, waxy, great for oven roasting, stews, pot roasts, etc. We chose not to wash them for a few couple of reasons. 1. We were up against the clock trying to get the rest of the potatoes out of the ground v=before the monsoon hits tomorrow and 2. They store longer unwashed. You can keep them in the fridge or in a paper bag in a cool location.

Winter Squash: We have sampled all of the varieties, and deemed them sweet enough to eat, so go for it!

Onions: I mentioned many weeks back about the trouble with our onion crop and how many of them ended up being small. We fondly call this particular size of onion “Walters,” named after a customer of ours that specifically seeks them out and buys them by the 10 lb bag throughout the winter. He loves small onions. They are great tossed in whole or halved with pot roasts, or they are perfect when you only need a little bit of onion for a dish. Jim and I prefer the small ones, so we hope you appreciate them too.
BOX RETURN: Whether it is just this week’s box or a whole stockpile, you can return them to the Olympia or Proctor Farmers Market at any time (during business hours, of course). I you pick up at one of the state agencies, you can return your empty boxes there by Monday. Ditto Farm Fresh Market. If you pick up at someone’s home, it would be best to bring the boxes to the market so we don’t clutter up their yard! I’ll make the rounds next week to collect them.

Thank you once again for joining our CSA! Have a great fall and winter. We’ll see you next year!

Your Farmers,

Jen, Jim, and the Rising River Farm Crew.

 

CSA Newsletter -Week 17 -October 5, 2016

Next week is the last week of the summer CSA. We encourage you to bring bags along with you so you can leave the box at the site.

As I type this, rain is falling outside, hot tea is steeping beside me, and 4 varieties of winter squash are baking in the oven, Yep, it’s fall and time to shift gears in the kitchen. Break out the soup pot and roasting pan and start making some warm, nourishing, comfort foods: roasted root vegetables, potato leek soup, stuffed winter squash, sweet breads and muffins!

WHAT’S IN THE BOX:
Carrots
Beets or chard
Leeks
Acorn squash
Spaghetti squash
Potatoes
Celery
Shallot
Garlic
Kale
Kohlrabi
Scarlet queen turnip

ELABORATIONS: I am baking 4 different squash so I know whether or not to give you the green light on eating it yet. I’ll let you know by the end of this letter.

Acorn squash-The green one. It is one of the milder squash varieties, It lacks the extreme sweetness of delicata, which is why it is commonly seen baked with butter and brown sugar. Because of its subtler flavor, it lends itself well to stuffing with onions, peppers, mushrooms, garlic, herbs, strong cheeses, etc. A quick google search of acorn squash will no doubt yield a lifetime of recipes to try.
Spaghetti squash-The yellow one. Most varieties of spaghetti squash are HUGE-often upwards of 6 pounds. I was tempted by this little personal sized one in the seed catalogue and thought I’d give it a whirl. It is called spaghetti squash because when you bake it, the flesh comes off in strands, like…you guessed it…spaghetti!. Cut in half and bake cut side down in a bit of water until you can pierce through the flesh with a fork. Scrape flesh out with a fork using shallow strokes.
Potatoes-King Harry. You’ve had these before. They are very versatile. Use them in potato leek soup or scalloped potatoes.
Celery-Celery is so hard for us to grow, yet we persist.  This celery is smaller than what you might be used to. It has a heartier celery flavor and is a great addition to soups and roasts.
Leeks-They are in the onion family and have a more robust, prominent flavor. Use them in place of an onion in most dishes (but the flavor will stand out). Another google search will give you plenty of inspiration. NOTE: As leeks grow, sometimes dirt gets trapped in the layers. To prepare for cooking, cut off the root end, and trim off all but 3 inches of the green part.  Slice the leek in half lengthwise and fan under running water to rinse out any dirt.
Kale-red Russian or curly kale: Half of you got curly and half got Red Russian. Next week we will switch. I like the Russian for salads, green smoothies, kale quesadillas, and kale chips. The curly kind is great for soups, stir fries, or a quick sauté.
Scarlet queen turnip-really nice, crisp salad turnip. We often cut these into matchsticks along with carrots and kohlrabi, and snack on them. No need to peel. You can also cook with it.
SHALLOT: It is like an onion, only fancier. The flavor is richer and more complex than an onion, but not as distinguishable as a leek. They are often used minced in a vinaigrette or sauteed at the beginning of a soup.

THE SQUASH VERDICT: Okay, so Jim, Betsie and I all tasted the squash I baked. The delicata (no surprise) was sweet and amazing and ready to eat. The acorn, could be sweeter but was pretty darn good, especially if you plan to stuff it or do the classic butter/sugar thing. The spaghetti squash was close. I’d recommend waiting a week or two on that. And finally, the butternut-we all thought it was good, but would be better with age. So, in summation, delicata and butternut are ready now, acorn could go either way, and wait a bit on the spaghetti squash. All will improve over time. We also asked the crew if they had been eating any and what they thought. Teresa has had several good butternuts, Trine had delicata and butternut and gave it the thumbs up, but pour Maryclair had a less than stellar delicata. Such a crap shoot this early on.

Keep warm, stay dry, and start cooking!

 

 

CSA Newsletter – Week 16 – September 28, 2016

This week is the last week for the Height of the Season share. There are 2 weeks left in the Summer Season share. If you are getting a Height of the Season share and just can’t bare for it to end, let me know and you can join for a few more weeks. We also still have a few fall shares left….

Today was a great day. The sun was shining, the air was perfect, and everyone was chipper-probably feeling happy about yet another glorious autumn day. We made a huge dent in the potato harvest. It is one of those jobs where pretty much the whole crew works together to whip it out. We borrowed a digger from one of our fellow organic farmer-neighbors which allowed us to “quickly” dig 12 – 300ft rows. This machine gets dragged behind the tractor, digs up the potatoes, and gently lays them down on the surface of the soil. We then gather them up by hand and put them in 25# bags for storage. We used to use 50 lb bags, and I always complained (and the older I got, the more I complained!) “Not everyone here is a strapping young college student with no back issues,” I’d cry. The crew is with me on this one. Better to lift 500 manageable bags than 250 freakishly heavy and awkward ones.

We grow many different variety of potatoes, some of which yield some crazy shapes. There was a lot of “Hey look at this! It looks like a…(fill in the blank).” We found 2 that looked like Sasquatch hands, and here is a picture of Trine having a little fun with them.

WHAT’S IN THE BOX:
green cabbage
butternut squash
onions
carrots
beets or chard
lettuce
slicing cucumber or lemon cucumber
sweet peppers
sungolds or red tomatoes
broccoli
summer squash

FURTHER VEGGIE COMMENTARY:
Once again I will say “Don’t eat your squash yet!” Squash is one of the few vegetables that actually sweeten up after it is picked.  Channel your inner Martha Stewart and create a fall shrine in the kitchen where you can arrange an artful collection of onions, garlic, and squash . Enjoy its visual beauty, and then eat it!
Butternut squash: This is the quintessential winter squash, probably the first kind you ever had. The flesh is bright orange, sweet, and creamy. It is often used for squash soup.
Green cabbage: They are abundant, and they are huge. We actually had to cut a few of them in half in order to be able to fit them in your box. Don’t worry, we were super clean and sanitary about it and put them right into bags!
Broccoli: Once again you get to enjoy broccoli. We usually don’t have this much to hand out so consistently. It is a combination of a new variety, new ground, and ideal weather. Can’t complain!
Tomatoes and peppers: The tomatoes are flagging, but the peppers seem to be just getting started. You will get an assortment of sweet peppers. If you don’t use them right away, they freeze really well. No need to blanch or cook in any way. Just cut up into the size you like and freeze. I just put up 5 quart bags last night from the weekend market leftovers.

Have a great week!

Jen, Jim, and the Rising River Farm Crew.

 

CSA Newsletter – Week 15 – September 21, 2016

The season is clearly shifting. Mornings are super cold and misty. We all start out with ridiculous amounts of warm woolly layers. As the day wears on, we shed layers like an onion. Sweaters, rain pants, hats, and jackets litter the field, trucks, and barn. It’s like bread crumbs our workers leave behind telling the tale of what they did that day. Tomatoes and peppers are slowing down, and in the case of tomatoes, aren’t looking so hot. Cracks and blemishes are appearing more often than not. How is it already the end of tomato season? A new wave of crops is on the horizon. Leeks are sizing up, kale is looking lush, and winter squash lies in wait under the dwindling protection of dying leaves.

We are slowly pecking away at the big fall projects. All the onions are in, as are half the dry beans. Garlic heads are popped and ready to plant tomorrow if all goes according to plan. We hope to get all the potatoes out of the field early next week. I am so happy to have another stretch of sun!

 

WHAT’S IN THE BOX:
carrots
beets or chard
yellow onions
garlic
Italian Zucchini
Patty pan squash
corn
sungolds or red tomatoes
sweet peppers
broccoli-large shares only
lemon cucumber or slicing cucumber
lettuce
delicata squash
cauliflower-Tumwater only


delicata squash


ABOUT YOUR SQUASH: Don’t eat it yet! It needs a few weeks of sitting around to sweeten up. With only 3 more weeks of CSA after this one, we need to start passing out the winter squash. Your last box would be unbearably heavy if we waited till the very end. This variety, once fully cured, is the sweetest, creamiest squash there ever was. There are countless ways to cook a squash. The easiest is to cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and pulp, and bake cut side down in a rimmed baking dish with a half inch of water. Bake at 375 or so until skin pierces easily with a fork. You can even eat the skin of delicata. Check out the recipes the our website and/or have a little google session for more ideas.
Side note: If you ever bake a squash and it is bland and lacking sweetness, use it to make Cinderella pumpkin muffins. You can adjust the sugar to compensate for bland squash.

HOW MUCH LONGER IS THE CSA?

The Summer Season Share has 3 more weeks after this one. Height of the Season Shares have 1 more week after this one. If you Height of the Season folks want to keep going, let me know. We can prorate the last few weeks.

STORAGE SHARES: We have a handful of these left. They will be delivered on the last day of the Summer Season CSA at whatever pick up site you are currently using. The share consists of: 10 lbs yellow onions, 2 lbs red onions, 2 lbs cipollini onions, 2 lbs shallots, 1 lb garlic, 5 lbs each of 2 types of potatoes, & 15 lbs assorted winter squash. The cost is $75.

If you want to keep enjoying a CSA share when the main season ends, consider signing up for one or both fall shares.
EARLY FALL SHARE: Four additional deliveries starting in late October once the summer season ends.  Since these crops store so well, we only offer the large size. We only offer weekend delivery of the fall share. You can pick it up at the farm, the Olympia Farmers Market, or the Tacoma Proctor Farmers Market. $110

LATE FALL SHARE: Yet another 4 weeks of yummy fall goodness. Delivery starts a week after the EARLY FALL SHARE ends. $110

NOTE: We only offer one size for the fall shares. Pretty much everything you get will store for quite awhile, so there is little risk of loss.
Crop anticipated for both fall shares: carrots (purple and orange), beets, rutabaga, turnips, parsnips, leeks, kale, chard, lettuce, dill, cilantro, arugula, potatoes, onions, garlic, shallots, winter squash, and possibly something new!

Enjoy the sun and your yummy veggies!

Jen, Jim, & the Rising River Farm Crew

 

CSA Newsletter – Week 14 – September 14, 2016

What’s in the box
Orange carrots
Purple carrots
Beets or chard
Watermelon
Red onions
Purple kohlrabi
Cauli -some of you (we are making the rounds)
Brocc-small shares
Sungolds-large shares
Red tomatoes
Slicing or amiga cucumber
Patty pan squash
Italian zucchini
Dill
Potatoes
Corn
Sweet pepper

MORE ABOUT THE VEG:
Purple carrots: In addition to your standard orange carrot, we have included a lovely purple carrot, which are even more nutrient-packed than the orange ones. We find the flavor to be heartier and the texture more substantial. They are good raw, but really shine when cooked. Actually carrots are one of a few veggies that have more available nutrients for you when cooked.
Gold beets-They have a milder flavor than red beets and they won’t bleed everywhere. They are perfect to use in dishes where you want to incorporate beets, but don’t want the whole thing to be magenta. They are also delicious roasted in the oven, or cut into rings and steamed.
Watermelon– Bonus round of yellow doll melon. We thought there would only be enough for a one time hand out. Gotta love hot summers!
Potatoes-King Harry is the variety. It has firm white flesh that holds together well. Good for boiling, steaming, potato salads, roasting, etc.
Cauliflower: I know there is still some of you who haven’t gotten it yet. Be patient. It’s making the rounds.

FOR THE MEAT EATERS: Selma is a long time farmer here in our valley, who raises mostly Icelandic sheep. She is our Icelandic Shepherdess. This spring her ewes gave birth to more lambs than ever before. Many ewes had triplets. Selma thinks this had to do with the very nice pastures they grazed on in late summer and fall. As a result she has many more lambs to sell. If you are into lamb, Icelandic lamb is considered one of the best in the world because of its fine texture and mild flavor. Here is a link to her meat brochures on her website. There are also brochures at our drop off sites. If you are interested you can contact her by email Selma@bonedryridge.com or give her a call 360 273 1045 or just send in the order form. We know a handful of other folks who do an amazing job raising meat in a sustainable and conscientious manner. Go to our links page to check them out.

Recipe Idea:
I was at a neighbor’s for dinner the other night and one of the ladies brought a simple, but amazing salad that is endlessly variable in regard to what veggies you can add. Quinoa is the base and the dressing is a mix of lemon juice, olive oil, tamari, and garlic. This recipe makes a fantastic lunch for the next day. Heck, I would have had it for breakfast with an egg if there had been any leftovers.
1. Cook 1 cup quinoa.
2. Chop up veggies, about 3 cups total, into little cubes. She used carrots, cucumber, and sweet pepper.
I made it the other night and added zucchini. Broccoli, chard, pre-cooked golden beets, tiny cauliflower bites, or tomato, are some other potential additions.
3. Combine veggies and cooked quinoa in a large bowl.
4. In a lidded jar, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 TBSP olive oil, 2 TBSP tamari, and 2 crushed cloves garlic. Shake well. Pour over quinoa and veggies.  Mix thoroughly.
5. Toast 1/4 cup sunflower seeds in a dry skillet until they brown a bit. Add to the salad.

Additions: She added a bunch of minced parsley. I could see basil or cilantro working just as well. I made a no herb version and it was delicious.
Marinated tofu would also be a protein packed addition to the salad.

I gotta get back out to work. Enjoy these bonus days of sun and all the amazing food it provides!

Jen, Jim and the Rising River Farm Crew

 

CSA Newsletter – Week 13 – September 7, 2016

WHAT’S IN THE BOX:
carrots
beets or chard
cabbage or broccoli
potatoes
rutabaga
onions
garlic
Italian Eggplant
corn
an assortment of squash
basil or cilantro
sweet peppers
red tomatoes
cauliflower (most of you)

 

rutabaga

CROP DETAIL:
Rutabaga: It is a root crop in the broccoli family. It is similar to turnips, but not as spicy. Rather it has an earthiness to it like beets. The flavor is subtle, but nice. No matter how you cook it, you’ll want to peel it. The outer skin is a little tough. It cooks much like a potato. Cut into chunks and add to soup, or add it to a batch of mashed potatoes.
Potatoes: The variety is called Desiree. It has creamy yellow flesh and makes the perfect mashed potato.
Cauliflower: Most of you got some today so the rest of you should get it next week. We were surprised by the earliness and size of this cauliflower. It was intended for fall harvest. Oh well! Try the recipe for roasted sriracha cauliflower bites with peanut dipping sauce courtesy of Thug Kitchen. I retyped it in a family friendly version! Cauliflower potato soup is also a winner.
Tomatoes: The rainy weather has taken its toll on the tomatoes. We have a lot, they just aren’t very pretty.
Peppers: We only grow sweet peppers for the CSA, so no matter the color or size, they are all sweet. We are trialing about 6 varieties of tiny, colored peppers. It can be very challenging to get colored peppers around here, as usually our summers are cool and/or wet. So far they seem prolific and tasty, so hopefully we’ll grow more next year.

WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE FIELDS
I was all resigned to rain and clouds for the rest of the summer, but lo and behold the forecast calls for a string of 80 degree days next week. Hurray! We need to haul in the rest of the onions, harvest the dry beans, dig all the potatoes, plant the garlic, and start getting some cover crop down. That’s a lot to tackle in a short window of time, esp. when we have all of our regular duties to attend to. We did get over half the onions into the greenhouses already.

 

 

CSA Newsletter – Week 12 – August 31, 2016

I finally got a crew picture, though not a complete one. I have been trying for over a month to get a good picture of everyone, but it seems like each day someone is on vacation, at market, at an appointment, or we are too crazy-busy to stop and pose. As my mother likes to quip, “it’s like herding cats.” Anyway, with 3 of our crew leaving this week, we had to just do it, although we are missing a key person-Jim! He was back east for a week visiting friends and family that he hadn’t seen in years. (That is partly why there was no newsletter last week!) I was so grateful for our awesome crew for picking up the slack so I didn’t go completely insane. A special shout out to Alex for keeping the irrigation flowing and Trine for helping to manage and orchestrate the crew.

This is the time of year when the crew starts to shrink. Like autumn leaves falling from the trees, a lot of our crew will drift off to new adventures: school, travel, other seasonal work, hibernation…. Three people will leave us by week’s end and 2 more will go in mid September. We will try to bang out a bunch of big projects before they go.

We are feeling mixed about the rain. On the one hand the plants, both wild and cultivated need it badly. The air smells fresher, and everything looks a little more alive and perky. The crew is happy to not be roasting to death out in the field. On the other hand, the onions and dry beans were all perfectly dry and ready to be hauled in to the barns and greenhouses for final curing. Now they are all wet. We don’t want to store them that way, so now it is a waiting game until the next dry stretch. We’ll get another one, right? It was odd packing the boxes today. It was cool, rainy and feeling like deep fall, but all of the veggies were height of summer fare. Strange to eat a watermelon on a cold day. All I could think about was soup-broccoli cheddar to be precise.

WHAT’S IN THE BOX:
carrots
beets or chard
potatoes-Yukon nugget
green beans
yellow wax beans
broccoli or green cabbage
watermelon-yellow flesh
red tomatoes
corn
storage onions
pickling cukes or lemon cukes
an assortment of summer squash
green bell pepper

VEGGIE DETAILS:
Potatoes:Yukon nuggets are super versatile. Bake ’em, mash ’em, fry ’em, roast ’em. I made pan fried potatoes last night with tons of garlic. So good.
Yellow Beans: They taste and behave like green beans. Use them together or separate.
Storage onions: They may be small, but they are potent. These babies will make your eyes water when you cut them. They are more of a cooking onion, unless you are needing a lot of personal space, then by all means eat them raw.
Watermelon: This variety is called Yellow Doll and has sweet, yellow flesh. We love this time of year when we can gorge on watermelon daily. We will have more for sale at the Olympia and Proctor Farmers Market if you need another fix.
Broccoli and cabbage: You’ll get one this week, and the other next week.

That’s all for this week. Happy eating!
Jen, Jim, and the Rising River Farm Crew.

 

CSA Newsletter – Week 10 – August 17, 2016

Today’s box is brimming with summer goodness. I hope you are hungry. Luckily most of what we gave you can be enjoyed raw or lightly cooked. It is supposed to get even hotter over the next few days and it might be hard to get excited about hanging out over the stove for too long. At most of our dinners we put out a cutting board with chopped up carrots, cucumber, sweet pepper, and kohlrabi. It is nice to have a raw, refreshing item at the table to balance all the cooked stuff.

Speaking of heat, we have been trying to get caught up on a bunch of work before Thursday and Friday roll around. It is supposed to be in the mid to upper 90’s. Yikes! Our crew usually works from 6:00-2:30 or 3:00, so we are able to retire to the shade or the river or whatever cools us. We bandied about the idea of starting at 5:30 so we could end early, but it is pretty dusky and hard to see at that time. Oh well. Wish us luck out there!

Hopefully the increase in heat will ripen that corn. It is soooo close! The tomatoes and peppers sure are responding. You all got some form of pepper and tomato.

WHAT’S IN THE BOX:
carrots
beets or chard
potatoes-Red Thumb
yellow onion-kinda sweet, kinda pungent
pickling cukes
slicer cuke or amiga cuke
lemon cuke
sungolds or red slicing tomatoes
lettuce
basil, parsley, or rosemary
an assortment of summer squash
red cabbage
green bell or sweet orange pepper
Italian or Japanese eggplant

VEGGIE DETAILS:
Pickling cukes: They are super tasty in their natural state, no need to pickle ’em if you don’t want to. They are a little sweeter than standard slicers and have more flavor. Occasionally they can be bitter, so do a little taste test before you commit them to that potluck dish! There is no need to peel any of the cucumbers we hand out.
Onions: These are called Zoey. They are not as sweet and watery as a Walla Walla, but won’t make you cry like a storage onion. Enjoy raw or cooked.
Red Cabbage: It’ll make a nice addition to salads, coleslaw, taco toppings, pad thai, etc.
Peppers: We grow several types of sweet peppers. You either got a classic green bell or a tapered orange one. Eventually we will have red tapered peppers and red, yellow, and orange mini bells.
Eggplant: You either got an Italian or a long, thin Japanese type. Eggplant has a subtle flavor but is an excellent sponge for sauces and herbs. Use either type in a curry, stir fry, or shish kabobs on the grill. Try this recipe for eggplant, tomato, and mozzarella rounds. Super fast and easy.
Summer Squash: Remember squash is really good raw. Add to salads, especially ones with marinades.
Rosemary: Ironically now that the tomatoes are coming on we have a gap in the cilantro. Rosemary will take its place in the herb rotation. If you don’t want to use your rosemary right away, hang it up in your kitchen to dry and enjoy it later.

CANNING AND FREEZING: We are still taking orders for pickling cukes, green beans, basil, tomatoes, and kraut cabbage. We can put you on the list and let you know when it is available.

Stay cool and eat well!

Jen, Jim, and the Rising River Farm Crew

 

CSA Newsletter – Week 9 – August 10, 2016

WHAT’S IN THE BOX: Today’s box is brimming with summer goodness. It was challenging to close them!
carrots
beets or chard
red onions
garlic
an assortment of summer squash
lettuce
basil, cilantro, or parsley
potatoes-Cal white
green beans
kohlrabi
lemon cucumber
standard slicing or amiga cucumber
sungold cherry tomatoes or red slicing tomatoes

This season has been a funny one. I don’t recall ever vacillating between such extremes in weather. Usually we either get the cool, overcast, “non summer” or the insanely hot, no-rain-for-3-months kind of summer. This year we are all over the map. Most crops can roll with the changes pretty well, but some crops are not so resilient. The onions seem to be the worst affected. A disease called downy mildew has  become a problem in these parts. For the past few seasons we’ve had a touch of it near the end of the growing cycle. This year, thanks to week long stretches of warm but rainy weather, the downy mildew did a number on the onion crop. There is one variety that seems to be resistant, but all the others are looking a little rough. The mildew affects the greens, causing them to die back prematurely, thus hampering the bulb formation. Be prepared for a lot of smaller onions (like the ones you got in your box today.) Actually, small onions are kind of nice. I, for one, hate putting half an onion in the fridge to stink it up and make my half and half taste funny. Tomatoes are the other crop that is not enjoying the cooler temps. We planted the same amount as last year and are getting a fraction of the yield. There is a lot of fruit hanging there, it is just slow to ripen. Not all is doom and gloom, though. On my most recent perambulation around the field I saw that the corn is very very close and there is a veritable sea of broccoli that is almost ready. This is precisely why we are a diversified vegetable operation. Some things might not do well, but most will. We don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket. Jim and I were talking about how awful it would be if all we grew was onions!

HOW TO STORE YOUR EXCESS:
If veggies are piling up in your fridge, here are a few ideas on how to put them away for future use.
1. Summer Squash: grate and freeze in a freezer bag. That’s it. Easy-peasy. When you want to use it, just break off a chunk, thaw a little, crumble it up and add it to all sorts of savory dishes in the winter.
2. Potatoes: They will last a long time in your fridge in a plastic bag. Soon the potatoes we give out will have more durable skins, so you can put them in a paper bag in a cool place and they will keep for many, many weeks.
3. Green Beans: Blanch and freeze. Drop beans into boiling water and boil for 3 minutes. Imediately plunged beans into ice water until cool-about 5 minutes. Drain in a collendar, arrange a single layer on a cookie sheet with shallow sides and freeze for about an hour. Pour into freezer bags and freeze for later use in soups, curries, casseroles, etc.
4. Herbs: Dry in a low heat oven until crumbly.
5. Beets: Grate and freeze, as with squash.Or you can steam and puree and freeze into 1 cup units (muffin tins work well for this) for future chocolate beet cakes!
6. Make a soup, casserole, or quiche and freeze it. You’ll be so glad you did.

 

CSA Newsletter – Week 8 – August 3, 2016

WHAT’S IN THE BOX:
carrots
beets or chard
green beans
lemon cucumber
slicing cucumber (small shares)
Amiga cucumber (large shares)
lettuce
potatoes-Princess LaRatte
cilantro, basil, or parsley
green zucchini
Italian zucchini
patty pan or crookneck squash
sungold cherry tomatoes or red slicer tomatoes to the half of you who didn’t get them last week
sweet onion

There are a few new folks joining us this week for the Height of the Season share. Welcome! You may wish to read over previous newsletters for veggie identification and recipe suggestions.

The summer bounty is here. We have been trying out all sorts of green bean recipes over the past week. Jim found a real winner on the ol’ internet. It is a little spicy, but you can tone that down to taste. Sauteed Green Beans with Soy, Shallots, Ginger, Garlic and Chile

Further Box Elaboration:
Lemon Cucumbers: They are the yellow, round veg in your box. They taste like a standard cucumber with a hint of melon flavor. They are called “lemon” because of their round, yellow appearance. It is an old heirloom variety. No need to peel. Just slice and eat.
Princess LaRatte potato: Our potato seed order got all screwed up and we had to do a last minute order with someone else. Princess LaRatte replace our usual Russian Banana as a yellow fingerling. So far we are impressed with it. Apparently, it is the fancy of many chefs. So you can feel all high end and fancy yourself while preparing these lovelies. They are a good oven roasting potato.
Basil: We are finally able to add basil to the herb rotation. Try to use it up soon. Basil is very perishable.

My brain is a little addled this week. The pickling cucumber and green bean madness is on. Our first planting of pickling cukes (2400 linear feet) need to be picked, washed, sorted, and bagged every Mon, Wed, and Fri. It is quite a task; a true “all hands on deck” affair. I spend several hours a day orchestrating orders (on top of all my other farming duties) and today it is really catching up to me. My apologies for such a brief newsletter! We hope you enjoy your veggies!

Jen, Jim and the Rising River Farm Crew

 

CSA Newsletter – Week 7 – July 27, 2016

WHAT’S IN THE BOX:
carrots
potatoes
beets or chard
slicing cucumber-large shares
Amiga cucumber-small shares (kinda like an English cucumber)
green beans
snow peas-large shares only
lettuce
dill, cilantro, or parsley
garlic
green zucchini
Italian zucchini
patty pan or crookneck squash
sungold cherry tomatoes or slicing tomatoes for half of you (the rest of you will get some next week.)

Whew, it is hot out there! What a yo-yo kind of summer. With the sun comes crazy abundance as is evidenced with the beans and squash. We have 2 succession plantings of both on right now, so the harvest totals are impressive (and a little intimidating!) It is our hope that the tomatoes will be the next crop to take off. As it is, we had enough for half of you today. The rest of you will get some next week.

CANNING AND FREEZING: If you are inclined to can or freeze and produce for mid-winter enjoyment, visit our bulk crop page for pricing. I will let you know in the newsletters or in a separate email if/when we have extra of anything. Right now green beans and pickling cucumbers are the hot ticket. We can bring your order to your CSA pick up site or to any of the farmers market we sell to. If you are new to canning and freezing, cooperative extension has a lot of great resources and recipes.

 

CSA Newsletter – Week 6 – July 20, 2016

It looks as though the sun will be making a regular appearance for the next week or so, which is welcome news. I was not looking forward to one of our typical “non summers” especially since the spring was so hot and promising. Certain crops seem to be suspended in time in terms of ripening. We keep going out there only to find a handful of tomatoes. The pickling cucumbers are also just sitting there…. The plants are all looking lush and happy, but they just need a little more heat in order to ripen up.

The fields are buzzing with tons of bees and beneficial insects. Not only did we plant flowering buckwheat in all of our fallow and later planted ground, we also planted strips of leftover flower starts from our spring plant sales, throughout several of the fields. Sunflowers, zinnia, phacelia, cosmos, nigella, and marigolds provide beautiful and abundant habitat for all sorts of good bugs. It cheers us up too, to see such pretty flowers.

WHATS IN THE BOX:
carrots
beet or chard
fennel, kohlrabi, or shell peas
snow or snap peas
green beans
red potatoes
cabbage
summer squash
dill, cilantro, or parsley

RECIPE IDEAS:
CABBAGE: Use finely shredded cabbage as a topping for tacos/burritos instead of lettuce. Or try one of the recipes on our cabbage page.
GREEN BEANS: These beans are so sweet and tender. You should snack on some while you prepare dinner. Check out all the recipes on our bean page. I especially love the one with walnuts, balsamic, and honey.
RED POTATOES: reds make great fried potatoes or hash browns. They mash up well, too.

Here’s to lots of sun and heat and hopefully tomatoes soon!

Jen, Jim, and the Rising River Farm Crew

 

CSA Newsletter – Week 5 – July 13, 2016

WHAT’S IN THE BOX:
carrots
beets or chard
sweet onion
garlic
shell or snap pea
green zucchini
patty pan or yellow crookneck squash (large shares only)
lettuce
fennel or kohlrabi
potatoes-red thumb
dill, cilantro, or parsley

Weeding is the name of the game these days. The crew has been valiantly rescuing baby carrots from the carpet of unwanted vegetation that threatens to overtake them. The recent rains have allowed the weeds to sprout and thrive like nobody’s business. We were down several workers last week for various and sundry reasons, so we were treading water there for a bit. Now nearly all hands are back on deck and tomorrow promises to be another sunny day. I know what we’ll be doing….

You will notice a smaller amount of peas this week. Hopefully you are thinking “phew” instead of “awww”. The patch we were picking from is winding down and the new one is not quite ready. In my wanderings around the field I see that beans are almost ready. We hope to have enough for you all in a few weeks.

Everything in your box should be pretty familiar by now. The only thing to mention is the Red Thumb potatoes. I think you got them once already. They are a great roasting potato. A little olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary if you have it, perhaps some crushed garlic and you’ve got yourself a nice side dish (or main dish.) You can also use them for potato salad, shish-ka-bobs on the grill, or simply steamed.

As for fennel, hopefully your googling from a few weeks ago yielded a bunch of good ideas. One of our market customers said she loves to par boil the bulb, then braise it in the oven, smothered in olive oil, salt and pepper of course.

The lettuce is super lush and sweet this week. Be sure to whip up a nice salad with some of your fresh herbs.

Speaking of herbs, I found this awesome herb reference chart that offers suggestions of what veggies pair well with what herbs. Check it out.

I could go on and on about the weeds, but I’ll leave you to your dinner and me to mine.

Enjoy your veggies-
Jen, Jim and the Rising River Farm Crew

 

CSA Newsletter – Week 4 – July 6, 2016

WHAT’S IN THE BOX:
carrots
beets or chard
potatoes – “caribe”
snow peas
shell peas
snap peas-small shares only
zucchini
scallions
lettuce
dill, parsley, or cilantro

I have been popping in and out of town for the past two weeks due to family gatherings, dropping kids off at summer adventures, and visiting friends, so I don’t have a lot of “farmy” news for you this week. Instead I will point out a few zucchini recipes. We are approaching the time of year where zucchini and other summer squash are prolific. Good thing they are versatile! We grow 4 different types so you will see them all eventually. The following is a list of suggestions and recipes for this incredibly useful vegetable:
1. Eat it raw. Most zucchini/summer squash is very mild in flavor: slightly sweet and slightly nutty. Dice it up and add it as a taco or burrito topping. Sprinkle on veggie pizza. Add chopped or grated squash to salads.
2. Grate or chop and add to stir fries, casseroles, soups, omelets, quiche, or just about any other savory dish you make. The flavor is subtle enough that it won’t alter the flavor of your dish, but it will add some nice texture, color, and nutrition.
3. Click on the zucchini link to see a whole list of recipes.

Starting from the top: green zucchini, patty pan, crookneck, Italian zucchini

Enjoy your veggies!

Jen, Jim, & the Rising River Farm Crew

 

CSA Newsletter – Week 3 – June 29, 2016

Welcome to week 3! As you can see, the boxes get a little more interesting each week. Hopefully you are able to utilize everything in your box. Remember to eat up the leafy greens and fresh herbs sooner. Potatoes, carrots, beets, cabbage, etc hold for quite a long time. Soups, stir fries, casseroles, and quiche are all great ways to use up the last remnants of your share just before the next delivery.

MOST RECIPES ARE MERELY A GUIDE: Sometimes you will find a great recipe but don’t always have enough of something to make the full recipe. Sharpen those math skills and figure out how to make a smaller batch. Play around with substituting one ingredient for another. I rarely follow recipes to the letter (except for baking-there you are messing with chemistry and physics). I swap stuff out all the time. It usually works out. At least I haven’t had to compost anything!

WHAT’S IN THE BOX:
Carrots
Beets or fennel
Cabbage or kohlrabi
Chard or snap peas
Dill, cilantro, or parsley
Shell peas
Snow peas
Potatoes-Red Thumb
Scallions
Sweet onion
Garlic
Zucchini-half of you (the rest will get it next week)
Red leaf lettuce
Lovelock lettuce-large shares only

 

From left to right: snap, snow, shell

 

Swiss Chard

ELABORATION OF BOX CONTENT:
Peas: A lot of folks are confused about the difference between snap peas and shell peas. Snaps can be eaten pod and all, as the pod is sweet, juicy, and not at all fibrous. Shell peas must be “shelled” to reveal the sweet peas inside. The pods are quite tough. One bite of each and you will know who is who. Some people cook snap peas, but most prefer them raw in green salads and pasta salads. Shell peas can be eaten raw (my favorite way) or lightly steamed. New potatoes and shell peas are a classic spring combo. Drizzle a little butter over that and heave a sigh of contentment.
Chard:(see photo) Chard is a cousin to beets, one being bred for bulbous roots, and the other for lush foliage. You can eat the ribs as well, just cook them about 5 minutes longer than the leaves. The flavor is robust and earthy-not at all bitter or spicy. Try these Chard Recipes.
Zucchini:There is finally enough to pass out to half of you. The rest of you will get it next week. We are still seeing the effects of the hail 2 weeks ago. Please excuse the mild surface damage.
Red Thumb Potatoes: We couldn’t get our favorite French Fingerling seed potato and this was the next best thing. They are waxy and delicate and are perfect for oven roasting, steaming, or added to a pot roast. Or try this French Potato Salad with mustard vinaigrette.
Herbs: I made an amazing cilantro pesto the other night by blending almonds, garlic, cilantro, lemon juice, and salt. Parmesan would have made it even better. We used it with our stir fry and rice and then I put the rest on a sandwich the next day instead of mayo. I might have to always have some on hand. It was so good! Dill and parsley are both a perfect addition to steamed new potatoes. Sprinkle chopped, uncooked herbs over the cooked potatoes.

TODAY’S RANDOM FARM FACT: Today the crew finished weeding the onions-all 22 beds (each bed is 300 feet long). If we had planted all the onions in a single line, it would stretch nearly 4 miles. That’s a lot of onions!

Enjoy your veggies!

Jen, Jim, and the Rising River Farm Crew

 

CSA Newsletter – Week 2 – June 22, 2016

What a difference one week can make! It feels like summer again. More crops are ripening and we now have potatoes, carrots, cabbage, kohlrabi, and fennel! Shell peas are still in a torturous holding pattern, but should be ready soon. Next week we can hopefully start rotating snap peas around.

THE FIELD REPORT: Most of the farm is planted now, save for weekly or bi weekly succession plantings of carrots, beets, lettuce, herbs, broccoli, cabbage, beans, and a few others. We are at an ever so fleeting balance point weeding and harvesting. Pretty soon the scales will tip toward harvest, though the weeding is never really done. At some point it just becomes a matter of priority! So far we seem to be keeping up pretty well. Just when it seems to be bordering on out of control, Isaac will sweep through the fields on the cultivating tractor and the rest of the crew will follow behind to get the weeds within the row.

HAIL DAMAGE: We had a sudden, brief, and slightly damaging bout of hail last Tuesday. You will see some evidence of this on the peas and possibly the lettuce. It is amazing what 3 minutes of torrential pelting ice will do. We do not like to give out unsightly produce, but sometime it cannot be helped. Many plants look a little bedraggled, but since it is not the foliage you will be eating, it doesn’t really matter. I am glad to not live in a place where hail is a frequent visitor.

THE CREW: We are fortunate to have the bulk of our crew return from last year. Everyone knows what to do and what to expect. The more senior workers help guide the newer ones so the day flows pretty nicely. Some have been with us for over 15 years, and many others have been here upwards of four years. It is so helpful to Jim and I to have other capable folks to take on the more nuanced aspects of the farm. Tractor work, fertilizing, organizing and orchestrating the CSA and orders, keeping up with irrigation, all take time to learn and a certain personality to do them well.

Besides Jim and I, we have 12 full-ish time workers, with 2 more slated to start next week. We find it is better to hire a lot of folks and keep sane hours, than try to eek by with a smaller crew. We start at 6:00 and try to be done by 3:00 so that no one is out cooking in the heat too long.  I will get a crew picture soon to include in a newsletter so you can “meet” all of us.

WHAT’S IN THE BOX:

Red leaf or green leaf lettuce
Romaine heart
French crisp lettuce- large shares only
California White new potatoes
Carrots
Snow peas
Cilantro or Italian parsley
Cabbage or kohlrabi
Beets or fennel
Garlic
Scallions
Sweet onion

A WORD ON ROTATION:
Not everyone gets everything mentioned in the newsletter every week, but on balance, all the box values are the same. Very often we will give half of you one thing and half the other. Then next week it’ll switch. We also rotate items around the sites when there is not enough for all. Eventually you will all receive roughly the same things with the same value. We keep careful track of who gets what when. It all evens out in the wash.

purple kohlrabi

 fennel

BOX CONTENT ELABORATION:

POTATOES: These are tender new potatoes. We elected not to wash them as the skins are very fragile. Store them dirty in your fridge until you are ready to use them. The variety is called “California White.” They have white flesh, and are on the medium to moist side of the scale. They can be roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper & baked at 400 or 425 for 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally. Or steam until tender and drizzle with melted garlic butter. Sprinkle minced parsley or last week’s dill on top. They also make great home fries.

KOHLRABI: (see photo) It is the round green or purple orb with kale-like leaves attached to it. It is in the broccoli/cabbage family and has a sweet, subtle broccoli flavor. I prefer it raw, but you can also cook it in a stir-fry or some such. To prepare, cut off leaves, cut bulb into ¼ inch rounds, then peel with a paring knife. We grow both purple and green ones. I find the purple ones to be crunchier and the green ones more delicate. Kids really like this veg. Well…some kids.

FENNEL: (see photo) Fennel is the bulb with the long ferny fronds at the top. The bulb and leaves tastes like licorice. It is used a lot in Italian dishes. The fronds can be added to salads. I wish I had more fennel recipes to share. Sorry, you’re gonna have to Google this one.

ITALIAN PARSLEY: As mentioned last week, try sprinkling fresh chopped herbs on your meals upon serving. Parsley is great in salads, pasta dishes, soups, and on potatoes. It is a great breath freshener and digestive aid as well. Put a few sprigs on everyone’s plate to chew on after the meal.

BEETS: Give beets a chance! I know there are some supposed beet haters out there. Read my picky eater spiel below and try them again. Our website has some great beet recipes, including a chocolate cake!

PICKY EATER SPIEL:
I say it every year, but for the benefit of the new members I will say it again. Please try everything you receive in your box at least twice before you decide you are not a fan. Fresh from the field veggies are nothing like what you buy in a store and are most certainly leagues better than canned or frozen versions. I am a bona-fide picky eater since childhood. I hated nearly every vegetable except iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, and russet potatoes. I would choke down the occasional canned green beans, but nearly any other veggie I was served would cause me to recoil and protest mightily. However once I grew my own, tried them raw or lightly cooked, I was converted. I am still learning to like new things and am all the better for it. I also have two kids, 18 and 14, and have weathered many phases of kids loving then hating then loving any given vegetable.

Here are a few tips for converting veggie haters into veggie lovers (or at least tolerators):

  1. Try things raw. They tend to be sweeter, obviously crunchier, and lack the mushy texture that just freaks some people out.

  2. If you are going to cook things, aim for ”al dente”. Most of the time crunchy or firm is more appealing than mush.

  3. Try meals that are deconstructed. For example, a build your own burrito where each person can add as much or as little as they want. Making a casserole? Try serving the contents of said casserole separated out. Some kids (and yes, some adults) cannot deal with a whole bunch of unidentifiable ingredients all mixed together. I clearly remember mining out every onion and mushroom fleck in my mother’s meatloaf. I am not necessarily a proponent of catering to and preparing separate meals for whiny, picky kids, but if you can serve them what you are already making but in a different form, then it doesn’t seem as bad. Remember, the goal is to get them to love veggies! I just remember texture and mystery in regards to food being huge obstacles for me as a kid. (I still feel the need to apologize for the hell I probably put my mom through at dinner time.)

  4. Have your family/household members help unpack your weekly share, sample veggies, and brainstorm menu ideas. Most veggies can be eaten raw so sampling should be encouraged.

  5. Have your picky eaters help cook, or at least play sous chef. They will be way more likely to eat it if they know what is in it.

  6. Explore our website for recipes. Most of what is posted is easy to prepare. Rarely will you need some exotic vinegar, spice, or pantry item that you use maybe once a year.

SOCIAL MEDIA: We have a facebook and Instagram account. I try to post a lot of pictures of the farm and crew, as well as recipe ideas. Check us out!

Call the farm for general, non-pressing questions 360.273.5368
Call Jen’s cell for urgent issues. 360.584.6720

Please note that I (Jen) will be out of town through Sunday, so the farm number is the one to call.

Happy Eating from Jen and the Rising River Farm Crew

 

CSA Newsletter – Week 1 – June 15 2016

Welcome to Rising River Farm CSA

Thank you for joining us for a summer of delicious vegetables. Our own menus are getting more and more exciting as the weeks pass and we excited to share the bounty.

I hope you found your box without incident. Alex and I got all the boxes delivered just under the wire. We were wrapping up the last site right around 3:00.  It is our aim to get all the boxes delivered by 3:00, but occasionally there are hold-ups, like today when the DNR service elevator was broken and we had to follow the most circuitous route imaginable to get the boxes where they needed to go. There are a few new pick up sites this year, so please be patient with us as we refine the route.

THE FIELD REPORT: I think spring and summer traded places. These past few days of sun one minute and pouring rain the next, feels more like April than mid-June. In some ways this role reversal has been good on the farm. It has allowed us to plant evenly spaced successions of crops. The soil has been a delight to work with, as we have had plenty of sunny days to dry the fields to a perfect consistency for tilling and planting. In past years, when the breaks in rain aren’t quite long enough we end up working the ground too soon, and pay for our haste with chunks and clods all season long. The final bonus is no irrigation necessary! Woo hoo! The down side is the hit on our morale. It is hard to go back to slogging in the mud, layered in fleece and wool when it was in the 80’s only 2 weeks ago. Oh well, what can you do?

WHAT’S IN THE BOX:
Red leaf lettuce
French crisp lettuce
Green leaf lettuce-large shares only
Green onions
Walla walla onion
Garlic
Garlic scapes (See below)
Fresh dill
Snow peas
Dry beans-pinto for small shares, and calypso for large shares
 

Returning members already know that the first boxes tend to be on the slim side. Many of the veggies you are eager to eat take a little longer to grow. As the weeks wear on, the boxes will get more abundant and diverse then will slowly decrease in variety as the season winds to an end. Potatoes and carrots are just on the horizon. We keep going out and digging around and they are ever so close. Shell and snap peas are also nearly ready. It only gets better from here!

VEGGIE ID:
Garlic Scapes:
They are the bunch of curly-Q’s in your box. They are the seed stalk of the garlic plant. The texture is similar to green beans or asparagus when cooked and the flavor is garlicky, but milder than cloves of garlic. Cut it up into bite sized pieces and toss into a stir fry, casserole, soup, frittata, etc. You can sauté them whole in butter or olive oil. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and either grill on the b-b-q or bake in oven at 400 for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until done to your liking.
Green Onions: You know what they are, but let me encourage you to use them as more than a garnish or addition to potato salad. It is rare for us to have onions this time of year, so I have grown accustomed to using them in place of onion in just about any recipe that calls for onion.
Fresh Dill: Many people aren’t used to using fresh herbs. Dill is a fabulous and versatile one. Try this recipe for dill, balsamic, maple vinaigrette for the massive salad you will most likely make for dinner tonight. Chop it up and sprinkle on potatoes, either before or after cooking them (or both). Lay it over fish while cooking. Chop it fresh over rice and stir-fried veggies. Just make whatever you like to make for dinner and try sprinkling dill on it. Fresh herbs are amazing.
Snow Peas: These lovelies are sweet, crisp, a fun to munch on. I got to witness the joy and surprise on some kid’s face at market Saturday when he, reluctantly, tried the snow pea I proffered. His face went from dubious and untrusting to surprise to totally won over. His mom bought some. You can enjoy these in that salad you are going to make, include them in a stir fry of some sort, or just snack on the them while you read this newsletter.
Dry Beans: The brown speckled ones are pintos and are the classic refried bean variety. They can be used for any bean dish, really. They cook pretty quick though, so if you want a whole firm bean, keep an eye on ‘em. About 20-30 minutes should do it. The black and white ones are called Calypso and make an excellent soup beans. Again you can do whatever you want with these. They are versatile and forgiving. With both varieties, your tummy will thank you if you soak them for around 8 hours before cooking. Don’t cook them in the water you soaked them in.

HOUSEKEEPING:
-
Please remember to return your box each week. Consider bringing a bag to transfer your veggies into so you won’t have to remember to bring it back.
-Keep the pickup site neat and tidy.
-Observe the pickup site hours out of respect for your hosts, especially at someone’s home. Call them directly if you will be late or forget your box. You can make alternate arrangements with them.

I think that about sums things up for this week. Remember to search through our recipe database on our website. Click on the veggie you want featured and a bunch will pop up. Have a recipe to share? Send it to me and I’ll add it to the site. I am always looking for more ideas. 

Thanks again for signing up!

 Until next week…Jen