tatsoi

2011 CSA, beet greens, bok choy, cilantro, dill, lettuce, newsletter, recipes, scallions, spinach, strawberries, tatsoi

Week 2, May 2-8 Share Contents


8 Comments

Hi folks! I have pictures of the share contents for Week 2. To avoid forgetting to take the pictures, I photographed the produce pre-wash, so you’ll notice soil on the veggies. They’ll be nice and clean when you pick them up, of course. But it’s always good to give them another cleaning before you use them. The only thing we don’t wash at the farm are the strawberries, as they should only be washed right before eating them (to maintain their “shelf” life).

I also just printed out this week’s newsletter. You can expect more in this newsletter compared with last week. This week we’ve included Michele McKinley’s description of Farm It Forward, an idea Ben and I approached AHA (Advocates for Health in Action) in February. We’re having our first fundraiser this Sunday at Market Restaurant. For more info on that, please see the preceding post. We’ve also include some basic information (storage and cooking instructions) to help members make good use of your weekly shares. We’ve highlighted bok choy, rainbow chard, lettuce and dill. And finally, Ben wrote a little segment we’re calling “Farmer Musings” to let members know what’s going on here on the farm. We hope you find the newsletters helpful.

Okay, now, for the pictures!

Here’s a regular/small sized share. Everything is pictured here but the chard and the herbs.
Items in this weeks share include: strawberries, bok choy, tatsoi, beets, dill and cilantro, lettuce, spinach and scallions.

This is a green bib, called Nancy.

This is a red romaine, called Marvel the Four Seasons.
A recipe for tofu stuffed lettuce rolls is in the newsletter.

Tatsoi

Bok Choy. The newsletter includes a recipe for Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Cashew Sauce.

Spinach. We like to steam it all and eat it with eggs for breakfast.

These are scallions. The difference between scallions and green onions, is that green onions are basically baby (bulbing) onions, while scallions will not bulb.
Detroit Red Beets (for full shares only – but many more are on the way for all share sizes)

You can steam or saute the beet greens too!

Cilantro and Dill (a recipe for dill and horseradish biscuits is included in the newsletter)

Yummy, yummy strawberries! This variety is called Chandler. 

Here’s Ben about to wash all of the produce. This week I completely forgot to get a picture of the Rainbow Chard, but I think y’all know what it looks like. And if you forgot, you can always check the Week 1 CSA Share post. We included a recipe for Swiss Chard Gratin in the newsletter.

Washing the spinach.

Well, I suppose that’s it for now! If you have any questions or suggestions for how we can make your membership experience better, please feel free to send us email or give us a call.

Also, we would really love it if members would contribute some recipes of your own so we can share them with everyone.

Thanks for stopping by! Ben will see you at the pick ups and at market. I’m MIA for the time being, working on my doctoral exam (prelim) for global sociology. I take the exam Monday, May 16th. After that, you’ll be seeing my face around a whole lot more! Ben told me a lot of folks from market wished me luck – thank you! I can certainly use it!

P.S. If you know folks that are interested in joining a CSA and you are happy with us, please let them know we are still accepting CSA members. We will prorate new members to account for missed pick ups.

cabbage, carrots, hope, musing, planning, tatsoi, turnips

Middle Winter Farmer Musings…


3 Comments

It has been a dogs age since I (Ben) have posted and it is about time! I made a resolution to post on a regular basis, which will be a challenge along with all the other tasks I attend to. But if Patricia can do it, so can I! I have a tendency to write and re-write and make multiple drafts before I post. It’s my old academic process showing itself, evidence I am not much an off the cuff writer. It takes a few rounds of writing for me to develop and clarify what it is I want to communicate, which naturally takes a bit of time. Time is of the essence in farming and budgeting it is very important. So off come the proverbial gloves! I’m getting down and dirty!

I have been busy planning this years crops over the past few weeks and I am already behind schedule! I should have started back in December but didn’t get started until January because I wanted to wait for a book in the mail, Crop Planning for Organic Vegetable Growers by Frederic Theriault and Daniel Brisebois. It is published by the Canadian Organic Growers Association and is a wonderful book. Come to find out, I have been re-inventing the wheel! I have gone about the process of planning for the year in a slightly different way  but arrive at essentially the same place! I also learned I still have a few things to learn! Imagine that! Anyhow, I am finally catching up and creating schedules for all the major tasks to be done this year with the hope it will help us stay on schedule. Last year, one of our major challenges was getting veggies planted in the proper time frame and our poor planning created gaps in our vegetable availability, such as an inconsistent tomato supply and no winter squash.

I must admit, fleshing out our 2011 crop plan has got me worried. I am apprehensive that we will be behind schedule because we have not ordered seeds yet. The seed order I put together is over $1800! That is just for the spring and summer, not including fall and winter! Nor does it include the $500 we spent on seed potatoes! This year we will be growing over 40 crops and 100 different varieties of veggies, some for fun and experimentation but most for a very diverse and strong selection. Most of the seeds are needed soon for late February  to mid-March planting and it is mid-February already! I have faith that everything will come together as the universe intends and I try to be patient and hopeful. If there is any virtue that farming teaches, it is patience! You can’t make the weather change nor make plants grow faster! I am also comforted by the fact that this is our second year and it will be better than last year. We will take the lessons of last year and make this year better. This thought gives me hope and comfort that this year will be okay, possibly the best yet!

I seeded spring lettuce and scallions into seedling trays last week and brought those down to Sharon Funderburks’ greenhouse in Meadow for growing on. She has been very generous in her assistance to us! Show her some love if you come out to market. I also direct seeded snow peas, radishes, spinach, mesclun and various salad greens into our low tunnels. I also direct seeded 3 beds of carrots and 2 beds of beets and put them under row cover. Here are some pics for you…

This is my desk in the office, planning for the year. As you can see, I like to use some paper and pencil. Call me old fashioned, it works better for me than spreadsheets only. I like to use a combination of the two.

 This is the Planet Jr. seeder I borrow from Tom at Double-T Farm. It is 100 year old technology but works like a charm every time! Originally from NC!

 These are the 5 beds I had just prepped for planting carrots & beets. You can see the low tunnels on the right and how I have ventilated it with a forked stick.

 This is stir-fry I made last night with tatsoi, carrots, turnips and purple cabbage. Yummy!

 Okay, got to get back to work. Check you later! Farmer Ben

bok choy, collards, greens, kale, recipe ideas, recipes, tatsoi, turnips

Glorious Greens! – They sure are pretty, but what do I do with them?


1 Comment

So, the fall and winter seasons bring us lots of greens and lots of root vegetables. If you don’t know what to do with them – and they’re really quite versatile and easy to put in just about everything – they can pile up on you and make you feel like your bounty is a chore. This is the last thing we want folks to feel about their weekly produce shares, so I’m getting on the ball and getting to some of the recipes I find useful and inspirational. But I do need to let you know, that once you begin on the greens journey, you’ll realize how extremely easy cooking and eating greens can be – and it’s tasty and nutritious too!

Ben told me that a number of folks were asking about tatsoi and what to do with it, so I’ll begin with it. Those green beauties to the left are tatsoi. Mark Bittman, author of Leafy Greens: An A-to-Z Guide of 30 Types of Greens Plus More Than 120 Delicious Recipes, breaks down the Asian greens (he refers to them as “Chinese cabbages”) (21-22):

Nutritional information: High in beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, some B vitamins, and fiber.  To cook: Heading cabbages can be treated much like green or red cabbage; bok choi can be used like chard. All Chinese cabbages are good in stir-fries and soups; braised, with or without meat; pickled (as in kimchee). Young Chinese cabbages, or the tatsoi variety, are excellent in salads. Substitutes: For bok choi, chard, which is close enough for most purposes; for the heading cabbages, common head cabbage; for tatsoi, young mustard, arugula, or cress.

Now, let me just tell you that you will figure out that you can substiute tatsoi for a lot of other things than Mark suggests above. I think it’s a great substitute for spinach as well. I think the best way to figure out what you’d like to do with your greens is to try them raw and to try them braised with a little salt and pepper. Once you taste them in these two purist forms, you can decide on what types of flavors your palate is comfortable combining them with. Just to give you an idea of how easy it is to eat greens, I’ll tell you what I did for breakfast this morning. First, I chopped up the turnip roots into diced pieces (two bunches worth). I let them simmer on low in a dollop of butter and a sprinkle of salt. As those simmered, I chopped the turnip greens and then added them to the pan. Then I placed a lid over the pan so the veggie juices would help cook the turnip roots and the greens (and it’s always good to salt your greens as you place them in the pan – it helps wilt them and it disperses the salt more evenly when they’re uncooked vs. cooked and bunched). In the meantime, I then chopped up one head of tatsoi and added it to the pan. Like spinach, it takes up a lot of pan space at first but then it wilts down quite a bit. I then put the lid back on the pan (this is a medium-sized typical frying pan – all metal). I then chopped up one head of bok choi. Okay – hold on. So, what’s the count so far? Right now, we have two bunches of turnips, one head of tatsoi, one head of bok choi and a small dollop of butter. That sounds like A LOT of greens, and I suppose it is, but it really all does wilt down to a manageable bunch of greens. Okay, so back to the pan. Basically, I added all of the chopped greens in increments, so they all had time to wilt. Once all the greens were sufficiently wilted, I added 4 whisked eggs into the pan. I then let those eggs cook for about 4 minutes on low. In the meantime, I got out the block of sharp, white cheddar cheese and grated it over the top of the eggs. Finally, I turned the oven on to 350 degrees and placed the entire pan in the oven. I am a terrible omelet maker, so I do my egg omelets, fritata style (it sounds fancy, but it’s really just a lazy person’s omelet as far as I’m concerned). To be honest, I’m not sure how long those eggs were in the oven – somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes. The goal, of course, is to make sure you cooked it long enough to cook the eggs through (unless you like your eggs a bit wet, in which case, I suppose that’s not your goal…). Anyway, you should be able to see whether the eggs are cooked to your liking. If the visuals are uncertain, you can always just poke at them to feel their texture – but don’t burn yourself! Once the dish is cooked to your satisfaction, take it out of the oven and scoop some out, add a little salt and pepper (or any condiments you usually eat with your eggs – I’m a fan of hot sauce, but I know some folks really like ketchup on their eggs) and enjoy! 🙂 Whew! That sure does sounds like a lot of work (and food – but there are not usually any left overs in our house, but when there are we just reheat them for lunch or the following morning’s breakfast) when I look at what I typed, but the whole process takes me less than 20 minutes and I listen to the news on NPR and drink my morning coffee as I cook. I also make the chickens’ breakfasts as I prep our food. They like pretty much every vegetable we chop up and give them (all but eggplant, peppers, and onions), so it’s nice to feed them the things I would normally toss in the compost bin.

Okay, so that’s one idea :). I’ll leave you with some other recipes, written by the experts who aren’t nearly as long winded as myself. These recipes call for particular greens, but you can substitute them for others. I use tatsoi and spinach interchangeably. I even cooked chopped turnips and greens and bok choi and put them in a white sauce lasagna for our CSA potluck/Oktoberfeast. It was a hit and I don’t think anyone realized they were eating something so “exotic” as Asian greens in their lasagna :).

Spinach and Egg Soup (Bittman 1995: 67)
1 pound spinach (I would also use kale, tat soi, beet greens or turnip greens for this recipe – or even a combination of greens)
2 tablespoons butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
dash of freshly grated nutmeg
5 to 6 cups of good chicken stock (my note: you can certainly substitute vegetable stock)
2 eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1. Steam or parboil the spinach until it wilts. Cool it under cold water, squeeze it dry, and chop.
2. Melt the butter in a 4- to 6-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the spinach, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the stock and bring it to a gentle simmer. Beat the eggs with half the Parmesan and add them to the soup. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggs are cooked and soup is thick. Serve with break, passing the remaining Parmesan at the table.

Turnip Greens with Potatoes (Bittman 1995: 110)

2 tablespons peanut or vegetable oil (I use sesame oil)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 pound turnip greens
2 small red potatoes, about 1/2 pound, washed well and peeled if desired, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock or water
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teasppon rise or wine vinegar

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it begins to color; add the remaining spice and cook, stirring, until the mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the turnip greens, the potatoes, and the stock or water, stir, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, checking and stirring every 3 or 4 minutes, until the potato is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Raise the heat to high and boil off excess liquid, if any. Season to taste, drizzle with vinegar, and serve immediately.

You can also use collards, cress, dandelions, kale, mizuna, mustard, tatsoi or bok choi. I usually decide on what to use depending on, first, what we have and need to use and second, depending on what I flavors I want in my meal. A lot of times, I just throw all the greens together, since we almost always wind up taking at least a few greens back home from the CSA drop or from market  – even after donating to the Interfaith Food Shuttle.

Well, hopefully I’ve given y’all some ideas for how to start using your greens. If you have favorite things to do with your greens, please feel free to post your recipes or send them my way via e-mail at parker.patricia@gmail.com.

Also, please do check out the links at the right side of the page under the heading “labels”. There are a number of recipes and I tried to always label what was used in those recipes, so they’d be easy to search.

bok choy, cabbage, green onions, recipe ideas, tatsoi

tat soi and kale and spinach oh my!


No Comments

This is tat soi

It’s a lot like bok choy – it’s an Asian green and you can treat it as you would bok choy.

Here are a few recipes you can use for both (from Farm Fresh Recipes):

Bok Choy (or Tat Soi) Stir Fry

(Makes 4 servings)

2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp water
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 bunch bok choi or tat soi
4 green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped peanutes
Rice (amount and type are up to you)

1. In a small bowl, miz soy sauce, water and sugar; set aside. 
2. Cut bok choy ribs and leaves crosswise into 2-inch pieces. 
3. In a wok or large, deep skillet, heat canola and sesame oils over medium-high heat. Add bok choy (or tat soi), green onions, garlic, soy sauce mixture and pepper flakes to taste. Stir-fry just until bok choy (or tat soi) is wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in peanuts and serve immediately over steamed rice.  

Bok Choy (or Tat Soi) Salad

(makes 8 servings)

1/2 c red wine vinegar
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 c margarine
1/4 c slivered almonds
1/4 c sesame seeds
2 (3 ounce) packages ramen noodles
1 medium head bok choy (or tat soi)
3 green onions

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, sugar and soy sauce until sugar dissolves. Set aside. 
2. Melt margarine in small skillet. Crush the ramen noodles while still in their packaging. Discard seasoning packet (or reuse later for broth) and add noodles to the margarine along with almonds and sesame seeds. Saute until golden brown. Remove from heat and drain on paper towel. 
3. Chop the bok choy (or tat soi) and green onions. Place in large bowl. Add noodle mixture and dressing; toss and serve at once. 


We also offered kale this week (Red Russian kale, to be exact). This is what it looks like: 



I also have a few more kale recipes to share (but you can find others in the blog as well by clicking on “recipe ideas” to the right of the screen). 


Spring Greens Risotto

(Makes 6 servings)

3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 c chopped green onions
1 1/2 c Arborio rice
1/2 tsp salt
4 c hot vegetable or chicken broth, divided
4 c coarsely chopped spring greens (spinach, chard, sorrel, kale, bok choi, tat soi, etc. – any combo will do – use what you have or what you like)
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg (optional)
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oil in heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onions; cook 3 minutes. Add rice and salt. Cook and stir until rice begins to color. 
2. Add 1/2 c broth; cook and stir until most of the broth is absorbed. Add 1 1/2 c broth; simmer, stirring occasionally, until mostly absorbed, about 10 minutes. Add remaining broth. Simmer 20 minutes. Stirring occasionally. 
3. Place greens on top of rice. Cover and simmer 3 minutes. Stir in greens. Simmer and stir a few minutes more until broth is absorbed and rice is tender but moist. 
4. Remove from heat. Stir in Parmesan and serve. 

Portuguese Kale Stew

(Makes 6 servings)

1/2 lb chorizo sausage, thinly sliced
2 (16 oz) cans great northern beans
1 medium head cabbage (or you can substitute tat soi), chopped
2 bunches kale, stemmed and chopped
5 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 qt water, approximately
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large pot, lightly brown sausage. 
2. Add beans, cabbage (or tat soi), kale, potatoes and enough water to cover.    
3. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  

Okay folks – that’s it for now. We hope you enjoy your yummy produce and thank y’all for stopping by! 

Patricia & Ben  

arugula, blue skies, mizuna, radishes, Spring, tatsoi

Blue Skies


No Comments

Spring is surely here and ol’ man winter has gone away! Sure, we may get a few more frosty nights but spring is here. Daffodils and flowering trees are blooming, the cover crops are shooting up and the earth is coming to life! Spiders and bees are out too…as are the weeds.Our first crops in the greenhouse are ready to harvest. We have new arugula, tatsoi, mizuna, lettuce and radishes. Look for them on our store. Coming soon are broccoli rabe and turnips.

Sign up for our CSA if you haven’t yet…thank you if you have! See our CSA through our links on the right and down some.

Patricia and I spent the afternoon working. We went to the greenhouse to check on our plants and bring seedlings to the farm. Here’s some of our afternoon…

Us…

me and our first spring radish…

chard, lettuce and broccoli seedlings in soil blocks…

the house…

Patricia peeking through rosemary…

strawberry flowers growing into strawberries…

Seen here, common vetch (the plant) and mycorrhiza (white nodes on the tiny roots), symbiotically related. Vetch supplies nutrients to the mycorrhizae which fixes nitrogen from atmospheric nitrogen which in turn is released into the soil when the plant dies and decomposes. A positive feedback cycle…

Lettuce mesclun growing in the greenhouse…

Scallion seedlings crowned with their dyed seed hulls…

preparing a bed for radishes, turnips and flowers…

Blue skies…

Winter harvest is nearly done and the spring harvest is starting to roll in…We’ll have carrots for another week or two and that will be it until May. No more Chinese cabbage, vitamin green, collards and brussels sprouts. See our store for availability.

This coming Tuesday, March 16th, we plan to have produce pickup at our house, 604 Sasser St., between 4:00 to 7:30 pm. No NCSU delivery this week, spring break. Remember to have your orders placed by Monday evening.

A few of you occasionally may have trouble placing orders. Please make sure you receive an automated confirmation email a few minutes after you place your order. If you do not receive this email your order was not placed and we will not receive it. Please try again or email us your order to shields.ben@gmail.com or call Ben @ 919-800-8898. Also, we do not accept online payments, e.g. PayPal. We only accept payment of cash or checks at pickup.

Purchase of vegetables is made through our online store-
http://www.vendio.com/stores/bensproduce.

Newly available vegetables:
Easter Egg Radish
Tatsoi
Arugula
Mizuna
Lettuce Mesclun
Mixed Mesclun (all the above except radish)

Current vegetable availability includes:
baby beets
brussels sprouts
carrots
collards
scallions
lettuce
spinach
sweet potatoes

Late winter /early spring vegetables will include:
broccoli raab
lettuce
swiss chard
turnips


Be good and eat well,
Ben & Patricia


bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, chinese cabbage, collards, CSA, green onions, greens, kale, lettuce, mustard, radishes, recipe ideas, spinach, sweet potatoes, swiss chard, tatsoi, turnips

Holidays! Holidays! Holidays!


No Comments

Hello and Welcome!

A big thanks to our new customers from the neighborhood who stopped by Tuesday night to pick up some produce! The holidays are upon us! We’re headed to Tennessee to see Patricia’s family and some friends there. It will be a needed break for us, though I will be working some. I’ll be fine-tuning our farm and CSA plan for the coming year. It’s very exciting, thought provoking and a lot of work! Anyhow, we’ll be announcing the CSA soon!

During these cold winter months, please be aware the weather may postpone our harvest of your produce. In response to this, we may postpone pickups by a day or two. We will provide primary notice of pickup changes via email (especially for those of you who place orders) as well as via blog and online store. Thank you for being flexible with us!

Next Tuesday, December 22nd, we will have produce pickup at our house, 604 Sasser St., between 4pm to 7:30pm. We will not have produce pickup Tuesday, December 29th. We will return with pickup Tuesday, January 5th.

Purchase of vegetables is made through our online store www.vendio.com/stores/bensproduce.

Community Supported Agriculture:
Information coming soon!

Current vegetable availability includes:
bok choy
cabbage
carrots
chinese cabbage
collards
green onions
kale
lettuce
mustard greens
radishes
spinach
sweet potatoes
swiss chard
tatsoi
turnips

No longer offered:
broccoli
mixed greens

Future winter vegetables will also include:
arugula
baby beets
broccoli raab
brussels sprout
mixed baby lettuce & greens

Recipes:

Quick White Bean Stew with Swiss Chard and Tomatoes

– serves 2 to 3 –

Ingredients

2 pounds Swiss chard, larger stems removed, and leaves chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup canned tomatoes, chopped
1 16-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan

Procedure

1. Fill a large pot halfway up with water. Bring to a boil and then toss in the swiss chard leaves. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes. Drain the chard in a colander.

2. Wipe out any excess water in the pot. Then pour in the olive oil and turn the heat to medium. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for 1 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the tomatoes, turn the heat to medium-high, and when the mixture comes to a boil add the beans. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.

4. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the chard. Cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add some grated Parmesan to finish. Enjoy!

Golumpki’s or Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

We made these the other day with our cabbage, carrots and turnips and they turned out phenomenal! Give these a whirl, you might like them.

– serves 4 –

Ingredients

1Tbsp Olive oil
1 leek or onion
2 med. turnip, cubed small
2 med. carrots, cubed small
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 cup cooked rice
16 oz cooked ground meat
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp lemon juice
pinch ground coriander
salt & pepper
1 cabbage head

Sauce:
1 onion finely chopped
1 cup broth or stock
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups crushed tomatoes

1. Brown ground meat.

2. To make the filling, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium low heat. Add leek or onion, turnip, carrots and celery and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until softened.

3. Remove from heat and stir in meat, rice, bread crumbs, egg, parsley, lemon juice and ground coriander. Season with salt & pepper.

4. Preheat oven to 325 F. Oil a 9×13 baking dish. Cook the whole cabbage in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, until pliable. Drain and rinse under cold water. Peel off whole leaves to stuff. Pat dry.

5. Lay leaves flat and make a pile in the middle of each, about 1/3 to 2/3 cup depending on the size of the leaf. Roll up each leaf, folding the sides to enclose the filling in a neat parcel. Place the rolls, seam side down, in the baking dish. Pour in stock. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, heat the oil for the sauce in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Stir in the crushed tomatoes. Reduce the heat to med-low and simmer about 10 minutes, until slightly thickened.

7. Using slotted spoon, serve stuffed cabbage rolls topped with the tomato sauce. Enjoy!

Happy holidays and many thanks!

Ben & Patricia