Summer Solstice Celebration!
Spring is almost behind us, and to honor the arrival of summer I want to invite
everyone to join us here on the farm to celebrate the change in seasons. For
many, especially our children, it means a time to take a vacation; here on the
farm, summer solstice represents a moment of hard earned leisure – a short
breather between all the hard work already put in and the big harvest months
ahead. So mark your calendars and join us for our Summer Solstice Celebration
on Saturday, June 23rd.
The day will be filled with activities, from learning about honey bees and extracting
honey with Steve Demkowski (Steve has 10 hives right here on the farm), to strawberry
and blackberry picking (we’ll have chocolate on hand for dipping!), to
milking the goats and cheese making with Bernadette, to face painting, to bread
baking and pumpkin seed planting. Tom will of course be giving his usual farm
tour, Kuzanga Marimba will again color the air around us with their beautiful
marimba music, we’ll light our traditional bonfire at dusk, and last but
never least, there will be food, lots of food!
Summer Solstice is actually a time of light and of fire, a time to reflect upon
the growth of the season: the seeds that have been planted in the earth and those
planted in our own lives. Remember to bring a dish to contribute to the potluck
it 's a reminder of what nourishes us, and a small offering acknowledging the
change of the season. Hope to see you all here at the farm.
Solstice Celebration – the nitty gritty
<> how do I get there? (click
here for directions)
***save gas and the environment and carpool if you can! Try the Friends of LEF
Yahoo Group for finding carpool buddies if you don’t know other members
in your area***
<> when should I get there? Activities will happen between 2 and 5pm, Kuzanga
begins playing around 5, then we break for our traditional potluck around 6pm.
After the potluck, Kuzanga continues to play, and then we light the bonfire at
<> do I need to make a reservation, or let you know I’m coming? No.
<> what is the cost? There is no cost; all we ask is that you bring food
to share in our potluck.
<> what else should I bring? We encourage you to bring your own picnic
plates and utensils in order to minimize unrecyclable garbage. We will have a
washing station, where you can rinse them when you are through eating. Also,
bring a blanket to picnic on, and it gets cool in the evening so don’t
forget sweaters and jackets.
<> can I bring someone who is not a member of the CSA? Yes, certainly!
All friends of the farm are welcome! Just remember to bring food to share in
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Tom's favorite crop: Potatoes
Every year, upon the arrival of the first potatoes of the season in the CSA shares,
I like to take the opportunity to write about this fascinating crop. Some of
this will be excerpts from previous years’ newsletters. Oh, and don't think
we were too lazy to clean the potatoes; the reason they will come with a little
soil attached and not look spanking clean is because the skin is so thin, we're
trying to avoid bruising them before they get to you (that’s how fresh
they are!). This year we are growing four different types of potatoes, two red
(Red Pontiac and Red La Soda) and two yellow (Yellow Finn and Yukon Gold).
Slipping your hand under the loose soil and pulling up the first new potatoes
is like finding a buried treasure. Do you know that the so-called "Irish" potato
actually comes from the highlands of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, where it has
been cultivated for over 5000 years? Potatoes were the staple of the Incas, who
grew and ate hundreds of varieties. The Irish were the first to grow the potato
extensively since it yielded 4 to 5 times more calories per acre than any of
the traditionally grown cereal grains. By changing their diet, it allowed the
Irish to survive without having to depend on the English grown grains. In war-torn
Europe peasants planted potatoes as a kind of insurance, since potatoes could
be left in the ground through the winter and dug only as needed for daily consumption.
This would allow peasants to survive the raids of soldiers during wartime: soldiers
usually could not take the time to dig the field to get their food, and certainly
they would not do so if grains were stored in neighboring barns. However in 1845-46,
the year of the devastating Irish Potato Famine, late blight (Phytophtora Infestans),
a common fungal disease that thrives under cool and wet conditions (i.e. Irish
weather) wiped out most of the Irish potato crop. Hundreds of thousands died
before public relief could be organized, and scores of thousands who survived
emigrated to America. The harsh lesson of this famine was the importance of maintaining
a diversified farming system, i.e. don't rely solely on one type of crop (monocropping).
Although potatoes grow underground they are not really roots. They are the swollen
ends of skinny underground stems called rhizomes. To stimulate their growth,
about a quarter to a third of the plant has to be covered with soil, or ‘hilled
up’ to stimulate the formation of ‘tubers.’ Today heirloom
potatoes are making a comeback, with hundreds of varieties now available in unique
shapes/colors, from purple, to knobby fingerlings, to round, red-skinned boilers,
to oval, brown-skinned boilers.
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Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
here to go to my extensive
recipe database, spanning nearly 10 years of CSA recipes and alphabetized
by key ingredient. Includes photos of most farm veggies; helpful for
ID-ing things in your box!)
What I’d do with this week’s box:
I’d try to use the basil as soon as possible, while it is still very
fresh, but here’s what I did last week, and it kept well for a couple days
before I got around to using it: I put the basil in a tall drinking glass with
about an inch of water in the bottom, much like a vase of flowers (size the glass
to your basil bunch; if it is short and squatty, use a shorter glass. Last week
mine was tall and leggy, so I used a tall glass). Also like flowers, I snipped
off the ends of the stems just before immersing them (so they are more likely
to take up a little water and stay fresh). If the bottom few leaves will be submerged,
I just remove them (they’d get waterlogged and just be unusable anyway).
Unlike flowers though, if there are blooms on the end of the basil, I nip them
off with my fingers just above the last pair of leaves (sorta like Morticia Adams
and her roses, only I don’t invert the stems after deflowering them!).
Next, I slip a plastic bag over the basil and it’s glass, then secure it
to the glass with a rubberband so the air around the basil will hold its humidity
(refrigerators tend to dry things out). Then stick this in a door shelf of your
refrigerator (Julia of Mariquita Farm taught me this; the door tends to be less
cold, and this is good, in this case). Be sure the basil is not wet before you
do this; wet leafy things rot quicker. Humidity = good, wet = bad. If you have
to, let the basil air dry for awhile before storing it this way.
Okay, that’s how I’d store the basil, but how would I use it?
I think it would be great in a fresh potato salad. I’d boil up some
of those potatoes (whole, skin on!) then while still warm, cut them into
pieces, dress them with a simple vinaigrette and toss in slivered basil leaves.
(Be sure not to overcook the potatoes or they fall apart.) Instead of celery,
slice thinly or dice up some of the mei qing choi and add them. I did
that before with both tuna salad and chicken salad, and loved the texture and
flavor it added! I expect the results will be similarly delightful in potato
salad. The broccoli or broccolini I’d just steam until tender, and
then while still warm, drizzle it with good olive oil (the warm veggies release
a delicious waft of the olive oil’s fragrance) then squeeze on a little
lemon juice, and sprinkle with sea salt. And if it gets hot this week (like it’s
supposed to), I think I’ll make a cold cucumber
soup. The rest of the box
items are covered nicely by the recipes below, sent in by various members:
Member Christi Carew sent this first recipe, and just in time for our first potatoes!
Cheese, Chard, And Potato Casserole
Christi says, “This is a great recipe for using a lot of greens.
Sometimes I just end up having a lot at once and want an easy way to use them
all at once. I think you could also layer the greens/egg mixture with the potatoes
rather than mixing it all together, but I haven't had time to try that yet.
I've adapted it from a recipe I found online.”
1 lb. chard (or other greens - I used kale the first time. Second time I used
some kale, spinach, arugula, and mustard greens)
4 medium potatoes
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
6 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 C milk
2 or more cloves of garlic, crushed, minced, or finely chopped
salt to taste
1 tsp. each thyme and marjoram
1/2 or more chopped onion
3/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
Wash and dry chard (or greens), and chop into thin strips, 1/4 inch wide or thinner.
Wash potatoes and cut into 1/8-inch slices (this should make 6-7 cups). Set aside
1 1/4 cups of potatoes. Add the olive oil to the greens and mix well. In a separate
bowl, mix eggs, milk, garlic salt, herbs, onion, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan
cheese. Add egg mixture to greens and mix well. Add the big portion of potatoes
(NOT the 1 1/4 cups you set aside) to the greens and mix well. Pour into a greased,
9x13 baking dish. Place remaining potato slices on top. Cover with foil and bake
at 350 degrees F until potatoes in center are done (about 50 minutes). Uncover
and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Continue baking until cheese is golden,
about 10 minutes.
Member Lauren Thompson, frequent recipe contributor to the Friends
of LEF yahoo group, sent this recipe last week:
Noah Thompson’s Zucchini Fritters
Two nights ago my husband Noah made these amazing 'Zucchini Fritters'...
we actually made them with the summer squash. Even though we had tasty balsamic
glazed kale and onions on the side, these fritters really stole the show. Somehow,
despite the simple ingredient list, these fritters really become something
more than the sum of their parts. We only wished we had twice as many. The
squeeze of lemon from the wedges really makes the recipe, so don't omit the
1 pound zucchini
1 large garlic clove, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large egg
1/2 C all-purpose flour
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1. Trim the ends from the zucchini. Shred the zucchini using the large hole of
a box grater or the shredding disc of a food processor. Wrap the shredded zucchini
in several layers of paper towels or in a kitchen towel and squeeze gently. Continue
squeezing, using new towels if necessary, until the zucchini is dry.
2. Place the shredded and squeezed zucchini in a large bowl. Add the garlic,
salt, pepper, and egg and mix well. Stir in the flour.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat.
Fill a 1/4 cup measure with the zucchini batter. Turn the batter into the hot
pan and use the back of the spoon to shape the batter into a 2-3 inch patty (Much
like pancake batter, it will spread, but since the batter is quite thick, it's
best to help it along.) Quickly repeat until the pan is full but not crowded.
Sauté until the fritters are nicely browned on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes
longer. transfer the fritters to a platter lined with a paper towel to drain.
4. Briefly heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the empty skillet. Add
the remaining batter as directed in step 3 to make more fritters. Cook the fritters
until browned on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve the fritters hot with
the lemon wedges.
And member Catherine Barale says, “Last week I made strawberry jam. You
can make it traditionally and can it or use the new freezer pectin if you don't
want to go through the effort of canning. Fabulous. This week I made strawberry
cobbler. Here’s the recipe.”
from Fields of Greens, by Annie Sommerville
5 C strawberries washed, hulled, and cut into halves if large
1/3 C sugar
2 tbsp. flour
Chopped zest of one orange
Place into a greased 8x8 inch baking dish
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 C heavy cream
Combine dry ingredients and cut butter into it until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Add the cream and mix lightly, just until dry ingredients are moistened. Cover
the fruit with the topping one tablespoon at a time until it's all used. Bake
at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes.
Catherine sent me this next recipe too, saying she used it to marinate beets
and then served them on a bed of arugula. Since we don’t have arugula this
week, try it simply on a bed of lettuce, or, steam some chard or kale until tender
and toss it in a little of the vinaigrette too, then serve the beets on top!
from Greens at Home, also by Annie Sommerville
2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
1 tbsp. champagne vinegar (I used rice vinegar)
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. olive oil
pinch cayenne pepper
Marinate cooked beets in vinaigrette and serve at room temp over a bed of greens.
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