Newsletter – 19 June, 2014

The Alleged Farm News – 19 June, 2014

This weeks share: Arugula, Cilantro, Escarole, Green garlic, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mustard greens, Scallions, Hakurei turnip

Owner’s Manual – The Alleged Farm CSA Share, Model Year 2014

I considered writing this entire newsletter in that special instructional pidgin English that makes everything from setting up a TV antenna to boiling rice noodles so much harder and funnier than it ought to be. But it would simply have added to the effort of producing the newsletter–at the last minute as always–and the joke would have worn thin about 3 sentences in. So I will stick to my own idiosyncratic, meandering prose style, which should produce enough confusion as it is.

In any event, congratulation on your decision to purchase a 2014 CSA share from The Alleged Farm. We are confident that you will enjoy the many features of your new share, and that with proper handling and care it will provide you with weeks of sustenance and the occasional pleasant discovery.

In order to get the most from your share, please familiarize yourself with the instructions, safety warnings, snide jokes and fatalism in the owners manual. Failure to follow all of the instructions and obey proper safety precautions could result in serious injury to the box or the the loss of leafy greens.

In order to get anything at all from your share, you should probably get your share. And to do that you should go to the site you signed up for after the delivery time and take one of the share boxes. It does not matter which box. They are all the same. If you are having trouble choosing I suggest you take the one third from the left. Or maybe the bottom one on the right. Though, come to think of it, that one over closer to the door looks tempting. No, really, it does not matter. As long as you are at the right site, you can take whichever box you want. Note that “signed up for” above can mean the site you chose when you purchased your share or a different site that you have requested (through the web site or via email) we send your share to for whatever number of weeks during the season.

If you cannot get your share on delivery day it will probably still be there waiting for you the next day. A little glum, a

little resentful, but waiting anyway. At some point, however, your site host is going to take pity on it and find it a good home. If you cannot get your share at all you can always have someone else pick it up. The vegetables won’t mind. They just want to be eaten by somebody. And if you cannot find someone to take your box, please let us know. We will send it Capital City Rescue Mission.

Should you manage to get your box home, I would recommend opening it and taking the produce out. It is a lot easier to deal with the produce once it is out of the box, and it is much easier to undo the box and flatten it for return to us (leave it at your site and we will pick it up) when the box is empty. Not that it is as easy as it should be to flatten the box even when it is empty. To do so without tearing the bottom, pull the shorts sides back to disengage the tabs rather than pulling them straight up, which tears the tabs.

As for handling the produce, I leave that up to you. I do suggest that you dunk the leafy things in cold water to refresh them and put the herbs in a glass of water (don’t wash basil unless you are going to use it right away). Most of the other crops can go in the refrigerator, though onions and garlic should not (too cold and damp for them). There is an ongoing debate about refrigerating tomatoes. It may not be as disastrous (for the tomatoes) as claimed. Feel free to conduct your own experiments. If you want root crops to last longer, take the greens off (and eat them). Not that you should really be aiming for long term storage of anything because you will be getting another box of produce in a week.

I would suggest, instead–and keep in mind this is only a suggestion–aiming to eat the produce. Unless it is something you don’t like or work is just crazy or it is too damn hot to move, let alone make food, or you lose track of it in the bottom of the crisper drawer or you have such a busy social life you are just never home or …. Well, or all those things that get in the way of making food. In which case the vegetables can make a lovely gift or excellent compost or a make the rabbits in your yard ridiculously happy.

Perhaps you are hesitant to do anything with some of the produce because you don’t know what it is. I try to offer basic identification tips and cooking suggestions for unusual crops in the “Vegetable Notes.” I don’t give specific recipes. Some day if my web guru figures out how to do it, there will be recipes for lots of the crops on the website again (and I will solicit recipes from you to add to the collection). When in doubt about how to prepare a particular vegetable, just sauté some garlic in olive oil and add it. Hard to go wrong with that.

Even if you don’t eat all your vegetables, even if you eat none of them, even if you never get your box, you are still supporting a local, conserved, sustainable farm. You are helping to create jobs (the governor thanks you, though my son, Will, is a little less thrilled about the work), keep land open, improve the soil, feed the hungry (in addition to the unwanted CSA boxes we send to the Rescue Mission, we also donate about 3 tons of produce a year to Community Action) and protect farmland (we donate 1% of receipts to the Agricultural Stewardship Association, which holds the easement on our farm). Plus as a member, you get these scintillating newsletter and the chance to visit the farm and do our work for us. Oh no, wait, Liz told me I should not threaten you with farm work. I meant, you can visit the farm and participate in exciting and educational agricultural activities.

So I guess you don’t have to get your box in order to get anything get all from your share.

Still, I really would recommend getting your share and eating the vegetables.

Vegetable Notes: Why, you may wonder, have we given you several young garlic plants. Perhaps we expect you to transplant them and grow your own. You could do that, but you don’t need to. We have a lot more garlic growing here. I would recommend, instead that you eat it. You can use the whole plant. The dark green leaves are a little tough, but you can use them for flavoring in a soup. As for the rest of the stalk, from the curlicue scape at the top down to the bulb, you can chop it up and cook it. And there are small cloves you can use too. Because it is still young it has a milder, almost sweet–though distinctly garlic–flavor. You could sauté it in oil, perhaps with a little hot pepper and wilt the mustard greens (in the bag) in it. Or make a garlicky broth and add chopped escarole (the large green head). Or add a crushed clove to a vinaigrette. Or puree it with the cilantro or arugula and serve it with, well, just about anything. Including slices of kohlrabi (the spaceship-like, dense object), which has mild crunchy flesh.