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    2017 Denison Farms Newsletters

June

week 1
week 2
week 3
week 4

July

week 5
week 6
week 7
week 8

August

week 9
week 10
week 11
week 12
week 13

September

week 14
week 15
week 16
week 17

October

week 18
week 19
week 20
week 21
week 22

November

week 23
week 24
week 25




Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017:  Week 24
Next week will be the LAST box of the season!

In this box:
1/2 # Salad Mix, 2# Carrots, 1 Fennel, 1 Leek, 1 bunch Collards, 2# Potatoes, 2 jalapeno peppers, 1 Sunshine squash, 2# Cameo Apples  (from Gala Springs Orchard)  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Fennel History
    Fennel has been part of European culinary history for a long time. I recently came across the following recipe from a cookbook published in 1662! I wasn’t reading the original Italian cookbook (L’Arte di ben cucinare), but discovered the recipe in Is there a Nutmeg in the House, by Elizabeth David (2001). Here’s the recipe: Minestra di Finocchio (a dish of fennel). Take well cleaned fennel and wash it in cold water, and having first cooked it in a vegetable broth and cut it into mouthfuls, you are to put it in a glazed vessel with a little capon broth, and when hot put in a few gooseberries, a glass of cream, two ounces of pine nuts steeped in rosewater, crushed in the mortar, and thicken the sauce with four egg yolks beaten with lemon juice, and under the fennel in the dish put slices of bread fried in butter; thus you may make a most delicate minestra, serving it hot, powdered with cinnamon.
    Alternately, you can check this year’s Newsletter, week 19 for more modern fennel ideas; or if you still have beets from last week’s box,  try Beet & Fennel Soup
3 - 4 large beets
1 large fennel
1 medium onion
(optional, 1 large potato)
salt & pepper to taste
plain yogurt
      Wash all vegetables and cut into chunks. Place in a large steamer over boiling water. Steam until very soft. Using the water from the steamer, blend cooked vegetables until very smooth. Thin as needed with additional hot water or stock. Return to pot, heat gently to avoid sticking. Add salt & pepper. Garnish each bowl with yogurt. Recipe from Madison Area CSA Coalition, "From Asparagus to Zucchini.”

Sunshine Squash
    My favorite thing to do with Sunshine squash is to make pumpkie pie. We’re giving you the squash this week so (if you want) you can cook it up ahead of time and use it for your Thanksgiving pies next week. Just substitute cooked, mashed Sunshine squash for canned “pumpkin” in your favorite pumpkin pie recipe. Look back at the Newsletter from Week 21 for details on cooking Sunshine squash.

   
Or, if you want some new ideas, go to www.eatwintersquash.com/recipes for some really inspiring recipe ideas developed by Oregon State University in cooperation with local Oregon farmers. Just looking at the photos on their web site makes me want to Eat Winter Squash!

Collards are closely related to Kale (and broccoli, cauliflower,cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and many other familiar vegetables). Oddly, collards have not experienced the recent popularity surge of kale. They are so interchangeable in the kitchen—you  can use collards for just about any recipe that calls for kale, and vice versa. And collards have the added benefit that they are so much easier to handle on the cutting board. Just roll them up, and slice off ribbon-shaped strips of the leaves (chiffonade is the technical term for these thin ribbons).
    Fresh, young collards cook relatively quickly. You can steam them whole, and use leaves as wrappers for “cabbage rolls”, or in place of grape leaves for “dolmas”. Collards are excellent in a stir-fry, especially if you add a little vinegar, or viniagrette salad dressing after they have wilted. Just a touch of acid (lemon juice, vinegar, or salad dressing) balances the flavors nicely. And, of course, collards are great in a soup or stew, or in the following recipe:
Hot & Sour Greens (adapted from Andrew Weil, 8 Weeks to Optimum Health)  
1 bunch greens (collards, kale, chard, or other sturdy greens)
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. minced onion
dash of red pepper flakes
¼ tsp. dry mustard powder
2 Tbs. rice vinegar
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. brown sugar (optional)
    Rinse and slice greens into ½-inch ribbons. Heat oil, stir-fry onion and pepper flakes 1 minute.
Add greens and mustard powder. Stir to coat greens with oil. Combine rice vinegar, soy sauce, and (optional) sugar. Add to skillet. Cook, covered, over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Note: this would be a good recipe to use fresh ginger, if you have any left. Add grated fresh ginger to the skillet along with the pepper flakes.

Storage Produce in exchange for vacation credits
Orders received before Monday, Nov 20 will be delivered with your final Harvest Box next week. To order, send email to denisonfarms@peak.org.  Vacation credits expire after Weds, Nov22nd.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017:  Week 23
Our season is 25 weeks long. There are 2 more boxes!

In this box:
1 bunch Mizuna, 1 bunch Spinach, 1 bunch Kale, 1 bunch Beets, 2# Carrots, 2# Red Onions, 2# Red Potatoes, 2 Delicata squash, 2# Granny Smith Apples (from Gala Springs Orchard) (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Recipes
    This week, I offer a couple recipes given to me by other cooks. My mother sent me the Red Flannel Hash recipe, which she remembers her mother making frequently when she was growing up in Vemont. It feels good to honor my grandmother’s kitchen by passing this recipe on, but (honestly) I’ve never cooked with corned beef. I expect you could use some other protein to flavor the dish, or leave it out entirely.
Red Flannel Hash
2 cups cooked, diced corned beef
2 cups boiled, diced potatoes
1 cup cooked, diced beets
3 Tbs butter
¼ cup milk
Salt & pepper to taste
    Mix together beef, potatoes, and beets. Sprinkle with salt and peppers. Melt butter in skillet, add hash and milk, and cook over low heat until one side is brown. Turn and brown on the other side. Serve with eggs and toast, plus lots of hot coffee.

Here’s a recipe for Roasted Delicata Squash & Apples from one of our Albany members (thanks Staci!):  Cut delicata in half, scoop out the seeds, then cut into “smile”-shaped slices. Roast with sliced apples, and chopped red onion, tossed with coconut oil (or other oil, or butter), Chinese 5 spice, and a little salt. Sounds yummy!


Mizuna is a great impersonator (in a vegetal sense). First, let’s talk about Mizuna, then I will explain why I call it an impersonator. Mizuna is in the Brassica family (along with broccoli, cabbage, kale, bok choy, and mustard greens). It is considered one of the mildest of  the mustard greens. The slighty peppery flavor becomes much milder when mizuna is cooked, or with the addition of salad dressing. I think the addition of a little acid (like vinegar in a stir-fry, Parmesan cheese with pasta, or vinaigrette salad dressing) is key to balance the flavor and showcase mizuna at its best.
       Mizuna can be eaten raw or cooked. It is good in a salad, or on a sandwich in place of lettuce. Try it cooked in a stir-fry, sliced and added to a soup, or tossed with pasta. Last night, I used a used a bunch of mizuna and half a red onion for an Asian-inspired stir fry: Dice ½ of a red onions, and sauté in a little oil. When soft, add 1 bunch mizuna (rinsed & chopped). Stir-fry for about 1 minute. Then add 1 Tbs soy sauce, 1 tsp. rice vinegar, and ½ tsp. toasted sesame oil. Turn heat to low, cover, and wait for 3 minutes. If you still have fresh ginger from a few weeks ago, toss it in as well.
       Mizuna cooks very quickly, and can be tossed with pasta and fresh Parmesan. You can add the mizuna at the very end, and the hot pasta will wilt it just enough. Boil a package of noodles al dente. When the noodles are ready, drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Return pasta to the pot, and add ½ to 1 bunch of chopped mizuna, and a generous grating of Parmesan cheese. Add a little pasta water if the mixture looks dry. Serve with crushed red pepper and more grated Parmesan cheese.
       Mizuna the impersonator. Mizuna can be used along with or instead of many other tender (i.e. quick-cooking) greens. If you have a favorite recipe that uses spinach, arugula, frisee, or bok choy, try substituting mizuna (or use both spinach and mizuna). So, dig up a recipe for creamed spinach, spinach lasagne, arugula salad, and use mizuna instead. Caution, Mizuna and Kale are not interchangeable. Kale takes much longer to cook.
       One final recipe idea—Green Pizza (from long-time Harvest Box member, Molly). Sauté a bunch of greens with garlic or onion. Cook until the greens are no longer “wet”. Cover uncooked pizza dough with a layer of mozzarella, then spread cooked greens on top. (optional: add gorgonzola or parmesan on top of the greens). Bake at 450 degrees for 15 or 16 minutes.

      
Storage guidelines for late fall produce
Warm and Dry: Winter squash and sweet potatoes should be stored above 50 degrees and relatively dry.  In a cupboard, paper bag, or box is fine.
Cold and Humid: Roots: Carrots, beets, and potatoes store best close to, but not below freezing, with high humidity. In the fridge in a plastic bag or “crisper” drawer is best.  They get soft if they lose water through their skin (thus, the plastic bag). Remove leaves from carrot and beet bunches, or moisture will be lost through the leaves, and the roots will become soft. Potatoes also need complete darkness, or their skin will turn green, bitter, and somewhat toxic.
Cold and Dry: Onions store best close to but not below freezing and low humidity. The colder they are, the longer before they start to sprout. High humidity will make them want to grow roots. Store in the fridge, or unheated garage, in a ventilated box or bag.
      
To exchange vacation credit vouchers for Storage Produce:
       There’s still time to order storage produce to use up any vacation credit vouchers you have. See last week’s newsletter for a list of what’s available, and order by sending an email to denisonfarms@peak.org We will deliver storage produce with your Harvest Box on Nov 14 or Nov 21.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017:  Week 22 (October 31)
Our season is 25 weeks long. There are 3 more boxes!

In this box: ½# Spinach, ½# Salad Mix, 1 Lettuce, 1 bunch Rainbow Chard, 2# Carrots, 2 Onions, 1 Butternut Squash, 2 Yellow Bell Peppers, 2# Liberty Apples (from LaMancha Ranch & Orchard) (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Flavor, part 1. Sweet
    The human palate seems to appreciate sweet foods. This is particularly noticeable in children, but I think grown-ups are similar (though we may have more control over our impulses). Sweet seems to be pleasant to most people. It takes a more mature palate, perhaps, to appreciate bitter flavors.
    Because of the easy popularity of sweet flavors, it’s nice to know how to work with ingredients to bring some subtle sweetness to vegetables that you may not at first consider “sweet”. Keeping things cold, cooking, and finding complementary flavors are all good techniques to get the most sweetness out of your produce.
       Many vegetables are sweetest when they have just been picked. This is particularly true of carrots. You are already so far ahead of many people by getting your produce directly from us, within a day or two of harvest! Keeping carrots cold (in the refrigerator) helps maintain their sweetness, so keep them in the fridge! For one of my favorite carrot recipes, visit our web site recipe blog, and search for Carrot Soup.

       Greens (including chard, spinach, lettuce, and kale) tend to be sweeter when the weather is cooler. We are now approaching the season when greens have their best flavor.
      
    Cooking enhances the sweetness of many fruits and vegetables, though for different reasons. Many fruits, like today’s Liberty Apples have a complex sweet-tart flavor. The tartness comes from acids, the sweetness from sugars. Cooking apples into applesauce or apple pie mellows the tartness, so the sweetness is more apparent. I think apples that are less tart when eaten fresh (like Red Delicious), are bland when cooked, because they don’t have the acids to contribute complexity to the cooked dish. Liberty apples are perfect for cooking, or eating fresh if you like the bright sparkle of tartness on the tongue.
    Cooking also enhances the sweetness of Squash and Onions, particularly with cooking methods that encourage caramelizing. Butternut squash is an excellent choice for roasting: Peel and cut squash into cubes. Then spread in a single layer in your largest roasting pan, coat lightly with oil, sprinkle with salt (optional), and cook in a hot oven for a long time. I have roasted successfully at oven temperatures anywhere from 350 – 400 degrees. At the lower end, it just takes a little longer. Stir gently after 30 minutes, then return to the oven for another 30 – 45 minutes. They’re done when the pieces have shrunk (due to water evaporation), and are slightly browned on at least one side. The browning indicates the sugars have caramelized. Your kitchen should smell lovely!
    This might be a good week for Caramelized Onions. Onions have a lot of sweetness, usually masked when raw by the sharpness that makes your eyes water. Cooking mellows the sharpness, and enhances the sweetness. Onions can be caramelized in the oven or on the stovetop. Long, slow cooking is the key, and moderating the moisture so things don’t burn. Here’s how I make stovetop caramelized onions: Slice 1 or 2 onions thinly. Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in a heavy saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and stir to distribute the oil. Then cover the pan and cook on medium-low heat for 5 – 10 minutes. Once the onions have softened, remove the lid, and stir frequently for another 15 – 20 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated, and the onion color darkens. If you want more flavor, or if the onions seem to be sticking to the pan, add a splash of chicken stock, Balsamic vinegar, or stout beer, and use the additional liquid to deglaze the pan, scraping up the stuck-on bits. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
       Sometimes chefs use complementary ingredients to bring sweetness to a dish.  This recipe for chard is a great example of that. Who would think of pairing currants and greens? I didn’t create this combination, I just simplified a collection of recipes from different sources: Chard with Currants and Pine Nuts: Cover 1/4 cup currants (or raisins) with warm water and set aside. Separate 1 bunch chard stalks from leaves. Slice stalks into 1” pieces, and slice leaves into ribbons. Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in a very large frypan. Toast ¼ cup pine nuts in frypan for 1 minute. Remove nuts to a cool dish. Drain currants, reserving the liquid. Add drained currants and chard stems to hot frypan. Cover and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add chard leaf and liquid from currants. Cover. Turn heat to high and steam until leaves are wilted (about 3 minutes). Top with pine nuts, salt & pepper.

Lettuce & salad greens: Although your lettuce and salad greens are rinsed on the farm, it’s always a good idea to give them a good dunk in fresh, cold water at home. I like to submerge salad greens in the largest bowl that will fit in my sink. Dirt will sink to the bottom of the bowl, and aphids and such will float.

To exchange vacation credit vouchers for Storage Produce:
Persimmons are now available. 1 voucher = 8# (approx.20 fruits)
See last week’s newsletter, below, for the full list of availability and ordering details.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017:  Week 21

 
In this box: ½# Spinach, 1 Lettuce, 1 bu Arugula, 1 bu Kale, 2# Potatoes, 1 Leek, 1 Sunshine Squash, ¼# Fresh Ginger,  2# Cameo Apples  (from Gala Springs Orchard) Cameo apples’ claim to fame is they resist browning when cut.
(weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Fresh Ginger Ideas
    Grate some up and make ginger-applesauce, or visit our Recipe Blog (on our web site), and follow the links to a recipe for stir-fried kale with fresh ginger.

Arugula
    In 1980, Tom was asked by a gourmet produce broker to grow arugula (also known as roquettte), and he could not find seed for it in any of his dozens of seed catalogs. Arugula was virtually unknown in this country at that time. Fast forward 35 years to the present, and arugula is a staple at most grocery stores.
       When Tom was first introduced to Arugula, he found it too strong to eat raw. It is quite peppery, and sharp on the tongue. Mahmoud, an Iranian friend who introduced Tom to arugula suggests eating with bread & cheese. I like it in a sandwich (instead of lettuce).  If raw arugula is too strong for you, it’s much more mild when wilted, cooked, or tossed with salad dressing. We like arugula cooked quickly with eggs (stuffed in an omelette, or tossed quickly with hot scrambled eggs just before serving). Arugula can also be steamed, sauteed, or put in soups to mellow the flavor. Or just use it raw if you like the flavor. It cooks quickly. Try substituting arugula for half the spinach in any recipe where you would use spinach. Maybe this is a good week for a wilted spinach & arugula salad?
     Like mache, fennel, dandelion, chickweed, and wild mushrooms, arugula grows wild as a weed in the Mediterranean region. Interesting that all these wild herbs that used to be commonly gathered and eaten by peasants are now showing up at some of the fanciest restaurants in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s a recipe that might just show up in one of those nice restaurants. It’s from John & Sally at Gathering Together Farm, and I found it in the Oregon Farmers’ Markets Cookbook & Guide (by Kris Wetherbee, 1998).
Arugula Mayonnaise
1 cup arugula leaves, lightly packed
1 clove garlic
1 large egg yolk
½ cup olive oil
1 to 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste
In a blender or food processor, combine and puree arugula, egg yolk, 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 Tbs. lemon juice, salt & pepper. With blender still running, add remaining oil in a fine stream till thickened. Add more lemon juice, salt & pepper if necessary. Keep refrigerated. Makes ¾ cup.

Sunshine Squash
       This orange kabocha-type squash has sweet, smooth-textured dark orange flesh that is delicious baked,steamed, or turned into soup. If you want to google for more recipe ideas, use kabocha squash as the search term.
       The skin is tender, so it’s not necessary to peel it. However, you will want to remove any skin “warts”, as they are hard and will not soften. I find it’s easier to remove the hard warts after it’s been cooked.
       For simple preparation, cut into chunks or slices and steam for 10-20 minutes (depending on the size of your slices) until soft. For baked squash, cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place cut-side down in a baking dish, and add ¼” water to the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-90 minutes until tender.  Cool & mash, then use for any recipe calling for “canned pumpkin”.  (In my opinion), Sunshine squash makes far better pumpkin pie than true pumpkin, as it has superior color, flavor and texture.  We like to serve sunshine squash mashed with butter, or coconut milk.
      
To exchange vacation credit vouchers for Storage Produce:
The following storage produce is available:
Yellow, Red, or Purple Potatoes (20#)
Sweet Onions (20#), Storage Onions (20#)
Red Onions (20#)
Carrots (15#), Beets (15#)
Strawberries (1 flat)
20# Squash (Delicata, Sunshine, or Butternut)
Persimmons will be available in November.

Send an email to denisonfarms@peak.org by Sunday to place an order for storage produce to be delivered with your Harvest Box any week between now and November 22nd. (Vacation credits expire at Thanksgiving)
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017:  Week 20

In this box: 1 Romaine lettuce, 2 Cucumbers, 1 bu Carrots, 1# Tomatoes, 2# Sweet Potatoes, 1 Yellow Onion, 1 bunch Parsley,  Bell Peppers, 2# Liberty Apples (from  LaMancha Ranch & Orchard)  (weights are approx.)
Everything is Organic!

Romesco!
    I have a new favorite vegan meal… pasta or potatoes (or any starch) with Romesco sauce. I found Romesco sauce one spring when we were harvesting Calcots (a traditional food from Spain — large spring onions grilled and dipped in Romesco). When I needed something for pasta the other night, I had peppers on the counter, and a little time to roast them. Dinner was planned! Romesco is a traditional food, which means there are innumerable versions of the recipe. Here’s my current version—(all the amounts are approximate, you can vary depending on what you have on hand)
Romesco Sauce
1 cup roasted peppers (see this year’s Week 15 newsletter for roasting instructions)
1/3 cup nuts (I suggest peeled almonds—pour boiling water over almonds, wait until cool enough to handle,
     then slip off and discard the skins.)
2 Tbs. vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
¼ cup olive oil (or less, if your roasted peppers are juicy)
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. smoked paprika
    Chop nuts in a food processor until finely ground. Add the roasted peppers, vinegar, salt, and paprika and blend well. Then pour in olive oil while processor is running until it looks like it will be spreadable. I like mine a little thicker and less oily than a good pesto sauce.

Liberty Apples—juicy, crisp, sweet-tart, and the perfect size for a lunchbox. Libertys are great as an all-around apple for fresh eating and also for cooking!


Shoulder Seasons
    A farmer friend affectionately refers to spring and fall as “shoulder” seasons. I like the poetry in that image. Fall is a bountiful shoulder season. The last of the summer tomatoes and cucumbers are still around for one last Summer Tabbouleh (with parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil); yet sweet potatoes and winter squash (which take a LONG time to mature) are also available.
       Need more parsley ideas? See Salsa Verde on our web site recipe blog.

Don’t refrigerate Sweet potatoes—store them on the counter.
    Sweet potatoes are so versatile in the kitchen… they can be made savory or sweet, depending on your mood…. Simple or complicated, depending on your schedule.
    At their simplest, sweet potatoes can be boiled, steamed, or baked and eaten unadorned (OK, maybe with just a little butter). Baked whole sweet potatoes are nice in a lunchbox, or taken on a hike.
     The longer you leave them in the oven, the sweeter they will become. I leave mine in until they are REALLY soft, and the kitchen smells like caramel. Pierce the skin with a knife or fork before putting them in the oven if you’re baking them whole, otherwise they may “explode” and make a mess.
    Sweet potatoes are also great roasted. Cut into bite-sized pieces, coat with a little oil, and a sprinkle of any spice of your choosing: salt & black pepper; cumin; chili powder; curry; or cinnamon and nutmeg. Roast in  a hot oven until tender. Lime juice or zest is also nice added just before serving. The tart lime lends a nice balance to the sweet potatoes.
    I generally don’t bother to peel my sweet potatoes. Just give them a good scrub, and edit any blemishes.

Storage Produce in exchange for Vacation Credits: (Sweet potatoes & Winter Squash now avail.)
    Each vacation credit voucher may be exchanged for one item on the list. To order, send an email to denisonfarms@peak.org  to let me know what you want, and what week you want it delivered with your Harvest Box between now and Nov. 22nd. (Vacation credits expire at Thanksgiving)
Now Available:
Potatoes, Yellow, Red, or Purple (20#)
Sweet Onions (20#), Storage Onions (20#)
Red Onions (20#)
Carrots (15#), Beets (15#)
Seconds Peppers (10#)
Strawberries (1 flat)
Sweet Potatoes (10#)
Winter Squash-delicata, sunshine, or butternut (20#)
Ginger (1½# )
(Persimmons will be available in November)
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017:  Week 19
In this box: ½# Salad Mix, ½# Spinach, 1 Fennel, 1 bu Carrots, 2# Potatoes, 1 ½# Red Onions, 1 basket Strawberries, 2# Winter Banana Apples (from Gala Springs Orchard) (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Fennel
    A somewhat obscure member of the carrot & celery family, fennel is widely used in Mediterranean cuisine. When eaten raw, it has a slight anise (licorice) flavor, and a crunchy texture. Fennel makes a lovely “dipper” for chevre, creamy salad dressing, or cottage cheese. When cooked, the anise flavor is much milder, and the texture becomes very tender. Fennel adds body to soups, as it softens and becomes almost creamy when cooked.
    Last night, I used fennel in place of celery as a base for lentil soup—sautéeing diced fennel with carrots and onions before adding broth, lentils, a few tomatoes, and a bunch of kale. Fennel is also wonderful for spaghetti sauce—sauté it with the other aromatics before adding your tomatoes.
    For raw use: trim off the stalks and slice the bulb in half lengthwise. Then rinse any dirt from between the layers, and slice the bulb either across the grain into disks, or lengthwise into wedges. If you cut lengthwise into wedges, the center core helps the layers stay together.
    For cooking: prepare as above, then slice or dice the bulb. If you’re cooking fennel, you can use the leaf stalks and tender leaves, slicing them thinly before adding them to soup, spaghetti sauce, or stews. Long pieces of leaf stalks may be stringy.
    Still not sure what to do with your fennel? Slice the bulb, and add to a side of caramelized onions:
 
Caramelized Onions are remarkably sweet, and there’s nothing mysterious or difficult about making them….you just need a lot of onions, and a little time. I like to use sliced onions (rather than diced onions) for caramelized onions, because they get so soft that the slices provide a little texture. Caramelizing diced onions will create more of a purée texture—which is fine if that’s what you’re going for.
    Caramelizing Onions is basically slow-cooking them until they become very soft and sweet. With slow cooking, the moisture evaporates, the cell walls collapse and soften, and the onions lose all sharpness, leaving just sweetness. You can slow cook onions in a sauté pan, or in a slow cooker. In a sauté pan, cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes with enough butter, olive oil, broth, or balsamic vinegar to prevent scorching. Stir frequently. In a slow cooker, add sliced onions & a little broth (half a cup if you’re using all the onions in this week’s box). Cover and cook on high for about 4 hours.


Winter Banana Apples
 
   This week’s apples are a curious variety. I’ve never seen them in the grocery store, but they are a lovely apple! I expect they are not often seen in the grocery store because they are quite prone to bruising. They have thin skins, and the texture is described as “dense”. This means they are wonderful for applesauce and apple pie, because they don’t release much water when cooked. I made a batch of applesauce this morning, and I thought it was fine to leave the peels on, but you might prefer to peel yours first for absolutely smooth texture.
    For applesauce: Rinse apples and remove core. Peel the skin, if you like. Then cut apple into smaller pieces. Place in a saucepan with ¼ cup water, and a dash of cinnamon. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to very low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Use a potato masher to create your preferred texture.

To exchange vacation credit vouchers for Storage Produce:
The following storage produce is currently available:
Yellow, Red, or Purple Potatoes (20#)
Sweet Onions (20#), Storage Onions (20#)
Red Onions (20#)
Carrots (15#), Beets (15#)
Seconds Peppers (10#)
Strawberries (1 flat)

Send an email to denisonfarms@peak.org by Sunday to place an order for storage produce to be delivered with your Harvest Box any week between now and November 22nd. (Vacation credits expire at Thanksgiving)
Additional items will become available as they are harvested. Soon, we’ll have sweet potatoes, persimmons, and butternut squash.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017:  Week 18
In this box: 1 lettuce, 1 bunch Basil, 2# tomatoes, 2 cucumbers, 1 leek, 1# Italian or Bell Peppers, 1 Delicata Squash, 6 ears Corn ~ I suggest opening the top far enough to peek at the tip of the ear. Trim any tips that have evidence of earworms. Our organic corn has not been sprayed with any pesticides, 1 basket Strawberries (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
 
 
Early Fall Produce
    This is the first Harvest Box of the season with leeks and winter squash. Fall is in the air! Leeks can be grown all year, but on our farm we plant them in the spring so they are large and ready in time for all the lovely soups & stews I like to cook in the cooler weather. Leeks are also nice steamed and topped with butter, salt & pepper, or Parmesan cheese; or sautéed in a little olive until quite soft, then served as a side dish.
    One of my favorite things about leeks is that they add body and flavor to soup. After cleaning your leek (see below), slice greens and white part thinly and add to any soup for a delicate flavor and extra body. About 10 years ago, there was a popular book titled “French Women Don’t Get Fat”. With a title like that, I had to read the book….. That’s where I found the recipe for making leek broth (called “Magical Leek Soup”, by author Mireille Guiliano), and the suggestion to cleanse the body with occasional weekend fasting on leek broth. Here’s the recipe: Clean one large leek. Slice into thin rings. Place in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes. For a weekend cleanse, drink a little broth frequently during the day, seasoned sparingly with salt & pepper, or lemon juice. I’m not a fan of “fasting”, but I’m happy to have discovered leek broth, as it makes an amazingly satisfying 1-ingredient soup, or a stock for a wide variety of soups, including vegetable soup, chicken soup, or bean soup.
       To Clean a Leek: Opinions vary, but I generally slice the leek lengthwise. Then I hold each half under running water to rinse any dirt from between the layers of leaves, paying particular attention to where the leaves turn from green to white, as that area tends to hold onto dirt. My husband just gives a quick rinse to the outside of the leek, then starts to slice rings off from the base upwards. When approaching the area where the leaves fan out and turn from white to green, he watches for any dirt between the layers, and rinses as needed. This quicker method leaves the bottom (white) part in complete rings, which gives a nice effect in a sautéed dish.
       Editorial note: Many recipes suggest using “only the white” portion of the leeks. I encourage use of the whole leek, as the green leaves are perfectly good to eat, unless you need the final dish to be absolutely white.   

Delicata Squash
    Delicata are the earliest winter squash to ripen. “Ripen” seems an odd term to use for winter squash, because they don’t get soft when ripe (as do so many summer fruits). Instead, winter squash are sweet when they are ripe. Winter squash need a long season to ripen. To prepare delicata, cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Then steam, bake, or stuff it. To steam squash: cut each half into “smiles”, and steam for 10 minutes. And the skin is edible!
       Winter Squash should NOT be refrigerated. Store on the counter, and it keeps for weeks!


Storage Produce
    Our crew has hard at work harvesting before the fall rains really set in1:45, and we’re grateful for these sunny days! Now that we’ve harvested our onions, carrots, winter squash, and potatoes, we offer Storage Produce in exchange for vacation credits. Here’s how to order: send me an email by Sunday to place an order for storage produce to be delivered with your Harvest Box any week between now and November 22nd. If you want to order storage produce, but don’t have any vacation credits, we can arrange payment. Each box is worth one vacation credit.
Yellow, Red, or Purple Potatoes (20#)
Sweet Onions (20#), Storage Onions (20#), Red Onions (20#)
Carrots (15#), Beets (15#)
Seconds Peppers (10#) – specify Italian or Bell peppers
Other items may be available in limited quantity. Let me know if you’re interested in something else.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017:  Week 17 (September 26) 

In this box: ½# Salad Mix, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 bunch Beets, 1# zucchini, 1 red onion, 2# red potatoes, 1 bunch Red Kale, 1box Thomcord grapes, 2# D’anjou pears (from Gala Springs Orchard) ~Let your pears ripen on the counter for a few days~ (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Cooked beets + vinaigrette dressing = Roasted Beet Salad
    I prefer my beets cooked in the oven, but you can just as easily steam them on the stove-top or in the microwave if it’s a hot day and you don’t want your oven on. I think beets are sweeter when roasted in the oven.
       Many recipesfor roasting beets suggest wrapping the beets in aluminum foil to keep them from drying out. However, I have also read that exposure to aluminum has been assiciated with Alzheimer’s Disease. For this reason, I avoid using aluminum foil if at all possible. I have determined there is nothing magic about aluminum foil. The key is to create a moist environment where the beets can steam in their own juices, rather than drying out. A healthier option is to use an oven-proof pot with a tight-fitting lid (like a Dutch oven). Scrub the beets if they seem dirty, but don’t peel them. If beets are small, put whole beets in your oven-proof pot. If they’re large, you can cut them in quarters first so they will cook faster. Add water to a depth of about ½ inch. Place pot in oven at 350 – 400 degrees (the specific temperature doesn’t really matter, they just take longer at lower temperature), and cook for at least 1 hour (smaller beets) or 1.5 hours (large whole beets), until tender when pierced with a knife. Once cooked, cool them so you can handle them, and slip the skins off. Slice into bite-sized cubes or discs. Now your roasted beets are ready for your favorite dressing. Any vinaigrette dressing works, but here are two specific recipes if you want inspiration:
Lemon vinaigrette: 2 Tbs. lemon juice, 6 Tbs. olive oil, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper. Whisk all ingredients together, or place everything in a jar with a tight lid and shake. Pour over beets, and taste to adjust seasonings. Add more lemon juice, salt, or pepper as desired. Nice with feta cheese.
Fruity vinaigrette: Whisk together 2 Tbs. raspberry vinegar, OR 2 Tbs. sherry vinegar, OR 1 Tbs. Balsamic vinegar, or 1-2 Tbs. any other sweet or fruity vinegar with ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper. Pour over beets, and marinate for 1 hour. Then taste to adjust seasonings. Add chopped basil if you have any from last week’s box.

Pears
       D’Anjou pears originated in the early 1800’s in Belgium, and account for about 30% of US pear production.  Oregon grows more D,Anjou’s than any other State. We don’t usually put D’Anjou pears in our boxes because they are primarily considered a storage pear—holding well in cold storage until the spring.  But our friends at Gala Springs Orchard had crop failures with their other varieties so we are going with D’Anjou’s this year.  Like most pears, D’Anjou’s need to be harvested immature, then ripened at room temperature. Today’s pears will likely need about a week to ripen on your counter before they are perfect.  More or less time is needed depending on how warm your house is, and your taste/texture preference. D’Anjou’s ripen from the inside out, and do not change color with ripeness, but will soften a little near the top when ripe. Press gently with your thumb near the stem, and when it feels slightly soft (like a ripe avocado), it will be ready. Your pears will become sweeter as they become softer—we think they will be just about perfect by the weekend. Of course, if you prefer very crisp pears, you can eat them sooner. I poached a pear today, and thought it was delicious on my breakfast oatmeal.
       We like to eat pears fresh, or cut into chunks in a curried chicken or tuna salad, or cooked. D’Anjou pears hold their shape when cooked, and are nice for poaching, pie, or crisp.

Thomcord grapes are the result of crossing Concord (the famous flavor of Welches grape juice) and Thompson Seedless, the common green grocery store grape.  This cross was made at UC Davis by a student researching the genetics of seedless grapes.  It was not intended to be a commercial success, but caught on at farmers markets, and is now showing up in the wholesale distribution system. We like them because they taste good and they
are very resistant to disease, so they grow well with our organic, no pesticides philosophy.  Dark skinned grapes like Thomcord offer numerous cardiovascular and immune boosting health benefits because of their high levels of anthocyanins and resveratrol. Officially a seedless grape, you may find occasional small seeds in some.
Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017:  Week 17
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017:  Week 16

In this box: Note: I am off the farm this week, so the newsletter was written on Sunday….We may have made some last-minute changes to the box plan after this list was printed. This was our “hopeful” list as of Sunday afternoon. 1 head Lettuce, 1 bunch Spinach, 1 Cucumber, 2# Tomatoes, 1 Red Onion, 1# Romano beans, 6 jalapeno peppers, 1 bskt Strawberries, 1 bunch Interlaken Grapes (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Small batch strawberry jam   
       I make a lot of small batches of fruit spreads. Technically, they aren’t “jam” because I don’t add sugar or pectin, but the effect is the same, and my kids have never complained. Here’s my basic recipe for a batch of strawberry fruit spread from 1 basket of berries: Remove the hulls from 1 pint of strawberries, and cut berries in half or quarters. Place berries in a saucepan with ¼ cup of water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, cover, and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Then crush everything well with a potato masher. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, and taste. Add sweetener if you want (though it may not be necessary). Then dissolve 2 Tbs. cornstarch in ½ cup of cold water. Add HALF of the cornstarch mixture to the hot crushed berries, while the pot is still on the stove. Stir until the cloudiness disappears, and decide if it is thick enough for spreading on pancakes or toast. It will thicken some more as it cools. Add more of the cornstarch & water if it seems too thin. Then cool, and store in the refrigerator. Use within a week.

Jalapenos: WARNING: The juice of hot peppers is very irritating to eyes & tender skin. Be careful what you touch after handling them, or wear rubber gloves.
       I’m not a huge fan of hot peppers, so a little jalapeno goes a long way in my kitchen. But I love to have roasted jalapenos in the freezer to use a little bit at a time throughout the year. You can roast jalapenos just like any other pepper (see last week’s newsletter) or (because jalapenos are small, and uniformly-shaped), you can cut them in half first, remove the skins, then char under your broiler in the oven. I suggest donning rubber gloves first before handling jalapenos, to keep the irritating juice off your skin. Then cut jalapenos in half, take out the seeds with a knife or spoon, and place pepper halves skin-side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Char them under the broiler. When cool, put on gloves again, remove skins, and seal in a freezer container, label them. Store in the freezer.

Here’s a great appetizer idea to use this week’s batch of jalapenos:
Jalapeno Poppers
1. Vegetarian version: Slice Jalapenos in half the long way. Wearing gloves, remove the seeds with a spoon, so what remains looks like a little boat.  Fill with a mixture of refried beans and cream cheese (approx. equal proportions).  Top with a slice of sharp cheddar and place in a 350-degree oven for 20 – 30 minutes. If the cheese is not yet bubbly, turn on the broiler until the cheese browns and melts a bit.  Serve warm for an exciting snack or appetizer.
2. Definitely Not Vegetarian: Follow recipe as above, filling jalapeno halves with refried beans or mashed potatoes. Wrap half a slice of bacon over the top of the filled peppers, and secure with a toothpick. Place on a wire rack above a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees until the bacon is crispy, 30 – 40 minutes.
3. Savory & Sweet version: Slice jalapenos in half & scoop out the seeds as above. Then drizzle half a spoonful of maple syrup in each pepper half, fill with cream cheese (or Neufchatel cheese for a lower-fat version). Cut a strip of bacon in half, wrap around each piece of filled pepper, and secure with a toothpick. Place on a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet to allow bacon to crisp on all sides. Bake at 375 degrees until bacon is crisp on all sides (30 – 40 minutes depending on the thickness of your bacon and size of the peppers).

Green Beans with Red Onion and Mustard Seed Vinaigrette—this is an all-time favorite recipe of mine for the Romano beans. The recipe can be found in this year’s newsletters, week 7, or on our recipe blog (find it from our home page at www.denisonfarms.com, then choose “Romano Beans”)
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017:  Week 15

In this box: ½# Spinach, 1 Cucumber, 1 bunch Basil, 1 ½# Sweet Girl Tomatoes, 1 bunch Chard, 1 bskt Strawberries, 6 Poblano peppers, 1 bunch Canadice Grapes, 2# Gala Apples (from Gala Springs Orchard) (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

On the farm this week
       Spinach and chard are back! You may have noticed a lack of lettuce, spinach, and other “greens” this past month. That’s one of the aspects of eating what’s in season that may not be immediately obvious, and we know some of you have been missing the greens. Turns out that greens are difficult to grow in the heat of summer….. spinach seeds won’t germinate, kale gets tough and bitter, and lettuces are hard to keep from bolting in the heat. As the season turns toward fall, you should see more of the greens that are happier now that the weather is cooler.

Apples from Gala Springs Orchard
    Tom has become friends with Martin & Denise at Gala Springs Orchard because both our farms are vendors at the Beaverton Farmers Market. Tom goes to that market every Saturday from May through November. Martin & Denise grow many different varieties of apples and pears at their orchard in Boardman. For a number of years, we have collaborated with them to bring you apples and pears because we don’t have enough of those crops on our farm to serve all our members. Gala apples are one of the earliest apples to ripen. They are sweet, and make a great fresh eating apple (or fruit salad). They aren’t a great storage apple, however, so I suggest keeping them in the refrigerator, and planning to eat them up within the next few weeks. Through the rest of the season, you will see a number of other varieties of apples, and also some pears from Martin & Denise at Gala Springs.

Poblano Peppers
    Poblanos are relatively mild, as chile peppers go, but they generally have some level of heat. In my kitchen, I like to roast poblanos, then make salsa in the food processor with tomatoes, onion, garlic, and cilantro. Another favorite dish in our house is to add roasted poblanos to refried beans. One of our Harvest Box members (thanks Melinda!) suggested making rajas. I found many mouthwatering ideas online, but haven’t had time to try any of them yet. I suggest checking the Internet if you need some recipe ideas.

Roasting peppers: Roasting enhances the flavor, and also makes it easy to remove the skin. After roasting, and removing skin & seeds, you can freeze peppers for recipes throughout the winter. If you’re short on time, peppers can be frozen without blanching or roasting. For freezing, I remove the seeds first, then freeze in zip-top bags.
       Roasting can be done on the grill, or under the broiler. The basic concept is to char the skin, as evenly and thoroughly as possible (given the peppers’ irregular shapes). While the skin is charring, the flesh of the pepper softens and the flavor takes on some delicious qualities not present in raw peppers.
On the grill: Preheat grill, all burners, on high. Place peppers directly on the grill, turning approx. every 2 minutes to char all sides. After turning 3 or 4 times (6 – 8 minutes total time), either turn off the grill, close the lid, and let peppers rest for 10 minutes, or remove peppers with tongs and place in a paper bag. Close the bag to let the peppers steam a bit in residual heat. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skin, and remove seeds.
Under the broiler (electric ovens): Rinse peppers and place on a baking sheet with edges to catch the juices. Broil peppers until the skin bubbles up and starts to char, turning to char all sides. Keep your eye on the peppers while broiling to catch them when slightly browned on each side. If the peppers are really odd-shaped, don’t worry about evenly charring all surfaces, as long as the pepper is well-cooked overall. You can tell they’re done when they are softened, and “slump” on the pan. Turn off the oven and close the door, and let them rest for 10 minutes, or remove from oven and place in paper bag as above. When cool enough to handle, peel and remove the seeds.
Over the broiler (in a gas oven): I don’t have personal experience with gas ovens. However, my sources recommend following the directions above for “under the broiler”, with the addition of a layer of foil under the broiler to keep any dripping juices from burning on the floor of your oven.

Missing items? We have heard from some of you that occasionally the items in your box don’t match the “list” in the newsletter. We apologize for any errors. If you notice something missing from your box, please let me know. We will try to find a way to replace the missing item, by having you pick it up at the Farmers Market, or by sending it to you the following week. We did ask our packing crew to be extra attentive this week. We hope that helps!
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017:  Week 14
                Thank you for choosing to be part of our farm!

In this box: ½# Salad Mix, 1 Cucumber, 6 ears Corn, 1 bunch Celery, 1 Onion, 1# Zucchini, 1 box Red Grape Tomatoes, 1 bunch Canadice Grapes, 2# Gala Apples (from Gala Springs Orchard)  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

On the farm this week—it’s Late Summer
       This morning, I saw my first geese of the season fly over the farm. Soon there will be hundreds of geese in the wetland below our farm, arriving from the north to spend the winter in the Willamette Valley. This morning there were less than 20. Two small chevrons honking as they passed overhead.
    Yesterday I watched a scrub jay try to bury a hazelnut in the dry ground behind my office window.
    The animals sense the seasons changing, and even though it’s still dry and HOT, we know that fall is coming. I grew up in a culture that recognizes 4 season—spring, summer, fall, and winter. However, there are some cultures whose calendars recognize 5 seasons, including an official “Late Summer” season between summer and fall. I imagine we’re in that season now. Many of you are sending kids to school this week, but that’s rather an arbitrary choice of date. Here are some other signs of “late summer” on the farm: It’s time to harvest the fruits and vegetables that take a long time to mature. Apple & pear harvest is beginning. Grapes hang heavy on the vines. We’re starting to harvest winter squash & sweet potatoes. They need to cure for a few weeks before we’ll put them in your box. Before the fall rains start, the rest of our potatoes will be dug and put into dry storage for the winter. On other farms in the Willamette Valley, nuts and grains are just about ready to harvest. Many of these “late summer” fruits and vegetables last a long time in storage. Which brings me to the next topic—Storage produce.

Storage Produce—time to order peppers for your freezer!
    Many of you have received vacation credits for missed boxes. Some of you have used your credits at the farmers market, but if you haven’t been able to get to the Farmers Market, you can now place orders for storage produce to be delivered with your Harvest Box. Starting next week, you can order a 10-pound box of “seconds” peppers for roasting or freezing. If you don’t have any vacation credits to use, you can still order a box of peppers, for $20.
    To order: send me an email (denisonfarms@peak.org) and let me know what date you want them. Our phone has been somewhat unreliable, so email is really the best way to communicate.
    Soon, we’ll have winter squash, sweet potatoes, storage onions, potatoes, and other items available. Watch the newsletter for updates, or send me an email if there’s something in particular you need.

Grapes
    You may have noticed that the grapes in your box last week and this week are not like the grapes you usually find in the grocery store. They are smaller and more intensely flavored than the common red flame or Thompson seedless grapes. Virtually all of the grapes in the stores are grown in California, Mexico, or Chile, and almost all of them are some variety of Vitus vinifera which is native to Western Asia, and the Middle East.  Many fantastic grapes belong to the species V. vinifera, like Thompson seedless, and Pinot Noir, but this species is susceptible to many diseases in our climate, so they are usually sprayed regularly with fungicides.  Vitus labrusca is the primary grape species native to North America.  The most famous example of which is the concord grape, which resists disease, and is popular for juice and jelly, but has some limitations as a table grape because of its seeds and texture. The grapes in your box this week and last are Canadice which is a cross between the vinifera, and labrusca.  Bred in Geneva NY, it is disease resistant enough for us to grow without spraying, and it’s also seedless, and has a nice texture and flavor for a table grape.  Most of the other grapes we grow like Interlaken, Thomcord, and Jupiter are also disease resistant crosses of the two species.  Most of our grapes are also smaller than typical store grapes because we do not treat them with gibberellic acid (a plant hormone) to make them larger.  Almost all commercially produced grapes and cherries in the stores have been treated with gibberellic acid creating larger, crisper fruit.  We think smaller grapes taste better, and we don’t use hormones to “pump them up.”

?Fun fact?
     The Consumers Expenditures Report states that the “average” US consumer unit (a 2.5 person household) spent $1124/year on cell phone service, and $542/year on fresh produce in 2016.
     I’m not sure if that’s remarkable, or just sad. Sure makes us appreciate you, our members, for your commitment to healthy eating!
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017:  Week 13 (the last week of August)
Thank you for choosing to be part of our farm!

In this box: 1 Cucumber, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 bunch Salad Turnips, 6 ears Corn, Nardelo or Poblano Peppers, 2# Jaqueline Lee Potatoes, 1 bunch Canadice Grapes, 1 Cantaloupe (from Groundwork Organics), ¼# Fresh Ginger! (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Nardelo or Poblano Peppers
   We had hoped to have enough Jimmy Nardelo peppers for everyone this week, but the pepper plants didn’t cooperate with that plan. So our Salem & Albany members will get Nardelo Peppers this week, and Corvallis boxes will have Poblano peppers. We’re hoping to give the opposite next week.
   Nardelo peppers are an heirloom variety of sweet Italian peppers. Supposedly, the seeds of this pepper were brought to the US when Giuseppe Nardelo (Jimmy’s father) emigrated from Italy 130 years ago. They are a classic Italian frying pepper, and are wonderful in a saute.
   Poblano peppers are generally mild, but sometimes hot. When they are dried, they are called Ancho chiles. Poblanos can be used like any “green” peppers, as long as you are aware that they might be spicy. If you prefer your peppers on the mild side, it’s good to know that most of the heat is in the seeds and the membranes that attach the seeds to the flesh. Poblanos are delicious when roasted (on the grill or in the oven), and then added to a salsa or stirred into refried beans. After roasting, the skin is generally removed.

Fresh Young Ginger!
   Ginger is a tropical plant, and it’s not commonly grown in our temperate climate. However, Tom is always looking for things that not everyone grows, so we thought we would give it a try. Fresh young ginger is different from most of the ginger you see in the grocery stores (which is more “mature”). The young ginger has less of the stringy bits than mature ginger. As we let the plants mature into autumn, the roots will develop the same fibers. Young ginger is used to make candied ginger, and the pickled ginger that is served with sushi. It is also great chopped or grated and used for ginger tea (I’ll have some at the farm party!), or minced and used in a stir-fry as you would use mature ginger—it just lacks the stringy bits, so you can eat the minced pieces. Here’s a quick recipe for fresh ginger. There are a number of other recipes on our Recipe Blog (on our web site).
    Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce   
    ½ cup soy sauce
    ¼ cup rice vinegar or rice wine
    1 tsp. sesame oil (use red pepper sesame oil for a hot pepper kick)
    2 Tbs. finely minced fresh ginger
    1 Tbs. chopped green onion (optional)
Add all ingredients to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well. Serve as a dipping sauce for tempura, dumplings, spring rolls, or pot stickers. Or pour over sautéed turnips, adding a little cornstarch if you want a thicker sauce.

Carrots & Turnips
   Here’s a fun fact I recently heard about carrots—they taste sweeter if you grate them! Grating breaks cell walls, and releases sugars from the cells. I have been enjoying grated carrots on my salads, rolled with rice & cucumber in a sheet of nori for sushi, and mixed into hummus.
   Turnips and other members of the broccoli/cabbage family, on the other hand, taste sweetest uncut, or immediately after being cut. Plants in this family contain compounds in their cells that turn bitter on exposure to air.

Farm Party, Sunday September 3rd, from 3-6 pm
   This Sunday is your opportunity to “meet your farmer” as Tom leads our annual farm tour at 3pm, Sept 3.
The farm tour starts at 3 pm, with a potluck dinner to follow around 5 pm.
Please bring comfortable walking shoes and perhaps a shade hat for the tour, and bring your own lawn chairs or a blanket to sit on if you plan to stay for dinner.
   I will have plenty of (gluten-free, vegan-friendly) food, so don’t stress about a potluck dish if you run out of time. The “potluck” format just avoids the necessity of RSVP.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017:  Week 12 (August 22 & 23)
               
In this box: 1 cucumber, 1 Celery, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 bunch Salad Turnips, 1 Onion, 1# Italian Peppers, 1 bu Italian Parsley, 2# Yellow Potatoes, 1# Summer Squash (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Sweet Italian Peppers
       Sweet Italian peppers are good raw or cooked (any way you would cook bell peppers), however Italian peppers are slightly less juicy than bell peppers. This makes them an excellent choice for cooking—as there is less juice to dilute the flavor of your stir-fry. Although some Italian peppers may look like hot peppers, they are sweet—and get even sweeter when they are sautéed!
       Tom first saw sweet Italian peppers in the late 1970’s when he was a student at Cornell University in upstate New York. He worked for a farmer while going to college, and sold vegetables at the farmers markets in Syracuse and Ithaca, NY.  
       There are many Americans of Italian heritage in Upstate New York, and every time Tom went to a farm sale or auction there would be someone slicing these peppers into rings, sautéing them in olive oil with onions or garlic and serving them on good crusty Italian bread with cheese or sausage. We eat plenty of Italian peppers raw, and they are one of our favorites for dipping hummus, but Tom still likes them best sautéed ‘til they are almost scorched.
 
Salad Turnips may be new to some of you. They aren’t terribly common, and are rarely available at grocery stores. They are a completely different vegetable from the “storage” turnips that are often large and strongly-flavored. Salad turnips are best uncooked, as their name implies. They are sweet and juicy, with a slight hint of stronger flavor in the skin. If you want only the sweetest bit, peel the thin skin off with a sharp knife. Salad turnips can also be cooked. They cook quickly. If you are going to cook them, they don’t need to be peeled. In addition, the turnip greens are edible. The greens on today’s turnips may be full of little holes, compliments of the ubiquitous “flea beetle”, but the beetles are long gone, leaving only the shotgun-looking holes in the leaves. One of my favorite ways to cook salad turnips is to trim the leaves off, then cut the roots into slices or chunks. Saute the roots in olive oil for about 4 minutes, then add the chopped greens to the saute pan. Continue to stir-fry until the greens are wilted (add a little water if things start to stick), then season with a splash of soy sauce and/or vinegar before serving.

Kim’s Excellent Parsley Salad (I didn’t make up the name… it’s in the cookbook from Asparagus to Zucchini)
Ingredients: fresh parsley, thinly sliced onion, chopped hard boiled eggs, cooked chickpeas or other beans, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt & pepper.
Instructions: Clean and cut up lots of parsley, as much as you would clean for lettuce in a salad. Combine with sliced onions, eggs, chickpeas or beans. Shake oil and lemon juice together (2 parts oil to 1 part lemon juice). Toss salad with dressing, salt, and lots of pepper. Makes any number of servings.

Farm Party, Sunday September 3rd , from 3-6 pm
       Now that the excitement of the Eclipse is over, it’s time to move on to the next Big Event on the farm….
Our annual Farm Party will be Sunday of Labor Day weekend, Sept 3rd from 3 – 6pm.
Tom will lead the  farm tour starting at 3 pm, with a potluck dinner to follow around 5pm.
The farm tour is different every year, but usually involves sampling whatever fruits are ripe, and you get to ask as many questions as you like! It’s your opportunity to “meet the farmer”.
This is a family-friendly event. There will be snacks and cool beverages in the shade so you can take a break when you (or your children) have had enough “touring”.
Please bring comfortable walking shoes and perhaps a shade hat for the tour, and bring your own lawn chairs or a blanket to sit on if you plan to stay for dinner.
I will have plenty of (gluten-free, vegan-friendly) food, so don’t stress about a potluck dish if you run out of time. The “potluck” format just avoids the necessity of RSVP :).
Plan to spend Sunday afternoon, Sept 3, at the farm. Farm tour at 3, potluck to follow. We hope you can come!


Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017: Week 11 (August 15)

In this box:
2 cucumbers, 1 bunch radish, 6 ears corn, 1 bunch basil, 1 garlic, 1# Romano beans, Several Zucchini, 2 eggplants (from Groundwork Organics), 5 or 6 mini bell peppers (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!


Solar Eclipse: Aug 21
We plan to follow our regular schedule next week, delivering boxes as scheduled Tuesday, August 22nd (Tuesday boxes). We plan to be “on time”, but please bear with us if the roads are really as plugged up as some are predicting.

Eggplant
    We are growing only one short row of eggplant this year, and we haven’t been able to harvest sufficient quantity for all our Harvest Boxes, so we asked our friends Gabe & Sophie if they could supply eggplant for you. They have plenty, so this week’s box has 2 eggplants! That should be enough for a recipe of baba ganouj, or ratatouille, or whatever family favorite recipe you have for eggplant.
    Here are a couple of ideas from my recipe box:
Classic Caponata (from epicurious.com)
1 large or 2 small eggplant, diced in ½ inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped,
14-oz can diced tomatoes (editorial note: or use fresh tomatoes!)
3 Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 Tbs. drained capers
1/3 cup chopped basil
Toasted pine nuts
Preparation: Heat oil in heavy, large pot over medium heat. Add eggplants, onion, and garlic cloves. Saute until eggplant is soft and brown, about 15 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and their juices, red wine vinegar, and drained capers. Cover and simmer until eggplant and onion are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Season caponata to taste with salt & pepper. Mix in fresh basil. Transfer caponata to serving bowl. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts. Serve warm, or room temperature, or cold.

       Ratatouille is an incredibly variable “recipe” that nearly always includes eggplant. The exact ingredients vary tremendously from recipe to recipe, and it can be cooked on the stovetop, or in the oven. Here’s Tom’s favorite version of ratatouille casserole. The quantities of ingredients are flexible. Just use what you have. Start with a deep casserole dish or dutch oven with a lid. Pour a bit of olive oil in the bottom of the pan (about 1 Tbs). Add layers of sliced vegetables, starting with sliced eggplant, then sliced onions, then summer squash, then sliced bell peppers. Sprinkle with a handful of chopped basil, then add sliced tomatoes. Saute some cloves of garlic in olive oil, and drizzle the garlic oil over the top of everything. You can add a layer of mozzerella cheese on top, if you want. Cover with a lid, and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for an additional 15 - 30 minutes until everything is tender and some of the moisture has evaporated. (Cooking time could be less if you have a shallow casserole. I made mine in a deep dutch oven). Serve with thick slices of crusty bread to soak up the juices.

Sweet Corn
Earworm alert: Since we don’t use any pesticides on our farm, there may be some earworms in the corn. The Willamette Valley is home to a moth that likes to lay its eggs in the silk at the top of young ears of corn. After hatching, the larva slowly eats it’s way down from the tip. We try not to pick ears that are hosting these larvae, but a few may have escaped our notice. Fortunately, the larva start at the top of the ear, and take a long time to eat very far. I suggest peeking at the top of the ear, and if there’s anything there you don’t want to eat, slice off the tip. The rest of the ear should be untouched.
       Do you ever have trouble getting your sweet corn cooked perfectly? Here’s a suggestion I found recently: Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Drop 6 husked ears into the boiling water, and immediately turn off the heat. Wait 10 minutes, then serve.
       We also like to cook corn on the grill: Check each ear for any earworms at the tip. If present, cut off the tips. Then place unhusked corn directly on the grill, over medium heat, for 25 minutes, turning the ears over halfway through.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017:  Week 10 (August 8)
           
In this box: 1 Romaine lettuce, 2 Cucumbers, 5 “snack” peppers, 1# Romano Beans, 1 bunch Radish, 1 bskt Grape Tomatoes, 1 sweet Red Onion, 1 bskt Blackberries, 1 bskt. Strawberries—remember to put berries into the fridge ASAP (weights are approx.)  Everything is Organic!
 

Solar Eclipse on Aug 21
      We plan to follow our regular schedule the week of the Solar Eclipse, delivering boxes as usual on Tuesday, August 22nd (Tuesday boxes) & 23rd (Weds boxes). However, there’s quite a bit of excitement in Corvallis around the eclipse, and some people are predicting complete traffic gridlock in Benton, Linn, and Polk counties for days before and after August 21st. If our crew can’t get to work, or if our trucks can’t get to your pick-up site, we will notify you of any changes by email (unless there’s no electricity….). We are hoping things go smoothly that week, but we’re also stockpiling extra drinking water, just in case.
      
Radishes
    Though I grew up thinking of radishes as a raw vegetable to put in a salad or to slice for dipping in hummus or ranch dressing, I now prefer my radishes cooked. When cooked, radishes become a completely different vegetable…. They lose their spicy hotness, but maintain a firm texture. Radish roots (sliced or quartered) are great in a stir-fry.

Snack Peppers
    Fashions come and go, in fruits & vegetables as well as other consumer goods (clothing, cars, etc.). This week’s “snack peppers” are a good example. Perhaps I’m dating myself, but I remember when green bells were the only pepper that you could find in the grocery stores. Then in the 1980’s red bell peppers started to become more common, followed by other colors of ripe bell peppers. In order to keep up with consumer desires for “the next best thing”, plant breeders continually develop new varieties—some of which catch on and become very popular. Recently, pepper breeders have brought “snack” peppers into the market. These small, sweet peppers lie somewhere on the spectrum between bell peppers (large, juicy, sweet), and Italian peppers (longer, less juicy, but still sweet). Snack peppers are part of the growing trend in the grocery world for ready-to-eat, grab-and-go foods to satisfy the current trend away from food preparation and family meals. We prefer to support the value of cooking and sharing meals at home, but we don’t mind using some of the newer varieties that have been developed with convenience in mind—if they meet our standards for excellent flavor.
    This year, we are growing a number of varieties of these “snack peppers”. Good for stuffing with goat cheese, adding to a salad, taking on a picnic, or just munching out of hand as you rush out the door. We hope you enjoy them!

Strawberries
    It’s time to resurrect my favorite dipping sauce for strawberries. This dip recipe originally came from Jan Roberts-Dominguez’s column in the Corvallis Gazette Times at least 10 years ago, but bears repeating because it’s delicious! Combine 1 cup sour cream with ¼ cup packed brown sugar. Mix well and let stand for 10 minutes. Dip individual berries, and enjoy! This would probably be good with blackberries as well, though I haven’t tried it (yet).

Farm Party  Sunday, Sept. 3, from 3 – 6 pm

    I hope you’ve marked your calendar with our Farm Party on Sunday afternoon, September 3rd.
We start the afternoon at 3pm with a farm tour (bring sunhats and walking shoes), followed by a potluck meal in our shaded front yard.
     We will provide strawberry lemonade, and a couple of gluten-free vegetarian dishes featuring farm produce.
You are invited to come at any time between 3 & 6, but come on time if you want to get the full farm tour!
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017:  Week 9 (August 1)

In this box: 1 cucumber, 1 bunch green Shallots, 1.5# Summer squash, 2# Red Potatoes, 4 yellow bell peppers, 1 ½# Roma Tomatoes, 1 bskt Blackberries, 1 bskt. Strawberries—remember to put berries into the fridge ASAP  (weights are approx.)  Everything is Organic!

Keep your cool
 
      When we look back on this summer, we may remember this week as the Week of the Heat Wave. Forecasts are frankly frightening, and we’re doing the best we can to keep our crew safe and your produce in good condition. We were able to pick everything as planned for this week’s box because the heat wave isn’t expected to be dangerous until this afternoon or tomorrow, but the rest of this week could be very interesting. We’ve encouraged our crew to find work in the shade, or to go home when it gets too hot. There may be some crops that just don’t get harvested this week because it may be too hot to work. We’re grateful that we sprayed mud on our hoop houses a month ago during the last hot spell. The mud creates shade, so it’s cooler inside the hoop houses than without the mud. But it still gets pretty darned hot! So we harvest in the early morning, and our irrigation team is keeping busy around the clock!
       We expect most crops to survive, but sometimes extreme temperatures can cause stress (to plants as well as people), and this could give us some challenges in a few weeks. When plants are stressed (from too much heat, or poor nutrition, or too little water), they are more susceptible to diseases and insect pests. The same could perhaps be said for people. You are probably healthier than most, by choosing a weekly local, organic produce box, and by bucking the trend and actually preparing meals at home. Home-cooked meals are becoming more and more rare in our culture, as fast food and prepared meals from the grocery store become common. We are grateful for your healthy choices!

      
Shallots—the gourmet cousin of the onion family
    Shallots are very closely related to onions. They can be used interchangeably in most any recipe, as long as you recognize that shallots tend to be more pungent when raw. The “hot” quality of onions (& shallots & raw garlic) comes from specific sulphur-containing molecules in the cells of plants in the onion family. When you cut an onion or shallot, this sulphur-containing molecule is released from the cut cells, and turns into sulfuric acid when it comes in contact with the water in your eyes. “Sweet onions” and leeks have lower levels of these pungent molecules, so they don’t tend to make your eyes water. However, “cooking onions”, shallots, and garlic have higher levels. This pungent eye-watering quality of raw onions & shallots is mellowed by cooking. Once you remove the hot, eye-stinging quality, you may be surprised at the sweetness. Shallots in particular are very sweet when cooked, and the longer you cook them, the sweeter they become!
   
Ripe Peppers
    All ripe peppers start out life as green peppers. Here, “green” refers to not only the color, but also to their immaturity. If left on the plant long enough, green peppers will mature into “ripe” peppers, which can be red, orange, yellow. Ripe peppers have many times more vitamin C and A than green peppers. You may have noticed that ripe peppers are quite a bit more expensive than green peppers. This is because it takes so much longer to grow peppers to maturity than to pick them green.

Recipes for the week   
    Given the heat this week, maybe it’s a good time to fire up the barbecue! Grilled zucchini, shallots, and peppers would make a nice combination. With a little potato salad on the side….. I’d call that dinner!

Please return tubs!
About this time every year, I put a little reminder in the newsletter to please return all your empty tubs. We have a dwindling supply on the farm, and we need to keep all tubs in circulation. Thanks!

Farm Party will be Sunday, Sept. 3
You are invited for a farm tour, followed by a potluck dinner from 3 – 6 pm. I will send more details as the date draws nearer.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017:  Week 8 (July 25)

In this box: 1 Lettuce, 1 bu basil, 1 head garlic, 1 cucumber, 1 bunch Carrots or Beets, 2# Yellow potatoes, 1 sweet spring onion, 1 box grape tomatoes, 1 bskt Beauty plums, 1 bskt. Strawberries—remember to put berries into the fridge ASAP
 (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

 
On the farm this week
       Sweet onions and cucumbers are back! We had a few weeks with a shortage of sweet onions on the farm, but things grow quickly this time of year, and our spring-planted sweet onions have sized-up. Our corn is in the tassel stage, so that means there will be sweet corn in a few weeks. And our Beauty plums are ripe!
    We have a small plum orchard (about 25 trees), that Tom planted about 25 years ago, shortly after he bought our farm. He planted a few trees each of a number of different varieties. We never know which ones will bear fruit in any year, because plums bloom so early in the spring that the flowers are sometimes killed by frost, or (like this year), March weather is so cold and rainy that we don’t get good pollination because honeybees don’t like to fly in the rain.
    This year, our Beauty plum trees are producing a good crop. Beauty plums get so juicy that it’s impossible to transport them when fully ripe. We pick them when still firm so they don’t burst on the way to your kitchen. They will continue to ripen and become sweeter if you leave them on your kitchen counter for a few days.
    If you wait until these Beauty plums are soft, and you like to eat them “out of hand”, use caution. Beautys are SO juicy, they have been known to make a mess of a nice shirt.
    Like many fruits, plums have both sweet and tart flavors. The balance between sweet and tart shifts as the fruits ripen—becoming less tart as they get riper. Cooking also brings out the sweetness, and mellows the tartness. There are lots of recipes for cooking plums on the internet (in jam, tarts, savory curries, and more), so search there if you don’t eat them all first!

Grape tomatoes
       Unlike Beauty plums, grape tomatoes make great lunchbox or picnic fare. Grape tomatoes have excellent shelf life, and can be fully ripe and sweet without becoming mushy. This quality of firmness also makes them easy to slice for pasta salads. Here are a couple of my favorite recipes using the bounty from today’s box:
Pasta with Herbed Goat Cheese and Cherry Tomatoes (from Cooking Light magazine, July 2002)
12 oz. uncooked angel hair pasta               
6 Tbs. (3 oz.) garlic & herb-flavored goat cheese (at room temp)
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil                   
¼ tsp salt                           
¼ tsp black pepper
1 Tbs olive oil
1½ tsp. minced garlic
1 basket grape tomatoes, halved
2/3 cup chicken or vegetable broth
    Cook pasta according to the package directions. While pasta cooks, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add broth and cook 1 minute.
       Drain pasta & return to pot. Add goat cheese, basil, salt, and pepper to pasta. Stir until well blended. Add tomato mixture to pasta/cheese/basil pot. Toss gently to combine. Serves 4.


And my favorite “10 minute/1 pot meal”, Summer Pasta Salad with Basil: Cook 1 pound pasta in boiling, salted water. While pasta cooks, slice 1 bunch of fresh basil into thin ribbons, and cut 1 pint of grape tomatoes in half. Drain pasta and return to pot. Gently stir in ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, chopped basil, and halved grape tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Membership payment due
   If you paid the first half of your membership fee at the beginning of the season, your second payment ($295) is due August 1st. Please mail your check to the farm.
   Many of you have already sent in your second payment. Thank you. Your timely payment saves us postage. Reminder notices will be mailed after August 1st to those who have not yet paid.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017:  Week 7 (July 18)


In this box:
1 Lettuce, 1 bunch Carrots, 2# All Blue potatoes, Zucchini/pattypan squash, 1# Romano Beans, 1 red onion, 1 bunch Italian Kale, 1½# Sweet Girl tomatoes, 1 bskt. Strawberries—remember to put berries into the fridge ASAP

 (weights are approx.)Everything is Organic!

Membership payments due Aug 1st.
If you paid the first half of your membership fee when you signed up, your second payment is due August 1st.
Thanks!
 
Farm Party Sunday, September 3, from 3 – 6 pm
All Harvest Box members are invited for a farm tour, followed by a potluck dinner. I will send more details as the date draws nearer. We hope you can come!
 
On the farm this week
       Strawberries are back!! It’s been a strange weather year (aren’t they all?). We do grow a lot of strawberries, but this is the first week we’ve been able to offer them to our Harvest Box members. We had a heavy harvest of strawberries in May, then the plants needed a rest for the month of June. Now they’re back, and it’s Strawberry season again!
    Our Romano beans have been going strong for several weeks now. However, we are nearing the end of our Romano bean season, so we’re offering them to you one more time this week. These might be the last Romano beans for a while.
    And we had a few weeks with nary an onion to be had. Fortunately, things grow quickly this time of year, so we can offer a red onion this week. Just in time, because one of my favorite recipes for Romano beans needs a red onion. Try this recipe if you need an idea for using this week’s Romano beans:

   
Romano Beans and Red Onion with Mustard Seed Vinaigrette
       (slightly modified from Gourmet, August 2001)
Ingredients:
4 Tbs. olive oil, divided
2 Tbs. mustard seeds (any color)
½ large red onion, thinly sliced
1 pound green Romano beans, trimmed and snapped into bite-sized pieces.
1/3 cup red-wine vinegar (you can use any other mild-flavored vinegar if you don’t
have red wine vinegar on hand. I don’t recommend Balsamic vinegar—it’s a little too strongly-flavored)
Instructions:
1. Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in a heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Cook 2 Tbs. mustard seeds, stirring, until they pop and are 1 shade darker, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
2. Add 3 Tbs. olive oil to hot skillet, then sauté ½  sweet onion, until golden brown (8-10 minutes). Remove from heat, and combine onions with mustard seeds in large bowl. Add 1/3 cup red-wine vinegar to bowl with onions and mustard seeds.
3. Have ready a large bowl of ice and cold water. Cook 1 lb. Romano beans in a pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender (about 5 minutes). Drain and plunge into ice water, then drain well.
4. Toss beans with onion & mustard seed vinaigrette. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill 12-24 hours. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Serves 8.

Purple Potatoes received a lot of attention a few weeks ago. All I want to add here is to tell you I’ve been baking these purple potatoes recently, and find they are a wonderful snack. My son has been taking them (already baked) on hiking trips as a nutritious snack.

Sweet Girl Tomatoes are great for salads, or for any dish that requires sliced or diced tomatoes. They have firm texture, which makes them easy to slice. Remember to store tomatoes on your kitchen counter. Refrigerator temperatures will cause them to taste bland.

Italian Kale goes by many names …. Lacinata Kale (referring to the botanical name), Black Kale (refers to the dark green color of the leaves), and Dinosaur Kale (Perhaps referring to the texture of the leaves and some theory about the texture of dinosaur skin??). Whatever the name, this variety of kale has become very popular in recent years. Many recipes specifically call for Italian Kale (or any of its other names). In my experience, ALL varieties of kale are interchangeable in recipes, but Italian Kale is easier to work with because it’s less likely to jump off your cutting board when you chop it. In fact, it’s easy to make neat ribbons by rolling the leaves, and slice finely on the diagonal. This is called chiffonade. There are some interesting youtube videos of making chiffonade, if you have the time…..
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017:  Week 6 (July 11)
In this box: 1 bunch Basil, 1 bunch Parsley, 1 bskt Cherry Tomatoes, Several summer squash, 1 head Garlic, 1 bu Radishes, 1# Romano Beans, 1 bskt. Black Currants, 1 bskt. Raspberries—remember to put berries into the fridge ASAP  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

BASIL
    Check our recipe blog (get there from our home page at www.denisonfarms.com) for lots of recipes for basil—including Basic Pesto; Sautéed Zucchini, Basil, Cherry tomatoes, and Olives; and Pasta Salad with Basil.

Italian Parsley
    Need ideas for using your bunch of Italian Parsley? Parsley is an important ingredient in any number of dishes from the Mediterranean region that begin by softening  aromatics (garlic, parsley, carrots, and/or onions) in olive oil before adding tomatoes and other ingredients to the pot. Parsley also features in many versions of Tabbouleh, which is traditionally made with bulghur wheat. I avoid wheat, so I frequently substitute cooked brown rice or Quinoa for the bulghur. I think Tabbouleh is a very flexible dish, so don’t worry if you don’t have cucumbers and sweet onion this week. You can omit the mint if you don’t have a handy mint patch out your back door, and substitute Romano beans if you don’t have cucumbers. One of my current favorites is to use cooked garbanzo beans instead of the quinoa for a satisfying meal.
Quinoa Tabbouleh
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
½ tsp. salt
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
freshly ground black pepper
½ cup olive oil
2 small cucumbers, cut into ¼ inch dice (or use steamed Romano beans instead!)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2/3 cup parsley
½ cup fresh mint
2 Tbs. finely chopped sweet onion
    Bring quinoa, ½ tsp. salt, and 1 ¼ cup water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until quinoa is tender—about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
       Meanwhile, in the serving bowl, whisk lemon juice and garlic. Whisk in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add cucumber, tomatoes, and herbs. Toss and coat well. Add quinoa. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate.

BLACK CURRANTS may be an unfamiliar fruit to many of you. I had never eaten one until last year when we got a few from one of our friends. Then we planted some of our own. We are excited to have enough this year to offer them to you. Though relatively obscure in this country, black currants are quite popular in other parts of the world. 
       Black currants are an intensely flavored fruit, and they are quite tart. Generally they are cooked and sweetened, or made into juice (with sweetening added). You can make a nice fruit spread with today’s raspberries and black currants (recipe below). If you want to save your raspberries for another use, you can make fruit spread from just black currants, but you will probably want to add sweetening. If you prefer to make black currant juice, simmer your black currants with a little water, then press the juice through a sieve. Add some of the juice to water, lemonade, or smoothies, and sweeten to taste.
Black Currant – Raspberry fruit spread: Remove the stems from currants (you don’t need to take off the dried blossom), and place in a small saucepan with ¼ cup water. Bring to a boil, and turn down the heat to simmer. KEEP AN EYE ON THE POT (I have boiled over every batch that I have made so far). Simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Thicken as much as you wish by dissolving 2 Tbs cornstarch in ¼ cup water. While the cooked fruit is still simmering on the stove, add a little of the dissolved cornstarch at a time, stirring after each drizzle, until the desired consistency is reached. Taste, and add sugar as desired. Voila.

Black currants may be poised to be the next “superfood”. As with other dark purple fruits, they have high levels of antioxidants (anthocyanins) and Vitamin C. For more interesting Black currant facts and recipes, check out www.blackcurrantfoundation.co.uk
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017: Week 5 (July 4th)
In this box: 2# Heirloom Tomatoes, 1 bskt Cherry Tomatoes, 1 bu Cilantro, 1 bunch Kale, 1 bu Beets, 3 Zucchini, 1# Romano Beans, 2# All Blue potatoes, 1 bskt. Raspberries—remember to put berries into the fridge ASAP  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

On the farm this week   
    We are grateful for somewhat cooler weather this week! This feels more like what we love about Oregon summers—cool evenings, warm days, lots of sun, and just enough breeze to encourage lots of outdoor activities.
    This week’s box can complement your outdoor activities. I’m thinking of potato salad and pasta salads…..


Heirloom tomatoes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. I think most boxes today have “ Cherokee purple” tomatoes. I like to serve heirloom tomatoes sliced on a platter. I think a little salt and/or a drop of balsamic vinegar really brings out the special flavor of each heirloom variety. Your Cherokee purple tomatoes would also be great cut in chunks and gently mixed with pasta for a cold (or warm) pasta salad.

Purple Potatoes!
    Technically, these potatoes are a variety called all blue, but I like to call them purple potatoes because it sounds more fun—perhaps the alliteration makes them taste even better. Purple potatoes get their color from anthocyanins which are powerful antioxidants, credited with a lots of health benefits.  Famous superfoods blueberries, pomegranates, and Okinawa sweet potatoes are other rich sources of anthocyanin.  You don’t have to tell your kids (or grandkids) these potatoes are good for them though. Many kids like them because they are purple (and tasty.) Tom started growing this variety after our kids developed a taste for blue potato chips, and these have become our favorite potato for roasting or pan-frying because they get wonderfully crisp in the pan. 
       There are so many different varieties of potatoes in the world, and they differ widely in their flavor and texture. Potatoes are often classified by their texture when cooked, because that helps you predict how they will work in a recipe. A potato’s texture is placed somewhere along a spectrum from “waxy” to “starchy”. Waxy potatoes tend to have a moist texture when cooked. Red potatoes are the classic example of a waxy texture. Yukon gold and red gold potatoes also fall on the waxy end of the spectrum. Russet potatoes are the classic example of a starchy potato. They are excellent for roasting, frying, and mashing, but have a somewhat dry texture if just boiled. You can use just about any potato for potato salad, boiled potatoes, or roasted potatoes, as long as you understand that the starchy potatoes may require more moisture in a potato salad, and the waxy potatoes may not brown as nicely in a roasting pan.
       Today’s purple potatoes are fairly starchy. They would be tasty roasted, fried, mashed, or in potato salad. However (because they are a starchy potato), if you boil them for potato salad, the chunks may fall apart. Better to boil them whole, or steam them if you’re making potato salad, and watch that you don’t overcook them.
     
       Here’s how I pan-fry potatoes: cut potatoes into ½-inch dice. Pre-heat cast iron skillet over medium heat, then add a little olive oil, the diced potatoes, and a sprinkle of salt. COVER, lower heat to just below medium, and cook (covered) for 10 minutes. Uncover, stir, and cover again for 5 minutes. Uncover, stir again, then cover for 5 minutes. Repeat, checking every 5 minutes or so until the pieces are browned on the outside & tender inside.

Kale
    Here’s an interesting recipe for a Kale dip. It’s a lot like hummus, but the main ingredient is kale (rather than garbanzo beans). This Kale dip is nice spread on slices of tomato, or in a sandwich.
The original recipe from which I take my inspiration was Collard & Pecan Pesto Bon Apetit, Oct. 2013.
1. Slice 1 large bunch of kale into ribbons. Steam for 5 minutes. Drain. Cool to room temperature.
2. Blend cooled greens in a food processor with
* ¼ cup olive oil
* ¼ cup toasted nuts or nut butter (I use salted cashew butter, but you can also use hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, or tahini)
* 1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar.
3. Blend until very smooth. Taste, and add salt, pepper, or more cider vinegar as desired. 

Cilantro: check our web site, Last Year’s Newsletters, week 5 if you need ideas for using cilantro.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017: Week 4 (June 27)

In this box: 1 Lettuce, ½# Spinach, 1 head Garlic, 1 Sweet Onion, 2# Fava Beans, 1# Romano Beans, 1 bskt Cherry Tomatoes, 2 bskts. Raspberries—remember to put berries into the fridge ASAP (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

 

On the farm this week         

I noticed a strange scene Sunday morning on the farm…. Our farm crew had full rainsuits on, and they were filling large tubs with water in the bed of our dump truck. I’ve been part of the farm for 20 years, and this was a new sight for me. Later in the day, I noticed that a number of our green houses had become shade houses, and suddenly it made perfect sense…. Last weekend’s heat wave was causing some overheating in the green houses that protect our berries and tomatoes from rain and cold weather. Tom says the pickers were noticing sunburning in the raspberries. So the crew made a mud slurry in giant plastic tubs, and sprayed this mud on the hoop houses (with a garden hose and gasoline-powered pump), driving the dump truck around the farm to get near the crops that most need the shade. A very effective, low-tech solution to the heat wave. And another opportunity for me to be grateful that our farm crew is creative, cooperative, and dedicated to the quality of your produce.

FAVA BEANS

            This is the perfect time to remind you that we have a RECIPE BLOG—find a link to it on our web site home page. We just launched our recipe blog a few months ago, with a lot of help from long-time employee Rose Holdorf (Thanks, Rose!). There are several fava bean recipes on the blog, which saves newsletter space for some additional information about this great bean.

            Fava beans are grown all over the world, and can be eaten in their fresh, green stage (like the ones in your box today), or left on the plant to mature, and eaten as a dry bean. Most recipes for fresh favas tell you to remove the beans from their pods, cook the beans, and discard the pods. However, when the pods are fresh & green like the ones in your box today, you might enjoy using your favas like a green bean. We grow a variety that has a pleasant-tasting pod, and is completely edible except for the stringy bits that run down the seams on the sides of the pod. Here’s our favorite way to prepare whole pod favas:

Mediterranean Fava Bean Sauté 

Sauté some garlic and onion in a generous amount of olive oil until soft. Snap off the stem end of the fava pod, and pull off the strings along the sides of the pod. Then cut the pods (with beans inside) into 1-inch lengths, and add to the sautéed garlic. Stir-fry for 3 minutes, then add some fresh tomatoes, or a couple Tbs. of tomato paste thinned with ¼ cup water. (Optional: add a handful of fresh, chopped, parsley if you have any). Cover and simmer about 10 minutes, cooking until the tomatoes/tomato paste melts into a thick sauce on the beans. Add salt to taste.

 

GREEN ROMANO BEANS

            The long, flat beans in your box are a variety of Green Romano Beans that we just love to grow. Though they are extra-large, they are surprisingly tender, and we think they have a superior flavor to the more common, pencil-sized green beans. Since these beans are more tender than a common green bean, you need to be careful not to overcook them. We like to steam them for just 3-5 minutes, or until they turn bright green but retain just a little crunch.

These beans get sweeter and tastier as they grow larger, but will get leathery if they get too large.  Our pickers try to pick them as large as possible without being tough.  The best way to prepare these beans for cooking is to break off the stem, then snap the bean into 4 or 5 pieces.  If a bean won’t snap, it is probably over mature, and should be discarded.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017: Week 3 (June 20)


In this box:
1 Lettuce, ½# Salad Mix, ½# Spinach, 2 cucumbers, 1 bunch Radish, 3 zucchini, 1 bskt Cherry Tomatoes, 1 bskt Raspberries  (weights are approx.)  Everything is Organic!


I assume you are familiar with the produce in your box today, so I can spend less newsletter space introducing new vegetables, and more space writing about other things.

Produce storagesome like cold, some like dry, some like room temperature!
In order to get the most out of your weekly box, it may be helpful to understand a few basic principles of produce storage.

Berries like it very cold:
Berries are notoriously perishable. One of the benefits of Organic Berries is that you are certain they haven’t been sprayed with fungicides. However, the down side of organic berries is that they have a tendency to develop mold if they are left at room temperature.
    On warm days like today, it’s important to get your berries into the fridge as soon as possible. Better yet, bring a cooler and ice with you when you pick up your box! If you are late to pick up your box, you should be especially quick to get your berries in the fridge or cooler, and eat them as soon as possible, checking for moldy bits as you prepare them. If you are going to rinse your berries, do it right before you plan to eat them, or they will become waterlogged.

Salad greens & lettuce like it cold:
Rinse, drain well, and store in a cold refrigerator. Gently dunk lettuce, salad mixes, or other greens in a large bowl of cold water to remove any debris. Then drain well before storing in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or sealed tub. I like to put a paper towel in the bottom of a plastic tub so the leaves on the bottom don’t sit in water. Salad mix should be eaten within a few days, whereas a head of lettuce will keep longer.

Cukes & Zucch’s prefer cool, not cold
: cucumbers and zucchini are happiest if not too cold. The ideal storage temperature for these items is about 50 degrees. Cukes and zucchs are OK in the refrigerator for a few days, but after a while, they will develop “pitting”. If you refrigerate, put them in the warmest part of the fridge. We tend to leave cukes & zucchs on our kitchen counter, so we don’t forget about them. Left on the counter, they will slowly lose moisture and become limp after several days, but they’re still fine to eat that way. Don’t close them up in a plastic bag on the counter, or they will develop mold.


Tomatoes need room temperatures:
Keep tomatoes on your kitchen counter until you eat them. Tomatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator.


Roots should be cold and moist. Your radishes will keep best if you cut the roots off the leaves first, then store the roots in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge.

Plastic clam reuse/recycling
There are many trade-offs in life. Ideally, we would like to pack everything in reusable or recyclable packaging. However, we also want your produce to arrive home in good condition. We use plastic “clamshell” packaging for cherry tomatoes and berries so they don’t spill and turn to sauce or jam en route to your house.
Reuse: If your clams are clean, we can reuse them, but please wash them before returning to us, as we are not set up to wash them here on the farm.
Recycle: For our Salem and Albany members, the plastic containers are recyclable in your curbside bin. Unfortunately, Republic Services in Corvallis does not accept clams at this time.

Holidays and Vacation dates: July 4th falls on a Tuesday this year, but your farmers won’t take the day off. It will be just like a regular Tuesday on the farm. We will pick/pack/and deliver Harvest Boxes as usual on July 4th. If you will be out of town that day, and would like a vacation credit for that box, please email me so we can create a vacation credit instead of packing a box that won’t get picked up. denisonfarms@peak.org arrives on the computer at my desk, so that’s the best address for any messages about your Harvest Box membership.


Farm Party Sunday, September 3
We have set the date for this year’s Farm Party on Sunday of Labor Day weekend, in the afternoon.
Our tradition is to have a farm tour in the mid-afternoon, followed by a potluck.
I will send more details as the date draws nearer.
We hope you can come!

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017: Week 2 (June 12)

In this box:
1 Lettuce, 2 cucumbers, 1 Fresh Garlic, 1 bskt Cherry Tomatoes, 2# Red Gold Potatoes, 1 bu. Baby Turnips*, 1 bu. Beets*, 1 bu Garlic tops, 1 basket Tayberries (Salem & Albany) or Blackberries (Corvallis).  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic! *Turnips & Beets are from Groundwork Organic Farm in Junction City.

 

When Tom & I looked around the farm last Friday, trying to plan what would go in this week’s box, we weren’t confident that we could fill everyone’s box with what we have here on the farm. So we checked with our friend Gabe, at Groundwork Organic Farm to see what he had in abundance. When he said he had turnips and beets, we jumped on the chance to put them both in your box this week. We were harvesting beets from our farm in early May, but they are all gone now. And we just didn’t get any turnips planted this year because it has been an unusually wet winter and spring. So far, we’ve had 25 more inches of rain than in an average year! It’s been difficult to prepare ground for planting, and to stay ahead of the weeds when we do get things planted.

Fortunately for you, our tomatoes were planted on time, and our berries are grown in covered hoop-houses so they have been less affected by the rains. Enjoy the first Sungold cherry tomatoes of the season!

 

White turnips are also known as “salad” turnips, because they are sweet, juicy, and mild enough to eat raw, or slice into a salad. The turnip roots are quite nice tossed into a stir-fry, but I think they are so good just eaten raw that they never seem to make it into the sauté pan in my kitchen. Turnip greens can be cooked as you would spinach—what I mean by this is that turnip greens are relatively tender, and they cook quickly. Turnip greens have a mild flavor when they are cooked, but they can also be used in a salad. Raw, they have a slightly sharp flavor, which reveals their close relationship (in a botanical sense) to mustard greens. I happen to like mustard greens, but it’s not a flavor that every palate appreciates. If they are too strong for you as a raw vegetable, know that they are MUCH milder when cooked.

 

This week, your box should have a basket of either Tayberries or Blackberries. Blackberries may be easy to recognize, but tayberries may be less familiar. The Tayberry is a cross between a blackberry and raspberry. They are the color of red wine. I like to make a quick fruit sauce with blackberries or tayberries. Berries have a different flavor when cooked. All berries have some balance of sweetness and tartness. With blackberries, cooking seems to mellow the tartness and bring out the sweetness. With tayberries, I find cooking really brings out some flavor complexities that are not there in the fresh, uncooked fruit.

To make fruit sauce: quickly rinse fruit and place in a sauce pan. Add about ¼ cup of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Then use a potato-masher to crush the fruit, and sweeten if you wish. Thicken, if needed, with a little cornstarch. Cool, then spread on pancakes, French toast, crackers, yogurt, cheesecake……

 

Garlic tops—Here’s a lovely vegetable that is truly a seasonal treat. It’s available only in early June, when garlic plants are maturing and sending these edible flower stalks (technically called “scapes”) up from the center of the developing garlic bulb. After we cut off the scapes, the plant continues to mature the garlic bulb, so we get two crops from one plant! Garlic tops are generally cooked, rather than being eaten raw. They can steamed, or cut into bite-sized pieces for a stir-fry. They have a very mild garlic flavor. You can eat the entire scape, but I prefer eat no further than one bite past the bud, as the tip of the stalk gets too fibrous for me. I also suggest “snapping” the bottom ends off to make sure they’re tender. Like asparagus, if the ends won’t snap, they may be too fibrous to eat.

            Recipe of the weekGarlic Tops with Hummus: Steam whole garlic tops for 5 minutes or until tender. Cool, then dip in hummus for a perfect taste and texture combination. I had to hold myself back from eating the last bite so that I could share some with Tom. Because I enjoy finger-food, I just hold the top, and dip the bottom into hummus for each bite, eating my way up the stem and finishing with the bite that includes the bud.

In your box today, you have both a bunch of garlic tops and a head of “fresh” garlic. Your bulb of fresh garlic is still moist. You can cook with it as you would “regular” garlic, but because it’s fresh, it won’t keep in good condition more than a week or so. Typically, garlic in the grocery store has been “cured” in a well-ventilated area until it is fully dry. Store your fresh garlic on the counter, in a well-ventilated area, and use it this week if you can.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017, Week 1 (June 6)

In this box: 1 lettuce, 2 cucumbers, 1 sweet onion, 1# sugar snap peas from Springhill Farm, 3# yellow potatoes, 1 bunch parsley, 2 zucchini, 1 bunch Radish or Chard, 1 bunch Fava Greens (weights are approximate). Everything is Organic!

We are excited to be starting another Harvest Box season with you. If you’ve been part of our membership in the past, we are delighted to have you back. And I want to give a hearty welcome to our new members. Welcome to the farm!
First, some logistics, and then some suggestions about how to use this week’s produce:
•    Tub care—feel free to take the tub home with you. But please bring it back next week. It’s extra nice if you rinse it out after emptying it, so it’s clean. If you prefer, you can transfer your produce to your own bags or cooler and leave the box at your pick-up site.
•    If you forget to pick up your box some week, check your confirmation letter for late pick-up options at your site.
•    We haven’t yet planned a date for our Farm Party. I will post a notice in the newsletter as soon as we get that date on the calendar.
•    If you have any questions or concerns, email me at denisonfarms@peak.org. Our office is small—usually it’s just me & Tom sitting at our respective computers, surrounded by seed packets, papers, & file folders full of farm records. I like to joke that Tom is “the farmer”, and I am “the farm wife”. We have separate responsibilities; I am in charge of the office, and he’s in charge of the planting & harvesting. We’re a good team, and we’ve been doing it for a long time—this is our 20th season of offering Harvest Boxes. Again, we thank you all for your membership with us.

Here are some ideas for using today’s produce:

Sugar Snap Peas – from Springhill Farm. I don’t expect Sugar Snap Peas to need much introduction—except to confirm that these are the kind of peas that you eat pod & all. There is a bit of a “string” along the side that you can remove when you snap off the stem end. Then you can eat the peas & pod raw or cooked. Two of my favorite ways to eat Snap Peas are to serve raw peas to dip into hummus, or to steam them lightly. They don’t need anything more fancy than that.
    We planted sugar snap peas on our farm in early February, but the bulk of our peas ripened a few weeks ago, and there aren’t many left to pick. So, we are grateful that our friend Jamie at Springhill Farm (in North Albany) has a variety of peas that ripens a few weeks later, and we could get some from him. It takes a lot of peas to fill 300 boxes! Thanks, Jamie.

Parsley—I love making a sort of “Greek” salad, of parsley, cucumbers & sweet onion, dressed with olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice. To be a classic Greek salad, I should add olives and feta cheese, but I never seem to have them on hand. Instead, I add cooked garbanzo beans, and that is one of my standard summertime lunches.
Parsley is also nice in a potato salad….
Need more ideas, check out our NEW RECIPE BLOG. On our web site, choose “recipe blog” to find many of my favorite farm-based recipes. No longer will you need to search through back issues of the newsletter!

Fava Greens—Perhaps the least familiar item in the box today is the bunch of Fava Greens. We’ve grown fava beans for years, but didn’t know the leaves were edible until we saw an article in Sunset Magazine with recipes, and now we’re hooked. The Sunset Magazine article suggests they have a grassier flavor when raw, and a nuttier flavor when cooked. I think they taste faintly of peas, but the flavor is hard to describe. You just have to try them!
    As a salad, raw fava greens go well with a citrus dressing, like a lemon-poppyseed dressing.
As a cooked green, treat them like spinach. They are nice with onions and zucchini stuffed in an omelet.
Important note: we picked the fava greens in a bunch because they’re easier to handle & pack that way.
However, the stems, though sweet and pea-flavored, may be fibrous, except at the tip. If the stem snaps easily, it’s probably tender enough to eat. If not, I suggest picking the leaves off the stems before making a salad or cooking them.
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