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    2018 Denison Farms Newsletters

June

week 1
week 2
week 3
week 4

July

week 5
week 6
week 7
week 8
week 9

August

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 2018:  Week 24
                Next week is the LAST box!

In this box: 1/2 # Salad Mix ,1 bunch Carrots 1 Fennel, 1 Yellow Onion, 1 Butternut Squash, 2# Potatoes, 2# tomatoes (slicing tomatoes or Roma), 1 bag Padron Peppers--likely to be HOT, 2# Crimson Gold Apples (from LaMancha Ranch & Orchard) (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic

Storage Vegetables
ORDER NOW!
Sunday (Nov 18) is the deadline to order. See last week’s newsletter for the full list of what’s available.

Fennel
 
      I am surprised to discover that we haven’t put fennel in the box yet! Well, wait no more, here it is.
     A somewhat obscure member of the carrot family, fennel is widely used in Mediterranean cuisine. When eaten raw, it has a slight anise (licorice) flavor, and a crunchy texture. Generally, the bulb is what people eat, and the stalks get composted or used for soup stock. I think fennel is lovely in a salad--use the bulb like you would use celery to add some crunch. Sliced fennel bulb on a crudités plate can be dipped in chevre, or creamy salad dressing. When cooked, the anise flavor is mild (barely noticeable), and the texture becomes very tender. Fennel adds body to soups, because it softens and becomes almost creamy when cooked.
    Preparation: 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 the bulb lengthwise into wedges, the center core helps the layers stay together. The stalks are generally discarded or used for stock.
 
   Cooking suggestions: Fennel can be substituted for celery in many recipes that start with a soffritto. An Italian classic, soffritto refers to carrots, onions, and celery or parsley (or fennel) slow-sautéed in olive oil as a beginning step to a wide variety of dishes. Many other Mediterranean cuisines have slight variations on ingredients, and slight variations on the name, but follow the same concept--sautéed aromatics in olive oil to start any number of main dishes. 
    If you want to use all the edible parts of your fennel, the stringy leaf stalks and leaf fronds can be used if you slice them very thinly across the grain. Once sliced thinly, add them to soup, spaghetti sauce, or stews.
       I particularly like fennel instead of celery when I’m making spaghetti sauce. It imparts a slightly different flavor to the sauce than when made with celery. Or save your fennel for next week, and use it instead of celery in your Thanksgiving stuffing.
    Still not sure what to do with your fennel? Slice the bulb, and add to your onions for a pan of caramelized onions & fennel.

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 puréed 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 their hotness, and sweeter flavors prevail. 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 & ¼ cup broth. Cover and cook on high for about 4 hours.

The last tomatoes of the season!! We’ve had some frosty nights lately, which means we’re just about finished with tomatoes & peppers. Local summer squash, cucumbers, and basil are gone until next spring. Since we grow tomatoes in hoop houses, the plants haven’t yet been killed by frosts. If you keep your tomatoes on the counter for a  few days, they will continue to ripen and become more red.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018:  Week 23
            The Harvest Box season continues until Thanksgiving. There are 2 more boxes.

In this box:
1/2 # Salad Mix, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 bunch Collards, 1 Leek, 2 Delicata Squash, 1 box Ground Cherry, 5 ea Fuyu Persimmons, 1 box Jupiter Grapes, 2# Granny Smith Apples (from Gala Springs Orchard) (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic

Ground cherries,
also known as goldenberries, are closely related to tomatillos, and in the same botanical family as tomatoes (and potatoes and peppers). Inside the inedible husk, is a sweet berry with a flavor some say reminds them of pineapple. I think they are fun to eat—just peel away the husk and bite off the berry. You can cook with them, or dehydrate the berries, but (frankly) I never get further than eating them out of hand, one after the other. The berries inside the husk should be firm, and greenish or orange/gold in color (gold ones are sweeter). Don’t eat any that are mushy.

Fuyu Persimmons
are ripe when they are still somewhat firm—however you can eat them over a broad range of textures, from crunchy to jelly-soft.  Some other varieties of persimmons, such as the native American persimmon, and the familiar heart-shaped Hachiya persimmons must be as soft as jelly before they are edible. If you eat a persimmon before it’s ripe, it will be unpleasantly astringent.
       We packed your persimmons “ripe” and “firm”. If you like yours somewhat crunchy, they should be ready today. If you prefer yours a little softer (when the texture is somewhat like a ripe peach or mango), keep them on the kitchen counter for a few days until they give just a little to gentle pressure.
       When ripe, Fuyu persimmons can vary in color from deep dark orange, to a lighter yellow-orange, or greenish-yellow. If one of yours is green, let it ripen a few more days. Once your persimmons are as soft as you like, refrigerate until you’re ready to eat them.
       To serve Fuyu persimmons: cut off the calyx (the dry “leafy” cap), then cut each persimmon into wedges. The skin is edible, but you can trim it if you prefer uniform texture. Fuyu persimmons are nice just by themselves, or sliced thinly and arranged on warm toast instead of jam, or in a bowl with vanilla ice cream (or yogurt), or sliced thinly to garnish a cheesecake. They dehydrate well, and (in fact) dried persimmons were widely used as a sweetener in Asia before the advent of readily-available white sugar.

Granny Smith Apples   
 
         Here’s a great old fashioned apple. Crisp, juicy, and tart/sweet, the Granny Smith apple has been popular since it was first found in Australia in 1868. No space for a discussion of apple breeding and propagation here, so I’ll just close with a recipe:
Baked Delicata with nuts
(recipe from First Alternatieve THYMES, years ago)
2 small or 1 large delicata squash, cut into chunks (3 cups)
½ cup almonds or filberts, chopped coarsely
¼ cup chopped apples
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
       Mix all ingredients, stirring to blend and to coat the vegetables with olive oil. Bake, covered in a 9 x 13” pan at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the cover. Stir to loosen the bits from the bottom of the pan. Bake 15 more minutes uncovered. Serves 4.
      
Storage Vegetables ORDER NOW!
Exchange vacation credit vouchers for storage produce. Vouchers expire Nov 23:
NOW AVAILABLE:
-Beets (12#)
-Carrots (12#)
-Persimmons (8#)
-potatoes (20#),
-onions (20#),
-winter squash (20#),
-seconds peppers (10#),
-sweet potatoes (8#), or
-ginger (1.25#),
-turmeric (1.25#),
-red raspberries (1 gal. bag, frozen), or
-blackberries (1 gal. bag, frozen)
-black currants (1 gal. bag, frozen)
Or we can send two Harvest Boxes for you.
Please let me know a couple days in advance if you want a box of storage produce, or an extra harvest box.
If you have no credit vouchers to use, you may still order storage produce @ $20/box.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018:  Week 22

            The Harvest Box season continues until Thanksgiving. There are 3 more boxes.

In this box: 1 bunch Carrots, 1 bunch Kale, 1 bunch Beets, 1 or 2 Red Onions, 2# Yellow Potatoes, 2# Sweet Potatoes, 1 box Strawberries, 1 box Jupiter Grapes, 2# Pears (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic

End of October -- still 3 more weeks in this Harvest Box season!
    We are noticing the transition from summer toward winter on the farm. The fog hasn’t yet lifted (it’s late morning) as I gaze out the window, taking a short break from writing the newsletter. Tom is in the office today, ordering next year’s seed potatoes. Our crew is busy preparing ground for planting next spring. Many of our “storage crops” have been harvested, and will spend the next months in cool, dry storage on the farm. See below for information about ordering storage produce before the end of the Harvest Box season.
       The greens and leeks that we will harvest through the winter are in the ground, growing slowly during the cool, shorter days of autumn. We can be a bit more relaxed about harvesting this time of year, because crops ripen much more slowly in the fall. In July, our crew was working dawn to dusk to pick perishable crops (berries in particular) that just couldn’t wait one more day. We still have berries ripening -- enough strawberries for everyone today, but our tomatoes and peppers are ripening so slowly that we only occasionally have enough for you.

Roasting Roots
    This time of year, as it becomes cooler, and damper outside we often look for reasons to turn on the oven. Baking bread, braising a chicken, or roasting vegetables warms the house and fills it with wonderful aromas.  The carrots, beets, onions, potatoes, and sweet potatoes in today’s box all roast well. (Technically, this process could be called “baking”, but “roasting” is more often the term used). Cut vegetables in cubes, toss with olive oil and salt, and roast until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife, and slightly browned (approx. 45 - 60 minutes). This recipe is very adaptable, producing good results anywhere from 350 to 400 degrees. It just takes longer at lower temperatures. Roasting enhances the sweetness and earthy flavors of these vegetables. Any that don’t get eaten immediately make a nice addition to salads and future meals.  Salt can be omitted for low sodium diets, and many other spices can also be used.

Greens on Pizza (thanks to Harvest Box member, Molly, for this recipe!)
    A bunch of greens (kale, chard, spinach, collards) will cover one large pizza. Sauté the greens before cooking the crust. You can add garlic, onions, leeks, or some other savory. Cook the greens until liquid is gone or it will make the crust soggy.
    Pizza crust: proof 1 pkg yeast with 1 tsp sugar and 1 cup warm water. Add 2 cups flour, one tsp salt, and a couple Tbs of vegetable oil. Mix well. The dough should be soft and not especially sticky. If sticky, add more flour. Let rise until double in bulk (about 30 - 40 minutes, depending on how warm your rising place is). Split in half, and press/stretch to fit your pizza stone or a baking pan. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce, green sauce (pesto), or a thin coat of olive oil over the dough. Add a layer of grated mozzarella. Top with the sautéed greens. (Optional: crumble a little Gorgonzola on top of the greens). Bake for 15 - 16 minutes at 450 degrees. The greens get a little crispy, which adds a nice texture to the pizza.

Storage Vegetables
ORDER NOW!
If you have taken vacation weeks, and have not yet used your credit voucher(s), you can order a box of storage produce (1 box per voucher) to be delivered with your Harvest Box (there are 3 more weeks).
Here are the options: potatoes (20#), onions (20#), winter squash (20#), seconds peppers (10#), sweet potatoes (8#), ginger (1.25#), turmeric (1.25#), red raspberries (1 gallon bag, frozen), or blackberries (1 gallon bag, frozen).
Or we can send two Harvest Boxes for you.
Please let me know a couple days in advance if you want a box of storage produce, or an extra harvest box.
If you have no credit vouchers to use, you may still order storage produce @ $20/box.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018:  Week 21
            The Harvest Box season continues until Thanksgiving. There are 4 more boxes!


In this box: ½# Salad Mix, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 bunch Kale, 2 Bell Peppers, 1 Leek, 2# Potatoes, 1 Delicata squash, 1 box Strawberries or Raspberries, 2# Liberty Apples from LaMancha Ranch  &  Orchard--These are crisp, juicy, and sweet-tart!  (weights are approx.)  Everything is Organic

Potato-Leek Soup
    Here is a classic pairing that can be personalized to suit your preferred mood, taste, and temperament. Starting with a few simple ingredients, you can have your soup chunky or smooth, hot or cold, white or pale green. If you want your soup totally white, use just the white part of the leek (save the greens for a stir-fry). Or use the whole leek (whites & greens) if you want more color in your soup. Here are a couple excellent soup recipes for the vegetables in today’s box:

Vichyssoise (modified from the Moosewood Cookbook, by Mollie Katzen, 1977)
This one is smooth, and served cold, though I expect it would be just as good served warm!
    1 large leek, cleaned and sliced into rings
    ¼ cup butter
    2# potatoes, scrubbed & sliced thinly
    4 cups water
    2 cups milk
    ½ pint heavy cream
    1 ½ - 2 tsp. salt
    Fresh pepper
1. Soften leeks in butter (medium heat).
2. Combine leeks, potatoes, & water in a large soup pot.
3. Boil until potatoes are very tender. Add salt.
4. Purée (use all the water you cooked the vegetables in).
5. Strain or sieve.
6. Whisk in milk, half the cream, and pepper.
7. Heat just to boiling point. Don’t boil!
8. Chill until cold.
9. Add remaining cream. Serve with a fresh grind of pepper.

Potato Kale Soup (from Asparagus to Zucchini, Madison Area CSA Coalition)
Ingredients: 4 Tbs olive oil, 1 Leek, 4 - 5 cloves Garlic,  ½ Tbs. red chili flakes, 1 - 2 tsp. Salt, 2# red potatoes, peeled & diced into ¾ inch cubes, 3 cups coarsely chopped Kale, Black pepper
   Heat oil in a soup pot; add leeks, garlic, chili flakes, & salt. Sauté until leeks are softened. Add potatoes, and enough water to cover by 4 inches. Bring to a boil, and cook, covered until potatoes are about half done. Add kale and cook, uncovered, until potatoes are tender (10 - 15 minutes). Puree in a blender or food processor (an immersion blender would work great!). Season with pepper to taste. Makes 6 - 8 servings.
 
We oppose Measure 103
      
       You may have noticed we generally stay away from politics in our newsletters. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about political matters. However, I feel called to comment briefly on Measure 103 (the “grocery tax” measure). Some of the arguments in the Voters Pamphlet in favor of Measure 103 suggest a YES vote will “protect Oregon’s struggling small farms”. We don’t believe that’s true. Our perspective is more aligned with the Arguments in Opposition written by Friends of Family Farmers, and the League of Women Voters. Please vote.  
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018:  Week 20
            The Harvest Box season continues until Thanksgiving. There are 5 more boxes.

In this box: ½# Salad Mix, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 bunch Collards, 1 Celeriac, 1# Sweet Onions, 2 sm or 1 lg Eggplant, 1 Butternut Squash, 1 box Raspberries, 2# Abate Fetel Pears from Gala Springs Orchard *You can eat them now if you like crunchy pears, or leave your them on the counter for a few days, and they will soften. (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic

Butternut Squash
       As with all winter squash, Butternut will keep best on the kitchen counter, not in the refrigerator. Butternut is a nice squash if you want to make a pureed squash soup, and it holds shape when peeled, cut in chunks, and cooked in a curry or stew (if you avoid vigorous stirring). We like to cut it into chunks (peeled), coat with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast in a hot oven (375 - 400 degrees) until it’s slightly caramelized…. and SO easy to eat!

Butternut Squash Soup:
1. Peel and cube 1 medium butternut squash.
2. Cook for 25 minutes in 5 cups of water or stock.
3. Sauté 2 cups chopped onion and 1 tsp dried thyme in 2 Tbs oil. Add to squash.
4. Cool and puree the squash and onions.
5. Melt 4 Tbs butter. Stir in ¼ cup flour and cook 2 minutes. Stir into soup.
6. Add ¾ cup cream (or milk, or non-dairy milk), 1 tsp salt, & ½ tsp tamari. Simmer 15 minutes.
7. Garnish with ½ cup sliced and toasted almonds and black pepper to taste.

Collards can be used any way you would use kale.
      
Celeriac, or Celery Root
    The weird-looking, pale-colored, gnarly root in your box is a Celeriac. Celeriac is an excellent storage crop, and can be kept in good condition in a root cellar for months. It was more widely known in the US a couple hundred years ago, when there were far fewer options for fresh vegetables in the winter. It is very popular in Europe, especially Germany and France.
     This is the first year we’ve grown celeriac, so it may be a new vegetable to some of you. We actually thought we were planting celery starts from our friends at Groundwork Organic Farm, but they turned out to be Celeriac. It was a pleasant surprise to get Celeriac, and we’re enjoying using it mashed, in soups & stews, and as in ingredient in a pan of roasted roots.
   
Preparation: Trim off the outer skin--which is somewhat challenging on the end where the roots are a bit tangled on themselves. You can soak the celeriac in water to loosen dirt, then scrub with a stiff brush to remove dirt, or trim away anything that looks gritty.
       Celeriac will darken when exposed to air after peeling or cutting. To avoid this, immerse in water once cut, until you’re ready to cook it.
      
Cooking suggestions (after cleaning and trimming):
1. Use diced or shredded celeriac as a substitute for celery in a soup, spaghetti sauce, or stew. We really enjoy chunks of celeriac in vegetable stew. You can saute them at the beginning with onions & carrots, or just toss pieces into the stew after adding liquid.
2. Celeriac can be roasted--by itself, or combine with chunks of potatoes, and/or beets, and/or carrots. Coat with a little olive oil & salt, and roast in a 350 to 400 degree oven until tender.
3. My current favorite is to just cut a celeriac in bite-sized pieces, steam it until tender, then mash with butter.
4. Although we prefer Celeriac cooked, it can be eaten raw. “Google” celeriac salad for recipe ideas.

Storage Vegetables-- Just added, more options: Frozen red raspberries or blackberries (in 1 gallon bag)
    If you have credit vouchers for vacation weeks and you can’t get to the Farmers Market to redeem them, you can order a box of storage produce (1 box per voucher) to be delivered with your Harvest Box any week between now and the end of the season (Nov. 22).
    Here are the options: potatoes (20#), onions (20#), winter squash (20#), seconds peppers (10#), sweet potatoes (8#), ginger or turmeric (1.25#), red raspberries (1 gallon bag), blackberries (1 gallon bag), or canning tomatoes (limited supply) 20# box.
    Or we can send two Harvest Boxes any week you wish.
Please let me know a couple days in advance if you want a box of storage produce, or an extra harvest box.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018: Week 19

In this box: 1 Lettuce, 1 bunch Arugula, 1 bunch Basil, 1# Red Onions, 2 Bell Peppers, 2# Yellow Potatoes, 1 Sunshine Squash, 1 box Grapes, 2# Winter Banana Apples from Gala  Springs Orchard  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic

Sunshine Squash
       Although there are dozens of different varieties of winter squash, we grow only a few varieties. A few weeks ago, you got a delicata squash, this week is the Sunshine squash. Butternut will be coming soon.
       Sunshine squash looks like a “pumpkin”, and (once cooked) can be used in any recipe calling for “canned pumpkin”. It makes a great pumpkin pie! To appreciate the sweet flavor and smooth texture of Sunshine squash, you can steam or bake it (instructions follow).
      
       Cooking suggestions: If you have a large knife, cut your squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Then choose either steaming or baking. Steaming: cut each half into smile-shaped pieces, and steam for 10 - 20 minutes (shorter time for thinner smiles). Baking: place squash halves cut side down in a baking dish. Add about 1/4-inch water to the baking dish. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 - 60 minutes, until the squash is soft, appears “slumped”, and the sweet smell of squash fills your kitchen.
       If you don’t have a giant knife, you can bake the squash whole: put it in a baking dish so it doesn’t ooze sweet juice over the floor of your oven. Prick the skin with a knife in a couple places so it doesn’t explode in the oven. Bake for an hour or longer, until the squash is very soft. Then you can cut the squash easily, remove the seeds, and proceed.
       Eating suggestions: Once cooked, you can eat your squash as is, or mash it. Season with a little butter and/or salt at the table. One of our favorites is to mash baked Sunshine squash with coconut milk.
       Note: You can eat the skin! Occasionally, there are a few pale bumps on the skin that need to be removed (after cooking) because they don’t soften, but otherwise, the skin can be mashed right along with the flesh.
       Storage note: winter squash does not like to be chilled. It keeps best on the kitchen counter (or on your table as part of a fall centerpiece).

Winter Banana Apples
    Here’s a lovely, sweet, dense-textured apple that you probably won’t find in the grocery store. The quality that prevents this apple from becoming more widely available in the grocery trade is that they bruise easily.

Arugula
    This peppery-tasting leaf goes by a number of different names. Sometimes it is called “rocket” or “roquette”. If you’re a fan of the peppery flavor, you might enjoy a salad of straight arugula, or put several layers on a sandwich in place of lettuce. If you prefer a milder flavor, you can cook arugula as you would spinach. The peppery flavor becomes milder even just by adding salad dressing. Arugula pairs well with goat cheese, nuts, dried cranberries, and oil & vinegar dressing. If you need some specific recipe ideas for an arugula salad, check the Internet for “arugula salad recipes”. 

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018: Week 18

In this box: 1 bunch Carrots, 1 bunch Beets, 1 bunch Cilantro, 1# Sweet Onions, 2 Jalapeno peppers, 2# Sweet Girl or Roma tomatoes, 2 Bell Peppers, 2# Sweet Potatoes, 1 box Strawberries, 2# Abate Fetel Pears  from Gala Springs Orchard.  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic

Abate Fetel Pears
       This variety of pear was bred by a group of Italian monks in the 15th century. It was named in honor of the Abbot Fetel at the monastery. 
       In addition to the cool name, it’s a lovely pear for fresh eating. I think yours will be at their best after a couple days on your kitchen counter. When the skin turns from definitely green to somewhat yellowish, and the pear has become just barely softer.
       Abate Fetel pears are excellent for fresh eating or baking.

Cilantro
    When I learned that we had both cilantro and tomatoes available for this week’s box, I started planning the box around Salsa Fresca. In our kitchen, “salsa” is a simple recipe, consisting of chopped fresh tomatoes, sweet onion, cilantro, and salt. If we have a lime on the counter, we might add a touch of lime juice as well. I’m aware that many people absolutely must have something spicy in salsa, so we added a jalapeno to this week’s box. If you can’t use all your jalapenos, you can freeze them, and use them a little at a time.
       If you have cilantro left after making salsa, there are a number of other great ways to use it. You can add fresh cilantro to soup, stew, lentil salad, bean salad, or stir-fry. Add the cilantro at the very end of cooking, or pass a dish of chopped cilantro at the table to garnish a brothy soup or stir fry dinner.  One of my favorite salads is black beans and salsa fresca. Add sweet corn kernels, if you have them!

Cilantro- jalapeno pesto
       Substitute cilantro for basil, and pistachio nuts for pine nuts in your basic pesto recipe. Add a few slivers of jalapeno pepper (to taste).
      
Sweet Potatoes
    Sweet potatoes are another example of an important vegetable crop that originated in the Americas. That puts it in the group with potatoes, tomatoes, beans, corn, peppers, and squash. Wild sweet potatoes have been traced back to Peru as early as 8000 B.C.
    Sweet potatoes are generally grown in warmer climates, but we’ve figured out how to nurture them to maturity on our farm.
    In the kitchen, sweet potatoes can be baked, steamed, sautéed, or microwaved. We like to roast them, whole, until they are very soft, and sweet juices seep onto the roasting pan. Sweet potatoes are a delicious addition to curry, stew, or soup.
    Store your sweet potatoes on the kitchen counter. They don’t do well in the refrigerator.

Vacation Credits & Storage Vegetables
If you have credit vouchers for vacation weeks and you can’t get to the Farmers Market to redeem them, you can order a box of storage produce (1 box per voucher) to be delivered with your Harvest Box any week between now and the end of the season (Nov. 21).
Here are the options for storage produce:

Please let me know a couple days in advance if you want a box of storage produce, or an extra harvest box.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018:  Week 17
In this box: ½# Salad Mix, 2 Cucumbers, 6 Corn , 1 Leek , 1 bunch Kale, 2# Red Potatoes , 1 Delicata squash , 3/4# Grapes, 2# Concorde Pears (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic

Concorde Pears
        A few weeks ago, when we put Asian pears in the box, I mentioned our small pear orchard. Our orchard is small, and we planted just a few trees of many different varieties, most of which don’t yield the 500# of fruit it takes to give a share to all our members. But we planted about a dozen Concorde pear trees, and we have an abundant harvest this year!
       Concorde pears are a cross between the Conference pear (so named because it won first prize at the National British Pear Conference in London in 1885), and the Comice pear (widely grown in Southern Oregon).
       Concorde pears are ripe and sweet when they are still crispy. You can eat your pears today if you like a crispy pear. If you prefer a softer pear, you can just leave them on the counter for a few days until they yield slightly to pressure at the stem end.
           Concorde pears are also nice when cooked. This morning, I cut up a pear (with the skin on), and poached it in a little water, then tossed the cooked pear pieces with all the sweet liquid on top of my bowl of oatmeal. (To poach: Cut pear in slices or chunks. Place in saucepan with ¼ cup water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 8 - 10 minutes. The pear pieces hold their shape when cooked this way & the poaching water becomes sweet, and almost syrupy). Concorde pears would be delightful in a pear tart or galette, if you have time to make a pie crust. (check the Internet if you want a recipe for pear galette).
      
Leeks, Kale, & Delicata Squash
    We’re starting to harvest some of our fall crops, increasing the diversity in your Harvest Box as the season’s turn from summer toward fall. Leeks and Delicata Squash are planted in the spring, but they need to grow all summer to mature. This kale, on the other hand, was just planted in July. This week’s bunches are the “first pick” from young plants. Tom & I are happy to have ‘greens’ back in the kitchen. Leeks and kale would go nicely in a stir-fry or a soup.
   
To clean a leek: Sometimes a little dirt collects between the layers of a leek--right where it turns from white to green. I find the easiest way to clean a leek is to slice the entire leek lengthwise, cutting through the middle of the leaves. Then rinse off any dirt or debris by holding the halves under running water.

To cook your leek: Leeks can be cooked any number of ways. Chop or slice them and add to stir-fry, casseroles, soups, risotto, or a pan of roasted vegetables. Leeks are nice sauteed until crispy, then added to mashed potatoes. Leeks are classic in potato-leek soup (as in the French Vichysoisse), and in the Scottish “Cock-a-leekie” soup. There will be more leeks in your box in the coming weeks, so you can hold some of these recipe ideas for another time….

Red Potatoes
    I have a favorite potato salad recipe that works well with this week’s red potatoes. This recipe is excellent either warm or chilled.
1. Finely chop ½ a sweet onion, place in bowl.
2. Cover onion with good olive oil and rice vinegar (use about twice as much olive oil as vinegar).
3. Cut 2 lbs. red potatoes into bite-sized chunks.
4. Cover potatoes with water, add 1 tsp. salt. Boil for 12 minutes or until soft.
5. Drain potatoes and add to onions. Stir gently. Cool 10 minutes. Serve.
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 Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018:  Week 16

In this box: 6 Corn, 1 bunch Radishes, 2-3 Yellow Bell Peppers, 1 bunch Chard, 1 bunch Basil, 1 head Garlic, 2# Roma tomatoes, 3/4# Grapes, 2# Gala Apples (from Gala Springs Orchard) (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

The Autumnal Equinox
This Saturday will be the autumnal equinox which is the start of fall, and also the first day since the spring equinox that the night will be as long as the day.  Each day from now until the winter solstice in late December, there will be a little less day time, and a little more night time.  During the long hot days of summer crops like lettuce, spinach, arugula, radishes, and cilantro were going to seed soon after planting.  Now these same crops can tell from the cooling temperatures and longer nights that it is not the time to flower.  If they flower in the fall, their seeds would be trying to mature in harsh winter conditions, so these plants will wait until the days are lengthening again to initiate flowering.  By flowering when the day length is increasing their seeds will mature in summer weather.

We are still harvesting corn, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers which all thrive in summer’s warmth, but they are slowing down as the sun and warmth recede.  We are also bringing in sweet potatoes and winter squash to keep in our packing shed for fall and winter sales.  If we can do this before there is too much rain, then we can plant overwintered crops like garlic, onions and fava beans, or cover crops where the squash was grown.  Eventually it will rain enough that we can not work our fields.

Our large planting of fall carrots needs a few more weeks of growth before it is ready to pick.  The cooler nights sweeten the carrots which helps them survive frosty weather.  The sugars act like antifreeze in the cells of the carrots, and also make fall and winter carrots tastier than summer ones.  We plan to harvest all of them before any severe freezing weather.  Carrots can be stored for several months in coolers, adding to our winter diet.

Radishes
Radishes can be cooked, just like other root vegetables. You might try them stir-fried with chard and garlic, or onions if you have some left from last week’s box, or roasted with some of last week’s potatoes. I think it’s interesting that radishes lose their hotness when they are cooked, but retain their crunchy texture.

Reliance Grapes
These grapes were bred by Dr. James Moore at the University of Arkansas.  Like the other grapes we grow they don’t need to be sprayed if they are in healthy soil, with good air circulation, and are pruned carefully. Dr. Moore has bred many excellent, adaptable, grape and blackberry varieties.  In cooler summers these grapes would be red, but when it’s warmer like this season, they ripen to more of a reddish green.  It’s been a good year for our grapes, but they are getting sweet enough to attract the yellow jacket wasps, who enjoy them as much as people do.  Wasps eat lots of aphids, caterpillars, and other pests on the farm during the season.  It’s harder to appreciate them though when the grapes are ripe.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018:  Week 15

In this box: 2 cucumbers, 1 bunch Parsley, 1 basket cherry tomatoes, 2 Red Bell Peppers, 2# Yellow Potatoes, ¼# Shallot, ¼# fresh Ginger, 1 basket Italian Plums, 2# Gala Apples (from Gala Springs Orchard) (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Fresh Ginger
   
If this is the first year that you’ve been a member, fresh ginger may be a surprise. Yes, we can grow ginger in Corvallis!
Ginger is a tropical plant. Although many people refer to it as ginger “root”, the part you eat is technically a rhizome. Rhizome is the botanical term for a swollen underground stem, in this case the juicy yellow portion, which has many culinary uses.
Fresh ginger is different from the ginger you find in the grocery store. When it’s young and freshly picked, ginger doesn’t have the fibers that you find in more mature ginger. This means you can slice or mince the entire rhizome, and use it in a stir-fry, or juice it for a spicy kick in any beverage. I like to make ginger tea (slice rhizome thinly, and steep in hot water for 10 minutes. Sweeten to taste with honey or sugar). After steeping, there’s still a lot of flavor in the pieces of ginger, so you can add them to a stir-fry, or stir them into yogurt.
You can find a number of recipes for fresh ginger on our web site (recipe blog). If you won’t use it all up this week, freeze it for future use. You can freeze the whole root (then grate as needed from the frozen piece), or mince (or slice) and freeze in small portions.
We leave a little bit of the green stem on our fresh ginger so you can tell it was just picked. The green stem part has a more subtle flavor than the root--not as spicy, and it tastes a little “green”. I like to toss the stems into a soup, use them in a soup stock, or steep them for a gentle tea.

Gala Apples
    This week, we’re offering gala apples grown by our friends Martin & Denise at Gala Springs Orchard. They grow a number of different varieties of apples and pears, which will appear in your box through the fall. Tom met Martin & Denise at the Beaverton Farmers Market, where we and they have been vendors for the past 20 years. Gala apples are quite sweet, and are good for fresh eating.  

Italian Plums
    Some of you may call these prune plums, and that is perfectly reasonable. Prune is a general term for a dried plum, and Italian plums are one of the varieties that are commercially grown for the dried prune industry. Although you could dehydrate these plums, they are quite nice eaten as a fresh plum. Plums continue to ripen after they are picked. I suggest eating the softest ones first, and leaving the rest on the counter for a few days until they are slightly soft.
    In the 1960’s, when Tom was a kid, Italian plums were grown on thousands of acres in the Willamette Valley, and everybody called them prunes, even when they were fresh. The prune industry died out here because every few years, a late frost during blooming time would wreck the crop. California now grows the majority of the prunes for the U.S. market.
 
Italian Parsley
    Continuing with the Italian theme, we have Italian parsley (also known as flat-leaf parsley). Italian parsley is essential in tabouli salad and chimichurri (a parsley-based green salsa from Argentina). Check our recipe blog (on the web site) for my favorite tabouli recipe, and Salsa Verde (a version of chimichurri).
My go-to dinner salad is a whole bunch of parsley (chopped) with sweet onion, cucumbers, tomatoes, and cooked garbanzo beans, dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Of course, this salad is great with cheese, but it’s not necessary for a satisfying meal. 

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018:  Week 14

In this box:
½# Salad Mix, 2 cucumbers, 2 Sweet Onions, 1 ½# Tomatoes (Sweet Girl or Roma), 3 Bell Peppers, 2# All Blue Potatoes, 1# Canadice Grapes, 1 ½# Asian pears (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!


Asian Pears!
    I’m excited about this week’s Asian pears, because I don’t think we’ve ever put them in the box before. A number of years ago, we planted a small pear orchard, and this is the first year we’ve had enough production to put them in “the box”. We have over 200 members, so that means we need at least 300 pounds of pears to put a reasonable share into each box. Each week, our farm crew harvests literally hundreds of pounds of pears, tomatoes, potatoes, grapes, cucumbers, salad mix, or whatever is going to be in your box that week. On corn weeks, we need at least 1500 ears of corn! When I think about it, I am in awe of the amount of food our crew picks, sorts, washes, and packs each week. My very next thought is gratitude for our dedicated farm crew who plant, tend, harvest, and pack the produce from our farm. They are an incredibly hard-working team, and we couldn’t do it without them! 
    But I digress. I was going to tell you about our Asian pears…. Our farm has always been diverse, and Tom is continually looking for new crops that might grow well here. About 8 years ago, we planted a small orchard of Asian and European pears.
       Since we farm without pesticides, it takes a lot of research, trial & error, and/or luck to figure out what varieties might thrive on our farm. Fortunately, the USDA Wold Pear Collection with hundreds of varieties is just a few miles down the road. The pears in the collection are not managed organically, but due to budget constraints, they are sprayed only infrequently.
 
   Tom spent several days over the course of a season looking at which trees seemed to be resisting pests and diseases, and tasting fruit (touch job, eh?). Joseph Postman, the curator of the collection, had some great suggestions of varieties we should try. Eventually, we planted about 160 trees. Our pear orchard is very near Hwy 20. You can see it if you drive past the farm on Hwy 20, across from the Children’s Farm Home. We planted a few trees each of a number of different European pears and Asian pears, and tried to achieve a harvest that extends from early summer through late fall.
    The pears in your box this week are Asian pears, which tend to be crisp and juicy. Many of the name tags have been lost, and several varieties are ripening together at this time, so we don’t know the name of the variety in your box. They should be ready to eat, even if they look green and feel hard. If you’re not going to eat them right away, best to store them in the refrigerator.
       We like to eat Asian pears out of hand like apples. They are also nice as a sweet, crunchy addition to a fruit salad, chicken salad, or (if you’re feeling nostalgic for an old fashioned recipe) try them in Waldorf salad.

V
acation Credits for Bulk purchases
    Many of you have been using your vacation credits at the Farmers Markets, but we realize some of you can’t easily get to the market, so we have an alternative way to use up your credits--they do need to be used before Thanksgiving.
       You can pre-order bulk quantities, and we will deliver with your Harvest Box on whatever delivery date is convenient for you.
       If you don’t have vacation credits available, you can purchase bulk quantities of these items as an “add-on” to your box. The cost of each is $20 (equivalent to one vacation credit).

 Here’s what we currently have available:
* “Seconds” Red Bell peppers--10# box
* canning tomatoes—15# box
* Roma tomatoes—10# box
* Basil--2#
In a few weeks, we’ll have storage onions, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and a few other items I can’t think of right now. You can always shoot me an email to inquire about an “add-on” of anything you see in your box that you want in bulk quantity for canning or freezing.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018:  Week 13

In
this box: 2 cucumbers, 6 ears Corn, 1 bunch basil, 1 garlic, 1# Zucchini, 2 Bell Peppers, 2# Roma Tomatoes, 1# Canadice Grapes, 1 pint Strawberries (weights are approx.). Everything is Organic!

Recipe of the year
    When I see a recipe that looks interesting, I might clip it from a magazine or copy it into my “must try this sometime” folder. Last week I had some roasted Roma tomatoes in the fridge, and (finally) tried a recipe that I clipped from the September 2010 issue of Bon Appetit. Now I wonder why I waited so long. This recipe is definitely a “keeper” in my kitchen, and I was excited when our crew told me we had enough Roma tomatoes for this week’s boxes. Here’s the recipe, (with just a few slight modifications).

Pasta with Roasted Tomato and Almond Pesto
Prep time: 75 minutes (mostly roasting time)
Active time: 5 minutes
Ingredients:
2 pounds Roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise. Remove white core at the stem end.
7 Tbs olive oil, divided
Salt
2 unpeeled large cloves garlic
1/3 cup whole raw almonds, divided
½ tsp crushed red pepper
2 Tbs chopped fresh basil
1 pound pasta—spaghetti, linguini, rotini, penne, or perciatelli (Rice pasta works fine!)
       Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place halved plum tomatoes, unpeeled garlic cloves, and 2 Tbs olive oil in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Toss. Arrange tomatoes (cut side down), and unpeeled garlic on a baking sheet with low sides, or 9 x 13” pan. Use a rubber scraper to drizzle all the olive oil from bowl over tomatoes. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove garlic, and turn tomatoes over to cut side up. Bake until tomatoes begin to brown in spots, but are still soft, about 30 minutes longer. Cool tomatoes on baking sheet.
       Meanwhile, spread almonds on a small baking sheet and toast in oven along side tomatoes until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool.
       Peel roasted garlic cloves. Place in food processor with 2/3 of the roasted tomatoes, ¼ cup toasted almonds (saving some for garnish), and crushed red pepper. Pulse to a coarse puree. With machine running, gradually add 5 Tbs olive oil.

       Coarsely chop remaining 1/3 of roasted tomatoes.
       Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water until tender, but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking liquid.
       Place pesto in large bowl. Stir in ½ cup pasta cooking liquid. Add warm pasta, chopped tomatoes, and basil. Toss gently. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Garnish with the rest of the chopped almonds.

Seedless Table Grapes
       There are an amazing number of different varieties of grapes in the world—far more diversity than your typical grocery store will display. Last week, your box had Interlochen grapes. This week’s offering is Canadice. Canadice is a cross between the native, disease-resistant, North American grape (Vitus labrusca) and French grapes (Vitus vinifera) giving it enough disease resistance for us to grow with our Organic, no-pesticides philosophy.
       Both Interlochen and Canadice grapes were bred in New York. They are disease-resistant, winter hardy, and seedless. We like seedless grapes, because we find them more pleasant to eat than grapes with seeds. One of the grandparents of Canadice is the Thompson’s seedless grape.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018:  Week 12
In this box: 2 cucumbers, 6 ears Corn, 1 red onion, 2# potatoes, 1¼# Sweet Girl Tomatoes, 1 box Padron peppers, 1# Interlaken Grapes, 1 pint Strawberries, 1 half-pint Raspberries (weights are approx.). Everything is Organic!

What to do with corn?
    I love fresh corn on the cob, and our family can eat quite a few ears that way. However, sometimes I have leftover corn. Then I enjoy adding the sweet kernels to other dishes. If you’ve never cut kernels off an ear of corn, look for some online videos—I started to write about the process, but realized a video would be much easier to understand.
       Once the kernels are off the cob, you can freeze them in a zip-top bag for later use, or turn them into corn salsa, add them to pancakes, vegetable soup, chili, or (one of my favoite dishes)…..
Black Bean Salad: Mix together in a large serving bowl 3 – 4 cups cooked black beans, kernels cut from 2 – 3 ears of corn, thinly sliced sweet onion (perhaps ¼ of an onion, or more/less depending on your preference), and several tomatoes cut in bite-sized pieces. Add salt, lime juice, and olive oil to taste.

When I have cucumbers, red onion, and tomatoes at the same time, I think “Greek salad”. All you need to complete the picture is some feta cheese, and olives. Dress with salt, oregano and olive oil. Sometimes I add a little lemon juice. There you have it…. cool dinner salad for a hot summer day.

Padron peppers 
    I wrote about Padron peppers in the Week 8 newsletter, so you can check there for a few more details. Here I will repeat only the most important detail—some Padron peppers are hot~some are not. If you like hot peppers, go for it. Use Padrons freely, as you would any hot pepper. If you are not fond of hot peppers, cook your Padron’s whole, and try a tiny bite from each one to see which are hot and which are mild. And share your meal with someone who likes hot peppers, so you can pass the hot ones off.

Plant Breeders
    In our business, very few things are as important as our ability to source plants and seeds that grow well and yield top quality fruit and vegetables. We owe the greatest respect and thanks to those who domesticated a wild plant into a useful food crop, or who improved an existing crop. This week's box has 4 vegetables that were domesticated by native North, Central, or South Americans before Columbus discovered the "New World".  The potato was domesticated by the Incas 10,000 years ago and was introduced to Europe in the sixteenth century by the Spanish.  Potatoes are now the leading vegetable crop, and of comparable importance to wheat, rice, and corn in feeding the world’s population.  Tomatoes were also domesticated in the Andes Mountains of South America centuries ago. Corn, another major world food crop was domesticated near Oaxaca Mexico before 5,000 B.C.  Sweet corn was bred much more recently by Native Americans in what is now the south eastern US.  Peppers were also domesticated in Mexico at least 9,000 years ago.
       Other important crops domesticated by Native American breeders include some we grow like squash, beans, nopales, sunflowers, and some we wish we could grow like chocolate, avocado, pineapple, & vanilla.
       All these crops have been continuously developed by plant breeders who have over the years selected for resistance to disease, insects, cold or drought. When Tom was studying vegetable crops in the '70s his professors said that flavor was not as important as looks and shelf life, because people could not taste produce before buying in the supermarket. Fortunately, that idea is obsolete, and modern breeders continuously seek to improve flavor of corn, tomatoes, strawberries, and other popular crops.
       Speaking of strawberries, 100 years ago strawberries were only available for a few weeks in the spring.  In the middle of the last century a California man named Driscol developed the "day neutral" (ever bearing) strawberry which could flower regardless of day length making strawberry production possible for most of the year.  We grow these “day neutral” berries, which is why we have ripe strawberries for you in August!
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018: week 11
 In this box: 1/2# salad mix, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 bunch Basil, 1 Eggplant, 2# Zucchini, 2 Bell peppers, 2# Roma tomatoes, 1 pint Strawberries, 1 half-pint Raspberries (weights are approx.). Everything is Organic!

Where are the greens?
       We grow a lot of fruiting vegetables and berries in the summer because those crops are very popular, but a healthy diet should include greens on a daily basis. This year, like most years, we planted several kinds of kale as well as collards, chard, parsley, spinach, cilantro, lettuce and cabbage for mid-summer harvest. Usually we have one or two kinds of leafy vegetables in the box each week and can rotate through our plantings so the selection varies.  This year most of those leafy crops are struggling. Hot weather also makes lettuce and spinach more difficult to produce because seed is germination less reliable when it’s hot and dry. This has also been a bad season for flea beetles, which attack kale and other brassicas during hot weather. Since we don’t use any pesticides, we live with occasional crop loss when insect damage gets out of control. The kale plants are still alive but the leaves look like lace because of the thousands of tiny holes chewed by the little beetles. We expect to eventually have plenty of greens once the weather cools down a bit in the fall, but we are in a “dry spell” for greens at the moment.

Roma tomatoes are sometimes called paste tomatoes because they have less juice and more dry matter relative to other tomatoes. This makes them better for turning into tomato paste because less liquid needs to be cooked away to make the sauce thick. Their drier texture can be nice also for homemade salsa, or for making dried tomatoes. Because they have less juice, Romas can be a little bland for fresh eating, but the flavors really develop when cooked or dried.
    Roasting is a delightful way to use Roma tomatoes. Slow roasting in the oven (without added moisture) caramelizes the natural sugars in the tomatoes, and results in a richly flavored tomato that can then be added to pesto, used for a tapenade, or just eaten as they are. Recipes vary widely in terms of oven temperature and cooking times. Just about any oven temperature (between 200 and 400 degrees) works—it just takes longer at lower temperatures. Since it’s hot these days, I’ll give you a higher temperature/shorter roasting time recipe originally from Corvallis food writer Jan Roberts-Dominguez.

Roasted Tomatoes: Preaheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut tomatoes in half (lengthwise), and trim the white core at the stem end. Drizzle about 2 Tbs olive oil onto a large baking sheet with sides. Place halved tomatoes cut-side down in the olive oil (some recipes call for keeping the tomatoes face up—it works either way). You can crowd them, but keep in a single layer. Roast 1 – 2 hours until the juices have evaporated so the bottom of the pan is relatively dry, and the tomatoes look collapsed. Remove from oven and cool. With a rubber spatula, scrape the cooled tomatoes, with all the browned bits and olive oil into a container and store in the fridge.

Slow Roasted Tomato Pesto (from Molly Wizenberg, A Homemade Life)
½ cup olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups packed basil leaves
2 pounds Roma tomatoes, roasted & cooled
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
       In the bowl of a food processor, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and garlic. Pulse until the garlic is finely chopped. Add the basil leaves and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the tomatoes and process well. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and pulse to combine. Taste, and adjust the seasonings as necessary.    
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018: week 10

In this box: 2 Cucumbers, 4 Jalapenos, 1 sweet onion, 1# mini peppers, 1 garlic, 2 Nopales pads, 2# yellow potatoes, 1.25# sweet girl tomatoes, 1 pint Strawberries, 1 half-pint Blackberries, (weights are approx.). Everything is Organic!

Nopales
    Yes, we can grow cactus in Corvallis! Prickly pear cactus actually grows well here, though it’s not very common. The Prickly pear cactus is also known as Nopal, and it has edible pads, called nopales.

Basic information about Nopales:
* When harvested, nopales have sharp spines on the pads. Our farm crew has taken the spines off for you (thanks!), leaving a “cleaned” pad that is entirely edible. Some recipes call for scraping the spines off and trimming the edges. You don’t need to do that with the nopales in your box.
* Nopales can be eaten raw or cooked (boiled, sauteed, or grilled).
* Nopales have a sour flavor, reminscent of a combination of sorrel and asparagus. They maintain some amount of crunchy texture even when cooked. I think they have a similar nature to dill pickles—sour and crunchy. They are often used in a salsa, condiment, or salad. They go well with all kids of eggs.
* When you cut them, they exude a sticky sap which dries up as they are cooked.
* If you have time, and the inclination, there are loads of web sites with recipes and more information about nopales.

Recipe suggestion: Nopales and tomato salad
I discovered this recipe on the Williams Sonoma web site, and modified it slighty to suit what’s in the box today.
1. Prepare cooked ingredients: peel and dice 1 – 2 cloves garlic. Cut 1 Nopales pad into ¼” pieces, chop ½ cup sweet onion, remove seeds and thinly slice 1 jalapeno pepper (can use more or less jalapeno to taste).
2. Heat 2 Tbs oil in a large, heavy fry pan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for a minute. Then add Nopales, onion, and jalapeno. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. The cactus will give off a sticky sap, but this will dry up with longer cooking. Uncover and continue to cook for 10 – 15 minutes longer, until the pan is dry and the onions are just starting to brown.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing: 1 tsp. dried oregano, 1/8 tsp. Dijon mustard, 2 Tbs cider vinegar, 2 Tbs canola oil, 1/8 tsp. salt. Place all ingredients in a small jar with a lid, and shake.
4. Place raw ingredients in a large bowl: Cut ¾ pound salad tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Add ¼ cup minced sweet onion.
5. Combine warm, cooked nopales/onions/peppers with raw tomatoes/onions. Toss gently with dressing. Add ¼ cup minced cilantro or Italian parsley if available. Add ¼ lb queso fresco if you like cheese.

Other ideas for Nopales:
* Substitute for pickle relish in a potato salad
* Cut into ¼# pieces and stir fry with potatoes and/or zucchini (with onions and garlic, of course).

Jalapeno Peppers

    Personally, I’m not a huge fan of jalapenos, but I like to have a few on hand to  add a little spice to chili or refried beans. If you can’t use your jalapenos this week, you can cut them in half, remove the seeds, and freeze in a zip-top bag or freezer container. Then you can use them a little at a time all winter.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018: week 9

In this box: 1 box Grape Tomatoes, 1 bunch Basil, 6 ears Corn, 1 bunch fresh Shallots, 1# Zucchini, 1 Red Bell pepper, 2# Red Gold Potatoes, 1 half-pint Black Currants, 1 half-pint Blackberries (weights are approx.). Everything is Organic!

Black currants
       For the benefit of those who didn’t read last week’s newsletter, I’ll repeat here just the most essential information about black currants--they are generally cooked and sweetened to taste: roll the berries off their stems into a saucpan. (Don’t worry about the dried flower, you won’t notice it once cooked). Add about 2 Tbs. of water to the saucepan, and bring to a boil. The water just keeps things from burning onto the pan. Simmer for 5 – 10 minutes, and sweeten to taste. “Sweeten to taste” varies quite a bit from person to person. If you’re new to black currants, I suggest starting with 2 Tbs. of honey, sugar, or maple syrup per basket of black currants. Taste a little bit, and see if you want to add more, adding 1 Tbs at a time until the sweet balances the tartness. Cook the berries before adding the sweetener.
       Our Corvallis Market Manager, Doug has been making black currant fruit sauce with 2 Tbs. maple syrup. Then mix the black currant syrup with yogurt, pour it on pancakes, or make a fruit fool (see last week’s newsletter for a recipe).

On the farm this week

    In addition to picking berries, tomatoes, corn, and zucchini – which need to be picked almost daily in this hot weather, our crew has been busy this week harvesting potatoes. We dig all our potatoes at one time, once their tops have dried and the potatoes have matured so their skins are dry. We haul the potatoes out of the field on trailers, and store them (unwashed) in a refrigerated cooler. They keep this way for a long time. Then when we need potatoes for our Harvest Boxes or for our Farmers Markets, we take what we need from the cooler, and wash the dirt off before sending them your way. In your kitchen, we suggest storing your potatoes in the refrigerator, and ALWAYS store them in the dark, or the skins will turn green. (Don’t eat green potatoes). The fridge is dark enough, because the light goes off when the door is closed.

Ripe bell peppers
    Fun fact: all colored bell peppers start their life as green peppers. You could say that green peppers are immature—though they are perfectly edible that way. When peppers are fully ripe, their true color is apparent, and they are sweeter, and loaded with Vitamins A & C.

Recipe idea for the week:
    Make pesto (there’s a recipe on our web site recipe blog, under basil). Cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces and steam or boil for 12 minutes, or until you can easily poke a knife into the middle of the pieces. Mix half the batch of pesto with boiled potatoes. Freeze any remaining pesto in a freezer container or zip-top plastic bag.
   
Green Shallots
    Here, the “green” refers to a fresh shallot, with the green tops still attached. The green shallot is a less mature version of the more familiar dried shallot that you find at the grocery store. Shallots can be used in the same way as a cooking onion—except you want to saute them gently, and stop short of browning them. I think shallots have an elegant nature. They are particularly nice sauteed in butter. Here’s another recipe inspiration for this week: Saute minced shallots in butter. When soft, add ¼ cup dry white wine, and reduce until the pan is nearly dry. Then add finely sliced zucchini, and stir until zucchini is tender. Add a handful of torn basil. Season with salt & pepper, and mix into a bowl of warm pasta. 
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018: week 8

In this box:  1# Sweet Girl Tomatoes, 1# Gold Medal Heirloom Tomatoes, 5 ears Corn, 1 Eggplant, 1 Sweet Onion, 2# Zucchini, 1 handful Padron Peppers, 1 half-pint Black Currants, 1 half-pint Blackberries (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Black currants
       We realize that black currants are a somewhat obscure fruit in this country, though they are familiar to many people who grew up in Russian and Eastern Europe. We think black currants are poised to become one of the new “superfoods”, because they are loaded with dark purple anthocyanins, vitamin C, and other health-promoting phytonutrients.  Since we knew we wanted to put them in our Harvest Boxes this week, we’ve been doing some fun recipe research and development. Black currants are quite tart by themselves, but adding sugar balances the tartness and really brings out their flavor. They are generally cooked (and sweetened), rather than just eaten fresh. They’re perfectly edible fresh, just VERY tart.
       I can’t remember how I stumbled on the idea of Black Currant Fool, but that’s my suggestion for using this week’s black currants. An odd name, perhaps, but I didn’t make it up. According to my 1975 edition of Joy of Cooking, “fool” is an archaic term of endearment. Maybe that’s enough explanation for the dessert name? Fruit Fool is a dessert I associate with England, because the only people I know who are familiar with Fruit Fool grew up in England. In the process of searching for recipes, I found a couple online posts by British cookbook author, Nigel Slater. I really enjoy his writings. Search “Nigel Slater Fool Recipe” for some fun reading.
       To make a Fruit Fool, sweetened fruit is just folded into whipped crea
m. It’s super simple, and (I think) an excellent way to showcase black currants.
Black Currant Fool
1) Pull stems from ½ pint black currants, and put them in a saucepan. Don’t worry about the tiny dried blossom on the other end. You’ll never notice them once cooked. Add about 2 Tbs water (just to keep them from scorching), and bring to boil, then simmer over low heat until you can easily crush the berries with a fork (about 5 minutes after they come to a boil).
2) Then add sugar to taste. We used ¼ cup honey, but you can use more or less to taste. Any kind of sweetener will do.
3) Thoroughly chill the sweetened, cooked fruit.
4) Whip 1 pint of heavy cream until the “soft peak” stage.
5) Gently fold the cream into the chilled fruit.
6) Spoon into individual dessert glasses, and chill until just before serving.
      
Padron peppers—some are hot, some are not!
       Padron peppers are interesting in a couple of different ways. Perhaps the most important thing to note is that some of them are quite spicy/hot, and some are completely mild. And there’s no way to tell which is which until you bite into them! In this way, it’s a bit of gastronomic roulette. My trick is to take a tiny bite from the tip. If it’s spicy, I hand that pepper to Tom who enjoys more heat than I.
       Also interesting is that Padrons are picked when they are very young, so you eat the whole pepper, seeds and all. The seeds are a little crunchy, but perfectly edible. You can eat everything but the stem.
    Commonly, Padrons are sautéed in olive oil with coarse salt until their skin is blistered, then (once cooled) you hold the stem and eat the entire pepper in one or two bites. I hear this is how they are traditionally served for tapas in Barcelona.
    You can also use Padrons as you would any green pepper, in a sauté of mixed vegetables with onions and other vegetables (zucchini and eggplant, perhaps). You can sauté them whole, or cut them into bite-sized pieces first.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018: week 7

In this box: 1 bunch Carrots, 1 Lettuce, 1 bunch Basil, 1 head Garlic, 1# Heirloom Tomatoes, 6 ears Corn, 1 pint basket plums, 1 half-pint Raspberries, 1 half-pint Blackberries (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!


Hot enough for ya?
       We are relieved to see temperatures are forecast to be in the 80’s for the next few days, after a week of temps in the 90’s.  We grow a lot of crops that enjoy warm weather: tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, basil, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, corn, figs, etc..  However, when temperatures excede 90 it can cause stress for the crops and the workers who tend them.  The heat challenge is compounded here because we grow many of these crops in passive solar greenhouses.  This helps them get off to a good start in our normally cool spring weather, but can push temperatures over 100 when it’s sunny and warm. Those temperatures can cause blossoms to drop off plants like tomatoes, strawberries, and peppers, reducing future harvests.  They can also trigger flowering in crops like spinach, lettuce, arugula, basil, and cilantro which stops our harvest of the leafy parts.

    Higher temperatures make everything ripen faster, so it takes our crew longer to get everything picked.  Long days picking in hotter conditions are hard for our crew.  Thankfully, many of them have been with us long enough to know this is a temporary challenge.  Like working in the rain, cold or mud, about the time we think we can’t stand any more the season has changed again.

    Hot weather can also shorten the shelf life of all produce once picked.  Greens and berries are especially vulnerable to spoilage when it’s hot, so we constantly shuttle them to our refrigerated storage as harvest progresses.  We retrieve the produce from our coolers just before we pack them into your boxes, so things may still be cool when you pick up your box.

In today’s box, tomatoes, garlic, and basil don’t need to be refrigerated. The rest of the items should go into your fridge as soon as possible. Even better, consider bringing a cooler with ice when you pick up your box on hot days and transfer things like berries, lettuce & corn directly into the cooler for the trip home.

Speaking of corn, this should be the first week of many with corn in the box. We have about 6 different plantings of corn, set to ripen successively over the next month or more. We enjoy corn husked, then boiled for 3 - 5 minutes and eaten straight (butter is, of course, optional). If I’m going to fire up the grill, I like to grill corn (with the husk on) for 25 minutes--turning the ears over after 15 minutes. Set your grill to medium, direct heat.

Heirloom Tomatoes – There are so many different varieties of tomatoes! Today’s offering is Purple Cherokee. Don’t wait for them to turn red, they are ripe when they are purple/green in color! I suggest slicing your tomatoes, and sprinkling with a dash of salt (or just a drop of balsamic vinegar) to bring out the flavor. Stored on the counter, your tomatoes should be good to eat any time over the next 4 or 5 days.

Beauty Plums
    Beauty plums are tough to transport when they are fully ripe, so if yours are firm, leave them on the counter to ripen for a few days. Once soft, however, you can store them in the fridge-unless you’re going to eat them right away.
    Beauty plums are VERY juicy! You might want to wear a bib, or at least lean over a plate if you don’t want plum juice all down the front of your shirt.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018:  Week 6


In this box: 1 bunch Carrots, 1 bunch Beets, 1 cucumber, 1 bunch green shallots, 1 bunch kale, tomatoes, 1 pint Strawberries, 2 half-pints Raspberries (weights are approx.). Everything is Organic!

Memories

Elizabeth is in Vermont this week, helping her mom who just moved back into the house where she grew up, so I am writing the newsletter.  Elizabeth says it is comforting how little has changed there in 50 years.  The wallpaper, linoleum, and plumbing fixtures are the same.  The town still has no traffic lights, and only one stop sign. Jean (Elizabeth’s mom) is happy to be in the house and on the land where her father once raised blueberries and apples, and collected lilacs.  There are still 90 different lilac varieties growing there.

There was a row of very fragrant lilacs at the house outside of Ithaca NY where I spent summers until I was ten.  The smell of lilacs always reminds me of that place, and the time spent there.  We had no TV then, or any neighbors closer than half a mile so my siblings and I spent a lot of time outdoors.  My parents bought that place which had been a subsistence type farm, from the aging owners in 1957 for $3,000, I was 2 years old.  Once there had been a few cows, pigs, chickens, some corn, hay, and vegetable garden, with rutabagas for a cash crop.  Things were pretty run down by the time my folks got it, and though we always called it “the farm” my parents did not farm it. The 1830’s vintage house, was suffering from a lot of delayed maintenance.  The barn, and other outbuildings were also showing their age, but we had many adventures discovering abandoned horse drawn equipment, swinging on the trapeze my dad hung in the hay loft, climbing in the corn crib, and up on the roof of what was once the chicken house.  We helped my folks fix up the house, a little bit at a time.  I suspect we were not as much help as we thought we were, but we learned how to paint, measure, saw, and pound nails.

The fields and pastures had been farmed until they lost productivity, then neglected.  When I was there, brush and trees were in the process of turning the fields back into forest. But some apple trees, rhubarb, asparagus, red currants, and grapes were still growing, untended and feral.  My mother made apple and rhubarb pies, currant and grape jelly.  The birds had planted cherry trees, and black raspberry bushes in the hedgerows, while wild strawberries and elderberries grew in the former pastures.  We kids would sometimes pick the wild fruit.  We ate as much as we turned in to my mom, who paid us a nickel a cup before making them into shortcake, jam, or pie.  There was also a garden where we learned what really fresh corn tastes like, and that if you don’t pull the weeds, there won’t be any carrots, and that green beans cooked just long enough squeak when you bite them.

Like the lilacs, the taste of black raspberries always brings up memories for me.  One taste of the small seedy, intensely flavored fruit sends me back to barefoot summer days catching crayfish in the creek, and fireflies in the evening.

One of the best parts of my job is when food we grow triggers memories for people from long ago.  “That tomato tastes like the ones my father grew in Nebraska.”  “Those grapes are like what we had in our back yard.”  “My neighbor had a mulberry tree which we sat in, eating until our hands and faces were purple.”  “My grandmother in Ukraine would preserve those berries in vodka and store them in the cellar to fight off colds in the winter.”  “Those beans are just like the ones my mom grew.  I haven’t tasted them in years, but we used to sit on the porch and talk while we snapped them.”  “We had those peppers in Macedonia and used them to make a special kind of preserve.”

I don’t want to live in the past, but I also don’t want to forget where I came from and how I got to be here.  Tastes and smells remind me not just of the foods I used to enjoy, but also the people who ate with me, where we were, and what we were doing.  It’s nice to remember the people and experiences that have nourished me.

Tom

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018:  Week 5

In this box: ½# Salad Mix, 1 bunch Basil, 1 Eggplant, 1# Sweet Girl Tomatoes, 2# Potatoes, 1 Red Onion, 3 or 4 White Zucchini, 1½# Romano Beans, 1 half-pint Raspberries (weights are approx.). Everything is Organic!

Eggplant
    Eggplants are thought to have originated in India or Myanmar. From there, they traveled along trade routes, arriving in Northern Africa and the Middle East by 900 AD.
    Versatile in the kitchen, eggplant features in Baba Ganouj, Moussaka, Ratatouille, and more. Although some recipes call for peeling, the skin is edible.
    Eggplants store best on the kitchen counter. However, they will lose moisture and become softer over time. If you’re not going to use your eggplant right away, it will keep best in the perforated “salad mix” bag. Conveniently, your salad mix will keep better if you transfer it to a regular (non-perforated) plastic bag or sealed tub.
Today’s box feels very “Mediterranean”— basil, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and onions are commonly found together in many dishes in countries around the Mediterranean. Especially if you have garlic and/or parsley left from last week’s box, you have the makings for a wide variety of Mediterranean-style dishes. Ratatouille recipes are quite variable. Some use parsley, others don’t. Some Ratatouille recipes call for cooking everything in a sauté pan on the stovetop, but other versions use the same ingredients cooked in a casserole dish in the oven, or even the microwave. We find the oven-version takes less hands-on time, because you don’t need to stand at the stove and stir.
Here’s Tom’s version of Ratatouille Casserole. This is a very flexible recipe. You don’t need a specific quantity of any ingredient. Just use what you have.
Ingredients & Instructions:
Cut ½ inch thick slices of eggplant, sweet onion, zucchini, and tomatoes. (Use approx. equal amounts of each). Place a layer of each in an oiled baking dish (eggplant on the bottom, tomatoes on the top). Sprinkle liberally with chopped basil.
Cover the top with grated cheese
Sauté some garlic in olive oil, then drizzle over everything. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or longer, until eggplant is very soft (poke it with a knife), and the cheese is bubbly. Cooking time is quite variable, depending on the thickness of the slices, and how many layers you use.

Last year I discovered Caponata, a slightly sweet-sour relish that is delicious spread on bread or just eaten straight. It’s my new favorite eggplant recipe.
Classic Caponata (modified from epicurious.com)
5 Tbs. olive oil
1 eggplant, cut in ½ inch cubes (the recipe says to peel it, but I never bother)
1 medium onion, cubed
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1# tomatoes, cubed (the original recipe calls for a 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes, but I think fresh is always better)
3 Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 Tbs drained capers (optional. I think the recipe works fine without them)
1/3 cup chopped basil
Toasted pine nuts (optional)
Preparation: heat oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add eggplant, onion, and garlic cloves. Sauté until eggplant is soft and brown, about 15- 20 minutes. Add diced tomatoes with juice, then red wine vinegar and drained capers. Cover and simmer until eggplant and onion are very tender, stirring occasionally (about 15- 20 additional minutes). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in fresh basil. Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018:  Week 4

In this box: 1 Lettuce, 2 Cucumbers, 1 bunch Italian Parsley, 1 head Garlic, 3# Fava Beans, 1 pint Sungold Tomatoes, 1 pint Mixed Cherry Tomatoes, 1 pint Strawberries, 1 half-pint Raspberries (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Let’s talk about Fava Beans….. They really should be more familiar, because they are versatile and tasty, but they are not commonly seen in grocery stores. They are very widely eaten in Europe and countries around the Mediterranean. In England, they are called Broad Beans. I picked up a new recipe idea this year from a Farmers Market customer who grew up in North Africa (see below). But first, some general information for people who have not cooked with fresh fava beans:

Although fava pods are edible, there are tough fibers down both sides of the pods. If you want to cook the pods with beans, pull or trim the stringy fibers off. Most recipes start by taking the beans out of the pods. You can do this either by scoring the length of the pod with a paring knife, or by snapping the pod at each bean and popping the bean out. Next, blanch the beans. Lower into boiling water for 3 minutes, then plunge into ice water to chill quickly. Then you can pop the inner bean out of the “skin”, or you can choose to use the bean with the skin on. You can taste a bean or two after blanching and see if you want to take the extra effort to pop off the outer skins.  If you do peel them, you get a milder flavor and a more tender bean, if you leave the peels on you get a more chewy texture, and the beans hold their shape better in the final dish. We have customers who swear you must take the skin off the bean and others who swear that is a waste and you should eat them, skins and all.  We think this choice should be up to you, but I will suggest my preference in the recipes below. 

Every year, I learn something new about fava beans. Just a few weeks ago, a customer at the farmers market who is from North Africa told me the way he cooks them, and it has opened a whole new perspective for me.  I had some of these fava beans for dinner last night, then put leftovers in the refrigerator for a mid-morning snack today!

North African Favas with Cumin
       I prefer to leave the skins on for this recipe—it helps the beans hold their shape and not stick to the pan, and the chewy texture makes the dish seem more hearty. First, take the beans out of the pod. Steam beans over boiling water for 3 minutes, then sauté in olive oil with salt, pepper, and cumin until slightly browned. I used a generous Tbs. of olive oil, and about ½ tsp each salt, black pepper, and ground cumin. The gentleman who shared the recipe with me wasn’t specific about the quantity of oil and spices, so feel free to adjust according to your personal taste.
      
Mediterranean Fava Bean Sauté (using fresh tomato) 
       Sauté lots of garlic (and onion if you have it) in a generous amount of olive oil until soft. Then add a handful of chopped cherry tomatoes. Add blanched fava beans (peeled or unpeeled), and a handful of chopped parsley or basil, cover and simmer until the tomato thickens into sauce, and the beans are tender (6-10 minutes, depending on the maturity of the beans). Add salt and pepper to taste.    
      
More recipe ideas for this week’s box, from our Recipe Blog (denisonfarms.tumblr.com):
* Quinoa Tabbouleh (uses cucumbers, parsley, and cherry tomatoes)
* Pasta Salad with Fava Beans (uses fava beans, cucumbers, and parsley. I suggest using peeled beans for this recipe.)
* Fava Beans with Yogurt & Lemon (Definitely use peeled fava beans for this recipe)
* And under the Parsley heading, try Salsa Verde!
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018:  Week 3
           
In this box: 1 Romaine Lettuce, 1 Cabbage, 2# Yellow Potatoes, 2# Romano green beans, 1 bunch Cilantro, 1# specialty zucchini, 1 Sweet Spring Onion, 1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, 1 half-pint Pink Raspberries (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
 
Today’s box has a couple of unusual varieties—including pink raspberries and specialty zucchini.

Pink Raspberries
    Yup, they’re supposed to be pink! There’s a lot more variety in the fruit & vegetable world than most of us realize. These pink raspberries are closely related to the more familiar red raspberry. They are quite delicate (which may be why they are not commonly in found in grocery stores). Please treat them gently, and refrigerate until you are ready to eat them. I find them slightly less tart than red raspberries, but they can be used in all the same ways—if you can get them home before eating them all.

Specialty zucchini
    And, in the zucchini family, there is so much more than just green…. you don’t find the full range of colors & shapes at the grocery store, but in the kitchen you can use them all like green zucchini. Some boxes today received “white” zucchini (which is pale green, and smooth-skinned), and some have a ribbed variety, called “Romanesco”.  The “white” zucchini tend to bruise, so they are not popular in commercial stores where durability is considered a virtue.

Cabbage
       One of the endearing qualities of cabbage is that it keeps for a long time. It will keep for a couple weeks in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, so you don’t need to be stressed about using it up this week. Cabbage is versatile in the kitchen, and can be made into a salad, or used in a stir-fry. Our recipe blog (denisonfarms.tumblr.com) has a number of my favorite cabbage recipes.
   
Cilantro
    We make a lot of fresh salsa in our house with just tomatoes, sweet onion, and cilantro, and you have all those ingredients in the box today! Tom likes to add a little salt, chili powder, and a squeeze of lime juice if you have some on hand.
Some of my other favorite uses for cilantro:
1. Chop it and use a handful as a garnish on top of soup or stir-fry.
2. Chop and toss into a pan of fried rice right before serving.
3. Substitute cilantro for basil in your basic pesto recipe. This is especially nice with pistachios instead of pine nuts. Add a couple slivers of fresh jalapeno or a sprinkle of cayenne if you like.

Storage tips:
       Potatoes should always be stored in the dark. Otherwise, they will develop a green tint under the skin, which is not good to eat. Today’s potatoes are thin-skinned, so they will lose moisture unless you keep them in a plastic bag or humid fridge “crisper” drawer. We store our potatoes in the refrigerator, in a plastic bag (to keep in moisture).
    Cilantro—I just heard the most wonderful storage tip for cilantro, which keeps best in a plastic bag as long as the leaves don’t touch the bag. Here’s how to make that work: wrap your bunch of cilantro loosely in a clean towel or paper towel, then put the towel-wrapped bundle in a plastic bag or plastic tub. Then store in the refrigerator. This technique keeps the cilantro from wilting without having the leaves in direct contact with the plastic bag.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018:  Week 2

In this box:
1 Green Lettuce, 2 Cucumbers, 1 bunch Spinach, 2# Romano green beans, 1 bunch Basil, 1 head fresh Garlic, 1 fresh Red Onion, 1 pint Strawberries, 1 half-pint Raspberries (weights are approx.)  Everything is Organic!
 
Romano Green Beans
    It seems our green beans are early this year. Green beans don’t like cold weather, so we never expect them before July. We must have been fortunate with our timing this year, because we have plenty of beans this week!
    Romano beans are also known as Italian flat beans. We like to grow them, not only because we like novel and unusual vegetables (though that is true), but because we think their flavor is superior to “regular” green beans. They also are more tender than more common green beans. This means you need to be cautious not to overcook them.
    Preparation (for all recipes) first snip or snap off the stem at one end, and cut or snap the beans into bite-sized pieces.
    Cooking suggestions: The simplest way we like to cook Romano beans is to steam them for 3 – 5 minutes, then drain off the water, and (optional) melt a little butter on them. Steamed Romano beans are good served immediately, or chilled and eaten as leftovers. Lately I’ve been using cold cooked Romano beans to dip hummus, as a healthier option than corn chips.
    Check our Recipe Blog for two more recipes: Green Romano Beans with Red Onion & Mustard Seed Vinaigrette, and Pan Fried Green Beans with Pad Thai Sauce.


Yes, we have a Recipe Blog!
    Launched last year, our recipe blog contains many of my favorite recipes from our newsletters. All the recipes are original, or adapted from a cited source to suit the particular vegetables we grow. I occasionally search in the Internet for new recipe ideas, but I want to caution you about just taking Internet information as truth. I was looking at “fresh Romano bean” recipes today, and the first one that came up said to boil the beans for 35 – 40 minutes! That’s completely inappropriate for the fresh green beans in the box today. It’s always safer to first search the recipe blog on our web site (from our home page, click on “recipe blog”, or go directly to the blog here). As with all new things, we’re still tweaking it a bit, and we appreciate your feedback. If you have difficulty finding recipes, please let me know and I will either email you a recipe, or add it to the blog.

Basil is for so much more than just pesto! For my pesto recipe, and also additional ideas about how to use basil, go to the Recipe Blog. Here are a few of my current favorite non-pesto ideas: 1) use basil leaves on a sandwich (instead of lettuce), 2) add torn basil leaves to a lettuce salad, 3) use all the ingredients of pesto, but skip the food processor. Toss freshly-chopped basil with a bowl of hot, drained pasta. Add a drizzle of olive oil, and sprinkle a few pine nuts on top. Cheese is optional. Add salt to taste.

Produce storage tips for the week

Basil keeps best at room temperature. The fridge is too cold, and it makes the basil turn black. However, basil is prone to wilting if you just leave it on the counter. We have good luck treating it like cut flowers; trim the ends and place stems in a jar of water. Then cover the bunch loosely with a plastic bag. Don’t close off the bottom of the bag, or it will be too humid and may get moldy. Basil can keep up to a week this way.

Cucumbers don’t like to be too cold either, but they lose moisture and get soft if just left on the counter. If you still have the perforated bag from last week’s salad mix, that is the ideal bag for keeping cucumbers crisp. In a perforated bag, your cucumbers should stay crisp on the counter for several days.

Fresh garlic: The garlic is “fresh” this week. Most garlic that is available in a grocery store has been dried after harvest. The fresh garlic today is still moist. DO NOT leave in a plastic bag, or it will get moldy. Best to store it in the refrigerator, or leave it out in the open on your kitchen counter.

Fresh red onion can be stored in the fridge, or on the counter. The green top can be used like a green onion.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2018:  Week 1 (June 5/6)
           
Welcome, and thank you for choosing to be part of our farm!

In this box:
½ pound bag Salad Mix, 1 Red Leaf Lettuce, 2 Cucumbers, 1 head Broccoli, 3 ea. Zucchini, 2# New Potatoes (Red Gold), 1 bunch Italian Kale, 1 pint Strawberries, 1 pint Cherries  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

      
Another Harvest Box season is underway, and we are excited to have lots of variety to fill this first box. Even cherries! Everything in the box was grown on our farm, and that will be the case many weeks. Occasionally, we collaborate with a few of our friends who have Organic farms to keep the box interesting and to increase the variety of produce from week to week. But we had plenty of our own fruits and vegetables this week!
       The cherries are a variety called Early Burlat, an heirloom French variety that is one of the earliest cherries to ripen. Tom planted a small orchard of 100 cherry trees in 1990 when he moved to this farm. We got married in the cherry orchard in 1996, when the trees were still very small. They are now mature trees with gnarly trunks, as tall as a house. Every year in late May, our crew covers the entire orchard with bird netting because the birds can eat an unbelievable amount of fruit. Covering the orchard is quite a production, with our entire crew easing a huge piece of bird netting over the trees with long poles, but it’s worth it. We have successfully thwarted the birds so far this year.
      
       If you’ve had our box before, you may recognize the Red Gold potatoes. If you are not familiar with them, read on. Red Gold is a cousin (in the Botanical sense) of Yukon Gold potatoes. That means they have an intermediate texture, somewhere between “waxy” (like a red potato) and “flaky” (like a russet). This intermediate texture makes them suitable for all sorts of cooking methods and recipes. You can steam them, boil them, or roast them. They work great in potato salad. I like to cut them into chunks, and steam or boil them until tender. Then serve with a little butter. They are also nice “smashed”: boiled then mashed into a somewhat chunky mashed potato. The only thing I don’t recommend is baking them whole, because they won’t have the flaky texture that you get from a russet.
       As I look at the box contents, and wonder how I might use things, I think I would combine the Italian Kale into a “greens & potato” dish. I would slice the kale into ribbons, and steam or sauté until tender (about 5 minutes). Cut the potatoes into bite-size chunks, and steam or boil until tender. Then mix the two together, and season with salt, pepper. Now that I think about it, I would probably sauté the kale in olive oil first, so that it will have extra flavor.

Salad Mix and berries are perishable. For best quality, refrigerate them as soon as you get home. Berries will keep best if they are not rinsed until just before you eat them. The salad mix is packed in a ventilated plastic bag, with little holes. Please transfer it into a non-ventilated bag, or better yet, a sealed plastic tub, to keep it from wilting. The important thing about salad mix is to keep it humid, but not sitting in water. Some people find it best to rinse right away, and spin it in a salad spinner. Then put a paper towel or tea towel in the bottom of a plastic tub (to absorb excess water, and keep the leaves from sitting in water), and store the salad greens on top of the towel.

Box logistics:
* You can take the tub home, or transfer everything into your own bags & coolers at the pick-up site and leave the tub there. If you take the tub home, please bring it back next week, empty and rinsed.
* If you forget your box, check your confirmation letter for late pick-up options. The details about late pick-up vary depending on which pick-up location you have.
* If you have any questions, problems, or concerns, please email me at denisonfarms@peak.org.
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