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Denison Farms

2015 Denison Farms Newsletters

Last year's newsletters are linked to the table below. Click on a week, or simply scroll down to view all our Harvest Box newsletters from 2015.


week 1
week 2
week 3
week 4
week 5


week 6
week 7
week 8
week 9


week 10
week 11
week 12
week 13
week 14


week 15
week 16
week 17
week 18


week 19
week 20
week 21
week 22


week 23
week 24
week 25
week 26




Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015:  Week 26 (November 24)

Next year’s Harvest Box brochures will be mailed in February. The weekly box starts again in June.      

In this box: ½# Salad Mix, 1 bunch Celery, 1 bunch Kale, 1 Onion, 2½# Sweet Potatoes, 1 Sunshine Squash, 5 Persimmons: see Week 23 Newsletter for persimmon recipes., 1 or 2 Bell Peppers, ¼# Fresh Ginger, 2# Gold Rush Apples  (From LaMancha Orchard)  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
 Thank you
    As we pack this final Harvest Box of the season for you, we are grateful for many things: for our dedicated farm crew who plant, tend, harvest, and pack your boxes every week; for the land we live on and the mild climate that makes it possible to produce such bounty; and for you, our members and friends, who care enough to make a commitment to eat local, organic, in-season produce! It is with mixed feelings that I write this final newsletter. We’re looking forward to a few months of a lighter work schedule, but we’re going to miss the weekly connections with you, and the good feeling we get from knowing that our food is sustaining your families. Thank you.
Pumpkin Pie – with Sunshine squash
    First, bake your 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 it is tender, and soft when you press with a finger.  Cool & scoop out the flesh, leaving the skin. Mash or puree in a food processor. Use in any recipe calling for “canned pumpkin”.  If you don’t mind a little texture, you don’t need to discard the skin. Purée it with the flesh.
For pumpkin pie, substitute 2 cups of squash purée for a can of pumpkin in your favorite pumpkin pie recipe. You may be able to cut down on the amount of sugar, as sunshine squash purée is sweeter than canned pumpkin. My favorite pumpkin pie recipe comes from my 1975 edition Joy of Cooking: Line 10-inch deep-dish pie pan with dough. Preheat oven to 425o
Mix until well blended:
2 cups cooked squash
1½ cups undiluted evaporated milk or rich cream (also works with canned coconut milk!)
¼ cup brown sugar & ½ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ginger, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg or allspice, and 1/8 teaspoon cloves
2 slightly beaten eggs
    Pour the mixture into the pie shell. Bake 15 minutes at 425o, then reduce heat to 350o and bake about 45 minutes longer or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Serve with sweetened whipped cream.

Fresh Ginger: Try adding ginger to your pumpkin pie! More recipes & ideas can be found in Week 20 newsletter.

Sweet Potatoes don’t like to be cold. They keep best at room temperature. Here’s a great tip for perfect sweet potato fries: cut into sticks or cubes and coat with a little cornstarch before adding olive oil and roasting. The cornstarch coating makes them crispy and keeps them from sticking to the pan.

Gold Rush Apples—Intensely flavored, these are amazing in a pie or applesauce. Their flavor mellows with storage, as the tartness fades, and the balance of sweetness is more noticeable. Store in the fridge up to 2 months.

You can find our produce at the following Farmers Markets through the winter:
* McMinnville Grange Farm Market:  Every Saturday, all year, indoors, at the McMinnville Grange Hall.    Winter hours from 10-2. www.facebook.com/McMinnvilleGrangeFarmMarket
* Corvallis Indoor Winter Market starting January 16. Open every Saturday through April 9, in the Guerber Building (indoors), Benton County Fairgrounds. www.facebook.com/Corvallis.Indoor.Winter.Market for more info.
* Beaverton Winter Saturday Farmers Market (outdoors), 1st & 3rd Saturdays, starting in February. www.beavertonfarmersmarket.com

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015:  Week 25 (November 17th)

In this box: 1 bunch Mizuna, 1 Cabbage, 1 bunch Beets, 2# Potatoes, 1 Delicata Squash, 1# Tomatoes, 2# Carrots, 2 Leeks, 2# Liberty Apples (From LaMancha Orchard)   (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
Next week will be the last box of this season!
    The end of the Harvest Box season is coming. Next week will be the LAST BOX of the season. We will pack everything in bags inside the plastic tub, so you can leave the tub at your pick-up site. Please return all empty tubs when you pick up your last box.
     If you want to exchange your vacation credits for storage produce, you can request a box of storage vegetables by this Sunday, to be dropped with your box next week.
     Thank you for choosing to fill your kitchen and feed your family with local, organic produce!

    Mizuna is one of the mildest-flavored greens in the mustard family. You can eat it raw in a salad, or cook it as you would spinach. Like spinach, mizuna is very tender, and cooks quickly to a soft texture. I like to steam mizuna, and serve it with a drizzle of sesame oil or balsamic vinegar, or saute it, and use as a filling for an omelet, crepe, or lasagne. Mizuna is also very nice if you chop it finely and toss a handful into a large bowl of steamy, brothy soup just before serving.

Let’s talk about PIE!
       If you don’t like making pie crusts, you can buy a ready-to-fill pie crust, or omit the piecrust entirely, and bake the following recipes as custards or “crustless quiches”.
Leek Pie
This recipe came from one of our Corvallis market customers. Thanks Wendolyn!.
2 large leeks, cleaned and sliced into thin rings (use the white part and inner green leaves)
2 Tbs. butter
½ lb. Crumbled Roquefort or grated gruyere cheese
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup plain yogurt or heavy cream
pie dough for a double crust pie
       Sauté leek rings in butter on medium heat for 30 minutes. (Yes, 30 minutes! Cover if it seems to be getting too dry). Add cheese, egg, and yogurt or cream. Pour into pie crust. Cover with top crust. (The top crust is optional). Bake at 350o for 35-40 minutes.

Elizabeth’s Indonesian Leek Pie
    I created this one when we were looking for some satisfying cheese-free ideas for our family. We served it when some friends from Indonesia were over and they said it reminded them very much of a recipe from their homeland.
2 large leeks, cleaned and sliced into thin rings       
2 Tbs. butter or coconut oil                  
½ tsp salt                          
1 large or 2 small eggs, beaten                  
½ can coconut milk                      
grated rind and juice of 1 large lemon or 2 limes      
pie crust (either single or double crust)          
Sauté leek rings in butter with salt over medium heat for 30 minutes. Add coconut milk, eggs, lemon or lime juice, and grated lemon/lime rind. Pour into pie crust. Cover with (optional) top crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Beet Green Pie
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Saute 1 cup chopped onion & 1 clove minced garlic in 2 Tbs. cooking oil until browned. Rinse 1 bunch Beet Greens, & chop coarsely. Add to saute pan. Cook for 5 minutes or until wilted. Beat 6 eggs in a bowl. Add 1 cup shredded cheese, and 1 tsp. salt. Stir in cooked vegetables. Pour into 2 cooked pie crusts. Bake 30 – 40 minutes (at 400 degrees) until the center is firm.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 24 (November 10)
In this box: ½# Salad Mix, 1 bunch Spinach, 1 Bunch Arugula, 1 Fennel, 1 Onion, 1 Sunshine Squash, 1 box Cherry or Grape  Tomatoes, 1# Roma or Beefsteak Tomatoes, 2# Cameo Apples (Gala Springs Orchard)     (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
The end of the Harvest Box season is coming. After this week, there are 2 more boxes. For the last week, we will pack everything in bags inside the plastic tub, so you can leave the tub at your pick-up site. Please return all empty tubs when you pick up your last box.
     If you want to exchange your vacation credits for storage produce, send me an email soon so we can coordinate that before the end of the season.

One-pan pasta
    I was listening to Americas Test Kitchen on OPB Sunday night, and heard a great idea that would work with this week’s Harvest Box. They were discussing the concept of “one-pan pasta”—where you cook a simple sauce in the same pot and at the same time as you cook your pasta. If you start with just enough water to cover the pasta, everything works out perfectly. Clean up is a cinch, because you don’t even use a colander to drain the pasta. The idea is not new. Americas Test Kitchen published an article with a number of recipes 8 years ago (I have not yet had time to look up the original article). However, interest has surged recently and the one-pan-pasta concept has apparently gone viral among food bloggers after appearing in a Martha Stewart Living magazine in June 2013. Enough background, how about a recipe! The original Martha Stewart recipe follows:
* 12 ounces dry linguine,
* 12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved,
* 1 onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups),
* 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced,
* ½ tsp. red pepper flakes,
* 2 sprigs basil,
* 2 Tbs. olive oil, and
* 4 ½ cups water in a large pot.
    Combine all ingredients in a large pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes. Season with salt & peppers, divide among 4 bowls, and garnish with basil leaves. Serve with additional olive oil and Parmesan cheese.
Variation 1: Since basil is no longer in season, you could substitute some pesto from your freezer, or dried oregano for the fresh basil.
Variation 2: One recipe I saw suggested stirring in chopped spinach for the last few minutes of cooking time.
Variation 3: Use your roma or beefsteak tomatoes instead of cherry or grape tomatoes. Blanch them for 1 minute in boiling water, and peel them before chopping & adding them to the pasta pot.

Fennel—Easy Baked Fennel: Rinse & slice 1 large fennel bulb in ¼ inch slices. Layer fennel in an 8 x 8 inch baking dish, sticking 2 or 3 cloves of peeled, sliced raw garlic, and a generous handful of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese among the fennel slices. Drizzle 2 Tbs. olive oil over the top. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes. It’s done when the fennel is very tender.
    Fennel is an essential ingredient in Pasta con le sarde (Pasta with Sardines)—the national dish of Sicily. I had a fun afternoon searching the Internet for specific recipes, and recommend “Sicilian-Style Pasta with Sardines” at epicurius.com. Tom & I made this for lunch today. It’s quick, and delicious.

    If you like the peppery flavor of arugula, it’s nice as a salad. The bold flavor of arugula pairs particularly well in a salad with goat cheese (chervre) and toasted walnuts or hazelnuts. Persimmons are nice in a salad with arugula, if you have any left from last week’s box.
       If the flavor of arugula is a little too intense for you, it becomes much milder when wilted or cooked slightly. It is tender, so it doesn’t take much cooking. I like to make arugula pesto by substituting arugula for basil in a basic pesto recipe.
Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015:  Week 23 (November 3)
There are 3 more boxes in this season!

In this box: 1 Lettuce, 1/2# Spinach, 2# Carrots, 2# Purple Viking Potato, 1 bunch Purple Kale, 1 Leek, 1 Acorn Squash, 6 Fuyu Persimmons, 2# Jonagold Apples (from LaMancha Orchard)     (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Fall weather
    Here it is the first week in November, and we have yet to have our first frost. Up until last week, the weather had been remarkably dry (for October), which allowed us to get next year’s garlic and fava beans planted without undue mud. However, with last weekend’s rain (and the time change), it’s really feeling like late fall. We are grateful for every moment of sunshine, as we readjust our daily routine to accomdate shorter days and more frequent rains. Grateful, too, to live in a climate where we can grow food all year-round, and where there are people like you who appreciate our efforts!

Jonagold Apples  
    We are happy that our friends with orchards grow so many different kinds of great apples. This week’s selection is from David & Anita, at LaMancha Ranch & Orchard. David & Anita are known for growing excellent quality apples and hazelnuts on their farm in the Cascade foothills above Sweet Home. If you get to the Saturday Farmers Markets in Corvallis, Newport, or Portland (PSU campus), be sure to pick up some of their extraordinary hazelnuts. We wait all year for their hazelnuts to be ready in October, and we usually stock up on a case of them to get us through the year!
       Jonagold is a sweet apple. They are great for fresh eating, and also for baking. You may notice a hint of the flavor of Golden Delicious—which is one of the parents of this variety.

Fuyu Persimmons
       When persimmons are unripe, they are astringent. (Astringency makes your mouth feel fuzzy). Fortunately, fuyu persimmons lose their astringency while they are still somewhat firm—so you can eat them over a broad range of textures, from crunchy like an apple to jelly-soft.  (Other varieties, including the familiar Hachiya persimmons must be as soft as jelly before they lose their astringency).
       Opinions vary (as do individual sensitivities to astringency), but I think Fuyu persimmons are at their best when they are as soft as an avocado or a ripe peach. I suggest leaving your persimmons on the counter (out of the bag so you can keep an eye on them) for several days to become a bit softer. Wait until the fruit yields slightly to thumb pressure. It’s the same feel as if you were testing an avocado for ripeness.
       Color isn’t the best judge of ripeness. When ripe, Fuyu persimmons can vary in color from deep dark orange, to a lighter yellow-orange, or greenish-yellow. The color has more to do with whether the fruit was hidden by leaves during the growing season. The slightly greenish ones won’t turn bright orange as they soften, though the green tint may fade toward yellow.
       I suggest leaving your persimmons on the counter at room temperature until each fruit reaches that slightly-soft feel. Then refrigerate each fruit until you’re ready to eat it. They are not terribly perishable, so you have several days’ leeway here.
       To serve Fuyu persimmons: cut off the calyx (at the stem end), then cut each persimmon into wedges. The skin is edible, but some people prefer to remove it. 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.

Carrots—I printed my favorite carrot soup recipe a few weeks ago. You can find it on our web site under CSA Newsletters (this year): Week 21.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015 Week 22 (October 27)
There are 4 more boxes this season

In this box: 1/2# Salad Mix, 1 Butternut Squash, 6 Anaheim peppers—these may look like sweet Italian peppers, but they have a little hotness to them. Good in a stir-fry, refried beans, or chiles rellenos, 1 Fennel bulb, 1# Sweet Girl Tomatoes, 1 Cooking onion, 2# Sweet Potatoes, 2# Pears (from Gala Springs Orchard), 2# Cameo Apples (from Gala Springs Orchard)  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
Vacation Credits
     If you have Vacation Credits but can’t get to the Farmers Market to use them, you can order a box of storage vegetables to be delivered with your Harvest Box some week.
   You can place an order for a $20 box of any of the following (sorry, no mixed boxes): Potatoes (red, white, or purple), Carrots, Storage onions, Persimmons, Cabbage, Beets, Italian Peppers, or Bell Peppers.
   If this interests you, send me an email to place your order.

Butternut Squash  
       I find Butternut one of the most versatile squashes in the kitchen. It’s easy to peel, and it’s great in a curry or stew, because cut pieces will keep their shape when cooked. Like all winter squashes, Butternut keeps best at room temperature—don’t refrigerate winter squashes. Here are a couple of my favorite ways to use Butternut. I almost hate to admit that Tom & I ate an ENTIRE butternut squash cut in cubes & roasted the other night!  
Roasted Butternut Squash: (from Whole Foods Market October newsletter 2009)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Halve squash lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out and discard the seeds.
2. Peel with a vegetable peeler or cut into big chunks and keep steady on the cutting board while cutting off the peel with a knife.
3. Cut into 1” cubes. Transfer to one or two really large, rimmed baking sheets. The final results will be best if the squash is only 1 layer thick. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread out in a single layer. Roast, turning occasionally, until golden brown, and very tender, This takes at least 60 minutes. The longer they cook, the sweeter they become.
Butternut squash is also excellent for making soup. Here’s my favorite Butternut Soup recipe:  Peel and cube 1 medium Butternut squash. (Peeling is optional, as it will be puréed later). Cook for 25 minutes in 5 cups of stock or water. Sauté 1 large chopped onion and 1 tsp dried thyme in 2 Tbs. oil. Add to squash. Cool and purée the squash, stock, and onions. Melt 4 Tbs. butter. Stir in ¼ cup flour and cook 2 minutes. Add ¾ cup cream (or non-dairy milk). Add this “white sauce” to soup. Add 1 tsp salt, and ½ tsp tamari. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking. Garnish with ½ cup sliced and toasted almonds and black pepper to taste.

Fennel is in the same botanical family as celery, and I often use fennel as I would use celery—slicing the bulb thinly or chopping it as a crunchy addition to a potato salad or a raw veggie tray. Fennel fronds are nice in a tuna salad, green salad, or smoothie. You can slice the leaf stalks very thinly and use them as well as the bulbous base.
       As with celery, fennel is also good for cooking. Fennel smells & tastes vaguely of licorice. This flavor is less obvious once it is cooked. Fennel bulb is nice in a stir-fry, or can be sliced or chopped and added to any soup or stew. While fennel doesn’t actually thicken a soup, it adds a subtle body and sweet flavor to brothy soups.
    Many recipes will call for using only the white bulb part of the fennel, but we use most of the leaf stalks and fronds as well. The leaf stalks tend to be fibrous unless they are minced finely (by hand or in a food processor). Once minced, you can add leaf stalks & leaves to spaghetti sauce, chili or a bean soup. Because they have a slight anise (or licorice) flavor, they are particularly nice in spaghetti sauce, and you can hide quite a large amount of greens in dinner this way.

Cameo Apples—these are a wonderfully crisp, juicy, sweet apple from our friends at Gala Springs Orchard. I think these are one of the best for fresh eating. Store all apples in the refrigerator, or they will get soft.

Sweet potatoes, however, keep best at room temperature. Store them on your kitchen counter until you want to cook them.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015:  Week 21 (October 20)
There are 5 more boxes in this season!

In this box: 1/2# Spinach, 1# Roma Tomatoes, 2# Carrots, 1 Leek, 2# Red Potatoes, 1 Cabbage, 1 bu Red Chard, 2 Red Bell peppers, 2# Liberty Apples (from LaMancha Ranch & Orchard)  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Vacation Credits
     If you have Vacation Credits but can’t get to the Farmers Market to use them, you can order a box of storage vegetables to be delivered with your Harvest Box some week.
   You can place an order for a $20 box of any of the following (sorry, no mixed boxes): Potatoes (red, white, or purple), Carrots, Storage onions, Persimmons, Cabbage, Beets, Italian Peppers, or Bell Peppers.
   If this interests you, send me an email to place your order.
    One of the things I like best about cabbage is that it keeps for weeks in the refrigerator. This means you don’t need to fret about using it all up this week. Cabbage just sits, patiently, waiting for the day when you need that perfect, crunchy vegetable for a stir-fry or soup or hearty salad. I don’t know about your cooking habits, but that’s pretty useful in my kitchen. My only cautionary note: don’t shred you cabbage until right before you need it. Once cut, the exposed edges will develop a bitter flavor. This happens to all the members of the cabbage family (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, and collards), but is most noticeable in cabbage.
    Here is one of my favorite recipes for cabbage, and some variations:
Braised Cabbage and Leeks
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large leek, halved, rinsed, and thinly sliced crosswise
1½ pounds green cabbage (about ½ medium head), halved lengthwise, cored, and thinly sliced crosswise
½ cup chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper, and lemon juice (optional)
   Heat oil in a large non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add leek. Cook until soft (1-2 minutes). Stir in cabbage, and add stock. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until cabbage is slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in ½ tsp salt, and season with pepper. Garnish with a dash of lemon juice (optional).
Variation 1: If I’m in the mood to change it up a bit, I omit the chicken stock, and use ¼ cup (total volume) of soy sauce, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, fresh ginger, and/or mirin (rice wine vinegar) for a teriyaki flavor. I like to cook this until the sauce reduces to a glaze, about 10 min.
Variation 2: Substitute white wine for some of the chicken stock.
Variation 3: If you believe that everything is better with cheese, go ahead and grate some cheese on the top. I suggest something like Gruyere.

My Favorite Carrot Soup…from Moosewood Cookbook (Mollie Katzen, 1977)
2 pounds carrots, scrubbed and chopped      
4 cups water or stock      
1 ½ tsp. salt                  
optional: 1 medium potato, chopped (for heartier soup)
1 cup chopped onion                  
1-2 small cloves crushed garlic              
1/3 cup chopped almonds  
* Bring carrots, stock, salt, and optional potato to a boil. Cover and simmer 12-15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
* Sauté onion, garlic, and chopped nuts in 3-4 Tbs. butter with a little salt, until onions are clear. Toss in some grated fresh ginger if you have some from last week’s box!
* Purée everything in a blender until smooth. Return the purée to a kettle or double-boiler and whisk in one of the following: 1 cup milk (or dairy-free milk), or 1 cup yogurt, or ½ pint heavy cream, or ¾ cup sour cream.
* Heat very slowly. Season with a dash of sherry, or 2 pinches nutmeg with ½ tsp. dried mint and a dash of cinnamon. Garnish with toasted nuts.

Liberty Apples from David & Anita at LaMancha Ranch & Orchard in Sweet Home. Liberty apples have that perfect crisp/juicy texture and sparkly sweet-tart flavor that makes them so popular. They are great for fresh eating.
Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015:  Week 20 (October 13)
There are 6 more boxes in this season

In this box: 1/2# Salad Mix, 1# Roma or Sweet Girl Tomatoes, 1 Sweet Onion, 1 Delicata Squash, 1 bunch Gold Beets, 1/3# HOT Peppers, 1 bunch Lemongrass, 1 piece Fresh Ginger, 1 basket Strawberries, 2# Concord Pears (from Gala Springs) (weights are approx.)  Everything is Organic!

Fresh Young Ginger  
    Fresh young ginger does not have the fibers and thick skin found in mature ginger, so it doesn’t need to be peeled, just gently scrubbed clean of any dirt. Then you can slice or mince the entire root, and try any of the following:
* Toss it into a stir-fry along with your garlic & onions
* Mix into the batter of molasses cookies or substitute for dried ginger in gingerbread
* Look up a recipe for Pad Thai sauce or Teriyaki sauce. Add 2 Tbs minced fresh ginger
* Slice thinly, and simmer in water for 10 minutes to make a potent ginger tea. If you are using the whole piece of root, I suggest using at least with 2 quarts of water. Sweeten to taste. Drink hot, or mix chilled tea with soda water for quick ginger soda!

    If you aren’t going to use your ginger this week, it will keep best in the freezer. Freeze either the whole root, or cut into smaller pieces. When you want a few slivers of ginger to flavor a stir-fry or make some tea, slice just what you need off a frozen piece, and return the rest to the freezer for another day.   
Ginger syrup: after making ginger tea, there is still lots of great flavor left in the ginger pieces. Return the strained ginger pieces to the pot. Add ¼ cup water, 1-2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, and ¼ cup sugar. Simmer 10 minutes, then cool. Serve ginger syrup over ice cream, mix with plain yogurt, use to top a cheesecake, mix with sliced (or quartered) strawberries, or toss with pears in a pear crisp. If you add more sugar, and less water, you can cook it down until it’s “candied”, spread on parchment to cool. Voila, Ginger candy!

    Here’s something that you don’t often see growing in the Pacific Northwest! Lemongrass is a tropical grass that is a common ingredient in Thai cooking. Usually, the solid portion of the base is used in Thai soups and curry pastes. The tops are used for tea. Lemongrass is quite fibrous, so you eat it only if it’s minced very finely. Generally, the outer layer or two of the base is removed before mincing the more tender inner bits. For recipe ideas, google Tom Kha Gai (Thai coconut chicken soup).
    You make tea from the tops, and any part of the base that is too tough to mince. For tea, I suggest snipping about 4-inches off the top of the bunch per quart of water. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. You can leave the bunch out on your kitchen counter to dry. It will make great tea when fresh or dried.

Hot Peppers: This week’s box has a handful of either Serrano or Jalapeno red peppers. These are both HOT peppers, so be careful when cutting them up. If you’re not going to use your ginger & lemongrass for curry paste (see below), you can freeze or dry your hot peppers, and use a little at a time to spice up winter stews & chili. Hot peppers are easy to freeze in a zip-top plastic bag. I suggest cutting them up enough to take the seeds out first. When frozen, you can just slice off just as much as you need at a time.
Fresh Curry Paste
    In a food processor, blend together: 4-5 Serrano peppers or 1 Jalapeno pepper, 3 cloves garlic, tender parts from bottom 4-inches of 2 lemongrass stalks (mince before adding to processor), 2-inch piece of fresh ginger root, and ¼ of a sweet onion (use just enough onion to moisten the curry paste so everything blends well).  If you can find cilantro roots or fresh turmeric, add them as well. Blend until smooth. Add a generous spoonful to a stir-fry, or add 2 giant spoonfuls to a soup. This is excellent with a coconut milk-based soup.

Gold Beets are similar in taste to red beets, but I find them a bit sweeter, and less “earthy”. I suggest roasting your beets, cut in chunks (because they are so large). Roasted beets are very flexible with cooking time & temperature. Just cut into chunks, toss them with olive oil (and a little salt, pepper, and rosemary or balsamic vinegar if you wish), and bake until tender or crispy (depending on how long you leave them in the oven). You can roast them at any temperature from 350 to 400 degrees.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 19 (October 6)
There are 7 more weeks in this season!

In this box: 1/2# Spinach, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 box Cherry Tomatoes, 1 Garlic, 1 Sweet Onion, 3# Yellow potatoes, 1 bunch Kale, 1 Acorn Squash, 1 basket Strawberries, 2#Winter Banana apples (from Gala Springs) (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
Winter Banana Apples  
       I have no idea why these apples are called “Winter Banana”—they are an early apple, not a storage apple to be eaten in the middle of winter, and they don’t remind me of bananas—though you can take a good sniff when you open the bag, and decide for yourself. However, that’s what they are called. These apples (as well as the Gala Apples you saw in September, and last week’s pears) are grown by our friends Martin & Denise at Gala Springs Ranch & Orchard. Their grandsons are about the same age as our sons. Years ago, before our kids were busy with their own activities, our older son, Carson would go to the Beaverton Market with Tom on Saturdays. He would hang out with Martin & Denise’s grandkids. Though our kids haven’t seen each other for years, we still feel a bond with their family.
       Winter banana apples have a very dense texture, and a mild sweet/tart flavor. They are nice eaten fresh or used for cooking. When cooked, they soften into a smooth applesauce. Here’s how I make applesauce: cut apples into quarters and remove the core. Peel if you like. Then cut each quarter into small pieces and put in a saucepan with a little bit of water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat low, cover the pot, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and mash. Sweeten to taste.

Wednesday is National Kale Day
    So, I just had to include kale in the box today! Here are my all-time favorite ways to use kale:
1. Sauté kale in olive oil with sweet onion. Season with salt & pepper, or balsamic vinegar, or soy sauce & a splash of rice vinegar. Enjoy as a side dish.
2. Sauté kale in a little olive oil, with garlic & sweet onion. When wilted, pour beaten eggs into the pan, and enjoy extra-healthy scrambled eggs.
3. Chop coarsely, and add to a soup—this is particularly nice a soup of white cannellini beans or lentils.
4. Add kale to your favorite version of macaroni & cheese (cook it with the pasta)!

Acorn squash
    This is a classic, and quite well-known winter squash, also called Danish squash. It is used most frequently as a stuffed squash—probably because its shape makes it difficult to peel.  And isn’t life good any time you can eat dinner out of a “boat”? To make stuffed Acorn squash, cut your squash in half & scoop out the seeds, then fill the cavity with anything from a Thanksgiving stuffing to a meatloaf filling. Cover to keep things moist, and bake until the squash is soft and the filling is cooked. Many people like to make a sweet dish of acorn squash without any filling, then drizzle a tiny bit of butter and/or sweetener (honey or maple syrup) on it to serve. For this recipe, I suggest placing the squash, cut-side-down in a pan with 1/8” of water. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes, until you can just pierce the squash with a sharp knife. Then turn the squash over, add your butter/sweetener of choice, and bake until tender.

Stuffed Winter Squash (from Laurel’s Kitchen, 1976, slightly modified by me)
       I just found this recipe that uses a number of ingredients from this week’s box, plus any celery you have left from last week’s box.
       Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Halve your squash and scoop out the seeds. Bake for 25 – 45 minutes, until tender. While the squash is baking, sauté ½ onion in olive oil until soft. Add 1 cup diced celery. Cover and simmer on medium heat until just tender. Add ½ bag spinach, coarsely chopped, and ½ tsp salt; stir to wilt spinach. Remove squash from the oven and stuff with sautéed vegetables. Sprinkle with ½ cup bread crumbs (or toasted sunflower seeds), dot with 2 Tbs. butter. Return to oven for 10 – 15 minutes.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 18 (September 29)

In this box: 1/2# Spinach, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 bunch Radishes (Albany & Salem) or 1 bu. Beets (Corvallis),1 bunch Celery, 1 box Cherry Tomatoes, 2# Sweet Italian Peppers, 1 Sunshine Squash, 1 basket Strawberries, 2# Abate Fetel Pears (from Gala Springs)  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
Abate Fetel Pears  
       This is an old variety, bred centuries ago in Italy. It has a distinctive, elongated shape, a slightly crisp yet melting texture, and a sweet aroma that hints of honey. Unlike apples, pears must be picked before they are fully ripe—if you leave them on the tree until they are “ripe”, they tend to be mushy inside because they ripen from the inside out. Eaten too soon, they can be astringent. We held these pears in a “ripening room”, so they should be ready to eat when you get them. If you plan to keep them until the weekend (when you might have time to bake a pear pie…..), store them in the refrigerator.
       Abate Fetel pears are nice for fresh eating, but I think they are at their best poached, sautéed in butter, cooked in a hot cereal, or baked into a pie. When cooked, they hold their shape. Poaching means simmering in a bit of liquid until soft. You can poach whole pears, or use the same principle for cut-up fruit. There are plenty of recipes on the Internet for poaching pears in fancy liquids (wine, sugar, honey, vanilla, or other spices), however I poached mine simply in a bit of water.  I cut a couple of pears into small chunks, left the skins on, and simmered them in a tiny bit of water (just enough to keep from burning to the bottom of the pot) for about 10 minutes. They were amazing! If I had any yogurt in the house, I would have mixed the poached pears with a bit of plain yogurt to balance the sweetness. In my opinion, they definitely don’t need additional sugar.

Tom’s Curried “Chicken” Salad
    When we have spinach, chicken, celery, and pears at the same time, Tom likes to make a Curried Chicken Salad. (I expect it would be nice with baked tofu, if you’re not a chicken fan). Loosely fill a large bowl with fresh spinach. Add 1½ cups cubed, cooked chicken (or baked tofu). Then add ½ cup each diced celery, and toasted seeds (pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, toasted in a dry frypan). Add one pear, cored and diced. Dress lightly with mayonnaise (about ¼ cup), and season to taste with curry powder.

Sunshine Squash  
Storage note: Do not refrigerate Winter Squash or peppers. They keep best at room temperature.
    This orange kabocha-type squash has sweet, dark orange flesh. It can be steamed or baked. The skin is tender and edible, so you don’t need to peel it.
To steam: cut squash in half & scoop out the seeds, then cut into smile-shaped pieces and steam until tender (about 10 minutes). Serve plain, or with a touch of butter or tamari soy sauce.
To bake: cut in half, scoop out the seeds, and place cut-side down in a baking dish with 1/4 –inch of water. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes until soft. Then mash with butter or (for a real treat) half a can of coconut milk, or use cooked mashed squash in place of canned pumpkin for pumpkin pie.

    We always make a plan for the box, and sometimes our plans change when we see what we can harvest. When our picking crew discovered we didn’t have enough radishes for everyone, they decided to pick beets for half of you, rather than split each radish bunch in half. If you have radishes this week, I recommend trying sautéed radishes. You can cook radishes as you would any other root vegetable, in butter or olive oil in a sauté pan—with or without other root vegetables. A cooked radish is still crunchy and solid. However, cooking reduces the spicy notes, and enhances the underlying sweetness of the radish.
    If you have beets, here’s a new idea from our friend, Bill: cut beets in slices, coat with olive oil, salt, & peppers, and grill them on the barbecue (about 3 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your slices). He says this recipe turned his wife into a beet lover!

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015:  Week 17 (September 22)

In this box: 1/2# Spinach, 1 sweet Onion, 3# Potatoes, 1 Garlic, 1 bunch Carrots, 1.5# Heirloom Tomatoes, 1 Delicata Squash, 1 basket Strawberries, 2# Gala Apples (from Gala Springs Orchard)  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Keep ‘em coming back!
    Our stock of empty bins is shrinking. Please
look around your house & garage, and bring back any empty Harvest Box tubs that have accumulated. We have lots of great fall produce for you, and we’ll need bins to pack it! Thanks.

Small batch strawberry jam  
       I make a lot of small batches of fruit spreads. Technically, I don’t call them “jam” because I never add sugar or pectin, but the effect is the same, and my kids have never complained. Here’s my basic recipe for a 1-pint batch of strawberry fruit spread: Remove the hulls from 1 pint of strawberries, and cut berries in half or quarters. Place 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. Stir until the cloudiness disappears, and decide if you want to thicken it more. It will thicken some as it cools. If you add only about half the cornstarch, you should have a pourable fruit sauce. If you add more than half of the cornstarch, it will thicken to a spreadable jam consistency. Store in the refrigerator, and use within a week.

Delicata Squash

        The squash in your box today is delicata which is known in Canada as “sweetpotato squash”.  We grow two strains of delicate.  One from Cornell’s breeding program, and the other from Corvallis resident plant breeder Carol Deppe.  I like Carol’s strain “Candystick” for it’s sweet rich flavor.  Carol has a number of interesting seeds for sale on her website caroldeppe.com.  She has also authored several books including Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties which explains how to breed improved varieties in your garden.

 Local food

A customer asked an interesting question yesterday at the Farmers Market. He asked if I thought there was enough food produced in the Willamette Valley to feed everyone living here. My quick response was “of course, but everyone would have to eat more potatoes and onions, and less out-of-season produce”.  Later I looked up the value of Oregon’s agricultural production for 2014.  Since Oregon has a little less than 4,000,000 people and lots of farm and ranch land we export a lot of food.  $391,777,000 worth of fruit and nuts, $297, 047,000 worth of wheat, $155,793,000 worth of vegetables, $88,050,000 of dairy products, etc..  Of course we also import lots of food, but if that became impossible, Oregon produced per resident: 444# wheat, 404# potatoes, 355# onions, 74# corn, 108# pears, 34# apples, 21#blueberries, 11# blackberries,  per capita last year.  Also 75# seafood per person, 29# wine grapes, 15# barley, and 2# hops per person.

I love avocados, and Tom consumes lots of imported olive oil, so our diets would surely change if there was no imported food.  However, Oregon has plenty of agricultural production to feed and nourish it’s people.  We do not live by bread alone, and Oregon also exports lots of flowers, and other ornamental crops.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 16 (Sept 15)

In this box: 1 bunch Basil, 2# Sweet Girl tomatoes, 1.5# Heirloom tomatoes, 1 Leek, 1 bunch Kale, 1 bunch Chioggia Beets, 1# Jimmy Nardelo Sweet Italian Peppers, 1 basket Strawberries, 1 Cantaloupe or Orange Honeydew Melon (from Groundwork  Organics) (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Note from the office:
I will be out of town next week. Tom will be handling everything in the office, as well as all of his usual tasks. Please be patient if emails and special requests are not returned as promptly as usual.

Melon from Groundwork Organic Farm--Gabe picks his melons ripe. Store yours in the refrigerator until you want to eat it.
Heirloom Tomatoes
    I just checked with the packing crew, and it looks like most boxes will have either Brandywine or Purple Cherokee heirloom tomatoes today. The Brandywines are a pink color, and the Purple Cherokee have dark greenish tint around the stem. I like my heirlooms dressed simply—sliced or cut in bite-size pieces and sprinkled with a bit of salt or balsamic vinegar, and a generous garnish of chopped basil. I don’t fully understand the chemistry of taste, but something quite magical happens when the slightly sweet and acidic balsamic vinegar combines with the sweet/acid balance in the tomato. It really brings out the flavor. Salt does the same thing, but if you’re avoiding salt, go ahead and use vinegar. Other kinds of vinegar work fine also, if you don’t have balsamic in your cupboard. Heirloom tomatoes are less durable, and tend to bruise more easily than “regular” tomatoes. Because we want things to arrive without getting bruised, your heirloom tomatoes are a few days from perfect ripeness. I suggest leaving them on your counter, and making a plan to enjoy them in a couple of days.

Chioggia Beets
    Here is a lovely heirloom variety of beets. Similar in flavor to red beets (though I find them slightly milder in flavor), they have red & white “candystripe” rings inside. Use them any way you would use red beets. However, chioggia beets will NOT turn everything in your soup bright red. So, if you have your heart set on a classic borscht, I suggest waiting until you have some regular red beets. The Chioggia beets are nice in a mixed vegetable stew, perhaps with this week’s leeks, kale, and some cooked white beans for a hearty fall stew. Or add some of the sweet girl tomatoes, basil, garbanzo beans, and elbow pasta, and call it Minestrone!

    First, here’s how to clean a leek: Slice the leek lengthwise, from roots to tip, leaving the roots on. Hold each half under running water to rinse out any dirt that likes to accumulate in the notch where the green part meets the white part. Then slice each cleaned half into whatever size pieces you want. In my personal opinion, the green parts are just as nice as the white parts. Some recipes call for using “only the white part” of the leek, but I think that’s only important if you really care about having “white” soup. I cook with the whole leek, both the white base and the green leaves.
    Leeks are a gentle cousin of onions and garlic. One of my cookbooks says “milder and more refined” in flavor than onions. They lack the spicy hotness of onions that can make you cry when you cut them. In cooking, you can generally substitute leeks for onions. They are great in a stir-fry, soup or stew. One of the most famous recipes using leeks is the French Vichyssoise, but don’t stop there—leeks are great in ANY soup or stew. Interestingly, leeks add not only flavor, but also some sense of body (or thickness) to a soup. A clear, brothy chicken soup becomes more hearty if you add a sliced leek.
       One more interesting note about leeks: several years ago, we had an extraordinarily large number of customers asking for leeks at our Farmers Markets. When we discovered that “Magical Leek Soup” was a recipe in the book French Women Don’t Get Fat, we (of course) picked up a copy of the book. “Magical Leek Soup” is a simple, satisfying, nourishing broth made with only leeks and water. I often use leek broth as a vegetarian soup stock. As the book has fallen off the “National Best Seller” list (it was published in 2005), leeks have somewhat faded in popularity, though in some parts of the world (particularly Europe and the British Isles), leeks are a staple vegetable.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015  Week 15 (September 8th)
In this box: 1 Lettuce, 1 sweet Onion, 2# Potatoes, 1 bunch Cilantro, A few Jalapeno peppers, 2# Roma tomatoes, 1 bunch Collards, 2# Sweet Italian Peppers, 1 basket Strawberries, ¾# Interlaken (green) or Jupiter (purple) Grapes (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Trade Box etiquette
     Some of our trade boxes are ending the day with significantly fewer items than at the beginning.
     If you take something out of the trade box, please put something back in. It works best if you put in/take out a full share of a particular item—don’t just trade half of your potatoes for a full bunch of collards, for example. Thanks!
     We make good use of anything that is left at the end of the day. It doesn’t go to waste.

Sweet Italian Peppers   
       Local sweet peppers are in season for only a few months each year, but many of us want to add the color, flavor, and nutritional value of peppers to our meals all year ‘round. Fortunately, peppers are easy to freeze! All you need to do is rinse them, cut them up enough to remove the seeds, and freeze them in a zip-top bag. When they thaw out, they won’t be crisp and crunchy like fresh peppers, but they are perfectly fine for cooking. When my kids were young, they enjoyed chewing on a piece of frozen pepper as a snack on hot days.
       Are you a fan of chiles rellenos? Classically, this dish is made with a hotter pepper (anahiem or poblano), but sweet Italian peppers work great! Here’s a recipe I found in “from Asparagus to Zucchini” (1996, Madison Area CSA Coalition):
Chiles Rellenos Jose
    Remove seeds from peppers, leaving the peppers as whole as possible. Insert a generous strip of Monterey Jack cheese inside each pepper. Arrange peppers in the bottom of a well-greased baking dish. Cover peppers with ½-pound grated cheddar cheese. In a large bowl, beat 5 eggs. Gradually add ¼ cup flour, 1 ¼ cups milk, and ½ tsp salt to the eggs. Pour egg mixture on top of peppers & cheese. Sprinkle with ½ tsp paprika. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. If you like it hot, you can use your jalapeno peppers in this dish as well—but that will make your rellenos REALLY spicy!
Jalapeno Peppers
    When the crew told me we would have cilantro for the boxes this week, I just had to put in a few jalapeno peppers, because the two go so well together. In fact, one of my all-time favorite meals was the cilantro-jalapeno pesto served at a long-gone restaurant in Eugene. After the restaurant closed, I recreated the dish by following my standard pesto recipe, and substituting cilantro for basil. I think cilantro pesto is best with pistachios (instead of pine nuts). And start with less jalapeno than you think you need, adding more to taste after everything is blended. Cilantro-jalapeno pesto is nice garnished with a bit of lime juice, or some lime zest grated on the top. Find my basic pesto recipe in this year’s newsletter, Week 4, and more jalapeno ideas in the newsletter from Week 12.
       I’m not a huge fan of spicy foods, but I usually freeze a few jalapenos this time of year, so I can put a sliver or two in a pan of refried beans in the winter. When I have time, I like to roast my jalapenos first: Place whole peppers under the broiler or on the outdoor grill, and roast them until the skin is charred, turning to char all sides. When they are cool, put on rubber gloves or carefully work with a couple of knives to cut them in half, scrape away the seeds, then freeze in a labeled zip-lock freezer bag. When you want to use just a bit of hot pepper in a dish, just slice off the amount you need, and leave the rest frozen.

Our Annual Farm Party was last Sunday. Thanks to everyone who came out to see the farm and to enjoy the delicious food! We have some great photos of happy kids pulling carrots from the ground, and examining flea beetles on broccoli leaves. Our caterer friend & chef Brian created an amazing French potato salad with our yellow potatoes, and some of you were asking for the recipe: Brian says “It’s very simple. Take a few cloves of roasted garlic in a blender with a couple cups of good olive oil. Blend in about ¾ cup of stone ground mustard, and 1 ½ cups white wine vinegar. Add a few tablespoons of honey, and you’re done!” Brian added wilted kale (but you could use collards), and some raw celery and raw sweet onion to complete the dish.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2016: Week 14 (September 1st)

In this box: ½# Salad Mix , 2# Heirloom Tomatoes, 1 bunch Basil, (search for “caprese salad recipes” on the internet), 1 head Garlic, 1 red Onion, 1 bunch Celery, 2# Sweet Italian Peppers, 1 basket Strawberries, 2# Gala apples (from Gala Springs Orchard) (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
    Hard to believe I’m having a hard time believinthat September is here. Even though I notice the days are getting shorter, the weather is cooler and damper, and the first geese of the winter are arriving, it’s still a shock that I’m turning my calendar to September. But, here it is….. On the farm, we’ve harvested our winter onion crop, and put hundreds of boxes of onions in a cooler for storage through the winter. We’re preparing planting beds for next year’s garlic crop, and seeding our winter Kale and salad mix. Still, the season is far from over.  We’re just over half-way through our Harvest Box season.
However, as the seasons shift toward autumn, the fruits and vegetables in your boxes will also be shifting slightly. Our cucumbers and green beans are finished for the year, and our summer squash plants are looking tired. Crops that require a long growing season are finally ready now in the season of late summer. In today’s box, we offer Gala apples from friends of ours at Gala Springs Orchard. Martin & Denise grow a wide variety of apples and pears, and they see Tom on Saturdays at the Beaverton Farmers Market. You will be seeing more of their fruits in the coming weeks. Soon, we will be harvesting our winter squashes, sweet potatoes, storage onions, and ginger as late summer marches on toward fall.
Truly, the best way to know what’s going on at the farm is to come visit us this Sunday for our annual Farm Tour and Potluck, this Sunday from 3-6. Bring a good pair of walking shoes for the farm tour (which starts at 3 pm), and some lawn chairs (or a blanket), and a dish to share if you’re staying for the potluck (starting around 4:30). We hope to see you on Sunday!
Farm Party This Sunday!
September 6, from 3 – 6 pm
Farm tour at 3pm
Potluck at 5pm
Please bring something to share, and your own plates/cutlery if you will be staying for the potluck.
We will provide strawberry lemonade!
Come any time between 3 & 6 pm to see the farm, or to just sit in the shade and enjoy the good company of other Harvest Box members.
Directions to the farm: Steele Ave is off HWY 20 between Corvallis & Albany. We’re 4 miles north of downtown Corvallis, and 7 miles south of Albany. Turn west onto Steele Ave (across from the Children’s Farm Home), and drive to the end of the road.

Sweet Italian Peppers   
       Tom first tasted sweet Italian peppers during the mid-70’s when he was farming in New York State. He tells of seeing old farmers of Italian heritage at the farmers’ markets slicing these peppers in rings then frying them in olive oil with garlic until they were soft and slightly scorched. Then, they would pile the caramelized pepper/onion mixture on some crusty Italian bread with cheese or Italian sausage. I prefer Italian peppers over Bell peppers for any saute because Italian peppers are a little less juicy, and when they are caramelized, they are incredibly sweet!
How to Roast peppers: Rinse peppers and place on a baking sheet with edges to catch the juices. Or turn on your barbecue, and place peppers right on the grill. Broil (or grill) 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. Turn off the oven and close the door for 5 minutes (or put grilled peppers in a paper bag) to “rest”. The peppers will “wilt” during this rest time. After 5 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool just enough to handle. Then peel and remove the seeds. At this point, the roasted peppers freeze well in any handy container for winter meals.
       Roasted Pepper Puree: Dice 3-4 peeled, roasted peppers. Then sauté with 2 teaspoons chopped garlic, and 2 tsp. fresh thyme in 1 Tbs. olive oil. When garlic is fragrant, purée everything in a food processor. Add salt to taste. Makes enough for 1 lb. pasta; pour over steamed or baked potatoes; spread over grilled chicken breasts; spread on a vegetable sandwich; thin with chicken or vegetable broth for soup; or (my favorite) brown 2 Tbs. flour in 2 Tbs. butter; whisk in cream or milk to make a white sauce; stir in red pepper purée for a creamy roasted pepper pasta sauce.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 13 (August 24)

In this box: ½# Spinach (Salem and Albany boxes) or Salad Mix (Corvallis boxes), 1 bunch Carrots, 1# Sweet Girl Tomatoes, 5 ears Corn, 2# Potatoes, 1# Summer Squash, 1 bunch Italian Parsley, 1 basket Strawberries, ¾# Grapes
(weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Farm Party For Harvest Box Members
Sunday, September 6, from 3 – 6 pm
Farm tour at 3pm
Potluck at 5pm
Please bring something to share, and your own plates/cutlery if you will be staying for the potluck.
We will provide a couple of gluten-free vegetarian dishes, and strawberry lemonade!
Come any time between 3 & 6 pm to see the farm, or to just sit in the shade and enjoy the good company of other Harvest Box members.

Directions to the farm: Steele Ave is off HWY 20 between Corvallis & Albany. We’re 4 miles north of downtown Corvallis, and 7 miles south of Albany. Turn west onto Steele Ave (across from the Children’s Farm Home), and drive all the way to the end of the road.

Italian Parsley
    Native to the Mediterranean countries, Parsley is a nutritional giant that (in my opinion) is not appreciated nearly enough. It has more vitamin A than carrots, and more vitamin C than oranges. Also high in minerals, particularly iron.
    In France, parsley is the main ingredient in a condiment called Persillade. In Argentina, a very similar recipe is called Chimichurri. In Italy, parsley is one of the “holy trinity” of carrots, onions, and parsley, sautéed together (called Soffritto) as the base to start hundreds of dishes.
I like parsley chopped into a summer salad. This week, my lunch fare has been rice, beans, sweet onion, grated carrots, tomatoes, and parsley, dressed with oil & vinegar or lemon juice. However, if raw parsley is a little too strong for you, here are some other ideas for cooking Italian Parsley, and Potatoes or Summer Squash:
1.    Substitute Parsley for Basil in your favorite pesto recipe.
2.    Prepare persillade (French term for a mixture of minced parsley and garlic). Combine 1 cup coarsely chopped parsley leaves with 3 cloves coarsely chopped garlic & ½ tsp salt. Pulse in the food processor, or chop very finely.
3.    Potatoes en Persillade: Preheat oven to 375o. Cut potatoes in bite-sized chunks. Toss potatoes in large bowl with 4 Tbs oil, salt and pepper. Transfer to baking pan. Roast 35 minutes. Pour persillade over potatoes and stir to coat. [Add some grated Parmesan cheese if you wish.] Continue roasting until golden brown and tender when pierced with a skewer (about 20 minutes longer).
4.    Summer squash en Persillade: Slice summer squash in half lengthwise, and place face up on a roasting pan. Brush the cut sides with olive oil, and sprinkle with persillade and a generous amount of grated cheese. Bake in a 375-degree oven until the squash is tender, and the topping is crispy.

Chimichurri sauce is an Argentinean sauce or condiment, similar to pesto, that is popular throughout South America. It can be used both as a marinade and a sauce for grilled steak, but you can use it also with fish, chicken, or even pasta. This would also be a great stuffing for Portabello mushroom!  
Finely chop 1 cup parsley leaves, 2 Tbs fresh oregano leaves (or 2 tsp. dried oregano), and 3-4 cloves garlic in a food processor. Place in a small bowl. Stir in ½ cup olive oil, 2 Tbs. red or white wine vinegar, 1 tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper, and ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes. Taste to adjust seasonings.

Parsley Pasta Sauce  (From Asparagus to Zucchini, Madison Area CSA Coalition)
1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves      
¼ cup olive oil                  
1 tsp dried oregano              
½ tsp salt & ½ tsp black pepper          
2 cloves garlic                  
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
    Combine parsley, olive oil, oregano, salt, garlic, and in food processor. Chop finely. Add sour cream & Parmesan; in food processor. Chop finely. Add sour cream & Parmesan; Serve over cooked pasta.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 12 (August 18)

In this box: ½# Salad Mix, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 bunch Basil, 1 head Garlic, 4 Jalapeno peppers, 1 Sweet Onion, ½# Jimmy Nardelo (Sweet Italian) Peppers, 2# Beefsteak Tomatoes, 1 basket Strawberries, 1 Cantaloupe (from  Groundwork Organics) (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Farm Party
Sunday, September 6, from 3 – 6 pm
Farm tour at 3pm
Potluck at 5pm

Please bring something to share, and your own plates/cutlery if you will be staying for the potluck.
We will provide strawberry lemonade!
Come any time between 3 & 6 pm to see the farm, or to just sit in the shade and enjoy the good company of other Harvest Box members.
Directions to the farm: Steele Ave is off HWY 20 between Corvallis & Albany. We’re 4 miles north of downtown Corvallis, and 7 miles south of Albany. Turn west onto Steele Ave (across from the Children’s Farm Home), and drive all the way to the end of the road.

Cooking from the Farm
       I like to read cookbooks. I have quite a collection, and some of my favorites are cookbooks that describe the traditional cooking of a region. Three that are on my all-time favorites list are “Goose Fat and Garlic, Country recipes from Southwest France”, “Honey from a Weed, Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany”, and Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”. What is common among these three books is the principle that people cook what is local and seasonal. It’s amazing how many ways you can combine a few simple ingredients to create an entire cuisine to sustain and nourish a culture. Reading about traditional diets in other parts of the world makes me grateful that we live in the Willamette Valley. We really can grow food all year long here. True, tomatoes, peppers, and basil are seasonal, and need to be preserved or frozen if you want to eat them all year, but even in the winter, we harvest a good variety of food from our land. I do freeze lots of tomatoes for winter meals, and I buy occasional lemons, limes, and avocados in the summer, but otherwise, Tom & I are quite content just eating what we grow.
       Which brings me to the contents of today’s Harvest Box. This would be a good week to make pesto (see Newsletter Week 4), but don’t forget to save a few basil leaves (or the tender stems) to flavor a pot of Tomato Sauce (Newsletter Week 8).
       Jimmy Nardelo Sweet Italian peppers: The little red peppers in your box might look like hot peppers, but don’t be fooled. These are a delightful sweet pepper. Though you can eat sweet Italian peppers raw just like bell peppers, I think cooking really brings out their best qualities. I suggest slicing your Nardelo peppers into rings, removing the seeds, and sautéing in olive oil with garlic, onion, and a little salt.  When everything is soft, and slightly caramelized, mix with cooked pasta, and call it dinner!
      Jalapeno peppers: These, on the other hand, really are hot! As with all hot peppers, a lot of the heat is in the seeds, and in the white membrane attached to the seeds. If you prefer your peppers on the milder side, remove the seeds, and all the white membrane (and wear rubber gloves while doing this). If you (like me) don’t use a lot of jalapenos, I suggest roasting them, and freezing them so you can use them a little at a time. Char them on the grill or under the broiler, turning to all sides get blistered. After they cool, put on some rubber gloves, and remove the skins and seeds. Store in the freezer.
If you enjoy spicy food, try Jalapeno Poppers:
    Slice Jalapenos in half the long way so that with the seeds and stem removed they look like little boats.  Fill with a mixture of refried beans and cream cheese.  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.

Cantaloupe from Groundwork Organic Farm. Gabe picks his cantaloupe ripe, so eat yours tonight, or store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat it. Unlike grocery store cantaloupes (which are picked before they are truly ripe), if you wait for this one to feel “soft”, it may be over-ripe.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 11 (August 11/12)

In this box: 1 lettuce, 2# Beefsteak Tomatoes, 1 Cauliflower, 1 bunch Carrots, 5 ears Corn, 1# Summer Squash, 2 Ripe Bell Peppers, ¾# Grapes (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
Thanks for returning the tubs. We have seen a tremendous increase in tub returns. We appreciate it!

       When Tom started farming in Corvallis (in the late 1970’s), he grew only a few crops. Zucchini, melons, and sweet peppers were his major crops. There were only a few farmers markets at that time, and he sold mostly to family-owned grocery stores up & down the Willamette Valley. Over the decades, farmers markets have sprouted everywhere, “community-supported agriculture” programs (like our Harvest Box) have become common, and family-owned grocery stores have been replaced by regional or national chain stores. Our diversity of crops has increased as we focus our energy on growing a full range of fruits & vegetables for people (like you!) who are committed to locally-grown, organic food. All this to say that grapes are a fairly new crop for us. As our farm has shifted from selling a few items to grocery stores to offering a full line of fresh fruits and vegetables at Farmers Markets and through our Harvest Box, Tom continues to search for popular crops that will grow well in our climate. Those of you who have been members of our Harvest Box since the early years (18 years ago!) have probably noticed that we have increased the amount and diversity of fruit in the box over the years. The first fruits Tom planted were cherries and plums—those trees are over 20 years old, and some years they yield heavy harvests. Some years they don’t. So, we started growing berries, which are more reliable, and (if tended well) can ripen fruits nearly all season. A few years ago, Tom decided to try growing seedless table grapes, and you’re seeing the results today. We expected that the popular grocery store varieties wouldn’t grow well for us, because they like California’s climate, so we planted a few rows each of a number of different varieties. Besides, there are hundreds of varieties of grapes available, and we wanted to grow something unique. Some boxes today have the Reliance variety (pale green with a pink tint), and some probably have Thomcord (dark blue). We hope you enjoy them!
    The good news is that our corn is not grown from GMO seed or sprayed with any pesticides, the unfortunate news is that there may be a few corn earworms. 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 its 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 larvae start at the top, and take a long time to eat very far. If you find a corn earworm has come home with your corn, just cut off the tip, and the rest of the ear should be untouched. If you’re grilling your corn in the husk (20-25 minutes over medium heat, turn half-way through), check the tip of each ear before putting them on the grill.

Cauliflower is the same botanical species as broccoli, cabbage, kale, collards, and Brussels sprouts. Over centuries of cultivation, humans have selected for leaves (kale, collards, cabbage), central flower buds (broccoli, cauliflower), or lateral buds (Brussels sprouts). And each tastes just a little different from the other. Pretty amazing, eh? We like to steam our cauliflower, just until tender (about 5 minutes), then top with some grated Parmesan cheese, or Brewer’s yeast if you’re avoiding dairy.

Farm Party Sunday, September 6, from 3 – 6 pm
Farm tour at 3pm
Potluck at 5pm
Please bring something to share, and your own plates/cutlery  if you will be staying for the potluck.
We will provide strawberry lemonade!
Come any time between 3 & 6 pm to see the farm, or to just sit in the shade and enjoy the good company of other Harvest Box members.
Directions to the farm: Steele Ave is off HWY 20 between Corvallis & Albany. We’re 4 miles north of downtown Corvallis, and 7 miles south of Albany. Turn west onto Steele Ave (across from the Children’s Farm Home), and drive all the way to the end of the road.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015 Week 10 (August 3)

In this box: 2# Salad Tomatoes, 1 box Cherry Tomatoes, 1 bunch Kale, 1 head Garlic, 1 Sweet Onion, 5 ears Corn, 2# All Blue Potatoes, 2 Red Bell Peppers, 1 box Strawberries (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
Farm Party Sunday, September 6, from 3 – 6 pm
    We invite all harvest box members to come see the farm this year on Sunday afternoon, September 6th. The event starts at 3 pm with a Farm Tour, led
by Tom. After the tour, around 5 pm, we will have a potluck – so please bring something to share if you will be staying for that. You are welcome to drop in at any time between 3 & 6 pm to see the farm, or to just sit in the shade and enjoy the good company of other Harvest Box members. We’ll tell you how to get here a few weeks ahead of the date.

    Though Kale has seen a tremendous rise in popularity recently (even appearing on the menu at Panera and MacDonald’s!), we realize it’s not yet an everyday menu item for everyone. So I will give you several easy recipes for kale.  Summer kale has a stronger flavor than winter kale. Adding some acid (generally lemon juice or vinegar, but cheese also works) balances these stronger flavors, and makes kale enjoyable to a wider audience.         Kale is very forgiving as a cooked green. It’s easy to cook, and difficult to overcook. Unlike spinach or chard, kale won’t get mushy if you cook it a little longer than necessary. Here are several recipes I like with summer kale:
    Steamed Kale: chop 1 bunch kale into large pieces, and steam for about 5 minutes. I suggest dressing steamed kale with salad dressing—either lemon juice & olive oil, or your favorite homemade or bottled vinaigrette or creamy salad dressing. Steamed kale is also very complimentary with hummus, and a frequent lunchtime salad in my kitchen is a bowl of steamed kale with a large dollop of hummus (and tomato wedges and sweet onion this time of year).
    Kale Pesto: Once your kale is steamed, you can substitute it for basil in your favorite pesto recipe! I suggest adding 1 Tbs. of lemon zest (to balance the hearty flavor of kale), but otherwise, follow a regular pesto recipe and just substitute one bunch of steamed kale for the basil.
Green Dip (also known as “green hummus”). Coarsely chop 1 bunch of kale. Steam for 5 minutes, then drain. Allow to cool to room temperature. Then, blend 2 cups kale greens in a food processor with ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup toasted nuts or nut butter (hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, toasted sunflower seeds, or tahini all work great). Add 1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar. And 1 tsp. salt (unless your nut butter is salted). Blend until very smooth. Taste, and add salt, pepper, or more cider vinegar as desired. For the batch I made today, I needed to add an additional 1 tsp of cider vinegar.
    Summer Garden Sauté: Well, there’s no exact recipe for this dish, but it’s another frequent summer meal around our house that would work great with the items in this week’s box. Use a large sauté pan. Start with a generous amount of olive oil (maybe 3 Tbs.). Sauté some onions first. When they are softened, add sweet peppers, and sauté for a few more minutes. Then add chopped garlic, and kale. Sauté until kale is wilted. Then add 2 small chopped tomatoes, cover, and simmer until the tomatoes have “melted” into a sauce over everything. Season with fresh or dried oregano or basil, salt and pepper. Serve over rice or pasta. Grate some cheese on top if you wish.
    One other note:. Some recipes call for removing the center rib from the kale, but that’s my favorite part! When you’re cooking kale, make sure you cook it long enough for the ribs to become tender, but there’s no need to remove them.

Note from the office: If you joined by paying the first half of the membership fee, your second payment was due August 1st. Invoices will be mailed next week if I haven’t received your payment by the end of this week.

Our packing crew reports that about 20% of our tubs are not returning to the farm each week. We really need all tubs to stay in circulation. Our supplies on the farm are desperately short. Please bring them back! Thanks.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 9

In this box: ½# Salad Mix, 1 bunch Celery, 1 bunch Cilantro OR Radishes, ¾# Tomatillos—take them out of the bag, and store on the counter. 1 Sweet Onion, 1 ½# Summer Squash, 2# Slicing Tomatoes, 4 ears Corn, 1# Rhubarb (weights are approx.)  Everything is Organic!

Our packing crew reports that about 20% of our tubs are not returning to the farm each week. We really need all tubs to stay in circulation. Our supplies on the farm are desperately short. We understand that on occasion, you may forget one week, and need to bring back two the next week, but if tubs are accumulating at your house, please bring them back as soon as possible. Thank you.

If you joined by paying the first half of the membership fee, your second payment is due August 1st. Since most members remember to send in their payment on or around August 1st, I usually wait a week or so, and send individual reminders only to those who have forgotten.

        Let’s talk about tomatillos…. Botanically related to tomatoes, tomatillos can be eaten over a wide range of ripeness—the ones in your box are ripe now, or you can let them sit on the counter for a few days. They are somewhat more tart when “green”, and become sweeter as they continue to ripen, and the skin turns toward yellow. Don’t wait for them to get soft (that would be over-ripe), or turn red (they won’t).
        To prepare tomatillos, first remove the papery husk. The skins are somewhat sticky, and when cooked, tomatillos help thicken sauces. Tomatillos are a key ingredient in salsa verde, and in green enchilada sauce.
        Tomatillo Salsa I: For a classic salsa verde, chop your tomatillos coarsely and place in a food processor bowl. Add approximately 1 clove of garlic, ¼ cup chopped sweet onion, a small slice of hot pepper if you like spicy salsa, ¼ cup chopped cilantro or Italian Parsley (optional), ½ tsp. salt, and the juice from ½ a lime (1 Tbs). Pulse several times until everything is chopped well, but not quite pureed.
        Tomatillo Salsa II: Simmer the basic salsa verde on the stove for 10 minutes for a thicker sauce, and a mellower flavor.
        Tomatillo Salsa III: Start by toasting whole tomatillos in a dry skillet over medium heat. Don’t worry about toasting all sides evenly—that’s impossible because they roll around in the pan! Just try to get them a little browned on several sides. Any amount of toasting brings out the flavor. After they are cool, follow the recipe for Salsa Verde (above).
        Serve any of these green salsas with chips, on top of cooked black beans or polenta, or spoon some on a taco or steamed fish.

Cilantro or Radishes
    We tried to have cilantro for everyone this week, but we should have picked it for last week’s box. During these long, hot summer days, things go from not-quite-ready to “oops, too late” in such a short time, that most of our cilantro has bolted and gone to flower.
    Here’s something new to try with radishes—sauté radishes in olive oil with a little salt. Cooking dramatically changes the flavor, as the spicy notes diminish and sweeter flavors are enhance by the heat of the stove. Nice with a drizzle of lemon juice added to the pan, to finish the roots with a little citrus glaze.
    By itself, rhubarb is quite sour, so it’s usually sweetened considerably, or combined with sweet fruits. The tartness of rhubarb balances and enhances the flavor of strawberries in the classic Strawberry-Rhubarb pie.
       Here’s a very simple rhubarb sauce that I remember having frequently when I was growing up. Rinse rhubarb stalks and trim off any leafy bits. Slice in ½” pieces, and place in a heavy saucepan. You will probably have about 3 cups of rhubarb pieces. Add ½ cup water, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes until it becomes a sauce. Sweeten to taste (this might take ¾ - 1 cup sugar, or sweetener of your choice). Cool, and serve rhubarb sauce over vanilla ice cream, or mix with yogurt.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 8

In this box: 1 Lettuce, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 bunch Radishes, 1# Broccoli, 2# Purple Potatoes, 2# Slicing Tomatoes, 2# Sweet Girl  Tomatoes, 1 box Cherry Tomatoes, 1 box Blackberries (weights are approx.)  Everything is Organic!

       This week we have 3 different kinds of tomatoes for you. Though all are great just sliced into bite-sized pieces and eaten on a green salad, or combined with basil and mozzarella cheese for a Caprese salad, here are some other ideas:

Sweet Girl tomatoes are particularly nice in the following recipe—
Roasted garlic and tomato salad    (inspired by Cooking with Caprial)
   Roast 1 head of garlic:  Recipes for roasted garlic vary widely. Most recipes suggest cutting the top ½ inch off a head of garlic. Then pour a little olive oil onto the exposed cloves. You can either wrap the head in foil, and roast in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes; or leave off the foil, and roast in a 300-degree oven for 45 minutes. Cool completely, then squeeze cloves from the base and use a fork to dislodge flesh from skin.
1. Cut 4 or 5 tomatoes into wedges and place in a large bowl. Coarsely chop roasted garlic and toss with tomatoes.
2. Combine 2 Tbs. red wine or balsamic vinegar with 6 Tbs. olive oil. Toss with garlic and tomatoes.
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.

With my large, “slicing” tomatoes, I’m definitely going to serve burgers tonight! If you’re not in the mood for burgers, try one of the following recipes for sauce:
Basic Blender Italian Tomato Sauce (“From Asparagus to Zucchini”, Madison Area CSA Coalition, 2004)
Lots of tomatoes
Small amount of basil and parsley (got any left from last week’s box?)
Large amount of oregano
Minced garlic cloves
1 or 2 carrots, grated
Salt & pepper
Olive oil
    In Italy, no one follows a recipe for tomato sauce, so use your imagination for quantities. A couple of guidelines: do not underestimate the amount of garlic. When in doubt, put in lots. Adding carrots makes a sweeter sauce. Blend or process the tomatoes to an almost pureed texture. Gradually add herbs, garlic, and carrots. Slowly cook in a deep skillet. When sauce has reduced about halfway to the texture you want, add salt & pepper. Add several tablespoons of olive oil before reheating for serving.

Butter, Tomato, and Onion Sauce (from Hazan Family Favorites: Beloved Italian Recipes by Guiliano Hazan). Ingredients: 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, 1 medium sweet yellow onion, 5 Tbs. butter, 1 ¼ tsp. salt. Preparation: Peel & coarsely chop tomatoes*. Trim both ends of the onion. Peel it, and cut in half lengthwise. Put tomatoes, onion, butter, and salt into a 4- to 5- quart saucepan over medium heat. When the tomatoes start to bubble, lower the heat to a slow but steady simmer. Cook, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes, until the tomatoes are no longer watery and the sauce has reduced, about 45 minutes, depending on the size and shape of the pot. The sauce is done when the butter has separated from the tomatoes and the sauce has thickened. Remove and discard the onion. Serve over hot pasta, with or without cheese. Even if you “always” use cheese on your tomato pasta, try it first without any. This sauce will surprise you!  
*To peel tomatoes: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Gently drop tomatoes in the boiling water for 1 minute. Remove from boiling water and immediately submerge tomatoes in bowl of ice water. When cool to the touch, the skins should pull off easily.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 7

In this box: 1 Lettuce, 1 bunch Basil, 1 bunch Italian Parsley, 1 Sweet Onion, 1# Green Zucchini, 2# Roma Tomatoes, 1 box Cherry Tomatoes (we affectionately call these our “jellybean” mixed cherry tomatoes), 1 box Plums (plums will continue to ripen on the counter. When yours feel soft, store in the fridge), 1 box Blackberries, (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Roma tomatoes are less juicy, and more meaty than other kinds of tomatoes. This makes them ideal for tomato sauce, or for drying. Eaten fresh, romas have a rather bland flavor, but cooking or drying brings out a luscious sweetness and a more complex flavor.
       How to dry roma tomatoes (see Summer Pasta Salad with Basil (below) for a great recipe using dried romas): Rinse tomatoes, and slice in half lengthwise. Place halves, cut-side up, in a single layer on a large cookie sheet. They can be pretty close together, because they will shrink as they dry, but don’t overlap. (Optional: line your cookie sheet first with parchment paper to keep the tomato acids from discoloring the pan).
       Place the pan of tomatoes in a 200-degree oven for at least 4 hours. Check every hour after 4 hours, and remove smaller pieces after they have shrunk, when they no longer feel juicy, but before they become crispy. You want to catch them before they are crispy, because they get drier as they cool.  You have some leeway on catching them at the perfect moment, but don’t leave them unattended overnight.
       Dried tomatoes have excellent eating quality over a wide range of dryness. You can taste-test a few every hour and pull them out of the oven when they reach the texture you prefer.
       IMPORTANT NOTE: Once your tomatoes have reached the texture you prefer, allow them to cool, store in the refrigerator or freezer. Unless you have dried yours to a crisp, they wil47l get moldy on the counter.

Basil Many people can use up a bunch of basil every week, because pesto is such an easy summer meal. In addition to the classic “pesto on pasta”, pesto is wonderful on roasted or boiled potatoes, mixed into a minestrone soup, or frozen for a quick meal in the winter. However, if you’re not in the mood for making pesto this week, here are some additional ideas for using basil:
1. Layer basil leaves in a cheese sandwich, instead of lettuce.
2. Chop basil stems into soups and stews.
3. Make Summer Pasta salad with Dried Tomatoes & Basil:
Cook 1 pound pasta in boiling, salted water. While pasta cooks, finely chop 1 bunch fresh basil leaves & tender stems. Chop 1 handful dried tomatoes. Drain pasta. Return to pot. Gently stir in ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, chopped basil, and chopped dried tomatoes. Add salt & coarsely ground pepper to taste.
4. Cook a quick Sweet Tomato-Basil Sauce, to serve over pasta:
Chop tomatoes, and simmer with ¼ cup water until soft. Pass through a food mill to remove skins. Return to stovetop. Add 1 tsp. salt, 2 Tbs. olive oil, and 1 bunch chopped basil. Continue to simmer until sauce has thickened.

Parsley There are many ways to spell Tabbouleh, (or tabouli, or tabbouli), and even more variations on the recipe for this traditional vegetarian dish from the Middle East. The basic concept uses a quick-cooking grain (bulgur, or quinoa, or couscous), with chopped tomatoes, parsley, mint, and onion; dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Here’s my basic recipe: cook 1 cup of bulgur wheat or quinoa. While the grain cooks, chop 1 bunch of parsley, about half that much mint (if you have some), a couple of tomatoes, and half a sweet onion. Dress with 1/3 cup olive oil, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Taste, and adjust seasonings. Optional: add olives and/or feta cheese. This salad is even better made a day ahead, so the flavors can blend.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015:  Week 6

In this box: 1 bunch Celery, 1# Sweet Girl Tomatoes, 1 Sweet Onion, 1# summer squash , 1 bunch Basil, 1 Garlic, 2# yellow potatoes, 1 box Plums, 1 box Blackberries, 1 box Strawberries,  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
Sweet Girl tomatoes: We discovered this tasty little tomato a few years ago, and it has become one of my favorite tomatoes for all uses. They are great as a salad tomato, sturdy enough to hold up in a lunchbox, and wonderful as an accent in a vegetable sauté (recipe follows) or cooked as tomato sauce.
       Storage tip: Store tomatoes on the counter until you’re ready to use them. The refrigerator is too cold for tomatoes. It dulls their flavor.
       We ran out of paper bags, so many of you have tomatoes in a plastic bag. Open the bag, so they can “breathe”.

Summer Squash
       The most familiar summer squash is green zucchini. However, we like to grow a wide variety of different colors and shapes of summer squash. All are closely related in the culinary world, and interchangeable in recipes. Over the course of several boxes, you may receive “white” zucchini (actually, it’s pale green), striped zucchini, yellow zucchini, green-tipped yellow zephyr squash, or flying-saucer-shaped patty pan squash (in yellow or green varieties).
       Since you’ve been getting summer squash for the past few weeks, I figure it’s time to give you one of my favorite recipes. The original recipe called for green zucchini, but I think it’s even better with mixed summer squashes. And, to make your life even simpler, this recipe can be made successfully without the olives (so don’t worry if you have none on hand.).
Sauteed Zucchini, Basil, Tomatoes, and Olives
2 Tbs (or more) olive oil
1 to 1 ½ pounds summer squash, cut into small cubes
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, halved and pitted (optional. If you leave them out, consider adding more salt).
¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 pound pasta, cooked al dente.
       Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, garlic, and (optional) rosemary. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute until squash is just tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and olives. Saute until tomatoes just begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Mix in basil and vinegar. Drain the pasta briefly (it’s good if it’s still a bit damp, as that makes a better sauce). Add pasta to the saute pan. Stir everything gently for a minute or two while the flavors meld, adding more olive oil (or a Tbs. of water or white wine) if things seem dry. Season vegetables to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 6 servings. Modified from Bon Appetit, September 2007.

Methley Plums
       According some sources on the Internet, and my personal research, methley plums are good “snacking” plums. Plums are known for their sweet-tart flavor, and also their juiciness. Although the plums in your box are ripe enough to eat, if you prefer yours a little softer and less tart, you can leave them on the counter for a few days and they should continue to ripen. A fully ripe plum is so delicate and juicy that we
thought it better to pick them firm so they will arrive in your kitchen before they melt.

Farm Party
Sunday, September 6
The date is set! Mark your calendars now, and plan to spend the afternoon with us, for a farm tour and potluck. More details will be sent closer to the date.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 5

In this box: 1 head Lettuce, ½# Spinach, 1 Cucumbers, 1.5# summer squash , ¾# Romano pole beans, 2# All Blue potatoes, 1 box Cherry Tomatoes, 1 box Raspberries, 1 box Strawberries    (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Berries: Raspberries and Strawberries again this week! We hope you are appreciating the abundance of fruit. This warm weather brings some challenges (like getting enough water on the plants so they stay healthy), but it sure does help ripen fruit! As always, best to eat your berries soon, and keep them as cold as possible until you are ready to prepare them. Berries are incredibly perishable, especially when they are picked ripe (as ours are), and when they are organic.
       Years ago, I came across a recipe for a strawberry dip that remains one of my favorites. Originally from Jan Roberts-Dominguez (who lives in Corvallis and writes a weekly Food column for the Corvallis Gazette Times). Try this when you want to dress up your strawberries: Combine 1 cup sour cream with ¼ cup packed brown sugar. Mix well and let stand for 10 minutes. Dip individual berries in this for an elegant presentation, and a delightful and somewhat mysterious taste. I think of it as “instant cheesecake”.

Blue Potatoes
    Here’s an interesting potato! We resist growing novelty vegetables, unless we think they also have great eating quality. These All Blue potatoes have become one of our favorite potatoes. Our kids love them roasted or fried, but they are also nice boiled or steamed and dressed with butter or made into potato salad. They keep their blue color even when cooked, so would be nice mixed with other potatoes for a colorful potato salad. Plant pigments function as antioxidants in the human body, so the more colorful your diet (as long as we’re talking natural pigments), the more health-promoting. Our youngest son will parrot “loaded with antioxidants” as he gleefully snitches handfuls of raspberries from the bushes outside. These All Blue potatoes are a good choice if you’re “eating from the rainbow” for health—and they taste good!

Let’s talk about sugar
    Is there anyone who doesn’t like sweet things? Sweet is one of the basic tastes that everyone seems to enjoy. Whereas some people avoid bitter or sour flavors, sweetness is usually considered desirable. I’m not suggesting we need a diet filled with processed foods that have lots of added sugar. I’m suggesting that if vegetables and fruits taste sweet, more people will like them. And everyone seems in agreement that the most health-promoting diets include an abundance of unprocessed fruits and vegetables.
    Few would argue that fruits are generally sweet (though their sugar content varies quite a bit depending on the variety, growing conditions, health of the plants, and the maturity when picked). However, most vegetables have natural sugars also. Here’s why: Plants convert sunlight into sugar. That’s the basis of photosynthesis. From there, plants will convert sugar into starches and other more complex carbohydrates. Many vegetables will be sweetest when just picked (like peas, sweet corn, new potatoes, carrots, and beans), but will lose their sweetness as the sugars turn to starches after they are picked. Keeping them in a cold refrigerator will slow this conversion, and help them stay sweeter longer.
       Exceptions to this are the “fruits” that are typically considered vegetables. Cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers suffer when they are too cold. Refrigerator temperatures will make tomatoes taste bland, and cause cucumbers and peppers to get spots. One special note about basil. This heat-loving herb should not be refrigerated. Never. Not ever. The leaves turn black when they are too cold.
       Many leafy greens have other flavors that mask their sweetness, but even kale has sweetness if it’s grown well. We think kale is sweetest when it’s grown in cool weather. Heat causes the bitter flavors to predominate. In a future newsletter, I will talk about some tricks in the kitchen to help mellow the stronger flavors of summer-grown greens.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 4

In this box: 1 head Lettuce, ½# Salad Mix, 1-2 Cucumbers, 1.5# summer squash , ¾# Romano pole beans, 1 bunch Basil, 1 Garlic, 1 Sweet Onion, 1 box Raspberries, 1 box Strawberries   (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Berries: Raspberries and Strawberries this week! As always, best to eat your berries soon, and keep them as cold as possible until you are ready to prepare them. Berries are incredibly perishable, especially when they are picked ripe (as ours are), and when they are organic.

       The same advice is true for the Salad Mix. Keep it cold, and eat it soon. Salad mix is quite a bit more perishable than a head of lettuce. I suggest giving your salad mix a quick rinse in cold water, then dry it well (use a salad spinner or roll gently in a clean dishtowel, then put a paper towel or dry dish towel in the bottom of an airtight container and store in the fridge until ready to use).

Romano Pole Beans
       Those of you who have been members for a few years probably remember these beans from past years’ boxes. You may also remember that last year was NOT a good year for our Romano beans. We only had enough to put in half the boxes one week. Such a sad year! This year, our bean plants are much healthier—in fact, these pole beans are climbing up to the roof of our hoop house, supported by strong trellises. It’s truly a jungle in there!
    Cooking advice: Romano Pole Beans are more tender than standard green beans. They cook very quickly. We like to steam ours for about 3 minutes, just until they turn bright green. Then toss gently with a bit of butter, and serve. We also like to toss them into a stir fry (after snapping into bite-sized pieces first) with garlic, sweet onion, and olive oil.

Basil & Garlic…did someone mention Pesto?    
    Pesto is a general term for the process of mashing fresh herbs, garlic, nuts, and oil together to make a thick paste, which is then mixed with hot pasta or added to minestrone soup. Perhaps one of the most common recipes uses basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, and Parmesano-Reggiano cheese (recipe below). However, don’t be limited by tradition! Since pine nuts are a bit pricey (and not local), I have successfully used a variety of other nuts in my pesto—walnuts, sunflower seeds, and almonds can be substituted for the pine nuts. I particularly like to toast my nuts/seeds first, as that enhances the flavor.  In our household, we avoid cheese, but if you add a bit more oil and salt to the basic recipe, you won’t miss the cheese (much).
       Basic Pesto:  Blend 1 bunch basil (coarsely chopped, include the stems if tender), 1-2 cloves garlic, and ½ tsp salt in a food processor or blender until finely chopped. Then add ½ cup nuts or seeds, continue processing until everything is well blended. Then, while the blender or processor is running, slowly add ½ cup olive oil, and continue blending until everything is creamy. You may need to add a bit more oil if things seem dry. Optional: add ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, and blend briefly for a final mix. Then mix gently with 1 pound cooked pasta, or spoon a dollop into a steaming bowl of Minestrone soup.

Summer Squash: The weather this week is supposed to turn quite hot, so maybe this is a good week to fire up the barbecue. Summer squash is great on the grill. Here’s how: Preheat grill on medium-high. Cut summer squash lengthwise if small, or into ½-inch disks if larger. Brush with olive oil. Grill, cut side down first, for approximately 5 minutes per side until the surface becomes slightly browned, and they are just tender when pierced with a knife. Just so you know, the surface browning indicates that sugars in the squash are caramelizing—which is why grilling brings out the sweetness in many vegetables.
       If you haven’t used your sweet onion in a cucumber & onion salad, you can cut it into “rings”, and grill them, too, for an extraordinarily sweet treat!

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 3

In this box: 1 head Lettuce, ½# Spinach, 1-2 Cucumbers*, 1# zucchini*, *Look closely--the cukes & zucchs look like each other this week! 1 bunch Beets, 1 bunch Collards, 2# Red Potatoes, 1 box Cherry Tomatoes, 1 box Strawberries    (weights are approx.)  Everything is Organic!

Strawberries: Please plan to eat your berries soon, and keep them as cold as possible until you are ready to prepare them. Berries are incredibly perishable, especially when they are picked ripe (as ours are), and when they are organic.

Beets: I have heard beets referred to as “2 vegetables in 1,” because you can eat both the beet roots and the leaves.  Best to separate the roots from the greens, because they cook quite differently from each other. The greens are very similar to chard, and can be steamed, sautéed, or chopped into a soup. I like to stir-fry mine, and sprinkle a little vinegar on top of the greens when they are nearly cooked. You can use any kind of vinegar that you have handy—in my kitchen I have at least 3 kinds of vinegar in my cupboard-- rice vinegar when I want a mild flavor, apple cider vinegar for a rustic taste and a bit more flavor, and balsamic vinegar when I want some sweetness along with tartness.
    Beet roots can be cooked whole, or cut up first. Since ours are young, and are grown in organic soil, you can just scrub them clean, and cook with the skins on. If you want to take the skins off, the skins slip right off after they are cooked. Whole beets can be steamed (approx. 20 minutes), microwaved (covered, with ¼ cup water for 8-10 min.) or slow-cooked in the oven (covered, at 350 for 40 – 60 minutes) until tender. Once they are cool enough to handle, slip the skins off, and slice or dice, and toss with salt, pepper, and vinaigrette dressing—nice with a balsamic or citrus vinaigrette, particularly a vinaigrette made with fresh orange juice and a mild-flavored vinegar.

Collards are closely related to Kale, so you can use them interchangeably in any of your favorite recipes. Compared with spinach, collard & kale take longer to cook, and whereas spinach will become very soft, collards & kales stay somewhat firm even when cooked. I found this recipe many years ago, but it is still my favorite way to feature collards. It’s nice if your feta cheese has a nice strong flavor (imported sheep’s feta tends to be stronger than domestic cow’s milk feta. Ask at your favorite cheese counter for their most flavorful feta).
Collard Greens with Pasta and Feta
6 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bunch Collard Greens, rolled and sliced into ribbons, then coarsely chopped
½ pint of cherry tomatoes, halved, or quartered if large
1 lb. pasta penne, fusilli, or shells
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
* Bring salted pasta water to a boil.
* Heat oil in a deep sauté pan. Add onions and cook over medium heat 10 min.
* Add collards, stir for 2 minutes. Then add tomatoes. Cover, and cook 10 minutes over medium-low heat.
* Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente.
* Crumble feta into vegetables in sauté pan. Mix gently.
* Drain pasta and add to vegetables and feta. Simmer over low heat for 3 minutes.
* Serve with freshly ground pepper.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 2

In this box: ½# Spinach, 1 Cucumber, ¾# Broccoli (from Groundwork Organic Farm), 1 Sweet Red Onion, 2# Fava Beans, 1 bunch Radishes, 1 head Fresh Garlic, 1 bunch Garlic tops, 1# Zucchini, 1 basket Raspberries   (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
Raspberries: Please keep your berries as cold as possible, and plan to eat them quickly. Berries are incredibly perishable, especially when they are picked ripe (as ours are), and when they are organic. We take great care to chill our raspberries and strawberries as soon as they are picked, so they start out cold when they are packed into your box. However, this week our refrigeration failed. Even though the cooler was 33-degrees when we went to bed last night, it was 60 degrees in there this morning! Please eat your raspberries AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Garlic tops: Here’s a lovely vegetable that you may not have seen before (unless you’ve been a Harvest Box member in past years). You can cook garlic tops any way you would cook asparagus—steam, roast, or grill. As with asparagus, I recommend breaking off the bottom few inches, wherever it snaps easily, as the very bottom parts can be stringy. My personal cooking preference (because it’s easy) is to steam them for about 10 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a sharp knife. They are also quite popular cut into bite-sized pieces and cooked in a stir-fry.

Fava Beans

     For those of you who know fava beans, I just need to tell you that these beans are so young and fresh that they only need a minimum of cooking time.
     If you’re new to fava beans, read on: First, take 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. Blanch the beans for 2 minutes, then plunge into ice water to chill quickly. Finally, (this step is optional, depending on the ultimate recipe) pop the bright green, tender bean out of its skin. Leaving the skins on is optional. 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 more tender bean, if you leave the peels on you get a more chewy texture, but the beans hold their shape better in the final dish. Taste a few beans, and then decide.

Edamame style: Serve blanched fava beans in a small dish, with a touch of salt. Take one bean at a time, and pop it out of the skin directly into your mouth. Discard the skin.

Fava Beans with Yogurt and Lemon
1. Heat 2 Tbs olive oil over moderate heat in a frypan until the oil shimmers.
2. Add 1-2 cups blanched, peeled fava beans and 1 clove garlic, sliced. Sauté for 3 minutes.
3. Then add ½ sweet onion, thinly sliced. Sauté for 3 more minutes.
4. Prepare dressing: whisk together 1 Tbs olive oil, zest and juice from ½ lemon, and a pinch of salt.
5. Toss sautéed favas with lemon dressing and cool for 5 minutes.
6. Gently fold in ¼ cup yogurt and a generous handful of fresh dill, basil, or parsley. Eat warm or chilled.

     If you want to try something different, and use the pods as well, sauté lots of garlic and onion in a generous amount of olive oil until soft. Snap off the stem ends, and pull strings off fava pods. Cut your pods into 1-inch lengths, and add to the sautéed garlic. Stir-fry for 3 minutes, then add tomato paste, and a little water (6 oz. tomato paste, ½ cup water for 2 pounds of beans). Add a handful of fresh dill, parsley, or basil. Cover and simmer until the beans are tender, and the sauce becomes thickened (about 10 minutes). Add salt to taste.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2015: Week 1

In this box: 1 Oak Leaf Lettuce (from Springhill Organic Farm, 1 Sweet Red Onion, 1# Sugar Snap Peas (from Springhill rganic Farm), 2# New Potatoes (red), 1 bunch Kale, 1 basket Cherries   (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
       Tom and I like to joke about how there’s “never a dull moment” on the farm, and this past week was no exception. Sometimes it’s the weather, sometimes it’s because we’re short on something we want to put in our Harvest Box, sometimes it’s because we have parents & children, and sometimes it’s a technology challenge. Well, this past week, we’ve had just about every one of those challenges! I think we’ve gracefully handled all but the death of my beloved computer—I hope everyone received my email note to pick up a paper copy of this week’s newsletter. All my data was saved (whew!), but I still need to finish downloading a program onto my new computer before I will be able to post the newsletters to the web site. Hopefully by next week, I will resolve that little issue, and you can again read the current newsletters on the web site!
       The weather has influenced not only today’s box, but future boxes as well. We are SO grateful that we picked cherries for today’s box on Sunday. Because the rain this week will make all the remaining cherries of this early variety swell and crack. Sigh. We knew we were taking a chance trying to grow organic cherries in Corvallis, but when the weather cooperates, they are just too delicious to pass up! The cherries this week are a variety called Early Burlat. This is an heirloom French variety that ripens very early in the season. 
    Aside from the past few days, the weather has been incredibly lovely since January. Remarkably dry, and warm weather this winter & early spring enabled us to plant some things earlier than usual, and hastened the growth & ripening of a number of our crops. We had lovely sugar snap peas a month ago, but our peas peaked early. We weren’t going to have enough of our own peas for everyone—but we really wanted to put peas in the boxes today. So, we called on our friend Jamie, at Springhill Organic Farm (in North Albany), who is famous for his sugar snap peas. Fortunately, his crop was planted later than ours, so today’s box has a pound of sugar snap peas from Springhill Farm.
    Sugar snap peas can be eaten raw (dipped in hummus), or lightly steamed and tossed with butter. I suggest snapping off the stem end, and pulling the bit of “string” off before cooking or eating.
    As with our peas, our spring-planted lettuce and carrots also matured early, and we don’t have enough for all our members, so we called on Springhill Farm again, and Jamie offered us his lovely green oak leaf lettuce. The carrots today are from our friends Gabe & Sophie at Groundwork Organic Farm. Gabe worked for us years ago (in fact, it was 18 years ago, because our son who is graduating from high school next week was just a baby!) before starting his own farm just north of Eugene.  We collaborate frequently with Gabe & Sophie, and also with Jamie, so you are likely to see a few items from them in future weeks as well.

This week’s box just begs for a cucumber & onion salad. Add a little oil & vinegar, and maybe some feta cheese, and you have a meal. By the way, cucumbers store best at room temperature—but loosely covered with plastic so they don’t shrivel. Unlike most cucumbers in the grocery store, ours are NOT waxed to prevent moisture loss.

New Potatoes: Potatoes need to be stored in the dark or the skins will turn green. The green parts are not good to eat. I generally store my potatoes in a plastic bag (to keep them from drying out), in the fridge (to keep them cool), inside a paper bag (to keep them in the dark) — but I strongly suggest labeling the bag with the date & type of potato before they get lost at the back of the fridge. Better yet, cook your new potatoes this week, when they are really at their best (there will be plenty more potatoes in the coming weeks). Red potatoes are lovely steamed and made into potato salad with your favorite dressing, either oil & vinegar, or the classic mayonnaise dressing. These red potatoes would also be just wonderful steamed until tender and tossed with a touch of butter.