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        2019 Denison Farms Newsletters


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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019:  Week 25

In this box:
1/2# Salad Mix, 2 Bell Peppers, 1 Fennel, 1 Delicata squash, 1 Yellow Onion, 1 bunch Carrots, 2# All Blue Potatoes, 3 - 4 Limequats, 2# Sweet potatoes, 2# Goldrush Apples (from LaMancha Ranch & Orchard)   (weights are approximate) Everything is Organic!

Harvest Box 2020
We don’t yet know the specific details of next year’s Harvest Box, but we expect it will be similar to this year’s program. Even if the farm transitions to new owners (see Newsletter Week 23 for more information on the potential sale of our farm), the new farmers plan to keep a weekly Harvest Box (with newsletters) June through Thanksgiving. Tom & I will stay on to train the new owners and help facilitate a smooth transition.

       Not just tiny lemons, the little citrus fruits in your box are called limequats. We didn’t make it up! The limequat is a cross between a kumquat and a key lime (first bred in 1909). Limequats taste like limes, but they are more tolerant of cold weather than either of the parents. Tom decided to grow limequats because he really likes limes, but it’s too cold to grow limes here.
       What do you do with a limequat? These juicy little fruits can be used, skin and all, to flavor beverages or to enhance any number of main dishes or sides. They are particularly nice instead of limes in salsa and/or guacamole. You can use the juice just like lime juice, and then slice the skin finely and add it to stir-fry dishes or anything that would benefit from the flavor of lime zest. Don’t bother “zesting” the skin. The white pith is mild, and you can just mince the whole peel. Except for the seeds, you can eat the whole thing.

    Since we didn’t plant any celery this year, I wanted to put fennel in this final box. I think fennel is a great substitute for celery in a Thanksgiving stuffing. Fennel is also nice instead of celery in spaghetti sauce or any other dish that starts with a soffritto--a sauté of carrots, onions, and celery (with or without bell peppers or parsley or garlic, depending whether the cultural heritage of the dish is Italian, Spanish, Cajun, or French).
    Preparing Fennel: We like to use the entire fennel, including the leaf stalks & fronds. First, cut the leaf stalks off just above the bulb. Slice the stalks (and frilly leaves) across the fibers as thinly as possible. Then toss into a sauté pan with onions & carrots to start a soffritto. Then slice the bulb portion either crosswise or lengthwise, and enjoy the crunchy bulb raw or cooked, any way you would use celery. My favorite part is the solid core at the very center.

Goldrush Apples
     This is a rather unique apple. The flavor is best described as intense, and they taste tart when eaten fresh soon after they are picked. However, underneath the tartness is an incredible sweetness. There are two ways to enhance the sweetness and mellow the tartness--you can cook them (applesauce, apple pie, apple galette, apple cake), or store them in your fridge until Christmas. After cooking or storing, the balance of sweet-to-tart shifts towards the sweet side. We think this is a remarkable apple.

Fresh & Local Produce through the winter
   Even though your weekly Harvest Box season is over, you can still find local, organic produce through the winter. In Corvallis, we supply the First Alternative with salad mix, onions, peppers, and some potatoes.    
In addition, we bring a full selection of winter produce to a couple of Farmers Markets on Saturdays in the winter.
* McMinnville Grange Farmers Market, at the McMinnville Grange (Old Sheridan Road) every Saturday from 10 am - 2pm (except for December 28th when our farm crew is on vacation) www.facebook.com/McMinnvilleGrangeFarmMarket
* Corvallis Indoor Winter Market starting January 11 through April 11, 9 am - 1pm, www.facebook.com/CorvallisIndoorWinterMarket
Watch our web site for updates of the farm transition, and for next year’s membership information.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019:  Week 24

In this box: 1/2# Spinach, 1 bunch Chard, 1 Butternut squash, ½# Shallots, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 Meyer Lemon, 4 Fuyu Persimmons, 1 basket Strawberries,  2# Crimson Gold Apples (from LaMancha Ranch & Orchard)  (weights are approximate) Everything is Organic!

Vacation Credits & Storage Vegetables
Only 1 more box this season!
You can still order storage produce (exchange for vacation credits, or at discount cost), or request an extra box next week. Let me know by Sunday, please.

       We have been putting apples in the Harvest Boxes frequently. Perhaps they are accumulating in your refrigerator? I was looking through the November 2019 Eating Well magazine, and came across a list of creative ideas for serving apples. Especially as Thankgiving is nearing, I’m imagining an appetizer plate of sliced apples with toppings for the feasting day, or simply something novel for the lunchbox:
       9 Things to Pair with an Apple (from Eating Well Magazine, Nov. 2019)
1. Yogurt & honey & cinnamon
2. Whipped cream cheese & sweet pickle relish
3. Extra-sharp cheddar cheese
4. Arugula & bacon
5. Almond butter & orange marmalade
6. Balsamic vinegar & brown sugar & ground pepper
7. Ricotta & lemon zest & chopped pistachios
8. Berry vinaigrette & walnuts
9. Prosciutto & grainy mustard.
Fuyu Persimmons can be eaten when they are crunchy (like an apple), or (if you prefer) you can leave them on the counter until they are soft.  (Hachiya persimmons, on the other hand, must be as soft as jelly before they are edible). Color isn’t the best judge of ripeness. Ripe fuyu persimmons can vary in color from deep dark orange, to a lighter yellow-orange, or greenish-yellow.
       The persimmons in your box today are ready to eat, if you prefer yours firm; but you can also leave them a few days at room temperature to become a bit softer. Opinions vary, but I think Fuyu persimmons are at their best when they are slighty soft, like a ripe peach or mango. The fruit should give very slightly to thumb pressure, but not much.
       I suggest leaving your persimmons on the counter until each fruit reaches that slightly-soft feel. Then refrigerate each fruit until you’re ready to eat it. In the refrigerator, they will keep for a week or more.
       To serve Fuyu persimmons: cut off the calyx (the dry, green part), 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 spread on warm toast instead of jam, or in a bowl with yogurt, or sliced thinly to garnish a cheesecake.

Meyer Lemons, for the 3rd week in a row!
    I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that Meyer Lemons are a fairly new crop for us. This is the first year we’ve really had more than just a few (the plants are 3 years old). We’re excited to offer them for the third week in your box. I have been enjoying making salad dressing with lemon juice and olive oil (squeeze lemon juice into a small jar that has a tight-fitting lid, add approx. the same amount of olive oil, fasten the lid tightly, and shake well). We find the Meyer lemon rinds are nice cut into small slivers, and added to a stir-fry, salad, or yogurt. You can the whole rind, including the white part (a.k.a. the pith). And here’s a bit I found on Andrew Weil’s web site regarding the potential nutritional benefits of citrus pith:
Although it’s certainly not where all the nutrients are, the pith can be good for you. It is high in fiber that may help lower cholesterol levels and contains as much vitamin C as the fruit itself. Pith also contains assorted flavonoids, including hesperidin, which may help blood vessels function better and may reduce inflammation. Another flavonoid found in the pith and peel as well as the fruit, is naringenin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and some ability to reduce carbohydrate absorption from the intestinal tract, possibly reducing rapid rises in blood sugar after eating (www.drweil.com)

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019:  Week 23

In this box: 1/2# Salad Mix, 1 Green Cabbage, 1 Fennel, 1 Red Onion, 1 bunch Green Kale, 2# Potatoes, 2# Sweet Potatoes, 1 Delicata squash, 1 Meyer Lemon, 1 basket Strawberries (weights are approximate) Everything is Organic!

Vacation Credits & Storage Vegetables
There are only 2 more boxes in this season.
Check last week’s newsletter (below) for details about cashing in your vacation vouchers for storage produce.

Looking ahead toward next year
       We have been grateful for this recent long stretch of dry weather. Fall is the season when Tom maps out our farm plan for next year, and orders seeds & fertilizer. Our crew spends most of October (and into November) preparing ground so we can plant as early as possible next spring. Any preparations that can happen in the fall make for a much smoother start to the next season. Things are looking good, and we have many acres of ground prepared for spring planting.
       There are some changes brewing for our farm next year. About 6 years ago, Tom & I started planning for retirement. Not wanting to rush into anything, we are aiming to be retired by 2024. We spent several years talking to farming friends, and looking for some younger farmer(s) to take over our operation. We also looked for ways to pass the farm on to our employees. None of these approaches seemed fruitful, so we listed the farm with a realtor about 18 months ago, expecting that it could take a couple years to find a suitable successor.
       Last winter, we began negotiating with a young couple who grow salad mix, and wanted to buy about half of our farm. After months of conversation, they purchased half of our farm in September. The new owners don’t need that much land next year, so we will rent part of that acreage back from them next year.
       Shortly after we closed on the sale of the first half of the farm, we were approached by another group interested in buying the rest of the farm. Things are far from certain, but we think it’s time to let you know our farm might transition to new ownership in January. If the sale happens, the new owners plan to grow the same crops with the same employees, to keep going to all the same Farmers Markets, and to continue the same Harvest Box program. Tom & I will work with the new owners next year to teach them how we run the farm. Our hope is that very little would change next year--except that someone else would be writing the newsletters. This seems like an ideal scenario from our perspective. We feel fortuate to have found some people who are eager to continue to farm this land to produce food for our local community. We hope our employees and customers feel comfortable through the transition.

Quinoa and Sweet Potato Soup
This recipe originally came from the Oregonian. I lost the recipe, but not before sending it to my Aunt in Vermont who made it last week when I was visiting. Now the circle is complete, because I asked her to send the recipe back to me so I can share it with you. The original source was “Saveur Soups and Stews,” 2015, by Weldon Owen.
This healthy vegetarian one-pot meal relies on chunks of sweet potatoes, leafy kale, and protein-packed quinoa for heartiness. Almond butter adds nutty richness to the spiced cold-weather soup. To save time, prep the garlic and ginger and measure out the ground spices while the onion is cooking, then add the spices to the onion all at once.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil                    
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
5 cups vegetable stock    
2 cups coarsely chopped kale
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup almond butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Heat oil in an 8-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion until slightly caramelized, 8 minutes. Stir in cumin, chile flakes, cinnamon, coriander, garlic, and ginger and cook until fragrant, 1-2 min.

Add sweet potatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are tender, 10 minutes. Add kale and quinoa and cook until quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes.
Using a ladle, transfer about 1 cup stock from pan into a bowl, whisk in almond butter, and return to pan. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019:  Week 22

In this box: 1/2# Salad Mix, 1 bunch Carrots, 2 Bell Peppers, 2 Leeks, 1 bunch Italian Kale, 1 Butternut squash, 1/3# Fresh Ginger, 1 Meyer Lemon, 2# Concord Pears, 2# Cameo Apples (weights are approximate) Everything is Organic!

Meyer Lemons
       A few years ago, I told Tom that if we could grow lemons, then I would be satisfied to eat nothing but locally-grown produce all year. It was sort of a joke, but he took that as a challenge, and now we have lemons! Before we grew lemons, I occasionally bought them at the grocery store because I love a simple olive oil/lemon juice dressing for my salads. Meyer lemons are less tart and more juicy the typical lemon at the grocery store.  They are also more frost hardy. We enjoy using the peel as well as the juice. Chopped finely, the peel is nice in stir frys, curries, salads, and salsas. My favorite recipe for braised chicken is to toss the rind from a lemon (Just the rind. You can use the juice for salad dressing), a fresh rosemary sprig, and ¼ cup white wine into a covered dutch oven with a whole chicken (with salt & pepper, of course). Then cook it for several hours at 250 degrees (or in a slow cooker on high) until the chicken melts from the bone, and the rich chicken juices are flavored with lemon and rosemary. This recipe feels very Italian or Greek, as rosemary and lemon are common in those cuisines.

       The Meyer lemon is believed to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange.  This explains why it is sweeter than a regular lemon, and if left on the tree long enough becomes more orange-like in color and flavor.  It is named after the Dutch plant explorer Frank Meyer who brought it to the US from China in 1908.  Meyer spent 13 years collecting useful and ornamental plants for the USDA. During many trips to Mexico and Asia, he collected over 2500 different food and ornamental plants. He died in China while rafting on the Yangtze River.
The Cameo apples in your box came from Martin at Gala Springs Organic Farm in Boardman.  In past years, we have Martin’s apples many weeks in the fall, but the unusual cold snap and blizzard that hit Montana and Idaho in September, brought low enough temperatures to Boardman to damage much of his crop.  This will be the only week this year for Martin’s apples in the box.
       We had our own weather-related damage last week when the 22 degree temperature (Wednesday morning) killed our tomatoes in the greenhouses.  That temperature is not unusual for late October here, but the last two seasons we had tomatoes past thanksgiving, so we are a little disappointed at the early end to the season. 

Leek Pie--a great way to use up a couple large leeks!
2 -3 large leeks, cleaned and sliced into thin rings (use the white part and 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. Optional: cover with top crust. Bake at 350 degrees, 35-40 minutes.

And here’s a cheese-free version of Leek Pie that also uses lemon!
2 - 3 large leeks, cleaned and sliced into thin rings
2 Tbs. butter or oil, ½ tsp salt
1 egg, 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 on medium heat for 30 minutes. Add coconut milk, eggs, lemon or lime juice, and grated lemon (or lime) rind. Pour into pie crust. Cover with top crust (optional). Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

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Denison Farms 2019 Harvest Box: Week 21

In this box: 1 bunch Arugula, 1 box Grape Tomatoes, 1 Red Onion, 1 bunch Carrots, 2# Potatoes, 2# Sweet Potatoes, 1 Delicata Squash, 1 box Figs, 1 box Strawberries, 2# Crimson Topaz Apples  (from LaMancha Ranch & Orchard) (weights are approximate). Everything is Organic!

This is Tom writing again, as Elizabeth is with her mom again this week.    We started the harvest box in 1998 when our first child was less than a year old.  I sold lettuce at my first farmers market in 1976 when I was 21 years old.  Since 1978 I have been at farmers markets almost every summer Saturday, so I probably have met more people at market than anywhere else in my life.  Although we sell a lot of produce through wholesale distribution, we have always enjoyed our direct contact with people through the harvest box, and farmers markets.  The regular face to face time promotes a feeling of connection with those for whom we grow food.

Since I am what passes for a morning person in our family, I am the one who drives the truck to our market in Beaverton.  Twenty plus years ago Beaverton was named “the best west coast farmers market” by Sunset Magazine, and there are over 100 vendors interacting with over 20,000 shoppers on a good summer Saturday.  Intricate choreography is needed for all the vendors to arrive in their spaces, unload their goods, and set up what amounts to a small town between 6:30 when we are allowed to enter the lot, and 9:00 when the market opens.  Vendors arrive in everything from compact cars to large trucks, and if two large trucks are unloading side by side it can block further access.

Leaving the farm by 4:20 am usually gets me to the entrance of the market by 5:45 and in a position where our truck can glide into our space without causing gridlock.  Last Saturday however, just south of Woodburn on I-5 all three northbound lanes came to a complete stop due to a terrible accident.  From 5:20 until 8:35 hundreds of us were parked, not knowing when the road would open.  I texted our market team and the market manager that our truck would be late. No vehicles can drive in the market after 8:30 for safety reasons, but I was told where to park on the adjacent street.

Five hours after leaving the farm I arrived at the market, which had opened 20 minutes earlier and was full of shoppers.  I was welcomed by a swarm of volunteers who moved our produce, tables, scales, etc. from the truck on the street to our booth space through crowds of people.  In 40 minutes the truck was unloaded, produce was displayed, and the scales were set up so people could check out their vegetables and berries.  Our staff, other vendors, employees of the market, and helpful customers all working together did what usually takes eight of us two and a half hours.

Then the truck from another farm which had been stuck further back in the same traffic jam arrived.  The group of volunteers went to help them unload and set up their display.

Neither of the farms that arrived late could have had a decent day if people had not joyfully pitched in to help.  So many people helped that I don’t even know who they all were to thank them. 
It reminds me of the stories I hear from my grandparents generation when a community would come together to raise a barn.

Vacation Credits & Storage Vegetables
If you have a credit voucher for vacation weeks, and you can’t get to the Corvallis Farmers Market to redeem it, you can order a box of storage produce (1 box per voucher) to be delivered with your Harvest Box any week between now and the end of the season (Nov. 27).

Here are the options for storage produce:
Roma tomatoes (20#)
Roasting peppers (10#)
Potatoes (20#)
Storage onions (20#)
Red onions (20#)
Sunshine squash (20#)
Delicata squash (20#)
Asian Pears (15#)
Concord Pears (15#)
Sweet potatoes (8#)
Fresh ginger (1.25#)
Fresh turmeric (1.25#)

OR we can send two Harvest Boxes on request.
Just send me an email (a day or two in advance) if you would like a box of storage produce.

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Denison Farms 2019 Harvest Box: Week 20

In this box: ½# Salad Mix, 1 Red Bell Pepper, 1 Yellow Onion, 2 Leeks, 1 bunch Purple Kale, 2# Potatoes, 1 Butternut Squash, 1 box Figs, 2# Jonagold Apples (from LaMancha Ranch & Orchard) (weights are approximate). Everything is Organic!

Butternut Squash   
I have to give you this recipe for Butternut Squash Soup. It has been my favorite thing to do with Butternut Squash for more than 25 years.

Butternut Squash Soup:
  1. Peel and cube 1 medium butternut squash.
  2. Cook for 25 minutes in 5 cups of water or stock.
  3. Sauté 2 cups chopped onion in 2 Tbs. oil. Add to the pot with the squash.
  4. Puree with an immersion blender, or cool and purée in batches in a food processor.
  5. Melt 4 Tbs butter in a sauté pan. Stir in ¼ cup flour and cook 2 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Add to soup.
  6. (Optional) add 2 Tbs grated fresh ginger.
  7. Add ¾ cup cream (or regular milk, or non-dairy milk), 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp tamari. Simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  8. Garnish with ½ cup sliced and toasted almonds and black pepper to taste.
Other things to do with Butternut Squash:
Because it has smooth skin, butternut is an easy squash to peel. Another attribute of this squash is that it holds its shape when cut into chunks and cooked. This makes it a lovely addition to a sauté, curry, or stew. I think butternut squash is particularly nice in a coconut milk curry--perhaps with onion, leek, potatoes, garbanzo beans (or shrimp), and kale. Add curry spices and a can of coconut milk.

Roasted Butternut:
Peel squash and cut into chunks. Coat with olive oil and a little salt, then place in a single layer in a large roasting pan. Cook in a 375 degree oven for an hour or longer, until your house smells like caramelized squash. When I make this recipe, I just leave the pan on the stove to cool, and find myself grazing on a piece or two every time I walk through the kitchen.

I had to dig way back in my files to find the last year we had enough figs to put them in the Harvest Boxes. I think it was 2013. In December of that year, we had an extreme cold weather event. The temperature on our farm got down to 2 degrees! In the spring, we discovered that the cold weather had killed our fig trees to the ground. Fortunately the roots survived, and the trees started to regrow during the 2014 season. We have had a few figs every season since then, but never enough to share with everyone.
    The story Tom remembers about that cold weather event in December 2013 is that we needed to make a delivery to Portland on one of the really cold days, and our brand new truck wouldn’t start. Apparently when diesel gets that cold, it is too thick to flow from the diesel tank to the engine. So, we plugged in a couple of space heaters, aimed one at the fuel filter and another at the engine until the diesel was warm enough to start the truck. Then we moved the heaters into the box on the back of the truck to warm the air enough that our produce wouldn’t freeze when we loaded the truck for the delivery. Ah, the memories…..
    Some of you may not be familiar with fresh figs. You can eat the whole fruit (except for the bit of stem on the pointy end). I like to just eat them straight out of the basket, or cut them up into my oatmeal. If you want to do something fancier, here are some simple ideas from Sunset magazine August 2008: 1. Slice figs in half, drizzle with honey, and broil until bubbly. 2. Wrap figs with a strip of pancetta, and cook in a frying pan over medium heat, turning, until fat renders and pancetta crisps (or thread onto skewers and cook on the grill); 3. Cut figs in half, and top each half with blue cheese or goat chevre.

Vacation Credits & Storage Vegetables
If you have a credit voucher for vacation weeks, and you can’t get to the Corvallis Farmers Market to redeem it, you can order a box of storage produce (1 box per voucher) to be delivered with your Harvest Box any week between now and the end of the season (Nov. 27).

Here are the options for storage produce:
Roma tomatoes (20#)
Roasting peppers (10#)
Potatoes (20#)
Storage onions (20#)
Red onions (20#)
Sunshine squash (20#)
Delicata squash (20#)
Asian Pears (15#)
Concord Pears (15#)
Sweet potatoes (8#)
Fresh ginger (1.25#)
Fresh turmeric (1.25#)

OR we can send two Harvest Boxes on request.
Just send me an email (a day or two in advance) if you would like a box of storage produce.

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Denison Farms 2019 Harvest Box: Week 19

In this box:
½# Salad Mix, 1 Green Pepper, 1 Red Onion, 1 Yellow Onion, 1 box Grape Tomatoes, 2# Sweet Potatoes, 1 Sunshine Squash, 1 box Strawberries, 2# Concord Pears, 2# Crimson Topaz Apples (from LaMancha Ranch & Orchard)  (weights are approximate). Everything is Organic!

I have been aware of the passing of time lately. On a small scale, the seasons have really shifted. Fall is here, with cool mornings, some fog, and (according to those who predict our weather) a lot of rain in the forecast.
       On a grander scale, I notice a magnificent oak tree out the office window, and remember when our oldest son was a toddler and the tree was just a seedling. We’ve been offering weekly Harvest Boxes since the time both the oak tree and our son (now 22) were very young. Over that time, many of our members have welcomed new babies into their families, bid farewell to parents & friends, and passed through major life events. I appreciate the kind words and thoughts of support for my mom these past few months. She is doing great with her new hip, and recovery from the surgery has been smooth. I will still visit her every couple of months, because she needs extra support in order to continue living independently in her old house. My next trip will be the last week of October. We try to keep things running as seamlessly as possible while I’m off the farm. Thanks in advance for your understanding if things go awry.
       Unfortunately, with all my travels to the East Coast this year--first for our son’s college graduation in May, and then repeated times to visit my mother, we are not able to offer a farm tour this season.
       On the farm as well, things keep changing. In the early years, we didn’t grow salad mix. About 15 years ago, when we were looking for ways to keep our best employees through the winter, we started growing more crops that can be harvested through the winter months. Now it’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t grow salad mix. Maybe that’s just a sign that my memory isn’t as good as it used to be.
       When we first offered Harvest Boxes (1998 was the first year), we didn’t grow sweet potatoes or pears. The sweet potatoes, like the ginger last week, became a project for Tom because he is always interested in “pushing the envelope”; finding things that are not commonly grown in our climate, and figuring out how to grow them. Each crop has a learning curve, and it takes a few years to work out all the particulars. Sweet potatoes grow well in South Carolina and California, and they are happiest in sandy soil. They require a little extra attention to grow well in our heavier soil and Corvallis climate. We are proud to offer locally grown sweet potatoes this week!
       Sweet Potato storage: Don’t refrigerate sweet potatoes! They keep best on the kitchen counter. When sweet potatoes get too cold, their texture gets weird, and they don’t keep well. Your best bet is to leave them on the counter, where they will keep for weeks. We have a couple sweet potato recipes on the recipe blog on our web site, or see below:
    Sweet Potato recipe: My favorite way to cook sweet potatoes is to roast them in the oven until they are very soft, and your house smells sweet. You can roast them whole, or cut them in disks and coat both the cut sides (generously) with olive oil. Then place in a pan (to catch any juices) and bake/roast in the oven at 350 - 375 degrees until very soft,    about 60 minutes or more, depending on size. If you cook them whole, you don’t need to coat the skin with oil.

Crimson Topaz Apples
    We have been putting apples from La Mancha Ranch & Orchard in the box for several weeks, but I haven’t had newsletter space until this week to give you more of the story. We have been collaborating with David Landis and Anita Azerenko (the owners of La Mancha Ranch & Orchard) for many years. They have a gorgeous farm in the foothills of the Cascades, above Sweet Home, where they grow organic apples, hazelnuts, peaches, apricots, and a few beef cattle.   Crimson Topaz is a relatively new apple which weas bred at The Institute of Experimental Botany in Rozvojova, Czech Republic, and released in the 1990’s.  It’s crisp, juicy texture makes it great for fresh eating.

Vacation Credits & Storage Vegetables

If you have a credit voucher for vacation weeks, and you can’t get to the Corvallis Farmers Market to redeem it, you can order a box of storage produce (1 box per voucher) to be delivered with your Harvest Box any week between now and the end of the season (Nov. 27).

Here are the options for storage produce:
Roma tomatoes (20#)
Roasting peppers (10#)
Potatoes (20#)
Storage onions (20#)
Red onions (20#)
Sunshine squash (20#)
Delicata squash (20#)
Asian Pears (15#)
Concord Pears (15#)
Sweet potatoes (8#)
Fresh ginger (1.25#)
Fresh turmeric (1.25#)

OR we can send two Harvest Boxes on request.

Just send me an email (a day or two in advance) if you would like a box of storage produce.
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Denison Farms 2019 Harvest Box: Week 18

In this box:
1 bunch Russian Kale, 2 Bell peppers, ½# Shallots, 2# Potatoes, 1 Leek, ¼# Fresh Ginger, 1 bu Lemongrass, 1 box Grape Tomatoes, 2# Jonagold Apples (from LaMancha Ranch & Orchard)  (weights are approximate). Everything is Organic!

Fresh Ginger & Lemongrass!   
      Here are a couple of items that you don’t often find grown locally. A number of years ago, Tom read about a farm in Massachussetts that was growing ginger (a plant widely grown in more tropical climates), and he took it on as a challenge. With careful attention to growing conditions, we are able to get fresh ginger in Corvallis! Lemongrass also needs some careful tending and special care when the weather goes below freezing.
       Cooking with Fresh ginger: Fresh ginger is different from the ginger root you can find in grocery stores. When really fresh, the ginger doesn’t have stringy fibers throughout the root. This makes it easy to cook with, because you just mince the entire piece (after rinsing, and rubbing off the skin). Fresh ginger is what is used to make candied ginger, and the thinly-slice pickled ginger served with sushi. You can just toss minced ginger into a soup, or a stir-fry for an extra zingy flavor.
       Storage: If you can’t use your ginger this week, I suggest you freeze whatever you don’t need right away. You can freeze the whole piece in a zip-top bag, and slice or grate just the amount needed for each recipe right from the freezer.
       We have a number of ginger recipes on our recipe blog on the web site (www.denisonfarms.com), so here I will print only a couple recipes. The first one I just received (and modified slightly) from the Corvallis Sustainabily Coalition’s “Simply Seasonal” recipe file for
Ginger-Peanut Sauce
1 one-inch chunk of ginger, peeled and minced finely
       1 small garlic clove, minced
       ½ cup creamy peanut butter
       2 Tbs.tamari (soy sauce)
       1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
       1 tsp light brown sugar (or honey to taste)
       ¼ tsp chli flakes
       1/3 cup water
Mix all ingredients together, and serve over rice & vegetables. Great on stir-fried kale!

Thai Lemongrass Coconut Soup (modified from Bon Apetit December 2009)
1 bunch lemongrass           
2 Tbs vegetable oil           
2 cups chopped onion           
1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger       
1 jalapeno or Thai chile, thinly sliced   
3 cups vegetable, fish, or chicken broth   
½ cup sake                   
2 cans coconut milk
3 Tbs. fish sauce
3 Tbs. fresh cilantro leaves
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
8 oz. Red Snapper, Ling Cod, prawns, or boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut crosswise into thin strips

    Cut off the top half of lemongrass stalks (use for soup stock or tea). Peel one or two outer layers from base of lemongrass (if fibrous), then mince tender inner portion. Heat oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and ginger; cook until onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add hot peppers and lemongrass; stir one minute. Add broth and sake; simmer 5 minutes. Add coconut milk, fish sauce, cilantro leaves, and lime juice; simmer 30 minutes. Add fish or chicken and simmer just until cooked through, about 4 minutes. Garnish with cilantro leaves and green onions.  Serves 8.
       Notes about fresh Lemongrass: You can use all parts of the lemongrass bunch. However, the outer leaves are fibrous, and if used in soup, should be left in large enough pieces to remove before eating. This particular recipe calls for mincing the tender inner leaves finely. Other recipes suggest bruising the inner leaves to release flavor. In this particular soup, mincing the lemongrass adds a nice texture to the finished product. Make sure you mince as finely as possible, or give it a whirl in your food processor.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019: week 17

In this box: 1 bunch Kale, 2 Italian or Bell peppers, 4 Jalapeno peppers, 6 ears Corn--this is the LAST WEEK for corn!, 2 Red Onions, 2# Potatoes, 1 Delicata Squash, 1# Tomatoes, 1 box Strawberries, 2# Liberty Apples (from LaMancha Ranch & Orchard) (weights are approximate). Everything is Organic!

Delicata Squash
One of the easiest of the winter squashes--because they are smallish, cook quickly, and very sweet. I like to cut them in half (lengthwise), then scoop out the seeds, and place cut-side-down in a baking dish with ¼” of water. Bake (350 degrees) for about 45 minutes, until soft. You can eat the skin!
    Delicata can also be sliced into “smiles” and steamed for 10 minutes.

Jalapeno peppers
Hot peppers were never served in the household where I grew up. My father was sensitive to spicy food, so they didn’t even cross the threshhold. I had no idea that many food cultures around the world use hot peppers as much as I use onions--which is to say, daily.  In recent years, I have learned to use a little hot pepper to spice up a lot of meals. If you have more than you can use in a week, you can cut them up (take out the seeds), and stick them in a zip-top bag in the freezer. Then slice off a few slivers through the winter when you make a pot of flavorful chili, or a quick dinner of spicy eggs or jalapeno quesadillas.

Trade Box tales
In the first years that we offered Harvest Boxes, we conducted end-of-season evaluations. Over the years, we realized that we get better feedback by noticing what turns up in the trade boxes. Last week, I had the opportunity to deliver boxes to our Albany & Salem locations. I enjoyed very much meeting and greeting our members at our Court Street location, and I was delighted to see the trade box in action.
       By the end of the evening, the Court Street trade box had accumulated Shishito peppers, but there were always a couple other items to choose from if someone wanted to trade in their peppers. Interestingly, the South Salem pick up site filled with chard (which no one turned in at Court Street), and the Albany trade box ended up with several bags of pears. Each week, I check the trade boxes at the end of the delivery, and make note of items that are left. Rarely are any two trade boxes the same. Each trade box seems to have it’s own signature, and they can vary widely from one pick-up site to another. All this to say that we do pay attention, and we appreciate all forms of feedback.

Another interesting note
This is the first week all season that we have not had any members on vacation. Not a particularly earth-shattering note, but interesting in my world, since I track the weekly variance in box counts and such.

Vacation Credits & Storage Vegetables

If you have credit voucher for vacation weeks, and you can’t get to the Corvallis Farmers Market to redeem them, you can order a box of storage produce (1 box per voucher) to be delivered with your Harvest Box any week between now and the end of the season (Nov. 27).

Here are the options for storage produce:
Roma tomatoes (20#)
Italian or Bell peppers for roasting (10#)
Potatoes (20#)
Storage onions (20#)
Red onions (20#)
Sunshine squash (20#)
Delicata squash (20#)
Asian Pears or Concord Pears (15#)
Note: Roma tomatoes, and roasting peppers are available in limited quantity.

Available by mid-October:
Sweet potatoes (8#)
Fresh ginger (1.25#)
Fresh turmeric (1.25#)

OR we can send two Harvest Boxes on request.
Just send me an email (a day or two in advance) if you would like a box of storage produce.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019: week 16

In this box:
1 bunch Basil, 1 bunch Chard, 1# Zucchini, 3 Sweet Onions, Handful of Shishito peppers, 2# Potatoes, 1 Sunshine Winter Squash, 1# Thomcord Grapes (taste like Concord grapes, but seedless!), 2# Concord Pears  (weights are approximate). Everything is Organic!

Summer squash and Winter squash
This week marks the turning of the seasons. Fall is officially here. Likely this will be the last week for basil and zucchini. In today’s box, we offer both “summer squash” and “winter squash”. Both are closely related; fruits of the cucurbit family. Generally summer squash is eaten while the skins are tender and the seeds are immature. Winter squash is left in the field until the skins are hard, the seeds are mature, and the flesh is sweet. Under the right conditions (dry and cool), winter squash will keep for a long time. 
    Sunshine Squash is versatile in the kitchen. Once cooked, the skin is tender, so I never both to peel it. My two favorite ways to cook Sunshine Squash are either steaming slices, or baking it. Steaming is quicker, but baking makes it a little sweeter. As long as you have a big, sharp knife, winter squash is easy to prepare.
Steamed Sunshine Squash
    Rinse the outside of your squash. Using a large knife, cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Then slice each half into “smiles”and arrange in a steamer tray over boiling water. Steam until soft (about 10 minutes). Serve with butter.
Baked Sunshine Squash
    Rinse and cut squash in half. Scoop out the seeds. Place halves cut-side-down in a baking dish, and add ¼ inch of water to the dish. Bake until soft. This takes approximately 45 - 60 minutes at 350 - 375 degrees. If you cook it a little longer than you think necessary, it will be even better. Then mash with butter, or (for a really special treat) a can of coconut milk.

Shishito peppers
   These green peppers are picked when the seeds are young and tender--so you can eat the seeds. We like to blister them whole (in a very hot pan, with olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt), then hold the stem and eat with our fingers. You can also cut them up (seeds and all), and add to a pan with other vegetables for a mixed stir-fry or roasted vegetable medley.

Have you poached a pear lately? The Concord pears in the box today are perfect for poaching! I scanned a number of recipes yesterday, and realized that the basic instructions are quite simple. All you need are some firm pears, and a slightly sweetened liquid for poaching. First, peel your pears, cut in half and remove the core. Then place cut-side down in a single layer in a pan or large pot with a lid. Add about ½ inch if sweetened liquid (I used a couple spoonfuls of applesauce, because I don’t have sugar in the house), and some spices if you want (cinnamon stick and cardamom pod are common). Simmer the pear halves in the sweet liquid for 25 - 30 minutes, until the pears can be easily pierced with a knife. Cool, and serve solo, or with ice cream.

Another great pear idea: find a recipe for Waldorf Salad, and use pears instead of apples. A recipe recommended by one of our members can be found on the Williams Sonoma web site. Search “Waldorf Salad”.

Caramelized Onions
       This is a good week to think about caramelizing onions. This just means cooking them for a long time (up to 30 minutes) at moderate or moderately-low heat until they are completely soft, almost melting. I believe the trick to great caramelized onions is judicious use of a little liquid and a lid on the pan for the first 15 minutes or so, to soften the onions with a little steam. Once the onions are soft, you can take the lid off, and stir over medium-low heat until the moisture is evaporated. If you use a little Balsamic vinegar or wine as the liquid, you get additional flavors that complement the sweet mildness of the onions.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019: week 15

In this box
: ½# Salad Mix, 1# Romano beans, 5 or 6 ears Corn, 1 red onion, 1 garlic, 1 box cherry tomatoes, 1 box Prunes, 1# Grapes, 2# Asian Pears (weights are approximate). Everything is Organic!

Italian Prunes or French Prunes:

Prune plums have been cultivated for centuries.  The Italian Prune was introduced to America in 1832, but was common in Italy long before that.  The French Prune first came to the US in 1854, but is believed to have been brought to the Bordeaux region of France by Benedictine Monks returning from Turkey or Persia during the Crusades. 

Prunes were a major crop in the Willamette Valley from the mid 19th century through the mid 20th century.  In 1924 Oregon produced 50 million pounds of Prunes.  Polk County alone had 11,000 acres of prunes.  By the time my parents brought me to Corvallis in 1966 the prune industry was on the way out, though some were still being grown, and there were old prune driers on many of the farms.  I was new to Oregon, so one of my classmates explained to me they grew prunes not plums on his family’s farm.  Where I grew up on the east coast, a prune was dried but the fresh fruit was called a plum.  To Oregon residents where prunes were a major industry, prunes could be fresh or dried, but they were still prunes. Prune was short for prune plum which is a distinct type of plum with a high enough sugar content to dry without spoiling.  They were usually “free stone” meaning the pit easily separates from the flesh.

We grow two types of prune plums, the Italian Prune which was the backbone of Oregon’s prune industry, and the French Petit which is smaller and a bit sweeter than the Italian.  Unless there is confusion (could happen) the Albany and Salem members will get Italian Prunes and the Corvallis members will get French.  We did not have enough of either to send to both routes.  Though famous as a dried fruit, prunes are delicious fresh.  Also cooking in a tart, sauce, or jam brings out additional mouth watering flavors.  My 92 year old mother grew up during the depression, and finds it very satisfying to harvest and preserve food.  So far this year she has collected, cut in half and dried hundreds of prunes.  The house smells fantastic while they are drying, and we will have plenty to share with family this winter.

About 10 years ago, the California prune producers asked the courts to be allowed to market prunes as “dried plums.”  It was an attempt to shed the image that prunes are only eaten by constipated old people.  The courts in their wisdom decided to allow the wording “dried plum” but that the package must also say “prune.”  These days almost every imaginable fruit is available “fresh” all year round, shipped or flown here from arround the globe.  Prunes have lost much of the popularity they enjoyed when there were fewer options.  Most of the prune orchards in Oregon are gone, but there are still many old trees in back yards and near farm houses.  Like Gravenstein apples and Concord grapes, they have become heirlooms which remind us of the past.   Our Italian Prune tree was old when we bought the place 29 years ago.  My neighbor Caroline had a French Petite tree.  When I first met Elizabeth there was an Italian Prune tree in her back yard.

Though I could be considered old now, (I can get medicare in 6 months) I loved prunes as a child.  Today they remind me of the people who were old when I was young.  Neighbors and friends who shared their abundance, and showed me how to can, dry, and make preserves for the winter.  People who experienced hard times in the depression, or the wars, or famine, and developed a resilience I admire.  I will predict that in 100 years, there won’t still be fresh fruit from South America and Asia in our American diets, but that prunes will still be here.


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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019:  Week 14

In this box: 1 Lettuce, 6 ears Corn, 1 sweet onion, 2# Potatoes, 1 bunch Kale, 3 or 4 Sweet Italian Peppers, 1# Roma Tomatoes, 1# Canadice Grapes, 2# Concord Pears  (weights are approximate). Everything is Organic!

Sweet Italian Peppers
       There are many different varieties of sweet Italian Peppers, all having an oblong shape (as opposed to Bell peppers’ blocky shape). Like bell peppers, sweet Italian peppers can be used raw or cooked. They tend to be less juicy than bell peppers, so I think they are better in a a sauté (because there is less juice to dilute the flavors). Plus, cooking really enhances the sweetness of Italian peppers. A classic recipe for sweet Italian peppers is to slice and sauté them with sweet onion (in plenty of olive oil) until everything is very soft, and starts to brown a bit. Add salt to taste. Then serve as a side dish, or pile the sautéed onion & peppers onto some crusty Italian bread with a slice of Provolone cheese.
       Sweet Italian peppers are also great for roasting!
Roasting peppers: Roasting enhances the flavor, and also makes it easy to remove the skin. After roasting, and removing skin & seeds, you can freeze peppers for recipes throughout the winter.
       Roasting can be done on the grill or under the broiler. The basic concept is to char the skin, as evenly and thoroughly as possible. While the skin is charring, the flesh of the pepper softens and the flavor takes on some delicious qualities not present in raw peppers.
On the grill: Preheat grill, all burners, on high. Place peppers directly on the grill, turning approx. every 2 minutes to char all sides. After turning 3 or 4 times (6 – 8 minutes total time), either turn off the grill, close the lid, and let peppers rest for 10 minutes, or remove peppers with tongs and place in a paper bag. Close the bag to let the peppers steam a bit in residual heat. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skin, and remove seeds.
Under the broiler (electric ovens): Rinse peppers and place on a baking sheet with edges to catch the juices. Broil peppers until the skin bubbles up and starts to char, turning to char all sides. Keep your eye on the peppers while broiling to catch them when slightly browned on each side. If the peppers are really odd-shaped, don’t worry about evenly charring all surfaces, as long as the pepper is well-cooked overall. You can tell they’re done when they are softened, and “slump” on the pan. Turn off the oven and close the door, and let them rest for 10 minutes, or remove from oven and place in paper bag as above. When cool enough to handle, peel and remove the seeds.
Over the broiler (in a gas oven): I don’t have personal experience with gas ovens. However, my sources recommend following the directions above for “under the broiler”, with the addition of a layer of foil under the broiler element to keep any dripping juices from burning on the floor of your oven.

I have a new favorite vegan meal… pasta, or potatoes, or rice with Romesco sauce. Romesco is a traditional food, which means there are innumerable versions of the recipe. Some recipes include bread crumbs, but I don’t generally have breadcrumbs on hand, so I located a recipe without. As with many traditional recipes, the quantities are approximate, you can vary depending on what you have on hand.
Romesco Sauce
1 cup roasted peppers, peeled, and seeds removed (you can use Bell peppers, but I prefer sweet Italian peppers)
1/3 cup nuts (I suggest peeled almonds—pour boiling water over almonds, wait until cool enough to handle, then slip off and discard the skins)
2 Tbs. vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
¼ cup olive oil (or less, if your roasted peppers are juicy)
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. smoked paprika
    Chop nuts in a food processor until finely ground. Add the roasted peppers, vinegar, salt, and paprika and blend well. Then pour in olive oil while processor is running until it looks like it will be spreadable. I like mine a little thicker and less oily than a good pesto sauce.

Concord Pears
-- may be enjoyed crisp, or leave them on your counter for several days if you prefer them softer. They won’t change color, so don’t wait for them to become yellow. Test for softness by gentle thumb pressure near the stem end, as you would an avocado.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019:  Week 13

In this box: 1 green Lettuce, 1 Cucumber, 1 sweet Onion, 1 head Garlic, 2# Potatoes, 1 bunch Chard, A few Jalapeño Peppers, 2# Roma Tomatoes, 3/4# Canadice Grapes, 2# Asian Pears: Crisp and juicy, Asian Pears are ripe when picked--more like an apple than a pear. Even if they seem hard, or look “green”, they should be ready to eat!
(weights are approximate). Everything is Organic!

Another version of roasted Roma Tomatoes
       I was making a potato salad for a Labor Day potluck, and thought the salad needed a little color. Fortunately, there were some roma tomatoes on the kitchen counter (and some week-old corn in the fridge). As I was running short on time, I decided to do some quick-roasted Romas under the broiler:
 Slice roma tomatoes in half lengthwise, and trim out the small core. Place cut-side up on a broiling pan and sprinkle with a little coarse salt. Leave the oven door ajar, and keep an eye on the tomatoes until the surfaces are slightly charred, and the tomato halves are slumped. This takes maybe 5 - 10 minutes (I honestly didn’t look at the clock, because I used that time to prepare the dressing). Then pull the pan out of the oven, and when tomatoes are cool enough to touch, coarsely chop and add to a bowl of steamed potatoes. After roasting by this method, the romas taste like a “sundried” tomato. Then I soaked the broiling pan in water while we went to the potluck, and clean-up was a breeze once we returned home.
    My current favorite dressing for potato salad came from one of my favorite chefs, Brian Parks of The Bellhop restaurant in Corvallis. I’ve reduced the quantities (from “a couple cups of olive oil”) to quantities that suit approximately 2 pounds of potatoes (because that’s the quantity of potatoes in the Harvest Box), and I generally use apple cider vinegar, whereas his version uses white wine vinegar. It works with any vinegar except Balsamic (which is too flavorful).

Potato Salad with vinaigrette dressing
Rinse 2# potatoes, and cut into bite-sized pieces. Steam over boiling water for 10 minutes, or until tender.
Dressing: ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, (optional: 1 clove roasted garlic, mashed and diced. Also optional: 2 tsp. honey). Place all ingredients in a 1 pint jar with tight-fitting lid. Shake well. Then add ½ diced sweet onion to the jar, and shake again.
Assembling the salad: Drain potatoes, and pour into a large serving bowl. Shake dressing with chopped onion one more time, and pour the entire jar of dressing & onions over the potatoes. Add other cooked vegetables if available: cooked green beans, cooked garbanzo beans, cooked corn, roasted Roma tomatoes, or grated carrots. Stir gently. Serve.

Jalapeño Peppers
Our jalapeño seed this year appears to be a milder variety than some years. Though I’m not a huge fan of “hot” peppers, I find this year’s jalapeño harvest pleasantly spicy, but not overly hot. I added a chopped jalapeño to the potato salad mentioned above, and it added a hint of interesting flavor without much heat. If you shy away from hot peppers, you can avoid most of the heat by cutting out the seeds, and also the light-colored membrane that holds the seeds inside the pepper. Use jalapeño as you might use any green pepper--in a stir-fry, or a stew, or on a raw veggie plate with dip. Or, try one of the following recipes for “poppers” (as in “pop them in your mouth”).
Jalapeño Poppers!
1. Vegetarian (not vegan) version: Slice jalapeño in half the long way. Wearing gloves, remove the seeds with a spoon, so what remains looks like a little boat.  Fill with a mixture of refried beans and cream cheese.  Top with a slice of sharp cheddar and place in a 350-degree oven for 20 – 30 minutes. If the cheese is not yet bubbly, turn on the broiler until the cheese browns and melts a bit.  Serve warm for an exciting snack or appetizer.
2. Definitely Not Vegetarian: Follow recipe as above, filling jalapeño halves with refried beans or mashed potatoes. Lay a small piece of bacon over the top of the filled peppers, and secure with a toothpick. Place on a wire rack above a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees until the bacon is crispy. This takes 30 – 40 minutes, depending on the thickness of the bacon.
3. Savory & Sweet version: Slice jalapeño in half & scoop out the seeds as above. Then drizzle half a spoonful of maple syrup in each pepper half, fill with cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese. Cut a strip of bacon in half, wrap around each piece of filled pepper, and secure with a toothpick. Place on a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet to allow bacon to crisp on all sides. Bake at 375 degrees until bacon is crisp on all sides (30 – 40 minutes depending on the thickness of your bacon and size of the peppers).
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019: week 12
In this box
: 2# Joker Potato, 1 Cucumber, 1 pint Shishito Peppers, 1 head Lettuce, 6 Corn, 2# Roma Tomatoes, 1 Basket of Strawberries, 1# Canadice Grapes, 2# Asian Pears (weights are approximate). Everything is Organic!

Hi folks, it’s Tom again.  Elizabeth is back in Vermont and tells me her mother’s hip replacement surgery went well.

Shishito Peppers
I don’t think we have given you these yet.  They are a Japanese pepper which is very similar to the Spanish Padrón pepper.  Some people tell me that like the Padrón, one out of every 10 or so fruits will be spicy, but I have not found any from this year’s planting that are not mild.  Perhaps there is more than one strain, with some being mild of character, and others that occasionally bite back.  The simple and delicious way to cook Shishito peppers is to blister them quickly in hot olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and serve them.  The stems make a little handle, and all but the stem is eaten as finger food.  The thin wall on these peppers makes them good for tempura, or stir fries.

Roma Tomatoes
These have less juice and more meat so they make good tomato sauce or paste.  Roma tomatoes can be used in salad too, but their flavor is best appreciated after cooking.  Years ago we used to sell these to an Italian restaurant in Eugene where they would roast the romas in their brick pizza oven before turning them into fantastic sauce for their pizzas, spaghetti, etc..  You can get a similar result on your barbeque if you don’t have a wood fired oven.

Canadice Grapes
Those who have received our box in prior seasons have eaten this grape before.  100 years ago in 1919 the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station started a program to produce cold hardy seedless grapes.  They crossed seedless, cold and disease susceptible grapes from the Mediterranean region with cold hardy, disease resistant, North American grapes.  The early results of that program produced 5 varieties that were released to the public, including Himrod.  In 1954 they crossed Bath with Himrod and one of the resulting seedlings NY45625 was selected for further evaluation in 1962.  In 1977 it was named Canadice, and released to the public. I was studying vegetable crops and small fruits at Cornell in 1977, and was exposed to Canadice on field trips, and in class. 
Our farm in Corvallis does not have the severe cold of upstate New York, but we value the disease resistance of this grape because we don’t use any fungicides here.  The release of Canadice allowed seedless grapes to be grown in climates where they historically could not be grown.  100 years after the NY grape breeding program began, the results are benefitting millions of people. 
Many artists lived as paupers while they were creating their work, and died before the general population appreciated their genious.   It can take decades for plant breeders to create a new valuable variety.  None of the people who contributed their skills and vision to the 1919 NY grape program are alive today to see where their efforts have led.  There are plant breeders working today whose successes will feed people in 2119.  Many are under appreciated, and working with limited resources.  If you are a plant breeder, you have my deepest respect and gratitude.  If you know any plant breeders, please give them a hug, and tell them your CSA farmer loves them.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019: week 11

In this box: ½# Salad Mix, 1 Cucumber, 4 Red Italian Peppers, 1 bunch Italian Kale, 6 Corn, Basket Red Grape Tomatoes, Basket of Strawberries, Another bskt of Strawberries, 1 bunch Grapes (weights are approximate) Everything is Organic!

We grow several varieties of seedless grapes. If you can resist eating them all at once, grapes freeze well. Frozen grapes make a nice snack, or float a few in a cocktail or punchbowl instead of ice. I think everyone got Jupiter grapes in your box this week.

Italian Kale
    Since it’s hot this week, perhaps this is a good week for a Kale salad. Kale has a strong flavor if eaten raw, therefore kale salad is often made with other assertive flavors. Adding flavorful cheeses, nuts, or dried fruit, and marinating the salad at least 30 minutes after adding the dressing mellows the harshness of raw kale. This recipe comes with high praise from Steve, who has helped at our Farmers Markets for over 20 years. The recipe comes from True Food Kitchen (read more about this interesting restaurant on the Internet).
Kale Salad
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 garlic clove
Pinch of salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 bunch Italian Kale, ribs removed, and sliced into ¼ inch shreds
¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (grated on a microplane, for best visual effect)
2 Tbs toasted bread crumbs
More shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish.

1. In a salad bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes.  Add the kale and toss well to coat. Let the salad sit at room temperature for 10 - 30 minutes. Add the grated cheese and bread crumbs and toss again.
2. Garnish with cheese shavings before serving. Cover any leftovers and refrigerate up to 2 days.

Grape Tomatoes
Though I love to just eat grape tomatoes as I am walking through the kitchen, when I have the will-power to save them for a cooked dish, they are extra-special. Cooking enhances the flavor of grape tomatoes, and makes them even sweeter! Za’atar is a Middle Eastern herb blend of wild oregano or thyme, ground sesame seeds, and sumac. It is available in Middle Eastern grocery stores. If you don’t have any za’tar handy, you could probably just use oregano, thyme, or rosemary. Recipe from Rose Water & Orange Blossoms (a lovely book about food & life by Maureen Abood)

Za’atar Roasted Tomatoes (Makes 1 cup)
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste (about 5 grinds)
2 to 3 Tbs za’atar, to taste (or substitute 1 tsp. ground oregano, thyme, or rosemary)
       Line a heavy sheet pan with parchment paper. Slice tomatoes in half. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes with the olive oil, salt, and pepper, and stir until they are well-coated. Place the tomatoes on the sheet pan, cut-side up, and top each with a pinch of za’atar, or a dusting of herbs. Arrange a rack in the center of the oven. Turn the oven on to 275 degrees (no need to preheat when roasting like this), and roast the tomateos for about 2 to 3 hours, depending on the size of the tomatoes. The tomatoes are done when they are meltingly soft and slightly shriveled. They can be used warm or cooled to room temperature. When cooked, use them in sandwiches, in salads, or straight up on their own.
       You can find another of my favorite recipes on our web site recipe blog. Look for “Pasta with herbed goat cheese & cherry tomatoes.”
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019:  Week 10

In this box: 1 bu Basil, 1 head Garlic, 2# Purple Viking potatoes, 1 red onion, 6 Corn, 2# Roma Tomatoes, Basket of Strawberries, Another bskt of Strawberries, Basket of Raspberries (weights are approximate) Everything is Organic!

       Hi folks, this is Tom again.  Elizabeth is back on the farm, but remotely managing care for her mother is no small chore, so I am writing the newsletter again.  When we started raising our children we found they did not come with an owners manual.  We can’t seem to locate the owners manual for aging parents either.  We are grateful for the help and encouragement we have received from so many friends, customers, and professionals in the field of aging/elder care.  Everybody seems to age a little differently though, so there doesn’t seem to be one best way to help parents age with as much dignity and independence as possible.

       Back on the farm, we’re noticing that the days are becoming shorter, and the mornings can be downright crisp. We’re grateful that it has been a mild summer without too much heat. This is good for the crops, and for the team who tends and harvests the food that goes in your box.  Too much heat can cause strawberries, raspberries, peppers, and tomatoes to drop their flowers and wait for cooler conditions to set more fruit.  I hope you are not getting tired of strawberries because the plants are really producing these days.  The raspberries in the box today are from our fall bearing plants, which are just beginning their season. 

       This week’s potato variety is Purple Viking.  The purple skin adds some healthy antioxidents to your meal if you don’t peel it off.  We really like Purple Viking potatoes--they have a mild flavor, and a lovely creamy texture. This is a great potato for mashed potatoes (if you like yours creamy and moist), and for potato salad.  Potatoes have an undeserved reputation for providing empty calories, but they provide significant amounts of vitamins and minerals, without a lot of calories.  100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of fresh potato has only 83 calories.  Of course, processing them into fries and chips adds lots of oil though, so 100 grams of potato chips has 544 calories.  Now I’ll turn the newsletter over to Elizabeth for a couple of recipes.

   I’m not a mayonnaise fan, so my favorite potato salad has an oil & vinegar dressing. Purple Viking potatoes are great in this Simple Potato Salad. This recipe reminds me of my grandmother’s German Potato Salad, except that would have had bacon. In fact, if you’re into that sort of thing, feel free to add crumbled bacon to this dish! You can serve it warm, or chilled.
1. Finely chop ½ a mild onion, place in bowl.
2. Cover with good olive oil and vinegar. Use about twice as much olive oil as vinegar. I like to use unsweetened rice vinegar, which has a very mild flavor, but you can also use cider vinegar or wine vinegar. (Optional: Add 1 Tbs. capers or diced pickles).
3. Cut 2 lbs. purple viking or red potatoes into bite-sized chunks.
4. Add ½ tsp. salt. Steam over boiling water for 10 minutes or until soft.
5. Drain potatoes and add to onions (add bacon if you wish). Stir gently. Cool 10 minutes. Serve.

   Roma Tomatoes are wonderful for tomato sauce. I find their flavor a bit bland when raw, though many people use Roma tomatoes for salsa because they have less juice than slicing tomatoes. Their flavor becomes much more complex and interesting when cooked. I generally remove the skins before making sauce. Here’s a slick trick to remove tomato skins: bring a pot of water to boil. Drop tomatoes into the boiling water for 60 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon, and cool quickly in a bowl of ice water. Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, the skins should just slip off. Then chop the tomatoes coarsely, and simmer until soft with olive oil, garlic, basil, and salt. Mash with a potato masher, and add to pasta.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019:  Week 9

In this box: Ubilene pears,  sweet onion, slicing tomatoes, corn, cucumber, zucchini, strawberries, lettuce, romano beans.

This is Tom writing the newsletter while Elizabeth is in Vermont helping her mother.  Whenever she is gone I am reminded how much she gets done here.  If something is amiss with the harvest box this week, likely it’s because I am trying to coordinate it instead of her.  August is not a great time to have Elizabeth off the farm because so much is happening at once now, but we don’t get to choose when our aging parents need our help.  My mother moved in with us in January when she was no longer able to live by herself in an old house outside of town.  We would like to move Elizabeth’s mother in with us also, but strong willed women don’t always want their children telling them what they should do, even as it gets harder to take care of themselves.

Meanwhile back on the farm, the tomatoes, peppers, beans, corn, berries, etc. need to be picked every few days.  Thankfully we have not been getting the extreme heat that other states have which is better for the pickers and the crops. We should be seeding carrots, spinach, beets, etc for fall harvest, but we are so busy harvesting and selling what is ripening now, that seeding is getting postponed.

Oregon is a major pear producing state, but most pears in the stores this time of year come from South America.  Ubilene pears are one of the early ripening pears in The World Pear Collection which is just 5 miles from our farm.  The curator there Joseph Postman suggested several varieties to me that could extend the local pear season.  I am always looking for ways to increase the percent of the food supply that is locally produced instead of imported, so I accepted Joseph’s offer to tour the pear collection.  They have hundreds of pear varieties from all over the world and it was fun for me to visit in the early season to see what was ripe, which trees looked healthy, and which fruit I liked to eat.  We ended up planting several varieties I saw in the collection.  The people who protect and preserve genetic diversity of crop plants are big heroes in my opinion.  They deserve our appreciation and support.

Ubilene has been a nice pear in our orchards.  The tree is healthy even though we don’t use pesticides, and we like the fruit.  One challenge is that they do not turn yellow when they are ripe, so it can be hard to tell when they are ready to eat.  The pears in your box are probably ready to eat now and they don’t keep a long time so enjoy them soon.  We like pears cooked as well as raw, but when it’s hot we are less likely to turn on the oven.  We put sliced pear in salads, yogurt, cereal, or instead of jam in a sandwich.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019:  Week 8

In this box: 1# Bell Peppers, 1 Lettuce, 1# Zucchini, 6 Corn, 2# Potatoes, 1 bskt Cherry tomatoes, 1# Sweet Girl Tomatoes, 1 basket Strawberries, 1 basket Blackberries (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

    I have no recipes this week, just a commentary on the state of the world, and an appreciation for your choice to cook and eat REAL food.
    I just finished reading a book called Consider the Fork, a History of how we Cook and Eat, by Bee Wilson (Basic Books, 2012). It was a good book, thoroughly researched and interesting. I want to share an excerpt that struck me as relevant, and worthy of sharing with you. Bee Wilson says it better than I could, and I agree with her.
    “Why are we drawn to actually cook from scratch? When we pick up a certain utensil to cook a certain dish in the traditional way--whether is’a Valencian paella made in its wide shallow pan or a Victorian sponge made in old-fashioned sandwich cake pans -- we are enacting a ritual that binds us to the place we live and to those in our family, both living and dead.”
    Granted, not all the recipes you cook using your Harvest Box are in your family tradition, and maybe you have other answers to “why are we drawn to cook from scratch?” I believe preparing meals is something that makes us human. I do feel connection with my family (living and dead) when I cook, and I feel a sense of community with other cultures when I prepare recipes from other traditions.
    My grandmother’s spirit is alive in my kitchen, even though my cooking choices are not the same as hers (no cottage cheese and gelatin salads made in my kitchen!). My recipes are not her recipes, but I am connected to her kitchen and to her memory. And I am thrilled when my sons (now 17 and 21) can create meals by themselves. I feel like I’ve passed on a real life skill to the next generation.
I also want to recognize how novel it is these days to cook from scratch. The same book references a 2006 survey by the Institute of Food Technologists which found that although 75% of Americans ate dinner “at home”, fewer than 1/3 were cooking from scratch. And certainly there’s something to be said for the time-saving benefit of a pre-cut salad or ready-made hummus. We are grateful that you have chosen to receive a weekly Harvest Box which (generally) requires that you take out a knife, cutting board, and turn on your stove or oven. Hooray for cooking from scratch! Thank you for taking the extra time to cook real food. We appreciate you.
    In closing, I will pull something from our Harvest Box brochure that I wrote many years ago, and I still feel it is relevant and worth repeating:
    In this fragmented world, it is good to build relationships, particularly around something as wholesome and healthy as real food. Thank you for joining us this year.

Notes from the farm office:

I will be out of town Aug 1 - Aug 10. Please submit all vacation requests for next week (Aug 6/7) before August 1st.

Second payment due: If you paid the first half membership fee when you joined, the second payment is due August 1st. Let me know if you can’t remember the amount due.

Recycling update: I just noticed that the Corvallis has changed (again) what is acceptable in recycling. The green berry baskets are no longer “recyclable”. You can still keep them out of the waste stream by putting them in the “yard debris” bin, where they will be composted. I don’t know what the rules are in Marion County, but if someone has information, please let me know and I’ll pass it on.

Advanced Trade Box Skills-- What is a fair exchange? This is a question that comes up occasionally, so I figure I should clarify. If you’re making an exchange with the trade box, please check the newsletter for how much of an item should be traded. We like to suggest a “line-for-line” exchange. For example, if you’re trading corn for cherry tomatoes, it’s 6 corn for 1 basket (or bag) of tomatoes. Things do get difficult if the trade box fills with several shares-worth of zucchini or potatoes, because it’s not clear how many zucchini (or potatoes) there are in a share. You can gauge by looking at the quantity in your box, and exchange approximately that much. Thank you.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019:  Week 7

In this box: 1 Cucumber, 2 Bell Peppers, 1# Romano Beans, 4 ears Corn, 1 bskt Grape tomatoes, 1# Sweet Girl Tomatoes, 1 basket Strawberries, 1 basket Beauty Plums, 1 basket Blackberries (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

One of my hobbies is reading cookbooks and collecting recipes. I have an enormous binder and several inches of filing cabinet dedicated to interesting recipes that I have run across and want to try. To a large extent I am looking for recipes that showcase the produce from our farm, and are simple enough to include in these short newsletters. Often I will tweak a recipe slightly toward local ingredients, and to match what is actually in your Harvest Box on a particular week. I find that some recipes call for extended cooking times, which are not necessary if you have fresh-picked, tender produce.
       That is particularly the case with the Romano beans in your box today. Romano beans are a broad, flat green bean. You can cook them the same way you would cook green beans, but I find they cook much quicker. Overcooking will make them mushy. Better to undercook them rather than overcooking.
       Most recipes for cooking green beans call for steaming them for 8 - 10 minutes, or “until bright green and tender”. I find 3 - 5 minutes is the optimal steaming time for our Romano beans. The exact timing depends somewhat on what kind of stove you have, and whether you turn the heat to low, or off after the water comes to a boil. I usually snap my Romano beans into a steamer basket (after snipping off the stem end). Bring the water to a full boil, then I cover with a lid, turn the heat off, and wait 5 minutes. This works on my old-fashioned stove, but they will cook differently on a gas stove (because the burner cools off much quicker, so leave flame on very low).
       My favorite Romano bean recipe?  I like to steam them (3 - 5 minutes), then toss with a little butter and serve. Romano beans also take dressings quite well. After steaming, add your favorite vinaigrette dressing. If you add the vinaigrette when the beans are still warm, they soak up the dressing better. Chill before serving. Romano beans are also delicious served with hummus, or “Yumm” sauce (from Café Yumm!, or find recipes on the Internet).
       Here’s one of my favorite recipes for Romano beans in vinaigrette (modified from Gourmet, August 2001).
Green Beans with Red Onion and Mustard Seed Vinaigrette
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. yellow mustard seeds
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup red-wine vinegar
1 lb. green beans, ends trimmed, and snapped into 2” sections
1. Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in a heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Cook 2 Tbs. mustard seeds, stirring, until they pop and are 1 shade darker, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, scraping the oil into the bowl as well. Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel.
2. Heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in the same skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook 1 red onion stirring, until golden brown (8-10 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in 1/3 cup red-wine vinegar, then add to the toasted mustard seeds.
3. Have ready a large bowl of ice and cold water. Cook 1 lb. green beans in a pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 4-5 minutes. Drain and plunge into ice water, then drain well.
4. Toss beans with mustard seeds, vinegar & onion (from step 2). Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill 12-24 hours in refrigerator. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Serves 4 - 6.

Notes from the farm office:
I hope you all received an email this week from me with notes from the office. There were a few email addresses that got kicked back as undeliverable. If you don’t remember receiving an email from me this week, please send email to denisonfarms@peak.org, and I will recapture your email address.

I have a few additional notes to share:
FARM TOUR: You haven’t missed it! We have not yet set the date for our annual farm tour. I am waiting until my mother’s hip surgery is scheduled, as I plan to be off the farm for a few weeks to be with her during surgery and the initial rehabilitation.

RETURNING TUBS: Our packing crew has noticed that the weekly return rate for tubs this year is very high. Thank you for remembering! If you do find any tubs accumulating in your car or garage, please return them to your pick-up site when you get your next box.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019:  Week 6
It’s a “fruity” box this week!

In this box: 1 Cucumber, 1 Sweet Onion (use the top like a green onion!), 1# Zucchini, 2# Purple Viking potatoes, 1 bskt Sungold tomatoes, 1# Brandywine Tomatoes, 1 basket Red Raspberries, 1 basket Beauty Plums, 1 basket Black Currants (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
Botany lesson for the week:
If you count cucumbers, zucchini, and tomatoes as fruits (which they are, technically speaking) then I think this week’s box could be called “fruity”. Except for the potatoes (which are technically tubers), and the onion (where it’s leaf bases that have swollen to form the bulb), everything else in the box has seeds--which makes it a fruit in the botanical world. In the culinary world, however, cucumbers and zucchini (and often tomatoes as well) are classified as vegetables. This culinary distinction between vegetables and fruits is less exacting, but I generally think of fruits for dessert, and vegetables for appetizers, salads, and main dishes. Though this distinction blurs in many culinary traditions where fruits are added to savory dishes.
And in my research for this newsletter, I discovered the following: A tuber is a “rounded swelling or protuberant part”. And now the word “tuber” makes more sense.

Beauty Plums
could have been named “messy” plums, because when they are ready to eat, they are difficult to eat without getting messy. Tom calls them “lean-over” fruit, meaning they are best eaten while leaning over a plate, or absorbent napkin. We pick them slightly firm, hoping they will get to your kitchen before they burst with juiciness. You can leave them on the counter, and they should soften in just a few days. Then grab an absorbent napkin and bite in. These plums can also be cooked, with a little sugar, into a jam or fruit sauce.

Black Currants
are a somewhat obscure fruit in this country, though they are familiar to many people who grew up Europe. We think black currants are poised to become one of the new “superfoods”, because they are loaded with dark purple anthocyanins, vitamin C, and other health-promoting phytonutrients.  Currants are generally cooked (and sweetened), rather than just eaten fresh. They’re perfectly edible fresh, but the do have a very strong flavor .
       I can’t remember how I stumbled on the idea of Black Currant Fool, but that’s my suggestion for using this week’s black currants. An odd name, perhaps, but I didn’t make it up. According to my 1975 edition of Joy of Cooking, “fool” is an archaic term of endearment. Maybe that’s enough explanation for the dessert name?
       To make a Fruit Fool, sweetened fruit compote is just folded into whipped cream. It’s super simple, and (I think) an excellent way to showcase black currants.
Black Currant Fool
1) Pull stems from ½ pint black currants, and put them in a saucepan. Don’t worry about the tiny dried blossom on the other end. You’ll never notice them once cooked. Add about 2 Tbs water (just to keep them from scorching), and bring to boil, then simmer over low heat until you can easily crush the berries with a fork (about 5 minutes after they come to a boil).
2) Then add sugar to taste. We used ¼ cup honey, but you can use more or less to taste. Any kind of sweetener will do.
3) Thoroughly chill the sweetened, cooked fruit.
4) Whip 1 pint of heavy cream until the “soft peak” stage.
5) Gently fold the cream into the chilled fruit.
6) Spoon into individual dessert glasses, and chill until just before serving.

Dairy-Free Black Currant Fool--
We’ve been experimenting with non-dairy options, and found that you can actually make whipped cream from canned coconut milk! We have found the most reliable results with “Let’s Do…Organic” brand, Organic Heavy Coconut Cream, but passable results can be achieved with regular canned coconut milk. This is a real treat if you’re no longer eating real cream.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019:  Week 5
In this box: ½# Salad Mix, 1 Cucumber, 1 bunch Basil, 1 Garlic, 1 Sweet Onion (use the top like a green onion!), 1 basket cherry tomatoes, 1# Brandywine Heirloom Tomatoes, 2 baskets Raspberries. (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
My vote for Recipe of the Year--Frittata
       One of my favorite go-to recipes this summer is FRITTATA. We serve a frittata for dinner about once a week. A frittata is quick to make, and adaptable to whatever vegetables you have in the kitchen. (And for bonus points: I think Frittata is fun to say). As long as you have vegetables and eggs in the house, you can whip up a delicious dinner in about 30 minutes. If you also have some cheese, that makes it extra-yummy.
          So, what’s a frittata? Basically, a frittata is an egg-based dish with sautéed vegetables. I think it’s like a quiche without a fussy crust. You use the same suite of ingredients that you might use for scrambled eggs or an omelet, but I generally have an easier time getting the timing right so the eggs are neither overcooked nor undercooked.
          There are countless variations on the recipe, but the general ratio of ingredients you want is about
* 2 cups cooked vegetables (start with about 3 cups raw veggies, chopped in bite-size pieces),
* 6 large or 8 small eggs, and
* ¼ cup of milk, cream, milk-substitute, or water.
* Cheese is optional, but about 1 cup of crumbled feta or grated cheese is enough for 1 recipe.
* And you need a 10-inch frypan-- cast iron is preferred.
To make frittata:
1. Preheat a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add a couple Tbs. olive oil, and about 3 cups chopped vegetables, cut into bite-sized pieces. A little more or less will be fine--that’s the beauty of a forgiving recipe. Any of the following vegetables will work: onion, garlic, zucchini (from last week’s box?), potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, parsley, mushrooms, olives….. Tomatoes are good, but add them after the other vegetables have been cooked for 5 - 10 minutes.
2. Sauté vegetables in olive oil (medium heat) until they are quite soft. Keep cooking, stirring occasionally, until most of the moisture has evaporated (5 - 10 minutes, depending on what vegetables you use). Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Crack eggs into a bowl, and whisk with ¼ cup milk or other liquid until combined.
4. When vegetables are tender, and most of the moisture has evaporated, pour eggs into the pan. (Optional: distribute cheese over the top). Then cover, reduce heat to low, and cook on the stovetop for 5 minutes. Remove cover, transfer pan into the hot oven, and continue cooking 10 - 14 minutes until eggs have set. I have learned from experience: don’t leave leftovers in the cast iron pan, or the pan may rust.
My other current favorite summer meal is the widely variable SUMMER SALAD. At a minimum, you need tomatoes, sweet onion, and cucumbers. Cut tomatoes and cucumbers into bite-sized pieces. Slice onion thinly, and mix all vegetables together gently. Dress with vinaigrette (the magic ratio is 1/2 cup olive oil, and ¼ cup red wine vinegar or lemon juice). Add variety to your salad by adding cooked beans (garbanzos are nice, as are French lentils), or cheese (feta or grated cheddar are my favorites). Add salt & pepper, as much as you wish--remembering that feta is very salty, so you need less salt if you’re using feta.

We don’t love plastic, especially since recycling options have recently become more limited. When we started offering weekly Harvest Boxes, we looked at different ways to pack and deliver delicate fruits so that they would be in good condition when you get them home. At the time, plastic clams seemed the best alternative for our most tender berries and heirloom tomatoes. Now local recycling companies are no longer accepting clams, but we have a number of cases that we purchased years ago. We are again examining alternatives to clams, but will continue to use the ones we have on hand.
    In the past, we have offered to re-use clean clams that have been returned to us, but we just had our FDA Food Safety inspection (which we passed), and they frown on re-use of anything that cannot be sterilized. We are still happy to take the clams back if you don’t want to deal with them, but unfortunately, we are unable to re-use them. 
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019:  Week 4

In this box:1 Lettuce, 1 Cucumber, 1 bu Carrots, 2# Zucchini, 2# Yellow Potatoes--these are great for roasting or pan-frying, 1 bu Beets--bonus: 2 vegetables in 1! Cut off the greens, and cook like chard. Cook the beets separately (see below), 1 basket cherry tomatoes, 2 baskets Raspberries, (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!

Summer is here! How about a couple new Summer Squash recipes…..
     We have updated our blog, to make it easier to find the recipes. You can find a couple of my long-time favorite zucchini recipes there. Here are a couple recipes that I recently discovered--first, a dairy-free puréed zucchini soup:
Creamy Zucchini Soup (from Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard)
1/3 cup fruity olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 pounds zucchini, unpeeled
1 chicken or vegetable bouillon cube
3 cups water (or use 3 cups stock, and omit bouillon cube)
¾ cup dry white wine
       In a stockpot, heat the olive oil, add the onion, and sauté over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until translucent and just beginning to color.
       Meanwhile, wash the zucchini, and cut in half lengthwise. Cut the halves into ¼ inch slices. Add the zucchini to the onions. Stir to coat. Cover the pot, but leave the lid slightly ajar--about an inch or so.
       Reduce the heat a bit and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Dissolve the bouillon cube in ½ cup boiling water. When the zucchini is tender, add wine, stir, then add the ½ cup bouillon and the remaining 2 ½ cups water to the pot. Let simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Purée with an immersion blender.

Summer squash and basil pasta (from Bon Appétit magazine). This recipe was recommended to me by one of our market staff. She loved the way the long, slow cooking creates a satisfying “zucchini sauce” for the pasta.
You can save this recipe until there’s basil in the box. I wanted to have basil for this week, but the cooler weather slowed things down, and our basil isn’t big enough to cut yet.
INGREDIENTS (makes 4 servings)
¼ cup olive oil   
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 pounds zucchini or summer squash, quartered lengthwise, then sliced
Kosher salt
1 teaspoon Aleppo-style pepper, plus more for serving (you can substitute crushed red pepper flakes or paprika)
12 oz. penne, ziti, or rigatoni (tube-shaped) pasta
2 ounces Parmesan, grated (about ½ cup), plus more for serving
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
½ cup torn basil leaves
       Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic, stirring occasionally, until very lightly browned around the edges, about 4 minutes. Add squash; season with salt. Cook, tossing occasionally, until squash begins to break down and gets ‘jammy’ (it may start to stick to the skillet a bit, which means you are there!), 12 - 15 minutes. Toss in 1 tsp. Aleppo-style pepper (or crushed red pepper, or paprika if you prefer milder spice).
       Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally until not quite al dente. It will cook more in the pan.
       Transfer pasta to skillet using a slotted spoon or spider and add ½ cup pasta cooking liquid. Cook pasta, adding 2 oz. Parmesan in stages along with more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta.
Toss with lemon juice and most of the basil.
Divide pasta among bowls and top with more Parmesan, red pepper (or paprika), and remaining basil.

Beets: Cooking tip
       Beets are much easier to peel after they are cooked. Cut off the greens, and rinse beets, but don’t peel them. Either steam them for 30 - 40 minutes, or cook in a pressure cooker for 20 minutes. When cool, the skins will slip right off. Then I like to slice the beets, and dress them with a little Balsamic vinegar.
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019:  Week 3

In this box: ½ pound Salad Mix, 1 Cucumber, 1 bu Carrots, 1# Zucchini, 1basket grape tomatoes, 1 bunch Kale, 1 Garlic, 1 bskt Rosé Raspberries, 1 bskt Blackberries (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!
Storage tips
     Please remember that salad mix is more perishable than a head of lettuce. Keep it refrigerated, rinse before eating, and use it soon.
       To maintain quality, cut lettuce leaves should never “sit” in water. That’s why we pack them in perforated plastic bags--to make sure the leaves at the bottom of the bag are not sitting in a puddle of water. However, if you just put the perforated bag of salad in your fridge, it will wilt. Better to put the perforated bag inside a zip-top bag (or sealed plastic tub) in the fridge. Or, better yet to transfer your salad mix to a zip-top bag, sealed plastic tub, or salad spinner with a paper towel in the bottom to soak up any puddles of water.
    Save the bag! When you have an empty perforated bag, then you have the perfect storage bag for your cucumber and zucchini:
and Zucchini keep best out of the refrigerator. The ideal storage temperature for both cukes and zucchini is 48 - 50 degrees. They do OK in the warmest part of your fridge for a few days but will develop dark spots (pitting) if left in the cold too long. We recommend putting cucumbers and zucchini inside one of the perforated plastic bags, and leaving them on the counter. Cucumbers at the grocery store are sometimes “waxed” (yes, dipped in wax!) to keep them from losing moisture through the skin as they are shipped from distant places. Our cucumbers have not been treated with anything, so you can eat them, skins & all. Even if they get a little soft on the counter, they are fine to eat--having lost just a little water through the skin.

Fun in the kitchen:
       I have had an immersion blender on loan from a friend for a couple of years. Finally, a few weeks ago, I discovered how much fun it is to make blended vegetable soups with the immersion blender. And clean-up is a breeze compared with cleaning a food processor! Here is recipe from the original Moosewood Cookbook that takes advantage of the lovely way that zucchini becomes smooth, almost velvety when cooked and pureed.
       Zucchini Purée
       1# Zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks
       1 cup finely minced onion
       1 ½ Tbs. butter
       ½ tsp. salt (or more, to taste)
       A pinch of black pepper, basil, tarragon, or thyme
       2 cups milk, heated, but not scalded
       1 tsp. tamari
Steam zucchini with a little water in a large pot (everything will end up here eventually) until just tender. Sauté the onion in butter with salt until soft (5 minutes or so). Add sautéed onions, warm milk, and tamari to the pot with steamed zucchini. Purée all ingredients until smooth, using an immersion blender, or regular blender or food processor. Serve warm.

Rosé Raspberries
    These pink raspberries were actually a surprise to us when we first harvested them a few years ago. We thought we had planted a variety that is gold when ripe, but apparently the nursery stock that we purchased was not accurately labeled. It has been a nice surprise, however, as we do enjoy these delicate, sweet raspberries. They are best for fresh eating, as the color becomes more pale when cooked. If we’re making jam, we usually go toward the dark red, traditional raspberries (which will be in your box some week soon).
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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019:  Week 2
It’s summer solstice this week. Hope you are enjoying these long days, and warm sunshine!
In this box: 1 Lettuce, 1 Cucumber, 2# Carrots, 1# Tomatoes, 2# Fava Beans, 1 bunch Italian Parsley, 2# Purple Viking Potatoes, 2 baskets Blackberries (weights are approx.)  Everything is Organic!
     If you know about fava beans, you can skip right to the recipes. If fava beans are new to you, read this: 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 (submerge in boiling water for 2 minutes), then plunge into ice water to chill quickly. Finally, most recipes instruct you to pop the bright green, tender bean out of its skin. We sometimes do and sometimes don’t bother with that last step. 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. Last night Tom made a vegetable curry with potatoes, parsley, fava beans (with skins on), carrots, parsley and basil. The texture of the fava beans still in their skins was perfect.

Edamame style: Blanch beans for 4 minutes. Serve with skins on. 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 (inspired by Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)
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. Prepare dressing: whisk together 1 Tbs olive oil, zest and juice from ½ lemon, and a pinch of salt.
4. Toss sautéed favas with lemon dressing and cool for 5 minutes.
5. Gently fold in ¼ cup yogurt and a generous handful of fresh dill, basil, or parsley. Eat warm or chilled.

       When I have tomatoes, parsley, and cucumbers in the house, I think of Tabbouleh Salad. This Middle Eastern vegetarian salad is generally made with lots of finely chopped parsley, tomatoes, mint, onion, and soaked bulgur; dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. The recipe is immensely flexible. I generally add cucumber, and leave out the mint (because I never have mint on hand). For those of you who avoid wheat, here is a version that uses quinoa!
Quinoa Tabbouleh
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
½ tsp salt
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup olive oil
1 medium cucumber, cut in ¼ inch dice
½# tomatoes, cut in ¼ inch dice
1 cup chopped Italian parsley (or more, if you wish--this recipe can use a LOT of parsley)
(optional: if you have some on hand, add some green onion or chopped scallions)
       Bring quinoa, ½ tsp salt, and 1 ¼ cup water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 10 minutes. The water will not be fully absorbed at this time. That’s OK. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes. Then fluff with a fork.
       Meanwhile in the serving bowl, whisk lemon juice and garlic. Whisk in olive oil and salt & pepper (to taste). Add cucumber, tomatoes, and parsley. Toss and coat well. Add quinoa. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate.

This lovely purple-skinned potato has creamy white flesh. They are moist when cooked, and make wonderful potato salad, and creamy mashed potatoes.  They are not my first choice for a roasted potato (they are so moist and creamy that they don’t get crispy in the oven). We will have other varieties later in the season that will be good for roasting.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2019:  Week 1

In this box: 1 Lettuce, 1 Cucumber, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 bunch Radish, ¾# Sugar Snap Peas, 1 bunch Basil, 1 head fresh Garlic, 2# New Potatoes, 1 basket Tayberries  (weights are approx.)Everything is Organic!

       We are excited to be starting another Harvest Box season with you. If you’ve been part of our membership in the past, we are delighted to have you back. And I want to extend a hearty welcome to our new members!
First, some logistics, and then some suggestions about how to use this week’s produce:
* Tub care—feel free to take the tub home with you, but please rinse it out, and bring it back next week. If you prefer, you can transfer your produce to your own bags or cooler and leave the box at your pick-up site.
* If you forget to pick up your box some week, check your confirmation letter for late pick-up options at your site.
* We haven’t yet planned a date for our Farm Party. I will post a notice in the newsletter as soon as we get that date on the calendar.
* If you have any other questions or need a recipe, send me an email at denisonfarms@peak.org.

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

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

Berries are perishable! For best quality, refrigerate them as soon as you get home. Berries will keep best if they are not rinsed until just before you eat them.

Potatoes need to be stored in the dark, and they keep best in the fridge. Potatoes are called “new” when they are freshly dug, and when their skins are not hardened (or “cured”). New potatoes need to be stored in plastic or they will get soft--as moisture evaporates through the tender skin. So, best to put them in a plastic bag or container in the fridge. Since the light only comes on when the door is open, the fridge is dark enough.

Here are some ideas for using today’s produce:
Sugar Snap Peas – probably don’t need much introduction—except to confirm that these are the kind of peas that you eat pod & all. There is a bit of a “string” along the side that you can remove when you snap off the stem end. Then you can eat the peas & pod raw or cooked. Two of my favorite ways to eat Snap Peas are to serve raw peas to dip into hummus, or to cook by steaming for a  few minutes. They don’t need anything more fancy than that.
Tayberries are a cross between blackberry and raspberry. They are redder than blackberries, more of a purple color. Though you can certainly eat them right out of the container (on the way home, perhaps), I think tayberries are best used in baking…..such as tayberry crisp, tayberry fruit crumble, tayberry coffeecake, tayberry pancakes….

Basil is perhaps most commonly used to make Pesto. You can find my pesto recipe on our recipe blog. To get there, go to our Recipe Blog.
Once you have a batch of pesto, you can
* toss it with boiled, steamed, or roasted new potatoes
* thin it with vinegar to make a vinaigrette salad dressing
* add a large “dollop” to a pot of soup (particularly good in a Minestrone!)
* spread a layer onto a sandwich instead of mayonnaise or mustard
* or just toss into a pot of hot pasta for a “10-minute meal”

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