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Monday, September 12, 2011

CSA Week 10 newsletter

Wow!  We're here - the final week of the Wishful Acres CSA Summer Season!  I hope you've enjoyed eating with the seasons here in Northwest Illinois!  You've just taken part in a historical tradition; for thousands of years everyone ate this way - fresh, seasonal, local, and organically grown.  If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions on the CSA season, please email me.  Perhaps you'd like to suggest some changes made to our CSA, or maybe you like it just as it is - I'd like to hear your opinions. 

I've enjoyed growing for the CSA this first season, and hope to make our upcoming fall season just as successful!  Our fall CSA season runs from September 23 - November 25.  Those of you who have signed on for fall will receive a confirmation email soon and a delivery schedule (half shares will begin receiving a full share delivered every other week).  Fall shareholders will also soon be receiving a survey from me asking what you'd like your fall shares to look like ( in addition to vegetables there are options for things like fresh whole grain breads, canned foods, etc. provided by our farm and other like-minded nearby farms).  So fall shareholders please watch your email for the survey and delivery schedule.  If you want to join for fall, please email me by the end of this week so that I may get you on the list.

Your share will be delivered on Friday afternoon, September 16, between 12-2 pm unless you scheduled otherwise.  Your share will have a preview of fall this week!  The cooler temperatures are really pushing those fall vegetables along!  You'll get a lot of lettuce this week as well as some other greens.  The list is below, along with great recipes.

Beef back in stock!  Need extra brown eggs ($3 dozen) or certified organic beef?  Email me by Thursday night with your order and I'll deliver it along with your CSA share.  We'll be picking up the new processed beef this week from Eichman's Processing near Pecatonica.  This beef was raised on a Certified Organic family dairy farm near Ridott, where I have visited many times.  One of the family members who runs the farm is a member in our CSA, I know her personally, she is a big supporter of organics and I trust her ethics completely. I have been drinking the raw organic milk from their farm for years (and now enjoying their delicious beef as well).  I can vouch that these cows have a good life - my sons and I have witnessed them many times roaming the pasture.  The milk and beef is delicious, humanely raised, as well as certified organic.  Can't be beat!  The ground beef is $4.50 per pound, it's frozen in 1 pound packages.  I will also have roasts, steaks, and stew meat, but I won't know how many until after we pick up the beef tomorrow. 

Your share this week:

-Lettuce- New crop!  You'll all receive a large-sized bag of washed salad mix this week, featuring the new crop of red oak leaf lettuce with a few other varieties mixed in.  The Full Share shareholders will also receive a full head of pretty Tropicana lettuce, which did great during the hot August temperatures and has now bloomed into a beautiful full head.   Ranch dressing recipe this week!  Refrigerate.

- Really!  As we just moved to the farm this winter, we weren't sure which trees where what in our old neglected orchard.  Imagine our surprise when 3 of the trees turned out to produce delicious peaches!  These were left alone all season, no chemical touched them.  Organic peaches!  They do have a few dark blemishes on the skin, this was caused by the sweet sap oozing out throughout the growing season.  It washes off for the most part. We've been eating them for over a week now, and the insides are beautiful, light orange, with no insect damage that we've noticed.  If yours are not soft to the touch, but still somewhat firm, leave them out on your counter to finish ripening. 

-Spinach - The half shares will receive "New Zealand Spinach", which is not a true spinach, but rather a relative that grows well in summer.  The full shares will receive traditional fall spinach.  Delicious mixed with lettuce & cucumber for a salad (ranch dressing recipe below).

-Swiss Chard -  (Green leaves that resemble rhubarb leaves). This time of year, you may prefer the chard cooked.  Recipe below.

-Kale -
(Blue / Green leaves with a light purple stem).  You can find lots of recipes for kale chips online (I included it in a newsletter earlier this year), or use it in a delicious soup recipe (below).

-Sweet Peppers
- If the predicted early frost really does arrive this week, this may be the last of the season's peppers.  Refrigerate.

-Tomatoes - Ripe red tomatoes and hopefully some heirlooms (the heirlooms are unfortunately not doing well this season).  Tomatoes should not be refrigerated.  Keep on counter. 

-Arugula - Great on top of a lettuce salad or on a sandwich.  Refrigerate.

-Yellow Wax beans  -  This is it - the last of the beans.  If you're so sick of them you don't want to eat another bite right now, they can be easily frozen (just submerge in boiling water for a couple of minutes, run cold water over them, then toss into a freezer bag).  Then when you've forgotten that you were ever tired of looking at green beans you can pull them out again.  Also great in soups.  Refrigerate fresh beans.

-Cucumber -
To go along with all the lettuce you'll be receiving this week!  I'm also including a recipe for Cucumber Ranch Dressing below.  Refrigerate.

-Radishes - Maybe.  We're in between plantings right now, and if the old planting isn't looking up to snuff I won't include them.  Refrigerate.

-Garlic -  We'll cut a new variety down from the barn rafters this week!  Garlic may be left out on your counter for several weeks.

-Brown Eggs or extra vegetables
, depending upon your option upon signup.

And here are some recipe ideas for all those delicious organic veggies! 

Chicken Soup with Kale
-1 gallon chicken stock
-2 cups brown rice
-1 bag kale
-4 cloves garlic
-salt & pepper

I made this last week, it's one of those "dump and walk away" crockpot recipes.
I began by tossing chicken bones (leftovers from a baked chicken breasts meal) into the crockpot the night before (remove any skin first), filling the crockpot with water, and letting it cook overnight.  Then in the morning, I removed the bones, added the 2 cups brown rice and garlic cloves, and let that cook on high until the rice was tender & the grains opening up (I'd say about 4 hours).  Lastly, I tore the kale leaves and added them in and let the whole thing cook for another hour.  Then I seasoned with salt and pepper.  Leftovers would freeze well if you have any (we didn't have any leftovers :-).  Alternatively, you could probably use Swiss Chard in this recipe as well.

Sauteed Swiss Chard with Parmesan Cheese

I've never tried this recipe, let me know what you think if you try it.  It's rated very highly on
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems and center ribs cut out and chopped together, leaves coarsely chopped separately
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste (optional)
  1. Melt butter and olive oil together in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and onion, and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the chard stems and the white wine. Simmer until the stems begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chard leaves, and cook until wilted. Finally, stir in lemon juice and Parmesan cheese; season to taste with salt if needed.

Authentic Italian-Style Swiss Chard
Swiss Chard is commonly eaten in Europe.  Here is a truly authentic Italian-style version.
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt to taste
  1. Wash the Swiss chard and cut into 1 inch strips. Separate the thick and tough stalk sections from the upper leafy strips.
  2. Bring the water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil in a large saucepan.
  3. Cook the stalk sections in the salted boiling water for 2 minutes. Stir in the leafy strips and cook until the leaves are wilted and the stalks are fork tender, about 6 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  4. Heat the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a large skillet over medium heat until aromatic, about 3 minutes. Add the drained Swiss chard, cook and stir for 2 minutes; season with salt to taste.  Can be served over pasta.

Ranch Dressing
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, chives, parsley, dill, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Cucumber Ranch Dressing
Use above recipe, but add 1 or 2 cucumbers that have been pureed or thinly shredded.

Veggie Pizza
My mom makes this a lot, but she uses a canned croissant mix for the crust.  I enjoy it on a whole wheat tortilla, pita, or on homemade whole wheat pizza dough crust (recipe for the whole wheat pizza dough here on our farm blog:  )

1st, cook the crust completely by itself, with no toppings on it.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  When cool, add the pizza toppings.

Sauce layer, mix together: (if you crust is large, you can double up this sauce recipe)
-1 package cream cheese
-1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
-1 tablespoon dill weed
-1 teaspoon garlic powder (or can use fresh chopped garlic)

Toppings layer:
You can throw anything on here, really!  Let's use this week's CSA share as our guide.
-1-2 cucumber, chopped
-5 radishes, chopped
-1 small sweet pepper, chopped
-1-2 tomato, chopped
-1 cup lettuce or kale or swiss chard, chopped

Cheese layer:
-1 to 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, depending upon how much cheese you like & how big your pizza is
-1 tablespoon dill weed, sprinkled on top of cheese

Cut & serve just as you would a pizza! 
To see a finished one, here is a recipe on our farm blog from a couple of years ago, using a wheat pita as the crust:

Thanks, everyone!  Hope to see you soon.

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