CSA Spring CSA Week4B Newsletter

Some days in Spring are especially busy for the farm and today was one of them. Crazy busy. 

There were melons to plant, tomatoes to trellis, slicing onions to dry. There were weeds to pull (nothing new about that.) And then, of course, the harvesting for this week’s share, which is a nice balance of the last of the winter crops and the first of the summer crops.

And then there were the kids. One hundred and two, to be exact. And I”m not talking baby goats. No, these were well-behaved, exuberant third graders from Elgin ISD who arrived at nine this morning for a field trip.

Erin is constantly hosting field trips at the city farm and most of them she can manage alone or with the help of Carolyn and one or two other farm educators. But today was different. Even before the dew had dried, three yellow buses pulled up to the barn and enough kids spilled out to encircle the entire barnyard several times.

Erin is our general and soon all seven of us foot soldiers for good food  are at our stations, ready to spend the next two hours giving these kids a real farm experience. For the farmer, who so often spends hours alone in the field, it is exciting and exhausting at the same time — all these questions thrown at you, ones you haven’t thought about in years. 

Some you can answer without thinking: what is organic, where does a potato come from, how old is Spot (our 800-pound boar)?  

And then come the one’s that give you pause. What is that pink thing on the back of Spot?  Why does the rabbit have red eyes. How do the goats make babies.? How do vegetables get their names? Do worms eat plastic?

 Humor goes a long way on days like this. And sometimes the kids run with our games. Our daughter Alex was in charge of the chicken and rabbit station. Pointing at the round rabbit droppings beneath the cage, she explain that we don’t call it poop. “

“We call it bunny berries,” she explained.

“Oh,” asks one astute third grader. “Can we eat them?”

“Yeah,” another chimes in. “It looks like Coco Puffs.”

Ah, life on the farm. Never a dull moment.

-Farmer Skip

Easy Kimchi

Makes approximately two twelve ounce jars.

Ingredients

2 heads Napa cabbage, chopped
2 pieces daikon radish, chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic
1-2 inch piece of ginger, peeled
1/4 – 1/2 cup  red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you like it
1-2 tsp fish sauce optional
3-4 TBSPs sea salt
Directions
1. Trim ends of cabbage and chop any way you want – thin or thick strips is fine.  Chop the daikon radish and scallions as well.
2.  Add the salt to the vegetables and mix thoroughly.  Let sit for an hour or two.  The salt will draw out the water.  This is known as the “dry salt” method and the one I prefer.   If you don’t want to wait a few hours you can simply crush and squeeze the veggies with your hands.  Do this for a minute or two until the veggies get nice and wet from the water that is released.
3. In a food processor, blend the garlic, ginger and chili flakes into a paste.
4. Pack mixture into mason jars
5.  Press mixture firmly into the jars until the water starts rising
6.  Put the lids on and leave the jars at room temperature for 2-7 days.  Open the lids every day to release the gasses that form as a byproduct of fermentation.  If the water level rises, drain some off.  If the vegetables rise above the level of the water, pack them back under the water with your hands or the veggie stomper.
7. Taste the kimchi after 2 days.  It should taste pleasantly sour.  If not, continue to let it ferment and taste it every day until you find the taste acceptable.  Transfer to the fridge where it will continue to ferment (and the taste will change!) albeit at a much slower pace.  It will last for at least six months.

Flower CSA Returns

Our Spring Flower CSA is back! Check out our Flower CSA page to find out more about ordering these beautiful bouquets.

(Flowers will change weekly depending upon availability, so not every week will look like this gorgeous bouquet, but will always be beautiful.)

CSA Spring CSA Week3A Newsletter

Visions of Green Fields

Warm days, cool evenings, and intermittent rains bring Spring to a brilliant crescendo of color — ten shades of green splashed with wine cup red, bonnet blue, and buttercup yellow. The farmer stands in awe at nature’s exuberance, once again caught off-guard by its silent rush to dress up and burst forth into the world. Everything in flux. Nothing staying put. A wild parade of growth that marches past him as he hastily pulls his babies out of its path.

Yes, it’s that time of year again, albeit a fortnight early by most planting calendars. This week’s harvest runs the gamut from fennel steaks that barely survived the late December freeze to romaine lettuce that baked under a summer-like sun. And now comes the moment he had waited for, dreamed about in mid winter when the farm finally appeared under control and promised to follow his best laid plans. Amid swarms of harlequin bugs and regiments of Johnson Grass, the farmer unveiled the white row cover and exposed his prized possession — the most tender, leafy, unmolested row of hakurei turnips he has ever grown.

As white and luminous as the full moon that rose later that evening, those sweet orbs were washed and packed and safely stored. A small victory worthy of a good meal, exalted, hopefully, by some brilliant menu that would honor the arduous journey.

The farmer has more to share — carrots and new potatoes ready in the next week or two; squash and cucumbers on their heels; and tomatoes already the size of easter eggs. And the farmer has more to tell, like how 30 Austin creatives celebrated the new moon at the city farm last night as part of the Moon Language Story Circle* gatherings. All it took was a fire and a dozen brave artists to hold back the storms with their poetry, music and timeless stories. A quintessential Austin moment was brought forth as gracefully and magically as those delicious turnips with the can’t-spell-me name. 

Alas, however, the farmer has run out of space and time. The Spring that sprung before its time has stolen the hours as well. 

-Farmer Skip

*Feel free to attend the next full moon meeting, which will be held at Urban Roots.

Purple Potato Salad with Fennel and Mustard Greens

Serves 4 to 6

2 pounds purple fingerling potatoes
2 teaspoons salt, divided, or to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra as needed
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (or white vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups purple mustard greens, torn into bite-size pieces
1cup sliced fennel fronds 
Handful of mustard flowers (optional)

Place the potatoes and salt in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Partially cover and simmer until potatoes are tender but not mushy, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. Drain and cool slightly. When cool enough to handle but still warm, cut potatoes into large bite-size pieces. (The salad should be chunky).
Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl. Add the oil, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Toss to coat. Add the garlic, mustard greens, and fennel. Toss to combine and slightly wilt the greens. If the salad is too dry, add a little more oil to achieve desired consistency. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt if desired. Before serving, scatter the mustard flowers over the potatoes. Serve at room temperature or chilled.