Mesclun Salad Mix
Red Round Radishes
Russian or Broadleaf Kale
As we have mentioned a few times, this has been a strange spring; what with extreme weather patterns and temperature shifts. You may have noticed a lack of arugula and baby mustards or late arrivals of broccoli and carrots. Some of this is due to late, early Spring plantings, but more even are the effects of the late April into May weather. We are now hitting a period with very little lettuce, the heat swings and unending wet weather a few weeks back confused 3 successions into bolting, beginning to flower and although we have a little arugula in our mix, we are still waiting for a sufficient stand, maybe in mid-June it will happen, fingers crossed. When the heavy rains came our farm was spared in many ways, only a few inches of rain fell; but with our heavy soil it did create some breathability issues for certain crops and mostly it invigorated all the spring and summer weeds. The amount of growth on the farm over the past two weeks has been remarkable. Everything has enjoyed the rain, making it hard to catch up with weed management. This puts a bit of a strain on us, as May is a huge planting month. We plant all our indoor and outdoor peppers, 2 successions of tomatoes, eggplant, corn, beans, okra, 2 successions of squash and cucumbers, 3 successions of lettuce, chicories, cut greens, 2 successions of basil and more. So we are slowly cleaning up crop fields and trying to give the crops room to breathe. Slowly but surely they are coming to maturity and before you know it we will have roots, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, cucumbers, and even tomatoes.
This week’s share includes our first fennel, sighting of the year. It is still very small; but pungent too. It is fabulous used both raw and cooked. Some people find fennel too strong or overbearing, in this case it is best to cook it, which will mellow the anise flavor while bringing out the sweetness. Braising or roasting are both great cooking methods. We particularly enjoy fennel sautéed with garlic scapes and spring onions, capers or olives, some anchovies and chile flakes, and even a few greens such as chard or kale. Then toss with your favorite pasta and a splash more of olive oil and you have a fabulous meal. We also encourage people to use some of the radish, scallion, and herbs in the share to make a fresh relish of sorts. All minced up with a bit of citrus, salt, and a touch of oil. This is a great addition to tacos, salads, fish, eggs, etc. Please check out some of the recipes below and enjoy the share….,Autumn and Brian
It is garlic scape time again. We have this lovely delicacy for only 2-3 weeks each year and we look forward to them all Spring. A longish scape will be equivalent to 1-2 cloves of garlic. You can mash them, mince them, or use bigger pieces for some garlic punch. The scape would eventually become the flower bud on each garlic plant. By pulling them out, more energy is put into growing the bulb, making for larger garlic in the end. The scape on its own is tender with a little crunch and a superb garlic flavor without a ton of heat. They will store in a plastic bag in your refrigerator for at least 3 weeks, but can also be pickled using the brine for a basic dilly bean recipe. Other options include making garlic butter (blend the scapes, mix with softened butter and a little salt, then using wax paper make the butter into a log roll, wrap in plastic wrap, freeze, and use as needed.) or garlic scape pesto (check out this website for recipes: http://www.saveur.com/article/-/Garlic-Scapes-Recipes). Feel free to use them as a substitute for garlic in recipes, just add more volume than recipe requires, as the scapes are definitely more subtle than a clove of garlic will be.
We have included some recipes from Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons, A New Way With Vegetables, a wonderful cookbook that came out last year. Joshua McFadden, a chef based in Portland Oregon, has a wonderful culinary history which included working as a farmer in Maine for a few years. He is one of a small group of chefs that is connecting kitchens with farms by really using a bounty of produce in the dishes, not as side items to protein but as the star of the show. This is the perfect cookbook for us farmers to use. Have a great week and enjoy the share….Brian and Autumn
Sauteed Greens with Olives (Misticanza) from Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden
The key to this dish is to cook it quickly at high heat so that you can taste each green in your mix.
extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¼ tsp dried chiles flakes
10 cups lightly packed torn mixed greens (such as kale, escarole, turnip greens, beet greens, chard)
kosher salt & black pepper
¼ cup Kalamata olives, pitted & halved
2 Tbls lemon juice
Heat a glug of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes – don’t let it burn! Add the chile flakes and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the greens a handful at a time, tossing until wilted between additions (if you can, start with the tougher greens such as kale or escarole). Season generously with salt and black pepper and cook until all greens are wilted and softened, about 3 minutes more after your last addition.
add the olives and 2 tablespoons lemon juice and toss to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more chile flakes, salt or lemon juice. Finish with a nice drizzle of olive oil.
Sugar Snap Peas with Mustard Seeds and Tarragon from Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden
I keep all the seasons in check here because what I really want to taste are the delicately sweet snap peas.
1 ½ tsp yellow mustard seeds
¼ tsp cumin seeds
extra-virgin olive oil
½ pound sugar snap peas, strings pulled off
kosher salt & black pepper
1 Tbls unsalted butter
½ tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/8 cup lightly packed tarragon leaves
¼ cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
Put the mustard and cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat and toast until the spices become fragrant, shaking the pan so nothing burns, about 4 minutes. Be careful because the mustard seeds pop. Pour them onto a plate to cool.
Heat a small glug of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the snap peas, season lightly with slat and pepper, and sauté for a minute or two.
Add 1/8th cup water to the pan and quickly cover it. Steam the snap peas for a minute or so, then uncover. The peas should be approaching crisp-tender. Once the water has evaporated, add the butter and the toasted seeds and cook for another minute.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the lemon juice, the tarragon, and parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, pepper, or lemon juice. Serve warm.
Squash & “Tuna Melt” Casserole from Six Seasons by Joshua Mc Fadden
1 ½ pounds firm small summer squash
kosher salt & black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
4 scallions, trimmed (including ½” off the green tops), thinly sliced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
¼ tsp dried chile flakes
two 5-ounce cans oil-packed tuna
1 ½ cups shredded good-quality extra-sharp cheddar cheese
Trim off the end of the squash and halve lengthwise. Salt the squash on their cut faces with 2 teaspoons salt and leave to drain for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours (if more than 2 hours, transfer to the refrigerator).
Heat a big glug of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions, thyme, chile flakes, ½ teaspoon of salt, and several twists of black pepper. Cook until the scallions are soft and fragrant but not actually browned, 3-4 minutes. Take them off the heat, and when cool enough to taste, adjust the seasoning with more of any of the spices or the thyme.
Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Spread the squash cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet (or two if needed, to avoid crowding). Roast until slightly shrunken and browned on the cut sides, on the way to tender, but not at all mushy. Cooking time will depend on the size and shape of your squash; but for a typical slender 6 “ zucchini, this should take about 15 minutes. (Leave the oven on).
Arrange the squash pieces in a baking dish that will fit them all snugly in one layer, this time cut side up. Distribute the scallions over the surfaces. Flake and crumble the tuna in an even layer over the scallions and then top evenly with chedder.
Return to the oven and bake until cheese is melted and beginning to bubble and brown, 10-15 minutes.
Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.
Photos 2 & 3 by Alexis Courtney
Rain, rain, rain; what a week this was. Within a week we have seen the weeds and pastures grow a foot and remembered what summer humidity feels like. As our fields begin to dry out we will see the effects of this monsoon on our crops and get to hoeing and hand weeding as rapidly as possible.
This weeks share has a mix of roots and greens plus our first scallions and cilantro of the season. These two can be paired to season fish or poultry; but also used in a vinaigrette or miso dressing for a fabulous green salad. Check out the recipes below and enjoy the share…….Autumn & Brian
Roasted Beet Salad With Miso–Sesame Dressing, Pears, And Frisée Peanut Chicken Lettuce Wraps With Cilantro Lime Rice
Butterhead or Oakleaf Lettuce
French Breakfast or Red Round Radishes
Swiss Chard or Spinach
Here it is finally, our 7th season of Community Supported Agriculture. We are looking forward to feeding you, your families, and friends over the coming 26 weeks. For those of you just joining us, welcome. Please use these posts and the recipes included below to learn a bit more about us, what we do, how we do it, and various ways to use more produce. We like to share details about our trials and successes throughout each season so we can bridge the gap between growing food and eating it.
This has been an unusual Spring. February was warm and dry, followed by March with cold and wet weather, limiting early access on our crop fields. April continued with some extreme shifts between cool weather and hot spurts. Since mid April we have had one very big heavy rain with mostly dry weather, so irrigation has been paramount in getting our direct seeded crops to germinate. What does this mean for growing? Well we got a late start; which will be noticeable with Spring crops that take more time to mature such as carrots, beets, cabbage, broccoli, and bunching greens, more or less these are all 3 weeks behind a “normal” year. On the other hand our early Summer crops are all on schedule. Tomato, squash, and cucumber starts went into the ground a little early and have been growing fast. Potatoes, onions, and garlic are on schedule and looking great and our first successions of beans and corn are beginning to germinate as I write this. So we predict that this season will be slim through May but in June a lot of our Spring and Summer diversity will be ready at the same time. This can be a bit of a nightmare for our harvesting schedule; but with help we can pull it off. We are delighted to have two experienced farmers working part-time on the farm this season, a bit of a game changer for us. In addition we are welcoming our full season intern Izzy onto the farm this month. These employees along with a small group of dedicated volunteers make the farm run smoothly and efficiently, for this we are very thankful. It’s looking to be a good season ahead, as the crops in the fields are now established and growing strong.
For the first share we are excited to bring you two seasonal one-time items: green garlic and fava beans. Green garlic is the immature phase of a garlic plant prior to the bulbing stage. This is the end of our one month green garlic season, so you’ll notice that it is quite large and pungent. As the days get longer and warmer in tandem, the garlic gets ready to bulb, we are just on the cusp of this. Use the green garlic like you would leeks, only envision they taste like garlic. The white part at the base is going to be the most tender (can be used raw or cooked); whereas towards the fronds it gets a bit tougher (cook in a sauce, soup, or while braising meats). Fava beans, also known as broad beans, are generally grown further north in a more temperate climate; but we love them, so we struggle to get them to produce in our short Spring climate. The have a creamy, fatty pod delicious in a myriad of preparations: cooked with rice and dill, or boiled and then pureed with olive oil as a bean dip, or sautéed with green garlic and chiles and added to pasta or as a side dish. We have included some recipe ideas to inspire delicious meals with this week’s share items. We are excited to begin this season with you all. Enjoy the share…Autumn and Brian
Roz bel Ful Ahdar (Rice with Fava Beans) the New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
In Egypt this is prepared in the Spring, when fava beans are very young and tender. It is served hot as an accompaniment to meat, or cold with yogurt and a salad. Egyptians do not remove the skins of the beans.
1 pound fresh fava beans, shelled
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic or 1 green garlic stalk, minced white & greens
1 cup fresh dill, chopped
1 1/2 cups basmati or long-grain rice (wash)
2 ¼ cup water
Boil the beans in salted water for a few minutes, until they are tender, then drain. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan and fry the onion until soft and golden. Add the garlic and stir for a minute or two. Then add the drained beans and sauté a little, stirring and turning them over. Add the rice, and stir until transparent. Add the salt, pepper, and chopped dill and pour in the water. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat, covered, for about 20 minutes, until the rice is tender.
Cateto Polenta or Hickory King Cornmeal
Seminole Pumpkin or Sucrine Winter Squash
Purple Top or Golden Turnips
Highlander Yellow Onions
We have come to the last week of our CSA season. Thank you all so much for joining us and partaking in our farm’s bounty over the last 6½ months. During the past six seasons we have learned slowly but surely how to grow a variety of crops more successfully in our particular soil, while improving our land little by little. Each year some crops thrive, others fail and most do well enough while teaching us more about their particular needs. Overall though we are seeing improvement year by year, which is all we can hope for in this farming life. Thanks for giving us your support and taking on the risk with us. Although the CSA weekly shares are coming to an end; Tomten Farm is still in full production mode working on our Winter crop season. We will be bringing lots of delicious produce to Birdhouse Market next week, just in time for Thanksgiving and then in December we will be at South of the James every Saturday until Christmas. Richmond is such an ideal place to buy local food year around, as there are a number of local farms growing produce or raising meat during all four seasons. You can explore the bounty that Winter has to offer; with sweet greens and roots improved by the cold Winter nights plus squash, sweet potatoes, cruciferous crops, delicate young greens grown under cover, and our personal favorite, Winter chicories. Don’t forget your farmers during the Winter months.
In this week’s share we are excited to leave you all with some storage crops, so you can continue using our vegetables through the holiday. We have included winter squash varieties that can be wonderful either in pie or pastry as well as many savory preparations. We are excited to give you all the first milling of this season’s corn. You will receive either Cateto, a yellow Peruvian flint corn, ground as a medium-course polenta or Hickory King, a native white dent corn, ground as a medium-fine cornmeal. If you want to store it away for later we encourage you to put it in the freezer, in an airtight bag or container. We are hoping the first hard frost over the weekend helped sweeten the collard greens, spinach, parsnips, turnips, and carrots a bit. This was a significant first frost though. Our temperatures got into the low 20’s which is very unusual for a first frost in our experience around these parts. We are hoping that our greens were not too shocked, as sometimes the initial cold can damage the cell structure of the leaves, without killing the plants, making the greens or roots a bit mushy and limiting their storage potential. We are optimistic, as we tucked all the crops under row cover, protecting them from the wind and keeping them a few degrees warmer, we will see the effects though during harvest tomorrow. Please check out the assortment of recipes below for ideas with this week’s share. Thank you for joining us for this season, we look forward to another great one in 2018. Enjoy the share…..Autumn and Brian
Polenta With Braised Root Vegetables
Replace the Kohlrabi with Turnips in this recipe
Berrichon Squash Pastry Adapted from ”The Compleat Squash” by Amy Goldman
Flour, for board
2 frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
3 cups minced raw winter squash, preferably Sucrine du Berry, turban or butternut
1 small onion, minced
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup crème fraiche optional.
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly flour a work surface. Divide each pastry sheet in half, and place 2 half-sheets on floured board. Mound squash on each, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Top with onion and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Use rolling pin to flatten and enlarge remaining half-sheets slightly. Place over filling, and seal by brushing with water and pressing together. Cut three slits in each pasty and brush with egg.
3. Transfer to a baking sheet, and bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Serve warm in slices, with crème fraiche if desired.
Yield: 4 to 8 servings.
Silky Coconut-Pumpkin Soup – Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffery Alford & Naomi Duguid
3-4 Shallots unpeeled
1 1/2 lbs of Pumpkin or Squash
2 cups canned Coconut milk
2 cups Pork or Chicken Broth
1 cup loosely packed Cilantro
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 Tbls. Thai fish sauce
Generous grindings of Black Pepper
¼ cup minced Scallions
In a skillet or on a grill, dry roast the unpeeled shallots until softened and blackened. Peel, cut lengthwise and set aside. Peel the pumpkin and clean off any seeds. Cut into ½-inch cubes. You should have 41/2 – 5 cups cubed pumpkin. Place the coconut milk, broth, pumpkin cubes, shallots, and coriander leaves in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the salt and simmer over medium heat until the pumpkin is tender, about 10 minutes. **Stir in fish sauce and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Taste for salt and add a little more fish sauce if you wish. (The soup can be served immediately, but has even more flavor if left to stand for up to an hour. Reheat just before serving.) Serve from a large soup bowl or in individual bowls. Grind black pepper over generously, and, if you wish, garnish with a sprinkling of minced scallion greens. Leftovers freeze very well.
**At this point you can strain out about 1/3-1/2 the pumpkin cubes and blend just for a few seconds, return to the pot and the soup will have a slightly more creamy and emulsified texture.
For the last four years our work share members come out on the Sunday when daylight savings time ends and we plant garlic. It is a sign of the end of one season and the beginning of another. In true Virginia fashion, the weather is oscillating between warm weather one day and cool weather the next. It keeps us on our toes. We love having the work share days, as we accomplish large tasks in a short period of time. It is also rewarding to have a group of people who regularly eat our food experience our farm a few times throughout the season and often year after year, as they often pleasantly remind us of the long-term progress we are making on the land, with the soil, and in implementing infrastructure. Farming is such a slow and laborious process, it is important to be reminded of what is actually being accomplished.
This is our second to last share of the season and there is still so much produce happening on the farm. We are being fooled with this warm weather, but soon enough a hard frost will come and with our shortening day lengths, the crop growth is slowing significantly everyday. We have had a wonderful season feeding you all, your families, and friends. We look forward to the coming season and fingers crossed delicious garlic too. We are including celeriac, also known as celery root, as many of you know from previous years, celeriac is a difficult drop to grow in our climate, coupled with our heavy clay soils, so the root is often very small and you all in turn only get a small portion. Progress was made this year though in that we had significantly less rot than in the past, perhaps due to planting it out later than in the past, mid-June instead of early May. Now we have to keep it properly hydrated and weeded for the five months it is in the ground. This week you will see the last of the peppers, as we have cleared all the plants, the potatoes, and the garlic. We hope you have loved every minute of them. Please check out some of the recipes below. Enjoy the share….Autumn and Brian
Escarole and Rice Soup – The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan
1 head escarole (3/4-1 lb)
2 TBL finely chopped yellow onion
¼ cup butter
3 ½ homemade meat broth or 1 cup canned chicken soup mixed with 2 ½ cups water
½ cup rice preferably Arborio
3 TBL fresh grated parmesan
Detach escarole leaves discard any that are bruised and wash the rest in multiple waters until clean. Cut into ½ inch wide stripes In stockpot sauté onion in butter over medium heat until nicely browned. Add escarole and a light sprinkling of salt. Briefly sauté the escarole, stirring once to twice. Add ½ cup of broth and cook over very low heat until escarole is tender (25-45 depending on freshness and tenderness). When escarole is tender add rest of broth, raise heat and bring to a boil. Add rice and cover. Cook rice 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until just al dente, firm to the bite. Off the heat, mix in the Parmesan cheese. Taste and correct for salt, spoon onto plates and enjoy.
Romanesco or Cauliflower
Yu Choy Sum or Bok Choy
Sweet Pepper Mix (Topepo, Corno Di Toro, Carmanogla, Giallo Di Asti, Elephant, etc.)
Winter Radish (Misato Rose, Red Meat, Green Luobo, or Kn Bravo)
This is our first time we have had romanesco or cauliflower during our CSA season and we are excited to share the abundance with you all. Many of the crops in this week’s share were ready now and hence it is an amalgamation of crops from different cuisines, but with lots of nods to warm comforting fall dishes. The cauliflower with miso and sesame dish below would be great with romanesco as well. It is a fabulous dish paired with the bitter greens (use the yu choy sum) with soy sauce or the simmered daikon. The savoy cabbage, cauliflower, and romanesco would all be fabulous tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and garlic and then roasted or broiled till lightly charred. The daikon and other winter radishes can be used in a multitude of facets; grated raw with other roots and tossed in a lemon and tahini dressing, thinly sliced and soaked in a vinegar, sugar, salt brine for a marinated radish to use as a garnish or snack, chopped up and used as the main vegetable in a simple Indian curry, paired with beef brisket in a traditional Korean soup, and more. Check out this Splendid Table bit on What to do with the Radish! The cabbage, radishes, and chiles will all store for a bit, so feel no rush to use all these crops. Enjoy the share….Autumn and Brian
Simmered Daikon with Mustard (Daikon No Nimono Karashi-Zoe) – Japanese Farm Food by Nancy Singleton Hachisu
1 medium Daikon (1.5 lb)
1 (6“ by 4”) piece of Konbu
2 Tbls Japanese Mustard
3 ½ Tbls Soy Sauce
Pour 31/2 cups cold water into a small heavy pot. Float the piece of konbu in the water to soften. Meanwhile peel the daikon and cut it into ¾” thick rounds. Bevel the edges with a sharp knife if you like. This helps the daikon to absorb the liquid and cook evenly…and it looks nifty. Snip the softened konbu into ¼” by 1 ½” strips with sturdy kitchen scissors (or slice with a sharp knife).
Drop the daikon and konbu into the pot of cold water (there should be just enough water to cover the daikon). Bring almost to a boil over high heat, decrease the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the daikon is soft in the center when poked with a bamboo skewer. When the daikon pieces are soft but not starting to disintegrate, season with the soy sauce. Cool in the broth and serve at room temperature in small individual bowls with a dab of mustard on the side of the bowl. Eat by cutting off a manageable portion of daikon with your chopsticks, including a bit of konbu strand and dipping a corner in the mustard.