Monday, May 21, 2007

Two Small Farms Newsletter #397

Two Small Farms Newsletter
Issue Number 397, May 23rd 2007

In your box this week: Carrots (yellow or 'round Parisian'), Chard, Basil, Lettuce, Strawberries, Baby Turnips, Fennel, Summer Squash, wild arugula or regular arugula

This blog:

What the deal with the blog? you ask... I started the blog as a way to get the newsletter out to you. The advantages of the blog are many: I can include a photo, I can make text into links instead of having the whole http... .com address for links, I can edit it as I see mistakes or changes that need to be made, I can do it from any computer, and the BEST: *They* manage the email list so I don’t have to do it by hand! So sign up: you’ll get a notice when I update with the list of that week’s vegetables: go to the following page and sign up by typing in your email address in the box on the right. Follow the instructions (you have to enter some letters they give you to make sure spammers don’t sign up for it and slow everything down.) -julia
sign up in the little box to the right.

For Sylvia from Andy

Loony Tunes afficionados know Sylvester The Cat, who eternally stalks Tweety, the caged (and cagey ) little, yellow canary. The name Sylvester comes to us from the Latin silvestris, meaning “of the woods,” or “wild.” Silvanus was the god of the forest. Sylvia was the nymph who danced to the music of pan pipes in the sylvan glade, and I grow a variety of wild arugula called Sylvetta takes Sylvia’s secret meadow as its natural habitat.

Sylvetta means “the little wild one” in Italian, but my crop is cultivated. I have a reliable harvest of Sylvetta from late spring thru first frost, but for a wintertime harvest I would need tp to sow this “wild” arugula in a greenhouse if I wanted to make sure that its tender leaves wouldn’t be toughened by rain or frost.

There are two botanically different herbs popularly known as Sylvetta that grow wild across Italy, Diplotaxis muralis and Diplotaxis erucoides. They are both distantly related to the common horticultural form of arugula, Eruca sativa, but compared to the domesticated arugula the wild arugulas are more pungently flavored. Even in cultivation wild arugulas grow slower than their “improved” cousin, and they go to seed faster; two traits that make wild arugulas a problematical crop to cultivate.

I grow Diplotaxis muralis, the Sylvetta type known in English as “Wall Rocket”.This wild arugula has the advantage of being a perennial herb that lends itself to repeated harvests. There are still people who forage for Sylvetta in the Italian countryside, but even in Italy most of the “wild arugula” that’s consumed is farmed.

American consumers who hunger for Sylvetta can’t go forage the crop in the woods the way a frugal Italian gourmet might because we don’t have this plant growing wild—yet! Sylvetta could become a feral herb that can be foraged for in the woods. It may happen like this.

Suppose I plant wild arugula at the edge of our field and harvest the crop for months until hard rains left the leaves battered and moldy. And suppose that the field stays wet and we can’t turn it under and plant a cover crop. The wild arugulas will continue to grow and flower. Before the soil is dry enough to turn over with the disk harrow for replanting some Sylvetta plants will have fully formed seed pods. When we go to prepare the field for the new year’s crops our tractor will inadvertently drag some of the Sylvetta seeds to the margin of the field where they will sprout and flourish.

Our climate in California is Mediterranean so rains come in the winter, just like in Italy. Any Sylvetta seeds that sprout at the borders of my field will find themselves perfectly adapted to the wilds of the Santa Cruz mountains beyond. As birds and mice spread their tiny, mustard-like seeds the wild arugulas will sprout to find themselves at home among other Mediterranean refugees like wild oats.

Sylvester The Cat won’t ever catch Tweety, but that’s because he’s gone Hollywood .You’ve got Sylvetta The Arugula in your box this week, but this is an herb that can hear the call of the wild, so in couple of hundred years you could have it in your yard.

(News flash: half the patch of wild arugula needs to be weeded, so some will get the wild arugula today and others will get arugula, we’ll switch it in a couple weeks.)
Copyright 2007 Andy Griffin

What to do with this week’s box? From Carolyn

The carrots will probably be cooked up as honey carrots. Slice thickly (1 1/2" thick). Throw in a small heavy saucepan w/a tablespoon or two of butter, salt, a good sprinkle of cinnamon, a big squeeze of honey and about 2 inches of water. Cover, bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer until tender (or until the rest of the dinner is ready.) Add more water if necessary and make sure not to let the sweet stuff burn! If there is still water in the bottom at the end, uncover and turn up the heat. Cook until nicely glazed.

The chard and turnip tops will be cooked with garlic and olive oil.

Romaine lettuce means Ceasar salad in our house. I use a recipe at Only difference is that I make the croutons in the oven by tossing cubed crusty bread with olive oil, chopped garlic, herbes de provences and salt and bake at 400 degrees on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes (or until nicely browned), tossing once or twice while baking.

The fennel will be sliced thinly and tossed with pitted oil cured olives, olive oil, lemon juice and maybe orange segments and red onion. Shaved parmesan on top.

Summer squash is quartered and sliced about an inch thick and sauteed over fairly high heat with olive oil, crushed garlic and chopped mint with a splash of balsamic vinegar added at the end.

Strawberries go in lunch boxes.

And the arugula. I adore arugula! It goes in a salad with chopped tomatoes, red onion and calamata olives. Olive oil and white balsamic vinegar as a dressing. You can get the white balsamic vinegar at most grocery stores and it's nice because it's not too harsh and it doesn't overpower the arugula like regular balsamic would.

Baby turnips will be quartered and slowly sauteed in butter.

from Julia:

you will get one kind of carrot or another: Yellow Imperator (long, sweet yellow carrots for raw or cooking applications) or Round Parisian carrots.

You’ll get either Genovese basil or Greek Basil: the genovese is the classic sweet basil. The Greek is a favorite among chefs for it’s intense smell and flavor. Pluck the leaves and add to a salad or cooked dish or fruit salad.... use just about anywhere you would ‘regular’ basil.
If you don’t get summer squash you’ll likely get artichokes. Both of these crops are hard to determine amount available when looking at a field: so Steve is using both of them to make sure that portion of your share is filled.

Basil Photo! Greek is on the left, genovese on the right

You’ll get either wild arugula or ‘directions to High Ground Organics

Young Turnips
Erbette Chard

Parisian Round Carrots
Yellow Carrots

Recipes from Nina, Eve and Julia

Salad of wild arugula, shaved baby artichokes and fennel
Total time: About 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Note: From chef Amy Sweeney at Ammo
(julia's note: I only read about 'food culture' in LA, when I visit family we eat at all the non glamorous restaurants: I'm lucky if I can convince my dad to eat at the local Jewish deli! It's delicious when I succeed. BUT Andy and I have been to Ammo thanks to Andy's friend from high school now living there: it's her favorite restuarant: it's a GREAT restaurant in case you're in LA! -julia)

Juice of 1 1/2 lemons, divided
1/3 cup best-quality olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 baby artichokes
1 head fennel
Small wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 pound wild arugula, washed and dried
Leaves from 4 parsley sprigs

1. Place the juice from one lemon into a large bowl. While whisking, slowly add the olive oil to emulsify. Add sea salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
2. Place the remaining lemon juice in a medium bowl and fill with cold water. Peel the artichokes down to the tender core, and slice them lengthwise on a mandoline or as thinly as possible. Place the slices in the acidulated water to keep them from turning brown. Trim the fennel and also slice lengthwise, reserving in the acidulated water.
3. Shave the Parmigiano-Reggiano with a vegetable peeler (four pieces of shaved cheese per serving) and set aside.
4. Toss the arugula into the large bowl with the dressing. Drain the artichokes and fennel, pat dry and toss them into the bowl with the arugula. 5. Divide the salad among four salad plates and top with the shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and parsley. Serve immediately.
Each serving: 276 calories; 4 grams protein; 14 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams fiber; 22 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 12 mg. cholesterol; 196 mg. sodium.

Wild arugula (also called wall rocket; botanically Diplotaxis muralis) has small, fleshy leaves and tastes peppery, clean, and sharp, quite different from the more familiar cultivated arugula, which can become medicinal and bitter when it's too mature. Substitute either young arugula or the inner leaves of curly endive or mesclun.

Puttanesca with wild arugula

Puttanesca is a forgiving recipe that's basically a rather doctored up version of 'Red Spaghetti': that's what our friend Bill calls red spaghetti sauce that so many Americans know. below is one version of puttanesca, the opportunities for substituting with what's in your kitchen are vast.

1-2 onions, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons basil, roughly chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
pinch hot red pepper flakes
S & P to taste
2-3 anchovies, rinsed
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives (many stores now sell them already pitted)
at least 2 32 ounce cans chopped tomatoes
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
grated or crumbled parmesan-type cheese
1/3 tightly packed cup wild arugula (wall rocket), or young arugula,chopped
Hot cooked noodles (orichette or other)

Cook the onions in a large pot with the oil until transluscent. Add the garlic, anchovies, and red pepper flakes and cook for another 20 seconds or so. Add the tomatoes and sauce and cook for 15-20 minutes on medium low, stirring once in while. (now would be a good time to cook up the pasta!) Add the basil, S & P, and olives and cook for another few minutes while you set the table and perhaps throw together a salad.
Add the wild arugula just before serving and pass the cheese for eaters to add or not as they choose. Enjoy!

Bruschette con Pesto di Rucola
Makes about 1 cup

The Bruschette
Cut into squares: slices of sturdy bread. Brush with olive oil and rub with a clove of garlic. Then grill or broil until light brown.

The Spread:
In a food processor or blender, combine til smooth:
A handful of arugula or wild arugula (the wild will be spicier)S & P to taste2 small garlic cloves1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts1/4 cup olive oil
Blend together to make a thick paste. Add: 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Top the bruschette.
Adapted from The Simple Grande Gardening Cookbook by Jean Ann Pollard

Julia’s take on Wild Arugula
I didn’t grow up eating wild arugula, or any arugula. I’m now a HUGE fan of both. Wild arugula is the spicier more assertive big sister to arugula. It’s a plant that grows more slowly (hence the higher prices in markets); and you don’t need as much of it in most applications. You can make a plain arugula salad with no lettuce at all and succeed with most eaters. Wild arugula is best chopped up with other salad greens to add a kick to salads. Andy and I love spicy food so I can put quite a bit of wild arugula in our salads.

Wild arugula can be added to all kinds of dishes both cooked and salad-ish. I love pestos of most varieties: arugula pesto is one of my favorites. Try a basil recipe and just use the wild arugula instead: toss this pesto with noodles or top crackers for a delicious finger food. Another of my arugula abundance standbys works with both varieties of arugula:

Prepare pasta of choice (I often use whole wheat); toss the hot noodles with chopped wild or ‘regular’ arugula along with chopped green onions and a hard grated cheese. Add S & P and possibly some lemon or a very light vinegar and you’ve got dinner!

For Chard or Spinach or Collards:

Soy Sauce Noodles with Beef and Greens From Quick and Easy Thai by Nancie McDermott
This is a classic Thai lunchtime dish: it would be great for a simple supper too. I’d eat the leftovers for breakfast! -julia

½ pound dried rice noodles
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
2 Tablespoons dark or other soy sauce
1 Tablespoon molasses, honey or brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
½ pound boneless beef, such as tri tip, flank steak, or rib eye, thinly sliced crosswise into 2 inch strips
5 cups loosely packed fresh chard or spinach or turnip greens or other cooking green leaves, cut up into big bite-sized pieces, or 3 cups broccoli florets
¼ to ½ cup water or broth, as needed, to cook up the broccoli or greens if using collards
2 eggs, lightly beaten

To prepare the dried rice noodles, bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling boil, add the noodles, and remove from heat. Let the noodles steep 5 minutes, and then drain and rinse well in cold water. Transfer the drained rice noodles to a med. Bowl and place it by the bowl.
In a small bowl, stir together the fish sauce, soy sauce, molasses, salt, and pepper. Place it by the stove, spoon and all, along with a serving platter, a pair of long-handled tongs or a spatula, and a slotted spoon for tossing the noodles. Have all the remaining ingredients ready and handy.
Heat a large, deep skillet or a wok over med-high heat and add 2 Tablespoons of the oil. Swirl to coat the surface, add the garlic, and toss for 30 seconds. Scatter in the beef and toss well. Add the spinach and cook, tossing often, until it is shiny, bright green, and tender and the beef is cooked, 1-2 minutes (collards and broccoli will need a splash of water and an extra minute to two of cooking.) Transfer the beef and spinach to the serving platter.
Reduce heat to medium, scatter in the noodles, and toss well. Cook 2 minutes or so, tossing and pulling the noodles apart so they cook evenly, and adding splashes of water as needed to keep them moist and prevent sticking. When the noodles have softened, curled up, and turned white, push them to the side of the pan.
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan. Pour in the eggs and when they are almost set, toss to scramble, and mix them in with the noodles.
Return the beef and spinach to the pan. Add the soy sauce-molasses mixture, using the spoon to get every sticky drop. Toss everything well for about 1 minute until the noodles are a handsome brown. Transfer to the serving platter and serve hot or warm. Serves 2 to 4.

Silq bi’l-TahinaChard Stalk and Tahini
Adapted from Mediterranean Vegetables by Clifford Wright and Submitted by Eve N.!

This is an excellent idea for using Swiss chard stalks. Our erbette chard doesn’t have as much stalk, but you could still try this recipe with the stalks: or wait until you have a red, white, or gold Swiss chard bunch in your life! –julia

1 bunch Swiss or Erbette chard stalks, very roughly chopped(save leaves for another preparation)
1 teaspoon salt
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup tahini, stirred if oil and seed paste have separated
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
Extra Virgin Olive oil
2 Tablespoons pine nuts fried for 1 minute in 1 teaspoon hot olive oil
1 teaspoon dried or 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped mint
6 loaves pita bread

Place chard stalks in a pot of boiling water to cover and steam/boil til soft, about 10-20 minutes. Drain well and chop. In a mortar, mash the salt and garlic together until they form a paste.
Place the chard stems in a food processor and run continuously until the consistency is smooth. Add the tahini paste and mashed garlic and run the food processor until they have been incorporated. Pour the lemon juice into the feed tube as the processor is running and process the mixture until the juice has been absorb ed. Remove the dip from the food processor and correct the seasoning if necessary.
Transfer to a serving bowl or platter; spreading it out with the back of a spoon and making fan-shaped furrows with the flat of a knife. Drizzle with a little olive oil and garnish with the fried pine nuts and mint. Serve with pita bread. Serves 6

Recipe Index

RECIPE HINT: if you click on our blog page, the vegetable list words are links to the recipe pages:! I can change it if there are changes made as Steve and Andy walk the fields on Monday, Tuesday, Wed, and so on.)

Which Farm? From High Ground: Berries, Turnips, Summer Squash, FlowersFrom Mariquita: Wild Arugula, arugula, Carrots, Basil, Chard
From Lakeside Organic Gardens: Lettuce
8) csa@twosmallfarms.com


Hamster said...

Don't know if you've seen this already but if not Yu might be interested in this website.
It's got about 30 recipes each one with a cooking video to go along
Good if you like to try cooking Thai food at home

chardgirl said...

Thank you Hamster!

I love to eat thai food and I have many of the ingredients in my kitchen: I just need to 'do it'.

I will try at least one of these recipes this week using this week's vegetables and post back.

julia (aka chardgirl)

jonathan said...

Here's a worthwhile variation on carrot soup for this week's box:

Carrot, Orange, Basil Soup

1 bunch carrots (about 5-6)
1 stick butter
1 onion
3 celery stalks
1 orange
1qt. chicken stock
Handful basil leaves
a few tablespoons creme fraiche

melt the butter in a soup pot while you chop your carrots, onion, and celery. Cook those chopped veggies in the butter for a short while until the onion softens. Section your orange.
Add the orange sections and chicken stock to the veggies, boil, then simmer the veggies until the carrots are super tender - about 45 minutes or so.
Turn off the heat and add your basil leaves and the creme fraiche, salt and pepper, and allow to cool slightly.
Puree in a blender. Reheat and serve hot.

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