October Second

A farmer’s work is seasonal.  We practice a lifestyle and a work with a pulse and a rhythm.  It is a very interesting concept in a time when so few people are guided by the cycles of the seasons in their work.  We all feel the seasons, but it cannot always be applied to our work. ayla_spinachAyla helping wash Spinach

As farmers we get to harness the excitement we all feel in the springtime and invest that excitement into the seeds we plant in the greenhouse in March and April.  We feel the extra bounce in our step in the springtime as we begin to work outside again and feel the warm breezes again.  We watch and anticipate the thawing of the earth.  In the summer we get to sweat and feel the hot sun on our back.  The work becomes heavy and hard and our bodies become strong and our hands rough. 

As the seasons shift towards fall we rise again and again each morning to a lowering sun on the horizon.  We have breezy days again that we don’t get to experience in the summer.  The hillsides turn colors, the leaves fall, and the garden gives up.  What we are harvesting now is the remaining of the work we accomplished from April through August.  It is too late for planting or weeding or ripening of fruits.  All bets are in.  The most we can hope for now is the swelling of a fall radish or the finishing of a broccoli head.

Winter is a time for a farmer to become an intellectual.  The energy of the farm goes downward and inward.  It’s time for reading, learning, and socializing.  It is a time for rest and reflection.  Winter means fixing broken welds and sharpening tools, implementing new procedures and marketing the farm.  We feel the cold and the stiffening of our surroundings.  Winter is the only time of year when a farmer is envied, because it is a time when we get to look back on a year of hard work and feel good about accomplishing something that was very hard to do.  

Sooo...What's in the Box???? 

Napa Cabbage-  These are the huge chinese cabbages at the bottom of the box.  These cabbages are great for making raw chinese cabbage salads or for making stir fry.  Check out a couple recipes below!  Store in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Spaghetti Squash-  These are the yellow colored hard squash at the bottom of the box.  Some gluten-free folks like to use these in cooking in place of pasta.  Slice these lengthwise down the middle, scoop the seeds out and discard, and cook face down in a baking dish with a little water at the bottom of the pan for about an hour.  Once cooked, the flesh is very stringy like spaghetti.  Check out a couple recipes below!

Garlic-  More garlic to spice up your life.  

Tomatoes-  Another hefty giving of tomatoes to help finish off the season.  By now you know to keep your unripe tomatoes out on the counter to finish ripening.  You can transfer them to the fridge if you need them to hold for a little while longer.  We're expecting another tomato giving next week, but it will be much smaller.  The seasons are a changin' folks!  We had a recor-breaking year of tomatoe harvesting for sure!

Leeks or White Onion-  Another nice leek for your stews and fall soups.  

Broccoli, Cauliflower or Romanesco- Very nice looking fall brassicas.  You may have received the broccoli, cauliflower or the romanesco.  The romanesco is the fractle-looking lime green spiral that tastes a lot like cauliflower with a slight nutty flavor.  Yummy!morning_pigsWakey-Wakey Piggy-Piggies

Purple or White Kohlrabi-  Very crisp and crunchy kohlrabi.  The leaves on these babies look so good you could cook with them like you would with kale.  

Sweet Colored Pepper Mix-  Still very generous givings of peppers this late in the season.  Six nice peppers for everyone.  A mix of yellow, orange and red peppers.  

Beets-  A few nice beets.  Store these in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer.  They will keep for a very long time with their tops removed like this in a plastic bag.  

Jalapeno and Cayenne Pepper-  A little spice for your life.  


Herbed Spaghetti Squash with Cheese

Spaghetti Squash with Basil, Tomatoes and Parmesan

Peanut Pasta Napa Cabbage Salad

Asian-Marinated Tofu Napa Cabbage Salad

June Nineteenth

Strong to the finich because you eat your spinach!

For the first time in what feels like a very, very long time, it is starting to feel a bit like summer.  The warm breeze blows against the sweat on our brow and makes us feel cool, the sound of the neighbors mowing their lawn, the lightening bugs, and the thunderstorms.  With the first day of Summer coming up this Friday, I think I’m finally convinced that winter is gone and that Summer has the strong hold. truckMonday morning crew ready for harvest!

With the Midwestern growing season now in full swing, we have much to be thankful for.  While we still have plenty of time to wait for our tomatoes to grow taller and begin to blossom and bear fruit.  It will feel like centuries before our peppers will grow fruit and turn colors and still several weeks before the sweet corn begins to tassel.  Even the potatoes are just now emerging from beneath the mulch.   And what will we eat when there aren’t even green beans yet?

The rainy, lush, and now warm Spring is offering plenty of greens.  Yes, I said GREENS!  You know you signed up for a CSA share because you wanted to eat more greens, feel healthier and try new foods.  Here is your big chance!  This box is loaded with greens!  Spring is a time for cleansing out and cleaning up after all those starchy and heavy foods you ate this winter.  I did just a little research to inspire you to eat your greens and feel good about it, so I don’t sound so much like your mother scolding you to eat your greens!

From THIS website.  Greens are nature’s scrub brushes, cleaning out toxins, loosening up mucus and cleansing our blood and respiratory systems. They are arguably one of the most important foods we can eat for good health. Unfortunately, they're also the most common food missing from the American diet.

“Dark, leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses,” says Joshua Rosenthal, MScED and founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. “They deliver high amounts of immune-boosting vitamins, skin-glowing minerals and cancer-fighting phytonutrients, not to mention fiber and even protein.”

Some of the proven and apparent benefits of consuming dark leafy greens include:

  • Blood purification
  • Reduced lung and chest congestion
  • Strengthened immune system
  • Healthy intestinal flora
  • Improved hydration
  • Weight-loss promotion
  • Reduced cravings

 “What a lot of people don’t know is the vitamins in leafy green vegetables are fat-soluble. To avoid missing out on all the valuable vitamins and nutrients they should be eaten with a healthy fat source,” says Elizabeth Finch, holistic health coach. “Try olive oil, coconut oil or avocado.”  Greens come in just about every flavor, from sweet to bitter and peppery to earthy, which means there is a powerful leafy green out there for every set of taste buds.irvingWeeding onions on Thursday morning

Sooo, What's in the Box????

French Breakfast Radish:  We were wondering if the French really eat these for Breakfast?  What do you think?  One of Worker Shares, Joe, thinks "Probably not on a regular basis".  

Cherry Bell Radish:  These are the rosy red, round balls that look like clown noses.  Remember that the greens on your radishes are edible!  

Curly Green Kale:  Such perfect looking gale this week!  This is some of the healthiest stuff we will ship you this summer.  Learn to love kale if you can.  I promise a long and rewarding relationship.  Kale keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  Have you ever had Kale chips?  See the recipe below!

Collards:  A southern cooking green that grows wonderfully in the cool, midwestern north.  Collards are in the same family as kale, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.  A mild flavored and nutritious green!  Keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Cilantro:  Beautiful and fragrant!  The cilantro is looking spectacular this week with no blemishes or yellow leaves.  Taco salad anyone?

Spinach:  One last giving of spinach before this cool weather loving green goes out of season until fall.  We all love spinach with everything, but we'll have to embrace our other greens until the cool weather returns in September and October.  

Lettuce X 2:  It is high tide for lettuce on the farm.  The lettuce is still very tender and wonderful this time of year.  We were harvesting green and red buttercups, green romaines and your regular red-leaf lettuce.  So much wonderful lettuce.  Keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  A little extra cleaning effort is needed to clean the lettuce leaf by leaf once you've cut the end off.  

Arugula:  One last giving of the peppery arugula as well this Spring.  The leaves are looking a little more rough now that the warm weather is here.  They're still wonderful incorporated into a large salad or wilted down into your favorite greens dishes.  Arugula and feta cheese go really well togehter some walnuts and your favorite balsamic dressing.  

Broccoli Florettes:  Our broccoli this Spring is a sorry excuse for a broccoli harvest.  Our broccoli plants were all starting to bolt long before they were supposed to.  We think this happened because right after they were transplanted out, they were hit with a few hard frosts just shortly after transplant.  Also, they sat in very cold soil after transplant, needing to wait until warmer weather came around before they could resume growth.  The added stress after transplant caused them to bolt.  So we're just harveting small florettes off of them now.  We're so sorry to see this happen.  We have 3 more successions of broccoli coming on this Spring/Summer that we have much higher hopes for.  We're sorry for the small giving of florettes, but this is the best we have for now.  



White Beans and Greens

Kale Chips

Southern Style Collard Greens

Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese and Arugula

September Twenty-Fifth

The farm is falling down.  With each gust of wind, each cool night, and each shortening day.  The plants know that their time is limited and are all giving their last surge toward making seed to propagate their species, sending down roots deeper in the softened soil, and ripening their fruits and seeds as efficiently as they can to ensure the legacy of their kind. Week_17This week's bounty!

I believe that we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth.  The fall colors bring our hillsides to life and glorify our forests.  The scenery is so spectacular that people come from near and far to witness this short-termed phenomenon.  The colors enliven our experience of fall and make us all want to pick a pumpkin, drink a mug of warm, mulled cider and put on a wool sweater for a walk down a country road.  The weather is fine folks, c’mon out and see! 

The vegetable fields are slowing.  As we near our final few weeks of Summer Share deliveries we see the tremendous amount of work that still needs to get done on the farm.  We see several beds of potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips and sweet potatoes that still need harvesting before the ground freezes.  We have black plastic that needs to get pulled out of the fields and trellising that needs to get taken down.  We will still be hard at work in the fields for a good month even after CSA deliveries have ended.

The cool breeze and the red leaves are a welcome sensory experience for a tired farmers body.  We have been tapping into our energy reserves each morning that we rise, reminding ourselves that we DO love our work.  We are thankful that the sky is dark by 7:30pm and that we cannot squeeze another hours work into the day.  The family is gaining focus and the couch is looking quite comfortable.  Hooray for Fall! 

Sooo, What's in the Box???

Butternut Squash-  This hard winter squash is amung the favorites by squash lovers.  Cut your butternut in half lengthwise, scoop the seeds out and bake it face down in a pan with a little water for about an hour.  When it's done cooking add plenty of butter and enjoy!  Will keep on your counter for a few months.  

Red Potaotes-  Freshly dug on Monday morning, these new red potatoes look quite nice.  Despite a generally poor potato harvest on our farm this year, they keep coming steady and strong.  

Carrots-  Another nice bag of carrots for your everyday use.  

Mixed Tomatoes-  Still an impressive amount of tomatoes coming from the garden.  They're really slowing down now, so we can expect a smaller giving of tomatoes next week.  Remember to allow them to ripen outside of refrigeration before you transfer them to the fridge.  You could just cut up your ripe tomatoes and freeze them if you're not up for the canning experience.  

White Onion-  Another nice oinon for your everyday use.  

Eggplant-  I promise you, this is the final week of eggplant.  Some will be happy, some will be sad.  Now we have to wait another 10 monthes before we can eat fresh, local eggplant again.  Hope you got your fill!  

Celeriac Root-  The most unusual item in the box this week.  Celeriac roots are specially cultivated so that the root of the celery plant grows into a nice sized bulb instead of the stalks.  Usually we like to give them with their tops on so that you can use their celery-looking tops in cooking, but this year they were browning too much and we elected to just chop them off.  Peel your celeriac root with a pearing knive and boil and mash it with poatoes for a celeriac mashed potato dish (see recipe below).  Once cooked it has a potato consistency, but a celery flavor with less starch than a potato.  It can also be grated raw into a slaw, or grated with potatoes for a celeriac hash brown recipe.  

Leeks-  Leeks are definately a sign of fall.  We started these little buggers from seed in February and watered and transplanted and weeded and weeded and weeded them.  Alas, Whalla!  Here they are on your dinner table.  Use leeks like an onion or feature their flavor in a potato-leek soup.  marketOur booth at the Madison Farmer's Market on the Square. Come out and see us on Satruday morning!

Sweet Pepper Mix-  Still an outstanding 7 peppers per member this week.  We de-seeded and cut up and froze several bags of peppers for the winter.  Use them in January to top your pizzas, make fajitas or to bake in a quiche.  

Green Curly Kale-  A nice bunch of kale to add a little greens to your diet.  Kale can be re-hydrated and made perky again if you trim their stems and soak them in water for 10 minutes.  They should perk up and look like they've just been picked.  


Mashed Potatoes with Celeriac Root

Potato Leek Soup with Celeriac

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash

June Twenty-Sixth

We farmers are dirty folks.   The earthy kind.  We do our best to keep our minds and carrots out of the gutter, but these days we’ve got the “F” word on the mind.  Now that we’re parents of a little girl, we try not to use bad words anymore.  Not the one you’re thinking of.  The 5-letter “F” word that comes after 2, 3, and 4+ inches of rain at one time.  I’m not even going to say it, but you know what I’m talking about, right? Box_PackingPacking Boxes on Tuesday afternoon!

It’s been a wet and soggy week on the Small Family Farm.  It has been feeling a little like we live in a tropical climate with hot and humid days and rain every night.  The rain keeps coming and the forecast keeps showing more and more rain.  We’ve survived two flood seasons and one drought on this farm already and haven’t missed packing a single CSA box over the years.  While we’re not excited about the idea of surviving another flood year; we get what nature gives us and we have the confidence and skill to plug through.

So far so good!  We aren’t seeing any blights or diseases on the leaves of the plants that come from too much moisture sitting on the leaves for too long.  We haven’t seen anything rotting away yet or any carrots in the ditches.  The warm weather and the winds are here to dry everything out quickly, provided we are granted with a reprieve from the rains long enough that this can happen.  We are seeing a fair amount of erosion of topsoil at the bottom of our hilly farm, but nothing so far that is irreversible.  This week we continued to plant some of our broccoli, cauliflower and sweet potatoes by hand-a job we don’t regret mechanizing. 

The workers keep showing up for work in the morning with smiles on their faces and the best of the Midwestern bounty is yet to come.  The peas are covered in white blossoms and the honey bees are hard at work.  Even the freshly weeded pepper plants are showing us their finest flowers.  We’re uncovering the row-cover from the summer squash, cucumbers and melons and things are looking good in cucurbit land.  Spirits are high and the CSA boxes are getting a little heavier each week.  With a little help in hopes and prayers on your end, we might just make it out of this long, wet, Spring (I mean Summer now!) alive. 

Sooo...What's in the Box???

Strawberries-  Strawberries are highly perishable, especially fresh, local Strawberries picked at the peak of their ripeness.  So eat them up soon, the won't keep long!  They're a bit on the dirty side from 1.5 inches of rain on Monday night.  We don't wash Strawberries because they don't like to be washed before shipping.  You'll have to do a little cleaning on these yourselves.  Enjoy!

Kohlrabi-  These are the sometimes called a ground apple.  You peel the outside, tougher skin off with a pearning knife and the inside texture is similar to an apple, and the flavor is very mild.  It is in the same family as cabbage and kale and broccoli, so a slight resemblance to cabbage in flavor.  The leaves that we left on the kohlrabi are edible.  Use your kohlrabi greens like you would use your favorite cooking green or like kale.  Peel your kohlrabi and dice it up and eat it raw like veggie sticks with your favorite dip or ranch dressing.  

Fennel-  Fennel is in the same family as celery, believe it or not.  It is used in cooking sometimes like you would use celery.  The white bulb part is used the most in cooking.  When eaten raw, it has a flavor similar to licorice, but once it is cooked, it has a very mild and smooth flavor that is hardly noticeable.  You can chop your celery and use it to flavor a roast, sautee it with onions or shave it very thin on top of salads if you like to eat it raw.  The fern-like leaves can be used for garnishing or flavoring.  They also have a licorice flavor when used raw.  

Rainbow Swiss Chard-  Our second giving of chard this summer.  The stalks are edible as well as the leaves.  The stalks look like rhubarb, but the flavor is nothing like it.  Swiss Chard can be used in any way that you would cook with spinach.  It is not necessarily used raw very often, it is mostly a cooking green.  Are you getting any better at cooking with greens yet?

Broccoli Florettes-  Another modest giving of broccoli florettes.  Because of the stress of the cool, wet spring our broccoli starting buttoning a little earler than it was supposed to.  So we're giving handfuls of florettes to hold us over until our next successions come on.  This Fall, in the cooler weather, we promise to show you the awesome broccoli that we know how to grow!puddleFarm kids play in puddles

Garlic Scapes-  So garlic scapes are actually the garlic plants attempt at making a seed head.  We go through the rows and snap the scape off of each plant so that the plant knows to put more of its energy into making a larger garlic bulb underground, rather than trying to put its energy into making a seed pod above ground.  It just so happens that these scapes are delicious to eat.  Usually we eat the round part up to the light green colored nodule.  Garlic scapes can be chopped up and used just like garlic.  

Radicchio-  These are the tiny little lettuce-like looking things in the box.  They are dense like a tiny little cabbage head with ruby ready veins.  They're a bitter green that is usually shaved thiny into a salad.  They are a an italian vegetable (hence the name) and are also wonderful chopped up small and incorporated into pasta dishes.  Have fun with it!  

Lettuce x 4!!!-  Holy Lettuce man!  Joe Orso who works on the farm says, "I've seen lettuce before, but this is redicu-luttuce!".  We had some good laughs this morning picking lettuce.  A bumper crop you might say.  The outer leaves on some of our romaine and buttercup lettuce were shredded a little from the pounding rains, so we peeled them back to just the hearts on some of the heads.  It might be time to have lettuce for every meal this week!  See some recipes for home-made salad dressings below!  The lettuce will surely need a bit of extra cleaning this week from all of the rain and soil getting splashed up into them.  

Dill-  Amazing looking dill this week!  If this is more dill than you know what to do with, you can always dehydrate your dill and crumble it into a jar and use it as dried dill this winter.  Dill is wonderful used fresh in a home-made ranch dip or sour-cream dip.   Dill in egg salad, potato salad, salad dressings.  Dill has wonderful cooling properties in all of this heat!  

Flat Leaf Italian Parsley-  Parsley is a very versatile herb.  You can sprinkle a little fresh parsley in anything you're making this week.  We love to make Taboli when we have a lot of parsley.  But this first giving of parsley is modest, so love it's fresh flavor!  Parsley is also one of the healthiest and most cleansing plants that we grow.  It is one of the most under-appreciated herbs around.  Extremely high in anti-oxidants and chlorophyll.  


Oriental Salad Dressing

Shaved Fennel Salad

Cream of Broccoli and Fennel Soup (Yummy!!!)

Baked Radicchio and Mozzarella Pasta