Thursday, January 28, 2010

The 1/28/10 Lincoln Box

Early dismissal meant we got to have our boxes a little earlier today...
Beautiful colors as always. We have lemons, oranges, red cabbage, mixed greens, cilantro, parsley, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, carrots, bok choy, and two kinds of lettuce.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jan 21 Box

Our box was crammed to the gills today. I was worried about the effect of the large amount of rain we have received this week upon this week's produce. We needn't have worried. They were amazingly moist and crisp today.

I had to move the gigantic head of Romaine lettuce out of the way to show you the rest.
  • 1 head of Romaine 
  • 1 head of butter lettuce
  • 1 bunch of swiss chard
  • 2 pints of strawberries
  • 1 pint of tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of radishes
  • 2 bunches of carrots
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • 1 bunch of Chinese broccoli
  • 1 bunch of spinach
  • 2 purple kohlrabis
What's a kohlrabi? It's another member of the brassical family.

Doesn't it look like a purple UFO? I am saving the radish, carrot and kohlrabi tops for a hearty winter soup with beans, sausage, onions and potatoes. I have never eaten a kohlrabi before, but I have read about them.  Last summer, Mark Bittman wrote that he eats chopped kohlrabi raw in a summer salad, much as he would eat a chopped radish.  (Read his 101 simple salads of the season.) 

Simply Recipes has a bunch of links to kohlrabi recipes.  So does The braised kohlrabi recipe at recipe tips sounds (and looks) really good.  The related recipe they offer on the right side for beet greens will also work for the kohlrabi greens.

Leave a comment to tell me how you cooked yours.  I'd like to know.

Last week, I worried about the effect of this week's rain upon the strawberries.  Sure enough, we found our strawberries this week not as uniformly sweet as last week's batch.  Some were just as sweet, but others were just OK.  How did you find your strawberries?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Winter Strawberries

True winter strawberries (rather than those imported from a warmer clime) are a rare and precious commodity. They look pretty ordinary, but they are the most amazingly sweet strawberries we have ever tasted.

When we took the Tanaka Farms CSA family day tour, Glenn Tanaka told us that the first crop of strawberries in the season are his favorite.  They plant strawberries in October/November.  By the end of December, the first strawberries ripen.  Winter berries are the smallest and sweetest strawberries the plant will ever produce.

They mature more slowly due to the cold weather and shorter days.  There are only a few, not enough for commercial harvest. Glenn says he and the rest of the TF family love to walk the fields then, searching for strawberries under the leaves and eating them right away.

By January, there are a bit more--enough to share with the CSA families.  Last week, we received two pints of these ambrosial berries in our CSA box.  In February-March, when the days get warmer and longer, the plants go into full-scale production.  They can pick the plants every few days because the berries grow and ripen so quickly.  They will also be bigger, but they will never be as sweet and precious as those early season jewels.

Sadly, the heavy rains this week may damage the strawberry plants.  They need just the right amount of rain and this may be too much.  Mildew can set in on strawberry plants if there isn't sufficient sunshine and wind to dry the plants out between waterings.

We hope for more winter strawberries in this week's box, but we are prepared to be disappointed.  The ones from South America or greenhouses sold in the supermarkets are not the same.

The contents of the January 14 box:
  • 2 pints of unbelievably sweet strawberries
  • 1 head of butter lettuce
  • 1 bunch of carrots
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 bunch of broccoli
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 bunch of beets
  • 1 bag of small yellow onions

Monday, January 11, 2010

2010 CSA Update

I hope you all had a wonderful winter break.

The CSA program resumes this week.  Madison and Lincoln deliveries begin Thursday, 14 January 2010.

On , 31 December 2009, Tanaka Farms officially announced the 2010 prices.  Boxes are now $30 with $25 going to TF and $5 going to the PTA.  (At the December Family Day down on the farm, Farmer Tanaka gave a heads up to some of the tractor ride tour groups.)

Part of the reason for the price increase is because of lower than expected volumes per delivery site.  Madison is one of the low participation schools (5-10 boxes per week).  We hope to grow our program, despite the price increase.  Even at $30 per box, this is still about $15 lower than another CSA program that serves our area.

Remember that CSA members are invited to CSA Family Days on the farm.  Tanaka Farms normally charges as much as $13 per person for these fun and educational tours.  Recent subscriber families can attend FREE.  There are ~4 tours per year, one for each season.

Early Spring means strawberries!  See the post about the 2009 strawberry tour for photos.
Summer means watermelons.  Fall brings pumpkins and the winter tour is a festive holiday party.  In the spring and summer, kids go into the fields to pick their own produce.  They can cook it up right there on the farm, and/or take some home.