Strawberries… Finally! Summer CSA 2011 – Week 3

 In CSA Newsletter

Zea has a book called, “Mama is it Summer Yet?” by Nikki McClure.  As the title suggests, the story is about a child waiting for summer to come.  With beautiful artwork, each page details an act of spring, and the Mama explaining to her son that it will be summer soon.  Swallows fly in, apple trees blossom, seeds are planted, ducklings hatch, etc. Then finally summer comes. On the last page, Mama and son are snacking on strawberries while hanging out in the baby pool. Just as the book celebrates, strawberries ripe on the farm are the signal of the true coming of summer.

To be honest, Mike and I weren’t sure how the strawberries would fare after the late, late May 27th hard freeze. Witness exhibit A (frost on strawberry leaves).

Exhibit B: Zea and her Strawberries

Exhibit A: May 27 Hard Freeze, the Morning After

It’s the latest crop we’ve ever had! We were fearing it would never come. But thankfully, it has finally arrived!  Witness exhibit B (Zea chomping down on strawberries).

Strawberry season is a short burst. Not only does signal the official start of summer, but it feels like a sweet reward for all the leafy greens we’ve been eating in our local Wisco diet in spring.  There are all kinds of fancy ways to eat strawberries, but we just eat them plain.  That’s the best. If you’ve never had a local, organic strawberry, you may be surprised at how flavorful they can be. The main variety we grow is called Jewel. The taste of the berries seems to be the same one that some artificial strawberry flavorings are based upon. It’s a strange post-modern thing to eat a real strawberry and think immediately of its artificial counterpart (popsicle, icee, etc.)! They just taste so strawberry-like!

On the first big harvest, everybody is usually pretty chipper in the fields. We harvest as a huge farm crew… Mike, myself, the employees, and all the worker shares. This morning there were ten of us working together.  With the breeze, the chatter, and of course the occasional snack on the over-ripe, bruised-on-one-side, or chewed-on-partway-by-a-rodent berries, it can be a really fun time. However, our enthusiasm for picking berries is generally as fleeting as the season itself. Strawberry harvesting is extremely tedious and notoriously tough on the body. While our taste buds wish strawberry season would last much longer than it does, most of the farm crews’ bodies appreciate that it doesn’t last forever. We really hope you enjoy these special treats, both for their taste and the knowledge of how many peoples’ labors went into producing them for you.

Nothing is as exciting as the first strawberries, so we’ll keep the rest of the news short this week. Other new items in your box this week include sugar snap peas, cilantro, and zucchini. Sugar snap peas can be stir-fried into Asian dishes if you like, but honestly, they are best eaten as a raw snack. You can string the pea and just eat the whole pod! They are crispy, juicy, and slightly sweet. So yummy! Cilantro is one of those herbs that people tend to love or hate. Most people know how to use it best in making salsa… but what’s strange is that it’s rare to have the two in season at the same time! Cilantro doesn’t like a lot of heat; tomatoes do. So ideas for your cilantro? Chop it up and sprinkle it fresh on your dish… whether you are making a Mexican or Asian themed meal. I like it with tacos best.

As for zucchini, you probably don’t need any cooking ideas for these first ones. But odds are, in a few more weeks you’ll need some fresh ideas. So please, please send me your favorite zucchini recipe so I can share it with the membership during our annual “Cuke, Zuke Challenge”.

We hope to see many of you at the farm tour and strawberry pick this weekend! It’s from 3 to 5pm at the farm. Click here for directions. We start with a tour (one that’s info dense, and one more for kids). After the tours, we do a strawberry pick. Usually we time this event to be at the end of strawberry season, and we let members clean out the patch. But this year, the berries came so late that some members won’t have even received them in their boxes yet. We need to save the berries for the CSA boxes, as that is the priority. So we will be rationing the amount of berries you will be allowed to pick this weekend. A quart per person maximum is what you can expect. We hope that you will still decide to come meet us and see your farm!

Thanks for reading and happy eating! Cassie, Mike, and Zea

In the Box:

  • Broccoli
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic Scapes Green, cylindrical, bunched
  • Head Lettuce (Red Leaf)
  • Kale  (Red Russian) Large leafy bunch, purple stems
  • Kohlrabi Spiky, green or purple bulb
  • Salad Mix
  • Salad Turnips
  • Scallions
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Zucchini

This Week’s Recipes:

Summer Week 3 – June 22, 2011 – Everyother Group A