Tomatoes

Tomatoes are my FAVORITE.  This is a little poem/celebration I wrote on the blackboard at a farm I worked on a few years ago:

crack tomato

Give thanks to the Mother Earth from whom all blessings flow. Give thanks to the Sun, Moon and Stars. Give thanks to the rain and the creek. Give thanks to the soil and the hands that work it. For today is the day that the seed fulfilled its promise and renewed the faith. Today is the day of the first tomato.

Juliette tomatoes in plastic bag

I was feeling a little dramatic that day obviously, but that is still how I feel pretty much every time I bite into the first fresh tomato of the year.  By the time we’re 4 weeks into tomato season it starts to seem a little less exciting.  Here are a few of our favorite tomato recipes to help you power through all the juicy plenty coming at you this time of year:

ratatouille

Ratatouille

Panzanella

spaghetti sauce

Spaghetti Sauce

A Big Tomato Sandwich

roaster peppers and tomatoes

Roasted Peppers and Tomatoes Baked with Herbs and Capers

goldenpepperandtomatosoup

Pepper and Tomato Soup

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

Gazpacho

Shell Beans and Summer Vegetables Stewed in their own Juices

spaghettisauce

Robust End of Summer Spaghetti

Sometimes the stars align

And we end up with a light box.  A couple folks pointed out this week that the boxes were a little light (especially on Tuesday).  Part of a CSA is rolling with the ups and downs of the season.  But also part of a CSA is us telling you a little about what’s going on and why that might be.

question-marks

Also rest assured that we keep track of the value of the boxes that go out, and if there is a week that is light we make sure that there is an extra big box to balance it out later in the season.

Cherry tomatoes in shopping basket

So this week, a problem on Tuesday was that Noah was having a well deserved camping trip vacation and his farm sitter couldn’t find the cherry tomatoes that were supposed to go in the boxes.  On Tuesdays we pack the boxes about 2 hours before you come and pick them up, so our wiggle room to look for things and find substitutes is very limited- so the boxes went out without cherry tomatoes.

Cucumber_beetle

There are lots of ups and downs to the season that come from pests or weather.  You can read a lot more about our policies on how we deal with pests here.

carrots

This week’s biggest problem was more an issue of planning though.  To quote our weekly planning e-mail: “Uh-oh I have tomatoes and carrots and garlic too!”  So rather than drown you in double doses of each, we went with the option to have lighter boxes this week in favor of more plentiful and diverse boxes later.  If you would rather that we give you larger quantities of some items, by all means let us know!  The most common complaints that a lot of CSAs get is that they get drowned in Kale one week and then Zucchini the next.  We try our best to avoid that.

weed party

Being a cooperative helps us smooth out a lot of the ups and downs of the season, but every once in a while even that can’t help us out.  We obviously hope we’ll make up for this light week later, but certainly continue to tell us when we get it wrong.  This is our fourth year of doing this, and we’re always hoping that we’re getting better at it all the time.

Chances to see the farms

Hello CSA members-

We hope you have been enjoying all of your vegetables and fruit and flowers so far this year.  Now with some hot weather we can see about getting tomatoes and peppers coming at you soon.
A few of you have pointed out that our spring potluck never materialized- but we are going to try and play catch up now.  Here are two opportunities to visit some farms coming up din August.
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1) Summer CSA Potluck: Come on and all to Fields of Plenty (Clairmount between 3rd and the Lodge) on August 16 at 6 PM for a potluck and farm tour.  Many of you visited this farm last year during its first year of operation and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how it as grown over the past 10 months.  We’ll send more details on parking etc as the date gets closer.
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2) Detroit Agriculture Network Tour: You can see some of the City Commons farms on 18th Annual Tour of Detroit Urban Gardens and Farms on August 5.  This is a fundraiser for the Garden Resource Program- without which City Commons would not exist. Buffalo Street Farm will be a stop on the Eastside Bus Tour.  On the Central Bus Tour, Food Field will be a stop and Fields of Plenty will be a roll by.  The entire event is followed by a dinner of local food.  You can see more details about this event and purchase ticket here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/18th-annual-tour-of-detroit-urban-gardens-farms-tickets-17357961129.  Tickets often sell out so we recommend you reserve yours soon.
Thanks so much for your support of our urban farms,
Alice and the rest of the City Commons Crew

Thanksgiving 2014 Box

It’s a little delayed due to our early snow storm, but here are the herbs and vegetables that will make your feast extra special.  Some crops we had originally planned to give you (chard, more beets, more lettuce, fennel) were damaged by the early extreme cold, but that left extra room in the boxes for Napa cabbage, spinach, extra sunchokes, and garlic.  Enjoy your veggies and have happy holidays!

 

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 Napa Cabbage from Fields of Plenty

collards

Collard greens from Fields of Plenty

Kale bunches

Kale from Fields of Plenty and Buffalo Street

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Sweet Potatoes or garlic from Food Field

radishesturnips

Salad radishes from Fields of Plenty or salad turnips from Buffalo Street

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Daikon radishes from Food Field

beets

Beets from Fields of Plenty and Singing Tree and Buffalo Street

Sunchokes from Buffalo Street

butternut

Butternut Squash from Food Field

carrots

Carrots from Buffalo Street

Scallions

Scallions from Buffalo Street

horseradish

Horseradish from Buffalo Street

salad mixspinach

Baby lettuce from Fields of Plenty or spinach from  Singing Tree

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Spicy Salad Mix from Food Field

sage

Herbs from Fields of Plenty, Buffalo Street and Singing Tree

Carrots

Carrots are the best!  Or at least that’s how I feel.  They’re crunchy, or you can cook them and they get soft, but not mushy.  You can use them in soups and salads and more.  They’re good straight out of the garden all by themselves or dressed up in something complicated.  Plus they’re super good for you, packed with beta carotene.  Here are some of our favorite recipes that use carrots (including the greens!):

Kale and Swiss chard soup with navy beans

Sesame kale salad

Pasta salad with salmon, cabbage, and carrots

Shell beans and summer vegetables stewed in their own juices

Gazpacho

Carrot Top Salad

Carrot Top Soup

Winter Squash

Pumpkins, butternut, delicata, acorn, spaghetti, kabocha… They’re all hard squashes that store well and are SUPER HARD to cut open but totally worth the time and energy.  They can be sweet in pies, or savory with curries.  They store very well at a temperature slightly below room temperature, save the ones that don’t have any breaks or scrapes in the skin.

Here are some recipes to get you started cooking with winter squash.  Every squash has a slightly different flavor, but you can mix and match for most of these recipes depending on what you have on hand.

Pasta with pumpkin sage sauce

Fresh pumpkin pie

What’s a Sunchoke?

Jerusalem Artichokes, also known as sunchokes,  are a relative of the sunflower. They are funny looking, but great for your health. Diced up raw, they are crisp and flavorful and can replace water chestnuts in recipes,  or they can be eaten cooked like potatoes! Learn more about them here: http://www.eattheseasons.com/Archive/sunchoke.htm

 

Here are a few old blog posts with more recipe ideas:

Sunchoke and potato mash

Sunchoke soup

Wash for Slugs in Lettuce

Iceberg_lettuce_(IJssla_krop)

I’ve grown to accept it as a fact of life–the sky is blue, water is wet, and organic head lettuce is likely to contain a slug or two. We do our best to control slugs in the garden, but we can’t keep every single one out without spraying something toxic. So when you go to prepare your lettuce salad this week, be sure to dismantle the head, leaf by leaf, and wash it thoroughly. Nothing worse than finding a slug in your salad!

On a separate note, the “Crispino” iceberg lettuce in Saturday’s box is my personal favorite. It has the juicy crunch of iceberg lettuce but without the watery flavorless part. Crispino has a rich, nutty flavor with a slightly bitter zing–10x the flavor  or the Dole stuff they sell in bags at the grocery store. It’s worth the time it takes to make sure there are no slugs!

Enjoy,

Minni and CSA crew