Spicy Bok Choi in Garlic Sauce

  • 1 pound bok choy
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Trim off the ends of the bok choy and chop, keeping the white parts separate from the green as they will need to cook longer. Rinse and spin or pat dry. Set aside.
In a small bowl or cup, stir together the vegetable oil and sesame oil. In a separate larger bowl, stir together the water, ginger, garlic, oyster sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar and red pepper flakes. Set this aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the bok choy stems first; stir fry for a few minutes or until the pieces start to turn a pale green. When stems are almost cooked, add the leaves; cook and stir until leaves are wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer the bok choy to a serving dish. Pour the sauce into the skillet or wok, and set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce has thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Pour over the bok choy and toss lightly to coat.

Cracking Wide Open

As growers we not only follow organic practices from the moment we put the seed in the ground, we also are concerned with the origins of our seeds. As such buy organic seed when possible, and we often choose heirloom varieties, not only because they’re more interesting, but because we want to protect genetic diversity. Not only does it help protect against pests, but the more diversity there is the less likely it is that we’ll face another catastrophe such as the great potato famine. So what does this have to do with the fact that some of the tomatoes in your share may have some cracks in them?

Unlike hybrid varieties that have often been chosen for their thick skins and ability to be shipped long distances, heirlooms often have thin skins and don’t transport well. Tomatoes in general tend to crack when they receive irregular water. So the lack of rain, followed by the last few days with rain means that our tomatoes are cracking wide open (not really wide open, just small cracks really). These cracks tend to heal, but leave a noticeable scar. Heirlooms are especially susceptible to cracking, as they are very thinned skinned. Rest assured these tomatoes are not only edible, but still incredibly delicious.

Week 5: August 11

Summer fruits are fully upon us: zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, eggplant and much more.  Expect to see many of these summer crops in every box until the frosts in mid-October.

The slicing tomatoes this week are a special treat.  Most are different heirloom varieties, don’t be turned off by the unusual shapes and colors, if you’ve only been eating bright red globes you’re in a for a real treat.  As we were discussing tonight, the ugliest tomatoes generally tend to be the tastiest and a really good tomato usually has curves.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or confused by any veggies we highly recommend a new Huffington Post feature named “WTF, CSA?”  Some recent posts on eggplants and basil might be especially helpful to you was the season continues.  Enjoy these fine foods in this week’s box:

 

Chard (Vinewood Knoll, Buffalo Street)
Cucumbers (Fields of Plenty and Farnsworth)
Kale (Vinewood Knoll, Farnsworth, and Fields of Plenty)
Eggplant (Farnsworth, Vinewood Knoll, and Fields of Plenty)
Slicing tomatoes (Farnsworth and Vinewood Knoll)
Zucchini and summer squash (Farnsworth, Buffalo Street, Fields of Plenty and Vinewood Knoll)
Basil (Singing Tree and Farnsworth)
Oregano (Singing Tree)
Cherry Tomatoes (Buffalo Street and Farnsworth)
Flowers (Buffalo Street and Fields of Plenty)

 

You’re not the only one who loves our vegetables

As farmers using organic methods one of the most common questions we’re asked is how we deal with pests.  There’s lots of answers to that question and with our mild winter this is a year that we’ve had to call on all the tools in our toolbox.  We can’t blame all the birds, caterpillars and beetles, these veggies are super delicious!

So how do we make sure there are still veggies left for us?
Healthy soil, healthy plants

Squash bug babies

As with humans, an already healthy and strong plant is a lot more resilient when pests come along.  A squash plant that’s planted in good soil can deal with a few Squash bugs and still produce a lot of fruit.  Plants also can often create chemicals that help them to fight off pests on their own, or that attract beneficial insects that will chase the pests off on their own.  In fact, anti-oxidants that are good for human health are often created as a reaction to pest pressure in order to just that, another reason that organic foods can often be healthier for people.

Good guys fight back

Ladybug eating some aphids

As good as our plants might taste to a Cucumber Beetle, the Cucumber Beetle makes a great snack for some nematodes.  Sometimes we buy in beneficial insects as a way to control a particularly bothersome pests/  Usually we just try to encourage these “good guys” to hang around by providing some uncultivated spaces, native plants and flowers.

Diversity is key

Some types of kale taste really good to cabbage butterfly, others not so much.  Some varieties of beans seems to be succumbing to a rust fungus while others are totally unaffected.  At some of our gardens there’s a lot of pressure on the cabbage family plants from flea beetle, at others there is virtual none.  By growing many different varieties of many different crops at many different sites all over the city we’re able to hedge our bets against any particular problems.

Squish

Tomato Horn Worm

Sometimes you just gotta squish ’em.  Tomato Horn Worms are giant, gross and can defoliate a tomato plant in no time flat.  Luckily they are also slow and, once you’ve spotted their damage, pretty easy to spot.  Since there’s usually just one per plant it is easy to just go through and do a targeted assassination.

Good fences make good neighbors

We’re actually not real big on fences at City Commons as a general rule, but some well placed row cover can help a lot when it comes to flea beetles, cabbage moths and other pests that love to fly or hop on to a newly planted row.  This is the same sort of row cover we’ll use later in the season to grow salad greens into the cooler months.

Sprays and traps

There are many organic sprays and traps on the market to use when other defenses fail.  The best ones are targeted for particular insects since we wouldn’t want to hurt our pollinators and beneficial insects in pursuit of the more destructive bugs.

Try again

Beautiful, bean eating pheasants

Early in the season some pheasants managed to eat all of the Edamame beans planted at Farnsworth.  Since it was still early a second round was started at Buffalo Street Farm.  So far the results have been better, but nothing is sure until harvest day.

Holes don’t taste bad

At the end of the day, sometimes organically grown cabbage will have a bit of a  Swiss cheese effect, or we end up getting a reduced yield do to some squash vine borer damage.  We still wouldn’t trade our lady bugs and wildflowers for chemical sprays that would make off with the butterflies and lightening bugs as well as our pests.

 

Eggplant Curry

2 medium eggplants
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger (or ginger powder)
1 tablespoon curry powder (cumin, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg)
1-5 tomatoes, diced (depending on how much you love tomatoes)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 fresh hot pepper, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 bunch cilantro, finely chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
Place eggplant on a medium baking sheet. Bake 20 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until tender.  Remove from heat, cool, peel, and chop.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Mix in cumin seeds and onion. Cook and stir until onion is tender.

Mix ginger, garlic, curry powder, and tomato into the saucepan, and cook about 1 minute. Stir in yogurt.  Mix in eggplant and hot pepper, and season with salt. Cover, and cook 10 minutes over high heat.  Remove cover, reduce heat to low, and continue cooking about 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro to serve.

Ratatouille

I was going to put a recipe for Ratatouille on the blog, but Ratatouille is more flexible than a recipe. So here is an outline for what I consider the ultimate in summer eating.


What you are aiming for: A vegetable stew of sorts united by tomato and basil but with other summer fruits such as eggplant and summer squash.


Basic Ingredients: Tomatoes, eggplant, summer squash, sweet pepper, onion, garlic, fresh basil.


Cooking strategy: You will want to cook the onion and garlic first (onion for longer) to flavor the olive oil. Then add tomatoes and once they start to release their juice add the eggplant and summer squash in order to let them cook in that tomato juice. Basil can be added very last.

Oregano (Singing Tree)

Other good flavors to consider adding: Oregano, thyme, rosemary, pepper, salt.


Serve with: Good crusty bread, pasta, rice, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese or whatever else you please.

Week 4: August 3

Well it looks like the heat is back with us, but this August heat means that tomato season is upon us. Besides tomatoes many of our warmer weather crops such as eggplants and peppers are quickly ripening and in the next few weeks expect to see more of these items. For those of you who opened your box to see a strange, green, alien looking globe of a vegetable and had no idea where to begin to deal with it or for those looking for a little extra inspiration check out this article on kohlrabi: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/09/discovering-kohlrabi-its-a-vegetable/. And now to the main event.

In your share this week:

 Cherry Tomatoes (Buffalo St. Farm)

Arugula (Vinewood Knoll)

 Roma Tomatoes (Singing Tree)

 Hungarian Hot Peppers (Fields of Plenty, Farnsworth)

Green Peppers (Fields of Plenty)

 Kohlrabi (Vinewood Knoll)

Cucumbers (Fields of Plenty, Farnsworth)

Kale (Buffalo St. Farm, Vinewood Knoll)

Basil (Singing Tree, Farnsworth)

 Flower Bouquets (Buffalo St. Farm, Singing Tree)

Kale Chips

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • juice from one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • Optional: 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Wash and dry kale. Using a large bowl add in the kale and drizzle with olive oil and lemon, sprinkle with salt and seasonings. Toss well. Place on baking sheet and put into hot oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Toss 1/2 way through and cook till kale is crunchy. Serve!

Fresh Basil Pesto

Not sure what to do with all the basil you’ve been getting? Use this easy recipe to whip up a quick batch of fresh pesto.

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Serve with pasta with fresh tomatoes, or over baked potatoes, or spread over toasted baguette slices.

Week 3: July 28

The rain made our harvest a little soggier this week, but will easily improve the quality of future harvests.  It has been a hard year for rain and most of the irrigation systems at our farms are very labor intensive.
Singing Tree Garden will be on the Detroit Agriculture Network (DAN) Tour this upcoming week.  If you haven’t checked out any of the farms in the city this is a great opportunity.  We’re also tentatively planning a CSA farm tour sometime later this summer.

 

This week we started with 15 empty boxes:

and then added:

Squash blossoms (Fields of Plenty, Farnsworth) You can find some inspiration at http://www.thekitchn.com/five-ways-to-eat-squash-blosso-87564 or check our recipe for squash blossom quesadillas

 

Kale (Fields of Plenty, Buffalo St)
Mixed greens (Vinewood Knoll, Farnsworth, Fields of Plenty, Buffalo St, Singing Tree)
Use as salad greens or cooked
Basil (Farnsworth, Buffalo St)
About half the shares are getting Italian basil, the rest are getting Thai basil. The Thai basil has a more floral smell.
Cabbage (Buffalo St, Farnsworth)
Tarragon (Singing Tree)
Tomatoes (Buffalo St, Vinewood Knoll)

Chard (Vinewood Knoll)

plus the finishing touch of:

Flowers (Buffalo St, Singing Tree, Fields of Plenty)

 

All packed up and ready to go:

We still have veggies to make more boxes!  If you know anyone who would like to join please have them contact us (e-mail Alice at alice.bagley@gmail.com or call 734-788-2109) and we can pro-rate a share for the boxes they missed.