Here we are going into week two of Local Choice CSA and things are really starting to take off with the warming weather. Last week was a bit of whirlwind putting all the shares together for the first time, but it sure was exciting to bring together all of our beautiful products from 7 farms!
So many fresh greens and radishes from Hexagon Projects Farm, asparagus and apple butter from Mary Dirty Face Farm, rhubarb from Towering Heights Farm, feta from Bifrost Farms, mint from Essence Homestead, pork chops, lamb stew meat and eggs from Valley Pasture Farm, plus rosemary and a mix of shiitake and oyster mushrooms from Winnowburrow Farm. What a feast!
One of the special features of Local Choice CSA is that shareholders not only get to enjoy products from our cooperative’s member farms, but they also have the option of ordering special add-ons from a number of contracted producers. One of those producers is B’s Bees Apiary, located in the rolling hills of Lafayette Township, near Chippewa falls. Here’s what Laura Knitter has to say about her farm:
“B’s Bees is truly a ‘mom & pop’ operation.
We started beekeeping as a hobby about 11 years ago & now keep 50-100 hives. We have had upwards of 200 hives in past years.
We are focused on keeping our bees healthy & producing premium honey as well as beeswax candles & reusable wax food wraps.
Prior to this year we have done a lot of crop pollination w/many of our hives, but due to the declining health of honeybees throughout the country, we have opted out of the pollination business. It is too hard on the bees due to moving them as well as exposing them to the various chemicals that growers apply to their crops. We do all of the work ourselves from the fieldwork & hive management, extracting & bottling the honey & selling it directly to our customers.”
B’s Bees is currently vending at four farmers markets. If you aren’t a Local Choice shareholder this year, you can find their market schedule, below:
Menomonie on Wednesday’s & Saturday’s.
Festival Foods in Eau Claire on Sunday’s.
Down to Earth Garden Center in Eau Claire the 1st Sunday of each month.
Altoona @ River Prairie Park on Monday evenings.
For more info, you can check out B’s Bees Apiary Facebook page here.
Week TWO share contents include:
Two small heads of lettuce
Smoked black pepper chevre
Beef sandwich slices
Gyro lamb brats
- Radish and turnip leaves are wonderful cooked greens! With an ever so slightly peppery/spicy flavor, radish and turnip greens are great cooked on their own or along with kale, chard, or spinach. Cook as you would a tender kale.
- To maintain the freshness of bunched roots, cut off the leaves before moving them to your fridge! These are still live plants, and the leaves will naturally draw the roots’ water, resulting in soft, unappetizing radishes, turnips, beets, or carrots. I cut off leaves where they meet the root and place the leaves in a bag with other greens. Roots are then stored loosely in a separate bag.
- Local Choice kale info! Nick and I look forward to supplying the Local Choice shares with several types of delicious kale this season. This week we are including an uncommon type called Bear Necessities that is super frilly and an excellent choice for raw eating, especially as kale salad or as an addition to lettuce-based salad. This variety is not nearly as tasty when cooked compared to traditional kales.
This week’s meal plans are brought to you by Nick Rigger of Hexagon Projects Farm
Grilled burgers with sautéed turnip greens and black pepper chevre. Served alongside spring mix with shaved turnips.
- The first thing you’ll need to do is cut the greens from the turnips. Reserve the turnips, as you’ll be using those for our salad.
- Now that the greens have been removed, coarsely chop them and add to a pan and sauté gently for a few minutes (5-6 minutes). While they’re cooking add a little white wine vinegar (or rice vinegar will do, too) and a generous sprinkle of salt. Remove from heat and let the greens rest while you prepare the burger.
- For the hamburger, form four equal sized patties. Once formed, generously sprinkle salt and freshly ground black pepper on each side.
- Place patties on preheated grill and cover for 2-3 minutes or until the edges are slightly browned. Flip patties and place a dollop of goat cheese on each and let cook for another minute or two, remove.
- Assemble your burgers by placing them on a bun (if desired) and then the sautéed turnip greens atop the goat cheese.
- Your spring mix has already been triple washed (rinse again, if desired) so you can go ahead and place a handful on a plate.
- Take the turnips, cut in half and then thinly slice them. Sprinkle the slices on your salad. Top with your favorite dressing (and any additional toppings, thinly sliced beets, for example). Place your burger alongside your salad and ENJOY!
Beet and Turnip quick pickle
Spinach and Kale salad (with optional goat cheese)
- Quarter the beets and turnips (without the greens) and place in a small bowl.
- In a small saucepan toast about 1 TBSP of fennel seeds, shaking often and until fragrant, about 45 seconds to a minute. Remove from heat.
- Add ¾ cup vinegar, 1 TBSP (or 2TBSP if you want the pickles a little saltier) salt, 1 TBSP sugar, and ½ cup water and bring to a boil, stirring until salt and sugar are dissolved.
- Pour brine over beets and turnips and let cool. Cover and chill overnight or at least 8 hours before serving.
Spinach and Kale Salad
- Tear the kale leaves into bite sized pieces and place in a bowl. Repeat with the spinach leaves, if smaller pieces are desired. If not, then toss the spinach with the kale until well mixed.
- Place the kale and spinach mixture on a plate and add any toppings of your choosing (goat cheese, turnips, etc.) and dressing.
- Add the quick pickle to the plate enjoy alongside as a salty, crunchy accompaniment to your salad.
Weekly Nutritional Tips by Johnne Smalley of Towering Heights Farm
People have enjoyed Asparagus since ancient times. The Greeks and Romans were among the first to cultivate it several hundred years BC. Nutritionally, it is among the top 25% of the vegetables sold in the grocery store each spring.
Asparagus has a very high respiration rate, so it can lose much of its flavor and nutritional value within just a few days. Reap the benefits of the fresh picked asparagus in your share by eating it right away. After three days of storage, it becomes twice as acidic and starts getting tougher and longer stalks. Although tasty when eaten raw or added to a salad, research has shown that cooked asparagus is actually better for you than raw asparagus. If you steam asparagus (the recommended method), you increase its antioxidant value by about 30%. Steam the asparagus four to five minutes. You can tell it is done when the spears bend slightly when held in the middle.
The beef in your Share is better than organic. The animals are pasture-raised (grassfed). You’re avoiding all the synthetic hormones, antibiotics, pesticide residues, and questionable additives found in conventionally raised animals—just as in organically raised animals. In addition, though, you are gaining these nutritional advantages:
- Less fat
- Fewer calories
- More omega-3 fatty acids (an essential fatty acid that lowers the risk of mental disorders, cardiovascular disease, and cancer)
- More conjugated linoleic acid or CLA (blocks tumor growth and breaks down fat in cells to be used as fuel by nearby muscle cells)
- More beta-carotene (a vitamin linked with a lower risk of cancer & cardiovascular disease)
- A lower risk of E. coli
It’s the grass and pasture plants that add these benefits. Besides the health benefits to you, the animals, and the planet, there is the also the added benefit of taste. Animals that have been raised in conditions and environments that reflect their natural habitat instead of in artificial environments with unnatural diets taste better. That said, the cooking methods used for pasture-raised meats differ from those used for mass-produced meat.
You’ll find that using more moisture and gentler cooking methods are two keys to ensure getting the best flavors. Mass-produced (feedlot) cattle have more unhealthy fat and require harsher cooking methods to reduce the fat. Simmering hamburgers from grassfed beef in a small amount of water instead of frying demonstrates just how little fat and how much flavor is in grassfed beef. The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook by Shannon Hayes also has many recipes and explanations of how to get the best flavors from your meat.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check back next Monday for more Local Choice news, recipes and nutritional information!