Week No. 5 – 2013 Season

What sort of story will you make of your CSA farm at Scotch Hill?

A farm is, hopefully, in its epitaph, abstract, or Wikipedia entry, a love story. It can’t help, of course, in this country, economy and culture, keep from being, at least sometimes, a tragedy, as well. Yet romance or drama, a farm is also a history, a documentary, and, you’ll be happy to know, at Scotch Hill Farm, it is as often as possible a comedy. Our goats, sheep, pigs, chickens say and do funny things all the time. The plants sometimes yield up funny aberrations. And the pets, of course, the pets! Dogs and cats alike, provide many amusing poses, odd habits, feats and contributions to our laughter, conversation and memories of this place. Border collie Spot, may he rest in peace, with sheep herded into a corner of the pasture, watching our farmhouse for signals no human in our midst knows how to give to move the sheep somewhere we do not see, for some purpose we do not understand. Roxanne forever putting things she’s fetched over and over into the middle of the vegetable trays that “distract” us from play. Cats perching on our heads as we kneel over vegetable beds we’re weeding or harvesting. Dela and I like to make each other laugh, too. Sometimes we’ve made each other laugh so hard that we cried, especially when we deliberately or accidentally twist our words into funny, completely unexpected results. For instance, there was the time I dramatically said to her that she was giving me a cataract arrest. Dela laughed and laughed till tears flowed and stomach ached. What you do not realize is the profound extent to which you, dear subscriber, make this farm – and absolutely every farm that has grown food you’ve eaten – the story that it tells. You are writing the story with every purchase, every meal, every bite. You can make it a fascinating series of installments that just keep getting better and better, or a dusty, forgotten volume. Will Tony be able to clear all the thistles out of the vegetable crop beds before those nasty weeds flower? Will Dela manage to keep balancing harvest of 8 to 10 different vegetables enough for 180 households weekly for the next 15 weeks? Will we celebrate another 25 years of marriage in 2038? Will we still be carrying 50 lb. feed sacks and 40 lb. trays of vegetables when we turn 85 in succession that year and the next? All of farmland, the countryside, food, is a stage. All men, women and children consumers, merely players. We have our exits and our entrances. And both eater and grower plays many parts in a lifetime of great or not-so-great food experiences. The more involved you get with this food story, I assure you, the more you’ll get out of it. And everything you do in relationship to this farm determines whether it will have a happy ending.

This Week’s Vegetables include:

  • Leaf lettuce mix
  • Snow peas
  • Radish tops FOR MADISON, kale/greens FOR ON-FARM, KUHN and JANESVILLE, Green Beans for MILWAUKEE)
  • Chard
  • Cucumber
  • Herbs – basil, oregano
  • Onions (bunch)
  • Radishes
  • Garden Extra (everyone gets something different – broccoli, OR turnips,  OR beans

Cooking Tip for the Week – 

We tasted this recipe at Scotch Hill Farm this past Saturday, thanks to 2nd-year subscriber Megan of Madison, who’s been volunteering a lot at the farm with boyfriend Blake.

Radish Top Soup, from Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy (page 164) For 6 or more 

“Although they may have a coarse appearance and a rough texture, radish greens turn this potato-based soup a delicate green and the flavor is equally soft. If you want the leaves to have a more turnipy flavor, sauté them with garlic in olive oil then add them with the soup to the blender. Look for large, lively radish tops, whether in your garden or at the farmer's market."  

Sort through radish tops, tearing off and discarding the thick stems that don't have much leafy material and discarding any leaves that are less than vibrant for 4 to 8 cups radish tops (4 to 8 ounces). Melt one-tablespoon butter or olive oil in a wide soup pot over medium heat. Add one onion thinly sliced; lay 1 large russet potato (about 1 pound) scrubbed, quartered, and thinly sliced over them, and cook them for several minutes without disturbing them while the pan warms up. Then give the onion and potato slices a stir, cover the pan, and cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes, giving the vegetables an occasional shove around the pan. Add 2 teaspoons of sea salt and 4 cups of water or chicken stock and bring to a boil, scraping the pan bottom to dislodge any glaze from onions. Lower heat to simmer, cover, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add radish greens to pot and cook long enough for them to wilt and go from bright to darker green (just a few minutes). Let soup cool slightly, then puree it, greens and all, leaving it a bit rough if you like texture or making it smooth if you prefer. Return  soup to pot. To finish, add juice of one lemon and season with salt (potatoes can take a lot of salt) and pepper. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and stir a spoonful of yogurt into each bowl. Scatter a few tablespoons of thinly julienned radishes over the top and serve.