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The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it, we have no community, because without proper care for it we have no life.

-Wendell Berry

6-30-15

Wobbly Cart Farm CSA box #3

Large Shares: broccoli, fennel, lettuce, scallions, kohlrabi, sugar snap peas, radishes, garlic, zucchini, French lavender

Small Shares: broccoli, fennel, lettuce, radishes, shell peas, garlic

 

Dear CSA members,

A quick walk around the farm recently, got me thinking about a few things this week. One, the summer crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and summer squash are going to come on early this year and be very abundant. Two, I feel great full to live in a river valley with such deep and fertile soil and abundant water. Our soil is primarily loam and clay loam, so it holds nutrients, organic matter, and water exceptionally well. We certainly farm in a manner that is respectful to our soil by not tilling and plowing when the soil is too wet or too dry, cover cropping with rye, vetch and clover in winter and buckwheat in summer where ever there is barren ground, and then incorporating those cover crops back into the soil to add nutrients and organic matter that we may remove by growing crops.

However, we also feel that by continuously cropping the 10 acres that we have access to we are likely doing our soil a disservice. We do rotate the crops that we grow so that no crop is ever repeated on the same ground within 3 to 4 years’ time, but as we know from experience all ground needs fallow time to recover from our invasive methods of tilling, fertilizing, planting and harvesting. Ideally, within the next couple of years we would hope to be leasing another 10 acres or so, to ensure our sustainability as a diverse organic vegetable operation. And also to give proper respect to our soil!

The health of our soil is certainly reflected in the vitality of our crops this week! We have gorgeous heads of broccoli, crispy fresh lettuce, the last of the radishes for the summer, and the first of the garlic bulbs! New this week we have bulb fennel. Fennel is in the carrot family and is closely related to carrots, parsley, and dill. The crunchy white bulb, as well as the stalks and fronds are edible and are often found in Mediterranean cuisine. I have served fennel in salads, braised, roasted, and au gratin just to name a few ways! The flavor is reminiscent of anise or licorice, but mellows with cooking.

This week the large shares will receive a small bunch of French lavender. Next week there is going to be a lot more for both large and small shares! You can keep the lavender as a flower arrangement, dry it and use it for teas and sachets, or cook with it. I have used lavender to make cookies, ice cream, and even for a honey lavender glaze for roast chicken. You can toss the stalks on the grill to add flavor and aroma to grilled meats. Lavender is a known medicinal herb with soothing and relaxing properties as well. I love this variety for its long full flower spikes and heady fragrance. Enjoy!

Have a great week,

Asha, Joe and the crew at Wobbly Cart

 

Caramelized Fennel: Wash and trim a large bulb of fennel, removing the root and stems. Slice diagonally as you would an onion into thin slices. Discard any tough core if present. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add fennel and ¼ cup chopped onion. Reduce heat to medium low and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes until fennel softens. Add 1 tsp sugar and ½ tsp kosher salt and continue to cook until fennel is caramelized and tender about 7 to 10 more minutes.

Honey Lavender Butter: This butter is so great on scones, toast, muffins, or coffeecakes.  1 stick softened butter, 4 tsp. dried lavender (pulsed or chopped), 4 tsp. honey. Mix together and enjoy!

Lavender Herb Butter This herb butter is good for toasted cheese sandwiches, veggies, boiled potatoes, or noodles.1 stick softened butter,1 tsp. Chopped chives, 2 tsp. dried lavender. (I pulse a batch ahead in my coffee grinder), 1tsp. chopped parsley. Mix together.

Lavender Coffee Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Make the topping: 1 cup chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 3 tsp. cinnamon. Mix together and set aside. Make the batter: 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tbs. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt, mix and set aside. Cream ¾ cup butter,  add in 1 cup sugar, 2 tsp dried lavender buds (pulse this in blender with ½ cup of the above sugar), ½ cup brown sugar, 3 eggs, 1 ½ cups buttermilk or sour cream or thin yogurt, and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Put in pan. (See below) Put half of the batter into your pan, top with 1/2 of the topping. Swirl it in gently with a fork so it is just lightly blended. Repeat.

Pan sizes and baking times.
One 10-inch tube pan or Bundt pan 50 to 60 minutes.
One 9-inch spring form pan for 60 to 70 minutes.
Two 4 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch loaf pans for 40 to 50 minutes.
Two 8-inch round or square cake pans for 30 to 35 minutes.

Bake until done. The top will spring back when pressed gently in middle or use toothpick or knife in center of cake, if it comes out clean, remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes before you remove it from your pan.

Garlicy Roasted Broccoli: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a blender puree 6 large cloves garlic with ½ cup olive oil and ¼ tsp soy sauce. Chop one large head of broccoli into florets, peel and chop the stems too. Place the broccoli in a large bowl and drizzle with 3 tbsp. of the garlic oil. Toss until the florets are well coated. Spread the broccoli on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with red pepper flakes and salt to taste. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is fork tender and quite

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