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Weblog changes

Very soon there will changes in this weblog. Clagett Farm Notes will become one of the blogs of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF). I don't know whether the name will stay the same, but the look of the weblog will be quite different. It will have a slicker and more professional design than the one created by us, amateurs. At this point our main concern is with those of you who keep up with our weblog via feeds or email updates. I hope that everything will go smoothly, but if after the switch you stop receiving our posts, please check the weblog itself for any new information that we may have on the subject.

Cabbages under the rain

Yesterday a hard working group of volunteers from Massachusetts harvested over 1,400 lbs of cabbages. Despite the rain and the mud the Young Neighbors in Action volunteers worked hard weeding, harvesting and twining tomatoes. And today they were back at the farm for more of the same!

Little Green Lessons

It comes the time of year when the verdant veggies are most abundant and we quickly pass from gratitude for the fresh leafy greens to a feeling of: Ho-hum what to do next with those endless bags of antioxidants?

So the following are some creative ways to use them and add a decidedly creative pinch of flavor.

Lavender Mint Green Jasmine Ice Tea

Makes 1 gallon

Design0001A food professional will often use 8 tea bags to make 1 gallon of ice tea. Keep that as your general rule and then add herbs as desired. If you want a bit of intrigue to your iced tea, you can add 2 cups of fresh pureed watermelon juice or even 2 cups of apricot, cranberry or other berry juice.

8 slices fresh ginger root pounded in a mortar and pestle to release juices
8 jasmine green tea bags
6 sprigs fresh lavender
3 sprigs fresh mint (spearmint or peppermint)
8 cups water
honey to taste

In a medium saucepan bring the ginger and water to a boil. Turn off heat, add tea bags and herbs, and cover and let steep for 1 hour. Add honey to taste.

Ice can now be added to equal 1 gallon if using immediately. Or refrigerate and add cold water when serving.

Free Form Swiss Chard Tart
Serves 6
This layered combination of vegetables and ricotta is blanketed with a pie crust dough in a quick wrap to enclose the scrumptious filling. Rustically elegant, it says fresh and homemade without being fussy. As a brunch entree it’s outstanding. For dinner it complements grilled beef, pork or lamb nicely.

1 10-inch pastry dough round
1 1/2 cups cooked sweet potatoes diced and tossed with olive oil
1 sautéed sweet onion
1 cup ricotta cheese mixed with garlic chives, garlic scapes or 1 clove minced garlic
1 cup coarsely chopped olives
2 cups thinly sliced Swiss chard or Pac Choi tossed with olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Bake 375 about 30 minutes or until the dough is golden.

Gorgonzola and Dried Cherry Summer Salad with Edible Flowers
Serves 6

"The mixture of ingredients is a taste explosion." This simple combination of leafy green lettuce, sweet red onion, sliced apple, roasted pecans and dried cherries tossed in a raspberry vinaigrette can serve as a main lunch entrée or on the side in a more extravagant meal. Add the flowers as the “Knock Their Socks Off” garnish!

To talk a bit about Arugula flowers, you actually have to taste them. They impart a delicate version of the arugula leaf which can often be very spicy. (Of course the very spicy is extremely nutritious).

6 cups baby greens and spicy greens
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup roasted pecans
1/4 cup dried cherries
raspberry vinaigrette*
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
Arugula flowers and nasturtium flowers

Toss the lettuce, onion, apple, pecans and cherries in a large salad bowl. Pour on enough dressing to coat and toss the salad. Garnish with gorgonzola cheese before serving. Add the flowers as the “Knock Their Socks Off” garnish!

*You may use a bottled all natural raspberry vinaigrette or make a quick and easy homemade version by whisking together:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
1 clove minced garlic
sea salt, to taste
ground pepper, to taste

Recipes from “Cook For Life Balance” by Rita Calvert

Pulling garlic

Today we harvested about 40 percent of our garlic. We started pulling garlic from the ground about two weeks earlier than last year. From every harvest there is always some garlic that does not make the grade, but this year the proportion may be somewhat higher. The garlic that did pass muster, though, looks quite good. Red Rocambole and Killerney are two of the varieties we pulled out today. For the curious, we only grow hard neck varieties.

It seems that this year there is a higher proportion of small bulbs (blame it on the dry spring). Do not despair: there is plenty of garlic for everyone and you will definitely get a number of good-sized bulbs.

Today's garlic is now curing in the loft of one of our barns. The timing was perfect: a very welcome rainstorm, with enough lightning and thunder to terrify the dogs, hit us just as we were getting ready to leave the field.

As old shareholders know, first we will be giving you fresh garlic and a few weeks later you will start receiving cured garlic.

We didn't have a camera today, but you can see pictures of last year's garlic harvest by clicking here.

Harvesting peas

It's time for sugar snap and snow peas. What you see below are a few sugar snap peas right before harvesting.

If you see fresh peas at a farmers market you will notice that they are not cheap. If you harvest them you will realize why. It is a labor intensive endeavor and it takes a while to accumulate a significant amount of peas.

The scene above is from yesterday, when we were harvesting sugar snaps for the Tuesday share. And below we see Carrie checking out the condition of recently seeded rows right next to the trellised peas.

Rita's Recipes: "Hand Food Farm Picnic"

Clagett Farm CSA Recipes   Spring/Summer 2006

We like to give you recipes that act as the foundation; recipes you can use frequently and build upon. So we might just call for that Walnut Lemon Pesto from week 1. you have it as your Staple Recipe? Also the Garden Salad is another great staple and as produce comes in & out of season, just exchange.

Hand Food Farm Picnic

Thai Cashew Coconut Dip w/ Farm "Dippers"
Asian Cabbage  Wraps
Asian Cole Slaw
Fresh Strawberries with Lavender Lemon Curd

We¹re coordinating an entire Farm Picnic Menu for you this time based on Hand Food  which  is extremely popular & fun! (In our book, it has to be a Good Time).

For dessert use those marvelous sweet strawberries and add some fresh clipped lavender to a purchased lemon curd (or make your own if you feel especially handy).

Thai Cashew Coconut Dip w/ Farm "Dippers"
Makes about 2-1/2  cups dip

In our area Safeway and shoppers Food Warehouse carry this in their Asian section or get it at an Asian grocery.

1 cup Cashew Macadamia Butter (or Cashew Butter, or Sunflower butter) 1 14 oz can Coconut milk (NOT the sweetened kind) 1 clove garlic, minced juice of 1 lime 1/3 to 1/3 cup Thai Chile Sauce fish sauce, soy sauce or salt to taste
garnish: anise hyssop, or Thai basil or regular basil
fresh chopped cilantro

Blend the above i ingredients and adjust seasonings to taste. Place in bowl surrounded by ³Dippers². Garnish with fresh herbs

Dippers: Kohlrabi slices, carrots, snopeas, cucumber slices, bell pepper wedges, pumpernickel pretzel rods, rice crackers

Asian Cabbage  Wraps
Serves 6

1 6-ounce package dried bean thread noodles (saifun)*
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves, finely chopped
18 uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined, coarsely chopped
2 cups fresh sugar snap peas
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup chopped garlic scapes
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (nam pla)*
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon minced seeded Thai chilies or Dragon chile
8 whole leaves Asian cabbage (coarse stem removed)

Place noodles in large bowl. Cover with cold water; let stand until noodles begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Drain. Transfer to large pot of boiling water; cook until just tender and pliable, about 3 minutes. Drain. Rinse with cold water; drain.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and shrimp; stir-fry until cooked, about 4 minutes. Add the sugar snaps & stir fry 1 minute more. Transfer to large bowl. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in same skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add garlic-oil mixture to bowl with chicken and shrimp; cool.

Add noodles, garlic scapes and remaining ingredients to bowl. Toss to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Mound on a platter surround with cabbage leaves for folks to serve themselves. Hold the cabbage leaf in the hand and fill with noodle mixture.

Asian Cole Slaw
Serves 8

1/2 cup green scallions or garlic scallions
1 head of Asian green cabbage
2 large carrots
1/2  cup mayonnaise
1/4  cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons Oriental toasted sesame oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
sesame seeds, toasted

Slice half of the scallions, cabbage and carrot into a very thin julienne (Use a mandolin if available) and place in a salad bowl. Reserve the remaining scallions, which you have also julienned. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, rice wine vinegar, honey, ginger and sesame oil until thoroughly mixed and pour over cabbage mixture. Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds.

Recipes from "Cook For Life Balance" by Rita Calvert

Mulching tomatoes

To mulch our two tomato fields was one of the jobs this week. We primarily relied on our bale chopper. Using the chopper is a two person job. One person feeds straw (grown right here at Clagett Farm) to the chopper and the other holds the hose blowing the chopped straw onto the field. Below you can see Dave manning the hose and Joe feeding the chopper. 


A closer view of Joe feeding the chopper:


And of Dave manning the hose:


Yesterday (Friday) we thought we would be able to finish, but around 4:00 PM high winds and a quick moving thunderstorm made us run for cover before the job was done. While running under the rain, I suddenly found myself hat-less: a gust of wind blew it away. This morning I found my dear hat lying wet and lonely in the potato field. Although today was dry and sunny (the thunderstorm, alas, didn't dump as much water as we had hoped), it was windy: not a good day for the bale chopper. Nevertheless, thanks to the help of several hard working worksharers the tomato fields are now mulched. They finished the job by hand.

Hiring a part-time summer field worker

Our dear Kolya is currently planning for his transition to living in Vermont. The planning is keeping him pretty busy, so we need to fill some of his summer hours with a part-time person--preferably someone whose schedule can remain flexible, to match his unpredictable one. If any of you, current worksharers especially, would like to work on the farm for a few months, drop by sometime this week. We pay $8/hour to first-year staff.

Rita's Recipes: kohlrabi, beets, collards/kale, herbs

Recipes from "Cook For Life Balance" by Rita Calvert

Kohlrabi Carrot & Parmesan Gratin
Roasted Beets X 3 -- Beet greens, Stems and Bulb
Garlicky Braised Collards or Kale with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Herbed Grilled Chicken Paillards

Kohlrabi Carrot & Parmesan Gratin

Serves 4

Wedges of Kohlrabi and tender carrots, baked until meltingly tender, are topped with cheese and fresh multigrain bread crumbs for a truly delicious dish that's great with our Herbed Grilled Chicken Paillards.

3 medium bulbs Kohlrabi, washed and peeled
3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup homemade or low-salt canned chicken stock
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup fresh multigrain bread crumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano

Heat the oven to 400°F.

Peel each Kohlrabi bulb and cut in half. Cut the halves into 2 or 3 wedges each. Snuggle the wedges, cut side up, in a baking dish (8x8 inches or the equivalent works well). Pour the stock into the dish. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 min.

Mix together the garlic, olive oil, bread crumbs and cheese.

Uncover and sprinkle the dish with the bread crumb mixture. Continue baking uncovered until the vegetables are tender and the cheese is browned, another 10 minutes.

Roasted Beets X 3
Beet Greens, Stems and Bulb

Serves 2
If you wondering what the X 3 is about, this means that you are separating the 3 parts, root, stem and leaves ands cooking each to optimal flavor. Roasting beets brings out the abundant sweetness. Tender young beets may not even need peeling, but can be scrubbed to remove any rough coating.
3 small to medium beets, scrubbed very well, cut into 1 inch wedges
stems trimmed and sliced
leaves coarsely chopped
natural olive oil spray
Yogurt cheese
fresh green chopped herbs
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Place the beets on a piece of foil spray with olive oil cooking spray, add   salt and pepper and close the foil. Place this on a baking sheet. Bake    for 10 minutes.
Unwrap add stems, spray and season and bake another 5 minutes. Add leaves repeat process and bake 7-8 minutes more.
Serve topped with yogurt cheese and herbs.
Garlicky Braised Kale with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Serves 2
Braising softens kale, which will be a little tough and leathery if undercooked. Unfortunately, kale also loses its bright green color when properly cooked. As a variation, try using the pretty new variety of kale called cavolo nero, or Tuscan kale, in this recipe. Or use young turnip greens. You can also vary this recipe by sautéing onions or bacon with the garlic, or by adding red pepper flakes.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, cut in half, smashed, and peeled
2 Tbs. finely chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, well drained
7 oz. stemmed kale leaves (from about 1/2 large bunch kale), washed and cut into 1-inch ribbons
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup low-salt chicken stock (canned is ok)
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 ounce crumbled goat cheese (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or a 3- to 4-qt. soup pot over medium heat.   Add the garlic and sauté, stirring, until starting to brown, 2 to 3 min. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and stir to combine. Add the kale, tossing to coat it   well with the oil. Season with the salt and a few grinds of pepper, and continue stirring until all the kale is wilted. Add the stock, bring to a boil, reduce   to a simmer, cover and cook until the kale has softened, about 8 min. Uncover, turn the heat to high, and boil away the remaining liquid, stirring frequently, until the pan is almost dry. Take the pan off the heat. Season with the vinegar and stir to combine. Transfer to a small serving dish or plates. Top with the crumbled goat cheese, if you like.
Herbed Grilled Chicken Paillards

Serves 4
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each), trimmed and rinsed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crushed Dragon chilies (1-2)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, flat leaf parsley and other fresh herbs
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus 4 lemon wedges for serving
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil; more for drizzling
Lightly wet a chicken breast with cold water and set it between two sheets of plastic wrap. Pound it into a broad, flat sheet about 1/4-inch thick (called a paillard), using a meat pounder, the side of a heavy cleaver, or a skillet. Pound the other breasts into paillards the same way and arrange them on a baking sheet.
Generously season each paillard on both sides with salt and pepper and a pinch or two of chile flakes. Sprinkle both sides with the garlic and rosemary. Drizzle both sides with the lemon juice and olive oil and pat into the meat with your fingertips. Refrigerate the paillards for 20 minutes while you prepare the grill.
Heat a gas grill to high or prepare a hot charcoal fire. Brush and oil the grill grate.
Arrange the paillards on the grill grate and grill until cooked and firm to the touch, 1 to 2 minutes per side. (Use a long, wide spatula to move and turn the paillards.) Transfer the paillards to a platter or plates. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately with lemon wedges for squeezing.    

Movie screening and panel discussion about an Illinois CSA farmer

The Real Dirt on Farmer John will be screened on June 6th, 6:30-8:30pm at Charles Sumner School (1201 17th St, NW). Afterward, Susan and Carrie will be members of a panel inviting questions from the audience. Come join us, it's free!

"Independent Lens" is a PBS series; the film will air nationally on June 13.

NOTE: To read what Kolya wrote about this film a year ago, click here.