This Week's Box:
The salad mix this week will be deconstructed into the various leaves of arugula, red and green mizuna, tat soi, Australian green lettuce, bronze beauty lettuce, Russian red kale, and dandelion greens. Look for Grandpa's Admirer lettuce too, garlic, Kamo Kamo squash, collard greens, two types of chard, eggs, onions, herbs: rosemary, sage, thyme. In a glass ball jar you have a mint and nettle tea to be steeped and stirred with honey.
*A side note on bio-degradables: The eco ties & the green jute twine are both biodegradable. We are looking for alternatives to the plastic bag which ultimately keeps the greens and vegetables fresh. This is an ongoing challenge for many sustainably-oriented farmers. But we are sure to find that alternative so our greens arrive always alive and fresh.
For the premium box add Bloomfield thyme oat cakes made from organic oats, stone ground wheat flour, pecans, sugar, salt and fresh thyme. They are a cross between savory and sweet and more of a biscuit meant to be served with tea of the fresh goat cheese made by Gypsy Cheese Company in Valley Ford. The oat cakes are delicious served with the cheese, a bit of the olive oil and leaf of arugula leaf on top. enjoy!
This week there is a cleansing herbal tea made from wild nettles that grow in the fields among the row crops and some cultivated mint leaves from our kitchen garden. I've also written up a recipe for an easy squash soufflé below.
But first some notes on Stinging Nettles (Urtica diocia) and how to handle them...
Everyone always asks me what the story is on nettles. The most important thing is that when they are fresh, they can sting you. They should be handled with gloves or some sort of protection as buffer between you and the plant. The tiny hairs on the leaves and stems act like hypodermic needles, injecting histamines of formic acid into the skin that cause you to itch or give a you a minor rash (some healers use this as a medicinal use). But, when dried or cooked they are neutral and when eaten, they are both delicious and healing. Next month, we will provide fresh nettles for you to try.
Nettles have a long history of medicinal and culinary uses. They are rich in antioxidants and contain chlorophyll, beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, and E, calcium, potassium, phosphates, and various other minerals. They are rich in iron vital to circulation and helpful in controlling high blood pressure. The tea is particularly useful in combating seasonal allergies, or improves symptoms associated with allergies. It’s also used during cleanses for the urinary tract and is a fortifying tonic for the blood. These properties, combined with stress relieving properties of mint makes for a nice herbal blend. The menthol that is naturally present in the mint is a muscle relaxant and helps promote sleep.
Mint and Nettle tea:
Prepare a tea by steeping 2 tablespoons of dried leaves in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes, and strain. Add honey for a sweet kick.
To make a Kamo Kamo squash soufflé
6 tbsp butter, divided
3 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
2 cups of mashed squash ( use just one squash)
pinch of cayenne
2 thyme sprig, leaves only4 egg
4 oz. goat cheese or parmesan (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 and butter a 1-quart souffle dish with 1 tbsp butter.
Cut the kamo kamo in half scoop out the seeds and put on a greased cookie sheet skin side up and bake until soft when pierced with a fork. When it’s ready, scoop out the interior and mash. Put 2 cups aside (the leftover can be used as a side dish for another day: saute with olive oil, garlic and rosemary and salt)
Melt 5 tbsp butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Little by little, whisking thoroughly between additions, stir in milk. Season the bechamel with salt, pepper, cayenne and thyme. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Separate the eggs, stirring the yolks into the white sauce. Add the cheese to the sauce if you use, it’s optional. Taste for salt. It should taste slightly too salty to make up for the unsalted egg whites, which will be added later. Add the squash and mix. Taste again for salt.
Whip the egg whites into moist firm peaks. Stir 1/3 of the whites into the souffle base. Then gently fold the base into the rest of the egg whites, taking care not to deflate them. Pour the mixture into the buttered dish and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until puffed and golden, but still soft in the center and jiggly when shaken gently. (Halve the bake time if baking in two smaller dishes.) Serve with a lightly dressed Bloomfield salad and you have a rich meal.