Wednesday, June 18, 2014

CSA Farm Share Week 4

Hello Everyone,

This week you will find in your shares:

Sat. June 20
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Fennel
  • Cilantro
  • Bunching Onions
Tue. June 24
  • Head Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Fennel
  • Cilantro
  • Bunching Onions

Down by a little path I fond
 Of mintes full and fennell greene,
 - Chaucer

Fennel has a history measurable in millennia, but does not occupy a prominent place in the hierarchy of foods unfortunately.  In Italy it is considered a vegetable, with emphasis on the bulbs.  But in France it is viewed as an herb.  But actually all parts of Fennel are edible, including stems, flowers and seeds.  The flavor is that of "anise."  Which can also be described as licorice.  The two plants are different, although they belong to the same family (Apiaceae, the carrot/parsley/celery/cilantro family!).

The French put fresh leaves in salads.  The use of fennel as a fish flavorer had found favor in England at least by Elizabethan times, Shakespeare talked of it.

Fennel is found in the Ethiopian seasoning, berbere sauce.  In Greek mythology, Prometheus used the stalk of a fennel plant to steal fire from the demigods.

A manuscript, which dates to around 800 and is in Paris’ Bibliothèque Nationale, contains the following medicinal recipe: Mix the gall of a vulture “with sugar of fennel & horehound & with oil of balsam & Attic honey.” Apply the mixture to hurting eyes each morning “to drive away pain.”

Recipe Ideas
The leafy fronds are best used raw, they don't hold up well to cooking, so think salads, slaws, pesto, or juice them! The layered bulb part is good raw too, but it's also great cooked, here is a very simple recipe for caramelizing fennel.

And here is one combing both the fennel and cilantro in your share. 

Fennel Frond Pesto

Around the Farm

Buckwheat seed, sown today on the below .28 acre plot.  It was previously fallow since last spring, and sweet yellow clover has been mowed and disced.  This area will be planted to fall crops this year. Buckwheat grows very fast and will be mowed and incorporated into the soil by the end of July.  It is succulent and does not generate a large amount of organic matter, which for our purposes is just fine.

Buckwheat is great because it will "hold" this area till we are ready to plant later this summer, by coming up quickly it shades out annual weeds and some perennials.  Also helps extract phosphorus and attracts honeybees and other beneficial insects.

In the above picture, on the left there is has hulless oats for human and animal consumption.  They are currently in the milk stage.  On the right is an area that had oats, barley and winter peas that I mowed last week.  There are also three different kinds of clovers that will start flourishing now, and then next year come back and flower (biennial).  This area will be fallow for a year.

Gil doing some tractor work.

Below we have parsnips flowering, these were planted last year in a really weedy area and forgotten about, so we didn't harvest any parsnips because of this.  But evidently there were some survivors out there.  Notice the umbrella like flower head.  Parsnips are also in the Apiaceae family, also know as the Umbelliferae family, because the flower heads are somewhat umbrella like.

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