This week’s CSA boxes are filled with fantastic, spring goodies. Think strawberry cake, or a lovely summer salad beautifully garnished with ripe strawberries and chevre.
I know that many folks tend to turn their nose up at iceberg-type lettuce but don’t judge too quickly. For starters, the Certified Organic crisphead lettuce that you will be getting from Clarion River Organics is fresher, tastier and I’d like to suggest, more nutritious that the iceberg that you come across at the grocery store. If I’m being fair, I should clarify that I don’t have any hard data to prove that last claim but I think you might agree with my wild guess once you see it! It has color to it which is sadly lacking in commercial varieties, it is pleasantly crisp and tastes, well it tastes like lettuce (also in contrast to commercial iceberg which tastes like nothing). Look for preparation suggestions below.
The berries are as lovely as ever this week and we have gotten some from the Hostetler’s Farm for the first time this season. Linda and Joe Hostetler sold their old farm and moved to a new one this winter so they are farming new land for the first season. This presents all sorts of new challenges, none of which were lessened by the endless rain this spring. Better late than never as they say! Our returning members may remember the Hostetler’s incredible green and yellow beans from last summer. We look forward to enjoying them again before too long.
THIS WEEK’S HARVEST
~ 1 quart strawberries, Hostetler’s Farm, CF
~ 4 ounces chevre, River View Dairy
~ red cripshead lettuce, Clarion River Organics, OG
~ Tropicana lettuce head, Blue Goose Farm, CNG
~ green onion bunch, Goose Creek Gardens, CNG
~ collard greens, Kistaco Farm
~ cut lemon thyme, Goose Creek Gardens, CNG
~garlic scapes, Crighton’s Farm, CF
~ 1 cucumber, Kistaco Farm
~ 1 quart strawberries, Sunny Meadow & Weeping Willow Farm, CF
~ 4 ounces chevre, River View Dairy
~ green cripshead lettuce, Clarion River Organics, OG
~ Romaine lettuce head, Clarion River Organics, OG
~ green onion bunch, Nu Way Farm, CF
~ Swiss Chard, Goose Creek Gardens, CNG
~ cut cilantro, Nu Way Farm, CF
~ garlic scapes, Clubhouse Gardens, CF
~ squash blossoms, Clarion River Organics, OG
OG- Certified Organic CNG- Certified Natural Grown CF- Chemical Free -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Remember to check last week’s blog for ideas on how to use squash blossoms!
Heritage Seed Company Kick Starter Project
The Heritage Seed Company is an organization devoted to Community Building, Digital Mapping and Seed Saving Resources. Their mission is to bring back the lost foods of our country and teach interested gardeners the value of fresh. local, and heirloom produce. They are also going to provide support and encouragement for more families to plant gardens and seed save/trade. The Heritage Seed Company is committed to preserving the past with the help of modern technology and social media.
They are using the increasingly popular Kickstarter funding platform to raise funds for their cause. Please visit their page to read more about their mission, goals and accomplishments and consider a donation. Any amount is welcomed.
If, by any chance you are willing to not eat every last one of your berries right when you get them I urge you to try this amazing, crazy-easy strawberry cake recipe. This year’s aromatic strawberries find the perfect opportunity to shine in this cake. I think that I have made 8 of these these cakes in the last two weeks: for teachers, for my husband and for the heck of it! Lightly whip some cream to accompany it and enjoy. Thank you Smitten Kitchen!
A couple of my own notes: 1. I used about 1/2 cup of spelt flour in a few of my cakes and really like it but the ones with all white flour were lovely too. Use whatever you like, and 2. I put slightly less than a cup of sugar in my versions. I’d say somewhere between 1 and 3/4 cup each. It was plenty sweet that way.
Strawberry Summer Cake
I recently picked up some barley flour and fell in love with it. We tend to associate whole grain flours with heartiness and heaviness, but this is neither — it’s silky and delicate, like the best cake flour you’ve ever bought, and it has a subtle creamy, nuttiness to it that goes fantastically with berries. This cake works like a dream with 100% all-purpose flour but if you’ve got barley flour around, swapping it in for half the volume is beyond delicious, adding a real depth to a deceptively simple cake.
I am ever-so-slightly on the fence about the sweetness of this cake. I like it, but I wouldn’t hate the batter itself with 2 tablespoons less sugar (i.e. 7/8 cup sugar instead of a whole one). If that’s your inclination, go ahead and dial it back as well. Leave the sugar on top. It contributes to the berries turning into jam.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pie plate
1 1/2 cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour (can swap 3/4 cup or 94 grams all-purpose flour with 3/4 cup or 75 grams of barley flour, see Note)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (200 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup (118 ml) milk
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 pound (450 grams) strawberries, hulled and halved
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10-inch pie pan or 9-inch deep-dish pie pan (what I used). This cake does not work in a standard 9-inch pie pan; it will overflow. This cake also works, however, in a 9- or 10-inch springform or cake pan. The 10-inch would make a thinner cake than pictured.
Whisk flour or flours, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.
Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer (though I had to overlap a few to get them all in). Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.
Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Gooey strawberries on the tester are a given.) Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into wedges. Serve with lightly whipped cream.
Do ahead: Cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days, loosely covered, but good luck with that.