Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Locavores CSA April 29, 2013

What's in the Box
Next year's onions

Turnips Joseph's Purple Top, Radishes, Asian Greens - Komatsuna, Toyko Bekana & Vivid Choy, Spinach - Nero & Matador, Fresh Garlic, Blue de Solaise Leeks, Herbs - Rosemary & Oregano, Corn meal, Fennel - Montebianco, a few artichokes, and this weeks special gift:  Jam

This is a very short post, as the heat is excessive and I need to keep watering.

On the farm:
The hay was cut, the polenta corn was planted, in the sprout house and waiting to go in:  cukes, zukes, squash, celeriac & fennel.  The heat looks like it's going to put an end to many Spring crops, and we can only hope for a bounteous Summer harvest.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mer Folk CSA April 24, 2013

Corn thinking about 4th of July

What's in the box?

There were a few artichokes and a few eggs, not everyone got these.  Also, lettuce, braising greens, radishes, rhubarb, carrots,  Nero Spinach, some kale chips, mint and parsley,  Oranges, If you got a box, you also receive Komatsu,  and this week's special gift:  Soap! Also if you have a box, roses. 

These are beautiful purple French Artichokes.  The do have many thorns.  The best way to attack them is to hold them by the base and trim off the thorns.  I'm thinking of planting another row, I like these so much.

Originally developed in Edo (Tokyo's former name), komatsuna was formally named when a visiting shogun, Tokugawa Yoshimune  stopped for a meal at a temple. Loving this new vegetable nearly as much as I do, he asked its name. The story goes that the monk answered that it had no name; it was just a green they grew and ate regularly. Like any shogun worth his salt, Yoshimune immediately righted the situation. Taking the name of the nearby river, Komatsu.   We use Komatsu like spinach, braising it in olive oil and sprinkling it with Sushi Vinegar, adding it to Miso Soup, slathering it with dressing and putting it in a muffletta sandwich.  These greens won't be with us long, so enjoy their spring freshness.

Ours is a mix of Champagne & Greenville Rhubarb, waiting in the wings is Turkish Rhubarb.  It takes 3 years to get Rhubarb from seed.  This is the first patch on the farm to finally really get going.  Leo and I maintain another patch in Greenville.  So hopefully, you'll get rhubarb at least one more time.  I'm hoping to have enough to make a pie with. 

Rhubarb at the back of the newly planted Basil
Oatmeal-Rhubarb Bars

    1 cup All-purpose flour
    3/4 cup Oatmeal -- uncooked
    1 cup Brown sugar -- packed
    1/2 cup Butter, unsalted -- melted

    1 cup Sugar
    2 teaspoons Cornstarch
    1 cup Water
    1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
    4 cups Rhubarb

    Mix flour, oatmeal, brown sugar and butter until crumbly. Press 1/2 into greased 9" pan. Add rhubarb, cut in 1/2" pieces. Combine sugar, cornstarch, water and vanilla; cook till thick and clear. Pour sauce over rhubarb. Top with other half crumb mixture. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.

What do seedlings whisper in the night?  We want beds!
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

    1 1/2 pt Fresh strawberries; halved
    2 c Sliced fresh rhubarb (2 to 3 medium stalks)
    1 1/2 c Sugar
    6 T Quick-cooking tapioca
    Unbaked pastry for double-crust 9-inch pie
    Milk as needed
    Sugar as needed
    Flour as needed

   Mix strawberries and rhubarb with 1 1/2 cups sugar and the tapioca; let stand while making pastry. Divide pastry in half. On lightly floured surface roll out one portion 1 1/2 inches larger than inverted 9-inch pie plate. Fit into plate and trim crust even with edge. Fill with fruit mixture. Roll out remaining pastry; lift onto pie. Trim crust 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate.

    Fold top crust under bottom crust; seal together to make a standing rim and flute edge. Cut vents in top crust. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in 400 F. oven 60 to 70 minutes, or until filling bubbles in the center. After 30 minutes of baking, check pie occasionally and cover edges with foil, if necessary, to prevent browning. If pie begins to boil over, place foil beneath pie plate. Cool thoroughly before cutting. Makes one 9-inch pie.  Too bad our berries are not ripe.  I guess I might have to go out and BUY some!
Takes a lot of sittin' gettin' chicks to hatch

French Breakfast Radishes
Chop all the radishes you received
Chop a few sprigs of mint leaves and a few sprigs of parsley leaves
Mix with a cube of softened good butter
Spread it on Good French Bread and grate some sea salt on top

This simple recipe is great with a side of soup, a cup of tea or a glass of milk.  Turnips can be eaten this same way.  If you haven't found a way to like cooked turnips, peel them and eat them raw!

Ed Brown, Zen chef and seer, who in his book, Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings, wrote,“Delight moves through radishes and people alike,” he writes, “letting things speak, perhaps even sing for themselves.”

On the Farm
George Large and in Charge

We're still a few weeks away from peas.  The plants are so confused, we had frost and frost damage followed by a mini heat wave.  The potatoes look gruesome and thankfully I had not set out the peppers or eggplant yet.  They're in now.  Soon to be planted, zukes, cukes, more corn more beans, come on in the water's fine.  My fine friend from Alabama, Dar Jones, sent us 3 new green beans:  Striped Creasy Cutshort, Emerite, and Turkey Craw.  Dar is the only one I know who could send me a traditional Southern cornfield bean and a fine French Filet (Emerite), in the same package.  I will be planting green beans every few weeks to see us through most of the summer.

Crazy hens are all trying to sit on eggs.  Every night Leo goes out and breaks it up.  Four hens all trying to sit on top of each other to claim the eggs.  Meanwhile Leo has been casting aspirations on George the Rooster, who's the father of his country...Eggoland.   Leo maintains that at 4 years old, George may not have the agility to "take care of all the hens".  There's no viagra for roosters or retirement homes.  Leo is going to let me move George to a smaller flock and we'll put his son, Stewart (Stewie) in with the main flock.  Alas for Washington, that means his number is up.  George is the best rooster I have ever had.  I sure hope Stewie inherited his "talents".

Have a great week.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Locavores CSA April 15, 2013

What's in the box?

There were a few asparagus, and a few artichokes and a few eggs, so if you got one of these, you didn't get the other.  Also, lettuce, Swiss Chard, wildings, rhubarb, Turnips (last of), carrots, spring onions, Spinach, kale chips, mint,  last of the Blood Oranges, last of last year's garlic, and this week's special gift:  Soap! Also if you have a box, roses.


Well it's time for spring cleaning.  You all scrub up so nicely!  My friend Tina raises goats in Alaska, and I promised her I'd send some of her luffa goat soap to my CSA.  I love her soap and have it stashed in drawers all over the house.  I particularly like this soap when I come out of the garden.  I get really really dirty and this helps me clean up.


In the wildings
In days gone by, we used to have these women who would come out the farm each Spring and gather all the mache and lambs quarters and amaranth that came up.   So this year I gathered up some of these for you along with a little portulaca.  Sprinkle some in a salad,  put them in soup.  Since the plant contains oxalic acid, it should be cooked in a steel pan, not in aluminum.  lambs quarters are loaded with vitamins A, C, K and potassium, calcium and iron.

This is the very first of the early rhubarb.  I'll post some recipes later.  This is champagne rhubarb and another strain from our Greenville house, which we have no idea, but we think some sort of Victoria cross.  This early rhubarb is not as red as folks expect.  But every bit as tasty.  I have never found a recipe for making Rhubarb Champagne, or even Rhubarb Wine.


These are new plants this year.  So, we won't get as many as last year, but next year, they should be really productive.  Right now the Pugliese and the Romanesco are both making thistles.  Hold these firmly at the bottom and hack off the spines, or use a pair of scissors and snip them off before cooking.  Ouch, these hurt to pick!  The French artichokes will be a bit later than these Italian ones.  I'm keeping track of who got these, so I can make sure everyone gets them. Also, I'd like to thank those folks across the pond who went through a lot of trouble to help me get some great artichoke varieties! 

Kale Chips

There's 2 kinds, I don't know which you got.  One is terriyaki, and one is just cider vinegar.  What to do with them...sprinkle them on salad, put them in a soup.  Last year some folks loved these and some folks hated them.  Chose your camp.  One CSA member even asked for the recipe and went to the market, bought kale and made jars of these.  They ate them straight out of the jar.   I'm a soup girl myself.  You can hide anything in soup. 

Have a great week.  As you work through the veges, hang the bags out to dry and return them in your box, next week.  They also can be washed in the washing machine and dried in the dryer.  Also, please return the jars with the rings.  The rings help the jar edges from getting chipped.
See you next Monday.  Have a great week.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April 10, 2013 CSA - Water folk

What's in the box?

First Artichokes of the season
Asparagus, Beets, Turnips, Braising Greens, Radishes, Blood Oranges, Spring Onions, Old Garlic - Use it up!  Corn Flour,  Herbs - I'll do a tutorial on these later under a special post, Lilacs, Dry Beans and this weeks special gift:  Zuke Relish.  Two of you even got artichokes - mind the thorns, after all they are only thistles.

Remember, if you have a bag, you may not have received some of these items. 

This is probably the last week for asparagus, now it must rest till next spring.  Leo and I are going to try and compost it heavily this winter, to see if we can delay it till the CSA actually starts!

Asparagus going to Fern

Asparagus Cream

Makes 1 ½ cups
1 lb asparagus, snapped where they naturally bend (save the stems for asparagus stock)

2 ½ cups chicken stock or vege stock

2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

½ teaspoon lemon juice

Salt to taste
Pour the chicken stock in a low pan and add the asparagus. Poach the asparagus, uncovered, until they are tender, about 5 minutes. Allow to cool in the stock. Drain the asparagus but retain the stock.
Place the asparagus in a food processor with ½ cup of the stock. Add the garlic, lemon juice and salt to taste. Process to a smooth puree. (Add more lemon juice if you like.)
Spoon the cream into a small freezer container and freeze for up to 8 months. To defrost, place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, or place in a bowl of water on the counter. Do not leave at room temperature for more than four hours.  I stole this recipe from one of my favorite chefs,

Braising Greens

Wash!  Use in Soup or Stir Fry. Add a little garlic to oil, add greens chopped in 1 inch pieces, cook 3 minutes.  Remove the mid ribs to get a better cooked green.  Leo and I used to go to sell at a farmer's market, where there was a marvelous vendor with the most interesting produce.  Every time I asked her how something was used, she would say, Stir Fry or Soup!  About 10 years later, Leo and I figured out that her entire diet consisted of Stir Fry and Soup.  The greens of turnips and beets can be used this same way.

Potatoes and Garlic

How about that Wind?

Shesh, It's too windy to plant, till or do anything other than water.  The roof blew off the chicken house.  Last year it flung itself on the barn roof.  This year it only landed in the field.  So until it calms down out there, I will have to content myself with continuing to plant things in trays in the green house.  That way, we'll try not to get behind.  Above, eggplant, peppers, herbs, flowers all waiting their chance for a piece of soil.  On the other side of this sprout house is all the squash you can imagine, after delivering today, I will start melons to trays as well.  Thankfully, not as many as last year.  Now that the trials are over.  If you tried to read the December trial and couldn't I fixed it today.  For some reason after the "Blogger" updates, they all came out backwards!

The rose that ate San Martin  

Once upon a time, a man took his son to the nursery to buy something for the boy's mother for Mother's Day.  The selected a wee miniature stick of a rose, and came home and planted it for her.

20 years went by, and the little bitty thing is eating the barn.  Note how the back of the barn is starting to fold under the weight of her.  Now you know why Leo will not let me plant any more vines.  I suspect in another 20 years, this rose will have swallowed the barn, the house, and probably me as well.    Right now she's in glorious bloom and smells like apples.  Alas the wind is frying flowers left and right.  Poor lilacs! 

Beth stopping to enjoy the morning.
Coming soon....spring garlic, so use that old stuff up. 

Have a great week.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Locavores CSA April 1, 2013

Locavores - you folks that are within a couple of miles of the farm

What's in the box:  
Onions, Tomatoes, Cabbages & Favas

Purple Passion Asparagus, Joan Rutabagas, Hamburg Parsley Rooted Turnips, Braising Greens, Blood Oranges, Last year's Garlic, Chioggia Beets, Corn Meal and; Painted Lady Runner Beans,  Eggs, Herbs and Lilacs.  If you had a bag, some of these things may not have been included.

This weeks Special Gift:  Salsa

Corn Meal

There is exactly 1 cup of corn meal in your box.
This is an ancient flour corn from Italy called Rostrato per Dentato, from the San Daniele del Friuli area.   Basically there are 4 types of corn, Flint, Dent, Sweet and Flour.  Of these Flour is my favorite as I find it the most versatile in the kitchen.  Flour corn is for baking.  Flint corn is for boiling (think grits and polenta).  Sweet corn is for eating raw or making chicas out of.

The only corn we don't grow is Dent, which is for feeding animals.  Our chickens like sweet corn best.

It won't be long before your receive flint corn.  Each year when we grow corn, it takes a lot of work to process.  Flint and Flour corn need to be hung to make sure that they are completely dry.  This process can take 2 to 3 months depending on how quickly we get rain in September/October.

After the corn is dry, we take it off the hull.  We use the cobs and husks to bbq with all winter.  They are stored in old feed sacks until we use them all up.  We also use up all the old hulls from the dry beans the same way.  The ashes are then sprinkled on the farm.

To shell the corn, we take a large tray of corn with the husks removed to a table outside, this is a messy process and corn gets flung every which way.   Each ear has to be inspected.  If there is any mold, it must be removed.  By hand we remove some of the tops and middles for seed for future years.  We put the cobs one at a time in the Ol' CS Bell Sheller and turn the crank.

The corn comes off the cob and then the sheller ejects the cob.  We collect the corn into a large box.  From there I transfer all of the corn to freezer bags and store it till the week we are going to grind it.  On Sunday night, Zack took a sack out of the freezer and took it to the CS Bell Grinder, another hand crank instrument and gives it one pass through the Grinder.   The Grinder is mounted permanently to table in the barn, because it gets uses pretty frequently.  The Bell won't make corn flour and mostly is just used to crack the corn into smaller pieces.

From there, the corn comes into the kitchen and I grind it the night before you get it.  The nutrients get lost quickly, so use it or freeze.  The flavor is best the very first week it is ground.

To use corn flour, simply substitute one cup of regular flour in any "baking" recipe, pancakes and waffles count too.

Cornmeal Cookies Zaletti.

Broccoli for Seed

About 50 cookies

3/4 cup (90g) dried currants, or finely chopped sour cherries or raisins

2 tablespoons (20g) flour

5 1/2 ounces (155g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (120g) sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups (210g) flour

1 cup (140g) corn meal, regular

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

Artichokes coming soon
1. Toss the dried fruit and the 2 tablespoons (20g) of flour together in a small bowl and set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy, about one minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla, beating until incorporated.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the 1 1/2 cups (210g) flour, corn meal, baking powder, and salt.
4. Mix the dry ingredients into the beaten butter mixture until incorporated, than stir in the dried fruit.
5. Form the dough into a rectangle 4- by 7-inches (10 by 18 cm), wrap in plastic, and chill the dough for about an hour, or until it’s firm enough to handle.
6. Divide the dough in two, lengthwise, and roll each piece of dough on a lightly floured surface into a smooth cylinder 7-inches (18cm) long. Wrap the cylinders and freeze until ready to bake.
(If you prefer to bake the cookies right away, pinch of pieces of dough about the size of a small walnut, and roll into balls. Place them evenly spaced on the prepared baking sheet and press them down gently with your hands to flatten them partially.)
7. To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325ºF. (170 ºC)
8. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
9. Slice the cookies into 1/4-inch (.75cm) slices and place them evenly spaced on the prepared baking sheets. (The dough is easier to slice when frozen, but if it’s too firm or crumbles when you cut it, let it sit out on the counter until it reaches a good consistency.)
10. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets midway during baking, until the cookies are very light brown on top. Remove the oven and let cool completely.

Sweet corn is already in the ground this year.  And I look forward to seeing it in late June.  Have a great week.