Thursday, November 14, 2013

CSA member survey- reply and be entered to win a free Thanksgiving share!

Hello farm friends!  I can't believe how fast the past few weeks have gone- CSA feels like a long time ago already--- hopefully not so long that you've forgotten all the ideas and feedback you had for us at the end of the season!
Below is the link to the member feedback survey.  While we appreciate any and all feedback all the time (CSA members, investors, market customers, nosy neighbors), this survey is specific to CSA, and the drawing for the free Thanksgiving share is for CSA members only.  If you win the drawing, you can pick up your Thanksgiving share Sat. November 23 at our stall at the indoor market in Bldg 50 (Sat from 10 am to 2 pm).
Deadline for survey responses to be entered in the drawing: Wed. Nov. 20
Deadline for survey responses (not entered in the drawing): Dec. 31

Deadline for feedback, input, ideas, concerns, questions: never!

Survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6BFPSJT

Thank you SO much for joining us this year.  It felt like a great and productive season; I look forward to hearing YOUR perspective!

Monday, October 14, 2013

BPF CSA Week 19: Thanksgiving Shares, Organic Apples, Winter Shares, Surveys

Lovely turnout for the Sunday Harvest Party and potluck on Sunday!  We got all the squash and gourds out of the field, and a good amount of potatoes into the barn, too. Thanks SO much to CSA members, neighbors, and friends who pitched in and/or stayed to share food and fire afterward.
The Eldred family collected buckets full of black walnuts for dyeing, chickens enjoyed a feast of half-rotten melons, and our youngest CSA member Elena Stauffer (8 weeks old) even joined us for the evening! Brenin and John pressed about 10 gallons of cider, and we still have apples left over!  Which reminds me: organic apples from Gene Garthe in Northport are available to order .  $1 per lb for orders of 10# or more, or $4 per quart.  Bushels are approx 40 lbs, so approx $40.  Scroll down to Announcements for details on varieties available. Also detailed in Announcements: Thanksgiving Shares, Winter Shares, and End-of-Season Surveys (*survey respondents will be entered into a drawing for a free Thanksgiving Share!).

In Your Share This Week:


Turnips: one of the most misunderstood vegetables, this hearty representative of European peasant food is a favorite of mine and a staple in the fall/winter diets of northern cultures the world around (*including northern MI*). Sweet and pungent, turnips are delicious raw (grated, sliced thinly, and/or fermented), cooked (roasted, baked, fried, souped), as greens (anything you'd do to kale, try it on turnip greens), and as a surprise at the back of your fridge in January (surprise! they are still delicious-- excellent keeping quality is what made them good peasant food-- try them now AND in mid-winter in hearty stews and roasted mixed roots).  You might see Scarlet Queen (pink inside and out!) or Gold Ball (pale gold-white).  If you need to triage vegetables to minimize waste, cut off the greens and use now, and store the roots in an airtight container (bag) in the fridge. They'll keep for several months if necessary.  See Recipes section for Smashed Turnips (with or without potatoes), one of my fave fall dishes.
Eggplant, mix of varieties
Peppers, sweet and/or hot
French Fingerling Potato
Broccoli
Onions
Garlic
Potatoes
Winter Squash- Acorn/Delicata/Dumpling
Greens: either Brussels Tops, Kale, or Chard
Salad Mix- finally back after a long hiatus!  I hope you've been enjoying Napa, kale, waldorfy, and cabbage salads in the meantime, but it is nice to finally get a good harvest of baby greens again.
Cherry Tomatoes
Heirloom Tomatoes- since we still haven't had a frost, they are still going, but certainly slowing down. It is nice to keep sharing this summer bounty with you well into fall.
Melons- either watermelons or canteloupe or galia.  What's been your favorite this season?

Announcements
1. Thanksgiving Shares available: Sign up now to get a box of $40-50+ worth of veggies the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  Pick up boxes at our stall at the indoor winter market (basement of Bldg 50; The Commons).  Purchase one or more for your family and/or sponsor a share to be donated to Food Rescue/Goodwill Inn for Thanksgiving meals for local families. Thanksgiving shares will cost $40-50, depending on crops available in November; exact price available soon. Things you may
see in the Thanksgiving share: winter squash, potatoes, onions, leeks,
garlic, root veggies like carrots, turnips and/or beets, Brussels
sprouts, celery and/or celeriac, cabbage, radishes, cooking greens
like kale/collards, salad greens, herbs, and possibly a few surprises.

2. Organic Apples from Gene Garthe in Northport available to order! This has been a tremendous year for apples -- "if you ever wanted amazing apples, this is the year!" according to my husband Jess, who's been helping Gene harvest.  $1 per lb for 10# or more.  (a bushel crate = approx 40 lbs, so approx $40) or $4 per quart (5-7 apples depending on variety). Deadline to order: Halloween.  Order early for guaranteed selection-- and since this year is so amazing (big, beautiful apples!), think storage-- cool, dark places like garages and basements and attics are perfect for months of fresh apples-- applesauce, dried apples, frozen apple pie filling, baked apples in foil in the fire, apple-squash soup, apple cider!

Varieties available NOW: 
Swiss Gourmet


Golden Supreme- like a golden delicious but crisp and better
Graham Spy - Kathy Garthe's favorite baking apple
Elstar- Abra Berens' favorite all-around apple
Swiss Gourmet- Jess' and my favorite eating apple, hands down
Honeycrisp- need I say more? organic honeycrisp anyone?

Varieties available by November:
Empire
Ida Red
Mutsu
Cortland
Northern Spy

3. The End is Near.   The last week of October will be the last week of CSA shares this year, for a 21-week season! Last date for Saturday people: Oct. 26; Tuesday people: Oct. 29; Wednesday: Oct. 30.  I'll be sending an end-of-season survey to get your feedback for help in planning next year's season.  All survey respondents will be entered in a drawing for one FREE Thanksgiving Share! So look for the survey (probably electronic- possibly paper) soon!

4. Winter Shares: Who wants to keep this going? We've had a few requests for winter shares.  Normally our winter shares take the form of investor shares (you invest cash in exchange for farm credit plus interest in the form of additional credit; each time you shop from our market stall, we debit your purchases from your account- no cash needed). More flexible than traditional shares, but you also have to show up early like any market customer to get the best selection.
If we did do a traditional winter share, it might be a once-a-month box. Say a $50-60 box of storage crops plus greens, once a month for four months, $200. Pick up at our stall at the indoor winter market. Just gauging interest here-- who's in? 

Recipes

Smashed Turnips
3-4 lg turnips, scrubbed and cut into 1-2" cubes or wedges
half (or more) that amount of potatoes (optional), scrubbed and cut into 2" cubes or wedges
1 head roasted garlic
Veg oil
salt and pepper

1. Boil turnips and potatoes in generously salted water til tender but not falling apart. Drain.
2. Heat enough oil in a large skillet over high heat to fry the turnips/potatoes-- not deep frying, but a generous amount of oil nonetheless. I use veg. oil for high heat frying because olive oil and butter tend to smoke at the high temps that make for really nice fried things.  350 F if you're measuring.
3. Gently dump in enough turnips/potatoes/peeled roasted garlic to fill the skillet about 2/3 full in a single layer- don't overcrowd. Do it in multiple batches if necessary.  Smash the chunked roots with a potato masher or the bottom of a mug-  not to actually mash to a pulp, but to flatten a bit and mush up the different flavors of the different roots if using turnips AND spuds AND garlic, to increase surface area that's in contact with the hot oil (*this is why it's good to only fill the skillet 2/3 full at first, so the smashed roots have room to be in contact with the pan, rather than crowding up on top of each other*).
4. Let them fry til crisp on one side, then flip with a spatula to fry the other side.  You'll see if you used enough oil-- there will still be some left to do the second side. If not, don't add more now; the cool oil with just make everything greasy.  Use more for the second batch. Push around with the spatula a bit if they start to stick. Let them fry til brown and crisp; drain on paper towels.
5. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Serve hot with ketchup, garlic aioli, hot sauce, hot sauce+mayo (I know, sounds weird; tastes delicious), tahini-lemon dressing, whatever you like.

Friday, October 4, 2013

BPF CSA Week 18: Falling for Brassicas

Foods in the Brassicaceae, or cabbage, family  are fall staples-- hearty turnips and radishes, sweet crunchy cabbage, tender and versatile broccoli, weirdly delicious kohlrabi, among others, form the centers of many meals this time of year.  Brassicas also contain sulfur compounds that have been linked to cancer prevention-- as if delicious and beautiful weren't enough! This week delivers a barrage of brassicas, among other fall goodness.  Bon appetit!
***Remember: Fall Harvest Party and Potluck Sun. Oct. 13. Harvest: 2-5 pm. Potluck: 5:30-8 pm***

In Your Share This Week:

Broccoli-- beautiful fall broccoli!  We planted three different varieties with the intention of harvesting over 3-4 weeks, but guess what- they're ALL coming on all at once, so lots of broccoli this week!  Possibly one more week of broccoli, but it depends on weather (whether they hold in the field or need to come out yesterday)
Cabbage- red or green-- a great storage item-- these cabbages are fresh and delicious, but if you need to prioritize your veggies so you make sure to use them all with minimal waste, keep in mind that cabbage is an excellent keeper. Great for kraut, cabbage rolls, coleslaw, stirfry, or soup.
Turnips with gorgeous greens-either Gold Ball, Scarlet Queen, or Hakurei- see below for a delicious turnip soup recipe. The smell of turnip greens always makes me feel like fall is here- it's inextricably linked to cool, moist air, foggy mornings, chilly fingers.  It makes me want to pop into Matt Murphy's Irish Pub in Brookline MA where I had the best turnip soup of my life, 13 years ago!  I worked at a farm outside of Boston, and we'd sell at a market near Brookline, then hit Matt Murphy's for turnip soup and a pint after market, and usually some traditional Irish music, too.
Radishes- French Breakfast or D'Avignon, the mildest and tenderest of radishes.
Brussels Tops OR Swiss Chard- so many greens! cabbage, turnip greens, AND brussels tops or chard. So Brussels tops.... are the tops of Brussels sprout plants.  And we top them for two reasons: 1. It causes the plants to direct growth at making bigger sprouts rather than growing taller, and 2. They are delicious!  I happen to prefer them after a frost (like B-sprouts themselves), because the cold temps make them sweeter, but they are still tasty now, and since we haven't had a frost and need those sprouts to size up, here you go!  Use just like Collard Greens or Kale.  Chard is interchangeable with spinach or beet greens, also delicious in a simple saute with olive oil, onions, garlic, lemon or vinegar. voila.

Carrots- yum! sweet fall carrots, several different varieties.
Celery- remember this from a few weeks ago?  cut off the tops (leaves) to maintain keeping quality if you're not using it all immediately. DO use leaves in soup, stew, stock, or salad.  You know what to do with the rest!
Potatoes- Red Gold or Nicola... which is your favorite so far?
Winter Squash- Delicata, Sweet Dumpling, and/or Acorn- yum.  Winter squash keeps well at a cool temp (55ish) for months or possibly room temp (60's not 70's) for several weeks at least.  If you see any soft or rot spots developing, cut them out and cook immediately. Freeze frozen squash if you can't use it immediately
Onions
Garlic
Cherry Tomatoes
Heirloom Tomatoes

Sunday, September 29, 2013

BPF CSA Week 17: Asian Invasion!

-It's time for stir-fry, kim chee, edamame, and/or eggrolls.  This week's share is bursting with Asian-style veggies.  Your Napa cabbage might last the entire week if you don't use it for a giant batch of kim chee, so start on it now! See recipes for my favorite slaw.
-Please help choose a date for the End of Season Harvest Party and Potluck: Oct. 13 or Oct 15?

Also- we have at least two more weeks of CSA.  As you know, CSA runs at least 18 weeks, and up to 22 weeks, weather permitting.  Since this is week 17, the season could end as early as next week. However, there's no frost in the forecast for the next 10 days, which means warm-weather crops like tomatoes, melons, eggplant, basil, and flowers should keep on coming at least that long.  Right now I'm predicting a 20-week season (three more weeks after this one), but I will keep checking weather and our store of crops and keep in touch about the end date.  We'll keep going if warm-weather crops AND cool-weather crops are still going strong, but we'll usually call it a season if we've had a frost, and the last couple of weeks are all storage veggies (e.g. potatoes, onions, garlic, squash, root veggies)-- if that's the case, we'll send you home with one last extra-large share instead of asking you to come pick up the same thing in smaller quantities for more weeks.  I'll keep you updated when the end is in sight ;)

What's in Your Share This Week

Napa Cabbage (Chinese Cabbage)- one of the most versatile of Brassicas, Napa can be cooked any way you'd use round cabbage; it is more delicate so requires less cooking time.  It's also delicious raw in so many forms- shredded slaw, chopped inside of egg rolls or spring rolls, lacto-fermented into kim chee (amazing Korean kraut-style fermented greens), you name it.  Here's a link to a blog by two Philly-area CSA members about what they did with Napa in their share--with a nice recipe for pot stickers! See Recipes for my favorite slaw.

Edamame- edible soybeans!  You'll see these as a big handful of bean plants with pods still attached. Remove pods from plant, compost the plant, boil the pods whole in heavily salted water til tender. Eat the beans (seeds) from out of the pod. They should be tender and flavorful. This makes an excellent appetizer or snack- set out bowls of beanpods and bowls for people to put in the empty pods after scraping out the beans with their teeth (sort of like scraping an artichoke petal with your teeth).

Daikon Radish-- one of my favorite radishes, daikon have affectionately been called "baby arm radishes" by a few different farm crew members here-- they can get that big!  These daikon this week are thinnings from the row-- small representatives. You  might see one more week of giant daikon before the season's end.  Enjoy these any way you normally use radishes- fresh on salad, grated onto anything, roasted, etc.  They make a delicious lacto-fermented pickle, are very nice sliced paper-thin and floated on a bowl of hot miso soup, or cut into long dipping sticks for hummous, tahini-miso dip, or anything else you'd like to eat with a radish stick. ALSO-- the greens are delicious!  Smooth (not hairy) and juicy, these radish tops are interchangeable with other Asian greens like bok choi or Napa in any recipe.

Broccoli-- the fall beauties! They are looking so delicious right now.  The broccoli is one of a few things in this family that did NOT get sprayed with Bt (an organic pesticide for cabbage loopers-- cabbage butterfly larvae-- see last week's blog posting/newsletter for details). That means there may still be loopers (small green worms exactly the color of the broccoli stem and incredibly hard to see) in the broccoli.  How to remove: soak broccoli in heavily salted cold water for 30-60 min. Agitate a few times, and worms should float free.  Rinse under cold water to blast off any remaining worms and the salt. Always store broccoli in an airtight container in the fridge.  If you use in the first few days, go ahead and leave leaves on; if not, remove leaves-- just like with carrots, the leaves will continue to transpire moisture away from the plant, resulting in rubbery broccoli.  Leaves ARE edible just like kale. But remove leaves for crisper stalks/florets.

Eggplant- are you still loving eggplant? It seems like we haven't had enough. I could use one more big harvest; I haven't even made any baba ganoush this summer! But those that we've had have been delicous-- try them simmered in coconut milk for 15-20 min for a delicious start to any Thai curry dish.

Peppers-sweet and/or hot, enjoy these ripe, i.e. red (or orange or lime green etc, depending on variety) rather than green for the best flavor and sweetness, but green peppers are still crispy, beautiful, and tasty, too.

Basil- probably the last of this heat-loving herb, basil is not only great as pesto or with tomatoes, but is also a delicous finish/topping for most Thai curry dishes. Try whole leaves or flowers floated in any kind of spicy soup (e.g. tom kha, hot and sour, or any spicy brothy soup), and woody stems in your veggie stock (see last week's blog re: making stock).

Onions- a mix of yellow onions, red Lunga di Tropea, or cipoollini.

Garlic- still got a good supply in store-- check farm news for our Garlic Planting Party invitation, probably right around Halloween time.

Carrots- always store in something airtight like a tupperware or plastic bag. If they get limp or rubbery, cut in half and soak in ice cold water, right in the fridge, for a few hours, and they will crisp right back up.

Cherry Tomatoes-  these plants are certainly starting to slow down in production from cooler temps and shorter days, but aren't done yet!

Heirloom Tomatoes-  like the cherry tomatoes, these heat-loving plants aren't dead yet, but have peaked and are starting to slow down. That said, we're not done yet! If you haven't had enough caprese salad yet (sliced tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella topped with olive oil and salt and possibly balsamic vinegar too), this is a good week for it.

Announcements

1. End-of-Season Harvest Party and Potluck: Which works best for you, Sun. Oct. 13 OR Tues. Oct. 15?  Harvest party from 2-6 ish; potluck from 6:30-8 ish. Come for either or both parts. Also, cider pressing in the barn, so bring apples to contribute to the mix, and a jug to take some cider home!  But please weigh in on the date ASAP- which date is better for you?

Recipe: Michelle's favorite Asian-ish Slaw

4-5 cups shredded Napa cabbage, bok choi, daikon greens, or any green Asian (or not) leafy thing you've got around
2-4 grated carrots
1 finely sliced onion
1-3 cloves garlic, minced
equal amt of fresh ginger, also minced (if you have none, put in 1 tsp ground ginger to dressing)
at least 1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
optional: 1-2 fresh hot chiles, minced

toasted sesame oil
rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
soy sauce/tamari
cayenne and/or your favorite hot sauce (I like Ray's Polish Fire)
pinch ground coriander
salt and pepper

Mix slaw ingredients well.  Mix dressing ingredients well, then mix w/ slaw. Enjoy!  Top with a squeeze of fresh lime and/or bean sprouts and/or pea shoots and/or fried tofu and/or anything else you like.
Prepared edamame

small daikon radish
Napa w/outer leaves removed-- you CAN eat them, by the way!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Birch Point CSA Week 16: Thyme for Soup!

What's in Your Share This Week?

Celery- the very first of the season!  I love homegrown celery for its intense flavor, dark green color, and versatility (did you know that if you grow your own celery, instead of cutting off the whole head at the base, you can harvest just the outer leaves/stalks as you need them, and the plant will continue to grow all season?).  Commercial celery is often blanched, or grown under hilled soil or mulch, which results in pale, weak-flavored stalks (read: less color, less flavor, less nutritional value, which is partly why celery has a reputation for being all fiber and nothing else).  We grow our celery exposed to the sun, which results in dark green, super flavorful stalks and leaves.  And yes! You CAN use the leaves.  Store-bought celery usually has the leaves removed because they transpire moisture away from the stalk, resulting in rubber celery, so removing them extends the storage life. The same is true for your farm-grown celery, BUT you should remove the leaves and USE them chopped in soup, stirfry, and/or egg salad-- anywhere you like celery flavor, basically.  Then eat the stalks fresh or cooked, too.  It's like double-celery (leaves AND stalk) ;)

Carrots- we just harvested a LOT of carrots and topped them for better storage life (see note on celery leaves. The same applies to any veggie with leaves).  You'll probably see carrots w/out tops for the next week or two.  These are still fresh (less than 2 weeks old, unless we have WAY more than I think, and they last us 3 weeks), and delicious raw OR cooked-- perhaps in soup?

Onions-- we'll continue to supply you with a mix of onion varieties.  We've just run through the last (I think) of the sweet onions, which we like to use up first because they don't store nearly as well as the red, yellow, and cipollini onions.  From now on, you'll see a mix of yellow and red storage onions, cipollini, Tropea (the long red ones resembling biceps- an Italian heirloom of gorgeous appearance and delicious flavor), and perhaps some shallots, too.

Garlic- could we go a week without garlic? I think not. If you use a lot of garlic, more is available to purchase; just ask at CSA pickup.  If you are stockpiling because you don't use much garlic, never fear- it keeps wonderfully for months IF you keep it cool and DRY-- i.e. NOT in the refrigerator.  Any cool, dry place will do.

Potatoes-- as with onions, you'll keep seeing a mix of potato varieties.  I believe this week it's Augusta, a white-fleshed, yellow-skinned variety, which according to Fedco Moose Tubers (where we purchased the seed potatoes) make the best potatoes au gratin, and are a favorite of our friends Bill and Patrice Bobier at Earthscape/Full Circle Farm in Hesperia, MI.  I am partial to all varieties of potatoes roasted (cut into bit-sized pieces, tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet or skillet, and roasted in the oven at 400-ish F til brown and crisp on the edges but creamy-soft in the centers). Seriously- any potato is good that way. But the best way to compare varieties is simple boiling- it reveals the texture (floury, waxy, creamy, or dry) and flavor of a spud.  Please check out the info-packed Wood Prairie Kitchen Potato Guide to choosing the best preparation for different potato types-- I believe Augusta is not on that list, but you'll get a general idea of what to do with floury vs waxy vs moist vs dry spuds. In case you need it :)

Leeks-- finally it's leek time!  In case you can't tell, we've basically handed you a potato-leek soup box this week. See recipes below for my fave version of this classic fall/winter soup.  BTW, you CAN use the green part of the leek. I've never understood why people don't use it more often-- it can be a little fibrous, but for goodness sake, just slice it finely across the grain and saute. Puh-leez.  And if you don't want to do that, toss it into your stock pot for the "onion" part of any soup stock (basic veggie stock: whatever "onion" and garlic parts you have around-- skins, butts, greens, etc, whatever carrot (or parsnip) parts you have around-- same, whatever celery (or parsley) parts you have around-- same, a good handful of thyme OR just the woody parts of fresh or dried thyme if you've saved those, a few bay leaves, salt and pepper.  Put it all in a pot, just cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer it for 10-20 min.  Cool. Strain. Use immediately or fridge or freeze according to your needs.  You can put anything in homemade stock-- I find veggie stock easy because I chuck into a bag in the freezer all the veggie end, butts, skins, unwanted "parts" all week/month (keep the bag near the top/front of freezer for easy access to add more parts every time you cook and generate veggie waste) until I have a stockpot worth, then I make stock and then compost the veg "waste" whose flavor I just captured.  If your veg waste was dirty/gritty to start, strain your stock through multiple layers of cheesecloth OR a paper coffee filter before using/freezing. Note: my opinion: avoid brassicas in soup stock (cabbage, kale, broccoli etc).  I think they lend too strong a flavor for most soups.

Herbs-Thyme OR Parsley-- Thyme for the stock and/or beginning of your soup project, parsley as generous fresh garnish.  Either or both will make your soup that much more delicious.  By the way, the parsley STEMS are delicious- crispy and juicy; chop and throw into anything you might like parsley in. OR toss them in your stock while simmering.

Kale OR Swiss Chard-- surely you know what to do with these by now?  If not, there's always eggs, the vehicle for all things mysterious.  Chop said mysterious things (though CSA members have no reason to include kale and chard in this category by this time of the season, you may still enjoy them with eggs!), saute with onions and/or garlic in skillet, pour in beaten eggs (whatever ratio of "things" to eggs you like- if you like eggs, use more; if you like greens use less egg), scramble and/or fry til flippable, then flip like a burger. Enjoy with chopped tomatoes, peppers, hot sauce, dash of lemon, bread, friends, family.

Cherry Tomatoes-- oh, you're tired of these?  Sure, we can leave them out next week... haha, kidding!  Once the frost hits, we'll be done with tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil, beans, and sunflowers.  Til then, though, these things are still going strong (see Field Notes for update on summer squash and cucumber).

Heirloom Tomatoes- thanks to all who came out for the Tomato Tasting and Rock and Roll Show last Tuesday!  Who knew that barnyard could create such an amazing amphitheater of sound?!  OK, it was actually farmer Spencer Boyles' band the Dead Letter Office, but we learned what a loud amp plus a natural bowl-landscape surrounded by walls can do. Wow! And the tomatoes were pretty tasty, too :)  As you might imagine there were as many favorites as there were tasters, but a few stood out as consistent faves: Gypsy, Green Zebra, Solar Flare, and Paul Robeson were each chosen by multiple people, though just about every variety had a fan.  What's your favorite so far? If you have no idea what you've been eating, please ask a farmer- OR consult the Birch Point/Bare Knuckle facebook posting from early in the spring about the varieties we grew.

Melons- watermelons OR canteloupe-- Here we are solidly into fall weather, and the melons are coming on like gangbusters. I hope you all get at least one more picnic in before it's too cold to eat outside.  Alternately, melon sorbet is lovely indoors, even in the winter.  (full disclosure: I haven't tried this particular recipe, and I don't have an ice cream maker, but I'm willing to give it a shot, modifying the directions to be something like instead of using an ice cream maker, just freeze it all, then chop into pieces, food process again, and freeze again. Perhaps twice.  I've done this with other "ice cream" recipes with good results)

Winter Squash-- Did you know that there is a seasonality to winter squash varieties?  The early season varieties, those we're harvesting now, are at their peak when harvested; they do store well but don't improve or change much with storage.  The later season varieties (buttercup, kabocha, butternut, hubbards, etc) actually improve in flavor and texture quality after a month or more of curing and storage.  So-- for peak squash experience, eat them each in season-- the acorns, delicatas and dumplings now, followed by the buttercups/kabochas, and last of all the classic keepers, the butternuts and hubbard-types. Everyone wants butternuts all time, but be patient, enjoy the squash that's peaking now, and it will afford you even more butternut love later when the time is right ;)
Acorn
Delicata

 
Sweet Dumpling



 Announcements:

1. End-of-Season Harvest Party and Potluck: We've narrowed it down to two possible dates:
Sunday Oct. 13    OR
Tuesday Oct. 15
Please RSVP with your preference ASAP!
Harvest will start at 2 pm and go through 6 pm; potluck 6:30-8:30-ish.  Join us for either or both parts! We'll be digging potatoes (remember planting those back in May? seems like just last week!), bringing in the very last of the winter squash, and cleaning garlic and onions.  Bring your APPLES and a JUG to contribute to the Community Cider Pressing- throw in your apples, take home a jug of cider!  We'll borrow a press for the day, and press until we run through all the apples (there are  few feral trees on Birch Point Rd I've got my eye on- how about you? got any favorite feral trees?)
If we do it on Tuesday, it's partly during CSA pickup, so many of you will be here already. Plan to come early to help harvest and/or stay for the potluck.

2. Art in the Garden: Did you see Colleen's announcement about a second art workshop in the Children's Garden? She and Blackbird Arts teachers Melissa and Phil are also trying to plan the date for the workshop and pole-raising.  Please RSVP directly to Colleen by Sept 23 if your family would like to be part of the workshop in October:
Reply to colleen@creehanphotography with the following info...

1) how many in your family are interested in participating
2) does Tuesday, October 1st starting at 5pm work for you?
3) does Tuesday, October 8th starting at 5pm work for you?  

3. 2014: Farm Collaboration! Many of you already know this, but it's official: Brenin Wertz-Roth, of Giving Tree Farm in Grawn, and I are going to join farming forces starting next season.  Brenin and I have wanted to collaborate for some time now, and we're making the big move: his CSA and my CSA are merging.  We'll keep some crops going down at Giving Tree, things like garlic and pumpkins that don't need daily attention, but focus attention on Birch Point.  What does that mean for you?  
     1. More CSA options next year: I think we're going to keep all current options available for pickup, which means Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday, at the farm, at the TC market, AND at Little Fleet on Monday evenings.  I'll keep you updated if that changes, and we'll hold a general meeting next spring for members of the two farms to meet each other, answer questions, and for them (and  you!) to see Birch Point and meet both your farmers and our respective families!
     2. Perhaps a different mix of crops-- as you know, my favorite crops are tomatoes, alliums, leafy greens, and flowers, although we do a little bit of everything.  I happen to know Brenin is a brassica-phile, and his cabbages and Brussels sprouts may even be nicer than ours! (you haven't seen any of those yet, but next week you'll get cabbage.  Brussels sprouts will come after the frost, when they truly sweeten up).    Next year- more of all of them!  Our combined experience and interests will, I hope, create an even better, lovelier mix of crops for you next season.  On that note, look for an end-of-season survey to help us better plan for next year-- your feedback helps form the crop plan!
     3. More early crops- the current plan is to move Brenin's hoophouse here, which means more space for early lettuces, spinach, herbs, root veggies, etc.  Your CSA shares and our farmers' market stall will reflect that extra capacity for early production with more volume and more diversity early on.

Recipe
Potato-Leek Soup
6 -8 med potatoes, scrubbed and chopped (why bother peeling, unless you're bored?)
1 onion, chopped
1-2 leeks, chopped (see note above re: green parts. go on, use them)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 carrots, scrubbed and chopped (see note re: peeling potatoes)
3-4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
olive oil or butter
water/stock of your choice
optional: milk or cream or plain yogurt, fresh parsley and/or other fresh herbs

Saute onion, leek, and carrot in a generous amount of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed stock pot on medium heat til tender/translucent. Add garlic and potatoes, thyme and bay leaves, salt and pepper, and saute another couple of minutes. Add water/stock til soup is a little thicker than you like it, but all veggies are at least under water.  Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cook til potatoes are tender.  Optional: immersion blenderize partly for a creamy soup with some chunks, or completely for a smooth soup.  You can also do that transfer-to-a-blender-or-cuisinart-then-transfer-back thing, but I find that tedious at best and dangerous at worst. If you like blenderized soups, just admit it and go get an immersion blender. You won't be sorry!  Taste.  It probably needs more salt. add it. don't be shy. If you honestly have dangerously high blood pressure or are cooking for someone who does, I suppose you could go light on the salt, but for everyone else- Don't Undersalt Your Soup!  While you're at it, add more pepper.  Keep tasting, though.  Make sure it's how you like it.  Add a little more hot water/stock as necessary to make it the consistency you like.  Keep it hot.  If you like creamy goodness, add a generous splash of milk or heavy cream and/or plain yogurt to each bowl- you might heat the milk/cream gently first so as not to make the soup lukewarm.  You could also add it to the pot, but if you'll have leftovers, it's nicer to reheat if it's dairy-free (no risk of scalded-milk-taste that way).  Top each bowl with a generous grind of black pepper and sprinkle of fresh parsley and/or other herb of your choice.  Try some red pepper flakes and/or fresh hot chiles, minced, for a spicy new-world twist on a European classic dish.

Field Notes

Summer Squash/Zukes and Cucumbers are nearly dead.  There were new plantings of both that were begining to flower, promising another wave of potential pickles and pattypans, but they got hit by a disease I couldn't identify-- a drying of the leaves despite ample rain lately, no apparent mildew or much yellowing, but they plants have stopped growing (which could of course be due to cool temps) and leaves are drying/dying back from the edges toward the stems.  This means less photosynthesis, less growth, less flower/fruit formation.  I am not hopeful, friends.   It was a good run of cukes and zukes from the early plantings, so I'm satisfied with our yield, but of course I would have liked one more wave of cukes at least, as I didn't pickle any yet this year!  I'll let you know if anything changes, but I think that's a cuke/zuke season.  Everything else is looking good- the fall brassicas in the field by the road are lush but have been hit hard by cabbage loopers (the larvae of the white-and-yellow cabbage butterfly, which eat large, ragged holes in brassica leaves, reducing photosynthesis and slowing growth, also depositing copious amounts of frass, or larva poop, in the cabbages- ick).  Just so you know, I did spray Bt, or Bacillus thuringiensis, on that field to control them.   Bt is a naturally-occurring soil bacteria that, when ingested, kills moth and butterfly larvae.  In this case it specifically targets cabbage loopers, as they are the larva that eat the leaves of the brassica plants (brassica=everything in the cabbage family, like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, kale, collard greens, radishes, turnips, mustard greens, etc), and it is when they munch the sprayed leaf that the Bt on it kills them.  Since it rained, I'll have to reapply it, as the little monsters are still active.  Bt IS safe for humans- I don't know what kind of studies have been done about how much you'd have to ingest to observe damage, but in recommended quantities, it is not dangerous to us. Although I cringe at spraying anything (it feels like cheating at best, dangerous at worst) on our crops, the damage done by the loopers far exceeds, in my estimation, any risk posed by Bt.  In an interesting twist, BT is such an effective organic insecticide that the GM crop industry has engineered crops like potatoes to manufacture their own Bt in their own cells.  One might think (if one were open to GM crops at all) that is a reasonable use of genetic engineering in crop development, but the risk posed is that of Bt-resistant pests.  Since organic farmers have been judiciously (hopefully judiciously) using Bt for years to safely control cabbage loopers, the idea that broad expanses of cropland might suddenly present an opportunity for Bt-resistant mutants to survive and spread is rather terrifying.  Not only could Bt-producing genes potentially escape and react with unanticipated outcomes in the environment, a dependable, safe (to the best of our knowledge), organic pest control could be rendered useless.  Lots of things about GMO crops are terrifying, but to me the most unforgivable is the seemingly cavalier attitude of the industry to the unknown environmental impacts, which are inextricably linked to the success of organic producers, as described in the above scenario.  Note:NewLeaf (Bt) potatoes were pulled from the market in 2001, but Monsanto et al. continue to provide pesticide-producing commodity crops like grain and fiber crops. I don't even know where to begin thinking about addressing the fiber issue, but I think we can grow some grains locally-- for example, corn, buckwheat, and rye, and possibly wheat and barley too, on an economical scale.  What locally-produced, organic grains would you like to try? Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 13, 2013

BPF CSA Week 15

What's in Your Share This Week?

Potatoes-- after a couple weeks' break, these staples are back for soup season!
the very first Winter Squash- Delicata and/or Sweet Dumpling- see below for my favorite preparation
Collard Greens- a nutritional powerhouse AND so delicious; interchangeable with kale in recipes
Garlic
Onions
Basil- the basil went from scrawny little plants to big, bolting beauties, so you're getting a bodacious bunch with flowers- just toss them right in with the stems and leaves for pesto; blend a minute extra
Tomatoes- full size heirloom slicers! See below for invite to the Heirloom Tomato Tasting Tuesday
Cherry Tomatoes- still irresistible; still coming on strong
Beet Greens OR Kale OR Swiss Chard- mmm more more more greens! Please saute and enjoy with balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, wine reduction, and/or tomatoes. anything else=optional
the first MELONS!  Watermelon, Galia Melon, and/or Canteloupe- wow; they are starting to pour in; I hope we get at least another week of picnic weather to enjoy them outside! (Galia=green fleshed, netted skin, reminiscent of honeydew, but SO much better)

Announcements:
1. Heirloom Tomato Tasting here at BPF; Tuesday Sept. 17 3-7 pm.  Yes, it is during CSA pickup for Tuesday CSA members; everyone else- hope you can make it out on Tuesday! We will feature our best/favorite heirlooms along with samples from Bare Knuckle Farm, Loma Farm, and Giving Tree Farm.  Music from the Dead Letter Office, farmer Spencer Boyles' band.

2. Red Barn Yoga: Wednesday Sept 18, 6-7 p.m. in the red barn at BPF.  Donation-based, all-levels yoga class taught by Amy Hubbell. All-levels class; all invited.  Wear yoga-comfortable clothes with layers (it could get chilly!); also bring a yoga mat, towel, or lightweight blanket.

Recipes
Winter Squash (universal recipe- fancify to taste)
Slice in half lengthwise; scoop out seeds.  Place face down on a cookie sheet/in shallow baking dish, add water to cover cut edge (prevent drying out).  Bake at 350-400 until flesh is soft (60 min+ for large squash; 30 min or so for small squash; test to make sure the texture is to your liking); remove from oven, serve in the skin "on the half shell" for small squash; sliced OR scooped out for larger squash.  Add any number of condiments (for example butter, salt and cinnamon, OR olive oil, roasted garlic, and ground sage, OR anything else that suits you- try it PLAIN first to see what it needs, if anything!)

Collard Greens- Michelle's favorite way
Slice collard greens crosswise into thin ribbons, massage in a bowl with salt til tenderized. Saute lightly if you like (really unnecessary, but hot food is nice in the fall!), with onions, garlic, and tomatoes, chopped (chopped hot pepper optional).  Douse with olive oil, lemon juice (or cider vinegar or hot sauce), and black pepper. Serve hot or cold.
OR boil them almost beyond recognition with a hambone in a big pot- southern style ;) Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

BPF CSA Week 11

Past the half-way mark! Hard to believe, but even if CSA lasts 22 weeks (max possible for the season), we are now halfway through.  And tomatoes are just starting to trickle in.  We harvested the first 3 large tomatoes and first 2 pints of cherry tomatoes from the field today (as opposed to the hoophouse where all tomatoes up til now have come from).  Ah. It's on the horizon! (the tomato tsunami)
In Your Share This Week:
Cucumbers
Summer Squash and/or Zucchini
Carrots
Hakurei Turnips
Cherry Tomatoes
Basil
Sweet Onions
Potato Medley
Garlic
Kale or Chard
Lettuce- mix of varieties of leaf/butterheads

Announcements:
1.Remember: Red Barn Yoga tomorrow (Wed) from 7-8 pm.  All are welcome.  All levels class, by donation, taught by Amy Hubbell.  Wear comfortable clothes,  bring a yoga mat, towel, and/or lightweight blanket-- the barn floor is old and wood and may be splintery.

2. Upcoming: Let's set the date for our end-of-season CSA potluck celebration!  Traditionally it's been attached to either the big squash harvest (usually early Oct) or the garlic planting party (end of Oct).  I suggest early-mid Oct. so we might still have good weather for an outdoor event! Which of these dates looks best to you (work party approx 2 pm, potluck approx 5:00 pm):
Sat. Oct. 5
Sat. Oct 12
Sun. Oct 13
Tues. Oct 15 (during normal CSA pickup time)

That's it for now- thanks for reading, and please enjoy your food.