These many weeks have come and gone; and we've so very much enjoyed growing food for you this season! We're not done yet; just wanted to acknowledge that I know it's been a good long while since the last newsletter. I do hope y'all have been enjoying the summer bounty! With the recent weeks' weather, I wasn't convinced that it was fall, BUT we've been putting together essentially "soup shares" the past couple of weeks, since we're due for some good soup weather :) And it's always (so far) good cherry tomato snacking weather!
In Your Share This Week:
Potatoes, either white skinned/white fleshed Superior, an early tasty big multipurpose workhorse variety (read: productive!), or Red Gold (pink skin, yellow flesh, perfect littlemultipurpose spud), or perhaps Ama Rosa, the pink inside-and-out fingerling, or Adirondack Blue, the purple inside-and-out small fryer/baker. Or a mix! potato tip: even though "floury" textured spuds are traditionally baked, and "waxy" textured spuds are typically fried, you can certainly roast or boil anything, and with a little salt and/or butter/olive oil and/or fresh parsley, it doesn't really matter how you prepare them. 'Potatoes are yum!' -Rudy
Turnips, either Hakurei (white Japanese "salad" turnips) or Scarlet Queen (red inside and out). On the turnip spectrum, with the old fashioned purple-tops as a reference, Scarlet Queens are milder and more tender than purple-tops, and Hakureis are much more mild and even tenderer-- we enjoy them raw (slice, sprinkle with salt or not, dip or not, enjoy like carrot sticks, or grate/slice onto salads) OR roasted like potatoes or made into turnip soup.
Sweet Onions-- Ailsa Craigs, our favorite sweet onion variety. This year I ordered plants for most of our alliums, instead of starting them from seed in our greenhouse as in the past. I'm happy with their production (and the rain didn't hurt either!), so I think we'll do that again in the future, rather than heat the greenhouse for an entire month just for onions (the earliest seeds we typically sow in trays in the greenhouse, often as early as February!) and come out ahead by the savings on greenhouse propane, even though plants cost more than seed.
Leeks! the first few weeks of leek harvest of the season, and I have to say, they are looking lovely. Leeks are totally interchangeable with onions in recipes, though the flavor and texture is slightly different. Contrary to what some people would have you believe, the green part is totally edible and useable; I've never understood why it got the reputation of being inedible! This week's share was loosely intended to be a "soup" share, and potato-leek was on my mind. See below for recipe.
Winter Squash-- we've officially crossed the threshold from summer (zucchini, pattypan, etc) to winter (acorn, delicata, dumpling, buttercup, etc) squash. Those summer (soft skin, fresh-eating) squash plants cranked out so much food this summer that if you're like us, you're not sorry to see them go, but the winter (long storing, hard skinned) squash plants are holding their own, having produced loads of sweeties to enjoy now and right through winter. This or next week we'll do the big squash harvest, bringing everything into the greenhouse to "cure," or develop a hard shell, to maximize storage life. If you haven't already done so, you can join the fall-winter CSA (8 weeks of fresh and storage crops, from November through December) for even more squash! Different varieties develop their best flavor after various curing/storage times, so we're enjoying the "early" varieties now but will see even more diversity later in the fall/winter.
Swiss Chard, Collard Greens, or Kale "No one can imagine a CSA without kale." - David Hambledon, CSA farmer in NY, at a conference I attended many years ago. I would add "or collard greens, Swiss chard, or bok choi." Vitamin- and mineral-packed greens are really the heart and soul of the farm-fresh veggie revolution. Careful, you may end up with super powers. If you're ever at a loss for what to do with cooking greens, see below for "greens patties" recipe.
Cherry tomatoes-so many cherry tomatoes!!! Preserving Shares Available if you are the kind of person who likes to roast and freeze cherry tomatoes (our favorite tomato preservation method).
Heirloom Tomatoes- so many varieties.. my favorites include Crnkovic Yugoslavian, Paul Robeson, Japanese Trifele, and Nepal. Kelly's favorite is Aunt Ruby's German Green. Just ask if you want help identifying the lovely beauties in your share! Each one has a story, and each has a unique flavor, texture, and appearance. Preserving shares also available for lugs of cherry tomatoes OR big heirlooms ($40 per crate, approx. 1/2-bushel, for CSA members).
Lettuce- is back by popular demand (and by the good graces of the deer). This week you'll get a couple different red and/or green varieties, perhaps classic red leaf, green romaine, red or green summer crisp (which is in between a "leaf" variety and an '"iceberg" variety, but with more character and flavor than an iceberg), or red butterhead.
Herbs- parsley, thyme, sage, or oregano. If you're ever overwhelmed by fresh herbs, here are two suggestions: 1. "Parsley" Potatoes (sub ANY herb for parsley! equally delicious and different!): Boil or roast plenty of cubed potatoes, toss with a generous amount of olive oil and/or butter and/or heavy cream and/or plain yogurt and/or sour cream (i.e. some type of fat; your choice- try them all over time). Coarsely chop a generous handful of fresh herbs-- less of the more pungent types like sage, more of the mellower types like parsley. Use a mix or only one type of herb, up to you. Toss with hot potatoes, salt generously and pepper a bit, serve and eat immediately. 2. Hang up in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight; when dry, strip/crumble into a jar for winter potatoes/soup/popcorn (yep for real: popcorn with butter or coconut oil or olive oil, with salt AND crumbled dry sage or crumbled dry hyssop or thyme is one of our favorite winter treats)
1. Birch Point Fall Potluck and Cider Pressing Party! Sunday, October 15, 2017 2:00-5:00 p.m.
Please join us at the farm for an afternoon "snackluck" -bring snacks to share, apples and a jug if you like (to take home fresh-pressed cider-- optional; there will be fresh cider to enjoy on site, and part of the fun of a cider party is the "stone soup" aspect of it-- the more different types of apples that go into it, the better the flavor, and the more we can make. So stop by your favorite feral roadside/old field apple tree, pick a few or a lot, and bring them over).
Farm tours, chicken hide-and-seek, yard games, and all-ages conviviality-- all are welcome; bring your family and/or a friend.
2. Fall/Winter CSA shares- a few spaces remain in our 8-week Fall/Winter CSA. Starts the first Saturday of November and runs eight weeks. $250 for a weekly box of fresh greens, root veggies, squash, onions and other "storage" crops, fresh and dried herbs, and possibly apples and/or chestnuts. Pick up every Saturday at the indoor farmers market at The Commons in TC. Please email/call for details.
3. Preserving Shares- Half-bushels of mixed heirloom tomatoes ($40) and 1-lb bags of basil ($10)available by request, while supplies last and weather permits. These are not "canning" or "paste" tomatoes necessarily, though there are a few in the mix. I recommend slicing, roasting, and freezing heirloom tomatoes for a lovely burst of summer in the dark winter months.
4. The End is Near-- the end of main season CSA, that is. :( Hard to believe the season has gone by so very quickly. We are going to run almost to the end of October this year! The weather is still lovely, and crops look good (they probably look good to the deer, too, so fingers crossed for continued availability of greens from the field). The final pickup dates will be Saturday October 21, Tues. Oct. 24, and Wed. Oct. 25. That will give us an almost-one-week break between main-season and Fall-Winter CSA, but don't worry, the final week will be an extra-large share, so you should have plenty of veg through the first week of November! We're mainly taking the mini-break to start putting the farm to bed for the winter, clean up, re-cover the old hoophouse (stay tuned for a plastic-pulling party invitation), and get ready for winter market season.
5. Thanksgiving Shares -- Sign up for a one-time box of fall bounty! $40 gets you $45-50 worth of mixed veggies the Saturday before Thanksgiving- pick up at our stall at the indoor market. And/or consider donating a Thanksgiving share (or partial share, as your budgets permits) to the Goodwill Inn for their Thanksgiving meal. Birch Point Farm typically donates several shares worth of veggies for Thanksgiving; you can make our delivery even more meaningful (bigger) by underwriting one or more shares for the Inn. You write a check to Birch Point Farm; we harvest and deliver the food. Email or call to sign up!
Greens Patties, or "Leafburgers"
1 bunch (or so) of leafy greens, chopped finely and massaged in a bowl with coarse salt for 5min, to reduce volume and release moisture, stems optional but also chopped finely
1 med onion, chopped
1-4 cloves garlic, minced
handful of fresh herbs of your choice, chopped. Faves include parsley, thyme, sage, or savory.
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes OR 1 fresh jalapeno, chopped (optional as always)
1 c. flour or fine cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs (or 1 if that's all you have; not critical the exact amount)
salt and pepper to taste
Mix everything together WELL. The egg and flour are just binders to keep the greens intact once you form them into patties. You can choose to use more or less egg/flour mixture, depending on your household's greens affinity level. More egg/flour = more typical savory "pancake." Less egg/flour mixture = more hippy green experience. Once the greens are thoroughly coated with egg/flour mixture, regardless of how much you use, form the soggy but solid mixture into patties about the size of a typical burger. Heat a generous amount of olive oil or coconut oil over medium heat in a skillet or flat bottomed wok. Gently place a few patties into the hot oil and fry til browned on the edges. Flip and fry til brown on the other side. Check center to be sure egg is thoroughly cooked, and serve immediately or keep warm in oven while frying the rest of the patties. Extra tang: serve with lemon juice-yogurt or lemon juice-tahini dressing.
Potato-Leek Soup lifted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/220779/winter-leek-and-potato-soup/?internalSource=similar_recipe_banner&referringId=22927&referringContentType=recipe&clickId=simslot_4
MF note: this is all approximate amounts. Keep in mind that if you prefer thicker or thinner soup, adjust liquid accordingly. If you prefer more salt/cheese/herbs, do it (I would). The approximate ratios of solids to liquids is a great starting point, but don't worry about exact amounts for soup! Also, these directions yield a chunky soup, but if you have an immersion blender, this is a great time for it, either thoroughly blending or just partially blending the finished product.
2 tablespoons butter, or more if needed
- Melt butter in a pot over medium heat. Cook and stir leeks and onion until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
- Stir potatoes and broth into onion mixture; simmer until potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Pour half-and-half into potato soup and continue to simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes more.
- Stir Cheddar cheese, parsley, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper into soup until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.