Thursday, September 29, 2011

BPF CSA Week 16 News

What's in Your Share This Week?

Beets- the last of the mid-season beets, these red, gold, and candy-striped pink beets are on the small side, but the new planting is coming on, and we should have fall beets soon. These beets are perfect for roasting- cut of tops, leaving leaf bases (and root skin) intact. Coat with olive oil, roast in a baking pan or cast iron skillet in a hot (400+) oven for 20-40 min (til soft)- skins will be crispy and caramelized; insides should be melting-tender.

Beet Greens OR Turnip Greens- OK, why are the beet greens separate from the beets? Because they're two different plantings of beets- the beetroots have been in the ground most of the summer and are the last of their "generation;" the beet greens are thinnings from one of our fall plantings. Baby beet greens AND turnip greens are excellent lightly steamed or sauteed- chop into bite-sized pieces (stems can be fibrous otherwise), quickly saute in olive oil, add lemon juice and/or vinegar. For beet greens, serve with crumbled goat cheese and pine nuts or walnuts. For turnip greens, serve with lemon or vinegar, salt, and optional sauteed onions/garlic.

Kale, Chard, or Collard Greens- Do you know Sukuma Wiki? It's a Swahili phrase that means "push the week"- to use greens to make leftovers go a little further. But it happens to be delicious even if you're fortunate enough to be rolling in vegetables (which I know many of our CSA members are). Please let me know how the quantity of greens (kale/chard/collards) has worked for you this year- too much? not enough? just right? need more variety? only want kale?

Potatoes- Dark Red Norland, a beautiful redskin potato with a moist, waxy, firm flesh. Excellent boiled, mashed (leave skins on for color contrast), or in potato salad.

Leeks! First of the season- try Potato-Leek Soup for classic fall comfort food (this recipe calls for chives on top; I like to use whatever fresh herb I have on hand- dill is good, parsley, sage, thyme, or fennel are also delicious). You can also use leeks interchangeably with onions. The dark green sections can be fibrous; if you cook with them, chop them finely across the grain. They're perfect for making soup stock, along with any leek scraps you generate. I usually keep a plastic bag in the freezer door, into which I pop any good, tasty veggie or herb scraps I may want to put into stock when I have time. This week I added leek leaves, onion skins, and thyme branches (I used the leaves from a fresh bunch of thyme but the branches are still flavorful and perfect for stock).

Onions- this week we've got cipollini AND a mix of red and yellow storage onions.

Garlic- it's an allium-rich share!

Herbs: Dill, Cilantro or Basil, your choice.

Tomatoes- both cherry tomatoes and big heirloom slicers.

Beans- either Jade (green beans), Tongue of Fire (purple-streaked, flat-podded beans), or Gold of Bacau (gold, flat heirloom pole beans).

Melons! Cantelope, tropical (green-fleshed) Aravas, white-fleshed Honey Pearl, or a mix of watermelons. Saturday people- be sure to get your melons. We don't put them in the boxes usually because they're so heavy they could break the bottoms of the boxes. So be sure to pick up your melons from the market table. If you missed melons last week (a couple of people did), make sure to take extras this week.


1. This was Julie DiFranco's last week at Birch Point. We'll miss you Julie! Thanks for an excellent season, have fun in California, and I hope to see you later this fall! Remember the CSA member survey Julie sent out early this season? We had such spotty response that she switched gears and started taking pictures instead. Next time you're at the farm, check out the beautiful photo album she made of BPF farm shots and CSA members. And please bring hard copies of any BPF farm photos you can contribute!

2. Thanksgiving Shares Are Back! Can you imagine the end of November without farm-fresh greens, heirloom onions, hearty root veggies? Thanksgiving Shares are a one-time only box of BPF veggies the week of T-day. We include storage crops like potatoes, cabbage, onions, carrots, rutabaga and other root veggies, and leafy fresh things from either the field or hoophouse (depends on the weather, but will almost certainly include spinach, salad mix or big lettuce, kale and/or chard, parsley and/or other fresh herbs). In the past we've included winter squash and/or pie pumpkins. We've had a terrible winter squash crop this year, so regular-season shares will probably get all the squash and pumpkins. Thanksgiving shares are $35. We'll offer up to 20, first-come, first-served. Please email me if you'd like to reserve a Thanksgiving share, and spread the word- CSA members and non-members alike are welcome to order.

3. Winter Shares available soon- we're still working out the details, but I THINK we'll offer an all-greens winter share, possibly with the option of adding on storage veggies (potatoes, onions, cabbage, other root veggies). BPF will be at the winter market in Building 50 @ the TC Commons every Saturday from 10-2 starting in November and going into January. We'll plan to take a break sometime in January through February, and resume winter markets in March.

4. Birch Point honey available NOW from Greg Griswold and Champion Hill Farm (our beekeeper). For CSA members only, BPF honey available for $12 per quart. For Tuesday people, we'll have a bulk bucket at CSA pickup. Bring your own quart jar; we'll fill it for you. For Saturday people, bring an empty quart jar (or two or seven), clearly marked with your name, to CSA pickup. The following week you'll get it back full of BPF honey! Cash or checks payable to Birch Point Farm. Non-members can also buy BPF honey for $14 per quart after members are full up.

Friday, September 23, 2011

BPF CSA Week 15 News

Hey friends, I've been lax about this newsletter- sorry to leave you hanging! We're on week 15 of CSA already! Since we guarantee 18 weeks and will go up to 22, weather permitting, we have between 3 and 7 more weeks- my best guess is we'll do 20 weeks, which means five more pick-ups for you. It may be more; I'll keep you updated so no one misses a share or shows up for food after we're done! Honey is in- bring a jar when you come for pick-up! More news later...

What's in Your Share This Week?

French Fingerling potatoes- delicious fingerling variety which, once it sizes up (almost beyond a fingerling in size), develops a beautiful red pattern inside its yellow flesh- cut cross-sections for visual impact.

Carrots- It's been a few weeks, and this is the last of the mid-season carrots. The late carrot planting is still on the small side, so it'll be a couple of weeks til you see more, but you'll see plenty by the end of the season!

Collard Greens, Kale, or Chard- the first collards of the season. I like to wait til after the frost to harvest them, as they get so so sweet, but these were so tender and delicious already, I couldn't resist. Use just like kale, OR do it the southern way (like my grandmother- saute an onion, add chopped collards, a ham bone, and water or stock. and boil til you can hardly recognize leaves anymore)(I tend to cook them less- til they're just bright green -not gray- and serve with an acidic condiment like chopped tomatoes, vinegar, or lemon juice)

Onions- Italian cipollini (sweet, flattened, coin-shaped- red or white) or Rossa di Milano (looks like the Italians have BPF onions cornered this week) red onions

Garlic- still no vampires!

Baby greens- either spicy salad mix or baby spinach; more of both to come soon.

Beans- either Jade green beans or Gold of Bacau flattened, yellow pole beans

Heirloom Tomatoes- you'll probably enjoy a mix of Crnkovic, Great White, Striped German, Valencia, Japanese Trifele, Moskvich, Rutgers, Eva Purple Ball, Orange Smudge, Wapsapinicon Peach, Cherokee Purple, Ananas Noire, and more. We harvested so many ripe and not-quite-ripe tomatoes last week before the "frost" (which never came) that we have a TON of ripe and nearly-ripe tomatoes. And more are coming! Just holler if you need a bushel or half bushel for canning, dehydrating, roasting and freezing, or just eating.

Hot peppers- a mix of jalapenos and serranos this week, and soon you'll also see Czech Black, Limon, and possibly others.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

BPF CSA Week 13 News

What's In Your Share This Week?

Potatoes! A red, white, and blue mix of Yukon Golds, Adirondack Red (red skin with red flesh), and Adirondack Blue (blue skin with blue flesh)

Basil- enough for a delicious caprese salad or topping for pasta or grilled summer squash. Please email the farm if you'd like a 1-lb bag ($10 for CSA members) for pesto preserving!

Baby Arugula- we're back on the baby greens bandwagon. Soon you'll see baby spinach, baby kale, baby spicy mix, and baby lettuces again. This arugula was hoophouse-grown, so it's extra tender (the diffuse light and protection from wind in the hoophouse makes for super tender greens) The flea beetles still found it, though, so it's "lacy," since we don't use any insecticides on it.

Heirloom Tomatoes (medium and large slicers, all kinds) - please see separate post and facebook posting about the delectable heirlooms at Birch Point this year. Also, see Recipes section for a yummy-sounding tomato and white bean salad. Do you need preserving quantities of tomatoes? Paste varieties will be available soon, for sauce, paste, and salsa canning. Any heirloom tomato makes a GREAT roasted, frozen treat, though- just slice, lay in a single layer on a baking sheet, brush with olive oil, and roast in the oven until caramelized on the top and edges. Cool, freeze in jars or ziploc bags, thaw when ready for a burst of summer flavor this winter.

Cherry Tomatoes- we are still harvesting mad amounts of cherry tomatoes from the hoophouse, and the field cherry tomatoes are finally yielding heavily, too. You'll keep seeing a mix of Sungolds (round, orange, sugar bombs), Fargo Yellow Pear (just like it sounds), Black Cherry (round, deep purple-brown), and Juliet (red, roma-esque in shape, but a delicious cherry-type tomato nonetheless). Soon you may also see Reisentraube (small red cherry tomatoes) and/or a few other surprises!

Summer Squash and Zucchini- CSA members, I want to thank you for absorbing huge quantities of these things into your diets- we had the biggest bumper crop EVER of pattypans, yellow crooknecks, zucchini, tondo chiaro, ronde de nice, eightball, and "lemon" squash (yellow squash that resemble lemons or lightbulbs) this year! So you've seen a lot of them. They've also been a hot seller at farmers' markets, thank goodness. My favorite things to do with any and all of these is shish kabob (small ones or cubed large ones), grilled (halved small ones or sliced large ones), or fried in butter with fresh herbs on top. I've also made a few mean zucchini lasagne- slice zukes lengthwise and sub for lasagna noodles, with all the normal filling and toppings. OR (just when my enthusiasm had expired for these guys)- try sending large zukes and summer squash through a Spiralizer! My friend Vicki Fritzlan introduced me to this amazingly weird and funny-looking piece of kitchen equipment just in time for zucchini season. You can make long, elegant "noodles" out of just about anything- zucchini, summer squash, winter squash, carrots, beets, kohlrabi, eggplant, you name it. And for zukes and squash, they're ready to eat raw! No cooking required- just a delicious marinara or vinaigrette. It has been so much fun making raw "spaghetti" with different colored veggies this summer- brings back memories of my playdough hair salon extruder-thingy from childhood (but tastes a lot better).

Cucumbers- same thing. What a year for cukes! I hope you've enjoyed the regular slicers, lemon cucumbers, and Suyo long (Asian, curly, knobby "burpless" cukes) varieties. If you need bushels or half-bushels of picklers for gherkins or dills, or large cukes for bread-and-butter pickles, let me know via email. The small pickling varieites will start to come on late this month (we planted them later because I knew I, for one, would not have time to pickle til late in the season), and we have plenty of big slicers now.

Kale or Chard-always your choice, and there are always extras. If you eat a lot of these bold, leafy greens, just ask if you need more. We have plenty this time of year to share with CSA members (and plenty to sell to non-members). We'll have limited quantities of fresh kale, chard, and other greens from the hoophouse this winter, so freeze now if you know you'll want a lot after November! Recipes section for a stuffed summer squash with tomatoes, kale, etc. that we had for lunch here at the farm yesterday.

Beans! Gold of Bacau pole beans- these super-long, flattened pale yellow beans are my favorites, as of last year. Their flavor is sweet, texture crisp and so juicy, and they stay tender and yummy even when huge, unlike green beans (my pet peeve: gigantic, starchy, chewy beans. ack). Farmers' market customer Barb Piskor suggests a very quick saute with thinly sliced garlic, and dressed with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil and rice vinegar, sprinkled with black sesame seeds- this sounds so beautiful and delicious I had to share it with you (I might add to that a handful of coarsely chopped purslane, since I'm on a purslane kick- optional).

Sweet onions and/or red onions- we're finally working our way through the early (sweet, non-storage) onions and moving onto the later season onions. You may see red onions, white, yellow, or red Cipollini (small, Italian, flattened "coin" shaped onions), or a variety of yellow storage onions later on. All but the sweet Walla Wallas should last for months under proper storage conditions (cool, moist). Use sweet onions for fresh eating, grilling, sauteing, or caramelizing and freezing for later use.

Garlic- if anyone's had enough of the stinking rose, let me know! We'll keep including it in shares unless you say otherwise. It will keep for months in cool, dry conditions, OR if you have a garlic backlog, and you don't have a cool, dry storage spot, try making your own minced garlic in olive oil. Peel and cuisinart all the cloves you've got to a finely minced size, pack tightly into a jar, cover, and store in the fridge for months. It's just like the little jars of minced garlic available in stores, but tastes better! Make sure that the olive oil is in contact with all cut surfaces- you may want to stir it into the garlic before packing down in the jar and then covering with more oil, to block oxidation of the garlic.

1. Birch Point honey available from Greg Griswold and Champion Hill Farm (our beekeeper). For CSA members only, BPF honey available for $12 per quart. For Tuesday people, we'll have a bulk bucket at CSA pickup. Bring your own quart jar; we'll fill it for you. For Saturday people, bring an empty quart jar (or two or seven), clearly marked with your name, to CSA pickup. The following week you'll get it back full of BPF honey! Cash or checks payable to Birch Point Farm. Non-members can also buy BPF honey for $14 per quart after members are full up.

2. Preserving Shares Available for farm members and friends- Tomatoes (either slicers for roasting/freezing/canning, or paste for sauce/paste)by the lug. Basil in 1-lb bags for pesto, etc. Cucumbers (either big slicers for bread-and-butter pickles, or small picklers for whole dills, etc). Other crops may be available - just ask if you have a freezing/canning project in mind.

3. Local, chemical-free, free-range meat available: Bare Knuckle Farm in Northport has a few pigs still available for order, either whole or half. These pigs, a Duroc-spot cross, have been raised in Gene Garthe's organic cherry orchard, working to clean up drops, which reduces the plum cucurlio population, minimizing damage to fruit and/or need for sprays. Whole pig= around 200 lbs, half = around 100 lbs. $3.85 per lb. Contact Jess or Abra at Bare Knuckle also has geese and ducks available, and Birch Point may have stewing chickens available in the fall, on request. Contact Jess, Abra, or Michelle for more info.

Field Notes

A couple of our friends (Giving Tree Nursery near Interlochen and Bare Knuckle Farm in Northport) have already gotten frost as of today! Luckily, because of our situation on top of a hill and near water, Birch Point rarely gets hit by the earliest fall frosts. My heart did hurt to hear of wilted squash vines and icy car windows at other farms, though. Except tomatoes and melons, which are peaking right now, our summer crops (cukes, zukes, summer squash, beans, carrots, beets, broccoli, cabbage, herbs, flowers) have been peaking for several weeks!
So I'd like a few more weeks for canning tomatoes (and pickling cukes), peppers, eggplants (which are barely yielding yet),and melons, but I will be happy to welcome fall to the farm when it comes. Even with cold nights and misty mornings, it still feels like summer until frost claims the lives of the hot crops, usually in October. And then we'll be ready for potato-leek soup, roasted rutabaga, baked winter squash, pasties, colcannon (Irish potato-kale dish), and cobblers and pies from all the fruit we've squirreled away in jars and in the freezer.
Next farm work party: Chicken coop mural painting! Tarek, our superstar farm volunteer, has been working to build this Rolls Royce of movable chicken coops this summer, and Sue Green has welded these amazing modified bike wheels onto the frame,and it's almost time to weatherproof and decorate the outside! The last Saturday in September (Sept. 24) is the date, time TBA. Scrounge up all your old exterior paint cans (or interior, if it's great colors, but we need it to be weatherproof, so the more exterior paint, the better). Then.... stay tuned for Garlic planting! It will be the last week of October or first week of November, maybe a costume party on halloween! Check back for actual date, and work up your best garlicky potluck dish for the event.


Stuffed Summer Squash with Heirloom Tomatoes, Kale, Garlic, and other CSA goodies

BIG summer squash, round ones (e.g. eightball zukes, tondo chiaro di toscano, ronde de nice), spaceships (overgrown pattypans), or long ones (e.g. regular zucchini, costata romanesca- the ribbed zukes, overgrown yellow crooknecks.

Onions, chopped and sauteed
Garlic, chopped and sauteed
Tomatoes, chopped
Fresh basil, chopped
Kale or chard, chopped
Bulgur wheat, uncooked (or cooked quinoa or rice if you're gluten-free)
Boiling water,twice as much as the bulgur (you'll add it to squash just before baking)
Olive oil
Cheese- I used a combo of mozzarella, monterey jack, and parmesan, but any nice melty cheese for the inside and hard grate-able cheese for the top will do.
optional: chopped walnuts or pine nuts (a good handful)

I can't give quantities, because how much you need depends entirely on how big your squash is, but think of it as a bulgur "pilaf" stuffing (about 4 parts bulgur to 2 parts kale to 2 parts tomatoes to one part each onion, garlic, and basil, and lots of everything else)

Slice tops off round squash as if to carve a halloween pumpkin, and scoop out seeds. For long squash, slice in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Arrange squashes in a 9x13 pan or square pan (or, I used a gigantic round squash that just happened to fit perfectly in a small, round ceramic casserole dish- whatever they fit into snugly, so the sides of the dish and the other squashes keep them from tipping over). Drizzle insides with olive oil and salt. Mix dry bulgur, kale, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and basil (and nuts) in a bowl with a generous quantity of salt and pepper and chopped melty cheese. Scoop into hollowed out squashes- since the bulgur has to cook in the squash, don't pile higher than the sides of the squash- keep it level. Pour boiling water into squashes, over bulgur mixture (if using cooked rice or quinoa, skip this step). You want to approximate a 1:2 bulgur:boiling water ratio, so large squashes will get more, small ones less. Don't worry if it's not exact; just fill the squashes with boiling water. Drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil, and grate parmesan on top of each one. For round squashes, put the tops back on. Cover with foil. Bake at 400 for 30-60 min, depending on the size of the squash- they're done when the flesh is soft to the touch. Before serving, grate more fresh parmesan on top.

Arugula-Seasonal Fruit Salad

1 bag (or 1/2 bag) baby arugula
1 small cantelope, peeled, seeded, and thinly thinly sliced or shaved
1 super-ripe pear, peeled, cored, and also thinly sliced or shaved
1-2 handfuls ripe blueberries
lemon juice or cider vinegar
olive oil
coarse salt and pepper

Toss everything together. Enjoy. ;)

Heirloom Tomato and White Bean Salad recipe from Local Harvest

Monday, September 5, 2011

Birdland photos

Ducks and Chickens- shots from the ducks' first day at Birch Point. The ducklings have almost doubled in size since these shots were taken. (note: the camera used to take these photos had its date set to 2007; these are actually current photos, though!) This first one is "Flipper" the protective papa duck who will hyperventilate and waggle his tail at you if you approach acting like a human or other possible predator.

Week 11 AND 12

Late August/Early September Haiku:

Time flies. Newsletters
/ forgotten- crops must be picked.
/ Cucumbers in charge.

Last week AND the week before were full of summer bounty- all the heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, and the very beginning of melons, peppers, eggplants....
You got many of these things plus kale, chard, beets, carrots, sweet onions, herbs like thyme, dill, or chives, elephant-head amaranth (ornamental flowers) for drying, sweet little celery and cabbages, the last of the summer kohlrabi (more to come for fall!), and garlic.
Perhaps I'm forgetting something, but it's comfort food season- things most of us grew up with and know how to use. i.e. no radicchio, no daikon, no tatsoi. (If you grew up with these, I'm jealous!) August and September are the "heart of the season" around here, hence the name of our 6-week summer share. I trust you know how to use kale and chard by now (if those were exotic at first)- at the very least, you can blanch and freeze them to use in soups, lasagne, calzones, etc. in the winter, if you can't eat them all now. If you're at a loss as to what to do with all those cucumbers, try simple refrigerator pickles (if not full-on canned, brined pickles) (note: there are lots of variations on dill pickles out there; I have not used this recipe yet, but it looks promising. I have also added grape leaves to cucumber pickles to help maintain crispness- check that out before you embark on a pickle project- no one wants soggy pickles!).