Wednesday, October 26, 2011

BPF CSA Week 20 News- the second-to-last week!

In Your Share This Week:

Butternut or Fairy Squash- Fairy is the same speckled-skin squash you got last week; butternut is a classic tan-skinned tall squash that stores wonderfully- it actually improves in flavor after curing for a month or two, if you can wait that long ;)
Onions- a mix of red and yellow storage onions
Garlic- either soft or hard neck (can you tell the difference?)
Hakurei Turnips OR
Kale, Chard, or Collard Greens- your choice- see Recipes section for Kale Chips, in case you haven't tried them yet!
Rutabagas! I hope you like these sweet, pungent relatives of the turnip as much as I do. You can do anything with a rutabaga that you do with a potato- mash, boil, fry, roast. You can even make Rutabaga cheesecake (no joke- see recipe section!)
Radicchio OR other salad greens- we had to pull the last fall radicchio out of the field (to keep deer away and stop slug damage, even though some of the heads weren't fully firmed up), and there was plenty for Tues pick-up, but Sat. pick-up will get either radicchio OR some other greens- spicy mix, spinach, or lettuce.
Fennel OR Kohlrabi- both these fall crops are tiny, taking their sweet time to size up, but still tasty as babies. We wanted to be sure everyone got to taste fennel, especially if it's new to you, so you may get a baby fennel plant- use it just like big fennel, "tip to tail."
Cherry Tomatoes- sweet treats, though you can probably taste the fall-tomato flavor from shorter colder days (more sun=more sugar in the fruits during summer; fall tomatoes are always more "tomatoey" and less sugary)
Heirloom slicing Tomatoes- can anyone get tired of tomatoes? Not I! I just skimmed past newsletters (from past years) and learned that this is the latest we've EVER had tomatoes in CSA shares- hooray for the frost that never comes, or if it seems to have come, somehow still does not kill the tomato plants!(what the heck is going on here???)
Sweet Peppers- the very last of these mixed bell, Carmen, chocolate, and a few other varieties. All the big or medium peppers are sweet, even if they look like they may be hot- there are sweet varieties besides bells! Most of these are still green, but we wanted to pull them from the plants before frost killed them. So enjoy this very last pepper offering of the season.
Hot peppers- you may see three different varieties- serrano, which look like skinny green (or red) fingers, and are slightly hotter than a jalapeno, Czech Black, a tasty mid-sized, pendant-shaped hot pepper that starts out black but matures to a dark, brick red, and Limon - small schoolbus-yellow hotties with a distinct citrus flavor in addition to that capsicum heat.


1. Garlic!
On Friday, November 4, we’ll finally get our garlic in
the ground for next year. Garlic planting is always a nice bookend to the season- tucking the last crop into the ground and mulching, before the snow falls. It's full of hope and plans for the next season. And garlic is always one of the first green things to sprout in the spring! Please join us any time after 3 p.m. Nov. 4th for planting. Wear warm work clothes and bring/wear rain gear just in case. All ages and abilities welcome! Bring apples and a jug to take home cider, or a mug to sample cider in the barn. Stay after for a potluck in the house! Or skip the garlic planting and just come for the potluck- everyone is welcome.
Garlic, a pungent member of the onion family,
is an extremely hardy plant that does
best in our climate when planted in
the fall, just long enough before the
ground freezes to establish roots.
Then in the spring, warm soil
temperatures and spring rains
stimulate growth of the aboveground
leaves and scapes, or
flowering stems. Some of you might
remember these funny-looking, curly items from early summer shares. We'll also plant a patch of densely-spaced cloves to be harvested early for green garlic- remember that? There are so many more ways to use this plan than just the traditional mature clove. Vampires, beware!

2. Winter Shares- several folks have committed to supporting the farm this season via winter shares. Thank you! Shares are still available. There is no form/contract to fill out; just send a note with your name, email, address, and phone, and a check for $50 to $500, depending on how much produce you'll need this winter. Your account will be credited with $55 to $550 (a 10% yield on your "investment"), and debited each time you shop from our table at the winter market or order via the email list. This modified-CSA allows greater flexibility on all our parts. It also makes a great gift for friends who you know love fresh greens in winter!

3. Loving Dog Needs Home- Remember Levi, the sweet, skinny, brindle boxer who lived here this summer? Vicki and the kiddos have moved back into town, into a lovely little rental house that doesn't allow pets. Levi has been staying with friends, but he needs a more permanent home. He's wonderful with kids, adults, and other pets. The thing he loves most in life is to play- with other dogs, people, and/or toys. He's a very undemanding guy (unlike some other black-and-white dogs around here). We learned recently that he had giardia, which is partly why he's so skinny, but he's been treated for that and is getting back to a normal weight. He is one of the sweetest, if funniest-looking, dogs I've ever met. I like this guy a lot; I just can't take another dog here right now- I really hope he finds the right home! Please email Vicki directly if you're interested:

Field Notes

It's a gray, blustery fall week in Leelanau county, and it is fall clean-up time on the farm. As I write this, Jason is winding up the last of the drip (irrigation) tape and taking down tomato trellises. The giant old box elders outside the farmhouse are holding onto only a third of their leaves (the rest, on the ground, will end up in the compost pile if we get a chance to rake before it snows). The winter crops (baby salad, spinach, kale, chard, turnips, radishes, lettuce, Asian greens, parsley) are rooting down into their beds in the hoophouse, eking out a few more weeks of growth while the days are still long enough to photosynthesize enough to grow.
Chickens and ducks have been moved to their new yard- still behind the red barn, but on the north end of the garden there, rather than adjacent to the barn (come check out Chicken Tunnel #2- they seemed to remember how to use it, and the ducks finally got the hang of it, too). Depending on when we get snow, the birds may get one more fresh yard before winter, or that may be their last spot before we move them back adjacent to the barn for winter (I'd like to build a roof over part of their yard to encourage them to go outside more. Last winter they hid inside whenever snow was covering the ground, which was most of winter- those chickens.)
We've planted winter rye as a cover crop in the garden nearest the house (where the cucumbers, melons, and summer squash grew this year- what we call the "Old Garden"), in the big back field near the bees (the "Back Field"), in the southern half of the garden behind the red barn (the "Red Barn Garden"), and next to the fall brassicas in the garden just north of the house (the "North Garden"). The rye is just sprouting; maybe you'll see a subtle green carpet in those gardens next week at the last Tuesday CSA pickup, or at the Nov. 4th garlic party/potluck. In the spots that are still in crops (the fall brassicas in the North Garden, the beans, beets, Asian greens, and lettuce in "Rhubarb Row"-the garden just downhill from the rhubarb, and the leeks, scallions, and spinach in the Red Barn Garden), I'm going to interplant rye with the crops that are still there. It's pushing the too-late edge of rye planting season, but at the very least, it will germinate, root, help prevent soil erosion this winter, and grow a lush rye stand in the spring.
We've had enough not-bone-chillingly-cold temperatures that people have been able to work full days with only one or two hot tea breaks. I'm about to rent a dumpster to finally get rid of all the stuff we cleaned out of the garage and basement (back in the spring! but then the season started- so now we start to pick back up where non-farm projects left off around April). We'll have a fire circle at the Nov. 4th potluck, weather permitting - there is plenty of scrap wood in the burn pile!
Still to do: get all the reemay (frost fabric), tags, buckets, plastic trays and pots, flagging tape, wire hoops, rocks and logs and other CRAP out of the fields and yard. Last year the snow caught us with drip tape still in the field, and it was a mess to extricate and try to untangle this year. Never again, I said. So far, fall cleanup has gone smoothly. We've had enough dry weather that the drip tape and frost fabric we're taking out of fields is dry (not muddy) enough to go right into storage. The rest of the potatoes still in the field will go directly into the house basement, which serves nicely as a root cellar. The onions and garlic still curing in the barn will go down there, too. Carrots and beets still in the field will be harvested until snowfall, then either sold at market en masse, mulched in place (to be harvested later this winter), or stored in the basement, too. Leeks still in the field will be picked even after snowfall- they're super hardy. We may pull the last few and store them in the basement, but if they sell well at market, we may not need to.
My friend Laura has become the first "food preservation" member at Birch Point - this past month she's taken all the seconds or damaged crops that we can't sell or won't keep, and she's frozen, dehydrated, pickled, or canned them all, in exchange for keeping part of the product! This has been a dreamy and very productive relationship- thanks SO MUCH, Laura!
OK, next week is our last week of pickup. I have SO enjoyed getting to know you and grow food for you this season. For those of you continuing on with a winter share, we'll segway directly into it starting at the first indoor market (Nov. 5) and the first email blast (week of Nov. 7). As soon as I get a check from you, you can start using your winter account to shop at market and from the email list. For those of you not taking part in winter shares, I look forward to seeing you at the winter market anyway! And next season. For now, though, see you next week!


Rutabaga Cheesecake!
From Asparagus to Zucchini (an old edition- I'm pretty sure it's NOT in the most recent edition)
The first time I was served this treat
at a potluck, I was pretty sure the
cooks were pulling my leg when they
said “rutabaga” and “cheesecake” in
the same breath, let alone the same
dish. But it is no joke; it is a
cheesecake (how can you go wrong?
Not even with rutabaga, as unlikely
as it sounds!). And it is delicious.
3 cups cubed rutabaga
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 2/3 cup fine graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin or agar
½ cup cold water
¾ cup sugar, divided
½ tsp. salt
½ cup milk
3 eggs, separated
1 cup whipping cream
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. grated orange zest
Boil rutabaga in boiling salted water
until just tender. Drain and puree in
blender or whip by hand; cool and
place in large bowl with cream
cheese; set aside. Mix graham
cracker crumbs and butter. Reserve
¼ cup and press remainder on
bottom of 9-inch springform pan.
Chill. Soften gelatin or agar in
cold water in top pan of small double
boiler. Add ½ cup sugar, salt, milk,
and slightly beaten rutabaga mixture
until smooth and blended. Cool.
Beat egg whites until foamy; add
remaining ¼ cup sugar and beat
until stiff. Whip cream and fold into
cheese/rutabaga mixture; fold in
whipped egg whites. Fold in vanilla
and orange zest. Pour into prepared
pan, sprinkle with reserved crumbs
and chill until firm. Makes 10-12

Kale Chips- have you heard? it's all the rage at the farmers' market....

Baked Kale Chips-this particular recipe was lifted from smittenkitchen
Adapted from a bunch of inspiring places

1 bunch (about 6 ounces) kale (I used Lacinato or “Dinosaur” Kale but I understand that the curlier stuff works, too, possibly even better)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 300°F. Rinse and dry the kale, then remove the stems and tough center ribs. Cut into large pieces, toss with olive oil in a bowl then sprinkle with salt. Arrange leaves in a single layer on a large baking sheet (I needed two because mine are tiny; I also lined mine with parchment for easy clean-up but there’s no reason that you must). Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp. Place baking sheet on a rack to cool.

Kale-Dusted Popcorn If you’re making the chips with the intention to grind them up for popcorn, I’d use less oil — perhaps half — so they grind without the “powder” clumping. I ground a handful of my chips (about half) in a mortar and pestle (well, actually the “pestle” was MIA so I used the handle of an OXO reamer, not that anyone asked) and sprinkled it over popcorn (1/4 cup popcorn kernels I’d cooked in a covered pot with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil over medium heat, shaking it about with potholders frequently). I seasoned the popcorn with salt. I liked this snack, but I think Parmesan and Kale-Dusted Popcorn would be even more delicious. Next time!

That’s it for now; have a great week.

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