Friday, December 12, 2014

Birch Point Fall-Winter CSA Week 7: the penultimate week

Warm weather!  Thursday was the loveliest day since summer, I believe. I hope you all got outside for a good stretch of Thursday. Friday wasn't bad either... this reprieve from bitter cold and gray has got spirits up, even though the ground is still frozen solid.  We'd love to harvest the last few root veggies that were still in the ground when the deep freeze hit, but it may be next week before that happens.    In good news, the sunshine has warmed up the hoophouse to the point where the baby greens are harvestable!  Most things we grow in the winter hoophouse can handle a certain amount of freezing and thawing (e.g. kale, spinach, arugula, lettuce, claytonia, parsley), but quality is much higher when the greens aren't actually frozen solid at the time of harvest! Today they were nicely thawed out and perky, so we were able to harvest a lovely winter salad of arugula, baby kale, and a smattering of lettuce-- mainly arugula and kale, a handful of red lettuce just for color.  Hope you enjoy this special treat!
Remember: next week is our final week of CSA for the fall-winter season.   We look forward to seeing you-- if shares are outside of Bldg 50, be sure to come say hello when you pick up your box!

In This Week's Share

Winter Squash-the squash we carefully harvested, cleaned, sorted, and stored is just starting to show signs of not loving its storage life-- parts of the squash field sustained minimal frost damage this fall before harvest, which can shorten storage life.  We've been on the lookout for rot all fall, and I'm impressed that it's just now showing up.  Squash normally keeps for several weeks up to several months, but once soft spots develop, the best thing is to use it up or cook and freeze it for later.
For maximum storage life (of non-compromised squash), keep at approx 50 degrees F in a relatively dry environment.  Attics or garages that stay well above freezing, spare rooms that are minimally heated, or root cellars with good ventilation are all good for squash storage. What's bad for squash storage: temps too close to freezing or much above 60 degrees F, high humidity, bruising.

Brussels sprouts- the last of these little lovelies for the season!  Brenin harvested them frozen earlier this week, and they are still so sweet and tender, if on the small side.  If you think you're (or someone in your household is) not a Bsprout fan, try this: trim and clean, and slice super thinly across sprouts, then fluff into a frizzy, fluffy pile (basically destroying the evidence that they started out as sprouts).  Saute onions with olive oil or butter til tender and browned, add shredded sprouts and a generous sprinkle of salt, saute on med heat til bright, bright green and tender.  If it starts to dry out or stick, sploosh in a spoonful or two of water. Toss in pan with balsamic vinegar and/or lemon juice- balsamic vinegar will add more sweetness, lemon more acidity.  I also like to throw in some dried cherries or cranberries, chopped, at the last moment of cooking. There. See what the haters say now.

Rutabagas!  I think rutabagas are delicious.  The secret?  Bring out their sweetness- they ARE sweet, but also pungent.  If you love pungent, go for it; you're in your element.  If not, take advantage of caramelizing and maximizing surface area-- e.g. rutabaga fries (cut like steak fries, brush with olive oil and bake at 375 til brown and crisp on edges, soft at centers) with  ketchup OR spicy mayo (half-half mayo and your favorite hot sauce), rutabaga-and-potato gratin (see recipe below), rutabaga hash browns --use some combo of potatoes and rutabagas (half-half or any ratio, really), and mashed rutabaga (straight up roasted- not boiled- rutabaga OR mixed with potato).  These techniques maximize the transformation of starches into sugars, not changing the inherent rutabaga-ness, but allowing their inner sweetness to shine through.

Salad mix-- a winter combo of baby arugula, baby red Russian kale, and lettuces (barely any lettuce-- this is mostly arugula and kale).  These greens are so tender I hope you'll try them with the most nominal of dressing- e.g. olive oil and salt, grape seed oil and verjus (the hyper-local equivalent of olive oil and lemon juice), or the like.  Let the delicate greens shine as themselves rather than a vehicle for heavy dressings!

Onions- either Rossa di Milano (big red) or a mix of small reds and yellows.  Try chopped, roasted onions along with your rutabaga and carrot (and last week's potatoes if you still have some) in a roasted root medley.

Carrots- a rainbow mix of orange, purple, and/or white.  Enjoy fresh or roasted.  I made a lovely purple-and-orange carrot slaw the other day with just grated carrots and an apple, onions, toasted sunflower seeds, cilantro, a minced dried hot pepper, and a sesame oil-rice vinegar dressing. YUM!

Ida Red Apples- another installment of certified organic apples from our friend Gene, the organic orchardist in Northport. Ida Reds are great for fresh eating OR baking; they also store well if you can't use them immediately- keep them cold and humid (refrigerator=great, but anywhere that stays slightly above freezing is fine (breezeway, drafty attic, etc).

Rutabaga and Potato Gratin
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 lb. rutabagas, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 tbsp. minced thyme leaves
2 cups (about 4 oz.) grated
Gruyére cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 425°. Heat butter and oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 6 minutes. Stir in flour, and cook until smooth, about 1 minute. Add milk and cream, and stir until smooth. Add potatoes, rutabagas, and 2 tsp. thyme, and bring mixture to a boil; cook, stirring often, until vegetables are slightly tender and broken apart, about 5 minutes. Stir in half the cheese and salt and pepper, and then transfer to a 9″ × 13″ baking dish; top with remaining cheese and bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining thyme before serving.

And an Even Fancier (more delicious sounding) Brussels Sprout Recipe
Brussels Sprouts Chiffonade with Caramelized Onions

Friday, December 5, 2014

Birch Point Fall-Winter CSA Week 6

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!  Brenin was out in Portland visiting old and new friends, and Jess and I hosted all our parents plus a handful of friends here at the farm for dinner-- check out some menu/recipe suggestions at the end of this blog inspired by our Tday dinner (it was delicious and almost entirely raised/grown by the people at the table!).
Note: we were packing shares as dusk turned to darkness this evening.  While we're careful to sort and select the nicest produce for your shares, it can be difficult in the dark, as you might imagine, to be as thorough as we'd like ;)   IF you find squash with soft spots, or a green potato, for example, please let us know-- it's possible we missed some!  Suggestion: if you ever are faced with squash with soft spots, the best thing is to cook it and freeze the cooked squash ASAP-- it'll keep for months in your freezer.

In this week's share:

Celeriac-- the alien-looking root veggie that's the most versatile winter food ever.  Use them any way  you'd use a potato- boiled, mashed, fried, roasted, pureed, etc.  Or go the traditional route and use in soups and stews-- chunked into bite sized pieces or pureed for creamy soup.  Save the skins (you have to peel these b/c it's nearly impossible to get all the grit out of the root hairs) and use in soup stock. I often find great recipes and info on other CSA farms' blogs and newsletters, and recently came across this celeriac page from Radical Roots farm in VT- enjoy!
Potatoes: either red (Red Maria), white (Katahdin) or red French fingerling. Oh potatoes, we'd be hard pressed to find a food as versatile and universally appreciated (perhaps celeriac ... one day!!!).
Leeks: hope you enjoy these lovely alliums as much as we do! Besides using leeks any way you'd use onions, also try them in this frittata recipe OR baked (sliced lengthwise) in a casserole dish with plenty of cream and/or plain yogurt, goat cheese, and bread crumbs. YUM.
Winter Squash: Kabocha or Buttercup (both dark green with sweet, flaky flesh-- even better than pumpkins for "pumpkin" pie, but so, so delicious baked whole/halved, or sliced into wedges, brushed with olive oil or melted butter, and roasted in a single layer on a cookie sheet).
Cabbage: harvested frozen solid out of the field, most of these cabbages are best for cooking rather than fresh eating. Chances are good they'd be fine fresh, but since we've had some REALLY cold nights without the protection of deep snow, it's possible the cell walls sustained enough frost damage to change the texture of the leaves-- which doesn't matter for cooking but can make fresh eating less satisfying. In honor of Jess's Polish heritage, and his dad's constant quest for good Polish food, here's a recipe for golumpki, or traditional stuffed cabbage rolls. Note: you can stuff cabbage with anything you like/anything you've got-- feel free to stray from the traditional suggestions!
Onions- sweet little roasting onions-- peel and roast whole or halved, OR slice and use exactly like large onions.
Sunchokes/Jerusalem Artichokes: a most versatile and tasty root veggie!  Check out this Brooklyn foodie's blog entry about sunchokes if you missed it the first time around.
Kale OR braising mix-- hoophouse-grown, the braising mix is a blend of kales, swiss chard, and parsley and can totally be eaten as salad if you're into non-lettuce salads. The big kale is from the field and as sweet as it ever can be!

Our Thanksgiving Feast (can be replicated any time this fall/winter!)

Roasted Winter Squash-- slice into 1" wedges, skins still on but seeds/inner pulp removed, brush generously with olive oil, arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake @ 365 for 20 min OR til tender and caramelized/browned around the edges. YUM.
Celeriac Remoulade-- a variation of Farmer John's involving matchsticked celeriac, chopped cornichons and capers, dijon mustard and mayo, lemon juice, salt and pepper. So tangy!
Turkey- raised, slaughtered, cooked, and served by our friend Andy (he called her Annabelle)
Chicory-Pomegranate seed salad: Finely chopped Sugarloaf chicory from our friends and neighbors Nic and Sara of Loma Farm, English walnuts from our friend Todd Springer of Gray's Fruit Farm on Old Mission, sliced Spygold apples from our friend Gene of Garthe Orchard in Northport, and gorgeous pomegranate seeds from our 24-hour pal, Fred Meijer. Toss with a lemon-olive oil-tarragon dressing.
Mashed potatoes with garlic- need I say more?
B&B (Beets & Brussels)- beets chopped and roasted, B-sprouts sliced in half or left whole and roasted. Tossed together with a light vinaigrette, served warm.
Tomato Tart from Kate Fiebing: (something like this recipe) her own garden's sungold cherry tomatoes, roasted and frozen back in August, brought out to share in the cold and grey of November! A savory pastry-crusted delight.
Panade with kale, tomatoes, and gruyere from Barbara Piskor- a savory "bread pudding" in a shallow baking pan. Yum!  Try panade with any combo of veggies you happen to have on hand.
Cornbread we made here, sourdough from Nic, and fruit-nut nearly-journey-bread from Nic.
Pumpkin, Pecan, Apple, and Chocolate pies from Barb Ferrarese and Kate Fiebing- drowned in Shetler's whipped cream of course.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Birch Point Fall-Winter CSA Week 4&5: Rolled into one box!

Remember: this week's box is the DOUBLE share, and next week (Sat. Nov 29), there is NO CSA pickup.  In case you missed earlier communications, members (you) voted to double up on this week's box, to ensure extra bounty for Thanksgiving!  And also to skip next week, since many folks will be out of town for Thanksgiving, and/or still in a food coma from Thursday :)

In this week's double share:

Beets: either giant specimens suitable for roasting or grating fresh, or smaller roots for boiling/roasting/steaming
Carrots: Rainbow mix of orange, purple, and white, many of which are small and perfect for roasting whole.
Potatoes: either gold or redskin
Onions: either yellow, red, or cipollini
Leeks: Life is bleak without a leek.  Use interchangeably with onions.  Stores well! (and don't believe anyone or any recipe who says to only use the white parts-- the green parts are totally edible and useable; just slice across the grain finely and cook a minute longer)
Cabbage: a savoyed (crinkly-leaved) variety called "Dead On," one of our faves! Use for slaw OR cooking.
Brussels sprouts: as per earlier note, be sure to double check sprouts on the lower end of the stalk for quality-- we sorted as much as we could, but may have missed some funky sprouts.  Slice in half to examine the insides.  Halved, caramelized sprouts make a lovely Thanksgiving dish on their own OR with cubed, roasted winter squash and sauteed leeks/onions, and sherry vinegar.  If your stalk happens to have leaves on it, slice them up and include them with your Brussels sprout dish and/or with your kale- delicious!
Kale: Holy kalesicles, batman!  Harvesting frozen solid kale from under the snow is an adventure, as you might imagine!  It also means the kale will be a little wilty when it reaches you-- never fear, just thaw out (if it's still icy), store and/or prepare as usual, and it'll be delicious-- extra sweet from the cold.
Winter Squash- You may see either Buttercup/Kabocha (dark green outside, with dry, flaky orange flesh inside-- makes the BEST "pumpkin" pies!!!), Potimarron (red, teardrop shaped, sweet and creamy), Sunshine (also red, but a kabocha type so a little dryer than Potimarron, which it closely resembles), or Blue Ballet- a baby hubbard-type, blue-gray, moist fleshed, and an excellent keeper, if you need to store it rather than use this week.
Celeriac- the funny-looking, alien-like root with hairy skin (requires peeling!) that tastes like celery but cooks up like a potato. In fact, mashed potatoes WITH celeriac is one of our fave Tday dishes!  They'll store reliably for a good long while, so no rush to use them up.  Once you're in the mood for a winter soup, celeriac will be happy to help.
Garlic-- also delicious with mashed potatoes. Or just about anything for that matter!
Parsnips- the tannish-white root veggie that resembles a fat carrot.  Look carefully at the long, white roots in your box-- some are parsnips; some may be white carrots!  Parsnips are slightly scraggly-looking (usually) with tan overtones. Carrots have a much thinner skin and slightly crispier texture.  You can always taste them to get a positive i.d- carrots taste like carrots; raw parsnips are similar but much earthier AND denser and slightly fibrous.  Cooked, parsnips are even sweeter than carrots, but raw parnsips are only for the hardiest palates and jaw muscles.
Last but not least- organic Apples from our friend Gene Garthe in Northport!  These are a variety know as Spy Gold, and excellent eating OR cooking apple.  Firm and slightly tart, they're delicious out of hand but also make an amazing pie or applesauce.  We hope you enjoy this special addition to our own farm-grown produce.

We hope you'll enjoy some lovely ROASTED ROOTS,
Cabbage-Apple-Pomegranate Salad,
Squash pie,
Caramelized Brussels sprouts with Squash and Cranberries,
Kale and Leeks (perhaps with chickpeas?)
and Apple-Celeriac Slaw
with your family and friends this week.

Thank you SO much for being part of the farm this fall!  Remember: no CSA pickup next week (Nov. 29).  We'll see you the following week (Dec. 6) as usual.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Birch Point Fall-Winter CSA weeks 1-3

Happy SNOW DAY!!!  Welcome to the first fall-winter CSA newsletter, in which you'll find a list of each week's share items, recipe suggestions, announcements that you need to know, and news from the farm. We'd been working to get the fields cleaned up (irrigation lines in, trellises down, the very last cover crop sown) before this snow, and mostly succeeded, though this is more snow than we'd anticipated for this early in November! Today's challenge was harvesting and cleaning produce from the snow-covered beds.  Things like root vegetables, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and leeks don't mind sub-freezing temperatures, but once the ground and the stalks freeze solid, as you can imagine, it's harder to pick them!  So we've got a bunch of crops harvested and in cold storage, but we'll continue to chip away at the greensicles in the field as long as possible, to bring you the freshest (if coldest) veg possible.  I have to say, as sexy as hoophouses are (and you'll see some baby greens from the hoophouse before this CSA session is over), I am WAY more impressed by plants that survive in the field in these conditions and continue to provide hearty, nutritious food until the snow/ice is so solid that we can't get to them, or the deer mow them to the ground. We hope you're enjoying the selection of delicious winter food so far-- your feedback is always appreciated!

Last week: 3 items may require explanation:
1. Braising Mix or Napa cabbage: some shares got sweet little napas; others got braising mix. We spoke with most of you in person about it, but if not, just FYI, that was a spicy mix! Intended for a quick steam or saute rather than as salad. Of course if you like it spicy, braising mix makes a fine salad, too ;) Napa makes a fine salad, slaw, or stir-fry-- the best of both worlds of lettuce and cabbage.
2. Celeriac-- the knobby, hairy root that smells and tastes like celery (the leaves look just like celery too)- the best winter stew, soup, or stock veggie!  Besides soup, celeriac is wonderful roasted or boiled and mashed with potatoes, and/or shredded and fried with potatoes.  It also keeps for several weeks (or more) in the fridge or in your root cellar. You'll see more celeriac this fall, so no need to hoard them.
3. Sunchokes/Jerusalem Artichokes-- not an artichoke at all, resembles ginger, and may stump you if you've never had them.  They are a tasty root veggie, native to North America, in the sunflower family, and you can use them any way you'd use a potato: bake, boil, fry, roast, OR (unlike a potato) eat raw- grated or thinly sliced into salad=yum. Here's a wonderful blog entry from a Brooklyn blogger about sunchokes- enjoy!

In this week's share:

Potatoes- Possibly the most versatile food ever...?  You'll continue to see a mix of various redskins, golds, German butterballs, fingerlings, etc.
Beets-either small with tops (fresh harvested!) or giant w/out tops (from storage). See below for a simple borscht recipe.
Cabbage-purple, green, or Deadon, which is a savoyed (crinkled) leaf cabbage that fades from robust purple outer leaves to pale green, tender inner leaves- one of our favorites.
Kale or Collard Greens- frozen and oh so sweet!  sometimes I wonder why we bother eating greens before they've been frosted-- cold temps turn starches to sugars, bringing out the best flavor possible. The leaves were a little zorched (read: soft) from freezing, but they are delicious as ever.
Leeks- Did you know you can use leeks exactly the same as onions?  They are slightly milder than most onions, hold up as well or better, and (I think) are more elegant.  and YES you can use the green parts!  I don't know why people say you can't- they're perfectly good. IF they're slightly more fibrous than the white sections, just slice them finely across the grain and saute a minute or so longer.  Or if you don't want green color in a dish you're preparing with leeks, be sure to save the green part for making soup or stock.
Onions- you'll continue to see a mix of red, yellow, and/or cipollini--tiny, flattened Italian heirloom onions-- note: they aren't always this small; the drought this summer was hard on them. In fact, there's a song about this year's cipollini (you'll get the tune): One-two, one-two, tell the people what we grew: We grew some itsy bitsy, teeny weeny, microscopic Cippollini.  But they're still delicious and perfect for roasting whole or halved ;)
Brassica Surprise: Either broccoli OR cauliflower OR romanesco (the green, fractalicious cousin of cauliflower- prepare the same way). As most things, harvested frozen solid from the snow- enjoy!
Hot peppers- yes, you've gotten a good amount already, and you may get more!  It turned out to be a good hot chile year.  If you can't use all those chiles in a week, try drying or freezing.  To dry: cut in half (large or juicy hot chiles), use a dehydrator or oven set at the lowest temp available with the door slightly ajar, dehydrate til dry.  Or thread onto a string (small, thin-skinned chiles), hanging in a well-ventilated, dry spot until dry.  Store in an airtight jar once thoroughly dry. To freeze: cut in half (or not), freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet or plate in the freezer, then seal in bag when frozen andreturn to freezer (IQF, or Individual Quick Freezing, to avoid a frozen pepper brick-- easier to remove individual peppers later, as you need them!)

Farmer John's Holmski Borscht Recipe ( 

Makes 6 servings

Farmer John's Holmski Borscht

Recipe Ingredients for Farmer John's Holmski Borscht

2tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3tablespoons (canola or olive) oil
1medium onion (chopped)
2large carrots (sliced)
4cups cabbage (shredded about 4 cups)
2tsp salt (and 20 whole pepper corns)
1potato (1 or 2)
1/3cup dill (plus 4 bay leaves and parsley)
2cloves garlic (minced)

Recipe Directions for Farmer John's Holmski Borscht

  1. Bring large pot of water to boil over high heat.
  2. Grate beets and saute for 10 min. in large skillet with half the oil and add the cider vinegar. Set aside.
  3. Put the rest of the oil in a skillet and add sliced carrots and onions and saute until onions are just translucent and carrots have browned on both sides.
  4. When the water boils add in cabbage and cook until tender (about 10 min.)
  5. Add potatoes and cook until tender 15 to 30 minutes.
  6. Add beet mixture and when soup returns to boil carrots and onions, 4 bay leaves and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook for 4 or 5 more minutes
  7. Remove from heat. Stir in dill, parsley, and garlic.
  8. Let soup stand for 20 minutes.
  9. Garnish with sour cream and dill

CELERIAC, POTATO, LEEK & APPLE SOUP from CSA member Diane Samarasinghe

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 leeks, white and light green part only, halved lengthwise, cleaned and sliced or chopped
Salt to taste
2 pounds celeriac, peeled and diced (retain tops for bouquet garni and garnish)
1 large russet potato (about 3/4 pound), peeled and diced
2 granny smith or braeburn apples, cored, peeled and diced
2 quarts water, chicken stock, or vegetable stock
A bouquet garni made with a bay leaf and a couple of sprigs each thyme and parsley, and a stem or two of the celery from the celery root, if still attached
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Slivered celery leaves for garnish
1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat and add the onion, leeks and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the celeriac and a generous pinch of salt, cover partially and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often, until the celeriac has begun to soften. Add the potatoes, apples, water or stock, salt to taste, and the bouquet garni. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 1 hour, or until the vegetables are very tender and the soup is fragrant. Remove and discard the bouquet garni.
2. Blend the soup in batches in a blender (cover the top with a towel and hold it down to avoid hot splashes), or through a food mill fitted with the fine blade. The soup should be very smooth. Strain if desired. Return to the pot. Stir and taste. Adjust salt, add freshly ground pepper, and heat through. Serve in small bowls or espresso cups, garnished with thin slivers of celery leaves.
Yield: 16 to 18 demitasse servings or 8 bowls
Advance preparation: You can make this a day or two ahead and reheat. The soup can be frozen, but you will need to blend it again when you thaw it.
Nutritional information per serving (8 servings): 134 calories; 2 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 0 grams polyunsaturated fat; 1 gram monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 28 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams dietary fiber; 128 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 3 grams protein
Nutritional information per serving (16 servings): 67 calories; 1 gram fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 0 grams polyunsaturated fat; 1 gram monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 14 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 14 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 2 grams protein

Friday, October 24, 2014

CSA Week 18: the End is Bittersweet- Appreciation and Gratitude

We'll miss you!  Hope to see you at the indoor market
in Bldg 50, Saturdays from 10-2, starting Nov. 1
Well, friends- this past week WAS the last week of CSA for the season (unless you joined early and got a message about your bonus share week- you know who you are).  What a wild season.  Brenin and I have loved working together this first season of collaboration.  We couldn't have asked for a better crew than Jae and Christina, who we think will both be back next year!  And our work shares-- best work sharers ever!  Not to mention farm members-- best group of farm members ever! The past few weeks have been defined, for me, by pregnancy-induced slowness and dependency, which is an incredible, humbling learning curve in itself, and everyone else around here has stepped up, and then some, to keep us on track.  They couldn't be more competent and productive, and I couldn't be more appreciative.   Thank you, members, SO much for weathering the nutty weather with us, and for all of your support through the skinny times and enthusiasm in the bountiful times!  Sorry it took so long to get this newsletter out, but I hope the suggestions below help navigate your last box. Whether you have a winter share or shop as market customers, we hope to see you all at the indoor winter market in Bldg 50, starting the 1st of November (Saturdays 10-2). -MF
Brenin's two cents: "You only know what you know until you do what you do"-BWR

AND-reminder! Party tomorrow (Sat Oct. 25) at Birch Point:

2-5 pm Garlic Planting- dress to get cold and/or muddy! Bring your favorite work gloves and 8" measuring stick.
5-6 pm Mingling and music in the Red Barn
6-7:30ish Potluck in the Red Barn-- Dress for cold weather; the barn is unheated. Bring a dish to share and your own place settings.

What's in Your Share This (Past) Week:

Winter Squash: a mix of Acorn, Sweet Dumpling, Delicata, Buttercup, Butternut, or Red Kuri.  Again, these should keep a few weeks at least-- if you see any soft spots developing before you're ready to enjoy them, just cook and freeze for later. The long-storing varieties (Butternut, hubbard, Eastern Rise, and to some extent kabocha/buttercups) may keep fine for several months; but they did get frosted, which can shorten their storage life, so keep an eye on them if you store them for later.
Potatoes: large or fingerling
Napa Cabbage: Jae Gerhart's favorite crop!  Time for kim chee, slaw, cabbage rolls, egg rolls, stir-fry, or simply marinated wedges grilled or roasted in the oven. There really isn't much you CAN'T do with a Napa cabbage.
Leeks and/or Onions- Leeks should store in an airtight container (e.g. sealed bag) in the fridge for WEEKS if you need them to. Onions do best in cool, dry conditions, like a root cellar, frost-free garage or unheated guest room.  Keep them on the kitchen counter if you'll use them in the next couple of weeks.
Celeriac/Celery Root-just like any root veggie, remove greens before storing to maximize crispness and shelf life (attached greens continue to transpire moisture away from roots, leading to rubbery roots. Remove greens and use first). *Think SOUP!
Beets OR Carrots- same (remove greens to store)
Sweet Peppers- the very last, but beautiful and still sweet!
Hot Peppers-your choice among hot paper lantern, limon, hinkelhatz, serrano, jalapeno, thai hot, and fish.
Romaine Lettuce- some of the last fall heads out of the field-- small but crisp and tasty.
Brussels Sprouts: they did size up in time for CSA to get the very first harvest!  If you think you're not a Brussels sprouts fan, please try these before you turn up your nose. Most bad experiences w/ B-sprouts are a result of store-bought (i.e. California-grown) sprouts, which have never seen a frost in their lifetime.  Frost sweetens sprouts and many other fall green veggies like nothing else can-- the extreme cold turns some of the starches to sugars, which is why late fall collard greens, kale, B-sprouts, and even cabbage taste sweeter than their summer counterparts. Since we did have a good frost last Wednesday in Grawn (where the B-sprouts are growing), they should be sweet and flavorful. See "Recipes" for preparation suggestions.  Heads Up:  B-sprouts have sustained a certain amount (10-20%) of damage from cabbage worms and from black rot.  We tried to sort out the infected plants and only give CSA the good ones, but if you get a stalk with worms and/or that is soft and black inside the sprouts, PLEASE let us know so we can replace it!  (the only way to tell for sure is to cut open every sprout, so we may miss a few) Reminder: If your stalk happens to have leaves on it, be sure to use them!  Brussels leaves are just as tasty as the sprouts themselves-- either use just like kale, or chop and toss into the pan along with your B-sprouts (and caramelized leeks with Balsamic vinegar reduction perhaps?).


Feeling Cheesy?  Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes with Leeks and Chives (can sub minced onions or minced, blanched leek greens for chives):

Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction
1 c. or more Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise (tiny ones can be whole)
Any/all leaves from the Bsprout stalk, trimmed and chiffonaded
1 small onion or 1/2 large leek, sliced thinly
1 c. toasted, chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Olive oil
Balsamic Vinegar (not fancy- just for cooking)
Coarse salt

Saute leeks or onion and a pinch of salt in a generous amount of olive oil in a med-large skillet over med heat for a few minutes until translucent. Increase heat to high, add a good sploosh more olive oil, and when hot (not smoking), add chiffonaded B-sprout leaves and halved sprouts, stirring to coat with oil.  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking, 3-5 minutes or until sprouts are nicely browned where in contact with the pan. Add enough balsamic vinegar to cover the bottom of the pan, and toss everything to coat.  Reduce heat to med-low, cook til vinegar is reduced to a thick syrup that coats everything, stirring occasionally.  Toss with nuts, more salt to taste, and a good amount of fresh ground pepper.  We served this for Thanksgiving last year-- even family members who claimed not to like Brussels sprouts loved it.
Variation: Asian-ish theme: substitute tamari or shoyu for balsamic vinegar, sub vegetable oil for olive oil but finish (to serve) with a good sploosh of toasted sesame oil, sub peanuts and/or sesame seeds for walnuts/pecans.
Before we know it, this will be
farm life again!
Back in the spring- our newest addition!
Your farmers at the Harvest
Gathering festival in Sept

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Oct. 18 Garlic Planting & Potluck CANCELLED due to weather. Rescheduled for NEXT Sat. Oct. 25- hope to see you here!

Oct. 18 Garlic Planting and Potluck CANCELLED due to weather.  Rescheduled for NEXT Sat. Oct. 25- hope to see you here!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

BPF CSA Week 17 Sweet and Pungent: Honey, Apples, and Garlic

This just in!

Get your Honey from the Birch Point Bees

thanks to Greg Griswold of Champion Hill Honey


Stock up on certified organic APPLES 

thanks to Gene Garthe of Garthe Orchards in Northport

Honey: Bring your jar(s) labeled with your name, and fill up from our bulk buckets.
 $6 per pint or $10 per quart.  First come, first served, til we run out! If you pick up in town (not at the farm), just leave an empty, labeled jar in your box when you return it. The following week your full jar of honey will be in your box. Please send payment to Birch Point Farm, 7506 E Birch Point Rd TC MI  49684.  If we have honey left by Saturday, Oct 18,  bring a jar with you to fill up at the Garlic Planting and Farm Member Appreciation Potluck that day.

Apples: This week Early Bird Special: $1 per lb for orders of at least 20 lbs of organic Honeycrisp or Golden 
Supreme (which is like a Golden Delicious but much better texture and flavor-- actually delicious).  Please email with your order  BY FRIDAY OCT 17.  After Friday, apples will still be available but at a slightly higher price.  Apples also available by the quart ($4 per qt). 
Available in a few weeks:  Swiss Gourmet, Ida Red, Elstar, and Spy/Spygold

Golden Supreme

In Your Share This Week:

Winter Squash: Acorn, Delicata, or Sweet Dumpling.  These are to use, not to store. These early varieties normally store well for a few months but not all winter like the butternuts and hubbards. In addition, some of the squash got frosted in the field, which reduces storage life, so eat these up!  If you can't use them in the next few weeks, and they start to develop soft spots, just bake now and store in an airtight container in your freezer til you need them.
Leeks and/or Onions
Brussels Tops OR Braising Mix: Have you tried Brussels greens?  From the same plant as the Brussels sprout, the greens are like collards but even better!  We're crossing our fingers that the Brussels sprouts themselves will be sized up by next week (the last week of CSA!), but the greens are an often-overlooked, equally delicious treat  in themselves-- hope you enjoy them sauteed, steamed, massaged, or in soup. In addition to being delicious, removing the tops from the plants stimulates more lateral growth (i.e. the sprouts) rather than apical growth (i.e. plant height), so we get bigger sprouts.  Alternately, some shares may receive Braising Mix, a blend of kales, mizuna, tatsoi, and mustard greens-- equally delectable, requires less cooking- ideally a quick steam or saute.
Sweet Peppers OR Eggplant
Hot Peppers- we are rich in chiles! If you like hot stuff, this week is for you.  If you need large quantities to freeze or make your own hot sauce, please ask about a bulk price. Varieties available: hot paper lantern (a type of elongated habanero-style red chile), Hinkelhatz, Limon, Thai hot, Cayenne, and Serrano.
Lettuce (heads) OR baby lettuce mix


1. Honey and Apple orders: see above. Get your jars and emails in ASAP!
2. Garlic Planting & Mulching AND Farm Member Appreciation Potluck this Saturday, Oct. 18.  Weather looks a little iffy-- if slightly drizzly/misty, we are still ON.  Wear your rain gear!  If full-blown thunderstorms, we'll push it back a week to Oct. 23. Hope to see you for either or both parts! Garlic: 2-5 ish, Music in the barn, cider pressing, mingling: 5-6 ish, Potluck 6-7:30 ish.
3. ONE more week of CSA to go, after this one!  For those who signed up before the end of February, you have TWO more weeks, to thank you for your help making our planning and budgeting easier.  Next year: remember, anyone who signs up before the end of February gets a bonus week of CSA shares.  Since the majority of our planning and budgeting happens in the winter it helps us greatly to know how many members to plan and grow for, and to get operating cash as early as possible. We appreciate your commitment to the farm and want to show some love back!
4. A few fall-winter shares still available: 8 weeks of fresh and storage crops to see you through the end of the year (and perhaps beyond). $250 gets you $30-35 worth of produce each week from Nov. 1 through Dec. 20. Pick up at the indoor market at The Commons every Saturday between 10 am and 1:30 pm.
5. One last thing : Some of you already know this, but Jess and I are expecting a baby around the end of December!  You'll see me getting more blimp-like each week (the in-utero name is Helium for that very reason), and you may not see me the last week or so of fall-winter shares and winter market.  But there will be a new little farmer to meet very soon!


How to Cook any Winter Squash:
For small squash (e.g. delicata, sweet dumpling, small acorns or small buttercups): Prick the skin a few times, and pop into the oven whole, on a cookie sheet or shallow pan. Bake at 375 for 40-60 min or longer, depending on size.  Test for softness-- squash should be soft to the touch but not dried out.
For any size squash, small or large: Cut in half lengthwise, scoop out all seeds and pulp (reserve seeds for toasted squash seeds if you like!), lay face down in a shallow pan with a little water (so edges don't dry out).  Bake at 375 for 20-30 min (small, thin-walled squash) up to 60-75 min (for large, thicker squash); test for doneness.

Scoop flesh out of skins (for delicata and dumplings, go ahead and eat the skins; they are so tender, no need to remove), do with it what you like- add seasoning, butter, maple, whatever you like, or make into squash enchiladas or ravioli, or blend with stock into squash soup--- the possibilities are endless.

Slightly fancier, equally simple: cut in half, scoop out seeds and pulp, and slice into 1/2"-1" thick wedges.  Lay in a single layer on an oiled cookie sheet, drizzle w/olive or peanut oil, sprinkle generously with your choice of chili powder and garlic, garam masala and ginger, rosemary and coarse salt, or any other spice combo.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Birch Point CSA Week 16: Only two weeks left! (after this one)

Is it an alien? No, it's celeriac!

      Wow, the season is flying by faster than any other so far.  "Summer" was a flash in the pan; we've been consumed by spring and fall this year. Thankfully, fall is pulling out all the stops and proving to be worth spending the extra time on.  In addition to daily lunchtime Beyonce videos, the farm crew has been enjoying daily readings by Hal Borland, a nature writer whose essays appeared appeared in the NYT from the 1941 through 1978.
      Today's entry, from Sundial of the Seasons (Lippincott, 1964), titled "To Walk in Beauty," begins

        One now walks in Autumn itself, along the suburban street, beside the country road, in every woodland. 
        For Autumn in the time of the fallen leaf, and the leaves are crispness underfoot, brown and red and yellow 
        and sere tan, the leftover of Summer shade, paper-thin jewel flakes that bring the sunlight and the vividness 
        of sunset down to earth.

Celeriac with leaves still on
     And it's starting to feel that way even in the fields- the tomato trellises have fallen (been taken down), the early gardens have been tilled in and seeded to their winter cover crops; onions are curing in the barn, fall greens are taking on the crisp sweetness that only cool temperatures and brisk winds can bring on. We're planning to get every last squash out of the field and starting to cure this week, and looking ahead to many more weeks of harvesting greens, roots, and certain heading vegetables (did someone say "Romanesco"?).  Yes, the Romanesco is on the horizon! It's lagging behind its counterparts, the fall broccoli and white cauliflower, and main-season CSA  may be over before the first fractal-headed beauties are ready, but we look forward to sharing them with our fall-winter CSA members and market customers!  Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy this week's Soup Share, specially composed to make your fall soup a delicious no-brainer.

In this week's share: Everything you need for soup!

Potatoes, large and/or fingerling
Carrots- all orange OR a Rainbow mix
Onions and/or Leeks-- and YES you can use the green part of a leek!
Celeriac, or Celery Root-- this is the thing that will make you say "huh?" -- looks like a hairy alien with vaguely celerey-esque leaves out the top. Flavor=celery times ten! How to use? More like how not to use! First, separate leaves from the root.  That root will store for months if you need it to-- celeriac is classic winter peasant food because of its excellent keeping quality. Those leaves and stems are just as flavorful; they just don't keep as long, so use those immediately-- chop finely across the stems and use in soups, stews, stirfry, or even egg salad (chop finely for that; it is a potent flavor when raw!).  Depending on the size of your soup pot and love for celery flavor, you could choose to ration the celeriac, using one quarter or half the root at a go, or, to quote Stephanie Mills, use the whole thing in one fell soup. Just slice or chop and saute with your onions and carrots in the very first stages of soup making. OR see Recipes below for my favorite non-soup use: Celeriac Remoulade. ATTENTION: SAVE THE PEELINGS! Celeriac peelings are perfect for soup stock--- whether you make it now (when using the celeriac) or later. Just be sure to strain your stock through a fine filter, like a paper coffee filter, if you use the peelings, because it is IMPOSSIBLE to get all the dirt out of all the root hairs and crevices
Parsnips! The very first of these fall sweeties. If you are new to parsnips, the best way to explore them is roasting: chop into bite sized chunks OR cut in half lengthwise, coat with olive oil, and roast in a single layer on a cookie sheet or skillet in a 400-degree oven til they are soft and starting to brown on the edges.  Of course, they're delicious in soup as well, and/or cooked and mashed right in with your mashed potatoes (which is also a great way to enjoy celeriac, according to farm member Flora Biancalana). And don't forget parsnip fries! Oven-baked, just like any French fry.
Broccoli OR Caulilower-  your choice.  The fall broccoli is some of the loveliest I've seen.  The cauliflower, while equally lovely, is much less consistent in maturing--we find a handful sizing up every week.  Hopefully before the end of the season, everyone gets a cauliflower who wants one!  A favorite farm lunch last week was cheesy-broccoli soup, recipe below.
Bok choi- OK, so you've got soup AND stir-fry this week.  The Asian greens are loving this cool, fall weather. Pardon a few insect holes-- the choi is delicious!  Enjoy fresh in slaw or stir-fried OR grilled-- seriously; an entire head of choi, sliced in half lengthwise OR quartered, brushed with sesame oil and face down on the grill til just blackened on the surface may become your new favorite grillable.  Drizzle with hot sauce or sweet-and-sour sauce before enjoying.
Eggplant OR Sweet Peppers- just to make the stir-fry mean something.  Our favorite way to enjoy eggplant: slice into 1/2" thick rounds. Coat both sides with generous amt of olive oil. Generous pinches of salt and pepper. Bake on a cookie sheet in a single layer, at 375 for 30-45 min (depending on size), til browned and caramelized outside, soft and mushy inside. Bon appetit.
Radishes- the fall radishes are finally sizing up! They took their sweet time, but we hope it was worth the wait.  If you aren't yet a radish fan, try them roasted (see parsnip suggestion, above), and get back to me.  Radishes, bok choi, carrots, onion or leek, and celeriac, all grated or matchsticked, make a lovely slaw, by the way, with rice vinegar, sesame oil, and ginger.

Bok choi

Celeriac remoulade--
 this one has carrots in it


1. Sweet Honey in the Barn- next week!  Beekeeper Greg will deliver (fingers crossed) honey here in time for next week's CSA pickup.  Limited quantities of BPF honey available at CSA member-only price (TBA; depends on what we end up paying Greg). Bring a jar with your name on it to CSA pickup next week if you're interested. Sat, Mon, and Wed shares: leave a jar with your name on it in your empty box when you return it; the following week it'll be included with your share. I'll let you know the price as soon as I hear from Greg!

2. A few Fall/Winter shares are still available-- email or call if you're interested.

3. We'll start taking orders for Thanksgiving shares soon- be thinking about whether you'd like to order a box (prob. around $50 worth) of fall goodies (think root veggies galore, squash, onions, herbs, cooking greens, possibly salad greens -weather permitting, etc-- things for your Thanksgiving feast and/or to squirrel away. Pick up at the indoor market the Saturday before Thanksgiving.


Celeriac Remoulade
 from Farmer John's Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables (Gibbs Smith, 2006) by John Peterson and Angelic Organics

1 large celeriac, peeled and cut into matchstick-sized strips
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 c. mayonnaise, preferably home-made
2 Tbsp prepared Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp chopped cornichons
1 1/2 Tbsp capers, drained (and rinsed first if packed in salt)
1/2 tsp herbes de provence
1/2 tsp salt plus more to taste
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1. Toss celeriac and lemon juice in a large bowl.
2. Add remaining ingredients, toss well to combine. Add more salt if desired Let stand for half an hour before serving.
MF note: Remoulade is characterized by the mustard-mayo-pickle tang, NOT ruled by specific ingredients. If you've got the basic sauce (lemon, mayo, mustard, salt, pepper) and at least some amount of brine-i-ness (cornichons, capers), you can sub any matchsticked firm veggie-- celeriac is classic and delicious; but also try adding any mix of carrot, beet (for pink remoulade!), rutabaga, raw winter squash, firm radish, parsnip, you name it.

BPF Lunchtime Cheesy Broccoli Soup

1 med onion, chopped
1 small (or 1/4 - 1/3 large) celeriac, peeled and chopped (note: I save the peelings and tops/tails of celeriac, celery, carrots, parsnips, onions, and leeks to make a veggie broth later-- pop into a plastic bag in the freezer, and keep adding to it until you have a critical mass, then make a batch of stock)
2 med carrots, chopped
2 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 head broccoli, including stem (peel stem if woody),chopped into bite sized pieces, reserving out the tips of the florets
3 med potatoes, cubed
all the cheddar cheese you can stand (1/4-1/2 lb, according to taste-- we are cheesy around here, so you might overdo it if you follow our lead...)
1 c. grated parmesan
2-4 c. stock or water
2 c. milk
lots of salt and pepper

1. In medium, heavy-bottomed pot, saute onion, carrot, celeriac, and potato with thyme and a generous sprinkle of salt, in olive oil or butter over med. heat. Once it's all tender, add garlic and broccoli (keeping the tips of the florets out), saute another few minutes. 
2. Add stock or water, enough to cover everything but not much more. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Simmer until broccoli is just tender.
3. Using your immersion blender, blend everything as smooth (or chunky) as you like. If you don't have an immersion blender, blend in an upright blender in batches, or mash with a potato masher in the pot if you don't mind chunkiness (may have to simmer a little longer to soften broccoli even more in that case). Add bay leaves, reserved floret tips, salt, and pepper, simmer 10-15 min longer.
4. Add milk and cheeses, being sure not to let it boil after that (scalded milk will make the soup taste funky). Determine if it needs more liquid, and add additional water or stock accordingly. Garnish each bowl with breadcrumbs and/or fresh herbs and/or more cheese.

Root Veggie Fries
 Not just for potatoes!
Any root veggies you have- try parsnips, celeriac, potatoes, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, or even winter squash!
Veggie oil or peanut oil
Salt, pepper, any other seasoning you like, e.g. garlic powder, smoked paprika, chili powder, lemon pepper, etc.

Preheat oven to 375.  Scrub veggies well- no need to peel unless you enjoy peeling. Slice into 1/2" wide by 1/4" thick slices (think "steak fries").  Toss with oil, spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt. Bake at 375 for 15-25 min, depending on size of fries (hint: slice potatoes, sweet potatoes, or squash a little thicker than the rest if baking a mixed batch-- they tend to cook a little faster than other roots). Bake til edges are browned and just starting to crisp.  Sprinkle on seasonings as soon as you remove the pan from the oven.  Serve hot with malt vinegar, ketchup, or spicy mayo- 2/3 mayo to 1/3 hot sauce, mixed.