Tuesday, August 25, 2015

BPF CSA Week 10: grateful for the rain, but what's with the 50-degree temps?

In Your Share This Week:

Basil! it's pesto time! See recipe below.
Garlic- still relatively fresh (not cured)-- will keep best in fridge.
Scallions OR Sweet Onions- YES you can use the whole scallion, white, green, all of it. Slice on the diagonal for extra elegance.
Cherry Tomatoes- starting to come in earnest, though they want more HEAT! Same for big slicers-- there are tons of green fruit on the plants. I predict next week's heat wave will push them over the edge, and we'll be awash in tomatoes soon.
Kale- "No one can imagine a CSA without kale" -David Hambleton, farmer at Sisters Hill Farm, Stanfordville, NY (and who would question this guy?) And btw, have you tried massaged kale?
Lettuce heads- romaine,  Batavian, red leaf, or butterhead-- these cool weather-loving beauties are happy for the temporary respite from heat (they may be the only ones, though)
Summer Squash and/or Zucchini- yes they are interchangeable; they are just all different shapes and colors
Cucumbers-Either Marketmore or Ministro (classic dark green slicing cukes) or Diva (super smooth, light green skin, can grow apparently huge without a hint of bitterness- one of my faves). See below for Sweet and Sour Cucumbers with Fresh Dill, esp if you still have dill left over from last week!
Fennel- a lovely licorice-ish flavored member of the Umbel family (related to celery, parsley, carrot, etc), fennel lends a sweet anise flavor to any dish. Use the bulb and stems cooked or fresh (see below for salad recipe); use fronds chopped in salad dressing or as a bed for fish (or anything!) on the grill

Three Recipes

1. Zee Besto Pesto that I've found: 
2 cups basil- leaves AND tender stems, but not woody/fibrous stems
1/2 c. toasted pine nuts and/or walnuts and/or sunflower seeds
2-3 fat cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional; can be added at serving time)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil- the more pungent the better
2 Tbsp lemon juice
generous pinch salt and pepper

Buzz everything in the food processor or blender til as smooth or chunky as you like. Freeze for months if you like, or refrigerate for a week or so. But really, how can you resist eating it all right now? Yes, with a spoon. Or your finger :)

2. Sweet-and-Sour Cucumbers with Fresh Dill compliments of farm member Dave Borton

2-3 cucumbers (1 1/2 pounds total), partially peeled, seeded and very thinly sliced
1-2 smaller Zucchini, similarly prepared to the cucumbers
2-3 small to mid-sized onions, sliced similar to above
10-12 or so grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Place vegetable pieces/slices in colander. Sprinkle 
with salt; toss to coat. Let stand 15 minutes, stirring 
Meanwhile, for dressing, stir vinegar, dill, sugar, and 
pepper in large bowl until sugar is dissolved. 
Drain vegetables well; pat dry. Add cucumbers to 
dressing and stir to blend. Refrigerate at least 15 
minutes and up to 2 hours; serve cold.

3. Fennel-Orange Salad  MF note: There are lots of variations on this classic combo. I like to make a version of this salad with thick shaved parmesan or asiago cheese, a little thinly sliced sweet onion, and/or a handful of arugula tossed in. The point is sweet orange, pungent-sweet fennel, and piquant onion and dressing. The cheese and/or arugula just up the ante with saltiness and nutty-bitterness. See what your palate and family prefer!

compliments of Martha: http://www.marthastewart.com/342465/fennel-and-orange-salad
  • 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 5 navel oranges
  • 3 to 4 fennel bulbs (about 2 pounds total), ends trimmed, quartered lengthwise, cored, and thinly sliced, crosswise, plus 1/4 cup roughly chopped fennel fronds (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar and oil; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Using a sharp knife, slice off both ends of each orange. Following the curve of the fruit, cut away the peel and white pith. Halve orange from top to bottom; thinly slice crosswise. Transfer oranges, along with any juices that have accumulated on work surface, to bowl with dressing. Add fennel and, if desired, fronds. Toss to combine

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Birch Point CSA Week 9: Full-on summer!

Happy truly-summer (i.e. heat, humidity, and tomatoes!)  And so sorry for the lack of communication the past 3 weeks- it's been busy around here!
BANJO SHOW TONIGHT @ BPF: Your farmer Brenin Wertz-Roth in concert with his old pals Hazel Rickard and John Hansen. Join us in the red barn for beautiful old-time, bluegrass, and other music and dancing.  Suggested donation: $5-20 (sliding scale). Show starts at 8. Come at 7 for a friends-and-members potluck if you like! All ages. Bring your own folding chair/blanket.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ELk8_LIwFK8 https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Oywv8QFJ5rs

In Your Share This Week:

Sweet Onions- our fave variety, Ailsa Craig, a large white juicy mellow onion
Cucumbers- mixed varieties. Time for refrigerator pickles!
Summer squash and/or Zucchini- throw on the grill in kebabs or toss w/ pasta for lovely primavera
The very first Cherry Tomatoes
New potatoes- mix of varieties- with butter and parsley... or dill... what could be better?
Lovely lettuce heads- mainly the heat-tolerant Batavians (a cross between green/red leaf lettuce and summercrisp, or iceberg, types), but perhaps a few red leaf, romaine, or butterhead
Apricots from Gary Frederickson in Northport. NOT organic- be sure to wash thoroughly.
Herbs: dill, basil, or parsley *think cuke-dill refrigerator pickles with sweet onion!*


1.BANJO SHOW TONIGHT @ BPF: Your farmer Brenin Wertz-Roth in concert with his old pals Hazel Rickard and John Hansen. Join us in the red barn for beautiful old-time, bluegrass, and other music and dancing.  Suggested donation: $5-20 (sliding scale). Show starts at 8. Come at 7 for a friends-and-members potluck if you like! All ages. Bring your own folding chair/blanket.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ELk8_LIwFK8 https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Oywv8QFJ5rs

2. Pork is still available! Farmer Jae is taking orders for whole and half hogs -- many of you have "met" these pigs already; if not, be sure to ask next time you're at the farm.  They're free ranging on pasture, eating brush and weeds, veggie scraps, non-GMO grain, and (we suspect) occasional donuts from our neighbor Jake. Call Jae @ 989-430-0926 for ordering info.

3. A few Fall-Winter Shares are still available.  Sign up soon to save your spot! $250 gets you eight weeks of hearty storage crops (e.g. carrots, potatoes, parsnips,  beets, turnips, rutabaga, radishes cabbages, onions, leeks, garlic, winter squash/pumpkins), hoophouse-grown salad mix, spinach, and other delicacies, and luscious fall field crops like kale, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, collards, bok choi, and herbs. Starts the first Saturday of November and runs 8 weeks. Pick up at the Saturday indoor market at Bldg. 50 @ The Commons.

4. Storm damage update: For those who haven't been here lately, Birch Point Farm lost LOTS of branches in the Aug. 2 storm, along with a few entire trees tipped up and toppled.  Somehow the gigantic old box elders all survived, albeit with lots of branches gone. We sustained minor hail damage, most notably on  peppers, but hopefully the plants will grow out of it, and the next round of peppers will be unscarred..  Flowers, especially the tall sunflowers, were wind whipped and bent over, but most lived to tell about it.  THANKFULLY no structures or wires were hit by trees/branches-- somehow!  Brenin has been chainsawing like a madman in every spare moment, clearing access to fields and buildings, but the branch pick-up will be an on-going project.  See a downed branch at the farm?  Feel free to drag it to the fire pit or nearest brush pile.

Recipe: Quick Refrigerator Pickles, shamelessly cut and pasted from http://www.thekitchn.com/cooking-basics-very-easy-pickl-83971

We love pickles, and we especially love the variety of flavors and vegetables being used to make them these days. But we've tended to shy away from making them at home, thinking that pickling requires pounds of vegetables, special equipment, and an entire free weekend. Recently, we learned there's another way...
Enter refrigerator pickling! These pickles aren't intended for long-term storage, but rather for casual eating over the course of a week or so. They're incredibly easy to make, even on a weeknight, and are a novel way to use up the odd carrot or quarter-head of cabbage left in the drawer.
First, clean and prepare all your vegetables. If it's a vegetable you like to eat raw, you can leave them as is. If not, you can blanch them in boiling water, steam them lightly, or roast them beforehand. You want them edible but still a bit crunchy.
Pack all the vegetables tightly into jars - you can use old canning jars or any other heat-proof container with an air-tight lid. You can also combine more than one vegetable in the same jar if you don't have quite enough of one. Just make sure the combined vegetables actually "go" together because they'll take on a bit of each other's flavors.
We like to use a basic pickling brine (below) and then riff on the spices or use different vinegars depending on what we're in the mood for. Bring all the brine ingredients to a boil in a small pan and then pour the brine over the vegetables. Put the lids on the containers, cool them to room temperature, and then refrigerate for at least 24 hours before eating to give the flavors time to meld.
Refrigerator pickles will keep for about a month. If they develop any off flavors or smells, or if you notice fermentation, it's best to just discard the remaining pickles. Some kinds of fermentation are ok (like with kimchi), but we'll save that discussion for another time.
Many of these pickles are great as a snack right out the jar while standing at the counter! We also layer them on sandwiches, toss them in salads, or serve them as part of an appetizer plate.

Basic Pickling Brine
For every pound of vegetable:
1 cup vinegar (any kind except balsamic)
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
Extras: fresh herbs, red pepper flakes, mustard seed, cumin seed, pepper corns, cloves of garlic, or any other pickling spice