Wednesday, September 16, 2015

BPF CSA Week 13: the lusciousness of life

This week: Semi-Asian Invasion (see "In Your Share This Week"), The Pig Project (pork shares available), Volunteer opportunities (see "Announcements")

In Your Share This Week:

Beautiful Bok Choi-the most elegant and versatile of Asian greens- use in a stirfry, sliced thinly inside eggrolls, tossed into a slaw (see my perennial favorite Asian-ish slaw recipe, below), or just eaten raw/plain- seriously, the crunchy, curved stalks make great dippers for just about anything- try Bob's Amazing Tofu Spread (watch this video of our pals Seth, May, and Bob waxing rapturous about tofu and local veg- the actual recipe is below).
When faced with a new Asian green, my go-to approach is a simple stirfry with onion and/or garlic, fresh ginger, red pepper flakes (or fresh hot chiles if they are in season), finished with a dressing of toasted sesame oil, tamari or soy sauce, and rice vinegar, and tossed with sesame seeds and/or toasted sunflower seeds. Add fried bits of protein of your choice, serve with rice or noodles, and voila! (remember the voila- very important)

Various Eggplant- everyone's familiar with the oblong purple ones, but have you tried Apple Green, Rosa Bianca, or the long, skinny Asian varieties? All are interchangeable in recipes; all are delicious. Yes, delicious- even if you are eggplant-averse, try this super simple approach: slice into 1/2" rounds (whatever size eggplant you've got, doesn't matter the diameter), spread on an olive-oiled baking sheet in a single layer, drizzle/brush on more olive oil than seems reasonable (they are sponges; don't hold back!), more salt than you think you'll like, and roast in the oven at 375 or so (whatever temp you're already baking anything at is fine, as long as it's over 350), for 30-60 min, CHECK for doneness. Doneness= brown crispy edges, soft spoonable insides. Then eat it as is; careful don't burn your tongue, OR mash onto a piece of toast with a little feta or goat cheese and a slice of tomato OR single lettuce/kale/arugula leaf. Then come back and tell me you don't like eggplant. I dare you ;)

MELONS! Watermelons OR muskmelon-style- you may get red, orange, yellow, or salmon-fleshed watermelon, OR orange or green-fleshed muskmelons. The green muskmelons aren't truly muskmelons at all; they are a galia, or tropical, melon called Diplomat; they look like honeydew, and taste every so slightly of banana or pineapple :)  The rest of the melons are pretty darn tasty, too. Hooray for sun and water! Melons and squash are so amazing to me-- the amount of photosynthesis that has to take place in those leaves to produce such a concentrated amount of food just blows my mind. Love me some cucurbits!

Parsley OR Cilantro *think Parsley-Potatoes* with butter. yum.

Sweet Onions

Bodacious BROCCOLI- full up on broccoli yet?  We were a little worried that folks were tired of broccoli but here's a tip: blanch and freeze if you can't use it all this week. Remove leaves (but eat them just like kale!), chop into bite sized pieces, blanch in boiling salted water for three minutes, cool in iced water, drain, then pop into freezer bags or containers, label, and you're good for a couple of winter frittatas!

Tomatoes- sweet orange Sungold cherry tomatoes and/or various heirloom slicers- enjoy summer; it's still here!

Potatoes- red and/or yellow; mixed varieties. Try buttered boiled potatoes with parsley, why not?

Hot peppers- always available. If you don't see them in your share, just ASK! We make them optional extras because some people love them and some hate them. Speak up if you love them -- spice up your life!


1. PORK available by the whole or half hog.  See below for the entire rundown from Jae Gerhart about The Pig Project.  

2. Boxodus: seems like most of our boxes have up and left! If you have a stash of CSA boxes, PLEASE return them. We will be happy to get them back and use them. Thank you!

3. Heart of Summer Shares wrapped up last week- thanks for joining us! And look for an end-of-season survey via email soon. Your feedback will help us make an even better CSA for future seasons. p.s. your feedback is ALWAYS welcome- don't wait for a survey if you  have a question, idea, complaint, or suggestion. We are all in this together, and we do a better job of growing for you when we know what people want. (hint: except for chocolate. can't do that here. YET)

4. Three Volunteer Opportunities:
     1)Greenhouse Plastic Pulling: Want to help with a modern barn-raising?  We're replacing the plastic on the old hoophouse, and covering the new hoophouse.  The catch: we don't know when it will happen. It's completely weather dependent.  What we do know: sometime in the next two months, likely at the crack of dawn (least windy time of day), with no more than a week's notice, and more likely a day or two's notice. If you are a morning person with a super flexible schedule, able to work in a team, follow instructions, and keep your cool in the face of unexpected wind gusts (while holding onto a giant plastic sail), let me know-- I will add you to the email list to get the all-hands-on-deck call when the time is right! Email with "hoophouse plastic pull volunteer" in the subject.

     2)Garlic Planting: It's almost time for garlic planting, and we're switching it up from past years' open house-style work day.  Volunteers will need to be here for training before we start. To join the garlic team, send an email with "garlic planting volunteer" in the subject, and we will let you know when we know the date. Likely: mid-October, a weekday afternoon, in good weather (fingers crossed).

     3)General Farm Work: It's fall clean-up time!  We have a to-do list; do you have a few hours?  Any and all skill/experience level welcome. Join us (or plug away on your own) in dragging branches to the burn pile, stacking wood, scraping and painting garage doors,weeding and mulching perennials, fixing the chicken coop door, and more. Call or email to schedule a volunteer shift. Thank you!


Michelle's favorite Asian-ish Slaw

4-5 cups shredded/thinly sliced Bok choi,  Napa cabbage daikon greens, or any green Asian (or not) leafy thing you've got around
1-2 grated carrots OR beets (beets will turn the slaw pink!)
1 finely sliced sm. onion
1-3 cloves garlic, minced
equal amt of fresh ginger, also minced (if you have none, put in 1 tsp ground ginger to dressing)
at least 1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 generous handful coarsely chopped fresh herbs: cilantro OR lemon basil OR Thai basil OR dill/parsley if you prefer
optional: 1-2 fresh hot chiles, minced 

toasted sesame oil
rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
soy sauce/tamari
cayenne and/or your favorite hot sauce (I like Ray's Polish Fire)
pinch ground coriander
salt and pepper

Mix slaw ingredients well.  Mix dressing ingredients well, then mix w/ slaw. Enjoy!  Top with a good squeeze of fresh lime and/or bean sprouts and/or pea shoots and/or fried tofu and/or anything else you like.

Bob's Famous Tofu Spread

1 pound firm tofu, drained and patted dry
2 cups finely diced veggies (red or green pepper,celery carrot, onion, etc.)

2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup (more or less to taste) nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

1 teaspoon wet mustard
Dash of hot sauce (optional)

Crumble the tofu, by hand, into a serving bowl and blend in all of the ingredients other than the vegetables. Fold those in last. Can be used as a dip or sandwich spread.

Baba Ghanoush, or How to Preserve Eggplant for Winter

1 large eggplant
1/4 c. tahini (easy on the tahini- it's easy to overdo it, and you can add more later if necessary)
1/4 c. tasty olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin (or 2 tsp toasted whole cumin seed)
generous dash of salt and pepper
juice of one lemon OR 1/4 c. verjus
handful chopped fresh parsley-- use stems, but keep leaves and stems separate for now
optional extra: 1-2 fresh hot chiles

1. Roast eggplant: cut off stem, and end scar if there is one, cut in half, place face down on a generously olive-oiled baking sheet, rub olive oil over the outside, and roast at 350/375ish for 20-45 min, depending on size of eggplant. Check for doneness: it should give easily to the touch when poked, but skin should not be dried out or crispy.  If skin is tender, use the whole thing (no need to peel or scoop; just toss the whole darn thing in the cuisinart, skin and all
2. Buzz in food processor ALL ingredients EXCEPT parsley leaves- save those for garnish, but toss the stems in for flavor.
3. Taste- is it tangy enough? If not, add more lemon and/or salt.  Is it nutty and thick enough? If not, add 1-2 more Tablespoons tahini.  Is it spicy enough? If not, add more garlic and/or hot chiles.  Buzz once more for good measure, and taste again.  Store in an airtight container, but drizzle olive oil over the top first to minimize oxidation/browning. Freezes well for several months. Or serve immediately, drizzled with super tasty olive oil and that handful of chopped parsley leaves on top. For a super special treat, caramelize 1/2 a sweet onion and sprinkle that on top- you've got savory dessert.

The Pig Project by Jae Gerhart

What It’s All About
It’s about the fact that some of us love eating meat, pig meat specifically, and we want a freezer full of tenderloin and bacon and ribs and ham hocks for the long winter ahead.  It’s about raising that meat with a holistic outlook on the ecological system - clearing land overrun by autumn olives and quack grass.  It’s about turning vegetable scraps into bacon, turning brew mash into bacon, turning whey from cheese-making into bacon.  It’s about fertilizing.  It’s about entertaining neighbors and friends.  But most of all, its about offering friends and family quality meat raised and distributed in a sustainable way.

You Are What You Eat… And Same Goes for the Pigs
Since they arrived as 40lb feeder pigs in May, these oinkers have dined primarily on a non-GMO corn and soy mix, provided by the excellent farmers over at Hall Farms.  They have also gorged on produce from Birch Point Farm, food scraps from local restaurants, whey from a local cheese maker, and spent grain mash from NorthPeak Brewery.

These pigs are not organic, but they’re pretty darn close.  
They have a huge beautiful pen to run around and root and forage.


How to it Works
This is a direct-to-consumer operation.  This means that customers order half and whole pigs from me at a certain price ($4.00/lb.).   Customers can opt to pick up their pig live and do the slaughtering themselves, but for most of us its safer, cleaner, and more efficient to have the processor do the work for us.  Here is what that looks like:

Hanging Weight* Meat Price: $4.00/lb.
Processor Fee: $0.44/lb.
Kill Fee: $25

For example:
For 180 lbs. of hanging weight on a pig:
180 x $4.00 = $720
180 x $0.44 =$79.20
Total: $720 + $79.20 + $25 = $824.20

Most of these pigs will be between 150 and 200 lbs. hanging weight

*Hanging Weight: The carcass without the head, non-usable organs, and hooves.  The hanging weight is roughly 60% of the live weight.

The Processor – RRR Meat Processing, Buckley MI
I chose RRR Meat Processing (USDA certified) in Buckley for a couple reasons.  Location – Buckley is one of the closer processors in area, making it convenient for customers to pick up their meat.  Reputation – my friend and pig-farming mentor Jess Piskor at Bare Knuckle Farm has been using this processor for years, as do local restaurants such as the Cooks House.  For the Pigs – the pigs get dropped off the night before so they aren’t as spooked and stressed when it comes time to do the deed.  This is better for the meat as well as for the pigs and humans involved that day.

Common Questions:
Bacon thickness: they do 1/8 inch slices.  Can be adjusted based on customers preferences
Sodium Nitrates: used only in the smoking process.
Breakfast sausage spice mix: does include MSG.  

If you would like to order a whole or half pig, I will send you the order form where you can designate preferences for specific cuts of meat.  The order form is confusing, as it is intended for the processor and therefore gives very little information to the consumer.  Essentially the pig is delineated into 5 categories: Picnic, Shoulder, Loin, Belly, and Ham, and once I send the form, I will go over the specifics of how to order what you want.

Post Processing
Once the animal is processed (mid-October), I will call each of my customers to let them know that their pig is ready.  You should plan to pick up your half or whole pig within 3-5 days.  I recommend bringing a huge cooler or multiple coolers and a strong back or two to help lift the cooler into your vehicle.  

If you would like to be a part of The Pig Project for the 2015 season, please get a hold of me through email. Include in the email your name, whether you would like a half or whole pig, your phone number and your email address.  I will then contact you directly to confirm your pig order and send you the order form.