Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Good Eats Newsletter - April 30, 2008

Farm Update

Well, here's the rain!  April is typically the crunch time on the farm, and the past couple of weeks sure have been busy.  Given the late spring, the pace will continue well into May I'm sure.  Last week, Pete realized that green house production was hitting its stride, and we shifted back into twice weekly wholesale deliveries.  So the crew was busy calling accounts for orders, harvesting, washing and packing both for Tuesday and Friday.

Meanwhile, there are all those potatoes and onions to transplant out into the fields.  Cases of onion plants are waiting in the wash house for a dry spell, not to mention more fields to till and seed for greens. Tomatoes were transplanted in the greenhouses, as plastic went onto the newest one.  Pete is buying two more greenhouse "kits" this coming week, which will make 5 all together by the end of the summer.  These portable houses, along with the original wood framed larger house, will be filled with cool weather crops for the fall.  In the meantime, the two new green houses are planted with tomatoes, peppers, cukes, and eggplant.  After we get through these next few cold nights, more of the same warm weather crops will go out into the fields under double row covers.  It seems cool out to me, but Pete says the double row cover gives protection equal to the unheated greenhouses. 

 Construction projects continue for both the commercial kitchen and farmstand.  This spring, Chris Jacobs is finishing the farmstand, installing fixtures, windows, doors, power and water.  Running it is going to be my summer job!  I hope that you all will come by this summer to see the progress.  We'll have a cooler to keep greens and tender vegetables fresh, as well as space for local cheeses, our eggs, etc.  There will be display shelves for tomatoes, squash, onion, potatoes and such.  Chris is restoring a lovely old garage door from another farm building for the main entry. The building itself is quite unique, with a garden planted right on the roof.

There is also the garden in front, which unfortunately currently has more winter rye growing than anything else!  I've got a project there, that's for sure.  This is the garden I can see from my side porch, and how I originally started working for Pete last summer.  I began as a volunteer, planting perennials which had been dug and left against the side of the building, just waiting for someone to have a chance to plant them.  At the time, Pete and the crew were in the middle of strawberry harvest and he just didn't have spare hands to tend an ornamental garden!  I couldn't help myself, seeing good plants dying in the record June heat, and took it on.

This Week's Share Contains 

Napa cabbage, chives, mesclun, European cucumber, mixed bunched greens (one of the following: red or green mizuna, arugula, mibuna, or wild arugula), carrots, beets, Jasper Hill Blue Cheese, Elmore Mt bread, mushrooms, organic popcorn

Bread Ingredients: Organic sifted wheat flour and whole wheat flour,  sea salt, water, sourdough

Storage and Use Tips

Mesclun - a mix of mizuna, claytonia, lettuces, arugula, mustard, kale.  Delicate and perishable, it will store a few days in the crisper drawer.  Excellent not only as salad, but as a bed of greens for your entre.  Think grilled fish, or roasted vegetables, or mushroom omelet.

Chives - A real spring treat!  Use the whole chives minced up. Stored in a loose bag in the crisper drawer,  they'll keep quite well for a few days. Great in an omelet

Mixed Bunched Greens - You will get one of the different varieties of greens.  Pete's advice is to try it raw for a salad green.  If  you don't care for it raw, try it in soup or sauted.   Keep it loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer. It should be used quickly, as this is very delicate.

Napa Cabbage - Super tender and delicate green house gown napa is more like lettuce, but with a mild cabbage bite to it.  This is not like the heavy white napa you'd find at the super market!  Stirfry very briefly, add to soups, or shred into an Asian inspired salad or slaw.  Best used in a few days, store unwashed and loosely bagged in the crisper.

Localvore 'Lore from Heather

The Tullochgorum popcorn has been a long time coming!  I originally ordered it from Steve and Loraine in Quebec last fall.  Then we had that great popcorn raised here on the farm, and we didn't need to include it right then.  In addition, it turned out that Pete wouldn't be able to pick it up with the sunflower oil until just recently.  So now, finally, here it is.  Steve has asked for feed back from you all, and so I hope you will try it soon and let me know.  They are continuously evaluating their business and want customer input, as he put it, to see if popcorn is something they should continue to produce.

I just came back from Jasper Hill to pick up the Bailey Hazen Blue Cheese.  Mateo met me out front and we took a tour of the new caves.  The building is quite impressive, as is their business plan.  The plan is to age cheeses from roughly 30 Vermont artisan cheese producers.  Jasper Hill will buy the cheese from these cheese makers, and market it under the original producer's name.  Mateo said it's just too labor intensive and expensive to age cheese, sitting on an inventory waiting to sell it.  This way, these small producers can focus on farming and cheese making, without the additional labor expenses of aging and marketing.  They are paid up front for the cheese and retain their market presence and brand identity.

They may also be expanding their Bailey Hazen production by starting another herd at a separate farm.  These 40 cows would produce milk just for blue cheese, effectively doubling production.  As it is now, they can't fill all the orders for blue cheese.  Otherwise, the intention of this new facility is to age and market cheese for other producers.  This is an economic development project, to help encourage small scale dairy farms in the state.   There are either poor or rich small scale cheese producers and he hopes to fill in that middle area by making it more profitable for them.  He also plans to market more of the Jasper Hill cheeses locally than they have been able to up to now.  We certainly are looking forward to offering more of these cheeses in Good Eats shares.

Recipes

Mixed Grains Pilaf

Here’s a delicious sounding recipe from members Al and Pam from last share.  As some of you may need ideas for the mixed grains, and we have mushrooms again, it seemed like a good recipe to include  The other idea I had for using the grains is to cook them until tender and use as you would bulghur to make tabouli type salad. Rather than parsley, I used a mixture of minced chives and bunched greens.1 1/2 cups cracked mixed grains

3 1/4 cups chicken stock

8 tbls (1 stick) butter or half butter & Olive or other oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

5-6 oz. sliced mushrooms

Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 (1 ¼ hour in oven, ¼ hour prep)

Saute grains in 4 tblsp butter, using a heavy frying pan on medium low, until golden (about 5 mins.) Meanwhile chop onions. Pour grain into covered casserole, such as corning glassware. Sautee chopped onions in 2 tblsps butter on low heat until soft, about 5 mins. Meanwhile slice mushrooms. Pour onion into casserole. Sautee sliced mushrooms in remaining oil on low heat until water evaporates, adding salt & pepper to taste, about 5 mins. Add to casserole. Add 1 1/2 cups chicken stock warmed in microwave 2 mins. or in saucepan to casserole. Cover and bake 30 mins.

Add another 1 1/2 cups chicken stock warmed in microwave 2 mins. or in saucepan to casserole. Cover and bake 30 mins. Add the remaining 1/4 cup warmed stock and bake the last 15 minutes covered. Stir well and serve.

Mixed Grains Tabouli Salad

1 cup dry mixed grains

3 c water

1/2 tsp salt

Boil water, add grains and salt.  Cover and simmer until tender, about 35 minutes.  Drain if necessary.  Dress with the following dressing.

Whisk together and use to taste:

1/4 c vinegar

1/2 c oil

1/4 c lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp prepared mustard

fresh ground black pepper

1/2 tsp salt

next toss together with: 

1/4 c minced chives

1 carrot, grated

1 cucumber, diced

1 c finely minced fresh greens, such as mizuna or arugula

Chill and serve on a bed of mesclun with more of the lemon dressing if you like.   A bit of crumbled cheese on top would be perfect.

Asian Chicken Cabbage Rolls

Here's a recipe I found on a Canadian Poultry Marketing Board website.  I've changed it around a bit already, but  feel free to substitute ground pork or turkey or crumbled tofu for the chicken. Makes 6 servings

1 head napa cabbage

1 # ground chicken

1 tbsp oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp minced chives

1 tbsp grated fresh ginger

1 c sliced mushrooms

pinch red pepper flakes

3/4 c cooked rice

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 egg, beaten

Heat oil in a skillet and add garlic, ginger, mushrooms, and chives.  Saute until liquid evaporates.  Add chicken and red pepper flakes.  Cook until no longer pink, breaking it up into crumbles with a spoon.  Stir in soy sauce and rice.  Remove from heat, mix in egg.

Meanwhile, dunk napa into a large pot of boiling water just to wilt it, then rinse in cold water.  Remove about 12 individual leaves and blot dry.  Place a scoop of filling in the stalk end, then roll up.  You don't have to worry too much about tucking in the ends.  Place rolls in a steamer and steam about 10 minutes, until tender.  Do this in a couple batches.  Serve with a sauce made up of soy sauce, ginger, chives, garlic, maple sugar and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Good Eats Newsletter - April 23

Farm Update
After a brief flirt with spring, it seems we're into full blown summer! Before the snow was even gone, Pete, Steve, and Meg were taking turns out on the tractors prepping fields as they dried. Potatoes started going into the ground this weekend. It seemed like one day the lower fields by the river were under water, and the next they were high and dry. If you come to Craftsbury, those are the most visible of Pete's fields in town, but just a hint of total acres. Good thing, because their location makes them prone to flooding. Up the knoll on the other side of the road, a crew went out last week to seed and row cover a plot of salad greens! I can see the wide swatch of white remay from my house, a sure sign of good things to come.
Purple Pac Choi in the Greenhouse
Some of you from the area may know that quite a few of us live right here "next door" to Pete's. I've lived here for over 10 years. Steve and his family bought their house up the street about 3 years ago, soon after Pete bought the farm. Just this winter, Tim bought the house next to mine, directly across the road from Pete's driveway. Plus, Meg moved into the farmhouse last fall. Besides the obvious commute advantages, it's great to live and work with like minded folks. An impromptu bonfire at Tim's the other evening got the two of us talking about it, again! It's also a hint of how we all might be living and working in closer communities as casual driving becomes less and less affordable. We may all not only be eating more locally, but working closer to home as well, similar to a few generations ago. Now we just have to convince Jeffrey and Nancy to move north.

This Week's Share Contains
Spring Dug Parsnips; Mix of Green and/or Purple Pac Choi and Tatsoi; Braising mix; Sweet Salad Turnips; Yellow Potatoes; Napa Cabbage; Organic Oats; Organic mixed cracked grains (wheat, barley, rye, oat, flax); Vt Milk Co Smoked Cheddar; Buttermilk; and Patchwork Bread.

Bread Ingredients: Organic sifted wheat flour and whole wheat flour, organic malted barley flour, sea salt, water, sourdough

Storage and Use Tips
Braising Mix - This is a hearty mix of slightly larger red mustard, mizuna, beets, arugula, and doesn't necessarily need to be cooked. I just saw it being packed and it looks lovely and very tender. You can briefly saute this with garlic and olive oil, salt and pepper for a quick side. It's also great in a simple quesadilla. Or try making a wilted salad by heating oil, vinegar, a minced clove of garlic and pouring over greens. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper. Delicious with some toasted nuts and crumbled cheese. Store like mesclun in the crisper drawer for a few days.
Pac Choi - Sometimes known as "bok choi," as well as several other names, (learn more here), these are excellent cooking greens for soups and stir-fries. Refrigerate unwashed choi in a plastic container or in a loosely wrapped plastic bag. Choi is best when used within several days.
Tatsoi - Looking very similar to the pac choi, tatsoi has crinklier leaves and grows in a flatter rosette. You can see photos of all in the greenhouse gallery. Store and cook as you would pac choi.
Salad Turnips - These turnips are sweeter and milder than a radish, but with that distinctive flavor. Requiring no cooking, they make a wonderful snack or salad garnish. The greens can be sauted, stir-fried, or torn and added to a salad. Always remove the greens before storing. The greens and turnips can be kept separately wrapped in plastic in the crisper drawer.
Spring Dug Parsnips - Sweet and yummy, these are a gift from under the snow! Overwintering in the ground develops a wonderful flavor in parsnips. Store unwashed in a loose bag in the crisper drawer. Jeffrey is taking some home to make a simple puree of roasted parsnips with cream and butter, salt & pepper. Make it rather stiff to serve as a side, thin it with stock or more cream/milk to make it into a soup.
Napa Cabbage - Super tender and delicate green house gown napa is more like lettuce, but with a mild cabbage bite to it. This is not like the heavy white napa you'd find at the super market! Stirfry very briefly, or shred into an Asian inspired salad or slaw. Best used in a few days, store unwashed and loosely bagged in the crisper.

Localvore 'Lore from Heather
Last Tuesday I spent the afternoon in southern Quebec on a buying trip. My first stop was in Compton, about 30 minutes north of the border. Let me tell you, the roads are in no better condition there than our stretch of VT Route 14! So anyway, at the Groleau's dairy farm, Beurrerie du Patrimoine, I picked up butter and buttermilk. They were just bottling the buttermilk when I arrived. Diane said they made 550 pounds of butter that morning, 300 tubs of which I had ordered for Pete's. We also got all the buttermilk, just 136 - 500 ml bottles. Diane explained that they don't get much buttermilk from the process, and making our order was tight! They spent the whole day preparing our order. I was glad they were able to bottle enough for us, since I had bought some for myself on my last trip. I enjoyed it so much, and wanted to get it for the share this time. It's not as thick as conventional cultured buttermilk. I think you'll enjoy using it!
This is a family business, with a dairy cow and goat operation, cheese making, bottled milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese production. They have also added a commercial kitchen for prepared foods, and produce lasagna, quiche, and other frozen meals using their own dairy, meat, and eggs. Beginning in May, they will be making sausage as well. This is her middle son's project, along with cheese making. Her oldest son runs deliveries throughout Quebec and up to Montreal to 125 stores. He also handles general business operations. Her youngest son works in the barn and manages the goat herd with her husband. Diane seems to run the whole show, and with a big smile on her face! She is clearly proud of her business and her sons' involvement.
Next I went about 15 minutes down the road to Michel Gaudreau's grain mill. He also runs a family farm business, with his daughter working in the mill. When I arrived, he was working on her car. We loaded up 2 pallets of grains, and then I got the delivery truck stuck in the muck. He pulled me out with the John Deer, and I was on my way! Then it was over to North Hatley at the northern tip if Lake Massawipi to pick up the miso. This part of the trip was a bit longer, since there's not an easy direct route, or a smooth one for that matter! Gilbert greeted me warmly, and offered me a cup of miso broth. The miso operation is built onto their home, and there's a nutty scent to the air when you enter. I'll tell you more about miso making when it's in the share!

Recipes
I wanted to include buttermilk recipes last week, but Diane wasn't sure she'd be able to fill the order. So we went to press with butter instead, and now here's the buttermilk. If you feel you will not use the buttermilk right away, you can freeze it to use in baking at a later time. Some general ideas for using this are muffins, pancakes, waffles, scones, etc. You can find some recipes in the blog from previous newsletters. Here, I'd like to share a couple of different ways to use the buttermilk. One is a cold soup, the other is for grilled chicken my mother-in-law shared with me.

Chilled Buttermilk Cucumber Soup
adapted from Gourmet Cookbook. You need pickled beets to make this, or it's just as good without. Serves 4.

2 c well shaken buttermilk
1/2 c sour cream
1 c milk (or more buttermilk)
1/2 tsp salt
grind of fresh black pepper
1 c chopped pickled beets
1/4 c pickled beet liquid
1 c chopped cucumber
1/2 c chopped sweet salad turnips
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp fresh minced chives
1 clove garlic, minced, optional(nice if you omit the beets)

Whisk together buttermilk, sour cream ,milk, and salt. Stir in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate, covered at least 15 minutes, up to 8 hours. Stir to combine again before serving.

Buttermilk Chicken
More of a method than a recipe, this creates super moist and tender grilled chicken.

1 whole chicken, cut up
1 pint of buttermilk
2 tbsp minced chives
salt & pepper to taste

In the morning, rinse chicken and pat dry. Place in non reactive bowl and coat with the buttermilk, chives, salt & pepper, turning the pieces for even coverage. Place in the fridge to marinate. Heat grill to medium high. Remove chicken from dish, discard any liquid. Grill chicken until cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on size of pieces. Use a meat thermometer; cook to 165 degrees in the thickest part of the meat.

Sweet and Sour Pac Choi
We had this for supper last night, the greens are a little tangy and the sauce is sweet. Serves 4.

2 tbsp oil
1 onion, cut in slivers
pac choi, left whole, bigger ones cut in half the long way
2 tbsp maple sugar
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce

Combine sugar, vinegar, soy sauce in a small bowl. Set aside. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok or large skillet. Stir fry the onions until browning, remove to a bowl. Add remaining tbsp oil, stir fry the pac choi in a couple batches until they have a few browned spots, the green tops wilt and the stems are crisp tender. Add the onions back into the wok with all the greens and stir in the sauce. Cook another 30 seconds. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes if you like.

Maple Vinegar Glazed Parsnips
from Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini by Elizabeth Schneider
these are sweet and rich, a nice counterpoint to the greens above.

2 lbs parsnips, peeled and cut in even chunks
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 c water
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp cider vinegar
black pepper

Preheat oven to 400. In a large roasting pan, toss parsnips with oil and salt. Set pan on a burner over medium heat and add water. Bring to a simmer. Place in oven and roast until tender, turning frequently. This could take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. When fork tender, drizzle with maple syrup and vinegars. Toss gently; roast until deeply browned and glazed, turning once or twice, about 10 minutes. Serve with fresh ground black pepper.

Maple Granola
If you're thinking it's not oats weather anymore, think again! I often eat granola, yogurt and fruit for breakfast in the summer.

2 c maples syrup, grade B
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 c oil
2 1/2 pounds rolled oats
3 c any combination of the following: oat bran, mixed cracked grains, sesame seed, wheat germ, sunflower seed, etc
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Combine syrup, vanilla and oil in a liquid measuring cup. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl; mix in the liquids. Combine well. Spread in a couple baking pans, such as jelly roll or roasting pans. Bake 30 minutes, stirring a couple times. Add a cup of chopped nuts for the last 10 minutes, if desired.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Good Eats Newsletter - April 16, 2008

Farm Update
Pete, Meg, Heather and Jeffrey have been busy sowing, transplanting, tending and harvesting in the greenhouse. Heather even brought her 1 year old daughter, Naomi, down in her backpack and helped transplant about 1500 tomato seedlings! We think that you will really enjoy the results in your share tomorrow. I was able to stroll down to the greenhouse on Thursday and pick some pac choi and salad turnips to use in this week's recipes. What a treat!

Meg has had her camera down at the greenhouse on several occasions and I uploaded some of her photos to Flickr this weekend. Now you can see what we've been up to in the greenhouse. The new portable greenhouse is coming right along, too. Again, thank you for your patience as this project has progressed.

I would also like to take the opportunity this week to introduce you to Jeffrey Ferrell, our new Kitchen Manger. We are very excited about having Jeffrey join us at the farm, as he has a great depth of kitchen knowledge and experience, combined with a sincere desire to work in agriculture. Having graduated from NECI, Jeffrey has spent time in many fine restaurants in New Orleans, Montana, Chicago and Vermont. He also worked at Resource Center - City Farm in Chicago, a sustainable, organic farm in the heart of the city. In addition to helping out in the greenhouse, Jeffrey has been hard at work researching and selecting equipment for the new on-farm kitchen where he will be spending most of his time this summer creating items for the CSA share and farmstand. We'll keep you posted as the kitchen takes shape.

Finally, I wanted to let you know that Heather will be taking the reigns of the newsletter for the next couple of weeks. Thank you Heather! I will be away from the farm for a couple of weeks, returning on May 1st. I do plan to check my email every couple of days, so if you have a question or an issue, please go ahead and send it to Nancy@Petesgreens.com.

Summer Share
As we mentioned a few weeks back, we are already looking ahead to the Summer Share. This share is always our most diverse as produce goes, with a great selection of heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes, mesclun, various greens, onions, carrots, eggplant, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes, herbs, sweet and hot peppers, summer and winter squash, just to name a few. The summer is also our longest share period at 18 weeks. We'll be offering two types of shares starting June 18th, the Vegetable/Localvore Share, as well as a Vegetable Only Share. You can get a good idea of what's included in each of these shares on the Summer Share page. If you are planning on joining us for the summer, please make yourself a note to send in the sign-up form. We don't cash your checks until right before the share starts.

Tell Your Friends
In the past we have filled our shares and ended up turning away some folks who would have really liked to participate. This summer we have decided to dedicate more resources to Good Eats, enabling us to increase the number of shareholders that we can serve. So, if you know of a family member who has wanted to join in the past, or a friend that you think would really enjoy the share, please let them know. They can visit our Good Eats page for all the information, as well as email me for any information.

This Week's Share Contains
Mesclun; Mix of Green and/or Purple Pac Choi and Tatsoi; European Cucumber; Sweet Salad Turnips; Purple Adirondack Potatoes; Frozen Strawberries; Pete's Eggs; Oyster or Shiitake Mushrooms from Amir Habib; Elmore Roots Elderberry Jam; Butter; and Elmore Mountain Bread.

Bread Ingredients: Honey Oat Bread Organic sifted wheat flour, organic rolled oats, Vermont Honey, sea salt, water, yeast

Storage and Use Tips
Pac Choi - Sometimes known as "bok choi," as well as several other names, (learn more here), these are excellent cooking greens for soups and stir-fries. Refrigerate unwashed choi in a plastic container or in a loosely wrapped plastic bag. Choi is best when used within several days.
Tatsoi - Looking very similar to the pac choi, tatsoi has crinklier leaves. You can see photos of all in the greenhouse gallery. Store and cook as you would pac choi.
Mesclun Mix - Store these greens in your crisper drawer where they will keep for several days. I find they last well if you wrap a small kitchen towel around them in the bag with the greens to soak up any extra moisture plastic bag in the fridge.
Cucumber - Store cukes unwashed, in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer. It's best to keep them away from apples, tomatoes and citrus that can give off ethylene gas, hastening deterioration.
Salad Turnips - These turnips, sweet and delicious, are a distant relative our storage turnips. Requiring no cooking, they make a wonderful snack or salad garnish. The greens can be sauted, stir-fried, or torn and added to a salad. Always remove the greens before storing. The greens and turnips can be kept separately wrapped in plastic in the crisper drawer.
Frozen Strawberries - Keep the berries frozen until ready to use. Let them sit on the counter for about 10 minutes before using a spoon to scrape out their hulls. Don't wait too long or the berries will be too soft to hull.
Mushrooms - Store mushrooms in a paper bag in the refrigerator. Use within a few days for the best taste and texture. Remove the stems from shiitakes before using the caps. The stems can be added to stocks for extra flavor.
Butter- Great for baking and of course on bread with jam!

Localvore 'Lore from Heather
Thanks so much for the great responses to the survey a couple weeks ago. I take all of the comments seriously, while keeping in mind that you are a diverse group. Some of you love an item, such as the bread, and then the next person really doesn't. I understand. If you have a specific comment which you'd like to discuss, please email me directly at heather@petesgreens.com. The survey was anonymous, so I am unable to reply to those responses.

That said, I'm working on getting salt, seaweed and maple syrup for this share. I will not include another pie this share, but likely we'll include one once a share. I also noted that many of you wished we included meat, and some of you had expected more than one chicken in the previous share. It just turned out that we did not have enough chickens raised here at Pete's to include more. For the summer share I do have plans for some local meat from other farms. We'll see if that also turns into a separate meat share at some point.

The Chickens are ready to get outside and forage! Every time I open the coop door lately, a few of them escape. We need a little more snow to melt, and then we'll see about setting up their outdoor accommodations. I am also ready for the water in the coop to be turned back on. While we had snow,I was able to haul water buckets on a sled; Now I'm back to lugging them. Builds muscle and character, right?!

I went up Elmore Mountain, where there's even more snow, to pick up the lovely Elderberry jam. They still have some serious snow pack up there at Elmore Roots Nursery, but they are open for the season. I spoke with owner David about their jam and nursery. We were hoping to get a 100% localvore jam made with honey or maple syrup, but he explained why they use organic sugar instead. They planted the orchards and berries, harvest the fruit, and make the jam. It is clearly a labor of love. He told me that when they tried using honey or maple, it overpowered the fruit flavor. So they strive for a product which highlights the fruit, using the minimum sweetener needed. This batch of Elderberry Jam was just made a few weeks ago from fruit they harvested and froze last summer. Sweet!

This afternoon I'm on my way to Quebec to pick up grains, butter and miso! I'll fill you all in on my adventures next week.

Recipes
It was so much fun to create these recipes with spring's first bounty. I hope you enjoy cooking this week as much as I have.

Fresh Spring Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
The shredded carrot and beet add lovely color to this salad otherwise composed of all new spring growth. I'm guessing that you may have a carrot or two left from earlier weeks.....Serves 4.

5 cups mesclun
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 medium beet, preferably chioggia, shredded
4-6 salad turnips, sliced
1/2 European cucumber, sliced thin
salt and pepper to taste

Buttermilk Dressing
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 TB sour cream
2
TB mayonnaise
1/4 tsp dried tarragon, crumbled
1/2
tsp minced garlic, mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4
tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, place mesclun, carrot, beet, turnips and cucumber. In a measuring cup or small bowl whisk together all dressing ingredients. Just before serving, pour dressing over salad mixture. Toss. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Thai Green Curry with Potatoes, Mushrooms and Choi
The purple potatoes really brighten up this green curry, but feel free to use yellow if you prefer. Adding the tofu makes a tasty side into a delicious main course perfect for a hectic weekday evening. Serves 4.

2 TB sunflower oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
6 oz oyster or shiitake mushrooms
2 TB Thai green curry paste
1 can coconut milk
2 TB fish sauce
2 TB honey
1/4 tsp salt
1 lb potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed and cut into 1/4" slices
12 oz firm tofu, halved lengthwise, then cut into 1/2" strips (optional)
2 small heads (or 1 large) pac choi, roughly chopped (feel free to mix in some tatsoi)
2 TB limejuice
2 cups cooked rice

Heat oil in a large, deep skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms; continue to stir for another 2 minutes. Add the curry paste, toss with the veggies and cook for about 30 seconds. Stir in coconut milk, fish sauce, honey and salt. Add potatoes and tofu, if using, and toss to coat. Bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in pac choi. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Stir in limejuice. Serve over rice.

Greens with Wild Ginger-Maple Vinaigrette
Here's another salad idea. It just seems a shame to do anything else with these gorgeous super tender greens! I found this recipe in The New American Cooking by Joan Nathan. It has a connection to NECI as well; the recipe is one she got from a wild foods dinner they prepared.

1 cup dressing
3 TBSP Peeled, minced wild ginger, or 2 TBSP store bought
pinch of salt
2 cloves garlic
1 shallot, chopped
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sherry
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
fresh ground pepper
1/4 c maple syrup
1/4 c oil
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Mince ginger, salt, garlic and shallots in a food processor. Whiz in the rest of the ingredients, except the oils. Set aside for about an hour, then slowly whisk in the oils until emulsified. Check seasoning to your taste.

6 C mixed salad greens
a few thinly sliced mushrooms
thinly sliced half-moons of salad turnip
1 pound roasted beets, carrots, etc
Toss greens with a bit of dressing; use it sparingly so you don't overpower the delicate greens. Top with mushrooms, turnip and beets and a grinding of fresh black pepper
Now for dessert...

Strawberry Clafouti
This French custard tart has an unusual name, but it's a lovely and simple treat. Serve warm or at room temperature with a bit of whipped cream.

Butter a 10 inch baking dish, like a pie plate. Preheat oven to 375
Battter:
3/4 c flour
2/3 c maple sugar
3 eggs
1 1/4 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
Whisk together flour and sugar. In another bowl, beat the eggs until foamy, beat in the milk and vanilla. Gradually whisk into the flour and stir until smooth.

Berries:
2 c frozen strawberries
while just barely thawed, remove hulls from berries, blot with a paper towel, and chop them a bit. Spread evenly in the bottom of the baking dish. Pour on the batter. Bake 35 minutes, until a tester comes clean from the middle.