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!

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.

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