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.

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