Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Good Eats Newsletter - May 7, 2008

Pete's Musings
Things are clicking along on the farm. We bravely, (perhaps foolishly,) transplanted 4,000 pepper plants, eggplants, zukes and cukes outside last week. They are under row cover and have already weathered 3 frosts nicely. They'll be fine unless we have a night in the mid to low 20's, in which case I'll be
up all night keeping them irrigated and they will probably still be fine. If you like colored peppers you're going to like our summer share. We hope to have plenty of colored peppers to freeze as well.

The greenhouse tomatoes are coming along, many plants showing golf ball sized fruits. The crew is in the midst of a multi-day onion transplanting marathon. They are tedious to get into the ground and we need a couple hundred thousand onions
to keep you voracious eaters happy through the winter. Enjoy Spring! -Pete

Summer CSA Share Pricing
If you've been watching, reading or listening to the news lately, you can't have missed the headlines regarding the ever-increasing price of food. With the price of fuel climbing at record pace, a shortage of conventional fertilizer and crops being dedicated for biofuels, household food budgets are being stretched thin.

In this climate, CSAs are actually an excellent way of preserving your dollar's food buying power. This year's Good Eats weekly Summer Share cost is actually about a dollar less than last fall's. We anticipate including at least as much produce per dollar in the weekly deliveries this summer as last. That will make over a year of local, organic food deliveries without an increase.

So, how can we do it and remain viable? For one, we don't use synthetic fertilizers relyi
ng on petroleum for their production, so we are protected from those escalating prices. We are also constantly learning and improving our growing practices. With two years of growing for CSAs under our belts, we can plan our crops to more efficiently meet the needs of our weekly share deliveries.

We know that it can be difficult to write that large check at the beginning of the share period and we try hard to make sure that you receive good value for the $45 weekly share price. We have recently heard from a couple of shareholders who echoed the same sentiment, that once they joined Good Eats, they saw their total monthly food expenditures decrease by almost $200 a month. We are curious about how you feel that being a member of Pete's CSA affects your weekly grocery budget. If you track that type of thing and would be willing to share, please email me with y
our feedback.

Popcorn Warning
Farm apologies go out to share member Suzanne Podhaizer and all the folks in her office. Suzanne created smoke and concern instead of a tasty snack by following our directions to microwave a popcorn cob in a paper bag. Though this a method published on the Foo
d Network site, a Google search uncovers many instances of paper bags beginning to smoke and catch fire in the microwave. We will be recommending popping corn on the stovetop or in a microwave-safe covered dish from now on. I just tried using my corning casserole with the glass cover to nuke some loose popping corn and it worked great. As we are all out of the popcorn on the cob, I am unable to test this.

If you live on the edge and still wish to microwave your popping corn in a paper bag, I've uncovered a bit of information on the Web. 1) Use a smaller lunch-type bag instead of a larger heaver bag. There were more instances of the heavier bags beginning to smolder than the lighter-weight varieties. 2) Bags made of recycled paper can contain traces of metal and may be more flammable. 3) Stand watch over the microwave. Bags can begin to smoke within about 30 seconds. 4) Use a food grade bag to minimize health risks.

Dinner with Michael Pollan
The Vermont Fresh Network is having a benefit raffle that we think our shareholders would be delighte
d to win. The prize is dinner and conversation with Michael Pollan, author of the best-selling book Omnivore's Dilemma.

The Vermont Fresh Network (VFN) dinner with Michael Pollan will give a small group of diners the rare opportunity to talk with Pollan one-on-one while enjoying a meal featuring seasonal farm fresh fare at Penny Cluse Café in Burlington prepared by chef/owner Charles Reeves and chef Maura O'Sullivan. Pollan is coming to Vermont as part of a guest lecture series organized by the Vermont Food Systems Leadership and Policy Institute (a program of the University of Vermont).

To find out more about the June 10th dinner or to purchase a raffle ticket, visit: http://www.vermontfresh.net/vfnraffle/.

This Week's Share Contains
Mixed Potatoes; Spring Dug Parsnips; Savoy Cabbage; Mesclun Braising Mix;
Champlain Orchards Apples; Butterworks Farm Yogurt; Dulse Seaweed; Pearled Barley from Michel Gaudreau; and Patchwork Bread.
Also....
1 Bunch Basil -or- 1 Bunch Flat Leaf Parsley -or- 1 European Cucumber *;
1 Bunch Chives -or- 1 Bunch Scallions*;
1 Bunch Greens May Include One or More of the Following*: Wild Arugula, Mizuna, Purple Mizuna, Mustard, Red Giant Mustard, and Arugula;
*As we ramp up our production for the season, we will sometimes be including different items at different sites. Thus, for example, when you open your produce bag this week, you may find basil, scallions and arugula; or a cuke, chives and a mix of mustard and mizuna greens. Though contents my differ slightly, all bags will be of the same value.

Roasted Potato Bread Ingredients: wheat flour, whole wheat flour, barley flour, Patchwork potatoes, sourdough, salt, deep well water

Onion Pillow Ingredients: organic wheat flour, organic barley flour, yeast, salt, well water, Riverside Farm onions

Storage and Use Tips
Parsnips - Overwintering in the ground intensifies the sweetness of parsnips. These are oh so good. You can keep them in plastic in the crisper drawer for at least a week. My husband's favorite way to eat parsnips is to cut them into 1 centimeter thick circles and par boil for 3-7 minutes. He then drains them and pan fries them in butter. If you poured maple syrup over them, they could almost be dessert.
Basil, Chives, Parsley, Scallions - Wrap these in a paper towel before placing in a plastic bag. They will keep in the crisper drawer for several days, the scallions and parsley longer.
Pearled Barley - Keeping barley sealed in a cool dark place, it will last at least 6 months. You can cook it and toss it cold with dressing and veggies for a nice salad, or use it in soups or stews. It also cooks down into a really nice risotto, without all of the attention and stirring required with Arborio rice. If you give these guys a soak for 6+ hours in cold water before use, you can reduce your cooking time by more than half.

Localvore 'Lore from Heather
The seaweed is here! I spoke with Matt from Ironbound Island Seaweed a couple of weeks ago, and asked which variety would be best to include for our members with the fresh salad and Asian greens we're harvesting. He said the dulse is perfect for salads, tender with a beautiful purple color. But don't stop there, he also recommends it for stir- fry and chowder. There is a great informational brochure included in the seaweed package, with several recipe ideas. For photographs of their operation, checkout http://www.ironboundisland.com/photos.htm.

From their website:

Ironbound Island Seaweed is a worker owned company dedicated to the sustainable harvesting of wild seaweeds from the cold, clean waters of the Schoodic Peninsula and surrounding islands of eastern Maine. The season begins in spring when the seaweeds are at their peak, well before the trees have begun to leaf out. We work with the early morning low tides, often leaving before sunrise for the hour long journey by wooden boat to the outer islands. The edible seaweeds thrive there on ledges that break just above the water line on the new and full moon tides. From the boat we scramble onto exposed rocks and harvest waist high in the waves, taking care to leave plenty of plants for regeneration. The harvest is focused and intense; soon the tide returns swallowing the ledges and covering the seaweed beds. We hang the seaweed in the sun and it dries within 36 hours. On foggy days the seaweed is moved to a wood heated drying house. The whole leaves are then carefully packaged to bring you a sweet, dark seaweed unsurpassed.

From another website, the Mendocino Sea Vegetable Company, I found a lot of great ideas and information about Dulse. I hope you all enjoy it!

Dulse is a versatile sea vegetable which lends a unique, intense taste when added to a wide variety of dishes. Many people enjoy chewing dried dulse as it is a very salty snack. Indeed, many dulse lovers have told us that their bodies seem to crave dulse, and they just eat it straight from the bag while working, from artists in their studios to academicians at their desks.
  • Dried dulse snipped with scissors into tiny pieces becomes a salty condiment which may be used to season anything.
  • Dulse adds a unique flavor accent which perfectly complements potatoes, eggs, vegetables, rice, casseroles, and chowders.
  • Dulse and potatoes are made for each other! Snip dulse with scissors and sprinkle on baked boiled, mashed, or fired potatoes.
  • Dulse is great sprinkled on salads, pizza (like anchovies), on or in omelettes or scrambled eggs (like bacon).
As you become familiar with the taste qualities of dulse, try it on rice dishes, casseroles, vegetable dishes, and in chowders. Because dulse is so delicate and fragile in texture, it becomes mushy when cooked. We prefer to use dulse raw, sprinkled as flakes on cooked food; or steamed for a moment, or cooked in scrambled eggs and omelettes.

Try tossing dulse in a little bit of butter in the frying and serving the crisp dulse on the side with eggs or as a 'dulse, tomatoe & lettuce sandwich.

For yummy baked beans replace the pork with 1/2 c. dulse and 1/2 c. of olive oil.
Soaked, dulse softens gradually and becomes less salty. It may then be added to salads and sandwiches. In a soup, stew or chowder, dulse softens quickly and gradually dissolves.

Recipes
Roasted Vegetable and Barley Stew
The sweetness of the parsnips and cabbage really come out with roasting. Soaking the barley for at least 6 hours is crucial to having it cook faster. As this is a hearty stew, you may want to make it later in the week when the weather turns cold and rainy again. Serves 4-6.

4 slices of bacon
1 small onion, sliced thin
1/2 head of savoy cabbage, roughly chopped into 1" pieces w/leaves separated
1 tsp. salt
1 lb. potatoes, scrubbed and diced into 3/4" cubes
1 1/2 lb. parsnips, peeled and cut into 3/4" pieces
1 TB olive oil
1 cup pearled barley, rinsed, soaked over night and drained
4 cups vegetable stock
2 TB balsamic vinegar
2 TB maple syrup
2 TB chopped fresh basil or parsley, -or- 1 tsp. dried rubbed sage
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450F. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, cook bacon over medium heat. When bacon is finished cooking, remove, cool, crumble and reserve. Increase heat to medium-high. Add sliced onion to hot bacon fat and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add half of the cabbage pieces, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt and toss to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally until the cabbage begins to wilt (3-5 minutes). Add remaining cabbage, sprinkle with remaining salt and toss with already warmed cabbage. Once the new cabbage begins to wilt, add potatoes and parsnips and toss to coat. Pour mixture onto large cookie sheet or sheet pan. Roast in hot oven for approximately 30 minutes, tossing veggies every 10 minutes. 15 minutes into the cooking time, sprinkle veggies with vinegar and maple syrup and toss to coat. Continue roasting.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in clean heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add drained barley and cook, stirring frequently, for about a minute. Add broth, bring to boil, cover and simmer until barley is al dente, about 30 minutes. Add roasted vegetables and reserved crumbled bacon to the cooked barley. Add dried or fresh herbs and stir to combine. Season to taste. Serve warm with crusty bread.

Spring Greens and Barley Risotto
Any quick cooking spring greens will work nicely in this dish. Try a braising green mix, arugula, spinach, etc. Just don't leave it in to cook too long. Serves 4.

2 TB sunflower oil
2 large shallots, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups barley, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp freshly grated black pepper
1 bunch of spring greens, washed, spun dry and chopped
4 oz. grated sharp, hard local cheese, such as Green Mountain Gruyere or Prima Caciotta from Dancing Ewe Farm
2 TB chopped fresh chives
2 TB chopped fresh basil or parsley

Heat oil over medium heat in a 10" frying pan with 2" deep sides. Add shallots and salt; cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes. Do not let shallots begin to brown. Add barley and cook stirring frequently for about 1 minute. Add wine and stir until the liquid is absorbed by the barley, about 1-2 minutes. Add the broth, nutmeg and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 1 hr. 15 minutes. Begin checking for doneness after 50 minutes. The liquid should be absorbed, the grains softened and gluteness, yet still have just a bit of chew. Stir in greens, cover until just wilted. Reduce heat to very low. Stir in cheese and herbs. Serve warm.

Potato Pancakes with Dulse
Here's a recipe Heather found online from a seaweed company in Ireland. She suggests adding a bit of minced onion or chives.

1lb Cooked Mashed Potato
2 TB Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/4oz (7g) of Finely Chopped Dulse
salt and pepper
1 cup Golden Bread Crumbs
Olive Oil for frying

Mix first three ingredients together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Split into portions and roll in golden breadcrumbs. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Shallow or deep fry in olive oil. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve.

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