Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Good Eats Newsletter - July 30, 2008

Pete's Musings
Hi Folks, We've had a tough week and a half on the farm due to excessive rain. I just heard this morning that this July is the fifth wettest month on record in St. Jay. For most of you this will be the third week in a row with no baby greens. The first week we planned to not give out greens because we have heard in the past the some of you prefer a break from them. But the past 2 weeks, we just have not been able to scrape them together. Several crops were torn by hard rain and then other beds yellowed or just didn't grow. The rest of the farm is fairing fairly well, especially if it stops raining. We are looking good on greens starting next week. The farm has lost a lot of money the past 2 weeks due to the rain. So, hopefully, we will have a good second half of the summer. -Pete

Weekly CSA in Pictures
During the Open House the other week, I had the pleasure of meeting Ed Walker and his wife Lauren Kusiv. They live on Adams Court, just down the street from the Romms who host our south end of Burlington pick-up spot. Ed and Lauren have been documenting in photographs the weekly shares they've been receiving this summer. On their Flikr page, they've also captured many of the dishes they've made with the week's bounty. Enjoy the photos!

Vermont Earth Institute - Menu for the Future
The Vermont Earth Institute recently contacted me regarding their new discussion course called "Menu for the Future." There have been several of our members who have been able to participate in the program, including Kate Stephenson, who was on the editing committee that developed the reader out of the Northwest Earth Institute in Portland, OR. I asked Kate to fill everyone in on the program and this is what she put together:

Menu for the Future focuses on the topic of food, local eating, food politics, and how we make decisions about what we eat. The way it works is that a group of 8-10 people gets together (it can be friends, co-workers, church members, or a group that hadn't previously known each other) and commit to meeting for 6 sessions (you choose as a group when and where). The course reader is available for $18 and includes 6 chapters-- each focusing on a different topic under the larger umbrella of food issues-- and each chapter includes a handful of essays, articles and poems. These are short pieces and each chapter takes less than half an hour to read. Then when the group meets there is an open discussion-- one person will volunteer to facilitate and keep the group to the time allotted, and that's pretty much it! I was able to join a group of folks from Calais, Montpelier and Berlin at the beginning of the summer, which was great fun. We decided to do a potluck dinner each session (since the topic was food!) and rotated around to different houses. I only knew a few of the folks in the group previously, so it was a great way to meet new people and have some really engaging conversation about something I feel really passionate about.

If anyone is interested in joining a discussion group, or starting up your own group, contact the Vermont Earth Institute staff in Central VT-- Nicole DiDomenico, 279-2371.

Packing Your CSA Shares - Photos
I (Nancy) have an editorial correction to make. Last week, I posted an article on the blog about putting the weekly summer CSA shares together. In the newsletter description, I bemoaned the fact that I had lost my camera with all of the pictures of picking and washing the produce. I believe the words I used about my camera were, "never to be seen again." It should have read, "never to be seen, until I looked in the drawer where the camera belongs." So, the pictures that go along with the process are now posted with the story.

This Week's Share Contains
Mixed Yellow Potatoes; Alisa Craig Onions; Mixed Colorful -or- Sugarsnax Carrots; Bunch Green Kale; Bunch Flat Leaf Parsley; Savoy Cabbage; Bunch Garlic Scapes; Radicchio; Broccoli/Cauliflower Mix -or- Mixed Green Beans -or- Green Peppers.

Localvore Share:
Gleason Grains Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, Eggs, Pete's Kitchen Pickles.

Storage and Use Tips
Carrots: Pete's is known for the beautiful assortment of heirloom carrots and rare varieties that we grow. This week, you'll either receive a bunch of colorful carrots or sugarsnax. As the name implies, the sugarsnax are particularly sweet and much loved by kids and adults alike. They are a long orange carrot. Carrots should be stored unwashed, loosely wrapped in the crisper drawer of your fridge.
Kale: The closes thing to salad greens in your share today, the variety in your bags will be Green Kale. If you're really jonesing for a green salad, try removing the stems from the kale and slicing the leaves into very, very thin ribbons. Toss this with a nice dressing and veggies of your choice for a hearty salad. You can see how this kale looks compared to other varieties that we grow on our Vegetable Greens Identification page. Kale should be stored unwashed, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer.
Savoy Cabbage: Round with crinkled leaves, Savoys are the beauties of the cabbage world. Their leaves are more delicate and more loosely packed than their green cabbage cousins. Store as you would other cabbages, unwashed, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer. Don't worry if the outer leaves begin to discolor or tear on you, just remove them to expose the perfectly good leaves remaining below.

Localvore 'Lore from Heather
Pete's Kitchen Pickles! Jeffrey has been busy making barrels and barrels of pickles! These are lacto-fermented, made with a brine of salt, water, fresh dill, garlic, peppercorns and mustard seed. We were able to get loads of pickling cucumbers from High Mowing seeds that went into the mix along with the cukes grown here. We have lots of pickles! The cucumbers are layered into 55 gallon barrels, covered with brine and sealed with a bag of brine; another loose fitting lid is placed on top. It's important that the cucumbers are fully submerged and that air is sealed out while still allowing fermentation gases to escape. The pickles ferment at room temperature for 5 to 6 days. When they turn from salty to sour they are ready for refrigeration.

Jeffrey made a test batch a couple of weeks ago, and learned a few things along the way. He says he wishes he started with a smaller batch than 20 bushels! Ah well, now there are lots of extras for staff to eat. My 16-month old daughter Naomi enjoyed three of them yesterday before I cut her off! The pickles Jeffrey packed for the share are perfect half-sours. Please keep them in the fridge, if they last that long!

The eggs this week are form Pete's and Vermont Compost Company in Montpelier. Our chickens aren't producing enough eggs for us to include them in the share as often as we'd like. I have been looking for another egg producer so we can include eggs every two weeks. Last week I thought Vermont Compost would be able to supply us, but it isn't going to work out long term. A couple of other smaller farms in Craftsbury I contacted aren't able to sell us eggs either. So I'll keep looking. If you know of a possible egg source, please drop me an email!

The whole-wheat pastry flour this week is from Ben Gleason in Bridport, VT. I have made delicious muffins, scones, pancakes, waffles, piecrust and more with this flour. Sometimes I use part unbleached flour, depending on what I'm baking. With a lower gluten content than bread flour, this pastry flour makes very tender baked goods. It will not work for kneaded yeast breads, though!

Kale Quesadillas
Serve these with your favorite fresh or canned salsa and a dollop of creme fraiche. The Indian Cabbage and Carrot Salad, below, would make a perfect side dish. Approximately 4 servings.

1 TB sunflower oil or bacon fat
1/2 a sweet onion, minced
2 garlic scapes, minced
One bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
1 large green pepper, stems and seeds removed, chopped (optional)
1/4 tsp kosher salt, or more to taste
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
1 tsp ground cumin
1 TB minced fresh oregano, or 1 tsp dried, crumbled
8 oz Neighborly Farms Monterey or Pepper Jack Cheese, shredded
2 extra large (12") flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 375F. Heat oil or bacon fat in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and scapes and saute until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add kale, green pepper if using, salt, pepper, cumin and oregano. Toss to combine and continue sauteing until kale is nicely wilted, about 3-5 minutes more. Taste mixture and adjust seasonings.

Lay bottom tortilla on a greased cookie sheet or round baking stone. Spread kale mixture evenly over tortilla and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Cover with second tortilla. Place in heated oven and bake until cheese is nicely melted, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, cut into wedges and serve with salsa and creme fraiche or sour cream.

Roasted Potatoes with Scapes and Parsley
These potatoes make a delicious side for grilled meats with a helping of grilled radicchio. Save the leftovers to use in the Roasted Potato Salad below. Makes enough for 3-4 servings, plus reserves for the potato salad.

2.5 lbs. potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1" - 1.5" chunks
3 TB sunflower or olive oil
3 garlic scapes, sliced very thin
Generous sprinkling of Maine sea or kosher salt to taste
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375F. Toss potatoes with oil, scapes and salt. Spread out on a large cookie sheet or sheet pan. Roast, tossing every 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are nicely browned on the outside and soft on the inside, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven toss with parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Potato Salad
The toasted mustard seeds in the dressing make this potato salad something special. If you've got some grilled radicchio on hand, toss in about a quarter head thinly sliced. Both the color and the crunch will be welcome additions. Serves 4.

3-4 cups leftover roasted potatoes
1 TB brown mustard seeds
1/4 cup good mayonnaise, homemade or Hellmann's
3 TB cider vinegar
2 TB Dijon mustard
1/2 cup chopped pickles
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 hard boiled egg, chopped
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Remove potatoes from refrigerator about 30 minutes before you begin to prepare the dressing. Place them in a medium bowl. Heat small frying pan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and cook, keeping seeds in the pan moving, until seeds begin to brown, about 30 seconds. Immediately add seeds to mayonnaise in a small bowl. Add vinegar, Dijon, pickles, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Pour over potatoes. Add chopped egg and parsley. Mix to combine.

Indian Cabbage and Carrot Salad
From the "Lite and Luscious Cuisine of India" cookbook, by Madhu Gadia. 4 servings.

4 cups cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, scrubbed and grated
1 tsp sunflower oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
pinch of turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Heat oil in a heavy skillet on high heat. Add mustard seeds, cover with a lid to avoid splattering and cook for a few seconds until the mustard seeds stop popping. Add the cabbage and carrots and then the turmeric, salt and pepper. Stir to mix. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, until heated through. Do not overcook. The cabbage should be just barely cooked. Transfer to a serving platter immediately.

Onion and Thyme Flan
Sweet onions are key for this dish. If you like, bake it in a crust and call it a quiche. Serves 4-6.

3 large sweet onions
2 TB butter
1 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh thyme
fresh black pepper
2 TB sherry or Marsala
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
4 oz grated sharp cheese

Preheat oven to 350F. Peel and chop the onions. Melt butter in a large skillet and cook the onions with a bit of salt over low heat until golden and melting soft. This will take about 1/2 hour. Stir gently and often to prevent burning. Add the thyme, pepper and Marsala and stir, cooking until the liquid cooks off. Remove from heat.

Whisk together the eggs, milk and a pinch of salt.

Without a crust: stir the onions and cheese into the eggs. Pour mixture into a buttered baking dish. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until set and a knife comes out clean.

With a crust, layer 1/2 the cheese then onions in crust and pour over the egg mixture. Then top with remaining cheese and bake as above.

Whole Wheat Crust
Makes a single 9" crust, doubles easily.

1/2 stick butter (4 TB)
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
scant 1/4 tsp salt
about 3 TB iced water or buttermilk

Mix together flour and salt. Cut butter into dry ingredients until crumbly. Toss to combine with the iced water or buttermilk. Add just enough liquid to create a dough that just comes together. Press into a disk, wrap and chill 30 minutes. Roll out to fit pie plate and crimp edge. Cover and keep in the refrigerator until ready to fill.

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