Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Good Eats Newsletter - September 24, 2008

Farm Update
Well the frost finally hit us a bit last night. We managed to cover everything we needed to for the first frost last week. But, yesterday things were so busy at the farm and the weather forecast not as dire as the week before. By 9 o'clock, however, there was already frost forming on the trucks. Meg went out to gather all of the potatoes that had been dug, but not pulled in. The frost would have gotten them for sure. She was out there in the dark, working by the glow of her truck's headlights. She managed to save them all. Our zucchini got hit, though, and it is probably done now for the season. We think that our peppers, tomatillos and just about everything else should be fine.

On a brighter note, the warm days have been doing wonders for our crops still left in the fields. We think that you'll be pleased with the beautiful kale and broccoli in your bags this week!

Pete's Greens T-Shirts
Pete and I first talked about getting new t-shirts for the farm when I started working here in January. I am happy to say that they are finally finished. The artwork on the shirts was drawn exclusively for Pete's.




Meg and Tim model the shirts

We are selling the 100% organic cotton shirts for $10 for short sleeved, $12 for long. The shorts are all natural in color; the long sleeved are all white. If you would like a shirt, please fill out the t-shirt order form on our Website and mail it to the farm with your check. We will deliver your shirt(s) to your CSA site to pick-up with your next CSA delivery. We also hope to be selling the shirts at the Montpelier Farmer's Market.

Scallops
One of our shareholders gave us a lead on some Maine sea scallops that we are looking into. They are sustainably harvested by a coop of fishermen in Cobscook Bay. While we know that they come from outside of our 100-mile radius, we also understand how difficult it can be to find a reliable seafood source here in Vermont. If you have an opinion on this, please send me an email.

Only Three Deliveries Left
This share period has really flown by. After tomorrow, there are only 3 deliveries left in the share. Thank you to everybody who has sent in their enrollment for the next share period. We really appreciate the continuity of our shareholders and value the relationship that we build with you. If you would like to join us for the fall and winter, there are still some spots left. Please send in your form soon, however, as they are filling quickly.

You can find all the information about the share on our Good Eats page. Read through the pages to find the sign-up form. No, we don't hide the form on purpose. But, we do want to make sure that you understand all about the share before signing up. The produce included in the share is much different than that of our Summer Share.

This Week's Share Contains
Broccoli -or- Eggplant; Bunch Orange Carrots; French Breakfast Radishes (Loose, No Greens); Bunch Green Kale; Cippolini Onions; Mars Onions; Edamame; Small Heads Garlic (See Below); Pac Choi; Cherry Tomatoes -or- Beefsteak Tomatoes*;

*Those sites that received cherry tomatoes in the last 2 weeks will receive all beefsteaks this week. This week the cherry tomatoes will go to Middlesex, Grove and Stowe.

Localvore Share:
Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia from Elmore Mountain Bread; Champlain Orchards Apple Cider; And One of the Following:

Meat Eater Shares: Ground Beef from Shadagee Farm;

Vegetarian Shares: Vermont Soy Tofu

Storage and Use Tips
Garlic: As you've probably noticed our garlic has not been very nice as of late. Cosmetically it's not great and occasionally you might find a bulb with some mildew inside. This variety suffered in the summer wetness, but we will be done with it and on to much nicer garlic in a few weeks. We are not charging you for the garlic this week, but the majority of it is perfectly good eating.
Cippolini Onions: Pronounced chip-oh-LEE-nee. These are the short, disk-shaped yellow onions in your bag. Originating in Italy, cippolinis are very sweet and delicious. Try roasting some whole. Peel them, toss with a liberal amount olive oil, a few sprigs of thyme, salt and pepper, and roast in a 375F oven for around 30 minutes, or so. Serve as a side dish. Store in a cool dark place.
Mars Onions: The mars onions are the red ones in your share this week. With burgundy/crimson skin and inner rings, they are excellent raw and delicious cooked. Not as sweet as the cippolinis, they are the better choice when you want your onion to provide a bit more bite in the dish. Store in a cook, dark place.
Edamame: The edamame (soy beans) in your bag are still attached to the stalks. Some of the pods have turned a bit yellow. We think that this is from the cold we've been having. They should still be very good eating, though. To prepare, remove the pods from the stalks. You can do like the Japanese and steam the edamame for about 10 minutes, pod and all, drain well, toss with coarse sea salt and serve. When eating edamame still in the pod, you will want to scrape out the tender beans using your teeth. Enjoy the beans and compost the leftover pods.

Localvore Lore
First we would like to say, "goodbye and good luck!" to Heather. Unfortunately, she has left us to go back to the kitchen at Sterling College. She is also working on a business plan to start her own bakery here in Craftsbury. She will start out by baking by order. Eventually, perhaps, opening a storefront. We are sure that she will be successful in whatever she does and look forward to yummy baked treats here in Craftsbury. Heather, you will be missed!

This week we have another branch of the Urie family supplying food for the share. Shadagee Farm is owned by Neil's (of Bonnieveiw Farm) brother Brett and his wife Marjorie. They run the dairy operation, while their three children have gotten started with other ventures on the farm. According to Marjorie, they believe that it is a really good experience for the kids to get a sense for running their own businesses. They learn how much things cost and how to handle responsibility. Their youngest daughter, Madison, 8 years old, has been trying to start an egg business. Their son Trent, who is 13, runs his own sugaring operation, making and selling syrup.

Meg, 15 and the oldest of the children, decided that she would like to raise the male calves for beef around 3 or 4 years ago. She takes the calves and has them steered, "steered" being the euphemism for taking away their manhood, or keeping them from becoming bulls. Without the testosterone coursing through their bodies, you end up with more tender and better flavored beef. Meg raises them up on pasture, taking good care of them. All of our meat-eater localvores will be receiving about a pound of ground beef from Meg's grass-fed steers. She also sells the meat off of the farm and at the Craftsbury Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings. Their farm is in Craftsbury Common, 2420 ShadowLake Rd. Phone: 586.2879.

Vegetarian Localvores can look forward to tofu in the share this week. Sophia from Vermont Soy dropped the packages off at the farm yesterday. Each Vegetarian-Localvore share should receive 2 pieces of tofu.

The bread this week is from Elmore Mountain and is fantastic. It's a rosemary and sea salt focaccia. It is brushed with the Quebec sunflower oil and topped with fresh rosemary and Maine sea salt. Blaire dropped it off while I was finishing the newsletter. It's hard to concentrate with the smell of freshly-baked focaccia wafting through the air.

Finally, we have the first apple cider we've been able to get this season from Champlain Orchards. Enjoy a nice cool glass on one of these warm, early days of fall.

Recipes
Vegetable Casserole with Tofu Topping
Adapted from a recipe at Epicurious.com. I think that you could substitute small cubes of eggplant for the broccoli in this dish and it would still be delicious. Serves 4-6.

For vegetables
2 tablespoons sunflower or olive oil
2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced lengthwise
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb broccoli, cut into 1" flowerets, stem chopped into 1/2" cubes
1 lb kale, stems and center ribs removed and leaves coarsely chopped
1/2 lb carrots, cut into 1/4-inch-thick matchsticks
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

For topping
1 1/2 cups fine fresh or dried bread crumbs, preferably whole wheat
7 oz firm tofu
1 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons dried basil, crumbled
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon paprika
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Heat oil in a deep 12- to 14-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to moderate and add broccoli, kale, carrots, broth, soy sauce, and salt. (Skillet will be full, but volume will reduce as vegetables steam.) Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a 13- by 9-inch glass baking dish.

Pulse all topping ingredients together in a food processor until combined well. Alternatively, mash ingredients together in a large bowl with a potato masher. Sprinkle tofu mixture over vegetables in baking dish and bake, uncovered, until topping is golden brown and vegetables are heated through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Beef and Pac Choi Wontons
These wontons would also be good with tofu instead of beef. But, be sure to weigh down the tofu wrapped in a (paper) towel for about 30 minutes before chopping it up, to squeeze out any excess moisture. Serves 6-8.

6 TB soy sauce
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 TB honey
1/2lb lean ground beef
1 cup finely chopped pac choi
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 12-ounce package wonton wrappers
2 TB oriental sesame oil

Blend 4 tablespoons soy sauce, 1/4 cup ginger, vinegar and honey in small bowl.
Combine beef (or tofu) and next 6 ingredients in medium bowl. Mix in remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 2 teaspoons ginger. Place several wrappers on work surface; brush edges lightly with water. Place heaping 1 teaspoon beef filling in center of each. Fold wrappers diagonally in half, pressing edges to seal. Place wontons on waxed paper. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.

Preheat oven to 250°F. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat; add 1/4 of wontons. Fry until wontons are golden and filling is cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to baking sheet; keep warm in oven. Repeat frying with remaining wontons, using 1/2 tablespoon oil per batch. Serve wontons with sauce.

Radish and White Bean Salad
Adapted from "A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen," this recipe normally calls for salad greens, but we think that wilted pac choi will make a great stand-in. This week's pac choi got a touch of frost and is all the sweeter for it. Serve with focaccia on the side.

1 lb. radishes, thinly sliced
3 cups cooked white beans (or 2 15oz cans, rinsed and drained)
15 cherry tomatoes halved, or 1 large tomato chopped
8 kalamata olives, pitted & chopped
1 TB drained capers
2 TB minced fresh mint or parsley leaves
3 TB extra-virgin olive oil
2 TB fresh lemon juice
salt
1 TB sunflower or olive oil
1 large head pac choi, sliced thinly sliced, stems divided from greens

Stir the radishes, beans, tomatoes, olives, capers, and mint/parsley together in a medium bowl. Drizzle oil and lemon juice over the salad and toss to combine. Add salt to taste. While the radishes and beans marinate, heat the last tablespoon of oil in a large, heavy bottomed skillet. Add sliced pac choi stems and saute for 2 minutes to soften. Add the greens, turn off the heat and cover the pan. Give the greens a minute to wilt, then toss in with the rest of the salad.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Good Eats Newsletter - September 17, 2008

Please remember to bring back your plastic bags and egg cartons for us to reuse. Thanks!

Pete's Musings
Happy Girl Kitchen Company is based in Aromas, CA, just east of Watsonville and the Monterey Bay. This is the heart of California vegetable and strawberry production with flat, lush valleys surrounded by dry hills. There are mega-sized corporate farms mostly focused on strawberries, raspberries, head lettuce and baby greens, but on the margins of the valley where the land begins to rise into the hills there are beautiful small holdings growing a couple acres of diversified vegetables and fruits. These farmsteads seem to mostly be owned by Mexican Americans. Horses, goats and chickens are common.

My college buddy Todd and his wife Jordan founded Happy Girl several years ago. They purchase produce from organic farms in the area and turn it mostly into canned goods. Some of their top sellers are dry farmed Early Girl canned tomatoes, dill pickles, and strawberry jam. They have access to an incredible abundance of often very inexpensive produce. One day while we were there we met them at the Santa Cruz farmers market. At the end of the market they bought 5 bushels of perfect green beans from a farmer for $30. Last winter another farmer offered them 20,000 lbs. of frozen, hulled organic strawberries for 50 cents a lb. It is amazing to see the ease of production in a climate that is consistently sunny, dry, and not too hot. The downside is that a yearly lease on an acre of land in Watsonville is $2,500 (what we might purchase farmland for in Vermont) and a dumpy 1000 sq. ft. house in Aromas sells for $500,000. I'll take Vermont. -Pete

Good Eats Fall - Winter Share
If you would like to stay with the CSA into February, now's the time to sign-up as the share is filling quickly. The October through February months provide a very diverse mixture of seasonal produce from the farm. Our new greenhouses will allow us to provide greens later into the season than in previous years. Though we begin the share still harvesting from the fields and greenhouses, by mid-share the produce in the CSA bags will be made up mostly of colorful beets, carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, turnips, rutabagas and other roots.

This year we will be growing several varieties of sprouts, so that even in the coldest months, there will be something green in each bag. Each week will also include an assortment of localvore products from our favorite nearby growers and producers, as well as prepared items from Pete's Greens kitchen. It's a very seasonal and satisfying way of eating. To find out more about the share or to sign-up, please visit our Good Eats page. We would love to have you back with us!

Salvation Farms - Edibles Walk
As many of you may know, we have been involved at some level with Salvation Farms since its inception. Salvation Farms organizes volunteer crews for salvaging surplus from farm fields in several regions throughout the state. They will gladly take good, but unmarketable storage crops in the off-season as well. In 2007, they gleaned a total of 53,563 pounds of fresh local produce, 148 loaves of bread, 72 cut flowers, 58 potted perennials, 520 packets of seeds, 200 vegetable starts, and 1 CSA share box!

Salvation Farms arranges for storage and distribution of these farm donations. They consider “Vermonters in need” to include those who are food insecure and/or nutritionally insecure. Now a part of the Vermont Foodbank, Salvation Farms distributes this found produce to local emergency food sites, educational and care giving institutions, retirement communities, non-profits, and the Vermont Foodbank.

On Saturday, September 27th from 10am to noon, Salvation Farms will be hosting a wild edibles walk with experts Nova Kim and Les Hook. You can join them on the Hazen trails for a guided tour searching for wild edible plants and mushrooms. Hazens Trails are located behind Hazen Union High School in Hardwick off of North Main Street.

The event will take place rain or shine. Please bring a notebook and pencil, clear packing tape, comfortable shoes and water. Bring snacks too, as it may run longer. Donations excepted for the VT Foodbank and teachers. For questions call Rebecca Beidler at 888-5055 or email salvagedonation@yahoo.com. Pre-registration is not required.

This Week's Share Contains
Mixed Colorful Beets Including Red, Chioggia, Gold and/or White; Bunch Mizuna; Bag Layered with Spinach and Arugula; Ailsa Craig Onions; Mixed Sweet Peppers; Cherry Tomatoes and/or Beefsteak Tomatoes*;

*Those sites that received cherry tomatoes last week will receive all beefsteaks this week. We don't have quite enough cherry tomatoes this week to give to all who didn't receive them last week. This week they will go to Richmond, Waterbury and Craftsbury. Please take your cherry tomatoes AND a bag of beefsteak tomatoes. Next week, we hope to have enough cherries to go to Middlesex, Grove and Stowe.

Localvore Share:
Red Hen Pain au Levain; Champlain Orchards Ginger Gold Apples; Butternut Mountain Maple Sugar; Vermont Butter and Cheese Butter.

Storage and Use Tips
Spinach: It's been a long time since we've had spinach in the share and we are so happy to have it back in the bags. This is a larger leaf cooking spinach, versus the baby spinach you received for salads earlier in the season. Spinach is a staple ingredient from Persia to China to Europe to America. Like the French, I think that it has an affinity for a grating of nutmeg. Try adding a freshly grated pinch to your steamed, sauteed or creamed preparations as well as to spinach tarts, frittatas and casseroles. Wash the leaves in a sink or large bowl full of water, letting any sandy residue sink to the bottom. Lift out of the water and drain. Throwing it into a pan with a few remaining water droplets will allow it to steam nicely. Store unwashed, bagged in the crisper drawer for several days.
Mizuna: Also know as spider mustard, mizuna is a Japanese mustard green with tender leaves and a pleasant, peppery flavor. You could substitute it, chopped, in a salad calling for arugula. It adds a nice zest to a stir-fry or saute. Store mizuna, unwashed, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer.












Onions: Last week I received an email from one of our shareholders asking for suggestions on what to do with his onions. I thought that I would post my reply here. Don't forget to keep them in the fridge!

Suggestions: French onion soup, caramelized onion pizza, the tart recipe I put in the newsletter a few weeks ago. One of our members said that she caramelizes onions and then freezes them. You could also try pickling and canning them. If you Google, "onions pickled waterbath," you'll get a lot of results that you could pick from. I did this recently and stuck a small chopped up beet in with the onions while they boiled to give them a pink hue.

There's a couple of recipes here on our website.

Finally, my favorite online resource for recipes is Epicurious.com. You could search for just "onions," "onion soup," "stuffed onions," "onion tart," etc.

Localvore this Week
We are thrilled to finally have Red Hen baking for us this week. We've been planning to get them into the bread rotation since the beginning of the share, which is right about the time that La Meunerie Milanaise ran out of their Quebec flour. Randy George and his wife and partner Eliza Cain are very committed to using as much locally grown grains as possible while still maintaining the very high quality of their breads. The flours coming out of Quebec now are allowing them to do both.

Below is an excerpt from a paper that Randy wrote about the flour the bakery is currently using and why:

Given the difficulties that we have had in the past making bread with 100% Vermont flour that met our quality standards, we have explored other sources of currently available flour that is milled from wheat grown closer to Vermont. There is a mill just across the border in Quebec La Meunerie Milanaise, doing a nice job of working with their local farmers to produce good flour for bread-baking. They source 80% of their wheat from farmers in their area (the mill is located 120 miles from Montpelier). Since the beginning of this year, when we began using this flour from Quebec, we have been using this in many of our breads. We continue to use Vermont-grown wheat as much as possible, wherever we can.

We are (and have been since last winter) making some bread that is available year-round that consists almost entirely (about 80 to 85 percent) of ingredients that were grown close to Vermont.


Because of the efforts of the people at Milanaise, we are able to pull this off and still make a loaf of bread that we are entirely satisfied with. It is important to us to do what we can to source flour as locally as possible. Given the challenges involved in doing that, we're proud to be able to say that we are doing that every day of the year for anyone who eats our bread.

The Future of Vermont Wheat
Meanwhile, we are continuing to work with Vermont wheat-growers Ben Gleason and Tom Kenyon in a quest to see if they are able to grow wheat that is better suited to our needs as bread bakers. Some of Tom's recent harvest is at a lab for preliminary testing and Ben will be sending us some samples of a new variety he grew this year for us to try in a bake test. Such an undertaking is a multi-year process, but we are excited about the prospect of someday having a larger supply of Vermont wheat suitable for bread baking.

The following is a breakdown, by percentage, of the sources of the ingredients in our bread. “Other” usually indicates flour from Heartland Mills in Kansas, a small, exclusively organic mill in western Kansas that was started by a group of farmers and consults closely with bakers.


Type of Bread


Vermont


Quebec


Other


Pain au Levain


10


90


0


100% Whole Wheat


0


100


0


Alice’s Rye


0


50


50


Potato Bread


45


0


55


Crossett Hill Round/Batard


20


12


68


Olive Bread


5


12


83


Mad River Grain


4


5


91


Miche


8


10


82


The baguettes, seeded baguettes, Waitsfield common, and ciabatta are made with 100% Kansas
wheat.

The bread in your shares this week is the Pain au Levain, we Randy figures to be made with about 85% local wheat.

We also have Vermont Butter and Cheese lightly salted cultured butter in the share. If you haven't had it before, you're in for a treat. The culturing process gives the butter a depth of flavor that you just don't find in regularly processed stick butter. Here is an excerpt from the Vermont Butter & Cheese Website explaining how the co-founder and head cheesemaker learned of the process of making cultured butter:

While working on a dairy farm in Brittany, France, Allison Hooper took careful note of where the milk went. After each milking, she and the other farmhands set the cream aside. Natural, lactic bacteria then took over, ripening into cultured cream – or crème fraîche. When the thick result was churned into butter, Allison – the future cofounder of Vermont Butter & Cheese Company – knew she had learned something valuable.

Inspired by this lesson, we culture the freshest Vermont cream and churn it to a European-style cultured butter. Higher in butterfat than standard U.S. butter, Vermont Cultured Butter offers the exquisite richness, flavor, and performance of the finest European butters. A salt content significantly lower than typical salted butter enhances its farm-fresh flavor, making it an excellent ingredient in recipes calling for salted or unsalted butter.

If you can restrain yourself from slathering the whole tube of butter on the pain au levain before supper, try using a little bit for baking.


Also in the share this week are ginger gold apples from Champlain Orchards and maple sugar from Butternut Mountain Farm. Maple sugar is delicious, but dear. Try using it in recipes that call for a minimum of sugar, like the Fresh Apple Griddle Cakes below. Maple sugar is slightly sweeter than refined sugar. So you can cut down the quantity in recipes by about 10-15% and still end up with a nicely sweetened pastry or cake.

Recipes
Colorful Tuna Salad Sandwiches
Inspired by a recipe by Isabella's Eatery in the Dishing Up Vermont Cookbook. Serves 2.

1 (12oz) can white tuna in water, drained and well flaked
Juice of 1/2 lemon, strained
1/4 cup minced sweet onion
6 TB plain yogurt
6 TB sour cream
1/2 cup chopped roasted beets, preferably gold, chioggia and/or white.
1 sweet pepper, diced
1 apple, cored, peeled and chopped
4 tsp cider vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Arugula
4 slices pain au levain, (If cutting large slices from center of loaf, cut 2 slices in half to make 4)

Combine the tuna and lemon juice in a large bowl. Stir in the onion, yogurt and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, combine the roasted beets, sweet pepper, apple and vinegar, and toss gently to combine. Add vegetable mixture to tuna and mix until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover 2 slices of bread with arugula leaves. Divide tuna mixture between both slices and cover with 2 remaining slices of bread.

Green Soup
A few years back I had a summer when I ate variations of this soup all of the time. Sometimes I would throw different herbs into the pot. I would also liberally substitute radish or beet greens for mustard, or chard for spinach, etc. Serves 8.

2 lbs. spinach
1 bunch mizuna (about 1/2 lb.)
1 cup loosely packed cilantro
5 cups water
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 large potato, peeled and chopped in large pieces
1 TB, + 1 tsp olive or sunflower oil
2 onions, chopped
1 TB sherry or Madiera, optional
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 TB lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper

Wash and roughly chop the greens. Place greens, cilantro, water, salt and potato in a large pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. While greens are simmering, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add onions and a sprinkling of of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until onions are golden brown and soft, up to 45 minutes or more. When nicely browned, add liqueur or a bit of water and stir to bring up any remaining bits in the bottom of the pan. Add cooked onions to the pot with greens. Back in the skillet, heat remaining 1 tsp of oil and garlic. Saute for a minute or two until soft. Add to the pot. Add broth and red pepper flakes and simmer for another 10 minutes. Working in batches puree soup in a blender, or use an immersion blender in the pot. Process just until smooth, but do not over blend or the potato can make the soup gummy.

Back in the pot, return soup to a simmer. Add pepper, a dash more salt and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve garnished with yogurt, feta or goat cheese.

Fresh Apple Griddle Cakes
A friend of mine emailed me a link to a New York Times article that included this recipe. I just happened to pull it up this morning and made it for the boys. We all loved it! I adapted it slightly. Serves 4, unless you eat like my boys, in which case it serves 2.

5 ounces (about 1 cup) whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 TB maple sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk, or as needed
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 large apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
butter or oil for greasing the griddle

Heat a large griddle or skillet over medium heat. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, butter and egg. Pour into flour mixture and stir just to combine. Add apple and stir until mixture is well blended. The batter should be thick but fluid enough to be poured; if necessary, add a bit more milk.

Grease griddle. Scoop batter 1/4 cup at a time onto griddle, placing scoops several inches apart so batter can spread. Let sit until batter is beginning to dry around edges and cakes are lightly browned underneath, about 3 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until browned, about 3 more minutes. Transfer to a warm platter, dot with butter, drizzle with maple syrup and serve.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Good Eats Newsletter - September 10, 2008

Pete's Musings
Last week Meg and I got a treat and left the farm for California for 8 days. Thanks to our great crew all was well when we were gone. By chance our trip coincided with the last day of the Slow Food Nation event in San Francisco. We toured a large farmers market and a Victory Garden on the lawn of the civic center and that night sampled all types of Slow Food approved foods in the tasting pavilion on the waterfront. It's remarkable to be in a place where so many of the foods that we eat rarely because they are not local to Vermont are local, abundant, and relatively cheap. Nuts, exotic fruits, and olive oil top this list. But I was also struck by how relatively undeveloped the California food scene is. Vermont food producers have filled more niches than their California counterparts and when you factor in our tougher climate and much lower population we are clearly out-innovating what many consider to be the foodie capital of America.

We rode our bikes south down the coast from San Fran enjoying spectacular scenery, perfect sunshine, and chilly ocean water. North of Santa Cruz industrial vegetable farming thrives-I estimate there are several thousand acres of brussel sprouts growing there. In Watsonville we saw strawberries and baby greens by the thousands of acres and south of there artichokes. The scale is amazing and overwhelming. I respect their precision and uniformity but there is something joyless about watching a crew of 50 harvest romaine by the tractor trailer load and realizing that they will be picking the same field for a week or more. I picked up some good ideas about cultivation and onion drying but we were soon back to the beach and the Monterey aquarium. This was by far the longest summer vacation I have had in 12 years of farming and was a real pleasure. Next week I'll write about our friends Todd and Jordan who run a kitchen company specializing in preserving the bounty of the California summer. - Pete

High Mowing Organic Seeds’ September Field Day
On Wednesday, September 17th, High Mowing Organic Seeds will host its annual September Field Day. The event runs from 12:30 - 7pm, and is free and open to the public. This is a wonderful opportunity see High Mowing's operation in Wolcott. In addition to a session on growing soybeans in Vermont, there's a field tour, a seed saving workshop and a local foods celebration. Check out the schedule on their website. Children are welcome.

Take an Eat Local Challenge
Throughout August and September there are (have been) numerous Eat Local Challenges taking place throughout the state. Depending on the hosting group, the Challenge can range from a meal to a month. In the Mad River Valley, where I live, our Challenge is set to start this Sunday, September 14th. We allow people to set the parameters of their Challenge. For some people, cooking that first fully-local meal is a true Challenge. For others of us, a week can be pretty easy.

You may ask, why many of us who eat mostly locally would still bother taking the Challenge. Personally, I like doing it because it refocuses me on trying to incorporate more local foods into my diet. When there isn't a non-local alternative to fall back on, I might discover a new recipe, a new method for preparing a food or even an all new food source. Plus, it supports the Localvore movement and our farmers and food producers.

The rules of a Challenge are pretty straight-forward. You can eat 100% locally, or like most people, you can take advantage of the Marco Polo rule that allows you to incorporate salt, spices and leaveners in your diet. Most people I know also take a wild card or two for things like chocolate, coffee or tea. Many Challenges let you take up to 5 for the week.

We are very lucky in the Valley that many of our restaurants participate in the Challenge. If we are hungry and don't feel like cooking, we can pick-up a localvore blackberry scone, grab a take-out lunch or enjoy a sitdown all local dinner.

This year, as during past Challenges, next week in the Valley will be chock full of Localvore-inspired events. We have a kick-off potluck dinner at Lareau Farm on Sunday from 5-7pm, featuring Knotty Pine. Kate Stephenson (one of our shareholders) and I are hosting a kimchi and sauerkraut making social next Monday. There's a localvore, Boyden Valley Wine dinner at the Common Man on Wednesday, and a Green Mountain Global Forum lecture by Fred Magdoff, of UVM, on the global food crisis. All of these events are posted on the Localvore website and are open to the public.

If you've missed your own area's Challenge or don't have a group active in your town, you are always welcome to join with us for a meal, a day or the week.

This Week's Share Contains
Tomatillos, to make up from last week; Cherry Tomatoes and/or Beefsteak Tomatoes*; Mesclun; Bunch Sweet Salad Turnips; Zucchini; Eggplant; Mixed Sweet Peppers; Bunch Basil; Bunch Cilantro.

*Some sites will receive a mix of cherry and beefsteak tomatoes. The others will receive a larger quantity of beefsteak, but no cherries. Next week the sites will be reversed, so if you don't get cherry tomatoes this week, you will the next.

Localvore Share:
Maplebrook Farm Mozzarella; Elmore Mountain Bread; Butterworks Farm Yogurt;

Storage and Use Tips
Eggplant: There are differing opinions on whether or not you should salt and drain eggplant slices before cooking. Some say that the salting process eliminates any bitter juices; others say it's not necessary. After a couple of years going through the extra hassle of salting, I am now in the latter camp. As I really can't taste the difference, I don't believe that it's worth the extra time in the kitchen.

Angelic Organics, a large CSA outside of Chicago, had some good information on storing eggplants: "Eggplant prefers to be kept at about 50 degrees, which is warmer than most refrigerators and cooler than most kitchen counters. Wrap unwashed eggplant in a towel (not plastic) to absorb any moisture, and keep it in the hydrator drawer of your refrigerator. Used within a week it should still be fresh and mild."

Cilantro: Cilantro has a long history. It had been cultivated in North Africa and parts of Asia for thousands of years before the Spanish conquistadors brought the herb over to Central and South America. Some Asian recipes will refer to it as coriander leaves. If the plant is left to flower, it will produce coriander seeds. Cilantro adds great flavor to salsa, chili, tacos, salads, enchiladas, stir-fries and curries. For the freshest flavor, add it to the dish once it's removed from the heat or sprinkle it on as a garnish before serving. Storing cilantro with moist leaves in a plastic bag will most likely lead to green slime instead of a good meal. It keeps better if you stand it up, unwashed, in your refrigerator in a glass full of water, covered loosely with a plastic bag. Change the water every 2 or 3 days to keep it fresh.

Localvore 'Lore from Heather
Sunday, October 12, Bonnieview is hosting another farm event, this time a brunch. Chef Sissy Hicks returns to prepare a feast of Bonnieview products, including eggs, milk, cheese, pumpkin, lamb and pork. If the brunch is anything like the two previous dinners, it's sure to be a memorable meal. The buffet will be served from 11 am ‘til 2 pm, outside in front of the green house, weather permitting. Seats are $25 per person. Call Neil and Kristen at 755-6878 for reservations. Only 50 seats are available, so call soon to reserve yours!

It took some doing, but we are finally able to include Maplebrook mozzarella in the share. I have been planning to pair it with basil and tomatoes since we started harvesting them. For the Spring Share, Nancy Hofer would take my order and deliver the cheese herself on the way to her camp at Lake Parker. This spring she took another job at a publishing company and is only working part-time with Maplebrook. Since she wasn’t able to deliver, I have had to go through a few channels to order the cheese. Black River produce came through in the end, and I will order ricotta from Maplebrook as well in the future.

The Maplebrook website seems to be down, but here’s a blurb from the Vermont Cheese Council site. When Nancy has delivered in the past, we’ve had great conversations about the humane treatment of dairy cows and the importance of small dairy farms to the Vermont economy. Maplebrook is as dedicated to producing gourmet quality cheeses as they are to supporting sustainable local dairy farms.


"Maplebrook Farm cheeses are made daily by skilled old-world cheese artisans. We make our own curd from the milk of cows that are rBGH free and that graze in the green mountains of Vermont. Our cheeses are made in small batches using all natural ingredients with no preservatives.

Our cheese is a 100% Vermont product. When you buy this product, you are directly helping to support small dairy farms of Vermont. All our cheese is made from whole milk that has been pasteurized. A gluten free product and there is no corn in the veg rennet we use.
"

Easier to come by this week were the bread and yogurt. I called Butterworks to place the order and it was delivered to Vermont Soy in Hardwick last Thursday. Tim picked it up Friday afternoon on the way back from making local deliveries.

As for the bread, it is wonderful to be working with Blair and Andrew of Elmore Mountain bread again! Their enthusiasm for baking Localvore bread is infectious! With Milanaise local Quebec flour and Gleason whole-wheat flour, they have been inspired to create new breads for Good Eats. This week’s loaf is made with caramelized Pete’s onions, Vermont Milk Company cheddar cheese, sea salt, yeast, and water. I can’t wait to make my favorite grilled vegetable sandwich!

Recipes
Heather’s Fave Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches
This is a sandwich stack, meant to be eaten with fork and knife! If you like, make full sandwiches with 2 slices of bread, but expect juice to be running down your wrist! We eat this at least once a week in high summer. Serves 4.

Marinade
¼ cup oil
2 TB soy sauce
2 TB balsamic vinegar
1 tsp prepared mustard
1 clove minced garlic
salt & fresh ground pepper

Vegetables
1 sweet onion cut in thick rounds
2 squash, cut into ½” diagonal slices
1 or 2 eggplant, cut into ½” slices
1 pepper, cut into thin strips

1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 TB finely cut basil ribbons
4 slices bread for open face stacks
1 or 2 tomatoes, sliced
1 mozzarella ball, sliced

Whisk together marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Toss cut vegetables in marinade and set aide. Mix basil into mayo to make the sandwich dressing. Heat grill or a grill pan for the vegetables.

Grill vegetables brushing with marinade, until browning and tender. Remove to a plate.
To assemble sandwiches, spread mayo on bread, layer on vegetables, tomato and cheese. Place on medium high heat grill to toast bread slightly and melt the cheese a bit. Serve immediately.

Eggplant-Polenta Stacks With Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Epicurious.com. Serves 4.

1.5 lb. tomatoes
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
Pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 large eggplant or 1 small, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
Coarse salt

1 large zucchini, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Additional olive oil

4 large fresh basil leaves
4 1/4-inch-thick slices mozzarella cheese

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

To remove tomato skins, core the tomato then submerge in boiling water for 20-30 seconds, until the skin begins to pull away. Immediately dunk into an ice water bath until cool to the touch. Remove from water and peel skin. Puree tomatoes in blender. Strain into a heavy small saucepan. Add 1/4 cup water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer tomatoes to reduce, about 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons oil and simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Combine 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil. Gradually whisk in cornmeal. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until polenta is very thick, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add Parmesan and butter and stir until melted. Mix in cayenne pepper. Spread polenta in 9-inch-square pan. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour. (Sauce and polenta can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate.)

Prepare grill (medium-high heat) or preheat broiler. Brush eggplant and zucchini with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill or broil until tender, about 2 minutes per side.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly oil large baking sheet. Cut polenta into 4 rounds. Place rounds on prepared baking sheet. Top each with eggplant, 2 zucchini slices, basil leaf and mozzarella slice.

Bake eggplant stacks until cheese melts and begins to brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to plates. Rewarm sauce. Spoon around eggplant stacks. Sprinkle with chopped basil and serve.

Young Turnip and Apricot Salad with Toasted Nuts
Adapted from Farmer John’ Cookbook. Serves 4.

½ cup walnut pieces
1 bunch salad turnips, greens washed, spun dry and set aside
½ cup finely sliced dried apricots
¼ cup finely chopped parsley or cilantro
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup minced sweet onion
1 small hot pepper, minced, or to taste
1 clove garlic
1 tsp dry mustard
scant tbsp grated horseradish
1 tsp soy sauce
salt
pepper
mesclun

Toast walnuts in a dry heavy skillet stirring constantly until lightly browned and fragrant. Transfer to a dishtowel to cool. Wash turnips and cut into thin matchsticks. Combine with apricots and walnuts in a large bowl.

Coarsely chop turnip greens. Put the parsley, chopped turnip greens, oils, vinegar and yogurt into a blender; process briefly, until the ingredients are just combined. Add the onion, hot pepper, garlic, mustard, horseradish, and soy sauce; process until thick and creamy. Pour the dressing over the turnip mixture; toss until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Line individual plates with a generous amount of salad greens; spoon the turnip salad on top. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Good Eats Newsletter - September 3, 2008

Farm Share & Our Fall - Winter Share
As we mentioned last week, we have begun enrollment for the Fall - Winter Share. This week sign-ups are still reserved for current shareholders. Beginning next week we will also accept new and returning shareholders.

When you fill out the form, you will notice a spot for a Farm Share donation. This program assists limited-income Vermonters in obtaining fresh, local produce directly from family farms. In partnership with NOFA VT, we will be offering subsidized CSA shares to qualifying individuals and families within our delivery area. If you know of someone who may be in need of this program, please encourage them to checkout NOFA's Website, as well as ours.

Farm Share relies on donations from CSA members to help fund those who might not otherwise be able to afford a CSA share. This summer's share period was our first time participating in the program, and through the generosity of our shareholders, we were able to provide subsidized shares to many deserving families. Please consider making a donation to the program when you fill out your Fall - Winter application. To find out more about Farm Share and Pete's Greens participation, please visit our Farm Share page. To find out more about qualifying for a partially subsidized Pete's Greens CSA farm share, please visit the NOFA Vermont Website.

Meditations of a Localvore Mother
When you raise children, small accomplishments can sometimes seem like huge victories. I (Nancy) have three boys; twins, Lucas and Jonathan, who will be 10 this month and an 11-year old, Matthew. They operate somewhat like a pack. They follow the leader, who is usually the 11-year old. In his preteens, our eldest is not usually leading the cheer for localvore food.

The other night I came home from the farm with a really beautiful bunch of green kale. In a hurry, like most working mothers, I did a quick saute to prepare it as a side. Though the 11-year old had to be prodded to take enough for a small pile of green on his plate, the younger two willingly took plenty. After tasting the greens, Luc offered, "Mmmm, yummy kale." About half way through the meal, Jon asked if he could have more; took a bit; then exclaimed, "This kale is really good!" Matthew said he didn't even mind the pieces of beet he saw in the spring rolls, cause they were good too.

A small accomplishment? For a mother, this is a huge victory!

Do I feel like I've turned the corner? Is it smooth, localvore sailing from here? Naw.

The next time I serve kale, I am more likely to hear groans of displeasure instead of squeals of delight. However, it does give a mother hope that all of the persistence to get her kids to eat good food is not a futile effort. That the appreciation for fresh, local, organic vegetables is beginning to develop. And, with a little luck, the localvore values that we try to teach our boys day-in and day-out are taking root.

Farm Update
The farm continues to bask in the warm, sunny weather, perfect for drying onions. Our greens have now made a full comeback. And, all this solar energy is great for ripening the tomatoes. The farm is doing so well in fact, that Pete and Meg felt comfortable enough to fly out to California. Their plan was to start in San Francisco over the weekend. Serendipitously, they were there at the same time as Slow Food Nation, billed as "the largest celebration of American food in history." After San Fran, they were riding their bikes down the coast to see their friends, Todd and Jordan, at Happy Girl Kitchen. Todd and Jordan were going to schedule some farm tours in the area for Pete and Meg as well. So far everything here has been humming along without incident in their absence. They work so hard. We hope that they come back refreshed and renewed after their week in California.

This Week's Share Contains
Beefsteak Tomatoes with One or Two Heirlooms Mixed In; Tomatillos; Ailsa Craig Sweet Onions; Sugarsnax Carrots; Bulb Garlic; Bunch Bright Lights Chard or Green Kale; Bunch Leeks; Mesclun.

Localvore Share:
Four Corners Farm Raspberries; Oyster Mushrooms; Pete's Eggs;

Storage and Use Tips
Tomatillos: From A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen: "A tomatillo is a Mexican fruit similar to a tomato that remains firm and green when ripe. Tomatillos grow inside lantern-shaped paper husks, which must be removed. Wash the tomatillos well to remove the sticky substance that keeps the husks in place. Because they are quite acidic, tomatillos are rarely used raw. Roast them to rid them of excess liquid and soften their texture. Roasted with some fresh chiles, they can be turned into a quick salsa in the blender. Tomatillos exude a lot of liquid and seeds as they roast. Scrape all the flavorful juices into the blender."

For a decadent breakfast, try frying thick slices of tomatillos alongside a couple of eggs and serve with bacon. The acid of the tomatillos makes a nice foil for the richness of the protein. Store tomatillos in their husks in a paper bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Localvore 'Lore from Heather
So it's been an interesting day getting together these three simple items! I started out by going over to the farm to see if eggs had been packed while I was away. The crew was super busy this weekend and didn't get to them. I brought the eggs over to my house and spent a lovely afternoon washing and boxing eggs. Nancy came over after lunch to find out if I knew about the raspberry and mushroom deliveries because they had not come on the Black River truck as expected. It turned out that Tom decided to deliver the oyster mushrooms himself, so that was ok. The berries were a mystery, as Pete had ordered them and he's out of town. Nancy called Four Corners and they said the driver was on his way to deliver. Whew! For a while there I was nervous, but it did all work out. Enjoy the bounty of this share. I'll be busy getting together the next localvore goodies, hopefully without a hitch.

Recipes
Garlicky Mushroom Quesadillas with Tomatillo Chile Salsa
This recipe is adapted from the aforementioned "A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen," by Jack Bishop. Serves 3-4.

Tomatillo-Chile Salsa
1 pint tomatillos, husked and washed
2-3 medium jalapenos
2 TB chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Salt

Quesadillas
4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz oyster mushrooms, thickly sliced
salt to taste
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
freshly ground black pepper
6 8-inch flour tortillas
4 ounces goat cheese

Preheat oven to 450F. Roast the whole tomatillos and chiles in a rimmed baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven, turning the veggies once, until lightly browned and tender, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly and transfer the tomatillos to a food processor. Cut off the stems of the chiles and add, (seeds and all, for extra heat), to the food processor. Pulse just until combined and still chunky. Scrape the salsa into a bowl and stir in the cilantro and salt to taste.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned lightly, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and pepper to taste and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Set the mushroom mixture aside.

Lay 3 tortillas flat on a work surface. Sprinkle goat cheese on top, leaving a 1/2" border around the edges. Divide the mushroom mixture evenly among the tortillas. Top with the remaining tortillas. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the first quesadilla and cook, turning once, until the tortillas are golden brown and the cheese has melted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large plate and repeat with the remaining quesadillas. Cut each quesadilla into quarters. Spoon some salsa into the middle of each quesadilla. Serve the remaining salsa on the side.

Sauteed Greens with Tomato and Chickpeas
This is one of my favorite ways to make chard and/or kale. The chickpeas make it a little heartier, ideal as a side for grilled fish or chicken. Serves 4.

2 TB sunflower oil or bacon fat
1 leek washed and sliced thin
1 bunch chard or kale, washed and chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 cup pre-cooked chickpeas
squeeze of lemon or lime juice

* If using chard, chop stems separately. Add the stems to the skillet about 2 minutes before the greens.

Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add greens, salt and pepper and toss to combine. Cook uncovered for 2 minutes, tossing occasionally. Add tomato and chickpeas and toss to combine. Cover, reduce heat, and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, add the squeeze of citrus and serve immediately.

Black Bean and Roasted Tomato Soup
This soup stretches a few tomatoes into an easy and flavorful meal. Adapted from Epicurious.com. Serves 4.

1 lb. tomatoes, seeded and quartered
1 large onion, halved lengthwise, cut into thin wedges
1 medium carrot, peeled, quartered
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped, or 1/2 tsp dried
2 cups (or more) vegetable or chicken broth
3 1/4 cups cooked black beans
1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine tomatoes, onion and carrot in large roasting pan. Add garlic, oil and oregano and stir to coat vegetables. Roast until vegetables are brown and tender, stirring occasionally, about 55 minutes. Cut carrot into small cubes and set aside. Transfer remaining vegetables to processor. Add 2 cups broth to roasting pan and scrape up any browned bits. Add broth and 2 1/4 cups beans to processor. Puree vegetable mixture until almost smooth.

Transfer soup to heavy large saucepan. Add remaining 1 cup beans. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors blend, adding more broth if soup is too thick, about 10 minutes. Stir in carrot. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Rewarm before continuing.) Ladle soup into bowls. Top each with dollop of yogurt.

Buttermilk Raspberry Pancakes
If you can keep yourself from eating the raspberries right away, try making these for breakfast. They are one of summer's most wonderful treats. Serves 4.

2 cups whole milk
1 TB cider vinegar
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup maple sugar (you can use maple syrup, but cut back 2 TB on the milk)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 TB unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Additional butter for greasing griddle
1 pint raspberries

Mix the vinegar into the milk and set aside for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk to combine the milk/vinegar mixture, yogurt, eggs and butter. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until only a few small lumps remain, being careful to not over mix.

On a griddle or pan preheated over medium heat, melt butter. Ladle pancake batter onto griddle (about 1/3 cup batter for each pancake), then immediately sprinkle each pancake with about 5 - 6 raspberries. Cook until bottom of pancake is lightly browned and bubbles have formed on the tops. Flip and cook until bottoms are golden. Serve warm with more yogurt and fresh raspberries or strawberry sauce.