Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Good Eats Newsletter - October 15, 2008

Final Week's Share Contains
Bunch Leeks*; Bunch Green Wave Mustard Greens; Mixed Sweet Peppers; Brussels Sprouts; Garlic; Bag Spinach; Celery; Red Kuri Squash -or- Pie Pumpkin; Bunch Sweet Salad Turnips.

*Look for the leeks separate from your veggie bags!

Localvore Share:
Champlain Orchards Macintosh Apples; Red Hen Whole-Wheat Bread; Deborah's Eggs;

Pete's Musings
Thanks for joining our June-October share. We hope that we pleased you, and if we did not, that you would tell us how we can do better. As the seasons turn, change continues to be a constant at Pete's Greens. Our four moveable greenhouses are near completion and we hope to perform the maiden move early next week. Our freezer is ready to be set in place and put into operation. Roots are exiting the ground and being packed in the coolers. And, soon our beloved amigos will be heading south to a winter in sunny Mexico.

Those of us who remain at Pete's Greens are preparing for a winter of more gentle and thorough preparation than in past winters. We plan to fully analyze our equipment and decide whether to make a complete overhaul and purchase some new tractors and cultivation systems or just make a few minor tweaks. And, we are going to spend a lot of time planning our cropping so that we can provide you more of what you want when you want it. Please pass on suggestions about what we provided you this summer so that we can use your input to improve. Nancy talks about our share-end survey below, which is a great way to pass on your feedback. Thanks again for joining, and thanks to those of you who are staying on for the winter. -Pete

End of Share Survey
We do hope that you enjoyed your experience with us this summer, including the produce from our farm and items from nearby growers and producers. We strive to make each week's CSA share fresh, diverse, tasty and a good value. In the next day or so, we will be sending out a survey asking your opinion about the share. The survey is your opportunity to tell us if we are meeting your expectations. We appreciate your feedback and will incorporate what we have learned into future shares. Thank you for being a part of the CSA and for completing the survey!

Hardwick in the New York Times
This past summer, Marian Burros, part-time Vermont resident and food writer for the New York Times, was enjoying a locally inspired dinner at Claire's Restaurant in Hardwick. Speaking with Christina Michelsen, she got her first inkling of the great things going on in and around the Hardwick area to rebuild a thriving agricultural economy. This encounter became the impetus for last Wednesday's article, Uniting Around Food to Save an Ailing Town, in the New York Times Dining section.

The article focuses on the formation of the Center for an Agricultural Economy in Hardwick, as well as some of it's founding members and their respective companies, including Pete's Greens, High Mowing Seeds, Vermont Soy and Jasper Hill. The Center's vision is "to build upon local tradition and bring together the community resources and programs needed to develop a locally-based 21st century healthy food system. The Center vision supports the desire of rural communities to rebuild their economic and ecological health through strong, secure, and revitalized agricultural systems to meet both their own food needs locally as well as to determine and build the best opportunities for value-added agricultural exports."

New York Times Sunday Magazine
It seems the Times has had a bit of a run focusing on local and sustainable food related issues. Last Sunday's magazine section was dedicated to just this topic. Michael Pollan's letter to the President Elect, or "The Farmer in Chief," is a well thought out argument on why a new sustainable agricultural and food policy must be a priority for whomever takes the White House in November.

Working with High Mowing Squash
An example of the cooperation that the Center for an Agricultural Economy would like to foster could be found on our farm on Monday.

Pete had spoken with Tom Stearns at High Mowing Seeds about their squash crop. As a seed company, High Mowing is growing their crops primarily for seed and doesn't have the facilities to process and distribute their produce for consumption.

Pete and Tom worked it out so that High Mowing's squash harvest was trucked over to Pete's Greens. We could use our powerwasher here to clean the pumpkins much faster than hand washing at high mowing.

In the pictures you can see that Pete is powerwashing the squash, before Kate from High Mowing smashes them with an axe. Katie is tossing the pieces into the hopper of the seed extractor. The seeds are shaken out onto the bottom rack, then shoveled into bins. The squash pieces roll out the bottom of the barrel.

The girls went back to High Mowing with the seeds. We will wash, cook down and freeze the squash to distribute in an upcoming CSA share.

Storage and Use Tips
You can tell when we've reached the end of the share period when the Storage and Use tips get this thin. We've now talked about just about every vegetable we've distributed this share, leaving only:

Brussels Sprouts: Related to cabbage, kale, collards, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and broccoli, Brussels sprouts get their name from being grown in and around Brussels, Belgium. Brussels sprouts are a tall-stemmed cabbage in which many tiny heads form at the bases of the leaves along the entire length of the central stalk. The "sprouts" are made up of tightly packed leaves, each resembling a miniature cabbage head. We've already separated the sprouts from the stalk for you. Like most brassicas, the flavor of Brussels sprouts benefit from a frost, concentrating their sugars.

Brussels sprouts can get a bad rap from those who have eaten overcooked versions that their parents may have boiled to oblivion. Try sauteing, or better yet, roasting them to bring out their inherent sweetness. Brussels sprouts should be stored in a closed plastic bag in the crisper drawer.

Garlic: This won't be the most beautiful garlic we've given out, but it is just fine for eating. You should receive 3 heads.

Localvore Lore
You may have noticed that the share contents listed this week's eggs as "Deborah's Eggs," instead of the usual "Pete's Eggs." They are actually from the same chickens, but with a new home. This summer we took a second look at raising the egg-laying chickens at the farm and decided that our facilities could use some improvements. Deborah, one of our crew, was interested in the chickens and decided to take them home. She's got 113 chickens and one rooster now in her hen house.

She is really enjoying raising the birds, talking to them in the morning, going home for lunch and letting them out for a run, then giving them the run of the place when she gets home from the farm. She would love to leave them out all of the time, but doesn't trust the foxes and dogs in the neighborhood. I think you will see from the deep yellow yokes that they are still getting plenty of outside time. They've been working their way around Deborah's blueberry patch and apple trees, finding lots of good things to eat.

This may be the last time we are able to include Deborah's eggs in the share. Waning daylight will mean fewer eggs being laid by her hens, certainly not enough to keep up with the CSA. She has been busy working to find a few stores in the Kingdom to take the eggs she will have over the winter.

Next year, we will be taking another look at our hen house facilities with the possibility of improving them and bringing egg laying chickens back on the farm. In the meantime, we will be keeping our eye out for other egg producers to include in the share.

Also in the share this week, we have Red Hen's whole-wheat bread. The whole-wheat is owner, Randy George's favorite loaf. I bought one while at our local farmer's market the other week and truly savored the loaf. It's got a pleasantly dense texture and deep, nutty flavor.

When I contacted Champlain Orchards about apples for the share, Bill was excited to get us their Macs. They are at the height of their season right now and make wonderful applesauce, pie and crisps, as well as for eating out of hand. If you would like to stock up on apples, or are just looking for a fun thing to do this weekend, you can take a picturesque drive to Champlain Orchards and pick your own. They have many varieties of apples that are ready for picking, including Empire, Macs, Jonagold, Northern Spy and Gala, just to name a few. As of last week, they also still had yellow raspberries. Their farm market will also be open selling pies, cider donuts, honey, syrup and more. For more information and directions to the orchard, visit their Website.

Recipes
Curried Squash Soup with Green Garnish
Meg made this soup the other night for her and Pete. It will work equally well whether you have the pie pumpkin or kuri squash in your share. Mix the left over green garnish with eggs and cheese to make a frittata for a second evening's meal.

1 winter squash, such as pumpkin or kuri, peeled and sliced thin
2 pinches sea salt
1 15 oz can coconut milk
2 pinches yellow curry powder
salt and pepper to taste

For garnish:
1 TB sunflower or olive oil
1 large leek, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch mustard greens, washed, dried and chopped fine
salt and pepper to taste

Steam squash, sprinkled with salt, in a large pot over medium heat, until soft. Puree with coconut milk, curry powder, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.

While squash is steaming, heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until leeks are translucent, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add mustard greens, salt and pepper. Saute, stirring frequently, until mustard greens turn deep green, about 5 minutes, decreasing heat if necessary. Taste for seasoning. Ladle hot squash soup into bowls and garnish with the sauteed greens.

Warm Brussels Sprout and Spinach Salad with Bacon
Adapted from a recipe at Epicurious.com. To make a vegetarian version, omit the bacon, increase the caraway seeds by 1/2 teaspoon, the oil to 3 tablespoons and use balsamic vinegar to add extra flavor. Serves 6.

4 slices of bacon
1/2 cup leeks, thinly sliced
1 pint Brussels sprouts, trimmed, steamed for 3 minutes, and chopped fine (about 1 3/4 cups)
1 tsp caraway seeds
2 TB sunflower oil
3 TB cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon maple sugar, or to taste
1/2 pound spinach, tough stems discarded and the leaves washed well and spun dry (about 8 cups)

In a heavy skillet cook the bacon over moderate heat until it is crisp and transfer it to paper towels to drain. Heat the fat remaining in the skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute for 2 minutes. Increase the heat to moderately high heat, add the Brussels sprouts with the caraway seeds. Saute, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sprouts are tender and pale golden. Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the oil, the vinegar, and the sugar, and add the spinach. Sauté the mixture over moderately high heat, tossing it, for 1 minute, or until the spinach is wilted. Season the salad with pepper and sprinkle it with the bacon, crumbled.

Baked Winter Squash and Apples with Maple Syrup
Serve this yummy dish with grilled sausage or spoon over cooked wheat berries or barley. Adapted from Epicurious.com. Serves 12 as a side.

2 1/2 to 2 3/4 pounds winter squash (about 2 medium), peeled, seeded, cut lengthwise into 8 wedges, then crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 6 cups)
2 pounds apples, peeled, quartered, cored, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 6 cups)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
Freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook squash in large pot of boiling salted water until almost tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well. Combine squash, apples and cranberries in buttered 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Season generously with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Combine maple syrup, butter and cider vinegar in heavy small saucepan. Whisk over low heat until butter melts. Pour syrup over squash mixture and toss to coat evenly. Bake until squash and apples are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Cool 5 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with foil; chill. Rewarm covered in 350°F. oven about 30 minutes.)

Lentil and Spinach Soup
Serve this soup with a dollop of plain yogurt or creme fraiche with a toasted slice of Red Hen whole-wheat bread on the side. Serves 4.

2 tablespoons sunflower or olive oil
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leeks
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped sweet peppers
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano, or 1 TB freshly chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
9 1/2 cups (or more) water
1 lb dried lentils (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/2 lb. spinach, stems removed, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add next 4 ingredients; sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in cumin, oregano, bay leaf, and dried crushed red pepper. Add 9 1/2 cups water and dried lentils; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until lentils are tender, adding more water by 1/2 cupfuls to thin soup, if desired, about 25 minutes. Add spinach and cilantro; simmer until spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.

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