Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Good Eats Newsletter - November 12, 2008

Please bring back your empty plastic bags and egg cartons when you pick-up. Thank you for helping with our recycling effort!

This Week's Share Contains
Red Kuri Squash; Russet Potatoes; Mixed Medium Beets; 2 Stalks Brussels Sprouts; Torpedo Onions; Bag Mixed Spinach and Claytonia; Green and/or Purple Pac Choi; Bunch Cilantro; Sweet Salad Turnips; Rolled Oats from Quebec; Butterworks Farm Whole-Wheat Pastry Flour; Red Hen Pain au Levain; Dozen Eggs.

Storage and Use Tips
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.
Russet Potatoes: Russet potatoes, also known as Idaho or baking potatoes, are in the class of starchy potatoes, as opposed to waxy varieties like red and fingerling. They are high in vitamin C and B6, as well as natural sugars. Russets make great baking potatoes, and are ideal for mashing and making fries. Store potatoes in a cool dark place, away from onions. Onions will cause the potatoes to sprout. Storing your potatoes in the refrigerator can make their starch turn to sugar and therefore should be avoided as doing so can give the russet potato an unpleasant, sweet taste.
Brussels Sprouts: 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. Like all brassicas, sprouts benefit from a frost. These will be sweeter than Brussels sprouts picked at the end of the summer. This share we're providing the sprouts still attached to the stalk. They will stay fresher this way, so remove the little heads just before you're going to cook them. I prefer to cook Brussels sprouts in a way that will maximize their sweetness. My favorite method is to toss them liberally with salt and olive oil and roast them in a 375F degree oven. When the outer leaves are starting to turn brown at the edges, you know they're done. To store, wrap the whole stalk in a closed plastic bag and keep in your crisper drawer.

Tuesday Thanksgiving Week Delivery
To make sure that everyone sees this notice, expect to see it a couple of more times before turkey day. Pickup will be on Tuesday, November 25th the week of Thanksgiving. Please mark your calendars!

Pete's Musings
The following is the first installment of a multi-week series of writings about the recent purchase of a refrigerated truck and moving of the moveable greenhouses. Some of you have been affected in one way or another by the problems we've had with the truck as well as heard a bit about the saga, but I thought the full story would make an interesting read.

There are no trucks of the type we are interested in available in Vermont-and most available in the northeast have more rust than we like. This led to a search of the eastern half of the country. You can find thousands of trucks online with lots of photos and some even have service histories. But it is a tiring process scanning through the websites, calling and trying to find a sales person who you can trust, pondering whether this one is good enough to fly to Atlanta to drive home, etc.

Three weeks ago I thought I had found the one. I'd had extensive conversations with 2 sales people, the truck had been sent to a nearby independent garage for analysis, and everybody said it's a great truck. I flew to Philadelphia, took a train to Delaware, and arrived at the dealership. The truck was sub par. The refrigerated body on it was obviously older than the truck itself and had spent years in the Boston area where it had encountered ample salt. The frame under the body was clearly well rusted and needed full replacement. I was frustrated and decided to walk the three miles back to the train station rather than take a cab.

Not half a mile from the truck dealership while passing a repair garage I caught glimpse of a sleek red beauty out of the corner of my eye. I've been a Toyota truck devotee for many years, but consider the absolute peak of Toyota's excellence to be the 1990-1993 models. These are the pre-Tacoma years. The Tacoma is the small truck Toyota has made since '94. They are ok, but are larger, less fuel efficient and significantly wimpier in the suspension. In my opinion, they've generally been on a downward slide year by year to cater more to the comforts demanded by American drivers.

The trucks Toyota made between '90 and '93 are comfortable enough, but very tough and really do go forever. They are simple: no power steering on the front-wheel drives, clean and basic dashboards, without a million different windshield wiper settings. They are also incredibly well balanced in a hard to describe way, but the result is that even the two-wheel drives have great traction in the snow and mud and they are really fun to drive.

To my mind, they are the peak of late 20th century automotive design. In 1999, my brother bought a red Toyota like the one I saw from a friend of a friend in Colorado. In a weak moment, I convinced him to sell it to me (he's regretted it ever since) and for the next 5 years I loved that truck like I've never loved another vehicle. It's the perfect rig for the bachelor farmer. It drives like a Miata and is easy to clean up for the occasional date. Plus, it's always nice to have a truck bed, as most trips seem to have a double duty involving hauling something farm related.

Four years ago a troubled employee rolled the truck a couple of miles from the farm. Fortunately, he was ok, but the truck was totaled. I'm generally not particularly attached to material things, but I mourned the loss of that truck. It sat behind the barn for months and made me perceptively sad whenever I saw it. Finally we stripped off the good parts and hauled it away. I've been looking for a replacement ever since with no luck. Any in these parts are too rusty or beat up and most of the remaining good ones in salt free parts of the country tend to sell for a lot of money.

So there it was in Delaware-the same red as the one I used to have and in really nice shape. I couldn't tell for sure if it was for sale, but it was sitting out front and separate from the other cars that were waiting to be repaired. I looked it over quickly, almost not letting myself get too attached before I knew if it was for sale and affordable. In the shop, the Korean owner told me it's in perfect shape and $2000.

Half an hour later, I was headed north and my love affair has begun anew.

Folks who knew I had gone south to buy a reefer truck were startled by the small size and lack of refrigeration on what I returned with, but pleased to see me grinning from ear to ear.

Next week the rest of the story on actually buying a reefer truck. -Pete

Hungry Planet - What the World Eats
Many of you may have heard about this book or seen some of the pictures. In 2005, photographer Peter Menzel and writer Faith D'Aluisio traveled the globe, researching and photographing what a typical family eats in many countries throughout the world. The resulting book was basically a weekly meal plan, budget and documented photograph of what 30 families consumed in 24 countries in a representative week. As you might imagine, the difference between the meager diet of a Sudanese family and the abundant menus of the industrialized western families was nothing less than staggering. Two years ago, NPR ran a story on the book, complete with published photographs on their Website. As I looked through the images, I couldn't help but think that a weekly diet built around a CSA share would actually look more similar to a Guatemalan spread than the typical American menu as photographed, and healthier too.

Localvore Lore
We have a lot of neighboring farms and producers represented in our share today. With the number of shareholders we have now, combined with the lowered egg-laying capacity of chickens in the late fall, we had to work with two different farms to put together the eggs for this week.

I first contacted Applecheek farm in Hyde Park last month. I spoke with Rocio about the eggs and she was confident in providing us with 250 dozen from their large flock of laying hens. I was really excited about working with Applecheek, as I think they are a wonderful example of a diverse family farm. John and Jason Clark's parents started the farm in 1965 and the farm is in transition to the two boys now. John and wife Rocio are heading the agricultural aspects of the farm. Jason is in charge of the catering end of things and running their dining hall. John is on the board of Rural Vermont and I was lucky enough to see a bit of their operation when I attended the annual Rural Vermont meeting there a couple of year's back.

The farm is certified organic and offers eggs from pastured hens, pastured chickens and turkeys, as well as grass and milk fed veal and grass fed beef. They also produce milk for Horizon organics. Applecheek is in the process of building a Localvore store, where they plan to sell their own raw milk, eggs, poultry and meats. You don't have to wait for the store to be completed, however. You can visit the farm and buy any of those products now, just more informally. The family also offers wagon rides and sleigh rides. Visit their Website for more on all of their endeavors.

While still defining this week's share, Rocio called back and said that her hens had drastically decreased the number of eggs they were laying. They don't use any lights to stimulate the production during the colder months and she didn't think they would have enough for the share. So, I got a line on some more eggs from Loren's Happy Hens.

Loren is the 15-year-old son of Crystal and Glen Burkholder, owners of Glenview Jerseys. Mostly a dairy operation, Lauren has taken the reigns on raising, feeding, cleaning and harvesting eggs for about 100 hens at his family's farm. The folks help out a bit with the marketing, but as Crystal says, "Loren really does most of it." We were very fortunate to be able to get eggs from Loren at short notice. They've been gearing the hens up to lay eggs for the new Green Top Market in Morristown. The market is opening a bit later than expected, sources say perhaps next week, so we were able to get their eggs in our share to supplement Applecheek's. All of the eggs you'll be receiving are certified organic, no matter which farm your dozen ends up coming from.

In addition to the eggs, we also have whole-wheat pastry flour from Butterworks Farm and Red Hen Pain au Levain bread. Finally, we have oats from Michel Gaudreau's mill in Compton Quebec. Tim and I had an adventure sourcing all of the Quebec localvore products last week, but that story will have to wait for another newsletter.

I would like to thank Carolyn Malcoun for contributing the Eating Well Magazine and Vegetable Love recipes found below. Carolyn is a Good Eats shareholder, as well as an Associate Editor for Eating Well. After receiving the first newsletter, she offered to contribute some recipes for an upcoming share. I sent her the tentative share contents yesterday and she responded with a wealth of delicious-sounding recipes, making my job this week a whole lot easier. Thanks Carolyn!

Meatless Red Flannel Hash
This recipe is from Barbara Kafka's Vegetable Love cookbook -- delicious with eggs your favorite way! Serves 4 as a side dish.

3/4 lb. whole beets, trimmed and scrubbed
2 large floury potatoes, scrubbed
2 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoon, melted
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
16 fresh sage leaves, cut into thin strips
2 teaspoons kosher salt
7-8 grinds fresh black pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Roast beets until a knife easily slips into the flesh. When just cool enough to handle, slip off the skins and coarsely chop. Place the potatoes in a 3-qt saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until just tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and refrigerate until cold. Remove the skins and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.

Heat 2T butter and the oil in a 10-inch nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 min. Add sage and cook until wilted. Add the potatoes and cook until brown, about 15 minutes. As the potatoes begin to brown, use a spatula to turn, rather than stirring, so the potatoes don't turn to mush. When the potatoes have browned, add the beets, salt and pepper, folding them in with the spatula. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes. Pour in the vinegar and 1/4 cup water or stock. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Pour in another 1/4 cup water or stock and cook until the liquid has been absorbed once more.

Place an oven rack on the 2nd level from the top and set oven to broil. Center a 9-10 inch glass pie dish over the skillet. Holding the pie dish in place, flip the skillet over, turning the hash out into the pie dish. Press down into an even layer. (The hash can be made ahead at this point and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before continuing.) Brush the top of the hash with the melted butter. Broil for 10 minutes, or until the top is crusty and nicely browned.

Spanish Tortilla
From Eating Well Magazine. Don't confuse this with the flour or corn tortillas you use to make wraps. A Spanish tortilla is a potato-and-egg omelet found on numerous menus throughout Spain. Traditionally these are cooked in heaps of olive oil. Our version uses less oil, so it's lower in calories. Serves 6.

3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 cup cooked diced potatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
6 large eggs
4 large egg whites
1/2 cup shredded Manchego or Jack cheese
3 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add potatoes, thyme and paprika and cook for 2 minutes more.

Lightly whisk eggs and egg whites in a large bowl. Gently stir the potato mixture into the eggs along with cheese, spinach, salt and pepper until combined. Wipe the pan clean; add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and heat over medium heat. Pour in the egg mixture, cover and cook until the edges are set and the bottom is browned, 4 to 5 minutes (it will still be moist in the center).

To flip the tortilla, run a spatula gently around the edges to loosen them. Invert a large plate over the pan and turn out the tortilla onto it. Slide the tortilla back into the pan and continue cooking until completely set in the middle, 3 to 6 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Active time: 25 minutes | Total: 40 minutes | To make ahead: Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.

Cumin Roasted Squash Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
Seeing the Eating Well recipe for the cilantro lime vinaigrette (below) inspired me to create this Mexican leaning autumn salad. Serves 4-6.

3 lb. winter squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4" cubes
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
2 TB sunflower or olive oil
4 cups spinach mix
1/4 cup salad turnips, cut in small dice
1/4 cup spiced and toasted pumpkin seeds
Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 400F. Place cubed squash in a roasting pan and toss with cumin, salt and oil. Roast the squash for about 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally, until beginning to caramelize and fork tender. Remove from oven and cool.

Place the greens in a large salad bowl and toss with about 1/3 cup of the vinaigrette. Arrange squash, pumpkin seeds and chopped salad turnips on top of greens. Drizzle with a bit more vinaigrette and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette
From Eating Well Magazine. Orange juice and cilantro yield a tangy dressing that you'll want to have on hand. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

1 cup packed cilantro
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of minced garlic

Puree cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, orange juice, salt, pepper and garlic in a blender or food processor until smooth. Makes 1 1/4 cups.

Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes
These pancakes were a staple of the breakfasts I used to serve at my Inn. One of the best things about them is that you need to mix the batter the night before, making for a much more leisurely morning.

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
3 TB maple syrup
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk (or milk soured with a bit of vinegar)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for brushing the griddle
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup to 3/4 cup apple cider

Whisk to combine first 6 ingredients in large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, eggs, 1/4 cup melted butter and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add to dry ingredients; whisk until blended, but some small lumps still remain. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or over night. When you are ready to make pancakes, remove batter from fridge and stir in enough apple cider to make a slightly thick, but pourable consistency. Heat heavy large skillet or pancake griddle over medium heat. Brush skillet with melted butter. Working in batches ladle batter by 1/4 cupfuls into skillet. Cook pancakes until bottoms are golden brown and bubbles form on top, about 2 minutes. Turn pancakes and continue cooking until bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining pancake batter, brushing skillet with more melted butter in between batches. Keep pancakes warm in a 250F degree oven until ready to serve.

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