Friday, November 21, 2008

Good Eats Newsletter - November 25, 2008

Pick-up next Tuesday, November 25th!

Thanksgiving Week's Share Will Tentatively Include:
Yellow Potatoes (Some Russets and Other Mixed In); Bunch Kale (Maybe, see below*); Shallots; Mars and/or Torpedo Onions; Turnips -or- Rutabaga; Pie Pumpkin -or- Red Kuri; Parsnips; Brussels Sprouts; Bag of Greens (Probably Mix of Claytonia and Tatsoi); 2 Mini Decorative Pumpkins; Butterworks Farm Early Riser Cornmeal; Fresh Cranberries from Vermont Cranberry Company.

Depending on the share you've signed up for (check the list at pick-up), you will also receive:

Carnivore Shares - Winding Brook Farm Sausage

-OR-

Vegetarian Shares - Dozen of Deborah's Eggs & Organic Quebec Flaxseed

*Though we've been planning kale, the temperatures may not cooperate. It needs to warm up above freezing for a day here before Tuesday in order to harvest. The forecast may not cooperate. I'll send out an update Tuesday morning.

Storage and Use Tips
Kale - We grow many varieties of kale at Pete's, including Green, Lacinato, Red Russian and Redbor. The variety in your share this week is called Winterbor. One of the most winter hardy kales, Winterbor has finely curled, thick, blue-green leaves, handles frosts well and lends itself to successive cuttings. Keep kale loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer. Strip the leaves from the stems and wash them well before chopping and cooking.
Torpedo Onions - These are shaped as they're named. We are finishing up the last of these this share. Though some may have a root or two sprouting from the base, they are still good eating. Keep torpedoes in the fridge. Mars go in a cool, dry and dark place, away from potatoes.
Pumpkin vs. Red Kuri - Some sites will get pie pumpkins this week and some will get red kuri's. You can use pureed kuri in recipes calling for pureed pumpkin. Both will do equally well in a pie, custard or the rolls recipe below. Store both in a cool, dark place. If you're going to use them within the week, they should do fine on the counter.
Parsnips - These are the "cream colored looking carrots" in your bags. This is the first time we've had parsnips in the share since back in June. Though a relative of the carrot, they aren't just like them. You'll want to peel parsnips and cook them before eating. They are wonderful sauteed or pureed, as well as in soups and stews. In the Thanksgiving menu below, they are parboiled in salted water, then pan fried in butter. Yum! Keep parsnips unwashed, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer.

Pete's Musings
Part 2 of the refrigerated truck-buying saga. Last week, I described how I traveled to Delaware to buy a reefer (refrigerated) truck and returned with a little pickup. I threw myself back into reefer truck research, spending hours some days attempting to locate the perfect truck. Whenever we need a major piece of equipment like this, I prefer to search for it aggressively but for a relatively short period of time, as it is such a distraction.

I found a real gem in Kansas City that Ryder Used Vehicle Sales seemed to have miss -priced. Because the refrigeration unit had some strange names on it that the Ryder pricers did not understand, (the theory is the unit was made in Canada so has a different name), this truck was discounted several thousand dollars compared to similar trucks. I decided I would fly to K.C. and drive the truck home, but really wanted to fill it with cargo to make the trip more worthwhile.

This led to the search for the Kubota L245H. These are mythical tractors in the New England vegetable scene. They are an offset cultivating tractor, meaning that where you sit is not in line with the hood of the tractor. The hood of the tractor is to the left of where you sit. This allows an open view of what you are cultivating with tools that are mounted in the middle of the tractor between the front and rear wheels.

Cultivating in this sense almost always means weeding. These are weeding tractors that do the work of dozens of people. There are many other tractor brands that made similar tractors decades ago but they were all powered with gas and generally had lower horsepower than the diesel Kubota, limiting their use to certain light tasks. Kubota L245H's are nearly impossible to purchase in the Northeast, as those who own them do not sell them. When they are offered for sale, the price is generally $6500-$9000. Adding to the scarcity is the fact that Kubota and all other brands stopped making cultivating tractors 15-20 years ago.

My farming buddy, Jon Satz, had good luck locating L245's in Kentucky a few years ago. Many of these tractors were sold to tobacco farmers in the 80's and many tobacco farms are now out of business. Some quick ebay and craigslist searches found a tractor south of Lexington, KY that was one owner, full maintenance history, low hours, and $4,300. We are changing many of our cropping plans for 2009 and we could use several L245H's. I had room in the truck for 2, but could not find another.

The drive was uneventful. The truck is beautiful and the tractor is just what we need. The tractor was located in beautiful, really poor, old tobacco and coal country in Appalachia, Kentucky. People there said that after tobacco, no one could find any crops that were worth growing in the small mountain valley fields. I'd like to learn more about the area. Is there really no market for good local food or has no one started the movement? Visits to places like these do cause me to appreciate what we have started in Vermont and I hope that we can be a good example to other areas in how to rebuild a local economy. -Pete

Thanksgiving Menu
As I mentioned in the last newsletter, we attempted to design this week’s share around a Localvore Thanksgiving menu. It is actually the menu my family and I followed last year for our holiday feast. We managed to make it an almost all local meal, celebrating the bounty that can be found close to home, save for the Marco Polo exceptions* and a bit of non-local flour in the Red Hen bread, Whether you attempt to make the whole meal, a dish or two, or use your share for entirely different purposes, we wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving.

For those of you interested in checking out the meal, the localvore Thanksgiving menu includes:

Crispy Kale
Local Cheeses
Red Hen Bread

Roast Turkey with Cornbread and Kale Stuffing
Your Favorite Gravy Made With a Bit of Local Wine
Your Favorite Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Apple Cranberry Chutney
Parsnips Sautéed in Butter
Pumpkin Nutmeg Dinner Rolls

Maple Pumpkin Pots de Crème

*The Marco Polo exceptions for local eating include any spices that would have been freely traded in the time of said explorer, plus leaveners.

Preparation Schedule
I find that it always helps to spread the tasks of big, holiday meal preparations over several days. Here is a guideline for breaking down the tasks of the above dinner:

2 Days Ahead
Make turkey stock
Apple Cranberry Chutney
Cook and puree pumpkin/squash

1 Day Ahead
Make Pumpkin Nutmeg Dinner Roll dough. Form into rolls. Place on sheet pans. Cover and refrigerate.
Make Cornbread
Make Pots de Crème

Day Of
Roast Kale
Make stuffing mixture and stuff bird
Roast Turkey
Slice and parboil Parsnips, set aside an hour or two before turkey is finished
Slice Brussels sprouts and shallots, place on cookie sheet an hour or two before turkey is finished
Take dinner rolls out of fridge to come to rise about 90 minutes before turkey will come out of oven.

Last Minute
Boil and mash potatoes
Pan fry parsnips
Raise temp and pop dinner rolls and Brussels sprouts into oven as soon as Turkey comes out
Make Gravy

Localvore Lore
It was a pleasure putting together the share for this week. I had my eye on all of the ingredients before we even made our first delivery. Of course, a Thanksgiving meal is not complete without the commensurate serving of cranberry sauce. Thanks to Cranberry Bob and the Vermont Cranberry Company, we all have 12 ounces of the state’s finest to work with. Enjoy these cranberries while they last. The fresh ones disappear by early to mid December.

Jack Lazor at Butterworks Farm really came through for us. He cleaned out the remainder of last year’s harvest from the corn storage bin and ground it for this week’s share. This year’s corn for his famous Early Riser cornmeal has only recently been harvested and is currently in the aeration silo drying out.

This is the first time that we have meat from Winding Brook Farm. Arthur Meade has been a real treat to work with. He has a very diversified animal operation at his farm up in Morrisville. His menagerie includes lambs, pigs, goats, chickens and turkeys. I'm sorry that I forgot to mention his turkey's last newsletter. He asked me to mention he still has a few turkeys for you procrastinators! You can call him 888.5922.

You might have heard about his work with the state’s Muslim community to create a halal slaughter facility to provide goat meat for their tables. The facility allows Muslims to come to the farm and slaughter their animals themselves according to the laws of Islam. You can see a full article about the halal facility at Winding Brook by Suzanne Podhaizer at the 7 Days site.

This share we have his breakfast sausage to work with. It is a mild sausage, flavored with a bit of sage, perfect for a turkey stuffing!

For our vegetarian shareholders, we have eggs and flaxseed. The eggs are from Deborah, one of our most loyal and efficient crew members. She took the chickens from our farm at the end of last summer and started up her own egg business. Her birds are happy and well taken care of. We’re sure you’ll enjoy her eggs.

The organic flaxseed comes to us from Michel Geuidro’s Golden Crops up in Quebec. It’s one of the grains Tim and I picked up on our recent Canadian buying run. Although ground flaxseed has a very limited shelf life, the whole seeds that we are delivering in this share will stay fresh for 2 to 3 years if stored in a cool dry place, like a bottom drawer or cabinet. You will want to grind the seeds up in a coffee grinder before adding to a recipe.
Link
Flaxseed is naturally rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and high in fiber. It has been attributed with many health benefits, including reducing cholesterol, decreasing the risk of cancer and heart disease and fighting constipation. You can find out more about the benefits of flaxseed, as well as peruse some delicious sounding recipes at the following Websites:

FlaxHealth
About.com

Recipes
Turkey Giblet Stock
Adapted from Epicurious.com. Makes about 5 cups.

the neck and giblets (excluding the liver) from 12- to 14-pound turkey
5 cups chicken broth
5 cups water
1/2 small turnip or rutabaga, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 teaspoon black peppercorns

In a large saucepan combine the neck and giblets, the broth, the water, the turnip, the carrot, and the onion and bring the liquid to a boil, skimming the froth. Add the bay leaf, the thyme, and the peppercorns, cook the mixture at a bare simmer for 2 hours, or until the liquid is reduced to about 5 cups, and strain the stock through a fine sieve into a bowl. The stock may be made 2 days in advance, cooled, uncovered, and kept chilled or frozen in an airtight container.

Crispy Kale
This is so easy and makes a nice light snack that won't interfere with anyone's appetite for the main event. Serves 6.

1 - 2 bunches of kale, washed and spun dry
1 - 2 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt

Preheat oven to 300F. Remove kale ribs and chop into bite size pieces. Wash kale and spin dry. On a large cookie sheet or sheet pan toss kale with oil and a generous sprinkling of kosher salt. Place in oven and toast kale for 25-45 minutes, tossing occasionally, until kale is crispy. How long kale will take to dehydrate depends on both the variety of the kale as well as how dry it is when it goes into the oven. Serve as an appetizer or side dish.

Cornbread (for Stuffing Recipe)
Adapted from Epicurious.com. Makes about 4 cups.

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups early riser cornmeal
1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

In a bowl whisk together the flour, the cornmeal, the baking powder, and the salt. In a small bowl whisk together the milk, the egg, and the butter, and stir the mixture into the cornmeal mixture, stirring until the batter is just combined. Pour the batter into a greased 8-inch-square baking pan and bake the corn bread in the middle of a preheated 425°F. oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top is pale golden and a tester comes out clean. Let the corn bread cool in the pan for 5 minutes, invert it onto a rack, and let it cool completely. Crumble the corn bread coarse into 2 shallow baking pans and toast it in the middle of a preheated 325°F. oven, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until it is dried and deep golden.

Cornbread and Kale Stuffing
Adapted from Epicurious.com. I like adding about a pound of sausage. The Winding Brook Farm in the share would be ideal. Serves 8.

1 lb. mild breakfast pork sausage, crumbled (optional)
2 large onions, chopped (about 4 cups)
1 small turnip or rutabaga, chopped fine
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large bunch of kale, stems discarded and the leaves rinsed well and chopped (about 10 cups)
about 4 cups corn bread for stuffing
1 tablespoon crumbled dried sage (or 2 TB minced fresh)

If including sausage, fry until mostly brown in a large skillet over medium heat. Drain, remove from pan and reserve. In the same pan, cook the onions and the turnips with salt and pepper to taste in butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened. Add the kale in batches, stirring until each batch is wilted, and cook the mixture until the kale is bright green. In a bowl combine the mixture with the corn bread and reserved sausage, stir in the sage and salt and pepper to taste, and toss the stuffing gently until it is combined well. Let the stuffing cool. The stuffing may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled. (To prevent bacterial growth, do not stuff the turkey in advance.)

To cook, either stuff the bird, or place in a well-buttered casserole dish. You may find that you fill the bird and still have enough to bake in a casserole dish. Drizzle stuffing in dish with 2/3 cup stock and 1/2 cup of turkey pan juices. Bake in a 325F oven for approximately an hour.

Apple and Cranberry Chutney
This assertive chutney balances the sweetness in the rest of the meal nicely. I find the apple and cranberry combination a refreshing change from the standard cranberry sauce. Serves 8.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 medium onion, chopped
2 lb macintosh apples (about 4 or 5), peeled, cored and cut in 1/2" dice
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
12 oz fresh cranberries

Melt butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add apples, saute for another 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the cranberries. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in cranberries and continue cooking until cranberries are softened and most of the liquid is absorbed. Taste and adjust seasonings and sweetness as desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Shallots
Serves 8.

2-3 TB melted bacon fat, sunflower oil or olive oil
2 lbs. Brussels spouts, washed and halved
3 medium shallots, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Toss Brussels sprouts and shallots with melted bacon fat or olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast in 400F (375F convection) oven for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pumpkin Nutmeg Dinner Rolls
Adapted from Epicurious.com. Makes 14 rolls.

1 1/4-ounce package (about 2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/3 cup maple sugar
3/4 cup milk, heated to lukewarm
7 to 8 cups whole-wheat bread flour (or 1/2 all-purpose, if you prefer)
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 large whole egg, beaten lightly
2 cups fresh pumpkin purée*
an egg wash made by beating 1 large egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water

In a small bowl proof the yeast with 1 teaspoon of the sugar in the milk for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is foamy. In a large bowl combine well 7 cups of the flour, the nutmeg, the salt, and the remaining sugar and blend in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the whole egg, the pumpkin purée, and the yeast mixture and stir the dough until it is combined well.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it, incorporating as much of the remaining 1 cup flour as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking, for 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball, transfer it to a well-buttered large bowl, and turn it to coat it with the butter. Let the dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place for 1 hour, or until it is double in bulk. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide it into 14 pieces, and form each piece into a ball. Fit the balls into a buttered 10-inch springform pan and let them rise, covered with a kitchen towel, in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until they are almost double in bulk. Brush the rolls with the egg wash and bake them in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Let the rolls cool slightly in the pan, remove the side of the pan, and serve the rolls warm. The rolls may be made 1 week in advance and kept wrapped well and frozen. Reheat the rolls, wrapped in foil, in a preheated 350°F. oven for 25 minutes, or until they are heated through.

Pumpkin Pots de Creme
Adapted from Epicurious.com. Serves 10.

1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup pumpkin puree*
7 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt

Special equipment: 10 (2- to 3-oz) custard cups* or ramekins

Preheat oven to 325°F. Whisk together cream, milk, syrup, and pumpkin in a heavy saucepan and bring just to a simmer over moderate heat. Whisk together yolks, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl.

Add hot pumpkin mixture to yolks in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring cup, then divide among custard cups (you may have some custard left over, depending on size of cups). Bake custards in a hot water bath, pan covered tightly with foil, in middle of oven until a knife inserted in center of a custard comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer custards to a rack to cool completely. Chill, covered, until cold, at least 2 hours. Serve garnished with whipped creme fraiche sweetened with maple syrup.

*My preferred method of making puree is to cut the pumpkin in half, then oil, salt and pepper the flesh. I put the halves, cut side down in a baking pan with about 1/4" of water in it. I then bake the pumpkin/squash in a 350F oven until the flesh is soft. Let the pumpkin cool slightly, then scoop the flesh into a food processor and puree.

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