Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Good Eats Newsletter - December 10, 2008

This Week's Share Contains
Orange Storage Carrots; Parsnips; Garlic; Mars Onions; Bunch Curly Parsley; Red -or- Green Cabbage; Bag Mesclun; Bright Lights Chard;* Butterworks Farm Yogurt; Pearled Barley; Oyster -or- Shiitake Mushrooms from Amir Habib; and Red Hen Squash Bread.

* Chard will be delivered this week to: Craftsbury, Middlesex, Waterbury, Burlington, Stowe and Morrisville. Next week, Montpelier, Hardwick and NOFA will receive theirs.

You May Also Receive....
We are catching people up this week in order to make all shareholders even from the Thanksgiving delivery. Can you tell that we were short handed that day? Thanks to all for your patience with the holiday rush. Please see what to expect below:

Grove Street and Adams Court - 2 squash each shareholder; purple top turnips.
NOFA and Hen of the Wood - 1 squash; purple top turnips.
Red Hen - Purple top turnips.
Hardwick - Purple top turnips.
Craftsbury - Cornmeal;

Storage and Use Tips
Curly Parsley - Many claim that flat-leaf parsley has more flavor than curly, but I have found them to be mostly interchangeable in recipes. Curly parsley stands up especially well in cold salads, with its bright green color and more rigid demeanor. Try adding parsley stems to your simmering stock, both to impart flavor and help clarify the broth. Store the parsley bunch with stems in a glass of water, like flowers in a vase. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and keep in the fridge.
Mesclun - It seems so decadent to be giving out these luscious greens so deep in a Vermont December. Wasn't it yesterday that the high only made it into the single digits? We pre-wash our mesclun before it goes in your bags. Most of us at the farm are fine with this single wash and serve the greens in a salad straightaway. Store the greens in a loose plastic bag in your crisper drawer. If the greens seem damp, throw a cloth napkin or dishtowel in the bag with the greens to absorb any excess moisture.
Mushrooms - These delicate mushrooms are best used within a few days after pick-up. You will receive shiitake or oyster mushrooms. Remove the stems of shiitake mushrooms before cooking. Save the stems for making a stock. Store mushrooms in the refrigerator in a paper bag.
Pearled Barley - Pearled barley is barley that has been de-hulled, with some or all of the bran removed. It makes a great substitute in recipes calling for brown rice, is wonderful cooked, cooled and used in cold salads, and adds a nice texture to soups and stews. It also cooks down into a really nice risotto, without all of the attention and stirring required with Arborio rice. Barley packs a nice nutritious punch into a small package. One cup of cooked pearled barley provides 12% of the US Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of iron and 6 grams of dietary fiber fiber, all for only 193 calories. Keeping barley sealed in a cool dark place, it will last at least 6 months. One cup of dry barley makes about 3 to 3 1/2 cups cooked. If you give these guys a soak for 6+ hours in cold water before use, you can reduce your cooking time by at least half. Without soaking, you'll want to let them simmer in water for a good hour. I like to cook barley like pasta, that is I use a lot of water (4-5 cups of water to 1 cup barley), then drain what's left over.

No Delivery Xmas Week!
Just a quick reminder we will be taking Christmas week off. As we explained in our brochure and on the website, we padded the veggies for the first six weeks of the share and will provide an extra-bountiful share next week to compensate. So, the next two deliveries will be Wednesday, December 17th, then December 31st.

Quick Farm Update
Yesterday evening I made a quick stop in our dry goods storage room before heading home for the day. At the last minute, I thought that I would grab a bag of barley to do some test recipes with. Thankfully, I made this decision, because as I walked in the room, I could hear water running from somewhere. As there is no light in the room, I couldn't tell where the water was coming from, but I knew there shouldn't be any. I ran down to the barn to grab Tim, who came straight up to turn off the water in the farmhouse. It turns out that one of our pipes had frozen and was leaking water. Steve was slotted to fix the problem this morning. Though we managed to save most of the grains and remain in good shape for including grains in the CSA shares, our ability to fill some of the localvore bulk orders may be impacted. See below.....

Bulk Order - December 17th Delivery
These are the final days to get your order in for the December 17th Bulk Order delivery. You can purchase our stored roots, aliums, t-shirts and some extra localvore products on the order. The prices on our bulk vegetable orders rival those that we offer to our stores, so it is a very economical way to purchase local, organic produce.

The orders that have come in so far have wiped us out of the extra cornmeal and mixed cracked grains we had on hand. These items have been removed from the updated bulk order forms. We are still assessing how our leaky water pipe impacted our barley supply. If it turns out that we've oversold any of the grain items, I will contact you to see if you would like an alternative product or a refund.

To place a bulk order:
Print & fill out our Order Form.
Mail your form and check to the farm to arrive no later than Dec. 13th.
Pick-up your items on Dec. 17th.
Find out more about our bulk orders here. Get more info on our organic T-shirts here.

Cabot Cheese and rBH Growth Hormone
I recently received an email from one of my friends regarding Cabot's use of milk coming from cows treated with rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone). It appears that Cabot is taking comment on their continued use. Here's what April had to say:

"Please take a moment to call or write Cabot Cheese to oppose their practice of continuing to use milk from cows treated with rBGH (recumbent bovine growth hormone.) I called today to get an update and talked to their product specialist, Michael Provos. Cabot has received a lot of pressure in the past year to stop this practice. They are making progress. 92% of their milk is rBGH-free, though reporting is voluntary from farmers. The Cabot board of directors is deliberating about the issue and Michael said Cabot may make a decsion in the spring or summer to go completely rBGH-free. The sense I got was that COMMUNITY SUPPORT WILL REALLY HELP them make a positive, final decision in a timely manner. The company cares very much about consumer feedback. There is info below to educate you about the issue. In short, Europe, Japan and Canada have banned rBGH due to the evidence linking the hormone to breast and colon cancers. For years, Monsanto and the FDA have downplayed, covered-up and some say lied about the health risks associated with rBGH. Unless a product says rBGH-free, it is likely to be contaminated. Organic milk products are safe and Hood, Booth Brothers, Ben & Jerry's and Stonyfield Farms have pledged not to use milk containing the hormone.

Please take a minute to write or call Cabot and tell them to stop using rBGH milk in their products. Robert Stammer is the CEO, and the address is: Cabot Creamery, One Home Farm Way, Montpelier, Vermont 05602. Their parent company is Agri-mark, their CEO is Paul Johnston, at PO Box 5800, Lawerence, Massachusetts 01842.

Or pick up the phone and call Michael Provos at 802.371.1265.

Thanks for your time and please pass this on to friends.

You can find more information about rBGH at the following websites:


Localvore Lore
When putting together this week's share, I had warm (Amir Habib) mushroom barley soup on my mind. Serving it with a dollop of Butterworks yogurt and a warm, buttered slice of Red Hen squash bread on the side, would make a perfect meal for the upcoming cold evenings in the forecast.

The barley is yet another grain from Michel Gaudreau up in Quebec. Back in October, Tim and I loaded in the truck and headed north for the border. We had two stops on our list: first, Michel's, then on to Les Aliments Massawippi for tamari and miso (coming up later in the share).

It was a beautiful late fall day and it was fun to spend the day "shopping" in Quebec with Tim. Though I had originally planned to make the trip by myself, we decided at the last minute that it would be better if Tim came with me. The truck was really acting up for us at this point and Tim had the driving experience. In order to make sure the truck would drive safely home, we had to gingerly balance the pallets of grain to one side of the truck.

Michel has quite an organic grain milling operation in Compton, QC, only about 1 1/2 hours from our farm. In English, his company's name is Golden Crops. In French, it's called Les Moissons Dorées. You drive through quaint farming backroads before coming upon his mill. Michel processes many types of local grains from his neighbors' farms, as well as grains from much farther afield. When we order from Michel, we make sure to specify Quebec only grains.

While up at Golden Crops, we bought organic barley, rolled oats and flaxseed. We also picked up blue popcorn from Tullochgorum Farm that had been delivered to Golden Crops for us the previous day. Spoilers alert: the popcorn is scheduled to show up next week.

The other interesting story this week has to do with the bread that Randy George is making for this week's share. He sent me the following message to include in today's newsletter:
"We thought that it would be fun to try to make a bread that made use of something from the farm, so we've devised this bread that features squash that was cooked down and pureed at Pete's. The squash itself is a mix of those coming from Pete's Greens, as well as squash that Pete procured from Tom Stearns at High Mowing Seeds.

The squash flavor in the bread is by no means overpowering... o.k., it's pretty subtle, even though it comprises about 15% of the ingredients. You can definitely see it in the color and the flavor is unmistakable too (as long as you eat it fairly unadulterated). You know something about the origin of the squash, but it is fun that we also can tell you a little story about the particular wheat flour in this bread too.

A few weeks ago, 3 of us went for a visit to a new mill in Quebec that has developed working partnerships with over 200 Quebecois wheat farmers. Robert Beauchemin, the founder and miller, and his farmers are engaged on a quest to investigate how variety selection and various growing practices influence the baking characteristics and flavor of the bread that is eventually made with the wheat they grow. Meanwhile, this bustling mill churns out 7000 lbs. of flour an hour (6 days a week, 24 hours a day... and 80% of the wheat comes from within the province!). They work closely with their farmers and requires that they abide by pesticide-free and no-till growing practices.

The white flour that is used in the squash bread is from this mill. There is some whole wheat in this bread too and it is milled from Quebec wheat as well. It comes from a smaller, certified organic mill which Robert started 30 years ago and still operates. Although our daily breads use organic flour exclusively, we are very excited by what Robert is doing at his new mill and thought that this week's CSA bread would be a nice way to feature this flour in conjunction with another, even more local ingredient from other innovators (that'd be Pete, Tom and their winter squash).

As bakers, it is unusual to be able to trace the origin of each major ingredient in our bread. We hope you like it. Let us know. In the coming months, we plan to include other local ingredients in the CSA loaves."
I spent some time speaking with Randy about his trip to the Quebec mills and was really excited to hear of all of the things that they are doing right. The organic mill Randy refers to is called La Meunerie Milanaise. You may be familiar with this name, as the flour that Elmore Mountain uses comes from them as well.

According to Randy, Robert Beauchemin, the mill owner, started out much like Ben Gleason back in 1972. He was growing the wheat and grinding it himself. As he got more interested, he convinced other local farmers to begin growing wheat, which he ground at his Milanaise mill.

Robert Beauchemin is very interested in growing flour that is optimized for baking better bread. To this end, he has his own agronomist on staff to analyze the wheat and flour at the mill. Using the statistics she has gathered she is able to help both the farmers and the mill to make a better product.

This past very wet summer, she took a look at the statistics and the weather forecast and contacted the mill's farmers early on to convince them to harvest their crops right away. This goes against the conventional wisdom that advocates waiting for the weather to dry out before cutting the wheat.

As it turns out, the agronomist's was the better strategy. The farmers who harvested when she advocated ended up losing only 15% of their wheat crop this past summer. Compare this to most wheat farmers in the area who lost 90% of their crops!

The mill has its own onsite bakery and works with other high-end bakeries to test the bread flour being produced. They are constantly looking at all the factors to improve their loaves. One interesting thing that their 30 years of research has exposed, is that using less nitrogen in the growing of wheat will increase the quality of the resulting bread.

One of Robert's hopes is that by encouraging farmers to go pesticide-free and employ no-till practices, along with providing sound information on improving growing practices, wheat farmers will convince themselves of the advantages of going organic. He's already had one or two who have come to this conclusion.

Recipes
Mushroom Casserole
Adapted from 101cookbooks.com, this is comfort food at its healthy-finest. Serves 8.

2-3 TB olive oil or bacon fat
1/2 pound (8 ounces) mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 large onion, well chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons dry sherry
3 cups cooked barley (from about 1 cup dry), room temperature
1/2 tsp crumbled dried thyme
2 large eggs
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup freshly grated hard Vermont cheese or Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Rub a medium-large baking dish (somewhat smaller than a 9x13) with a bit of olive oil or butter and set aside.

Heat oil/fat in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt to taste and saute. Stir every minute or so until the mushrooms have released their liquid and have browned a bit. Add the onions and cook for another 4 or 5 minutes or until they are translucent. Stir in the garlic, cook for another minute. Add sherry and cook, stirring constantly until all the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat. Add the thyme and the barley to the skillet and stir until combined.

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt/sour cream, and salt.

Add the barley mixture to the cottage cheese mixture, and stir until well combined and then turn out into your prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with 2/3 of the cheese, cover with foil and place in oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 20 or 30 minutes more or until hot throughout and golden along the edges. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and enjoy.

Stir-fried Veggies with Ponzu and Garlic
Although this recipe originally appeared in a summer Culinate newsletter, it was easily adapted to fall greens and barley. Serves 2-4.

1 bunch chard
3 carrots scrubbed and sliced crosswise, very thin
1/2 head caggabe
canola oil
1 small onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
Fresh ginger, a 1-inch piece, peeled and minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Ponzu (citrus-flavored soy sauce available at natural and int'l groceries)
Toasted sesame oil
3 cups cooked (leftover/cold) pearl barley

Have at hand three medium bowls. Prepare the vegetables by first washing them; shake off the water but don’t bother to dry them. Prepare the Swiss chard by first removing the ribs from the leaves; finely chop the ribs and place them in a bowl, then cut the leaves into slivers and place them in another bowl. Add the carrots to the chard stems. Finally, slice the cabbage very thin, and place in its own bowl.

Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet. When hot, add the onion, garlic, ginger and red pepper; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Add the cabbage — and another slug of canola oil if necessary — and cook stirring occaionally for about 5 minutes. Add the chard and carrots and cook over medium heat until almost tender, stirring often. Add the chard leaves and continue to stir-fry until almost tender (or turn the heat down, add a bit of water and cover, to steam instead of stir-fry).

Turn the heat up to medium-high (removing the lid first, if you were steaming) stir-fry for a minute or two, lower heat to medium, then add a big splash of ponzu and a drizzle of sesame oil. Stir to mix, then push vegetables to the outside rim of the pan and dump barley into the center. With a large wooden spoon spread it out in the pan. Once the barley is warmed through, stir the vegetables into the barley. Season to taste with extra ponzu. Serve hot.

Mushroom Barley Soup
Adapted from Epicurious.com. Serves 8.

1/3 cup pearled barley, soaked 6 hrs. in cold water
1/4 oz dried porcini (1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 parsnips, peeled and choppped
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 lb fresh oyster mushrooms thinly sliced, or shiitakes-stems discarded and caps thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup medium-dry Sherry
3 cups low-salt beef or rich vegetable stock
soy sauce to taste
chopped fresh parsley

Simmer barley in 3 1/2 cups water in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot, uncovered, until almost tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain in a colander. While barley is cooking, soak porcini in 1/2 cup water in a small bowl until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain in a sieve lined with a dampened paper towel set over a bowl, reserving liquid. Rinse porcini to remove any grit, then coarsely chop.

Heat oil in cleaned pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add carrots, parsnips, shiitakes, porcini, salt and pepper and sauté, stirring frequently, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated and mushrooms are golden, 4 to 6 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste, bay leaf, sherry, stock, mushroom soaking liquid, barley, salt and pepper. If soup looks too thick, add a cup or so of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables and barley are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and soy sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley.

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