Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Good Eats Newsletter - January 7, 2009

This Week's Share Contains
Mix of Fiona, Chioggia, Red & Gold Beets; Purple Potatoes; Parsnips; Red Mars Onions; Sprouted Beans; Sunflower and Radish Shoots; Green Cabbage; Rutabaga; Elmore Mountain Rosemary & Sea Salt Focaccia Bread; Bonnieview Farm Feta Cheese;

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

Carnivore Shares: Shuttleworth Farm Ground Lamb
Shares: Mixed Cracked Grains & Frozen Tomatoes

Storage and Use Tips
Mixed Beets - This week your mix of beets will contain fiona, chioggia, red and/or gold beets. The fionas are the finger shaped roots, not to be confused with the purple potatoes in your bags. The chioggia are a deep pink on the outside, with candy pink and white stripes on the inside. From there you can pick out the red and gold. To see pictures of all of these varieties, please see our Root Vegetable Identification Chart. To maintain the beautiful colors of the chioggia and gold beets, cook the red and fiona beets separately. If roasting, you can package the beets up in different foil packages, tossed with sunflower oil and salt. I like to cut my beets up into like-sized pieces. I roast them in a 400F oven for about 50-60 minutes, until a knife easily slips in and out of a piece. Skin them once they are cool enough to handle. Store beets loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer.
Sprouted Beans - The sprouted beans in your share today are a mix of red, green and black lentils; adzuki; fenugreek; and mung. We are really excited about these, as they sprout easily in the headhouse and pack a lot of nutritional punch into a small package. Wikipedia gives a good rundown on the nutritional benefits of bean sprouts. These are perfect as a snack; tossed into a salad; garnish for soup or chili; or used in a stir-fry. It's hard to find nutritional information about the effects of cooking sprouted beans. However, most likely, the heat would kill some or all of the beneficial enzymes in the sprouts. Keep sprouts refrigerated and rinse and drain just before use.
Sunflower & Radish Shoots - In order to distinguish between the more green and lush soil-grown sprout varieties, we have decided to refer to them from now on as shoots. This week's mix is made up of the cut seedlings of sunflower and radish. We will also mix in pea and buckwheat as the season progresses. These shoots can be used in place of greens in a salad and are awesome on sandwiches and in wraps. I particularly like them with hummus, as well as egg salad. Rinse and drain just before use. Keep in the crisper drawer of your fridge.
Frozen Tomatoes - (Vegetarian shares only.) Keep these frozen until ready to use, then run the tomatoes under warm water. This will loosen the skin enough to be peeled right off. Let them thaw a bit more, then chop and use as you would canned, chopped tomatoes. After peeling, coring then thawing the tomatoes, you can also give them a whirl in the food processor and use in recipes calling for canned, (unseasoned), tomato sauce.
Mixed Cracked Grains - (Vegetarian shares only.) These organic mixed cracked grains are made up of wheat, barley, rye, oat and flax. They make a delicious breakfast cereal. Use a 2-to-1 ratio of liquid to grains, perhaps even a bit more liquid. We like to use half water and half milk, but all water is fine too. You can enjoy a softer porridge if you soak the grains in the water overnight. The grains are also great mixed in with rolled oats to make granola, or used on their own to make a pilaf. Store as you would rice, oats or barley.

Pete's Musings
We have fired up the sprout house and boy is it fun! Sprouting and growing soil grown shoots is pretty new for Pete's Greens and there is a lot to learn. We have a 10 by 30 ft facility with radiant heat and this week we grew sunflower and radish shoots and a multi bean sprout mix. Next week we are aiming for an alfalfa/clover sprout mix and more sunflower and radish shoots. The 82-degree sprout house is a humid tropical paradise in the Vermont winter. We hope you like the sprouts. -Pete

Farm Update
Pete was out an about with my camera yesterday and captured some shots of the greenhouse with the ripped plastic. If the wind was quiet enough this morning, the crew was scheduled to put on the new plastic from Montreal first thing. We'll keep you posted as to how the claytonia grows back.

Click on picture to see more shots.

The other pictures are from the sprouts room in the headhouse. This area is kept very warm and moist and we can grow up to three full shelves of soil-grown shoots under the grow lights. At this point, we need about 2 1/2 shelves to grow enough shoots for all the CSA shareholders.

Also in this room are several industrial-sized buckets for sprouting our beans.

Stepping into this room feels about like stepping into a steam bath, especially when you've still got your winter coat and gloves on!

I will be sending out a survey about our winter sprouts and shoots later this week. We would appreciate it if you could sample them right away so that you are better able to provide feedback on them.

Cranberry Juice from Last Week
It has come to our attention that one of the batches of cranberry juice that was deliveredLink last week may have been off-tasting. Cranberry Bob made several batches for the CSA, so we are hoping this is a limited phenomenon. All of the cranberry juice is super-strength, so is better when diluted with water, seltzer, vodka, etc. I usually add just a couple of tablespoons to a full glass of seltzer. If it's too tart, you can also add honey or maple syrup. If you follow these steps, but still feel like you received a bottle that you are not happy with, please let me know by this Friday, January 9th. We will work with Bob to get replacements. Thanks!

Bulk Order for January 28th
Thank you to all who ordered veggies and localvore items in last month's bulk order. It's a convenient and economical way to stock up on winter vegetables that you really enjoy. Though we ran out of localvore items, we still have a wide-selection of roots and alliums available. You can also order Pete's Greens T-shirts as part of the bulk order.

To place a bulk order:

  • Print & fill out our Order Form.
  • Mail your form and check to the farm to arrive no later than January 22nd.
  • Pick-up your items on January 28th.
We tentatively have another bulk order scheduled for February 25th. Find out more about our bulk orders here.

Localvore Lore
I was feeling very Mediterranean as this share came together. There are some wonderful meals to be made here with lamb (or frozen tomatoes), feta cheese and focaccia.

This is the first time that we've worked with the folks at Shuttleworth Farm and we are very excited to bring you their ground lamb this week. Todd and Kelli picked up the tradition of farming from Todd's Grandparents. Although Todd began with milking cows, he and Kelli quickly decided to make the move to pastured beef and lamb. They do an admirable job grass feeding their livestock for as much as the year as possible. Most of the lamb in the share today is 100% grass fed. There are about 30 packages, though, that were taken from their winter lambs. These animals were 100% pastured until the last few weeks of their lives when they were brought into the barn for the winter. Here is some more about Shuttleworth's lamb-raising practices taken from their website:
At Shuttleworth Farm, we believe that healthy animals provide us with healthy food, and healthy animals should eat what nature designed them to. In the case of sheep, that means an all grass diet.

We raise the best of rare French, British and American breeds of sheep. These animals were selected exclusively for their meat quality and their ability to thrive on a grass-only diet.

This technique of raising animals makes their meat naturally lean, better tasting, and exceptionally tender. When compared to grain-fed meats, grass-fed, pasture-raised lamb is much lower in fat, higher in heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids and Conjugated Linoleic Acids (CLA's). It is also excellent sources of Vitamins A, B3, B6, B12, D and E.

From birth, our animals receive nothing but mother's milk, our own high quality hay and lush pasture. Instead of grain, they are moved to new paddocks of fresh grass every day during the grazing season.

Paddock shifts occur in the evening, as the grasses contain the maximum amount of nutritional value from the photosynthesis of the day's sunshine. The sheep gather at the edge of the paddock and wait, impatiently, while we build the next fence. Once completed, we open the gate and the flock rushes happily in, glad to have a fresh smorgasbord in front of them.

In the winter months we move our animals into the barns. They are fed corn and dry hay and are bedded with straw to form a 'pack.' This 'pack' heats up as it decomposes to create a warm bed for the animals, and also serves as a perfect start to the compost we spread on our fields.
Instead of lamb, our vegetarian members will be receiving frozen tomatoes and mixed cracked grains. The tomatoes were picked from our field at the height of the season and frozen to maintain their sweet summer flavor. Please see the Storage and Use Tips above to make the best use of these crimson globes.

The mixed cracked grains are certified organic and come to us from Compton, Quebec via La Panciata bakery in Northfield, VT. When Tim and I picked up our grains from Michel Gaudreau at Golden Crops, the local mixed grains had not yet been cracked. I had originally discovered Golden Crops from Glen Loati, the owner of La Panciata, a few years back. Glen has been importing Michel's organic grains for his bread for some time. He also helps the Mad River Valley Localvores organize a twice-yearly bulk oat order for much of North Central Vermont.

Anyways, Glen graciously offered us some of his Quebec mixed cracked grains, allowing us to provide this treat to our vegetarian shareholders this week. For more about using the grains, see the Storage and Use section above.

Everyone will be receiving the feta cheese from Bonnieview Farm. I have to admit that I love this cheese. I buy it whenever I can find it. I think that it's the perfect balance of creamy, tart and tangy that defines an outstanding feta cheese. If you can stop yourself from eating it straight, it also works well in salads and casseroles.

Finally, when Andrew Heyn told me that they were thinking of making a focaccia bread later in the share, I knew this would be the perfect week to provide it for you. With rosemary and sea salt, it can't be beat. As Andrew emailed me earlier today, "The smell from these was so intoxicating as they came out of the oven, we gobbled a whole loaf right away. I think it will be a great accompaniment to this week's lamb and feta."

Bread Ingredients: Quebec Bread Flour, Quebec Whole Wheat Flour, Spring Water, Quebec Sunflower Oil, Rosemary, Maine Sea Salt, Yeast.

Happy Eating!

Greek Spiced Shepard's Pie
Inspired from a recipe at Epicurious.com. Serves 4.

For the lamb mixture
1 TB sunflower oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves minced garlic
1 lb. parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 lb. carrots, peeled and chopped
1 lb. ground lamb
3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tsp crumbled dried mint
1 tsp crumbled dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 lb can plum tomatoes, drained, reserving 1/2 cup of the juice, and chopped
1 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 lb. crumbled feta cheese

For the topping
1.5 lbs potatoes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup milk or cream
1/4 lb. crumbled feta cheese

Make the lamb mixture
In a large skillet heat the oil over moderate heat, add the onion and cook, stirring, for two minutes. Add the garlic and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the parsnips and carrots, lower heat slightly and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the lamb, increase heat slightly and cook the mixture, stirring and breaking up any lumps, until the lamb is no longer pink. Pour off any excess fat from the skillet, add the cinnamon, the mint, the oregano, and the allspice, and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with the reserved juice, the tomato paste, and salt and pepper to taste and cook the mixture, stirring, for 15 minutes, or until it is thickened. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the feta. The lamb mixture improves in flavor if made up to this point and kept, covered and chilled, overnight. Bring to room temperature before continuing. Spread the mixture in a buttered 8x8 baking dish, or small casserole.

Make the topping
In a large saucepan combine the potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces, with enough cold water to cover them by 1 inch, and some salt. Bring the water to a boil, and simmer the potatoes for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are tender. Drain the potatoes, return them to the pan, and cook them over moderate heat, shaking the pan, for 30 seconds to evaporate any excess liquid. Force the potatoes through a ricer or the medium disk of a food mill into a bowl, add the butter, the milk or cream, the feta, and salt and pepper to taste, and stir the mixture until it is combined well and butter is melted.

Spoon the topping over the lamb mixture, spreading it to cover the lamb mixture completely. Bake the potpie in the middle of a preheated 400°F. oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until it is browned lightly.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Chermoula
Carolyn Malcoun contributed this Eating Well recipe a couple of weeks back. I've modified it to better represent the vegetables in this week's share. If you don't still have any winter squash on hand, you can any other root vegetables you have. The vegetables are roasted with chermoula (also spelled charmoula), a quintessential Moroccan spice combination. (Any combination will work in this dish; start with about 12 cups of peeled vegetable pieces.) Serves 6.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons paprika, preferably sweet Hungarian
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices
8 ounces peeled and seeded winter squash, cut into 1-inch chunks

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place oil, garlic, paprika, cumin and salt in a food processor or blender and pulse or blend until smooth. Place all the vegetables in a roasting pan large enough to accommodate the pieces in a single layer. Toss with the spiced oil mixture until well combined. Roast the vegetables, stirring once or twice, until tender, 45 to 50 minutes.

Carolyn suggests serving the delicious roots with a dollop of plain yogurt.

Roasted Beet, Shoot and Sprout Salad
Serve this salad with a slice of the focaccia on the side for a light lunch or dinner, or serve it as an accompaniment for a heartier meal. Serves 4.

1 TB apple cider or white wine vinegar
1 TB minced shallot (optional)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 tsp sweet paprika
pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1 TB freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 TB sunflower or extra virgin olive oil

4 small to medium roasted beets, chopped in 1/2" pieces*
2 cups mixed sunflower and radish shoots
1 cup sprouted beans
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1 TB toasted pine nuts

To make the dressing, combine the first 8 ingredients in a food processor. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Toss together the beets, shoots, and sprouts. Sprinkle with cheese and pine nuts. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing.

*See instructions for roasting beets in the Storage & Use section at the top of the newsletter.

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