Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Good Eats Newsletter - February 4, 2008

Thank you for bringing back your empty plastic bags!

This Week's Share Contains
Orange Storage Carrots; Yellow Storage Onions; Celeriac; Banana Fingerling Potatoes; Frozen Strawberries; Gold Ball Turnips; Sunflower & Radish Shoots; Elmore Mountain Roasted Potato and Onion Bread; Ploughgate Creamery Cowslem Cheese;

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

Carnivore Shares
: Pete's Chicken (or Maple Wind Farm Chicken)
Vegetarian Shares: Jasper Hill Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese & Deborah's Eggs

Storage and Use Tips
Frozen Strawberries - Like a couple of weeks ago, these berries are from Four Corners Farm in Newbury, VT. We bought and froze them in June to supplement our own crop. For best results, keep frozen until ready to use. The green hull that is still attached is best removed by scraping off with a spoon while the berries are still frozen. If you allow them to thaw without removing the hull they end up being extremely messy to work with.
Celeriac - Celeriac also goes by the name of celery root. Local Banquet had a wonderful article on Celeriac this past fall. The article includes some interesting history and delicious recipe ideas. Celeriac should be stored unwashed, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.
Gold Ball Turnips - Gold balls have a taste similar to rutabagas. These turnips were described in 1879 as "Skin very smooth and quite yellow; flesh yellow, softish, and fine flavored, ... highly esteemed in Scotland and the north of England." Try pickling the turnips, mashing with butter, or cubing and using in soups and stews. I often use turnips in place of celery in cooked recipes like chicken soup and the chicken and biscuits below. Though celeriac is probably a better substitute for the celery similar taste wise, I value my celeriac too much to use in a stock, or in any recipe where the flavor may get lost. Keep turnips loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer.
Banana Fingerling Potatoes - Quite frankly, one of the very best potatoes. Cut these into 1 1/2" chunks, toss liberally with oil and salt and roast in a 400F oven until crispy and golden at the edges. It doesn't get much better than that! Store in a cool dry place away from onions.

Sign-Up Now for Nonstop Deliveries

Next week is our final delivery of the Fall/Winter share. Our Spring and Summer Shares are very popular and always sell out. If you don't want to miss a single week of GOOD EATS deliveries, please have your envelope to the farm no later than Weds. Feb. 11th (that's next week!). We are currently enrolling for the following shares:
Spring Share - Feb. 18th thru June 10th
Summer Share - June 17th thru October 7th
Meat Share - One in the spring and one in the summer
Enroll in the Summer Share by April 1st for a FREE Short Sleeve T-shirt!!!

Example Mid-April Share:
  • ½ lb. Mesclun
  • 1 bu. Parsley
  • 1 bu. Scallions
  • 3 lb. Carrots
  • 1 bu. radishes
  • 2 lb. beets
  • 1 bu. Chard
  • 2 lb. Fingerling Potatoes
  • 1/2 lb. Oyster Mushrooms
  • 1 Loaf Pain au Levain
  • 1/2 gal. Champlain Orchards Apple Cider
  • 1/2 lb. Bonnieview Farm Sheep Feta
Pete's Musings
A couple of weeks ago Meg and I had the incredible experience of visiting our good friends and past Pete's Greens employees Isaac and Melissa in Panama. Isaac and Melissa are on a two year Peace Corps stint in Panama working in a remote village on sustainable agriculture issues.

The visit was a real eye opener for me. The average daily wage for manual labor there is $6 and many people are not even able to get a job. It is very much a subsistence lifestyle and they chiefly grow rice, corn, yucca, and a diversity of tropical fruits. The hills are very steep and they grow dryland rice on slopes so steep that you have to use your hands to climb them. Unfortunately, the hills have been deforested for decades and the combination of their steepness and the really hard rain they receive daily in the summer months has left virtually no topsoil.

It's a very tough situation as there is little fertility left even in the bottomland soils and there are no major animal operations or other sources of organic matter to rebuild the soil. Isaac and Melissa are working hard on composting and other forms of fertility building and many of the folks in town are receptive to their ideas.

I left very much appreciating the fertile soil we have in Vermont and particularly at our farm. It also got me pondering all the inputs we use on our farm such as manure and other compost materials from local dairy farms. I think that as energy costs increase and the sustainability of large-scale dairy farming in Vermont becomes more questionable we are going to have to be more nutrient self-sufficient on our farm. -Pete

Join our Facebook Group!
It's official. Pete's is now part of the social networking revolution. Okay, perhaps we're not that edgy, but we do now have our own Facebook group. Please join our group to connect to other CSA members, share ideas and swap recipes and tips. The more who participate the better the group will be!

Upcoming Classes and Conferences

The Vermont Foodbank’s Salvation Farms Lamoille Valley Gleaning Groups’ Winter Workshop Schedule
All workshops are free and open to the public except LCNCRD workshops. Pre-registration is required and donations for the Vermont Foodbank are accepted. To register and find directions please call Rebecca Beidler at (802)472-8280 or email

Sunday February 22, 3-6pm
A Winter Veggie Exploration
Hardwick United Church
This workshop will focus on cooking a variety of simple dishes with root vegetables. Learn what all of those roots are and find out what to do with them! Hands on cooking and tasting included.

Saturday March 14, 2-4pm
Seed Ordering and Garden Planning Workshop
VT Foodbank’s Manosh Branch, Wolcott
Now is the time to plan your garden! High Mowing Seeds and Salvation Farms staff will lead you through the process of making small scale garden or container growing plans and assist you with picking vegetable varieties and seed quantities appropriate for your needs. Seeds will be available for purchase at a 10% discount and will benefit the Vermont Foodbank.

Saturday March 28, 4-6pm
Seed Starting with High Mowing Seeds
HMS greenhouse, Wolcott
Think starting seeds is only for commercial growers? Want to brush up on or expand your seed starting skills? Then you should join Salvation Farms and High Mowing Seeds for some hands-on experience starting a variety of seeds for transplant! Many sizes and varieties of seeds will be covered. Help High Mowing Seeds start seeds for their trial garden, and take home some starts of your own! In-depth instruction provided.

NOFA Vermont's Annual Winter Conference

Grow it Here! Innovations Toward Local Food Sovereignty
FEBRUARY 14 &15, 2009
Download the Brochure

Localvore Lore
We've got quite the selection of localvore goodies in the share this week. Let's start with the items everyone is getting: Elmore Mountain Roasted Potato and Onion bread and Cowslem cheese from Ploughgate Creamery.

Andrew Heyn, owner and baker at Elmore Mountain was particularly excited about the bread this week, "We wanted to use some of Pete's Veggies in our bread, so we got 50 lbs. of his yellow Nicola potatoes and 50 lbs. of his onions. We chopped them up, tossed them with Quebec sunflower oil and sea salt and slow roasted them in our wood-fired oven. The slow roasting caramelized them to a golden brown and really brought out their full flavor. We kneaded everything into Quebec bread flour and whole wheat, spring water, sea salt and yeast. It should be a delicious bread with the Ploughgate Cowslem, Bayley Hazen Blue cheese, as well as Pete's Chicken."

As I know he and/or Blair will be delivering the bread any minute now, my mouth is already watering!

I swung by both Ploughgate and Jasper Hill to pick-up the cheeses in the share today. Marissa and Princess run Ploughgate Creamery, a small operation on the outskirts of East Craftsbury. Marissa was there to greet me and I got a brief tour of their small, but very efficient facility.

Like most cheese operations, you must leave your shoes at the door and put on a pair of "clean" clogs or boots that are worn only in the cheese-making areas. We went into the production room where they have a 50-gallon vat on loan from Jasper Hill. This allows them to make 35-50 gallons of cheese at a time, which is perfect for their current needs. They get the milk themselves using milk pails from a few select local farms, including Bonnieview, Born Again Acres and Neil Fromm's place that is a part-time Jersey milking operation.

Ploughgate has a walk-in cooler where they age their white-rinded cheeses. They inoculate the cooler with a bit of white mold spores to ensure that they will get the desired rind. They also keep the Cowslem in the cooler. Any bloomy-rind cheeses are aged up at Jasper Hill.

The Cowslem in the share today is a fresh soft cheese made with organic cows milk. It is a fromage blanc style cheese, which is in the same family as cream cheese, quark, and crème frâiche. It is called “Cowslem” which is another Scottish word, which refers to the gleam of the evening star that the cattle were driven home by. It can be used in either sweet or savory recipes, used as a spread or eaten alone. Some suggested uses are: as a base for a dip; on top of strawberries and topped with maple syrup; or substitute it in recipes that call for cream cheese, ricotta, yogurt, or other soft cheeses, such as lasagna, cheesecake or stuffed shells. Of course, the Cowlsem spread on warm slices of roasted potato and onion bread and covered with shoots would make an exceptional lunch anytime of year. The cheese should keep well in your fridge for a good 10 days.

Vegetarians are hitting the jackpot with Bayley Hazen Blue cheese today. One of Jasper Hill's most popular cheeses, it is a natural rinded blue cheese. According the Jasper Hill Website, "Bayley Hazen is made with whole raw milk every other day, primarily with morning milk, which is lower in fat. Ayrshire milk is particularly well suited to the production of blue cheese because of its small fat globules, which are easily broken down during the aging process. The paste of a Bayley Hazen is drier than most blues and the penicillium roqueforti takes a back seat to an array of flavors that hint at nuts and grasses and in the odd batch, licorice. Though drier and crumblier than most blues, its texture reminds one of chocolate and butter."

Vegetarians are also getting a dozen of Deborah's eggs. You may remember that Deborah inherited her chickens from Pete's and has been taking care of them since the fall at her home up the road in Albany. Deborah will soon be increasing the number of laying hens at her place, allowing us to include eggs more frequently during the Summer Share.

Carnivores should not fret about the cheese and eggs, as they will be receiving a Pete's chicken. I had been under the assumption that we cleared the freezers back in October. However, we still had more at the commercial freezer warehouse and that's what's in the share today. We ended up a few chickens short, so folks that pick-up at NOFA will be receiving their chickens from Maple Wind Farm in Huntington. All the birds were raised on pasture.

Chicken and Dumplings
All I can say is, "Yum!" Chicken and dumplings has to be comfort food at its very best. Adapted from Use a wide pot so the dumplings don't stick together. Serves 6.

For the soup
2 tablespoons sunflower oil, bacon fat or olive oil
1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into pieces
1/4 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 medium gold ball turnips, cut into large chunks
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth

For the dumplings
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup coarsely ground cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3/4 cups heavy cream

Heat the oil in a wide, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid. Dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour, then brown them in the oil over medium heat, about 2 minutes a side. Remove and set aside. Add the onion to the pot and cook for 2 minutes. Add the carrots, turnip, bay leaf, thyme, turmeric, salt, and pepper and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the stock. Return the chicken to the pot, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the first five dumpling ingredients. Add the cream and mix until just combined. Drop about 12 heaping tablespoons of the dumpling mixture into the pot. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes more. To serve, scoop the dumplings and chicken into bowls, then cover with broth. Garnish with the shoots.

Celery Root Soup with Blue Cheese
This recipe comes from my absolute favorite local cookbook, Cooking with Shelburne Farms by Melissa Pasanen and Rick Gencarelli. Serves 4.

1 medium celeriac, about 1 lb., peeled and cut into 1" chunks
3 cups whole or 2 percent milk
1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 cup chicken stock, preferably low sodium
2 ounces crumbled (about 1/2 cup) best-quality blue cheese, plus more for garnish if desired
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a medium saucepan, bring the celery root, milk and salt just to a boil and then reduce the heat to a steady simmer for about 30 minutes until a fork easily pierces a chunk of celery root. Carefully pour the celeriac and milk into a blender and blend (or use an immersion blender). Add the chicken stock and the blue cheese and blend until completely smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan and warm it gently over medium-low heat. When the soup is hot, take it off the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve immediately, sprinkled with additional blue cheese if desired.

Fingerling Potato Salad with Sherry-Mustard Vinaigrette
Serve atop sunflower and radish shoots with roasted potato and onion bread spread with Cowslem cheese on the side. Serves 4.

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Sherry wine vinegar
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled tarragon
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

2 TB olive or sunflower oil
2 pounds fingerling potatoes, cut into 1 1/2" chunks
1 tsp kosher salt
2 1/4-inch-thick slices smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
1 small onion, chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, chopped
2 cups shoots

Combine mustard and vinegar in small bowl. Whisk in oil, then herbs. Season with sea salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss potatoes with salt and oil. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast until edges begin to brown, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in medium skillet over medium heat until brown and crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Place warm potatoes in medium bowl. Add bacon, eggs, onions, and vinaigrette. Toss well and serve over shoots.

Strawberry Ice Cream with Cowslem & Honey
Based on a recipe from Makes 1 quart.

3/4 pound strawberries, hulls removed and softened, but not thoroughly thawed
8 ounces Cowslem cheese, softened
1/2 cup plus 2TB honey
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

Coarsely chop strawberries and in a blender purée with all remaining ingredients except cream just until smooth. Stir in cream and freeze mixture in an ice-cream maker. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden. Ice cream may be made 1 week ahead.

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