Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Good Eats Newsletter - March 4, 2009

Thank you for bringing back your plastic bags!

This Week's Share Contains
Adirondack Red Potatoes; Green Cabbage; Copra (Yellow Storage) Onions; Parsnips; Mix of Sunflower & Radish Shoots; Frozen Tomato Puree; Elmore Mountain Frozen Pizza Dough; Blue Ledge Chevre; State Line Farm Sunflower Oil; and Vermont Cranberry Company Apple Cider Vinegar.

Storage and Use Tips
Parsnips - Related to the carrot, the parsnip has grown wild in Europe for millennia and was considered a delicacy by the Roman aristocracy. Though parsnips are usually eaten cooked, they can also be eaten raw like carrots. They have a sweet nutty flavor and lend themselves well to cooking with honey, maple syrup and butter. They are a very flexible starch. Try them sauteed, baked, roasted and mashed, as well as in soups and stews. Store parsnips as you would carrots, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer.
Sunflower Oil - As you may have guessed, sunflower oil is pressed from the seeds of sunflowers. It has a pleasantly, mild nutty flavor and is great in salad dressings and dips. It has a relatively low smoke point, so while it is okay for sauteing, it is not recommended for higher heat stir-fries. The oil is being distributed in plastic containers. It is suggested that you transfer it into glass containers for long-term storage. Unless you plan on using your sunflower oil within the next few months, store the oil in the refrigerator for longer keeping. At the colder temperature, the oil will most likely turn a bit cloudy and perhaps even begin to solidify. This is okay. When brought back to room temperature, the oil will be clear and pourable again.
Copra Onions - A medium-sized, slightly sweet yellow onion, copras are great keepers. Add them to salads and sandwiches raw, or cook them in tarts, stews, soups, casseroles and stir-fries. Well, they're onions. Include them in just about everything! Keep onions in a cool dark place, away from potatoes. Once cut, keep remaining onion in a sealed plastic container in your fridge.
Tomato Puree - We pureed our organic summer tomatoes to make this lovely sauce. It makes a great base for soups, stews, pizza and pasta sauces, as well as a great addition to any dish calling for pureed tomatoes or tomato sauce. Unflavored and unsalted, store the puree in your freezer until you're ready to use it. Thaw in the fridge.

Meg's Musings
Two weeks ago, Pete and I took a trip to Tuscany, Italy, where we attended a small conference hosted by Spannocchia Foundation. We spent the 5 days of the conference at the Spannocchia castle in the heart of Tuscany, just 12 miles southwest of Sienna. The property is 1000+ acres and is covered by woodland, pasture, olive tree groves, vineyards, a couple of small vegetable gardens, and many out buildings.

The castle itself is beautiful, with big, solid wooden doors, stone floors and walls, narrow passageways, and fires going in all the gathering rooms. Local food was served to us each day and always consisted of homemade olive oil, white vinegar, and of and white wine. I especially enjoyed the cured meats, known as salumi products. Not to be confused with salami, salumi includes a broad array of cured specialties, of which salami is only one. I sampled many delicious and different salumis made in house (at Spinnocchia) with each meal.

There are a variety of animals raised on the property, including cows for beef and milk, sheep, and pigs. The pigs raised at Spinnocchia are an heirloom breed, local to the area and have a considerable history. They are called Cinta Senese and are black and white. At Spinnocchia, they are working on breeding the Cinta Senese with Great White pigs, known to me as cute pink pigs. When mixed, the breeds create supposedly some of the best and most sought after meat for both fresh and cured consumption. A butcher shop and aging facility are attached to the castle where employees and interns cut and age the meat, learning how to utilize EVERY part of the animal. Spannocchia then serves its product to guests and sells at a local organic farmer's market.

After our time in Tuscany, Pete and I had a couple of days to ourselves. We hopped on a train in Florence and headed towards Cinque Terre, known for its 5 small towns all located inside of 10 kilometers and perched on the northern coast of Italy.

We hiked along terraced mountains covered in vineyards. These grapes are used to produce a rare white wine called Sciacchetra, a product Cinque Terre is well known for. Olive, clementine and lemon trees are also abundant on the hillsides and throughout the towns. We hiked between towns and enjoyed the breathtaking views. The trail is at many points only a foot wide with a straight drop 500 yards or more into the ocean. I loved the hike. We even saw a fox, which is one of my "be aware and in the moment" animals. It made it all extra special.

Eventually, it was time to leave and we made our way back to Florence and then home. It felt great to get home and be back on the farm. Pete and I traveled a lot this winter and one of the best things I acquired from our many journeys is a greater appreciation for our home and community. Vermont has it all, as far as I'm concerned. Great people, amazing food, beautiful landscape, awesome communities....... and this farm, where I experience different challenges each day. All of these push and allow me to experience a much fuller and felt life and I am thankful. Traveling is fun, but it's good to be home! -Meg

State of the Plate
Mia Moore, one of our shareholders, emailed me a link to a recent New York Times article that I thought you would all enjoy. Marian Borroughs covered a tour of the kitchen prior to the White House Governor's dinner a couple of weeks back. Michelle Obama, instead of focusing strictly on china and place settings, shared with reporters and local culinary students a view of kitchen preparation and ingredients, including her thoughts on local vegetables.

I have guarded hopes for this administration and the progress they might make in promoting local, sustainable agriculture. They have brought their personal chef, Sam Kass, from Chicago with them who has a commitment to local food. Though President Obama's Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, does not have a reformer track record, the newly appointed Deputy Secretary at the USDA, Kathleen Merrigan, has street cred. Ms. Merrigan is one of the "sustainable dozen" that Food Democracy Now was pushing to be included in the agency. She is being haled as a reformer and has the backing of many progressive voices.

For the moment, I am glad to see that sustainable growing and eating is on the Obamas' radar, and am holding my breath to see how these beliefs will translate into change.

And the Search Goes On....
Three times I have thought we had located the new perfect pick-up spot in Richmond, only to have my hopes dashed. I will make a few more calls tomorrow, but am losing confidence that we will find a new home near the expressway. At this point, I think our best bet might be a persons' house right near the exit. If you know anybody, please email me their info. Thanks!

Bulk Order - March 11th Delivery
Final call for our March 11th bulk order, the final bulk order of the season. We have a few types of root vegetables on the list this time, along with frozen strawberries and t-shirts.

To place a bulk order:Link

  • Print & fill out our Order Form.
  • Mail your form and check to the farm to arrive no later than March 5th.
  • Pick-up your items on March 11th.
Find out more about our bulk orders here.

Upcoming Classes
Seed Ordering and Garden Planning Workshop & Fundraiser, Saturday March 14th, 2:00-4:00 pm, taking place at the Vermont Foodbank’s Manosh Branch in Wolcott and sponsored by High Mowing Organic Seeds. 10% off High Mowing Organic Seeds; 100% of the proceeds to benefit the Vermont Foodbank’s Salvation Farms Gleaning Network. Workshop is free and open to the public. Contact Rebecca Beidler for directions and registration at 802-472-8280.

Localvore 'Lore
I look at the share this week and think, calzones and salad--shoot salad, of course. Undoubtedly, the pizza dough from Elmore Mountain could be used for making pizza. (Read how in the January 21st newsletter). No matter what you use the dough for, you will want to thaw it before you roll/stretch it out (it's sent out in the morning frozen). If you aren't going to use it in the next couple of days, store it in the freezer. It should be thawed in the fridge overnight, or on the counter for 3-4 hours. Either way, it should be close to room temperature when you start to work with it.

The chevre this week is from Blue Ledge Farm, down in Salisbury, VT. Husband and wife team, Hannah and Gregory, run the farm with the help of their two small children and herd of 30 goats. They believe that contented animals produce the best milk, so they do their best to provide their goats with a pleasant life. This means the goats are out on pasture when at all possible, and that they are only seasonally milked, taking the early winter months off.

We have both oil and vinegar in the share today to make an excellent salad dressing. The apple cider vinegar from Vermont Cranberry Company is definitely one to save for dressings and other special preparations. Even though it's got a 5% acidity level, and is therefore safe for canning, I think you'll agree that it's way too tasty to be used for pickling.

Bob Lesnikoski, better known as "Cranberry Bob," spent some time on the phone with me last week to share a bit about how the vinegar is made. I could hear him bottling the vinegar while we spoke. According to Bob, the cider comes from wild apples that he collects in Franklin County. The apples are brought back to Vermont Cranberry Company and pressed for their juices.

In addition to owning Vermont Cranberry, Bob is also the head winemaker for Boyden Valley. It is this same skill and aesthetic that he brings to making vinegar. The cider from the apples is fermented in stainless steel vats. Bob believes in naturally acidifying the vinegar, meaning that he relies on airborne yeasts to ferment the vinegar, rather than introducing a mother. He believes that mothers can introduce off flavors to the vinegars.

Once fermented, the vinegar is aged in French oak barrels for 2 years. The result is a light apple cider vinegar, with fresh apple flavor and a background sweetness. Unfiltered and unpasteurized, it's also a very healthful product.

This is the first year Bob has his apple cider vinegar ready for distribution, and Pete's CSA is the first to have it in any quantity. We all hope that you enjoy it!

Finally, we have sunflower oil from State Line Farm in Shaftsbury, VT. We included a lengthy write-up about the great work that John and Betsey Williamson are doing to promote local oil production in our December 31st newsletter.

Usually, we give out oil towards the end of the share. This time we decided to give it out earlier, as it's used in so many of the recipes we include in the newsletter. If you just got a quart and are feeling overwhelmed, see the Storage and Use section above. You can keep this quart in your fridge while you finish up your first.

Parsnip, Shoot and Chevre Salad
There are so many excellent cooking blogs on the web these days. I find myself getting more and more ideas from these independent publishers. Today I found UK based Mostly Eating. It has a tasty sounding recipe for parsnip salad that I modified for today's newsletter. Serves 2.

2 small parsnips, peeled and julienned (or cut into very fine strips)
2 cups shoots
1 TB pine nuts
1.5 oz chevre

For the dressing:
2 TB sunflower oil
1 TB cider vinegar
1 tsp grain mustard
1 tsp minced shallot
2 tsp honey
pinch, dried crumbled thyme

Put the julienned parsnips and shoots together in a large bowl. Place a small pan over low heat. Put the pine nuts into a pan and toast over low heat until golden brown. Add the pine nuts to the other ingredients and finally add the crumbled goats cheese. Mix the dressing ingredients together with a fork. Pour dressing over salad and toss.

Chevre and Tomato Sauce Calzone
Start with this basic calzone recipe and liven it up with some fried local sausage, pepperoni, cooked frozen greens, roasted root vegetables, mushrooms or peppers. My family enjoyed a couple of these calzones last night, stuffed with local braising greens saved from this past summer. Serves 2-3.

2 tsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 cups tomato puree
3/4 tsp dried crumbled thyme
3/4 tsp dried crumbled oregano
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 portion Elmore Mountain pizza dough, room temperature
flour for dusting
3.5 ounces crumbled chevre
optional stuffing (cooked frozen greens, squeezed dry; diced roasted roots; cooked crumbled bacon or sausage; sauteed onions, peppers and mushrooms; or whatever you like).

Preheat oven to 450F. To make the sauce, place a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add oil, then onion and garlic. Sweat until soft and translucent, about 7-10 minutes. Add tomato puree, herbs and spices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered until sauce thickens, about 25-30 minutes. Stir in vinegar. Remove from heat.

Sprinkle counter generously with flour. Roll out pizza dough to an approx. 12" circle, using flour liberally to make sure the dough does not stick to counter or rolling pin. Transfer dough to baking stone or cookie sheet. Spread desired amount of sauce on half the dough, leaving a 1/2" border at edges. Distribute filling over sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Fold bare half of dough over filling, lining up edges. Fold edges over and crimp to seal. Poke top all over with a knife to allow heat to escape. Place in oven and bake until crust is firm and golden, about 20-30 minutes. Serve with extra sauce on the side.

Potato Stuffed Cabbage Rolls in Tomato Sauce
Part Eastern European, part Turkish, these stuffed rolls are a pleasant departure from cabbage slaws, braises and soups. The cooked ground lamb in the rolls is optional and can be omitted or easily replaced with crumbled tempeh or roasted roots. Serves 3-4.

6 cabbage leaves
4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 lb. chevre
1/2 cup milk
1/2 lb. cooked, ground lamb (optional)
2 tsp sunflower oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 cup tomato puree
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground coriander
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Cook potatoes and garlic in salted, boiling water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain potatoes, saving the hot cooking water in a pan. Mash the potatoes with cheese, milk, salt and pepper. Mix in cooked, ground lamb (optional). Set aside.

In a large skillet saute onion in oil. Add tomato sauce and spices and simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce comes together and thickens slightly. Set aside.

Dip a cabbage leaf into the hot potato water until softened, then drain. Spoon about 1/4 cup of potato mixture into the center of the leaf. Roll tightly and place in an oiled baking dish, making sure the seam side faces down. Repeat with remaining leaves. Pour tomato sauce on top of the rolls. Cover with foil and bake until rolls are cooked through and sauce is bubbling, about 25-35 minutes.

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