Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Good Eats Newsletter - April 15, 2009

This Week's Localvore Share Contains
Purple Viking Potatoes; Celeriac; Detroit Red Beets; Sunchokes; Mesclun Mix*; 1 Pint Sauerkraut; Red Hen Corn & Unbleached White Batard; 1 Piece Bayley Hazen Blue cheese; 1 lb Frozen Cranberries from VT Cranberry Co ; 1 kilo of Tullochgorum Farm Popcorn and...

Depending on the share you've signed up for (check the list at pick-up), you will also receive:
Non-Vegetarian - Pete's Chicken Stock
Vegetarian - Vermont Soy Tofu

*The mesclun mix this week is a combination of Spinach, Claytonia, Red Russian Kale, Tatsoi, Ruby Streaks Mustard, Sunflower, Pea and Radish Sprouts.

Storage and Use Tips
Celeriac - Celeriac also goes by the name of celery root. It tastes a bit like a cross between celery and jicama, but is mellower than celery. It can be eaten raw or cooked. If eating raw, some cooks suggest plunging the grated celeriac into boiling water for 1 minute to reduce bitterness and then plunging it immediately into cold water to stop it from cooking further. A tip for preparing celeriac - cut the root in large slices about 1 inch thick, then lay each slice flat and cut off the skin as if you were cutting the crust off a pizza. Then continue to process the now unskinned pieces as your recipe dictates. Celeriac should be stored unwashed, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.

Sunchokes - Sunchokes are the tuber of a perennial flower in the sunflower/aster family and are native to North America. There are competing theories as to how they came about their other name Jerusalem artichokes. In 1605, Samuel de Champlain first saw Native Americans harvesting these sweet crunchy tubers. The Native Americans called them sun roots, but Champlain thought they tasted like artichokes and called them artichauts de Canada. The plants were also clearly a member of the sunflower family and so were also called girasole (Italian for sunflower, meaning "turning to the sun"). It is thought that somehow these two names merged to become Jerusalem artichokes.

Sunchokes can be eaten raw or cooked in all the same ways that you can cook potatoes. Scrub the tubers thoroughly with a brush. Peeling can be difficult because of the knobbiness and is not necessary, the peels are edible. Like potatoes the flesh will darken with exposure to air so if serving them raw, dip in acidulated water. Because of high levels of iron, stored cooked sunchokes will also turn gray. This can be minimized by adding ¼ tsp cream of tartar or 1 TB vinegar or lemon juice to the cooking water. They cook quickly and will turn to mush so monitor carefully. Sunchokes should be stored in a cool, dry place or in the vegetable drawer wrapped in paper towels to absorb moisture and sealed in a plastic bag.

Pete's Musings
Things are clicking along on the farm. Very dry all of a sudden, funny how we go from a mud hole to dusty in about 3 days this time of year. We have 4 acres of baby greens, chard, kale, cilantro, scallions and other hardy crops direct seeded outside. Some are up already. Greenhouse tomatoes are setting fruit and looking great as are our greenhouse cukes. We have a bunch of potatoes sprouted in the greenhouse and will be planting them out later this week. An exciting new crop for us this year is ginger. We have received seed stock from an organic ginger farm in Hawaii. We had to disinfect it to hopefully prevent contamination of our greenhouses with any tropical diseases and now it is sprouting in the greenhouse. We'll grow it in the heated greenhouse for a few weeks and then transplant to an unheated house. The result will not be the buff colored ginger we are all familar with, but rather fresh ginger. Fresh ginger is beautifully colored with most shades of the rainbow and has a fresher, milder ginger flavor. We're excited about this one - look for it in September. ~Pete

Out with the Old, In with the New
It has been a real pleasure for me to write this newsletter each week, sharing the stories of our farm and our localvore partners. Knowing that you made good use of the storage and use tips and tricks and the myriad recipe ideas makes it even more rewarding. This newsletter has been and will continue to be a destination for connecting those on Pete's farm with all of our wonderful CSA members. Even in this modern world, relationships can still be built and sustained via the written word, even if it is typed and delivered via pixels on a computer screen.

While I will miss writing and connecting with all of you, I am confident that I am leaving you in good hands with Amy Skelton. As I wrote last week, she is transitioning into the role of CSA Manager and will be writing the newsletter, designing shares, sourcing the ingredients, maintaining our online communities and so much more. We are thrilled to have found Amy, who comes to us having run her own small organic farm up in Nova Scotia, as well as a local foods focused restaurant. She brings a great ethic to the farm, as well as communications and logistical experience, having been the Merchandising Manager for Phish for much of their touring career. Today is Amy's first day writing the newsletter and I look forward to reading it this evening along with all of you.

What will I be doing? In addition to becoming a member of the CSA later this spring, I have found a job closer to my Warren home working on climate change communications. I look forward to staying a part of the Pete's CSA community. All the best. ~ Nancy

I am thrilled to be moving back to Vermont and becoming part of the Pete's team. While my family and I have enjoyed Nova Scotia, we have missed Vermont and its beauty and its endlessly creative people. I have always been involved in farms or farming in one way or another. I am a home gardener and a beekeeper. I have been a stable owner and a farmers’ market coordinator. I gave milking cows and goats and cheese making a try. I tried growing organic poultry and berries. I ran a café. Through it all a couple things have become clear. I love the natural world, raising a few animals, growing a small garden. I get very excited in the presence of great ingredients. But a true farmer or chef I am not. My passion is in connecting people to good food, healthy living and organic and sustainable agriculture (and cooking and eating it). How lucky am I to have the opportunity to do just that while working with Pete’s Greens? Pete's mission to provide folks with four seasons of local organic produce (and meats!) and in connecting people to other local producers is a noble one and one I wholeheartedly support. Looking forward to the seasons ahead. ~Amy

Many thanks and good wishes to Nancy for all her guidance through this transition and for all the good systems that she leaves behind.

NEW ADAMS COURT Pickup Location
Today is the last day picking up at the Picchi/Dodds house. We are moving to our summer location a bit early this year, just up the block at the Romm's house. Pick-up will be in the Romm's garage. They have a white house on the right of Adams Court, before you make the turn to the left. The number is 25 Adams Court. Look for the sign.

VT Agency of Ag seeks Mobile Quick Freeze Operator
In 2008, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture acquired one of the nation’s first mobile quick freezing units through a grant from USDA – Rural Development. This unit can quickly freeze products of almost any size and shape. The unit increases the speed with which farmers can freeze their products and the quality of the final frozen product. Its mobility allows it to reach many farms, food producers, and commercial kitchens with no single user needing to invest in individual quick freeze capacity. The intent of this equipment is to expand sales opportunities for Vermont farmers, especially in providing ingredients for Vermont specialty products and bringing products to market year-round. This equipment also plays an important role in exploring the feasibility of mobile processing in general as one tool for reducing processing bottlenecks in the state. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture is now seeking an operator to manage the mobile quick
freeze equipment from May 2009 – May 2011. The Agency has posted a Request for Proposals (RFP) for operating the Mobile Quick Freeze unit (IQF). This equipment provides a mobile, commercial freezing station in an 8 x 18’ trailer. Deadline for Proposals is April 27th. If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity the full information packet is available at www.vermontagriculture.com or by contacting Helen Labun Jordan at Helen.jordan@state.vt.us or 802-828-3828.
Posted by request from Helen Jordan

MACA Suggests Crop Protection for White House Garden
(sign the petition)
In reponse to Michelle Obama's plan to plant and tend an organic vegetable garden with the help of a local elementary school, Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) sent Michelle Obama an email asking her to use "crop protection products". MACA represents the interests of agricultural chemical companies and are apparently disturbed by the message a White House organic garden may send to the public. An activist network called Credo has created a petition that asks MACA to "Stop asserting that the First Lady is somehow disserving our nation's citizens by encouraging them to grow their own food locally, sustainably and without your industry's chemicals." Thanks to one of our Good Eats shareholders for sharing this article.

Localvore Lore
The localvore portion of the share remains high this week to augment the value of the share as we await the freshly harvested bounty of Spring. This share has me dreaming of soup and salad. There are some great salad combinations possible using mesclun, roasted beets, Bayley Hazen Blue cheese, cranberries, grated celeriac and sunchokes. And the chicken stock and various tubers and root vegetables just beg to be made into hearty soups. With this week's bread below and a little saeurkraut on the side, it's a tasty week indeed. See the recipes below for some ideas.

It's always exciting to learn what the Red Hen Bakery has in store for us. Randy George, owner and Baker in Chief, had this to say about this week's bake:
One of the great things about doing the bread for the Pete’s Greens CSA is that it allows us to experiment with new things that we’re thinking about adding to our regular rotation. For years I’ve wanted to make a bread that uses a good quantity of cornmeal. Aside from making an interesting new bread, corn provides us with a new opportunity to use another local ingredient. Corn has been grown in Vermont probably since before recorded history, so it seems fitting to make a bread with this grain that grows so well here. 25% of the grain in this week’s bread is local, organic cornmeal grown by Aurora Farms in Charlotte. (You can find it in local stores under the name Nitty Gritty Grains.) The variety that we used is an old heirloom called Wapsie Valley. Although they don’t get the same yield from this corn, it has a flavor that makes it worth growing. We think that the flavor comes out most in the crust, so we made it into a batard shape (like a fatter version of a baguette) so that you get a little crust in just about every bite. The other 75% of the grain is organic unbleached wheat flour from Quebec. This bread makes use of two different starters: our wild-yeasted levain and a yeasted one. That combination gives the bread a milder flavor that we thought allowed the corn to come forward more. As always, Email me to let us know what you think… should we make this bread regularly? What should we call it? If we end up making it regularly and we use a name that you suggest, we’ll give you a gift certificate to our café! ~Randy
If you have never tried Jasper Hill Farm Bayley Hazen Blue, you are in for a real treat. This cheese receives regular rave reviews like this one from Cynthia Zarin who described Bayley Hazen Blue for the New Yorker Magazine this way “"It was tangy, sweet, creamy, velvet on the tongue, the most delicious blue cheese I’d ever tasted." Bayley Hazen Blue is named after a road running through the Northeast Kingdom. The road was built and named after two Revolutionary War generals Bayley and Hazen, who were stationed along the Canadian Front. Jasper Hill summarizes this delicious cheese as follows. "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."
Tullochgorum Farm in Ormstown, Quebec have provided us with their organic popcorn. Steve and his wife Lorraine made a special day trip down to drop it at the farm. Nancy helped Steve navigate the very complex and unintuitive prior notice system on the FDA website. It is white popcorn instead of the blue this time. Steve said he's had comments that the white is actually fluffier and tastier than the blue. Let us know what you think. Pete sent him home with a big bag of farm vegetables as thanks for making the trip.

From Vermont Cranberry Company we have included a pound of frozen cranberries. I have used them in a salad dressing recipe below, but options abound. Bake them into pies, cookies, muffins, or breads or make them into chutney or jam. Cranberry Bob writes:
It is really gratifying to start the growing season and have a market for frozen berries. We are really excited about the extended season. The frozen berries are the same berries as we sell fresh in the fall. Cranberries are wonderful in that they survive freezing with little change in applicability. Try some in braised fiddleheads!
From Pete's kitchen we have the first batch of Meg's Sauerkraut!
This year I made 35 gallons of sauerkraut. I used regular green cabbage which does not have a high water count and therefore the kraut has less liquid in it. I used a small amount of salt to help with the fermentation process. I take cabbage and slice it thin. It then goes into a big barrel with pickling salt, sea salt also works. I then pound the cabbage down with the salt until liquid starts to form. Once i am finished, I create a water lock on top of the mixture so that the sauerkraut is not exposed to any air. The kraut then sits for 2 months and is checked every so often to see what stage fermentation it is at. As the kraut ferments, it likes warmer temperatures to aide in the process. We keep the barrel in the washhouse where it is warmer. It still takes a little longer to ferment in there because it is cooler in temperature some days. Eventually I decide when it's good to go, and it goes into containers and into the cooler to slow down the fermentation and keep the kraut fresh.

This kraut is not strongly fermented. It is more of a fresh sauerkraut and is on the sweeter side versus the tangy salty side. If you like you kraut stronger in flavor, I recommend leaving it out on the counter for a couple of days. I have experimented with this and it works well. The kraut does not spoil and gets a little more tangy. If you like it fresh, it is great for breakfast as a side with eggs and greens. Pete and I eat it like this all the time and we love it. I hope you enjoy. ~Meg
We are excited to have you all try the sauerkraut and give us your feedback. Fermented foods deliver to our bodies live cultures of lactic acid producing bacteria. These beneficial bacteria help us to digest our food better allowing us to derive more of the nutritional value of the foods we eat. Sauerkraut is at the top of the fermented foods list due to its abundance of lactobacilli, the most important type of friendly bacteria type found in the digestive tract. In addition Sauerkraut delivers a hefty dose of Vitamin C , manganese, vitamin B6 and folate. So very tasty and good for you too. Let us know what you think.

I immediately thought of salad and soup combinations when I looked at this week's share. Blue cheese pairs so nicely with beets and with cranberry. Try roasting some beets and having them on hand to toss into a salad this week. If you are making soup with the sunchokes and celeriac, try holding a little fresh aside and grating it for salads as well. In addition to the salads and a very versatile soup recipe I have included a simple side dish recipe for both sunchokes and celeriac.

Mesclun Salad w/ Blue Cheese & Cranberry Vinaigrette
I won't give an actual salad recipe because a salad begs for improvisation. But I am dreaming of mesclun greens in a bowl, with grated raw sunchokes (dipped in lemon juice to prevent discoloration) or grated celeriac, dressed with the Cranberry Vinaigrette and then topped with crumbled Bayley Hazen Blue, toasted nuts (pecans, walnuts, or sunflower come to mind), and perhaps grated apple.

Cranberry Vinaigrette
Mix in a food processor or blender.
1/3 cup olive oil
3 TB red wine vinegar
1 TB dijon mustard
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper 1/4 to 1/2 cup cranberries (thawed)

Roasted Beets and Blue Cheese Salad

Adapted from Michael Symon’s recipe on www.foodnetwork.com
1 pounds red beets
4 TB olive oil
1 tablespoons sea salt (plus a bit more at end at your discretion)
2-4 ounces blue cheese
1 orange juiced and zested (or subsititute a bit of lemon juice or a bit of apple cider vinegar)

Brush beets with 1 TB olive oil and sprinkle with 1 TB salt (this seems like a lot but beets will get skinned later removing much of the salt). Place in a preheated 400 degree oven and bake for 1 hour or until beets are tender. Remove skin from beets and slice into 1/4-inch thick discs and set aside. Place beets on plate. Top with crumbled blue cheese. Drizzle with remaining olive oil, zest and orange juice. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste and serve.

Celeriac Remoulade (Celery Root Salad)
This salad is a refreshing cool coleslaw-like salad. A food processor makes the job of grating the celeriac much faster.
* see tips for preparing celeriac in Storage and Use in the first part of this newsletter 1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 lb celery root - quartered, peeled, and coarsely grated just before mixing
1/2 tart apple, peeled, cored, julienned
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice and parsley in a medium-sized bowl. Fold in the celery root and apple and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.

Celeriac Soup
There are many variations one could use to turn out a lovely soup using the ingredients in this share. The recipe below is just a suggestion. Soup is a great place to experiment. If you don’t have an ingredient omit it and/or substitute something similar. Try adding other herbs if you'd like. A bit of sage or thyme would be nice in this soup.
* see tips for preparing celeriac in Storage and Use in the first part of this newsletter
2 TB Oil (or butter or combo)
1 medium onion, or 2 leeks, or 2 shallots (peeled and sliced thinly)
2 garlic cloves (peeled and sliced thinly, or minced)
1.5 lb celeriac (peeled and chopped into chunks)
2 stalks celery (peeled and chopped, use peeler to remove tough outer strings)
2 potatoes (or sunchokes or combo) – scrubbed and chopped
2 carrots – peeled or scrubbed and chopped
1 quart of chicken stock (or vegetable broth)
1 Bay leaf
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup water (as needed)

Heat butter/oil in Dutch oven or soup pot. Add onions, cover and simmer until tender. For more flavor, remove cover and simmer until onions have browned slightly. Add garlic and celery and simmer 2-3 minutes more. Add the other vegetables and let cook for about 5 mins. Add the chicken stock and bay leaf and water if needed, enough to cover the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer covered for about 20 mins, until the vegetables are tender. Puree in batches in a blender or use a hand mixer to puree the vegetables. If you think your soup is too thick, add some water or more stock. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

For garnish consider a dollop of crème fraiche or yogurt or cream, (especially if you used veg stock). Crumbled bacon or some crumbled/grated cheddar on the top of each bowl would be delicious and make a very hearty meal with a hunk of this week’s bread.
I saw a recipe for a very similar celeriac soup in which the vegetables and broth were all thrown together in a Dutch oven, simmered on stove top for 5 minutes, then simmered in the oven covered for 3 hours. Not a quick dinner solution but this method would sweeten and deepen the flavors and would be lovely.

Celeriac Gratin
This recipe was posted on the website www.toomanychefs.net and looks simple and wonderful.
1 small celeriac head (about 1 lb)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup crême frîche
1 large egg
2-3 oz Danish blue or other mild blue cheese
pinch of salt
Butter for gratin dish

Wash peel and slice the celeriac in thin (1/2 cm) pieces. Butter a small gratin dish and layer the celeriac in the dish. Beat together the milk, cream and egg and pour over the celeriac. Crumble the cheese in small chunks and spread over the top of the dish. Bake in a hot (200c/400f) oven for 25 minutes or until a sharp knife easily runs through the tender slices of celeriac. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Note: if the top of the dish starts to brown, cover with brown paper or tin foil. Blue cheese can turn very acidic and sharp if it cooks too much and will overpower the delicate celery aroma of the dish.

Simple Roasted Sunchokes
.5 pound sunchokes, sliced into half-inch rounds
.5 pound potatoes or carrots, sliced into half inch rounds
2 Tablespoons oil
1 TB lemon juice
Sprinkle with dried Rosemary or thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss the sunchokes with the oil & lemon juice. Sprinkle with the herbs. Bake in a shallow gratin dish with the herbs for thirty to forty-five minutes or until done. (Pierce them with the tip of a knife. They should be mostly tender but offer some resistance. Don’t let them get mushy.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

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