Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Good Eats Newsletter - May 20, 2009

This Week's Localvore Share Contains
Green Pac Choi; 2 lbs frozen strawberries; 1 bunch Scallions; 1 bunch Easter Egg Radishes; 1 bunch Cilantro; 3 lbs Norland and Nicola Potatoes; 1 Bag of Baby Spinach; Vt Soy Maple Ginger Baked Tofu; Maine Sea Salt plus:

1 Bunch Sweet Salad Turnips -or- Pink Turnips;
Dandelion Greens -or- Sorrel -or- Red Giant Mustard;
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
-OR-
Vegetarian -Pete's Vegetable Stock

Hen of the Wood, Laughing Moon and Adams Court will receive a European Cucumber (to make up for last week!)

Storage and Use Tips

Cilantro - A member of the carrot family and related to parsley, cilantro is the leaves and stems
of the coriander plant (the seeds of the same plant are the spice known as coriander). Cilantro has a very pungent odor and is widely used in Mexican, Caribbean and Asian cooking. The leaves and stems can be chopped and added to salads, soups and sauces, and can garnish many meals. I toss cilantro into any Mexican dish I am making, and love it in summer when I have tomatoes to make salsa. If you can't use all your cilantro just yet and wish to save it for a future dish, you can freeze it. Wash and gently dry your cilantro with paper towels. Then either put sprigs loosely in a plastic bag and freeze them. Or lightly chop cilantro, measure by the tablespoon into ice trays, fill remaining space in ice tray with water, and then after cubes are frozen, store in a plastic bag. You can take one out and thaw anytime you need to use it.
Dandelion Greens - Every year I wait anxiously for the dandelions' reappearance. I keep bees and for bees in our area dandelions are an important food source. The bees work all summer to store enough honey for the long winter ahead. In winter and late spring the colonies get lighter and lighter as the bees deplete their honey stores. The very first food sources come from tree buds, but the first big nectar flow comes from the dandelions. If the colonies survive until the dandelions arrive, I can relax knowing that the bees' long lean winter is over. The bees then begin their annual cycle of build up of population and honey stores again.
Dandelion greens are a bonus! Picked young and tender they are similar to turnip, beet or mustard greens. They can be eaten raw in salads when very young, but as they get a bit older they devel
op more of a bitter tang and then it is best to steam or sauté them. They are delicious sautéed for about 20 minutes with onions and garlic in olive oil, with perhaps a little homemade wine added before they're done. Some people like to cook them with sweet vegetables like sliced carrots and parsnips to reduce any bitterness. Adding a little milk or cream also smoothes out the flavors.
Vegetable Broth and Chicken Broth - This week we have both chicken AND vegetable broth. Nick has been testing broth recipes in the kitchen. The veggie broth was so good that I drank a cup with my lunch last week. Neither broth contains any salt.

Please Use Care at Pick up Sites!
We have had a few more problems than normal at pick up locations lately. We will do our best to make things more clear for you when you pick up. But we need you to be mindful too when you
are gathering your goodies. Please read the pick up instructions carefully. Please remember to check your name off the list when you pick up as well. This simple step helps us immensely when we have to solve any pick up mysteries.

Summer Share
There are only 4 weeks until the start of the Summer Share! Don't miss out on your weekly deliveries of fresh organic vegetables and localvore products. The shares always sell out so don't delay in getting your sign up form in!


Vegetable/Localvore - $748 (avg. $44/week)
Vegetable Only - $493 (avg. $29 a week)
Meat Share - $199 (avg. $50 a month)

Meg's Musings
Things are going well here on the farm as we move full speed ahead into the busy season. Last week Steve and Matt moved the last 2 of our 4 moveable greenhouses into their places for growing our hot weather crops. These include tomatoes, eggplant, cucs, zucs, and basil. These crops will grow happily in these unheated cold frames as we try to maintain 80 degrees in them
throughout the days. Pete and I roll the sides of the houses up or down depending on weather to help maintain a healthy climate inside for growing. At night the sides get completely rolled down and even though the temperature drops, the houses stay around 5 degrees warmer than the temp outside. These 4 greenhouses will stay in their current position until mid October when we will be moving them from their current positions to the places they were last winter. They will be moving over already growing cold weather hardy crops where they will remain for the winter. From those we will harvest crops deep into the season.

Aside from the greenhouses, we have been busily transplanting corn, kale, brussel sprouts, fennel and numerous other veggies. We have been able to utilize our 'new to us' transplanting equipment and are currently working on planting potatoes. Steve, Matt, and Pete are full throttle
ahead with all the prep- ground work, cultivation, post ground work, and appropriate cover cropping. We are all busy, busy, busy.

Last but not least, I wanted to thank my Mom, Carol for gracing the farm with her presence here last week. She came to spend some time with Pete and I and help out here where ever she was needed. Our farmstand gardens are beautiful and weed free with newly planted perennials thanks to my mom. Our headhouse is organized and everything labeled along with others areas tidied around the farm. It was such a joy to have her here and we all can't wait until she comes
back. A big thanks to Carol from all of us here on the farm. Your bright energy and hardwork was greatly appreciated.~ Meg

Farm News
Meg just sent her piece above and it's funny how similar her perspective is. It is busy, busy on the farm. May and June are crunch time. So many things needing to go in the ground, chickens growing, land to prep, machinery to fix, compost material to gather, and now with further farm diversification - cattle fencing to install. It's a race against time to get all the plans underway that have been dreamed up through the winter or previous year. At the same time, it's absolutely beautiful. Freshly tilled, rich brown fields are made green (or red if it's kale!) with new plantings.















I marvel at Pete's greenhouse system each time I walk the farm. The greenhouses are on skids and can be hauled via tractor in a horizontal line back and forth across the flat growing fields at Pete's. In a traditional system, the greenhouses stay in one spot, weeds and potential plant pests and diseases have a chance to build up, it is difficult to work the soil, soil additions must be brought into the greenhouse and applied. With the moveable greenhouse system, these issues are minimized. Each section of soil has opportunity to be exposed to the beneficial and cleansing rays of the sun and the air. Once a greenhouse is moved, the plot can be more easily and thoroughly tilled. And chickens provide the fertility for the plots in a completely non-mechanized circular system! More about the chickens in a future newsletter....

With a fixed greenhouse system, plants that are started in the greenhouse (like spinach for example) can overheat as the season progresses. And planting them outside has risk too. If spring is too cool, the plants won't thrive. But here on the farm, the greens can grow happily in the protection of the greenhouse until spring arrives. Then the greenhouse can be moved down one plot, allowing those same plants the benefits of cooler air and direct sunlight. Other more tender, heat loving crops can be started inside the same greenhouse on a new plot of freshly prepared soil. In the photos above, peppers are planted in a greenhouse that has just been moved to a new plot. Kale, lettuce, beets and other greens that were inside 3 days earlier are now basking in the fresh spring air.
On yet another plot the chickens spend their days lounging around gorging on the lush greens left behind by another greenhouse move. This plot will be tilled eventually. But first the chickens get their fill and the land takes in the fertility they leave behind.









Though much of the planting gets done by hand, the quest for efficiency is ongoing. Last week Nick & Matt spent a lot of a day working on getting a new used transplanter functioning. Adjusted correctly it could save a whole lot of time and bending! The first 50 rows that day were planted the old fashioned way - one by one, just as in the greenhouse. The left photo shows just a portion of that field. The tractor planted a row in the time it took to plant 3 or 4 rows by hand.















While new crops are going in, others started in the greenhouses earlier in Spring are now feeding us. Below European cucumbers, pak choi, and spinach bask in the sun.


















I couldn't help but sample a warm, sun filled tomato off the vine. I dream of summer tomatoes pretty much every day. Looking forward to the bounty a few weeks from now.



















Localvore Lore

Vermont Soy Company has been developing new products and we are excited to have a product in the share today that has only been available for a little over 1 month.

Our Baked Maple Ginger Tofu is a delicious sweet and savory tofu that is ready to eat. No preparation needed, simply cut to size and enjoy! Made with the highest quality ingredients, including Vermont Maple Syrup, our Baked Artisan Tofu is delicious on salads, in sandwiches, on crackers, or tossed into your favorite stir-fry.

We have been eating it plain, right out of the package as snack food. It's that good.
Vermont Soy's mission is to source non-GMO organic soybeans from farmers in Vermont for all of their products. To that end, they work collaboratively with High Mowing Seeds, the UVM Extensions Program and local farmers on seed trials to determine the most successful varieties for our area farmers to grow.

And freshly harvested and dried (really - we had to wait an extra day for it to dry more before it could ship!) we have sea salt from the Maine Sea Salt Company. The Cook Family isolates the salt in the same basic way people have done forever.

Our solar greenhouses, known as "salt houses" are filled with fresh seawater from the Gulf of Maine. The seawater evaporates naturally, from the heat of the sun and the drying effects of the wind blowing through the greenhouses. Over a period of time, fleur de sel floats on the pool surface, then grows and sinks to the floor to form the salt bed. When all of the water has evaporated, the sea salt is ready to be packaged as natural Maine Sea Salt™. We do not wash or bleach our salt at any time during the solar production process. Therefore, the nutritious trace minerals naturally occurring in seawater are retained in our products. We also do not use chemicals or drying agents.

Recipes

Cilantro and Potato soup
This is a delicious, satisfying soup. Like most soup recipes, there is lots of room for improvisation here with some options given below.

2 TB olive oil or butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped (or 2 leeks)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 quart chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
salt and pepper
1 pinch red pepper flakes
2/3 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
lime juice

Saute onion and garlic slowly until tender. Add the broth, potatoes. Cook til the potatoes are tender about half an hour. Add most of the cilantro leaving a few tablespoons for garnish. Use an immersion blender or food processor to puree. Serve hot or cold, and garnish with the remaining fresh cilantro. Add a squeeze of fresh lime juice before serving.

Optional: add 1 diced, seeded jalapeno pepper along with the broth and potatoes. Add up to 1/4 cup of cream to soup just before serving. Add a couple chopped scallions to the soup after pureeing.

Asian Spinach Salad w/ Baked Tofu
Adapted from a January 2001 Bon Appetit recipe. Makes 6 servings.

8 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 3-ounce package Asian noodle soup mix (such as Top Ramen), noodles coarsely broken
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 10-ounce bag ready-to-use spinach leaves
1 bunch green onions, chopped
4 oz of diced Baked Maple Ginger Tofu

Whisk 6 tablespoons oil, sugar, vinegar and soy sauce in small bowl to blend. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add noodles from soup mix (discard soup mix or save for another use). Stir to coat and cook for about 4 minutes. Then add nuts and sesame seeds. Stir until noodles, nuts and seeds are toasted and golden, about 4 more minutes. Pour contents of skillet into large bowl and cool 10 minutes. Add spinach and green onions and tofu to same bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Serve, passing remaining dressing separately.

Cilantro Potato Salad
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse. Serves 5-6.
1 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds potatoes, cooked and halved (unpeeled)
1/3 cup finely minced onions

In a bowl, stir together mayonnaise with cilantro, garlic, salt and 7 turns black pepper. Add potatoes and onions and toss to combine thoroughly; cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours before serving.

Asian Cilantro Dressing for Rice, Noodles, Salads or Meats
This is a very versatile dressing. For a very simple meal, serve this over steamed spinach or sauteed pac choi, rice, and Baked Maple Ginger Tofu.

5 T vegetable oil
1/3 cup packed fresh cilantro with stems
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup tamari soy sauce
1 ounce fresh ginger (about an inch of it?), cut into six 1/4 inch slices
6 large cloves garlic
1 1/2 T ground cumin
1 small jalapeno or other chili (optional)
Combine and blend all ingredients together in a food processor or blender until the chili, garlic, ginger and cilantro are finely chopped.

Chilled Strawberry Cream
A very simple & quick 3 ingredient recipe submitted by Ann Main to Allrecipes.com. Serves 2.

2 cups frozen unsweetened whole strawberries
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream

Place the strawberries and sugar in a blender or food processor; cover and process until finely chopped. In a small mixing bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into berries. Pour into serving dishes. Refrigerate or freeze for 25 minutes.

Tip - allowing berries to thaw a bit before blending may save you time fussing with your blender.






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