Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Good Eats Newsletter - May 27, 2009

This Week's Localvore Share Contains
Head of Lettuce; Bag of Mesclun; Bag of Large Leaf Spinach; 1 Napa Cabbage; 1 bunch Scallions; 1 Bunch Sweet Salad Turnips; 1 Bunch Ruby Streaks Mustard; 2 lbs Mixed Beets; Red Hen Potato Bread; a Selection of Butterworks Farm Yogurt; Ploughgate Creamery Willoughby Cheese plus...

1 Bunch Cilantro -or- Parsley;
1 Bunch Kale -or- Bright Lights Chard

Half the sites will receive European cucumbers this week. Those that don't will get them next week.

Storage and Use Tips
Swiss Chard - I love swiss chard. A close relative to beets, the greens look very similar to beet greens. Like other greens, it is packed with the vitamins and minerals that are so hard to get in quantity in other foods. Chard is best eaten cooked. You can use it as a substitute for many recipes that call for spinach or other greens. As a side dish, I like swiss chard perhaps more than spinach. Which is saying a lot since I love spinach. For a quick side dish, try braising it one of two ways. Put a little olive oil or butter, 2 cloves of minced garlic & hald od a minced onion in a saute pan and allow the garlic to cook a bit and soften. Put in the chopped chard and cover tightly and let cook until wilted (if there's not enough moisture add a TB or so of water). Once chard has just wilted, add a sprinkle of red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar or balsamic and black pepper and serve. Or, add a bit of vegetable oil to the pan. Add the clove of minced garlic. Then add the chopped chard and cover and let cook until wilted. Then sprinkle with rice vinegar and a few drops of toasted sesame oil and maybe a teeny bit of soy if you want stronger flavor. Yum.
Napa Cabbage - The flavor of Napa cabbage is somewhat milder and a bit sweeter than that of regular green cabbage. It is delicious raw or cooked, and can be substituted for regular cabbage in most recipes. It is extremely popular in China partly because of its versatility. In Korea it is pickled, salted, and flavored with ginger and chili peppers to make Korea's national dish kim chi. Store in a sealed plastic bag in your refrigerator.

Summer Share
The Summer Share start date fast approaches. Please get your sign up forms in soon. We need to have forms and payment in by June 10th to get you started the first week of the share on June 17th.

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

Pete's Chickens and the Quest for a Closed Fertility System

We now have batches of chickens here and there around the farm. There are chicks inside and batches of birds on different plots of green outside. The chickens are a relatively new part of the fertility master plan for the farm. Pete has been raising a few chickens the last couple of years, working on the systems involved. This year he is raising enough birds to get closer to the goal of having fertility self sufficiency.

The vegetables grown on the farm pull lots of nutrients from the soil. That fertility must be replaced. In the past that has meant bringing in soil additions from off the farm, like manure and spoiled silage which get composted and then applied. This is an energy intensive system requiring man hours and fuel for trucks and tractors. Now the chickens play a role. When a greenhouse is moved off a plot of aging greens, the chickens get to work. The growing birds are moved onto a plot, pastured in electric chicken netting to protect them from predators, and they feast on the greens and all the all vegetable chicken feed they care to eat. They leave behind a nutrient filled layer of manure that gets tilled back into the soil.

This makes for happy soil and ecstatic chickens. This photo pretty much says it all, a picture of complete chicken contentment. The benefits don't stop with improved soil and happy chickens though. All of the goodness stored in the organic greens and grass is transferred to the meat of the birds, making their meat especially tasty and packed with nutrition. The meat from pastured poultry is significantly higher in Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin A. It is also lower in fat. This is very, very healthy meat.
Within the next week or so, we will have chickens ready to order! We'll be sending an email with ordering instructions and will update the website with information as well.

Localvore 'Lore
At the Red Hen Bakery in Middlesex, Randy has created a potato bread for us this week. Randy continues to seek out ways to incorporate more and more local ingredients into the breads he makes.

The potatoes are Yukon Gold potatoes that we get from Foote Brook Farm in Johnson. We roast them in the bread oven and then throw them in the dough, peels and all. The potatoes comprise 40% of the total ingredients in the bread. It’s a great keeper and makes excellent toast as well.

From Craftsbury Common Ploughgate Creamery has just pulled this Willoughby cheese from the Cellars at Jasper Hill for us. The Willoughby is "a silky textured washed rind wheel with smoky notes and overtones reminiscent of spring". This is a cow's milk cheese made from Ayreshire milk that Ploughgate proprietors Princess MacLean and Marisa Mauro buy from Randy Hancock in Newport. Princess and Marisa took over their dairy from some retiring sheep farmers a little over a year ago and since then have been turning out some fantastic cheeses which have been very well received. Previously the two had worked together and separately on several area cheese making farms (Jasper Hill and Bonnieview among them) and learned their craft well enough to head out on their own. Princess has just got some Ayreshire heifers and in a couple years perhaps will be supplying the milk for some of the cheeses. Described as a washed rind cheese, the Willoughby is actually "washed" or painted with honey wine (mead) made by Todd Hardie of Honey Gardens Apiaries in Ferrisburg. The washed rind gives the cheese some of its characteristic flavor. I love all the local connections.

And from Butterworks Farm, we have yogurt again - hooray! For over 25 years Butterworks Farm have been making their yogurt on their farm in Westfield, VT. They have been organic since they began, and are totally self sufficient, growing all the food their cows eat including corn, oats, barley, soybeans, and alfalfa. All of their cows were born on the farm. The yogurts are made with pasteurized, organic skim (for non fat) or whole milk and live acidophilus and other live yogurt cultures. The maple yogurt is sweetened with pure VT maple syrup. The non fat vanilla is flavored with pure vanilla extract and sweetened with maple syrup.


Napa Cabbage Picnic Salad Recipe
From www.elise.com "This is a truly great salad for large summer gatherings. Much of it can be made ahead, and then assembled when you are ready to serve." If you still have pac choi in the fridge, use the crunchy white parts of the stems sliced thinly as a substitute for the snow peas and then use the greens in the spinach casserole recipe below! Serves 7-8.
1/3 cup slivered almonds
4 cups (.5 lb) coarsely shredded napa cabbage
6 ounces snow peas, strings removed, rinsed and thinly sliced
2/3 cups thinly sliced salad turnips
2/3 cups thinly sliced scallions (including greens)
2/3 cups lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
1.5 Tbsp rice vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 clove peeled and minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/2 cup mayonnaise

1. Spread almond slivers out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in a 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes, until nicely browned. OR toast in stick-free or cast-iron skillet on medium high, stirring frequently until browned. Careful not to burn. Set aside.
2. Combine cabbage, snow peas, radishes, scallions, cilantro in a large bowl. Can make this step a day or two ahead.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, ginger, and cayenne until sugar has dissolved. Whisk in the mayonnaise.
4. When ready to serve, gently combine the dressing and almonds with the cabbage mixture.

Spinach-Rice Casserole
Straight from the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen, 1977. I love this recipe. It's basic but oh so good. When greens are abundant as they are now, I make it a lot. It packs in the greens and brown rice. You can modify the recipe by skipping the cheese & eggs and making it vegan. It's hearty and healthy and the brown rice gives it a great chewy texture. Serves 4 - 6.

4 cups cooked brown rice (2 cups dry makes approx 6 cups cooked rice)
2 lbs. raw, chopped spinach (amount doesn't have to be exact)
(or a combo of spinach bok choy, mustard greens, turnip greens, swiss chard, kale)
2 cloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons butter (or 2 tablespoons olive oil)

4 beaten eggs (or egg substitute)
1 cup milk (skim or whole OK)
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar (less than this works great too)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons tamari (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
a few dashes each - nutmeg, cayenne (I like a little more than a dash of cayenne)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

Saute' onions and garlic with the salt in butter (or oil). When onions are soft, add spinach or greens. Cook 2 minutes.

Combine the onion/greens mixture with the brown rice, eggs, milk, cheese, parsley, tamari, nutmeg, cayenne, sunflower seeds, paprika. Spread into buttered casserole and sprinkle on top.
Bake, covered, 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes. I like it best when it is a little browned on top.

Sweet Beet Dressed Slaw
Adapted from a Rachel Ray recipe 4 servings

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
2 small to medium-sized red beets, peeled and grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 heaping tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 heaping tablespoons Honey
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 bunch salad turnips, julienned
1 head Napa cabbage, shredded or
3 bias cut scallions
2 rounded spoonfuls dill pickle relish

Preheat a medium size skillet over medium-high heat with about 3 TB of extra-virgin olive oil. Once you see the oil ripple in the pan add the grated beets, season with some salt and pepper and saute for 2-3 minutes. Then add the cabbage to the same pan and saute another 2-3 minutes until the beets are tender. Transfer the beets & cabbage to a bowl and let them cool down a bit. Add the mustard, vinegar and honey to the beets. Whisk in the remaining extra-virgin olive oil in a slow and steady stream. Add the fresh dill, salad turnips, sliced scallions and relish and toss to combine, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve now or the next day.

Simple Beet Salad with Onions
I love these oh so simple James Beard recipes that just beg for creativity. I'd probably be inclined to cook the beets a bit as in the above recipe.

Grate scrubbed beets or cut into julienne: toss with chopped scallions and a vinaigrette you make or from a bottle in your fridge. Add toasted nuts and/or a sharp cheese (blue, parmesan, feta). Serve alone or on a bed of mesclun or lettuce.

Mesclun Salad Dressings
Below are two classic simple dressing recipes for mesclun greens that you can whip up quickly. These dressings are versatile enough to go with most anything you can dream up to add to your salad (goat cheese, blue cheese, feta cheese, toasted nuts, sliced apples, pears, roasted beets, celeriac, grated carrots, the list goes on and on and on).

From Gourmet July 2007
3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon sugar
6 tablespoons olive oil

Whisk together lemon juice, mustard, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl until salt and sugar are dissolved, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.

Shallot Vinaigrette
From Gourmet March 2001

1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil (preferably French) or safflower oil

Whisk together shallot, mustard, and vinegar. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified, and season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, toss salad greens with just enough dressing to coat.

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