Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Good Eats Newsletter - December 30, 2009

This Week's Vegetable Share Contains:
Mesclun mix of Claytonia and Spinach; 2 lbs Colorful Carrots; 2 lbs Purple Top Turnips; 2 lbs Yellow Onions; 1 lb Cipolini Onions; 2 Heads of Garlic; 1 stalk of Green Kale; 2 lbs of Green and Purple Kohlrabi

Localvore Offerings Include:
Elmore Mountain Honey Wheat Bread
Les Aliments Massawippi Tamari
Vermont Soy Artisan Tofu

Pete's Musings
Meg and I made our first journey to Mexico in the 2 weeks before Christmas. We enjoyed some beach time on the Pacific, caught a few monster fish and rode a few waves. We were joined there by our friends Isaac and Melissa, Craftsbury residents who are in the Peace Corps in Panama. After a week on the beach we rode the bus inland to Ixtapa. This is four hours southwest of Mexico City and home base for the Reyes Vargas clan, the amigos who work on our farm every summer. Actually they don't live in Ixtapa but in Huitacotla, a tiny town perched above Ixtapa. The Reyes Vargas have 9 children and we have gotten to know 7 of them over the past 4 years. They are a classy group - hardworking, polite, extremely trustworthy and a pleasure to live and work with. I'd long been curious about the parents who had produced such a great clan and it was a real pleasure to get to know Mami and Papi.

Mami is cheerful, pretty, and seems to handle the challenges of running an extended household of 23 members with ease. She makes tortillas every day, cooking corn grown on their land, wet grinding it into masa, forming the pancake shapes with a press and cooking them on a wood fire. Tortilla consumptions seemed to be 7-8 per person per day so that is alot of work. Papi is little, weighing not more than 120 lbs. He is sprightly and has a deeply lined face caused by years in the sun. He's quiet and clearly the favorite of all the grandchildren. Apparently Mexican men do not typically show alot of affection towards children and he nearly always had one or two in his lap.

They treated us like royalty. Apparently no one in town could remember the last time there had been a gringo in town and Mami and Papi are deeply grateful for how well their children have been treated at Pete's Greens. Delicious food was forced on us nearly hourly which caused all sorts of interesting intestinal issues. It was really great to see them all. Next week I'll write about the family's farm and agriculture. ~ Pete

Spring Share Sign-up
Though we are still reaping the tail end of the harvest from the fields, plans for the Spring growing season are well underway. Meg is gearing up to begin growing the sprouts and shoots that will provide the green portion of our diets in Feb and March.

By April the greenhouses will begin to offer up some tender baby greens again, along with baby beets, turnips, Napa cabbage, scallions etc.

Throughout the winter and early Spring months we'll be going to our freezer regularly for frozen greens, winter squash puree, peppers, frozen zucchini and tomatoes and the like, which along with the wide range of roots and storage crops will help keep our diets diverse.

By May and June we look forward to head lettuces, spinach, cucumbers and an ever lengthening veggie list. The localvore portion will round out the shares each week with breads, cheeses, grains, eggs, flours, yogurt, cooking oils, tofu products, miso, tamari and more.

The number of members we can accommodate will be smaller than the number in the Fall/Winter share so please get your sign-up in soon!

Sign-up for the Spring Localvore Share (Feb 17th - Jun 9th)

Sign-up for the Spring Meat Share (4 Deliveries: Mar 3, Apr 7, May 5, June 2)

Spring Share Site News
Montpelier - As mentioned in previous newsletters, Montpelier Mud will be moving in January. However, lucky for us, the owner of the Mud building is happy to continue hosting the share. This week and next, there will be no changes. But by January 13 the hours will likely change to accommodate owner Bill's schedule and will probably be 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Newport - A site in Newport was made possible this share period by the commitment of Pam Frohn, a Newport member. However, making the trip to Craftsbury each week to retrieve the Newport shares has proven to be more of a time commitment than Pam wants to continue with. She is happy to allow pick-ups to continue at her house if any other Newport members would like to step up to do the Craftsbury weekly run to pick up the shares. Please contact me if you are interested.

Please Consider a Donation to Farm Share
Each share period, donations from our members enable some number of limited income families to join NOFA's Farm Share program and gain access to fresh local produce through a Pete's Greens Good Eats share. Eligible Farm Share recipients pay only 50% of the cost of the share. The other 50% comes from donations - 25% from Pete's Greens member donations and 25% from NOFA. (NOFA's funds are raised from their annual September Share the Harvest Event in which participating restaurants pledge a portion of the day's sales to the program.) The number of Farm Share grants Pete's is able to offer each share period depends entirely on the number of donations we receive from our members. Please consider a donation to the Farm Share program when you sign up for your own share. Your donation will directly fund a portion of a share for someone, and lots of small donations really add to make the difference.

Bulk Orders
We will continue to offer bulk orders to our members every 3-4 weeks. The next bulk order will go out January 20 (not Jan 13th as mentioned in the last newsletter). We must receive your order form by mail by January 9th if you'd like to be part of this next bulk order. The January 20th bulk order is available on line on our bulk order page.

Pete's Pastured Chicken
We will continue to deliver chicken orders to Good Eats members through the Spring months. You can order chickens any week that is not a meat delivery week. Click here to go directly to the chicken page where you can download an order form.

Pastured Chickens and Turkeys
We still have some turkeys left. If you'd like a Gopher Broke pastured turkey for you table over the upcoming holidays, email me and I'll send along the current list of available. Both standard and heritage birds available.

Green Mountain Farm to School Calendars - at Sites this Week!
Green Mountain Farm-to-School (GMFTS) is a nonprofit organization in Newport, VT promoting the health of Vermont's children, farms and communities by providing programs that connect schools and farms through food and education. Several times a year Meg gives farm tours to school children who come and harvest food that they then take back to their schools to prepare and eat. Farm tours are also given to food service directors so they may connect first hand with local growers. The team at GMFTS thought that our CSA members would enjoy knowing more about this program and have sent along some calendars for you all to enjoy. There are enough calendars for a little more than half of our members, so get to sites early to get yours!

From Executive Director Katherine Sims:
Since 2005, GMFTS has grown from a single-school garden program to a nonprofit organization serving multiple schools in northern Vermont. In 2009, GMFTS planted gardens at 10 new schools, tripling our impact and reaching over 2,000 students across Northern Vermont. Beyond teaching students how to grow food in gardens, we are providing fresh local food for cafeterias, teaching in classrooms about healthy food choices, and building strong communities. With your support in 2010, GMFTS seeks to expand to 5 additional schools in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. We hope you enjoy the images, delicious recipes and information about local farms found in the calendar, which highlight our work from the 2008-2009 academic year. For more information about our work or to get involved, visit our website.



Localvore Lore

Andrew and Blair have baked their Vermont Honey Oat Bread for us this week. It is made with Milanaise Winter Wheat, Milanaise Whole Wheat, Quebec Oats, Vermont Honey from Butternut Mountain Farm, sea salt, spring water and yeast. The big news from Elmore Mountain Bread this week is that they have finally finished their new oven and further, they have launched their new website! I had asked Blair several weeks ago if she could send us some photos and a write up about their new oven but the new website and blog tell the story well. Nice to connect further with your food supply!

We also have Vermont Soy's Artisan Tofu today. Vermont Soy makes their tofu from non GMO and organic soybeans grown in Vermont. They have been working in conjunction with High Mowing Seeds on seed trials to better equip their farmers with varieties that can be grown more and more successfully here in our climate. The work that these companies, the farmers, and the UVM extension service is doing is so important for VT agriculture.

I told you all my Canadian border crossing tale recently... The other stop on this periodic trip is always a visit to Suzanne and Gilbert, owners of Les Aliments Massawippi, and makers of some very fine miso and miso-damari (aka tamari). Tamari literally means liquid pressed from soybeans, and for centuries it meant the thick brown liquid that pooled in casks of fermenting soybean miso. This tamari was a rare delicacy reserved for special occasions. The tamari in the share today was made by this slow natural process. It is an unpredictable process in terms of flavor and yield. When I call Gilbert to place a tamari order I can only tell him how much I wish I could buy. Then he presses the miso to see how much tamari it will yield for us!

Eventually producers learned to brew tamari-like liquid soy sauce that had similar characteristics as the original by-product of miso. Most high end tamari is brewed from whole soybeans, sea salt, water, and koji (Aspergillus hacho) rather than pressed from naturally fermented miso. The newer method is a fast way to turn out a fairly consistent product that is similar to but not nearly the quality of the real thing. Commercial soy sauces (even some labeled as shoyu or tamari) are another step down and are usually made from soybeans that have been defatted with hexane, a petroleum derivative. Other common shortcuts are artificial fermentation methods including genetically engineered enzymes. Most soy sauce is actually caramel colored water with lots of salt, hydrochloric acid treated soy isolate, and sugar added.

This tamari is pretty special and rare. It is a live food and has never been pasteurized. This is a Soy Oats Barley Tamari. Please transfer to a small glass jar and for best quality and store in your fridge. It will last a very long time.

Recipes


Vegetable Casserole with Tofu Topping
Although this recipe calls for cabbage, I would substitute shredded kohlrabi in a heart beat. It will be a bit denser perhaps but just as tasty. It also calls for 1 lb of kale and there won't be that much in the share today but you can substitute another green or just use what you have. Gourmet May 2004. Makes 6 to 8 side-dish servings.

For vegetables
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 lb cabbage, cored and cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices (4 cups)
1 lb kale, stems and center ribs removed and leaves coarsely chopped (12 cups)
1/2 lb carrots, cut into 1/4-inch-thick matchsticks
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons tamari
1/2 teaspoon salt

For topping
1 1/2 cups fine fresh or dried bread crumbs, preferably whole wheat
7 oz firm tofu
1 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons dried basil, crumbled
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon paprika
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt

Sauté vegetables:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat oil in a deep 12- to 14-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté onion, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to moderate and add cabbage, kale, carrots, water, soy sauce, and salt. (Skillet will be full, but volume will reduce as vegetables steam.) Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a 13- by 9-inch glass baking dish.

Make topping:
Pulse all topping ingredients together in a food processor until combined well. Alternatively, mash ingredients together in a large bowl with a potato masher. Sprinkle tofu mixture over vegetables in baking dish and bake, uncovered, until topping is golden brown and vegetables are heated through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Turnip-and-Kohlrabi Slaw with Ginger-Vinaigrette Dressing
Kohlrabi and turnip slaw is not an uncommon dish. The question becomes what flavor slaw? What to dress it with? The dressing below is from Food & Wine June 2009. You could throw shredded carrots in this slaw for added color, and then serve it on a bed of greens.

For the slaw:
Ingredients:
3 medium purple turnips (with our without greens
)
1 head kohlrabi

Using a knife or vegetable peeler, remove the tough outer skin of the kohlrabi and turnips. Quarter the vegetables, so that they can fit in the feed tube of a food processor. Using the shredding blade of a food processor, shred the turnips and kohlrabi.
If using a food processor is not an option, shredded the vegetables using either a knife or vegetable peeler.

In a large bowl, toss the shredded kohlrabi, turnips and Ginger Vinaigrette (recipe below). Chill for 10 minutes. Serve.

Ginger Vinaigrette

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

1/4 cup sunflower or other vegetable oil

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl, mix the rice vinegar with the sugar and grated ginger until the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the vegetable oil and season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

Stir-Fried Tofu with Vegetables
This recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is a keeper. With onions, garlic, tamari, tofu. carrots, kohlrabi and kale in the share this week, it's pretty much an ideal week for a great stir fry. Makes 4 servings.

=
1 1/2 to 2 pounds firm to extra-firm tofu, prepared by either method below or simply blotted dry

3 tablespoons sunflower oil

1-2 large onions, halved and sliced
2-3 cups of sliced vegetables
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger

1/4 cup Shaoxing wine, sherry, sake, white wine, or water

1/3 cup vegetable stock or water

2 tablespoons tamari

1/2 cup roughly chopped scallion

1. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch or slightly larger cubes. Put two tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet or wok, preferably nonstick, over high heat. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, a couple of minutes. Add the vegetables in order of their cook time and cook until they are crisp tender and a little charred at the edges. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside for a moment.

2. Add the remaining oil, then the garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring, for about 10 seconds. Add the tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, a couple of minutes. Add the wine and stock and cook, stirring, until about half of it evaporates; return the pepper-onion mix to the pan and cook, stirring, for a minute or so to reheat.

3. Add the soy sauce and scallion and cook, stirring, until the scallion becomes glossy, about 30 seconds, Serve immediately.

Preparing Tofu
Freezing: Not only the only way to store tofu for long periods, but even in the short term it creates a darker, firmer, chewier, and meatier brick. Freezing makes the water in tofu expand; when thawed, this water is released, resulting in tofu with a dry and spongy texture that's perfect for grilling, stir-fries, or braised dishes.
To freeze, drain the tofu and pay it dry; wrap it in plastic (or put in a container) and freeze for several hours, or until you need it, up to three months. For extra chew, cut the tofu into cubes, dry them well, and freeze them in a freezer bag. Allow enough time to defrost tofu before slicing and cooking.

Squeezing: Here you just press some of the liquid from a brick to give it a drier and firmer texture that makes it denser and easier to handle and cook. Cut the tofu in half through its equator and put the halves on four sheets of paper towels, then cover with another four sheets. Cover with a can of food, a heavy cutting board, or a similar weight so the tofu bulges at the sides slightly but doesn't crack. Wait 20 to 30 minutes, or as time allows (even the few minutes it takes you to prepare other ingredients will help); change the towels if they become saturated. Of course, the longer you squeeze the tofu, the more liquid it will release and the drier it will become. (Drier tofu absorbs more flavors, which is especially important for marinating.)

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