Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Good Eats Newsletter - Jun 23, 2010

This Week's Vegetable Share Contains:
2 lbs Nicola Potatoes; 1 Bunch Red Beets w/ Greens; 1 Bunch of Swiss Chard; 1 Bunch of Sorrel -or- Upland Cress; 1 Bunch of Red Bore Kale; 1 Bunch Green or Purple Kohlrabi; 1 Bunch Scallions; 1 Bunch Garlic Scapes; 1 Bunch Dillweed; plus...

1 Bag of Mesclun Greens
1 Quart of Strawberries

Localvore Offerings Include:
Red Hen Baking Company Cyrus Pringle Bread
1 Qt VT Organic Sunflower Oil
Mushrooms from Amir Hebib or Wildbranch Mushrooms

Hen of the Wood, Laughing Moon, Concept 2 and Johnson will get either beans or zucchini this week, to make up for last week.

Please bring your empty plastic veggie bags, berry boxes, egg cartons, and plastic containers and leave them at your pick up site on Wednesdays. We will re-use these items!

Pete's Musings

Farm is clicking along. A friend within 60 miles of here thinks he has late blight in his potatoes. Hopefully he is wrong. I have not heard of it being closer than CT, this will be big news if it is already in Vermont. The good news is our potatoes are a foot tall and starting to flower so we should be able to hold off the blight long enough to get a good crop. Garlic has scaped, you'll enjoy them this week. Sorry we don't have our own strawberries. Three nights in May that were 21, 19, and 21 degrees pretty much wiped out our blossoms. We expect to have a nice late summer berry crop.

We continue to tackle weeds every chance we get. Today we are going through the greenhouses and hand weeding the few that have slipped through the straw mulch. Then we'll be out hoeing celeriac and fennel. Later, corn, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and leeks will be hilled to smother baby weeds in the row.

There have been some questions about how we control weeds. It is a complicated question to answer as there are many elements. As a general rule we try to kill as many weeds as possible before we plant the crop. You can do this with a bare fallow (turning the soil every 10 days to allow new weeds to sprout but not go to seed). We might do this with a weedy section of field for a few weeks or as much as half a growing season. It is a useful technique but hard on soil structure as all the turning causes organic matter to be lost from the soil. Another technique is stale seedbed. This method requires making beds and scratching the top of the beds shallowly with a tine weeder every 3 days. It kills all the newly sprouted weeds but does not turn up weed seeds that are buried more deeply than a couple inches. This is a great technique and one we use alot. Another method is flame weeding. A slow germinating crop such as carrots is sown and then about a week later just before the carrots are up baby weeds are killed with a powerful propane flame. This works well but timing is critical and it is a little dangerous. I have burned off my arm, leg and eyebrow hair with our flame weeder. Actually my eyebrows are a little thick so I looked pretty good with a sleeker version.

And then there are all the tools we use once the crop is up. Basket weeders, knives mounted to tractor toolbars, hoes, hilling discs, it is endless. Any angle we can get on weeds that reduces hand weeding or handhoeing saves the farm money and allows expensive hand labor to focus on picking and packing food. ~ Pete

Storage and Use Tips

Red Bore Kale - Last week you had some green kale in your bags. This week it's pretty Red Bore kale. I mentioned this last week, but it's worth saying again... Kale is packed with health-promoting compounds, and it has been found to have the greatest antioxidant capacity of all fruits and vegetables. It’s an excellent source of vitamins K, A and C, as well as manganese, and a very good source of dietary fiber, calcium, iron and potassium. You can't do much better for yourself than to take in regular servings of this veggie.

Kohlrabi - The name means cabbage turnip in German and that is a pretty accurate description. It is a member of the cabbage family and its outer skin would attest to that. The greens look more like turnip greens however and the inner bulb can be a bit fibrous, like turnip. Raw, it is crisp, sweet, and clean, strikingly reminiscent of raw broccoli stalks. Cooked, it touts a mild, nutty, cabbage-like flavor that adapts beautifully to many cooking styles. It can be eaten raw and is great in salads and slaws. I can also be boiled, steamed, baked, roasted, etc. The greens may be eaten cooked like turnip greens or any other cooked greens. To prepare the bulb, cut off the leaves and stems. Use a vegetable peeler to pare off the tough outer layer. Or use a chefs knife to slice it off. Dice or shave up the inner bulb according to your recipe. Store loosely wrapped in plastic in the fridge.

Sorrel - Sorrel is a green leaf vegetable native to Europe. It is also called common sorrel or spinach dock. In appearance sorrel greatly resembles spinach and in taste sorrel can range from comparable to the kiwifruit (or lemons or a combo) to a more acidic tasting older leaf (due to the presence of oxalic acid which increases as the leaves gets older). Young sorrel may be harvested to use in salads, soups or stews. Young sorrel leaves are also excellent when lightly cooked, similar to the taste of cooked chard or spinach. Older sorrel is best for soups and stews where it adds tang and flavor to the dish.

Upland Cress - This is a great flavorful green. There are many types of cress, but all of them may be eaten cooked or raw, and they all have variations of their mild peppery flavor. I absolutely love cress and when available I eat it as often as I can, putting it in salads and sandwiches or just on the side of my plate with a little oil and vinegar. Watercress is a very powerful antioxidant. A two year study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2007 determined that eating watercress daily can significantly reduce DNA damage to blood cells, which is considered to be an important trigger in the development of cancer. It is brimming with more than 15 essential vitamins and minerals. Gram for gram, it contains more iron than spinach, more vitamin C than oranges and more calcium than milk.

Garlic Scapes - The tall, curly seed stalks that a garlic plant sends up at this time of year are a short season delicacy. Garlic scapes are pulled from the garlic plants so that the plant will put energy into fattening the garlic cloves in the ground, not making seed. Garlic scapes have a nice garlic flavor, without the bite of garlic cloves. These scapes are young and tender and they may be eaten raw or cooked. You can chop and add to stir fry recipes, pasta dishes, guacamole, salsas, vegetable dishes. They are also good in salads and on bruschetta & pizza and so many more ways.

Dillweed - The freshly harvested dill in the share today can be used right away or preserved for later use. This is the part of the plant called dill weed, the feathery spring growth. Later on in the season the seed heads of the dill plant will mature. There are numerous methods for preserving dill. The easiest is to simply hang the dill for several days in a warm dry place (attic perhaps). You can dry it in your oven if your oven can operate at a low temp of 100°F. You can also freeze the leaves in a plastic bag. Dill perks up soups, salads, casseroles. It pairs really well with cucumbers, potatoes, eggs, beets, fish, salads and sald dressings, tomatoes, yogurt.

Nicola Potatoes - These slightly waxy potatoes have a smooth yellow exterior and white and are creamy within. Nicolas are excellent for boiling, roasting and using in salads. Store in a cool dry place away from onions. It's the very end of the storage time for our potatoes and these are beginning to get soft. We have only valued them at half their value but thought you'd all still like to have them!

Summer Meat Share - First delivery is July 7th
We are continuing to accept members for the meat share. Once a month, the meat share delivers a selection of sustainably farmed, grass fed meats from Pete's and from other nearby farms that we know and love. All animals grown for the share are grown without use of hormones or chemical dewormers etc. All are raised on pasture (except the trout!) and many raised organically. This is meat grown in a way that is actually good for our environment, providing the needed fertility to compliment other crops grown on these farms. Grass fed meats contain a much higher vitamin concentration and much lower fat content than other meats.

Sign-up for the Summer Meat Share (4 Deliveries: Jul 7, Aug 4, Sep 1, Oct 6)

Pete's Pastured Chicken

On most weeks during the share (all except meat weeks) you can order Pete's Pastured Chicken. Our chickens are raised on pasture. Lots of pasture. Even as chicks in the barn, our little birds get to feast on sprouts and baby greens left from each days vegetable processing. As soon as they are large enough our birds move out onto pasture with moveable shelters and there they remain for the rest of their days, moved regularly to new fields of green. They can't help but ingest loads of healthy, vitamin packed organic forage throughout their lives and this goodness is assimilated in their meat.

We have just changed our chicken order form slightly so that you can now choose different sized birds, from a 4.5 lb to a 7 pounder (we have some big birds out there in the freezer!). The large birds are nice because you can roast one up, have a great meal, save the best meat for sandwiches, and STILL have leftovers for a casserole or soup or stew. Best of all, our chicken is only $3.50/lb if you oprder 5 or more. Minimum order is 3 birds, and if orders are for less than 5 birds the price is $3.75/lb.

Click here to visit our chicken page and download an order form.

Open House at Caledonia Spirits each Thursday
Our friend Todd Hardie from Honey Gardens Apiaries, beekeeper, plant medicine creator, mead maker has a new venture in Hardwick. Over the last year, Todd and business partner Dana Matthews have built and opened Caledonia Spirits/Honey Gardens Winery. You can stop by the winery any Thursday to tour the new facility and to sample the honey wines (also known as mead). They are making five types of honey wine: Traditional, Black Current, Blueberry, Melody Sweet, and Melissa Sparkling. I am a big fan of the Black Currant Mead! You can also buy Elderberry plants, and products from Honey Gardens Apiaries.

Circus Smirkus This Weekend!
Vermont’s acclaimed, non-profit international traveling youth circus kicks off its 23rd annual season at home in Greensboro! The theme of this year’s tour is “Wilderness Wonders: Outdoor Adventures Under the Big Top,” featuring alpine aerialists, juggling lumberjacks, trailblazing tumblers and more. It’s a fantastically fabulous four-season spectacle, a Smirkus-style exploration of the marvels of nature with merrymaking, mirth and a touch of magic. Circus Smirkus was hailed by The New York Times as “exuberant” and “Joyful,” by The Boston Globe as “a cultural treasure,” and by Family Fun magazine as “one of America’s best circuses!”

JUNE 26: Greensboro, VT
2 shows; 2 & 7 p.m. - Friday $18/Adult ; $14/Child ; Free for under 2

JUNE 28-30: Essex, VT (Champlain Valley Expo)
2 shows each day; noon & 6:30 p.m. - $18.75/Adult; 15.75/Child

Localvore Lore

To begin Red Hen Baking Company's participation in this new share period, Randy couldn't have chosen better than to bake us fresh loaves of Cyrus Pringle bread. This bread has been a long time in the making. Back in the 1850s, 40,000 acres of cropland from the Champlain Valley to Orleans County were sown with wheat. Less than 2 dozen farms grow wheat today. A few years ago, Tom Kenyon of Aurora Farms in Charlotte began trying to grow a variety of wheat originally bred in VT by Cyrus Pringle, a botanist who was considered the father of wheat breeding. After failed crops two years in a row, last Fall he had success and brought in a great crop of Vermont organic white flour. With slightly lower protein, Randy wasn't sure the flour would make it as bread flour, but he was soon proved wrong and he's been baking Cyrus Pringle bread ever since. In addition to the Aurora Farms white flour, the bread contains Ben Gleason's whole wheat flour, water, salt, and yeast. To read more about the partnership between Red Hen and Aurora Farms and the history of the bread, check out this article in Local Banquet magazine.

Most of the oyster and Shiitake mushrooms in the share today were grown by Amir Hebib. Amir grows his mushrooms in a mushroom house behind his home in Colchester. He has 20 years experience growing mushrooms, having been a farm mushroom manager for a large Bosnian agricultural producer before immigrating to VT. He grows shiitakes (the more traditional shaped mushroom of the two) and oysters (the clusters of more trumpet shaped ones) and sells them to restaurants and markets in our area as well as at the Burlington Farmers Market. The oyster mushrooms are more delicate in flavor and texture than the shiitakes. You can eat the whole mushroom stems and all. The shiitakes have a deeper flavor, and are more hearty, enough so that they can be used in place of ground beef in some recipes. Many people discard the stems of shiitakes because they are tougher and take longer to cook. But these are generally tender enough to add to most dishes thought you may want to allow longer cooking time for the stems. Due to the volume of mushrooms required for the share, Amir could only supply enough for MOST of the sites. But fortunately, Chris Coville of Wildbranch Mushrooms was able to provide some of her beautiful organic oysters to fill in the gap.

The organic sunflower oil comes from John Williamson's State Line Farm in Shaftsbury, VT. This is a good all purpose mild flavored oil that you can use wherever a recipe calls for vegetable oil. We will send it in a plastic quart container, but we recommend transferring it to a glass container. If you will not use the oil quickly in your household, it's best to store it in the fridge. This is an unrefined product and it can spoil. In the fridge it will last indefinitely. It may get a little cloudy in your fridge but this is normal and the cloudiness will dissipate as it warms up. John and partner Steve Plummer did not start out with the intention to make sunflower oil for consumption but instead built Vermont's first on farm biodiesel facility pressing oilseeds grown on site to be used as bio fuel. But they are able to press the same seeds to create a very high quality oil for consumption, and we all are lucky beneficiaries.


Stir Fried Kohlrabi and Mushrooms

1 TB sunflower oil
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
6 oz shiitake or oyster mushrooms
1 lb kohlrabi
1 TB water
2 tsp tamari (or soy sauce)
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp cider or rice vinegar
1/4 tsp white pepper (or black)
1 tsp dried ginger

Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add onion and garlic (and fresh ginger, if using) and cook stirring frequently for about 1 minute. Add mushrooms, continue cooking another minute or two. Add kohlrabi and cook for three minutes, stirring frequently. Add the water, soy, sesame oil, vinegar, pepper and dried ginger. Cover, reduce heat slightly and cook at a high simmer for about 5 minutes, until kohlrabi is crisp tender.

Potatoes with Oyster Mushrooms
This recipe was adapted from a four star recipe in the June 2006 issue of Bon Appetit. If you have shiitake mushrooms, they'll be just fine in this recipe too.

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pounds small potatoes, unpeeled, halved lengthwise
3 TB garlic scapes, chopped well
1/4 onion, minced
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/2 pound large fresh oyster mushrooms, torn into 1-inch-wide strips

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

Position 1 rack in top third of oven and preheat to 450°F. Brush a large rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place potatoes on 1 prepared sheet; drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over and toss to coat. Spread potatoes in single layer; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place potatoes on top rack of oven and roast 10 minutes. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons garlic scapes, minced onion and garlic over the potatoes.

Drizzle remaining 2 TB oil over the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper and add to potato roasting pan. Continue to roast potatoes and mushrooms on top rack of oven until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes or a bit longer as needed.

Add parsley to potato-mushroom mixture and toss; season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Swiss Chard Gratin
This is not a low fat recipe, nor is it a quick one. But it was extremely well reviewed and uses a large quantity of greens which you have in your share this week. So if you are seeking to pack in the greens this week while also treating yourself to some decadence, this recipe is for you. Adapted from an October 2000 recipe in Gourmet. Serves 6.

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup fresh white bread crumbs
3 oz Gruyère cheese, grated (1 cup) (parm would work too)
1 garlic clove, halved lengthwise, germ removed if green, and garlic finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped mixed fresh herbs (preferably chives, tarragon, and flat-leaf parsley)
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 lb Swiss chard, Beet Greens, Kohlrabi Greens, Sorrel (and if you are more adventurous - kale or Upland Cress) leaves and stems separated and cut into 1-inch pieces
(if using kale though, don't use stems, just leaves - stems too tough)

Melt 2 tablespoons butter and toss with bread crumbs, cheese, garlic, herbs, half of nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.

Boil broth in a small saucepan until reduced by half. Add cream and keep warm.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small heavy saucepan over moderate heat and stir in flour. Cook roux, whisking, 1 minute, then whisk in broth mixture and boil, whisking, 1 minute. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cook onion in remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a wide 8-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add chard stems, remaining nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender but not browned, about 8 minutes.

Increase heat to moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add greens stems, remaining nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender but not browned, about 8 minutes.

Increase heat to moderately high and add greens leaves by large handfuls, stirring, until all greens are wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer vegetables to a colander to drain well and press out liquid with back of a large spoon (be sure to press out as much liquid as possible!). Toss vegetables with cream sauce and transfer to a buttered 12-inch oval gratin or 2-quart shallow baking dish, spreading evenly.

Top vegetables with bread crumbs and bake in middle of oven until bubbling and topping is golden, about 20 minutes.

Sorrel Soup
This is a very simple light soup that highlights the fresh, slightly lemony flavor of the sorrel. It's from the Sundays at Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. Light, lemony and delicious.

2 c. well-packed, washed and stemmed sorrel leaves
1 medium onion, chopped
3 T. butter
1 T. unbleached white flour
3 c. vegetable stock
2 egg yolks
1 c. milk or half and half
salt and freshly ground black pepper
dash of Tabasco or other hot sauce (optional)

Finely chop the sorrel leaves. In a medium saucepan, sauté the onion in the butter until translucent. Stir in the flour. Mix in the sorrel and cook for a minute or so, just until it wilts. Add the vegetable stock. Bring the soup to a low simmer and cook for about 3 minutes. Beat the egg yolks and milk in a medium mixing bowl. Slowly add 2 c. of the hot soup while stirring constantly. Stir this soup-egg mixture into the soup pot. Reheat the soup gently but don’t let it boil. Add salt, pepper to taste and a dash of Tabasco, if you like.

Kale and Mushrooms with Creamy Polenta
I love mushrooms and polenta so couldn't help but pull this one in this week. Feb 2006 Bon Appétit. Serves 6.

1 1/4 pounds kale, stemmed, cut into 1-inch pieces

4 cups whole milk
3 1/2 cups water
2 cups polenta (coarse cornmeal)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 ounces pancetta (Italian bacon) or bacon, coarsely chopped
4 ounces oyster mushrooms, sliced
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook kale in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 6 minutes. Drain.
Bring milk, water, polenta, salt, and pepper to boil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thick, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, cook pancetta in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels. Add mushrooms and 2 tablespoons oil to drippings in skillet. Sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in kale and pancetta. Add garlic and broth; simmer until broth is slightly reduced, about 6 minutes. Stir in thyme, lemon peel, and 2 tablespoons oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Whisk butter and Parmesan into polenta and divide among plates. Top with kale mixture.

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