Good Eats Newsletter - October 28, 2009

This Week's Vegetable Share Contains
Head Lettuce; Napa Cabbage; Upland Cress; Large Leeks; 3 lbs of Mixed Potatoes; 2 lbs Yellow Storage Onions; 2 Sugar Dumplings Squash; 1 Fennel Bulb; 1 bunch Thyme -or- Rosemary -or- Oregano; plus 1 Green Pepper

The peppers in the share are an extra. They got slightly frosted and there may be some translucent spots on them. But they were too good otherwise and we decided you'd all probably enjoy them anyway.

Localvore Offerings Include
Pete's Greens Sauerkraut
Aurora Farms Vt Grown Organic White Flour!
Stateline Farm Sunflower Oil

Upland Cress - There are many types of cress, the type in the share today is upland cress. Eaten cooked or raw, cress has a very mild peppery flavor. It may be eaten raw as in a simple salad with oil and vinegar, or wilted in soups or other dishes. I love it on sandwiches and in salad. 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.

Fennel - Fennel is crunchy and slightly sweet with the flavor of anise. It is delicious and slightly sweet served raw but is just as often served cooked on its own or in other dishes. Though most often associated with Italian cooking, it has an uncanny ability to blend with other flavors adding a light and fresh note. It is delightful in many dishes, and in soups and stews and sauces and is particularly great with tomato sauce dishes. Fennel is composed of a white or pale green bulb from which closely superimposed stalks are arranged. The stalks are topped with feathery green leaves near which flowers grow and produce fennel seeds. The bulb, stalk, leaves and seeds are all edible. To prepare, trim off the fronds and stalks and reserve them for garnish or seasoning. Cut off the hard bottom and slice vertically or into quarters. Or cut the bulb in half lengthwise, cut out the core, and cut into strips. Add it raw to salads or try some thinly sliced fennel on your sandwich. Top thinly sliced fennel with plain yogurt and mint leaves. Or braise, roast or saute it. It is done when tender enough to pierce easily with a skewer.

Leeks - Leeks are easy to use, and their delicate, irreplaceable flavor makes a meal special. The subtle, buttery taste of leeks imparts elegance to many dishes, including old standbys that call for onions. Though generally only the white part and an inch or so of the green is used in dished, the rest of the green leaves add great flavor when tossed into a pot with other vegtables for vegetable broth. Loosely wrap unwashed leeks in a plastic bag and store them in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. They will keep for at least a week

Bulk Orders Delivered One Week Before Thanksgiving
Later this week we will begin to take bulk orders for potatoes, onions, turnips, beets, cabbage and many other root crops and storage vegetables and some of our localvore products like flour, oats, cooking oil, miso, tamari, oats and other grains. We have also partnered with a neighboring farm who has some pastured turkey available. The bulk order form will be available on our website on the bulk order page later this week. Placing an order will work the same way as it does for chicken orders. Your printed order form and payment must arrive by mail no later than Nov 11th, one week before the November 18th delivery date. A second bulk order delivery day will be scheduled for December 16th. Stay tuned for more news on this. An email will be sent as soon as the bulk order form is available on line.

Some of you were entitled to receive a free Pete's Greens T-shirt for signing up early and paying for your share in full. We had intended to get these right out to you with the first share but we have been so busy! The Ts will go out to sites with next week's share - I promise!

Pete's Musings and 8000 lbs of Squash
Squash, squash, buried in squash. We are blessed by being close neighbors and good friends with High Mowing Seeds. Founder Tom Stearns and I started our businesses at about the same time and have enjoyed many joys and tribulations together over the years. Much of our seed comes from High Mowing seed and it will be exciting to watch this business over the next few years. This year High Mowing grew Honey Nut butternut and Musque de Provence pumpkins as seed crops. Honey Nut is a new variety, a miniature butternut with orange flesh and great flavor. Musque de Provence is an old French heirloom with a Cinderella pumpkin flattened shape, deep ribs, and a tan color. It happens to have exceptional flesh and makes by far the best pumpkin puree we have ever tasted.

Squash on pallets in the barn. Phillipe dumps squash into the barrel washer.

Here's how the process of making squash puree from a seed crop works:
  • Squash is gathered in High Mowing's fields into boxes and put onto pallets
  • We load our flatbed truck with palletized squash
  • Back at Pete's Greens we unload the pallets of squash for storage in our barn
  • We barrel wash the squash to clean them and cut off all the stems with a machete like whack with a large knife. This step is alot of work as the Honey Nuts are not very big so there are alot of them.
  • Katie from High Mowing arrives with the seed extractor. This gizmo chops the squash and tumbles it down a barrel. The seeds fall through the sides of the barrel and the squash flesh goes out the end. Nick and Steve catch the flesh in clean crates and palletize.
  • Squash chunks are cooked in the tilt skillet and steam kettle until soft. This takes about an hour and a half. Once soft they are run through a food mill that purees the squash, and removes the skin and fibrous pieces.
  • Puree is ladled into bags and the bags are chilled in a water bath
  • Bags of puree are put in the freezer.
It's alot of work and by the end of this week we will have put away close to 2,500 quarts. Thanks to Nick who has been working overtime to make this happen and to High Mowing for the great squash. We will all enjoy eating it this winter. ~Pete

Pete and Deb hack the tops and bottoms off Honey Nut squash. Nick in the kitchen with a kettle of squash.

Localvore Lore

The sauerkraut in the share today was made on the farm by Nick Augsberger. He has made several kinds, the flavors of which are very similar but the ingredients differ somewhat. Nick usually starts with grated cabbage, onions, beets and then gets creative after that. Some of you will get the batch made with onions, napa cabbage, fennel, carrots, beets, dill seed and salt. Others will get onions, red cabbage, parsnips, beets, garlic scapes, dill seed and salt. The vegetables get layered and packed down into a barrel with salt. An airlock is created for the barrel and the lacto-fermentation process begins. Our sauerkraut has fermented for about 6 weeks. Sauerkraut should be kept in your refrigerator and should be good for several weeks or more.

A bit about the lacto fermentation and its benefits...
Lact0bacilli are present on the surface of all living things particularly the leaves and roots of plants growing near the ground. Left to ferment, lactobacilli convert the starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits into lactic acid which preserves the vegetables. The benefits of lactobacilli go far beyond just preservation. The proliferation of the lactobacilli on fermented foods enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. The lactobacilli produce numerous beneficial enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances and lactic acid also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine. This is an excellent food and it is highly recommended that we each eat a small amount of fermented vegetables each day.

We have Vt Grown Organic White flour today, thanks to a partnership between Red Hen Bakery and Aurora Farms. Randy George took some time to fill us all in on the flour's history and characteristics.

The flour in this week’s share is the product of a unique, fortuitous, and unprecedented combination of hard work, patience, luck, and cooperation. In the fall of 2006 (right in the midst of planting season for winter wheat), I approached Tom Kenyon of Aurora Farms in Charlotte about growing some bread wheat for us. He enthusiastically agreed and planted 25 acres that fall. Unfortunately, Tom had to suffer through two unsuccessful harvests in 2007 and 2008 before harvesting a crop that was worth milling into flour. When the wheat from this season’s 30 acres were harvested, the initial test results looked good enough to try milling it into flour and making bread with it. A sample of white flour was milled by Champlain Valley Mills (in Westport, NY). Being accustomed to baking with the finest organic wheat Kansas has to offer, I was hopeful that we could use a percentage of this Vermont wheat in some of our breads. Imagine my surprise when I combined this flour with water, yeast, and salt in the mixing bowl and found that it made a familiar-feeling dough! The resulting bread, although not perfect, was surprisingly good. Tom and I made an agreement with Champlain Valley Mills to mill Tom’s entire crop. Hillcrest Foods has been enlisted to warehouse and transport the flour to us. I insisted that Tom get the price he needed to get for the wheat and as a result we are blessed with a minor miracle: a white bread flour produced from locally-grown wheat.

Although we have laid claim to most of this flour for use in our new Cyrus Pringle bread (which we are now baking and delivering daily) and upcoming CSA breads, a small amount of it is being offered to Pete’s CSA shareholders. In the eyes of localvore bakers, this is gold. You can’t find this flour in any stores. But the good news is that a committed group of farmers is working hard to making wheat of this quality a regular reality in VT, so you may be able to find it more readily in years to com. But for now, savor what you have and make some of your own bread with it.

A note about baking with the flour: By normal standards for bread flour, this flour has low protein. It nearly falls into the category of all-purpose flour for this reason. But we have found that, with gentle handling, it can make excellent hearth breads. You may find that it is good for other breads and you should also find that it is good for a variety of other purposes such as muffins, biscuits, pancakes, etc. Enjoy… and happy baking!
--Randy George

The organic sunflower oil in the share today 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. It will come to you 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 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 disipate as it warms up. John Williamson and Steve Plummer have built Vermont's first on farm biodiesel facility using oilseeds grown on site. John and Steve are testing different oilseed crops, learning how best to grow and harvest and make biodiesel.

Blue-Ribbon Black-Powder Buttermilk Biscuits
This recipe comes from the book A Measure of Grace, which is partly a cookbook and partly a story about a restaurant called Hell's Backbone Grill and the community it has become an integral part of in Boulder, Utah. I make these biscuits nearly every week and they get gobbled up immediately. The dough stacking technique shared in the recipe is key to making these layered flaky biscuits. Yet the method is still quick and easy. With a food processor I can have these biscuits on a cookie sheet ready to go on the oven in 10 minutes. These are marvelous with this new flour.

3 Tbsp. cornmeal
2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. coarse black pepper
1 tsp. sugar
1 stick butter, cut into chunks
1 c. buttermilk (sub: 1 c. milk w/ 2 tsp. lemon juice)

Preheat oven to 450º, grease 9x11 cookie sheet, sprinkle 2 tbsp. cornmeal over surface.

Place flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, pepper, and sugar in a large bowl and whisk together. Cut in butter with pastry blender until it looks like coarse crumbs. Or if you have a food processor, pulse about 7 times for one second each time or until when you run your forl through the mixture it looks like coarse cornmeal. You don't want it smooth! You want a few butter lumps ideally no large than a pea.

Add buttermilk in a pool in the center of the flour. Turn the flour carefully into the buttermilk pool carefully to blend, swiping it from the sides and puching it into the middle. You don't need a smooth dough, you just need to get all the moisture incorporated into the flour. You want inconsistency.

When the dough holds together as a messy, lumpy, somewhat wet mass, dump it out onto a floured board and flatten it with floury hands into a rectangle shape, 1" thick. Then cut the rectangle in half, and stack one half on the other. Flatten it into another rectangle and repeat, two more times. This stacking will increase the layering and flaki-ness of the biscuits. After stacking the third time, transfer to the cookie sheet and sprinkle with remaining 1 Tb or cornmeal. Then roll dough to 1" thick and cut 2x2 squares. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
Braised Fennel and Potatoes
In this dish the potatoes are perked up with fennel. The fennel becomes very tender and lends loads of moisture to the dish. Makes 4 to 6 side-dish serving. Gourmet February 2006.

1 large fennel bulb with fronds
1 large onion, halved lengthwise, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (2 cups)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb red boiling potatoes
1/2 cup water

Quarter bulb lengthwise and core, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cook fennel, onion, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut potatoes crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Add potatoes and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to fennel mixture and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, 3 minutes. Add water and cook, covered, stirring once, until potatoes are tender, 10 to 12 minutes more.

Spicy No-Mayo Coleslaw
This one is from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian cookbook. Serves 8 as a side.

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, or to taste
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar, or freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh chile (jalapeño, Thai, serrano, or habenero), or to taste, optional
1/4 cup peanut or extra-virgin olive oil
6 cups cored and shredded Napa, Savoy, green and/or red cabbage
1 large red or yellow bell peppers, roasted and peeled if you like, seeded, and diced or shredded
1/3 cup diced scallion, more or less
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced parsley leaves Instructions: Time: 30 Minutes

1. Whisk the mustard, vinegar, garlic, and chile together in a small bowl. Add the oil a little at a time, whisking all the while.

2. Combine the cabbage peppers, and scallion and toss together with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve. (It's best to let this rest for an hour or so before serving to allow the flavors to mellow; the cabbage will also soften a bit and exude some juice. Or let it sit for up to 24 hours if you like. Drain slaw before continuing.) Just before serving, toss with the parsley.

Apple Slaw Variation-- A little sweeter: Use carrots instead of bell pepper. Use 1 medium onion, grated, in place of the scallion. Shred or grate 2 medium or 1 large tart, crisp apples and include them in the mix. Lemon juice or cider vinegar is the best choice for the acid here.

Tuna Salad
I do love a tuna salad or tuna salad sandwich and figured that most of you would have tuna on hand to try this recipe. Rave reviews all around. From the Cookbook Starting with Ingredients: Quintessential Recipes for the Way We Really Cook by Aliza Green. Authors Note "The salad is light because the tuna is dressed with olive oil and fresh lemon juice instead of the usual mayonnaise. The fresh herbs give it brightness, and the red bell peppers and purple olives make for a colorful and appetizing preparation. The important thing here is to use the tasty tuna packed in olive oil enjoyed throughout the Mediterranean region, rather than the drier, rather mealy white tuna packed in water."

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped tarragon (or 2 teaspoons dried)
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 (6-ounce) cans tuna in olive oil, drained
1 small head fennel, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 of a small red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

Salad Mix:
1 pound mixed greens (head lettuce and watercress and maybe a bit of Napa?)
Tuna Salad
1 red or orange bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives

Using a whisk or an immersion blender, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, tarragon, and parsley. Lightly chunk the tuna, then toss it with the fennel, celery, onion, and most of the dressing. Reserve.
If you're using mixed greens, trim, wash, dry, and slice them cross-wise into 1-inch-wide strips. Toss the mixed greens or spring mix with the remaining dressing. Arrange on serving plates. Top with the Tuna Salad, and garnish with the bell peppers and olives.

Watercress and Potato soup
This is a simplified version of the French classic. The fresh bite of watercress adds interest to velvety smooth potato. Submitted by Jill Dupleix to The Times Aug 2007. Serves 4.

1 quart water
1 tsp sea salt
1.5 lb all-purpose potatoes
1/4 lb watercress leaves, eg, 2 bunches
2/3 cup milk
2 tbsp double cream
A little grated nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring the water and salt to the boil. Peel the potatoes and cut into quarters. Cook the potatoes for 20 to 25 minutes until tender. Pick the watercress leaves from the stalks and discard the stalks. When the potatoes are cooked, fish them out of the water (reserving the water) and mash them or put them through a potato ricer. Set aside. Add the watercress to the potato water and simmer gently for five minutes. Fish out the watercress and whizz it, with a little of the liquid, in a blender or liquidiser. Return the watercress and the mashed potatoes to the potato water in the pan, stirring well. Add the milk and reheat gently, stirring. Add the cream, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste, and simmer gently, without boiling, for five minutes. Serve in bowls, with a little extra swirl of cream on top.


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