Whoo-wee - this is the big week of the year! Eight acres of potatoes nicely sprouted and being planted tomorrow. We seeded carrots, parsnips, beets and onions in a beautiful river bottom field a couple days ago. Kevin is prepping new vegetable land this afternoon for leeks, onions and brussel sprouts. Tomorrow we transplant kale, lettuce and lots of other stuff outside. Very grateful for a warm, dry week. And the greenhouses are finally kicking in with some greenery for our CSA members. It's been a cold, dark spring until recently and we've noticed it in delayed greenhouse production, but there will be more great stuff arriving every week now.
We have newly arrived baby chicks that are growing fast inside, feasting on shoot greens. And 30 baby pigs are out in the field, itching to be turned loose on the greening pasture. Our new farm across the valley is seeded down to red clover, it's very exciting to see the mini clovers peeking out of the soil and realize that they will be making beautiful flowers for bees and fixing lots of nitrogen in the soil for future crops.
And we're trying to keep making progress on the never ending spring cleaning! We are getting better and better organized and it feels great. But on a growing farm like ours it takes constant attention to developing and refining new systems so that we do things as efficiently as possible.
Best ~ Pete
Storage and Use Tips
Woohoo! The greens we have been waiting for are here!
Spinach - a true herald of spring! Large share members - the spinach will not be mixed with the mesclun but will be in the same bag. This is gorgeous spinach, some of the best looking spinach we've grown! It won't cook down to a whole lot so would be best enjoyed as salad greens or in a smoothie. Sooo tender and good.
Mizuna - Also know as spider mustard, mizuna is a Japanese mild mustard green with tender leaves and a pleasant, peppery flavor. You could substitute it, chopped, in a salad calling for arugula. It adds a nice zest to a stir-fry or saute too. It would also be wonderful tossed with a lime based dressing and eaten in a taco. Store mizuna, unwashed, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer.
Pac Choi - Also known as "bok choi," as well as several other names, pac choi is an excellent cooking green for soups and stir-fries. Refrigerate unwashed choi in a plastic container or in a loosely wrapped plastic bag. Pac Choi is best when used within several days.
Parsnips - Contrary to appearances, parsnips are not pale versions of carrots. In fact, they have a nutty-sweet taste and a tender-hearty texture that is entirely distinct. For centuries, parsnips were a more common staple than the potato—and deservedly so. Satisfying, versatile, and highly nutritious, these delicious roots make a terrific base to any meal. Young parsnips don’t need to be peeled. Simply scrub them under running water with a vegetable brush. Peel larger parsnips, and cut out the core if it seems woody. However you slice or chop parsnips, be sure to make all the pieces relatively the same size, ensuring an evenly cooked dish. Refrigerate unwashed parsnips in a loosely wrapped or perforated plastic bag for up to two weeks. These are large parsnips (as you can see in the photo at left!) - half of a parsnip will store well in the fridge so you don't need to eat it all at once.
The thing I love about these parsnips is they've been in the ground all winter and were just harvested last weekend! It seems strange but they don't develop their sweet, almost nutty flavor fully until after they've been through a few hard frosts or a winter. Enjoy these parsnips sliced thinly and sauteed in a little butter over a low flame until they're tender.
Celeriac, also called celery root, is a vegetable that cleans up well. Once you peel away its gnarled outer layer, you find a sparkling-white interior with a clean, refreshing taste that has wide appeal. Once prepared, it shows no signs of its humble past. Store unwashed celeriac in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, where it will keep for several weeks. Soak celeriac briefly in warm water and then scrub it with a stiff brush. Take a thin slice off the top and bottom and peel it with a sharp paring knife or a sturdy vegetable peeler. A few deep crevices will remain; leave them, or slice them out. Remove the core if it seems pithy or hollow. Like apples, celeriac will darken if exposed to the air for too long. If you don’t plan to cook it immediately, submerge the celeriac in a bowl of water with lemon juice squeezed in. Celeriac is amazing in a soup all by itself,or incorporated into a stir fry. It's faint celery taste is a welcome addition to many dishes!
Butterworks Farm Early Riser Cornmeal is made from 100% stone ground Early Riser kernels. Early Riser is an open pollinated (op) corn variety Jack has been improving here in Vermont for years. OP corns tend to be much more nutrient dense, textured and flavorful than hybrid corns, but also yield much less per acre making the variety less marketable. Early Riser Cornmeal is great for making cornbread, muffins, tortillas or polenta. Soak the flour overnight in buttermilk, kefir or yogurt before baking to bring out the best flavor, nutrition and digestibility. The flavor and texture of this freshly milled flour is like no other. Keep in a cool dry place in an air-tight container. The oils in whole-grain cornmeal go rancid more quickly than others, so it should be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 1 month (or in the freezer for up to 2 years).
We also have Black Turtle Beansfor you. Our Vermont bean growers were out of black beans already and we sought to be able to include them regularly until next Fall's harvest. Luckily, Joe Bossen from Vermont Bean Crafters helped us locate these organic beans from Potenza Farm in NY. Please give your beans a rinse in water and scan for little rocks/stones! There may be a few. The black turtle bean has a dense, meaty texture and is very high in protein, which makes it popular in vegetarian dishes. It is an excellent choice for making into soups and chilis as it broth cooks down to a paste like consistency. You can also cook and add to salads, rice or use in a tamale pie (recipe below). It is common to keep the boiled water of these beans and consume it as a soup with other ingredients for seasoning (known as sopa negra, black soup), as a broth (caldo de frijol, bean broth) or to season or color other dishes.
Here are some of my tricks and instructions for cooking these little black nuggets. Number one, some sort of pre-soak is required to cook beans and will significantly reduce cooking time. Cover with 2 inches of water and soak overnight or for 6-8 hours. Drain and cover with fresh water and simmer until beans are soft, about an hour. In warm conditions, refrigerate black beans while they soak to prevent fermentation. A quick-soak method involves covering beans with water, bring to a boil for 2 minutes and then remove from heat and let sit for 2 hours. Drain, cover with fresh water and simmer until soft, about an hour. The beans may prematurely break up with a quick-soak method. Use the overnight method for dishes where it is essential the beans stay whole, such as salads and relishes. Do not add salt or acidic ingredients such as lemon, vinegar, wine, and tomatoes until the beans are finished or nearly done cooking. Adding earlier can cause the beans to toughen. If additional water is needed during the cooking process, use boiling water rather than cold water. Addition of the herbs known as summer savory and epazote can help reduce the flatulence suffered by many who eat beans.
Once the beans are cooked you can enjoy them right away or freeze them. I like to cook up a large batch at once, use some that week in dishes or a salad, and freeze the rest in 1 cup increments. Then when you need some black beans just pull out a bag, thaw and enjoy!
The salsa was made right here on the farm last week with our frozen tomatoes. It also includes our onions & jalapeno peppers, garlic, cider vinegar, green peppers, oregano, salt and cumin.
We also have Pa Pa Doodles eggs for you this week. Deb was a busy lady last week making the salsa, the puree, and collecting all the eggs!
Alas, we have run out of our own Pastured Chicken until we get this years crop into the freezer in a couple months. But fear not, we have beautiful chicken for you grown by Lila and Dave, Willa, Governor and Sam at their Tangletown Farm in West Glover. They farm so they can eat great meat at home and share it with the rest of us. They offer their own meat CSA too with pick up at the Montpelier market (or their farmstand). Check out Lila and Dave's cooking tips for a tender, juicy and delicious bird.
The organic burger comes to you from our friend Seth Gardner at McKnight Farm in East Montpelier.
Sausage and Bacon are making a comeback this week. We bought some whey fed piggies from Jasper Hill Farm. They lived a happy life roaming their Greensboro environs, dining partly on whey left over from the milk that goes into the cheese making at Jasper Hill. The Hot Italian sausage in the share this week is delicious on its own or would be awesome as part of a pasta meal. And bacon of course goes with everything.
Changes to Your Delivery?
If you will be away some upcoming week, and need to make changes to your share delivery, let us know at least 1 week before the change. You can have your share donated to the Food Pantry, or I can stop your share delivery and you will retain a credit on your account toward the purchase of your next share.
Honey-Ginger Carrot and Parsnip Salad Topping
This is a great way to sweeten up a green salad when seasonal salad favorites are not around. The idea is to roast the vegetables in a lemon-honey vinaigrette and serve on top of a green salad with sunflower shoots and whatever else comes to mind.
2 c carrots, diced small
2 c parsnips, diced small
1/4 c ginger, grated
3/4 c olive oil
1/8 c red wine vinegar
1/8 c lemon juice
tsp lemon zest (if you have)
pinch of dill
1/4 c honey, soft
extra honey to drizzle
In a bowl combine carrots, parsnips, ginger and lemon zest. In a small sauce pan, warm on low heat: oil, vinegar, lemon juice, dill and honey and combine well. Pour half of dressing onto chopped vegetables and mix well. Use a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper lay vegetables out evenly. Drizzle with honey and bake in the oven at 375F for 20-30 minutes until they are soft and begin browning. Remove from parchment paper right away and cool. Top green salad with veggie mix and use remaining dressing.
Parsnips and Celery Root with Nutmeg
This simple but satisfying dish can be made ahead and just reheated before serving. From Bon Appetit, November 2002.
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 pounds parsnips, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until almost tender, about 4 minutes (do not brown). Add parsnips and celery root and toss to coat. Add broth, whipping cream, and nutmeg and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium. Cover tightly and simmer until parsnips and celery root are tender and liquid is almost absorbed, stirring occasionally and adding water by tablespoonfuls if mixture gets dry, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm vegetables over low heat, stirring often, until heated through before continuing.) Stir in celery leaves. Transfer to bowl and serve.
This recipe adapted from Martha Stewart is perfect for a Cinco de Mayo feast!
5 1/2 cups water
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 serrano chile, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds ground meat- beef or turkey
1 jar Tomato Puree
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 pimiento-stuffed green olives, rinsed and coarsely chopped
4 ounces grated Monterey Jack cheese (1 1/4 cups)
1 ripe avocado, peeled, halved, pitted, and diced
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped, or 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
Crisp lettuce leaves
Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add 2 teaspoons salt. Whisking constantly, add cornmeal in a slow, steady stream, switching to a wooden spoon when cornmeal becomes too thick to whisk. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, until thick and creamy, about 15 minutes. Stir in butter, cover, and keep warm over low heat.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 2-quart baking dish. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add onion, garlic, bell pepper, chile, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until onion is light gold and vegetables are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add turkey, and cook, breaking up large pieces with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and juices, stock, cumin, oregano, and cayenne. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated and mixture resembles chili, about 10 minutes. Stir in olives, and season with salt and pepper.
Spread 1 1/2 cups cornmeal into bottom of prepared dish with a wet spatula. Spread turkey mixture on top, then spread remaining 2 1/2 cups cornmeal on top. Sprinkle with Monterey Jack. Bake until golden brown and cheese is melted, 35 to 40 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes. Serve with avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, red onion, and lettuce.
I start out most of my days with a smoothie. I always include a banana, greens of some sort, almond milk, frozen fruit, and a seed - chia, hemp, or flax. A smoothie is a great way to start your day with extra nutritional items that are hard to incorporate into your diet. Here's a basic recipe to get you started but feel free to improvise and get creative!
1 banana, peeled
2 cups spinach
1 tbsp peanut or almond butter
3/4 almond milk, or milk of your choice
1/2 cup plain yogurt, or yogurt of your choice
2-3 frozen strawberries
Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
Stir Fried Bok Choy with Garlic
You could add both spinach or mizuna to this recipe to make it a more filling meal. This would be a great side with a rich meal.
1/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced garlic (about 8 cloves)
2 pounds baby or Shanghai bok choy, halved lengthwise
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
Stir together broth, soy sauce, cornstarch, and 1/2 teaspoon salt until cornstarch has dissolved. Heat wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates instantly. Pour peanut oil down side of wok, then swirl oil, tilting wok to coat side. Add garlic and stir-fry until pale golden, 5 to 10 seconds. Add half of bok choy and stir-fry until leaves wilt, about 2 minutes, then add remaining bok choy and stir-fry until all leaves are bright green and limp, 2 to 3 minutes total. Stir broth mixture, then pour into wok and stir-fry 15 seconds. Cover with lid and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in sesame oil, then transfer to a serving dish.
Asian Spinach Salad with Orange and Avocado
Here's a recipe for a great spinach salad. If there's any dressing left over it would make a great marinade!
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon (generous) Asian sesame oil
1 navel orange
1 bag spinach
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set dressing aside.
Cut off peel and white pith from orange. Cut orange into 1/3-inch rounds; cut rounds crosswise in half. Add spinach to dressing; toss to coat. Add avocado and orange; toss gently.
A classic Mexican breakfast, huevos rancheros are technically fried eggs served on hot corn tortillas and smothered in cooked salsa. But in my house the "huevos" can mean eggs either scrambled or fried. When they're fried the runny yolk mixes in with everything. Another staple of my version of huevos rancheros has black beans and creme fraiche or sour cream.
2 eggs per person, fried or scrambled
1 corn tortilla per portion
Black beans, cooked with some sauce
Warm the beans and salsa on the stove top separately. Heat oven to 200F. In a skillet heat a tsp of cooking oil in the bottom of pan on medium and place tortillas in pan for a minute or so on each side to just heat up. Keep warm in oven. Cook eggs desired way. To assemble the dish put the corn tortilla on the plate first, then the eggs and cover with warm beans and salsa, top with creme fraiche. Yum.... Be creative and add pickled jalapenos, some sweet corn kernels or your favorite braised greens. Anything goes.