Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cauliflower Recipe

Here is an unusual recipe for cauliflower that Ken learned back when he was eating fewer potatoes. Soak one cup of millet overnight. Drain and cook the millet in three cups of water until quite soft. Cook cauliflower in water until soft. Drain each. Run both through a food mill together. Result: something very close to mashed potatoes. We top with butter or toasted sesame oil and serve as a side dish or as a morning porridge.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pigs Then and Now

Here is a photo of ALL the pigs sleeping in the shelter in June.

And here is a current photo from this afternoon of a couple pigs near the same shelter.

...and Ken is building a new, larger shelter!

Fall Colors

Today when I went out to pick raspberries, I realized I had a whole new view of the same scene - here is the same part of the path to the field one week ago!

Weekly CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden. This week's box has cabbage, leeks, bok choy, lettuce or cutting lettuce, arugula, parsley, raspberries, turnips, the first of the winter squash and the last of the cucumbers.

Field Notes. Autumn arrived with a touch of frost Sunday. And that has pushed Ken to clear out less productive hot weather crops like cucumbers and summer squash in preparation for fall plantings for this fall and next spring's crops. So, he picked the last of the crops, removed vines and fences and started preparing beds for planting crops. His focus now is the garden, and soon will shift to field and hoophouse.

We are both glad to get some good dry working weather. As Ken works garden and field, I am starting to sort and store fall and winter crops like onions, shallots, and garlic; while I clean and pack I am also sorting garlic for fall planting. Ken harvested and brushed off the winter squash. Soon we will be digging sweet potatoes and potatoes. And we will be harvesting root crops to store in the root cellar for winter boxes. Even though the days are getting shorter we have plenty to do!

From the kitchen. This week's box has some summer crops and the start of cooler weather favorites like squash - I can imagine lighting the cook stove and baking some now! Sunday I previewed some fall vegetables in an earlier blog entry - leeks for one. Check it out.

This fall cabbage is a nice dense head - and not only for kraut. We saute leeks and add sliced cabbage until it turns to a brighter green and top with cream, vinegar or any dressing. The bok choy is a great addition to soups and stir fry. Both cabbage and bok choy are crucifers believed to prevent cancer.

Turnips are also from the brassica family. I usually peel the roots, cube , boil and top with butter and salt and pepper. Some years I blanch and freeze some as they add zip when soups seem a bit blah in January. The greens are also a nice addition - good as you would cook cabbage or kale.

Enjoy the raspberries as they seem a bit scarce this season - the early ones got moldy in the hot humidity in August and the next crop had a couple weeks of so much rain the berries were too mushy. Do I sound like Goldilocks? Berries are a fragile crop and sometimes the weather isn't co-operative. We will get you what we can before the season ends!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall Delights

Leeks are a refined onion - great in creamy soups, or baked dishes like gratins or quiche. Try them in any recipe that calls for onions. Ken likes to make cream soups. I like leeks fried in onions and added to meats, soups, even grilled cheese sandwiches.

The cleaning of a leek is easy once you know how. Cut them lengthwise and rinse under running water.

Celery root or celeriac is a European favorite. The root is the wonderful flavor of celery stalks without any of the strings! I think it is unusual here because quite frankly it is one of the ugliest looking vegetables we grow! Once peeled, it is ready for use.I clean it, store it in a bag in the refrigerator and cut off chunks as needed. The root is good raw in salads, slaws, or as vegetable dipping sticks. Cooked celeriac is marvelous in soup or stew, baked in gratin or casseroles. Anywhere you would like a bit of celery flavor add a chunk of celeriac.

Rutabagas are quite popular in Sweden - where rotabagge means baggy root. They are part of the brassica family - cabbage family or cruciferous vegetables thought to prevent cancer. Like celeriac, I peel and add chunks as needed.

Rutabagas are great boiled and mashed with potatoes and carrots. They are tasty in soups and stews. Many people like them raw in salads or grated in slaws with celeriac and carrots and daikon radish. They are a nice addition to roasted vegetables with meats or baked vegetables. In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, people make Pasties, pastry filled with vegetables and meat, and the vegetables usually include rutabagas.

First Frost

We ran around last night covering and preparing for frost. One weather channel suggested the possibility for frost; the other said low of 40. The computer said 34 degrees, so we prepared.

We awoke this morning to 32 degrees with traces of frost in low areas. This signals the end to certain crops - basil is the first to go. Many heat loving crops are already slowing down, so today Ken cleared out the cucumbers and summer squash in preparation for more fall plantings and hoopettes. Soon the garden will be filled with plantings and hoopettes.

During this week the weather looks clear and sunny; we have plans to do so much!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Weekly CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden! This week's box has tomatoes, cucumbers, bok choy, cabbage or Chinese cabbage, peppers, summer squash or eggplant, cutting lettuce or lettuce, leeks, bulb fennel, and parsley.

Field Notes. Last night we got .9" of rain and some hail. I ran out and checked and damage to tender greens like spinach is minimal - hurrah! The rain was good for the plants. Today is the last full day of summer; Happy Autumn! These shorter days and cooler nights signal the beginning of the end for several hot weather crops like tomatoes and cucumbers. But other crops thrive in cool weather - like last week's broccoli.

Ken is planning the removal of the hot weather crops so he can space out the hoopettes for this fall and over winter. Some years we have already had a frost and removed tomatoes and cucumbers. This year Ken is also monitoring the temperatures in the high hoop. And he is learning about crops that do well in the hoop and when they do well - Yes, Ken is a lifelong learner!

This week Ken is also working on a new structure for the hogs; he enjoys construction. It is just making the time!

From the Kitchen. Leeks! Leeks are the creamiest of the onion family. Use them raw, baked, or sauteed. Leeks really shine in cream soups.

Fennel is a flavorful addition to vegetables or soups or stews. I like to saute fennel in butter and add to cooked vegetables. Last year a CSA member gave us a recipe with fennel, leeks, tomatoes with shrimp - that sounds good.

Fresh tender spinach is the best - in salad, lightly steamed. The occasional hole or tear is from last night's hail.

Photo is of Oscar following me home from the field. The leaves are starting to change color.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


We have tobacco. Ken grew it as a biodynamic soil enhancer. We have some for sale - grown in soil to which Ken has been adding compost and minerals since 1991. And we do not use ANY chemicals - no petrochemicals, no organically approved chemicals. Ken focuses on building healthy soil for healthy plants.

Plants are well over six feet high. We have been told once harvested they need to be hung for 7 - 10 days and then the leaves stripped and shredded. Please contact us soon - first come first served.

Compost Time

Ken has turned and moved the compost; he has begun watering it from the rain barrel. It has already shrunk dramatically.

Yes, Ken makes our compost - we don't buy compost from somewhere else. Yes, it takes time and work, but we know exactly what is in it, and that it has heated up enough so weed seeds don't germinate.

Ken starts compost in the spring for use the following year. He uses a combination of components - leaves, bedding from the chicken coop, horse manure, and this spring he got some llama manure. Ken also adds soil amendments like rock powders, too. Compost is considered "black gold" by most gardeners. It is a great soil amendment.

Chicks are Growing

Those chicks are GROWING. From adorable little fluffy peeping cuties, to gawky tweens- yes, they are growing feathers and longer legs and big feet - still cute?

We raise chickens for eggs. It takes about six months from chick to egg laying hen. Spring hatched pullets start laying in autumn, but then take a break during the dark and cold winter
. August hatched chicks start laying in February - prime egg season.

From Pigs to Hogs

Each season there is a time when one of us says to the other, "Those pigs - they are hogs now." And so it happened last week - Ken said it this year, and I agree.

We raise pork for families, and although this year's pigs are already spoken for, please ask us for details if you are interested!

Seventeen Years

Today is our anniversary - seventeen years. We took time out, and yes, we DO leave the farm - once in a while!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Weekly CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!
This week's box contains tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, celery, lettuce, cutting lettuce, basil, kohlrabi, broccoli, red onions, radicchio, melons, and parsley.

Field Notes. Wow! The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting cooler. This seems to push the heat loving vegetables to ripen the fruit they have as once temperatures drop below 50 the plants don't set new fruit. So, things are slowing down there, but meanwhile the plants that like cool weather flourish. The broccoli and kohlrabi are prime examples - large and really nice.

Ken also shifts gears as he prepares for frost. He is looking at the garden space for planting fall and next spring's crops. Planting continues. He also is assessing how crops did this season and how to improve next season.

Ken also is moving compost piles to make room for the leaves people will rake up and bring us this fall and next spring. Leaves are one portion of our compost - people are happy to bring us their leaves and we are happy to use them as mulch and part of the compost mix.

The cool nights meant Ken had to carve out time to finish the doors on the large hoop house to maintain as much heat as possible as the nights get cooler. Maintaining heat was not much of an issue earlier and there are always more pressing tasks midsummer.

From the Kitchen. This is some really nice kohlrabi and broccoli. In warm weather broccoli will form small heads. These cooler nights not only mean larger heads, the flavor is sweeter. Many people eat broccoli raw. We tend to cook broccoli - and top with butter, cheese sauce, or add to minestrone and other soups. Finally I often freeze a bit for winter quiche. Blanche, chill, drain and freeze. Ken often makes cream soups of mixed vegetables that include broccoli.

Kohlrabi is another member of the brassica family - a real health food! Cut any greens from the swollen stem and store separately. I use them like cabbage or kale. The bulbous stem is wonderful peeled and salted for a quick pickle. We also add to soups and stir fry; the flavor is like a broccoli stem, so the two will combine nicely.

For radicchio ideas, check former blog entry on May 23rd.

This week's photo is of the tobacco Ken planted as part of biodynamic soil improvement. We are wondering if anyone knows of a market for them?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Weekly CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden! This week's box has tomatoes, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, red onions, celery, cutting lettuce, arugula, peppers, melons, grapes, and the last of the corn.

Field Notes. Two nights of lows at 40 degrees gives us a preview of fall! The cooler nights signal that slow down of the heat loving plants - the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers don't set fruit when nights fall below 50 degrees. Beans also love heat. We have a last crop that has flowers and some tiny beans in process. We will enjoy the vegetables that have set and are growing. Maybe we will have some heat and they will have another wave of production. Farming is such an adventure - one never knows what the future may bring.

We have a few grapes this year. Like the apples the Frost on Mothers Day really affected production. And this week we have melons - this year's melons seem to have good flavor, but are less sweet than prior years when we have a hot, dry August and the sugars really set.

Ken continues to juggle the many end of summer start of fall tasks. He is still clearing and planting. We both are checking crops and making decisions about what and how much go into the root cellar.

From the Kitchen. Ken and I saw Eat, Pray, Love and we both enjoyed the food portions of the film. I love the melon and prosciutto combination - have only seen and read about it, but clean sweet melon paired with salty meat sounds delicious. And the blemished tomatoes find their way to sauce for pasta with basil, so that hit home, too.

A couple weeks ago when we had people visit, Ken made a Brussels sprout dish that disappeared quickly. Brussels in cheese sauce with onion and red pepper. Saute onion, add red pepper, add flour to cook. I add dry mustard. Once the flour cooks, add milk and then the grated cheese. Finally add the cooked (but not overcooked!) Brussels sprouts and serve. People revisited this side dish even after it was cold until it was gone.

With the cool weather we have begun to cook tomatoes - I did a tomato rice dish Ken enjoyed. Saute onion and pepper, add cooked rice, tomatoes cut in chunks, and top with basil and cheese -either soft or grated. Cover. Once the cheese melts, serve. I used some cheese a friend made with basil and garlic. Quite good.