Wednesday, March 28, 2012

First boxes - an extra early option

Greetings!  Here are photos of the first boxes of the season!.  Greens harvested today include salad offerings, young brassicas, and some Asian greens that have just started to bolt with the heat.  Asian greens are still delicious when they first start to flower.  I tend to saute an onion and add rinsed, chopped greens, stir until they wilt, and top with an interesting vinegar or dressing.  Ken likes them in the bottom of a bowl with hot broth soup poured over them in the morning.  And a couple years back one of our CSA members had a great recipe for blanched greens added to pasta with Caesar dressing and a bit of your favorite meat.  I steamed some turnip tops and added sweet wine and umeboshi vinegar - a salty, sweet vinegar from making Japanese style umeboshi  - pickled plums.

And under the greens are roots - we dug the sunchokes and parsnips yesterday.  Parsnips dug in spring are sweeter than those dug in the fall.  This spring the skins had a slight grey cast.  I brought a couple inside and scrubbed them up for lunch and they were delicious.  I scrubbed, sliced, parboiled about three minutes, drained and then put in a heavy skillet with melted butter just to the point of caramelizing. 

We also had a few sunchokes with chicken .  I stir fried the chicken, added sliced sunchokes, then garlic, then a bit of tamari.

Also in this box is a potato mix - the last of the purple, some red skinned, and some yellow fleshed Carolas.  I have been doing boiled sliced potatoes for one meal, American fries for the next and the first batch of potato salad.  The mix of colors is nice.
We also have some carrots, beets, onions, and a celery root.

For more info on this box and farm status, check the CSA newsletter.

CSA Newsletter

Ken moving up peppers and planting tomatoes seeds
Greetings from the Garden!  This special early box has potatoes, beets, carrots, celery root, potato onions, freshly dug parsnips and sunchokes, and braising and salad greens.

Field Notes.  The weather has brought us this special box.  Many things are earlier this year due to the unseasonably warm weather. It has been very bad for some things - maple syrup for example.  Ken did some pruning during the warm spell in January, but other tasks took priority in this hot weather, and now it is simply too late for this season.  The trees are leafing out.

Peppers just moved up  - will perk up in a day or two
In spite of the warmer than average temperatures, Ken has been planting the hot weather crops like peppers and tomatoes about the same time as he did last year.  Etched in our memories is the frost on Mothers Day 2010 or the 18 degrees on May 18th a few years back.  One can never accurately predict the weather a month in the future!

Tomato seeds
Ken is also getting ready to fire the pottery kiln this spring - he is a master at juggling the many tasks there are to do. 

From the Kitchen.  Each spring there is a period of transition as we move from roots dug last fall to roots overwintered in the ground.  Parsnips over wintered in the garden are much sweeter.  Parsnips, related to carrots are usually scrubbed, sliced, parboiled , drained and then sauteed in butter just to the caramelizing stage.  Delicious! 

Ken loves parsnips and makes them into pies.  He uses a pumpkin recipe, but uses much less sweetener.  Many people add parsnips to soups and stews.  I like a creamed curry parsnip soup - saute sliced onion, add a bit of curry, add soup stock and diced parsnips and potatoes, cook to tender and either run through a blender or food mill.  Re heat, serve with cream, milk, yogurt and a green sprig such as chives.

Sunchokes are also called Jerusalem artichokes - they are not from Jerusalem, nor are they related to artichokes.  They are related to sunflowers.  Scrub between the "scales" to remove any soil.  Use raw in salads, sauteed in stir fry dishes, or in any recipe that calls for water chestnuts.  Last year I made a great spinach dip with sunchokes in place of the water chestnuts.  My favorite is saute with minced garlic and add a splash of tamari just before serving.  Tamari is a natural soy sauce available in natural food stores.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Glazing Pottery

Making pottery involves many steps.  Once we counted; the clay is usually handled about twenty to thirty times depending on piece before it goes home with its owner.

Ken has finished forming or throwing pottery, and is preparing to fire the kiln.  Right now he is glazing and decorating pottery and stacking the pottery in the kiln.

 He pours, dips and makes it look easy!


After he glazes a trailer load of pots, he moves them to the kiln shed and places them on hay wagons.

 I help sort and form sets.  I roll small balls of clay called wads.  Ken places each pot on four or more balls of clay on the shelf.  This allows the flame to wrap the pot and if the glaze gets juicy from interacting with wood ash, the wads may prevent the pot from sticking to the kiln shelf.
Ken is out in the kiln shed placing pots in shelves.  He will resume glazing and moving more pottery into the shed once he has room.

New Chicks!

We got chicks in the mail.  We ordered 100 straight run, so we should increase our laying flock by about 50 hens.  Last year we kept running out of eggs and people requested more.  We ordered some new breeds for certain qualities: broodiness so some can hatch out the next generation, cold hardiness, and good foraging skills.

Once they arrived, we taught them to drink water and set them in an oval stock tank so they did not pile up in the corners.  Now they have moved to a bigger space: an appliance box.  They have a couple lights, no soy organic starter, chick grit and fresh water.  Life is good.


I continue to incubate our own eggs, and soon it will be warm enough for hens to hatch out their own eggs.  We find hens hatching the best system.  Hens protect their chicks and teach chicken skills, so those chicks learn quickly.

Monday, March 12, 2012

CSA Newsletter and Farm news

Shot from last year.
Greetings from the Garden!  This box has potatoes, carrots, beets, celery root, black radishes, onions, potato onions, garlic, winter squash, and mini greens.

Field Notes.  This has been an unusual winter.  Each month from November through February has been in the top ten warmest recorded.  There has been very little snow.  It has been a bit disconcerting for those of us who like to skate, cross country ski and snowshoe.  And as farmers we have been wondering how dry the spring will be.  

Then, the last day of February we got about eight inches of heavy wet snow.  We couldn't say March came in like a lion!  Now we are experiencing record high temperatures so people who are making maple syrup are nervous.  The best maple syrup weather is sunny, windless days with highs in the 40's and  low's in the 20's so that the sap runs up in the day and down each night. Too cold it doesn't go up; too warm it doesn't go down.  Once the maples start to leaf out the flavor of the sap changes and the season is done.  
Not long now

This spring Ken is getting ready to fire the pottery kiln in mid April.  The pottery forming is about done, and now he moves on to glazing and stacking the pots in the kiln.  

Sunday was a beautiful sunny day, so in the afternoon Ken went out to check his hoops.  He found that not only was the air temperature warm, but the soil is also warming up.  He spent much of his time shedding clothing - gloves, hat, jacket, vest, etc.  But as the sun waned he re-dressed.
Here's a goose egg

Crops are coming up and birds are laying eggs.  We are selling CSA memberships and egg shares right now.  Thanks to all who have signed on.  

From the Kitchen.  We are still firing up the cook stove in the morning.  I have been poaching eggs in broth for breakfast.  After having soup for breakfast during our year in Japan, we like to start the day with warm food in our stomach.  We had some August hatch males in the chicken and turkey flocks that were fighting, so off to the kitchen with them along with some older hens and geese.  We make soup stock from bones and pick the meat off the bones for soups and stews.  Onions, garlic, a bit of celery root, radishes, potatoes, and a few frozen peas are a nice combination.  I have saved some of our cabbage as an experiment and have been making beet and cabbage borscht as well.

The winter squash is still good, but it does not have the spark for me that it does in November.  I never know if the squash is less flavorful or I have had a lot by now.  I tend to get more adventurous in my squash preparation.  I like to toast nuts like hazel nuts, pecans or walnuts in a skillet, chop, return to the pan with butter and add cooked squash. Cover and reduce heat until warm.  Watch enough to prevent scorching.

I also make a squash pudding - a pie recipe without the crust.  And I cook squash knipira - check blog entries for kinpira.  It is a Japanese cooking style that seems complicated the first time you try it, but becomes second nature with some practice - and it is a sure way to wow guests.  Ken has been making squash pie and squash soups.  

Soon we will be digging roots that were overwintered in the ground - parsnips and sunchokes.  And the greens, they are a - growing.  Thanks for your continued support.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Egg Season has started

With longer days, egg season has begun.  We have chicken and goose eggs for sale.  Email or call for details