Wednesday, October 31, 2012

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This box has Russian banana fingerling potatoes, sweet potatoes and / or squash. beets, red cabbage, Walla Walla onions, broccoli side shoots,  lettuce and other greens, daikon radish, rutabagas, parsnips.

Field Notes.  Picking rocks is the natural result of excavation.  Loyal and Ken have made time to gather rocks as they emerge from the digging and before they are buried as digging continues.  Most farmers find rocks a nuisance.  Ken and Loyal see them as a resource.  The current rock project is to set up a base for a construction project.  
Years ago at an auction Ken got a corn crib.  It is a large open structure that would be great for many purposes - storing and drying crops,  seed saving, - endless possibilities.  So they are moving and laying rocks around other tasks.

This week we reduced the goose population and next week the pigs will go to the meat locker.  Loyal helped move the onions and squash to the winter storage site indoors so they won't freeze.

Work continues on the digging and harvesting front.  I have barrels in the root cellar of carrots, beets, celery root with rutabagas and fall radishes left to store.  Surplus cabbage will become sauerkraut this weekend.  More fall and next spring greens are being planted.  Hoopettes are springing up in the garden.  Plans are being finalized for what crops will be planted in hoopettes, high tunnel and medium tunnel in the field.  We are working with the dry soil and were grateful for the rain we got last week.

From the Kitchen.  The cook stove is in daily operation.  It is the season for hearty breakfasts.  Ken often gets up and cooks meat and eggs and then either fruit or vegetable to go along.  I have been making stews and roasting meats and vegetables.  Ken is making squash pie from the squash that looks like it will not keep.  I have been baking sweet potatoes and then slicing the leftovers and heating them in butter - delicious.

We are nearing the end of broccoli and other greens out in the field.  There are still Brussels sprouts coming, but they are smaller this year due to lack of rain.  I have been steaming broccoli and serving it with a little umeboshi vinegar as our meals are heavier to give us energy in the cooling temperatures.  Balance helps any meal.  Years ago an Asian friend told me to get as much color, texture, and shapes variety as possible on the plate - it makes for a more appetizing meal.  He is right.  So go for color this week - red beets, with green kale. 

The Russian banana fingerling potatoes are great roasted.  They have yellow flesh and buttery flavor.  Just scrub, cut into large chunks, roll in olive oil and herbs and pop into the oven, turn every few minutes.  Voila
'Til Next Week!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

CSA Newslettter

Greetings from the Garden!  This box has sweet potatoes, leeks, potatoes, celery, beets, parsnips, rutabagas, baby cabbage, greens like kale or chard, lettuce, and arugula, sage, and pie pumpkins.
Field Notes.  The mad dash is on to finish up all the fall tasks.  Ken and Loyal are pulling roots for me to bury in sand in the root cellar. They also moved the mobile high tunnel to its late fall and winter location.  Although it has been empty for about a week, they were waiting in hope of rain for the soil before they covered it with a greenhouse.  No such luck this time.  And the irrigation pond is dry.  So water will have to be brought in to transplant seedlings.  Ken has also held off to do field work as the soil is so dry.  Soon we will planting garlic and green manures even if the rains do not come.

There is progress on the heavy equipment work to expand the irrigation pond by the mobile high tunnel and new dam and pond by the garden. 

Ken also got his favorite tractor back from repairs.  It is a Farmall B - a small tractor about 1937 vintage with a crank start - no battery to replace.  It is a smaller 18 horse power tractor with a narrow front end. The front and two back wheels are equidistant.  It is amazingly how easy it is to maneuver.  It works for most of the jobs here, and uses much less fuel than the larger 1950's vintage Massey Ferguson 65's with 55 horsepower.  

We don't use tractors as much as most farms - most of Ken's work is done with hand tools.  Tractors are used in moving components of compost, hauling roots from field to packing area and moving the egg mobile. 

The goats browsing
Loyal and his animals are settling in here.  He has brought two goats, Mangalitsa pigs, an old breed from Austria known for chacuterie, and three rabbits. 
From the Kitchen.  With rapid shifts in weather I have been alternating slow oven cooked meals with quick cook summer like fare.  I have been doing lots of cabbage in cream or cheese sauce - saute onion or leek, add chopped cabbage, a bit of flour, milk or cream and then cheese.  I vary this with different cheeses, herbs and spices.

pie pumpkins
Today's box has pie pumpkins.  I alwys try to have them in the boxes before Halloween.  These are not jack o' lantern pumpkins, but great to use for pies, pumpkin breads or soups.  Cut out the cap, scoop out the seeds, and either reset the cap and bake or cut into pieces and steam to tender.  Ken uses squash, pumpkin and sweet potato or a combination for pie.

These tiny cabbage are more of a salad quality rather than most fall cabbage that is better cooked or made into sauerkraut.  Enjoy it any way you would prepare a summer cabbage - stir fry or cole slaw.

Sage is a delicious fall herb that is best when sealed in - like in egg dishes or traditional poultry stuffing.  I recently added sage to some biscuits to go with a stew for supper - delicious.  They are also good in dumplings.

Til Next Week, 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden! This box has cabbage, celery, carrots, potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, daikon radish, leeks and /or green onions, squash and/or sweet potatoes, parsnips, parsley and the last of the peppers.

Jack surveys the changes

Field Notes.  Dry, dry, dry.  Our well is pumping air.  I worry.  The plants you usually see in the box like greens are just waiting for moisture.  Ken irrigated until the well started pumping air.  On the good news front, Mark has been working on the irrigation ponds near the garden and mobile high tunnel.  He is finding clay Ken may be able to use in pottery.  And once the project is complete, when it does rain, we will have a way to contain and save it.

Ken has been harvesting and I have begun the task of burying roots in sand in the root cellar.  I have nearly completed the carrots and beets are next.  Ken and Loyal have been clearing out space in greenhouses - taking out the old  plants, etc.  Planting has begun,in the greenhouse in the field.  They are clearing and moving the high tunnel to its winter location this week, but it would be nice to get some rain so there is soil moisture for the small seedlings before they get transplanted.  They are in a holding pattern by the back door. One fall we had no sun and nothing grew.  This year no water.

Thursday Ken will be speaking at the Amery Garden Club meeting at the Village Pizza around 12:30.  All are welcome.

From the Kitchen.  Cool weather and denser food go together.  I have been sauteing leeks or onions adding carrots and cabbage for a side dish.   I am either baking or steaming squash.  Ken has made the first squash pie.  I have also been making hearty stews and bean dishes with meat.  Although the temperatures have not been that cold, the wind has been fierce.  Everyone - people and animals seem hungry.

This week we have rutabagas - a vegetable that people underrate - they are a nutritious member of the brassica family that are great boiled in soup, mashed with potatoes, baked au gratin or in filled pasties.  Turnips are another underrated vegetable - they, too are nutritious and tasty.  I like them cubed, boiled and served with cream or butter salt and pepper.

Daikon radish are a mild Japanese radish that is often used in soups, grated with sushi or salads, and pickled.  Ken and I like them sliced or grated with a bit of tamari.  They are a nice zippy addition to a cole slaw or cooked cabbage dish.

Sweet potatoes are a seasonal favorite.  We have not had enough to store in the past, nor had we found a way to cure them in 80 degrees after we dig them in fall.  I usually bake several and when we don't eat them all, I peel, slice in thick pieces and heat in a bit of butter just to when they start to caramelize.  Enjoy!

'Til Next Week, 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

CSA Newsletter

The walk to the field
Greetings from the Garden! This box has celery, sorrel, arugula, kale, cabbage, parsley, green onions, leeks, carrots, winter squash, what may be the last tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and the first potatoes.

Field Notes.  The big dig has begun!  Friday Ken and Loyal with some help from me, dug and picked the potatoes.  Yields were better than last year's low, but far from stellar.  And for the first time in memory we had some potatoes with scab.  I was not happy with consistency within the varieties and believe this was inferior seed potatoes.  My old reliable company was sold and the new company has been disappointing.   I will ask other farmers where they get seed and order from a different company next year.  Good seed and seed potatoes are important.  Low germination, incorrectly marked seed, and poor performers affect results.  I have always been willing to pay more for better seed.

earlier in the season
Ken and Loyal also dug some carrots and beets for me to start root cellaring.  I have tried many things over the years, but burying roots in sand keeps them best - going directly from soil to loose sand maintains their fresh quality.  It is more work tan putting them in a cooler, but the better results make it worth it.  And it seems more earth friendly to use a cool space over using electricity.

Ken has been monitoring the tunnels and will be determining when it will be time to move the mobile high tunnel and clear out hot weather crops.  The lows in the teens are making us think it is time to move on to greens for winter or next spring.  As the days shorten, the plants grow more slowly, and we  are still learning about the capabilities of the tunnels.

a preview of things to come!
Ken has also been setting up his "hoopettes."  These small tunnels in the garden have provided us with extended season greens for years.  They are small, flexible, and have some benefits over the large structures. Ken is comparing and contrasting what each ecosystem grows best.

Ken picking potatoes
From the Kitchen. Potatoes. After a gap between the early potatoes and full season one, it is nice to have potatoes again.  Everyone seems to like them.  And they combine well with other vegetables.  Here are some ideas: 
1) Potato leek soup.  Clean the leeks, saute, add peeled chopped potatoes and some soup stock.  Boil so the potatoes soften.  Process or puree to smooth.  Add some milk or cream and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with chopped sorrel.

2) Create a "German" dinner with boiled potatoes, cabbage and meat. I would probably saute onion add chopped cabbage, and some carrots cut julienne in one skillet.  Boil or make American fries in another skillet, and cook some meat like pork chops in a third skillet. 

3) Make a hearty chicken soup with celery, onion, carrots, potatoes and either kale or cabbage.

Ken made a great cooked red cabbage this week with apples.  He followed the recipe in Fanny Farmer cook book (unusual for Ken to follow a recipe).  Quite good.  And he made an excellent lentil soup with a meaty bone, onion, a couple celery stalks, carrots, and some tomatoes.  And he has made his first squash pie with a couple squash that had blemishes.  So in this cold, damp October weather start the soup, light the oven and savor the flavors of autumn!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This box has red cabbage and arugula, beets, green onions and leeks, celery, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, parsley, and winter squash.

Field Notes.  The work on the irrigation ponds has begun!  As I hear the machinery I think two things 1)we are on the clock and how much will this cost and 2)this will be great next summer when it is dry.  Once there is enough change to show the before and after photos, I will take them and post them.

Our other HUGE news is Loyal is moving here to join forces with us.  He is a young farmer with strength, energy and vision.  He also sees how far Ken has brought the land, and how valuable his decades of experience are.  When Ken builds something he says it should last his lifetime, and now Loyal requests they build to last HIS lifetime.  Neither is keen on spending time on repairs...

And now it is autumn - as the leaves drop, the woods opens up.  The big dig should start later this week with the potatoes.  Then we will move on to items I will bury in sand in the root cellar.  

From the Kitchen.  Ken made a great lentil soup with leeks, a meaty bone, lentils, carrots, a couple stalks of celery, and some tomato.  It was great.  I made a ratatouille we all liked.  It was from Nourishing Traditions - a cookbook and more.  Saute each item and layer in an oiled shallow baking pan: eggplant, onion, peeled and seeded tomato, minced garlic( I combined the garlic with the tomato. and some thyme.  I also topped with some grated cheese - bake about an hour at 350 degrees.
Ken prefers this over the stewed ratatouille we have had.  This new recipe maintains the distinct flavor of each vegetable.

I have also been sauteing onion, adding chopped pepper and using this for omelettes OR adding a green vegetable like chopped cabbage or broccoli side shoots for a delightful, colorful medley. I dress the vegetable medley with either an interesting vinegar like umeboshi ( a Japanese style pickled plum) or a creamy cheesy sauce depending on what else I am serving - with beef stroganoff it was the vinegar and with a tomato dish it was the creamy cheesy sauce.

I chop off the celery leaves and dry them like herbs for winter soups and stews.  Ken has been using celery a stalk or two at a time in soups, stir fry or even kim chi!  Its flavor rounds out and adds depth, but too much overpowers!

'Til Next Week,