Thursday, May 29, 2014

Spring greens continued - Bok choy, Sorrel and Radicchio

This week we have some new greens, and people have thanked me for blog posts with photos and recipes, so here goes!  First we have radicchio, an Italian green.  most people know the Verona type that looks like a red cabbage with white ribs, but we grow a Treviso type.  It is a spicy green, and like arugula it is great with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, goat cheese and toasted nuts.  It mellows with cooking.  I often toss pungent greens with hot pasta to tone them down.  Radicchio is great grilled.  Martha Stewart tops grilled radicchio with balsamic vinegar and shaved hard cheese.

Sorrel also known as French Sorrel is a lemony herb, more robust lemony flavor than the mellower lemon balm.  I rinse, chop and place in a skillet of olive oil and melted butter  to seal the flavor.  I then add it to fish, vegetables or wherever I would like some lemon flavor with the bonus of green color ( and a local source for the flavor).  Sorrel is often added to egg dishes and cream soups and to stir fry just before serving in place of lemon grass ( a tropical plant).

Bok choy is an Asian green that is flexible!  I most often combine it in a saute with onions and red radishes, carrot cut in matchsticks, or salad turnips.  I cut the ribs from the leaves and cook the ribs a minute or two and add the greens just before serving. 
My favorite is to add just a bit of umeboshi vinegar, a salty, sweet and sour condiment.  I also like making a combination of sesame oil, a dash of toasted sesame oil, some sweet wine like Mirin or sherry and some tamari or good soy sauce and top with toasted sesame seeds.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

CSA Newsletter

salad turnips
Greetings from the Garden! This box has Romaine, red lettuce and other salad greens, braising greens, radishes, salad turnips, green onions or chives, gobo (burdock root), celery root, beets, potatoes, and asparagus.

Field Notes.  The heat has arrived.  After a slow spring, we have had some rain and heat.  Many things are catching up.  For example the asparagus was slow to start, but we are getting larger than usual harvests each time Ken picks.  If you want additional asparagus or have friends looking for asparagus, send them our way!  

Fence is similar to this poultry netting
We have been promised a new electric fence specifically to keep the bears out of the field tunnel and the strawberries there.  The wild life damage woman agrees with us that two bears walking through the bulb onion crops are a nuisance and she has ordered fence and trap before they continue to damage crops.  This is encouraging after the USDA "bear guy" told us on a phone message and in person that bear"walking through your garden" did not constitute a nuisance!  

Strawberries blooming and starting to set fruit
I was steaming last week, but have calmed down now that action is starting before we lose crops. 

Ken has been clearing the mobile high tunnel of greens and planting the heat loving crops.  He is also planting heat loving plants in the field tunnel as well.  He cleared spaces and cultivated the entire garden and transplanted seedlings into that space. As crops come out, new ones go in.

The pigs are now in a large new space south of the garden.  Their first job is to clear the area just south of the garden and then Ken will improve the fence.  Ken is considering their next move, and I will keep you posted

From the Kitchen.  Asparagus is a great side dish!  I have brought a simple meal out to Ken in the field a couple nights last week.  One night I fried up a couple pieces of bacon, and boiled some pasta.  I removed the bacon and chopped for a garnish.  I pan grilled the asparagus in the bacon fat.  For a pasta topping I sauteed green onions, added some cream cheese and removed from heat.  once the pasta was done, I drained and tossed with chopped dandelion greens - any salad or braising green would work.  Then I added some brined red peppers to the pasta and topped it with the chopped bacon.

Another night was pasta with a mushroom sauce from mushrooms we had dried last summer and green onions.  There was a side salad with wild violets as a garnish.

Home made mayonnaise is great on asparagus.  Check recipe books, but it is basically beaten egg yolk with a bit of salt, pepper, honey, and either a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar.  Then using an electric beater, drizzle in about a cup of oil - I like olive, walnut, sesame or sunflower.  Then once the oil is incorporated, add one more tablespoon of either lemon juice or vinegar.  with our eggs, it is a bright yellow color

And with the egg whites I make macaroons for a treat for Ken

'Til Next Week, 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Kitchen Day

Today I spent most of the day in the kitchen.  I started with braising a venison shoulder and cooking up some dried beans.  Then I moved on to masa and tortillas.  Masa is the process of cooking whole dry corn with lime and grinding it.  It makes several vitamins more available to humans to make masa.

After our lunch or tortillas, meat and beans and parsnips and salad. I made mayonnaise.  I like to have mayonnaise to go with asparagus as a dip or drizzle on just before serving.  Mayonnaise is not difficult.  Beat a yolk or two , add some 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of salt, a pinch of powdered hot pepper, a half teaspoon of honey, and a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar.  This is one of the few times I use an electric mixer.  Slowly add oil - I like walnut, sesame, olive - so that it is beaten into the yolks.  If you dump in too much oil it will separate which looks weird, but tastes fine.  I also use room temperature ingredients to avoid separation.  Once the cup or so of oil is blended in, add an additional tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar.  Voila.

Then I made macaroons with the egg whites.  Ken loves coconut so they are a treat for him.  I started with the recipe in Betty Crocker's Cookbook from my youth, but have continued to reduce the sugar to about 1/3 - 1/4 of the original recipe.  I think one can taste the coconut better and who needs sugar?  I start with a couple egg whites, Mix to frothy  - less than a minute - and add about a half cup sugar, a half teaspoon of vanilla and a quarter to half teaspoon of salt.  Once that is mixed. stir in about two cups of coconut.  Mix and place balls on parchment paper - from a rounded teaspoon to a tablespoon - what size you like.  Teaspoon size take about 15 min at 325 degrees.  Then soak a tea towel.  Wring out and once the macaroons start to brown, remove from oven, slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheet and place the tea towel on the cookie sheet and quickly slide the parchment paper with the cookies onto the tea towel.  The heat from the cookie sheet and the wet tea towel form steam and the macaroons come off the parchment paper much more easily.

Finally I tackled odd jobs I have not gotten to do - like filling spice jars.  So, now I am planning a supper for Ken and then ...  well, I have not decided yet

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This box has lettuce, salad greens, braising greens, spinach, parsnips, sun chokes, gobo, potatoes, chives and/or green onions, radishes and /or salad turnips, and the first of the asparagus!

Field Notes.  Ken has continued to keep busy.  He took the plastic off the hoopettes before the 2" of rain, and has hung them to dry and has them in the shed ready to get folded up until we use them next fall.  Ken has been cultivating weeds and thinning crops.  Ken cultivates regularly before the weeds get large.  This means he can go down a row, disturb the soil with a hand cultivator about as fast as I walk.  It is obvious he has done this many years.  I was amused as there was a face book posting of an interview we did in the mobile high tunnel, and they asked me to cultivate while Ken and the interviewer transplanted seedlings.  I am slow.  And once we hear more about the program we will let you know more.  

This past week Ken moved the poultry to summer pasture.  They seemed quite happy to get into the field or rye and adjoining clover.  Next we will be moving the pigs.  Ken has decided their first job is to clear south of the garden.

One day when I was walking to the field and looking at deer tracks, I saw a bear print.  Now it seems there are two - a large and small print.  Ken assumes it is a sow and cub.  I have called the DNR bear team and want to be put on the list before there is any major damage.

From the Kitchen.  Today's box has the first asparagus.  It is later than usual, but with the rain it is plump and flavorful - well worth the wait.  Each year I give the same advice on asparagus: don't over cook it!  Some people steam it, but a few years ago we started grilling it and when I don't have the grill going I will saute in a heavy skillet.  This seals the flavor in rather than having the flavor end up in the cooking water!

Last weekend I posted on a prior blog entry the kinpira recipe for the gobo and also a quick saute for sun chokes. 
I also combine chopped sun chokes with spinach and dairy like yogurt or sour cream and chopped chives or green onions for a dip or spread.  

If you like curry, try cream of parsnip and potato soup with some curry.  Saute some onion with curry, add soup stock , add some minced celery root and chopped potatoes and parsnips.  Simmer until the vegetables are soft and run through a food mill or food processor.  Add some sour cream or yogurt with chopped chive or green onion tops as a garnish.

'Til Next Week, 

Longer Days - Supper to the Field

Ken was out in the field and it is a beautiful day.  So I made supper and packed it to go.  Here is his pasta with creamy cheesy sauce tossed with dandelions and brined red peppers topped with bacon bits and asparagus - the very first - pan grilled in the bacon fat.

And from the groller or growler - a bit of beer, not so much he does not finish the job!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Spring Root Recipes - Burdock and Sun Chokes

When we were in Japan we were introduced to gobo - burdock root.  Japanese people love burdock and told us of its many health benefits: its deep root has lots of minerals and vitamins, it is a great to cleanse in spring for the blood and liver..  The Japanese cooks add gobo to many dishes.  Our favorite was kinpira.  Cut the burdock and some carrot into match stick shapes.  Heat a skillet.  Toast some sesame seeds and set aside.  Add hot pepper flakes and an oil or fat that can take heat.  Add the burdock first as it takes longer to cook.  Once it gets slightly cooked add the carrot

Once both are like al dente pasta, add a teaspoon of sugar and heat to caramelize, but don't burn!  Have some sweet wine to splash into the pan - if yo like it sweeter do a second splash rather than pour in a puddle!

Then add some good tamari or soy sauce.  

Serve with the toasted sesame seeds

Sun chokes are great several ways - raw in salads, made into chips, pickled with garlic and hot peppers and turmeric, and Keppers style!  This recipe was listed in the Madison Area CSA Collective!

Scrub and slice sun chokes.  Heat a skillet and add oil or fat that takes heat.  Add the sliced sun chokes and once they cook a bit add some minced garlic and then add some tamari or good quality soy sauce.  

Serve with chopped chives or green onion tops.

So, here was the local food mid day meal - our chicken, potatoes, burdock, storage carrots, and sun chokes.  Tamari, sugar, salt and pepper purchased.

Progress on Cutting Wood

Today after Ken took the plastic off the hoopettes and I cleaned out a shed, we buzzed up the wood in the yard for the cook stove.  I put the old really dry wood in the north where Sean and Ken had put wood last Fall.

Then I finished the third rick in the central section.

And I started the next section


The cases have small stuff I will put between ricks once I have more than one going.  We use that for kindling.

And the sawdust will also come in handy.

The yard has space... until Ken brings in some more wood he has cleared out in the field and downed branches on trails and such.  Hope to get the racks filled before it gets hot out and we have other pressing work.  The longer the wood dries, the better.

Moving Chickens and Geese to Summer Pasture

Today was moving day, moving the poultry and waterfowl that is!  As with many things this season, it was later than usual.  Ken needed dry roads and wanted well established rye and other grasses before he moved the birds.

First he moved the egg mobile with all the chickens inside.  He moves in creep gear on the tractor so the ride is not too bumpy.

Ken rounds the bend to the field where the mobile high tunnel is and rye is planted.

Yes, that is Oscar under the coop.  What is he doing?
Oscar is trying to herd the enclosed birds

Then we get the poultry netting up.  This is to keep out predators.

Then Ken opens the ramp door and big doors 

He sets up rain barrel and feeders

Chickens on pasture - hens scratching for bugs and rooster watching out for hens.

Then Ken worked on the fencing for the geese.  I came down and helped him some

All these birds are so happy; one can really tell as one watches

Friday, May 16, 2014

We Think It Was a Bear.

Ken mentioned a couple days ago he had seen a bear print on the road to the field.  Today while he was getting things in order for the chickens and geese after we had moved them, I went out to the field to open up the tunnel.  On the way I was noticing the many deer tracks, and then I saw this!

Both Ken and I think it is a bear print.  This is something to watch.  Bears often destroy bee hives.  Most people think bears want the honey, but  the bears are after the brood - that is the young bees in the embryo or larva stage. Bears often turn over stumps and rocks looking for grubs.  Imagine what a treat to find a big box full of food - whether it is a bird feeder full of seed or a bee hive with brood!  Our hives are inside a fence in the yard with many tin cans attached so any disturbance will alert the dog who will alert us.