Monday, September 26, 2016

CSA News, Week 22

More Good Things to Come
The summer share season is ending just as the first real feeling of fall-like weather descends on the Bluegrass. The partnership we have with you is a very important part of our farming business. You made not only the financial commitment last spring that helped us get started this season, but also the commitment to secure your share each week and nourish your family with wholesome, organic produce all summer. We are committed to producing the foods, delivering them on time, and educating you about them. Whether you sign up for the fall season share, or come to the market or both, we have lots of great crops growing in the fields, and we hope to serve you well into the winter, if not all year. (We will be at markets in Lexington and Cincinnati all year!)

We strive to send a good mix of items each week for balanced nutrition as much as for good flavors. Given the vagaries of the weather, our plant-production practices, and harvest- and packing-labor demands, it can be quite challenging to hit the high standards we set for ourselves each season. We have a philosophy of always giving you a little more than the mathematical minimum of what you paid for. When the lettuces seemed to all ripen at the same time, you got extra. The timing of the sweet corn and berry harvests, for example, can make the shares different each day of the week, but we keep track to be sure everyone gets their fair share.

We will soon be asking you to respond to a survey about this season's experience. The feedback from you will guide our decision making this winter to prepare for next year. We review the surveys carefully, take all comments into consideration and look for trends. Constructive criticism is well received. The occasional jabs are hard to not take personally, and positive comments are exhilarating and motivational, much like conversations at the market.

On the Farm
With one of the top-10 wettest Augusts and a top-10 driest September on the books, our well-laid plans were challenged, to say the least. The extended hot-dry weather pattern has required us to irrigate fields just so we can work the ground and plant the plants or seeds. It has been difficult to dig potatoes and sweet potatoes with the ground so hard. The cooler weather this week makes us and the plants feel better, and lest we not forget, first frost is just a few weeks away. That being said, the early Fall CSA shares will still have tomatoes and other summer-season goodies for the first few weeks. We begin the baby-ginger harvest in October, so look for it in your fall share, or at the market, if the harvest is bountiful.

The farm tours and tour/dinners we offered this year have been well received by those who participated. Some have come back several times to see the progression of the season. Hosting the tours gave us an opportunity to demonstrate the biological principles our farming systems are built on in a way that our guests can see, feel and remember.

Each tour has a theme and is scripted to ensure we stay on target and on time. On the Good Bug: Bad Bug tour, entomologist Dr. Ric Bessin, from UK, explained insect life cycles, interactions between good guys and bad guys, and the harmful effects of toxic pesticides on these ecosystems. He not only confirmed we are doing a great job of managing the habitat, but it was like a National Geographic movie coming to life for those on the tour.  Having professional scientists like Dr. Bessin and Dr. Rob Paratley, our UK Department of Forestry expert on the tree tour, elevated the conversation exponentially. Our plans are to build on what we learned as hosts this year and provide an even richer experience next year.

We will round out this year's tours in October with a focus on the role livestock play on the farm on October 6 and on turkeys for the Chef John Foster dinner and farm tour on October 18. (Find details about these tours at

Behind the Scenes
We are fortunate to have hired some outstanding, enthusiastic and intelligent young people to join us in providing good food, fun markets and educational opportunities. I hope you have met them at one of the markets, but they also spend a lot of time compiling production and sales data, editing these newsletters and the website, initiating the e-newsletter, pulling restaurant and other special orders together, and countless other tasks required for us to do what we do. There is a lot of responsibility that goes with employing such talented individuals—now we know how Coach Calipari must feel—but the benefits and rewards they bring to us, and you, by extension, are off the charts.

Thanks, again, for your continued support as CSA shareholders. You are our prime, number-one customers. If we have limited quantity of something, it goes into your shares, not to the market. (Regular farmers-market egg customers are wishing they had signed up for an egg share right now.) There is a tremendous amount of produce yet to come out of the fields this year, while next year’s production is already in the works. All of us at Elmwood Stock Farm are working diligently to bring you the best of the best in one form or another. Let us know what you think, and invite your friends and family to invest in their health by joining our CSA. Remember: Food is Medicine! —Mac Stone

In Your Share

Green Beans
Sweet Potatoes


Sweet Potato-Stuffed Eggplant, adapted from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

2 eggplants
2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, diced
½ T. ground coriander
1 tsp. chopped fresh lemon thyme
pinch of red chile flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. tomato paste
1 large tomato, blanched, peeled, seeded and diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely grated
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 bay leaf
2 oz. Emmentaler cheese, grated (divided)
1 T. chopped cilantro

Slice each eggplant in half lengthwise. Scoop out flesh, making sure to keep outer skin of eggplants intact. Transfer flesh to a board and chop; set aside. Sprinkle inside of eggplants with sea salt and turn them over; leave them alone for 30 minutes.
In a sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery, ground coriander, lemon thyme and chile flakes. Cook, without browning, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, tomato paste and tomato and continue to cook 4 minutes, stirring. Add carrot, sweet potato, eggplant flesh and bay leaf, and season with sea salt. Cover and simmer about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft. Discard bay leaf. Stir in three-quarters of the cheese and the cilantro.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Stuff eggplant skins with the cooked vegetables and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Place stuffed eggplants in an oven dish, and drizzle with remaining oil. Pour a little water in bottom of dish and bake in preheated oven, 45 to 50 minutes, until nicely colored on top.

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup, adapted from The Food Network

Assuming cool days are on the horizon, this soup would be nice served with crusty local bread.

3 T. good olive oil
¾ c. chopped red onion
1 carrot, unpeeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lb. tomatoes, coarsely chopped
¾ tsp. sugar
1 T. tomato paste
⅛ c. packed chopped, fresh basil leaves, plus julienned basil leaves, for garnish
1 ½ c. chicken or vegetable stock
½ T. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ c. heavy cream

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add onions and carrots, and sauté for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, stock, salt and pepper, and stir well. Bring soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.
Add the cream to the soup, and process it through a food mill into a bowl, discarding only the dry pulp that's left. (Use an immersion blender or regular blender if you don’t have a food mill.) Reheat soup over low heat, just until hot, and serve with julienned basil leaves.

Roasted Bell Peppers, adapted from Tori Avey

Many recipes call for roasted, peeled, seeded bell peppers like the ones you find packed in oil in a jar at the grocery store. This is an easy way to make your own.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with foil. Lay peppers on their sides on the foil. Roast for 40 minutes, flipping peppers halfway through. The skin should be charred and soft, and the peppers should look slightly collapsed.
Place the peppers on a cutting board with a large bowl upside down over them to trap the steam inside. Steam for 15 minutes.
Slice the pepper vertically from top to bottom and split the pepper open so it becomes one long strip. Pull the stem and clump of seeds from the top of the pepper. Rinse or use a towel to wipe off loose seeds that remain inside the pepper. Peel off the charred skin--you should be able to pull this off easily with your fingers. Slice the peppers into strips.
Put them in a jar and cover them with olive oil to keep in the refrigerator for a few days.

CSA #21, Week of September 19, 2016

Workin’ Cattle

We make little mention about our animals in this produce share newsletter, but it is important to address the idea that cattle are a valuable resource at Elmwood Stock Farm. They not only convert solar energy into wholesome meat, they are a valuable tool in our vegetable-production toolbox. From nutrient cycling to weed eaters, the services they perform keep us from having to do it.
The momma cows grew up here, so they know every nook and cranny of the farm, probably better than we do. And there is no better place than the Central Bluegrass region to raise them. The hilly lands on the farm are maintained as permanent pasture, never to see a plow, because the erosion potential is too high. This wisdom has been handed down for generations, meaning some fields look just as they did decades ago. There is a large portion of Elmwood Stock Farm in pasture, and we are glad to have it.
To our farm-tour guests, these seem like idle grassy areas. These areas are far from idle, though. The roots of the plants that grow there year-round hold the soil firmly in place. These plants also convert solar energy into complex carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals though the photosynthesis process. The soils of the Inner Bluegrass have a balance of nutrients particularly beneficial to livestock that consume the forages grown on them. That’s why the horse industry developed in this region.
Our forefathers went into the cattle business, and the animals in the herd we have today are the offspring of those that came before them. For decades, the best young females have been kept back as replacement heifers, based on their conformation, disposition, and a whole host of intangibles of how their momma, grandmomma and daddy performed: good mothering, good milker, strong bone structure, and the ability to perform well in a grass-based system, to name a few.
Much is known about each individual cow; many stories can be told. They all have numbers, have their place in the pecking order, have unique quirks, yet collectively, they are managed as a herd. In the early days, Elmwood Stock Farm built a reputation for selling quality bulls to nearby farms as herd sires. Since the bull represents 50 percent of the genetics of a commercial cowherd, we are proud to have had a positive impact on other farms.
These are beasts, some well over a thousand pounds, that eat a lot. We have evolved in our thinking on how best to feed them. First, they are divided into groups based on their stage of life, which translates into their required plane of nutrition and annual reproductive cycles. Second, we move each group from pasture to pasture as they graze down the forage available to them.
Nursing and pregnant mothers get moved to fresh grass every few days. We do this with temporary electric fence systems that are a quick and easy way to divide up a field. The decision on where the fence goes is dependent on how big the paddock needs to be for two to three days of grazing, which is dependent on how tall, thick and lush the grass is. When the calves are weaned at 7 or 8 months, they go off as a group of their own and are given their own rotation of fresh forage every few days. As the weanlings mature, we often have several groups based on size and forage availability. The mature bulls hang out in lush, expansive bull lots, impatiently waiting the next breeding season.
There is a shared understanding within the herds as to how this rotation thing works. The cows are keenly aware when the field they are in is eaten down or picked over. When they hear the Kubota coming, even before they can see it, they begin moving toward the place they think access to their next paddock will be gained. We generally have the next couple of paddocks laid out ahead of time, so when it is time to move, it is as simple as rolling up the wire on a spool and allowing the group to flow into the fresh field. We gauge how aggressively they begin eating to see if we made them wait too long or, if they're not hungry, not long enough. This is a balancing act, as we want them to stay long enough to eat more weeds, but we do not want to compromise their nutrient intake. Either way, there is no need to herd the herd; they freely move on their own.
So, how does all this impact your vegetable share? Winter hay feeding moves the nutrients to where they are most beneficial—next year's vegetable fields. The herd gleans the produce from the crop fields in the fall and destroy any weeds there that they do not eat.

If you get a bunch of cattle farmers together, the phrase “workin’ cattle” means herding them into corral to give them shots and stuff. At Elmwood Stock Farm, it means they are doing work to help us grow vegetables and convert forage into food. —Mac Stone

In Your Share

Green Beans
Heirloom Corn Meal
Kale Greens
Pea Shoots
Bell Pepper
Sweet Potatoes


Coconut Curried Sweet Potato and Lentil Stew, Ambitious Kitchen

1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1” cubes
1 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. fresh grated ginger
½ T. curry powder
¼ tsp. turmeric
¼ tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1¾  c. vegetable broth
¾ c. green lentils
¼ c. canned coconut milk
⅛ tsp. cinnamon

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot and half of the diced sweet potatoes. Sauté until the onions begin to soften and turn translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, curry powder, turmeric and salt. Sauté for 2 minutes longer, stirring frequently. Add broth and lentils, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer 30-45 minutes or until lentils are tender. While stew is simmering, make the coconut-sweet potato broth: Place a medium pot over high heat and fill with water, bring water to a boil and add remaining sweet potatoes. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and continue to cook for about 8 minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender and nearly falling apart. Once tender, drain water from sweet potatoes, and place them in a food processor. Add coconut milk and cinnamon, and purée until it forms a somewhat smooth consistency. Next add the sweet potato coconut purée to the stew, and continue to cook to thicken broth a bit. The stew is done when all of the lentils are tender and the broth has thickened. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Scoop into bowls, and garnish with Greek yogurt, if desired.

Kale-sadilla, adapted from Simply Recipes
Serve this Mexican-inspired meal with a cucumber, pepper and tomato salsa.

1 T. olive oil
⅓ c. finely chopped bell pepper
⅓ c. finely chopped onion
pinch of ground cumin
1½ c. thinly sliced kale (center rib removed before slicing)
¼ tsp. butter
¾ c. grated mild cheddar
2 tortillas

Sauté pepper and onion in olive oil over medium-high heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with ground cumin. Add kale, and toss to combine. Cook 1 minute more on medium-high, then turn heat to low and cover the pan. Cook for 2 more minutes, until kale is cooked through and softened. Remove from heat. Heat a large cast-iron pan on medium-high to high heat. Spread butter over the bottom of the pan. Place a flour tortilla in the pan, and heat until you see bubbles of air pockets starting to form. Flip the tortilla over, and lower the heat to medium. Sprinkle tortilla with half of the cheese. Place a couple scoops of the kale mixture on one half of the tortilla. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the side with the kale. Press down with a spatula. When the cheese on one side has melted, flip the tortilla over to the other side. When the cheese on that side has melted, remove to a cutting board and repeat with the other tortilla and the remaining cheese and filling. Cut the kale-sadilla into thirds and serve.

One Pot Sweet Potato, Tomato and Kale Rice Skillet, adapted from ADashofMegnut

1 lb. sweet potatoes, cut into ¾“ cubes (about 1 cup)
1 t. olive oil
2 t. cumin
12 oz. kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 c. uncooked white rice
2 c. vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, preheat oil over medium heat. Add the sweet potatoes and cumin. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until sweet potatoes are seared on all sides. Add chopped kale to the pot and stir until it is wilted. Then add in diced tomatoes and chickpeas and stir until combined. Then, add the uncooked rice. Pour the chicken broth over the skillet and stir until completely combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover pan with a lid and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20-25 minutes, until rice is fluffy and the chicken broth is mostly absorbed. You may need to stir one or two times throughout the cooking so that the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. Serve immediately.

CSA #20, Week of September 12, 2016

Fall Colors
As the first few cool mornings have welcomed us to fall, we are grateful, especially after such a long, hot, wet summer growing season. Now it is time to think about all the fun foods that coincide with the fabulous fall foliage. Some of the crops were planted long ago, others more recently, and some are still in the seed packets. Lest we not forget, Old Man Winter lays in wait, so now is the time to secure your share of the fantastic flavors, colors and nutrient-dense foods still to come this year.

Most commonly, people think of pumpkins, gourds and dry corn fodder shocks for decorations when thinking of fall. We think about butternut and spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, great greens, and the return of the lettuces. Garlic is hanging in the barn to be taken down and cleaned, as needed. The various varieties of winter squash, with their kaleidoscope of colors, were planted back in July with the intent for them to mature during the cooler weather of September and October. The late fall harvest is beneficial in two ways. The fruits tend to have more flavor when they ripen in cool, dry weather, and their hard shells allow them to be stored well into winter, providing excellent nutrition for several months after harvest.

Many colors of fall exist underground, as well. Purple, red, gold and white potatoes are yet to be dug. We began their harvest a few weeks back, so we have some idea of what to expect with each digging. The purple, red and orange sweet potatoes lay in wait. The sweet-potato slips were planted in June, the vines covered the field by August, and then the rains helped the little weeds we missed with the cultivators turn into monstrosities scattered throughout the field. But we have no idea what we will find to harvest until later this week, when we hand-dig a few test plants. Most crops, we can kind of tell how they are performing, but sweet potatoes is more like fishing: You are not sure what you will find until they come to the surface.

Many other underground treasures await us, as well. Late-planted beets of many colors prefer the cool weather, and with less weed pressure, the tops will be lush and scrumptious. We also intend to harvest many types of winter radishes, be they Spanish black, white daikons or—everyone’s favorite—the watermelon radish. These, too, are long keepers, like the winter squash, although the radishes need to be kept under refrigeration. Once they have sized up, we will begin to harvest them and then bring them all into the packing shed coolers before the ground freezes.

But the most beautiful color of all for fall is green. Kales, lettuces, broccoli, cabbages. As we said in the opening of the season newsletter back in May, we make no apologies for providing lots of greens. They are arguably the most powerful food you can consume. The cooler weather is more to their liking and actually improves not only their taste but their nutrient density, as well.

Come join us on one of our farm tours, so you can get a better feel for how all this comes together for us to provide for you and your families. The colors of fall will soon be all around us, as well as in your kitchen.  Mac Stone

In Your Share

Fresh Herb: Basil
Bell Pepper
Spaghetti Squash


Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with Tomato and Ground Beef, adapted from The Cookie Writer

1 spaghetti squash
1 lb. ground beef
half a green pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 portobello mushroom, halved and sliced
2 lb. tomatoes, diced
salt & pepper
½ tsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp. fresh oregano
¼ tsp. cayenne
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Stab a knife into the spaghetti squash randomly about half a dozen times to allow steam to release. Place on a baking sheet, and cook 30-40 minutes, or until a knife can pierce the skin easily. Slice in half and allow to cool. Remove seeds with a spoon. Run a fork along the inside of the squash to create the “spaghetti” strands.
Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook for a couple of minutes. Add tomatoes, onions, garlic and mushrooms. Cook until meat is browned. Mix in green pepper, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with thyme, oregano and cayenne. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F. Add the sauce on top of your prepared squash halves. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Bake for 10 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is melted.

Celery Soda, adapted from Food52

If you’re wondering what to do with all of those celery leaves, this could be the most creative use we’ve yet to come across.

Simple Syrup:                                                                       Soda:
½ c. packed celery leaves                                            1 oz. celery simple syrup
1 c. sugar                                                                             1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 c. water                                                                             8 oz. sparkling water

Simple Syrup:
Simmer all syrup ingredients until sugar dissolves. Strain celery leaves from syrup and discard. Let syrup cool. (This will keep in a closed container in the fridge for 1 month.)

Combine soda ingredients, and serve immediately over ice.

Farro and Cucumber Salad, adapted from Bon Appetit

Substitute farro and caraway seeds with ingredients on your shelf such as rice, quinoa, or sunflower seeds.

1 c. farro
salt & pepper
2 c. 1-inch pieces pumpernickel bread
5 T. olive oil, divided
1 t. caraway seeds
1 t. white wine vinegar
1 t. Dijon mustard
½ t. honey
1 large cucumber, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 baby beets, very thinly sliced
¼ c. dill sprigs
¼ c. parsley leaves

Cook farro in a medium pot of boiling salted water until tender but still al dente, 30–40 minutes. Drain and let cool.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°. Toss bread with 2 tablespoons oil on a rimmed baking sheet, squeezing bread to help it absorb oil; season with salt and pepper. Toast until crisp but not hard, 10–15 minutes. Let cool.
Toast caraway seeds in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Coarsely chop caraway seeds. Whisk vinegar, mustard, honey, and chopped caraway seeds in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in remaining 3 tablespoons oil; season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
Toss cucumbers, beets, dill, parsley, farro, croutons, and dressing in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.
DO AHEAD: Farro can be cooked 3 days ahead. Vinaigrette can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill. 

CSA #19, Week of September 5, 2016

Conservation as the Cornerstone

We speak often about crop rotation and organic principles around plant production in these newsletters, yet recently we realized we have not gone into much detail about conservation measures we employ to be good stewards of the land. We are blessed with magnificent soil here at Elmwood Stock Farm, and we do everything we can to improve it as we convert solar energy into nutritious foods for you and, by extension, human energy.
In our animal- and crop-rotation plan, each acre of land has its assigned purpose. Every eight years, we plow down alfalfa hay fields and plant them in our rows of little vegetable seeds or transplanted seedlings. This is obviously disrupting to the plants, insects, microbes and aggregate soil particles that have called it home for so many years. We most often use a moldboard plow, which basically undercuts the field about 8 inches deep and flips it upside down. The nutrients released from the now-decomposing plants and all the related biota immediately start re-colonizing the underground rhizosphere to give a good start to the little plants that we're about to put into the soil.

Good soil conservation dictates that the ground is always worked on the contours of the slope of the field. For the initial tillage, we use a five-bottom 16-inch plow. This leaves the field rough, which helps spring rains infiltrate easily, reducing the risk of erosion as long as the rows are perpendicular to the slope. If one were to plow up and down the slope, the lower area between the humps of each plowshare would act like a gutter and erode a gully every 16 inches, effectively washing away tons of topsoil. These same dips between the plowshare humps act like little berms that hold water until it has time to infiltrate the soil.

Secondary tillage to smooth the surface and prepare a seed bed is also done on the contour for the same reason. This is not as easy as it sounds, given the undulating hills and slopes of the topography of the Bluegrass Region. Working soils when too wet can ruin the structure of the soil, and tillage does not work well when too dry. A “good farmer” is steadfast in limiting erosion while prepping the fields in a timely fashion for spring planting.

Planting on the contours is equally important, whether the plants are growing on bare ground or, even more importantly, in strips of plastic mulch. Since the plastic sheds rainwater, it is important to encourage the water not to collect and run down a slope, so we use the raised-bed berms of plastic to hold the water in place to infiltrate and nourish the plant roots underneath. Bare-ground plantings get cultivated several times a year, which loosens the soil, making it at risk of erosion which is why contour farming is so critical.

Understanding individual fields on a farm means becoming familiar with the lay of the land. Fields that require little consideration to all of this are said to lay well. Some fields have variable slope patterns and/or variable soil types, which require more attention to detail. Sometimes, we will have several row patterns in the same field. We might also leave a portion of the field in sod, where the water naturally drains away, letting the established plants and their roots hold the soil in place. These are called sod waterways; you should see them in some fields as you drive through the countryside.

The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which used to be called the Soil Conservation Service, has funds available to incentivize farmers to employ conservation measures on their farms. Wind breaks save lots of soil loss in the Great Plains and are, therefore, a good investment in national food security. In our area, programs are available to offset the cost of various erosion-control measures, plant beneficial-insect habitat, employ cover-cropping systems and more. These investments in stabilizing the soil, for the good of society, date back to the Dust Bowl years. What a wakeup call that was.

Here at Elmwood Stock Farm, we have six, going on seven, generations of good farming techniques bred into our heritage. Our few inches of topsoil are our livelihood. First and foremost, we do everything we can to keep it in place.  Building the organic matter, increasing the diversity of microbes that develop structure within the soil particles, rotating crops with differing types of root structures, and long rest periods in hay and pasture are other tools we have to maintain, if not build, soil. This gets to the art of farming. In The Gift of Good Land, Wendell Berry says: “We have neglected the truth that a good farmer is a craftsman of the highest order, a kind of artist.” In a past conversation with Wendell, he referred to us as good farmers, and for that we are very proud.  Mac Stone

In Your Share

Green Beans
Collard Greens
Sweet Corn
Fresh Herb: Sage
Bell Pepper
Delicata Squash

Orzo with Kale and Roasted Tomatoes, adapted from Tasty Kitchen
Serve this warm as a main dish or cold as a side salad.

12 Roma tomatoes, cut into 1-in. pieces
½ tsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves thinly sliced
¼ c. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3 c. dry orzo
2 oz. Parmesan cheese, shaved or grated

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Place tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or lightly oiled. Sprinkle with sugar and salt. Roast 1 ½ to 2 hours, until tomatoes are dried, wilted and slightly dark at the edges.
Prepare orzo according to package directions.
Heat olive oil in a small pan over medium-low. Add garlic and stir until just fragrant, then turn off the heat and let cool.
In a large bowl, massage kale with salt for 30 seconds or so to tenderize. Add the cooked orzo and garlic oil. Stir and taste. Add salt to your preference. Very gently stir in the tomatoes and most of the Parmesan. Top with the rest of the Parmesan and serve.

Thai Coconut Delicata Squash and Green Beans, adapted from Eat Well, Enjoy Life

2 c. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 ½-in. lengths
1 T. coconut oil
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion, chopped
¼ c. chopped ginger
1-2 medium Serrano chiles, seeded and minced
1 T. red Chili sauce (or to taste)
3 c. delicata squash, chopped into 1-in. cubes
1 c. canned, full-fat coconut milk  
¼ tsp. black mustard seeds (optional)  

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the green beans, and cook 3 minutes, until crisp tender. Drain.
Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, ginger and peppers. Sauté 2 minutes on medium-low until fragrant. Add chili paste and stir. Add squash and ½ cup water, cover, and steam until squash is medium-tender, about 4 minutes. Add coconut milk and a little salt. Bring to a very gentle simmer and immediately turn to low. Add beans. Simmer, uncovered, about 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender and the sauce is slightly thickened. Don’t allow the mixture to come to a rolling boil or it will curdle.  Serve topped with mustard seeds.

Lemon-Cucumber Cake, adapted from Veggie Desserts

Cake:                                                                                    Icing:
half a large cucumber                                                    ⅓ c. butter, softened
zest and juice of half a lemon                                       1 ½ c. powdered sugar
⅔ c. butter, softened                                                        1 T. gin or lemon juice
¾ c. granulated sugar
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 ¾ c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease 9-inch cake pan. Wash and leave the skin on the cucumber and de-seed it by cutting it in half lengthways and scraping the seeds out with a teaspoon. Cut into chunks and purée until smooth. Stir in lemon juice. In a large bowl, cream together butter, lemon zest, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating each one in well. In a medium bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Add ⅓ of the flour mixture to butter mixture, then gently mix in ⅓ of the cucumber to butter mixture, and continue until all ingredients are combined. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, and turn out on a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Beat butter, sugar, and gin or lemon juice together until smooth and fluffy. Keep in the fridge until ready to ice the cake.

CSA #18, Week of August 29, 2016

Push Me, Pull You

Through this newsletter, our farm tours and our everyday conversations, we are dedicated to informing our shareholders about the value of consuming organic foods. We describe the biological systems at the foundation of farming systems, including the various methods of managing nutrients, with the hope of connecting your personal values and health with your little piece of the earth. The methods you use to choose your food are a vital part of a sound food system. Little decisions about what food to eat may seem trivial, but there is nothing further from the truth.

All the stars are lining up about the health benefits of consuming certified-organic foods. Be it pesticide-free fruits and vegetables or grass-fed meat and milk, the medical community is getting on board with the message. Not one Saturday farmers market goes by without at least one customer coming to the booth looking for these foods on the advice of his doctor. Please do not wait for a diagnosis of the need; avoid the diagnosis altogether. Food is medicine!

The decision to eat compromised foods because organic foods are expensive or hard to find no longer holds water. What could be easier than picking up a box, or bag, chock-full of wholesome, organic veggies once a week, with pastured meats and eggs right alongside? The CSA farm-share business model works for the farm, yes, but it also works for the consumer. If you want more of a certain item in your CSA share or something not in your share, we are always at the farmers market on the weekend, year round, or just a phone call away. Good Foods Co-op and Whole Foods Market partner with local, organic growers like us to ensure you have access, as well. They go the extra mile to source organic foods from other organic farmers across the country to stock the shelves during our off-season, because it is that important. Think of the millions of pounds of toxic, synthetic fertilizers and the thousands of gallons of toxic, synthetic pesticides that are no longer being thrust into the environment because each of you made the decision to eat organic food.

The idea that organic foods in the grocery are somehow less organic than local-organic is wrong. The integrity of the regulated organic-food system is beyond reproach. The documentation and inspection methodology is the same for them as it is us. Trust it! The organic lettuce farms in California and the organic peach farms in Colorado we know have developed very sophisticated methods of growing these foods for the wholesale market, and we seek them out any time we don’t have those items from right here at home. I doubt any of you would walk into CarMax and ask for the cheapest car on the lot without consideration of the dependability of the engine and drivetrain, braking systems, emissions, fuel economy and safety features—much less comfort, sound systems and air conditioning. Please do not be misled by “no spray” or “organic methods” signage you might see at a farmers market. You will not see this kind of greenwashing in retail outlets for a reason: It cannot be verified. The more people who make food choices with the same level of scrutiny as they do vehicle choices, the more these foods will be available.

The Organic Association of Kentucky (OAK) is dedicated to making more organic foods available in Kentucky by helping farmers transition their farming methods to be compliant with organic regulations. The OAK Board of Directors (of which I'm president) has obtained funding to train and hire consultants to go farm to farm to make this happen. OAK’s mission also guides us to educate consumers about the value of organic eating. These two objectives come together at Whole Foods Market in Louisville on August 31, and in Lexington on September 7, as OAK is the beneficiary of their “5% Day,” which means 5% of their net receipts for those days will go to OAK. What a wonderful way to close the loop on a local and organic food system right here in the Commonwealth.

Your support of Elmwood Stock Farm has allowed us to create a viable food-production system. By buying local, organic foods, your investment not only helps us, but also the local economy, improves public health and curbs the use of toxic chemicals in the Bluegrass Region. You are a valuable part of developing a sound food system right here in the Bluegrass. By purchasing organic foods at retail outlets, you are developing systematic supply chains that support organic farmers of other crops in other regions. As you pull our products into your kitchens, we will push more out there for you. —Mac Stone

In Your Share

Brussels Sprouts
Collard or Kale Greens
Spaghetti Squash


Bruschetta, adapted from Chowhound

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 T. olive oil
6 medium Roma tomatoes (about 1 ½ lbs.), cored, seeded, and small dice
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp. salt, plus more as needed
¼ tsp. pepper, plus more as needed
8 ounces crusty Italian bread, cut crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices
2 T. olive oil
1 medium garlic clove
6 to 8 basil leaves

Place balsamic vinegar in a medium, nonreactive bowl, and whisk in olive oil in a slow stream. Add tomatoes, garlic and measured salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Set aside at room temperature. Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium high (about 375 to 425 degrees F). Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Very lightly brush the tops of the bread using 1 tablespoon of the oil. Flip over the bread and brush with the remaining oil. Generously season one side only with salt and pepper. Place the bread on the grill (reserve the baking sheet), and cook until grill marks appear and the bread is toasted and crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Return the grilled bread to the reserved baking sheet, seasoned-side up, and rub the seasoned sides with the garlic clove. Divide the tomato mixture evenly among the bread slices. Tear the basil leaves into bite-sized pieces and sprinkle over the bruschetta. Cut bread into smaller pieces, if desired, and serve.

Potato-Leek Soup, adapted from EveryDay with Rachael Ray

This soup is the quintessential leek dish, and Rachael Ray’s addition of zucchini turns it into a perfect cold soup for the summer.

1 lb. potatoes, cut into ½-in. pieces
1 bunch leeks, white and light-green parts chopped
½ lb. zucchini, sliced
½ c. plain yogurt
2 T. chopped chives

In a large saucepan, bring 5 cups water, the potatoes, leeks, zucchini and 2 teaspoons salt to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Using a blender and working in batches, purée the soup. Refrigerate until chilled. Serve with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of chives.

Braised Cucumbers with Dill, adapted from Food & Wine

1 ½ T. unsalted butter
1 medium leek, white and pale-green parts only, cut into 1/2-in. dice
3 pounds cucumbers—peeled in stripes; halved, seeded and cut crosswise ½-in. thick
2 T. chopped dill

In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add leeks and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until tender, 4 minutes. Stir in cucumbers, the remaining butter and 2 tablespoons of water. Season with salt. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until the cucumbers are crisp-tender, 3 minutes. Uncover and cook over moderately high heat until liquid evaporates, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl, stir in dill, and serve.

Potato, Tomato and Onion Casserole, adapted from Memorie di Angelina

If you have a terra-cotta baking dish, this is the recipe for which to use it!

½ lb. potatoes, peeled and sliced
½ lb. onion, sliced
½ lb. tomatoes, sliced, seeds discarded
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
salt & pepper
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a baking dish with a bit of olive oil. Place a layer of sliced onion in the bottom of the dish, and drizzle with olive oil. Place a layer of potato on top of the onions, then a layer of tomatoes. Sprinkle with garlic, oregano leaves, salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Repeat until you use up all the ingredients—but for the top layer, mix potatoes and tomatoes in a decorative pattern. Add enough water to fill about halfway up the height of the ingredients.  Sprinkle the top layer with breadcrumbs, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake, on convection heat, if possible, for about 45-60 minutes, until the ingredients are cooked, most of the liquid evaporates and the top is nicely browned. Let cool 10-15 minutes before serving.