Monday, July 30, 2007

Makin' Compost

Farm News . . .
We sometimes are asked about our organic production practices as it relates to compost, cattle, and soil amendments. We make compost here on our farm that we sell to other farmers, landscapers, and home-owners. We also use it ourselves in our organic system of crop rotation and building healthy soils. We lay out long rows of agricultural matter-mostly vegetable culls and used hay from neighboring horse farms. Once our ingredients are compiled, we begin turning our compost rows with our tractor-pulled compost turner. We monitor the temperature, carbon dioxide, and moisture of each row. Early in the process we may turn the pile daily as it heats up, later on we turn it weekly. Once finished composting, it is a stable product – entirely different than the raw ingredients we started off with. We have our compost lab tested for nutrient and microbial makeup as well as any pathogens. We spread the compost on our fields using the timetables before the next harvestable crop set out in our certified organic farm plan. We do not spread manure on any of our farm. Let us know if you want to learn more about the production or use of compost!

In Your Basket . . .

Celery – organic
This green cutting celery variety will impress you with its full flavor and crisp stalks. If you have never had fresh-picked celery you will be surprised that it can pack such a flavorful punch! The leaves are used as well as the stalk in place of fresh herbs. Stalks can be sautéed or braised or chopped finely for your salad recipes.
Carrots – organic

Enjoy these sweet carrots as a healthy snack. Though very popular they are difficult to grow for a variety of reasons. Your share of this crop survived the early drought; we expect more later in the fall. Carrots will keep in your refrigerator up to a month and are a good source of Vit. A and beta-carotene.
Red Onion – organic
These mild purplette red onions are meant to be used soon as a fresh onion rather than a storage onion. They will add a sweet flavor to any roasted veggie medley. Refrigerate as you would a green onion.

Included this week is either glossy black or true white eggplant. It is low in calories, high in fiber, and not a source of many vitamins or minerals. It will store refrigerated for up to a week. Cut into chunks and oven-roast with other veggies or slice for the grill. Find a recipe below.
Green Beans - organic

This week’s green beans are an heirloom variety of pole beans. These corn field beans were tradi-tionally planted along side the field corn to use the corn stalk as its trellis. You do need to remove the string along each side of the bean before cooking. Break the end and pull the string down until it snaps off the other end. Break the beans into bite-sized pieces – checking then to see if any more string needs to be pulled. If any pods are too dried out, shell out the bean and add it to your pot, then discard the pod.
Roma Tomato – organic

These meaty paste-type tomatoes are the favorite for juicing, canning, making sauce or salsa. Less juice and more solids result in more flavor. Romas can be oven roasted, oven-dried, dehydrated, or eaten fresh.
Garlic – organic

This week’s variety is a soft neck – often you may see this type braided for a decorative display. Try roasting your whole garlic head in the oven to use as a spread on crusty bread.
Sweet Corn
This week’s bi-color corn has an extra sweet flavor. The varieties of corn that we choose to grow are not genetically modified. We try to find those that are tender, delicious, and the seed is produced through traditional breeding techniques.

EXTRA Basket:
Hot Peppers
More Jalapeño and Serrano hot peppers to choose from this week.
Sweet Corn
We expect to not have a corn harvest for the next couple of weeks since the rains pushed it along to all be ready now. It is rather unusual to have this much-desired item in surplus, but we do, so enjoy some extra!

Recipes to Enjoy . . .
Broiled Eggplant with Crunchy Parmesan Crust
from Angelic Organics Kitchen

oil for greasing a baking sheet
eggplant, cut into ¼ inch slices
freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about ½ C)

Preheat the broiler. Lightly oil a baking sheet. Spread mayonnaise sparingly on both sides of each eggplant slice, and then dip the slices in the grated Parmesan cheese, thoroughly coating both sides. Arrange the slices in a single layer on the oiled baking sheet and place under the broiler until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip the slices and broil until golden brown and crunchy on top and the eggplant is soft, about 3 minutes more.

Garlic Aioli
This spread can be used to liven up sandwiches, wraps, dabble on fritters, or even the broiled eggplant above. Adapted from a recipe in Martha Stewart Living. that uses raw egg yolks, we suggest coddling the eggs before using.

1 small head garlic
2 C plus 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
¾ tsp coarse salt
2 T plus 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 T heavy cream

Prehat the oven to 375 degrees. Place garlic on a piece of parchment set over a piece of foil, and drizzle with 2 tsp oil. Fold and crimp to enclose. Roast until tender, about 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, squeeze cloves from skins.(Put water in saucepan and heat on medium-high until boiling. Drop eggs gently into the boiling water for one minute until slightly gelled. Remove and run under cold water to cool and stop cooking. Remove egg yolks and follow recipe.)

Process garlic, egg yolks, and salt in a food processor until combined. With machine running, gradually add remaining 2 C oil, drop by drop at first and then in a slow, steady stream, until emulsified. Stir in lemon juice and cream. Aioli can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 2 days; do not leave unrefrigerated for longer than 1 hour.

Note: A shortcut for aioli is to add the roasted garlic cloves to mayonnaise in a food processor. Continue adding a little mayonnaise until the desired flavor and consistency is reached.

Simple Tomato Sauce
Also from Martha Stewart, this recipe can be doubled easily to match your available tomatoes.
6 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T minced garlic
3 pounds ripe plum/paste tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 8 C)
coarse salt
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, and cook 20 seconds (do not let brown). Stir in tomatoes and 2 tsp salt. Raise heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer vigorously, stirring frequently, until sauce has reduced and thickened slightly, 15 to 20 minutes. If a smoother sauce is desired, pass it through a food mill. Season with salt if desired. Let cool. Sauce can be stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.