Monday, July 16, 2007

Organic, does it matter?

Week of July 16

Farm News . . .
We keep a couple hundred laying hens that range out on the pasture year round. Their hen houses are elevated enclosed shelters offering an “open door” to the Rhode Island Red, Plymouth Rock, Black Star, and Araucana hens along with several roosters. Each evening the hens follow their own instincts to roost up off the ground in their house while an electric fence around the pasture protects them from raccoons, skunks or other predators. Daily the eggs are gathered from each nest, cleaned, inspected, cooled ready for distribution that week. The hens’ diet of clover, grass seeds, and insects is supplemented with organic grains to ensure a well-balanced food source. The pastures are maintained organically by chopping out thistles by hand rather than spraying chemical herbicides. The feed grains for our chickens contain absolutely no genetically modified grains (no GMO), no antibiotics or growth enhancers, and of course no byproducts of other animals often used as a protein source in commercial poultry operations. The organic grains for our hens costs substantially more to produce than a typical poultry ration because you get what you pay for – and we want clean, wholesome food for our livestock too! By grazing and pecking green grasses and clovers, our pastured hens produce eggs that are packed with high nutrition. The orange yolk shows the difference of eggs from hens that live outdoors. Lab testing verifies the fatty acid and cholesterol profile on pastured eggs easily surpasses conventional eggs. It is almost like comparing apples to oranges – basically a different food product altogether. The hens’ egg-laying cycles are in sync with nature and they will respond quickly to shorter days, extreme heat, extreme cold, lack of available food or water, and any other environmental stress by reducing production of eggs. They even take a couple of months off annually and do not lay any eggs then.

The health benefit of pastured-raised foods also is available with Elmwood’s certified organic free-range eating chickens. We have a commitment to do things the right way. Not the fast way, nor the cheap way. Success is measured by the taste and nutritional benefits of the chicken, not the efficiency of the process. We think you’ll agree when you experience the best tasting chicken you’ll find anywhere with the benefit of low saturated fat and high omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, whole pastured chickens have significantly higher levels of vitamin A. These are available fresh for the next few weeks and then offered frozen the rest of the year.

Elmwood eggs are offered by the dozen or half-dozen when we have extras over what is already committed to our egg shareholders. We offer several packages of organic beef (half, quarter, or bundle) as well as a combination organic beef and chicken bundle. More information on these packages including expected cuts, size, and pricing is on our
website. If you want to secure local, organic meat for your family freezer this fall, don’t hesitate to let us help you customize your selections.

Basket News
-Your baskets the last 3 weeks have been quite full and way above your average size share. We do not mean to overload you but want to make sure you get the good tasting specialty summer items while they are ready. The heat has changed the expected harvest schedule recently. It is likely that later baskets will have less to balance out your share over the season. Please let us know if you want freezing tips for any veggies.
-Blackberry u-pick should begin next week. There is less than usual due to the April freeze. We will send out notice on E-Mail of days.

In Your Basket
Stringless Green Beans - organic
This week find a pound or two of stringless green beans. You only need to snip the ends and can break them into bite sized pieces before cooking. Simmer in water or sauté in olive oil for fresh flavor.
Yellow Squash and Green Zucchini
This week’s summer squashes are a good indicator of summertime! Slice lengthwise to roast on the grill; put sliced squashes in foil with cauliflower and tomatoes, then throw the packet in the oven or the grill with a little herb seasoning; or find a new recipe below for shaved zucchini.
Sweet Corn !!
We want to keep sending corn while it is available. We never know from week to week if the drought or raccoons will intervene in our harvest plans. Enjoy boiled for only 2-3 minutes then serve with butter and a little black pepper!
Cauliflower – organic
The farm crew’s favorite way to eat is roasting on the grill or oven roasted. Find a new recipe below.
Salad Greens - organic
We have some little lettuces for salads this week – enjoy this pleasant surprise – we’ll see more in the fall plantings.
Peel (if desired) and slice into thin pieces. Put in non-reactive bowl with water and a little vinegar. Cool in your refrigerator and enjoy your cucumbers as a cool side dish.
Red Tomato
This the type of basket that many folks think of back in the winter – corn, beans, and tomatoes. Enjoy sliced tomatoes with a favorite dressing, diced into a tossed green salad, or on sandwiches.

Recipes to enjoy . . .

Harriet’s Hot Roasted Cauliflower
from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors

1 larger or 4 smaller cauliflowers, about 1 pound
olive oil
sea salt

Preheat over to 400. Leave small cauliflowers whole, but slice a larger one into wedges about 1 ½ inches wide at the widest point. Brush with olive oil, season with salt, and place in a baking dish in a single layer. Bake until browned on top, about 25 minutes, then turn to brown the second side (if cut into wedges).

Green Bean Salad with Walnuts and Shaved Parmesan in Lemon Dressing
from Angelic Farm

¼ C coarsely chopped walnuts
1 pound green beans, ends trimmed
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ T freshly squeezed lemon juice, about ½ lemon
3 T extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, thinly shaved, about ½ C

Toast the walnuts in a dry, heavy skillet over high heat until they start to brown in spots and become fragrant. Be careful not to over toast them, as they will burn very quickly. Immediately transfer the nuts to a dish to cool.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the beans and salt; cook until tender but still firm, 3 to 5 minutes (longer for wider and thicker beans like Roma). Transfer the beans to a colander in the sink and run cold water over them.
In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice and olive oil until combined. Pour this mixture over the beans and toss until well coated. Transfer the salad to a serving platter or to individual plates. Gently scatter the Parmesan on top.

Pappardelle with Shrimp and Zucchini
shared by CSA member, Dorothy, this recipe comes from Fine Cooking Magazine. She reports that she used all of the zucchini including the skin. Serves 2 to 3. If you cannot find pappardelle pasta in your local gourmet markets, use fettuccine or egg noodles.

2 medium zucchini, washed and trimmed
6 T extra virgin olive oil
¾ pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined, rinsed,
and patted dry
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
½ lb dried pappardelle
¼ tsp crushed red chile flakes
2 tsp fresh lemon juice; more to taste
15 fresh basil leaves, torn into large pieces
2 ½ ounce thinly sliced prosciutto, cut crosswise
into ½ inch wide strips
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Using a vegetable peeler, gently peel the skin of the zucchini. Pressing as hard as you can, continue to “peel” each zucchini lengthwise to make wide strips about 1/8 inch thick, rotating it as you go. Discard the squared-off seed core.
In a large skillet over high heat, sauté the shrimp, seasoned with salt and pepper, in 1 ½ T oil until firm and pink, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a plate. Lower the heat to medium, add the remaining 4 ½ T oil and the garlic, and cook, swirling the pan, until the garlic browns and the oil is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer all but 1 T of the oil to a small bowl. Raise the heat under the skillet to high, add the chile flakes, and pile in the zucchini strips. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until the strips begin to soften (but don’t let them turn mushy), 1 to 2 minutes.
Finish cooking the pappardelle until it’s just tender, about 5 minutes total. Drain and add to the shrimp, along with the zucchini, lemon juice, and reserved garlic oil. Toss gently. Stir in the basil and the prosciutto, taste for salt and pepper, and serve immediately.