Monday, August 27, 2007

Farm Chef

Farm News . . .

This is the second season that Taylor has prepared the mid-day meal for all the farm crew, and farm family each day. With a background in fine dining restaurants and dealing with wholesale purveyors, Taylor really appreciates the access to fresh ingredients. He especially notes the increased freshness and better taste of onions, garlic, sweet basil, corn and okra. By cooking with the seasons, Taylor is limited by what is ready to harvest, but has free choice to prepare whatever he wants. He believes in “home cooked” meals with flavors related to traditional Latin American cuisine. Our farm chef seems to thoroughly enjoy what he does, and we all benefit from the fruits of his labor!

Cajun Succotash
Saute diced onion and minced garlic. Add corn cut off the cob and okra sliced in bite-sized pieces. Finish with diced tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste.To freeze, cut all fresh ingredients (except tomatoes) and put in plastic bag. Add tomatoes when ready to cook later.

In Your Basket . . .

Sweet Corn
We know you will be pleased to see more sweet corn this year. A little background for you on corn production – each kernel of corn is pollinated individually in order to grow. The silks inside connect each kernel to tassels at the top of the ear. Really hot air and wind will make the tassel end dry up before the pollen has traveled down the silk to the corn kernel. So, if you have an ear with spotty kernels, you know why. Also, the heat speeds up the life cycle of the corn earworm. It will travel into the tip of the ear of corn before the corn is mature enough to harvest. Earlier in the year, the corn is ready to pick before the earworm tries to enter the husk. We cut off the top ends for you.

Green Onions – organic
Enjoy these versatile onions in any dish. The longer an onion is cooked, the milder it becomes and the natural sweetness comes forth. Store refrigerated and in a container to prevent the flavor from transferring to other food items.

Celery - organic
Enjoy this celery in a wonderful soup recipe shared by a CSA member last season. Remember that adding a fresh green to any soup will enhance the flavor of every ingredient in the pot!Use the celery leaves in place of fresh parsley. Store in the coldest portion of your refrigerator or place upright in a container with a little water and cover with a plastic bag. It will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or more.

Bell Peppers – organic


Squash and Zucchini

Tomatoes – organic
Enjoy a medley of tiny tomatoes including the Sungold, Pears, Black Prince and Ivory Egg.

Your Choice Basket:

Okra – organic - new this week!
Low in calories, this popular Southern vegetable is high in amino acids and minerals. Try slicing into bite-sized pieces, tossing in seasoned corn meal, and skillet frying until slightly browned and a little crisp. Enjoy as a fun snack, a side veggie, or appetizer. Can be eaten alone or dipped in favorite dip or sauce.

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Celery Roquefort Soup
recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special shared by CSA member, Dorothy

2 T butter
1 C diced onions
2 C diced celery
1 C water
2 C milk
4 ounces Roquefort or blue cheese
8 ounces Neufchatel or cream cheese
salt and ground black pepper to taste

In a soup pot melt the butter on medium heat. Add the onions and celery, cover, and cook, stirring frequently, until soft but not browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the water, cover, and bring to a simmer.
In a blender, combine the milk, blue cheese, and cream cheese and puree until very smooth. Stir the puree into the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. Reheat gently and serve hot.

Fried Eggplant Salad
from Greene on Greens

1 large eggplant or 2 small (about 1 ½ pounds)
½ C olive oil, approximately
1 medium onion, halved, thinly sliced; or green onions
1 large clove garlic, minced
juice of 2 lemons
salt and freshly ground pepper
chopped fresh parsley
lemon wedges

Cut the stem from the eggplant and slice it in half lengthwise. Cut each half into ¼ inch thick slices. Place the slices in a colander, sprinkle them with salt, and let stand 30 minutes. Brush the eggplant with paper towels to remove the salt; pat dry.
Heat 2 T of the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add enough eggplant slices to cover the bottom. Sprinkle lightly with more oil, and sauté until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Continue to sauté the eggplant slices, adding more oil as needed.
Pour off all but 2 tsp of oil from skillet. Add the onion; cook over medium-low heat 1 minute. Add the garlic; cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
Place one fourth of the eggplant in the bottom of a deep, narrow serving bowl. Sprinkle with the juice of ½ lemon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Top with one fourth of the onion mixture. Continue to layer, squeezing lemon juice over each successive layer of eggplant, until all ingredients are used up. End with the onion mixture. Chill well. Serve garnished with parsley and lemon wedges. Serves 4 as an appetizer.

Hearty Eggplant-Zucchini Toss
from Asparagus to Zucchini

1 small eggplant
3 medium zucchini
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
3 medium tomatoes
1-2 stalks celery
1 T olive oil
2 T tomato sauce (optional)
2 T oregano
salt and pepper

Peel the eggplant and cut it into chunks. Cut zucchini into ¾ inch rounds. Chop onion coarsely. Mince the garlic. Quarter or halve the tomatoes. Chop the celery. Heat oil in large skillet over medium and add all the chopped vegetables, the tomato sauce, plus the oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Toss well; cover the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally. You must keep watch over this dish, it will form a watery sauce at first, and the vegetables should be stirred in it until they are all somewhat cooked, about 10-15 minutes. Then remove the cover and cook a few more minutes until the sauce is reduced. Serve as a sauce for pasta or rice. Makes 4-6 servings.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Crop Report

Farm News
We probably need to give you an update on the hot dry conditions at the farm. Everyone in Central Kentucky is well aware of the continuous heat over the past four weeks and you should know that some crops are being affected. The high air temperature and high soil temperature prevents seed germination of some items. We will continue to replant and keep you posted. An extremely high temperature during the day makes any moisture from humidity, irrigation, or even an occasional rain shower evaporate very quickly. We continue rotating the overhead irrigation system among several fields. We also move water lines between crop rows several times a week, and we turn on and off each block of rows receiving the drip line irrigation. As you know, we would not have anything growing if we did not have water available.

Each season we test out a few new varieties of different crops. We assess different attributes including growth performance, yield, thriftiness of the plant in an organic system, disease resistance, and most important – flavor. Last year we tested four new organic white potatoes, and while a couple rated high on the production side, only one met the taste test with superior flavor. You will find that one in your basket this week – try baking it for a fluffy, delicious potato meal. Rub the skin with butter or oil to crispen.Traditional advice says to not wash your potatoes until ready to eat so that they keep longer in your basement or pantry. We have found that removing the soil and plant residue at harvest allows us to pull out any lower quality potatoes. We recommend keeping your newly dug potatoes in the refrigerator until ready to cook. Do not leave them out in the light or the skin will turn green. Non-organic supermarket potatoes are chemically treated to prevent this. But, if you do get some color change, remove the green portion before cooking.

Recipes to Enjoy . . .
Brussels Sprouts – organic - new this week for everyone!
These tender, yummy little sprouts are being rediscovered. For the most basic preparation, peel the outer leaves and score an “x” in the bottom of any larger sprouts to even out the cooking time. Place in boiling water and cook 2 minutes. Drain and season with butter, salt, and pepper.
Store refrigerated, un-washed, in a container for up to a week.

Potatoes – organic - new this week!

This week’s harvest is the Butte potato, a dry russet baker with out-standing flavor. It’s great baked, mashed, or fried and is one of the highest in Vitamin C. Pronounce it as in “Beaut”-iful.

Mild Onions – organic – new this week!
These fresh onions are similar to a green onion as they should be refrig-erated. Our white and red onions will be a little sweeter than the yellow varieties this week.

Bell Peppers – organic – new this week!Find both green and sweet red bell peppers this week. They have significant nutritional value and are high in Vitamins A and C, iron, and potassium. Peppers can be easily frozen for later use. Find a recipe below for stuffed bells.


Swiss Chard - organic

Tomatoes - organic

Larger Baskets:

Leeks - organicThese leeks can be cooked whole; steamed, braised, or baked. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks, but wrap lightly to avoid aroma spreading to other foods. Popular in soup recipes, leeks also offer a complimentary flavor to many meat dishes. Substitute for onions in recipes for a slight flavor change.Leeks and onions are cousins, but leeks actually belong to the lily family. Leeks are milder than onions but also sweeten when they’re cooked. Smaller leeks are tenderer and have more flavor than larger ones.

Your Choice Basket:
Hot PeppersJalapeño, Serrano, Hot Banana, New Mexican Green Chiles to choose from this week. Try roasting the Green Chiles using the recipe below.

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Brussels Sprouts with Garlic, Onion and Bacon
recipe from our farm chef, Taylor

1 quart Brussels sprouts, trim stem ends and any loose or damaged leaves; cut large sprouts in half
¼ C butter
1 small onion, sliced in ½ inch pieces
1 garlic cloves, chopped
2 strips cooked bacon, chopped
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper

Place Brussels sprouts in saucepan of boiling water. Cook for 3-5 minutes until tender, but not mushy. Drain water. In a sauté pan, cook onion and garlic in butter until soft. Add Brussels sprouts, bacon, salt and pepper. Cook just a minute or two until sprouts are warm and flavorful. Serve immediately. Makes 2-4 servings.

Stuffed Peppers

½ pound organic ground beef (can substitute cooked sausage or cooked chicken if desired)
1 small onion, chopped
1 small tomato, chopped
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

Cut tops, stem, and hollow out 4 bell peppers. Stuff each pepper with the mixture and put them standing up in a deep pan or dish. Cook about 50 minutes at 350 degrees. Coat the top with a couple Tbsp of ketch, tomato sauce or salsa. Cook 10 minutes more. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top and cook 5 minutes more till melted.
Note: Almost anything can be added to the stuffing such as sweet corn, hot peppers, or cooked rice, especially if making vegetarian dish.

Creamy Leek, Potato, and Sour Cream Chive Soup recipe from From Asparagus to Zucchini
3 T butter
2-3 leeks, thinly sliced, about 4 C total
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 pound potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
4 C chicken stock

½ - 1 C sour cream
4 T chopped fresh chives, divided
salt and pepper

Melt butter in pot over medium-low. Add leeks and tarragon; cover and cook slowly, 15-20 minutes. Add potatoes and stock; bring to simmer, cover and cook until tender, 10-15 minutes. Puree mixture. Return puree to pot; stir in sour cream and 2 T chives. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle each serving with additional chives. Makes 6 servings.

Roasted Peppers
These are excellent in soups, sauces and vinaigrettes; use them wherever you would use fresh peppers. You can roast almost any pepper using this same method.
To roast peppers: Over a gas range top, place fresh peppers directly onto the flame. Char the peppers all the way around each side, the pepper skins should turn black and blistered. After the peppers are charred, place them in a paper bag and allow to steam for twenty minutes. Steaming allows the skins to be removed more easily. After the peppers have cooled, remove them from the bag and peel them. Discard the seeds and the charred skins, remember to save the pepper juice, it has a lot of flavor. You can also roast peppers in the oven, lightly oiled on a sheet pan. Roasting peppers in the oven works well if you do not have a gas range, but over an outdoor grill has better results.

Roasted Pepper Vinaigrette
from Harmony Valley Farm. This recipe works well for a salad dressing as well as a sauce for savory entrées.

Fresh peppers (roasted, skins and seeds removed)
1 C quality olive oil
1/3 C white vinegar
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
¼ C chopped fresh mixed herbs
1 tsp sugar
Salt & pepper to taste

In food processor or blender, combine all the ingredients and emulsify. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Farm News

It seems lately we get more inquiries and surprise when people learn that we grow garlic along with our other produce items. Although we had to set up irrigation several times this spring and summer for the garlic field, this season was sure a tough one for the garlic due to the region’s continued drought – and the lack of papery skin covering the cloves sure shows it.In the fall, we prepare our fields for planting. Garlic cloves are separated from the bulb and planted one at a time in rows or beds. We mulch the plantings with organic straw or hay to moderate the soil conditions. In spring, we pull back the mulch to allow plant growth without smothering. We weed, fertilize, weed, irrigate, weed, break off the flower top (garlic scape), and eventually hand harvest the entire plant. We lay out the garlic in one of the greenhouses to cure. We then clean off the dirt and outer skin, cut the stalk necks, and separate into quality grades. Some is saved for the coming fall to plant for next year’s crop. Most are stored for baskets and sales. And the farm chef uses the heads that come apart when cleaning in our crew lunches. One reason many farms do not attempt a garlic crop is the commitment it takes: your crop field is tied up for 9 months including over the winter, which makes it difficult to get a cover crop in; weed management is necessary at several points during the growth cycle and entails much hand weeding work; and although all of your effort is required up front, you don’t know what you have until you harvest. But, we enjoy fresh garlic as a companion to many other veggies, so it is well worth the work!

In Your Basket

Spaghetti Squash – new this week!
This orange-skinned variety of spaghetti squash is a fun treat for those new to it. Oven roast or boil in water for about 45 minutes until fork tender, or the outer skin cracks. Once cooled, cut in half length-wise and remove seeds. Using a fork, scrape the strands of squash onto a bowl or plate separating into pasta-like strands. Serve with butter, olive oil, or sauce. Store your spaghetti squash in a cool, dry place (not refrigerated) for up to a month or more.

Sweet Basil – organic-new this week!
We harvest mostly the top leaves of our basil in order to lessen the stems you have to deal with. We have found that keeping the basil in a double container allows you to store it in the refrigerator without the leaves turning dark. Put your sealed plastic bag into another sealed bag or a Tupperware-type sealed container. The pocket of air helps to buffer the cold air from the leaf surface of your basil. To dry, lay out in a single layer at room temperature.Find a basil pesto recipe below using your basil and garlic. Serve over your spaghetti squash for a filling, fresh meal.

Hard Neck Garlic – organic
This is our fourth variety of garlic we produced this year. It should store for you longer than other types, but you should have more later on also.

Swiss Chard – organic
Sometimes it seems we just crave the taste of a leafy green. Your rainbow Swiss chard is holding up well in the heat and can be sautéed with a little olive oil and garlic for an easy side dish.

Green Beans– organic
These stringless green beans do not take a lot of time in preparation for cooking. Just snap the ends, if desired, and blanch, steam, or sauté for fresh and crisp bean flavor. These small, tender beans are often referred to as haricot vertes and desired by chefs for their flavor, color and versatility.

Summer Squash
Enjoy steamed, grilled, oven roasted, or stuffed. Find a recipe below.

This late cucumber planting is a new variety that you have not seen yet this season. It has a little thicker skin that you may want to peel. It will also keep longer for you refrigerated.

Your eggplant this week is a traditional shaped variety. You may have heard of peeling and slicing your eggplant, salting the slices and laying out on paper towels to drain out any bitter flavor. Usually a farm-fresh eggplant will not have bitterness, but if you store it for a week or more, the salting step might enhance the texture when ready to prepare it. It is best stored refrigerated.

EXTRA Basket:
Hot Peppers
Jalapeño, Serrano, Hot Banana and Poblano hot peppers to choose from this week.

Roma Tomatoes – organic
We intentionally have fewer tomatoes ready this time of the year. Our experience shows that most home gardens, neighbors’ or relatives’ gardens, and all farmers markets offer an abundance of tomatoes during the dog days of August. We don’t want to overload you and take away from the other seasonal items ready for your baskets. We have plenty on hand though, so we offer them as an extra to add to your baskets this week. The roma is best for sauce, salsa, pizza topping, oven drying, roasting, and mighty tasty for fresh eating as well!

Recipes to Enjoy

Grilled Summer Squash Salad
recipe from Harmony Valley Farm Kitchen

2 summer squash, halved lengthwise
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil
2 T Parmesan grated
2 T fresh finely chopped herbs of your liking
1 T green onion, chopped

Lightly oil squash and place on medium hot grill, cooking all sides until tender. (Browning will occur but avoid burning.) Remove from grill and allow to cool. Dice into bite-sized pieces. In bowl, mix remaining ingredients and toss with squash to coat. Serve cooled.

Easy Pesto Sauce

1 ½ C lightly packed fresh basil leaves (approx. 3 ounces)
2 minced garlic cloves
3 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
¼ C olive oil
Puree all ingredients in food processor, adding more olive oil if necessary for proper blending. Serve tossed with fresh hot pasta, and topped with grated Parmesan cheese. (If desired, pine nuts or walnuts can be added during processing).

Baba Ganoush - Eggplant Dip

1 ½ pound eggplant
olive oil
¼ C tahini
¼ C juice of fresh lemon
½ tsp salt
2 cloves fresh garlic

Slice eggplant lengthwise in half. Roast face down in olive oil in baking dish in oven for 20 - 30 minutes at 350 degrees until soft. Scoop cooked eggplant out away from skin with spoon. Process with tahini, lemon juice, salt, and garlic until well mixed. Serve at room temperature as dip for fresh vegetables or wedges of pita bread.

Roasted Tomato Basil Pesto
recipe adapted from Seed Savers Calendar, 1998

2 tomatoes, pre-roasted
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled, halved
3 T pine nuts
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 C fresh whole basil leaves
½ C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 T butter, softened
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine tomatoes, garlic, pine nuts, and oil in a processor until combined. Add a handful of basil and process briefly. Continue until all basil is combined. Stir in the cheese and butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Use on pasta, on pizzas, over grilled vegetables, or on a sandwich or wrap.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Not ready for Prime Time

Farm news. . .
We received a phone call from a California television producer last week about doing some filming at Elmwood for one of their shows. The concept was to let the Supernanny come out with one of her TV families to tour the farm and learn more about vegetables, nutrition and healthy food. While we definitely support the idea of connecting nutrition and behavior, we are not at all set up for tours, TV, and playground-type kid activities.

We get inquiries almost weekly from school groups (from primary school all the way through college graduate students), educators, social organizations, garden clubs, tourists, politician tours, chefs-in-training, those new to farming wanting to learn the “secrets”, and even a few potential customers. Years ago the decision was made to not set up an on-farm market and we just do not have the infra-structure (bathrooms, parking lots, staff) to accommodate folks. Farms can also be dangerous to the uninformed, from groundhog holes to electric fencing, large equipment to large livestock.
We have nothing to hide about production practices. In fact, we feel being open and transparent are key components of what we supply to our customers and our fellow producers as well. We want to grow as healthy and wholesome food as possible. We want to make this food available to anyone who wants it; we are glad to share and even encourage other producers to adopt similar sustainable production practices. This openness is offered by many different methods. First, many of our fields are readily visible from a major highway. Second, we are selling at several different farmers markets where we meet our customers face to face with every transaction. Third, we consistently participate in winter conferences both as attendees and as presenters. Finally, we have hosted past “open houses” on our farm.
We do not do a lot of advertising, do not have festivals, and don’t seek out publicity to generate business at our farm because that is not the way we are set up to operate. Instead, we rely primarily on word-of-mouth and product display at the farmers markets to make ourselves known to those seeking wholesome, local, fresh farm foods.
This is the long story of telling you why we will not be featured on the upcoming season of Supernanny. We declined the inquiry and referred the show to a local agri-entertainment farm. But, we do invite you to the CSA member farm tour this season. Mark your calendars for the CSA Harvest Potluck and Farm Tour – Sunday, October 7, 2007.
In the future we may develop on-farm educational programs about beneficial bugs, our Easter Egg hens, the hidden world of microbes underneath grasses, and other keys to organic systems. We’ll keep you posted.

In Your Basket
Cabbage – organic
Your cabbage this week is a very dense, tight head. It will store well for you in the fridge. It contains a significant amount of Vit. A and C, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Try a new recipe for cabbage.

Kohlrabi - organic
Remember to peel the kohlrabi bulbs before using. Their flavor will sweeten when sautéed in olive oil or butter. Or shred or slice for a healthy snack. They will store in your crisper drawer for several weeks.

Roma Tomato – organic
These meaty tomatoes are the best for sauce. Tomatoes can also be frozen whole. Wash, core, place on cookie sheet, and freeze. When solid, place in zip lock freezer bag and place back into freezer. Remove only as many as you need. Don’t plan on eating fresh after thawed, but use for cooking.
Heirloom Tomato – organic

Varieties of pinks include Arkansas Traveler and Rose. Black tomatoes include Black Krim, Black Plum, Cherokee Purple, and Paul Robeson. Yellows include Mr. Stripey, Old Ivory Egg, and Peach Tomato. Other specialties include Sungold and Green Zebra.
Garlic – organic
This week’s bulb is Elephant Garlic which is technically not garlic, but in the leek family. It forms very large cloves and sometimes only a single large round clove which can be used like pearl onions. While not a very beautiful bulb, the Elephant is very mild.

Find a wonderful recipe below for a sweet way to enjoy zucchini.
Sweet Corn
The last harvest for a few weeks, but the kernels are filled out nicely and easy to cut off the cob. Do not remove the husks until ready to cook as it keeps the moisture in best.

Larger Baskets Only:
Brussels Sprouts -organic
The easiest way to prepare is to rinse and throw into a pan with either butter (the best!) or extra virgin olive oil. The larger sprouts can be scored on the bottom to help cook at the same speed as the smaller ones.

EXTRA Basket:
Hot PeppersJalapeño, Serrano, and Poblano hot peppers to choose from this week.

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Corn Fritters
recipe from Cook’s Country

1 ½ pounds fresh corn (2 large or 3 to 4 medium ears), husks and silks removed
1 large egg, beaten lightly
3 T all-purpose flour
3 T cornmeal
2 T heavy cream
1 small shallot or onion, minced
½ tsp salt
pinch cayenne
½ C cooking oil

Using a chef’s knife, cut kernels from most of corn and place in bowl. Use box grater to grate remaining kernels to mix the textures. Using back of knife, scrape any pulp remaining on all cobs into bowl. Stir in egg, flour, cornmeal, cream, onion, salt and cayenne.
Heat oil in large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Drop 6 heaping T batter in pan. Fry until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Transfer fritters to plate lined with paper towels. If necessary add more oil to skillet and heat until shimmering; fry remaining batter. Serve immediately. Makes 12 fritters. Can dip into salsa, sour cream or maple syrup.

Duo of Garlic Preparations

Garlic-Salt Rub for Beef Roast:
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp salt
Mix minced garlic, thyme, and salt together in small bowl. Rub all over roast. Place on large plate and refrigerate uncovered, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Garlic Paste:

12 large garlic cloves, peeled, cloves cut in half lengthwise
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
½ tsp salt
½ cup olive oil
Heat halved garlic cloves, thyme, bay, salt and oil in small saucepan over medium-high heat until bubbles start to rise to surface. Reduce heat to low and cook until garlic is soft, about 30 minutes. Cool completely. Strain, reserving oil. Discard herbs and transfer garlic to small bowl. Mash garlic with 1 T garlic oil until paste forms. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Cover and reserve garlic oil.
Suggested use includes rubbing meat or fish with oil before roasting or grilling. Use paste on meats or fish before oven cooking to give flavorful crust.

Surprise Chocolate Sweet
Thanks to CSA member, Dorothy, who shares this wonderful dessert! She recommends Ghiradelli sweet ground chocolate cocoa.

1/3 C margarine/butter
4 T and 1 tsp cocoa
½ C sugar
½ C brown sugar, packed
1 egg, beaten
1 C flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 C shredded zucchini
2/3 C chopped walnuts

Cream together first four ingredients. Blend in egg, flour, powder, salt and vanilla. Sir in zucchini and walnuts. Spread in an 8” x 8” pan. Bake in 350 oven for 20-25 minutes or until top crust is dry and edges begin to pull from sides. Interior will be moist.