Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Farm Report

Farm News . . .

The view from the tractor seat in the hayfield is not much different that the one from the driveway - brown fields, brownish-orangey trees, small clouds of driveway dust or field dirt left in the wake of a vehicle moving through. The patches of green on the farm are the rows of vegetables in the crop fields, the weeds that take advantage of a drought situation, or the patch of Johnson grass at the end of the field where the irrigation pipe connects to the water drip line that stretches out the length of the row. We still watch the weather forecast hopeful that some rain will come, but continue our work with the assumption that the dryness will continue.
John operates the irrigation systems regularly. So far, the Elkhorn Creek that runs along the southern border of the farm seems to offer plenty of water. This probably has to do with some rains that occurred upstream a couple of weeks ago and helped to recharge its flow. Ironically, we were rained on twice at CSA basket distribution at the farmers market when several strong rains came through Lexington. Unfortunately at the farm we received only one-tenth of one inch – hardly a measurable amount. That same system brought 3.5 inches to a friend’s farm located several miles to the southeast of Elmwood – he jokes that his farm is an oasis compared to those around here. The key is that just one good rainfall can make a huge difference to so many things.
We continue to plant for fall harvest and plant crops that are started in fall but not harvested until next spring. Each seed gets watered at planting, of course, and several crops have been replanted since cool weather veggies are difficult to germinate when air temperatures continue to be in the 90’s. Some crops are direct seeded in the field and some are started in tray cells for transplanting later. We have started onions and leeks for next spring and transplanted strawberries into the high tunnel. More work for ’08 crops is yet to come.
Agriculture leaders around the state are as concerned as farmers about the poor condition of soils, lack of water, livestock health, and the future of Kentucky with the drought situation. Those that monitor such things point out we are in the midst of one of the top ten years in drought conditions and one of the top ten years in high temperatures – but this is the first to have both extremes occurring at the same time resulting in a serious situation. State government officials, university deans, and farm group representatives are getting together in emergency meetings to assess the problems and research solutions.
There is a huge lack of hay in the entire region, not just the state of Kentucky. Lack of rainfall throughout the year has resulted in maybe 1 cutting of mixed grass rather than 2 with only 50% yield in that one harvest – overall only 25% production of a normal year. Legumes like alfalfa are yielding only 50% or less of normal amounts with less cuttings overall. For those farmers that can find someone willing to sell hay, current prices are up to 300% higher than a normal season. This shortage in hay to feed livestock through the winter means that farmers are forced to sell their cattle, hogs, sheep, and goats. Farmers sold off most lower quality livestock earlier in the summer when they did not have grasses in the pastures to graze. Several farms have been feeding their winter hay supply over the last month or more, as the pastures are parched, dry, and offer no nutritional value to the animals. Since rain has not come, now farms are being forced with the decision to sell their highest quality cattle too – the best breeding stock cows that they have been selecting over the years to create a top-notch herd.

In Your Basket . . .

Red Beets –organic – new for everyone!
Beets contain lots of natural sugars and sweeten up to taste yummy when roasted. Try baking 350 for an hour or more until easily pierced with a fork. Rub off skins and serve sliced. Another option is to slice into bite sized pieces, cover with olive oil, and oven roast at 400 degrees for 15-30 minutes until tender. Serve with garlic powder or salt and pepper to taste.
The beet tops are edible and can be mixed with your Swiss chard. Beets should be refrigerated and use the tops within a few days – the beet roots can be stored for weeks.

Sweet Bell Pepper – organic

Green Cabbage – organic
These are small heads, but densely tight. Keep in the refrigerator in a cool spot and cabbage stays fresh for weeks.

Sweet Basil - organic


Swiss Chard - organic

Sweet Corn
This is the last harvest of the year is a bicolor variety. Some ears have a little worm damage and some do not but we trimmed them all for you just in case. Enjoy this last bit of summer!

Your Choice Basket:
Hot Peppers

Larger Baskets Only:
Easter Egg Radishes - organic
Romaine Lettuce - organic

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Fried Beets and Carrots
From Asparagus to Zucchini

2 T olive oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 medium beets, quartered, slice ¼ inch thick
2 medium carrots, sliced ¼ inch thick
tamari sauce
(optional) beet tops, fresh spinach or Swiss chard

Heat olive oil in skillet. Add cumin; cook about 1 minute. Add beets and carrots; fry until tender. Remove from heat, sprinkle on a little tamari and serve. Optional: When beets and carrots are tender, add chopped greens, cover and cook until soft. Toss mixture, sprinkle with tamari, and serve. Makes 2-4 servings.

Salad Mix with Beets and Feta
from Rock Spring Farm

2 tsp red wine vinegar
3 Tbs. olive or nut oil
1 lb baked red beets
3 cups salad mix
1/4 lb feta cheese, crumbled
Whisk together the vinegar and oil to make a
Vinaigrette. Add salt to taste. Slice the beets thinly and toss with a little bit of the vinaigrette. Combine the greens with the vinaigrette, and arrange over the beet slices. Crumble feta on top.

Blanched, Buttered Cabbage
from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham – she writes that cabbage results in a beautiful color, mild taste, and this is a marvelous method for those who are dubious about cabbage.

2 pounds cabbage, cored
4 slice bacon, optional
4 T butter, melted
salt to taste
½ tsp freshly ground pepper

Bring a big pot of water to boil. Tear the cabbage leaves into large pieces. If you use the bacon, fry it until crisp; drain, crumble, and set aside. Plunge cabbage into the boiling water for only 30 seconds; drain immediately. Return to the pot and toss with the melted butter, salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Outside the Cart

In The News

It seems that about every day, current event reporting highlights a consumer product recall, a newly diagnosed health condition, or a linkage between poor health and a convenience lifestyle. Below are some observations by John Hendrickson published in the seasonal cooking guide From Asparagus to Zucchini, that may help explain why.

§ In the conventional food system, food travels 1,500 or more miles on average from farm to table.
§ Only about 10% of the fossil fuel energy used in the world’s food system is used for producing the food; the other 90% goes into packaging, transporting, and marketing.
§ On any given day more than half the US population eats no fruits or vegetables.Only 1 of 10 children ages 6 to 11 eats the recommended daily servings of fruit and vegetables.
§ Since the turn of the 20th century, 97% of fruit and vegetable varieties have become unavailable commercially, replaced by only a few uniform varieties.
§ In a typical year, more than 10,000 new food items are introduced in grocery stores – mostly highly processed, packaged convenience foods.
§ Conventional farmers receive less than 25 cents of your consumer food dollar on average.
§ The average US citizen spends less than 12% of his or her disposable income on food.

By joining a CSA, you and your family have taken steps to ensure a weekly supply of fresh, nutritious vegetables. CSA households do increase their intake of fruits and vegetables. People are introduced to lesser known crops, tasty heirloom varieties, and unique varieties of common vegetables. Thanks for thinking outside the shopping cart!

In Your Basket . . .

Brussels Sprouts –organic
These firm little treats are nutritious and can be fun to eat! Remove any damaged leaves, trim the stem end, and if desired cut an X in the stem to speed up the cooking process. The key is to cook just enough but not over-cook them – this avoids the unpleasant aroma that waffles throughout the house.
Sweet Bell Pepper – organic

Celery – organic
This crisp flavorful celery will keep best in the coldest part of your refrigerator, even packed on ice if desired. Slice the stalks and spread pieces out on tray. Place in freezer, then pack into freezer bags for later use in soups and stews. The leaves can be chopped and frozen, or dried.Once you try fresh, local celery, you cannot believe the wonderful flavor. It does not compare to the item with the same name on supermarket shelves.
Garlic - organic
Store in your pantry, not refrigerated, preferably out of direct light. The dry season has affected the heads with less paper covering, but flavor and health benefits are still ever present.
Acorn Squash
Kale Greens - organic

We have both a curly green leaf and a curly red Russian type ready for harvest this week. You may have one or the other or a mixture of both. Sauté or steam and enjoy with vinegar sprinkled on top. Find a new recipe below.
Tomatoes – organic The summer plants are finally giving out after wonderful production in the super high heat, so less to offer now.
Your Choice Basket:
Hot Peppers
Larger Baskets Only:

Stringless Green Beans - organic

Recipes to Enjoy...

Pasta with Caramelized Onions and Bitter Greens
Thanks to CSA member, Kim, for sharing this Martha Stewart recipe from What’s For Dinner. Try using Swiss Chard or Kale Greens.

1 T olive oil
1-2 T unsalted butter
4 medium onions, peeled and cut into ¼ inch rings
1 tsp sugar
4 C chicken broth (preferable homemade) or water
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound fettuccine
1 head chicory, mustard greens, kale or arugula – washed, with tough ribs removed, leaves torn into pieces

Heat oil and 1 T butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sugar and cook; stirring once or twice, until well browned, about 10 minutes. Turn heat to low; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 10 minutes.
Remove half the onions and set aside. Add broth or water to the pan and bring to a boil. Cook over high heat, scraping bottom of pan for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until a little underdone, and drain. Add to the broth and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Add greens and cook, covered, until wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in additional tablespoon of butter, if desired. Divide among four shallow bowls, garnish with reserved onions, and serve.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette
from Angelic Organics Kitchen, serves 4

1 pound Brussels sprouts
3 T olive oil
3 T balsamic vinegar
2 T maple syrup
2 T red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp prepared Dijon type mustard
¼ C water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Soak the sprouts in a large bowl of water for 10 minutes; drain. Spread the sprouts in a large baking dish and drizzle them with olive oil. In a large bowl, combine the vinegars, maple syrup, garlic and mustard; mix well. Pour over the sprouts. Add the water to the bottom of the baking dish. Bake until tender-firm, 30 to 45 minutes.

Golden Pepper and Yellow Tomato Soup
In this recipe from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors, she suggests that the yellow-orange peppers and tomatoes offer a softer flavor than traditional red tomatoes with green bells. You can also roast and peel the peppers first if desired, or just chop them fresh with skins on.

1 pound yellow or orange tomatoes
1/3 C white rice
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
3 yellow, orange or red bell peppers
2 T olive oil
pinch saffron threads
1 bay leaf
2 thyme sprigs, leaves plucked from the stems
1 tsp sweet paprika or ½ tsp smoked paprika
1 T tomato paste
1 quart vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
chopped opal basil, marjoram or parsley

Bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Slice an X at the base of each tomato. Plunge them, 2 at a time, into the water for about 10 seconds, then remove and set aside. Add the rice and ½ tsp salt to the water, lower the heat to simmer, and cook until the rice is tender, about 12 minutes. Drain.
Chop the onion. Mince the garlic with a pinch of salt until mushy. Dice the peppers into small squares, removing the seeds and membranes first. You should have about 2 cups. Peel and seed the tomatoes, reserving the juice, then dice the walls and mince the cores.
Warm the oil in a soup pot and add the onions, peppers, saffron, bay leaf, thyme and paprika. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion has begun to soften and color, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, then stir in the tomato paste and 1 tsp salt. Give it a stir and add ¼ C water. Stew for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.
When ready to serve, reheat the soup with the rice, then ladle it into bowls. Or make a mound of rice in each bowl and spoon the soup around it. Season with pepper and garnish with fine slivers of basil leaves or marjoram chopped with a few parsley leaves.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Eat Local Challenge

Farm News
The month of September is a good one to eat locally. Summer vegetables are usually still prolific, the fall squashes and potatoes are ready, and apples and pears are ripening on the trees. Eating local can be defined in different ways, but on the Eat Local Challenge website, there are many suggestions of how to incorporate such ideas into your lifestyle. The tips for eating with-in 100 miles (or whatever geographic area seems manageable) contain several ideas that are underway in Central Kentucky. By belonging to a CSA, you already seek out healthy food that comes from a farm in your area grown by people that you know. Many of you attend local farmers markets, including the Lexington Farmers Market (which will be open outdoors on Saturdays through Thanksgiving weekend.) Several of you have preserved your basket items or obtained more produce to freeze, can, pickle and preserve for your use later on in the year. And, a lot of you already seek out thought-provoking and influential writings on food, health, the environment, and our economy.
Other suggested actions from the Eat Local Challenge folks include:
· taking a field trip to a local farm, orchard, or vineyard;
· finding out what restaurants use locally produced foods and patronize them;
· commit to preparing and eating one local-only meal each week;
· share with family, friends, and co-workers your finds and experiences;
· keep track of your food sourcing and meal preparing as it becomes a valuable resource; &
· start simple and small by replacing one food item each week.

Organizations, events, websites, and books provide more resources for each of us to learn about what is available in our area and explore our own potential to meet the challenge of eating locally. For a starting place to find local in Kentucky visit:

Registration is now underway for the annual Healthy Foods, Local Farms conference hosted by the Kentucky Sierra Club at Bellarmine University in Louisville along with a Kentucky Harvest Festival co-sponsored by Slow Food Bluegrass the evening before the conference. Both events are open to the public, but registration and payment are required by Sept. 15. Go to for more information and registration forms. We are pleased that Elmwood Stock Farm was paired with a local chef serving farm food for the evening meal. The event is an opportunity to meet Chef Alice Waters, Wendell Berry and other speakers of the Healthy Food, Local Farms Conference, talk to local chefs and farmers, and enjoy an evening of great local food and music.

In Your Basket . . .

Acorn Squash - new this week!
This hard squash can be stored in your pantry, no need to refrigerate. Cut in half, remove seeds, and place face down on baking dish with a little water. Bake 45 to 90 minutes depending on size. Enjoy it with butter, brown sugar and a little nutmeg or other spice.
Bell Peppers – organic
Remember that the red peppers can be roasted, peeled and frozen for later use. Sweet pepper makes a wonderful addition to wraps, fajitas, pizzas, soups, or other fresh recipes.
Green Onions – organic
Use these green onions in any recipe. Store in your refrigerator.
Garlic - organic
Swiss Chard
- organic
Tomatoes – organic

Your Choice Basket:
Hot Peppers

Okra – organic
Slice into bite-sized pieces to put in your freezer for vegetable soup later in the year!

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Zucchini Bread –1 Loaf

1 C all purpose flour
1 C whole-wheat flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 egg
¼ C vegetable oil
½ C sugar
1 C grated zucchini, skin on
½ C milk

In one bowl combine first 7 ingredients and set aside. In another bowl, beat egg. Add oil, sugar, zucchini and milk. Blend well. Add to dry ingredients, stir just until moist but don’t overdo it. Spoon in greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour, or until tests done.

Pasta with Greens and Ricotta

Recipe serves 4-6 and is from The Moosewood Collective’s Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, 1994. The watercress, nuts, and tomatoes add wonderful flavor but can be omitted if not readily available.

1 bunch watercress, tough stems removed
1 bunch Swiss chard, tough stalks removed (about 4 cups chopped)
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste
¼ tsp grated fresh nutmeg
¾ c ricotta cheese
1 lb pasta (fettuccine, penne, fusilli, farfalle, or shells)
grated Parmesan cheese or crumbled ricotta salata
chopped fresh tomatoes
toasted walnuts or pine nuts

Bring a large pot of covered salted water to a boil. While the water heats, rinse the greens well, shake off any excess water, and chop coarsely. Sauté the garlic in the oil for a minute, until soft and golden, taking care not to scorch it. Add the damp greens and sauté, stirring often, until they are wilted but still bright green. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and remove from the heat. In a blender, puree the cooked greens with the ricotta until smooth and evenly colored. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
When the water boils, cook pasta as per package instructions. Cook until al dente, drain, and immediately toss it with the sauce in a warmed serving bowl. Top with Parmesan or ricotta salata, tomatoes, and/or toasted walnuts or pine nuts.

Cranberry Acorn Squash
From Asparagus to Zucchini

½ C raw fresh cranberries
1 small apple, cored, chopped into pieces
¼ C currants
½ C orange juice or apple cider
1 ½ T honey or maple syrup
1 T melted butter
pinch salt
2 acorn squash, cut in half, seeds removed

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients except squash in a saucepan. Heat until berries are just tender. Place squash in ovenproof dish. Fill cavities with fruit. Cover dish and bake until squash is tender, about 35-45 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Farm Life Cycles

Farm News . . .
Each winter as we evaluate our business plans, peruse the seed catalogues, enjoy a nice fireside chat, and try to visualize what the upcoming season will be, there is an unspoken excitement and optimism. We know there will be drenching rains, scorching sun, howling winds, and rumbling thunderstorms. The ever present chess match with Mother Nature, using the various technologies and sixth sense bestowed us keeps us watchful and pressing forward to ensure we are on our game. The vast array of crops we grow, each with its own approach to health and seasonality, expects that we provide that optimum environment to thrive.
The “drought of ‘07” will have lasting effects on the farm. The first rains that soak into the soil will awaken the tens of thousands of species of bacteria, fungi, microbes, and insects that have entered the protective mechanism of dormancy. As they begin to grow and reproduce, the root systems, with their own nutritional triggers, will begin to absorb the moisture and nutrients to bear fruit or prepare for winter.
Wildlife which have been more exposed to their predators due to lack of plant cover and limited water availability, may have fewer young and less body condition in preparation for winter. There are no walnuts, acorns are small, weed seeds did not mature to be good seeds for the birds. Rabbits and quail cannot hide from their prey nor build protective homes to hide.
The consistently high temperatures have accelerated the life cycles of the insect world, while depriving them of the moisture vital to their existence. Don’t worry about them. They always return, sometimes a little late, sometimes a little weak, sometimes a little stronger.
All of the creatures on the farm, from the mighty oaks to the tiniest bug, from the majestic deer to the lowly earthworm, will return next year.
So will we! - Mac

We did not receive any rainfall last week and are still managing irrigation equipment daily. We’ll update you more next week.

In Your Basket . . .

New Potatoes –organic
This week find some red, gold and blue new potatoes. The skin can remain on, as it is so tender right now. The blue and red potatoes are blue and red on the inside also. Do not overcook them or the blue and red will turn to gray. All three are good all-purpose potatoes that you can enjoy steamed, boiled, oven roasted, or sliced and fried into chips.
As we are digging our summer potatoes, we are finding very low yields this season. Also, the size of much of our potato crop is much smaller than desired. We do have fall potatoes out and are watering them as much as we can.
Sweet Basil – organic
Enjoy with sliced tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and a nice vinaigrette for a taste of old Italy!
Onions – organic
Use these mild onions in any recipe. They should be stored in your pantry rather than your fridge. The small size of many of our onions is a large disappointment to us this season. Even with consistent watering, the heat and drought have taken their toll. It seems that the root crops and in-ground crops are really affected by the heat and dry soil conditions. The onions, potatoes, and garlic all are having difficulties this season in sizing up.
Garlic - organic
This variety of Music garlic has a mild flavor. Remember that garlic is one of your 5 top foods for optimum health and disease prevention. Try to eat it weekly and eat it raw if possible. Well-known benefits include infection fighting, cancer prevention, stimulating the immune system, use as a decongestant, and reducing blood pressure. Also raw garlic applied to a bee or wasp sting helps to alleviate the stinging!
Spaghetti Squash
This hard squash can be stored in your pantry, no need to refrigerate. Enjoy it with butter, olive oil, or any favorite pasta sauce.


Squash and Zucchini

Green Tomatoes

Tomatoes – organic
This weeks tomatoes could include red slicers, Green Zebra, Old Ivory Egg, Garden Peach, Pink Lady, Pink Brandywine, and Paul Robeson.

Your Choice Basket:
Hot Peppers

Larger Baskets Only:

We do have more melons planted and are tending to the plants with great care. Early watermelons were a total crop loss. Many of our early muskmelons cracked with the one week of rain. These are small but tasty.

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Squash Fritters
recipe shared by Wash House Herb Farm in Stamping Ground, Kentucky

3 T vegetable oil, divided
1 egg, beaten
2/3 C milk
½ C self-rising cornmeal
1 C packed grated yellow squash or zucchini
2 T grated onion
2 T sour cream
2 T finely shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
¼ tsp black pepper
prepared salsa

Combine 2 T oil, egg, milk, cornmeal, squash, onion, sour cream, cheese, cayenne, salt and pepper; mix well. Add additional milk for a thinner consistency or another tablespoon of cornmeal if batter is too runny. Heat remaining oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Spoon ¼ C batter per fritter on first side and 2 minutes on second side. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with salsa. Serves 4 as an entrée or 8 as a side dish. Makes a great appetizer.

Fried Green Tomatoes
from Greene on Greens, using bread crumbs rather than corn meal, and a spicy wet coating

3 medium firm green tomatoes
1 egg
2 tsp heavy or whipping cream
¼ C V-8 or Bloody Mary Mix
dash of hot pepper sauce
½ C fresh breadcrumbs
1/8 tsp ground allspice
4 T butter
1 tsp chopped fresh chives

Cut the tomatoes crosswise into ½ inch slices. Beat the egg with the cream, V-8, and hot pepper sauce in a shallow bowl. Combine the crumbs and the allspice in another shallow bowl.
Melt 2 T of butter in heavy skillet over medium heat. Dip the slices in the egg mixture, shaking off any excess. Then lightly coat with the breadcrumbs. Fry, a few slices at a time, until golden on both sides, about 4 minutes. Keep warm in a low oven. Continue to fry slices, adding more butter as needed. Sprinkle with chives before serving. Serves 4.

Mac’s Backyard Bruschetta with Roasted Garlic

1-2 heads garlic
olive oil
thinly sliced bread good for toasting
mixture of dried herbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove outer papery skin from garlic heads. Cut the top off each head to expose the cloves. Place heads on aluminum foil; drizzle with olive oil. Tightly wrap up the garlic in the foil. Roast until the cloves are soft and creamy, 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on size. After roasting, let cool until able to handle. Remove all skin from garlic.

Cut bread into desired size pieces. Spread bread with a little butter. Spread roasted garlic onto bread also. Sprinkle with favorite dried herbs. Sprinkle with just a little of salt. Put on cookie sheet and turn oven to broil. Broil for 3-5 minutes until slightly browned.