Monday, July 18, 2011

CSA News, Week 11

The Wild Life at Elmwood Stock Farm

To produce the fruits, vegetables, and meats for your weekly share, we employ numerous tactics to co-exist with the wonderful world of nature that also call Elmwood Stock Farm home. Some examples will show how we have adapted to their demands while others will show their adaptation to us.

In the still of the night we can hear the chorus of the colony of tree frogs that live in the berry patch, which has the benefit of keeping any stray insect from damaging the plants or berries.

Our rotational grazing and cropping systems have the benefit of fostering nesting sites for small mammals to rear their young. Many of these are vegetarians. Were it not for the diverse grasses and “weeds” in the pastures and fencerows to provide their food, they might try to eat your produce. Each spring, we set out scarecrows (made by CSA members this year at the open farm day) and live traps. When we do catch a groundhog, rabbit, or squirrel, etc., they are humanely transported to safe haven on the other side of Elkhorn Creek. John uses some of the electric net fencing around the sweet corn to keep out the raccoons. If not, you would never get any!

We go to great expense to keep the carnivorous critters out of the poultry. The electric netting repels all ground predators. The wildlife are just like our domesticated animals, they only have to touch it once to be scared enough to never get near it again. We hear coyotes quite often and get a good chuckle when one experiences a hot wire for the first time. It howls, and then the whole pack howls and scampers away.

For us to enjoy the beautiful birds of prey we use netting over the top of small poultry so these raptors seek their meals from other wildlife, not our birds. Did you know the body temperature of vultures is so hot that none of the bacteria can survive which is how they can eat what they do?

The songbirds are glorious enjoyment for us. We hear these insect eating creatures more than we see them. In the winter we often find their nests made from the baling twine, sheep wool, tomato twine and the like. Often while operating equipment in the fields, the barn and tree swallows swoop and dive all around eating the insects stirred up from the equipment like little jet pilots. Each species has its own niche, and the types of insects they consume.

As you can see, we recognize the need to manage crops and livestock to coexist with Mother Nature. Otherwise, we would not be able to enjoy them.

In Your Share

Items in shares may vary depending on your share size and harvest day. Each share may not contain every item listed below.

Broccoli – organic

Cabbage – organic

Sweet Corn
Find the first ears of the season, a white super sweet variety. The first planting this spring was slowed by the weeks of cold and rain in April-May and looked like miniatures.

Unfortunately nothing was harvestable, so on to patch number 2! Refrigerate unshucked to keep fresh.


Green Lettuce – organic

It is week to week on the lettuces during hot temperatures. Enjoy it while you can.

Bell Pepper - organic

Tomatoes - organic
We are harvesting from a couple of different tomato plantings now, whatever is ripening really, as we have been anticipating the yummy flavorful goodness. Some of the Sungolds are probably ready to eat as the small ones ripen fast, your larger tomatoes may take a day or so – leave out and do not refrigerate for best flavor. All tomatoes this year are certified organic, other than the one early harvested variety: the small red-yellow stripe, Tigerella that we wrote about last week – in the transition to certified organic.


Watermelon – organic

We have a handful of small personal sized watermelons ready – some are red flesh, some are yellow flesh, larger shares have one or the other.

Recipes to Enjoy

Martha Stewart’s Zippy Toppings for Corn on the Cob, each recipe makes enough seasoning for 8 ears of corn, something new to try rather than our favorite of slathering with butter.

Southwest Spice

2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground toasted cumin
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
½ tsp coarse salt

Brush just cooked corn with olive oil, sprinkle with spices.

Lime Zest

1 T finely grated lime zest, from 2 limes
2 tsp coarse salt

Brush just cooked corn corn with olive oil, sprinkle with zest mixture.

Brown Butter Summer Squash “Linguine” recipe from Susie Middleton’s Fast Fresh and Green. Serves 3 to 4.

1 ½ pound yellow squash or green zucchini
2 T unsalted butter
2 T finely chopped almonds or hazelnuts
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp chopped fresh herb, tarragon or parsley
½ lemon

Wash and dry the squash and trim off the ends. Using a julienne peeler, peel the squash lengthwise all the way around, dropping the strips into a bowl. Continue peeling until you reach the seed core. Discard the core and peel the other squash in the same fashion. Toss the squash strips and separate any that are clumping.

In a sauté pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the almonds and swirl the butter around in the pan. Cook the butter until it reaches a nutty brown color (the almonds should be light brown by then), about 2 minutes. The color turns quickly so keep an eye on it – it will be more flavorful if you take it beyond a very light brown, but you don’t want it to turn black.

Immediately add the squash and salt. Toss the squash gently with tongs until lit is well coated with the butter. Continue cooking just until the squash becomes slightly limp, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in half the chopped herbs, and squeeze a little of the lemon over the squash and toss. Taste and add more lemon, if desired. Transfer the squash to a serving dish and garnish with the remaining herbs.

Fish Tacos with Fresh Cabbage, recipe from Simply in Season by Marty Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert. Makes 8 small tacos.

¼ C plain yogurt
¼ C mayonnaise

1 ½ T lime juice
¼ tsp each ground cumin, dried oregano, dried dill

Whisk these items together in a small bow to make a sauce. Set aside.

4 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground red pepper (optional)

Combine these 3 ingredients together in a small bowl.

1 ½ pounds mild white fish filets, rinsed, patted dry and cut into 1 inch pieces
8 corn tortillas
2 C cabbage, thinly sliced

Dip fish in the spice mixture to lightly coat. Heat 1 T oil in a large fry pan over medium heat. Sauté fish pieces in a single layer until lightly browned, about 1 minute per side for pieces ½ inch thick. Drain on paper towel. Sprinkle with salt.

Warm tortillas in microwave under a damp cloth, or in oven wrapped in foil, to soften. Fold ¼ C cabbage, 1/8 of the fish, and 1 T sauce inside each tortilla and serve with lime.

To grill fish, rather than fry, rub spice mixture over whole fish fillets before grilling.

Simple Roasted Broccoli, From Asparagus to Zucchini

1 head broccoli, large stem and medium stems removed and reserved for another use
1 ½ T olive oil
½ tsp garlic salt
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp ground black pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Break broccoli head into medium florets and toss with remaining ingredients. Arrange in single layer on baking sheet. Bake 18-22 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through the cooking time. Remove from oven when broccoli is a deep green color with some darkened spots. Makes 4 servings.

Spicy Cucumber Salad, From Asparagus to Zucchini

2 large cucumbers
1 T white vinegar or rice wine vinegar
2 T sesame oil
½ tsp salt
1 tsp soy sauce
1 T sugar
1 hot pepper

Peel the cucumbers, cut lengthwise in two, and scrape out the seeds. Cut cucumbers crosswise into half moons. Whisk the remaining ingredients together and toss with the cucumbers to coat them. You can control how hot the dish becomes by removing the seeds and pulp of the hot pepper, or just use one or two small slices. If you don’t have a hot pepper on hand, use hot red pepper flakes, or a sprinkle of hot pepper sauce. Makes 4 servings.