Monday, September 26, 2011

Week 21, CSA

Seasonal Update

For some crops this has been one of the best growing seasons, and for others, one of the worst. We cannot complain about the rain, rain, rain we have had the last several weeks as drought conditions are so devastating, long-lasting, and costly in several ways. This has been one of the more wet spring and summer seasons, and October (one of the driest months of the year) will be starting off rainy as well. It is good for the groundwater to be recharged and ponds and streams to replenish going into winter.

Our mid season tomatoes produced well and there was an abundance during peak season. Lettuces and bell peppers were prolific after the late start, and early season summer squash was in the shares for 6 weeks. This is one of the farm’s best garlic crops ever!

You are aware of the cold, wet spring and the delay is some crops being planted – now we are seeing some residual effects. The eggplant and hot peppers were later going into the field and never seemed to latch onto their favorite growing conditions. Other long-growing-season crops such as Brussels sprouts and celeriac were affected early in their life cycle and only now do we see the effects in little or no production.

The recent change from hot to cold temperature came at least 4 weeks early this season putting the brakes on tomato and berry ripening. The later summer squash and zucchini plants were in stand-ing water after the big summer storm, cooked in 98° days, and the plants still surviving are now trying to produce squashes, it is just too cold for them to grow very fast with nights in the 40’s for the last couple of weeks.

Though several growers report it one of their worst years due to climatic challenges, at the farm we worked hard to balance the good results with the disappointing harvests and provide you a well-balanced share each week.

We survey our membership each season to help us improve our CSA program. We always appreciate your time in sharing your comments. A link to the online survey is being sent by email this week – if you need a paper copy mailed, just give us a call.

Finally, our Heritage breed and broad-breasted breed Certified Organic turkeys are sizing up nicely. Elmwood is one of just a few farms in the US that grow heritage breed turkeys that are also Certified Organic, making these holiday turkeys a very special item.

We keep the breeding stock hens and toms here year-round. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy recognizes some of our breeds as in danger of extinction. Most farms cannot afford the costs and upkeep of keeping heritage breed animals without a supporting source of income to offset the expenses, so Slow Food USA is helping to spread the word and promote heritage breed products as a food source. By creating demand for heritage foods, then farms can work to produce and maintain heritage breeds.

We take pre-orders for Elmwood turkeys either in person or though email. They are processed at a USDA inspected facility and will be ready for pickup the weekend prior to Thanksgiving or for December holidays. Just contact the farm and we’ll share more details with you on expected available sizes, the differences in taste and appearance dependent on heritage or broad-breasted breeds, and pricing.

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

Swiss Chard – organic

Celery – organic

Onion – organic

Sweet Peppers – organic

Spaghetti Squash

Sweet Potatoes – organic

Tomatoes - organic

Garlic - organic

Potatoes - organic

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin
Thanks to a CSA member for sharing this recipe from the popular blog, smitten kitchen .com. She substituted skim milk and Swiss cheese and reports that it is a fabulous recipe used as an entrée. As written, serves 12.

¼ C (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 pounds Swiss chard, leaves and stems separated and both cut into 1-inch pieces
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 C heavy cream or whole milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T flour
2 pounds medium red-skinned sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ¼ C (about 5 ounces) coarsely grated Gruyére cheese

Prep greens: Cook onion in 2 T butter in a wide 8-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add chard stems, pinch of nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender but not browned, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to moderately high and add chard leaves by large handfuls, stirring, until all greens are wilted. Season with salt and pepper then transfer greens to a colander to drain well and press out liquid with back of a large spoon.

Make sauce: Combine cream or milk and garlic in small saucepan; bring to simmer; keep warm. Melt 2 T butter in a medium heavy saucepan over moderate heat and stir in flour. Cook roux, whisking, one minute, then slowly whisk in warm cream/milk and boil, whisking, one minute. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Assemble gratin: Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter deep 9×13 baking dish. Spread half of sweet potatoes in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, a quarter of the herbs and a ¼ C of the cheese. Distribute half of the greens mixture over the cheese, then sprinkle salt, pepper, a quarter of the herbs and ¼ C of the cheese over it. Pour half of béchamel sauce over the first two layers then continue with the remaining sweet potatoes, more salt, pepper, herbs and cheese and then the remaining greens, salt, pepper and herbs. Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the gratin, pressing the vegetables slightly to ensure that they are as submerged as possible. Sprinkle with the last ¼ C of cheese.

Bake gratin for about 1 hour until golden and bubbly, and most of the liquid is absorbed. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Do ahead: You can make the entire gratin but not bake it up to a day in advance and keep it in the fridge. You can also make and bake the gratin and reheat it. Gratins reheat well, but they take almost as much time to gently heat through as they do to bake in the first place, especially deep ones like this.

Smoky Sweet Potato Soup
Martha Stewart recipe, serves 10.

3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed well
1 tart green apple, peeled, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 celery stalk thinly sliced
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 in cubes
6 C chicken stock
1 medium canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ C salted pepitas (green hulled pumpkin seeds) you can substitute roasted seeds from your winter squashes; see recipe below

Heat oil in a large pot over medum heat. Cook garlic and leek until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add apple, celery, and ginger, and cook for 3 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and stock, and simmer until sweet potatoes are trender, about 15 minutes. Add chipotle chile.

Working in batches, transfer mixture to a blender, and puree until smooth, transfering soup to a large bowl as you work. You might also use a hand held soup blender. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with pepitas before serving.

Curry Roasted Pumpkin Seedsthis recipe can be used for any pumpkin or winter squash seeds.

Separate seeds from pulp.

For every 2 C of seeds, combine 3-4 T curry powder, 1 ½ C warm water, 1 T lemon juice, and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil to dissolve curry; add seeds. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Drain, place seeds on an oiled cookie sheet and bake in 250° F oven for 60-75 minutes or until dried out.