Monday, September 3, 2012

CSA Week 18

Farm Update.  Around Labor Day, our thoughts move from summer activities to the fall season, and this year our food items are on the same schedule.  After an early start to warm summer temperatures, and a hot, accelerated growing season, some of the summer vegetables want to put on the brakes.  Day length, air and soil temperature, moisture, rainfall and dormancy needs all play a part in how long a plant will produce fruit.   The first and second tomato crops are finished, but the third is still producing – though the growth rate and ripening slows down.  Hot and sweet peppers are doing much better than earlier in the summer with the 100°+ days.  The eggplant and green beans are doing very well this year.  Though we didn’t intend for such a break between the early and late summer squash and cucumber crops, the new plantings look good and we are starting to see some blooms indicating harvestable fruit soon.  We have a little more sweet corn starting to tassel, hoping for at least one more harvest this month.

We are digging potatoes whenever the soil is not too wet or too dry, both make it difficult work and we risk bruising the tender new potatoes.  Sweet potatoes and winter squashes are still sizing up and the recent rain showers will give them the extra help that our irrigation just cannot mimic.  We’ve planted many cool season crops including beets, carrots, lettuces, greens, winter radish, spinach and more.  Irrigation has allowed germination, and the little bit of rain over the weekend will help them along. 

You’ve been asking us about Fall CSA.  Many of you are already signed up for the farm’s Fall CSA program that runs mid-October through mid-December. We do not expect all members to be interested in fall crops. But, for those folks who want to continue eating locally grown, nutritious vegetables, we are pleased to offer a seasonal eating option.

We grow items outside in our regular crop fields and in the ground inside the unheated high tunnel, and we have items in our cooler grown for storage into winter. With cold weather and much shorter day lengths, each vegetable will be slower to grow and cannot be harvested as often as we do in the summer. We offer one size share for the fall season that contains at least seven up to a dozen different types of vegetables – enough for two weeks of eating including some items to store for later in the winter. Items could be lettuce, cooking greens, crops like broccoli or cabbage, potatoes, winter squash, and other items such as root crops, herbs, or specialty greens. If we have a late freeze this fall, some warm weather summer vegetables will also be in the early shares.

During the Fall Season, we offer distribution in Lexington on Thursday afternoon or Saturda
y morning and at the farm on Friday afternoon, every two weeks, a total of five pickups over 10 weeks. The first pickup this fall is October 18-20. Visit the CSA page of our website to review a signup form – we have about 20 more shares available – just print out and send in to the farm. Meat shares and Egg shares can also be added. 

One of the Fall CSA distributions is the weekend prior to Thanksgiving so you will be well stocked for your holiday cooking. In the meantime, pop any extra peppers or beans in your freezer for later this fall or winter. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the fresh flavor on a dreary winter day, and proud of yourself for the extra effort taken now.

Gobble Gobble, Turkey Talk   Did you know that Elmwood Stock Farm is one of just a handful of 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 turkey breeds as in danger of extinction. As farms cannot afford the costs and upkeep of heritage breed animals without a supporting source of income to offset the expenses, 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 are now starting to take pre-orders for Elmwood turkeys either in person or though email. Turkeys are processed at a USDA inspected facility and will be ready for pickup the weekend prior to Thanksgiving or reserved for December holidays. Just contact the farm and we’ll share more details with you on expected sizes, the differences in taste and appearance dependent on heritage or broad-breasted breeds, and pricing.

Compliment to our Neighbors   We feel fortunate to have Lexington Pasta Company set up their booth next to our booth on both Saturday and Sunday at the Lexington Farmers Market.  They make many unique flavors of pasta, ravioli, and gnocchi, which have been a great addition to the offering at the market.  We see many of you shopping at the table before or after stopping at ours.  Their pasta is a great compliment to the vegetables you get from the farm, and makes a quick and easy dinner quite delectable.  They have seen how eating from a CSA share has encouraged many of you to try new vegetables or new recipes, so they are starting a Pasta Club to help folks try the varied pastas and expand their palates.  We have developed a good relationship over the years with owners, Lesme and Ray, and even swap products at the end of most market days.  As they have developed their own take on the CSA model, it seemed appropriate to share with you since each of our products compliments the other.

In Your Share

Stringless Green Beans- organic

Okra – organic

Celery – organic

Garlic - organic

Herb Bunch – organic
Fresh Rosemary OR Sage OR Thyme

Onions – organic

Bell Peppers

Potatoes – organic
All Blue OR Fingerling OR Red Gold OR Yukon Gold

Tomatoes – organic


Baby Leeks - organic

Recipes to Enjoy

Parmesan Celery Salad, shared by a friend of the farm from the popular 101 cookbooks website.

8 large celery stalks, stripped of strings
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 T freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for topping
1 ½ C cooked cannellini or garbanzo beans, heated
3 T currants (or golden raisins)
½ C / 1 ½ oz sliced almonds, deeply toasted
sea salt or homemade celery salt
freshly chopped herbs,  herb flowers, or celery leaves

Slice the celery stalks quite thinly - 1/8-inch or so. Then, in a small bowl, make a paste with the olive oil, lemon juice, and Parmesan. Set aside. In a large bowl toss the heated beans with the olive oil-Parmesan mixture. When well combined, add the celery, currants, and most of the almonds. Toss once more. Taste and add a bit of salt if needed. Serve in a bowl or platter topped with herb flowers and/or celery leaves. Serves 4-6.

Potato Tomato Gratin, adapted from a Sunday Suppers at Lucques recipe by Suzanne Goin

5 T extra-virgin olive oil
6 C thinly sliced onions (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 T thyme leaves, divided
1 T unsalted butter
1 ¼ pound potatoes, peeled or not, your preference
½ C heavy cream
2 ¼ pound tomatoes, green or ripe
¼ C sliced basil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over high heat until hot, then add 3 T olive oil, the onions, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp salt, and some pepper. Cook for 6 minutes, stirring often, then turn down the heat to medium and add the butter. Cook an additional 10-15 minutes, scraping with a spoon or spatula until the onions start to caramelize. Turn the heat down to low and continue cooking until the onions are a deep golden brown, another 5-10 minutes. Turn the heat off and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Thinly slice the potatoes (using a mandoline or a sharp chef’s knife) into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Toss them in a bowl with the cream, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp salt, and some freshly ground black pepper.

Slice the tomatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices, arrange them on a plate and season with 1 teaspoon salt and some pepper.

To layer the gratin, first spread half the caramelized onions in an even layer in a 9×9 inch gratin or baking dish. Top the onions with one layer of alternating potatoes and tomatoes (using about half of each), then drizzle with 2 T cream (from the potato bowl) and 1 T olive oil. Season with ¼ tsp salt, a healthy pinch of black pepper, ½ tsp thyme and half the basil.

Repeat the layers, making the top potato/tomato layer pretty since this is the top presentation layer of the gratin. Pour the remaining cream (from the potato bowl) and remaining tablespoon olive oil over the gratin and season with ¼ tsp salt, a pinch of pepper, the remaining ¼ tsp thyme and the remaining basil. Press all the vegetables down with your fingers; the cream will come up through the layers and coat the vegetables evenly.

Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 ½  to 2 hours, until the potatoes are tender when pierced. Turn the oven temperature up to 450 degrees F, uncover the gratin, and bake an additional 25-30 minutes until the top is bubbly and golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving.

Velvety Vegetable Soup, from Marty Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert’s Simply in Season

1 small onion, chopped
2 C leeks, diced white part and as much of green part as is tender
½ C celery, diced
2 T olive oil
1 T fresh tarragon, chopped or 1 tsp dried
½ T fresh thyme, chopped or ½ tsp dried
½ tsp salt or to taste
¼ tsp black pepper
2 C chicken or vegetable stock
1 ½ C diced potatoes
¼ C cream or milk

Sauté onion, leeks and celery in olive oil over medium-low heat until wilted, about 15 minutes.  Add herbs, salt and pepper and stir well.  Add broth and potatoes and cover.  Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove soup from heat.  Puree with hand blender in pot or in small batches in regular blender or food processor.  Return soup to pot and place over low heat.
Add milk and heat through.  Add additional broth if thinner consistency is preferred.  Adjust seasonings and serve.  Optional garnish includes a swirl of plain yogurt, a sprig of fresh herb, or a celery leaf.

Oven Fried Okra
½ C organic cornmeal
1 tsp salt or favorite seasoning
¼ tsp black pepper
1 pint organic fresh okra
2/3 C milk

Preheat oven to 400°F. Oil a shallow baking pan, set aside.
Mix together cornmeal with seasonings.  Slice fresh okra into bite sized pieces, discarding stem.  Dip okra pieces into milk, then into cornmeal mixture until coated.  Spread cornmeal-coated okra evenly in baking pan.  Bake for 30-45 minutes, stirring often.