Monday, June 24, 2013

Week 8, What Kind of Schedule do You Keep?


There are only a few givens at Elmwood Stock Farm.  We do our best to have all your shares at the appointed time and place.  We do our best to be at every Lexington Farmers Market location as scheduled.  It drops off pretty quick after that.  We have an idea of when cows are gonna calve or need to be bred, so they will have that calf when it works best for them, and us.  We have an idea when strawberries and asparagus are going to be harvested, (google “KY Proud produce seasonal chart” so you will have an idea for yourself) but starting dates each year vary from mid-April to mid-May.  The turkey eggs we gather for hatching are clearly three weeks behind last year.  Maturity dates on seed varieties are a bit of a misnomer, as the vagaries of the weather seem to make them more of a suggestion.  The only other given is that each and every leaf or seed, or fruit will be harvested at the optimum time, one at a time, by human hands.

Just like you don’t know in advance what is going to be in your weekly share, we do not either, often until the morning of harvest, or often the day before.  Once we know that strawberry season begun and the weather pattern we are in, we can generally predict what will be ready in the coming days.  We speculate a little further out when making cultural control decisions.  For example, a few small weeds make the field look hairy, but are not hindering the lettuce growth, and cultivation might throw dirt onto the leaves, knowing those whole rows will be tilled and replanted after harvest any way.  But if you don’t catch the soil at the right time after a rain on a long season crop like kale, the weeds will run rampant, and that will take time we don’t have scheduled for a bunch of folks to go chop out with hoes.  When the winter weather breaks in the spring, we plant lettuce seeds of several varieties and also transplant plants from the greenhouse of several varieties with the plan they will ripen over a several week period before it gets too hot. However, it is not uncommon for these to overlap, requiring them to be harvested at the same time, which was not on the schedule.  Some crops can be selectively harvested like “all the ones over 3 inches” or “only the ones with no green showing”.  For other crops, we have to send in a crew and “get everything out there”.  Scheduling all this can get quite tricky when the truck has to leave the farm loaded with CSA shares by a certain time. 

There is also the human factor to contend with here.  We have an excellent and dependable crew scheduled to pull all this together in a logical and timely manner.  While some are harvesting the selective ripe items, others are washing.  For the “get ‘em all” crops, everyone goes out en-masse to bring the crop back to the shed most efficiently.  Certain crops should be picked with cool morning dew on, others would be ruined if done so.  And, then a huge storm blows in.  Working in the rain is one thing often done by our harvest crew.  Being out in a lightning storm is another.  Super-duper Doppler radar may be a good tool, but old-fashioned common sense takes over when the lightning is on the horizon.  Obviously that is not something that can be scheduled. 

The storms also add a dimension of urgency.  Often we find ourselves leaving the confines of safe shelter of the packing shed to dodge lightning bolts, face sideways blowing rain drops, marble sized hail, to cover an important piece of equipment, or get the crop onto the truck or wagon for transport to a barn.  Young livestock and poultry must be tended to, to be sure they are able to make safe haven.  The old joke is farmers are so dumb, they work until they get wet and then stop, whereas if they had stopped a few minutes before, they would be dry.  Actually, that is just how the schedule works when a hot storm blows in, often minutes really do matter. 

Tractor, vehicle, and equipment maintenance plays a role in our scheduling confidence.  Beyond the occasional flat tire, farm machinery must be properly greased, adjusted, and cleaned for safe and functional operation.  Being able to replace a faulty switch or weld the doo-fitchet back to the thing-a-ma-bob in a timely manner is critical to keeping all this on schedule.  Having people scheduled to operate machinery or implements when the time is right can get a little challenging at times. 

Be it a seed or a creature, our schedule is dictated by something that is somewhat out of our control.  So, we are not exactly sure what is going to be in your share next week, but it’s on our schedule to allow time to figure it out, and get it all to you on time!

In Your Share  

Broccoli – organic

Carrots - organic

Garlic Scapes – organic

Kohlrabi - organic

Lettuce – organic

Napa Cabbage – organic

Summer Squash Medley

Rainbow Swiss Chard – organic

Sugar Snap Peas – organic
if the pods are too mature, string the pod and still enjoy the peas as shell-outs!
Recipes to Enjoy
Spaghetti with Broccoli Cream Pesto, thanks to a CSA member for sharing this Smitten Kitchen recipe, one of the best!

1/2 pound broccoli
1/2 pound dried spaghetti
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper or pinches of red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons heavy cream
Grated parmesan 

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Remove broccoli florets from stems and chop into medium florets. Peel stems and slice into 1/2-inch segments. 

Steam (5-6 minutes) or par-boil (for 3 to 5 minutes) your broccoli florets and stems until just tender, then drain if needed and set them aside. 

Add pasta to water and cook until al dente, or about one minute less than fully cooked. Before draining pasta, reserve a cup of pasta cooking water and set it aside. Drain pasta. 

Wipe out pot and melt butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Add onion and reduce to medium-low, sautéing it until tender, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another two minutes. Add steamed broccoli, salt and red or black pepper and turn the heat back up to medium-high, cooking it with the onion and garlic for a few additional minutes. Pour cream over mixture and let cook for 30 seconds.

Transfer broccoli to a blender or food processor and blend in short bursts until it’s finely chopped and a little sauce. Add the broccoli sauce back to the pot with the drained spaghetti and a splash or two of the reserved pasta water. Cook over medium-high for 1 to 2 minutes, tossing the mixture so that it evenly coats. Add more pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Adjust seasonings to taste, adding more salt or pepper, sprinkle with Parmesan.

Pickled Garlic Scapes, our thanks to a CSA member for sharing this recipe found online.  It is adapted from the “Dilly Beans” recipe from the Ball Blue Book® Guide to Preserving.  Makes approximately 1 pint

1 bunch garlic scapes (approximately what you can wrap two hands around, shoots aligned)
2 tablespoons canning & pickling salt
1 cup vinegar (white vinegar or cider vinegar is fine, as long as the acidity is 5 percent)
1 cup water
2 cloves garlic, split
½ teaspoon dried dill

Insert empty jar in a saucepan and add water until the jar is covered by at least one inch. Remove jar, cover pan and bring up to a boil.

Clean and trim garlic scapes below flower head, cut to 4 ½-inch lengths. Use straightest parts of garlic scape as much as possible, though curved portions are also fine. Pack lengthwise into clean one-pint jar until full. Remove garlic scapes and sterilize jar.

Combine salt, vinegar and water in saucepot and bring to a boil. Keep hot.

Add dill, split garlic and trimmed garlic scapes to hot jar. Slowly pour hot liquid into jar, allowing small spaces to fill and air bubbles to rise, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Insert a non-metallic flat-edged spatula between the food and the side of the jar to remove air bubbles.

Adjust two-piece cap. Process pint jar for 10 minutes in boiling water.  Note: Pickled preserves are best opened after standing for a minimum of 2 weeks…but the longer the better!

Kohlrabi Fries, recipe from an online source:

1 medium kohlrabi, trimmed and peeled, be sure to remove peel of any color - the tender white inside is the good stuff.
olive oil
minced garlic or garlic powder (to taste)
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.  Cut trimmed kohlrabi into 1/4-inch matchsticks. Toss with the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and transfer to your lined baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake for a total of about 25-30 minutes, tossing occasionally. The fries will be crisp and roasted when finished.  Drain on a bed of paper towels, transfer to a plate(s) or a platter, adjust seasoning and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.  Serves 2-4 picky eaters.

Indian Red Lentil and Kohlrabi Salad with Couscous, recipe from  Can be served cold or at room temperature.

 2+1/2 T champagne or white wine vinegar
2 tsp garam masala
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1/3 C finely minced garlic scapes (about 3), divided
2/3 C red lentils
1 C thinly sliced greens (kohlrabi, beet, chard, kale, really any will be good)
1 medium kohlrabi bulb, peeled and cut into a 1/4-inch dice (about 1+1/2 cups)
1/3 C plain couscous
1/4 C raisins, rehydrated in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes (optional)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the vinegar and garam masala in a small bowl with a whisk. Stream in the olive oil and stir in a tablespoon of the minced garlic scapes. Set aside.

Cook the lentils and sliced greens in a pot of salted, boiling water until lentils are just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain into a sieve and rinse under cold water. Drain again, pressing the remaining water out with the back of a spoon.

In the same pot, bring 1/2 cup water to a boil and remove from the heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the dressing along with the couscous. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. When all of the water has been absorbed, spoon couscous into a large bowl and fluff with a fork. Allow to cool slightly.

To the bowl add the remaining garlic scapes, lentils and greens, and diced kohlrabi. Pour the reserved dressing over the top. Mix gently to combine. Season with sea salt and pepper and mix in the rehydrated raisins, if desired.  Serves 2 as a main course.