Monday, May 26, 2014

CSA Farm Share, Week 2

What should you expect to get in your shares this season? Along with the wholesome organic produce, and meat and eggs for some, you can expect to learn more about our philosophy on farming.  We will share information in this space each week about how, as organic farmers, we interact with nature in growing crops, the science behind nature, and the effects of the curve balls she sends our way. 

As you are aware, we moved the CSA season two weeks later because the spinach, asparagus and strawberries told us to. Also, the early annual vegetables went through a 21-degree night in mid-April, burning the outer leaves, and they needed time to grow out of it. All in all, the crops we are harvesting now look good. The later transplants also went through a later-than-normal near frost, slowing them down for a spell as well. We used insect barrier row covers to hedge our bets and provide some frost protection over several acres of the cucumbers, summer squash, melons, tomatoes and peppers.  Thankfully we did not experience a heavy frost those nights, which could have caused some bigger trouble. The rains have provided sufficient soil moisture so far and also have given us enough time between them to get some field work done like planting, weeding, harvesting, and transplanting. Given this two or three week later-than-normal start, we are pleased with how vigorous the plants look. You can expect to get a wide array of seasonal vegetables over the season, but we only have so much control over when exactly that is.

We expect there will be just as many insects this year as any, although their pattern may have been affected by the prolonged cold. Often we hear folks say they hope the bad winter will kill all the bugs. If that were really true, there would be no bugs in Minnesota, but we know farmer friends up there have plenty. Secondly, as long-time members have learned by now, most of the bugs are good guys, and we need them to fair well through the winter. Science has yet to determine exactly how and when they emerge from hibernation. Nature has a way of timing these things, so that the life cycles of beneficial good insects will coincide with the life cycle of the plant hosts.  We expect them to be right on track with this 2 to 3 week delay.

The cattle did just fine through “The winter of ‘14”, although the late greening of pastures stretched our hay resources pretty hard. We always try to put up a little extra, just in case, and this winter was one of those cases.  We counted out the remaining bales in March.  With close attention each day to feeding out the hay, all the animals did have enough, and every single hay bale was eaten.  We are having our best lamb crop in quite some time and are very glad we kept the ram away from the ewes until late last fall, so the little ones did not start arriving until the worst weather passed this spring. Turkeys are hatching at the highest rate we have seen in awhile. Our young pullet hens are late reaching the egg-laying stage, which means egg supplies will be tight for a few more weeks. So, protein shares can expect more of the best, while we will just need to be patient with the hens. Pasture and hay fields are greening and all the livestock are very thrifty right now. Our organic grazing and mowing management seem to be reducing the weed pressure a little more each year.

As farm shareholders, you can expect to be our prime customer. As the harvest comes in from the fields, we happily fulfill your shares first, before we take extra items to the farmers market, or other outlets.  You have made a commitment to Elmwood Stock Farm, and we have a commitment to you – good expectations!

In Your Share This Week:

Roast, steam, sauté or grill and enjoy the various flavors that asparagus brings to your table. 

Green Leaf or Red Leaf Lettuce
When ready to enjoy lettuce, remove the leaves from the stalk and tear into desired size pieces.  A salad spinner allows you to wash away any dirt and completely spin away the rinse water.  Leaves without water will allow your dressing to better adhere. Interested in trying a new spin on salad, try it grilled or sauté with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Use your fresh spinach as an accent in warm or cold side dishes or meals. Simply tear the spinach in small pieces or cut in strips for a new texture or taste.

Warm weather has encouraged fast ripening of the berries this week, so your share includes more than last time.  Add this first fruit of the season to enhance side dishes, desserts, and salads or as a snack.

Swiss Chard
Chard is a tall leafy green vegetable and belongs to the same family as beets and spinach.  It shares a similar taste profile as spinach with a stronger flavor and courser texture.  It takes more cooking and is not as good raw, but it suits gratins, pastas, quiches, and pies.  Swiss chard truly has an impressive list of health-promoting nutrients. Although Swiss chard is available throughout the year in the supermarket, its peak-growing season for KY runs from June through September.

Chard has a thick, crunchy stalk to which fan-like wide green leaves are attached. The leaves may either be smooth or curly, depending upon the variety, and feature lighter-colored ribs running throughout. The stalk, which can measure almost two feet in length if left to grow unharvested, is available in a variety of colors including white, red, yellow, pink and orange.


Garlicky Swiss Chard and Chickpeas serves 6
1 or 2 bunches Swiss chard, center stems cut out and leaves coarsely chopped
1 15.5 oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium shallots, finely chopped (about ½ c)
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
2 tbsp lemon juice (fresh is best)
1 tbsp olive oil, divided
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add half of the chard and cook 1 to 2 minutes.  When the first half has wilted, add the remaining chard.  When all of the chard is wilted, add the chicken broth.  Cover the chard and cook 10 minutes.  Drain the chard through a fine sieve (strainer) and set it aside.  Wipe out the skillet and heat the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until they are softened, about 2 minutes.  Add the chard and chickpeas and cook until heated through 3 to 4 minutes.  Drizzle the lemon juice over the mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle cheese on top.

Parmesan Asparagus
10 fresh asparagus spears trimmed
olive oil cooking spray or olive oil
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp garlic salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Lightly coat asparagus with olive oil or cooking spray; place on prepared baking sheet.  Combine parmesan cheese and garlic salt in a small bowl; set aside.  Bake in preheated oven for 6 minutes; turn asparagus and continue baking until tender, about 6 minutes.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese mixture over asparagus.

Strawberry Short Cake
1 egg
1/3 c butter or shortening
1 ¾ c flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 c milk (or buttermilk)
¼ c sugar
1/8 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients until incorporated and pour batter into greased muffin tins.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until a toothpick can be inserted and comes out clean.  Makes 10-12 muffins.

Serve with fresh strawberries and ice cream, whipped cream and/or milk.  Yum!

Easy Lettuce Salad
5-6 oz mixed lettuces, tear in bite sized pieces
1 baby fennel bulb, finely sliced
1 small red onion, finely sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Put lettuce, fennel, and onion in a bowl.  Just before serving drizzle with olive oil and vinegar over salad and toss lightly and serve.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Week 1, 2014 Summer CSA Farm Share

Welcome to the 2014 season of Elmwood Stock Farm’s Community Supported Agriculture program. Our goal is to provide you clean, tasty, beautiful, special, high quality fresh foods. We hope you enjoy eating fresh from the farm and have fun with the experience of sometimes trying new things! 

Seasonal eating is an adventure. As each bag or box comes, you may be exposed to the new colors and flavors of foods you have never cooked with before, or you may be anticipating the freshness and deliciousness of familiar favorites.  Either way, here are a few tips for eating from a seasonal farm share:

• Take a few minutes to assess what you have – look at the listing on the right side of the newsletter - you might choose to utilize the swap basket at your pickup location. When you get home, decide what needs to be eaten fairly soon and what can wait until later in the week. A few minutes now will save you time later and often some items are more perishable than others – we will include suggestions each week on what keeps well and how to store things.

• Remember to wash your vegetables. We do not offer the produce ready to eat. Some items are rinsed and cooled before you get them, but this aids in removing dirt and reducing the field temperature – things we do to ensure better post-harvest quality.

• Try to refrigerate as soon as possible. This is the number one way to keep everything fresh. You can rehydrate leafy greens or lettuce by soaking in cold water; let us know if you need help.

• Find recipes that fit your lifestyle from our newsletters, cookbooks or the internet. Visit our Pinterest page; visit our Elmwood blog for many recipes from past seasons.  For example, if you look at shares harvested in May of past seasons, you’ll find lots of recipes using asparagus.

Our 22-week summer season is focused on the months of the year that vegetables flourish when grown in Central Kentucky. You start off with asparagus and spring greens; move to hot weather tomatoes, corn, and beans; then wind down in the fall with root crops and winter squashes. This is the normal production cycle, but every year Mother Nature throws us a surprise. A little uncertainty of what will be ready from week to week makes it fun for all of us!

In Your Share This Week:


Peregion Dry Beans

Green Leaf or Red Leaf Lettuce


Salad Radishes



Strawberry & Avocado Salad
1 pint strawberries
1 ripe avocado
1 tbsp. local honey (or more to taste)
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp. garlic salt
¼ tsp. sugar
Mix all ingredients together and serve as a side or over a bed of mixed greens or spinach.

Dried Bean Burrito Bowls
Cooked brown rice
Roasted red peppers, chopped
Cooked beans (soaked, drained and cooked)
Salsa verde
Fresh cilantro
Avocado, diced
Lime wedge
Red pepper flakes
In a bowl, reheat the rice. Top with chopped red pepper. Mix together the black beans and salsa verde in a separate bowl, and heat them up together. Pour on top of the rice and red pepper. Top with avocado, cilantro, a big squeeze of lime and red pepper flakes.

Fresh Asparagus & New Potatoes
1 bunch fresh asparagus, ends trimmed, cut in 1 1/2 – 2 inch pieces
1-2 pounds new potatoes, cut in half or thirds (the larger ones)
olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed between fingertips
sea or kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1-2 tablespoons fresh basil or parsley, chopped
fresh grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In an extra large mixing bowl toss the asparagus, potatoes, 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, Italian seasoning and plenty of salt and pepper together. Alternately you can use your hands to massage the oil and seasonings into the vegetables.
  2. Grease a roasting pan, casserole dish or sheet pan. Roast vegetables about 35-45 minutes until potatoes are tender. Garnish with fresh herbs. Serve with Parmesan cheese.
Sautéed Garden Radishes
1-2 bunches radishes ( up to 1 pound)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (optional)
Cut radishes lengthwise into 1/2-inch julienne strips.  Heat butter in a heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, add garlic and sauté about 30 seconds or until it is fragrant.  Add radishes and sauté radishes with salt, stirring, until crisp-tender, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve warm.  
Variations:  *Radish greens can be chopped and sautéed in the heavy skillet, stirring, until wilted, about 1 minute.   **Return radish wedges to skillet and stir in chives.