Monday, June 30, 2014

CSA News, Week 7

Notes from the Farm Journal, February 2014:

Some weeks are a lot busier than others and this one is allowing little time for a farm news update. Rather we are sharing some notes from this past winter as we were already beginning the work to prepare for your summer farm shares:

     The greenhouse is buttoned up tight, the heaters are fired up, the seed flats are laid out in rows, the water system schedule organized, and we are busy planting away – the 2014 Season is underway!  We see a lot of our friendly UPS driver these days as the boxes of organic seeds arrive.  We tear into the package hoping that the special chard or kale variety we wanted that was “on backorder” is finally arriving.  No, not today, but the lettuce and onion seeds are here – and we need to start on them right away.  The onions take awhile to get going and we need to have a sturdy plant ready when it is time to plant; the lettuce is faster but needs to go outdoors much earlier.  With such small seeds, they must be hand planted, one-at-a-time.  Some larger seeds can be planted with the vacuum seeder (though still all done by hand), a tool that allows the process to move along a little faster.  We sort through our saved seeds and refer to prior year records to make sure we have enough of everything, and don’t leave anything out.  Yes, it is possible to forget to seed the parsnips or poblano peppers?!?

     Once the three greenhouses are filled with seeded flats, we’ll be looking at 32,000 to 34,000 transplants going out to the fields this spring.  Eventually, this year’s vegetable and berries will cover about 35 acres.  Some of those take up a lot of space for the yield – sweet corn, for example.  Other acres will be double or triple cropped- meaning once the spring lettuces are harvested, the same area will be planted with beans, once those are finished and the plant residue cleaned up, the area will be planted with a cover crop, or possibly spinach that can be harvested through the fall.  It can be a little confusing to try to answer the question: How many acres of vegetables do you grow?

     We are fortunate to have the opportunity to see (and hear) many different types of birds at the farm.  Depending on the season, we regularly see robins, redwing blackbirds, sparrows, wrens, maples, blue jays, mocking birds, starlings, great blue herons, buzzards, hawks, cardinals, barn swallows, meadowlarks, Canada geese, and even peacocks!  Earlier this week, there were 17 pairs of Northern cardinals canvassing the grassy area behind the packing barn.  What a sight!

     Additionally, we often see groups of 40 or so turkeys together as we raise heritage breeds here at the farm.  But, we don’t usually have a group of 40 wild turkeys fly in and land, to then move through the pasture searching for seeds, insects, or other food sources.  Then, as they recognize the call of our turkeys, deciding to meet up and visit.  Lots of turkey talk, plumage displaying by the males, scurrying about by the females.  We have to admit, we feel some nervousness, as our turkeys have enough natural instinct that they could decide to just fly off with their wild cousins for a different life.  Luckily, our birds recognize how good they have it with fresh water and nutritious organic grain provided daily, and a weather-protecting shelter they can call home. 

     We are feeding hay to over 125 head of cows, bulls, and their calves daily – some get a large bale hauled by the tractor, some get smaller bales hand carried – averaging out to 9 or 10 of the one ton bales fed daily.  Our small flock of 25 sheep comes into the barn in the evening to access the hay we put in the manger.  And the laying hens and turkeys get to eat twice a day.  The fun thought in all of this – this is the “off” season!  

In Your Share:

Green Bell Pepper
Yellow Squash and Green Zucchini
Swiss Chard
Napa Cabbage


Roasted Beet Sandwich with Hummus and Feta
6 slices of your favorite type of bread, toasted
6 Tbsp hummus of your choice
½ of a red onion, sliced
Couple handfuls of spinach or arugula
3 Tbsp Feta, crumbled
3 Beets, fresh with skin still on, stems trimmed
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Scrub your beets clean and make sure the stems are trimmed off. Place the dried beets on aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.  Fold the foil to make a pouch and place the beets in the oven for about 60 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.  Once the beets are done, let them cool a bit and peel them, they should peel easily.  Slice the beets once they are peeled.  Toast your bread and then spread your hummus on one piece of bread per sandwich then add some arugula and red onion.  Next, place the beet slices on (I used about 4 thick slices per sandwich). Top with a sprinkle of feta, salt and pepper. Top with your other piece of bread. 
Polenta Pie, thanks to a CSA member for sharing this delicious recipe found online – a wonderful one-dish meal.
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
1/8 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Dash of crushed red pepper
Pinch of coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4-5 cups variety of chopped vegetables (I used roma beans, zucchini & yellow squash, and fennel)
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup polenta
3 cups milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
To make the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until tender. Stir in garlic, tomatoes, fennel seed, basil, oregano, and red pepper. Season with salt and black pepper and let simmer for about 30 minutes over low heat.

While the sauce is simmering, roast the vegetables.  Place chopped vegetables on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. When the vegetables are done roasting, set aside to cool and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F.

In a large pot, bring the milk, butter, sugar and salt to a light simmer. Slowly add the polenta to the pot, whisking constantly. Once it starts to thicken, trade the whisk out for a spoon and stir until the polenta pulls away from the sides of the pot. Add half of the Parmesan cheese to the polenta and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Top with the other half of the parmesan.

Evenly spread the roasted vegetables on top of the polenta. Spread the tomato sauce over the vegetables and top with grated mozzarella cheese. Place the pie in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until bubbly and the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Let rest for about 10 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm.

Greens and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts, thanks to a CSA member for sharing this recipe, she enjoyed with spinach!
1.5 pounds chicken breasts, pounded thin
4 oz of goat cheese
10 oz spinach or chard, blanched and drained
1 small onion, diced
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1.5 teaspoon lemon zest
olive oil
1/2 cup flour
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 red pepper diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350.  In a bowl – mix spinach or chard, goat cheese, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Place filling in the middle of each chicken breast – roll chicken and secure with toothpicks.  Lightly sprinkle flour on all side of the chicken – Place chicken in a hot skillet with a little oil – brown the sides of the chicken.  Transfer the chicken to an oven safe casserole dish and bake till chicken is fully cooked (cooking time will vary depending on how thick it is).  In the same skillet you browned the chicken add the oil and onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes and cook for 3 minutes. Add 1 tbs of flour – cook for one minute.  Whisk in stock and cook for 5 minutes – should get thick. Add lemon juice, parsley and roasted peppers.  Spoon sauce over cooked chicken and serve.
Broccoli Salad
5 cups broccoli florets,uncooked
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds*
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup aged cheddar cheese, grated

1 cup Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise
4 Tbsp white sugar
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar (You may also use regular white vinegar)

In place of or in addition to the sunflower seeds you may use any of the following: raisins, dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots, banana chips, or most any dried fruit; walnuts, pecans, almonds, peanuts and any other type of seed.

Prepare and toss together salad ingredients.  Whisk together dressing ingredients.    Pour dressing over salad and mix well. Cover and refrigerate, stir occasionally to blend salad and dressing.  Let stand in fridge a few hours to overnight.

Wilted Greens with Caramelized Onions, recipe adapted from Simple Spoonful
1 T olive oil
1/2 onion, medium chop
1 to 2 large bunches hearty greens such as beet greens, chard, or kale
salt or other spices to taste

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot (you will need the space for the raw greens—shoot big), heat the oil over low to medium heat and add the onions.  Cook the onions slowly over a low heat until they soften, then brown and become sweet, about 25-30 minutes or so, turning periodically.

Meanwhile, wash and coarsely chop the greens.  Once the onions are done, add the greens to the pot and turn up the heat to medium.  Stir the greens occasionally until they wilt, then add your salt and seasoning to taste.  Let everything cook down until it’s still bright green, but nice and tender, about 5-10 minutes.