Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 20, CSA News

Are you Signed Up for the FALL SEASON? Go online or call us at the farm to organize your Fall shares today.

 Transition Time
With the tree leaves turning all shades of yellow and red, the walnuts falling, and some fall crops coming in, it signals us to think differently about what to eat in the coming months. Years ago, we more or less shut down produce operations shortly after the first killing frost, now we have the good stuff virtually year round. With your support, we have built a reliable program to ensure you have access to the most wholesome food around. There are only three weeks left in your “summer share”, so here are some options to keep eating well.

Our Fall CSA share starts the week following the last summer share, so nobody will miss out on all the good veggies. The fall program is five shares over ten weeks and timed to coincide with the holiday cooking schedule. All colors of potatoes are secured in the cooler and the sweet potato harvest has begun. Fall squash abounds, and the lettuce and greens will be in their prime in cooler weather. Check on our website for the amended pick-up location schedule and get signed up.

The leadership of the Lexington Farmers Market is working to put a weather wrap around the North end of the downtown pavilion to make for a better marketing environment for its customers and vendors. We toughed it out all winter last year, along with a few other farms. As cold and snowy as it was, customers still prefer the Saturday outdoor market to an indoor location. Short Street will remain open and there will be patio heaters inside for additional comfort. With these amenities, the honey and flower farmers can keep coming as well. And you can be assured that we will be downtown each Saturday.  

When making your Holiday cooking plans, be sure to secure the perfect Turkey or that Leg-of-Lamb that is part of your family tradition. We have the best turkey crop we have ever had at Elmwood Stock Farm. Things started with a great hatching percentage, albeit a bit late due to a cold spring. Using knowledge that we have learned over the years about rearing young poults and employing improved pasture management systems, the turkeys look great. We take pre-orders for every turkey. You can sign up at the market or via email, but do not put it off as the more popular sizes may sell out. Information about the organic Heritage and Broad Breasted breeds are on our web blog – the site where all of your CSA Farm share newsletters are archived.

Beef and lamb is now available as well. With all the rain throughout the summer, the pastures are flush with good clovers and bluegrass to boost our grass fed program. Various cuts are available at the market, but you may want to reserve several strip steaks, or a leg-of-lamb for that special holiday treat. You can pick one up now, or we can hold it for you until you are ready to prepare for family or friends.

As the shorter cooler days of fall descend upon the Bluegrass, there are still lots of ways to access local organic food. We will make it as easy as we can with the Fall CSA delivery schedule, and you can always set up a time to stop in at the farm. We grew some extra Roma tomatoes with the intent to have diced tomatoes, marinara, ketchup, and salsa available for you in BPA free jars. You have our email address for special orders, or feel free to phone and talk over any questions.  Consider being a year round CSA Shareholder and sign up for one of the Winter CSA options we offer in January through March – we’ll have details available after Thanksgiving.

We can be found in the Pavilion in downtown Lexington on Saturday mornings. On a cold or wet Saturday morning, bundle up and come see us at the market. We will be genuinely glad you did, and we have more time to talk and share stories with you than the busy summer markets allow. Secure some extra greens and freeze them for the winter months. The organic meats, a sample CSA share, or the jarred tomato products make great gifts – we also offer gift certificates. 

Thank you for your loyalty, and know we are proud to be your farmer all year!

In Your Share :

Sweet Pepper
Spaghetti Squash
Sweet Potatoes
Fresh Herbs
Lacinato Black Kale
Hot Pepper


Baked Spaghetti Squash with Beef and Vegetables, from All Recipes magazine, serves 6
2 to 3 lb. spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 lb. ground beef or 1 package Italian sausage, removed from casing
½ C green bell pepper, diced
½ C red bell pepper, diced
¼ C red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
14.5 oz. diced tomatoes, drained
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 ¼ C shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Place squash on a baking sheet, cut sides down and bake 40 minutes, or until tender.  Cool slightly to handle, then shred with a fork and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.  Lightly grease a casserole dish. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef until evenly browned. Drain off most of the fat, then mix in the green pepper, red pepper, onion and garlic. Continue to cook and stir until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Mix the shredded squash and tomatoes into the skillet, and add seasonings.  Cook and stir until heated through.  Remove from heat and mix in 2 C cheese until melted.  Transfer to prepared casserole dish. Bake 25 minutes.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese and continue baking 5 minutes more until cheese is melted.

One Skillet Sweet Potato Burrito Bowls
1 pound (heaping 2 C) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
3 T olive oil, separated
1 C chopped sweet bell pepper
1 C rice (uncooked white rice OR pre-cooked if brown rice)
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes OR equivalent diced fresh tomatoes
1 15.25 oz. can black beans OR equivalent of home-cooked beans
1 C frozen corn
½ tsp minced garlic
½ tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 C vegetable or chicken broth
2 T fresh lime juice, optional
1 ½ C shredded cheddar cheese

Toppings: sour cream, along with other options such as chopped cilantro, chopped avocado or guacamole, chopped fresh Roma tomato
In a large skillet over medium high heat, combine 2 T olive oil with all of the sweet potatoes. (If you don't like any amount of crunch to your sweet peppers, add them after the sweet potatoes have been cooking for about 6-8 minutes.) Sauté the sweet potatoes for 8-10 minutes or until pretty tender. Add in remaining 1 T olive oil and the rice.  Cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes at medium heat. Add in the undrained diced tomatoes, drained & rinsed black beans, frozen corn, minced garlic, chili powder, cumin, and vegetable or chicken broth. Give everything a really good stir, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a little bit above low, but not quite to medium heat. Cover the skillet with a lid and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes or until all the liquid is drained and the rice is cooked through. Remove the lid and stir in the lime juice. Top with the shredded cheddar cheese and then cover the skillet for 1-2 minutes to allow the cheese to melt. When serving, top your burrito bowls with sour cream and/or any other desired toppings.

Simple Radish Salad
1 bunch radishes, greens removed
2 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
dash soy sauce
toasted sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds

Wash radishes and slice pretty thin, then toss with the dressing ingredients.   Store refrigerated.  Toss on a few seeds as a garnish when ready to serve.

Monday, September 22, 2014

CSA News, Week 19

Are you Signed Up for the FALL SEASON? Go online or call us at the farm to organize your Fall shares today.

Little Livestock

We have made reference over the years about how we depend on certain insects to combat the other insects that prey on our plants. Let’s take a closer look at some of the insectivores we raise at Elmwood Stock Farm, along with the herbivores, omnivores, fruits, and veggies. We grow flowering plants in strips amongst the vegetables, and elsewhere around the farm, to provide food and housing for these guys to encourage them to proliferate and rear their young. We also purchase some of these from Entomology Solutions in Louisville. (You may want to consider seeding your own yard).

Everybody’s favorite, and most well-known, is the Convergent Lady Beetle, aka Ladybug. Adults may consume as many as 5000 aphids in a one year lifespan, the females laying 1500 eggs as well. Ladybugs are unique in that the adult and the larvae are predacious, meaning they chew up and eat the entire aphid. The larvae look like little alligators and have a voracious appetite as they are growing so fast. They do tend to fly away as soon as all the aphids are gone, so periodic restocking may be necessary, but hey, they are working a wider area reducing aphids everywhere.

Aphidoletes aphidimyza sounds like it is an aphid rather than an insect that preys on aphids. The adults look like a mosquito and they are very good at locating aphid populations (that gets into the fascinating realm of pheromones). The legless larvae can eat 50 aphids per day. Actually they bite the aphid, inject a toxin, and then suck all the fluid out. The life cycle is about 2-3 weeks, depending on temperature and other climatic factors, and we may see 3-6 generations per year. 

Lacewings are dainty little-winged insects that as adults lay awesome eggs. Each tiny egg is perched atop a hair-like structure about half an inch tall. They are scattered around the plant leaf or even sometimes on fruit (we see them most on peppers and tomatoes). The larvae that hatch walk down the hair and begin eating any soft-bodied insect they encounter. For this reason, the eggs hatch at differing rates to prevent cannibalism. The adults require pollen and nectar from flowering plants, which is why we plant some nearby to provide a desired habitat for these beneficials. Buckwheat flowers over a long period of time, and that sappy stuff on sunflower stems is actually great nectar.

Trichogramma wasps are so small, they lay their eggs in the eggs of other insects without harming them. However, when the larvae hatch inside the host egg, they eat the contents before emerging and flying away. It selects caterpillar type species as these have a long egg cycle, and if the caterpillars hatch, they can devastate a crop. These wasps are tricky to manage as they need the host eggs to be present, but if there are too many host eggs, these little wasps cannot parasitize all the eggs in a timely manner. We monitor this threshold and release them at the most opportune time. Scouting the fields, looking at the populations of the good and bad bugs and deciding where that threshold is, is part of what makes farming such a cool profession.

Many of the pest insects have one stage of their life below ground and we have some help down there as well. Beneficial nematodes are teeny tiny worms that eat some 250 species of insect eggs, larvae, pupae, or adults. They are very effective against grubs that later will become Japanese Beetles. They can survive long periods with no host at all, and reproduce quickly when another food source becomes available. We have inoculated the fields with these over the years with great success. 

Non-organic farmers are trained to use some toxic chemical if the pest threshold is exceeded, eliminating all of the insects in the field, bad and good alike. Certified organic farmers have a few botanical compounds that can be used on the herbivorous insects that have no effect on the insectivores. We are only allowed to use these sprays when all other means have failed and we document such use in our records for our annual organic certification inspection.

There are lots of other beneficial insects out there and we try very hard to harbor them and give them safe haven. By releasing fresh generations, we are augmenting our host population and establishing a new equilibrium with the pest population with a much lower threshold of pest pressure. Frankly, we do not have outbreaks with some pests these days that were devastating a few short years ago. So you may consider adding flowering and nectar generating plants in your landscape, and who knows, maybe one of our Convergent Ladybugs may take up residence in your yard.

In Your Share

Sweet Corn 
Kale Greens
Sweet Pepper
Yellow Squash
Baby Leeks 


Kale and Potato Curry

3 T grapeseed or vegetable oil

2 medium yellow onions, diced

4 large garlic cloves, minced

Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled & minced

1 jalapeño chile, thinly sliced (with seeds)

3 T sweet curry powder

1 tsp tumeric

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp cayenne pepper

1 large bunch kale, chopped

1 large tomato, diced

1 C water

1 ½ lb (about 4 medium) potatoes

1 can coconut milk

1 T salt or to taste

2 tsp dried basil or 2 T fresh slivered basil

¼ C fresh oregano leaves

Rice or other grain for serving

In a medium Dutch oven or stockpot, heat oil over medium flame until shimmering. Add onions, reduce heat to medium-low, and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and jalapeño; sauté until fragrant, about 1 – 2 minutes. Add curry powder, turmeric, cinnamon and cayenne pepper: stirring constantly, cook for 1 minute. Add kale in two batches, stirring and sautéing until kale is wilted. Add tomato and water, stir and reduce heat to low while you prepare the potatoes. Peel and dice potatoes. Add potatoes, coconut milk, salt, and dried basil (if using fresh basil, add at the end with the oregano) to the pot. Stir well and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20-30 minutes3. Uncover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 10 – 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in oregano and serve hot over rice.

Tex-Mex Summer Squash Casserole

2 ¼ summer squash, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (about 10 C)

2/3 C finely chopped yellow onion

1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles

1 4 ½ -ounce can chopped jalapeños, about ½ C, drained

½ tsp salt, or to taste

2 ¼ C grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, (about 7 ounces), divided

¼ C all-purpose flour

¾ C mild salsa

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.  Sauté onion in a small amount of olive oil until translucent. Combine squash, onion, chiles, jalapeños, salt and ¾ C cheese in a large bowl. Sprinkle with flour; toss to coat. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish and cover with foil. Bake the casserole until it is bubbling and the squash is tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Spoon salsa over the casserole and sprinkle with the remaining 1 ½ C cheese. Bake, uncovered, until golden and heated through, 20 to 30 minutes. Options:  (1) Add a can of black beans for a vegetarian main dish; add sausage or chicken for a non-vegetarian main.  (2) Omit jalapeños and increase green chiles to two cans to reduce heat level.

Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad

1/3 C extra virgin olive oil

4 oz sliced pancetta, diced

¼ C Champagne vinegar

¼ C pure maple syrup

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 bunch kale, stems discarded, leaves shredded

2 tart yet sweet apples, sliced into thick matchsticks

¾ C pecans, toasted if desired

Combine the olive oil and pancetta in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until pancetta is golden and crispy. Strain the pan drippings into a small bowl and leave the crispy pancetta off to the side to cool. Add the Champagne vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper and whisk well. Combine the kale, apples and pecans in a large bowl. Toss while adding the dressing, little by little, until salad is well dressed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with crispy pancetta.