Monday, September 28, 2015

Week 22, Last CSA Share of Summer Season

It’s the Last Summer Share, But Good Food Keeps Growing

How quickly we find ourselves harvesting your last share of the summer season! We know you enjoyed a lot of wholesome organic food this year, despite an extremely challenging growing season. Through your share and our weekly newsletter, we hope you gained some knowledge about the value of organic food for you, for your farmers, for the environment, and for the larger public good. By now you know that eating seasonally does not have to end this week. We have fall and winter shares available and the farmers markets are far from over, in fact the Lexington Farmers Market runs year-round on Saturdays in the Pavilion, even all winter.

Early October used to be the end of the growing season for us, and the end of the farmers markets. We gleaned what we could find for ourselves well up into winter and of course there were the stored potatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squash waiting for us in the pantry. As we began extending the season somewhat, we figured others might want access to local organic veggies as well, so we planted specifically for fall production, and customer response was very encouraging. Now we offer Fall CSA Farm shares, customer attendance at the markets remains strong, and we even extend production and product availability into the winter months as well.

As summer season shareholders, you no doubt have experimented with some new recipes, and learned to preserve some items you could not eat while fresh. Some of you may have enjoyed something this season you never would have tried, were it not in your share. We thank those of you who asked your friends or family to pick up your share this summer when you were away. They often become new customers at the farmers market and some even sign up for their own share the following season, after the “small taste” they experienced. We appreciate your referral of Elmwood’s CSA farm share program as we continue to spread the word of eating local and eating organic.

The weather made for some tough farming this year, with the unprecedented wetness early and droughty conditions of late, and we did the best we could to pack generous shares. The nature of the business is to share the bounty when available, and spread around all that is available when items are less than plentiful. Our first commitment is always to our farm share members, and the partnership with you means a great deal to us.

As we learn more and more about “crop inputs”, another name for highly toxic pesticides and fertilizers, and genetic manipulation of edible plants, we recognize how wrong it is to use those tools to produce food. We will continue to educate and share information through these posts, otherwise we are all intelligent but uninformed. It does boggle the mind to witness people making such poor decisions about food choices, and one has to assume they just don’t know what they are doing to their health. We reference professional journals in acquiring our own knowledge, and we continually analyze our own experiences dealing with plants, insects, microbes, and livestock. As any biologist will affirm, the more diverse an ecosystem (a tenant of organic production), the more stable it is. The idea that a food farmer can eliminate all pestilence with chemicals with no downside is preposterous. We think you need to know about these things, and hope that you share with your friends and family because they need to know as well to make informed choices.

As the work slows down on the farm later this fall and we settle in for winter chores, we have time to give presentations to groups that may be interested in how their food is raised. With the advent of cell phone cameras, we are blessed to have the opportunity to capture some really special images: a beneficial insect eating a pest, or a calf licking our fingers out in the middle of a field, or something as simple as a sunrise. Mac has put together a powerful power point program that will wow and amaze you. He has presented to statewide dietician conferences, farmer production meetings, environmental educators, non-profit groups, and faith based groups. Please contact us if you would like us to give a program in the circle you are in, whether a big or small group. Mac’s information can be tailored to fit the audience; otherwise the whole story would take days to tell.

Already we have to be making plans for next season, in fact onions are already planted, and garlic and strawberries will go out this week. Fall harvest is just getting started, the turkeys are sizing up nicely, the cattle and sheep have had plenty of grazing this year, and we love what we do. All we need is you!

So, if you are not signed up for a Fall Share, right now is a good time to do so. As you have already learned this season, if a particular crop is in short supply, shareholders come first over farmers markets. The plan is to have plenty for everybody at the market too, but sometimes things work better than other times. We do hear some folks say they are ready for a break from having all those veggies every week. Others say that when they go back to supermarket shopping, they are so disappointed in the quality, or lack of local impact, of the items in the stores they are sure to sign up for Fall. You egg customers especially know what we mean.

We appreciate your partnership with Elmwood Stock Farm this past summer. We continue to work towards improving our CSA Farm Share program and we’ll be sending you a request for your feedback later in the week. Rumor has it that there will be a lot of families looking to source a Certified Organic CSA Farm Share in the next year or two as employers offer financial incentives to encourage healthier eating and lifestyle changes. We’ll let you know when next summer’s signup is ready to go and encourage you to renew your membership early. We value your commitment to eating local, eating organic, and eating well – we’ll keep on doing all we can to make it as enjoyable, convenient, and delicious as possible.

In Your Share :

Green Beans
Sweet Pepper
Hot Pepper
Summer Squash
Sweet Potatoes


Roasted Eggplant and Yogurt Spread with Onions and Olives, thanks to a CSA member for sharing this easy recipe.  She adapted it from an original found online. 

1 medium to large eggplant

6 T Kalamata olives, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped

1 ½ T fresh basil, de-stemmed and coarsely chopped

½ small onion, finely chopped

½ tsp favorite seasoning mixture

8-12 oz Greek yogurt

Roast eggplant whole on a baking sheet in the oven for about 50 minutes to 1 hour at 400°F. Meanwhile, prepare and mix the olives, garlic, basil, onion and seasonings together in a bowl. When the eggplant has cooled enough to handle, cut off the stem end, slit the skin and scoop out all of the eggplant pulp.  Mix the pulp in with the other ingredients.  Start adding the yogurt and stirring it in until you have a spreadable consistency. Refrigerate several hours or overnight to allow flavors to meld.  Serve on flatbread or with favorite crackers or bread as a dip.

Sweet Potato Apple Bake from Simple Spoonful

3-4 medium-large sweet potatoes

3-4 medium apples

juice from 1 large orange


freshly grated nutmeg


2 T butter

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Scrub the sweet potatoes well, and feel free to leave the skins on. Slice the sweet potatoes into rounds about 1/4″ thick.  Then, cut the apples in half and remove the core and seeds.  Slice the apple halves into shapes as close to rounds as you can get.  Layer the slices in a 13×9 pan, alternating sweet potatoes with apples until you run out of space.

Then, whisk your orange juice with cinnamon and nutmeg, add a tiny pinch of salt, pour the mixture over the whole dish, and then strategically add a few pats of butter to the top.  Cover tightly with foil, pop it in the oven, and cook for about 45 minutes.  Once the sweet potatoes and apples are soft and smelling-oh-so-good, take the foil off the dish and put it back into the oven for about 5 minutes or so.  Basically, you want the water in the orange juice to evaporate so that there is very little liquid left in the dish and everything is sweet and warm and spicy and orangey and wonderful.  Serve this as a side dish, or add a scoop of ice cream to it for a healthier dessert alternative. 

Quick Moussaka, a Martha Stewart recipe using feta and ricotta rather than the traditional white flour-butter-milk sauce.

Butter, for baking dish
1 large eggplant (2 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
7 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef or lamb
1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes, drained OR equivalent fresh
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (9 ounces) ricotta cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup (4 ounces) feta cheese, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter a 4-quart ovenproof dish. On a baking sheet, toss eggplant with 6 tablespoons oil and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer, and roast in the oven until soft and golden, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer eggplant to prepared dish, spreading in an even layer. In a large saucepan, warm remaining tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and ground meat; cook, stirring to prevent sticking, until meat is browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in drained tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, oregano, cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Simmer, crushing tomatoes with the edge of a spoon, 15 minutes. Spread the mixture evenly over the eggplant. Heat broiler. In a small bowl, mix ricotta, feta, egg, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and a pinch of salt. Pour mixture over the casserole, and spread evenly to the edges. Broil until topping is browned in spots, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Grilled Fingerling Sweet Potatoes  Our thanks to Chef Jacob of Cookin’ Up KY for this delicious recipe.

1 lb fingerling sweet potatoes
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
1 T chopped fresh thyme
2 cloves minced garlic
¼ C extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Slice fingerlings in half length-wise & place in bowl. Mix in herbs, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper with sliced sweet potatoes.  Toss thoroughly. Place on hot grill, skin side up. Cook for 2-3 minutes until nice, dark-brown grill marks appear. Flip sweet potatoes and repeat. Your finished product will vary according to consistency (thickness) of fingerlings.  This recipe also works well in an oven: 425° for 10 minutes, skin side up.