Monday, June 29, 2015

CSA News, Week 9


Records are Important When You’re Busy

Things don’t really calm down around here until way after Thanksgiving and Christmas when your farmers hope to enjoy a little down time. This time of year in June to July, things are the complete opposite – so much going on and not enough hours in the day. We are still actively planting successive crops of late summer and fall vegetables, along with harvesting everything that is coming ready in late June. The transition into the summer crops of July has started with cucumbers and squashes kicking in this week. Beans, tomatoes and sweet corn surely must not be far behind – as we try for the 4th of July as first harvest on those crops each year – but this season we won’t quite meet it which is understandable considering the cold late Spring and flooding. Thankfully we are not yet dependent on pumping irrigation to keep crops alive. In fact, the plentiful weeds are trying hard to compete with the planted crops, and extra weeding is needed to keep production from being affected. Too much rain brings its own challenges, but is always better than drought conditions.

Other activities are plentiful this time of the year as well. On Monday for example, one truck and farmer at the chicken processor, another truck and farm team member at the beef butcher, those of us at the farm harvesting and cleaning produce for the day’s farm shares, along with egg gathering and washing, counting broccoli heads and beets in the field to know how many are ready the rest of the week, mowing the grass strips between the rows of tomatoes, replacing the fan on the walk-in produce cooler, hand-pulling the weeds from around the bell peppers, mulching the ginger in the high tunnel greenhouse, bagging popcorn for pantry shares, repairing the hay mower, all the while dodging the rain showers that keep moving through the area.

For over twenty years we have been growing and direct-marketing vegetables, 19 of those using organic production methods, and we are into our 11th season of running a CSA program.  As we pour over the numbers (whether it’s heads of cabbage ready to harvest, or labor-hours necessary to clean garlic, or dollars in the bank account to meet expenses), we can take a minute to marvel at the capacity of the computer to help us analyze the efficiency and economics of the various aspects of running a small diversified farm; we didn’t always have such technology at our fingertips. One benefit of the recordkeeping requirements of becoming USDA Certified Organic is that you then have the farm records and related data that if used wisely in decision-making, can make you a better farmer.

Speaking of recordkeeping, Elmwood Stock Farm is cooperating in a multi-state energy use research project. It is pushing us slightly to ramp up our data collection systems, and generate even more numbers to decipher. The project compares how much energy inputs i.e. fuel, labor, capitalized infrastructure, seed, etc. are needed to produce how much caloric value of food, in various farming systems in differing states. We started last season documenting work activities and employing a combination of checklists, labor logs, and sales records to generate the needed data. Such records should make our organic inspections and tax preparation easier also.

Twenty years ago, we had no idea where growing good food crops would take us, but as we continue on, we are very fortunate to have the work that we love and we are appreciative you are with us on this journey!

In Your Share

Yellow Squash
Green Zucchini


Broccoli and Goat Cheese Soufle, serves 4 (an eating well .com recipe)
1 ½ C finely chopped broccoli
1 T butter
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups milk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp dried rosemary
¼ tsp salt
½ cup crumbled goat cheese
3 large eggs, separated
2 large egg whites
14 tsp cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a soufflé dish with cooking spray and place on a baking sheet. Steam or microwave broccoli until tender-crisp and set aside. Melt butter and oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking, for 1 minute. Add milk, mustard, rosemary, and salt and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in goat cheese and 3 egg yolks until well combined. Beat 5 egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Add cream of tartar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula, gently fold half of the whipped whites into the milk mixture. Then fold in remaining whites and reserved broccoli just until no white streaks remain. Transfer to soufflé dish and bake until puffed, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately. 

Cucumber and Coconut Salad, serves 6 (a Martha Stewart Recipe)  
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise (about 1/2 cup)
1 large or two medium cucumbers, cut into thirds crosswise (about ¾ pound)
1 cup unsweetened large-flaked coconut
2 tablespoons coconut water
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
2 teaspoons sugar, plus more for seasoning
Coarse salt 
Place onion in a bowl of ice water. Let onion stand 10 minutes, then drain. Thinly slice cucumbers lengthwise with a handheld slicer or peeler and place in a large bowl. Add onion and coconut and gently toss to combine. Add coconut water, lime juice, sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and gently toss again to combine. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours. Before serving, season with salt and sugar. 

Herbed Summer Squash Pasta Bake, our thanks to a CSA member for sharing this recipe she adapted from Smitten Kitchen webstie. She uses it for both yellow squash and green zucchini, and is planning to try with broccoli this week! Serves 4.
8 oz pasta
1 T olive oil
1 lb summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
Juice of half a lemon
3 T butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinches of red pepper flakes, to taste
3 T all-purpose flour
1 ½ C milk
¼ C chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
1 T finely chopped mixed herbs
Salt and more pepper to taste
¾ C finely grated parmesan cheese, divided
4 oz mozzarella, cut into small cubes

Heat oven to 400°F. Cook pasta about 1 to 2 minutes less recommended (it will finish cooking when the casserole bakes). Drain and set aside. Heat a large skillet to high heat. Once hot, add olive oil, and let it heat until almost smoking. Add sliced squash, season it with salt and pepper flakes and let it sear underneath, unmoved, until golden brown. Continue to sauté until browned and somewhat wilted, about 10 minutes, trying to get some color on each layer before moving squash around. Transfer to a bowl and squeeze lemon juice over bowl. Add more salt or pepper if needed.

Reheat the skillet over medium heat. Melt butter in bottom of pan. Add garlic and let sizzle for 1 to 2 minutes. Add flour and stir until absorbed. Add milk slowly, whisking constantly to avoid lumps, then add lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste. Let mixture simmer together for 2 minutes, stirring frequently; the sauce will thicken. Remove from heat and stir in half of chopped parsley and all of the herbs.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

Add drained pasta, summer squash, mozzarella and ½ C grated parmesan to the pot, stirring to combine. If pan is ovenproof, you can bake the casserole in it. If not, transfer mixture to a 2 to 3 quart ovenproof casserole or baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ C Parmesan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until edges of pasta are golden brown. Sprinkle with reserved parsley and serve hot. Reheat as needed.

Zucchini Rollatini, serves 4 (a Martha Stewart recipe)
2 large zucchini, cut lengthwise into 12 1/8-inch-thick slices
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
5 to 6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto (may be omitted for a vegetarian dish)
1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
24 large fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
1 1/3 to 2 C tomato sauce
Preheat oven to 425°F. Season zucchini slices on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Blot moisture from zucchini. Swirl oil into skillet and cook zucchini in 2 single-layer batches, adding more oil between batches as needed, until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Top each strip of zucchini with a piece of prosciutto torn to fit (if using), a slice of cheese cut to fit, and 2 basil leaves. Roll each stack into a pinwheel and spear with a toothpick to hold together. Place tomato sauce in an 8-inch baking dish (or divide among four 3½ or 4-inch ramekins). Place rollatini (pinwheel side down) side by side in a dish and remove toothpicks. Bake until cheese is bubbling, 10-12 minutes. Before serving, garnish rollatini with basil.

Kohlrabi, Greens and Garlic
A CSA member who is also trained as a professional chef shared this wonderful recipe she adapted from a Gourmet magazine recipe.
1 medium kohlrabi, peeled
zest and juice from 1 small lime
4 T olive oil, divided
1 bunch greens, ribs discarded (used kale)
2 green garlic stalks (white and pale green parts) OR 3 garlic cloves
1/3 cup sunflower seeds (original called for chopped pistachios)
salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, combine 2 T olive oil with lime zest and juice. Cut the kohlrabi in half and then slice as thinly as possible. Toss with the lime mixture and set aside for later. In a medium sized sauté pan, use the remaining olive oil to sauté the garlic on medium heat in until it starts to brown around the edges. Meanwhile, finely chop the greens. When the garlic has browned, add in the greens and continue to sauté until the greens wilt. Turn the heat down to low and cover; continue to cook until the greens are tender. Turn off the heat, add the lime/kohlrabi mixture to the greens along with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the seeds or nuts. Can be served warm or at room temperature.