It's Wednesday once again and that means it is Farm Share Day!!! It is also the day That the farm store officially opens which really doesn't mean much to you members.
I would like to talk about a couple of things. One there is kitchen equipment you need (if you do not have it already) the most important tool a CSA?FSI member needs is a salad spinner. if you don't own one go to my blog and on the right side bar are several items I am selling via Amazon. On the top line of the Amazon box is the Zyliss Salad spinner. I have owned one for over 10 years and use it almost every day (this time of year, several times a day). This is a big thing about eating whole foods, you have to have the right kitchen equipment to cope, otherwise it can get nightmarish-cut fingers, wet lettuce, etc.. Other things a whole foods kitchen should have
a micro plane-You can get these at any hardware or kitchen supply stores
A food processor. I am a Cuisinart girl but most do the trick.
A good vegetable peeler. For Christmas I got a ceramic peeler and it is the best. It will peel carrots and parsnips with ease and does a great job on the hard skin of Butternut squash (perhaps the best test of any peeler-if it goes through squash it will handle about anything else). Got it at Jungle Jim's along with a ceramic knife (for way too much as I see the same set advertised in the paper for 1/3 what I paid)
A good paring knife-I am in love with ceramic knives but stainless steel is also excellent. Ceramic will keep and edge for years whereas SS needs to be sharpened at least once a month (my SS field knife get sharpened daily, sometimes more often, but than that blade has to go through soil and rocks). BTW, the sharper the knife the safer the knife. At any rate, paring knives come in very very handy, you will use one a lot so perhaps you should get 2 or 3.
A good chef's knife-I used to believe that one needed to buy only the top of the line but an accident at a fraternity house where I cooked between the boys (likely extremely drunk and high) and my $300 chef's knife proved me wrong. They broke my knife and I couple not replace it on their dime with another top of the line knife so I had to get a fad cheaper model and It works well and 17 years later I still use the knife.
I know there are a few other items that are essential but they are not coming to mind right now. But what I listed is what I use, pretty much, daily
Life on the farm is busy-we plant, we harvest, we hoe/weed, we mow grass, Eugene tills beds, we water seedlings in cold frames and hoop houses, time is taken to train Betty on the ways of farm dog life-staying out of beds (which she has good days and bad days), catching critters (she got her first rabbit yesterday. You may think bunnies are cute but not when they eat an entire 50' bed of spinach that was supposed to be harvested for the FSI members. Rabbits, left unchecked, can do an amazing amount of damage to a several acre sized market garden. Add in deer and take away to dogs and in a matter of a week they can destroy around 75% to 85%), being cute (okay, she has that skill sewed up). This week we will get the rest of the onions seedlings planted (this is literally like planting blades of grass), along with cucumber, zucchini and Galia melon seedlings that will go into the last hoop house we erected. This will mean, if all goes right, that we will enjoy cukes, zukes and melons a good 8 weeks before they are in true season around here. When I say "If all goes right" I mean we have had armies of voles invade newly planted hoop houses and eat the heads off of every seedling planted earlier in the day. It is really maddening and depressing to find all the days of work (it takes a minimum of 15 days to get the seeds to grow into seedlings before they go out into the houses) destroyed over night. There are also insects that will kill freshly planted seedlings such as cut worms.
But all is not lost, 1) Betty and Nate (along with our resident snakes) have done some great control of the vole population sine the snows melted back in Feb. B) we will protect the seedlings by popping "Cut worm collars" made from old drip tape lines over them. What we do is take 6" pieces of drip tape split them in half length-wise and put them over the plants so only the tips of the leaves are showing. This thwarts bunnies, voles and cut worms (as well as reuses what other wise would be put into recycling) and ever since we have used this technique we have very low losses of our seedlings. This is one of the many ways we attempt to lower the risk we are all into with this Farming/FSI thing.
I have been thinking about the Pot-luck dinner/Farm tour and I think May 2nd would be a great day to have it. We will provide Chicken from the birds we raised last summer and have stored in the freezer, home brewed beer and home made wine along with salad and salad dressing. You bring a dish that will feed 6 people (ideally made with local ingredients, but this is not a requirement) plus flatware, plates, drinking vessels. last year I had planned on doing this sort of thing monthly but after the first dinner had few to no takers most months so this year I have scrapped the idea of a monthly event. But if you guys want to do a local foods dinner every month I am game. If you think your life will be too busy to swing this sort of thing that is fine too. Let me know if having a monthly dinner would be of interest, otherwise we will likely not do another until late summer/early Fall. I will need you all to RSVP Yes or No before April 30th about this upcoming event.RecipePotato and leek Soup
2 pounds of potatoes, scrubbed and cut into smallish cubes
2 leeks cut into slices
1 TBL butter or olive oil
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
In a 4 quart (or bigger) pot add the cubed taters and enough water to cover them buy an inch. Put that on the stove, cover and bring just to a boil (about 5 to 7 minutes over medium heat). While that is going on, in a 2 gallon heated pan add the fat and the leeks. Stir the leeks constantly and after a minute of so start smashing the leek rounds so that the layers separate. When the potatoes just start to boil add them AND the water they are in, to the cooking leeks. Add the salt and thyme. Let this simmer for 1/2 hour to an hour. When everything seems cooked enough get out a blender or food processor and put half the soup in and blend it for about 30 seconds until smooth (you will likely have to do this in 2, maybe 3 batches). Add the blended soup back to the soup pot, taste, adjust the seasoning and the soup is ready to serve.
This is vegan style. If you want Decadent Style than start with cut up bacon-put that in a hot pan and cook stirring constantly. When the bacon is crispy, remove and add some butter and the leeks. Continue as above. After you have added the processed leeks and potatoes back to the soup add a cup (or more) of heavy cream, cook on low heat for an additional 10 minutes and serve.
What's in the ShareLettuce
-5 to 6 heads of lettuce in the bagSpring MixBroccoli Raab
-this is the first time we have ever grown or eaten this. I asked at the farmers market how to prepare and was told either steam it like other greens (think spinach) or sauté it in olive oil with a bit of onion, garlic. While this is called broccoli Raab it is a much closer relative of the turnip and the greens taste somewhat like turnip greens (not a personal favorite of mine but I rather like this stuff). This is what makes CSA's a wonderful thing-the adventure in food, having to try new things.Radishes
-this week a big bunch of beautiful heirloom D'Avignon radishesParsnipPotatoes-
a 3 pound bag of either Yukon Gold or Kennebec white (there will be a label on the bag. And just because the package looks like what you would find at the grocery store be assured we grew these taters-we simply have invested in packaging supplies)
2 or 3 leeks
Chives-use to top the tater and leek soup or in a salad or a dipThyme
-for the soup
There may be a few other items stuck in the shares as well, like last week and the acorn and delicata squash.
The shares will be ready any time after 4pm. If you will not be picking up today please let me know by this afternoon so your share is not sitting out in warm conditions for 4+ hours
Boulder Belt Eco-Farm
Posted by Lucy
@ 06:12 AM EDT
It's the first day of the 2010 Boulder Belt Farm Share Initiative-Woo Hoo! This is the first in a weekly series of newsletter that only FSI member get, i.e. this is different than the quasi-weekly missive I send out year round to the hundreds of Boulder Belt Fans on my list.
As you know if you read the email that had the 2010 Farm Share Initiative Regulations and Musings for 2010 that pick up is every Wednesday after 4pm and any shares not picked up by 6:30am Saturday mornings will be taken to Oxford and donated to the Oxford First Choice Food Pantry. If you need to do a Saturday Pick-Up you must tell me in advance (like the week before you are scheduled to pick up, a simple email will do the trick).
Your shares will be in bags with your name on it. Last year I requested that members supply their own reusable bags and I am doing so again this season. I did think about buying a hundred or so (they are very cheap) but thought that all of us have a plethora of reusable tote bags around the house that we do not use so why should I waste more resources buying more bags when the members can supply such. So, if in the next week or so, you could bring 2 to 4 reusable shopping bags that would be wonderful. Otherwise, I will put your food into plastic shopping bags. Please take only the bag(s) with your name on it (plus the other members' bags, if you are picking up for other people). This is important as some times people will order extra stuff and I simply put that extra food into that person's share. And on occasion I may omit an item from a share at the member's request
The shares, unless otherwise noted, will be in the store fridge to your right as you come in the front door. Today they will be on the shelving near the fridge (unless I fire the fridge up than, in that case, they will be in the cool environment)
Okay one of the purposes of this news letter is to let you all know what is going on on the farm. I will continue to do this but if you are on Face Book and not already a Fan of Boulder Belt Eco-Farm sign up today. I am using the Boulder belt Fan page to be as they say these days, transparent about the farm. In other words, I am posting, usually several times a day what we are doing on the farm here is the link to the Fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Boulder-Belt-Eco-Farm/368403976315?ref=sgm. I also have a blog that is usually about the farm (and is getting an increasing number of videos of the farm posted to it) though I will talk politics of food as well there http://www.boulderbelt.blogspot.com
But lessee, what's going on at Boulder Belt Eco-Farm? Lots of things. Mid spring means being very busy. We are getting beds to get ready to plant (and on the blog is a series of very short videos that show you just what we do to get a bed ready for seedlings), planting beds with both direct seeding and transplanting seedlings. We are still starting lots and lots of seedlings (we probably start 3000 of them annually, maybe more) to be transplanted into the garden over the next 6 to 8 weeks. Plus we are harvesting asparagus daily and with the start of the FSI and soon the Oxford Uptown farmers market will be weekly and we will have the farm store open 3 or 4 days a week we will be harvesting other things like lettuce, arugula, kale, etc., several times a week. And than there is maintenance-hoeing and other kinds of weeding (like hand pulling or digging the damned things out) puppy training (we have a rather large and growing 5 month old bitch pup, Betty, we rescued in late January) so that she will one day become a stellar market garden dog. Her training is coming along well so far. She is at least a year ahead of Nate, the other dog we have. It took him about 3 years to figure out what we meant with terms like "out of the garden". but it is possible that we will have a crop failure due to Betty's antics like trying to bury a bone in a flat of seedlings (fortunately they were flowers for our own enjoyment and not a commercial crop) but since we do not have eyes in the backs of our heads nor the ability to do farm work and closely monitor the puppy she gets opportunities to do mischief and right now she is in a bone burying phase and we have found her bones in some rather bad places (freshly tilled beds are favorite). All that said the market garden is big at close to 4 acres and there is no way she can do much damage other than destroying a bed or two (but likely all she would do is damage small parts of many beds which gets us mad at her but as far as the crop goes minimal loss). Now why do we have Betty as she has the potential to do a great deal of crop damage? Because her job that Nate (that's right we are using a dog to train another dog) is training her to do run the deer and kill rabbits and mice, all of which can and will do far more damage to the market garden than a hyper playful pup. Without the dogs doing this night time job we would likely lose around 75% of the crop to deer, bunnies and mice. But with the dogs we lose no more than 10% to the wild life. We found this out when we moved from the old farm to this farm in 2005. At the old farm we left a lot of crops in the field (we had planted them in June and July, before we knew we were buying an farm and moving in October). When the dogs were still around the crops were not touched but within 3 days of the dogs leaving that farm we noticed the deer had moved in and were happily eating the beets and strawberry plants, among other things and in one night destroyed about 50% of what we had left.
This farm has a much much higher deer population-we believe the herd is around 300 head-and yet we rarely lose anything to them because ever since we have been here we have had at least 2 dogs working all night to keep them away. It's that or investing around $50K in deer fencing around the perimeter of the farm. I'll take dogs over fencing every time.
Oh yeah, we encourage you to take advantage of the farm. feel free to walk around the farm. To get access to the farm walk between the barn and the store and there are two gates. the one to your right will open and allow you onto the farm. We have a pond that is stocked and fun to fish (and you can keep what you catch), we have about 2 miles of trails running all over the farm. We have a lot of beauty out here. use it if you wish.
I would like to schedule a on farm pot luck and farm tour either the end of this month or sometime in May. I am thinking on a Sunday afternoon/evening. But I need input as to when this will work for everyone. Let me know sooner than later. Potlucks are BYOB, though we usually have some homemade wine and beer on hand. Plus you will need to bring a dish that can feed 6 to 8 and things to eat with (flatware, plat, cup). let me know sooner than later when you would like to do this.
EZ Salad dressing
Salad dressing is one of the easiest things to make and there is absolutely no reason to go out and buy over priced, full of crap that you do not want in your body, salad dressing when you can make your own. I will endeavor during salad season to give out several different dressings. Here is what I have been using for several months
1/4 cup vinegar-I like to mix balsamic and rice vinegar
1/2 TSP salt
1/4 cup honey, more or less (usually more than less)
1 clove raw garlic either put through a garlic press (use two cloves if using a press as you lose so much) or grated on a micro-planer-if you don own one of these you can either go to a hardware store and pay about $8 for one or go to a cooking store (I know Jungle Jim;s has these in stock) and pay almost double for exactly the same thing. I am a huge advocate of the micro plane for cooking.
1 cup good olive oil.
In a small canning jar or salad dressing carafe mix together the honey, salt and vinegars. Cover the jar and shake well to mix everything together (takes a good minute as the honey will not want to mix easily) when everything is uniform than add the oil and shake again. let this sit for at least an hour before using. this will last about 2 weeks sitting on the kitchen counter, it does not need to be refrigerated and if you do the oil will congeal making it necessary to warm it up so you can use it and not get big olive oil globs.
For variations on this you could add a 1/2 tsp of dried rosemary or perhaps the same amt each of dried basil and oregano. Or maybe finely chop some chives and put them in the mix. The amounts I am using for the dried herbs are only a guideline and, in fact, when I make dressing I never measure anything other than the salt so with the herbs do this to taste but know that 1/2 tsp is a good amount to start.
What's In the Share
Leeks-you get 2 leeks this week
Lettuce-you will get 5 heads of various heirloom lettuces. These will be from a bed of lettuce that was planted last year and over wintered in a hoop house.
Spinach-you get a bag that should be around 1/2 pound (but maybe less, I won't know until I bag the stuff later today
Chives-a big bunch of oniony chives to use raw on salads, potatoes, soups, dip, etc..
Asparagus-I did not think there would any of this for the first couple of week of the FSI but last week it started coming up. Still I figured that there would only be enough for 1/2 pound per share. I was wrong, you get a whole pound this week.
Potatoes-a 2 pound bag of French Fingerling taters. These are red on the outside with a golden flesh. very good for roasting, frying, in salads but not the best for mashed taters
Parsnips-These look like a white carrot but are much sweeter. These are great roasted, covered, for 30 minutes in a 350F oven. if you have not had a parsnip before this may become one of your favorite foods.
Garlic-we are at the end of the 2009 garlic (the 2010 garlic will not be harvested until early July) so you are getting what seems like an awful lot of garlic, it is not as at least half of the cloves will be unusable.
Dried Rosemary-a jar of dried rosemary-this is wonderful on potatoes and poultry
Spring Mix-a mix of baby arugula, tat soi, red mustard, mizuna and many different kinds of lettuce. Wash and eat.
Posted by Lucy
@ 06:12 AM EDT