It's CSA day (Woo Hoo!) and we have a larger share in store this week than 2 weeks ago. That one I made a bit smaller than I liked because of the drought conditions as well as getting a handle on how much food we have already harvested like onions, winter squash, garlic, potatoes, etc.. vs what we have growing still in the market garden. Not to mention, I had just gotten back from DC and the Jon Stewart Rally and, frankly, did not have my Farmer Head on at that time (I even missed taking a photo of the share for posterity and Face Book). This share is far better thought out and will be bigger (though not so big that you cannot use everything in 2 weeks) than last week
So, we got rain for hours yesterday, we got a whole inch! This will a positive effect on the plants still growing like lettuce, spring mix, bok choy, Napa, leeks. And especially the 3000 garlics we planted last Thursday and Friday into very dry (but not totally dry because we have improved our soil the 5 years we have been here and have added enough Organic matter that the soils are holding moisture even in very dry conditions). Without a good rain coming at exactly the time it came we would have been stressing over the garlic all winter. But we got the rain and know that the garlics will be fine and should grow beautifully through the winter and spring. Normally we would have planted the garlic about 2 to 3 weeks earlier than we did but things came up that kept pushing the chore back. Than we got coldish weather and decided to wait until last week and lucked out in that we got to plant garlic for about 12 hours in complete comfort. Usually it is rather wet and cold when we do this and we are usually quite muddy afterward, but not this year. This year it was bone dry and in the low 70's, can't beat that.
We still need another 8 or 9 such rainfalls in the next month to break this drought (we are down over 7" of rain, even with this rain event yesterday). This time of year I guess we should expect the rain to come as snow part of the time. This is fine with us as snow makes a super winter mulch that over wintered crops just love and, of course, it adds moisture to the soil so that in spring. though the down side is wet heavy snows (or over 10" of drier snow) will bring down the hoop houses. Now, when this happens, the plants inside the hoop houses don't mind because they always get covered in a wonderful and thick snow mulch. But the hoops and plastic generally get quite beaten up and too often cannot be repaired and must be replaced which costs money. Fortunately, this does not happen to us every winter even though we do keep our hoop houses sheathed in plastic every winter. And we see this as one of the costs of doing the business we do as well as pushing the envelope of season extension using no artificial heat sources.
Okay, I need to talk about the upcoming FSI season which will start Mid April. It is my hope you will a be member in 2011. On my web site I talk about substantial discounts ($675 for a full season vs $730) OR a payment plan for those who sign up before Jan 1st. My offer to you today is you can take advantage of both - a substantial discount AND a payment plan (3 payments due the first of the month of $225). Why am I doing this? because I really appreciate my CSA members and I want to make it as non-onerous as possible for you to rejoin the Boulder Belt FSI in 2011. Oh yeah, and because our farmers market season was way down for us this past year (sales were down a good 33%) we are in need of off season money so we can do things like pay for seed orders, Property taxes and US Income tax. That's the big bill for us as we are considered entrepreneurs and thus usually have a $3K to $4K check we have to write to the IRS. And of course we have to pay this at the time of year we are making the least amount of income. Living cheaply, being good savers and staying out of debt allows us to be able to handle these debts as long as we have a decent growing year and decent sales. unfortunately this did not happen this year. Our CSA, farm store and farmers market revenues were all down for us this year so for the first time in over a decade we are gonna have to depend on early FSI/CSA payments to get through the winter and get all our obligations paid.
I hope you all are planning on great Thanksgiving feasts and using some local foods in those feasts. I am hosting parts of my family plus friends for turkey day. I will be roasting a pastured Certified Organic Turkey from Morning Sun farms near Gratis and will prepare mashed taters from our potatoes along with several other dishes that will come from our farm. My sister in law will bring food from non local sources, my Brother in law will probably do 1/2 and 1/2 with his food and the rest of the family that is coming for the event are coming in from out of town, don't cook and could care less about locavorism (heavy sigh...). But I will make comments about the fact many things at the table are local and why that is important and likely be told to shut up (because family members are generally honest to a fault).
One last thing-there have been several news stories lately about nasty germs growing in the bottoms of our reuseable bags. So I suggest strongly, that you wash them out before returning them to the farm (or at least dump out the debris that build up in them). We don't want anyone getting sick, though, I suppose because I am not packing meat products, nor industrial produce into the bags there are really not many pathogens that could grow in them. And you should be washing pretty much everything before you eat it, anyways.
Okay, shares will be available after 4pm and can be picked up any time between than and 7 am Saturday morning
Chinese Cabbage/Napa Lettuce Sauté
1/2 pound (or more, basically a whole bag) of Napa, cleaned and chopped
1 medium red or yellow onion, chopped
2 Italian sausages (if vegetarian, replace with your favorite meatless sausage), cooked than sliced into pieces. About 1/2 pound
2 TBL Olive oil
1 TBL Sesame Oil
1 or 2 garlic cloves either put through a press or micro-plane (they need to be finely processed)
Pre heat a big frying or sauté pan and cook up the sausages. When they are done remove them from the pan and let them cool. In the same pan using the drippings from the sausages, add some olive oil (or butter or any other oil) and than the onions and cook them, stirring occasionally for a few minutes. Than add the Napa/Chinese cabbage and cook that for about 4 to 5 minutes. While the greens are cooking slice the sausages and add them to the pan (they need enough time to heat up again and for the flavors to marry to the greens) and than add the garlic and sesame oil and cook for another couple of minutes and you are all done and it is time to eat.
What's In The Share
Rutabaga-these are a close relative of the turnip but have a richer, milder flavor. I use these mainly for soups and stews-simply peel them and chop into 1/2" cubes and add to a soup or other long cooking dish and these add great flavor. they are also good to roast with other root veggies.
Napa Lettuce/Chinese Cabbage-is it a lettuce or a cabbage? It is neither and thus has two stupid names that make this the most confusing green we grow. It is most closely related to cabbages but it is really a mild mustard green and is not at all related to lettuce but I think got that moniker because in the 80's and 90's it was a popular salad green along with romaine and iceberg lettuce (I know when I was a pantry cook I used a lot of it in the salad greens base until that restaurant started using a beautiful locally grown Spring mix that ultimately got me into market farming)
Lettuce-you will get around 3/4 pound of lettuce in the form of two heads of a deep red oak leaf and either a red and green leaf or a red and green butterhead
Kale-1/2 pound of either rainbow or White russian kale (or a mix of the two, which is the most likely as the Kale has been hit hard by the drought and as of last Friday was in the process of dying. But this rain should fix things up nicely)
Spring Mix-1/2 pound bag.
Arugula-1/3 pound bag
Cucumbers-these are coming out of a low tunnel and this will likely be the only time you get any. These are very nice Armenian cukes which are burpless and very sweet and mild. Due to the drought and cool temps these are not as big as they should be. you get 2 medium sized cukes. Enjoy
Beets-Likely a mix of red, yellow and chioggia (pink) beets. These will probably be on the small side again so I will try to make the bunches ample. remember the greens are quite edible and tasty (chard is basically beet greens).
Celeriac-the ugliest thing we grow. But the flavor is soo good. Use these as you would celery (well, peel them first). You get 2 bunches and they would be excellent in a turkey stuffing/dressing.
Potatoes-You will get 2 pounds of taters but at this point I don't know what kinds (it will likely be a mix)
Tomatoes-we should be getting tomatoes for at least 2 more pick ups. You will get a couple of pounds of 'em.
Green tomatoes-we have a lot and they can be oh so useful and tasty. You will get 4 to 5 of various sizes (about a pound) in this share
Carrots-you will get 1 pound of the rainbow carrots. There is some chance that many will be split as the beds we are digging were a bit too mature to survive all the rain without splitting. But because it was so dry and the soil will have taken up a huge % of the water. Plus the carrots themselves were dehydrated and should have been able to take in much more water than well hydrated mature carrots could. We will know later this morning when the carrots are harvested
Garlic-you get three corms
Yellow Onions-you get 1.5 pounds of yellow cooking onions
Leeks-2 big winter leeks. I made a mighty tasty potato and leek soup with these last night.
Sweet Peppers-you get 5+ peppers. This is probably the last week for the peppers as they have been off the plant for almost 4 weeks and are getting well past their prime. Not to mention, they are getting really small. But they still taste good.
Butternut Squash-1 medium butternut
Seminole Squash-this looks like a pumpkin crossed with a butter nut but in fact is a rare heirloom squash that was invented by the Seminole Indians of the SE USA (and they are the only sovereign tribe in America as they refused to sign any and all treaties). Eugene has been trying to grow this for the past 6 years and finally this year it worked. the lesson here is it is quite hard to grow things in Ohio that are native to Florida but it can be done with enough patience and perseverance.
Sage-I am sorry you won't get a lot as the plants are on their last legs but not from drought. Rather these plants are about 4 years old and that is the life span of sage. this means this coming spring we will need to start new seedlings to go into the herb garden. At any rate, sage is one of THE poultry herbs (rosemary being the other) and essential for turkey and stuffing/dressing.
Parsley-you will get a nice bunch of this versatile herb
Radish-you will get a mixed bunch of d'Avignon and Easter egg radishes
Sweet Potatoes-you get a pound. I wish it were more but we are limited on how much we have available. Do know we do not sell these at any other venue but the farm share. Also know we farmers love our Sweet Taters and that is where they are going (other than to you)
Parsnips-1 pound. if you have not roasted these do it-they are amazing.
Pears-2 pounds of sweet hard keiffer pears. It looks like these will last through next month