Well, that was the toughest winter I've ever experienced. The sustained cold strained greenhouse production and we are eager to build our new gutter connect greenhouse this summer with lots of energy saving equipment that will allow us to grow greens even through the depth of a frigid winter. This morning spring is bursting all over the Black River valley. Geese, ducks, turkeys and deer are prevalent and we even saw a moose a couple days ago. Our greenhouse crops are taking off and we'll be seeding greens, peas, beets and more outside at the end of the week! It's about time, hopefully the spring weather will be dry and stable and allow us to catch up.
Isaac and Mark are putting the finishing touches on a prepared food kitchen at the Waterbury Farm Market. I'm excited to see the menu Mark is developing, he's a great cook. I hope you get a chance to stop in.
Our big new change on the farming front this year is that we are planning to apply straw mulch to much of our vegetable acreage. Vegetable farming is intensive use of land. We're constantly stirring, turning, and otherwise disturbing the soil as we plant and cultivate crops. This can cause soil structure to deteriorate and leaves the soil exposed to erosion. It seems we are getting more frequent pounding rainstorms, when you get an inch in 15 minutes it can cause some soil erosion on even the flattest fields. We purchased round bale haying equipment last summer and got our feet wet learning how to hay. This year we're going to harvest rye and oat straw and some reed canary grass hay. We've just procured a machine that chops and spreads a round bale of straw and evenly distributes it over the field. We think this is going to help with weed control, moisture retention, foliar disease (many leaf disease start from soil splashing onto crop leaves), add organic matter, and make a nice dry clean carpet for the crew to work on. Stay tuned, I'm very excited about this project.
Enjoy the sun, we've earned it this year. ~Pete
Top: today's greenhouse view
Middle: good things on the way - cucumbers!
Bottom: Cukes, pac choi, and mud
Storage and Use Tips
Everyone will get to enjoy shoots this week! Do you have any new and fun recipes for them? I'd love to hear what you're doing with your shoots so please let me know.
Large share members are going to get either spinach OR mizuna. There's not quite enough of either to go around so you'll get one or the other. It's pretty exciting that we've got some new greens going out this week!
Everyone who's getting spinach(ALL half share members and some Large share members)-it will be included IN YOUR BAG OF SHOOTS.
If you get mizuna it will be in a bunch inside your large bag. Mizuna, also know as spider mustard, is a Japanese mustard green with tender leaves and a pleasant, peppery flavor. You could substitute it, chopped, in a salad calling for arugula. It adds a nice zest to a stir-fry or saute too. Store mizuna, unwashed, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer.
Special note on the mizuna - it's very delicate and may have a few aphids even though we washed it the best we could. Aphids are a very common greenhouse pest. We have biocontrol systems in place to mitigate these pests, but it only works on certain types of aphids and doesn't control them 100%. Such is organic growing! If you see them just wash the leaves again gently.
The mizuna was picked as late as possible because it is so perishable (see Molly harvesting it today at right). Your bag may be a little wet so you may want to unpack your veggies as soon as you get home to avoid any damage.
This week's potatoes are called Peter Wilcox. They're beautiful purple potatoes. They are nicely textured, firm but not waxy, and wonderful whether roasted, boiled, or sliced into wedges or fried. They have a full earthy flavor that hints of hazelnuts. For best visual and nutritional effects, leave the skin on while cooking.
Parsnips have a nutty-sweet taste and a tender-hearty texture that is entirely distinct. For centuries, parsnips were a more common staple than the potato—and deservedly so. Satisfying, versatile, and highly nutritious, these delicious roots make a terrific base to any meal. Young parsnips don’t need to be peeled. Simply scrub them under running water with a vegetable brush. Peel larger parsnips, and cut out the core if it seems woody. However you slice or chop parsnips, be sure to make all the pieces relatively the same size, ensuring an evenly cooked dish. Refrigerate unwashed parsnips in a loosely wrapped or perforated plastic bag for up to two weeks.
Our shallots are a sweeter tasting type of onion. They're a member of the alium family being similar to both garlic and onions. They grow in cloves similar to garlic and have a sweet, mild flavor like a sweet or Spanish onion. They are well known for their ability to be caramelized or cooked down to where the sugars are reduced or concentrated. When eaten raw, they are much sweeter and milder than even sweet onions. You can slice them thin and saute them in recipes that benefit from a sweet, mild onion flavor. When minced, they are fantastic in homemade vinaigrette and pan sauces. Store them in a cool, dark place.
Our frozen sweet peppers are sweet and tasty. Keep them frozen into you are ready to use them. Frozen peppers tend to not have the same rigidity as fresh peppers but retain all the flavors and yummy summer goodness. They will be delicious sautéed and thrown onto a pizza, or cooked into lasagna, casseroles, soups, or sauces. Recently I enjoyed these sauteed with some onions - they would be delicious with some shallots!
Frozen chardis great for casseroles, lasagnas, quiches etc. Thaw it, squeeze out the excess liquid and add it in. Or let it thaw on counter til it softens up enough to saw with a knife, and saw off section to use a lesser amount in a dish. You can put the remainder back in freezer.
The organic pearled barley was grown in Quebec and milled at Golden Crops owned by Michel Gaudreau. Pearled barley has been de-hulled, with some or all of the bran removed. It makes a great substitute in recipes calling for brown rice, is wonderful cooked, cooled and used in cold salads, and adds a nice texture to soups and stews. It also cooks down into a really nice risotto, without all of the attention and stirring required with Arborio rice. One cup of dry barley makes about 3 to 3 1/2 cups cooked. If you soak the grains for 6+ hours in cold water before use, you can reduce your cooking time by at least half. Without soaking, you'll want to let them simmer in water for a good hour. You can also cook barley like pasta, using lots of water (4-5 cups of water to 1 cup barley), then drain what's left over.
Rhapsody Natural Foods' Tempeh is made right down the road from us in Cabot. Their farm and production facility is located on a beautiful hill over the small town of Cabot. They are a small family run operation that prides themselves on making genuinely traditional Japanese foods. Besides the tempeh, they make other traditional Japanese products - miso, amazake (a fermented rice drink), rice milk, koji (a starter culture for tempeh, amazake, sake and rice vinegar), rice bran, and vegan eggrolls. They also grow Hayayuki Rice, a cold weather, short season variety from Hokkaido, Japan.
This tempeh comes to you ready to eat - if you're hungry when you pick up you can eat it on your way home! Otherwise throw it in a frying pan to heat up for a few minutes. It's wonderful cubed in salads, sliced in a sandwich, great in stir fries, or mashed in sauces or gravies.
* There will be a mixture of BBQ and Teriyaki flavors at your site - choose your favorite! *
Last summer we saved our surplus eggplant, roasted it and made Baba Ganoush to share with you this winter. It's made with our own eggplant plus cumin, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and salt. This is often eaten as a dip with crackers, veggies, or used a spread on bread. It's coming to you frozen so you can stick back in the freezer to enjoy at a later date, or you can thaw out and enjoy right away (use within the week).
Champlain Orchards has their Northern Spy apple for you today. This heirloom apple is best known for its ability to keep through the winter, so we get to enjoy through the spring! Its large size, tart flavor, and pear undertones make for excellent pie, giving it the nickname: “Northern Pie”.
Changes to Your Delivery?
If you will be away some upcoming week, and need to make changes to your share delivery, let us know at least 1 week before the change. You can have your share donated to the Food Pantry, or you can skip your share delivery and you will retain a credit on your account toward the purchase of your next share.
Simple Mustard Greens Recipe
This is a wonderful way to enjoy your greens - feel free to use your spinach in this recipe if you didn't get mizuna.
1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound mustard greens, washed and torn into large pieces
2 to 3 Tbsp chicken broth or vegetable broth (vegetarian option)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil
In a large sauté pan, sauté onions in olive oil over medium heat until the onions begin to brown and caramelize, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more, until fragrant. Add the mustard greens and broth and cook until the mustard greens are just barely wilted. Toss with sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Fermented Carrot Pickles
If you're like me you have a drawer full of carrots that you haven't quite gotten around to using yet. This is a great recipe for those carrots! You'll need 2 32-oz. canning jars with canning jar bands and lids and cheesecloth. Fermented foods are filled with healthy probiotics and are really good for you to eat. I would also throw in some shredded ginger to add a little kick!
1½ lb. small carrots, peeled
Zest of 2 limes, removed in 1” strips with a vegetable peeler
4 bay leaves
1.2 oz. kosher salt
Combine salt and 6 cups warm water in a large bowl, whisking to dissolve salt. Divide carrots, lime zest, and bay leaves between canning jars. Add brine to cover carrots. Cover with cheesecloth and secure with canning jar bands (without lids). Let sit out of direct sunlight in a room-temperature spot, skimming off any white mold that forms on surface of brine, 5 days. You may want to put the jars in a bowl or on a baking sheet just in case they bubble over.
After 5 days, taste carrots every day; once they are tangy and flavorful (this should take about 1 week in most cases), cover jars with lids and chill.
DO AHEAD: Pickles can be made 1 month ahead. Keep chilled.
What to do with all the shallots besides tossing them into a stir fry? Make these caramelized shallots! This recipe, from the Smitten Kitchen, is a great way to maximize the sweetness of the shallots.
6 tbs unsalted butter
2 pounds fresh shallots, peeled, with roots intact
3 tbs sugar
3 tbs good red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbs chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Melt the butter in a 12" oven-proof saute pan, add the shallots and sugar, and toss to coat. Cook over medium heat for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shallots start to brown. Add the vinegar, salt and pepper and toss well.
Place the saute pan in the oven and roast for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the shallots, until they are tender. Season, to taste, sprinkle with parsley, and serve hot.
Creamy Parsnip and Pears
For a great twist on mashed potatoes try this recipe. From Eating well, Fall 2004.
2 pounds parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large pear, (Bartlett or Anjou), peeled, cored and halved
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons lemon juice, juice
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Place parsnips, pear and garlic in a large saucepan and cover with lightly salted water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the parsnips are tender and can be easily pierced with a knife, 20 to 25 minutes.
Drain and transfer to a food processor. Add butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Process until completely smooth. Scrape into a serving bowl and serve hot. (To keep puree hot for up to 1 hour, cover with parchment or wax paper and set the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water.)
Greens, Garlic and Barley Gratin?
This recipe is a great way to enjoy some greens and barley together. Feel free to add some chopped up, steamed carrots or parsnips to bulk it up a bit. Serves 4 to 6.??
1 generous bunch beet greens, stemmed and washed?
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
?1 medium onion, chopped?
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced, or one small head that has not separated into cloves, chopped
?Salt to taste?
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme?
?1/2 cup 2 percent milk?Freshly ground pepper?1 cup cooked pearled barley, brown rice or arborio rice?
1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese (2 oz, the clothbound chessar would be a delicioud substitute for gruyere)?
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan??
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 2-quart gratin dish with olive oil. Blanch the beet greens for one minute in a large pot of generously salted boiling water, or steam over 1 inch of boiling water for two to five minutes until wilted and tender. Rinse with cold water, squeeze out water and chop medium-fine. Set aside.??
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the onion, and cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic and a generous pinch of salt. Continue to cook for another minute or two until the garlic is fragrant. Stir in the cooked greens and the thyme, and toss together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
??In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and milk. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Stir in the greens mixture, the barley or rice, and the cheeses. Mix together well. Scrape into the oiled baking dish.??
Bake 35 to 40 minutes until sizzling and lightly browned on the top and sides. Remove from the heat, and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.??
The gratin will be good for three or four days. It is as good served cold or at room temperature as it is hot.
Persian Chicken Barley Soup (Soup e Jo)
Here's that barley chicken soup I mentioned a few weeks ago. Hopefully you have homemade broth for this, but if not store bought will work just fine. (makes 4-6 servings)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 medium-sized carrot, shredded
1/3 cup pearl barley
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup plain yogurt (or substitute with heavy cream)
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a heavy pot or Dutch oven over low heat, and add the onions and celery along with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat until well softened, 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic and turmeric and cook, stirring, another 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, another minute. Add the carrots, barley, and stock and increase heat to bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover. Cook covered 30-40 minutes, or until the barley is very tender.
Combine a ladle of the soup in a separate bowl with the yogurt and stir until smoothly incorporated. Pour the mixture into the soup and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve, or cover and chill before serving for up to 5 days.