Good Eats Newsletter - January 6, 2010

This Week's Vegetable Share Contains:
Mesclun mix of Claytonia and Spinach; 3 lbs Nicola Potatoes; 2 lbs Rutabagas; 2 lbs Red Onions; 1 Large Bunch of Leeks; Large Head of Green Cabbage; 1 Quart Frozen Pumpkin Puree
Localvore Offerings Include:
Red Hen Bread:
Either Cyrus Pringle -or- Localvore Mad River
Les Aliments Massawippi Soya and Oats Miso
Willow Hill La Fleurie Cheese
1 Dozen Eggs

Laughing Moon will receive replacement eggs
(an egg double header for you folks!).

Meat Share People!
This is a Meat Share Week!

Pete's Musings
The Reyes Vargas clan who work on our farm in the summer are affectionately known as the "amigos". I've never really asked them if they enjoy this description but it has been a handy catchall name for us. I'd long been curious about the amigo's farm in Mexico. I'd spent many hours listening to descriptions of cows, horses, fields of tomatoes, tomatillas and corn. The work ethic they demonstrate while working on our farm is truly incredible and so ingrained into their being that it is obvious that they don't just put it on for their trip to the States. So I was prepared to be wowed.
Unfortunately it's more complicated than just working hard. It is very dry in their area and getting worse every year. They can no longer farm a prime field that they used to grow on as there is no more water. Instead they have to walk 20 minutes down a very steep path to a field that has gravity flow water. Erosion and overgrazing are a real problem and I suspect the water issues are at least partially related to that.
Their climate is ideal for most vegetable and fruit crops-warm sunny days and cool dry nights. There are virtually no gardens in their town, just corn for tortillas and larger scale commercial crops such as tomatoes and tomatillas. This is puzzling as they seem to enjoy eating a wide variety of vegetables and fruits and while they are fairly inexpensive to buy they did not seem inexpensive compared to the average wage in the area which is $10 per day.

The economics of commercial production is really tough. They grow 2 acres of tomatillas which are about 1/3 golf ball in size and miserably time consuming to harvest. They fill burlap bags with 70 lbs. of tomatillas and haul them the 20 minutes back up the steep path to the road. Then they drive them nearly 2 hours over several mountain passes to the market. The market is huge - perhaps the equivalent of 15 times the Montpelier farmers market. There is no regulation of who shows up to sell food - free market at it's best, or worst. When they go to market they have no idea what the tomatilla price is going to be - it all depends on how many other folks have tomatillas that day. The price is never great, averaging about $15 per 70 lb bag. When there are gluts the price can be a lot worse.

We visited a 1/2 acre greenhouse tomato operation. Techniques and equipment are very similar to what we do in Vermont. They had been getting a good price of .50 cents per lb. all fall but the previous week the price fell to .10 cents per lb. They were discouraged by this but still harvesting and packing the tomatoes. ~Pete

Tune in next week: Mexican farm animals and pets
Spring Share Sign-up
Summer share sign-up is rolling along now with the envelopes arriving daily. Please get yours in as soon as you can to secure your weekly deliveries of produce and localvore goodies and monthly deliveries of local, pasture raised meats. Checks will not be cashed until the start of Feb.

Sign-up for the Spring Localvore Share (Feb 17th - Jun 9th)
Sign-up for the Spring Meat Share (4 Deliveries: Mar 3, Apr 7, May 5, June 2)


Site News
Montpelier - Montpelier Mud will be open for pick up from 8am to 9pm this week and through the end of January. In February we anticipate the hours changing to 8am to 6pm, but I'll update you all as we get closer.

Adams Court - Kate has asked me to remind members to PLEASE CLOSE THE DOOR at Adams when you come to pick up. The door really needs to be shut tightly. Also, do try to pick up as early as possible, especially on super cold days to get food before it begins to freeze.

Grove St - Like Adams Court, food at this site is at risk of exposure so try to pick up early.

Newport - We are still working on a plan to allow for the continuation of a Newport site. Stay tuned.

Please Consider a Donation to Farm Share

Each share period, donations from our members enable some number of limited income families to join NOFA's Farm Share program and gain access to fresh local produce through a Pete's Greens Good Eats share. Eligible Farm Share recipients pay only 50% of the cost of the share. The other 50% comes from donations - 25% from Pete's Greens member donations and 25% from NOFA. (NOFA's funds are raised from their annual September Share the Harvest Event in which participating restaurants pledge a portion of the day's sales to the program.) The number of Farm Share grants Pete's is able to offer each share period depends entirely on the number of donations we receive from our members. Please consider a donation to the Farm Share program when you sign up for your own share. Your donation will directly fund a portion of a share for someone, and lots of small donations really add to make the difference.

Bulk Orders
The next bulk order will go out January 20. We must receive your order form by mail by this Friday January 9th if you'd like to be part of this next bulk order. The January 20th bulk order is available on line on our bulk order page.

Pete's Pastured Chicken
We will continue to deliver chicken orders to Good Eats members through the Spring months. You can order chickens any week that is not a meat delivery week. Click here to go directly to the chicken page where you can download an order form.

Pastured Chickens and Turkeys

We have lowered the price on the Gopher Broke turkeys to move the last of them. The standards are now $4.00/lb and the heritage birds are $5.95/lb. These turkeys are delicious, and spent their lives on pasture at Gopher Broke Farm. If you'd like a turkey delivered to your pick up site, email me and I'll send along the current list of available birds.

Localvore Lore

At Red Hen Baking Co. this week, Randy George was all set to make us some of their Cyrus Pringle Batard, made with organic Aurora Farms Vt unbleached white. While we were corresponding about quantity I mentioned that I'd really been enjoying Red Hen's Mad River bread lately. Randy replied, "why don't we do both?". And so this week, he has created a localvore version of their Mad River bread, made with Aurora Farms cornmeal and white flour, Gleason’s whole wheat flour, and Quebecois flax, oats and rye. There will be a mix of these breads at the sites, with a bit more than Mad River than Cyrus Pringle.

Eggs again this week for everyone from Pa Pa Doodles and Gopher Broke Farm. We are scheduled to have eggs 2 more times this share, if the hens keep up... January 27th and Feb 3rd.

For the first time we have cheese from Willow Hill Farm in the share! The La Fleurie cheese hails from Milton, where husband and wife team run a small certified organic seasonal grass-fed dairy. They make both cow and sheep cheeses with milk from their own animals and age their cheeses on the farm in their own cave. Their cheeses have won numerous awards at the World Cheese Awards. Willow made a special batch of this cheese to accommodate our CSA. It is normally shipped out younger than this so that it has a longer shelf life in stores. But she aged this cheese further for us so that you all could receive it at its peak. We hope to bring you more of their cheeses in the future. A description of the La Fleurie from their website:
This little morsel is like a mini-Camembert! Disc-shaped, bloomy rind cow's milk cheese from our own rich Brown Swiss cows' milk. It begins young like a richer Chaource then ripens to a mushroomy and buttery round.
To follow the tamari in last week's share, we have beautiful organic traditionally made unpasteurized Soya and Oats Miso made by Gilbert and Suzanne of Les Aliments Massawippi. Suzanne started making miso nearly 10 years ago. She adheres to the ancient method of making miso using nothing but organic soy beans, cereal grains like rice and barley, water and salt. It's a cool process.

She starts by rinsing the soy and then soaking and boiling them until they reach the right texture. Meanwhile she cleans and then steams the grains until they reach the optimal moisture level and then they are allowed to cool. At this point she innoculates the grains with both a fungal culture (Aspergillus oryzae) and lactobacilli. The grains are left to ferment for 45 hours at a specific temperature until each grain is coated with a white mycelium and yields what is known as koji. At this point the koji covered grain is combined with the soy beans, salt and water and the whole batch is crushed and prepared for a second fermentation. The process to this point takes three days. Now the miso goes into an anaerobic environment for the second fermentation which can last from one week up to two or three years depending on the type of miso that is being made.
Miso is a fermented product which enhances the effect of the lactic intestinal flora and as such it is easy on the body. The enzymes it contains further aids digestion. Commercial packaged miso has been pasteurized and is no longer a living food so always choose unpasteurized miso. This miso will keep in your fridge for a very long time.
Meat Share
For the first time ever, we have three of our own meats this week! Several years ago, we started raising chickens as a means of increasing the fertility on the farm. We started small and have increased the flock numbers each year as we have learned to do things better. This year, we put up lots of fencing appropriate for cows, pigs and sheep and got just a few animals to start. A long range fertility program is slowly taking shape so that we can completely close the loop on the farm, no longer depending on outside compost sources to feed the vegetable fields. We don't have many animals at this point, and it will be a while before we have enough to provide, say, Porterhouse steaks for the whole share, but hopefully we'll be able to provide ground beef and stew meat and items we get in larger quantity with some regularity. We will be selling the other cuts separately though, and should have a price list for all available meats in the next few weeks.

Pete's Chicken - we have pulled some larger birds from the freezer this week. These are our pastured chickens, delicious tender birds that spent their lives eating as much green food and vegetation as you can convince a meat bird to eat. We start our chicks in the greenhouse and then move them outside as soon as they are feathered out enough. Then they live outside, pastured in green fields, with large moveable shelters for lounging in.

Bonnieview Lamb Shanks - Neil and Kristin Urie live nearby the farm and make great cheeses from their dairy sheep. We bought a lot of Neil's male lambs in the spring and he raised them over at his place for us. The lamb shanks in the share today should be delicious.

Pete's Pastured Ground Beef - Our beef are raised at our farm and at Bruce Urie's farm nearby. They are pastured continuously, and those that spend time at our farm get to feast on vegetables, pumpkins and roots that cows love. Though the meat is not certified organic, the forage and hay they eat has never been treated with anything, and the pastures on our farm are certified. We give the animals no medications or chemical dewormers so you can feel great about this meat.

Maplewind Farm Summer Sausage - Once again we have a great product from Maplewind Farm in Huntington. Up on top of a ridge with the Long Trail running by, Beth and Bruce raise beef, poultry, pigs, and poultry while also growing vegetables for their CSA down on the valley floor. Their pigs are all born on the farm and pastured throughout their lives. The Summer Sausage in the share today is great on crackers or with a cheese plate. It is completely cured so though it is coming to you frozen it could actually be kept on the kitchen counter until it is opened (after which it does need to be refrigerated). But it needs no cooking. Just slice up and enjoy. It is mild flavored summer sausage and also makes great sandwich meat!

Recipes

Unstuffed Sweet-and-Sour Cabbage
This recipe mimics the time consuming Stuffed Cabbage classic, without all the extra time. Great reviews from lots of home cooks who took some liberties with the recipe. As is, it gets a 4 fork rating from epicurious. But cooks substituted sausage or bacon for the pork, others substituted tofu or Boca meat for some or all of the meats. Some made it meat and meat substitute-less. Others left out the cranberries or added more garlic. Lots of room to play here. From Gourmet November 2008. Serves 4.
1 (2-pound) head green cabbage, quartered lengthwise and cored
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, divided
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound ground beef chuck
1/2 pound ground pork
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Accompaniment: steamed rice

Place cabbage in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet with broth, 1 garlic clove (sliced), and a rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then cook, covered, turning cabbage occasionally, until very tender, about 20-30 minutes. (Add more broth or water if necessary.)
Meanwhile, cook onion and remaining garlic in oil in a heavy medium pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and stir in ground meats along with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring and breaking up lumps with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes with their juice, cranberries, vinegar, and brown sugar and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally and breaking up tomatoes with spoon, until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Season with salt.
Pour sauce into skillet with cabbage and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Serve sprinkled with parsley.

Thai Butternut Squash Soup
Share member Melissa Pasanen sent this recipe along a couple weeks ago after receiving the last round of pumpkin puree in the share. The puree makes soups like this a breeze! Assuming you want keep your precious mesclun for salad, you can skip the greens if you don't have anything appropriate in your fridge. But if you don't think you will make salad this week, you could add a few handfuls of your spinach/claytonia mix. This one has been adapted from Simple Suppers from Moosewood.
1 cup coconut milk (or 1 whole can)
1/2 teaspoon Thai red curry paste, or to taste
4 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups vegetable broth
24 ounces cooked winter squash (the whole 32 oz bag will be fine!)
1 lime
2 cups fresh baby spinach or bok choy leaves, thinly slivered
chopped fresh cilantro
Whisk coconut milk, curry paste, sugar, salt, broth, squash together in a large pot. Cover and bring to simmer and cook 10 minutes or so until heated through. Lightly grate lime and add 1 teaspoon zest and juice of lime. Add spinach or bok choy and cook just until wilted. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with cilantro as desired. Serves 4.
Vichyssoise (Cream of Leek Soup)
I am including this recipe not just because we have the potatoes and leeks but because this recipe uses miso too. From the cookbook Miso More than Food:Life by Suzanne Dionne, maker of your miso, this is a nice adaptation of the French classic. For a carrot soup, you can substitute 2 cups of grated carrots for the leeks.

2 TB butter
4 medium leeks, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 medium potatoes peeled and cubed
2 stalks of celery, cut into strips
1/2 tsp chervil
1/2 tsp marjoram
2 cups water

1 cup milk
3 TB miso diluted in 1/4 cup hot water
2 TB chives or green onions, finely chopped
a few garlic croutons

In a pot, melt the butter and cook the leeks, onions, and garlic together for 5 minutes stirring frequently. Do not brown. Add the potatoes, celery, chervil, marjoram, and half the water. Cover and let simmer for 25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Let cool for 15 minutes.

Place the mixture in a food processor and puree. Before serving, pour the mixture back into the cooking pan and add the milk and the remaining water. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and add the miso.

Pour into bowls and top with a few croutons and the chives or green onions, and serve hot.

Chicken Curry with Cashews
This is one of my favorite chicken recipes that a friend gave me years ago and one that I make over and over. It calls for adding the chicken to the dish raw and cooking it, but I always have whole chickens to deal with and since I can't be bothered cutting them up before cooking, I used cooked meat. Usually I roast the whole bird on the day prior, eat one meal from the bird, and the following day I throw the rest into this dish. Honestly this dish is so good it's like dessert. You can't stop eating it.

1/4 c butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 TB finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
3 TB curry powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne

1 chicken, cut into pieces
14-16 oz diced tomatoes
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro (this is nice but not essential)
3/4 c cashews (this I suppose is not essential but is what makes the dish dessert like)
3/4 c. whole milk plain yogurt

Heat butter over moderately low heat until foam subsided, then cook onions, garlic, and ginger, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Add curry powder, salt, cumin, and cayenne and cook, stirring, 2 mins. Add chicken and cook stirring to coat, 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juice, and cilantro and bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally until chicken is cooked through, about 40 minutes.

*If making with cooked chicken, add the tomatoes and cilantro after cooking the spices for 2 mins, and let simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavors to come together. Then add the cooked chicken and heat through. Then move to the steps below.

Just before serving (or heating up- the above can be cooked well in advance):
pulse cashews in a food processor until very finely ground, then add to curry along with yogurt and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring, until sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.

Serve with basmati rice.


Braised Lamb Shanks with Potato Root Vegetable Mash
There are many recipes for lamb shanks and they all call for long, slow cooking to tenderize the meat. But you are rewarded with tender, velvety meat in beautiful rich sauce. This recipe source is a combo. The Braised Lamb part comes from seriouslygood.com and the Potato Root Veg Mash comes from Bon Appetit Jan 1996 by way of epicurious.com.
2 Lamb Shanks -- closely trimmed of fat
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions -- cut into eighths
3 medium carrots -- peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1 ea celery stalk -- cut into 1/4" pieces
2 cloves garlic -- sliced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 TB dried Herbes de Provence
1 TB juniper berries -- smashed (optional, but good)
2 c red wine
1 - 2 c beef stock
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 325F.
Generously season lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add lamb shanks and brown on all sides, including end. Remove to a plate.
Reduce heat to medium and add onions, carrots, and celery to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until ingredients begin to brown. Add tomato paste, juniper, herbs, and garlic. add salt and pepper to taste. Cook an addition 1 1/2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add wine, deglaze pan, and reduce by half. Return shanks to the pot and add enough beef stock to come halfway up the sides of the shanks.
Cover and place in the center of the oven, and cook for 3 hours, turning shanks over about halfway through the cooking time. The meat should be just about falling from the bone when done.
Potato and Root vegetable mash
1-2 large russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
1-2 rutabagas, peeled, halved, thinly sliced
3 small parsnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add potatoes, rutabagas and parsnips. Boil until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well.
Return vegetables to same pot. Mash until coarse puree forms. Mix in 3 tablespoons olive oil. Season vegetables to taste with salt and pepper. (Vegetable mash can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm over low heat, stirring frequently.) Transfer vegetables to bowl and serve.
Spoon Potato and Root Vegetable Mash onto plates. Top vegetables with lamb shanks and sauce.