The Vermont Farm Fund
As many of you know we had a big barn fire here Jan. 12, 2011. And then we received an incredible, seemingly never ending flow of financial support from folks in Vermont and beyond. We are recovered now, fully inhabiting our new building and enjoying being focused on farming. We were overwhelmed with the support we received post fire, we recognized how important this money was to helping us get through a major crisis, and we decided to consider the money donated to be a loan rather than a gift, and to "pay it forward" to the Vermont Farm Fund. The VFF was founded by Pete's Greens and The Center for an Agricultural Economy in the spring of 2011. We planned for the VFF to be an innovation loan fund, intending to make loans to local food businesses that had innovative ideas for new projects. And then Irene happened. Instead we hustled together an emergency loan program, and I'm proud to say that we were the first group to release money to farmers affected by Irene. We've made about 12 emergency loans in the past 8 months.
Now we are launching the innovation side of the VFF. Loans up to $10,000 at 3% interest are available to farms and other food businesses who propose an innovative way to increase Vermont's local food economy. Full details are available at the CAE website. We're excited about this new program and eager to see the VFF grow from it current assets of about $130,000 to something much larger. Donations continue to flow in and Pete's Greens is committed to contributing another $120,000 to the VFF in the coming years. To me the best parts of this loan fund are that there is little paperwork and a short wait for applicants and that the money is paid back in 2-3 years so that it will soon be available to be loaned to the next farmer suffering an emergency or who has a great idea. So, tell your innovative food producing friends to check out the loan and consider the Vermont Farm Fund for your charitable giving. The money will be well used over and over to stimulate Vermont's localvore economy. Thanks ~Pete
Beautiful rows of flowering potatoes in the field today
Storage and Use Tips
Each week I'll give you storage tips if there are veggies in the share some of you may not be familiar with. I think you all are probably pretty well acquainted with the veggies this week!
Potatoes - These are still storage potatoes from last year's harvest. New potatoes won't be with us for a a few more weeks. We have had some issues with our potatoes in storage this year and it's possible that you may find blemishes inside or hollow cores. If you miss out on potatoes because yours are blemished, please let me know. Store your potatoes in a dark, cool place. I store mine in the crisper drawer of the fridge, particularly in Spring. This time of year, potatoes from last year are just waiting for opportunity to sprout.
Kale Lacinato - (All Members) - We grow many varieties of kale at the farm and this one is called Lacinato aka Dinosaur kale, names for its dark leathery leaves. Lacinato stands up really well to cooking, and will retain its shape even in soups and stews. Kale is in the super veggie club, 1 cup packing 1300% of your daily requirements for Vita K, 200% of your Vita A, and nearly 100% of vita C, along with lots and lots more vitas and minerals. It also contains several compounds fairly well documented to be helpful in fighting certain types of cancers. And what's more, it's tasty, so eat lots.
Annie picking LacinatoKale
For those of you joining us this week
There are more tidbits of pick up information in last week's newsletter. You can view that newsletter and the archive of past newsletters here and on the blog page of our website. ~ Amy
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.
It's a pizza week!
This week we have pizza dough and pizza sauce made at the farm in our kitchen with Maplebrook Fresh Mozz to go on top. last night I topped my pizza with sauce, sauteed zucchini & garlic scapes, sauteed spinach and kale, garlic, olives and fresh mozz and it was fab.
We make the Pizza Dough at the farm and then freeze it for delivery. Our pizza dough is made with Aurora Farm's organic unbleached VT white flour, Gleason Grain Snake Mountain Sifted whole wheat flour, local Sunflower Oil, Maine sea salt and yeast. Use within four to five hours of thawing (ready to go the night you pick up share or store in freezer for later use). Coat a smooth surface with flour and cornmeal (just flour ok) so that the dough does not stick to the surface. Form dough into ball and flatten with heels of palms. Stretch dough with hands or use a rolling pin to form shape of baking pan (I use a cookie sheet so I form it into a square). Once dough is slightly stretched on surface you can stretch dough in the air with hands by making two fists held together with dough on top. Move each hand up, down and out turning the dough clockwise. Each dough can be stretched to a 16" round, for thicker crust make smaller. If you like light fluffy crust I put my baking sheet on the top of my oven while preheating and let rise. Otherwise set aside in neutral area till oven is ready at 425F. Cook 12-14 minutes until crust is golden brown and cheese bubbles.
We also made Pizza Sauce to go along with the share. Deb made the pizza sauce last week in our kitchen using our organic tomatoes (that we froze in summer), onions, sunflower oil, garlic, oregano, basil, fennel seed, salt, & black pepper. We hope you all love it. It's coming to you frozen for easy delivery. Defrost and put on your pizza or freeze it for later use). You can of course use this on pasta too.
Maplebrook Farm's Fresh Mozzarella Cheese is hand-made daily in Bennington, Vermont. They start with pure, whole Vermont milk from family farms around the state. The milk is first pasteurized, and then culture and rennet are added. Once the curd has been cut and drained, curd is stretched by hand and molded into mozzarella balls the old-world way. They recommend setting out fresh mozzarella a few hours before serving, for the full flavor to come through. For best quality, use cheese quickly or freeze to use at a later date. This cheese freezes great and can be used months later, even for tomato basil salad.
Each month the meat share delivers our meat share members locally produced meats from farms we know well. The producers we work with all pasture their animals. Pastured is important first and foremost for the animals who have the opportunity to live life the way their species should. But it's also important for us. Having access to sunlight, grass, insects and soil in combination with feed increases levels of Vitamin A, D, E and K in the meats and also results in higher levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids or “the good fat”. Grass fed meats are very healthy for us as well as being delicious.
This month we have a really big Pete's Pastured Chicken for you. These birds will yield a roast chicken dinner with plenty of leftovers for salads, sandwiches, quesadillas, or other dishes (chicken noodle soup in my house). Our chickens are grown on the farm. They start off indoors, their diet supplemented with lots of shoots and greens leftover from our washhouse which they eat with gusto. Once they are feathered out at around 3 weeks of age, they move outside to the field where they spend the rest of their lives grazing and scratching in the dirt for insects and worms. They assimilate the vitamins in their green diet into their meat making this chicken vitamin packed, low fat and very healthy. Some people roast chickens all the time, some don't. If you are in the latter category, rejoice in the big to-be-roasted bird. I roast a big chicken each week. It makes a great meal on night one. Then there's loads of leftover chicken. You can make so many dishes with the leftovers, including my favorite Chicken curry with cashews. And then you can make broth. Don't skip this! This is such a valuable part of the bird - then you get soups and risottos and more.
From Mike and Julie Bown at North Hollow Farm, we have Country Style Pork Ribs, one of my favorite cuts. These are pork ribs cut from the loin end of the rib and they are the meatiest ribs. This is a cut that needs slow cooking, see recipe below for a suggestion.
Lila Bennet of Tangletown Farm delivered some of her tasty Hot italian sausage Monday. Lila and David Bennet and their three kids raise chickens, ducks, turkeys, lamb, pigs and beef on their small family farm in Middlesex. The hot italian is not so very hot, it's really a crowd pleaser. I chose it this week to go with the pizza fixings in the localvore share. It's not in links, it's just ground sausage. To use, simply crumble into a skillet and brown it before adding to pizza or other dishes. Or form the sausage meat into patties or balls.
For your grilling pleasure, we also have sausage from Maplewind Farm in Huntington. Your bag will contain either Andouille or Chorizo sausage and both are perfect for just grilling and having sausage in a bun for dinner. They are also versatile and can be added to many dishes. Beth and Bruce and their 2 kids raise quite a menagerie up on top of the mountain in Huntington. Their farm is beautiful and the animals receive great care.
For regular veggie only members this week, finally, a chance to dig in to Summer's best dish. I love, love, love good tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozz. So much so that I keep a ball of frozen fresh mozz in the freezer so it's available whenever the tomatoes and basil are. And I grow an obscene number of tomato and basil plants at home just so I never have to go without. It's about the simplest recipe...
Summer tomatoes, sliced into thick rounds
Fresh mozzarella, sliced into rounds
a handful of basil leaves - chopped
Good olive oil
Good aged balsamic or a balsamic reduction
Optional - a clove of garlic, minced
Putting the salad together is simple. Once you have sliced the tomatoes and mozz and chopped the basil you can arrange them prettily on a plate and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic.
If you don't have the highest quality balsamic, you can improve it easily. Just pour a half cup or so into a small saucepan and let it boil, simmering it to half it's original volume. This concentrates the vinegar into something even more yummy. (Don't leave this pot unattended as it reduces pretty quickly and will burn.)
Hardly any need to give pizza suggestions this week, but in case you aren't yet one with the veggies in your bag, my pizza would be topped like this.
sauteed zucchini & radishes
sauteed radish greens (yes, these too are edible when cooked)&/or kale
fresh Mozzarella, sliced and torn and dotted around pizza
Optional - Tangletown Hot italian sausage, browned in skillet first
Potato Zucchini Cakes with Kale
Here's one that avoids long cooking times on hot evenings, but packs in some veggies. These with a side salad will make a nice simple meal.
2 potatoes, peeled and grated
2 small zucchini, grated
1/2 bunch kale, stems removed, wilted, and finely chopped (ends up being about a cup. You can also substitute spinach, chard, radish or turnip greens here)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (or sifted or even white of course if that's what you have)
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Oil for pan frying
In a mixing bowl, combine grated potato, grated zucchini, and wilted kale. Squeeze out as much water as possible. Then add egg, flour, salt, and pepper, and stir until completely combined.
Heat a large fry pan over medium high heat and add a shallow layer of oil. Once the oil is hot, make patties of the potato mixture in your hands one at a time, and carefully add them to the hot oil. The oil should be bubbling around the sides of the potato pancakes. If it’s not, your oil isn’t hot enough and your pancakes will absorb too much oil and come out greasy.
When the second side has browned, remove from pan with a spatula and place on a plate covered in paper towels to absorb some of the oil. Continue cooking the rest of your potato pancakes this same way, adding more oil to the pan in between batches if necessary.
BBQ Country Style Ribs
?Country style ribs require long slow cooking and deserve to be cooked til the meat is nearly falling from the bone. You can do this in a slow cooker in about 6-8 hours, or you can go the oven route and get there in a shorter amount of time. Either way, the results should be delicious. The method is perfect for this cut of meat and the lemon slices on top help tenderize the meat while it cooks. You could use any BBQ sauce for this, or make your own, or just serve the ribs plain if you have picky kids in the house. They'll be yummy regardless. You can also cover the ribs with foil for the first 2 hours to keep them more moist. ??
10 country style pork ribs
?2 teaspoons minced garlic
?1 lemon, thinly sliced?
1 (18 ounce) bottle barbeque sauce??
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).?
In a shallow baking pan or roaster, place ribs in a single layer; salt if desired. Spread the garlic on the ribs, then place the lemon slices on top. Bake in a preheated oven for 2 hours - the ribs should be tender. Drain any grease and liquid. Pour BBQ sauce over the ribs. Return to oven and bake one more hour at 200 to 250 degrees F.