Around the Farm
Spring comes slowly in the kingdom, but if you pay close attention there are little signs all around. A single lonely phoebe calls to me when I step out the door in the morning. I see deer, raccoons and foxes on a regular basis now, along with lots of tracks I don't have the skill to recognize. The longer, somewhat warmer days have the same effect on them as they do on us. They want to get up and move around! For us, of course, spring is marked by thousands of baby transplants being seeded and lovingly cared for in our greenhouses. And for the first time this year spring is also marked by 19 adorable piglets from three happy mamas!
But there is one sign of spring that I Iove above all others: the smell of soil. The frozen winter soil has no smell. Though it's still alive under the frost, at the surface it feels lifeless. Now when I walk into a greenhouse on a warm morning I am overwhelmed by the rich, dark, complex smell of moist soil. I think if I were a true expert I might be able to tell all sorts of soil characteristics by smell the way a coffee connoisseur can tell the place of origin for any brew. At the very least I would have abundant language for describing variation in soil smell: hints of chocolate, mossy, mellow, and fresh. To be a farmer is to love soil and this is the smell of the very earth itself coming back to life. ~Molly
Right: Molly and spinach!
Below: Emilie harvesting spinach
Storage and Use Tips
This week we have another mix of shoots and spinach. This makes an excellent salad, or this morning I made scrambled eggs with some of these greens added in. It's a nice taste of spring!
Keuka potatoes are very similar to Yukon Golds with yellow flesh and skin. Their rich flavor makes them great mashed and roasted. Cornell University developed these potatoes, along with about a dozen others, to grow well in our areas' temperature swings, short growing season, divergent soils and uneven rainfall. This article is an interesting read about these and other recently developed potato varieties in hopes of educating chefs and consumers on locally grown potatoes.
Carrots should be stored loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer, where they will keep for a couple of weeks. Store them away from apples, pears and other produce that create ethylene gas, which causes them to become bitter.
Contrary to appearances, parsnips are not pale versions of carrots. In fact, they 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.
Red cabbage - though very similar in taste to green cabbage, red can have slightly more pronounced peppery notes. In my opinion, it can also tolerate longer cooking cycles without becoming too acidic and "stinky." If alkaline ingredients like eggs are present in your pan when cooking red cabbage, it can turn blue on you (red cabbage works great to color Easter eggs - see this past newsletter for ideas on that). To stop this from happening, add a bit of acid to the pan in the form of lemon juice, vinegar or wine. Classic braising red cabbage preparations often call for adding a little red wine, cider vinegar or both to the pan during cooking. Apples also make a perfect match with red cabbage. Cabbage can be stored loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for weeks. If the outer leaves wilt or turn spotted, just remove them and use the good leaves below. Once cut, keep the remaining cabbage in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer.
Frozen sweet peppers are a sweet taste of summer. 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.
Frozen chard is 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.
We have 2 new products for you - quark cheese and jam! As I write this I'm daydreaming of a piece of Red Hen bread spread with quark cheese and some jam. Yum!
This week the crew at Red Hen baked a new bread called "Three Farm Loaf."
We're making a special bread for the CSA share this week that we're calling the "Three Farm Loaf." It features rolled oats from Roger's Farm in Northfield, Gleason Grains stoneground Snake Mt. wheat flour, and unbleached wheat flour from Les Cedres-- our new farm/mill partner in Quebec. There is also a smattering of flax seeds in there. It is a naturally leavened bread, so it is very subtly sour, satisfyingly chewy, and will keep for at least 3 or 4 days. Enjoy!
Jersey Girls Dairy is a dairy farm in Chester, VT started by Lisa Kaiman in 1999. She's a firm believer in the "We Are What We Eat" mantra (this was the former name of her retail store); her animals are raised humanely and free range.
One of their newest products is quark cheese. What the heck is Quark you ask? Soft, spreadable and mild - made from skimmed pasteurized milk! A perfect (and healthy) schmear for your morning toast and makes a crazy good cheesecake without all the fat of cream cheese. Made right on the farm in small batches in their own processing room and packed by hand, it is seriously good.
What can you do with Quark?
*Use Quark (in equal) portions instead of ricotta in your favorite
lasagna or stuffed shell recipe
*Stir a Tablespoon or two into your mashed potatoes
*Spread on a toasted bagel
*Spread on Whole Grain Toast and Drizzle with local jam
*Make a refreshing herb dip for veggie
*Add to your favorite omelet or stir into scrambled eggs
*Use on a homemade pizza
The possibilities are endless! Use your imagination and have fun! I added it to a pan of pasta with tomato sauce and it was delicious.
Marsh Hollow made us 2 awesome jams for this weeks' share - Strawberry Rhubarb and Maple Wheat Beer Jelly. John, the owner and head creator, makes these non-traditional jams and jellies in small batches in his Moretown kitchen. He was inspired to create local VT products after visiting Ireland and seeing how they ate fresh and local food. He returned home realizing that Vermonters were making that same connection with their food and he wanted to be a part of that. He also wanted to do something that would involve the whole family, so, their Marsh Hollow jam business was born in 2012. As a family, they bounce around ideas for flavors and combinations that they would like to try. Some are more successful than others. All come from some part of their lives and experiences.
The strawberry-rhubarb jam is made with local berries and rhubarb. It's great on toast or muffins, on vanilla ice cream or stirred into yogurt.
The beer jelly is made with Rock Art Brewery's Maple Wheat beer which was brewed just a few weeks ago with local maple syrup. This jelly flavor is new and was created just for us! This jelly is good served with a good cheddar and salty meats, as a glaze on chicken or pork, carrots or roasted veggies, or on a bagel with cream cheese or quark!
* Pick your favorite flavor and take just 1 jam*
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.
Fresh Parsnip & Red Cabbage Salad with Mint
This makes a wonderfullly vibrant winter salad while we're still waiting for the summer veggies! It's a great light starter or side dish and has no fattening additions like nuts or cheese. It also has a lot of nutrients from the vegetables used. The parsnips will offer some fiber and potassium, while the red cabbage has tons more Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Vitamin A. (makes about 4 servings)
1 medium parsnip, peeled and shredded into long strips
1/2 small head red cabbage, finely shredded
2 dozen small fresh mint leaves
juice of 1 lemon
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over the remaining ingredients, reserving some mint leaves for garnish. Sprinkle each plate with reserved mint leaves.
Shoots and Chard Squares
3 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons butter softened
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 pound cheddar cheese shredded
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 bag frozen chard, thawed and excess water removed
5 ounces salad greens, roughly chopped
In a large bowl, combine and mix well eggs, butter, flour, milk, salt and baking powder. Stir in cheese, onion, chard and shoots. Spoon mixture into a 9? x 13? greased pan and level off. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 45 minutes. Cut into large squares for luncheon dish or bite size squares for appetizers. Good hot or cold. Recipe serves 6.
Potato and Root Vegetable Galette
This is a forgiving recipe and can be made with any root veggies you have on hand. Don't have any celeriac? Add extra parsnips! It's best to slice the veggies with a mandoline so they all cook uniformly but if you don't have one you could always slice them slightly bigger, and par-cook the slices by boiling them a couple minutes before layering in a pan. This recipe and picture comes from a blog I just discovered, Not Eating out in NY. (makes 1 9-inch cake, or 2-3 servings)
4 medium potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
1 carrot, scrubbed and thinly sliced
1 parsnip, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small sweet potato, scrubbed and thinly sliced
1/2 celery root, peeled well and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
handful of chopped chives or other fresh herbs for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss all the sliced vegetables in the olive oil and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Melt the butter over medium-high heat in an oven-safe, 9-inch pan. Make sure the butter touches all around the edges of the pan. Arrange the potato slices, overlapping generously, along the edge of the pan. Arrange potato alternating with the rest of the root vegetable slices in rings throughout the center of the pan. Layer the top with more alternating slices of root vegetables and potatoes, making sure to space the potatoes evenly throughout, until all the vegetables are used up.
Cover the pan partially (with a large lid or loosely wrapped foil) and transfer to the oven. Let cook for 20 minutes. Uncover and check; if the vegetable slices have mostly turned translucent, remove cover and continue cooking for another 10 minutes, or until the edges of the galette are visibly lightly browned. If most are still pretty opaque, keep the cover on for the remaining time. Remove from oven. Loosen the edges of the galette with a spatula to make sure they won’t stick. Holding the handle carefully with hot mitts, place a flat plate on top of the pan, and quickly invert the pan and plate. Garnish the top with the fresh herbs and a sprinkle of salt and serve immediately.
Ginger-Braised Red Cabbage
This is a great way to enjoy your cabbage!
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3 teaspoons brown sugar
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 head red cabbage (about 2 1/2 lb.), cut into 8 wedges, core intact
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a heavy ovenproof saucepan, heat oil. Cook shallot and ginger over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add vinegar and brown sugar. Stir in chicken stock, water, and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper. Add cabbage.
Bring to a boil. Cover; transfer to oven and braise until cabbage is tender, 45 to 50 minutes.
Remove cabbage with a slotted spoon and place on a serving platter; discard bay leaf. Simmer remaining liquid over medium-high heat until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Spoon sauce over cabbage.
Carrot Tea Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Here's a great carrot cake recipe for spring. You can substitute your quark for the cream cheese and save some calories!
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup packed grated carrots (from about 2 carrots)
1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature, or Quark!
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 5-by-9-inch (6-cup) loaf pan. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in carrots. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat just until combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan; bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan 5 minutes. Turn cake out onto a wire rack, and let cool completely.
Make frosting: Using mixer, beat cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until fluffy. Frost top of cooled cake.