Sunday, December 28, 2014

Deer Rammers Pie (I promise that isn't as weird as it sounds)

Another slow news week on the farming front. Though we do have an excellent reason.

CHRISTMAS, of course :)

This year's tree, pre cutting.
As you can see, we're big Charlie Brown fans.
This year's Christmas highlights included:

A ukelele,
a hatchet,
and this masterpiece. 
Also this delicious use for leftover mashed potatoes.
 It featured many of the goodies that are included
in this week's share.
The share will include carrots, potatoes, kohlrabi, sweet mama winter squash, cabbage, rutabaga, and dry beans.

The kohlrabi has (like everything in the share) been in storage since November. The outside looks a bit shriveled, but the inside is still good enough to enjoy raw with a sprinkle of salt and lime juice.

Sweet mama squash is the first of the real keeper squash to show up in the shares this winter. This one doesn't reach its most delicious until it has been in storage for a few months. Which means now. Sweet mama is dense and sweet, a good squash to cube and cook in a soup, stew, or casserole. 

The dry beans are finally making an appearance this week! Most members will receive marfax, which are a baking bean. You don't need to bake them, but the beans have the familiar flavor of baking type beans. I like to cook them on the stove (after soaking) with a maple syrup and chopped carrots. They have the sweetness of baked beans without the fuss. If you have a bit of bacon to brown in the pan before you cook them (and then crumble on top when the beans are done) so much the better.

Now it's time to explain the title of the post. You know shepherds pie, made with lamb? The recipe for this week is basically a shepherds pie, except that it is made with venison. Normally that would be called a hunters pie or simply a shepherds pie by people who don't feel the need to rename a recipe just because they changed the type of meat in it (those people are crazy). However, our freezer is full of venison that we accidentally hunted, with our van, which is a Dodge Ram. So this pie is a deer rammers pie. And now you know.

Of course, you can use whatever meat you'd like to in this recipe. Just be sure to rename it accordingly. 

Deer Rammers Pie

  • About 3 cups leftover mashed potatoes (we always put cream cheese in our mashed potatoes--you should try it)
  • olive oil
  • 1 pound ground venison or other meat of your choosing
  • 1 onion, diced
  • Two cups root vegetables such as carrots, rutabaga, or kohlrabi, chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat a little bit of olive oil in a cast iron skillet (or other over proof skillet) over low/medium heat.

Add the onion, ground meat, and root vegetables. Cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is just browned. 
Don't eat it yet. It gets better.
Add salt, pepper and flour and stir well. Stir in the milk and cook, stirring constantly, until the milk and flour have taken on a creamy consistancy. You won't see a lot of liquid in the pan, but it should look deliciously oozy throughout. If it doesn't, stir in another tablespoon or so of milk.

Remove the skillet from the heat and spread the still cold mashed potatoes over the top of the meat, like you're frosting a layer cake.

Bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes. Broil for an additional five minutes (or so--always watch closely when you are broiling to avoid burning) for a golden brown crust.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Merry Christmas Brownies...with Beets

Hey Look, it's May!
Just kidding, I know it's December. It's usually way snowier than this in May.

We do have some baby spring greens going into the shares this week though, so I think I can be forgiven for my confusion over the season :)

The greens are microgreens. They are similar to sprouts, but more mature. Also, they're grown on a substrate (like soil, in this case we used a fiber grow mat and fertilized them with liquid kelp) and harvested. They do not include the roots like sprouts do. You may have noticed some photos of them scroll by you on our Facebook page earlier this week.

Here they are again.

Microgreens are new for us, we've been experimenting with them this year and, though we definitely have some greens to give to our members, we still have several questions to answer. For example, we aren't sure at all how much greens we'll end up with when we harvest them tomorrow, which is why some members will be taking home fresh rosemary with their share on Tuesday instead of microgreens.

In addition to the microgreens or rosemary, members will receive the following: Rutabaga, Onions, Carrots, Potatoes, Butternut Squash, Cabbage, Leeks and Beets.

And, I'm re-sharing one of our favorite Christmas cookie recipes. I originally posted this way back in 2010, but Scott said it's too good not to re-post for winter share members. Hope you like it!

Beet Brownies

The baking time will vary for these brownies. It seems to depend on the moisture content of the beets. The most important thing is not to over bake them. They go from perfect to burnt in a flash. So start checking at 25 minutes and check every five minutes or so until they are done.

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Butter and flour a 9x13 inch pan
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 - 3 medium beets
  • 1 cup walnut halves (optional)
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (optional)

This is how your diced beets should look.
  1. Dice the beets very small. They should be about the size of chocolate chips. I don't peel mine, but you can if you prefer. Do it by hand because a food processor makes the beets too juicy and changes the texture of the brownies. 
  2. Combine the butter, honey, cocoa powder, and cinnamon in a saucepan large enough to contain all of the ingredients. Place it over low heat.
  3. Stir occasionally until the butter has melted and it looks like chocolate sauce.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar and salt.
  5. Incorporate the eggs, one at a time.
  6. Add the flour. Stir just until the ingredients are combined.
  7. Fold in the diced beets, and the walnuts and chocolate if using
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared dish and bake at 350 F for 25 (or more - see header) minutes.
  9. The brownies are done when the surface is golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out with crumbs stuck to it, rather than wet with batter.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Winter CSA Flies By

So far, from the farmer perspective, we are finding the Winter CSA to be pretty low key. The vegetables are doing nicely in storage. Just hanging out and waiting for us to pack them up and bring them to the members. The stress of wondering what the weather will do to us is over for the season and now we get to sit back and share the fruits of our labors.

Hopefully the members are enjoying things as much as we are :)

This week's fruits include the following: Brussels Sprouts, Onions, 5 lbs Carrots, 4 lbs Potatoes, Spaghetti Squash, 2 Honey Bear Acorn Squash and Dried Tomatoes.

This will be the last of the spaghetti squash and Brussels sprouts until next fall, so you should probably savor them. To help you with that task I have come up with a spaghetti squash twist on one of my old standby recipes. (Sesame Noodles is the twisted recipe, if you are wondering)

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I think it may be the best spaghetti squash recipe in the entire world.

I have a little spaghetti squash aside to get out of the way before I get to the recipe. I've been trying to determine whether I like roasting spaghetti squash whole or halved better. For this particular recipe, I went with whole. I made that choice for two reasons. 1. The internet would have me believe that roasting whole leads to longer, more noodle like squash strands and this recipe is one of those rare occasions in which I'm using spaghetti squash as a noodle stand in. 2. This recipe is meant to be made with cold spaghetti squash, and it seemed easier to stick a whole baked squash in the fridge than two halves.

I very carefully considered these two potential advantages when cooking this squash dish today, because I wanted to answer this question once and for all. (And because I don't have much stuff to carefully consider during the winter.)

I came to the conclusion that I prefer to halve the squash. The whole squash was much wetter than halved squash tends to be and I'm not really sure that the strands were of a noticeably different length. It was probably easier to stick into the fridge after cooking than two halves would have been, but it was a bother to separate the seeds from the good stuff which kind of balanced that out.

It's interesting to peel a whole baked spaghetti squash and it starts out promisingly tidy.
But once you start taking the innards out it turns into a smush of seeds and strands and messy fingers.
I don't care for messy fingers.

Now that that's settled. Here's the recipe.

Sesame Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 spaghetti squash, baked until soft and cooled
  • 2 carrots, peeled into long noodle like strips or shredded
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, or other sweetener of your choosing
Combine the spaghetti squash strands and carrot in a serving bowl and set aside.

Stir together the remaining ingredients with a fork until well combined. Pour the resulting sauce over the squash and carrots and stir to coat.

Then devour it. We ate all of ours up while we waited for the steelhead to
finish baking in the oven. It was really really good.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Early Winter

I don't need to tell any of you guys that winter came early this year. I'm sure you've noticed all on your own.

It's kind of hard to miss.

This photo was taken this morning out front of the
Northwinds Co-op in Ironwood.
Incidentally, if you have concerns about municipal snow removal in the U.P. as we head into this daunting winter, you might want to consider signing the petition at the link below. It was started by Eva Smith-Fergason, a long time Wintergreen Farm CSA member and the manager of the Northwinds Co-op. She is trying to get the challenge of snow removal in the U.P. on the political radar before it becomes insurmountable this season.

 Click here to sign the petition regarding snow removal in Ironwood and get some attention for the issue of snow removal in the U.P.

You wouldn't think it, but this snow actually has a silver lining for the vegetables. We were unable to get every single carrot we grew this year harvested before the season shifted (though we do have a generous ton in storage). We had a feeling that would happen, so we'd made a deal with one of the hay farmers in the area to deliver a few round bales this fall so that we could mulch them. Carrots keep very well in the ground over the winter, as long as their shoulders are insulated so they don't freeze. Unfortunately, the fields were too wet this fall for our hay farmer friend to make his delivery. There was a bit of hand wringing on our part as we tried to figure out how to mulch the carrots before the temperatures dipped low enough to damage them.

Then this happened.

Carrots tucked under several inches of nature's best winter insulator.
And we breathed a massive sigh of relief.

Your carrots will be safe all winter long :)

After getting a lot of feedback from you (thanks everyone!) about the first winter share, I believe you're all happy to hear that the carrots aren't going anywhere. I think you'll also be mostly happy to hear that we are reducing the carrots this week from 5 to 3 pounds and increasing the quantity of onions we distribute.

The full share includes: Brussels sprouts, 3 pounds carrots, 3 pound onions, 4 pounds potatoes, 2 honey bear acorn squash, 1 delicata squash, 1 sweet dumpling squash, two heads of garlic and rutabaga.

Happy Squashgiving :)

If you want to try a squash recipe that doesn't involve roasting as the first step, I suggest trying it with the delicata. As in this recipe. Though to be honest, I would never put marinara on delicata squash. That sounds wrong.

Roasted Rutabaga Fries sound right though. I would and have made them, and you should too. Even if you receive one of the massive bagas this week, it will disappear quickly if you use it to make fries.

Roasted Rutabaga Fries 

If you wanted more traditional fries you could break out the peanut oil and deep fry the rutabaga, but that sounds complicated and messy to me. These roasted fries are easy and delicious.

  • 1 rutabaga, peeled of any tough skin and cut into quarter inch strips
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • seasoning of your choosing (I used dried oregano and lemon peel for this batch, other good bets are cumin, garlic, or curry powder)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Toss the rutabaga pieces until they are evenly coated with olive oil and seasonings,

 Spread the rutabaga out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees, stirring occasionally, until the rutabaga begins to brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Like this.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A New Beginning

We've never started a CSA season in November before. It's kind a good way :)

When we initially decided to offer a winter share this year, we imagined a bigger break between the end of the summer share and the beginning of the winter share. But the weather had other ideas.

So, though our bodies crave their usual fall rest, we are scrambling to get all the produce into storage before the cold gets it. We're doing okay so far, but if you notice Scott looking a little sore at pick-up you'll know why. He has to carry all the heavy boxes.

Luckily, we have our members to help us with some of the labor.

I didn't have my camera at the bean party, but one of the members did. Thanks Keren!
Saturday's bean party was a huge success. Not only was it fun, it was productive.

We didn't get through anything like ALL the beans (the photo on the top left shows
our mounds of drying bean plants) but we did get a lot shelled. The jars in this
photo are half gallon.

Many hands make light work. Thanks everyone who came out and helped us!

We have to finish shelling to be sure, but it looks like we have enough that members will be seeing beans in their shares at least once this winter.

This week members will receive: 5 pounds carrots, 5 pounds potatoes, 1 pound beets, 2 Brussels sprout stalks, a winter luxury pie pumpkin, a spaghetti squash, kale, hakurei, celeriac, and onions from Dignity Farm.

Our onions were a major failure this year, so we are trading carrots for onions with Dignity Farm, a family farm in Calumet that follows sustainable growing methods similar to ours at Wintergreen. Please feel free to ask me lots of questions if you want to know anything about their growing methods.

The kale is loose, rather than bunched as you usually get it. We have a ton of nice smaller leaves right now that would be a challenge to bunch. They may grow bigger before they suffer too many freezes to taste good, but it is more likely that we would lose the chance to harvest them if we wait until they reach a more bunchable size.

Plus, the loose kale is kind of gorgeous. 

In case you were wondering, I did not randomly insert the words winter luxury into the list of items you'll be receiving this week. A winter luxury pie pumpkin is a particular kind of pie pumpkin. They are extremely gorgeous pumpkins, and some people seem to find them tastier than other pie pumpkins. I still like the baby pam better. I'd love to hear what you think. If you want to learn more about winter luxury pie pumpkins, check out this post by the see saver's exchange.

And, please, if you want to know anything about the food in your shares, remember that you can always ask me. A lot of you do already, and lately I've been getting a lot of questions about the beets. It seems that not everyone knows what to do with them.

Here's an idea.

Beet Kale Salad with Cinnamon Citrus Dressing

You could make this with roasted Brussels sprouts rather than kale. Just roast the sprouts alongside the beets, uncovered. Check frequently because they will probably be done much sooner than the beets are.
  • One pound beets, trimmed and cut into equal sized pieces
  • 1/4 pound kale
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange or tangerine juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Place the beets in a single layer in a shallow baking dish (like a lasagna pan), covered with tin foil. Bake at 400 degrees until the beets are just tender, about 30 minutes.

While the beets are roasting, stem the kale (the easiest way to do this is to grasp the base of the stem firmly in one hand and use the other hand to sort of push the tender leafy parts off the tough stem--it's fast and you lose less than if you try to try the stems out with a knife) and chop it into bite sized pieces. Put the kale in a salad bowl and set it aside.

Stir together the juice, oil, salt, and cinnamon until the mixture is pretty well emulsified.

When the beets are done, pour the dressing over them and stir to ensure the beets are coated. Then add the beets and dressing to the kale and toss to coat the kale with dressing. Let the salad sit for about a half hour before eating it for the best flavor and texture.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Week 16: A Whole New Winter

Normally we come to the end of summer CSA season, exhausted and ready for a winter of relative rest before starting the whole thing over again.

But this year is different. We're still pretty tired, but we're also exhilarated. As we harvest and pack the final summer share for the season, we are also planning the first winter share.

Not to mention tucking tons of root vegetables into storage, determining how best to clean the 850 lbs of flax seed we just got in from a farmer down the road (who plans to supply us with around five tons next year!), and working out the packaging kinks as we roll out lightly processed products via Wintergreen Foods.

Dwayne Kolpack (of flaxseed fame) also grows sunflowers.
We stopped by a month or so ago for a flower photo shoot.

He hasn't been able to combine these yet, but we'll get some when he does :)
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I skipped right past the details of this week's share, which will include: 5 pounds Carrots, 4 pounds Potatoes, 2 pounds Beets, 2 Honey Bear Acorn Squash, Cabbage, Leeks, 3 Gourds OR 2 Hooligan Pumpkins, Rutabaga OR Celeriac, and Pac Choi OR Hakurei.

These are Hooligans, if you were wondering. It's hard to tell from the photo,
but they're about the same size as the small gourds we grow. Also, they aren't
always this blurry. They have dry, mildly sweet flesh.

The share is much the same as last week, but this one has leeks. This year's leeks are a bit improved over last year's, though they are still on the small side. They taste great though. We grew them in sand and compost, so be sure to wash them well to remove all the grit. If you aren't sure what to do with them, try this soup. It's a recipe Scott invented way back in our farm intern days. It's on the this side, use less milk (down to four cups is fine) if you would like it a little thicker.

Squash Leek Soup

  • Two honey bear acorn squash (or one larger sweet fleshed winter squash)
  • 6 cups milk or cream
  • 2 small or one medium leek
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • a pinch nutmeg or curry powder
Halve the squash and scoop out the seeds. Bake at 400 degrees until the squash are very soft, about 35-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the milk over low heat in a large saucepan. Clean the leek thoroughly and slice it thinly (compost the tough upper portions of the leaves, the tender green parts are fine though). When the milk is not quite simmering, add the sliced leek. Let it cook, without simmering, until the leeks are tender, about 20 minutes.

When the squash and leeks are both tender, scoop the squash flesh into the leeks and milk. Add salt and nutmeg and puree the mixture until it is smooth.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 15: The End is Near

The farmers markets are pretty much over for the season, but the CSA continues for two more weeks (including this one). This is the time of year that members start saying "So this is the last one, right?" at pick-up, but this is when the real fun starts.

It's Jumbo share time.

This week's share will include: Two Honey Bear Acorn Squash, One Pie Pumpkin, Four Pounds of Potatoes, Five Pounds of Carrots, Two Pounds of Beets, Two Stalks of Brussels Sprouts, One Bunch of Hakurei or Baby Pac Choi, and Rutabaga or Celeriac.

It might be a little heavy.

The pumpkins we're distributing this week are those pictured in the upper right corner
of this photo. In the foreground are long pie pumpkins. You might have seen some
photos of these when we were harvesting, they were almost solid green like giant
zucchinis. They become more pumpkiny in storage. In a few more months they
should all be more or less solid orange.

Don't worry, you don't have to eat the whole share in just one week. The carrots and beets will store nicely in their bags in the fridge (especially the beets). The squash will keep for at least a month on the counter. I suggest hanging on to the pumpkin until Halloween is through, then roasting, mashing, and freezing it for Thanksgiving (see the recipe below). It might not keep all the way until Thanksgiving on the counter, but mashed pumpkin freezes beautifully. Brussels sprouts will keep for a couple weeks in the fridge, just remove any discolored leaves (but leave the sprouts on the stalks) and make sure they are in the crisper or otherwise ensure they will have adequate humidity. The potatoes should keep as well as any potatoes at room temp, so long as they are dry (sometimes there is water or wet soil in the distribution bags, make sure you don't try to store them with that moisture) and away from light. The celeriac and hakurei will both keep for a few weeks in the fridge as well (the celeriac will keep much longer) as long as you remove the greens before storage. Eat those greens! Hakurei greens are great cooked or raw and celeriac greens are basically celery. You should probably eat your pac choi on the soon side :)

So now that you know how to store you items, how should you eat them? Below are two recipe ideas. The first is quick and easy, sauteed beets and carrots. The second is pumpkin custard. Mmmm...

Beets and Carrots

  • One pound combined beets and carrots. I like about 12 ounces beets and 4 ounces carrots, but you can do your own thing.
  • Approximately one teaspoon olive oil
  • One Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • One Tablespoon Honey
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • Salt to taste (about a half teaspoon)
Cut off the tops and tails of the beets and chop them into bite sized pieces. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over low/medium heat. Add the beets to the pan and allow them to cook, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes.

While the beets are doing their initial cooking, chop the carrots into one inch chunks (or smaller if you would prefer them to be very tender in the finished dish). 

Add the carrots, salt, and cinnamon to the pan and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

When the carrots and beets are as tender as you like them, stir in the honey and vinegar. Continue stirring until the beets and carrots are evenly coated.

Pumpkin Custard with Ricotta and Cream Cheese Swirls

The flour in this recipe is simply to soak up any excess moisture that might weep out of the custard as it bakes. If you are gluten free, feel free to omit it. Just know your custard might be a little weepy.

For the pumpkin custard:
  • One medium Pie Pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 12 ounces Heavy Cream (minus one tablespoon for the swirls)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • a pinch of salt
For the ricotta cream cheese swirls:
  • 1/2 cup (about a half a block) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Heavy Cream
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 Egg
To prepare the pumpkin custard, halve the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Roast the pumpkin at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour, or until it is very tender (turn the heat down to 350 if the surface starts to overbrown before the flesh is completely tender--you want to see some caramelization, but no burning). When the pumpkin is tender, scrape out the flesh and measure out one and a half cups, freeze the remainder for a future recipe.

Puree the pumpkin flesh with the maple syrup in a blender or food processor. Make sure it is very smooth.

Transfer the maple pumpkin puree to a mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Beat until ingredients are well combined.

To prepare the swirl mixture, cream together the two cheeses, sugar and heavy cream. When these ingredients are well combined beat in the vanilla and egg.

Pour the pumpkin custard into cake pans or a medium casserole dish (for me this recipe filled one nine inch round and one six inch heart cake pan), filling your chosen baking dish or dishes only about 2/3 of the way. Then add dollops of the swirl mixture and stir it into the custard gently, to form swirls like these:

Bake at 425 for 35 - 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the custard comes out clean.

Scoop the custard onto plates with a spoon to serve. 

A dollop of whipped cream on top would be lovely,
but this custard is already pleasantly rich and creamy all on its own.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 14: Green Tomatoes and Sprouts

It's that time of year again.

Harvest Fest happened at Algomah Acres.

And the tomato leaves have succumbed to frostbite. At least the leaves on the field tomatoes have.

(Sorry, no frost photo. Moonlit tomato leaves covered in ice crystals are both breathtakingly beautiful and difficult to capture with a camera.)

Which means this week's share includes Green Tomatoes, along with: Cabbage, Carrots, Apples, Spaghetti Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Potatoes.

It also means that we have spent our last few days digging carrots and potatoes.

Ignore all those lamb's quaters seed heads in the background
and just focus on the sea of carrots.
And our nights rescuing green tomatoes from the cold. 

So, instead of an original recipe this week (Even the CSA farmer gets too tired to cook sometimes. We've pretty much just been eating scrambled eggs and baked squash this week.) I'm offering you a greatest hits list of fall recipes from the past and pinterest recipes I think you should try. The focus is green tomatoes and Brussels sprouts, the two trickiest items in this week's share:

This post from 2011 (I've been doing this for longer than I think I have) features two of our favorite fall recipes. Spaghetti Squash with Two Sauces (which has become Scott's birthday dinner of choice) and roasted Brussels sprouts. Both have been mentioned every year for the last few years, and both are worth trying if you haven't yet.

For more Brussels sprouts ideas, check out the Brussels sprouts pinterest board.

I have two favorite green tomato posts. This one features fried green tomatoes, and this one features green tomato relish. I am still waiting for someone to point me towards a good green tomato pie recipe. 

There isn't one on my green tomato pinterest board. But maybe you'll find one.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 13: Thanks Belinda!

Belinda Mattfolk does many awesome things. Like making music and happy ponies.

She also trades art for vegetables.

You may have seen some of the photos she took of us at the farm earlier this summer when I posted them on facebook. If not, here is a peek:

My favorite from the summer shoot. When I have some time this winter
I plan to get this one all over the website.

Seda can't stay away from the lens. Really. My daughter is a diva.

We are missing Hailey the intern's hands now that she is back at school
for the year! We also miss the tender greens of early summer.

Walking the pea line.

She was back last Friday to do a bit of documenting while we dug potatoes (and to attempt to get a picture of me with my eyes open). I'm looking forward to seeing the results.

Even more exciting is the logo she is designing for Wintergreen Foods. She has been most patient with my vaguely specific requests (I'm pretty sure I asked her to create something with crayola jewel tones and a line engraving kind of feel. What does that even mean?) and the image she is putting together is beautiful. When you notice our products pop up in stores around town this fall, you can thank Belinda that they caught your eye.

Until then, enjoy your CSA share. It will include: Tomatoes, Potatoes, Spaghetti Squash, Apples, Carrots, Kale or Chard or Collards, Kohlrabi or Savoy Cabbage, and Watermelon or Muskmelon.

The melons made a valiant effort this cold year, and we made a valiant effort to harvest them at their peak. However, the muskmelons never actually seemed to peak this year. Like the watermelons, they are good, but not perfection. Perhaps next year will offer one of those elusive perfect U.P. melon years. 

I can't complain too much though. What the U.P. lacks in melon weather is made up sixfold in apple bounty.

I believe I have mentioned before that kohlrabi loves apples. As in this kohlrabi apple salad recipe I posted last year during summer kohlrabi season. But right now we are talking fall kohlrabi. It can be eaten raw (especially this year, the cold wet weather is kind to kohlrabi) but it really shines when it is cooked. Even in desserts.

Kohlrabi Apple Crisp

  • 6 small to medium apples, or 4 large apples
  • 1 large kohlrabi (or half of a truly gigantic one)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  • 1/4 cup salted butter (or unsalted butter plus a pinch salt), melted
  • 1/4 maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Core the apples and slice them thinly (1/4 inch or less). Peel the kohlrabi (I never recommend peeling things, so you know you should definitely peel this.) and slice it slightly thinner than the apple. 

Place a single layer of kohlrabi slices in a large baking dish. Cover that with a layer of apple slices. Sprinkle about a third of the cinnamon and sugar over the apples. Continue making layers, sprinkling 1/3 of the cinnamon and sugar over the apples, until you have three layers. Be sure to have an apple layer on top, the kohlrabi will dry out too much if it is on top during baking.

Combine the melted butter and maple syrup. Add the oats and stir until they are moist. Stir in the flour, adding it in portions until the mixture has just become dry and crumbly (This might take slightly more or less than 3/4 of a cup of flour for you. Don't worry, it's pretty hard to get crumb topping wrong).

Sprinkle the topping over the final layer of apples, so things look like this:

Bake for 50 minutes, or until the kohlrabi and apple are tender.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Week 12: A Full Rich Weekend

We had a full rich weekend.

A flat tire came and went with barely a shrug, sandwiched--as it was--between a dead truck, a stuck ignition cylinder, and a birthday party.

Plus, we've harvested a bit of produce here and there ;)

It was tough, but once again we have learned what community support really means. We couldn't have gotten through the weekend without members, friends, and family lending us rides, patience, and even cars. And, of course, celebrating with us.

Because this little farmer turned five. Today!
Now that the weekend is done, I am pretty tired. So I'm just going to let a few pictures of the main events speak more or less for themselves and then get down to business.

There was cake.
And cake eating.
As well as gift trying.
Some good grandparent gifts.
This happened.
That hairy guy is my dad.
And now to business.

The week 12 share will include Kale or Chard, Spaghetti Squash, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Celery, Carrots, Basil, Parsley and Watermelon.

It's watermelon time. We grew our standby variety, goldflower. It's a small, oblong, yellow fleshed watermelon. With the cool season we have had this year, their flavor isn't make-you-cry stupendous (like it can be under ideal conditions), but it is far from disappointing.

And yes, I did come up with a spaghetti squash alfredo recipe. I hope you like it.

Baked Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

This isn't a true alfredo sauce. It's just a white sauce with Parmesan. For more authentic flavor add some minced garlic just before you add the milk. Seda has been on an anti garlic kick and I bent to her will on the matter, seeing as it is her birthday today.
  • One medium spaghetti squash
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups milk
  • 5 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese, seperated
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped roughly (I told you it's versatile)
  • optional: chopped roma tomato
Preheat the Oven to 350 degrees

Halve the spaghetti squash and scoop out the seeds. Bake the squash in a 350 degree oven until it is tender, about 45 minutes to an hour.

While the squash is cooking, prepare the sauce.

Melt two tablespoons butter in a medium sauce pan. Carefully stir in the flour and nutmeg to make a smooth paste. A silicone spatula works nicely for this. Stir and cook until the mixture just begins to bubble. It should look something like this:

Add the milk, either in small batches, mixing each portion of milk in completely before adding the next, or--if you can enlist a second pair of hands--in a thin steady stream while stirring constantly.

Continue stirring over medium heat until the sauce has thickened and no longer tastes at all starchy. Stir in half of the grated Parmesan cheese and stir until it has melted (or mostly melted, a lot of Parmesan cheese doesn't actually melt completely). Stir in the chopped parsley and remove from the heat.

When the squash is tender remove it from the oven and loosen and fluff the flesh with a fork, but do not remove it from the skin of the squash. Be careful not to tear the skin as you do this. You will be using the squash skins as bowls to finish the dish. If you want to add tomato, mix it in with the squash now.

Pour half of the alfredo sauce over each squash half, being careful not to overflow the skins. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over top of the squash. Broil the squash halves until the sauce is boiling and the surface has begun to turn golden. For me this took about seven minutes.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Week 11: Nailed It

Remember last week when I told you our prediction for the first frost? We were right. The first frost struck on the 11th.

Squash leaf with frost damage.
Not to worry though, it was light. And we were ready. We harvested a lot of the frost sensitive crops, like Spaghetti Squash, before the 11th and we covered what wasn't yet ready for harvest.

See? Spaghetti Squash.
We expect more frost tonight or later this week so we have been more or less continuously harvesting tender crops all yesterday and today. That has meant picking a lot of cucumbers, summer squash, and...

dry beans.
We put in about 10 rows of dry beans this year as an experiment. We pulled the plants today to allow the pods to continue drying inside, away from potential frost damage. They are looking good so far. We may even have enough beans to give some to the winter members. Or maybe we'll just eat a lot of soup this winter.

So, though you won't see the dry beans in your share this week, you will see many of the other things we've been harvesting. The share will include: Tomatoes, Potatoes, Carrots, Celery, Spaghetti Squash, Parsley, Cucumbers, Summer Squash, and Brussels Sprout Tops.

I know I said there would be Brussels Sprout Tops last week, but I really mean it this time. I promise :)

I feel the need to address the topic of parsley this week. We're aware you have been receiving it frequently this year and we know it can sometimes be a challenge to use it. I like fresh Italian parsley because it has a lot of flavor, but it's flavor is quiet. It's like perfect background music. It compliments anything that can use a bright green flavor (and what can't?) without ever really overpowering a dish. If you're having trouble figuring out when to add parsley to things, try some of these suggestions:
  • Any time you are eating pasta, add parsley.
  • Add parsley to mashed potatoes during the mashing or to sauteed potatoes right at the end of cooking.
  • Really add chopped parsley to any sauteed vegetables at the end of cooking.
  • Browning ground beef? Add chopped parsley.
  • Parsley leaves are also a great addition to salads. Not just the leafy kind. They're good in egg salad, potato salad, tuna salad...
I think you probably get the idea now. Parsley is very versatile and that's why we've been giving it to you so frequently. I realize I probably should have addressed this earlier in the season. Hopefully the ideas don't come too late.

You can also use your parsley in this week's recipe. Which is for basic Spaghetti Squash.

Spaghetti Squash

Of all the winter squash we grow, Spaghetti Squash is the one that members tend to feel most ambivalent towards. I think this tendency probably stems from attempts to substitute the squash for actual spaghetti. Sometimes that substitution works really well (I'm toying around with the idea of a Spaghetti Squash Alfredo for next week's recipe) but sometimes it doesn't. If you aren't sure you like it, don't forgo it just yet. Get to know Spaghetti Squash for it's own slightly sweet, nutty, squashy self and eat pasta when you want to eat pasta.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Optional: Butter and Chopped Parsley
Wash any dirt off of your Spaghetti Squash and halve it lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. If you compost the innards you will likely get some sort of mystery squash growing out of your pile next year :)

Compost Mystery Squash
of the Year.
Bake your squash until it is so soft that the sides begin to collapse (you might have to squeeze them with tongs before you really see the collapse happen), 45 minutes to an hour depending on the size of your squash.

Cool the squash for about ten minutes, or until it is cool enough to handle.

Use a large spoon to scrape the flesh out into a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Also chopped parsley and butter if you are into those things.

Then shovel it into your face.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Week 10: Stuff It

A few years back (in this post from 2012) I pondered whether climate change had arrived and was the cause of our ever unpredictable weather. The weather continues to be impossible to predict and I continue to ponder those same questions.

The most pressing (to me) is: Will I ever see stable weather in my farming career? If so, I certainly hope it doesn't stabilize out to end up like it's been this year.

Normally, we are in week 12 or 13 by the second week of September. Normally, we see the first frost of the season in the second week of September. Well, it is only week 10 this year (thanks to the especially late spring), but we are still expecting to see the first frost this week.

Based on the forecast, we predict our first frost will come the night of the 11th or 12th. Unless it's cloudy those nights, then we might squeak through this week without a frost.

And now you know all the secret innermost thoughts of a vegetable farmer.

We are already preparing for the frost by harvesting the winter squash that is ready to harvest, and covering the squash that needs a few more weeks on the plants.

So far we have brought in the Eastern Rise and a few Nutty Delica.

Next on the agenda are two kinds of acorns, the spaghetti
squash and these gorgeous sweet dumplings.
But the winter squash won't be in the shares quite yet. They need to cure for a few weeks after they are harvested to sweeten up. Some of the varieties won't reach peak flavor until January. Those are destined for the winter shares.

What will be in the shares this week is the following: 2 lbs potatoes, 1/2 pound snow peas, Chard and/or Brussels Sprout tops, Cabbage or Kohlrabi, French Breakfast Radishes or Daikon, Cucumbers, Scallions, Parsley, Tomatoes (or Peppers or Eggplant) and Zucchini or Summer Squash.

The summer squash has been a bit stressed due to all the rain we have been having this year. Stressed squash plants means fewer large fruits. Happy squash make many fruits, for lots of seeds. Stressed plants don't, they put all of their energy into producing seed quickly rather than making several fruits

So, most of you will be getting great big summer squash or zucchini this week. Maybe even a few, if you want them.

What should you do with a giant summer squash? Stuff it.

Stuffed Summer Squash

I decided to make the recipe vegetarian this week, but if you would rather make it meaty you can. Just omit the lentils and cook the rice by itself. Brown some ground beef or lamb with the spices, parsley, and tomato. Then combine the meat, rice, squash innards and remaining tomato/parsley for your filling.
  • One large zucchini or summer squash
  • One cup brown lentils
  • Half cup brown rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp plus 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp plus 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bunch parsley, separated
  • 1 pound tomatoes (two medium or four small), separated
Preheat oven to 350

In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils, rice, garlic, 3/4 tsp salt and 3/4 tsp cinnamon. Roughly chop half the parsley and half the tomatoes (hang on to the unchopped halves for later in the recipe). Add the chopped parsley and tomatoes to the lentils along with 2 1/2 cups of water.

Bring the lentil mixture to a boil. Once it is boiling, cover the pot and turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer until the lentils and rice are tender, approximately 45 minutes. Check the pot for liquid after about 30 minutes of cooking. Add more water if necessary.

Meanwhile, prepare the squash by slicing it in half lengthwise and hollowing out the seed cavities (an ice cream scoop works nicely for this). Sprinkle the remaining salt and cinnamon over the squash.

Like this.
Bake the squash at 350 degrees until it is tender, but still holds it's shape. This will take 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the squash.

While the squash is baking, roughly chop the innards you scooped out of it as well as the remaining tomatoes and parsley.

When the lentils and rice are tender stir the raw chopped squash, tomatoes, and parsley into the hot lentil mixture. Then spoon the filling into the baked squash. 

Like this.
There will be more filling than you need (in fact, this recipe probably makes enough filling for two big squash).