Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Glorious! Three cheers for the NY Times for these fantastic, simple, quick, fresh, spotlight-on-seasonal, high-quality produce recipes!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Week 6

The past two weeks have started to really feel like summer, and three cheers for that! The last of the spring chickens were harvested today (THANK YOU Ellen, Bill, Anna, Jamie, Renee, Alex, and Sophia!), the first new potatoes were dug for Sunday's market, the pickle-putting up has begun, peppers are sizing up nicely, green and purple beans are harvestable, and the cukes and zukes are out to get me with a (growing) vengeance. Hooray!

Tomorrow will find you with two more fresh chickens ready for the oven or freezer, and I truly hope that you're enjoying the birds. It is a great joy to me to have had such great helpers in keeping the processing times quick and lively, and I am very pleased with how the entire process turned out. Both chicken harvest days have been exhausting, gratifying, and thoroughly educational-- there has been a lot of knowledge sharing that to me, is the heart of the matter-- everyone helping out and pooling our collective resources for what I think, and I hope you agree, is a stellar product. There are many, many ways to turn a chicken into Chicken, and I think our way is in tune with respecting the life of the animals and the bounty they can provide. Putting the birds into a natural, trance-like state relaxes the birds' muscles, lowers the heart and breathing rates, and prevents the panic-release of stress hormones into the meat. Hand plucking feathers is sometimes tedious and slow, but on this scale, "slow" is an opportunity to notice the different sections of skin, the different directions to pick feathers from, the development of more down and hair (as this week's set proved) and a handful of other nuances and small notable moments to think on. Yes, it's slow and takes a significant amount of time per bird, and yes, I've been incredibly lucky to have let this become a part of my daily life-- but to me it is that significance, those opportunities to recognize the chaos and beauty, and then the inherent appreciation that are critical, missing links in our current mainstream food system. I believe that these things matter. So, with all that Ado, it's my honor to provide your weekly shares, and these chickens, with the help of several fearless, kind souls with trusty hands. I'm raising my glass to you, Cheers!

Here's one of my all-time favorite poems, in honor of the furious outpouring of growth, beauty, and production we call summer. Go ahead and read it aloud for its phenomenal rhythms!

From Blossoms - By Li-Young Lee

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Week 4

July 17, 2009 - Hi Members!

In your share this week:
Bag of salad mix
Cucumbers – slicing (smooth) and pickling (bumpy and small)
Summer squash
Squash blossoms
Baby leeks
flower bouquet!

I’m so happy that the flowers are coming along. It’s been a tough year for annuals, as the lack of sun and pounding thunderstorms melted down some of my transplants, BUT! they are coming along. And gosh, they’re pretty. To help them extend through the week, try to keep the water fresh. Calendula, for all its insect deterrence and pungence, does cloud up the water and shortens the vaselife (despite the fact that the secondary and sometimes tertiary flowers will still emerge into bloom.) To really stretch the bouquet, pinch the primary flower after the petals start to roll into themselves and die, swap in fresh water, and trim a quarter inch or so off the bottom of the stems. Just as we do, flowers drink more on hot days!

Please remember to return any baskets, wooden crates, or pint/quart containers this week.

And… here’s the really good news:

This past Tuesday marked seven weeks for our chickens, and as you’ve probably noticed, they’ve grown up to be healthy, robust, and enormous! I processed four yesterday as a test run, and to make sure they were going to be ready. Turns out, yup. The average weight of the dressed birds came out to be 5.55 pounds, which is huge. I had selected some of the bigger guys, and there will be some smaller birds, but expect the average weight of your four birds to be around 5 pounds.

I will harvest more on Monday so that everyone can pick up two of their birds this Tuesday. If you’re not heading straight home, bring a cooler. These chickens are exceptionally flavorful and juicy—and thanks to being finished out with corn and soy scratch mix, have a pretty thick, fatty skin. This makes for a great, juicy coating for roasting or deep frying, but if you’d prefer a leaner option, I’d be happy to skin your birds for you. Also, for anyone who is interested in making stock, stuffing, or dog treats, I’ll keep giblets, necks and feet. Birds are whole, and I’ll provide a photocopy of instructions on how to procure cuts like you’d see wrapped in Saran wrap in the grocery store on Tuesday. If anyone is interested in learning to harvest chickens, and wants to help, please let me know.

If you’re interested in purchasing more than your allotted four birds, they will be available for sale for members at $4.00/lb and for non CSA members at $4.25/lb.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Week 3

As the sunshine pours through the window, it’s hard to believe that three days ago it was pouring rain for the umpteenth consecutive day. But, it looks like we might be in luck for the rest of the week, which is good news for the green tomatoes and mini pattypan!

This week’s share includes:

Head lettuce (Romaine/Cos)
Colorful salad mix
Sugar snap peas
Summer squash
Squash blossoms

New this week:
Super sweet pencil leeks
Cucumbers! – slicing and gerkin pickling
Beets - red and chiogga (fuschia on the outside, pink and white striped inside)

I’m ecstatic about the cukes. This week there are two varieties – picklers and a Middle Eastern “Beit-Alpha” type. Here’s what Fedco Seeds has to say about this family of cukes: “Descended from a vegetable that grows wild in the dry climate of the Middle East, the beit alpha was developed by breeders on an Israeli kibbutz. These small sweet-fleshed cucumbers were originally popular in the Mediterranean, spread to Europe and have now won converts in the States because they are almost completely burpless and have a long shelf life.” These buddies lack the bitterness found in English cukes, and I find them to be far crisper than their Anglo cousins. Hooray for summer!

Broccoli is finally here, and very sweet thanks to the chilly and wet June. Pencil leeks are simply leeks harvested while still young and tender; I am guilty of eating them raw in the field, as they’re candy-sweet almost all the way to the tops of the greens. The beets are a bit of an experiment to see whether or not they really are transplantable in multi-plant seedblocks. Turns out... sort of. Transplanting in bunches seems great for an early season crop, but you'll notice they're a bit on the small side, and some show the effects of crowding. The next set will be more round, promise.

The broilers at six weeks are sizing up nicely, and I’m anticipating a first round of harvest within the week. They're on to a 60/40, broiler mix/scratch grain diet to help fatten them up and boost the flavor profile; all the feed they've been given is organic (which prohibits the use of antibiotics) and supplied by Green Mountain Feeds based in Bethel, VT. I’ll let you know when the freezer starts to fill, and we’ll dole them out.

Braised Radish, Scape, and Kale
prep 10 minutes, cooking 5 minutes

1 bunch radishes, sliced in chunky rounds
5 garlic scapes, chopped in 1” lengths
handful of kale, deribbed and chopped coarsely
2 tablespoons butter
good dash of red wine
fennel greens scissored, or tarragon
salt and pepper to taste
chopped green onion or pencil leeks
Over medium heat, saute scapes and chunks of radish in butter until they begin to become tender; add kale and cover to steam for a minute or two. Uncover and dash red wine into the mix, scissor fennel or tarragon, and add salt and coarse cracked pepper to taste. Toss well. Serve hot with green onion or pencil leeks chopped on top.

Simple Kale Salad
prep 15 minutes

1 large bunch kale, deribbed and chopped
½ C tamari almonds

1/4 C maple syrup
1/3 C sesame oil
1/3 C rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 knot ginger root, grated

This salad is simple, fast, versatile, and has been known to make some kale converts out there. It’s good fresh, but awesome for lunch the next day, as the dressing helps to tenderize and sweeten even hot summer kale. The dressing will keep for a few weeks covered in the fridge.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Quick note on onion storage

This is a tip taken from a quirky little staple-bound book given to me as a gift from fellow-farmer Gentiana, called "1000 Expert Tips For Gardeners". Or something along those lines. I think it was a gag gift, but this one works and has stuck with me--

When you're cooking and only partially using an onion, chop what you need from the greens end (as opposed to the bulb end) first. The onion will keep much, much better than if you leave the top end. This goes for scallions, leeks, baby cippolinis... any of those good old allium family jewels.

Why, you ask? I can't help myself, either. Based from my understanding of biologic/botanic/physiological principles (that means I'm guessing...) it makes sense that more sugars (energy) would be stored at the base of the bulb, thereby rendering the plant (yes, it's still alive, even when sliced in half and in the darkness of your fridge!) more able to "heal" its wound, or localize the damage done to the plant tissues after having been chopped. While the green part of the onion is above ground, revelling in the glory of the sun and photosynthesizing the days away, the bulb is is the proverbial root cellar. The resulting sugar from photosynthesis, glucose, travels back down to the base of the bulb for safekeeping where the tissues are designed for storage, as opposed to absorption (roots), transport (stalks), energy production (chlorophyll-filled green parts), and respiration (greens, in the allium family's case.) As gravity and efficiency would have it, the storage begins at the base; if we're working with the root cellar idea here, it would be like stacking jars of pickles put up from the summer. You can't float jars of pickles in mid-air in the cellar, which even if you could you'd have to duck around and beneath to get to the floor if your goal was to fill the entire cellar. So, you start from the ground up.

Be this explanation satisfactory or not, the tip does work. Good luck and enjoy those cippolinis!