Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chickens, Round One

Our first batch of chickens will be ready for pick up on THURSDAY, August 5, anytime after noon.

Youur birds will be fresh on Thursday. If you'd like to freeze your birds in sections or halves, please be sure to pick them up fresh so you can divide them before they're solid.

The second harvest will be approximately three weeks after Thursday. If you'd like to order additional birds, or are not a member of the CSA, please contact me to reserve a bird at $4.25/lb (birds average 5-6 lbs each.)

Winner, winner-- Chicken dinner!

Week 6 CSA

Hi there,

Another week of incredible conditions-- warm sun, a little rain, and happy, happy plants.

This week's share includes the following items:
bunch small beets
bunch of baby rainbow swiss chard
pint of sugar snap peas
lettuce mix
cippolini onions
summer squash
cucumbers: English (dark, thick skins) and Persian slicing (thin skins, lots of crunch, super sweet), and picklers (shorter, warty)
bunch cilantro

Cippolini onions are a smaller, flatter variety of onions, that once they harden off at the end of the season will be disc-shaped. They have a mild, sweet flavor, and are ideal for using fresh as a garnish on salads, or chopped in cold salads. You can also use the greens like scallions.

I'm debating throwing in the towel on all other crops but cucumbers. They get me every time. I hope you're enjoying them, too! Who's in for a cucumber CSA?

Here's a recipe from my neighbor at the Dorset Farmer's Market, Robert, of Ana's Empanadas. Robert worked for years as a chef in New York, and now helps create and craft the delicious, oven-baked treats available at market. Slow markets mean lots of recipe swapping and chatting, and Robert has a million great ideas. Here's one...

Skillet-roasted Summer Squash with Mint

summer squash, sliced into rounds
olive oil
large handful fresh mint
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet on med-high heat, warm oil to just before it begins to smoke. Add summer squash discs and sautee until the squash is slightly charred. Squash will shrink in size as cooking, so prep a lot! Remove from skillet, drain squash on a paper towel if desired, and let cool slightly, until squash is warm-to-cool, but not hot. While squash is cooling, chop lots of mint ("gobs", as he put it,) and then toss together until well-coated in oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Week 5 CSA


This past week has been a busy one for the garden-- the break in the heat has made all the difference, and the onions, squash, and cucumbers are really loving the scattered showers. Pickling cucumbers, and my absolute favorite garden harvest, a Middle Eastern cucumber variety (beit alpha type), are here, and will be happily making their debuts in your share. I've been looking for recipes for the cukes when I'm inside, then heading out to the garden only to realize that they never make it back inside to be prepared... Snack attack central.

Jeff and I have been making a lot of pizza-- the summer squash pairs beautifully with chevre and dill, and I think that'd be a great, simple appetizer...

Summer Squash Rounds

summer squash
olive oil
dill, basil, thyme, mint... any fresh herbs!
pinch of coarse-ground cornmeal

Preheat oven to 425. Sprinkle a pinch of coarse-ground cornmeal on a baking sheet to keep squash from sticking. Slice summer squash on the bias (so you get oval discs), and arrange on a baking sheet. Spoon a dollop of chevre on each disc of squash, add a drizzle of olive oil, and garnish with a sprig of dill (thyme, basil). [If using mint, add garnish AFTER baking, as mint loses its potency when heated.] Bake for ten minutes and serve hot.

Also, I heard a great idea for salad dressing on the "Splendid Table" last week-- nice and simple, but with powerful, different flavors, and a nice thick texture:

Mint Garlic Dressing

handful of fresh mint
three cloves fresh garlic
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
4 tablespoons olive oil
cracked black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor, whir away, and dress greens. I made this when I had some raspberries on hand, and tossed them in, as well, for a little twist. A small cooked beet would add a similar twist-- or the dressing would be great on sliced, cooked beets, too!

In your share this week:
cucumbers- slicers and picklers
sugar snap peas
beet greens/baby beets
summer squash
baby scallions
bag of salad greens
dill, thyme, sage
sunflowers and echinacea

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Help with Chicks

Baby Chicks, Round II

Another one for a hot day. Our second batch of baby chicks are here, and loving the heat. As you may know, chicks get shipped through the good old USPS as soon as they are hatched-- and arrive 24-48 hours later at your doorstep.

Our chicks are a hybid cross of Cornish and Rock varieities, and are basically the industry standard for meat bird production, regardless of the scale of the operation. What differs dramatically is the treatment of the birds once they arrive on site-- our birds are brooded for as short a time inside, which is entirely weather dependent-- as you can see in the photos, our day-old chicks are outside already! For the first week of brooding, or baby-chick-raising, chicks need an average temperature of 95 degrees F. This is most often achieved (not during heat waves) by using heat lamps to help warm them up.

Once the birds start to develop feathers in addition to their chicky down, they're ready to move outside and stay out through the day- and nighttime. Once outside, they're placed in a 6x8' pen that is moved every 24 hours, so that the birds get the opportunity to forage a bit on fresh grass, as well as evenly distribute their natural fertilizer. How's that for farm euphemism?

It's incredible what a few weeks' difference can make. Here are some photos-- here's a chick at one day old:
And here's a side-by-side of the day-old chick and its three-week old counterpart. Same hatchery, same breed, feed, and process...

In another three to four weeks' time, the birds will be dressing out between 5.5-6.5 pounds each. Our first chicken harvest will be August 5, and members, friends, and anyone who's interested and willing to be trained is welcome to help process our birds, just let me know. CSA members will be able to pick up their birds fresh that afternoon. The next harvest will be roughly three weeks later; I'll keep you posted as soon as I set a date.

It's hot out there... inside, as per NWS guidelines, it is. The garden is LOVING the heat, and we're looking good for next week.

Here are some interesting takes on Braddock, Pennsylvania, an urban offshoot of Pittsburgh on the north shore of the Monongahela River. In the wake of the collapse of the steel mills in industrial Pittsburgh and a serious "brain drain" on the population, Braddock was literallly left behind. What separates this urb from many like it in Western PA is that an organized movement of people, artists, urban farmers, students, young families, and all them yinzers who've always been there are joining together to bring Braddock back.

Levi's is helping to sponsor some of the redevelopment, and are documenting their progress here:

Orion Magazine also wrote a feature on some of the personalities pushing the progress ahead:

It's incredible to see not just the push for urban agriculture, and not just the motivation of artists and working-class families to make a place for themselves, but that all of these people are working, together and in whatever ways they individually can, to reinstate the integrity of the place. There's hope.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Week 3 CSA

This week's share we'll be moving to Tuesday and we will continue to stick to Tuesdays through to the end of the season.

Your share includes a quart of sour cherries picked with help from some lovely assistants, Brian and Sarah, who were visiting from New York. Brian was and is an invaluable visitor to the farm last year, and a fellow farm apprentice from Gardenripe Farm in Silverton, OR. He and Sarah just closed up their first year as Teach for America service workers, and are due for some country time. Big thanks to them for their help! Also, major thanks to Jane and John for letting us in on the season.

Your cherries are from Hick's Orchard in Whitehall, NY. For those not familiar with sour cherries, these are a bit smaller and more tart (flavorful!) than your standard sweet cherries, and are great for jam, sauce, pie filling, and general purpose baking. The cherries should be rinsed and then pitted-- and then can be frozen, or turned into something delicious immediately. Here's a link to a handy contraption (unfolded paper clip) to help keep pitting neat. And here are some ideas about what to do with your cherries...

Jane's Dad's Cherry Sauce-- great with oatmeal, ice cream, or on top of Cherry Calfoutis (next recipe!)

4 - 5 cups of pitted cherries with their juice
4 tablespoons granulated (or instant) tapioca
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup honey

Mix the ingredients and let them sit for 15 minutes or so. Then heat up gently in a heavy saucepan until thickened and bubbling. Let cool. I added a squeeze of lemon juice because the cherries were not that tart. I also added a dash of vanilla.

Because blueberries were also starting to come on at Hick's, we added some bluebs to our sauce, as well.

Cherry Calfoutis (adapted from Earth to Table)

3 tablespoons ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
4 large eggs
grated zest of 1 lemon
grated zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 cup whipping cream (greater than 35% milkfat)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound pitted cherries

In a food processor, pulse together almonds, salt, sugar, flour. Add eggs, lemon and orange zest, cream, vanilla, and blend until smooth. Cover and let chill in fridge for a minimum of a half hour (I let mine sit overnight.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange cherries in the bottom of 6 ramekins or one 8" pie pan, and pour chilled mix over cherries. Bake for 35-40 minutes for ramekins, or an hour for round pan.

Instead of ramekins, I used cupcake liners for a simple one-serving setup, and baked them for approximately 35 minutes. Serve with ice cream and cherry sauce.

Any other good cherry recipes? Let me know!

Your share this week also includes:
Lettuce mix, snap peas, baby kale, broccoli rabe or summer squash, herbs (dill, sage), edible flowers (viola, calendula-- note, pull the petals from the centers and discard centers for eating.)


Week 2

Hi all, hope this note finds everyone staying cool... The thermometers are surpassing the 90 degree mark today, and whew... The garden, Burt, and I can feel every one of those degrees.

In your share last week, you received a mix of dried beans from last season (multicolored mix bag); you also received dried edamame (yellower, more rounded beans.) Both need soaking before they are cooked-- Edamame will cook faster (25-30 minutes) and the beans will be closer to 35-40 minutes.

Here's a super simple recipe for bean dip... Inspired by our CSA's own Jane and Koala the kitchen muse.

2 cups cooked beans, drained
3 tablespoons of the saved cooking juices from beans (use the rest for stock, gravy, etc.)
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
summer savory herbs - oregano, thyme, sage
salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and herbs. For a chunkier dip, leave a half cup of the beans out, mix all other ingredients, and then pulse in the remaining half cup at the end for more texture.

Edamame is traditionally eaten steamed in the pod, and served simply with a dash of salt; this edamame has been shelled, and is convenient for edamame salad, or cooked and added on top of a green salad for an extra protein boost.