Community Supported Agriculture
I would just like to continue to encourage all of you to get involved with supporting your small, local, organic farmers through participation in community supported agriculture. If you buy a "share," you'll not only receive a box full of locally harvested in-season fresh organic bits of heaven (weekly), but your farmer--like our Farmer Vicki--may also send you weekly updates about the farm that make you want to quit your job and run away to join the farm! Read the email that I awoke to yesterday below with Vicki's lovely description of life on the farm, the contents of our first spring box, and her suggestions and recipes for using these first vegetables:
"I awoke this morning to a storm rolling through. The wind was whipping and the rain was pounding. The wind has continued blowing and gusting, but the rain is gone for now. We have managed to get out to start preparing the field for planting, but I really wanted some rain first. The first things we plant are slow to grow or slow to germinate, so disking out one flush of weeds before planting makes our lives lots easier. What we want are some warm days and a few rains. The weed seeds then come to life anxious to greet a new year. This first germination is called a flush. Other flushes happen during other seasons also, but this first one is crucial to get on top of. So, now that is has rained (and I hear we are getting more), I will start going out into the field to dig down just a bit to see if I can see little tiny plants germinating. I am looking for the white root stage, when the root is tender and white and has but just a teeny little sprout of a leaf. That is the ideal time to disk the field to kill them off. The weather does not always permit our getting out there at the right time, but as long as we can get them dealt with prior to them growing to a half inch. Any weed taller than a half inch is much more difficult to kill as they often have a tap root that will resprout. So, here's hoping that we get the conditions we are looking for.
The hoop houses are looking fine and I am very happy with their growth. I anticipate many item being ready for our next boxes, but do not want to pick too much yet. Be prepared for greens next week. We do save veggies over the winter to start the year, so we are good to go.
Please be sure to save your box each week to return for reuse. Our larger drop off sites will have a green lug available for your box to be stored in until we pick it up. The box should be flattened, which is very easy. Turn your box upside down. Place your fingers on both edges of the box where they almost touch each other. Apply downward and outward pressure toward the outside edge. The box flap will fold in half on each end to slide out of the flaps that hold it together. If you pull up on the flaps, the box will rip and will not be able to be reused.
Cabbage - Cabbage is one of the super foods and also one that I love. I like to cook a lamb sausage with carrots and onions until the carrot is almost tender. Then I add chopped cabbage at the end and toss until tender. A spicy sausage is excellent. And, my cole slaw recipe: grate cabbage, a small onion (to taste), two carrots together. Then add a scoop of salad dressing or mayonnaise and a tablespoon or maybe a bit more. Toss together. It will seem dry at first, but place in fridge and let it sit for a couple hours and the cabbage will begin to weep. Stir again and it is ready to serve. The carrot does give it a touch of orange color, so if that is unappealing, cut back on the amount of carrot you use.
Celeriac - This funny looking veggie is a relative of celery and tastes like a mild fresh celery. I like to steam it with carrots and turnips as a side dish. But, it is also great grated and used in a salad. Many of the chefs I know steam it and then puree it to make a delicious cream sauce.
Tatsoi - a small Asian green that tastes a bit like mild spinach. It can be cooked, but I usually eat it raw in a salad. You can save the stems to chop into a soup or stir fry or roasted veggies. They are also great in a smoothy or in juicing.
Corn meal - this is from Three Sisters. They do not grow or process and wheat in their facility.
Dried Cayenne - just crunch them up to use in cooking or as a spice. They will keep for a long time. Cayenne is said to purify the blood.
Come on, you guys! Doesn't this look great?! The contents of our first spring box . . . Invest now!
. . . . and . . . the first dish made from our first spring farm box from Farmer Vicki . . . a vegetarian borscht! . . .
namsate from the Midwest,
want to share the recipe?
farm box recipes
Certainly! I borrowed it from the New York Times:
Included in our farm box were a number of celeriac bulbs (a.k.a. celery root), which is a local Midwestern spring (and maybe fall, too?) vegetable. It has been a new experience for me to cook with these fellas, but thankfully, I've got a cookbook printed in Madison, WI, and designed for eating fresh and locally in the Midwest, that has an entire chapter on celeriac! How many cookbooks can boast earning that stripe? So far, I've made a lovely potato/celeriac soup and a scrumptious potato/celeriac/blue cheese salad. It seems that this vegetable is best in the supporting role (usually of a potato) rather than the lead, but I could be wrong?
If any of you have recipes or suggestions on the use of the humble (and if you've ever seen one of these jobbies, you know why I say "humble") celeriac, I would absolutely love to have them! I am attaching a photo of what my sister-in-law has done with her celeriac so far since we shared one of ours with her. LOL!
namaste from the soggy midwest,
You will not regret the day you make these beet burgers with your seasonal, locally grown beet crop!
enjoy and you are welcome! :-)
Namaste from the still soggy Midwest,
Message from Farmer Vicki
I just have to keep sharing Farmer Vicki's lovely e-mails and updates on the farm, the communal struggle against Monsanto, the contents of our boxes, and recipes (including those beet burgers!) in hopes that she will inspire you to join your local farm in a community supported agriculture program. From Farmer Vicki:
"It seems that with rain it is feast or famine. We got less than most of you, for which I am thankful. But, even so, we are really wet. I anticipate drying out fairly fast as long as we don't get more rain this week. The soil temperatures are still fairly cool, and that holds up our planting as much as the soil moisture. At this point we are desperate to plant out. We got some seeds planted just before it rained, but no transplants have gone in yet. What we run into is that there is no greenhouse space for new seedling trays. At this time all our tomatoes are being seeded into trays and time is of the essence. But, the reality is that as farmers, we are at the mercy of Mother Nature.
Last year we were close to picking asparagus at this time. This year none has even sprouted from the ground. I keep going out and looking at the patch, but no spears. Perhaps this week. I am like a little kid at Christmas. I just can't wait for plants to sprout up. Today I hope to walk into the field to check on the seeds we planted. They may have been washed away, but they may also be sprouting. Spouting is what I hope for.
I am anticipating a fruitful year since last year was a drought year. Mother Nature tends to balance herself. Last year it was 20 degrees above normal. This year it is 20 degrees below normal. Last year, the plants produced less fruit due to lack of water. This year they will try to make up for that loss. This is especially true with perennial crops - trees, bushes, etc. There are a certain number of seeds they want to produce to guarantee their survival. Since they could not produce last year, they will go goofy this year. I suppose that is why they are predicting a worse than normal allergy season.
Below is a copy of an email I received on the Monsanto Act and how it may impact individual states. It will take a lot of public pressure to keep Monsanto in line. They are truly a threat to agriculture in its finest form.
Also, I have a couple of recipes at the end of this note.
Mint - try a mohito (non alcoholic mohitos are great, also), or mint iced tea or mint lemonade. If you are a chocolate fan, try mint brownies.
Panisse lettuce - this is a soft and tender lettuce that I grow in the hoop houses. It does not do as good for me outside in the wind.
Bekana - this is an Asian green that is tender and sweet. I often chop it raw for a salad, and found a recipe for a bekana salad on line at allrecipes.com. I am pasting it below. Generally, I just chop up my greens and use whatever I have to make salads. But, it is also great as a cooked green. Try lightly sauteing it with your garlic.
Black Beans from Three Sisters - perhaps save them for next CSA since I will be sending you kale and I have a great recipe for black bean and kale soup.
Jam - Dobra from Delightful Pastries made this for us. This is a mixed berry jam.
Beets - this is a link for a beet burger recipe - http://www.theppk.com/2012/02/quart...er-beet-burger/).
Celeriac - I did not intend to use these three crops again this week, but a couple other crops are not ready, so I used them.
P.S. My new blog will be up and running this week. I will send out the information when I am live.
These are from www.allrecipes.com. I find they have many great recipes to choose from.
Spicy Bok Choy in Garlic Sauce
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Ready In: 30 Minutes
1 pound bok choy
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Trim off the ends of the bok choy and chop, keeping the white parts separate from the green as they will need to cook longer. Rinse and spin or pat dry. Set aside.
In a small bowl or cup, stir together the vegetable oil and sesame oil. In a separate larger bowl, stir together the water, ginger, garlic, oyster sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar and red pepper flakes. Set this aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the bok choy stems first; stir fry for a few minutes or until the pieces start to turn a pale green. When stems are almost cooked, add the leaves; cook and stir until leaves are wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer the bok choy to a serving dish. Pour the sauce into the skillet or wok, and set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce has thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Pour over the bok choy and toss lightly to coat.
Spicy Bok Choy Slaw
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
"A hot, spicy, and colorful slaw is based on shredded bok choy, cucumber, and carrots, then spiked with hot cherry peppers and tossed with a sweet and tangy mustard and jalapeno dressing. Roasted ground ginger and freshly cracked pepper are sprinkled on before serving. Great for those who love spicy foods. "
1 head bok choy, finely shredded
1 cucumber, seeded and finely shredded
3 carrots, peeled and finely shredded
5 hot cherry peppers, seeded and finely
5 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup coarse-grain brown mustard
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons agave syrup
1/8 teaspoon roasted ground ginger
freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Place the shredded bok choy, cucumber, carrots, and cherry peppers into a large salad bowl. Place the jalapeno peppers into the work bowl of a food processor, then pour in the apple cider vinegar, brown mustard, soy sauce, and agave syrup. Pulse several times, then process for a few seconds to combine. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss. Refrigerate from 1 hour to overnight. Before serving, sprinkle with roasted ginger and black pepper; toss again to serve.
2 T sesame oil
2 T sesame seeds
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 small pieces of chopped ginger
Mounds of Tokyo Bekana
2 T gluten-free soy sauce
1 T brown rice vinegar
1. In a wok, warm the sesame oil on medium heat. Add the sesame seeds and stir until you are overwhelmed with the nutty fragrance, the seeds darken, and you wish you had a spring roll.
2. Add the garlic and ginger, but watch out! (The sesame seeds freaked out and flew out of the pan in all directions when I added the garlic and ginger. This was quite a surprise to me, but I persevered through the stings, and I stirred, yelped, and danced in front of the stove. All the while, Marcy watched.)
3. After a minute, add greens by the handful, cooking them down. In 3-5 minutes they will still be a beautiful, light, spring green, and the stems should still be crunchy.
4. Serve the greens with plain quinoa. The nutty taste compliments the Asian flavor of the greens. Drizzle with leftover saute sauce
From: "Food Democracy Now! Team" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Vicki Westerhoff" <email@example.com>
Sent: Thursday, April 18, 2013 2:08:18 PM
Subject: Monsanto Protection Act is spreading
Stop Monsanto latest sneak attack on our democratic rights!
Please contribute what you can today to help us Grow the Movement!
Build the movement to stop the Monsanto Protection Act - It's time to fight back!
8373 E 3000 S Rd
St Anne, Il 60964
815 953 1512
Beet cake? Yes, I said yes!
You say you have pounds and pounds of locally grown seasonal spring beets with which you've nothing to do? Well, do I have a simple recipe for you! Beet chocolate cake! Now I'm not usually a big sweets fan, but this is a delightful way to use 3 cups of shredded beets. The result is a light brownie that is crispy on the outside and perfectly moist on the inside (like a carrot cake texture).
Now...do you want the recipe?
Two hands together from the peaceful Midwest,
"...and yes I said yes I will Yes."
Recipe - yes - oui - jawohl - si - all of the above.
What could go better with beets than chocolate and butter?
Well, maybe, chocolate, butter, and BACON! ;-)
Beet Chocolate Cake
Wow . . . so sorry for the delay on this! I just got into the flow of life and kept swimming there for a while . . .
Beet Chocolate Cake (from Zephyr Community Farm)
* I'd try to use non-GMO sugar, flour, oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3-4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup oil
3 cups shredded beets
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 9-ince cake pans (I used a 9x13 sheet cake pan). Whisk dry ingredients together. Melt chocolate very slowly over low heat (or use a double boiler). Cool chocolate; blend thoroughly with eggs and oil. Combine flour mixture with chocolate mixture, alternating with beets. Pour into pan(s). Bake until fork can be removed from center cleanly, 40-50 minutes.
The result is a light inner texture and a slightly crisp outside (haha! I just realized this could be a description of my personality!). Even our 16 year old ate some and enjoyed it!
Namaste from the sunny Midwest!
Better than chocolate!
I found something better--in my opinion--to do with beets than add them to chocolate (or bacon, Rob Kendall!)...In the June 2013 issue of Vegetarian Times (p. 55), there is a recipe called Beet and Lentil Hummus, and it is delightful! I'm attaching a photo, also, of the batch I made.
Here is the recipe (I tweaked it a bit and have indicated those tweaks with an *):
1/2 cup black beluga lentils, rinsed and soaked overnight (* I used regular brown lentils)
2 medium beets, peeled and cut into chunks
1 clove of garlic (* I used 2)
2 Tbs. tahini paste
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 tsp. sea salt
A good dose of favorite hot sauce (* my addition)
1. Drain and rinse soaked lentils. Bring lentils, beets, and 1 cup water to a boil in medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until all water is absorbed.
2. Drop garlic into food processor while running to finely chop. Add tahini, oil, lemon juice, zest, salt, and hot sauce (if using); process until creamy. Add lentils and beets, and blend on high until smooth. Season to taste.
Namaste from the Midwest,
It has been a while since I've posted an update from Farmer Vicki. The summer fruits and veggies are starting to really flourish! Hopefully, it might inspire some of you to join a CSA near you next year. At the end of this update, I am also including a link to Vicki's blog (new for her this year!):
We have had some nice weather both for ripening crops and for us to work. It is sunny and with a cool breeze blowing we are generally pretty comfortable. So, the crops are doing good, although I am still waiting on tomatoes to get going good so I have enough for everyone. And, then there are the watermelons I hope to send to you. I don't grow them, but my cousin is so nice to grow them for us. To date not one is ripe, but let us hope that before the end of August we will have a ripe juicy and sweet watermelon.
I told you I was sending you more beans this week. We did pick them, but they did not fit in the boxes with all the other things I sent you way, so since beans will hold, they can wait in the cooler till next week.
Peaches - half are from Seedling and half are from Hillside Orchards
Blueberries - these are from Seedling
Pickles - these are really tasty
Fairy Tale eggplant
Copra Spanish onion - two of our members came down last week and helped us harvest these onions
Green Bell pepper
Jalapeno peppers - the smaller, smooth and oblong peps
Basil - lemon or sweet
St Anne, Il
Latest update from Farmer Vicki
Here's the latest report from the (organic, non-GMO, and all around good karma) Illinois Farm! Enjoy and get involved and join a CSA!
Namaste from the Midwest, steph
Last night I went out for my nightly stroll through the fields (having to go out earlier each week because of the earlier sunsets) and beheld a truly wonderful sunset. Clouds lined the western horizon - a beautiful display in itself - but these clouds had a scarlet lining with the sun blazing its downward descent behind them. I could not help but gaze out at the glory of these clouds. How often I am impressed with nature's splendor here on the farm. But, so easily I could have missed this wonder had I chosen not to go on my stroll. At last I continued on and rounded the corner of the field. There among the weeds (yep, I have weeds) were dozens of cabbage butterflies flitting about. So carefree and gentle. A few feet further along the field was graced with dozens of another very small gold butterfly or moth. THese guys seemed to like the eggplant, while the cabbage butterflies liked the cauliflower. I continued along and soon came upon even tinier butterflies of the prettiest blue. They seemed to like the cucumbers. I began to ponder all of nature's diversity and how each crop has insects that like it and how that is all part of nature's perfect balance. And, then I thought about a friend who is a conventional farmer who once bragged to me that his field is sterile and you would not find an insect in all his acres. How very sad to eliminate all of nature's bounty. I will take a non-sterile field any day - and the nightly walks I take to enjoy it all.
Red potatoes - these were raised by my friend, Lowell Ioeger - I did try out some Yukon Gold this year but they are not quite ready.
Tomatoes and cherry tomato mix - watch your cherry tomatoes as the rain made them a little soft.
Plums - some of these are a little soft so refrigerate and eat quickly
Apples - from Hillside Orchards
Rainbow bell peppers - these are so pretty
Green beans - I finally am getting a harvest. It took three plantings to finally get one that survived the spring rains
St Anne, Il
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