Posts filed under ‘community supported agriculture’

winter csa share – week 10 {april 10}

winter csa share week 10

Welcome to the 10th week of the Pitchfork & Crow Winter CSA!

Here’s what’s in the share:

  • Garlic - This variety is called Chesnok Red, though smaller cloves than the Music variety we have been giving you, it’s flavorful and great for cooking.
  • Yellow Onions
  • Leeks
  • Arugula - Early spring arugula is delicate, with only a hint of the spiciness that comes with the heat of later months.
  • French Breakfast Radishes
  • German Butterball Potatoes
  • Rapini – Also called broccoli rabe, this is the broccoli-esque flowers of cabbage, Brussels sprouts, rutabaga, and collard plants gong to seed.  It’s delicious sauteed lightly.  We can’t get enough of it while it’s in season.
  • Spinach – More of the gorgeous spinach from the last share.
  • Dried Apples – We grew them, we dried them, we hope you like them
  • Crushed Red Pepper – Mature dried shishito peppers ground to an aromatic powder for flavoring anything and everything.  We added some to a potato leek soup recently and it was delicious!

pear blossoms

Over the last weeks we’ve been watching the orchards come to life.  The plums are always the first to flower, followed by the pears, cherry, and finally the apples.  We’ve been watching for pollinators as the various trees have begun to blossom but hadn’t noticed many around.  This past winter we lost the hive that had been abandoned here when we bought the farm.  Our guess is that the weather was too harsh for the colony to survive without more management.  Without an active hive on the farm, the honey bees seemed rather scarce.  We decided it was time to clean up our old hive and get some bees of our own.

bee one

This past weekend we picked up a pre-ordered package of Italian honeybees from Nectar Bee Supply in Corvallis.  The bees come enclosed in a wooden and mesh wire constructed box and the queen bee is enclosed in a smaller wooden cage that hangs inside the larger box.  Our cat wasn’t sure what to think of box of 7,000+ bees.

bees two

Introducing the bees to their new hive home is called “installing the package” and it entails the following:

  1. Spray the bees with sugar water to distract them with feeding and grooming.
  2. Thump the box of bees on the ground to make them drop to the bottom, away from the queen.
  3. Open the top of the box and pluck out the queen cage.  Re-cover the top to keep the bees inside.
  4. Remove a cork in one side of the queen cage and replace it with a marshmallow.  The worker bees will eat the marshmallow in a few hours in order to extract their queen from the cage.
  5. Hang the queen cage in the middle of the hive.
  6. Thump the box of bees again.
  7. Open the box and begin pouring the bees into the hive.
  8. Thump the box as needed to get as many bees out of the box as possible.
  9. Slowly push the bees inside the hive while sliding the hive lid into place.
  10. Stand back in awe of not having gotten stung during the process.

Those are the steps in short.  We still need more practice with the thumping and pouring steps, but all in all I think we did better than the last time we tried installing bees.  They seem happy enough in their new home and are already hard at work in the surrounding pear orchard.

tine weeder

We’ve been keeping busy of late trying to finish up some big projects before the planting/weeding/irrigating part of the season hits.  One project was the tine weeder Jeff is holding in the photo above.  Inspired by other local farms and their use of similar tools, Jeff drew up plans for a local shop to weld the frame and then attached the adjustable tines to the frame.  Our initial tests in the field with the tool proved promising, but we’ll have to wait for better soil conditions to really know how well it will work for us.

The current sunny weather gives us hope that we’ll be doing some major planting by the weekend.  We sure will be happier when the next round of transplants get planted out.  Until then we’re reveling in the amazing rapini and greens that are available on the farm and in the shares this week.  We hope you’re appreciating the change of the season too!

Enjoy the vegetables and we’ll see you in two weeks!

Your farmers,
Jeff Bramlett and Carri Heisler

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Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Arugula Pesto

  • 1/2 cup (2 oz/60 g) walnut pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups (2 oz/60 g) packed arugula leaves
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz/60 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

In a food processor, combine the walnuts, garlic, arugula, Parmesan, and 1 tsp salt and pulse to blend. With the machine running, pour in the olive oil through the food tube in a slow, steady stream and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

From Epicurious by Max and Elii Sussman, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Arugula-Pesto-51116200

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Spinach and Leek Gratin with Roquefort Crumb Topping

  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons horseradish Dijon mustard, divided
  • 2 1/3 cups fresh breadcrumbs from crustless French bread
  • 1 cup crumbled Roquefort cheese (generous 4 ounces)
  • 3 9-ounce bags spinach leaves
  • 1 8-ounce leek, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise (about 3 cups)
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 400°F. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Mix in 2 tablespoons mustard, then breadcrumbs. Sauté until breadcrumbs are golden, about 5 minutes. Cool briefly. Mix in cheese.

Toss 1 1/2 bags spinach in large nonstick pot over high heat until wilted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to sieve set over bowl. Repeat with remaining spinach. Press on spinach to drain.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in same pot over medium-high heat. Add leek; sauté 4 minutes. Add cream, remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard, and spinach. Toss until thick and blended, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to 7×11-inch baking dish. Top with breadcrumb mixture. Bake until bubbling, about 10 minutes.

From Epicurious via Bon Appétit, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Spinach-and-Leek-Gratin-with-Roquefort-Crumb-Topping-232888

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Broccoli Rabe and Provolone Grinders

White bean purée:

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini (white kidney) beans with liquid
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Sandwiches:

  • 4 bunches broccoli rabe (rapini, 4–5 pounds), ends trimmed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided, plus more
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 6″–8″-long French rolls, split lengthwise
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced provolone piccante or other aged provolone cheese
  • 1 Fresno chile or red jalapeño, seeded, very thinly sliced

For white bean purée:
Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat; add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring often, until garlic begins to turn golden, about 4 minutes. Add beans with liquid. Bring to a simmer; cook, stirring often, until liquid thickens, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a food processor; add 3 tablespoons oil. Process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

For sandwiches:
Cook broccoli rabe, 1 bunch at a time, in a large pot of boiling salted water for 2 minutes (return to a boil between batches). Transfer broccoli rabe to a baking sheet; let cool. Squeeze dry; coarsely chop.

Heat a large pot over medium heat; add 1/4 cup oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring often, until garlic is fragrant and beginning to turn golden, 2–3 minutes. Add broccoli rabe; cook, stirring often, until stem pieces are just tender, 4–5 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 cup oil and 3 tablespoons lemon juice. Season with salt, pepper, and more juice, if desired. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and let cool. DO AHEAD: Can be made one day ahead. Cover and chill.

Arrange racks in top and bottom thirds of oven; preheat to 400°F. Open rolls and arrange on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle generously with oil. Spread bean purée on one side of each roll; add broccoli rabe. Top with cheese, then chile. Toast, rotating pans after 5 minutes, until cheese is melted, 7–10 minutes. Top, slice, and serve.

From Epicurious via Bon Appétit, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Broccoli-Rabe-and-Provolone-Grinders-388710

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April 10, 2014 at 2:43 pm 1 comment

winter csa share – week 9 {march 27}

winter csa share week 9

Welcome to the 9th week of the Pitchfork & Crow Winter CSA!

Here’s what’s in the share:

  • Garlic
  • Yellow Onions
  • Small Leeks
  • Pea Shoots – Snip them and toss on top of quesadillas, sandwiches, pizza, or salads.
  • Carrots – These are overwintered and best for cooking.
  • Red Thumb Fingerling Potatoes
  • Cabbage and Collard Rapini w/ Collards – A bouquet of spring rapini and collards.  This rapini is the broccoli-esque flowers of cabbage and collard plants gong to seed.  It’s delicious sauteed lightly.
  • Spinach – We’re excited to share this overwintered spinach with you!  Jeff dug up and consolidated the survivors after last December’s big freeze and after some pampering on his part it might possibly be the best we’ve ever grown!
  • Delicata Winter Squash – the last of our winter squash for the winter.  We know they’re small, but enjoy them as we won’t see them again until fall!
  • Dried Apples – We grew them, we dried them, we hope you like them!

spring

Last week we passed the Spring Equinox, the official arrival of spring.  We’ve been seeing signs of spring here on the farm for some time like blossoming plum trees, blooming daffodils, and our rye grass cover crops growing taller every day.  These natural signs of the season’s change combined with a propagation house full of baby plants makes us optimistic for the upcoming growing season!

Last Saturday we welcomed Winter CSA members out to the farm for a tour and potluck.  We had a small but enthusiastic showing of folks and we’re thankful to those of you that made it out.  We always love inviting members to the farm, both for the tasty potluck goods and showing you all just what the farm looks like at different times of the year.  Although those that visited can attest to the fact that things look sparse out there, this week’s share is sporting spinach, leeks, rapini, collards, and carrots that all overwintered in the field!

lettuce

This past week we were lucky enough to have a sunny weather window that stretched out just long enough to work up some ground and get our first transplants of the year planted out. Salad mix, head lettuce, bok choy, and direct sown radishes are growing in the field and destined for your tables in May!

We also spent some time potting up our tomato starts from small cells to 3″ pots.  The germination on our tomatoes this year was really good and this may be the earliest we’ve ever been able to say we’ll have enough plants for the farm and, assuming all continues to go well, for summer CSA members to take a few home too.

spring garlic

During the dry weather we also took the opportunity to cultivate our garlic planting.  Keeping the weeds down this time of year goes a long way to having happy, healthy garlic later in the season.  We also used a fish fertilizer to foliar feed the garlic, giving it a little fertilizer boost as it starts to really get growing.  We’re thankful for our little Farmall Cub tractor that is invaluable in this type of work.  Hand hoeing five 250′ long beds isn’t our favorite task.

As we look to the work ahead, the season really seems to be ramping up.  We’re crossing our fingers for another weather window sometime soon.  Only time will tell.  In the meantime we have a partially constructed greenhouse to finish, continued seed sowing in the propagation house, and crops in the field to tend.

Enjoy the vegetables and we’ll see you in two weeks!

Your farmers,
Jeff Bramlett and Carri Heisler

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Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Rapini and Garlic

1 bunch rapini (washed and cut into 1 inch pieces)
3 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp. olive oil
~ salt
~ pepper
~ red pepper flakes (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add some salt and place rapini in pot. Blanch for about 2-3 minutes. Drain, then submerge rapini in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain again and set aside.
Heat the olive oil and garlic in a large saute pan over medium heat until the garlic begins to sizzle. Add red pepper flakes with garlic and oil if desired. Add rapini and turn heat up to medium-high. Stir rapini until heated through and coated with oil and garlic. Turn off heat, season to taste and serve.

From Culinate, via Eamon Molloy, http://www.culinate.com/user/eamonm/recipes/eamons_recipes/rapini_with_garlic

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Curried Potato Leek Soup with Spinach

  • 2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only)
  • 1 medium boiling potato such as Yukon Gold
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup packed spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup milk

Halve leeks lengthwise and cut enough crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces to measure 2 cups. In a bowl of cold water wash leeks well and lift from water into a sieve to drain. Peel potato and cut enough into 1/4-inch pieces to measure 1 cup. In a 1 1/2-quart saucepan cook leeks and potato in butter with curry powder over moderate heat, stirring, 5 minutes. Stir in 2 cups water and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes.

While soup is cooking, cut spinach into thin strips. In a blender purée soup until completely smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids) and return to pan. Add milk and salt and pepper to taste and bring to a simmer. Remove pan from heat and stir in spinach.

From Epicurious, via Gourmet, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Curried-Potato-and-Leek-Soup-with-Spinach-14480

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Potato Cakes with Leek and Carrots

  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, coarsely grated
  • 1 cup sliced leek (white and pale green parts only)
  • 2/3 cup coarsely grated peeled carrot
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • Sour cream (optional)

Wrap grated potatoes in several layers of paper towels and squeeze dry. Place potatoes in large bowl. Add leek and carrot and toss to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in each of 2 heavy medium skillets over medium-low heat. Add half of vegetable mixture (about 2 cups) to each skillet. Using metal spatula, flatten vegetables in each skillet to 7- to 8-inch-diameter cake. Cover skillets and cook cakes until crisp and brown at edges, about 12 minutes. Turn cakes over. Cook uncovered until vegetables are cooked through and cakes are crisp and brown on bottom, about 5 minutes longer. (Can be prepared 3 hours ahead. Transfer to baking sheet and let stand at room temperature. Rewarm in 375°F oven until crisp, about 10 minutes.) Transfer cakes to plates. Serve with sour cream, if desired.

From Epicurious, via Bon Appétit, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Potato-Cakes-with-Leek-and-Carrot-4480

March 27, 2014 at 1:56 pm Leave a comment

winter csa share – week 8 {march 13}

winter csa share week 8

Welcome to the 8th week of the Pitchfork & Crow Winter CSA!

Here’s what’s in the share:

  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Rutabaga & Pea Micro-Greens – Snip them and toss on top of quesadillas, sandwiches, pizza, or salads.  Also, don’t bother planting the peas in hopes of peas pods as this variety doesn’t produce edible pods.  Enjoy them as pea shoots!
  • Rutabaga – What an amazing amount of food to come from the small micro-greens you’re receiving too!  Last time you’ll be seeing these for the season.  Hopefully rutabaga rapini soon!
  • Ozette Fingerling Potatoes
  • Farm Greens! – A mix of collards, kale, chard, and kale/cabbage rapini!  Spring is on its way and the few plants that survived the winter are starting to provide again!
  • Dried Apples – We grew them, we dried them, we hope you like them!
  • Dakota Black Popcorn – More popcorn, and this time we grew it!  This is the stove top recipe we use: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/perfect_popcorn/
  • Oregon Homestead Winter Squash – We purchased this sweet meat squash from Harcombe Farm who grew it as a seed crop for Fertile Valley Seeds.  This is a large-sized Oregon heirloom that is not only well-suited to our cold, wet climate, but also deliciously sweet and dry.  Enjoy!

spring days

The last few days have reminded us just how lovely the weather can be in these parts.  The sun has been shining, the fields have been drying out, and spring is definitely in the air.  After the winter snows and the recent wind and rainstorms we’re glad to see a break for nice weather.

spring crops

The few plants in the field that survived the winter are coming back to life too.  The collards were the only greens to survive December’s freeze on a large scale but the cold left them ragged.  They’re finally looking up and they’re the base of this week’s farm greens.  We’ve also included the first of the season’s rapini.  Rapini is the sweet, tender stalks and buds of overwintered brassica plants like cabbage, kale, and collards that are going to seed.  We wait all year for the return of the rapini and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do while it lasts.

The spring crops we’ve begun sowing in the last few weeks are starting to emerge too.  The small beginnings of peas, carrots, spinach, radishes, and turnips are visible in our field houses and we’re hopeful for a shift from winter roots to spring greens soon.

sprouts

In an effort to bring some greens to the shares sooner than later, we’ve begun experimenting with sprouts.  This week we’re sharing rutabaga and pea sprouts with you.  These are for trimming and adding to sautes and salads or anything else that could use a dash of green.  Do note that this variety of pea won’t produce edible pods, so you’ll want to eat up the tender shoots.

Were especially excited about the rutabaga sprouts.  We grew a rutabaga seed crop last year that produced more seed than the seed company could use.  What does one do with 7 extra pounds of rutabaga seed?  Winter sprouts!  It’s fun to bring this seed full-cycle and share a piece of the seed-saving journey with you.

new greenhouse

Since we last met we’ve been continuing to start seeds in the propagation house.  It’s starting to fill up with onions, leeks, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, spinach, lettuce, peas, bok choy, kohlrabi, fennel, parsley, celeriac, celery, cauliflower, and beets!  This week we’ll sow the first broccoli and cabbage of the season.  Things are really getting going!

After finally finishing up the orchard pruning last week we shifted focus to putting up the new-to-us greenhouse we purchased from another farm last spring.  We’re hoping to use it as our tomato house this year and we’re looking forward to another rotation space for the crops we grow in our field houses.  If all goes well we’ll have photos of a finished greenhouse in the next update.  Fingers crossed!

You’ll be able to see our progress for yourselves next weekend!  We’re fast approaching the winter CSA farm visit and potluck lunch scheduled for Saturday March 22nd.  We’re inviting members out to see the farm in early spring and to meet other Winter CSA members.  Check out the weekly email from us for further details.

Enjoy the vegetables and we’ll see you in two weeks!

Your farmers,
Jeff Bramlett and Carri Heisler
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Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Skillet Greens with Crispy Shallots and Cider Gastrique

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced shallots
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings
  • 2 pounds greens (such as collards, chard, and kale), stems removed, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips

Dissolve sugar in 1 tablespoon water in small saucepan over medium heat. Increase heat; boil without stirring until amber, brushing pan sides with wet pastry brush, about 5 minutes. Add vinegar and crushed pepper (mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir until caramel bits dissolve. Cool.

Pour 2 cups oil into heavy medium saucepan. Attach deep-fry thermometer to side of pan and heat oil to 350°F. Working in batches, fry shallots until golden brown, stirring occasionally, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per batch. Using slotted spoon, transfer shallots to paper towels. Sprinkle with coarse salt.

Heat drippings with 1 tablespoon peanut oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add half of greens and sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper; toss until wilted. Add remaining greens; toss to wilt, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until greens are tender, adding water by 1/4 cupfuls if dry, about 45 minutes. Season with coarse salt and pepper.

Rewarm gastrique. Transfer greens to large shallow bowl. Drizzle some gastrique over and sprinkle shallots over. Serve, passing remaining gastrique.

Ingredient tip: This recipe calls for a few tablespoons of bacon drippings (fat). If you don’t save drippings, fry up a few slices of bacon until you have what you need.

From Epicurious, via Bon Appétit, by Linton Hopkins, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Skillet-Greens-with-Crispy-Shallots-and-Cider-Gastrique-351050

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Winter Squash and Chicken Stew with Indian Spices

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 6 chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 1 1/3 cups chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups 1-inch pieces peeled butternut or acorn squash
  • 2 cups 1-inch pieces peeled russet potatoes
  • 1 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 14 1/2- to 16-ounce can diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add to Dutch oven; sauté until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to plate.

Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Add curry powder, cumin, and cinnamon; stir 1 minute. Return chicken to pot. Add squash, potatoes, broth and tomatoes. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer until chicken and potatoes are cooked through and liquid is slightly reduced, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cilantro.

From Epicurious, via Bon Appétit, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Winter-Squash-and-Chicken-Stew-with-Indian-Spices-876

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Lemon-Paprika Tilapia with Potato-Rutabaga Mash

  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 1-pound rutabaga, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup whole milk, warmed
  • 1 to 1 1/4 pounds tilapia fillets
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

Place potatoes and rutabaga in medium saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches; sprinkle generously with salt. Boil until vegetables are tender, about 18 minutes. Drain; return vegetables to pot. Stir over medium heat 1 minute to dry out slightly. Add 4 tablespoons butter; mash to coarse puree. Stir in warm milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle tilapia fillets with salt and pepper and 1 teaspoon paprika. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter large skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish and cook until just opaque in center, about 2 minutes per side.

Divide potato-rutabaga mash among plates. Place fish alongside mash.

Add shallots to skillet and sauté until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add white wine and boil until reduced by about half, about 3 minutes. Add parsley, whipping cream, lemon peel, and 1/2 teaspoon paprika; stir until thickened to sauce consistency, about 1 minute. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over fish and potato-rutabaga mash.

From Epicurious, via Bon Appétit, by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Lemon-Paprika-Tilapia-with-Potato-Rutabaga-Mash-351534

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March 13, 2014 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

winter csa share – week 7 {february 27}

winter csa share week 7

Welcome to the 7th week of the Pitchfork & Crow Winter CSA!

Here’s what’s in the share:

  • Garlic
  • Cipollini Onions – small Italian onions great for caramelizing
  • Small Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Mountain Rose Potatoes
  • Chicory Salad Mix
  • Winter Squash – Delicata plus either Black Futzu or Acorn
  • Dried Apples – We grew them, we dried them, we hope you like them!
  • Dry Beans – more of last summer’s pole beans, dried and ready for an overnight soak and cooking up

germination Collage

It’s been feeling a lot more like spring these last couple of weeks.  The sun has been lingering longer each night, allowing us that much more time to finish up outdoor projects before breaking out our headlamps.  Plus we sowed the first seeds of the season.  That always feels like a shift from the death of winter to the life of spring.  We’ve happily been seeing very good germination for the first flats sown.  What a relief after last year’s slow start.

seeds2 Collage

We started with cold-hardy crops including lettuce, spinach, bok choy, parsley, and kohlrabi.  This past week we added flats of heat-loving peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant to the mix.

Seeds are amazing little bits of life, just waiting for the right conditions to wake up.  Some seeds will germinate at lower temperatures than others, thus we try to provide the right conditions for different crops.  Those initial cold-hardy crops are set out on regular pallet tables in our propagation house, but the heat-loving crops go on heat tables we’ve built to keep the soil warmer for better germination rates.  This year Jeff covered the heat tables with pvc hoops and plastic, effectively making a heated greenhouse inside our propagation greenhouse.  We’re still playing with the temperature of the heat cables, but we’re looking forward to much better germination for our peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant.

spring Collage

The spring-like weather has been a welcome change from the snow and cold of this winter.  We’ve been enjoying the rainstorms mixed with brief dry periods.  Though we did recently have standing water in the field, we were lucky not to be pushing for groundwork for planting.

signs of spring Collage

The trees around the farm are gearing up for spring and the cover crops have begun growing again.  Evidently we’re not the only ones that appreciate the increased daylight length.  I recently saw these Canada geese flying north, a sure sign spring is just around the corner.  At least, it felt like it in the moment.

We’d like to thank you all once again for sticking with us through this rough winter.  We’ve got several more months together before the winter CSA winds up, but we’re looking forward to things to come.  Thanks for your support as we wait-out the end of the “Winter of Roots” and dream of salad greens and radishes.

Enjoy the vegetables and we’ll see you in two weeks!

Your farmers,
Jeff Bramlett and Carri Heisler
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Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Mashed Potatoes with Carrots and Leek

  • 1 leek (white and pale green parts only), coarsely chopped
  • 2 lb potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold or russet (baking) potatoes
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Wash chopped leek well in a bowl of cold water, then lift out and drain well.

Peel potatoes and cut into 2-inch pieces. Cover with cold water in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, about 18 minutes. Drain and return to saucepan.

While potatoes are simmering, cook carrots in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, 5 to 6 minutes, then drain. Cook leek in butter in a 10-inch skillet over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 6 minutes. Add milk, salt, and pepper and simmer, stirring, 2 minutes.

Add leek mixture to potatoes and coarsely mash with a potato masher, then stir in carrots.

From Epicurious, via Gourmet, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Mashed-Potatoes-with-Carrots-and-Leeks-109125

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Creamy White Bean Soup with Leeks

  • three 19-ounce cans white beans, rinsed well in a sieve (or pre-soaked dried beans)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups thinly sliced washed white and pale green part of leek
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

In a blender purée the beans in batches with the tarragon and the broth and strain the purée through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on the solids. In a large saucepan cook the leek, the garlic, and the red pepper flakes in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the leek is softened and begins to turn golden. Add the purée, the half-and-half, the lemon juice, and salt to taste and simmer the soup, stirring, for 5 minutes.

From Epicurious, via Gourmet, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Creamy-White-Bean-Soup-with-Leeks-13357

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Winter Squash with Caramelized Onions

  • 2 pounds winter squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup (about 1 ounce) slivered almonds
  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins, plumped in warm water and drained
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the squash in an ovenproof dish and bake until tender, 50 to 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the almonds and fry until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the nuts to paper towels to drain.

Add the onions to the oil in the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the sugar and cinnamon, decrease the heat to medium, and continue cooking until the onions turn brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Add the raisins and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until heated through. Transfer the squash to a warm serving platter. Spread the onion mixture evenly over the squash, sprinkle with the fried almonds, and serve.

From Epicurious, via Gourmet, by Kitty Morse and Danielle Mamane, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Winter-Squash-with-Caramelized-Onions-106292

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February 27, 2014 at 2:48 pm Leave a comment

winter csa share – week 6 {february 13}

winter csa share week 6

Welcome to the 6th week of the Pitchfork & Crow Winter CSA!

Here’s what’s in the share:

  • Garlic
  • Yellow Onions
  • Sunchokes – These are roots of a sunflower variety.  We’ve been enjoying them shredded and sauteed but they’re good roasted and in soups too.  Please note that they contain high levels of a carbohydrate inulin, which is difficult for some folks to digest.  We’ve heard that some folks have better luck eating them raw to avoid digestion issues.
  • Carrots
  • Russet Potatoes
  • Butternut Winter Squash
  • Dried Apples – We grew them, we dried them, we hope you like them!
  • Corn Flour – this corn flour is from a variety we’ve been saving seed on for a few years called Painted Mountain.  We love the colorful decorative ears but the freshly milled flour is pretty fantastic too.  We’ve been eating a lot of corn flour pancakes lately, and not just for breakfast!
  • Belgian Endive – more amazing endive from our friend Marco at Sunset Lane Farm in Brownsville.  We found we love this stuff in a salad tossed with a light dressing.  Watch out for residual soil we weren’t able to wash off.  We suggest chopping it up and then rinsing it before eating.

pruning

Just after the last pick-up a couple weeks back we endeavored to begin two big projects.  On the paperwork end of things I wanted to get our taxes underway so that other winter paperwork could be finished up.  On the farm side Jeff wanted to get the orchard pruning taken care of.  We have successfully filed the farm taxes and pruned 1 of 5 orchard areas.  I suppose that’s progress though we’ve still got personal taxes and loads of other paperwork to tackle and then there’s the remaining 4 orchards to be pruned soon.  Our recent weather event sure did put a damper on the pruning progress.  As you can see above, snow and ice do not make for safe tree trimming conditions.

snow and field houses

Over the weekend we mostly occupied ourselves with sweeping snow off our 6 greenhouses.  Snow weight can crush greenhouse frames and we really didn’t want to deal with collapsed structures.  On Friday morning we woke up to 4 inches of snow and geared up for the first of many sessions of clearing each greenhouse.  Eventually waist-deep snow accumulated between our series of three connected field houses and became difficult to wade through each time we cleared them. By the end of the day we had 9 inches on the ground.

snow at the farm

farm snow

Our newest house, put up last winter, is our strongest and tallest.  We’d let snow accumulate along the ridge top because our tools couldn’t reach it from the ground.  Of course once we began seeing photos of collapsed houses on Facebook we geared up for a final sweeping of snow plus the quarter inch of ice that required our very tall orchard ladders.

We’re happy to say we didn’t lose a single greenhouse!  Other farms around the valley were not so lucky and many houses went down in this snow.  It was a tough weekend for many farmers in our area and I suggest you endeavor to support your local farmers in any way that you can over the coming months.  Shop at winter markets, sign up for CSAs, eat local food.

more snow

So what’s a couple of farmers to do when the farm is covered in 12.5 inches of now melting snow and the structures all appear to be safe?  Head to the mountains for a farmer’s retreat!  On Monday we made our now annual trek to Breitenbush Hot Springs for a farmer conference.

We’re now home, finishing up this week’s CSA harvest and letting our whirlwind trip sink in.  I’ve got pages and pages of notes on everything from equipment inspiration to vegetable variety suggestions but the highlights of any gathering like this is of course the people.  Reconnecting with folks from other farms and meeting new-to-us farmers from the region always gives us inspiration to continue on.  Hearing their stories of success or failure and learning from the experiences and wisdom of others who do this work cannot be beat.

We’re reminded daily how much we still have to learn about growing food.  We’re also inspired to keep at it for another year.

Enjoy the vegetables and we’ll see you in two weeks!

Your farmers,
Jeff Bramlett and Carri Heisler
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Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Cornbread

(This is how we make cornbread at the farm.)

Mix these ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup corn flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Beat these ingredients separately:

  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1 1/2 cup milk + 1 Tablespoon vinegar)
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 egg
Combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Cook in an 8″ square pan or round iron skillet at 425 for 30 minutes.
Adapted from The Fresh Loaf, via christilyn, http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/cornbread
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Sunchoke Latkes

Ingredients

1 lb. sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes
1 tsp. kosher salt or sea salt
1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp. breadcrumbs or matzo meal
~ Salt and pepper to taste
~ Oil for frying (canola, soybean, or peanut oil works well)

Steps

  1. Wash the sunchokes well. (It isn’t necessary to peel them, but remove all the dirt and grit, and cut away any bruised areas.)
  2. Grate the roots into coarse shreds and sprinkle them with one teaspoon of salt. Toss them in a bowl and set aside for 15 minutes.
  3. Squeeze moisture out of grated chokes and transfer to a clean bowl. Mix in the onion, eggs, and crumbs.
  4. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan and fry a test cake; adjust seasoning level if needed. Fry over medium heat until crisp and golden-brown, about two minutes per side.
  5. Blot on paper towels. Serve immediately or hold in a slow oven at 250 degrees until ready to serve.

From Culinate, via Ashely Griffin Gatland, http://www.culinate.com/search/q,ctype=recipe,q=sunchokes,stype=/36904

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Curried Butternut Squash Bisque

  • 2 2-pound butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeded
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped peeled apple (re-hydrated dried apples perhaps?)
  • 2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste*
  • 2 14-ounce cans low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 6 tablespoons sour cream, stirred to loosen
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • *Available in the Asian foods section of some supermarkets and at Asian markets.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush cut side of squash with oil; place squash, cut side down, on large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 1 hour. Cool slightly. Scoop squash out into large bowl. Measure 3 cups squash (reserve any remaining squash for another use).

Melt butter in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, and apple; sauté 5 minutes. Add curry paste; stir 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, bay leaves, and 3 cups squash. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered 1 hour. Discard bay leaves. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return to same pot. Stir in cream and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Rewarm over medium-high heat.

Divide soup among bowls. Drizzle with sour cream; sprinkle with cilantro.

From Epicurious, via Bon Appétit, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Curried-Butternut-Squash-Bisque-237088

February 13, 2014 at 2:25 pm 4 comments

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