csa share – week 25 {november 6}

Welcome to the 25th week of the Pitchfork & Crow CSA!

Here’s what’s in the share:

  • Yellow Storage Onion
  • Fingerling Potatoes
  • Red Kale
  • Cauliflower!
  • Broccoli!
  • Spinach Mix
  • Fennel
  • Leeks
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Uchiki Kuri or Uncle David’s  Dakota Dessert or Delicata Winter Squash – three versatile and tasty winter squash to choose from this week!

Carri asked me to write the CSA newsletter, so I am excited to tell you what has been going on at the farm. First, thanks to everyone who has filled out the survey forms about your CSA experience. It is helpful to have honest feedback about how we are doing as your farmers. We hope to improve as time goes by, and we take your suggestions seriously. We will have some printed versions of the survey at the pickup, or you can give us feedback anonymously here: 2012 CSA Survey. The past week has been productive at the farm. I will tell you about three things that happened.

First, we started an official conversation with the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service). A branch of the USDA, the NRCS’s goal is “… not just a sustainable, nutritious, abundant food supply, but also thriving ecosystems that support a diversity of life.” Two conservationists toured the farm on Wednesday. They are going to help us create a plan to improve the soil, prevent erosion, increase biodiversity, and eventually I hope we can use their help in installing some alternative energy systems on the farm. These are all long-term goals, and we plan to have a long-term relationship with the NRCS in the improvement and proper management of the farm.

The second exciting thing that happened was an upgrade in the well house.  We’ve been planning to upgrade the well controls and pressure tanks since we first started learning about the farm back in the fall of 2010. We had to wait until we owned the farm to do it, and now that the irrigation season is over, we were comfortable enough to have the well out of service for a day for the upgrade. With the old pressure tank and funky pump controller, we had to make sure a certain number of sprinklers were running all at once. It involved a lot of running back to the well house to check the pump, then running out to the field to turn on or off a valve to try and optimize the pressure. Now, we can run anything from one sprinkler to fifteen, and the new controller will optimize the pressure. Next year, there will be much less running back and forth, and perhaps, less cursing!

The third happening was gravel. We ordered six dump truck loads of gravel to be spread along the main road that bisects the farm.  It was becoming quite an adventure to drive the harvest truck to the back of the farm. Now, we can harvest without fear of getting stuck in the mud.

Well darn, I was going to tell you about three things that happened on the farm, and I used the last spot on the bland topic of gravel. What I really wanted to tell you about was the harvest of your veggies! Carri took the day off her day job and we harvested the CSA shares together. It was such a pleasure! We even ate a lunch with cooked vegetables, and it was a nice glimpse of how our life will be working together as farmers. Thanks to you, we are getting much closer to our dream of a connected life with purpose. Despite the frustrations and failures inherent in learning how to farm, there is definitely something magical about growing, harvesting and delivering vegetables to you. We want to be very good at it, so please let us know how we can improve!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers,
Jeff Bramlett and Carri Heisler

Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:
This recipe was given to me by a CSA member a couple years back. Patti?!  Holly?!  I do remember it being a hit though!

Cheesy Potato & Cauliflower Chowder

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup onion, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups peeled and diced Yukon or white potatoes
2 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
1 cup half-and-half or whole milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups shredded Jarlsburg cheese (10 ounces)
Black pepper
3 slices dark rye or pumpernickel bread, halved crosswise (optional)
½ cup shredded Jarlsburg cheese (2 ounces) (optional)
2 tablespoons snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley (optional)

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion; cook until tender.  Add broth and potatoes.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, for 6 minutes.  Add cauliflower.  Return to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, for 4 to 6 minutes more or until vegetables are tender.

In a bowl combine half-and-half and flour; add to the cauliflower mixture.  Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.  Reduce heat to low.  Stir in the 2 ½ cups cheese until melted.  Do not boil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, if desired, trim crusts from bread.  Place halved bread slices on a baking sheet.  Bake in a 350 deg. oven about 3 minutes or until crisp.  Turn slices over, sprinkle with the ½ cup cheese and the parsley.  Bake for 5 minutes more or until cheese melts.  If desired, place one piece of bread on top of each serving.

From Better Homes & Gardens Biggest Book of Soups & Stews, Better Homes & Gardens


Fettuccine and Fennel Alfredo

1 large or 2 small bulbs of fennel, cored and julienned (or 1 small bulb if you are fennel-averse)
2 T butter
1/2 C chicken stock
1 C heavy cream
2/3 C Parmesan cheese, grated
1 recipe fresh fettuccine pasta (recipe follows)

Melt butter in a skillet over medium high heat; add sliced fennel and a pinch of salt, and saute until golden brown and caramelized in spots. Add chicken stock, reduce heat to medium, and cook until stock has evaporated. (If your fennel is not thinly sliced, you may want to cover the skillet for several minutes to promote softening before it boils off.) Turn the heat down to medium low and add the cream, another good pinch of salt and some grinds of pepper; let it come up to a very slow simmer and thicken slightly.

Meanwhile, get a large pot of salted water boiling and cook your fettuccine. Using fresh pasta, it will only need a minute or two to cook. Drain the pasta or use a spider to transfer it to the skillet. Toss once to coat with the creamy fennel, then add the Parmesan and toss again, until any looseness in the sauce has been absorbed into the pasta. Serve immediately, topped with a bit more Parmesan cheese and some chopped fennel fronds (if you want to clue in your eaters).

Fresh Egg Pasta

2 eggs
1 C all-purpose or white whole wheat flour

Mix the eggs and flour together to form a stiff dough. (If you use extra-large eggs as I do, you will likely need at least an additional quarter-cup of flour, perhaps more.) You can do this with a food processor (use the dough blade) or stand mixer (use the dough hook) or by hand, in which case mound up the flour on your counter and make a large well in the center for the eggs, then stir with your fingers incorporating more and more flour from the edges until you have a shaggy dough. Knead this until it is very smooth, adding a bit more flour if it seems sticky. (If it seems dry, knead with water-dampened hands to incorporate small amounts of liquid at a time.)

Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and allow to rest for about half an hour before rolling out for pasta. You can do this with a rolling pin or hand-cranked pasta machine; I love my stand mixer’s pasta roller attachments, and also use it to cut the pasta into fettuccine noodles. If using the machine to cut your noodles, allowing them to air-dry for a few minutes (say, while the pasta water boils) will give cleaner cuts. Alternately, dust your pasta sheets with flour, roll loosely, and cut by hand with a sharp knife. However you do it, separate the strands afterward with dusting of flour to keep them from melding back together, and pop them into the boiling water quickly thereafter. (If you must, freezing or drying your fresh, uncooked noodles is another option.)

From The Persnickety Palate, http://persnicketypalate.com/2010/06/26/finocchio-alfredo/


Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes

1 (1 3/4-lb) head cauliflower, cut into 3/4-inch-wide florets
1 1/4 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeño, including seeds
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup water
Put oven rack in upper third of oven and place a shallow baking pan on rack. Preheat oven to 475°F.

Toss cauliflower and potatoes together in a bowl with 3 tablespoons oil, cumin seeds, and1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread in hot baking pan and roast, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender and browned in spots and potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes.

While vegetables are roasting, cook onion, garlic, jalapeño, and ginger in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until very soft and beginning to turn golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Stir in water, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet, then stir in roasted vegetables. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

From Epicurious.com via Gourmet, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Indian-Spiced-Cauliflower-and-Potatoes-109118