Welcome to the 5th week of the Pitchfork & Crow Winter CSA!
Here’s what’s in the share:
- Red & Yellow Onions
- Small Leeks – We’ve been lamenting the fact that we got our leeks in too late last year due to a bad compost issue, but the small leeks survived the frost better than the big ones!
- German Butterball Potatoes
- Acorn & Delicata Winter Squash
- Dried Apples – We grew them, we dried them, we hope you like them!
- Mixed Dried Beans – Beans are amazing food and fun to grow too. These particular beans are leftovers from our summer pole bean plantings. We ate them as snap beans, we ate them as fresh shelling beans, and now we give you the same varieties as dried beans! Being so fresh, they won’t require a very long soak before cooking up.
Last week I (Carri) was fortunate enough to visit a few other farms including one near Eugene and two south of Roseburg. It was a fabulous opportunity to compare the winter state of other farms with our own place. I came away with a sense of optimism for the upcoming season, and a renewed respect for farmers who have been in this business a lot longer than we have.
Meeting with other farmers, the conversation seems to begin and end with a discussion of the weather. We’ve had a relatively dry winter and this is the time of year we begin to look for windows in the weather for field work. Before the rains of the last few days we were nearly ready to break into a couple of sections for early sowings. It’s probably for the best that we were forced to wait, but hopefully it won’t be too long before another opportunity presents itself.
As mentioned a couple of weeks back, we’ve been deep into planning for the upcoming season. Our basic plan has been outlined, the leftover seeds from last season have been inventoried, and the seed orders have been made. Although our bank account has been drained for the moment, we’re now beginning to receive the packages of seeds that will make this season possible.
Our seed ordering system is likely more complicated than some other farms. Here are some of the factors we weigh when choosing seeds:
- What crops are we growing? Anything new? Anything we should cut?
- What season will each crop perform best in? How many successions will we be growing?
- What varieties of each crop should we grow? Do we prefer open-pollinated, heirloom, or hybrid seeds for this crop? How did varieties perform in the past? Is a variety better suited to a specific part of the season?
- Which seed company’s strain should we choose? Do local seed companies have new offerings or are new varieties available?
- Is organically grown seed available? Has the seed been treated with non-organically approved coatings?
- How much seed do we need for the year? Can we find the quantity needed for an affordable price?
It takes us a while to make it through the 40ish different crops. This year we’ll be growing around 265 individual varieties of vegetables including many types of popular crops like tomatoes and broccoli and single varieties of other crops like fennel and basil. That’s a lot of diversity on one little farm.
In other fun seedy news, tomorrow the Organic Seed Alliance Conference kicks off over in Corvallis. We’re planning on attending for the day and we’re looking forward to learning a little more about the wide world of seed growing.
Along the theme of seeds, this week we’re giving you two cups of seedy goodness in the share! The dried beans we’re including this week will be tasty cooked up your favorite way (we prefer a little sauteed onion and a ham hock thrown in the crockpot) but dried beans are also bean seeds. You could save a handful and plant them come spring to grow your own pole beans!
Finally, many thanks to all of the folks who have already signed up for the 2014 Summer CSA! We appreciate your early support! If you know you’d like to join us for the Summer CSA and haven’t signed up yet, please fill out the sign-up form on the CSA page to reserve your spot so we can gauge how much word-spreading we should do.
Enjoy the vegetables and we’ll see you in two weeks!
Jeff Bramlett and Carri Heisler
Slow-Cooked Tomato and Herb White Beans
- 1 cup dried navy beans (or this week’s mixed beans!)
- 6 cups water
- 1 medium carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 medium white onion, coarsely chopped
- 4 (3-inch) thyme sprigs
- 1 (3-inch) rosemary sprig
- 1 (3-inch) sage sprig
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For tomato sauce:
- 3 bacon slices, chopped
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium white onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup minced garlic (from 1 to 2 heads)
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pound tomatoes, chopped (3 cups)
- 1/2 cup canned tomato purée
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped thyme
Soak beans overnight (8 to 12 hours) in water to cover by 2 inches or quick-soak (see cooks’ note, below), then drain.
Bring beans, water (6 cups), carrot, onion, and herb sprigs to a simmer in a 4-quart heavy pot, then simmer, partially covered, until beans are al dente, about 45 minutes. Add kosher salt, then continue to simmer until beans are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour more.
Make tomato sauce while beans simmer:
Cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Add oil and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden, about 12 minutes. Add garlic, kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is softened, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato purée, and thyme and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.
Discard carrot and herb sprigs. Drain beans in a sieve set over a bowl, reserving cooking liquid, and return beans to pot. Add tomato sauce and 1 1/2 cups bean-cooking liquid and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 45 minutes.
Cooks’ notes: •To quick-soak beans, cover with water by 2 inches in a 3-quart heavy saucepan and bring to a boil, then boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and cover, then soak 1 hour. Drain, discarding water.
•Dish can be made 2 days ahead and chilled. Thin with water if necessary while reheating.
From Epicurious, via Gourmet, by Susan Feniger and Kajsa Alger, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Slow-Cooked-Tomato-and-Herb-White-Beans-355555
Vegetable Pot Pie with Wine Sauce and Polenta Crust
- 15 pearl onions (or just chopped onion perhaps?)
- 2 large carrots
- 2 russet potatoes (about 8 ounces each), peeled
- 2 rutabagas (about 6 ounces each), peeled
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded
- 1 leek (white and pale green parts only), chopped
- 10 ounces mushrooms, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried herbs de Provence
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1 cup canned vegetable broth
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 cups canned vegetable broth
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated Romano cheese
Preheat oven to 425°F. Blanch pearl onions in large pot of boiling water 2 minutes. Drain onions and cool. Peel onions.
Cut carrots, potatoes, rutabagas and bell pepper into 1/2-inch pieces. Place in heavy large baking pan with onions, leek and mushrooms. Add olive oil and herbes de Provence and toss to coat. Roast until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Transfer vegetables to 8-inch square glass baking dish. Stir in peas. Season vegetables to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover tightly and refrigerate.)
Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Mix 1 cup vegetable broth and 3/4 cup dry red wine in heavy small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to simmer. Stir remaining 1/4 cup red wine and 1 tablespoon cornstarch in small bowl until smooth. Add to broth mixture and simmer until sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Pour sauce over roasted vegetables.
Combine vegetable broth and 1 cup water in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil. Gradually stir in cornmeal and salt. Cook until polenta thickens and pulls away from sides of pan, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes. Pour warm polenta over vegetable mixture. Using spatula, smooth top, covering vegetables completely. Sprinkle polenta with Romano cheese.
Bake pot pie until polenta is firm to touch and vegetable mixture is heated through, about 15 minutes. Preheat broiler. Broil pot pie until polenta is golden, about 4 minutes.
Spoon pot pie onto plate; serve hot.
From Epicurious via Bon Appétit, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Vegetable-Pot-Pie-with-Wine-Sauce-and-Polenta-Crust-1549
Apple-Filled Acorn Squash Rings with Curry Butter
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, diced (about 2 1/3 cups) (how about re-hydrating your dried apples for this?)
- 2/3 cup apple juice
- 1/2 cup dried currants
- 8 1-inch-thick unpeeled acorn squash rings (from 2 medium), seeded
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 12 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon curry powder; stir 1 minute. Add apples, apple juice, and currants. Sauté until liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes. Season filling to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt 5 tablespoons butter in small skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 tablespoon curry powder; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer curry butter to bowl. Brush 2 large rimmed baking sheets with some curry butter. Arrange squash in single layer on sheets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Scoop filling into center of rings. Drizzle remaining curry butter over squash and filling (mostly on squash). Cover with foil. Bake squash rings until squash is tender when pierced with skewer, about 40 minutes. Using spatula, transfer squash rings with filling to plates.
From Epicurious via Bon Appétit, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Apple-Filled-Acorn-Squash-Rings-with-Curry-Butter-105808