Spring is Springing!

We are officially counting the days to the beginning of the 12th P&C Summer CSA and it seemed about time to do a little update. Read on for a synopsis of what’s happening on the farm. This spring has been kind to us here on farm. The weather has been cooperating and things are on track for a solid growing season. Somehow we’re well into irrigation season already but we’ve got our fingers crossed the rain continues to show up now and again as the season progresses.

As many of you past farm members know, we take the month of May off from harvesting to focus on planting. Of course there’s also the pre-planting work that goes into prepping ground for planting, growing up the transplants, and then keeping everything watered and weeded after we plant them. We really appreciate your support as we disappear for the month to get those first crops in the ground and find the rhythm of field work again. Not only does it make for happier farmers, but it also makes for a happier farm, as the pressure to work the ground too early doesn’t take over.

Here are some photos and thoughts from spring on the farm:

Farmers with a tractor and plants, rainbow over the farm, and Leo the German Shepherd.

First off, how about we introduce ourselves in our natural habitat. We are Jeff and Carri, and along with Leo the farm dog, we’re growing your vegetables this season!

Jeff is the tractor driver, be it our diesel McCormick tractor (as seen above) pulling the disc, rototiller, or transplanter or hopping on our 1947 Farmall Cub cultivating tractor and tackling the weeds. He also wrangles the irrigation pipe, pounds t-posts, sows the cover crops, mows everything, and fixes stuff as needed.

Carri (that’s me!) gets to play in the propagation house starting seeds, growing transplants, and getting plants ready for life in the field. I’m the transplanter, and as Jeff drives slowly in straight lines I sit on the back of our water wheel transplanter plugging plants into the ground. And while Jeff is the head of field cultivation I tend to take on the greenhouses, trellising tomatoes and peas and managing the weeds with hand tools. I also handle all things business, seed orders, website, and CSA member communication.

It’s a team effort with Leo the German Shepherd helping out with security, rodent patrols, and heading up the ball games.

Flats of plants inside our propagation house, baby Brussels sprouts plants, and baby cucumbers plants.
In the propagation house! Below are the babiest of Brussels sprouts and cucumbers.

We built a new propagation house early this year. After a decade of making due with a greenhouse structure that was on the farm when we arrived here, we decided it was time for an upgrade. This spring has been especially nice for me to have a new workspace; one that doesn’t flood in high rain events and has proper ventilation. This is where most crops start out. Plants cycle through and the prop house fills up, empties out, and fills up again many times over the season.

Transplanting summer squash, trellised peas, planting peppers, and potatoes.
Planting the first round of summer squash (top left), trellising and weeding peas (top right), planting peppers on landscape fabric (bottom left), and getting the potatoes in the ground (bottom right).

Since the end of the Winter CSA we’ve been hustling to get plants in the ground and to keep them watered and weeded. We planted nearly a mile of potatoes, got the first rounds of bok choy, sweet corn, summer squash, basil, and celery planted, and transplanted the second rounds of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, and beets. This week we transplanted the leeks, celeriac, eggplants, and peppers. It’s been a whirlwind of ground prep and planting and more ground prep. And we’re just getting started. We’ll continue the planting marathon from now into September!

Cloudy skies, farm field, sunset through the oak trees, and yellow kale flowers.
Farm scenes, moody skies, and a glimpse of a kale seed crop.

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll continue the planting spree. We’ll also make the first harvest lists of the season, get back into the swing of harvesting, and before we know it we’ll be ready to bring you the first share of the 2021 Summer CSA season! It won’t be long now!

Until then we hope you’ve been getting our recent member emails. If you’ve signed up to join us for the Summer CSA and haven’t heard from us in your email inbox recently, try checking your spam folder for emails from us. If you don’t see them there let us know by dropping us a line at farmers@pitchforkandcrow.com.

Finally, here are a couple of things I’d like to pass on. Note, we’re not officially affiliated with these businesses but we do like them!:

  • First is a recipe collection recommendation – Katherine Deumling over at Cook With What You Have has made a discount code available for a free three-month subscription to her amazing collection of vegetable-oriented and CSA-inspired recipes. Check out her post on Instagram inviting folks to try it out and then head to her website for delicious recipe suggestions.
  • Second is a beef recommendation – One of our Lebanon CSA members is in the beef business. Check out their availability on their Instagram @RupertsMeatsOregon or pick-up some cuts directly from them at the Saturday Corvallis Farmers Market.
  • Third is a fish recommendation – We’ve developed a love of salmon over the last couple of years and decided last year to start supporting salmon fisherman the way you support us. It turned out to be a highlight of 2020 and once again we’ve joined the Iliamna Fish Company CSF (community supported fishery) and are looking forward to filling our freezer full of salmon again come September.

On that note, let’s wrap up this update. Summer CSA members, keep an eye out for more emails from us as we continue the countdown to the start of the Summer CSA season!

All our thanks!

Your farmers – Carri & Jeff

Winter CSA Share – #10

Welcome to the 10th, and final, share of the Pitchfork & Crow 2020/2021 Winter CSA!  Here’s what’s in the share this week:

  • Rainbow Chard
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli – a seasonal treat, this PSB was planted back in August! Like broccoli heads you can eat the stems and leaves too.
  • Cauliflower – We know we’re sending you home with a lot of cauliflower. It’s a chance to break out all the cauliflower recipes!
  • Spinach
  • Radishes
  • Parsnips and Carrots – Roasted and mashed parsnips are delicious, but also don’t forget about parsnip cake! Also, we had just enough extra carrots to toss in a few into each bag of parsnips.
  • Rutabaga
  • Banana Fingerling Potatoes
  • Bunching Onions
  • Yellow Onions
  • Wolverine’s Orca Dry Beans – Dry beans are a labor of love at our scale and we’ve chosen to only grow this one variety. They’re a tasty, plump bean and we hope you enjoy them.
  • Dried Cherry Tomatoes – A taste of last year’s summer sunshine!
  • Tetsukabuto Winter Squash – The last winter squash standing!
  • Dried Apples – We had a sad apple crop this year but we’ve made up for it by buying in some apples. These are non-organic apples grown in Washington and purchased from the the Four Seasons produce market just up the road from the farm. We did all the slicing and drying here at the farm.

Welcome to the last share of the Winter CSA season! This week seemed so far away when we began the season back in mid-December. 10 winter-vegetable-filled shares later here we are wrapping up another CSA season. We hope you’ve enjoyed the past five months of local, seasonal eating and are looking forward to continuing to eat with the seasons. Whether you’ve decided to join us for the Summer CSA, are looking forward to harvesting from your own garden, or are hoping to support other farms at your local farmers market, there are plenty of options for delicious local and seasonal produce available.

We’ll be working toward another plentiful Winter CSA in the coming months and hope to see you again on the flip side. We usually open up Winter shares in August or September, so lookout for an email from us then if you want to join us for the 2021-2022 Winter CSA.

Baby plants! Celery (top left), a look inside the prop house (top right), spinach (bottom left), and transplanting greens (bottom right).

The sunny weather over the past couple of weeks has kept us busy in the field planting, irrigating, and cultivating. The transition from winter to spring is usually full of surprises, and this year we’ve been surprised with sun. Though the cold, frosty nights seemed to persist longer than usual, the sunny days have meant early season irrigation has been imperative. We continue to appreciate the well pump upgrade we invested in last season. Getting water to plants in the field, whether they be newly planted transplants or the overwintered garlic crop, is key to happy vegetables for future CSA shares.

This past week we planted lettuce, beets, shallots, spinach, kohlrabi, and direct sowed snap beans, cilantro, arugula, kale, and carrots. It’s going to be a tasty summer! We also managed to get the tomato house prepped and planted!

Tomato planting!

Tomato planting used to take a full day of arranging flats and flats of too-tall tomato plants in 3″ pots (that had been potted up from smaller cells), driving them to the field in stages, and working together to layout too many beds of too many unruly plants. Once planted we then had to pick up the numerous 3″ pots, a last step that always felt epic. It was a lot.

Along the way we’ve figured out how to cut out the worst aspects of the overwhelming process. And we’ve boosted the number of tomatoes making it to shares too. We’ve pushed back our tomato start dates to February, eliminated the potting up step and kept tomatoes in their smaller cell flats. This means smaller, happier plants, no 3″ pots to deal with, and only 12ish flats of tomatoes to arrange instead of over 30. What was a whole day of tomato plant wrangling is done in a couple of hours. It’s one of the more obvious efficiencies we’ve made on the farm and it’s one that makes me very happy every time we plant tomatoes now.

Irrigating the baby blueberry bushes (left) and cultivating the garlic (right).

As we wrap up the final Winter CSA share for this season we’ll be taking a break from harvesting until June. Our May will be filled with planting, planting, irrigating, cultivating, mowing, and more planting. We’re looking forward to a fun and tasty summer! And we’ll even be planting for next winter’s food. Potatoes will go in the ground soon, and leeks, and onions, and winter squash, and dry beans!

We can’t thank you enough for joining us for this past season. The CSA model only works when members choose to invest in their future food, and in our farm, and we appreciate your willingness to do just that.

Enjoy the vegetables and we’ll see Summer CSA members in June for the start of the Summer CSA season!

Your farmers,
Carri Heisler & Jeff Bramlett

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Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

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
  • Accompaniment: lemon wedges

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, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/indian-spiced-cauliflower-and-potatoes-109118

Pickled Radishes

  • 10 red radishes, trimmed, unpeeled, quartered
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Combine first 3 ingredients in a clean 1 quart glass jar. Add vinegar, salt, and sugar. Cover; shake until sugar and salt begin to dissolve. Refrigerate for at least 3 days, shaking once a day. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 month ahead. (The flavor mellows the longer the mixture pickles.) Keep chilled.

From Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit by Eric Werner, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/pickled-radishes-366455

Cauliflower and Broccoli Flan with Spinach Bechamel

  • 2 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 1/2 cups broccoli florets (or use purple sprouting broccoli)
  • 2 6-ounce bags baby spinach leaves
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook cauliflower and broccoli in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving 2/3 cup cooking liquid. Transfer vegetables to large bowl. Cool.

Rinse spinach, then toss in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just wilted. Drain and cool. Squeeze spinach dry; finely chop.

Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk and reserved 2/3 cup vegetable cooking liquid. Whisk constantly over medium heat until sauce thickens and boils, about 3 minutes. Stir in spinach and cheese.

Using fingers, coarsely crumble cauliflower and broccoli in bowl. Add spinach béchamel sauce; stir to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Butter 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Spread vegetable mixture in prepared dish. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake flan until puffed and heated through, about 25 minutes if at room temperature and 35 minutes if chilled. Serve hot.

From Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/cauliflower-and-broccoli-flan-with-spinach-bechamel-232078

Winter CSA Share – #9

Welcome to the 9th share of the Pitchfork & Crow 2020/2021 Winter CSA!  Here’s what’s in the share this week:

  • Collard Rapini – Like the kale rapini from past shares, this is the first shoots the collard plants have sent up to eventually flower and make seed. It’s delicious at this tender stage and can be eaten like kale or broccoli, stems and leaves and all.
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli – a seasonal treat, this PSB was planted back in August! Like broccoli heads you can eat the stems and leaves too.
  • Cauliflower or more Purple Sprouting Broccoli
  • Savoy Cabbage
  • Mixed Spinach
  • Mixed Head Lettuce
  • Arugula Rapini
  • Cilantro
  • French Breakfast Radishes
  • German Butterball Potatoes
  • Parade Bunching Onions
  • Shallots
  • Polenta – We grow a flint corn called Cascade Ruby Gold that grinds partially into flour and partially into polenta when milled. Two weeks back we shared the flour and this week we’re sharing the polenta. We like to cook this polenta in our rice maker using the same 1 part polenta to 2 parts water ratio we use with rice. Many polenta recipes call for more liquid and longer cooking, which I’ve read will help develop the flavor more.
  • Dried Apples – We had a sad apple crop this year but we’ve made up for it by buying in some apples. These are non-organic apples grown in Washington and purchased from the the Four Seasons produce market just up the road from the farm. We did all the slicing and drying here at the farm.

2021 Summer CSA is full! – All our thanks to those of you who have decided to join us for the upcoming Summer CSA season! Thanks to your early commitments we’ve filled up the Summer CSA faster than ever before, even though we added a number of shares. We’re hard at work getting plants in the ground and we’re looking forward to a fantastic season ahead!

The vetch/oat/fava cover crop (right) and the garlic (left) have been growing up thanks to the recent sunshine.

After making it through some fierce winds and rains the sky has cleared up over the past week and we’ve been able to keep the spring farm show on track without too much trouble. The sunny days have made for pleasant field conditions, both for growing crops and working farmers alike.

The cover crops have put on some really lovely lush growth, which will make an excellent green manure when they’re mowed and worked into the field soon. The garlic and overwintering onions have also shot up. Many of the overwintering brassicas like kale and kalettes and collards are well into rapini season. Thanks to the mild winter weather we’ve still got lots of plants out in the field, many of them now flowering for the bees.

The prop house dance is on! Flats come in, plants grow up, flats head out, and more flats take their place.

At the end of March the propagation house dance begins for real. Flats of transplants have grown up and are ready to head out to hardening off table and then to the field. It’s an easy life in the prop. house so we set the plants outside for a bit to acclimate to the real world before finding their home in the field. After a few days or a week of adjusting it’s time to transplant! This cycle has just begun for the season and the weekly sowing and transplanting won’t end until September.

Transplanting has begun!

Somehow we managed to get the first of the transplants in the ground on the day we had noted on our planting plan. If that’s not an alignment of the universe, I don’t know what is. Since last Thursday we’ve planted the first rounds of cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kale, chard, fennel, bunching onions, sweet onions, and 2400 strawberries. Hurrah for more strawberries! This week the rest of the onions and shallots will join the field party and the potatoes are chitting (sitting out, growing sprouts) and they’ll be planted soon too. And we’ll be clearing out a high tunnel for the big tomato planting to commence. Goodbye bolting winter cilantro, hello tomatoes!

Of course as the prop. house dance continues on more plants will be filling it up. This week I’ll be starting the first of the sweet corn, all the melons, and the tomatillos. Fingers crossed the nighttime temperatures warm up some before these warmer season plants make their move to the field.

Enjoy the vegetables and we’ll see you in two weeks for the final Winter share of the season!

Your farmers,
Carri Heisler & Jeff Bramlett

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Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Bacon and Egg Sandwiches with Pickled Spring Onions

  1. Pickled spring onions:
    • 4 spring onions or 6 scallions, whites only, thinly sliced
    • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  2. Maple bacon and spicy mayo:
    • 12 slices thick-cut bacon
    • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
    • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
    • 1 tablespoon Sriracha
  3. Fried eggs and assembly:
    • 8 slices white sandwich bread, such as Pullman
    • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 4 large eggs
    • Kosher salt, ground pepper
    • 1 cup arugula leaves

For pickled spring onions:

Combine onions, vinegar, sugar, salt, and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl and toss to combine; let stand for 30 minutes.

For maple bacon and spicy mayo:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place bacon on a foil-lined large rimmed baking sheet; brush both sides with syrup. Bake until bacon begins to crisp but is still pliable, 20-25 minutes.

Mix mayonnaise and Sriracha in a small bowl to combine; set aside.

For fried eggs and assembly:

Spread 1 side of bread slices with plain mayonnaise. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Working in batches, cook bread, mayonnaise side down, until brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Wipe out skillet.

Melt butter in same skillet over medium heat; crack eggs into skillet. Cook, occasionally basting with butter in skillet, until whites are set, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread untoasted side of each bread slice with spicy mayo. Build sandwiches with bread, bacon, eggs, pickled spring onions, and arugula.

From Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit by Noble Sandwich Company, Austin, TX, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/bacon-and-egg-sandwiches-with-pickled-spring-onions-51155270

Cabbage Stir-Fry With Coconut and Lemon

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened grated coconut (fresh, frozen, or dried)
  • 2 tablespoons mild-flavored oil, such as canola
  • 1 teaspoon yellow or black mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons chana dal (the split kernel of a variety of chickpea) and/or urad dal (black gram beans), or 2 teaspoons lightly crushed yellow split peas
  • 1–2 dried red chiles, broken in half
  • 1 small head of cabbage (about 1 1/2 pounds), trimmed, cored, finely chopped (about 8 cups)
  • 3/4 teaspoon (or more) kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice

Thaw frozen coconut or soak dried coconut in a little hot water to plump up.

Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium until shimmering. Add 1 mustard seed. When seed sizzles and pops, add remaining mustard seeds, cover, and cook until seeds start popping, about 10 seconds. When popping starts to subside, immediately add chana dal. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, tossing constantly, until dals are reddish golden brown and smell nutty, about 2 minutes. Add chiles and toss to coat. Add cabbage, salt, and turmeric and cook, stirring, until cabbage wilts but still has a little crunch, 3–5 minutes. Add coconut and cook until heated through, about 1 minute more.

Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro and lemon juice. Taste and add more lemon juice and salt if needed.

From Epicurious.com by Chitra Agrawal, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/cabbage-stir-fry-with-coconut-and-lemon

Steak Tacos with Cilantro-Radish Salsa

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 pound skirt or flank steak
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems, divided
  • 4 radishes, trimmed, chopped
  • 2 spring onions or 4 scallions, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 serrano chile or jalapeño, seeds removed if desired, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 8 corn tortillas, warmed
  • 2 ounces queso fresco or Cotija cheese, crumbled

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high heat. Season steak with salt and pepper and cook about 5 minutes per side for medium rare. Let steak rest 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop half of cilantro and toss with radishes, onions, chile, lime juice, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a medium bowl. Season radish salsa with salt and pepper.

Slice steak and serve on tortillas topped with radish salsa, queso fresco, and remaining cilantro.

From Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/steak-tacos-with-cilantro-radish-salsa-51235400

Winter CSA Share – #8

Welcome to the 8th share of the Pitchfork & Crow 2020/2021 Winter CSA!  Here’s what’s in the share this week:

  • Mixed Kale Rapini – This week’s kale rapini is a mix between green leafy and purple varieties. Rapini, or raab, is the result of overwintered plants heading into seed production. It’s delicious at this tender stage and can be eaten like kale or broccoli, stems and leaves and all.
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli – a seasonal treat, this PSB was planted back in August and only starts forming florets now. Like broccoli heads you can eat the stems and leaves too.
  • Purple Cape or Medallion Cauliflower – Purple Cape is very similar to purple sprouting broccoli in taste and texture but it forms a head like cauliflower and thus gets categorized as a cauli. Medallion is the first of our overwintered white cauliflower to form heads.
  • Red Cabbage
  • Mizuna – A mild Asian mustard green good for salads and quickly wilting in soups and sautes.
  • Mixed Head Lettuce
  • Arugula – A little more grown-up than the arugula from two weeks back, but still delicate and tasty.
  • French Breakfast Radishes
  • Banana Fingerling Potatoes
  • Summer Island Bunching Onions
  • Yellow Onions – We ask a lot of our storage crops. We harvest them in early fall and then let them sit and wait and wait until they make an appearance in the share. We’re getting better at selecting long storing varieties but there’s just only so long an onion wants to store sometimes. That’s to say, eat your onions before they sprout because spring is just around the corner.
  • Corn Flour – We grow a flint corn called Cascade Ruby Gold that grinds partially into flour and partially into polenta when milled. This week we’re sharing flour and in two weeks we’ll share the polenta. You can use this flour in any recipe calling for corn flour or cornmeal. We like to use it for perfect cornbread.
  • Dried Apples – We had a sad apple crop this year but we’ve made up for it by buying in some apples. These are non-organic apples grown in Washington and purchased from the the Four Seasons produce market just up the road from the farm. We did all the slicing and drying here at the farm.

2021 Summer CSA spots are filling-up! As of today we only have 5 spots remaining. We hope you’ll join us for a summer and fall of local, seasonal, and organic vegetables. Find all the details, including info. on the new bi-weekly option, over on the Summer CSA page.

All our thanks to those of you who have already decided to join us for the upcoming Summer CSA season! Your early commitments are helping us get this season off to a great start! Don’t forget your first payment for the upcoming season is due by March 31st.

Purple Cape “cauliflower” (left) and happy harvesting inside a hoop house (right).

It’s college basketball tournament season and I (Carri) have been watching games between projects this past weekend. The Oregon State men’s team has been on a run after coming from behind to win the pac-12 tournament and has been a fun team to watch. Having grown up in Corvallis and gone to OSU it’s nice to cheer for the hometown team for once, but maybe more so when it’s a surprising winning streak. Why is victory sweeter when the underdog wins?

That’s also kind of how I feel about winter vegetables. In August we’re swimming in tomatoes and zucchini and salad greens; but when we’re in late March and can pull off a solid and diverse share of vegetables, the harvest is just a little more rewarding. Winter vegetables are the come-from-behind winners in my book!

The new propagation house is filling up! (top right) New temp sensor (top left), tomatoes growing up (bottom left), and baby cabbages (bottom right).

I recently came across a note card from last season where I’d tallied the germination and success rate for the tomato starts. In years past the conditions in our propagation house were adequate but not ideal and we often had trouble getting heat loving crops to germinate evenly. I’d have to re-start peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes multiple times to get enough plants to fill our planting plan. As I was tossing the outdated note card it occurred to me that I hadn’t had to re-start any tomatoes this season! The peppers and eggplants are just now germinating, but they’re also looking very promising. The biggest difference seems to be the new prop. house. Not only is the first round germination success a time and expense saver (not filling extra flats and using extra seed has its advantages) but it’s also a stress reliever. Whoa, there’s enough tomatoes of the varieties we’d planned for to plant on time? I guess I’ll have to find something else to worry about for now.

The temperature in the prop. house won’t be that new worrisome thing though. A week ago we added a new temperature sensor that’s connected to our weather station. Alerts can be set for notifications when the temperature rises above or below a set temp. It’s already been handy to get text alerts when the temp is too high and fans need to be turned on or when the temp. comes back down on its own. I can also check the temperature and humidity in the prop. house from my phone to monitor it when we’re away from the farm. Pretty fancy for this little farm.

Jeff’s been making baskets! (left) and the first of the pear blossoms (right).

While I’ve been focused on the prop. house, getting seeds to germinate, and filling up the Summer CSA, Jeff’s been busy with seemingly everything else. He’s been doing tractor maintenance and upgrades, undertaking blackberry management, planting more willow in the hedgerow, making the first ground prep. passes in the field, irrigating and mowing crops in high tunnels, arranging for organic fertilizer and compost deliveries, and the list goes on. Luckily he’s also been finding time to have some fun. Ever the hobbyist, he wasn’t wasting time with college basketball this past weekend, he was making willow baskets! The latest, shown above, is his first pack basket.

As I look across the farm it feels like we’re getting this season off to a good start. The first of the pears are blooming, joining the wild cherries and plums. The winter crops are headed to seed, the garlic is growing taller, the seasonal shift is happening. Who knows what twists and turns will come our way in the next nine months, but right now the farm feels ready to get another growing season underway. But first we’ll finish up the Winter CSA. Two more shares headed your way!

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

Your farmers,
Carri Heisler & Jeff Bramlett

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Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Lime and Honey-Glazed Salmon with Basmati and Broccolini

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lime peel
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro plus additional for sprinkling
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup sliced shallots (about 3 large)
  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice (9 to 10 ounces)
  • 3 1/4 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
  • 4 5-to 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets
  • 1 bunch broccolini, bottom inch trimmed, stalks separated if necessary (or Purple Sprouting Broccoli or Kale Rapini)

Preheat oven to 450°F. Whisk lime juice, lime peel, honey, 2 tablespoons cilantro, and soy sauce in small bowl; set aside. Heat oil in large deep ovenproof skillet or casserole (with lid) over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté until beginning to soften and brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in rice, then 3 1/4 cups broth; bring to boil. Cover skillet tightly with lid; place in oven and bake 10 minutes (rice will be almost cooked through and most of broth will be absorbed; mix in more broth by 1/4 cupfuls if dry).

Remove skillet from oven. Sprinkle rice lightly with salt. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper and arrange on rice, pressing in lightly. Tuck broccolini in around fish, with stems anchored in rice. Spoon 1 tablespoon lime mixture over each salmon fillet. Cover skillet tightly and return to oven; bake until salmon is just opaque in center and broccolini is crisp-tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drizzle remaining lime mixture over fish and rice; sprinkle with additional chopped cilantro and serve from skillet.

From Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/lime-and-honey-glazed-salmon-with-basmati-and-broccolini-355189

Rotisserie Chicken Salad with Charred Scallion Dressing

  • 5 ounce country-style bread, crusts removed, torn into 1″ pieces
  • 10 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 scallions
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoons mayonnaise, preferably Hellmann’s (Best Foods)
  • 1 small rotisserie chicken, meat pulled from bones and shredded
  • 6 radishes, trimmed, cut into wedges
  • 1 head of Bibb lettuce, leaves separated
  • 1 avocado, sliced, divided

Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss bread and 3 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Bake until golden and crisp around the edges, 8–12 minutes; let croutons cool.

Meanwhile, separate scallion whites from greens. Finely chop whites; place in a large bowl. Finely chop greens. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a small skillet over medium. Cook greens, stirring often, until blackened around edges and crisp, about 3 minutes. Scrape into bowl with whites, then whisk in lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, and mayonnaise; season with salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in remaining 6 Tbsp. oil.

Pour half of dressing into a small bowl; set aside. Add chicken, radishes, and croutons to bowl with remaining dressing and toss to coat.

Arrange lettuce and half of avocado on a platter; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with 3 Tbsp. reserved dressing; top with chicken salad. Tuck remaining avocado around; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with remaining dressing.

From Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit by Adam Rapoport, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/rotisserie-chicken-salad-with-charred-scallion-dressing

Spiced Fillet of Beef with Mizuna Salad

For beef

  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 1/2 pounds center-cut beef tenderloin roast (fillet of beef), trimmed and, if necessary, tied
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For salad

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces mizuna or baby arugula, trimmed

For beef:

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Toast peppercorns, cumin, and coriander , then cool completely. Grind spices with red pepper flakes in an electric coffee/spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Stir in kosher salt.

Pat beef dry and sprinkle with spices on all sides, pressing to adhere. Heat oil in a large flameproof roasting pan set across 2 burners over high heat until just smoking, then brown beef on all sides, about 2 minutes.

Roast in middle of oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted diagonally 2 inches into center registers 120°F, about 25 minutes. Let beef stand in pan 25 minutes. Beef will continue to cook as it stands, reaching 130°F (medium-rare).

Make salad and slice beef:

Whisk together oil, lemon juice, shallot, and salt in a bowl, then add pepper to taste.

Untie beef if necessary, then slice. Toss mizuna with dressing and serve beef topped with salad.

From Epicurious.com via Gourmet, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/spiced-fillet-of-beef-with-mizuna-salad-107005

Winter CSA Share – #7

Welcome to the 7th share of the Pitchfork & Crow 2020/2021 Winter CSA!  Here’s what’s in the share this week:

  • Kalettes – This new-to-us brassica is a cross between kale and Brussels sprouts. Instead of a sprout small kale flowers develop along the stalk. You can eat the leaves and stems of the sprouts and they can be prepared just like kale.
  • Lacinato Kale Rapini – Rapini, or raab, is the result of overwintered plants heading into seed production. It’s delicious at this tender stage and can be eaten like kale or broccoli, stems and leaves and all.
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli – a seasonal treat, this PSB was planted back in August and only starts forming florets now. Like broccoli heads you can eat the stems and leaves too.
  • Purple Cape Cauliflower – Purple Cape is very similar to purple sprouting broccoli in taste and texture but it forms a head like cauliflower and thus gets categorized as a cauli. Chop it and roast it or saute it just like PSB.
  • Mustard Rapini – The mustard greens are getting in on the rapini action this week!
  • Spinach Mix – A mix of four types of cold hardy spinach, including the red-veined Beaujolais variety.
  • Arugula!
  • Mixed Beets
  • Fingerling Potatoes
  • Leeks
  • Yellow Onions – We ask a lot of our storage crops. We harvest them in early fall and then let them sit and wait and wait until they make an appearance in the share. We’re getting better at selecting long storing varieties but there’s just only so long an onion wants to store sometimes. That’s to say, eat your onions before they sprout because spring is just around the corner.
  • Mixed Winter Squash – Some butternut, some kabocha, and some tetsukabuto (a hybrid between butternut and kabocha).
  • Dried Apples – We had a sad apple crop this year but we’ve made up for it by buying in some no-spray apples from another orchard. We did all the slicing and drying here at the farm.

Summer CSA sign-ups are happening! Memberships to the 2021 Summer CSA are open and we hope you’ll join us for a summer and fall of local, seasonal, and organic vegetables. As of today we only have 14 spots remaining. Find all the details and a sign-up form over on the Summer CSA page.

Happy cover crops and willows!

Spring seems to be right on schedule here on the farm. The days have been oscillating between sun, rain, fog, and frost, sometimes all in the same 24 hours. But despite the fluctuations the fruit trees are beginning to bud out and the willow that looms above our produce wash station is full of pussy willows and we spotted the first daffodil. It’s an exciting time of year as the days lengthen and we can begin to glimpse the end of winter.

Purple Cape (left) and baby broccoli starts (right).

One of the annual markers we welcome each February/March is the heading up of the Purple Cape ‘Cauliflower’. A delicious crop that lands somewhere between purple sprouting broccoli and cauliflower with the taste and texture of PSB but the heading habit of cauliflower. It’s one of the winter treats that we look forward to for months. It was seeded last July, transplanted last August, and hangs out in the field all fall and winter only to head up now, just in time for the arrival of the hunger gap as we begin to run low on storage crops and crave fresh vegetables.

Just as we’re rewarded with heads of purple cape we’re also rewarded with the first signs of life from the first round of brassicas for 2021. It’s a continuous cycle of seeding and growing and harvesting. We’re glad to have made it through another dark winter and to be once again finding the rhythm of a new growing season. The new propagation house has begun to fill up with baby tomatoes, onions, leeks, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, fennel, lettuce, and rainbow chard. This week eggplants and peppers will join the mix. In fact some of these earliest crops will make an appearance in Winter CSA a year from now. The onions and leeks in your share this week were seeded last February!

A recent farm sunset.

At the beginning of this winter we set out two main goals for the slower season. First we wanted to construct an improved propagation house after too many years of making do with the original greenhouse we set-up when we first arrived here. Second we wanted to make sure all the fruit trees were pruned back to human scale to make future harvest and maintenance a more realistic job. We’re excited to have marked both of these semi-epic tasks off the list! Time will tell whether or not we’ve whacked too much off the trees for fruit this first year, but the orchards are at least looking clean and manageable.

More propagation house upgrades!

And here are a few photos from the final build-out of the new propagation house. We’ve now installed new heat mats (that provide improved heat distribution!), we installed automatic shutter openers that open the vents as the temperatures rise, and we’ve set up a new hardening off area outside for plants to acclimate to the real world before being transplanted into the field. It’s been a longtime coming, but the new prop house has been a lovely workspace already.

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

Your farmers,
Carri Heisler & Jeff Bramlett

.

Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Gratin of Yukon Gold Potatoes, Bacon, and Arugula

  • 12 ounces bacon slices, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces arugula, trimmed, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups grated Gruyère cheese

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels and drain.

Mix cream and milk in 4-cup measuring cup. Layer 1/3 of potatoes in prepared dish; overlap slightly. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Top potatoes with half of arugula. Top with 1/3 of cheese and 1/3 of bacon. Pour 1 cup cream mixture over. Repeat layering. Top with remaining potatoes. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, remaining cheese and bacon. Pour remaining cream mixture over.

Bake gratin uncovered until potatoes are tender and cream mixture thickens, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Rewarm, covered with foil, in 375°F oven about 30 minutes.)

From Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/gratin-of-yukon-gold-potatoes-bacon-and-arugula-102674

Risotto with Butternut Squash and Leeks

  • 1 large butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cups (about) chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 3 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place squash on large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Roast until tender and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes.

Bring stock to simmer in heavy large saucepan. Reduce heat to very low; cover and keep stock warm.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in another heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add leeks and sauté until soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine and simmer until absorbed, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup hot stock; simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining stock 1/2 cup at a time, allowing stock to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently, until rice is tender and mixture is creamy, about 25 minutes longer. Add roasted squash, cream, Parmesan cheese and sage; stir until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit by Bread & Ink Cafe, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/risotto-with-butternut-squash-and-leeks-102617

Roasted Baby Beets and Arugula Salad with Lemon Gorgonzola Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 2 cups roughly torn bite-size pieces French bread
  • 1/4 cup assorted chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, basil, and rosemary)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 24 baby beets, trimmed, scrubbed
  • 8 ounces baby arugula (about 12 cups)

Place lemon juice and vinegar in small bowl. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup oil. Stir in cheese. Season with salt and pepper. (Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat remaining 1/3 cup oil in medium ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add bread pieces; toss to coat. Add herbs and garlic; toss to coat. Sauté until bread is crisp, about 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer croutons to plate in single layer. Cool.

Add beets to same skillet, tossing to coat with any remaining herbs and oil. Cover skillet with foil and transfer to oven. Roast until beets are tender, about 45 minutes. Cool beets. Peel, if desired; cut in half.

Toss arugula with 1/2 cup dressing in large wide bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with beets and croutons and serve.

Test-kitchen tip:After being roasted, baby beets peel easily, but the skins are perfectly edible if you choose to leave them on.

From Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit by Tina Miller, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/roasted-baby-beets-and-arugula-salad-with-lemon-gorgonzola-vinaigrette-234415

Winter CSA Share – #6

Welcome to the 6th share of the Pitchfork & Crow 2020/2021 Winter CSA!  Here’s what’s in the share this week:

  • Kalettes – This new-to-us brassica is a cross between kale and Brussels sprouts. Instead of a sprout small kale flowers develop along the stalk. You can eat the leaves and stems of the sprouts and they can be prepared just like kale.
  • Lacinato Kale Rapini – Rapini, or raab, is the result of overwintered plants heading into seed production. It’s delicious at this tender stage and can be eaten like kale or broccoli, stems and leaves and all.
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli – a seasonal treat, this PSB was planted back in August and only starts forming florets now. Like broccoli heads you can eat the stems and leaves too.
  • Green Cabbage
  • Tatsoi Rapini
  • Lettuce & Spinach Mix
  • Cilantro
  • Sunchokes– These are roots of a sunflower variety.  We enjoy them shredded and sauteed but they’re good raw, roasted, and in soups too.  Please note that they contain high levels of the carbohydrate inulin, which is difficult for some folks to digest.  Converting the inulin to fructose through cooking with vinegar or fermenting seems to be a good solution.
  • German Butterball Potatoes
  • Garlic – This is the very last of our 2020 garlic crop. Enjoy!
  • Yellow Onions – We ask a lot of our storage crops. We harvest them in early fall and then let them sit and wait and wait until they make an appearance in the share. We’re getting better at selecting long storing varieties but there’s just only so long an onion wants to store sometimes. That’s to say, eat your onions before they sprout because spring is just around the corner.
  • Butternut Winter Squash
  • Dried Apples – We had a sad apple crop this year but we’ve made up for it by buying in some no-spray apples from another orchard. We did all the slicing and drying here at the farm.

Summer CSA sign-up time has arrived! Memberships to the 2021 Summer CSA are open and we hope you’ll join us for a summer and fall of local, seasonal, and organic vegetables. We’re already 80% full for the season, so get on the list early to reserve your share. Find all the details and a sign-up form over on the Summer CSA page.

A little ice, and a little maple sap.

Hopefully you’ve all made it back to some semblance of normalcy after the big ice storm from a couple of weeks back. Luckily we were situated just south of the majority of the impact. We had some ice and lost internet/power over a couple of days but otherwise things on the farm came through relatively unscathed. A quick trip through south Salem early last week showed me just how much more had happened just north of us with downed trees and downed power lines. We’re glad to have better weather for this week’s pick-ups!

The icy weather inspired us to pull out our maple tree tapping supplies. We only have one maple tree on the farm, located at the front next to our driveway. It’s a bigleaf maple, which isn’t ideal for tapping, but does produce enough sap for a taste of maple goodness. The sap has been running the past couple of weeks and we’ve collected just under a half gallon, which we’ve boiled down to a half pint of watery syrup with a hint of maple. It’s always amazing how much sap you need for a small bit of maple syrup.

Winter field crops! Sunchokes and purple sprouting broccoli for the win.

Winter is always a gamble on the farm. Each storm that passes through is just another possibility for destruction. Wind can blow plastic off greenhouses and row cover off crops and into trees. Snow and ice can accumulate quickly and crush greenhouses. Rain can result in flooding once the soils are saturated. Through it all we expect winter crops in the field to keep standing, to keep growing. And as long as the temperatures stay out of the teens, the crops do keep growing. The repeated frosts and ice and occasional snows just sweeten the greens. The storms pass, the weeks go by, and suddenly we’re here in late February and the purple sprouting broccoli is forming its purple florets and the kale is sending up rapini shoots. Despite the recent ice storm, we’re on the cusp of spring!

Top: Installing the new hose hanging kits! Bottom: Baby tomatoes (left) and Jeff in the old prop. house during some minor flooding this past week (right).

The last couple of weeks have been productive here on the farm, despite the wintry weather. Jeff made lots of progress on wrangling the plum orchard back from the blackberries and managed to do a rough pruning through all the pear trees. I used the ice storm as a good excuse to finish up the winter paperwork season and managed to file both the business and our personal taxes and complete our annual USDA Farm Service Agency business paperwork for our loans. Whew!

We’ve also made more progress in the new propagation house. After a delay in shipping for our new heating mats we decided to bring in our old heat table system for the earliest crops. These tables have heat cables incorporated into them that provide some bottom heat for crops like tomatoes and peppers that prefer things warmer than the ambient temperature of the prop. house. Also, our new hose hanging kits arrived. After some basic reconfiguration to work in our situation we now have two hanging hoses that run on pulleys along wires running the length of the house. No more dragging hoses around corners; no more hoses kinking; no more tripping over hoses!

Perhaps my favorite February milestone is the starting of seeds. While Jeff worked on the orchards and gave our Farmall Cub cultivating tractor a winter tune-up I focused on filling flats and sowing the first round of tomatoes and onions and leeks. After several days in the germination chamber we now have the babiest of tomato plants! And they’re the first plants to grace the new propagation house. How revolutionary it all feels!

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

Your farmers,
Carri Heisler & Jeff Bramlett

.

Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Creamy Cilantro-Lime Slaw

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons (or more) fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime peel
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 8 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
  • 4 green onions, minced (about 1/4 cup)

Whisk mayonnaise, sour cream, 3 tablespoons lime juice, lime peel, chile, and garlic in large bowl. Stir in cilantro. Add cabbage and green onions; toss to incorporate evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill 1 hour. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

Season slaw with more lime juice, salt, and pepper, if desired, just before serving.

From Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit by Rick Rodgers, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/creamy-cilantro-lime-slaw-359790

Butternut Squash and Cheddar Bread Pudding

  • 2 pounds peeled seeded butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt plus additional for sprinkling
  • 7 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups half and half
  • 6 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 day-old baguette (do not remove crust), torn into 1-inch pieces (about 10 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped shallots (about 4 large)
  • 2 bunches Tuscan kale (about 1 pound), ribs removed, kale coarsely chopped
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss squash with 1 tablespoon oil on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt; bake until squash is tender, turning with spatula occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes.

Whisk eggs in large bowl. Add half and half, wine, mustard, and 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt; whisk to blend. Add baguette pieces; fold gently into egg mixture. Let soak 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add kale; cover and cook 2 minutes. Uncover and stir until kale is wilted but still bright green, about 5 minutes (kale will be a bit crunchy).

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Generously butter 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Using slotted spoon, transfer half of bread from egg mixture to prepared baking dish, arranging to cover most of dish. Spoon half of kale over bread. Spoon half of squash over bread and kale; sprinkle with half of cheese. Repeat with remaining bread, kale, squash, and cheese. Pour remaining egg mixture over bread pudding.

Cover bread pudding with foil. Bake 20 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered until custard is set and bread feels springy to touch, about 20 minutes longer.

Preheat broiler; broil pudding until cheese browns slightly, about 2 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and serve.

From Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit by Molly Wizenberg, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/butternut-squash-and-cheddar-bread-pudding-355792

Crispy Jerusalem Artichokes with Aged Balsamic

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds small Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), scrubbed, quartered
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar

Heat oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron (you’ll need a lid), over mediumhigh heat. Add Jerusalem artichokes and 1/4 cup water and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until Jerusalem artichokes are fork-tender, 8–10 minutes.

Uncover skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until water is evaporated and Jerusalem artichokes begin to brown and crisp, 8–10 minutes longer; transfer to a platter.

Add rosemary and butter to skillet and cook, stirring often, until butter foams, then browns, about 4 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat and stir in vinegar, scraping up any browned bits. Spoon brown butter sauce and rosemary over Jerusalem artichokes.

From Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/crispy-jerusalem-artichokes-with-aged-balsamic-51255110

Winter CSA Share – #5

Welcome to the 5th share of the Pitchfork & Crow 2020/2021 Winter CSA!  Here’s what’s in the share this week:

  • Kalettes – This new-to-us brassica is a cross between kale and Brussels sprouts. Instead of a sprout small kale flowers develop along the stalk. We ate some for the first time this week and found them to be delicious and sweet! You can eat the leaves and stems of the sprouts and they can be prepared just like kale.
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli – a seasonal treat, this PSB was planted back in August and only starts forming florets now. Like broccoli heads you can eat the stems and leaves too.
  • Semi-Savoy Green Cabbage
  • Rutabaga – less turnipy than turnips, these rutabaga (aka Swedes) are especially sweet after sweetening up in the winter field. We like them roasted with other roots and ate some mashed up with potatoes this week, which made for a tasty soup the next night.
  • Banana Fingerling Potatoes – Classic yellow fingerlings.
  • Garlic
  • Yellow Onions – We ask a lot of our storage crops. We harvest them in early fall and then let them sit and wait and wait until they make an appearance in the share. We’re getting better at selecting long storing varieties but there’s just only so long an onion wants to store sometimes. That’s to say, eat your onions before they sprout because spring is just around the corner.
  • Leeks
  • Kabocha Winter Squash – Mostly pale blue Winter Sweet, but some dark green Sweet Mama too. These squash bother have dry, flaky flesh and make for tasty pies, curries, soups, and are excellent roasted. Looking for more squash inspiration? Check out the Eat Winter Squash site for lots of great ideas.
  • Dried Apples – We had a sad apple crop this year but we’ve made up for it by buying in some no-spray apples from another orchard. We did all the slicing and drying here at the farm.

Summer CSA sign-up time has arrived! We’ve opened up memberships to the 2021 Summer CSA and we hope you’ll join us for a summer and fall of local, seasonal, and organic vegetables. It looks like we’ll fill up sooner than in years past, so get on the list early to reserve your share. Find all the details and a sign-up form over on the Summer CSA page.

Say hello to Kalettes!

This week we’re passing the halfway mark of the Winter CSA. With snow in the forecast again later this week, I think we’ve got plenty of winter left, but each time the sun peeks out we’re reminded spring isn’t so far off. The vegetables in the field are showing signs of spring too. The kale and some cabbages are ready to ring in rapini season and we were also able to eek out the first of the purple sprouting broccoli this week. It’s a special, and very tasty, time of year that we look forward to for months.

Now that we’ve shared the many, many stalks of Brussels sprouts with you (man it was a good year for Brussels!) we’re excited to share a new crop. Kalettes! This cross between Brussels sprouts and kale made an appearance in seed catalogs a few years ago. After disregarding them as a gimmick we were finally convinced by our friend at Working Hands Farm up in Hillsboro that we should indeed add them to the winter line-up. Sometimes it takes us a while to catch on, but I’m sure glad we finally listened. Our first meal of kale sprouts this week was delicious and we hope you agree that these are keepers.

The new propagation house is nearly complete. Just in time as boxes of seeds have been rolling into our mailbox.

Most of our focus this past week between CSA harvests was on the new propagation house. We’d finished the basic structure and end walls when we last met. We managed to pull the plastic, dig trenches for irrigation, lay irrigation lines, and move in tables before it was time to harvest again.

We’re just about ready to get the seed-starting underway. We’ve got some new heat mats headed our way and we’ll be installing a hanging hose system too. Our seeding schedule was set to start last week with some direct sown radishes, but this week we’ll really get things going with tomatoes! They’ll spend some time in the germination chamber (a room that can be heated to help seeds germinate faster) and hopefully we’ll have the new heat tables in place once they’re ready to be transferred to the propagation house.

In the week ahead we’ll be putting the finishing touches on the new prop. house and then getting back to the epic orchard pruning project. Fingers crossed that snow in the forecast doesn’t make an appearance, or if it does, that it doesn’t stick around too long.

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

Your farmers,
Carri Heisler & Jeff Bramlett

.

Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Rutabagas with Caramelized Onions

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • 1 3/4 pounds onions, halved, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/4 pounds rutabagas, peeled, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Melt 5 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and sauté until brown, 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook rutabagas in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-low heat. Add rutabagas; sauté until heated through, about 10 minutes. Drizzle honey over. Gently stir in onions. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 3 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm over medium-low heat.)

From Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/rutabagas-with-caramelized-onions-4677

Fingerling Potato Salad

  • 3 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 3/4″-1″ pieces
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 9 tablespoons (or more) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons brown mustard seeds
  • 3 medium leeks (white and palegreen parts only), halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into ¼” slices (about 5 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Place potatoes in a large pot. Add enough cold water to cover by 3″. Stir in 1 tablespoons salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet and let cool slightly.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until seeds start to pop, about 2 minutes. Pour oil with seeds into a large bowl.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 10-12 minutes.

Whisk remaining 4 tablespoons oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, and 1 tablespoon water into mustard-seed oil. Add potatoes and leeks; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Return to room temperature before serving, adding more oil and vinegar if dry.

From Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit by Sara Dickerman, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/fingerling-potato-salad-366411

Sea Scallops with Ham-Braised Cabbage and Kale

  • 1 large onion, chopped (2 cups)
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1 large head Savoy cabbage (2 to 2 1/2 pounds), quartered, cored, and coarsely chopped (12 cups loosely packed)
  • Ham stock including meat
  • 1 1/4 pounds tender green kale (1 large bunch), stems and center ribs cut out and discarded and leaves coarsely chopped (12 cups loosely packed) (or Kalettes!)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 30 large sea scallops (2 to 2 1/2 pounds total), tough muscle removed from side of each if necessary
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste

Cook onion in 3 tablespoons oil with bay leaf in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Add cabbage and increase heat to moderately high, then sauté, stirring occasionally, until cabbage starts to wilt, about 5 minutes. Add stock (with meat from ham hocks) and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is tender, about 30 minutes.

Stir in kale, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender, about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200°F.

Pat scallops dry and sprinkle both sides with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper (total). Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté scallops (without crowding), in 2 batches if necessary, turning over once, until golden and just cooked through, about 5 minutes total per batch. Transfer scallops to a shallow baking dish and keep warm in oven.

Add wine to skillet and deglaze by boiling, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet, until liquid is reduced to about 2/3 cup. Stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice, then add sauce to cabbage mixture. Season with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice if desired. Pour any scallop juices accumulated in baking dish into cabbage mixture, then serve mixture spooned over grits and topped with scallops.

Cooks’ note:Cabbage mixture can be made 1 day ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered. Reheat and add pan juices from scallops before serving.

From Epicurious.com via Gourmet, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/sea-scallops-with-ham-braised-cabbage-and-kale-230758

Winter CSA Share – #4

Welcome to the 4th share of the Pitchfork & Crow 2020/2021 Winter CSA!  Here’s what’s in the share this week:

  • Brussels Sprouts – These are likely the last of the Brussels for the season. Enjoy!
  • Lacinato Kale Rapini – As we edge ever closer to spring many of the overwintering plants in the field will be headed toward making seed. The interim stage is called rapini and is a delicious brocoli-like seasonal treat. This week some of the kale bunches include rapini, which can be eaten from stem to tip like broccoli.
  • Collards
  • Mustard Greens
  • Chicory MixThis frost-sweetened mix is just asking for creamy dressing, or something citrusy perhaps, and it also holds up well to warm toppings like bacon, chicken, or (our favorite) salmon. Look for recipes calling for radicchio, chicory, and castelfranco for inspiration.
  • Rainbow Carrots
  • Magic Molly Blue Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Yellow & Red Onions – We ask a lot of our storage crops. We harvest them in early fall and then let them sit and wait and wait until they make an appearance in the share. We’re getting better at selecting long storing varieties but there’s just only so long an onion wants to store sometimes. That’s to say, eat your onions before they sprout because spring is just around the corner.
  • Cilantro
  • Mixed Winter Squash – Choose from Black Futsu, Spaghetti, and the last of the Long Pie Pumpkins.
  • Dried Apples – We had a sad apple crop this year but we’ve made up for it by buying in some no-spray apples from another orchard. We did all the slicing and drying here at the farm.

Summer CSA sign-up time has arrived! We’ve opened up memberships to the 2021 Summer CSA and we hope you’ll join us for a summer and fall of local, seasonal, and organic vegetables. Find all the details and a sign-up form over on the Summer CSA page.

Our new propagation greenhouse kit arrived last Tuesday! Above is the kit (top left), digging post holes (top right), setting the posts (bottom left), and attaching the end wall posts to the bows (bottom right).

It’s been a busy week here on the farm. Last Tuesday, as promised, the greenhouse kit for our new propagation house was delivered. When we first started this farming experiment back in 2009 we put up a 8′ x 16′ greenhouse in the backyard of our house in Salem. We started seeds in our kitchen, grew transplants in the backyard, and drove them out to our rented plot outside of town. When we began leasing this farm we were able to consolidate the operation and we turned an existing 20′ x 45′ greenhouse into our new prop. house.

Though not a strong structure, somehow that greenhouse has made it through a decade of high winds and snow storms. However, over the years it’s become obvious that our ideal prop. house would have better air flow within the house, improved venting during the hotter times of the year, and a double layer of plastic to allow for an insulating air layer for the cooler months. It’s been difficult to want to make these investments in our current prop. house due to the lack of strength of the structure itself and the location which happens to flood in the rainier months.

Last spring we built a dedicated room off our shop to use as a germination chamber and the new prop. house is located directly off that room. Once ready to leave the germination chamber, seeded flats will easily be transferred into the new prop. house rather than trekking them through an orchard first. We’re excited to consolidate the seeding and transplant growing into the same area again while also improving the transplant growing environment.

Prop. house building cont’d: We’ve got a structure! (top left), shutter,s fans, side boards and purlins installed (top right), installing the endwall poly carbonate sheets (bottom left), and finished endwalls (bottom right).

Not wanting to waste the beautiful weather we jumped into construction as soon as the greenhouse delivery driver was gone. On day one we rented an auger from a local rental shop and proceeded to dig 30 10″ wide x 18″ deep holes to set the posts. The best projects always seem to start with digging. The auger was a beast but the holes ended up roughly in the correct locations. On day two we set the posts in 55 bags of quikrete and got the top bows in place. Day three was interrupted by a previously scheduled dentist appointment but we managed to get the side boards in place and secured. Day four we installed the metal purlins that run the length of house and then focused on framing out the end walls. This is the first time we’ve purchased end walls with the kit and it was fun to see it come together so quickly. Day five we finished framing the end walls, installed the fans and ventilation shutters, installed the doors, and put up the poly carbonate plastic that encloses the ends.

More construction, but with rain!

I’d hope to get to the plastic-pulling stage on Saturday (day five) before the rain returned but it wasn’t in the cards. Instead we used day six to finish up cutting and securing the poly carbonate end walls, installing the wire lock channel that will be needed to keep the plastic in place, and installing the fancy door handles that came in the kit. It was a muddy day on the job site and though we could have pulled plastic in the afternoon, we decided to hold off for a drier day. Fingers crossed we don’t have to wait too long.

Once we cover the house with the two layers of poly we’ll install a fan that will inflate the space between them to provide some insulating properties. We’ll also bring water over for future irrigation needs. Then comes the ground cloth to keep weeds at bay, tables for flats of transplants to sit on, and we’ll need to set up the hardening off area outside for transplants to shift to before getting transplanted into the field. There are plenty more things to do before we’re up and running but it doesn’t feel too far off now.

Our current prop. house and the field next to it that floods during high rain events (top left), wind storm damage from a couple weeks back (top right), curly willow on a foggy morning (bottom left), and a frosty farm sunrise (bottom right).

In addition to the remaining steps of the prop. house building project our next priority is pulling new plastic on one of our high tunnels that lost plastic in the wind storm we experienced a couple of weeks back. Plastic covered greenhouses and high wind events aren’t a great pairing. Last fall we lost plastic on a high tunnel in a high wind that ripped through just after the wildfires. This time we lost plastic on a different high tunnel, one that had a much older plastic covering thankfully. Luckily we already had the prop. house kit scheduled to arrive this past week and we were able to add the new plastic to our delivery. Now we wait for another couple of dry days to get these houses covered.

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

Your farmers,
Carri Heisler & Jeff Bramlett

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Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Brussels Sprouts and Roasted Red Onions

  • 4 pounds medium red onions (about 9)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Trim onions, keeping root ends intact, and cut each lengthwise into 6 wedges, keeping wedges intact. In a large bowl toss onions with oil and salt and pepper to taste. In 2 shallow baking pans arrange onions in one layer and roast in upper and lower thirds of oven 20 minutes. Carefully turn onions over and switch position of pans. Roast onions 20 minutes more, or until just tender and some edges are golden brown.

Trim Brussels sprouts and have ready a large bowl of ice and cold water. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water cook sprouts until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes, and drain in colander. Transfer sprouts to ice water to stop cooking and drain in colander. Vegetables may be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead and chilled separately, covered.

In a small bowl stir together mustard and water. In a 12-inch heavy skillet cook onions and sprouts in butter over moderately high heat, stirring, until heated through and stir in mustard mixture and salt and pepper to taste.

From Epicurious.com via Gourmet, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/brussels-sprouts-and-roasted-red-onions-14464

Quinoa with Moroccan Winter Squash and Carrot Stew

  1. Stew
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 cup chopped onion
    • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • Pinch of saffron
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 3 cups 1-inch cubes peeled butternut squash (from 1 1/2-pound squash) (or black futsu winter squash)
    • 2 cups 3/4-inch cubes peeled carrots
  2. Quinoa
    • 1 cup quinoa*
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped peeled carrot
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    • 2 cups water
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
    • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint, divided

For stew:

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; sauté until soft, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Mix in paprika and next 8 ingredients. Add 1 cup water, tomatoes, and lemon juice. Bring to boil. Add squash and carrots. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

For quinoa:

Rinse quinoa; drain. Melt butter with oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and carrot. Cover; cook until vegetables begin to brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, salt, and turmeric; sauté 1 minute. Add quinoa; stir 1 minute. Add 2 cups water. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; simmer until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.

Rewarm stew. Stir in half of cilantro and half of mint. Spoon quinoa onto platter, forming well in center. Spoon stew into well. Sprinkle remaining herbs over.

*A grain with a delicate flavor and a texture similar to couscous; available at natural foods stores.

From Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit by Bruce Aidells & Nancy Oakes, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/quinoa-with-moroccan-winter-squash-and-carrot-stew-233714

Salad Pasta

  • 1 (2.2-oz.) can oil-packed anchovy fillets
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves separated, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb. penne pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 head of radicchio, trimmed, quartered, leaves separated (or chicory mix)
  • 1 (5-oz.) package baby arugula
  • 1 cup basil leaves, torn if large
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Combine anchovies, garlic, oil, and red pepper flakes in a large skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until anchovies have disintegrated into oil and garlic is lightly browned, 6–8 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Remove skillet with anchovy mixture from heat and stir in butter and lemon juice until butter is melted. Add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid and stir constantly until a thick glossy sauce forms, adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed.

Place radicchio in a large bowl. Add pasta and sauce and toss to coat, adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed. Add arugula and basil but don’t toss; season with salt and black pepper.

Divide pasta among plates or bowls, very gently tossing so arugula gets coated in sauce but doesn’t wilt too much.

From Epicurious.com via Epicurious by Anna Stockwell, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/salad-pasta

Winter CSA Share – #3

Welcome to the 3rd share of the Pitchfork & Crow 2020/2021 Winter CSA!  Here’s what’s in the share this week:

  • Red Brussels Sprouts
  • January King Cabbage
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Chicory MixThis frost-sweetened mix is just asking for creamy dressing, or something citrusy perhaps, and it also holds up well to warm toppings like bacon, chicken, or (our favorite) salmon.
  • Mixed Beets
  • German Butterball Potatoes
  • Leeks
  • Garlic
  • Yellow & Red Onions – We ask a lot of our storage crops. We harvest them in early fall and then let them sit and wait and wait until they make an appearance in the share. We’re getting better at selecting long storing varieties but there’s just only so long an onion wants to store sometimes. That’s to say, eat your onions before they sprout because spring is just around the corner.
  • Thyme
  • Sweet Mama Kabocha Winter Squash
  • Mixed Winter Squash – Choose from Delicata, Carnival Acorn, and Gill’s Golden Pippin Acorn.
  • Dried Apples – We had a sad apple crop this year but we’ve made up for it by buying in some no-spray apples from another orchard. We did all the slicing and drying here at the farm.

Summer CSA sign-up time has arrived! We’ve opened up memberships to the 2021 Summer CSA and we hope you’ll join us for a summer and fall of local, seasonal, and organic vegetables. Find all the details and a sign-up form over on the Summer CSA page.

Farm sunrise (left) and a frosty morning in the mustard patch (right).

Here we are, share 3 of the Winter CSA and already well into January. The end of the year is always such a blur. Even this year, when the holiday gatherings were limited, December seemed to fly by. Mostly we were hunkered down with crop planning I think. We made a point to work through our crop planning early in order to make sure we got our seed orders in early too.

Seeds were one of those highly sought after items last spring as the realities of COVID19 set in and many seed companies were inundated with orders. It quickly became apparent that our regular carefully planned out triple round of seed ordering with staggered orders in January, April, and July was not going to work out due to seed availability, seed company order capacity, and shipping timelines. We bumped up the timeline last spring and adjusted our planning this season too. Although we weren’t the earliest to get our orders in this year, we did manage to mostly secure the varieties and quantities we’d planned for. Fingers crossed that backordered items come into stock before we need them and that the seeds for later in the season that we haven’t ordered yet are still available when we do.

Drying apples (left) and chicory mix (right)!

There’s something about investing $3200 on seeds for the upcoming season that suggests it’s time to open up the Summer CSA memberships. As soon as the seed orders were in I quickly shifted into budget forecasting and website updates and we met to finalize our thoughts on the season ahead. Most things have stayed the same, but there are some changes.

We’re excited (and a little nervous) to have added a bi-weekly pick-up option to the Summer CSA. We sometimes hear from members that a whole share is too much for their needs and we hope the bi-weekly option will offer a little more flexibility and less vegetable overwhelm over the season. We worried most members might choose to switch to the bi-weekly pick-ups, which means we’d have to find many more members to fill the CSA and meet our budget goals for the year. Fortunately so far the trend has been toward the weekly share option and we’re feeling hopeful we’ll make it to our goals before the season starts.

Jeff’s made a little time for winter basket making, including a new basket for the weekly CSA share photo!

Thankfully it hasn’t been all computer time and indoor work these past couple of weeks. In between orchard pruning and harvesting Jeff has found time to make a couple of willow baskets. He’s made many baskets over the years and tries to make a few each winter when the willow and red osier dogwood trees on the farm are dormant and ready to cut. This year he decided it was time to make a new basket for the weekly CSA share photo and it turned out really nice. It’s difficult to see it peeking out in the share photo, but if you pick-up at the farm you should check it out in person.

We’ll be keeping busy in the coming weeks in between winter storms with continued orchard pruning, more harvests, a little weeding in high tunnels, and more. Next week our new propagation greenhouse kit will be delivered which will lead to all sorts of fun!

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

Your farmers,
Carri Heisler & Jeff Bramlett

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Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Farro, Radicchio, and Roasted Beet Salad

  • 8 1- to 1 1/2-inch-diameter beets, tops trimmed to 1 inch
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-pearled farro or wheat berries
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 2 cups (packed) thinly sliced quartered radicchio (from about 1 medium head)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange beets in single layer in 8 x 8 x 2-inch baking dish. Drizzle with vegetable oil. Cover with foil and roast until beets are tender, about 45 minutes. Cool. Trim beets; peel. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.

Cook farro in large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Drain. Transfer to large bowl. Stir 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and garlic into hot farro. Cool to room temperature.

Cut each beet into 6 to 8 wedges. Add beets, radicchio, onion, and parsley to farro; toss to incorporate evenly. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

From Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit by Jeanne Kelley, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/farro-radicchio-and-roasted-beet-salad-359409

Kielbasa with Smothered Cabbage and Mashed Potatoes

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3/4 pound smoked kielbasa (Polish sausage), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 cups chopped cabbage
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 3/4 pound yellow-fleshed or russet (baking) potatoes
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into bits

In a large heavy skillet heat the oil over moderate heat until it is hot but not smoking and in it brown the kielbasa. Add the cabbage and the onion and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is browned. Add 1 1/2 cups water and simmer the mixture, covered partially, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender.

While the mixture is simmering, in a steamer set over boiling water steam the potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces, covered, for 12 minutes, or until they are very tender, transfer them to a bowl, and mash them with a potato masher. Add the milk, scalded, 3 tablespoons hot water, the butter, and salt and pepper to taste and stir the potato mixture until the butter is melted. Serve the kielbasa mixture on the mashed potatoes.

From Epicurious.com via Gourmet, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/kielbasa-with-smothered-cabbage-and-mashed-potatoes-12807

Seared Rainbow Chard with Leeks

  • 2 (1-lb) bunches rainbow chard or red and green Swiss chard
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Cut stems from chard (if leaves are large, cut out coarse portions of rib), then cut stems crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Stack chard leaves and roll into cylinders. Cut cylinders crosswise to make 1-inch-thick strips of leaves.

Heat butter and oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté chard stems and leeks with sea salt and pepper to taste, stirring occasionally, until slightly soft, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add chard leaves and continue to sauté, stirring frequently, until wilted. (If greens begin to brown before they wilt, sprinkle with a few drops of water.)

From Epicurious.com via Gourmet, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/seared-rainbow-chard-with-leeks-103721

Winter CSA Share – #2

Welcome to the 2nd share of the Pitchfork & Crow 2020/2021 Winter CSA!  Here’s what’s in the share this week:

  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Lacinato Kale
  • Mustard Greens
  • Rosalba or Castelfranco Chicory – These are some of our favorite winter salad greens. The pink variety is rosalba and the speckled green is castelfranco, and we love them both. The frost-sweetened beauties are just asking for creamy dressing, or something citrusy perhaps, and they hold up well to warm toppings like bacon, chicken, or (our favorite) salmon.
  • Parsnips – We’re excited to have eeked out a parsnip crop after many years of kind of failing. We’ve been loving them roasted with other roots and parsnip cupcakes (think carrot cake) have made multiple appearances in our kitchen.
  • Rose Finn Apple Fingerling Potatoes
  • Rutabaga – A cousin of the humble turnip, rutabagas bring a depth of flavor to mixed root dishes, and these have been sweetened by many frosty nights as a bonus.
  • Garlic
  • Yellow & Red Onions – We ask a lot of our storage crops. We harvest them in early fall and then let them sit and wait and wait until they make an appearance in the share. Were getting better at selecting long storing varieties but there’s just only so long an onion wants to store sometimes. That’s to say, eat your onions before they sprout because spring is just around the corner.
  • Cilantro
  • Butternut Winter Squash
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Dried Apples – We had a sad apple crop this year but we’ve made up for it by buying in some no-spray apples from another orchard. We did all the slicing and drying here at the farm.
Beautiful day for a winter harvest!

Welcome back for the second share of the Winter CSA season! We hope you all had a good run of holidays and are looking forward to the new year. After the many surprising happenings of 2020 I wouldn’t know where to start with predictions for 2021, but we hope it’s filled with good health and good food for all of you. Luckily we’ve already got some of that food growing and in storage here on the farm, so we’re off to a good start on that front.

This week we’re bringing you a quintessential roundup of winter vegetables. The winter weather has thus far been nice to us. Many frosty nights have sweetened up the field crops but the temperatures have stayed above twenty overnight, keeping us out of the danger zone for most of the vegetables we have outside. The long range forecast from Rufus over at the Weather Cafe suggests we may be in for cold and wind in January, so we tried to focus on harvesting crops outside of greenhouses this time around. Fingers crossed we don’t get loads of snow or ice piling up on greenhouses.

Fruit tree pruning (top) and the evidence of lots of rain (bottom).

We’ve settled into the winter rhythm of every other week harvests nicely. We appreciate the schedule of keeping up harvests through the winter months but also having some time to catch up on sleep, do more cooking, and tackle all the projects that don’t seem to get tackled during the rush of the summer growing season.

Since we last met we used many of the sunnier days to start in on pruning the fruit trees. The orchards haven’t gotten a lot of attention over the years and we think our sporadic pruning resulted in a very sad fruit harvest this past year. We’re endeavoring to wrestle the orchards into a manageable state. If you need us this winter, and it’s a non-harvest day, you best look for us among the trees.

However not all the days in the past week+ were sunny now were they? We had a deluge and plenty of wind whip through recently. Our new weather station recorded wind gusts over 30mph and two inches of rain in one day. That much rain means flooding in our lowest field, which is mostly just a dramatic photo-taking opportunity as it receded fairly quickly. This time it was also a reminder as to why we’re upgrading our propagation greenhouse as the water crept down the pathways inside.

Crop planning via Zoom for the screen sharing capabilities!

We spent the rainier days hunkered down with spreadsheets and seed catalogs as we kicked off next season’s planning marathon. This process has evolved over the years and, as with many other aspects of the farm, we’ve figured out when to work together and when to split up the tasks.

We review crop types, planting dates, and quantities and we discuss our goals for the upcoming year together. Jeff formats the spreadsheet dates and cross references quantities with our projections. I choose varieties and seed sources, which includes a seed inventory to determine what we have on hand and what we need to order. Once completed Jeff breaks out our master plan spreadsheet into propagation, direct sowing, transplanting plans that get printed and become our record keeping for the season. I break out the planting plan into a seed order by seed company and put in the orders.

I’ll be diving back into seed catalogs as we wrap up this week’s CSA distribution, just in time for the return of the rain. We’re hoping to get our seed orders in as soon as possible to make sure we get varieties and quantities we need. There will certainly be more fruit tree pruning happening in the coming weeks too. More of the same I guess.

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

Your farmers,
Carri Heisler & Jeff Bramlett

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Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Mashed Potato, Rutabaga, and Parsnip Casserole with Caramelized Onions

  • 7 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 pounds rutabagas, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 pounds parsnips, peeled, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature

Butter 13 x 9×2-inch glass baking dish. Combine first 7 ingredients in large pot; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover partially and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well. Transfer vegetables to large bowl. Add 1/2 cup butter. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until mashed but still chunky. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer mashed vegetables to prepared dish.

Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions and sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté until onions are tender and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spread onions evenly over mashed vegetables. (Casserole can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 375° F. Bake casserole uncovered until heated through and top begins to crisp, about 25 minutes.

From Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/mashed-potato-rutabaga-and-parsnip-casserole-with-caramelized-onions-2607

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Shredded Root Vegetable Pancakes

  • 2 cups of shredded rutabaga, parsnips, or sweet potato (from about 2 medium vegetables), shredded on the medium holes of a box grater
  • 1 medium yellow onion, grated on the medium holes of a box grater
  • 3 large egg whites, beaten
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more if needed so mixture just holds together
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup coconut or grapeseed oil
  • Flaky sea salt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or crème fraîche
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped

Place the grated root veggies and onion in a large kitchen towel and wring out any liquid, then add them to a medium bowl.

Stir in the egg whites. Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper to taste.

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the oil over medium-high heat. Use a scant 1/4 cup measure to scoop pancakes into the skillet, using the bottom of the measuring cup to spread the mixture into 1/2-inch-thick patties. Cook until the first side is deeply golden brown and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes, then turn the pancakes over and brown the other side, 3 to 4 minutes more. Transfer the pancakes to a wire rack to cool slightly. Work in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, adding more oil to the pan as needed.

Serve the pancakes topped with a few pinches of flaky sea salt, a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkle of scallions.

From Epicurious.com via The Happy Cook by Daphne Oz, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/shredded-root-vegetable-pancakes

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Butternut Squash and Noodles with Coconut, Lime, and Cilantro Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces (about 4 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup canned vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño chili
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup canned light unsweetened coconut milk*
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon Thai red curry paste*
  • 12 ounces dried futonaga udon noodles (oriental-style spaghetti)* or linguine
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • *Available at Asian markets and in the Asian foods section of some supermarkets.

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Add squash; sauté 4 minutes. Add broth, jalapeño and garlic; bring to boil. Cover; cook until squash is almost tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in coconut milk, lime juice and curry paste. Simmer uncovered until squash is tender and liquid is slightly reduced, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

Meanwhile, cook noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain noodles. Return to pot. Add squash mixture and cilantro to noodles; toss to blend. Serve.

From Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/butternut-squash-and-noodles-with-coconut-lime-and-cilantro-sauce-5340

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Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large bunches of Tuscan kale (about 1 1/2 pounds total), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with a knife
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup finely grated Pecorino

Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl. Stir to blend; set aside to let flavors meld. Mix thinly sliced kale and shredded brussels sprouts in a large bowl.

Measure 1/2 cup oil into a cup. Spoon 1 tablespoon oil from cup into a small skillet; heat oil over medium-high heat. Add almonds to skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle almonds lightly with salt.

Slowly whisk remaining olive oil in cup into lemon-juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Dressing, kale mixture, and toasted almonds can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover dressing and kale mixture separately and chill. Cover almonds and let stand at room temperature.

Add dressing and cheese to kale mixture; toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with almonds.

From Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit by Susan Spungen, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/kale-brussels-sprout-salad-368295

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