Summer CSA Share – #23

Welcome to the 23rd share of the Pitchfork & Crow CSA!  Here’s what’s in the share this week:

  • Rutabaga – One of the oft overlooked roots, rutabagas offer a pleasantly pungent addition to roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, and soups.
  • Carrots
  • Elephant Garlic – Don’t let the large bulbs scare you!  Elephant garlic is related to leeks and has a similarly mild allium flavor.
  • Green Curly Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Yellow Onion
  • Bora King Radishes – It’s fall radish season!  Don’t overlook the greens on these, treat them like mustard greens.
  • Peppers
  • Cauliflower
  • Mixed Tomatoes – mixed pints
  • Celery
  • Festival Acorn Squash
  • Winter Sweet Winter Squash – a drier fleshed kabocha type that stores well, perhaps even improving in flavor over time.
  • Mixed Dry Beans – You’ll want to soak these beans to let any debris and immature beans float to the surface for removal.

The past couple of weeks I’ve been spending a couple of days helping out at our friend’s seed farm.  They grow a huge diversity of seeds that run the gamut from flowers to vegetables and sell them through their seed company, Adaptive Seeds.  It’s been a nice diversion from the work of wrapping up our own season and I think I’ve even proved useful at times.

This is a busy time of year in the seed production world as many season-long crops are just now ready for seed processing.  We’ve grown a handful of varieties for them on our farm over the past several years so I have some experience cleaning seed, but it’s been enjoyable to see how they tackle the work.  Each crop takes a slightly different strategy, a slightly different combination of threshing, screening, and winnowing tactics. The large podded bean seeds drop readily into the bucket while their dry pods fly away in the fan breeze.  The tiny, lightweight lettuce seeds require less of a breeze during winnowing in front of the fan.  They also amazingly sort out by weight with the heaviest and most viable seeds dropping into the bucket and the immature seeds drifting further away.  It’s been nice to learn tips from these folks who have cleaned so much seed, and also to do this work with the proper tools.  They’re set up for it, whereas I always had to spend some time constructing a work station and remembering the best practices.

This week we’re including dry beans in the share.  Jeff has taken on the winnowing job and you can imagine him standing in front a box fan, pouring beans into the wind, watching the chaff separate off as the beans plunk into the bucket below.

Enjoy the vegetables and we’ll see you next week!

Your farmers,
Carri Heisler and 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 Epicurous via ,


Winter Squash and Chicken Stew with Indian Spices

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

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

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

From Epicurous via ,


Vinegar-Marinated Chicken with Buttered Greens and Radishes

  • 2 pounds skin-on bone-in chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 radishes, quartered, halved if small
  • 1 bunch mustard greens, leaves torn (or try kale and radish greens)
  • 4 tablespoons tarragon leaves, divided

Season chicken with salt and pepper and place in a large baking dish. Pour 1/4 cup vinegar over chicken and let sit 15–20 minutes. Remove chicken from marinade and pat skin dry. Reserve baking dish (no need to wipe it out).

Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Working in batches, cook chicken, skin side down, until skin is golden brown and crisp, 8–10 minutes; turn and cook until other side is just browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer chicken to reserved baking dish; reserve skillet. Bake chicken until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 165°F, 10–12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat butter in same skillet over medium-high. Add radishes, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until radishes are browned and tender, about 5 minutes. Add mustard greens and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mustard greens are just wilted, about 2 minutes (they should still have some spring in their step). Add 2 tablespoons tarragon and remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar; toss to combine.

Serve greens and radishes with chicken topped with remaining 2 tablespoons tarragon.

From Epicurous via



summer csa share – week 8

csa share week 8

Welcome to the 8th week of the Pitchfork & Crow Summer CSA! Here’s what’s in the share:

  • Green Conical Cabbage – Early Jersey Wakefield, a variety first grown in the US in 1840, great for kraut, soups, and sautes.
  • Cilantro
  • Yellow Beets
  • Salad Mix
  • Pink Beauty Radishes
  • Elephant Garlic – a mild type of garlic that is actually more closely related to leeks than garlic.  Use it in dishes calling for subtle garlicky flavors.
  • Summer Squash – Up first we’ve got traditional zucchinis, yellow straightneck, white pattypan, and an Italian round zucchini known as Tondo di Piacenza.
  • Cucumbers – A plethora of choices including various varieties of picklers and slicers!
  • Rainbow Carrots
  • Tomatoes Choose from mixed pints of cherries and slicers, the first of the season!
  • Yellow Transparent Apples – Apples in July?  It’s true, our earliest apples begin ripening now.  We’re getting to these Yellow Transparents before they get too ripe and begin to bruise when handled.  A good cooking apple, makes great applesauce!  Also, some of these might be Lodi apples.

It’s that time again!  CSA open farm and potluck time, that is!  We invite CSA members to join us on Saturday at the farm for tours, good food, and other farm shenanigans.  Come see your vegetables in the field, meet other members, and bring a t-shirt for some P&C logo screenprinting fun.  Check you email for all the details!

carrots and birds

What a wild ride this farming gig has been.  Every growing season has presented its own unique challenges, its own highs and lows.  The weather has played a big role in this, whether it be rain in June or scorching heat in May and all the way through into October.  This year we seem to be experiencing something in between with a warm spring and now a mild summer and rain in normally droughty July!  We’ve learned to expect the unexpected and keep on farming through to the other side.

The constant through every season has been the weeds.  You’d think we’d have a better handle on how to fight the weeds by now, but no.  There is no easy answer, no quick solution.  So we’ve come to the realization that in fact we cannot do it all by ourselves at this scale and we’ve brought on help.  Last week we hired two very part-time people to help with weeding.  We’re excited to begin wrangling things back into control around here.  We’ve begun this past week by salvaging the pepper field, so things are already looking up.

purple cape

Our “To Do” list is epic this time of year.  All the things need to be done yesterday.  This weekend we did get one big item marked off; we harvested the overwintering purple cape cauliflower seed crop.  We grow a handful of seed crops for our friends at Adaptive Seeds every year, and this past year we grew a stand of purple cape cauliflower.

Purple cape is a unique overwintering purple cauliflower that we start mid-July, transplant in August, and grows through the fall and winter to head up in February.  It’s such a surprise each year when the purple heads begin to appear in the field.  It’s definitely a favorite variety and staple in late-February Winter CSA shares.

Growing seed crops requires a different set of skills than our fresh produce crops.  Attempting to steward a crop for a year, through it’s entire life cycle from seed to seed, is more involved than the shorter time frame of sowing, tending, and harvesting other crops.  We grew purple cape cauliflower for the CSA this past year too, and once harvested in February we moved on, not giving it another thought until now when it’s time to sow it for the next round.  Long after we harvested that cauliflower for the CSA, the seed crop stayed in the field, elongating and flowering and eventually producing seed pods and seeds!  We kept it watered, flagged the best plants for stock seed, attempted to keep the weeds down, rogued out the worst plants, and finally harvested it this week before the birds discovered the dry seed pods and delicious seeds inside.

After a year’s worth of effort, we now have a bin full of beautiful seed.  After a little more cleaning it will be handed off to Adaptive Seeds for disease and germination testing.  Fingers crossed that we pass the tests and all the effort will have been worth it as the seed makes its way into the world to be grown by other farmers and gardeners.  We sowed our overwintered cauliflower this weekend too, and we’re already looking forward to sweet winter cauliflower next February.

Enjoy the vegetables and we’ll see you next week!

Your farmers,
Jeff Bramlett and Carri Heisler


Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Wilted Cabbage with Carrots and Bacon

  • 4 bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 medium onion, sliced thin
  • 3 1/2 cups thinly sliced cabbage (about 3/4 pound)
  • 2 carrots, grated coarse
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves (wash and dry before chopping

In a large non-stick skillet cook bacon over moderate heat until crisp and transfer with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. In fat remaining in skillet cook garlic and onion over moderately low heat, stirring, until onion is softened. Add carrots and cabbage and cook, stirring, over moderate heat until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in bacon and parsley and season with salt and pepper.

From Epicurious via Gourmet,


Chilled Cucumber-Yogurt Soup with Radishes

  • 2 1/4 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 1/4 pounds pickling cucumbers, trimmed, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces.
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (generous) ground ginger
  • Thinly sliced radishes

Combine yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, salt, cumin, curry and ginger in blender. Puree until smooth. Strain through fine sieve into large bowl. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Ladle soup into bowls. Top with radishes and serve.

From Epicurious via Bon Appétit,


Maple Horseradish Glazed Beets

  • 1 3/4 lb medium beets (3 3/4 lb with greens), stems trimmed to 1 inch
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons bottled horseradish (not drained)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup (preferably dark amber or Grade B)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.

Wrap beets in foil and roast until tender, about 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, peel beets and cut into eighths, then transfer to a bowl.

Melt butter with horseradish, syrup, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat. Stir in beets and boil, stirring occasionally, until liquid in skillet is reduced to about 1/4 cup and beets are coated, 4 to 5 minutes.

From Epicurious via Gourmet,



summer csa share – week 14

csa share week 14

Welcome to the 14th week of the Pitchfork & Crow Summer CSA! Here’s what’s in the share:

  • Kale Mix – young & tender, this kale mix would make for a tasty salad or lightly saute if you prefer your kale cooked.
  • Sweet Onions
  • Broccoli or Cauliflower
  • Golden Beets – rumor is, if you think red beets are a little too ‘earthy’ tasting, the milder golden beets might be your ticket to loving beets.  We like them roasted int he oven or grated on salads.
  • Sweet Peppers – A mix of two types of red and orange sweet peppers this week.  Both varieties make great stand-ins for bell peppers!
  • Eggplant
  • Summer Squash
  • French Fingerling Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers – Slicers and picklers all around
  • Green Beans
  • Muskmelons – aka cantaloupes!

There’s been a welcome hint of fall in the air this past week.  Although we had some warm days, the temperature has dropped overnight, resulting in some relief from the seemingly endless heat.  There’s even rumor of rain this weekend!  We’re ready for it!  Or we we will be by Saturday.

Looking around the farm there are a few things we need to take care of before the rain arrives.  Tools need to be brought inside, tarps need to be secured, and fruit needs to be harvested.  Similarly, there were seed crops waiting to be threshed.  Though they were stored in a greenhouse, plastic houses sometimes have unnoticed holes in them that can mean ruin to dry seeds when a rainstorm hits.

chicory seed

This past week I spent some time threshing and winnowing the chicory  and kale seed crops we had grown out over this past winter and spring.  The photos above show much of the seed production process for the chicories, but here’s a little more explanation:

  1. We transplanted out the chicory starts last October and by March they had grown to the size of  a small lettuce head.
  2. By the end of May they’d begun bolting, and by mid-June they were in full flowering mode.
  3. Chicory flowers are a striking periwinkle color and they only open during the morning hours, closing by midday when the sun is brightest.
  4. The bees and other local pollinators enjoyed the flowers as much as we did and as the flowers began to fade, seed began to develop.
  5. When the birds took a real interest in eating the seed, we harvested the dry stalks onto a tarp and stored it in an empty greenhouse to finish drying down.
  6. The seeds of chicories are difficult to thresh out from the base of the flower and they’re difficult to quickly distinguish from the dried plant material as they look like tiny sticks.  Our friends let us borrow their altered chipper that works wonders for breaking up the dried stalks and knocking the seeds free from the flowers.
  7. At this point we’re left with a big pile of chipped plant material mixed with the seeds.  After some winnowing with a box fan to blow off the lightest plant material, I screened out the larger pieces of dried stalks.
  8. We now have a bin full of seeds and stems.  We’ll use successively smaller screens to continue to remove the stems, eventually leaving us with clean chicory seed ready to plant again.

The seed cleaning process is similar for other seed crops, though it varies slightly depending on the crop.  For the kale seed, instead of putting it through the chipper we beat the dried seed pods with a stick to break the pods open and release the seeds.  It all depends on how the seed is held onto the plant.  The screening and winnowing process will also vary depending on what the dried plant matter is like that’s mixed in with the seed.

Our seed crops are now half processed, and out of danger of any rains that might come our way anytime soon.  A rainy day might even serve as a good excuse to stay inside and clean them further.  Until then, we’ll be focusing all the other tasks on the list.  The plums still need to be harvested, the next round of apples are beginning to fall, the popcorn is ready to be harvested.  And of course the weeds and irrigation and planting etc all continue to need attention.  But the weather feels like fall, and everything seems a little easier in the cooler temps.

Enjoy the vegetables and we’ll see you next week!

Your farmers,
Jeff Bramlett and Carri Heisler


Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Beet Salad

  • 4 medium red or golden beets (4 ounces each), stems and root ends removed
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower-seed oil
  • 2 ounces lowfat goat cheese

Heat oven to 400°F. Wrap each beet in foil. Roast until soft, about 1 hour. Cool slightly; remove foil. Rub off skins; cut into wedges. Toss with nuts and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Add oil; toss. Divide among 4 plates; crumble cheese on top.

From Epicurious via SELF by Lesley Porcelli,


Eggplant Fritters with Honey

  • 2 eggplants (about 1/4 pounds)
  • About 2 cups milk
  • Flour for dusting or dredging
  • Salt
  • Olive or sunflower oil for deep-frying
  • Orange blossom honey or other aromatic runny honey

Peel the eggplants and cut them into slices about 1/3 inch thick. Put them in a bowl, add enough milk to cover, and put a small plate on top to hold them down. Let soak for 1 to 2 hours; drain.

Cover a plate with plenty of flour mixed with a sprinkling of salt. Working in batches, turn the eggplant slices in this so that they are entirely covered with flour, then shake them to remove the excess. Deep-fry in sizzling but not too hot oil, turning the slices over as soon as the first side is brown. Drain on paper towels.

Serve hot with a dribble of honey, and let people help themselves to more honey if they like.

Variation In Córdoba, I had the eggplant slices dipped in batter. The coating was crisp, the eggplant was moist, and they were served with molasses.

From Epicurious via The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden,


Spanish-Style Grilled Vegetables with Breadcrumb Picada

On the grill

  • 3 large red bell peppers (about 1 1/2 pounds), stemmed, seeded, quartered
  • 4 large Japanese eggplants (about 1 1/4 pounds), trimmed, cut lengthwise into 3 slices
  • 4 medium green or yellow zucchini (preferably 2 of each; about 1 pound), trimmed, cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (for grilling)

For the dish

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)*
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • *Available in the Asian foods section of some supermarkets and at Asian markets.

Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Arrange vegetables on baking sheets. Brush with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill peppers, skin side down and without turning, until blackened and blistered, moving occasionally for even cooking, about 10 minutes. Enclose in plastic bag. Let stand until skins loosen, about 30 minutes. Grill eggplants and zucchini until charred and tender, turning and rearranging for even browning, 5 to 6 minutes. Place on foillined baking sheet. Peel peppers. Transfer to sheet with eggplants and zucchini.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add breadcrumbs; stir until golden, about 3 minutes. Season breadcrumb picada to taste with salt; scrape into small bowl.

Place vinegar in another small bowl; whisk in 3 tablespoons oil. Mix in parsley and oregano. Season to taste with salt.

Arrange vegetables on platter. Spoon herb dressing over; sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

From Epicurious via Bon Appétit by Tori Ritchie,



winter csa share – week 5 {january 30}

winter csa share week 5

Welcome to the 5th week of the Pitchfork & Crow Winter CSA!

Here’s what’s in the share:

  • Garlic
  • Red & Yellow Onions
  • Small Leeks – We’ve been lamenting the fact that we got our leeks in too late last year due to a bad compost issue, but the small leeks survived the frost better than the big ones!
  • Rutabaga
  • Carrots
  • German Butterball Potatoes
  • Acorn & Delicata Winter Squash
  • Dried Apples – We grew them, we dried them, we hope you like them!
  • Mixed Dried Beans – Beans are amazing food and fun to grow too.  These particular beans are leftovers from our summer pole bean plantings.  We ate them as snap beans, we ate them as fresh shelling beans, and now we give you the same varieties as dried beans!  Being so fresh, they won’t require a very long soak before cooking up.

soil and garlic

Last week I (Carri) was fortunate enough to visit a few other farms including one near Eugene and two south of Roseburg.  It was a fabulous opportunity to compare the winter state of other farms with our own place.  I came away with a sense of optimism for the upcoming season, and a renewed respect for farmers who have been in this business a lot longer than we have.

Meeting with other farmers, the conversation seems to begin and end with a discussion of the weather.  We’ve had a relatively dry winter and this is the time of year we begin to look for windows in the weather for field work.  Before the rains of the last few days we were nearly ready to break into a couple of sections for early sowings.  It’s probably for the best that we were forced to wait, but hopefully it won’t be too long before another opportunity presents itself.

seed order

As mentioned a couple of weeks back, we’ve been deep into planning for the upcoming season.  Our basic plan has been outlined, the leftover seeds from last season have been inventoried, and the seed orders have been made.  Although our bank account has been drained for the moment, we’re now beginning to receive the packages of seeds that will make this season possible.

Our seed ordering system is likely more complicated than some other farms.  Here are some of the factors we weigh when choosing seeds:

  • What crops are we growing?  Anything new?  Anything we should cut?
  • What season will each crop perform best in? How many successions will we be growing?
  • What varieties of each crop should we grow?  Do we prefer open-pollinated, heirloom, or hybrid seeds for this crop? How did varieties perform in the past?  Is a variety better suited to a specific part of the season?
  • Which seed company’s strain should we choose?  Do local seed companies have new offerings or are new varieties available?
  • Is organically grown seed available?  Has the seed been treated with non-organically approved coatings?
  • How much seed do we need for the year?  Can we find the quantity needed for an affordable price?

It takes us a while to make it through the 40ish different crops.  This year we’ll be growing around 265 individual varieties of vegetables including many types of popular crops like tomatoes and broccoli and single varieties of other crops like fennel and basil.  That’s a lot of diversity on one little farm.

In other fun seedy news, tomorrow the Organic Seed Alliance Conference kicks off over in Corvallis.  We’re planning on attending for the day and we’re looking forward to learning a little more about the wide world of seed growing.

dried beans

Along the theme of seeds, this week we’re giving you two cups of seedy goodness in the share!  The dried beans we’re including this week will be tasty cooked up your favorite way (we prefer a little sauteed onion and a ham hock thrown in the crockpot) but dried beans are also bean seeds.  You could save a handful and plant them come spring to grow your own pole beans!

Finally, many thanks to all of the folks who have already signed up for the 2014 Summer CSA!  We appreciate your early support!  If you know you’d like to join us for the Summer CSA and haven’t signed up yet, please fill out the sign-up form on the CSA page to reserve your spot so we can gauge how much word-spreading we should do.

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

Your farmers,
Jeff Bramlett and Carri Heisler

Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Slow-Cooked Tomato and Herb White Beans

For beans:

  • 1 cup dried navy beans (or this week’s mixed beans!)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 (3-inch) thyme sprigs
  • 1 (3-inch) rosemary sprig
  • 1 (3-inch) sage sprig
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

For tomato sauce:

  • 3 bacon slices, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic (from 1 to 2 heads)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound tomatoes, chopped (3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup canned tomato purée
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped thyme

Soak beans:
Soak beans overnight (8 to 12 hours) in water to cover by 2 inches or quick-soak (see cooks’ note, below), then drain.

Cook beans:
Bring beans, water (6 cups), carrot, onion, and herb sprigs to a simmer in a 4-quart heavy pot, then simmer, partially covered, until beans are al dente, about 45 minutes. Add kosher salt, then continue to simmer until beans are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour more.

Make tomato sauce while beans simmer:
Cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Add oil and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden, about 12 minutes. Add garlic, kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is softened, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato purée, and thyme and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.

Finish beans:
Discard carrot and herb sprigs. Drain beans in a sieve set over a bowl, reserving cooking liquid, and return beans to pot. Add tomato sauce and 1 1/2 cups bean-cooking liquid and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 45 minutes.

Cooks’ notes: •To quick-soak beans, cover with water by 2 inches in a 3-quart heavy saucepan and bring to a boil, then boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and cover, then soak 1 hour. Drain, discarding water.
•Dish can be made 2 days ahead and chilled. Thin with water if necessary while reheating.

From Epicurious, via Gourmet, by Susan Feniger and Kajsa Alger,


Vegetable Pot Pie with Wine Sauce and Polenta Crust


  • 15 pearl onions (or just chopped onion perhaps?)
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 russet potatoes (about 8 ounces each), peeled
  • 2 rutabagas (about 6 ounces each), peeled
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded
  • 1 leek (white and pale green parts only), chopped
  • 10 ounces mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried herbs de Provence
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 cup canned vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch


  • 2 cups canned vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated Romano cheese

For filling:
Preheat oven to 425°F. Blanch pearl onions in large pot of boiling water 2 minutes. Drain onions and cool. Peel onions.

Cut carrots, potatoes, rutabagas and bell pepper into 1/2-inch pieces. Place in heavy large baking pan with onions, leek and mushrooms. Add olive oil and herbes de Provence and toss to coat. Roast until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Transfer vegetables to 8-inch square glass baking dish. Stir in peas. Season vegetables to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover tightly and refrigerate.)

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Mix 1 cup vegetable broth and 3/4 cup dry red wine in heavy small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to simmer. Stir remaining 1/4 cup red wine and 1 tablespoon cornstarch in small bowl until smooth. Add to broth mixture and simmer until sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Pour sauce over roasted vegetables.

For polenta:
Combine vegetable broth and 1 cup water in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil. Gradually stir in cornmeal and salt. Cook until polenta thickens and pulls away from sides of pan, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes. Pour warm polenta over vegetable mixture. Using spatula, smooth top, covering vegetables completely. Sprinkle polenta with Romano cheese.

Bake pot pie until polenta is firm to touch and vegetable mixture is heated through, about 15 minutes. Preheat broiler. Broil pot pie until polenta is golden, about 4 minutes.

Spoon pot pie onto plate; serve hot.

From Epicurious via Bon Appétit,


Apple-Filled Acorn Squash Rings with Curry Butter

  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, diced (about 2 1/3 cups) (how about re-hydrating your dried apples for this?)
  • 2/3 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 8 1-inch-thick unpeeled acorn squash rings (from 2 medium), seeded

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 12 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon curry powder; stir 1 minute. Add apples, apple juice, and currants. Sauté until liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes. Season filling to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt 5 tablespoons butter in small skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 tablespoon curry powder; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer curry butter to bowl. Brush 2 large rimmed baking sheets with some curry butter. Arrange squash in single layer on sheets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Scoop filling into center of rings. Drizzle remaining curry butter over squash and filling (mostly on squash). Cover with foil. Bake squash rings until squash is tender when pierced with skewer, about 40 minutes. Using spatula, transfer squash rings with filling to plates.

From Epicurious via Bon Appétit,


spring update

February was a surprisingly productive month at Pitchfork & Crow. We attended Bee School through the Willamette Valley Beekeepers Association, ordered a colony of Italian bees for April pickup from Ruhl Bee Supply in Gladstone, made a visit to Birds and Bees farm in Oregon City, went to a farmers’ retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, and attended the Small Farms Conference at OSU. During our free time, we started flats of leeks, beets, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, chicory, collards, fennel, parsley, kale, lettuce, eggplant, peas, Asian greens, and five types of onions. Our plan is to begin transplanting these starts into the field by the end of April, weather permitting.

The most notable event of February was the Breitenbush Hot Springs farmers’ retreat. The mystical location, with its steaming natural pools, meetings in forest-nestled yurts, and tangible aura of long Native American presence was a perfect setting for a bunch of organic vegetable farmers sharing their insights and struggles of the previous year. It felt like a meeting of revolutionaries in a mountain stronghold, and revolutionaries we are, striving to cultivate a sustainable, human-centered agriculture in a world of industrialized farming.

A popular theme in farmer meetings is a review of everyone’s “Ah-Has” and “Uh-Ohs” of the previous year. One decision we have made for this year is commitment to use only heirloom and open-pollinated (non-hybrid) seeds as much as possible. We are hoping that this is not a major “Uh-oh” for 2010, since many farmers praise hybrids for their vigor and productivity, especially in crops like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes and corn. It was Frank and Karen Morton of Wild Garden Seed who inspired us, in their catalog, by explaining the importance of preserving the “genetic commons” of open-pollinated seed, so that organic farmers have the ability to adapt crops to their growing conditions and trait preferences.

We understood this concept in theory, especially given the knowledge that large scale seed production often selects for uniformity, shelf life, machine harvest and long-distance transport traits over nutrition, taste and local adaptability. But, it was Brian Campbell from Uprising Seeds who explained the situation further at a seed saving discussion during the Breitenbush retreat.

Brian outlined the basic process of hybrid breeding. First, plant breeders select the parents with the traits they want to exploit, and then create two plant populations with these traits by inbreeding.  For many generations, they artificially inbreed the two lines separately until they have parents that are genetically homogenous and one-dimensional. Once these lines are predictably showing the desired traits, the two lines are crossed. Although the parent populations are weakened by inbreeding, there is a burst of vitality in the new hybrid as it expresses the exact desired traits. Although this process may seem innocuous, the resultant hybrid is a “genetic dead end,” lacking the storehouse of genetic potential to pass to its progeny. Farmers cannot save seed from these hybrids for the next year and must depend on seed companies for a new seed crop. With seed access controlled by market whims, there is a real risk of loosing genetic diversity developed over thousands of years.

In light of all this, we are glad that we decided to focus on heirloom and open-pollinated varieties. Although our broccoli and cauliflower may have slightly looser heads, our carrots may not be as uniform, our tomatoes may have a thinner skin, and our corn will have a shorter window of harvest, we will persevere knowing that we are working with plants handed down by our ancestors, in a way that will allow us to hand them down to future generations, unadulterated and genetically intact. We hope you will taste the difference as we focus on bringing you fresh, well-cared-for heirlooms and open-pollinated vegetables.

We also realize that you are an integral part of the farm. Without your support, we would not have the means or motivation to continue. We welcome your feedback regarding the heirloom varieties and look forward to seeing everyone again at the Salem Saturday Market. We hope to have vegetables ready to bring to market by mid-May and plan to be in full-swing by the beginning of June. We are still accepting a few more CSA members and thank all those who have committed to a weekly box of local, chemical-free veggies!

Your farmers,

Jeff Bramlett and Carri Heisler

Pitchfork & Crow