Monday, October 26, 2009

week twenty, the end! (kind of)

It's the official end of our first CSA season, which is pretty hard to believe. Last year at this time we were still only considering CSA as an option for the farm and here we are with our first growing season almost over, two more honeybee hives, 30-odd chickens, and plans for significant expansion next year. We had a few stumbles, battled a lot of pests and diseases and learned a LOT... overall I consider the season a success. I hope you feel the same and that you'll be back with us in the spring of 2010.
Without the constant and generous help of some seriously amazing family and friends we never could have done this - and that includes the wonderful, patient first-year members... you all rock, thanks so much!

Even though this is the 20th week and the last of the significant harvests are in, there will be some "straggler" crops including a new batch of chard, mache, more radish, carrots, spinach, herbs, kale, bib lettuce, golden beets, and (if the greedy pig of a ground hog left any for the rest of us) snow peas. There won't be any more shares or delivery but as long as we have any harvests coming in you're all welcome to come to the farm and pick your own bag of whatever we have. I'll email weekly, starting the first week of November, to let you know what's available and you can contact me if you'd like to stop over. Hopefully we'll also have some eggs to sell.

This week everyone received leeks, potatoes, shallots, parsley, kohlrabi, French breakfast and cherry bell radish, parmex carrots (full) or a bag of arugula (partial) and a giant, lovely stalk of brussels sprouts.
The kohlrabi you have might look different than what you're used to seeing in the store. This variety is best harvested at about 5 cm, probably a little smaller than you might be used to but the flavor is pretty amazing - let me know how it compares. It's great just sliced on a salad with a citrus dressing or roasted with other veggies (including winter squash).
I've had some questions as to storing the brussels sprouts - just snap each sprout off the main stalk and store in a net (onion) bag in the fridge. I think these might be the veggie I've looked forward to most all season, and last night I made one of my all-time favorite recipes - roasted brussels sprouts with honey. Trim and wash the sprouts, pat dry, and put in a shallow baking dish (in one layer). Drizzle with olive oil and kosher salt, mix, and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Check them after 15 mins - you do NOT want soggy, overdone brussels sprouts. Take them out of the oven, drizzle with as much honey as you'd like, serve. The outside leaves get crisp and brown, the olive oil and salt brings out the amazing flavor, and the honey gives it a touch of sweetness. Yum.

Earlier this week Todd and I made another one of fall favorites, leek and potato soup. This is a simple soup with fantastic flavor... there are a lot of simple recipes for it out there but my favorite is still Alton Brown's:

Keep checking the blog for updates, plans for next year, and thrilling farm news. Hope to see you all at the farm this fall!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Farm Photos

your farmers! Todd and I with one of the feathery new residents

CSA member Zeev (with dad Dror) munches on a nasturtium flower

The construction begins! Friends and family help Todd and I transform an old hunting trailer into a new home for the chickens

jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjmjjJulia (visiting from San Fran) suits up
Liz and Emily had the misfortune to be visiting us that weekend... I immediately put Liz to work
my friend Ellen (with my dad) spent the whole weekend slaving at the farm
hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmy mom, building the roosts
h gggggggggggggggggggggEllen & Todd install a window (pulled from the trash)
my dad and Todd put up some fencing

The chickens arrive!


Heather and Dror, with Todd

Zeev meets the chickens
jjhhhhh j
CSA member Emma Kottler is very enthused hhh my mom passes out a treat of cracked corn

Emma explores the coopbbbbbbbbbbbbbmember Chris Whispell overcomes her fear of chickens

just two days after their arrival - our first eggs!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Week Nineteen

one of our praying mantis, hard at work on some brussels sprout greens

I'm pretty excited about the change in seasons... Instead of slathering on sunscreen before early morning CSA harvest, we're pulling on layers and scarves and boots and I'm loving it - as well as the change in what we're growing and harvesting. We covered the beans and peppers with frost-protective row covers this past week but pretty much everything else is fine in cold weather. Things like brussels sprouts, arugula, mache and the deep greens actually have improved flavor after frosts. You'll notice a change in quantity and variety of what you receive and it's all part of the season winding down. I plan to keep going as long as there's a significant harvest. Things to look for in the next couple weeks are more radish and dark greens, kohlrabi, carrots, chard, arugula, mache, bib lettuce, brussels sprouts, leeks and potatoes.

CSA members Charlie, Amy and Emma Kottler with their aunt, Kathy Ellis

In shares this week you have butternut squash, a variety of peppers, carrots, tatsoi, parsley, daikon radish (full), French breakfast radish (partial), and a container of habaneros if you indicated to me that you wanted them. Some of you might be unfamiliar with daikon radish - here's a link to some basic info including preparation and nutrition facts They can be treated like any other radish (see spring posts for radish sandwiches), used in salads, soups, or juiced and added to tomato sauce for a great kick (thanks Julie!).

Butternut squash is one of those foods that is versatile and pretty delightful any way you prepare it, but my good friend Liz made an amazing dish that's my new favorite - baked butternut squash fluff. Cut squash in half longways and scoop out seeds (you can roast these w/ salt, pepper and cayenne). Roast in the oven until soft, let cool slightly and scoop out the meat into a bowl. Add one or two eggs (depending on how much egg you like), some milk (not too much), a touch of ground/grated ginger, cinnamon and honey (2 T). Mix with a hand mixer to "fluff", spread in a small (no bigger than 9x13) baking dish and top with walnuts and a touch of brown sugar (for a nice crunch). Bake until nuts begin to brown. You can also add grated coconut to the topping - yum. Thanks Liz!
CSA member Kathryn just sent me a recipe for fall squash soup from the Frick Cafe - it sounds amazing and uses your squash, parsley and shallots
thanks Kathryn!

The big news for this week, of course, is that we now have chickens! 31 laying hens arrived on Saturday afternoon, kindly brought to us by Lynne of Dream Thyme Farm The ladies (and one patient rooster) seem very happy in their new home, and quite a few of you came to the farm for CSA pick up yesterday and had the chance to see them. They sleep in the coop at night and during the day when no one is around they'll stay in a large fenced area to keep them safe from local predators like fox, coyote, raccoon, and hawks. After they get used to their new surroundings and when we're at home to monitor them the chickens will be free to roam the farm and forage for tasty bugs, slugs, seeds and etc. Their diet also includes organic grain feed from a local mill, which is free of any and all hormones, antibiotics and GMO seed. This high-quality feed and their ability to roam about and forage for an ultra-healthy balanced diet means some very happy chickens, and some pretty fantastic tasting eggs. Hopefully you'll be able to see for yourselves soon - eggs will be available for purchase all winter (though they will lay at a much slower rate during the cold months) and of course next season, but I'm hoping to be able to include half a dozen in each of your shares before the end of the season.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Week Eighteen

Apologies for the late post this week. We've switched gears from concentrating on fall prep to focusing our energies on finishing the chicken coop. Lynne, the wonderful farmeress from Dream Thyme Farms has offered us 30 laying hens and chicks... they arrive in two weeks. Free range pastured eggs, coming soon! You'll have the opportunity to purchase eggs from us as soon as they arrive, which may be at or after the end of CSA shares this season.

I've had a lot of questions from members regarding how long this season will continue. The answer is, when the harvest stops rolling in. There will probably be a gap of a week or two because I have some beans, peas, kohlrabi, spinach and etc that will need a bit more time, plus the brussels sprouts and leeks won't be harvested until after we've had some decent frosts so you'll probably pick up a final bag in early November. Things have been winding down and will continue to do so until there are no more significant harvests. I think that in addition to the November bag there will be two or three more pick up weeks in October.

This week you received kale (I am tearing out the kale plants this week! Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief), potatoes, herbs and nasturtium, a variety of peppers, purple haze carrots, and pumpkins. Again, those who asked for habanero peppers also received those packaged separately. The small red or orange peppers that were loose in your bags are the aji dulce sweet peppers - they look like a habanero but have no heat, so don't fear them!

Don't forget to check previous blog posts for tasty recipes if you haven't tried them all. I highly recommend this curried roasted pumpkin soup - my mom made it last week and it was excellent (they specify a kind of curry powder but any will do)

Have a great week!