Monday, August 30, 2010

week twelve

So, August has been quite a month. Hope you're still enjoying the scads of heirloom tomatoes in shares... I've received some pretty awesome feedback. One (possibly biased) local chef claims that they're the best in the city. And speaking of local chefs, watch for an upcoming post about the fabulous Pittsburgh restaurants where you'll find our herbs and produce on the menu.

This week, depending on share size, you received: heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, sweet pepper, variety of hot pepper, winter squash (baby blue hubbard, sweet dumpling, green buttercup, butternut, or Thelma Saunders sweet potato squash), rattlesnake beans, husk cherries, cilantro, and savory.

A word about husk cherries - don't fear them. Part of the tomato (nightshade) family, they're strange, tasty, and pretty hard to find. Kind of like cherry tomato meets pineapple meets vanilla. They're versatile too... if you're feeling adventurous you can cook them down into a jam. One of my chefs made them into hot sauce. Or toss them in a fruit salad with melon, berries, mint, lemon/lime basil and a bit of sugar. Or just eat them like candy. Impress your friends... they're a novelty. Here's some more info if you're feeling researchy

Some suggestions for the winter squash from chef Kate Romane of E2 (part of Enrico's Biscotti Co.) restaurant... cube and saute or roast the squash with garlic, shallots and herbs. The savory that you received this week or sage would work well, but certainly experiment with any herbs you have on hand. You could even get nuts and throw in some chopped kale if you still have that hanging around. Toss in some olive oil, salt, pepper and a touch of white vinegar or lemon juice. Adding grains like barley or farro make this a super hearty meal.

Kate also suggested an early fall salad with lentils.... cook the squash with caramelized onions, shallots, garlic. Add apples for a touch of sweetness plus salt, pepper, a bit of cinnamon, and mint. Shove that mess into a pita smeared with goat cheese? Good god, I'm hungry.
Try it. The woman teaches a seasonal salad class, she knows what she's doing.

mmmm.... berries

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

week eight

Ah, August... The heirloom tomatoes are ripening, the peppers are beginning to turn brilliant colors, and the berries are starting to really pour in. About those tasty berries - you'll start receiving them this week and every other week until they're done. One week farm pick up will get them and the next week the deliveries will get them, and here's why: we pick buckets every other day or so but those picked earlier in the week won't keep until the weekend, so they will mostly be sold to the restaurants I deal with. CSA members will get the berries picked close to the weekend. Finally! I know you've all been waiting very patiently for these.

In shares this week you received our first sampling of some heirloom tomatoes, either a mixed pint of cherries, grapes and pear tomatoes or a couple larger paste or slicing tomatoes. You also received cucumbers, summer squash (yellow crookneck, lemon or white bush Lebanese), cabbage (savoy or red), a bunch of carrots (the little round ones are called Paris Market), and a bunch of sweet basil. Yum.

Tis the season for being inundated with summer squash. It's not going to stop any time soon so let's stay on top of using these little suckers, lest you hold on to them and suddenly find that you have enough to build a squash-fort. Here's a few tasty and easy recipes to try...

stuffed summer squash, using your chard and herbs -
summer squash pizza, using your greens, herbs and garlic (and might as well throw some shallots on there.... why not?)
a superfast summer squash and parm pasta (with basil, of course)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

week seven

On Sunday you received a few pounds of new potatoes, shallots, garlic, hot pepper, cucumbers, beans, chard, and full shares got our first harvest of summer squash - yellow crookneck and white bush Lebanese. These squash, and all of the summer squash you'll receive from us, can be used in many and various ways - including interchangeably with zucchini. It's true! I promise! Zucchini bread, fried zucchini, etc. I know we've been here before, but I just want to reiterate :)

Speaking of, one of the recommendations I gave a member at farm pick up was to slice and marinate the squash in oil, a bit of salt, and any variety of the herbs I've been giving you and grill it as a side dish. As far as the new potatoes, I'm sure most of you are stocked up with ways to use these, especially with your garlic and shallots, but here's a quick recipe for roasted potatoes with garlicy mustard vinaigrette

I made a tasty potato dish this week by roasting them and mashing them up (skins and all, of course) with shallots, garlic and sage sautéed in butter and topped with fresh chives. If you're wondering what to do with shallots, fear not. They're in the family Allium which makes them an onion relative, but they have a much sweeter, milder flavor. Think of them as a fancy, expensive gourmet onion.

For those of you who received squash this week, or thinking ahead for those who will get it this Sunday, this pizza sounds amazing - I haven't had a chance to make it yet but hope to do so tonight.... summer squash pizza with garlic and spinach (or in your case... chard)

Monday, July 19, 2010

week six

This week you received some new items, and *gasp* no kale or chard. Though I did make a big pile of kale and beet chips last night and proceeded to inhale the whole batch before even bothering to remove them from the tray. Yum.
This was our first cucumber harvest and there just wasn't enough for all the shares to get some, so partials received a head of lettuce instead. Everyone has a small bunch of carrots, a bag of beans, bunching onions, a couple beets, a big wad of sweet basil (including opal), a bunch of sage, thyme, oregano and rosemary. Those of you who asked for them also received a bag of cooking apples.

Thanks to our new herb garden we're giving out a ton of herbs this year. I've said it before and I'll say it again - there are tons of ways to preserve herbs and if the blog posts don't give you enough ideas just email me and I'll provide some more. Drying, freezing, pesto-ing, and butter are just a few. You might get tired of them now but you'll definitely appreciate having them all winter. And they can seriously be used in pretty much anything - pasta, eggs, pork/beef/chicken/fish, vegetables, marinades, dips, and even desserts. Earlier this week we made herb-y grilled corn: tossed a large bunch of chopped herbs in some melted butter and painted it onto the ears of corn as they roasted on the grill. Herbs even look and smell pretty awesome in a bouquet on your kitchen table. My favorite use of the beans is to blanch them in boiling water, chop any or all of those herbs you received and smother them in melted butter, mix with the beans and a dash of kosher salt.

Next week we'll have more potatoes along with garlic and shallots. You should have some heads of savoy and red cabbage as well. I expect the cucumbers and beans to keep rolling in, and we might throw in some green and hot peppers. I've been expecting the raspberries to be ripe for weeks now so I'm going to go ahead and stop promising that.... they'll just show up in shares one of these days as a happy surprise. Some of you coming to the farm for pick up went into the produce garden with me for a taste of the just-starting-to-ripen husk cherries... Think tiny cherry tomato meets pineapple and vanilla. Sounds strange, tastes delicious.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

week five

This week you received more kale & chard, white & purple bunching onions, a mix of beets (early wonder, chioggia, and golden), a variety of new potatoes (nicola, yellow fin, red gold, purple viking), dill, flat leaf parsley, and a mix of basil (lemon, lime, cinnamon). I just found an amazing recipe for pasta with beets and spring onions - you can also use some of your chard in this one -

There are a ton of options for cooking beets, and most of them start with roasting. Rub the beets with olive oil, wrap in tin foil and roast in the oven for about an hour. When they're done they'll be perfectly roasted and easy to peel. From there you can cook up some of your chard and beet greens and serve them with the sliced roasted beets - perhaps drizzled with some balsamic and honey. Goat cheese and beets with their greens are my absolute favorite combination. At CSA pick up this week I heard someone talking about slicing them raw and baking them into beet chips. That sounded super tasty so I found a bunch of recipes to try here: Why not get crazy and make beet and kale chips?? I just blew your mind a little, didn't I.

If you're having trouble keeping up with the weekly onslaught of herbs and need more ideas for using and preserving, just ask me for some more hints. I know I keep saying this, but they can improve the flavor and jazz up pretty much any dish. I would chop the dill and parsley with some garlic, toss them in olive oil and a bit of salt with those new potatoes, and roast them. Fast, simple, yummy. In the comments I posted two recipes from CSA member Rachel Kottler, for basil parfait and basil sorbet - either of which would be pretty amazing using the lemon and lime basil.

We're starting to pick a lot of beans and cucumbers at the farm this week, and we've got a batch of carrots ready as well. The raspberries are still trickling in and some of you who come for farm pick up had the chance to pick and sample some on Sunday. Here's hoping they're ready this week! And in other exciting news, I've been eating the first few cherry tomatoes the past few days... a Peacevine Cherry and Beam's Yellow Pear. They were, of course, delightful and I expect them to start ripening pretty quickly in the hot weather that's supposed to return this week.

Friday, July 9, 2010

It's on

We've recovered from a rocky spring and are starting to see some great results....

Danielle pulls the first shallot harvest... they're curing for a couple weeks then we'll have an abundance of these tasty gourmet delights


New potatoes (yellow fin, purple viking and red gold) and shallots - partners in tastiness. What makes a potato "new," you ask? They're just immature potatoes; smaller with thinner, more delicate skin, harvested when the flowers fall off the plant. Mature potatoes are harvested when the plant dies.
Dragon's tongue beans! These tasty heirlooms will be in your CSA shares in the next few weeks, along with other gourmet bush bean varieties like green Jade and Beurre de Roquefort yellow wax. Later this summer they'll be joined by the fantastically sweet Rattlesnake pole bean.
The first peppers and cukes, slowly but surely....

Looks like we'll have cherry tomatoes before the end of the month! These are two (soon-to-be) colorful heirlooms - Violet Jasper and Thai Pink Egg

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Churchview Farm does Digital Salad @ the Mattress Factory!

On Monday I had the opportunity to participate in a ridiculously fun day as part of the Community Art Lab summer camp program at the (amazingly cool) Mattress Factory museum in the North Side. Friend, CSA member and media artist Heather Mallak is leading the camp this summer and has some amazing projects lined up. Nutrition and local foods are part of the focus so Heather asked me to spend some time talking to the kids. They interviewed me and we gave a gigapan virtual tour of the farm (link below), talked about bees and chickens, and they tasted some veggies and edible flowers. They were a fun group of incredibly smart and creative kids, and I really had a blast. We brought some eggs for each of them to take home (many were convinced they could hatch them into chicks, despite how many times I tried to explain the incubation process), nasturtium seeds that they planted, and an assortment of our veggies for their Digital Salad project.

Photos from the day, along with the Churchview Farm gigapan virtual tours (2009 and 2010 farm tour) here:

Some info on the camp and Digial Salad project here:

Photos and interview from the day here: