Thursday, November 20, 2008

Newsletter week 25 - Happy Thanksgiving

Red Springs Family Farm
November 20, 2008, Week #25

This week:
Broccoli Lettuce Pumpkins
Cornmeal Parsley Mizuna
Arugula Komatsuma or Tat soi
Celery Potatoes Garlic

“I built me a flame late one night. When day is done, God will my flame never die.” When Paul tip-toed downstairs at 4:30 on Wednesday morning to fetch me a cough drop (Thank you!) it was 16 degrees out-doors down in the hollow. Our Norwegian woodstove (where the quote above is written in cast iron) keeps us cozy in here, and for that we’re so grateful.

Wonder of wonders, the lettuce survived the freeze. The Broccoli showed no signs of damage, and so we’ve got this beautiful food for you! Next week is Thanksgiving, and so there will be no food delivery – Happy Thanksgiving! The following week – December 4 – as long as sub-zero temperatures do not destroy every 7 pound Chinese cabbage standing in the field, we will return. Watch your email for updates.

This baggy of two cups of cornmeal is from our own field corn – an heirloom rainbow variety. The stalks shoot up over 10 feet tall and many ears set 6 feet high. It’s a beautiful corn, and we enjoy the fresh corny-ness in cornbread, polenta, and anywhere cornmeal is called for. Keep it in the fridge so the oils don’t go rancid. A couple of good recipes are included below.

Our favorite cornbread:
2 cups freshly ground cornmeal 1 tsp salt
1 tsp. baking soda 1 goodly dollop of honey or sorghum
2 eggs, beaten 2 cups buttermilk, soured milk, or diluted yogurt
2 Tbsp. Oil, butter, or lard

Preheat the oven at 425. We like to use an 8 or 10 cast iron skillet – and if you do too, then put it in the oven to heat now, with the butter or lard in it. Don’t do this if you’re not using cast iron! Just grease your 8-9 inch pan and melt the butter. Mix the cornmeal, salt, and soda in a bowl. In a four cup measuring cup, or smaller bowl, beat the eggs, add the buttermilk, and then thoroughly mix in the honey or sorghum. Add the wet to the dry, mixing quickly and thoroughly. The batter should be plenty wet. Pour most of the hot oil into the batter, then quickly pour the batter into the sizzling skillet and put it in the oven for about 30 minutes. This is a very corny cornbread – if you need to soften it a little – just add a ¼ or ½ cup wheat flour.

Or try Polenta, from The American Heritage Cookbook:

1 cup cornmeal 3 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp salt Paprika
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring 3 cups water to a rolling boil. Combine cornmeal with 1 cup cold water and salt. Stir into boiling water and cool, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Pour into a loaf pan and refrigerate until firm. Shortly before serving, cut the Polenta into slices and ½ inch thick and place in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, dot with butter, and shake paprika over all. Broil about 4 inches from tip of preheated broiling unit until brown – 4-5 min.
Just a note on the celery – for those of you who might not have encountered it earlier in the season – this is not celery for stuffing with peanut butter or cream cheese. It’s weathered a long season now, and been hit severely by the last couple nights’ freezing weather. However, it packs a celery flavored punch that will enliven tomato soups and make dressings and stuffings sing.

Now for the sweetness, a very traditional Thanksgiving recipe (and commentary) also from the excellent American Heritage Cookbook:

Pumpkin pie,” according to The House Mother, “if rightly made, is a thing of beauty and a joy – while it lasts… Pies that cut a little less firm than a pine board, and those that run round your plate are alike to be avoided. Two inches deep is better than the thin plasters one sometimes sees, that look for all the world like pumpkin flap-jacks. The expressive phrase ‘too thin’ must have come from these lean parodies on pumpkin pie. With the pastry light, tender, and not too rich, and a generous filling of smooth spices sweetness – a little ‘trembly’ as to consistency, and delicately brown on top – a perfect pumpkin pie, eaten before the life has gone out of it, is one of the real additions made by American cookery to the good things of the world. For the first pumpkin pie of the season, flanked by a liberal cut of creamy cheese, we prefer to sit down, as the French gourmand said about his turkey: ‘with just the two of us; myself and the turkey!’”

Pastry for a 1-crust pie ½ tsp ginger
2 cups cooked pumpkin ½ tsp salt
2/3 cup brown sugar, ¾ cup milk
Firmly packed 2 eggs, well beaten
2 tsp. cinnamon 1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup brandy

Prepare pastry, line a 9-inch pie pan, and refrigerate while you make the filling. Combine pumpkin, sugar, spices, and salt in a mixing bowl. Then beat in milk, eggs, cream, and brandy with a rotary beater or an electric mixer. Pour into unbaked pastry shell and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 1 hour or until a knife inserted in center comes out dry. Cool. Serve plain, or with Cheddar cheese or whipped cream mixed with ginger (use 1 cup heavy cream and 2 Tbsp chopped crystallized ginger).

We’re certainly grateful for bounty of the season past, and for all we’ve learned this year as we’ve expanded production and gotten to know you all. Thank you for your support, your good eating, and your general kindness to our family. We hope to meet you again and again in the winter and spring to come. We wish you very happy and healthy holidays.

Peace be with you.

The Entwistles

“…the ratio between consumed substance and achieved effect in a bird that migrates from the Arctic to the Antarctic is of a scale that men cannot achieve technically. The comparison between bird flight and an airplane demonstrates this clearly. The more we understand and follow this “wisdom” in nature, this outspread “spirit,” the more rationally and therefore economically we can organize the farms of tomorrow. The profit motivation, applied to nature, has led to vast depletion of soil and dangerous exploitation of animal and plant material. If we follow the spirit in nature, we put into our service both the rationale and the economy of nature. This, ultimately, is the basis of the life of humanity.” - Trauger Groh, The Farms of Tomorrow

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Newsletter # 24

Red Springs Family Farm
November 13, 2008, Week #24

This week:
Lettuce Spinach Collard Greens
Parsley Mizuna Radishes
Arugula Butternut & Acorn Squash
Variable herbs – sage, lemon balm, mint
Surprise! Green Peppers

Your produce has been washed by the morning fog. We’re glad it’s not pouring this morning, and have enjoyed slogging through the big wet leaves to see what lies beneath the row covering. The collards were breathtaking. I took some pictures and will put them on the web for you.

Fetching some potatoes at our neighbors cave, I stumbled across these perfectly preserved green peppers. What a treat! There’s also spinach in with your lettuce this week, which we hope you will enjoy. We’ve not found the right place and time to really make spinach thrive here yet, but the results are improving. This is just enough to enjoy, and we’ll be trying to keep it through until Spring for a fresh crop of extra tender dark green leaves.

Thanks for your feedback of the last few weeks. We appreciate knowing what works and doesn’t for you, and it seems like the word is in that chicory is not the winning the popularity contest. That’s very good to know. Maybe next year we’ll try fennel instead?

I’ve got some winning recipes this week….

Something new: New South Falafel (from Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon)

½ cup cooked brown or white rice (cooked until very soft, preferably short grain)
1 cup cooked fresh greens (spinach or collard will do), well drained and finely chopped
¼ onion, finely diced 1 (15 or 16 oz) can black-eyed peas, well drained
1 Tbsp. cornstarch 2 cloves garlic
Leaves from 3-4 mint stems 1 large egg
½ tsp. salt ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. minced fresh sage leaves cayenne to taste
2 Tbsp. minced Italian Parsley ½ to ¾ cup crisp breadcrumbs – cornbread works great

1. Place the rice, onion, and half of the black-eyed peas in a medium bowl. Using a potato masher, mash well, but not to a paste; the peas should still have some texture. Stir in the chopped spinach.
2. Place the other half of the black eyed peas in a food processor. Add the cornstarch, garlic, mint, egg, salt, pepper, sage, and cayenne. Process until smooth, pausing several times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the parsley and breadcrumbs and pulse/chop a few times.
3. Combine this mixture with the mashed black-eyed pea mixture in the bowl. Taste and season to your liking, amping up any of the spices, salt, or pepper. Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes, or as long as overnight, so it can firm up.
4. Preheat the oven to 350. Remove the mix from the fridge and shape into flattened discs, 25-30 small ones or 12-16 larger ones. Place them on an oiled baking sheet, and bake for 25 minutes. Flip over and bake for 5 more minutes, or until brown.
5. Serve on split biscuits, drizzled with peanut sauce. Eat as soon as assembled and enjoyjoyjoy!

New South Peanut Sauce: Combine all ingredients in a food processor and buzz until smooth.
¼ cup natural style peanut butter ½ cup cold water
1-2 oz. silken tofu juice of 1-2 lemons
2 cloves garlic salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste

And something traditional: Collard Greens (from The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American)

BIG bunch of collard greens salt and pepper to taste
2 cups chicken soup stock dash of Tobasco
2 Tbsp. bacon drippings

Wash the greens very well. Shake dry and coarsely chop. Place them in a kettle and pour the chicken broth on top. Bring to a full boil, then lower the heat and keep the pot at a heavy simmer until the greens are tender and to your liking. Add the seasonings and bacon fat. It is traditional to cook collards for a longer period of time.

Here’s a repeat recipe from last year that is so delicious.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sage and Hazelnuts This recipe usually requires at least 2 cups of flour; so don’t panic if you need to add more to make the texture right. 1 1/2 lb butternut squash 1 eggSalt and Pepper 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg1 1/2cups flour or more 8 T butter24 sage leaves 1/2 cup toasted hazelnutsThree-quarters cup grated Parmesan cheese Half, remove the seeds from and bake the squash until very tender at 400 F. Puree the pulp and let sit in a strainer for 30 minutes. Add the egg, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and enough flour to form a dough that holds together. Knead until no longer sticky, adding flour as needed. Roll the dough into two ropes, about 1 inch in diameter. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Slice off half-inches of the dough. Press the pieces with a fork in a curving motion to make depressions. Drop the gnocchi into the water. Cook 8-10 at a time until they float, drain in a slotted spoon, and slip into a buttered dish. Heat the butter in a pan, add sage leaves and hazelnuts until lightly browned. Toss with the gnocchi. Top with Parmesan and serve.

We hope next week to offer you pumpkins, broccoli, and maybe even cornmeal for your Thanksgiving celebration. Thanks for taking part in our harvest.

Peace be with you.
Paul, Coree, and Lulah

“Now we let the microscope and the stock market, not the cosmos and ideals, dictate our actions: we want to save time, money, effort and discomfort; and we sow seeds of disharmony, illness and ultimately death. Can we embrace once more with reverence and awareness, those processes that appear to be outmoded or old-fashioned but which are, in their very nature, the keys to the wisdom and miraculous quality of our natural world?” – G√ľnther Hauk, Toward Saving the Honeybee

Thursday, November 6, 2008

newsletter week#23 - storage tips

Red Springs Family Farm
November 6, 2008, Week #23

This week:
Lettuce Kale Winter Squash
Sweet little Pac Choi Beet Greens
Parsley Mizuna Radishes & Sorrel
Garlic Thyme Rosemary & Oregano
White Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes

What a beautiful time in the garden. The hollow is bathed in the rusty gold color of the oak leaves as they twinkle and blow down the hills. We have so much food – it’s really outrageous. If you or anyone you know would enjoy extra greens - let us know! We would love to sell nice sized bags of kale, on its own, for $5. Same goes for Asian stir fry greens. Extras of winter squash, especially butternuts, and sweet potatoes are available for $1 per pound ($25/half bushel, $45/full bushel). White Potatoes also at $15/half bushel and $30/bushel (60 cents/lb). This is a great deal on organic food. If you want to put up food for mid-winter use, now is the time.

The gardens are astounding. I really thought that we would be sending two kinds of kale today, but after picking the Red Russian Kale, it was clear that more would not be needed. We’ll have either Dinosaur (Nero di Toscano) Kale or Collards next week, along with more sweet potatoes and spinach, too.

The length of the day is in steady decline. It seems like the stars are out by 3 in the afternoon down in the hollow. Shadows get long early. It’s such a nice time to be getting other things done! I’ll not bore you with the entire to-do list, but we’ve been busy bees working on projects that have been neglected since April. Paul painted the exterior of the house addition this week, so the two halves of our home match now. We also hope to lay the floor on the deck extension, making the new front door functional, soon. AND, Lulah’s new birthday swing set should go up this weekend – now THAT’S some exciting news.

Some of you will have some cute little mini pumpkin looking squash this week. They were a wild card in our garden. For a couple years now we’ve saved seed from a special Japanese squash called Black Futsu. This year, something happened to that seed, and these little buttery nuggets are the result. Oh well. We do love biodiversity.

I’ve been enjoying the squashes so much. We sometimes bake them on a cool morning that doesn’t need a fire in the woodstove, just to warm the house, then use them however seems fit. They are a wonderful nutty, creamy addition to oatmeal or morning porridge. They also make a nice fit blended with pesto and pasta. They make soups creamy, and sweeten the acidic edge of tomato soups in a pleasant and gentle way.

If you are not keeping up with eating the squashes and potatoes – here’s some storage tips:

Winter Squash
Store winter squash in a cool, dry, dark place with good ventilation. Porches and garages work well as long as they don’t freeze. They should keep for several months depending on the variety. We’ve had butternut squashes keep well into the next summer. Acorns go more quickly than butternuts and pumpkins. You can also incorporate winter squash in to a beautiful table arrangement. They won’t keep quite as long at room temperature, but if they’re already on your table, you might be inspired to eat them more quickly. Once squash has been cut, you can wrap the pieces in plastic and store them in the refrigerator for five to seven days.

Sweet Potatoes
Keep unwashed sweet potatoes in a cool (not cold), dark place, such as a loosely closed paper bag in a cupboard or cool basement, and use them within a few months. Do not store sweet potatoes in the refrigerator; cold temperatures can darken the potatoes and will adversely affect their taste. While we have kept sweet potatoes in good form until the following summer, the peak flavor and texture is definitely in the winter months.

Keep unwashed potatoes in a cool, dark, dry place – such as a loosely closed paper bag in a cupboard. They will keep for weeks at room temperature, longer if you can provide their ideal temperature of 40-50 degrees. Beware: If your refrigerator is set at the normal refrigerator temperature, somewhere in the 30s, the low temperature will convert the starch to sugars. Moisture causes potatoes to spoil, light turns them green, and proximity to onions causes them to sprout. You can trim off sprouted eyes and small green spots and still have a find potato experience.

Kale and White Bean Soup with sun-dried tomatoes and saffron, serves 4-6
Adapted by Angelic Organics from the Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
½ tsp ground fennel seeds 1 ½ cups chopped onion
1 medium potato, diced 1 small carrot, chopped
1 small parsnip, chopped 1 ½ cups chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
6 cups veg or chicken stock 2 bay leaves
6-7 lg kale leaves, chopped 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
¾ cup cooked or canned (rinsed and drained) white beans
½ cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (drained)
Pinches of saffron, salt, and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and fennel seed; cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add the onion and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the parsnip and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes more.
2. Add the fresh or canned tomatoes. Pour in the stock. Stir in the bay leaves and oregano. Bring the mixture to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat so that it continues at a simmer.
3. Add the kale, beans, and sun-dried tomatoes. Simmer until the vegetables are just tender, 15-20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat; add the saffron.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy the season’s fluctuations – eat well – be well.

All our best regards,

The Entwistles

“…marketing is not community, and merchandising is not CSA. CSA is about a direct relation to the Earth and the people who work the Earth on your behalf. To the extent that this is understood and embraced, CSA will continue to thrive, whether as a parallel polis, or as a widely understood and appreciated part of the world economy.” – Steve McFadden, Farms of Tomorrow