Thursday, June 24, 2010

beets and carrots

Here they are - beets and carrots.

They are good companions, both in the garden and on the plate. Since you are receiving these abundant carrot greens, we thought this would be a fun link for you:

Who knew there was a carrot museum?!

I couldn't find anything about it in my brief search, but I suspect that carrot greens are similar to parsley. Parsley can dry up mother's milk. In my experience, once I was well established in the nursing relationship, a culinary dose of parsley did me no harm, but might be difficult in the early weeks of lactation. Interestingly, fennel has the opposite effect, promoting lactation and soothing baby bellies.

So, to store beets and carrots best, cut the tops off about an inch above the root and keep them bagged separately in the fridge.

Beets are great grated on a salad, steamed or baked into their prime sweetness, and served with butter (butter with dill?).

Here's another informative link for you - on beets:

Share your recipes, and enjoy your meals.

Week #5

Red Springs Family Farm
June 24, 2010 week 5

Lettuces Green Beans Yellow Squash
Cucumber Fresh Garlic Beets and Carrots
Fennel the first tiny red tomatoes
Herb bag: Basil & Dill Thyme a couple Green Onions

We’re ready for another rain, to cool and wet the soil, the plants, and us. What a scorcher of a week!

It seemed, at the end of last week, that we had too many bags of basil left over. If you got home without one, we’re sorry. It was a more hectic pick up than usual, with Coree’s sprained ankle (much improved this week, thanks), and the rest of our lives running at full tilt, too. If ever you find you’ve not gotten a desirable veggie in your basket, please let us know. We’ll try to make it up for you the next week.

What a basket this one is! We’re into roots, with beets, carrots, fennel bulbs, AND fruits with green beans, cucumbers and summer squash. The Yellow Crookneck summer squash is courtesy of our good friends up at Bugtussle Farm. We’ll be in patty pans soon. We wanted to send more Yokatta Na around this time, but the heat has taken a toll on that tender green, so we’ll have to wait for autumn to try again. Dill is a good companion flavor to both cucumber and beet. We’re entering into a richer salad season – more crispy!

If fennel is new to you, we’ll share some basics with you… the sweet, delicate anise flavor, can be used much like celery in soups, salads, stir-fries, and other dishes. When used raw, its distinct taste shines through. When cooked, it imparts a subtle but delicious quality to the finished dish.

Cut off the stalks where they emerge from the bulb. To use the feathery foliage as an herb, place the dry stalks upright in a glass filled with two inches of water, cover the glass loosely with a plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator for up to five days. The unwashed bulb will keep in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for at least a week. When you’re ready to use the fennel, remove any damaged spots or layers. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise and check the inner core. If it’s tough, remove it with a paring knife. Fennel should be washed carefully, because dirt can lodge between the layers of the bulb. Chop or mince the leaves for salads.

Here’s a nice simple recipe: Fennel and Potato Gratin Serves 4 to 6

1-2 medium fennel bulb, cut crosswise into 1/8-inch slices (about 2 cups)
2 cups thinly sliced Yukon gold potatoes (about 2 large potatoes)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 cups half-and-half 2 tablespoons butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly coat a shallow 2-quart baking dish with butter.
2. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a layer of fennel slices. Cover with half of the potato slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Repeat layers until you’ve used up slices.
3. Bring the half-and-half to a gentle boil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Pour it over the fennel and potato.
(Replace the half-and-half with whole milk for a less rich dish.)

We were pleased to complete the garlic harvest this week. One of the first hot days of this official summer-time was spent in the shade of our yard braiding fifty bulbs to a braid. We tied them over a strong sweet gum beam in the barn shed to cure and will be bringing them out from there to share with you. The leastest garlic must be shared first. There will be more, different varieties with slight variations of flavor and color, to be enjoyed as the season progresses. Though we recommend eating these fresh bulbs sooner rather than later, garlic stores extremely well. Keep the bulbs in a dark, dry, well-ventilated place at a cool room temperature. Most garlic will keep for several months this way. We will share more keeping tips through the season.

Garlic is one of our favorite medicines. Its anti-bacterial properties are documented, and it is in its most potent form when fresh, not dried, encapsulated, or un-smelly. We sometimes chop it fine and put a pinch on nice salty corn chips to get it down. It’s also extremely tolerable in the raw form in salad dressings and in guacamole (we really wish we could grow avocados here!). For a truly unusual and strangely delectable medicine, try boiling 3-4 cloves in 2 ½ cups veggie stock or water; simmer for 10 minutes (if you have an upset stomach, add a few slices of fresh ginger to the pot). Turn off the heat and add 2 Tbsp honey and 1 tsp miso. Drink this hot at the first sign of cold or sore throat.

And carrots – yum. Since the blight hasn’t damped down their greens, here’s a fancy festive variation on carrots soup for you, and check the blog for a neat link:
Cream of Carrot Top Soup

1 lg yellow onion, diced 3 mashed cloves of fresh peeled garlic
2 Tbsp butter 1 tsp thyme leaves
4 cups stock or broth 6 large carrots, coarsely chopped
2 med potatoes, chopped 1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt ½ tsp ground black or white pepper
About 1 cup milk or ½ & ½ 2 Tbsp softened butter
2 Tbsp chopped parsley 2 cups young carrots greens
1 quart boiling water 2 tsp. salt
1 ½ cups lightly whipped cream

Saute onion and garlic in butter until golden. Add thyme and cook one more minute. Add stock, carrots, potatoes, bay leaf, salt and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf and put mixture through a food processor or blender by batches. Puree to desired consistency.
Return puree to soup pot. Thin to consistency with milk or half and half, and bring soup to simmer. Stir in the softened butter by bits, and chopped parsley. Keep warm, don’t boil.
Pick over carrots tops, removing hard stems or yellow leaves. Plunge greens into the boiling water and when the water reboils add the salt. Remove from heat, drain, and puree greens in the blender or food processor with 2 cups of the pureed carrot soup.
To serve the soup, fill soup bowls 2/3 full with orange carrot soup. Ladle green carrot soup in the middle of soup bowl to fill it. Top soup with dollops of whipped cream, and enjoy!

If ever you feel lost with a vegetable, please feel free to email or call us with questions. We’re glad to help. We may begin posting extra recipes on the blog site or facebook. Please share your own favorites with us, and each other.

Next week – MORE – including blueberries and cheese!

Yours from the garden, the Entwistles

Be like the flower, turn your face to the sun. -- Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Newsletter week 4

Red Springs Family Farm
June 17, 2010 week 4

Lettuces Broccoli Kohlrabi
Green Beans Fresh Garlic
Herb bag: Basil Tulsi

Alright. It’s hot. With luck, maybe the early heat will mean a break in July or August. We’d like to think that way. Meanwhile, we spend some time each day refreshing ourselves in the creek. It is a lifesaver.

The May flood washed away our old swimming hole at the creek. What it left behind was a great improvement! The new hole is longer and deeper (over navel deep), and there’s a great kiddy pool right beside it. The fish and crawdaddies have all readjusted from the move and are happily nibbling our ankles again at every opportunity.

It has been great to hear you all chatting at pick ups. This is where the “community” part of “community supported agriculture” begins. We appreciate those of you who have been with us for awhile (fourth season for some of you!) sharing your experiences with new-comers. We know that it is often a big adjustment to eat from your basket. But we believe it is an adjustment for the better (it sure has been for us!), and one you will come to enjoy more and more in time. The food you receive each week from our gardens is fresher than any that can be bought at a grocery store. It has more vitality. Also, your food money stays local. Grocery store dollars go a lot of different places; not much of it sticks around. A good deal of what you pay for your membership with us goes right back into the maintenance and care of the land.

A word about medicinal uses of food and herbs…. The garden has long been the poor man’s apothecary. It is certainly ours. Last week a few of you pointed out medicinal properties in Burdock Root that we hadn’t noted in our newsletter. Thank you. We tracked down the information in our favorite exhaustive herbal. Burdock is a mild uterine stimulant. Coree’s confident that is quite mild, as we ate more than a couple pots of miso soup with burdock root during the late winter, early in the first trimester of this pregnancy. That said, burdock, and many of the plants and herbs we will give you throughout the season, DO have medicinal properties. We will highlight them on occasion, but generally, we do not give enough of any herb or food to make a radical change in your chemistry, and we are careful not to give you anything with a high chronic toxicity. We love and trust gentle herbs like catnip, mint, and tulsi.

Those serrated little fragrant leaves and long purple flowers in your herb bag are Tulsi. Tulsi has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda (traditional medicine of India). It is considered helpful in adapting to stress, and believed to promote longevity. We love it in tea (iced with a squeeze of fresh lemon) and think it’s smell is simply heavenly. Tulsi is also called Thai holy basil (not the same as Thai basil or lemon basil), and commonly used in Thai cuisine, especially in poultry, beef, or pork stir fry dishes.

The first sprigs of sweet basil are also included in this week’s herb bag. Just a taste, and enough of a clipping to stimulate the growth of the basil plants. You will be seeing MUCH MORE basil in your baskets in the weeks to come.

We will need your cheese order no later than next week. You can drop us an email to let us know what you would like, or just tell us at the next pick up. Aged cheddar is $9/lb, and
Blue is $14/lb.

Blueberries will start in July! Yippeee! I’m already eyeing recipes for raw blueberry pie.

This week we’re cleaning out the brassicas. The intense heat and sent everything through the roof. The kohlrabi couldn’t take much more, so this is the last of them. The broccoli may decide to make side-shoots, or maybe not. Could be the last we see of these crops until Fall. But green beans are harbingers of summer and we’re so glad to have them. Considerable time was spent on our knees this week, pulling particularly persistent (but fortunately shallow-rooted) weeds from between bean rows. The beans are free and clear now, and blooming well.

I’ve been hearing some trepidation about using your kohlrabi. Have no fear. Just peel it and grate it on a salad if you can’t bring yourself to try this:

Kohlrabi ‘n’ Carrot Slaw
1 lb kohlrabi (about 4 medium bulbs), peeled, grated 1 red bell pepper, diced
2 large carrots, grated 1 small red onion, diced (1/2 cup)
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme 1 large clove garlic, minced
½ cup sour cream 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups wine vinegar 1 ½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp salt ¼ tsp black pepper

1) Toss the kohlrabi, carrots, bell pepper, onion, thyme, and garlic in a large bowl.
2) Whisk the sour cream, oil, vinegar, chili powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
3) Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

Also, please try this great green bean recipe:

Green Bean Salad (Loobeye Mutabali – From the Tables of Lebanon)
¾ lbs fresh green beans 1-2 small cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup fresh lemon juice 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

Trim the ends off the green beans and wash in cold water. Break into 2-inch pieces. Cook in salted water until tender (guesstimate: 4 minutes). Drain and cool.
Mix the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Pour over the green beans, and toss well.

Carrots and beets may be ready next week, fennel too.

And even though it won’t be next week, we have to report our excitement about the early tomatoes. They are doing great, and we very much look forward to sharing them with you.

Your gardeners, Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle

“I’m a great one for places. This farm’s just full of places I’ve picked out to spend a day sitting in, if I ever get time to do it. Cool places or quiet ones, with water running or an overlook. I’ve thought of some of them nearly all my life. And looks like I’ve never had time to sit down and be still very long in a one.”
~ Wendell Berry, A Place on Earth

Friday, June 11, 2010

Newsletter Week 3

Red Springs Family Farm
June 10, 2010 week 3

Lettuces Broccoli Day Lilies
Greens mix: radish, beet, chard
Herb bag: Sorrel Onion Greens
Snow Peas Anise Hyssop Green coriander

Quite the rain we’ve had. Over three inches fell fast yesterday. Your greens are rain washed today for sure, even if they don’t seem any cleaner for it! They will need an extra rinse to get the soil splashes off the undersides of the leaves. The road has stayed mostly passable, and all the veggies are still standing, so we’re grateful.

It was a big work week here, mulching, caging, staking and stringing up tomatoes, doing more planting and transplanting, and trying to overcome the rapidly growing weed population. Cucumbers are busy blossoming, and there should be green beans next week. Early tomatoes are loaded with green fruit, and the main season tomatoes are blooming well and setting a nice stand of green globes also. Paul has spotted the first pepper bloom, and Lulah is busy eating the wild black raspberries that grow in our driveway (come visit if you want any).

Our Fordhook chard and beets were badly in need of thinning, and the left-over radish greens looked delicious, so we’ve made the most of our garden work for the benefit of your palate. The beets are red (enjoy those little tiny beets at the bottom of them too!), the chard is green. The radishes are the small, prickly greens. You might be able to see why the Australians call chard “silverbeet”. They are certainly similars. If you’re not sure about these radish greens, just think about broccoli raab. They’re a little spicy, but still tender. I recommend using all the greens together. Wash them in a big bowl, rinse twice to get the rain grit out. Chop or tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Sauté greens until tender (with the water still clinging to them from their washing), in a covered pot or large pan with olive oil a pinch of salt, and garlic or onion. These greens are best enjoyed with just a few minutes of cooking. The chard and beet greens are both nice in salads too.

Broccoli is such beloved and pesky vegetable. We had been having a wonderful broccoli spring, up until last week! The heat sent the heads shooting skyward and all the cabbage loper eggs hatched in one night. So – soak your broccoli in lightly salted water for about five minutes before you eat it. This should send any living critter scrambling for the surface. Eat these heads as soon as you can. They are fresher than anything you can buy in the store, but they were not picked this morning (unfortunately). Broccoli does not stand in the field, especially on hot sunny days. The branches reach skyward and want to burst into bloom. We have to harvest the heads and keep them cool until we can get them to you.

Oddities in the herb bag this week: Anise Hyssop. This is a beautiful plant. You’ll notice the distinctive anise smell, the crinkly heart-shaped leaves, and the pretty purple flowers. The leaves and flowers are both edible and wonderful in vegetable and fruit salads, teas, and baked goods. The flower flavor is stronger than the leaves, so adjust accordingly.

Snow Peas – just a handful – but we’re glad to have enough to share at all, considering the beating they took in the May flood. Here’s an idea: pop the seeds off the stems of the green coriander and heat them in butter or coconut oil in a skillet. When the seeds are fragrant, throw in the snow peas, and stir fry just for a couple minutes. Salt to taste and enjoy on rice, or noodles, with a salad, or on their own.

In other food related notes: if you want eggs from us, please let us know over email or at pick up a week ahead of time. We’re trying to honor everyone’s requests, and we appreciate your patience and cooperation as we get the season rolling.

We hope you’re enjoying your cheese selection this month. For June, we’re thinking about Aged Cheddar ($9/lb, $5/half lb), and Barren Co. Blue ($12/lb, $6/half lb). Check out the description for the Barren Co. Blue: “It has a firm yet springy blue veined interior with a tangy slightly acidic, ripe flavor. It’s our ‘Stilton Wannabe’. The perfect after-dinner cheese course, and pairs well with fruits and nuts.” Think it over, give us feedback on your cheese experience so far, and let us know what you would like no later than June 24.

Also, we anticipate the blueberries beginning at the end of this month, as well. Hidden Springs will bring berries to order each week for as long as they last. You can place a standing order, or just let us know week to week what you want. Contemplate your weekly blueberry needs (and how many you’d like to freeze). Hopefully the price will still be around $6/lb (one pound is nearly a quart). We’ll keep you posted.

Here’s a wonderful broccoli recipe:
Broccoli, with Asian-Style Dressing
1 medium head of broccoli ½ cup rice wine vinegar
3 Tbsp peanut oil 2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger ½ tsp minced garlic
½ tsp toasted sesame oil ½ tsp hot chili oil (optional)

1. Separate florets from the stalk; break into smaller florets. Cut the stalk into 1-inch lengths and then into matchstick size strips (carrots are also nice to add in here).
2. Place the broccoli in a steamer basket set of 1 ½ inches boiling water and cover. Steam for 5 minutes. Transfer the broccoli to a bowl.
3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl; stir until well combined. Pour the dressing over the broccoli and mix well.

With luck, we’ll have more broccoli next week, and maybe finish off that row of kohlrabi as well. The green beans are coming on strong, too.

We hope you’re enjoying the summer. Have a good weekend and week, and eat well!

Your gardeners,
Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle

“I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green.”
~Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse

Thursday, June 3, 2010

newsletter 6-3-10 week 2

Red Springs Family Farm
June 3, 2010 week 2

Lettuces Rainbow Chard
Gobo Kohlrabi
Herb bag: Mint Mizuna
Onion Greens Garlic Scapes

We hope everyone had a safe and good Memorial Day weekend. It’s been a sparkling and sizzling week in the garden. We’ve been amazed at the rapid growth of EVERYTHING out here. It’s really been a lovely, if a little bit hot, week. There’s alot to say about the veggies…
“We have grown a fleet of alien spacecraft to the fields—green and purple orbs growing lightly on the soil, antennas splayed in all directions. If we left them there long enough, they might actually levitate. These oddities are in fact fellow earthlings and relatives of broccoli. Kohlrabi initiates know what a treasure these outlandish vegetables are in the kitchen. Their sweet crunch is excellent cooked or raw.” (Thank you Farmer John.)

For kohlrabi storage, wrap the whole unwashed kohlrabi in a plastic bag and keep it in the refrigerator. Use the bulb within two weeks. To prepare, rinse kohlrabi under cold running water just before use. Unless the skin seems particularly tough, kohlrabi does not have to be peeled. Just trim off the remains of the stalks and root. Grate, slice, or chop kohlrabi as desired.
You can grate it or slice it julienne for a salad. Use it in a slaw with carrots, or mash it with potatoes (it’s still a early for our carrots and potatoes). It’s also excellent sautéed (thin slices) with butter, a garlic scape, salt to taste, and a bit of fresh lemon juice at the end.

GOBO? Burdock root is another word for it. We use it as medicine, and food. It seems to be a fairly common ingredient in Japanese cooking, and works great in a miso soup. Miso soup is one of the most versatile, forgiving, nourishing, and delicious home cookings one can do (in my opinion). Here are some hints:

One quart of water makes soup for 2-4 people depending on how hungry they are and how much a meal you want to make from the soup. Heat the water. Add seaweed – digitata, kombu, or another variety. This simmers into a broth, which then receives the root vegetables – gobo (scrubbed well, sliced lengthwise, then into thin half moons), carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, or whatever you like. After roots, mushrooms are nice. We love shiitakes, but almost any kind will work in a soup. Wipe away visible dirt and slice to comfortable sized pieces. You can add left-over beans, diced tofu, finely sliced greens (Yokatta Na would be great here), and definitely fresh garlic or scapes. When you’ve added everything you want to the pot, and the root vegetables are tender, turn off the flame. Remove a cup of the stock and mash about 3 Tbsp of miso into the separated broth. For a heartier soup, you can also add 2 Tbsp tahini at this time. Blend the miso into the broth so that it is not chunky, then return it to the pot and stir. Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings, adding more miso or a little tamari, as needed. Garnish with chopped green onion. If you have left-over soup, reheat it gently, taking care not to boil it, as too much heat will kill the beneficial life of the miso.

If it’s too hot for you to eat soup, doing a quick internet search for Gobo recipes will turn up a wealth of Japanese cooking tips and interesting gobo ideas – kinpira gobo sounded good to me!
Lettuces this week are Speckled and Oak Leaf. We think they are spectacular specimens of what lettuce can be. Hopefully, you’ll agree.

In your herb bag today you will find Mizuna. It is the light green feathery shaped leaf. We’ve heard that some folks add it to stir fry. We prefer it’s crisp peppery taste in salad. Onion greens are thinnings from the onion patch, which is looking good. These might be the last of the garlic scapes (pigtails) – have fun with them! And mint – so good for these hot days. Make an iced tea if you like that sort of thing, or cut the leaves into a salad for a cooling bite here and there.

The Rainbow Chard is really doing great, and we love sharing the beautiful colors with you. We make Chard the fast and easy way: chop, wash, and sauté real fast with some butter and garlic in a cast iron skillet. Salt and pepper, a little dash of vinegar, and the greens are gone in a flash.

But if you have any hesitations about these greens, here’s another recipe to help your palate
– its’ a real winner:

Chard with Sweet and Sour Ginger Sauce
1 cup stock, broth, or water ½ lb chard, in bite sized pieces
4 scallions (or onion greens) sliced thin salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp white or balsamic vinegar 1 Tbsp light brown sugar (or honey or sorghum)
1 Tbsp finely chopped or grated fresh ginger 1 tsp red pepper flakes
Handful of raisins (optional)

1) Bring stock or water to a boil in a large skillet or pot. Add the chard and cook, stirring, until it is wilted, just over 1 minute.
2) Drain the chard, saving the cooking liquid. Transfer the chard to individual plate and garnish with scallions. Season with salt and pepper.
3) Pour the reserved cooking liquid back into the skillet or pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add raisins if you like. Boil it until it is reduced to about 1/3 cup, about 8 minutes. Add the vinegar and brown sugar. Stir in the ginger and red pepper. Boil for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and spoon the mixture over the chard. Enjoy immediately.

It’s fun to be bringing you cheese this week. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do. If you didn’t get an order in this month, then hopefully you’ll get a chance for July. I’ll be happy to hear your suggestions for which varieties of cheese you’d like to try. Here’s how it works: We will rotate two varieties to be available each month. You let us know how much cheese you want by the week BEFORE it is delivered. Kenny and his crew make up a special order for us, and I have to give them good notice so they have it ready for me to pick up. We’ll let you know which 2 varieties will be available by next week, and will collect your orders for July until June 24 (week 5).

Next week, we’ll have broccoli! The day lilies are coming on, too.

Thanks for your support and good eating.

Your gardeners, Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle

“That we should have an agriculture based as much on petroleum as on the soil – that we need petroleum exactly as much as we need food and must have it before we can eat – may seem absurd. It is absurd. It is nevertheless true.” – Wendell Berry