Thursday, September 27, 2012

week 19

Lettuce            Butternut Squash       Swiss Chard Tomatoes         
 Peppers                       Eggplants       
Potatoes          Garlic              Beets and Hot Peppers
Herb bag:          Green & Purple Basil                 Cutting Celery        
Chives             Nasturtium     & more…

“It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants.  What are you industrious about?” ~ Thoreau

Pardon us if this newsletter is sparse.  It’s a busy time here.  The Biodynamic Conference happening this weekend occupies a lot of Coree’s mental space, plus there’s all the fall crops to hoe through, the storage crops to harvest, the last round of salsa to can, and dinner to make, never mind the laundry!

The cold snap snapped us into gear.  It was 35 degrees down here and some of our neighbors had frost on their hay bales.  That’s chilly!  The basil and peppers were untouched, thankfully, but we were motivated to get moving on the larger harvesting projects.  These beets are part of the big garden clean up.  They’re not so pretty, but still grate very nicely onto salads.

We’ve been combing the fields… Indian field corn, peanuts, winter squash, cowpeas, AND the sweet potatoes are beautiful and BIG.  We’re very pleased with how they’re coming up.  They are curing in the greenhouse and we’ll send out a round next week, when they’ve had a chance to sweeten up.  Until then, we hope you’ll make do with these beautiful butternuts. 

Butternut Squash Spice Cake (Thanks Michelle!)
1 small butternut squash                   ½ tsp baking soda
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour      ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp allspice                                       ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp ground cinnamon                     1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg             2 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder                          1 tsp vanilla
¾ tsp salt                                            optional powdered sugar or whipped cream

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds.  Place the squash halves, cut side up, on a baking pan, then cover with foil and bake until tender when pierced with a fork, 20-30 minutes.  Uncover and let sit until cool enough to handle, then use a spoon to scoop out the cooked squash from the peel.  Mash with a fork. Measure out 1 cup of squash and set aside any remaining for future use.
2) Turn oven down to 325.  Butter an 8x8 baking pan and set aside.
3) In a bowl, combine flour, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, salt, baking soda and pepper.
4) Cream together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until smooth and a bit fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition.  Mix in vanilla.
5)  Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir to combine.  Stir in the cup of mashed squash.  Add remaining flour mixture and stir just enough to combine.  Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes.  Serve plain or with a dusting of powdered sugar or dollop of whipped cream.
One of our goals this year was to re-establish our Indian Field Corn, and that project has been a success.  The corn is beautiful.  Once it is fully dried and we find a reasonable way to get a quantity of it ground to cornmeal, we will share it with you.  Freshly ground corn meal is a great experience.  We really love this variety of field corn.  Each ear is distinct in its coloration; harvesting is like a treasure hunt, peeling back the shucks and peeking inside at what variety of sunset colors, or deep blues, or pinky mauve, or whatever it is, might show on the kernels.

The season has flown.  Next week is the last of our Main-Season-Twenty-Week-Deliveries!  We’re contemplating our State of the Farm statement, and reflecting on the twists and turns of this season’s growing and harvest.  We will take a short break after next week, and then resume deliveries of salad and cooking greens, garlic and storage crops, for as long as the season allows.  A few of you have told us whether you’re “on board” or not.  Please make your intentions clear so we can create a working plan for the late season. 

A “comfort food” casserole to enjoy the peppers.  Notes on the recipe, indicate that you could replace one cup of peppers with one cup of cooked sausage with good results.
Pepper and Cheese Casserole (adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook)
Butter for greasing the baking dish               1 ½ cups uncooked bulgur
1 ½ cups boiling water                                  2 Tbsp butter
1 ½ cups chopped onion                               4 cups minced sweet peppers (green or otherwise)
1 ½ cups sliced mushrooms, any kind          1 ½ Tbsp tamari
1 ½ Tbsp dry sherry                                       1 tsp crushed dried marjoram
½ tsp salt                                                        fresh ground black pepper
1 ½ cups cottage cheese                                 ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
4 eggs, beaten, lightly salted                          paprika

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 2 qt casserole dish with butter.
2) Put the bulgur into a sauté pan and pour the boiling water over it.  Cover and let stand 15 min.
3) Melt butter in a medium skillet.  Add onions; sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the peppers and mushrooms; continue to cook until peppers are just becoming tender and the mushrooms have released their water, 5-7 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in tamari, sherry, marjoram, salt and pepper to taste; mix well.
4) In a small bowl, combine cottage cheese and feta cheese.
5) Spread the bulgur in the prepared baking dish.  Cover it with vegetables and then the mixed cheeses.  Pour the beaten eggs over everything; let the eggs seep through the ingredients by tapping the casserole dish on the counter a few times.  Sprinkle with paprika.  Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

next week: arugula, sweet potatoes, green tomatoes, more peppers, maybe some TN pumpkins!

Thank you for your good eating habits.  We hope that the food from our gardens has enriched your body and mind toward the greater health of your whole life, and mutual betterment of those around you.

Be well and we’ll see you next week!
Paul, Coree, Lulah and Levon

“A cabin, a garden, a warm fire,
enrich more than any wealth created by the economy...
…Get your living by what you love, and your life can never be bankrupt.” ~ J.M. White

Thursday, September 20, 2012

week 18

Lettuce            KALE              Tomatoes
Eggplant         Peppers           Acorn squash
Onions                        Potatoes      Garlic     
Herb bag:          Basil        Parsley    Arugula   Nasturtium  

“To the eyes of the (wo)man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.” ~ William Blake

We lit the wood stove Wednesday morning to knock the chill off.  Lulah was excited to wear footie jammies.  Levon, not so much.  Tomorrow is the Equinox.  We wish you equanimity on the Equinox.

The Acorn Squashes are a real treat.  We ate some of the white ones this week, like this:
Stuffed Acorn Squash
1) Split the squashes in half lengthwise and bake, split side down, in a pan with a little water in a medium oven until soft to poke.  You can do this in the morning. 
2) Saute in olive oil or butter two onions and a couple cloves of garlic with some diced sweet pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.  Throw in some finely chopped parsley and walnuts at the end.  Mix in and heat together with a couple cups of leftover grain – rice, millet, mashed potatoes might even be ok.
3) Gently scoop most of the flesh from each half of the acorn squash and add to the stuffing mix.  Taste and adjust seasonings. Return the mix to the acorn squash shells, grate a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top and return to the oven (cut side up this time) just long enough to melt the cheese and heat through.  Enjoy!

Cheese!  I’ve heard murmers of interest in that good Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese (see from time to time this season.  So we’re making an order – if enough of you are interested – we’ll bring it to town October 4 – the last delivery of the main season.  There have been some changes in the pricing.  All of these prices are for half pound blocks:

Asiago – 4.50              Barren Co. Blue – 4.75                       Cheddar (aged or mild) – 4.00
Colby (plain or chipotle) – 3.50         Mild Gouda – 4.00                 Monterey Jack – 3.50
Swiss – 4.50                Awe-Brie – 5.50                      Havarti – 3.50

If you’re interested in larger pieces, prices adjust down some.  A 5 pound block of Mild Cheddar costs 7.50/lb (37.50).  Inquire about other varieties’ bulk prices if you’re interested.  Find friends and split it up.  For cheese with integrity, the prices are actually good. 
Please send me your orders no later than Monday (September 23).  Thanks!

Also – if you’re wondering what to do next weekend (September 28-30), we highly recommend the Harvest Festival at Long Hungry Creek Farm.  Coree helps organize, and it’s a very fun and inspiring event for people interested in good food, alternative health, farming or gardening.  Meals are provided with the cost of registration, and the food is excellent.  Look up to see the schedule, details and directions to the farm.  Paul will be leading a seed saving workshop Friday afternoon.  We would be thrilled to see you there.

In other news around the hollow, the chickens have finally left the nest box!  Last week we hatched the last chick!  Only one egg was left un-hatched, and we have a grand total of 11 chicks, plus 1 turkey poult.  The smallest ones are still fluffy (we’ve pulled them inside to the warmth of the house these cold nights), and Stripes (the oldest chick) is getting real bird feathers now.  We sometimes call her/him Falcon these days, for the peculiar bird-of-prey look that comes across from time to time.  The chicks are great fun and we’re so glad that the mother hens are being motherly and cooperative in their shared coop. 

Spanish Tortilla with Sweet Pepper (a’la Martha Stewart)

1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving           1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced thick
1 sweet pepper (ribs and seeds removed), thin sliced          1 med onion, halved and thin sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper                                            8 large eggs
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish       1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium ovenproof skillet, heat oil over medium. Add potatoes, pepper, and onion; season with salt and pepper (skillet will be full). Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are crisp-tender, 14 to 16 minutes. Uncover, and cook off excess liquid, 1 to 2 minutes.
2) In a bowl, whisk together eggs, parsley, hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and teaspoon pepper. Pour egg mixture over vegetables in skillet, and stir to distribute evenly. With the back of a spatula, press down on vegetables so they lay flat and are submerged. 
3) Bake until tortilla is set, 12 to 16 minutes. To unmold, run a rubber spatula around edge of skillet to release tortilla; invert onto a serving plate. Drizzle tortilla with oil; garnish with parsley.

Red Pepper Triangles with Relish
Essentially, what we’re doing here is using the sweet pepper as a cracker!  Martha Stewart roasts them slightly.  I think you could use them, especially the very sweet red and yellow ones, RAW.

5 sweet peppers                                             2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper                    2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley                     1/4 cup chopped, pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus                       1 tablespoon juice
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes                   

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Cut tops and bottoms from peppers, then half lengthwise. Use a chef's knife to remove ribs and seeds. Cut peppers into rectangular planks, each about 3 inches long and 2 inches wide, then cut diagonally into 24 triangles.
2) On prepared sheet, toss bell pepper with 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Arrange skin-side down in a single layer and bake until just tender, 15 to 20 minutes; set aside to cool.
3) Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine prosciutto, parsley, olives, remaining tablespoon oil, lemon zest and juice, and red-pepper flakes. Top each pepper triangle with relish.


Note:  Make sure to take the peppers out of the oven before they get too soft. They should still be firm enough to hold the toppings. To store, refrigerate roasted peppers and relish separately, up to one day.

We’re beginning to grub up the sweet potatoes and clean up the fields now.  Looking forward to sharing those soon Thank you all for being part of our lives, our work.  We appreciate you.

Paul, Coree, Lulah and Levon Entwistle

Thursday, September 13, 2012

week 17 - our organic soapbox

Lettuce            KALE              Tomatoes
Eggplant         Peppers           Watermelon
Onions                        Potatoes      Garlic     
Herb bag:          Basil        Parsley    Red Hibiscus

“A study claims insufficient evidence that organic food is healthy. But as the President's Cancer Panel reports, avoiding food sprayed with carcinogens still makes sense.”

~ Leah Zerbe, Rodale News

We keep up with National news as much as we can on internet and radio, when we have a moment, but this week, the news hit us hard.  Stanford University’s study on the health benefits of organic versus conventional food hit the Big Time.  Of course, there has been a firestorm amidst the community of organic growers and consumers since then. It is worthwhile to note their observations.  For instance, the Cornucopia Institute points out that though the study was not directly funded by large bio-tech companies, the Freeman Spogli Institute, whose scientists published this study, is funded by none other than Cargill, the world’s largest conventional agricultural business enterprise.  To top it off, “Dr. Ingram Olkin, a Professor Emeritus in statistics at Stanford and co-author of the organics study, accepted money from the tobacco industry’s Council for Tobacco Research, which has been described as using science for “perpetrating fraud on the public.””  Enough said. Here's Cornucopia's link

If you look closely at the study it was a study of studies and its conclusion was not a condemnation of organics but a statement that there was not enough research to validate any claims that organics is superior. The studies we know of have only measured the effectiveness of organics as an agricultural system, as opposed to their nutritional output (link here).

So, we feel the need to make a couple statements about where we stand on this issue. 
1) We don’t think of ourselves simply as adults making decisions based solely on our own health.  We are people who love children (and would love children whether we had any or not) and make decisions based on the overall health of the living system (containing people, plants, animals, and a generally amazing array of life forms) that surrounds us all.
2) We believe that the purity of water is crucial to the future of humanity.  This links back to the first point – it’s not just about US.  Conventional agriculture, whether it is producing vegetable, grain, or animal products, has proven detrimental to water quality.  Carcinogens, estrogen mimic-ers, nitrates, anti-biotics, and more chemicals pour from their fields and feed lots into streams, into the ground, into the air, and no one knows exactly what effect they are having, but we (personally) feel that this does not constitute good stewardship of water, land or air, which are increasingly precious natural resources.
3) Humility is a virtue.  What we are call “conventional” agriculture (the chemical means of food production) is actually a brand new innovation in the history of agriculture.  We often hear that humans have been cultivating food for about 10,000 years.  The dawn of chemical agriculture was less than 100 years ago.  Consider then that the nutritional value of food has taken a rapid decline in the past 70 years.  It may behoove us to look at the long term effects of this “miracle of science” that modern agriculture has become.  “Food grown in nutrient deficient soils lacks the nutrients to keep people healthy.” (NutritionSecurity Institute, 2006)
5) This point begs the question – if the soil is deficient, is organic agriculture necessarily better?  The answer is – It Depends.  Some farmers grow “organically” by neglect and default.  Others follow the same model as conventional farms, putting in just enough to make a crop grow, only using organic inputs instead of conventional.  These are little less than mining operations.  Unfortunately, this is part of what is considered USDA Organic.  However, there are growers who manage their resources wisely and work with conscious respect to the needs of their land.  They recognize deficiencies and work to heal them, and they do their utmost to leave the soil and environment in better health than they found it.  This, to us, is truly good Farming, and good Stewardship.  That’s what we strive to do, AND we firmly believe that food grown in this manner will be quantifiably more nutritious than conventionally grown food.  We are not surprised that Stanford did not find studies of this nature to include in their review. 
6) One more point: the proof is in the pudding.  For the most part, organic growing operations are good neighbors.  Often, the gardens are beautiful, the animals are healthy and happy, and there are places to walk or have a picnic.  This can’t be said of the thousands of acres in central California where farm workers wear space suits in the field.  It’s certainly not true of the miles of feed lots in west Texas and Oklahoma where cattle stand knee deep in their own excrement.  It’s not even quite true of the mega blocks of corn and soybeans in the mid-West, which may be beautiful to see from a car or a plane, but would not be desirable to live amidst.  We wonder – if we can’t live around it, why do we think we should eat it?

Thanks for reading our soap box!  We’ll step down now and celebrate the coming of KALE!

This first cutting is so tender.  We’ve blended it with parsley into salads like tabbouli, and steamed it just a little and enjoyed it with butter and balsamic.  The cool weather has been GREAT for the fall brassicas.  The summer squash, cukes and okra are stalled out.

This may be the last big haul of eggplant!  It has been an eggplant marathon.  Thanks for your good humor with that.  Get ready for the peppers now.  And, when it rains…

These are the last watermelons.  Next week we’ll have Paydon’s Heirloom Acorn squash.

These nifty tips of the Red Hibiscus bush can be thrown into salads for a zing, or made into a beautiful red tea.  Enjoy.

Multi Pepper Salad with Fontina, adapted from From the Cook's Garden by Ellen Ogden

1.5 pounds Sweet peppers, roasted and cut into 1/4 inch strips
12 black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and coarsely chopped
6 ounces Fontina cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 1.5 cups)
2 Tablespoons heavy cream                          1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard                              1 tspoon finely chopped cutting celery OR parsley
1/4 cup best extra virgin olive oil                 S & P to taste

Combine the peppers, olives, and cheese. Mix the cream, lemon juice, mustard, and herb in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season with the S & P. Pour over the peppers and mix. Serve immediately.

Be well, eat well, and enjoy this changing season!                          Paul, Coree, Lulah and Levon

Thursday, September 6, 2012

week 16

Lettuce            Saisai Greens   Pole Beans      Tomatoes         Eggplant         Peppers           Watermelon/Cantaloupe
Summer Squash         Potatoes      Garlic      Okra or Cuke
Herb bag:       Arugula               Basil                  Celery    Chives

"Many organic practices simply make sense, regardless of what overall agricultural system is used. Far from being a quaint throwback to an earlier time, organic agriculture is proving to be a serious contender in modern farming."  - David Suzuki

That was some kind of rain!  About 3 ½ inches fell here all together from the hurricane system.  It was just about the gentlest rain we've seen all season.  The seeds were happy, not drowned.  We were wishing we had more of the fall transplants out in time to catch the rains, but it is simply  not possible to accomplish EVERYTHING.  So, we waited for the soil to dry enough to transplant, and that was Wednesday, and then it rained some more.  Besides that, we've had an anniversary and Paul's birthday to celebrate, so there has been a slight lull in farm busy-ness as usual.  We need a lull sometimes.

In the meantime, I don't think anyone would argue that the weather has changed.  It feels like Fall now.  A few of the sweetgum trees are showing some purple leaves, some red on dogwoods, and even a few yellowing sycamore leaves.  The big rain illuminated for us what was finished in the garden.  Some plants that may have been barely hanging in there before surrendered themselves to full fledged decay in the downpour.  Most of the squash patch went down (we're not supposing many folks will mourn too hard for that one), and several of the cucumbers too, which was a shame.  They weren't too happy to be located by the overgrown herb garden.  Most plants enjoy neighboring with mint and catnip, but we learned the hard way that cucumbers do not.  The last planting is in a different location and perked up noticeably with the rain.  There's still hope for the cucurbits.  The tomatoes are pretty slow today too.  Again, there are still a LOT of green tomatoes out there, so we believe they will be trickling in now, not piling in by truckloads anymore. 

While some of the fruits have slowed, the greens are picking up.  The lettuce drought is finally ending (my, how we have missed that lettuce!), and there will be kale next week!  Saisai daikons are a special Asian radish bred especially for the greens.  We use them like turnip greens or spinach.  One enterprising food blogger has even used her radish greens as a pesto. Pesto is a wonderful substance.  It's a great way to get a dose of garlic and raw greens.  We have not tried it yet, but thought the idea warranted sharing.  It hardly needs saying, but I’ll say it anyway:  WASH YOUR GREENS WELL THIS WEEK.  That was a hard rain Wednesday – there’s grit a’plenty on almost everything.

Speaking of pesto, extra basil is now available by request.  $5 per pound for regulars like yourselves.  We need to know by no later than Wednesday so we can prepare to pick extra early on Thursday morning.  Pack up your freezer and don't miss that fresh basil all winter!

This celery is not like what you buy in a grocery store.  It’s big on flavor, low on water, and has had a rough season.  There aren’t many pieces appropriate for making ants-on-a-log or cutting into salad, but they’re wonderfully flavorful in soups and stews.  We thinned them pretty hard this morning, so we’ll see whether they persist for another cutting down the road.

Here's a solid good greens recipe:
Radish Greens with Miso Sauce (from The Real Dirt on Vegetables)
1 bunch radish or turnip greens or both      1 tablespoon miso paste
1 tablespoon peanut oil                                 Sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil                                   2 cups hot cooked rice (or other grain)

1) Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. Add the greens and boil for 1 minute.
2) Drain the greens in a colander and run cool water over them to stop the cooking. Let drain again, then gently squeeze out any excess water with your hands. Transfer the greens to a cutting board. Chop finely and set aside.
3) Put the miso paste in a small bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons water; then add a little more water so that the miso is thinned just enough to stir into other ingredients.
4) Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped greens; cook, stirring until they are tender and heated through. Add the thinned miso paste. Add sugar to taste; stir the ingredients until thoroughly combined. Remove from heat; stir in the toasted sesame oil. Serve over rice.

And a straightforward and adaptable stuffed pepper recipe for these great peppers!  I think it could also be used for stuffing patty pan squash.

Stuffed Colored Bell Peppers
A little oil                                            2-3 cloves garlic
2 cups chopped onions                      3 cups raw brown rice
6 cups water, stock or tomato juice  1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 cup chopped tomatoes                   1/2 cup grated hard cheese, such as cheddar
1/2 cup chopped, toasted almonds  1 cup thinly sliced basil leaves: Napolitano or Genovese
Salt and Pepper          18 Pimiento Peppers or 9 Bell Peppers, tops cut off, seeds removed

Heat oil in large skillet; add and saute garlic and onion. Add rice and brown about 5 minutes. Add desired liquid and allspice. Cover and cook until rice is done, about 40 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, cheese, almonds, basil, salt and pepper to taste. Blanch peppers in boiling water one minute (I sometime skip this step.) Stuff peppers with rice mixture. Bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes. Nine servings.

The most hopeful and interesting international news rarely makes the big time presses.  We heard good tidings out of Bhutan this week.  The small Himalayan nation (population 700,000) has set a goal for its agricultural practices to be 100% organic by 2020.  This is the same country that measures its welfare by GNH (Gross National Happiness) rather than GNP.  Granted, no place is perfect, Bhutan included, and we have some very different logistics to consider in the USA, but it still seems to me that we can always learn something by paying attention to our neighbors, near and far, about different ways to carry on governance.  

That's about all the politic-ing we can stand!

Eat well and be well. 
Thanks for sharing the harvest.                                                                       
Your Gardeners, The Entwistles