Barnyard Bull - News & Blog

Posted 10/15/2013 3:39pm by Desiree Robertson-DuBois.

The Food Safety Modernization Act is a new law that will soon affect all farmers who grow vegetables and produce your food across the country. This means ALL farmers, not just the big ones, but the farmstand on the corner and your local CSA too. As a fairly small grower I've known that something like this was coming for a long time, but it may be the first that you've heard of it as a consumer. You've all heard of food borne illness and due to greater media we've all heard a lot more about it when they occur. Spinach, raspberries, canteloupes, peanut butter- all infected with potentially deadly bacterias such as e.coli, salmonella and listeriosis. YUCK. Of course we don't want this to happen- we farmers are painfully aware of the fact that we provide food that you and your children will eat and the very last thing we would ever want is for anyone to get sick as a result of something from our farm.

I have taken classes on food borne illness prevention such as GAP (good agriculture practices by the USDA) and Serv-Safe. One of the incredible things that I've learned is that surprisingly few food-borne illnesses originate from produce grown in the United States. Most contamination results from produce brought in from other countries. However, there isn't a lot of regulation that can be done outside the US and so, the FDA has decided to put limits and regulations on what they can control- in-country food production.

I've been going through the new proposed regulations and while some of it seems to lie on the side of practical common sense, we all know that where the government is involved, we can throw common sense out the window in the implementation. For example- It directly conflicts with the National Organic Program's exhaustively researched and already regulated timing guidelines for harvesting fresh produce after the application of manure/compost. They disregard the simple fact that we have winter in our region, the ground freezes, and therefore many potentially harmful bacterias DIE. Farmers would have to wait NINE months before harvesting food from the field, NINE MONTHS?!? That seems ridiculously long if you take seasons and soil biology into account. 

Therefore, I am urging all of you to check out this website from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and make some comments (don't worry, the NSAC breaks it down into sections to make it easier to understand and get through and then walks you through how to comment and what types of questions the FDA is interested in having specifically answered by farmers, processors and consumers). Support your local farmers! You only have a couple more weeks to make your comments so do this soon- it's your food, your farms & farmers (and your bank account, because all this regulation sure as sure won't be free).

Posted 9/27/2013 2:59pm by Desiree Robertson-DuBois.

So autumn arrived seemingly overnight with the full moon, the cool nights and the rapidly changing colors of the mountains. The many frost warnings since the first week of September have only touched us with the briefest kisses of frost, but the cool weather is bringing an end to the bounty of summer even without frosty mornings. The eggplant is finished along with tomatoes and we are desperately covering the very loaded pepper plants with row cover to protect them, but they are weakening. If you are interested in bulk peppers for sauce, roasting or pickling, let us know.

Now is the time for hearty soups and stews, baked pies and roasted root veggie trays sprinkled with salt and chili powder. This is my favorite time of year to cook since everything is still very fresh and I might actually have a little time between soccer games, animal chores and harvesting to get some meals made.

We finally got the last of the winter squash into the root cellar. Whew! Now we just have A LOT of potatoes and carrots to get out of the field and we will be mostly set for winter storage crops. I would set up a large scale harvest day for taters, but our digger is broken and the current harvest method is a little difficult even for us rough-handed farmers. So until we figure something out to fix our cranky old digger or figure out an easier way, we are just going to keep harvesting them a little at a time.

Salad will be returning next week in the form of arugula and/or mesclun and radishes are nearly ready for harvest as well. Unfortunately our karma appears to be off on the transplant side of the farm and none of our lettuce seedlings have worked out. We do have cut salad lettuce in the field, but it is sloooowwww. Hopefully we will be able to get it to you in early October before the end of CSA. 

  

What’s in your share (maybe)


Delicata & Sweet Dumpling Winter Squash

Carrots

Garlic

Red onions, young

Peppers

Eggplant

Cabbage

Swiss Chard

Leeks

Potatoes

Apples

 

Pick Your Own

Sage, Marjoram, Winter Savory and Oregano are open for Picking.

BASILS are gross. Very done.

Flowers- open

Beans: Still waiting.

Cherry tomatoes are open but sort of gross. Help yourself to whatever you find.

Cilantro and Dill are open. YAY!

Tomatillos- delicious as part of your salsa or in a green chili sauce!

 

Featured vegetables: Winter Squashes

We grow a lot of different kinds of squashes so that we can best supply you with storage squashes for the season. Not all squashes are created equal, some are for eating now, just after harvest and others are actually meant to sit and “cure” in order to concentrate their sugars for the best eating quality. There are, of course, some hybrids that have been developed so that your butternut tastes sweet even in September, but we grow the heirloom varieties because I think that nothing is as sweet as the heirloom Waltham Butternut in January and I can wait for it.  In eating order: Delicata, Sweet Dumpling & Spagetti Squashes are good from now until about Thanksgiving, the Acorns (all types) are best having cured for a month so from October until December, and the Buttercup & Butternuts are best from Christmas on into February and later depending on how and where and at what temperature they are stored. We’ve eaten some of them in May and had them be delicious even with their seeds starting to sprout on the inside.

 

Recipes of the Week: Roasted Delicata Squash stuffed with Quinoa Salad from FoodandWine.com

Ingredients

  1. 2 Delicata squash (about 1 pound each), halved lengthwise and seeded
  2. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  3. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  4. 1 cup quinoa
  5. 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  6. 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  7. 1 teaspoon honey
  8. 1 Granny Smith apple, finely diced
  9. 1 large shallot, minced
  10. 1 garlic clove, minced
  11. 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  12. 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  13. 2 ounces arugula (2 cups)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Brush the cut sides of the squash with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and season the cavities with salt and pepper. Place the squash cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for about 45 minutes, until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring 2 cups of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the quinoa, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the raisins and simmer, covered, until the water is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl and let cool.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar and honey with the remaining 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the dressing to the quinoa along with the apple, shallot, garlic, mint and parsley and toss well. Add the arugula and toss gently.
  4. Set the squash halves on plates. Fill with the salad and serve.

Make Ahead The quinoa can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature and add the arugula just before serving.

 

Posted 9/10/2013 3:53pm by Desiree Robertson-DuBois.

As you can probably guess, last week’s frost warnings threw us into a complete panic. On Thursday we pulled out the remay (white row covering that you often see on our plants in spring and fall) and the sandbags out of the weeds, and went to work prioritizing all our frost sensitive veggies. We started with the peppers and eggplant because they were loaded with unripe fruit. Then we covered the basil, beans, chili peppers and tomatillos in the PYO. We harvested all the slicing tomatoes and sauce tomatoes that we could- the plants are just too big to harvest and then we just hopedhopedhoped that we wouldn’t get a frost. And….we didn’t!!! Then it happened again on Sunday and Emma went all through the fields re-covering sensitive crops. A little nerve-wracking, but we came through alright again, though our friends in Windsor and Cummington and even just over the way in Hinsdale were not so lucky. The first week of September is NOT my expected first frost date.

This is when summer’s bounty is still shining and autumn veggies are slowly creeping into the mix- when the nights are cool enough for thick, hot veggie stews with crusty bread but there is fresh bruschetta to put on it. When peppers are crisp and sweet and incredible stuffed or chopped onto a salad or sliced with dip for lunch. We’ve been enjoying Romanesco sauce in particular at our house and for farm lunches. It is quick and easy and delicious- always makes an impression! The first time I ever remember having it was at my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding at Crabapple Farm in Chesterfield. My mother-in-law, Sally, made it to serve with vegetables and I’ve never forgotten how yummy it is. It makes a great pairing with baba ganouj and hummus on a platter with crackers and crudités.

What’s in your share (maybe)


Delicata Winter Squash

Carrots

Garlic

Scallions

Peppers

Eggplant

Tomatoes

Swiss Chard

Kale

 

Pick Your Own

Sage, Winter Savory and Oregano are open for Picking.

BASILS are open. Pick a bunch- it is time for pesto!

Flowers- open

Beans: We are between plantings somewhat- there are still some out there but it is a little on the slim side until the new ones get going. Should be soon!

Cherry tomatoes are open- they are still getting going so it is a ½ pint for small shares and a pint for large. They are all mixed up this year, so make sure and grab a variety.

Tomatillos- delicious as part of your salsa or in a green chili sauce!

 

Featured vegetables: Tomatillos

What is a tomatillo and what can I use them for and why would I want to? These are all common questions that I get when I tell folks to grab some now that they are starting to get going in the PYO. You know that garlicky, green, cool but spicy sauce/salsa that you get in Mexican Restaurants either on the side or covering a sumptuous dish of enchiladas? Well- there you go- tomatillos.

They are related to tomatoes, potatoes and other nightshades, but actually closer in relation to the ground cherry. They are sour and high in Vit C. In fact, they taste an awful lot like a green tomato.

I put a bunch of recipes up on the website so check out some of the easy deliciousness that you can add to your meals.

 

Recipes of the Week:

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Add a little fresh lime juice to the following recipe to make this sing! If you are thinking about canning it, make sure you add both lime juice and cider vinegar to bring the acid up to counterbalance the onion.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatillos
5 fresh serrano chiles
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 large onion, coarsley chopped
2 teaspoons coarse salt


Preheat broiler.

Remove husks from tomatillos and rinse under warm water to remove stickiness. Broil chiles, garlic and fresh tomatillos on rack of a broiler pan 1 to 2 inches from heat, turning once, until tomatillos are softened and slightly charred, about 7 minutes.

Peel garlic and pull off tops of chiles. Puree all ingredients in a blender.

Salsa can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

Makes about 3 cups.

 

Easy Romanesco Sauce for Pasta or Dip

 

Enough Peppers to cover a cookie sheet ~10, cut in half and seeded

1 cup walnuts, pine nuts or pistachios (cashews work too)

Olive oil ~ ½ cup

2 garlic cloves

½ tsp salt, more to taste

 

Place pepper halves skin side up on tray and roast in 450 oven for 15 minutes or until the skins start to brown and puff.

You can either place them in a paper bag to sweat skins off or use them with the skins on (which is what I always do). Place peppers, olive oil and garlic in a blender and blend until smooth- add walnuts and salt and blend again until smooth. Toss with hot pasta, veggies or anything else that you like and add salt to taste. Delicious mixed with marinated goat’s milk feta cheese.

Posted 8/31/2013 9:47am by Desiree Robertson-DuBois.

Canned peaches, Peach Jam and Lemon Cucumber PicklesSo as the summer winds into fall my mind turns to canning. I try to can as much stuff as possible. It helps to be a vegetable grower, but I also buy lots of local fruits that I don’t grow in order to put jam, pie filling, fruit butters, preserves and chutneys in my cupboard for the winter. From waste vegetables that aren’t good to give out or sell, I make bruchetta, salsa, pickle: including cucumber, carrot and piccalilli. I used to make a lot of tomato puree but I’ve found that I can buy that in the store fairly cheaply and it tastes great whereas good salsa is hard to find (though you wouldn’t know that if you had never canned your own).

Everyone always assumes that I had grown up canning with my mom, but my parents were always working full time and while I remember a few canning sessions with jam and tomatoes when I was really small, most of my canning adventures started in college. I started with jam (concord grape) and a stockpot and have expanded my repertoire to custom specialties such as chocolate raspberry jam & vanilla pear preserves and hardware to include a pressure canner, a much larger boiling water bath canner and all sorts of other preservation methods. Freezing is usually the simplest & safest method, but freezers fill up fast (trust me- I have two). It is my favorite for tender fruits such as raspberries & blueberries that I don’t want to be jam. I also love to freeze fruit pie fillings in gallon bags- apple, peach, blueberry, cane berries and strawberry-rhubarb all ready to go in a pre-baked pie shell with sweetener, spices, lemon juice and a little tapioca. Freeze some of those herbs you bring home from the PYO- just grind them up in a food processor and stick them in Ziploc style baggies (lay them flat and press thin- this makes it easier to break pieces off for use in recipes in the winter).

A couple of good canning books that I use with regularity are Home Canning by Ball Canning Company and Put ’Em Up by Sherri Brooks and Preserving the Harvest by Carol Costenbader- both put out by local Storey Publishing. I also scrounge library book sales and used book stores for old canning books. I lost my grandmother in April this year and while going through her things I was delighted to find that she had kept a treasure of old recipes in a card binder. No one else in the family was interested in the browning notecards or her old cookbooks so I carefully packed them to bring home. There are cards containing recipes from my great-grandmother and her mother as well along with aunts, great-aunts and her best friends. Most aren't complicated, just simple foods made from easy to find ingredients, but they were all things she loved. Green tomato relish, strawberry jam, "perfect" white cake (layered with fresh strawberries and fresh whipped cream) these are comfort foods from rural Vermont in the 1930's. None of her recipes come with instructions for canning however- these were things that were just known.

If you've never canned anything, do yourself a favor and do a little research and reading. Remember that safety and cleanliness are definitely important and follow the rules without taking shortcuts. And then, don't be scared....start simple and have fun. The interweb is, of course, an incredible resource for recipes- just be very careful that the sites are reputable while you are getting started. Anything that is a low acid food needs to be canned in a pressure canner! Double check your ingredients against the USDA’s National Center for Home Preservation website at http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html .

 

What’s in your share (maybe)


Cucumbers

Carrots

Garlic

Onions

Peppers

Eggplant or Summer Squash

Tomatoes

Swiss Chard

Cantelopes (getting slim as we compete with critters for their juicy deliciousness)

 

Pick Your Own

Sage, Winter Savory and Oregano are open for Picking.

BASILS are open. Pick a bunch- it is time for pesto!

Flowers- open

Green, yellow and purple beans are open for picking. Keep it to a pint or so- no dilly beans yet.

Cherry tomatoes are open- they are still getting going so it is a ½ pint for small shares and a pint for large. They are all mixed up this year, so make sure and grab a variety.

 

Featured vegetables: Pickling Cucumbers

Alright, now that I’ve expounded on the deliciousness of canning I’ll be you are ready to jump right in! We grow a shorter pickling cuke that you’ve been seeing and eating for weeks, but probably didn’t have any idea were different than regular cucumbers. Pickling cucumbers are shorter and have thinner skins and more cucumber flavor than their siblings the salad slicing cucumber. More flavor? Yes, they really do- after all, it needs to hold up under the processes of pickling in brine for weeks and then canning/cooking for winter storage. When folks ask which pickle they should start with, I invariably point them to a Bread & Butter Pickle recipe from the Ball Canning Guide. It is easy and fun and the result usually tastes better than anything you've ever bought from the store.  If you want to start a little smaller then we suggest the following recipe for Refrigerator Pickles.

Dicken used to do a lot of sailing when he was younger and one of his favorite on board sandwiches (before all that was left in the larder was canned beans) was the “fake roast beef” recipe. The key was the A-1 sauce and the simple fact that cucumbers soak up sauces so beautifully.

 

Recipe of the Week:

Easy Refrigerator Pickles!

Ingredients:

12 or so small cucumbers
1-1/2 cups of white vinegar
4 Tablespoons kosher/pickling salt
pickling spices – you can get creative here or go traditional
fresh dill bunches
3 (or much more!) cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups hot water
Optional – one jalapeño sliced thinly or red pepper flakes
One grape leaf to maintain crispness

Directions:
1. Mix the sugar and salt with the hot water. Stir until dissolved. (Let the liquid cool before pouring over the cucumbers.)
2. Add the vinegar and pickling spices to the liquid.
3. Slice the cucumbers and put the slices in jars.
4. Add the dill and garlic cloves.
5. Pour the liquid into the jars.
6. Seal the jars and store in the refrigerator.

Fake Roast Beef Sandwich

Ingredients:

Your favorite bread

Cucumbers, peeled and sliced lengthwise very thin

Onions, sliced very thin

Tomatoes, sliced 1/4 “ thick

Mayonnaise

A-1 sauce

Directions:

Toss the cucumbers with A-1 sauce to coat and let sit 5-10 mins.

Thinly coat each side of bread with mayonnaise. Add onions, tomatoes and marinated cucumbers. Stack a second slice of bread on the top and enjoy!

Posted 8/20/2013 3:23pm by Dicken Crane.

Here’s my utterly shameless plug for our local Berkshire County 4-H program- it’s incredible and I can’t figure out how more kids aren’t involved with the many wonderful groups, clubs and programs offered in our county. It isn’t all livestock either- there are clubs that focus on the environment and conservation, organize fund-raising and the Youth Fair that happens annually in August. My kids are part of a livestock club that focuses on dairy goats- yes, we live on a farm and they get to work with their animals everyday, but we lease some of our show goats from a local farmer and go to fairs around Western Massachusetts to show them. Over the course of the last two summers, my kids have learned to take of their animals, to be professional and calm in front of the public and under criticism, to work as a team member, to enjoy competition and lose with grace and dignity. They win prizes from trophies to ribbons and little bits of money- this sort of incentive has great power and my children are starting to strive a little more for extra recognition, so they are learning to do other things on their own. They bake desserts; make models and conservation display boards, organize work from school into extra projects to display. They are proud of themselves and get to see a tangible result of their accomplishments. Morgan had an awesome day at the Berkshire County 4-H Fair- he won Overall Best Showman and a Mass. State Livestock Award, his brownies took a first place ribbon as did his model, homemade muppet and Conservation board on the Everglades, but he only got a 4th place ribbon for his hobby collection. For a little while he talked of nothing else, and he was a little disappointed, but it led to a great discussion on how he could improve his display and organize it a little differently. Check out the website and get involved with a local club- you won’t regret it. http://mass4h.org/how-4-h-operates

Here are some great pictures from the fair- Morgan and Elspeth had a blast directing the Milking contest!

http://photos.berkshireeagle.com/2013/08/17/the-berkshire-county-4-h-youth-fair-in-pittsfield

 

What’s in your share (maybe)


Cucumbers

Carrots

Beets

Onions

Peppers

Tomatoes

Swiss Chard

Cantelopes (for half the list at least!)

 

Pick Your Own

Sage, Winter Savory and Oregano are open for Picking.

BASILS are open. Pick a bunch- it is time for pesto!

Flowers- open

Green, yellow and purple beans are open for picking. Keep it to a pint or so- no dilly beans yet.

Cherry tomatoes are open- they are still getting going so it is a ½ pint for small shares and a pint for large. They are all mixed up this year, so make sure and grab a variety.

 

Featured vegetables: Peppers

I LOVE peppers. I think they are beautiful, are delicious raw, roasted or grilled, and should never be harvested green. Yep. I said it. I hate green peppers. For years I could never figure out why I despised them so much. I just couldn’t understand why anyone would want to eat something so bitter. It actually colored my whole view of peppers in general- I wouldn’t eat red or orange peppers because green ones tasted so yucky. It took growing them for me to finally understand why it was that I couldn’t stand them- it is because, for all intents and purposes- a green pepper is an unripe fruit. Of course it is bitter and gives you gas. It isn’t ready to be eaten. It won’t hurt you in any way, but it doesn’t have all the sugars, vitamins and minerals that the ripe, red pepper has to make it easy to digest.

That being said- a red pepper (or orange or yellow) has twice as much vitamin C as a green pepper, contains lycopene and Vitamin A. Delicious!

We are growing ten varieties of sweet bell peppers this season. They come in all shapes and colors so don’t be afraid if they are squat and orange (tangerine pimento), long and skinny (Feherezon and Carmen), thick walled and orange-red & yellow (Antohi Romanian) or the color of deepest chocolate. We aren’t growing any hots out in the field- the chilies are all in the Pick Your Own- most of them are still ripening as well ( and getting hotter!) but if you are looking for some mild greens, let us know and we’ll happily lead the way to the El Jeffe jalapenos.

Recipe of the Week: Ed Bond’s Summer Salsa

This week’s recipe is for a Pico de Gallo that is both my favorite fresh salsa and the recipe that I use for canning (you just have to make sure that you heat the salsa up to boiling and boiling water bath can it for 20 minutes using clean jars and new lids- if you have questions, please email or call me). There is nothing like opening a jar of this in January and tasting summer. Just a warning: The jars of salsa from the store are gross forever after you make this.

 

 Ingredients:

5 large tomatoes (mix of different colors is great)

2 sweet bell peppers (red, orange, chocolate, etc)

1 jalapeno, minced

1 hungarian hot wax, minced

¼ cup cider or balsamic vinegar

½ cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ red onion, minced

½ tsp each of basil, parsley and cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

 Coarsely chop tomato and peppers, add all other ingredients and toss together in a bowl- if you are serving this fresh let the flavors meld for at least 10 minutes or more.

A special note about chili peppers: Always coat your hands with oil or wear gloves before cutting. And the peppers will be MUCH hotter if you don’t remove the seeds and ribs inside the fruits.

Posted 8/13/2013 2:25pm by Desiree Robertson-DuBois.

So much delicious food! The other night we had a total farm meal and it was awesome. Vegetable kabobs (squash, eggplant, red onions, peppers) drenched in olive oil & salt, lamb kabobs marinated in Cilantro-Lime Dressing, and a red cabbage salad with carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and red onion. Mid-August through October is my favorite time to eat from the farm because it includes all my favorite veggies and the grill.

This past week has included two harvests in near torrential rain. Good for the plants, grumpifying for the farmer/harvesters. Still the plants are bursting with sweetness finally and ripening at an incredible rate. We harvested 150 pounds of tomatoes on Tuesday and had to stop before we finished the field (rain. Lots of it.) The plants are loaded and while the HORRIBLE Late BLIGHT nastiness has been spotted on a few farms in our region, hopefully we will get a good crop in before we see any of it.

Melons arrived unexpectedly on Tuesday- we don’t have quite enough to give to everyone- but rather than cut them in half and hope we have enough then, we’ve decided to cut the list in half and give out melons to the first half of the list this week and give out to the second half next week. Saturday, we will hopefully have enough that everyone will get one, if not- we’ll do as we are for Tuesday.

We have some new products for sale in the store from Appalachian Naturals, Goshen MA- including their incredible Maple- Balsamic Salad Dressing made from OUR OWN maple syrup!!!!! It is delicious!  We are also restocked on their local Buttermilk Ranch (Mapleline Farm buttermilk) and Mild and Medium Salsa.

This week’s shout out:  is for the Becket Arts Center’s Short Comic Play “The Farm Bill” by Susan Dworkin on August 25th at 5pm. Audience discussion to follow, admission is free but RSVP to 413-623-6635 as seating is limited. The Berkshire Co. 4-H Fair is happening on Saturday, August 17th from 9-5 at the fairgrounds off Holmes Rd (Utility Drive) in Pittsfield. This is a great family event- lots of kids from all over the region will be showing off the animals (small and large) that they’ve raised as well as all kinds of projects from art to sewing to baking and more. This fair is organized by Berkshire County youth and is a lot of fun. Admission is free. Look for our own Morgan and Elspeth- they will be showing their dairy goats!

What’s in your share (maybe)


Cucumbers

Summer Squash

Carrots

Onions

Red Cabbage

Tomatoes

Swiss Chard

Cantelopes (for half the list at least!)

 

Pick Your Own

Sage, Winter Savory and Oregano are open for Picking.

BASILS are open.

Flowers- open for small bouquets

Green, yellow and purple beans are open for picking. Keep it to a pint or so- no dilly beans yet.

Cherry tomatoes are open for a tasting only- snag a few to tempt your tastebuds while you pick your flowers, herbs and beans.

 

Featured vegetables: Tomatoes

 

Tomatoes come in all colors, sizes, tastes from bright yellow (now familiar to you all) to pink, chocolate and oh so lovable reds. Personally I love the heirlooms and have been growing them since I first started farming in 1997. I used to grow 75 different varieties, but I’ve curbed it down to my 44 favorites. I’ve also learned that while the heirlooms are incredible for flavor and color- folks really really like red and pink slicing tomatoes- those great old standbys for sandwiches, burgers, or just sliced with a little salt. And they are delicious- so I grow A LOT of them. Combine them when you pick up your weekly share- you won’t be disappointed by those green, orange, yellow, purple and chocolate tomatoes and combinations of all the above- their range of flavors and colors makes them a delight on the plate and the palate.

There will also be a ton of sauce tomatoes again this year for your own fresh tomato sauces, extra will be available for sale for canning and we also have last year’s extras canned for us by Appalachian Naturals as puree in the store for sale at $3.75 per quart.  

 

Recipes of the Week: Tomato & Bread Salad

From my friend (and former farm-partner), Jeremy Barker-Plotkin over at Simple Gifts Farm in Amherst who loves tomatoes more than I do. This recipe makes a big bowl just perfect for a potluck but it makes an easy side dish if you split the recipe in half!

Ingredients:

3 lbs. ripe, ripe tomatoes.  It is best to use a mix of different colors of heirlooms

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup basil, chopped

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1 stale baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes.  Toast the cubes if it's not stale enough

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional additions:

1/4 cup capers

1/2 cup chopped olives

1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed

 

 

Directions:

Toss all ingredients together.

Let sit for 10 minutes or more.  Best served at room temperature the same day that it is made.

 

 

Posted 8/6/2013 3:12pm by Desiree Robertson-DuBois.

Summer fruits are upon us- we are starting to see the first of the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant along with our abundant amounts of squash and cukes. Baby winter squashes are ripening on the vines…..flowers and herbs are taking off and the green beans are finally starting up! We will have a return to lettuce next week as the next planting is finally getting some size to it.

I found an interesting website recently (while researching nutritional information on Chard, actually) called www.whfoods.com which is a non-profit website dedicated to what they call the world’s healthiest foods. There is a list of great foods, complete with recipes and all nutritional info. Very entertaining and it also has a nutritional analysis of your diet…..it also as an interesting article on seasonal eating that had some info that I didn’t even know (but now that I think on it makes perfect sense).

We got some great weeding and harvesting help last week from Luke Kaplan and his campers from Camp Taconic (~40!) who came out for a few hours to help weed carrots and dig potatoes. It is amazing how much can get down in a short period of time when you have just a ton of hands. YAY!

We have a shout out this week to The Shamrock Restaurant & Pub here in Dalton. We’ve been in for a Guinness, bangers and mash (taters, grated carrots, scallions and garlic scapes!) and fish and chips and it was great. It’s under new ownership and changes are apparent and delicious. Check it out! www.theshamrockdalton.com

If you haven't picked up your meat share (or made other arrangements with us) now's the time!

 

What’s in your share (maybe)

New Potatoes: Bintje

Cucumbers- pickle, slicer and lemon

Summer Squash

Beets

Onions

Eggplant and/or Peppers

Tomatoes

Swiss Chard

 

Pick Your Own

Sage, Winter Savory and Oregano are open for Picking.

BASILS are open. Mixed basil pesto makes for a nice change.  Please no pesto freezing yet, just take enough for a nice pesto meal. Thanks.

Flowers- open for light picking

Green, yellow and purple beans are open for picking. Keep it to a pint or so- no dilly beans yet.

Cherry tomatoes are open for a tasting only- snag a few to tempt your tastebuds while you pick your flowers, herbs and beans.

 

Featured vegetables: Swiss Chard

 

We love swiss chard- it is our favorite summer green as it never gets bitter or rubbery in the summer heat the way the kale sometimes does as it tires out in August. It is a quick way to add nutrients to your meals- it is one of the most nutritious vegetables in the world- and one that carries both the purple and yellow phytonutrients called betalains. These are the pigments that have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support.

Like beets (a member of the same family along with spinach and quinoa), chard contains oxalic acid (overabundance causes some folks to feel like their tongue has been coated with cotton). If you are sensitive to this or have kidney or gallbladder issues feel free to boil your chard for a few minutes to reduce the oxalic acid by as much as 50%.

 

Recipes of the Week: Lasagne with Chard, Ricotta & Walnuts

 

This unseasonable cool weather is making it perfectly acceptable to turn on your ovens! Try this incredible, easy lasagna. I recommend adding a little more milk to the bottom to keep it from being too dry and I like Italian sausage in my lasagna.

From Deborah Madison: Local Flavors

Ingredients:

1 cup cracked walnuts

Sea salt and ground pepper

2-3 bunches of chard (you can also use spinach or beet greens!), leaves only

2 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for the dish

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup white wine

1 cup ricotta, whole milk

1 cup fresh grated parmesan (the shaker stuff doesn’t work)

8 oz fresh mozzarella, coarsely grated

1 ¼ cups milk

1 8oz box no-boil lasagna noodles

 

Directions:

  1. Bring 2 gallons of water to a boil for the chard and the pasta. Preheat the oven to 400 then toast the walnuts in a shallow pan until pale gold and fragrant, 7-10 min. Chop finely and set aside.
  2. When the water boils, add 1 Tbsp salt and the chard. Cook until tender 3-5 minutes even if the water doesn’t return to a boil. Scoop the chard into a colander and press out most of the water. Reserve water Finely chop the chard.
  3. Heat oil in a wide skillet and add 2/3 of the garlic then the chard. Cook over med-hi heat, turning frequently for several minutes then add the wine and allow it to cool down. Turn off the heat.
  4. Combine the ricotta, Parmesan, all but ¾ cup of mozzarella and the remaining garlic in a bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup of the chard cooking water then add the chard. Mix together taste for salt and season with pepper.
  5. Bring the water back to a boil. Lightly oil an 8x10 or 9x13 baking dish. Drizzle ¼ cup milk over the dish.
  6. Drop 3 pieces of the instant pasta into the water and boil for 1 min. Remove them and fit them into the baking dish. Sprinkle with ¼ cup milk, a third of the cheese mix and ¼ cup of the walnuts. Repeat twice more with pasta, milk & cheese and nuts. When you get to the last layer, add the remaining milk, mozzarella and nuts. Place 4 toothpicks in the pasta to make a tent, then cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 min longer or until lightly browned on top. Let sit for 10 min then cut into portions and serve.

 

Posted 7/31/2013 7:57am by Desiree Robertson-DuBois.

So, why are the cabbages so small, the Chinese cabbage was ugly and what happened to the broccoli???!!! Well it’s pretty simple- they (all our spring veggies in the Brassica family) were planted in the field that used to be the old riding ring. It is very sandy there but we added a lot of compost and amendments and last fall it grew some beautiful fall crops for us. This spring and early summer, however, it rained A LOT and our amazing sandy soil with lots of compost in it turned into sandy slush and then, into straight sand. One of the big problems with sandy soils is that the silica is just like what it is- glass- and it doesn’t hold onto nutrients the way that loamy or silt or clay does. It just washes clean. You need to keep on adding more stuff to it, but because the rain went on for so long, we couldn’t even walk in the field (I sank up to mid-calf and turned around). And by the time it dried out enough that we could, it was too late for the little plants who were already stunted and small. This also makes them a huge target for insect pests and disease. There might as well be a big neon sign that says “free dinner”. Healthy plants resist pests and disease- unhealthy ones just give up under the added pressure.

We’ve gotten what we can, and we are fertilizing the remaining fall cabbages and turnips with an organic fertilizer mix, and we are crossing our fingers a lot. All the fall broccoli and cauliflower are planted in other fields and are growing well. We are replanting kale, Chinese cabbage, mustard greens, radishes and kohlrabi for the fall.

 

What’s in your share (maybe)


New Potatoes: Bintje

Cucumbers

Summer Squash

Carrots, baby

Swiss Chard

 

Pick Your Own

Sage, Winter Savory and Oregano are open for Picking.

BASILS are open for light pinching- it won’t be pesto time until they are nice and big- DO NOT pick just leaves off, please pinch back to a branching point so that the plants bush out instead of look like sticks.

Flowers- open for light picking, please pick at branch points and don’t cut them off at the base otherwise we won’t have more flowers coming.

 

Featured vegetables: Cucumbers

 

When it is hot, there is nothing better than the cool, refreshing flavor of cucumbers. We snack on them right out in the field and then mix them with a little ranch dressing or yogurt for a side salad. They get thrown into potato and pasta salads. We pickle them with dill and garlic. This is yet another summer vegetable where the taste is so phenomenally different between a freshly picked fruit and the ones found in the store (that have no flavor and the texture of styrofoam).  Last year we had a total crop failure on cucumbers (they burned to a crisp the minute they hit the plastic mulch so it is with great pleasure that we have such an abundance for this season! I will also report that the melon crop is growing at an astounding rate…..it will take them a couple more weeks to ripen, but they already look amazing!

 

Recipes of the Week: Cool Cucumber Soup

 

When I was pregnant with Morgan I was farming down in the Valley and was part of a trial group who were growing for chefs in NYC. There was a large press event where the chefs came up to Western Mass and cooked for the farmers….yeah. It is as good as it sounds. This was one of the recipes.

 

3 Cucumbers, peeled and sliced

2 scallions

1 cup yogurt (vegan recipe- use coconut milk!)

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp fresh lemon basil

1 tsp to 1 Tbsp good local honey (to taste)

Dash salt and pepper

Handful of toasted pecans, chopped (optional)

 

Blend all ingredients except the pecans until smooth in a blender. Serve very cold with a sprinkle of chopped basil and pecans on top. Especially delicious served in hollowed out lemon cucumber “bowls”.

Posted 7/23/2013 4:17pm by Desiree Robertson-DuBois.

Jesse has been working like mad for the last week to get the irrigation going in the fields. Record heat and humidity have made for sleepless nights, unhappy animals and dying vegetables. The already stressed plants (from too much rain) took a beating from last week’s heat, but, thanks to Jesse, we have managed to salvage most of them. Biggest losses have been in lettuce- they just can’t stand these kind of high temperatures and so most of them bolted (which means they flowered) while still in their baby phase. It will have to be cucumber salad for the next bit while we wait for the next planting of lettuce to do its thing.

We are really excited about the amazing abundance of cucumbers and summer squash that have started pouring in- YAY! The early tomatoes have just started to ripen down in the field and the eggplant and peppers are fruiting.

Despite the fact that we had to cancel the Weeding Party on Saturday- we still managed to get the Pick Your Own unburied from the weeds that were threatening to engulf the flowers and beans. It looks great and now, with the irrigation up and running and the small amount of rain we got this week, hopefully the flowers will take off and we will be able to open them for picking next week. The beans are flowering and we should also have beans in the very near future, possibly by next week.

We say Adieu to Alison this week- she’s on to other adventures- she’s been a great help all this spring and summer and we will miss her happiness, laughter and ever-fantastic attitude. We wish her much luck and hope she has a blast in whatever she decides to do next.

What’s in your share (maybe)


Onions- Cippolini

New Potatoes: Bintje

Cucumbers

Summer Squash

Carrots, baby

Escarole or Radicchio

Swiss Chard

 

Pick Your Own

Sage, Winter Savory and Oregano are open for Picking.

BASILS are open for light pinching- it won’t be pesto time until they are nice and big- DO NOT pick just leaves off, please pinch back to a branching point so that the plants bush out instead of look like sticks. There are multiple varieties: Sweet, Thai, Lemon and Purple. The purple and sweet are both great in salad, the lemon is the perfect addition to a cream sauce (with tomato or not) and the Thai is incredible in coconut cream curries- our favorite addition to any sauté.

Parsley is open for light picking.

Featured vegetables: Summer Squash

 

These are some of our favorite vegetables and believe it or not- I never get sick of them- I sometimes eat summer squash for all three meals. The texture and taste of fresh summer squash just can’t compare to the dull cardboard-like vegetables that arrive in the winter from the west coast.

Most of the time we just slice in lengthwise ¼” slabs and toss with a little olive oil and throw it on the grill until it is tender on both sides- we finish by dousing with Salmeura (Argentinian salt-garlic & pepper mixed with water- so good and perfect for steak, ribs or anything else you are grilling).

We also sauté with eggs in the morning for breakfast, make quick breads for the freezer, throw it into any sauté…

Oh. And we never boil it. Ever. It just isn’t good that way.

 

Recipes of the Week: Summer Squash Ribbon Salad

Thanks to Lisa Udel for the recipe!

 

3 small zucchini (about 1lb)

3 small summer squash (about 1lb)

20 med basil leaves (any kind, thinly sliced)

2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped

6 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

Salt and ground pepper

Optional: 1 large daikon radish

 

Ingredients:

Trim the ends of the zucchini and summer squash. With a vegetable peeler, shave the zukes and squash lengthwise in long wide strips about 1/16” thick. When you get to the center where the seeds are, turn it over and slice from the other side until you get to the center again.  Do the same with the optional daikon. Put the strips in a large bowl along with the basil and oregano.

In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice and zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables with enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat them. And season to taste again. Serve immediately.

 

 

Easy Coconut Curry Sauce:

This is my favorite quick cooking sauce- it is delicious, easy and pleasing to just about anyone’s palate. Seasoning is easy to adjust at table, so kids love it too. I keep all the ingredients on hand in my pantry and use seasonal veggies and either a little chicken, pork, lamb or shrimp. The below recipe serves anywhere from 4-8 depending on how much sauce you like.

 

Ingredients:

1 can coconut milk (you can use light if you like)

¼ tsp-1tsp of Thai curry paste (green, red or roasted red are all good). Easy to find at any grocery store

½ tsp fish sauce, optional

1 tsp (or more!) of chopped Thai basil

 Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix all three ingredients together and set aside.

Saute meats and vegetables separately then add all together and cook briefly with the above ingredients for 3 minutes. Serve over rice with sauce and add more curry paste, soy sauce, and/or fish sauce at table to adjust spiciness and saltiness according to preference. So good.

 

Posted 7/16/2013 2:06pm by Desiree Robertson-DuBois.

Weeding EXTRAVAGANZA is happening this Saturday from 2-4, come out and help us get a jump ahead on the weeds that are burying the crops, first from all the rain we’ve had and now from the heat. Many hands make for light work so lets get it done! A BBQ potluck will follow from 4-6 with lemonade, grillables & ice cream from us- bring a little something to share.

There are fresh raspberries for sale in the store! Locally grown and delicious. Get them while they last.

The summer heat is bringing in the roots and fruits! The summer squash is gorgeous and sweet, the beets are round and beautiful, the baby carrots are…..well, they aren’t as sweet as they would be in the fall after a nice hard frost but they are sweeter than any carrots from California. Eat those beet greens folks, they are sweet and tender right now- just as delicious as swiss chard. This variety is grown for its good greens as much as for the root- so don’t throw them in the compost bin.

We are going to try this again….because I was sick this weekend, I didn’t get a chance to order bread. I will order for Saturday, so if you get me your orders by Thursday for Saturday pickup, it will be here by 930. For Tuesday breads, order by Saturday….Sign up lists are at distribution or you can email me.

What’s in your share (maybe)

Chinese Cabbage (Napa cabbage)

Garlic scapes

New Potatoes: Bintje

Broccoli (maybe.....)

Summer Squash

Carrots, baby and/or Beets

 

Pick Your Own

Sage, Winter Savory and Oregano are open for Picking. Peas are still around, but are slow in all this heat so there may not be many. Check the second planting since the first planting is donedonedone!

BASILS are open for light pinching- it won’t be pesto time until they are nice and big- DO NOT pick just leaves off, please pinch back to a branching point so that the plants bush out instead of look like sticks. There are multiple varieties: Sweet, Thai, Lemon and Purple. The purple and sweet are both great in salad, the lemon is the perfect addition to a cream sauce (with tomato or not) and the Thai is incredible in coconut cream curries- our favorite addition to any sauté.

Alison and/or Emma will be out in the field to help you if you need assistance. Thanks!

 

Featured vegetables—Carrots

 

As I mentioned above, the baby carrots are not as sweet as fall carrots. Fall carrots, after a good hard frost, start to pull sugars from their greens and store them in their roots- hence a sweeter carrot. Barring the fact that here in the Northeast we are blessed with seasons and so most of you have had a good fresh, frosted carrot, these are still fresher and sweeter than any carrot that you find in the grocery store. This also didn’t stop my kids from hovering around the field and eating every reject carrot they could find, dirt and all. You don’t need to peel them- these fresh eating varieties have a fragile, tissue-paper skin. And it will be hard to get them home.

We have five varieties growing the field right now. These early, small fresh eating beauties as well as Sugar Snax- a longer season, ultra sweet orange carrot and three “rainbow” carrots- these are deepest purple, bright yellow and pale red- which are our storage carrots and take all season to size up big and beautiful. Look for the latter in the fall after a good frost has made them as sweet as candy.

 

Recipe of the Week: Carrot Top Soup

A light soup for this warm weather. Perfect paired with crusty bread and a soft goat cheese.

From Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets by Deborah Madison (a great cookbook!)

 

Ingredients:

1 bunch carrots (small, with their tops)

2 Tbsps butter

3 Tbsps white rice

2 large leeks or ½ bunch scallions, chopped.

2 thyme sprigs

2 Tbsps chopped dill, parsley, celery leaves or lovage

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

6 cups Vegetable stock, chicken stock or water

 

Directions:

  1. Pull or pluck lacy leaves of the carrot greens off their stems. Wash they chop finely. Grate the carrots or finely chop them.
  2. Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the carrot tops and carrots, rice, scallions/leeks, thyme & dill. Cook for several minutes, tuning everything a few times, then season with 1 ½ tsps salt and add the stock. Bring to a boil and simmer until the rice is cooked, 16-18 minutes.
  3. Taste for salt, season with pepper and serve.