It has been an exciting week! Saturday was Harvest Fest at Bayfront Festival Park. It was great seeing all of you that stopped by our booth. We have also had a new crew member join the gang and an old crew member move on to great new things.
A note about peppers: The large pointy red peppers are a SWEET pepper variety named Carmen. The smaller yellow pointy pepper are a HOT pepper variety.
In your share this week:
Green Beans – Carrots – Celery – Cilantro – Cucumber – Garlic – Onion – Red Pepper – Green Peppers – Hot Peppers – Potatoes – Tomato – Zucchini
Congrats to our former crew member, Emily, who is moving on to a great new job in her field. Emily has been with the Food Farm for two years and wrote last year’s newsletters.
This beautiful key lime pie was made in Emily’s honor by Charlie, a fellow crew member.
A great morning for spiders!
The first spider is a funnel-weaver spider with in her name-sake funnel web beautifully outlined in morning dew. This spider was found next to our celery rows. The picture doesn’t do justice to the unique 3D tunnel structure this spider builds. The second spider is a black and yellow argiope, also called a black-and-yellow garden spider, which may be the largest web-building spider in the northern United States. She was a big one! She was found feasting on a fly in her web that spanned one of the green bean paths. (We made certain not to disrupt her.) Many think because this spider is so colorful and large it must be dangerous, but in reality, they are shy and rarely venture off their webs. We appreciate these spiders eating the more annoying bugs for us!
This past week was the week of squash. To be honest, I’ll probably never see that much squash again in one place. On Wednesday we harvested around 8,000 pounds of Delicata alone. As much as it feels like it will never end when we are in the middle of harvesting, the end results are very satisfying to look at. 4 tons of Delicata sitting on drying racks is a sight for sore eyes (and arms). It is also very funny to be using old bakery racks as storage racks. They sure do get the job done though.
Delicata are not the only variety of squash we are growing this year. The others include: Winter Sweet, Acorn, Kabocha and Sunshine. To be honest I think I would name my pet after these squashes. Maybe not Delicata though… I sometimes think that squash is such an interesting crop so I decided to do a little research to spice up this newsletter. Here are some fun facts about squash:
The name “squash” comes from a Native American word “askutasquash” which means “eaten raw or uncooked” which is….ironic. Or at least I have always cooked my squash.
Squashes are some of the oldest crops. Some estimates are at 10,000 years old.
The regions of Mexico and surrounding Central American countries are where squash is originally thought to come from.
We grow both summer and winter squash here at Food Farm. Summer squashes are harvested when they’re immature and their skins are still soft. For example, zucchini is a well-known summer squash. Winter squashes are harvested when their skin is hard, making them suitable for long term storage.
Pretty soon your summer CSA will be over and your household may start to accumulate more and more squash. Pumpkins will be on their way to you soon. Jack-o-lanterns will be carved. Pies will be baked. Although this is the beginning of the end of our time being your summer farmers, we still have a LOT to get done on the farm before freeze-up. Best of all, the autumn equinox is on Wednesday. According to the MN DNR Fall Color Finder, between 10-25% of our trees in the area are turning color. Fall has quickly become my favorite time of the year since I started farming.
I’m keeping this newsletter short and sweet, just like our acorn squash.
Thanks for tuning in,
In your shares this week: Arugula – Beans – Carrots – Cucumbers – Red Russian Kale – Leeks – Onions – Parsley – Peppers – Potatoes – Acorn and Sunshine Squash – Tomatoes – Zucchini
Chinese Chard with Almonds by TasteofHome
1 bunch chard (about 1 pound), chopped (the Red Russian Kale this week is tender enough to use in place of Chard)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large sweet red pepper, cut into strips
1 large tomato, diced
1 small red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh gingerroot
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
3/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Dash crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 2 in. of water to a boil. Add chard; cook, covered, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain; set aside.
In same saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add pepper, tomato and onion; saute until pepper is crisp-tender, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute more. Stir in next five ingredients; add cooked chard. Cook and stir until pepper is tender, 3-4 minutes ; add lemon juice. Top with almonds.
Kale and Leek Gratin by Food & Wine
3 pounds kale, de-stemmed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 medium leeks, white and tender green parts only, sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart whole milk
1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper
In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the kale in batches until wilted, about 1 minute. Drain, squeeze dry and chop it.
Heat the oil in the pot. Add the leeks and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until tender, 7 minutes. Uncover, add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the kale, season with salt and remove from the heat.
Preheat the oven to 425°. Butter a 10-by-15-inch baking dish. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour over moderate heat to form a paste. Gradually whisk in one-third of the milk and cook, whisking, until the mixture starts to thicken. Repeat two more times with the remaining milk. Bring the sauce to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking often, until thickened and no floury taste remains, 15 minutes. Whisk in the cheeses and the nutmeg; season with salt and pepper. Mix the sauce into the leeks and kale. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Bake in the upper third of the oven for about 25 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown on top. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
This week was a big week for our dear friends the alliums. Alliums are a genus of plants that include onions, garlic, leeks, and shallots. Onions! Enough to make a grown man cry. To say that these crops are the very backbone of savory dishes in the Midwest is an understatement. Not only do they provide great flavor and texture to our food, they also make the air smell great when you harvest them for several hours. And what do you say to a small onion that has helped you? Thanks shallot. We also started to sort out seed garlic which involves picking out the most perfect heads of garlic to use for next years garlic crop. This process, over the course of years, helps us yield the best looking heads of garlic to give to our dear members and the community.
Soup season is just around the corner, unless you’re like me and believe soup shall not be limited to colder weather. Either way, I feel compelled to throw in a decent soup recipe in these newsletters each week. They’re great for many things but amazing for using up random veggies in your fridges. Great for budgets and your stomachs. This may very well be the beginning of canning season for your household, for which soup is a fantastic candidate. Our dear friend the leek has been patiently waiting it’s arrival in your shares. And you had better believe there’s a soup recipe in this newsletter whose sole intention is to use a decent amount of leeks. Personally, I think the leeks this year look way bigger than last years. This is probably due to the warmer temperatures we have been experiencing.
This weekend you’ll find the Food Farm crew at the Sustainable Farm Association’s annual Harvest Festival at Bayfront Park in Duluth. Have you been wishing to have just a few more heads of broccoli this year? Perhaps you’re wishing for some more tomatoes? Fear not, as we will likely have a wide variety of food available to you. My favorite thing about these festivals as a consumer is seeing the value added goods that people create. Every year there is something new to try and it’s even better knowing it’s local. The annual Harvest Festival is a fun and great way to connect producers directly to consumers. Aside from these newsletters, there are only a handful of ways in which we are able to directly connect with our share members and the general public. We hope to see all of you there! We’ll be there from 10am – 4pm.
Some exciting news from our newest farm hens, they’ve laid their first eggs! These relatively tiny eggs will not be included in the egg shares yet. However, they are a reminder that these chickens play a valuable role on the farm. They provide our members with food and our fields with fertility. Plus they’re cute and full of personality – what more could you ask for in your coworkers?!
If anyone has a soup recipe suggestion, please do not be shy. We must all prosper in the richness that is liquid food.
It looks like it will cool down this coming week- and maybe bring a little rain (fingers crossed). As I write this however, it is in the mid 80s and it’s late evening… so I have the heat on my mind. Hot days, and warm evenings, make it hard to predict when vegetables will be their best. Broccoli and greens especially don’t want to be this hot. How crazy it is to have the number of 80 degree days we’ve had at the early part of our season. I also have a harder time predicting when I’ll be my best in this heat – but it is probably when both my hands are submerged in the dunk tank with bins of lettuce!
This heat also has me looking at today’s share list and thinking: you can eat all this stuff just how it is, you don’t even need to stand over a stove! This will obviously read differently on a 70 degree day later in the week–hold on future self, I’m coming! Truly though, I do love the weeks where the share can almost all be chopped up and served together in a big, colorful heap of verdant goodness. Add some dressing, nuts, and maybe (definitely) feta and you’re good to go! Disclaimer: I wouldn’t eat all the garlic scapes at once…
Picking up your share on hot days (should you be picking up Monday) can also be a bit more work. I have the luxury of raiding the cooler or fields on the farm on an as-needed basis. But getting veggies out of the heat and into cool water or the fridge to freshen back up is important for peak quality. Pick up your share as early as possible on days like this, and don’t hesitate to fill a side of your sink and let things like broccoli, chard and head lettuce rehydrate and cool for a bit if they seem warm. Even if your kitchen feels hot to you, the cold tap water will bring the heat back out of them much more quickly than just going into the fridge dry.
I hope this week’s share finds you all well. And I hope that the abundance of produce brings extra joy to your table- maybe someone else’s table too!
For the farm crew, Karin
In your share this week: Beets – Broccoli – Carrots – Cauliflower – Chard – Cucumbers – Garlic Scapes – Lettuce – Napa Cabbage – Green Onions
Mango Slaw with Cashews and Mint
From The Smitten Kitchen
2 mangoes, peeled, pitted and julienned 1 to 1 1/4 pounds Napa cabbage, halved and sliced very thinly 1 red pepper, julienned 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced 6 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, from about two limes 1/4 cup rice vinegar 2 tablespoons oil of your choice 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste (or omit this and whisk in a chile paste to taste) 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves 1/4 cup toasted cashews, coarsely chopped
Toss mangoes, cabbage, pepper and onion in a large bowl. Whisk lime juice, vinegar, oil, salt and red pepper in a smaller bowl and pour over slaw. You can either serve this immediately or leave the flavors to muddle for an hour in the fridge. Before serving, toss with mint leaves and sprinkle with cashews.
About the mango: This salad will work with almost any variety or ripeness of mango, whether sour or sweet. Use the one you can get, or that you enjoy the most. In general, a firmish not overly ripe mango (unlike the very ripe, sweet one I used) holds up best but all will be delicious in this salad.
Easy Caesar Dressing
From Cookie and Kate
½ cup mayonnaise
1 medium garlic clove, minced (or you could try a scape!)
2 teaspoons lemon juice, to taste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, to taste
⅛ teaspoon fine salt
⅓ cup (1 ounce) finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon water
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a liquid measuring cup or bowl, combine the mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, Dijon, and Worcestershire sauce, and salt. Stir to combine.
Stir in the Parmesan, followed by the water. Season generously with black pepper, to taste. I usually think the dressing tastes just right, but if you’d prefer a more bold dressing, add another ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, or for more zippy dressing, add up to 1 teaspoon additional lemon juice. Serve as desired. Keeps 5 days.
Welcome to the first Winter Share of the season! The warm and colorful part of the autumn is very much past, the evenings are dark and it is time to start getting in the wintery culinary mood!
I love this time of year, and I know I’ve said so every winter newsletter for a couple of years now. It’s still true. I love the subdued colors of everything, and cold wind on my face and snow falling in the sunshine. I love planning exactly what I should wear outside, and thinking about how I’m so great at planning outfits for winter activities… until I start shedding extra layers along a trail to retrieve on my way back.
I love eating as many potatoes as I want (job perk!). I love getting into a different “breakfast rut” each winter. Two years ago it was hash browns. Last year it was carrots, parsnips (stay tuned for them in later shares!) and potatoes all cooked in a pan with yogurt or ketchup on top.
This year my favorite part of the season will be coming up in just a couple of months: my infant son’s first bites of food. I am so excited for him to eat with me out of the root cellar at the farm. I haven’t decided which of the veggies will be his first. Probably carrots or squash. Or parsnips. Or potatoes. Or rutabaga. I feel so lucky to start him off with such wholesome, good quality food. What a blessing.
Thinking about my boy, and what and how I want him to eat as he grows has been fun, and also challenging for me. It has required me to look at how I eat and my imperfect relationship to food. I want him to have good food, the best food. Healthy and as much organic as possible. But that’s not really all of it. Not at all. I also want food to be something that he sees is worth spending time planning, preparing, and sitting down for. I want to show him that there is value in investing time and money in food. I don’t want to treat the preparation of food like an inconvenience that just needs to be got over as quickly as possible. And by the time he’s taking his first bites I want to do less eating above the kitchen sink, and more sitting down. Even if it’s just for a fried egg sandwich in the morning.
I say that now. But I recognize that our meals won’t always be balanced, or include a complete protein, or be organic or mostly local. Maybe sometimes they’ll be mostly take-out pizza. And, I want him to see that too, and not see it as a thing of shame. There should be so much LESS shame and embarrassment around familial and personal food choices. Because it isn’t easy to always make the ideal choices we’d like to imagine ourselves making.
At the end of it all, I want him to learn joy- the joy of food in our lives. Food is work, fun, tasty, beautiful, communal, and sustaining.
So thank you for taking on a counter-cultural approach to food with us this winter season. Thanks for being willing to slow things down a bit and put your money down on something of quality.
Whether this is your first or tenth Winter Share with us, welcome or welcome back! I hope this season of local produce finds you well, and keeps you trying new ways of cooking with old staples.
Potatoes with Shaved Celery Salad
(I think in newsletters of yore, I have mentioned that I don’t tend to be much of a recipe follower. Perhaps some of you are though, and perhaps you also got celeriac instead of celery. Ah! If I were you, I’d still give this recipe a whirl, but I would roast scrubbed and halved celeriac until tender (an hour or so) and chop it after that to toss with the salad. But I am not you, so perhaps you’d like to simply roast it with oil and salt and enjoy as is!)
2 1/2 pounds red potatoes, cubed
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons grated red onion
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups thinly diagonally sliced celery
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bring 12 cups water and potatoes to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes. Add vinegar; simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Drain. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet; cool.
Combine buttermilk and next 8 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl. Stir in potatoes. Stir in celery and pepper. Chill at least 1 hour.
Curried Carrot and Coconut Soup
1medium onion, roughly chopped
¾pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch coins
1teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
½teaspoon ground cumin, to taste
½teaspoon ground turmeric, to taste
½teaspoon ground coriander, to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2cups chicken or vegetable stock
1cup unsweetened coconut milk
Juice from ½ lime
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Cilantro, if you have it
Heat the butter until the foam subsides. Add the diced chopped onions, sprinkle with salt, stir to coat with butter. Add the chopped carrots along with the spices. Stir and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
Add the stock; there should be enough to cover the vegetables. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until the carrots are cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes.
If you have an immersion blender, purée the soup in the pot. If not, wait until the soup cools slightly, and purée in a food processor. Add enough coconut milk (and a little more stock or water if necessary) to bring the soup to the consistency you want. Adjust the seasoning (depending on the stock you use, you may need more or less salt), and lime juice to taste. Garnish and serve.
I was laid up for a few days this past week recovering from a tick born illness. When I came back to work on Wednesday I felt like I’d been gone a week!
The tomatoes in the green house are taller than I am. The cucumbers have become wildly prolific. All the row cover is off the cabbage and the broccoli are beautiful.
This season is what I live for. The warm air when the breeze blows. The sweltering heat when the sun is high in the sky. Sun burnt shoulders and tan faces. Bare feet in warm fields.
Summer can fly by in the blink of an eye if you aren’t careful to pay attention. We all get caught up in the work, because we are farmers and can’t help ourselves. There is a mile of cabbage to weed. There are tomatoes to trellis and boxes to wash. There is grass to mow and sunscreen to apply and water that needs to be drank.
I have to remind myself to pay attention, to stay conscious of what’s going on around me. Sam started harvesting a ton of cucumbers each day. I noticed that. But I had to pay attention to see it. The sun golds started turning yellow. I bet a I’ll get to eat a handful in a few days.
Dave planted basil in every nook and cranny of the green houses. But you have to look down for just a second to appreciate that.
We farmers do a special kind of dance. We all have different roles to play, different songs to sing. I like to imagine us from a birds eye view. Little objects floating around the farm, accomplishing so, so much.