Tuesday, September 28, 2010

14th CSA Week

Another CSA harvest day is here again. It was a bit on the damp side for most of the morning but all in all everything went fine. The count down is on as we only have four weeks left and now the trick is to make sure we have enough vegetables to finish off the CSA season but also keep some for ourselves for the winter. Every year we always seem to make sure everyone is taken care of and often forgot about our own vegetable needs until its too late and then we end up having to buy our veggies from neighbours and friends for the winter. We'll still end up doing that for some vegetables but hopefully not all.

This weeks grab box - yummy

I always heard that pea shoots were very tasty so I grew just a small patch of snap peas just for the sole purpose of cutting off the small tender shoots for the fall CSA baskets. I'm hoping to get feedback from the members as to how they liked them as I would grow lots more next year if they are wanted. They are great chopped into a salad or added into a stir-fry.

Yummy pea shoots

Back this week are radish, they are so pretty when they are tiny like this.

Bush Delicata winter squash. This squash is often called the sweet potato squash, because it's flavor and texture is pretty close to a sweet potato. They will store well for weeks.
To cook place unpeeled pieces cut sides down on a shallow baking dish and bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes or longer. Check for doneness by piercing with a fork. When tender, remove from the oven and allow the pieces to cool. Spoon out the soft flesh and mash with a fork or process in a blender or food processor. Peeled pieces can be cut into cubes and boiled until tender. Use with any recipe calling for cooked, mashed or pureed squash. Or microwave the squash pieces on high for 15 minutes or longer.

I made a very yummy spaghetti sauce this week. I had about 4-5 large tomatoes along with a handful of cherry tomatoes and I took the skins off the larger ones. This is easily done by making a small X in the bottom of the tomato and putting into boiling water. Just leave it there for about 30 seconds and then put it into a dish of ice cold water and the skins will come right off. I chopped up the tomatoes and set aside till I was ready to use them. I sautéed garlic, onions and 2 leeks in a frying pan until the onions were soft and added in the tomatoes, a handful of cilantro and a few shakes of cumin. I let the sauce cook away for about 30 minutes and then added some cooked ground beef that I had leftover in the fridge. I must say it was very tasty!! The boys love tomatoes so they really liked supper that night.

This coming Sunday is the 7th Annual Organic Harvest Festival taking place in Charlottetown from 1-4pm at the Experimental Farm off of Mt Edward Road, by the roundabout. Tickets are $35.00 including tax and admission for children under the age of 12 is free. It promises to be a great event. Tickets are available at the following locations:
All Sobeys stores across PEI
Charlottetown Farmers Market (Island Sunshine booth)
Summerside Farmers Market (Emmerdale Eden booth and Red Isle Farm booth)
Timothy's, Charlottetown
The Turning Point, Montague
The Dunes Cafe
Off Broadway Restaurant
Merchantman Pub
By calling 894-9999

The menu looks like this
Sweet and Spicy Carrot Salad
Crunchy Cabbage Slaw
Buried Treasure Potato Salad
Fresh Breads from the Wood Fired Oven
Mixed Green Salad w/ Apple Vinaigrette
Roasted Pumpkin and Ginger Soup
Bountiful Harvest Beef Stew with Homemade Biscuit
Ida Red Apple Flatbreads with ADL Organic Cheddar and Mustard Cream
Cranberry and Sage Stuffed Sirloin Roast with Caramelized Onion Mashed Potato
Lamb Kofta Curry or Tofu Kofta
Curry with Mint Yoghurt Sauceand Naan Bread
Old Fashioned Apple Crisp with Cane Sugar Caramel
Candied Apples
Sounds pretty awesome to me. We're planning on going unless the barn is ready for the steel.

The boys were up checking out the barn progress tonight with Derek and they found a very dirty mud puddle. Derek said they splashed around and made a great big mess and had a great time. They each now have a pair of rubber boots so they are loving the puddles now even more than before.

Ben & Jake enjoying the sunny fall day

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

13th CSA Week

Today's harvest day went a little big smoother than last week's, I had my truck back, it was not raining and my helper was not sick. Much smoother.

This weeks large share included leeks, mixed tomatoes, red & yellow onion and a shallot, lettuce mix, swiss chard, green peppers (and the odd purple pepper), cucumber, zucchini, winter squash (buttercup, butternut or blue hubbard), parsnips, carrots and cabbage (green or red). The grab box had dill, cilantro, parsley, beets, rutabaga, and more of the above mentioned veggies.

If you still have leeks left over try out last week's potato leek soup, its a yummy one.

Winter squash can be cooked several ways. Check out the following sites for how to instructions.

Parsnips are typically much sweeter after they have gone through a few frosty nights but since we have quite a few in the ground I thought I would start digging a few for you to enjoy. Last evening I peeled and cut a few bigger ones and boiled until soft, then I mashed them with a bit of butter and salt & pepper. yum yum yum. A touch of brown sugar or maple syrup would sweeten them up for those that might find them a bit bland this time of the year.

If you have any amount of zucchini hanging around why not try this pureed soup recipe reccomended by Melanie, thanks for sending this along!!

Roasted Zucchini and Carrot Pureed Soup (with Curry)
- From Nova Scotia Cooking Cook Book

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Large Carrot
2 Medium Zucchini
1 Medium Onion
4 Cloves Garlic
1 tsp. Curry
Salt and Pepper to taste (a little pepper goes a long way)
4 Cups Chicken Stock
1/2 Cup heavy cream (35%)

Cut zucchini, carrot and onion in 2 cm dice. In a medium sized Dutch Oven, heat Olive on medium heat and add carrots, zucchini, and onion. Cook for 7 minutes - stir occasionally. Add garlic, curry, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Cover and transfer to a preheated 375 F oven for 15 minutes. Remove and add chicken stock and cook for another 7 minutes. Remove from heat, add cream and blend until smooth.

Beautiful mixed tomatoes

Buttercup Winter Squash

Winter Squash

Butternut Winter Squash

Blue hubbard winter squash

I'll leave you with a few recent pics of the boys. We went to Pleasant Farm on Sunday for the open farm day and the boys loved seeing the baby pigs, calves, and all the kids playing around the farm. It was a great day.

The boys getting to sit in Grampy's big blue tractor

Me & my boys

Jake staring down the camera

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

12th CSA Week - How many CSA bins can you fit in your car???

Today was an interesting harvest day on the farm. The weather was overcast and drizzly making for tricky walking through the garden lugging bins full of CSA veggies but I was thankful for no sun as I was without my harvest vehicle. Last Thursday I was all set to head to Summerside with the truck full of CSA bins, I had 40 minutes to get to town, just what I needed. I jumped in the truck after doing one last check of the bins (which I ended up being 1 short, my silly math, but thats another story) and when I went to turn the key there was nothing!! Oh no. I called Derek up at work thinking that he would have the magic answer but unfortunately it was not to be had. Plan B, back up the civic and down went the seats, who knew a civic could hold 18 bins of vegetables, I sure did not. It was a fast drive to town but thankfully I made it only a few minutes late and no-one was waiting, thank goodness. So all weekend Derek was taking things apart on the truck trying to figure out what was wrong. Thanks to his investigations he was able to track down the fried part and we're just waiting for it to come in. So my regular harvest truck was replaced with our lawnmower pulling a small wagon. Its actually what I used to use before we got the cap on the truck and it sure was slow going compared to the truck but I'm just glad I had something besides lugging everything from the field to the wash station back to the coolers in the barn.

The other monkey wrench in my day was that my helper called in sick around 9am. Yikes!!! So I put everything into high gear and amazingly everything got done in time for the Charlottetown deliveries. It was a crazy day.

This week the large share has lettuce mix, beets, carrots, garlic, red and yellow onions, leeks, quart of mixed tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, mixed beans, rutabaga, green peppers and superior potatoes (the final ones for the season). The grab box had kale, swiss chard, cilantro, dill, cabbage and more of the veggies above.

If your new to leeks then your in for a treat. Leeks are probably one of my favourite vegetables because of their amazing flavour.

Potato Leek Soup

3 cups chicken stock
1 cup beef stock
2 leeks (white and light green parts)
3 medium potatoes, cut in small cubes
2 carrots, cut in small pieces
1/2 onion
salt & pepper, to taste
summer savoury, couple of shakes
thyme, couple of shakes
Fry the chopped onions and leeks in a bit of butter for a few minutes along with the salt, pepper, thyme and summer savoury.  Add chopped potatoes, carrots, chicken & beef stock and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 1/2 hour or until veggies are soft. 

Cream of Tomato and Leek Soup
3 tbsp butter
2 leeks, white part only, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
8 ripe medium tomatoes, peeled & chopped
2 ½ cups milk
3 tbsp tomato paste or tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
½ tsp dry thyme
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
3 green onions, sliced
½ cup sour cream (optional)

1.Wash leeks very well; slice and use white and light green parts only (save the tops for vegetable stock)
2.Melt butter in large saucepan. Add leeks and garlic; cook without browning until tender. Add carrots and celery; cook 5 minutes. Add flour and cook without browning, 5 minutes.
3.Add tomatoes, bring to a boil. Add milk, tomato paste, or tomato sauce, bay leaf, thyme, salt, pepper and slowly bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Lower heat, cover, simmer gently 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf.
4.Puree, heat thoroughly and season to taste. If soup is thicker than you like add additional milk. Serve sprinkled with green onions and a spoonful of sour cream.

If you have any cilantro left from last week or grabbed some today from the grab box you should try out the below recipe, it was very tasty.

Cilantro & Mango Salsa

1 mango, diced
1 tomato, diced (I used 3-4 small tomatoes and a few golden cherry's all cut up)
1/4 red onion, diced
1/4 - 1/3 c cilantro, finely chopped
1-2 Tbsp lime/lemon juice (i used 1 tbsp of each)

Mix together and serve immediately with crackers, chips or tortilla chips. I let this sit overnight and mixed together before serving. It was a huge hit at a pot luck!!! Thanks Naomi for sending this along.

There are now 6 weeks left in the CSA 2010 program. I was telling everyone tonight at the pick-up that there were 7 weeks left but this is week 12 so that leaves 6 remaining weeks. Hopefully the fall frosts will stay away so we can all enjoy lots of farm fresh veggies for the remaining few weeks.

The boys turned 14 months old yesterday and I thought I would share a few pictures of their recent adventures. They LOVE going on farm walks to find hidden or forgotten treasures including dropped carrots, lonely cucumbers and their favourite of all, golden ripe cherry tomatoes off the vine. Yesterday I wanted to go and visit my neighbour but they were too busy playing with the lawnmower to follow me so I put them in the wheelbarrow and wheeled them over. They loved it!! Such great little farm boys already.

Exploring around the tomato patch

Ben loving the corn on the cob

They love the lawnmower

Ben on a mission to get to the tomato patch

Jake showing off his tiny teeth, perfect for eating corn on the cob

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

11th CSA Week

Another CSA harvest day has arrived and with it much cooler temperatures than last week. The extreme heat last week was a bit much for this cool weather gal and I'm much happier with the current forecast even though its going to be a bit damp for the rest of the week. The CSA large shares are full again this week with farm fresh veggies including: lettuce mix, carrots, beets, cilantro, purple or green cabbage, a pint of cherry tomatoes, a quart of mixed medium tomatoes, onions, garlic, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow beans and a purple pepper.

Purple Pepper for Tuesday's large shares

Lots of cherry tomatoes this week

The grab box had a few fennel, parsley, basil and more of the mentioned above veggies. You may have noticed the carrot bunches are a bit on the small side and indeed they are. We have started to ration the carrots to ensure we will have some for the remainder of the 7 weeks left in the CSA program. I planted lots of carrots but between flaming for weed control, possible bad seed, and who knows why else the carrot crop this year is much smaller than last. I have more carrots planted but they are still very small so until they get bigger the weeks carrot supply might be on the small side.

We have a new planting of beans just coming on now which is good because the last planting that I was picking got away from me and the beans got too big and its just not worth picking that patch any more due to the amount of big ones that are no-longer at the ideal eating stage. I'm hoping that by next week more beans will be ready, today's shares got beans, 1lb for the large shares and 1/2lb for the small but Thursday's boxes might be bean less unless the next planting ripens a lot in the next two days.

There is no formal recipe this week but I just wanted to share something that we have been doing for most of the summer. Twice/week we steam up a big batch of veggies, whatever we had kicking around in the fridge including carrots, beans, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, potatoes, etc. I would then fry up a big onion in the frying pan and add my steamed veggies. I would then beat up 8-12 eggs and pour that over top and cook on medium-low heat for about 10-15 minutes. When it looks like it has started to set I would then place it under the broiler until it finished cooking. I almost forgot the cheese, grate up a bunch of cheese and spread over the top before going under the broiler!! Our boys love this and its a great way to get the veggies into them. It should slice very easily into wedges.
We also started grating up large zucchini's and putting into spaghetti sauce or casseroles. The boys will never know : ) **A great tip from Carolyn, thanks**

What's new on the farm these days?
-Well, we are still waiting on the trusses for the new barn as well as the steel. We have yet to actually order the steel as we can't agree on a color, I want red walls with a grey roof, Derek is afraid the red will fade to pink but I think it will be fine.
-The broccoli and cauliflower are all finished now which makes me sad, it was a great growing season for both vegetables. I did have more seedlings started that should have been transplanted in the field in late June but unfortunately it just did not happen with all of the other work that was going on. I'm sure kicking myself now for not getting it done!!!
-The late greens plantings are all growing well but slowly!! The peas have germinated quite nicely and I'm expecting to harvest pea shoots in the next 2-3 weeks for the CSA baskets. The fall spinach has been a bit disappointing so far, germination has been poor for both plantings and it looks like I'll have to do yet another one to try for success.
-The yellow storage onions have all been pulled and are stacked in crates in the shed for a few weeks to dry. The red onions and the shallots will be pulled as soon as the rain stops and the ground has had a chance to dry up a bit

I was able to participate in Nigwek this past Sunday on Victoria Row in Charlottetown. It was an organic festival featuring lots of local Island musicians and some Island organic producers. The music was great and I saw so many people that I had not seen in ages. The wind was a bit crazy during the event but all in all it was a great day.

Nigwek on Sunday

Veggies at Nigwek

Taking time to enjoy Edamame from Barnyard Organics, very tasty

Barnyard Organics were there along with other organic producers