Sunday, June 21, 2009

Week Three

In the Bag
~Easter Egg Radishes

~Lettuce mix/Spinach

~Bunching Onions

~Herbs (Cilantro)


~Garlic Scapes (the top of a garlic plant...chop and stir fry—nice garlic flavor).


The Week in Review...

-The summer solstice spent weeding until dusk, walking up from the garden to a wine red sky…

-Bees swarming from their hives because they were crowded and needed room, an emergency intervention in full bee suits in 90 degree heat with the help of our Wwoofer, Gina, calmed them…

-Spritz the goat with an abcess gone awry…messy, need I say more?

-an explosion of potato beetles.

-all broccoli ripening at once…filling every nook and cranny of the produce fridge (anyone have an old fridge they want to get rid of?)


-serious, non-stop weeding—it’s like this every year and I swear every year it’s just too hard, but then I do it all over again…

-snap peas are coming, cauliflower I can’t even believe I grew is coming, tons more broccoli, summer squash are even beginning to form, tomatoes are turning into a jungle, potatoes are flowering, garlic is nearly ready for harvest…everything is growing, growing, growing—holy smokes, summer is here!

Creamy Broccoli Salad with Raisins and Bacon

1 head broccoli
½ cup green onion, chopped
1 cup roasted sunflower seeds or walnuts
½ cup raisins
8 strips bacon, fried crisp, drained and crumbled
1 cup chopped apple

1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup sugar
2 tbsp. vinegar

Wash and cut up broccoli into bite size florets. Peel and cut stems into bite-size pieces as well. Add onion, sunflower seeds, raisins, and crumbled bacon. In a small bowl, mix dressing, add toss with salad. (You can blanche the broccoli briefly if you like it slightly cooked, then rinse in cold water).

Asian Cabbage Slaw

2 cups shredded cabbage
1/3 cup grated carrot
½ cup minced onion
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon rice wine
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
salt, pepper

Combine dressing ingredients and toss with vegetable ingredients.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Piney Hill Farm Newsletter Week Two

In the Bag
~A few more Cherry Belle Radishes before the next radish bed ripens...

~Hakurei Turnips (the white ones—good for raw eating, on salads, or in stir-fry)

~Buttercrunch Lettuce/lettuce mix

~Bunching Onions

~Herbs (Tarragon, Cilantro, Chives)

~Sweet William/Lupine Bouquet

~A bag of mixed cooking greens (kale, collards, chard, spinach—when in doubt, stir-fry!)

-Tall Top Beets—Mix the beet tops with your cooking greens...

The Farmer’s Muse from Erin

Each day I walk the paths between garden beds, gauging each plant’s progress since the last time I checked. Sometimes there is nothing to see. Sometimes, plants have died. This week the broccolis have began forming heads, new flowers have come into bloom, and the onions have finally started to bulk up. The tomatoes inside the hoophouse are forming small fruits and the green beans have sprung from the ground.

This is the busiest, most frantic month on the farm. We are still planting lettuce, herbs, flowers and second and third seedings of carrots, beets and more; the weeds have completely overtaken half the garden and threatening the remainder, and deliveries have already begun so we spend half our time harvesting, packing and delivering the vegetables. By July we might sit back and enjoy the sultry evenings…

About Greens:

In this delivery is a bag of mixed cooking greens: collards, kale, swiss chard and spinach, but you can also add the tops of your beets, radishes and turnips if you wish. They are all packed with calcium, iron and vitamins A and C. They are also very high in dietary fiber.

Be careful not to overcook greens as this reduces their nutritional content. Boil for 2-4 minutes, steam for 5-8 minutes, or sauté for 2-5 min.

Mix them into an omelet, quiche, lasagna or casserole…or toss cooked greens with red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt…or sauté with garlic, butter and onion (my personal favorite, because everything is good with butter, garlic and onion isn’t it?).

You probably aren’t getting too many greens yet, but just in case you are, or maybe later in the summer, you can freeze them easily. Just blanch them for 2-3 minutes, drain and pack in zip-locks for use in mid-winter.

Spanish Greens from MACSAC cookbook

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 pound spinach, chard, collards or other greens, stemmed and well washed
salt and pepper to taste
¼ c golden raisins
3 tablespoons pine nuts

Heat oil over high flame in very large skillet. Add garlic cloves and stir-fry until golden, about 30 seconds. Discard garlic. Toss in greens. Season with salt and pepper. Cover; wilt greens 2-3 minutes. Add raisins and pine nuts. Check for seasoning and serve. Makes 2-4 servings.

Fresh Greens Pasta Pie
From MACSAC cookbook

6 oz. vermicelli
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1/3 c Parmesan cheese
5 eggs
2 teaspoons cooking oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups chopped fresh spinach or other greens
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/3 c milk
½ tsp salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a large pie plate. Cook vermicelli according to package directions; drain. Stir butter and Parmesan cheese into hot vermicelli. Beat 2 of the eggs and stir well into pasta. Spoon mixture into pie plate, and use a spoon to shape vermicelli into a pie shell. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 10 minutes. Set aside. Heat oil in small skillet, add onion and sauté until tender. Beat the remaining 3 eggs and combine with spinach, mozzarella, milk, seasonings, and sautéed onions. Spoon spinach mixture into pasta shell. Cover pie with aluminum foil. Bake 35 minutes; uncover and bake an additional 5 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Makes 6 servings.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Piney Hill Farm Newsletter Week One

In the Bag
~Cherry Belle Radishes (the red ones—you can eat radishes raw, but also cooked in stir-fry)

~Hakurei Turnips (the white ones—good for raw eating, on salads, or in stir-fry)


~Buttercrunch Lettuce


~Horseradish (the skinny root thing—a little goes a long, hot, hot! Good for meat sauces or an addition to mashed potatoes)

~Herbs (Tarragon, Cilantro, Chives)


~Swiss Chard (multi-colored stems...not to be confused with rhubarb... you can eat the stems and leaves in stir-fry...)

Farm members planting squash...

The Farmer’s Muse from Erin

I am a Virgo. I like things organized, tidy, and maintained. I want to feel in control. I am a perfectionist.

I am finding these personality traits to be at odds with farming. Vegetable farming is chaotic. At this scale, I have no control. Just when everything seems to be going well, I notice the turnips have become infested with flea beetles, or the cabbages are losing their tops to an unknown herbivore, or the peppers are one-by-one being eaten down to the root. “Stop eating my plants!” I yell to no one in particular. There is no one to blame after all.

This year the farm is supplying 65 full shares of produce to members in Wisconsin and the Twin Cities. We are also feeding two gophers, one delinquent chicken, a large snake, and an undetermined amount of small mammals with mysterious identities and eating habits.

This year farming has been more in control than last year. We were able to re-cover our hoophouse with new plastic that is not supposed to rip (last year our plastic tore off in a wind storm). We are cover cropping fields in preparation for next year. We cleaned our maple syrup equipment within weeks after the syrup season ended (last year we didn’t clean the equipment until the following spring!).

Members turned out in large numbers for the planting day. Many thanks to all who turned out. We planted squash, melons, and sweet corn galore. At ten pm, long after everyone had left, we realized it was going to frost on everything that had just been planted… Five of us went down to the field with headlamps and covered every squash and pepper.

We did this two more nights after that… the first week of June! We lost some things to the frost…some of which has been replaced or will be…

As a writer, I revise. I can go back and re-arrange my words, perfect them, mold them into a beautiful thing that on a really good day becomes poetry. I often try and do this with vegetables. I tend to them in the greenhouse, plant them tenderly in the garden, mulch, hoe, water and prune. I watch them grow. I try to create poetry. But where I can control words, vegetables sometimes fail. There is no undo button or delete or copy and paste or thesaurus or poetics in the garden. On a good day, maybe. On a bad day, the cabbage is eaten and the turnip leaves have holes.

The perfectionist in me would like to give you only the most perfect of produce. The realist in me must give you whatever we have. We wash everything here…but we recommend you do the same. Organic gardens are full of life…sometimes this life will make its way into your produce and home. Worms and slugs like organic veggies too.

Despite the frost, drought, extreme heat and now cool temperatures, we are off to a good start. I hope you enjoy the weeks ahead.

Creamy Spinach and Tarragon Soup with Apple and Toasted Almonds
From Farmer John’s Cookbook
Serves 2

2 tablespoons chopped or slivered almonds
1 apple, peeled, cored, cut into chunks
1 cup water
2 cups coarsely chopped spinach
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 ripe avocado, peel and pit removed, quartered
freshly squeezed juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon almond oil or olive oil
½ tsp. salt

1. Toast the nuts in a heavy dry skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until they are lightly browned and begin to smell toasty (not burnt).
2. Put the apple chunks and water in a blender and puree. Add the spinach and tarragon; pulse the blender a few times to partially blend in the leaves. Add the avocado pieces, lemon juice, oil, and ½ teaspoon salt. Blend the ingredients until smooth, thinning with more water if necessary. Add more salt if desired.
3. Pour the soup into two bowls, top with the toasted almonds, and garnish each with a fresh tarragon sprig.

For those who bought syrup shares, this is excellent!

Sweet Maple and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing
From Farmer John’s Cookbook

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons finely sliced fresh basil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp dry mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper

Combine and shake in a jar until blended. Toss into salad.

Opal’s Rhubarb Custard Pie
From the Gunflint Lodge Cookbook by Chef Ron Berg and Sue Kerfoot

Crust (pat-in-the-pan)

2 c. sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 ¼ tsp salt
2/3 c. vegetable oil
3 T. milk

Preheat oven to 450°F. In a sifter, combine flour, sugar, and salt and sift into an 8-inch pie tin. In small bowl, beat together oil and milk with a fork. Pour over flour mixture. Combine with the fork until all flour mixture is moistened. Remove about one-third for the top of the pie.

With your fingers, press remaining crust mixture as evenly as you can over the bottom and sides of the pie tin. Flute the edges with your fingers if desired. Set aside.

Rhubarb Custard
1 ½ c. sugar
3 T. flour
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 T. butter, cut into bits
2 eggs
3 c. chopped rhubarb

In medium bowl, mix together sugar, flour, nutmeg, and butter. Add eggs; beat until smooth. Stir in rhubarb. Scrape into prepared pie crust. Crumble reserved crust mixture over top of the filling.

Bake pie on middle shelf of 450°F oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F; bake until filling thickens and bubbles around the edges, about 30 more minutes.