Monday, June 29, 2009

Week 5 of CSA

This week has been full of weeding and harvesting. That's about the summary of it. We also have had to pleasure of spending several of those days with our four year old niece. Here she is helping matthew harvest new potatoes.

We had a great time at the garlic scape pesto making event and with the scavenger hunt. It was so neat to see people roaming the farm with their buckets in hand looking for items to match the list. Here are a few pictures of the day. Thanks to all who came out! A light rain didn't seem to dampen any one's spirits and everyone still got pesto to take home.

Lots more stuff coming in right now. Let me remind all that the way we are doing our distributions this year, the earlier you come the more options you will find to choose from. We should have a good selection until noon or so, but when the market is almost over, the options are more limited.

I cleaned our canning area up this past week and found i have about six boxes of extra jars. Anyone interested in learning to can, just let us know. We can give you some jars and rings to get you started. They are mainly quarts, but there are some pints, too.

Things you may see this week:
New potatoes
peas snow or shell
lettuce heads, or mix
spicy greens mix
garlic scapes
maybe cucumbers

Cilantro and Toasted almond pesto:
3 T slivered almonds
2 cups chopped cilantro leaves
3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 T lime juice
3 cloves, garlic (or garlic scapes)
3 T grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt
black pepper to taste

toast almonds in a dry skillet until they are fragrant, about 3 minutes.
blend ingredients until smooth. from the Times leader newspaper

have a great week!
liz and matthew

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

week 4 of CSA season

a nest in the orchard!

our first peach harvest (we hope)

Welcome to summer! We have arrived officially and now each day will get shorter as we approach the winter solstice, but that is still, oh, so far off, and we will just enjoy all the lovely long days until then.

Things here are really starting to come on now especially after a few days of rain! We got at least three inches in the last week, which is more rain than we had in April and May combined, i do believe! Between the dryness and the leaf miners, this is the slowest start to the CSA season that we have ever had. But this week, we will be picking lots of new things and once we have a few more sunny days, i'm sure we will actually be able to see the plants take off with recordable growth throughout the day.

pea blossoms aplenty

we have finished the bulk of the planting and now will be mostly direct seeding and planting successions of crops for later in the season. The greenhouse still houses our fall planting of broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower (collectively called Brassicas), of course there are always trays of lettuce being started in there, and a few other random trays, but the greenhouse right now is almost empty.

This week we have a couple of really delicious recipes sent in by a member, i wish i had gotten them before dinner, so i could have made them, but it will have to be for a dinner later in the week!

I have been experimenting with saving money on buying canned beans and have tried soaking and cooking a large batch of beans and then freezing them ready to eat. It seems to be a huge success! I cooked about 4 lbs of dried black beans, we ate a huge meal of them (as two farmers are apt to do in the middle of the growing season), and then froze 6 more quart bags of them (4 cups in each bag). Now we just remove the bags when we want one and there is a large meal of beans ready to eat with just a few minutes of thawing. So, for $8 and the same amount of time as it takes to cook one cup of beans, we have at least seven very large meals of beans with a substantial leftover size meal. A big saving over buying the cans at the store. Yum!

I can tell that summer is upon us as our freezer and canning shelves are beginning to fill back up again. thanks to my mom, who helped me defrost the freezer last weekend and then helped me to start refilling it and the canning shelves. We canned strawberries whole and as jam and froze lots, too for smoothies this winter or cakes or other desserts! Don't miss the tail end of asparagus season and the last bit of strawberry season! There are several great u-pick places where you can get a great deal on berries! We'll be seeing local cherries very soon too, i'm sure. I'll let you know when i see the signs as we are lucky enough in Hector to have quite a few u-pick cherry spots.

Things you may see in your share this week:
Garlic Scapes
Green Beans! (Haircot verts, very slender, gourmet,expensive & delicious!)
snow peas (snap and shell peas toward the week's end)
chard or kale

will see soon:
beets, cukes, new potatoes!, cabbage

Some great recipes this week, check them out!

Linguine with Walnuts, Green Beans, and Feta from Sunset, thanks Laurie for sending this on, sounds so good and its perfect since the beans this week are Haircot verts!
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 cup walnut halves or pieces
12 ounces dried linguine
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 ounces slender green beans (1/4 in. thick) such as haricots verts
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup toasted walnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (5 oz.)
1. Put walnuts in a 10- by 15-inch pan and bake in a 350° oven until golden under skins (break one to check), 8 to 10 minutes. Pour from pan. Increase oven temperature to 500°.

2. Meanwhile, in a covered 5- to 6-quart pan over high heat, bring about 3 1/2 quarts water to a boil. Stir in linguine and boil, uncovered, until barely tender to bite, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and return to pan.

3. Trim ends from green beans; rinse and drain beans. In the 10- by 15-inch pan, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil and green beans; spread level in pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast in a 500° oven until green beans just begin to brown, 4 to 6 minutes.

4. In a large serving bowl, combine walnut oil, lemon peel, and feta cheese. Add pasta, walnuts, and green beans; mix gently. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.

Wheat Berry Salad with Dried apricots, this recipe is making my mouth water and fits so well, too as we have wheat berries and snow peas available this week! Thanks for two great recipes, Laurie! this one from better homes and gardens.

1 cup wheat berries, rinsed and drained
1 15-oz. can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
1 cup slivered fresh snow peas
1/2 cup dried apricots, sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped green onions
3 Tbsp. toasted walnut oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1. In a medium bowl combine wheat berries, 3 cups water and 1/8 teaspoon salt; cover and refrigerate overnight. Transfer to medium saucepan; bring to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 45 to 60 minutes or until tender. Drain; cool 1 hour.

2. In large bowl combine drained wheat berries, garbanzo beans, snow peas, apricots, cranberries and green onions. In bowl whisk together oil, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Pour over wheat berry mixture; stir to coat. Serve at once or cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours. Makes 8 side-dish servings.

Braised Red Chard and Shiitake Mushrooms:
10-12 dried Shitake mushrooms
1 bunch chard
1 tsp. Olive oil
1 onion, diced into ½ inch pieces
1 large clove garlic minced, or 1-2 scapes minced
1 cups water
Salt to taste

Cover mushrooms with ½ inch boiling water, Soak 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, wash chard, cut stalks into ½ inch pieces and set aside. Coarsley chop leaves and measure 6 cups, set aside separately
Heat oil in skillet with a tight cover. Add oil to coat pan, add diced onion and garlic and saute for 5-10 minutes, until soft and translucent.
Remove mushrooms from liquid, save the liquid. Cut the tough stems from the mushrooms and discard, quarter caps and set aside.
Add mushrooms to onions and cook for 2 minutes to brown lightly.
Stir in chard stalks and enough mushroom-soaking liquid and water to equal one cup. Cook, covered, over medium heat for 5 minutes, until stalks are almost tender.
Sir in chard leaves, cover, and simmer for 4-5 minutes, until the leaves are tender and wilted, but not dull in color. Drain excess cooking water and save. Season with salt and serve hot. Place cooking liquid in a bowl and pass it with some crusty bread for dipping. Great flavor! From greens glorious greens

have a stupendous week!
liz and matthew

Monday, June 15, 2009

Aunt Ruby's Brilliant Tip Top Bright Lights

Hey all, before i forget for the third time in a row, i wanted to let people know that we are selling locally grown, certified organic beans to CSA members! They are grown by Cayuga Pure Organics in Brooktondale. Right now we have black, pinto, and soy as well as hard red wheat. We have directions to cook them and brochure's about the farm with us at all pickups, except ithaca, sorry folks, you can get them at greenstar and the market rules at this market do not allow selling other farm's products.

Dry beans are an extremely nutritious and inexpensive piece of a meal. Hope you'll try some, its so great to have a local source!

Member, Julie recommends this recipe.

Cuban Black Beans

2 cups dried black beans (or 3-4 cans)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup white cooking wine (add at end, optional)
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar (add at end, optional)


Dried/soaked beans:
Sort and rinse dried beans, and cover with water (about 2 inches above level
of the beans). Soak for at least 4-6 hours, or overnight. To cook, saute
onions and green pepper in olive oil, and add cumin, oregano and bay leaves.
Add soaked beans with soaking water, plus enough water to cover beans about
1 inch above the level of the beans. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently
until beans are tender, about 1 hour. Add water if the beans begin to look
dry. Stir in vinegar and wine (if using) and 1-2 teaspoons of salt, to

Canned beans:
In a medium stockpot over medium-high heat, add some oil to pan. Stir fry
onions and pepper. Add all ingredients except wine and vinegar. Stir this
in when beans are cooked through (optional).

Cuban Black Beans are good with crusty bread, on top of rice, or wrapped in
a tortilla with some cheese and cilantro or lettuce.

For more bean recipes, and advice about soaking and cooking dried beans, see (they grow and sell heirloom beans in California). Also try the cayuga pure organics website

This time of year we are always finding plant labels kicking around our farm. We find them in the laundry, in the couch cushions, in every pocket, and crevice in the truck and in our carts. The Title of this post is the names of an heirloom tomato, celeriac, acorn squash, and swiss chard in that order. Its sort of like a dada poem to pick up a handful of labels and read them aloud. We like to reuse them, but haven't quite developed a system of where to put them for reuse, so we tend to just pile them all together in various spots until the time when we can group them all together for recycling next year.

I learned a shocking fact this week. 10% of all oil used in the US is used in plastic bags. This seems an appropriate time to remind members to bring their own bag to pickup. We of course always have some, but we do pay for them and then most bags get thrown away and not recycled. Please get a reusable canvas, cloth, or other kind of bag to reuse. We can bring Ithaca farmer's market bags for sale for $1 to the shares next week if anyone is interested. They are also available from all of the local grocery stores now (not ithaca farmer's market, but reusable bags). Also please remember to return grocery bags to the store to be recycled. They are number 2 plastic and it is the law that any store that distributes them must have a recycling bin for them.

There is currently a contest for america's best farmers market. Get on and vote for yours. Ithaca, corning, watkins glen, if you love it, you can vote for it at

Its been snowing here all week. Between the cottonwood's and the willows, the "flakes" have been floating down all week. It hasn't piled up too much yet, but we know where the snow shovels are if it gets out of hand.

Items you may see in your share this week:
garlic scapes (See below)
broccoli (not a total loss, in fact seems ok)

Will see soon:
summer squash and zucchini, cabbage

don't forget to mark June 28th on the calendar. We will be getting together at 3 PM to make garlic scape pesto and we will have a farm scavenger hunt for those who are interested. RSVP is mandatory for pesto-making so that we can shop accordingly, an email will go out early in that week. Or make garlic scape pesto your self this week!

Raw Scape Pesto
Garlic scapes make a pesto that is a pretty green color and a knock-your-socks-off rich garlic flavor. If this pesto is too strong for your taste, add mayonnaise or sour cream to dilute by 1/1 or even 2/1.
½ lb. scapes (chopped into 1" sections)
1½ c. olive oil
2 c. grated parmesan cheese
In a blender, combine the scapes and olive oil. Pour mixture into bowl and blend the cheese in by hand. Can be used as a cracker or pizza spread. Can be frozen in plastic ice cube trays and used later - this applies to the other pestos, dips, and dressings as well. Put them in a freezer bag, use all year for making bruschetta, with pasta or pizza.
ALSO, garlic bread: 2 or 3 cubes thawed works great as a substitution for the oil component of bread.

Pak Choi (works with Kale) and Greens with Ginger
Wash a mixture of Pak Choi and greens. Steam for 3 to 5 minutes. Mix 1/4 cup soy sauce (or tamari), 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon fresh chopped ginger, and 2 tablespoons water. Remove greens from steamer and pour sauce over them.

We said goodbye to an old friend this week- our 1985 Volvo station wagon. It was matthew's first car. he owned it for more than a decade. It served us well for six years of farmer's market. We loaded it so full that sometimes vegetables hung out the windows. I know i saw tomatoes growing in the cracks under the seats a few times from cherry tomatoes that had gotten loose en route to market. It was a great car, if we hadn't outgrown it, i'm sure we would have just driven it until it couldn't go any more. Any way, this is it leaving our driveway for the last time.

have a great week,
liz and matthew

Monday, June 8, 2009

CSA week 2

onions, newly weeded

We hope you all enjoyed the first week's share. The first couple weeks of the CSA its always a challenge for us to provide an interesting and varied share there are always lots of greens, which we feel ok about knowing that they are so incredibly healthy. But they are not the most interesting shares.

We apologize to those who missed the reminder about this past week being the first week of pickup. It was embedded in the announcement about the May 23rd CSA workday. We should have additionally sent it in a separate e-mail, sorry for those who were caught unaware, mostly Thursday's folks.

I see the forecast for tonight is calling for thunderstorms with a chance of hail and it seems like a great time, since it is early in the season to talk about the risk of CSA. In joining a CSA consumers are helping to farmer in buying a share in the bounty of the farm, but they are also buying into the risk of the season. In our previous six years of doing CSA we have never experienced a catastrophic loss leading to a major shortage of produce for the CSA shares, but it is always a possibility tickling at the edge of our minds that such an event could happen. The two most likely scenarios for a major loss seem to be represented by hailstorms and severe drought (though our pond would provide water for quite a long period of drought, in a severe drought, we would eventually run out of irrigation water.)

Each year we experience a certain amount of small scale loss, just this spring so far we have lost a bed of spinach, a bed of spicy greens mix, a bed of turnips and kohlrabi, most of a radish planting, a bed of beets, a bed of beans, a bed of peas, 2 1/2 beds of cauliflower, and perhaps we will lose all 4 beds of broccoli (the jury is still out on that one). Additionally the spinach in your share this and last week has experienced a major infestation of leaf miners, a small insect that burrows (or mines) between the layers of the spinach (and chard and beet leaves) and we have had to pick off half the leaves of each spinach plant due to the damage done by those small critters, so we have lost half of our spinach productivity. We also lost many transplants due to mouse activity which reduced our anticipated plantings a little.

The beauty of running a diversified farm is that in general, losses like these while frustrating, will generally not result in dramatic lessening in the share that you take home with you. We generally grow enough of a diversity of things that even several losses like those will not affect our ability to deliver a share that is tasty and still interesting to your table.

But with a catastrophic loss like a hailstorm could produce, the possibility exists that there would be not produce for several weeks as we replanted and waited to see what things would be able to out grow the hail damage. we know plenty of farmers who have been the recipients of hail storms and can't help but think that some day, we will be as well.

I have done lots of thinking about this possibility and it strikes panic in my heart. I wonder if we would attempt to cover and protect fragile items with the row covers that we use to protect from cold and insects. The problems are that there is not that much notice before a thunderstorm in which to prepare, maybe 45 minutes, but not much more. And while, if the hail was small, row covers may save a crop, if the hail is large it could destroy both the row cover and the crop costing us even more money in replacing our row covers as well. Then there is the worry about at what size hail will destroy the plastic on a green house and suddenly you can see what causes a farmer to lose sleep at night!

At any rate, we hope that 2009 is another year of bullet dodging and that we will continue providing produce to feed you and that even small losses are kept down to the bare minimum.

Things you may see in this weeks share
bok choi
lettuce heads
lettuce mix
beet greens

Bok Choi stir fry:
Bok choi is excellent stir fried. Here is my favorite way to prepare it.
Slice onion, sauté in skillet on medium until translucent. Meanwhile slice bok choi into bite sized pieces, keep leaves on one end of cutting board and stems on the other. When onions are clear (or close) add bok choi stem pieces, cook for 5-7 minutes until getting softish. Add leaves, cook for 1 or two minutes. Add soy sauce and serve over rice or noodles.

Velvety Carrot and Ginger Soup: from the Candle Café Cookbook

1 T olive oil
3 medium onions
5 C low sodium veggie broth
6 large carrots, diced
3 T finely grated fresh ginger
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t. ground coriander
Pinch of cayenne
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup tofu-cilantro sour cream for garnish
½ cup minced chives for garnish

In a stock pot, heat the oil, saute onions for 5 minutes, until softened.

Add broth 1 cup of water, carrots, and 2 T of ginger. Bring to boil, the simmer for about 20 minutes, until carrots are tender.

Let cool for an hour and then blend the soup with rest of ginger, cinnamon, and coriander until very smooth, thin with water or broth to desired consistency. Season with cayenne, salt and pepper.

Reheat to serve warm, also can be served cold. Garnish with tofu-cilantro sour cream and chives if desired. Is tasty without, if you don’t have the ingredients!

Tofu-cilantro sour cream for garnish:
2 t agar--agar powder
4 T fresh lemon juice
2 T fresh lime juice
1 lb. Firm tofu
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 T safflower oil
¼ c chopped cilantro
1 ½ t salt
¼ t cayenne
½ t minced garlic

Dissolve agar in lemon and lime juice. Blanch tofu for 5 min and drain, allow to cool for 20 min. crumble tofu and transfer to blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Will keep in fridge, covered for 3 days.

Don't forget to mark you calendar for the next CSA event, June 28th 3 PM.
have a great week! liz and matthew

Monday, June 1, 2009

first week of the csa!

watering in tomatoes

garlic looking great!

unusual though not completely out of the normal last frost range for our area, there was a frost warning last night for after 2 am. So we went to bed the last day of may hoping to not have a frost on the first day of june, as i said, not totally out of our historic frost window, but it has not been the norm the last 7 years to have a frost so late. After "heated" debate about how cold it could really get on the last night of may, we spend several hours covering the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, hot peppers, beans, cucumbers, zucchinis, and basil. ironic because i was just thinking how we would have to brag in the newsletter about how we are ahead in our planting compared to any past year. In the end, we didn't have a freeze last night, and it took us a few hours today to clean up the row covers, hoops, rocks, and what not today. a wasted effort, but better than losing all our plants at this point in the year. "its all in the game", so its cool.

covered up for the "frost" last night

we installed this bee nesting block this spring, its for orchard mason bees to nest in, they are supposed to be great native pollinator bees, especially for blue berries. the instructions said to hang the block facing blue berry plants, so we did. and have seen several holes with bees in them. Hard to say if they are orchard mason bees, as all i can ever see is a tip of the bottom or a little yellow on the top. i keep waiting to see one fly out, but am a little nervous of having my face too close when it happens. I'll have to break out the insect book and look them up to satisfy my curiousity.

Its the first week of CSA pick ups! Here are some things that you may see in your share:
beet greens
lettuce heads
lettuce mix
bok choi
baby carrots
potatoes (last year's)
cherry or regular tomato plants

As we start off the season, please remember, if you are happy with us, please tell your friends, but if you are unhappy with something please tell us (you can of course tell us when you are happy,too). every year we do a survey at the end to make sure our share is sized appropriately, that people are getting the produce they want and in general how we can improve the CSA experience, and it never seems to fail that someone will say that at some point they recieved a bummer of some sort, yet we didn't hear about it until october! We can't fix it, if we don't know, so if your share contains a soft tomato, bitter cucumber or some such thing, please do let us know so that we can fix it right away!

Basic Beet Greens:
Beet Greens
Olive Oil
Sunflower seeds toasted in skillet or oven

Put olive oil in pan, crush garlic and add it, cook 30 seconds. Rinse beet greens and add them slightly wet to the pan, cook 2-4 minutes until tender. Serve hot with sunflower seeds on top.

a simple easy to make dressing, that is tasty!
Honey Mustard Dressing:
Whisk together:
¾ cup olive oil
¼ cup vinegar
¼ cup Dijon Mustard
¼ cup honey
2 cloves crushed garlic
Pepper, freshly ground

we're planning our next CSA day for Sunday, June 28th. We will start at 3PM. Details to follow. last year we had a scavenger hunt planned for our june event, but alas, did not get to do it. Maybe we will pull together another one, or maybe we will make garlic scape pesto, at any rate, put it on your calendars now!
hope your week is good!
liz and matthew