Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Veggies, New Faces

Greetings everyone!  A big thank you to Will for covering the newsletter stuff for me the past couple weeks I've been away.  It is good to be home.

It's true, times are getting cooler (just a bit!) and this has paved the way for a bigger array of produce in the CSA for all you folks...as well as at the Farmer's Market stand for our other loyal buyers!  Receiving a full day of rain was a huge boost to all the brand new babies that have sprouted or have been transplanted just recently.  It has been pleasantly brisk the nights since, leaving lots of dew on the plants in the morning.  We've come a long way from that long, harsh drought!  It's back to our cool and colorful salad mixes, tangy arugula, crispy radishes, beets and more varieties to accent our braising mixes.  Bok choy, broccoli, kale, spinach, turnips and more peas are yet to come, announcing Summer CSA's finale of delicious local, organic fare.  But don't worry, we still have potatoes and garlic aplenty, and August surely isn't over.  80 degree days are encouraging for tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and basil, while the nights are cool and reassuring to cool crops.  Great heat for the ones that like it hot, but not too rough on the ones that like it a bit milder.  In fact, August and September are the months that we can give all you folks the widest variety of what we could possibly grow!  Enjoy it while you can.

We've got an excellent crew working on the farm now to meet up with the challenges of managing such a wide collection of vegetables for all you members and organic supporters.  Hannah, my sister, is our newest face and she is throwing herself into the game with a lot of energy and optimism.  She is already proving herself to be a great help even within the couple days she has been here!   There is Louie, our longest standing worker, who probably knows this farm better than anyone else.  His long and steady work ethic is very admirable, going to bed early and rising early to work an amazing amount without stopping.  Then there is Randall, also a long-standing worker of three years, who contributes much to the farm with his knowledge of nature, biology, ecology and handy-man skills.  Next is Mike, who really knows how to set the pace.  He tackles a good load of tractor work and hard labor, getting a lot done in a day.  He is also quite a wheeler-dealer at the Farmer's Market in Cedar Rapids!  We can't forget the other Mike, a certain Michael Webb, who is the mechanic and technician genius here at the farm, making sure all the vehicles and appliances run at their best.  Laura is our part time worker, adept at farm stuff manual dexterity and detail, such as picking, pruning, weeding and seed-starting.  She greatly enjoys transplanting.  Then there is Derek of course, the gel that holds it all together and makes it happen! 

Reminder to you all to sign up for Fall CSA soon if you want to take part!  Remember we can't serve as many CSA members then as we can now, so membership is limited!  Sign up online by clicking the tab above!

Enjoy the cooler summer nights, eat great and enjoy the variety!  See you at market!


On the table this week:

  •  Kale bunch
  • Sungold Cherry Tomatoes
  • Summer Squashes
  • Garlic
  • Basil
  • Broccoli
  • Potatoes
  • Arugula
  • Radishes


Recipes

Arugula Pesto, Ricotta, and Smoked Mozzarella Pizza (www.huffingtonpost.com)  

Ingredients

  • Cornmeal, for dusting
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded smoked mozzarella cheese
  • 1 packed cup (1 ounce) arugula
  • Flour, for dusting
  • 1 (1-pound) ball store-bought pizza dough
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • 2 plum tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick

Directions

  • In a food processor, blend the ricotta, garlic, salt, and pepper until smooth. Add the smoked mozzarella and arugula. Pulse until just combined but still chunky.
  • On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 14-inch circle, 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Spread the ricotta mixture on top, leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange the tomato slices on top and drizzle with olive oil. 

Hard-Cooked Eggs with Radishes and Anchovy-Butter Crostini  (www.marthastewart.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 olive oil-packed anchovy fillets, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 large hard-cooked eggs, cooled and halved
  • 2 to 3 bunches radishes, such as French Breakfast and Easter Egg, washed well
  • 1 medium baguette, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds and toasted
  • Flaky sea salt, such as fleur de sel, or coarse salt, for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Stir together butter, anchovies, and garlic. Serve eggs, radishes, and baguette rounds with anchovy butter and a small pile of salt, for sprinkling.

*************

Please tell us if you can't identify something on the market table, don't know what to do with a particular item, have a food allergy we should know about, or if you have other questions or comments. We love to hear from you!   


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fall Flux!

   This is a great time of year to witness change. Changes in weather, changes in vegetable varieties, and changes in staff. Our intern, Lucas, just left Sunday with kind words and a few hugs, he is heading to Senegal with the Peace Corps. We wish him safe travels and lots of luck. Adrian will return soon from her trip out west, and will be returning with her sister, Hannah, who will be lending us a hand while she's out here. More friendly faces to look forward to.
   We are working hard to get more planting in for the end of the Summer CSA and Fall CSA. The first signs of our work paying off are really showing with beautiful rows of beets, arugula, turnips and collards that may or may not be visible from outer space. Anyway this weeks box is out of this world lets take a look at it, shall we.

What's in the box? (an alphabetically organized experience)
Basil
Beets
Broccoli
Garlic
Kale
Potatoes
Squash
Sungolds or Heirloom Tomatoes
SURPRISES

Recipe Ideas

As cool as it may seem to getting, at least at night, its certainly still hot enough to try this cool, refreshing summer  beverage,  BEET LEMONADE!!

MAKES 8 CUPS

1 small beet, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup lemon juice (approximately 5 lemons)
1/2 cup sugar
6 cups water, divided


1. Attach the shredding blade to a food processor and shred the beet chunks (you should end up with about 1 cup of shredded beets). Scoop shredded beets into a bowl and set aside. Remove food processor bowl from base and rinse out; replace the clean bowl onto the food processor and insert the regular processor blade. Add shredded beets, lemon juice, sugar and 1 cup of water and process until smooth.

2. Strain beet mixture through a sieve into a large bowl, pressing with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. (You should end up with about 2 cups of liquid.) Transfer liquid into a pitcher and dilute with remaining five cups of water.  Taste and adjust sugar or water levels to taste, and refrigerate before serving.  

Recipe from saveur.com

Echollective twists,
Try adding ginger to the shredded beet and using honey as your sweetener.

Peach, Mozzarella, and Basil Salad

 

Serves 4| Hands-On Time: 10m| Total Time: 10m

Ingredients

  • ripe peaches (peeled, if desired)
  • 1  cup  fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 8  ounces  fresh mozzarella, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2  teaspoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  black pepper

Directions

  1. Cut each peach into 6 to 8 wedges, then cut each wedge in half crosswise.
  1. In a large bowl, combine the peaches, basil, and mozzarella. Drizzle with the oil, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and toss. (You can cover and refrigerate the salad for up to several hours.) Serve cold or at room temperature.  
Recipe from realsimple.com
 
The Echollective twist, 
Try adding Thinly sliced Kale and Sungolds 
 
SUMMER SQUASH AU GRATIN 
3 med. yellow summer squash, sliced
4 tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 c. grated cheddar cheese
4 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. milk
1 sm. chopped onion
Boil squash and onion 5 minutes. Drain and place in casserole dish. Melt butter in top of double boiler. Add flour and seasonings. Stirring constantly, add milk a little at a time. Cook until thickened. Add cheese and stir until melted. Pour over summer squash. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes
 
 
Recipe from cooks.com
The Echollective Twist 
Add whole sungolds to the top and add parmesan cheese  both before baking for extra color
 
 
One again this is Will covering for Adrian enjoy the food!



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cool Runnings Out Here At Echollective

Cooler temps and rains mean mostly good things out here on the farm, which means good things for you at home and in your kitchen. We were able to squeeze in plantings of lettuce, beets, squash, peas and an array of brasicas. Soon we will be back to that wonderful time we call "the salad days" with beautiful heads of lettuce and an autumn mix that is delicate and delectable. Enough about the future lettuce, let us talk about the bounty of this weeks box which includes.
-Kale
-Sungolds
-Summer Squash and Zucchini
-Garlic
-Mint
-EXTRA BASIL!
-Broccoli
-Purslane
-Potatoes
...and a little something extra

Here's an idea from my own snack attack-

Roasted Pesto Squash-
The what:
Salt and Pepper
olive oil
1 head garlic
Fresh Basil
Nuts of your choice (I recommend sunflower seeds)
4 Summer squash
optional- parmesan,  any veggies you like the flavor of when roasted (I like hot and sweet peppers, onion, carrot, tomatoes, even oyster or shiitake mushrooms)

The how:
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2) Break garlic down into individual cloves and peel
3) Rough chop any extra veggies you may be adding to yer pesto(excluding squash)
4) Combine garlic cloves, veggies, and nuts in bowl and toss with olive oil
5) Lay in a shallow pan in a single layer place in oven until garlic starts to brown usually about 10 minutes
6) Remove from pan and place in contents into blender or food processor with 1/2 cup basil and 1/4 cup olive oil
7) Do not turn off oven
8) Blend until desired texture is reached
9) Cut squash into "half moons" -halve the squash the long way the slice into semicircles
10) Mix squash and pesto and return it to its oven home for another 15 minutes or until edges of squash start to brown
11)Remove and serve

Its getting late so it is time for the old cutty-pasty

ooh this one looks good from simplyrecipes.com

Tomato, Cucumber, Purslane Salad Recipe

Especially good served with grilled seafood.

Ingredients

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, quartered lengthwise, seeds removed and discarded, then chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 bunch purslane, thick stems removed, leaves chopped, resulting in about 1/2 cup chopped purslane
  • 1 minced seeded jalapeno chile pepper
  • 2-3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

Method

Combine all ingredients in a serving bowl. Salt to taste.


A little something for the grown-ups

The Real Mojito
from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 10 fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar, or to taste
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 1/2 fluid ounces white rum
  • 1/2 cup club soda

Directions

  1. Place mint leaves and 1 lime wedge into a sturdy glass. Use a muddler to crush the mint and lime to release the mint oils and lime juice. Add 2 more lime wedges and the sugar, and muddle again to release the lime juice. Do not strain the mixture. Fill the glass almost to the top with ice. Pour the rum over the ice, and fill the glass with carbonated water. Stir, taste, and add more sugar if desired. Garnish with the remaining lime wedge. 

With an Echollective twist; 
 Try crushing and rubbing basil with the mint mmmhmmm.


That'll do it for this week, this is Will filling in for Adrian. Sorry about all the grammar.


Monday, August 6, 2012

A Whiff of Autumn...

Greetings all!  Hope you are well.

A lot of changes are happening here in the workdays at Echollective CSA.  We are switching our gears slowly as we approach the fall.  It's still a ways yet as August has only begun, but when it comes to organic farming, you gotta plan and think ahead!  A few cool nights here and there (it got down to the 50s last night!), as well as some brisk morning breezes, have already given me that whiff of autumn...makes me feel like fall is coming on.  I love that feeling! 

Speaking of Autumn: Echollective Fall CSA is open for sign-up on our online site through Small Farm Central!  Like to participate in our Fall CSA?  You can sign up as you did for our Summer CSA by clicking the tab above, "CSA Signup," and following the prompts.  Remember, if you are already a member you can renew your membership and receive special offers/discounts!  There will be more Fall CSA info to come!  Sign up now, the sooner the better...during Fall we take a smaller amount of members...the early bird gets the worm!

CSA has been going really well for us, and we hope really well for all of you, but we would like to make a quick statement regarding our CSA pickups.  We do our best to accommodate folk's schedule changes; people have to go out of town, or things just happen so that you can't make it to pick up your veggies, and we understand that.  If you cannot pick up a Wednesday and must pick up a Friday or Saturday, or vice versa, we are willing to take a note of it and get your veggies to you.  For the most part, things have been going smoothly when people switch-up.  However, we ask that you also accommodate us on that account...recently we had several CSA members arrive unannounced and asking for a box.  For reasons I will explain, we can't do that!  If you would like to make a pick-up change, please contact us in advance!  If you show up at random and ask for a share, we will say no, because this is unfair for other members.  Each day before CSA pickup, we only pack the exact amount of each share for folks who are officially signed up for that pickup, or who have arranged with us beforehand (whether by phone or email) that they will be picking up then instead of their usual day.  Let's say someone shows up asking for a box on a day we didn't plan to get them one, and we give them one from the shares we packed.  Obviously, this means that some other CSA member won't get their share, or not get the selection that all the other members received.  Basically, doing this doesn't work and is unfair to other CSA members.  Again: if you would like to switch days, we're alright with it, just let us know in advance!  If for whatever reason you couldn't contact us and you show up wanting a share, we will ask you to come back at the end of the market and you can choose from what we have leftover, or you can arrange to pickup up another share next market.  That is the most we can do.  Doing anything else would be giving certain members preference over others.  Sorry...there are no "preferred" CSA members.  You are all important!

The transition to Fall happens slowly so we've got to start early, which involves getting on top of a variety of things at this time.  Starting seeds that take a while to germinate and mature to a pick-able stage in the ideal peak of fall is especially important!  If we snoozed, we'd lose; our veggies would be ready to harvest at a wintery time when frost could damage them or worse, compromising appearance, flavor...or both!  (Of course some veggies taste delicious after a kiss of frost: spinach, kale and broccoli especially!)

This is also a time when we need to get our greenhouses, both permanent and temporary, together and ready.  You may remember in previous newsletters from the winter when I talked about our "cats," short for "caterpillars", our pet name for our temporary moveable high-tunnels.  Well, we are taking apart the pieces of our cats in their old fields from this past winter in preparation for moving them to their new fields for season extension.  They do us a great justice keeping our winter greens alive during the snowy winter.  Not to mention our permanent greenhouses/high tunnels!  They must be fixed by this winter.  Due to a combination of mishaps and several intensely windy storms, our greenhouses have had all their plastic ripped off throughout the season!  Our hot season crops are basically nestled in the skeletons of high tunnels...but no matter.  We are actually relieved and assured that if we actually had intact plastic over our structures, our eggplants, peppers and tomatoes would not be setting fruit and their growth tips would have fried.  It would be so hot in there!  So it is actually a good thing.  The wild storm that passed through our area just this last Saturday tore away the last of it, while blowing about a huge mess of farm equipment and dumping an inch of rain on us.  Don't worry, we are more grateful for the rain than resentful about having to pick up some mess.

Lots of fall seeds have already been sewn in flats as well as broadcasted out in our fields, many of which have already sprouted and are doing well.  There will be a lot of beets, both golden and red this fall!  Several flats as well as an entire field have been planted that will be filled with rows upon rows of them!  We are taking care to water them diligently, although the rain from Saturday gave us a good head start.  Bok choi, red choi and cilantro have sprouted, along with several lettuce varieties for our fall and winter salad mixes and head lettuces!  New Red Fire, Ruby Sky, Cherokee, Magenta, Coastal Star...mostly reddish-pink with green types of lettuce, having such pretty names to boot.  There are even more on the way, some mostly green varieties.  A planting of choi, arugula, and kale are already sprouting out in our fields.  A new round of sugar snaps have already been sewn for fall CSA.  A couple cooler weather broccoli strains have been planted indoors to start along with napa cabbages, dandelions/chicory, ruby red and several other colors of swiss chard!  We have a lot to look forward to, and we've gotten a good head start...we're working hard to water and protect our young seedlings from the intense, dry heat.  However, it's looking optimistic that we will be having some rain in the forecast sometime soon to give us a hand.

Our big squash fields are looking and doing great, they are already sending up flowers and producing fruit!  Looks like it may not be the end to our production of Yellow Zephyr squashes and zucchini...and it looks like we'll have cucumbers after all!  There will also be many other different summer and winter squashes to choose from.  In the meantime, tomatoes and basil are producing well, and eggplants and peppers will be picking up their numbers real soon.  We are rich in potatoes and garlic!  We've been pulling out so many potatoes from our fields, so you all will be getting TWO varieties in your share this week, including our Adirondack Blue potatoes!  Not only are they a strange color but they are the healthiest of potatoes, chock full of anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants!  They are also responsible for the potato's blue color.  Well, the potatoes are actually more purple looking in my opinion but that's not important.

Look forward to the good stuff, and we'll be seeing you!

 CSA shares this week:
  • Motley Kale bunches (three varieties: Lacinato/Dinosaur, Winterbor, Redbor)
  • Sungold Cherry Tomatoes
  • Blue Potatoes
  • Red Potatoes
  • Basil
  • Garlic
  • A Surprise Choice!  (just you wait...)


Recipes

Blue Potato Honey Mustard Salad  (homecooking.about.com)

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds blue potatoes, each one cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large sweet white onion, diced
  • Dressing:
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

Boil blue potatoes in salted water until just tender. Drain thoroughly and toss with green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and sweet onion.

Whisk together honey, Dijon mustard, cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, celery seeds, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Pour over vegetables and gently toss to combine.

Blue Potato Honey Mustard Salad may be served warm or cold.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings  


Baked Kale Chips  (chefinyou.com)

Ingredients
  • 1 bunch (about 8 oz) Lacinato kale - see Tips
  • 1.5 to 2 tsp olive oil
  • Salt, to taste
Tips
 
1. Kale - I used what is referred to as Lacinato Kale which has large leaves than the other variety. It is also known as Tuscan kale, Italian kale or aptly Dinosaur Kale. If you cannot find this variety, you can also use the curly Kale for this.
Other Seasoning Ideas : Roasted Garlic tastes great along with these. Or toss it with Garlic flavored Olive oil. Truffle Oil would probably give it a great gourmet touch. How about adding comfort to these by way of sprinkling some Parmesan Cheese? Do share your ideas as well in the comments section for me to give those a try :)
Method
 
1. Preheat Oven 300F.  Wash the leaves well.
2. Dry them with paper towels. Or those who have the Salad spinner can use it.
3. Tear the leaves from the hard stem and hard ribs.  You can be meticulous and tear the leaves in uniform pieces or do a rough tear.
4. Add in oil.
5. Toss them well until coated. I personally found a little more than 1 tsp of oil perfect. But you can add upto tbsp of oil.
6. Arrange them on Baking sheets making sure not to overlap.
7. Bake them for around 15-20 minutes or until crisp. Cool them for few minutes before enjoying these crunchy health bites.  They get pale green from the dark green once baked. Make sure to bake a huge batch, since it will get over pretty fast.


 Garlic-Rosemary Mushrooms  (www.eatingwell.com)
   
Ingredients
  • 1 ounce bacon, (about 11/2 slices), chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms, such as cremini, shiitake (stemmed) and portobello, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine

Preparation

  1. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost dry, 8 to 10 minutes. Pour in wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

*************
 Please tell us if you can't identify something on the market table, don't know what to do with a particular item, have a food allergy we should know about, or if you have other questions or comments. We love to hear from you!