Thursday, January 13, 2011

CSA Week 12


From the Farmer’s Wife
Week 12

   Greetings from your farm…Colvin Family Farm! Summer days are rolling by faster than ever and talk around the table at mealtime has been of a fall CSA! Summers used to stretch out forever  as a child…summer camp, white water canoe trips, picking tiny wild blueberries, hiking the White Mountains of New Hampshire, swimming,  and sail boating are part of my precious summer memories. School vacations were also long. We got out of school June 3rd, and didn’t go back until the Monday after Labor Day! Now parents are counting the days until school registration. I count my blessings to have my children with me all year long…no it’s not one big vacation; we home school. If any parent would like information on home schooling, just ask.
   Summer on the farm is an intensive time of work. Everyone takes part and we all are learning the lessons of diligence. Farmer Steve had the privilege to have a great teacher in high school that mentored boys through the Future Farmer’s of America club. He often tells us stories and quotes the creed, “I know the joys and discomforts of agricultural life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations which even in hours of discouragement I cannot deny…” So, another generation is being handed the baton of farming…we pray they will be found more responsible than the past two generations were. We are stepping back in time in some ways, but are looking into the future to see the best way to produce fruits and vegetables that truly contain the vitamins and minerals the Lord designed them with. If the soil is continually robbed of nutrients, chemical additives used, then the food produced will not be as the Lord designed…yes, it may look good, but what it contains is more important.  Be careful to choose the vendors at the markets that responsibly farm, or we are not only supporting their practices, we are are robbing ourselves of good health. Don’t hesitate to ask, those who farm responsibly are more than willing to tell you about their methods. They are proud of the extra time and effort they are taking to make their farm sustainable.
    The shares are looking the same now for a few weeks. The lack of rain has taken its toll, BUT crops are starting to liven up again. Seeds that were planted during the dry spell have come up MORE are being planted, and now we all feel encouraged. Thank you for your patience. Knowing that you have committed to take the risk along with us is comforting, but we desire to give you our shareholders an abundant harvest each week.  We now have an emergency water plan in place, so we will be able to water more efficiently if we need it again this year. Plans are in the making for next year that entails drip irrigation. Want to know more about our future dreams/plans? Just ask Adam, Caleb, or Farmer Steve when you pick up your share; they are bubbling with ideas!
   The boys want me to share my recipe this week for Zucchini Bars. We have enjoyed them twice since squash starting to come in. Folks at the church dinner were a bit skeptical of them when I brought them to a special dinner, but then again, they mostly eat out of a box or can. They are always skeptical about what I make…its never mainstream cooking. J When a few brave souls tasted it, they were surprised!

Zucchini Bars
¾ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ¾ cup flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 cup shredded coconut
2 cups shredded zucchini
½ cup nuts, chopped (I used Pecans.)
1 recipe of Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Beat butter until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Add vanilla.
  2. Sift together flour and baking powder. Stir into egg mixture. Stir in zucchini, coconut, and nuts. Spread evenly in well greased 10 X 15 X 1 ½” pan. (Use what you’ve got.)
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until a cake tested comes out clean.
  4. Cool, frost, and then cut into bars.  (Now the frosting was an option, but for us is now a must…try them plain if you’d like. I cut way down on the sugar knowing I’ll be frosting them. ) 

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 Tbsp. Butter, softened
3 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla

  1. Beat until smooth. Adjust consistently if needed with a bit of milk.
  2. Spread on COOLED bars. (I put the pan directly in the freezer one time to cool before supper!)

Our zucchini almost succumbed to the dry weather…I don’t know how zucchini ever got the reputation for out producing one’s needs, because we have never had that problem! Most folks will get it this week so I just had to share these two new recipes with ya’ll. If you didn’t get it, and don’t have some frozen or canned, file these recipes because they are both “keepers”. If you can, try these “crab cakes”! (Now you know how I got that odd reputation at church.J)

Poor Man’s Zucchini “Crab Cakes”
1 ½ cup shredded zucchini, patted dry
1 cup bread crumbs (I gave the how-tos to making these in Week 10-June 26,2010 issue of The Farmer’s Wife.)
2 Tbsp. grated onion
2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
2 eggs
Oil for frying (I used lard which is “the healthiest” for frying.)

   Combine all the ingredients. Heat oil for frying them (either deep or onto a griddle) and drop by rounded spoonful onto the griddle (or into the oil, we used the griddle method to avoid overly frying them). Fry until crisp and brown. Serve with either tarter or cocktail sauce.

   We have fields and raised beds in which we grow your food. The raised beds are in the process of being renovated for our fall kitchen garden. We use Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening method (see www.squarefootgardening.com) to intensively grow a wide variety of flowers, herbs and vegetables. The soil has become “out of balance” after years of “just adding compost” to amend the soil after each harvest. Now we are mixing the proper balance of soil once again and filling our beds once again with “Mel’s Mix” as described in his books. This is a BIG job, and we will prayerfully be done with it by planting time in August. We are looking forward to using these raised beds once again for our fall kitchen garden. I gave Faith Anne her own 4 X 4’ bed to raise her first real garden in. She has been raising strawberries for two years, but with the gardens becoming a working farm, we’ve stepped back and watched to see where gardening fits in. I think we’ve found our nitch again, and we’re excited. I just can’t use the term gardening around the boys…we like the term, “kitchen garden”…and yes, I’ll share with you if you’d like!
   We’ve also been busy in the farm kitchen. We froze more meals for busy days ahead, froze 10 meals of a broccoli/carrot mixture (that takes a lot of vegetables for us), and helped a friend learn how to use Pamona Pectin in her jelly/jam making. This dry season has been bad for our usual crop of wild blackberries. It reminded me though to tell you of my “find” of Pamona Pectin a few years ago. When I find something this good, I feel compelled to pass it on to friends.  I used to cringed every time I measured out more sugar than fruit to make jams and jellies. Then I read about a 100% citrus pectin called Pamona’s Universal Pectin. Gone are the days of making one batch at a time and buying a “ton” of sugar.  This pectin allows me to make as many batches at one time as I’d like…this can be dangerous unless you have someone else check your math before beginning. Two years ago I was making muscadine jelly when I realized I had used WAY more of the pectin than I should have! Steve had to bring grape juice home from town to rescue me from my mix-up.  Now I have Adam do the math with me and we compare figures. That day I made over 60 pints of Grap-E-Dine jelly at one time! It truly is a time saver! It is also a money saver, and thus a health saver as it uses just a fraction of the amount of sugar, honey, or even no sugar at all using fruit juice as the sugar. It can be bought in small boxes at most health food stores, but I buy it by the pound directly from the cottage industry that produces it. Call 413-772-6816 to contact Workstead Industries directly or buy online at www.canningpantry.com for about the same price.
     As the boys drift in and out of the farm kitchen picking your shares, I have been getting an idea of what is going into your shares this week. Kale is back! We have enjoyed making kale “potato” chips, in stews, salads, and also in this potato salad one amazing shareholder brought to our shareholders day here on the farm. It was tasty and the added color makes it an interesting side dish. It is  taken from the cookbook we are offering this season called, From Asparagus to Zucchini compiled by the Madison Area CSA Coalition (MACSAC). If you’d like a copy, just ask “your farmer” at the market this week!

Kale and Potato Tarragon Salad
2 pounds small “yellow” potatoes, scrubbed
7 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 medium onion (yellow, sweet, or white), diced
1 bunch lacinato kale, large stems removed, leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. white vinegar (I would use cider vinegar, white isn’t a true food.)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
¼-1/2 tsp. tarragon, divided
salt and pepper to taste
   Stem or boil potatoes until fork-tender. Drain, cut into large bite sized pieces, place in a large bowl, and cover to keep warm. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until translucent. Add kale and garlic; cook until kale is tender, about 5 minutes more (you can cover pan to help wilt kale). Combine vinegar, lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon dried tarragon, remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil, and salt and pepper. Add kale mixture to potatoes and pour dressing over everything. (It’s important to toss the dressing while the mixture is hot, to soak in the flavors.) Add more salt, pepper, or tarragon if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.

  I like to sit here and gaze out the window at the guys harvesting your shares [editor’s (Adam’s) note: please bear with Momma here—we’ve been reading “Anne of Green Gables” out loud as a family and “lookin’ out the winder” has become “gazed lovingly through the window”]. They are bent over in several different locations in the large field pulling carrots, cutting kale, picking beans, grubbing out potatoes, pulling onions and so on. God is providing for our needs. Rejoice with us for the gift of rain! It was amazing when the rain showed up last Friday. We were sitting on the porch visiting with new friends in our church for a few minutes when we looked up and saw it was raining over the field where the vegetables are growing, BUT not in the yard where the children were happily playing! Our God is AMAZING and answers our prayers sooo specifically sometimes. J We praise his name!
   I have one more recipe for you this week. I’m always looking for fresh ways to use my sprouts. This is a recipe I used to make that I’d forgotten about…it’s fun to reintroduce a dish to my family…some have had it and remember it, while others have never had it and it’s a new experience for them. It calls for sprouts you don’t usually get. Substitute the small sprout mixture with a handful of lentils if you have them for the wheat and alfalfa sprouts.
Cabbage Sprout Salad

1.    Toss Together:
     3 cups coarsely shredded cabbage
     ½ cup wheat sprouts
     ½ cup alfalfa sprouts
2.    Blend together separately with a wire whisk in small bowl and mix into salad:
           ¼ cup mayonnaise
           2 Tbsp. nonfat yogurt (or sour cream)
           2 plus teaspoons apple cider vinegar, to taste
           1 tsp. honey, raw sugar, or fructose
           salt and pepper to taste

    Well, supper is in the works. I’ve got new red potatoes steaming for Grandma’s Potatoes (see last week’s letter) green beans simmering, and chicken on the grill. I need to finish this up so I can slice up a few onions to sauté with mung beans. A hungry crew will soon descend upon my “quiet” kitchen to eat.
   Have a blessed week. Enjoy these fleeting days of summer with your families, for time does fly by quickly. It seems only yesterday I had my older children at home with me introducing them to the joy of gardening…look where it brought us!

Abundant Blessings,
Your Farmer’s Wife,

Val Colvin

“And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”
John 12:23-25