Thursday, January 13, 2011

CSA Week 19


From the Farmer’s Wife
Week 19


   Greetings! It really feels like fall this morning as we package your shares! I have a light jacket on and anticipation is building for a good shower to come today! We are now classified as being in drought conditions here, and see the signs all around us.  Grass crunches as we walk on it and it looks like fall because of the lack of rain. On my daily walk with my little ones we see red maple leaves, yellow Green Brier, red Sumac leaves and more…the landscape is giving us hints of what is soon to come.
   My little ones are learning about assembly lines this morning as we package the lentils sprouts. Faith Anne (9) weighs and packages, Levi (now 5) removes the bag from the scales and keeps the scales cleared of dropped lentils, Luke (7) removes the air from the bags and seals them. Faith and Luke are practicing counting by 5s as they keep count of the bags…we end up with 78, ½ pound bags! We are experimenting with other varieties that we will prayerfully provide next year, Lord willing. Our favorite new sprout is Broccoli. It is reported to be very helpful in the treatment of cancer, so the price is expensive on a large scale. All health benefits aside, we just like the taste! Try it yourself if you sprout.
    At lunch today we had some mustard micro-greens on our sandwiches and wraps. Micro-greens are another experiment we’d like to explore this winter. We hear the term, “this winter” a lot lately. When someone has an idea for a new project that will take research and time, it gets put in the mental file for “this winter”.
   We are trying to switch gears a bit and include school in our busy days. This is a challenge as there is always something to be planted, something to be watered, or something picked! The school aged boys work in the field with the men during the morning; then after lunch and read aloud time, they settle in for their studies. It is amazing how much can be done in a few hours that takes the public school all day to accomplish! By working all morning, the children welcome the relaxing change of pace of school. The farm crosses over often into our school…Isaac is earning Distriubuitve Education and Agri Science credit in high school, and the little assembly line this morning taught about industry, how to read scales, and cooperation. Often a new bug is found on a plant and someone comes running in for the field guides. The children have been taught how to answer their own questions, and then they teach US what they learn. J Learning really never ends, even after we earn our diplomas.
   I just took the children for our walk…they rode their bikes and I jogged and walked. I nipped a few sugar snap peas along the way and enjoyed the cool breeze that may be blowing in a storm. Some of the men are under a big trees by the packing shed cleaning green onions, one is cutting Swiss chard, another is sorting cucumbers after picking them, and of course there are still potatoes to dig. You couldn’t buy fresher vegetables at the store! As I finished my “walk”, Farmer Steve loaded all the little ones up in the water truck to go pump more water out at the lake in the woods. With thousands of seedlings planted we can’t wait on the rain that might come. Noah (12) is hand watering with a 350’ hose. He really has to lean into it to drag it the last 100’ of the row! I’ve been sent into the house to make lunch. With 8 men in the house, their minds often turn to food! I have 5 loaves of homemade bread ready for sandwiches with lots of fresh vegetables and sprouts.
   In your shares this week is a surprise! Muscadines!! We like the old fashion simplicity of muscadines. They are native to this part of the country, and are less fussy to grow than the Concord grapes we grow. There are many health benefits also, from being high in fiber, to being a powerful antitoxin. We don’t go after the fad health foods, but just try to eat a well rounded healthful diet and enjoy the benefits God designed for each food He created.
   There is a lot you can do with muscadines…start by enjoying a hardy taste of them. They taste a lot like the old fashioned grapes my Grampy used to raise with a thick skin. Be careful, there are seeds. I usually make jelly from muscadines each year, but there is more to experiment with. Here are a few ideas!
    
Muscadine Ice

Ingredients:

·         muscadines
·         water
·         sugar
·         lemon juice

Preparation:

Stem, wash, and mash muscadines. Strain and reserve juice. Put hulls and pulp in a kettle with a little water; bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, adding a little more water if necessary to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and strain through a strainer or jelly bag. Add juice to the reserved juice. Sweeten with sugar to your taste and add a little lemon juice. Put in an ice cream freezer and freeze as you would ice cream. If you don’t have an ice cream freezer, put the pitcher or bowl of your muscadine mixture in the freezer. Set your kitchen timer for 10-15 minutes. When the timer goes off, stir and scrape. Reset the timer and repeat as often as necessary. It is worth the extra effort.

Iknow you don’t have enough muscadines in your share to make as large a muscadine pie as this recipe calls for, but you can adapt it to a smaller dish you may have. If not, just file this idea away for another, more bountiful year. It’s always fun to experiment.






Muscadine Pie

Ingredients:

  • pastry for 2-crust 9-inch pie
  • 2 quarts ripe muscadines
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut in small pieces

Preparation:

Line pie plate with half of the rolled out pastry. Refrigerate pie shell and remaining pastry until ready to fill pie. Mash muscadines. Separate hulls from pulp. Strain so as to get juice, leaving pulp and seed. Cook hulls in juice until tender, adding a little water if needed. Let cool, then add lemon juice, flour, and sugar. Put fruit mixture in prepared bottom crust. Carefully arrange top crust over fruit, lattice style, if desired. Flute edge. Cut several slits in top if top crust is left whole. Bake in a 400° oven for approximately 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375° and bake 30 minutes longer.
Serve with whipped cream or whipped topping, if desired.

Muscadine "Dump Cake"   

1 cup prepared muscadines
1/2 stick butter
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
To prepare muscadines, remove pulp; cook pulp until seeds loosen, then press through sieve to remove seeds. Add pulp to skins and cook until tender. Add sugar to taste, some grated lemon peel and a sprinkle of apple pie spice.
Melt butter in glass pie plate. Mix flour, sugar and milk in another bowl. Pour flour mixture over butter. Carefully pour prepared grapes over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Do not open oven until baking time is up. Cake should be brown on top. Yield: 8 serving 

   Last Saturday while you were picking up your shares at the market I spent the morning in the field training cucumbers up strings for support. I had my children at my side on different rows. As we worked our way up the rows I showed them how to take the sometimes longer vines and carefully thread them up between the strings…if they took too sharp a turn with the vine it would snap! Then from that point upward, the vine was useless. How much like training children I thought…each child is different like the vines. Some almost trained themselves as the little green tendrils reached for the next string. I have children like that…the ones with teachable spirits that are eager to please and mature. Then there were the long unruly ones that laid over on the other vines, wrapping their tendrils around other plants. They took more attention, and care to tenderly separate them, and then guide the vine up between the strings without snapping the vine in two. I have a few of these type of children also. They are the children the Lord uses to show me my total dependence on His wisdom, love, and patience. They need the extra care and understanding that the unruly vines did. They grew fast outwardly, but more slowly inwardly. I probably fell into the last category. I praise God for His faithful patience with me over the years to bring me gently to maturity.  
            There is always someone wanting the Cold Pack Pickle recipe that we made together here on our share holders day. So, the boys said to republish it. Now that the cucumbers are coming in better, keep a batch always working in your refrigerator if you like them. Don’t throw the brine out; just keep adding cucumbers and onions to it. (When adding a new batch of vegetables always salt the cucumbers and drain before adding them to the brine.) Today I threw out my first batch of brine of the summer, and am making a new round. I even experimented to see if lentils and green peppers did well in it. They did! I’ve adjusted the recipe for a smaller batch then I usually make. Double the size if you have enough cucumbers. J

Colvin Family Farm’s Cold Pack Pickles

 5 medium cucumbers
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup sugar
Up to ¾ cup apple cider vinegar (to taste)
Add Black Pepper to taste,
Optionally add water to weaken to taste
Slice cucumbers in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let sit 15 minutes. Pour off liquid. Add onion and mix well. Combine sugar and vinegar until sugar dissolves. Pour over cucumbers and onions. Add pepper to taste. Refrigerate at least one hour. Mix well before serving. Best made the day before needed. Don’t throw the brine out, but simply add cucumbers and onions each week. Keep your refrigerator stocked during cucumber season!
     As I walk down our long driveway that curves around the vegetable field I get to watch the growth of the plants. The fall crops are looking more promising now that we are using drip tape irrigation. We keep the truck busy pumping water on the green beans, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, lettuce, sugar snap peas, collards, mustards, Chinese cabbage and much more. Please continue to pray that Farmer Steve would have the wisdom needed to produce for each family’s needs. God has been faithful in the past and we trust Him to provide in the future.
   People have often asked how we can provide for our large family on one income. (When Steve was a consultant for La-Z-Boy) And we would always reply, “God has always provided.”  When we made out our budget it always looked impossible on paper, BUT God made the ends meet, and met every need. How can we be assured of this? We have seen His faithfulness time and time again over the years, and simply have faith that He will always be who He says He is… “Faithful and True” Revelation 19:11
    We have committed our whole life to Jesus Christ, what more could we do after He gave His life for our sin? As we seek to show our love to Him by obeying His Word (the King James Bible) He showers His love and blessing on us. Now that Steve is home farming fulltime we get to depend more fully on Jesus’ open hand of provision. He has proved Himself faithful in the past, and He will be today. Praise His name! “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Philippians 4:19,20
    As you and your family move into a new week, seek Jesus Christ with all your heart…either for salvation, or in total commitment to His will. I encourage you to read your Bible faithfully to know that will, and seek a good Bible believing church to further teach you. I pray you too will see God’s hand of provision…not only through your weekly share, but in the many areas of life you face.
Abundant Blessings in Christ Jesus,
Your Farmer’s Wife,
Val Colvin
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”   John 15:4-6