Archive for September, 2015

September 22 (Minestrone Soup)

It’s finally starting to feel like fall! To celebrate the season’s official start we are giving out our own apples and pie pumpkins this week. If you take a pumpkin you can use it for pie, muffins, bread, or soup. Most pumpkin recipes call for pumpkin puree, which is fairly easy to make; you just halve a pumpkin, scrape out the seeds, and bake, face down, until the pumpkin is very soft (you can put a knife through it easily). Then scoop out the flesh and puree it in a food processor until smooth. If you don’t use all of the puree you can freeze whatever you have left. If your recipe calls for 1 can of pumpkin puree that equals 2 cups of the home-made stuff.

Colchester Stand

I want to thank everyone who picks up in Colchester for being so very understanding about the stand closing early this year! Most folks have been fine with saving their missed share vouchers to use at the Essex stand. Because of this I will probably stop bringing extra items along to the Colchester stand unless I get a specific request. So if you missed your share in Colchester and would prefer to use your missed-share voucher at your regular Colchester pick-up (not Essex), please feel free to send me an email requesting the items you would like to “buy” with your voucher; I am more than happy to bring them along. Of course, as always, if you just want a double share instead of a voucher that’s fine as well. Feel free to bring along a friend if you feel that two shares might be a bit much for you!

Beef

We have sold out of the 10 lb grass-fed burger shares, but there are still a few 20 lb mixed beef shares available. If you would like one or have any questions please let me know. The pick-up will be in Essex on a Friday afternoon in mid-October. (Don’t worry if you can’t make it; we are happy to arrange alternate pick-ups). More details to come soon!

Soup

Nothing says fall more than homemade soup. The sausage and kale soup I mentioned earlier is incredibly easy to make, and very, very good. You can find a my recipe from a past newsletter here.

It’s also a good time of year for homemade Minestrone soup. This recipe calls for a little bit of green beans, but you are welcome to skip them or substitute some chopped kale.

Minestrone Soup

(Adapted from Epicurious.com)

        3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 6 cups low-salt chicken broth

  • 2 carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds

  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 4 small potatoes, quartered

  • 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 3 small zucchini or summer squash, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini (white kidney beans), drained

  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, crushed

  • 6 tablespoons pesto

  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add broth and next 7 ingredients. Increase heat to high and bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover pot, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.  Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into 6 bowls; garnish each with 1 tablespoon pesto. Serve, passing cheese separately.

This Week’s Produce

Single Share

Choose 5 options:

2 lbs apples

2 tomatoes

1 pie pumpkin

1 large bunch kale

3 zucchini (might be replaced by summer squash)

1.2 lbs beets

1.3 lbs carrots

1.3 lbs broccoli

1.5 lbs green bell peppers

2-3 lbs potatoes

Possibly: Flowers, watermelon, arugula

Small Share

Choose 7 options:

2 lbs apples

2 tomatoes

1 pie pumpkin

1 large bunch kale

3 zucchini (might be replaced by summer squash)

1.2 lbs beets

1.3 lbs carrots

1.3 lbs broccoli

1.5 lbs green bell peppers

2-3 lbs potatoes

Possibly: Flowers, watermelon, arugula

Large Share

Choose 10 options:

2 lbs apples

2 tomatoes

1 pie pumpkin

1 large bunch kale

3 zucchini (might be replaced by summer squash)

1.2 lbs beets

1.3 lbs carrots

1.3 lbs broccoli

1.5 lbs green bell peppers

2-3 lbs potatoes

Possibly: Flowers, watermelon, arugula

 

 

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September 14 (Corn Chowder)

The rain we needed arrived last week, and not a moment too soon! It looks like all of the summer favorites (beans, peppers, zucchini) survived, although it might be a while before we can start harvesting lots of cucumbers again. We should have all of these vegetables until we get a hard frost, which usually happens in mid-October.

The dry, hot weather was great for a few items, including peppers and watermelon. This week we will have large melons for everyone (unless you want to skip it and take 2 extra options instead). We will have seedless yellow and seedless red melons, and they are both really sweet and delicious. I have heard from a few of you that some of the mini seeded yellow melons were a bit overripe, but that shouldn’t be an issue with the large ones. If anyone does get a melon that’s too ripe to eat please just let me know and we can replace it with something else or another melon. I’m optimistic that they won’t be, though, since the two I’ve had have been perfect!

Thyme

We are going to be giving out fresh cilantro or thyme this week. Thyme is really good in soups and stews, including corn chowder. It also goes really well with roasted root vegetables and poultry, and is often used along with rosemary or sage. Thyme has a strong flavor, so a little goes a long way. Unlike more delicate herbs like basil, parsley, and cilantro, thyme should be added early on when making a dish. You want to just use the leaves and tender stems, removing any tough, woody stems (or you can just throw in the whole bunch and then fish it out at the end of cooking).

Grass Fed Beef

As I mentioned earlier, we will be buying a grass-fed steer in early October from Gerry and Cheryl Audet in Orwell and selling 20 lb shares. We haven’t yet set a final price, but it should be around $170 for the 20 lb share, give or take $10. We will also be selling 10 lb ground beef shares for $65. The beef is all grass-fed and cryovac packaged at a USDA-certified facility. The 20 lb share will be about half ground (in 1 lb packages) and about half steaks and roasts. If you buy a share and would like to request some of the liver, kidney, heart, oxtail, or suet that is fine; we will give it to you if we have it along with your share (it won’t count towards the 20 lbs).

Please email me ASAP if you would like me to reserve a share. The Audets have another half of an animal to sell in late October, so I can always buy more if there is a lot of interest!

Corn Chowder

The America’s Test Kitchen recipe for corn chowder is a great place to start if you’ve never made chowder before (or even if you have!). It’s also easy to adjust; you can make it vegetarian by skipping the bacon and using butter or oil to saute the onion and thyme. You can make it healthier by using half carrots and half potatoes, and also by subbing milk for the half and half. You can even skip the messiest steps: I sometimes cheat and skip scraping the pulp and just use prepared chicken stock instead of the water. You can also mash everything up with a potato masher a bit to make the chowder creamy rather than putting some of it in the blender. The recipe calls for 8 ears of corn, so be sure to take corn as 2 of your options if you plan to make it!

America’s Test Kitchen Corn Chowder

8 ears corn

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 onion

4 slices bacon

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

5 cups water

3/4-lb red potatoes

1 cup half-and-half

Up to 1 Tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

  1. Remove husks and silk from corn. Cut kernels from the cob using a chef’s knife, being careful not to cut away too much of the pulp. Then over a large bowl lined with a kitchen towel, use the back of a stiff butter knife to scrape the pulp into the bowl (once you try it you will see how easy the pulp comes away from the cob). Remove towel with pulp and tightly wring the pulp allowing the juice to fall back into your large bowl.
  2. Finely chop your onion, stack your bacon slices and slice them lengthwise, then cut them into 1/4″ pieces.
  3. Put a Dutch oven over medium burner and melt your 3 tablespoons of butter. Saute onions, bacon, thyme, together with 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, for 8 to 10 minutes until the onion has softened and the edges begin to brown. While that cooks, dice your potato into 1/2″ pieces
  4. Mix in 1/4-cup flour and stir constantly for 1 to 2 minutes, then whisk in 5 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add your corn kernels and diced potatoes. Bring back up to a simmer, then reduce the burner to medium-low and cook for 18 minutes until the potatoes are ready.
  5. Remove 2 cups of chowder to blender and process it for 1 minute until smooth. Return processed chowder to the pot, and add 1 cup of half-and-half, and continue to cook until the pot has again reached a simmer.
  6. Remove from burner, add corn juice, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and as much as 1 tablespoon sugar depending upon the inherent sweetness of your corn.
  7. Spoon into individual bowls and sprinkle each bowl with 1 teaspoon minced basil.

This Week’s Produce

Single Share

1 bunch thyme OR cilantro OR 2/3 lbs carrots

1 large watermelon (or 2 extra options)

Choose 3 options:

5 ears corn

1 lb beans

3 lbs potatoes

2 small butternut squash

1 large or 2 small cabbages

1 lb colored peppers

1 lb poblano peppers

1 bunch chard

1.3 lbs carrots

Small Share

1 bunch thyme OR cilantro OR 2/3 lbs carrots

1 large watermelon (or 2 extra options)

Choose 5 options:

5 ears corn

1 lb beans

3 lbs potatoes

2 small butternut squash

1 large or 2 small cabbages

1 lb colored peppers

1 lb poblano peppers

1 bunch chard

1.3 lbs carrots

Large Share

2 bunches thyme OR cilantro OR 1.5 lbs carrots

2 large watermelon (you can replace a melon with 2 extra options)

Choose 6 options:

5 ears corn

1 lb beans

3 lbs potatoes

2 small butternut squash

1 large or 2 small cabbages

1 lb colored peppers

1 lb poblano peppers

1 bunch chard

1.3 lbs carrots

 

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Newsletter for August 8 (Braised Red Kale and Parsnips)

We will have lots and lots of tomatoes this week; everyone gets regular field tomatoes, and we will have romas and even possibly grape tomatoes as part of the share. This would be a great week to make a pot of your favorite tomato sauce. I love a simple sauce with olive oil, garlic, and lots of chopped roma tomatoes (on pasta with some sauteed zucchini this is the best!). You could also do a crock-pot sauce with onions and lots fresh oregano, or try Marcella Hazan’s famous (and insanely good) tomato sauce with onion and butter.

We still very much need rain, and it looks like we should get some by later in the week. We have had a LONG dry period, and we’re hoping that all of the fields of summer veggies will recover, but we’re not 100 percent sure. As Shawn mentioned in his Sunday night update, the two items that are hurting most right now are beans and cucumbers. Fingers crossed for a lot of rain and an at least partial recovery for these very thirsty plants!

Melons

I am so happy that we have our own melons for CSA members this week! Our cantaloupes are juicy and incredibly sweet. When ripe (and they should all be ripe and ready to eat) they are a bit smelly, so if you don’t want your whole house smelling strongly of cantaloupe my advice is to cut your melon up right away. I remove the seeds and skin and cut the melon into bite-sized pieces and put them into a container and store in the fridge. This has the added benefit of making a cantaloupe breakfast or snack very easy!

The little watermelon we are giving out are another favorite of mine. These are yellow seeded minis. They are super sweet and also make a great breakfast or a healthy dessert. Seeds can be fun (watermelon seed spitting contest anyone?), but if you want to cut your melon into cubes and avoid the seeds they’re not hard to de-seed.

Parsnips

Parsnips are one of my favorite vegetables. They look like white carrots, but have a woodier texture and an earthier flavor. Parsnips are fantastic roasted (I like them with carrots and onion), and also make a great creamy soup, with or without potatoes. They can also be sauteed with onions and braised, as in the recipe below.

Braised Red Kale and Parsnips

If you’ve never tried braised kale, you’re in for a real treat. Braising makes kale sweet, and removes the bitterness.  Along with parsnips, this makes for a delicious fall side-dish. (Want to try just plain braised kale, no parsnips involved? Just skip the parsnips and finish the dish with a splash of cider vinegar)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 medium parsnips, peeled, quartered, and sliced

1 large yellow 1 bunch red or green kale, stems removed, roughly chopped

2 cups chicken stock

Red pepper flakes and salt to taste.

Saute the onion and parsnips over medium heat until onion and parsnips have softened, about 10-15 minutes. Add kale, stock, red pepper, and salt and cook, stirring often, for 8-10 minutes.

This Week’s Produce

Single Share

1 small melon (probably cantaloupe or mini yellow watermelon)

1 lb broccoli

1 lb tomatoes

Fresh oregano or 1/2 lb peppers (we will have hot and sweet)

(Remember: If you don’t want any of these things just ask to sub and extra option!)

Choose 2 options:

1 large or 2 small acorn squash

1.3 lbs beets

1.3 lbs parsnips

1.3 lbs roma tomatoes (might sub grape tomatoes)

1 large bunch red kale

3 zucchini (might also have summer squash)

1 $3 PYO voucher

1+ lbs sweet peppers

Small Share

1 medium melon (probably cantaloupe or some sort of watermelon)

1.5 lbs broccoli (will probably be one HUGE crown — we have a lot of these!)

1.25 lbs tomatoes

Fresh oregano or 1/2 lb peppers (we will have hot and sweet)

(Remember: If you don’t want any of these things just ask to sub and extra option!)

Choose 3 options:

1 large or 2 small acorn squash

1.3 lbs beets

1.3 lbs parsnips

1.3 lbs roma tomatoes (might sub grape tomatoes)

1 large bunch red kale

3 zucchini (might also have summer squash)

1 $3 PYO voucher

1+ lbs sweet peppers

Large Share

2 small melons or 1 large melon

2+ lbs broccoli

2 lbs tomatoes

2 bunches oregano or 1 lb peppers (will have hot and sweet)

Choose 4 options:

1 large or 2 small acorn squash

1.3 lbs beets

1.3 lbs parsnips

1.3 lbs roma tomatoes (might sub grape tomatoes)

1 large bunch red kale

3 zucchini (might also have summer squash)

1 $3 PYO voucher

1+ lbs sweet peppers

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Newsletter for September 1 (Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread)

We  will be harvesting lots of corn this week, just in time for Labor Day, but a few items (like beans) are in need of a good rainstorm to really start producing. The dill, cilantro, and arugula that we planted in early August also need some rain; they all look good but are still too small to pick for the CSA (we are letting folks pick their own, though, if you’d like to do that!)

The lack of rain does mean one good thing, though; the fall raspberries are doing well, and should last at least a day or two after being picked. That being said it’s usually smart not to hang onto them for too long — they’re still by far the most perishable item we’re giving out!

Parsley

Unlike the dill and cilantro, the parsley is thriving in this hot, dry weather. We will have both curly and flat leaf parsley this week. I find that curly parsley is a bit milder than flat, and also makes a nice garnish. Flat leaf parsley is good for cooking, since it’s easier to chop and has a slightly stronger flavor. Both are good in potato salad, pasta salad, green salad, and even bean or cucumber salads. Parsley is also a main ingredient in tabouli, which is delicious, especially on hot days! (Want extra parsley and some mint to make your tabouli? Folks who pick up is Essex can use a PYO voucher towards fresh herbs from the herb garden on pick-up days.

Coupons and Discounts

If you’d like lettuce this week, don’t forget your coupon when you pick up your share! We will have lettuce for sale at both stands, and CSA members can get it for $1.29/head. The lettuce  isn’t our own (some of our later plantings did poorly), but they are nice, large heads of red and green leaf.

As always, we also have Vermont cheese for sale, and CSA members get a dollar off.

Beef and Salmon Shares

As we do most years, we will be buying a VT-raised grass-fed steer (or two) and selling shares in October. I will have more info on that in September. My neighbor Elana, who is co-owner of Wood Mountain Fish, also let me know about a great opportunity for those of you who’d be interested in buying a share of sustainably harvested Alaskan sockeye salmon. The salmon is sold by a fisherman-owned collective, and all of Wood Mt Fish’s profits (for organizing the shares here in Chittenden county) go to the VT Foodbank. You can see prices and reserve a share here, or email me with any questions.

Cornbread Recipes

I love any recipe involving cornbread. A CSA member sent me a recipe last year for a cornbread and zucchini casserole with sausage and cheddar cheese (very similar to this one) that was easy, fantastic, and a huge hit whenever I  brought it anywhere. If you have a little more time and want to make something from scratch, the cheddar-jalapeno cornbread recipe below (with fresh sweet corn) is also sure to be hit!

Cheddar-Jalapeno Cornbread

(Adapted from Marthastewart.com)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. In a large bowl, stir together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, and eggs. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and stir just until combined (do not overmix). Stir 1 1/4 cups grated cheddar, corn kernels, and jalapenos into batter. Transfer batter to pan and smooth top. Top with 1/4 cup grated cheddar.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 15 minutes, before serving.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more, room temperature, for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow or white cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1-3 jalapenos, seeds removed, chopped.

This Week’s Produce

Single Share

1 half-pint berries (probably raspberries)

1 bunch parsley or 1 cuke

Choose 4 options

6 ears corn

2+ lbs potatoes

1.3 lbs green peppers

1.3 lbs pickling cukes

3 summer squash or zucchini

1.5 lbs eggplant

1 large or 2 small cabbages

1.3 lbs carrots

1 lb chili peppers

1 $3 PYO voucher

1+ lbs green tomatoes (this is the last time we will have these — now is the time to try fried green tomatoes!)

Small Share

1 half-pint berries (probably raspberries)

1 cucumber

1 bunch parsley or 1 extra cuke

Choose 5 options

6 ears corn

2+ lbs potatoes

1.3 lbs green peppers

1.3 lbs pickling cukes

3 summer squash or zucchini

1.5 lbs eggplant

1 large or 2 small cabbages

1.3 lbs carrots

1 lb chili peppers

1 $3 PYO voucher

1+ lbs green tomatoes (this is the last time we will have these — now is the time to try fried green tomatoes!)

Large Share

2 half-pint berries (probably raspberries)

1 cucumber

1 bunch parsley or 1 extra cucumber

1 bunch radishes (or 2 extra cucumbers)

Choose 7 options

6 ears corn

2+ lbs potatoes

1.3 lbs green peppers

1.3 lbs pickling cukes

3 summer squash or zucchini

1.5 lbs eggplant

1 large or 2 small cabbages

1.3 lbs carrots

1 lb chili peppers

1 $3 PYO voucher

1+ lbs green tomatoes (this is the last time we will have these — now is the time to try fried green tomatoes!)

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