Our Blog: The Hoot
Wow! It seems like a northern California Winter Solstice this year! Snow for Christmas? Probably not. An Amish fella told me he doesn’t think we’re going to have a winter like we know this year. Who knows what the New Year will bring!
We want to thank you all for supporting us on our new venture into season extension for the CSA. This was our strongest autumn growing season yet. We planted a lot more food and the weather was mild. The diversity in the autumn share is seasonally predictable and shapes a different experience than the summer share. Summer is a sort of eating frenzy with many vegetable options every week. These late fall harvests aren’t as sleek and shiny as summer harvests. For myself, though, my approach to this fall food is more tempered and thankful that we still have vegetables knowing that shortly we will soon have no more. Roots and greens taste so much better in the fall than summer. There’s no debate here. It’s a little embarrassing really and I think summer knows it’s too emotional and intense. Summer is likely jealous that fall can provide the tender touch to bring the best in roots and greens. Kale and Carrots are never this sweet in the summer time. Radishes are not popular, but fall radishes have flavor other than fire. They’re mild and sweeter like the turnips, beets and greens of all sorts in fall. Is fall jealous that it can’t grow tomatoes and watermelon at all?
We’ll be in touch about the CSA for 2016! Signing up for CSA will be a little different b/c we’ll have a CSA Member program that will allow you to sign up entirely online.
We’ll offer some winter notes on project progress and other to do’s. We’re erecting two new greenhouses. These will be heated structures that will enable us to get a good jump on the season offering fresh greens and roots to those interested.
We hope you all have a nice time this winter.
We’re always interested in sharing information so if anyone reads a good book or sees a good movie, please share it!
Happy Holidays and Happy New year!
This is our Vacation time! So we’re off! Y
our Farmers, Chris, Aeros & The Who Gang
In your share: 3# beets, 2 heads cabbage, 3# carrots, 1 head escarole, garlic, 1 bunch kale, 3# potatoes, 2# radish, ½# spring mix, 3# scarlet turnips, The ferment this week is 1 pint kimchi ferment with our own ginger! The ingredients are komatsuna, radish, carrot, garlic, ginger, onion, hot pepper and salt. Please keep this refrigerated and enjoy!
Mash’em up! When I was traveling in Holland, I had a mixed vegetable mash that is delectable. Potatoes, Turnips and Carrots work wonderfully here. I know some people added sautéed cabbage to get their greens in. I like to spice it up a bit with hot sauce or roasted garlic, thyme, basil or rosemary.
Caramelize’em! OOhhh! Caramelized turnips with eggs in the morning is one of Chris’ go to’s! -or- sugary sweet caramelized carrots with rosemary for a dinner side or dessert with ice cream!
The fall brings out the best in radishes. They are nice grated or sliced raw on a salad. If you have never roasted radish or thrown them into a soup or a simmering roast, it’s worth a try.
We hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving! It was surprising to find ourselves outside playing cornhole without coats. It was in the mid-60’s and it felt good and creepy. There is a lot to be thankful for this year. It was nice to have some intentional time to think about all of it surrounded by lots of family and good food.
Harvest outside is just about finished for the season. We’re down to just 3 employees. Small repairs are in order and maintenance on machines. This is a good time to get greasy with tractor repairs and adjustments. Plans for next season are surfacing and, so too, is the education season. Farm conferences and intensives are common during winter when farmers have a little more cognitive bandwidth to absorb new information and buy neat shiny tractor stuff. There are great conferences out there that are for farmers and consumers. PASA’s (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) conference in early February is a good one to check out. Here is a link to their website https://www.pasafarming.org
Chris, Aeros, Krystal, Greg, and Jodo
This week you’ll get a nice big box of produce and a pint of ferment. The produce contents: 3 # beets, 1 head cabbage, 3 # carrots, 1 head escarole, garlic, 1 bunch kale, 3# potatoes, ½ # spring mix, and 1 ½ # scarlet queen turnips. The ferment this week is a kimchi spin-off without ginger. The ingredients are komatsuna, radish, carrot, garlic, onion, hot pepper and salt. Please keep this refrigerated and enjoy!
Recipe of the Week:
Potato, Carrot, and Turnip Gratin This is a nice rich treat. This gets anyone to think again about not liking turnips. The turnips in your box this week are called scarlet queen, they are a fushia color and this color keeps when cooked, so they add a beautiful color to any dish.
We’re quickly coming into the holiday season! What a nice placement for celebration to lighten the heart as we move closer to dark chilly winter. We’ve received some seed catalogues and have made purchases for the following season. Yes, we’ve begun dipping into next season at WCFY. Although the growing season may have just about finished this year, we’ll be sifting our minds through the soil of next season.
We have moved a lot of produce from our farm this season. In preparation to do this, and a little more next season we made small investments to accommodate the needs. We’re currently figuring plans to create a facility for packing and processing our vegetables that is a little bigger. We’re doing this for the following reasons: to accommodate growth, to invest in efficiencies and to have a space in which we can work in the winter months. This is exciting because we forsee the need to make our systems tighter, more effective, our crew happier and taking our vegetable operation to the next professional level. The elephant in the room is in determining just how we can afford such an endeavor.
Enjoy your share!
Chris, Aeros, Krystal, Greg, Jessica, and Joh-Doh
In your share this week:
Beets, Broccoli, Blemished Butternut Squash, Carrots, Garlic, Kale, Potatoes, Radish, Ferment, Mizuna, Spring Mix, Tatsoi, Turnips
Recipe of the week: Happy Thanksgiving! May you all have a wonderful feast. I'm including several ideas to help you decide what deliciousness to cook up from your CSA share. When we give thanks at our feast this Thanksgiving, we'll be thinking of you all and thanking you for your continued support in our green thumb endeavors.
The Best Butternut Squash Recipes To Make This Thanksgiving http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/butternut-squash-thanskgiving-recipes_5645e78ae4b045bf3deea1ae
Can you believe this week? I think we can all agree that sometimes unseasonal weather clearly works to our advantage. The ground is dry, the air is warm and the sun is shining. Although we’ve been working for this entire warm spell, it feels like we’ve been on a never ending picnic.
Before I get too caught up in farm stories, I want to thank all of you for joining our first Autumn CSA. We’re pretty excited to extend the CSA season beyond summer. We like the idea of extending CSA into late Autumn because, in reality, it’s this style of eating and vegetables that would be common for us most of the year, assuming a local diet. Roots, greens and winter squash and a little fermented vegetable, as well.
On the farm, we’re currently putting up our roots for fall and winter. We harvested a couple thousand pounds of carrots, lots of beets and big turnips. We’ll offer these to all of you when nighttime freezes become commonplace and not much is growing outside. Although we can store lots of these roots outside in the ground, we like to bring them in so we don’t have to work with our hands in super cold temperatures. An added consideration when working with frozen temperatures is that all crops must thaw in the ground before they are harvested. Some crops like carrots can deal with freezes, but if you harvest a carrot while it’s frozen it will thaw into mush. I know this will surprise some of you but sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate. If not harvested when the weather is appropriate, the time will come when we want to fill CSA boxes with carrots, but the ground is frozen and it’s not going to thaw for a few days. We learned that one the hard way…
We added Saueruben to your shares this week. For us, this is a household favorite making it’s way onto most of our meals as a condiment. This is a beautiful pink and red ferment made from shredded scarlet queen turnips and salt. It’s tangy flavor adds a little kick to food and it’s loaded with probiotics. We use it as a condiment in bowls of soup, on meat or eggs, on salad greens instead of dressing, tacos, pork chops…you name it! I’m at the point that it’s difficult to eat eggs without it. Also don't doubt your kids, ours love it. Cyan, our 15 month old signs "more" and moans for it when he sees it. Please refrigerate it!
Chris, Aeros, Jessica, Greg, Krystal, Lauren, Jodo and Brian
In your Autumn CSA Share:
3# Potatoes, 2 bunches of Beets, 3# Carrots, 6 or so heads of Garlic, 2# Broccoli, 3+ winter squash, .5lb salad mix, 1 bunch of kale, 1 bunch of swiss chard, pint of saueruben.
Recipe of the week:
Carrot Soup by Alice Waters It's titled like a book. We eat this a lot in the winter, as carrots are one of our staples. It's a Soup a doup soupa super souper soup!
This is the LAST SHARE! We’re super grateful for your participation in our CSA! We hope you enjoyed the season and hope you’ll join us next year! We always look to next year anticipating a better year. We appreciate your suggestions in the survey to better accommodate your needs and interests. We take them seriously.
When I think of the reasons why Aeros and I decided to grow vegetables, many of them have shifted through the push and pull of business and passion. When we started Who Cooks For You Farm in 2009, we had $7000, limited experience with farming and just about zero business experience. This is a first generation vegetable farm, which means we didn’t have any infrastructure waiting for us. We didn’t walk into the business of growing vegetables with tractors and clip-boards ready to crunch budgets and advertising strategies. We were, instead, drenched in passion, ambition and energy turning soil, bunching radishes and planting tomatoes. It was this raw enthusiasm for farming that has pushed us through the successes and failures commonplace in vegetable farming. Throughout the seasons, what has persisted is a love for growing food and figuring just how to do it! This is tough with varying seasons. Our love for the outdoors is richer than ever. Our love for feeding families nutrient dense food and getting to know families over the years has greatly increased our appreciation of what we do here. Your needs contextualize this work. When you participate in our CSA, you’re a part of this farm. It’s very satisfying to connect you with your surrounding foodshed, environment and rural culture. With your participation, our vegetable farm can continue to be a positive force in the Greater Pittsburgh Region feeding families, adding security to our food system and turning out new farmers to carry the torch in years to come.
Please sign up for our Autumn CSA! It’s open to anyone who wants to join!
We are accepting members for the 2016 Delivery or Market CSA anytime your ready to join.
Chris, Aeros and The Who Gang
In Your Box This Week:
Small: Beets, Braising Greens, Broccoli or Cabbage, Carrots, Cilantro, Head Lettuce, and Potatoes
Large: Beets, Braising Greens, Broccoli or Cabbage, Carrots, Cilantro, Garlic, Head Lettuce, Husk Cherries, Pea Shoots, Potatoes, Raddichio, and Winter Squash
Recipe of the Week:
Potato Latkes from Moosewood Restuarant Blog
I grew up eating Moosewood Cookbook food and I continue to be inspired from their wholesome recipes. If you are unfamiliar with them, check them out. They have lots of cookbooks and a fantastic website! I've never been to the restaurant. It's in Ithaca, NY. I've been thinking we always go south for the winter, but one of these years, I'd like to go north. This should be one of our pit stops, maybe one for you and your family too!
Today is garlic planting day! This is our first year with a snazzy tractor that has a creeper gear. This gear allows the tractor to go super slow, like 2-5 mph. This should make garlic planting much easier and faster than it ever has for us. This way the folks sitting on the transplanter can keep up with the holes as they move down the bed. Before we had this folks sitting on the transplanter couldn’t keep up with the tractor, so someone was always walking behind to fill in what whatever holes were missed. It’s been a crazy day in the office/home, so I haven't gotten to talk with folks in the field to see how super smooth this year’s garlic planting is going. But I suspect they are telling jokes and talking politics whilst putting all those hundreds and hundreds of garlic cloves in the ground. This is the one crop that we plant in fall that will come up in spring. It's one of our biggest crops. We give it to CSA. We bring it to all of our farmers markets in its several stages of development and we also supply the East End Food Coop as well as Legume. It's yummy hot and nutritious. Just in case you have a pile of garlic sitting around. I want to warn you that it won't last through the winter. We only grow hard neck, and they are not the storing type. They only keep until about mid January before they start to sprout and dry out. So if you want to save it. I recommend peeling the cloves and cutting them up either to dry or to store in olive oil or vinegar.
Garett is back on tour, for the fall and winter, but he’ll be back in spring for another season with Who Cooks. We are lucky to have him. He’s our calm and cool of the crew. Next year he’ll be our longest employed of the who gang. Awe Family!
We hope you enjoy your share!
Chris, Aeros, Cedar, Cyan, Krystal, Greg, Lauren, Jessica, and Jodo.
In your share this week:
Small: Carrots, Swiss Chard, Head Lettuce, Kale, Kohlrabi, Radish, and Spinach
Large: Braising Greens, Carrots, Swiss Chard, Garlic, Ground Cherries, Head Lettuce, Kale, Kohlrabi, Radicchio, Radish, Spinach, and Turnips
Recipe of the week: Greens greens and more greens! You can't eat a share like this and say you don't eat enough fiber. That's for sure!
Here is a link to some ideas that might suit your fancy.
There is a freeze predicted for Saturday and Sunday morning. There’s a lot for us to do today and tomorrow in preparation for these freezes. Most of what is growing outside in the fields right now are cold hardy, and although the plants will live through a freeze with added protection with row covers the plants will continue to look as they should. Without the protection, the plants will get beat up and burned. By keeping the freeze off the leaves of the vegetable, it prevents plant cells from of bursting. The temperature can get as cold as a freeze and the vegetable will be ok if it is protected, but if the freeze makes it to the leaves the physiologic response is usually ruptured cells and leaf death.
We’ll be covering lots of greens today and I hope we have enough row cover to cover them all. The catch is that even though we spend the time and money to cover the vegetables depending on the depth of the cold, it may not be effective. Farming is almost always a gamble of sorts and these moments bring out gray hairs for most of us. Although Trump may disagree with me, I don’t think gambling is a good business plan. With that said, our plan is to have delicious nutritious vegetables to give all of you for the next couple weeks.
Enjoy your share.
Chris, Aeros, Garett, Lauren, Krystal, Greg, Jodo, Jessica, Brian and Emily is off on her galvant to the west coast and the southwest, we might get her back next season if she doesn't get hooked on the south west. We'll cross our fingers!
In your share this week:
Small: Beets, Cilantro, Head Lettuce, Parsley, Spinach, Carnival Winter Squash, and Hakurei Salad Turnips
Large: Beets, Chard, Cilantro, Escarole, Garlic, Head Lettuce, Kale, Parsley, Spinach, Radish, Carnival Winter Squash, and Hakurei Salad Turnips
Recipe of the Week: For something a little different. How about pickled beets. Here is a recipe from In Sonnet's Kitchen http://www.insonnetskitchen.com/quick-pickled-beets/
QUICK PICKLED BEETS
1 bunch beets
¼ red onion
sliced 3 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
½ cup water
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1. Chop off the beet greens (if they are still attached).
2. Place the beets in a medium saucepan, add enough water to cover, and bring to a boil.
3.Simmer beets on medium heat for 45 – 60 minutes, or until the skins can be rubbed off with your fingers.
4.To test one, fish one of the beets out of the pot with a pair of tongs and run it under cold water until it’s cool enough to handle. 5.Remove the skins (they should rub off easily using your fingers). 6.Slice beets and add to a jar, along with the onions, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, water, and apple cider vinegar.
7.Place jar in the refrigerator, marinate overnight and then enjoy the beets!
Note: Beets may be stored for up to a week in the fridge.
A couple crew members are leaving this month. This time of year is interesting on the farm. We harvest, distribute vegetables and clean up. The morning is busy and the afternoon is not. It’s an ok time for some people to leave. In the past, we’ve let go of some people in early October to save some money, but it makes for an extremely busy fall then being short help. This year we’re holding onto our help a little longer in hopes to circumvent that experience and in exchange work fewer hours a day and less days. I’m excited to have a slower fall. It will be our first.
It’s been a wonderful week! The weather has been just about perfect. As far as I’m told the harvest dinner was a good time. The weather couldn’t have been better. There are a few things I wish I would have mentioned to everyone just before we began the feast. Although Aeros and I started this farm, we’re clearly not the only ones working here making all of this happen. We’re grateful for our farm hands and couldn’t do this without them. I had the opportunity to introduce a couple of neighbors that have helped us in many ways. Without them we wouldn’t have gotten off the ground. I was so busy at the party that many of these opportunities were overlooked. It’s ok. I’ll have my chance again and I likely will not miss it. For the record I want to thank everyone that has helped us here on the farm. We’ve come a long way and could only do so with the all the support we’ve received. I, also, want to thank all of you CSA members for supporting our farm. We certainly couldn’t do it without all of you either.
In your box this week:
Small: Garlic, Leeks, Potatoes, Radish, Spicy Greens Bunched (good for braising), Turnips, and Head Lettuce
Large: Garlic, Ground Cherries, Leeks, Pea Shoots, Potatoes, Radish, Rosemary, Spicy Greens Bunched (good for braising), Turnips, Head Lettuce, Carnival Winter Squash and the last of the summer squash.
Recipes of the week:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp. chopped chives or scallions
1 tsp. chopped fresh dill
½ tsp. sea salt
1-2 tbsp. prepared horseradish, drained (optional)
1 cup finely chopped, or grated radishes
Mix all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours. Serve with crackers or crusty bread (baguettes, sourdough, thin slices of rye). Makes about 2 cups.
Baked Turnips From The Farmer's Market Cookbook by Richard Ruben
12 small turnips with leaves still attached
¼ cup of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350º
Wash and trim the root base from Turnips. Discard any leaves that look sorely worn. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil, covering its edges. Lat the turnips down, with the stem and leaves folded under the turnip bulb. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Tightly cover the turnips with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Serve immediately to complete any dish.
Our fall crops look good. We harvested broccoli yesterday and the heads were consistently beautiful. The crew was impressed by some of the heads being quite large. For me, it was a battle partially victorious. Broccoli is an easy plant to grow. What is not easy is to get the plant to provide big heads. I often say that broccoli is one crop in particular that can make a fool of a farmer. It’s difficult for a few reasons. It’s difficult to know if it’s going to perform well based on what you’re seeing. It’s, also, difficult to know when it’s ready to harvest. It’s very easy to harvest underdeveloped heads when they’re big and the florets are tight and not loose. We don’t want them too loose though. Some things to keep in mind are: Is the size of the plant good, color very dark green, damage on the leaves kept to a minimum… Even after all these factors are considered, broccoli heads can still be small. I imagine a farmer with tiny broccoli heads in his hands falling to his knees in a sign of defeat screaming towards the sky. Fertilizing broccoli 2 weeks before it’s going to head up seems to help dramatically to secure large heads. Timing is very important and the strength of the fertilizer is important.
The ground cherries in your share are wet from rain. Please take them out of the bag and put them on a plate on a counter. We don’t want the husk to get moldy. The husk will dry in no time. Most of the cherries are ready to eat now. FYI The more golden the color of the cherry the sweeter the flavor. If the husk is greenish, leave it for a couple days to ripen to a gold color.
The green tomatoes are ready to go! They want to ripen so use them in the short term.
Please RSVP if you’re planning on attending the farm dinner. There are lots of people coming so we’re planning on having a great time! We are covering all the bases for food. We’ve been asked if people can contribute food to the event. For those that can’t resist contributing, please bring a dessert.
In your share this week:
Small:Arugula, Beets, Broccoli, Cilantro, Kale or Chard, Husk Cherries, Green Tomatoes
Large:Arugula, Beets, Broccoli, Cilantro, Eggplant, Kale or Chard, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Radish, Spring Mix, Husk Cherries, Green Tomatoes
Enjoy your share!
The Who Gang
Yup. Potato leek soup is an amazing soup. No matter how typical this soup is it always makes me happy to indulge. A big spoonful of grass-fed butter and some pea shoots on top makes for a delicious bowl of soup. I suppose if you diced up broccoli and threw it in there it would turn into a creamy broccoli soup instead of potato leek soup. Sounds great to me! I’m one for packing in lots of vegetables into one dish. I’m not one for separating prepared vegetables and tasting them one at a time. I like it all in one spot and I enjoy each spoonful to be large and crammed with a bit of each. It’s true that post cooking I often can’t reflect how the potatoes tasted or the broccoli for that matter. I isolate none of these vegetables when I cook. This is a flaw in my eating approach. CSA members often tell me that the broccoli is very good or a market customer may reflect on how a particular item tastes. As a salesperson I should know my product. I suppose, though, the goal is to get it in ya. I will, also, say that cooking a casserole style dish with everything jammed into it is an effective method to get children to eat whatever you want them to eat. It’s not a silver bullet but it’s much easier to get our little boy to eat his greens if they’re pretty well indistinguishable from everything else vs. sitting all alone on his dish. If anyone has a particularly wonderful potato leek soup recipe they’d like to share, we’d be happy to share it with the rest of the CSA.
I want to remind everyone of the harvest dinner on October 4th from 2-7. We’d love to have everyone and their families come out to the farm. Please email with questions if you have them and don’t forget to RSVP with how many adults intend to come.
In your box this week:
Small: Broccoli, Cilantro, Garlic, Leeks, Onions, Pea Shoots, Potatoes
Large: Arugula, Broccoli, Cilantro, Garlic, Kale, Leeks, Onions, Pea Shoots, Potatoes, Radish, Winter Squash 1 acorn and 1 spaghetti, Scarlet Queen Turnips
Recipe of the Week:
Leek and Potato Soup From Alice Waters' book The Art of Simple Food (Makes 2 quarts: 4-6 servings)
Trim off the root end and the tough upper greens from: 2 pounds of leeks
Cut the trimmed leeks in half lengthwise and slice thin. Rinse in a bowl of cold water. Lift the leeks out of the water to drain.
Melt over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pot: 3 tablespoons butter Add the leeks along with: 2 thyme sprigs, 1 bay leaf, Salt
Cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add: 1 pound yellow potatoes, peeled, halved or quartered, and sliced
Cook the potatoes for 4 minutes, then add: 6 cups of water
Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender, but not falling apart, about 30 minutes. When done stir in: 1/3 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream
Do not boil one the cream is added. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste. Remove the bay leaf and thyme before serving.
-Garnish with fresh-ground black pepper and some fresh chives.
-For a heartier soup, use broth instead of water
-Remove the bay leaf and herb sprigs and puree the soup before stirring in the cream.
-Omit the cream, puree the soup before serving, and garnish with a pat of parsley butter.