Grassland Organic Farm

Behind the 8 ball in 2012

Hello committed and wonderful CSA customers of ours!  The first month has come and gone with regards to our farm and your vegetable CSA and what a summer it has been.  Record highs and record lows in more ways than the weather!  We are incredibly short staffed for the summer and I have been committed to spending time getting you good food rather than good news.  I would like to promise that I will at least post on here what you are receiving each week and I will do my best to keep that promise.  I thank those of you who have contacted me directly when you were unsure of what an item was in your basket.  It makes me so sad not to have time to write for you. . . I LOVE sharing recipes and ideas around simple dishes that make these veggies taste great!  As always, we deeply appreciate your support and thank you for your understanding with regards to the overwhelming field work that is taking up our time.  Please email me if for some reason you are unsure of anything in your basket!

This week you will be enjoying carrots, beets, lettuce mix, salad turnips, kohrabi, oregano, dill, and snap peas.  The greens of the salad turnips are ugly, but ignore that!  The white turnip is sweet and delicious! You can eat it raw on salad, sauteed, or roasted.  They have a sweet delicate flavor in comparison to the classic fall turnip.  Kohlrabi (the round green ball you also got last week) is one of our favorites!!  Simply peel off the thin green skin and inside you will find “the apple of the cabbage family.”  It is crispy and juicy like an apple, but taste like a mild cabbage.  It is delicious raw grated on salad or chunked and dipped in dressing.  It also makes a great slaw with carrots and/or radishes.  I love to bake it with parmesan cheese.  If you are ever looking for recipes look under the “recipes” tab at our website www.grasslandorganicfarm.com.

Thanks again and have a great week!

CSA 2011 Week 19

Still waiting. . . for this baby that is!  We are no longer awaiting the looming frost.  It hit last night in full force.  We graciously said goodbye to the tomatoes, peppers, and basil yesterday.  It has been a good season mostly and it is time to start the shift to the next season of events for us.  Don’t forget about our annual farm party this coming Sunday October 5th starting at 3:00 pm.  We will have our tractor drawn hay ride and tour of the farm at 4:00 pm and then will have a potluck meal after returning from that.  We encourage you to make a potluck dish with local ingredients and even with some from our farm!  We will have an evening bonfire as the afternoon winds down.  Join us if you can.

This week in your share basket you have leeks, potatoes, parsley, beet greens, garlic, and Winter Luxury pie pumpkin.  It may be a bit early for you to use the pie pumpkin, but we thought you might like to decorate with it for a few weeks so we passed it along now.  When you finally get to eating your pumpkin, I recommend checking out our pumpkin recipes at our website.  We make pumpkin pancakes every Sunday when pumpkin is in season.  Every one loves them!!  The recipe for “Pumpkin stuffed with everything good” is a great savory dish if that is your preference.  Either way, there are instructions there on how to make pumpkin puree, which can be used in anything from pancakes to pie to breads to preserves.

With leeks, potatoes, parsley, AND the newly arrived cold temperatures, it is a great week to make a potato leek soup.  You will find a recipe under “leeks” on our website.  Again though, I will refer you also to our “Caramelized Leek Salad” with pears and goat cheese, which is incredibly delicious!!

Finally, beet greens take little preparation in order to enjoy their rich flavor and nutrient packed tenderness.  Beet greens are delicious and are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, and Vitamin B6 as well as many minerals. Wash them over well and remove any yellowing leaves that the producer may have missed.  The easiest way to enjoy these is to steam them until the are nice and soft and then serve with butter, vinegar, and/or salt, whatever you fancy.  Don’t be afraid to offer this vegetable to your children!  My two year old went back for seconds last night at dinner.  If you would like to get a little more fancy, you can saute the beet greens with either olive oil or a slice of bacon chopped up.  Heat the oil or bacon, add one of your red onions chopped from top to bottom, add your chopped beet greens, and finally some minced garlic.  You may want to add about 1/2 a cup of water to help keep the veggies from sticking to the bottom of your skillet.  Some even like to add a dash of sugar and/or red pepper flakes to this dish. Gently toss the mixture so the beet greens are covered with the tasty ingredients, and then reduce heat to medium-low and allow the dish to simmer for 15 minutes or until they reach your desired tenderness.  You can also serve these with vinegar, salt, and/or butter.

Happy fall and hopefully we will see you Sunday!

CSA 2011 Week 18

There are only four weeks left in this CSA season!  Wow, how time goes by quickly.  As much as I love writing this newsletter each week and attempting to inspire you with cooking ideas and other tidbits, I wanted to warn you that you might miss a couple of weeks here soon.  I am attempting to decide what I am going to throw out the window once this baby is born, and one of the things I am likely to do is let go of this weekly newsletter.  I want you to know now that if you have questions about what is in your share basket or about what is happening at the farm you can certainly email us at grasslandfarm@hotmail.com OR ask whom ever is staffing our market booth at the location where you pick up.  I hope you all understand!

This week in your share you will find tomatoes, peppers, lettuce mix, cherry tomatoes, red onions, and carrots.  The only item you have not enjoyed before are the red onions.  Red onions are milder and sweeter than a yellow onion and are often used raw or only slightly cooked. They would go very well in a carrot salad or salsa with some of your other produce this week.  Enjoy these final tomatoes and peppers as this is the last time you will find them in your share basket.

Also, please remember to think about what you have loved or despised in your veggie baskets this summer.  We will have an evaluation form for you to fill out at the end of the season so be thinking of your love comments and concerns now.

CSA 2011 Week 17

Well, we have reached a milestone of each season, Common Ground Country Fair.  The fair is a great chance to see farm and artisan products, eat great food, see amazing speakers and musicians, as well as taking in all the educational materials offered.  The fair is held this weekend in Unity.  Likely you all know about it already, but if you would like more information go to the website: http://www.mofga.org/TheFair/tabid/135/Default.aspx

The fair usually indicates to us that we are headed “down the mountain” so to speak in terms of production here at the farm.  We harvested our sweet onion crop this week and have been preparing for the big winter squash, potato, and storage onion harvest.  Hopefully those things will all be checked off the list by the beginning of October!  I am getting a bit nervous as I get closer to having this baby. . . I suppose the list of “to-do’s” is never ending, but the last thing I want is to stick my interns with all those big projects alone.  I suppose you just have to let it go as things will be how they are without much of my control.

This week you have a more classic fall share basket: beets, fingerling potatoes, sweet onions, garlic, chard, and green peppers. By now you are likely experts at using all these crops and have even experienced the incredibly delicious fingerling potatoes.  I would recommend a soup for you this week!  Also, if you are feeling adventurous, try slicing up your sweet onion into 1/4″ thick slices and frying in oil.  YUMMY!  Not the healthiest option, but certainly tasty.  We made some beer battered onion rings the other night to accompany baked haddock.  What a treat (in moderation!).  The fingerlings are incredibly tasty boiled or roasted with some salt and rosemary.

If you are looking for a special night out at the beginning of October that features all local food, you should buy tickets to the Harvest Dinner put on by the vendors of the Skowhegan Farmers’ Market on Sunday October 2nd.  The tickets are $35 per individual or $60 per couple with a drink included with each ticket.  The event will take place at The Club House at the Lakewood Golf Course with a fantastic menu and live music.  The event will open at 5:00 for appetizers and a social hour.  Dinner will be served to you by the farmers and food producers behind the ingredients.  Some of the items on the menu are pumpkin risotto, beef and veggie kabobs, green salad, and beet chocolate cake along with many other options.  If you are interested in getting tickets, let me know as soon as possible and I can get them to you.  Seating is limited!

Have a great week and maybe we will see you at the fair.  We always go as a family on Sunday just to wander around and see friends (and eat!).

Sarah

CSA 2011 Week 16

We have reached the peak of the season and are headed down the mountain now.  We ripped out our squash, zucchini, and cucumber plants this week.  We have mowed our potatoes in preparation for harvest, and the fall seeding is complete.  Planning now begins as to when we pull the onions, winter squash, pie pumpkins, and potatoes.  Despite the incredibly warm temperatures this past week, we feel fall all around us as we start to say good night to parts of the gardens.  Fall is also the time when we invite all of you and other friends and family to the farm for a Fall Harvest Festival!  This year we will have our farm gathering on Sunday October 2nd starting at 3:00 pm.  It is a potluck party so please bring a dish to share.  Wow us with something fantastic made out of veggies you find in your share basket that week!  We will have plenty of beverages available including our milk and local apple cider.  We will also offer a tour to anyone interested in seeing around our place at 4:00 pm.  In the past we have offered a rain date the following Sunday, however, this year with baby #3 due any time in mid October we have decided against that.  So, if it rains the festivities will have to wait until 2012. Let me know if you have any questions.

This week in your share basket you will find: potatoes, leeks, edamame, carrots, and tomatoes.  It is a nice blend of summer and fall crops!  I see some potato and leek soup in your future.  There are likely to be pears available at market this week.  Pick some of those up and try the caramelized leek salad recipe that you will find under “leeks” on our recipes page.  Leeks are a mild, sweet allium (the onion family).  They are delicious in soup or stir fry.  I love to saute some up in the morning before adding some beaten eggs to the pan and a dash of cheese at the end of cooking.  You can substitute leeks in for onions or shallots in any recipe.  You will use about 3/4 of it for these recipes.  The dark green tops make great soup stock.  Here at the farm we like to save all of our vegetable ”scraps” such as leek tops or carrot peelings.  We put the scraps in a one gallon bag and keep it in the freezer.  We keep adding to it until the bag is packed full.  This veggie scrap blend makes excellent soup stock either simmered with meat bones such as a chicken carcass or beef soup bones or simply the veggies themselves.  Homemade soup stock freezes incredibly well and is MUCH more flavorful than anything you can buy in the store.  Try adding some of your favorite herbs, salts, peppers, and more.  Be creative!

The most interesting vegetable in your share basket this week is the edamame, also known as soybeans.  Edamame are immature soybeans used traditionally in Asian and Hawaiian cooking.  The easiest way to prepare your edamame are to steam (15 minutes) or boil (10 minutes).  After draining away the water, sprinkle the bean pods with salt and serve in the pod.  You use your teeth to pop the succulent and buttery bean out of the pod, which is tough and not good to eat.  These are a delicious snack or appetizer for any meal.  You can also get more fancy and make roasted edamame salad with your beans, tomatoes, and leeks.  You can find this recipe under “edamame” at our recipes page.  You will need to pick up a couple ears of corn and some fresh basil while you are at the market.  These are a favorite around the farm both with our kids and the adults!

Enjoy your week!

CSA 2011 Week 15

This week’s share basket is your Salsa Fiesta share!  Everything included can be chopped up and mixed together to make a fantastic fresh salsa.  In your basket you will find tomatoes, scallions, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, sweet peppers, and cherry tomatoes.  The only extra ingredients you might like to add are a splash of lemon or lime juice, salt, fresh ground pepper, or even a dash of ground cumin.  If you have veggies kicking around from last week that would be good in a stir fry, sauté them up and use them as a base for burritos with some grated cheese, sour cream, green chilis, avocado, beans, rice, lettuce, and anything else you enjoy on a burrito!  You could use some of your garlic to make guacamole to accompany your burrito. . . A tasty idea if you ask me!

Fresh salsa is a great side for so many dishes especially because it is incredibly tasty, low in fat, and high in vitamins.  One medium tomato has only 25 calories and is high in Vitamins A and C.  Sweet peppers are also high in Vitamin C.  Garlic is world renowned for it’s amazing medicinal uses as well as culinary uses.  Garlic contains health promoting phyto-nutrients that have proven to be beneficial for coronary heart disease,  fighting infection,  and treating cancer.  Many of these qualities are attributed to raw garlic, and a fresh salsa is a great way to eat your raw garlic and love it!  Research has also found that cilantro is high in vitamins and minerals as well as health promoting anti-oxidant flavonoids.  A serving of cilantro leaves can provide 30% of your recommended daily vitamin C intake and 225% of your daily vitamin A intake!  Jalapenos as well are a great source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and folate.  As you can see, salsa is an amazing food that is so good for you on so many levels.  I like to use salsa as a side with rice or baked potato as well as with more traditional Mexican and South American foods.

Are you tired of cherry tomatoes as a snack or on salad?  I don’t think that ever happens to me, but if you would like to try something new check out our Cherry Tomato Sauce recipe.  You can find it under “tomatoes” at our recipe page on our website.

Things are going well here at the farm. . . we are trucking along to keep up with harvesting, weeding, and planning for the fall.  We are very excited to have received a grant from Somerset Economic Development Corporation to bury two shipping containers, build a washing/packing house, and buy a tractor seeder and flame weeder.  We were selected as one of just a few farms to receive the grant, which will allow us to expand production for the growing food hub in Skowhegan (and beyond really!).  We are thrilled about the grant, but also realize that we now have an additional big project to take on this fall amongst many other pressing priorities.  We always seem to find a way though!  It is just 6 weeks until our new baby joins our family.  We are incredibly excited, but also a bit overwhelmed as many things need to fall into place before this baby is born.  We have our potato, squash, and onion harvests as well as our fall storage carrots and beets.  We may have a potato digging party, which we will be sure to let you know about if you might be interested in a day of work at the farm!  As the nights and days are getting cooler we are reminded that the end of the season is not long off.  It is always a bitter sweet time for us.  Common Ground Fair looms just around the corner and that is certainly the beginning of the end each year.

Just as a reminder, we will be sending an evaluation to your via email once the season ends in October.  Your feedback is so critical to the changes we make in future years so be thinking about your praise and suggestions as the season passes so that you can share those comments with us.  Also, please remember to return your blue baskets!!  We would really appreciate it!

Have a great week. . .

CSA 2011 Week 14

Do any of you get the MOFGA newspaper this week?  Did you notice that “your farmers” are the feature farm story of this fair addition?!  We are incredibly proud to have been selected to be the feature story and thank Holli and MOFGA for a great overview of the diversity of our business.  You should be proud too because it is partly your support that allows us to go on with each season.  That is one of the many benefits of supporting a farm by CSA. . . we get a shot in the arm to start the season off on the right foot!  So, as always, thanks for your support.

We would like to gently remind many of you to return your blue shopping baskets.  We are down to just a couple and we need to get them back!  Please bring them all with you to whichever market you pick up at in the next week.  THANKS!

Today in your share basket you have garlic, sun gold cherry tomatoes, Suyo long cucumbers, eggplant, chard, carrots, head lettuce, and fingerling potatoes.  What are those crazy looking “finger-like” potatoes you ask?  Well, they are heritage potatoes with a rich, nutty flavor.  They are excellent roasted, but can also be steamed or boiled.  They have a wonderful creamy texture, but the flesh remains firm when you cook them.  Because of their small size, they cook up much more quickly than a regular potato so keep on eye on them when you are cooking them.

Our cucumber plants are winding down so we figured we might feature, once more, our absolute favorite cucumber.  This funky looking Asian cuke is crispy and juicy, with a small seed cavity and very thin skin.  Again, there is no need to peel these, just wash the cucurbit “teeth” off, slice up, and enjoy.  You could make a fantastic salad with these cucumbers, the head lettuce, the cherry tomatoes, grated carrots, and even some pre-cooked fingerling potatoes.  Yummy!

This is the first time that you have had eggplant in your share baskets.  These fruits are beautiful and delicious.  Eggplant is in the Solanaceae family (which means the sun loving family) and is closely related to tomatoes and potatoes.  Eggplant is featured in many types of cuisine from French stew, to Italian dishes, to Middle Eastern and Japanese.  When cooking eggplant it will absorb a tremendous amount of oil, which results in rich, savory dishes.  However, you slice the eggplant, salt the flesh and allow it to tenderize before cooking in order to reduce the amount of fat the flesh with absorb.  I personally love the rich dishes that result when cooking with eggplant.  One of our favorite eggplant selections is baba ganoush, a roasted eggplant spread that is often found in Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants.  You can find a recipe under eggplant on our website.

The rest of your share should be easy to incorporate into your lunch or supper dishes.  Let me know if you have additional questions!  Happy Eating! ~Sarah

CSA 2011 Week 13

I apologize for the late newsletter tonight.  We had some parent meetings for school this afternoon and it set me back a bit.  I can’t believe that it is time for school already!  Even the air recently has had a hint of fall in it.  Cooler mornings and evenings. . . The end of the season is in sight, but yet SO far away.  We had to have a “second wind” chat at the farm this week. We are all tired and it is easy to slow down and lose steam.  However, there is still SO much to do before we can actually slow down.  It is the late August rejuvenation and we have to keep plugging along despite our exhaustion!  The hurricane is coming this weekend so we are trying to get the last of the cover crop seed down before the guaranteed rain. We are hoping to have time to plow some new ground to cover crop as well for expansion for 2012.  It is the nature of farming that as you get better and more efficient at what you produce, you expand and grow to fill your time.  It’s a sure sign that we love it!

This week in your share basket you have tomatoes, dragon lingerie beans, new potatoes, scallions, beets, and lettuce mix.  The scallions are the only new item that you have not seen before or had the chance to use.  They are beautiful and incredibly flavorful. They are milder than onions and can be eaten raw in salad. Tonight I made a delicious dinner with many of the ingredients you received today.  I sliced some of the new potatoes up into 1/8″ slices and through them into a wok with hot oil.  After letting those cook for 7 minutes or so, I added a bunch of scallions chopped into 1″ chunks. I cooked that for a few minutes then added some sliced chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces.   Throughout the cooking process I added a dash of olive oil if any of the ingredients started to stick.  I added a dash of salt and 2 tbsp. of curry powder and continued to saute for about 7 minutes. Then I added some dragon lingerie beans cut into 1 inch chunks and cooked a little longer.  Finally, I put in a 1/4 cup of minced basil and 2 heads worth of chopped garlic.  I continued to stir for a minute or so and then added a can of coconut milk, which I rinsed out with water and added that too.  I let it all simmer for about 10 minutes and then served with a side of honey glazed gingered carrots.  Yummy!

The only other interesting tidbit to share about your veggies this week are that you received Bull’s Blood beets this week, which have dark red greens instead of a green leaf.  These beets are sweet and delicious in the root, but they are grow particularly for the incredibly flavored greens.  Be sure to eat them top to bottom and enjoy.

This has not been a great year for our tomatoes and we do have early blight infecting them now.  If you find they are a little under ripe, that is because we are picking them when they are good, but not diseased.  Do not refrigerate them, but leave them in a bowl on the counter and they will ripen up in just a coupe of days.

Thanks for all your support and good night!

CSA 2011 Week 12

Nothing says summer like fresh garden tomatoes, which you will hopefully be savoring this week!  Also in your share basket you will find carrots, kale, garlic, sweet onion, summer squash, and cucumbers.

Each of you have patty pan squash to enjoy, which is the “UFO” looking yellow summer squash in your basket.  These squash can be used just as you would a traditional yellow summer squash such as sliced and grilled, in a sauté, or chunked up for kabob skewers. However, they are also delicious stuffed and baked in the oven. Simply cut in half, dig out the “meat” in the center, and then stuff with any thing you like!  Some ideas might be a mix of brown rice, herbs, and chorizo sausage OR use your share ingredients and mix up brown rice with garlic, kale, sweet onion, herbs and salt.  Then simply bake the squash at 350º until the squash is fork tender.  I like to mix in a nice local cheese to our stuffing as well.  Be creative and use your imagination (and whatever is in your fridge or cupboard). Patty pan squash are a good source of magnesium, niacin, and vitamins A and C.

You might be wondering what that curly-q crazy looking cucumber like vegetable is. . . It is just that, a CUCUMBER!  You all have Suyo Long cucumbers this week, which are by far our favorite cucumbers for any occasion!  They are crispy, juicy, and flavorful.  The skin is very thin so you do not need to peel it.  Simply scrub the “teeth” off the skin with your hands under running water and then slice however you like and enjoy however you like!  These cucumbers are burpless and not bitter.  What is a burpless cucumber?  Well, some people are susceptible to burping due to chemicals in the cucumbers.  Because these cucumbers have less of these chemicals, they significantly reduce burping in sensitive consumers.  So if you fall in this category of eaters, enjoy these delicious cucumbers.  They also make fantastic pickles if you have a desire to do some canning this summer.

Most of the other vegetables do not need much explaining this week.  You are all becoming expert chefs at cooking with fresh vegetables and hopefully it has been fun and enjoyable.  Other simple ideas for your veggies this week would be “greens casserole”, a favorite here at the farm, which you can find on our website under kale.  Another idea would be a simple stir-fry with sweet onions, garlic, kale and summer squash.  Add to that any fresh herbs you might have kicking around, dried herbs or just salt and pepper.  The sweet onion is incredibly delicious and can be enjoyed raw as well as cooked.  A cucumber salad either vinegar based or yogurt based with the sweet onion would be fantastic.  Speaking of the sweet onion, simply slice it across the width into large rounds about 1/2 inch thick, brush with olive oil, and grill along with sliced up summer squash.  I personally could eat an entire bowl of just grilled sweet onion!  YUMMY!  Don’t forget to share your favorite local foods recipes with me so I can share them with your fellow CSA members.  Have a great week!

Sarah and Family

CSA 2011 Week 11

Another busy week has come and gone at Grassland Farm.  We successfully wrapped up our garlic harvest this week, which is a big milestone here each summer.  We don’t know our harvest total yet, but we suspect it is around 2800 lbs!  Yummy!  Once the garlic is dry we will have 3 and 5 lb. bags of storage garlic available at market so keep us in mind if you like to have garlic stored at home for the winter.  Today is my official 29 weeks pregnant moment and I have to say that as my belly grows things get more and more difficult.  It isn’t how heavy crates of vegetables are that bothers me, but WHERE do I carry them!  It is awkward resting on my hip, but so it is!

This week in your share basket you will find green peppers, green tomatoes, new potatoes, basil, beets, carrots, and lettuce mix.  There is not a whole lot interesting or new that I can tell you about any of these items, except maybe the green tomatoes.  Green tomatoes are a Southern food, and if you haven’t tried them yet you are in for a treat!  You will find a recipe for cooking up fried green tomatoes under “tomatoes” on our recipes page.  Native to Mexico and Central America, it’s not clear how tomatoes came to the United States. Thomas Jefferson grew them in the 1780s and credited one of his neighbors with the introduction.  The first recipe for canning tomatoes was published in 1770. There is a folk legend that they were introduced by African slaves who came to North America by way of the Caribbean, and some historians believe that the Portugese introduced tomatoes to the West Coast of Africa.  Regardless, there are few of us who don’t love a garden fresh tomato and green tomatoes have a great flavor too.  If you get really excited you can try making a green tomato relish or mincemeat.

You have had beets before, but I would like to highlight a new recipe on our website for cold beet salad.  This has become a new favorite of mine and we have made it several times in the past few weeks.  If you have garlic left from last week, this would be a great way to use it up!  I have been letting the salad marinate for several hours before enjoying and it is well worth the wait.  The beets you have this week are called Cylindra Beets.  They are great for eating, but if you like making pickled or canned beets these require much less cutting because they are long and fit nicely into quart or pint jars.

Have questions??  Don’t hesitate to call or email me!  Have a fantastic week!