Tuesday, September 25, 2012

CSA Week 16

1 bunch kale
1 bunch carrots
mixed fall roots
savoy cabbage
sweet peppers
hungarian hot wax peppers
red onion
The amazing, cranking summer of 2012, has smoothly transitioned into a so far, so great kind of a fall on the Kettle Bluffs.  The cool nights and clear days, with the best blue skies and glorious clouds that pull me away from my work for a brief moment every single day to just stare, breath, and feel good, have provided a space for reflection and moments to take stock of this whacky roller coaster of a season from delicious splendor (sungold cherry tomatoes!) to hard times (washed out field!) and nutty farm activities (chasing pigs under the moonlight!  True story, just ask Samantha.)
And now, dear community, here’s where you get to know your farmer, where BKF checks it’s ego at the barn door and after all the general whooping and high fiving about the yummy,yummy, yummy and oh so abundant food that we have been eating, it’s time for full disclosure.  

I have been dreading this moment for a while now and just have to cut to the cabbage and own it....there is no winter squash this season from Black Kettle Farm.  At all.  After having a very low yield last year, I tried a new planting method, which was cruising along great, until the squash bugs found the huge stand in the middle of the field.  Even with the organic method of applying kaolin clay to mask the plants, the bugs found all our of delicata, butternut and acorn and hit it hard, beyond recognition.  Usually, if something does poorly at least the crew will get a few morsels, even if the crop never makes it to CSA or market.  This was not even the case for the winter squash this season, it was a complete and total crop loss.  This was hands down the buggiest year I have ever come across as a farmer, every pest seemed to be nothing short of relentless on almost every single crop at some stage of the game.  The cukes and summer squash had a great start, but they went down early due to beetles and the watermelon never really did much with so much pest pressure.  All these plants are related, and the winter squash is the longest in the ground, thus the most exposed to the pesty vermin, thus the biggest failure.  I am majorly feeling the loss of this fall staple, not only monetarily, but culinarily and vibrationally.  Who isn’t ready to wear their favorite dark green sweater and cozy up with some squash soup?  This farmer sure is.  With forty different vegetables and tons of different varieties it is pretty much impossible to make it all line up, sad to say, the winter squash was the major causality of the season and it will go down in the record books as such.

Now that major blow is out of the way, I’ll just keep the over-sharing coming!  Remember, the fennel from the early season?  Hey, me either!  It got planted, weeded and loved, but never, ever grew.  Pretty much same story for the napa cabbage and try as I might, I apparently can’t grow a beet to save my life this season.  Also, the rutabagas have rot, or mildew or some sort of funk from all the humid weather, so they will never make it into your roasted roots mix.  This whole farming gig is a real lesson in letting go and giving thanks for the victories (kale, carrots, lettuce, sweet peppers, tomatoes galore!) and embracing all that can be improved upon (fortress around the butternut squash.)  
Because the good drastically outweighs the bad and we always, always have to end on an appreciation, I could not be prouder of all things onion this year or my hard working, dedicated crew.  
Squash aside, we still rule.

Buttered Cabbage
Epicurious  | February 2008
by Darina Allen

1 lb fresh Savoy cabbage
2 to 4 tablespoons butter
salt and freshly ground pepper
an extra knob of butter

Remove all the tough outer leaves from the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into four, remove the stalk and then cut each quarter into fine shreds, working across the grain. Put 2 or 3 tablespoons of water into a wide saucepan, together with the butter and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, add the cabbage and toss over a high heat, then cover the saucepan and cook for a few minutes. Toss again and add some salt, freshly ground pepper and the knob of butter. Serve immediately.

How to Caramelize Onions
Cut the onions into slices about ¼ inch thick―thin enough to ensure that they won’t take forever to cook but not so thin that they’ll become crisp. Don’t worry about crowding the skillet with too many slices; the onions will eventually cook down.
Use about 2 tablespoons of olive oil for each large onion. Cook the onions over medium heat, stirring occasionally but not frequently. During the next 15 minutes, they’ll first soften and become translucent, then gradually turn slightly golden. But they’re not caramelized yet.
As the onions turn darker, stir more frequently (about once a minute) to prevent burning. When they’re almost brown and have an intense, rich flavor, they’re caramelized. The exact amount of time required varies depending on the heat and the amount of onion in the skillet. Expect the process to take at least 25 minutes.

Roasted Root Veggies
A few carrots
A few beets
A few turnips
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon rosemary
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the vegetables into chunks and toss in a roasting pan with olive oil and herbs to coat. Keep the peels on; that's where the vitamins are.  While the veggies are roasting, toss a garlic bulb or two into the pan at about the 20-minute mark. 

Roast for approximately 40 minutes, turning regularly until all sides have turned a golden brown and the veggies are cooked straight through.

Throw anything in and roast it all!  Cube shallots, onions, garlic, potatoes, or sweet pepper and add it to mix with plenty of herbs, like oregano, majoram or herbs de Provence.   Super yummy, hearty and easy!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

CSA Week 15

2 bunches greens

baby greens mix
sweet peppers
the last of the tomatoes!

On Farm Pick Up, Tuesdays, 4:30-6:30
Enter the barn and always find groovy world beats filling the air waves.  The produce out and in abundance, displayed in farmer’s market baskets and the harvest list looming above it all.  Sign in, check yourself off and start the run down the line, filling bags, or a crate if you are Nate, with the freshest Kettle chow, all harvested a few hours before and a few footsteps away.  Beautiful babies to squeeze, the community board with local events and info to peruse, the glorious moments of the setting sun on the Kettle bluffs, the breeze that sweeps over the veggie fields and the blissful vibration that is the farm, from tractors and farm truck, to kind of dirty, but always smiley workers, the swaying sunflowers, the buzzing bees, the sagging red barn, tapping into the Kettle source and the true bounty of York county.

Portland Delivery, Wednesdays, 4:00-6:30
Cruise to Fort Allen Park on your desired mood of transport, be it auto with kids strapped in the back, scooting about on scooter, on foot with dog in tow, or on bike, show up on the Eastern Prom and take a big breathe of the glorious Bay and give thanks for Maine, for summer, for life in general and then find that sketchy white van and get your grub!  Boxes packed and stacked and ready to go, the freshness of the farm, brought right to you.  Get a glimpse of sailing class and claim that for real this time, some one is about to capsize, beat the in town heat and feel the amazing cool breeze off the water, watch a kid roll down the hill and be glad it’s not you, bump into some one that you know and love and freak out that you are in the same CSA, make a new friend and swap info because you are totally on the same page, rush off some where to do some thing really great or just hang, chat with your farmer, eat a carrot, gaze at the water, and share the Kettle love.

UNE Student Pick Up Group, Wednesdays, 2:30-4:45ish
Bust out of class (Yahoo!) fire up that GPS and find Black Kettle Farm, leaving campus, medical chatter and notebooks behind.  The ever rotating and highly organized UNE two-some shows up to transport the veggie haul back to Biddo, as the final CSA chapter to pick up for the week, they find the farm quiet and reserved. Kettle crew members emerge and aid in the unpack/repack, boxes to 14 tote bags, with a quick chat in between. Jam the car with fresh produce, inhale the farm air, take a quick glimpse at the field and it’s back to the books! 

Simple Onion Soup

Bon Appétit  | September 1998
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 pounds onions, thinly sliced
3 14 1/2-ounce cans beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 1/3 cups seasoned croutons
4 thin slices Swiss cheese
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions; cook until deep brown, stirring frequently, about 25 minutes. Add broth and wine; boil until soup is slightly reduced and flavors blend, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 500°F. Put 4 deep ovenproof bowls on baking sheet. Put 1/3 cup croutons in each bowl.
Ladle soup over croutons. Top with cheeses. Bake soup until heated through and cheeses melt, about 8 minutes.

Kale and Potato Purée
Gourmet  | December 2008
by Ruth Cousineau
2 pounds kale, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves chopped
1 pound potatoes
2 cups heavy cream
Cook kale in a pot of boiling salted water (1 1/2 tablespoons salt for 4 quarts water), uncovered, until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain kale, then immediately transfer to an ice bath to stop cooking. When kale is cool, drain but do not squeeze.
While kale cooks, peel potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Simmer in cream with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a heavy medium saucepan, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
Purée potato mixture with kale in 2 batches in a food processor until just smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Transfer to a 4-to 5-quart heavy saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.

How to Roast Garlic
1 head of garlic
about 2 tablespoons olive oil
about 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
about 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400.  Place a baking sheet in the oven as the oven preheats.
If your garlic head is covered in several layers of white skin, peal off a few layers.  Keep several layers around to hold the head together.  With a sharp knife, cut the top off the head of garlic exposing a bit of each each clove of garlic.
Place garlic head in a piece of foil or parchment paper.  Drizzle olive oil on top.  Top with a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Seal the foil around the garlic or parchment paper.  If using parchment paper, use a kitchen string to seal the little package.
Place on the pan in the oven and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or until completely tender.
Allow to cool slightly before spreading on toast or adding to pasta.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

CSA Week 14

2 bunches greens
savoy cabbage
sweet peppers
hungarian hot wax peppers

Black Kettle Farm had a short and extremely unsweet visit from a flock of very naughty, bold and unruly icelandic sheep this past week.  My good friend moves her sheep crew around to different (and greener) pastures throughout the season and BKF was next in the rotation.  40 showed up one day last week and it was pretty much mayhem ever since.  Their first night every single one got out and I woke to them dozing rather far away from their fenced in area as the morning fog lifted.  It kind of took me a minute to remember exactly who they were and what they were doing at my farm and after some initial panic on my part, my friend hustled up here and wrangled them back in.  All was semi well and good until I was snug in my bed the night before farmer’s market and I heard a strange noise.  Was it Mean Kitty coughing?  A truly huge cricket?  Nope, it was a sheep, in fact it was all the sheep.  Out again, all over the farm again and this time in the dark of night.  I channeled by Colorado rancher ancestors, found my head lamp and a bucket of alfalfa and single handedly corralled every last one ‘em back in.  It took me a while to come down from that one.
Then there was the final straw that sent them ewes a packin’.  Here’s were it gets a tad ugly.   After a long and awesome day at Portsmouth Farmer’s Market, about to jump in the shower, a fuzzy being catches my eye.  This time, not in the compost pile or in the grass by the pig pen, but in the veggie field, the Kettle source.  It is all fun and games until the Kettle loses some kale!  The whole flock was happily snacking away on fall carrots and brusell sprouts.   Sheep, it’s not the Kettle, it’s you, you really gotta go!  The next day, after many trips and lots of shoving of animals into a trailer, they were finally gone and it was back to the calming veggie chaos that is Black Kettle Farm.  It’s no picnic growing the 40 different vegetables in always the weirdest of weather and with the fiercest of bugs, but in all my days I have never had to chase chard or tackle a turnip.  Those Icelandic's made the pigs and the carrots look like pure angels.
Kettle Community News:
Congrats to Eva and Trevor, Erik and Mercedes and Hank and Becca and their  recent weddings.  Yay!  We love love!
Congrats to Katie and Barrett who officially have an eggplant in the oven!  Yay!  We love a new crop of Kettle kids!
Carrot Cabbage Slaw with Cumin Vinaigrette
Gourmet  | September 2009
by Paul Grimes

2 1/4 pounds carrots with tops
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced (about 6 cups)

Pick enough fronds from carrot tops to measure 1 cup, then coarsely chop.
Cut carrots crosswise into 2-inch pieces, then julienne with slicer. 3Whisk together vinegar, brown sugar, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.
Toss cabbage, carrots, and chopped carrot tops in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season with salt and let stand 30 minutes before serving.

Kale with Panfried Walnuts
Gourmet  | November 2009
by Ian Knauer
1 bunch  kale
1 cup chopped walnuts (3 1/2 ounces)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Tear kale into large pieces, then cook in a large pot of well-salted boiling water, uncovered, until tender, about 6 minutes. Drain kale, and, when cool enough to handle, press out excess liquid.
Cook walnuts in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until pale golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 1 minute. Add kale and salt and pepper to taste and cook, tossing, until heated through.

Notes from the Kettle Kitchen....
Every thursday the Kettle Crew does farm lunch together on the farm house porch.  Just like pig and greenhouse chores, this is done on a rotational basis so every one gets a chance to be the crew cook.  During our normal work days we do a lot of moving veggies around, fluffing veggies, chasing bugs away from veggies, but on thursdays we really get to enjoy veggies and enjoy the sunshine and enjoy our amazing crew of hard working ladies.  Farm lunch is the best.
It’s my turn this week and I already know what’s cookin’ good lookin’!!!!!  
BKF Veggies:
Savoy Cabbage
Additional Items:
Fresh Ginger
Mustard and Cumin Seed
Apple Cider Vinegar

Heat up a large skillet with oil.
Chop an onion and dice a few cloves of garlic.  Sauté until soft, then grate fresh ginger into the mix.  While this is happening, heat a small dry skillet and add mustard and cumin seeds, once the mustard seeds start to POP, add the spice mix to the onions, garlic and ginger.  Add a few splashes of apple cider vinegar.
Cube sweet peppers and a few hots if you have them and add them to the mix.  Sauté at a medium heat until the peppers start to soften.
Add a splash of tamari, chop your head of savoy cabbage and add.  Cook at medium heat until the cabbage wilts, stirring as needed.
Chop tomatoes and add.  Sprinkle some salt, and grind in some black pepper.  Cover and let it all cook down so the flavors meld together.
Serve with rice, cooked chick peas or lentils.
If you want to beef it up, add shredded carrot after the peppers have cooked for a bit, any kind of cooked green along with the cabbage.  You can also use ground cumin if you don’t have seeds,  and add turmeric, or red pepper flakes.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

CSA Week 13

1 bunch kale
savoy cabbage
hungarian hot wax peppers
sweet peppers
sweet onions

Here’s to a beautiful Black Kettle Brassica Bounty!  

It gives me great pleasure to alert you to the fact that this week’s share is absolutely bursting with health and vitality, nutrients, vitamins, minerals and positive vibrations.  Love the chunky fall carrots, that get sweeter as the temperatures go down,  munch on peppers all day long and of course completely savor the flavor of the field ripened tomatoes, because once they are gone, it is many, many months before their authentic goodness returns.  Yes, all true, but let’s just take a minute and give thanks and acknowledge the strength and power of the ol’ Brassica family, whose nutrient dense goodness dominate your veggie haul this week. 

The Brassica family of vegetables includes kale, cabbage, collards, broccoli, radish, turnip, arugula, kohlrabi, brussel sprouts (looking good in the field these days!), mustard greens and bok choi.   The short answer to every thing food related is, all fresh vegetables are really, really good for you, so eat a lot of them all the time.  But, when you really get down to it, the Brassica family is truly where it is at in terms of overall health benefits.  These dark, leafy and super delicious green beauties fight cancer, most notably lung, intestinal track and breast, as well as beat out heart disease and Alzheimer’s.  Brassicas pump up your immune system and rival milk for it’s calcium content.  When eaten with Vitamin C, any member of the Brassica family provides an extremely high level of available iron.  Perfect!  Sweet peppers, tomatoes and kale scrambled for supper it is! Done!  Anti-cancer elixir and life force stimulation is served!

This week, take it higher, chew that kale with major mindfulness and intention and truly soak in all the health benefits that this glorious fresh food has to offer.  These plants have absorbed so much sunshine this season, dug their roots deep into the soil, fought off bugs, and most recently lapped up the strength of the powerful blue moon to grow, thrive and give all that they can to your system and ignite the glow that only Black Kettle Farm CSA members radiate.  I know each and every one of you and we have, hands down, the best looking crew of CSA folks around, quite possibly due to the fact that there has not been one week of this outstanding season that we have not consumed something or other from the Brassica family(see list above for verification).  It all makes all too perfect sense that this major Brassica boom comes to us for week lucky number 13.  Major gratitude abound!  The Kettle is just so good to us!

Roasted Carrots with Cumin
Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything
1 to 1 1/2 pounds carrots, cut into sticks
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the oven to 425°F. Put the carrots on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil; sprinkle with the cumin and salt and pepper. Roast until the carrots are tender and browning, about 25 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
Roasted Carrots with Fennel Seeds. Substitute fennel for the cumin.
Roasted Carrots with Pine Nuts. Omit the cumin. Add 1/4 cup pine nuts in the last 3 or 4 minutes of roasting.
Roasted Carrots with Sesame. Substitute 2 tablespoons peanut or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, and 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil for the olive oil. Substitute up to 2 tablespoons black and white sesame seeds for the cumin; add them in the last 3 or 4 minutes of roasting.
Roasted Carrots with Dates and Raisins. Omit the cumin. Add 1/4 cup each golden raisins and chopped dates in the last 10 minutes of roasting. Garnish with chopped nuts, like pistachios, almonds, or walnuts, and a couple tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves.
Spicy Stir-Fried Tofu With Kale and Red Pepper
1 bunch curly kale
1 14-ounce package firm tofu, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, preferably white pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon peanut oil or canola oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 hot pepper, seeded and minced
1 red bell pepper, cut in 2-inch julienne
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1. Bring a medium saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil, add the kale and blanch 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl of cold water, drain and squeeze out excess water. Chop coarsely and place in a bowl near your wok.
2. Cut the tofu into dominos and place between two paper towels.
3. Combine the soy sauce, rice wine or sherry, stock and cornstarch. Combine the salt, pepper and sugar in another small bowl. 
4. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch steel skillet over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within a second or two when added to the pan. Swirl in the canola or peanut oil by adding it to the sides of the pan and swirling the pan, then add the tofu. Stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes, until it begins to color. Add the garlic, ginger and chili and stir-fry for no more than 10 seconds.
5. Add the red pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the kale, salt, pepper and sugar and toss together. Add the soy sauce mixture and the sesame oil.  Stir-fry for another 30 seconds to a minute. Remove from the heat and serve with grains or noodles.