Kale Smoothies

All season our Farmers’ Market customers have been talking about kale smoothies. They’re all in love with them. So, on their recommendation, we started making our own simple version and boy they’re right! Kale smoothies are fantastic! Definitely among the easiest and tastiest way to eat a lot of wonderfully nutrient dense kale. Now we have kale for breakfast.We share them as a family and our three year old son loves them. He can’t get enough.

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Spring Frittata with Storage Onion, Over-Wintered Spinach and Duck Egg

“Finches and sparrows build nests in my chimney with remains of the small flightless birds that you failed to protect.”

Andrew Bird – Spare Ohs

Two days after we made this yummy frittata the fox came. He ate all our ducks and one of our chickens. The fox: I feel like I know him. I see him all the time. He prances under streetlights when I go for a run. He sprints across the street, in front of my truck when I’m coming home from work. The fox lives in a burrow under the railroad tracks a block or so from here. He stalks the neighborhood. And he’s taken our birds before. We’ve lost at least three other chickens to the fox. He comes at night and kills birds. Not that I blame him. It’s his nature, we know that and we’re the ones who’ve failed to protect the birds.

Obviously, we didn’t know we were going to lose our ducks when we made this frittata. But, in retrospect, having considered all the special things we could have done with our last ever duck eggs, I’m glad we made this recipe. It was the perfect “bridge” recipe, bringing together the last few seasons on our tiny farm. We used storage onion grown last fall, spinach tended over the winter and fresh duck eggs from this spring. Continue reading Spring Frittata with Storage Onion, Over-Wintered Spinach and Duck Egg

Tofu Green Curry and Healthy Cooking

Because I’m soft and lumpy after a winter of relative leisure and because I need to harden up quick if I’m going to make it through this farming season, I’m trying to eat a lot healthier. Not that I’ve ever eaten that badly. At the house we eat fresh, local and something between vegetarian and vegan. We cook everything from scratch and we know how to do it. I grew up cooking in restaurants. My wife came up in bakeries and delis. Which is to say, we know how to make real yummy food using lots of fat and salt. We know how to pair good food with good drink. We know how to bake bread and we know a few things about sweets. Not that any of this is inherently bad. Food is important and we certainly enjoy our meals around here. But at some point it becomes about health. It becomes about having the vigor to do the things I want to do. And it becomes a problem when I need to get (and stay) “farm-lean”.

“You can pay your farmer or you can pay your doctor.” As a natural foods grocer and a farmer I’ve been hearing this for years. But honestly, for a long time I didn’t really buy it. Sure, buy organic and avoid a lot of toxins. That made enough sense to devote a career to. But food as medicine? Really? I’ll turn my organic russets into some nice pomme frites, thank you. At least that’s how I felt until very recently.

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Real Alfredo to End the Year

The year’s done! The holidays are done! It’s all over and I’m tired. So tonight I’m making Alfredo, the easiest and best pasta dish I know. Way back in our primordial darkness, before our milk was full of sugar and our meat was full of corn, before everything got all cluttered up with cream and roux, Alfredo [...]

Potatoes and Latkes

I’m two weeks late with this post, just like I was with almost everything else on the farm this year. Maybe I should give it up, shutter the farm and start a defense contracting firm instead. Over-budget and behind schedule; my laxitude would probably play better there.

Potato latkes are as seasonally appropriate to December as peaches are to August or roast green chilies are to September. Religious tradition aside, it’s just a matter of food availability. For millennia potatoes have been among our staple storage crops. In the winter, from December through March, when it’s very difficult to grow fresh food, we’ve relied on them. We’ve pulled them from deep, dark root cellars, cooked them a thousand different ways and eaten. So,  it makes perfect sense that latkes would be at home in December. They were what was available.

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Brussels Sprout Washout

Brussels_stalk

We failed with brussels sprouts this year. We failed bad; like a teamster trying to squeak his 19-ft trailer under a 17-ft viaduct. It was a total disaster. Brussels were supposed to be our primary fall crop but now it’s mid-November and I don’t expect to harvest a single one. It’s a huge disappointment. And we aren’t alone. Almost everyone around here struggled with brussels this year. For most folks, us included, the problem was aphids. October was unusually warm, allowing aphids to survive later than normal. At the same time it was cold enough to chase off all the wasps and ladybugs – the aphids’ primary predators. Unconstrained, the aphids quickly overwhelmed our brussels. There was little we could do.

I love brussels, whether I can grow them or not. Luckily, a couple local growers were able to bring in a crop. (Need I mention they were the most experienced growers at our market?) They were successful while we were not, because they grew their brussels for an earlier harvest date. Like most local growers we shot for an October/November harvest, transplanting our starts in late July. This left us in the field for the October aphid apocalypse. The two successful and experienced growers harvested in September, missing the aphids completely. Well, live and learn. Fortunately, I was able to buy several pounds of fantastic, local brussels from them.

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Tomatillos and Salsa Verde

Tomatillos_detail

We didn’t grow any tomatillos on the farm this year. They are a minor niche crop that don’t sell especially well and frankly we couldn’t spare the space or time. Fortunately, Adam, grew several plants in his home garden (how does he have time for a home garden?!?) and he was generous enough to drop off a big bag of perfect fruit the other day.

I love tomatillos. I love their fresh, tart, almost lemony flavor. I love their bright green color. And I love how well they combine with other foods, especially with foods that are just a bit fatty like chips or enchiladas. Tomatillos are the base of all the traditional green salsas and sauces found in mexican and tex-mex cooking. Every tomatillo recipe I’ve ever seen is variation of the very simple salsa recipe presented here. If you’re hankering for sauce over salsa, just take this salsa recipe, double it, sauté it for a few minutes in lard or oil, thin it with stock (animal or veggie) and reduce it back to sauce consistency (until it coats the back of a spoon). It’s a very traditional preparation. Recently I’ve been taking a less traditional path and making a green sauce by simply blending the salsa verde with avocado. It produces a rich, velvety but still tangly sauce I like using on enchiladas or black bean cakes (and it’s much healthier than the traditional, avoiding both the oil and stock). Continue reading Tomatillos and Salsa Verde

Summer Kale Part 3 and Citrus Kale Salad

Lacinato_top

Three months ago I decided to do a short series of posts about summer kale. The thought was that while people are becoming okay with kale in the winter, it still gets overlooked in the summer. That’s a shame. Kale is one of very few veggies that can be grown all year long. It’s always in season. My plan was to argue the case for summertime kale. This is the third and final post in that series.

We grow three varieties of kale on our tiny farm; Curly, Red Russian and Lacinato. In many ways, they’re all quite similar, sharing a basic, earthy kale-ishness. At the same time, they’re unique and distinct enough to more than justify our offering all three varieties. Here’s a quick rundown of how they differ and how we use them: Continue reading Summer Kale Part 3 and Citrus Kale Salad

The Big Corn Paradox

Corn_field

Taken at just another huge, local corn field

This might be the best summer recipe ever:

Grilled Summer Corn

ingredients

  • Fresh picked corn, still in the husks
  • Sea Salt

method

Pick them. Grill them, ASAP, still in the husks. Eat them, maybe with a pinch of salt.

There’s nothing better than fresh corn. I absolutely love it, and I’m not alone. Everyone I know loves it. This time of year it’s one of the best selling item in the produce world. Peaches, cherries and corn; in the summer everything else is an also-ran.

I love corn but I don’t grow any. I need to grow corn but I can’t grow corn. Thinking about it hurts my brain.

Imagine a small town with a single male barber. Let’s say all the men are close shaven. Let’s also say this barber shaves all and only the men who don’t shave themselves. The question then becomes: Does this barber shave himself?

Alternatively, can an omnipotent being create a stone too heavy for her to lift?

On a tiny farm growing corn is a lot like that. It’s a paradox. People love corn. They crave it. And few things drive more foot traffic. We don’t have it and, as a result, half the people walk right past our stand. On the other hand, it takes a lot of land to grow and it has almost no economic value. In my day job I work at a large natural foods grocery. Right now we are selling corn 4 for $1. At the farmers’ market, the guys across the isle from us have gone as low as 50 ears for $5. We could conceivably plant our entire 1/8th acre farm to corn (we’d yield about 2,000 ears), wait an entire season, harvest it all at once, sell out in a day and generate less than $500. Corn is brutal! We gotta have it to drive traffic but if we do it’ll break us. Pure Paradox. This paradox is even harsher for organic corn. That’s why it’s so hard to find. What’s the best way to become a million dollar organic corn grower? Start with $10-million and a dream.

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Chard and Summer White Bean Ragout

Chard_Rhubarb

I hate to admit it but we’re the Kelsey Grammer of market gardens. Which is to say, we’re typecast. Like Kelsey playing the same character across three different sitcoms, we’re at our best when growing greens. Sure people come to us for a lot of things like carrots, beets, broccoli and such, but our regulars, the folks who come every week and who’ve been with us for months now, all come for our greens.. We’ve been strong with greens from the very start, opening our first market, way back in April, with three kales, two types of spinach, mizuna, tatsoi and lettuce. Latter we were one of very few growers with Broccoli Rabe (rapin), which sold great. Over the summer, we’ve kept up with our three kales and might be the only one still bringing spinach. We’ve had to step down to a single spinach variety but we’re still there and it sells out every week. Recently, with summer blazing, we’ve added chard to the lineup. We’ve had it at market for the last five weeks or so and as we’ve come to expect from our wonderfully greens-centric customers, it’s sold great.

Chard_Stems

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