Farm News (5/25/16)
- This week we will be delivering spring vegetables.
- Next week we will deliver spring vegetables, meat, eggs and dairy to neighborhood pickup sites and via home delivery.
- The summer season starts the week of June 13th. You can registerhere.
- Please join us for a special member-only potluck and farm ridge hike starting at 5 pm on Saturday, June 11th at our Grayslake farm. No need to RSVP. You can find directions here.
The Vegetable Share:
- Green Garlic
- Fennel Bulbs
- Rainbow Swiss Chard
- Head Lettuce
- Hakurei Turnips
- Radishes or Spinach (whichever you didn't receive last week)
- Heirloom Cornmeal grown by Andy Hazzard of Hazzard Free Farm
It's been quite a hectic week so far, but that's pretty typical for late May on the farm. Last Friday we harvested and washed hundreds of heads of lettuce and many bunches of spinach, radishes, chard and turnips in preparation for the first farmers market of the season. At 3 o'clock on Saturday morning Peg began loading coolers full of eggs, pork and lamb. By 7 o'clock the stand was set up and Tyler and the rest of our market staff were all smiles as we greeted our first customers. It was great to see so many familiar faces among the crowd. It hardly seems possible that it's been 13 years!
After a restful day on Sunday, it was time to get right back in the saddle, or back on the tractor seat, to be more accurate.
With a strong chance of rain in the forecast for the middle of the week, we've kept most of our tractors going full time since Monday morning, laying plastic for cucumbers (above), planting tomatoes, moving straw bales for mulch (below), rotovating cover crops, cultivating, and mowing.
Keep your fingers crossed for a gentle soaking rain on Wednesday. Our crops could use it, and after all this work, we could use a bit of a break too!
Vegetable Notes: Making the Most of Your Farm Share
Raw fennel has a distinct anise flavor that is mellowed by the process of cooking. The whole plant, including the fronds, can be cooked. Sauteed or braised fennel is excellent paired with baked or broiled fish and a touch of butter and lemon. Another of our favorite ways to use fennel is to sauté sliced fennel with onion and some Italian sausage. Add it to hot pasta, mix in wilted greens (spinach, chard, etc), drizzle some olive oil on top and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and salt to taste.
Andy Hazzard raises heirloom grains and beans on land near Pecatonica that has been in her family since 1847. Her whole grain products are organically grown, unbleached, unbromated and non-GMO. They are always stone milled to preserve taste and quality. Stone-milling avoids the high-heat conditions found in many industrial mills that can alter flavors and nutrients. All of Andy's grains contain the germ, bran and natural oils that nature intended. We recommend that you place your cornmeal in the freezer or refrigerator to maintain freshness.
Preserving her family's farming legacy is very important to Andy. Here's what she writes on her website:
"I would go to the corn crib with my grandfather Earl Hazzard and choose a few ears of corn, we would shell them in the sunshine then trundle across the yard and down to the basement. Grandpa would get the hand crank grinder out and we would make cornmeal. Up the stairs we would go to deliver it to my grandmother, Marguerite and she would make us corn cakes on her little iron skillet and for dinner we would have cornbread. The cornbread recipe on my cornmeal was adapted from her recipe, that skillet is in my kitchen as we speak, the lessons they taught me continue on through my beliefs and my work."
Andy's Grandmother's Cornbread
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar or honey
1 cup milk or buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 9" iron skillet or cake pan. In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk, sugar (if liquid), and vegetable oil until well combined. Pour batter into greased pan, turn oven down to 350 degrees, and bake 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
More Recipes to Make with this Week's Vegetables
Rainbow Chard with Lemon, Fennel & Parmesan
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 bunch asparagus, chopped into 2-inch pieces
2 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb, plus 1/2 cup chopped fronds
2 medium lemons
6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 green garlic stalks, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly shaved Parmesan (shave with a vegetable peeler)
Cut the chard stalks off just below each leaf and thinly slice the stalks. Chop the chard leaves into large pieces. Keep the stalks and leaves separate.
Bring a large, wide pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus and cook for 1 minute before adding the sliced fennel and chard stalks. Cook for another 2 minutes, then add the chard leaves and cook 1 minute more. Drain well in a colander. Rinse and dry the pot.
Finely grate the zest from the lemons and set aside. Cut the top and bottom ends off the lemons, then stand each on a cut end and slice off the peel to expose the flesh. (Try to remove all of the bitter white pith.) Cut the lemon segments from the membranes, letting them drop into a small bowl.
Heat the oil and green garlic in the pot over medium heat. When the garlic begins to sizzle, add the fennel fronds (if using) and the lemon segments and cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Add the chard leaves and stems along with the asparagus and fennel and cook, stirring, until heated through. Stir in the lemon zest and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, sprinkled with the Parmesan. adapted from a recipe at www.finecooking.com
Couscous with Roasted Fennel and Toasted Almonds
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup raisins
3 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup almonds
1 cup couscous
2 stalks green garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons fennel fronds, chopped
Freshly ground pepper and salt, to taste
1 pinch coarse sea salt
Soak raisins in orange juice until they plump up, about 1 - 2 hours; strain, and set aside. Toss fennel in one tablespoon of olive oil, pepper and salt; spread on a lined baking sheet and roast in a 350 oven for about 12-15 minutes, until edges are beginning to brown. Toast almonds on a separate pan in the oven until lightly browned; allow to cool; coarsely chop, and set aside
While fennel and almonds are in the oven, bring chicken stock to a boil over high heat; add couscous, stir, cover, and remove from heat; let rest for about 15 minutes until all of the stock is absorbed. In a separate bowl, whisk together green garlic and vinegar, then whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil; add pepper and salt to taste.
Transfer couscous to a serving bowl and fluff with fork; stir in the orange-soaked raisins, and fennel fronds; toss with enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat everything. Top with roasted fennel and almonds; finish with a sprinkling of ground pepper and coarse sea salt. from www.food52.com
Rhubarb Cornmeal Cake with Orange and Cardamom (gluten-free)
2 cups rhubarb, fresh or frozen, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon gluten-free flour blend for coating the pan
1 cup sugar
2 cups almond flour
3 extra-large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Juice of half an orange
Zest of two oranges
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon medium cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons sliced almonds to decorate
About an hour before you make the cake, put the rhubarb in a small bowl and sprinkle with the sugar. Set aside until the sugar is all dissolved. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Using the wrappers from the butter, grease and flour a 9-inch cake pan and cut a circle of parchment paper to line the bottom. A springform pan will make it easier to remove the cake. If you don’t have one, cut two long strips of parchment paper and place them crosswise at the bottom of the pan, underneath the parchment circle, with the excess strips folded over the sides of the pan. You can use these “handles” to lift out the cake.
Beat the softened butter and sugar together until pale, light, and fluffy (about 4 minutes at a medium speed). Stir in the almond flour, then beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the batter is airy and soft.
With a large spoon, fold in the vanilla extract, orange juice, and zest. Add cornmeal, baking powder, and salt, still folding gently. Fold the cardamom into the batter until evenly distributed.
Spoon the batter, which should be a mousse-like consistency, into the prepared pan and smooth it out to the edges with a spatula.
Take the marinated rhubarb pieces out of their syrup and drain on a paper towel. Press the rhubarb into the cake batter and scatter the sliced almonds over the top. Some of the rhubarb pieces will sink during baking, so you will end up with a rhubarb-studded cake.
Set the prepared cake pan on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven 50–60 minutes. The cake should be firmly set in the middle and a deep golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and let sit 5–10 minutes, until the cake shrinks away from the sides. Then remove from the pan and leave to cool on a wire rack. from Edible Seattle, June 15, 2015
Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... head lettuce, green onions, popcorn, asparagus rhubarb, spinach and more!
- Margaret Sheaffer