Farm News (11/05/14)

Reminders & Announcements:
  • This week we are delivering fall vegetables, eggs and dairy.
  • Registration for winter shares ends soon! Winter pickup dates are 12/11, 1/8, 2/5 and 3/5 at the Grayslake farm.
  • November 15th is the deadline for earlybird savings on next year's CSA shares. Use discount code RENEW at checkout.
  • Save 10% on holiday gift boxes by using discount code HOLIDAY at checkout.


The Vegetable Share:

  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Yellow Onion
  • Potatoes (yellow or red)
  • Rutabaga
  • Fennel Bulbs
  • Beets
  • Bok Choy or Leafy Asian Cabbage (Tokyo Bekana)


The Dairy Share:

  • Fresh Sheep Milk Cheese from Hidden Springs Creamery
  • Plain Whole-Milk Yogurt from Sugar River Dairy
  • Muenster Cheese from Silver Lewis Cheese Co-op


Peg's Farm Journal
Last week I wrote about not feeling quite ready for this farming season to come to an end. While this remains true, it doesn't mean that I'm not enjoying the process of feathering our nest in preparation for winter. I believe this expression, to feather one's nest, can sometimes be used to imply the use of ill-gotten gains to make oneself comfortable. I favor a less cynical version of the metaphor. I like the image of the bird, spurred on by nature's many subtle signals, to begin preparations for the winter to come. Like the bird, Matt and I have been putting the final touches on our own little nest. After months of work, we have just completed a new addition to our old farmhouse. Our new living room was built using a technique called cordwood construction. It has truly been a labor of love for our family, requiring the careful and patient layering of cedar logs and mortar. The end result is a comfortable and beautiful space where we will spend many hours this winter dreaming about the season ahead.

Another aspect of our winter preparation involves preserving, or "putting by", some of the harvest. This year our own preservation efforts have been supplemented by the generous work of a couple of wonderful farmers market customers who have helped make it possible for these busy farmers to eat well during the winter. Thanks to Jeanne and Jim, our basement shelves are stocked with sauerkraut, salsa, pickled beets, tomato sauce, canned fruits and much more.

But before we tap into our store of canned goods, there are still plenty of freshly-harvested foods to enjoy. As the nights get colder, certain crops just keep getting better and better. The flavor of the carrots and beets is sweeter than ever, the bok choy is crisp and juicy, and the spinach is divine. Enjoy your bounty this week, and don't forget to take a little time to feather!




This Week's Featured Recipes

Shepherd's Pie
1 1/2 teaspoons butter, plus more for rutabagas and potatoes
2 pounds  boneless beef  roast, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium onions, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups dry red wine
2 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme

1 cup beef stock
4 carrots, cut crosswise into 3-inch pieces
1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into large pieces
 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
1/2 cup hot milk, or more if needed

Heat a wide, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat until hot. Melt butter, and brown beef in two batches, giving the pieces plenty of room so they brown nicely. Transfer beef to a bowl and set aside. Add onions; cook until slightly softened, about 8 minutes. Return meat to pan and sprinkle flour over the beef and onions, cook about 1 minute, stirring often.

Add wine and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the brown bits. Add the stock and herbs, bring to a boil, cover, and cook on low heat until meat is tender, about 1 hour. Remove the lid after 45 minutes; add carrots, and cook, uncovered, for the last 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Place chopped rutabaga in a large pot of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and cook 15 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook 20 minutes more. Drain. Mash the rutabagas and potatoes. Add butter, as desired, and enough hot milk to make a creamy puree. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Transfer stew into a deep 2-quart baking dish. Top with puree; dot lightly with butter. Bake 1 hour, or until top is brown and crusty.

White Bean & Fennel Soup
1 large onion, chopped
2 small fennel bulbs, sliced 
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
15 ozs white beans rinsed and drained
141/2 ozs diced tomatoes (undrained)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
3 cups fresh spinach, chopped

In a large saucepan, saute onion and fennel in oil until tender. Add the broth, beans, tomatoes, thyme, pepper and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Add spinach; cook 3-4 minutes longer or until spinach is wilted.

Tortellini with Sauteed Fennel & Spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
2  medium fennel bulbs, thinly sliced lengthwise (about 3 cups), fronds chopped 
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup (or more) chicken or vegetable broth
5 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
1 16-ounce package tortellini
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus additional (for serving) 

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced fennel bulbs and onion; sauté until almost tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Add garlic and fennel seeds; stir 1 minute. Stir in cream, then 1 cup broth; boil until liquid is reduced and very slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add spinach; cook until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Meanwhile, cook tortellini in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain tortellini; return to same pot. Add vegetables to tortellini in pot. Toss over medium heat until blended. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese; add more broth by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten if dry. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds, and serve, passing additional cheese.

Next week's harvest (our best guess)... spinach, mushrooms, head lettuce, winter squash, celeriac, leeks, kale, turnips and more!.

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  • Margaret Sheaffer