Farm News (9/30/15)


Important Reminders & Announcements:

  • This is a vegetable and fruit week for full-share members only.
  • Next week we will deliver vegetables, fruit, eggs, and dairy for full andhalf-share members.
  • The summer meat share ended last week. The final delivery for summer vegetable, fruit, egg and dairy shares will be next week.
  • Please join us for our upcoming fall festival. Together with the Liberty Prairie Foundation and several other local farmers, we will be celebrating another successful farming season at our farm in Grayslake. Please join us from 10 am to 1 pm on Saturday, October 3rd. Learn more here.
  • Scroll down for an update to Peg's letter on the proposed factory farm.

This Week's Vegetable Share (full share only):
  • Acorn or Carnival Squash
  • Lettuce Heads
  • Fresh Dill 
  • Hakurei turnips
  • Cabbage (Savoyed or Traditional)
  • Kale
  • Sweet Onions

This Week's Fruit Share (full share only):
  • Raspberries
  • Bosc Pears
  • White Seedless Grapes

Mick and his crew are picking Marquis grapes this week. This is a mid-to-late-season variety. Although it looks green, it is technically a white grape because it can be used to make white grape juice or wine. Its flavor is similar to a purple concord grape, so it's pretty sweet. These will likely be the last grapes of the season. Next week we're planning on finishing out the fruit share with plums, raspberries and an assortment of apples.

Farm Photo Journal
Hasn't the weather been spectacular this past week?! Our crew spent much ofFriday sorting and washing squash under sunny blue skies. All of the winter squash has now been brought in from the field. Some varieties have been sorted into bins and put away in one of the walk-in coolers, while other varieties (such as butternut) are still curing in the greenhouse.
The final cabbage harvest is currently underway. Once it's all been cut and placed into bins, the stalks and remaining leaves will be incorporated into the soil with the tractor and the disc, compost will be spread, and the field will be seeded to winter rye or a similarly frost-hardy cover crop.

While much of the focus of our work is on bringing in crops for cold storage, there are still plenty of crops that will remain in the fields until November. These include spinach, lettuce, kale, carrots, beets, chard, and much more. The combination of sunny skies, mild temperatures and adequate rainfall has so far provided the perfect recipe for keeping these greens looking fantastic. Enjoy your produce this week! 

Recipes from the Farm Kitchen

Pierogies with Cabbage and Dill

20 frozen potato-cheese pierogies (about 28 oz; not thawed)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise
4 garlic cloves, chopped
8 cups thinly sliced cabbage (green or savoyed)
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped fresh dill

Parboil pierogies in a pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 1 minute less than package instructions indicate (pierogies will not be completely cooked). Transfer with a slotted spoon to a colander to drain. Pat dry.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot, then sauté half of pierogies, turning over once, until golden, about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer to a large platter and keep warm, loosely covered with foil. Add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet and sauté remaining pierogies in same manner, transferring to platter.

Add remaining tablespoon oil and sauté onion over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to moderate, then stir in garlic, cabbage, water, and salt and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to platter with pierogies and sprinkle with dill.
from G
ourmet, April 2005

The Pioneer Woman's Penne with Chicken & Kale
1 pound penne, cooked al dente and kept hot
1 1/2 lbs chicken breast meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cups dry white wine
¾ cups low sodium chicken broth (more if needed)
1 bunch kale, torn into small pieces (stalks discarded)
shaved Parmesan

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken pieces in a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Don’t stir for a minute or two in order to allow the chicken to brown on the first side. After that time, turn the chicken and brown on the other side. After 30 seconds, stir it around and cook it until it’s done, then remove chicken from the skillet and set it aside.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic and quickly stir it to avoid burning. After about 30 seconds, pour in the wine and broth. Stir the liquid, scraping to deglaze the pan. Allow it to bubble up, then continue cooking it until it reduces by at least half.

Turn off the heat, then add kale, pasta and chicken. Toss to combine; the kale will start to wilt/soften as it mixes with the other ingredients. Garnish with shaved parmesan. Serve it right out of the skillet to hungry folks! Such a gorgeous and satisfying dish.

Creamy Dill Slaw
1 head cabbage
2 medium carrots
1 sweet onion, chopped
large handful fresh dill, chopped
1/2-3/4 cup real mayo (depending on how creamy you like the dressing)
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Thinly slice the cabbage using the slicing blade on the food processor or a very sharp knife, place in a large bowl. Grate the carrots and add to the bowl with the cabbage. Add chopped onion and dill to the bowl.

Whisk together mayo, honey, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl.Pour over cabbage mixture and combine thoroughly. Place in fridge, stirring every few hours to make sure veggies are evenly coated.

Kale & Sweet Onion Frittata
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced sweet yellow onion
3 cups chopped kale leaves
10 eggs
3 clove garlic (finely minced)
⅓ cup milk
1 pinch salt and freshly ground pepper
½ cup grated cheese

Position a rack about 5 inches below the broiler and preheat the broiler on high. Heat the oil in an oven-proof 10–inch skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in a handful or two of baby kale, cooking until it wilts, then adding more until you’ve used all 5 ounces. Cook until the kale is tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the milk, salt and pepper. Once the kale is tender, add the egg mixture to the skillet. Stir lightly to combine the ingredients, then cook without stirring until the bottom and sides have set, about 4 minutes. If the top is very wet, lift the sides of the frittata with a rubber spatula, tilt the pan, and let some of the liquid run under the cooked eggs. Sprinkle the top of the frittata with the cheese (the top will still be wet), then place the skillet under the broiler until the egg puffs and turns golden, about 3 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the broiler and let the frittata rest for 2 or 3 minutes to finish cooking. Run a heatproof rubber spatula or a small knife around the edge of the pan to release the fritatta from the skillet. Slide the frittata onto a warmed serving plate and cut into wedges (it can also be served from the pan). Serve hot or warm.
Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... spinach, mushrooms, potatoes, peppers, green onions, parsley, ginger, plums, apples and more!

Update on Proposed Factory Farm
It's been almost 2 weeks since I wrote to let you know about a proposal for a 5,500-cow confinement dairy operation that would be located near our Brodhead farm. Last week we asked the town board to consider an ordinance we drafted that would place a temporary moratorium on the licensing of any new large confinement farms in the township, including the proposed operation that we are currently concerned about. I'm pleased to report that the town board passed the moratorium ordinance. Local citizens will now have time to examine current environmental protections and to put in place additional ordinances and safeguards. This is an important step in the right direction,and we are continuing to work hard to make additional progress. Thank you, members and friends, for your words of support and encouragement and for your generous financial contributions. You are an amazing group of people. We wouldn't be making this kind of progress if it weren't for you!

Here's one final thought on this topic. At times like this, it's so easy to focus exclusively on strategies for defeating "the bad guys", that we risk losing sight of what we might accomplish if we were to spend an equal amount of energy helping "the good guys" succeed. There are plenty of local dairy farmers who work hard every day to improve the health of their animals, their soils and their customers. Farmers like Dan and Ashley Wegmueller whose herd of 60 pasture-grazed Brown Swiss cows provide milk for a local cheese factory. One of the challenges is to create a local food system that is transparent enough that consumers can make informed choices that are good for their families and for rural communities.

Now for the fun part-- here are a few photos taken earlier this summer at Dan and Ashley's farm on the day they hosted the Green County Dairy Breakfast.

The Wegmuellers practice rotational grazing, a type of management that Dan learned about when he worked as an intern at a farm in Australia. 

Brown Swiss cows are known for their ability to thrive on pasture and for their friendly nature.

In some cases they are very friendly.

This is a great image of culture and agriculture coming together. On the morning of the breakfast, Swiss alphorn players serenaded the Wegmuellers' cows as they were led from the barn out to the pasture. Just another example of how rural communities can be vibrant places to live when family farms are strong.  

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  • Margaret Sheaffer