Harmony Valley Farm

Harmony Valley Farm

Early Spring Farm Update!

24 Mar 2017 20:38

by Andrea Yoder
Spring is officially here and our first week of CSA deliveries is only 6 weeks away!  Here at the farm we are looking forward to the return of spinach, salad greens, spring onions, ramps, asparagus, chives, baby bok choi……we love seasonal eating!   We’ve had an exciting first week of spring and within just a few more weeks, the pace of the farm is going to quicken.  As we transition into a new season, we thought we’d share a little glimpse of farm happenings.
Onions looking forward to going in to the Cold Frame
Greenhouse to 'toughen up' before the journey to the fields!
Back in February we fired up our nursery greenhouse.  Despite a few snow days that slowed us down, our small winter crew worked diligently to get the house cleaned and set up before starting to plant.  Our onions are now 4 weeks old and were fertilized for the first time last week.  They enjoyed a few bright, sunny days earlier this week and were so happy they shot up a few inches over the past two days!  We also have some pretty little lettuce plants, the fennel poked through this week and the celeriac is finally coming up!  Celeriac takes almost two weeks to germinate, so it can be a real nail-biter waiting for it to come up!  This week Beatriz & Laurel seeded all of the first plantings of broccoli, cauliflower, spring cabbage and kohlrabi as well as our first planting of kale and collards.  Over half of the herbs for the herb packs are planted and we’ll be putting those together in just a few short weeks so they’ll be ready to deliver to your CSA sites in May!  
Beatriz, Gerardo and Laurel
in the Nursery Greenhouse.
Our second greenhouse is quickly filling up, so we’ve been working on preparing the third and final house.  This is our cold frame greenhouse which has rollup sides to give the plants a bit of a controlled dose of reality before they are transplanted in the field.  They get tickled by the wind blowing in the sides and their nights are chillier than they are in the other houses.  The plants will spend a few weeks in this house to toughen them up before they are transplanted into the field.  
John, Scott and Simon finishing up the
Cold Frame Greenhouse plastic project!
This year we had to replace the plastic on the cold frame greenhouse.  Imagine giant sheets of plastic billowing in the air….a magical image, right?  Not in our world!  On our first attempt, there were reports of large men (Scott and Richard) being lifted right off their feet by the force of the gentle wind coming up under the plastic.  We’re thankful that Beatriz held on tight and she landed on two feet!  After having to abort the effort on Tuesday, we regrouped and tried again on Wednesday morning.  Everyone on the farm came in at 7 am and we were able to successfully get the plastic anchored onto the frame before those seemingly gentle gusts of wind came up.  Simon and Scott will finish putting the house back together today and the onions will move into that house on Monday!
Early Wednesday morning
greenhouse re-plasticing project!
Our winter crew members have been doing a great job keeping up with our greenhouse schedule, getting the willow trimmed and bunched, etc, but when we look at our to-do lists for the next few weeks, we acknowledge we’re going to need more hands to get everything done before the first week of CSA deliveries!  This week we were thankful to get our final approval and be able to move forward with the process to obtain H2A visas for our field crew members in Mexico.  Yes, we’ve been a bit nervous and won’t fully rest until our guys have safely returned.  We expect the first group to return the second week of April.  Keep your fingers crossed that the rest of the process and their travels will go smoothly and safely!  
Out in the pasture, the ducks and chickens are anxiously awaiting the return to their summer pasture by the creek.  The ducks are looking forward to playing in the creek again….the puddles just aren’t as satisfying.  Our goat herd has expanded by two kids this month and there are 5 more expectant mothers.  The cows are healthy and have had a good winter.  They’ve enjoyed their “chocolate” hay on cold, wet, snowy days when they eat inside the barn, but prefer to eat outside in the sunshine where we feed them their special haylage bales.  Within the next month we hope to add pigs to our pastures and then our “Old MacDonald” farm animal collection will be complete.
One of our roosters saying 'Hello'!
Ducks waddling in a puddle waiting
 to go back to their creek across the road! 

Farmers Richard & Andrea
holding one of the new baby goats!
In the office, Kelly and Lisa have been busy processing CSA orders and working on the 2017-2018 CSA Calendar.  Richard has been working on his crop plan, ordering field supplies and sneaking in some time to work on a few wood projects.  Over the winter John has been working on finishing the inside of the new solar kiln for drying lumber.  Laurel and I enjoyed attending the MOSES Organic Farming Conference in LaCrosse, Wisconsin at the end of February.  One of the highlights of the conference included a keynote presentation by Mas Masumoto, one of our fruit growers from California!  I had the opportunity to have dinner with him at the conference and will share more about his story and our conversations in our fruit newsletters this summer.  
Farmer Richard working on a
walnut coffee table
And finally….Farmer Richard has a field report for us.  The overwintered spinach is alive! We had large row covers on it for the winter and perimeter fence to keep the deer out. Several weeks ago we had high winds that lifted some of the corners got tangled up in the fence and made a real mess!   Scott and Richard replaced the fence before the deer realized it was down and turned the field into an all-you-can eat salad bar.  The garlic sprouts are pushing through the straw mulch and our rye cover crops are a bright, dark green.
Dreaming of Summer Strawberries!
We are looking forward to the start of a new CSA Season and hope you are too!  Our supply of canned tomatoes, frozen mini-sweet peppers and berries is dwindling.  The stored onions are starting to sprout and the last portion of our winter supply of potatoes are starting to look more like seed potatoes!  I have a stack of seasonal recipes I’ve been collecting and am looking forward to trying them as the vegetables come into season.  Before we know it, we’ll be enjoying thick over-wintered spinach salads, fresh oven-roasted beets, juicy ripe strawberries, fragrant basil pesto and sweet sungold tomatoes bursting in our mouths!

CSA Charter Release and CSA Day Celebration!

24 Feb 2017 14:36


     It’s hard to believe we are just 10 weeks away from the first CSA delivery of the 2017 season.  This year will mark our 24th year of CSA and we’re already looking forward to the bounty of a new year.  Our first greenhouse is set up and our winter crew has been seeding onions this week.  It won’t be long before the hustle-and-bustle returns to the fields and we’ll all have the opportunity to enjoy fresh vegetables again!
     Friday, February 24th is CSA Sign-Up Day, a day being recognized by farms across the country as a day to celebrate CSA.  CSA is a concept that came onto the scene in the United States about 30 years ago and we were among the first farms to start a CSA in this region in the early 90’s.  Over the years we have built a strong membership and, in fact, we still have many members who have been with us since the early years!  The market place and our food system has changed quite a bit over the past 20-30 years.  About 6 years ago we started to see a slight downward trend in our membership.  Soon we started to hear other farms across the country were experiencing similar trends.  Why is this happening?  No one knows for sure, but it’s clear that there are more outlets available for consumers to choose from when making their food choices.  Farmers’ markets, food co-ops, natural foods stores, upscale grocery stores, gas stations and convenience stores, home delivery companies and even home delivery meal services.  So where does that leave us at the end of the day?  Where does CSA fit into the picture?

Read more about CSA Day on their website
     The concept of CSA has remained the same and we believe it will continue to be an important part of our farm.  After 30 years this concept remains rooted in establishing a direct connection between a consumer and a farm.  This is a connection that brings greater value to the table than just the face value of a vegetable—for both the farm and the consumer.  Even in the midst of a wide variety of food purchasing options, it’s important to remember that the story of our food goes beyond just the act of eating to satisfy the immediate hunger.  Our food choices have the ability to impact our environment, our health, the health and well-being of others, politics, economics and much more.  All food is not equal, and transparency is not always evident on grocery store shelves.  Understanding the story of our food leads to community….which is what “Community Supported Agriculture” is all about.
     So on Friday, February 24th, and every other day of the year, we will continue to celebrate the impact CSA has had on our farm and the community of people that we have been blessed with through our CSA.  We enjoy the opportunity and the challenge of growing a wide variety of vegetables over the course of the season for our CSA members.  Growing for CSA is not an entry-level position.  It takes skill, experience and a desire to keep learning and improving.  We have to work hard to make sure we have vegetables ready for you every week for 30 weeks and there are some challenging parts of the season.  While we’re all anxiously awaiting the first green beans, strawberries and zucchini, we learn how to incorporate kohlrabi, fennel and beets into our early summer meals.  Learning to eat and cook out of a CSA box may be a challenge the first year or so when you’re faced with new vegetables you’ve never seen or used before.  It takes time to learn to choose your recipes based on what is in your box instead of picking out a recipe and buying the ingredients.  Our long time members tell us it takes 2-3 years to fully make the transition to seasonal eating, but remember we’re here to help.  Once you have learned to eat with the seasons, you begin to anticipate what’s coming next and learn to eat a wide variety of vegetables!
     Last fall, a group of CSA farmers from across the United States and Canada started working together to create a CSA Charter.  The CSA values outlined in the charter are included in this newsletter and help all of us remember and understand the core values CSA was built upon.  It reminds us of the relationship that must be established between a member and the farm.  There is responsibility on both sides of the equation, but there’s also great rewards for both parties.  We reflect on the relationships we’ve formed over the years with some of those early members.  They made the choice to feed their children the highest quality food and placed value on including organic vegetables in their meals.  Their children grew up as CSA kids, helped pick up and unpack the weekly boxes, visited the farm and ate out of the fields, learned to recognize and were willing to eat a wide variety of vegetables, and the families built their seasonal repertoire of favorite recipes.  Now, their children are moving on to college, careers, and starting their own families….and they take their CSA upbringing with them.  They have learned to “eat out of the box” and we are now realizing how much the simple act of eating vegetables from “their farm” has had on their lives.  Sometimes we get the opportunity to see them again as they circle back to the farm for a farm event, send us an email, or stop by the farmers’ market for a visit.  They are now beautiful, intelligent, creative members of society and are evidence that it pays to invest in good food and community.  We are grateful to have the opportunity to grow with these families and look forward to continuing to build that connection with members into the future.
     As we approach the start of a new CSA season, we want to say “Thank You” to those of you who have already signed up for another year.  Your early commitment to 2017 CSA Shares is important for our farm.  We hope you’ll consider sharing your CSA experiences with other members of your community and encourage them to consider making CSA a part of their lives this year.  If you’re still contemplating signing up for 2017, we hope the CSA Charter will encourage you to take the CSA leap for another season.  Your membership in our farm does make a difference.

Farmers Richard, Andrea and the Entire HVF Crew

We invite you to read more about the CSA Charter
and why it is important on the website!

1.     Farm members buy directly from the farm or group of farms. There is no middleman.

2.     The farm provides member families with high quality, healthy, nutrient-dense, fresh and preserved, local and low fossil-fuel food or fiber, filling the share primarily with products grown on the farm or, if purchased from other farms, clearly identified as to origin.

3.     Farm members commit to the CSA, sharing the risks and rewards of farming by signing an agreement with the CSA and paying some part in advance, even as little as two weeks for those on Food Stamps.

4.     The farm nurtures biodiversity through healthy production that is adapted to the rhythm of the seasons and is respectful of the natural environment, of cultural heritage, and that builds healthy soils, restores soil carbon, conserves water and minimizes pollution of soil, air and water.

5.     Farmers and members commit to good faith efforts for continuous development of mutual trust and understanding, and to solidarity and responsibility for one another as co-producers.

6.     Farm members respect the connection with the land upon which the CSA grows their food and strive to learn more and to understand the nature of growing food in their locale.

7.     Farmers practice safe-handling procedures to ensure that the produce is safe to eat and at its freshest, tastiest, and most nutritious.

8.     CSA prices reflect a fair balance between the farmers’ needs to cover costs of production and pay living wages to themselves and all farm workers so that they can live in a dignified manner, and members’ needs for food that is accessible and affordable.

9.     Farmers consult with members, take their preferences into account when deciding what crops to grow and communicate regularly about the realities of the farm.

10.   Farm members commit to cooperation with the community of members and to fulfill their commitments to the CSA.

11.   Farmers commit to using locally adapted seeds and breeds to the greatest extent possible.

12.   The CSA seeks paths to social inclusiveness to enable the less well-off to access high quality food and commits to growing the CSA movement through increasing the number of CSAs and collaboration among them.

Harmony Valley Farm Special Offer

     In celebration of CSA Day, Harmony Valley Farm is offering a special $10 coupon to all new members as well as the usual $10 referral gift certificate to all current members that refer a friend! #CSADay

Winter Cookbook Review: Scratch

19 Jan 2017 22:41

by Farmer - Chef Andrea
     Happy New Year!  I hope your year is off to a good start and you are experiencing and looking forward to all the good things 2017 has in store for you and your family.  In between shoveling snow, and more recently scraping ice, we’ve been working on seed orders, laying out crop plans, washing the last of our storage vegetables and processing 2017 CSA orders!  In the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the winter rhythm, I’ve managed to find some time to sit by the fire and do one of the things I like to do most….read cookbooks.  Every time I tell myself I’m not going to buy any more new cookbooks…..then another good one comes out!  In the process of Christmas shopping for others, I managed to find a few new books that were published within the last year, as well as a few that I’ve pre-ordered and look forward to thumbing through in the upcoming months.  So I thought we’d kick the year off with a review of one of these new finds.
     The book up for review is called Scratch and was written by Maria Rodale.  The purpose of this book is outlined nicely in the subtitle which reads, “Home cooking for everyone made simple, fun, and totally delicious.”  This book is an easy and interesting read that starts out with a nice introduction in which Maria shares a bit of her background as well as philosophy on cooking at home.  Throughout the book she has taken the time to introduce each recipe and provide a little background about where the recipe came from, how it was developed and how it fits into this collection of favorites.
     Before we go any further, I’d like to give you a little background about Maria and her family.  Maria is the granddaughter of J.I. Rodale who is considered to be the founding father of the organic movement in America.  As a result of some of his own health issues in the earlier part of his life, J.I. Rodale developed an interest in promoting health and wellness as well as exploring ways of preventing disease through lifestyle.  In 1942 he began publishing Organic Farming and Gardening Magazine which was one of the first forums for discussing principles of organic horticulture, compost, soil health and pesticides.  Our own Farmer Richard’s grandfather was an early subscriber of this magazine.  This is the grandfather Richard credits as a major inspiration for him choosing to implement organic practices when he first started farming.  J.I. Rodale went on to found the Rodale Institute in 1947, an organization that still exists today.  The purpose of this institute was and still is to investigate the connection between healthy soil, food and human health.  They do so on their certified organic farm located in Pennsylvania where they produce vegetables, small grains, apples, livestock and more while studying different facets of organic agriculture.
     Maria’s father, Robert Rodale, was also interested in health, wellness and organic farming.  He followed in his father’s footsteps, eventually took over the Rodale Institute farm and continued to develop the work being done there.  As a result, Maria had the unique opportunity to grow up on the country’s first organic farm!  Maria is now the chairwoman and CEO of Rodale Inc., the publishing company that grew out of her grandfather’s own early publications and still strives to promote health and wellness through their publications as well as other forms of media.
     As you can see, Maria has a long history related to organic food, farming and cooking.  She starts off in the introduction of her book with the following statement:   “I believe anyone can cook.  I believe that a home-cooked meal made from scratch—preferably with organic ingredients (and maybe even homegrown)—is one of the greatest pleasures in life.  I believe that when you cut through all the confusion about food and cooking—the fears and insecurities, social pressures, false ideals, or just plain not knowing where to begin—this is where you can begin, right here.  I will help you.”  The recipes contained in Maria’s cookbook are simple, both in the ingredients they use as well as their methods.  Anyone, regardless of culinary skill level or experience can cook from her collection of recipes.  The recipes are easy to read and prepare, but still interesting.
     I would describe Maria’s approach to cooking and sharing these recipes to be very informal, honest and transparent.  In her book she openly shares personal experiences from her own family related to food and cooking.  Her three daughters, Maya, Eve and Lucia, are an important part of her story and are active participants in cooking.  In the book Maria states, “I don’t cook because I have to, I cook because I want to and because it’s the most intimate, nourishing, and primal pleasure I can give to my family and myself.”  She also shares this message:  “I want everyone to feel safe in their kitchens.  Safe to experiment and learn.  Safe to express their differences and creativity.  Safe to try new things.  And most important, safe to make a big damned mess and laugh about it, and serve the food we’ve made even if it’s not perfect or “blog-worthy.”
     As I read through Maria’s cookbook I appreciated her real life approach.  Despite a busy and full work life, she strives to come back to the simple pleasures of life which include simple, homemade meals based on wholesome ingredients.  I look forward to preparing more recipes from this book.  I have my eye on her recipe for Asparagus and Lemon Cream Pasta, BLT Salad, Broccoli Cheese Bites, Sweet-And-Sour Tomato and Pepper Salad, Kale Salad with Zesty Lemon Dressing and her recipe for Glazed Strawberry Pie.
     Maria also has a blog called “Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen” where she blogs on a variety of topics and also shares recipes, some of which she has included in her book.  The recipe in this newsletter features carrots and was originally featured on her blog.  If you’re looking for some culinary exploration this winter, consider taking a look at this book.  It’s not too early to plot out your seasonal culinary adventures for 2017!

Carrot, Feta, and Almond Salad

“You know those times when your fridge is either empty or pathetically filled with shriveled produce? (Yes, even my fridge can look like that!)  Usually, all that’s left standing at that point are the carrots.  Especially in the dead of winter.  That’s exactly when you should make carrot salad”.—Maria Rodale
Yield: 4 servings
Herb Dressing
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian or curly parsley leaves
1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 to 8 large carrots, shredded or grated
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
⅓ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  1. To make the dressing:  In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, oil, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste and mix with a fork to combine.
  2. For the salad:  Place the carrots in a large bowl, pour over the dressing and toss to combine.  Before serving, sprinkle the salad with the feta and almonds.
TIP:  If I make this in the warmer months, I like using a mixture of fresh herbs straight from the garden, but you can use all mint or all cilantro—whatever is your favorite and in season…..Maria Rodale
This recipe may be found on page 64 of Maria Rodale’s cookbook, Scratch.

Vegetable Feature: Carrots, A Winter Staple

15 Dec 2016 19:17

By Laurel Blomquist                                          

As 2016 comes to a close, you can be proud that you, as a CSA member, accomplished something that few Americans can claim: you ate with the seasons. You supported the regional economy. You based your diet on the freshest, most nutritionally-dense vegetables you could find, simply by being a member. And you can continue to do so until the root vegetables that you received in your share run out.

The subject of this week’s feature is the humble carrot. Luckily, carrots will last for months if stored in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer.  I have kept Harmony Valley Farm carrots for 2-3 months without a problem. It is best to store carrots away from apples, pears or potatoes, which give off ethylene gas and cause the carrot to deteriorate.

While the carrot may seem a little pedestrian in nature, they are ubiquitous because of their delicious sweet flavor and their versatility. Carrots are one of the ingredients in mirepoix, the flavor base from which many sauces, soups and other dishes get their start. Traditional French mirepoix is 2 parts onions, 1 part carrot and 1 part celery. These vegetables are called aromatics because they impart subtle flavor to a dish. You probably wouldn’t be able to single out that they were used, since they often are cut so small and cooked so long in a dish that they all but disappear. However, they give dishes layers of flavor that can’t be replicated without them.

With this in mind, make sure to grab a carrot or two every time you make anything in the slow cooker: soup, stew, braises, stock or under a piece of chicken, pork or beef. Carrots are also a nice addition to a jar of lacto-fermented vegetables, such as kimchi.  If you would rather see carrots on the plate and enjoy their sweetness, try roasting, braising or glazing them for maximum flavor. Juicing, salads and carrot cake or bread are more options.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t inform you of the health benefits of carrots. One carrot will provide over 200% of the RDA of Vitamin A through the conversion of beta-carotene in your liver, as well as some Vitamin K, C and calcium. Including orange foods in your diet lowers your risk of coronary heart disease and antioxidants such as beta-carotene lower the risk of lung, prostate and colon cancer.

Until the Dutch bred orange carrots in the 17th century, most carrots were purple, yellow or white.  Purple carrots, in addition to having the phytochemicals that orange carrots have, also contain anthocyanins, the antioxidant found in blueberries. (Foley) I would recommend keeping these carrots for roasting, braising, or glazing, so that your guests will notice them and remark on their beautiful color.

Enjoy our bountiful carrot harvest in as many ways as you can. And congratulations on completing another year of eating seasonally!

Foley, Denise. “Surprising Health Benefits of Purple Carrots.” Rodale’s Organic Life, Rodale Inc. 1 April, 2015.
Mercola, Dr. Joseph. “What are the Health Benefits of Carrots?” Mercola, Joseph Mercola. 28 December, 2013. 

Carrot Oatmeal Cookie

Yield: About 2½ dozen cookies

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder scant ½ tsp fine grain sea salt
1 cup rolled oats
⅔ cup chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded carrots
½ cup real maple syrup, room temperature
½ cup unrefined coconut oil, warmed until just melted
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and oats. Add the nuts and carrots. 
  3. In a separate smaller bowl use a whisk to combine the maple syrup, coconut oil, and ginger. Add this to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  4. Drop onto prepared baking sheets, one level tablespoonful at a time, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. Bake in the top ⅓ of the oven for 10 - 12 minutes or until the cookies are golden on top and bottom.
Note From Chef Andrea:  This recipe was borrowed from Heidi Swanson’s blog, 101cookbooks.com.  Heidi encourages experimenting with making different versions of this cookie.  When I made them, I used ⅓ cup chopped cashews and ⅓ cup shredded coconut in place of the walnuts.  I also added 1 tsp fresh lemon zest….and the results were delicious!  My friend, Steph, uses this recipe quite frequently.  One of her favorite ways to make this is to add mini dark chocolate chips in place of some or all of the nuts.  I think you’ll be pleased with the results any way you choose to make them!

Roasted Root Vegetables with Asian Honey Ginger Glaze

Yield: 7- 8 servings
Root Vegetable Blend
1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
9 cups root vegetables and/or winter squash, cut into medium dice (include any vegetables you have available—carrots, turnips, celeriac, potatoes, parsnips, beets)
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Herbs de Provence or Italian Seasoning
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp sea salt

Asian Garlic-Ginger Glaze
1 Tbsp ginger, peeled and grated or minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup soy sauce (reduced sodium recommended)
2 to 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup or honey, to taste
2 tsp red chili sauce (such as sriracha) or ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Put the diced onions and root vegetables in a large mixing bowl.  Drizzle the vegetables with oil and sprinkle with the Herbs de Provence, chili powder and sea salt.  Use your (clean) hands to toss the vegetables and mix to ensure everything is well-coated.  
  3. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on a large baking sheet.  Use two baking sheets if you need to in order to keep the vegetables in a single layer.
  4. Roast the vegetables in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, turning and stirring once, or until they are tender and golden-brown.
  5. While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the Asian Garlic-Ginger Glaze. Simply add all of the ingredients to a small skillet and bring to a full (but controlled) boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, while whisking frequently, until the volume is reduced by half.  This should take about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the glaze from the heat and set aside until ready to use (Note: as the glaze sits, it will continue to thicken).
  6. Once the vegetables have finished roasting, remove them from the oven.  Drizzle the garlic-ginger glaze over the vegetables.  Stir to coat the vegetables with the glaze.  Serve warm.  
Recipe adapted from one featured on theroastedroot.net.

Rolling Out 2017 CSA Shares!

15 Dec 2016 19:16

2016 Vegetable Share
It’s hard to believe this is our final week of CSA deliveries and Christmas will be here in less than two weeks! As we wrap up another year, we are already looking ahead to another CSA growing season. Regardless of how a year may unfold, we always strive to be prepared each year, with a plan for success in hand. 2017 will be no different and we’re anxious to put our plans in action and see what will unfold.

We’re excited to roll out our 2017 offerings and are already receiving CSA sign-ups for next year! You’ll find our updated CSA sign-up form on our website and there’s a link to it in this week’s email. We are offering an “Early Bird” sign-up offer again this year for members who sign up before February 14, 2017.  You can find more details about this offer on the front page of the sign-up form.

Our share offerings will remain the same for the 2017 season. We are continuing to offer the same vegetable share options, summer & autumn fruit shares and a coffee share in partnership with Kickapoo Coffee Roasters. While the pricing for our fruit shares will remain the same, we did apply a small increase to our vegetable and coffee shares.  As we discussed the 2017 coffee share price with Kickapoo Coffee, they felt it was important to institute a small increase this year as coffee prices are rising.  The good news is that this increase will be passed on to the producers!  As for our decision to increase our vegetable share price, we’d like to offer a little background.

2016 Fruit Share
For the past six years we’ve chosen to hold our vegetable prices at the same rate.  Back in 2010 we reached our peak in CSA membership and were packing 1,100-1,200 boxes per week.  We enjoy growing vegetables for CSA and consider it a very important part of what we do.  Our plan, at that time, was to maximize our CSA membership and decrease our production for wholesale accounts.  Unfortunately, the year we made this decision was the year we started to see a slight decrease in our CSA membership.  It was also about the time we were experiencing the economic recession and we assumed the decrease was associated with a change in consumer priorities and resources.  When we consulted with some of our core, longtime CSA members and shared with them what was happening.  They advised us to hold our prices steady, continue to do a good job and ride out the hard economic times.  Word of mouth advertising has always been our greatest way to sell CSA shares, so we decided to hold our prices to make it affordable for our members and focused on looking for ways to increase efficiency, decrease expenses, etc.

Unfortunately we have continued to see a slight decrease in CSA shares each year and overall the decrease each year has added up to about a 25% decrease in vegetable shares since our peak in 2010.  We’ve queried our membership as well as other growers around the country who are also experiencing the same reality.  Why is this happening?  Perhaps it is related to the fact that organic food has become more available at farmers’ markets as well as in mainstream grocery stores, Wal-mart and even the local Kwik Trips and convenience stores!  While it is good to see growth in the organic market, we believe it has impacted consumers’ choices to shop at other outlets instead of choosing to “eat out of the box.”  We continue to value our direct relationship with our CSA members. We believe sourcing your food through CSA provides a value beyond just the price you pay when purchasing food at Wal-Mart and the like.  We continue to invest resources, time and effort to produce the highest quality vegetables with good taste and nutrient density.  We try to do our part to connect you with “your farm” and provide a transparency that is not always present in our food supply today.  We understand that “eating out of the box” is different than shopping at the grocery store and do our best to provide our members with resources so they can find success in using the vegetables and creating delicious meals.

So, despite the fact that our CSA numbers have decreased, we still value CSA and want it to be part
Weighing strawberries at 2016 Strawberry Days.
of our business.  The reality though is that we cannot continue to absorb the increases in expenses we’ve experienced over the past six years.  The cost of some packaging and field supplies has gone up, at times fuel prices have been high, and the cost of labor has also gone up.  We recognize our crew works hard and we want to continue to support a living wage.  Thus our final decision was to increase our vegetable share price by about 3% on average across the vegetable share options.

Most of our CSA Sites will remain the same for 2017.  In the Twin Cities we are adding a new site in the St. Louis Park area.  We are still looking for a new site location in the North Plymouth area on the west side of Minneapolis.  If you are in this area or have a friend who may be interested in hosting a site, please contact us for more information.  Additionally, we are continuing our partnership with Lunds & Byerlys which allows us to expand our delivery options to the greater Twin Cities area with delivery to any of their 27 store locations.  If you are interested in learning more about this option, please reference the “Lunds and Byerlys CSA Sign-Up Form” on our website.  In the Madison area we will be closing our Marinette Trail site, however we will be adding a site located nearby on Robin Circle.

Before the end of the year you will be invited to participate in an End of the Season Survey.  We appreciate your feedback and this is your chance to offer input about what vegetables you might like to see in the boxes next year (Time to grow jicama again?  Radish seed pods, escarole, lemongrass or cardoons?) or communicate any other ideas or thoughts you may have for the future of our CSA.
In closing, we’d like to thank you for your support of our farm this year.  While we had some weather challenges to deal with and certainly miss having sweet potatoes this fall, knowing our membership was behind us is a huge encouragement for us.  We hope you and your families have a peaceful and restful holiday season and winter.  We look forward to growing for you again in 2017.

Sincerely, Farmers Richard and Andrea

December 2016 - Winter Is Officially Here

8 Dec 2016 19:54

     This is our final meat delivery of the 2016 CSA season and our pastures are quieting down.  This week we saw the first dusting of white covering our green, grassy pastures. The animals (and farmers) were grateful for the warm, mild weather we had in October and November.  Our pastures continued to thrive and the cattle were still able to forage enough grass until just recently when we started supplementing their diets with stored hay.  They are still out grazing and snacking on what is still remaining, but we are accepting that winter is here and it’s time to transition them to their winter diet.
     Just before Thanksgiving, we got 11 new Red Angus beef cattle.  They are only about 7-8 months old.  It took them a few days to acclimate to their new home, but they quickly became friends with our other cattle who graciously showed them out to the pasture and made them feel welcome.  All of our cattle made their way around our hillside through the pasture to their “winter camp.”  While they still spend most of their days and time outdoors, they are now close to the barn which we’ve prepared for them to use this winter.  They are cold-hardy animals and can withstand the cold of winter, but we like them to have a dry shelter to retreat to when the winter storms blow through.  We normally feed them their hay outside in their pasture, but on stormy or cold days Richard convinces them to stay inside by feeding them his special “Chocolate Hay.”  This is how we describe the best hay we have….the stuff the cattle would like to eat every day, but we have to make it last until spring so feed it sparingly.
Angel (Left) & Juan Pablo (Right): Our Animal Care Team
     We’d like to thank Juan Pablo and Angel for their help with caring for our animals this year.  These two gentlemen are responsible for feeding the pigs twice a day, maintaining the paddock fences for the cattle, moving the cattle to fresh grass as needed and making sure the mineral feeder got moved with them.  Farmer Richard and Captain Jack “The Dog” will be taking over animal feeding chores in about 2 more weeks when Angel returns to Mexico for the winter.  They don’t mind feeding animals through the winter and enjoy checking in on them once or twice a day.
     As we move into the cold of winter, I can’t help but crave warm comfort food…soups, stews, chili, etc.  I have a stack of about 15 cookbooks that were published by Taste of Home magazine.  My Mom used to give me one of these cookbooks every year for Christmas, long before I ever went to culinary school but enjoyed cooking for my family.   These books are filled with simple, down-home Midwestern recipes.  My brother used to flip through the cookbooks and mark the recipes he wanted me to make.  I haven’t cooked from them for many years, but just recently decided to look through them again to see what I could find.  Lots of simple, filling recipes!  This week’s newsletter features four simple, family friendly recipes using beef and pork.  They’ll guide you in making tasty, nourishing meals for your family this winter…and leave you with a little time to sit and sip some hot chocolate.  We hope you have a relaxing and nourishing winter.  We’ll see you in the spring!
–Your Farmers Richard & Andrea

Chili Casserole

Yield: 6 servings
Photo Borrowed from Taste of Home website

1 pound ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
1 can (15 ½ oz) kidney beans rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (14 ½ oz) stewed tomatoes
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 cups cooked bow tie pasta

1. In a skillet, brown beef and onion; drain.  Stir in beans, tomato sauce, tomatoes, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Stir in pasta;  heat through.

This recipe was featured in a cookbook entitled The Best of Country Cooking 1999, by Taste of Home.  It was in a section of the book entitled “Meals in Minutes.” Our Midwestern bookkeeper, Kelly, would argue that this is not really a casserole but rather a “hotdish.”
Whatever it’s called, it’s quick, simple and hearty!

Breakfast Patties

Yield: 8 Patties
Photo Borrowed from Taste of Home website

¼ cup water
2 tsp salt
2 tsp rubbed sage
1 tsp pepper
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
⅛ tsp ground ginger
2 pounds ground pork

1. In a bowl, combine water and seasonings. Add pork and mix well.
2. Shape into eight 4-inch patties.
3. In a skillet over medium heat, cook patties for 5-6 minutes on each side or until no longer pink in the center.

This recipe was featured in the 1999 Taste of Home Annual Recipes cookbook.  It was submitted by reader Jeannine Stallings from Montana who says “This homemade sausage is terrific because it’s so lean, holds together well and shrinks very little when cooked.  It’s incredibly easy to mix up a batch and make any breakfast special.”

Hungarian Goulash

Yield: 6-8 Servings
Photo Borrowed from Taste of Home website

1 pound stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound lean boneless pork, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups water
2 Tbsp paprika
½ tsp salt
½ tsp dried marjoram
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
Hot cooked noodles

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown beef, pork and onions in oil; drain.
2. Add the water, paprika, salt and marjoram; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 ½ hours or until meat is tender.
3. Just before serving, combine flour and sour cream until smooth; stir into meat mixture.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Serve over noodles.

Recipe borrowed from the cookbook, 2002 Taste of Home Annual Recipes.

Barbequed Pot Roast

Cookbook Photo Borrowed from
Eat Your Books Website
Yield: 12 servings

1 boneless chuck roast (3 pounds), trimmed
¼ tsp pepper
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 cup water
3 medium onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup ketchup
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp ground mustard

1. Sprinkle roast with pepper. In a Dutch oven coated with nonstick cooking spray, brown roast on all sides.
2. Add the tomato sauce, water, onions, and garlic. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Combine remaining ingredients; pour over meat. Cover and simmer for 3-4 hours or until the meat is tender.

Recipe borrowed from Low-Fat Country Cooking published by Taste of Home.

Adapting To Climate Change

1 Dec 2016 16:11

By Andrea Yoder

The Bad Axe River along Harmony Valley Farm

     We realize there are differing opinions about climate change, what is causing it, what should be done about it, etc. As we reflect upon our recent wet September and then an unseasonably warm and beautiful October and November, we (as farmers) would be foolish to ignore the fact that the climate and weather patterns are changing. While we were experiencing excessive rainfall, California and the upper northeast portions of the US experienced a drought. Since 2007 we’ve experienced three substantial “Hundred Year Floods,” but we also had a drought year stuck in there as well. Weather patterns are becoming more extreme and erratic. Despite these changes, we all still need to eat. This  means we need to figure out how to adapt to these changes so we can continue to do our job!
Photo Borrowed from UCS website
    In June of this year, The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) published a document entitled, Toward Climate Resilience:  A Framework and Principles for Science-Based Adaptation. Their framework starts with a concept they call “climate resilience gap,” defined as “the scope and extent of climate change-driven conditions for which people remain unprepared, leaving them open to potentially harmful impacts.”  There will always be times when we are faced with weather-related situations beyond our control. Despite our best efforts we may still suffer losses and major impact. But what can we do to adapt to these changes and do our best to be prepared and decrease the impact we experience from climate-change driven conditions?
     I think this is an important question for all farmers to ask themselves now. As we look at our own situation, we look for places of vulnerability in our operation. In doing so, we made a decision to stop farming one area of land we have leased for several years now. It is very prone to flooding and is not the most resilient soil. Several years ago we started leasing some new land that is “high and dry,” away from rivers and streams. We have transitioned the land to certified organic and are ready to put it into full production next year. In wet years, we value land like this. On the flip side, in a drought year we can have challenges with some of our higher ground that is further away from a water source. In some cases we don’t have a water source to irrigate from and in others we may not have permits to irrigate. We cannot live in fear of rivers and creeks and it isn’t realistic to move our farm out of the valley. There is no perfect situation, rather we value the diversity we have with different areas we farm and do our best to mitigate risk.
New in November 2016: Dike In Field
    Following the excessive rain this fall, Richard and many of the field crew took advantage of the time now available to work on some drainage improvements. In one area they rerouted the drainage ditch to take water around a field and built a nice berm to slow water down and shunt it in the right direction as it exits a culvert. We have another field that is located right along the Bad Axe River. The crew worked in this area to improve the drainage around this field so rain water can run off the field in the wheel tracks and is adequately drained away to avoid washouts and excessive wet spots. They also built a little dike! (Richard tapped into his Dutch heritage).  It will give us two feet of vertical protection to hold back the river if we have another flood type event. We also have a larger field that had some wet spots and areas that just didn’t drain well after it rained. In years like this where we had rainy day after rainy day, the plants didn’t thrive very well in those wet, soggy areas. It took several days of intense work to get the grade of the field worked out and build some drainage ditches around the perimeter of the field, but it looks great right now and we’re anxious to see how these changes work next year!
     We’ve also removed trees, branches and debris from the river as well as dry washes. If we don’t get these things out of the way, they will build up and create dams which obstruct water from flowing where it’s supposed to go and potentially can spill over into field and roadways. Management…it’s constant management and observation. You don’t clean or fix something up one time and assume it’s good for ever. Water is powerful and changes things as it moves. You have to constantly reassess the situation each year and especially after a major event.
Cover Crop: Built-in Soil Protection
     But what if we swing to the other end of the spectrum and have drought? One of our first defenses is to be ready to irrigate. Irrigation equipment is an expensive investment and some years it may be used minimally. In a drought year, it may be the only way we have to get even minimal amounts of water to vulnerable crops. Over the past few years we’ve also started burying drip tape in fields before we plant the crop. In many cases this is a more efficient way to water a crop as you lose less water to evaporation.
     We realize we have a lot to learn and will continue to assess what we can do to adapt as well as what we can do to contribute in positive ways to decreasing factors contributing to climate change. This is a big topic to explore, but we all have to assume responsibility for doing our part to care for our corner of our world.

Vegetable Feature: The Many Colors of Storage Turnips

1 Dec 2016 16:08

By Laurel Blomquist

Left: Purple Top Turnip / Right: Sweet Scarlet Turnip

     At Harmony Valley Farm, we grow several different varieties of storage turnips: gold, sweet scarlet and the more common purple top. Each can add a splash of color to your seasonal store of root vegetables this winter.
     Turnips have been cultivated for 4,000 years and probably originated in Middle or East Asia. There is evidence that they were grown for their seeds in India as early as the 15th century BC, and records exist of their cultivation in ancient Greece and Rome. They have served as an abundant winter crop for peasants when no other food was available, and also used as fodder for livestock during the long winter, when hay was scarce. Turnips are actually swollen stems fused with the root, and not just a root, as is commonly thought. The part that we eat is where the plant stores its energy that it would need to later produce seeds, if left to complete the full life cycle.
     Gold turnips can be traced to early 19th century Scotland, and were first patented in the United States in 1855 as “Robert’s Gold Ball.” The Scarlet turnip was introduced to the US in the 1890s by William Henry Maule as an improvement on a variety that originated in India. Purple Top turnips were introduced from France in 1852. The part that sits atop the soil line turns purple as it is exposed to sunlight.
      Storage turnips are dense and crisp with a sometimes spicy and pungent flavor when eaten raw. When they are cooked the flavor mellows and is mild and actually sweet. Gold and sweet scarlet turnips are our favorite turnips to eat as they are more mild than the traditional purple top turnip, which is the variety people are most often familiar with. Turnips harvested later in the fall after a few chilly nights are generally sweeter and have a more balanced flavor than those that are grown and harvested when it is warm or hot.
     Turnips are a very versatile root vegetable and may be eaten raw or cooked, although most often they are cooked. They can be stir-fried, steamed, boiled, braised, glazed, roasted or pickled. They also add a nice background flavor to soups, stews and braised meats. Storage turnips differ from the baby white salad turnips you received earlier in the season. They are meant for long storage and will keep for months if you store them in a cold, moist environment. Keep them in your refrigerator in a plastic bag. Sometimes when they are stored for longer periods of time they will start to get soft from moisture loss, but will firm up again when placed in a bowl of cold water. You can also use softer turnips in soups and you’ll never know the difference!
     Turnips are high in Vitamin C, minerals and dietary fiber, and are also low in calories. As a member of the brassica family, they contain cancer-fighting phytonutrients and antioxidants, an nice benefit to add to a winter diet. So enjoy your turnips and bring some color into your life during the cold, white winter.

Moroccan Turnip and Chickpea Braise

HVF Sweet Scarlet Turnip Harvest

Yield: 4 Servings

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into ½-inch thick half-moons
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 pound turnips, peeled and cut into ¾ inch cubes
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 (14-15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a large, deep saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
2. Add the tomato paste, turnips, salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper and stir well. Add the chickpeas and broth, raise the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
3. Stir in the pepper and cilantro. Serve hot.

Author’s Note:“Serve this wintry braise over rice or couscous or alongside a simple main dish, like roasted chicken thighs... If you like a saucy braise, serve the dish as soon as it is ready. The turnips will absorb the liquid as the dish cools.”

Recipe borrowed from Laura B. Russell’s book 
Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables.

Turnip "Risotto"

This recipe for Turnip “Risotto” was shared with us recently by a CSA member named Kristin.  If you are skeptical about cooking with turnips, consider what Kristin had to say: “I’m just writing to share a fantastic turnip recipe that we discovered. I’ve always had a hard time with turnips, never really finding a recipe that made them palatable to me (excluding salad turnips - those are delicious just as they are!). Then I came across this recipe, and it changed my whole world view on turnips.  We just tried it again last night with the beauty heart radishes that were languishing in our fridge, and it was delicious with those, too. Just sharing in case you are ever on the look out for a recipe to serve as a “turnip ambassador”.

Yield: 4 Servings
Photo Borrowed from seriouseats.com

6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, cut into ⅛ inch dice
1 ½ pounds turnips, cut into ⅛ inch dice
2 cup hot chicken stock
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Warm the chicken stock in a sauce pan over medium-low heat.
2. Pour the olive oil into a large skillet and turn the heat to medium. Toss in the onion and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the turnips and cook for 2 minutes. Ladle in some of the hot chicken stock and cook until absorbed. Continue until all of the stock has been added, about 10 minutes.
4. Season with salt and pepper.  Add the butter and grated cheese stir occasionally for a minute. Remove from the heat, garnish with parsley, and serve.

This recipe was featured on seriouseats.com
but Mario Batali is the original chef who created this recipe.

Doing The Right Thing

17 Nov 2016 15:49

By Farmer Richard

     “Donald Trump just got a temp job. The rest of us, with all our passions and ideals, have permanent appointments. We’ll always disagree over the political candidates. The trick is to keep moving forward in spite of it: to exercise our rights and responsibilities as citizens, while remaining together as family and community.”—Shannon Hayes (An excerpt from her blog, The Radical Homemaker, posted on 11/15/2016)
     We at Harmony Valley Farm have mostly opted out of the political mainstream. We have chosen to “do the right thing” according to our beliefs and understanding, even when the establishment’s point of view may differ. For example, many years ago county extension agents told me I wouldn’t be able to make a living farming organically. Nonetheless, we pursued our belief that we would farm in the way we thought was best for our land, our employees, our customers, our planet and the economics would work out. It has not always been an easy road and we’ve learned a lot along the way, but over 40 years later it has worked! So as we reflect on where we’ve come from and where we’re going, with a heart of gratitude we remember we are not alone, and the journey is worth it.
     We have chosen to make our life’s work to produce the most nutritious, wholesome food possible and are thankful for you, our many customers who appreciate the tasty, nutritious vegetables we produce for you. We have watched our long term members raise beautiful children who grew up eating our vegetables. They are now growing into adulthood and are healthy, smart young men and women with healthy brains who are going out into the world and doing “the right thing” to contribute to their communities and professions in positive ways. They are making wise and thoughtful decisions and we’re thankful to have had the opportunity to have been and continue to be part of their lives.

José Ramon spreading compost
     It’s important to remember that not one of us alone can change the entire world; however, when we work together collectively, even small individual changes or changes in a community can add up to make a difference. Shannon’s statement reminds us that we each have a responsibility to take care of and contribute in positive ways to change our own little corner of this world. We are by no means perfect, but we try to do our part. We continue to plant extensive cover crops and apply compost to our soil. This system helps to trap large amounts of carbon dioxide and helps mitigate atmospheric greenhouse gases. If done worldwide, the impact would be huge! We try to make the best use of our land by farming the portions that are appropriate for raising crops, grazing the hillside pastures that are prone to erosion, and managing our wooded areas by responsibly removing trees as needed and putting this resource to good use. We know not everyone in our membership chooses to eat meat or even supports our choice to raise animals for food, but regardless of our differences we continue to choose to raise our animals with respect and consider them to be an important part of our entire farm. We appreciate the opportunity to introduce children and members to our animals and allow them to see a healthy animal system. Can we ever have too many examples of respect and kindness to share with our children and each other?
Photo Borrowed from UCS website
     Nationwide there are examples of positive changes happening within communities and regions. In the Fall 2016 publication by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), they published an article about the positive impact climate legislation has had in California over the past 10 years. Since passing the Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006, there has been a 7.3% cut in global warming emissions and petroleum consumption has dropped by more than 14% in the state. At the same time, they have seen economic growth with a 12.4% increase in gross domestic product and their population and employment have increased by more than 7%.
     In the same UCS publication, we read a story about GRID Alternatives, a non-profit organization that is working to bring solar energy to low and moderate income families, an example of social equity as well as environmental change. Solar installations can be costly and the initial investment as well as the fact that many people don’t own their own land or homes can be barriers to using solar energy. Through the work of GRID Alternatives, they have been able to support over 6,000 solar installations including many in neighborhoods where residents have lower incomes or much more fixed budgets. The impacts have been great, both at the individual level as well as the community level. Not only are they using a cleaner source of energy, they are also seeing lower monthly expenses for utilities which has helped decrease their financial stress.
     We find these stories encouraging. We will always have differences of opinions, political and otherwise. Nonetheless we need to move forward and know that our daily choices and involvement in our communities do matter and can produce positive change. What is your passion? Is it related to the environment? Is it related to social equity? Are you in a position to contribute to scientific research or policy change? Are you an educator? Whatever your place may be, thank you for doing your part.

Vegetable Feature: Collard Greens

17 Nov 2016 15:34

By Chef Andrea

     Believe it or not, I don’t think I ever ate collard greens until I came to HVF! I remember seeing them in the grocery store back in Indiana, but our “greens” safety zone consisted of iceberg lettuce and spinach. We never ate cooked greens. Now I fear the long winter when we don’t have greens available and look forward to the return of greens in the spring.
     This week’s selection is collards, one of the heartiest greens we grow. Collards are characterized by large, paddle-shaped leaves that are blue-gray in color and slightly wavy around the edges. The leaves are thick and have a mild flavor similar to cabbage. While we grow and harvest collards for much of the summer and into the fall, we typically save this green for your boxes until later in the season. We do this partly because it is more frost tolerant and we can keep it in the field longer than most greens, but also because it is sweeter and has a better flavor after it has been through a few cold nights!
     Collards are eaten throughout different parts of the world including Africa, India, Egypt, Spain and Pakistan. The seasonings and cooking methods may vary slightly, but in general collard greens go well with garlic, ginger, chiles, coconut, turmeric, coriander, cardamom, mustard seeds, potatoes, smoked meats, black-eyed peas, peanuts, corn and potatoes…to name a few. In this country we usually think of collards as a “Southern” food. In the southern states collard greens are often prepared by cooking collard greens along with some kind of a smoked pork product such as hocks, bacon, etc and liquid for quite awhile until the greens are soft and tender. While a longer cooking time and some liquid do help to soften collard greens and make them tender, you don’t have to cook them in this way. You can also slice them very thinly and saute them just until they are wilted. When cooked this way they will retain their green color better and will be tender, but not quite as soft. Collard leaves also make a great wrapper to use in place of a tortilla. If you want to use it to make a wrap, you should either blanch it or lightly steam it before using in order to soften the leaf slightly and make it more pliable.
     Before using collard greens, wash them in a sink of water and then remove the thick, white center stem and rib. Either cut into bite-sized pieces or stack the leaves on top of each other, roll them and then thinly slice the roll. Collard greens may be added to stir-fry, pasta dishes or even use them as the base for a creamy cole slaw in lieu of cabbage. They are also delicious when added to ham and bean soup or incorporated into a fall curry dish.
As our growing season is coming to a close, we hope you enjoy some of these last green indulgences and try a new recipe or two!

Spaghetti with Collard Greens and Lemon

Yield: Serves 4
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced (or more if you
   like garlic!)
¼ tsp red-pepper flakes
1 bunch collard greens (12 ounces),
   ribs removed, thinly sliced
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
Grated zest of 1 fresh lemon, plus more
   for serving
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Coarse salt, to taste
12 oz dried spaghetti
¼ cup finely grated Pecorino Romano,
   for serving
Photo Borrowed from

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red-pepper flakes; cook until tender, about 1 minute. Add collard greens and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pine nuts and lemon zest and juice. Season with salt.
2. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, drain pasta.
3. Add pasta and reserved water to skillet, tossing to coat. Serve immediately, garnished with additional lemon zest and sprinkled with cheese.
Recipe sourced from marthastewart.com.

Collard Greens with Lime & Peanuts

Yield: Serves 4
1 bunch collard greens, stems
   removed, leaves cut into thin strips
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp coconut oil 
¾ cup chicken stock
⅓ cup peanuts, toasted and roughly
Juice of one lime
Salt, to taste
1. Remove stems, chop and rinse the collard greens;  don’t worry about drying them, the water clinging to the leaves after rinsing will help them cook down.
2. Toast and chop peanuts, set aside.
3. Heat 1 Tbsp coconut oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.
4. Add greens and use tongs to toss until well coated, season with a bit of salt.
5. Add stock and reduce heat to simmer.
6. Cook on low, uncovered, allowing liquid to reduce slowly until the stock has nearly all evaporated.  This may take about 20-40 minutes (do not rush this part).
7. Once liquid has reduced, taste the greens to check texture (this part is all about preference;  if you like them softer, add more liquid and continue to cook).
8. When greens are finished cooking, remove from heat and stir in peanuts, lime juice and remaining 1 tsp coconut oil.
HVF Note: When we tested this recipe, we served the collard greens over cooked rice.  This recipe serves 4 if eaten as a side dish or 2 if eaten as the main dish.
Recipe adapted by one posted by Emily Nichols on Food52.com.

A Pasture Walk with Farmer Richard

10 Nov 2016 16:24

By Richard de Wilde
     This article was originally printed in our vegetable newsletter in September 2013. After a recent walk through our pastures this fall, Richard and I were reminded just how important it is to continue to manage our land, including our pastures and woods. It’s a big job, and one that is never finished. It takes a diligent effort to keep things “under control,” but the result is healthy pastures that are pleasant and desirable for our animals to live in and graze. We find joy and fulfillment in watching our cattle graze and live peaceful lives on our lush pastures while the pigs keep us entertained with their pig-like behaviors. Thank you for supporting us in our efforts to do the best we can to raise meat in the most respectful manner we can. 
--Farmers Andrea & Richard
     Our farm, like most farms in the Driftless region, has land along creek beds, dry washes and steeper hillsides that is not   suitable for farming and has traditionally grazed animals. Our hillside pastures were cleared and planted to wheat in the late 1800’s and it was an erosion disaster! The scars are now healed and grass covers the hillside, preventing erosion. This month’s Edible Madison magazine (September 2013) has a very well-written article on the birth of soil conservation and contour farming which started in the 1930’s in our own Vernon County, Wisconsin. The present day NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) was started and Aldo Leopoldo was actively working in the field with them to turn around 70 years of disastrous farming, which had destroyed the productive capacity of most of the county’s farmland. Animals, grass, and strips of non-erosive hay between cultivated crops saved the land. Now our county is experiencing a new crisis as animals leave the farms to go to big feedlots and confinement dairies and contour strips and grass waterways are being torn out to accommodate only two crops, corn and soybeans. As a result, erosion is on the rise once again.
     I milked cows on this farm from 1984-1986, but sold the herd to devote my time and resources to full-time vegetable farming. In the years that followed this transition, we saw the results of abandoned pastures. Prickly ash, willows, box elder trees, black locust, honeysuckle, multiflora rose and garlic mustard took over and choked out the hillsides. Our beautiful little Spring Creek disappeared in a tangle of brush and the stream no longer flowed openly. With the grass overtaken and the stream banks eroded, the trout were choked out. In recent years, we have spent considerable time and resources working towards reclaiming our beautiful Spring Creek, as well as learning from our mistakes and working hard to maintain other waterways and river banks on our property. We have removed huge patches of prickly ash, multiflora rose and invasive honeysuckle by pulling them out and then grading and reseeding these areas to establish new grasses and clovers. We built new fences and brought animals back to our hillsides to graze these areas to help us maintain them. We have cleaned the trees and brush out of the creek and fixed stream bank erosion with large limestone rocks lining the banks. Many areas we can now mow once a year to keep down invasive plants and prevent trees from taking over. Despite all our efforts, the single biggest help in maintaining our improvements are now the cows, pigs and goats that graze our pastures. 
     While we realize that not all of our customers choose to eat meat and our focus is on vegetable production, we’ve chosen to include animals on our farm because they have a very important purpose. Unlike feedlot cattle and pigs that exist solely to gain weight and be taken to slaughter, our animals have a greater calling. Their purpose is to graze and fertilize our hillside pastures, thereby maintaining them and improving them for years to come. This is a very different lifestyle for these animals in comparison to industrial animal production.  
     Farmers are stewards of the land, but we can’t forget that part of that calling is honoring and respecting the land and animals we care for. As we walk through our pastures and look out across the hillsides, we see the beauty that is the result of all of our hard work. We are blessed to live in a beautiful, unique location and will continue to strive to maintain our land.

Meatballs in Pineapple Sauce

Yield: 10 as an appetizer or 4 if served as a main entrée
For the Meatballs:
½ cup dry breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp finely chopped onions
½ tsp salt
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 pound ground beef
2 Tbsp olive oil
For the Pineapple Sauce:
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 can (13 ¼ ounces) chunk pineapple, in natural, unsweetened juice 
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 small green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1. Mix all the ingredients, except the olive oil, in a large bowl.  Shape into 1 ½-inch balls.  
2. Saute meatballs in the olive oil over medium heat, turning occasionally, for about 15 to 20 minutes, until browned.  Pour off the fat, remove the meatballs from the skillet, and set aside.
3. Mix together the brown sugar and cornstarch, and add to the skillet used for the meatballs.  Pour in the pineapple and juice, and add the vinegar, soy sauce, and chopped pepper.  
4. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat immediately, add the meatballs, and simmer 10 minutes longer.
Recipe borrowed from Shannon Hayes’ book, The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook.

Slow-Cooker Chipotle Beef Tacos with Cabbage-Radish Slaw

Yield: 6 Servings
2 ½ to 3 pounds stew meat (May also use round steak or chuck roast, cut into 2-inch pieces)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 to 3 Tbsp chopped chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
Kosher salt
4 cups thinly sliced cabbage
4 radishes, halved and sliced (may use fresh red radishes or beauty heart radishes)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
12 6-inch corn tortillas
Sour cream, pickled jalapeño peppers and hot sauce, for serving
1. In a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker, toss together the beef, onion, garlic, chipotles, bay leaves, oregano and 1 tsp salt.  Cover and cook until the beef is very tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 3 ½ to 4 hours.
2. Twenty minutes before serving, heat oven to 350°F.  In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, radishes, and cilantro with the lime juice and ¼ tsp salt.  Wrap the tortillas in foil and bake until warm, 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Transfer the beef to a medium bowl (reserve the cooking liquid) and shred, using 2 forks. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into the bowl and toss with the beef to coat.
4. Fill the warm tortillas with the beef and slaw.  Serve with sour cream, pickled jalapeños, hot sauce and lime wedges.
Recipe borrowed from Easy, Delicious Home Cooking by Real Simple.

The Easiest Ribs You’ll Ever Make

Yield: 2-3 servings
1½ to 2 pounds pork spare ribs 
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Smoked paprika 
¾-1 cup brown sugar
Heavy Duty Foil
1. Preheat oven to 275°F.
2. Rinse off the ribs and pat dry.  Liberally coat the ribs with the kosher salt, pepper and the paprika.  Pack on the brown sugar.
3. Lay out a piece of heavy duty foil that is large enough to fully wrap the meat in.  If your spare ribs are in more than one piece, you can wrap each piece individually if it’s easier.   Wrap the ribs into a packet and make sure it’s closed on all sides.  Place the ribs on a sheet tray and place in the oven for 2 ½ hours.  
4. Remove the tray from the oven.  Let sit for one hour.  Do not open the pouch during this hour.
5. When ready to serve, reheat the ribs in the oven for about 10-15 minutes at 350°F (this is assuming the ribs have not been refrigerated) or open the pouch, baste the ribs with the juices and place them under the broiler for five minutes.
6. Serve immediately with cornbread and a simple salad for a yummy yummy meal!
Chef Andrea Yoder’s Note: This is the easiest method I’ve ever used to cook spare ribs and they come out tender and delicious.  The prep time is very minimal, so I often prepare these the night before or first thing in the morning and put them in the refrigerator.  If I have enough time in the evening after work, I’ll cook them for dinner that night.  If we’re hungry and don’t want to wait, I’ll heat up the oven and cook them anyway while we’re eating dinner.  Then they’re ready to just reheat for the next night’s dinner!
Recipe adapted from the blog, Alexandra’s Kitchen: alexandracooks.com

Vegetable Feature: Fresh Baby Ginger

3 Nov 2016 15:29

By Chef Andrea

     We are very excited to deliver possibly the freshest ginger you may ever have experienced! Given our shorter growing season, the ginger we grow is actually considered “Baby Ginger.”  Ginger has a wide variety of culinary uses and is a common ingredient in the cuisine of many Asian cultures. It is a base ingredient in Chinese stir-fries. It is combined with lemongrass and chiles to make Thai curry pastes and in Japan, it is often served alongside sushi in its pickled form. Ginger has a spicy, warm flavor which also makes it an excellent ingredient to include in baked goods, tea and other beverages. 
     To use your ginger,  cut off a piece from the main chunk and peel it. Remember, this is very fresh ginger and still has a very thin skin so you don’t have to peel very deep, rather just gently scrape away the thin skin. You can store  ginger pieces for several days at room temperature or if you aren’t going to use it right away you can store it in the refrigerator. It can also be preserved for long term storage by freezing it. I like to cut it into smaller pieces before I freeze it so I can just pull out a small portion as I need it. You will find this fresh ginger to be very juicy and crisp with a bright flavor. The long green stems attached to the lower portion contain a mild ginger flavor as well. I cut them into 5-6 inch pieces and use them to infuse a little more ginger flavor into soups, stocks, curries, tea, etc.
     We have more recipes available on our website from past newsletters. A few of my personal favorites include Golden Milk, Chai-Spiced Bread, Ginger-Cardamom Tea and Pickled Ginger. Have fun using and experiencing this tropical Wisconsin treat!

Crystallized Ginger

Recipe adapted from Alton Brown, The Food Network
Photo borrowed from The Food Network Website
8 oz fresh ginger root
4 cups water
½ lb granulated sugar, or as needed
1. Spray a cooling rack with non-stick spray or brush lightly with oil and set it in a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. 
2. Clean and peel the ginger. Because the ginger is so young and fresh, a spoon or knife scraped against the root should work well for peeling. 
3. Slice the ginger into ⅛ inch slices. Place ginger and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat, and simmer for 35-50 minutes, or until the ginger is tender. 
4. Drain the ginger, reserving ¼ cup of the liquid. Weigh the ginger and add an equal amount of granulated sugar. Return the ginger, sugar and up to ¼ cup of the reserved liquid back to the pan. You only need to use enough liquid to dissolve the sugar. 
5. Stir over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and continue stirring and watching as the syrup thickens. Keep stirring and cooking until the syrup has dried and the sugar has recrystallized, about 20 minutes. The transformation will be obvious. Immediately move the ginger to the wire rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
HVF Note: Use the crystallized ginger in the carrot-ginger soup recipe in this newsletter or add it to banana bread, sugar cookies, ginger snaps, citrus salad, granola bars, cakes, pies, muffins, cupcakes, shortbread, pancakes, waffles, over ice cream, in lemon pound cake, cranberry relish or in pear or apple crisp. Save any gingery sugar crystals to put in your coffee or tea. You can even add the ginger water that you made in the first step to tea, but be careful - it’s spicy!

Carrot-Ginger Soup

Recipe adapted from The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen
Yield: 6 servings
HVF Note: This recipe aims to keep it simple by amplifying the sweet flavor of carrots by using a few basic aromatics and lots of carrots, including carrot juice. If you’ve been stockpiling your carrots for the last few weeks, this would be a great recipe to use. The addition of baking soda is to tenderize the carrots and ginger, producing a perfectly creamy soup.
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, ghee or vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped fine
¼ cup minced crystallized ginger (see recipe, opposite) 
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
4 cups water
1 ½ cups carrot juice, divided
2 sprigs fresh thyme
½ tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional Garnishes: chopped chives, sour cream, croutons
1. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onions, crystallized ginger, fresh ginger, garlic, 2 tsp salt, and sugar. Cook, stirring often, until onions are softened but not browned, 5-7 minutes
2. Stir in carrots, water, ¾ cup carrot juice, thyme sprigs and baking soda. Increase heat to high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer gently until carrots are very tender, 20-25 minutes. 
3. Discard thyme sprigs. Working in batches, process soup in blender until smooth, 1-2 minutes (caution: vent the blender carefully, as steam will be released). Return pureed soup to clean pot and stir in vinegar and remaining ¾ cup carrot juice. 
4. Return soup to brief simmer over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, garnishing individual bowls with chives, sour cream and/or croutons.

Ginger: Spicy, or Anti-Inflammatory?

3 Nov 2016 15:25

By Laurel Blomquist

Fresh Baby Ginger
     Welcome to another article in our anti-cancer series. Today’s focus is on the tropical rhizome, ginger. Don’t forget, these anti-cancer foods also combat neurological, immunological, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and metabolic disorders, as well as the process of aging. 
     Ginger has not yet been studied by Richard Beliveau and Denis Gingras, authors of Foods to Fight Cancer. However, they do include it in their appendix as a flavor you should include in your anti-cancer meals, particularly any of an Asian flair. They say, “One of the principal molecules present in this spicy root, known as gingerol, has often been put forward as a powerful potential anticancer agent, for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as its inhibiting activity on cancerous cells.” (p. 179)
     David Servan-Schreiber also mentions ginger in Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life. He calls out ginger’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and protective effects. He cites three studies that demonstrate this, as well as ginger’s ability to reduce the creation of new blood vessels. He recommends ginger to alleviate nausea brought on by chemotherapy or radiation, and suggests making a simple tea by slicing an inch of ginger and steeping in boiling water for ten to fifteen minutes. (p. 134)
     Ginger has been found effective at inhibiting liver cancer, a particularly fast-growing cancer that spreads rapidly. Researchers in China found that ginger reduced serum liver cancer markers and liver tissue growth factors. Ginger was also found to inhibit inflammation and promote apoptosis (ritual cell death) using three of its compounds: geraniol, pinostrobin and clavatol. 6-shogaol and 6-gingerol, two of ginger’s active ingredients, also prohibited metastasis, or the spread of liver cancer to other parts of the body. (Zhou et al. 2016)
Close-up: ginger in greenhouse
     I found a laundry list of benefits from ginger in the book The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, by Jonny Bowden (p. 284-285). For those of you who practice Ayurveda, India’s 5000-year old “Science of Life,” you may already know that ginger is known as the universal remedy. Bowden reiterates ginger’s ability to stave off nausea and vomiting, and adds that since ginger doesn’t have side effects, it may be particularly of interest to pregnant women experiencing morning sickness. He lists several active ingredients, including shogaol and zingerone, which are anti-inflammatory and could be used by those suffering from arthritis or fibromyalgia. He cites a study suggesting that gingerols may inhibit the growth of human colorectal cancer cells. Other studies show that ginger has positive effects on the gastrointestinal tract, the cardiovascular system, pain, and fever. 
     In mice and other animal studies, ginger was shown to lower cholesterol, slow the development of atherosclerosis (arterial plaque build-up), boost the immune system, slow the growth of tumors, and work as an antimicrobial and antiviral agent. Ginger can also improve circulation for those with perpetually cold hands and feet. However, precautions should be taken by those who take prescription medications that thin the blood, such as Coumadin or aspirin, since the effects will be amplified by ginger. Ginger also increases bile acid secretion, which is great for those with Fatty Liver Disease, but not so good for people with gallstones or gallbladder disease. An increase in bile helps the body process and absorb fats, which is necessary to absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as A, E, D, and K. 
Ginger in the greenhouse
     The most exciting article I read about ginger cited a recent study that showed 6-shogaol (a compound found in dried or cooked ginger) is 10,000 times more effective than chemotherapy drugs at destroying cancer stem cells! The study was done on breast cancer stem cells, but the research suggests it could be used for any cancer. What is a cancer stem cell? It is the “mother” cell that regenerates to produce new cancer cells, forming tumors and offshoots. Chemotherapy does not kill off these cells, even at very high doses. Chemo also does not differentiate between healthy cells and cancer cells, which is why it typically makes the patient feel sicker in the short term. Killing cancer stem cells is very important for the long-term fight of any patient against cancer. Doctors may be able to remove cancerous cells and tumors, but unless they kill off the stem cells, cancer may return in the future. For more information on this study, and a link to the study itself, visit: foodrevolution.org/blog/ginger-cancer-treatment.
     I used to eat ginger a few times a week, but now I think I’m going to try to incorporate it into my meals or drinks every day. With its distinct flavor and potent anti-cancer compounds, ginger can’t be beat!
Beliveau, Richard, and Denis Gingras. Foods to Fight Cancer. 2007. 
Bowden, Jonny, PhD, CNS. The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. 2007.
Ji, Sayer. “Ginger: 10,000 times stronger than Chemo in Cancer Research Model”. FoodRevolution.org. [Green Med Info], Oct. 19, 2015. 
Servan-Schreiber, David. Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life. 2009. 
Zhou Y, Li Y, Zhou T, Zheng J, Li S, Li H-B. March 10, 2016. Dietary Natural Products for Prevention and Treatment of Liver Cancer. Nutrients. 8(3): 156.

Wow, What a Year!

27 Oct 2016 17:37

Some of our wonderful crew helping out during Strawberry Days
By Farmer Richard

     We’ve had a roller coaster of challenging weather, but have had mostly successful crops despite the bumps along the road. Good management and good crew have been the key to this year, but there’s only so much you can do when you get the unavoidable 100 year flood! The third of its kind in 8 years!...hmmm. It did help us make the final decision to not farm one of those flood prone farms next year!
     The last couple weeks have been beautiful fall weather! We finished most of our harvest and had plenty of time to plant our 2017 garlic crop. We put a nice layer of mulch on it and are praying for a good crop for next year. We’ve also finished planting our sunchoke and horseradish crops for next year as well as applied compost and planted a rye cover crop on all available acres. Our crew spent quite a bit of time over the last month cleaning up most of the driftwood and rocks from flooded fields. We are ready for spring! We’ve completed all of these fall tasks earlier than usual, so we have also had extra time to clear trees out of the river and cut fallen trees.
     We also have been able to work in the woods! We have 325 acres of woods that have not seen much attention for 50 years until recently. We have a forester working on a management plan for us. He has been walking all our woods, cataloging tree species, designing a network of access roads, and recommending work to be done. It is enormous! The forester has described our woods as typical for most Wisconsin woods, representing 150 years of poor management and over-grazing with livestock. The best trees were removed by a logging company 40-50 years ago and the poor, crooked trees were left to capture the sunlight and dominate. We have many of those old trees, yet many good trees as well. Despite the fact that we have had offers from logging companies to come in and log some trees, we are well aware of their intentions to only take the good ones which will still leave us with a woods full of poor, crooked trees. Their price usually sounds good, but still would never cover the taxes that we have paid and will continue to pay on the woodlands. So we have chosen to decline their offers and take on management of our woods ourselves, which will also help support local jobs and local sales.
Bottle Stopper Top in Cherry Wood
     We have a small bulldozer and a strong desire to connect with our woods. Most woods are moderate to very steep slopes, difficult to walk, hunt, ski or enjoy. So this fall, the last few weeks of mostly warm fall weather, the leaves turning color and then dropping with rain and wind, I have been blessed to spend many hours on our little 80 hp New Holland bulldozer making roads through our woods. Roads that are very challenging to make, requiring a carefully chosen path flagged with yellow ribbons, sometimes weaving a bit to avoid big trees, but having a beginning and an end point. What a fine way to get to know your woods! Admiring the towering old oaks, walnuts, hickory and cherry trees and identifying the smaller trees to make the right decision about what stays and what goes, all the time looking for burls on cherry trees that would make nice bottle stopper tops. Most of our logging energy has gone into salvaging ash trees that have recently been killed by the Emerald ash borer. Ash is a beautiful hard wood. Anyone thinking about a new floor?  Once the logs are sawed, we will have approximately 15,000 board feet of lumber! We could provide you with a beautiful ready to install floor!
     Ah, working in the woods is such a joy. The fall colors, the few remaining birds. Even with the bulldozer running, I saw a beautiful buck deer slowly working his way through the trees below me…and that rabbit that was hiding under the parked bulldozer after lunch was quite the surprise! We love our beautiful woods, and I’ve dreamed about building access roads through it for many years. For the first time we have a road that runs from one end of our farm to the other allowing us an easy-to-walk path to stroll on, enjoying the peace and beauty of our valley and woods. Andrea and I took a little Sunday stroll a few weeks ago, what a fun escape!
     We’ve taken care to immediately seed fescue and clover grass as soon as we finished a section of the road and the fall leaves provided a beautiful mulch. We aren’t doing this just for us, it’s for you too! We hope you will consider a trip to the farm and enjoy hiking or skiing the roads on our farm as well!

Vegetable Feature: Fall In Love With Arugula

27 Oct 2016 17:34

By Laurel Blomquist

     Arugula is one of the dozens of brassicas we grow.  Some folks call it rocket for its fiery taste. Personally, I think arugula is best in the spring and the fall, when the flavor is more balanced and it’s a little sweeter. In any case, the greens are full of flavor and therefore often mixed with other greens to tone them down, especially if eaten raw.
     Arugula is especially popular all around the Mediterranean, which is where this plant originated. It’s eaten on pizzas and pastas and even made into a digestive liqueur in Italy.  It’s used commonly in salads and omelets in Greece. It is recommended for newlywed couples in Saudi Arabia, possibly because of its ancient reputation for stirring the libido. In Egypt, arugula is eaten with fava beans for breakfast, and seafood for dinner while those in Turkey make it into a sauce with olive oil and lemon juice to eat with fish. In Slovenia, it is mixed with potatoes or soups, or served with cheese burek, a kind of pastry.
     As a brassica, arugula has some amazing health benefits. It’s an excellent source of fiber, Vitamins A, C, and K, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese. In addition, arugula contains protein, thiamin, riboflavin, Vitamin B6, zinc, copper and pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5), which raises good cholesterol while lowering bad. Arugula scores over 600 on the ANDI, or Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, which puts it in the top 10 nutrient-dense foods available!
     Additionally, arugula’s flavonoids prevent cholesterol from getting stuck in your arteries, lowers blood pressure, increases blood flow, lowers inflammation and improves blood vessel function. Generally, arugula is great for the heart and circulatory system to name just a few health benefits.
     Arugula pairs well with roasted and cured meats, cheese, cream, fruit (pears, apples, berries, citrus, etc), fruity vinegars, mustard, nuts, mushrooms, winter squash and more! It can be used in salads, on sandwiches, included in pasta dishes and much more.  However you use it, arugula is one fall vegetable you don’t want to miss out on.

Arugula Pesto & Apples

Recipe by Andrea Yoder

Yield: 1 ½ cups

2 cloves garlic
¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts
3 cups lightly packed arugula (approximately ½ of a bunch)
2 oz or ½ cup shredded Parmesan
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt & black pepper, to taste

1. Place the garlic cloves and pumpkin seeds or pine nuts in a food processor.  Process briefly, then add the arugula, shredded Parmesan cheese and a few pinches of salt and black pepper.  Turn the processor on again and, while it’s running, pour the olive oil through the feed tube in a thin, steady stream.  Once all of the oil is incorporated, process until it is a moderately thick paste.  Stop the machine and scrape down the sides as needed to make sure all the ingredients are well-incorporated.
2. Taste the pesto and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.  Refrigerate until you are ready to use.  For best flavor and consistency, bring to room temperature before using.  You can store the pesto in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or put it into smaller quantities and freeze it for later use.

     Arugula pesto can be very pungent if you eat it on its own, but when combined with other foods it becomes very balanced and a complementary ingredient.  In addition to using it on a pizza, as is highlighted in this newsletter, you can use arugula pesto in a lot of other ways.  Here are a few ideas to get you started.  1) Stir a spoonful into scrambled eggs or a frittata.  2) Use arugula pesto as a spread on a hot roast beef sandwich along with garlic mayonnaise, sliced roast beef and melted mozzarella cheese.  3) Spice up your morning bagel by spreading the pesto on top of cream cheese on your bagel.  Top it off with fresh tomato slices.  4) Make a baked potato and top it off with sour cream, bacon bits and a few dollops of arugula pesto. 5) Make an omelet or a crepe with stone ground mustard, arugula pesto, slices of ham and gouda cheese.

Pizza with Arugula Pesto, Roasted Butternut Squash & Apples

Recipe by Andrea Yoder
Yield:1 (8-9 inch) pizza
Pizza dough for an 8 to 10 inch pizza
2-3 cups butternut squash, peeled & cut into ½-inch cubes
1 Tbsp sunflower or olive oil
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
3-4 Tbsp arugula pesto (or to taste)
1 medium apple, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3-4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
1. Preheat the oven to 375-400°F.  First, roast the squash.  Put the squash cubes in a medium mixing bowl and drizzle with the olive oil.  Toss to lightly coat the squash, then add the cinnamon and salt. Stir to combine.  Spread the squash in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Place in the oven and roast for about 20-30 minutes.  Stir the squash and then return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes or until it is tender and golden on the outside.  Remove from the oven and set aside.  Note, this step may be done in advance.
2. Prepare the pizza dough.  Press or roll it out into an 8-9 inch round, or larger if you like a thinner crust.  Place the dough on a pizza stone or baking pan.  Parbake the crust in the oven for about 5-7 minutes.  Remove from the oven.
3. Evenly spread arugula pesto on the warm pizza crust, making sure you spread it all the way to the edges.  Next, lay out the apple slices on top of the pesto.  Sprinkle thinly sliced onion on top of the apples.  Spread the roasted butternut squash on top of the onion and finish off the pizza by spreading shredded mozzarella over the entire pizza.
4. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden brown and the crust is baked to your liking.

Vegetable Feature: Sorrel...In the fall?!

20 Oct 2016 15:04

By Laurel Blomquist
     Sorrel is one of those vegetables we generally associate with the arrival of springtime. However, this hearty vegetable has a long growing season, and is perfectly at home brightening up the heavier, richer dishes we are starting to prepare this time of year.
     Sorrel is a perennial herb of the family Polygonaceae, which includes rhubarb and buckwheat. Taste a tiny bit raw and you will soon discover the tart power of sorrel leaves. Combining sorrel with other greens (such as spinach or arugula) or pairing it with rich, fatty foods (such as heavy cream, meat, fish or cheese) is recommended to tone down its strong flavor. The calcium and casein in dairy products neutralize the oxalic acid, the source of the tartness.
     Sorrel contains a lot of Vitamin A, which will lower your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. It also contains Vitamin C, which is great for the immune system. It is high in potassium and magnesium, which can lower your blood pressure and increase blood circulation. Sorrel, especially raw, contains high amounts of folate, an essential vitamin. Folate consumed in food is absorbed better by the body than synthetic supplements. Folate can decrease your chances of getting stomach, colon, pancreatic, cervical and breast cancers.
     Sorrel is popular all over the world and can be found in numerous cuisines. Green Borscht is found in Russian, Ukrainian, Ashkenazi Jewish, Belarusian, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Romanian and Polish cuisines. Along with sorrel, it usually contains whole eggs, potatoes, carrots and parsley root and is topped with sour cream. In Nigeria, sorrel is used in stews along with spinach. In Croatia and Bulgaria, it is used in a traditional eel dish. In Greece and Albania it is paired with spinach and chard for a robust spanikopita. In Belgium, preserved, pureed sorrel is mixed with mashed potatoes and bacon for a hearty winter dish. It is one of many herbs used in Vietnamese cuisine. In India, it is used to make soups or curries with lentils.
     It is easy to see that in many countries, sorrel is used to counter the heavy, rich flavors of fall and winter. So let’s welcome it into our kitchens while we can. Before you know it, we’ll be craving its triumphant return in the spring.

Chicken with Sorrel

Yield: 4 servings
2 Tbsp butter or extra virgin olive oil
1 whole chicken (2 ½ to 3 pounds), cut into serving pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 large or 2 medium onions, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices
6 cups loosely packed sorrel, about ½ pound, trimmed and washed
1. Put butter in large skillet, preferably nonstick, and turn heat to medium-high. When butter begins to melt, swirl it around the pan.  When its foam subsides and it begins to brown, add the chicken, skin side down. Cook, rotating pieces after 3 or 4 minutes so they brown evenly. As they brown on the skin side, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and turn them over; sprinkle skin side with salt and pepper as well. If necessary, lower heat to medium to prevent burning. Remove chicken to a plate when chicken is completely browned all over, in 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Immediately add onions to pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften but still hold their shape, about 5 minutes. Add ½ cup water and cook for a minute, stirring occasionally, until it reduces slightly. Return chicken to pan, turn heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes. Uncover, add sorrel, stir, and cover again.
3. Cook about 10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and sorrel is dissolved into onions and liquid. Serve hot, with rice or crusty bread.

Recipe by Mark Bittman, as featured at NYT Cooking (cooking.nytimes.com)

Sorrel Mashed Potatoes

Yield: 4 servings
Sorrel with Purple Viking Potatoes
1 pound russet or gold potatoes**
4 ounces sorrel (about ½ of a bunch)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup heavy cream
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
**HVF Note:  The purple Viking potatoes in this week’s box are an excellent choice.**
1. Peel the potatoes and steam or boil them until they are tender.
2. Meanwhile, wash the sorrel and cut the leaves into thin strips, using a stainless steel knife. Heat the butter in a frying pan and add the sorrel. Stir over low heat for a couple of minutes, until it has wilted. Add the cream and heat through.
3. Mash the potatoes. Stir in the sorrel puree and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Recipe by Moira Hodgson & featured at NYT Cooking (cooking.nytimes.com)

Brassicas to Fight Cancer

20 Oct 2016 14:59

Baby Bok Choi
By Laurel Blomquist
     Welcome to another article in the anti-cancer series. This anti-cancer diet also combats neurological, immunological, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, as well as the process of aging. It’s pretty amazing that we can heal ourselves by making healthy food choices. Today we’re going to dive into the brassica family, commonly known as cole crops. Except where noted, all references are from Foods to Fight Cancer.
     The Brassica Family is one of the most represented on any CSA Farm, and with good reason. This large family includes broccoli, cauliflower, romanesco, broccoli raab, kales, collards, arugula, radishes, turnips, rutabaga, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, mustards and bok choy to name a few. Cabbage is probably the oldest cultivated vegetable, dating to at least 6,000 years ago (p. 69). Ancient peoples must have indeed revered it, because most of the varieties we eat have been cultivated through selective breeding from one species of wild cabbage. Hippocrates,circa 400 BC, called it “the vegetable of a thousand virtues” (p. 71). Marcus Porcius Cato, circa 200 BC, held cabbage as a universal remedy against sickness and a virtual fountain of youth. He wrote in De Agri Cultura, On Farming, “Eaten raw with vinegar, or cooked in oil or other fat, cabbage gets rid of all and heals all.” (p. 72).  He recommended cabbage for hangovers, and even used it as a poultice to treat cancerous ulcers. 
     Modern medicine has proven time and again that brassicas have a preventative effect on cancers of the bladder, breast, lung, stomach, colon, rectum, and prostate (p. 72). Brassicas contain the largest variety of phytochemical compounds with anticancer activity. Just what makes them so powerful?
     One such molecule is called a glucosinolate. You have probably tasted them without knowing it; they are responsible for the slightly bitter or pungent flavor that these vegetables tend to have. Glucosinolates are stored in the molecules of a brassica vegetable until it is chewed, chopped or cooked. As the cell walls break down, glucosinolates mix with myrosinase, an enzyme. Upon mixing with the enzyme, glucosinolates are converted to isothiocyanates. These molecules are what fight cancer directly (p. 73). In broccoli, for example, the isothiocyanate is called sulforaphane. This sulfur molecule is what you smell when you overcook broccoli. 
     In order to get the full benefit of the isothiocyanates, there are a few things to keep in mind. Glucosinolates are very soluble in water, and myrosinase is sensitive to heat. The authors suggest that briefly steaming brassicas, stir frying or eating them raw are the best ways to preserve these compounds, as opposed to boiling (p. 74). Of course, these methods will also preserve the bright green (or red) color of the vegetable and have the added bonus of tasting better. The practice of blanching and freezing brassicas as a way of preserving them is actually not recommended if you want to retain these beneficial molecules. Because of the heat and amount of water involved with this process, the amount of bioavailable glucosinolates is reduced and the myrosinase enzyme is denatured. If you absolutely must boil your broccoli, I would recommend a soup as the soup base may retain more of the benefits. 
     Different glucosinolates are found in different brassicas, producing different isothiocyanates which have varying amounts of anti-cancer properties. Sulforaphane in broccoli is one of the most powerful. One serving of broccoli contains about 60 mg of sulforaphane, and one serving of broccoli sprouts contains 600 mg (p. 75)! Personally, I started making my own broccoli sprouts, from organic seed, of course, and adding them to my daily salad when I learned this information. Sprouts are very easy to make in your kitchen, and a nice addition to your winter menu when fresh, local broccoli is not available. 
     Sulforaphane increases your body’s ability to remove toxins linked to cancer. This reduces the occurrence, number, and size of tumors. Sulforaphane also directly attacks cancerous cells, triggering apoptosis, or cell death (p. 75). Sulforaphane also has antibiotic and antibacterial properties, particularly against Helicobacter pylori, which causes gastric ulcers. Exposure to this bacteria and resulting ulcers will increase your chances of stomach cancer 3-6 times over (p. 76).
     Of course, broccoli is hardly the only brassica with beneficial molecules. Watercress and Chinese cabbage contain phenethyl isothiocyanate, or PEITC, which protects against esophageal, stomach, colon, and lung cancers. PEITC also directly attacks leukemia, colon, and prostate tumors through apoptosis (p. 76).
     Brussels sprouts and our hero broccoli also contain indole-3-carbinol, or I3C. Actually, most brassicas contain at least some I3C, but these two have it in the largest amounts. I3C causes modifications in estradiol, which in turn reduces the ability of estrogen to promote cell growth in the breast, cervix, and uterus, thereby preventing cancer in those tissues (p. 77).
Baby Kale Mix
     We should not forget about kale and collards, which have had a popularity resurgence in recent years. Kale production rose 60% between 2007 and 2012 according to the USDA (Martin), and collards are picking up the slack, since demand for kale has overtaken supply (Krogh). In addition to containing beneficial isothiocyanates, they are good sources of iron, folic acid and Vitamins A and C. 
     The doctors recommend 3-4 weekly servings of brassicas to reap their medicinal benefits. Harmony Valley Farm has done our part this season (and every season) to make sure you are getting your RDA of brassicas. So far this season, you have received brassicas every week except one, and sometimes received 4 varieties in one week! You have received sauté mix, baby arugula and baby kale, watercress, hon tsai tai, kohlrabi, baby bok choi, cauliflower, cabbage, baby white turnips, bunched kale, green top spring radishes and broccoli no less than 9 times, possibly more if you got it as a bonus item. In total, we’ve delivered 53 brassica selections over the course of the past 25 weeks, most of which amount to 3-4 servings each, and the season’s not over yet! Frost doesn’t stop brassicas, in fact it sweetens them, so we can enjoy these all the way to the end of the growing season. To your health!
Beliveau, Richard, and Denis Gingras. Foods to Fight Cancer. 2007
Krogh, Josie. “Popularity of Collards Reaching Beyond the South.” jacksonprogress-argus.com. April 19, 2015. 
Martin, Andrew. “Boom Times for Farmers in the United States of Kale.” Bloomberg.com. May 9, 2014. 

The Monsanto Tribunal: October 14-16, 2016

13 Oct 2016 15:03

Photo Borrowed from the Monsanto Tribunal Website
By Andrea Yoder
     This weekend an important international event will take place in the Netherlands, it’s called The Monsanto Tribunal. “The Monsanto Tribunal is an international civil society initiative to hold Monsanto accountable for human rights violations, for crimes against humanity, and for ecocide. Eminent judges will hear testimonies from victims, and deliver an advisory opinion following procedures of the International Court of Justice.” The Tribunal will be held at The Hague in the Netherlands and from October 14-16 individuals from all over the world will gather with the goal of exposing Monsanto, the US based company responsible for producing GMO seeds as well as toxic agrochemicals. Monsanto’s products, which include PCB’s, 2-4-5 T (a dioxin that was part of Agent Orange), and RoundUp (which contains glysophate), have brought direct harm to many farmers and communities across the world causing irreversible damage to human health and our environment. As is stated on the website for the Tribunal, “Monsanto promotes an agroindustrial model that contributes at least one third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions; it is also largely responsible for the depletion of soil and water resources, species extinction and declining biodiversity, and the displacement of millions of small farmers worldwide. This is a model that threatens peoples’ food sovereignty by patenting seeds and privatizing life.”
     How has Monsanto gained such an upper hand in our agriculture and food systems to the detriment of our own health?  They are tricky and have managed to intertwine themselves by strategically influencing lobbying regulatory agencies and governments, by financing biased and fraudulent scientific studies which produce results in their favor, but not results that are meaningful or reliable and by manipulating independent scientists as well as the press and media through lies and corruption. “The history of Monsanto would thereby constitute a text-book case of impunity, benefiting transnational corporations and their executives, whose activities contribute to climate and biosphere crises and threaten the safety of the planet.”
     A citizen’s tribunal is a community-led, court-like litigation event that is conducted according to the laws and standards applied to legal proceedings of a similar nature. While this tribunal will not have the power to result in binding legal decisions or to bring justice through their verdicts, the judges hearing the cases presented will use their expertise to deliver a written verdict of guilt or innocence which will serve as a platform for future legal cases. The tribunal “aims to assess these allegations made against Monsanto, and to evaluate the damages caused by this transnational company. The Tribunal will rely on the ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ adopted at the UN in 2011. It will also assess potential criminal liability on the basis of the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2002. The Tribunal shall also assess the conduct of Monsanto as regards the crime of ecocide, which it has been proposed to include in international criminal law. It shall examine whether the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court in force since 2002 should be reformed, in order to include the crime of ecocide and to allow for the prosecution of individual and legal entities suspected of having committed this crime.”
     While Monsanto and other biotech companies want us to believe their “advances” in technology will help us “feed the world” and benefit society, their motives are actually to gain power and control over our food supply with the end goal of increasing their profits. Political decisions have been based on biased research meant to “slide” things through regulatory agencies. Products have been released into the market without proper evaluation of their safety and all of us, without consent, have been part of the largest human health study ever conducted. Their chemicals are irreversibly changing our landscape. We now have to worry about chemical drift and genetics from altered plants and animals spreading into non-GMO species; and there’s no turning back. Novel proteins are in our food supply and are causing a myriad of devastating health problems. Farmers’ health and livelihoods have been destroyed, children have been born with birth defects, farmers in India and around the world are committing suicide because they see no other way out of this tangled web of deception they’ve been drawn into.
     The tribunal has been organized by a steering committee of individuals who, in a variety of ways, have been instrumental in protecting people and the environment against the harmful effects of biotechnology. Some come from a legal background while others have been involved in scientific research, human rights defense, environmental protection and more. The full list of indivduals as well as more thorough background information about The Monsanto Tribunal and the five judges who will be delivering the verdict may be found at the official website: monsantotribunal.org. The proceedings of the Tribunal may be viewed at this website as well and will be streamed live once the proceedings are underway. The court will hand down its decision in December 2016.
     This is an important event and, while Monsanto is the example, they are not the only biotech company responsible for these allegations. We’ll be reporting more information about the Tribunal as it becomes available, but we also encourage each of you to take a look at the tribunal website and educate yourselves on the background behind and potential impact of this important event: monsantotribunal.org.

Vegetable Feature: Radishes

13 Oct 2016 15:03

Bunched Red Radishes
By Chef Andrea
     Radishes are one of the oldest cultivated plant foods. There are two classifications of radishes--”Table” or “Spring” radishes and “Storage” radishes. Table radishes are one of the first crops we plant in the spring, with harvest just 4 to 6 weeks later. Green top red and French breakfast radishes are the two varieties we grow. They are tender with a thin skin and are meant to be eaten within a week or so after they are harvested. We actually plant them all throughout the summer and into the early part of the fall. 

     The other type of radishes we grow are storage radishes which include daikon, Black Spanish and beauty heart radishes.  Winter radishes are more sturdy, with a longer growing season, thicker skin and more dense flesh and they store very well. You’ll be receiving some of these varieties in some of the last boxes of the season.

Black Spanish Radish
     Radishes are eaten extensively worldwide. Often they are pickled, cured, dried or fermented to preserve them. Historical reports date back to 2000 BC where radishes are thought to have been included in the daily ration, along with onions and garlic, for the people building the Egyptian pyramids. With a history like this, there has to be something good for us in a radish! Radishes are a good source of vitamins A, C and B6 as well as magnesium, calcium and potassium. In traditional Chinese medicine, radishes are used to promote digestion, break down mucus, soothe headaches and heal laryngitis. They are beneficial in helping to cleanse and detoxify the body and it is thought that they help prevent viral infections, such as colds and the flu, when consumed regularly. 

Beauty Heart Radish
     Radishes may be eaten raw, pickled, cured and also may be cooked. When cooked, either sauteed, stir-fried, braised or roasted, radishes lose their peppery flavor and become mild and slightly sweet in flavor. If you are one that shies away from radishes because you are still learning to like their peppery bite, consider cooking them. Don’t forget to eat the radish greens as well as they are packed full of nutrients! Radish greens may be added to stir-fries, simply sautéed alone or with other greens and dressed with salt and a splash of vinegar. They are often incorporated into soups and can also be eaten raw in salads. Quick pickled radishes make a nice condiment to enjoy on tacos, alongside grain dishes, lentils, beans or layered onto a sandwich.
     We hope you will look at radishes with a new set of eyes and take advantage of all they have to offer to your diet and your health.

Dal with Radish Raita

Yield: 6-8 servings
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter or ghee
2 ½ cups chopped onions 
1 ½ cups diced carrots 
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
½ tsp ground cayenne
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
6 cups water
2 cups canned tomatoes
1 ½ cups packed chopped spinach or other greens (chard, radish tops, kale, etc)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice 
French Breakfast Radish
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (½ lemon)
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
3 radishes, finely grated
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
1. For the dal: Melt the olive oil and butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the carrots, salt, ginger, cayenne, cumin, turmeric, lentils, and ½ cup of the water and cook, stirring often, for another 5 to 7 minutes. Add the rest of the water and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pot, squeezing them with your hands to crush them. Continue to cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are cooked and the soup is thick, 30 to 45 minutes. Stir in the spinach or other greens and lemon, remove from heat, and add salt to taste.

2. While the soup cooks, make the raita: Stir together the yogurt, lemon, olive oil, salt, radishes, and mint in a small bowl. Serve the soup with a dollop of raita in each bowl.
Recipe borrowed from Alana Chernila’s book, The Homemade Kitchen.

Radish Top Pasta with Chickpeas & Parsley

Yield: 3-4 servings
6 oz fettucine pasta
3 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, small diced
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt plus more to taste
1 ½ Tbsp stoneground mustard
½ cup dry sherry
Radish greens from 1 bunch radishes, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 cups spinach or other greens, cut into bite-sized pieces (Kale, Chard, etc)
1 cup small diced spring radishes
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
1 cup cooked chickpeas
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Parmesan or other hard cheese, for serving
1. First, cook the pasta.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until the pasta is al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta. Set aside the reserved pasta water and the pasta until ready to use.
2. Melt butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat.  When hot, add onion and garlic and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent.  
3. Stir in 1 tsp salt and the mustard.  Stir to combine, then add the dry sherry.  Simmer for about 2 minutes, then add the radish greens and spinach or other greens.  Cover and continue to simmer for a few minutes, just until the greens are wilted.
4. Remove the cover and add the diced radishes, parsley and chickpeas.  Stir to combine and then add the pasta to the pan.  Bring everything to a simmer and then add about ½ cup of pasta water to the pan.  Allow the mixture to simmer for a few minutes to ensure everything is heated through. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking with salt and black pepper.  Add additional pasta cooking water as needed to adjust the consistency of the sauce to your liking.
5. Serve warm, topped with freshly grated Parmesan or other cheese of your liking.
Recipe by:  Andrea Yoder

Harmony Valley Farm Meat Clubs

6 Oct 2016 16:43

     We are focusing our blog on sharing with you the different aspects of the meats we offer through our CSA – from how it is raised to how to best cook our certified organic, 100% grass-fed Angus beef and organic pastured pork. So what’s the best way to get some of this delicious meat into your freezer at home?
     Let us introduce you to our Meat Clubs! No worries, there is no password or secret hand shake to this club – all are welcome equally. So what are these meat club shares that we are so excited about? Our meat club shares allow individuals to sign up for multiple 15 or 25 pound meat packages to be delivered throughout the year. With the meat club you are able to sign-up for these deliveries with one easy purchase and at a discounted price! We deliver our meat shares three times a year: May, November and December. You can choose to start whenever it is convenient for you! The packages will contain either all beef (May) or a mix of beef and pork (November & December). 

     Why sign-up for our Meat Club? There are plenty of reasons! Here are a few that we think are worth highlighting:

  1.  Save money - When you order up front, you’ll save money versus buying individual packages before each month’s delivery.
  2. Order once and be good to go for the year – No need to pay attention to deadlines for sign-up. You’ll be scheduled across a whole year so you can sit back and relax
  3. These shares were designed to better meet the needs of smaller households or for those with limited freezer space - 15 pounds takes up very little space in your freezer but it will always be stocked with freshly frozen meat.
  4. You can spread your payments out over 6 months when you sign up for our meat club.

     So now that you know all the reasons why the meat clubs are a great option, what comes with each of these deliveries? We have preselected different meat packages for each meat club option. Below is a list of the different packages for each club and their delivery month (The descriptions of these different packages can be found here.)
3 Delivery Meat Club (15 pounds each delivery - 45 pounds total):
May: All-Beef Mixed Pack
November: Beef and Pork Variety Pack
December: Beef and Pork Family Pack

3 Delivery Meat Club (25 pounds each delivery - 75 pounds total):
May: All-Beef Mixed Pack
November: Beef and Pork Family Pack
December: Beef and Pork Variety Pack

     We sometimes hear people voice concerns about their freezer space when it comes to the different meat packages. We’re here to ease any of those worries! Take a look below – You’ll first see a freezer that has a 15-pound meat share in it. The 15-pound share fits in a 10”(L) x 10”(H) x 14”(depth) space. In addition to that, we also wanted to share a picture of a 25-pound meat share. This share took up 16”(L) x 10”(H) x 14”(Depth). These pictures are in our very own standard freezer in the kitchen. We hope that if the size of these various meat packages seemed intimidating at first, you now feel like you can confidently order and know your freezer will suit you just fine!
 Here we have a 15 pound Beef and Pork Variety Pack (contents may vary):
 1 pkg of T-bone or Rib Steaks (2 steaks per pkg)
1 pkg Beef Sirloin Steak (1 steak per pkg)
1 Beef Chuck Roast
2 pounds Ground Beef
3 pkg Pork Chops (2 chops per pkg)
2 pounds Ground Pork
3 Pkgs Bacon
Here we have a 25-pound Beef and Pork Variety Pack (contents may vary):
1 T-bone Steak (2 steaks per pkg)
1 Beef Sirloin Steak (2 steaks per pkg)
1 Beef Chuck Roast
1 Package Beef Stew Meat
4 pounds Ground Beef
3 pkgs Pork Chops (2 chops per pkg)
3 pounds Ground Pork
3 pkgs Bacon
1 Fresh Ham Roast
     In addition to our meat clubs, we also offer the option sign up for one-time deliveries. We have several different packages to choose from. Like our meat clubs, you can sign-up now for a delivery in November, December and/or May.

To sign up for either our meat club or an individual delivery, find our Meat Order Form Here.

What To Consider When Cooking Grass-fed Beef

6 Oct 2016 16:40

The way in which animals are managed and raised does directly impact the qualities and characteristics of meat.  It is important to realize this because it will directly affect how you cook your meat to get the best quality end product.  Grass-fed beef from animals that have led stress-free lives grazing on pastures tends to be more lean and flavorful when compared to conventionally raised, grain-fed beef.  If you are accustomed to cooking conventional, grain-fed beef, or have had less than delicious results cooking or eating grass-fed meat previously, there are a few things to consider that might make a difference in your end result.

The first thing to remember, and possibly the most important, is do not overcook the meat!! Grass-fed beef is more lean and has less marbling than grain-fed beef.  Since fat is an insulator, and grass-fed meat is so lean, it will cook faster than grain-fed meat and may be less forgiving without the fat to cover up a little bit of overcooked meat.  When you are reading recipes, take the guidelines for how long to cook a piece of meat with a grain of salt.  The time it takes to cook a piece of meat will depend on other variables including the size and thickness of the piece.  There are other ways to test the doneness of a piece of meat as well.  One way is to test the doneness of some pieces of meat, such as a chuck roast or stew meat, to see if it is “fork tender.” When a fork is inserted into the piece of meat, the meat should slide off the fork easily.  If it does, the meat is done.  If the fork doesn’t come out easily, the meat needs to cook longer.  Other ways to judge the doneness of meat include touch and temperature.  Learning to judge the doneness of meat by touch takes practice and time to master.  If you’ve ever wondered why chefs are always poking meat on a grill, it’s because they are feeling the resistance the piece of meat gives to touch.  The more the meat is cooked, the more firm the meat will feel.  This is something you will just have to practice and master over time. 
Checking the internal temperature of a piece of meat while it is cooking is a more reliable way to monitor the degree of doneness.  The USDA recommends cooking beef to a final internal temperature of 140-170° F, however most chefs would recommend a range of 120°F for rare meat and an upper range of 165°F for well-done meat.  You can use a simple meat thermometer or meat probe to test the internal temperature.  Insert the thermometer into a thicker, more centrally located place on the piece of meat.  If the piece you are testing contains a bone, make sure the thermometer is inserted away from the bone.  Also, remember that meat continues to cook even after you remove it from the heat source.  This is called carry-over cooking.  Don’t forget to take this into account when you are cooking and remove the meat from the heat before it reaches your final desired temperature.  Smaller pieces of meat, such as a rib steak, will continue to carry-over cook for about 5 to 10 minutes and the temperature can increase another 5 degrees.  If you are cooking a larger piece of meat such as a roast, the meat can continue to cook for an additional 15-30 minutes after being removed from the heat source.  The temperature of a larger piece of meat can rise as much as an additional 10-15 degrees. 
The next thing to remember is that you control the flame.  What I mean is that you have control of the temperature at which you are cooking your meat.  Remember, grass-fed meat doesn’t have as much fat to insulate it so it will cook more quickly.  If you are cooking grass-fed beef over a high temperature, you can cook the meat too quickly and cook the moisture and fat right out of the meat, making it dry and tough.  
Another important factor is to choose the correct cooking method for the cut of meat you are preparing.  Cuts of meat that come from a part of the animal that is used and exercised more will be tougher.  To tenderize these cuts you should use a moist heat cooking method which will use a longer cooking time and added moisture or liquid to help tenderize the meat. 

  • Moist Heat cooking methods include braising, stewing, boiling or cooking in a crock-pot. 
  • Tougher cuts of beef include the following:  Chuck Roast, Arm Roast, Rump Roast, Round Steak, Stew Meat and Short Ribs.

Cuts of meat that come from muscles of the animal that are not as active will be more tender.  These cuts of meat can be prepared using dry-heat cooking methods

  • Dry Heat Cooking methods include grilling, sautéeing, roasting, broiling, stir-frying, pan-frying, and deep-frying. 
  • More tendercuts of beef include the following:  Rib Steak, T-bone Steak, Sirloin Steak, Sirloin Tip, Flank Steak and Skirt Steak. 

Finally, lets talk about flavor.  Yes, it will ultimately come down to a matter of personal preference.  Grass-fed beef has been described as having more of a juicy, rich, robust “beefy flavor” in comparison to grain-fed meat.  The flavor of grass-fed meat has also been described as “clean” in comparison to grain-fed meat.  The higher fat content and marbling in grain-fed meat may leave more of a coating in your mouth and an after-taste that you won’t experience with grass-fed meat, which may be why some people describe the flavor as “clean.”  Animals that are grass-fed have a distinctive, sufficient flavor that can stand on its own without a lot of additional seasonings and sauces.  Let the natural flavor of the meat stand out by using simple salt & pepper seasonings or simple herb rubs for starters.   For braised dishes such as pot roast, the flavor of the meat will be infused into the cooking liquid creating a flavorful rich stock or sauce.  As you begin to experience the flavors of grass-fed beef, we encourage you to keep it simple so the true flavor of the meat comes out and you can taste the difference for yourself.

This video clip from The New York Times and Mark Bittman discusses and shows you some of the differences between cooking with grass-fed and grain-fed beef. This video does a great job of  highlighting some of the differences that we have mentioned in this post.

There are a lot of resources available to guide you in your endeavors to cook grass-fed beef.  One of our favorites is Shannon Hayes’ book called The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook.  You can also check out her blog, The Radical Homemaker.  She offers a lot of really simple, down-to-earth and resourceful ways to successfully prepare grass-fed beef. 

What To Consider When Cooking Pastured Pork

6 Oct 2016 16:40

     Just as with other animals and food crops, the way in which an animal is raised is directly related to how the meat tastes when it gets to your plate.  Our pigs are very active and eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and roots in addition to their organic grain.  As a result, the meat they produce is often darker in color with a rosy hue and is very flavorful.   If you are accustomed to eating conventionally raised pork, you will notice a difference in not only the appearance and flavors of certified organic pastured pork, but also in the way it cooks.  Here are a few things to consider when cooking Certified Organic Pastured Pork.
Tip number one...Don’t overcook the meat!
      Pastured pork is very flavorful and juicy, but you can easily overcook it by using too high of heat or cooking it for too long.  Don’t forget that meat continues to cook with the residual heat held within it even after you remove it from the heat source.  If you think your pork is not quite done, remove it from the heat right then.  By the time it finishes cooking it will likely be perfect.  Checking the internal temperature of the meat is a good way to gauge the degree of doneness so you know when to take it off the heat.  The USDA recommends cooking pork to an internal temperature of 170°F, but that will likely result in a very dry piece of meat.  A range of 145-165°F will give you a juicier, more tender piece of meat. 
Tip Number Two…Choose an appropriate cooking method!
     The second important thing to keep in mind is to make sure you are using the right cooking method for the cut of meat you are preparing.  There are two main cooking methods, moist heat cooking and dry heat cooking.  
     Cuts of meat that come from a part of the animal that is used and exercised more will be tougher and may have more intramuscular connective tissue and gelatin.  To tenderize these cuts, you should use a moist heat cooking method which will use a longer cooking time and lower temperature with added moisture or liquid to help tenderize the meat.   As the meat cooks, the connective tissue and gelatin in the meat will melt down making the meat tender, moist and very delicious. 

  • Moist heat cooking methods include: braising, stewing, boiling or cooking in a crock-pot. 

  • Cuts of pork that are most appropriate to use with this cooking method include:Pork Shoulder (Roast or Steak), Country Style Short Ribs, Spare Ribs, Ham and Pork Hocks.

     Cuts of meat that come from muscles of the animal that are not as active will be more tender.  These cuts of meat can be cooked for shorter periods of time at higher temperatures. 

  • Dry heat cooking methods include: grilling, sautéeing, roasting, broiling, stir-frying, pan-frying and deep-frying. 

  • Cuts of pork that are most appropriate to use with this cooking method include: pork chops, pork tenderloin, bacon and ham.

Tip Number Three….Let the meat speak for itself
     Don’t forget that pastured pork is very flavorful, so let that flavor work in your favor.  Use simple seasonings, herb and spice rubs or just a little salt and pepper to season the meat.  Simple marinades and sauces are nice accompaniments to pastured pork as well.  Whenever possible, make the sauce in the pan that the pork was cooked in, or cook the pork in the sauce or braising liquid.  The flavors of the pork will seep into the sauce adding a fuller pork flavor to the sauce.

HVF Practices for our Certifed Organic, 100% Grass-Fed Red Angus

6 Oct 2016 16:39

As you can see by looking at our cattle, they are happy and healthy inside and out.  We have chosen to raise our cattle in a certified organic, 100% grass-fed production system, which is much different than industrial meat production and other conventional practices. We would like to highlight a few differences that we feel are most important for you to understand when you are making the choice to purchase meat in the future.
We want to start off with the pasture grasses since they are the main food source for our cattle.  We take great care to make sure our pasture has a good mix of grasses and legumes. Since we have plenty of grasses already in the pasture, each spring we use a practice called frost seeding to plant more legumes (usually red clover for us). Frost seeding is putting the seed on top of the pastures, usually during March, on days that alternate between freezing at night and thawing during the day. Along with the spring rains, this helps the seed make its way into the soil surface. Frost seeding offers several potential advantages, including the ability to establish forage in undisturbed sod, a reduced need for labor and energy compared to conventional seeding methods, and the ability to establish forages with minimum equipment investment.  Once the pastures take off and start growing in the spring, the cattle are anxious to start grazing. It’s important, both for the health of the animals and the pastures, to manage their grazing. We do this by dividing the pasture into smaller sections called paddocks. We rotate our cattle from paddock to paddock every five days to make sure they are getting the best of what each has to offer and adequately grazing the grass in that area so it will regrow. Sometimes we over-winter animals as well. Since our cattle are 100% grass-fed, you might be wondering what they eat when the hillsides are covered with snow. Over the course of the summer, we harvest alfalfa as well as premium pasture grasses, which sometimes are in abundance compared to the amount our small herd can eat. We bale the grass and alfalfa and store it in the barn to feed during the winter.
But what about those pesky weeds that pop up in our pastures? We mow our lush pastures when we can to either harvest the grasses or to manage the weeds. Sometimes we have to hand-dig some of those stubborn weeds. There is a newer bad boy invasive species in town, and its name is the multiflora rose. Our animals will eat off the new young shoots to prevent any more spread, but even so it can get out of hand quickly.  The other alternative that conventional farms use is to spray herbicide directly onto their pastures, weeds and grasses included. This creates a residue that stays on the good grasses and seeps into the soil. Then you also have the run-off that occurs from these chemicals when it rains and washes into area waterways. So with a little extra effort, and sometimes ‘elbow grease’, we can control the weeds without contaminating the environment or our animals’ food source.
One of the concerns with raising beef cattle is managing internal parasites. In a conventional system animals are treated with something calledanthelmintic products. Most of the products used are either avermectins/ milbemycins (ivermectin, dormectin, eprinomectin, and moxidectin) or benzimidazoles (oxfendazole, albendazole, fendbendazole), (from UW Extention Cooperative).  If you are like us, you are having a hard time even trying to pronounce those chemicals. The chemical residue is then absorbed into the animal and accumulates in the organs and fat to combat the parasites. Then what happens to the chemicals? You guessed it - they work their way through the animal and are deposited into the pastures and thus passed through to the pasture environment. We rotate our animals to different paddocks every 5 days and they do not return to a paddock again for at least a month. Because of this, we actually ‘break’ the life cycle of the internal parasites. We also use Diatomaceous Earth (DE) to help kill off those pesky buggers.  We have the DE mixed with the very desirable kelp meal, Redmond trace minerals salt and a drizzle of organic molasses that we offer as a free choice ration, which they love.  The DE and minerals move through the animal and get deposited in random plops throughout the pasture. This is one way we utilize our pasture and it also helps prevents fly larvae from hatching. 
Our animals stay very healthy in our pastures and are never confined or crowded.  This helps to avoid any other health problems that may naturally occur. In confinement operations, disease can spread easily since the animal population is so dense. Because of this, conventionally raised animals are routinely fed antibiotics in their feed, mineral blocks or are given routine injections. This overuse has caused antibiotic resistant bacteria, such as E. coli 0157. While antibiotic use is prohibited in organic animal production, we would use an antibiotic to save a life or prevent suffering in any of our animals. If an antibiotic were to be used, we would sell that animal on the conventional market as it would no longer be certified organic. 
Mineral Feeder
What about flies – we all despise those little buggers too!  But they can cause great hardship and pain to cattle.  If not controlled, they can create and spread Pink-eye to the animals.  So how do we control the flies you ask?  Good question!  We make a mixture of Organic Citronella and Organic Sunflower oil and put it on strips in front of the mineral feeder. When the cattle go into the feeder for minerals, the oil mixture is then distributed to their faces and repels the flies.  This has been wonderfully effective for our cattle and we have not had any problems since we implemented this system.  The alternative would be to use either a dust bag or Cattle Rub containing insecticides to treat the animals.  Some insecticides used include Methoxychlor, Pyrethroids or Imaden, Permectrin Dust or Rabon Dust. Those chemicals are absorbed into the animal’s skin and through the air they breathe. The insecticides are then passed though the animal and into the manure and pasture environment. This is not allowed in organic production.
Now we move to the back end of the cow.  We have already touched on a few things that move through the cattle’s system, hence the reason we don’t give them those bad things we call contaminants.  Because our cattle eat the luscious grass and legumes in our paddocks, those little patty plops are great fertilizer for our pastures.  Because we rotationally graze our animals, we make sure to get a wide spread of ‘cow pies’ throughout the entire pasture area.  Some of you might think it’s not so good to have those, I agree you don’t want to step in them, but because our animals are spread out in the paddocks, we don’t have to ‘find a place’ for all that concentrated manure in one spot. Our manure stays in the paddocks and increases the pasture fertility. This means no hauling, no fossil fuel use and no disposal problems. On the conventional feedlots or non-pastured cattle, with so many animals crowded in one spot, and the average beef cow producing 10 tons of manure a year, that can spell (or smell) trouble.  All of that manure has to go somewhere! Where it goes varies from feedlot to feedlot, but they have to find places to dispose of what really ends up as a liability instead of a valuable asset.
When purchasing meat from our farm, you can rest assured that our animals are well taken care of. We encourage you to visit our farm and see for yourself.  If you have questions about our animal practices, make sure you ask your farmers.  We are here to help further aid you in making an informed choice, one that you feel is best for you and your family. If our meat is a part of that choice, we are happy to be your farm!

Meet Our Pigs

6 Oct 2016 16:37

     We have always enjoyed having animals on our farm, both for the ambiance they add to the farm as well as the multiple purposes they serve.  But then there is just the sheer enjoyment of watching their behaviors.  If you were to take a moment to observe our pigs, you would quickly learn that their days are not so rough, they are very happy and content creatures and quite entertaining as well.  So just what exactly do our pigs do all day?  More than you would think!  They are very busy creatures, or at least they appear so!!!

Pigs in a wallow
     Their day starts out once the sun is up.  They don’t rise and shine quite like the chickens that share their pastures, there’s a little more grunting involved.  Once they’re up and moving, they wait for breakfast, which is their modest morning ration of organic barley, corn, oats, flax meal and a mineral mix.  They get just enough to take the edge off and give them some energy to go exploring.  Seldom do you see them at “home” during the day.  There is far too much excitement up on the hillsides.  They busy themselves rooting around their 20 acre wooded hillside and pasture, exploring every nook and cranny to see what treat they can find.  Eating a bite here, a dug up root there.  They look like they enjoy it and they are just doing what pigs are naturally inclined to do—root around and use their snout to dig up underground treasures!   These days they make a special effort to check the hundreds of wild apple trees and berry bushes every day to find fallen fruit.  They also like to check their favorite nut trees for acorns or hickory nuts, but once they’ve had their fill of roaming around, it’s time to work in a nap.  Depending on the weather, they nap in their straw-lined huts or in the shade of trees when the sun is shining.  They like to make dirt “wallows” to lay in and cool off when it is really hot.  If you look at their pasture, you might think it looks a bit like a “pig sty.”  Don’t hold this against them, it all goes along with their natural behaviors!  Muddy patches and some uneven, dug up ground is just the way they like it!
Running to the their culled vegetables!
     While we seldom hear our cows “moo,” you can often hear a myriad of sounds coming from the pigs.  Squeals, grunts, snoring, snorting…these are all very common sounds for pigs to make.  The time of day when you’ll hear them squeal the loudest is when they hear the skidsteer making its way to their pasture with culled vegetables from the packing shed.  They aren’t shy either, they’ll throw themselves right into the pile…literally!   They are very good vegetable eaters, eating most any green or root crop, but it is clear that they do have favorites, like melons, tomatoes and carrots.  (Check out the pictures!)  They don’t seem to mind if the vegetables aren’t perfect, as long as they are organic.  They are just a plain “riot” to watch, especially when they have pink lips after eating beets!  

     Just as with other animals and food crops, the way in which an animal is raised is directly related to how the meat tastes when it gets to your plate.  Our pigs are very active and eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and roots in addition to their organic grain.  As a result, the meat they produce is often darker in color with a rosy hue and is very flavorful.

     When purchasing meat from our farm, you can rest assured that our animals are well taken care of. We encourage you to visit our farm and see for yourself.  If you have questions about our animal practices, make sure you ask your farmers.  We are here to help further aid you in making an informed choice, one that you feel is best for you and your family. If our meat is a part of that choice, we are happy to be your farm!

Featuring: Winter Squash

6 Oct 2016 15:22

By Chef Andrea
     Fall is definitely in the air, and it’s time to get serious about winter squash!  Our winter squash seemed to ripen a little early this year which, in retrospect, was a good thing! We are very thankful to have been able to harvest all our squash before the big rains came our way. Unfortunately, we had to finish the harvest in between rains which may be part of the reason this year’s crop is a bit more delicate. Field conditions are directly related to the storage potential of a crop. Wet years in our valley generally lend themselves to producing squash that doesn’t store quite as well as those grown in a dry year. We’ve already seen some squash starting to get spots on the exterior…usually it’s the sweetest squash that go the fastest. We’ve been monitoring them diligently since harvest and have already sorted through them several times to remove ones showing signs of deterioration. If you feel like we’ve delivered more squash this year than we normally do by this point in the season, well, you’re right. We know this year’s crop is not going to store as well, and we need your help in taking care of it to make sure we all get to enjoy as many of these delicious squash as possible. It’s easier for you to keep your eye on a handful of squash than it is for us to monitor thousands of them.

Front: Orange Kabocha Squash / Rear: Butternut Squash
     This week’s selections include two of our favorite varieties, orange kabocha and butternut squash. Orange kabocha squash have a deep orange colored flesh that is rich and sweet when cooked. Honestly, my favorite way to eat this squash is to just cook the flesh, puree it and eat it warmed with butter, salt and pepper. However, this squash is also delicious when used to make soups, curry dishes and baked goods, to name a few.
     The other squash variety this week is butternut, but not just any butternut. This week we’re delivering two of our sweetest butternut varieties, honeynut butternuts and butterscotch butternuts. The honeynut butternuts are dark brown in color while the butterscotch ones are the typical tan butternut color. Both varieties have been developed to be small, personal sized squash that boast sweet, delicious flesh.
     The ideal temperature for storing squash is between 45 and 55°F. This is a bit more chilly than most of your homes, so know that it’s ok to store them on your kitchen counter at a warmer temperature as long as you keep your eye on them. You do not want to store squash in the refrigerator or in an uninsulated garage where the temperatures could dip below 45°F once winter sets in. At temperatures less than 45°F squash is vulnerable to chill injury. I keep telling you to “keep your eye on the squash.”  But what are you looking for?! If you notice any sort of a spot starting to form or any signs of deterioration, you need to intervene immediately. A small spot doesn’t mean the squash is bad or needs to be composted, rather it means you need to eat it right away! Just cut away the bad spot and use the rest. If you leave it unattended, the spot will continue to grow and consume your squash….which is what we do not want to happen! Even if you are not quite ready to eat the squash, I encourage you to cook it anyway. Winter squash is a great vegetable to cook in advance and freeze. It’s super quick and easy to pull precooked squash out of the freezer in the middle of the winter and heat it up to eat as a side dish or incorporate it into baked goods or other dishes. The main thing is, don’t let it go to waste! If I have a pile of squash on my counter, I like to bake a lot at one time…the oven is already hot, and if you’re going to make a mess it’s better to clean up just once!
Butterscotch Butternut Squash
     Winter squash is easy to cook. The method I employ most frequently is to simply cut the squash in half and scrape out the seed cavity. I place it, cut side down, in a baking dish and add a little bit of water to the pan, enough to cover the bottom of the pan and come up about ¼-½ an inch on the squash. I bake it in the oven at about 350°F until it is tender when poked with a fork. Once tender, I remove them from the oven and flip them over so the cut side is up. I allow them to rest until they are cool enough to handle, then scoop out the flesh. When you scoop the seed cavity out, remember that the seeds are edible as well. Squash that have smaller seeds are more tender may be rinsed, dried and then toasted.
     There are other methods of cooking squash including roasting or steaming it. Depending on the end result you may choose to peel the squash first.  Roasted squash is a sweet treat and can be made just as you would roast any other vegetable. The recipe for butternut squash and tahini spread in this week’s newsletter starts with roasting butternut squash tossed with olive oil and cinnamon. You could actually stop right there….it’s so delicious it’s like eating candy. The recipe for Autumn Millet Bake employs more of a steaming method for cooking squash. The raw squash is added to a baking dish with the other ingredients, including liquid. The dish is covered and during the baking process the squash cooks by steaming it.
     There are so many different ways to incorporate winter squash into your diet this fall and winter. Get creative and try some new recipes. As always, we appreciate it when our members share their favorite recipes with us!

Butternut Squash & Tahini Spread

Photo Borrowed from Chef Ottolenghi's website
Serves: 6-8
7 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
5 Tbsp light tahini paste
½ cup Greek yogurt
2 small cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp mixed black and white sesame seeds (or just white if you can’t find black)
1 ½ tsp date syrup or maple syrup
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
Salt, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. 
2. Spread the squash out in a medium roasting pan.  Pour over the olive oil and sprinkle on the cinnamon and ½ tsp salt.  Mix together well, cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil, and roast in the oven for 70 minutes, stirring once during the cooking.  (AY Note: I did not cover the pan when I roasted it, but rather let the squash becomes golden and tender.)  Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
3. Transfer the squash to a food processor, along with the tahini, yogurt, and garlic.  Roughly pulse so that everything is combined into a coarse paste, without the spread becoming smooth;  you can also do this by hand using a fork or potato masher. 
4. Spread the butternut in a wavy pattern over a flat plate and sprinkle with the sesame seeds, drizzle over the syrup, and finish with the cilantro, if using.
     This recipe was borrowed from Jerusalem: A Cookbook, written by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi.  Here’s an excerpt from their introduction to the recipe.  “This dip seems to be fantastically popular with anyone who tries it.  There is something about the magical combination of tahini and squash that we always tend to come back to.  Serve as a starter with bread or as part of a meze selection.”  
     We served this spread at our Harvest Party several weeks ago.  We found the leftovers were delicious when spread on a warm tortilla and topped with black beans and cabbage slaw.

Mark Bittman’s Autumn Millet Bake

Yield: 4-6 servings
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus oil for the dish
¾ cup millet
1 medium butternut or other winter squash, peeled seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup fresh cranberries
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp minced fresh sage leaves or 1 tsp dried
2 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
1 cup vegetable stock or water, warmed
¼ cup pumpkin seeds or coarsely chopped hazelnuts
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and grease a 2-quart casserole, a large gratin dish, or a 9x13-inch baking dish with olive oil.
2. Put 2 Tbsp of the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the millet and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes. Spread in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
3. Scatter the squash or pumpkin cubes and the cranberries on top of the millet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the sage and drizzle with syrup. Carefully pour the warmed stock over all. Cover tightly with foil and bake without disturbing, for 45 minutes.
4. Carefully uncover and turn the oven to 400°F. As discreetly as possible, sneak a taste and adjust the seasoning. If it looks too dry, add a spoonful or two of water or stock. (Note from Heidi: This is key! The millet should be close to being cooked through at this point, if not you need to add liquid and keep it moist and cooking - I used another ¼ cup+ of stock here). Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds and/or nuts on top, and return the dish to the oven. Bake until the mixture bubbles and the top is browned, another 10 minutes or so. Serve piping hot or at room temperature (Note from Heidi, Drizzled with the remaining olive oil if you like.)
This recipe was created by Mark Bittman and published in his book, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.  I found this recipe when perusing Heidi Swanson’s blog, 101cookbooks.com.  Visit her website to read more about this dish and her variations.

Chai Spiced Winter Squash Lassi

Photo borrowed from Andrea Bemis' blog
Yield: 2 servings
½ cup cooked butternut or kabocha squash puree
1 ½ cups plain unsweetened full fat yogurt
½ cup ice cold water
2-3 Tbsp pure maple syrup, plus more to taste
2 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cardamom
Pinch of ground cloves
Freshly ground black pepper, just a touch
Combine all the ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until smooth.  Taste for seasonings and adjust to your liking.
This recipe was adapted from Andrea Bemis’ Chai-Spiced Pumpkin Lassi recipe featured recently on her blog, Dishing Up the Dirt.  Her recipe calls for 1 Tbsp of chai-spiced tea leaves from one bag of tea.  I didn’t have a chai tea bag handy, so I created this variation.  This is a delicious way to incorporate squash into breakfast!
S3442 Wire Hollow Road, Viroqua, WI, 54665, United States
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