Summer Share 2016 - Week 16 - Middle Way Farm
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Summer Share
Weekly Newsletter 

Week 16
Sep. 11, 2016
There's Still Time to Sign-up for the Fall Share. Share starts Nov. 1-2. Spots available!
Garlic Workshop and Work Day

Grow Your Own Garlic

1-2 pm, October 29

Free workshop

Learn the basics of growing garlic in your home garden including varieties, soil preparation, planting time, mulching, plant care, harvest, curing, storage and saving seed.   All participants will receive a bulb of garlic to plant and some extra bulbs will be available for sale


Garlic Planting Workday

2-5 pm, October 29

 Volunteers should wear close toed shoes, bring sun protection (hat, long sleeves, sunglasses, sunblock) and warm clothes, have a water bottle, and be prepared to stoop, bend over, and work on their hands and knees. No experience is required, volunteers will be taught everything they need to know. Come for all or part of workday.

What's Good This Week

Tomatoes still producing well. Bulk orders are down for this week because we were unable to pick on Friday due to rain. That means we'll pick tomorrow and figure out what total is available for CSA. I want to be cautious about offering bulk tomatoes if the pick ends up being smaller than anticipated because of rain damaged tomatoes. 

The colored peppers are at their peak. Bulk orders of peppers for freezing (mix red, yellow, green, purple, etc.) will be available at the end of the season in October. 

Mesclun mix this week contains some wonderful  fall greens and there is plenty to go around.  Nice arugula or baby kale only bags too

The return of HEAD LETTUCE! Looks wonderful, will be in the standard share next week.

There are a ton of nice looking leeks in the field. Available for custom order now till the end of the season. 

What's in the Standard Share
(With Custom Order Options and Prices)

Beets - 1 pound ($3/pound)
Carrots - 1 pound (Standard Share Only)
Garlic, Hardneck -
1 bulb
($1/small size (less than 1" diameter), $1.50/medium size (1-2" diameter), $2/premium size (2"+ diameter)) 
Fall Flower Bouquet - 1 bouquet of ~dozen stems ($6/bouquet)
Leeks - 1-2 large leeks ($1.50/large leek or bunch of 4 medium size for $3.50)
Mesclun Mix (lettuce, arugula, baby kale, spinach, chard) - 6 oz. bag ($4/bag or 2 for $7)
Onions, White - 1 1/2 pounds ($4 for 1 1/2 pound portion)
Pepper, Colored - 2+ peppers ($2/large pepper or 2 small peppers)
Potatoes, Purple Majesty - 1 pound ($3/pound)
Radish, Heirloom Osterguss - 1 bunch ($2/bunch or 3 for $5)
Tomatoes, Slicing & Roma - 1-2 pounds ($2.50/pound)
Also Available for Custom Order

Arugula - $4 per 6 oz. bag or 2 for $7
Baby Kale - $4 per 6 oz. bag or 2 for $7
Fresh Celery Root - $1.50/root
Head Lettuce - $3 per head
Kale, Red Curly - $2/ bunch or 3 for $5
Kale, Green Curly - $2/bunch or 3 for $5
Parsley - $2/bunch or 3 for $5
Hot Pepper, Green Chile - 4 for $1
Pepper, Green or Purple - $1/pepper or 3 for $2.50
Tomato Medley - $3/pint or 2 for $5
Tomato, Juliet- $3/pint or 2 for $5
Zinnia (flowers) - $6 per bunch with returnable quart jar 

Fruit Share
Apples - 3 pound bag
What's Coming Up, What's Going Out

Last of the carrots and beets (till fall share) and purple potatoes this week. More red and yellow potatoes will be available in coming weeks. 

Last of white onions this week. Longer lasting Candy, yellow, red, and other onions will be available in coming weeks.

French Breakfast radishes are week away, as are the Dragon Tongue beans. Green cabbages are just about ready, red cabbage will need a few more weeks.
Place Your Custom Order
It was an absolutely stunning fall day for the farm open house yesterday, which was fortunate considering the weather on Wednesday and Friday! About 30-40 people turned out for the farm tour and a potluck which I can safely say, having attended a lot of potlucks over the last six years, was one of the best. Laura McIntosh, a brand new CSA member in Marshalltown, won the garlic braid raffle and I saw a number of people walking away with plants, bouquets of zinnias, and aronia berry stained hands. I was happy to have a mix of CSA members, farm friends and helpers, and beginning farmers looking to learn more about my operation attend. 

Opening up the farm each year is important to me for a number of reasons. For one, it gets me to clean up the farm! Also, as many of you know who teach, having to explain or teach about something to a group of people requires you to know and believe in what you're doing in a different way than when you're simply learning or thinking about something on your own. Showing and explaining my operation to an audience, and answering their questions, is a way for me to reflect on and refine what I'm doing. I also think that the farm is a very beautiful place, a mix of wild and cultivated space that is full of life and sky, that I feel privileged to work at every day and happy to share with other people. Its especially gratifying to see kids enjoying the open space of the farm.

 More broadly though, I think transparency and connection to people and place are the biggest selling points of locally produced food. I will never be able to compete with mass produced vegetables on price, convenience, and ubiquity. What I can offer is actual engagement with where the food you eat is produced, what it looks like when its growing, the processes its goes through before it makes it to your box, and the challenges and joys of growing it. This is food with flavor, a story, and most importantly, an origin. 

Your farmer, 

What to Do with Your Share

Beets  - Beets often seem to be a love it or hate it vegetable. Fortunately, I think a good portion of the people who think they hate beets have only had them pickled or boiled. There are of course of some people who truly just don't like the flavor of beets, but until you've had them roasted I don't think that you've given beets a fair shot. 

Preparation & Cooking:   I learned the technique below from chef Kamal at Relish and its now my preferred way to prepare beets. Trim off leaves and scrub beets clean but otherwise keep them whole. Put as many beets as you want to prepare in an all-metal stockpot with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Bring to boil on moderate heat with the cover on. As soon as the water boils, put the entire stockpot in the oven, covered. The beets will steam in the pot over the next half hour to one hour, depending on the size of the beets and the number in the pot. There is no risk of burning the beets and little risk of overcooking them, so this is a great way to prepare beets for kitchen multi-taskers like me. Remove from the oven once beets can be easily pierced with a fork. Leave out to cool or run under cold water if you want to use them immediately. The skins with slip easily off the cooked beets and you can use these cooked beets themselves or use in other recipes calling for beets. I love them sliced in a salad with hard boiled eggs. They can also be stored immediately with the skins on and pulled out of the fridge, peeled, and chopped as needed. 

Storage:  Roots should be kept in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity and will keep for well over a month. I have kept unwashed beets in cold storage from October to June and could have kept them longer if I hadn't sold them all! 

Carrots - This is the last of the summer carrots, with the fall carrots still several weeks away from harvest. It will be a mix of larger carrots and some small ones, including some carrots with splits in their skin, which doesn't otherwise affect their flavor or quality.  

Preparation & Cooking:  Carrots are wonderful raw or cooked. No need to peel them - a good scrub with a bristle brush will do to remove any remaining dirt. 

Storage:    Roots can keep for well over a month in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set to high humidity. These carrots are not a storage variety, but will still hold up very well in fridge.  

Fall Flower Bouquet - A mix of cultivated and wild flowers from the farm. May include zinnias, asparagus ferns, Thai basil, native wildflowers, grasses and more. When you receive your bouquet, fresh the cut at the bottom with sharp scissors or a knife and place in a jar of water. Change the water every few days to keep it fresh. A little sugar mixed in the water will benefit the bouquet. Should keep for 5-7 days at room temperature. 

Garlic, Hardneck  Garlic is now considered fully cured (dried). This particular variety is a hardneck type (has stiff, woody neck, fewer larger cloves), as opposed to the softnecks (have a soft pliable neck, more smaller cloves) that you find in grocery stores. As compared to a typical softneck, hardneck types have a stronger, spicier flavor. 

Preparation & Cooking: I peel garlic by smashing the unpeeled clove with the side of my knife on the cutting board, which causes the paper to split and slip off more easily. Just got a recent tip about preparing garlic from the Splendid Table on National Public Radio. Crush the peeled garlic clove with the side of your knife or a garlic press and sprinkle with salt. Mince up the garlic and salt. The salt helps draw out the flavor of the garlic and also acts to enhance the flavor of the subsequent dish.

Storage: Keep this garlic on the counter. Don't refrigerate cured garlic, as this will actually encourage it to sprout. Peel cloves can be refrigerated but should be used quickly. Leave cloves unpeeled for best shelf life and to not risk mold or pathogens developing. Can keep for several months if properly stored. 

White Onions -  These onions are now fully cured (dried). They have moderate storage ability, meaning that they will keep for several months but not all the way through the winter like storage onions. 

Preparation & Cooking:  I quickly clean and peel onions by slicing off the root and the top and cutting them in half, then taking off the top layer of skin. They are then ready to be sliced into half rings or diced. White onions are mild and sweet. Good for using raw or cooked. 

Storage: Store in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Good ventilation is helpful. A mesh bag hanging is ideal. The fridge is not a good place for onionsunless you can keep already cut or sliced onions for a week or so. Old onionswill begin to shrivel and sprout. 

Leeks are a relative of onions and garlic they grow over a long season. These were planted in mid-April and I'll continue harvesting them all the way up to the killing freezes in November/December. 

Preparation & Cooking:  Leeks are typically prized for their white shaft, with the green part of the shaft and the leaves being discarded. I still haven't achieved the right technique for growing a long white shaft on a leek, so I typically use as much of it as possible, white or green. The top layers of theleek tend to accumulate soil despite farm washing, so watch for grit under the leaves when washing them in your sink. Leeks can be used a mild substitute or compliment to onions. As this website claims, leeks are cooler than onions because they perform the same job but are sweeter with more delicate flavor!

Storage:  Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer on high humidity. Use within a week or so. The tops with begin to yellow as they age. 

Mesclun MixThis mesclun mix will include baby lettuce as well as a smaller portion of arugula and baby kale. Mesclun literally means "mixture" in French. The term originated with the markets of the Provence region of southwestern France. It refers to any combination of young leafy salad greens, which typically includes lettuce and a combination of other, typically stronger flavored greens such as arugula, beet greens, spinach, Swiss chard, mustard, and radicchio 

Preparation & Cooking: This mix has been double washed, so it is basically ready to eat without any further rinsing. You may need to pick out a bad leaf or piece of chaff before serving.  Be aware that if you wash it again, you will significantly shorten its storage life. Always spin dry or towel dry greens that have been rinsed before serving and before storing. 

Storage: Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity. Should keep in good condition for a week. 

Sweet Peppers - We divide the pepper field up into two sections each season - one where we pick green peppers as soon as they are large enough and the other where we leave those green peppers to ripen into red (or orange or yellow depending on the variety) peppers. This week you are receiving all ripe peppers, which may be red bell, red bullnose, orange bullnose, or chocolate brown (reddish brown). Ripe peppers have fully matured and are sweeter than green peppers. They also tend to be more susceptible to damage in the field so are often less perfect or have minor blemishes or wrinkling of the skin.  

Preparation & Cooking:   To quickly prep, cut the pepper in half lengthwise and pull out the stem and seeds from the top of each side and discard. Slice the peppers lengthwise. Colored peppers can be used like green peppers but you can also slice them in half, lay them out flat on a baking tray, brush with oil, and broil them on low in the oven. They should be watched closely and removed just as the skin begins to char. You can then remove the skin and refrigerate the roasted pepper for up to several weeks. Peppers that are fully colored (have no green left) are best for roasting. 

Storage: Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity. Use within a week or so, while the peppers are still relatively firm. They will begin to shrivel with age.

Potatoes, Purple Majesty Purple Majesty potatoes are a relatively new variety of potato developed by the USDA that harkens back to the ancient origin of potatoes in Peru. In the birthplace of potatoes, there are thousands upon thousands of varieties of potatoes, in all shapes, sizes, and colors (including purple), all adapted to different growing conditions and altitudes in the Andes. Purple Majesties have high levels of blue/purple antioxidants (like blueberries or other blue fruits) and generally a lower glycemic index (less likely to spike blood sugar) than white potatoes. They also happen to be a beautiful and delicious potato.  

Preparation & Cooking:  Purple Majesties retain much of their color when cooked. Scrub them under running water to remove any remaining soil; no need to peel! They are a great all-purpose potato for all uses - boiling, roasting, mashed, salads, pan-fry, etc.  

Storage: Cured potatoes can be kept on the counter at room temperature but will keep for longer in a plastic bag in the fridge. 

Heirloom Osterguss Radishes are an interesting seed I got from High Mowing Seeds in Vermont. They are an unusual carrot-shaped magenta radish with crisp texture and spicy flavor. Its a German variety translated as "Easter Greeting". Firm interior flesh is bright white and enclosed in beautifully contrasting thick pink skin. 5-6" roots. 

Preparation & Cooking:  These would be a beautiful addition to salads and perfect shape for dipping and crudites. The tops will be nice quality as far as radishes go and can be used as a cooking green. 

Storage:  Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer on high humidity. Use within a week or so. The tops should be separated from the roots and used within a few days or discarded. 

Tomato. Slicing & Roma- Slicing tomatoes denotes any larger, round tomato that is typically used for making tomato slices. It could be a hybrid or heirloom tomato depending on availability. Roma tomatoes are a long, oval tomato that have less water and more meat than slicers. They are specifically meant for cooking, as they do not contain as much water and therefore do not need to be boiled down as much as slicers do to produce a sauce or paste. 

Preparation & Cooking:  Cut out the stem end of the tomato and the pith just below it. Any surface blemishes can be trimmed off as well. Roma (and slicers) tomatoes should be chopped into smaller pieces up prior to cooking to speed their breakdown. Some people prefer to remove the skin first. To do so, bring a pot of water to boil. Dip in the tomatoes for 30 seconds to minute then remove and cool immediately. This should loosen the skin enough so that you can slip it off. You may also use slicing tomatoes for cooking, but they will have more water. 

Storage:  NEVER refrigerate tomatoes unless you're trying to keep them from going bad for a short period of time. They lose their flavor in the fridge. Keep them on the counter and use ripe tomatoes within a few days. Unripe tomatoes may be held separately from ripe ones and given a few days to develop full ripeness and flavor. Store tomatoes upside down (resting on their shoulders) in a single layer on the counter, windowsill, tray, plate, etc, out of direct sunlight. Don't pile up tomatoes and don't put them a bag. Watch for signs of spoiling and use spoiled ones immediately or discard. Tomatoes freeze very well without cooking. Simply remove the stem end and pack in a sealed freezer bag. 

Fall flower bouquet - this one  includes zinnias, asparagus "fern", native sunflowers, and Thai basil. 
Osterguss radishes
Recipe of the Week

Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables

This is what I prepared for the field day yesterday. I can now say its my go to dish for serving at farm potlucks. I got the original roasted chicken recipe from Ina Garten at the Food Network, but in this recipe below I combine the dry brining technique that I picked up (originally for turkey) and some other improvements. 
  • Kitchen twine
  • Metal roasting pan or large cast iron pan
  • 1 whole frozen or fresh 4-6 lb. chicken (preferably locally produced for best flavor)
  • 1/2 stick of good quality (preferably local), unsalted butter
  • Generous amount of sea salt, pepper, and other dried spices for dry brine (rosemary, sage, cumin, tumeric, thyme, etc.)
  • A lemon, apple, and/or lime for stuffing chicken (apple can also be added to roasting pan)
  • OPTIONAL: Fresh herbs for stuffing chicken - sage, thyme, parsley, rosemary, etc. 
  • 2 heads of garlic (one for stuffing, for for roasting pan) 
  • A few pounds of onions (some for stuffing, rest for roasting pan)
  • Root vegetables for roasting (enough to fill the pan) - carrots, beets, potatoes, celeriac, radishes, sweet potatoes, etc. Small root vegetables with stem end cut off but no further cutting are perfect size for roasting whole. 
  • High heat cooking oil (grapeseed for example) 
PREPARATION - should start prepping frozen chicken at least 3 days before serving, fresh chicken at least 1 day before serving. 
  1. Thaw chicken completely in the fridge for a day or two if frozen. 
  2. The night before serving, dry brine the chicken. Dry brining is the best way to make sure you get a moist, flavorful chicken with crispy skin after roasting without the mess and hassle of wet brining. Read more about it here. Mix together a small bowl of salt, pepper, and dry spices. It should be at least a large handful, mostly salt. Thoroughly combine then rub mixture thickly over every surface of the chicken, including the inside of the cavity. You may not need all of the mixture, but since you will be washing this off before roasting, don't worry too much about "over" salting. Cover chicken in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 12 hours, up to 24-36 hour is fine. 
  3. Cut up root vegetables into bite size pieces if large, leave whole if small, add onions (quartered is fine) and whole garlic cloves peeled into roasting pan. Toss lightly in high heat oil and spices you used for brining chicken. Let sit in the fridge overnight alongside the chicken.
  4. Cut up lemon, apple, and/or lime and combine with whole, peeled garlic cloves, quartered onions, and fresh herbs if desired. Prepare enough to fill cavity of chicken. Put in fridge in a separate container. 
  5. About 2 to 2 1/2 hours before serving, pre-heat oven to 425-450 degrees. Pull out the chicken and thoroughly rinse off dry brine. Pat dry with paper towels. 
  6. Pull out root vegetable pan and place dry chicken breast side up on top. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine and tuck wings underneath. Pack stuffing ingredients into cavity of chicken. 
  7. Melt 1/2 stick of butter in pan or microwave, then brush over every surface of the chicken. Excess butter will run down into vegetables. 
  8. Place chicken in pre-heated oven for 1 hour. After an hour, pull the chicken out and flip it so the back is facing up. Roast for another 1/2 hour. Chicken should be thoroughly cooked by this point, but you can use a thermometer to check that its at least 140-160 degrees internal temperature. I tend not to care if the cavity gets to that temperature, as you can discard what's in the cavity if you don't think it got to full temperature. However, 1 1/2 hours at 450 degrees seems to be more than enough to cook everything in cavity. 
  9. Pull chicken out of oven and tent over with aluminum foil for 20-30 minutes, then carve and enjoy! Root vegetables should be cooked to perfection and chicken will be brown, crispy, yet moist inside and well salted and flavored. Carcass can be saved, boiled in water for a few hours along with contents of cavity and other vegetable scraps, then strained out to make a chicken broth. 
Photo of the Week
The results of the first occultation (covering ground in tarp) experiment. The whole area looked bleached out (almost as if it had been sprayed withe herbicide), but areas under opaque tarps looked darker than areas under clear plastic that received sunlight. The clear plastic also allowed some weed growth in spots. Some perennial weeds were still making a go under the opaque tarps. A longer period would probably be needed to kill perennials, since they have root reserves to draw from unlike annual weeds. This area is now re-covered with one, solid black silage tarp. Its the location for the high tunnel I anticipate building this fall/coming spring. 
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