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October 15, 2017
Got Cabbbage?
By Charis Lindrooth
Pretty enough to paint, the savoy cabbage is a specialty variety that adds texture to the meal.
Packed with nutritional goodness, we all know that we should all be eating more cabbage. (In case you want more inspiration go here or here). Even so, when a good-sized head arrives in the CSA box, creativity beyond coleslaw might be lacking. Here are 3 cabbage recipes to inspire you to use that entire nutrition-packed member of the cole family before your next box arrives:
Cabbage Lasagna
Perfect for gluten-free diets, and delicious enough for all palates, try this alternative to a noodle based lasagna
Preheat oven to 350. Grease lasagna pan. Assemble 1 head cabbage, 1 lb ricotta cheese, 1 egg, pesto, 2 cups grated sharp cheddar, grated romano cheese, 1 quart pasta sauce or meat sauce ( brown ground sausage or beef and then mix with tomato sauce)
Slice your head of cabbage lengthwise, though the stem. Carefully make 4 or 5 one inch slices.
Arrange these in the bottom of a greased casserole pan.
Spoon 2/3 tomato sauce over the cabbage layer
Place ricotta cheese in food processor with egg and 1/4 cup of pesto, and 3/4 cup cheddar. Blend well. Gentle spread on top of tomato sauce layer.
Place another layer of cabbage rounds on top of ricotta layer. Top with remaining tomato sauce, and then remaining cheddar. Sprinkle top with romano cheese. Cover loosely with foil and bake 1 hour. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and let sit 15 minutes before serving. This makes marvelous leftovers.
Sauerkraut:
Full of beneficial bacteria for a healthy gut, sauerkraut is a favorite served with pork and applesauce. I like it even better as a salad topping. If you use a super fresh cabbage, you won’t believe how much better home-made is vs the stuff you buy in a bag.
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves
The first time I made this I used the recipe in Moosewood Cookbook. There are lots of variations out there. The dish is fabulously delicious, although it does take a little time. Steaming your cabbage leaves in advance helps.
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October 7, 2017
Changing Season: Changing Perspective
By Charis Lindrooth
Drawing of the last Red Earth Farm heirloom tomato by Kerry Burniston
Life on the farm whirls past us. Our summer days demand a tremendous effort, both physical and mental. It seems as though our noses are right up against the work to be done, rows upon rows of young seedlings, thousands upon thousands of baby plants get planted not just in spring, but throughout the summer and early fall. Every single row requires manual weed control, via hand, hoe or tractor cultivation. And every single plant yields a harvest, as long as we have the strength to pick it, wash it and pack it. Some crops like tomatoes need special care, staking and trellising to keep precious fruit off the ground, or summer squash which needs special covers placed over hoops to protect it from insect pressure. Of course ground gets “worked" over and over, which means the tractor rolls back and forth along the beds, tilling, spreading compost, laying irrigation tape and cultivating seedlings. Cool spring melds into hot summer, transforms into chilly autumn seamlessly. When the daylight lengthens we use every bit of light for work, and often drop into a deep exhausted sleep almost as soon as the supper dishes are washed up. We barely notice time go by until that first hard frost hits and our entire landscape changes overnight. The night time chill fills the fall crops with a sweetness unsurpassed by any summer crop, except maybe the sungold tomatoes. Carrots and kale lose their bitterness as they condense their sugars into their root and leaf.
We are still expecting that first frost any day now. The tomato vines are shriveled and brown, dotted with bright red, or golden fruit that looks tempting until you get up close. Rows of spruce green colored kale, and bright green and burgundy lettuces draw one’s attention, and ease the loss of the summer bounty. With only four weeks left of our Main Season the Farmer says we have far more Fall Share crops than we can ever sell. Abundance.
Today I took a few hours to visit with my dear childhood friend. She lives in Great Britain now, and when she comes home for a visit I always carve a sacred bit of time out of this busy-ness to just be with her. She is a fantastic artist, with quite a following in Oxfordshire, so I decided that today we would spend our time together drawing. She always travels with a sketch book and a few key tools so she can draw wherever she goes. Today I supplied colored pencils and a selection of the last picking of tomatoes and together we sat a drew for hours. The exercise of creativity gradually relaxed me and when I finally looked up from my page the farm looked suddenly different. Beautiful and peaceful. Like home instead of work. And then I thought, maybe drawing vegetables is as health promoting as eating them!
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September 4, 2017
The Geese are Flying
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
Okay, these are vultures, not geese, aren't they cool?
The geese are flying, a sure autumn on the farm. Other clues include chilly toes in the dewy mornings, the groan of school buses passing in the lane, the grumpy teenager dealing with early school mornings and and the murmuration of starlings. Friday afternoon I walked through fields newly planted with fall crops and startled a small flock of bluebirds. What a treat!
Another sure sign of fall is the sudden disappearance of half of our crew. This strains those left behind, as the demands of the field, while less, are still significant. It is true, the crew is tired after the long summer push. Soon, however, the weed pressure will drop dramatically and the fall planting will be finished. Beautiful September days will remind us that what we do here is worth it.
Many of you might be thinking that the season must be winding down, but actually we are only a tad past the half way point of the Main Season. With 9 weeks still ahead, an array of fall goodies will start to appear on the list. We apologize that eggplant did not land on the proper list this week, for those of you who noticed, and hope to have it available next week. We are also sorrowful that the tomato crop, while not a total failure, struggled with blight and we will not be able to make our signature pasta sauce this year - boo hoo for the Farmer's Wife! And basil too, in case you didn't notice, failed utterly. I hear local gardeners complaining of the same problem. An entire field of it just up and kicked the bucket before I even had a chance to think pesto. When eating from a small farm, you must adopt the motto, "There's always next year!" Of course, for most of us you could also say, "There's always Whole Foods." Not quite the same as fresh from the farm, but at least there are options.
Of course, we are hoping that you will jump into the fall season which starts the week of November 6 (the final week of the Main Season is the week of October 30). Prorated Main Season and/or Fall Shares are available to any and all. We have LOCAL FOOD for you!
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August 20, 2017
Singing the August Blues
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
The morning arrived fresh and inviting today, restoring hope to the Farmer's heart. It's been a rough couple of weeks. Everyone knows that farming is hard work, long hours in all types of weather, and physically demanding. Actually that is the part of farming that appeals most to our Farmer, and to many who dream of trading their desk job for a life out of doors. The physical work is the easy part. The challenge lies in the unexpected, be it weather issues, employee drama or equipment breakdown. Any of these can pitch a twist in our daily routine, or tip the delicate scale of our economy and amount to a significant load of stress. August always presents a challenge for us. Although it still feels like summer, the power of the sun is shifting towards the equinox while the insect and disease pressure is burgeoning.
We have learned to expect the unexpected. We expect too much rain to insult our tomatoes. We expect the crew to get over-tired and less enthusiastic by now. We expect equipment, which is used hard all season, to falter. It's all part of the deal, part of being a working farm. But these past few weeks have held a run of out-of the-ordinary unexpecteds, such as a significant theft and an accident with the delivery truck that demolished an entire delivery on Tuesday and left the truck in the repair shop indefinitely. Many of our Tuesday members, who were disappointed to miss their Tuesday box, reached out with kind words and even donations, all of which touched and inspired us to pick up and keep going. No one was hurt with either incident, thank goodness.
Two things help us put it all in perspective. First is the beauty of the day before us, the cicadas singing staccato, the indigo bunting flashing blue among the foxtail, the cool dew-bedazzled mornings and the lullaby of the crickets and katydids as we drift into sleep at night. Second, is the people around us: the crew pulling together for the push of the second half of the season, our friends and family reaching out with support, and you, our CSA members, many of whom have stood by us for over a decade of Augusts. We read every note, every email, whether a brief thank you, or a lengthy story of how our vegetables have impacted your life, and every single word goes to heart. You are the reason we do this.
The concept of CSA was born from a passion for supporting small farms and for a grass-roots endeavor to reconnect with where and how our food is grown. I maintain this blog with the primary intention of helping our customers know us and our farm. I write with my heart on my sleeve, because I believe that our customers care about the welfare of their farming family as much as about the convenience of having their local food arrive in one box. I want our customers to know without a shadow of a doubt their dollars are supporting the livelihood of a small Pennsylvania farm and their support makes this farm a better provider of fresh, high quality, safe food for people throughout our region.
Many of you ask how you can help:
1. If you are not a current member, please join today! Our CSA is the only one in the region offering weekly online ordering. Our produce has never been as lush and abundant as this year. We are GAP certified and offer a prorated price to jump in for the second half of the Main Season.
2. If you are a member, refer a friend. Tell them about our farm - share this post.
3. Sign up for our Fall Share. We are extending our season by 6 weeks this year and are opening our fall share at almost all sites. Your Fall Share commitment is a HUGE help to us this year. In addition to fall veggies this year, we are offering Egg, Apple, Bread and Cheese shares. We also have listed some local artisan crafted gifts which help support the farm as well as small-time crafts persons.
4. Come to our Garlic Planting Picnic or VIP Farm to Table Dinner - both super delicious and a fun way to experience the farm. Anyone is welcome to these events, even in they are not a member. Inquire for details.
As always, we are grateful every day for the opportunity to feed you and your families. Thank you for your continued support.
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August 13, 2017
Making Time to Make Dinner
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
A nifty NYT article popped up on my Apple newsfeed today, What to Cook This Week by Sam Sifton. It spoke to me, since I have been disheartened and even worried about a previous article about how Americans like the idea of cooking, but don't really make time for it. A CSA thrives on customers who actually prepare their own food from scratch. Our Farm, depends on you to take time to prepare your own food. As food services madly scramble to make cooking as cookie-cutter and streamlined as possible, the Farmer and I look at each other and wonder at all the waste that goes into this carefully pre-chopped and otherwise prepared, wrapped and packaged pre-cooked meals. It seems so simple to us to take a few items from the field and create a meal that satisfies us in the deepest way imaginable.
Besides a shortage of time, we are all so crazy busy and tired these days, what keeps you from cooking? Do you need ideas? Recipes? How-to classes? Would you like a class on preparing one skillet meals in under 45 minutes?
We like to think that the weekly arrival of your CSA box acts as an encouragement, not a nag, that cooking for yourself is healthy, satisfying and delicious.
When you eat a home-cooked meal that includes local produce, you are supporting a small family farm, an essential part of the the Pennsylvania rural landscape...in our humble opinion, that is!
Join our Fall Share, and be part of our "Farmily."
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June 29, 2017
It Takes a Village
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
If you live alone, hang out by yourself most of the time, or feel lonely even when people are around, your risk of kicking the bucket in the next seven years increases to about 30%. This startling statement in a Wall Street Journal article this weekend caught my eye. According to Susan Pinker, author of "The Village Effect" (is she married to the guy who wrote the Dorito Effect?) our social habits more accurately predict how long we will live than our eating and exercise habits.
For many of us this news makes us think of aging parents or other elders we know who no lack the gumption to get out and connect with friends or even family. Is it possible that the sky-rocketing rate of dementia in this country connects to a growing isolation of our elders? Is a nursing home the answer? Even residents of retirement facilities can feel very alone, perhaps even more so if they grieve the loss their familiar turf.
"Isolation is the beginning of disease." So stated Malidoma Some, West African shaman and author or several books. Indigenous cultures have known since ancient times the value of a supportive community.
How does this connect to the CSA? First to my mind springs the satisfaction of a shared meal. Does your family sit together and begin the meal together? An article in the Washington Post highlights a myriad of benefits for families that sit down to a meal together. Young children learn more vocabulary at family dinners than they do from being read to, teens are more likely to get good grades in school and suffer less obesity once they are on their own. Families that eat together tend to eat more fruits and vegetables - have you ever subbed a bowl of cereal for a meal as a loner? Even medical conditions such as asthma were improved by eating together.
The article stresses that the atmosphere is essential. No TV while eating together and parents should be "warm and engaged" versus stern and controlling. I suppose this research has finally put to rest the old adage, "Children are to be seen and not heard."
One of the most interesting and frequent comments on our 2014 survey highlighted the social connection our members get from picking up their box at a communal location. This may vary from site to site, but I was surprised and pleased to see how much people value connecting with other dedicated vegetable eaters. In the flurry of business that seems to be part of everyone's lives these days, it is interesting to note that this small community building activity of the weekly box pick up seems to be worth the extra effort. Perhaps getting a box of food in the mail is easier, but only lends to the nuclear isolation that is plaguing our culture.
So remember that the acronym "CSA" stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Take a moment to connect with your fellow CSA members, and build the community around you. If you prepare your meal together and sit down together, after socializing at your pick up site, maybe you will live a little longer! Especially if you eat your vegetables!
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