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Farming in the snow, alongside the wildlife

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farm shares, winter, chickens
Reminders & Announcements
  • We are delivering to Winter Produce and Egg Share members today and Thursday.
  • Winter Share Delivery Schedule:
    • Tuesday Deliveries: Deerfield, Evanston, Glenview, Lake Forest, Northbrook/Highland Park, Winnetka
    • Thursday Deliveries: Allstate, Buffalo Grove, Libertyville, Oak Park, Vernon Hills, Grayslake Farm
  • Next Winter Share Delivery: Tuesday, February 5 and Thursday, February 7
  • Winter Produce Shares are packed into wax boxes for protection from the winter weather. Please unpack your shares from these boxes into your bags/containers. We will fold and reuse these boxes throughout the season.
  • 2019 Farm SharesThank you to everyone who continues to help us spread the word about joining our CSA Program for the upcoming outdoor growing season! Your word-of-mouth (and online) recommendations and referrals are our most valuable marketing resource and we are truly grateful for your support. Thank you for sharing the farm with your friends, co-workers, family and neighbors!
This Week's Produce Harvest:
  • Winter Spinach 
  • Honey Crisp Apples from Mick Klug Farm, St. Joseph, MI
  • Rutabaga
  • Russet Potatoes from Igl Farms, Antigo, WI
  • Red Onions
  • Yellow Onions
  • Kossak Kohlrabi
  • Asparagus (frozen)
  • Golden Turnips from Harmony Valley Farm, Viroqua, WI
Farm Photo Journal
Good morning from the farm!

The farm was recently covered in a blanket of the snow to the delight of children throughout our neighborhood. Our farm plays host to one of Prairie Crossing's sledding hills which we can see through our dining room window. During the quiet winter months, there's nothing more joyful than hearing happy screams and laughter echoing throughout the farm barns and silos as kids sled down the hill.
We're certainly not alone here at the farm, as the blanket of snow also makes our animal neighbors more noticeable. January is typically pupping season for coyotes and with an active coyote population at Prairie Crossing, we are all doing our part to respect these important animals. 
While coyotes are certainly threat to our chicken flock (which is why we so diligently care for our chickens!), the coyotes tend to do more good than than damage on the farm. Coyotes are "opportunistic omnivores" and eat fruits and vegetables along with animal prey.  A study by Urban Coyote Research Program analyzed over 1,400 scats and found that “the most common food items were small rodents (42%), fruit (23%), deer (22%), and rabbit (18%).” Last spring, the farm's rabbit population was extremely high with rabbits decimating whole plantings of our young lettuces, bok choy and fennel in the hoophouse. These small animal pressures are managed with the help of natural predators like the coyote.
In support of the natural biodiversity here on the farm, we always give the coyotes plenty of room when we spot them, and we also avoid their known gathering areas to make sure they do not feeling threatened. We keep Winston on a tight leash and take note of coyote tracks, paths in snow and daily trends in their movements around the farm to better know how to respect their needs.
In the late spring, we begin to see less and less coyotes around the farm as the human activity increases and the coyote's breeding and pupping seasons slow. They remain active primarily at night, and we can hear their calls as we drift off to sleep. Until then, we'll continue to farm together in the winter. Also thanks to our neighbors, we're sharing a helpful resource if you're interested in learning more about urban/suburban coyotes. Enjoy!

Your farmers,

Jeff, Jen and the farm crew
Notes from the Farm Kitchen
Kossik Kohlrabi a variety of larger kohlrabi grown primarily for storage. They are extremely sweet, tender and delicious, and as many members have told us, the best kohlrabi that we grow! This crop was one of our final harvests last November. At this time of year, I use kohrabi as a substitute for cucumber as I find it has a similar refreshing crunch in sandwiches and salads. The kohlrabi will continue to store well in plastic bag in your refrigerator. 
Farm Kitchen Recipes

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie - Shepard's Pie was served at the farm-to-table luncheon at the Prairie Crossing Charter School (pictured above) this month using our vegetables. It was a delicious, healthy, winter dish!

2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered (about 3 large)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup whole milk
½ cup sour cream
½ cup packed grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or vegetarian Parmesan (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup French lentils
4 sprigs thyme
3 ½ cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
4 tablespoons butter
8 ounces sliced mixed mushrooms, such as button, cremini, and shitaake
1 large onion (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
1 cup root vegetables, e.g., turnips, rutabaga
2 cloves garlic, minced
 Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
In a large pot, bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil over high heat. Add potatoes to boiling water and boil for about 15 to 20 minutes, until soft; a knife should go in with almost no resistance.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a 10-inch oven-safe skillet with high sides or an enameled cast-iron braiser over medium-high heat, bring the lentils, thyme and 2 cups of the broth to a simmer with 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce the heat and continue to cook the lentils, partly covered, until they are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Transfer the lentils to a bowl.
Finish the topping: In a small saucepan or a microwave oven, heat 6 tablespoons of the butter and milk together until butter melts. Drain potatoes well and return to pot. Using a masher or a ricer, mash hot potatoes until smooth. Mix in the hot butter mixture and sour cream just until blended. Stir in 1/2 of the Parmigiano. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.
Finish the filling: Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Melt the butter in the 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until they are deep golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add leeks, carrots, root vegetables and garlic, and continue to cook until tender, another 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the tomato paste and stir, cooking until it is well combined, another 2 to 3 minutes. 8 ounces sliced mixed mushrooms, such as button, cremini, and shitaake 1 large leek, white part only, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups) 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup) 2 cloves garlic, minced Freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons tomato paste 2 tablespoons flour 1 cup frozen peas, thawed 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice. Sprinkle flour over the mixture, stir and cook for 1 minute. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups broth, cooked lentils and peas, and cook until thickened. Remove thyme stems and stir in lemon juice to taste.
Top the mixture with dollops of the mashed potatoes, then spread them out over the top. (Or transfer the lentil mixture to a 3-quart casserole dish and spread into an even layer, and top with potatoes.) Sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano. Transfer to the oven and, if the mixture is at the top edges of your pan, set a foil-lined baking sheet underneath the pan to catch any drips. Bake the pie until the potatoes have begun to brown and the edges are bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.
(slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour recipe)

Asparagus, Spinach and Cheddar Strata with Sourdough - I made this strata as a brunch dish for one of our farm crew meetings, however it would be a great dinner with a side salad as well.

10 to 11 cups sourdough bread cubes (3/4" cubes)
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
7 ounces frozen asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
2 handfuls winter spinach, cut into 1" pieces
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped; a scant 1 cup
½ pound ham, diced
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
8 large eggs
½ cup to 1 1/2 cups half & half (fat-free is fine)
½ teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment, and grease a 2-quart casserole dish or 9" x 13" pan.
Toss the bread in a bowl with the melted butter, and spread evenly on the baking sheet. Heat the bread in the oven for 10 minutes; it won't color, but will dry out a bit.
Toss the asparagus, spinach, onion, ham, and 1 ½ cups of the cheese with the toasted bread cubes. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
Mix together the eggs, 1/2 cup of the half & half, and salt, and pour over the bread mixture, pressing the bread gently into the liquid. Add up to an additional 1 cup half & half if it doesn't come to within 3/4" of the top of the bread cubes.
Cover the pan, and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 6 hours.
Sprinkle the top of the strata with the remaining cheese. Bake the strata uncovered, in a preheated 375°F oven, for about 45 minutes, or until it's puffed and golden. A knife blade inserted into the center will come out clean. Remove the strata from the oven, and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before serving.
(slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour recipe)

Next Share's Harvest (our best guess)...carrots, beautyheart radishes, celery root, frozen produce, and more!

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