White Button Mushrooms - River Valley Ranch, Burlington, WI
Fingerling Potatoes - Igl Farms, Antigo, WI
Good morning from the farm! We hope you enjoyed this morning's beautiful sunrise (ours pictured above) and the start to what we hope will be a drier month.
The recent stretch of warm, sunny days is just what farmers needed most! While our fellow corn farmers in Lake County worked feverishly to prepare for planned corn seedings, we did the same preparing to plant our broccoli, squash, and popcorn (finally!). Our hoophouses and fields are buzzing with activity, from combatting ever-growing weeds to preparing beds for planting. We hope Mother Nature will give us a window of dry weather for planting in the fields again today!
With only 9 days without rain over the past month (and no more than 3 consecutive dry days!), we've needed to approach a few things differently this spring. Saturated, cold field soils meant peppers, eggplant, a second succession of tomatoes and zucchini were unable to be planted in the fields. We decided that our hoophouses and tunnels would transform from growing spring crops to growing summer crops more intensively than ever before. These summer favorites are planted amidst the celery, ginger, onions, greens and napa cabbage already calling this space their home. Additionally, we're using other field techniques such as rolling out large sheets of landscape fabric so that we can get some crops in the ground outside at a higher density, kept warmer and drier by the fabric.
While we strive to get this year's vegetable crops planted, we're also planning and planting with an eye towards the future. Last Friday, the team worked hard to plant a diverse forest of trees including chestnuts, hazelnuts, maple, pecan, butternut, paw paw and others varieties. We will be planting fruiting shrubs next, which will provide another level of growth within the food forest.
Finally we also welcomed about 1800 ladybugs into the hoophouse to feast on some troublesome aphids as a form of natural pest control. These predatory insects use their sense of smell to find and eat aphids. When there’s no longer aphids in the house, they will then move onwards to munch on the pests in our nearby fields. We're glad to have such great help throughout the farm!
Off to the fields now...have a great week! ~ Jen, Jeff, Owen, Gavin and our farm crew
Notes from the Farm Kitchen
Fingerling Potatoescome in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors and this week, we've included a mixture of varieties which are made up of Austrian Crescent, Amarosa and Tan & Purple fingerling varieties. Austrian Crescent are firm and somewhat curved with a golden skin and light yellow flesh. Amarosa are a smooth bright red skinned potatoes with a deep red flesh. All varieties are wonderful boiled (as they hold their shape well) and used in potato salads, roasted with olive oil and onions, sautéed, grilled, smashed or whatever you can dream up!
Cilantrois a fresh herb used in frequent rotation within the farm kitchen because of its freshness in flavor and nutritional benefits. Like many fruits and vegetables, cilantro is a good source of antioxidants and includes vitamins A and C. We plant cilantro in a regular rotation to include in salads in spring, salsas in the late summer and roasted chicken dishes in the fall.
Tyler's holding a sample of week's winter onions which were planted last fall, survived a mild winter and bulbed nicely in the field this spring. These onions can be chopped and substituted for regular bulb onions in most recipes. The winter onions have a fairly strong taste so you'll probably want to use them in cooked dishes and for roasting.
Recipes from the Farm Kitchen
Spring Minestrone With Chicken Meatballs
6 ounces ground chicken (about 3/4 cup) 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs 6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, divided, plus more for garnish 2 garlic cloves, minced 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives 1 large egg, whisked to blend Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 3/4 cup wintered onions, chopped 5 cups low-salt chicken broth 3/4 cup ditalini or other small pasta 1 cup 1/2" rounds carrots 1 cup white mushrooms 1 cup (packed) spinach 1-2 cups of frozen vegetables (e.g., asparagus, broccoli, green beans, tomatoes) Chopped fresh basil
Mix chicken, breadcrumbs, 3 tablespoons Parmesan, 2 minced garlic cloves, chives, egg, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Form into 1/2"-diameter meatballs (makes about 28). Heat oil in a small pot over medium heat. Cook meatballs until golden all over, about 3 minutes (they will finish cooking in soup). Transfer to a plate; set aside.
Add onions and mushrooms to pot and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add broth and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Stir in pasta and carrots; simmer until pasta is almost al dente, about 8 minutes. Add meatballs; simmer until pasta is al dente, carrots are tender, and meatballs are cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add spinach, frozen vegetables and remaining 3 tablespoons Parmesan; stir until spinach is wilted and Parmesan is melted. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with chopped basil and Parmesan. (adapted from Epicurious.com)
Fingerling Potato Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar 2 tablespoons grainy mustard 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1 1/4 pounds multicolored fingerling potatoes, halved 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan. Cover with water by 3 inches; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain well. Add hot potatoes to dressing; toss gently to coat. Add onion and chives; toss and serve. (Source: Cooking Light)