Farm News for the week of October 10
Reminders & Announcements
Welcome to the Fall CSA Share Season!
- This week, all Fall Vegetable and Egg Share members pick-up.
- Next week, weekly Fall Vegetable Share members pick-up.
- Lake Forest CSA Members: For tonight's CSA pickup only, we are moving the pickup location to Church of the Holy Spirit, 400 E Westminster Ave., Lake Forest. We will be set up in the parking area behind the rectory. The pickup time is the same (4-7pm). Next week, we will return to the Murleys at 994 Meadow Lane. Thank you for your flexibility!
This Week's Vegetable Harvest
Curly Green Kale
Red Head Lettuce
We are offering 5% off discount to all members through November 20th and can be applied to the Spring/Summer/Fall Vegetable Package Share and/or the Summer Fruit Package Share. Please use discount code renew at checkout. Additional details on the schedule are available on our Farm Share page and feel free to contact Jen with any questions.
We welcome the opportunity to share the harvest with you! ~ Jeff & Jen
Farm Journal Welcome to the first week of our Fall Share season! We're happy to have you with us for the journey through this season, and we can't wait to share the goodies the autumn season provides.
This weekend, we enjoyed hosting our family for our 4th annual canning day. Each year, we spend a Sunday gathered in the farm kitchen to chop, cook, can, chat and preserve the harvest together. I can think of nothing better than spending a sunny Sunday afternoon in the kitchen with great food and those you love!
Meanwhile in the fields, the warmer weather of the season has extended our harvest of many late summer crops and necessitated some sunset irrigating of our the fields. Luckily, the autumn sunsets continue to be nice company.
As the cooler fall air temperatures arrive today, the hoophouses continue to protect and warm the soil underneath them while keeping air temperatures within the structure comfortable. Our ginger (pictured at the top) thrives in this warmth, as our hoophouse tomatoes are doing amazingly well with plants growing to reach the top of the structure and producing delicious tomatoes. You'll find both of these treats in vegetable shares this week.
Fall also marks a transition for farmers spending more time indoors reflecting on the season, reviewing planting and harvest numbers collected throughout the year, and planning for the upcoming season. As Jeff and I plan and consider our winter reading and conference schedule, we also strive to make time to support others in their farming endeavors.
Part of our role here at the Prairie Crossing Farm is serving as farmer mentors for those in the Farm Business Development Center (FBDC). The Farm Business Development Center offers aspiring farmers access to land, resources (e.g., greenhouse space, cooler space, tractors) and mentorship to build a farm business.
Our Assistant Farm Manager, Charlotte, has farmed with us for several seasons and all the while, growing cut flowers in her garden plot. She began to sell her bouquets with much success and next season, she'll farm with us and expand her farm business, Charlotte's Blooms, to half acre of farmland here at the farm as a part of the Farm Business Development Center.
Charlotte is selling holiday wreaths to raise startup capital for her farm business, and Prairie Wind will be distributing them during the first week of our Winter Shares to our winter pickup locations. We're thrilled to help her grow and we invite you to join us in supporting the start up of her farm business!
Making the most of your share
Fall carrots are one of the things we're known for at our farmers market, as I've heard customers remark that they didn't know carrots could have such flavor. We give much the credit to our rich, dark soils built over two decades of responsible organic farming and cover cropping at this farm. If you don't plan to eat your carrots right away, make sure to remove the tops and place the carrots in a plastic bag in your crisper.
This week's vegetable shares will also receive ginger that pairs beautifully with carrots. Check out last week's newsletter to learn more about how we grow ginger. We store fresh ginger in a paper bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. However if you won't use all of it within a week, we encourage freezing it in a zip-lock bag. When you are ready to cook with it, simply use a knife to shave the peel away, and then grate to your desired amount.
Leeks are members of the lily family and are close relatives of onions, garlic, shallots and chives. Leeks are milder than most onions and tend to get sweeter as they cook. When using leeks, cut the tops off about 2 inches above the white section. Then cut them in half lengthwise and wash any dirt out from between the layers. Leeks may be sauteed, braised, grilled, baked or eaten raw. They store extremely well when wrapped in plastic.
Farm Kitchen Recipes
Curried Carrot Gratin with Leek & Garlic
5-6 medium carrots
1whole head garlic
2 medium leeks
3/4teaspoon fragrant curry powder
1 ½ cups cream or half-and-half
1 large egg
1 cup finely grated swiss cheese
Preheat oven to 375. Prep garlic and leek(s). For garlic, slice of about 1/2 inch from bottom of whole head. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap tightly in foil. For leek(s), thoroughly wash and trim end and green top, so only white and tender pale green part remain. Slice, drizzle with olive oil and wrap tightly in foil. Place your two packets on a baking sheet and roast until tender 45-50 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Combine melted leek slices and garlic popped out of papery skins in a small bowl. Add curry powder and mash to combine thoroughly, breaking up the roasted garlic cloves. Set aside, reserving about 1 Tablespoon of mixture in another bowl (I had about 1/3 cup of curried leek and garlic mixture). Turn your oven up to 400 degrees.
Using a straight slicer (or mandoline if you have one) carefully slice carrot into paper thin rounds. You will have a heap of them.
Assemble the gratin, by adding glug of olive oil to the bottom of a shallow round (10 inch) ceramic baking dish. Smear and spread about 1 teaspoon of curried leek and garlic mixture on the bottom of dish. Begin layering in the carrot rounds, you want them to slightly overlap. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the cheese on top of the carrots. Repeat layers two more times, however before you end with your final cheese top, dot reserved tablespoon of curried leek and garlic on the surface. End with cheese, grating more if necessary to cover the gratin.
Steam cream or half-and-half over low heat in a saucepan. Beat egg in a small bowl and temper by slowly adding 1/2 cup of warm cream, whisking to combine. Gradually whisk egg-cream mixture back into saucepan with remaining liquid. Add salt and freshly ground pepper, stirring to combine.
Carefully ladle warmed cream-egg mixture over carrot mixture, gently pressing down edges of top layer. Liquid should come up about halfway in the dish. Cook for 20 minutes. If you want a golden brown top, turn up the oven to 450 for the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Allow gratin to cool slightly before serving. Serves 4-6 as a side. (adapted from Food52)
Carrot & Fresh Ginger Soup
2 tablespoons sweet cream butter
2 onions, peeled and chopped
6 cups chicken broth
2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 cup whipping cream
Salt and white pepper
Parsley, for garnish
In a 6-quart pan, over medium high heat, add butter and onions and cook, stirring often, until onions are limp. Add broth, carrots, and ginger. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender when pierced.
Remove from heat and transfer to a blender. Don't fill the blender more than half way, do it in batches if you have to. Cover the blender and then hold a kitchen towel over the top of the blender. (Be careful when blending hot liquids as the mixture can spurt out of the blender.) Pulse the blender to start it and then puree until smooth. Return to the pan and add cream, stir over high heat until hot. For a smoother flavor bring soup to a boil, add salt and pepper, and chopped parsley to taste.
Asian Beef Noodle Stew with Bok Choy, Arugula and Ginger
4-inch piece fresh ginger
2 Tbs. canola oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cinnamon sticks
1 whole star anise
5 garlic cloves, crushed and thinly sliced
2 tsp. Asian chili garlic paste
4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 lb. beef blade steak, trimmed and cut into slices 1/4 inch thick
1 bok choy, about 1 1/2 lb.
1 Tbs. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
1 1/2 lb. fresh Chinese wheat noodles
1 bunch arugula
4 green onions, thinly sliced
Cut ginger into thin slices and crush each slice with the flat side of a chef's knife.
In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the cinnamon sticks and star anise and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and the cinnamon sticks begin to uncurl, about 2 minutes. Add the crushed ginger, garlic and chili paste and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add the stock, soy sauce and 4 1/2 cups water. Increase the heat to high, cover and bring to a boil. Stir in the beef and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially and simmer until the beef is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile, trim the bottom end of the bok choy and cut into 3 inch pieces. In a large saucepan over high heat, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Stir in the 1 Tbs. salt and the noodles, return to a boil and cook until the noodles are tender, about 3 minutes. Drain the noodles, rinse well under warm running water and drain well again. Divide the noodles evenly among 6 to 8 warmed bowls.
Using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the cinnamon sticks, star anise and ginger from the broth. Add the bok choy and cook until just tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Add half of the green onions, arugula and stir to combine and wilt arugula.
Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt. Ladle over the noodles, distributing the beef and bok choy equally. Garnish with the remaining green onions and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.
Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... spinach, winter squash, lettuce, cabbage, onions and more!