How Cold Can It Go?!

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Oh, the weather outside is frightful…” could well sum up most of the past few weeks – depending on one’s perspective. It has been frigidly cold, but the sunshine has been plentiful, giving us spectacular views. If you haven’t already seen the photos Julie (a Saskatoon member) posted our the Largo Farm facebook page, I encourage you to check them out and see for yourself. And of course, extremely cold days are a great excuse to stay in bed with a good book!

That’s not to say that the frigid temperatures we experienced over the Christmas season and have now been plunged back into do not pose a challenge. While we don’t have to worry about power outages or natural gas shortages here on the farm, we do have to be mindful of keeping up a good wood supply, stoking our fires regularly, and keeping an eye on the cellar temperatures.

I wasn’t quite quick enough to respond when the temperatures first started to plummet last month, and some of the carrots and potatoes in our cellar suffered frost damage. Fortunately, only a few potatoes were lost and the carrots are still alright in cooked form. There have been plenty of soups, stews, and roasts on our menu these days.

Over New Year’s, we took our cue from Judy and Tom’s past experience (before their cellar was as well insulated as it is now) and began taking pots of boiling water into the cellar to keep the temperature up. With the thermometer registering minus 37 last night, I thought we should give the cellar a little help today too. But when we sat down to lunch, we discovered that Shawn had accidentally put our moose stew down to warm the cellar and left a pot of simmering water on the stove for lunch! Stone soup, anyone?

Potatoes, carrots, and beets are the veggies of the season, and we have been enjoying lots of them. This month you also received onions, one final spaghetti squash, and what are most likely the last of the parsnips. We will not sending any more rutabaga this season, as the quality is so poor. Hopefully the bugs go easier on us next summer!

The potatoes we sent out this month were a mixture of our two types: Red Norland and Belgian. The Belgians are a starchier potato and while they can be delicious boiled (especially if cooked in just the right amount of water so that it has all evaporated by the time they are cooked), they are generally best fried or baked. If you are looking for some new potato ideas, check out the recipe section of this blog.

My absolute favourite beet recipe (Syrian beet salad) is also on that page, but for those of you looking for something totally different to make with your beets, how about a chocolate beet cake?

Secret Chocolate Cake (from Simply in Season)

2 cups beets, cooked, peeled, and chopped

1/2 cup applesauce

Puree in blender until smooth. Set aside.

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup plain yogurt

3 eggs

Combine in a large mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer 2 minutes.

1/2 cup sifted cocoa

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Add along with pureed beets. Beat another 90 seconds.

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

Gradually sift into batter, stirring until just mixed.

1/2 cup chocolate chips and/or nuts

Stir in. Pour into greased 9 x 13 baking pan and bake at 350 until knife inserted in centre comes out clean (40-50 minutes).

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Winter comforts

As the days grow shorter, so too (in our off-the-grid solar-powered home) do the possible hours of computer use. For that matter, so too do our waking hours. There have been a number of days recently when our lights have shut themselves off around 9:30, sending all but the most nocturnal of us to our beds! We are working on an upgrade to our solar system, which should relieve some frustrations around limited use of our various devices and most especially the laptop. Still, I hope that we maintain the sense of dependence on the natural world around us.

All this is a roundabout way of offering a partial explanation for the lateness of this blog post. Vegetables went out nearly two weeks ago and only now am I finding a chance to write this post. I console myself with the thought that this month’s order was almost identical to last month’s (minus the garlic), so you are well familiar with the vegetables provided: potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, rutabaga, and onions.

You may, however, be wondering what to do with some of them, and I have been wanting to share a few more recipes, including a roasted parsnip soup I tried out last month (from Spilling the Beans):

1 1/4 lbs parsnips

2 medium carrots

1 large onion

3-4 peeled garlic cloves

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 cups cooked and drained white beans

1/2 cup cream (optional)

1/4-1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

1/3-1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley (if available)

 

Preheat oven to 400.

Peel the carrots and parsnips. Shave one parsnip into strips with a vegetable peeler until you have 1 cup packed. Set this aside and cut the rest (and the carrots) into 1-inch chunks, splitting the large ends of the parsnips into halves or quarters if needed. Peel the onion and cut into 8 chunks. Place vegetables on baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and season lightly with salt. Toss to coat with oil. Roast for 20 minutes, add the garlic, stir, and roast another 15-25 minutes until everything is golden and tender. Transfer to a soup pot, add the stock and beans, and bring to a simmer. Cook gently about 25-30 minutes. Puree then reheat, adding cream and nutmeg (and some cayenne if you wish).

Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil in a small saucepan until shimmering but not boiling. Working in 3-4 batches, transfer the reserved parsnip strips to the hot oil with a fork (protect arms with oven mitts and keep face away). Cook until lightly browned, then transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat. Serve on top of hot soup, with finely chopped parsley.

If you’re looking for some potato ideas, this morning I made delicious potato pancakes by adding a bit of grated cheddar cheese, an egg, and some dried green onions to a pot of leftover mashed potatoes and then cooking them over a hot stove. I served them with Cindy’s zucchini salsa (on the blog recipe page) and they were a big hit!

And here’s a beet recipe I haven’t tried yet, which a friend shared from The Guardian:

Beet and caraway loaf

Makes 1 x 750g loaf
300g cooked beetroot, chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
100ml buttermilk or plain yoghurt
200g white spelt flour
200g wholemeal spelt flour
50g pumpkin seeds, plus more for sprinkling
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Black pepper

1 Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the beetroot (see the note if you’re roasting your own), spices and buttermilk in a food processor and puree until smooth.

Put the flours, pumpkin seeds, salt, bicarbonate of soda and pepper into a large bowl and mix well.

3 Pour the beetroot mixture into the flours and mix with a fork until well combined, then use your hands to bring the lot into a rough ball. Don’t knead it though, or it will make the finished loaf tough.

Scatter some flour over a baking sheet and put your ball of dough on top. Dust with a little more flour and a few more pumpkin seeds.

Cut a deep cross in the bread, then bake for 40 minutes, or until golden and risen. Remove from the oven and tap the bottom of the loaf. If you get a hollow sound, it’s perfect, so pop it on a wire rack to cool. This is delicious warm with salted or almond butter.

If you are roasting the beetroot yourself:

Wash the beetroot well and trim off the stalks. Place the whole beetroot in a foil parcel, wrapped really tightly so the steam doesn’t escape. Cook for around an hour (depending on the size of your beetroot) until tender. Once cooked, allow to cool in the foil parcel, this will make it really easy to remove the skins. When cool enough to handle slip the skins off and discard. Extra roasted beetroot can be used in salads or alongside dips such as hummus.


The Beans are Ready!

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We have got our dried beans all thrashed, cleaned, weighed, and photographed and are they ever beautiful! Check out the dried beans page of this blog to see all the varieties available this year (and our prices). Any orders received by November 28 will be sent to either North Battleford or Saskatoon with our monthly CSA vegetable delivery on December 3.

Winter Has Arrived

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We had such a beautiful October it was hard to believe that winter was imminent, but it has arrived – right on schedule! It seems that as soon as Halloween is over, the winter winds begin to blow and the snow is unleashed upon us, and this year was a textbook case. Harvest is finished, our gardens are frozen up and covered in a thin layer of snow, the strawberries have been tucked into their straw bed for the winter, and the hens have slowed down with their laying. This month we were able to come relatively close to meeting all our egg orders, but be forewarned that there won’t be a lot of eggs next month.

The seasonal shift is also evident in the vegetables we sent out on Sunday. The vegetable of the season: potatoes. Our crop was lovely this year, and we should have lots of potatoes to last through till spring. I will try to share a good variety of potato recipes through the winter to help keep you inspired (keeping in mind that my web access is more limited in the winter given the lower levels of sunlight and higher level of demand on our laptop with Christopher’s online high school classes). One of my biggest strategies is to substitute potatoes for the pasta or rice in many common recipes. We do still buy pasta or rice from time to time, but they are no longer the staples they used to be for our family; they have ceded that position to the humble spud.

Some of you have requested a potato adjustment (to half the usual amount of potatoes) in your winter orders, which we are happy to oblige. Unfortunately, our carrot crop was not spectacular this year (carrots were smaller due to no rainfall in August and September), so we are instead substituting beets for the potatoes you would have received. If any of you would prefer to go back to the full order of potatoes and fewer beets, please let me know.

Beets are another star of the season, and we sent generously this month (taking counsel from the members who came to pick up at the farm on Sunday). We’d be happy to hear your feedback on whether this quantity comes as a delightful treat or an overwhelming burden. I will also endeavour to share more of our favourite beet recipes through the winter.

The carrots we do have are scrumptious, and we sent two pails in each full share on Sunday, along with some beautiful onions, a small braid of garlic (the last garlic of the season), a couple rutabaga (these did not do particularly well this year), and a pail of beautiful parsnips.

We are nearly organized to start packaging this year’s dried bean crop, so keep your eyes open for an updated blog page. In the meantime, here is a wonderful vegetarian borscht recipe (adapted from Darra Goldstein’s The Winter Vegetarian) that uses a great many of the veggies in this month’s order:

2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced

1 small parsnip, peeled and thinly sliced

1 small rutabaga, peeled and thinly sliced

2 Tbsp olive oil

6 medium beets (1 1/2 lbs), peeled and finely chopped

3 medium potatoes, peeled and finely chopped

1 small celery root, peeled and finely chopped (I use some dried celery and leaves)

1 lb. White cabbage, shredded

2 quarts tomato juice

10 black peppercorns

3 allspice berries

1 bay leaf

1 1/4 tsp salt

1 Tbsp lemon juice

In a large stockpot, saute the onions, garlic, carrot, parsnip, and turnip in the olive oil until soft (12-15 minutes). Add the remaining ingredients (except lemon juice), bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Stir in lemon juice just before serving. Add minced dill and sour cream if desired.

Another favourite soup of ours that uses parsnips (and pumpkin, assuming you still have some around!) is Moosewood Restaurant’s Tunisian Pumpkin Soup:

2 cups chopped onions

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup peeled and sliced carrots

1/2 cup peeled and sliced parsnips

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 1/2 cups water or light stock

1 1/4 cups unsweetened apple juice

1/2 cup tomato juice

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp paprika

1 3/4 cups cooked pumpkin

Saute onions until translucent. Add carrots, parsnips and salt and saute 5 minutes. Add water or stock, apple and tomato juices, and spices. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer till the vegetables are tender. Stir in the pumpkin. Puree until smooth (although we are not able to do this step, and it still tastes fabulous!).

Make a spice swirl by heating 2 Tbsp olive oil in a small skillet. Saute 1 tsp minced garlic for a minute. Add 4 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground caraway, 1/4 tsp cayenne (I omit this) and continue to cook, stirring constantly. When it begins to bubble, remove it from the heat. Stir in 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, 2 Tbsp minced cilantro, and 1/8 tsp salt.

Ladle the soup into the bowls and top each with some spice swirl.

Many Hands Make Light Work

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A big thank you to all who were able to attend our fall pick up and harvest celebration! Many hands do indeed make light work, and it was just as exciting for me to see the empty(er) garden at the end of the evening as it is to see the first seedlings coming up in the spring. After a long season of rewarding work, we are definitely feeling ready to move into the winter slowdown (hence my less regular blog posts than during the summer season!).

First though, we need to finish the fall work. Top of the list this week are chicken butchering and carrot harvesting, with some garden clean-up fitted in as possible. As I write, I can hear Tom and the team out the window, picking up the vines we didn’t get to on Sunday.

I think carrots are our most popular vegetables (and I know we gained at least one member through carrots shared at a potluck), so it is highly satisfying to see the cellar filling up. Your enthusiasm makes the many afternoons of carrot digging and cleaning well worth while. Of course, it also helps that carrots are our family’s favourite vegetable. We could easily eat as many as I can clean and 2 pounds a day would not be at all unusual. Since we eat most of our carrots raw, I don’t have a ton of carrot-focused recipes. We simply don’t need them.

Instead, I thought I’d share a few recipes to inspire you as you prepare the various types of squash that you took home with you on Sunday, beginning with the chili I made for the potluck:

Vegetarian Chili

5 cups dried beans, soaked and cooked

1 cup red pepper, chopped

1 cup green pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

8 cups tomatoes, chopped

1 Tbsp salt

1 Tbsp honey

1 Largo winter squash

1 Hot Hungarian wax pepper

1 Tbsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

Saute the peppers, onion, and garlic in 1 Tbsp oil. Add tomatoes, salt, and honey and heat to boiling. Add beans, squash, hot pepper, chili powder and cumin and simmer for 45 minutes.

As for pumpkins, we have a favourite soup (with parsnips so I’ll post it once they’re dug), but our all-time favourite way to enjoy pumpkin is in muffins. Here’s our recipe:

Pumpkin Muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup bran

1 cup white flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp each ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves

Mix together in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add:

2 1/2 cups cooked and mashed pumpkin

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup honey

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Stir until just mixed, then pour into muffin tins and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

 

I have to admit that vegetable spaghetti is my least favourite of the squashes (though this may be because I tend to overcook it!). One way I do enjoy it at this time of year is in this salad:

1 spaghetti squash

8 cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 green pepper, chopped

4 scallions, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Prick the squash with a fork and bake at 350 until it’s easy to make an indentation in the shell with a spoon (about 45-60 minutes). Cut in half and remove the seeds and stringy flesh. Using a fork, gently scrape the remaining flesh to remove spaghetti-like strands of squash. Combine in a large bowl with remaining ingredients. Serve at once.

The Best of Both Worlds

Looking at the baby beets and new lettuce in this week’s order, one would almost think we had drifted back to early summer. And yet the order also includes a beautiful array of tomatoes (a mixture of Oxheart, Russian persimmon, small early red tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes), a mountain of zucchini, honeydew melon (plus another muskmelon for full shares), and Hot Hungarian Wax peppers (for winter members). The best of both worlds.

Here on the farm, harvest continues to go well. We have thrashed an impressive number of dried beans, braided the garlic, dug all the onions, and have even begun the potato harvest. It goes so quickly when no cleaning is necessary, and with chances of showers later this week, Judy is out digging as I write, trying to get as many potatoes as possible in while the going is still good. This week’s orders include the usual potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic.

Unfortunately, the combination of dry weather and cabbage moths have slowed our greens. The kale is no longer of good enough quality to send, and is beginning to resemble a row of twigs. I am still holding out some hope that conditions might improve in the fall, but those hopes are dwindling. The Swiss chard and perpetual spinach are hanging in there, and we have been able to continue sending the usual quantity, but the plants are not the size we would expect for this time of year.

Herbs continue to do well. Our basil plants are lovely, and will continue to produce until a touch of frost withers the leaves. We don’t have the huge plants for pesto lovers that we have had the past few years, but if you would like bulk basil for pesto, please let me know. We will try to pull the plants before frost and send them out to those who are interested. The purple basil continues to grow slowly but steadily, and the parsley is producing well. Our final seeding of coriander is bolting, but we’re hoping you like it enough to pull out the tough stems and use the finer leaves. The green onions are starting to get a little brown on the tips, but we hope you are still enjoying them as much as we are.

As for the cucumbers and zucchini, I had feared they were slowing down, but in fact they continue to give generously. This morning was our biggest zucchini harvest yet, so let’s hope the frost does indeed hold off a little longer!

You may have noticed that I didn’t get a blog post up last week; I’m afraid that harvest pressures prevailed. However, I have the sense many of our members are also enveloped in the chaos of the season, as I’ve noticed that we have had far fewer bags coming back to us than usual. Our emergency supply is dwindling, and with fall pick-up on the horizon, we will be needing all the bags we can get. So please, do your best to send them our way!

I also have a confession to make: I have stopped receiving a CSA share. The initial impetus for the cessation was the arrival of mice in our cellar. Mid-summer is not a usual time for mice in the cellar, and I wondered if the aromatic produce (that we don’t normally store during the summer) was attracting little critters. I hoped that maybe if we weren’t storing as many vegetables, the mice would depart. (No such luck, I’m afraid, and they seem to be unusually adept at outsmarting our traps.)

The other challenge I was having is that making good use of the CSA share was competing with other food use priorities. Christopher had a booth at the Meota Farmer’s Market this summer, making a bit of spending money by selling our excess produce. It was always tough to predict how much would sell, and often what came back amounted to nearly a full share’s worth of produce for us to consume.

In addition, harvest season often leaves us with large quantities of vegetables that are either not high enough quality for our members or simply not ripe at the right time. During pea and bean season, we pick three times a week to keep the patch going. Two of these times coincide with vegetable pick-ups, but the third is ours to deal with (keep in mind that all three pickings are more or less the same size, and that the first two feed a dozen or more families and the third is for our two families!). When we harvest cucumbers and send each share as many as we figure people can eat, the remainder come to our kitchens. And as I mentioned in an earlier post, collecting tomato seed leaves us with a large number of tomatoes to enjoy. I’m sure that those of you who garden can relate!

So we are still eating lots of vegetables, but not necessarily the same quantities of each one as you are. I am quite sure we have not been eating our share of zucchini, for example, but we do eat a lot and with the late start, I’ve limited our own use in order to send as much as possible your way. After today’s harvest, I would imagine this is no longer necessary! I suspect our cucumber consumption has also waned, now that our chief snacker has moved on to apples.

Lately, our menus have featured a lot of chilis (with zucchini), beet salad, greens with peanut sauce, Greek salad, potatoes, and lettuce salads. One of my favourite dishes for this time of year is an adaptation of the Summer Garden Ratatouille in Simply in Season. We don’t grow eggplant (which the recipe calls for) so I just add extra zucchini.

Summer Garden Ratatouille

2 onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

Saute in 3 Tbsp oil for about 5 minutes.

1 medium eggplant, chopped

1 1/2 Tbsp fresh basil (or 2 tsp dried)

1 Tbsp fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dried — I often use summer savory instead)

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp fresh marjoram (or 1/2 tsp dried)

Add and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is soft, about 15-20 minutes.

2 summer squash, chopped (I use zucchini, and double the quantity to replace the eggplant)

2 sweet peppers, cut in strips

2 cups tomatoes, chopped

Add and simmer until peppers and squash are tender, about 10 minutes, Serve over pasta or polenta (or I often serve with potatoes) sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley, black olives, or Parmesan cheese.

Another seasonal recipes recommended by one of our members is Mellas Family Lamb Stuffed Zucchini (from allrecipes.com). And check out the recipes page of this blog for zucchini salsa, zucchini brownies, and Syrian beet salad. Yum!

Treasure those melons!

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This has not been a year for melons, and I wasn’t even sure if we would be able to send any, but it is looking like we will have enough muskmelons to send one with each order. Just enough to tantalize you. Sorry! We do hope you enjoy your melon though.

The zucchini, on the other hand, are recovering from their slow start and have begun to produce well. We managed to send 8 per full order today. The cucumbers are still coming on strong, and the tomatoes are picking up the pace. We hope your enjoy the tomato variety pack this week: yellow, small red, large red, and cherry. We have also begun sending out bulk tomatoes to our winter members (20 lbs/full share), so do let us know if you have a preference as to when you receive yours.

Roots are growing well (potatoes, carrots, and beets), and the onions and garlic are all harvested and curing nicely. Our purple teepee beans are pretty much finished for the season, but the dragon tongue are hanging in there, at least for another week. This is a celery week too, so time to make some soups (or just munch on the fresh stalks!).

We still have lots of green onions, Swiss chard, and perpetual spinach as well. Unfortunately, as you will have noticed, our kale is getting to be quite bug-eaten. We have a lot of cabbage worms this year and they are feasting, let me tell you! We have decided that the kale is not nice enough to send, though if you miss it, just let me know and we would be happy to send some hole-ridden leaves.

Our family has been enjoying the tastes of autumn this week, and I hope you have too. The black bean and corn salad recipe I shared last week graced our table again a couple of times and the leftovers of the garlicky garbanzos (not) and kale (also shared last week) were transformed into soup, supplemented with leftovers from a stir fry of onions, dragon tongue beans, zucchini, peppers (I salvaged some of the hail damaged ones), tomatoes, corn, green onions and parsley.

We had pizza a couple of times, with basil, cherry tomatoes, and peppers as toppings. Last night’s pizza was a true definition of fresh food made from scratch: I made the cheese in the morning, Christopher ground the flour for the crust in the afternoon, and I made the sauce an hour before eating (with seed tomatoes, of course!). It was delicious!

I dried a fair bit of corn and we had a couple of Greek salads; a fabulous chili (with zucchini, of course); and a meal of beets, carrots, homemade cottage cheese with green onions and salt, and green onion pancakes. These pancakes are a little time-consuming to make (at least at this time of the year!) but fortunately my daughter loves them so much that she happily made them, and even doubled the recipe.

Green onion pancakes (from a cool book called Chinese Fairy Tale Feasts)

2 cups flour

3/4 cups hot water

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 Tbsp sesame oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2-3 green onions, chopped

Place the flour in a bowl, make a well in the centre, and add the hot water all at once. Mix into a soft dough, adding more water if necessary. Knead into a smooth ball. Let rest 20-30 minutes. Roll into a log, then divide into four pieces.

Mix the two oils in a small bowl, and the salt and pepper in another.

Roll each piece into a thin rectangle, brush with the oil mixture (leaving one long edge dry), sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and spread on 1/4 of the green onions. Roll it towards the edge with no oil and pinch to seal. Roll and stretch it into a cylinder and coil it like a cinnamon bun. Pinch the end and roll into a 1/4” thick pancake. Fry for about 3 minutes in 1 Tbsp hot oil. Flip and leave another 3 minutes on the other side.

Harvest has begun

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Really, we have been harvesting vegetables ever since the first asparagus stalk achieved several inches of height back in May, but this past week or two the harvest season has launched in earnest. Large stretches of our north garden have been emptied as we have harvested spent pea vines (fodder for the pigs and milk cow), seed peas, broad bean stalks (again, for the pigs), onions, garlic, and a variety of other seeds (poppy, parsnip, spinach, radish, and mustard). Seeds have been carried indoors or onto barrows in the sun to dry and onions and garlic are curing in dry parts of the garden. Tom has cultivated the empty spaces with the team of horses, making everything look beautiful and clean and, more importantly, removing the vast majority of the weeds before they have a chance to set seed.

Our kitchens have also been feeling the effect of harvest. Though we don’t have many apple trees of our own (we planted a couple last year and one of them has six fruits on it – triple last year’s yield!), others have generously offered access to theirs. I spent Friday in a canning marathon, putting up 57 quarts of applesauce. I don’t recommend trying this at home! I have been drying kale and apples, and look forward to drying some celery and corn in the near future. I did make one attempt at celery but an oversight on my part lost me the celery and two of my drying screens all in one go. I use the heat reserves in our wood-burning stove to dry produce, putting my drying screens in when the oven drops to about 200 and leaving them there until the stove is next lit. I place a piece of wood on the stove top as a reminder to check the oven before lighting the fire. Unfortunately, in my haste, I omitted this step and am now down two drying racks, as the screening melted when the oven heated up. (This is not the first time this has occurred, and unfortunately by last fall I had used up all the excess screening material left from when Christopher built me the screens.)

As for vegetables, this week’s order looks remarkably similar to last week’s: potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, garlic, corn, cukes, zucchini, beans, Swiss chard, perpetual spinach, kale, parsley, summer savory, basil, purple basil, green onions, and tomatoes. To protect the tomatoes, we send them separately, in a box. Sometimes they get sorted into bags before you arrive to pick up and sometimes they’re still in the box. Be sure to check and make sure you’ve got yours!

A few other notes: we have been sending celery by the full head this year, to save the trouble of dividing it. This means that you have been getting larger amounts less frequently, rather than a few stalks each week. We hope this is working ok for you.

We have been sending a lot of corn and summer savory, as the plants are nearing maturity. This will be the last week for both of these, unless you would like some additional mature corn for freezing. Let me know if this is the case. The summer savory dries very easily (just place the stalks in a paper bag and leave to dry, then strip the leaves off the stems) for enjoyment in winter soups and stews. We have also been sending a fair number of green onions, though not nearly as many as we could. If you would like extras, please let me know. There is no cost; we just don’t want to overwhelm anyone with the abundance.

Our hot weather crops (tomatoes, peppers, basil, melons) are all a little slow this year. The basil has finally recovered from its touch of frost early in the season, but it is not yet certain whether we will have the abundance we have in the past. But if the fall frost holds off a few weeks longer, we may have enough for pesto yet. Same goes for the peppers. Although we planted what we thought was a ridiculously large number, they are growing slowly. Given that they are a special treat at fall pick-up, we may wait until then to send them. On that note, please mark your calendars for fall pick-up the afternoon of Sunday, October 1. And we are still looking for a few winter members, especially in Saskatoon. Your help in spreading the word is most appreciated!

Part of my contribution to the seed saving we do for Prairie Garden Seeds is growing about a dozen varieties of tomatoes and saving their seed. This work is also beginning to take off. For those who are unfamiliar with tomato seed saving, it entails scooping the seeds of several very ripe tomatoes into a jar, adding a bit of water, letting it ferment for three days, rinsing, straining the seed, and drying it. We are aiming for seed from 40 tomatoes of each variety that we are growing, so this adds up to a lot of tomatoes! If you are wondering why my menus include more tomatoes than your have been receiving, this is the explanation. I generally can most of the tomatoes (as sauce or juice), but so far we’ve been able to keep up with eating them. I expect this will change soon.

We have been receiving several requests from non-members for tomatoes. Usually we have lots of extras, but it’s always hard to know until we see what the September weather is like. Members have top priority for our tomatoes (your 20 lbs/full winter share, plus any extras you would like for preserving). It would be helpful for our planning if those wanting extra tomatoes (we sell them for $1/lb) could let us know quantities.

This week’s eating was a bit unusual in that Shawn and I went for our annual anniversary get-away (to the exciting metropolis of North Battleford!). We bribe the kids to look after themselves with a wide array of store bought foods I don’t care to describe, and eat our meals in a restaurant. That took care of Monday supper and Tuesday lunch. Tuesday evening was farm meeting at Tom and Judy’s, so it was Wednesday before I really began cooking (other than the Greek salad I made on Sunday). On Wednesday Shawn made a tomato, bean, zucchini, and corn soup for lunch. Unfortunately, he does not use recipes, so I’m not able to share the details with you. Supper was corn on the cob, cooked carrots, broad beans (still in our cellar from the last order they were sent – oops!), and another Greek salad. On Thursday Shawn made a curried potato zucchini soup with Great Northern beans for lunch. We had black bean and corn salad (see recipe below), the final peas of the season, and boiled beets for supper. Friday’s lunch was the leftover soup, thickened up with some pasta. Shawn and the kids went to the fair while I canned applesauce, and I ate leftover bean salad for my supper. Saturday we finished off the curried pasta for lunch, and had a variation of garlicky garbanzos and kale for supper.

Black bean and corn salad

2 generous cups cooked black beans (I like black coco)

2 cups corn (boiled, then cut off the cob)

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (if you have any, unfortunately our third seeding is not coming along that well)

1/4 cup lime juice

1/2 tsp each salt and pepper.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

Garlicky garbanzos and kale

1 bunch kale, finely chopped (I used all the greens from a full share but found I prefer the dish wehn made with only kale)

1 tsp oil (I used bacon grease – thanks Candace!)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced

2 tomatoes, diced

2 cups cooked chick peas (I used black coco, but think it works better with chick peas or maybe a white bean)

1 tsp soy sauce (I used Bragg’s)

Heat the oil. Saute garlic and ginger. Stir in tomatoes and chick peas with a small amount of extra liquid if needed. Cook 5 minutes. Add soy sauce. Spread the kale on top and cook until tender.

Corn on the Cob

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This week’s new arrival: corn on the cob! Corn, cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, zucchini, celery … must be August!

Unfortunately, August can also be a good month for thunderstorms, and although we do not normally experience much hail, it has hailed three times here in the past couple of weeks. The first two storms didn’t do much damage, but our vegetables did suffer somewhat at the hands of the third. Fans of beet greens will notice that although the root veggies are growing well (this week’s order includes lovely potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, and garlic), we have not sent the beet greens. They were tattered by the hail. You will also notice some impact on the Swiss chard and perpetual spinach, though the tougher kale seems to have made it through ok.

Rather than sharing my family’s culinary adventures this week, one of our North Battleford members, Jen, has offered to tell us about how she is using her vegetables. Here is what she has to say:

Today I wanted to use up the last of the winter potatoes and chard and found this recipe for a potato/leek/chard frittata.

http://lexiscleankitchen.com/2016/08/31/potato-leek-chard-frittata-recipe/

I had a leek in the fridge, but could have used perennial onions instead. This dish was also great for catching up with the eggs. I wouldn’t recommend using new potatoes though, as they would make the dish watery. If you don’t have any storage potatoes left, you’ll have to wait a bit to use this recipe!

I also chopped the bit of greens I didn’t use. I will freeze them and will add to soups or make an East Indian bread when the hot peppers are ready. Recipe shared with CSA members a few years ago (or make it easy and get a bag of chili bites mix)

I served the frittata with raw peas and raw carrots, with a dessert of chocolate cake, ice cream, and berries.

Yesterday we grated the last of the winter carrots. Some will become carrot cake and some pickle soup (which also uses the potato and dill). But that’s another day. Yesterday was a variation on falafels (recipe below). I served them wrapped in a lettuce leaf and topped with a variation on tzatziki sauce with our delicious cucumbers, parsley, and green onions with steamed wax beans on the side. I enjoyed the leftovers for lunch with a beet soup (see recipe below).

With only 1.25 people eating the veggies this year I’m getting a bit behind so I took inspiration from Laurie D and puréed the mild greens and froze them in muffin cups. I will break off chunks for smoothies, soups etc.

Tomorrow will be BBQ meat of some type, steamed potatoes, steamed beans, and a salad.

My lunches at work have been a lot of salads with sliced beets, dill, cucumber, and egg, nut, or cheese. I did make a chowder one day this week as I thought I had leftover corn from the fall. Couldn’t find it but I was able to use up the cauliflower (great puréed in and cream soup) from the back of my fridge, various herbs, potatoes, and the frozen clam juice I did find in the freezer. I also had a bit of leftover bacon broad bean risotto left from last week and that was added to one of my lunches this week. This recipe is the reason we now love broad beans.

Chickpea Onion Patties (non-deep fried Felafels) (from Divine Healthy Food blog)

Serves: 2

 

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra light olive oil

  • 1 medium carrot, grated

  • 1 medium onion

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • ¼ teaspoon Himalayan/sea salt

  • ¼ cup fresh parsley

  • 1 can chickpeas

  • 2 tablespoons pure breadcrumbs

  • 2 tablespoons golden flaxseed meal

  • 1 tablespoon tahini

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon cumin

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • ½ teaspoon crushed fennel seeds

  • ¼ teaspoon Himalayan/sea salt

  • A few sprinkles ground black pepper

Frying

  • 1 tablespoon extra light olive oil (per 4-5 felafels)

Instructions

  1. Use a grater to grate the carrots into very fine little pieces. Peel and dice the onions into ultra small fine pieces. Peel the garlic and also chop it very finely. Combine the three chopped veggies in a frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil.

  2. Turn the heat on medium high (about 6 or right below, heat should not be red). Stir and cook the veggies for about 22 minutes, continuously stirring until parts have browned and there’s a nice fragrance. After 22 minutes, add the parsley and stir for half a minute and turn the heat off.

  3. Meanwhile in a large bowl, add the chickpeas after they’ve been drained and rinsed. Use a potato masher to mash the chickpeas. Then, add the breadcrumbs, flaxseed meal, tahini, paprika, lemon juice, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, fennel seeds (crush with your hands first), salt and pepper.

  4. Once the carrot, onion and garlic is ready, toss it in and stir until everything is well mixed. You may want to use your hands.

  5. Once everything is stirred evenly, use your hands to shape the mixture into a pattie, be sure to do it tightly so they don’t fall apart.

  6. Add 1 tablespoon of extra light olive oil for 4-5 felafels (or more if you want to use less oil). Add the felafels into the frying pan and immediately turn them around so the oil can coat both sides.

  7. Turn the heat to medium high (5) and let the felafels cook for about 6 minutes, then flip them over very carefully. Cook on the other side for 4 minutes, flip over again. Cook for 6-8 minutes, and flip over the last time and cook for a final 4-5 minutes.

beet soup

Winter Memberships Now Available

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Largo Farm Community Shared Agriculture is seeking veggie lovers to share in our harvest for the winter 2017/18 season.

The season kicks off the afternoon of Sunday, October 2 with our fall pick-up. As many winter members as are able join us at the farm for an afternoon of picking, digging, sorting, and garden clean-up. We enjoy a delicious pot-luck supper, have a brief business meeting, and send you off with a vehicle load of veggies. This includes your season’s worth of squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, garlic, and peppers; whatever remains of summer veggies (depending on when frost hits this year); and a month’s worth of root veggies. It’s a great opportunity to spend time in the garden and get to know one another.

From November to May, winter members receive two large cloth bags of storage veggies once a month. (One member from each of our circles – Battlefords and Saskatoon – comes to the farm to pick up for the rest of the circle, so each member comes only once over the course of the winter.) Carrots and potatoes are the mainstay, along with onions, beets, rutabaga, and parsnips. Below you can see some of our multiplier onions, beets, carrots, and winter squash (with more beets and carrots in the background).

winter veggies

And finally, we usher in spring with your first batch of asparagus!

The cost of a winter share is $650 ($675 after September 1) with half orders available for $425 ($450 after September 1). Smaller households are encouraged to find their own sharing partner and divide up the veggies themselves. This saves you money (since together you pay the full share price) and saves us the trouble of dividing orders here on the farm.

For more information or to sign up, see the community shared agriculture tab of this blog or call or text Janice at (306) 481-5654.