Thursday, September 9, 2010

Well, it looks as if the sunny weather is on our side for our Open House on Saturday afternoon. Please plan on joining us this Saturday, September 11th, beginning at 4pm. We will have children's activities, great raffle prizes, live music, potluck dinner and a bonfire!

The sunny , dry weather has been persisting for sometime. I guess now is the time we can be grateful for all of the snow we had over the winter, as our groundwater reserves are not yet depleted! Even though a drought warning has not yet been issued, please be sure to be judicious with your water usage! - and, hope for some rain sometime soon!

You may have noticed that our stand by greens (kale and collards) are taking a rest, as the extreme heat and insect populations have taken their toll on them. But, we have been harvesting some new greens that are now ready (Yukina Savoy, Komatsuna and Tokyo Bekana). They are all delicious greens and are quite interchangeable in recipes.

The tomatillos are coming on! You'll notice that the tomatillos have a papery skin. When harvesting them, you want to be sure that the fruit inside is flush with the skin. They need to be peeled and washed, as the paper leaves a sticky film on the fruit. Then, you can dice them and use them raw in salsa. I prefer to cook them before I use them. You can either roast them (by sticking them under your broiler) or boil them for 5 minutes. Then mix them with onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice.

Recipe for the week:
Beef Stew
The crisper weather that we have had the past few days has gotten me cooking some stews and soups again!
Here's an idea to use up all of the ingredients in the share to make a simple one pot meal.

Coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, butter, lard or tallow
1 pound beef cubes (preferably Ben's grass fed beef!)
2 onions, cut into large dice
1 jalapeno or poblano pepper, diced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon coriander
4 turnips, halved
3- 4 carrots, cut into large dice
1 pepper, cut into large cubes
1/2 cup homemade beef broth or water
1 large bunch greens, chopped.
Juice of one lemon
Parsley, cilantro or mint (or a combination of all three)
Sea salt to taste.

Heat oil in a large pan. (When pan frying meat, it is best to use a healthy stable oil such as coconut oil, lard, tallow or palm oil)
Add beef cubes and let them sear on both sides.
Remove beef cubes to a plate.
Add more fat if necessary. Add onion, jalapeno or poblano and spices. Allow to cook for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Add turnips, carrots and pepper. Saute for another minute. Add beef cubes back into the pot. Add 1/2 cup water or beef stock and let simmer for 40 minutes.
Add chopped greens and cook until wilted. Add lemon juice and season with salt. Add fresh herbs and serve.

* You can use any combination of spices with this stew- you can give it more of a Mexican flair by using cumin and hot pepper and top it off by mixing in fresh tomato or tomatillo salsa.

* Another variation is to substitute beans (chick peas, black beans or lentils) for the meat.

See you around the farm!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Such a pleasant day at Pleasant Pastures!!!

This past Sunday, Sam and I and our friends (and CSA members) Cindy and Kevin Koser, attended dinner at the home of Ben and Anna Stoltzfus of Pleasant Pastures Organic Farm.

When we arrived, Ben and his son Aaron were relaxing outside as Anna, Mary, Katie and Fini were finishing up the preparation of the meal. We were having a "Haystack Meal", an apparantly fun and easy meal that many Amish people share together. Approximately 8-12 ingredients are set out on the table in separate bowls and guests each build their own "haystack" and top it off with a sauce or a dressing! For our particular meal, Anna placed bowls of crumbled crackers, their delicious grass fed ground beef, incredibly creamy brown rice (mixed with milk, cream and a touch of stevia!), onions, shredded carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, their delicious cheddar cheese, and the piece de resistance, crispy bacon!! She then made a sauce with their cup cheese to top the whole thing off. (Cup cheese is an Amish dairy specialty item with the consistency that falls somewhere between cottage cheese and yogurt!). What a fun way to enjoy this food that they lovingly grew and prepared! We were so thankful. Oh, can't forget dessert- peach cobbler with Ben's vanilla ice cream!!

After the meal, we got to take a farm tour. Well, we were separated a bit for the tour- Ben and the other men had one tour and Anna and the girls, and Anna's seven year old son, Yonnie, were on another tour! We met the horses, the cows, the pigs and the chickens. Everything was so peaceful and we were so grateful for it all as we walked around! At 4:30 pm everyone changed out of their Sunday best into work clothes in order to start milking the cows. We got to watch a bit of this as well. Watching Ben's efficiency in handling and milking the cows was quite incredible and there was this beautiful sense of calm in the stalls. The milk was then transferred to the holding tank, where Mary competently began separating the cream, both for cream and sour cream. The skim milk that was separated goes to supplement the pigs. Oh, the pigs... We met the 300 pound pigs that will be part of our October order of pork chops!
Possibly the most impressive part of the tour was seeing their storage facility. A nicely sized walk in cooler and a huge freezer for all of their meats.
It was then time to say goodbye. We were all so thankful for this opportunity to get to know Ben and Anna better and to express our gratitude for a wonderful day.
Please help support Ben and his family- they work so hard to produce these delicious nutrient dense foods for us. He will be delivering again next Friday (September 10th).

A warm welcome to Jenna Lombardo, our newest intern. Jenna just graduated from Downingtown West. She is taking a gap year before persuing other schooling and will be working with us most likely through the winter. A great big thanks to Dave Gardener who has been holding down the fort this week!!

Don't forget about our open house on Saturday September 11th beginning at 4 pm.
We will have kids' activities, live music, raffles, Victory Beer, organic wines and a potluck dinner beginning at 6 pm. Invite your friends!!!
There will be a sign up sheet in the barn.

Happy Labor Day!! Due to the holiday on Monday, the CSA pick up will take place on Tuesday September 7th from 1-7.

Now that the kids are back in school, keep in mind that Maysie's Farm does school group programs in the fall and spring. You can register your child's class , scout group or sports team for a "Down to Earth Gardening Workshop" or "Cooking on the Farm" by calling and speaking to Sam or Annmarie.

Stuffed Tomatoes:- this is a great way to use some of those bigger tomatoes you are getting in the share. It is also quite beautiful with the yellow and orange tomatoes!
4 large tomatoes
3 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup basil, minced
1 clove garlic minced
sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the insides. Chop up the pulp. Mix the pulp with the cheese, basil, garlic and sea salt. Fill the tomato shells and bake until cheese is melted and slightly browned (about 10 minutes). Serve warm.

Recipe Variations:
  • Cook up some of Ben's delicious ground beef with garlic and add that to the mixture above.
  • Make a mixture of bread crumbs, parsley, parmesan cheese, garlic, and anchovy. Mix it with the tomato pulp and stuff the tomato.
  • Add capers and olives to any of the combinations!

See you around the farm!