Life got busy and we literally just forgot to send you a blog last week! We'll make up for with lots of info this week.
This week in your baskets
That garlic is a hardneck type called Blanak. Over the next few weeks, you'll be receiving another hardneck and two softneck varieties, along with elephant garlic, so don't feel shy about using it up. Hardneck varieties make great roasted garlic, and they pickle well, too, but they don't keep as long as the softnecks do.
So here goes the recipe for making relish out of your basket. The only problem with it is that if you process the relish over the next day or two, your house will be unbearable. The alternative is not to cook anything, and to make cole slaw from the cabbage and a cucumber and onion salad from the cukes, distributing the peppers wherever you see fit.
1 head cabbage
any or all of the peppers (the serranos will increase the heat of the whole mix)
1 or 2 cucumbers, peeled if you like and seeded.
1 or two onions
2 or 3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup salt
2 quarts cold water
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp mustard seed
2 Tbsp celery seed
1 quart vinegar, any kind
Chop all the vegetables to about a 3/8 inch dice, remembering to keep out the seeds and pith of the peppers. Combine them all in a large bowl. Dissolve the salt in the water and pour over the vegetables; let them stand one hour. Drain, and taste. If too salty, rinse and drain again. Combine the vegetables, sugar, spices and vinegar; simmer 15 minutes. At this point you can pack the relish into jars, seal them, and refrigerate them once they've cooled down, or you can process them in a boiling-water canner for 15 minutes. You can also vary the spices to take your flavor wherever you want to go; one of my personal favorites is to use whole cumin seed instead of the celery seed and add a tablespoon or so of turmeric. You could also double the garlic, add some sliced fresh ginger, and eliminate the celery seed for a kimchee-type take on Western relish.
Save the Date!
We had originally scheduled the Farm Day for August 18. This is going to work out to be untenable for us. There are going to be road closures on all sides of us during the month of August, which will make it incredibly frustrating for those of you coming from the Portland area, especially if you're unfamiliar with our territory. Additionally, we will be under fire restrictions for the whole month, and we wanted you to have an event where you could roast marshmallows around a fire, and camp overnight if you wished. So, we are moving Ffynnon's Farm Day to September 29, and making it a bit more of a harvest festival. There will still be games and a band or two and lots of good food, but it will be cooler and much more pleasant. Stay tuned and look for the event to be posted both on our website and on our Facebook page.
The ODOT powers that be have been predicting Carmageddon (or is that Carpocalypse?) on Portland roads due to their major road renovation work on practically all the freeways at the same time. We have been into town a few times now, and things actually seem to be better than non-construction days. Perhaps everybody has taken ODOT's advice and stayed home or left town. Regardless, we're going to be starting out early in the morning on Thursday to make sure that we get your veggies to you on time and in good shape.
This week, those vegetables include the first of the peppers, both Gypsy peppers and jalapenos. We also have cucumbers (a slicing variety, Marketmore 76), green beans (Provider bush beans), and my favorite of the week, a red butterhead lettuce called Alkindus.
On a side note, I misnamed the lettuce you got last week. I had said it was a variety named Sylvesta, when actually it was an earlier variety named Mirlo. This stuff probably doesn't matter to anybody but me, but I still want to be correct. As far as this week's very red lettuce is concerned, I feel very motherly about it. Red lettuces are just not as hardy as their green sisters. It's not that they don't germinate--fresh lettuce seed of both red and green varieties is extremely viable. It's adolescence that's hard on the reds; a little too much sun here, a little too little water there, and pretty soon there are gaps in the rows. I like the look of it, though, both in the field and on the plate.
The gypsy peppers are an extremely mild (like, no heat) variety, similar to the Romanian Antohi peppers I've been growing for the last couple years. You can stuff them or roast them or put them in a stir-fry, or make up a mélange with the jalapenos and green beans.
A real revelation, if the weather is cool enough for you to cook, is to saute the cucumbers. Once again, this is not a recipe but a technique, and not the braising technique from the movie Julie and Julia. Simply peel the cucumbers and then use a spoon to core out the seeds, then slice them into half moons about 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick. Melt about a tablespoon of butter into a pan over medium heat, throw in the cucumber slices all at once (pat them dry on a towel first if they're really juicy), and season liberally with salt and pepper. You can also add about a teaspoon of sugar after they have softened and browned a bit; it certainly changes the flavor and helps with any residual bitterness. I like them both ways, and either way it should take less than five minutes to cook. Or, you can add these to the green beans that you've parboiled and then fried for a few minutes, or toss all of the veggies together and bake them in a gratin with cream and Parmesan, topped with seasoned bread crumbs, or...the possibilities are truly limitless. Use the red lettuce as a bed for all of the other veggies, cooked or raw, accent with hard cooked egg and capers, then maybe serve with a home made mayonnaise that you've blended an anchovy into...I've got to stop.
I'd like to thank everybody, by the way, for letting us know ahead of time when you're going on vacation, and for returning your baskets in a timely fashion. It certainly has made it easier for us to get your food to you, and has made our site hosts much less anxious than they've been in past years. Everyone, give yourselves a pat on the back from us. You are the reason we do this.
We hope everybody had a safe and sane Fourth of July; we certainly had a good holiday but today's post will be a bit short because of it. As I had mentioned last week, we were hoping for our everbearing strawberries to come on this week, but such was not to be the case. So, we are bringing you fresh raspberries, a mix of the Cascade Dawn and Cascade Delight varieties. The spinach that we didn't send you last week is here as well, mature but not bolted and still tender. Your lettuce this week is a baby butterhead variety, Sylvesta. Boldor golden beets and the first of the year's zucchini round out the baskets this week.
Once again, this week's recipe is not a recipe, but a technique that you can use with many vegetables. I don't know how many of you have tried cooking pasta and veggies together, but it is a revelation how easy it is. Simply cook a pot of pasta as you ordinarily would, including at least a tablespoon of salt in the cooking water. Then, in the last three or four minutes of cooking, add chopped or diced raw vegetables to the pasta. The zucchini and the spinach can both be used this way; if you have a spiralizer, you could also add the beets in the last minute or so. Drain the pasta and veggies, reserving a little of the cooking water, then toss everything with butter, cream, and Parmigiana (or if you're vegan, olive oil and nutritional yeast). By the way, if you like beets and summer squash and the like, I highly recommend getting a spiralizer. I know that some of them are good and some brands are terrible; maybe some of you have a favorite brand that you'd like to tell the rest of us about?
This week sees us kicking up the root crops, brassicas, and alliums, while we wait for the "real" summer crops to kick in. The brassica family is represented by both arugula and radishes; red onions (Red Wethersfeld) and leeks (King Richard) are here from the allium family; and the first of the potatoes, baby Red Norlands, also make an appearance.
The radishes might be a bit of a surprise to you, as they certainly were to me. I checked on this particular planting, which is a variety named Sora, exactly one week ago. They were coming along nicely, but none of the samples that I picked was bigger in diameter than, say, a dime. Promising, but I thought they would stay that slow-growing and wait for harvest until next week. Then this morning, while I was checking other crops, I happened to take a look at the bed these radishes were in and--kablooie! Jack and the Radish Stalk! Ordinarily, I would have written the crop off as a loss, but I kept testing them as I pulled them, and not one that I sampled was woody, or too hot, or bitter, all things that can happen to overgrown radishes. So I'm passing the phenomenon on to you, hoping that you'll be okay with radishes (some of them) the size of turnips. Slice them thinly and make little sandwiches with a good artisan bread and unsalted butter, or make a quick pickle, or saute them with olive oil or braise them in vegetable broth. They're great in salads with their fellow bitter herb, arugula. Or you could chop the arugula finely and use it as a garnish on potato leek soup, or vichyssoise:
Chop the leeks into small pieces.
In a 6-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks and a heavy pinch of salt and sweat for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook until the leeks are tender, approximately 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the potatoes and the vegetable broth, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until the potatoes are soft, approximately 45 minutes.
Turn off the heat and puree the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in the heavy cream, buttermilk, and white pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Sprinkle with chives and serve immediately, or chill and serve cold.
The website I stole this recipe from says that it recommends pairing this with a sauvignon blanc, but if you serve it chilled, I would think a sparkling Pinot Grigio would be at least as good, if not better. If it gets warm this weekend, that's definitely something I'm going to have.
And now, a couple of notes about some things that are not in your basket this week. I had a planting of spinach that is ready right now. However, you've gotten spinach in your baskets the first two weeks already. I made myself a promise at the beginning of this season (although I'm pretty sure I never actually articulated it as a commitment) that I would not bring you the same vegetable, and in particular the same variety of the same vegetable, more than two weeks running. So, no spinach this week. If the crop holds out until next week, so be it and all to the good. The other item that is significantly not in your baskets is strawberries. Our berries have been coming on very slowly this year. They are everbearing varieties (TriStar, Honeoye and Eversweet), so they're not expected to bear heavily very early, but it's getting on in the season and for two weeks we've been just shy of the quantity we need for you. I really wanted them for you last week when we had rhubarb, which is the combination God intended. So, even though probably nobody has noticed, here is my promise to you for next week: your baskets next week will contain berries. They may not be strawberries; if we can't get enough strawberries for you we will trade with our group of friendly farms (all of whom do organic practices or better) to get you raspberries or blueberries, both of which are coming on like gangbusters. Until then, enjoy the weather and Happy Eating!
I'm busily packing up the vehicle to head your way with this week's shares. It's going to be a fun week this time around, with items that perhaps you haven't tried before. This week's shares will include spinach (the same variety, indeed the same planting, as last week), green cabbage (Farao, an early variety), Romaine lettuce, and garlic scapes. We also have rhubarb this week, as well as more of the Greek oregano.
Rhubarb is a fun vegetable that is tart and sprightly. It must be cooked before eating it (or pickled, which chemically amounts to the same thing), and is extremely tart, so a sweetener is necessary. My favorite way to have it is simply as a sauce or compote: cut the stalks into one-inch chunks, add about a cup of water and at least a half cup of sugar, and simmer uncovered until the chunks are tender, about twenty minutes. I like to add a teaspoon of vanilla as well. This is fantastic warm or cold on toast or over vanilla ice cream. Or if you're adventurous and you have an ice cream maker, you can make an excellent homemade rhubarb ice cream. You can also make a chutney with it--simply replace the apples with rhubarb in any chutney recipe. You could, in that same chutney, use the garlic scapes (or whistles) in place of the onions.
Garlic scapes are the flower stalks and buds of hardneck garlic varieties. We cut them from the garlic plant as soon as they appear in order to allow the plant to direct energy into bulb growth. They are milder than the bulbs, but still distinctively garlicky. You can use them in any number of ways--grill or roast them as you would asparagus or green beans (they like the same accompaniments, like lemon, mayonnaise or hollandaise, Parmesan cheese or capers), or use them as an onion substitute, or make a pesto out of them. That's actually why I included the oregano again this week; well, that and the fact that I had enough to harvest for you before the oregano bloomed. We made an oregano pesto about a week ago with the entire bunch of oregano you got in your baskets, plus the juice and zest of one lemon, plus a couple spring onions. I'm going to do the same again tonight, only trading out the onion for a handful of garlic scapes.
Happy Summer Solstice and Happy Eating,
Greetings Ffynnon Farm Share Members!
Today is the day of your first delivery of harvest shares. Thank you once again for allowing us to play with your food. Today's baskets will include smooth-leaf spinach, radishes, leaf lettuce, and green onions. In addition, we'll be including bunches of oregano and spearmint in your shares.
What to do with those herbs?
Well, you can use the mint in this week's recipe for a mojito (or four). Take eight torn-up sprigs of mint and put them into a cocktail shaker, or any thing else you can put a lid on. Add a generous amount of ice, six tablespoons of fresh lime juice, four tablespoons of sugar, and six ounces of white rum. Shake it extremely well. Extremely well. Then pour it all into four highball glasses, top each glass off with club soda, and then garnish with whole mint sprigs and lime slices.
You can also do marvelous things by preserving the herbs. Mince the oregano, and then divide into ice cube trays in portions of one or two tablespoons. Fill the ice cube trays with water, vegetable or chicken broth, olive oil, or lemon juice. Once frozen, you can pop the cubes into freezer bags to have fresh herb flavor throughout the year. The mint works exactly the same way, but you might not want to pack mint into olive oil unless you do a lot of Greek cooking. By the way, the combination of mint and oregano is a Greek and eastern Mediterranean staple. Give it a try--but be cautious. Feta cheese cubes marinated in olive oil with mint and oregano is a joy.
Mustard greens are from the brassica family, and have that family's light bitterness in their flavor profile. I like them braised in just a little broth (they almost have enough water in them to braise themselves) with bacon or pork belly, onion or garlic, and either a shot of good vinegar or some lemon juice. In fact I'm going to come out right here and make a pronouncement: keep a fresh lemon or two in your fridge at all times. They go with anything, they practically scream "summer," and they bring out the best flavors of fresh foods. It's an indulgence, but aren't you worth it?
Eggs, eggs, eggs!
Eggs are going to all our locations today except Inner Southeast. Our girls have been literally working their asses off getting things ready for today. Some of them are very young (born in January) and are just coming on line. For a few weeks, their production is erratic both in frequency and quality and size of the eggs. We've been eating these "practice eggs," some of which are tiny, or contain yolks only. That leaves the good eggs, the big, hard shelled ones, for you. The eggs you get today mostly weigh out at 56 grams (two ounces) or above, which is the USDA standard for "large" eggs. There may be an occasional one at 55 grams, but that's as small as we'll go this year for your egg shares. We may offer some medium eggs (50-55 grams) at a lower price later on if we keep accumulating large quantities.
Again and again and again, thank you for getting a share of Ffynnon Farm 2018. We hope you enjoy the baskets!
Thank you for joining Ffynnon's Community Supported Agriculture program for the 2018 season. We're happy to see so many familiar names in our subscription list, along with a large number of first-time members. We appreciate your trust in our efforts and want to welcome you to the Ffynnon community. Your first CSA delivery be one week from today, Thursday, June 14, from 3 pm to 7 pm.
You should have received an email linking to this article. That email contains the address of your pick-up site and any details you need to know about it (some pick-ups are in back yards, for instance). It also tells you what week your eggs will be delivered if you purchased an egg share. Remember, egg shares are for ten dozen eggs over a twenty week season, so deliveries will be every other week. This also means our girls won't be under as much deadline pressure.
Your CSA basket will be, literally, a basket. We ask that you try to return these baskets, and the egg cartons, to us each week so that we can keep our necessary inventory of these items down. Your basket will have your name on its tag; if you have a friend pick up your produce please let them know this--we had some baskets going home with the wrong members last year because of this.
We also ask that you please respect your site hosts by helping to keep the pick-up area neat and by picking up your baskets in the allotted time. Also, if you can't make it to the pick-up site for your basket, please let us know as soon as possible. The best way to communicate with us on delivery days is to text Joel at 503-313-7839. Our hosts get worried that something has gone wrong otherwise, and so do we. We don't want to add anxiety to folks who are already being incredibly gracious in opening their spaces to us.
The weather has been fantastic so far this year and has allowed us to get a jump start on some of our warmer weather crops, so you may see some of those main-season vegetables earlier this year. We are also looking forward to strawberries as early as possible. Our returning customers know that we have the "everbearing" types of strawberries at Ffynnon, so that while we may be later than farm stands selling June-bearing fruits, we sometimes keep getting berries until late September.
We may not have made our first delivery this year, but we'd already like to thank you for supporting Ffynnon's CSA program. If you took part in our recent GoFundMe campaign to secure the farm's future, we are doubly grateful. One way we'd like to say thank you is by inviting you all out to Ffynnon for Farm Day, Saturday, August 18. We know that's a long way away, but we also know how many different events compete for your attention in the summertime. Details are still being set, but we know that there will be live music, games and treats for kids and adults, walks in the woods, and maybe the chance to eat a carrot right out of the ground--or to try to pet a chicken. So mark your calendars and watch this space for details.
Ostara Easter Egg Hunt at Ffynnon
Gate opens 10 am
First Hunt ages 3-5 from 10:30 – 11:30
Second Hunt ages 6-10 from 12:00 – 1:00
All Ages Treasure Hunt teams ages 10+ 1:30-3:00 / Runs concurrent with Egg Painting
Gate closes 4:00
Candy, colored eggs, and prize eggs at each hunt
Coloring books and crayons
Big chocolate egg special prizes
Chocolate Bunny Grand Prize
All Ages Treasure Hunt Prize
You get to name a tree at Ffynnon as your very own with its GPS location, certificate of carbon sequestration, and a rustic wooden bench nearby to sit on.
Free Friend of the Trees Membership at Ffynnon for Life
Ffynnon Tee Shirt
$25 Gift certificate
Coffee, hot chocolate, tea, and cookies served throughout the event.
January 1, 2018. A lovely clear day, warm enough to walk in with just a light jacket yet cold enough for the frost fairies to still hang out at Alder Junction.
I got a GPS tracking app, Map My Hike, as recommended by my friend Katrina and carefully walked every inch of trail and connecting spur at Ffynnon. I now have what I've wanted for quite a while - a truly accurate map of Ffynnon's interior space, where we have been working, and what areas are untouched.
OK, I think it's really cool. Some things that I thought faaaar away from it all are actually relatively close, just curled about in such a way as to seem distant. Other areas that seemed quite close are actually a longer hike than I realized. I suppose that's an effect of the elevation change we have of over 200 feet from the bridge near the Ancestor Shrine on the S. Ravine Loop Trail to the God Shrine up on the ridge where the Doug Fir give way to Red Cedar, Alder, and Big Leaf Maple.
Winter hiking is a treat. You get to see the forest in a way that is obscured by summer's lush foliage. I can clearly see the movement of water across the land. I can easily spot the few dead trees we have and plan for either their removal or allowing them to remain as habitat for the creatures that make dead trees their home and/or food source.
It's like the forest is inhaling in summer, filling its leaves with the green fire and becoming brushy and fat, and exhaling in winter, letting all the deciduous leaves return to the cycle and showing the secret spaces between that are otherwise hidden.
There's so much life going on. Salamanders are slooowly swimming through the winter waters that full every low spot in sight. The frogs are actually peeping, even though frost stays all day in the deep shade on the south side of the hills.
Ffynnon is so alive, and I feel grateful to be a steward of this magical place. I feel grateful for being part of a group of people who share a common vision and who continually open to both the new, and the now. The CSA field is resting from last year's labors. The chickens and all of our new chicks are doing well. Next year our flock will top 50! We have ambitious plans Ffynnon and I'm looking forward to getting to work.
Today I'm cutting firewood with a new friend Chris Morasky. We've just about used up the last of the stores created by the cutting of the Dionysos Circle several years back. Now that was an adventure!
I'll end with this: May each of us take a moment and be thankful for the stewardship in our lives. May we realize that our bounty comes from the earth and rests on the broad shoulders of those who have gone before. We arrive, share the labor and the fire at the center of the circle for a short while, and step back into the dark, making room for the new and unexpected. May our lives be filled with gratitude and shaped like a prayer of love.
Thank you Ffynnon, for this day...now I'm gonna go play in the woods.....!
To our honored CSA members:
As you know, this is the last of our twenty weeks of the 2017 CSA season. Once again, my thanks go out to all of you for your kindness, your photos, and your recipes. Tasha will be sending out a survey in the near future; we would appreciate it if you would take the time to help us improve our offerings and our service for next year. On a housekeeping note, we will be making this last delivery in paper bags so that we don't make you bring back your baskets next week. Please check around your house to see if you have any of the baskets lying around. We'd like to get them back today so that we can use them again for next year's season.
Today's basket (okay, today's paper bag) contains a mix of root vegetables, including turnips and rutabagas, and a handful of apples (Jonagold) and pears (Bartlett). The rutabagas are in there because of a conversation I had with one of our members. I happened to mention to him that rutabagas are always at the bottom of the list when CSA customers are asked about their favorite vegetables. He quickly responded that they were always among his favorite vegetables, and that he and his mother were looking forward to getting some. I went out and planted some the next day. I would highly recommend using the turnips and rutabagas in a scalloped vegetable casserole. Simply replace some or all of the potatoes in a scalloped potato recipe with these other root vegetables, peeling and slicing them to the same thickness as the potatoes. The other best use would be in a fall vegetable soup, possibly with the apple or pear added in.
We would like to take this opportunity to invite you to Ffynnon's second annual Cider Squeeze, next Saturday, November 11, from 11am to 2pm. We have a big pile of apples that aren't ready for prime time, but are perfect for making cider. Bring your own container (like a growler, or a 1-gallon glass jug, join in the chopping, crushing and squeezing, and take home some fresh juice. There are more details on our Facebook page.
Once again, all of us here at Ffynnon thank you for your patronage. If we don't see you at the Cider Squeeze, we look forward to serving all of you again next year.
All the best,
Joel, Michael, Tasha, and Neal.
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