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Author: bloomingglenfarm

According to Ayurvedic tradition, every meal should contain all six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent, and pungent. Leaving one out will leave us unbalanced and under-nourished. Have you ever felt unsatisfied at the end of a meal, even though you are completely full? You were probably missing one of these key tastes.

We obviously don’t have a problem getting in the sweet and salty, but I know I shy away from the bitter. However, bitter foods have tremendous health benefits. They have a drying and cooling effect on our bodies (and what could be better in the recent heat and humidity?). They cleanse and detoxify our immune systems. They also help to manage food cravings.

I have to admit, I’ve been nay saying escarole for a while now – its bitter taste didn’t appeal to me and with so many other vegetables to choose from, it has been easy to leave escarole off the plate. But this week, I was reminded of the Ayurvedic taste-balancing philosophy, and was inspired to face my escarole fears.

Typically, escarole is eaten cooked, which diminishes its bitterness, but I couldn’t bear the thought of preparing a hot dish in this weather. This salad balances the bitterness of escarole with sweet fennel and oranges, pungent chive blossom vinegar, and rich olive oil.

Escarole Salad with Fennel and Orange

Chop or tear the leaves of one head of escarole, removing any yellowed outer leaves, much like you would a head of lettuce.

Cut off the stalks and bottoms of three bulbs of fennel, thinly slicing the bulbs across their width. To supreme (a fancy chef word for section) two oranges, first peel them with a paring knife, making sure to remove the white pith. Holding an orange over a bowl to catch the juice, slice between the white membranes of each segment, lifting the slice of orange out with the knife.  Save the juice and toss orange segments with the fennel and escarole.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together reserved orange juice with two tablespoons chive blossom vinegar*, ¼ cup olive oil, one teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper. Pour the vinaigrette over salad and toss.  

*To make this simple infused vinegar, stuff a jar full of cleaned chive blossoms. Pour distilled white vinegar over the blossoms and leave to steep for at least one week. If you don’t have it or can’t make it, replace the vinegar in the salad recipe with white wine vinegar and add a sprinkle of chopped spring onions or whole chive blossoms to the salad.

Text and photography by Kate Darlington – Blooming Glen Farm second year intern, Colorado native, and food lover. 

This week’s share has a few new crop additions: fennel, bok choy and kohlrabi. Kohlrabi is a close relative of broccoli- “kohl” meaning cabbage, and “rabi” meaning turnip. It is excellent cooked or raw. The leaves are also edible, and can be used like other greens. They make a wonderful slaw with fennel and turnips. Check out last season’s blog recipe

CSA Share, week 2, 5/29

Thunderstorms and heavy rain swept through the farm this past weekend and early this week, leaving the fields waterlogged. We are starting to get backed up on transplanting, as it is just too wet to work up the soil and make beds for planting. Our crew has been busy working on tomato trellising in the greenhouses.

The fields are soggy but inside the greenhouses is dry.

The crops that are in the ground, however, are soaking up the water and growing inches every day.

Super-sized escarole on the left, and napa cabbage on the right.

Looking ahead, the sugar snap peas will be ready for picking next week, the summer squash is almost there, and the string beans have little baby beans emerging from their blossoms.

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

One of the most frequent questions we get at the CSA pick-ups and farmers markets is what to do with pea tops (also called pea shoots or pea tendrils). The question should really be: what can’t you do?

You can eat them raw in salads and by the handful, throw them in a stir-fry, or put them on top of a flatbread. This recipe for rice salad is another that works great with the fresh and tender pea tops.

Rice salad is a staple summer lunch in Italy. When I was a nanny there, my host mother taught me this great trick for quick, wholesome, and fresh lunches. Make a pot of rice the night before so it has time to cool for lunch the next day. Come lunchtime (or in the morning when you are packing up for work, school, etc), you can throw together a delicious, hearty salad with whatever you’ve got on hand. 

I replace typical white Italian rice with whole-grain brown rice for a more nutritious spin. This incarnation uses some oven-dried cherry tomatoes that I preserved last year, but any “sun-dried” tomato will do. 

Ensalata di Riso (Rice Salad) with Pea Tops

Make a simple dressing by whisking together 1/3 cup olive oil, juice of one lemon, one clove of garlic, and salt to taste.

Toss a ½-pound bag of pea tops, 2 cups cooked brown rice, ½ cup sundried or oven-dried tomatoes, and ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese with the dressing.

It’s as simple as that!

Text and photography by Kate Darlington – Blooming Glen Farm second year intern, Colorado native, and food lover.

This week’s share sees the appearance of escarole, a bitter green often used in polenta or soups, most famously “Italian Wedding Soup”.  A CSA member kindly brought us a sample of his family’s recipe for this old favorite. I can’t wait for dinner tonight! Last years blog featured Jana’s version of this soup.

We also have a treat for this week- pea shoots. These shoots are grown in seedling trays on tables in our greenhouse, a labor intensive process, but well worth the early spring taste of peas. Speaking of peas, the sugar snaps are growing in leaps and bounds- they grew almost a foot over the weekend. Jill can hardly keep up with the trellising!

CSA Share week 2, 5/22/12

Week two at the farm brings passing thunderstorms. We have been busy planting between the showers. Crops going in the ground include watermelons, eggplant, green beans, and flowers. We have spotted the first small summer squash- it won’t be long before we enjoy these tasty treats.

Overheard in the distribution room were recipes being swapped, new friends being made and old friends reconnecting back at the farm after a winter away. There were also plenty of smiles leaving the strawberry field!

Blooming Glen Farm grows over 30 acres of vegetables every season. A lot of those vegetables go to our CSA, which has grown to over 400 participating families. As many of you know, we also attend three weekly farmers markets, sell to a few local restaurants and donate our leftovers to food pantries. But where else does our produce go? We sell a few crops each week to Zone 7.

Zone 7 is a farm fresh-distribution service that connects farmers and chefs.  Based in central New Jersey and named after our agricultural growing zone, Zone 7 works exclusively with the region’s best organic and sustainable farmers in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania to offer fruit, berries, vegetables, mushrooms, eggs, honey, cheese, grain products and other farm-fresh food.  Their mission is to strengthen our local and regional food chain by enabling restaurants, grocers and institutions to buy from and support small and medium-sized sustainable farms. Zone 7’s role is to act as a direct link between farmers and chefs.

Through Zone 7 our veggies end up on the plates of diners at restaurants like Triumph Brewery and Sprig and Vine in New Hope, and Huntley Tavern in Summit, New Jersey.

Kindergarten lessons about hakurei turnips with Chef Kim.

But it’s not just restaurant purveyors who enjoy local veggies. A few weeks ago thousands of Blooming Glen Farm’s hakurei turnips made their way into the hands of children in the West New York school district, thanks to the innovative thinking of Chef Kim Gray, Regional Chef of Nu-Way Concessionaire, the school districts food service provider.

“We at the West New York school district are part of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable grant from the state. We have six elementary school we provide fresh local produce to.  I have been working this year to incorporate more educational learning with the children. I have been going to the classrooms to discuss the produce we are sampling. With the younger grades we talk about the taste, texture, smells, and colors. The older grades we also include how the produce grows and where it comes from. That would be you!!!! It is a great program which we are very proud to be part of. I get all our produce from Zone 7. I feel it is very important to educate the children about why we are called the Garden State”. Chef Kim Gray

Learning about where the Turnips comes from, what they taste like and that you can eat the green leaf tops.

Chef Kim Gray attended the Culinary Institute of America and has been featured on Rachel Ray’s television program and in articles across the state. Chef Gray has overseen the meal programs in the West New York school district for five years. Prior to that she worked in corporate and healthcare food service. Her commitment to children and engaging them in making better food choices shows in the many improvements that have been made to the school’s programs. Chef Kim has been involved in working with the school’s staff to encourage healthy eating habits for their students and is currently working on getting her schools involved in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Healthy U.S. Schools initiative.

“The Kindergarten class and I had so much fun trying Hakurei Turnips!!! What a great class lesson on fresh vegetables.” Chef Kim Gray.

Written by Tricia Borneman, photos courtesy of Chef Kim Gray.

Hooray for the start of the CSA! I can finally start eating my vegetables again. Of course we have all been anxiously waiting for the familiar stand-bys, but one of my favorite things about getting vegetables from the CSA share is the variety of new vegetables that it exposes me to.

This week, we’ve got two veggies you might not be familiar with cooking: Tatsoi and Hakurei Turnips.

Tatsoi is an Asian cooking green closely related to bok choy. Its nickname is “spinach mustard,” which is appropriate since it has a spinach-like texture, and a mild mustardy flavor. It can be eaten raw in a salad, steamed, stir-fried, or thrown in a soup.

Hakurei (pronounced hawk-ur-eye) turnips are also Asian in origin. Sweet and tender, they are nothing like a big purple-top turnip you may be familiar with. No need to peel or cook, they can be eaten raw if you want. They do have a mild spiciness reminiscent of their cousin the radish. The greens can also be sauteed, but they tend to be on the bitter side.

Spring Stir-fry with Tatsoi and Turnips

To prepare hakurei turnips, trim the greens and the little roots from the bulbs of one bunch of turnips. Slice the turnips thinly.

In a very hot wok or large frying pan, melt one tablespoon coconut oil (or other vegetable oil). Add prepped hakruei turnips and one bunch of spring onions (including the green parts, roughly chopped). Stir-fry until turnips are tender, about 4 minutes.

While turnips and spring onions are cooking, roughly chop leaves and stems of one bunch of tatsoi. Add to hot pan and cook until stems are tender and greens are just wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Toss vegetables in 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, and 2 teaspoons light vinegar (such as rice wine vinegar, apple cider, or white wine vinegar). For the spice lovers out there, try adding a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Serve over quick-cooking rice noodles or hearty brown rice. For more protein as a main dish, add stir-fried chicken or tofu.

Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as side dish

Text and photography by Kate Darlington – Blooming Glen Farm second year intern, Colorado native, and food lover.

The CSA season is off to a great start. The strawberries are a few weeks earlier this season- juicy red and ripe, the early spring greens and roots are growing, and despite all the rain yesterday, spirits are high! Thanks to the (mostly) dry Spring we are happy to have spinach in the share- a first for Blooming Glen Farm. Spinach does not typically like our heavy clay soil, and it definitely does not like wet feet. So we are excited to have it for you this week!

CSA Share 2012, Week 1.

It was a wonderful sight to see all the familiar faces at the farm again- many of you celebrating your seventh season with us, as well as all the new faces- exploring the discovery garden, and eager to learn more about all the wonderful varieties of veggies in the share.

Ready to Harvest!

Our awesome farm crew is rocking it out every day- busy seeding and transplanting and weeding, and now harvesting for both the CSA and the farmers markets. The number of empty seedling trays that need to washed out every week are a great indicator of the number of plants going in every week. And believe me, it’s mind boggling!

Tatsoi in the field; weekly washing of empty seedling trays

The weather has been all over the map this Spring. April was a month of dry warm weather interspersed with freezing cold nights. Our crew spent many hours getting to know the large white sheets of row cover, or remay, which provides an extra 4-7 degrees of temperature protection on any cold-sensitive seedlings. The strawberries needed a double row of covers to keep their blossoms protected from the frosts and freezes, but then they also needed to be uncovered in the mornings for pollination to occur. No small task, all that covering and uncovering! 

Row covers, or remay, protecting the greenhouse tomatoes and field strawberries from the cold nights.

The early spring dry weather enabled us to get lots of crops in the ground right on schedule, now we hope the rainy days and damp weather doesn’t go for too long! We need the sun and warmth to ripen those strawberries, and dry weather will definitely help prolong the strawberry harvest by not encouraging molds and other funk to grow.

Strawberry field and garlic.

Most of our work on the farm in the Spring involves seeding and planting. The weeds have yet to really start growing, and what’s out there we are mostly able to get with the cultivating tractor. In addition to all the planting, we have been busy thinning turnips, trellising our greenhouse tomatoes and getting stakes and trellising lines on our field peas.

Head Lettuce, Trellising Heirloom Tomatoes, Baby Fennel plants

The official first on-farm CSA pick-up is next week on Tuesday May 15th and Thursday May 17th from 1-8pm. What can you expect the first week? Spring radishes and hakurei turnips, spring onions, spinach, bok choy, and head lettuce!

New members, don’t forget to read through the CSA Rough Guide before your first pick-up- this goes over all the logistics of pick-up, like BYOB (aka bring-your-own-bags), what to do if you go on vacation, and how to switch your pick-up day if needed. The Rough Guide will most likely answer many of your questions, so please check it out before next week!  Split partners- be sure to coordinate who will pick-up the first week. If you have yet to send in your down payment, please do so by the first pick-up to be sure you are on our “pick” sheet the first week! Unsure of your registered pick-up day? Check your invoice or email us!

 **We do still have some shares available, so please help us spread the word. Shares are also available for our abbreviated 16-week CSA boxed delivery share to Doylestown Presbyterian Church on Fridays. That delivered share will start in mid to late June.

We have two wonderful classes coming up this month at the farm. The first is on Saturday May 19th at 10am, a Strawberry Jam Canning class with Marisa McClellen of the very popular Food in Jars Blog. This is an amazing opportunity to learn from an expert in the canning world, and a great way to kick off strawberry season! Pre-registration is required for this class!

On Wednesday May 23 at 6pm herbalist Susan Hess will teach “Dreaming the Herbal Garden”, all about starting your own herb garden- whether in containers or in the ground. Click here to read more about Susan’s classes at the farm this summer. Pre-registration and Pre-payment is required.

Last Call for Pastured Chicken Shares! May 15th- postmark deadline. Don’t miss your chance for delicious, nutritious and local poultry, delivered to Blooming Glen Farm when you pick-up your veggies. For more details, click here.  Please contact Ledamete Grass Farm directly with any questions via email or phone: April and Rob Fix, Ledamete Grass Farm, 5471 Sell Road, Schnecksville, PA 18078. Phone: 610-767-4984, email: ledametegrass@gmail.com, website: ledametegrassfarm.com You can also read more on our recent blog post about Ledamete Grass Farm.

We are delighted that herbalist Susan Hess of Farm at Coventry is returning to Blooming Glen Farm this season.  From May to October she will teach a wonderful variety of herbal classes, as well as her very popular cheese-making class.

Susan Hess is a therapeutic herbalist, educator and proprietress of Farm at Coventry’s handcrafted herbal product line since 1997. Susan teaches a 9-month course at her homestead in Chester County, entitled “Homestead Herbalism”, now in its tenth season.

Below you will find the class descriptions and dates for the classes that Susan Hess will be holding at Blooming Glen Farm this season. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn from a master herbalist. You will be surprised at the many things that you can easily integrate into your own life, from first aid to wellness remedies, using both cultivated and wild herbs. You may sign up for as little as one class, or all seven, it’s up to you! (**If you do decide to sign up for all seven of the classes, one class will be free of charge!) Pre-registration (with payment) is required. To register, please click here. Registration is through Susan’s website: FarmatCoventry.com.

Dreaming the Herbal Garden: Make your dreams of an herb garden a reality this year!  Organizing a plan on paper; site preparation; seeds or transplants?; friends and invaders of the herb garden; container gardening; companion planting and more! Plenty of handouts and inspiration for following your herbal dreams! Wed. May 23, 6pm. Cost: $30

Soft Cheesemaking: It’s easy to make soft cheeses using farm fresh cow or goat milk and culture!  Unlike cheeses that need to be aged and carefully tended for months, fresh cheeses are ready to eat within a day and can be easily incorporated into any kitchen routine using basic kitchen equipment. Susan will demonstrate the simple step-by-step processes of making a soft cheese such as Chevre or Fromage Blanc and at the end of class we will sample a variety of cheeses. Instructional handouts, a resource list and one packet of culture is included in the cost of the class. Additional supplies will be available for purchase. Register early…this class has been wildly popular! Wed. June 27, 6pm. Cost: $30

Your Natural Medicine Cabinet: Keep your family healthy and comfortable the natural way! Discussion of gathering supplies for a natural medicine cabinet and first aid kit, quick home remedies using common kitchen ingredients and relief for stings, burns, tummy troubles, etc. As always, abundant handouts will be provided. Wed. July 11, 6pm. Cost: $30

Art and Craft of Topical Remedies: Understanding that the skin is the largest organ system in the body helps us to utilize herbs in ways that don’t always require ingesting them! This presentation will specifically focus on the craft of topical applications: from green plant poultices to warm tea compresses, plasters, liniments and more. Demonstrations accompanied by plenty of handouts. Wed. July 25, 6pm. Cost: $30

Infused Oils and Salve Making: Learn the time-tested secrets to making beautiful, consistently concentrated herb infused oils for creating your own homemade salves, massage oils and liniments. Susan will discuss the step by step process of making great herb infused oils and utilizing a wide variety of herbs. We’ll finish by making simple salves with the class. Participants will receive take home goodies and handouts. Additional supplies will be available for purchase to make your own at home! Wed. August 22, 6pm. Cost: $30

Preserving the Herbal Harvest: Join lively discussion and hands-on demonstrations of the many techniques for preserving the herbal harvest. Topics will include: proper harvesting techniques, proper drying and storage methods and basics of making vinegars, syrups, pestos, etc. Know what supplies to have on hand before you are blessed with baskets and buckets of your favorite flowers, berries and herbs. Abundant handouts, recipes and take home goodies will be provided. Roll up your sleeves…we’re going to work this one! Wed. Sept. 12, 6pm. Cost: $30

Winter Health~ Preventive Care and Comfort Measures:   Learn how to build strong immune health before the cold and flu season hits by incorporating simple preventive measures, utilizing tonic herbs and stocking up on nutritious foods in the kitchen. We’ll also discuss what to have on hand for acute symptoms of a cold and comfort measure for fever, coughs and sniffles. An additional emphasis on children’s health will be included. Abundant handouts and hot tea will be provided. Wed. Oct. 3, 6pm. Cost: $30

For more information about Susan, the ‘Farm at Coventry’ herbal product line, ‘Homestead Herbalism’ first and second year courses on the farm and 2012 Herbal Hands workshops please visit www.FarmatCoventry.com. To register for these classes at Blooming Glen Farm, click here. Pre-registration, with payment, is required. Contact Susan directly if you would like to register for all seven classes, and receive one for free. Questions? Please call Susan at 610-587-7301 or email farmatcoventry@aol.com

Susan Hess is a 1996 graduate of the prestigious Herbal Therapeutics School of Botanical Medicine’s 2-year Herbal Practitioner’s Program in Washington, NJ. (Currently called David Winston’s Center for Herbal Studies.) She has also completed the schools 1-year Graduate program and studied extensively with director and ethnobotanist, David Winston AHG (Professional Member of the American Herbalist Guild). In the past 15 years she has used her skills and training in the natural food industry and as a sales associate for Herbalist & Alchemist, Inc. of Washington, NJ.  Susan is qualified to consult with practitioners, retail stores and private individuals on the proper uses of medicinal herbal products. In 2000, Susan completed a clinical training at the Wellsprings Centre for Natural Healing in Fairfield, Connecticut with noted herbalists, Donald Yance, MH, CN, AHG (author of best-selling “Herbal Medicine, Healing and Cancer”) and Chanchal Cabrera, MINMH, AHG. She has also completed one year of apprentice studies with Jennifer Tucker, a well-known herbalist and author from Spring Mills, PA. To keep abreast of current herbal information, Susan regularly attends conferences and lectures throughout the Northeast.

 

Spring has officially arrived at Blooming Glen, and with it has come three new interns! This newest crop of folks joins us from far and wide across the country. With a few weeks of farming now under their belts, the interns are getting to know Blooming Glen, but the greater farm community still needs to get to know them! Over the next several weeks you will be introduced to all the new faces on the farm. This week we meet Mike Lasecki.

Mike, 25, comes to us from the Madison suburb of Middleton, Wisconsin. After graduating from UW-Madison with a BA in History and Conservation Biology, Mike has been working and living all across the country. From park ranging for the Middleton and Madison Parks Departments, to fighting wildfires in Washington State, Mike has been keeping busy with a wide range of adventures. Most recently, he and his girlfriend (Claudia, a fellow Blooming Glen Farm intern) lived and worked at Plowshare Farm, a residential community for adults with special needs. At Plowshare, Mike had the opportunity to do extensive land management work and try his hand at vegetable and dairy farming. 

“After I graduated from college I really didn’t know what I wanted to do for a living. I had a lot of different interests that I thought might be possible life pursuits, so I just decided to immerse myself in each to see what really fits me best. So far it has been fun and very educational.”

Mike describes his childhood as a “farm boy without the farm.”  He spent much of his formative years out in the garage with his dad and grandpa, splitting wood, fixing old tractors, and generally learning to do things with his own hands. Mike’s family has been in Wisconsin for more than 6 generations. However, a lot has changed even just within Mike’s own lifetime. During middle school, Mike’s neighborhood transitioned from waving corn fields to a gated community with a manicured golf course. The homestead (as he calls his family’s home) is now essentially an island-surrounded on all sides by a suburban country club. These changes in the land affected Mike deeply and contributed to his fascination with the relationships between people and natural places.

“I’ve always been attracted to farming.  I come from a family of farmers, been around farms most my life, and have always been an active vegetable gardener.  I think what attracts me the most to farming as a life pursuit is the combining of hard manual labor that’s rewarding with the mental challenges of planning and understanding a farm’s ecology.  That combination of physical and mental work just really excites me.  As for my first season here at Blooming Glen Farm I’d like to master the necessary physical skills needed to farm and increase my mental capacity and ability to plan a small farm.”

When he’s not farming, Mike enjoys picking his mandolin, practicing air bass, and hunting for wild edibles. He recently purchased a fishing license and can’t wait to get casting. We are excited to have Mike in our farm family!

Written by Claudia Hartley, first year Blooming Glen Farm intern, Washington grown, weasel enthusiast.