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Author: bloomingglenfarm

Surrounded by seed catalogs, and a revised copy of last year’s 15 page planting chart, we cull together the seed order for 2012. Spread out before us are a few choice catalogs from our favorite seed companies, as well as a few that we like for their descriptions and photos, (but not necessarily their pricing!). Within these pages are contained hundreds of varieties, some depicted with simple black and white line drawings others with glossy photos of the ideal harvest. While we have our tried and true favorites that we grow every year, the catalogs always entice us with new and interesting selections. Often times these new varieties come with outrageous claims of high yields and perfect fruits (we know better). We select varieties with great flavor, that meet the needs of our climate, our soil and our particular disease and insect pressures, while also taking into account what has worked for us in the past, and what other farmer friends have recommended.

Another important consideration when we order seeds is the origin and production of those seeds. As organic growers we always look first for organic seeds. The majority of our seeds are ordered from Johnny’s Selected Seeds (Albion, Maine) and from Seedway’s Untreated and Organic Vegetable Seed catalog (Elizabethtown, Pa). We also fill in with seed from places like Fedco and The Maine Potato Lady.

Organic Beet Seed

Lucky for us the seed companies we order from have begun to increase their breeding efforts (done through traditional breeding methods) with the specific needs of organic growers in mind.

As a certified-organic grower and handler, Johnny’s Selected Seeds is able to offer a wide selection of organic seeds produced on its own farm as well as from numerous seed producers worldwide, often from universities like Cornell (developers of our favorite winter squash, bush delicata) and North Carolina State.  If you are confused about traditional plant breeding vs. genetic engineering, take a look at this great page on Johnny’s website where they talk about some of their traditional plant breeding trials. Johnny’s does not sell genetically modified seeds and it does not breed new varieties using genetic engineering. Rather, it breeds plants using traditional methods, a slow and painstaking process that can take eight years or more from the first selection to seed sales. One of the results of their breeding trials, Sunshine, is our favorite winter squash.

Even when an organic selection is not available, we make sure to purchase from seed companies that have signed the Safe Seed Pledge.  Johnny’s Selected Seeds was one of the original signers of the Safe Seed Pledge in 1999. Johnny’s presents the Safe Seed Pledge as follows:

Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners, and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically-engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families, or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing are necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically-engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and, ultimately, people and communities.”

In Seedway’s Untreated and Organic Seed catalog it states: “All varieties in this catalog are developed and produced by traditional methods. None of the items have been genetically modified and, to the best of our knowledge, none of this seed has been contaminated with any genetically modified material. We are certified as an Organic Handler by “PCO”, Pennsylvania Certified Organic”.

The good news is, at this time, very little genetically modified vegetable seed has been developed, and it is unlikely that you would “accidentally” purchase any. Buyers of GMO varieties are forced to sign technology-use agreements. The only GMO vegetable crops currently available are sweet corn, sugar beets and a few summer squashes. Sugar beets are grown to be made into sugar (and are white and shaped more like a lumpy turnip), not to be confused with your standard veggie garden variety red beet. It is the store bought processed food, with added sugar, that you have to watch out for.

Check out this article on the Rodale website from February 2011, when shortly after de-regulating GMO alfalfa, the USDA announced it was allowing farmers to begin planting “Roundup-Ready” GMO sugar beets without a completed environmental impact study (EIS), in order to avoid a “shortage of U.S. sugar”. According to Michael Hansen, PhD, chief scientist at Consumer Union, 54 percent of U.S. sugar comes from sugar beets. This decision appears to be less about science and more about marketing – and Monsanto’s monopoly on seeds. Here’s another great article on the website Red Green and Blue: Environmental politics from across the spectrum, talking about how Monsanto’s GMO seeds already dominate the entire US corn, soy, and cotton crops and essentially the sugar beet market; 93% of soy, 86% of corn, 93% of cotton, and 93% of canola seed planted in the U.S. in 2010 were genetically engineered.  Yet as recently as 2008, sugar beet farmers relied exclusively on traditionally bred seeds; the GM ones weren’t commercially available. Two years later, GM seeds dominate the market.

Beyond its potential to contaminate organic seed, what’s the big fuss about round-up ready crops? It’s glyphosate, the key controversial ingredient in the top selling herbicides used worldwide. Check out this article: Cancer cause or crop aid? Herbicide faces big test.

Back to vegetable seeds. One common assumption is that you need to buy strictly heirloom or open-pollinated varieties in order to avoid GMO’s. Not so. Hybrid vegetable seeds can also be non-GMO as well as all certified organic seed (which can be either heirloom/open-pollinated or hybrid). For us, the best bet is dealing with seed companies who take this topic as seriously as we do, and are transparent about their beliefs, whether it be through signing the safe seed pledge, or by periodically testing their seed stock for cross- contamination.

Even Fedco Seed Company, which test their sweet corn and beet seed for transgenic contamination, states: “We do not knowingly use any *transgenic varieties. (**Transgenic means to introduce the genetic code of one species into another. Transgenic plants are sometimes referred to as “genetically modified (GM)” or “genetically engineered (GE)”.) Please note the word “knowingly”. Because of the possibility of contamination, over which we have no control, our pledge necessarily stops short of being an absolute guarantee.”

That is the unfortunate reality of the times we live in and why it is important for all of us to stay aware of one of the greatest experiments in human history. Unfortunately, hundreds of farmers have been sued by Monsanto for patent infringement. Many of those farmers wanted nothing to do with Monsanto’s GMO crops, but because of pollen drift their crops are being cross-contaminated.

Save the Seeds

Something to keep an eye on is a lawsuit brought against Monsanto by 83 co-plaintiffs- encompassing a broad range of agricultural organizations, organic certifiers, family farmers and seed growers who all could potentially be damaged by the uncontrolled spread of transgenic seeds and their unchecked potential to contaminate conventional and organic seed crops. 

Monsanto’s motion to dismiss the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) et al v. Monsanto will be heard in federal district court this morning, Tuesday January 31, 2012 in Manhattan. Judge Naomi Buchwald’s decision will establish if organic farmers are to see their day in court. 

Education and awareness are the tools we possess as farmers to maintain the integrity of our seeds and our fields. We are lucky to have seed sources that share our concerns about the spread of transgenic food crops.  However, it is ultimately up to the consumer to be aware of the power of a corporation like Monsanto to exert control over our food supply through its very base, the seeds.

Written by Tom Murtha and Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen Farm

Enjoy this article by Brian Melito, MD, the fourth in a series of articles written by Blooming Glen Farm CSA members.

I wonder sometimes about my notions about food. Like my thought that eating according to the seasons might be a good idea. That being a good locavore, eating what the land provides, is a healthy and responsible way to live. That was easy in August, but this aint August. Our ancestors, the real locavores, were given little choice in that regard. No Giant or Landis or Whole Foods to go running to when the pantry was looking thin. For them, I imagine, a lot of energy was expended in planning and preparing for the long, harsh time between one harvest and the next.

That’s it, the harvest. No wonder the harvest was given such reverence- it was the sole, fragile link to the next season of plenty, the narrow bridge over a long, cold, deadly sea of time. Our pursuit of food in the U.S. today, by comparison, more resembles sport or hobby- no apparent life or death issues in the mix. We have been blessed with the privilege of choice, the almost unimaginable condition of constant, uninterrupted harvest, 24/7, 365 days a year. This is a great thing, right?

I wonder about the cost of all of this, assuming there might be some cost. So, I go to the internet, that infinite repository of unsubstantiated information, and look at some numbers. I can’t relate to them…

“Americans throw away 200,000 tons of edible food away every day.” Hmmm, and it says an elephant weighs 6 tons, so that’s 33,333 elephants a day… nope, can’t really picture that. Let’s try something else.

“Americans eat 815 billion calories of food per day.” Yikes. Now I’m starting to feel a little bloated. Ok, so forget the internet…

Want a real picture of what it was like long ago? Spend a few hours in an old cemetery, and study the fading headstones. The difference between the old part of the cemetery and the new? Children. Lots and lots of them buried in the old part. Make it to age 5, you were good to go for about the same number of years as anyone living today. But those first few years of life- that’s when a weak harvest or a harsh winter were especially cruel. So that’s what our society set about to fix.

Now fast forward to today: every one of the over 30,000 items in the average supermarket has a pedigree that dates back to times when saving children was of primary importance to the survival of the community. Finding ways to make food available long after the harvest was the goal. Even the packages of chocolate coated, sugar infused, color enhanced, chemically stabilized kid food (“food” used very liberally here) had their origins in a very real and useful purpose: saving our children. Did I hear someone say “oops”?

Did we, maybe, swing the needle a little too far?

All right, give the internet another shot:

30% of American children are obese. In 1980, that number was 7%.

The latest data indicates that our children’s life expectancy is now lower for the first time in many generations. Lower than yours, lower than mine.

Did I hear another “oops”?

Written by Brian Melito MD, Blooming Glen Farm CSA member since 2006 and a gardener since the 1960s.

Friends gather weekly to cook and share the farm bounty. I hope you are inspired as I was by this creative idea from CSA member Judie Much, as well as her wonderful recipe for Roasted Fennel with Parmesan.

When my husband, Dave, and I began thinking about investing in a share at the CSA, we realized that the two of us could not eat all of the food ourselves.  Luckily, we have surrounded ourselves with self-proclaimed “foodie” friends.  At least weekly, this group (can be anywhere from 6-13) gathers for food and fun at one of our houses.  The host usually decides and provides the main part of the entree and the rest of those who attend contribute sides, salad, appetizers, or dessert.  We wondered- would anyone be interested in splitting a CSA share?  Two couples voiced an interest, allowing the share to be divided into thirds. 

In our first year of CSA membership, we divided the share into thirds and our group met as usual on a weekly basis with each of the three of us who had acquired veggies contributing as we saw fit.  But alas, separating our food in this manner really restricted what we could provide for a larger group.  So this past year, the suggestion was made that whoever picked up the share, would plan and create a “CSA Dinner”, generally attended solely by the three couples who owned the share. What a wonderful experience this has been. The food amount is easily sufficient for six, and the items not used are divided between the three couples for the rest of the week (and there was ALWAYS a lot left!).

So what kind of meals did we create?  Space does not permit, nor can I remember all of the wonderful meals we had, but one of our most memorable was early in the season and was hosted and prepared by our friend, Dave.  In our share we found cantaloupe, turnips, zucchini, summer squash, beets, fennel, herbs, and spring onions.

First Course: Dave started the meal with cantaloupe, yogurt, and blueberries. 

Second Course: Grilled chicken, grilled turnips and beets (who knew you could grill slices of raw turnips and beets and have them cook in a few minutes?).  Dave also made a potato salad which included grilled summer squash and zucchini, as well as the potato!  And did you know that if you slice fennel very thin and roast it with olive oil, kosher salt and parmesan cheese, that people eat it like candy?  It’s true!

Dessert course: Grilled cantaloupe in a hot caramel sauce served with Owowcow vanilla ice cream.   What more could you ask for?  Perhaps a recipe?  Needless to say, we will continue this fine tradition this year.

Roasted Fennel with Parmesan

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 45 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 4 to 6

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish.

Take 4 fennel bulbs, and cut horizontally into 1/3-inch thick slices, fronds reserved. Arrange the fennel in the dish. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then with 1/3 cup freshly shredded Parmesan.  Drizzle with 4 tablespoons olive oil. Bake until the fennel is fork-tender and the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Chop enough fennel fronds to equal 2 teaspoons, then sprinkle over the roasted fennel and serve.

Written by Judie Much, a happily retired Oncology Nurse Practitioner who lives in Ferndale, Pa with her husband David. She and David are members of a group of neighbors who love to cook, laughingly called “The Ottsville Eight.”

To make this low-tech lacto-fermented sauerkraut, no special equipment is necessary, just a couple of jars with lids. For the veggies in this recipe, visit Blooming Glen Farm this weekend at the Wrightstown Mini-Market on Saturday, January 14th from 10-11am. They will have available their super sweet greenhouse grown carrots, field cabbage and more!

Shredded Cabbage

Chop fine 1 medium-large green cabbage (or equivalent).
Shred one carrot (optional) and mix in with the cabbage in a big bowl.
Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of natural, non-iodized sea salt over the veggies and stir it in. Taste a piece of cabbage– it should taste good and salty, like the ocean. If not add more salt.
Add 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds and a few juniper berries (optional).

With a mallet or potato masher, pound your cabbage in the bowl for several minutes until it is nice and bruised to help water escape. Let rest for a few minutes with a plate and weight on top, go back and pound for a few minutes, and so on. When the mixture is too watery to pound well, you’re ready to jar it.

In 2 or 3 wide-mouth quart jars (or whatever size jars you have), pack in your kraut mixture as firmly as you can. You can do this with clean hands or handy kitchen utensils. Pour the remaining liquid equally into the jars. There should be enough liquid to cover your cabbage– if not, make a little more salty water and pour it in. Be sure to leave a couple of inches of head space at the top of each jar because kraut needs room to expand– otherwise it will fizz cabbage juice all over your counter top or even worse, your jar will explode. When everything is packed in and submerged, screw on your lids. 

Leave the kraut to ferment on your countertop for 3-5 days (or more depending on taste). It will ferment faster in warmer weather. Check on the contents every day or so and mash the cabbage back under the liquid with a spoon. It should smell cabbagy but sweet– an offensive rotting odor means your ferment has gone awry and you’ll need to start over– try more salt or liquid next time, which helps favor the beneficial lactobacilli bacteria that do the fermentation magic.

When the kraut is to your liking store it in the fridge where it can last several months.

Recipe submitted by Grace Rollins.
Grace Rollins, M.S., L.Ac. is a licensed acupuncturist and a candidate for certification as a Nutritional Therapist. She is the owner of Bridge Acupuncture and Natural Health in Doylestown, PA (www.bridgeacupuncture.com), leader of the Bucks County Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation (www.westonaprice.org), and an avid cook, athlete and martial artist. She joined her first CSA in 2002.

This story is the second in a series of articles written by various Blooming Glen Farm CSA members. Please enjoy this submission from CSA member Grace Rollins of Bridge Acupuncture.

It seems like there are ads everywhere for the flu shot these days. Most of us can avoid the flu naturally, or can recover in a normal way from the flu when afflicted. The occasional cold or flu can even be a cleansing event for the body, helping to maintain good health in the long run. A healthy person will fight off colds or flu with ease; inability to do so is a sign of imbalance.

What can you do holistically to strengthen your immune system? To start, there are certain foods known for their immune-enhancing and anti-microbial properties, for example:
Raw, local honey (if you put it in hot tea it will be tasty but no longer raw, so somewhat less beneficial)
Chicken broth and fat (there is now scientific basis to this folk medicine! It has to be naturally pasture-raised chicken to get the most benefit. Simmer the bones from your locally bought bird for 7-24 hours for a highly nutritious broth!)
Coconut oil (take a tablespoon of extra virgin oil to prevent or treat colds) and coconut milk (great for soups and smoothies!)
Ginger, garlic, and scallion (great for soups and stir-fries)
Fermented, cultured foods (like sauerkraut, kimchee and kombucha– help supplant your body’s healthy microbial flora and fight off pathogenic yeasts and bacteria)
Apple cider vinegar (a little mixed in water makes a great tonic drink– use it to gargle for a sore throat)

Fall crops

My favorite tonic food is a good soup made with a quart or two of home-made chicken bone broth, a can of organic coconut milk, garlic, ginger and onion, some cut-up veggies and a squeeze of lemon. Garnish with cilantro or scallion. Delicious, and a strong immune booster!

The many special herbs that can be taken as tea or tinctures to enhance immunity include the famous echinacea, goldenseal and/or astragalus. These can be found in any health food section. My favorite vitamin for preventing or treating colds is a good old Vitamin C and Zinc lozenge.

Getting enough sleep and exercise is crucial for your immune system, as is avoiding stress and depleting foods like sugar, white flour and processed foods. You may find over-the-counter medications or that tempting course of antibiotics unnecessary if you simply rest and eat pure good food for a day or two.

Last but not least, acupuncture and moxibustion can be very helpful for strengthening the immune system, especially if you have a track record of frequent colds/flu or have a hard time getting over an illness. Studies show that acupuncture and moxibustion (the burning of mugwort to stimulate acupoints with heat) have a strong effect in enhancing immune-cell function in the body, even in those with immunocompromised conditions. The folk medicine techniques of cupping and gua sha (cutaneous friction), extremely popular in the Far East, are also something I use frequently in clinic to help my patients clear out fevers, coughs and congestion.

I always reserve pharmaceutical drugs as a very last resort, because they typically mask symptoms and create more problems down the road. Plus there are so many effective “natural flu shot” remedies out there. Since dedicating myself to this approach, I haven’t had to use antibiotics in over 15 years and at most get a minor cold once or twice a year. More than anything I attribute my healthy immune system to eating a nutrient-dense diet year-round, full of organic veggies, healthy fats like butter, coconut and olive oil, fish, pastured eggs and grass-fed meats. The foundation of good health is always high quality organic food, so support your local CSA and organic farms!

Submitted by Grace Rollins.
Grace Rollins, M.S., L.Ac. is a licensed acupuncturist and a candidate for certification as a Nutritional Therapist. She is the owner of Bridge Acupuncture and Natural Health in Doylestown, PA (www.bridgeacupuncture.com), leader of the Bucks County Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation (www.westonaprice.org), and an avid cook, athlete and martial artist. She joined her first CSA in 2002.

This story is the first in a series of articles written by various Blooming Glen Farm CSA members. Enjoy this glimpse into the past offered by Blooming Glen native, Les Swartley.

When I was approximately 1 year of age, my parents moved from Telford to Blooming Glen.  We moved to a farm house with a large barn on 13 acres at the edge of town on the northeast side of Rt. 113.  My father did not farm but from time to time we did keep animals in the barn.  The barn was also used by other farmers and individuals to raise animals and store crops. 

Blooming Glen was my childhood universe.  Watching and helping feed the cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, horses, ducks and other assorted farm animals were experiences that make me smile as I think about them.  Bottle feeding in the warm basement next to the coal stove some undernourished baby pig unable to compete with siblings for their mother’s milk was a lesson on the fragility of life. Having a dozen little peeps huddling under a hot light bulb in the basement until they were able to survive on the outside is also a vivid memory.    

Les Swartley's great-grandfather, Henry Y. High of Blooming Glen, 1929, "holds county and state records up to this time" with 700 pound harvest.

Watching the crops of corn, wheat, oats and soy beans being planted, raised and harvested, hitching rides on farm equipment to do the various duties associated with crop farming and finally unloading the hay and straw, corn, and oats in the barn were all part of the seasonal progression of life.

My parents, relatives, and neighbors all had gardens and grew most of the standard garden vegetables.  Multi-family gatherings did the canning in the fall.  It was a fun time running around the farm with cousins and friends while our mothers worked. We always had tasty fresh food at the end of the day.  Crushed sweet corn and applesause come to mind as my favorites.

Meat and other supplies came from local farms or we walked to Moyers store at the intersection of Rt 113 and Blooming Glen Road for almost everything else.

I had no idea how difficult it would become as an adult to get real farm grown fresh vegetables raised within walking distance by a local farmer.  As farm land was sold and subdivided, fewer and fewer acres remained available to raise fresh crops.  Serious farmers were even more difficult of find.

What is now Blooming Glen Farm in 1914. Moyer Road, named after the original landowners, was once a dirt drive lined with fruit trees and white fencing.

As CSA’s began gaining a foothold in local communities, my wife suggested that we look into the Blooming Glen Farm CSA at 98 Moyer Road operated by Tricia and Tom, and only a mile from our present home.  The farm also happens to be a place of great childhood memories for me. The large pond was a gathering place for ice skating, with a huge fire warming our fingers so we could take off our skates and ride our bikes back home.  Hockey games, hot shot skating, and crack the whip were the usual activities. 

To be able to participate with the many members of the Blooming Glen Farm CSA and our leaders Tricia and Tom in fostering a healthier lifestyle, maintaining and improving farmland, and building a sense of community through the farm and the lifestyle it promotes, is a way of connecting to my roots and childhood memories.

The circle is complete.

Submitted by Les Swartley — meteorite watcher, backyard landscaper and gardener, and former Industrial Real Estate Broker.

The cold days of winter are upon us. Outside the earth is resting and renewing, and with the winter solstice behind us, the ever so gradual lengthening of daylight promises the eventual return of the warm growing seasons of spring and summer. During the farm’s “off-season,” we want to utilize the blog to offer the unique reflections and perspectives of our diverse and vibrant farm community (you!).   The winter is the perfect time to share stories and articles, about what the farm- the land, the food, the people, and the connections- means to you.  What the farm inspires in you, and your choice to be a part of it, reflects the common ground we all share as active participants in an evolving local food community. We welcome your submissions, and we hope you enjoy reading those from others!

Roasted Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes & Turnips with ShallotsRoot vegetables are known for their comforting taste and grounding qualities. Nothing quite satisfies like the smell and warmth of home-roasted carrots or mashed potatoes for dinner, right? In addition to being tasty comfort food, root vegetables also have a unique nutrition profile.

Of course, exact nutritional values depend on the variety (you can visit www.nutritiondata.com for specific information), but here is some general nutrition info:

  • One cup of cooked celeriac, radish or turnip has 25-42 calories, while beets, burdock, parsnip or rutabaga has 66-110 calories.
  • All of the common varieties (carrots, potatoes, beets, celeriac, daikon radish, parsnip, rutabaga, and turnip) are all very low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • All are a good or very good source of dietary fiber.
  • Beets, radish, rutabaga and turnip have higher sugar contents.

Because root vegetables function as the energy storage organ in a plant, they are nutrient dense. Common nutrients include folate, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and vitamins B6 and C.

The recipe below calls for roasting potatoes, sweet potatoes and turnips — simply because I wanted to warm up the house. Root vegetables are also great in soup and as a mash. Try adding diced celeriac to minestrone soup or turnips to potatoes for a mash. Also, most root vegetables are interchangeable, just keep in mind that sweet potatoes cook faster than the others.

Roasted Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes & Turnips with ShallotsRoasted Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes & Turnips with Shallots

Preheat oven to 400-degrees, and line a cookie sheet with foil. Cut into chunks 1 cup potatoes and 1 cup turnips and toss in a bowl with 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil and then spread onto the cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 15 minutes.

Add to the bowl 1 cup sweet potatoes, cut into chunks, and toss to coat with remaining oil. Mix the sweet potatoes with the other veggies and roast for an additional 15 minutes, until all vegetables are tender and begin to brown.

Meanwhile, lightly oil a small skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup shallots, sliced very thin, and fry lightly, until they’re translucent and start to crisp. Set aside.

Top veggies with shallots and serve hot.

Post and photo by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder and -owner of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

A half pound bag of pea shoots is quite a lot. You can easily enjoy the tender shoots in a delicious raw salad with lettuce and arugula. Looking for more ideas? Garnish your favorite fall soup with the sprouts or partner with fish. With a wonderful vibrant pea flavor, the tiny shoots make a fantastic topping for a homemade white pizza, or a crisp whole wheat flatbread. I love flatbreads because they are endlessly versatile and a cinch to whip up. This one combines the hearty fall flavor of roasted butternut squash with the refreshing pop of the pea shoots–a little taste of spring as we head in to winter.  

 

Crispy Whole Wheat Flatbread with Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese and Pea Shoots

In a medium sized bowl, mix 1/2 cup warm water with 1 teaspoon active dry yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Stir in 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Knead until the dough is soft and elastic, about five minutes, adding small amounts of flour if the dough is too sticky. Let rise for about 45 minutes in a warm spot.

While dough is rising, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel and dice 1 butternut squash, coat in 1 tablespoon olive oil, and roast on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes, until squash is tender and starting to caramelize on the edges. Set aside the roasted squash and reuse the baking sheet for the dough. 

When the dough has nearly doubled in size, increase the oven heat to 475 degrees. Sprinkle a cutting board or countertop with additional flour and roll the dough into a 10-12 inch circle. Sprinkle baking sheet with a bit of cornmeal, then place the dough on the sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown. 

Top warm flatbread with roasted butternut squash, crumbled goat cheese, a handful of pea shoots, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar. Cut into wedges or strips and serve as a light lunch or stunning appetizer. **Not a fan of goat cheese? This recipe can easily be modified to compliment your family’s palette. Try roasted walnuts or pine nuts paired with butternut and a sharp cheese or crumbled tofu.

Recipe contributed by Kate Darlington – Blooming Glen Farm intern, Colorado native, and food lover.

Week 24, CSA harvest 47 and 48! At our end of the year dinner with our crew, we reflected back on the season, everyone sharing their best and worst memories. Almost all the worst memories had something to do with the endurance required to harvest in extremes, which this season seemed to have plenty of, whether it be picking cherry tomatoes in stifling hot rows, bereft of any breeze, or harvesting kale in the frosty morning, bone-chilling, temperatures. The fondest memories ranged from eating big juicy watermelon out in the field, mastering cultivation between beds, screenprinting farm t-shirts (taking orders soon!) and generally cooking and eating the harvest. Collectively, we remembered the late spring hail (the first we’ve ever seen at the farm), the summer drought, high temperatures and (minor) earthquake, over two feet of fall record-breaking rains, and an October nor’easter. What a year!  As one CSA member said, “it’s time to stick a fork in this season and call it done.”
Or as Robert Frost wrote,
“For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.”

November 8, 2011

In this week’s share you’ll find escarole. Don’t mix it up with your head lettuces. Escarole is a bitter green best used in cooking- a wonderful addition to a fall soup. Last Friday and this Tuesday’s share received a 1/2 pound bag of pea shoots, the result of a successful experiment. As soon as we saw that there would be losses in the field, we brainstormed things we could grow in the greenhouses. Pea shoots are grown in flats on tables. Somewhat labor intensive and using lots of soil mix (each flat only yields about 1.5 to 2 pounds), farms typically receive from $8 to $11 a pound from either farmer’s markets or restaurants for the tender little pea shoots. We are happy to be able to round out the last few CSA shares with this delicious addition. Check out this week’s recipe for some ideas for what to do with them.

Growing and harvesting pea shoots.

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