Tuesday, October 26, 2010

CSA Week 22, Final Share for 2010

Photo caption:
Digging up our final crop of potatoes this past week, Ken had to stop numerous times to wrangle weeds out of the potato harvester’s rungs. A conventional (non-organic) farm would have “burned” the weeds and any other living plant in the bed with an herbicide shortly before harvesting to avoid this added work. Chemical herbicides are never used at Free Bird Farm.

Three years ago a good friend asked us to start a CSA. She’d belonged to one when living in the Hudson Valley and sorely missed the fresh, abundant produce. So we started out. We started small. And we noticed it was working pretty well. So, the 2nd year we grew some more. And this year we finally got gutsy and expanded membership 5-fold.

It was a leap of faith and created significant change here seemingly overnight. It turned our schedule—the rhythm of when we plant, weed, take care of our fields, harvest—a bit upside down. Soon enough, however, we adjusted to such changes. But even when everything was running beautifully, we’d still worry about each week’s share—was it balanced enough, was it new enough, are people going to get totally sick of all these greens (in June) or how can we not have broccoli and Brussels sprout crops (now)? After all, our goal is to do our best to provide a great variety of organically raised food for everyone week after week after week. We want our members to be well fed and happy.

In all, the change was a great move for our farm. Perhaps most significantly, it provided us stability. Having a fixed community to grow for—a group of supporters willing to invest at the start of the season in what we aspired to accomplish in a season—meant a number of things. It meant we could better plan our plantings, using seed, space and time more efficiently. We could more efficiently harvest—knowing just what was needed for the distribution versus a farmers’ market that is based on guessing how much we think will sell and whether the weather will be nice enough for people to come out and shop. It also meant that we didn’t have to carry the same level of debt we usually take on at the start the season and then fret over repaying through the majority of the season.

We never thought we’d see as many people as we now do rolling into our distribution shed on Tuesday afternoons. It’s an inspiring sign of change. Our members want something better than what they can get at the local supermarket. They care about how their food is grown. And they care about supporting their local farmers.

We hope being part of the CSA was rewarding to you too.

Thanks to everyone who helped to support us this growing season.

Ken & Maryellen and family


1 winter squash
1 large head of head bok choy
1 bunch leeks
6 ounces mesclun mix
1 bunch carrots
1 head frissee
large bag of potatoes
1# bag of beets


Many of the items in this week’s share will hold. The potatoes and squash can be stored for many weeks in a dark, dry, cool location (in a cabinet, for instance). Avoid storing in plastic bags and don’t refrigerate potatoes (it turns the starches into an off-tasting sugar). The leeks, cabbage, and even the beets should easily hold for a few weeks in a refrigerator’s crisper (their outer layers might wilt, but that’s okay).


Recipe recommendations using items from this week's share:

Mushroom and Leek Soup with Thyme Cream
From Epicurious.com, Nov. 2007

Roasted Carrots
Gourmet, December 2008

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

CSA Share Week 21

Caption: Weather extremes have stunted the farm’s broccoli crop, placing thousands of plants a few weeks behind schedule. Beautiful plants stand vibrant but with no edible buds in sight.

This week you’re seeing some fall favorites: parsnips and spinach. And we’ve tried to include as much that’s fresh from the field (versus storage crops) while we still have it. A sharp freeze any day now could kill off most of what still stands in our fields.

There are a few classic fall crops that we regret we just aren’t getting right now. Namely, broccoli. And cauliflower. And Brussels sprouts.

Their absence pains us as these are vegetables that we’ve been craving along with many CSA members and that we’ve put a lot of work into having this fall. All of these crops were planted in abundance and right on time late in the summer. Theoretically, they should be at their prime right now. But as soon as they were planted we hit the last of this summer’s extreme hot and dry spells. Two weeks’ worth. None of these crops thrive under such conditions. So they sat there dormant in the fields. The stretches of rain we’ve had haven’t helped either. Ten days without sun isn’t exactly an ideal growing scenario. So we’ve thousands of lusciously green leafy broccoli plants, cauliflower plants and Brussels sprouts without any “buds” to speak of. If we got some nice, consistent weather, maybe they’d bud up in a few weeks. But, basically, they’re well behind schedule, and there’s a good chance they’ll freeze before they come to fruition.

So, we work with what we have. Much to enjoy, just not everything we’d hoped, planned and planted for.

1 bunch parsnips
½ pound spinach
14 ounces yellow wax beans
1 bunch fresh, baby onions (green tops edible)
6 ounces mesclun mix (for salad or for quickly wilting in olive oil)
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch Easter egg radish
1 head “freckles” Romaine lettuce (see note)
1 bunch dinosaur or Tuscan kale (or 3/4# sugar snap peas if not in your share 2 weeks ago)


Freckles Romaine:
The reddish-brown “freckles” on this week’s head lettuce aren’t a sign of disease or frost damage. The speckles are intended with this variety of Romaine lettuce. In a salad, we think they look festive. And for a Romaine, we love how tender this variety of lettuce can be.

Tip: If you have dill left over from last week, chop and blend with some sour cream, lemon zest and lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil for a zesty dressing for the spinach (if eaten raw). Or drizzle over a salad of sliced radish and parsley leaves.

PARSNIPS are a classic in stews, but they are also terrific roasted on their own. We often make this recipe developed by a friend, Amy Albert, for Fine Cooking magazine.
RECIPE: Crisp Roasted Parsnip Sticks We eat them like fries, sprinkled with a little malt vinegar.

or, add a little local maple sweetness with the following roasted parsnip recipe:

From Free Bird Farm

1 bunch parsnips, cut on a diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 ½ tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Heat oven to 400°F. Toss the parsnips with the olive oil and a large pinch of Kosher salt in a bowl. Sprinkle with a large pinch of Kosher salt. Spread parsnips in single layer on rimmed baking sheet.

Roast parsnips 20 minutes. Turn and roast until browned and soft, 15 to 25 minutes longer. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and push the parsnips together into a loose pile with a metal spatula. Drizzle the parsnips with the maple syrup and dot with the butter. Toss to evenly coat with the syrup and butter. Transfer to a plate, sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

At the farm, we had this for dinner last night, along with some gently crisped shallot slices and narrow strips of bell pepper (from last week's share) sauteed in olive oil. Great with some short-grain brown rice.

Quick Sautéed Spinach with Garlic Chips
From Free Bird Farm

4 peeled cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ pound spinach, washed and spun dry in a salad spinner
Kosher salt and freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste

Heat half of the olive oil a heavy, large skillet (we recommend cast iron) over medium heat. Add the garlic slices in a single layer and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining oil and increase the heat to medium high. Add the spinach and cook, tossing frequently with a pair of tongs, until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with lemon juice and Kosher salt to taste. Serve immediately with the crisp garlic “chips” sprinkled on top.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Share Week #20

We’ve reached that time in the season when the weather really has the final word. We could have a good variety of crops thriving until almost Thanksgiving or it could be pretty much a wrap within the next couple of weeks.

This past weekend we got our first frost, and it was a good zap.

We spent Saturday harvesting like mad—bringing in whatever we knew wouldn’t stand up to Sunday’s early morning frost. Some of this week’s share consists of that final picking.

Saturday was also spent covering those crops most vulnerable to frost, such as green beans and baby lettuce, with a soft, protective agricultural fabric (seen in pic).

The farm is still waterlogged from that unrelenting rain we had up until Thursday. Even in sloped spots, the fields are still wet and muddy. We simply got more rain than the ground could absorb. This makes the harvest extra challenging—because there’s often 2 pounds of thick, heavy mud clinging to the soles of one’s boots. (Those CSA members who made it to this year’s rainy day Open House know a little bit about what we’re talking about.)

We could now use some consistent sun and relative warmth so that the fall plantings that survived all that rain can grow. Nothing has been able to progress or grow in the last couple of weeks, which could short us of harvestable crops in these last couple weeks of the CSA season.

2 lbs. red potatoes
3 red onions
6 ounces mesclun mix
1 bunch carrots
1 bok choy
6 ounces arugula
1 red leaf lettuce
1 bunch dill
3 yellow onions
last-of-the-season bell peppers or green beans


Dill goes with a lot more than just pickles. Looking for an idea? Here are a couple that go with some of the veggies in this week's share too:

Carrot Soup with Dill PestoFrom Epicurious.com


Creamy Potato Salad with Lemon & DillServes six.

This was adapted from a recipe by Molly Stevens in Fine Cooking magazine. The salad would be niced served over a bed of this week’s red leaf lettuce.

2 pounds unpeeled red potatoes, scrubbed (small potatoes left whole, medium to large ones cut into large chunks)
Kosher salt
¼ cup minced red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup heavy cream, well chilled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Freshly ground pepper

Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with water by an inch or two, add a large pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, partially cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Test for doneness by spearing a potato with a thin metal skewer. It should penetrate easily into the center of the potato and then slide right out. If the skewer lifts the potato out of the pot when you withdraw it, continue cooking a little longer. Drain the potatoes and let them cool. You can drain them on a cooling rack set over or in your sink, which will avoid squashing the tender potatoes (as often happens with a colander) and also lets the potatoes cool quickly.

When the potatoes are at room temperature, cut them into 3/4-inch chunks and put them in a mixing bowl. Add the onion and fold gently to distribute; set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the cream until frothy but not at all stiffened. Whisk in the mayonnaise and mustard. Add the lemon juice, zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the salad and fold it in with a rubber spatula. Taste for seasoning. Serve, or cover and chill for up to a day.

A great fall recipe for lunch or a light dinner (maybe with the carrot soup?) that makes use of this week's arugula: Open-Face Brie, Apple, and Arugula Sandwiches


Pasta Salad with Arugula, Feta & Sun-Dried Tomatoes, by Tony Rosenfeld, Finecooking.com

And here's something to try with this week's bok choy...

Salmon "Bulgogi" with Bok Choy and Mushrooms
Bon Appétit | June 2008

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

CSA Share Week 19

After harvesting the CSA share and emptying out some sand bags (used to hold down row covers) on Monday, one of Free Bird Farm’s staff is ready to shower and put his feet up (boots off, of course). It sure is wet.

There’s a lot of mud on our boots. Here at the farm, we don’t have sidewalks, paved roads around the fields or even a paved driveway. There’s some gravel and a whole lot of exposed dirt. And after the 6+ inches of rain we got late last week, it seems like it’s all just mud.

As it rained and rained and rained Wed., Thurs. and Fri., there was still a large harvest to tend to. So everyone worked, moving inside to clean onions or to handle other tasks when the rain fell just too hard. And now everyone is working through the storm’s aftermath, trudging through the fields with heavy hunks of mud clinging to boots and mud stained through the knees of one’s pants, smeared on sweatshirts, splattered on hats. It’s a mess.

It’s still a little early to assess the damage of the excessive rain that dumped on the fields last week. It seems to have ruined some heads of lettuce that were due in a couple of weeks. And there’s even more rain in store this week. Time will reveal what crops were able to hold up and which are going to perish from the excessive water.

(P.S. There are quite a few new or less familiar items in this week’s share, so we included many “primers” and recipes this week to hopefully inspire you.)

In this week’s share:
2 delicata squash
1 pound Tongue of Fire fresh shell beans
¾ pound green beans
1 head of escarole
6 ounces of arugula
1 bunch Tuscan or “dinosaur” kale
1 head of Romaine lettuce
2 kohlrabi or ¾ pound peas*

*We had limited availability of both these crops this week. Our hope is there will be enough next week so that whoever received one gets the other.

“Rusty” green beans
You might notice reddish-brown markings on some of this week’s green beans. This “rust” basically shows up on the beans in wet and cool temperatures (like we’re having). They are still good to eat, but… they are not going to hold as long as usual in your refrigerator. So eat sooner than later.

This is a great weeknight squash. Perhaps the simplest way to cook it: slice it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, brush cut sides with oil, sprinkle with coarse salt, and roast on a heavy duty sheet pan with raised edges in a 375 degree oven. At Free Bird, we like to start the roasting process cut-side down until it’s nicely caramelized underneath where the flesh touches the pan. Flip once it’s richly golden brown to finish cooking through (if the squash flesh is not already fully tender when pierced with a fork). Sorry—we’re guessing on the time: about 30 minutes? Check after 20 minutes, just to be on the safe side. To serve, rub the flesh with butter and, if you like, lightly drizzle with maple syrup.

REVISITING SHELL BEANS We’re always glad to see an extra basket of these beans in the farm’s walk-in cooler. As a family we’ll sit together for a good long while (you’d never believe a 2-year-old could sit at such a task for so long) and gently pry open the shells, popping the colorfully mottled beans into a bowl or large cook pot. Sometimes we have a contest—which team can shell the most beans at once. Most of the time we sit quietly, focused on the group task. Whatever we don’t eat, we freeze in zipper-locked bags and enjoy through the winter in stews, pastas or with sautéed greens. These beans are creamy in texture and mildly nutty in flavor, similar to a cannellini bean.

TO COOK THE FRESH SHELL BEANS: place the shelled beans (pods discarded) in a pot of water. Add a bay leaf and any aromatics you have on hand, such as a chopped carrot, parsley stems, or an onion, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are creamy in texture all the way through, about 30 minutes.

These beans would go great with this week’s kale. Strip the stems from the kale and sauté it briefly in extra-virgin olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add a clove of minced garlic at the end of cooking, turn off the heat and toss in the (cooked beans). Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

OR try the beans with this recipe for White Bean and Escarole Soup with Garlic (perfect for this cool, rainy week we’re having).

OR make your own vegetable soup, like a minestrone, with the shell beans, green beans, kale and, if you have left over from last week, butternut squash and carrots. Include a can of tomatoes if you have that in your pantry.

Primer on Kohlrabi
If you’re wondering what the ogre-like turnip-looking vegetables are in this week’s share (white or purple), they’re kohlrabi. Actually a cabbage, kohlrabi has a bulbous stem that grows just above ground. Its leafy stalks shoot upward from the bulb. Both parts can be eaten but are best cooked separately. (*Kohlrabi can be prone to splitting during growth. This happened to some of our white ones in this week’s distribution. We found they are still just as tasty—just a little unusual in appearance.)

Kohlrabi has a crisp, juicy texture, like an apple or water chestnut. Peel the thick, outer skin off, and inside you’ll taste an earthy sweetness reminiscent of cabbage with a hint of bite like a radish.

Kohrabi is often used shredded or thinly sliced in a slaw or salad, such as in this recipe for Kohlrabi-Radish Slaw with Cumin and Cilantro. (If you don't have radish on hand, thinly slice the kale or escarole to substitute. Or use cabbage.) If cooked – sautéed, roasted or added to a braise or stew—kohlrabi retains some of its crunchy texture, but the flavor mellows quite a bit.

To store, cut the leafy stalks off the bulbs and refrigerate the bulbs separately in a sealed bag or container. If stored properly, the bulbs can last a few weeks.

Monday, September 27, 2010

CSA Share Week #18

A CSA member recently asked us how we determine what’s in a share from week to week. We thought this was a good question and worth sharing our answer with everyone.
There are a lot of factors we weigh when we determine a share each week:
• Firstly, we try to distribute to members what is most fresh in our fields;
• We also try to distribute what we have enough of each week for all members so that most weeks everyone gets the exact same share. If we're short something, we make sure those who get something else get something similar and of comparable value. For example, recently we didn't have enough escarole for all members, so one group got kale instead (which we had some of but not enough for everyone). Similarly, we recently didn't have large red and yellow bell peppers for everyone, so one distribution group got smaller peppers but more of them (3 versus 2).
• We try to make sure that the value of a share is more than $20 (Upstate NY prices)—knowing that depending on the stage of the season some weeks might not be quite that and most weeks it’s comfortably more than that. This season we have been fortunate to consistently meet this standard each week starting at the very beginning of the season. For example, this week’s share we calculate to be worth slightly more than $23 if purchased at one of our Upstate farmer’s markets.
We should also note that being in a CSA means you may not always get that value--depending on how the season turns out; if a farm loses 70% of their crop to hail (and I've heard of this happening), the members also suffer a loss in their shares. That's the "shared risk" part of being in a CSA; you’re willing to hang in there with the farm through thick and thin.
• On the flip side, we also try to make sure each week’s share isn’t too large. Distributing more produce than members can use in the course of a week is an all too common way a CSA can drive off members the following year. So we try not to overwhelm members while at the same time making sure they feel like they are getting an ample share each week.
• Lastly, we try to minimize too much repetition with certain vegetables--so if you've had eggplant 2 weeks in a row, we try to avoid including that crop for at least the following week. Granted, with vegetables like salad greens or onions, which people regularly eat or use to cook, we aren’t so hesitant to offer repetitively. We also try to make sure each week’s share is well balanced in terms of the makeup and diversity of the vegetables in the share. For example, if we include something out of the ordinary (like the Asian greens in this week) we try to make sure it’s balanced by plenty of more commonplace vegetables.
It's tricky business—determining what's in a share each week. We put a lot of thought into it. Often we stress about it—wanting to make sure members get the best of what we have, a nice variation of items, and at a value better than if they were to buy from an organic grower at a farmer's market or at a natural foods grocery store like Whole Foods. Fortunately, this has been a pretty good season so far. But, ultimately, we can only think out, debate and assess a share list each week according to what nature permits. We’d love to be including collards, broccoli, head lettuce and kale this week as we’d planned, but these were crops affected by this season’s weather extremes. But there’s still a good chance you’ll see these items before the season is over. And on the flip side, you’re seeing potatoes—a crop we had very little of in 2009 because of last year’s infamous late blight.


1 butternut squash
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 ½ pounds beets
1 bunch cilantro
1 red onion
red bell peppers
1 bunch leeks
1 bunch mixed Asian greens (mizuna, tatsoi, Japanese red mustard greens)
1 ½ pounds all-purpose white potatoes


Adapted from a recipe by Lori Longbotham in Everday with Rachel Ray, Nov. 2009

2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower or canola
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ finely chopped crystallized ginger
¼ cup cilantro leaves

Directions: Preheat the oven to 450°. In a large bowl, toss the squash with the oil, coriander, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. On a large baking sheet, arrange the squash in a single layer and bake, turning occasionally, until tender and golden-brown, about 30 minutes.

Transfer the squash to a serving bowl and toss with the crystallized ginger and cilantro.

This is a recipe from another one of the farm’s favorite cookbooks—“One Potato, Two Potato” by Roy Finamore with Molly Stevens. There’s hardly a recipe in this book that doesn’t make you want to cook. This recipe conveniently makes use of a few items in this week’s share.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound red bell peppers (2 to 3 peppers), cored, seeded and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 cup chopped leeks (white and pale green parts)
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
1 cup light cream

Heat the olive oil in a wide soup pot over medium heat until it slides across the pan. Add the bell peppers, leeks, garlic, paprika, cayenne, and salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook gently, stirring from time to time, until the vegetables begin to give up some of their liquid but are not at all brown, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
Add 4 cups water, cover partway, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are very tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
Let the soup cool for 5 minutes, then work it through a food mill to eliminate all pepper skins (farm’s note: if you don’t have a food mill, press through a colander with a large rubber spatula). Stir in the cream and then strain the soup through a fine mesh sieve. (Skipping this last step will give you a soup of equally fine flavor but with a much less luxurious texture.) Rinse out the pot and pour the soup into it. Return the soup to the heat and bring it to a simmer. Taste for seasoning and serve warm.

Ever wonder how fresh our eggs are? Well, we can’t tell you exactly which day the particular eggs in your carton were laid, but we can say that all of the eggs that go to our Tuesday CSA members were laid some time between Friday and Monday. (Saturday distribution members' eggs were laid any time between Tuesday and Friday.) So that makes the eggs anywhere from 1 to 4 days old when they arrive at distribution (they're kept refrigerated during that duration). A study from the University of Illinois that found supermarket eggs ranged from being 7 to 45 days old, with the average age being 16 days.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

CSA Share Week 17

This Thursday is the first day of fall, and we've enjoyed spotting the signs
of its arrival as we walk around the farm with our kids. Acorns are dropping
to the ground. Goldenrod is in flourish. Milkweed pods are beginning to
unfurl, their fairy-like seeds loft into the air. Pheasant are popping in
and out of hedgerows. Monarch butterflies seem to be taking their last sip
of nectar from clover buds before migrating south. The green of the pasture
is losing its vibrancy and, oh yes, some leaves have just begun to turn

The region received its frost warning for tomorrow morning (Tues.) north,
south, east and west of us. We're holding our breath that we truly are
spared. In the same week we're expecting 80-degree weather. These are the
kinds of days when everyone starts work in sweatshirts and knit caps and
ends the day in short sleeves.

This week at the farm another sure sign of autumn's approach can be
witnessed inside our barn. We're cutting down, trimming, cleaning and
packing up the garlic crop-much of which will go with us to the Hudson
Valley Garlic Festival
this weekend in Saugerties, NY.

If you are looking for something to do and either love garlic or love
festival-style amusement, this is quite an event to attend. There are dozens
of garlic growers like us, peddling garlic, braids and other
garlic-related products. There are braid-making workshops. There's music.
There are craft booths. And, for those who dare, there's garlic ice cream.
It's a big event (thousands attend), and, if you go, we don't recommend
making plans that evening with anyone who hasn't attended the festival as
well. Because if you succumb to the standard conduct of those attending the
festival, you'll be grazing on raw garlic samples all day as if it's candy.
You'll learn to tell the difference between one variety's level of pungency,
another's heat, another's sweetness...—until all that garlic ultimately
burns out your taste buds for the day.

In this week's share:
1 ½ pounds red potatoes
8 ounces (1/2 pound) spinach
6 ounces salad mix
1 bok choy
1 bunch carrots
1 bunch green onions
1 bunch mixed radish (pink, purple, red, white)
1 bulb garlic

*******Special Request from the Farm:*******
Maybe some of you have heard of Cookies for Kids ' Cancer, a 501 (c) nonprofit some special friends of the farm started after their son was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 3. The organization raises funds to support research
for new and improved therapies for pediatric cancer. Cookies for Kids'
Cancer was recently selected by the Jimmie Johnson Foundation (Nascar
Driver- Lowe's Team) as a winner in its Samsung Helmet of Hope Program. The
13 chosen charities are now in a popularity contest to win an additional
$20,000 grant. Plus, the winning charity will receive a great deal of
publicity and awareness courtesy of the most successful driver in Nascar. If
you can, please take a moment to vote for Cookies for Kids' Cancer at this
link. You can vote from every computer you can find and depending on your internet connection, from different browsers on the same computer.
Our friends' son, Liam, age 6 now, is still battling neuroblastoma.

Thank you for considering this.

Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Garlic, Ginger, and Scallions
by Susie Middleton, from Fine Cooking magazine

A simple, four-ingredient sauce makes a perfect finish for the intriguingly sweet and bitter flavor of this stir-fried Asian green. You can use mature or baby bok choy for this recipe.

Serves three to four.

1-1/4 lb. bok choy (about 1 large, 2 medium, or 5 to 6 baby)
2 Tbs. oyster sauce (preferably Lee Kum Kee brand)
2 Tbs. lower-salt chicken broth
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. Asian sesame oil
2 Tbs. peanut oil
Kosher salt
4 oz. scallions (8 to 10 medium), white and light-green parts only, cut into 3-inch lengths and halved lengthwise if thick
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
One 1/2-inch square of ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks

To prep mature bok choy, separate the leaves from the stems by slicing the bok choy head crosswise at about the point where the leaves begin to spread out. Cut the leaves into lengthwise strips 1 to 1-1/2 inches wide. Quarter the stem end lengthwise and remove any inner leaves, putting them with the leafy tops. Slice the stem quarters crosswise into pieces about 3/4 inch thick. Rinse and dry the stems and leaves separately. (If using baby bok choy, simply cut the heads lengthwise into 3/4-inch-wide pieces or wedges.)

In a small bowl, combine the oyster sauce, chicken broth, cornstarch, and sesame oil. Whisk well to dissolve the cornstarch.

In a 12-inch nonstick stir-fry pan, heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the bok choy stems and season with 1/8 tsp. kosher salt. (If using baby bok choy, add all the pieces now and skip the step of adding the leaves later.) Cook, tossing frequently with tongs, until the stems are pliable and lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the scallions, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring constantly, until the aromatics are tender, fragrant, and starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the bok choy leaves and 1/8 tsp. salt. Using tongs, toss until the leaves are completely wilted and integrated with the stems, 1 to 2 more minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat, and using a heatproof spatula, stir the sauce and quickly mix it with the vegetables in the pan. As soon as the sauce thickens and has coated most of the vegetables (a few seconds), transfer to a platter and serve immediately.

Traditional Creamed Spinach
From Wholefoodsmarket.com
Serves 6

About 3 pounds fresh spinach
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3/4 cup small (1/4-inch) diced yellow onions (about 1 small onion)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

To prepare spinach, first remove any unwanted stems or brown parts. Rinse leaves several times in cold water until all the dirt has been rinsed off. Drain spinach but leave some water clinging to spinach leaves.

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add wet spinach. (This step may need to be done in batches.) Turn spinach frequently with a pair of tongs as it cooks. Once it is wilted, remove from the pan and place in a strainer and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. (This step is very important.) Transfer drained spinach to a cutting board and chop coarsely. Set aside.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add garlic and onions. Cook until onions are translucent and soft (about 10 to 15 minutes).
Add cream, parmigiano-reggiano, nutmeg, salt and black pepper and continue cooking until it is reduced a bit (about 5 minutes).

Add spinach to cream and mix well. Continue to cook until cream has almost completely been absorbed and dish is thick and creamy. Remove from heat and serve.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

CSA Share Week 16

This Sunday the farm held its open house for CSA members. The forecast was for showers after 2 p.m. “Good enough,” we thought. It wasn’t going to be a lovely, sunny day, but at least it would stay dry for the bulk of everyone’s visit. Or so we thought.
Cars began rolling in at 10 a.m., just as it curiously began to start drizzling. “Maybe this will pass by. A quick shower,” we said to ourselves, holding fast to positive thinking. By the time the first tour was scheduled and about 30 people had arrived, the rain was pouring down. We sought shelter in the barn. Not such a bad place to start. The 200-year-old barn is a point of conversation in itself. So were the thousands of garlic bulbs hanging in the barn basement. And, seeking more cover, we moved to our largest greenhouse, were there was plenty to discuss and show there. After all, how many people have seen lettuce when its leaves are the size of one’s fingernail?
Eventually, we could stall no longer. The rain was pouring down, and no one seemed anxious to venture out to see our veggie fields. Hanging out under the 20 x 30 foot tent we’d rented wasn’t even desirable. It was a raw, wet day. So, thank goodness for our big, old farmhouse. Everyone packed into our 30-foot-long kitchen. We spread out a wonderful variety of food brought by members and provided by the farm, brewed some coffee, and simply got to know one another. It was great.
By the time lunch was over, the rain had subsided and we trekked out to see the main working part of the farm including the brooder, which presently houses about 300 two-week-old chicks, our primary vegetable fields, the new irrigation pond, and the hens out on pasture looking more than a little soggy.
It wasn’t quite the day we’d planned. We had activities planned that never happened—corn stalks in a back field ready to be cut down and bunched for members who might want to make door (or apt.) decorations, and a winter squash crop ready for harvest. But after accumulating a few pounds of thick mud on the bottoms of one’s shoes touring the farm, no one was itching to hike to the back of the farm where those crops lay wet and waiting.
We are so grateful to all those who came. It was a wonderful mix of members—coming from as close as across the street to as far as New York City and even Connecticut. We even had one member catch a red-eye flight back from L.A. to make it to the farm (thanks Ariel!). It was a treat for us to take a day off from our usual work and meet or better get to know some of the CSA members. (The bonfire the night before with campers was a highlight as well.) Again, to all, thanks!


1 bunch leeks
Mixed bell peppers
1 bunch cilantro
7 ounces spicy lettuce mix
¾ pound (12 ounces) edemame
6 ounces baby salad mix
1 watermelon
1 red onion


This week’s spicy mixed greens are a combination of Mizuna, Red Russian kale, Komatsuna, Red Giant mustard, and Tatsoi. It’s suitable for a cold green salad with sliced red bell peppers or fall pears or for briefly wilting or stir-frying in hot oil with the week’s leeks. The spicy profile makes it well-suited to the following salad dressing adapted from one of the farm’s favorite cookbook sources for inspiring salads: Lettuce in Your Kitchen by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby(© 1996, William Morrow and Company).

Dressing #1:
1 1/2 stalk lemongrass, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon neutral-tasting vegetable oil, such as peanut, sunflower or safflower oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)

In a small saucepan, combine the lemongrass, ginger, vinegar, water, and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until you have about 1/3 cup liquid, after about 35 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain, discarding solids. Add the sesame oil, vegetable oil, soy sauce and fish sauce (if you want) and mix well.

OR… if you cannot easily find lemongrass, this sesame dressing, also from Lettuce in Your Kitchen, is quick and uses more readily available ingredients.

¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
Pinch of dried red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

A nice addition to the greens would be grilled or sautéed chicken. Or, if wilting the greens, drizzle with the soy sauce and sesame oil dressing (above) and serve over sticky white rice or brown rice with thinly sliced red pepper and strips of cooked egg (beaten and left to set in the pan, like an omelet.)

What’s edemame? It’s a fresh soy bean. And don’t let its fuzzy exterior fool you. Inside the pods are nutty little beans that make a great snack, appetizer or side dish. They’re easy to cook and fun to eat. Not sure how to cook edemame? It’s as simple as cooking pasta. We recommend going to wikipedia.com and searching “how to cook edemame.” There are both instructions and a video.

Monday, September 6, 2010

CSA Share Week 15

This time of year most home gardeners put away their shovels and hoes. They enjoy what their gardens might happen to yield. Otherwise, what’s done is done. But after the last couple weeks of yo-yo weather we’ve had here, even those stick-it-out-‘til-the-bitter-end gardeners are feeling left with little choice but to call it quits.
While we’ve had a summer full of weather extremes, the latest two episodes were rough. It started two weekends ago when we had 6 inches of rain in about 24 hours. A state of emergency was declared in our valley because creeks and rivers were overflowing, making some roads impassable. The end result of that here on the farm wasn’t so great either. Certain low-lying fall plants simply drowned.
Next came the heat. Seven days of 90-plus degree hot, humid weather. No matter the crop, plants struggle in that kind of intense, sustained heat. Some just don’t make it. A lettuce crop we’d hoped to be harvesting right now (as we’re surely hankering for a head of lettuce) bolted. This happens when it’s too hot. The lettuce shoots up seemingly overnight to take on a cone-like shape and a bitter taste. There’s nothing to do but till it under.
By late Friday the cool air most elegantly arrived, and we’ve found ourselves thankful to be starting the day in long sleeve shirts.
Despite that fall feeling in the air, we’re still looking forward. It’s evident in our greenhouse, well-stocked with young, growing plants. We’ve newly prepared seed beds in the fields where we’re planting more arugula, salad greens, radish, etc. And in our basement a few “speed trays” of seedlings (pac choi and radicchio) are coming to life under grow lamps. So even though it might feel like we’ve plummeted into autumn, we’re banking on there still being time to keep growing some quick-to-grow, cool tolerant crops. It’s always worth a shot. How much time will we have? Well, we’re afraid that’s up to our friend Jack Frost.

In this week’s share:
1 watermelon
1 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
6 ounces arugula
8 ounces (1/2 lb.) shallots
1 pound beets (no greens)
1 head escarole
2 bell peppers
1 eggplant
1 garlic

A note on this week’s eggplant:
Like fair-skinned people, light-colored vegetables can suffer from intense sun, of which we’ve recently had plenty. You may notice it in this week’s share with one of the two varieties of eggplant. With the round-ish Rosa Bianca eggplant, which has violet and white streaks, some of the skin has begun to take on a yellow hue. Don’t be turned off by this. It’s simply a “sunburn” and doesn’t affect the quality or taste of this Italian heirloom variety known for its creamy, mild flavor.
Similarly, we’ve heard a number of people at our farmers’ markets recently ask how to tell if an eggplant is ripe. If it’s firm and the skin smooth and glossy, it’s good. It doesn’t matter what size the eggplant is. And if your eggplant sits in your refrigerator and begins to take on that puckered look, don’t feel like you have to throw it out. It’s simply losing moisture. In our experience, it has to look rather withered before it’s unusable.

An advisory on last week’s “sweet” hot peppers.
Some CSA members received classic bell peppers in their share. Others received fire engine red, long, tapered peppers. We’d bit into the tips of a few before packing this variety up to make sure it was sweet. Yes, they tasted sweet and refreshing. Then, this weekend, when Maryellen was working at a farmer’s market, a customer asked if the tapered red peppers were sweet. Indeed, she thought, and she bit valiantly into a tip of one to prove it to the customer. Yes, it was sweet. Then one of our wise-beyond-years staffers suggested she bite into the pepper at the top. Holy hot pepper. The burn was intense. The staffer, who happens to eat 2 or 3 jalapeños a meal, got a good chuckle out of it. But we’re left a bit stumped, as we don’t recall ordering any hot red pepper seed (will need to dig into our records to be sure). And we’re remiss, as we hate to think how many CSA members used their “sweet” pepper only to find it was anything but. We ran another little taste test today, and were amazed to find that if you never come into contact with the seeds, there is no heat in the flesh of this pepper. But take the top of the pepper and roll it back and forth between your palms to press the seeds into the pepper and you’ve got yourself one heck of a hot pepper.

***Our apologies to anyone who was taken by surprise like we were.***

Grated Beet and Carrot Salad
Instead of giving CSA members a recipe for roasted beets back in July when no one could even think of turning on their oven this summer, we should have shared this “recipe” for grated beet and carrot salad from Chocolateandzucchini.com. It’s more of a roadmap than a recipe. The author includes a long list of options, so that you can easily create your own version based on what you have on hand in your kitchen (maybe some parsley left over from last week’s share?)

What’s for dinner at the farm? At Free Bird Farm, we always try to make 1 dinner a week that primarily uses ingredients going to CSA members. Sometimes you read about them in recipe form (i.e. last week's turnip and parsley salad). Sometimes we share the idea because it's simple enough that we believe you can take the concept and run with it to your liking.
Last night (Mon.) we built a sandwich off the grill with roasted bell peppers, a fistful of arugula, grilled lamb sausage, goat cheese, balsamic vinegar and some fresh garlic minced to a paste (the garlic probably would have been a little less assertive if it had been roasted and, surely, this would have been just as satisfying with grilled eggplant slices instead of the sausage). Everything was pressed between a couple slices of rustic bread brushed with olive oil and toasted on the grill. We admit that we sliced a tomato and added that in too (not in this week’s share, we regret; the crop is losing steam). We also had some raw carrots on the side.

Mustard & Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
Adapted from a recipe by Molly Stevens for Fine Cooking magazine

These potatoes start out looking very wet, but the mixture cooks down to leave the potatoes crisp, crusty, and tangy.
Serves four.

¼ cup Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons cup olive oil
2 teaspoons dry vermouth or other dry white wine
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
¾ tsp. coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch dice

Heat the oven to 400°F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mustard, olive oil, vermouth, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Add the potatoes and toss to coat. Dump the potatoes onto a large rimmed baking sheet and spread them in a single layer. Roast, tossing with a spatula a few times, until the potatoes are crusty on the outside and tender throughout, 50 to 55 min. Serve hot.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

CSA Share Week 14

(caption: a canteloupe crop damaged by a fast-progressing powdery mildew lies lifeless next to a healthy watermelon crop (front right) resistant to the air-borne fungus)

On hot pink paper we received this notice in the mail a couple weeks ago: DISEASE ALERT! DOWNY MILDEW FOUND IN FULTON, MONTGOMERY AND SCHOHARIE COUNTIES! No sooner had we read the notice from Cornell University Cooperative Extension when, sure enough, we were seeing evidence that an air-borne fungus had landed in our fields.
Our spirits especially sank when we saw it on our winter squash crop—a white to grayish powdery growth on the upper surfaces of the leaves that would quickly penetrate the plant cells and kill the plant. We’d planted our winter squash seeds back in early May and nurtured them in the greenhouse for four to five weeks. Once in the field, we kept them well weeded as the vines stretched and the broad, deep green leaves unfurled forming a dense carpet over the plant beds and spreading across the paths on each side as well. The bees did their work too, pollinating flower after flower so that the plants would successfully produce fruit. All this time, resources and work, and only to have a common fungus show up aggressively shortly before the squash was to be ready for harvest.
It looks like our farm has not been hit with downy mildew but, instead, powdery mildew, a more widespread air-borne fungus. Nonetheless, we heeded Cooperative Extension’s warnings and read their 2-page informational sheet carefully. What we found striking was that the first 1 ½ pages of information were dedicated to a long list of synthetic fungicides that can be applied to control downy mildew (if you’re a conventional farm). Names like Ranman, Revus, and phosphorus acid fungicides. There are detailed instructions as to the amounts and frequency with which these products can or should be used (it’s not as if farmers apply the fungicide once and it’s a fix). It also explains which crops certain chemicals can and cannot be used on or which combination of products can or cannot be used.
And then there’s the organic section to the mailed notice. It’s one paragraph. It starts out, “Downy mildew is challenging to manage in an organically-produced crops due to current lack of adequately effective resistant varieties, cultural practices and approved products.” The organically approved products they did mention were recommended as preventative controls only. None would eradicate the fungus.
Whichever mildew hit our winter squash crop, our cucumbers and our cantaloupe crop, it hit fast. We didn’t even have time to contemplate applying an organically approved spray. For the squash and melons, we’d have needed a boom sprayer—a sprayer that would project over a field. That’s just something we’re not about. And because both of these crops sprawl beyond their beds, we cannot straddle the crops with a tractor and a spray applicator attachment nor reach with a small backpack sprayer.
For us, part of being organic is picking our battles—especially when it comes to applying sprays to crops—even ones that are organic. We’re glad to get what melons we’ve been able to harvest—enough watermelon for everyone this week(!). We’ll take a hit on the cucumbers—but everyone received a good stretch of cucumbers earlier this season, right? And we’ll hope for the best on the winter squash. As it goes, this is farming.

A note from the farm on the national egg recall
You don’t have to pay close attention to the news to know that about a half billion eggs were recalled from two Iowa egg farms in the last month. As we were pulling our farm letter together, the New York Times posted an update reporting that federal inspectors found widespread safety problems, including barns infested with flies, maggot and rodents. “Additional problems included overflowing manure pits, improper worker sanitation and wild birds roosting around feed bins.”
When the outbreak was first reported, we saw a tv news clip that showed images of a bunch of meat birds roaming “freely”—if somewhat packed together—indoors. We figured the news channel probably didn’t want to include images of industry-raised laying hens locked up in skyscraper-like stacks of cages because it’s simply not a camera-friendly image.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with how we raise our hens, it’s a lot different from the factory-like egg farms you’re hearing about in the news. We have about 200 hens and 2 portable homes for them. Other than to lay their eggs in their houses and roost at night, they spend almost all of their day outside on pasture pecking at bugs, eating grass, running towards anything and anyone that provide them some added entertainment. Their laying nests and houses are cleaned daily, although there is not much to clean since they spend little time indoors and because one house has a mesh floor, so manure actually drops right onto the floor ground. We move the birds’ homes through the field regularly so that they’re always on fresh grass. The only time they are confined is at night. This is to protect them from night-prowling predators like fox and coyote.

1 watermelon
1 ½ pounds Tongue of Fire fresh shell beans or 3/4 lbs. edemame*
1 bulb of fennel
1 bunch carrots
2 sweet Italian bell peppers
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch leeks
1 bunch small turnips
1 small white onion and 1 small red onion or 1 large white onion

*If your distribution site received edamame last week, you will receive shell beans this week instead.

Fresh soy beans are hard to find, super easy to prepare, and fun to eat. A real treat. Eat as a snack or serve as an appetizer before dinner (or with dinner). For good instructions on how to cook, go to wikipedia.com and search "how to cook edamame." Really, it's easier than cooking pasta.

Turnip greens are exceptionally high in calcium, and many of the turnips in this week’s share have greens good enough to still eat. To cook, very briefly wilt in a medium-hot pan with olive oil and, if you like, thinly sliced leeks. Stir in some minced garlic (optional) and remove from the heat. Serve with a drizzling of apple cider vinegar cut with a little honey and some cooked Tongue of Fire beans from this week’s share.

*If you don’t think you’ll ever cook your turnip greens, pick a bunch with greens that aren’t in as good of shape so that members who are inclined to try them can enjoy them.

Turnip Parsley Salad with Walnuts and Capers
While a new crop of salad greens at Free Bird has yet to come in, the small, mild-flavored turnips in this week’s share make a nice salad ingredient along with the parsley.

1 bunch turnips
½ cup parsley leaves, packed
2 teaspoons small capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped
¼ cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons walnut oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Trim the greens and root ends from the turnips. (Reserve any good-quality greens for wilting separately; see tip). Slice the turnips in half lengthwise, and then very thinly slice into half moons. You should have about a heaping cup of very thinly sliced turnips. Place the turnips in a medium serving bowl.
Loosely tear the parsley leaves and add to the bowl. Add the capers and walnuts. Toss to combine.
Drizzle with the cider vinegar and oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss. Add more vinegar, oil, salt or pepper to taste. The salad should taste lightly dressed.

Recipe by Maryellen Driscoll, Free Bird Farm

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

CSA Share Week 13

It’s been a pretty dry summer, but this weekend we got rain. Lots of it. It started Saturday night, continued through the day Sunday, and by Monday (as our local members know) a State of Emergency was declared in our county because of flooding. Most of our fields gently slope, so nothing is sitting in puddles. This is good for the new fall plantings we’ve been putting out (see pic). But all of our field staff is off today because it’s just too wet and muddy to get anything done in the fields.

This week you are still able to enjoy summer’s peak vegetables. As the days shorten and the intensity of the sun subsides, we’ll soon be moving away from the ingredients that make for some of summer’s favorites, like fresh tomato sauce, salsa, pesto, and grilled vegetables. Enjoy as much of it as you can. Freeze the rest!

(Our phone and internet service has been out too. It’s sporadically working now. So, the content for this blog is late and sparse. Sorry.)

In this week’s local share:
4 tomatoes
1 bunch basil
Bell peppers: 2 small red, 1 yellow
1 jalapeño
1 Italian eggplant
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch swiss chard
1 red onion
1 yellow onion

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

CSA Share Week 12

Just a quick note this week as we’re temporarily short handed. Sorry for the late posting.

The Italian fresh shell beans in this week’s share are an heirloom variety we grow every year. Crack open the shell and, depending on the stage at which the beans were picked, they can range from a pale green to a richly mottled white and rose. (Either way, sadly, they turn a drab beige when cooked.) We love their creamy texture and nutty flavor.

These beans are delicious, whether they are used to make succotash, added to a minestrone soup (using fresh tomatoes and green beans from this week’s share perhaps) or tossed into a pasta. We use the beans as many ways as we can think of—in pasta, on grilled pizza, tossed with caramelized onions and fresh thyme or slathered in pan drippings from a roast chicken. Store in your refrigerator. Any unused, cooked beans freeze well for winter soups or stews (see instructions for how to cook).

Tomatoes—1 large red plus 1 quart medium-small salad tomatoes
1 lb. 8 ounces Yukon gold potatoes
1 lb. 8 ounces Fresh Italian shell beans
1 bunch parsley
5 ½ ounces arugula
1 bunch basil
¾ lb (12 ounces) green or yellow wax beans
1 bunch beets

How to Cook Fresh Shell Beans
Shell the beans, discarding the pods. (This can be really relaxing.) Cover the colorfully mottled beans in chicken broth or water with a handful of added aromatics—such as leeks or onion, carrot, parsley stems, and a bay leaf. Either keep the aromatics in large enough pieces that you can easily fish out or bundle in cheesecloth. Bring the water or broth to a boil, and then reduce to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender (30 to 50 minutes; taste to check for doneness). Sadly, the beans will lose their color and mottling as they cook. Drain in a colander.

Quick-Roasted Beet Slices
We like this recipe because it requires a short amount of time in the oven and concentrates the inherently sweet flavor that beets have to offer.

1 bunch beets
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt

After about 15 minutes, swap the pans to opposite racks and rotate halfway through.
Heat the oven to 425° F. Cover two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Slice off the tops and bottoms of the beets, reserving the beet greens for sautéing or another use if in good condition. Slice the beets into rounds as thin as possible (ideally 1/8 inch). If your beets are large, cut them in half first, lay them on their flat sides, and cut half moons instead of rounds for safer cutting. Toss the slices well with the olive oil and salt and spread them in one layer, with a little space between each, on the two baking sheets. After about 15 minutes, swap the pans to opposite racks and rotate so that they cook evenly. Continue to roast until the beets are soft and shrunken and crisp around the edges, about 25 minutes.
Serve immediately as is, drizzled with honey and melted butter, or with minced fresh basil and a drizzle of good-quality balsamic vinegar.

Or make the following salad with arugula and goat cheese salad.

Arugula with roasted beets and goat cheese saladServes 4 as a starter salad

5 ounces arugula
1 recipe quick-roasted beets (in this week’s newsletter)
Homemade balsamic or lemon vinaigrettte
1 ½ ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
¼ cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a serving bowl combine the arugula and beets. Lightly drizzle with a few tablespoons of vinaigrette and toss to combine. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with the goat cheese and walnuts and add more dressing to taste.

Green Bean Salad with Tomatoes, Arugula & Basil Dressing
by Maryellen Driscoll
Serves eight.

This recipe was originally developed for Fine Cooking magazine when I was 8 months pregnant with our son. That feels like ancient history (okay, 3 years), but a CSA member and close friend who tried this at the farm reminds me every year how much this dish inspired her to branch out. So I share it another year.

1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1 strip lemon zest about 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide, white pith removed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 lb. fresh slender green beans, trimmed (long ones snapped in half)
1 cup arugula, rinsed and spun dry
1 cup large diced tomato (or cherry tomatoes)
¾ (5 oz.) 1-inch-diameter fresh mozzarella balls (ciliegine), halved
1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice; more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

Fill an stockpot three-quarters full of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Put the basil and lemon zest in a metal sieve, immerse it in the boiling water, and blanch for 5 seconds. Remove, tapping the sieve over the sink to shake off excess water. Turn off the burner but leave the water in the pot with the cover on.

Roughly chop the lemon zest. Put the basil and lemon zest in a blender and pulse a few times. With the blender running, pour the olive oil through the lid’s fill hole and purée until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender as needed. Transfer to a small bowl or liquid measuring cup and cover. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the salad.

Return the water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 Tbs. salt and the beans. Cook until the beans are crisp-tender or fully tender, depending on your preference, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Spread the beans on a large rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate to cool completely. If making more than an hour ahead, cover and refrigerate.

In a large bowl, combine the cooled beans with the arugula, tomatoes, and mozzarella. Toss with the basil oil and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more lemon juice.

Make Ahead Tips
You can cook the beans up to a day ahead, just spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet, cover, and refrigerate. The basil dressing can also be made a day ahead. Wait to combine the beans and dressing until just before serving.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

CSA Share Week 11

Tonight: eat your corn.
Don't wait till tomorrow. And please don’t tell us if you wait until even the next day. The sooner you eat this corn, the better. We grow varieties meant for fresh
eating, not for holding their sweetness as they're shipped from the South or
California to the Northeast. The corn we grow is meant to go from field to
table. The longer the corn is stored, the more the sugar in the corn turns to
starch. Tender to the tooth and with true corn flavor, this week’s variety is just enough but not too too sweet.

If you can't prepare it tonight, wrap it in damp dishtowels (clean) or
even newspaper, tuck in a plastic bag, wrap tight or seal, and stash in your
fridge's produce bin. That's the best way to store it.

Another corn-related suggestion: when picking up your corn at today’s distribution, please don't rip the ears open. This is a CSA, not a farmers' market. We pick enough for everyone but not a whole lot more than that. (In fact, at some distribution sites, where membership is small, we send exact amounts on most things.) So any corn you tear open and toss aside is corn that some other member ultimately has to take home. THIS IS ORGANIC CORN. NOTHING HAS BEEN SPRAYED ON IT. Absolutely nothing. So there is a chance you'll get an ear with a corn earworm—usually found towards the tip of the ear. In the course of this weekend, when we cooked a lot of corn for friends and family who were visiting, we probably found 1 worm in about every dozen ears cooked. They’re not a big deal. If you come across one, take a large, strong knife, like a chef's knife, and simply cut the tip off the corn (or the section where the worm has dined). Discard what you've cut away and enjoy the rest.

Similarly, this week you're going to see some less than picture-perfect
tomatoes. As a general rule of thumb, these are the tastiest of the batch,
as these are heirloom varieties. Heirlooms are not meant to look like the
perfectly uniform, candy-red tomatoes you see in the supermarket. They're
old-fashioned tomatoes regarded for their supreme flavor. They don't tend to ripen to a uniform red. Some aren't even supposed to be red, like the Pink
Beauties you see in this photo. Heirlooms can appear misshapen, they often
have cracks by the stem, but boy do they taste good.

As with the corn, we kindly ask that you don't overly handle the
tomatoes at distribution—squeezing one after the other to find the ripest of the lot. If you pick one up that's still on the firm side, consider this a long-term
asset. Left out on your countertop, it will be at its peak ripeness in a few
days when the riper others in your share have passed their time.

Tomatoes should be stored on the countertop. Refrigeration makes them mushy. If you've only used half of a tomato, store slice-side down on a plate and, if you like, cover with a bowl.


6 ears of sweet corn
4 tomatoes
1 jalapeño
5 ½ ounces salad mix
1 Japanese eggplant
1 red onion
1 bunch swiss chard
1 bunch carrots
2 sweet Italian frying pepper


If you haven’t been eating a carrot (or two) a day, take the challenge. Even as a late-morning snack. It’ll make you feel good. If you’re still behind on using your carrots and are loathe to turn on the oven and roast some with supper or bake some carrot cake for dessert, why not pickles? We liked this recipe for its simplicity. There are others, including one we plan to try this week from Thomas Keller’s book Ad Hoc at Home, that makes use of the jalapeño in this week’s share—in case you don’t use it to make in the salsa recipe below.

Pickled Carrot Sticks
from Gourmet | November 2003; originally published November 1985

Zanne Stewart, Gourmet's executive food editor, originally developed these carrot sticks to take on a picnic, but they were such a hit they've become a staple in her refrigerator. Best of all, they don't need to be sealed in sterilized jars, so they're a snap to make.

Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings

1 pound carrots, cut into 3 1/2- by 1/3-inch sticks
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
1 1/2 tablespoons dill seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons salt

Blanch carrots in a 4-quart nonreactive saucepan of boiling salted water 1 minute, then drain in a colander and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Transfer carrots to a heatproof bowl.

Bring remaining ingredients to a boil in saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes. Pour pickling liquid over carrots and cool, uncovered. Chill carrots, covered, at least 1 day for flavors to develop.

Cooks' note:
Carrots keep, chilled in an airtight container, 1 month.

If you’re a vegetarian, skip the grilled chicken part of this recipe and serve over beans and rice or with quesadillas.

Grilled Chicken with Tomato, Lime & Cilantro Salsa
Adapted from a recipe by Jessica Bard in Fine Cooking magazine

This dish is also delicious served cold or at room temperature over salad greens. Serves four as a main course, six to eight as a “small plate.”

2 cups seeded, diced ripe tomatoes (2 to 3 medium tomatoes)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 to 4 tablespoons finely diced red onion
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Finely grated zest of 1 lime (about 1 tsp.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. minced chipotle (from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1-1/2 to 2 lb.)

Prepare a medium-hot grill fire.

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, lime juice, 1 Tbs. of the oil, and the lime zest. If your tomatoes aren’t perfectly ripe and sweet, add 1/2 tsp. sugar. Season with 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.

In another medium bowl, mix the chipotle, the remaining 2 Tbs. oil, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.

Trim the chicken. If the tenderloins are still attached, remove them and save for another use. Use the flat side of a meat mallet to pound each chicken breast to an even 1/2-inch thickness. Add the chicken to the chipotle mixture and toss well to coat.

When the grill is ready, lay the chicken on the hot grill grates and cook, covered, until the chicken has grill marks and the edges turn opaque, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the breasts and continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice each breast crosswise on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange the chicken on a platter and top with the salsa.

Make Ahead Tips
If you're serving at room temperature, the chicken can be grilled ahead. After grilling, let it cool for 20 minutes, refrigerate (for up to 8 hours), and slice just before serving with the salsa. The salsa ingredients may be prepared up to 2 hours ahead, but mix them together just before serving.

Yes, another week of eggplant. Some may be cheering. Others may be in need of something that takes this nutty, creamy vegetable a step further than just grilling or roasting (although that would be just great with a quick- sauce from this week’s tomatoes). Caponata--a sweet-and-sour Sicilian version of ratatouille--is the ticket. We like this recipe because it doesn’t involve the tedious step of salting your eggplant in advance, which we’ve never found all that necessary. Maybe that’s the difference between really fresh eggplant and not. It wouldn’t ruin the dish if you want to skip going out and buying celery. Try chopping up some of this week’s pepper instead.

Sicilian-Style Eggplant Caponata
Adapted from Wholefoods.com

Serves 4
Make sure to bring the caponata to room temperature before serving. It's delicious spooned onto bruschetta or pita chips.

3 cups chopped eggplant
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup celery, diced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon capers, drained
3 tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts
1 1/2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon natural cane sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon dried chile flakes, optional
Sea salt, to taste
1/4 cup green Sicilian olives, minced for garnish

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss chopped eggplant with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt to taste. Place a piece of unbleached parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Spread eggplant in one layer over the parchment paper. Bake eggplant for 25 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, sauté onion, garlic and celery over medium heat in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil until onions are translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and eggplant. Continue to cook for 3 minutes. Add capers, pine nuts, sugar, vinegar and chili flakes, if desired. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until tomatoes are tender and vegetables are melding together.

Season to taste with sea salt. Garnish with minced olives. Refrigerate for at least four hours or, even better, overnight.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

CSA Share week 10

Good bye July. And good riddance. It was one of the hottest and driest of summer months on record. We have been noticing some low yields and heat stress on certain crops because of the weather but are surprised and relieved that overall the vegetables are hanging on. In late July and early August we begin to prep beds and plant cool-loving fall crops, such as peas, spinach, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. For us, this means a significant change in weather is just around the corner. Hard to believe. We’re already starting to get some cool nights, which pleasantly makes for better sleeping.
So as we enjoy August’s heat-loving crops, which have been months in the making—tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and melons (ETA closer to Sept.)—we hope for rain to get the fall crops off to a good start.


1 large Italian eggplant
1 bunch carrots
1 bunch parsley
1 head of garlic
2 bell peppers
1 bunch kale
2 cucumbers
3/4 lb. (12 ounces) green beans



Kale with Panfried Walnuts
From Gourmet | November 2009
Recipe by Ian Knauer

When earthy greens are tossed with a walnut- and garlic-scented oil and lots of crunchy nuts, they taste delightfully new.

Yield: Makes 8 servings
Active Time: 20 min
Total Time: 30 min

3 pounds kale, stems and center ribs discarded
1 cup chopped walnuts (3 1/2 ounces)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Tear kale into large pieces, then cook in a large pot of well-salted boiling water, uncovered, until tender, about 6 minutes. Drain kale, and, when cool enough to handle, press out excess liquid.

Cook walnuts in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until pale golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 1 minute. Add kale and salt and pepper to taste and cook, tossing, until heated through.

Serve kale warm or at room temperature.

Spicy Parmesan Green Beans and Kale
From foodnetwork.com
Recipe by Giada De Laurentiis

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1/4 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered (about 14 mushrooms)
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and slice into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bunch kale (1/2 pound), rinsed, stemmed, and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan

Warm the olive oil in a large, heavy saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, green beans, salt, and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine and continue cooking until the green beans are almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and the kale and continue cooking until the kale has wilted, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and the Parmesan cheese. Toss to coat and serve immediately.

Monday, July 26, 2010

CSA Share Week 9

There’s something triumphant about seeing the season’s first mature eggplant-- glossy, rich, vibrant—dangling purple under a canopy of large felt-like, green leaves. We’re glad to see this crop looking healthy and abundant. A nod must go to Ken and our 5-year-daughter Alis who spent many an evening hand picking Colorado potato beetles and their larvae from the plants’ leaves, so that these predatory insects didn’t decimate the crop. (As mentioned in a previous note: having planted our potato crop about ¼ mile away from our main veggie field, the beetles chose to hammer in on the eggplant this year instead.) Sometimes Ken & Alis would squish the yellow and black striped beetles between their fingers or pinch the red-orange grubs until they popped like berries. Other times they’d collect the beetles in a coffee cup, so Alis could proudly bring her found treasure back to the house to show everyone before incinerating in our wood-burning furnace.
It’s the end of July, and we’re moving plants, such as Brussels sprouts and collards, out of the greenhouse and into the fields. In the past week we also planted a 2nd crop of tomato plants, hoping to stretch the tomato season, which we’re now just beginning. These late plants will hopefully yield through September, and, if we're lucky, into October.

We'd like to encourage everyone to use their veggies for snacks in addition to using for dinner. We were chomping on the purple carrots this morning while packing up members’ shares. The yellow wax beans, too, make a great snack. Last night we wanted to test the cooking time on the “lower-fat” roasting method for eggplant (recipe in this week’s newsletter) and couldn’t help but graze off the cooled roasting pan every time we passed by. One of our beloved farmers’ market supporters swears by a steady diet of swiss chard smoothies, which we’re tempted to try. In case anyone is choking at the thought, he says adding banana and avocado are key. (Owning a deluxe blender, like a VitaMix, is essential for "juicing" greens too. We're not purists. We like sweets. But we never regret when we grab something like a carrot for a snack instead.


1 large eggplant
1 bunch purple carrots
1 bunch beets
1 head of Romaine lettuce
6 ounces spicy baby greens (see note)
1 large, sweet onion
12 ounces yellow wax beans
1 bunch Swiss chard



Grilled Eggplant
Grilling eggplant is simple and delicious. Serve it as a side as is or topped with any of the following individually or in combination: crumbled feta or goat cheese, chopped olives, toasted pine nuts, minced garlic and/or a fresh herb, such as parsley, basil, mint or oregano. Or add it to a pasta dish or layered in lasagna.

1 large eggplant
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
Kosher salt

Prepare a medium-high charcoal or gas grill fire. Trim the ends off the eggplant and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Just before grilling, brush both sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil and season with salt. Grill (covered on a gas grill; uncovered on a charcoal grill) until golden-brown grill marks form, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the eggplant and grill until tender and well marked on the second sides, 3 to 4 minutes more. The interior should be soft and grayish in color.

Spaghetti with (Lower-Fat) Eggplant and Basil
Adapted from How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman (Macmillan, 1998)

Eggplant soaks up a startling amount of olive oil, especially if you sauté it in a skillet. Roasting does turn the flesh a tasty golden brown without requiring quite so much oil.

1 Italian globe eggplant, stem end trimmed
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups canned (drained) plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
Kosher salt
¼ cup shredded fresh basil leaves
1 pound spaghetti, linguine, or other long pasta

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Cut the eggplant into ½-inch cubes/chunks. Once the oven is heated, pile the eggplant in a roasting pan or heavy-duty baking sheet, drizzle with 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and toss. Cook on the middle or lower-middle rack, until the eggplant cubes have turned golden brown, after about 10 minutes. Flip a metal spatula over so its underside faces up, and push the spatula’s edge through the eggplant to turn it over. Continue to roast until golden brown on 2 sides and tender, about 5 to 7 minutes more.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.

As the pot of water is heating, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to a 12-inch skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they break up and the mixture becomes saucy, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt. Add the roasted eggplant and ¼ cup shredded basil leaves (or a tablespoon of pesto—especially if you’d made some from this season’s past shares and stored in the freezer). Taste and add more salt, if needed.

Cook the spaghetti in the boiling water until al dente—tender but firm, not mushy. Drain.

Add the spaghetti to the pan of sauce. Using tongs, toss to gently coat the noodles with the sauce. Serve.



This week’s baby greens are spicy a mix of arugula, baby mustard and baby Asian greens. Use them to make a salad, wilt with a warm dressing or briefly in a pan of hot oil with minced garlic, or stuff in a crusty sandwich with grilled eggplant and a soft, melty cheese, like Taleggio, with a slice from this week’s mild onion and a drizzling of balsamic vinegar.

Store this week’s large, white onion in the refrigerator. It’s mild in flavor. Slice and eat raw in salads or sandwiches or cook gently in a fry pan with butter and/or oil as it caramelizes nicely.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

CSA Share Week 8

We wouldn’t be surprised if members have seen an occasional ladybug, cabbage looper (light green “caterpillars” that cling to the undersides of broccoli), or other insect amidst the produce at distribution. But frogs ?! Gulp.
Somehow a frog snuck into one of the farm’s produce totes and made it on the truck to New York City. (Sounds like the beginning of a classic children’s adventure story.) Fortunately, a CSA member was kind enough to set it free in a nearby park. One of our CSA organizers in the city wrote, “I love it! Does it get any more “farm fresh” than that.” We should hope not. A wild rabbit would have a harder time snuggling into a bin of lettuce without notice (though we wouldn’t mind one less rabbit around here). Our neighbor once had a chicken ride on the axle of his truck into town…
We wish the frog well!

Other farm happenings:
We just wrapped up our garlic harvest. This is usually a big feat to squeeze in with everything else we never have enough time to do. But this year’s field crew works like World Cup champions in the (veggie) field--incredibly team spirited. One day they got an early start at 6 a.m.—without our even asking. The harvest was wrapped in less than a week (versus the usual 10 to 14 days). Hooray.

We’re anxiously waiting to see our tomato crop ripen. A grower friend who is all about his tomatoes assures us that his crop seems to be taking its time too. So it could be a few more weeks before we’re really picking tomatoes. Other classic summer crops, like eggplant and peppers, should be arriving within the next few weeks too.

Feedback. One of our original CSA members from up in the Adirondacks recently wrote: “I just made a big pot of veggie and split pea soup with our leftover CSA veggies. The kids even asked for seconds! I froze some onion greens and for dinner I am making roasted beets with candied ginger and brook trout that my husband and kids caught yesterday. I needed a day like today! It feels so good to cook with fresh veggies and ingredients on hand.”

We love this kind of correspondence. It’s great to hear how members are using their produce.
We’d like to hear from you too: Use the farm's e-mail address to share with us what you’ve been doing with the items in your share. It doesn’t need to be in recipe form, and it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A simple idea is great; the simpler the better. Something we can then share with everyone else. We can all benefit from others’ inspirations/creations.
Or send us a question! We’d love to include a Q&A section to the weekly blog (or, if your CSA group has its own newsletter, to that too).

1 bunch carrots
1 Napa cabbage
¾ lb. (12 oz.) green beans
2 jalapeño peppers
1 bunch curly-leaf kale
1 head cauliflower
2 cucumbers
2 lbs. summer squash (mix of green zucchini, golden zucchini and/or crookneck summer squash)
1 bunch fresh red onions




Serves 6
Toss with peeled, cooked shrimp to make a complete meal.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch thick half moons
3 tablespoons finely diced red onion
Kosher salt
1 1/4 cups quinoa, rinsed for 1 minute under running water
2 1/2 cups water
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup thinly sliced red onion or green onion tops
Finely chopped parsley (optional)
Crumbled feta (optional)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini in a single layer. Season with salt and cook, flipping once the zucchini is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle in the onion, stir with a spatula to blend, and remove from the heat. In a large saucepan, add the quinoa, water and a large pinch of Kosher salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, until quinoa is tender but still chewy and a white spiral-like germ appears around each grain, about 15 minutes.

Add the quinoa to the zucchini, zest, lemon juice, onion tops and parsley (if using) and toss. Serve warm or room temperature, topped with feta cheese and a wedge of lemon if you like.

Per serving (about 6oz/184g-wt.): 170 calories (45 from fat), 5g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 5mg cholesterol, 570mg sodium, 25g total carbohydrate (3g dietary fiber, 1g sugar), 6g protein
Adapted from the Whole Foods’ web site


This is a riff off of a recipe for sticky rice pancakes published in “Simple to Spectacular” by Jean-Gorges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman (Broadway Books, 2000). The salty-tart sauce might be a little unexpected but works particularly nicely with the cabbage.

1 ½ cups sticky or sweet rice
4 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage
¼ cup thinly sliced red onion or fresh green onion tops
Minced jalapeño (to your liking)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons peanut or other neutral oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup chopped peanuts

Soak the rice in water to cover for at least 1 hour or, preferably, overnight. Bring a pot of water to boil (use a wok or pasta pot). Drain the soaked rice in a mesh colander and set the colander over the pot of boiling water (the rice should not be immersed in the water). Cover and steam for about 8 minutes, until all traces of chalkiness are gone and the rice is fully tender.

In a small saucepan, combine the butter, soy sauce, and lime juice. Turn the heat to low to melt the butter. Season with pepper. Set aside.

In a wok or large fry pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage and onion and cook, tossing frequently with tongs, until just wilted. Serve the cabbage mixture draped over the rice. Spoon some of sauce over the cabbage, sprinkle with the peanuts and serve.

If you wish to make the rice into crunchy pancakes: toss it while still hot with 1 tablespoon butter, some salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in 1 lightly beaten egg, 2 minced scallions, and 2 tablespoons minced cilantro. Gently shape into 4 large or 8 small cakes. In a large fry pan heat 2 tablespoons of peanut or other mild oil over medium-high heat. Cook the cakes in the hot oil until lightly browned on both sides, a total of 4 to 6 minutes.


Macerating the grated zucchini—tossing it with sugar and
leaving it to sit—helps draw out excess moisture to avoid
the soggy, dense texture that typically plagues zucchini

Serves 8

4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter; more for the pan
9 ½ oz. (2 cups plus 2 Tbs.) all-purpose flour; more for the
¾ lb. zucchini (about 3 small), stem ends trimmed
¾ cup plus 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
1/3 cup strongly brewed coffee, cold or at room temperature
1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt or buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 oz. finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (1/3 cup)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (1 oz.)
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. table salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the
oven to 375°F. Butter a 8 ½ x 4 1/2-inch metal loaf pan and
dust with flour; tapping out any excess.
Using the large grating disk on a food processor, pass
the zucchini vertically through the feed tube to grate. (If
the zucchini is too wide to fit, slice in half lengthwise.)
Discard any remaining ungrated portions wedged on top
of the disc. Transfer the grated zucchini to a colander or
sieve set over a bowl. Sprinkle 1 Tbs. of the sugar over the
grated zucchini and toss to distribute. Sprinkle another
1 Tbs. sugar over the zucchini and toss again. Set aside
for 20 minutes.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low
heat. Pour the butter into a medium bowl and let cool
slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk the remaining 3/4 cup
sugar, coffee, yogurt or buttermilk, and eggs into the
In a large bowl, combine the flour, chocolate, walnuts,
baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
Squeeze the zucchini by the fistful to thoroughly wring
out excess liquid. Add the zucchini to the wet ingredients
and stir to combine. Pour over the flour mixture, and using
a large wooden spoon, stir until just blended.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, spreading
it evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake until a toothpick
inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let
cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the edges with
a knife and release the bread, turning upright onto the
rack until completely cooled.

Recipe by Maryellen Driscoll, Free Bird Farm


Napa cabbage has a more delicate flavor and tender texture than green or red cabbage, which makes it popular for use in cole slaw. We like it, too, in stir fries.

Purple carrots. If you can believe it, carrots were originally purple. We’ve been growing a particular purple variety of carrot, called Purple Haze, for a number of years now. It actually outsells orange carrots at one farmers’ market we attend, because our customers have come to know and love this variety well.
The carrots—purple or orange—are terrific as a fresh snack, but we also love to roast them as it concentrates their sweet flavor. Before roasting, wash the carrots but don’t bother peeling. Toss with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in a 425° F oven on a baking sheet with raised edges until they feel tender when skewered with a fork, 25 to 30 minutes. About halfway through cooking, do shake the baking pan back and forth so that the golden undersides of the carrots roll to face upwards.

Quick weeknight pasta with cauliflower Cauliflower is an easy veggie to add to a quick weeknight pasta. Cut into small florets and sauté or roast until golden brown and tender. Stir in some minced garlic at the end of cooking, and then toss with white, kidney or aduki beans, chopped capers, a pinch of red pepper flakes and a pasta of choice (set aside a little pasta cooking water to add as needed; it helps moisten and bring everything together). If you eat meat, sausage or crisped prosciutto is a nice addition. Serve with grated parmigiano.