Monday, December 31, 2012

Fall/Winter CSA Week 13 and Massaged Greens.


My kitty cats have caused a fair bit of worry over the holiday season.

The beautiful young lady pictured above definitely caused the most worry. Penny is one of the most agile kitties I have, but mystery to end all mysteries made a big mess of her leg on the 26th.  Penny is actually not young and her newly broken leg won't heal up as quickly as it would if she were. 

She is laying pretty low now with a pin in her leg and a big bandage. It is so sad, but she still can manage a purr when petted.

The other cat related problem was caused by the young Basil Rathbone who startled Emily as she sliced into an orange. This resulted in a trip to the emergency department and 4 stitches for Emily, not Basil.



It was good to get out into the hoophouses and reflect on all this in the quiet and cold as I picked the greens that went into today's baskets.


It takes me a few days to pick the greens in this cold weather. It's cold, no longer just cool. With the definite lack of sun during the past few days, the hoophouses are cold too and my fingers freeze up pretty quickly. I come in the house, warm them up under warm water or warm them on the woodstove and out I go again.

The greens in those baskets are hard fought for.


There are only 2 weeks left in this CSA season. January 15th is the last delivery. There will still be greens and I will post information on how they will be sold. 

I have also promised to have 2013 CSA info up on my website by the 15th. If you are currently in my CSA and are interested in the 2013 version, please let me know. Returning shareholders will have first dibs and I will be downsizing somewhat for next year. Stay tuned!
Baskets today contained a few different arugula varieties, a good number of different mustards, kales, choi and a bit of fresh basil.

I am slow coming in on this whole massaged kale thing.
Now I've done it though I'm wondering what took me so long. I'm also fond of massaging all the greens that you find in your basket. It's nice to mix the greens and mix the flavours.

Here's what I tried last night...

Mixed Massaged Green Salad

1 large bundle of mixed greens-kales, arugula, mustards Etc
1/4 cup good olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp sea salt
raisin, apples, grated carrots to taste

Strip the greens off the stem and add olive oil and salt. Massage until tender.
mix in the rest and enjoy!

Very easy and good.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas




I got today's baskets delivered a bit earlier than usual today.
Tomorrow is Christmas, and I have a few presents to wrap and a furry house to clean up courtesy of my large four legged family.

My children are growing up and my parents are both gone, so Christmas for me and many my age is different than it was.

I would love to go to church tonight, but doubt that will be possible. The last time I went on Christmas eve was five years ago, with my mom. She struggled to walk, her body full of cancer. But as the hymns started up, she sang.  It was her last Christmas.  She knew it, as did we.

My daughters have told me if I can do it, they'll go to church with me. I would become a teary mess , but it would be so good for my soul.

It likely won't be this year though. As I drove home from delivering the veggies, "Silent Night" played on the radio, and my tears flowed freely.  Not a good sign that I will handle a one hour service well at all.

As I get older, I understand the gifts my parents gave me in my childhood, and I know that's why I am so emotional right now.

Christmas is a family time and this seems to be the case regardless of your beliefs.  A giving time and a happy time for some. But also a time of great sadness.

It is a time to miss and remember those who are not with you anymore. A time to think of the simplicity of being a carefree child at Christmas as magic unfolded around you, and miss those times.

A time to enjoy your children as they marvel at the magic of Christmas.

It's a time when you stop and realize that many of the mistakes you have made in life are catching up with you. A time of reflection.

A time of gratitude for some, a time of loneliness for others.

So the best I can wish for you is peace.


If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. ( Mother Theresa)




Merry Christmas everyone.








Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fall /Winter CSA Week 11 and Kale Salad

It's week 41 of deliveries for my CSA. Four weeks to go with the fall/winter season ending on January 15.  Oh yes, the new year.

Winter/Spring basket

I am extremely grateful to everyone for taking part this year, especially those of you who have been on board for all 3 seasons.  After 45 weeks of eating out of my gardens and greenhouses, you have a true sense of eating seasonally, and of course what kind of a growing year it has been.

Spring/Summer
This year has had it's ups and downs. Some things did very well, like the beets for example that keep on coming. The peppers and basils of course too were exceptional.

The tomatoes didn't produce nearly as many as I would have hoped and the eggplants and potatoes did very poorly in the dry summer.

Of course we worked hard and I was very lucky to have Maris the amazing farm intern here to help me.

Today's baskets
Growing in the greenhouses doesn't completely ensure that weather isn't an issue, but it is a help. I still need to vent on sunny days, but really there hasn't been a whole lot of sun lately.

The weather of late has been damp, cool and overcast  which can cause disease and insect problems in the greenhouses.  So far so good, but who knows. Weather is the ultimate decider of how any season goes. And every season. A crap shoot, always.


For the next two weeks deliveries are on Monday.

That is your deliveries of fresh arugula, mizuna, mibuna, mispoona, giant red mustard, green wave mustard, ching chang choi, chards, kales, collards and many many other greens. I hope I am mixing them up enough so that everyone is trying all my current crops.

It'll be a green Christmas, in more ways than one!
(recipe from epicurious.com)



Kale Salad with Dates, Parmesan and Almonds

ingredients

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 shallot, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 bunches kale, stems removed, leaves shredded or finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 8 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 2 1/2 ounces Parmesan, shaved with a peeler

preparation

In a bowl, whisk juice, shallot, honey, salt and pepper flakes. Add kale; toss well. Let sit 20 minutes. Mix in oil. Refrigerate for up to 1 day, or serve immediately. In a dry pan, toast almonds over medium heat, tossing constantly, until color deepens, 1 to 2 minutes. Add almonds, dates and Parmesan to kale; serve.







Thursday, December 13, 2012

Coming in 2013- 500 Heirloom Tomato Seedling Varieties... and counting!

Tomatoes.
That's where my fuzzy and embattled brain is at these days.


 I am busy planning for next year, and the planning for my heirloom tomato seedling sales is peaking right now.
I hope you'll consider it worthwhile to make the trip out to Wellandport in the spring. I think it is going to be a bit more special than ever.
I've sold seedlings for many years now, and grown them for many, many more.


I know tomatoes.  I have grown more than a thousand varieties over the course of my 15 year career as a small farmer.  Grown them and eaten them too. (That scares me a bit.)

In 2013 things will change a bit here in the spring. Tree and Twig will function more as a small garden centre.


I plan on opening in early April for transplant sales of cold hardy veg varieties like lettuces, brassicas etc. and will have a small shop space with lots of beautiful heirloom vegetable seeds and a number of other garden related items. But if you need seed before that and can't get out to a Seedy Saturday to find me, no problem at all. I'll open earlier.



There will be more than 500 varieties of tomatoes, one of the largest collections of which I am aware. Could be hundreds more than that though. I'll know for sure when I get through the arduous task of organizing my seed. Egad.


I am working on the actual listing now, which I will post when complete.
As I am a small grower doing it big, there are limited quantities of each variety, but also so many good ones.  I never run out, I grow lots.
Pre-orders will be available as always.



I will also continue the focus on peppers, eggplants and all manner of wonderful heirloom vegetables....from the common to the less common. Ground cherries, cape gooseberries, cukes, squash... cool stuff, cool varieties.

This is heirloom tomato utopia, hot pepper heaven, eggplant euphoria and ground cherry ground zero.  Good, eh?


These are all things I grow myself so I can talk to you about the growing process, the varieites and the problems.

Tomato Days on the long weekend in May will still be the time when I haul out the biggest selection. I have to do it this way because of my limited greenhouse space at the front of my property and the precariousness of our spring weather. Plus it's fun...don't you think? The heirloom tomato treasure hunt.


Check my website soon too for my popular seed starting workshops in the spring.
It's gonna be a good year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fall/Winter CSA Week 10 and Mustard Green Pesto


There was lots of action on the farm today.

When I went out to let me chickens out this morning, my ducks were avoiding the pond in a rather uncharacteristic manner.
As I approached the pond, I heard a splash. I was too late to catch of what it was so I hung around and waited.  I pretty much knew who to expect.
Then he appeared and yes, it was just who I thought. A muskrat.

This of course isn't a good thing for anybody, my pond included. Fortunately when I got home from deliveries, Mollie and I rounded up the ducks quite easily and they are in their winter abode for now. Safe and out of harm's way.

It was tough loading up the greens with the chickens carousing in the driveway.  They spotted the greens in the baskets and I nearly wondered if they were going to pop up into my car and devour the goodies.


Hard to figure when the grass is still green, but I guess all like variety in our diets.





Mollie was thrilled...thrilled I say, to be delivering vegetables with me because of a day off from school.
You can see the excitement in her eyes. My girls will most likely take over Tree and Twig soon. It's what they aspire to. Umm, yes. Right-ee-o.

I remember years ago when I spoke to a high school class I bored the kids beyond belief. Finally I asked the class if anyone wanted to be a farmer when they finished school. They looked at me like my head was a cauliflower. I was just that weird to suggest such a thing.
No hands went up. "Why not?" I asked. The work is too hard and the money too little was the unanimous reply.
I suspect my girls feel the same way.  It's just not what most kids think about doing.

Note the greens in the baskets today. It is going to be a green Christmas after all!
For a little info on the nutritional value of mustard greens, look here.


Some greens you may recognize, some you may not. It is a nice versatile mix of tastes and textures.
There are still beets coming out of the garden and they are delicious roasted with the stems on. Sweet and earthy.
If anyone has any favourite ways to prepare these greens and you'd like to share, I'd love to hear from you. 
In the meantime, Mustard Green Pesto is something just a bit different. 
This recipe is from Bon Appetit.

Mustard Green Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms

Ingredients

PESTO

  • 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups (loosely packed) coarsely chopped mustard greens

MUSHROOMS AND PASTA

  • 8 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound fusilli (spiral-shaped pasta) or rotelle
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated smoked mozzarella cheese (about 2 ounces)

Preparation

PASTA

  • Blend 1/2 cup oil, pecans, and garlic in processor until finely chopped. Add vinegar, then Parmesan; process to blend. Add mustard greens alternately with remaining 1/3 cup oil in 2 additions each; puree until almost smooth. Season pesto with salt and pepper. Transfer to small bowl. DO AHEAD Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover; chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before using.

MUSHROOMS AND PASTA

  • Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sage and saut√© just until mushrooms wilt, about 3 minutes. Add wine and saut√© until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Return pasta to pot. Add pesto and mushrooms; toss to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer pasta to bowl. Sprinkle with smoked mozzarella cheese and serve.







Monday, December 10, 2012

December Harvest en Images

Beautiful baby September planted beets

Oodles of different mustards and bright little turnips

Mizuna and tender mustard



Chard stems are more brilliant in the cold

Choi

Tons of kale

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

CSA Week 9 and Beet and Arugula Salad


Ever typical Canadian that I am, I will begin this blog post by commenting on the weather.
As my chosen profession is connected so strongly to the whims of the weather, I am not beyond checking the weather several times a day to see what is in store.
Most days I find there is weather, and today was no exception.
December 4, 2012 and according to my outdoor thermometer, my car's thermometer, the internet, the paper and the radio yes siriee -we hit 16 degrees C.

Safe for another week.

My CSA has another 6 weeks left and I wonder how precisely I am going to keep the veggies that I leave at my drop off locations from freezing up when the temperatures drop.
If you head out to pick up your basket on a chilly afternoon, don't be surprised if you find it under a pile of blankets.

Sure wasn't the case today though.

Everybody here is loving it, myself included. The chickens are out cruising having gobbled up all greens within eyeshot, the ducks whom I had put in because of the cold weather of last week, are out on their pond again, and I'm amazed that I can wash produce outside again without freezing my hands.

I know it won't stay this way and nor should it I guess. But I'll take it while I can get it.

My beautiful 11 year old Mottled Java
Come cold, snow, freezing temperatures or unanticipated heat waves, the next six weeks will see the CSA baskets springing forth with loads of greens.


With the vast majority of the produce coming from the hoop houses now, it really will work out best for me if the weather stays a consistent cold.
Yesterday for example with the sun shining the temperatures in the hoophouses reach silly temperatures...close to 30 degrees C. And because I had already battened down the hatches for winter weather, the vents closed up so the fans couldn't blow the air through, the heat was stifling.

Last winter, the winter that wasn't, was a tough year to be a cool weather grower. My hoop houses were consistently too warm and disease and insects were a problem...a problem I've never had in the winter.  So in thinking about it all, a colder winter would work very well.

The baskets today were again very green with some purple hues thrown in for good measure. There were many, many mustard varieties in the baskets as well as other greens. Arugula, kales, choi, as well as beets, broccoli or kohlrabi rounded out the baskets.


Some of the mustards are mild and crunchy, like the mizspoona, while others like the Giant Red or Green Wave are peppery and pungent. There are lots of very interesting tastes in the baskets that are good for lots of different dishes.

I love the crunch of the juicy stems, and even when recipes call for tearing the greens off the stem, I tend to ignore that. I eat so many stems during the course of a day that I think people driving by my small farm must think I'm a smoker because there is always something sticking out of my mouth. It's just got to be better for me than smoking.

Thanks to my friend Tiffany for inspiring me to include this recipe. It is from www.foodnetwork.com
If anyone wants to add some suggestions for their favourite recipes using arugula, mustards greens, kales or any other winter greens, I am all ears!

Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad


Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 medium beets, cooked and quartered
  • 6 cups fresh arugula
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
  • 1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
  • 3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled

Directions

Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Whisk the vinegar, shallots, and honey in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with salt and pepper. Toss the beets in a small bowl with enough dressing to coat. Place the beets on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the beets are slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Set aside and cool.
Toss the arugula, walnuts, and cranberries in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mound the salad atop 4 plates. Arrange the beets around the salad. Sprinkle with the avocado and goat cheese, and serve.