Chickens Translated

At Kellner Back Acre Garden, we are pleased to offer you organic chickens and eggs, as certified by NICS.  But will all the marketing, it can be difficult to understand what organic means versus natural?  Or whether you need to also look for non-GMO and antibiotic-free?  We’re here to try to de-mystify some of the typical language used with chickens for consumption.

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Natural: Since this term is not regulated, it’s hard to define universally what this means.  However, typically it means no added colors, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.

Chemical-free: Similar to natural, to use this term there is no direct regulation.  However, it is often used by vendors who provide very similar practices as organic practices, but something is preventing them from calling it organic.  For example, prior to obtaining our organic certification, we raised “chemical-free” birds because we were working through certification.  However, given the difference in what this can mean, ask your farmer.

Non-GMO: GMO is short for genetically-modified organisms.  To aid in our need for mass quantities of grains worldwide for food and fuel, commercial farming industry created GMO grains to resist drought, insecticides, and insects.  This allows better yields of crops.  So while most chickens are not GMO, many non-organic chickens are fed corn, which is nearly always GMO.  Non-GMO means the feed provided to the chicken was made without the incorporation of any GMO products.

Antibiotic-free:  Sometimes antibiotics are used for sick livestock, but when that occurs, there are certain time limits before that animal can be sent for human consumption to ensure the antibiotic is no longer in its system.  However, sometimes antibiotics are used to increase the growth of the animal.  The fear by some is that use of antibiotics so regularly will result in drug-restraint strains of bacteria in the meat.  Meat that is labeled antibiotic-free means no antibiotics were used in that animal.

Pasture raised (or free range):  USDA requires that to use this label, the chicken had outdoor access.  Chickens meeting this criteria often take longer to grow, as they get exercise, as opposed to sitting in one spot and fattening up for market.  Those who are concerned about humane treatment should absolutely look for this label.

Cage free: This means the chickens are not kept in small or individual cages and are allowed to spread their wings and lay eggs in a more natural environment.

Organic:  To use this label, the grower must be certified.  It requires meeting very strict criteria.  The egg laid must be organic; once hatched, the chick must only ever be fed organic feed; and must never be fed GMO products or use antibiotics.

You can be rest assured that our chickens are natural, chemical-free, non-GMO, antibiotic free, pasture-raised, cage-free, and organic.  Order your chickens here or better yet – stop at the farm and stock up your freezer today!

Photo credit: FreeImages.com/ Przemyslaw Kucinski

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Week #4 in full swing

8ballzucchini

Welcome to week #4 of our harvest.  The picture above is from our very own harvest this week – 8-ball zucchini!  It’s a hybrid summer squash that is perfect for stuffing.  Not sure how to use it?  Check out our recipe below.  Otherwise, it really can be used a substitute for zucchini in any of your favorite recipes.

This week, we are offering CSA customers the following in their shares:

Napa cabbage; Red Lettuce; Radishes; Bok Choy; Peas; 8-ball Zucchini

In other news, our self-service store is open for the season!  It’s a lot of work to get ready every year after using the area in the off season for storage and to begin our tiny seedlings in the late winter/early spring.  The benefit to our customers is they can stop by any time they want and help themselves to our delicious produce.  In addition to our weekly harvest items, you’ll also find our organic chickens & eggs.  Right now, we also have organic brats and breakfast sausages.  If you aren’t comfortable with the self-service store, please come on Fridays when Nancy is available and she is happy to show you around.

Whether it’s at drop-off sites, at our self-service store on the farm, or at Manitowoc Farmer’s Market, we hope to see you this week!

Stuffed Zucchini Parmesan (6 servings)

  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 6 eight-ball zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup packed spinach leaves
  • 8 basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3/4 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped plum tomato
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
    Flat-leaf parsley sprigs

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Place pulp in food processor until finely chopped; set aside. Steam zucchini shells, covered, 6 minutes or until tender. Drain, cut sides down, on several layers of heavy-duty paper towels.

Place spinach, basil, garlic, and onion in food processor; process until finely chopped. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add spinach mixture; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add zucchini pulp, tomato, and salt; cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in breadcrumbs.

Fill each zucchini half with about 2 1/2 tablespoons zucchini mixture. Sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until cheese melts. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.

Spotlight on Leafy Greens

 

spinach-1511167.jpgOur health conscious members and friends are well aware of the government’s MyPlate recommendations, which include 2-3 cups per day for adults.  Dark leafy greens should make up 3 – 4 cups per week (when raw).  Studies show these greens can reduce the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

At Kellner Back Acre, we plant lots of leafy greens every year and members can receive some type nearly every week in their share.  But sometimes it’s hard to differentiate all those greens, so let’s take a closer look.

Types of greens

 

Kale:  a dark green nutrition powerhouse, which provides an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium, folate, and potassium.  The stems should be removed before consuming because of their toughness.  Kale is good raw, baked (as kale chips) or sautéed.

Collards: broad green leaves, which have a stronger taste.  They have similar nutrition as kale.  In the south, collard leaves are often used as a wrapper instead of tortillas, but it is also good slow-cooked or sautéed (after blanching to tenderize the leaves).

Swiss chard: large leaves with yellow or red stems.  This leaf provides an excellent source of A and C.  Both the stems and leaves can be consumed, though the stems obviously take a little longer to cook, so they are often separated before cooking.  Chard is excellent in quiche or sautéed.

Bok choy: a thick white stem with leafy greens.  It is also known as Chinese cabbage.  Both stems and leaves can be consumed and are often added to stir frys.

Spinach: One of the more popular greens, this provides Vitamins A & C, as well as folate.  According to WebMD.com, heating up spinach actually reduces the oxalate content, freeing up the calcium in spinach, so is more nutritious than raw spinach.  Given it’s mild flavor, spinach can be added to soup, pasta, and casseroles.

Lettuce:  Although likely the most common green consumed, it is slightly less nutritious than the other greens.  Some types of lettuce are good grilled, but often it is consumed raw.  Remember, the darker the leaf, the more nutrition it has.

Washing

All greens should be washed thoroughly before use, especially spinach and kale, which have a tendency to hold sand and dirt in their leaves.  If you have a lettuce spinner, that can work if you wash the greens several times.  Otherwise, fill a sink with water; swish the greens; drain the sink; and repeat until there is no dirt left.

Storing

The greens can last for various periods in the refrigerator:

Kale 10-14 days
Collard 4-5 days
Swiss Chard 2-3 days
Bok Choy 3-4 days
Spinach 10-14 days
Lettuce 2-3 weeks

Freezing

What happens if you get too many greens and you can’t possibly eat them before they go bad?  Consider freezing them (other than lettuce, which does not freeze well).  For all the greens mentioned above, remove the stems that you would not otherwise eat.  Blanch the greens, which means immerse in boiling water for just 1-3 minutes (depending on the heartiness of the green), then quickly put in an ice bath to stop the cooking.  Drain off the moisture and package in freezer bags.  These greens will stay 10-12 months in the freezer.

Come visit us at the Manitowoc Farmer’s Market or at our farm store to get your greens today.

Photo credit: http://www.freeimages.com/Samantha Li

Week #3

We look forward to sharing this week’s goodies with you.  If you are a member, or looking for us at the Farmer’s Market, you’ll find the following this week:

Spinach, Rhubarb, Lettuce, Radishes, Thyme

We’re working hard on the farm and the lovely weather has really helped those few plants that were a little behind start to catch up.  Come visit us and see what’s growing!  You can also see the efforts we have taken to avoid another round of blight this year (or what you can do if your tomatoes suffered from blight).  We are always happy to share our gardening tips with our friends.

Did you make the collard greens recipe I provided at drop-offs?  I made it as a side dish without the pasta… umm.  So what are you making this week?

Radishes are in your share this week. While they are good raw, sometimes they can be too spicy for some.  Have you tried sautéing them?  They are actually a root vegetable, so similar to carrots or potatoes.  Sautéing them reduces the spicy bite and can be excellent with a little olive oil and salt.  Here’s what I plan to make this week:

sauteed radishes

Sautéed Radishes with Spinach

Remove stems & tops from radishes and cut in half.  Place radishes with 1 onion sliced (preferably red onion) in a skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat.  Stir until tender (about 8 minutes).  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Wash one bunch spinach.  Add in spinach and the juice of 1/2 lemon (or about 3 Tbsp juice).  Cook just until spinach is wilted (about 1 minute).

Serves 4.  Recipe adopted from Food Network.

 

 

Meatless Monday

greens week 2

 

 

 

 

Our customers tend to be conscious buyers – both regarding their health and the environment.  So – conscious buyers – if you are not already engaging in one day of meatless meals, think about that now.  Why?

Good on the environment.  Certain livestock (i.e. mostly cattle) produce methane gas as part of their digestive process.  That methane gas is then released into the atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse gases.  Studies show that if everyone cut out meat one day per week, there would be significant cost savings on the planet.

Good for your health.  If you are eating less meat, in theory, you must be eating more vegetables (this assumes you have a whole-foods diet).  Eating more vegetables can help reduce heart disease, obesity, and cancer risks.

Good for your budget.  Meat tends to be expensive.  Replacing a meal with beans and grains, coupled with vegetables, can be much cheaper per serving.

So how do you get started?  Lucky for you we’ll be at the Farmer’s Market (both Green Bay and Manitowoc) with lettuce, spinach, collard greens and eggs, among other things.  Maybe a nice leafy green frittata on Monday?

Frittata 

  • A little butter or cooking spray, for preparing the pan
  • 1 bunch rainbow chard (or spinach, collard greens, or kale), washed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 eggs
  • 1¼ cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup pecorino, grated (or parmesan)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a pie plate or pan with a little butter or cooking spray.

Heat large skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add sliced onion (if using chard, add chopped stems too) to the skillet and cook 4-7 minutes, or until  onions are translucent. Add the green leafy leaves and cook for 1-2 minutes more, or until leaves are just wilted (kale will require a little longer). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

While veggies are cooking on the stove, crack the eggs into large bowl. Stir in the milk and grated cheese.

When greens are wilted, remove from veggies from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Quickly add greens mixture to the eggs and scrape into the prepared pie plate with rubber spatula.

Cook frittata at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve room temperature or refrigerate and eat cold.

 

Serves 4.  Adopted from Meatless Monday.com

 

Week 2 CSA Update

We are excited to be off and running!  With this beautiful weather, we were able to finalize outdoor pastures so our organic chickens could more easily enjoy the outdoors.  We also were blessed with two new kids (baby goats) and a litter of kittens.  If anyone is looking for kittens, we seem to have an over-abundance!

Members this week are receiving bok choy, asparagus, leaf lettuce, spinach, parsley and oregano.  I know what I’m doing with my asparagus and spinach already…

Roasted Asparagus, Mushrooms & Prosciutto

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/roasted_asparagus_mushrooms_prosciutto.html

From EatingWell:  March/April 2015

A quick roast in the oven and this trio melds together to become the perfect vegetable side dish recipe for chicken or steak. Or toss the warm roasted asparagus and mushrooms with baby spinach and a little more oil and vinegar to turn it into a quick salad recipe.

4 servings | Active Time: 10 minutes | Total Time: 35 minutes

 

The start of the season

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Our season is off and running!  Yesterday was our first drop off and our members can expect to find the following in their shares this week:

  • Mustard greens
  • Radishes
  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Basil

Here’s some great ideas to use those early vegetables.

We’re busy on the farm preparing for the season.  We have just a few spots left for the season for those who are still interested.  So why join our CSA?

  • We created convenient drop off locations and times, which includes after-work hours in De Pere and West Green Bay and all day and evening on Fridays at the farm.
  • We are working extra hard this year to bring our members newsletters each week describing what they’re receiving; how to store those vegetables and common preparations; and a good recipe to use their bounty!
  • Our produce is all either organic or chemical-free.
  • You have an opportunity for unique add-ons, including organic Michigan blueberries, honey, eggs, and chicken – often with discounts for members.
  • You are supporting a local family farm, which is in it’s second generation, resulting in more money back into the local economy.

We look forward to another busy, bountiful summer!

Image credit: Freeimage.com/ Viktors Kozers