Week #9 – Halfway point!

I can’t believe we are already halfway through our CSA season this week!  Members can look forward to receiving:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Kohlrabi
  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Beets

We had an expert forager at the farm this week, who found lots of weeds at Kellner Back Acre (no surprise there).  But she found things like marshmallow root, red raspberry leaf, skull cap, and anise.  Why is this so exciting?  Because we’ll be offering a weed walk to our friends coming very soon.  This expert forager will walk individuals around our property, pointing out various weeds that are edible and their possible benefits.  We’ll then show you how these “weeds” can be used to make your own herbal tea!  Benefiting from our farm all winter long 🙂  Be sure to watch our Facebook page for more information soon.

swiss chard.jpg

Swiss chard

This week brings two vegetables that some members may not be completely familiar with – kohlrabi and Swiss chard.  Isn’t the Swiss chard beautiful?  Sometimes I just want to put it in a vase because of the beautiful stems.  But that would be a waste of a tasty, and beneficial vegetable.

 

So how do you use that chard?  See our post from earlier in the season to use your greens.  We also had a post in general about how to use extra vegetables each week.  My favorite way to use it is as a side dish – sautéed with a little olive oil.  But if you’re looking for something new, try this Swiss chard tart from Cooking Channel.

kohlrabi.com

Kohlrabi

 

The kohlrabi is good raw or sautéed.  We like adding it to Asian-flavored noodle bowls with some kale and edamame for a light lunch.  Kohlrabi “fries” are one of my favorites.  But if you want some new ideas, check out this Potato, Corn, and Kohlrabi Chowder.

As always, we love to hear what you’ve made with your weekly share or what you purchased from Kellner Back Acre at the farmer’s market this week.  Leave us a comment in Facebook!

Swiss chard Image credit: Freeimages.com/ Nathalie Dulex

Kohlrabi Image credit: Clipart

Advertisements

Spotlight on Zucchini

zucchini-courgette-1319215

We are coming on that time of year…. zucchini season.  You may feel inundated with zucchini – in your CSA share; at every farmer’s market booth; a bag on your doorstep from your neighbor; free zucchini in the break room at work… you know what I’m talking about.

Benefits

Also known as courgette (in England) or summer squash, zucchini has lots of health benefits.  It’s high in dietary fiber and a good source of manganese and vitamin C, among other things.  These benefits have been found to aid in reducing men’s prostate cancer risk; reducing other cancer risks by ridding toxins from the body; and helping those with arthritis.  High in fiber and water content, it is also an excellent vegetable if you’re looking to lose weight.

Storing

Optimally, this vegetable is stored in a perforated bag in your refrigerator for a few days (5 days maximum). It can be frozen, but given zucchini is 95% water, it needs to be prepared first.   One way to do this is blanching it for about a minute and draining all excess water. (This deactivates the enzymes that would otherwise cause it to turn into a mushy mess once frozen and thawed again). This method is fine for zucchini to use in soups, casseroles, and pasta sauces. But if you intend to use the zucchini in one of the many recipes we have listed below, you probably want to grate the zucchini first; blanch it; then drain the excess water and freeze it. (Instructions from University of Nebraska here).

Uses

If you like…. Try:
Tater tots Zucchini Tots
Fries* Zucchini Fries

 

Zucchini Chips

Pizza* Pizza bites

 

Zucchini pizza

Meatballs Zucchini “meatballs
Breadsticks Cheesy zucchini breadsticks
Lasagna* Zucchini lasagna roll-ups

 

Zucchini lasagna

Tacos* taco stuffed zucchini boats
Noodles* Zucchini noodles
Banana bread Zucchini bread
Brownies Zucchini brownies

 * Denotes recipes that require fresh zucchini and cannot substitute frozen zucchini.

Excited to try some of these recipes?  Visit us at the farmer’s market or come to the farm store to get your zucchini.  Then snap a pic and share it with us on Facebook!

Image credit: Freeimages.com/ Michael & Christa Richert

Week #8 is looking great!

PENTAX Image

Photo credit: Freeimages.com/ Lorenzo S.

You may find this weather over the past week a bit oppressive, but if you were a vegetable, you’d be very happy (until that is you were plucked from your warm bed for Sunday dinner)!  We’ve been lucky to get rain when we need it and plenty of sunshine.  As a result, our green peppers and tomatoes are starting to ripen.  Members will see a few in their shares this week, but can expect to see more in the near future. Continue reading

Are our chickens worth the hype?

smoked chicken

Smoked organic chicken from last year’s 4th of July BBQ

 

You can guess our answer to this question – ABSOLUTELY!  The picture above doesn’t convince you? Okay, let me explain what’s so great about our chickens.

Our chickens are pasture-raised.  This means they have more room to roam, resulting in more exercise.  It takes longer to “fatten” up these birds, but the result is a much better tasting chicken than those who are allotted a mere 1/2 square foot of concrete floor space as in commercial growing operations.

We don’t use antibiotics – ever.  To be fair, chickens you are eating from a commercial operation won’t have antibiotics in their system by the time it reaches the stage of human consumption – the federal government prohibits animals for consumption that have antibiotics in their system.  But some large farmers use antibiotics to get the chicken bigger faster.  Although this results in very large breasts, there is some concern that this can result in creation of antibiotic-resistant strains of diseases.

Our chickens get organic feed.  They also eat their fair share of grass and bugs while out in the pasture (helping our other crops as well!)  Compare this to commercially-raised chickens, which are normally fed a steady diet of just grain (which is often laced with antibiotics or even worse – like arsenic!).

So with our chickens, you can feel better about how they are raised (more humanly) and feel safer about the quality of the meat (given the organic ingredients and no antibiotics) – but you also will receive a better-all-around-quality bird.  Remember how ours get out in the pasture and get exercise?  Less fat.  One study from a British organization in 2012 found some organic free-range chickens had up to 50% LESS FAT than the commercially-grown birds.

Interested in tasting the difference?  FRESH organic chickens are available NOW.  Call us today to get yours.

Week 7 is here and we have weeds to our ear!

It’s week #7 of our CSA.  Members this week will receive:

  • Kohlrabi
  • Snow Peas
  • Butter crunch lettuce
  • Dill
  • Basil
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini

We are very grateful for the beautiful weather and rain we’ve had, which is great for our crops.  But unfortunately ideal growing conditions for vegetables are also ideal growing conditions for weeds. Since we do not use any chemicals or pesticides, weeds are particularly troublesome for the organic farmer.

weeds

Image credit: Free Images.com/rileyw W

 

What do we do to control our weeds?  Some of our plants, like those we start in the green house, can go into rows we first lay down a biodegradable plastic that prevents anything growing other than what we plant in the holes of the plastic.  But our root vegetables go into the ground as seeds and need lots of sunshine, so plastic doesn’t work for those.  Instead, we rely on lots of hand weeding and rototilling between the rows.  If anyone has a strong desire to get your hands dirty, we love volunteers!   (See our post from last week).

But if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?  So we’re thinking about taking the opportunity of all these full-grown weeds and having a weed walk to teach others about the great, hidden benefits in your own backyard.  What’s a weed walk you ask?  We’d partner with an expert forager to guide people through our weeds, pointing out what is edible, and how you can use similar weeds in your own backyard.  Would you be interested?  We are also considering having a pesto day on the farm, which we’ve done before, teaching people how to use some of our fresh ingredients to make their own pesto (and more than just your typical basil pesto).  We want to hear from you – which would you rather: weed walk or pesto day?  Tell us on facebook.

 

Working for the weekend…

Our customers are busy!  Our market research found our customer is a college-educated, working parent who conscientious of what their family is eating.  But as many of you know, raising children – with their homework and activities- is by itself a full-time job.  Add in your actual paying job and who has time to worry about what goes on the dinner table?

IMG_0513

We start our employees young!  (This is our grandson, Bennett)

 

That’s why Kellner Back Acre Garden does not require members to do any specified hours of work to be a member.  Either you don’t have time for it (in which case you would have your own garden) or you’d rather spend your free time doing something other than with your hands in the dirt.  We get that – everyone has their strengths.  We enjoy getting our hands dirty so you don’t have to!

What is a CSA Worker Share?

Some farms allow members to trade work for a portion of the price of the CSA.  Some farms even require members to work a specified number of hours each week.  There certainly is value to the farmer – trade in labor of a share of the vegetables.  But it can be difficult to manage for the farm.  And while working on the farm each week sounds actually pretty fun, when you get done with work on Tuesday nights and don’t have t-ball, do you really want to be weeding some one else’s garden?

Can I volunteer?

Absolutely!  Want to get your hands dirty for a few hours?  We won’t turn down some extra hands.  Some members enjoy getting out to the farm to see how the process works and understand exactly what goes into making their food.  We have plenty of families that stop by every year to teach their children where food comes from, enjoy some fresh-picked vegetables, and visit our goats, chickens, and kitties.

Call us today.  We’d love to have you stop by.

Week #6

lettuce-and-beet-field-1173326.jpg

Beet and Lettuce Field 

 

Hello and welcome to week #6!  So much is going on at the farm in the next few weeks.  And this beautiful weather is ensuring we’ll have lots of bounty in the coming weeks for our members and customers.  For example, members can expect to see beans next week in their share.  And our tomatoes in our hoop houses are just beautiful – but are very green.  So as soon as those ripen (just a few more weeks) you’ll be sure of seeing those in your shares and at market.

Our farm is getting a new addition this week: baby turkeys!  Make a point of coming out to the farm to see our new additions.  And when you’re there, you can pre-order your Thanksgiving turkey.  Or let us know if you’re interested in a FRESH chicken (which will be ready July 19th) or a case of Michigan blueberries (coming in mid-July).  Remember, the self-service farm store is open all week, but we have staff on site Fridays.  If you want to pre-order, please visit us on Fridays, or call or email Nancy.

Members are receiving a few “unique” items in their share this week, including dill weed, beet greens, and tart cherries.  You’ll also get lettuce, peas (snap or snow depending on what’s ripe), kale and zucchini.  Since tart cherries and beet greens may not be something most are familiar with, we’ve given you some ideas below.

We hope you enjoy our recipes – please share a picture or comment on the meals you make with your share each week on our Facebook page.  We love to see your creative uses!

Tart Cherry Salsa (adapted from Epicourious.com)

  • 1 pint cherries, coarsely chopped (remove pits)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, finely chopped (remove seeds for less heat)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir sugar and cherries together until sugar dissolves.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Best if left to sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before using.

Excellent for our roasted, organic chickens!  But if you need more ideas, check out www.choosecherries.com.

Beet Green Salad

  • 1 bunch beet greens
  • 3-4 roasted beets, sliced (optional)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • salt to taste
  • feta or goat cheese

Wash greens.  If using beets, roast, cool and peel, and chop or slice for the salad.  To make the dressing, mix garlic and sherry vinegar.  Whisk in olive oil to create a vinaigrette and then add in Dijon mustard.  Add salt to taste before tossing the dressing with the greens.  Top with feta or goat cheese.

Need another idea?  Try this beet and garlic scape bruschetta for a fancy appetizer or side dish to your dinner this week.

Photo credit: Freeimages.com/ Michael & Christa Richert

Using your CSA Share

Ever find yourself with a little more produce from your CSA then you think you can use?  Or maybe you’re looking for a new way to use some of those leafy greens since your kids are sick of kale chips?  We’ve got you covered this week!  Check out some really great ideas below.

farmers-field-5-1317540

  1. Salads.  What better way to use up vegetables than salads? Sure lettuce or pretty much any leafy green can be used as the base.  Then add in crunchy raw vegetables that will hold up, like carrots and kohlrabi.  CookingLight.com has a list of 49 summer salads that require minimal cooking.
  2. Fritters.  Mix some flour, egg, milk, and salt & pepper with your favorite shredded vegetables, such as radishes, squash, beets, carrots, or sweet potatoes, or even some blanched leafy greens.  Then fry in a little oil on the stovetop.  Here’s a great recipe with carrots, zucchini, and green onions, but the possibilities are endless.
  3. Pesto.  Have something green?  Chances are it can be made into a pesto.  Typically this involves pureeing in a food processer, along with nuts and cheese, and adding in some olive oil slowly.  It often freezes well, as long as you don’t add the cheese in until right before you enjoy it.  Broccoli pesto anyone? Or try our garlic scape pesto we posted a few weeks ago.
  4. Smoothies.  No holds barred here.  Everything, other than the kitchen sink, can taste good in a smoothie.  Add some fruits and vegetables, some juice or yogurt and milk, and blend for an easy breakfast or a nutritious snack.  Check out this blog for some good ideas on building that perfect smoothie.
  5. Dips.  My personal favorite.  Who doesn’t enjoy a good dip?  And dipping vegetables into vegetable-based dip doesn’t get much better!  I like this roundup from Greatist of 49 Healthy Dips, including Moroccan Spiced Carrot Dip and Nutty Swiss Chard with Roasted Garlic Dip.

Of course you can choose to preserve many of your vegetables too.  Head over to www.stilltasty.com to check out how you can freeze (almost) anything.  Or consider pickling those extra vegetables – EatingWell.com shows you how without canning.

Need more ideas?  Check out these bloggers’ adventures with their CSA share every week:

Image credit: Freeimages.com/ Fran Linden

Week #5 & Garlic Scapes

This week’s harvest includes: Zucchini, Broccoli, Snap Peas, Lettuce, and Garlic Scapes!  We were able to provide members with some garlic scapes last week and had a few people share some recipes, but a few others were wondering what the heck are these things.  So we thought we’d share some more information this week.scapes

So what are scapes?  They are essentially the flowering stem of garlic.  If left alone, they would flower.  But cutting these funky curlicues from the bulb allow the plant to expend more energy to growing the garlic bulb.  So we harvest them in late spring/early summer to ensure that we have delicious garlic bulbs for you in the fall.  The byproduct – yummy garlic scapes for you now!

So what do I do with them?  They taste very similar to garlic, but milder, so use them anywhere you’d use garlic.  One member had a great suggestion if you can’t use them all right n0w – make pesto and freeze it!  See our recipe below.

Some other options:

  • Pickle them
  • Roast them and eat like asparagus
  • Puree with chickpeas for garlic hummus

Garlic Scape Pesto

  • 1/4 lb garlic scapes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • salt to taste
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Puree scapes, olive oil, juice, and salt in food processor.  From this stage, you can either freeze it. If serving immediately, blend in the cheese.  (When freezing, add the cheese after thawing and before serving).

It’ll last a few days in the fridge.  Or in the freezer for a few months.  I think I’m going to add this to some pasta with my zucchini this week for an easy lunch!

How will you use your garlic scapes?