Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Nutritional Newsletter Week 8 - Zucchini, Zucchini, Zucchini

Happy Tuesday, everyone!
Things are really speeding along here at the farm, what with August just around the corner.  It’s hard to believe that in a few weeks the leaves will slowly begin to fade into their brilliant red, orange, and yellow hues.  But fear not, for August brings with it more mouth-watering vegetables that will allow us to hold onto summer for just a little while longer!

Featured Item:
This week we will be featuring our abundant summer squash which includes zucchini, yellow squash, and pattypan squash.  All three types are very versatile and make an excellent addition to any summertime dish.

Nutritional Highlights:
Summer squash has a very high water content which makes it perfect for those hot summer days as it may help to prevent dehydration.  The high water content also means that it is low in calories, coming in at about 14 calories per 3 ½ ounce serving according to Michael Murray, N.D., author of The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.  It is also a good source of vitamin C, carotenes, and potassium.  In addition, summer squash may also help to prevent cell mutations that can lead to cancer.

Recipe Ideas:
Can be eaten raw; makes a wonderful addition to salads
Grill it
Add it to a stir fry
Roast it (especially delicious when roasted with a little olive oil, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil)
Add it to any of your favorite egg dishes
Slice into long, thin strips, sauté until softened, and use in place of pasta
Make zucchini bread or cake (very similar to carrot cake)
Follow the links provided below for some really tasty recipes:

Have fun and enjoy!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Week 7 Newsletter

Welcome to Week Seven

I'm still waiting for the cool down that the weather people keep talking about.  Here on the farm the weather continues to be hot.  Our harvest this week turned out to be a wet one with the veggies and the farmer all taking an outside bath.  Maybe we will get that cool off in September!

Looking at the calendar and I see July slipping away into August, with so much left to do.  As it is each year, no rest until week 22 in November, but alas the rewards for the effort are countless.

Just the ever increasing variety of harvest being passed along brings a smile to the face.  The first of tomatoes, peppers and eggplant went out this week.  Expect a lot more of these to follow.  Summer squash continues to thrive.  Our dinner last night of zucchini skillet cakes was awesome.  Thanks Farmer Joan for a wonderful meal.  I think tonight it's grilled eggplant creamed feta, a recipe borrowed from Nigel Slater's book "Tender.   A Cook and his Vegetable Patch".  Thanks Ellen for the wonderful cookbook.

Week One for the Back Mountain Market was a huge success!  So nice to see all the familiar faces.  A special thank you to Serena, our new Sales and Marketing Intern.  Look for her behind the market table and say "Hi".  This week we will be at both Forks Farm Market in Orangeville and the Back Mountain Library Market in Dallas. 

This past week the farm did suffer some loss.  We experienced our first major fox attack.  Multiple chickens fell victim to the fox, as Farmer Don and the dogs were just a little late to get out and chase the fox away.  Looks like the fox and the farmer will be going at each other for a little while longer.

Time to move on to the fields with lots of planting, projects and harvest to complete.

Have a great week, be safe, be well and bring on the cool down!
Farmer Don.

Summer Squash harvest is in full swing here at the farm.  Lots and lots of zucchini and yellow summer squash being harvested and therefore going out in boxes each week.  If you find yourself with too many zucchini on hand, I would suggest grating and freezing it.  I generally grate the squash and place it in a colander to drain and then I squeeze out extra moisture before freezing.  The frozen grated zucchini works great for baking, so I measure and freeze in one cup portions.  I just saw an idea to form the grated zucchini into one cup balls, freeze them on a cookie sheet.  Once frozen the zucchini balls can be placed in gallon sized bags. 

Grilling summer squash:  If larger cut fruit in thirds, otherwise cut in half or leave whole.  Brush with olive oil and place on grill.  Grill on both sides.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, add salt and pepper to taste and top with a bit of fresh grated parmesan cheese.  A real farm favorite!

Zucchini Skillet Cakes (adapted from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchenhttp://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=bookcarousel-20&l=ur2&o=1):

2 medium large zucchini, grated
1 egg, beaten (vegans can use 1/4 cup of pureed tofu, per Madison)
1-2 tbsp chives, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 tbsp dried marjoram (or 2 to 3 tbsp fresh)
grated zest of 1 very small lemon
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/8 cup capers
olive oil
salt & pepper (be careful with the salt, as capers can be quite salty)

Sprinkle the grated zucchini with salt and place in a colander to drain for 15 minutes. Squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the grated zucchini using your hands or the back of a large wooden spoon. The more moisture you can remove, the easier it will be to keep the cakes together when frying.

In a large bowl, mix together the beaten egg, chives, garlic, parsley, marjoram, and lemon zest. Add the zucchini, breadcrumbs, and capers.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat some olive oil over med. heat. Spoon out desired amount of mixture and form into a round cake in the frying pan.  Cook until the bottom is firm enough that you can flip it. (I found it easier to cook several smaller cakes, although the recipe suggested one large cake.  Smaller were easier for me to flip!) Cook on the other side until firm. Keep warm on a plate in the oven until all the cakes are cooked.

To serve, we generally top the cakes with either a fresh salad of tomatoes or small bit of homemade tomato sauce.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Garlic Scape Pesto

Thanks to CSA member Sarah for sharing a picture of the pesto she made with scapes and basil from her weekly box of veggies.

Garlic Scapes are the flower stalk of hardneck varieties of garlic.  The flower stalk is snipped off (harvested) to allow the garlic plant to direct energy into making a nice large garlic bulb.  The scapes are edible and can be used in a variety of ways.

Here at Dancing Hen Farm we use them in most dishes this time of year, as we would garlic bulbs a bit later in the season.  Dice them small and add them to stir frys or even raw to salads.  Or make pesto!!

Week 6 Newsletter

Welcome to Week 6!

Last week was relatively quiet on the farm with lots of planting and project week.  The week wrapped up with a Forks Farm Market on Saturday.  A real fun market with the opportunity to visit with many members and friends of the farm.  So nice to see and talk to so many folks who support the farm and care about the community around us.  Thanks to all who came out!  This coming Saturday we will be in Dallas at the Back Mountain Memorial Library Farm Market.  Come out and say "hi" and meet your farmer!  We will be featuring our nutrient dense organically grown vegetables as well as eggs from our free range chickens.  New this year, we will be selling broiler chickens at the Back Mountain Market.  These are chickens raised on our pasture and fed locally sourced organic grains. 

This week on the farm is shaping up to be a slow one, as two of our helpers have been given the week off due to the extreme heat.  The farmer and Neil will take care of chores and projects, but just too hot to have a crew working in the fields.  They say relief is on the way Saturday, so we look ahead and endure until then.  Lots of water going out this week, as we will keep the roots of the crops cool and moist to help with the heat stress they will be facing.  Animals will be our largest concern, keeping them watered and nourished our main priority.

Crop wise, I am always looking ahead.  Thoughts are on for fall production, our needs for that, as well as maintaining the crops we already have in production geared for fall harvest.  These include all the winter squashes, brussel sprouts and other late maturing crops.  The time is now to prepare and plant all the fall broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.  Root crops for the fall also need to be in the equation, while the last seeding of some crops will occur in the next few weeks.  A farmer always has to look ahead and prepare for the next planting.  As the seasons come and go it is key to be ready when the time is right.

So, time has come to do those chores.   Enjoy those veggies, have a great week and stay cool.
Farmer Don


Foolproof Vinaigrette
(This is from one of Farmer Don's favorite magazines "Cooks Illustrated".  I have not tried this yet, but --- The magazine states that  "a problem with making vinaigrettes is preventing the oil and vinegar from separating.  Adding a bit of mayonnaise (which doesn't affect the flavor) provides an emulsifier that creates a lasting bond" and therefore keeps the separation from happening.)
This vinaigrette makes about 1/4 cup and the magazine states that as being enough to dress 8 to 10 cups of loose packed greens.
1 TBS Wine Vinegar (red, white or champagne)
1 1/2 tsp minced shallot
1/2 tsp regular or light mayonnaise
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper
3 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Combine vinegar, shallot, mayonnaise, mustard, 1/8 tsp salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl.  Whisk until mixture is milky in appearance and no lumps of mayonnaise remain.
Place oil in a small measuring cup so that it is easy to pour.  Whisking constantly, very slowly drizzle oil into vinegar mixture.  If pools of oil gather on the surface as you whisk, stop addition of oil and whist mixture well to combine, then resume whisking oil in a slow stream.  Vinaigrette should be glossy and lightly thickened, with no pools of oil on its surface.  (Vinaigrette can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.)

Sauteed Fennel & Zucchini 
Serves 4 to 6

1 tbsp. olive oil 
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced 
1 to 2 zucchini (or yellow squash), sliced 
1 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano 
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar 
1/4 cup pine nuts 
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

First, toast your pine nuts in a dry skillet (stir, or shake pan often) until lightly browned and fragrant. Transfer to a small dish and set aside. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the fennel and zucchini and cook, stirring constantly, until they are cooked through but still crisp-tender, about 7 - 8 min. Stir in the vinegar and oregano, and season to taste w/salt and pepper. Add pine nuts and heat a minute or two more. Serve hot.

Fennel and Orange Salad
from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home
Makes 4 to 6 servings.

1 fennel bulb
2 oranges
juice of 1 small lemon
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Remove leafy tops and root ends of fennel bulbs. Slice trimmed bulbs crosswise into thin, bite-size slices; place in bowl. Section oranges into bowl, squeezing in extra juice as well. Stir in lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate at least 20 minutes.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Week 5 Newsletter

Welcome to Week Five!  

We move past the Fourth of July and venture deeper into July.  Last week's subtropical weather has given away to a drier pattern.  So, we are back to pushing the irrigation system and rotating the overnight watering program.

The weather has had an effect on the harvest, as Farmer Don way over estimated the amount of peas available for harvest.  This was to be the final large harvest, but it turns out the peas had dried up, making any harvest almost non-existent and resulting in some substitutions in your boxes this week.  This year's pea field is also a field of oats.  The oats were planted as a cover crop to benefit the peas, helping to fix nitrogen, out compete weeds and just be a nurse crop for the peas.  But the learning curve here is still high and the amount of oats planted,  compared to peas planted, were way more than needed.  Should be a good field for fall planting.  Hopefully incorporating the oats and peas into the plot for the next planting will go smoothly.  Stay tuned and I will keep you "in the loop".

Hopefully everyone had a fun and safe holiday.  A busy stretch for the farmer and his wife.  Doesn't look like it is going to slow down anytime soon, as markets start up every Saturday.  Next up is Forks Market this Saturday and the first Back Mountain Library Market on the 20th.  The Back Mountain Library Auction is this weekend and the market starts the following Saturday.  I think I misquoted the dates in last week's newsletter, but the auction always goes first.

Veggies to look for in upcoming harvests will include lots of green beans, the next run of salad greens, garlic scapes for one or two more weeks, an increase on the squash harvest and probably cherry tomatoes to be the first out for tomato harvest.  We will continue to supplement the main harvest with other smaller plantings.  New potatoes will also be dug in the next few weeks.

Time to get the chores done.  Thanks goes out to all for taking care of and returning the share boxes, along with any small portion boxes and egg cartons.  This really helps us to stay sustainable.

So, be safe and be well and enjoy those veggies.
Farmer Don

Lots of garlic scapes going out this week.  Why not make some pesto or hummus with them.

Garlic Scape Pesto
1 handful of  large garlic scapes, chopped.
1/3 cup unsalted pistachios
1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (amount of oil will vary, so add slowly until pesto is desired texture.)
Puree the garlic scapes, pistachios, Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a food processor until very finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly pour the oil through the opening. Season the pesto with salt and pepper to taste. (The pesto keeps in the fridge, covered, for 1 week or frozen for a month.)

Garlic Scape Hummus
2 cans chick peas (garbanzos) drained
1 cup raw sesame seeds or tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh chopped garlic scapes
Place all ingredients in a blender and process on high until desired texture.  Add salt to taste.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Nutritional Newsletters

Meet Lydia!

Lydia is interning on the farm this summer.  She attends Mansfield University and is a majoring in Nutrition and Dietetics. The summer she will be writing a nutritional newsletter for the farm each week.  Lydia's newsletter will feature a different item from the CSA share boxes each week.  She will provide nutritional highlights and preparation ideas for the selected item.

This week she featured Garlic Scapes!

Greetings everyone!

            I hope you found some tasty and creative ways to cook up yours peas last week.  Or maybe you just ate them raw before they ever made out of your box; simply delicious either way!

Featured Item:
            This week we have decided to feature garlic scapes; you know, those mysterious and mystifying loopy things that somewhat resemble the crazy straws we all delighted in using as kids.  It just so happens that garlic scapes are packed full of some key vitamins and minerals.  However, before we get into that, let me give you a brief overview of where these tender little stems come from.  Garlic scapes act as the stem for the seed head that is produced by the garlic bulb.  They are often removed because they take away vital energy and nutrients from the bulb growing underground.

Nutritional Highlights:
            Garlic scapes share many of the same nutritional benefits with garlic bulbs.  According to Sarah Ellis, MS, RD, garlic scapes are abundant in phytochemicals that act as antioxidants, tumor suppressants, or detoxifying agents.  In addition, they are high in vitamin C, calcium, and protein.  Garlic scapes are also thought to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. 

Recipe Ideas:
·         Chop into bite-sized pieces and add to a fresh salad
·         Add to any of your favorite egg dishes
·         They make an excellent pizza topping!  (Sautee first to soften slightly)
·         Add raw to pasta salads
·         Add to soups
·         Chop finely and add to softened cream cheese or butter to spread on a sandwich or bagel for a savory treat
·         Add to mashed potatoes

Here are some more recipes for you to enjoy:

Happy cooking!


Week 4 Newsletter

Welcome to Week Four!

We roll into July on a slightly wet note, hot and sticky.  Thankfully, we haven't had the heavy rains our farming friends to the south have had.  Farms south of us are having a lot of problems getting out to work in the fields.  A lot of standing water, mud, etc, makes farming all the more difficult.

Around our farm, life continues to move on.  The challenge to us is excluding the deer.  Fencing our production plot is the next method tried.  Sounds like other growers have had success with electric fence, so this looks like our next option.  It has been hard to share the lettuce harvest as one group of "members" shares the harvest.

This week the pea harvest continues to lead the way.  Many peas going out this week and next as we wind down the spring pea harvest.  Garlic Scapes are being picked this week.  The scape cutting allows the bulb of the garlic plant to enlarge prior to harvest later in August.  It's nice to have fresh garlic in one form or another to enjoy the entire season.  So good tasting and healthy for you!

Upcoming harvests should include a nice batch of green beans, purple kohlrabi, cucumbers, a replant of lettuce and probably sungold tomatoes later this month as our first tomato harvest.

As always, we thank our neighboring farms who help us share the harvest, especially when our harvest is compromised beyond our control.

Time to move on with the harvest.  Have a safe and fun Fourth of July!  Mark your calendars for July 13th and the start of the Back Mountain Library Farmer's Market, along with the usual second and fourth Saturday Forks Market.
Be well, Farmer Don

Dandelion greens going out this week.  Dandelion greens are some of the most nutrient dense greens.  A quick blanch (dip in boiling salted water) will decrease some of their bitterness.  In a salad they pair well with hot bacon dressing or the balsamic dressing in the recipe below.  Also, try serving them sautéed and topped with a fried or poached egg.

Recipe of the Week:

Dandelion Greens with Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette
Serves 6–8
2 1/2 pounds dandelion greens, tough leaves discarded
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Cut top 5 inches from greens and reserve leaves. Cut remaining greens into 3/4-inch slices. Transfer all greens to a large salad bowl.
For the dressing, in a small heavy skillet sauté garlic and nuts in oil over moderate heat, stirring, until garlic is golden. Stir in vinegar and salt and fresh-cracked pepper to taste.
Pour hot vinaigrette over greens and toss to combine.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Week 3 Newletter

Welcome to Week Three!

And welcome to the first string of hot muggy weather.  Still lots to do on the farm, so we are slathering on the sunscreen and staying hydrated.

This week's newsletter is featuring a guest anonymous author as Farmer Don is busy this morning with delivery coordination, veggies, dogs, workers and chickens.

Yes, chickens.  We are raising meat birds for sale this year and starting this week our first batch will be available.  Our birds have continual access to fresh pasture and are fed certified organic soy-free grain.  Farmer Don is still working out the logistics of pricing, so watch your email for another note with price per pound and average weight per bird.  Send us an email and we will reserve some chickens for you.

We are still feeding the local deer herd.  Sunday seems to be their night to really feast at Dancing Hen Farm's Buffet.  This Sunday night they finished off the lettuce bed (over 1000 heads total!) and moved onto the escarole, endive and radicchio.  They even went as far as to tear up our row cover to get to the radicchio.  Unfortunately this is limiting our harvest of these crops and we will not be able to replant until fall since these plants prefer cooler weather. The little bit of radicchio going out this week is all we could salvage and please note that it is a more open leafy variety.

But we move on.

We had a surprise early harvest of zucchini and yellow squash this week which some members are seeing in their boxes.  Don't worry if you missed out, there will be plenty of squash to come in the next several months.  Farmer Don rotationally plants squash in order to make them available for most of the season.  Peas are still going strong.  Our sugar snap peas are really plump right now, but get even sweeter as they mature.  Our first planting of Asian greens are winding down with a small second planting available soon.  In the upcoming weeks look for purple kohlrabi in your boxes.  Our green beans are looking good and starting to flower, so they will be ready for harvest in the next few weeks.

As always we are thankful to our friends and fellow organic farmers for helping us share the harvest.   We have a very close knit network of farmers in our area and we often barter crops with them or purchase their excesses to help fill our boxes.  We would like to specially thank, Terri at Mad Dog Farm, John at Nut Creek Farm and Justin at Old Tioga Farm.  What a great community of great people and we are honored to be part of it!

Speaking of community, we try and share our harvest with our local communities as well.  This week we donated eggs to the Wilkes Barre Peace and Justice Center's Peace Camp.  Thanks to member Shannon for helping us coordinate this.   In addition a friend of ours has recently started a job with Ample Harvest (www.ampleharvest.org).  This organization helps get fresh produce into area food pantries and has a great search engine to locate local organizations willing to take produce.  If you have excess, please visit their website and consider donating it.

Have you been reading Intern Lydia's Nutritional Newsletters?  Not only is she providing nutritional information, but she is also posting links to some great recipes.  This week the Lemon Mint Snap Pea and Lima recipe looked really good!  If you don't have lima beans available the recipe would be great with snap peas and/or snow peas. 

Time to wrap up here!  As Farmer Don says - Be Safe, Be Well and Enjoy those Veggies!

July 4th Reminder:  Our on farm pick up WILL BE ON THURSDAY JULY 4TH.  If you are unable to pick up on the holiday, please let us know.  We can pack you a box for Tuesday, July 2 or keep your box in our cooler for Friday, July 5 pick up.

Share Boxes:   We reuse them, so please return them to your pick up sites.  Please also remember to treat them gently and slide rather than pull the tabs on the top to avoid tearing them. 

Choice Members:  You are able to log on and choose items from noon on Thursdays until 6 pm on Sundays.  This allows Farmer Don time to get harvest and pack lists together.  If you are having difficulties logging on, please contact us.

Here is a link to a great kale salad recipe sent to us by CSA Member Pam :

Week 2 Newsletter

Welcome to Week Two!

We hope you have enjoyed your first share box of the season with many more to come!  Nice to have a dry harvest day today.  Not so nice to see that the deer had enjoyed our lettuce and Swiss Chard overnight.  UGH!  Time for the farmer to sleep out in the field.  I'm thinking my farm aroma would scare any animal away!

And we're into week two of our new choice program.  The farm is still working out some kinks, but for the most part, all systems seem to be fine and dandy.  I really like the reports that come off of the system, plus I am crop walking daily, always  forecasting forward to the next harvest.

Around the farm, a dry out is under way after all the rain last week.  Our crops and our weeds really enjoyed the moisture.  The first run of Asian Greens are finishing out.  We started to harvest bed number two of arugula.  Tomato plants are starting to grow inside the high tunnel and out in the field.  Purple kohlrabi and summer squash should be ready soon.  I am hoping spring broccoli and cabbage will start to head up before the real heat sends them to seed.  Garlic scape cutting will get underway this week and we are hoping some form of garlic will be available for the rest of the season.  Yeah!  I think almost every cooked dish should include garlic!  Basil and Parsley will be the next herbs out followed closely by cilantro and dill.  Speaking of dill, the first run of cucumbers are growing under plastic, with the second seeding going in this week.

As far as this week goes, looks like a big set up to plant.  The seed houses are full of transplants just waiting to get out and enjoy the summer weather.

A quick thanks goes out to the crew, Neil, Lydia and Peter, for their hard work and effort and a special thanks to Paul, just back from Europe, who jumped in and helped to bring in the Monday harvest.

Time to get out and work in the fields.  Forks Market this Saturday.  Hope to see many of you there.

Be safe & Be well!

Farmer Don

I am a choice member, what happens if I forget to log on and pick my veggies?  No fear, you will always receive a box, if you do not choose your weekly items, you will be packed a farmer's choice box.

I am going on vacation, or am unable to pick up my box.  We would ask that you try to find someone else (a friend or neighbor) to pick up your box.  We can also arrange for you to pick up your box early or late on farm or pick up your box at a farmer's market we attend.  All boxes remaining at your pick up site will be donated at the site host's discretion.

I am running late and may not make it to my pick up site by 6.  Please call your site host and see if they can hold your box until the next day or make alternate arrangements for you to pick up.

I would like to come out and visit/tour the farm:  Great!  We love visitors!  We do ask that you call or email us first.  That way we can be certain someone is available to talk with you and give you a tour.