Tuesday, September 30, 2014

CSA Week 16 Newsletter

Welcome to Week 16!

Bugs!  Yes, bugs!  That is the biggest topic of conversation right now, at the grocery store, the feed store, the hardware store, farm market....  What is up with the bugs this year?  Sometimes I feel like they are holding me captive in the house.   The minute you head outside, they immediately swarm.   Yesterday, I had to wear my hat to eat lunch on the deck!  Harvest was really rough, as even hats and hoods and Burt's Bees couldn't hold the gnats at bay.  I hate to say the F word, but I am almost wising for a Frost!  Of course a heavy frost could be a detriment to some summer crops we are hoping will still size up.  We have a  late planting of green beans and squash.  Each of the these crops has fruit, but needs a few more days (or weeks) to reach a harvestable size.  Our peppers could also use a few more weeks of warm weather to really size up. 

In the fields right now, we are in a bit of a transition.  We have a large planting of lettuce which is sizing up nicely.  Look for head lettuce to be available soon and salad mix to continue to be available through the end of the season.  Our green mustard is winding down, but we will soon be harvesting red mustard again.  The collard greens we are currently harvesting are really beautiful and our radicchio has headed up nicely.  We also have some beautiful large heads of green chicory available.  Chicory is one of the more bitter greens we grow.  To temper this bitterness, try steaming or boiling the greens before adding them to the saute pan.  This pre-cooking method will mellow the bitterness of most greens, including dandelion. 

Our 2014 season is slowly winding down.  Six more CSA deliveries and only two Back Mountain Market and two regular season Forks Farm Market remaining.  As we did last year, we will again be operating a winter buying club.  This buying club is separate from our CSA buying club and we are anticipating it to begin October 18, the week following our last farmers markets.  To participate in the winter buying club, you will need to register on our website and "purchase" a free winter buying club member ship.  At this time, if you were a member of our winter buying club last year, you will not need to re-sign up.  If this changes, we will let you know via email.  With the winter buying club, you place your order on line and then meet us at a designated location to pick up and pay for your purchases.  As always, if you have questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

In the next few weeks we will also begin taking memberships for our 2015 CSA season.  As we have in past years, we will offer a discount to returning members and to members signing up early.  Please watch email for an announcement concerning this.  We will continue to be a choice CSA, in which members are able to choose the items they receive in their box each week.  We are considering adding a chicken share to our CSA for next year.  Stay tuned on the chicken share, as we are still working out the details.  If you have questions or need additional information on the CSA, please see our website (www.dancinghenfarm.com) or contact us at the farm.

Last week I put out a notice about our pork.  We have gotten some interest and we have an individual who feels a half may be too much for her small family.  If anyone is interested in splitting a half with this family, please contact us here at the farm.  We are anticipating pork to be ready around the first of November and we should have some prices to you in the next few weeks.  Our pork arrives vacuum packed and frozen.  We often get asked about freezer space.   To store a half a pig you will need between and 4 and 5 cubic feet of freezer space.  Again, if you have questions concerning our pork or would like to reserve some meat, please contact us.  If you are looking for grass fed beef, we know of neighboring farms who are currently taking reservations for their beef.  If you send us an email, we will forward you their contact information.

Our kitchen has been fairly quiet recently.  I am still busy drying herbs and am hoping to make applesauce and possibly apple butter this week for canning.  Last weekend we cooked a ham and Farmer Don used the bone and some leftover meat to make ham and bean soup for dinner tonight.  We have been eating bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches recently, as we rush to get our fill before the end of the tomatoes.   

A quick note to CSA members as the season winds down.  Please let the farm know if you cannot pick up your box.  We will donate these veggies and not let them go to waste.  If you are running late and unable to pick up your share on Tuesday, please contact your site host and let them know you will be picking up late.  The site hosts at our central pick up sites are only responsible to hold boxes until 5 pm on Wednesday.  (This is actually an extension from our noon Wednesday earlier cut off time.)  After this time, 5 pm, your box will be donated.  Please pick up on time.  The site host will not store your veggies in the refrigerator if you do not pick up.  Many site hosts have been overly accommodating for late pick-ups.  Please remember our site hosts are volunteers.  They  are gracious enough to allow us to utilize their facilities, properties, houses, etc., for a share box drop site where members can go to pick up the delivered shares.  The site hosts manage these sites by collecting and storing the share boxes for pick up the next week, so they can be used again during an upcoming pack.  A huge responsibility that the farm appreciates the hosts for doing.

Market news!  We have a new market employee, our nephew Phil.  If you see him helping Farmer Don at market, be sure to give him a warm welcome to the Dancing Hen Farm crew.  This week's markets include the Bloomsburg University Market on Friday and Back Mountain Market on Saturday.  Stop by, say hello and pick up some local foods.  If you go to Back Mountain, you can again sample Farmer Don's kimchi.  Vegan, although maybe not totally authentic, kimchi.

Time to move on to the next task.  Be well, be safe and enjoy those veggies!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Week 15 Newsletter

Welcome to Week 15!  Happy Fall!

There was a chill to the air this morning, really feeling like fall is here.  It seems I have been talking about fall for weeks now.  And looking at this week's weather forecast, I am thinking next week I may be talking about a return to summer.  The temperatures this weekend are to be near 80 again!  A perfect day for market!

The cooler night time temperatures are good for our greens.  Cooler temperatures not only sweeten the flavor of the greens, but also reduce some of our insect pressure.  The Bok Choy is really beautiful right now.  We are also currently harvesting some huge green mustard.  Both bok choy and mustard are versatile greens, as you can enjoy them cooked or raw in salads.  Mustard greens have a distinctive spicy bite which does mellow a bit with cooking.  Recently I have been looking for recipes using mustard greens and came across a recipe for mustard greens pesto (http://nourishedkitchen.com/spicy-mustard-green-pesto/)  and another recipe for massaged mustard green salad (http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/mustard_greens_salad.html).  I see the pesto as a great addition to pasta or grilled cheese sandwiches.  I may try making some and freezing it this weekend.  We love massaged kale salad, but it never occurred to massage other greens!  Another one I will need to try.

I think I can finally say our tomatoes are coming to an end.  We pulled up about half of our field grown tomatoes last week and are in the process of re-planting those fields with late fall and winter greens.  We will do our best to get what tomatoes we still have out to our members, but I am thinking there are not many more weeks of tomatoes to be harvested.  Much to my surprise, I think our tomato harvest wasn't a complete loss this year.  The late blight disease had us very worried, but we were still able to harvest quite a few tomatoes.  Thanks to you, our members, for your patience and understanding concerning our tomatoes this season. 

This week we will add some different winter squash to the choice list.  Get your recipes ready for Spaghetti squash and butternut squash!  These squash have spent the last few weeks curing in our greenhouse and are now ready to go into your boxes. 

In the kitchen, these cooler temperatures also mean time for soup.  We use our stewing hens to make delicious bone broth and in turn use this broth to make delicious, nutritious soups.  Farmer Don recently made his specialty, Italian Wedding Soup.  He had his eye on a large head of escarole for several weeks and finally harvested it and used it in soup.  I can honestly say, I think this was his best batch yet!  I think I even took a picture?  If I did, I will post it on facebook and our blog. 

We tasted Farmer Don's latest kimchii this week.  I have to admit it is probably his best batch yet.  It will still need a bit more time for fermenting, but we are both really excited about the results.  I am predicting another 3 to 5 pounds will be made this weekend!  If you like kimchii and attend the Back Mountain Market, be sure to ask Farmer Don about his kimchii.  He will gladly give you all the details and maybe even a sample.

If anyone is looking for sustainably raised pastured pork, please contact us.  We will have a limited amount of freezer pork available this fall.  This meat is from hogs raised on our pasture and fed lots of our organic vegetables.  Pork is sold by the half or whole and comes  vacuum packed and frozen.  Ham, bacon, and sausage are standard with all orders, unless you specify otherwise.  Scrapple and lard are also available upon request.  Halves will yield approximately 80 to 100 pounds of meat and wholes will yield 170 to 200 pounds of meat. 

Speaking of meat, we also have chicken available.  These meat birds are raised on our pasture and fed certified non-gmo organic grain.  Half and whole roasters and stew hens are available through the buying club, at the Back Mountain Market or on farm.  Chickens also come vacuum packed and frozen.  For more information on our chicken, please contact the farm.

I want pass a huge thank you on to a group of Bloomsburg University students who volunteered on farm Sunday afternoon and evening.  The students were from the university organization H.O.P.E  (Helping our Planet Earth).  They spent several hours learning about our farm and helped farmer Don set up some irrigation in fall planting plots.  It was great to have their energy and enthusiasm on farm!!!

Time for another gentle box reminder.  Please remember to treat your share boxes gently and return them for re-use. 

The weather looks absolutely beautiful for market this weekend.  We will be at Forks Farm and Back Mountain markets on Saturday and the Bloomsburg University market on Friday.  Please, if you come to market, stop by our table and say hello. 

Yep, you guessed it, this week's newsletter has come to an end!  So, "be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies".

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Week 14 Newsletter.

Welcome to Week 14!

So I am thinking the cooler temperatures may be settling in for the season.  I just watched the weather and it looks like a slight warm up over the weekend, but highs in the 60's and low's in the 40's for the rest of the week.  I even heard mention of the f word for Thursday night.  Frost that is.  Frost is most definitely a nasty word around here.  Frost means the end to many of our summer crops.  Frost also mean lots of extra work for us as we scramble to try and cover tender plants and harvest what we can.  Frost, of course, also means we are closer to winter, which also means a lot of extra work for us.  But, that is a topic for an entire newsletter!  So we will move on.

I want to thank everyone who braved the rain to come out to market this past Saturday.  It was a cold wet day.  Seeing so many customers dedicated enough to local foods to come out in the weather, lifted all the vendors spirits.   

This week, the first of our winter squash made an appearance in boxes.  Delicata and Acorn squash will again be available for next week.  Butternut and spaghetti squash will become available in the next few weeks.  Both Delicata and Acorn squash are good sliced in half moons and roasted in some butter and maple syrup, honey or brown sugar.  As a side note, unlike like most winter squash, the skin of the delicata is edible.  Acorn squash are great for stuffing.  Follow one of the many stuffed acorn recipes available or simply use a mixture of rice or quinoa and beans seasoned with a bit of salt, pepper and your favorite herbs.  I find it best to first roast the squash a bit, then stuffing it and then return it to the oven for a final roasting.

As many of you probably know, here at Dancing Hen Farm we are big fans of cookbook author Deborah Madison.  We have many of her cookbooks and honestly feel we never go wrong with any of her recipes.  This weekend at market, Farmer Don was encouraging everyone to try a simple shredded radicchio salad with a walnut vinaigrette and toasted bread crumbs and hard cooked eggs.  We made the salad again this week for dinner and WOW!  it was better than we even remember it to be.  I have posted pictures of our version on both our facebook and blog (http://www.dancinghenfarmcsa.blogspot.com/ ).  The recipe is from Vegetable Literacy and here is a website  which talks about the book and lists the recipe.   http://tablematters.com/2013/04/01/higher-vegucation/

Out of the kitchen and on to the farm. 

With the cooler temperatures moving in we are starting to get our extended season production systems in order.  This includes closing up our unheated greenhouses.  We keep the plastic top on these houses during the summer, but we remove the end walls and lower side walls for ventilation.  In the fall we rebuild the end walls and re-install the sides to make a nice protected environment for our plants to grow over the winter.  We are finally giving up on the majority of our tomato field and will be turning it over for winter production.  This field will be planted with lettuces and cooking greens. We will build mini greenhouses over these beds to protect the plants during even the coldest of winter temperatures.  Our goal is to harvest into December and then, depending on the weather, stop harvesting until the end of February when the protected plants start to grow again.  We will continue to harvest from these fields into April and early May.

Fall crops still maturing in our fields include greens, brussel sprouts, cabbage and  broccoli romanesco.  The cabbage is starting to head up and we expect to see a harvest out of these plots in the near future.  We are continuing to try and nurse our brussel sprouts into sprouting.  Stay tuned for the results!  Broccoli romanesco unfortunately is a bit of an inside joke here on farm.  Last year was our first attempt at this crop.  Romenesco is the funky space ship looking lime green vegetable falling somewhere between broccoli and cauliflower.  Last year we had beautiful huge plants.  When I say huge, I mean 4 feet plus tall with gigantic leaves.  Unfortunately, the plants got bigger and bigger, but we never saw any flower heads to harvest.  And also, unfortunately, this year, we are again producing beautiful plants, but no flowering.   Stay tuned on this crop as well.  I am sure you will hear cheers ringing from the farm if we find beautiful space ship flower buds in our romanesco field!  Or maybe you will hear us this winter cheering on the deer as they devour the huge, beautiful, non-fruiting plants?

I am sure you have noticed apples are off the choice for the time being.  We are currently assessing some other trees for harvest.  We need to mow around them first!  We know one is a hard tart apple probably best suited for cooking, but we aren't certain about the others.  We will keep you posted if we are again harvesting from our trees and we will at least try and give you an idea of the characteristics of the apples we are harvesting.  Sorry, but we honestly do not know the varieties.  We have also been in contact with a friend of ours who has organic apples.  We may purchase some apples from him this season and will keep you posted on the varieties we purchase.

This weekend we will again be at Back Mountain Memorial Library Market.  As always, stop by, say hello and pick up some great local food.

As always, thanks to each of you for your continued support of our small family farm and local agriculture.  And, as always, in the words of Farmer Don "be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies"


Shredded Radicchio salad with a walnut vinaigrette.  Thank you Deborah Madison for another great recipe!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sunday Kimchi

Sunday Kimchi

The primary fermentation crock

Farmer Don filing the jars.

Ready for a second fermentation in the fridge.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Week 13 Newsletter

Welcome to Week 13!

Yes, I think I can finally say the signs of a change in season are here.  The heat wave from last week seems to have faded into a hot steamy memory.  Mornings are starting to be a bit chillier and watching this morning's weather, the outlook is for even cooler temperatures this weekend.  The cooler temperatures are always welcoming on farm, although as I have mentioned before, we still have some summer crops we are hoping will mature.  Historically we get our first frost in September and with lows in the low to mid 40's predicted for this weekend, I am sure frost is not far behind.  The first frost of the season is generally a light frost only effecting our most tender crops, but it in our minds, it still marks the end of the summer growing season.

On farm we are still getting our fields set for fall and winter production.  Lots and lots of greens going into the ground over the next few weeks.  Look for fewer and fewer summer crops to be available and shift back to an availability more heavy on greens.  We will be harvesting our winter squash this week.  These squash will be put in the sun in one of our greenhouses to cure.  Delicata and Spaghetti squash require little or no curing, so these will be the first to be available.  We will be harvesting our sweet potatoes shortly as well.  This is our first season of what we hope are successful sweet potatoes.  Those of you who are returning members know we always have lots of sweet potatoes available, but in the past we have purchased them from a friend of ours who runs a certified organic farm to our south.  We will keep you posted on how our sweet potato harvest comes along.

One green we are harvesting right now is bok choy.  Whenever I see bok choy being harvested two things come to mind.  One is a youtube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1YNUqglW70) made by some farmers in New Paltz, NY.  In this funny video, one of the farmers is absolutely in love with her bok choy; reading the baby bok choy bedtime stories and signing to the plants in the field.  She even makes bok choy pizza for her csa customers.  Farmer Don likes his Asian greens, but I don't think he has started signing to them yet!  The other thing that comes to mind is our first year of growing and Farmer Don's first farm market cooking demonstration.  He made a bok choy salad.  I will post the recipe below, as it is still a favorite, not only to make, but also to hand out to people at market looking for a way to use bok choy.

In our kitchen, if we are not making bok choy salad, we routinely add bok choy to stir fries and soups.  For soup, I would suggest a basic noodle soup (Japanese udon noodles work well) made with chicken (or vegetable) broth to which garlic and bok choy are added.  For a special treat, top each bowl of soup with a poached egg.  For stir fries we often us a recipe from Andre Chesman's "Serving up the Harvest".  In this cookbook, Chesman gives instructions for a basic stir fry and suggests you alter the vegetables as crops become available.  There are many stir fry recipes available with a simple google search.  We find the secret to a stir fry is having all of your cutting and prep work done before you start cooking.  We like to start any meat we are using to marinate first and then cut the veggies, grouping the veggies according to how long they take to cook.  For bok choy this means separating the stems from the leaves, as the stems will require a bit more cooking time.  Speaking of separating leaves from stems.  If you find bok choy leaves a bit too bitter for your tastes, simply cut some of the upper leaf away and compost it.

This time of year our kitchen is a constant flurry of activity.  This past weekend Farmer Don used 10 pounds of napa cabbage and bok choy to make a batch of kimchi.  Over the past year he has been trying to perfect his recipe and he feels confident this batch will be his best.  This latest batch is fermenting in crocks in our back bedroom and I can already smell the lacto fermentation process starting.  We should know in a few weeks how it turns out, so stay tuned.  On farm we have always done a lot of preserving, canning, pickling, fermenting and freezing, and we are currently working out the logistics and a business plan to offer these products to our customers.  Stay tuned for more details on this as well.

It seems our buying clubs are generating some questions.  I will try and offer a bit of a clarification.  We offer 2 buying club options.  The first is a buying club available only to our CSA members.  This option allows CSA members to order additional produce, meats, seafood and value added products.  The order is then delivered with your weekly CSA box.  We do require a 50 dollar deposit to participate in this option, since we deliver the product with your box.  The deposit amount declines as you make buying club purchases.  The second buying club option we offer is what we call a Winter Buying Club.  This option is open to everyone and does not require a deposit.  We have not currently opened up option 2 for the season.  With option 2, you will need to meet us at a designated time to pick up and pay for your order.  We anticipate the winter buying club to start in about a month.  Watch your email for announcements concerning the winter buying club and if you are a csa member and would like to order from the csa buying club, please contact the farm to sign up and make your deposit.

Time for market announcements.   Farmer Don will again be on the Bloomsburg University campus Friday morning for a Farmers Market.  On Saturday we will be at both Forks Farm Market in Orangeville and at the Back Mountain Memorial Library Farmers Market in Dallas.  If you visit any of these markets, please remember to stop by our table and say hello.

Thanks again to each of you for your continued support of our farm and local agriculture.  Have a great week, be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies.


Bok choy, trimmed, chopped - 8 ounces
Fresh goat cheese - 1 ounce
Toasted walnuts - 1 ounce
Fresh fruit - 1/2 apple, a tangerine, etc.
Chopped green onion - 3 or 4

2 tablespoons cream, whisked until pillowy (this takes a minute or two, it's also easier starting with more cream but since the dressing doesn't keep well, make only enough for the current meal)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or lemon juice or another vinegar)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon good mustard

Combine just before serving.

Monday, September 8, 2014

July scenes from the Back Mountain Memorial Library Farmers Market.  Thank you to Farm Intern Lydia for sharing the pictures.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Welcome to Week 12!

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day.  Labor Day, the end of meteorological summer.  Say what?  Seems like summer is not quite ready to end around here.  Good weather for the remainder of our summer crops, not so good for our lettuces and cooking greens.  But, as Farmer Don always say, "Mother Nature bats last", so a continuation of summer we will endure.

Speaking of summer crops our tomatillos are still going strong.  We are growing a purple heirloom and a traditional green variety.   The purples are exceptionally sweet!  If you have not tried tomatillos yet, I would encourage you to do so.   They are the main ingredient in salsa verde, are good added to chili, pair well with pork and, believe it or not, are a good addition to scrambled eggs.   I will post a really good bread salad recipe below.  This salad is a favorite summertime lunch here on farm. 

 On farm we are busy getting our fields turned over for fall.  This includes planting fall crops, but also seeding cover crops to improve our soil's fertility.  We are again planning on using low tunnels for extended season production of greens this fall and early spring.  A low tunnel is a mini-greenhouse made of plastic sheeting we place over our rows of plants.  The plastic protects the plants and last year these tunnels allowed us to extend our harvest into December.  We have plans again this year to continue to offer produce for as long as possible into the winter months.  Watch future newsletters for more details on how you can order items once the CSA ends.

We still have some summer crops to mature, so the recent heat should help.  Peppers and eggplant are fruiting nicely.  This week we will offer some fairytale eggplant.  These small eggplant are purple and white and are great for grilling.   We will also be offering some lunchbox peppers from our friend Teri over at Mad Dog Farms.  Teri grows organically and is known for her garlic and peppers.  Other summer crops waiting to mature here on our farm include another planting of summer squash and more green beans and our own sweet peppers.

As our production turns from summer crops into fall, look for more greens to become available.  We have large plantings of kale and swiss chard waiting to mature, as well as more Asian greens and cabbage.  Collards will make an appearance soon and we are waiting patiently to see if the broccoli romanesco will form heads this year.  Lettuce and salad greens should remain available for the duration of the CSA. 

Our winter squash will soon be harvested and put in one of our greenhouses to cure.  Farmer Don had a very unhappy discovery in our winter squash bed last week.  It seems one of our resident groundhogs decided to make a new home in the middle of the blue hubbard bed.  He, and most likely his family, ate most of the hubbard fruit and a few of the butter nuts.  Farmer Don promptly filled his new house in with rocks!  Groundhogs, a never ending battle here.  Sometimes we fill a bit like Bill Murray in Caddyshack!

Time to bring this to an end.  Sorry for the delay this week.  I have a few animals staring me down for breakfast, so I need to start morning chores. 

Don't forget to visit us at market.  Today Farmer Don will be on the Bloomsburg University campus at a Farmers Market  and Saturday he and Farmer Neil will be back at the Back Mountain Memorial Library.  Stop by and say hello!

Be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies!!!

Tomatillo Bread Salad (Sara Jones, Tucson CSA)
3 slices stale bread, cubed
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 basket tomatillos, husk removed, cleaned and grilled or roasted
1 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 cup beans, preferably black beans, rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice from one lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro, optional

Toss bread cubes with herbs and spices and oil. Toast in a 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally to brown evenly. Roughly chop roasted tomatillos, reserving any juice that they release. Toss together tomatillos, onions, croutons and beans. Drizzle with tomatillo juice and lime juice, season with salt and pepper and serve at room temperature, garnished with cilantro.