Tuesday, September 29, 2009

September 29 baskets and farm notes

The picture on this note is a picture of a Sept 29 basket deconstructed...baskets today contained potatoes, cabbage, onions, garlic, carrots, soup celery,tomatillos, jerusalem artichokes, chard or collards,white currant tomatoes and Fordhook Acorn squash. Also the smaller Lantern fruit are Cape Gooseberries, not ground cherries. These fruit are a true challenge to grow here, as they are actually native to Peru. I begin the seed for these fruits inside in March to give them the long growing season that they require. I would say that these are my favourite fruit that I grow, I love the tropical tang they contain. Baskets also contain peppers, generally more hot than sweet.
Next week is the last week of veggie deliveries, completing 20 weeks of food I have grown for CSA members. Although it has been a difficult growing season because of the weather there has been a fair bit of food produced here. Please accept my thanks for your involvement and support this year. I appreciate all the positive feedback and comments and it has been wonderful meeting some of you that are new this year,
I think the veggies in your arsenal today could create a wonderful soup. A recipe follows. Pair this with a wonderful homemade bread ( see Eating Niagara blog for my no-knead recipe) and you should be cozy and content.

Hearty Potato and Vegetable Soup

Recipe By : Taste of Home, Premier Issue/Roberta Banghart
Serving Size : 8

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
6 medium potatoes -- peeled and sliced
2 carrots -- diced
6 stalks celery -- diced
2 quarts water
1 onion -- chopped
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
6 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups milk

In a large kettle, cook potatoes, carrots and celery in water until tender,
about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid and setting vegetables aside. In
the same kettle, saute onion in butter until soft. Stir in flour, salt and
pepper. gradually add milk, stirring constantly until thickened. Gently
stir in cooked vegetables. Add 1 cup or more of reserved cooking liquid
until soup is desired consistency.
We are up to about 6 eggs a day from my young hens which is very exciting, With 22 laying hens, I should soon be up to 22 eggs a day!
And the eggs are fantastic, no pale yellow yolks, but brilliant orange yolks which sit high. Once you eat eggs from happy chickens, it is very difficult to go back to factory farm eggs, even if they are organic.
Both greenhouses are being planted for the winter now and I continue to dig out the remaining roots still in the ground, such as potatoes, carrots,sweet potatoes and jerusalem artichokes.It is pretty much time to plant the garlic for 2010 too, once the ground dries up a little bit again. Fall is a pretty busy time,with clearing out the garden, and preparing for winter.
Till next time...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

September 22 baskets and farm notes

We have had some lovely warm weather the last few weeks, so it has been really pleasant working in the greenhouses and getting them planted up for the winter. It is amazing when conditions are just right how quickly seeds germinate and grow.
Planted now are salads, arugula, all kinds of mustards, chards, kales, beets and carrots.
I am anxious to get the garden turned over for winter too, but surprisingly despite all the dry weather, the soil underneath is actually still rather wet. Wow- who would have thunk it.
It is pretty exciting now for Mollie to pop off the school bus and head to the chicken coop to collect eggs our young chickens are laying. At 4 1/2 months old, they have started laying the cute little pullet eggs,and I am expecting very soon there will be a LOT of eggs with 22 laying hens.
There are just 2 weeks left for baskets in the CSA now.Please could members please remember to return your baskets as the end of the season is approaching. All further deliveries will arrive in bags.
Baskets today contained mostly these ingredients with a few variations from basket to basket.....
Pie pumpkins,peppers, tomatoes, beets (or Broccolini)carrots, garlic,basil and chard.
Here are some recipes to enjoy...to cook the pumpkin, simply cut in half, score and bake in oven or microwave till soft

Swiss Chard Curry



* 1 diced onion
* 2 minced garlic cloves
* 1/2 inch ginger, peeled and diced
* 1 pinch coriander
* 1 pinch cumin
* 1 pinch turmeric
* 1 diced green chilis
* 6 ounces tomato paste
* 1/2 cup water or stock
* 4 cups stock, of your choice
* 1 cup dried garbanzo beans
* 6 swiss chard leaves


Saute the onion with the garlic and the ginger in a splash of olive oil over medium low heat until soft, about 10 minute.

Add the spices, the chili and the tomato paste and heat over medium for two to three minutes.

Cool mixture and transfer to food processor or blender and add the water or stock and blend until smooth.

Transfer back into the pan. Cook on low for 15 minutes or until its brownish and pasty in texture.

Add stock, bring to a boil and then simmer.

Meanwhile, cook the chickpeas and add to the mixture. Simmer for about 15 min(the longer the simmer the better). Finely chop the Swiss chard and stir in the curry at the end for about five minutes.

Serve over whole brown rice with a dollop of yogurt. If you like, add cooked yams or potatoes to this mixture.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

1/2 cup butter. margarine or shortening
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin - make your own
3/4 cup milk
powdered sugar

In a large bowl cream the butter. Gradually add sugar and cream till light and fluffy. Blend in beaten eggs. Sift together the dry ingredients. Combine pumpkin and milk. Add dry ingredients alternately with pumpkin mixture.
Pour into a greased bundt pan and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

Cool for at least 1 hour.
Drizzle with sugar glaze (1 cup powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon milk, mixed until smooth) .

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hamilton Spectator, September 17th/09

Whether you pronounce it toe-mato or tu-mato, call the late-summer staple mostly gone.

Blight has wiped out many crops, leaving consumers scrambling to find tomatoes, particularly the Roma variety that is preserved for sauces.

"We've taken a $30,000 hit," said Melanie Golba, who owns plan b Organic Farms in Flamborough. "We had to plow under all of our two acres and that's a lot of tomatoes."

Golba said a wet summer meant it was the worst growing season for the crop in 13 years.

Some who used fungicides survived the blight, and are fielding calls from across southern Ontario.

"I've got four acres that are 100 per cent clean because I sprayed on a seven- to 10-day schedule," said Jeff Tigchelaar of Tigchelaar Berry Farms in Binbrook.

He heeded Ontario Ministry of Agriculture warnings that a wet summer could mean blight this month, and also planted in raised beds to keep roots above the soggiest soil.

The blight is the same disease that caused the Irish potato famine in the 1840s which resulted in the death or flight of millions of Irish. Tomatoes and potatoes are both members of the nightshade plant family.

The late-season blight can destroy a crop within two days given ideal conditions for the disease, cool nights with dew and warm days.

"It's been a bad season for many vegetables because of all the rain," said Imran Mian of Hamilton Farm Market, adding the hit on the Roma tomato crop has distressed many in the city's Italian community.

They can find Romas at Simpler Thyme Farm in Flamborough, but prices have jumped to $20 a bushel from $16 last year.

Owner Ana Lanigan said she was able to save half the crop, but salvaged just five bushels of heirloom tomatoes from 2,000 plants.

Karen Burson of Eat Local Hamilton said the poor crop makes it tough to find alternatives.

"I've tried sweet potato and beets as an alternative to make spaghetti sauce and believe me, nothing replaces tomatoes."



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

September15 baskets and farm notes

My computer crashing two weeks ago prevented me from adding any notes to either blog for the last little while, but now it is back we'll see how long it lasts.
One note about the baskets last week. If you received the white carrots, they are a very unrefined old heirloom carrot, and are(were)best eaten cooked. They have a very carrot-y flavour and aren't overly sweet.
This week there is squash in your basket, as well as potatoes, tomatoes, tomatillos,peppers(watch out for hot),eggplants,beets, cooking greens, some have broccoli, ground cherries, herbs.
There are 3 weeks left to go in the season, with the final delivery being on October 6. Please remember to return your baskets, although the last few weeks veggies will come to you in bags.
Since July now I have been working alone here in the garden, my help unaffordable for me because of the crop losses I have had.
I thank people for their support and know that most of you accept that this has been a difficult year to get the veggies out to you. I have definitely done the best I can and have not at any point given up. I try to look at the baskets each week and give you the best value I can for the money, considering what is in the garden at the time.
Losses this year have been overwhelming. Multiple planting of beets, onions and carrots were washed out. Chard, salad died in the rain, as did kale and leaf broccolis. Thousands of lbs of tomatoes succumbed to the weather and blight. Ditto for the eggplants and peppers. We did the work, bought the seed and supplies, I paid for labour...and it rained.
Inherent in joining a CSA is the fact that you share risk with the farmer, and sadly this year despite my best efforts, I have been unable to control the weather yet again. I thought for sure when I won THAT award this ability would be forthcoming, but alas , no.
Squash have done well!
Try this recipe for a lovely soup-best with butternut!
Feel free to sub the chicken broth with veggie broth

* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1 small onion, chopped
* 1 stalk celery, chopped
* 1 medium carrot, chopped
* 2 medium potatoes, cubed
* 1 medium butternut squash - peeled, seeded, and cubed
* 1 (32 fluid ounce) container chicken stock
* salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. Melt the butter in a large pot, and cook the onion, celery, carrot, potatoes, and squash 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Pour in enough of the chicken stock to cover vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer 40 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.
2. Transfer the soup to a blender, and blend until smooth. Return to pot, and mix in any remaining stock to attain desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

(Hey, it's September 1st) baskets!

Boy, summer is nearly over and you know what that means....tomatillos are sprouting everywhere in my garden. There are lots of very good recipes on the internet for them, and they are also so easy to freeze. Just husk them, wash them and let dry, then bag up and put them in the freezer.
Here is a tasty soup recipe to try as well;

Tomatillo Soup

This is a yummy soup that can be made with chicken broth or vegetable broth. If you are looking for an alternative to gazpacho try this cold with lump crab meat. The recipe serves 6.

* 3 T. vegetable oil
* 3 shallots, minced
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 lb. tomatillos, husked and diced
* 6 C. chicken stock or vegetable broth
* 1 jalapeno chili, seeded and minced
* 2 Anaheim chilies, roasted, peeled, cored, seeded and diced
* 1 Poblano chili, roasted, peeled, cored, seeded and diced
* 3-4 T. fresh lime juice
* 2 T chopped cilantro
* 1/2 C. light sour cream
* 1/2 C. 1/2 & 1/2
* 1 T. fresh lime juice
* Toppings:
* lump crab
* grilled chicken
* grilled shrimp


Heat the oil over medium heat and then add the shallots and garlic and sauté until softened, stirring frequently to ensure the garlic doesn't overcook. Add the tomatillos, the chilies and the stock. Boil and then simmer 10-15 minutes. The tomatillos should be soft. Let cool and then transfer to a food processor or blender and puree with the jalapeno, lime juice and cilantro.

Combine the light sour cream, 1/2 & 1/2 and 1 T. lime juice. Either drizzle onto soup or put in an old fashioned ketchup bottle or pastry bag and pipe a design onto the hot soup. This is wonderful as is or if serving as a main course, you may want to consider one of the toppings.

If time is of the essence, add one small can of mild diced green chilies and one small can of hot diced green chilies and omit the chilies and jalapeno. If it isn't spicy enough, season with a few drops of hot sauce.


Lots of heirloom tomatoes are continuing to appear in the baskets, also peppers, ground cherries, collards or chard, beets or broccolini,potatoes, garlic, peppermint, basil.
If the tomatoes are not getting used up, they as well can be frozen in the form they arrive in, just make sure they are clean.
The garden is looking pretty overgrown right now...I search for veggies in the oats that have sprung up from the oat straw I mulched with. I just read in the paper that this has been the second wettest summer on record. We have had nearly the same number of dry days as the average summer, but when the rain has come, it has really come!
It has been very hard on the gardens in Niagara, and many growers find themselves short of produce and frustrated with their chosen career. My sense is that this turbulent and unpredictable weather will be the way of the future, an effect of global warming?
Please continue to check in with the blog for notes about the ending of the season. I'll continue to get things out to people as long as it is possible...

We had much to be thankful for this past weekend, when my friend Tiffany got married here on the farm. Amazingly, despite warnings of rain and thunderstorms all week, Saturday cleared and the sun even shone here in Wellandport- a good omen for sure.

It is wonderful the friendships that doing the CSA has afforded me. I met Tiffany years ago when she signed up for my CSA for the first time. Now it is an honour to consider her a friend and to have been witness to her wedding to Steve. You never know where vegetables will lead you.