Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Only at a third

According to the head field worker Khalid, we are currently producing only 1/3 of what the farm has planted. This seems astounding to me since we move so much food on a weekly basis. That means we haven't even reached our peak yet!! We're gonna be past our eyeballs in produce very shortly!

One thing I've learned to deal with is the amount of food that goes uneaten. Much of the food that cannot go to CSA or market is still perfectly edible and delicious, it's just not perfect. We, as consumers have gotten so used to demanding produce that is in pristine condition without thinking about where that food might end up if it's not purchased. I think about the food we throw away here, at the beginning of the production chain. Then more at the wholesaler, then more again at the retailer, then much of it going rotten at the bottom of the fridge. I've learned here on the farm that you can't possibly save every bit of food and that I just don't have the time to prepare all the food I would like. So the chickens here get it all.

I can't say the food goes to waste since it either ends up in compost or to chickens. They are a finicky bunch since they don't eat certain things like fennel or garlic. Those spoiled chickens! Since I'm on the topic of chickens, I will start with my most recent meal and catch you all up a bit on some meals I had this past week.

Tonight's Feast: Roasted chicken with veggies
I roasted a chicken last night with some potatoes, carrots, sweet onions, fresh garlic cloves and a combination of fresh herbs; thyme, marjoram and flat leaf parsley, seasoned simply with salt and pepper. I cooked it in a ceramic dish with a glass lid for 2 hours until the chicken stopped bleeding and the whole house smelled like roasted garlic and herbs, yumm. As you can see in the photo, I added some previously prepared collard greens with garlic and lemon juice. I used to think good collards had to be cooked with a "leg" but I've changed my ways and I think collards are equally good with lots of garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice to finish. It also gets better after a few days.

I didn't cook an entire chicken, but half of the most gigantic chicken I have ever cooked in my life, probably that I've ever seen! Don't know if you can tell from the photo, but that's a wing and a small piece of the upper thigh that is attached to the back. Let's just say I'm going to be eating chicken every meal for at least a week!

About garlic: if you ever want to be in taste bud heaven do yourself a favor and roast some fresh garlic. Garlic transforms itself from a stinky, pungent and spicy kick in the butt to a sweet, sexy and creamy wonder that is so unique and seductive. You don't even have to peel it since it can be easily squeezed out of the skin when roasted and you can spread like butter on a naked piece of crusty bread. Your mouth will thank you.

Breakfast of Champs: Granola, yogurt and fresh strawberries

Strawberries are among my favorite fruits. I don't eat Driscolls and I don't eat strawberries out of season period so when summer rolls around I try to get my fill of strawberries to hold out for the rest of the year. Thank goodness Zaid produces some of the absolute tastiest strawberries hands down. They're small and bursting with sweetness with that hint of tartness and concentrated flavor that makes for an awesome berry. Add some excellent local yogurt and handmade granola and you have a winner. Keeps me going all morning.

Quickie Dinner not so quick

I meant to have just some salad but I had some shell peas I wanted to eat and a stale old piece of bread that I didn't have the heart to toss so I prepared them as well. I made a makeshift pain perdu by soaking the bread in a fabulous egg, again from our wonder chickens. This is what an egg should look like: bright orange yolk full of omega 3's, standing high and looking you in the eye; nice clear white, not cloudy or runny. These eggs are the real thing. In the meantime I threw some butter in a pan and tossed in some sweet onion until it smelled delicious and then the fresh peas. Sautee a few minutes, add salt and pepper. Fresh peas are such a treat straight from the pod, all sweet and crunchy. > Just look at them all cute and cozy in their pod, can't help but gobble them up. Butter and fresh peas also make a fabulous combination. The salad is simply baby greens with strawberries with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The heaviness of my pain perdu, yes i finished it in the toaster oven with some Parmesan cheese, along with the peas, were a perfect match for the bright, tart, sweet, cool, lightness of the salad. Very satisfying.

Pickles: Japanese style turnips
These were going to the chickens too so I salvaged a few to make some pickles. I rarely make vinegar pickles but these are so good, I couldn't resist. I added two radishes just for color. They'll be good in just a few more days.

I've been documenting most of what has been harvested in the past week and the variety is awesome. Several kinds of peppers, eggplants, beans and squash, all different colors, shapes and sizes. I'm happy to report that diversity is alive and well here. I will be sharing these photos as soon as I figure out the best way to do it. Perhaps my next blog entry will be a photo log.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Weekday Meals

So Tuesdays and Wednesdays we prepare for CSA delivery here on the farm. In addition to preparing for CSA we also have to unload and sort through all the produce that returns from the weekend market. Imagine crates of food everywhere along with empty crates, bins and other containers of all types. Everything has to be checked for freshness and placed in the cooler right away. Old stuff gets tossed and the good stuff gets sent to a CSA as a bonus item or saved for next market depending on how much there is and the condition of the produce. Naturally, some things have a much longer life than others.

These days I stay away from cooking since Haifa is back and commands the kitchen, usually cooking up something that smells wonderful. I usually have something light and quick like a salad.

Tuesday Evening: Sprout salad

I sprouted some mung beans over the weekend that came out beautiful so made a random salad with whatever I had in the fridge. I was feeling really lazy. After two days off it takes a while to get back into the groove of things. I made a peanut butter dressing with crushed peanuts (from the peanut butter machine) thinned with a little water and some vinegar, a bit of honey and chili powder.

Wednesday Lunch: Brown rice with curry dal, collard greens and kimchee cukes
Should have taken a picture of my lunch but I didn't have my camera. Everything was prepared in advance and I just nuked it. I hate to nuke anything but that's the only heating device on the farm and I hate cold rice. The kimchee I made almost two weeks ago and I always regret eating it too soon cause now the jar is almost empty and it's at the perfect sourness. Always jump the gun with kimchee, gotta have more patience. Lucky there's a small crate of wrinkly cucumbers in the cooler just waiting to be kimchee'd. I promise to wait this time...

Wednesday Dinner: Up and down salad

I call this up and down salad cause it's a mix of things that grow up; baby greens and sprouts, and things that grow down; beets, carrots and potatoes. the potatoes are left over from the weekend and I threw them into the salad to balance all the crunchiness from the root veggies. Have you ever seen anything more gorgeous than a Cioggia beet? These are the baby ones but they also get huge. I like to eat these raw just so I can see how cool they look inside. When you cook them, they usually just turn pink. They also have the added benefit of tasting as wonderful as they look!

Tomorrow is preparing for the weekend markets, the craziest and longest day of the week. So much food so little time...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Season's Eating

Hi All,

Welcome to the Season's Eating blog. Coming to you from Norwich Meadows Farm in Norwich, NY close to 4 hours northwest of NYC. Since I'm here for the summer working on the farm, I'll be keeping you all up to date on what's in season here in New York State and how I'm cooking it all up. The farm produces a huge variety of amazing organic produce and I'm planning to share some of it with you here.

I generally work 12 hour days from Tuesday to Saturday and have Sundays and Mondays off. These are the days that I generally get the most time to cook my butt off. During the week late hours limits the amount of cooking time although I do try to prepare meals for workday lunches.

This was the first weekend I spent on the farm so I went crazy with the cooking. Here are some of the dishes and meals I prepared.

Saturday Dinner: Purslane Salad
Saturday is a very long day so I usually do a very quick prep. Most of the fresh produce I get on the farm is left over veggies that cannot be sold because they aren't perfect or have blemishes. I also get what's left from bunching, which can be a lot. On the weekends, because we prepare for market which has a greater variety of produce than CSA, there's usually an awful lot of food to choose from. I made a super quick salad from what was left over that day.


I chopped it all up and tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Simple and super delicious. The crunchy texture and tartness of the purslane, mixed with the flavors of the other veggies made it a terrific mix. Yummy!

Sunday Dinner: Steak with roasted new potatoes, green beans and golden beet salad

I cooked a big meal since I had the time. I decided to have some meat so I cooked up a big steak and made some accompanying veggies. The steak is not pictured here because I want to highlight the veggies. Plus it made most of my meal. That steak will last more than three days.

I sauteed the green beans with fresh garlic salt and pepper.
I roasted the beets on the oven early in the day, peeled them and chilled them. I made a mustard dressing with more fresh garlic minced and mixed the chopped beets and topped it off with fresh flat leaf parsley.
The new potatoes are roasted with baby sweet scallion bulbs, salt, pepper and dried rosemary. The potatoes are creamy delicious.
I took a bike ride around town yesterday and happily found a french bakery that sold excellent bread and also got a hunk of brie which I had after dinner. I ate like a pig! oink, oink!

Monday Cooking: Fresh Cherry Pie and Pesto

I made my first ever cherry pie and I'm happy to report that it came out astoundingly beautiful. We received way too many sour cherries this week for the CSA share so I took some home and decided to bake a pie. I actually went to look for a pre-made crust (I know I was trying to cheat) since I couldn't find a rolling pin in the kitchen. The one crust I did find had so many funky ingredients in it I opted for home made. Glad I did. I found a wooden dowel that rolled the dough just fine and dandy. As you can see, the pie came out fabulous. It took half an hour just to pit the cherries but well worth the effort. I would do this again.
BTW got the recipe from the internet, a combo of three different very similar recipes.

I also made pesto which I don't have a photo of sorry. The basil this week was gorgeous, beautiful big juicy leaves and bright green. There's always lots left over from bunching that usually go the chickens but I had to have some of this basil so I made two jars of pesto (one to share) that will most likely last the entire season.

I toasted the pine nuts in the oven and grated the cheese by hand. Never buy pre-grated cheese (or pie crust!) they are usually mixed with anticoagulants like corn starch or other weird things that don't go with cheese. The garlic produced on the farm is some of the best I've had. It's very strong and the flavor is amazing. Threw it all in the Cuisinart with just the tender basil leaves, olive oil and salt. Two thumbs up for the pesto!

Monday Lunch: Steak sandwich with pesto on French bread

I spread some pesto on lightly toasted bread and thinly sliced steak from the night before. Does it get better than this?

Tomorrow starts the intense work week so I will keep you all posted later in the week on what's on my plate next.

Have a lovely week. Good night!

Eat well to live well and love better.