Beets or Summer Squash
Garlic Scapes & Eggs
Mediterranean Rice-Stuffed Escarole
We have been enjoying the mild spring conditions over the past 10 days. It seems like a real true Spring around here, with a mix of sun and rain, everything bursting from the seams with green growth, and cool nights. In our five years here, Spring has often seemed somewhat flighty in May, appearing for a few days and then disappearing quickly. But this year, May has been absolutely temperate and our spring crops have been reveling in the respite before the onslaught of heat and humidity sets in with the Summer season. We are simultaneously excited to see our first Summer crops creeping in and with this upcoming week they will be happy, so happy, as they need warmer days to really grow. Summer Squash is always our first warm weather crop to arrive and we are happy to say that this coming week they will be in full effect. Now to get enough time to keep planting more Summer crops, that is always a challenge.
This weeks share is full of delicious options. We have recipes for many salads, as it is going to be a warm week and what a great way to highlight all these superb treats. Especially the peas, it is a good Spring when we are able to offer these to our shares. Please enjoy….Autumn and Brian
Heirloom Beet Carpaccio
***please season frisee generously with salt and lemon
Burrata With Snap Peas and Shiitakes
***Haas Mushrooms has delicious Shiitakes right now
All Photos Courtesy of Alexis Courtney
Butterhead & Oakleaf Lettuce
Flowering Brassicas or Mustard Mix
Here it begins, our 26 week 2017 CSA season. This is Tomten Farm’s 6th season and we are excited to be growing food for you all, your families, and anyone else you might be feeding. We are humbled by your constant support of our farm, Many of you have been with us for many years, since the beginning or close to it. We are humbled by your vcontinued support and enthusiasm for our food. For those of you just joining us, welcome. Please use these posts and the recipes included below to learn a bit more about us, what we do, how we do it, and various ways to use more produce. We like to share details about our trials and successes throughout each season so we can bridge the gap between growing food and eating it.
This Spring has gotten warm very early. Since February we have had these warm stints and our last frost was earlier than in past years. This means most crops have grown faster than usual, whether its starts in our greenhouse or crops out in the field. Many of our quick succession crops such as arugula, salad mix, radishes, and salad turnips, have come on substantially earlier than expected and so our timing for the past 6 weeks has been a bit off, meaning we are harvesting things a bit larger than intended and we have a ton and then all of a sudden not enough. It has also meant that both squash, tomatoes, and our early grain corn got planted 2 weeks earlier than usual. Each successive crop of nightshades (eggplant, peppers, tomatoes) has grown with breakneck speed in our greenhouse, so if our soil dries out quickly we will be planting 1500 plants in the next week. For you this means Summer crops may come to you a few weeks earlier than in past years; but with our weather you never know what is going to happen.
We are planning some big infrastructure projects on the farm this year. We are doing a complete overhaul of our irrigation system; which includes digging a new well. We invested in some new equipment this past Winter, making our field cultivation, bed preparation, and stale bedding more effective. These methods help us manage weed pressure and keep our crops from drowning whenever we get torrential rains; which happens more than we could ever expect. We are also looking at using more beneficial insects to combat some of our pest pressure. This past Fall we released lacewings and lady bugs which we bought from a beneficial insect company to combat aphids and we saw great results. We were surprised when early in the Spring we saw enormous hatchings of lady bugs out in the fields, so perhaps the population is naturally reproducing. Over this coming year, we hope to get more involved with using beneficial insects for various pest pressure; which from early estimates looks like it will be a very difficult pest year. These are just a few of the things we are working with right now. Farming is a constant evolution and learning process, no time to idle.
There are lots of tender greens in this week’s share. The lettuces are delicious and loving this weather. They are great paired with the spring radish or turnip with a simple dressing of minced green garlic, soy, ginger, rice vinegar, salt, splash of sesame oil, and olive oil. The kale and arugula are voluminous and can be used either cooked or raw. We are including the first of our flowering brassica or mustard greens; both great quickly wilted and paired with your favorite protein and rice. The green garlic came on very early this year, so this may be our last week bringing it to market. We are giving you all a substantial amount and it will keep for a while in a bag in your crisper. If the outer greens yellow, just peel a layer down. You can use both the white and green parts; just cook the green a bit more as it is not quite as tender, somewhat like using a leek. Please enjoy this once per season treat. Below we have included some recipe ideas to inspire delicious meals with this week’s share items. We are excited to begin this season with you all. Enjoy the share…..Autumn and Brian
All Photos courtesy of Alexis Courtney
Today is the Winter Solstice, a pretty influential day, especially for farmers. After today our day lengths will increase, so very slowly to start and then much more quickly come March and April, for the next six months. At which point they will decrease and so on and on like that every six months.
Most important for us Winter season farmers, is that the plants currently in the ground and just seeded will recognize this day length increase however small it is and begin to grow a bit faster than they have for the past month. Temperatures and direct sunlight are also key factors in the rate of plant growth; but the trigger of increased daylight has helped exponentially in our personal experience. It will not be till about a month from now that we see real results, but by February the rate of growth is significant.
Our laying hens work in a very similar way. During the next 4 weeks we will see an automatic ramping up of overall egg production; with little spikes happening 3-4 days following warmer weather. By February (typically our coldest month in Virginia) our laying hens are laying double the amount of eggs that they lay in November and December, although the weather is typically warmer then. We can only attest this to the growing daylight hours and our laying hens biological clock.
This cyclical change is a time of celebration for us as it falls in our Winter break and signals the potential of the coming season and a chance to get our customers more food during these barren Winter months. Below is a list what is available during this time of year. Join us at our market in January to stock up on fresh vegetables and delicious poultry. Happy New Year to all, Brian and Autumn
Roots: Carrots, Beets, Turnips, Parsnips, Daikon & Winter Radishes
Greens: Collards, Kale, Spinach, Persian Cress, Taglio Chard, Mesclun Mix, Arugula
Heads: Radicchio, Escarole, Frisee, Lettuce, Cabbage, Napa Cabbage, Fennel, Cauliflower
Various Winter Squash Varieties: Seminole Pumpkin, Jonathan Cushaw, Thai Kang Kob, Musquee de Provence, Sucrine du Berry
Fresh Stoneground Corn
Hickory King Cornmeal $5/lb
Cateto Polenta $6/lb
Whole: $6/lb (range from 4-7lb)
Delicious Red Ranger Chickens
Whole chickens: $4.50/lb
Boneless/Skinless Breast: $10.50/lb
Hearts or Livers: $6/lb
Gizzards, Feet, Necks, and Stock Making Packs: $3/lb
Hickory King Cornmeal
Winter Squash: Seminole, Fortuna, or Thai Kang Kob
Medley of Root Vegetables: turnip, rutabaga, winter radish, parsnip, celeriac, carrot, beet, & fennel
Swiss Chard or Tuscan Kale
Arugula or Lettuce & Escarole
Well our Community Supported Agriculture shares are sadly coming to an end for this season. It seems fitting as the weather has finally embraced the change to Winter. At the same time we still have so many crops growing and flourishing, ready to be harvested for the holiday season ahead of us and its many gatherings and events focused on food. At Tomten Farm we continue growing and harvesting produce throughout the Winter, although at a slower pace than our regular season. We enjoy many of the crops that can flourish during this season; such as greens, chicories, and roots; which improve with cold nighttime temperatures, developing more sweetness and complexity. Please continue to support your local producers during the off-season months as many of us are still growing food stuffs and we want to continue to serve you.
In this week’s share we are excited to leave you all with storage crops, so you can continue using our vegetables through the holiday. We have included winter squash varieties that can be wonderful either in pie or bread as well as in soup or curries. We have come to appreciate the cooking from Camino, a restaurant in Oakland Ca. and have included a wonderful recipe using Asian style pumpkins in a salad with onion, yogurt, pomegranate, and almonds as another method of using your winter squash varieties. Although we do not currently have the spring onions that the recipe calls for, storage onions can be used in place of them. The share also includes our Hickory King coarse cornmeal. We are excited to give you all the first milling of this seasons corn. If you want to store it away for later in Winter we encourage you to put it in the freezer, in a airtight bag or container. Please check out the assortment of recipes below for ideas with this week’s share. Thank you for joining us for this season, we look forward to another great one in 2017, but for now if you are in need of food, please contact us and we can get you our Winter schedule. Enjoy the share…..Autumn and Brian
Silky Coconut-Pumpkin Soup – Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffery Alford & Naomi Duguid
3-4 Shallots unpeeled
1 1/2 lbs of Pumpkin or Squash
2 cups canned Coconut milk2 cups Pork or Chicken Broth
1 cup loosely packed Cilantro
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 Tbls. Thai fish sauce
Generous grindings of Black Pepper
¼ cup minced Scallions
In a skillet or on a grill, dry roast the unpeeled shallots until softened and blackened. Peel, cut lengthwise and set aside. Peel the pumpkin and clean off any seeds. Cut into ½-inch cubes. You should have 41/2 – 5 cups cubed pumpkin. Place the coconut milk, broth, pumpkin cubes, shallots, and coriander leaves in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the salt and simmer over medium heat until the pumpkin is tender, about 10 minutes. **Stir in fish sauce and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Taste for salt and add a little more fish sauce if you wish. (The soup can be served immediately, but has even more flavor if left to stand for up to an hour. Reheat just before serving.) Serve from a large soup bowl or in individual bowls. Grind black pepper over generously, and, if you wish, garnish with a sprinkling of minced scallion greens. Leftovers freeze very well.
**At this point you can strain out about 1/3-1/2 the pumpkin cubes and blend just for a few seconds, return to the pot and the soup will have a slightly more creamy and emulsified texture.
Nicola or Desiree Potatoes
Our annual garlic planting happened today. For the last three years our work share members come out on the Sunday when daylight savings time ends and we plant garlic. It is always a relief to get it planted as it usually means this season is winding down while it also marks the first large planting for the coming season. It reminds us that our growing cycles are never complete but keep rolling along year after year. Today was a beautiful day and we had a great group out on the farm.
This is our second to last share of the season and there is still so much produce happening on the farm. We are being fooled with this warm weather, but soon enough a hard frost will come and with our shortening day lengths, the crop growth is slowing significantly everyday. We have had a wonderful season feeding you all, your families, and friends. We look forward to the coming season and fingers crossed delicious garlic too. Please check out some of the recipes below that come from cuisines from around the world. Enjoy the share….Autumn and Brian
Lusia or Brenta Precoce Radicchio
Canary Tongue or Panisse Lettuce
Broccoli Raab or Tuscan Kale
Beets & Turnips
Italian & Middle Eastern Eggplant
Pepper Mix (Friariello, Topepo, Cubanelle, Peppino, Corno, etc.)
Beet And Turnip Gratin (Make ½ the recipe in a 8” cast-iron pan)
Caponata with Fennel, Olives, & Raisins (adapted from Epicurious)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pounds unpeeled eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 cups coarsely chopped red bell peppers
2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh fennel bulb (about 1 small)
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons golden raisins
½ cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add eggplant, bell peppers, fennel, and garlic; sauté until eggplant is tender, about 10 minutes. Add olives and raisins, then mix in tomato sauce and vinegar. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer until caponata is thick and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes longer. Mix in parsley. Season caponata to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Serve at room temperature.