Exciting news. The first week of Summer 2013 is here! That's right, so please mark your calendars and watch for a few more emails from us. In the next few days you should expect emails specific to your registered pickup location and about vacation policy.
Please note, the first week tends to be crazy for everyone. My one request to everyone is to please come when the time is naturally convenient to you. In the past years there is a history of everyone showing up at the beginning of our pickup time...everyone racing to be the first one. For example, the Westlake stop is from 2:30 PM to 6:00 PM. I expect a line at 2:30 PM. If you can come at 4 or 5, you'll be much happier!
So on to this week's goodies. This year we are going to be off to a slow start. In fact, we are about 3 weeks behind last year! So this week's first bag will have a few pantry items and staples in it to get you started.
As for the growing season, we were on track for a normal year until last weekend's frost did some considerable damage to some of the early plants. In particular, the radishes we were expecting this week are not going to come for a few more weeks. They froze down to the actual radish and now have soft brown spots on the inside.
But on the bright side we do have some delicious cold hardy vegetables, like red Russian kale, broccoli, and lettuce. And right now I'm also expecting a good supply of strawberries from southern Holmes County.
But the real feature this week are our clucking friends, the laying hens and meat chickens. This week's center of the plate item is a whole, pasture-raised chicken. To many this is no surprise. I start each year with a whole chicken for a few reasons.
First, it is an excellent value. These birds weight approximately 5 lbs. If you get creative with your menu you can eat for a week off of this. Imagine boning out the chicken breasts. Each breast weighs about 14 oz. That's two servings per breast. Then separate the thigh and drumstick. Now the bird is up to 8 servings! Lastly, you can use the carcass to make stock or soup.
Oh, and if that sounds intimidating, just roast it. If you want to learn how to cut it up, please join us for our Chicken 101 Class (invite coming out Thursday). The course document from last year can be found here: http://freshforkmarket.com/2012/07/02/parker-cuts-up/
In addition to the meat chicken, we will also have a dozen brown eggs from our pasture raised laying hens.
For the large members this week, there are a few tasty treats. The first is
a custom pasta we had made by Ohio City Pasta using our locally foraged ramps (a wild garlic/onion cross) and locally farmed organic whole wheat flour. This is a wonderful egg pasta that should be lightly dressed and served to highlight the pasta. I tossed some this past weekend with some roasted red peppers, a little sunflower oil, and topped it with just a sprinkling of chevre. It was delicious (all of those other ingredients available at the back of the truck).
The large members will also be receiving some Italian sausage, made from our pasture raised Berkshire hogs.
Did your friends forget to sign up? Please ask them to email firstname.lastname@example.org to see when we can get them started. Depending on their pickup location, we may be able to accommodate them this week.
Summer Week 1:
1 whole pasture raised chicken, approx 5 lbs
1 head broccoli
1 head leaf lettuce
1 bunch red russian kale
1 quart strawberries
1 lb black turtle beans
1 dozen pasture raised eggs
Small package plus:
1 lb ramp linguine
1/3 lb pea tendrils (tender leaves of young pea plants...great for salad, sandwich, or to dress a stir fry)
1 package Italian sausage
1 bunch spinach (approx 1/2 lb)
Maybe: 1 bunch rhubarb (I haven't received my snail mail back yet...if not, probably next week to match some upcoming pork chops :))
Vegetarian Substitutions (in place of chicken)
Luna Burgers (all Ohio ingredient, vegan veggie patties in assorted flavors)
Pea Tendrils (the tender leaves off of pea plants)
1 lb Pinto Beans
1 piece Mayfield Road Creamery Siberian Night Cheese (beer washed tomme)
Vegan Substitutions (in place of cheese in Vegetarian share)
Pepper Butter (a homemade mustard of hot hungarian peppers, honey, vinegar, and spices)
More Technical Info
So anyone who knows me knows that I like to nerd out about our products. However, not everyone cares! I'll try to put some technical info at the bottom of future emails when it is relevant.
Pasture raised. Why do we use that term? Why not free range? Well, free range simply lacks meaning. Further, it is not regulated and each producer has his own twist on what it means. For some, free range simply means the ability to move around freely, inside or outside. For others, it means that the chickens do have access to go outside, but it doesn't mean that they get to forage in the grass. They may simply be on a concrete slab.
We use the term pasture raised because it does have more meaning. Pasture raised means that the animal lives its entire life on a grassy pasture. That means that the chickens don't get an "all vegetarian" diet. In fact, we want them to eat the bugs and worms and insects in the soil. We want them to eat the seeds and blades of grass. We want them to eat damaged produce. These are all ways to reduce our feed costs (which continue to climb at an alarming rate).
Our birds, both meat birds and laying hens, live their entire lives outside. The laying hens do have a mobile coup that they rest in at night and lay their eggs. The meat chickens live in mobile pens called "chicken tractors." These ensure that the birds spend all their time outside and that they are moved to a fresh piece of grass each day. This is a grazing technique that is good for the birds and for the pasture.
Most importantly, this production method produces a healthier, tastier bird. These birds spend about 9 weeks on grass, which is about 2 weeks longer than most commercial birds. This means slower growth and more muscle tone. You might even notice the slightly yellowish tint to the meat of our birds or the deep yellow hue of the egg yolk. That is from the grass!