This week begins week 1 of our winter program. Last Saturday's sleet, blowing sideways at 20 mph, and 37 degree temperatures aptly marked the last pickup of our "summer" season. My staff had a sad realization of what is to come during our winter deliveries!
This week, I'm sending this e-mail to all subscribed Winter customers and Summer 2014 Customers. If you have subscribed to Winter 2014-15, you should receive a separate email about your specific pickup location - when, where, and pickup details.
If you have not yet subscribed for winter, IT IS NOT TOO LATE. Every year we get a bunch of last minute folks so this week I have 100 extra shares ordered and available for first come first serve. To reserve one of these, either reply to this email (stating your pickup location) or register for a winter share at http://csalogin.freshforkmarket.com.
Finally, as a reminder the winter program is weekly for the first three weeks, then we go to every-other-week deliveries until Mid-May. A full delivery schedule, pickup locations, pricing details, and samples of winter bags can be found here: Winter Share Details
This week we are featuring a whole chicken. I start every season off with a whole chicken because I'm convinced it is the most versatile protein and best value that we can offer our customers. It is also a great way to educate. Each bird has two chicken breasts, two chicken tenders, two thighs, two drumsticks, two whole wings (4 pieces), and plenty of backbone and meat for soups and stock. It's a tremendous value!
In June each year, we teach a popular class titled Chicken 101. It is a hands-on workshop about how to quarter up, debone, and prepare chicken. For those who didn't attend, here are some links to help you:
Chicken 101 Recipe Guide
Cutting a Chicken (Page 56-57)
As November comes to a close, we will finish harvesting all of our chickens for our winter inventory. Our chickens are "pasture raised," which means they live outside all of their lives. Part of the benefit here is that they receive s significant portion of their diet from the bugs, seeds, and grass they eat on pasture (the rest of their diet is non-gmo grain mixture). However, when the snow flies and ground freezes it is difficult for the birds to receive this nourishment. Furthermore, they spend lots of energy staying warm and they don't gain wait.
As a result, all of our poultry is harvested by the first of December. Other livestock, however, is more hardy. Below is a photo of some of our hogs last winter dining on turnips as the snow begins to fly. The hogs live outside all year long. They have a hut (like a giant doghouse) that they will pile into and keep each other warm. Think snuggling pigs. During the day they enjoy going outside and rooting around. We plant the turnips so that they have something to root up in the winter. For the hogs, the turnips are food. For us, they are helping to turn the soil and work their manure into the soil. It's a win win for pasture management.
Beef cattle are also quite hardy. While we try to finish most of our beef in the fall (for the same reason as the chickens, they spend a lot of energy staying warm), the beef can live outside all winter and even calve in the cold. They enjoy high energy hay blends in the winter to help them put on weight.
While there are windbreaks built to allow the cattle some protection from the elements, they tend to enjoy being out in the middle of the field despite the temperature. Last year we had one cow freshen (drop her calf) in the middle of February. We felt so bad for the little calf but he did just fine and he should be finishing out nicely by next summer.
This month we are busy harvesting Berkshire hogs and Angus beef to stock up for our winter shares. The butcher, Galen at Newswangers, has been working overtime to accommodate all our livestock (and our customer's insatiable demand for bacon!). This is all in the midst of deer season when he is already busy processing hunters' deer. When it rains it pours!
Carrots and Fall Root Crops.
This is my favorite time of the year for root crops. Radishes, carrots, turnips, and rhutabagas are so good this time of the year. The most noticeable difference is in carrots. Summer carrots sometimes have a bitter note. Not fall and winter carrots. The carrots are kept in the ground as long as possible and the crop produces sugars to prevent from freezing. You'll taste the difference!
Many of our winter storage crops aren't event harvested yet. Farmers like David Yoder in Homerville will actually cover their rows with straw or row-covers and wait to dig the turnips, beets, and rhutabagas until the ground is just about to freeze. While the plant effectively quits growing, it continues to develop sugars and the root stores better in the ground than in the root cellar. I've spent a few cold winter days in the past helping David pull turnips or cut kale in a foot of snow to fill some last minute orders! It might sound strange, but it can be fun. Here's a photo from a late night pickup at David's farm last Christmas..thank goodness for 4x4 with the snow almost bumper deep.
1 whole Chicken, approx 5#
Parsley, 1 bunch
Carrots x 2 bunch
collard greens, 1 bunch
watermelon radishes, 1 bunch
whole wheat flour, 2# bag
celery, 1 bunch
beets, 1 bunch
apple cider, 1/2 gallon
garlic, 1 bulb
broccoli, 1 head
Goldrush apples, quarter peck
Green Leaf Lettuce, 1 sleeve
|Easy Roast Chicken with Garlic Pan Sauce|
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup sunflower oil (or other light oil)
1 tablespoon butter
2 sprigs thyme (or a 1/2 tsp dry thyme)
2 sprigs rosemary
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 cup white wine or vermouth
The night before you're going to cook, remove the chicken from its packaging and pat it dry, and then leave the raw chicken in the fridge uncovered. This will give you extra crispy skin. About 45 minutes before cooking, take it out of the fridge to bring it to room temperature.
Heat the oven to 475 degrees F and put your dutch oven or heavy cast-iron pan inside to heat up. Make sure you're using a pan that can transfer from stove top to oven. Use paper towels to make sure the inside of the cavity and the outside of the chicken are dry. Drizzle a little oil inside and outside and rub it in, and season all over with salt and pepper.
Open the oven and transfer the chicken the heated up pan quickly, and then don't open the door for at least 45 minutes. Start to test for doneness every 5-8 minutes: the chicken is cooked when you pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a sharp knife, and the juices run clear, or when a meat thermometer inserted into the thicket part of the thigh reaches 160.) Transfer the chicken to a carving board, tent it with aluminum foil to retain some heat, and let it rest while you make the pan sauce. The temperature should rise another 5 degrees naturally.
Put a kettle on to boil some water. Put the chicken pan from the oven on the stovetop over medium-high heat, and add the butter to the pan drippings. When it melts, add the thyme, rosemary and garlic. Cook for about a minute, and then add wine and scrape up all the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Let this all cook down for 2 minutes, and then add a cup of boiling water, a little more salt, and let it reduce for another 5 minutes, whisking frequently.
After the chicken has rested for 10 min, she is ready for carving. Serve with the sauce poured over top or with individual ramekins for dipping.
These are two workhorses of the kitchen. They are different cultural adaptations of the same basic concept: aromatic greens cooked long and slow as the flavor base to your braises and stews. If you want to steal a trick from professional kitchens, prepare a bunch of these and store in mason jars in your fridge or bagged in your freezer, so you always have some ready to go.
Mirepoix: this is the traditional French soup base, and is made from an even mixture of celery, onion and carrot. All chopped to the same relative size (1/4- 1/2" dice), and cooked in butter as the first step to any soup. Read more about it here, or check out Michael Pollan's Cooked from the library to learn more about braising and soups.
Suppengrün: this is the German version, which translates to "Soup Greens." Their variation uses leek or onion, celery root (a.k.a. celeriac), and carrot. There are two ways to use suppengrün: to make a liquid base for a soup, boil large chunks of each for a few hours, and then discard the spent vegetables. Add some parsley and salt and you have a simple veggie stock. Or, if you're preparing a meat dish or a braise, prep first: peel the celeriac, use only the white and light-green parts of the leek, and discard carrot tops. Chop all three veggies into a small dice, 1/2" dice, and saute in a fat (oil or butter), until aromatic.
2 tablespoons butter
2 slices bacon, chopped
2 cups suppengrun (all cut to 1/4 dice: 1 onion, 1-2 carrots, 1/2 peeled celery root bulb or a few stalks of celery)
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons flour
Herbs for bouqet garni: 10 sprigs each of parsley and fresh thyme, 2 bay leaves
1 lb split peas or lentils, rinsed and drained
1 smoked ham hock
7 cups water
Melt butter in a 6-qt heavy-bottomed pot. Cook bacon until crisp, transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Add in suppengrün (onion, carrot, and celery root), reduce heat to medium-low, season with about 1 tsp of salt and cook until soft, about 10 min. Sift flour over veggies, and toast for an additional 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, make your bouquet garni: using either cheesecloth or kitchen twine, make a small bundle of your herbs. Into the pot add the split peas, the ham hocks and the 7 cups of heated up water. Add in the bouquet garni, another teaspoon of salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the peas are tender (1 hour.)
Remove the pot from the heat, and discard the spent herb bundle. Transfer the hocks to separate plate or carving board, and let cool for a few minutes. Use an immersion blender to blend soup to desired consistency-- I like to take out about half of the soup and only puree the half still in the pot, then add back in the textured soup. Once the ham hocks are cool enough to handle, chop up the meat and discard the fat, skin and bones. Add the meat back to the soup, taste to adjust seasoning, and serve with reserved bacon sprinkled over top.
|Goldrush Apples |
This is personally my favorite apple. I've been waiting all season for this one to appear and Rich at Eshlemans usually makes this the last apple he picks. He says they are best developed when the nights get cold and often after the first frost.
I've bought up the entire harvest of this apple so you'll see it appear more throughout the winter. It stores quite well and the flavor even changes some after a month in controlled atmosphere (CA) storage.
I always describe this apple as intensely tart and intensely sweet. It's like biting into a lemon then dumping a packet of sugar on your tongue!