This is week 2 of our Winter Season. As a reminder, we go three weeks consecutively then start our every-other-week schedule that will skip over Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we will have deliveries on New Years.
This week in celebration (well, reluctantly accepting) of the cold weather moving in, we will have some hearty, warm meal options, including soup using a fresh harvest of dried beans and smoked Berkshire ham hocks.
Thanksgiving is coming up!
Last night we had our 3rd Annual Thanksgiving Beer Dinner for nearly 90 guests at Market Garden Brewery. Chefs Parker and Adam really threw down! The food was fantastic and I think everyone went home stuffed.
We are working on finalizing the recipe guide from last night which we will share with all soon. Keep your eyes open for that.
In the meantime, don't forget to reserve your Thanksgiving turkey, pies, and/or package that includes produce for the sides, a bird, and pies!
Full details and package options here: http://freshforkmarket.com/thanksgiving/
Order online at http://csalogin.freshforkmarket.com
To order, you don't have to pay the full amount now. A $25 deposit is required to hold the turkey or package for you. Final payment will be due when you pickup your food.
This week's Spaghetti Squash.
This week's spaghetti squash is a good example of what we believe in. You will notice that many of them don't really look like spaghetti squash, or at least not like ripe squash.
Some are quite green or even green striped. What happened?
Well these are organic, "open pollinated" varieties. This means that the plant relies on bees and the wind to pollinate the flowers and create the fruit. In this case, the spaghetti squash cross-pollinated with a neighboring field of acorn squash.
It has the shape and flavor of spaghetti squash but has some of the color traits of acorn squash! Effectively, our farmer accidentally created a new variety!
Dried Organic Beans
If anyone has been to one of our cooking classes, you have likely had a dish made with dried beans. Parker and I are both big fans and we try to incorporate beans into as many classes as possible.
Historically, we have had black turtle beans and occasionally pinto beans. The supply hasn't been adequate for all the culinary needs we had!
So we spread the word last winter to numerous farmers advertising that we needed a lot of dried beans. Harvey on Hayes Road in Middlefield stepped up to the challenge. He thought he could grow quite a few beans since he was already growing yellow beans, purple filet beans, and dragon-tongue beans for our summer shares.
Harvey allocated a few acres to bean production and went to the drawing board to figure out how to harvest, clean, and package the beans. Somehow, through the grapevine, he got word of a century old bean thresher at an auction in New Jersey. He phoned a friend and asked him to bid for him. He purchased the worn out old thresher for $75 then spent $500 having it shipped back to Ohio.
The machine is quite simple. It is a conveyor belt that feeds the beans (pods still on the dried plant) into a box where wooden paddles beat the pods open. A fan blows the debris away and the beans fall into a shaker tray. The tray shakes them and the good ones fall down and into a bucket. It isn't fast, but it works.
After reconditioning the machine, Harvey bought the front end of a scrapped tractor and rebuilt the gas engine. It has a crank start (yea it's old) and he starts the engine by yanking on a leather belt attached to a pulley on the crankcase. The engine starts and turns the belt that powers the thresher! How simple and effective. Below is me feeding beans into the thresher.
While the threshing process will make you grin, the real important part of this operation is how Harvey grows the beans. He starts by focusing on the soil. Harvey and his brother John are respected area experts in organic and nutrient dense production. With the right soil they can create a plant with complete carbohydrates and proteins that resist disease issues, therefore not requiring pesticides.
The beans are grown and they look like any other green bean or fava bean growing in the field. They have a large pod with plump beans inside. As the plant matures it eventually dies off. Traditionally, a larger commercial grower would harvest the beans at full maturity and mechanically dry them in a factory in a kiln. Not only does Harvey not have this option, but we feel his traditional methods are better (and similar to the process for creating sprouted grains).
He allows the plants to die and the beans to dry into the field. His staff then goes through and harvests the beans and arranges them shocks in the field to dry further. They then take a wagon and a pitch fork and collect the beans by tossing them onto a wagon, that is then taken in to be threshed. Here is a photo of Parker helping out on the October day we helped.
We hope you enjoy this week's beans and we look forward to introducing more dried beans to you this winter, including the creamy and delicious cannellini bean.
Green Onion Brats
Carrots x 2 bunch
Red Leaf Lettuce
Broccoli, 1 head
Frozen Tomatoes (1 quart)
Apples, quarter peck
Yukon Gold Potatoes 3#
1 cup dried beans
½ cup each of diced onion, carrot and celery
1 bay leaf and ½ of dried thyme
Spread the beans on a tray. Pick out any broken pieces or pieces that look damaged. Shake the tray to look for pieces of bean shell or other impurities. Place the beans in a bowl and cover with water. The water should be 2 or 3 inches above the beans. Soak overnight or for 6 or 8 hours.
Strain the beans and rinse. Place the beans in the cooking pot, cover with water and bring to the boil. Boil for a couple of minutes and strain. Rinse the pan and add the rinsed beans and clean water. Bring to the boil again. Skim for a couple of minutes. Reduced the heat to medium and add all the other ingredients. Do not add salt until the beans for cooked.
Options: Add meat stock or vegetables stock. If you are using vegetable stock or water add a couple of teaspoons of tomato paste (for acid and body).
Cooking time will depend on the kind of pot and the heat. With this fresh harvest of beans, the beans will soak and cook very quickly.
Always keep the water just under the boil with an occasional bubbling. A hard boil causes the beans to burst. You will note that these beans cook in less time that most commercial beans. These beans are new, that is, they were harvested and hand shells this fall. Unlike most commercial beans, they were not artificially dried with heat to a low moisture content for long term storage.
When the beans are done, consider tossing cooked beans with a "soffritto" to really highlight the beans. To make the soffritto, start with equal parts (about a half cup each) of carrot, celery, and onion, diced. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, cook the veggies over very low heat in a couple tablespoons of oil. This should not be so low as to just sweat the vegetables but not so hot to brown or thoroughly cook the vegetables. Stir occasionally and cook to medium done. Combine the beans and soffrito together and serve the beans warm. At this point, you can also mix in some diced tomatoes or fresh herbs to your liking. Season with salt and pepper.
Note: Fully cooked beans can be frozen. When ready to use them, bring a portion out of the freezer and use in your dish. This will save you a lot of time. Instead of soaking and cooking beans each time you need them, just do the whole bag when you get them and freeze individual portions for later use.
This is a great dish to have in your arsenal for a crowd of hungry breakfast guests. It's really easy, it's a "kitchen sink" kind of dish where you can use almost anything in it, and you prep it the night before so all you do in the A.M. is pop it in the oven.
Unsalted butter (for the baking dish)
2 tbsp oil
1 # sausage (bulk or chopped links, try Green Onion Brats, Italian Sausage or Pork Sausage or turkey burgers chopped up)
4 shallots, diced
1 bunch chard, kale, or spinach- stems removed, and roughly chopped
"Your Choice Veggie": 2 cups cooked broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, spaghetti squash, etc.
8-12 eggs (see directions)
2 cups whole milk
Spices: 2 tsp dried mustard (or 1 tbsp dijon), 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp ground black pepper)
6 cups cubed stale bread (see directions)
Total of 2 cups grated cheese: Gruyère, Parm, pecorino
2 red peppers, thinly sliced (try to cut them into large circles, looks great)
Prep this dish the day before you plan to serve it. First, stale your bread. Cut up some old bread, the crustier the better, into roughly 2" (bite size) pieces. Let it sit out for a few hours, so it dries out and hardens-this will maintain its texture with all the egg filling.
Butter the inside of your baking dish- use a casserole or rectangular deep dish, at least 3 qts. In a chef's pan or deep skillet, heat up your oil and cook your sausage or ground turkey. Saute over medium high until cooked through (about 7-8 min.) Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Into the pan add in the shallots and a little salt, continue to cook over medium heat, until translucent but not burnt. Add in the greens and cook until just starting to wilt, no more than 2 min. Turn off the heat.
In a mixing bowl, crack in the eggs, add the milk, the spices and another 1/4 tsp salt and whisk together. Now you start to do your lasagna-style layering.
Bottom layer: dried out bread cubes. 2nd layer: half of the sausage. 3rd layer: half of "Your Choice Cooked Veggie"- broccoli, cauliflower or spaghetti squash. 4th layer: half the greens. 5th layer: half of the cheese. Repeat, and use up all the ingredients. Then, pour your egg-milk-spice mixture over top. If it doesn't cover all of the ingredients, whisk up some extra eggs, milk and salt n' pepper. Cover it tightly with saran-wrap and put in the fridge over night.
In the morning, take the strata out of the fridge half an hour before you plan to cook it. Heat up the oven to 350, and enjoy your coffee. Remove the plastic wrap, cover the top with your sliced red peppers, and pop it in the oven for 45 minutes, until it smells great, is golden on top, and the center isn't jiggly. Cool for 5 minutes, and breakfast is served. Goes great with a big salad with apples and lettuce.
Pasta Fagioli- or pasta and bean soup- is a great, budget-friendly meal that can handle a lot of ingredients, really whatever you have on hand. Add in some cauliflower florets or cooked squash for extra veggie portions
1.5 cups dried beans (kidney, navy or cranberry are all good)
2 tbsps sunflower or olive oil or butter
Mirepoix, 2 cups total: 1 onion, 2 ribs of celery, 2 carrots all medium dice
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 smoked ham hocks
4-6 cups stock
Herbs & Spices: 1/2 tsp each dried basil, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes; 1bay leaf
1 can, or 1/2 quart tomatoes with juice (if whole, rough chopped)
1/2 # macaroni (tubetti, ditali/ditalini, fusili, elbow....)
1 parmesan cheese rind, (keep the grated cheese for serving)
1 bunch roughly chopped mustard greens, chard, or kale
1/2 parsley, rough chopped
1 lemon, cut in half
Rinse beans, then soak overnight in cold water and drain. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot like a 6 qt dutch oven, heat up the butter to sauté your mirepoix veggies (the onions, carrots and celery) and garlic for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add in the dried spices and 1 tsp salt, and stir to coat the veggies evenly, cook for another minute. Add in the ham hock, and cover to steam for about 5-7 min. Add in the tomatoes with their juices, the beans, the stock (use enough to cover), the parmesan rind and the bay leaf. Let the whole pot simmer for 2 hours on low, or until the beans are tender. While the soup is simmering time, bring a separate pot of salted water to a boil, and cook then drain the macaroni.
Remove the soup pot from the heat, and discard bay leaf and parmesan rind. Remove ham hock to a carving board, pick off and shred the meat and put it back into the pot, discard the bones/gristle/fat. Taste to adjust the seasoning. If you like a thicker soup, remove half of the soup and puree it, then add it back in (or use an immersion blender to blend it partially), and then add in the cooked macaroni and the greens. Stir for a minute or two so the greens wilt, and then serve with parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice and healthy dose of grated parmesan on top.
yukon gold potatoes (as many as you think you may need)
4 tbsps sunflower or olive oil
Spices: try any combo of chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, mustard powder, and or garam masala. 1/4-1/2 tsp each
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Slice your potatoes into long wedges, cutting lengthwise through the whole potato. Put all the wedges into a large mixing bowl, and pour over the oil, your spices and the salt. Toss well with a big wooden spoon so all the fries are coated. Put potatoes on a large greased baking sheet in an even layer, and cook for 30 minutes or until brown and easily pierced with a fork- cook a little longer for crispier fries. Ever 10 min, toss and flip the potatoes around with your wooden spoon/spatula so they cook evenly, and don't stick to pan.
A great dipping sauce is a combo of mayonnaise and hot pepper butter, ratio 2:1 or 1:1. Try making your own mayo with the sunflower oil and eggs: whisk together 1 large egg yolk, 1.5 tsp fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp apple cider or white vinegar, and 1/4 tsp salt until it looks like a thin, yellow pudding. Have 3/4 cup of oil ready to go, separated into 1/4 cup and a 1/2 cup. Start dripping your 1/4 cup of oil into the eggs, a few drops at a time, whisking all the while for a few minutes until it's thick and creamy looking. Then add in the rest of the oil in a thin stream, and you might want to use an electric mixer, because you'll be whisking straight for about 8-10 min. Taste to adjust seasoning, let it cool in the fridge, and then add in your pepper butter for the dipping sauce.
This week we have a quart of frozen, diced heirloom tomatoes. Some will be all red, some will have shades of green and yellow mixed in.
This is one of my favorite winter products. Here are a few ideas for how to use the product.
Start with allowing it to thaw, then consider:
- using it to make a tomato soup or chili
- turn it into a tomato sauce. Cook the tomatoes with your favorite sauce sesaonings and blend in food blender. Use on pizza or pasta dishes.
- drain excess liquid (reserve to drink) and toss diced tomatoes with fresh pasta for a light meal
- spread the tomatoes out on an oiled cookie sheet. Bake at 200 degrees and allow to dry out. When the tomatoes are still moist but not wet, put them in the blender to make tomato paste. Use this as a base in gumbo, soups, sauces, or casseroles.