Sunday, August 21, 2016

Baby Cows!

I haven't written yet about the new member of the family since she was born about six weeks ago now.  Meet Juneberry the heifer calf.

Years ago this farm saw many a calf born each year when the Kratzke family (who we bought the farm from) ran a dairy operation.  But that was a long time ago now.  To the best of my knowledge this is the first calf born here since the 1970's....that's pretty exciting after such a long stretch.



In the box:

  • Japanese Eggplant 
  • Sweet Corn
  • Leeks '
  • Oranos Pepper and Anaheim: The orange one is sweet, the green anaheim is hot.  
  • Yellow Potatoes
  • Lemon Balm: Yes, this is the weed-looking thing on the top of the box.  Think of using in your lemonade or suntea - also nice laid over a baked chicken or fish.
  • Yellow Summer Sqush 
  • Mix of Tomatoes: The heirlooms are cracked and ugly-looking, but good for fresh eating.  I included a few romas, which are best for a sauce or cooking.  Types included German Pink (pink), Golden Rave (yellow roma), Margold (blush red/yellow), Green Zebra (green with stripes)
  • Watermelon: Some got a yellow variety, some an orange variety. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Veggie Treadmill

It all feels a little out of control this time of year.  Besides the CSA and my full-time dayjob, we just keep running to keep up with thre farm stands (one at Essentia in Detroit Lakes and Falls Baking Co in Fergus Falls plus the 24/7 one at then end our our driveway) and supplying the farmers market on Saturdays.  It's kind of constant harvesting.

From the outside it might seem kind of simple.  After all, many have experience gardening and that's pretty chill.  But once a person gets to packing 55 boxes a week with a whole mix of produce, it takes an investment of time and effort.  For the 47 boxes we packed this Friday, for example, this is how it happened:

  • Thursday evening: Maree, Ryan, and Kelsey picked yellow beans, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and pulled red onions (3 hours)
  • Friday Morning: Maree and Ryan pick corn, tomatoes, eggplant, carrots (4.5 hours).  
  • Friday Afternoon: Mix cherry tomatoes, wash produce and pack boxes (3 hours).  Ryan and Maree deliver boxes to members (2.5 hours each). 
  • After getting home, we start on farmers market (6 pm - 11:30)....wake up and go again.

In the box:
Silver King (white) and Trinity (bi-color) Corn
Red Onion 
Cucumber
Garlic 
Mix of Tomatoes (some heirloom, some slicers)
Cherry Tomatoes
Yellow Wax Beans
Carrots: Wow, this has not been my year on carrots....Maree and I scrounged around the bed for a few hours to get these.
Eggplant: Certainly this time of year ratatouille is great.  It uses eggplant and pretty much anything else you feel like adding in.  This recipe gives you the idea, but feel free to change with the produce you have on hand: http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/ratatouille



Saturday, August 06, 2016

We're in a Video

Earlier this summer we had one day's experience of reality TV stars when a camera crew followed us around the farm while we went about our business.  West Central Initiative is doing this regional marketing campaign about West Central Minnesota and wanted to have a farm featured which was incolved in local food production.  I think it turned out great.  Check it out:

 
Live Wide Open - Lida Farm from H2M on Vimeo.

Now that we're in August, we love how nice the fields look in the video.  In June the weeds were under control, whereas, today, you'd find a big mess.  We're also impressed with how these shots done with a drone make the farm look huge.  My overall impression is "Hey, that place is beautiful...I'd like to live there!....Oh, ya, I do."

In the box:
Sweet Corn: A mix of the Trinity bi-color which is coming in and the early yellow Sugarbuns which is going out of season.
Fennel: Green stalk thing on top of the box. Check out this recipe from the Spendid Table http://www.splendidtable.org/recipes/roasted-beet-fennel-and-citrus-salad  You will have to adjust a bit since there's a single fennel bulb.
Cucumber
Pepper
Satina Yellow Potatoes
Beets
Mixed Cherry Tomatoes
Mix of Regular Tomatoes: There's getting to be a fair amount of ripening out there. Everybody got some red tomatoes plus some yellow romas or orange blossom for some color.
Red Onion
Fresh Garlic 



Saturday, July 30, 2016

An Apprentice's View

I've been privileged to live and work out at Lida Farm for three years and I am still in awe every single day of the landscape, the critters, the veggies, and the family that call this place home. 

Most of our CSA members have had the opportunity to come out to the farm a time or two so you probably have an idea of what I'm taking about. 

With my 7 year old flip-phone, I try to capture some of those quiet moments where a person can feel the simple poetry of every day life.

I'm not able to catch even a quarter of them, but here are a few. - Kelsey Wulf, Lida Farm Apprentice 

Argo Surveying East
Bea's Kiss for Bruce Stringsteer

Misty Morning - Front Field

Pirate Pete the Cat in Milkhouse

Queen Bea

Kid's Treehouse

Kelsey and Bea the Milk Cow

In the box: 
  • Early Sweet Corn: The small yellow variety is Sugar Buns (I hate this name) and the bi-color is Trinity
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Sweet Onion
  • Green Beans 
  • Westlander Kale
  • Zucchini
  • Satina Yellow Potatoes
  • Basil: Please don't refrigerate basil...it's a sensitive herb and will go black.  Best to treat like a cut flower: trim bottom and put ends into vase with water.   
  • Fresh Oregano: Small bunch with band.  You can let dry on your counter for a 3-4 days to get dried oregano if you don't get to it.  


Friday, July 22, 2016

Beating the Heat in the Lakes

Man, it's been hot and stormy lately.  Every night I go to bed, I'm kind of anxious because it's become so common for about a 60 mph wind blow in yet another inch of rain or two or three.  What has the dewpoint been around here lately anyway?  80 degrees?
Thundercloud over Lake Lida
Our one saving grace lately has been the lake.  We're lucky to have a little public beach on Lake Crystal just  4 minutes from our house.  For the last two nights we did a few hours of farmwork just to get good and hot enough so the lake felt that much better.  It's an age-old tradition in farm life (at least around here), which, as I was talking to grain operator yesterday, is maybe becoming a rarity as most production is now done in an air-conditioned cab.  At least of few of us dirt farmer will carry on.
In the box:
Carrots
Norland Red Potatoes
Arugula: Oakleaf-shaped green with band
Red Torpedo Onion
Two Summer Squash
Two Peppers: Everybody got at least one purple pepper...some got one green and one purple.  The purples are a bit tricky since they taste like a green one.  I suggest using in a salad and not cooking as they loose their color when cooked.
Green Beans
Cauliflower


Bunch of arugula, washed, dried, and torn
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano

In a serving bowl, drizzle the arugula with the oil, squeeze in the lemon juice, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss until well mixed and taste for seasoning. Use a vegetable peeler to shave thin pieces of Parmigiano over the top.

Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence
© 2016 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Artisan?

ar·ti·san
ˈärdəzən/

noun
  1. a worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand.
    • (of food or drink) made in a traditional or non-mechanized way using high-quality ingredients.
      "local artisan cheeses"

This is now also one of the food industry's most abused marketing terms.  I read not too long ago about Tostitos introducing a line of "artisan" corn chips.  What?  Does Fritolay actually think there is any validity to this claim?  Do people buying them think so?  It all seems kind of silly. 

As one who actually fit the definition a lot of days, I sometimes wish I were a little less artisan.  I do walk out into a field with a broadfork in hand to dig carrots and wheel a Vermont Cart across a field to pull in cucumbers.  Sometimes my kids are by my side helping me...it's all very artisan.  Today, however, digging potatoes by hand, I really hated the whole experience.  With six inches of rain in the last week, this was a dreadful process, kind of like trying to fish heavy rocks out of wet cement.  

All told, however, I understand the desire to buy artisan in this very mass produced, plastic culture we live in.  Scale matters.  We actually do have some basic equipment such as a potato digger and undercutter we use (in much drier conditions) for harvest.  These are powerful implements which help us with the heaviest crops, but are also very small scale in comparison to typical farm equipment to suit our 6-foot wide beds.  

The power of small scale is all about quality.  A mechanized bean picker pulls in all beans of all sizes and snaps some in half in harvest.  It's 100 times faster, but when we pick by hand we can taste and sort out beans as we harvest into half-bushel baskets.  There is a difference in quality because of this attention to detail, so don't let some food conglomerate or big farm operation tell you otherwise and certainly don't let them pawn off their stuff as artisan.  

In the box: 
  • Artisan Norland Potatoes - yes, by hand today :)
  • Green Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Bunch of Beets: Check out recipe below
  • Alisa Craig Sweet Onion
  • Cucumber 
  • Summer Squash: Everybody should have one Zuccchini, but most also got a yellow straightneck summer squash (use the same as you would zucchini).
  • Green Leaf Lettuce or Red Butterhead Lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Fresh Mint
Borscht Salad 
From Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matix

Peel and grate 1/2 lb beets.  Make a vinaigrette with minced shallot or onion, 2 t Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup sour cream and some chopped or dry dill.  Add about 2 cups shredded cabbage and a chopped hard-boiled egg.  Toss with the beet, garnish with fresh parsley and season with salt and pepper as you see fit.  

Note: I really like this Bittman book for its veggie recipes.  This book is all about flexible cooking and changing up recipes to use the ingredients you have on hand.  Check it out.  

Friday, July 08, 2016

Rainbows and Peace

I had been moping around the farm for the past two weeks, kicking the dirt and complaining about the lack of rain.  As each day went by my blood pressure and stress went up just a little more.  Then, last night, a whole half inch fell from the sky.  I went and stuck my hand in the soil to find that it had soak inches into the ground, not just the surface.  I could hear a big sigh of relief from the plants as every bit was soaked into the hard, dry ground.  As incredible as the rain was, we were elated as my daughter ran in and told us to come outside and see the double rainbow.

All this happened about an hour before five police officers were killed in Dallas and a day after the fatal shooting in St. Paul.  Combine that with all the other turmoil we've been witnessing and I think we've all had heavy hearts as it feels like the world is on fire. I was taught long ago that the rainbow was God's promise to never flood the earth again, but it's also a symbol of peace and reconciliation.  In this time of growing tension, I think we need to remember that God cares for all his creation, both earth and people alike.  I want to see yesterday's rainbow as a sign of hope.  Just as he brought water to dry land he'll bring a hard rain down onto our troubles.  Our responsibility to remember that we're all brothers and sisters in this kingdom, not enemies.  Sorry for getting preachy...it's kind of on my mind. 

In the box: 
Napa Cabbage: Usually people aren't using a lot of Napa, so I put a recipe below.  It is also fine to use as a salad like a cole slaw or simply  
Broccoli
Frisee: Frilly small green.  This is good mixed into a salad with lettuce
Small Romaine: Some got green, some red
Beets 
'Hakurai' Salad Tunips: These look like white radishes, but they are much sweeter and tastier than any radish you'll find.  Slice and marinate as you would radishes to nibble alone or in a salad.  
Green Garlic: Use as you would dry garlic or let dry down on your kitchen counter. 
Fresh Thyme: Small bunch with red band 
Summer Squash: Use yellow summer squash or pattypan squash (flat ones) just as you would zuchhini.  Try zucchini fritter - grate together with some onion and eggs and cook in fry pan. 
Sweet Onion: Hey, it's about time I get an honest to goodness onion in the box. 

Stir-fried Pork and Peanuts
from Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix

Put 3 tablespoons neutral oil (like canola) in a large skillet over high heat.  Brown 8 oz ground pork in the oil before adding 1 tablespoon each minced garlic and fresh ginger.  Cook for 15 seconds.  Add about 1/4 - 1/2 of a napa cabbage (shredded).  Cook, stirring, until soft and slightly brown, 5 minutes.  Add a handful of peanuts and cook a few minutes more (until slightly toasted).  Turn off heat and stir in soy sauce to taste.