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Week 19 – Summer 2010

Hello everyone,

So, as the barometre drops, things are beginning to slow down on the farm. There are fewer and fewer late nights and many of our migrant workers are going home this week. It is a little saddening but at the same time the change in seasons is a truly wonderful thing about our great nation.

The farm does not shut down entirely in the winter. Those later months are spent preparing countless bags of beets and carrots and finding a home for the remaining cabbage and squash (they are stored in giant bins stacked up in our building).

But, there are still things being harvested out in the fields. I know a lot of you mentioned our broccoli was sometimes affected by worms (and that was after painstakingly picking through to find the best ones) but I think you will find the broccoli this week to be the best yet. Prehaps the frost is doing us a little favour in killing off the pests, because the broccoli really does look lovely this week.

Thanks to those who have already returned your survey – I really appreciate it. Remember, you can also return it on the last week after which I will be announcing the winner of the draw.  Only one week left – enjoy!

Best,

Jennifer

 

Half Share

  • brussels sprouts
  • eggplant or peppers
  • baby bok choy
  • beets (chowhound’s message thread on ways to cook beets, broccoli and cauliflower has some great tips and recipe suggestions)
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • green leaf lettuce
  • green onions
  • spinach or celery (celery soup)
  • squash

Whole Share

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Week 18 – Summer 2010

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I would have to say that mine was absolutely amazing!

This week I am sending you out some surveys so you can give us your feedback on many aspects of your experience with the Farm Share Program.  Your input is greatly appreciated and heavily relied upon for our planning for next year.

This year to make it fun, everyone who submits a survey by completing it online or returning the paper copy in their box next week or the week after (which, can you believe, is the last week) will automatically be entered into a draw to win a beautiful gift basket stocked with home preserves, seasonal baking and other goodies. Remember, we appreciate all surveys but only the ones with names identified can be entered into the draw.

A new mark of the season is upon us – the appearance of frost overnight. Obviously this means that many crops are phasing out but of course we will still find your 10 or 15 items until the end of the season. You may notice your romaine this week has a few brown spots from the frost but it is still fine to eat though it might require a little trimming. The red leaf lettuce found in the whole shares is very vibrant this week – it responds to the frost by deepening in colour. Also, this probably the last week for leeks, so make sure you enjoy them while they are here.

Your local farm connection,
Jennifer Eng

Half Share

  • leeks
  • carrots
  • beets
  • green onions
  • romaine lettuce
  • black kale
  • butternut squash
  • green cabbage
  • radishes
  • broccoli

Whole Share

  • leeks
  • carrots
  • beets
  • green onions
  • romaine lettuce
  • black kale
  • butternut squash
  • green cabbage
  • radishes
  • broccoli
  • green peppers
  • field tomatoes
  • red leaf lettuce
  • swiss chard
  • baby bokchoy

Here are a few tips from Reader’s Digest on freezing your veggies for those weeks when you just don’t quite get a chance to use everything right up.  Or, maybe you just want to save some of your delightful produce for later on when delivery has ended.

I am a fan of freezing the kale and then crunching the frozen pieces into all sorts of meals — soups, stir fry, lasagna, you name it!  I hope these are helpful to you too.  Have a great week friends!

~ heather

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Week 17 – Summer 2010

Hello everyone!

We are getting down to the last couple of weeks here and it is getting to be more of a challenge to inject some variety into your Farmshare boxes. However, just as many varieties of veggies are fading away, the brussels sprouts are just coming ready. I included a whole stalk in your box because they look so interesting on the plant. Before coming to the farm I had only ever seen brussels sprouts frozen in a bag. So, if you have kids, make sure they check out the plant for a little agriculture education.

Also, this week I added some pie pumpkins. Contrary to the name, there are lots of other things you can do with pumpkin that don’t involve pastry-making. I made pumpkin pancakes (recipe) the other day, my sister-in law made some delicious pumpkin muffins with bursts of cranberry (recipe) and you can also make squares or even first course items like soup. They are in the squash family after all.

I think I must be in the thanksgiving mood because I put an extra item in your boxes this week without realizing it. No wonder I has such difficulty closing them!

Anyways, I would love to offer you a wonderful Thanksgiving where I hope you enjoy your family and friends and of course good food alongside.  Remember, the farm store is open Fridays and Saturdays from 10-6 for your last-minute shopping (lots of squash, carrots, beets, pumpkins and even jams if you do Thanksgiving brunch).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jennifer

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Week 16 – Summer 2010

Hi Everyone!

I can’t believe it is already week 16 (only 4 weeks left after this one!). The fall colours are out in glorious display and even can be seen in colouring changes to some of the vegetable plant leaves.

Many Ontarians are surprised at how late the growing season goes here as some grocery stores are already switching to imported produce even though there is still so much coming out of the fields.

I am very glad to have spinach back this week and I am eager to experiment with a new type of squash – delicata.

You will notice in your box this week there are a few slow-cooker/soup staples and hope you enjoy the satisfaction of a cook-all day meal sometime this week.

Remember, any recipes you have found or created and enjoyed, please feel free to share with myself or our faithful blogger Heather, who you can contact by emailing her here.

Enjoy your week of culinary experiences!

Have a good one,
Jennifer Eng

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Week 15 – Summer 2010 (the soup edition)

Hello everyone,

I don’t have too many tidbits to share about the farm and veggies this week, but I can tell you this…

One is that the squash I gave you last week was a pepper/acorn squash not a delicata (sorry, I am learning my squash names).

I also have a tip from our Jamaican workers about this week’s squash – buttercup. They tell me this makes a traditional and delicious soup, so if you would like to get a taste of the Caribbean, why not find a recipe and get cooking!

Have a good one,
Jennifer


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You can can! (home canning tips and tricks)

As we shift seasons, and — dare I mention it — winter draws closer, it’s nice to plan ahead to save some of your delicious organics for when there’s snow on the ground.

Many people enjoy spending  a cool fall day (or two) doing some canning. The windows can be open, so even if your kitchen escapades heat up the house you have a lovely breeze coming through to cool you off.

Hopefully the overview below is informative and helpful to you in either getting started, or in giving canning another go if you’ve tried it before!

What do you need?

  • A canner (many people use a big pot and the boiling water method, though it is often recommended to get a pressure canner)
  • A canning rack (this is what you sit your jars on in the pot)
  • One or more funnels (for pouring your concoctions into the jars)
  • Jar lifter (very handy in order to get those jars in and out of the hot HOT water)
  • A jar wrench (to loosen the lids after canning — so you can eat your delicious concoctions!)
  • An assortment of jars, tops, and lids

Then what do I do?

Although the cooking times and packing instructions will vary depending on what you are making, there are some basic guidelines you’ll need to follow, no matter what you’re preserving.

1. Sterilization. You must sterilize your jars and lids by boiling them! (Carefully review each recipe to determine how and for how long to sterilize). Tops and lids should be used once and then you must use new ones the next time you can. Jars are okay to reuse as long as they are sound.

2. Hot Stuff.  What’s going into the jar must be HOT. The jars will be hot (you just sterilized them, good job!) and in most recipes the food itself should be bubbling hot on the stove when you go to put it into the jars. If the jars are being packed cold (like with pickles) the pickling liquid you’re using should be boiling hot.

3. Acidity. One of the keys to successful canning (read: safe to eat, no bacteria!) is to follow the recipe/directions closely. In addition to the temperature of both the ingredients and the hardware, the amount of acid in the recipe is key. It is VERY important to follow each recipe and use the exact amount of the exact ingredients and cook at the exact temperature for the exact length of time. Got it? EXACTLY! 🙂

4. Boiling Times. Your goal is to ensure that NO bacteria survive the canning process. Jars must seal tightly, there needs to be enough space remaining in the jar after you’ve filled it to ensure that the food has room to expand in the heat without pressing on the jar tops and lids (this can break the seal).   Your jars need to be properly sealed and boiled for the amount of time required (and in the method described in your recipe) in order to ensure they’ll be safe to consume when you are done.

5. Easy Does It — Cooling Off. Space out your finished product in a low traffic area so air can circulate around and cool off the jars. Keep out of cold breezes and most certainly do not put them into your fridge (or, for goodness sake, your freezer) to speed up the cooling process.  You don’t want to break any of the jars! Remember to tuck them away somewhere as they cool so no one gets burned on the hot containers.

6. “Pop”. Did you hear a popping noise as your jars cool and seal? If the tops do not curve in nicely, the seal hasn’t work, or hasn’t held. This becomes your ‘tester’ jar — keep it in the fridge and use it right away.

7. Storage. Store your delicious finished product in a cool, dry, dark place.  Canned goods make lovely hostess gifts, tie them up with a little ribbon and pop on a custom label (easy to make with labels you can get online or at craft or office supply stores).

8. Be Sure! If anything about your jar seems off, if the lid is bumped out, slightly askew or if you notice mold, bubbles, cloudiness, bad smells, or oddly discoloured food when you open a jar, don’t even think about trying it! Throw away the lids and seals, and dump out the contents.  You can reuse the jar without concern.

So those are some starter points –for more information, Eat Right Ontario has a great FAQ page about canning that will answer any questions a new canner might have.  Check it out for all the basics and tips to get you started. You might also want to visit About.com’s Canning Site.

If you like to have a book to work from, my research pointed me to one book over and over — Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.  And Ball also has a fantastic, informative website — pop over to learn everything you need to know about home preserving, they have a raft of recipes as well.

Good luck with your preserving — if you have a favourite recipe to share with us please post it as a comment or email me and I’d be happy to share it with everyone on the blog!

Cheers,

Heather

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Week 14 – Summer 2010

Hi everyone!

New this week is a new type of squash, delicato, and leeks, which are always amazing in soups and more.

I actually still remember this sweet lady who made potato leek soup for my family when we were all sick and that was half my life ago! So, leeks make me think of the kindness of others – sharing foods with others can be a small guesture that really makes a difference.

Hopefully my story was inspiring to someone, although some of you may not be inspired by the presence of zucchini again in your box. Well, can I encourage you to enjoy it once more or blanch and freeze it, because this should be the last week it is growing in the fields (how to blanch and free zucchini). I love zucchini as you can add some nutritional punch, texture and flavour to everyday favorites like italian dishes and tacos.

Also, this should be the end of the season for cucumber, so again I hope you enjoy the last of them.

The whole share boxes also received garlic this week (don’t worry, I will have some for all of you in later weeks) which I was shocked to learn is a very expensive item when Ontario grown and organic. Also, a visitor to the farm tried a clove on its own and was surprised by the potency of the flavour. So, you may need less cloves to get the same effect, or you could just enjoy the added flavour.

So, I hope you are all enjoying this new season (even though it is not yet officially here) and I thank the many of you that have given me your input – while I can’t make everyone’s ideal box every week, I sure can try to include various items that are requested, provided they are out there in the fields of course.

It has definately been a good growing year overall but I am sorry to say not a good one for our fruits. Our berry yields have been low and we have lost most of our melons to the local wildlife. However, we have had crops like broccoli which turned out very well this year despite being quite a challenge to grow organically due to pests. So thank you all for experiencing each week with me and standing behind the farm in all the ups and downs involved in agriculture.

Sincerely,
Jennifer

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Week 13 – Summer 2010 (the back to school edition)

Hello friends,

This week marks the beginning of squash season! Hopefully you enjoy all the variations that will come your way. Butternut squash is very simple to prepare (although it takes a long time to cook) and I enjoy pre-softening it in the microwave, peeling and cubing it, and adding a little butter, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to it before placing it in the oven, covered.

I also included some fresh basil in this week’s box because it is so fantastic with your tomatoes and zucchinis in sauces, bruchettas, and definately pastas (think pestos..mmm). Plus, basil is said to combat depression, so if you are feeling a little low with the recent dip in temperatures, add some flavour and cheer to your meal. Mind you, it smells no nice on its own that just smelling it can make you feel good!

I sincerely hope you are all having a wonderful back to school time (even if you don’t have kids to send back this year) and that you are enjoying all the tasty surprises found in your box this week.

Have a good one,
Jennifer 

Half Share

Whole Share

  • Bunch Basil
  • Broccoli (recipe for Broccoli soup)
  • Butternut Squash
  • Carrots
  • Green Kale
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Green Onions
  • Radish
  • Field Tomatoes (assorted)
  • Zucchini
  • Green Peppers
  • Grape or Saladette Tomatoes
  • Red Cabbage (recipe for red cabbage with apples)
  • Golden Beets
  • Cucumber or Eggplant
  • Red Leaf Lettuce
  • Strawberries (or substitute)
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Week 11 – Summer 2010

Hello everyone,

The nights sure have been cooling down lately and we can feel that we are getting to the end of summer. On the farm right now all of the seeding and planting is done – our focus now is on weeding the crops (much of which has to be done by hand) and harvesting the produce.

I have been trying to get you all some melons for your boxes but so far we are losing much of our crop to animals like groundhogs. That’s the difficult thing with organics – the animals find our food good to eat also! We will try our best to keep what we can and hopefully we will have a lot more next week.

Something we do have new this week is celery, which is just ready in the fields right now. I have tried to keep you informed about seasonal veggies by what I place in your box and by letting you know about things that are ready early because of the greenhouses. Most if not all of the leafy green vegetables are ready for almost the entire growing season in the fields.

Thanks again for your support of the farm and bon appetit!

Jennifer

(Quick note from Heather: I added in a few recipes that you might want to try, I made the spinach puffs and also the maple glazed carrots, they were both great! Also, I found a fantastic website that lets you add in what you have on hand and it gives you a selection of recipes you can make — visit supercook.com to check it out!)

Half Share
-broccoli (quick sauteed broccoli)
-spinach
-red leaf lettuce (leaf lettuce salad with honey dijon dressing)
-green leaf lettuce
-grape or saladette tomatoes (pasta with grape tomatoes)
-rainbow carrots
-green beans (potato and green bean salad)
-potatoes (new)
-sugar snap peas (quick ginger sugar snap peas)
-heirloom tomatoes
-celery (new)

Whole Share

-broccoli
-spinach (spinach and feta puff pastry bites)
-red leaf lettuce
-green leaf lettuce
-grape or saladette tomatoes
-rainbow carrots (maple glazed carrots — yum!)
-green beans
-potatoes (new)
-sugar snap peas
-heirloom tomatoes
-celery (new)
-cabbage (cabbage rolls, I add onions and green peppers!)
-yellow beans
-snow peas
-cauliflower (great recipe with almond, raisin and caper)
-green onions
-green peppers

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Week 10 – Summer 2010

Hello all, I hope this week has treated you well so far.

The weather is just a wee bit cooler and I’m sure you’re enjoying it as much as I am.

Your boxes are being filled with this week’s harvest and will be on their way to you shortly.

What can you expect this week?

Half Share
-romaine lettuce
-green peppers
-green & red onions
-assorted tomatoes
-cucumbers
-rainbow carrots
-garlic
-swiss chard
-green beans
-eggplant

Whole Share

-romaine lettuce
-green peppers
-green & red onions
-assorted tomatoes
-cucumbers
-rainbow carrots
-garlic
-swiss chard
-green beans
-eggplant
-fennel
-beets
-radish
-grape tomatoes
-melons

Enjoy your organics and let us know if you have any questions or suggestions for the blog.

More delicious recipes will be posted soon!