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Getting Close to Greenhouse Time

Happy Monday! It’s not so bad when the temperatures are getting milder. This Wednesday when I deliver, I’m not going to even stress about your veggies and fruits freezing- hooray! Thursday is set to be a little cooler, so please do plan to pick up your fruit and veggies soon after delivery.

The new greenhouse is really coming together. We have walls now, are in process for the roof and electrical. From there we will do heating and irrigation and we can finally begin seeding in there! Looks like the weather is being cooperative. We start seeding when the bitter cold nights warm up into minus single digit lows and we are getting some positive highs and sun! Sun is key, especially since we can add and retain heat to make good growing conditions. We had originally hoped for plexiglass walls but due to the investment being pretty astronomical, we went with 2 layers of plastic instead, with an insulation layer of blown air in between. Did you know air was a good insulator? Here’s a cool experiment if you want to discover more about different insulators that you could do for a good home-schooling lesson.

Savour the Local Items

This week we had to take advantage of a few organic items from the U.S.A. With the lower yields caused mostly by labour shortages and the higher demand for local food that the pandemic brought us, local winter storage crops are running out much faster than in prior years. This will be the last week for beets and they can store quite a few weeks in your fridge so hang onto them a while even if you are sick of beets because they are the last of our crop, and they will do a beautiful job dyeing your Middle Eastern Pickled Turnips!

New Giveaway!

Did you catch the interview with Amanda of Elpida Cafe and Roastery featured in our newsletter? She really inspired us with the difference we can make just drinking our morning cups of coffee when we source from places that truly empower women workers across the globe. We are also introducing a new 1lb bag of their medium nicaragua blend and dark columbia blend for you serious coffee lovers at a great value. To launch this offering and highlight the Elpida roastery we are giving away a free 1/2 bag of coffee! All you have to do is order any of the coffees from Elpida listed on our website and you will be automatically entered to win a free bag for a friend (one entry for each bag purchased)! (or to keep, I won’t judge). This is a small contest with just our winter farm share members so let’s just say your odds are pretty decent of winning. Either way, you’ll end up with some great coffee. Purchase some here.

Your veggies this week:

Regular Organic Winter Vegetable Baskets:

  • 4lbs yellow potatoes (Ontario organic)
  • 2lbs purple top turnip (Zephyr organics)
  • 1.5lbs Zephyr Organics red or golden beets
  • white mushrooms (Ontario organic)
  • 2lbs carrots (Quebec organic)
  • 1 greenhouse tomato (Quebec organic)
  • 1 head celery (U.S. organic)
  • 1 bunch broccoli (U.S. organic)

Large Organic Winter Vegetable Baskets:

  • 6lbs yellow potatoes (Ontario organic)
  • 2lbs purple top turnip (Zephyr organics)
  • 1.5lbs Zephyr Organics red or golden beets
  • white mushrooms (Ontario organic)
  • 2lbs carrots (Quebec organic)
  • 1 greenhouse tomato (Quebec organic)
  • 1 head celery (U.S. organic)
  • 1 bunch broccoli (U.S. organic)
  • 8oz baby spinach (U.S. organic)
  • 1.5lbs sweet potatoes (U.S. organic)

Fruit Shares

  • 1 organic pineapple
  • 1.5lbs organic blood oranges (red inside)
  • 2 organic mangoes
  • 1/2 pint organic blueberries or blackberries
  • 4 organic avocadoes

Middle Eastern Turnip Pickles!

Are you a fan of Middle Eastern food? Shawarma, falafel, tabouleh, hummus…I just can’t get enough and it’s quite nutritious as well. However, the surprisingly awesome thing about a nice Middle Eastern feast is the pickled turnips. With limited effort and a little patience, you could be enjoyed “turnip pickles” in a beautiful pink hue for weeks to come. The great thing is that you likely have most of these ingredients at home (especially after your farm share delivery): 2lbs turnip, 1 small red beet, 1 cup white vinegar, 3 cups water, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 bay leaves, 1/3 cup kosher salt and a glass jar with lid. Totally doable, right? Hope this recipe has you loving your Zephyr Organics turnip, along with the vitamin C, fibre, manganese and potassium that goes with it. Introduce some gut-healing bacteria through pickling it, and you are nourishing your body in all sorts of ways.

Broccoli 2 Ways

Broccoli Mushroom Stir Fry (Easy Vegan Dinner Option from cooktoria.com)

Get dinner on the table fast and feel good with this whole food dinner. Goes great with rice, quinoa or asian noodles or on its own.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed, avocado or olive oil
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1lb broccoli florets
  • 10 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds to garnish
  • optional: kick up the protein by topping with some roasted cashews

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, vinegar and sugar until sugar is dissolved.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium high. Add garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Add broccoli, mushrooms and water. Stir fry for 5-7 minutes or until veggies are cooked to your desired doneness.
  4. Add soy sauce mixture and cook for another minute. Top with sesame seeds and/or cashews to serve.

Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Bowties

Maybe it was the homemade East Side Marios-inspired dinner I cooked up for my husband on his birthday, but now he’s craving bowtie broccoli, which was one of their classic dishes. This recipe looks super easy and I think I can change up the sauce for my son with goat cheese and vegan mozzarella, and you can bet he will want it for lunch everyday! I like this recipe because it uses a small number of real ingredients. You could also add your mushrooms into this one and they would totally add! Just sautee them in garlic and butter first and they will be bursting with flavour!

I am going to leave you with an Irish blessing. It seems fitting as we have all faced a long year…and it’s only February.

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

the rains fall soft upon your fields and

until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

-Traditional Gaelic blessing
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Frosty but Fabulous

Brrr it’s been so cold, but at least that means if you are lucky enough to be near a pond they may offer some skating! We’re trying to have some fun to chase away those winter blues. Even if it’s a walk, especially at sunrise or sunset (they’ve been so stunning lately), it’s good to get outside, even if it’s brief.

Hello everyone! Today feels frosty but fabulous because I am very grateful to have my kids be able to attend school in person. Don’t worry, York Region and Toronto, you’re next. I care very much about the risk of the virus and want everyone to stay healthy and safe, but I have confidence that our school is taking every precaution to keep our kids safe and learning.

This Valentine’s day will look different for all of us! Without restaurants to take your sweetheart too, ordering take out from a favourite restaurant or cooking up something special from home fits the bill. Apparently doughnut bouquets are a thing now. Would one of those really say I love you to your loved one? I think if I could just make a doughnut my son could eat, that would be a gift. I’m pretty sure he hasn’t had one since the age of 2 due to numerous food sensitivities and he’s coming up on 10 now, so you do the math! I found this recipe I’d love to try for Vegan Gluten Free Baked Doughnuts. Have you ever made your own doughnuts? It sounds like fun.

Guess who also stays fabulous in the cold-ducks! They have indoor shelter but prefer outside, even dipping into that little “pond” of water for a swim. These are the same ducks that provide us with duck eggs. It’s nice to see someone enjoying the cold!

I am sorry but no doughnuts have been provided in your farm shares…but we can fix you up with some beautiful veggies to make your cold days a little warmer and tastier!

This week we get to enjoy the last of our golden beets for the season. Golden beets have a sweeter, less earthy taste but nutritional profile to red beets, which means a healthy dose of potassium and other nutrients that can lower blood pressure, support a healthy heart, prevent dementia and even improve athletic performance! (Maybe that’s Tom Brady’s secret- just kidding, i have not idea what he eats, but maybe we should find out ;). The point is, beets are pretty awesome, and while you could simply roast or boil them, here is another simple idea to mix it up: Roasted Golden Beets with Apple & Sage . The also juice beautifully, especially combined with some carrots or apples, or can be simply roasted like in this Honey Glazed Lemon Golden Beets . To top it off, the odd one is even shaped like a heart (sometimes the beet grows 2 sets of tops from the one root). If you are lucky you might find one in your bag!

One more simple idea for your rutabaga or really any veggie you are not sure what to do with: take a tip from fellow customer B:

“I tend to keep cooking simple and quick and, as mentioned, use béchamel sauce for a lot of things (approx. 1-2 tbsp margarine, 1-2 tbsp flour, cooked together for a couple of minutes, then add 1 cup or more of milk slowly and continue cooking, adding more milk if needed as it thickens). Add a sprinkling (about 1/2tsp) of grated nutmeg and a bit of salt. Into the sauce I add cooked, chopped spinach, or cubed, cooked turnips, or cooked endive, or pour it over cooked cauliflower. With added shredded old cheddar cheese melted in instead of nutmeg, it also makes a nice sauce for pasta.”

Now for the other items in your shares:

Regular Organic WInter Vegetable Shares

  • 4lbs yellow potatoes (Ontario organic)
  • 2lbs carrots (Quebec organic)
  • hothouse tomatoes (Quebec organic)
  • pint white mushrooms (Ontario organic)
  • 1.5lbs golden beets (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1lb watermelon radish (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1 cauliflower (US organic)
  • 1 bunch broccoli (US organic)
  • 1.5lbs rutabaga (Zephyr Organics)

Family Organic Winter Vegetable Shares

  • 6lbs yellow potatoes (Ontario organic)
  • 4lbs carrots (Quebec organic)
  • hothouse tomatoes (Quebec organic)
  • pint white mushrooms (Ontario organic)
  • 1.5lbs golden beets (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1lb watermelon radish (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1 cauliflower (US organic)
  • 1 bunch broccoli (US organic)
  • 1.5lbs rutabaga (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1 green cabbage (Ontario organic)

Organic Fruit Shares

  • 3 organic red grapefruits
  • 5-6 large organic kiwis USA organic
  • 1/2 pint USA organic blueberries
  • 3lbs BC organic ambrosia apples
  • 5-6 organic navel oranges

Stay bundled, stay safe…and if you are feeling down, cook something new!

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Harvesting in January?!

Never did I ever imagine it! I thought harvesting in December was pretty good, but with our uncharacteristically mild winter, the black kale (and a few red kale) are still looking good! My husband Doug, the farm’s day to day manager says that many varieties of kale are good to -15C! No one said they were still growing at those temperatures, but keeping firm and healthy- that they can do. But why should you care if you are not a farming geek like me? Lol it’s the health benefits, baby! Kale is a powerhouse for delivering cancer-fighting power, especially eaten raw. Just one cup of raw kale will serve you up 200% of your daily vitamin A, 600% of your vitamin K, and over 100% of your daily value of vitamin C, along with being a good source of calcium, magnesium and manganese (see some details here). Hungry yet? If you are not a weirdo like me that snacks on raw kale while harvesting or cooking, however do you get the goodness of this crucifer into you? Lucky for you the flavour is much sweeter this time of year thanks to all the frost.

If you want to get the maximum benefits, try this Black Kale Salad. Not a dairy eater? No worries, this salad is great with nutritional yeast in place of the parmesan, or go fancy and try a vegan parmesan. You might need to go to a natural grocer for this specialty item. I hear Trish at the Bar Cafe in Uxbridge. You could also do almond slices instead of the croutons to make it gluten-free, or just do gluten free croutons. The real plus with this salad is it being yummy for days and not going mushy like lettuce does when dressed. You could prep this salad once and have it handy to complement multiple meals. A key with kale salads is to massage the kale. Sounds weird, but it softens it up and adds the flavour of the dressing to each bite. Another way to enjoy the kale raw is to put a couple leaves in your favourite smoothie. Whip it up good and reap the benefits.

Maybe raw kale seems scary to you (it can actually be quite good). Black kale also cooks up beautifully. Just remove the leaves from the stems and chop them finely, adding them to soups, pastas or stir fries. They add some colour and a fantastic nutrient boost. You can also try this Italian Sausage and Kale Soup with Butternut Squash and Black Garlic. White beans also pair beautifully with kale in soups. I love how the kale keeps a little texture in soup instead of wilting away like spinach.

Looking for hearty soups to fill you up? Lots of ideas here. This one is Baba’s Borscht, which we shared in our last newsletter. You can still see the recipe at this link: http://mailchi.mp/df46b4e2b246/new-year-new-growth .

Another new to you item this week is purple top turnip. The ones we have for you this week grew big and beautiful, which actually makes them quite easy to work with. I simply cut mine in half and peeled the one half, cutting it into cubes. Then I peeled and cut about a pound of potatoes. I boiled them and mashed them together when tender, adding salt, pepper, vegan butter, and a little bit of garlic and coconut milk (you can use regular milk too). The kids enjoyed them as a more familiar menu item. Tip: don’t put in as much milk as you would with all potatoes as the turnip has more moisture of its own.

One more amazing Ontario item from our farm this week is Jerusalem Artichokes. The funny thing is, they are not really an artichoke at all but a tuber from the sunflower family. These roots that look a little like ginger grow all season long and are harvested after they bloom, in November. They are best cooked (easier to digest that way) and make a fabulous Cream of Jerusalem Artichoke Soup Recipe | . Otherwise, you can simply wash and slice them (no need to peel), and sauté them in butter or olive oil with a little garlic in a fry pan. They are tender-crisp when ready. They can also be roasted in the oven mixed with your other root veggies like carrots, beets, turnips, etc.

Here’s Your Full Veggie and Fruit Lineup for the Week:

Regular Organic Vegetable Shares

  • 4lbs Ontario organic russet potatoes
  • 2lbs Ontario organic rainbow carrots
  • 2lbs Zephyr Organics purple top turnip
  • 1lb Zephyr Organics Jerusalem artichokes
  • 1 Ontario/Zephyr Organics red cabbage
  • 2lbs Manitoba organic red onions
  • 1 Zephyr Organics bunch of black kale
  • 3 US Organic Romaine hearts

Family Sized Organic Vegetable Shares

  • 6lbs Ontario organic russet potatoes
  • 4lbs Ontario organic rainbow carrots
  • 2lbs Zephyr Organics purple top turnip
  • 1lb Zephyr Organics Jerusalem artichokes
  • 1 Ontario/Zephyr Organics red cabbage
  • 2lbs Manitoba organic red onions
  • 1 Zephyr Organics bunch of black kale
  • 3 US Organic Romaine hearts
  • 1 Ontario organic butternut squash

Fruit Shares

  • 3 organic red grapefruits
  • 2lbs giant satsuma mandarin oranges
  • 2lbs BC organic gala apples
  • 2lbs organic anjou pears
  • 1/2 pint organic blackberries

Hope you are inspired to enjoy all the local items the winter season brings us! Have a beautiful week!

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Back into Farm Shares: and the Juggling Begins :)

Happy New Year everyone! I am thankful for the break I had to be with my family and slow the pace down a little.

It sure was a different year this year with all the restrictions in place but I had a precious time with my closest family and we got our white Christmas (and my husband did not have to snow plough on Christmas morning), so I am so grateful for that!

Like us, I am sure many of you are navigating online learning with your kids. I feel like I have a new part-time job, and I know it’s not any easier for teachers. Once we figured out everything at home we had to move it all to the farm because my kids need to go somewhere while I work. Here I’m sending some love and grace out there to you other parents, and any teachers in the bunch, learning to juggle online schooling with your other responsibilities. Also, thank you to our essential workers getting the job done every day in an uncertain time. I salute you!

My favourite gift this year was a google nest given to me by my hubby. I’m sure it can do lots more things, but for now I’m making it play all the tunes that get me singing and dancing instead of getting stuck in ruts. Cleaning the kitchen and cooking up healthy foods has never been so fun!

It made me think of how empowering of a place that the kitchen can be. Yes, I really said that…but the kitchen feels empowering to me because though there is little I can control in the grand scheme of things, I can make simple choices there that help the people around me be healthier and happier. I feel empowered when I choose REAL, organic ingredients to cook with. I feel empowered when I know where my food is coming from. I feel empowered when I can educate my children in the process, or share my kitchen creations with a friend or family member that could use a lift. So, yes, while it might be hard to be the primary food prepper day in and day out, I am enjoying pumping up the music and peeling and chopping my way to better health and meals that bring us together (minus the lipstick and heels).

So, to the boxes! I had a customer tell me he would be interested to know what local items I could come up with in January, and I think you’ll really enjoy what we have to offer this week:

Regular Veggie Shares

  • 4lbs potatoes (Ontario organic)
  • 2lbs rainbow carrots (Ontario organic)
  • 1 green cabbage (Ontario organic)
  • 1 clam cremini mushrooms (Ontario organic)
  • 2lbs yellow Onions (Manitoba organic)
  • 2lbs beets (Zephyr Organics)
  • 2lbs rutabaga (Zephyr Organics)
  • 2lbs parsnips (Ontario Organic)
  • 1 cauliflower (us organic)
  • bag green kale (Zephyr Organics- will use alternate item if needed)

Wow, yes, there are really 10 items in this bin!!! The extra value is because we had an issue with a couple items on your last bin due to the extreme cold, and we 100 percent always want to give you our best! Hope you enjoy.

Large Veggies

  • 6lbs potatoes (Ontario organic)
  • 2lbs rainbow carrots (Ontario organic)
  • 1 green cabbage (Ontario organic)
  • 1 clam cremini mushrooms (Ontario organic)
  • 2lbs yellow Onions (Manitoba organic)
  • 2lbs beets (Zephyr Organics)
  • 2lbs rutabaga (Zephyr Organics)
  • 2lbs parsnips (Ontario Organic)
  • 1 cauliflower (us organic)
  • bag green kale (Zephyr Organics- will use alternate item if needed)
  • 1 clam salad mix (us organic)
  • 1 chinese cabbage or extra carrots)

Fruit Shares (all items certified organic)

  • 2lbs granny smith apples (BC organic)
  • 2lbs navel oranges
  • 5 lemons
  • 1/2 pint raspberries or blackberries
  • 1.5lbs kiwi

Recipes

Cabbage Roll Casserole

This recipe was a hit with the family! Word of advise- make sure you leave lots of time to cook it and check and make sure you have enough liquid in with the meat/rice mixture…I might have had a very had pan to clean after ;). I made it dairy free for my ds by using vegan cheese but otherwise made the recipe the same. I even used chinese cabbage because the savoy I had was not enough.

Here’s the recipe from Small Town Woman: Cabbage Roll Casserole (Deconstructed Cabbage Rolls) (smalltownwoman.com)

Kale Chips!

Not just a snack idea, friends. This was a great way to get my kids to eat the kale at dinnertime without the icky texture. Here’s a recipe for kale chips in the oven: Easy Oven Baked Kale Chips Using Coconut Oil – Vegan & GF (cleaneatingkitchen.com) . I used olive oil, a little apple cider vinegar and my Epicure smoky tomato nutritional yeast topper and they were delish! I had to stop myself from eating them all while the rest of supper cooked.

Morroccan Chickpea Stew

This one was easy enough in my instant pot that I made it for lunch. Even my meat-loving husband enjoyed it and never asked “where’s the meat?”. It would totally make a great dinner too. The spices are just so good. Veggies used included onion, carrot and kale (used in place of spinach). I actually like kale better in soups because it retains a little texture.

Try the easy recipe here: Instant Pot Moroccan Chickpea Stew | Simply Happy Foodie

Bonus Kale Idea: Goes Great on pizza. This pizza with homemade crust was down right indulgent! I started with a whole wheat pizza crust for us and a gluten free vegan one for my son, added tomato paste for the sauce, put some finely chopped kale (from my freezer stash) both below and on top of the cheese, added cheese and sauteed sausage and pepperoni and goat cheese crumbles, and nom nom! The kale on top was my fave because it crisped up like kale chips.

On my menu this week I also have instant pot beef stew with potatoes, carrots, rutabaga and parsnips, Roasted sweet garlic chicken and vegetables (used my beets here), chicken and cauliflower casserole with creamy mushroom sauce, and fish with rutabaga fries.

Now it’s your turn. What will you create with your local, organic bounty?

Here are a couple photos of some of our winter fun. Hope you have been getting creative and getting outside 🙂

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Staying Grounded in Tough Times

As I write this, friends, York Region is joining Toronto in a lockdown. This means that most of our Farm Share members are currently in a lockdown, right before the holidays. This is tough, especially for the small business owners. Those that have found a way to make curbside pickup work- please think of them as you plan for the holidays. You could be someone’s Christmas miracle! I hope you have found a way to bless someone. Sometimes unexpected gifts are the best ones. Is there someone you know that is truly alone during this lockdown? They might not have any kids coming over or even a job to go to (seriously, it’s nice to have a way out of the house now and then ;). Even the smallest gift can mean so very much. I am looking forward to having the kids home and doing some simple Christmas baking! I think I’m not the only once since the grocery store was sold out of baking powder! Lucky for me (and maybe you too!), I don’t have to cancel all my baking plans because baking powder can be made at home using 3 simple ingredients. Here’s the recipe. I found the cream of tartar in with the spices at the grocery store. In my experience, the best way to get out of a rut is through gratitude (actually writing it down or taking pictures of things that make you grateful without that leading to an hour on social media as you post it- lol) and looking outward. If you are feeling low or lonely, chances are someone else is in that spot too. Just a simple phone call with a real live human will give you both a boost, provided of course you keep it positive. It could just be simply. “Hey, I was thinking of you. I’m glad we’re friends.” Calls like that are gold! If worse comes to worse and they can’t pick up, you could leave them a little voicemail pick me up. And of course, there are always little gifts…handmade is even better!

This week I tried making cheesecake bites for the first time. I was going to make cheesecake, but had no idea that people use $15 worth of cream cheese to make a whole cheesecake (like 4 bricks…wow!). Since I had only one extra brick of cream cheese, and had no desire to eat a whole cheesecake among the 4 of us who can eat such things, I discovered this Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites Recipe! It would be a great addition to your holiday menu, or just because, and it is sized just right for those smaller gatherings we are expecting this year. Plus, if you have a pumpkin from us that is just not vibing with your winter decor, this is the right time to eat it up. I used a small pumpkin (probably about 2lbs), which yielded me 1 and a half cups pumpkin puree. This left me a whole cup after making the cheesecake which I used the very next day in pancakes. I just added them to this recipe, which I love- it’s a great gluten-free & vegan pancake recipe that always seems to turn out, and the addition of pumpkin and cinnamon (and let’s be honest, a few chocolate chips too), just took it up a notch. Please note, I reduced the coconut milk a little as the pumpkin puree added a moisture of its own (maybe about 1/2 cup less milk). Another note, if you get a big pie pumpkin leaving you more puree than you know what to do with, pour the puree into muffin tins and freeze. Then, run a little hot water over the underside (keeping the pumpkin pucks dry), and they will just pop out and can go right into a ziploc in the freezer for future recipes. Note: you might want to do this over a bowl or clean sink, in case they “pop” out when you least expect it ;).

Get the recipe for Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes here.

I’ve got to follow my own advice here and say a big thank you- you have been such solid supporters of our farm that we have reached capacity yet again. I want to serve everyone up our organic produce and eggs, but the reality is I can’t. I would rather serve a smaller number well than a larger number just so-so. But I am so thankful that on top of the pandemic, lack of childcare and activities, labour shortages, record-breaking pests and high heat and drought, I did not have to chase down customers. You came and you came with gratitude, and I am so very grateful! Please keep us in the loop if there is anything we can do to serve you better. A simple idea I had was to provide a couple extra stocking stuffers/teacher/neighbour gift options. Spark’s Honey Co (right in Mount Albert) makes some beautiful body care products like the Winter Salve (nice rich moisturizing that works well even with sensitive skin) and Peppermint Lip Balm made with their own beeswax. I can take orders up until 4pm tomorrow for delivery, or if you miss the deadline but don’t mind the drive, we can also arrange pick up. Just trying to make your life easier with the in-store shopping coming to a halt for many of you. Don’t forget that coffee is probably the gift teachers most need this year (Am I right!?) and we have some lovely maples syrup, honey and mango preserves as well. Simple email me and send an etransfer to [email protected] if ordered through the website gives you trouble. 🙂

What’s in your bins this week:

Regular Winter Veggie Shares (all items certified organic)

  • 4lbs yellow potatoes (Pennings, Ontario)

2lbs sweet potatoes (Norfolk, Ontario- last of the season!)

1 red or savoy cabbage (Zephyr Organics- last of the season)

  • 2lbs carrots (Pfennings Ontario)

2lbs red beets (Zephyr Organics)

1lb yellow onions (Zephyr/Ontario organic)

1 squash (pepper or pie pumpkin- last of the season)

1lb vine tomatoes (Ontario greenhouse)

1 8oz spring mix (US organic)

Large Veggie Shares (same as above but with the addition of…)

Extra 2lbs potatoes

extra 2lbs carrots

Extra 1lb onions

1 english cucumber (Ontario organic)

Fruit Shares

1 pineapple (Organic)

1 Cantaloupe (Organic)

2lbs clementines (Organic)

2 x 1/2 pint blueberries (organic)

2.5lbs BC organic Gala apples

In conclusion friends, I hope you have a beautiful holiday season, whether you celebrate Christmas, or Hannukah or just enjoy taking a break with your close family, enjoying the natural wonders (look up to the sky over the next few night to see the Geminids meteor shower and then again on Dec 21st to see Jupiter and Saturn align in the sky and make a “Christmas Star”. These are rare and special events to behold. Lots of neighborhoods have beautiful light displays to drive or walk through. Holiday tunes can boost your moods…baking, especially with a buddy or to give as a gift, getting off social media and making a real live phone call or having a zoom meeting (online video conversation hosting site). Freeze your butt off and make a snowman or sled down a hill. Who cares if you are a grown-up – grown-ups need fun too! We’re not going to be shut in forever folks. We still have much to be grateful for. Help a friend get through this too. We can still have a beautiful Holiday Season together. All we need is love. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Engs and those few brave souls still working on these chilly days!

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Here comes December!

Can you believe that December is here? Normally I am wishing away November, as it is the greyest month of the whole year, but this year was totally different- we got actual sunshine! Even on Sunday, I forced my kiddos to go outside. “Soak up all the vitamin D while you can!” I told them. Seriously I am so thankful for that little bit of sunshine. Now on the farm we are slowly saying goodbye to all the migrant workers. Only 2 will remain after tomorrow, and we are so happy to send them home healthy to their families. I tell them often, “We could seriously not do this without you!”. Our workers make a huge sacrifice spending a long time away from their homes to earn a good living for their families and feed us Canadians both on our farm and virtually industry-wide. So if you ate today, thank a farmer, yes, but also thank a migrant worker!

Tonight after a busy day preparing your share boxes on the farm, I served tacos (“a-crap-it’s-dinner-time-and-I-haven’t starting-cooking-yet”) favourite around our house. I kept it pretty simple aside from adding some grated celery root to my taco meat mix (I get those extra vitamins in where I can, folks). I find with kids, you never know whether you will have a tweety bird to dinner or a velociraptor. Tonight we had the velociraptor, so my portion wasn’t quite as robust as I would have liked. Enter a good-ol night snack of mango salsa and tortilla chips. We have our own mango salsa made right on the farm with organic mangos. It’s sweet and a little tangy, and you can tickle your sweet and salty tastebuds all at once when you pair it with some tortilla chips!

Being home a little more for me means lots more cooking and baking from scratch! I made up this chicken soup I am calling Rainbow Chicken Soup ’cause check out the beautiful rainbow of in season organic veggies it contains! I used a spent hen (laying hen that’s not laying well anymore) to make the stock and provide the soup with ample meat, but you could simply used leftover chicken bones and add some meat after if you like. I like to keep bones leftover from roast chickens or even chicken legs in the freezer until I have enough to fill my instant pot. It’s nice not to waste the bones as they contain so many nutrients, especially for your gut health, like L-glutamine, which helps repair your intestinal walls! Now aren’t you hungry after hearing that?! lol ok so it sounds weird, but it is good for you friends. Of course this soup gets knocked up about 100 levels with the addition of carrots, celery root, savoy cabbage, watermelon radish and baby bokchoy. See Recipe below.

Your Farm Shares This Week:

Regular Organic Veggie Shares:

  • 4lbs red potatoes (Downey Farms, Ontario organic)
  • 1 bunch or 2lbs organic carrots (Zephyr organic or Pfennings organics, Ontario)
  • 1lb watermelon radish (Zephyr Organics)
  • Brussels sprouts or parsnips (Zephyr Organics/Pfennings)
  • 1 red or savoy cabbage (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1 pie pumpkin (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1lb baby bok choy (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1 bunch green kale (Zephyr Organics)
  • 2lbs rutabaga (Zephyr Organics) – not as bitter as turnip and works great as oven fries!

Family Sized Boxes Get everything above plus:

  • extra 2lbs potatoes
  • extra bunch or 1lb of carrots
  • 2lbs beets (Zephyr Organics)
  • both brussels sprouts and parsnips

Fruit Shares

  • 1 organic honey dew melon
  • 1 organic pineapple
  • 7 BC organic bartlett or anjou pears
  • 4 organic lemons
  • 1/2 pint organic raspberries

Rainbow Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 spent hen or bones/leftover meat from roast chicken
  • Water to fill instant pot or stock pot to fill line
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar (helps release the nutrients from the bones)
  • 1 small-medium red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, scrubbed clean and chopped
  • 1 cup watermelon radish, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup celery root, peeled and chopped
  • 1-1.5 cups savoy cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 head baby bokchoy
  • 1 cup gluten free rotini noodles (or noodle/rice of choice)
  • thyme, salt and pepper to taste
  • bay leaf (optional but adds great flavour)

Directions

  1. Lay chicken/bones in instant pot or stock pot so it lays beneath the fill line (I had to cut mine a little to get it to fit)
  2. Fill pot with water and 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar.
  3. Add thyme, salt, pepper and bay leaf if using.
  4. Add finely chopped onion and garlic, sauteeing first if you have the time.
  5. Bring water to the boil on your stove or set instant pot to seal and pressure cook for 40 mins. If cooking on the stove, I would at least simmer it for 2 hours before adding other ingredients (the longer the better for getting the nutrients out of the bones.)
  6. Carefully set the instant pot to quick release and wait until safe to open. Add celery root, watermelon radish, carrots and cabbage and pressure cook for 4 mins. If working on stovetop, add all vegetables except baby bok choy and let simmer until tender on stovetop.
  7. Do another careful quick release on the instant pot and when pressure is released, add noodles and baby bokchoy and cook on sautee until noodles are al dente (as per the package directions). I find especially gluten free noodles can continue to cook and get mushy in the hot soup, so cook them until just tender. On stovetop, simply add the noodles and baby bokchoy and cook till al dente.
  8. Taste and adjust seasoning, and enjoy! My family is a little cray-cray for garlic naan, so us gluten-eaters have some of that with our soup, and my ds who is gluten-free just had a little toast and butter (note to self, learn how to make vegan, gluten free naan!).

Savoy, Watermelon Radish and Carrot Coleslaw for 3-4

Ingredients

  • 3 cups finely chopped savoy cabbage (I find the savoy doesn’t do as well on the grater so I prefer to chop with a knife)
  • 1 cup grated watermelon radish
  • 1-2 large carrots
  • optional : 1 cup red cabbage
  • dressing: 1/4 cup italian salad dressing, 3 tbsp. mayonnaise, 1 tsp liquid honey, dash of salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Chop the cabbage, grate the watermelon radish and carrots, and add to mixing bowl (If you want to save dishes, pick a container with a lid for easy cleanup of leftovers).
  2. Mix dressing ingredients in a small bowl and toss in salad. Goes great with homemade chicken burgers (pictured) or fish. Tip: my kids are not into coleslaw yet- I offered them carrot sticks and watermelon radish sticks to snack on. While I haven’t sold them on the watermelon radish raw yet, I am giving them the chance to try something new and expand their repertoire, so that’s a win in my books :).

Looking for a recipe for those Brussels Sprouts that does not involve bacon? Try this recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Reduction. Even if you don’t have all the ingredients, this post gives you great tips on how to perfectly roast your sprouts, which most foodies will tell you is THE way to enjoy brussels sprouts. Enjoy!.

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Winter Shares Begin!

What a wonderful couple weeks this has been! I’ve slowed my pace a little, cleaned my house a lot, caught up on some paperwork and had some fun with my kids 🙂 A little time away (or at home in my case), truly does refresh the soul! Now I’m back on the farm and ready to serve you up local organic produce all winter long. The hens have been relocated to their new home at a friend’s barn. Between himself and his bird-loving girls, the hens are loving life and laying well. While the hens lay very consistent, large sized brown eggs, every so often you get an odd one (pictured below). Here you can see an egg that did not form and one so large that it had 2 eggs and looks like it belongs to a duck! It’s fun to observe the surprises along the way! You might get the odd “double yolker” in your eggs, that is, if I can fit it in the carton.

I am back to doing some more creative cooking and it feels good! This Stuffed Acorn Squash with Sausage, Spinach and Feta recipe totally had my girl declaring me the “best mommy ever” and rediscovering a love of squash. Mr. Eng and my eldest ate it up happily, but my youngest fell asleep before dinner and was unable to cast his vote (sometimes the day is just too exciting for a 3 year old).

Next up we tried an Autumn Harvest Bowl with Sweet Potato, Apples & Quinoa over a bed of spinach. I think the kids weren’t quite sure what to think- this is a little out of our ordinary lineup, but all left the table satisfied with a nutrient dense meal. I think next time I will try a different dressing than the tahini maple one (I enjoyed it but tahini can be a little bitter if you are not used to it), and customize each kid’s salad a little to their preferences. For now I just wanted them to try it! And try they did. We ask our kids to try everything, and this has helped them develop a wider palate.

Thirdly, I’d better throw in a recipe for the celery root! This funny looking root vegetable has celery’s great refreshing taste with a texture that really goes well with soups & stews. I even peel and dice it and add to my taco meat mix. It’s also tasty and crisp served raw in salads. So why eat the stuff? Aside from it being locally available throughout the fall and winter, it’s a great source of fibre, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and minerals while being low-carb. Want to try a very easy recipe? Simply peel off those gangly roots till you have a solid ball, dice, boil and mash to make Mashed Celery Root, just like you would with potatoes. I’d love to know what you think!

I’m also dying to try this Savoy Cabbage Casserole with my Savoy Cabbage.

Enough with the recipes, I know you want to know what to expect in your deliveries this week (or you would be happily ignoring your emails and staying off the blog!).

Regular Sized Organic Winter Vegetable Shares

  • 1 savoy cabbage (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1 pepper/acorn squash (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1 bunch carrots (Zephyr Organics)
  • 2lbs celery root (Zephyr Organics/Pfennings Organics- Ontario)
  • 3lbs Ontario sweet potatoes (Norfolk Organics)
  • 2lbs Ontario red onions
  • .4lb Ontario garlic
  • 1 bunch spinach (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1lb baby bokchoy (Zephyr Organics)

Family Sized Organic Winter Vegetable Shares

  • 1 savoy cabbage (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1 pepper/acorn squash (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1 bunch carrots (Zephyr Organics)
  • 2lbs celery root (Zephyr Organics/Pfennings Organics- Ontario)
  • 5lbs Ontario sweet potatoes (Norfolk Organics)
  • 2lbs Ontario red onions
  • .4lb Ontario garlic
  • 1 bunch spinach (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1lb baby bokchoy (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1 bunch golden beets
  • 1 bunch leeks
  • 1 savoy cabbage (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1 pepper/acorn squash (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1 bunch carrots (Zephyr Organics)
  • 2lbs celery root (Zephyr Organics/Pfennings Organics- Ontario)
  • 3lbs Ontario sweet potatoes (Norfolk Organics)
  • 2lbs Ontario red onions
  • .4lb Ontario garlic
  • 1 bunch spinach (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1lb baby bokchoy (Zephyr Organics)

Organic Fruit Shares

  • 1 organic watermelon
  • 2-3 large organic red grapefruits
  • 2lbs Canadian organic honeycrisp apples
  • 1lb organic strawberries
  • 4 organic avocadoes

Hope you enjoy!

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Final Week of Summer Farm Share 2020

The frame is almost complete (on the left).

We made it! A whole season of fresh from the farm, organic vegetables. From the crazy late frost to the the summer heat and drought, to the rainy and mild fall, it’s been a ride! Who could forget the staff shortages, endless disinfecting, and hunkering down to work brought on by the pandemic. But here we are- healthy, strong, (tired), but thankful for your support. That’s one thing I will fondly recall from this year. People really supported us and other local businesses. They really cared on a whole new level. Let’s hope that the lessons of the importance of family, savouring the simple things, and embracing local goods and services are not lost on us, even as one day, the pandemic is in the rearview mirror. We hope you enjoyed your local food adventure.

Now we at the farm are clearing out the fields of remaining produce, catching up on all the paperwork and household duties pushed aside from an unrelentingly busy year, and planning for the year ahead. We are also gearing up for winter shares. This year we added a family sized box to keep larger families satisfied with more organic produce all winter and spring long! Also on my to do list is getting our website re-made and making it much more user friendly for you all. In the mean time, you can check out our farm share offerings for winter and if you have any trouble, feel free to email me and we will register you manually.

The pictures at the top are of the new greenhouse we are building. It’s purpose is to provide an insulated growing space for vegetable seedlings and low-light crops like radish and baby bokchoy in the winter. I have hopes that we can carve out a little space for some winter farm share goodies too! But first things first- the building of it is quite the process.

A lot of people have been asking about eggs for winter. Thanks to a kind friend, the hens will have a great new sheltered home for winter and we will have eggs for sale. Instead of having egg shares, eggs will be an “extra” you can add on to your winter shares as I don’t know yet how the girls will lay in winter. I will email you the monday before your delivery, and you can message me if you would like eggs for that delivery. Don’t forget we will have raw honey, organic maple syrup, organic dry beans and organic ethical coffee to supply you with all winter long.

Now for the shares! New this week we have red cabbage. I have been waiting on this crop like forever! I’m so happy they finally formed heads before the ground starts to freeze. Have you tried German style red cabbage? You should. So good! It’s also gorgeous is salads, like this Ginger-Cashew Chicken Salad.

New to Brussels sprouts? The tastiest way is definitely to roast them. We left them on the stalk to show you how they grow! First, remove the sprouts from the stalks. Remove any yellow or holey leaves, and wash thoroughly. Then follow the directions in the link above. While you’re roasting things, why not roast your radishes too? It gives them a much milder flavour. You can also add other veggies with them for roasting like carrots, squash, potatoes, rutabaga and beets.

This is also the last weekend for our farm store! Great deals on jack-o-lanterns, squashes, carrots, leafy greens, beets, rutabaga, potatoes, onions and more at the farm store. Stock up for the weeks ahead!

Whole Shares: radish, carrots, brussels sprouts or broccoli, yellow onions, beets, potatoes, red cabbage, parsley, green leaf lettuce, black kale, rainbow swiss chard, rutabaga, baby bokchoy, pie pumkpin, pepper squash

We sure hope you enjoy your last baskets of the season. Many, many thanks!

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Summer 2020 Farm Share is coming to an end!

How can this be?! It seemed like just yesterday I was out there harvesting asparagus on the daily to make sure each person received some to enjoy, or gazing out at fields of newly planted seedlings, dreaming about crops to come. It’s been a year of strange weather, and ups and downs, but overall, I’m totally calling this a good year! This year a lot more folks started looking locally for their foods and other needs. Did any of your purchasing habits change over these last months? Many of us realized that ferrying our kids everywhere and keeping our schedules full to the brim wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be- that being home with family was all that really mattered. Some of us struggled financially, struggled with losses and loneliness, worried over charts and numbers yet felt more thankful than ever for our good health. Here, we are, still in the midst of the pandemic, but still moving along- still caring for the kids and parents and neighbours, still trying to make the best of this ever-changing life. We hope taking part in Farm Share helped keep you healthy and grounded, and added a little adventure to your days at home (or on the go). This is week 21 or 22 of the summer season (the last week for those of you with a biweekly share that get a delivery this week). We hope you enjoy it, and are able to make it last a little. Pretty soon we’ll be into winter shares (starting Nov 18/19), where we keep you stocked with local, hearty and always organic veggies and fruits.

A new item this week is celery root, or celeriac. I will honestly say it is probably the ugliest veggie out there- a cluster of white roots all knotted together. It looks a lot like celery in the fields, but a darker green, and all the action is at the root. Celery root has a mild celery taste that is awesome roasted, in soups, or even mashed with or without potatoes. It’s full of fibre, potassium, magnesium, and even Vitamin K and you can eat it raw of cooked. Try this Underground Vegetable Salad which also features rutabaga and carrots. Feel free to use your lettuce instead of endive (it’s less bitter anyways). Speaking of which, this will likely be the last week for lettuce. It has actually been pretty awesome to have lettuce this close to the end of the season, as lettuce can only tolerate a bit of frost. Lettuce is still my go to when I am too tired to do serious cooking, but I need my veg! Whole shares also get cucumbers, which are a special treat as well in October. Try Celeriac and Garlic Mashed Potatoes if your typical mashed potatoes need an upgrade.

Another item we haven’t had in a while is chinese cabbage a.k.a. napa cabbage. I have already shared that chinese cabbage makes an amazing Asian-inspired salad raw with a peanut dressing and a fantastic stir fry with bacon and chow mein moodles, but it is truly awesome in soup as well! Try this Napa Cabbage and Bean Soup suitable for vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters alike, or simply chop it up and add it to your basic noodle or wonton soup for some added interest and health benefits.

We did something fun in the fruit shares this week- persimmons. Honestly, I have never tried them, so we’ll do this adventure together. You can make this Autumn Salad with Persimmons or simply slice them and sprinkle with a little cinnamon and enjoy as is. We are enjoying Hachiya Persimmons (originated in Japan) which are best when soft, like an over-ripe tomato. They happen to be a little on the exotic side and have the price to match, so we just get to try 2 each. Hope you enjoy this little adventure with me!

Whole Shares

  • 1lb russet potatoes
  • 1 bunch carrots
  • 1lb celery root
  • 1 head red or green leaf lettuce
  • bunch red beets
  • chinese cabbage
  • 1lb rutabaga
  • bunch green kale
  • butternut squash
  • yellow onions
  • cilantro
  • extra squash
  • bok choy
  • cucumbers
  • red and green leaf lettuce

Half Shares

  • 1lb russet potatoes
  • 1 bunch carrots
  • 1lb celery root
  • 1 head red or green leaf lettuce
  • bunch red beets
  • chinese cabbage
  • 1lb rutabaga
  • bunch green kale
  • butternut squash
  • yellow onions

Simply 6 Shares

  • 1lb russet potatoes
  • 1 bunch carrots
  • 1lb celery root
  • 1 head red or green leaf lettuce
  • bunch red beets
  • chinese cabbage

Fruit Shares

  • 1/2 pint blueberries
  • 2 hachiya persimmons
  • 5 BC sunrise apples
  • 3lbs bananas
  • 4-5 avocadoes
Doug fixing our roof at home

I just had to write a little something about the man you see above. While running the farm, driving tractors and trucks, managing and selling, he spends his weekends fixing out roof (with me too). He truly is fearless and gives 100 percent for our family. He probably would not be too impressed with me putting this up here, but too bad! Sometimes a girl just has to admire the fearless farmer in her life 🙂

We hope this last week (or second last week) has you filling you fridges and bellies with good things, and making lots of great moments along the way. Ciao for now!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you were able to stop and say thanks today. Thanks for the simple blessings of food and shelter, thanks for the people that make life sweet, and simply, thanks for life itself. Today was a late and busy day, so I’m keeping it simple on the blog today 🙂

Half Shares

  • savoy cabbage (makes awesome cabbage rolls because you don’t have to pre-cook the soft leaves)
  • red beets
  • rutabaga (try making these delish oven fries)
  • green onions
  • butternut squash
  • russet potatoes
  • sweet chili peppers
  • spinach
  • baby bokchoy
  • romaine lettuce

Whole Shares

  • savoy cabbage
  • red beets
  • rutabaga
  • green onions
  • butternut squash
  • russet potatoes
  • sweet chili peppers
  • spinach
  • baby bokchoy
  • romaine lettuce
  • pumpkin
  • cilantro
  • red leaf lettuce
  • red kale
  • celery

Simply 6

  • red beets
  • rutabaga
  • green onions
  • butternut squash
  • spinach
  • romaine lettuce

Fruit Shares

  • 6 honeycrisp apples
  • 6 bartlett pears
  • 4 oranges
  • cranberries or blueberries
  • ground cherries or lemons

Have a wonderful week!