Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rhythm

The days are shorter, the garden is slowing. We are slowing too. We are a bit down with a cold, and trying to get things done in moderation. Next week is a big one on farm, our members are coming for a fresh chicken pick up. Many of them haven't been to the farm before. We are trying to finish our upstairs renovation so we can clean and use our garage more effectively for snack tables etc.

There is much to be done, while working on our bathroom last weekend we discovered a rather unpleasant water leak. We hope to have that fixed by this weekend. We need to finish the floors also, and finish the bedroom walls. The rhythm here is changing. I'm struggling to think about how our farm can grow and develop to allow us both to work full time, and be more efficient.

Now that the days are slightly less crammed with field work, we are evaluating the season. The chores are split now between the needs of the farmers (heat, securing up the old house) and prepping the business for winter (preserving, greenhouse work, and poultry).

This leaves little time for flu like colds so it's chicken soup, vitamin C and going to bed with the chickens ( 7:30) last night.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sour green tomato pickles

From the Ball Canning guide!

5lbs small, firm green tomatoes
1/4 cup canning salt
31/2 cups vinegar
31/2 cups water
6-7 cloves garlic
6-7 bay leaves

Wash and drain tomatoes. Core tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters. Combine salt, vinegar and water is a large sauce pot. Bring to a boil. Pack tomatoes into hot jars, leaving 1/4inch headspace. Add 1 clove garlic, an 1 bay leave to each jar. Ladle hot liquid over tomatoes leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust two piece cap. Process 15 min in a boiling water canner.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Slow Summer Fade

The rain is pounding down here, and I'm grateful. The summer is leaving her final brush strokes on the sky and field. Despite the intense heat, and the drought- we managed to pull through some amazing vegetables. We've never had a season where it felt like our crops just couldn't even begin to grow, but the last month or so has been rather redeeming. The tomato crop has been one of my favorites- the heirlooms we chose stretched a landscape of flavors. We had some super-sweets, tangy sours, mellow salad slicers and a huge crop of sauce varieties too. The zucchini and summer squash showed up late to party, but they brought their patty pan friends in spades when they arrived. Our brassicas were troopers, marching through the hot sun and keeping us nourished for many more weeks then expected. And oh, the kale! Red Russian kale, our hero- still producing bouquets by the dozen after a season of heavy picking. Stacking the member shares has been an exercise of tetris- the bounty is quickly outgrowing our delivery vehicle.

Now we must turn to our turnips, and cold weather squashes and dream of stews full of potatoes. We still have quite a few batches of meat birds, we'll be pushing the limits of weather but the mighty freedom-ranger birds do well in all kinds of heat and cold. We are looking forward to the few months of the year where the morning isn't so rushed with echos of peeping hungry mouths and the demands of keeping several hundred poultry dry, hydrated and full. For us, this won't happen until early November, but we can see it on the horizon. I love raising chickens, and eating them, but absence in this case does indeed make the heart grow fonder. I'm ready for a later start, a lower grain bill and a rest from the chore of processing. It wears on you, the process of turning live fowl to dinner. The work and responsibility both.

We are preparing for shifting of routines and chores. The smell of wood stove smoke, chipping ice out of sheep troughs, positioning heat lamps on rabbit kits are a few of the autumn's requirements. The greenhouse will need tending, keeping weeds at bay and acting as the weather gods- adjusting moisture and heat accordingly. With any luck, our holiday meals will include fresh salad greens along with home grown turkey and orange spiced cranberry sauce.

Our first summer on this farm has been the most wonderful and the most challenging. There have been moments where frustration has rose in great waves, near crushing volumes. But still, here we are- bringing good food to good people. The hard work has been rewarded in smiles and better equipment which will usher next summer in hopefully with slightly more grace. This is only one summer of many, and though I'm not rushing to next year- I am excited to see what comes. But first, we will savor the fall crops, and let the snow fall.

Welcome, Autumn.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fried Green Tomatoes- R'Eisen Shine Style

With frost warnings lurking overhead, we know the summer and tomato season is slowing way down. So we need to make use of all of those tomatoes doomed not to ripen! A favorite in our house is farm-pura dinners, an array of items decadently fried in batter. Rich, savory and rare- these meals are a geat way to say so-long summer and bring in the cooler weather. Below is our recipe for fried green tomatoes, we also do a battered zucchini and fried chicken livers, with slightly different coatings. One must wear sweatpants for this event.

1. Thinly slice your tomato

2. Get a medium size skillet heating with your preferred fry oil ( not olive).

3. In one dish large enough for dredging, put flour mixed with salt and pepper.

4. In a second dredge-size dish mix about 1/2 cup cornmeal, 1/4 flour, salt, pepper, ground cayenne or cumin pepper, dried parsley and a pinch of garlic powder. Spices to taste, about 1/4 Tspn each.

5. In a third dish, beat an egg.

6. Dredge you tomato slices in the following order- flour, egg, then cornmeal/spice/flour mix.

7.Fry the tomatoes until they are golden brown on each side.

Serve w/ your favorite remoulade dipping sauce ( a quick version is sweet relish, mayo, and ketchup mixed in near equal parts with 1/2 lemon squeezed in).







Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Greenhouse transformation!

We needed a greenhouse.

Luckily, the old house came with this closed in sun porch, with windows on all sides. But, it was still pretty dark. But it was also pretty clear that my methods of chainsaw carpentry may not be the best approach to something attached to the main farm house. So we hired a friend to help us, you should check him out on facebook at the Bensonian Institute for Art Research, he has an etsy shop too!
So we decided to take off the ugly ceiling and the roof!

Magic! Look at all that light!


And then, we replaced the old roof with polycarbonate panels directly adhered to the now exposed and painted beams.

Then, we painted all the walls with glossy white paint, to
protect them from the humidity and help reflect the light.

The next steps are to paint the floor black to help absorb the heat, and seal the windows with storm plastic. Yesterday, with the door wide open, it easily hit 90 degrees! We also need to collect lots of planters and containers until we can afford to build more permanent planting beds.


Here's to cold weather with winter greens and goodies!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Veggie Storage Tips!

By Request, here are some great tips to keeping your veggies fresh until you are ready to use them! Feel free to comment and add your own tips if you have them!

1. For salad greens, don't wash them until you are ready to use them. Store them in an open plastic bag with a paper towel to absorb the moisture. When you're ready to eat them, wash them in very very cold water and let them drip dry in a strainer or invest in a salad spinner.

2. If you have a root veggie with the leafy greens still attached- remove them for storage. Your veggies will be much more likely to get soft with the greens. So take the tops off of radishes, beets, carrots, turnips- etc!

3. If you are keeping RIPE tomatoes, put them in the fridge. If they are slightly under ripe, store them on the counter. Store all tomatoes where the green stem comes out facing down. This is where oxygen gets in and causes decay.

4. If your kale or any other cooking greens are getting droopy, get a bowl of ice water! If you soak your greens in the ice water they will likely crisp right back up. Again, a salad spinner or strainer is helpful here.

5. All herbs will keep best if you put them in a glass of water on the counter. Change the water daily for best results.

6. Potatoes like it dark, and cool- but not in the fridge. Store them in a ventilated container, or paper bag in a cupboard.

7. Don't wash veggies until you are ready to use them. Radishes, Carrots, Beets etc do much better with their dirt until you are cooking them up.

8. A damp paper towel around the bottom of scallions will keep them fresher in your crisper drawer.

So how do you keep things fresh for use all week? Anything at the end of our week that is starting to look not-so-great usually gets added into a soup or froze/dried for future use. Happy eating!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Turkeys!

We are taking a limited number of turkey orders for holiday season this year. In order to reserve yours, we need a $20 non-refundable deposit and a completed order form. Price per pound is between 4.75 and 5.10, finalized price will be announced two weeks before pick up. We have a price range due to the cost of grain, the drought in the midwest has affected feed prices and we aren't sure how that will affect our growing costs until our final feed order in October. Our turkey sizes should range between 10lbs and 22lbs the week before Thanksgiving, when you fill out your order form you will be able to request an appropriate size range.

This year's breed is the broad breasted white, the traditional Thanksgiving turkey breed. All turkeys are raised on pasture, with plenty of room to roam and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. They are fed high quality non-gmo Hiland feed and ethically butchered. They will absolutely keep in the freezer for at least 10 months if you're thinking of saving it for another time other than Thanksgiving.

Please email us at reisenshinefarm@gmail.com for an order form and with any questions.