Farm News, October 30, 2018

Farm News

Even though the trees seem a little behind in shedding their leaves, the frosty mornings last week made it clear that the end of October was near, and it was time to get the garlic planted.  We have been curing our sweet potatoes in a small greenhouse, and we made extra use of the heated space on cold mornings to pop the garlic bulbs and separate the cloves of the largest bulbs we grew this summer.  While the garlic cloves are being prepped, we spread compost and fertilizer on our beds and then gently till in all those nutrients in the top few inches of soil.  When things warmed up in mid-morning, the crew hopped on the transplater and started planting.  Because we are also harvesting and washing the week’s veggies, this tends to take several days, but we are shooting to have all 20,000 cloves in the ground this week.

Elliott mixes in the fertilizer for the overwintering garlic. Photo by Paul Bucciaglia

We’re also busy tending spinach and lettuce crops in the greenhouse, and building some low hoop covers over late planted carrot and onion beds.  We’re hoping to overwinter the carrots and onions and have them ready for you super early next season.

Tiny carrots and onion seedlings will be covered before it gets too cold. Fingers crossed that we get early crops next year! Photo by Rebecca Batchie

The other thing that happens for farmers this time of year is a big round of reckoning on what worked, what didn’t, and what changes to make for the next season.  It’s an endless game of 20 questions:  What crops should we add?  What varieties did well, and which need to be shown the door?  How can we better deal with increasingly unpredictable weather and new diseases and pests?  What can we do to make the farm a better place for plants to grow, employees to work, and customers to visit?  Who’s looking to stay on the crew for 2019, who is looking to move on?  Just how close to a hot wood stove can Lely the cat get?

Sarah makes lush fall bunches in the parsley patch. Photo by Paul Bucciaglia

Unfortunately for me, this can lead to an endless round and round in my head, but the good side is it’s a relaxed kind of questioning, different from the hectic, rapid-fire troubles that pop up each day in the growing season.  It’s a good time of year, because the craziness of one growing season has faded a bit, and the pressure of getting another one going is still a few months down the road.  And comfort food from the farm abounds for roasting in the oven, pots of soup on the stove, and crispy salads on the table.

We hope you enjoy the farm and the harvest,

Paul and Rebecca, for Elliott and the Fort Hill Farm Crew


Featured this week:

Italian Parsley:  One of the most versatile culinary herbs is having a last hurrah before the deep freeze. It stores for a long time wrapped in a damp paper towel sealed in a bag in the fridge…Makes a stupendous pesto…Or chop and freeze in oil to use later on.

Radishes: Maybe not everyone’s favorite on its own, but added to salads of any sort (see recipe below), they become a pleasing spicy point that would otherwise be missed.

Salad Turnips:  These beauties look like white radishes, but have a mild, sweet flavor and a special crunch of its own.  Great sliced on salads.  Or you can chop the roots and greens and roast or steam them. Try adding to the recipe below!

Also available:

salad mix, pea shoots, sunflower sprouts, microgreens, head lettuce, garlic, chioggia and red beets, carrots, parsnips, fresh herbs, curly green kale, Brussels sprouts, sweet peppers, cayenne, jalapeño, poblano, shishito, and Serrano hot peppers, Blue Gold, Red Gold, Satina Gold, Kennebec, La Ratte fingerling, Magic Molly blue fingerlings, German Butterball Potatoes, Red Maria, and Dark Red Norland potatoes, green and red cabbage, leeks, radishes, salad turnips, escarole, baby bok choy, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and our fresh baby ginger and turmeric! 

Pick Your Own:

Fresh Herbs: there is still plenty of  Italian and curly parsley, sage, and oregano out there. Feel free to mix and match for your bunch.  Pick up an Herb Ring in the barn for bunch size.

… and NEW for 2018: CSA members may pick 1 small PYO bunch of herbs (mixed or not) each week for FREE! One bunch per share. PYO only. Please see samples in the barn for bunch size.

PYO begins 30 before and goes 30 minutes beyond barn hours.

Recipes, suggested by Rebecca Batchie. For more recipes, check out the Fort Hill Farm Recipe Database

Root Vegetable Slaw with Stilton

By Yotam Ottolenghi

 1 ¾ cups white-wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp caster sugar

3 medium carrots, peeled and shaved into very thin, long, wide strips

1 large parsnip, peeled and shaved into very thin, long, wide strips

½ cup radish, shaved into very thin slices

1 small red onion, peeled and cut into very thin slices

1 small beetroot, shaved into very thin slices

1 tbsp. and 1 tsp. parsley leaves, roughly chopped

2½ tbsp olive oil

2 tsp lemon juice

2 ¾ cups stilton, broken into 1-2cm pieces

Put the vinegar and 2 cups water in a bowl with one and a half teaspoons of salt and the sugar, and stir to dissolve. Put the carrot, parsnip, radish and onion in a medium bowl, pour over 2 ¼ cups of the vinegar mix, then press down the veg so they are almost submerged; refrigerate for 30 minutes. Put the beetroot in a small bowl, pour over the rest of the vinegar mix (1/2 cup), press down so the beetroot is submerged, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Tip the carrot mix into a sieve and shake to dislodge as much liquid as possible (if need be, pat the veg dry with kitchen towel); discard the liquid. Put in a large bowl, add the parsley, oil and lemon juice, and gently toss. Strain and dry the beetroot, and keep separate.

To serve, divide about a quarter of the vegetables between four plates and top with a few slices of beetroot and some Stilton. Repeat in three more layers, to build up a multicoloured salad, then serve. Serves four.

Crushed Root Vegetables with Crisp Brussels Sprouts

By Yotam Ottolenghi

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 4-5cm pieces

2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 4-5cm pieces

½ celeriac, peeled, trimmed and cut into 4-5cm pieces

1 small butternut squash, trimmed, peeled and cut into 4-5cm pieces

1 head garlic, cut in half width ways

2 cups and 1oz. (500ml) vegetable stock

2 tsp. (10g) thyme sprigs

2 tsp. (10g) sage sprigs

2 bay leaves

3 cinnamon sticks

½ tsp allspice berries

2 red chillies, cut in half lengthways

3 Tbsp. (45g) unsalted butter

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 ¾ oz. (200ml) sunflower oil

¾ lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut into 0.5cm-thick slices (You’ll speed things up considerably if you cut the sprouts on a mandoline (or with the slicer attachment of a food processor).

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Scatter the carrots, parsnips, celeriac and squash in a high-sided, 9” x 13” baking tray, then add the garlic cut side up.

Put the stock in a saucepan with the herbs, spices, chillies, butter, a teaspoon of salt and a quarter-teaspoon of ground pepper. Bring to a boil and, once the butter has melted, pour all over the vegetables; tuck the herbs and spices here and there around the vegetables. Cover the tray with foil, sealing it tight, then bake for an hour. Remove the foil, and baste the vegetables – if there is not enough liquid left in the tray, add a few tablespoons of water. Return the tray to the oven, uncovered, and bake for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and starting to colour and there is barely any liquid left.

Transfer the roast veg to a large bowl, picking off and discarding the allspice berries. Pick out the other herbs and spices, and put to one side – you’ll use these for garnish. Squeeze the garlic out of its skin, stir into the vegetables and mash roughly, then keep in a warm spot.

Heat the oil in a medium frying pan on a medium-high heat, then fry half the sprouts for three to four minutes, until golden-brown and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sprouts to a bowl lined with kitchen towel, sprinkle on a pinch of salt and repeat with the other sprouts.

Spoon the vegetable mash on to a large platter and scatter the sprouts on top. Dot the reserved herbs, cinnamon sticks and chilli around the plate – they’re not to be eaten, but they look gorgeous – and serve. Serves six to eight.

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