Farm News, October 29, 2019

Fall is in high gear, the World Series of baseball is on, and Halloween is fast approaching, which can mean only one thing:  it’s time to plant the garlic.  One of the things we hear a lot at the farm is that our garlic is so much better than what you can get in the store. It’s fresher, juicier, more pungent, and easier to peel and chop.  Much of the garlic now available in stores is grown in China, and is a very different type of garlic than our German Extra Hardy porcelain garlic.  Garlic was offshored as a crop many years ago due the high labor costs, and the “hard neck” variety we grow is now a niche crop mostly grown by small Northeast and Midwest US growers.  

Mady, Connor, James (driving), Elliott, and Paul get their garlic on.

It’s truly a labor of love.  Just planting the crop takes a zillion steps:  we till the ground, spread compost and seed meal fertilizers, and gently mix in the amendments with a power harrow.  Then we sit in the barn around a pile of our boxes containing our largest bulbs and “pop” them into individual cloves for planting.  This can take some effort!  Then back to the field where we hop on the transplanter and plant each clove in a grid pattern on our beds.  For the finale, we spread leaves, and then straw over the beds to protect the cloves from freezing over the winter and keep the weeds down in the spring.  And that’s just the planting procedure!  It’s truly a labor of love, and it’s great to hear you appreciate the finished product. 

But first, everyone (even Lely the cat) pops garlic in west bay of the barn.

Otherwise, the harvest rolls on.  The mild temperatures have meant that we have some truly great late season lettuce, kale, collards, and Brussels sprouts to add to our usual harvest of spuds, sweet potatoes, beets, butternut squash, and some of the more esoteric veggies like fennel and radicchio.  And of course, one last chance to buy face and carving pumpkins for Halloween on sale (see Featured This Week).  Looking into next week, some frigid air is heading our way, but we will be covering sensitive crops and squirreling away storable crops, so many weeks of fresh, local, organic veggies are still to come.

Happiness in the pumpkin patch. Kids everywhere are looking forward to Halloween.

If you are a farm stand customer, please note our changing hours.  This week we are open Tuesday and Thursday this week from 2 PM to 6PM (earlier closing), and Saturday November 2 from 9AM to 12:30PM (later opening).  Starting November 5 we will be open at the farm *Tuesdays only*, from 2PM to 6PM.  The New Milford and Chappaqua markets are open at their regular times through Thanksgiving, and after Nov. 7, the Westport market moves to Saturdays (starting Nov. 16). 

And thanks to all of you who make a special trip to the farm or one of our markets, even in less than stellar weather conditions.  We really appreciate the great reception we have at our farm stand and farmer’s markets! 

We hope you enjoy the farm and the harvest,

Paul, Rebecca, and Lauren for the Fort Hill Farm crew

I couldn’t resist another photo of pure garlic enthusiasm.

Featured this week:

Jack – O’- Lantern Pumpkins: We are having a blow-out sale (“practically giving it all away!”) on our already discounted Jack-O’s for the Halloween festivities. They are already .39/pound, and now we have a buy 2, get a 3rd free sale. Happy carving, and don’t forget to toast those tasty, nutritious seeds!

Garlic:  we love growing our German White hard neck garlic, despite it being one of our most labor intensive crops. The German Extra Hardy variety tastes so much better than store bought garlic that we feel it is more than worth the effort. And the cloves are big, making them especially easy to peel.  Store in a cool dry place and it can last through February. We will continue to have garlic throughout the winter markets. If you do one thing this winter, make the garlic soup recipe below!

Magic Molly potatoes: Really, what more could one ask of a potato? Deep indigo color (“blue-all-the-way-through”), moist flesh, rich potato flavor … all in a plumpish fingerling shape. It’s a winner all around, and has become one of our favorites. Store spuds a room temperature, in the dark, for several weeks.

Also available:

salad mix, arugula, baby red kale, pea shoots, micro greens, head lettuce, curly green and lacinato kale, rainbow chard, collards, spinach, fresh herbs, green and red cabbage, garlic, red, gold, and chioggia beets, leeks, sweet Italian orange and red peppers, limited amounts of mixed sweet bell peppers, jalapeño, cayenne, Serrano, shishito, and poblano hot peppers, Blue Gold potatoes, Dark Red Norland potatoes, Fingerling potatoes, German Butterball potatoes, Satina Gold potatoes, Kennebec potatoes, fresh baby ginger and fresh turmeric, baby boy choy, salad turnips, French Breakfast and red radishes, radicchio, escarole, celeriac, fennel, parsnips, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, Gilfeather Turnips (rutabaga), Brussels sprouts, and limited amounts of heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes

Coming Soon:

more autumn and winter veggies!

Pick Your Own:

Flowers: there are still some blooms out there

Fresh herbs: parsley, thyme, sage, oregano, marjoram, chives, cilantro.

*** Just like last year, CSA members may take a small (mixed or not) PYO herb bunch for free, one bunch per share per week! Please see sample sizes in the barn.

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

Garlic Soup

Source unknown, adapted by Selenna Strother

This brothy soup is a downright elixir for the cold months ahead.

2 T olive oil

2 T (1/4 stick) vegan butter

½ tsp. cayenne powder 

½ cup fresh ginger, grated or minced

1T fresh turmeric, grated or minced

2 ¼ c sliced onions

1.5 tsp chopped fresh thyme

26 cloves garlic, peeled

½ c coconut milk

3 1/12 c organic vegetable broth

3 lemon wedges

Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350F. Place 26 garlic cloves in a small glass baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with seas salt and toss to coat. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake until garlic is golden brown and tender, about 45 minutes. Cool. Squeeze garlic between fingertips to release cloves. Transfer cloves to a small bowl.

Sauté the onions in the vegan butter until tender, stirring in the cayenne, thyme, ginger, and turmeric towards the end. Add the coconut milk, broth, and roasted garlic and simmer 20 minutes. Add the salt to taste (salty is good here!).

(Blue) Potato and Blue Cheese Pizza

By David Lebovitz

(Blue) Potato and Blue Cheese Pizza

By David Lebovitz

If you are not in a dough making mood, simply buy some dough and skip down to the toppings. “Because potatoes star in these pizzas, try to find flavorful varieties. Often greenmarkets have farmers who grow specialty potatoes and those are worth seeking out since they’re a lot tastier than commercial varieties.”

For the pizza dough: makes six individual pizzas

4 cups (560g) bread flour

2 teaspoons sea salt

1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (see Notes)

1 1/2 cup (375ml) water, at room temperature

For the topping:

2 medium onions, peeled

1 pound (450g) small, firm potatoes, such as Yukon golds or fingerling (Magic Molly stars here!)

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme, plus a handful of thyme branches

6 to 8 ounces (170g-225g) blue cheese

Garlic oil:

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

Additional ingredients you’ll need:

Olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

To make the dough:

1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and yeast.

2. Stir in the water until well-blended, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dishtowel and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.

To make the pizza toppings:

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC).

2. Sauté the onions in a large skillet, stirring frequently over moderate heat, seasoned with salt and pepper, until soft and translucent. They will take about eight minutes. During the last few minutes of cooking, add the fresh thyme leaves. Let stand at room temperature until ready to use.

3. Slice the potatoes in a little larger than 1/8-inch (.30cm) slices and toss them with a just enough olive oil to lightly cover them, a few teaspoons, along with salt and pepper and sprigs of fresh thyme.

4. Spread the potatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.

To bake the pizzas:

1. Heat the broiler in the oven and set the oven rack so it’s 5-inches (12cm) from the heating element.

2. Set a cast iron skillet on the stove top over high heat and let it get very hot.

3. Shape the dough into 8-inch (20cm) rounds on a lightly floured surface, then working one-by-one, overturn the cast-iron skillet and carefully put a round of dough on the upturned bottom of the skillet, using your fingers to nudge the dough to the edges and being careful to avoid touching the very hot skillet.

4. Bake each round of dough individually under the broiler until each is lightly browned and “set” – they will only take a minute or two, so watch them carefully. As they come out of the oven, pry the dough off the pan (you may need to use a spatula if they stick a bit) and set each one on a wire cooling rack.

(You can also put the toppings on the raw dough, right before step #4, and bake the pizzas off to finish them.)

5. Brush each round of dough in the center with garlic oil, making sure to get some of the minced garlic on each round. Divide the onions over each round of dough, leaving a border, then top with potatoes and crumble blue cheese in large pieces over each pizza.

6. Run each pizza one-by-one under the broiler, on the overturned cast-iron skillet, then serve immediately.

-I use regular yeast (also called “Active dry” yeast) rather than instant yeast, which the original recipe calls for. Some people feel that you should proof active dry yeast, but with the long fermentation and the wet nature of this dough, the yeast will be activated during the long fermentation process without proofing in advance. If you’re not sure if your yeast is good, sprinkle it over some of the warm water (100º – 110ºF, 38ºC – 43ºC) and let it stand for ten minutes. If it starts to bubble, it’s fine to use.

If you wish to use fresh (cake) yeast, according to Fleischmann’s yeast website, 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast = 1 cake (0.6 ounce) of fresh yeast.

-As mentioned, I’m outvoted on the no-knead dough question, and prefer a traditional dough enriched with olive oil. But you can certainly swap out your favorite pizza dough and use this topping.

-Bread flour is available in most supermarkets. In France, it’s called farine boulangère à pain of farine pour pain.

-Possible variations would be to add cooked bacon pieces to the pizzas, along with the potatoes, or omitting the bleu cheese and drizzling the finished pizzas with crème fraîche and chopped chives right before serving. Another cheese, like Comté, Gruyère, or mozzarella could be used. One last idea to toss some fresh arugula in a bit of the garlic oil and put a tangle on top of each pizza right before serving.

-I did try baking the pizzas on the wire oven rack with the toppings but found the bottoms didn’t get as crispy as I liked. If you have a pizza stone, you could likely adapt this recipe to use that rather than a cast-iron skillet. Read the instructions to make sure it will stand up to broiling.

-The potatoes and the onions, as well as the rounds of dough, can be pre-cooked up to eight hours ahead.

-If you want to freeze the pizzas, once cool, stack them in a layer with a sheet of parchment paper in between each pizza, then freeze in a zip-top bag.

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