Current Newsletters

Posted 8/17/2013 8:46am by Don Kretschmann.

July 2, 2013

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,

  It has been quite a surprise to get the continuing rainfall at this time of the year, though it's not totally rare for June to accumulate a hefty rainfall surplus.  It's amazing to think just a week ago we were racing around laying out drip irrigation lines in many of the fields and thinking we were in for a prolonged period of drought and that we had missed the window of opportunity to pound the tomato stakes into soft moist soil.  Nearly 4" of rain has changed all that, for sure.

  With all that rain and nearly no breaks, it's been difficult to get out into the fields even to do our normal picking.  We'd have liked to start pulling up a few "new" potatoes to see what their status is, but that would be one of the muddiest jobs imagineable and then lots more work to wash them.  Thankfully we finished mulching tomatoes last week, but advancing their tie up is fraught with the danger of spreading fungal infections if done when the leaves are wet. Hopefully we'll be able to dance around the raindrops this holiday week to pound in the stakes stakes, for which wet soil is a boon.

   Despite, or perhaps because of the rain, the summer flush of flowers Becky cultivates at the farm has been extraordinary.  They seem to fully buoy the spirit when the rest of the garden might lag.  This really struck a chord when I recently read Thomas Moore who says that gardens are reconcilers of "human art and wild nature, hard work and deep pleasure, spiritual practice and the material world."--"a magical place because it is not divided."  In tracking down that wording online, another Thomas Moore (in Utopia) surprised “They cultivate their gardens with great care, so that they have both vines, fruits, herbs, and flowers in them; and all is so well ordered and so finely kept that I never saw gardens anywhere that were both so fruitful and so beautiful as theirs.  And this humour of ordering their gardens so well is not only kept up by the pleasure they find in it, but also by an emulation between the inhabitants of the several streets, who vie with each other.  And there is, indeed, nothing belonging to the whole town that is both more useful and more pleasant. 

   From Kretschmann "Utopia", wishing you a wonderfulHoliday,  

               --Don, Becky & the Farm Crew

ID's: The ropey curly stems with a little barb on the tips are garlic scapes.  Use much as you would garlic. 

 

Not saying you should do this with your beets, but here's what one subscriber said:

"YUM! Seemed like an odd idea but it was so sweet and flavorful!

http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Beet-Ice-Cream-with-Mascarpone-Orange-Zest-and-Poppy-Seeds"

Cold Cucumbers- Slice cucumbers and marinate in a little vinegar and water with salt and pepper.

Coleslaw:   At home as a child, we used to make coleslaw by putting cabbage, carrots, and a little onion through a meat/nut grinder.  The dressing was mayonaise, vinegar, sugar and salt.  Now we just slice with a knife or grater, about as thick as a nickel.  If you add the salt when slicing the cabbage, one draws out the natural juice of the cabbage.  This then mixes with the other dressing ingredients to marinate the slaw.  Low-cal dressing is simple--just vinegar, salt, and honey. (Or if you're out of mayo)  Approximate proportions for a dressing are 1/2 c. mayonaise, 2 tbs. vinegar or lemon juice, 2 tbs. honey, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Or make an Asian type dressing: 1T soy sauce, 1 T vinegar, 2 T sesame oil, 2 t. minced ginger, ½ c creamy peanut butter, 1 t. honey, dash hot pepper.  Add a little chopped parsley, and green onion rings.  Mix it up, taste, and adjust as you like.

Beets:  Cut off the tops about 1/2" from the root.  Boil unpealed until tender, testing with a fork (Don't overcook or they will taste like the yucky canned ones).  Run under cold water til they can be handled and slip the skins off.  They can then be used in any beet dish.  The first ones we like to slice and add to salads to substitute for tomatoes in color.

Notes on Notes:   We've get e-mails with no name.  We usually figure it out, but it can be quite a search. 

Posted 8/17/2013 8:46am by Don Kretschmann.

July 9, 2013

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,

  This last week has been  challenging, to say the least.  Just as a batsman at the plate has no idea what' coming his way, neither does a farmer.  But at least a ballplayer is only a player, and it's just a ball coming his way.  Typically, stewards of the land have all sort of curves with the widest variety of projectiles coming in all over the region of home plate.  Not batting helmets, but we don all manner of hats--just in the last week these included plumber, mechanic, welder, inventor, ...It was a week with lots of machinery in need of repair.  We depend on golf carts as mini-pickup trucks, hauling smaller loads out of the fields when conditions would make it messy to use a larger vehicle.  One of our two carts has been without reverse for months now, while the other has been laid up awaiting diagnosis.  No sooner did we get the second one running when the first one quit entirely.  A new shifter cable and generator/starter for that cart plus a wheel to weld on a mower made a full workday of the 4th of July.  Then the very next day Becky said one front wheel on the orchard mower was acting funny.  By Saturday morning, I'd replaced the disintegrated front differential bearing.

   An often quoted saying is, "Timing is everything." It's as true farming as anywhere.  With the daily threat of rain for the last week and a half, we've been forced to be constantly flexible and creative in planning our work.  Like a chessmaster always looking forward several moves, we're rarely played a straightforward game lately.  Because weather forecasts predicted rain on Saturday and Sunday, we picked lettuce on Friday thinking we'd be inside and could wash and bag it.  When it turned out to be fair on Saturday, the plan was quickly changed to prioritize pinching and tying tomatoes because that can only be done when the plant leaves are dry.  Cultivating the weeds in the peppers and celery really needs to be done , but took a second seat to tilling the old spinach field for replanting beans because the weeds in cropped fields could come right back with rain.    

  Whenever we're in long periods of unbroken "bad" weather, wet, dry, hot, or cold, I always think: what will I kick myself for not doing once the pattern changes. Because there's ample moisture, planting looks like a good bet.  So the fourth batch of lettuce went into the ground late last evening.  Three hours later, it was raining...

   The cucurbits are finally giving the greens a little competition!  We've got a great cucumber field this year, though for some reason all the squashes have been difficult.  By next week we should have the first green beans of the season.  Lots of them to come.  Organic blueberries are just a week or two hence.

    Wishing you a delicious early July with all the local fare,  

               --Don, Becky & the Farm Crew

ID's: Small bag of oregano (smell it).  We find giving it an airy place to dry is the best, then crumble over a big sheet of paper and pick out the stems.  Store in airtight jar, when ready to use, just crumble the leaves between palms. I've spied many a fine pizza maker toss a secret handful of this herb on the pie.  The red tubers are not ordinary spuds in a bag--they're "new" potatoes.  Keep them refrigerated.  The skins just flake right off, which means they are just like you've already peeled them.  They'll quickly turn dark if left at room temps.  They cook lots quicker than mature potatoes and are a real on-the-farm summer treat.  You'll never see these in a grocery--too fragile.  Fennel smells like licorice.

Moussaka:  Slice eggplant about 1/2" thick, sprinkle with salt and rinse it after it sits for 10 min.   Brush w/oil, bake at 350 deg until slightly cooked (abut 20 min).  (Alternate method is to cut eggplant, freeze in plastic bags, defrost and allow to drain, then brush with oil)  Meanwhile fry 1# ground lamb (or beef), 2 finely chopped onions (green are fine too), and 2 cloves garlic.  Add 1/2 C chopped parsley, 1 c tomato sauce and 1/2 c wine.  Oil casserole dish, place one layer of eggplant, then the meat mix, then the other layer of potatoes.   Blend 2 c. milk, 2T cornstarch or flour, 1/2 t salt, and 4 eggs.  Pour over casserole.  Top with 1 c grated cheese (Kefaloteri or Parmesan) and sprinkle with 1/4 t cinnamon.  Bake at 325 deg for 45 min.  Can be made with potatoes as well or alternate layers.  Since this recipe is for 9x13" pan, if there doesn't seem to be enough, one can cut the amounts of other ingredients in half and make a 9x9 pan. 

Fennel-Simple-Cut in chunks discarding woody stem and center near root. Saute 10 min, add boulion, simmer 10 min.

Pesto:  2 c. fresh basil leaves, pinch salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1-2 tsp finely chopped garlic, 2-4 T pine nuts (or walnuts), 1/2 c. olive oil, 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese.  Combine in blender or food processor until texture is slightly grainy.   Mix well with your favorite pasta. Pesto can be frozen in ice cube trays then removed to a plastic bag for storage, or spread on a slightly oiled pie pan and cut into cubes when frozen.  Frozen pesto makes for a gourmet quick-meal year round.  It’s hard to have too much frozen pesto stashed away.

 

 

Notes on Notes:  Still get e-mails with no name or no pickup location.  Eg. When we get a note about a vacation, if we have the last name and location, we simply open the folder with the paper barn lists, pull the sheet for that location, find the name and mark an X in that week's column for that subscriber.  If we get no name or no pickup location, we need to fire up the browser,  type in whatever clues we have into the web search, and sift through to find which list to grab.  Likewise for misses or special requests.

Posted 8/17/2013 8:45am by Don Kretschmann.

June 25, 2013

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,

   As we were sleeping in on our Sunday day of rest, there was quite a concert of early morning birds, many of whose songs sounded a bit unfamiliar.  But then, we have really seen quite a variety already this year.  Having lost all but a handful of the sweet cherries on the few trees down lower on the hill, we were looking forward to the sour ones as they ripened behind the wagon shed near the house.  Being very busy the last two week, we hadn't checked to see how they were doing.  On the afternoon Sunday farm tour, we noticed that tree was about 80% picked.  Perhaps that's what the birds were so merry about in the morn?  But I spied one of their wild black cherry trees next to the barn door.  We'll have to steal them--tit for tat.  I often wonder how commercial cherry growers ever get a crop because we have a hard time getting a few pies worth out of our half dozen or so trees.   They must just have sheer numbers of cherries and avian fatigue eating them.

   Enjoy the first beets.  These early ones  are a little bit scarce this year for us since one variety of the first planting had very poor germination, and the other variety was up beautifully when it was killed by that late frost.  We've got a beautiful later planting coming on fast.  We especially enjoy these first sweet red slices brightening up the green salads.  The green beet tops are edible and prime too.  Just prepare like any other cooked green or add them to your swiss chard.  (In the same family.)

  We should be into some nice little cabbages for next week.  And we see the first flowers on the green beans--so they're about two weeks away; potatoes are starting to flower and we can see a good number of baby taters starting to form.  A nice rain would be great for both of these.  Also, the cucumbers which survived those cold windy days have tiny cucs on them.  And lots more replanted ones coming in succession.   Fennel coming soon too.

   It's crept up on us--summer, and heat!  What a week to be mulching and pounding in tomato stakes; hoeing.

  This is one of our best years for early summer broccoli.  Hot and dry usually hasten it's demise.  As with all the cole crops, the leaves are perfectly edible and nutritious.  Stems  can be peeled and eaten raw like celery sticks.

   Hoping you enjoy the first week of summer,      --Don, Becky & the Farm Crew

We would generally have liked to delay giving you parsley again, but with heat and dry weather, it can quickly yellow and dry up.  So we thought it better to just harvest the whole lot and give it to you in good condition.

Tabouleh:  (Lebanese dish) to 1c. cooked bulgur (cracked) wheat, add 1/2 c olive oil, 1/2 c lemon juice, 1 bunch finely chopped scallions, lg bunch finely chopped parsley.  Salt to taste. (Cucumbers, tomatoes, and celery can also be finely chopped and added.)  In this case, one can put all ingredients in a ceramic or glass crock (wheat uncooked) with the tomatoes and cucumbers on top and refrigerate for at least 1 day, and up to two weeks.  Another refreshing addition is a little finely chopped fresh mint.  Serve on bed of lettuce or Lebanese style, wrapped in single lettuce leaves and eaten out of hand.

Parsley has an incredible amount of vitamin C! 

Beets:  Cut off the tops about 1/2" from the root.  Boil unpealed until tender, testing with a fork (Don't overcook or they will taste like the yucky canned ones).  Run under cold water til they can be handled and slip the skins off.  They can then be used in any beet dish.  The first ones we like to slice and add to salads to substitute for tomatoes in color.

We've all had those broccoli salads with mayo, raisins, and bacon bits.  But I'm always a little nervous about what they put in bacon.  This salad avoids the issue.

Hot Broccoli Salad:  Cut up broccoli either by slicing stems and dividing the florets (about 4" long) or divide the florets and cut the stems where thick into more slender pieces.  Parboil approx. 10 min. until just tender, drain, then allow to cool.  Whisk together 3 tbs. olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2 tbs. honey, 2 tbs. cider vinegar, 2 tbs. finely minced garlic scapes, 1 tsp. hot pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp. black pepper.  Toss broccoli in this mixture and serve.  Good hot or cold.

ID's: The curly stems with a little barb on the tips are garlic scapes.  Use much as you would garlic.

 

Notes on Notes:   We've gotten a number of e-mails with no name.  We can usually figure it out, but it can be quite a search.  Because we generally need to mark a dropoff list or make a note for that delivery's day when we get e-mail, we always include the last name and dropoff location when we mailmerge the newsletters.  That way you can just "reply" and we know all the info.  You can also just erase all but that info at the top when responding.   Also, sometimes we organize responses by subject line.  So we have all those with "strawberries" in the subject line go into that folder.  If you respond to our message about strawberries with your vacation dates, when the message goes into the strawberry folder, we might miss seeing it.  

 

P.S. Silver lining to the bird thieves' story--they've been distracted from devouring the blueberries in front of the house.  Then again it could have been Becky's Halloween "scarecrow" which was placed in the middle of the bush.

Posted 6/23/2013 8:09pm by Don Kretschmann.

June 18, 2013 Greetings from the Kretschmanns,     Last week amongst all those rainy days, we seeded the largest planting of the season of the brassicas--broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale.  It's always strange to think that we are barely into the harvest season and we're already planning for the last days of autumn.  Then on Saturday with more rain predicted for Sunday we rushed to pick the last of the first planting of lettuce (the beautiful romaine) tilled the field and replanted with our fourth lettuce planting of the season.  On and on...  And how things are growing:  Greens galore, tomatoes begging for stakes, cabbage and broccoli heading up, bulbous beets swelling, melons and cucumbers vining out, fennel--feathery and glorious, eggplant escaping flea beetles, early beans, odiferous onions, even our first celery & celariac ever!     We've been busy with other harvests, but the garlic scapes are ready to pull, and beets too.  The last planting of spinach is just starting.  It's been a great roll.  We'll till the field and replant with green beans for the fall. 

    Hoping you enjoy each taste in it's time as the pleasures of spring continue to unfold,     

                              --Don, Becky & the FarmCcrew

I'm always amazed that they sell "twinkie" bread in the grocery stores or it appears on restaurant desert menus, and they call it shortcake.  It's not even close.  Shortcake it divine when it's freshly made--and it really takes just half and hour. 

Our Favorite Shortcake: Sift 2c. flour, 3 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 2 tbs. sugar.  Mix in 1/2 c. oil well, until evenly distributed.  Beat 1 egg and 5/8 c. milk and mix with dry ingredients.  Pat out with oiled hands or use a plastic spatula to spread dough onto an oiled cookie sheet about 1/2 " thick.  Bake @375 deg about 20 min. (we use all whole wheat flour with fine results) Cut up some berries, whip the cream, and heaven can't be far.

What's better with a nice romaine lettuce?

Caesar Salad Dressing: Blend ½ c. lemon juice, 2 tsp. Cider vinegar, tsp. honey, 2/3 c. olive oil, ½ c. romano/parmesan cheese,  ¼ tsp. thyme leaves, 2 oz. Salted anchovies.  P. Newman has no monopoly on salad dressings!

African Pineapple Peanut Stew: Saute 1 c. chopped onions and 2 cloves minced garlic in 1 tbs. oil stirring frequently, until onions are slightly browned.  Add 20 oz. undrained crushed pineapple and bring to simmer.  Stir in 4 c. kale, collards, or Swiss Chard sliced into 1" strips (chard stems should be cut up separately into 1/2" pieces and sauted with the onions).  Simmer for about 5 min until just tender.  Mix in 1/2 c. peanut butter, 1 tbs. tabasco or other hot pepper sauce (or add 1/2 tsp. minced hot pepper with onions), and simmer 5 min.  Salt to taste and serve.

Open Face Broccoli Sandwiches: Cut up broccoli into bite sized pieces and steam until just tender.  Lay slices of your favorite hearty whole wheat bread on cookie sheet.  Spread a dollop of sour cream or creamy ricotta on each slice of bread.  Arrange the broccoli on each slice and press into the sour cream. Top with a little of your favorite grated cheese and a few sunflower seeds for crunch.  Place in hot oven (400 deg) or broil until bread is toasted & cheese is melted

Fresh Herbs: This week's are oregano and a few sage leaves.  Be sure to unbundle the oregano and spread it out to dry.  After it's crispy dry, roll it between your palms until all the oregano is off the stems. It will smell like a heavenly pizza shop.  Then place in a tightly closed jar or ziplock until needed. We usually just leave the dry sage leaves whole until we use them, crumbling the same way as the oregano, though it tends to stick together more.  Sage is great on poultry.  Oregano--with tomatoes and sauces. 

 ID's: The small bag of round leafed greens with tendrels and perhaps pink flowers: pea greens.  Add to salad raw, or saute.

 

Notes of Note:  When e-mailing, reference the last name on the account and the pickup letters so we can quickly find you. 

If for some reason your box is missing, 1. Let the stop host know because often someone took the wrong box and there'll be one left over late in the evening for you. 2. Some Tuesday and all of Wednesday stops (ones where we deliver chickens) we can get you a box when we pick up the empties the following day. So let us know right away!   

Everyone gets a reminder a day prior to pickup whether you're a light share and it's your off week, or if you're on vacation. Likewise, everyone gets the e-mailed newsletter. 

Vacations: Send us a note with the subject line simply "vacation" telling us when you'll be gone.  Indicate the specific date and whether you want to donate the box or get a credit.  If you're a light share, let us know if you want to skip three weeks in a row (the default), if you want an extra box the week before or after, or if you want to just skip two weeks, then swap cycles and continue every other week.  Remember that if you get coffee, cheese or chickens, this won't work.

 

Posted 6/23/2013 8:05pm by Don Kretschmann.

June 11, 2013

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,

   You can imagine it's been a very busy week for us.  The veggie ship has lifted off.  Sometimes we don't know until the last minute if it's going to fly, but then it always has... The gentle rains have been such a blessing this last week.  We're firmly of the opinion that periods of drought early in the life of a plant are excellent for forcing the plant to expand and extend it's root system.  Then when it rains, the growth is phenomenal.  The reverse, with lots of water early on, is not so good at all--a weak root system which greatly hampers the plant when it gets dry.  The only downside is that though it was just over a week ago that we had all the weeds thoroughly under control and though they were little then, they too had developed great roots and are going bonkers now!

   We'll continue to have cookable greens nearly every week--bouncing between kale, chard, and collards. These dark green leafy vegetables are rich in folic acid--essential to health, and shown to reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.  It also plays a such critical role in the early development of the human fetus that the government mandates certain foods be fortified with it to prevent birth defects.  All these greens are powerhouses of other minerals and vitamins as well.

    Next week we should be into the berries (straw).  Beets & broccoli, complete the three b's. 

    Hoping you feast on the pleasures of spring,      --Don, Becky & the farm crew

Fennel, onions, cabbage, brocolli, lettuce, spinach, and more is coming fast. You can see how it everything is coming along in the recent photos on our website.    Secret...sh..strawberry shortcake is about a healthy and delicious as a breakfast can get. Our Favorite Shortcake: Sift 2c. flour, 3 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 2 tbs. sugar.  Mix in 1/2 c. oil well, until evenly distributed.  Beat 1 egg and 5/8 c. milk and mix with dry ingredients.  Pat out with oiled hands or use a plastic spatula to spread dough onto an oiled cookie sheet about 1/2 " thick.  Bake @375 deg about 20 min. (we use all whole wheat flour with fine results) W/strawberries, blueberries, peaches...and whipped cream. So many people seem to be becoming aware they are gluten intolerant, this old favorite can easily be altered by using buckwheat groats.  Buckwheat is not in the wheat family at all, it's actually an herb.

Tabouleh:  (Lebanese dish) to 1c. cooked bulgur (cracked) wheat, add 1/2 c olive oil, 1/2 c lemon juice, 1 bunch finely chopped scallions, lg bunch finely chopped parsley.  Salt to taste. (Cucumbers, tomatoes, and celery can also be finely chopped and added.)  In this case, one can put all ingredients in a ceramic or glass crock (wheat uncooked) with the tomatoes and cucumbers on top and refrigerate for at least 1 day, and up to two weeks.  Another refreshing addition is a little finely chopped fresh mint.  Serve on bed of lettuce or Lebanese style, wrapped in single lettuce leaves and eaten out of hand.

Parsley has an incredible amount of vitamin C! 

Fresh Herbs: Be sure to dry your herbs.  Normally, this is just to unbundle them and leave them on a paper plate or in a wicker basket on the counter to dry.  We have discovered that you can use a small coffee grinder to make all kinds of rubs and blends of herbs right in your kitchen from fresh herbs we've harvested.   Other spices can be added as well--like peppercorns, coriander, fennel seeds, etc.  Working  with dry herbs, it's easy and quick to make blends which are surprisingly tasty flavor additions to many dishes.  We've taken to making a small batch of "grind" and then setting it on the table like you would salt and pepper.  Others have discovered this too--just look at all the herb/spice salt alternatives for people with high blood pressure.  We just didn't realize how easy it is to do it yourself! We have a little bowl of a mix on the counter or dining table and just sprinkle a little on rice, chicken, a foccacia, almost anything, for a subtle gourmet flavor.

Veggie ID: Small bag of round leaves on vines, some with tendrils, some pink flowers--pea greens.  Good fresh in salads, or saute.  Strong pea flavor.

Notes of Note:   If for some reason your box is missing, 1. Let the stop host know because often someone took the wrong box and there'll be one left over late in the evening for you. 2. Let us know so we can credit you, or at certain stops (ones where we deliver chickens) we can get you a box when we pick up the empties the following day.  

If you are missing a supplemental item , like coffee, mushrooms...let us know so we can remedy.  When Communicating let us know the principal account name & the letter(s) of your dropoff.  Then we don't need to look it up.

Everyone gets a reminder a day prior to pickup whether you're a light share and it's your off week, or if you're on vacation. Likewise, everyone gets the e-mailed newsletter. 

Vacations: Send us a note with the subject line simply "vacation" telling us when you'll be gone.  Indicate the specific date and whether you want to donate the box or get a credit.  If you're a light share, let us know if you want to skip three weeks in a row (the default), if you want an extra box the week before or after, or if you want to just skip two weeks, then swap cycles and continue every other week.  Remember that if you get coffee, cheese or chickens, this won't work.

Posted 6/9/2013 8:52pm by Don Kretschmann.

June 4, 2013

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,

   Welcome to the new season!  We have often compared this point in the season to arriving at the apex of a roller coaster having  ever so slowly climbed steeply to the sky--and then as your stomach senses the free fall, you realize there's nothing to do but enjoy the ride with quick twists and turns all the way to the end. It all happens so quickly you scarcely have time to think. 

   We've been here before, but then we haven't exactly.  Two weeks ago, after a week of 80 degree weather, I thought, "Oh heck, it's the middle of May and in another week, little danger of frost.  For the first time ever, we planted all the peppers and tomatoes at once, and for good measure lots of the basil--all very frost sensitive crops. We usually are quite conservative and hedge our bets, holding back half the crop for later.  Then Thursday night we couldn't believe forecast--lows in the upper 20's over the weekend.  We spent a whole day covering nearly three acres with light "rowcover" fabric--the tomatoes double covered for good measure!  We used every bit of the large stash we had.  Then there was not just one, but three days of frosty mornings!  Luckily everything survived well, but it was yet another day to get it all rolled back up again. 

   I couldn't believe my eyes reading last year's first week note: "It's been over a week since we've had any good rainfall and it's getting seriously dry.  Spinach is a little sparse right now, due to very poor germination in the first two plantings.  The third and fourth look terrific, and we've been pumping all the water we can to them, while still irrigating other crops in need."  Ditto 2013!

   The mixed greens are at their peak now--baby lettuces, mizuna, arugula, mustards, and baby russian kale.  Eat them quicker than other things, as they are most perishable.

   The bunching onions are just starting to be big enough to pull.  The cole crops--broccoli, cabbage, and kale look really unbelievably good.  Especially the broccoli could use a good rain to set it heading.  Chard is king. 

    Enjoy the springtime delights.    --Don & Becky Kretschmann

Notes of Note:  You can access information--like phone number of your stop host, schedule for chickens, your account information, etc. on our website.  For some info, you'll need to enter your e-mail address; & if a password: kretschmann.

When you agree to the automated card payments, it puts you down as paid if full even though those transactions haven't yet occured.  Then when they occur, you get a message that the payment was made. It seems a confusing way to state it to me too, but this is the way Small Farm Central does it.  If for some reason your box is missing, 1. Let the stop host know because often someone took the wrong box and there'll be one left over late in the evening for you. 2. Let us know so we can credit you, or at certain stops (ones where we deliver chickens) we can get you a box when we pick up the empties the following day.

Bumper crop of rhubarb!  We start out with Becky's Rhubarb crisp for a few rounds, then on to other decadances...

 

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake:  Melt 4 tbs. butter in bottom of 9x13" pan.  Sprenckle evenly 1 c. brown sugar then top with 3 c. diced rhubarb and 3/4 c. raisins.  Cream 3 tbs. melted butter 1/2 c sugar, 2 eggs until smooth.  Sift 1 1/2 c. flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp. baking powder.  Slowly add and mix alternately dry ingredients with creamed ingredients and 5/8 c. milk until all is well mixed.  Pour batter on top of rhubarb.  Bake @375 deg.25 min.  Remove from oven, loosen cake from sides with knife.  Place a pan or cake platter on top of 9x13 and flip it over upside down.  Scrape out any topping which remains.

These hot days, it takes nary 15 min. to put together this sauce which is heavenly over vanilla ice cream.  It's also great over pancakes, waffles, cheesecake, poundcake, or puddings.

Rhubarb Sauce:  Chop 2 c. rhubarb finely.  Cook w/ ½ c. sugar over med. heat 15-20 min. stirring frequently until rhubarb is soft and sauce is thick. 

Chard notes: Coarsely chop the stems and cook separately from the leaves--a little longer, but so they retain a little of their firmer texture.  Chard can be used just like spinach.  You can make spanikopita, balls, or mini filo cups, just as you would with spinach.  It can also be easily chopped, sauted, and frozen for later use.

Spinach Salad Dressing:  1 med. onion (or chives) minced, 1/4 c. honey or 1/3 c. sugar, 1 tsp. celery seed, 3 Tbs. mustard, 1/2 c. cider vinegar, 1/2 c. oil.  Blend.

Spinach pies, Spinach pizza:  Simple and versatile, just saute chopped spinach in oil with onions and garlic, add crumbled feta cheese and salt.  This can then be put atop a pizza crust and baked slightly (black olives add pizzaz).  Or add a little lemon juice and stuff the same mix into pita bread for "spinach pies". 

Vinegrettes:  combine and shake well-1/2 c. olive oil, 2-3 Tbs. red wine vinegar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 med. clove garlic minced.  For variety, add finely minced herbs or fruit juices or fruit vinegars.

Veggie ID's:  Tiny bunched leaves-thyme.  Very large leaves--Swiss chard.  Conifer like leaves--rosemary

Washing of the greens:  We usually wash our greens to knock the bulk of rain-splashed soil off the produce.  We don’t claim to have them “table ready”.  Rewash to your pleasure. 

Posted 3/4/2013 8:42am by Don Kretschmann.

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,

   Monday was such an exquisite day, starting brisquely with hard frozen ground and the white frosty residue over all grass and rooftop.  Then followed brilliant blue skies which warmed the air by afternoon.  We pruned all afternoon, reveling in the perfect calm and sunshine.  Work went by in a flash.  And as the sun waned, chill returned, as did memories of many similar days, shaping the trees as they shaped us.

   It's nearly the end of that season which a comrade of our early farming years described well, "You think some pretty crazy things in February."   This speaks to the truth that with so many things, it all begins with a vision--imagination. The constraints and nuances of our western Pennsylvaniahills absolutely require a big dose of imagination.  Rare is the scenario which would lend itself to boilerplate schemes here.  One of the innovative farming concepts and methods I've been thinking through a lot this last year is keyline design.  It was developed by an Australian, P.A. Yeomans and has been most utilized "down under" in very arid conditions on soils with low inherent fertility.  It's been a hot topic in the U.S. lately both for those reasons and because this method claims to be capable of adding topsoil at incredibly fast rates--like inches in less than a decade, rather than the common wisdom benchmark of multiple centuries!  This would mean some serious carbon sequestration--hence the new organization "Carbon Farmers of America".  The excitement to this farmer is that this would mean some pretty serious improved fertility here at our farm.  And more carbon in the bank is the mother lode for an organic farmer.  We'll see.  It's an expensive piece of machinery and it will take a bit of thinking whether it suits the PA hills like the swales of the Kingdom of the Aussies.

   We're very sorry and apologize to anyone who is disappointed with none of the promised greenhouse rainbow chard.  It just didn't grow as much as we had hoped.  When it was all picked, we chose rather than giving a very small amount to everyone, that it was better to give a reasonable amount to some people and then give the last of the sweet potatoes and to everyone else.  (Now we just hope we didn't offend people who would have rather had the yams!)

  If you haven't signed up for the 2013 season yet, it's now time to do so.  Follow this link to the new web-based procedure.  We hope it's more convenient than it has been in the past with debit and credit card options.  (though we are dailyl working out the bugs)

  This is the last of the regular winter boxes.  We've got a good many carrots and some beets and potatoes, and a few apples left.  We'll start having ever more greens from the greenhouses as they warm up in the spring.  Periodically through the spring, we'll be putting together quickie "ad hoc" boxes when the greens accumulate growth. We'll let you know a week and a half out, and you can opt in or not.  

  Hoping you've enjoying the season of winter boxes, we are sincerely,

                                         --Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

 

Now if you've done your homework, you should have everything on hand for this, my current favorite lunch...

Gourmet Toasted Cheese ala Donaldo:  Slightly toast two slices of your favorite hearty whole grain bread.  On one slice of toast pile a good layer of Teutonic Gold © Kretschmann Farm sauerkraut.  Top this with a goodly layer of pickled Italian hot peppers.  Then top with a slice of your favorite cheese--I like some aged raw milk Lesher or Romano.  Slide this under the broiler and allow the cheese to melt and bubble, coating the veggies below.  Put the other slice of toast atop, slice, & enjoy lunch!  

The Golden Ball turnips are the real deal.  The unique flavor is brought to the fore quite simply by butter; or they can be cut up into bite sized pieces, tossed with oil and roasted. A quick meal of various hot roasted roots--carrots, turnips, potatoes-- is easy to put together as well.  This variety of turnip takes about the same time to cook as the other roots so there's not a timing issue.

We enjoyed these last night...

Even Simpler Buttered Turnips: Cut up turnips into pieces about the diameter of a quarter—some cut in half, some cut up more.  Boil turnips about 10 min. until just tender.  Drain, put a tablespoon or two of butter on top.  When it's melted toss the turnips with a little salt to coat them all with a little butter and serve.  

As we've been getting down toward the end of our apples, there are a mix of #1's and #2's.  We've been paring up lots of #2's for simple apple crisps. If you're pressed for time, you can just top a pan of cut up apple filling with granola, press down, and bake. 

Horseradish Maple Glazed Beet Fries: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Wash then peel large beets with a potato peeler (easier than you'd think).  Slice with strong knife into french fry type shapes.  Lightly coat with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until cooked through. Melt 2 TBS butter in a saucepan. Add 1-2 TBS horseradish, 1-2 TBS maple syrup. Stir with beets.

Posted 2/23/2013 9:10pm by Don Kretschmann.

Feb. 13, 2013

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,

   We're back home from "the mountaintop", or so it always seems as we headed out late last Saturday afternoon from the annual PASA Conference (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture).  As darkness comes on the long stretch of I-80, we've usually been talking the entire way to the I-79 exit, because we're so charged up after having been among and inspired by so many like minded motivated farmers and others involved in the "movement".  This is like no other farm crowd--it's laced with lots of vibrant young adults rather than the typical geriatric farm gathering. We're inspired by innovators and educators from all over the country and around the world.  Within the last 5 years, particularly fascinating are the new frontiers of discovery in soil ecology, intensive greenhouse production, and biological rather than chemical approaches to all facets of growing crops.  The colossally expensive to discover Higgs bosons in physics and the chemo-cocktails in medicine can justly be put in the shadows compared to the fascinating story of life literally under our feet and noses.  All the complex interrelationships in our environment of which we've been oblivious!

   For the last month, we've been working steadily in the orchard pruning--perhaps a bit more severely than usual as many trees need a renewal of bearing wood.  This is especially true in the 16 and the 27 year old blocks ofLiberty.  The newer trelised ones on the far hill have big flower buds and look like they'll bear quite well this season--God willing, the crick don't rise...and the deer leave them in peace.

   We've started seeding in the greenhouse--onions and the very first tomatoes for early production inside the hi tunnel.  Lots and lots more will shortly follow. 

   We had hoped to have some small amount of fresh greens in each box through this winter, but the diseased mesclun in our main greenhouse was turned under lest it infest everything else.  That's a constant hazard in tightly closed houses in the winter. And it's been much too cold in the high tunnel this season, not to mention the bumper crop of chickweed which seems to have taken over there.  We would have harvested the beautiful rainbow chard, but it was a little bit young and will grow rapidly to provide a nice green treat for the last box.  

  In two weeks (Feb. 27-28) will be the last regular scheduled winter box.  We'll have some root crops left after that--particularly carrots & potatoes--and as the daylight increases the greens will grow.  So as we see we can put together a small box, we'll shoot an e-mail a week in advance with the contents and price, to which you can opt in or not. 

If you haven't signed up for the 2013 season yet, it's now time to do so.  Follow this link to the new web-based procedure.  We hope it's more convenient than it has been in the past with debit and credit card options.  (though we are still working out some bugs)

  Hoping you're enjoying the squirreled-away goodies, we are sincerely,

                                         --Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

 

The Golden Ball turnips are the real deal.  The unique flavor is brought to the fore quite simply by butter; or they can be cut up into bite sized pieces, tossed with oil and roasted. A quick meal of various hot roasted roots--carrots, turnips, potatoes-- is easy to put together as well.  This variety of turnip takes about the same time to cook as the other roots so there's not a timing issue.

Buttered Turnips: Cut up turnips into pieces about the diameter of a quarter—some cut in half, some cut up more.  Saute in saucepan with 1-2 tbs. butter 5 min., turn heat to low and simmer about 10 min. until tender.  Salt and pepper to taste and serve. 

As we've been getting down toward the end of our apples, there are a mix of #1's and #2's.  We've been paring up lots of #2's for simple apple crisps. If you're pressed for time, you can just top a pan of cut up apple filling with granola, press down, and bake. 

Apple crisp:  Slice or coarsely dice 2# apples (we never peel our apples), mix well with ¼ c. brown sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and juice from small lemon.  Place in buttered 9 x 13 pan.  Mix in bowl, 1/2 c. wholewheat flour, 1 c. brown sugar, 1 c. rolled oats, optional 1/2 c. nuts and mix well.  Cut 1/2 c. butter (one stick) into chunks and scatter over mixture then using your hands or pastry cutter squeeze and mix until everything is mixed well and crumbly.  Drop topping onto apples and bake @ 375 deg. 35 min. 

Simple Cabbage Soup--Dice 1/2# potatoes and simmer in 5 c. stock with 1/2 chopped onion.  After about 20 min. add 1/2 # diced carrots and continue cooking 20 min.  Then add 1# chopped or shredded cabbage and simmer until tender.  Top with your favorite shredded cheese, and a pinch of herb blend of your choice.  Currently, on our counter we have a mix of rosemary, thyme, and a little sea salt (dry these all, and put through the coffee grinder)

It's been fun to cook with the portabello mushrooms from the Wild Purveyors.  They go well in breakfast fritattas, stir fries, or soups.  We've always liked to begin preparation of any mushrooms by sauteing minced garlic in a generous amount of oil or butter, then tossing in the sliced 'shrooms.  From there, you can do anything with them.

Tags: News, Winter
Posted 1/19/2013 10:25pm by Don Kretschmann.
Mid-Winter Greetings from the Kretshmanns %%user-name%%,

In addition to seed ordering, pruning and getting winter boxes out the door, we've been busy for the last month updating our website signup function and we think it's now ready to roll out.  We thing you'll find it friendly to use and for the first time we will accept debit and credit cards.  You will also be able to access your own records online.   
  
(drumroll) The 2013 CSA signup season for Kretschmann Family Organic Farm is now beginning!
Click here to begin your renewal process. Or just copy and paste the link below into your browser:

%%renewal-link%%

We look forward to having you back this season and sharing in the adventures of our farm and enjoying the local bounty Western Pennsylvania produces.

Your farmers,
Don, Becky, and the Crew

P.S. We've carried over any credit or charges for the 2012 regular and winter seasons.
P.P.S.  Host families will receive an e-mail with a coupon code so you'll immediately be able to take advantage of the host discount.
Posted 11/13/2012 11:26am by Don Kretschmann.

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,

Last Sunday was an unusual day for mid-November but it lent itself to what we often do on a Sunday afternoon--look around the farm and see what's happening. I often think of that seventh day of Genesis. The restfulness of our seventh day is when we have the time to see "how good it is." But this Sunday there was everywhere little bittersweetnesses: The beautiful blue sky and warm air, but only rare reminders of the leaves which recently graced the trees; Crunching through the woods, hoping to spot a mushroom or two where only a month ago we were astonished at the fungal spectacle, only to see mere decaying logs. But yet, while more overt life and crop are resting in remission, surely there's something alive in the soil suddenly so springy with autumn rainfall and wildly green cover crops. And for these farmers, the fat fruit buds visible while leaves swirl downward stir a deep consciousness that life is always about change and nascence. How good this is.

As usual, we still have a few "experiments" in the field. Some are just repeats because we sense there's a rule--like golden ball turnips and kale, which seem not to be bothered by freezing weather. Others trials are new--like a late planted small field of carrots. We're hoping to be able to harvest these, "With a little help from our friends...." We've also got lettuce growing under a floating row cover--hoping to nurse it into December. Parsley, likewise. Then there's the disappearing radicchio experiment--waiting to find out if deer really do have Italian surnames.

Hoping you've enjoyed the season with us and have a scrumptious & Happy Thanksgiving,

--Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

ID: Slender white roots are daikon radishes. Herbs: Sage, rosemary, and thyme. These are great seasoning for turkey stuffing, and poultry in general.

Tips: Be sure to note the yellow Goldrush apples. Amazing taste! Our friends, the Oylers, finally came through with this latest of apples to add to our own Goldrushes. They are barely ripe even now and get tastier through the winter. (we'll have these for winter boxes) Even when partially damaged, they don't deteriorate, so be sure to pare those with spots and not just toss them. That would be such a pity. There might be aphids on some kale leaves. The experienced greens eaters (usually with heavy Southern accents) who frequented farmers' markets when we first started out advised to simply soak these greens in sink of saltwater to wash off the bugs.

Brunch with Becky&Don at Burgher's in Zelienople: Chefs Fiore Moletz & Jeremy are putting together a delicious brunch made with our autumn veggies, Sun. 12/2, 11:30-1:30. It's a quick 45 min. shot from the 'burgh and the chefs will let those creative juices flow. They are putting together the menu and we'll post it on our website under the newsletters by week's end. We'd love to meet you there. Cost will be $35 for 7 courses. Seating is limited, reserve with us or burghers@me.net

Carrot Pick? In July we thought there was a poor germination on the fall carrots and planted another small field. They have yet to be harvested and now the ground is likely not to dry out sufficiently to do it with our digger and tractor. They are generally medium sized and sweet, but will likely need to be pulled by hand. If you'd be interested in helping out on a Saturday in early December when weather looks good, let us know, and we'll make sure you go home with plenty to taste.

Haluske: Saute a shredded cabbage and several sliced onions in oil or butter. Add a pound or so of your favorite pasta. Noodles or spaghetti work well. Salt to taste.

Moroccan Stew-- First mix together--Berber Spice Mixture--2T. cumin seeds, 1/2 T. fennel seeds, 1 T. peppercorns, 1T. whole allspice, 3 whole cloves, 1/2 T.coriander seeds, 1 T grated fresh ginger, pinch saffron, 2 T. sweet paprika, 1/2 tsp.cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. Tumeric. Chop stew sized- 1 1/2 c. onions, 3 c. potatoes, 2 c. carrots, 1 small butternut, 1 green and one red pepper, and 3 cloves garlic. Saute vegetables and garlic in 2 T. olive oil 3-5 min. add 4 c. veggie stock and 2 c. chopped tomatoes and simmer with Berber spice mixture until veggies are tender, 20 to 25 min. Salt to taste and garnish with 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley. (We substitute anise for fennel and put all the Berber spice mixture in a teaball to steep in the stew. You can also use 1 qt of canned plain tomato sauce instead of the stock & forget the tomatoes.)

Carrots with Cranberries: Combine 1 grated apple, 4 c. grated carrots, 1 c. cranberries, 4 tbs brown sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 c. cider. Place in buttered cassarole dish and dot with butter. Cover, and bake in @350 deg. for 40 min., stirring once.

Winter Beef: We'll also offer 20# lots of grass fed ground beef from our neighbors, the Lewis's, as an add-on to the winter shares the week of 12/19. It is great lean beef, non organic only because it's expensive to certify. Frozen in 1.5# packages.