Welcome!

Welcome to our farm’s blog and website! Oakhill Organics is a family-run farm located on Grand Island. We grow everything we sell right here on our 100+ acres, and everything that we grow is sold directly to customers here in Yamhill County! You can find out more information about what and how we grow by following the links above; or, scroll down to read our latest farm newsletter on our blog!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla & the whole Oakhill family

Posted in News & Updates | Leave a comment

Spring odds and ends

Late afternoon on a spring day — cherry tree in our hedge in bloom!

Late afternoon on a spring day. Cherries on the island are blooming now, including this feral tree in our hedge. The most glorious sight though is our neighbor’s orchard to the south. It looks like the trees have been snowed on.

Happy spring everyone! We welcomed the new season out here on the farm with smiles. Of course, it has felt like spring for weeks (possible even months) already, but nonetheless the season continues to change and bring us new treats.

This week, I have some odds and ends of news, links and photos to share with you. Let’s begin!

First, important news from the farm:

Egg sale! Has anyone noticed that we are in the abundant season of eggs? Consequently, we are dropping our price significantly and will keep it there through spring and summer. Eggs are now $4 / dozen. Yes, sir. Enjoy your spring frittatas, souffles, custards, and so much more. Yum.

Lamb chops! We restocked the storefront freezer this week with lamb. This time we had the butcher do a different range of cuts to try out, so we have ground lamb, lamb chops, roasts and other cuts. Prices vary depending on the cut!

Potato planting! We’ve scheduled our first on-farm event for the CSA — on May 1, the biodynamic planting calendar says we’ll have the perfect cosmic conditions to plant potatoes! Potato planting is seriously fun and relatively easy work, and we invite you and your kids to join us! (No dogs though, please! Thank you!) Come on out at 3:00 pm (if you’re available to come out earlier, you can! We’ll be planting all day!). We’ll plant for two hours and then sit down for a potluck meal. Last year this was a highlight of the season for all of us, and our potato planting was one of our best ever! So make a note on your calendar now — we hope you can join us! I’ll provide more details (directions, etc.) as we get closer to the date.

Now, onto the links. A few interesting things have been sent my way of late that I thought folks out there might enjoy reading/watching:

New MacDonald — This well produced video presents some startling images of agriculture today — and its potential. The context is a school play, but the topics dealt with are much deeper and more profound! The ending gave me chills!

Diets do not work — I found this Slate article to be quite thought provoking. It’s not explicitly about farming, but food is a big, complex topic worth examining on multiple levels. I found that this article broadened my understanding of the complexity of things and it also seems like it could provide hope to a lot of people who are healthy, in spite of their BMI number. Something to “chew” on anyway!

Elite Meat — Back to farming, this New Yorker article looks at a farm in California that is growing sustainable meats. Their operation differs from ours in many ways (scale, structure, financing sources, etc.), but the goals are the same — to produce extremely high quality food from humanely raised animals. I love the quote: “Ex-vegetarians are our target market.” That is so true of many of our customers as well (and, to some extent, Casey and me as well!).

6 Vegetables To Try When You’re Sick of Kale — I had to post this link because it features one of my dear longtime friends (and NYC nutritionist) Aynsley Kirshenbaum. She provides lots of great, simple advice here. We here at this farm are not sick of kale (never in a million years), but we love all of these vegetables and grow all of them for the CSA. You’ll see more of some of them as we go deeper into spring!

And, now, some spring farm photos!

Nothing says spring quite like a batch of new chicks. These cuties arrived on my birthday two weeks ago, and they are growing quickly! These are meat birds, and they are not quite all reserved yet! If you're interested, let us know!

Nothing says spring quite like a batch of new chicks. These cuties arrived on my birthday two weeks ago, and they are growing quickly! These are meat birds, and they are not quite all reserved yet! If you’re interested, let us know!

Blossoms everywhere! In addition to cherries, our plums are blooming. Look closer in these blossoms and you'll find ...

Blossoms everywhere! In addition to cherries, our plums are blooming. Look closer in these blossoms and you’ll find …

... these busy workers! It's always heartening to see pollinators hard at work when trees are in bloom.

… these busy workers! It’s always heartening to see pollinators hard at work when trees are in bloom.

Look who else likes to eat cherry blossoms! (Fortunately these are not cherry trees we need to harvest from; these are behind my mom's studio space and she took the photo.)

Look who else likes to eat cherry blossoms! (Fortunately these are not cherry trees we need to harvest from; these are behind my mom’s studio space, and she took the photo.)

That gorgeous spring green pasture is being thoroughly enjoyed by the goats. They ran away when I went out to take their photo, naturally. I should have brought a treat.

That gorgeous spring green pasture is being thoroughly enjoyed by the goats. They ran away when I went out to take their photo, naturally. I should have brought a treat.

Spring food for us human eaters! Yum kale! Like I said above, WE are not sick of kale! Quite the opposite: our gratitude for kale runs deep (and for this new greenhouse too, which has made so many greens possible this year!).

Spring food for us human eaters! Yum kale! Like I said above, WE are not sick of kale! Quite the opposite: our gratitude for kale runs deep (and for this new greenhouse too, which has made so many greens possible this year!). No kale for the CSA this week though — there were lots of other things to pick, and we want to let these plants regrow! And grow they will!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

A last payment reminder: Hey all! I know a few of you still owe your CSA payment! Here’s another friendly reminder to bring it with you to pick-up tomorrow! Thank you!

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Turnips & radishesCasey took extra time today to make some of the most beautiful bunched vegetables ever to leave our farm. These bunches are a mix of two spring crops: radishes and “salad” turnips. Most of you probably know about radishes, which make a great salad topping (sliced thin is best!). Salad turnips work well for this too! The flavor of a salad turnip is smooth and sweet with just a hint of heat. We just slice and eat these as a snack — just rinse and slice (no peeling necessary!). The greens of both can also be chopped fine and added to salads or cooked. They’ll cook down a lot, so we usually cook them with other greens.
  • Salad — Because you need something to put your radishes on, of course!
  • Chard — If you’re sick of kale, try chard. Or, so we’ve heard!
  • Rapini — This week’s rapini comes from our over-wintered cabbage and collard plants.
  • Kohlrabi
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Green onions
  • Apples
  • Garlic
  • Eggs

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • FERMENTED FOODS ARE ON SPRING BREAK! That’s right — many of you are away recreating, and we decided to take that opportunity to pause in our crock filling. More to come next week: traditional sauerkraut!
  • Eggs$4 dozen To celebrate our new lower price, I’ve got another fun link for you: 7 Reasons You Should Eat Eggs For Breakfast.
  • Pork fat & skin — We may have a few random cuts of pork left, but for the most part we are sold out until next week. However, we do have loads of pork fat and skin. These are for rendering for lard. This is Good Stuff folks — our hogs are continually on pasture, which means the lard will be loaded with Omega-3 fats. Rendering lard is a simple process (click here to learn How To Render Lard In A Crock Pot). The pork skin can be fried like uncured bacon or rendered as well. Prices are $3 lb for fat and skin.
  • Lamb — Prices vary. We’ve got chops, ground lamb and other cuts!
  • Ground beef — $7 for 1 lb package
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kids at work

Rusty helps harvest greens for our dinner

Rusty helps harvest greens for our dinner

Rusty turned five last December, and it has been fascinating to watch him grow out of his preschool self and into a boy (kindergarten age this fall). This winter, we’ve had some challenges, because — well — parenting and childhood are both rough at times. I think it’s also rough to be the oldest child and always have your activities at home being toned down to accommodate a smaller sibling. Eventually, Casey and I realized that at least some of what was wanting for Rusty was work. Real, meaningful work. Because, wow, the boy has become capable of doing things.

It feels phenomenally different to have a child living in our house and our farm who can work. At five years old, when Rusty decides to pitch in on a task, it flies by. In contrast, a few years back his “help” often made a task go at least twice as long … or perhaps not get done at all! But, with inspiration from both Waldorf and Montessori pedagogies, we’ve felt compelled to — as much as we can — always let him help at tasks in the house and on the farm. Allowing him access to our work required us to truly slow down and let go of expectations for that particular work session. Sometimes these things aren’t possible, but we’ve tried, and now we are seeing the fruits of those previous labors, because as Rusty’s body and mind catch up with his will to work and engage, he can slowly begin to really do things.

Last spring when he was four, we gave Rusty his own set of garden pruners — real ones that I bought in the garden section. They are smaller — probably for women’s hands — but they are sharp and capable of cutting through a thick twig. I looked for pruners with a locking mechanism that I thought he could manage on his own and found one that has a lock that slides easily. We’ve kept his pruners (which he calls his “cloppers”) with ours in a special drawer in the kitchen so that it’s clear they are a tool rather than a toy to lose in the yard. We get them out when we have a project to work on or want to clear a trail or something else intentionally.

He doesn’t know it yet (so don’t ruin the surprise!), but this Friday, on the spring equinox, Rusty will get his own pocket knife. He’s been using Casey’s safely for months and months, and recently he also started using a real paring knife to help chop food for dinner (which helps me so much!). At this point, Casey and I feel so comfortable with Rusty handling real tools that it’s hard to remember that such things would have felt impossible to me just a few years ago.

Our society has so separated children from the real world — they have their own lives in “child proofed” spaces away from daily work (schools, daycares, etc.). I certainly grew up in this system — so thoroughly immersed in the world of academics and kid-focused activities — and I found myself having to stretch in new ways when I finally began reaching out into the world of adults. When I got my first job at 16 (working retail at an equestrian-themed interior design store of all places!), I was so, so, so very “green.” I had a million and one basic work-related skills to learn, and of course I kept learning them over subsequent years, especially as I encountered more diverse working situations. I especially had to grow into physical work, which was more or less completely foreign to me as a suburban kid.

After college, I worked in a commercial kitchen, which was a wonderful eye opener — I felt like I learned a whole new way of being in the world, where my body and hands could affect physical substance and make things (feed 300 people a meal in fact!). Even though I’d played sports in school and then majored in art (which by the way, is a very physical major compared to most!), my body and its abilities felt like a newly found power. In that year of cooking and subsequent years of farming, I grew more into this part of my being — learning so much about pacing and focus and full engagement of brain and body. I also learned about working in a team of people, meeting deadlines, managing lists of tasks, and more.

Reflecting back, of course, I value every experience I have had — the scholastic and the later work experiences. But I do question why they have to come into our lives in such segregated chunks of time? Working for pay in high school felt fairly normal when I did it, but I understand that it is becoming less and less common. And of course, even then, my work experiences were fairly limited because my time was quite full with other pursuits (school and such). Casey worked quite a bit more than I did in high school, and he graduated from high school with a diploma and an amazing work ethic. No dawdling on tasks for that young man — he had worked as a lifeguard, in a bike shop, in commercial kitchens, and on construction sites. He knew how to work!

As parents and farmers, Casey and I spend a fair amount of time thinking about the next generations. We think about our children and their future lives, but we also think about all the young people out there looking for jobs — many of which come our way. We have the privilege to meet and employ quite a lot of young people who are at the beginning or early stages of their own working lives. It is striking to us how even a little work experience early on in life can go a long way toward helping a young person grow into responsibility and capability. Other folks are more like I was — green and needing to grow into their work life in a lot of ways.

Each of us is on our own journey, of course. Some will be later bloomers when it comes to understanding (or wanting) responsibility. And, some people never want it at all! Certainly, I admire the free spirits of the world and believe that they play a role in keeping all of us balanced! However, I also appreciate all the hard working people who grow food, manage businesses, treat patients, educate children, drive buses, build houses, write books, and so much more.

As I get serious about preparing for Rusty’s upcoming kindergarten year, my observations of his own growing capabilities help me realize that this is a big part of why we’ve chosen to homeschool. As farmers, we have a unique opportunity to offer our children immersion in a work environment — a work environment that they can grow into at their own pace, learning all those valuable skills along the way. Farming is uniquely well suited to teaching about cause and effect (and offers immensely satisfying results for a job well done!). I look forward to teaching him to read and write (my other degree was in English after all!), but I appreciate thinking about him as a whole person, who will be growing in mind, spirit and body.

And, you know, kids are kids. Just because Rusty is growing in his capabilities and interests doesn’t mean he doesn’t still balk at feeding the cats. But he can also do things like plant out a whole flat of peas, peel and chop potatoes to roast, pick nettles, and harvest greens for lunch. And, he may not grow to be a farmer, but I hope he will grow to feel capable in mind and body, able to learn the tasks he needs for his own journey and purpose in life.

In fact, we think that farming tasks are so empowering that someday we hope to be able to offer those experiences to a wider audience of young people — maybe through a formal internship program for those young folks like my old self. I certainly feel grateful for all the employers and mentors who took me on in those days! For now our nurturing energy is best served staying close to home with the farm itself and our little ones — both of which are ever inspiring and ever humbling — but we always dream, and someday we will be in another phase of life!

So, Friday morning Rusty will wake to find a new pocket knife waiting for him downstairs. And in a few more years, Dottie will get one too. And Casey and I will do our best to help them learn all the responsibility and power that comes with tools — some of the best lessons we have to teach!

May you too discern what you have to offer your families and the world — something unique and valuable, to be sure! (If you don’t know what you have to offer yet, you might enjoy reading Ken Robinson’s book, The Element: how finding your passion changes everything. It was a great book to read as a homeschooling parent, but it’s not necessarily aimed in that direction at all!)

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

P.S. Yes, there is other farm news too … always lots going on around here. This week in particular, we had some trouble with our cooler, which led to a much needed anyway reorganization of winter storage items. And, of course, there was that surprisingly powerful wind storm on Sunday! We spent two nights at the beach and then returned on Sunday to find ourselves being blasted by the wind! Casey checked on the animals several times to make sure all our electric fencing was in place. It was startling to drive around the county the next day and see so many trees down! Hope you fared well!

~ ~ ~

CSA payment due this week! Just a reminder that the next CSA payment is due tomorrow! You can bring a check/cash to pick-up, or mail it to us: Oakhill Organics, P.O. Box 1698, McMinnville OR 97128. If you have any questions about what you owe, you can email me or ask at pick-up! Thank you!

~ ~ ~

Cooking the perfect roast: Once upon a time, Casey and I didn’t know how to cook meat. We chose not to eat meat for many years, because at the time we didn’t have any sources of local, grass-raised meat. We still ate meat when served to us by friends or family. My mom, in particular, would cook the most amazing roasts and stews, and when we would visit we would marvel at the tenderness of the meat. It seemed like some kind of miracle to us, since we had no idea how she did it. Surely, it must be Very Hard Work to Cook Such Good Food.

When we moved to Yamhill County, our situation changed — we met farmers raising meat in sustainable ways right here in the county, and we decided we wanted to eat some of that meat. But we were suddenly faced with choosing cuts of meat. And then cooking them somehow. Surely, it must be Very Hard Work and Complicated to Do Well. Or, so we thought. As you can guess, we stretched ourselves and learned a thing or two about cuts of meat and how to cook them. We’ve learned that there are essentially two ways to cook meat — long cooked at low temperatures (roasts, stew meats) or quick cooked at high temperatures (chops, steaks, ground meats). The quick cooking meat does take a bit of skill, simply because you have to know your tools — know your oven or BBQ and your pans — and then you have to watch the meat carefully to avoid over-cooking. You also have to discern your own preference — Rare? Well done? Medium-rare?

But, roasts? Roasts are easy. Especially since we discovered an extra amazing trick. You can cook a roast in the oven, but we’ve taken to using our slow cooker. What’s the trick there? you ask. The trick is that we don’t add liquid. We put the meat in the slow cooker dry. We don’t “brown” the meat beforehand (a step that is often cited as necessary — I’m just going to shrug here and say that it doesn’t seem necessary to us!), we just pop it in the slow cooker (and maybe add some salt). The size of the roast will determine how long we let it go, but for most medium or large roasts we can start it at breakfast on “low,” and it will be perfectly cooked by dinner. And, by perfectly cooked, I mean: juicy, tender, falling apart. We can attest that meat from our farm cooked this way is phenomenally flavorful and delicious. You can serve it on its own or add it to stews or other dishes (we often chop our roasts and incorporate them into veggie-rich stews). And, all those juices and fat that are left in the pan? So perfect for using to cook greens! This method works for all types of roasts: lamb, pork, or beef.

One more awesome roast tip: I have one last tip for folks who might appreciate it. This is something that I think is super important, but I’ve noticed that it’s not widely known. When you slice or chop a roast, cut it against the grain of the meat. Just doing this can make a less-than-tender roast more delicious (but you won’t have that problem if you’ve used your slow cooker). Unfortunately, cutting meat with the grain can also make a tender piece of meat taste less tender (or at least a whole lot chewier). So, it is important! If you are having a hard time visualizing what this means, here’s a really informative and funny blog post I found on the topic of cutting meat against the grain (it even has useful photos!).

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables: Don’t get stuck in a rut! Try new veggies this week! Ask for preparation ideas if you need them!

  • Turnip rapini
  • Kale rapini
  • Greenhouse kale & chard — So tender! This stuff knocks our socks off. We are kale lovers, and I am amazed at how different of an eating experience it is in different seasons. This spring greenhouse-grown kale is the ultimate in mild flavor and tender leaves.
  • Celery leaf
  • Kohlrabi
  • Beets
  • Potatoes — We’ll have two kinds available this week! If you’re a potato connoisseur, try taking home both and doing a side-by-side taste test! (We did a potato tasting a few years back at a CSA open house, and it was delightful to experience the differences like that!)
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Green onions
  • Garlic
  • Apples — As a head’s up, the number of apples is going up this week! So check the sign to make sure you get enough for your “item”!
  • Eggs

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate! We will have some jars for sale for fermented items and such at pick-up, but we know you’ve got loads of empty jars in your pantry already!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Scallion pickles ~ Here’s a fun new fermented food: green onions! We think this will definitely be a garnish, but who knows! Try it out!
  • Eggs — $6 dozen
  • Pork, roasts & more — Prices vary. Lots of delicious pork shoulder roasts in the freezer! This cut is perfect for making pulled pork. See my “perfect roast” recipe for how to cook. Once cooked, pull the meat off and mix with your favorite BBQ sauce. So good.
  • Lamb — Prices vary. We just took more lambs to the butcher and will have a broader range of cut options again next week (including chops and ground lamb). This week we invite you to try our “trim” meat — this is delicious lamb meat that isn’t necessarily a roast or a chop. It’s perfect for putting in a slow cooker for making stew. And, it’s also our lowest cost meat item at the storefront ($5/lb), making it a great place to start if you want to try the lamb! We also still have roasts left!
  • Ground beef — $7 for 1 lb package
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | 4 Comments

Gifts

Another beautiful week on the farm, and THIS is the only photo I have to show for it? Yes, but it represents something exciting. Read on ...

Another beautiful week on the farm, and THIS is the only photo I have to show for it? Yes, but it represents something exciting. Read on …

I apologize to have missed so many wonderful photo opportunities this week. For realz — the kids out planting peas with Casey? Too cute and beautiful. But, alas, I was busy, sequestered upstairs in my office, working on the final details of our organic certification forms. The weird photo above is actually part of our certification paperwork — a photo of an input label. Not too exciting in of itself, but very exciting in the context of certification!

Long-time CSA members will know that our farm was certified for its first six years. Then we took some time off, because honestly in 2012 something had to give (that was the year we expanded our acreage, added animals, and had a second baby — oh my!). We’ve been thinking it was “time” to get certified again for about a year, but it takes time to get back into the groove of it. Nothing has changed in how we grow; the process is mostly about documenting it for others. On our very diverse farm, just making sure all those moving parts get noted in an official way takes extra work!

My birthday is tomorrow (yay!), and I decided last week that the gift I wanted most was to have this certification process done. So Casey and I put in some extra hours compiling everything (which, by the way, is also complicated by the fact that this work requires both of us, and yet often when both of us are together there are two other very cute — but VERY loud and distracting — people present as well!), and I sent off the forms yesterday! Hoorah! A wonderful birthday gift to myself. (If you’re wondering, the process will take a few more weeks/months as our certifier looks everything over and then inspects us!)

And, tonight we celebrated my birthday in a more traditional way, by going out to dinner at Thistle (with the kids and my parents). What a gift to sit in a beautiful space with my loved ones while savoring exquisite preparations of our vegetables. I think we grow great vegetables when we eat them at home, but WOW they can transcend their everyday greatness in the hand of masters! Thank you to Thistle for a wonderful meal!

The week contained many other gifts as well — more sunshine, rain!, visits with friends, trees brilliant with cherry blossoms, healthy lambs, wild mushrooms, and more. My birthday has me reflecting on these and so many gifts — especially those I’ve received over the years. When I look back over our years as a farm and earlier, some significant gifts stand out. And, I have always felt unsure of how to express my gratitude for some of the most significant — those gifts that outstrip my ability to ever directly repay the generosity. I am thinking here mostly of those gifts given by older generations to younger ones — mentorships, hospitality, forgiveness of youth’s hubris. How many times have I felt floored by the generosity of someone, left so grateful that I cannot even begin to properly say thank you. At times, I wasn’t even able to offer the most simple forms of “thank you” as I wondered how to offer thanks in a way fitting to the gift — it just wasn’t possible and on a few occasions thanks went unsaid for too long, because the gift was just overwhelming.

I remember when I was pregnant with Rusty, due at the end of our 2009 CSA season. The final weeks of our CSA felt like a continuous baby shower as CSA members brought us cards and gifts every week. I was so unprepared for this demonstration of support that I didn’t think to keep careful notes of who brought what, and I found myself so overwhelmed with the transition as a whole that very few thank you notes made their way out — even as my gratitude over-flowed. I worried about this for a long time, until I watched other new moms go through the same transition. Not all of them dropped balls like I did, but even if they had, I would have understood. That is the gift of time and age — that ability to step into new shoes and gain new experiences that create more and more connections between people. Generosity in spirit is a great good in this world. And, oh, how people have been generous in this way to me and Casey as we’ve learned to be adults.

And, now I am about to turn 34. Not a very auspicious age — no milestones here — in fact, I keep forgetting exactly what age I’m approaching. But it does startle me to think that it was nine years ago this month that Casey and I first started this farming adventure — I was just turning 25!

Looking ahead, I am excited about the future gifts of this life. Some of the most treasured gifts of recent years have been some of the hardest to handle (because challenge can be so fruitful). I know the years ahead hold more “growth opportunities,” along with sweet joys and generosities (and sunshine and rain and flowers and hugs from little arms …). But, today, on the eve of my birthday, I feel that I owe the world (and so many wonderful people in it) a BIG thank you. Thank you to everyone who has overwhelmed me with gratitude (which is most of you).

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

CSA payment due soon! I emailed CSA statements to folks this weekend. I think I managed to email everyone who is making payments over the season. The next payment is due by March 19 — you can bring a check/cash to pick-up, or mail it to us: Oakhill Organics, P.O. Box 1698, McMinnville OR 97128. If you have any questions about what you owe, you can email me or ask at pick-up! Thank you!

~ ~ ~

A note about plastic bags: As you have seen, we use plastic bags at pick-up. We try to avoid plastic bag use, which is why we have our fun divided boxes for things like beets and potatoes (so that we can portion things out without bags). However, we find that certain products simply do much better when offered in a bag rather than loose (greens, for one). The bags we use are high quality and can be used over and over again once they are in your home. We encourage you to get a lot of use out of them before recycling them! However, you also don’t need to take the bags at all, if you don’t want to! If you would prefer to use your own bags or containers, you can simply transfer the contents of one of our bags to your own and then leave the bag behind (or, if Casey is available, he can fill your bag directly — but sometimes he gets busy with restocking).

Also, vegetables store best in the fridge in a bag (or some kind of sealed container). The air in a fridge will quickly dry out veggies if they are just placed on the shelf. Roots like beets and parsnips can be stored in a bag that is sealed tight, but be sure to give your greens some space and air. They do not want to be crushed — that’s a sure way to have them go bad quickly! Give them plenty of air, and greens will last in the fridge well past the next CSA pick-up (if you need them to, but hopefully you will just gobble them up quickly!).

~ ~ ~

Two fun recipe ideas from Casey: Casey’s been making some fun stuff in our kitchen lately. Here are two of his recent “inventions” using farm fresh seasonal foods. You’ll have to forgive the lack of specificity in method/amounts — that’s not really how he rolls. But perhaps these descriptions can get you inspired to try some new combinations in your own cooking:

  • Seasonal salad featuring: chopped raw kale, carrots, hard-boiled eggs, green onions, roasted beets, and apples. And nuts. Dressed with kind of a cole-slaw/egg salad-y thing. A nice filling cold food for eating at lunch (can be prepared in advance). Super yummy!
  • Vegetable pancake/fritter for breakfast: Grated beets, carrots and parsnips mixed with egg, a little green onion, some kind of flour (we used almond meal) with a dash of baking soda and salt. Cook up like pancakes. Delicious treat!

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables: Remember to check our recent newsletters for more servings suggestions and cooking ideas!

  • Red Russian kale — Casey picked these bunches from our new greenhouse (the one we built last fall!). Yay! Kale is so hot these days; it’s hard to remember that when we started the CSA people didn’t even know what it is. Kale is so hot right now that the cover story on the recent issue of a farming magazine we get addressed a kale seed shortage! Apparently demand for kale has outpaced the supply for the seed (which takes two years to grow because the plant is a biennial). We didn’t personally experience that shortage because we buy from regional producers, but wow! We love kale and are so glad that it is becoming more popular at large — we feel like our bodies crave kale. Does yours?
  • Chard — In our experience, chard has also grown in popularity (although it started out more popular than kale). But there is no chard seed shortage yet!
  • Parsley
  • Celery leaf
  • Kohlrabi
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Potatoes
  • Apples
  • Green onions
  • Garlic
  • Eggs — Having eggs in the line-up was so popular last week that we’re doing it again! Need more ideas for farm fresh eggs? The kids and I enjoyed making a simple souffle at snack time this week (topped with cooked strawberries from our freezer!). That sounds way fancier than it was, but it was delicious!

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate! We will have some jars for sale for fermented items and such at pick-up, but we know you’ve got loads of empty jars in your pantry already!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Beet pickles! — $5 pint; $3 half pint
  • Parsnip pickles! — $5 pint; $3 half pint
  • #2 Apples — 4lb bag for $6
  • Eggs — $6 dozen
  • Pork, roasts & more — Prices vary; lots of ground pork still available too!
  • Lamb roasts — Prices vary
  • Ground beef — $7 for 1 lb package
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | 2 Comments

Glorious

IMG_0787

It’s a good winter to be farmers. Jasper enjoys harvesting on a glorious afternoon.

Friends, I have no words. That’s a lie; I will, of course, have plenty of words by the time I am done writing this newsletter. But, seriously — this weather. It speaks for itself. It does not need me to explain to those of you have who have been living here too. We have all experienced the glory of it all together.

“Unseasonable” weather seems like an understatement for the extended, continued warm dry spell we’ve experienced this February through early March. I keep wanting to comment on “this spring,” only to remember that we are still two weeks out from the actual start of that season. With so many acres of ground already worked up, it is so easy to forget the actual date.

And our neighbor farmer made it official today — he told us that this is the most beautiful, earliest spring he’s experienced in 30 years. A truly remarkable farming year so far.

IMG_0784

One big sickie and one little sickie rest outside under the healing sun this weekend. Aw. They were sweet.

We are grateful for the ease of this weather, as a series of little annoying interruptions have visited the farm in the last few weeks — first the milk fever incidents with the cows (which was more than annoying as it brought life and death drama to our day), then sicknesses of our own that took each of us out of commission for more than a day and left us dragging for longer. Alas, these things happen, and oddly this same beautiful winter seems to have brought more than its share of illness to many in our community. Or, perhaps we’re just at that stage of life when those minor illnesses come to visit more often (young kids being snot magnets and all that).

Nonetheless, as we find ourselves extra tired and feeling like we haven’t had a break, we can still find relief in this glorious sunshine. It is truly rejuvenating, especially at the end of the winter.

And some farm sweetness. Dottie with a lamb (who has been adopted by my mom -- his own mother wasn't feeding him).

And some farm sweetness. Dottie with a lamb (who has been adopted by my mom — his own mother wasn’t feeding him).

The first of our seedlings were planted out into an open field this week (as opposed to a greenhouse) — spring-sown fava beans! More transplants will soon follow. And the beginning of the blooming season has begun — plums are blooming and before too long we will find ourselves in the midst of all spring’s splendor.

We hope that you are staying well and able to go out to soak up all this good warming sunshine as well. Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Want some beef? We have another beef animal ready to butcher. Would anybody like to buy a quarter, half or whole? You would receive a wide range of cuts: steaks, roasts, ground meat, bones, — all wrapped and ready for your freezer. The price is $5.50/lb hanging weight (the weight of carcass before cutting), and that price includes processing costs. This animals has spent his entire life on good quality pasture, making the fat rich in healthy Omega-3s. Good stuff. If you are interested, email us: farm (at) oakhillorganics (dot) com

~ ~ ~

How to hard-boil fresh farm eggs! We’re in our spring egg flush now — hoorah! This is the season when our own family revels in egg abundance. Hard boiled eggs are a favorite for all of us. The kids eat them for snacks, and Casey and I love them as a salad topping (add eggs and nuts to turn a salad into a meal!). But, fresh eggs can be super hard to peel. Have you ever had that experience? Ugh. So unsatisfying, especially for young kids trying to peel their own eggs. Fortunately we have learned the secret to easy peeling eggs (even when super fresh! we’ve done this with eggs laid the same day!).

Start by boiling some water (enough to fit all your eggs). When it reaches a rolling boil, carefully drop your eggs into the water (you can lower them in with a slotted spoon to keep from splashing boiling water). Some may crack — that’s ok. Set a timer for 12 minutes and let them continue cooking at a steady boil. After 12 minutes, put the lid on your pot and carefully drain out the boiling water and refill your pot with cold water from the tap. Drain out that water and then put your eggs in a basin of cold running water and let them chill fully (ice can aid this process if you have an easy way to get it). “Shocking” them like this separates the shell membrane from the egg and makes for a super easy peel. You can, of course, save cooked eggs in the fridge for several days to eat at later occasions!

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables: Remember to check our recent newsletters for more servings suggestions and cooking ideas!

  • Eggs — “What? Eggs aren’t vegetables!” No, you are right! However, we are in the midst of our spring flush and we want to share eggs with those of you who may never thought to try them yet. So you’ll see some eggs in the line-up this week, alongside all our usual good veggies and fruit. If you want eggs, bring a carton! (1/2 dozen is an item; limit one item of eggs per share!)
  • Seasonal salad mix — This is our popular seasonal salad mix — a big hit with local restaurants and selling well now at Harvest Fresh as well. We call it “seasonal” because it … changes with the seasons, always reflecting the tastiest tender bits of our fields. In summer that will mean more lettuce, but right now it offers a huge rainbow of texture and flavor variety. Just a few of the items in the mix this week: arugula, beet greens, kale, cabbage rapini, cabbage, and fennel!
  • Greenhouse chard & kale — So tender and good, they will knock your socks off!
  • Cabbage rapini — More of our favorite late winter rapini offerings. For those of you who are new to “rapini,” I’ll introduce it again: when biennial cole crops (like cabbage, kale, etc.) overwinter, they put on new growth in the spring, including tender and delicious flower buds. We learned many years ago that these flower buds are so very awesome to eat. You can treat them as you would any cooking green (and all the leaves are great too!), but the sweet tender stalks also make them suitable for cooking applications that you might apply to asparagus, such as roasting in a pan. Roasted rapini is one of our favorite March treats. In fact, if there is any cabbage rapini leftover after pick-up tomorrow, we will probably make roasted rapini for dinner!
  • Kohlrabi
  • Beets
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Apples
  • Green onions
  • Garlic

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate! We will have some jars for sale for fermented items and such at pick-up, but we know you’ve got loads of empty jars in your pantry already!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Kohlrabi “sauerkraut” — $5 pint; $3 half pint ~ Next week we’re going to try something new … any requests???? (Those parsnip pickles were pretty awesome; if you want to see more of them, let Casey know!)
  • #2 Apples — 4lb bag for $6
  • Eggs — $6 dozen
  • Pork, roasts & more — Prices vary. This is awesome stuff. I think we even have one package of pork chops left!
  • Lamb roasts — This week, we recommend trying our rack of lamb or loin roasts. These are less familiar cuts of lamb, because in most butcher shops this cut would be broken down into separate chops. In the larger cuts, they are all still lined up together, and you can cook the whole rack together and then slice that tender meat apart for serving. Delicious. (Or, as Casey said, “Whoa, they’re good.”)
  • Ground beef — $7 for 1 lb package ~ Why is our ground beef so good? For one, we are having whole animals ground, which means that every delicious tender and flavorful cut is going into the grind, giving it extra good flavor and texture (and juice!). Also, it is aged seven days before grinding! We think this is the best ground beef we have ever eaten.
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | 2 Comments

Breaking ground

Freshly worked ground makes a fun new landscape for exploration!

Freshly worked ground makes a fun new landscape for exploration!

Oh, what a February this has been! This week brought more excitement — notably, a second calf born on Friday. Followed by another round of milk fever for the mom the next morning. Thankfully, we were much better prepared (in terms of supplies and experience), and the treatment process went smoothly and without drama. Both moms and calves are doing great today. Hoorah!

But the other exciting part of the week was the continued dry weather. I suppose dry calm weather really shouldn’t be called “exciting,” since it’s quite the opposite — so easy to work in on almost any kind of project. Yesterday Casey did the animal chores in record time, and when he was trying to figure out why it went so fast, I reminded him that the weather was perfect for beast and man alike. These things help.

And, dry weather allowed Casey and Jasper to get on the tractor in a major way. They disked and then harrowed three acres of ground in total over the week With another three just disked, that’s six acres total in some state of worked up-ness. In our ten seasons of farming in Oregon, we have never had so much ground worked up so early. Casey began with just an acre here on the home farm, then he kept going as the days stretched on. We are by no means ready to plant, but early working up means that the ground will be ready when we are ready. This is in contrast to some past seasons, when the starts in the greenhouse pile up and outgrow their trays as we wait and wait and wait for the ground to dry. We’ll still need to do a bit more tillage before planting, but in the meantime all our cover crops and pastures will be breaking down and turning into happy fertility and organic matter for our crops to eat on all season long. Good things.

We also had what we’re pretty sure was a record restaurant harvest this Tuesday — between the orders from five local restaurants, Casey was scrambling quickly to get the harvest done and delivered in some kind of normal time frame (he ended up being a bit late, but he got it done!). Selling to restaurants has been an unexpectedly awesome part of our farm business — way back when in 2006, restaurants weren’t particularly on our radar (we were too busy preparing for market and CSA sales), but that year two approached us. Over the years others have as well, and at times we actually tried to dissuade potential chefs from working with us (this was in the olden days when we weren’t as good at communication — getting internet access on the farm in 2009 helped change that a lot!). But the chefs have persisted, and we’ve stepped up to the fun challenge of providing exceptionally high quality produce, custom harvested, for 52 weeks of the year. I think we’re seeing the fruits of all that labor now in loyal relationships. We are so grateful for these folks! This week’s orders represented our most consistent long-term restaurant clients: The Blue Goat (in Amity), Thistle, Nick’s, Community Plate, and Valley Commissary. Not surprisingly, given their dedication to good ingredients, these are also the restaurants where our family likes to eat (when we get the opportunity to go out, which is slowly starting to happen again as the kids get older).

In less exciting, but very satisfying, news, I also finished our farm taxes and have the mental and desk space to be diving into this year’s next big paperwork project: organic certification! Hoorah!

I think that’s most of the farm news for this week. Rain is on the horizon, so the dry weather trend will end. I think most of Oregonians will feel comforted by the return to some kind of normal, although long-term forecasts suggest that the mild and dry weather may be coming back again. We’ll see. We hesitate to make any predictions about the year, since farming involves so many variables. But, we feel good about the work that has happened and is happening now. That’s something to rejoice in!

Checking on the kale in the high tunnel!

Checking on the kale in the high tunnel!

Also rejoice worthy: the continued growth of green things in the field (and our high tunnels). This week’s share includes the very first of the season’s rapini (the tasty edible florets of over-wintered brassicas), with much more to come soon. Hoorah again! Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Want to buy something at our storefront but not in the CSA? Come on down! We are happy to sell any of our extra items (eggs, meat, grains, ferments, etc.) to folks who walk in. And supply allowing, we can sell veggies too! (Although if you plan to come regularly to buy veggies, we’d ask you to just buy a share! But don’t be daunted — our share sizes are totally customizable to fit even the smallest appetite household!) We’re in the storefront every Thursday, 2 – 7 pm. Stop on by!

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables: Remember to check our recent newsletters for more servings suggestions and cooking ideas!

  • Kale rapini / greenhouse mustards / collards — Casey bunched various greens to get us started in our late winter / early spring greens mode. Things are still just coming on, but it looks tasty out there.
  • Celery leaf
  • Parsley
  • Field greens — More of those tasty greens that are suitable for salads or cooking!
  • Kohlrabi
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips — A CSA member shared this totally unexpected parsnip recipe with me: Rigatoni with beef and parsnip stracatto. It looks delicious and offers a very novel way to eat parsnips — in a red sauce with pasta! The recipe calls for beef, but I imagine this would be delicious with some of our farm lamb instead.
  • Beets
  • Potatoes
  • Apples
  • Garlic

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate! We will have some jars for sale for fermented items and such at pick-up, but we know you’ve got loads of empty jars in your pantry already!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Kohlrabi “sauerkraut” — $5 pint; $3 half pint ~ Just one delicious ferment this week, but we have lots of it!
  • #2 Apples — 4lb bag for $6
  • Eggs — $6 dozen
  • Pork, roasts & more — There is still lots of pork in the freezer! Prices vary.
  • Lamb roasts — We still have many different cuts available, at varying prices (ranging from $5 – 14 lb). Ask Katie at pick-up to walk you through what’s in the freezer!
  • Ground beef — $7 for 1 lb package ~ Ground beef is back! Hoorah!
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

Birth on the farm

Annie welcomes her brand-new calf, Wissouri (a Jersey-Hereford cross).

Annie welcomes her brand-new calf, Wissouri (a Jersey-Hereford cross).

When I think of nature’s power, many images from my life come to mind: a strong gust blowing through tall trees, ocean waves crashing on the shore, a forest fire burning through the night. But, this weekend, I was reminded of another: the power of the uterus. Notably, the bovine uterus.

Last Friday morning our (favorite) cow Annie showed signs of impending labor, three weeks before what we believed to be her due date (calculated based on when we first introduced her to a handsome bull named “Lighthouse Hardcopy” last summer). But, as with so much this spring winter, life was ready to come — ahead of our schedules and expectations.

The whole family went over at the end of the work day to check on her, and I had the foresight to pack a snack and warm clothes. Good thing, because we arrived at the barn to find her having active contractions. Within a minute, we saw hooves show. We pulled out the almonds for the kids and found a good spot to watch in the event we were needed to assist.

No assistance was necessary. After a few more powerful contractions, Annie got serious and laid down to do the rest of the work. We watched as her massive square body tensed with the work of her uterus, and slowly we saw those hooves reappear, followed soon by a nose (hoorah!). Then more powerful work by those bovine muscles, and the whole head was out. As the body slid out, Annie stood up, her instincts telling her that gravity could be her friend for the last bit. And, then the calf was out! Annie went to work immediately with her large cow tongue, licking and licking and licking the calf, drying the wet slimy hide and welcoming her to the world.

We all basked in the glow of this successful birth and headed home after we’d seen the calf get up and nurse. The miracle of birth and new life never grows old, and we felt in awe once again of the powers of nature.

And, so, it was quite distressing the next morning to find that very same force of nature laid flat on the ground. Annie was down, completely down, with what we quickly realized was our farm’s first case of “milk fever.” This is a very common emergency created by a quick and massive depletion of a cow’s calcium reserves after birth (as all that calcium gets pulled to the milk glands). It causes quick, sudden and severe shutting down of a cow’s muscles, ending in death if not treated immediately.

Since this is a common situation, we had materials on hand to treat it. However, we learned quickly that we didn’t have quite the exact right materials (what we had were products intended to prevent milk fever, not to treat it after the fact — but we did not realize that when we bought it!). With my retired anesthesiologist father’s help, we got some calcium products into Annie subcutaneously, and I rushed to town to buy the exact right products as we also waited for the vet to arrive.

The vet, the retired anesthesiologist, and the farmer keep watch over Annie as she gets her IV of calcium gluconate.

The vet, the retired anesthesiologist, and the farmer keep watch over Annie as she gets her IV of calcium gluconate.

Casey rubbed and talked to Annie the whole time I was gone, keeping her breathing. When I arrived back at the farm, Casey and my father got an IV into Annie and we slowly began the appropriate treatment. Too much calcium too fast, and we could have risked sending her into cardiac arrest. So, we sat by her, watching the drip drip drip of the slow IV and hoping.

Eventually, we started seeing hopeful signs: Annie burped — a sign that her digestive system was kicking back into gear (cows have giant stomachs). Then we saw some muscles quiver and shake. Soon after, the vet showed up and brought us some more supplies, and we all watched a medical miracle take place: a cow who had been at death’s door, stood up and began eating again. Not just eating, but gently shoving around her cow friends to get to her food (which, if you know Annie, you know this is 100% her personality).

Back up, just a couple of hours after her milk fever!

Back up, just a couple of hours after her milk fever!

Several days later, Annie and “Wissouri” (Rusty named the calf) are still doing great. And, I have no idea if extra warm weather could stimulate an early birth, but the early birth feels like part of a bigger pattern here on the farm right now. As you all know, we have been experiencing unseasonably warm and dry weather here in western Oregon (at the same time that the rest of the country has been experiencing the opposite apparently!). We’ve been picking daffodils from our yard, and today we noticed that the raspberries by our house are already leafing out. All of this in February! Between the unexpected calf and the early signs of spring, we are having a hard time keeping our heads on straight about what month it actually is. Casey and I both have been “feeling” as though it is late March rather than mid February.

As people who must plan ahead, we can’t help but wonder all this wonderful warmth suggests for the rest of the year. “Drought” has been on the minds of many as we look at snow-less mountains and experience these dry February days.

Rusty sows pea seeds on our front porch in the sun this weekend.

Rusty sows pea seeds on our front porch in the sun this weekend.

But we don’t really know what is to come, and this week the warm weather has felt mostly like a little blessing (because, let’s face it, late winter can be just plain hard). We’re tending our greenhouses and sowing and looking forward to the beginning of the spring flush of work. We’re also waiting for one more calf to be born, who may come soon or may wait those extra weeks. We’re keeping on eye on that mama cow as we do all this winter spring work. Many more miracles to come! Calves! Blossoms! Greens! Grass! The world shouts with abundance and growth already! (And, yes, it is Ash Wednesday today too, the beginning of Lent. Hard to believe it amidst all the splendor already, but Easter will arrive amidst even greater displays of spring, I am sure.)

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla~ ~ ~Looking for more greens? Exciting news this week — Harvest Fresh Grocery in downtown McMinnville has begun stocking our seasonal greens in their produce department!

Awesome greens, available 7 days/week at Harvest Fresh!

Awesome greens, available 7 days/week at Harvest Fresh!

Meet this week’s vegetables: Remember to check our recent newsletters for more servings suggestions and cooking ideas!

  • Chicory mix“Chicories” are a unique family of greens related to lettuce. The most famous chicory is radicchio, that pretty red and white leaf that graces many salad mixes. In Italy, however, chicories are a diverse and beloved category of greens to be cherished and highlighted on their own. They offer a wide range of colors, shapes and flavors, all featuring the more robust flavor and texture of a chicory. Over recent years, some of those diverse chicories have made their way to the states via dedicated foodies, farmers, and chefs. We love chicories because they offer the opportunity of salads grown outdoors in the winter (they are hardy enough to not even need a greenhouse in Oregon!). Chicories can also be braised (delicious with pork, winter roots, garlic, and green onions — oh my!). We have grown many chicories over the years and have settled on a few varieties that we especially love — they range in color from buttery yellow to bright green to pink to deep red and white. This particular mix features escarole and treviso. The easiest way to eat chicories is as a salad. To reduce any bitter flavor in the chicories, we’ve heard it recommended to soak them in ice water before chopping. We’ve never taken this step ourselves, however! We like to chop them into small strips (again, “chiffonade”) and dress liberally with a creamy dressing before our meal. Because chicories have much more body than lettuces, they stand up well to being fully dressed and even letting wilt a bit. Bacon is a classic accompaniment to chicories (chop it and mix it in), as well as nuts and dried fruit of all kinds. Or, of course, you could top with crumbled cheese.
  • Chard — Another green that does well in our Willamette Valley winters! We’ve chosen to grow some especially hardy chard varieties for our winter fields, and we love picking them this time of year. It is so satisfying to make bunches of greens in February. If you’re new to chard, as a cooking green it is remarkably similar to spinach (although it doesn’t wilt quite as fast or as completely), so you can substitute in most recipes that call for cooking spinach. We love to braise/sauté it in a cast iron skillet and then poor in beaten eggs for making a frittata (cook it at first on the stovetop and then when the eggs begin to pull away from the sides finish the top under the broiler).
  • Field greens — The same mix of greens we’ve offered the last two weeks, suitable for salads or cooking!
  • Celery leaf
  • Kohlrabi
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Apples
  • Green onions — In the winter, what can be more enervating than green onions? They are onions, and yet they are a green! We love the color these add to all kinds of foods — salads, frittatas, and more. We recommend chopping them fine and using them everywhere. And please use the whole thing. These onions are tender and flavorful all the way up.
  • Garlic

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate! We will have some jars for sale for fermented items and such at pick-up, but we know you’ve got loads of empty jars in your pantry already!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Kohlrabi “sauerkraut” — $5 pint; $3 half pint ~ Another batch of last week’s yummy kohlrabi sauerkraut. This was a hit! We think it is notably sweet, and the texture of the kohlrabi is so delightful when fermented.
  • Beet pickles — $5 pint; $3 half pint ~ Fermented beets … just sliced beets, good quality salt and water!
  • Parsnips pickles — $5 pint; $3 half pint ~ Fermented parsnips … just sliced parsnips, good quality salt, and water!
  • #2 Apples — 4lb bag for $6
  • Hens (and a rooster!) on pasture. Good stuff.

    Hens (and a rooster!) on pasture. Good stuff.

    Eggs — $6 dozen ~ Our supply is up! The hens have noticed (and appreciated) all this warm weather too, I think. So, if you’ve wondered whether we have enough eggs for you to buy what you want, the answer is now yes. And, if you haven’t tried our eggs yet, we encourage you to do so! Farm-fresh eggs are a revelation. Our hens are on pasture all day every day, resulting in deep orange/yellow yolks that are loaded with heart-healthy Omega-3 fats. We feed our hens grains (and pasture!) that we grow and grind ourselves and supplement their feed with fish meal for extra protein and oyster shell lime for extra calcium (ocean derived nutrients for us all!).

  • Pork, roasts & chops — We’ve got more pork in the freezer! Lots in fact! Chops, roasts, and more. Last time, the chops went fast, so if you want pork chops, this is your week to get some!
  • Lamb roasts — We still have many different cuts available, at varying prices (ranging from $5 – 14 lb). Ask Katie at pick-up to walk you through what’s in the freezer!
  • Ground beef — We are temporarily out. More coming next week!
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

To the woods and back

The farmer and the boy, walking through the woods earlier today.

The farmer and the boy, walking through the woods earlier today.

Oh, dear friends — how I wish I could take you fully into this photographic moment with us. The sounds of ravens calling in the still branches overhead. The quiet calm without and within as this little farming family walked in the woods at the end of a retreat away.

We just arrived back today from our quick jaunt up to the forests of Breitenbush, where we communed with far-flung farmer friends and soaked up all the glory of what felt like very early spring weather. We head to the hot springs every winter for this gathering of farmers. It’s more of a retreat than a conference, with the farmers themselves organizing all the discussion and generally sharing with each other.

This year, the usual February snow was replaced by mild weather and bare ground, allowing us to explore the area in comfort (and soak in those hot springs again and again and again!). Although we’re not totally sure what to make of the mild weather this early in the winter, we were grateful for every part of this minor adventure/retreat/get away for our family. The setting was nourishing (so was being away from phones and computers for two full days!), and we loved being able to touch base with other farmers as we all start our new seasons on our farms.

This year, the conversations were as plentiful as ever, both in our gatherings official “sessions” and beyond. Here are a few interesting observations from our experience this year:

  • It was agreed by the more than a few farming families that farming with kids feels much harder than farming before kids. Yes, we agree! But, it was also agreed between all these tired and somewhat overwhelmed farming parents that our farms feel more alive and richer with kids running amok too.
  • Casey and I both found ourselves flummoxed in conversations about our farm when the other party asked how we do all of this stuff with so little labor (we only have one full time employee right now, and last year at our peak we had three folks on board). We honestly did not (and do not) know how to answer this question! It made us realize that so much of farming still feels mysterious to us — especially as we spend most of our time on our own farm and rarely have the opportunity to visit others. We don’t always know how to answer questions like this because we lack the context of what others are really doing. We grow stuff, but I think we do so in a lot of different ways!
  • This was our ninth time attending this particular gathering of farmers, and I personally felt like I had the least to contribute in conversations than ever before. As the years go by, I find myself with more questions than answers about how all of this works (even on our own farm). I suppose this is the natural humbling process of real experience. But it was still lovely to be in close proximity and to share in others’ experiences as well — to touch base with other folks who are also so deeply committed to this miraculous/mysterious work.
  • Lots of folks were really excited to hear about our new storefront and how we’re using if for the CSA. This was one area of sharing that filled both Casey and me with pure enthusiasm. It was fun to already be this far into our season (a month into the CSA season) and have so many positive experiences already!
  • The kids had a blast. Since we attend this event every February, it has been fun to “mark” their growth by how they grow into their interactions with the place and people. This year they loved going in the hot springs more than ever before, and frequently ran off after meals with their friends while Casey and I were still eating. These are happy milestones for us farmer/parents!

Whew, I’m sure in a few days I’ll have so many more reflections, but we’re so freshly back from the event and ready to unpack and tuck in for a good night’s sleep before jumping back into the fray tomorrow with the CSA pick-up! I’ll close this brief newsletter with two other fun photos from the week (at the farm):

I swear I take this same photo every year. I can never get over the excitement of those first spring green starts in the greenhouse flats! These are salad turnips -- to be transplanted not too long from now for early spring CSA shares!

I swear I take this same photo every year. I can never get over the excitement of those first spring green starts in the greenhouse flats! These are salad turnips — to be transplanted not too long from now for early spring CSA shares!

This last week's weather has reminded me more of spring than winter: wind, thunderstorms, and even some glorious rainbows! I was happy to catch this double rainbow with the camera!

This last week’s weather has reminded me more of spring than winter: wind, thunderstorms, and even some glorious rainbows! I was happy to catch this double rainbow with the camera!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

P.S. Two exciting developments on the “extras” front — many more eggs this week! Woo hoo! Thanks to mild weather! And, Casey is finishing up two new fermented foods for you to try. The first is garlic! Yep, just garlic. A condiment, to be sure. He’s still working on it, so hopefully it will turn out (he’s going to put it through the food mill tomorrow, so we have not seen the final product yet). But if you’re interested in trying it, bring a small jar to pick-up. We’ll have very small jars available as well. The other new item is kohlrabi “sauerkraut” — just kohlrabi, fermented. We’re excited to try this (and excited because we’ve had a few people who weren’t interested in the garlic element of the kimchi).

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables: Remember to check our recent newsletters for more servings suggestions and cooking ideas!

  • Field greens — Another great mix of hardy winter greens that would be suitable for a finely chopped dressed salad or for cooking with!
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Parsley
  • Kohlrabi
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Sunchokes
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Apples

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate! We will have some jars for sale for fermented items and such at pick-up, but we know you’ve got loads of empty jars in your pantry already!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Kohlrabi “sauerkraut” — $5 pint; $3 half pint ~ Just kohlrabi! But fermented!
  • Garlic paste? — Check out details tomorrow!
  • #2 Apples — 4lb bag for $6
  • Eggs — $6 dozen
  • Ground beef — 1 lb packages; $7 ea.
  • Pork, roasts & chops — Prices vary ~ We are almost out of pork (for now)!
  • Lamb roasts — We still have many different cuts available, at varying prices (ranging from $5 – 14 lb). Ask Katie at pick-up to walk you through what’s in the freezer!
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | 1 Comment

Seed time

Seeds! Our collection is growing ... we are still waiting for orders from many companies!

Seeds! Our collection is growing … we are still waiting for orders from many companies! The Butternut squash seeds in the bag at the top of the photo have been saved here in our very own kitchen from the best of last year’s squashes! We love saving seed!

Monday this week marked a very important moment in the season: the sowing of the first flats in the greenhouse!

First, Casey reassembled our heated tables in the hot house. We had dissembled them last fall with the idea of upgrading but found that simply tinkering and putting everything back together fresh and clean was more than adequate to keep the same set-up going! I love it when time and attention is sufficient to save the farm money.

For the first time ever, we’ve chosen to buy a pre-made soil mix. Up until this year, we’ve always favored mixing our own, partly because that’s how we learned to do it back at the farm we trained on. I think we also thought it would save us money and give us more control. But over the years, we’ve had inconsistent results with our germination, and it’s a lot of work to mix so much heavy stuff each time we go to sow!

So, this year Casey carefully opened the bag of beautiful soil mix and attentively watered it with warm water and then enjoyed a day of sowing seeds in the greenhouse while listening to chamber choir music. These early days of the farming season can be some of the most relaxing and exciting. The season is still all glorious potential — the freshly arrived seed packets are full and organized (and clean!), and we can do these simple tasks while whatever weather passes over the farm outside. Seeing those first emerging seed leaves is so exciting too — the season begins with those very tiny little green things in our hot house, and grows and grows and grows! Seeds! They are so amazing!

I’m sure you’re wondering what Casey decided to sow first! These earliest sowings represent both some of our earliest crops (things we want to get in the ground quickly, like salad turnips and lettuces) and some of our longer term crops (like leeks!). Other items included fava beans, chard, celery root, mustards, kale, collards, summer squash and one flat of tomato seeds (we’re aiming to have some very early squash and tomatoes this year!).

This weekend we also scheduled our meat bird chick orders. We’ve decided to keep this part of our operation relatively small this year, because our experience with poultry is that it’s very energy intensive (both in terms of handling and feed). But, um, these chickens we raise are the most amazing meat, so we’ll have three batches of 100 birds each. We’re taking orders for meat chickens now! Since there will be so few available, we recommend placing an order soon to reserve your birds. You can find more info about the chickens here and place an order here.

Finally, in other winter-y routine news, early next week our farm family is heading to the mountains for our annual farmer retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs. This will be our ninth time attending — truly a tradition for us! We are so looking forward to catching up with all far-flung farmer friends and getting even further inspired for the coming season! I’m sure I’ll have lots to share about that event in next week’s newsletter (CSA operations will go on as normal! I will be out of email contact for three days, but there will be plenty of folks here on the farm holding down the fort and keeping things thriving).

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

P.S. Did you know that I very carefully edit our list of veggies and other items each week? I try to keep it up-to-date with current info and provide a few extra cooking suggestions each time. So I encourage you to skim these lower sections each week, even if on a surface level it looks very similar to the week before!!!!

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables: Remember to check our recent newsletters for more servings suggestions and cooking ideas! Imagine that some of these winter vegetables are starting to become more familiar to you! We encourage you to keep trying new things!

  • Field greens — Another great mix of hardy winter greens that would be suitable for a finely chopped dressed salad or for cooking with!
  • Celery leaf
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Kohlrabi
  • Winter squash
  • Parsnips — Parsnips have become so familiar to Casey and me over the years that sometime I forget how maligned this vegetable is in the wider culture! So maligned that I actually wrote a bit of a “love letter” to parsnips when I was in graduate school (it was an essay called “How To Love A Parsnip,” and I offered five ways). The parsnip has the distinction of being quite a unique vegetable. While it is in the same family as carrots (umbels), it is not terribly closely related and it has no other kindred spirits. The parsnip stands alone! Other interesting things about the parsnip from a botanical standpoint — it has incredibly unique looking seeds. They resemble little flat disks that are surprisingly large and maddeningly hard to germinate (we’ve figured out the tricks finally, but it’s not a simple feat!). Also, the parsnip plant itself contains a chemical called furanocoumarin, which can cause “phytophotodermatitis” — a fancy name for blisters on the skin! Casey and I learned this the hard way back when we were first farming. The weekend, after a good weeding session in the parsnips on a hot summer day, we found ourselves with painful blisters all over our hands! The chemical in the foliage essentially makes affected skin super sensitive to the sun, so the blisters require exposure to sun — we had the perfect storm! Anyhow, now we know to wear long sleeves and gloves when working in the parsnips in the summer. But you, dear eaters, will not be weeding parsnips this week. You will simply be eating them. And, here are some tips. First of all, parsnips are sweet. Apparently this is news to some folks, so I’m telling you that now. They are very sweet. Hands down, our favorite way to eat parsnips is to roast them (yes, we roast a lot of our veggies!). I peel them first and then chop into bite-sized pieces and roast with liberal amounts of butter. I stir them a few times to make sure the butter evenly coats the parsnips and to keep them from getting too dark and crispy on one side. These are a kid favorite. I’m sure there are other good ways to eat them to, but honestly we are so pleased with this simple preparation that we don’t experiment too much anymore! But they are nice in soups too!
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Apples

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate! We will have some jars for sale for kimchi and such at pick-up, but we know you’ve got loads of empty jars in your pantry already!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Kohlrabi “kimchi” — $5 pint; $3 half pint ~ Casey was pondering making a different kind of fermented food for this week, but everyone was still raving about this particular recipe, so kohlrabi kimchi gets at least one more week! We may just need to procure another crock so that we can expand our options (Casey is really hankering to try making fermented beets!).
  • #2 Apples — 4lb bag for $6
  • Eggs — $6 dozen ~ Volume is up again this week! Hoorah for lengthening days!
  • Ground beef — 1 lb packages; $7 ea.
  • Pork, roasts & chops — Prices vary ~ Check with Katie at pick-up to see what we have in the freezer and the prices! We only had one small hog slaughtered last week, and the pork was popular, so don’t dilly dally in trying it out! We’ll get more slaughtered soon too!
  • Lamb roasts — We still have many different cuts available, at varying prices (ranging from $5 – 14 lb). Ask Katie at pick-up to walk you through what’s in the freezer!
  • Beef organs — $6/lb for beef liver and heart
  • Lamb organs — $8/lb ~ These were popular last week! We may have a few kidneys left, but I’m pretty sure all the packages of liver and heart were sold (I will check though).
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

The winter sun

Little tiny lettuces growing in one of our high tunnels!

Little tiny lettuces growing in one of our high tunnels!

Slowly, very slowly it seems, our days are getting longer. Early next week, we mark “Imbolc” (otherwise known as Groundhog Day), the halfway mark on the march to spring. Oh, welcome day!

I am sure I not at all alone in craving quite a bit more of those rare sunny days and the warmth and growth that come with it. Last Saturday, the fog temporarily lifted from the valley floor, offering us a treat of a day. Our family hiked to the river, where it was warm enough for the kiddos to end up swimming in the water itself (I waded briefly in bare feet and was fairly amazed at their ability to turn frigid water into fun!).

But since then, the fog and cloud cover have returned, so that even with lengthening days it feels dark during most of the daylight hours. We have three high tunnels planted now, and we check on those little itty bitty plants regularly to weed and tend to them. They sit there, growing enough to stay alive, but certainly not bouncing with the thriving earth energy they will have in just a few weeks or months!

A funny planning quirk this time of year is that successions seeds sown in winter and early spring (in the greenhouse or fields) will lose their distance as harvests arrive. We could sow kale today and a month from now and end up picking them at the same time, because that later planting of kale will grow so much faster thanks to the power of sun’s return.

Nonetheless, the winter sun is here. Here in those rare fog-lifting days (or for those of you lucky to live at 700 ft or at the beach, I hear!). But also here in so many miracles around us — in the storage crops we are pulling out of our coolers (sugar = sun’s stored energy!). With every bite of beet or carrot you eat, last summer’s sun enters your body and warms you (literally warms you, through the power of digestion!).

And, here in our little farm house, we get to visit the sun of year’s past every day as we build fires to heat our home. I admit that there have definitely been days when I have wished for another source of heat, but for the most part, I love the winter ritual of building and tending a fire. On a dreary winter day, watching the flames dance in our woodstove inspires me.

For someone who was born and raised in the Pacific Northwet, I sometimes think I’m ill-fitted for our winters with how much I long for the sun! But, as always, these real things in our immediate environment help. And, this is the dregs of the winter — the coziness has worn off (especially for the kids, who are beyond ready for days outside again), and we are eager to see green’s return everywhere. And, while we wait, we order seeds, build fires, plant hazelnut trees, and eat some really good sun-food.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables: Remember to check our recent two newsletters for more servings suggestions and cooking ideas!

  • Field greens — Is this a braising mix? Is it a salad mix? You decide! Casey harvested the best of the winter greens growing in the field — kale, chicories, chard, Asian greens, etc. This time of year, the “cooking” greens are sweet and tender enough to be eaten raw … but of course they’re delicious cooked too. If you decide to the salad route (which is probably what we’ll do with our batch), I recommend washing again and then chopping very fine into strips (“chiffonade,” if you will) and then tossing with your salad dressing of choice. For winter salads like this, you will likely enjoy more salad dressing than you might on a spring lettuce salad — the leaves are thicker and can stand up to it. Or chop it all up and saute with butter and garlic and eat with eggs for breakfast. Yum yum either way.
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Leaf celery — We will have it this week! Last week’s final moments of harvest were interrupted by our cows, who decided to wander away from their enclosure! Jasper and Casey spent those final bits of time getting them back in.
  • Parsley — Wondering what to do with parsley? Here’s the cool thing about parsley in winter … it’s green. Like, really really really bright green. At this time of year, our other cooking greens are still all growing very slowly (they will come!), and yet here is this delightfully green, vibrant leafy thing that thrives in the winter! We most often use our winter parsley for making parsley “pesto” — combine parsley with garlic and walnuts and olive oil in a food processor (adjust the ratios to your flavor preference). Delicious! We put a bowl of parsley pesto on the table and let each eater decide how they want to use it. It makes a delicious garnish on most anything.
  • Kohlrabi
  • Sunchokes — AKA “Jerusalem Artichokes.” They are more often known by this second name, although we can’t figure out why, since these tubers are neither from Jerusalem or related to artichokes! (And oddly they look a lot like ginger — although they share nothing except appearance.) Nonetheless, they are delicious! The texture is crisp and the flavor sweet and light — very reminiscent of Jicama (no relation). Sunchokes are absolutely delicious when roasted. The hardest part is cleaning them up, because those little nooks and crannies can store some dirt. I prefer to chop them with a paring knife in a way that exposes all those little edges, making the final cleaning easier. I do NOT try to peel them, because WOAH that would be hard. I do use my paring knife to trim off any bits that look less appetizing. To roast, I’d put bite size pieces in a pan with butter or oil olive and roast at 375-425°, stirring occasionally, until starting to caramelize at the edges. Add salt, and enjoy the simplicity of this preparation!!!! I must add, however, that some of us unlucky folks experience gas when consuming cooked sunchokes (especially in large quantities). Unfortunately, Casey and I are in that camp, so while we enjoy roasted sunchokes when paired with other veggies (make a big roasted root veggie medley!), we often prefer to eat our sunchokes raw. We don’t get the painful gas that way. They’re delicious chopped fine and added to a cole slaw type salad. In fact, this week, you could make an amazing salad with the kohlrabi, cabbage, carrots, and sunchokes! Sometimes we like to turn a cold salad like this into a meal all its own, and we do so by adding more filling ingredients like tuna or cooked chicken (a great portable lunch).
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Beets — Beets seem to be one of those polarizing vegetables. To some of us (our family included), a perfectly cooked beet embodies all that is sweet and satisfying. Others taste … dirt? I guess? Since I’m not in that camp, I’m not sure what doesn’t “work” for other folks, but I will offer up this: even I (a devoted beet lover) do NOT enjoy under-cooked beets. To me, an under-cooked beet definitely tastes too earthy for my preferences. And, I’ve also learned over time that beets generally require more cooking than other root veggies (I think they are denser). So when I cook them, I often allow quite a lot more time than I do for something like potatoes or carrots. I love mixing up root vegetables and making what we once dubbed “root parade” (because I lined up all the ingredients in a row before chopping) — basically a roasted vegetable medley. When I include beets, I make sure to chop them smaller than the rest so that they will cook all the way through in the same time frame. When roasting beets alone, I often do it at a slightly lower temperature (375°) so that they cook all the way through before they start to crisp on the edges. A well cooked beet is like candy. To me!
  • Potatoes
  • Apples — This week, we have more Goldrush apples, as well as the classic Newton Pippin. This is an older type of apple, especially well suited to cooking or making cider (complex flavors!).
  • Garlic

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate! We will have some jars for sale for kimchi and such at pick-up, but we know you’ve got loads of empty jars in your pantry already!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Kohlrabi “kimchi” — $5 pint; $3 half pint ~ Still popular! We have another fresh batch available for this week. We’ve been loving this winter treat.
  • #2 Apples — 4lb bag for $6 ~ Want extra apples for making sauce or cooking? We’ve got #2 apples available for half price — these are apples that just aren’t perfect enough for us to offer them for fresh eating. They have minor blemishes or imperfect skin.
  • Eggs — $6 dozen ~ Volume is up again this week!
  • Ground beef — 1 lb packages; $7 ea.
  • Pork, roasts & chops — Prices vary ~ We took our first hog to be slaughtered at a USDA facility this week! Check in at pick-up to find out what we’ve got in the freezer! We grow a very unique type of hog: American Guinea Hog, a heritage breed. They offer darker, more flavorful pork meat than most of what you will have experienced. They are also smaller in size and great foragers, making them well suited to a farm like ours and meaning that their fat is loaded with healthy Omega-3s.
  • Lamb roasts — We still have many different cuts available, at varying prices (ranging from $5 – 14 lb). Ask Katie at pick-up to walk you through what’s in the freezer!
  • Beef organs — $6/lb for beef liver and heart
  • Lamb organs — $8/lb ~ These were popular last week! We may have a few kidneys left, but I’m pretty sure all the packages of liver and heart were sold (I will check though).
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

We’re off and running!

Two day old lambs and a ewe enjoy a misty and chilly morning on the farm.

Two day old lambs and a ewe enjoy a misty and chilly morning on the farm.

As you know, last week was our first CSA pick-up of the year — and our very first CSA pick-up at our new storefront! We were excited before the day began, feeling super optimistic about our new space and routines for 2015. But, still, our expectations were blown out of the water by the enthusiasm of everyone who walked in the door during those five hours. People ooh’d and ah’d over the tidy packages of lamb and beef in our freezer (and bought lots of both); eggs sold out within the first hour; kimchi flew out out the door (we sold out, but thankfully everyone who wanted some got some!); and beautiful CSA vegetables were packed into baskets with joy. It was SO. MUCH. FUN.

It felt like the perfect start to our tenth season — a harbinger of good things to come. We honestly can’t believe we get to have another party like that this week. And the week after that. And so on, for another 44 weeks this year.

Here on the farm, good work has been happening too. We are almost totally done with our annual seed order (need to finalize our green onion and flower choices); we’ve been pruning our orchards and raspberries; and I finished up our 2014 employee tax paperwork this weekend. Up next on our lists: more pruning; the start of seed sowing in the hot house; and our organic certification paperwork. All of it feels so seasonal, even if this winter has proved to be relatively mild so far (our PGE bill tells us the average temperature so far has been tracking 5° warmer than last year).

At this time of year, I have to avoid constantly looking for signs of spring, because of course winter has several more weeks to go and these early signs are subtle and ongoing. I could bore you by pointing them out every week in the newsletter, but here on the farm they are very exciting. This week, as we were walking back to our house, Rusty ran ahead of me and then stopped and ran back at a full sprint, yelling: “Mama! Guess what I saw? … The daffodils are coming up!” Sure, enough, he had spotted the very first tips of the daffodils that grow under our pear tree. Having our son so excited about this world he inhabits plus those little glimpses of the season to come (spring! joy!) filled my heart so much.

Plus, the first of this year’s lambs were born yesterday (hence the cute photo above). And today the sun shone and warmed everything! Life! Growth! It happens! There is great and necessary rest to be gained from winter’s rhythms, but oh these signs of spring are too wonderful.

It’s official — this season is marching forward, and we are so glad to have you with us on this next season of local eating! Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

P.S. Welcome to members who are joining us this week for the first time! We’re so glad to have you! I recommend at least skimming last week’s newsletter as well, since it contained lots of useful orienting information. You can find it here.

~ ~ ~

Have you made your first payment yet? In case you haven’t yet, here’s another friendly reminder to deliver to us your first CSA payment of the year (either full value or 1/5). If you haven’t mailed your check yet, please bring it with you to pick-up tomorrow!

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables: As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, I’m going to try to focus my attention on a few vegetables each week. If you ever have any questions about what to do with something, you can also ask us at pick-up! All three of us are extremely enthusiastic about cooking and are happy to answer your questions and provide ideas!

  • Cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts — We have been eating a lot of Brussels sprouts lately. They are one of our family’s favorite winter staples. They do require a little bit of extra work on the cutting board, but I’ve gotten this process down to be fairly quick and simple. I use a paring knife (one of my favorite kitchen tools!) to trim off the butt and then slice each sprout in half. At that point, any yellowed outer leaves are extremely easy to just slip off, almost as quickly as you can move the cut sprouts aside. I have a habit of putting my halved Brussels sprouts in water at this point, to remove any soil or buggies — but this year’s sprouts have been so clean that this step is really unnecessary. Once I have a big pile of halved sprouts, I have a choice. Do I want to cook them as halves? This is very delicious — we love roasting halved Brussels sprouts for breakfast (yes, for breakfast!). If you put an even layer in a sheet pan (without overlap), they roast up quite quickly and have a crispy outside. Pan frying halves works well too, although it takes a bit longer and can be helped by a little broth in the pan (cover for a period too to help them sprouts cook through before they start to brown). However, if I’m feeling rich with time, I might cut my sprouts further. Sometimes I even chop them up into fine confetti, which — believe it or not — makes a great salad base. Toss with dressing and top with savory and sweet toppings like cranberries, goat cheese and walnuts. Delicious! Or, I’ll take that chopped Brussels sprouts and saute it up like kale. One of our favorite things is to cook chopped cabbage and Brussels sprouts together. Add chopped carrots too, and you end up with a beautiful mult0colored vegetable base for a stew or as a side-dish on its own. Need I say that such dishes usually involve lots of butter at our house? It’s true.
  • Leaf celery — This variety of celery is grown for its leaf. Why, you ask? Certainly not for making “ants-on-a-log,” which requires stalks. Instead, this is grown for that unique, profoundly awesome celery flavor. Flavor doesn’t even seem to adequately describe what celery brings to a dish. In my experience, celery transforms dishes (especially soups) into something entirely different. When we make stocks and broths, we add some of this leaf celery, and the resulting broth is intensely satisfying. Use it to make a soup that will knock people’s socks off. You can also chop the leaf celery and add it to stuffings or any other number of warming winter dishes.
  • Kohlrabi
  • Winter squash
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Beets
  • Potatoes
  • Apples — This week’s apples are some of our absolute favorite: GOLDRUSH is the variety name. Why do we love them? Let us count the ways: 1. The trees are hardy and disease resistant (great for the organic grower!). 2. The fruit store well all winter long in our cooler. 3. They are delicious! I shared some of these with friends earlier today, and while the children were chomping them up with non-verbal displays of enthusiasm, the parents were all remarking on how unexpectedly wonderful the apples were. They had the idea that a yellow apple would be mushy or flavorless — perhaps this idea comes from the experience of eating Yellow Transparents or other very early yellow apples. Goldrush are nothing like that all — instead they offer a very dense, crisp texture and an incredibly complex flavor with full ranges of sweet and tart. They’re great for fresh eating yet hold up well (flavor and texture-wise) for cooking. Seriously, a wonderful all-around apple. We have extras of these for sale as well.
  • Garlic

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate! We will have some jars for sale for kimchi and such at pick-up, but we know you’ve got loads of empty jars in your pantry already! Also, this week I am going to try to better track individual sales for our records (since it’d be nice to know how much money we are making from, say, lamb versus walnuts) — doing so may add a few extra seconds to each purchase as I do some computer input stuff. Thanks in advance for being patient as I figure it out! Here’s what we’ve got this week for you:

This weekend's special kid activities included making corn pancakes with Papa — our favorite use for our farm made corn flour!

This weekend’s special kid activities included making corn pancakes with Papa — our favorite use for our farm made corn flour!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Kohlrabi “kimchi” — $5 pint; $3 half pint ~ We sold out of our kimchi last week!!!! Hoorah! We were so excited to witness true KIMCHI ENTHUSIASM at work. We’ve got a new batch ready to go. Same recipe!
  • Eggs — $6 dozen ~ We also sold out of eggs very quickly last week. No surprise there since our supply is still coming out of winter mode. The good news is that we have more eggs this week than last week, and that trend should continue!
  • Ground beef — 1 lb packages; $7 ea. ~ These packages of ground beef were also very popular! We still have plenty in the freezer!
  • Lamb roasts — We still have many different cuts available, at varying prices (ranging from $5 – 14 lb). Ask Katie at pick-up to walk you through what’s in the freezer!
  • Beef organs — I forgot to mention this last week — we have organs for sale as well! Beef liver and heart are $6/lb and beef tongue is $8/lb.
  • Lamb organs — Lamb organs are $8/lb. The fine butchers we worked with packed a lamb liver with a lamb heart in tidy little packages. These would make a perfect first introduction to organ meats for the uninitiated. Lamb organs are quite mild in flavor and yet still pack huge nutrition. I saw once a nutritional comparison of various vitamins and minerals in liver versus broccoli — liver was off the charts on everything. We have heard time and time again from folks who claim to have experienced significant boosts in energy and general vibrancy after consuming liver. Not sure how to prepare them? Slice your lamb liver (or heart) thin and pan fry with plenty of butter and some garlic.
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | 1 Comment