Author Archives: Matt E.

Farewell!

Thank you Shareholders for making this a great season for all of the farm staff here at Moose Hill. Please spread the word about our CSA to friends and family and encourage them to register for a share next season in order to recieve delicious food, and save money by not over-relying on the grocery store. We will also be sending out the season-ending survey soon which will offer you the chance to give your feedback. It was in all honesty a pleasure to get to know many of you more as a second year apprentice. Thank you again:)

From left to right: Myself, Lee the farm hand, Mathew the farm manager, and Ryan

Some Tasty Treats And Jams

Here are five very intriguing recipes provided by shareholder Amy Larson. I just recently tried the Zucchini Bread, Zucchini Bread Jam, and the Raspberry Jalepeno Jam that she made; all were absolutely delicious. In parantheses are the sources from which the recipes were taken.

Zucchini Bread (Cooks Illustrated) Yield 1 loaf

1 ½ pounds zucchini, shredded zucchini

1 1.4 cups packed (8 3/4 ounces) brown sugar

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 ½ cups (7 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour

½ cup (2 3/4 ounces) whole-wheat flour

1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

1 ½ tsps salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp ground nutmeg

¾ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)

1 Tbsp granulated sugar

Directions:

Use the large holes of a box grater to shred the zucchini. The test kitchen’s preferred loaf pan measures 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches; if you use a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan, start checking for doneness 5 minutes early.

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan.
  2. Place zucchini in center of dish towel. Gather ends together and twist tightly to drain as much liquid as possible, discarding liquid (you should have 1/2 to 2/3 cup liquid). Whisk brown sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla together in medium bowl. Fold in zucchini.
  3. Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg together in large bowl. Fold in zucchini mixture until just incorporated. Fold in walnuts, if using. Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  4. Bake until top bounces back when gently pressed and toothpick inserted in center comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 65 to 75 minutes. Let bread cool in pan on wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove bread from pan and let cool completely on wire rack. Serve.

Caponata (Cooks Illustrated) Yield 3 cups

Ingredients

1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 7 cups)

¾ tsp kosher salt

¾ cup vegetable juice, preferably V8 (see note)

¼ cup red wine vinegar, plus extra for seasoning (see note)

2 Tbsps light brown sugar

¼ cup minced fresh parsley leaves

1 ½  tsps minced anchovy fillets (2 to 3 fillets)

8 ounces ripe tomatoes (2 medium), cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1 cup)

¼ cup raisins

2 Tbsps minced black olives

2 Tbsps extra-virgin olive oil

1 celery rib, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1/2 cup)

1 small red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1/2 cup)

1 small onion, diced fine (about 1/2 cup)

¼ cup pine nuts, toasted

Instructions:

  1. Toss eggplant and salt together in medium bowl. Line entire surface of large microwave-safe plate with double layer of coffee filters and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Spread eggplant in even layer over coffee filters. Microwave on high power until eggplant is dry and shriveled to one-third of its size, 8 to 15 minutes (eggplant should not brown). (If microwave has no turntable, rotate plate after 5 minutes.) Remove eggplant from microwave and immediately transfer to paper towel-lined plate.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk vegetable juice, vinegar, brown sugar, parsley, and anchovies together in medium bowl. Stir in tomatoes, raisins, and olives.
  3. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, until edges are browned, 4 to 8 minutes, adding 1 tsp oil if pan appears dry. Transfer to bowl and set aside.
  4. Add remaining 2 tsps oil to now-empty skillet and heat until shimmering. Add celery and red pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and edges are spotty brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Add onion and continue to cook until vegetables are browned, about 4 minutes longer.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low; stir in eggplant and vegetable juice mixture. Bring to simmer and cook until vegetable juice is thickened and coats vegetables, 4 to 7 minutes. Transfer to serving bowl and cool to room temperature. Taste and season with up to 1 tsp additional vinegar. Sprinkle with pine nuts before serving.

Zucchini Bread Jam (The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving) Yield four half-pint jars

Ingredients

4 cups shredded zucchini or yellow summer squash

1 cups apple juice or apple cider

6 Tbsp Ball Classic Pectin (powder, should be available in grocery stores and Walmart)

¼ c golden raisins

1 Tbsp bottled lemon juice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

3 cups sugar – you cannot substitute a sugar-free product because the pectin won’t activate

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients except sugar in a six-qt stainless steel or enameled Dutch oven. Over high heat and stirring constantly, bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.
  2. Add sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.
  3. Ladle hot jam into hot ½ pint jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band, and adjust to fingertip-tight. Place jar in boiling-water canner. Repeat with all jars.
  4. Process jars 15 minutes. Turn off heat. Remove lid and let jars stand five minutes before removing them to cool.

You can skip the canning process, but you will have to keep the jam refrigerated.

Raspberry Jalepeno Jam Yield about 8 half-pint jars

Ingredients

2 red peppers, diced

14 – 20 jalepenos diced. If you like it hot, keep some ribs and seeds.

1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar

2 cups frozen raspberries

2 six-ounce liquid pectin envelopes (I use Sure Jell over Ball. One box has two packets)

Instructions:

  1. Combine peppers, raspberries, sugar and vinegar in a pot and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer for 10 minutes. Bring to a full rollig boil, and boil exactly one minute, stirring constantly.
  2. Add pectin quickly, return to a full rolling boil and boil exactly one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Ladle hot jam into hot ½ pint jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band, and adjust to fingertip-tight. Place jar in boiling-water canner. Repeat with all jars.
  4. Process jars 15 minutes. Turn off heat. Remove lid and let jars stand five minutes before removing them to cool.

Pickled Egg and Beet Salad (Emeril Lagasse) Yield 1 quart

Ingredients

1 pound red beets, stems and leaves removed

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns

1/8 tsp pickling spice

6 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled

1 small yellow onion, peeled and sliced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

Fresh dill sprigs, garnish

Sliced French bread, as an accompaniment

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Wrap the beets tightly in aluminum foil and roast until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven, uncover, and let sit until cool enough to handle. When cool, slip the skins from the beets and cut into eighths.
  3. In a non-reactive saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, peppercorns, and pickling spice. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let sit for 2 hours for the flavors to develop. Add the eggs, onions, garlic, and beets and turn to coat evenly. Cover tightly and refrigerate, turning occasionally, until the eggs are a deep pink color, at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
  4. To serve, remove the eggs, beets, and onions from the marinade and arrange on a platter. Garnish with sprigs of dill and serve with sliced French bread.

 

 

A Few Important Announcements

The season is winding down folks! This upcoming week will be the final week of distribution, with Monday October 2nd being the very last pickup day. Yes it is very sad to see this come to an end. Please expect there to be a less than ideal quantity of produce for this last week, seeing that many crops such as winter squash, potatoes, and broccoli are all but finished.

In other news, our season ending potluck will be held on Sunday October 1st from noon until 2:00 pm at the Moose Hill Nature Center picnic area; 293 Moose Hill parkway. All shareholders are welcome to bring family and friends, and a dish of their choice. Please RSVP to moosehillcsa@massaudubon.org, or by replying to the weekly emails.

Lastly I wanted to say how great of a year this has been, and that we all appreciate the compliments and feedback many of you have been giving. We will be sending out the end of the year survey after next week, which will give you the chance to communicate all of your suggestions and feedback regarding this past season, as well as next season. We certainly take these surveys into consideration when planning what crops to grow next season, so make sure  your voice gets heard!

Potato Kosher Recipes

Here are some very interesting potato Kosher recipes courtesy of shareholder Arlene J. Mathes-Scharf. These recipes are taken straight from her website; www.kashrut.com. Enjoy!

POTATO LATKES

Ingredients

  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled or scrubbed (keep in water to prevent browning)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons flour
  • Oil for frying (cooking spray for low-fat latkes)
  • applesauce or sour cream (optional)

Directions

  1. Grate potatoes (by hand or with food processor)
  2. Add onion,eggs, salt, pepper and flour
  3. Mix well
  4. Pour enough oil to cover pan
  5. Fry the batter by heaping tablespoons in oil
  6. Top with applesauce or sour cream

Alternative Directions for Low-fat latkes

  1. Grate potatoes (by hand or with food processor)
  2. Add onion,eggs, salt, pepper and flour
  3. Mix well
  4. Spray cookie sheet with cooking oil spray
  5. Place heaping tablespoon portions on cookie tray
  6. Spray again with cooking oil spray
  7. Bake at 450 degrees F. till top is browned, flip and bake if needed.
  8. Top with applesauce or sour cream

Potato Kugel 

ingredients
6 medium potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped finely
3 to 4 tbsp matza meal
1 carrot, chopped finely (optional)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp baking powder (optional)
2 eggs

directions
preheat oven to 425oF.
Grate  potatoes
Place in bowl with rest of ingredients except oil
Put oil in baking pan, heat for 5 minutes.
Add potato mixture to oil (carefully)
bake for 10 minutes at 425oF.
Reduce heat to 350oF and bake for 45 minutes.

 

Some Good Lookin Veggies

Just wanted to share some photos of a few new crops that have come into the picture, as well as provide a look at what’s on the horizon. Due to a generous planting of beans, tomatoes, and broccoli this season, we have been bringing in quite a bounty week after week! As you can see below, butternut squash will be ready soon, while our acorn and delicata was just harvested this past week. The first two photos here of acorn squash and peppers were taken by shareholder Christine Malboeuf, and I simply couldn’t help but share them!

 

Our recently harvested acorn and delicata squash shining bright!

The many colors of hot (right), and lunchbox peppers (left)

Delicious butternut is looking good and soon to be ready for harvest!

Acorn squash that was harvested today

Last week the Ward’s crew uplifted loads of potatoes from below the soil using their potato lifter device, resulting in a total of 58 crates worth of potatoes that we harvested that day!

As if it had lipstick on

Gazpacho And Storage Tips

Here are some quick storage tips and a recipe for gazpacho which utilizes several of our veggies at distribution. This is a great way to use your tomatoes if you don’t have the time to make sauce. Enjoy!

Corn: Store uncovered in the fridge with husks still remaining. Cooler temperatures below 40 degrees will prevent the sugars in the corn from turning to starch.

Tomatoes: Here is some interesting information I read regarding storing tomatoes. Many people have experimented with the effect of this, and have found that it is best to only store fully ripe tomatoes in the fridge, and anything less than fully ripe in a cooler environment between 55 and 70 degrees if possible. They should keep for a day or two in this environment. The reason for this is that the flavor-producing enzymes – which develop during the ripening process – are affected by cooler temperatures. Because tomatoes originally came from a warm climate, their flavor development, coloration, and mealy texture can be affected if stored in the fridge too soon. Fully ripe tomatoes however, don’t seem to benefit from hotter temperatures since their enzyme activity has significantly slowed. Some of their flavor can still be revitalized though if allowed to recover at room temperature for a day or two after refrigeration.

Watermelons: Keep whole melons at room temperature, refrigerate and wrap tightly once cut.

Cantaloupe: Refrigerate whole cantaloupe once fully ripe for up to five days. Sliced cantaloupe without seeds will store for 1 – 2 days in a resealable container, yet if the seeds remain intact it should last up to 3 days since the seeds prevent the cantaloupe from drying out right away.

Gazpacho Recipe

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Serves 8
Ingredients
  • 6 ripe tomatoes (about 3 lbs), peeled and chopped (yielding about 6 cups)
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper (or green) seeded and chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (more may be needed to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes, add to taste)
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 6 or more drops of Tabasco sauce to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (omit for vegan or vegetarian option)
  • 2 cups tomato juice (or 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes if you don’t have tomato juice)
Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Use an immersion blender or blend in batches, to desired smoothness. Some prefer gazpacho somewhat chunky, in which case you can pulse just a few times in the blender.
Adjust seasonings to taste.

Place in a non-reactive container (tomatoes are acidic) to store. Chill several hours or overnight to allow the flavors to blend.

Gazpacho

Reference:
simplyrecipes.com, Gazpacho
realsimple.com, Fresh Pick: Cantaloupe
food52.com, How to keep tomatoes fresh for longer
womansday.com, Watermelon 101
livestrong.com, How to store corn on the cob

CSA Pickup: Week 13

Delicious melons are here! Quite a bounty we have for this week. Garlic has been finished , yet we have new cucumbers on the horizon. While corn is ready for today (Monday), we are transitioning from one batch of corn to another batch, thus we may not have corn for 1 or 2 days this week. Here is this week’s list:

  • Watermelon & Musk Melons/Cantaloupe
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell Peppers
  • Hot Peppers
  • Lunchbox sweet peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Kale
  • Beets
  • Squash
  • Beans
  • Potatoes
  • Pick your own flowers
  • Pick your own cherry tomatoes

Monday is fish pickup for those of you with fish.

As always, we are selling pasture raised beef from the Trustees, spices from Organic Green Kitchen, Moose Hill Community Farm cookbooks, and our delicious honey!

 

The Impact of Organic Farming

One of the greatest aspects of working at the CSA is the opportunity to meet so many interesting people who feel the need to support the production of locally sourced food. In my mind, one of the main incentives for being a part of a CSA  is the benefits that truly “organically run” agriculture provides to the environment and to public health. I have been reading a lot about soil science lately and the numerous effects that quality soil (or not so quality) can have on not just the nutritional value of our veggies, but also on the ecology of the entire surrounding environment.

There are numerous elements and compounds that good soil must be composed of in order for a variety of micro-organisms to survive. When certain organisms such as the all-important earthworm are either over-populated, or under-populated in soil, this can severely affect the bio-diversity of soil and a plant’s immune system. Plants usually contain certain “anti-microbial substances” that are produced when they receive any sign that they are under attack by a pest. This phenomenon is called “induced resistance,” in which the plant will create hormones and proteins that help defend itself and enhance its immune system. These hormones have also shown to be stimulated when exposed to a variety of both harmful and harmless entities that are more abundant in soils high in organic matter. Thus the more natural and diversified the makeup of your compost is, the stronger your’s plants entire system will be, and the better it will taste!

In terms of what our farm crew has been witnessing in the fields, we have seen certain beneficial insects preying on the Colorado potato beetle pest in our eggplant. These insects can also be “signaled” by a crop releasing certain chemicals into the air which alert them that it’s prey is here. The corn rootworm is another common pest (which some of you may have seen already at pickup), that can be controlled when the roots of certain varieties of corn release a chemical that attracts nematodes, which can infect and kill rootworm larvae. Unfortunately, during the process of breeding certain varieties of corn over the past century in the U.S, this ability to signal the beneficial nematode has been all but lost.

Here are the eggs of the Colorado Potato Beetle pest on our eggplant. Grrrrrr

A look at the remains of colorado potato beetle eggs after being decimated by possibly the stink bug or lady beetle – 2 common predators that feed on these eggs.

Optimal soil health not only contributes to stronger, and much more nutritious vegetables, but it can be much more cost-effective in the long run when a plant’s resistance abilities act as a form of pest management. Various pesticides may eliminate the immediate threat of a pest, but they can consequently affect the health of a variety of other organisms within the soil, which can drastically change soil structure and plant health in a negative way. A reactionary “quick-fix” approach to growing food may help increase production, yet in the long-run in can actually be much more expensive due to the heavy reliance on pesticides and fertilizers.

When running an organic operation, the survival of our crops, and thus the entire CSA, truly depend on the ecological conditions to function well. If there isn’t a sufficient amount of organic matter integrated into the soil, then chances of extreme weather such as heavy rain or long droughts weakening and eroding the soil are much higher. Last year for example, we still managed to produce high amounts of produce during a drought which caused numerous farms in Massachusetts to suffer tremendously. This is truly a testament to the strength of our soil and quality, nutrient layden compost tha Wards Berry farm is producing. Moreover, one of the most striking differences between soil that has higher amounts of organic matter versus soil that doesn’t, is the amount of carbon that can be stored in it. Not often mentioned in relation to the carbon cycle, is the fact that there is as much carbon in six inches of topsoil with 1% organic matter as there is in the atmosphere above a field. If organic matter decreases by 1%, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could double. In fact, carbon stored in all the worlds soils is over three times the amount in the atmosphere. The way in which we deforest our land or farm the soil, has had and will continue to have drastic impacts on climate change and the quality of the air that we breathe. While we may not always think about some of these issues when going food shopping, the impacts that our buying-decisions have are consequential and real!

 

Reference:

Building Soils For Better Crops, 2009, 3rd edition

CSA Pickup: Week 12

A very bountiful pickup awaits! Corn and tomatoes are coming in very strong, yet we are still awaiting our melons, collard greens, cauliflower, and second planting of cucumbers to be ready for pickup.

Hers is this week’s list:

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Squash
  • Corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Hot Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Potatoes
  • Green Beans
  • Beets
  • Kale
  • PYO cherry tomatoes
  • PYO zinnias

Monday is fish pickup for those of you with fish.

As always, we are selling pasture raised beef from the Trustees, spices from Organic Green Kitchen, Moose Hill Community Farm cookbooks, and our delicious honey!

CSA Pickup: Week 11

Tomatoes Tomatoes are finally here! A very bountiful harvest awaits this week with several crops coming in healthy and plentiful. While we were able to pull in one harvest of potatoes last week, we may have to wait a bit more before the remaining potatoes reach their ideal size. Here is this week’s list…

  • Swiss Chard
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Cucumbers
  • Squash & Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Bell Peppers
  • Hot Peppers
  • Sunflowers
  • Tatsoi
  • Kale
  • Green Beans
  • Corn
  • Pick Your Own Cherry Tomatoes

Monday is fish pickup for those of you with fish.

As always, we are selling pasture raised beef from the Trustees, spices from Organic Green Kitchen, Moose Hill Community Farm cookbooks, and our delicious honey!