Wednesday, July 31, 2013

CSA Week #6

Week 6 boxes have been delivered, and they were colorful boxes! We are one-third of the way through our delivery season and it has been a great season so far. Check out the newsletter for a beet chocolate cake recipe!

In the boxes: Dragon's Tongue wax beans, red cabbage, beets, swiss chard, bunching onions, carrots, yellow onions, zucchini, paprika sweet pepper, yellow and green cucumbers.

CSA Newsletter Week #6

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Seasonal Cook :: Carrots

Courtesy of The Land Connection...

Carrots: Nutritional Powerhouse

Colorful Carrot SaladRed, black, yellow, white, purple, green, these were the colors that wild carrots (also known as Queen Anne's Lace) started out being “ pretty much every color but orange! First cultivated in Afghanistan in the 7th century, the original domesticated carrot was purple outside and yellow inside, similar to the Purple Dragon carrots you see at local farmers markets.

Colorful and Diverse

In the 1600's, the Dutch developed the orange carrot, but it was the French horticulturist Vilmorin-Andrieux who took the stubby Dutch carrot, and through crosses with wild carrots, finally produced the elongated, bright orange root we know today.

Now, when you buy from local farmers, you can get delicious carrots in all the colors of the rainbow. Along with different colors, you'll find carrots of all shapes and sizes. Along with old favorites like Nantes, Imperator, and Danvers, there are tiny, almost round Thumbelinas, squatty Chantenays, and the long, elegant, light yellow Kimbi.

Healthy and Powerful

It nearly goes without saying that carrots are good for you. How many times were you implored, "Eat your carrots! They're good for your eyes!"
With a whopping dose of vitamin A (about 8,000 units per carrot) and lots of beta-carotene and other anti-oxidants, carrots are a nutritional powerhouse. They are also packed with high levels of potassium, calcium, and phosphorus, which help keep bones, nerves, and muscles functioning well. But the ocular claim is dubious.

According to Jane Grigson, the great English cookbook writer, during World War II, in order to encourage the consumption of carrots, one of the few foodstuffs not in short supply, the British authorities spread the rumor that fighter pilots consumed vast quantities of carrots to enable them to see in the dark. And from that propaganda, countless mothers on both sides of the Atlantic have implored countless children to eat their carrots.

Farm Fresh Fighters

Today it is more often nutritionists and physicians who implore us to eat our carrots - not to enhance our vision but to enhance our general health. The carotenes in carrots and many other vegetables work their wonders by destroying oxygen free radicals. This anti-oxidant effect helps fight cancers, enhance immune response, and protect cells against UV radiation.

But when it comes to carotenes, not all carrots are created equal. One of the most widely overlooked factors behind variation in nutrient levels of vegetables is the variety, or cultivar, of the vegetable. Robert Shewfelt, a food scientist at the University of Georgia, reported that carotene levels in any given vegetable often vary by a factor of 20, depending on the cultivar. And it's usually your local farmers who grow the most nutritious cultivars. So get some great carrots, munch them whole, or try them in a soup, salad, or this light and lively slaw.

Colorful Carrot Salad

You can make this light meal in minutes. Just grate the carrots, toss with oil and lemon juice, then put a heaping spoonful on a cracker, biscuit, or crusty, hot bread. Add another drizzle of olive oil, and another pinch of herbs for a mouthwatering treat of contrasting textures and flavors. Who says food can't be simple, beautiful, healthy, and delicious all at the same time?


1 pound carrots (any color), peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley (or tarragon or herb(s) of your choice)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Buttery crackers, small biscuits or hot, crusty baguettes, for serving.


  1. Cut carrots into matchstick pieces and transfer to a bowl.
  2. Whisk the lemon juice and oil together, pour over carrots, and toss. Add parsley and toss again. Then add salt and pepper to taste.
Seasonal Cook's Notes:
Serves 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a main course. The more different varieties of carrots you use, the more delicious, nutritious, and beautiful this dish will be. You can eat it as a salad, or serve on crackers, biscuits or bread.

The best way to enjoy healthy, seasonal produce is to buy it from your local community farmer. To locate the farmers' market or CSA nearest you, visit
Farm Fresh Now! is a project of The Land Connection, an educational nonprofit that preserves farmland, trains new farmers, and connects people with great locally-grown foods. This series is made possible with generous support from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

CSA Week #5

That was a full box! I almost couldn't get it closed :) We are headed into the season of abundance, with the first tomatoes harvested, and peppers, melons and squash growing larger every day!

In the Week #5 box: Celery, kale, bunching onions, wax beans, cucumbers, onions, beets, carrots, broccoli, basil, parsley, potatoes. Half shares also included: swiss chard, zucchini.

Link to CSA Newsletter

John harvesting potatoes for CSA.
Harvesting potatoes!

Gorgeous St. Valery carrots. The CSA boxes packed and ready to deliver!

CSA Week #5 Box • July 23, 2013

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Barley Harvest July 27th

Saturday, July 27 • Hand-harvesting Barley Volunteer Work Day // Potluck

Come help us hand-harvest our barley crop anytime throughout our workday, then stay for a potluck.

Volunteer and John hand-harvesting wheat in 2012.
Harvest: from 10am-5pm volunteers will help with hand-harvesting, binding (sheaving) and shocking the grain. Water will be provided all day, please bring your own lunch.

Potluck: From 5-7 we will enjoy a potluck to celebrate the harvest and our hard work. We will provide water, soda and a hot grill--please bring a dish to share, and your own meat for the grill, if you like.

Bring: sunscreen, bug spray. Long-sleeves and pants are recommended.

RSVP for the event to

Oats, post-harvest 2012, shocks in the field.

Shocks of oats (2012).

Friday, July 19, 2013

{ARF} Events and such

Throughout the year and we participate in events on and off the farm. You can watch our Events page for what we have coming up--markets, workshops and volunteer work days. We are looking forward to the MLC Day of Play again this year--it was a great family event last year.

Events Page

John working with volunteers at our
apple harvest volunteer work day. It's
family friendly!

John at the MLC Day of Play with apples!

Seasonal Cook :: Basil

Basil Rules

Basil Tomato Mozzarella SaladAhhh, basil! Even the word carries a whiff of its invigorating scent.

But it's the aromatic leaves themselves that contain dozens of volatile essential oils. Their relative concentration is the difference between "regular" Genovese basil, Thai basil, Lemon basil, Holy Basil, Cinnamon Basil, African Basil and all the other basils you'll find your local farmer growing.

There are a few rules to remember when buying and using basil.

Rule #1: Use only the freshest basil. The fresher it is, the better it is. The fragrance of basil is never as seductive as when it is first plucked from a live plant and eaten raw, as quickly as possible after plucking. This is why you should think about having a pot of basil of your own - on the kitchen window sill or in your back yard. The next best thing is to get basil from a local farmer at a Farmer's Market or through a CSA.

Rule #2: Don't cook basil - don't even heat it up if you can help it. When adding basil to a pasta sauce or a pizza, do so only at the last minute, while tossing with the pasta or after the pizza has emerged from the oven. Basil pesto too, should always be used raw, never warmed up or cooked.

Rule #3: Stay away from knives. The cut edges of basil will blacken and the overall flavor will be diminished. Instead, simply use whole leaves or tear large leaves into small pieces with your hands before scattering them over a tomato salad, mashing them into a basil butter for corn on the cob, sprinkling on green bean salads, or roasted eggplant, zucchini, or peppers. For more summer fun, experiment with the many scented and colored basils that farmers are now bringing to market, including lemon, anise, Thai, cinnamon, and purple basils.

Rule #4: Use basil only in the summer. This relates back to Rule #1, bringing us full circle. Basil is the ultimate summer herb. Its rich perfume evokes warm sunny days and mouthwatering combinations with other summer vegetables - tomatoes, zucchini, peppers. Sure, you can get it year-round in the grocery store, but like tomatoes, basil tends to be insipid when grown in a greenhouse or flown in from California. Some things in life are definitely worth the wait. Basil is one of them.

Basil Caprese Salad


Several sprigs of basil (use a variety of types!)
4-6 tomatoes (use a variety of colors)
1 pound of fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 Tbsp balsamic glaze
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste


  1. Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella into 1/4 in. slices
  2. Tear leaves off of the basil sprigs
  3. Alternate tomato, mozzarella, and basil leaves
  4. Top with olive oil, more basil leaves (and flowers if you have them), balsamic glaze, and sprinkle with salt

Seasonal Cook's Notes:

Makes about 4 individual salads

Courtesy of The Land Connection

The best way to enjoy healthy, seasonal produce is to buy it from your local community farmer. To locate the farmers' market or CSA nearest you, visit
Farm Fresh Now! is a project of The Land Connection, an educational nonprofit that preserves farmland, trains new farmers, and connects people with great locally-grown foods. This series is made possible with generous support from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

CSA Week #4

Delivering the Week 4 boxes brings us a quarter of the way through our season. These first four weeks have gone fast! 

In the Week 4 boxes: Basil, yellow and green cucumbers, Pirat butterhead lettuce, Swiss chard, Red Russian kale (half shares), dragon's tongue wax beans (full shares), broccoli (half shares), snap peas, snow peas, new potatoes, kohlrabi, table onions, chives and mint.

CSA Newsletter Week #4

Look at this bumble bee! Amazing pollinators :)

{Field-to-Table} Swiss Chard Gratin

Swiss Chard Leaf
Swiss chard is a wonderful vegetable, that is more versatile than you may think. Young, tender leaves are used in mixed salad greens, mature leaves are cooked. You may substitute chard in any recipe that calls for spinach. In the garden it grows beautifully and abundantly, and provides all season, even through a light frost.
A bunch of Fordhook Giant heirloom swiss chard.
One of our favorite ways to use this fresh veggie is by making a chard gratin with the leaves. 

Here's some pics of our latest gratin. Follow this LINK to get the full recipe.

Removing the stems (midrib).
Homemade bread crumbs (large-sized, more like croutons)
and parboiling chard. 
Chard being parboiled. It will turn a bright green.

Gratin, ready to eat!

Swiss chard gratin, garlicy chicken (made with fresh parsley), and fresh beans cooked in a foil pack on the grill (along side the chicken) seasoned with fresh dill. Yum!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

CSA Week #3

Our Week #3 boxes have been delivered. At this time you can start to see a change from spring veggies to summer, heat-loving veggies. We are excited to be offering more herbs in the boxes this year--our members will be able to try out different herbs throughout the growing season. Here's a snapshot of delivery day.

CSA Box Week #3 • July 9, 2013
This weeks box included: Green cabbage, shell peas, snow peas, beet with greens, broccoli, yellow and green cucumbers, garlic scapes, kale, new potatoes, zucchini (full shares), carrots, dill and tarragon.

CSA Newsletter Week #3

Early morning storm approaching.
When we went outside in the morning to begin harvesting we could hear the thunder, and see the lightning off in the distance. We got a nice little rain for a while, which made for muddy harvest.

Brooke harvesting carrots.
We had our first harvests of carrots, beets and potatoes!

Detroit Dark Red heirloom beets.
Setting up for packing our CSA boxes.

The assembly line.
Cucumbers, zucchini and flowers.
 Ta-da! CSA boxes packed and ready to go.

How fortunate I am that I get to drive up to the beautiful Schell's Brewery each week for delivery. I love seeing this fancy peacocks!

Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Seasonal Cook: Cabbage

Courtesy of The Land Connection, a lovely bit on cabbage...

Cabbage Rehabilitated

Sweet and Tangy Herbed Cabbage SaladThe humble and much-maligned cabbage has a lot to live down. William Connor summed up its horrors in 1950, decade of the overcooked vegetable: "Boiled cabbage a l'Anglaise is something compared with which steamed coarse newsprint bought from bankrupt Finnish salvage dealers and heated over smoky oil stoves is an exquisite delicacy."

Poor Mr. Connor! He was obviously not buying fresh cabbage from his local farmer. If he had been, he would have been singing a different tune; noting how sweet, crisp, and clean-tasting cabbage is, and how irresistible in a simple salad, slaw, or stir-fry.

A Vegetable of the Gods

Unlike Mr. Connor, the ancient Greeks adored cabbage, and invoked Zeus, king of the gods, to describe its origin. One story goes that Zeus was struggling to explain two oracles that contradicted each other, began to sweat from the effort, and from a drop of his divine perspiration, a cabbage miraculously sprang up.
Since that first cabbage, hundreds of other varieties have sprung up. At farmers markets you'll see cabbages in many shades of red and green, and in many shapes and sizes, from pointy-headed mini-cabbages, to flattened orbs, to crinkly-leaved Savoy, Chinese, and Napa cabbages.

Divinely Healthy

Nutritionally speaking, cabbage is indeed a divine vegetable-low in calories and high in fiber, minerals (calcium, manganese, and potassium), and vitamins. In fact a serving of cabbage has as much vitamin C as an orange, but far fewer calories. Cabbage is also high in Vitamins A, E, K, and B6, and in the cancer-fighting antioxidants beta carotene and sulforaphane. Like all vegetables, cabbage begins to lose its valuable nutrients as soon as it is harvested, so it's best from your own backyard garden, or from your local farmer.

Sweet and Tangy Herbed Cabbage Salad

There are as many variations of coleslaw as there are cooks, so feel free to adapt this recipe according to your tastes, and what's in your refrigerator. Start with sliced or grated cabbage, then add a spicy salad green such as arugula or mizuna, an herb (dill, parsley, cilantro, or mint), and some chopped vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, onions, peppers-sweet or hot). If you want to go all out, add some fruit (apples, oranges, mango, grapes), toasted nuts (peanuts, cashews), and meat (grilled chicken or shrimp)-and you'll have a healthy, delicious meal-in-a-bowl.


4 cups thinly sliced cabbage (green, red, savoy, and/or Napa)
1 cup loosely packed herb, such as parsley, cilantro, or dill
Other thinly sliced vegetables, fruits, or nuts of your choice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons honey
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Thinly slice the cabbage, and any other vegetable such as carrots or peppers that you have on hand. Chop the herbs. Toss all together in a large bowl.
  2. For the dressing, combine the oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Whisk in a bowl, or put in a screw-top jar and shake well.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate. Toss again before serving.

Seasonal Cook's Notes:

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish.

Creative Commons LicenseThe Land Connection Foundation
The best way to enjoy healthy, seasonal produce is to buy it from your local community farmer. To locate the farmers' market or CSA nearest you,
Farm Fresh Now! is a project of The Land Connection, an educational nonprofit that preserves farmland, trains new farmers, and connects people with great locally-grown foods. This series is made possible with generous support from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

CSA Week #2

John with cabbage.
 Week #2 boxes boasted new goodies--the first cabbage, delicious spring garlic scapes and fresh herbs. It was a busy day of harvest, with the peas really producing now--we are picking pounds at a time!

2013 CSA Box Week 2 • July 2, 2013
Week 2 Boxes Include: beet greens, Amish Snap peas, Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage, green and red romaine lettuce, swiss chard, parsley, basil, chives, celery and garlic scapes.

Herbs ready for packing.
 Fresh herbs in the box this week. Here they are bundled and ready to pack in boxes.

Amish Snap Peas
Peas, in pint containers, ready for our CSA customers!

Fresh goodies!