Thursday, August 4, 2011

Josh & Bri's Veggies CSA Newsletter; Volume 1 Issue 7

August 2, 2011
Naturally grown food for those dear

Kokofriendzy!

Hello sweaty fellows. We have been enjoying a significant siesta most days, while the garden either flourishes or founders in this heat. Squash bugs, vine borers, cabbage worms and flea beetles have certainly won many battles, but due to our diversity we still have a garden. Borers are the worst by far; taking entire squash plants, including my beloved Blue Hubbards. After a glorious three-day weekend in Louisville to visit Josh’s parents and many friends, the garden was a bit depressing. The summer squash, despite all our surgical efforts to save it, still wants to consume paths and scratch our legs up, some vermin of the night has been stealing our most perfect tomatoes and leaving them half-eaten in the path.
Just as I was plotting my late-night ambush of said suspected vermin, Josh arrived from the island garden with the sweet scent of our first melon. Beautiful, deep orange flesh, and superbly sweet. As if that weren’t enough to brighten my day, we decided to grabble potatoes. A few minutes later we un-hayed a nice harvest of Chieftan (pink) and Purple Viking new potatoes. SautĂ©ed to a crisp in lard, mm, nothing like it. Not only cheering me in the taste category, the garden has amazed me in her ability to face other pests, weather and other difficulties of summer. The cucumber plants look sad, but still produce enough to fill a four gallon crock of pickles twice per week (if we had the space to make that many), the tomatillos have split branches due to our insufficient trellising, but are still laden with deep purple fruit, and the parsnips act as if it weren’t 40degrees above their most tolerable climate. And I could never walk into a garden with towering sunflowers and not smile. If this is to be the worst month of the season, I’ll still take it.
Before I lose your attention I better explain the headline, Kokofriendzy! The farm we live on, Kokovoko, is owned by Leslie Bebensee and Kokofriendzy is her annual farm party. This year is extra special as it is also her mortgage burning party! This is her 22nd year here, and Josh and my’s 1st, but we still hope to have a few of you over to celebrate as well. This will be neither tame nor uptight, so don’t come if you’re either. Anyone planning on drinking is welcome (or forced) to camp out. BYOB, a dish to share, something to sleep on or in, a water bottle, and of course, RSVP beforehand. This will be a good time for those that haven’t to see the garden, but you are also welcome any other time too. We are hoping for a special CSA’s end harvest get-together in October-ish (?) as well, but I’ll send more info on that as the season winds down.
Now onto tangible goodies, for those near, we do have plenty of pickles available, $5 a pint. Let us know what kind you like as we have both mild and sour batches. Another round of sauerkraut is in the crock now and it’s $7 a pint. We have also been trying our hands at pesto - not a lacto fermented product, but certainly delicious, available for $7 a half pint. The pesto ingredients are as follows: homegrown basil, homegrown garlic, olive oil, parmesan, walnuts. We make it fresh and then freeze it so it will be good thawed in the fridge for a week or two (though no good pesto should be left uneaten for more than a day-it’s too delicious to resist!) We enjoy it tossed on pasta or on bread with fresh tomato, tossed with roasted new potatoes, it’s pretty much like butter, just put it on anything. And don’t forget you get $1 off your next jar of anything if you bring your old jar back. Also on the inventory – beef! Today we had a beautiful Jersey steer slaughtered on the farm, and in two weeks we will have far more meat than we can fit in our freezer. He was grass fed here at Kokovoko, and even the butcher assures us Jersey meat is the most flavorful, even when compared to traditional beef breeds. The price will be determined after he is hung, but if you are interested in a half or any particular cuts, please let us know!

That’s all I’ve got for now, hoping for a cool week!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Josh & Bri's Veggies CSA Newsletter; Volume 1 Issue 6

July 11, 2011

Naturally grown food for those dear

Fermentation edition!

Before I get around to all the exciting live cultures getting jiggy in our crocks, some CSA news. The baskets are growing every week and we hope you’re all enjoying your vegetables. This week will include your first share of Benning’s Green Tint Patty Pan Squash and Romanesco Zucchini. The Mexican Sour Gherkin or Mouse Melon is also catching up to the cucumbers and ready for harvest. They look exactly like a watermelon for the mouse household but taste like a slightly sour cucumber. Broccoli is coming along nicely despite the heat. You may have noticed that the broccoli looks a bit different from what you’re used to! This is intentional. The variety is Piricicaba and is bred to produce many small, tender shoots. The standard supermarket broccoli head is bred for that one ginormous cutting. We have ceased including herbs such as dill and mint; we still have them available but will put them in baskets by request only. We also have horse radish available upon request.

Since I’ve gotten inquiries I’d like to let everyone know we have one available share left for the season. Distribution would begin the week of July 17th and run 14 weeks; at $25 per week that will make a total of $350. Let us know if you’re interested!

And now, onto fermentation! The pickles that we put in the CSA baskets last week were our first fermented food of the season. Fermented foods are basically any food that is flavored and preserved by some microorganism- in the case of our pickles, its mostly Lacto Bacillus, the same bacteria that makes yogurt out of milk. These bacteria are present everywhere; all you have to do is give them the right conditions, and they will culture the vegetables on their own.

Sandor Ellix Katz, who wrote our book on fermentation and live-cultured foods, says:

“Sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles will not cure every ailment, but they will contribute to overall well-being. Whether you are the healthiest person in the world, are facing a life-threatening health crisis, are living with a chronic disease, or are just aging like everyone else, live culture (unpasteurized) fermented foods improve digestion, absorption of nutrients (especially minerals), and immune function. Fermenting vegetables preserves them with their nutrients intact, “predigests” those nutrients into more accessible forms, and generates additional nutrients, both vitamins and obscure micronutrients only just beginning to be identified and understood.

Live ferments also contain lactobacilli and other related bacteria, which repopulate and diversify the intestinal microflora. . . Bacteria are not our enemies; however, our culture has declared a foolish all-out war on them, overdeploying antibiotic drugs, chlorinated water and antibacterial cleaning products. The war on bacteria is like the war on terror or the war on drugs: an unwinnable exercise in futility. . . Medical science has documented the healing power of live cultures in hundreds of controlled studies, and today probiotics are among the fastest-growing segments of the nutritional supplement market. But any nutrient you can obtain in a pill or a powder you can get better from a whole food. Fermenting with spontaneously occurring local organisms integrates us into the web of life of our environment and adapts us to the local microbial ecology.”

Rather than continuing to quote the whole book I’ll just highly recommend that you read both Wild Fermentation; The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods and The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved; Inside America’s Underground Food Movements because they are both invaluable to any conscious person. To sum it up; fermentation kicks ass! A process which transforms raw foods not only into something more delicious, but more nutritious! I tried my hands at sauerkraut for the first time last year, primarily because we had nearly 400 feet of cabbage ready to rot in the field and in desperate need of a cool shelf, or better yet, a salty crock. Long story short, with a mess of other veggies, we made some big crocks of beautiful lacto fermented sauerkraut, much to the appeal of the house and our market customers (my kraut actually got Josh and I lots of free chocolate and a joy ride on a small plane-no joke). This year we could hardly wait. Cabbages were literally the first seeds my hands put in the ground of Kentucky. That was in February, and two weeks ago I was finally able to get my hands tamping again. This first gorgeous batch is out and delectable. We have a limited supply – ten pints – since cabbage worms took their own CSA share. We’ll have a mid-summer kraut as well, but the real treat will be winter kraut and kimchi. After a few frosts we’ll be harvesting much happier cabbage, carrots, radishes and the like for slower, sweeter ferments.

And then we tried pickles. I, unfortunately, hate pickles. Dill makes me want to run, and pickles just make me want to run faster. However, I do love to make pickles, and Josh loves them enough for the both of us. Our first vat of these lovelies came out last week and were eaten up in no time. We held out enough to give all our CSA customers a jar to sample, and thus far the response has been wonderful. Josh filled a crock today with just three day’s worth of cucumbers so I can assure you there will be plenty available to purchase. Pickles are $5 a pint, sauerkraut, due to limited supply, is $7 a pint. $1 off your next pint of either if you bring your jar back!

There is no vinegar, sugar, pasteurization or adulterants in these products! Just organically grown produce, time and wild lacto bacilli came together to create these delicious and nutritious ferments. Sugar free, gluten free, worry free.

The ingredients are as follows:

Sour Pickles

Home grown ingredients: cucumbers, dill, garlic, wild grape leaves

Bought ingredients: kosher salt, black peppercorns

Sauerkraut

Home grown ingredients: cabbage, carrots, garlic, onions, radish pods, beets

Bought ingredients: caraway seed, celery seed, kosher salt, dried red pepper

Bri & Josh