Bunching Asparagus for the First CSA Pick-Up of the Season

Bunching Asparagus for the First CSA Pick-Up of the Season

The CSA pick-ups are under way. We have asparagus to start the season and I have posted a couple of recipes at the end of this blog entry to give some new ideas for using it. Our CSA gardens are growing and the early seedings have come up and have been weeded. We are waiting to transplant the tender plants until tonight’s possible frost has past. Hopefully, it will warm up and stay warm after that. The ground has dried out without rain and we have irrigated the garden to keep plants growing. There is rain in the forecast for next week and hopefully it won’t miss us.

Insulation around Chimney In Place

Insulation around Chimney In Place

Forging Brackets for Wood Fired Oven Chimney

Forging Brackets for Wood Fired Oven Chimney

The wood fired oven is finishing up. The insulation has been put all around and the damper has been made. Today Ken is forge-bending some brackets to brace the chimney before it is installed. He will then make some insulated doors and Seth will build a brick face on the oven and it will be ready to light the first fire. The plan is to heat it slowly with a small fire so the bricks can dry slowly before the first hot firing. The idea with the oven is to have a lot of insulated thermal mass that will absorb the heat from the fire and then gradually release it while baking bread. Seth intends to have a fire for 6 hours then rake out the ashes and close it up to absorb the heat for 6 hours. He hopes it will retain enough heat to bake 5 batches of bread of 25 loaves each from one firing! It will take a while to get to know the oven, but it is exciting to see it all come together. The new stone flour mill has been tested and is ready to start grinding flour with the horse powered treadmill.

Introducing Utah our new Jersey Cow

Introducing Utah our new Jersey Cow

We have added a jersey milk cow to the farm family. She is very hip with a nose ring, ear tattoo and the name “Utah”! Our second year intern, Charlotte, has returned to the farm this year and asked if she could have a cow project…Charlotte is finding her way with getting to know Utah, learning how to milk and then learning how to make butter, yogurt, and fresh cheese. Rose is making kefir and adding it to our shakes at breakfast. The next step is to try and make some hard cheese. It feels good to have a cow again and it certainly adds a bounty to the table at meal time. When Utah is cooperative enough to come in for milking on her own, the nose ring may have to go. She earns a lot of brownie points for standing well to be milked, but she is still getting used to her new surroundings and our routines. You can read between the lines on that one…Fortunately, after sourcing some replacement parts our little milking machine still works.

Sent to me by CSA member, Catherine Burr, Adapted from: Four Seasons – A year of Italian Food by Manuela Darling-Gansser

Asparagus with Melted Butter and Parmigiano

1 bunch of asparagus

50 g freshly grated parmigiano

30 g unsalted butter

sea salt and ground black pepper

Cook the asparagus until the stalks are still a bit crunchy. Do not overcook. Drain the asparagus and arrange on a heated serving dish.

Sprinkle the parmigiano on the tips of the asparagus. Melt the butter and, as soon as it is foaming, pour it over the parmigiano. (The heat of the butter will melt the cheese and make a delicious crust.) Add a little salt and pepper. Serve at once with some crunchy Italian ciabatta bread.

Variation

For a more substantial meal you can fry 2 organic eggs per person and serve them on the plate with asparagus. Make sure the yolks are still very runny.

This is a recipe from a cookbook written by our daughter, Ellen Laing.

Asparagus White Bean Salad

Asparagus White Bean Salad

Asparagus White Bean Salad 

1 bunch asparagus cut in pieces about twice the size of the beans

2 Cups cooked white beans (canned would be fine, drained & rinsed)

1/3 Cup cubed cotija cheese (You can also use feta)

Zest of one lemon, minced

Juice of at least half of a lemon (more if you like)

1 small shallot, minced (you can use a green onion)

¼ cup parsley

1 Tablespoons mint, chopped

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

salt & pepper

Boil some water to blanch the asparagus. Salt the water so that the asparagus comes out tasty. Throw the asparagus in there, and cook just so that the raw flavour goes away –just keep fishing them out and tasting them. Try to keep them bright green and crunchy. Usually this happens before the water comes back to a boil. Drain and cool the asparagus.

Toss everything in a bowl & adjust the seasoning if necessary. It is best to refrigerate for several hours before serving so the flavours can blend.

Planting Onions with Transplanter

Planting Onions with Transplanter

May is always a big month of planting. We do direct seeding as well as transplanting both outdoors and inside of our hoop houses. Some plants are more cold hardy and can go out before the danger of frost has past. Our onions and leeks are transplanted already. The hoop house tomatoes and cucumbers have also been planted, because they are inside the hoop house and protected. The hoop house pac choi and head lettuce are growing well and after they are harvested the tomatoes and cucumbers will grow on. We have early cabbage and broccoli that are waiting to be transplanted. The roots need to be well established for the transplants to work well with our horse drawn transplanter. There is also a long list of fennel, celery, celeriac, kale, kohlrabi, radicchio, green onions and head lettuce that are waiting to be transplanted.  We have started our outdoor annual cutting flowers, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, melons, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes in the greenhouse that have to wait until after the danger of frost has past before they can be planted. Needless to say, our greenhouse is bursting at the seams as we shuffle plants around to make room for more. In the meantime, we have planted the strawberries for 2016  and the potatoes for this year. Another succession planting of direct seeded beets, carrots, peas, leaf lettuce, radishes and spinach have been planted in the main garden and covered with row cover to bring them along quickly. The 2016 main CSA garden has also been worked up and planted to an oat/barley/pea cover crop.

Jeanne Tremblay Intern from Quebec

Jeanne Tremblay Intern from Quebec

Jeanne Tremblay has come from Quebec to intern with us for the remainder of the season. Jeanne comes with teamster skills. She interned at another CRAFT farm in Ontario two years ago.She has also just completed an agricultural business course at Victoriaville  in Quebec. She hopes to return to Quebec and start an organic vegetable and flower CSA in the future. I look forward to having an intern with a special interest in cut flower production. We have ordered some additional flowers to try this season for our CSA cutting garden in the side yard.

Seth and Jim at Work Building Arch on the Wood Fired Oven

Seth and Jim at Work Building Arch on the Wood Fired Oven

Seth has been working hard on the wood fired oven with good help from Jim. He is learning as he goes and doing a careful job. The process is quite involved with one stage completed before the next can be started. The foundation support and the sides of the oven have been built. The floor of the oven with volcanic insulation under it, to keep the heat in, has been laid. The lintel over the door with small metal shards incorporated for strength is finished. Today Seth and Jim are setting the arch fire brick in place. The arch is supported with special wooden framing that will be removed once the mortar between the arch bricks sets.

We have set the start dates for our CSA season as follows:
FIRST TUESDAY PICK-UP: MAY 19
FIRST SATURDAY PICK-UP: MAY 23

Queen and Ned Opening up the Furrows for Seed Potatoes in No-Till Section of Field

Queen and Ned Opening up the Furrows for Seed Potatoes in No-Till Section of Field

Alina and Caesar Waiting to Plant Potatoes

Alina and Caesar Waiting to Plant Potatoes

Rose and Jeanne Planting Potatoes

Rose and Jeanne Planting Potatoes

Start of the Arch from Above

Start of the Arch from Above

Wooden Supports for Arch in Wood Fired Oven to be Removed after the Fire Bricks are in Place

Wooden Supports for Arch in Wood Fired Oven to be Removed after the Fire Bricks are in Place

Jeanne and Alina Weeding Flower Gardens

Jeanne and Alina Weeding Flower Gardens

Garlic is Growing!

Garlic is Growing!

Jeanne Weeding Pach Choi and Lettuce in Hoop House

Jeanne Weeding Pac Choi and Lettuce in Hoop House

Caesar and Mosquito Waiting for a Wagon Ride

Caesar and Mosquito Waiting for a Wagon Ride