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.
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.
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.
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
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.