Wednesday, July 28, 2010

CSA Harvest #9

This week’s CSA harvest includes:

Assorted Bell Peppers
Shishito Peppers
Thai Hot Peppers

It is amazing that August is just around the corner. We have already started counting down the days to the first frost, as we try to figure out what we can still get in the ground that will have enough time to grow to maturity. Around here we frequently spend our time looking forward– the next harvest, crops to plant and where to plant them, plans for the restaurant, etc. We are continuously working hard with a strong image of the future. But at times it can be equally valuable to look back. Look back at what we have accomplished in the last two years as a farm, but also look back at what those before us have done in the field.

Farming depends on so many factors, many of which we can’t control. We have no say over how much it rains or doesn’t rain, but we can work hard to learn as much as we can about those things that are within our power. This is when looking back becomes particularly important. So much of farming relies on a certain type of knowledge that is cultivated through an intimate relationship with the land; an innate way of knowing what the plants and animals need and also when they need it. People spend their whole lives accumulating this knowledge and then passing it down to the next generation.

The shared wisdom and support of the agricultural community is a fundamental part of farming. Looking back gives us the chance to show gratitude to all of those people who have shared their time and wisdom with us. Dave and Karen Barron are some of those people who have been monumental in this process. Dave has shared both his time and his land to help cultivate us into better farmers. His mistakes and successes from a lifetime of farming have helped our plunge into the world of agriculture to be a little less daunting.

The relationship between the Barron’s and Epiphany Farms Enterprise, at that time just Ken, began in 2003 at the Downs Farmer’s Market. Ken was visiting home, on a vacation from culinary school in New York, when he struck up a conversation with Dave about his interest in farming and food. Dave proceeded to invite Ken back to his farm, where the seed of Epiphany Farms was planted. At the Barron’s Ken had his first interaction with a potato plant; learned how onions grow; and shucked his first ear of corn. Through this encounter the idea of Epiphany Farms Enterprise, a restaurant supplied by its own farm, began to blossom.

Freshly graduated from UNLV Ken moved home to Downs, IL and jumped into the Epiphany Farms concept accompanied by Mustard. They just started planting things, not quite realizing what they were getting themselves into. Very quickly they realized they were in over their heads, but Ken knew where to turn. After five years without a word from Ken, Dave and Karen welcomed them into their home and proceeded to spend the evening explaining when and where to plant things. From that point forward the Barron’s have been Epiphany Farms’ go to for knowledge on all things agriculture.

During the 2009 growing season we set up shop next to the Barron’s at the Downs Farmer’s Market, where the connection first began. Wednesday’s became a day of anticipation, an opportunity to pick Dave’s mind and learn from his wisdom. As time progressed Dave became more than just a mentor, but a partner to Epiphany Farms Enterprise. We are constantly grateful for his dedication to our vision. He helped plant that first seed, and when it eventually germinated he has been there to help us grow.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

CSA Harvest #8

In your CSA bags this week you'll find:

Purple Bell Peppers
Shishito Peppers
Sweet Corn
1 Thai Pepper - more than enough to add some heat to your next meal

It's been another eventful week for the farm. All of the plants are looking very happy after some much needed rain, and the animals have made some big moves. The first flock of black astrolorpes moved out to pasture in the egg mobile, and should be laying eggs by August 15th. Our baby astrolorpes are also getting acquainted with their new home on pasture and will be laying by the beginning of November. The ducks now call the back garden home, and seem to grow bigger every time we turn around!

The young pigs are growing quickly, and will be ready for the fall. In the meantime the mamas and papa are reunited and should have some new litters on the way. We have four steers at slaughter weight. Grassfed beef will be available soon, so let us know if you are interested in customizable cuts.

Check back for a new recipe and video featuring the products from our latest harvest!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

CSA Harvest #7

This week's CSA bags feature:

Shishito Peppers
Sweet Corn

The shishito pepper's mild and sweet flavor make them perfect for snacking on raw, but can also be a delicious addition to a stir-fry. For a quick and tasty appetizer you can also try frying them.

Heat your skillet or grill pan on high. Toss your peppers with a bit of your favorite cooking oil and then drop them onto the pan. Turn occasionally until the skin is soft and charred in spots. Remove and sprinkle with salt - and if you'd like things a little spicier add some extra heat with a dash of cayenne. Make sure to enjoy them while they're still hot.

We know you have basil in your herb guild, but we feel there is no such thing as too much basil. If you're having trouble thinking of ways to use it try making a fresh pesto with this recipe:

1 large bunch of basil leaves
1 cloves of garlic
small handful of pine nuts (walnuts will also work)
3/4 cup parmesan
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Add basil, garlic, and pine nuts to a food processor and pulse until chopped. Slowly add olive oil to mixture until you get a smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in parmesan by hand.

If your batch is more than your family can eat, or if you have surplus basil that you don't know how to use you can freeze the pesto in an ice tray and cover it with plastic wrap. This will keep for months in the freezer, and then even during winter you can pop out a few cubes to add to your meal and enjoy the fresh taste of summer. If you decide to freeze your pesto make sure to wait to add the cheese until you defrost it.

As for life on the farm the family just keeps growing. The latest addition to the clan is Dennis the billy goat, thanks to Keith and Donna from South Pork Ranch. In the last few weeks we've also gotten ducks, guinea fowl, a long horn bull, a dairy cow, turkey, and a lot more chickens. All of the summer crops are really kicking into gear with all of the sunshine we've been getting, but the heat hasn't kept us from the fields. We're continuing to plant for what looks to be a delicious fall harvest!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

CSA Harvest and Beet Video

Here is the harvest list for your CSA's this week.

Herbal tea package

This week in your herbal tea package
Lemon Balm
Anise Hyssop
Penny Royal
Chrysanthium Flowers
Wild Gooseberries

You can use last week's recipe for the herbal tea, As for the Wild gooseberries you can bruise them a little and add them to the hot water.

I made a cooking video for "how to cook beets" You can add a multitude of different things to your marinated beets. Cooked diced potatoes (Boiled), Sliced cucumbers (without seeds, slice lenghtwise and scoop out with a spoon), Parsley, Basil, thinly sliced onions... All which have been included in your CSA and herb guild.

Whats new on the farm??

Stu and I are glad that Kenny and Nanam are back from their honeymoon. The whole team is back together on the farm and the addition of our two new interns from Heartland Community College. John and Emma have been kicking major butt on the farm. We got a our first seeder in the mail this week and hooked it up. This thing is the best new tool on the farm other than Henry Brockman's Asian Weeders. I can now seed a bed in about 5 minutes when it would have taken me about 2 hours by hand. Now that the rain has been holding off, we have tilled up new ground and seeded everything for a plethora of winter vegetables.

Hope you enjoy the video, I made it in a new style this week. Let us know what you think of it.

Epiphany Farms-

Friday, July 2, 2010

Meat 'N' Potatoes for the Midwesterner Video

Here is the cooking video for this week. It is a Ribeye with Turnips and Potatoes, You can use your herb guild to elevate the taste. In the video we used parsley but you can use any of those, You can also add more vegetables to the dish, cook them the same way as the turnips (featured in video).

As for the Herbal Tea bag, You have the following inside.

Chrysanthemum (Flowers)

Shiso (Big Leaves, Tastes like Mint, liquorish & Apple Also has Purple Hue on bottom side)

Lemon Balm (twigs with leaves and buds)

Anise Hyssop (Smaller version of the big leaves taste like sweet liquorish)

Vietnamese Mint (looks like a hand, very leafy and Minty,

The Microwave is the fastest way to heat a water molecule. Put a glass of water in the microwave. Heat for 1 min. the water should be about 160 - 180 it will also depend on how much water you are heating up. I think that 160 - 170 is optimal steeping temperture. Choose your flavors, mix and match, take notes on what you like about the flavor combo and design your own. You only want to steep for 4-5 minutes, by then your water will be about 130 degrees. 130 is optimal honey temperture. add some honey and taste. You only want enough to sweeten a little, too much and you can't taste the flavors, too little and it tastes bland. After adding the honey it should be perfect drinking temperture.