Thursday, October 27, 2016

Wow, What a Year!

Some of our wonderful crew helping out during Strawberry Days
By Farmer Richard

     We’ve had a roller coaster of challenging weather, but have had mostly successful crops despite the bumps along the road. Good management and good crew have been the key to this year, but there’s only so much you can do when you get the unavoidable 100 year flood! The third of its kind in 8 years!...hmmm. It did help us make the final decision to not farm one of those flood prone farms next year!
     The last couple weeks have been beautiful fall weather! We finished most of our harvest and had plenty of time to plant our 2017 garlic crop. We put a nice layer of mulch on it and are praying for a good crop for next year. We’ve also finished planting our sunchoke and horseradish crops for next year as well as applied compost and planted a rye cover crop on all available acres. Our crew spent quite a bit of time over the last month cleaning up most of the driftwood and rocks from flooded fields. We are ready for spring! We’ve completed all of these fall tasks earlier than usual, so we have also had extra time to clear trees out of the river and cut fallen trees.
     We also have been able to work in the woods! We have 325 acres of woods that have not seen much attention for 50 years until recently. We have a forester working on a management plan for us. He has been walking all our woods, cataloging tree species, designing a network of access roads, and recommending work to be done. It is enormous! The forester has described our woods as typical for most Wisconsin woods, representing 150 years of poor management and over-grazing with livestock. The best trees were removed by a logging company 40-50 years ago and the poor, crooked trees were left to capture the sunlight and dominate. We have many of those old trees, yet many good trees as well. Despite the fact that we have had offers from logging companies to come in and log some trees, we are well aware of their intentions to only take the good ones which will still leave us with a woods full of poor, crooked trees. Their price usually sounds good, but still would never cover the taxes that we have paid and will continue to pay on the woodlands. So we have chosen to decline their offers and take on management of our woods ourselves, which will also help support local jobs and local sales.
Bottle Stopper Top in Cherry Wood
     We have a small bulldozer and a strong desire to connect with our woods. Most woods are moderate to very steep slopes, difficult to walk, hunt, ski or enjoy. So this fall, the last few weeks of mostly warm fall weather, the leaves turning color and then dropping with rain and wind, I have been blessed to spend many hours on our little 80 hp New Holland bulldozer making roads through our woods. Roads that are very challenging to make, requiring a carefully chosen path flagged with yellow ribbons, sometimes weaving a bit to avoid big trees, but having a beginning and an end point. What a fine way to get to know your woods! Admiring the towering old oaks, walnuts, hickory and cherry trees and identifying the smaller trees to make the right decision about what stays and what goes, all the time looking for burls on cherry trees that would make nice bottle stopper tops. Most of our logging energy has gone into salvaging ash trees that have recently been killed by the Emerald ash borer. Ash is a beautiful hard wood. Anyone thinking about a new floor?  Once the logs are sawed, we will have approximately 15,000 board feet of lumber! We could provide you with a beautiful ready to install floor!
     Ah, working in the woods is such a joy. The fall colors, the few remaining birds. Even with the bulldozer running, I saw a beautiful buck deer slowly working his way through the trees below me…and that rabbit that was hiding under the parked bulldozer after lunch was quite the surprise! We love our beautiful woods, and I’ve dreamed about building access roads through it for many years. For the first time we have a road that runs from one end of our farm to the other allowing us an easy-to-walk path to stroll on, enjoying the peace and beauty of our valley and woods. Andrea and I took a little Sunday stroll a few weeks ago, what a fun escape!
     We’ve taken care to immediately seed fescue and clover grass as soon as we finished a section of the road and the fall leaves provided a beautiful mulch. We aren’t doing this just for us, it’s for you too! We hope you will consider a trip to the farm and enjoy hiking or skiing the roads on our farm as well!

Vegetable Feature: Fall In Love With Arugula

By Laurel Blomquist

     Arugula is one of the dozens of brassicas we grow.  Some folks call it rocket for its fiery taste. Personally, I think arugula is best in the spring and the fall, when the flavor is more balanced and it’s a little sweeter. In any case, the greens are full of flavor and therefore often mixed with other greens to tone them down, especially if eaten raw.
     Arugula is especially popular all around the Mediterranean, which is where this plant originated. It’s eaten on pizzas and pastas and even made into a digestive liqueur in Italy.  It’s used commonly in salads and omelets in Greece. It is recommended for newlywed couples in Saudi Arabia, possibly because of its ancient reputation for stirring the libido. In Egypt, arugula is eaten with fava beans for breakfast, and seafood for dinner while those in Turkey make it into a sauce with olive oil and lemon juice to eat with fish. In Slovenia, it is mixed with potatoes or soups, or served with cheese burek, a kind of pastry.
     As a brassica, arugula has some amazing health benefits. It’s an excellent source of fiber, Vitamins A, C, and K, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese. In addition, arugula contains protein, thiamin, riboflavin, Vitamin B6, zinc, copper and pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5), which raises good cholesterol while lowering bad. Arugula scores over 600 on the ANDI, or Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, which puts it in the top 10 nutrient-dense foods available!
     Additionally, arugula’s flavonoids prevent cholesterol from getting stuck in your arteries, lowers blood pressure, increases blood flow, lowers inflammation and improves blood vessel function. Generally, arugula is great for the heart and circulatory system to name just a few health benefits.
     Arugula pairs well with roasted and cured meats, cheese, cream, fruit (pears, apples, berries, citrus, etc), fruity vinegars, mustard, nuts, mushrooms, winter squash and more! It can be used in salads, on sandwiches, included in pasta dishes and much more.  However you use it, arugula is one fall vegetable you don’t want to miss out on.

Arugula Pesto & Apples


Recipe by Andrea Yoder

Yield: 1 ½ cups

2 cloves garlic
¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts
3 cups lightly packed arugula (approximately ½ of a bunch)
2 oz or ½ cup shredded Parmesan
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt & black pepper, to taste

1. Place the garlic cloves and pumpkin seeds or pine nuts in a food processor.  Process briefly, then add the arugula, shredded Parmesan cheese and a few pinches of salt and black pepper.  Turn the processor on again and, while it’s running, pour the olive oil through the feed tube in a thin, steady stream.  Once all of the oil is incorporated, process until it is a moderately thick paste.  Stop the machine and scrape down the sides as needed to make sure all the ingredients are well-incorporated.
2. Taste the pesto and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.  Refrigerate until you are ready to use.  For best flavor and consistency, bring to room temperature before using.  You can store the pesto in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or put it into smaller quantities and freeze it for later use.

     Arugula pesto can be very pungent if you eat it on its own, but when combined with other foods it becomes very balanced and a complementary ingredient.  In addition to using it on a pizza, as is highlighted in this newsletter, you can use arugula pesto in a lot of other ways.  Here are a few ideas to get you started.  1) Stir a spoonful into scrambled eggs or a frittata.  2) Use arugula pesto as a spread on a hot roast beef sandwich along with garlic mayonnaise, sliced roast beef and melted mozzarella cheese.  3) Spice up your morning bagel by spreading the pesto on top of cream cheese on your bagel.  Top it off with fresh tomato slices.  4) Make a baked potato and top it off with sour cream, bacon bits and a few dollops of arugula pesto. 5) Make an omelet or a crepe with stone ground mustard, arugula pesto, slices of ham and gouda cheese.

Pizza with Arugula Pesto, Roasted Butternut Squash & Apples


Recipe by Andrea Yoder

Yield:1 (8-9 inch) pizza
Pizza dough for an 8 to 10 inch pizza
2-3 cups butternut squash, peeled & cut into ½-inch cubes
1 Tbsp sunflower or olive oil
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
3-4 Tbsp arugula pesto (or to taste)
1 medium apple, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3-4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded

1. Preheat the oven to 375-400°F.  First, roast the squash.  Put the squash cubes in a medium mixing bowl and drizzle with the olive oil.  Toss to lightly coat the squash, then add the cinnamon and salt. Stir to combine.  Spread the squash in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Place in the oven and roast for about 20-30 minutes.  Stir the squash and then return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes or until it is tender and golden on the outside.  Remove from the oven and set aside.  Note, this step may be done in advance.
2. Prepare the pizza dough.  Press or roll it out into an 8-9 inch round, or larger if you like a thinner crust.  Place the dough on a pizza stone or baking pan.  Parbake the crust in the oven for about 5-7 minutes.  Remove from the oven.
3. Evenly spread arugula pesto on the warm pizza crust, making sure you spread it all the way to the edges.  Next, lay out the apple slices on top of the pesto.  Sprinkle thinly sliced onion on top of the apples.  Spread the roasted butternut squash on top of the onion and finish off the pizza by spreading shredded mozzarella over the entire pizza.
4. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden brown and the crust is baked to your liking.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Vegetable Feature: Sorrel...In the fall?!

By Laurel Blomquist
     Sorrel is one of those vegetables we generally associate with the arrival of springtime. However, this hearty vegetable has a long growing season, and is perfectly at home brightening up the heavier, richer dishes we are starting to prepare this time of year.
     Sorrel is a perennial herb of the family Polygonaceae, which includes rhubarb and buckwheat. Taste a tiny bit raw and you will soon discover the tart power of sorrel leaves. Combining sorrel with other greens (such as spinach or arugula) or pairing it with rich, fatty foods (such as heavy cream, meat, fish or cheese) is recommended to tone down its strong flavor. The calcium and casein in dairy products neutralize the oxalic acid, the source of the tartness.
     Sorrel contains a lot of Vitamin A, which will lower your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. It also contains Vitamin C, which is great for the immune system. It is high in potassium and magnesium, which can lower your blood pressure and increase blood circulation. Sorrel, especially raw, contains high amounts of folate, an essential vitamin. Folate consumed in food is absorbed better by the body than synthetic supplements. Folate can decrease your chances of getting stomach, colon, pancreatic, cervical and breast cancers.
     Sorrel is popular all over the world and can be found in numerous cuisines. Green Borscht is found in Russian, Ukrainian, Ashkenazi Jewish, Belarusian, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Romanian and Polish cuisines. Along with sorrel, it usually contains whole eggs, potatoes, carrots and parsley root and is topped with sour cream. In Nigeria, sorrel is used in stews along with spinach. In Croatia and Bulgaria, it is used in a traditional eel dish. In Greece and Albania it is paired with spinach and chard for a robust spanikopita. In Belgium, preserved, pureed sorrel is mixed with mashed potatoes and bacon for a hearty winter dish. It is one of many herbs used in Vietnamese cuisine. In India, it is used to make soups or curries with lentils.
     It is easy to see that in many countries, sorrel is used to counter the heavy, rich flavors of fall and winter. So let’s welcome it into our kitchens while we can. Before you know it, we’ll be craving its triumphant return in the spring.

Chicken with Sorrel


Yield: 4 servings
2 Tbsp butter or extra virgin olive oil
1 whole chicken (2 ½ to 3 pounds), cut into serving pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 large or 2 medium onions, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices
6 cups loosely packed sorrel, about ½ pound, trimmed and washed

1. Put butter in large skillet, preferably nonstick, and turn heat to medium-high. When butter begins to melt, swirl it around the pan.  When its foam subsides and it begins to brown, add the chicken, skin side down. Cook, rotating pieces after 3 or 4 minutes so they brown evenly. As they brown on the skin side, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and turn them over; sprinkle skin side with salt and pepper as well. If necessary, lower heat to medium to prevent burning. Remove chicken to a plate when chicken is completely browned all over, in 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Immediately add onions to pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften but still hold their shape, about 5 minutes. Add ½ cup water and cook for a minute, stirring occasionally, until it reduces slightly. Return chicken to pan, turn heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes. Uncover, add sorrel, stir, and cover again.
3. Cook about 10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and sorrel is dissolved into onions and liquid. Serve hot, with rice or crusty bread.


Recipe by Mark Bittman, as featured at NYT Cooking (cooking.nytimes.com)



Sorrel Mashed Potatoes


Yield: 4 servings

Sorrel with Purple Viking Potatoes
1 pound russet or gold potatoes**
4 ounces sorrel (about ½ of a bunch)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup heavy cream
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

**HVF Note:  The purple Viking potatoes in this week’s box are an excellent choice.**

1. Peel the potatoes and steam or boil them until they are tender.
2. Meanwhile, wash the sorrel and cut the leaves into thin strips, using a stainless steel knife. Heat the butter in a frying pan and add the sorrel. Stir over low heat for a couple of minutes, until it has wilted. Add the cream and heat through.
3. Mash the potatoes. Stir in the sorrel puree and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Recipe by Moira Hodgson & featured at NYT Cooking (cooking.nytimes.com)

Brassicas to Fight Cancer

Baby Bok Choi
By Laurel Blomquist

     Welcome to another article in the anti-cancer series. This anti-cancer diet also combats neurological, immunological, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, as well as the process of aging. It’s pretty amazing that we can heal ourselves by making healthy food choices. Today we’re going to dive into the brassica family, commonly known as cole crops. Except where noted, all references are from Foods to Fight Cancer.
     The Brassica Family is one of the most represented on any CSA Farm, and with good reason. This large family includes broccoli, cauliflower, romanesco, broccoli raab, kales, collards, arugula, radishes, turnips, rutabaga, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, mustards and bok choy to name a few. Cabbage is probably the oldest cultivated vegetable, dating to at least 6,000 years ago (p. 69). Ancient peoples must have indeed revered it, because most of the varieties we eat have been cultivated through selective breeding from one species of wild cabbage. Hippocrates,circa 400 BC, called it “the vegetable of a thousand virtues” (p. 71). Marcus Porcius Cato, circa 200 BC, held cabbage as a universal remedy against sickness and a virtual fountain of youth. He wrote in De Agri Cultura, On Farming, “Eaten raw with vinegar, or cooked in oil or other fat, cabbage gets rid of all and heals all.” (p. 72).  He recommended cabbage for hangovers, and even used it as a poultice to treat cancerous ulcers. 
Radishes
     Modern medicine has proven time and again that brassicas have a preventative effect on cancers of the bladder, breast, lung, stomach, colon, rectum, and prostate (p. 72). Brassicas contain the largest variety of phytochemical compounds with anticancer activity. Just what makes them so powerful?
     One such molecule is called a glucosinolate. You have probably tasted them without knowing it; they are responsible for the slightly bitter or pungent flavor that these vegetables tend to have. Glucosinolates are stored in the molecules of a brassica vegetable until it is chewed, chopped or cooked. As the cell walls break down, glucosinolates mix with myrosinase, an enzyme. Upon mixing with the enzyme, glucosinolates are converted to isothiocyanates. These molecules are what fight cancer directly (p. 73). In broccoli, for example, the isothiocyanate is called sulforaphane. This sulfur molecule is what you smell when you overcook broccoli. 
     In order to get the full benefit of the isothiocyanates, there are a few things to keep in mind. Glucosinolates are very soluble in water, and myrosinase is sensitive to heat. The authors suggest that briefly steaming brassicas, stir frying or eating them raw are the best ways to preserve these compounds, as opposed to boiling (p. 74). Of course, these methods will also preserve the bright green (or red) color of the vegetable and have the added bonus of tasting better. The practice of blanching and freezing brassicas as a way of preserving them is actually not recommended if you want to retain these beneficial molecules. Because of the heat and amount of water involved with this process, the amount of bioavailable glucosinolates is reduced and the myrosinase enzyme is denatured. If you absolutely must boil your broccoli, I would recommend a soup as the soup base may retain more of the benefits. 
Broccoli
     Different glucosinolates are found in different brassicas, producing different isothiocyanates which have varying amounts of anti-cancer properties. Sulforaphane in broccoli is one of the most powerful. One serving of broccoli contains about 60 mg of sulforaphane, and one serving of broccoli sprouts contains 600 mg (p. 75)! Personally, I started making my own broccoli sprouts, from organic seed, of course, and adding them to my daily salad when I learned this information. Sprouts are very easy to make in your kitchen, and a nice addition to your winter menu when fresh, local broccoli is not available. 
     Sulforaphane increases your body’s ability to remove toxins linked to cancer. This reduces the occurrence, number, and size of tumors. Sulforaphane also directly attacks cancerous cells, triggering apoptosis, or cell death (p. 75). Sulforaphane also has antibiotic and antibacterial properties, particularly against Helicobacter pylori, which causes gastric ulcers. Exposure to this bacteria and resulting ulcers will increase your chances of stomach cancer 3-6 times over (p. 76).
     Of course, broccoli is hardly the only brassica with beneficial molecules. Watercress and Chinese cabbage contain phenethyl isothiocyanate, or PEITC, which protects against esophageal, stomach, colon, and lung cancers. PEITC also directly attacks leukemia, colon, and prostate tumors through apoptosis (p. 76).
     Brussels sprouts and our hero broccoli also contain indole-3-carbinol, or I3C. Actually, most brassicas contain at least some I3C, but these two have it in the largest amounts. I3C causes modifications in estradiol, which in turn reduces the ability of estrogen to promote cell growth in the breast, cervix, and uterus, thereby preventing cancer in those tissues (p. 77).
Baby Kale Mix
     We should not forget about kale and collards, which have had a popularity resurgence in recent years. Kale production rose 60% between 2007 and 2012 according to the USDA (Martin), and collards are picking up the slack, since demand for kale has overtaken supply (Krogh). In addition to containing beneficial isothiocyanates, they are good sources of iron, folic acid and Vitamins A and C. 
     The doctors recommend 3-4 weekly servings of brassicas to reap their medicinal benefits. Harmony Valley Farm has done our part this season (and every season) to make sure you are getting your RDA of brassicas. So far this season, you have received brassicas every week except one, and sometimes received 4 varieties in one week! You have received sauté mix, baby arugula and baby kale, watercress, hon tsai tai, kohlrabi, baby bok choi, cauliflower, cabbage, baby white turnips, bunched kale, green top spring radishes and broccoli no less than 9 times, possibly more if you got it as a bonus item. In total, we’ve delivered 53 brassica selections over the course of the past 25 weeks, most of which amount to 3-4 servings each, and the season’s not over yet! Frost doesn’t stop brassicas, in fact it sweetens them, so we can enjoy these all the way to the end of the growing season. To your health!

References
Beliveau, Richard, and Denis Gingras. Foods to Fight Cancer. 2007
Krogh, Josie. “Popularity of Collards Reaching Beyond the South.” jacksonprogress-argus.com. April 19, 2015. 
Martin, Andrew. “Boom Times for Farmers in the United States of Kale.” Bloomberg.com. May 9, 2014. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Monsanto Tribunal: October 14-16, 2016

Photo Borrowed from the Monsanto Tribunal Website
By Andrea Yoder
     This weekend an important international event will take place in the Netherlands, it’s called The Monsanto Tribunal. “The Monsanto Tribunal is an international civil society initiative to hold Monsanto accountable for human rights violations, for crimes against humanity, and for ecocide. Eminent judges will hear testimonies from victims, and deliver an advisory opinion following procedures of the International Court of Justice.” The Tribunal will be held at The Hague in the Netherlands and from October 14-16 individuals from all over the world will gather with the goal of exposing Monsanto, the US based company responsible for producing GMO seeds as well as toxic agrochemicals. Monsanto’s products, which include PCB’s, 2-4-5 T (a dioxin that was part of Agent Orange), and RoundUp (which contains glysophate), have brought direct harm to many farmers and communities across the world causing irreversible damage to human health and our environment. As is stated on the website for the Tribunal, “Monsanto promotes an agroindustrial model that contributes at least one third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions; it is also largely responsible for the depletion of soil and water resources, species extinction and declining biodiversity, and the displacement of millions of small farmers worldwide. This is a model that threatens peoples’ food sovereignty by patenting seeds and privatizing life.”
     How has Monsanto gained such an upper hand in our agriculture and food systems to the detriment of our own health?  They are tricky and have managed to intertwine themselves by strategically influencing lobbying regulatory agencies and governments, by financing biased and fraudulent scientific studies which produce results in their favor, but not results that are meaningful or reliable and by manipulating independent scientists as well as the press and media through lies and corruption. “The history of Monsanto would thereby constitute a text-book case of impunity, benefiting transnational corporations and their executives, whose activities contribute to climate and biosphere crises and threaten the safety of the planet.”
     A citizen’s tribunal is a community-led, court-like litigation event that is conducted according to the laws and standards applied to legal proceedings of a similar nature. While this tribunal will not have the power to result in binding legal decisions or to bring justice through their verdicts, the judges hearing the cases presented will use their expertise to deliver a written verdict of guilt or innocence which will serve as a platform for future legal cases. The tribunal “aims to assess these allegations made against Monsanto, and to evaluate the damages caused by this transnational company. The Tribunal will rely on the ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ adopted at the UN in 2011. It will also assess potential criminal liability on the basis of the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2002. The Tribunal shall also assess the conduct of Monsanto as regards the crime of ecocide, which it has been proposed to include in international criminal law. It shall examine whether the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court in force since 2002 should be reformed, in order to include the crime of ecocide and to allow for the prosecution of individual and legal entities suspected of having committed this crime.”
     While Monsanto and other biotech companies want us to believe their “advances” in technology will help us “feed the world” and benefit society, their motives are actually to gain power and control over our food supply with the end goal of increasing their profits. Political decisions have been based on biased research meant to “slide” things through regulatory agencies. Products have been released into the market without proper evaluation of their safety and all of us, without consent, have been part of the largest human health study ever conducted. Their chemicals are irreversibly changing our landscape. We now have to worry about chemical drift and genetics from altered plants and animals spreading into non-GMO species; and there’s no turning back. Novel proteins are in our food supply and are causing a myriad of devastating health problems. Farmers’ health and livelihoods have been destroyed, children have been born with birth defects, farmers in India and around the world are committing suicide because they see no other way out of this tangled web of deception they’ve been drawn into.
     The tribunal has been organized by a steering committee of individuals who, in a variety of ways, have been instrumental in protecting people and the environment against the harmful effects of biotechnology. Some come from a legal background while others have been involved in scientific research, human rights defense, environmental protection and more. The full list of indivduals as well as more thorough background information about The Monsanto Tribunal and the five judges who will be delivering the verdict may be found at the official website: monsantotribunal.org. The proceedings of the Tribunal may be viewed at this website as well and will be streamed live once the proceedings are underway. The court will hand down its decision in December 2016.
     This is an important event and, while Monsanto is the example, they are not the only biotech company responsible for these allegations. We’ll be reporting more information about the Tribunal as it becomes available, but we also encourage each of you to take a look at the tribunal website and educate yourselves on the background behind and potential impact of this important event: monsantotribunal.org.

Vegetable Feature: Radishes

Bunched Red Radishes
By Chef Andrea
     Radishes are one of the oldest cultivated plant foods. There are two classifications of radishes--”Table” or “Spring” radishes and “Storage” radishes. Table radishes are one of the first crops we plant in the spring, with harvest just 4 to 6 weeks later. Green top red and French breakfast radishes are the two varieties we grow. They are tender with a thin skin and are meant to be eaten within a week or so after they are harvested. We actually plant them all throughout the summer and into the early part of the fall. 
   

     The other type of radishes we grow are storage radishes which include daikon, Black Spanish and beauty heart radishes.  Winter radishes are more sturdy, with a longer growing season, thicker skin and more dense flesh and they store very well. You’ll be receiving some of these varieties in some of the last boxes of the season.

Black Spanish Radish
     Radishes are eaten extensively worldwide. Often they are pickled, cured, dried or fermented to preserve them. Historical reports date back to 2000 BC where radishes are thought to have been included in the daily ration, along with onions and garlic, for the people building the Egyptian pyramids. With a history like this, there has to be something good for us in a radish! Radishes are a good source of vitamins A, C and B6 as well as magnesium, calcium and potassium. In traditional Chinese medicine, radishes are used to promote digestion, break down mucus, soothe headaches and heal laryngitis. They are beneficial in helping to cleanse and detoxify the body and it is thought that they help prevent viral infections, such as colds and the flu, when consumed regularly. 
   

Beauty Heart Radish
     Radishes may be eaten raw, pickled, cured and also may be cooked. When cooked, either sauteed, stir-fried, braised or roasted, radishes lose their peppery flavor and become mild and slightly sweet in flavor. If you are one that shies away from radishes because you are still learning to like their peppery bite, consider cooking them. Don’t forget to eat the radish greens as well as they are packed full of nutrients! Radish greens may be added to stir-fries, simply sautéed alone or with other greens and dressed with salt and a splash of vinegar. They are often incorporated into soups and can also be eaten raw in salads. Quick pickled radishes make a nice condiment to enjoy on tacos, alongside grain dishes, lentils, beans or layered onto a sandwich.
     We hope you will look at radishes with a new set of eyes and take advantage of all they have to offer to your diet and your health.

Dal with Radish Raita


Yield: 6-8 servings

FOR THE DAL
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter or ghee
2 ½ cups chopped onions 
1 ½ cups diced carrots 
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
½ tsp ground cayenne
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
6 cups water
2 cups canned tomatoes
1 ½ cups packed chopped spinach or other greens (chard, radish tops, kale, etc)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice 

French Breakfast Radish
RAITA
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (½ lemon)
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
3 radishes, finely grated
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint

1. For the dal: Melt the olive oil and butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the carrots, salt, ginger, cayenne, cumin, turmeric, lentils, and ½ cup of the water and cook, stirring often, for another 5 to 7 minutes. Add the rest of the water and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pot, squeezing them with your hands to crush them. Continue to cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are cooked and the soup is thick, 30 to 45 minutes. Stir in the spinach or other greens and lemon, remove from heat, and add salt to taste.

2. While the soup cooks, make the raita: Stir together the yogurt, lemon, olive oil, salt, radishes, and mint in a small bowl. Serve the soup with a dollop of raita in each bowl.

Recipe borrowed from Alana Chernila’s book, The Homemade Kitchen.


Radish Top Pasta with Chickpeas & Parsley


Yield: 3-4 servings
6 oz fettucine pasta
3 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, small diced
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt plus more to taste
1 ½ Tbsp stoneground mustard
½ cup dry sherry
Radish greens from 1 bunch radishes, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 cups spinach or other greens, cut into bite-sized pieces (Kale, Chard, etc)
1 cup small diced spring radishes
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
1 cup cooked chickpeas
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Parmesan or other hard cheese, for serving

1. First, cook the pasta.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until the pasta is al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta. Set aside the reserved pasta water and the pasta until ready to use.
2. Melt butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat.  When hot, add onion and garlic and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent.  
3. Stir in 1 tsp salt and the mustard.  Stir to combine, then add the dry sherry.  Simmer for about 2 minutes, then add the radish greens and spinach or other greens.  Cover and continue to simmer for a few minutes, just until the greens are wilted.
4. Remove the cover and add the diced radishes, parsley and chickpeas.  Stir to combine and then add the pasta to the pan.  Bring everything to a simmer and then add about ½ cup of pasta water to the pan.  Allow the mixture to simmer for a few minutes to ensure everything is heated through. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking with salt and black pepper.  Add additional pasta cooking water as needed to adjust the consistency of the sauce to your liking.
5. Serve warm, topped with freshly grated Parmesan or other cheese of your liking.

Recipe by:  Andrea Yoder

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Harmony Valley Farm Meat Clubs

Thai Beef Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing
     We are focusing our blog on sharing with you the different aspects of the meats we offer through our CSA – from how it is raised to how to best cook our certified organic, 100% grass-fed Angus beef and organic pastured pork. So what’s the best way to get some of this delicious meat into your freezer at home?

     Let us introduce you to our Meat Clubs! No worries, there is no password or secret hand shake to this club – all are welcome equally. So what are these meat club shares that we are so excited about? Our meat club shares allow individuals to sign up for multiple 15 or 25 pound meat packages to be delivered throughout the year. With the meat club you are able to sign-up for these deliveries with one easy purchase and at a discounted price! We deliver our meat shares three times a year: May, November and December. You can choose to start whenever it is convenient for you! The packages will contain either all beef (May) or a mix of beef and pork (November & December). 

     Why sign-up for our Meat Club? There are plenty of reasons! Here are a few that we think are worth highlighting:

  1.  Save money - When you order up front, you’ll save money versus buying individual packages before each month’s delivery.
  2. Order once and be good to go for the year – No need to pay attention to deadlines for sign-up. You’ll be scheduled across a whole year so you can sit back and relax
  3. These shares were designed to better meet the needs of smaller households or for those with limited freezer space - 15 pounds takes up very little space in your freezer but it will always be stocked with freshly frozen meat.
  4. You can spread your payments out over 6 months when you sign up for our meat club.

     So now that you know all the reasons why the meat clubs are a great option, what comes with each of these deliveries? We have preselected different meat packages for each meat club option. Below is a list of the different packages for each club and their delivery month (The descriptions of these different packages can be found here.)

3 Delivery Meat Club (15 pounds each delivery - 45 pounds total):
May: All-Beef Mixed Pack
November: Beef and Pork Variety Pack
December: Beef and Pork Family Pack

3 Delivery Meat Club (25 pounds each delivery - 75 pounds total):
May: All-Beef Mixed Pack
November: Beef and Pork Family Pack
December: Beef and Pork Variety Pack

     We sometimes hear people voice concerns about their freezer space when it comes to the different meat packages. We’re here to ease any of those worries! Take a look below – You’ll first see a freezer that has a 15-pound meat share in it. The 15-pound share fits in a 10”(L) x 10”(H) x 14”(depth) space. In addition to that, we also wanted to share a picture of a 25-pound meat share. This share took up 16”(L) x 10”(H) x 14”(Depth). These pictures are in our very own standard freezer in the kitchen. We hope that if the size of these various meat packages seemed intimidating at first, you now feel like you can confidently order and know your freezer will suit you just fine!

 Here we have a 15 pound Beef and Pork Variety Pack (contents may vary):
 1 pkg of T-bone or Rib Steaks (2 steaks per pkg)
1 pkg Beef Sirloin Steak (1 steak per pkg)
1 Beef Chuck Roast
2 pounds Ground Beef
3 pkg Pork Chops (2 chops per pkg)
2 pounds Ground Pork
3 Pkgs Bacon

Here we have a 25-pound Beef and Pork Variety Pack (contents may vary):
1 T-bone Steak (2 steaks per pkg)
1 Beef Sirloin Steak (2 steaks per pkg)
1 Beef Chuck Roast
1 Package Beef Stew Meat
4 pounds Ground Beef
3 pkgs Pork Chops (2 chops per pkg)
3 pounds Ground Pork
3 pkgs Bacon
1 Fresh Ham Roast

     In addition to our meat clubs, we also offer the option sign up for one-time deliveries. We have several different packages to choose from. Like our meat clubs, you can sign-up now for a delivery in November, December and/or May.

To sign up for either our meat club or an individual delivery, find our Meat Order Form Here.

What To Consider When Cooking Grass-fed Beef

The way in which animals are managed and raised does directly impact the qualities and characteristics of meat.  It is important to realize this because it will directly affect how you cook your meat to get the best quality end product.  Grass-fed beef from animals that have led stress-free lives grazing on pastures tends to be more lean and flavorful when compared to conventionally raised, grain-fed beef.  If you are accustomed to cooking conventional, grain-fed beef, or have had less than delicious results cooking or eating grass-fed meat previously, there are a few things to consider that might make a difference in your end result.


DO NOT OVERCOOK THE MEAT…TIME & TEMPERATURE ARE IMPORTANT!

The first thing to remember, and possibly the most important, is do not overcook the meat!! Grass-fed beef is more lean and has less marbling than grain-fed beef.  Since fat is an insulator, and grass-fed meat is so lean, it will cook faster than grain-fed meat and may be less forgiving without the fat to cover up a little bit of overcooked meat.  When you are reading recipes, take the guidelines for how long to cook a piece of meat with a grain of salt.  The time it takes to cook a piece of meat will depend on other variables including the size and thickness of the piece.  There are other ways to test the doneness of a piece of meat as well.  One way is to test the doneness of some pieces of meat, such as a chuck roast or stew meat, to see if it is “fork tender.” When a fork is inserted into the piece of meat, the meat should slide off the fork easily.  If it does, the meat is done.  If the fork doesn’t come out easily, the meat needs to cook longer.  Other ways to judge the doneness of meat include touch and temperature.  Learning to judge the doneness of meat by touch takes practice and time to master.  If you’ve ever wondered why chefs are always poking meat on a grill, it’s because they are feeling the resistance the piece of meat gives to touch.  The more the meat is cooked, the more firm the meat will feel.  This is something you will just have to practice and master over time. 

Checking the internal temperature of a piece of meat while it is cooking is a more reliable way to monitor the degree of doneness.  The USDA recommends cooking beef to a final internal temperature of 140-170° F, however most chefs would recommend a range of 120°F for rare meat and an upper range of 165°F for well-done meat.  You can use a simple meat thermometer or meat probe to test the internal temperature.  Insert the thermometer into a thicker, more centrally located place on the piece of meat.  If the piece you are testing contains a bone, make sure the thermometer is inserted away from the bone.  Also, remember that meat continues to cook even after you remove it from the heat source.  This is called carry-over cooking.  Don’t forget to take this into account when you are cooking and remove the meat from the heat before it reaches your final desired temperature.  Smaller pieces of meat, such as a rib steak, will continue to carry-over cook for about 5 to 10 minutes and the temperature can increase another 5 degrees.  If you are cooking a larger piece of meat such as a roast, the meat can continue to cook for an additional 15-30 minutes after being removed from the heat source.  The temperature of a larger piece of meat can rise as much as an additional 10-15 degrees. 

The next thing to remember is that you control the flame.  What I mean is that you have control of the temperature at which you are cooking your meat.  Remember, grass-fed meat doesn’t have as much fat to insulate it so it will cook more quickly.  If you are cooking grass-fed beef over a high temperature, you can cook the meat too quickly and cook the moisture and fat right out of the meat, making it dry and tough.  

COOKING METHODS:

Another important factor is to choose the correct cooking method for the cut of meat you are preparing.  Cuts of meat that come from a part of the animal that is used and exercised more will be tougher.  To tenderize these cuts you should use a moist heat cooking method which will use a longer cooking time and added moisture or liquid to help tenderize the meat. 

  • Moist Heat cooking methods include braising, stewing, boiling or cooking in a crock-pot. 
  • Tougher cuts of beef include the following:  Chuck Roast, Arm Roast, Rump Roast, Round Steak, Stew Meat and Short Ribs.

Cuts of meat that come from muscles of the animal that are not as active will be more tender.  These cuts of meat can be prepared using dry-heat cooking methods

  • Dry Heat Cooking methods include grilling, sautéeing, roasting, broiling, stir-frying, pan-frying, and deep-frying. 
  • More tender cuts of beef include the following:  Rib Steak, T-bone Steak, Sirloin Steak, Sirloin Tip, Flank Steak and Skirt Steak. 

FLAVOR:

Finally, lets talk about flavor.  Yes, it will ultimately come down to a matter of personal preference.  Grass-fed beef has been described as having more of a juicy, rich, robust “beefy flavor” in comparison to grain-fed meat.  The flavor of grass-fed meat has also been described as “clean” in comparison to grain-fed meat.  The higher fat content and marbling in grain-fed meat may leave more of a coating in your mouth and an after-taste that you won’t experience with grass-fed meat, which may be why some people describe the flavor as “clean.”  Animals that are grass-fed have a distinctive, sufficient flavor that can stand on its own without a lot of additional seasonings and sauces.  Let the natural flavor of the meat stand out by using simple salt & pepper seasonings or simple herb rubs for starters.   For braised dishes such as pot roast, the flavor of the meat will be infused into the cooking liquid creating a flavorful rich stock or sauce.  As you begin to experience the flavors of grass-fed beef, we encourage you to keep it simple so the true flavor of the meat comes out and you can taste the difference for yourself.


 

This video clip from The New York Times and Mark Bittman discusses and shows you some of the differences between cooking with grass-fed and grain-fed beef. This video does a great job of  highlighting some of the differences that we have mentioned in this post.


There are a lot of resources available to guide you in your endeavors to cook grass-fed beef.  One of our favorites is Shannon Hayes’ book called The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook.  You can also check out her blog, The Radical Homemaker.  She offers a lot of really simple, down-to-earth and resourceful ways to successfully prepare grass-fed beef. 


What To Consider When Cooking Pastured Pork

     Just as with other animals and food crops, the way in which an animal is raised is directly related to how the meat tastes when it gets to your plate.  Our pigs are very active and eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and roots in addition to their organic grain.  As a result, the meat they produce is often darker in color with a rosy hue and is very flavorful.   If you are accustomed to eating conventionally raised pork, you will notice a difference in not only the appearance and flavors of certified organic pastured pork, but also in the way it cooks.  Here are a few things to consider when cooking Certified Organic Pastured Pork.

Tip number one...Don’t overcook the meat!
      Pastured pork is very flavorful and juicy, but you can easily overcook it by using too high of heat or cooking it for too long.  Don’t forget that meat continues to cook with the residual heat held within it even after you remove it from the heat source.  If you think your pork is not quite done, remove it from the heat right then.  By the time it finishes cooking it will likely be perfect.  Checking the internal temperature of the meat is a good way to gauge the degree of doneness so you know when to take it off the heat.  The USDA recommends cooking pork to an internal temperature of 170°F, but that will likely result in a very dry piece of meat.  A range of 145-165°F will give you a juicier, more tender piece of meat. 

Tip Number Two…Choose an appropriate cooking method!
     The second important thing to keep in mind is to make sure you are using the right cooking method for the cut of meat you are preparing.  There are two main cooking methods, moist heat cooking and dry heat cooking.  

MOIST HEAT COOKING
     Cuts of meat that come from a part of the animal that is used and exercised more will be tougher and may have more intramuscular connective tissue and gelatin.  To tenderize these cuts, you should use a moist heat cooking method which will use a longer cooking time and lower temperature with added moisture or liquid to help tenderize the meat.   As the meat cooks, the connective tissue and gelatin in the meat will melt down making the meat tender, moist and very delicious. 

  • Moist heat cooking methods include: braising, stewing, boiling or cooking in a crock-pot. 

  • Cuts of pork that are most appropriate to use with this cooking method include: Pork Shoulder (Roast or Steak), Country Style Short Ribs, Spare Ribs, Ham and Pork Hocks.

DRY HEAT COOKING
     Cuts of meat that come from muscles of the animal that are not as active will be more tender.  These cuts of meat can be cooked for shorter periods of time at higher temperatures. 

  • Dry heat cooking methods include: grilling, sautéeing, roasting, broiling, stir-frying, pan-frying and deep-frying. 

  • Cuts of pork that are most appropriate to use with this cooking method include: pork chops, pork tenderloin, bacon and ham.

Tip Number Three….Let the meat speak for itself
     Don’t forget that pastured pork is very flavorful, so let that flavor work in your favor.  Use simple seasonings, herb and spice rubs or just a little salt and pepper to season the meat.  Simple marinades and sauces are nice accompaniments to pastured pork as well.  Whenever possible, make the sauce in the pan that the pork was cooked in, or cook the pork in the sauce or braising liquid.  The flavors of the pork will seep into the sauce adding a fuller pork flavor to the sauce.

HVF Practices for our Certifed Organic, 100% Grass-Fed Red Angus

As you can see by looking at our cattle, they are happy and healthy inside and out.  We have chosen to raise our cattle in a certified organic, 100% grass-fed production system, which is much different than industrial meat production and other conventional practices. We would like to highlight a few differences that we feel are most important for you to understand when you are making the choice to purchase meat in the future.
We want to start off with the pasture grasses since they are the main food source for our cattle.  We take great care to make sure our pasture has a good mix of grasses and legumes. Since we have plenty of grasses already in the pasture, each spring we use a practice called frost seeding to plant more legumes (usually red clover for us). Frost seeding is putting the seed on top of the pastures, usually during March, on days that alternate between freezing at night and thawing during the day. Along with the spring rains, this helps the seed make its way into the soil surface. Frost seeding offers several potential advantages, including the ability to establish forage in undisturbed sod, a reduced need for labor and energy compared to conventional seeding methods, and the ability to establish forages with minimum equipment investment.  Once the pastures take off and start growing in the spring, the cattle are anxious to start grazing. It’s important, both for the health of the animals and the pastures, to manage their grazing. We do this by dividing the pasture into smaller sections called paddocks. We rotate our cattle from paddock to paddock every five days to make sure they are getting the best of what each has to offer and adequately grazing the grass in that area so it will regrow. Sometimes we over-winter animals as well. Since our cattle are 100% grass-fed, you might be wondering what they eat when the hillsides are covered with snow. Over the course of the summer, we harvest alfalfa as well as premium pasture grasses, which sometimes are in abundance compared to the amount our small herd can eat. We bale the grass and alfalfa and store it in the barn to feed during the winter.
But what about those pesky weeds that pop up in our pastures? We mow our lush pastures when we can to either harvest the grasses or to manage the weeds. Sometimes we have to hand-dig some of those stubborn weeds. There is a newer bad boy invasive species in town, and its name is the multiflora rose. Our animals will eat off the new young shoots to prevent any more spread, but even so it can get out of hand quickly.  The other alternative that conventional farms use is to spray herbicide directly onto their pastures, weeds and grasses included. This creates a residue that stays on the good grasses and seeps into the soil. Then you also have the run-off that occurs from these chemicals when it rains and washes into area waterways. So with a little extra effort, and sometimes ‘elbow grease’, we can control the weeds without contaminating the environment or our animals’ food source.
One of the concerns with raising beef cattle is managing internal parasites. In a conventional system animals are treated with something called anthelmintic products. Most of the products used are either avermectins/ milbemycins (ivermectin, dormectin, eprinomectin, and moxidectin) or benzimidazoles (oxfendazole, albendazole, fendbendazole), (from UW Extention Cooperative).  If you are like us, you are having a hard time even trying to pronounce those chemicals. The chemical residue is then absorbed into the animal and accumulates in the organs and fat to combat the parasites. Then what happens to the chemicals? You guessed it - they work their way through the animal and are deposited into the pastures and thus passed through to the pasture environment. We rotate our animals to different paddocks every 5 days and they do not return to a paddock again for at least a month. Because of this, we actually ‘break’ the life cycle of the internal parasites. We also use Diatomaceous Earth (DE) to help kill off those pesky buggers.  We have the DE mixed with the very desirable kelp meal, Redmond trace minerals salt and a drizzle of organic molasses that we offer as a free choice ration, which they love.  The DE and minerals move through the animal and get deposited in random plops throughout the pasture. This is one way we utilize our pasture and it also helps prevents fly larvae from hatching. 
Our animals stay very healthy in our pastures and are never confined or crowded.  This helps to avoid any other health problems that may naturally occur. In confinement operations, disease can spread easily since the animal population is so dense. Because of this, conventionally raised animals are routinely fed antibiotics in their feed, mineral blocks or are given routine injections. This overuse has caused antibiotic resistant bacteria, such as E. coli 0157. While antibiotic use is prohibited in organic animal production, we would use an antibiotic to save a life or prevent suffering in any of our animals. If an antibiotic were to be used, we would sell that animal on the conventional market as it would no longer be certified organic. 
Mineral Feeder
What about flies – we all despise those little buggers too!  But they can cause great hardship and pain to cattle.  If not controlled, they can create and spread Pink-eye to the animals.  So how do we control the flies you ask?  Good question!  We make a mixture of Organic Citronella and Organic Sunflower oil and put it on strips in front of the mineral feeder. When the cattle go into the feeder for minerals, the oil mixture is then distributed to their faces and repels the flies.  This has been wonderfully effective for our cattle and we have not had any problems since we implemented this system.  The alternative would be to use either a dust bag or Cattle Rub containing insecticides to treat the animals.  Some insecticides used include Methoxychlor, Pyrethroids or Imaden, Permectrin Dust or Rabon Dust. Those chemicals are absorbed into the animal’s skin and through the air they breathe. The insecticides are then passed though the animal and into the manure and pasture environment. This is not allowed in organic production.
Now we move to the back end of the cow.  We have already touched on a few things that move through the cattle’s system, hence the reason we don’t give them those bad things we call contaminants.  Because our cattle eat the luscious grass and legumes in our paddocks, those little patty plops are great fertilizer for our pastures.  Because we rotationally graze our animals, we make sure to get a wide spread of ‘cow pies’ throughout the entire pasture area.  Some of you might think it’s not so good to have those, I agree you don’t want to step in them, but because our animals are spread out in the paddocks, we don’t have to ‘find a place’ for all that concentrated manure in one spot. Our manure stays in the paddocks and increases the pasture fertility. This means no hauling, no fossil fuel use and no disposal problems. On the conventional feedlots or non-pastured cattle, with so many animals crowded in one spot, and the average beef cow producing 10 tons of manure a year, that can spell (or smell) trouble.  All of that manure has to go somewhere! Where it goes varies from feedlot to feedlot, but they have to find places to dispose of what really ends up as a liability instead of a valuable asset.
When purchasing meat from our farm, you can rest assured that our animals are well taken care of. We encourage you to visit our farm and see for yourself.  If you have questions about our animal practices, make sure you ask your farmers.  We are here to help further aid you in making an informed choice, one that you feel is best for you and your family. If our meat is a part of that choice, we are happy to be your farm!