Sharing Our Story

Weekly news, reflections, recipes

Weekly Farm News, Reflections, Recipes

One of the things we've done over the many years with our CSA is to include a newsletter. This started as just a little paper note printed on our dot matrix printer with some things about what is going on at the farm, and recipes--mostly just sharing what we ourselves had made with our own veggies. An early subscriber (she's actually still a subscriber) noticed some lack of talent and asked if I wanted her to write or edit the newsletter. I never took her up on it, but the weekly "homework" writing assignment for 20 years has had its positive influences. (Your grade school English teacher was right!) Through our newsletter we connect subscribers with us, our farm, and their food.  We try to share easy recipes because we know people are busy, just as we are.  Some are impromtu, some from neighbors, many are old ethnic favorites (test of time.)

Response of one subscriber: "You make it sound so romantic that us working stiffs just want to chuck it all, hop in a Jeep, and go buy ourselves a farm...thanks for the descriptions--it helps us all feel connected!"

The salutation all this time: "Greetings from the Kretschmanns"

A little random sampling: late September

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,

With the sudden dip in temperature last Friday morning, we got the first cold warning that the summer party might be drawing to a close.  Though there was light frost in the Brush Creek valley nearby, our hilltop escaped the frigid reaper.  But frost any time now, would not be far from average.  We're hoping it holds off until after we harvest the last planting of beans and the second set of peppers in two weeks.   

I'm putting these thoughts to paper, sitting beside our clay fire pit, listening to the loud chirping of all manner of insects--the country summer symphony.  Radiant heat from the hot coals contrasts the chill of the evening.  I've loved the primal direct experiential connection since I was a boy camping out in a sleeping bag under the stars.   You can look up and see a plane flying noisily overhead, see a star in a distant system, hear a car down the road, or see  lights in town.  That's so different from the "world" inside our nearby house where we only experience those things we create and control, or those we choose to sense--usually through various filtering devices, mostly electronic.   Outside, it's hot, cold, light, dark, wet, dry, noisy, quiet, not because we deem it so.  It's not contrived by the mind, nor walled off by human constructions. In many ways, that is what attracts me to farming.  One is quickly and often reminded of the fundamentals of one's relationship to the natural world.  It's a precarious one if we aren't careful, (and sometimes even if we are), and in that vulnerability lies the opening to things beyond... 

mid-August...   Tomatoes, tomatoes, and more tomatoes.  It's been a long time since we've had such a proliferation of these wonderful summer fruits--kind of a great reminder that the "good old days" might be right now.  I can remember as a child, some of those tomato days.  We lived on the outskirts of a small Ohio town in which there was a cannery.  On the other side of town near the river were big tomato fields and after the harvest was done, they would let people in to pick tomatoes for $1 a bushel.  My thrifty mom (who turns 90 in September) would take us kids there and we'd fill the car up.  We would eat tomatoes every which way and she'd can them.  Ever try a tomato sandwich--just mayonaise and tomato between two slices of bread?  With a ripe, fresh tomato, there's nothing like it. 

A neighbor, Suzy Jenny, passed this on to us years ago...

Suzie's Chunky Salsa (small batch):  Oil baking pans and spread 2# tomatoes cut into small pieces.  Roast @350 deg. until they are cooked well and start to dry on the top and brown slightly.  Place in tomatoes in pot and mash until they look saucy.  Add 1 chopped tomato, 1/2c. diced onions, 1 diced pepper, maybe 1/4 finely diced jalapeno (or more as desired), 1clove minced garlic, dash black pepper, 1/4 tsp paprika, teaspoon sugar, 1/4 tsp chili powder, tsp. vinegar, dash salt, and 1 tbs. tomato paste. Mix and bring to boil.  Simmer until onions and peppers are cooked, then put in pint jars or just allow to cool and refrigerate.  You should have salsa for a while...

Peach Waffles with Whipped Cream: Cut up several ripe peaches into chunks.  Whip cream until stiff.  Sift 2 c. whole wheat flour, 3 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt.  Crack egg into flour, scramble slightly then add enough milk to make a thickish batter.  Drop batter onto oiled waffle maker.  (You can also just do same batter as pancakes)  Top waffles with peaches and cream.  OMG heaven on earth...!

Moussaka:  Cut enough potatoes 3/8" thick for 2 layers in your shallow casserole dish.  Oil cookie sheets and lay out potatoes in a single layer and brush the top with oil.  Bake at 350 deg until slightly cooked (abut 20 min). (An alternate method is to slice the eggplant, put it in plastic bags and freeze it.  Then defrost, drain, brush with oil) while fry 1# ground lamb (or beef), 2 finely chopped onions (green are fine too), and 2 cloves garlic.  Add 1/2 C chopped parsley, 1 c tomato sauce and 1/2 c wine.  Oil casserole dish, place one layer of potatoes, then the meat mix, then the other layer of potatoes.   Blend 2 c. milk, 2T cornstarch or flour, 1/2 t salt, and 4 eggs.  Pour over casserole.  Top with 1 c grated cheese (Kefaloteri or Parmesan) and sprinkle with 1/4 t cinnamon.  Bake at 325 deg for 45 min.  To make eggplant moussaka, slice eggplant about 1/2" thick, sprinkle with salt and rinse it after it sits for 10 min.  Dry and proceed with recipe.  Vegetarians may prefer to layer potatoes and eggplant together.

Sept. 13...   It's slowly dawning on us that the autumnal equinox is nearly upon us.  All summer, we've been out in the fields at 6:00 or 6:30, and this last week we just couldn't do it--too dark.  Then last Thursday, we were racing to get a planting of lettuce in the ground after the field barely dried in the afternoon, only to be nearly bounced out by the lack of daylight on the other end of the day.  Hard to imagine we haven't been in this situation since late March!  By the time our season ends in late November, we will have changed the clocks so that in the afternoons we'll be racing the sun and finishing up regularly at dusk.  And there's the other effect--a coolness in the air...

Nov. 13...Last Sunday was an unusual day for mid-November but it lent itself to what we often do on a Sunday afternoon--look around the farm and see what's happening.  I often think of that seventh day of Genesis.  The restfulness of our seventh day is when we have the time to see "how good it is."  But this Sunday there was everywhere little bittersweetnesses. The beautiful blue sky and warm air, but only rare reminders of the leaves which recently graced the trees. Crunching through the woods, hoping to spot a mushroom or two where only a month ago we were astonished at the fungal spectacle, only to see mere decaying logs.  But yet, while more overt life and crop are resting in remission, surely there's something alive in the soil suddenly so springy with autumn rainfall and wildly green cover crops.  And for these farmers, the fat fruit buds visible while leaves swirl downward stir a deep consciousness that life is always about change and nascence.  How good this is.

August 7  Greetings from the Kretschmanns,  Though we're firmly in the grip of midsummer and even expecting that grip to strengthen as we become mesmerized picking endless tomatoes every day, at the same time we're looking past it all into the fall and beyond.    In the first weeks of July we planted our fall broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage and seed beets and carrots for the autumn.  Then late last week, several acres of land was seeded with alfalfa and clovers, to rotate it out of production and/or to prepare it for next season.  After the final harvest, we've mowed off the zucchini, cuc, and onion fields. This week, we're pulling up all the plastic mulch and seeding these to hairy vetch which will add nitrogen and provide a mulch for next year's no-till winter squash.  Little by little wresting our harvest from the land diminishes and that other side of husbandry will show itself--R&R--Rest and Replenishment.  The first cover crops are the hint of what's to come down the road.

As tomatoes become the dominant theme, revel in them!  It looks to be one of the best tomato seasons ever for us.  We've been truly enjoying them as the principle salad ingredient.  I was thinking about suggesting to a chef friend to serve this kind of simple salad and wondering why restaurants don't do this--simple, because their tomatoes taste like cardboard.  It's divine to have ripe, tasty tomatoes, with basil and onions.  All you need is a little salt, vinegar, and oil.  Sop up the tomato juice and dressing with some hearty bread. 

...Don's Easy Enchiladas: Cut the stems from bunch Swiss chard leaves and chop them and the leaves separately. In a large skillet cook 2 cloves garlic in 1 tbs. oil over moderate heat, stirring, until it is fragrant, stir in the Swiss chard stems and 1/4 cup water, and cook, covered, 5 min. Add the leaves and cook for 3 to 5 min, or until the leaves are tender. Drain  chard mixture in a bowl, toss it with 1# shredded chicken or beef and salt and pepper to taste. Traditionally, corn tortillas are deep fried and then filled-lots of mess and work.  We have discovered that you can take a raw tortilla, brush it with vegetable oil on both sides, put it on a plate.  Then another is brushed on only one side with oil and placed oil side up on the prior one.  And another…until there are about 5.  Invert a plate on top of the stack to form a tight cover and microwave for about 1 ½ min.  Fill and roll the enchiladas and place in an oiled 9x13" pan until full.  Cover with your favorite salsa or tomato sauce and top with a little cheese.  Bake about 20 min. @350 deg. until the flavors merge.