Thursday, October 28, 2010

Week 1: Fall Veggie & Egg Shares

This week is the first week for fall CSA share and it’s been a bit of a whirlwind -- and it’s not just the windy weather!

Fall on the Farm

It has been a rough week to work out side, I find being out in the strong wind as exhausting as the long hot days of summer(plus I had to run around and make sure everything was buttoned down so it wouldn't blow away). Luckily we didn't have any serious damage and it seems like most of the wind has past.

Fall is definitely a time of adjustment. We’ve just completed our summer CSA (thank you to member who have stayed with us this fall!), completed our summer markets (thank you to those joining us from the markets!) and we’re starting a new adventure (thank you to YOU for joining us for our inaugural fall share!).

The fall veggie share came to us last fall when we had a lot food left in the field in late October/November. Many of our crops enjoy the cooler weather and actually, taste much better because of those deep frosts. We wanted to offer these veggies to our customers and continue to farm as long as we could.

It’s our goal to eventually farm year-round. Unlike farms in warmer climates, this takes a good deal of planning and creative thinking. One way we’re doing this is that we’ve built a hoop house structure this year to extend our egg season. The chickens don't mind the cold, but aren't wild about the snow and will produce more eggs if they don't need to put all their energy doesn't go towards keeping them warm….so they’ll be spending their fall/winter months in a hoop house, which is essentially a green-house built on soil (rather than a gravel/fabric flooring). The chickens tend to slow in their egg production with less sunlight, but we’re still expecting an egg every other day from our 150 chickens. We’re also increasing the size of our flock by 175 next week. They’ll be kept in a separate structure and you’ll likely see eggs from them next year.

We’ll continue to share more about the happenings during the fall at the farm in weeks to come…until then, enjoy your fall-sweetened veggies and eggs this week!

In your veggie CSA box, you’ll find:

  • Baby Salad Mix - Sweet and tender
  • Mesclun Mix - A mix with some spicy mustards and sweet asian greens
  • Parsnips - While parsnips can be eaten raw, they are more commonly served cooked. Parsnips can be boiled, roasted or used in stews, soups and casseroles. Larger parsnips may have a tough core which should be removed.
  • Turnips - Cook like a potato, roasted boiled, mashed etc. Smaller one don't need to be peeled whereas you will probably want to peel the larger ones.
  • Rutabaga - Sometimes called swedes or yellow turnips. Rutabagas can be cooked just like a turnip or potato.
  • Russet Potatoes - These are little guys but are delicious roasted.
  • Butternut Squash
  • Broccoli (see photo above) - I love broccoli this time of year, it is a joy to grow and has the best flavor. As I harvested broccoli this morning I was amazed at how big and beautiful it had gotten in this cool weather.
  • French Breakfast Radishes - French Breakfast radishes have a more mild flavor than regular radishes and after a couple frosts their sweetness really comes through.
  • Mustard Greens - With a distinct horseradish-mustard flavor mustards are delicious sauteed, in stir fries and in soups.
  • Cipolini Onions - A rich flavored onion of Italian origin, cipolinis are perfect for roasting which really brings out their sweetness and flavor.
  • Garlic
Cider-Glazed Roasted Root Vegetables This would be delicious with the parsnips, cipolinis, turnips, rutabagas and potatoes. Regular apple cider would be fine. Also, keep an eye on them the cooking time in the recipe might be a little long.

Mustard Greens with Chipotle and Bacon

Balsamic-Glazed Chickpeas and Mustard Greens

Silky Butternut Squash Soup

If you don’t own a folding steamer basket, a pasta pot with a removable pasta insert works well. Some nice garnishes for the soup are freshly grated nutmeg, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of paprika, or Buttered Cinnamon-Sugar Croutons (see related recipe).


Silky Butternut Squash Soup
4tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2medium shallots , minced (about 4 tablespoons)
3pounds butternut squash (about 1 large), unpeeled, squash halved lengthwise, seeds and stringy fibers scraped with spoon and reserved (about 1/4 cup), and each half cut into quarters
6cups water 6

1/2cup heavy cream
1teaspoon dark brown sugar
Cinnamon-Sugar Croutons
4slices white sandwich bread , cut into 1/2-inch cubes with crusts removed
2tablespoons melted butter
4teaspoons sugar
1teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. For the Soup
    1. Heat butter in large Dutch oven over medium-low heat until foaming; add shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add squash scrapings and seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and butter turns saffron color, about 4 minutes. Add 6 cups water and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to Dutch oven and bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low, place squash cut-side down in steamer basket, and lower basket into pot. Cover and steam until squash is completely tender, about 30 minutes. Off heat, use tongs to transfer squash to rimmed baking sheet; reserve steaming liquid. When cool enough to handle, use large spoon to scrape flesh from skin into medium bowl; discard skin.

  2. 2. Pour reserved steaming liquid through mesh strainer into second bowl; discard solids in strainer. Rinse and dry Dutch oven.

  3. 3. In blender, puree squash and reserved liquid in batches, pulsing on low until smooth. Transfer puree to Dutch oven; stir in cream and brown sugar and heat over medium-low heat until hot. Add salt to taste; serve immediately.

  4. For the Croutons
    1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the bread cubes with melted butter in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon and sugar; sprinkle over the bread cubes and toss to combine.

  5. 2. Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes (The croutons can be stored in an airtight container for several days.) Sprinkle over soup just before serving.

Let us know if you have any questions,
Jeff, Jen, Owen & Gavin

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thank you to all Full Shares & Lake Bluff/MKE Half Share Members!

Thank YOU for your membership this year!

Jeff has oftentimes said that our CSA is a motivating reason for us to farm. Each year, we enjoy farming the basic and new crops, sharing the freshest produce we have with our CSA members and then hearing all of the different culinary uses. We hope you've enjoyed the journey of the season and we also hope you'll join us again next year.

Until then, we'll be in touch to gather your thoughts/feedback and share the happenings on the farm. Finally, if you are inclined, we encourage you to share your comments about the program, our farm, the food, more on We've found this to be a great source to those interested in CSA and we believe potential customers would like to hear directly from our current CSA members about your experience. Thank you!

Best and see you soon!
Jeff, Jen, Owen & Gavin Miller

Update from the farm & this week's box

(more of these little gals coming soon!)

This past week was a very busy one around the farm! The pigs went to market, Jeff took a field trip to nearby trout farm, mushroom farm & lamb processing facility, and our crew had their last day with us today. Like spring, fall time is a season of slowing down, business planning, education and planting garlic for the 2011 season.

The next few weeks, Jeff will lead manager and worker on our fall CSA. He'll also be actively preparing the animals' shelter for winter and getting new chicks to increase our chicken population. Join us on Facebook to continue to watch the structures come to life and the farm continue through the winter.

In the meantime, we'll have eggs available throughout the winter in the long, white barn at the farm (please let us know if you need more information) as well as for sale at this week's CSA pick ups. (in Grayslake, please ask at the farm stand if you're interested)

Finally in this week's box, you'll find a variety of sweet greens (our greens love all of these frosts we've received) and items that we started as transplants early this season (e.g., celeriac). Enjoy your share this week!

Best, J&J



Stir Fry Mix - A popular addition to a stir fry (add as one of the last additions), this mix includes items such as Hon Tsai Tai, Komatsuna, Red Russian kale, Southern Giant and Red Giant mustards, and Tatsoi for great flavor and color.

Haruki Turnips (sweet salad turnips)- A favorite at our markets this year, try these raw, chopped in a salad or lightly sautéed in butter.

Red & Green Bibb Lettuce

Mixed Beet Bunch - In this mixed beet bunch, you'll likely find a mixture of red, bull's blood (deep red) and chioggia (pink) beets.. Don't throw away their tops/greens! They are delicious (bull's blood beets are known for their delicious tops). Here's a recipe for preparing them -- then, we always throw the beets on top for a great beet side dish.

Beet Greens

While this recipe calls for discarding the stems, if you want you can use them too if they aren't too woody. Just cut them into 1-inch segments and add them to the onions after the onions have been cooking for a minute.


  • 1 pound beet greens
  • 1 strip of thick cut bacon, chopped (or a tablespoon of bacon fat)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/6 cup of cider vinegar


1 Wash the greens in a sink filled with cold water. Drain greens and wash a second time. Drain greens and cut away any heavy stems. Cut leaves into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

2 In a large skillet or 3-qt saucepan, cook bacon until lightly browned on medium heat (or heat 1 Tbsp of bacon fat). Add onions, cook over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occassionally, until onions soften and start to brown. Stir in garlic. Add water to the hot pan, stirring to loosen any particles from bottom of pan. Stir in sugar and red pepper. Bring mixture to a boil.

3 Add the beet greens, gently toss in the onion mixture so the greens are well coated. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 5-15 minutes until the greens are tender. Stir in vinegar. (For kale or collard greens continue cooking additional 20 to 25 minutes or until desired tenderness.)

Serves 4. (

Cabbage - Even though we're not Irish, we still love our Corned Beef and Cabbage. Here's a classic recipe that is perfect for a lazy, fall Sunday.

Celeriac (celery root) - Here's a great article about this "unsung frog prince" of winter veggies. We love it as an addition to our smashed potatoes, which is nicely paired with pulled pork braised in apple cider. This was a menu we put together for a farm benefit we threw last year to raise money for a friend, and the combination was as memorable as the event!

Celery - A note from last week's newsletter and a few storage tips: To store celery, place it in a sealed container or wrap it in a plastic bag or damp cloth and store it in the refrigerator. If you are storing cut or peeled celery, ensure that it is dry and free from water residue, as this can drain some of its nutrients. Freezing will make celery wilt and should be avoided unless you will be using it in a future cooked recipe.


Week 20: Your CSA Box

Hi there,

This is what we anticipate will be in your CSA box this week:

Stir Fry Mix
Haruki Turnips (sweet salad turnips)
Red & Green Bibb Lettuce
Mixed Beet Bunch
Celeriac (celery root)

More info/ideas to come this evening!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thank you Grayslake, Lake Bluff Bi-Weekly Shares!

Thank you to those of you who end your season with us this week (Grayslake & Lake Bluff Bi-Weekly Shares)!

We'll be reaching out to you again to get your feedback & let you know what we're up to this fall, winter, spring....but we hope we can personally say sometime in the coming days, "Thank you, stay in touch this winter & hope you'll join us in the spring!"

We'll bid the Full Shares and Deerfield, Milwaukee bi-weeklys adieu next week (we'll send a reminder of locations & times).

Jeff, Jen, Owen & Gavin Miller

This week in your box (week 19)

Hi there,

With the crisp, cool weather back, we're cooking more warm, cozy foods. In your box this week, we hope you'll enjoy the ingredients to make comfy autumn meals with a few recipes from below. Please share any other great uses you find for your produce in the comments section!

Romaine Lettuce

Salad Mix

Green Curly Kale - Rumor has it, this recipe comes from a certain Italian chain restaurant. Not sure if that is true, but it sinful & delicious. I strayed from the recipe a bit -- substituting chicken stock for bouillon and water. Also, I added a whole bunch of kale (because we love it) and went easy on the heavy cream. Still kid approved!

Makes: 6-8 servings


  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1½ tsp crushed red peppers
  • 1 large diced white onion
  • 4 Tbsp bacon pieces
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 10 cups water
  • 5 cubes of chicken bouillon
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb sliced Russet potatoes, or about 3 large potatoes
  • ¼ of a bunch of kale
  1. Sauté Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in a large pot. Drain excess fat, refrigerate while you prepare other ingredients.
  2. In the same pan, sauté bacon, onions and garlic over low-medium heat for approximately 15 mins. or until the onions are soft.
  3. Add chicken bouillon and water to the pot and heat until it starts to boil.
  4. Add the sliced potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour.
  5. Add the heavy cream and just cook until thoroughly heated.
  6. Stir in the sausage and the kale, let all heat through and serve.
Celery - Our celery tends to be very flavorful, and is better when used for cooking. Throw it into your favorite soup or your mirepoix (mixture of onion, celery, carrots) as a base for any dish. The celery stalks with leaves are especially good for making vegetable stock. I tend to throw them into mixture of whatever is left in the fridge for a great base for minestrone.

Rutabaga - In case you still have some butternut squash, here's a recipe where you can use it, too!

Butternut Squash and Rutabaga Purée Bon Appétit | December 1998

Yield: Serves 10

4 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup (or more) canned low-salt chicken broth
3 pounds rutabagas, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange butternut squash in single layer in 13 x9 x2-inch glass baking dish. Add 1 cup broth. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until squash is very tender, about 45 minutes. Drain squash. Transfer squash to processor.

Meanwhile, cook rutabagas in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain. Add to squash in processor. Process until mixture is smooth, adding more broth if necessary.

Transfer squash and rutabaga pureée to heavy large saucepan. Add butter. Stir over low heat until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer purée to bowl. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool. Cover and chill. Rewarm over low heat.)

Parsnips - We've (literally) been waiting all season for one of our favorite crops, the parsnip. It's so unassuming, yet sweet and delicious. This season's crop seemed to fair well with the warm summer and consistent irrigation.

Parsnip and Pear Latkes

Bon Appétit | December 2006

Serve with chopped celery leaves and horseradish mixed into sour cream. Look for panko at Asian markets and in the Asian foods section of supermarkets.

Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings

1 6- to 7-ounce underripe Bosc pear, quartered, cored
1 7- to 8-ounce parsnip, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped celery leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons drained white horseradish
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
Vegetable oil (for frying)

Using coarse grating blade, shred pear in processor. Transfer to paper towels; squeeze very dry. Transfer to large bowl. Shred parsnip in processor; add to pear. Mix in next 4 ingredients, then panko and a sprinkle of black pepper. Coat bottom of large skillet with oil; heat over medium heat. Drop batter by packed 1/4 cupfuls into skillet; flatten to 1/2-inch thickness. Sauté until brown and cooked, about 4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.


Bok Choi - See last week's newsletter for a description & ideas for these two Asian greens.

Tokyo Bekana - Last night, we mixed in our Tokyo Bekana (in place of spinich) with our butternut squash curry - it was a nice sweetness added to the curry (recipe in our Week 14 post).




Your anticipated CSA box this week

Here is what we predict will be in your box this week (note: these lists sometimes change due to conditions of crops, fields, etc.):

Romaine Lettuce
Salad Mix
Green Curly Kale
Bok Choi
Tokyo Bekana

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Guys, Gourds & Greens: A Note and Update on Your CSA Box (Week 18)

I couldn't help the alliteration, since I've been thinking of all three this week! Let me tell you why:

-- Guys. Our little guys (Owen, 5 1/2 & Gavin, ~2) surprised us this week. They wanted to spend Sunday as a family at the farm. Sometimes they get dragged to the farm to turn off irrigation with dad or water the chicks in the cold of winter, but this Sunday we had a blast together playing with chickens, gathering eggs, walking the fields and just enjoying the peaceful day together. Owen told mom all about how to collect eggs, feed chickens and harvest rutabagas. Nothing makes us more proud than our sons enjoying the little things we enjoy as we farm.

-- Gourds. We've had a bumper crop of gourds this year (you may have noticed with the abundance of butternut squash! :)). We hope you're enjoying them or storing them as we are for a later date. We tend to save ours for a family favorite: butternut soup for Thanksgiving dinner. They last quite a while in a cool place. Also, we'll have pumpkins at our markets. We wished we had enough for all CSA members, but unfortunately not so this year. But we hope you'll find one you like in Lake Bluff or Deerfield!

-- Greens. As the weather cools, it's a great time for growing greens. They tend to be sweeter with the cool weather, staying nice and mildly cool under a cover to protect them from frosts.

Enjoy and have a great week!

Here is what's in your box this week:

Red & Green Lettuce

Swiss Chard - See earlier entries for good ideas!

Butternut Squash

Herb-Crusted Butternut Squash Wedges

(source: Washington Post)

3 small butternut squash, about 8 ounces each (a total of 1 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
1/3 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Slice off the stem and root ends of each squash. Working with one at a time, stand the squash on its root end. Cut the squash in half vertically from top to bottom, then cut each half into 2 or 3 wedges, discarding the seeds in each wedge. Repeat with the remaining squash. (The squash can be peeled, if desired.)

3. Place the wedges on the prepared baking sheet and toss with the oil until well coated, then arrange so that the wedges' points are facing upward. Sprinkle with the Herbes de Provence (crushing them between your fingers as you work) and salt, then season with pepper to taste. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 30 minutes; carefully remove the foil and let the wedges roast for another 20 to 30 minutes (depending on their size), until they are fork-tender and starting to brown. Let sit for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before serving. (As the squash is eaten, it is scraped off its baked skin.)

Broccoli spigarello or leaf broccoli- A native to southern Italy, this specialty green has greyish tinted thin leaves. And it has a very distinctive tangy flavor. Once you cook it, the leaves turn a dark green and the flavors soften to something more like spinach without the edge. It's easy to prepare. Simply cut off the long stems, blanch the leaves in boiling water for about 3 minutes, drain and then saute in olive oil with garlic, onions or shallots. It's wonderful as a side dish or can be incorporated in stuffed pastas or lasagna, tossed with pasta and shell fish or mixed with cheese into a stuffing for fish or even a rolled flank steak.

Tokyo Bekana - The green leaves of this loose-head Chinese cabbage from Japan grace any salad. The leaves ruffle and curl at the edges, and, at full size, these tender leaves extend from slim white stems that widen at the base. While a easy addition to salads, this young cabbage is crisp enough to hold its own in a stir-fry or soup, as well.

Pac Choi - Pac Choi, Bok Choy, & Pak Choi are all different spellings for the same vegetable. Whichever name you use, it's the ultimate green vegetable for stir-fries.

Tofu and Bok Choy Stir-Fry Bon Appétit | September 1998

Yield: Serves 2

1 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry Sherry
1 teaspoon oriental sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
3 1/2 cups thinly sliced trimmed bok choy
1 5-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained
3 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
10 1/2 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

Combine first 4 ingredients in small bowl; mix well. Heat vegetable oil until very hot in heavy large wok or skillet over high heat. Add garlic, ginger and crushed red pepper. Stir-fry until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add bok choy and stir-fry until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Mix in water chestnuts and green onions and stir-fry until onions are tender, about 1 minute. Add tofu and lightly stir-fry until tofu is just heated through, about 2 minutes. Pour over soy mixture. Stir-fry until liquid boils and thickens, about 1 minute.

1 lb bag of garlic
- Garlic keeps well if stored in a cool dark place. We also Roast Garlic and freeze it in an ice cube tray so we have some ready when we want it. ***Deerfield and Milwaukee members get garlic this week.



Green Bell Peppers