Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chick Check!

Each day, we do a 'chick check'. Jeff checks in on our 350 chicks we're keeping with the Prairie Crossing Learning Farm. His job is to ensure that they are warm, have enough food and have access non-frozen water (which is not as easy as you may think!) every day. They continue to be adorable. Owen and Gavin continue to learn how to do chick checks, too ;)

Watch & read about our collective chicks that will be spending with winter with us all at their Prairie Hens blog.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Week 4: Last Fall CSA Share

Giving Thanks

It's that time of year when we reflect and think about the things we're thankful for. The wonderful family and friends that surround us and supports our decision to farm. Mother Nature who is our guide through the rhythms of the season, challenges us continuously and allow us to grow. Our CSA members who give us ideas, support and your ongoing trust to provide healthy food.

As we close out our vegetable farming season with your last box, we now hope to move to a season of rest and family time. We'll spend December & January ordering seeds, planning our fields, educating new farmers, reading, learning and of course, tending to our animals at the farm. We hope to post a note or two to our blog to keep you posted on what we're thinking ;)

In the meantime, thank you for joining our inaugural fall share! Since this was our first go at a fall share, we'll be curious to hear your feedback (we'll send you a quick survey). We hope that you'll enjoy some of your storage veggies at your Thanksgiving table!

Have a wonderful winter & we look forward to seeing you again this spring!

The Miller Family

This week in your box:

  • Baby Salad Mix
  • Spinach
  • Turnips - These are still young so they shouldn't need to be peeled. Also don't forget to use the greens, they are delicious cooked!
  • Rutabaga - Peel and cook like a potato, we love them mixed in with mashed potatoes.
  • Parsnips
  • Baby Beets
  • Red and Green Bok Choy
  • Kohlrabi
  • Onions
  • Garlic

Top 5 Ways to Prepare Kohlrabi
oot Vegetable Gratin with Blue Cheese (you could use the turnips in this too!)

Soba Noodles with Wilted Bok Choy

Baby Beet & Turnip Salad

1/2 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon fennel seed
1 tablespoon cumin seed

2 pounds baby beets
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed with skin on
2 cups mixed baby greens
1 small sweet onion, sliced thin
1 pound baby turnips, sliced thin
1/4 pound blue cheese

Mix: In a clean coffee grinder, blend ingredients to desired texture.

Salad: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. To prepare the beets, cut leaves and stems off, leaving an inch of stem. Clean beets well with a vegetable scrubber and cut off the root tip. Layer a sheet of foil, then a sheet of parchment paper. Place beets on the parchment paper and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, olive oil, garlic and Z mix. Seal beets by closing parchment and foil like an envelope. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Let the beets cool to room temperature. Toss greens with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add them to a large serving platter. Slice the beets thinly and lay them slightly overlapping each other on top of mixed greens. Lay sliced onions and turnips on top of the beets and greens. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the entire plate and sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Week 3: Fall Share

Fall -- Our Busy Season?

This fall on the farm has been dramatically different than past years. In the past at this time of the year, I would be just about finished with the field work and farm chores would be slowing down dramatically. My work would be moving inside analyzing how things went, closing out our books and getting into planning for next year. This year I am still trying to do all of that but we also still have a lot going on at the farm. There are still veggies growing in the field under, sometimes under cover cloth and sometimes (days like today) in the open. I just finished building a winter hoophouse for our hens and moved them in yesterday. We are caring for our new baby chicks and watching them grow bigger every day. Later this week I will begin retro-fitting part of a barn to house our two gilts (a fancy farmer term for an un-bred female pig) to begin our pig breeding program. Although it has been challenging from a stamina perspective, I am enjoying having such a diverse range of projects. It has also been very rewarding to see big projects completed and to see how well our crops can continue to grow into the fall. We feel all these new ventures are important to our long term success and sustainability of our farm. So, just wait....there's many more adventures to come this spring!

We hope you have a great week and enjoy your eggs and veggies!

In your veggie CSA box this week you'll find...

  • Stir Fry Mix - A delicous mix of baby kale, mustards, and asian greens. These greens are still young and tender and we rarely cook them for more than a couple minutes. They are also delicious on sandwiches and burgers.
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Parsnips
  • Celeriac - Also called celery root, it's a staple in European kitchens. Why is this? Because of its diversity and because of its nutritional benefits. A 1/2 cup of celeriac, which is approximately 112 grams, contains only 30 calories. Additionally, celeriac contains no cholesterol or fat and provides an excellent source of dietary fiber. Because of its taste and consistency, it is also a flavorful additional to meals that require lower calories or certain dietary restrictions.
  • Hakurei Turnips - One of our CSA members reminded us to use the delicious greens from these turnips. They are packed with nutrients and make a great addition to soup or stirfry!
  • Buttnernut Squash
  • Red & Green Cabbage
  • Shallots - Taste between an onion and garlic. If you don't use them all shallots keep very well lasting well into winter.
This week's recipes:
  • Three Ways to Cook Greens in Under 10 Minutes - Hot Wilted Greens, Greens with Warm Pecan Dressing, Pasta with Dark Greens
  • Quick Celery Root Salad with Capers and Lemon

  • Southeast Asian Squash Curry - You can adjust the amount of curry depending on how you like it.


    Serves 4. Published May 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.

    If you don’t have a microwave-safe bowl large enough to accommodate the entire amount of spinach, cook it in a smaller bowl in 2 batches. Reduce the water to 2 tablespoons per batch and cook the spinach for about 1 1/2 minutes.


    3 (6-ounce) bags baby spinach (about 16 cups)
    1/4 cup water
    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil , plus 2 teaspoons for drizzling
    3 large shallots , sliced thin crosswise (about 1 cup)
    Table salt
    2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
    1/3 cup chopped pecans , toasted
    1 1/2 ounces feta cheese , crumbled (about 1/4 cup)


    1. 1. Place spinach and water in large microwave-safe bowl. Cover bowl with large microwave-safe dinner plate (plate should completely cover bowl and not rest on spinach). Microwave on high power until spinach is wilted and decreased in volume by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Using potholders, remove bowl from microwave and keep covered for 1 minute. Carefully remove plate and transfer spinach to colander set in sink. Using back of rubber spatula, gently press spinach against colander to release excess liquid. Transfer spinach to cutting board and roughly chop. Return to colander and press a second time.

    2. 2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil and shallots in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until shallots are golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add spinach to skillet, using tongs to stir and coat with oil. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and continue stirring with tongs until spinach is uniformly wilted and glossy green, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with vinegar and pecans; stir to combine. Drizzle with remaining 2 teaspoons oil and sprinkle with feta. Season with salt to taste and serve immediately.


      Serves 4. Published September 1, 1994.

      Since the vegetables are steamed, the flavor of this puree is sweet and intense. The puree can be refrigerated for up to three days. It can also be frozen in an airtight container.


      1 1/2 pounds parsnips , peeled, cut into 2 1/2-inch lengths, and halved (or quartered and cored, if necessary)
      1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened


      1. 1. Place parsnips in steamer basket in large saucepan with 1 inch of water. Bring to boil; cover and steam over high heat until parsnips can be easily pierced with a thin-bladed knife, about 10 minutes. Reserve cooking liquid.

      2. 2. Transfer mixture to food processor fitted with steel blade or to a food mill. Puree, adding reserved cooking liquid (about 1/4 cup) to achieve desired consistency. Return puree to skilled and reheat, stirring in butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Update: Week 2 Box

Hi all,

This is a quick follow up to our Week 2 Newsletter.

Our celery did not fare as well as we expected with these cold temperatures. So this week, you boxes will have a larger quantity of broccoli instead.

Here’s a DELICIOUS soup recipe we made last year with our fall broccoli – this soup freezes well, too – enjoy!

The Miller Family

Broccoli Soup with Cheddar Cheese Bon Appétit | February 2001

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, room temperature
2 pounds fresh broccoli, stems and florets separated and chopped into bite-size pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon dried
6 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1 cup whipping cream

3 tablespoons all purpose flour

2 cups (packed) grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy medium pot over medium-high heat. Add broccoli stems and onion; sauté until onion is translucent, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and tarragon; sauté 1 minute. Add stock; bring to boil. Simmer uncovered until broccoli is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in cream.
Mix remaining 3 tablespoons butter with flour in small bowl to make paste. Whisk paste into soup. Add broccoli florets. Simmer until soup thickens and florets are tender, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly, then refrigerate uncovered until cold. Cover and keep refrigerated. Bring to simmer before continuing.) Preheat broiler. Place 6 ovenproof soup bowls on baking sheet. Divide soup among bowls. Sprinkle 1/3 cup cheese over each. Broil until cheese melts and bubbles around edges, about 4 minutes.Yield: Makes 6 servings

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Week 2: Fall Veggie & Egg Shares

Fall on the Farm

Our crew has been finished for a couple weeks now so I am back to doing all the farm work (it's like our first season of farming again!). Not having people around to help out has taken a little adjustment. In some ways this means I can be more flexible -- I only have my own day to plan, plan my own errands and I don't need to continually think three steps ahead to make sure everyone is prepared for the next project. In other ways, it is a little tricky I am now doing all the harvesting, washing and packing along with getting the fields ready for winter and caring for the livestock. All in all, I enjoy working on my own, even though some things take a little longer than I expect and its nice to have some time to slow down and think after a very busy summer season.

This week is also brought the first of many big things to be happening on the farm this fall/winter. 350 day-old chicks are coming to increase the size of our flock of layers. We are partnering with The Learning Farm to brood the chicks (half are theirs). We will be sharing space as well as the chores. Last year, we brooded our first batch of chicken in early February in little more than a tent within a tent and heat lamps. There was more than a foot of snow on the ground and it was brutally cold outside. Baby chicks need the temperature to be 95 degrees for the first week of their life dropping the temperature by about 5 deg each week until they are fully feathered. This was very difficult to maintain with the setup we had last year, however, we learned a lot and a much better prepared this year. The Learning Farm has a space much better suited to raising baby chicks for all of us, which is much larger and better insulated. Plus working as a team will provide us all more eyes and hands to help out....which is helpful since we're out numbered with about 115 to 1 person!

In your veggie CSA box, you’ll find:

  • Arugula - Your bunch of arugula can be stored like any other salad green -- in plastic or veggie storage bag in crisper. Cut off the roots and put into salad, or our favorite -- saute with olive oil and garlic very lightly and use as a bed for your favorite hearty fish.
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Kohlrabi - The taste and texture of kohlrabi are similar to those of a broccoli stem or cabbage heart, but milder and sweeter, with a higher ratio of flesh to skin. The young stem in particular can be as crisp and juicy as an apple, although much less sweet.
  • Spigariello Lisca (aka Leaf Broccoli) - With a taste between broccoli and kale, we find this delicious green great to cook with (one of my favorite greens). Cook similar to kale, lighty braised with olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes with a splash of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice at the end.
  • Beets - With wonderful texture and an earthy, nutty flavor. They're nutritious and filling. They can be juiced, boiled, pickled, cooked in soups, mashed, sliced in salads, or roasted. Although they have the highest sugar content of all vegetables, they are very low in calories
  • Hakurei Turnips - Sweet, tender and delicous raw in salads, veggie platters, as a snack or in stirfry. I just heard someone call them the, "Hello Kitty of turnips". No need to peel.
  • Brussels Sprouts (on the stalk) - Keep them on the stalk until you're ready to use them, which will keep them for longer. Simply cut off the sprout, peel off exterior layer and prepare as you like!
  • Celery - This celery is tasty but a little tough (this is common for locally grown celery). It is best used as more as a flavoring in soups.
  • Red Bok Choi - "White cabbage" or Chinese cabbage, put this delicious vegetable into stirfry, soups or saute with a splash of soy sauce at the end.
  • Onions
  • Garlic
Golden Beets and Brussels Sprouts - Roasted beets and parboiled Brussels sprouts are quickly sauteed in a pan with roasted almonds, shallots, and thyme.

Cider-Braised Brussels Sprouts

1 1/2 cup Brussels sprouts, tough ends sliced off and outer leaves removed
1/2 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1/8 to 1/4 cup apple cider
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Cut an X in the bottom of each sprout. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add sprouts and return to a boil. Cook, covered, 20 minutes until sprouts are tender but still firm. Drain. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add sprouts and garlic; sauté 5 minutes, stirring, until garlic is soft and fragrant and sprouts are coated with oil. Add cider and turn heat to high, stirring constantly, until cider is reduced in volume by half, making a sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
Serves 3.

Sweet Broccoli & Kohlrabi Salad
1 small to medium bunch uncooked broccoli, cut into florets
1 or 2 small kohlrabi, peeled, cut into mitchsticks
1/2 cup crumbled cooked bacon
1/2 cup cashews (or other nuts)
1/3 cup raisins (or other dried or fresh fruit, such as cranberries or apricots)
1/4 cup chopped red onion (or scallions)

1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Mix the broccoli, kohlrabi, bacon, nuts, raisins and onions together in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat dressing ingredients together gently until smooth. About 10 minutes before serving, toss the salad with teh dressing to allow the flavors to blend.

Cream of Celery Soup with Bacon

Braised Hakurei Turnips

Easy Hakurei Turnip Gratin with Thyme

2 teaspoons butter
4 Hakurei turnips, greens removed, turnips sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Melt butter in a medium non-stick skillet. Layer the sliced turnips in the pan. Sprinkle with thyme, salt, pepper and cayenne. Cook for 3 minutes over medium heat, then pour the cream and stock over the top. Cover and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. The turnips will be completely cooked, but there will be liquid left in the pan. Remove the cover and cook to reduce the liquid. When most of the liquid has reduced, and the sauce is thickened, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top. Serve hot.

Serves 2.

Have a great week!
The Miller Family