Spring Basket Week 5

Happy Memorial Day!

We hope you are enjoying this traditional start-of-the-summer holiday.  The nice weather yesterday makes up for overcast and rain today, and the warmer temperatures surely signal that summer is really here!  Last week’s temps in the 30’s caused us to cover many of the crops that we had set out in the 80 degree weather the previous days.  Whatever, it’s Indiana weather. We ought to be used to it!

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Swiss Chard

This week is the final week of the Spring Salad Bowl session.  We have fresh salad greens this week, along with radishes, green onions, and your choice of kale or Swiss chard.  This will probably be our last week of asparagus.  We also have fresh eggs in your basket, and if all the stars align, fresh goat cheese.  Keep your fingers crossed! Herbs available this week include thyme, oregano, cilantro and chives.  And we have plenty of rhubarb available too.

We will also have a special Old Loon Farm baked item in your basket this week: our own recipe whole grain granola!  

The Whitley County Farmers Market in downtown Columbia City has been open now for three Saturdays and is really an event you ought to check out, if you haven’t been there yet.  We vend from the Market Street side; come and visit when you’re downtown! You will be amazed at the broad array of foods and beautiful crafts available from the many small farmers and artisans in this and adjacent counties.

More about the greens.  Swiss chard is another one of those nutrition-packed greens that often replaces spinach in summer diets as the weather heats up.  Spinach bolts to seed, and chard thrives in the heat.  It’s a great source of vitamins A, K  and C.  It can be steamed, sauteed, boiled, or baked. Try it in salads, add it to soups, try it as a side vegetable, saute it into a frittata, or baked into a gorgeous quiche.

Early kale is great in salads, soups and is also full of nutrients. It’s another one of the so-called super foods!  Here’s our favorite Kale Salad recipe:  Wash and chop the young kale crosswise, removing the stems.  Crush a clove of garlic and soak it in the juice of 1 lemon for 15-20 minutes.  Add some honey, salt, pepper and olive oil to the lemon juice/garlic mix to complete the dressing. Adjust seasonings to your personal taste. Add dressing to the chopped kale and let the salad set for an hour or two. Before serving, add a handful of dried fruits such as cranberries or apricots, or fresh fruits such as apples or nectarines, and a handful of nuts or toasted seeds.  Toss.   This salad holds well, it’s great left over!

Enjoy your week!

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Spring Basket Week 4

sweet potato rows

Sweet potatoes are in!

Good morning!

Lots happening these days on the farm.  We’re dodging cold weather, hot weather, and rain, and enjoying the sunshine in between.  We’ve got the sweet potatoes in the ground (yay!) and some tomatoes, beans, and other warm lovers.  We hear the temp is supposed to drop to 38 degrees tomorrow night, though, so we might hold off transplanting peppers till later this week.  Hopefully the weather won’t get that chilly!

This week’s basket includes

  • Fresh salad greens – including arugula, spinach and lettuce varieties.
  • Asian Greens – both young mustard greens and tat soi.
  • Asparagus –  one pound. Additional available at a discount for members
  • Scallions – young green onions
  • Chuck’s Chicks Fresh Eggs – One dozen; additional available at a discount for members
  • Radish – a bit iffy, they’re maturing somewhat haphazardly
  • Herbs this week are chives and oregano 
  • Goat Cheese  – Sorry, no cheese this week!

Last week it was Goats 1, Jane 0, as we contended with low production, an unruly nanny, kicked buckets and one full milk-bath for Jane. So far, this week isn’t going any better! Time to reboot!

Mustard greens and tat soi are in this week’s basket.  Leafy mustard greens are packed with nutrients – vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients – are low in calories and fats, and high in fiber.  They’re GOOD FOR YOU!  One of the easiest ways to fix mustard greens is to chop crosswise into 1″ – 2″ pieces and wilt them in a saute pan with your favorite additions – garlic, bacon, white wine, mushrooms, almonds and/or spices.  The young (baby) leaves add a spicy punch to your green salads.  Chop and steam leaves lightly and add to your favorite pasta with some fine grated cheese and you’ have a wonderful dinner!  check the Internet for many and varied recipes for mustard greens.

tat soi

Tat soi

Also in the basket is tat soi.  This vegetable of the brassica family is sometimes called spinach mustard or rosette bok choy, and it adds great flavor to your green salads.  It can be stir-fried lightly as well, and added to your scrambled eggs, pasta or served as a side.  Again, check the internet for more ways to prepare tat soi!

Have a wonderful week.  And enjoy all of May’s beautiful gifts!

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Spring Basket – Week 3

May 11, 2015

Hey,  Farm Friends!

A bit wet this week out on our place, and it sounds like a little cooler weather is coming up, but that will keep our asparagus and other spring crops coming on. The heat is hard on these spring greens.

This is week 3 and we’re still busy planting.  Sweet potato plants will arrive this week, and tomatoes, peppers and other transplants are going in. Plus a lot of direct seeding going on. And weeds are growing!

Here’s the basket this week:

  •  Fresh Salad greens – arugula, spinach, variety lettuce
  • Asparagus – 1 lb. Additional available to members for @ $3.50/lb. (50 cent discount)
  • Rhubarb – 1 bunch
  • Radishes – just starting to come on, so probably a small bunch
  • Farm fresh Chuck’s Chicks© eggs – 1 dozen. Additional eggs are always available to CSA members for $2.50/dozen (50 cent discount)
  • Fresh goat cheese – 4 oz. package of chevre.
  • Herbs of the week:   French Tarragon

Here’s a bit more info about tarragon, in case you’re unfamiliar with this lovely herb:

tarragon

When tarragon is dried, the oils dissipate. Thus, fresh tarragon has a much more intense flavor than dried, and should be used sparingly.
• To retain the most flavor of fresh tarragon during storage, freeze whole sprigs in an airtight baggie for 3 to 5 months. No need to defrost before using. • Dried tarragon should be kept in a sealed container in a cool, dark place and used within 1 year.  • Heat greatly intensifies the flavor of tarragon, both fresh and dried.   • Tarragon vinegar is easy to make. Put fresh tarragon sprigs into a sterilized bottle of distilled white vinegar. Taste after a few days. Continue steeping until it suits your taste. Once desired strength is achieved, remove the sprigs.  • Vinegar can also be used to preserve fresh tarragon sprigs. Store in the refrigerator. Rinse and pat dry before use. Use the preserved tarragon in sauces, butters, or any recipe where fresh is not required. • Tarragon is also a good herb to use in infused oils. http://homecooking.about.com/od/herbsspices1/a/tarragontips.htm

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What’s not to love?

arugula saladFresh spring dinners on the farm – what’s not to love?  This lovely salad is as delicious as it looks.  Fresh arugula, toasted  pumpkin seeds, chive-studded chevre, dried cranberries tossed with extra virgin olive oil and white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  Oh, my!

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Spring Season Week 2

Good morning, Farm Friends!

garden 1

The lettuce beds are opened up to the warm sunshine in our Kitchen Garden.

What a lovely weekend and a perfect start to the month of May.  We hope the great weather continues!  We’ve been working every square inch of our gardens for the past few weeks, and are hardening off our greenhouse plants – tomatoes, peppers, herbs and other warm weather loving vegetables – that need really warm soil temperatures to thrive in the outside environment.

This is week 2, and we’re introducing you to more of Old Loon Farm specialties along with fresh produce from the garden.    This week is bread and jam week!

  •  Jane’s Grains whole grain bread – one loaf of our famous bread
  • Old Loon Farm jam – to top your bread, one small jar of our own fresh fruit jam
  • Fresh Salad greens – arugula, spinach, variety lettuce
  • Asparagus – 1 lb. bunch. Additional available to members @ $3.50/lb. (50 cent discount)
  • Farm fresh Chuck’s Chicks© eggs – 1 dozen. Additional eggs are always available to CSA members for $2.50/dozen (50 cent discount)
  • Herbs of the week: thyme, oregano.  Thyme is one of those essential herbs for chicken dishes and BBQ rubs and sauces.  Oregano, of course, brings anything Italian to mind.  Chop some finely with garlic and onion, brown lightly in a bit of extra virgin olive oil, and toss in a can of diced or ground tomatoes.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes, adjust salt and pepper, and you’ve got a quick, fresh and delicious pasta sauce!
  • cheeses

    Experimenting with additions to our chevre: coarse black pepper, our own dried tomatoes, fresh chives.

    Fresh goat cheese – 4 oz. package of chevre. This week we’re enhancing the cheese with our own fresh herbs, dried tomatoes and/or fresh ground pepper.

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Spring Basket #1 Week of April 26 – May 4

Good Morning Old Loon Farm Friends!

This week we’re so grateful for sunshine and heat!  Last week’s rains were welcome, but the frost not so much.  Our asparagus was coming along nicely before the freeze; now it will have to recoup a bit!

This week’s 1st Spring Basket includes:

  • 1 Dozen Farm Fresh Eggs
  • 1 bag fresh salad greens mix
  • 1 bouquet fresh chives
  • 1 bouquet fresh sorrel
  • 1 small bunch rhubarb
  • 1 package of fresh goat’s cheese
  • 1 package Old Loon Farm breakfast scones
  • and (hopefully) 1 small bunch fresh asparagus

If you’re not familiar with the herb sorrel, it’s lemony and tangy and tart.  Chop it finely and add the greens directly to your salad, or mince and add the greens to your vinaigrette or mayo-based dressing. It’ll add a tangy kick to your favorite salad.  Google it for more recipes.

Here’s a bit more about our goat cheese:  On Old Loon Farm, we milk our goats daily during the Spring and Summer, filter the milk, and use it for baking or making fudge, or making cheese.  Since we are not a licensed dairy, we do not sell our cheese to the public. But CSA customers, by contract, purchase in advance a share of the products of our farm, so we often include goat cheese in our weekly baskets. If you prefer not to receive goat cheese, just let us know. As per U.S. law, our milk is pasteurized prior to making fresh cheeses.

Goat cheese has been made for thousands of years, in many parts of the world.  Goat milk has particular medium-chain fatty acids which give it a characteristic tart, earthy flavor. Although goat’s milk and cow’s milk have similar total fat content, goat milk is more naturally homogenized than cow’s milk, meaning the cream doesn’t rise to the top as it does in raw cow’s milk. Because of this, it’s often easier to digest than cow’s milk for many people.

In early Spring, when new grass is abundant in the pasture, the soft, creamy cheese (known as chevre) is mild and creamy.  It can be eaten plain on flatbread or crackers, or mixed with savory herbs or sweet fruit and honey.  Often we let the cheese drain for a longer period of time, producing a crumble cheese, which is delicious on salads, topping pizzas or mixing with the softer cheese for spreads.  (Arugula, beet and crumbled chevre is one of our very favorite summer salads!)  Finally, we make a sharp feta which is preserved in brine. Also delicious in salads and spreads.

As the seasons progress and the pasture changes, the flavor of the milk also changes.  High summer produces a sharper flavored cheese, still wonderful for soft chevres, but also perfect for hard, aged cheeses. This year we hope to experiment with more of those hard cheeses.  We hope you enjoy the very delicious, very seasonal goat cheese from our farm!

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Spring Season Starts

Entry sign

With the arrival of April, green has come to Indiana!  Old Loon Farm is waking from its winter sleep and we’re open for seasonal business for 2015!

Our 2015 CSA season starts the first week of May. Our chickens are laying as if their lives depended on it – maybe they’re right! – and so there are plenty of omelets in our future. We have eggs for sale daily – farm fresh, free range and exquisitely tasty!

We’ve got lots of tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and a large variety of other vegetables growing in our greenhouse. This week we set out everbearing strawberries and Napa cabbage into the two low tunnels that are ready for use; two more tunnels are still under construction.

From one day to the next, the colors change, the plants grow insanely fast, and our outlook changes.  Here around Loon Lake, piers and boats are going into the water, cottages are opening for the season and traffic seems to increase daily.  It’s in the air – welcome to lake asparagus croppedseason!  One of the earliest crops on our farm is asparagus.  We checked the field on Thursday evening and harvested exactly 5 spears.  By Saturday, it was a different story – enough for several meals!  We will have asparagus for sale at the farm as long as it lasts into late spring.  And that Midwest favorite, rhubarb, is coming along nicely.  Won’t be long now before we have fresh rhubarb pie and jam.

Time to plant potatoes, onions, peas and beets, hopefully ahead of the predicted rains.  You’ll hear more from us soon!

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