Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the farm!!!

It's that time of the year again and we almost can't believe another year has come and gone! We also can't believe it's been almost 2 years since we've seen SMASHY!!  We miss you girlie!!!! 
It's been quite a ride, lots of challenges, lots of work, but a ton of laughs along the way too. The crops did surprisingly well despite the drought this year and late head start. One of our Mexican guys suffered a medical emergency and was hospitalized but thank goodness is now A-ok!! Panzer the pup grew into a beautiful big boy and is no longer ripping the heads off of chickens!!! We had the second annual Evergreen bus tour down to the farm, had a great meal and help getting some work done! Our sweet corn was awesome, tomatoes were so-so, cabbage crop was awesome too! We dropped one market this year and we've missed it and the income it provided, so we'll try and pick it up again for next year!  It's pretty tough trying to do it all, but we always seem to manage!!

 We'd like to wish everyone, all our customers, friend's and family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

****For Smashy:****
We wish you happiness and peace in the New Year kiddo and nothing but the best always.  You are in our thoughts daily and our memories make us giggle remembering all the fun times.  We promise to continue to take good care of Lady Bug, who is getting very, very lazy without her commander and chief.  When I asked dad if he had a  message for you, he said:  "Hey Austin!  Wake up and smell the cinnamon buns!!"  I bet you miss those eh? The first pic of dad immediately made me think of you, that's why it's the first one I posted! Your dad loves you and talks about you all the time.  We are always, always here for you. The farm family will never change. One phone call from you anywhere and we're on the road!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What are you eating during the holidays?

We had a busy day on Saturday selling to our Brickwork customers who were happily stocking up for the holiday season.  A buzz of recipe ideas were shared around our tables full of Brussel Sprouts, Leeks, Celeriac, Potatoes, Garlic and Cabbages.  As I fulfilled Cabbage Roll orders and sold Perogies like a mad hatter, the big talk was how popular root celery has become.  I've been spreading the word about celeriac mashed potatoes  and it has become quite popular!  You simply buy one of our knarly looking roots, peel it good, chop it along with your potatoes, boil & mash for a great celery tasting mashed spud dish!  Perfect along side turkey or chicken for your holiday meal.  Roasting fingerlings is a great thing to do this time of year!  I like to roast red golds, russian blues and the buttery fingerlings together with garlic cloves, olive oil and sea salt.  Smash on plate and smother with gravy and what a satisfying side indeed! Boil your Brussel's in some chicken stock, toss with fresh minced garlic butter and throw beside your spuds! Ahh, and since it's been such a nice freakishly warm winter, I've been able to pick unbelievably sweet Spinach from the field!  (I may get adventurous and head out there to harvest some fresh for Dufferin Grove for Thursday!) So a garlicy spinach dip as an appetizer, fresh spinach salads, hot cheezy spinach lasagna etc, etc all week long! Head to the market to stock up and enjoy cooking and eating our seasonal veg! Psst..the Brussel Sprouts are STILL being harvested FRESH from the fields!! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The start of ultimate Comfort Food!!

We make the best of every single season around here.  So when there is not much 'fresh' left in the fields and we are stocked to the rafters with storage vegetables, the slow cooker comes out!  There is something soo comforting about coming in from the barn all wet, tired & dirty from sorting storage crops to the warmth of the home and the smell of the slow cooker!!!  A few weeks ago our organic dairy neighbor came by and asked us if we wanted a young bull they had to send to the butcher.  Oh yes, a freezer full of good organic beef for the winter!!  So off Ben and I went to our local butcher over a week later to cut and wrap.  The rules have changed at our butchers, so we now have to 'dress like a butcher' in their white coats, hair nets and Ben had to wear a net on his beard!!  HAHAHA!  We thought we were safe from running into anyone we knew, but no, a friend of ours, Pete, got to see us in our amateur butcher get-ups!  Anyhow, down to the business of beef.  I had our butcher cut the 'Texas Ribs' into a 'braising style' perfect for slow cooking and even BBQing.  There are lots of recipes out there for Braising Ribs.
How we like them:  BRAISED BEEF RIBS W/ WINTER VEGETABLES  Using Organic Sunflower oil I braise the ribs (which I have dredged in flour) on both sides until golden brown. (see pic below - YUM!)  I use a big heavy bottom pot for this. They then go into the slow cooker. 
 Then in all the beefy bits left in the big pot, I add a couple tablespoons of rich organic butter.  Then I add a couple chopped Onions, 5 chopped Carrots, 1 big Leeks Chopped, 2 Bell Peppers  chopped (optional, only because I still had them in our storage cooler), chopped garlic - lots!  Render until onions soft, but not overkill! 10 mins at most.  Now add about 1/2 Cup of Flour to your pot and stir well.  Cook the flour in a bit in and around all your veg.  Now add a few cups to cover of  Beef Broth and Red Wine. On a medium heat stir and let thicken nicely.  Sea Salt & Pepper to taste.  Add herbs you like.  Parsley is a good one, Thyme too. Now dump this magical vegetable stew onto your braised ribs sitting in your crock pot just waiting and stir all together.  Cook on high in your slow cooker for 4-5 hours.  After 3 hours, add some buttery fingerling potatoes!  I cut them in half.  This is one yummy, yummy warm tempting dish to enjoy when the weather isn't pleasant. And guess what?  You can get all the veg in this recipe from us at market this week!! Oh, I lied, not the carrots.  Try Pine River Organics for the most clean, sweet carrots around! Snow is coming!  Get your slow cooker out and ready!

Still harvesting Brussel Sprouts!

So it's now a couple days away from December and our 'sprouts are still in the ground!  This picture was taken last Friday and these freshly picked sprouts were sold at the Brickwork's Saturday morning market.  There will be another abundance this week as well!  At any given market I seem to be answering the same questions about Brussels.  Usually a home gardener has tried to grow them with no luck and ask me 'why' their sprouts didn't size up on the stock.  During the growing season it is essential to 'pinch' the top out of the brussel sprouts, allowing more energy to the actual sprouts that start out as little nodes along the stock.  The top you pinch out is like a big brussel 'flower'.  Just head down your row of sprouts and 'twist' them off.  Leave the leaves alone.  They don't bother anything and as you can see in the pic, they wilt and die off as the season progresses.  Folks also want ideas on how to prepare.  This simplest is boiling or steaming.  You can roast as well.  I like to boil in sea salt and smoother in butter and pepper!!  Ahh, this leads me to my recipe:
1/2 package Whole Wheat Spaghetti
1 stock Brussel Sprouts
Sea Salt (for water and to taste)
2 tbs Butter 
1-2 tbs Olive Oil
1/2 small Lemon
Pepper (to taste)
Garlic (as much minced as you desire!)

  Boil your pasta in 1 tbs Sea salt and a shot of Olive Oil. Boil your brussels in a 1 tbs of Sea Salt until fork tender. Slice your hot cooked brussels in half.  Add to hot drained pasta.  Add all the rest of the other ingredients and toss well.  Let sit for 10 minutes nice and hot to  absorb and share flavours.... ummm...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Screw Chip Dip - Roasted Beet Hummus is here!

I've eaten enough beets lately I swear I'm on a natural beet high!  I love beets, and this recipe is to die for! So Ben and I cruised down to Kensington Market last week to deliver some produce to a great guy named 'Pot's.  He has this groovy little store called "For Life Natural Foods".  We like to buy some organic kefir and other groceries there and Pots gave us a 'beet hummus' to try out.  I grimaced at it but the expression on Pots face about how good it actually was made me curious.  I could not stop eating it!  I altered the recipe a bit adding more garlic and some avocado.  My vegan friend Kera loves it, so I won't be altering the recipe any time soon!  It's been a pleasure to spread the word at market, so for those who asked, here's the recipe:
1 quart Sosnicki's Red Kestrel Organic Beets
4 cloves Sosnicki's Organic Garlic, Minced.
1 Ripe, Creamy Avocado
4 Heaping Tablespoons Tahini
1 small Lemon and lots of zest
Sea Salt to taste
Chili Powder to taste
2 Tablespoons freshly Ground Flax Seed
(and any other spices YOU see fit!  Play!)
~Snip the rat tail off the beets and roast in the oven in a casserole dish with a bit of water at 350 until fork tender.  Usually 45 mins using a convection setting. 
~Cover beets with towel to 'sweat' and loosen the skins.  Peel with a knife.
~Refrigerate over night to make the beets nice and cold. 
~Next day add the beets and all the other ingredients into your food processor.  My ol' Cuisinart works awesome with the big blade. As one of my fav chefs Jamie Oliver would say:  "Wazz it up" until it's nice and creamy with a very familiar hummus like consitency!  
Eat it with a plain vessel to enjoy the flavour!  I bought some Quinoa toast crackers that were a perfect pairing when I was at the Big Carrot. Oh hell, dip your kale chips in it too!!!!  Enjoy.  This recipe is perfect for the holiday season a head!  

Sunday, November 6, 2011


On Tuesday, November 8th our daughter 'Smashy' turns 18 years old!!!! The farm is in celebration mode! HAPPY, HAPPY EIGHTEENTH BIRTHDAY SMASHY! 
Yep, and we actually got Panzer to 'settle down' on top the straw bail too! AND freakishly he's looking at YOU!! The farm is exactly the same and not much has changed since last year.  You are definitely not missing out on anything around here - just lots of work! We've recycled your birthday sign from last year. We use this board around the farm on racks and see it often and think of you ;)
Babca is doing great and she wishes you a big "Happy Birthday with much, much love xoxo Love Babca" 
"Happy Birthday Austin...Love you Flowers...You have to meet Panzer-Pants who we call Mr. Pants and Ka-Punzer  Love Dad xoxo."
So this morning to get ready for the 'photo shoot' Panzer is missing (down hunting at the creek with Rex) we can't find him ....Then we hear him barking his fool head off at Lady Bug.  He also lost his awesome studded collar in the corn field this summer! Lady Bug is also doing well.  No fence anymore, she's just all over the farm now.  Kinda dirty today! 
So, we love you Smash. We all miss you Smash. However we do understand and welcome you back with open arms whenever you can ;) Take all the time you need for yourself. This is your time, your young life and we wish you all the happiness and success in the the world! Remember, the farm and the farm family is always here - no matter what. Happy, Happy Birthday!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Leek Harvest

Well, we worked very hard this year growing our leek patch!  This will give us another crop to head into winter with along side the bulk cabbage.  We'll have enough obviously for all markets and even some to share wholesale with select retailers and food box shares.
Ben and the lifter. We've used the 'lifter' to uproot the leeks to make for easy pick up. Our carrots were a crop failure this year and usually we use the lifter this time of year on the storage carrot crop.  Works like a charm.
Our men sorting, knocking excess soil from roots and piling for pick up.  The leeks will be stored in large bins in our cold storage area in the barn.
Benny and quality control! They are gorgeous and most are a large size!  He hilled them with the potato hill'r only once this year.  You end up with a longer white, edible part that way.
Ben spends a lot of time instructing our young Shepherd, Panzer. One of the smartest pups we've ever had! He absolutely LOVES the fresh soil after the lifter goes through!  He was just rolling and rubbing his face in the dirt!!
~Our leeks will be available at Dufferin Grove Organic Farmers' Market and The Brickwork's Farmers' Market all winter! ~

Leeks, Chicken & Mushrooms
Next to leek soup with bacon, this is another favorite leek recipe of mine!
3-4 lbs of Chicken pieces.  In a very large skillet I brown my chicken, skin too, in some coconut oil. Give each side a good browing on medium high heat for 5 mins or so each side.  Remove to plate.
2-3 tablespoons dark yellow organic butter goes into the same skillet with the chicken/coconut render.
Add 3-4 large chopped leeks to the skillet next. Optional a chopped shallot or two.
Add as many shittake and oyster mushrooms as desired next in skillet!  Lots are best!
Render down until leeks are soft.  10 mins or so.
Add 2 tablespoons organic flour and stir and cook in for a couple minutes.
Add 3 cups Chicken Stock to your skillet next.  Bring to a boil and stir until creamy! If it's too thick, add more stock.
Add your Seasonings! We use thyme, minced garlic, sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  All to taste.
Add your browned chicken back into the skilled and cover.  Simmer over low heat for a good half hour until chicken no longer bleeds when pierced.
Serve with wild rice.  This was supper last night and the whole house smelled wonderful, warm and very appetizing!  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Putting it all away

The weather has been pretty nice this fall allowing us to be able to attend to the important task of storing our vegetables for winter!  We've worked hard all season growing this cabbage from seed then planting, weeding, cultivating, hand weeding and now harvesting.  Bugs were definitely there, but we did not let them devastate the crop.  The heads are beautiful and plentiful! We've grown a lot more red cabbages this year and about the same amount of green as past years. You can count on this farm for local, certified organic cabbages until well into next year!  This is definitely a crop that does not have to be imported!
We've also grown Savoy Cabbages this year and Brussel Spouts and Celeriac (aka Root Celery).  These crops will all tolerate frost. I find the Brussel's get sweeter after a good frost! The celeriac will have to all be topped and binned for the winter.  We leave the roots nice and dirty and cut and clean as needed per the winter months for market sales.  Celeriac is one of those yummy specialty vegetables a lot of folks question what to do with.  It is lovely roasted, added to mashed potatoes, with chicken soup or even a creamy soup on it's own. Beautiful celery aroma and flavor! I've made an awesome cabbage, apple, celeriac slaw that is certainly enjoyed!
Another crop that gets sweeter as the weather gets colder is Spinach! I love spinach!  My mother hands down makes the best spinach dip around with tons of garlic! Spinach lasagna, creamed spinach and eggs, fresh spinach salad with heirloom tomatoes etc,etc. We'll harvest spinach until it is completely covered with snow!! A great time of year to get your fill for sure!
The harvest this year includes a lot of Beets as well!  Tops survive a good frost, so we'll keep bringing the bunches for a while yet!  Later this month we will begin to top and bin up all the beet root for winter storage.  It's a healthy looking crop this year so we should have some great beets to offer well into the winter months.
 I took this pic a couple days ago in the morning.  Lots of beets, spinach and the last planting of our sweet corn in the back ground! As the weather gets colder, we'll still have lots of local, organic goodies to offer not to worry! See all at markets!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September's Peppers

Ben and I look forward to peppers each year.  It's a long process.  Seeding most peppers begins in February or early March.  A lot of time and care goes into producing these gems.  Now that Organic Meadow is creating some excellent quality cream cheese, 'Jalapeno Poppers' around here are notorious!  So simple: Cut the top out of the jalapenos,  remove seeds and insides while leaving the stem creating a 'boat'.  Fill with cream cheese and either broil or bake at a high temp for the most succulent non deep fried 'poppers' around!  Very addictive!  Our jalapenos throw excellent heat, but all vary in hotness.  One popper will make you tear, while the others only cause a mild shrug.  We grew the usual hot banana's but new this year are chili's, cayenne and habaneros.  Holy hot habaneros!!  Orange fire crackers for sure!  Come visit any market until fall frost to enjoy the hot peppers in plentiful amounts!
Another favourite thing to do with seasonal peppers is to ROAST!!  Big slices, even whole peppers drizzled in olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and roasted until charred sweet!  You can simply bag and freeze to use all winter or make a delectable soup with butter-rendered onions and a good quality stock and heavy cream. Ben and I are addicted to Roasted Red Pepper Soup and Garlic Bread this time of year! 
My beauties.  This would be a 'King Arthur' Red Bell to the right, red Jalapeno's up front, and so very special on the left are my Grandpa Mike's Red Shepherd Peppers. These open-pollinated huge tapered peppers are just damn good and bring me nothing but excellent memories.  We are continuing the tradition of saving the seeds from the biggest and the best I can find out in the field for next year and years to come.  I always say 'Hello Grandmpa'! when I discover my first red each year.  I know Grandpa Mike would be proud of how Ben and I are treating his peppers! ;)
  It wouldn't be September without Eggplants!  Here are my Rosa Bianca, Fairy Tale and Black Enorma.  And yes, those are our grapes!  Wild, little seed filled sour things, but worth picking when I'm out by the creek. Eggplants are SOOO good when simply pan fried with garlic butter. But then again, what isn't?  They act like mushrooms, like little sponges and sop up juice and flavour.  On pasta they are incredible with a medley of peppers, sweet onions and tomatoes.  Man, I love September! Yes, Peppers in bulk at all markets until fall frost!  Talk to me at market or send an email and we can bushel you some peppers to put away for the winter quickly approaching! Oh and we have Apples this fall too! Crisp, sweet Empires! Nice to see you again! 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Viva Italia Romas for sauce are in season!

It is now the season to do your freezing, canning, saucing of tomatoes!  We'll be bringing cases of our 'Viva Italia' Roma variety to all markets!  If you need more than a couple cases I suggest you order by email  These Viva's have thick walls and excellent flavour. I am going to roast and can a lot of tomatoes this season, but these stand alone in my sauce category.  There is nothing like the smell of this sauce in your home during cold winter days!  We do not have a 'perfect' tomato crop, as there is some blight out there and a lot of cracks and splitting due to weather stress , but it is certainly not a bust like the last few years.  I am hoping we will have enough for everyone.
To our early bird customers that ordered weeks ago - Thank You for being patient!  We've had a very stressful time as our main Mexican worker suffered a medical emergency and is currently still hospitalized, so we are struggling to get back on track.  We are happy to report that Domingo is doing well and will recover completely! In the meantime we are training a transfer employee which is always fun this time of year. (note the sarcasm) We have been very, very busy indeed! 
Recipe time: Organic Penne Pasta with Black Cherry Heirlooms, Shiitakes and Parmigiano Reggiano
So simple and so delicious! I buy all types or organic pasta now. Some of my favourites are the wholegrain spelt varieties. I cook my pasta tender in Olive Oil and Sea Salt and drain.  I  chop Striped German and half Black Cherry Heirloom Tomatoes and toss with Sea Salt while the pasta is cooking.  (I find that just a bit of salt intensifies the tomato flavors). I fill up my great grandma's huge wooden cutting board with Shiitake Mushrooms, a bit of Sweet Onion and chop and then saute with some olive oil.  I drain my pasta, toss in the salted tomatoes with their juice, all the mushrooms and sweet onion. Season to taste (Basil is exceptional and should not be forgotten! And fresh ground pepper!) Last but not least once I've plated I add a generous amount of Parmigiano Reggiano shredded on top. The sweetness of the Heirloom Tomatoes is what stands out in this dish.  So simple and leftovers are to die for!  We've been known to enjoy for breakfast! 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Celebrating our Organic Sweet Corn!

It's that time of the year again!  Our sweet corn is available at markets for all to enjoy this week! At market, you will see my smiling face along with Benny's with a big sign stating: "Cert. Organic Sweet Corn, obviously NO GMO!!" I'll quickly discuss gmo at the end of this blog - I want to stay positive and happy for the duration! :) Cooking corn in it's husk after it's been soaked is my favourite way to eat my summer corn!  Try this method on your BBQ at home! Make sure to remove the dried silk and excess husk or it tends to catch fire. When nicely charred on both sides, serve.  Peel back the husk using as your holder as you baste it in good organic butter!  I will be totally honest in saying that our first variety is not as sweet as the variety coming in two weeks time. So if you want to freeze some corn this year, wait until our sweeter variety is ready. I will let everyone know and am spreading the word at market!
Our corn is an all yellow variety.  I've never cared for the cult 'peaches and cream' bicolour.  Our sweet corn is picked young and fresh, usually on the same day as market! Definitely not starchy.  Worms are free! As a refresher with farming organically, there is absolutely no chemical fertilizer applied to the land this corn was seeded on.  We practice a strict rotation to keep our land healthy, therefore the land our corn is grown on has not seen sweet corn in many years.  Instead a healthy dose of organic composted manure was applied last year to ensure rich growth. We do not use any type of 'pest management' (in english - spray, pesticides) with our corn.  The land is healthy, the corn is healthy, the insects and worms are there, but not devastating the crop.  I've got mothers and children actually looking for the worms in the corn at market!  I will also never forget what a Jamaican gentleman said to me at market:  "My mother told me not to trust most food unless the creatures of the earth have sampled it first!".  Works for me! ;) We also only have AUGUST CORN.  The way sweet corn always used to be!  Most conventional sweet corn farmers use chemically treated corn seed and can plant this treated seed in cold, wet soil without it rotting very early in the spring therefore resulting in early July corn.  We wait until the soil has naturally warmed up in the spring before we plant our untreated sweet corn seed resulting in August harvest each year. 
Don't you just love this pathway in the corn? I will spend a few evenings at dusk walking down this trail. I will freak myself out thinking about the movie 'Children of the Corn' no doubt, but I just love the way the corn rustles in the breeze in the cool evenings.  This path leads down to the creek where we've cleared a spot for camping. We've got about four plantings of sweet corn to last us well into September this year.  We'll have enough to cover all our Toronto markets and also to share with The Big Carrot and also with Plan B Organic Farms CSA box program. 
 Ok, time for the negative.  Genetically modified sweet corn is alive and well in Ontario now.  GMO's are not labeled in Ontario, therefore you will have no idea if you are buying a gmo sweet corn unless you can verify from the farmer's mouth.  All the information you need about GMO Sweet Corn and what to do is here: CBAN - Canadian Biotechnology Action Network
Also, just to completely confuse you:  please keep in mind that just because Sweet Corn is not a GM variety does not mean it has not been sprayed or grown on chemically treated land. Certified Organic is always your best bet.  In my strong opinion, cheap sweet corn should not exist.  So, come out to market to support and most importantly ENJOY our Certified Organic Sweet Corn!!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Heirloom Tomatoes 2011!!

So last Saturday at Evergreen's Brickworks I had 4 cases of my Heirlooms!  It was great to see my regular customers come early and get some!  I love seeing the excitement of the first heritage tomatoes at market. Makes all my hard work totally worthwhile knowing how much they are appreciated.
We've been selling heirloom tomatoes in Toronto for years now and I've scaled back the actual amount of varieties.  I used to mess around with over 100 varieties!  I've got about 60 now of the tried and true, best of the best for intriguing looks and taste!  I am happy to report that I did a large field planting along with the 'covered field' planting of about 900 plants. Here's a brush up on what our 'covered field' heirloom tomatoes are all about:
This is one 'covered field'.  They are our old cold farm glass greenhouses.  We have amended the soil with our kick ass field soil and our compost.  The soil is top notch for growing the best tasting tomatoes! This is why I will never call them 'greenhouse tomatoes'.  They are not grown in synthetic soil and fed chemical fertilizers.  They have all the nutrients in this house to last them the entire growing season AND after the fall frost!  Each year I plant a hefty amount of tomatoes in the field but since 2007 we haven't had much success or volume to sell because of blight.  The wet years wreaked havoc on my heirlooms and I needed to do something about this.  That is why the old cold frames have become essential - I can protect my plants from overhead moisture and 'wet feet', keep them dry and the disease at a minimum. I have also been able to extend my tomato growing season this way as well!
I have a lot of favourites - one would be this one up front.  I also love tried and true 'Black Krim', 'Striped German' and 'Green Zebra's.  These are very well known, along with the big ol' Brandywine.  You'll have to visit my table at markets to see the real cool ones and try and learn the names of the new varieties I have discovered recently! ;) See you there!

The Garlic Harvest!

We bought some beautiful certified organic Garlic Seed  from a great guy up north. We planted it October 2010 and are fairly pleased with the results.
It was looking so beautiful early on, but a few weeks ago we noticed nematode damage on a few bulbs.  I've since learned this is a wide spread issue this year and I fear these extreme weather conditions have a lot to do with it.  We yanked 'er out, and have lost some of the crop, but all in all it'll be just fine.  I've learned that the microscopic nematodes live in the root hairs of the garlic and when we 'irrigated' we spread them around.  Then onion maggots move in and chew away.  We'll remove the infected bulbs and not let them mingle with the good stock.  Infected cloves will not be replanted in the new patch.
  Here's the guys sorting through and hampering the garlic crop.  Despite the nematode issues we still have a plentiful amount for our customers and for seed saving

Strawberries for 2012....

We really missed not having our own strawberries at market this past June!  We are making sure that doesn't happen next year! Folks really missed our organic berries!  This is the process so that we have them for June 2012:
These is a bundle of root stock we got in from Nova Scotia this year.  Gorgeous plants, top quality.  Two new varieties this year.  Winter hardy, sweet and plentiful.  We shall see!  Our land makes all the difference I'm certain!
Ben pulling the clip planter.  Because of the quality of the Strawberry plants we planted 3 times as much as we had before!
Domingo and Manuel using the clip planter to plant the Strawberry plants.  I didn't think it would work, but was surprised to see the success.  This due to excellent plant quality. How many times can I stress the quality of these plants! Just beautiful.  G.W. Allen Nursery in Nova Scotia if you're wondering ;)
Planted Strawberries on July 13th, 2011.  For harvest June 2012. This is just the beginning.  Since they have been planted they have been irrigated, cultivated and are turning a nice lush green.  A lot of maintenance during the growing season and then 'straw' later in the year for over wintering. Look forward to some excellent quality organic Strawberries for 2012 from us!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Beets, Kale & Tomatoes...

We are growing 3 types of beets this year.  We'll always have the big standard Kestrel Red's, but pictured here are our special ones: Golden and Chioggia. We did golds last year to rave reviews.  They are nice and sweet and look and taste spectacular when roasted. The Chioggia (a.k.a Candy Cane or Bullseye) are new for us this year. A keeper for sure.  They are early, have lighter neat tops similar to the golds, cook a bit faster, are more mild compared to the big reds. Thinly sliced in a salad is a beautiful way to show off these great beets! They are actually an Italian Heirloom I have learned, and are named after a coastal town in Italy. Starting next week they will be in abundance at the Farmer's Markets at our stall.  I have also made another recent discovery: BEET CHIPS!
First, you have to chop the beets very thinly.  I used my big red beets for this.  I think they throw the best flavour.  (Chioggia and Golden seem to brown a bit too much when crisp) Use a mandolin to slice your beets thin.(I don't have one, so I use my Cuisinart with a 2mm blade which does a decent job.)  I dump a plentiful amount of the sliced beets into a bowl and top with olive oil and sea salt and mix with my hands to coat the beets well. I didn't have time to mess around with putting the beets 'single file' on my baking sheets.  I did my best not to put wads of them on, but it was pretty messy and a lot of beets went on each tray.  I baked them at 350 for about 1/2 hour.  They go dark and give a nice 'roasted look'.  Keep baking until they begin to 'lighten'.  Another 1/2 hour even. Once they go 'pink' they are crisp! They really shrink, so use as big a beet as you can.  Not every single one went totally cripsy, but I noticed once they cooled down they got more crisp. They are very, very good!
Really awesome baked beet chips!  On the right hand side of the photo are 'dark' beets.  These ones are not finished crisping up. Remove the pink crispy ones and let the 'rubbery' ones finish! Totally addictive!
Now here's some of our Nero Di Toscana, or 'Dinosaur' Kale.  I've already rubbed olive oil and salt into it.  I will place this stuff on the baking trays and using the same method, 350 for about 10 mins, flip another 10 mintues you will have baked kale chips.  It will go very dark and crispy when finished. I also add cayenne pepper to them!  Today the kitchen island is full of kale and beet chips!  Tomhas, the teen who is staying with us for July is raising his eyebrows at them BUT he did try them, so it's a start!
I picked these today!  So very exciting to see the first ripening of the tomatoes!  These are coming out of the zany jungle of heirlooms in our 'covered field' under glass (aka old glass cold frame #1). There is soo much maintenance to do out there!  I haven't had a rainy day to work out there, so there will be some late evenings and early mornings when it's cool enough to be under that glass in summer temps!  We have heirlooms in the field as well this year, so they will hopefully be in abundance!  Cheers, it's going to be an awesome summer with lots of great food to eat! :)

Dry July....

Yeah, so now it's dry. (Check out the dust trail behind Ben and he races around checking pipes.)  I mean really, really dry.  Last week, the 6th of July we irrigated half the farm.  Today the pipes were taken apart, moved to the other side to hit the potatoes, tomatoes etc.  So we've weeded and watered the broccoli, kale, beautiful onion patch, one sweet corn patch, carrots, beets, peas, garlic, cucumbers and beans. 
First line we ran to cover the broccoli and onions....beets, carrots & newly planted sweet potatoes at the back. To the left is our 'chop suey' first lettuce patch nicely disked up!
Our first patch of many of the sweetest Sweet Corn!  Can't wait!  Beginning of August we will have corn galore! 
I love this picture!  Our broccoli going 'AHHHH' after a nice long drink of water! I am not complaining about the lack of rain for now. Truth be told, and I'm scared to say this out loud, but it feels like 2007 all over again.  I may have the nicest tomatoes this year!  For us, because we are a small farm, irrigation is easy to manage.  It is much easier to apply some water when we absolutely need it rather than deal with cold, wet summers and disease and dead crops.  It does bother me when it goes from one extreme to the other.  Cutting the farm grass twice a week to keep it manageable to no cutting at all for two weeks! So much rain we couldn't plant on time this spring, now no rain so we must irrigate.  Ahhh, the life of a farmer. Good thing I love it sooo much! ;)