2nd Annual Seedling Sale

2nd Annual Seedling Sale

Saturday May 17, 9am to 4pm and Sunday May 18, 9am to 2pm.

We will have heirloom tomatoes, beefsteak and cherry tomatoes, eggplant, sweet peppers, hot peppers, herbs, zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, kale, swiss chard, lettuce, flowers, and more. Our plants are lovingly nurtured from the beginning of their lives and grown using nutrient dense chemical free practices.

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2014 Community Support Agriculture a.k.a. CSA

2014 Community Support Agriculture a.k.a. CSA

Hunts Brook Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) represents a partnership between local communities and farmers where members share in the benefits, risks and overall experience of local food production. Shareholders receive fresh vegetables every Wednesday for 18 weeks of the growing season. Becoming a member connects people to the food they eat, the land on which it is grown and the farmers who grow it.

Why join our CSA ?

Be healthy. The Hunts Brook Farm CSA will provide your family with fresh vegetables grown naturally with love and care. We practice mindful soil management by ensuring that our crops have all the natural supplements they need to be as nutrient dense as possible.

Connect with your food. Learn how your food is grown and handled. Know and trust the people that do it. Eat seasonally and cook wholesome meals.

Support social consciousness. Revitalize the essential links among individuals, our farms and our communities. Educate individuals and the next generation about the importance of staying connected to the earth and the sustenance that it provides us.

Two Additional Contribution Opportunities

1. Matching CSA Fund for families in need. ( Last season with member contributions we were able to provide a full share to a young family with two small children)

2. Farm Investment. This seasons contributions will be put towards a moveable hi-tunnel to extend our growing season. (Last years contributions were used for 60 new blueberry bushes ~ THANK YOU )

Create a lasting sanctuary. Help sustain Hunts Brook Farm as it continues to be a nourishing place for people to live, work and visit.

Build community. We look forward to the opportunities for members and the community at large to come together to share ideas, recipes and fun. Schedule to be Announced: We will host community nights on the farm with music and our own wood fired pizza oven.

What is in a share? Your share will be a variety of vegetables that are in season. Depending on how much you consume this full share should feed a family of four. A 1/2 share is a “full share” that you pick up every other week.

Please email HBF for an application form: huntsbrookfarm@yahoo.com

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October 9, 2013 ~ Food as art

Well, the moment’s arrived when we say goodbye to the 2013 CSA season. As I tried to think of a way to summarize not only this season but also my overall experience here at HBF, I was a bit overwhelmed. Where do I even begin? Instead, I’m ignoring all those usual emotions that come with the season’s end – sadness, relief, anxiety, excitement – to talk about something that makes me happy: The beauty of farm food!

Chester Sunday Market (A.Gross)

Chester Sunday Market (A.Gross)

The mission of Hunts Brook is to provide you with “healthy beautiful food.” We take all elements of the growing process extremely seriously, from careful crop planning to mindful field and crop management to the presentation of our wares to the public. As a visual person, I’m most intrigued and inspired by this last piece. I take the “beautiful” criteria to heart.

When you have such high-quality, gorgeous-looking produce, it’s difficult to make it look bad. Yet, I treat every display at our farmers’ markets or under the CSA tent as a mini art show and as an attempt to enhance this natural beauty. I’m a firm believer that you should feel something when you consume our food besides, well, the grumbles of an eager stomach. A visit to our farm or our booth at the market should be a joyful, sensory experience. You should see the bold colors of the root crops contrasted next to the greens. You should feel the texture of different winter squash skins, potatoes and eggplants. You should smell the fresh scents of just-picked arugula, pawpaws or a mesmerizing flower bouquet.  You should taste the juicy turnips, crispy lettuce or heat of a hot pepper. Hopefully, these moments should resonate with you.

The harvest awaits under the CSA tent (A.Gross)

The harvest awaits under the CSA tent (A.Gross)

I take pride in the vegetables and fruits that I’ve played a part in growing for you. Simply throwing produce on a table and sticking labels or tags on them does not do the vegetables justice. Further, it doesn’t respect us as farmers for the incredible amount of work that we put into the growing process. The presentation is meant to make you feel inspired to cook, eat and share with family and friends.

Selfishly, our vegetables displays are also a way for me to express this pride as a food grower. In the two years that I’ve known Teresa, she has a regular saying, and that is, “Do what makes your heart sing.”  Arranging vegetables may seem like a mundane task, but by doing so in a visually pleasing, mindful, thoughtful way, it resonates with me and, yes, it makes my heart sing.

I hope you have enjoyed your time with us during this CSA season. Thank you for letting me express myself creatively and grow for you during the past two seasons at Hunts Brook!

So, here’s to experiencing food with your senses and some feeling!

On behalf of the HBF family,

Alex

Week 18: October 9, 2013

The abundance this week:

    • lettuce
    • Swiss chard
    • hon tsai tai
    • tatsoi
    • summer squash
    • eggplant
    • hot peppers
    • beets or carrots
    • winter squash
    • broccoli!
    • garlic
    • tomatoes
    • pawpaws

Beets are delicious in their own right. Whether they’re boiled, roasted or shaved raw over a salad, you don’t need to do much to this root to make them tasty. But for the last recipe, I wanted to end on a sweet note:

Oh, beautiful beets! (A.Gross)

Chocolate Beet Cake* (From “Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables”)

(*There’s no need to advertise that there are beets in this cake, especially for the vegetable-phobic loved ones in your life. A suggestion? Call it chocolate cake or red velvet cake. They’ll never know.)

Ingredients:

      • 3-4 medium beets
      • butter and flour for preparing the pan
      • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
      • 1 c. mild-flavored vegetable oil
      • 3 eggs
      • 1¾ c. sugar
      • 1 T. vanilla extract
      • 1½ c. all purpose flour
      • ½ c. whole wheat pastry flour
      • 2 t. baking soda
      • ¼ t. salt
      • powdered sugar for dusting

Scrub the beets with a vegetable brush and trim roots.  Trim stems and save greens for some other use.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the beets.  Boil for 20-30 minutes, or until the beets are tender and the skins slip off easily.  Let the beets cool a little, the slip the skins off under cold water and then purée the beets in a blender or food processor.  You should have about 2 cups of beet purée.

Preheat your oven to 375°F.  Butter and flour a 9×13” pan or Bundt pan and set it aside.

Fill a medium saucepan about halfway with water and bring the water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and set a heat-proof bowl over the simmering water.  Place the chocolate and ¼ c. of the oil in the bowl and heat, stirring frequently, just until the chocolate melts.

Combine the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Slowly beat in the remaining oil, the chocolate mixture, beets, and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, and salt.  Gently stir the flour mixture into the egg and chocolate mixture until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.  Carefully remove the cake from the pan and allow to cool completely before sprinkling with powdered sugar to serve.

Variations: On my personal blog, I have gluten-free and vegan variations to this recipe.

Oh, boy, broccoli! We’ve been waiting for this fall planting, eagerly walking through the rows for the first flush of broccoli. And, this week’s the week! Again, to truly enjoy this tasty brassica, keep it simple. I like it roasted, and you’d be surprised how many individuals on the anti-broccoli team that you can convert with this recipe.

Community circle:

Last week, we asked you to share a highlight of your CSA experience, whether it was a particular vegetable or a new favorite recipe. Here are a few of your comments:

Really enjoyed the lettuce, and it was just about the right amount. Less Kale. Cucumbers and tomatoes wonderful, and always look forward to the butternut squash. [M]ade lots of pickled and pickled beets. – Nancy

Everything has been wonderful and loved being introduced to Asian greens that I had not tried before. Keep the surprises coming. I’m always thrilled to see dandelion greens, not because I care that much for the greens, but because I like the cooking water. Boil up a bunch and let sit for a few minutes. Give the greens to someone else. Tell them they are really really good for them. Then strain the cooking water into some big mason jars and get the liquid really cold. Add lemon juice. I think it tastes a lot like unsweetened grapefruit juice this way. – Cindy

It’s never too late to share, so comment below with a favorite memory of the season!

Greens display @ the Chester Sunday Market (A.Gross)

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October 2, 2013 ~ Snapping out of the fall frenzy

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

– L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

We're clearing out our high tunnel of our tomatoes and getting the space ready for winter spinach. (HBF, September 30, 2013; A. Gross)

We’re clearing out our high tunnel of our tomatoes and getting the space ready for winter spinach. (HBF, September 30, 2013; A. Gross)

Happy October! We’re pretty fortunate to be New Englanders during this colorful time. This is by far my favorite month of the year. The scenery is breathtaking, the food is amazing, and, as a personal rule, I usually equate October 1st with being the unofficial start-date of when sweater wearing becomes socially acceptable again for the season. But what does the first full month of autumn look like here at the farm? If September was the month that we could start to relax and bask in our triumphs from the summer harvest, October, then, seems to bring with it a new form of subtle intensity. At this point, we’re winding down, but I hesitate to use the word “end.”  Our priorities have just shifted. We’re cleaning up the high tunnel, which includes pulling out tomato plants, to make room for our winter spinach crop. Our fields are gradually clearing up to plant cover crops. And, sadly, we’re transplanting and covering the last of our field greens before the much colder temperatures set in.

Last week, I mentioned that farmers have a propensity to be a tad dramatic. Maybe it’s the anticipation of the upcoming season, but we can sometimes revert to some form of crazy – albeit minor when compared to the July farmer. For example, although we carefully plan, watch and execute a crop plan to ensure a bountiful and diverse harvest for the duration of the season, there’s a constant, slightly irrational worry that we are simply not going to have enough food:

Keep calm and harvest on! Nicole and Maureen harvest French breakfast radishes (HBF, October 1, 2013; A. Gross)

Keep calm and harvest on! Nicole and Maureen harvest French breakfast radishes (HBF, October 1, 2013; A. Gross)

On Monday, Teresa, Nicole and I typically do a ride-around of the fields to talk about the harvest and projects for the week. I usually take a notebook out to the field with me, and, while flipping through to find a new page, I came across a CSA harvest list from August. Wow, talk about a line-up, full of squash, zucchini, tons of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, lettuce and all those bright flavors of summer. For a moment I was racked with anxiety and thought, “How can we even compete with that this week?! What do we even have left in the field?! This is a nightmare!!!” (I’m sure Teresa and Nicole might have been thinking something similar, but for fear of sounding crazy and an attempt to keep it calm in the morning, I didn’t articulate my thought process with them.) But, I soon snapped out of my anxious state when we pulled off the row cover to reveal full rows of Asian greens, arugula, radishes, head lettuce and Swiss chard.  Oh, right, we did that on purpose! We do know what we’re doing!!

October has a way of instilling confidence in me as a food grower. The list of projects can be daunting and the harvest is going strong. But, just when I start to stress out about all the things that need to be accomplished, October does seem to have a calming presence. It might be the Jiminy Cricket of calendar months.  It may be a combination of the sights, smells and food, but October sort of always says, “Al, chill out. You’re going to be fine. There’s enough food for everyone and everything will get done on the farm. Enjoy the moment, or I’ll slap you.”

And that’s the advice that I plan to follow over the next few weeks. It’s my final season here at Hunts Brook, so rather than living in a state of constant anticipation, I’m going to do by best to listen to the sage words that October brings, focus on the present and savor my surroundings.

On behalf of the HBF crew,

Alex

Week 17: October 2, 2013

The magic this week:

      • kale
      • lettuce
      • rutabaga or hakurei turnips
      • beets or carrots
      • eggplant
      • peppers
      • radishes
      • arugula
      • Asian greens (braising mix, bok choi or tatsoi)
      • tomatoes
      • potatoes
      • garlic
      • butternut squash!

It’s all about butternut squash this week. To get you started, here’s a terrific recipe to add to your fall cooking routine:

Butternut squash

Butternut squash!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa/Food Network)

Ingredients:

        • 3 to 4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and seeded
        • 2 yellow onions
        • 2 (McIntosh) apples, peeled and cored
        • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
        • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
        • 2 to 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (vegetable stock can be substituted)
        • 1/2 teaspoon good curry powder

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the butternut squash, onions, and apples into 1-inch cubes. Place them on a sheet pan and toss them with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Divide the squash mixture between 2 sheet pans and spread in a single layer. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, tossing occasionally, until very tender.

Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock to a simmer. When the vegetables are done, put them through a food mill fitted with the medium blade. (Alternatively, you can place the roasted vegetables in batches in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add some of the chicken stock and coarsely puree.) When all of the vegetables are processed, place them in a large pot and add enough chicken stock to make a thick soup. Add the curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Taste for seasonings to be sure there’s enough salt and pepper to bring out the curry flavor. Reheat and serve hot with condiments either on the side or on top of each serving.

Question of the week/favor for the farmers:

It’s difficult to believe it, but next week is the last week of our CSA program for the 2013 season. But, that doesn’t mean it needs to be a gloomy occasion! We want to celebrate the past season and find out what you enjoyed most. So, tell us: What was your favorite item in the share? What were some of the tasty dishes that you created with veggies from your weekly share?

We’d love to hear the answers to these questions and any experience you’d like to share so we can feature them next week, here, on our newsletter!

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September 25, 2013: It’s all about the food

First, a brief farm announcement: 

Join us for Community Pizza Night at the farm this Wednesday from 4-7! What’s on the DSCN4379menu from The Oven at Hunts Brook Farm?

We will be making dough for 100 pizzas, and pies can be eaten here or to-go. Suggested donations are $10 per pizza. If you plan to eat here, BYOB and bask in the forecasted beautiful fall evening on the farm! As if it couldn’t get any better, we’ll have Hidden Brook’s amazing certified organic apples for sale in our stand for $2.50 per pound!

Farm musings:

This week, as I was thinking about something deeply philosophical to write about, I was distracted. No, it’s not the reality of cooler temperatures or the lengthy list of cleanup tasks before the season’s end that makes contemplation difficult. It’s the food, the flavorful food – and the grumbling of my stomach – that I blame.

Hakurei turnips!

Hakurei turnips!

The pawpaws and Asian pears are here, and they make the perfect snack. Oh man, and the hakurei turnips! A few of us had a moment with the mini brassicas in the field. Any lover of food knows what I’m talking about – that moment when your mind is intensely focused on the flavors at present and your senses seem heightened. (Think first tomato of the season.) After the first bite, we were planning our meals for lunch and dinner with the crisp turnips. We also all officially decided, in our state of turnip bliss, that they were collectively our favorite food ever. I think a few of us may have even found religion. (I’ve found that good food lovers and farmers are big fans of hyperbole when they’re passionate about something. Nicole and I may be the queens of making sweeping statements like “This is the most amazing [vegetable] I’ve EVER had!” Or, you’ll know when we’re serious when we look at you squarely in the eye and say, “You need to eat this right now,” and slowly, but forcefully, hand over the said vegetable.) The good news is that you’ll also get to experience their goodness this week!

Farmers don’t like to admit it but, well, we complain. A lot. Most of us do a good job of masking our gripes from customers, but there’s always something. Often, it’s weather or element related; the temperature is often too hot, too cold or just not right. It might be a bit unfair to generalize my fellow growers, but it seems that if a farmer isn’t complaining about something, then something’s usually wrong! It’s those many moments in the field, however, with fruits and vegetables picked at the peak of freshness that everything seems right with the world. The frequent anticipation and stress seem to melt away, and we can focus on why we are indeed farmers: The food.

I farm because I love working outdoors, feeling the soil and plants in my hands and knowing that I exist within a complex web of interactions among a range of living beings and elements. Yet, I’m also human, and my basic need for food is more than met by working and living on a farm. I have access to incredibly nutrient-dense foods, grown in a sustainable, mindful manner, and I get to share this beautiful food with others. I do work incredibly hard to reap these benefits of the harvest, so I’m not calling my situation lucky. But I do realize how fortunate I am to have this opportunity to eat and, at times, obsess about the bounty.

So, here’s to truly appreciating and enjoying the season’s flavors!

On behalf of the HBF crew,

Alex

CSA Week 16 ~ September 25, 2013

The deliciousness this week:

    • Kale
    • Mixed Asian greens or bok choi
    • Summer squash or tatsoi
    • Hakurei turnips!
    • Potatoes
    • Eggplant!
    • Peppers (hot and sweet)
    • Tomatoes
    • Winter squash
    • Onions
    • Garlic
    • Sage
    • Asian pears or pawpaws

I have to admit: I haven’t really eaten eggplant this summer. Well, I’ve decided that’s going to change starting this week, beginning with this recipe:

Honey-Roasted Eggplant with Chiles (from Martha Stewart Seasonal Produce Recipe Guide)

Ingredients:

    • 4 or 5 baby eggplants, halved, or 2 regular eggplants, cut into 2-inch cubes
    • 5 fresh green Thai chiles, halved lengthwise (or any hot pepper will work!)
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss eggplants with chiles, honey, and oil to coat.

2.) Roast eggplants (skin sides up) and chiles on a rimmed baking sheet until eggplant is golden, about 20 minutes (if using cubes of eggplant, stir once every 5 to 7 minutes). Flip, and roast until eggplant softens, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Tips & Notes:

We'll have delicious apples from Hidden Brook Gardens. Bonus: They're certified organic!

We’ll have delicious apples from Hidden Brook Gardens for sale in our farmstand! Bonus: They’re certified organic!

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September 18, 2013: The little truck that couldn’t and saying thanks

While traditionally considered a day of rest, Sunday morning is a busy time here at the

The dump druck, waiting to be revived and return to market!

The dump druck, waiting to be revived and return to market!

farm. We are usually packing up for two farmers’ markets – the Chester Sunday Market, where we sell our veggies, and the Coventry Regional Market, where we serve up wood-fired pizza. Well, this past Sunday, as I was loading the van with produce en route to Chester, I noticed that the farm was eerily quiet. No one was outside during a time when we all congregate around the wash station tent. At first, I thought maybe the pizza crew – Rosie, Pam and Andy – headed out early, but I noticed that their supplies were still at the farm. Then, my eyes wandered to the driveway, and I saw the dump truck with its hood open. I don’t know if it’s possible to feel sorry for an inanimate object, but I definitely pitied the truck as it looked sad and vulnerable sitting there, waiting to be revived. The truck wouldn’t start, which meant no pizza at Coventry.

But, there was to be pizza later in the day. With dough and toppings made and an oven and crew at the ready, it was a prime opportunity for a pop-up pizza night or help-us-save-the-truck fundraiser. With a quick Facebook post and effective word-of-mouth publicity by our friends, we had a successful pizza night! If you were one of the individuals who publicized the event, reposted our Facebook update and/or came out to the farm, we want to say, “Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!”

One pizza night may not seem like a big deal, but it is to us. Why? It makes us realize how truly fortunate we are to not only have great customers but to also consider those same individuals – you! – loyal, supportive friends. When you become a member of our CSA, visit us here at the farm, buy produce from us weekly at our farmers’ markets or attend an impromptu pizza night, you establish yourself as a vital part of our farm community. In his work In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, Michael Pollan writes, “The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community, from the mere animal biology to an act of culture.” As members of the same community, we choose not to eat just any food, but healthy, beautiful food grown here at Hunts Brook. The food feeds our bodies, minds and establishes food as a living, nourishing and celebrated entity in our lives. Starting with wonderful ingredients is great, but a meal becomes wonderful when you share the experience with others.

So, while we are a long way from Thanksgiving, we want to express our sincerest gratitude to you, our readers, customers and friends, for supporting us. Thank you!

On behalf of our HBF crew, enjoy the bounty and many thanks,

Alex

CSA Week 15 ~ September 18, 2013

The goodness this week:

      • kale or Swiss chard
      • Asian greens
      • dandelion greens
      • carrots
      • kohlrabi
      • summer squash
      • potatoes
      • winter squash
      • eggplant
      • tomatoes
      • peppers (hot and sweet)
      • onions
      • garlic
      • herbs
Dandelion greens!

Dandelion greens!

Mmmm…dandelion greens! If you can tolerate their bitterness raw, then, chop ‘em up in a salad with a nice honey balsamic vinaigrette. But, if you want a wonderfully comforting, satisfying meal on these chilly evenings, try this beans and greens recipe from The Kitchn:

Crispy Pan-Fried Beans with Wilted Greens (from The Kitchn; adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson and Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi)

Serves 2 as a main dish or 4-6 as a side

Ingredients:

        • 8 oz (1/2 bunch) swiss chard (and/or dandelion greens or kale)
        • 1 onion, thinly sliced
        • 2 cloves garlic, minced
        • 12 oz (2 cups or 1 15-oz can) cannelloni or other white beans, drained and rinsed
        • Zest from one lemon
        • Juice from 1/2 lemon
        • 1 teaspoon za’atar spice blend (or any spice of your choosing)
        • 1-2 teaspoons salt
        • Good quality extra-virgin olive oil

Trim the center stem from the swiss chard and slice the leaves cross-wise into ribbons. Chop the stems into bite-sized pieces.

Heat one teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onions with 1/2 teaspoon of salt until they are very soft and uniformly golden-brown, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and the chopped chard stems, 1 minute. Transfer the onion mixture to a bowl.

Warm another 1-2 teaspoons of oil, enough to coat the entire bottom of the pan. Add the beans and spread them into a single layer. Cook for 2 minutes without stirring. Stir and spread them out again. Repeat until all the beans are blistered all over. Adjust the heat as needed to prevent burning the beans.

Stir the chard leaves, the za’atar, and another 1/2 teaspoon of salt into the beans. Stir until the chard is completely wilted and tastes tender, 3-5 minutes. Add the onion mixture back in, along with the lemon zest and juice from 1/2 lemon. Stir and taste. Add more lemon juice, salt, or other seasonings to taste.

Serve immediately, drizzling a little extra-virgin olive oil over each dish. Add a poached egg, a scoop of pasta, or a piece of toast to make a more complete meal. The beans will lose their crispiness as they cool, but leftovers still make a tasty meal. This dish will keep refrigerated for up to a week.

Tips & Notes:

  • This week, you’ll be getting green tomatoes…and you likely don’t know how to cook them. We wouldn’t recommend eating green tomatoes raw because they don’t have much flavor and are not easy to digest. However, pickled, sauteed, fried or baked, they’re a nice ingredient to change up the cooking routine. Here’s a list of tasty recipes on what to do with this underutilized ingredient from the NY Times.

Question of the week:

  • Although we never quite know with September weather, it seems that the early mornings and evenings are getting cooler. What are you favorite late summer/early fall recipes? Take a picture and submit your suggestions via Facebook and/or let us know by posting below!
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September 11, 2013 ~ Get cookin’

A few weeks ago, when I was organizing in the farmstand on CSA pick-up day, I overheard a little voice say, “We could make pico de gallo if we had cilantro.” I turned my head and was surprised to realize that the culinary tidbit came from the grandchild of a shareholder, as she led the way for her grandmother around the tent to collect the week’s bounty.

Sophisticated taste aside, this moment remains vivid in my mind because it reiterates why it’s so vital to get kids interested in good food. Why? Well, the obvious reason is to encourage confidence and promote healthful eating habits and relationships with food from a young age.  The second reason involves upholding and maintaining certain social and culinary traditions of food.

Chef Geoffrey Zacharian touched upon this later point in a recent interview, in which he suggests,

You’re not just eating because you’re hungry, you’re eating because it’s an act. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, everyday of your life there’s a chance to say something and do something different and enjoy something and share something with someone.

The tradition of sitting down to meals together may seem a bit antiquated, as working patterns shift parents out of households and school and extracurricular schedules do not seem to factor in nourishing, meaningful mealtimes. I am really fortunate to have grown up in a home that made family dinners a priority. It’s a tradition that I’ve carried on into my adulthood. And, while away from my immediate family, I’ve adapted it to regularly include friends and community members. While there’s certainly other defining moments in my life that have shaped me as an individual, it’s from my early memories of cooking with my mom, setting the table and sitting down to eat that remain the most impressionable. I’ve learned responsibility, generosity, reciprocity, how to communicate and the all-important listening skills.

Teaching kids about food is one of the best lessons we can arm them with and it’s most definitely one of the cutest. For example, I’ve watched Nicole’s and her husband Paul’s son, River, grow up here at Hunts Brook in and amongst the healthy, beautiful food. My heart swells when, even at 20 months, he can match and identify fruits and vegetables from his food alphabet picture book to the real ones growing at the farm. He seems to always be ready and willing to help:

Little River supervises the butternut squash harvest. (September 10, 2013, A.Gross)

Little River supervises the butternut squash harvest. (September 10, 2013, A.Gross)

Even though I do not yet have children of my own, I enjoy watching the little gears churn in their heads, their ability to make connections and share what they’ve learned. It’s an amazingly gratifying process to witness as both a farmer and good food advocate. Their active involvement in the eating process – from harvesting to visiting the farm on CSA days to cooking at home – can’t start early enough.

Here’s to treating farm visits and meal times as tasty teaching and learning opportunities!

On behalf of the HBF crew,

Alex

CSA Week 14 ~ September 10, 2013

The bounty this week

      • Arugula!
      • Lettuce
      • Kale or collards
      • Kohlrabi
      • Radishes or fennel
      • Potatoes
      • Leeks
      • Winter squash – Cinderella pumpkin!
      • Onions
      • Garlic
      • Tomatoes
      • Eggplant
      • Peppers (sweet and hot)
      • Herbs
      • Asian pears!
Asian pears! (September 2013, A. Gross)

Asian pears! (September 2013, A. Gross)

Are you ready?! Arugula is back, and I’ve missed you, you spicy green. You can, of course, sauté and wilt arugula, but my favorite method is raw, in a flavorful salad with Asian pears:

Asian pear and Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese (from Food & Wine)

Time: 20 minutes; Servings: 10 (adapt accordingly if you are cooking for fewer people!)

Ingredients:

      • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
      • 2 Tbl fresh lemon juice
      • 1 tsp honey
      • ½ tsp chopped thyme (variation: rosemary, sage and/or parsley are excellent substitutes here!)
      • salt and freshly ground pepper
      • 5 ounces baby arugula (I usually use more!)
      • 3 Asian pears, peeled, cored and very thinly sliced (a mandolin is ideal, but not necessary)
      • ½ cup salted roasted pumpkin seeds*
      • 3 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled (Mystic Cheese Co.’s Melville or Beltane’s chevre, perhaps?!)

1. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil with the lemon juice, honey and chopped thyme (or any other herb you are using). Season the salad dressing with salt and pepper.

2. In a large bowl, toss the arugula with the pear slices and pumpkin seeds. Add the dressing and toss well. Top with the crumbled goat cheese, sprinkle lightly with sea salt and serve right way.

Make ahead: The salad dressing can be refrigerated overnight.

Tips & Notes:

*I love using all parts of a vegetable, saving a trip to the compost and the grocery store. How appropriate that you are receiving a pumpkin this week because, now, you can save those seeds and make your own roasted pumpkin seeds!

On the subject of pumpkins, this week you’ll be getting a Cinderella pumpkin. (Bonus: What kids don’t like pumpkins? It won’t be difficult to get them to help you cook this magical winter squash.) This Cinderella pumpkin is a French variety called Rouge Vif d’Etampes. Don’t worry – there’s no pronunciation quiz this week. It may look too beautiful to eat, but don’t let the decorative possibilities tempt you. Here is the simplest way to prepare a Cinderella pumpkin: Roast it!

The pumpkins are here and will soon be in your kitchen!

The pumpkins are here and will soon be in your kitchen!

Roasted pumpkin puree

  1. Set your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. With a sharp, heavy knife, cut the pumpkin in half.
  3. Scoop out the seeds and stringy center. (Save the seeds to roast!)
  4. Place your prepared pumpkin halves, cut side down on a baking sheet.
  5. Poke the skin side with a fork in several places.
  6. The squash is done roasting when a fork can easily pierce the skin. Depending on the size of your pumpkin, this could take up to 1.5-2 hours.
  7. Once the squash is done, scoop out the flesh and place in a strainer to remove excess water.
  8. If you want a truly pureed consistency, place the strained pumpkin in a food processor and blend.

Tips & Notes:

        • Ok, so now what? What can you do with roasted pumpkin puree? It can be used in soups, baking recipes and even serve as a creamy, dairy substitute in some dishes pumpkin (baked ziti, anyone?). If you’re not quite sure what you want to do with it, consider placing it a freezer-safe container or bag and freeze for a later time.

Question of the week:

What are your earliest recollections of cooking, baking or preparing food in your kitchen? What did you cook?!

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