July 31 – August 3, 2017
As CSA shareholders of Elmwood Stock Farm, you have made a connection and commitment to consume wholesome organic foods. Some of you we see often when you collect your share, or when we are dropping off at your pickup location, or if you attend a weekend farmers market; while others may only connect at the CSA open farm day, or through this newsletter space. We love talking about the CSA program, and appreciate your kind words about the freshness and flavor of the foods you get from us, as you keep our engines revved up during these dog days of summer.
The snippets of stories that you share, tells us that the whole is bigger than the sum of the parts. For example, this past Saturday I learned from a 30-something couple of how much better they felt since “We switched to eating your food.” They looked at one another while completing each other’s sentences, seemingly each wanting to be the one to let me know just how proud they were, and how good they felt. It has opened a new outlook on life, and now they look forward to cooking together each night after work.
On Sunday at the Hyde Park Farmers Market, when I handed a first-year shareholder their bag of goodies, they appeared giddy with excitement. Reading the body language, I inquired how the CSA experience was going. They spontaneously exclaimed for all around to hear, “It’s awesome, and it’s like having a birthday every week! We look forward to figuring out what and when and how we are going to eat all this stuff. It’s a blast.”
While sorting tomatoes for the display at the Southland Drive market, somebody asked “Are these tomatoes ripe and ready to eat?” The tomatoes packed in your share are vine-ripened to be sure, but generally benefit from a few days of additional curing when you get them home. You should buy your fish the day you want to eat it, and your tomatoes a few days prior to eating them. If we waited until they are ‘dead ripe’ to put in your share, they would get bruised up in transport. The round red slicers are slower to cure out than the heirloom pinks and yellows and blacks, while the San Marzano, tiny orange, black plum, and white cherry tomatoes will hold their ripeness quite well. Be sure to keep them resting on their shoulders out on the counter or table where you can keep an eye on them and decide when to enjoy them. Tomatoes are easy to blanch and freeze for use after the fresh season has passed, so do that if you have more than you can eat at any one time.
It was fun, and rewarding, when a young couple on Saturday at Cheapside Park discovered we had fresh chickens available and decided to completely change the menu for the cook-out they were having later that same day. “We could totally have grilled chicken thighs tonight, then we could grill some of their organic sweet corn and make a beautiful Caprese salad with that incredible array of tomatoes, and they even have fresh basil. That way, everything we are having could come from here!” What a great way to host a party for friends and share the freshness and flavors of whatever is available on a given day.
Though there’s the comment that I just don’t understand. “Snapping green beans is too much work.” Really? It doesn’t seem like a very big chore to sit on the deck with the love of my life, sharing conversation and an adult beverage, while snapping the ends of some beans, and breaking them up into bite size pieces. As many of you have learned, it’s only the stem end that needs to be removed and when they are small, skinny beans, you can just leave them whole anyhow.
As we’ve shared with you before, we encourage you to break down your share when you get home. Decide what is more perishable than others, securing items away in the fridge to maintain the freshness, and mapping out your menus to some extent. Some people follow recipes to a ‘T’, others use them as a guide. Learn to get creative with substitutions, and generally get comfortable prepping the produce you are working on. When people ask us how we prepare various items, our response is generally the same. Keep it simple. We like to eat some fresh raw veggies every day – maybe a lettuce, or kale, or tomato salad – with whatever accoutrements may be available. Then we do a lot of steaming of veggies, with not much else other than salt and pepper, with sometimes vinegar on greens or butter on corn. Let the food speak for itself.
It is very rewarding for us, to hear how important your relationship with our food, is to you. Rarely does a market go by that someone does not say “My doctor told me to eat the kind of food you grow.” Does that not make food, well, medicine? We know that organic CSA shareholders spend less time going for doctor visits than the average Kentuckian, from the survey recently conducted by the UK Agriculture Economics Department. Seemingly this time is exchanged for spending time at home in the kitchen.
With the survey results to back it up, it does seem logical that taking the time to prepare wholesome, organic foods that are bursting with flavor is a pretty good way to live your life. Knowing we are not only nourishing you, but helping bring family and friends together to celebrate the goodness, in turn generates new stories. With your show of financial support through your CSA partnership with the farm, your kind words, and your excitement at enjoying really good food, we are revitalized during a long-day, hard-working time of the season. We are honored to be your farmer, and for that, we say “Thanks.” – Mac Stone
In Your Share