Winter Egg Production

hen in snow

I. Understanding Why Egg Laying Stops

The winter slack in egg laying is not usually about temperature. Unless it is bitterly cold–for example, below 0˚F–chickens usually do just fine in the cold. The real problem is the changes in their environment that come with the winter.

Chickens need at least 14 hours of daylight for their endocrine systems to secrete egg-laying hormones. If they are not getting this much light, the hormones are not released and egg-laying may drop as a result.

While chickens may do just fine in the cold, the wind is another story. If it is windy, it doesn’t matter the temperature: your hens are going to be stressed out. Especially if there isn’t a place where they can get away from the wind. Continue reading “Winter Egg Production”

Great cooking ideas

Getting Hooked On Cooking With CSA

by Katherine Deumling of Cook With What You Have      

Friends of the Market, here is a a great article by Katherine Deumling .  It talks about using a CSA share, but it applies to using seasonal products from Farmers Markets too.

 

A CSA share offers a plethora of produce every week and with it varieties we may have never seen before, let alone cooked—a delight and a bit of a challenge, for sure.

Fresh, delicious vegetables chosen for me week after week is my idea of heaven. It hasn’t always been but I get more hooked every year. I’m hooked on the deliciousness, on not having to make any decisions about what vegetables to purchase, and on the creativity it inspires.

So, how does one get hooked?

Stock your Pantry, Two Ways:

Shop mostly to restock rather than for specific dishes. You’ll spend less time (and money) running to the store for last minute items and can instead spend your time cooking, eating, and creatively using what you already have.

This is a basic list but you certainly don’t need everything listed to cook many dishes. And, your pantry will reflect your particular taste. This is just a loose guide.

Purchased Goods for Pantry, Fridge and Freezer:

  • Lentils; French green, red, brown
  • Beans: black, pinto, white, chickpeas
  • Grains: brown and white rice, barley, farro, cornmeal/polenta, quinoa, pasta, couscous, bulgur
  • Seeds & nuts: sunflower, pumpkin, hazelnuts, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, etc.
  • Spices: cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, dried chilies, turmeric, caraway, paprika, cardamom
  • Herbs: thyme, oregano
  • Vinegars: cider, rice and red wine
  • Oils: olive, sunflower, coconut, sesame
  • Hot sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Lemons and limes
  • Meat and fish in freezer: sausages, bacon, chicken, etc.

Semi-prepared Items:

When you have a little spare time you can add semi-prepared items to your fridge/ pantry that will make life much easier and tastier when you don’t have those extra few minutes to get a meal on the table.

  • Make a jar of vinaigrette and keep it in the fridge. Dress lettuces and greens as well as roasted vegetables or plain chickpeas/beans with the same vinaigrette, adding some chopped herbs and toasted seeds. Be creative!
  • Cook a good quantity of beans. Put beans out to soak before you go to work in the morning. Cook them that evening while you’re in the kitchen cooking something else for dinner anyway and have them ready for the next day or freeze half.
  • Cook twice as much rice, barley or farro as you need for any given meal and freeze half of it to make fried rice, rice and beans or a soup the following week on a particularly busy night when you need the head start.
  • Toast a cup of sunflower or pumpkin seeds and keep in a jar. Your salads will be better for them; your soups will have added crunch; your snacks will be cheaper and more nutritious!
  • Use a whole bunch of parsley or cilantro to make a quick, savory sauce with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar. Stir in some thick yogurt for a creamy version. Having a flavorful component like this on hand means a plain bowl of rice or beans or a fried egg turns into a meal in no time.
  • Make chicken or any other meat, fish or vegetable stock and freeze.

Free Yourself from Strictly Following a Recipe & Learn to Improvise and Substitute.

The more you cook—and you will be cooking (!)—the easier and more fun it is to substitute and adapt as you go. Families of vegetables such as brassicas and alliums have certain common characteristics that in many cases let you substitute one for another. However, there is no real shortcut to learning how to do this so experiment as much as you can—you’ll have plenty of opportunity. Here are a few general guidelines to get you started.

Root vegetables love to be roasted as do brassicas like kohlrabi, cauliflower, romanesco, Brussels sprouts and broccoli. Cut up, tossed with a little oil and salt and roasted in a single layer, they are delicious as is or can serve as the foundation for soups, mashes, salads, etc.

Onions, like their allium compatriots, shallots, scallions, leeks and garlic, are pungent raw and quite sweet cooked. If you don’t have an onion by all means use a leek, though leeks are sweeter and you might add a little acidity to balance it out and leeks are not so good raw. Scallions (green onions) and shallots can be substituted for onions and vice versa in many recipes, raw or cooked.

Sweet potatoes, potatoes, celery root, rutabagas and turnips and sometimes winter squash can often stand in for one another in mashes, gratins, soups and stews.

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, spring rabe and romanesco, all brassicas, have similar flavors and behave similarly in many dishes, though certainly not all. Mashed cauliflower is delicious but I would not mash Brussel sprouts.

Leafy greens are eminently substitutable. Chards, beet greens, kale and collards, are all good raw (very thinly sliced) when young and tender. They behave quite similarly when cooked and can be mixed and substituted for each other at will. Turnip, radish, and mustard greens are all tender and often interchangeable, though radish tops are a bit fuzzy raw. Make sure to blanch those.

Get Good at a Handful of Dishes that Showcase most any Vegetable.

It’s not so hard to keep up when you have a handful of recipes that can accommodate most any vegetable and in a variety of combinations.

A simple frittata elevates most vegetables, from leafy greens to peppers, peas, herbs, potatoes and both summer and winter squash.

Pan-fried vegetable fritters/savory pancakes/patties transform mounds of vegetables of all kinds into savory nuggets. Broccoli with parmesan, leftover mashed potatoes, leeks and plenty of parsley, rutabaga and carrot latkes, Japanese-inspired cabbage pancakes with scallions, sesame oil and soy sauce. . .

Fried rice with loads of finely chopped vegetables; simple Thai-style coconut milk curries; and soups and stir-fries, of course, are all good vehicles for delicious CSA produce.

A quick, stove top version of mac ‘n cheese with whatever vegetables you have, chopped finely, never fails to be devoured.

Finally, recipes can often accommodate way more vegetables than they call for. Perhaps a recipe calls for 1 lb of pasta and 3 cups of vegetables. Invert that ratio and use ½ lb of pasta and 6 cups of vegetables or just add more vegetables and have plenty of leftovers. You’ll figure out how to make such changes and have recipes and tips work for your particular selection of produce.

Get comfortable making a few of these dishes and make them your own, with different spices, herbs, cheeses.

RECIPES FROM COOKING DAYS WITH CHEF JEN

1st COOKING DAY

Roasted asparagus, roasted carrots:

Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil and a good shake of salt over 1 pound of asparagus. Toss well to coat. Jen used a pan in the grill and closed the lid and roasted until the asparagus began to brown, then stirred and continued until all sides were nicely charred. She used the same technique with the roasted carrots with the addition of a dash of Allepo Pepper which is a mildly hot pepper which can be purchased from Penzey’s spices. A nice Hungarian paprika would also work. You can also do it in your oven at 450 degrees.

Omelet:

Jen started by sautéing diced green garlic scapes, shitake mushrooms, and country ham until softened and then added finely chopped greens and continued to sautéed until they also softened. She put them in another container, wiped out the pan, added equal parts olive oil and butter and heated until quite hot. She poured in well beaten eggs and let set up. Then shake the egg free, flip it over add the filling, and fold the egg over the filling and serve.

Hominy grits:

Start with white hominy grits ( you can find them at the Amish store in Woodlawn)

Use 5 cups of water for every cup of grits. Jen made a big batch, so she brought 10 c water to a boil with a tsp salt. She whisked in 2 c grits and cooked over medium heat stirring occasionally. Cook til softened, about 25 minutes. For each cup of grits,add a ¼ cup butter and a ½ cup of parmesan cheese. In this double batch, that’s ½ c butter and 1 c parmesan. You can eat it now OR pour into a flat pan with tall sides ( a cake pan works well) and cool on the counter. Once completely cool, cover and place in fridge overnight. If you cover while hot, condensation will form on the plastic and your polenta will be soggy, not firm.

Fried polenta:

Slice your chilled grits into 1inch slices, season with salt and pepper and fry in a mix of butter and olive oil until browned on one side, flip and brown the remaining side.

Jen topped hers with sautéed greens.

Orzo with greens:

Cook the orzo according to package directions.

Saute garlic and red pepper flakes in a mix of butter and olive oil. Add chopped greens and continue to sauté until greens are tender and reduced. Then add marscapone cheese( or cottage cheese) stir till melted, then add salt, pepper and parmesan to taste and stir in the cooked orzo to reheat and mix well.

Sausage sandwich:

Jen cooked chirizo links on the grill. She split the sausage and layered it on a split and toasted Honest Bread baguette with sauted onions and cheese.

Sirloin Tips:

Jen sauted onions, shitake mushrooms and garlic scapes in a large pan she added the sirloin tips (Little River Farm) and browned them and then covered with water and covered the pan and cooked over low heat for 4 hours, added more water as needed.


RECIPES FROM JULY 3rd

Cucumber salad:

Jen used Suiyo Long Japanese cucumbers sliced into rounds. She added salt and pepper to taste and ¼ cup each olive oil and vinegar and 2 TB honey ( or to taste) ¼ tsp dried dill and 1 chopped garlic clove. Mix together and serve. You can garnish with lemon basil

Roasted squash:

Slice ¼ inch thick any variety of squash-Jen demonstrated with every kind of squash at the market that day and all were delicious- season with salt, pepper and olive oil. Don’t be skimpy on the oil.

Throw on the grill and leave until starting to brown. Flip and brown the other side. Yes it’s that easy!

Roasted Onions:

Cut an onion in half. Leave the root end on or the onion will fall apart. Season with salt, pepper and olive oil and grill until softened. Eat as is or mix with other grilled veggies.

Sautéed squash with grits:

Slice squash in ¼ inch rounds. Sauté with olive oil and butter. Add a dash of shiracha hot sauce. Serve with polenta. See recipe from 1st cooking day

Omelet with sautéed spiralized squash noodles:

Sauté squash with olive oil, butter, chopped clove of garlic,salt, pepper and siracha. In another bowl, beat 2 eggs very well. When the squash is softened, pour the eggs on top and let set. Flip or fold and garnish with minced chives and parsley

Lamb Stew:

Dredge chunks of lamb in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Jen used a pound of lamb. Sauté in a mix of butter and olive oil until browned. Add chopped onions, carrots, garlic and potatoes and continue to sauté until browned. Add 4 cups water and ½ cup peas. Simmer until tender. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Jen added a tsp of “better than boullion” to add some depth.

Yogurt with fruit:

Add chopped fresh fruit to yogurt, sprinkle with nuts and serve.

Homemade Gatoraid:

Juice 2 oranges and ½ a lemon. Add 2 TB honey and a pinch of salt and add water to thin and shake and serve with ice.


 

RECIPES FROM AUGUST 7th-TOMATO DAY

Gazpacho:

This is one of those recipes that is more of a guideline than an actual recipe.

You want 3 parts tomatoes to 1 part of a mix of cucumbers, peppers, onions green onions and garlic.  Put it all in a blender or food processor and add salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and worcestershire sauce and a pinch of cayenne pepper to taste.  Blend, taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

 

Sauteed Eggplant:

3 oriental eggplant sliced into rounds. Into a hot saute pan add olive oil, ¼ cup of garlic , a ¼ of a cayenne pepper, then add the eggplant rounds and saute until tender and browned.

 

Coleslaw:  

Finely chop cabbage.  Mince white onions and rinse under cold water.  Add lemon juice(or apple cider vinegar), olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well and let sit so the flavors can come together.  Add shredded carrots if desired.

 

Meatloaf:

Rinse wheat berries, then place in a jar with water and soak 24 hours.  Rinse again and use.

Use equal parts ground pork and beef.  Heartmoss Farm sausage and Little River Beef worked well.  She added coleslaw, wheat berries salt and pepper. Mix well and put in oven proof pan, top with mustard, shiracha, worchestershire, and ketchup.  Jen actually used the condiment pack from Subway!

Roasted Peppers:

Place red or green peppers in a cast iron on high heat, turning to blacken all the skin, remove and cover, when it has cooled enough to handle remove the blackened skin. 

Yellow tomato Italian stew:

Add olive oil to a pan on medium heat, saute  onions and garlic for a moment then add chicken (French Family Farm) chopped into bite sized pieces and sausage removed from its casing.  Once cooked a bit, add white balsamic vinegar and chopped yellow tomatoes and simmer until the chicken is done.  Add chopped roasted peppers and fresh herbs-Jen used thyme and rosemary.

 

Soy glazed green beans:

Get a cast iron pan hot add olive oil and garlic and green beans and a bit of water.  When the water cooks off and the beans are still crunchy add soy sauce and some butter to the pan. Stir until the beans are nicely glazed and a bit burnt, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

 

Spaghetti squash with sausage:

Puncture the squash(Bird and Hopper Farm) and bake for an hour.  Turn 5 or 6 times if cooking in a grill to ensure even cooking.  Cut open and shred the innards.

For the sauce:  squeeze the sausage out of the casing.  Sauté with onions and garlic then add chopped tomatoes.  Cook until tomatoes break down and serve on the squash.

 

Salsas:

Peach Salsa:

To easily remove the skin, drop in boiling water for 1 minute.  The peel will slip off.  This also works for tomatoes.  Chop 8 peeled peaches, ¼ of a minced serrano, 1 medium minced, chopped, rinsed, white onion, a handful of minced cilantro, fresh lime juice and salt to taste.

 

Pineapple Salsa:  this won the “All other Salsa” category

Peel, core and chop a whole pineapple.  Mince ¼ of a cayenne pepper.  Add a handful of chopped cilantro, a squeeze of honey and some fresh lime juice.

 

Fresh tortilla chips:

Get fresh corn tortillas.  Cut into sixths.  Fry in rendered pork fat (Crosscreek farm) until crisp.  Sprinkle with salt while still hot.

 

 

 

 


 

Marketing & Pricing Workshop

It’s workshop season. The 1st FREE IFM workshop is Saturday March 28th from 8:30 am to noon at the Grayson National Bank Conference Center. We’re focusing on marketing and pricing your products, whether it’s vegetables, meats, eggs or artisan crafts. Mandy Archer with the Small Business Development Center at Cross Roads is our featured speaker. We’ll also have producer roundtable discussion. Join us for a potluck lunch.

The Independence Farmers Market pre-season vendor meeting

begins at noon and goes to about 2 pm. Please join us if you’d like to be a vendor this year. Fees are $40 for the season or $10 a day. Your 1st time at the market is free and it’s always free for students. We’ll be assigning spaces. Hope to see you there.

And save the date for Saturday April 18th for Market Garden Workshop.

It also starts at 8:30 am at the Grayson National Bank Conference Center. Classes in the morning include crop planning and succession planting, favorite tools and techniques , and Niche Marketing until noon, join us for another potluck lunch. Then we’ll go out to Wagon Wheel Farm for hands on workshops including different kinds of raised beds, bending low hoops, setting up irrigation, touring the high tunnel and transplant greenhouse and more.