Monday, March 30, 2009

Family Day

On Saturday we held our first ever Family Day at the farm, and it was quite a success! We had about a dozen kids, plus parents and a couple grandparents, and everyone got to play a microbe game, learn about how soil fulfills many of plants' needs, and investigate different soil samples. We also took a brief walking tour of the farm and had a fresh lunch of veggies from the stand and warm-out-of-the-oven bread. To put it briefly: it was a blast.

To all of the families who joined us, thanks for coming, and I hope you had as much fun as I did. To those who couldn't make it this week, I hope you can join us this weekend, for our second ever Family Day! Yup, we're making this a regular Saturday morning thing, and everyone's welcome.

Next time we'll learn about the role animals play at Green String. We get more than eggs from our chickens, and our sheep, goats, and bees are multitaskers too! As always, please wear clothes that you don't mind getting dirty, and a water bottle wouldn't be a bad idea either. We'll bring food for anyone who cares to join us for lunch after the activities.

To help us prepare, we ask that you please RSVP with the number of participants (kids and adults) you plan to bring. Email or sign up at the farm store.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Farmy Mayonnaise

If anyone tells you homemade mayonnaise isn't worth the trouble, they don't know what they're missing. Fresh eggs have extraordinary emulsifying power, and you can't get much fresher than Green String Farm's eggs -- we rarely have eggs for sale that are more than a day old.

Homemade mayo does require raw eggs, so if you're worried about salmonella -- particularly if you have anyone in the house who's pregnant or who has an immune disorder -- stick to store-bought mayonnaise, but for those of us who like our yolks runny, this is as good as it gets.

Experiment with different spices and herbs for specialty mayos; our current favorite is ½ teaspoon smoked paprika and a small pinch of ground ginger. We can't wait for summer to bring basil-mayonnaise -- there's nothing better for topping a veggie burger.

Smear on any kind of sandwich or blend it into your favorite vinaigrette for a tangy, creamy salad dressing. Former intern Julia has been known to feast on leftover popovers smothered with curry mayo in the wee hours of the morning, and we think she's onto something great.

  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground spices (paprika, turmeric,
  • curry powder, ginger, mustard, etc.) or 1 tablespoon finely chopped herbs
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup safflower oil
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together yolk, salt, sugar, and spices until very well combined.
  2. Add half of the lemon juice and whisk until creamy.
  3. Drizzle the oil in very slowly and continue to whisk. Begin drop-by-drop until you have the hang of it.
  4. Once you have incorporated half of the oil, add the remaining lemon juice, then return to drizzling in the remaining oil.

Friday, March 27, 2009

hungry in the morning

hungry in the morning is definitely the best time to recollect epicurean delights from the night before. so i will do so...we had a LOT of food left over from helping to cater a rotary club dinner (PARTY ALL NIGHT!), so i made a leftovers feast last night. i had nearly 5 hours to do so, but even with less time and a bit more preparation all of this stuff can be done easily. of course there was soup, since we still have loads of leek, carrot, celery and onion tops, so you can refer to my last post about that, we also had a massive partially cooked baby blue hubbard squash leftover. it had been roasted for about 4 hours the day before and put onto pizzas, i decided to do an appetizer with the remnants.

tea poached squash with gorgonzola and pine nuts

  • 3-4 cups squash, roasted and cut into appetizer sized bits
  • full kettle of tea (i used english breakfast with some mint leaves and honey)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of sugar (you can use more or less depending on the squash you use)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts

after heating the tea kettle, put two teabags in and let steep for 5 minutes. add any tea additions you might like, no milk though. get a large flat bottomed pan to poach the squash in. pour the hot tea in and add the sugar, stirring to dissolve. bring to just below a boil and add the pieces of squash, in preparing them it is a good idea to not cook them completely so they still hold their shape and don't get too mushy. poach the squash for 20-30 minutes, testing them with a fork every few minutes. once they are fork tender pour them through a colander and set aside to dry. put the poaching liquid on medium low to reduce while you finish up. arrange the squash on a cookie sheet and sprinkle the crumbled gorgonzola and pine nuts on, if they are refusing to stay on the squash press them into the (hopefully) softened squash a bit. put them in a 350 degree oven for 3-4 minutes. pour the reduced tea liquid on after you have taken it out of the oven and it has cooled somewhat...might be a good idea to delay making them while the liquid reduces so it can get nice and thick, i didn't, and i regret it like nothing i've ever regretted before. not really, it was delicious anyways.

we made some lentils and roasted a huge bowl of veggies in broth and white wine with pepper and lemon and combined them, the other thing i feel worthy of a mention and recipe is the carrot cookies i made, which was partially stolen from the doubleday cookbook (this book has got everything, including how to kill turtles and prepare pigeon pie).

carrot cookies

  • 1 cup of carrots (cooked, mashed and cooled)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla)
  • bit of cinnamon
  • bit of nutmeg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange rind

preheat the oven to 350. cream the butter til it gets fluffy and slowly add sugar while beating (i used a spoon and fingers which makes for delicious clean up). after the sugar has been added and beat in well, mix in the carrots, egg, almond extract, spices and orange rind. also if you have any dried fruit or nuts laying around the kitchen you can throw them in too, maybe a quarter to a half a cup. sift flour with baking powder and salt and gradually incorporate. when it's all mixed together and delicious grease a sheet pan and drop the cookies on. put em in for 15 minutes or so, until they start turning brown. the recipe said it makes 5 dozen but they must have been making the cookies minuscule to make 5 dozen...i made about 2 dozen.



Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Celeriac Gratin

Celeriac, or celery root, tastes like celery but can be cooked like potatoes. This gratin is the ultimate comfort food for chilly spring nights. The recipe makes two casseroles to feed a crowd, but can easily be halved for one dish.

Celeriac Casserole

makes 12-16 servings
  • 1 gigantic celery root, or 2 smallish celery roots
  • 1 lb kale, collards, chard, or other greens
for the sauce
  • 3 T butter
  • 3 T cooking oil
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced (with green top)
  • 6 T flour
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 C vegetable broth
  • ½ C milk
for the streusel
  • 1 C breadcrumbs
  • ¼ C thyme
  • 1 heavy pinch coarse salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • 1 T olive oil
  1. Peel celeriac and divide into 4-6 manageable pieces. Cut into 1/8 inch slices. (A mandolin or V-slicer would be handy.)
  2. Remove any thick stems from greens and finely chop into ¼ inch strips.
  3. Grease two casseroles. Lay down an even layer of celeriac, with the slices slightly overlapping. Top with a light layer of greens - not enough to entirely cover the celeriac. Continue alternating layers of celeriac and greens, ending with celeriac - how many layers depends on the size of your casseroles.
  4. In a wide saucepan or skillet, melt butter with oil over medium heat. Add onions and salt and cook until tender.
  5. Stir in flour. Cook about 3 minutes.
  6. Gradually stir in broth and milk. Bring to a boil, them simmer 5 minutes. Season to taste.
  7. Pour sauce very evenly over casseroles.
  8. Cover and bake in a 300°F oven for 30 minutes.
  9. Combine streusel ingredients and sprinkle over casseroles.
  10. Continue to bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until streusel is crispy but not burnt.
  11. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Farm Events

Beginning this week, Green String is putting on regular educational programs open to the public.


Thursdays, 9am to noon
Meet at the Green String Farm Store

If you’re interested in natural process farming and want to learn more, we invite you to join us on Thursday mornings for community workdays. Green String Farm interns will lead activities and discuss principles of natural farming in a casual setting. Activities may include: pruning, soil preparation, harvesting, competition control, animal care, compost, and much more.

Please come prepared to work! We’ll provide tools, but make sure you have comfortable clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and good, sturdy work shoes. Mudboots and gloves are recommended.

Family Day

Saturday, March 28
Activities: 10:30am to noon
Lunch: noon to 1pm

Meet at the Green String Farm Store

Learn about natural farming from the ground up!

Interns at Green String Farm are going to give brief, fun, hands-on lessons about how we farm. We invite you to join us for our very first Family Day on March 28, when we’ll get our hands dirty and talk about the most important part of our farm -- soil! If you’d like to join us for lunch afterwards we’ll bring homemade bread and we can dig into some fresh veggies from the farm stand.

Please wear clothes and shoes that can get dirty -- mudboots would be great! The activities will be geared towards 6- to 11 year-olds, but we can provide alternate activities for younger children. Parents, though we’re excited to teach your kids, we’re not prepared to supervise them entirely, so you’ll be asked to stay with us throughout the activities (and you might learn something too).

Suggested donation for lunch: $2 per person

Please RSVP to or sign up at the farm store.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pre-seasonal Delights

Last week after an afternoon lesson with Bob Cannard, I set out with Hannah and Cody on a hunt for a couple of early spring crops. We had only just begun picking artichokes for the store, and Bob mentioned that our asparagus should start coming up any day.

We headed off, armed with boxes and picking knives, to "The Island", a few acres bordered on three sides by the creek the runs through Green String Farm. I was the supposed leader of the group, but I immediately showed my ineptitude by leading us only deeper into the vineyards while searching for the driest path across the creek.

Doubling back, we happened upon a beautiful old oak tree that must have fallen over decades ago and then decided to keep on growing straight up anyways. The gigantic L-shaped tree laid across the creek, but the draping of moss and lichen made it a treacherous footbridge, especially with all the boxes.

Brave interns that we clearly are, we made it across the tree without injuries or tears, and plowed ahead to the artichokes. In a sea of the big leafy plants, only a precious few were showing signs of flowering, so the three of us spent a half hour collecting enough for dinner.

We started searching for the asparagus patch, and only after a fair bit of searching did we realize that we didn't know what we were looking for, exactly. I called Ross Cannard for tips, and he said, "You know what they look like on the plate? They look like that, coming out of the ground." Given this seemingly obvious advice, we soon stumbled into the asparagus field. Lo and behold, the ground was dotted with little asparagus nubs poking their way out of the soil! We picked only six of them, leaving the rest to grow bigger for the next trip.

For dinner that night, we enjoyed polenta bake topped with beautifully tender asparagus, and a perfect little artichoke each. It's become almost cliché around the intern house to declare, "This is the best (fill in the blank) I've ever had!" These vegetables and eggs are always the best we've tasted. I chalk it up mostly to the way we farm at Green String, and to the freshness of the produce. (I doubt we've eaten anything more than a day or two old since we got here.) But something about having particular seasons for each food makes everything more special: that first bite of asparagus, after so long without it, tasted like a brand new kind of delicious. And then there's the sheer thrill of the hunt.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

buckets of random stuff

We have lots of buckets at the intern house, lots of buckets with multiple purposes, and the smallest one (a bathroom size trash can) is for actual trash for the dumpster. Besides that they are mostly 5 gallon buckets. One is for chickens -- anything old and green or looks to be good chicken food goes to that one (no citrus or hot peppers). Then we have general compost which is literally almost everything else.

Now I say almost because I had a bolt from the blue making veggie soup today: it's always always always great to have leek and onion tops, wilty celery and other still viable broth ingredients around, so I've designated a smaller 3 gallon for just that purpose. I'll post a short recap of what went down in the soup tonight, since it was delicious.

Vegetable Soup

  • water
  • whole kitchen scraps -- tops of onions and leeks, wilted celery, etc.
  • salt
  • ground pepper
  • 1-2 dried cayenne or serrano peppers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • red potatoes
  • leeks
  • fresh oregano
  • fresh rosemary
  • mushrooms, onions, and/or brussels sprouts
  1. big stockpot half or two thirds full of water on high heat til it is nearly boiling
  2. throw all the odds and ends in (cheesecloth is good for keeping everything together if you want)
  3. healthy pinch of salt, some ground pepper, 1 or 2 hot peppers and a tablespoon of olive oil as well
  4. give that a couple hours on low with the lid on
  5. get a colander and place the veggie pieces you don't want in the final soup in the colander
  6. chop up some red waxy potatoes and leeks into bite sized pieces and chuck em in
  7. add liberal doses of fresh oregano and rosemary
  8. find delicious things in or outside the kitchen to put in (mushrooms, onions, brussels sprouts)
  9. probably another healthy pinch of salt would be good
  10. give that another two hours or so on low without the lid
  11. season it up a few minutes before serving
  12. don't puree it
  13. bathe in acclaim


Thursday, March 5, 2009

March 2009 Newsletter

The March newsletter is now available!

In this issue:
  • In the Store
  • Farm News
  • Working with Weeds
  • Recipe: Strange Slaw
  • Recipe: Spicy Lemon-Glazed Napa Cabbage
  • Recipe: Rosemary Cookies
Pick it up in the store or download the PDF. We also email a text version of the newsletter at the beginning of the month. If you'd like to be added to our mailing list, comment with your email address here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


The cardoon is a member of the thistle family, related to the artichoke. The long, thick stem is fibrous like celery, but has a delicate, artichokey flavor.

They're wonderful on their own or with a little dressing (try homemade curry mayonnaise for a tangy treat), or you can parboil them until barely tender and finish cooking them in another dish. They take particularly well to braising.

Here's an easy way to enjoy them! This recipe will serve four generous helpings, or six smaller ones. (Bold ingredients are available at the Green String Farm Store.)

Easy Cardoons

  • 2 large cardoon stems
  • water to cover
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 10 sage leaves
  1. Peel the thin, translucent skin from the cardoons by rubbing with your thumb. If you wish, you can also peel some of the stronger strings from the ribbed side with a paring knife.
  2. Chop the cardoons in smallish bite-size pieces. ½ inch slices will cook quickly.
  3. Place cardoons in saucepan and add enough water to cover, along with salt.
  4. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until tender, approximately 30 minutes.
  5. When cardoons are nearly done, melt the butter in a separate pan over low heat. When the butter is just beginning to brown, add the sage leaves and gently fry until just crispy, about a minute.
  6. Drain cardoons and top with brown butter/sage. Add salt and pepper to taste, if necessary.