Yes, it’s not much notice, but that’s the nature of fresh food. I had chickens and ducks butchered yesterday. I calculated the cost of purchasing them, feeding the monsters for 10 weeks, butchering them, and added in 15% extra for labor. It’s still less than minimum wage, just to put it in perspective. And I’m not apologizing for the cost, I’m just explaining it, because if you compare this to the price of grocery store chicken, it seems awfully high.
Raising free-range birds on grass, moving the pen twice a day so they’re never standing in poop, is not the lowest-cost way to raise poultry. But they taste amazing, like real chicken should. They look good, and they don’t have that creepy smell that factory-raised birds do. I’m okay with the relatively low return on this because I raised some for us at the same time; that’s why I don’t add any $ for electricity for the brooder lights, or the cost of the movable pens, or the travel to and from the butcher.
So……with a discount for Cool Beans, they’re available for 3.25 for chicken and 3.50 for ducks. (It’s fifty cents a pound more for non-Beans.) Chickens are averaging about 3 pounds, ducks around 4. Pickup at the farm today or tomorrow after 3 pm while they’re still fresh; we’ll see what’s left after that point, and possibly they’ll be available for sale frozen later. I don’t know if I’ll offer this again or just raise them for the family, it’s going to depend on the response to this post.
Not all cookbooks are CSA-friendly, because often the ingredient list pairs items that aren’t in season at the same time. I learned recently that some CSAs purchase cookbooks in quantity and sell them to their members at a profit. Here’s the Cool Beans spin on that idea: I’ve been collecting gently used copies of several cookbooks I know and trust, ones that have simple, beautiful, fast recipes using seasonal fruits and vegetables. Jodie, who delivers my mail, has been bringing packages all week – this photo is about a third of what’s been ordered. I’ll put one in your bag every other week or so, and you can keep it for a week or two. The only catch is that I hope everyone will recommend the best recipes they come across, so we can all enjoy them!
Unbelievably, this is the fifth winter CSA bag, so we’re halfway through. It’s not greens-heavy this week – the lettuces need a little time to regrow. You have collards and spinach, two gorgeous Cameo apples from Ben at Three Spring Fruit Farm, exquisite baby carrots, biscotti, and popcorn. The newsletter has details about the biscotti – Cool Bean Sue is thinking of selling her homemade biscotti as a business, and she’s looking for some feedback.
We still have room in the regular season CSA – you’ll find details if you click on the links at the top of the page. If you’ve already sent in a check, you’ll get confirmation soon. The PA Garden Expo is this weekend and I”m prepping about 1300 potted iris (in my alter ego as Stoney Creek Iris) for the event, and I can’t get caught up on paperwork or anything else until that’s over!
I’m so happy about these baby carrots. They were seeded on October 15 in the hoophouse. Had I known how well they’d do, I’d have planted several times this many. Now I know for next year! My grandddaughter Calliope, who is three, pulled out about a dozen on her last visit, wiped them off on the seat of her pants, and ate them so fast I barely had time to suggest that she save the green part for the rabbits. According to Calliope, “Nanno did a good job making these carrots.” So you know they’ve been tested for quality.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour
2/3 cup sugar
1-2 Tbsp grated orange peel
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c. orange juice
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional
Combine flours, sugar, orange peel, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
Add orange juice, milk, oil, egg, and nuts. Stir until dry particles are moistened. Pour batter into greased 8″ x 4″ loaf pan.
Sprinkle top with a mixture of 1 Tbsp sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon.
Bake at 350 for 60-65 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1 cup rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
3/4 c raisins
1 c milk
3 Tbsp oil
Mix together flours, oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, sugars, and raisins.
Beat together egg, milk and oil.
Briefly stir the wet and dry ingredients.
Spoon batter into greased muffin pans (fill 2/3 full)
Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes.
Katie’s notes: you can decrease the sugar to 1/2 c total without ruining the flavor. Add nuts or substitute any dried fruit for the raisins if you wish.
Today’s soup is a wonderful potato soup with blue cheese and a hint of truffle oil. Chef Steve suggests that you thin it with milk or water when you gently reheat it, because potato soups will thicken upon standing.
Info about signing up for the 2013 season should be posted here by the end of next week! Just getting the seed orders wrapped up and on their way first!
A quick pic of what’s in your bag this week: across the front, apples from three Springs Fruit Farm, cider cranberry jelly, and alfalfa sprouts. The four bags, clockwise from top left, are Black Seeded Simpson lettuce, spinach, kales, and arugula. The Thing is a Chinese cabbage. More info in the newsletter, which is also in your bag, but not pictured!
Winter CSA is sold out, first delivery is next Tuesday Dec. 18. Signups for the regular season will begin in early January. Updated info will be posted soon!
A new WinterBean, Lisa, is doing a doctoral dissertation on local foods. If you have a few minutes, would you consider filling out this online survey for her? ~thanks from katie
So……there’s been a fantastic response to this morning’s Facebook post about the winter CSA. (Note to social media: I’m sorry I ever considered you irrelevant.) And the question’s come up a few times now from potential Beans: what’s a typical winter share going to be like?
And that question, more than anything else, explains why our first winter CSA is priced lower than many other local ones. Because honestly…….I don’t know. There is a steep learning curve here, and I expect to slide off of it a few times.
Here’s what I do know: there will be salad greens and cooking greens from the hoophouse. There will be winter-storage crops (potatoes, winter squashes, etc) that I will buy, this first year, from other local organic farmers. (I didn’t know the hoophouse was going to be ready so quickly, and up and running for winter production this year, so I did not plant enough this summer for a winter CSA.) There will be fruit from two farms that supplied us with some items for the regular season. If the bag doesn’t meet the standard of awesomeness, we’ll put in value-added items. In the regular season, we’ve added freshly ground whole wheat flour, cider, ricotta cheese, cookies, muffins, butter, bean sprouts, or fresh bread. Since we have several vegetarian Beans, meat is not included in the CSA bags. (However, Steve’s soups may not all be vegetarian. If there’s a good response to the soup share idea, he hopes to offer options in the future.)
At first I saw these additions as something a bit embarrassing – a sign that I’d messed up the cabbage that was supposed to have gone in that week’s bag, or underplanted the radishes, or whatever. But I learned that our Beans enjoy what’s come to be known as the ‘brown-bag surprise’ in the occasional delivery, and that they either embrace the spirit of adventure which is part of the Cool Beans experience, or they leave us and move to a CSA which has a longer track record, a larger staff, and the ability to tell people a week ahead of time what to expect in their bag, something to which I can only aspire. I can direct you to those CSAs if you think they’re a better fit for you, and I’ll do so without hesitation or hard feelings. There’s fantastic CSA programs around here run by some amazing people, and you need to find the one where you’ll be happiest.
I’m getting better every year at figuring how much to plant, and I’m finding some awesome local CSA farmers who are willing to swap produce sometimes, so we will never have a repeat of the summer of ’09, also known as the Summer of Unending Chard. I don’t want to eat chard six nights a week, so I don’t expect my Beans to. In ’09, we finally swapped chard for cucumbers and swapped the cucumbers for something else and swapped that for chocolate pudding made with organic ingredients locally from Keswick Creamery, and put the pudding in our CSA bags. Ever since then, Cool Beans has been moving more and more towards a cooperative approach with other CSAs, so we get to share the bounty of each farm. Eating local food needn’t be grim.
Your bag will be packed with care and love, but that’s the only specifics I’ve got for you. Well, that and ‘not too much chard.’