Thursday, October 14, 2010

Are you a "locavore'? An update from Italy Hill Produce at Hunt Country Vineyards

From the desk (I mean fields) of Italy Hill Farm located at Hunt Country Vineyards.  Jonathan and Caroline Hunt (son and daughter-in-law of Art and Joyce Hunt) have recently helped expand the Hunt Farm to include produce.  We love reading their weekly updates and thought you might too...

"We had our first frost in the field Saturday night so this week has been focused on the clean up of our field of summer annuals. We use plastic mulch combined with drip irrigation with our heat loving crops such as basil, squash and tomatoes. All of the plastic is removed prior to winter. These rows have served as a mouse/vole superhighway all summer and both of our dogs really enjoy us exposing all of their tunnels and nests. Neither dog is an extremely good hunter but the odds were on their side yesterday. Of course, I let out an involuntary squeal every time a mouse runs over my foot that is highly amusing to Jon and the dogs.

Jon started spreading manure and aged compost in the upper field today. Unfortunately the tardiness of this email is due to Jon not learning his lesson about never overloading the manure spreader (he added this line in). When it is overloaded the unloading chain that runs along the bottom of the spreader breaks and he gets to unload all 130 bushels by hand. needless to say he spent the evening repairing the spreader and becoming more and more fragrant. We are getting our field ready for garlic planting, hopefully before the end of the month. We have planted as late as a warm week in December before with good results but both of us prefer not to risk it, especially as bending down that far at 9 months pregnant will be a considerably more difficult task than it is now!

Our greens are still growing beautifully in this cool, damp fall. I am still planting, now in anticipation of an early spring harvest. Both Spinach and Corn Salad, also known as Mache, overwinter very successfully with only a light covering of hay. I also noticed that we have some Miner's Lettuce that is a native green that was supposedly eaten during the gold rush to prevent scurvy. It has a lovely flavor and a nice fleshy crunch that is delicious in the early spring before much else is available in the garden. I love when edible plants reseed themselves, even if their location is somewhat of a challenge. Our Miner's Lettuce has filled in all the spaces between our third planting of Kale. For now, I am letting them live in harmony but the Miner's Lettuce has precedence if they start encroaching on each others territory."

Thanks very much,
Caroline and Jonathan (Hunt)

What we will have this week (longer descriptions, recipes and pricing follow):

Concord Grapes (no spray, limited quantity)
Galactic Carrots (limited quantity)
Hakurei Turnips (limited quantity)
Pac Choi
Rainbow Chard
Wild Garden Kale
Winter Squash

Concord Grapes - These are the grapes that edge our "greens garden". The plants are unsprayed due to their proximity to our field. They are intensely flavored and sweet. We will have a very small quantity of these for sale on Saturday as long as they're still tasty after the rain on Thursday and Friday.  $1.50/lb

Galactic Carrots- Sweet and multicolored. $3.00/bag

Garlic- We started growing garlic about 5 years ago with 4 heads from a good friend of mine, Katie Straight. Her parents had been growing it for around 30 years. We believe it's a type of German Porcelain but we just call it "Katie's Garlic". Very large cloves with a strong, spicy garlic flavor.  $1 a head, or $5.00 per pound for orders over 1 pound.

Hakurei Turnips- These are just beginning to size up so hopefully next week we'll have a reasonable amount to offer. This week we will have an extremely limited quantity. Very sweet, small white turnips. Delicious raw or braised in butter. The greens can be chopped and cooked.  $3.00/bag

Misticanza means "jumble" in Italian. My parents began calling the random blends of cultivated and "found" greens they would bring in from the field Misticanza a few years ago and the name stuck. In Italy the term is used for either a bawdy operetta or a blend of salad greens, mostly wild, including chicories, mustards, various herbs and the like. Our misticanza is made up of around 14 varieties of mustards, small kale, chard, arugula and a bit of Chenopodium album and Amaranthus retroflexus (lambsquarters and pigweed) for our wild component. Although some hardy souls could consider them salad greens, Jon and I prefer our version as a cooked green. There are two easy ways to cook these greens- if you prefer a stronger style of green, saute in olive oil with salt, garlic, chili pepper flakes or whatever else you prefer. For milder greens, blanch briefly (around 30 seconds) in boiling salted water. Drain then saute as above.  $2.00/bag

Bok Choy- also known as Pac Choi is a very popular green particularly in Southern China. Its name translates literally to "white vegetable", not a very exciting title for a delicious fall or spring green. Younger plants have green stems, which although it takes away from the descriptiveness of the name, we find more tender and flavorful. If you're a pickling sort, it can be used in place of Chinese Cabbage in Kimchi. The stems may be eaten raw, somewhat like celery but without the strings. My sister-in-law's friend loves to eat his Bok Choy raw, dipped in a peanut sauce. His peanut sauce consists of natural peanut butter with Siracha chili sauce (the bright red sauce in the squeeze bottle with the rooster) mixed in to taste. When we add it to stir fry, it is generally the last ingredient in the pot as it is best enjoyed lightly cooked. I spent some time looking for an exciting recipe for Bok Choy but pretty much all of the ones I found were variations on how we already cook it. Heat oil (peanut or vegetable). Add ginger or garlic if you like. Add and saute Bok Choy until nearly tender. Add soy sauce, oyster sauce or some other flavoring. Adjust seasoning. Enjoy. $2.00/bag

Rainbow Chard- Delicious and tender. The stems hold their many colors when sauteed. Especially delicious when sauteed with a bit of bacon. $2.00/bag.

Wild Garden Kale- A lovely blend of kale phenotypes from Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seeds. We like our kale young and tender. It will continue to become sweeter as our nights remain cool. It is so sweet and mild you could also make a raw kale salad from it.  $2.00 a bag.

Winter Squash- For small squash we have delicatas and sweet dumplings. The delicatas are extremely sweet and completely edible. I love these sliced and roasted. So does Mouse the wonder terrier. The Sweet dumplings are quite sweet and are very nice baked in halves or in slices. The skin is a bit tougher but still quite edible.

For the larger squash we will be bringing 2 varieties to the market- Galeux d'Eysines and Marina di Chioggia. Galeux d'Eysines is a French heirloom variety which has a smooth flesh that's wonderful for soup or pureed. Marina di Chioggia is an Italian heirloom whose name very roughly translates to "Sea Pumpkin of Chioggia". Still sweet, it has a deeper, more complex vegetal flavor than most other winter squashes. Used for soup or gnocchi. If you have a food mill I highly recommend cooking your squash with the seeds in and then running it through the food mill. This adds a nutty quality from the delicious seed oils and really enhances the flavor of the squash.

We'll also be bringing some Rouge Vif d'Etampes. These are reminiscent of Cinderella's carriage. Beautiful red sometimes streaked with orange. The flesh is not as sweet or complex as other types but it is used in France as a soup pumpkin as the flesh is very smooth and a bright color. The soup is then served in the shell of the pumpkin. They are also supposed to be delicious as a pie pumpkin. We generally use them as an ornamental and will sell them whole for probably 5-10 dollars a piece, depending on weight.  $0.50/lb for whole squash, small or large, $1.00/lb for sliced squash.

Looking for more "locavore" experiences in Finger Lakes Wine Country?  Explore our things to do database.

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