Thursday, December 10, 2009

Website management

For those of you trying to get to our website, we're undergoing some changes and it will be back up soon. We're trying to make it so you can buy our soaps and hot sauces through our website. In the meantime, you can always contact us at Thanks for your patience! We hope to be up and running again by the new year.

Enjoy the holidays and happy 2010!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New product comming soon.

Check out our new line of hot sauces, and become a fan on FB. We hope to soon have a way to sell these online, but for now you can just email us if you are interested.

Monday, November 23, 2009

First pumpkin

Thanks to the Morrows for giving Elliot his first pumpkin. He still likes to play with it.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Elliot has learned to help out around the house. This is good, considering most of the laundry is his now.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Great Kale and Winter Squash recipe

Here's something I dug up on the old www this week, Kale and Squash Risotto. It takes about a half a bunch of kale and a small winter squash. Kabocha, butternut or acorn would work well. Note: It could serve 4 as a main or 6 as a side, so you can halve the recipe if you want. And though Risotto is usually made with arborio rice, I would be tempted to try it with regular short grain white. Who can afford that arborio stuff anyway? Enjoy!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fall Share Week 6 (I think)

Apologies for not getting a newsletter in your bags today. My (Katherine's) computer was having issues and I couldn't write one. It seems to have been some sort of poltergeist rather than standard technical difficulties. Anyway, all is fixed now, so I thought I'd jump straight to the blog to tell you about this week's bag.

What's in it (*Full share only):

Salad mix (with baby lettuce, spinach, tat soi and arugula)
Hakurei turnips
Kabocha squash
Carmen sweet peppers
*Beets (baby size)
*Bok choi

What to do with it:

Most of these things are familiar to you all by now. The beets are new, and they seem to be a specific variety for tall greens, which is nice if you like beet greens, but you might not know how to use them. Since they are in the same family as spinach and chard, you can pretty much treat them the same way - steaming, stir-frying, gently sauteing. We've put spinach and chard on pizza before with excellent results. The beets themselves can be roasted or boiled, but roasting seems to allow for optimum sweetness while boiling lets some of the good stuff get away (in our humble opinions). You can peel beets before roasting, but you don't have to. Just drizzle some olive oil on, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or so. Use the fork test (piercing easily) to be sure.

The Carmen sweet peppers are still rolling in, red as can be. If you can't use them immediately, slice them and freeze them (no blanching required). We like them in everything lately, including salads and stir-fries and dirty rice. Since they're quite sweet, you can just eat them as a snack as well. Try it with your kids and see what they think. Elliot is rather a fan.

If you're into cole slaw, try a recipe substituting grated kohlrabi and turnips for the cabbage. If you have carrots handy, grate them, too. We are currently very enamored with the flavor of raw kohlrabi, though we've also had great success mashing it with potatoes and stir-frying it. It retains a nice crunch when cooked.

And, as it turns out (if you were paying attention last week), kale does make a nice frittata. Ours turned out to be a high ratio of greens (like almost a whole bunch of kale that we had to use) to about 6 eggs, and we didn't use any cheese, though you certainly could. Imagine what you could create with a little Swiss or Gorgonzola. Yummy. Anyway, we were able to get breakfast and lunch out of a one-pan meal, which is always a bonus.

I stretched some lentil soup last week by putting some mashed kabocha squash in it. It sounds crazy, but it was really good. Even though the flesh is sweet, it's okay to pair it with something savory. Experiment for yourselves and see what you think.

Hope to be back to paper next week. Enjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fall Share Week 1

Welcome to the first week of the Fall share! We’re very excited to bring you greens and root vegetables, as well as the end of the summer veggies. Okra, basil and peppers will be petering out soon, so enjoy them while you can. We’re sorry to say that the tomatoes are done. The last two years we’ve had them later into the fall, at least into October, but this was a very bad tomato season. A combination of wet weather and cool temperatures meant they never really had a chance. We’re lucky we got as many as we did.
As an added freakish-weather bonus, we haven’t had decent rain for about a month now, which means the moisture and coolness that would favor the greens has abandoned us. We’re irrigating when needed, but if the remnants of a hurricane happened to skirt by the Shenandoah Valley, it wouldn’t be the worst thing. We’re lamenting the lack of a decent summer this year, and hoping for better weather next year.

This Week (*full share only):

Carmen sweet peppers
*Bell Peppers
*Hungarian Hot Wax peppers
*Spaghetti Squash

What to do with it:

For those of you new to the CSA, this recipe bears repeating: Todd makes excellent potato fries by slicing potatoes into fry-size pieces (no peeling) and parboiling them for two to three minutes. Then he brushes them with olive oil and adds a little Old Bay spice and bakes them for thirty minutes at 375. He says if they’re not crispy at that point, he puts them under the broiler for a minute or two. But they’re easy to over-crisp, so be careful. The potatoes this week are a russet variety, so you can bake them, or even grill them, for delicious results.
People need more guidance with okra than anything else. You can steam it whole for 4-6 minutes and spritz it with a little lemon juice. You can fry it sliced, dusted with cornmeal (okra’s natural gooiness makes the cornmeal stick), in olive oil in a hot skillet. You can also make the stir-fry mélange that we frequently enjoy: sautéed onions, garlic, peppers, sliced okra, and whatever else you have handy (tomatoes, mushrooms, etc) and serve it over rice, quinoa or grits. We like to throw in an herb, like basil or parsley, when we have it. You can throw on some soy sauce or hot sauce, too.
The spaghetti squash is kind of a weirdo, but we promise you will love it. The easiest way to cook it is to slice it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, brush the cut side with olive oil, and place it cut-side-down on a baking dish. You can add a tiny bit of water to the dish if you want. Bake it at 350 until easily pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes (but the size of the squash varies – you can start checking with a fork at 20 minutes if you’re not sure). Once cooked, you scoop out the spaghetti-like strands and add some butter, salt and grated cheese (we like parmesan), or whatever else you want. You can actually treat it like spaghetti and add tomato sauce. It’s bland tasting like pasta, but with a more vegetable-like texture.
The radishes are mild enough to eat raw, as in salad, or you can stir-fry them. They’re small right now, but their taste is milder than it will be when they get larger. These red and white radishes are called French breakfast radishes. The classic red ones will be in a little later. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A message from Elliot


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Newsletter July 27

We had our best market of the season this past Saturday. We’re really starting to feel good about the Woodstock farmers’ market. It started out small, and when we joined, there were only five other vendors. This past weekend there were nine total. Now if we could just find a better location than Rite-Aid, which makes us set up in a very pedestrian-unfriendly way, we’d be set.
We found out that it’s okay to sell baked goods at the market even if you don’t have a commercial kitchen. This is a new development for Virginia, and we think it’s mainly based on a lack of food safety inspectors, but we’re not sure. So Katherine has been madly trying to come up with good market baking recipes this past week. She’s tried sourdough cookies (two versions) and chocolate chip muffins. The cookies are a bit too biscuit-like, but the muffins are good. It’s not like we could make a ton of money, but it’s always nice to have something else to sell.
For those of you who have Facebook accounts, we have a Passage Creek Farm fan site now. Todd started it last week, and we already have 12 fans! We’re pretty excited about that, since we’re pretty small potatoes. Speaking of potatoes, we’ll probably start digging them again this week to see if they’ve grown any. Hopefully the rain hasn’t turned them all to rot. We should have some nice russets, so you can be looking forward to that.

This Week (*full share only):

Squash and Zucchini
Yellow Onions
Cherry Tomatoes
Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers
*Jalapeno and Bell Peppers
*Okra (red and green – Christmas in July!)
*Red Onions
Herb Share: Red Rubin Basil

What to do with it:
Again, lots of cucumbers. Our version of cucumber soup last week included basil and jalapeno, and it was delicious. We also use lots of chopped up cuke for burritos, which we make about twice a week. Cukes are also really easy to pickle, and you can even cold-pickle them and bypass the canning stage. You can also add peppers to your pickle mix, as well as whole garlic cloves. A note on the peppers: The HHWs have just a little kick to them, but the jalapenos are HOT. A little goes a long way. If you’re scared, just put them in the freezer until you’re ready to use them. Peppers need no preparation to freeze, but once frozen, they are only good in cooked dishes.
Last night Todd made lasagna with grated squash, beaten eggs, LOTS of garlic, and chopped tomatoes. He used cheddar cheese, but you could use any cheese you prefer. He just mixed the first four ingredients, put cooked noodles down in a greased pan, layered the cheese, the squash mixture, more noodles, then repeated the layers and put a layer of bread crumbs on top. He baked it at 375˚F for 45 minutes. Sorry we can’t be more specific on amounts, but if you’ve made lasagna before you should probably be able to guess, or modify it to your tastes, pretty easily. (Todd never measures anything so it makes it hard for Katherine to type recipes.)
For those of you getting the full share, we’d be very interested to know your opinions on the red vs. green okra, as well as the yellow vs. red onions. We love to get feedback on what we’re growing and what tastes the best. The yellow onions have cured for a while, and the red onions are very fresh. So we’re guessing the red onions will have a stronger flavor.
The red basil is very similar to the green, but prettier. A fellow market vendor told us that she likes to steep it in apple cider vinegar and then use the vinegar for salad dressings and whatever else you normally use vinegar for. We tried it for our pasta salad and it was so delicious! Plus it turns a beautiful reddish purple.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Newsletter July 20

Wow, it’s cold outside! What a weird summer this has been. We’ve only had one or two days in the nineties, and the tomatoes are slow to ripen. But there are a few in the bags this week. And we have an abundance of cucumbers, so you’ll have to get creative this week. There’s a recipe for cucumber soup below.
Of course, one of those ninety-degree days happened last week, when our irrigation system was on the fritz. Our loyal supporter Janice had come out Thursday morning to help Katherine plant 800 or so heads of lettuce. The irrigation pump hadn’t been working since Tuesday, and Todd had been scrambling to get it up and running again, finally having to return it to Tractor Supply and get a new one. Then he had to move the whole rig to a better spot on our creek, one where the water didn’t have to go as high up the hill. But after we got the last head of lettuce in the ground, Todd got the pump hooked up and it worked. Phew! So, as you might have guessed, we should have lettuce again soon. We’ve never tried to grow it this late in the season, but seeing as Fort Valley is known as “the freezer” by some, we think we have a good shot at it.
In other news, we’ve started an Etsy shop for our soaps ( Etsy is a very cool online store where everything sold is made by hand or vintage (older than 20 years). You can really waste a lot of time fantasizing about how you’d spend your money there. We’re currently trying to purge the plastic from our home, since it’s full of scary chemicals that can impair child development, and Etsy has lots of handmade kids’ toys made of old-fashioned materials like wood and felt. So it’s worth checking out even if you aren’t interested in our delicious soaps (which we know you are).

This Week (*full share only):

Squash and Zucchini
Yellow Onions
Sweet Banana Peppers
*Mystery Green Peppers
*Cherry Tomatoes

What to do with it:

So the mystery green peppers are the large green ones. We thought they were hot ancho peppers, but we ate one last night and it was sweet. So, either we mixed up our seeds or plants, or our seed supplier did. But they’re pretty good anyway. Last night we had them with burritos and they were nice and crunchy. The sweet banana peppers have beautiful purple streaks in them. They’re good for frying, like for fajitas, or just eating raw in salad.
We’ve been hitting Barbara Kingsolver’s website ( pretty hard lately, since we’re both in love with that book. If you haven’t read it, you should. It will make you feel so good about being a CSA member! Anyway, we made her cucumber soup recipe this week, which is just cucumbers, plain yogurt, a little water, and some dill. If you don’t have dill, you could probably substitute basil or mint fairly successfully. Stick it all in the blender and chill before serving. We also made her zucchini chocolate chip cookies, which are really good. Check out her site for inspiration for what to do with all these summer veggies!
The tomatoes don’t need much explaining. The cherries are best just as a snack. We know few people who have the patience to eat them with anything else – they usually just go straight to your mouth. We are big fans of the tomato sandwich. Our version is bread, mayo, salt and pepper, and thick slabs of tomato. This is one meal that only works with a fresh, ripe tomato.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Newsletter July 13

Well, no more raccoons this week, and no more dead chickens (we think). We decided to order some more peeps to increase our egg supply, though they won’t be laying till the fall, probably. We’ll have to start culling some of the older chickens, too. That will be Todd’s project.
We’re happy to report that we have tomatoes to put in to the bags this week, though only in the full shares. Hopefully there will be plenty for all next week. The first crop of green beans was eaten very heavily by the bean beetles, and we’re hoping they’ve gotten their fill and will leave the next planting alone. It seems like they struck later in the season the last two years. Perhaps the rain gave them an early start. The sweet peppers are coming along, so they should be making appearances in the bags in the next few weeks.
In baby news, Elliot turned six months old on Sunday. He’s got the chubbiest legs ever, and is rolling over and getting close to sitting up. One of our neighbors had a walking chair they didn’t need any longer and gave to us, so his new favorite activity is rolling around the kitchen yelling at the top of his lungs. It’s delightful. He’s a total ham, and everyone at the farmers’ market adores him. It’s really nice because Todd and I have small families that mostly live far away, so Elliot has a local extended family and is constantly getting interaction with new people.

This Week (*full share only):

Squash and Zucchini
Yellow Onions
Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers
Herb share: parsley

What to do with it:

Here’s a really nice sauce you can make with the cucumbers. Just chop one up (or half of one) and mix it into some plain yogurt. You can add chopped mint if you have it. It’s great for pitas filled with lamb or spiced chickpeas. You can add chopped tomatoes as well. Our friends gave us an easy wheat tortilla recipe and if you make the rounds a little thicker, it makes an excellent flatbread for all occasions.
We stuffed zucchini the other night, and while we used the eight-ball kind, you could do it just as well with the regular zucchini, though it probably won’t take as long to cook. Large stuffed eight balls took about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. We scooped out the pulp, sautéed some onions and garlic, added the chopped pulp, and mixed all of that with some cooked quinoa (but you could use rice just as well). When it was almost fully baked, we added some grated parmesan to the top. We ought to have added some basil – we’ll have to try that next time.
Okra is a stumper of a vegetable. Most people hate it because it’s slimy. To avoid the slime, soak chopped okra in ice water before cooking it. You can then drain it, dust it with flour and cornmeal (you can skip this step, but it makes for a nice texture), and fry it in olive oil or butter. Add it to pasta sauce with your other veggies. Or you can try the zucchini-okra frittata on our website. You can also batter and fry whole okra pods. If you like pickles, try pickled okra. It’s surprisingly delicious.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

July 6 newsletter

We hope everyone had a great Fourth of July! We kept it mellow on the farm, and stayed home to celebrate Katherine’s stepfather’s 87th birthday. No fireworks, just some delicious grilled steak, zucchini and homemade sourdough baguettes.
We trapped two young raccoons last week using the Have-a-heart trap, and they were safely relocated into the George Washington National Forest about 10 miles away. It turns out raccoons are super cute and we’re very happy we didn’t have to shoot them. Hopefully they won’t find their ways back. We kept the trap set, but haven’t found any more, so we think that’s it. The chickens should now be safe, at least until the next threat rears its head!
Happily, tomatoes and peppers are on the way. We picked a few cherry tomatoes this week, but only about five, so not enough to put in the bags yet. And the regular tomatoes are turning colors. The hot peppers are in first, so be prepared to challenge your taste buds a little. (Though, as the almost-neuroscientist Katherine likes to remind everyone, capsaicin binds to pain receptors on the tongue, not taste receptors. There’s your fun fact for the week).

This Week (*full share only):

Squash and Zucchini
Baby Leeks (with tops cut off)
Yellow Onions
Green Beans
Herb Share: Mint

What to do with it:

So we’ve loaded up the bags with squash and zucchini this week. We hope you can handle it. If you cannot, you can very simply freeze the grated fruit. Just boil it or steam it for 2-3 minutes, dunk it in cold water, let it drain, then freeze it. You will be delighted when you pull it out in January. You could probably blanched chopped Swiss chard and freeze it as well, though we haven’t tried this. As usual, treat it like spinach and you should be okay.
Here’s what we want to try with leeks (but have not yet, so you might have to trust your own instincts here): Cut most of the tops off so the leeks are four or five inches long. Wrap them in a piece of foil with some butter, salt and pepper. Stick on the grill for a few minutes – maybe five or ten? They shouldn’t take too long since their small. You could also try some balsamic vinegar in the foil, or any other herbs you think would go well.
The potatoes are a mix of Yukon Gold and Kennebec, so they’re thin-skinned and great for roasting or mashing. You can also make leek and potato soup, and if you puree it at the end, you’ve got vichyssoise. It makes a lovely cold summer soup.
The green beans are just in, so we’re very excited. We like to simmer them for about two minutes so they’re not too mushy, then serve them with lots of butter and salt and pepper. The mint makes a delicious iced tea. If you’re not in the mood, just hang it upside down somewhere and it will dry until you’re ready to use it. Dried mint is more intense then fresh mint, so you need less of it for tea. You can also add it to lemonade, or make mojitos. Enjoy!

June 29 newsletter

We picked all our garlic this week, which is so satisfying since it’s been growing since October. We’ve been so patient, and now the patience continues as we let it cure in the greenhouse. We picked a few bulbs early to share, but the bulk of it won’t be ready for two weeks or so.
Unfortunately a lot of our greens have succumbed to the heat, and we’re waiting for the real summer goodies to arrive – tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. But they’re on their way! The cherry tomatoes should ripen in a week or two, and then we’ll have more than we know what to do with. Hmm…I wonder if you can make pasta sauce from cherries?
But luckily we’ve got tons of squash and zucchini and cukes right now, so we’re getting our first taste of summer. Again, there are endless things to do with these, and we’ve got tons of ideas on our website, so check it out. Mostly we just experiment, especially at this time of year when we have lots of one thing at a time. We know the CSA can be a challenge, so we appreciate you sticking with it!

This Week (*full share only):

Swiss Chard
Squash and Zucchini
Baby leeks
Yellow Onions*

What to do with it:

Hope you’re not getting sick of chard. We are continuously developing new ways to eat it, and we still love it, so we hope you do too. This week we’re going to experiment with a squash-zucchini-chard-lasagna. Feel free to experiment with your own. Our plan is to make enough to freeze one for the winter. Won’t it be nice to pull out come January!
We have yet to cook the onions or leeks ourselves, so we can’t provide specific inspiration for those. If you wanted to try the chard in a light soup, you could sauté some leeks in butter, add some stock of your choice even a simple chicken bouillon would do), and then throw in some chopped chard. A perfect light summer soup. You could even add some lentils or beans. The onions and leeks (one or the other, but not both) would be great in eggs as well. So would the squash and zucchini.
The kohlrabi is the very last of the bunch, so treat it with care. We really enjoyed it grated raw into pasta salad, but we also sliced it into stir fry and it was excellent. The cucumber is delicious on its own. We like to make a simple summer salad of sliced cuke, some white vinegar, a pinch of white sugar and some black pepper. Great with pizza.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

June 22 Newsletter

Well, supposedly we’ll have a week without rain, which will be delightful. Hopefully we can take advantage and finally get some serious mowing and mulching done. And the forecast is for mid-eighties, which is perfect weather for working outside. We have our fingers crossed.
Our summer crops are starting to pick up. We are harvesting squash and zucchini steadily at this point, though they are still small fruits. There are a few good-sized cucumbers on the vine, though they’re not ready to harvest yet. There are lots of green tomatoes, so if we start to get some consistently warm nights, they’ll ripen. We probably won’t be harvesting tomatoes until July, but maybe we’ll get some early cherries.
We’ve just started picking flowers as well, and should have quite a few to take to market in the next couple of weeks. We were worried about the zinnias after we had a late frost a few weeks ago, but they bounced back really nicely. We planted a few more in the greenhouse anyway, and we can put those out this week, hopefully. And the calendula, which is a new flower for us, is coming in nicely.

This Week (*full share only):
NOTE: contents may vary throughout the week

Lettuce Mix
Napa Cabbage
Swiss Chard
Purplette Onions
Squash and Zucchini
Garlic Scapes
Baby Leeks*

What to do with it:

Most of these veggies are familiar to those who participated in the Spring share, so apologies if any of this is redundant. The Napa cabbage is for cooking or eating raw. We just made a salad the other night with only Napa cabbage (no lettuce) and it was really good. But we also stir-fry it frequently with whatever else we have laying around (onions, garlic, mushrooms, squash, peas, etc).
We made a Swiss chard pizza last night that was like a white pizza (no tomato sauce). Our pizza dough was homemade, but you could use store bought as well. If anyone would like our dough recipe, you can email us. We sautéed onions, garlic, mushrooms and the chard, and then put some melted butter on the dough, layered mozzarella cheese, the sautéed mix, and then more mozzarella and parmesan. Then we baked it for 15 minutes or so. It was great. We’ve found that in general, you can substitute Swiss chard for spinach with excellent results.
Garlic scapes are the top of the garlic plant. The swollen part is a flower bud that would bloom if left on. By cutting this part off, the energy of the plant is redirected to enlarging the garlic bulb under the soil. But the scape is edible too, and has a strong garlic flavor. You don’t eat the flower bud part, just the stem. You just chop it up and put it in whatever you’d want to put garlic in – salad dressing, eggs, or sautés. It has a slightly tougher texture, though you can peel the outer layer if you want a softer texture.
Baby leeks are very mild members of the onion family. In general, when using leeks, we recommend avoiding garlic, since it will overshadow the leeks. They’re excellent additions to soups and stews, and go well with potatoes and other root vegetables. The best smell in the world comes from leeks sautéed in butter. You can also steam them and serve them with a Dijon vinaigrette dressing (just wing it – olive oil, red wine vinegar, a dollop of Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, maybe an herb that you have handy, like thyme).
Carrots are new for the bags, but should be pretty familiar to everyone. We mostly eat them raw in salad, though they sometimes make it into our stir-fries. They’re so good raw that you can just wash them and eat them. They pair well with the Napa cabbage.

June 15 Newletter (first of the summer share)

Welcome to Passage Creek Farm’s Summer CSA

This is the first week of our summer share, and welcome to all of you who are new customers. We hope you enjoy this exercise in seasonal eating! We’re happy to report that the rain has let up somewhat, enough that we were able to plant our basil and okra last week. Those were the last plants that needed to get out of the greenhouse, so now we’re on to weeding and mulching. Theoretically we would have been able to do more of the mulching by now, but the weather hasn’t cooperated. So we’ll be extra busy the next few weeks.
Harvesting will take up more of our time as well, since we are selling three days a week now (Saturday at the Woodstock Rite-Aid and Wednesday and Sunday at Fort Valley Nursery). Our spring crops are flagging, but our summer crops are coming in. We’ve probably reached the end of the snap peas, but we picked some baby squash yesterday and that means we’ll be deluged within two weeks. We’ve picked the scallions pretty heavily, but we’ve got actual onions and leeks on the way. The cucumbers are blooming, and we’ve got small tomatoes on the vine. We should be rolling in veggies pretty soon!

This Week (*full share only): NOTE: Contents may vary throughout the week

Romaine Lettuce
Napa Cabbage
Swiss Chard
Purplette Onions*
Baby squash and zucchini*
Herb share: purple basil (tastes very much like the green basil you’re used to)

What to do with it:
The little round zucchinis are called Eight Ball, and they taste just like the regular kind. We like to slice them into rounds and fry them (totally indulgent, but delicious). There are several squash and zucchini recipes on our website, including Todd’s Pasta Primavera and the Zucchini-Okra Frittata (you can omit the okra, since it’s not in your bag yet).
Romaine lettuce is the Caesar salad lettuce, and there’s a great Caesar dressing on our website. Swiss chard is our most favorite green. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s versatile, too. You can put chopped chard into soup, using a simple broth and maybe some white beans or lentils. Cooked greens are great additions to scrambled eggs and omelets as well. We love sautéed chard with onions, garlic, and mushrooms served over grits, quinoa or rice. If we’ve thought ahead enough to pull some kind of meat out of the freezer, we sometimes add sausage or ground turkey.
Kohlrabi is new for a lot of folks. It’s a brassica, meaning it’s related to broccoli and cabbage. You eat the bulb but not the greens, or at least we do. You can use the greens for soup stock, but they’re very strong and flavor and texture, so we usually just compost them. You don’t necessarily have to peel the bulbs, but if you eat it raw (as for crudités), you probably won’t want the skin on. If you’re stir-frying, the skin is fine to leave on. You can also grate the bulb into salad or coleslaw. If you’re making mashed potatoes, boil some kohlrabi to mash into the potatoes. Todd recently put some grated kohlrabi (raw) into a hot-style pasta salad, and it was delicious.
As for scallions and the purplette onions, they’re both mild, so you can put them in anything. Salad dressing, stir-fry, pasta, eggs, pretty much anything but dessert. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Spring CSA Newsletter - Last one!

Well, this is the last week of the spring share. Thanks to all of you who signed up; we hope you enjoyed it! It was a good experiment for us. We really pushed ourselves to have as much produce ready as we could in May, and it was very challenging. But every year we try to grow a little earlier and a little later so we can get closer to year-round food.
Speaking of which, we planted all our winter squash last week and we should have a TON of it come August. Winter squash is great because it stores so easily for so long. You can just keep it on your kitchen counter for months! We’re growing butternut, spaghetti, acorn, buttercup, and sugar pumpkins. We also got our muskmelons out this week (cantaloupes, for you non-botanical types). Historically, they’ve been our most delicious crop. We’re hoping for a better yield than last year, which was just cucurbit-unfriendly.
The rain continues to bog us down. It’s created a huge gully in our new field, washing away some of our peppers and squash plants. We’re not sure how to fix this problem, except to mulch, mulch, mulch. Of course, mulching is one of those things that’s hard to do when you’re getting 3 to 5 inches of rain a week. And having a 5 month old is fairly time-consuming, so things like mulching and weeding tend to fall by the wayside. Hopefully we’ll have a streak of rain-free weather (though not a long one, we hope) and we’ll be able to get some things done!

This Week:

2 heads lettuce (Butterhead and green leaf)
Snap peas
Napa Cabbage
Lemon Balm

What to do with it:

Napa cabbage is new this week. It’s a versatile green, good for eating raw or cooking. It’s very mild and makes a nice addition to salad. It’s also a great green for steaming or sautéing. Since it’s a brassica (related to broccoli, cabbage, etc.), it’s also super healthy. It’s what’s used to make kimchee (Korean sauerkraut) as well. We made some this week, following Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions recipe. Basically you shred a whole head of Napa cabbage, and add minced garlic and ginger. She calls for carrots, but we used kohlrabi instead (about a cup grated), since that’s what we had. You add a little hot pepper, a few tablespoons whey, and about a tablespoon of salt. Then pound the whole mix with a mallet till the juices flow. Stuff into a quart-sized mason jar and let ferment for 3 days. Ours is fermenting now, so we can’t report on the result yet. But it was certainly delicious before it went into the jar!
Lemon balm is our favorite herb, and we only do one thing with it (besides using it for soap). We make lemon balm iced tea. Just throw the whole bunch into a large stock pot filled with water, and let simmer for an hour or so. Or bring it to a boil and then turn it off and let it sit for an afternoon (it’s not an exact science, and we have to work around not being in the kitchen all day). Add honey or sugar to taste, and serve over ice. It’s so refreshing on a hot day. Plus, it’s a very calming herb.
We frankly don’t get very creative with the snap peas. They’re just so good raw. They would probably make an excellent addition to stir fry, if they were just steamed slightly. They would be terribly sad if overcooked, so be careful. One of our market customers had plans to mix hers with dill, which sounded intriguing. They add a delicious crunch to salads, and you can just slice them into bite-sized chunks. Enjoy!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Spring CSA Newsletter

We’ve been further delayed in our planting, since the rain just kept coming last week. But the stuff that’s out looks really good. The squash is blooming, the tomatoes and zinnias (mostly) bounced back from the hard frost we had, and the potato plants are looking lush. Todd was finally able to mow some yesterday, so we can walk around the yard without our knee-high boots now.
The raccoon (or another raccoon, who knows?) made another appearance this week, and had a squawking chicken in its clutches when Todd ran out to investigate. He chased the raccoon off and went looking for the chicken (in the dark, mind you). Luckily she was a white chicken, so he found her easily. She didn’t have a scratch on her, the feisty gal. So for those of you who have strong feelings about gun control, we are definitely feeling like we need a gun. We can’t just be throwing axes and cinderblocks at feral animals (our strategy thus far). We promise to only shoot things that attack the chickens (and rattlesnakes).
We start our first market at Fort Valley Nursery this Wednesday from 9 to 1, and we will also be setting up there on Sundays from 12 to 4. Next week (June 8 for the Monday shares and June 13 for the Saturday shares) is the last week of the Spring share. For those of you who have not signed up for Summer, we have spaces left, so please contact us soon if you are interested.

This Week:

2 heads lettuce (green leaf and Romaine)
Swiss Chard
Garlic Scapes

What to do with it:

Garlic scapes are the stem that grows out of the garlic plant and blooms. If garlic were left to its own devices, this is how it would reproduce. The bloom would produce seeds. The way garlic is reproduced by growers is by planting the cloves, which form bulbs. The scape is like a tougher, garlicky tasting scallion. You can chop it up and use it as you would garlic, though it has a milder flavor. The part between the cut end and the bloom (just a swelling in the stem at this point) is the part you want to use. It works in salad dressing, eggs, stir-fries, and pretty much anything else you can think of.
We made a new Swiss chard dish last night that was really good. We sautéed some onions in butter and olive oil, then added ground turkey, and once that was cooked, added chopped chard leaves. We served it over rice with some grated parmesan and a yogurt-cilantro sauce (which is exactly what it sounds like: a bunch of minced cilantro in a cup or so of yogurt, mixed by hand or by blender). It was delish. You could probably substitute or add the kale if you boil it briefly first.
We have an excellent Caesar salad recipe on our website. It was Katherine’s mom’s way of fixing it, and it’s just the best. That’s ideal for the Romaine lettuce. We’ve been adding radishes to everything: burritos, salad, stir-fry, whatever. They’re mild enough so they can be thrown into anything. We’re into cheddar-dill biscuits lately, and chances are you have a million biscuit recipes on your cookbook shelf so just take one and add a couple tablespoons of chopped dill and a ½ cup or so of grated cheddar. If you’re feeling really fancy, poach an egg to place atop each half of biscuit. That’s a deluxe Sunday breakfast.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Spring CSA Newsletter

Passage Creek Farm CSA

Last week is best described as a week of loss. We had a raccoon get into the chicken coop, and (luckily) kill only one chicken before Todd found it. Thanks to Elliot, in fact, for fussing Saturday evening and causing Todd to take him for a walk outside. Otherwise we could have lost a lot more birds. Raccoons will kill just for the fun of it. We also had a heavy frost Monday night, and although we were able to get most of our stuff covered, we didn’t have enough covers to protect everything. So it looks like we lost about a third of our zinnias and a quarter of our tomatoes. Fortunately we had not put out the basil yet, because we surely would have lost it all, even with covers. It is definitely our most sensitive crop.
Our experiment in hired help is over. Joe went back to Northern Virginia this week and we were able to get a lot done while he was here. We also had our good friend Janice came out to help for a couple of days, so we really got some good weeding and planting done. It’s so nice to be able to see the onions again!
Things are looking good in the garden overall. The peas are coming on, and should be ready for harvest in about a week. The lettuce looks good and hasn’t started bolting yet, despite the hot weather. And we were able to pick some kohlrabi this week for the bags. The squash has been in the ground for about a week, and will probably be blooming soon. And the beans are happily emerging from the soil. Basil, parsley, okra and melons are headed out to the field this week. We’ll be busy!

This Week:

Salad mix

What to do with it:

Escarole is the thing that looks like a head of lettuce. It is actually a thick-leaved member of the chicory family. Some folks like to eat it raw, but we prefer it cooked. It doesn’t cook down quite as fast as Swiss chard, but you can treat it pretty much the same way. There are several recipes on our website that call for such a green, including the Italian bean soup and the cooked greens salad.

Kohlrabi is a member of the brassica family, which includes kale and broccoli. The leaves are generally not eaten, though they make a fine addition to soup stock. You can taste them for yourself and decide if you want to cook them as you would kale. They have a stronger flavor than kale leaves, so some people are put off. The bulbs are the juicy part. They are starchy like a potato but have a flavor more kin to broccoli. They can be sliced up raw as for crudités, sautéed till just tender with butter and onions, grated into a slaw, or cubed and added to soups or stews. There’s a celeriac remoulade recipe on our website that would accept kohlrabi as a substitute for the celeriac.

The rest of the items have appeared before in the bags. We prefer the scallions raw, since they’re so mild tasting that you don’t have to be to afraid of them. Just chop them into salad dressing or into a stir-fry (but at the end, so they don’t turn to mush). In fact, the kohlrabi, escarole, scallions and cilantro would all fit together nicely in a stir-fry. You could chop the kohlrabi into bite-sized pieces first and simmer it for a few minutes before throwing it into the wok, or just cook it for a bit longer than the rest of the ingredients. Add some garlic and soy sauce and serve over rice.

If you ever have recipes to share with us, please do so. We’d love to have more to share on our website.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pictures of Elliot

Here are some recent photos. Sorry to be so delinquent in posting them, but it's getting busy around here!

Passage Creek Farm CSA - Week of May 18, 2009

NOTE: Previous CSA newsletters are posted below.

We had our first farmers’ market this weekend, and as May markets go, it was a big success for us. We were hoping it would be busier, but with Mayfest going on in Strasburg, we had some competition. But we made some money, sold some annuals and some greens, and did it all while managing a four-month-old baby. Elliot was a super trooper and charmed the market visitors thoroughly.
Our hired help worked out well last week. Joe helped us get our tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and zinnias planted, and some significant weeding done. We can now see our spinach and beets! The snap peas are beginning to come in, so they should be appearing in the bags soon. This week will present some challenges for us, mostly in the form of night temperatures in the 30s. It’s unusual for this late in May, so we thought we were in the clear, but we’re going to be scrambling to get everything covered today. What a fickle month!
We harvested some mustard greens for the bags this week, and as you can see they have some tiny holes in them. “How ugly!” you might say. But don’t, at least not until you know the flea beetle story. These little critters love the brassica family, which includes all mustard greens. Since we grow organically, we can either pay for (expensive) organic sprays that are still fairly toxic (Concern, for example, says it will harm fish, and we happen to have a lovely little creek nearby), or we can cover the crops with row covers. We opt for the latter, which has its own challenges, primarily that it is so windy here that it is hard to keep row covers on the crops. But we diligently do it every year and every year the row covers are all over the field after a hard wind. So, the flea beetles get to the greens. We hope you won’t hold a small cosmetic defect against these delicious greens. They are extremely healthy and make a quick meal.

This Week:

Two heads lettuce (green leaf, red leaf)
Mustard mix (mizuna, Savannah tendergreens, tat soi, arugula)
Basil (that’s right, basil, right smack in the middle of May!)

What to do with it:

So we thought you might still be a bit overwhelmed with lettuce from last week, so we only put in two heads this week. The red leaf is called Cherokee, and believe it or not, that’s as big as it gets. Small but tasty. The mustard greens are for stir-frying, steaming, or even eating raw. They’re all very mild, and they will cook down quickly, so only give them a couple minutes in the wok or frying pan. If you add onions and mushrooms, you have a very simple stir-fry. You can dress it up with coconut milk, some of the basil, or even shrimp or chicken. We like to add carrots when we have them. Todd will often add a scrambled egg or two, and sometimes a bit of peanut butter. If you want to eat the greens raw, we recommend blending some with the lettuce for a slightly spicy salad.
The radishes (and their greens) can also be added to the stir-fry (the greens will have a funny texture raw, but this will disappear with cooking). These radishes are also fairly mild. Todd says he wishes they were spicier, so for those of you who are afraid they might be too spicy, we hope you are pleasantly surprised. The dill is versatile – if you’re into baking, try some cheddar-dill biscuits or some savory bread. It’s an interesting addition to salad dressing, and also goes well with eggs. We like to make a lot of frittatas (there’s a zucchini-okra frittata on our website, but you can put anything in it you want), and we often add dill or basil, but usually not both at the same time.
(From May 11) Passage Creek Farm CSA

The rain seems to have backed off for the time being, which means we can get some planting done this week. Our tomatoes are huge and so ready to be planted. It’s like a little forest in the greenhouse. The evenings are a little cool right now, but we should be safely post-frost within days. We have our first market this Saturday, so we’re excited to unload some our bedding plants that have been crowding the greenhouse onto the general public. It will be nice to be able to walk around in there!
The field is already crowded with weeds. We’ve tackled the weeding of the strawberries, which are in their second year, and hopefully will be plentiful enough to make an appearance in the spring shares. The peas are growing above the weeds for the moment, but the lamb’s quarters are gaining fast. We can still see the spinach and beets, but just barely. This week also begins our first foray into paid labor, since Katherine’s step-nephew will be visiting for two weeks and helping us out. He will be intimately familiar with the hand hoe by the time he goes home. Hopefully we won’t turn him off totally to gardening.

This Week:

Three heads lettuce (green leaf, butterhead, red leaf)
Swiss Chard (baby sized, you can leave the stems)

What to do with it:

Cilantro is THE love-it-or-hate-it herb, and it unfortunately does not pair well with THE love-it-or-hate-it vegetable, okra (unless you know something we don’t). But we at PCF love cilantro, and wish it were easier to grow and make plentiful for the whole season. We make black bean burritos once a week, and cilantro is always a treat. When we’re feeling adventurous and we make Indian food, we put cilantro in that, too. It’s a nice addition to salad dressing in moderation. If you hate it, don’t worry, you probably won’t see much of it after this week.
There are a couple of recipes on our website worth checking out this week: the Italian Bean Soup is great with kale or chard, as is the Cooked Greens Salad. And here’s one we featured last year in the newsletter for Lentil Soup with Kale:
Simmer one cup red lentils or yellow split peas in two cups water, with one small onion, diced; one or two cloves garlic, diced; a chopped carrot (not peeled); a tsp curry powder and ½ tsp turmeric, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until lentils are soft and then puree or put through a food mill. Return to cooktop and add more water if the soup is too thick. Add a chopped hot pepper or some red pepper flakes, and season with more curry or S/P if needed. Meanwhile, start some rice to go with the soup. Strip some kale leaves off the ribs and chop coarsely. Rinse and add to the lentil soup. Continue to simmer until the rice is done, at which time the kale should be nice and tender. Check for seasoning. Serve soup over rice and garnish with yogurt and chutney.
Normally we would tell you to boil the kale before cooking, but this weeks leave are young and very tender, so don’t over cook them. For the recipe above, we’ve found it’s not necessary to boil the kale first even with more mature leaves. Chard takes almost no time at all to sauté, maybe 5 minutes. We personally feel that overcooked greens are devoid of flavor and nutritional value, but others like hard-cooked greens, so follow your bliss.
Hope this gets your mouth watering!
(From May 4) Welcome to Passage Creek Farm’s 2009 Spring CSA!

We’ve started our earliest harvest ever this year, and it’s a daunting experiment for us. The bags this week are a little lighter than we had hoped, but they will continue to grow each week. The season so far has been kind to us: we haven’t had a frost in weeks, and we’ve been getting plenty of rain. We only had to water once during that early heat spell.
The greenhouse is packed with veggies to plant. Tomatoes, squash, okra and peppers are just a few of the plants that are ready to go in the ground. And we’re betting we won’t get another frost this spring (of course, anything we plant right now will be covered – the weather’s turned on us before!). The kale, kohlrabi and peas are all looking good in the field, so those should be appearing in your bags soon.

This Week:

Salad Mix (green leaf, red leaf and butterhead lettuces)
Swiss Chard (baby sized, you can leave the stems)
Baby scallions

What to do with it:

Salad mix is easy – just toss with some oil and vinegar on and you’re all set. Freshly chopped oregano makes a lovely addition to salad dressing. If you’re otherwise at a loss as to what to do with oregano, just hang it upside-down in you kitchen. You’ll have dried oregano whenever you need it. To keep herbs fresh longer, we generally recommend cutting the ends and putting in a glass of water and storing in the fridge (except for basil – store at room temp). Swiss chard is delicious sautéed with garlic and olive oil. We like ours with grits and parmesan or quinoa. Mushrooms and onions go well with chard. Spinach cooks down fast, so we tend to eat it fresh with salad. But we’ve kept it separate from the salad mix for you I case you want to steam it or sauté it (like for chard). The scallions can go with anything above. Enjoy!

Note: We were forced to use Ziploc bags this week, since we couldn’t find our regular bags for packaging greens. If you can’t reuse these bags, we can, so you don’t have to throw them out. In fact, that’s generally true of all the bags we use. You can leave them for us at your regular pickup spot or drop them at market. Thanks!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Processing our first chicken

This video will show all the steps of how to clean and process a chicken. It is graphic, but we feel that there is a disconnect between people and food and wanted to show how to raise, clean and process your own food.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Onion Planting!

Super big thanks to Janice for coming out in the cold yesterday to help us plant onions and scallions. Leeks were still a bit small, so we'll let them chill (warm?) out in the greenhouse a while longer.

Elliot came out to the field with us, dressed in a super fleecy body suit, and lasted about 20 minutes before Dad took him back inside. So his first trip to the field wasn't a whopping success, but it was cold, so we understand.

In the next week or so we'll be direct seeding lettuce and greens. I am getting so hungry for real food!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Things are moving along

Yesterday was a super productive day on the farm. We got Elliot in his icoo stroller (thanks Auntie Nina and Uncle Devin!) and rolled him out to the greenhouse, where he actually took a little nap! Mom got half a flat of lettuce spotted (moved into bigger flats) before he woke up.

Todd meanwhile prepared the field for some direct seeded veggies. Ryanne and Jay helped us plant peas, spinach, carrots and beets. Once the weather turns reasonably warm again, they should all be coming up! Mmm...can't wait for fresh veggies.

Coming up: Planting spring brassicas, like arugula, mizuna, and other greens; getting Swiss chard, kale, and Napa cabbage out to the field; starting tomatoes in the greenhouse. It's like summer is just around the corner!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Spring is in the air... Well, sort of.

Our new greenhouse is almost up and running, and in the meantime, we've got a few things started in the old one (which is already getting cramped!). We've started onions, leeks and scallions, as well as lettuce and Swiss chard. This week we'll be starting spring brassicas (cabbage, kale, kohlrabi). Pretty soon we'll be working the soil and direct seeding peas, beets and spinach.

The chickens are responding nicely to the longer days. We've got tons of eggs now, and our fridge is getting full. For anyone interested, you know how to contact us. The chickens also seem to be enjoying their days more. They're back to their bothersome selves around the greenhouses, getting underfoot in the new one and trying to lay eggs in the old one. Buffy, shown above, has started trying to lay eggs in the barn as well, so we have to check there everyday so we don't miss any eggs.

We're also trying to figure out how to get stuff done with a newborn. Mostly we take turns working outside, although it's mostly Todd doing everything at the moment. Katherine's pretty much nursing constantly (Elliot has quite the appetite). But she's getting the hang of baby wearing (actually typing this with Elliot in the Moby wrap). Soon we'll have him going everywhere with us. It will definitely be an interesting adventure farming with a babe!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What real eggs should look like

Eggs should not all be uniform in size, shape, and color. Heck some of our eggs come out round or in the shape of a football. It makes me wonder what those giant so called "free range" chicken farms with names like Hidden Pastures or Sunny Meadows are doing to those chickens. We reuse old egg cartons and I just love to read the marketing schemes on the cartons, farm fresh eggs, hand gathered, free roaming, and my favorite, fresh eggs. Funny how corporations come up with a down on the farm, home grown marketing scheme and most people fall for it. I would love for one of these big companies to use the method we use on our farm, which is come on out and see where your food comes from. I think most people would be appalled if they saw where their food actually came from and how it was handled. Peanut butter anyone?

If you haven't seen this video, this is how our chickens live.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Saving the Environment one baby at a time

It's a lot more work but well worth it to us. We bought cloth diapers and cloth noodle and bum wipes. We also got these great drying racks which Ryanne and Jay got for us at a thrift store. I don't think most parents realize that the average baby will go through 2,500 diapers. That's a lot of plastic going into the landfills. To be honest, the cloth diapers are not that much work once you get the hang of it Using the drying racks, the cloth diapers and wipes will save us around $5,000 over the time before we can toilet train. The savings is great but leaving a small carbon footprint on the environment is the most important thing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chickens' first snow

As you will see the chickens don't like the snow very much. I guess I will have to build a overhang at the front of the coop so that they have an area that will stay dry when it snows. I guess I would not like to run around in the snow in my bare feet either burrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A home birth video by Ryanne and Jay

Ryanne and Jay were with us throughout our entire pregnancy and did this documentary on Home Birth.Here is a link to their web site where you can find the original video and other great stories on crazy things that happen in every day life.

Ryan and Jay

Click On Photo
Home Birth: DIY Labor and Delivery
QuickTime | Flash | iPod | Ogg
by: vPIP
Embed (copy & paste):

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's official

Well for all you non Obama people this is not the "official" copy.

Moments after birth

This is a video I took moments after Elliot was born. Crazy that I was together enough to film this.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New photos of Elliot

Now that things have calmed down a bit I have had a chance to upload some photos. Here is Elliot The day after his birth.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Look who's finally here...

I don't have the brain power to write to much so one of us will tell our home birth story once we get some sleep. Here is the little man himself.

Elliot Paul Mann
born 1/12/09
6:12 pm
Home birth

Big thanks to Peggy, Aimee, and Desiree we could not have done this without you. You will always be like family.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Back to some farm stuff

Here is the progress I have made on the greenhouse. I still need to put on the door, build shelves and set up the heater. This greenhouse is about 5 times the size of the one we were using last year and will be much easier to move around in when full. The season is fast approaching and it's hard to believe that we will be starting seeds in about 4 weeks.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bear Love

We we're using the baby's stuffed bear to practice how to put the baby in the car seat and just set the bear aside for a moment and this is what happened.
Little girl just showing some love to the bear.