Saturday, April 30, 2011

This one is for Mom

In case you haven't noticed, I tend to use this blog to write about whatever has been happening on the farm lately and then make a clever segway into whatever we would like you to come buy at the Farmer's Market (evil farmer!).
What happened this week is my mother almost died.  And well, she is not out of the woods yet although things do look much better than just a few days ago.  Thank God, Mother Earth, the great Buddha, Peter Pan or whatever it is that might have a say in these things - whoever or what you are.
And since this is what has been happening, I'd like to talk about it.  If for nothing else, than so I can tell my mother when I go back to the hospital this afternoon and this will really piss her off and she will be forced to get better so she can harass me into taking this blog posting down.  So there ya go Mom, you better get well!
What does my Mother almost dying have to do with my farm?'s about nutrition.  You see, I've been amazed watching the doctors work on my mother and the wonderful things they have been able to do for her.  But the reasons while she is there in the first place?  Well, I like to place the blame very simply on bad nutrition and our cultures inability to recognize this that DESPITE having the brains, the resources and werewithal to do so.
I know my mother sometimes blames herself for bad nutrition choices that led to multiple whammy of being overweight, adult-onset diabetes, clogged arteries, atrial fibrillation and probably then also leading to arthritis and joint pain.  But I think a lot of those nutrition choices were really not of her making.  They were societies.  And not of my grandmother's making either - despite the fact that my mother and her two brothers (who have an eerily similar litany of health issues) were raised on a diet of wonder bread, Chef Boyardee ravioli, bologna sandwiches and commercially canned veggies.
You see my grandmother was a product of the "modern housewife" movement of the 40s and 50s.  She was raised on a poor farm with 12 siblings.  She HATED it and wanted nothing more to never, ever, EVER be on a farm again.  It was dirty and stinky and icky.  (Yes, she was horrified to see me as a small girl wanting to do nothing more than to run, and leap, into large piles of dirt).
So when she married my grandfather, a railroad man, with a steady job, they got a nice suburban ranch style house in a nice suburb of Spokane, Wash and she threw away all the old antique furniture because she wanted everything to be "new and fresh."  She was industrious, she was neat, she was the quintessential mother and housewife who loved her children (and her grandchildren) with every ounce of her tiny, 110 lb self.  And she bought into the "new revolution" of feeding and nurturing your family lock, stock and barrel.  When my mother was born my grandmother was "lucky" to be able to get the newest and best in birthing medical techniques.  They knocked her out flat, ripped my mother out with forceps and then forced my grandmother to stay in bed for an entire week.  It it not surprising when she first got out of bed she immediately fainted.  It is surprising that she (and my mother) survived at all!
My mother remembers watching her mother prepare bottles (no breastfeeding!  Ick...Plus how do we know how much the baby is eating?) for her little brother Randy.  A concoction of powdered milk and corn syrup.  Yum, yum.  And deadly.  (I feel very lucky that when I was born my mother decided to breastfeed me despite society norms still being against it at the time.  But as my father said - "Baby cows drink cows milk.  Baby people should drink their mother's milk."  Rather obvious now isn't it?). 
I know if my grandmother knew now what the researchers are saying about the deadly effects of refined wheat, high fructose corn syrup, processed meats and food additives she would be horrified.  So I certainly don't blame her.  I blame our society.  I think we humans tend to go to "extremes."  I think my grandmother (and hence my mother) was simply caught up in the trend of the time to go to the "extreme" of embracing new science and technology.
Afterall we found out lots of great things. We sent a man to the moon!  We learned how to do open heart surgery (and boy, if that isn't an amazing thing!).  We found out we could use the technology to create bombs to grow amazing amounts of food with synthetic processed nitrogen and this will feed the world! (yet we still have rampant world starvation, hmmm....).  So everything new and scientific must be great! Right?  Wrong...
We need balance in life.  It has been simply amazing watching the wonders of Western medicine as they very literally, saved my mother's life Thursday morning and now are giving her a good fighting chance for survival.  I am eternally grateful for those leaps of education and science.
Yet for all those wonders we forgot how to eat simple, nutritious whole foods.  Foods that my grandmother was forced to eat simply because well, there wasn't any other choice when she was growing up.  Foods that would have, very likely, meant my mother never would have needed the help of these brilliant doctors in the first place.  Balance.
And with that, my clever segway into what we are bringing to market today because despite the fact that I have been the vanishing farmer since Wednesday wonderful staff and intern crew has held down the farm, fed and corralled the animals, done the picking and are now probably packed up and heading to both the Coupeville and Bayview farmer's markets today!  So coming today, to bring you perhaps a little bit of nutritional "balance" will be the following veggies grown with love on Ebey's Prairie:
From Willowood Farm:
* Spinach bags (two kinds!)
* Radishes (my mother's favorite!)
* Garlic Greens
* Baby Pac Choi - a lovely tender new crop.
* Collard bunches
* Kale bunches
* Chard bunches
* Nettles
* Dry beans
* Carrot bunches
* Braising greens bags
And probably some more wonderful things...
From our good friends and neighbors at Prairie Bottom Farm:
* Scallions
* Egyptian walking onions
* Chives
* More spinach
* Leeks (maybe)
* Loose carrots
* Beet bunches
* Dry beans
So we hope to see you there!  Love and good health to you all.
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Radically Radish!

Is there any more springlike veggie than the first cheerful bunches of radishes?  Shiny red and white packaged promises of all the veggies to come! It's better than Christmas!

Radishes are one of the earliest spring planted veggies we can bring to market and well today - we are bringing them IN FORCE to the Coupeville market (one more week til the first Bayview market on April 30th)!  And let us assure you, there is nothing quite as good as young, tender early spring radishes.  In fact, this farmer isn't even all that fond of radishes but I still love the early ones.  Especially the French Breakfast radish - a gorgeous elongated red with white pointy top radish.  Apparently so good, that the French even eat them for breakfast! 
In honor of our first lovely crop of tender spring radishes, we found this great recipe which really highlights the joys of crisp young radishes with butter and salt.  Oh heaven...

Spring Radishes with Flavored Butters and Salt
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living
  • 2.5 tablespoons whole fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter room temperature
  • 24 French Breakfast radishes trimmed
  1. Toast fennel seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking pan continuously, until aromatic, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder; grind until seeds are no longer coarse. Repeat with cumin seeds.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, stir ground fennel seeds into 1/2 cup coarse salt; transfer to a small serving bowl. Wipe out mixing bowl, then mix ground cumin seeds into 1/2 cup coarse salt; transfer to another small serving bowl. Wipe out mixing bowl, then stir paprika and cayenne pepper into 1/2 cup coarse salt; transfer to a third serving bowl.
  3. Arrange radishes on a serving platter. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup salt into another serving bowl. Transfer softened butter to a slightly larger bowl. Serve.

Along with radishes we have, of course, LOTS more veggies to be delighting you on this beautiful SUNNY AND WARM pre-Easter day.  So come on down and check out the offerings...
From Willowood Farm:
* Mesclun (this is a new crop planting and is amazingly tender and tasty)
* Baby Bibb Head Lettuce
* Collard bunches
* Chard bunches
* Braising greens mix
*Potato 2 lb bags
* Peregion and Black Coco dry beans
* Nettles (yes, we have recipes too!)
* Arugula
* Carrot bunches
* French Breakfast and Cherry Belle radish bunches

From our farmer friends and neighbors Prairie Bottom Farm:
* Leeks
* Carrots
* Walking Onions
* Beets
* Green Garlic
* Spinach
* Chives
* Rockwell Beans

In addition, there will be some special offerings on dry bean bags today - Rockwell and Peregion beans will be on sale!  So come on down for an extra special savings on our local dry bean selection!

Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie
P.S.  Thanks to all our loyal customers at the Coupeville market this past month.  We have set sales records EVERY SINGLE WEEK and are SO super excited about the huge demand for local food that is starting this year.  It is a fabulous, fabulous thing!  So as we say, you keep eating, we'll keep growing!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Beans and Greens!

Beans and greens (plus taters!) are pretty much the story these days at Willowood Farm as we wait for the ever-promised sunny weather and for the spring planted seeds to finally grow and do their thing.  Lucky for us (and you, we hope!), we have learned to best way to survive the winter and, even worse, the cold wet spring is to make sure to have lots of cold and dry stored veggies (like taters and dry beans), not to mention overwintered, cold hardy greens like kale and collards that come to life in the earliest and coldest of spring weather.
And the great thing about beans and greens is well, they go so well together!
Dry beans, as you may or may not know about Willowood, has been one of our endeavors for several years now.  We grow many specialty varieties that are rarely available to purchase except as seed stock for $15 to $20 a lb. Dry beans are not easy to grow in the Pacific Northwest.  Especially years like last one when it decided to rain for a month during the critical "curing and harvest" stage.  Eek.  Yet we have preserved and over the years, found varieties that do well in our cool, wet growing conditions.
One of our favorite varieties - Peregion Beans which we will be offering on special this week for $8 a lb, or two pounds for $15..
Peregion Beans - so pretty!

This particular variety is an heirloom variety found growing wild in a hedgerow in Oregon.  It is a uniquely beautiful bean, small and glossy with mocha colored swirls on a light tan base.  Plus, the "genome" of this seed produces about 30 percent beans that are a solid dark mocha.  Combined together, they are a beautiful melody of chocolate brown.   And Peregion Beans aren't just legume eye candy, this little bean also packs a great culinary punch in addition to keeping their lovely swirled mocha coloring when cooked.  They cook firm, but thin-skinned and tender with a nutty, slightly "wild" flavor that is a treat all to itself.  This bean just needs a touch of onions and garlic, a bit of salt and pepper to shine.
Unlike the recent "store" pinto beans my husband recently cooked up because "we shouldn't waste them," unearthed from our cupboard shelves.  I was shocked how incredibly bad they were.  Tasteless and stale.  Yuck.
But combine some simply cooked Peregion Beans with some quickly braised greens and a scoop of rice (or for a truly local meal, over a scoop of Ebey Road Farm Emmer Farro) and you have a simple, delicious and incredible nutritious meal. This is our simple recipe for Peregion Beans and greens...

Simple Beans and Greens
            The Beans
1 pound Peregion Beans, soaked overnight (or if you forget to do that, simply put them in a pot covered with a water, bring to a boil, them turn them off and let sit for 30 to 60 minutes.  Drain water and then start your recipes.) 
            2 small yellow onions
            4 to 5 cloves of garlic
2 to 4 cups of liquid stock (chicken or veggie) or water.
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine beans, chopped onion and garlic in stock pan.  Pour liquid over top so beans are covered 2x their depth.  Bring to a boil, once boiling lower to a simmer.  Cover and cook for approximately 2 to 3 hours, checking occasionally as you may need to add more water.  Once beans are tender, season with salt and pepper.

The Greens
2 bunches of kale, collards and/or chard
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic
½ cup water or vegetable stock

Wash greens and strip leaves from their stem.  Chop coarsely.  Put oil into large sauté pan and add garlic.  Cook for a few minutes til garlic begins to soften.  Add greens.  Cook for about 30 seconds then flip to other side.  Greens should be slightly wilted on all sides.  Turn down heat to medium low, add liquid, cover and let cook another 10 to 20 minutes until greens are tender.
Serve beans over rice (of Emmer Farro) with greens on the side. Makes enough to serve four. 
Beans at our spring farmer's market booth

 And of course, we have lots more wonderful veggie treats at the Coupeville Farmer's Market today including:
From Willowood Farm:
* Red Bordeaux Spinach
* Chard bunches
* Braising Green mix
* Baby Pac Choi
* Kale bunches
* Head Lettuce
* Baby Potato Bags
* Peregion and Black Coco Dry Beans
From our friends and neighbors at Prairie Bottom Farm:
* Leeks
* Egyptian Walking Onions
* Rhubarb
* Spinach
* Carrots
* Dry Beans - including Coupeville's famous Rockwell Beans
* Green garlic
* Chives
* Sara's famous pie

From Ebey Road Farm
* Emmer Farro

Hope to see you at market!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Friday, April 8, 2011

Finally! The sun!

Spring Garlic Fields
Sure was nice to see a bit of that golden orb we call the sun today.  A few (more) of my freckles even came out! 
It's definitely been a record wet March and early April, but I don't like to complain too much.  Afterall, it always seems like there is even more Mother Nature could dole out.  So I'm happy that while I have lots of wet fields and even some standing water, at least my whole farm isn't under a huge lake of water.  Like lots of farms have been experiencing in the Carnation-Duvall area.  And my farm hasn't been swept away by a huge wave out of the sea, like a lot of Japanese farmers recently experienced during the tsunami. 
Nope, I'll count my blessings.  And today was definitely one of those.  Despite the fact that the field I hoped to prep for planting was still too wet for tractor work, we still planted 800 lettuce starts, 750 row feet of peas, 400 row feet of lettuce mix and about 500 feet of radishes in another spot.  Plus picked a whole bunch of goodies for the Coupeville Farmer's Market tomorrow.  Which is a nice segway into:

Baby Pac Choi
From Willowood Farm:
* Baby Pac Choi. Super nice and tender out of one of our early greens hoop tunnels
* Arugula - Limited qty.  Come early if you want it!
* Braising Greens.  Loads and loads of this.  A super yummy mix of kales, collards and mustard greens.  Check out the recipe below.
* Nettles.  Yes, you read that right!  They are very tasty and super healthy.
* Garlic Greens.
* Spinach - Red and Green varieties.
* Pea Vines!  Fabulous in salads or lightly sauteed or steamed.
* Peregion Dry Beans
* Dry Bean seed packs - A selection of several of my dry bean varieties.  In seed packs and ready to grow yourself!
* Kale, Collard and Chard bunches.
* Baby Potato Bags

From Prairie Bottom Farm
* Leeks
* Scallions
* Egyptian Walking Onions
* Chives
* Rhubarb
* Rockwell, Calypso and Tiger Eye dry beans
* Hubbard Squash
* Carrots
* And Sara's famous pies!
And also Lauren will have her great Emmer Farro from Ebey Road farm at our market booth tomorrow.
So, we hope to see you tomorrow!
 Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie
P.S.  And a great recipe...

Collards, Kales or Braising Greens with Potatoes

2 bunches collard greens or a mixture of collards and kale
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 medium yellow- fleshed potatoes, scrubbed and coarsely diced
3 or 4 strips of bacon, cut into small pieces (optional)
2 tablespoons peanut or olive oil
1/2 olive, finely diced
2 plump garlic cloves, finely chopped
Good pinch red pepper flakes
Hot pepper sauce or vinegar for the table

Strip the collards leaves fro the stems and wash the greens.  Bring a few quarts of water to a boil.  Add salt and the greens, then simmer for 10 minutes.  Scoop them into a bowl.  Add the potatoes to the cooking water and simmer until tender, 7 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned.  Set it on paper towels to drain, discard the fat, wipe out the pan.

Return the pan to the heat, add oil.   When oil is hot, add onion.  Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.

Coarsely chop the cooked greens, then add them to the pan along with the garlic and pepper flakes.  Scoop some of the potato water in the pan as well so that everything cooks in the a little moisture, adding more water as needed.

When the potatoes are tender, scoop them out and add them to the greens.  Add the bacon, then toss everything together.  Taste for salt and season with pepper.  Keep everything distinct or mash the potatoes in the greens.  It's messy-looking this way but especially good  Season with pepper sauce and vinegar to taste.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

It's windy, it's wet....It must be the Opening Farmer's Market Day in Coupeville!

Well, it just wouldn't feel like opening day at the Coupeville Farmer's Market if we weren't soggy wet and windy to boot!  Ah, nothing like springtime in the Pacific Northwest!
(Sorry southenders, the first Bayview Market starts April 30th.  But we would love to see you at the Coupeville Market today...Just follow the signs!)
 But...despite the weather (or perhaps because of it - at least we aren't under snow like the East Coast!), we are bringing to market what I can confidently say is our BIGGEST AND BEST early spring selection yet.
Overwintered Collard Plant

We've been harvesting from those extra hardy plants that survived our cold and snowy winter (thank you kale, collards, arugula, rhubarb, leeks, carrots and garlic greens!) plus some extra tender yummy greens coming out of our hoophouses and plastic row tunnels which provide just enough extra "oomp" to get the job done.
Along with all the early food harvest, we've been SUPER busy at the farm getting ready for what is looking to be our biggest and best year ever.  We already have our entire crew here - five great interns Ben, Jen, Kate, Sabrina and Janiece plus former intern Kevin back to manage the fields and help guide the team and of course our right hand girl at the markets and in our packing shed, Lauren.  The enthusiasm, work ethic and brain power with this year's team is exciting!
Janiece, one of the 2011 crew.  Thinning carrots.

If Farmer Georgie can just keep up with them...
So expect to be seeing some great food this year - and lots of it!
And now, since I know what your really care about is it there is something on the market wagon today to inspire putting on the rubber galoshes and trudging on down to market, here is the list:
Coming to the Coupeville Farmer's Market TODAY! 
From the fields at Willowood:
    * Mesclun Greens
    * Arugula
    * Braising greens - A mix of kales, collards and mustard greens.
    * Kale bunches
    * Chard bunches
    * Mustard bunches
    * Collard bunches
    * Potato bags - 2 lb and a few 10 lb bags of overwintered taters
    * Garlic greens
    * Nettle bags!  (We took the sting, you take the glory...)
    * Peregion and Black Coco dry bean one pound bags
    * Seed packets for Rockwell, Peregion, Black Coco and Cannelini beans - Grow your own!

Meanwhile, our good friends and neighbors Wilbur and Julieanna at Prairie Bottom Farm are bringing the additional great veggies:
    * Red Bordeaux Spinach
    * Leeks
    * Egyptian Walking Onions
    * Scallions
    * Chives
    * Rhubarb
    * Sage
    * Rockwell, Tiger Eye and Calypso Beans
    * Squash
    * Onions
Now, is that an AWESOME list for the 2nd of April or what?  Hope to see you there!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie