Saturday, June 30, 2012

Garlic Scapes Galore! ask....What ARE those funny little curlique green things?  Like something out of a veggie Dr. Seuss book. 
Garlic scapes!  Oh yes, garlic scapes! 
Garlic scapes (aka garlic snaps, garlic spears, garlic whistles), are the "seed" scape of a hardneck garlic.  I say "seed" scape in quotations because interesting enough garlic doesn't actually make true seed.  As in seed that you could cross with another garlic and make a new garlic.  No the "seed" scape of a hard-neck garlic, if you let it mature, will make tiny tiny little "bulbils."  Or essentially mini garlic cloves that if planted, will grow and make a bigger garlic clove the next year.  And then if you plant THAT, will make more of a regular size garlic bulb the following year.  Essentially, garlic only reproduces itself by cloning itself.  The ability to set "seed" was bred out of garlic 100s and 100s of years ago, and is actually something scientists are now trying to recreate as the problem with not having true seed is that it makes garlic more susceptible to disease wiping out entire lines, as there is no ability to breed resistance through crossing different varieties with garlic only clones itself. 
Anyways, I digress.  (Garlic is like that for me....).  Because we want to talk about garlic SCAPES today.  Why?  Because they are simply fan-freaking-tastic.
When people ask what they are like I always say, picture asparagus texture but garlicky flavor.  And you can pretty much do all the things you do with asparagus with garlic.  You can braise them.  You can grill them.  You can roast them.  You can pickle them (see below for Oystercatcher's awesome pickled garlic scapes recipe!).
You can also do things with garlic scapes you don't do with asparagus - like you can chop it up into a salad, you can season with it in place of garlic (figure it will be a bit milder), you can make garlic scape pesto! (yum!). 
Farmer Georgie muses "Ahem, yes., garlic scapes, garlic scapes, garlic scapes and so on...."
You can also do things like... smoke them.  SUPER trendy in the avant-garde organic farming world.  It is only properly done with VERY dirty hands, otherwise, the scape just doesn't taste right.  (just kidding people!). 

Wynter teething on garlic scapes.  She is 6 now and says she doesn't like garlic.  Yeah, right....
The other thing you can do with garlic scapes, and I think there might really be something to this one, is use them for teething rings!  Both my daughters had quite a fondness for garlic scape teething rings in their younger years.  And, with the proven anti-bacterial abilities of garlic, I think this one has real merit!

So, as you can see here.  The possibilities with garlic scapes are, well, endless!  And, lucky for you...we have all the garlic scapes you could possibly need.   Oh, gosh, about 300 or 400 lbs of them we would guess.  One scape, for every one of the approximately 30,000 hardneck garlic plants we planted.  Phew. 
So this weekend at market - pick up your garlic scapes!  They will be GREAT grilled with your 4th of July barbequing, btw....(garlic scapes on dogs, garlic scapes with steak, garlic scapes and smores....well maybe not that last one...).
And of course, we have plenty more veggies to go with the scapes, including....
From Willowood Farm:
* Mesclun bags
* Arugula bags
* Spinach bags
* Pea vine bags
* Head Lettuce (leaf types and super cute mini romaines! Bayview only)
* Fresh garlic (still curing so on the stalk)
* True new potatoes, mixed "red, white and blue" colors. (SO SO SO GOOD. OMG!)
* Japanese Salad "Hakurei" Turnips
* Carrots
* Fava Beans
* Walla Walla onions w/ greens
* Kale
* Chard
* Barn Floor Mix dry beans
* Rhubarb (Bayview only)
* Braising Greens bags (bayview only)
 Our friends from Prairie Bottom Farm are adding:
* Herbs
* Raab
For Bayview only Mikey from Whidbey Green Goods is bringing broccoli, peas, beets and some other goodies.  Blake over at Ebb Tide Farm is bringing some cilantro and other things as well.
So come see us at market!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm

Oystercatcher’s Quick Pickled Garlic Scapes
Courtesy of Joe Scott, Chef at Oystercatcher in Coupeville, WA
·      Garlic scapes, 1 lb, chopped into 1 inch pieces, or left whole with ends trimmed. (If left whole the scapes should be left to pickle for a week before use).
·      Champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
·      Rice Vinegar
·      Dash of salt
·      Sugar to taste
·      Pinch of whole fennel seed
You will need equal parts of the vinegar, how much depends on how much you are going to pickle.  Chop (or trim) scapes and pack clean mason jars.  Boil equal parts of both vinegars, add sugar and salt to taste.  Sugar should balance the acidity of the vinegar.  How sweet – versus tart – you make it is a personal preference depending on how you like your pickles.  When boiling, pour over scapes.  Add a pinch of whole fennel seed.  Seal lid.  These pickles are ready in 4 hours.  If you prefer to keep the scape whole (which gives you a very cool shape on a plate), you should plan to let the pickles sit for at least a week (or more) so they absorb the pickling juices.  By chopping the scapes you provide more surface area to absorb the pickling juices quickly.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Rain, shmain! It's market time!

Umbrellas?  We don't need no stinkin' umbrellas!
So...according to the WSU ag weather station set up on Ebey's Prairie, we got .78 inches of rain yesterday.  And looking at our gray gray skies, we will probably get more today!  That's quite a bit of rain for us in June, our typical average rainfall is 1.31 inches in June.  I would imagine we are already there for the month.
Rain?  We are coming to GET YOU!  Attack the rain!
So what do farmers do when it rains?  Grin and wear it! 
Yesterday the crew went out and got thoroughly soaked.  Why?  Well...because it was a work day and we had stuff that needed to get done.  Like picking for the farmer's market today!  And because I'm a contrary cuss, we picked like crazy yesterday.  We have, I think, the most and best selection of the year yet for today's market.  Of course, with more rain predicted today, many market vendors would scale down their offerings or, gasp, not even show up at the market at all.  Why?  Because traffic is severely reduced at markets when the weather is anything other than bright and sunny.  So this is where YOU COME IN.  You see, this is the thing about supporting local food.  It's not always convenient.  And it's not always easy.  And sometimes, just sometimes, we are all gonna have to get a little bit wet to get it.
So....the crew here at Willowood Farm will make you a deal.  We will go out and get ourselves completely soaking, dripping, squelching in the rubber boots wet to make sure we can bring food to market for you.  And you, we'll you've got to come out and get a bit wet (okay, you can bring an umbrella...) so you can buy it!  How's that?  Deal?  Awesome!
Now...I would like to talk about Baby Pac Choi.  Why?  Because we harvested about 200 lbs of this week.  So...we are going to have the GREAT BABY PAC CHOI SALE!  I.e....lots of baby pac choi fo a good good price.  But, first you ask.  So, what's the difference between Pac Choi and Bok Choy.  And, I could get spend a lot of time telling talking about that but instead I'll get to the point.  Absolutely nothing.  Slightly different pronunciations for the same veggie.  The result of English pronunciaiton/spelling of Asian words.  Kinda like you have Nanjing/Nanking and Beijing/Peking.  But what we care about is how they taste and that is, sublime!  They are tender, sweet and so very easy to prepare.   We have a bunch of recipes we will be bringing to the market for inspiration, so...we hope you are sufficiently inspired to buy a lot cuz well, we've got a lot to sell!
And, to go with your Baby Pac Choi on this drizzly but lovely day, we have quite a few other choices including:
* Mesclun Mix (spicy salad mix)
* Arugula
* Spinach
* Japanese turnips (red and white ones!)
* Garlic scapes
* Fresh Garlic
* Kohlrabi
* Walla Walla salad onions w/ greens
* Carrots! (first of the year!)
* Beet greens
* Chard
* Fava Beans
* Raab
* Mustard Greens
Our neighboring wet farmers at Prairie Bottom Farm are adding herb bunches and leeks to that list.  Mikey from Whidbey Green Goods is bringing (Bayview only) peas, beets, broccoli, cucumbers and hot-house tomatoes from Skagit Valley!  Blake at Ebb and Tide farm is sending over some daikon radishes.
Yep...we will have quite the selection!  So, please come see us at the Coupeville and Bayview farmer's markets today.  We will be there, rain or shine. Will you?
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fa-fa-fa-Fava Beans!

“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fa-fa-fava beans and a nice chianti.”
Hannibal Lector, “Silence of the Lambs"

Okay.  There.  I said it first.  Yep, we have fava beans at market today.  But no, we don't have any Chianti!  (although we highly recommend Whidbey Island's Live Edge Farm "Sill Hill Red" cab blend as a great local substitute.  They sell at the Bayview Farmer's Market!).  
Truly, if I had a dollar for every time I have heard that line when we have fava beans at the market well, I could pay off the big spring fertilizer bill I'm still working on!  But, you gotta give Hollywood credit for bringing attention to one of the world's most important historically and culturally legume that, in typical fashion of our Wonder Bread culture, the majority of American's have no clue about.
Growing fava's in the jet era. 
"Vicia Faba," aka Broad Bean, Horse Bean, Windsor Bean, Bell bean and Pigeon Bean, is one of the most ancient cultivated crops (originated around 6000 BC) and a diet staple in Asian, Middle Eastern, South African and European diets.  It is such a staple in Egyptian diets that it is the main ingredient of the Egyptian national dish "ful medames." It is so popular and has such a long history in certain cultures that men of Mediterranean descent are often prone to an allergey called "Favism" essentially triggered from generation upon generation of heavy munching of fava beans.
In Europe, in fact, the fava bean was the only legume consumed until the more common known bean species of North America were brought back across the oceans (along with other staples like the potato!). 
But heck, who is paying attention to all that? takes a big budget movie about a psycho cannibalistic killer to bring the fava bean to the attention of most Americans.  Sigh.  But whatever, I'll take it!
Because you see, Hannibal Lector was right.  Even if you don't pair it with liver pate from the census taker, fava beans are simply divine!  Especially when they are, as per this time of year, shelled and eaten at the "fresh" stage.  I.e., while the bean is still green and soft.  They have a earthy, yes somewhat "ancient" flavor reminiscent of peas and ancient alluvial plains and sweltering river deltas.  (okay, maybe taking a bit of poetic license there, but you catch my drift).
Along with being little known, the other thing about fava beans that has been the antithesis to American "I want it NOW" culture is that fava beans are the epitome of slow food.  Well, unless you can find them preshucked and preshelled and prepackaged (maybe Whole Foods?), but sorry, we don't do that at Willowood.  You are gonna have to, just a little bit, work for your favas.  Yep, you are going to have to shuck them AND THEN shell off the outside wrapper around each bean if you want to truly enjoy the bean that so enthralled American's most famous cannibal.
(Fava's once inspired one of my favorite customer "comments."  A friend, part of a busy, high-powered couple, who loved good food but were more used to eating it out then making it themselves.  After a few weeks of fava beans, the man commented/complained to me that while it was "quite a lot" of work, that he and his wife had found that sitting out on their porch looking at their lovely ocean view while they shucked fava beans made them feel like "real pioneer farmers."  I responded that well, that's nice, but you should probably first try tilling the soil, planting the beans, fertilizing, watering, weeding, harvesting and THEN shucking and shelling the beans all without running water and an outhouse toilet and living in a one-room sod cabin with 5 screaming kids before you consider yourself on par with a "real pioneer farmers.")
Shucking and shelling beans is a simple process really.  To shuck, you simple pull the string off of each pod and then use your thumbnail to slit open the pod and pop out the beans. Then, once they are all shucked you dunk the shelled beans into a pot of boiling water for oh, about 10 seconds.  That loosen up the outer skin on each individual bean.  Let them cool and then you slit each bean (a small paring knife works for this, but I just use my fingernail, nails are a good thing to have when preparing fava beans) and then squeeze the bean from the opposite side of the slit and the bright luxuriant green bean will pop out. Voila! 
Now, I really don't mind doing this.  I sit on my porch, or I (gasp) watch some tv, and it is a simple, relaxing mindless job.  Do it.  And don't complain.  After all people have been doing this literally since 6000 BC and you better bet they had a lot tougher lives than we do. 
Okay, so now that I have guilt-tripped you all into rushing to market today and buying a bunch of fava beans (hee-hee, the power of blogging!), here is what we will have at market along with our favas (and yes, we quite a nice list today!):
Willowood Farm
* Fava Beans (just in case you weren't paying attention)
* Walla Walla spring onions
* Kohlrabi
* Japanese "Hakurei" Salad Turnips
* Fresh Garlic on stalk
* Garlic scapes
* Mesclun (mildly spicy salad mix)
* Arugula
* Spinach
* Kale
* Chard
* Raab
* Beet Greens w/ baby beets
* Head Letuce (big red and green romaines this week!)
* Rhubarb (Bayview only)
* Pea Vines
* Baby Pac Choi
We will also have leeks and fresh herbs from Prairie Bottom Farm, grains from Georgina and Emmer/Farro from Ebey Road Farm, and Mikey from Whidbey Green Goods is bringing (Bayview only!) strawberries, carrots, cucumbers and eggplants from Skagit and Snohomish valleys.
So come see us at market!  Oh, and btw, here is a great fava bean spread recipe.  We highly recommend it spread on a crusty peasant type bread with some Little Brown Farm goat cheese chevre and a nice bottle of the Live Edge Farm Red Sill Hill cab blend!  Enjoy your "fa-fa-fa Fava Beans!"
See ya at market!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Fava Bean Spread

2 pounds fava beans (unshelled)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Prepare the fava beans by carefully removing the beans from the outer protective pod. The beans are covered in a second layer that is difficult to remove when they are raw.
In a large pot of boiling water, cook the beans for about 5 minutes. Rinse in cold water and let sit until they are cool enough to handle. The second layer of shell should be easy to remove at this point, and you are left with a shiny, bright green bean. (You will see at this point why you need two pounds of beans for a cup of spread!
Toss the beans in a saute pan with some olive oil, the garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until beans are very tender.
In a blender or food processor, puree beans until mostly smooth. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with pita chips or baguette rounds or a crusty peasant bread.


Saturday, June 9, 2012 the beans planted!

On the farm there are the ongoing, every day, every week tasks.  Like weeding.  And watering.  And planting another 2000 heads of lettuce (every about 3rd week).  And then there are the "big" yearly projects that I we do just once a year (generally) and I always breathe a sigh of relief when they are done and then cross my fingers that we did it right.
Dad planting on an Allis Chalmers G
Potato planting is one.  Garlic planting is another.  The third one we've been working on the last few weeks - that's getting the beans planted. 
This year we planted about 5 acres of beans.  That's about one more acre than last year and considering that last year about 1/3 of my bean planting essentially flooded out or greatly stressed the plants (reducing yields considerably) I'm hoping that when all said is done we will harvest 2x as many dry beans as last year!  Which would be good, since last October we've sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 2500 lbs of dry beans...and we are now sold out of everything except Rockwell's (which we only have because we are getting them from one of our Ebey's Prairie neighbors).
The tractor-mounted Planet Jr. planters we use to plant with.
That's a lot of dry beans!  The thing about growing dry beans is that we are still, even with 5 acres planted, doing them at such a small scale.  Dry beans are a crop that really needs some space to produce yields worth selling.  And the equipment to plant, grow, thresh and process it!  Truly, if I was at all reasonable, I would have given up on growing dry beans many years ago there are so many "little things" to doing them correctly to make them at all financially worth it.  Lucky for you, however, "perserverance (aka "stubborn")" is my middle name. 
Each year we continue to "dial in" our methods for growing and processing the beans.  We finally have a pretty good system for threshing and cleaning.   After several years of "adjustments" to our combine (and a few thousand dollars) and then a brilliant combination of a 100+ year old bean cleaner with an air blower and my mom's old treadmill (i.e. conveyor belt) for an actually working bean cleaner.  And this year we are adjusting some of our planting techniques.  Trying to plant denser in the same space which we hope will both give us more beans but also shade out weeds quicker and lessen the "weed presence" in the field.  Or at least, that's the idea.  We'll see how it all works in the end! 

The first field starting to germinate - not bad! 
And of course, since you are all wondering....yes we are at market today!  So get down there...We have:
* Head Lettuce
* Mesclun Mix
* Arugula
* Kale
* Baby Pac Choi
* Mustard bags
* Fresh Garlic
* Garlic scapes
* Walla onions w/ greens
* Scallions
And from Prairie Bottom we have chard and herbs and from Mikey at Whidbey Green Goods we've got (Bayview only!), carrots, beets and asparagus!  And Emmer and Rockwell Beans from Ebey Road Farm!
Hope to see you there...
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Wow! What big crops you have my dear....

Early Potatoes!  Looking Good!

Last chance TODAY to get your tickets for the Slow Food "Taste of Whidbey" event scheduled for tomorrow, June 3rd, at the Freeland Hall.  Featuring multiple chefs and farms!  We have tickets available at our booths at both the Coupeville and Bayview farmers markets.

So....I'm starting to get pretty nervous.  I can't help it, it's my "farmer superstition."  As in, things can't really be going THIS good????  Can they?????
Amazing crop of kale this year....4 kinds!
Well so far this spring, things are going well, really great.  And after multiple springs in a row with incredibly bad weather this spring has been a revelation!  Now I know we have had a few cooler, wetter days lately and some more forecasted going forward, but overall, we've had some really nice warm weather with just the right amount of precipitation over the last month.
The crew talking about irrigation in the tomato house
This is unlike last May which was so cold, so wet...we got almost 3 inches of rain in a two day period and I lost a lot of early crops that flooded out!  And yep, we had lots of rain earlier this year (February and April), even more than 2011 BUT....the difference this year is it stopped AND it warmed up.  Something it hasn't done for the last two seasons at least.
The difference shows.  My crops look phenomenal right now, the best I've ever seen them.  And our sales numbers, was hard to make any money when we didn't have much to sell!  Our sales right now are more than double over last years sales!  (kinda frightening).
And our crew this year is fantastic!  We've always had great crews but this year's crew is the bomb.  Hard-working, fun, great to be around.
So, you can see why I'm getting nervous?  Ha-ha.  Even though farmers our the worlds most eternal optimists I think we always tend to tempter that with a big dose of "if?"  But, I think for now, I'm just going to enjoy the ride and assume crops will continue to germinate, we will get the right amount of rain (enough but not too much), temperatures will be moderate and we won't have a 80 mph wind that blows over the greenhouses anytime soon...
Here's a few more photos from this years amazing spring crops...
Amish Speckled Baby Bibb Lettuce.

Three beds of beets w/ carrots under row cover

Peanut in the Peas!
And here's the list for today's markets.  Come see us at either Bayview or Coupeville!  Both markets run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
From Willowood:
* Head Lettuce
* Mesclun mix
* Spinach
* Arugula (Bayview only)
* Red and White Japanese Turnips
* Baby Collard Bags
* Kale bunches
* Peregion and Rockwell Beans
* Walla Walla Onions
* Scallion Bunches
* Rhubarb
* Fresh Garlic (on the stalk)
* Artichokes (Bayview only)
From Prairie Bottom Farm we have:
* Herbs
* Beets
* Chard bunches
* Limelight beans
From Georgina's Grains we have Barley, Kamut and Red Wheat whole, cracked and in flour form!
Mikey from Whidbey Green Goods will be at the market with Skagit Valley beef and some other veggie goodies.
Hope to see you at market!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie