California: Farming in a desert

Like many of you, in the colder winter months when our farm coffers start to run dry we head to the grocery store for our fresh produce. With the exception of kale which we have in our greenhouses, we go on a greens hunt, searching out head lettuce and spinach, and carrots amongst other offerings. Besides Lady Moon Farms in Florida, the shelves are overwhelmingly stocked with produce shipped in from California.

California, the sunshine state, the land of palm trees, surfers, and epic landscapes. What do your Pennsylvania farmers do in the winter? Follow the sun west of course, for a two week road trip from San Fran to San Diego. We embarked on a journey to see good friends, feel a bit of warm sunshine on our skin, and expose our 9-year old to a variety of landscapes from the coastal tide pools of the pacific coast, to the towering redwoods, to the otherworldly boulders and desert fauna of the Mojave. But no trip to California by two curious east coast farmers would be complete without a look at the epicenter of vegetable production in the United States. On our journey through the state we were awed by the scale of the farms and shocked by the unsustainability of a system of farming in a barren desert, where water is a precious and rapidly dwindling resource.

As we headed south from San Francisco we detoured inland through parts of the Salinas Valley. In Castroville, the “artichoke capital of the world”, we hopped out of the car to photograph the artichokes, only to leap back as a low flying helicopter aerial spraying buzzed overhead.

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Artichokes in Castroville, Ca.

Under the hazy sun, we observed endless acres of irrigation pipes, feeding fields and fields of brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and of course, artichokes. In the summer, the fields of Salinas Valley are full of salad greens, but this time of year they are mainly planted into strawberries as far as the eye can see, which will winter over into spring. The lettuce production moves south for the winter to Coachella Valley, the Imperial Valley and Yuma, Arizona.

Thousands of acres of almonds trees in the Central Valley.

Thousands of acres of almonds trees.

Midway through the trip we drove from a little town on the pacific coast north of LA, inland toward Joshua Tree, located east of San Diego, near Arizona. We passed south of Bakersfield through the Central Valley where 850,000 acres of almond trees grow, along with wine and table grapes, pistachios, and pomegranates. The farther inland we drone, the dryer and less green the landscape became. The soil was as sandy and barren as the desert we were approaching, the trees were dormant, the irrigation canals dry. Land that was once farmed in cotton has now been converted to orchards, the trees seen as easier to manage. However the lack of water is causing unprecedented problems. Many farmers are being paid by the acre not to farm, so the water they would normally use can flow west to the urban sprawl that is Los Angeles and its ever growing population.

Garlic in the Imperial Valley fed by a series of irrigation ditches and tubing.

Garlic in the Imperial Valley fed by a series of irrigation ditches and tubing.

After a few days exploring Joshua Tree we were back on the road, heading to San Diego through the Imperial Valley, the “wintertime salad bowl of America.” Here’s where it got interesting. Early settlers saw this valley as a land of fertile soil, lacking only in irrigation water to make the desert bloom. In 1905, torrential rainfall in the American Southwest caused the Colorado River to flood; including canals that had been built in the late 1800’s to irrigate the Imperial Valley. Since the valley is partially below sea level, the waters never fully receded, but collected in the eerily blue Salton Sea, the world’s only artificial inland sea. This sea serves as an important stop on the path of migratory birds, and also helped to create the micro climate favorable to year round agricultural production.

Irrigated spinach fields in the Imperial Valley.

Irrigated spinach fields in the Imperial Valley.

Under pressure the US government built the Hoover Dam to control the river and to protect the productive farmland that was seen as a respite from the dustbowls of the Midwest. After decades of construction, the dam allows the Colorado River to now provide consistent water flow to 40 million people and 4 million acres of farmland. After river silt is removed in giant basins, the water flows out in 3 major canals. One of these canals, the 80 mile All-American canal, flows to the Imperial Valley and then on to the Coachella Valley. Hundreds of millions of gallons of water through miles and miles of canals, ditches and irrigation tubing keep onions, lettuce, cauliflower, garlic, spinach, carrots, and more growing. Acres of dates, and truck after truck loaded with lemons flew by our car window. 80% of the nation’s winter produce is grown in the Imperial Valley and is all fed by the Colorado River. That is a staggering thought.

Acres and acres of head lettuce in the Imperial Valley.

Acres and acres of head lettuce in the Imperial Valley.

What’s happening as these canals and irrigation ditches run dry, the Salton Sea shrinks, and the water flow slows to a trickle or to nothing at all? There’s a race to the bottom as farmers dig deeper and deeper wells. There’s a 6 month to 1 year waiting list for wells to be drilled, wells that seek water at depths from 250 to 2500 feet deep. Deeper wells dry up neighboring wells at shallower depths, pitting neighboring farmer against neighboring farmer. In a matter of decades underground aquifers are being depleted that were created over thousands and thousands of years. For many farmers the cost to keep trees watered is higher than any profits, so they are pushing them out of the ground. Up north, in the Salinas valley the water problem also exists. There the water flows west from Yosemite, and snow melt. But the snow pack in the mountains is shrinking. As farms produce less, unemployment rises along with the prices. Everywhere you go there are signs to conserve water, and everywhere it is dry.

Cauliflower harvest in Imperial Valley.

Cauliflower harvest in Imperial Valley.

Tom and I were humbled to see food production on such a mass scale- it was a reminder to us of the value of our work, which is at its core, about feeding people. We were also invigorated to be a part of a local farm community charged with finding alternatives to the grossly unsustainable system that currently exists in California. You clearly cannot grow food in a desert forever. To depend on irrigation to that level, to continuously divert water from the Colorado River, is simply unsustainable. The current drought conditions in California only shine a light on a system that is at its heart unsustainable. As much as we may curse the downpours that are typical here in the summer, water is life giving. As if we didn’t need another reason to encourage local farming, our winter sojourn to California delivered one of the most glaring reminders we can offer.  We were also struck with a greater appreciation and sympathy for the challenges farmers face out west, and were given a stark visual reminder of exactly what it takes to bring that head of lettuce to a Whole Foods in Pennsylvania from the Imperial Valley of California.

Reminder: Register and pay in full for the Blooming Glen Farm CSA by February 1st to receive a discounted share price! Registration is on the home page of our website.

IMG_4995Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been growing together since 1996 and farming together since 2000. They started Blooming Glen Farm in 2006. Tricia is passionate about food, community, art and nature and the intersection of all four.

 

Posted in On The Farm

CSA Season Wrap-up, 2014

Today’s final CSA distribution marks 48 CSA harvests for the 2014 season. With the equivalent of 300 full shares per week, that’s a lot of produce for a lot of families. Over the season, a family picking up a full share of produce enjoyed 34 cucumbers, 30 pounds of potatoes and sweet potatoes, 8 melons, 13 winter squashes, 26 head of lettuce, 49 pounds of an assortment of tomatoes (not including the PYO cherry tomatoes) 17 weeks of garlic in its various forms, 13 weeks of pick-your-own flower bouquets and so much more!

11/11/14, CSA share #24

11/11/14, CSA share #24

Each season we try new crops and new varieties and this is the time of year when we start to evaluate what worked and what didn’t. Some clear successes this season were the popcorn, the long light pink eggplant (dancer), the little gem head lettuce and the kabocha winter squash. We were pleased with two of our bean varieties from certified organic seed- jade and easy pick. Both varieties were high yielding, flavorful, easy to pick and stayed slender and tender even as they matured. Sweet corn went better this season, as did broccoli. We were thrilled with out field heirloom tomato and cucumber yields, as well as winter squash, but felt the potatoes and sweet peppers suffered from various weather related events early in the season. 

Two different plantings of italian eggplant proved that wider plant spacing yields larger eggplant, which seems to be what everyone wants- better for your eggplant parm! Reaching way back in our memories to the spring, we had a great sugar snap pea and strawberry crop. Whether that was because of agreeable weather, good management, or a combo of both, we’re not sure, but we’ll take it!

Weeding next year's strawberry crop as the sun sets.

Weeding next year’s strawberry crop as the sun sets.

Some crops we dropped this season and didn’t miss terribly were okra and edamame. We are quadrupling our ginger seed purchase this winter now that we feel comfortable with the growing process, and we have high hopes of expanding our yields to be able to distribute at least a few weeks of ginger to the CSA. We continue to struggle with growing carrots- a very, very labor intensive crop for our farm, but we are not ready to give up on them yet. A big bummer was the basil crop this year. The lack of frozen pesto in my freezer speaks to the utter failure of this herb- despite growing a supposed mildew resistant variety, multiple plantings were decimated by powdery mildew. Ah well- you can’t win them all!

How does the farm crew celebrate the last harvest for the CSA ? Why with a game of croquet of course!

How does the farm crew celebrate the last harvest for the CSA ? Why with a game of croquet of course!

We hope that you enjoyed the chef demos this season. Next year we plan to try to have them later into the evening so the after work crowd can enjoy them too, as well as do better providing the recipes from the demos. Having a designated CSA distribution greeter and stocker (thanks Sandi!), was a wonderful addition, and we hope it helped make the pick-ups run more smoothly. Please feel free to provide us with any feedback or suggestions for next season- we are happy to do what we can to make the pick-up process a pleasant experience for everyone.

Of course the big news for us in 2014 was getting our organic certification this summer. This felt like a validation of the systems we have developed over the years for delegating, planning and record keeping. Overall because of these extensive sytems being in place, it felt like a rather painless process, one that will ultimately make us even stronger farmers.

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A big shout out to our farm crew this season as they cross the finish line here in the last week of the CSA. This was an exceptionally hard working and agreeable group that was a real pleasure to work with. This includes Corbin on the tractors, Katie in the greenhouse, all our enthusiastic volunteer washers, our part time crew in the distribution room, kitchen, fields and wash area and our farmers market staff, Mikaela who helps me with the website and posts delicious nutritious recipes, Linda and Kurt working behind the scenes to help us create reports from all our data, our super supportive parents and friends, Cathy at Rolling Harvest Food Rescue for helping us waste less and donate more, the incredibly hard working crew over at Zone 7 and all our market customers and CSA community. The list goes on and on!

Thanks so much to everyone that makes this farm function, and thank you to our community of eaters for giving us the opportunity to grow food for your families and for providing us with the means to do meaningful work.

tcheadshotPost and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been growing together since 1996 and farming together since 2000. They started Blooming Glen Farm in 2006. Tricia is passionate about food, community, art and nature and the intersection of all four.

Posted in On The Farm

Poppin’ corn

CSA share number 23 was this week, and the last week for half share “week A” folks. Next week is the final CSA distribution for everyone else. Re-registration info for returning members as well as Thanksgiving boxed share details have been emailed out. Please let us know if you did not receive that information. Registration for new members will open December 1st. Take advantage of an early registration discount and sign-up by Feb. 1st.

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This week in the share is Blooming Glen Farm popcorn! Our crew has been hard at work removing the kernels from the cob for you. Crew member Justin was determined to find an easier, blister-free way to shell the corn. Thanks to the plans for a hand-held tool found on Mother Earth News, things went a little smoother, and relatively quickly.  

At our house we use an air popper to pop our corn. But you can just as easily make it on the stovetop, electric or gas, which I experimented with for the following recipe. I’m happy to say I did not burn it, and there were only a few unpopped kernels at the end.

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Ingredients
1 Tablespoon coconut oil (I assume canola will work just as well.)
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
sea salt to taste
yield: about 9 cups popcorn

Melt the coconut oil in large pot over medium-high heat. (A heavy botom Dutch oven is preferrable but my regular 4 quart stainless worked fine- you just want a pot that has a fitted lid.) Add 3 kernels of corn and cover and cook until all 3 kernels pop.

Take the three kernels out of the pot. Add the rest of the popcorn kernels. Cover and take the pot off of the heat. Wait 30 seconds.

Put the pot back on the heat. Cook, shaking the pot occasionally. After about 2 minutes, and the popping has slowed down, remove from heat and take the lid off of the pot.  Pour it into a bowl and add your toppings. I just added sea salt to taste, which is a great complement to the mild coconut flavor imparted by the oil. You of course can add your favorite toppings, be it salt and butter, or try nutritional yeast and savory herbs like rosemary, or go for sweet with cinnamon and honey or sugar. At the harvest fest Kristin did a wonderful seasoning of dark cacao powder and cayenne pepper that was delicious.

11/4/14, share #23

11/4/14, share #23

tcheadshotPost and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been growing together since 1996 and farming together since 2000. They started Blooming Glen Farm in 2006. Tricia is passionate about food, community, art and nature and the intersection of all four.

Posted in Weekly Share Tagged

Frost sweetens fall crops

A sparkling haze of frost blanketed the fields this morning. The crew arrived bundled in warm gear, but had to busy themselves with other tasks, waiting to harvest once the sun rose high enough to burn the ice off the ground.

10/30/14, share #22

10/30/14, share #22

Though the growing season is starting to wind down, the hardy greens and the roots still in the field all start to get sweeter as the weather dips. Crops in the cabbage family (Brassicaceae), as well as beets and chard, are known for growing well in cold temps and for being frost-tolerant. The cabbage family includes cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, kohlrabi, radishes, and brussels sprouts. Being hit by a blast of cold makes these crops convert their stored starches to sugar. This acts as a sort of anti-freeze, and explains why you can still enjoy these hardy varieties fresh-picked from local farms well into the winter. Most striking, typically bitter tasting kale will continue to sweeten as the temperature drops- another reason to shop local, and an advantage we have over those warm-weather imports from California.

Keep an eye on your emails as we will be sending out the link to re-register for the 2015 season in the next few days. Returning members will have an extra month to register before we go live to the public. To celebrate our 10th growing season, 2015, (that’s right- 10 years!), we will be offering an early registration discount. Register by Febuary 1st to take advantage of this amazing offer!

We also have some exciting new CSA member referral incentives. Refer a new member to Blooming Glen farm CSA and as long as you’re both registered for 2015, you will receive a $20 coupon you can use next season toward bulk crop offerings (like plum tomatoes and slicing cucumbers), or you could use at our farmers market stand, or toward farm swag like a t-shirt or cookbook. And the new member you refer will receive a free cookbook on their first pick-up. Not a bad deal! Just make sure the new member puts your name down as a referral on their online registration form. Now get out there and tell your friends how awesome BGF is, and let’s make year 10 the best season yet!

tcheadshotPost by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Photo by Meghan Clymer. Tricia and her husband Tom have been growing together since 1996 and farming together since 2000. They started Blooming Glen Farm in 2006. Tricia is passionate about food, community, art and nature and the intersection of all four.

Posted in On The Farm

Award Winning Pie Recipes 2014

Blooming Glen Farm’s 5th annual pie bake-off contest dished up some real winners- namely the 100 plus people who got the chance to taste the 14 delicious pie entries. Whether your taste ran to classics like apple and blueberry, or standards with a twist like peach cranberry, honey bourbon pecan, or sweet potato with ginger whip cream, or you prefer fridge pies like chocolate mousse with salty peanut caramel or blueberry dream, or maybe you like to be adventurous with the more unusual banoffi pie or spicy mexican hot chocolate, there was something for everyone.

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Our judging panel went ahead of the eager crowds and evaluated the pies on taste, appearance, crust and texture and awarded their top three choices (actually top four, since they had a tie for third). Our first judge was Susan Kahn from Bucks County Cookie Co. Susan’s cookies and delectables are a Wrightstown farmers market favorite. Susan will be opening a brick and mortar bakery in just a few months in Doylestown behind Cross Keys Diner, so keep an eye out! New to the judge panel this year was Rosemary Vaerth, a graduate of the Art Institute of Philadelphia Baking and Pastry program, and a veteran of the gluten-free and vegan baking scene in southeastern PA. Lastly, Farmer Tom’s father, also Tom Murtha and affectionately referred to as Pop, came back to judge for a second year, contributing his expertise from over 80 years of pie eating enjoyment.

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Apple Pie
by Angelina and Adrian Arias with the help of their dad, Angel Arias
Judges Vote: First Place

Angel Arias- “I was a professional chef for over 11 years, but never much of a baker. Usually my wife is the baker at home. I now just enjoy making culinary creations for my family and friends, but most of all for my kids! My daughter Angelina (7) and son Adrian (4) help their mother each week to pick up the vegetables at the farm. Angelina who is starting to have a passion for all things organic and farm related, was super excited about the Harvest Fest, and even more so that there was going to be a pie contest. She told her brother about it and they both asked me to help make a pie to enter -since their Mommy was out town for the weekend.

So we went to the local orchard to pick our apples and made 2 pies on Saturday. The kids were so serious about it –that when their friends came knocking on the door for them to play, they sent them away on their very own, and went right back to working on the pies-very dedicated little chefs –if I must say so myself!”

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Judges Vote winners, Julie Thomas, Lexi Berko, Bernadette Rodrigo, and Adrian and Angelina Arias.

“When I asked them what their favorite part was when making the pie- ‘My favorite part was putting decorations on the top crust!’ said Angelina. ‘My favorite part was slicing the apples with the apple slicer!’ said Adrian.”

“I also asked them how they felt when they announced that they were the winners. ‘I feeled weird and fast because I was running!’  – Adrian. ‘I felt weird, excited, nervous, surprised and shy all at the same time. I felt wowed-out!’ -Angelina.”

Pie Crust Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup Lard
1 egg
1 teaspoon white vinegar
5 tablespoons water

In large bowl combine flour, salt, and sugar- mix it well, add lard cutting it until mixture resembles cornmeal. In a small container mix egg, vinegar, and water. Add it to flour mixture, stirring it with a fork. Cut dough in half, make 2 balls and wrap them with plastic wrap. Keep in the refrigerator while making pie.

Pie Filling Ingredients
8 apples peeled and sliced (I used Empire apples)
½ c. granulated sugar
½ c. brown sugar
zest of 1 lemon chopped fine
juice of 1 lemon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
½ c. coconut oil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ c. water

In a large bowl combine apples, white and brown sugar, lemon zest and juice, nutmeg and cinnamon.

In a small sauce pan heat coconut oil at medium temperature- once oil is completely melted, whisk in flour to make a paste then add water, mix it well and add it to apple mixture.

Roll out one of the pie crusts put it on the pie dish. Add apple mixture. Roll out second crust cover pie.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes and then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake it for an additional 35 to 40 min.

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Honey Ginger Peach Pie
by Lexi Berko
Judges Vote: Second Place

Lexi Berko- “I chose to bake this particular pie with ingredients that were very local, both the ginger and honey coming directly from Blooming Glen Farm. My partner and I are the resident beekeepers at BGF and with a surplus of both ginger and honey, I thought they would make a perfect pie pair. This pie was a hit among the yellow jackets and judges buzzing about the pie tasting table and it made me very thankful for the endless labor put forth by our honeybees! (And they inspired my beecomb design of the top crust.)”

Pie Filling Ingredients
5 large, ripe peaches or 7 medium (or 5 to 6 cups of frozen sliced peaches)
1 cup wildflower honey
3 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger 
juice of half a lemon (about one tablespoon)
big pinch of powdered ginger
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of salt
Frozen Pillsbury pie crust

Combine honey and fresh chopped ginger in a small saucepan and heat on low for 20 minutes. While the honey is warming up, pit, peel, and slice the peaches so they’re about 1/4 inch thick. Put the slices in a large bowl and squeeze the lemon over them. Add the powdered ginger, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, and salt. Pour the heated honey and fresh ginger over all. Mix gently until the honey and spices are evenly distributed, then taste and adjust sweet, spice, and lemon as needed.

Roll out the top crust. Retrieve the bottom crust from the refrigerator. Pour the filling into your bottom crust. If there is too much liquid to fit in the pan with the peaches, fill the pan not quite to the rim with juice and set the rest of it aside. Smooth the filling into a mound with your hands. Place the top crust over the filling. Trim off any excess dough and fold an upstanding ridge. Cut large steam vents. Bake on 425 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes until the crust is blistered and blond. Rotate the pie 180 degrees to assure even baking, then lower the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for another 50 to 60 minutes until the crust is golden and the juices start to bubble slowly at the edge — possibly longer if you’ve used frozen fruit. Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before serving.

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Lemon Blueberry Meringue
by Bernadette Rodrigo (last year’s grand champ in both categories for her Cherry Pistachio Pie and 2012 second place winner with her Almond Pear Pie with a Raspberry Glaze)
Judges Vote: Third place, tie
People’s Choice: Third place

Bernadette Rodrigo- “This pie was inspired by our recent trip to Maine. Lemon seemed like a natural complement to the sweetness of the berries and the meringue adds the wow factor.”

Pie Crust Ingredients (makes 2)
2 ½ cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
½ pound butter cubed (2 sticks)
3 egg yolks
¼ cup ice cold water

Mix flour and sugar in a large bowl. Cut in butter to resemble coarse meal (pea size pieces). In a small bowl beat egg yolks and add water. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with a fork until evenly distributed. Dough will be crumbly. Turn out onto counter and press the dough to form a ball, then divide in 2 and form 2 discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Pie Filling Ingredients
3 cups of blueberries (wild Maine berries, available frozen in markets)
¼ cup flour
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix first 3 ingredients in a bowl then spread evenly in raw pie shell. Break the butter into small pieces and sprinkle over berries.

Roll out one pie crust and prepare pie pan. Bake until fruit bubbles in the middle, about 45 minutes.

While pie bakes mix one 15 ounce can of condensed milk with ½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice. Reserve in refrigerator.

Meringue Ingredients
5 egg whites
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
3 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt

Beat eggs until frothy. Add next two ingredients. Continue to beat adding sugar a little at a time. Stop when stiff peaks form.

When pie is baked and cool, spread reserved lemon mixture over the top. Cover entire pie with meringue and bake at 375 degrees about 10 minutes or until browned. Best served cold.

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Banoffi Pie
by Julia Thomas
Judges Vote: Third Place, tie

Julia Thomas- “I love baking at home, particularly in my big red Aga stove that stays on all the time in the winter…typical British farmhouse! I’m a bit of a freestyler when it comes to cooking and I love it when I pull ingredients together from my fridge/ freezer and cupboards to create something new and exciting. That’s why I love Blooming Glen farm so much… you never know what you will get and what will inspire you.

However, one recipe I always follow exactly is Banoffi pie! It  is hugely popular in the UK, but often varies on its base and the ingredients. I was lucky enough to learn this recipe over 25 years ago from the original creator, as I worked with him at the Hungry Monk restaurant and this version is by far my favorite.”

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry Ingredients
(
Bakers Note: my recipe below makes enough for 2. You can leave out sugar for regular pastry and add more flour + a tablespoon of iced water)
350g plain flour
120g powdered sugar
250g butter
1 tablespoon crisco
Pinch of salt
1 egg
Egg white for glazing

In food processor whizz together flour, salt and sugar for a few seconds and then add in the butter and crisco in small pieces. Crack in the 1 whole egg and pulse till it makes a ball. Wrap in plastic and put in freezer to rest for about 20 mins or in the fridge for about 45mins. Roll out on a floured surface and line your pie tins, trim off excess dough. Prick with a fork on bottom of pastry case to make air hole. Chill in fridge again for 10 mins. Line with parchment paper and dried beans or ceramic baking beans  to weigh it down and cook at 350F for about 20 mins. Remove parchment paper and brush pastry with egg white. This seals it and stops you getting soggy pie. Return to oven for 5 mins.  

Pie Filling Ingredients
1 tin condensed milk – previously boiled for 3 hrs (covered in water unopened)  – you can do several tins at once and then keep in your pantry indefinitely. Be careful not to boil dry as they will explode and not to open the cans when hot either – you will get burned! This makes a delicious toffee filling, you can keep it as a standby and then make this dessert in a hurry or emergency.
5 Bananas
1 pint whipping cream
1 teaspoon instant coffee  – crush to powder
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/4  teaspoon cocoa powder

Whip the the cream with the instant coffee and powdered sugar until thick and smooth.

Spread the toffee over the base. (You can use the back of a spoon dipped in hot water to help spread it or warm the toffee a little first. Cool off once spread in fridge if necessary, so cream won’t melt.

Peel and then cut in half lengthwise the bananas and lay them on the toffee. 

Finally spoon and spread the cream over the top and sprinkle over the cocoa powder from about 14″ high so that it is a nice fine covering.

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Chocolate Caramel Pecan Pie
by Josie Gilmore
People’s Choice: First Place

Josie Gilmore: “I’m currently a junior at Council Rock High School North and my favorite subject is chemistry. I have never made a pie before, but I have taken some cooking/baking classes and worked at my mom’s cooking camps every summer since I was 9. I chose to make a chocolate caramel pecan pie because I really love pecan pie and wanted to incorporate some more delicious flavors into the recipe. I’m really excited to have won this contest and I can’t wait to try and defend my title next year!”

Prepare your favorite crust for a 9-in pie pan

Pie Filling Ingredients
2 large eggs
2/3 cups sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
4 teaspoons unsalted butter
¾ teaspoons vanilla extract
23 caramel squares
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon butter, unsalted
¼ cup semisweet chocolate chunks
1 cup pecans, chopped small
more pecan halves for decoration on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out pie dough onto a lightly floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick. Wrap dough around rolling pin and place onto center of pie pan (I used a disposable aluminum pan). Press dough up sides and trim extra dough around edges, flute edges.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, corn syrup, 4 teaspoons melted butter, and vanilla, set aside. Sprinkle chocolate chunks evenly over bottom of tart shell.

Place caramels, cream and 1 tablespoon butter in a microwave safe bowl and heat until caramel is melted, stirring every 20 seconds. Stir chopped pecans into caramel. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chunks, spread evenly. Pour egg mixture over caramel filling. Arrange pecans on top however you like.

Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 45-60 minutes, until filling is set. If pecans begin to brown too quickly, place a tent of aluminum foil over top. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.

Baker’s Note: I used extra pie dough to cut out pumpkins and stars, baked them separately for 10 minutes and used for decoration.

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Mexican Hot Chocolate Pie
by Michelle Guerriero (2012 Pie Champ with her Maple Custard Pie with Candied Bacon, and 2011 second place winner with her Orange Marscapone Pumpkin Pie)
People’s Choice: Second Place

Michelle Guerriero- “I recently made some Mexican hot chocolate for my family, which I make by simmering milk with a dried chili pepper, then adding melted chocolate and cinnamon. It’s a lovely treat as the weather turns cool, and anything with cinnamon is a winner in my house. This is what inspired my Mexican Hot Chocolate Pie. My first attempt at the pie was a little spicy, so I had to make a mild version. When steeping the chili pepper, don’t overdo it! It can creep up quickly! Or you could omit the chili pepper altogether.”

Pie Crust Ingredients
12 graham crackers
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons sugar (optional)

In food processor, pulse all ingredients together until crumbly. Press into pie pan and bake for 12 minutes on 350. Remove and wait to fill with filling.

Pie Filling Ingredients (modified from recipe found on cooks.com)
1 stick (1/2 cup) softened butter
2 cups brown sugar
3 whole eggs
1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla (regular is just fine)
1/2 cup half & half
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 small dried chili pepper 

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Mexican vanilla

In a mixer with a whisk, combine softened butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Whisk until well combined and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing approximately 1 min. between each egg. Mixture should be nice and fluffy. Stop until it is time to add next ingredients. 

In a small saucepan, combine half and half, vanilla, and dried chili pepper over medium-high heat. Bring mixture to a simmer (not boil!) and remove from heat. During the simmering is when you can play with the “heat” in your pie. You may only add the chili pepper for a quick minute, you may want to steep it longer. Taste the mixture until it is to your liking, then remove chili pepper. 

With the mixer going again, very slowly add the milk mixture to the bowl. Do not add too quickly or it will cook your eggs! 

Once combined, pour all ingredients into your pie crust and bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes, or until the middle of the pie jiggles a little, but the edges are firm. Remove and cool pie.

Make whipped cream if desired by whisking heavy cream, cinnamon and vanilla until soft peaks form. Add whipped cream, sprinkle of cinnamon and chocolate chips on top.

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tcheadshotPost and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been growing together since 1996 and farming together since 2000. They started Blooming Glen Farm in 2006. Tricia is passionate about food, community, art and nature and the intersection of all four.

 

 

Posted in Recipes

First Frost; Cut Flower inspiration

A hard frost hit the farm early Monday morning. Tom and I were out with the headlights shining on the fields late Sunday night, fixing the row covers that had blown about in the wind during the day. It always seems that the major frosts follow a windy day, uprooting our “blankets” of protection, and requiring a late night scramble under a clear star-filled sky. It was incredibly beautiful, actually- so no complaints here!

This week we have been concentrating on getting the winter radishes out of the ground and into burlap sacs for storage. The purple top turnips have sized up considerably as well, and are in the share this week, along with celeriac, a delicious celery flavored root. Just peel the rough outside layer and use in soups, oven roast it with a mix of other root vegetables, or mash it up and combine with potatoes or turnips.

10/23/14, share week #21

10/23/14, share week #21

We’ve begun the process of planting our 600 pounds of garlic seed, but with the rain the last bunch of days, we are now waiting for the ground to dry out in order to finish this last big farm task. Tom and the crew broke out the shovels this week, to experiment with transplanting large kale plants from the field and into the greenhouses for winter protection.

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I had the opportunity to attend the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers (ASCFG) national conference on Monday and Tuesday, in Wilmington, Delaware. It was a wonderful experience, drawing a few hundred passionate farmers and floral designers from all over the country- Alaska, California, Texas, Virginia, Maine, New York, Wisconsin to name just a few. Having attended annual vegetable conferences on and off over the past 15 years, I was struck how local cut flowers are where local vegetables were 10 years ago. Much education still needs to be done on why supporting local, and sustainably grown flowers over chemical drenched South American imports is important. But it is clear that the demand for local flowers is on the rise, and now it’s up to the growers to start to fill that need, and work together to create distribution channels.

From a personal perspective it was also pretty darn cool to be in a room with so many strong, inspiring entrepreneurial women. Philadelphia floral designers Sullivan Owen and Jennie Love led a design demo that had me itching to learn more about wedding bouquet styling, as I was just able to get my feet wet a bit this year (see photos below). And I felt a kindred spirit in Sullivan’s committment and passion for the growth and success of her business. Needless to say, I will be looking for ways to incorporate more cut flowers and the creativity they inspire into Blooming Glen Farm.

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tcheadshotPost and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been growing together since 1996 and farming together since 2000. They started Blooming Glen Farm in 2006. Tricia is passionate about food, community, art and nature and the intersection of all four.

Posted in On The Farm

Harvest Fest a Success

Sunday was a beautiful sunny afternoon, sandwiched between two dreary rainy days. With over a hundred votes cast in Blooming Glen Farm’s 5th annual pie bake-off contest, we are judging attendance around 150 to 200. The band was hopping, the popcorn popping and the scarecrows multiplying. What a fun way to wind down this wonderful growing season with amazing weather and amazing people. The festival, and especially the potluck was truly a celebration of the bounty of this land! Thanks to all who volunteered and attended, and those who contributed their creativity, like clay artist Katia McGuirk, playwright Anne Hamilton and her actors and actresses, chef Kristin Moyer and popcorn popper Justin, the goofy and talented band members of Goose Creek Pioneers, and all the pie bakers. It really felt like a very special community celebration.

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Next week we will be posting the winning pie recipes- the top three in the people’s choice, and the top three judges vote. All the pies were superb- as one pie judge said- there must be something in the veggies at Blooming Glen Farm! This year’s first place winners were new to pie baking. The people’s choice first place went to a novice 16 year old baker with her chocolate pecan recipe, and the judges vote went to two young children who baked a classic apple pie with the help of their dad. Pretty cool! More details and recipes to come!

The share this week features two winter squash varieties to chose from, the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin and the Cuban pumpkin.  A classic pumpkin of the 1800s, the Long Island Cheese pumpkin was most likely named for its shape and color, which bring to mind a wheel of fresh cheese. The name may also stem from the colonial practice of making “pumpkin cheese”, a sweet preserve we’d call pumpkin butter. In addition to its beautiful pale orange skin, this pumpkin contains a sweet flesh that’s fantastic for baking.

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10/14/14, share #20

The other winter squash choice was a Cuban Pumpkin, also called Calabaza, or Jamaican pumpkin. It is mottled green, yellow and tan, with a light yellow flesh and a smooth sweet flavor. We grew this pumpkin sucessfully last season, and increased our planting this year. As the name suggests it is typically grown throughout the Caribbean as well as Central and South America. A popular Cuban dish is Arroz con Calabaza, or Pumpkin Rice. Chunks of squash are simmered with rice, garlic, onions, peppers, and fragrant herbs and spices. The squash can also be baked or made into soup, and substituted in recipes for other hard skinned winter squashes like butternut and hubbard.

Also new this week- romanesco cauliflower and kohlrabi. The fall kohlrabi is a variety that is grown to be large, store well, and still maintain its sweetness. We’ve featured this strange alien shaped veggie in various recipes on the blog over the year: Kohlrabi Dal with Aromatic Rice, Kohlrabi Fritters with a Yogurt Sauce, and Kohlrabi and Turnip Slaw (and variations). I love kohlrabi raw as a slaw with apples and fennel. Enjoy the flavors of fall!

tcheadshotPost and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been growing together since 1996 and farming together since 2000. They started Blooming Glen Farm in 2006. Tricia is passionate about food, community, art and nature and the intersection of all four.

 

 

 

 

Posted in On The Farm

Celebrate the Season this Sunday!

Join us this Sunday the 12th at 3pm to celebrate the season, at Blooming Glen Farm’s annual Harvest Fest and Potluck. We have lots of fun planned-and we are still taking entries for our fifth annual pie bake-off! Local bluegrass band Goose Creek Pioneers will be jamming for us again this season, and the popular scarecrow making and veggie pumpkin creations will be happening. Catch a sunset wagon ride led by Corbin or join Katia McGuirk in her community clay project.  4th Street Foodworks is bringing their big kettle and will be popping Blooming Glen’s own popcorn with Chef Kristin mixing up herb and veggie blends to go on top. Rest your feet in the Garlic Seed Social area as we split up bulbs of garlic for planting. Or hop in a potato sac and get jumping with some old-fashioned family fun.

New at the festival this year: The Farm Show, site-specific theatre at Blooming Glen Farm, written and directed by longtime CSA member Anne Hamilton, Founder of Hamilton Dramaturgy. Shows at 3:30pm and 4:30pm, the walking tour lasting approx. 45 min. Space is limited so sign up when you get to the festival. Don’t forget to bring a potluck dish to share, your beverage and place settings and a picnic blanket. With all these food lovers, this is one community meal not to miss! So grab a friend, bring your family and join us this Sunday!

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This week’s CSA share introduces the first fennel and leeks of the fall, and continues with sweet potatoes, broccoli, cabbage and winter squash. It may be because of the favorable conditions, namely cooler weather we had later in the summer, but whatever it is, the fall crops are looking big and beautiful this season. Farmer Tom is feeling partcularly good about the tall leeks!

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We haven’t quite said goodbye to summer yet. The last of the tomatoes are still trickling in. We are slowly dismantling the trellis systems of the summer crops in order to get the fields cleaned up and planted in cover crop for the winter. We had two light frosts at the farm in the past week, which is typical around the full moon of October. Speaking of full moon, I got up early Wednesday morning to try to catch the lunar eclipse of the blood moon. I didn’t see it, but I did catch a beautiful sunrise over the village of Blooming Glen- pictured below.

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We’ve had a few questions about the end of the season- the last distributions of the CSA, week #24, will be Nov. 11 and 13th. This Friday is the last delivery share- week #16. We will be offering special holiday boxed shares for purchase and pick-up the week of Thanksgiving- stay tuned for more details. We will also let you know as soon as we have registration renewal up and live for the 2015 season. Thanks, and see you Sunday!

tcheadshotPost and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been growing together since 1996 and farming together since 2000. They started Blooming Glen Farm in 2006. Tricia is passionate about food, community, art and nature and the intersection of all four.

 

 

 

Posted in On The Farm

Squash Chile Tomato Soup

Autumn is my very favorite time of year. I am not a summer person and prefer shorter days and squash and beets over tomatoes, cucumbers and long hot days. I have been making soup every day for the past 10 years, so soup season means plenty of smooth no-brainer cooking. I love cooking from an effortless place of creativity. We will be featuring soups in the demos for the duration of the CSA season. 

Last week’s demo recipe was a super easy soup and a great way to use up some of those tomatoes you may have hanging around. The recipe calls for tomato juice and chopped fresh tomatoes. Feel free to improvise with whatever tomato/ stock mix you have on hand. You can always add more water if the consistency is too thick. I served mine with black bean salsa and chunks of roasted squash, because I love black and orange together. I also think topping with fresh avocado, queso fresco, tortilla strips and cilantro would be awesome. I use either a immersion blender or Vitamix, the immersion blender being by far my favorite tool in the kitchen (sorry Vitamix). Thanks to everyone who visits me at my table. This has been an amazing experience of which I am so grateful!

Squash Chile Tomato Soup

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Ingredients
3 ribs celery, diced
2 onion, diced
2 cups pepper, diced
1 sweet potato, diced
2 cups fresh tomato, diced
1 kabocha squash, roasted and scooped from its skin (could also sub in a butternut or 2 delicata)
12 oz tomato juice
2 cups water
1/8 tsp tumeric
1/8 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chile powder
1 tsp salt
2 dried ancho chiles soaked in 2 cups hot water (remove stems once softened )- add chile water to the soup too.

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Sauté veggies in 2 tablespoons oil. Add liquids and seasonings, and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes, until veggies are soft. Puree. Garnish. Enjoy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPost and recipes written by Kristin Moyer, Farm Chef Educator at Blooming Glen Farm and passionate farm-fresh food advocate. Kristin cooks at The Perk in Perkasie, does private catering and serves on the Pennridge Wellness Committee, working to create edible school yards in Pennridge School District. Together with Blooming Glen Farm she hopes to someday start a Community Supported Kitchen at the farm.

Editing by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

 

 

 

Posted in Recipes

Fall into winter roots

Sweet potatoes, beets and winter radishes- the cooler weather and shift in crops signals a time to turn the oven back on and dive into delicious fall soups and roasted root vegetables.

Looking way back to April, spring radishes are one of the first things we plant when the ground dries out. French breakfast and red radishes grow fast -as quick as 3 to 4 weeks from seed to maturity. We harvest them pretty small- about the size of a gumball, and their peppery kick is a welcome kick start to our digestion after a long winter. Winter radishes on the other hand are planted beginning of August and take almost twice as long as spring radishes to mature, growing best into the cooler fall weather. To help them reach their full size potential, we thin the plants. The long daikons can reach a length of 12 inches or more, the round globe types grow happily to 3-5 inches around. Sturdy and beautiful, winter radishes are chock full of hardy nutrition.

This week’s CSA harvest had a choice between daikon radish and green meat radish. These are just two of the four varieties of winter radishes we grow here at Blooming Glen Farm.

9/30/14, share #18

9/30/14, share #18

The daikon radish looks like a giant unicorn horn, and has a mild moist texture. Traditionally used in Japanese cuisine as pickles or in stir-fries, daikon is valued medicinally as a blood and kidney cleanser- it can be combined in a broth with seaweed or in a tea to aid digestion. Two thin slices of pickled daikon is the traditional end to a meal in Japan as it is said to both cleanse the palate and aid in the digestion of the meal. 

Grated on a greens mix, watermelon radishes, or rose heart, with their bright pink interiors will jazz up any salad. Appearing more like a turnip at first glance, peeling back the moss colored shoulders reveals a hidden splendor. They are sweetly mild, with a little bit of spice, and thanks to the fun color, the kid friendliest of the group. Though it can be cooked, I prefer it raw so as not to lose that vibrant rose color. It pairs well with the flavors of fennel and apple.

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The Spanish black radish has a dull black exterior that hides an irridescent pearly white center. Its hot flavor is tempered by a bitter earthiness, almost as if the radish takes on the terroir of our land. In China and Europe it has been used in folk medicine for hundreds of years as a gallbladder tonic and a natural remedy for digestive problems. High in Vitamic C, some people say the pungent spiciness can help ward of colds and flus.

Green meat radish is a type of daikon with a much spicier flavor than its elongated white cousin. Green meats are touted as sweet and mild but I found the ones we are harvesting the most aggressively hot of the bunch.

All these radishes can be enjoyed grated, with the addition of soy sauce and touch of freshly grated ginger, and served with grilled meats or fish, or vegetables, in the style of daikon oroshi, which is simply Japanese for grated radish. Winter radishes are also wonderful roasted with other roots or added to soups.

tcheadshotPost and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been growing together since 1996 and farming together since 2000. They started Blooming Glen Farm in 2006. Tricia is passionate about food, community, art and nature and the intersection of all four.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in On The Farm