Well the weather seems to have cooled off a bit but the crops keep coming strong. This past week marked the beginning of melon season here at the farm and they’re in your shares this week. We have a few different varieties of melons for you: there’s the traditional Cantaloupe and Honey Dew, as well as Sun Jewel, an Asian melon that has yellow and white stripes and a flavor and texture similar to a Honey Dew and there’s also a bright yellow melon, whose name no one really seems to know for sure, that has a flavor similar to Cantaloupe and a texture similar to Honey Dew. Melon season comes and goes quickly; it seems like we’re overwhelmed suddenly and then they’re gone so it’s important to enjoy them while we can. With the arrival of melons along with the bounty of tomatoes, the pigs really are loving life these days too; they really love the sweet things. We also have green beans in your share for the first time this week and everyone will be getting a small bunch of lemon basil among the regular staples of lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, squash and cucumbers. And we have three members of the Allium family for you this week: scallions, garlic, and onions.
This week, allow me to introduce Charlie, our registered Devon bull. We have 35 beef cattle here at the farm, in addition to the 2 Jerseys that we have for milk. Among the 35, we have 10 adult cows (a cow is an adult female bovine that has had a calf; a heifer is a female bovine that has not yet had a calf) and Charlie is the only bull(a bull is an uncastrated adult male bovine; a steer is a male that has been castrated). Life on the farm is great for the bull, but a little tougher for the steers (since cattle eat so much it only makes sense to keep 1 bull, unless we had a lot more cows). Devons are a dual-purpose (milk and beef) breed from England. They are on the small side but they are especially efficient grazers. As beef cattle they are well-marbled without needing any grain (they actually get too fat when they are raised in feedlots like most cattle in this country). Here at the farm, they are rotationally-grazed so that they have access to new grass each week, and the only grain they get is to help us move them more easily (grain is sort of like candy to cows, part of the reason that it is so unhealthy for them to eat a lot of it); this means that their meat is on the lean side and that it is full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. You can try some of our beef by joining our CSA meat share or by picking some up at the farm Monday afternoons or at one of the farmers’ markets.
Charlie grazing in the upper pasture.
Beets – If you’re getting sick of beets, try this awesome cake recipe. Shona made it a couple weeks ago for Maggie’s birthday and it really is fantastic. The recipe comes from an English cookbook (from the farm/restaurant where Shona WWOOF’ed last fall) so the measurements are by weight, rather than by volume.
Dark Chocolate Beetroot Cake
8 oz. self-raising flour (to sub regular all-purpose flour, add 1 1/4 tsp baking powder and 1/8 tsp salt for each cup of regular flour)
8 oz. sugar
2 tsp. ground cardamom
3.5 oz. dark chocolate, minimum 60% cocoa
5 oz. butter
8 oz. cooked beets, grated
4 medium eggs
Icing (this is more than enough for 2 cakes)
18 oz. dark chocolate
11 fl oz. cream
2 tsp. dark rum
For the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Grease and line a deep 9″ round cake tin.
3. Sift the cardamom and flour together.
4. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over warm water (or in a double boiler).
5. Remove from the heat, add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
6. Add the eggs one at a time and whisk in thoroughly.
7. Add the grated beetroot and mix in well.
8. Fold in the flour carefully.
9. Pour into the prepared cake tin.
10. Bake for 50 minutes or until a wooden stick inserted in the center comes out clean.
11. Remove from the oven and leave for 15 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool.
For the icing:
1. Combine the dark chocolate and the cream in a bowl and heat gently over a pan or warm water.
2. Leave to cool slightly, add the rum then spread over the cake as it starts to set.
3. Serve with creme fraiche or whipped cream.
Beans – My favorite way to prepare green beans is simply to saute them with a little olive oil, garlic, oregano and then a little chicken/vegetable stock or bouillon (this really takes the beans to the next level).