Our new Fresh Pasta Shares from Strega Nona's have rocked our world this year. There is no better pairing for farm fresh veggies and herbs than tender, flavorful, fresh pasta. We visited pasta maker Kyle Greer one evening as he was cranking out a batch of pasta goodness.
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Kyle started out by kneading pasta dough colored with the dripping from roasted beets. All of Strega Nona's pastas are made with organic flour, free range eggs and seasonal (sometimes local!) flavors.
Strega Nona's is named for the children's book of the same name, in which a magical pasta pot nearly floods a town with noodles. Kyle is living up to his business' name by spreading the joy and bounty of fresh pasta across Plumas County.
The dough is run through a hand-cranked extruder multiple times until it forms a uniform sheet. Kyle has been fine tuning his technique since he bought this sheeter off of Ebay and refurbished it.
Strega Nona's pasta flavors include whole wheat, beet, spinach, roasted sweet potato and many more. When he serves prepared pasta, Kyle makes a point of sourcing produce from local and regional farmers whenever he can.
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After the sheets are ready to go a cutter attachment is added to the extruder, and a final run through the machine creates the finished product. This evening fettuccine and angel hair were in production.
Strega Nona's pasta is available in a weekly Fresh Pasta Share
for High Altitude Harvest members, as well as at the Quincy Farmers' Market
, Quincy Natural Foods and hopefully some local restaurants in the near future.
We applaud Kyle of adding another layer of awesomeness to our local food culture! You can read more about Strega Nona's in our July 3rd HAH newsletter, available for download here
. HAH members, you can add a Fresh Pasta Share to your account at anytime by contacting us or visiting your account online. Yum!
If you've ever made Kale Chips you know that it is entirely possible to eat an entire bunch of kale in one sitting. Their green, crunchy, savory goodness is too much to resist. Here are some delectable variations of Kale Chip recipes to get you even more hooked.
Sea Salt & Vinegar
From Kalyn's Kitchen
"When I finally decided I had to try making kale chips myself, I found there were endless variations on the recipe, with different cooking times and slightly different methods. I can be rather a perfectionist, so I had to test 6 slightly different versions before I came up with the recipe I liked best, where the kale chips are roasted for a longer time at a fairly low temperature. I wanted to make salt and vinegar chips, since those are some of my favorite flavors, and I found I liked the kale best when the salt was added after roasting...
Spicy Kale Chips
From Raw Food Recipes
"This is an amazing raw vegan spicy kale chip that will blow you away with the taste and texture. Perfect on the go snack and great for kids!"
Gourmet Sunflower Seed Kale Chips
From Deeply Rooted
"I love kale chips (and I know the rest of the world does too). These ones are super addicting, so make a large batch!"
From Smitten Kitchen
"If you’re making the chips with the intention to grind them up for popcorn, I’d use less oil — perhaps half — so they grind without the “powder” clumping. I ground a handful of my chips (about half) in a mortar and pestle and sprinkled it over popcorn. I seasoned the popcorn with salt. I liked this snack, but I think Parmesan and Kale-Dusted Popcorn would be even more delicious. Next time!"
Since our Thompson Valley Ranch beef shares
took a jump in price this year, we thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about financial sustainability on the farm.
That's right, money. The M word. It's not the reason farmers get into the business of growing food, but it can
definitely be the reason they get out of it. Americans now spend less than 10% of their disposable income on food, less than almost any other country in the world. The blossoming population of small-scale farmers have their work cut out for them helping US consumers see the value of paying fair prices for quality food.
Bryan Roccucci of Thompson Valley Ranch pointing out grass-fed cows on a hayride
They say that there are three pillars of sustainability on a farm - environmental, social and financial.
Stewarding natural resources is the fun part, what small scale farmers often feel most passionate about. There are lots of layers to a thriving farmscape - creating biodiversity, building soil fertility, practicing integrated pest management, and so on. It's a complex topic, but it's the easiest to see in action.
Social sustainability is a little more amorphous. It's about making sure the farmer and their family have time to be engaged in their community, and can refresh their own reserves of energy during and after a hectic growing season. It's also about ensuring that farm laborers have safe and supportive working environments.
And then there's the moolah. The financial health of a farm is what makes or breaks the whole operation. Consistent cash flow and a decent net profit at the end of the year makes it possible for farmers to pay their bills, save for retirement, fix the farm equipment, and get seeds in the ground (or cows on the pasture) year after year. These days farmers have to be as good with spreadsheets and Quickbooks as they are with hoes and pitchforks.
So this winter when Thompson Valley Ranch explained to us that their processing and transportation costs have risen and they needed to increase their prices, we didn't try to talk them down. Instead we said, "Hey, that's great that you're keeping an eye on the financial health of your operation!" Of course, it helps knowing that you - our amazing HAH members - are ready and waiting to support all aspects of sustainability on our local farms.
Enjoy that financially solvent grass-fed beef!
So you’re a CSA member, but your love of gardening gives you a double dose of greens in the spring and zucchini in the summer. If you adore getting dirty in your own soil, yet still want the crop variety and weekly surprise of a CSA share, we're here to tell you that you can have your broccoli and eat it too.
Enjoy fresh, friendly food from local farmers and grow your own bountiful garden by planting these super simple winter storage crops:
Two words: freeze ‘em. The best kept secret in food preservation is how easy it is to freeze tomatoes. Throw them into plastic bags whole and put them in the freezer. This will take next to none of your time during the busy summer. In the fall and winter, pull them out at your leisure and use them any way you would canned tomatoes. If you’re not into skins, they’ll slip right off after the tomatoes thaw. Here’s a killer Tomato Soup
recipe that we make with frozen tomatoes and preserved herbs.
2. DRY BEANS
We’ve got great news for you: home cooked beans are delicious
! They’re hearty and have way more character than boring mushy canned beans. Plus, they’re easy to store and they keep just shy of forever. Get your cooking method dialed in – crock pot, stove top or pressure cooker – and we promise you’ll become a believer. In the garden, dry beans are a low-maintenance crop during the summer. The job of shelling can happen hanging in the back yard with friends or in front of the fire as the nights grow long. Make sure you choose varieties bred for use as dry beans, like these
Any idea how many sprigs of dried thyme it takes to fill up a whole spice jar? Oodles. Buckets. In other words, lots. Oregano, dill, winter savory, rosemary, thyme – grow your own and dry them for year-round seasoning self-sufficiency. Likewise, herbal teas are fantastic to grow in the home garden. Dried sage, lavender, hyssop and mint all make aromatic teas, by themselves or mixed with white, green or black tea. Drying is easy: hang upside down in small bunches until they’re crispy, then jar for freshness.
4. HOT PEPPERS
If you like peppers so hot you have to strip to your knickers, you’d better grow your own. Scorching varieties like Serranos or Habaneros aren’t likely to come in a CSA share for fear of scaring off less hearty members. Grow them for fresh eating, or use your bounty to make killer DIY hot sauce. There’s a great step by step guide at WikiHow
that we’d recommend checking out (including a fun video).
Because who can really get enough berries in the summer anyway? Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries… we’d all eat gallons if we had the chance. And extras are a snap to throw in the freezer for winter smoothies, sauces, or to keep the morning oatmeal interesting. If you don’t want to deal with chipping apart a big chunk of frozen berries, spread them out on a cookie sheet to freeze and then throw ‘em in a freezer bag for easy access later.
If you’re the pumpkin carving type, consider growing your own jack-o-lanterns. Pick a variety that’s big enough to carve, but that’s also good for soups, in baked goods, or stuffed. You can eat your fill and carve the rest. Or grow beautiful varieties
to put on display and skip the carving altogether. Note: Any type of winter squash, from acorns to Hubbards and spaghetti squash, are fantastic easy keepers through the early winter months. Keep ‘em in a well ventilated spot at about 50 degrees.
Harvesting potatoes is like hunting for treasure, except better, because you can eat the potatoes. You’ll get a variety of them throughout the season in a CSA share, but you can grow your own storage potatoes easily for the fall and winter. Resist the urge to harvest right after the plant blooms; instead, wait until it’s mature and the foliage dies back. Let them cure in the dry soil for a couple of weeks, then harvest. Choose varieties that keep well, like Katahdin, Kennebec, Yellow Finn and Yukon Gold.
Do’s: save only unblemished taters; keep them in a cool, dark, ventilated place; eat within 2 or 3 months.
Don’ts: wash until you’re ready to use them; keep them in the fridge; expose them to sunlight.
Finally, if you have a freakish desire for heaps of one type of produce or another, grow it. Odds are that most CSA’s will provide crops in some degree of moderation, or some (mustard greens, anyone?) not at all.