Thursday, October 25, 2012

Plum tomatoes ready for the oven
Oven roasted tomatoes can be made any time tomatoes are in season, but we like to wait for a cool day in early autumn, when we can turn on the oven and fill the house with the smell of roasted fresh tomatoes. They are best made with plum (a.k.a. 'Roma') tomatoes as they have less moisture, but any tomatoes can be used. Red is classic, but all colours work great too. The roasting intensifies and sweetens the tomato flavour, and you can use them anywhere you would use fresh tomatoes (plus oodles of other yummy recipes).
Plum tomatoes -about 20 medium (1½ quarts) cover a cookie sheet.
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch salt

Wash and halve plum tomatoes lengthwise. Place in a big pile on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and salt. Toss until tomatoes are lightly covered with oil, place in a single layer, cut side up, and roast in oven until they just start to char. The tomatoes may be roasted to varying degrees, depending on how you want them: from
soft and juicy to very dry and leathery (low temps work best).

The higher the oven temperature, the faster the drying. As a general rule, the tomatoes will take an hour at 375°, or you can cook them overnight at 200°.
FYI: The green tomatoes in the photo are an heirloom variety called "Green Sausage" -they are ripe!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Hutchinson Farm News Vol. 16, No. 5

A Study in Scarlet - Berry Update #1

As I write this, we're enjoying a rainy day (the fields have been so dry we'll enjoy any rain, even though it's on a market day). This gives us a chance to catch up on my long list of rainy day jobs (including this newsletter), and gives the strawberries a much needed drink!

The strawberries are coming along nicely, and we will probably have a few for sale this weekend (June 2-3), lots more by next weekend. Pick-your-own is a "maybe" for next weekend, I'll send out another quick email when we know for certain.

Flower Update
You may look at our greenhouses and say, 'wow, they're mostly empty, you've sold a lot!' I look at the greenhouses and say, 'they're too full!' Either way, there is still  a good selection of most, but not all flowers. They are a good size now -perfect for an instant garden!

Scarlet Red
Once upon a time, this was the classic red geranium colour. We probably sold more red geraniums than all our other flowers put together. Not this year! Any red with a touch of orange is now the slowest selling colour, and not just in geraniums: scarlet red verbena, Red Sunpatiens, impatiens, scarlet calibracoa (aka Million Bells) -all selling slowly. 

First Berry
The photo is from a few days ago, I'm not going out into the patch until it dries!

Three Cool Herbs
We've got a great selection of herbs including:

Chervil: (top pic) One of the French 'Fines Herbs', we've never actually cooked with it, has anyone tried it?

Aristotle Basil: (right) This dwarf fine leaved strain is tres superbe! Same great flavour as the regular stuff, and it's tight compact shape is beautiful in the garden or containers.

Purple Sage: (lower left) The purple colour looks great in the garden, plus it is more compact than the regular green sage that can be a bit leggy.

Rhubarb Our rhubarb is finally ready. It came up early, but it just sat there at the "too-small-to-pick" stage, waiting for a drink. This means we will have lots of rhubarb for the strawberry season. Some years, rhubarb is practically over by the time strawberries start!

If it stops raining, we'll do our best to have a few berries this weekend to go along with our great selection of flowers, planters, and hanging baskets.  One last reminder: Milton Farmers Market is cancelled Sat June 2nd thanks to the Downtown Business Improvement Association.

Bye for now,    

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Hutchinson Farm News Vol. 16, No. 1

Another year, another winter has come and gone (okay, it never really came), and another growing season has begun. I hope that this first newsletter of the season finds you and your families well, invigorated, and ready for another year of growing beautiful things in your gardens, and eating really yummy things (I'm thinking heirloom tomatoes).

2012 finds the folks on our farm quite well. Alexander is almost taller than me, Rebecca has adjusted well to her new school, and if the dogs would quit eating stupid things, us adults would have no worries!

We've got lots of exciting things upcoming this year, and I'll be telling you all about it upcoming newsletters, but for this issue, I thought I'd give you a taste of what happened in our greenhouse during the March Break.

Ready, Set, Go
8:00 am

The previous days were spent cleaning and sterilizing the greenhouse, we've filled the hanging baskets with soil-less mix, now we're just waiting for the plants to arrive!

They're Here!
11:15 am

John just got back from picking up the cuttings from our suppliers, 42 cases, about  10,000 cuttings in total. Enough to keep us out of trouble for a while!

The Unboxing
11:46 am

The fun part is opening the box of course! Here we have some of the exotic "Graffiti" series geraniums.  This side up really does mean this side up!

Planting Party!
1:35 pm

Deb, Wendy, and Lana planting, planting, planting, planting... most of the cuttings go in 4½" pots, the rest are going in planters and hanging baskets. We hope to finish by Friday afternoon.

1:37 pm

Rafael came up from sunny Mexico last week. We tried to save some snow for him, but....
His family is all well, but there was a severe drought in his region -his corn crop only grew 8" tall. Here he is putting the little tags in the pots.

A Dog's Life
3:30 pm

Planting geraniums is exhausting work for a dog.

 Tea Time!
6:10 pm

After a day of planting, a cup of 'tea' hits the spot!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Thai Curry Squash Soup

We made this at the end of March with one of our heirloom pumpkins, an Australian Blue called "Triamble". This particular pumpkin had been in our greenhouse as part of our pumpkin gallery since October, and we just left it there at the end of the season. Not exactly ideal storage conditions: warm on sunny days, freezing on cold nights. After five months, you'd think it would be in rough shape -most pumpkins would be moldy or have become a puddle on the floor! Not Triamble. It was almost in perfect condition.

4 cups baked pumpkin or squash
1" chunk of ginger, peeled and minced
1 onion, diced
1 tsp curry powder
900ml box of chicken stock
1 can coconut milk (14 oz/ 425 ml)
1 sprig cilantro

Fry onion until soft in a large saucepan.
Add garlic, ginger, curry powder, stir for 30 sec.
Add squash and stock, simmer 15 mins.
Puree, add coconut milk, return to simmer.
Serve garnished with cilantro.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Squash Tomatillo Soup

We've been fans of Moosewood cookbooks since the late '80's and finally made it to the restaurant itself in Ithaca, NY last summer (2011) where we had a fabulous dinner and, as it just so happens, bought the cookbook where this recipe appears ("Moosewood Restaurant New Classics" p 75).
One day in October we were looking for something new and seasonal to make for dinner. We were still harvesting both squash and tomatillos on our farm (as well as onions and tomatoes), so this recipe just leapt out at us. It is a superb soup, both our kids love it, and it has quickly become part of our standard cooking repertoire -plus it's a cinch to make!

Fresh tomatillos are still very hard to find in Ontario. We grow and sell them at our farm from early August to late October. To extend the tomatillo season, you can keep them in the refrigerator for about a month, and they freeze very well -just remove the husk, wash, and freeze whole in freezer bags. Avoid canned tomatillos at all costs!

We often use butternut for soups, etc. It tastes great, has a rich colour and smooth texture, plus it's the easiest squash to peel and cube. This soup would also be great with any of the great tasting heirloom pumpkins that we grow, such as Musquée de Provence, Flat White Boer...
Our first batch of Squash-Tomatillos Soup, a memorable meal, Oct 30, 2011

Recipe (original Moosewood version)
This recipe makes a lot of soup (serves 8-10), reheats perfectly.

18 fresh tomatillos (about 2 pounds)
4 - 5 cups chopped onions
8 garlic cloves chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cups peeled and cubed winter squash
6 cups vegetable stock
3 cups chopped tomatoes
1 - 2 teaspoons minced chipotles in adobo sauce
salt and pepper to taste

sour cream
chopped fresh cilantro
avacado cubes
crumbled tortilla chips

Preheat the oven to 450°
Remove and discard the husks of the fresh tomatillos. Rinse the tomatillos, cut them in half, and place them cut-side up in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Roast for 30 - 35 minutes, until soft.

Meanwhile, in a soup pot, cook the onions in the olive oil on medium heat, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, until golden. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, until fragrant. Stir in the squash, stock, and the tomatoes with their juice, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 25 minutes, until the squash is quite tender. Add the chipotles and the roasted tomatillos.

In a blender, purée the soup in several batches and return to the pot. Add salt, pepper, and more chipotles to taste, and gently reheat if needed.

Serve hot, with some or all of the toppings.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Our latest Newsletter, August 2011

A Great BLT!
The Worlds Greatest BLT

We are now in peak tomato season, with lots of roma, cherry, beefsteak, heirloom, and good old field tomatoes coming in from our fields every day. It's time for freezing, canning, making chili sauces and salsas, and most importantly, eating as many yummy tomatoes as you can, especially in the form of bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches! To make a truly great BLT, you need to do it yourself. If you order one at a restaurant, it will never be as good as homemade. Enjoy it with a glass of milk for lunch, or maybe a glass of Chianti for dinner. Then make it a meal with a delicious heirloom watermelon for dessert.

Fresh Picked Field Tomatoes
The Real Tomatoland!
It's time to celebrate and wallow in great tasting tomatoes. I think the ones we grow on our farm are probably about the best you can find anywhere. Under our tender loving care, our tomatoes have survived drought and deluge, and have ripened into delicious maturity. They are being picked at their field-ripened best, so you can't go wrong with whichever type you choose. They're at their peak for the next few weeks.

Photo: Our just a few of our fresh picked field tomatoes ready for grading.

I just finished reading Barry Estabrook's Tomatoland, all about growing tomatoes in Florida (everything you didn't want to know about growing tasteless tomatoes). A fascinating read, now I know why our tomatoes taste so good, and why so many others are not worth looking at. 

Brattleboro, NH Farmers' Market
Best Farmers' Market Yet!
At the end of July my family took a quick vacation to Bretton Woods, NH to visit Mount Washington (the highest mountain east of the Mississippi, and home to the highest wind speed ever recorded). While traveling, we always keep a lookout for farmers' markets, and we found ourselves one Saturday morning at the Brattleboro Farmers' Market in southern Vermont. It is perfect in size, with about 50 vendors situated in a park with huge trees providing shade, gravel pathways and a grassy centre courtyard. The vendors could only sell what they grew themselves (in other words, none of the "reseller" nonsense that you find at Burlington and Milton), so it was refreshing knowing we were buying from real farmers. The market also had a good selection of artisans/craftsmen, and what we really liked was the vendors offering prepared food. Everything from African dishes to Indian yum yums to gourmet pizza, all made by people passionate about their culinary heritage. You could eat at the market or take it home for dinner. In addition, each Saturday there is a different musician serenading the market. We love the Burlington and Milton farmers' markets, but the diverse array of goods, and the relaxed community atmosphere at the Brattleboro Farmers' Market was a delight, we didn't want to leave!

Heirloom Watermelons
Not Seedless! :-)
One of our sources for heirloom seed is the Seed Savers Exchange. While browsing through their gorgeous catalog last winter, I was intrigued by all the watermelon they had listed. Big ones, small ones, early ones, late ones, pink ones, yellow ones, white ones and orange ones. I thought to myself, you don't suppose the breeders of modern seedless watermelons are sacrificing flavour as they try to breed out the seed?
There was only one way to find out, and that was to grow some heirloom watermelons ourselves. Our harvest has begun, and we like what we're tasting. Our favourite from yesterday's taste test was "Cream of Saskatchewan" (bottom centre of photo).

For the next few weeks it is peak season for all the summer goodies growing on our farm, including melons and tomatoes (see the full list at the upper right corner of this email).

There are a million ways to make a BLT, here's mine:

4 slices of your favourite bread (I'm a big fan of sourdough), toasted lightly
8 slices of bacon, cooked almost crisp (don't succumb to grocery store bacon, get the fabulous thick sliced bacon from J&G Meats at Burlington Mall Farmers' Market, or Maziarz Meats at Milton--- if you're going to do this BLT thing, do it properly!)
6 big, thick slices of your favourite heirloom tomato (in the photo we used Aunt Ruby's German Green, and Pineapple)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Enjoy your sandwich(es). Follow it with an heirloom watermelon, and if you have kids, have a watermelon seed spitting contest! Enjoy summer's bounty. Life is good.

Bye for now,  

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Zucchini Salad

I think this recipe comes from Jamie Oliver. It's become one of our favourites, the key is to use zucchini that was picked that day.

Use a potato peeler to thinly slice green and/or yellow zucchini lengthwise (remember with zucchini, the smaller the better).

Equal parts olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice
fresh red chile -deseeded and very finely chopped