Week 10: In the Bay

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Traditional weir technology, Bramber

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Grape leaves and grapes coming along…

New this week in the pack: potatoes!  cherries!  You may also see peppers or tomatoes.  I can’t say for sure exactly what will be in the packs until it is all counted out.  We do know there will be salad mix; carrots; bunched onions; chard, kale or beets; arugula; garlic; beans; eggs; and a herb.  If you want a pesto pack (basil leaves and garlic) for $7, let Jen know.  Also, we will be offering fresh grape leaves with onions, mint, and oregano for $7.  Let Jen know.  The stuffed grape leaves recipe is at the end of this post as well as a free-range cheesecake recipe.

Just after posting last week’s newsletter, we took a rare opportunity to step away from the farm.  One of the women who works with us, Cassie, organized a trip out to Darren Porter’s weir 20 minutes up the road.  We jumped at the chance.  Here we are, living on the shore, by the highest tides in the world.  Every year, Darren Porter builds a huge woven traditional fish trap called a weir.  It takes 100 tides to build it, and 50 tides to take it down.  As the tide goes out, the weir appears, and fish are corralled into a woven chamber.  At low tide, twice a day, Darren and his crew go out to collect fish.  Scientists come along to weigh and radio tag fish like striped bass and sturgeon, then let the fish go out as the tide comes in.

The underside of an ancient sturgeon, after being tagged, and ready to go back out to sea

The underside of an ancient sturgeon, after being tagged, and ready to go back out to sea

Cassie and Stephanie in front of the weir

Cassie and Stephanie in front of the weir

Reminds me of picking peas from a trellis

Reminds me of picking peas from a trellis

Steph getting used to handling slippery wiggly things

Steph getting used to handling slippery wiggly things

Striped Bass with its new radio tracker

Striped Bass with its new radio tracker

The chamber where most of the fish are caught as the tide goes down

The chamber where most of the fish are caught as the tide goes down

They say a change is as good as a rest.  It was a nice day out, doing something different.  We appreciate Darren and the kind of hard work he’s put in to make this happen.  He has also created employment for young people and taught them the value of a life based on honest hard work, keen observation, and care for natural resources.

Darren Porter explaining the business to Kimm Kent of Moonfire Farm and David

Darren Porter explaining the business to Bruce and David, and Kimm Kent of Moonfire Farm

We also appreciate being able to buy fresh seafood to eat right in this community!!

A fresh meal of calamari from the weir

A fresh meal of calamari from the weir

Mackerel.  So fresh.  So beautiful!

Mackerel. So fresh. So beautiful!

In other news, David was thrilled to be able to borrow a special harrow from his farm-mentor Phil Nunn.  He’s been preparing the two fields by the river for growing vegetables next year.  He plowed it last fall, disk-harrowed it, planted a cover crop of rye and oats in the spring; plowed it again mid-summer and harrowed it again with this new harrow to pull the couch grass roots up to the surface during the dry hot weather to kill them (life without herbicides).  Now he’s planting buckwheat — to smother any new weeds that feel like coming up.  The fields will be ready and hopefully weed-free next spring for vegetable production.  It is like the farming equivalent of 100 tides to get ready for production.

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Some enthusiastic souls made it out to the farm on a hot and sunny Saturday.  One woman, Chris, was keen to dig some potatoes because she’d never done it before.  She got right in there and dug, ruining her manicure, smiling the whole time.  “You dig these by hand?” she asked.

Chris digging potatoes

Chris digging potatoes

Thanks to everyone who made it out!

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Buddy, our dog, showing people around on Open Farm Day

Buddy, our dog, showing people around on Open Farm Day

Everyone knows boys like tractors!  But I can tell you, girls do too :)

Everyone knows boys like tractors! But I can tell you, girls do too 🙂

Here come the melons!

Here come the melons!

Dolmades, or stuffed grape leaves, is a “classic” Greek dish. Dolmades can be eaten as a meze with ouzo or as a side dish. It can also be accompanied by Greek strained yoghurt as a tasty little snack on its own.

Ingredients

50 vine leaves – approx. 10cm diameter

2 large onions grated

½ kg risotto rice

1 bunch chopped fennel

5 fresh mint leaves chopped

Juice from 2 medium lemons

2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preparation

• Wash the leaves in cold water.• Place them in a large pan of boiling water for no longer than a minute – just to soften them.  • Remove the protruding edge of the central stem from each leaf. • Place the leaves individually flat in a shallow oven dish and allow to cool. • Gently fry the onions in 3 tablespoons of oil. • Add the remaining ingredients and stir the mixture just the once before removing from the heat. • Place 1 level teaspoon of the mixture in the centre of each leaf and fold the leaf to make a small rectangular package.    • Spread 5 vine leaves at the bottom of a shallow pan and place the dolmades next to each other in the pan with the folded side underneath. • When you have completed one layer, make another layer of dolmades on top of them and then finally a third layer. • Add the rest of the olive oil as well as 1 cup of water. • Place any remaining leaves across the top of the layers and then place a heavy plate on top to cover most of the surface. • Put the lid on the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes or until there is only oil and no water. • Remove the plate and add the lemon juice. • You may now remove the dolmades from the pan and serve.

Variations

Cooked ground beef or lamb can be added to the mixture inside the grape leaves.

Instead of the water, crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce can be poured over the dolmades before cooking.

I add oregano, thyme, and salt to my dolmade filling mixture.

I cook them in a baking dish in the oven instead of in a pot on the stove.

Free-range Cheesecake

This cheesecake is a wonderful golden colour from the bright orange yolks of eggs from free range hens.

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 pkgs (each 250 g) cream cheese at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

4-6 eggs

1/3 cup 35% whipping cream (or sour cream)

2 tsp lemon juice or finely grated lemon rind or vanilla extract

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

– Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease 9-inch springform pan.  (I often use a muffin tin, or just a plain pyrex pan).  – In a food processor, combine graham cracker crumbs , butter, and 1/3 cup sugar.  Press into bottom and halfway up the side of the pan.  Bake in centre of oven until golden, about 12-14 minutes. – In a food processor, beat cream cheese with 3/4 cup sugar until very creamy.  Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl. Beat in cream and lemon rind or lemon juice or vanilla.  Beat in flour. Pour into crumb crust. – Bake in the centre of oven for 25 to 30 minutes at 325 F. Do not overcook. Turn oven off and leave oven door ajar. Let cheesecake sit in oven for two hours. – Cool to room temperature on rack. Chill at least four hours. Serve with fresh berries, if desired.

Allow your cheesecake to range outside at will.

See you all soon!

Jen, David, Bruce, Cassie, Stephanie, and Brent

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