Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas Turkeys

Fortunately and unfortunately the Bashaws had quite a few last minute cancellations. The good news is that there are Christmas turkeys available, but only for a limited time. In about a week I am going to start making turkey sausage!! If you want a Christmas turkey please let me know and we will get you taken care of. The first batch of Moonstruck pork goes to butcher early tomorrow morning, and I know I can't wait to get my honey cured bacon back! The next batch goes to butcher in March 2012, and we will have Pork CSA shares available at that time.

It has been so beautiful the green onions, radishes and even lettuce are doing beautifully outside. Moonstruck Salad Mix is available this week, and Asian Greens are next on the list. Savoy cabbages are doing beautifully in the new greenhouse, and the summer vegies are alive!! It takes about 3 weeks to grow a single zucchini so extending the season does not work due to the late days, but it proves that starting early will not be a problem at all especially since I know I was germinating last year during freezing temps!

Phelan may have an opportunity to have a community garden!! If you are interested please let me know so we can keep track of who in the community would like to take advantage of this. Have a great week everyone!! Moonstruck signing out.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Turkey Stock and Brine Recipes

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Basic Vegetable Stock
For Turkey Brine or Soup
(You need a double recipe for the brine)
(You can buy vegetable stock if you want too, but this is really good).

1 tablespoon olive oil 8 sprigs of fresh parsley (3-4 tsp dried)
1 large onion 6 sprigs fresh thyme (1-2 tsp dried)
2 stalks celery, including some leaves 2 bay leaves
2 large carrots 1 teaspoon salt
1 bunch green onions, chopped 8 cups water
8 cloves garlic, minced

Chop scrubbed vegetables into 1-inch chunks. Remember the greater the surface area, the more quickly vegetables will yield their flavor.
Heat oil in a soup pot. Add onion, celery, carrots, scallions, garlic, parsley, thyme, and bay leaves. Cook over high heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add salt and water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Strain. Discard vegetables.
Other ingredients to consider: mushrooms, eggplant, asparagus (butt ends), corn cobs, fennel (stalks and trimmings), bell peppers, pea pods, chard (stems and leaves), celery root parings, marjoram (stems and leaves), basil, potato parings…Get the idea?

Good Eats Roast Turkey
Recipe Courtesy Alton Brown (My Husbands calls him “my boyfriend”).

For the brine: For the aromatics:
1 cup kosher salt 1 red apple, sliced
1/ cup light brown sugar ½ onion, sliced
1 gallon vegetable stock (double of the 1 cinnamon stick
provided recipe) 1 cup water
1 tablespoon black peppercorns 4 sprigs rosemary
½ tablespoon allspice berries 6 leaves of sage
½ tablespoon candied ginger Canola oil
(I rarely use the ginger)
1 gallon iced water

Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stock pot and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from the heat, cool to room temperature, refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (on day like today I just put in the garage). Early on the day of cooking (or late the night before…I always do the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5 gallon bucket or ice chest. (You can get food grade buckets from donut shops and bakeries). Place thawed turkey breast side down in a brine, cover and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement or garage) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.

A few minutes before roasting heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick and cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.

Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard brine. Place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Add steeped aromatics to cavity along with rosemary and sage. Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with canola (or other neutral) oil. Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 ½ hours of roasting. (Remember fresh turkey speeds this up quite a bit, watch your temperature, loose leg and clear juices). Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What to be thankful for.

This last year has been a major year of change and a lot of growing pains. I know traditionally you look back at the year at New Years, but this is usually the time I look back and find all the things that I am grateful for. I am so grateful for my time with the Bashaws to have had the opportunity to learn the business under their watchful eye that now I feel 100% confident stepping in. I am grateful for the time at the Wrightwood Market and getting to meet all the customers and get to experience "going to market". Unfortunately I did find out this year that I needed to make some changes in order to have time for my family, which will be grown soon and out the door, and time to continue the growth of the CSA and the farm itself. I am still incredibly behind of where I want to be, but at the same time I have to look at what I have accomplished especially the foundation that has been built. We have two greenhouses that I know from experience have the ability to produce tremendous amounts of food. I have two fields outdoors that need a little bird netting but otherwise are fertile and with the help of a few more bees will be abundant producers of organic farm fresh produce. I have new fields out front that will produce the great onions, garlic, leeks and shallots that we know from experience are fresh, moist and sweet when grown here at the farm. There are 70 fruit trees on their way here in January including all kinds of apples that the current orchards do not grow, Winesap, Granny Smith and more. The egg laying operation is being run by the pros, the hens, and they are doing a fine job with very little supervision. We ran a test run of meat chickens to find out costs, and have been enjoying wonderful farm fresh chicken again (I left the Bashaw chicken for the customers who are not lucky to be able to raise it themselves). The pork operation is in full swing and doing well minus a few incidents with the pigs trying to "root' or dig to China, and trying to bust out to see the new piglets! Filet is filling out beautifully and I don't know if I can ever raise anything but Black Angus....they are so handsome! Michael is forming forms everywhere so that the final concrete can go in for a few retaining walls, a large patio (future event area), and the beds out front will be colored concrete raised beds...time to start making things "pretty" around here. For all of those that have passed through my life...thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Turkey Knowledge 101

Thanks to working so closely with the Bashaws I have learned a number of things over the last year and a half. I now know that my freezer will hold just around 275 pounds of turkeys!! I now know that my back is very strong thanks to my gardening work, and I can lift a lot of weight in one given day. I know that the legs love to pop out of the bags. I know that when working in the harvesting room to not be anywhere near Ann when she has the spray nozzle in her hands because she will accidentally hit you every time!! I now know to look for the radio cord that Sam stretched across the aisle way because on your first day you will come into the dark from the sun and you and the radio will go crashing across the hallway...quite an entrance for my first day. I now know to never ever let a turkey get over 50 pounds!! I now know not to send Danny on a 5 minute errand because if it is gutting, sorry eviscerating time, he will disappear for at least 30 minutes and I now know that I love the business. I know it must seem strange, but it does bring me closer to nature, to the gifts of protein that the Lord has provided us, and that they should be respected. Once again thank you for your support. The Bashaws have one slot for fresh turkeys for pick up next week, and there are some in the 18-19.5 lb. range in the freezer. Just drop me a line at if you still need a turkey...I promise you it will be the best you have ever tried. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Multiple Farm CSA by Rodale Institute

I thought I would share some of the research that I have read over the years that brought me to where we are at. Moonstruck Farms CSA is a multi-farm CSA bringing the best from your local farmers to our local community thus supporting the farmer, bolstering the economy and bringing the freshest organic produce to you our loyal customers.

We just found out that a local farm has Berkshire piglets!!! I wish I had not picked up the piglets I did last week, but if orders are filled for those three I am going to go and get some Berkshires. Berkshires are Heritage pigs known for their delicious flavor. If we keep a sow at Moonstruck in the future it will be Berkshires! I am so excited! Until now the nearest breeder was Santa Rosa.

We were able to check one more thing off the "TO DO" list around here at Moonstruck....a piglet nursery. Due to the "big" guys not being "BIG" enough yet and piglets were ready to be picked up for the next batch a nursery was mandated so now we have a new area with a new feeder and new water nipple (down lower to the ground for the little guys). It was a whirlwind weekend, but one less thing to get set up in livestock central now!

A big thank you to Brian Ranch Orchard for donating a large number of sheets of plywood, which will be used to build goat and lamb houses in livestock central, and Michael can't wait to take Thanksgiving week off so he can play with his new welder and build the new gate for the meat harvester truck to go through down in the Northeast corner of the property. The new welder will also create the shelters for the enlarged Nigerian Goat pens and future Dorper sheep pens. We want to be able to lock them up at night to protect them from the coyotes and if they don't remember to go to bed on time...than Molly gets to do her favorite thing...bossing the animals around!! Moonstruck signing out.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

More tomatoes????

Okay, the picture is just because I am showing Molly off...she is sitting there patiently waiting for Mike to play with her, but back to business, thank you everyone for your overwhelming support of the Bashaw Farm. They are down to approximately 25 turkeys and I think they will be gone by the end of the week. If you need one for Christmas you should get it now (I get one for every Christmas....the McDermotts love turkey for Christmas...they are not "ham" people and they eat a LOT....all big strapping Irish is a Triathlete, one Custom Construction Worker and my Black Belt and Farmer Husband, and a sister that is almost as active as them!!). The Bashaws only have only a few pork shares left too so I went ahead and picked up some more piglets so that shares will be available again in April for the CSA customers. There are two sides available for that batch too. We are scrambling to get caught up around here with getting the animals set up in their new pens, designing the poultry business takeover for next year and getting the lettuce going!! It is amazing to watch how the seed knows when to germinate around here. Lettuce is popping up everywhere outside, but inside the greenhouse the ground temps are still high so I am germinating more tomatoes than lettuce!! I guess I need to be a little more generous with the ventilation to get those ground temps down. Automatic vents are on the list for next year and that will make a "no brainer", and save me time. We found out that Edison did not have a lot of success in stopping the Dynocore wind mill appliecation and we are still on the list, but Edison went through the applications with a fine tooth comb and rejected over 80%....hopefully we were not one of them...say a prayer!! We are constantly learning around getting bored in that division, and it is fun playing "scientist" all the time. My next experiment....plastic rain gutter over the rows of Arugula and radishes outside to see if they receive enough sunlight, but shelter from the wind and extreme temperatures. Wish me luck....Moonstruck signing out!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Freeze coming....fried green tomatoes anybody?

Yes I did some more weightlifting tonight, 50 pounds worth of green tomatoes!! I did a lousy job on my tomatoes this year due to the rush to get them planted outside in July (way too cold in June) and the new greenhouse still being added to the schedule!! I can't wait to see how well they do next year!! The tomatoes did not do well in the peak season in the new greenhouse so I am going to put babies out in July in the new greenhouse and so they are just producing in October, and hopefully will pull us through until late December next year!! We will see how far we can push it with the new greenhouse. We do have a few plants in the greenhouses, but not a lot. We should pull a few pounds a week, but not much. The old greenhouse tomatoes did well in the center of the greenhouse so that is where they will all go next year twined up to the top purlin. They are all over the place now, but I stretched one up and it would have almost hit the 12 foot peak! The one thing I did discover is the bees would not go in the greenhouses during the peak temps, but now that it has been a nice and cozy 80-85 that is where they all have been! Well hopefully 10 or 20 pounds of these will ripen, but the rest are either for fried green tomatoes or to the chickens and pigs who always greatly appreciate the garden gifts!! Moonstruck signing out.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thanksgiving as most of you know is my favorite holiday. Great food, thanking the Lord for our blessings, and no stress over if we bought the right gift?? So as I am preparing for our Thanksgiving Meal at Church this year I thought of my customers and how grateful I am for your support and the other farmers have made similar comments so....THANK YOU from the McDermott family at Moonstruck, Felice at Brian Ranch, Meredith at Valhalla, Andy at Glen Cairn, Steve at Valle View and the Bashaw Family at Bashaw Meats for supporting your local farms. We truly appreciate all that you do taking the extra effort to buy from us. Happy Thanksgiving Season!!

Well just when I think I have hit the end of weightlifting season....tomatoes, winter squash, cucumbers, come the turkeys. My first big delivery is this week, and I am doing some extra sit ups to strengthen my back tonight!!!! Well, the light season is not too far away...Moonstruck Salad Mix. I must admit I made a mistake this year that I will have to change next year. I designated the new greenhouse for the cut lettuce and the old for head lettuce, but since the new one is so much hotter it was a mistake and the lettuce is just now starting to do an okay germination. It is amazing how seed knows when it is its time. I had some pots in the shade outside my kitchen filled with dill seed I was trying to trick into summer dill, and of course it did not do a thing until last week, and then every last seed germinated. Still amazes me, and so do my Fall roses. With no wind and just right temps they are beautiful, but soon to leave since the winds are already picking up today with the change in weather this week, but that just means fried green tomatoes and Moonstruck Salad Mix!! I love the change in seasons...Moonstruck signing out!!