News and Blog
We are grateful for all the enthusiasm that surrounds the local food movement and our CSA in the Barrington and Chicago areas! We only wish we could supply to everyone! Due to a wonderful rate of customer return, we had very few shares left to sell as we opened our CSA again to the public last friday. We were sold out within a couple of hours and now we are taking names for our waitlist in the case of changed minds. Please contact Jessica@gentleman-farmer.com to add your name to the waitlist for 2013. We appreicate your understanding!
Confession time: growing up, I did not like tomatoes. And when I say, “growing up,” I mean until I was well into my 20s; and I was never a picky eater. To make matters worse, I grew up in the south on a small farm – where we had the best selection of tomatoes in the world... or so everyone told me. Looking back, I remember my family having mostly beefsteak-type tomatoes, all about the same size, round and orange-ish/red in color. No doubt they were great – but it wasn’t until I started to discover the many other varieties of tomatoes that I began to find my favorites and fall in love.
Now, I’ve not only discovered the many different varieties and colors of tomatoes, but I’ve also learned many creative ways to enjoy them in recipes and juices that have completely changed my relationship to these lovely fruits. And this is a good thing, because the health advantages offered by tomatoes make them a key ingredient to disease prevention, longevity and better quality of life. There could be no better time to celebrate the tomato, as it’s one crop that hasn’t suffered greatly from this year’s unusual heat and drought and we’re just now getting into peak season for these amazing fruits!
You may already know that tomatoes top the charts in terms of vitamin C content, as well as being a great source of Vitamins A & K, folate and potassium. Tomatoes even offer a good source of fiber, protein and iron, all for very low calories or fat. Their high-water content means that you can take advantage of the tomato’s natural hydrating effect by eating them raw on a hot, dry summer day. And if you want to really tap into the cancer-preventative and bone health benefits of the tomato’s lycopene content, be sure to cook some of your tomatoes with a little bit of added fat to help your body access and absorb it.
Shoulda Hadda Tomato-Veggie Juice! (recipe)
Pull out the juicer for an energizing and surprisingly filling health tonic!
Juice about 2 handfuls of tomatoes (any variety) with 1 small sweet pepper (seeds removed), ½ small cucumber, 2 stalks of celery, ½ bunch of parsley and 1 clove garlic (optional). Serve over ice with a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime. If desired, add a little spicy paprika or cayenne, salt and/or black pepper.
Sauce it Up!
Did you know that canned tomatoes are one of the most insidious sources of BPA (a plastic-based, endocrine-disrupting toxin) in our diets? Take advantage of the bounty of the season by making your own tomato sauce – and make some extra to can or freeze for the winter! Simply simmer diced tomatoes with fresh herbs, garlic and a little oil for 30-45 minutes until thickened and season to taste.
So, what’s so great about Cabbage anyway? Cabbage made it to the all-star list of foods by the American Cancer Society as a cancer-preventing food. Not only is it packed with antioxidants, (especially the red-purple varieties) but it’s loaded with Vitamins A, C, K and many B vitamins, folic acid and important minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium.
There’s something about the appearance of zucchini at the farmers’ market that signals the arrival of summer to me. Of course, this year in Chicago, we haven’t needed much of a reminder that Summer not only arrived, but came a bit early this year. Zucchini is one of those gems of the garden that is SO incredibly versatile, that it’s easy to come up with new ways to love it, week after week. And not only is it versatile in a culinary sense, but it’s fast becoming recognized as offering a very wide range of health benefits as well.
Historically, zucchini and other summer squashes haven’t been studied much for their health benefits compared to other more obvious health food stars. It’s been long-praised for being a good source of popular antioxidants like Vitamin C, Vitamin A (through Alpha Carotene), and manganese. Summer squashes also sport high levels of other antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin – both of which offer excellent health boosting benefits for the eyes as we age.
Where zucchini and other summer squash are just starting to get some notice is in their high levels of nutrients known to benefit blood sugar balance. In our rising epidemic of diabetes and other insulin and blood sugar related disorders, identifying foods that can not only help protect against the onset of type 2 diabetes but also support the body in dealing with diabetes-related problems, is a big deal. Although more research is needed to fully connect the dots, the preliminary findings suggest that the combination of B-complex vitamins, choline, zinc and magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids and high fiber naturally found in summer squash, create a recipe that supports healthy metabolism of sugar and helps keep insulin metabolism and blood sugar levels in balance. In addition to this is the presence of polysaccharide fibers like pectin that have special benefits for blood sugar regulation.
Additional research is also delving into the anti-inflammatory properties of zucchini, as well as protective benefits against certain cancers. So, now that you have a strong “Why” for enjoying your zucchini, making them delicious is the easy part!
- Light, Attractive Appetizer: slice zucchini crosswise into ¼ inch discs and use in place of crackers as you top with your favorites: soft herb-infused cheese with tomato, or a pesto spread with chopped kalamata olives, or hummus and diced, roasted red peppers.
- Summer Pasta Substitute: use a vegetable peeler to slice whole zucchini into thin ribbon-like strips. Toss with your favorite pasta sauce immediately before serving. *Note, salty sauce will soften zucchini and pull out moisture – adding water to your sauce. Use less liquid in your sauce, or eat immediately, to avoid “soupy pasta”
- Simple and Steamy – better for nutrient retention than boiling or microwaving, simple steamed sliced or diced zucchini with some fresh herbs is an excellent topper for tacos, sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes, baked potatoes or served on top of rice.
- Slice lengthwise into ¼ to ½ inch thick pieces. Marinate in mixture of Grape seed Oil, salt, pepper and fresh herbs. Add a touch of mustard or a squeeze of lemon for an added zip. Grill slices on a Med-Hot grill, just long enough to make pretty grill marks and not overcook the squash. Serve as is, or Caprese-Style with mozzarella cheese, fresh tomato slices and basil, drizzled with olive oil and red wine vinegar.
After my last visit to The Gentleman Farmer I was so taken with the Chickens! When I told a friend how beautiful they were, the response was, “Are chickens beautiful?” Before this visit, I didn’t particularly think so, but these girls were so obviously happy and healthy that they were radiating!
Many folks now know that the bad press eggs received several years ago relating to cholesterol problems have been disproven. But what is perhaps less widely known, is the superior health benefits of eggs that come from chickens who are truly free-range.
In 2007, Mother Earth News completed nutritional testing on eggs from 14 flocks around the country that were allowed to range freely on pasture. When compared with the official egg nutrient data from the USDA for “conventional” factory-farmed eggs, these pasture-raised hen eggs had 1/3 less cholesterol, ¼ less saturated fat, 2/3 more Vitamin A, 2 times more Omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more Vitamin E and 7 times more Beta Carotene. Just recently, they also discovered 4 to 6 as much Vitamin D content in these eggs.
Unfortunately, buying eggs at the grocery store with the USDA Certified Organic label is NOT enough to insure you’re getting this level of quality, nutrition and care. This very informative (and sad) video describes the loop-holes used by many large scale farms to label their eggs as organic when they clearly are not (click here for video). This is why I feel so good supporting local, family farmers like those at The Gentleman Farmer who have many challenges competing with corporate farms. This Egg Rating Chart is very helpful if you do find yourself needing to buy eggs from someone other than The Gentleman Farmer or your local farmer’s market (click here for Egg Scorecard).
Oh – but here’s the BEST part: not only are these Happy Chicken Eggs better for you, but they taste worlds better than the grocery store version. So, let’s get in the kitchen, shall we? Take eggs beyond breakfast for a fast and easy weeknight dinner that’s high in quality protein. The bonus is that they go great with a variety of leafy green vegetables which are often the early crops and most abundant in your CSA box throughout the season. Serve this veggie frittata with a slice of whole grain toast, fresh fruit and/or tomato slices.
6 farm fresh eggs, beaten well
1 TBSP grape seed oil or unsalted butter
2 handfuls washed and chopped leafy greens (Spinach, Kale, Swiss Chard)
1-2 TBSP fresh herbs, minced (optional – use your favorite. I suggest Thyme.)
1 clove Garlic, minced or ¼ cup chopped Onion
1 handful chopped mushrooms (shitake is best option)
Preheat oven to 425F. Heat butter or oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over Med-High heat. Add garlic or onion, and sauté briefly (about 1 minute) to flavor the oil. Add mushrooms and a dash of salt. Sauté about 1 minute more and add greens, herbs and another dash of salt. Gently stir-fry until greens are wilted and softened.
Turn heat to High, and work contents of skillet to be equally distributed across bottom. Gently pour in eggs and do not stir. Allow mixture to cook just about a minute (searing the eggs in the pan) before transferring to oven. Allow Frittata to bake until eggs are set (15-25 minutes depending size of pan and depth of ingredients)
If desired, you can brown the top slightly under the broiler, with or without a sprinkle of cheese, just before serving. For a decorative and nutritional boost, garnish with minced parsley, dill or cilantro.
Its a slow start out of the gate this season as we attend our first Logan Sq Market today with eggs but no produce. This time last year it was just the opposite with plenty of fresh greens and yet our hens were still a couple of months away yet from laying.
Our new location, while robust in space has not been robust in fertility. Many of our seedlings that were on schedule in the greenhouse, halted their growth once they were transplanted in the field-- which lacked in phosphorus and nitrogen-- essential minerals for our plants.
That compounded by the dry spell which finally broke late last week, slowed our plant growth right down. Having walked the field late last evening the crops are slowly starting to come around: fennel, kale, kohlrabi, arugula, mixed leaf lettuces, head lettuce, radishes etc... are all starting to look happier.
Farming continues to be an adventure. And a very humbling job.
Other progress on the farm includes the beginning of building out a new washing/packing station as well as a new cold room to store our freshly harvested veg. Last year we relied on our refrigeration truck to store our produce. Although not ideal and far from perfect, it did the job. We're looking forward to having a walk in cold room that will be far more efficient!
Tomatoes, potatoes, summer and winter squashes, onions, leeks, and sprouts are all in the ground. This year we are planning to grow our tomatoes under hoops and up lattice. We have a few heirlooms as well as black cherry toms and some nice beef tomatoes to expect. In the same plot, which is just uphill from the main field, we plan to plant the rest of our nightshades-- eggplants, tomatillos and okra to name a few and new to our harvest this year will be some ground cherries or husk cherries. Lots to look forward to!
Also we've discovered that one of our chickens is indeed a rooster! Dominic was working out in the field the other day and heard a very clear "cock a doodle doo". Turns out our one "exotic" chicken that was thrown in for good measure from our sellers happens to be a guy! So now there's no question as to who will rule the roost!
For those of you who are visiting us at the markets-- we appreciate your patience! And as always, we appreciate your support!
I am thrilled to be kicking off another great season with the Gentleman Farmer this year and I’m looking forward to an exciting adventure through the freshest produce around and all the culinary delights we can create with them!
This year, in addition to highlighting some of the great nutrition facts about the “Bounty in your Boxes” from week to week, we’re going to explore the role these foods play in your overall diet and how you define what that is for yourself. Whether you are striving to eat a more plant-based diet, looking for ways to increase quality protein and limit carbohydrates, or just want to eat more locally sourced foods in general, you’ll learn delicious ways to incorporate this farm-fresh food into your ideal diet.
And to keep things exciting, we’ll also be having a little Locavore Challenge this summer. All Gentleman Farmer readers and CSA members will have a chance to stretch your creativity in the kitchen and see just how “local” you can eat by sourcing an entire meal using only ingredients from within a 100-mile radius of your home. One lucky winner will receive a Free Mini-Coaching Strategy session with me valued at $50. Keep reading this summer for more details on the challenge and how and when you can participate.
As owner of Fresh Ground Health and Holistic Health Coach in Chicago, I help men and women make healthier food choices that are easy to prepare and easy to love, without feeling restricted or deprived. My clients experience increased energy, lower blood pressure, more balanced hormonal health, improved skin texture and gradual weight loss as they learn to incorporate new food and lifestyle choices as part of a unique, personalized approach to living healthfully.
My approach to living healthfully is based on two main principles. One, that ideal diets are bio-individual, meaning that no one diet is right for everyone and that everyone should learn how to determine their uniquely ideal way to eat. Two, that the foundation for every healthy diet is access to fresh, organically grown produce which forms the corner stone for nourishment and nutritional healing. To that end, I can think of no better collaboration of ideas and resources than this one, with the Gentleman Farmer. Thanks for bringing me back for another season!
We are looking forward to starting our 2012 season with your CSA subscriptions!
We hope all of you have had a wonderful holiday season and have jump started your new year with happiness and health!
As you begin to explore the site and have a look at our CSA offerings this year, please keep in mind that we have decided to forego on-line credit card processing this year. We hope this does not inconvenience you to much! You can still place your subscription on-line but then you just need to send a check our way to complete the process. All the details are where you need them, when you need them as you go through the check-out. Thank you for your understanding!
On the home front....We've been experimenting with eating mostly veggie based meals these last couple of weeks and have been exploring all the possibilities that vegetables can provide!
Our kids gobbled down a fantastic ratatouille that we found in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's new book The River Cottage Every Day Veg cookbook. I was surprised that even our 13 month old Ollie didn't object to the texture of the roasted vegetables. A testament to the tastiness!