From the Market Manager
Week 3 and we don’t have our usual supply of
asparagus due to the cold spring we’ve been having. I hope this means that the season will still be as long, but just not starting as early as it usually does.
Many of us are aware that asparagus from the Pioneer Valley is world renowned. The soil is so rich that it is perfect for growing asparagus. Did you know that white asparagus is regular asparagus that has been kept from getting sun? Because of the extra labor involved, it’s more expensive.
Asparagus, like many other vegetables, is very versatile. It can be steamed, stir-fried, roasted, made into soup, eaten hot, room temperature, or cold. If you add lemon juice to mayonnaise, you can have a quick dressing to put over cold spears.
Things to Know About Eggs
Shell color is determined by the breed of hen and does not contribute to quality, nutrients, flavor, or cooking characteristics. White-shelled eggs are produced by hens with white feathers; brown-shelled eggs are produced by hens with red feathers and red ear lobes.
In New England, brown-feathered hens such as the Rhode Island Red and its hybrids are hearty birds for our climate. Years ago there was an advertising campaign that said “Brown eggs are local eggs, and local eggs are fresh.”
A large egg weighs 2 ounces. Most recipes for baked dishes such as custards and cakes are based on the use of large eggs.
The average hen requires 24 to 26 hours to produce an egg. They produce all year but shorter days result in lower productivity. Many farmers use lighting systems to boost egg production during winter months.
When poached or fried, the fresher the egg, the more it will hold its shape rather than spread out in the pan. On the other hand, hard-cooked eggs are easier to peel when at least a week old.
Eggshells are porous and therefore can lose flavor and moisture or pick up strong odors if left uncovered in the refrigerator. It’s best to keep them in their original cartons which keep them completely covered.
About Egg Management Systems
In Cage is the primary management system for large scale producers. Flock sizes are so massive (several hundred thousand to more than a million) that producers need to keep birds confined for efficiency. Sequestering birds offers the best protection from bio-hazards; avian influenza tops the list today. It also protects birds from their own flock. When crowded, hens become violent and can peck each other to death.
Cage Free generally means that birds are allowed to roam out of their cages. Large flock sizes necessitate that they remain enclosed (indoors) for bio-hazard concerns. However, they have fresh air, natural light, and room for exercise because they are free-roaming. Certified Organic adheres to the cage-free method, especially with large flocks.
Free Range means that birds have access to the outdoors. This system has obvious benefits but also presents is own bio-hazards. Farmers maintain constant vigilance over predators, particular coyote, fox, fisher cats and hawks. Flock sizes typically are small—a few hundred birds at most—allowing the farmer to watch for disease among the flock and isolate sick birds.
Pasture Fed is another form of free range. Diets consist of grain feed, but birds are also put out to pasture for food. Because birds can quickly deplete the soil, it is necessary to rotate them around the land. This is done a number of ways. Mobile coops with electric fencing and a grid system are two examples. Free-range and pasture fed eggs are considered specialty products from artisan producers and therefor command a higher price than commercial eggs.
Recipe—Maple Walnut Pound Cake
1 ¾ cups coarsely chopped walnuts (about 6 oz.)
2 ¼ cups cake flour (if using all-purpose flour, put 2 T
corn starch in cup then fill with flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 ¼ cup room temperature butter, unsalted
1 ¼ cups sugar
5 large eggs
½ cup pure maple syrup (use dark if possible)
¾ tsp. maple flavoring
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup unsalted butter
2T whipping cream or light cream or ½ & ½
2 T maple syrup
6T powdered sugar, sifted
12 walnut halves
Cream butter with sugar, add eggs one at a time, then maple syrup, then dry ingredients, then walnuts and extracts. Put into greased tube pan or 2 9x5x3” loaf pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour in tube pan, loaf pan takes less time.
For glaze, melt butter, cream and syrup together,remove from heat. Add powdered sugar and beat until blended. Let stand about 15 minutes until thickened then drizzle over cake. Decorate with walnut halves.
Imagine a World Without Honey Bees
Did you know that honey bees pollinate more than 100 different crops? They pollinate fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. But the honey bee population in the West has declined in recent years.
You can help. Plant a garden with bee-friendly plants in your backyard. Lavender. Glory bushes, rosemary, violets and sunflowers are just some of the flowers and plants that attract honey bees. Bees are attracted to most flowering plants, and are especially fond of blue and yellow flowers. Plant varieties so that you have blooms throughout the growing season. More than 1/4th of the human diet is derived from plants pollinated by honey bees. Be careful with any sprays that you use in your yard also. Make sure they are safe for bees.
Consider a Farm Vacation
My children are all in their 50s. When they were young,we took them to Rockhouse Mountain Farm in Eaton Center, NH for vacation; we did that twice. We lived in New Hampshire, so it was close. My husband died a few months after that second vacation, so we didn’t go back. It was a terrific vacation. Rockhouse had horses, a lake down the road, a separate bunkhouse for older children, ad all kinds of activities.
There are many other farms that host families. I strongly recommend this type of vacation. It’s low key, not expensive, and different. Go to the Internet and look for farm vacations. You most likely won’t have to travel far to have a great vacation.
You may be the victim of identity theft and you don’t even know it. Identify thieves may obtain pieces of your personal information and use it without your knowledge to open bank accounts, credit cards, and phone services in your name. Personal information that they steal may include your bank and credit card numbers, Social Security number, driver’s license, name, and address.
Identify theft victims are often unaware their identity was stolen until they receive enormous credit card bills, debt collectors begin calling, or they are denied credit.
Under state and federal law, victims are not generally responsible for more than $50 of the unauthorized charges on their credit cards, but impact on their credit histories can be staggering.
Where do Identify Thieves Obtain Personal Information?
• Bank statements
• Discarded credit card & ATM receipts
• Trash dumpsters
• Pre-approved credit card applications
• Stolen mail
• Theft of a wallet or purse that contains credit cards, social security card, or driver’s license
• Unsecured Internet web sites
• Sham telemarketing calls
• Sham emails and Internet web sites
• Computer viruses and spyware
• Computer software found on public access computers or surreptitiously installed on home computers that log your keystrokes.
Manage your personal information
Don’t routinely carry your Social Security card or birth certificate in your wallet or purse.
Carry only those credit cards you use regularly and cancel all unused credit cards.
Keep an accurate list of all credit cards and bank accounts including the name, mailing address and telephone number of the creditor, the account number, and expiration date. Update the list regularly and keep it in a secure place.
Closely review all credit card and bank statements each month to detect unusual activity or unauthorized charges.
Follow us on Facebook for more updates!