Winter Projects

Did you miss us? We have had the farmers market the last two weeks and I meant to send updates at least whenever we had a market, but things get busy for me (the farmer’s wife) during this season. Not that Jeremy hasn’t been busy – there are lots of projects going on at the farm!

First up was replacing some roof panels in the packing shed. Some of the translucent panels had been damaged by hail so every time it rained, water dripped in. Not anymore! Also, at long last, the painting is all done in the pack shed!  We are well on our way to getting this building inspected and certified as a food warehouse.

Next up was a shade structure expansion. Having inoculated almost 5,000 logs earlier this year, we are going to need more space for them. Jeremy and Andy (our newest employee), got pipe, cut it to fit, and had it all laid out on Monday.

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Monday was a blissfully warm day (at least for upper Wisconsin in December!) and then the temperature plummeted overnight and the snow arrived. It was far too cold to work outside.  It felt warm enough by Thursday (or we here in the upper Midwest just acclimate that fast) to finish putting up the pipes. Another project done!

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Yet another project on the farm is converting the old inoculation shed/storage shed into employee housing.  For those of you who have been to the farm, you may have noticed this decrepit looking shed propped up on pallets right outside the door of the house.  We plan to move it eventually, but Jeremy and Andy are getting some work done on it first.

Making sure it’s all insulated:

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Taking out the overhead door and replacing it with a window and wall:

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The electrical is done so after the wall was completed they were able to turn on a space heater and get the shed nice and toasty.  This is basically our first foray into tiny houses and we’re pretty excited about it.  Jeremy picked up a small wood stove which will be used for heating it. We do have plenty of wood around to burn!

Lastly, the first load of logs was delivered today – so inoculations for 2018 will be starting soon. No rest for mushroom farmers!

Recipe: Shiitake Mushroom Omelette

I love omelettes. They are so versatile: you can put practically anything in them, you can eat them any time of the day, and they are pretty easy to make. This recipe calls for a stronger cheese like blue cheese. I surprised Jeremy this morning with a demand to make this for breakfast so I could take pictures of it – and all we had on hand was Swiss cheese. It was still a very tasty breakfast.

 

Shiitake Mushroom Omelette

Serves 1 or 2
3 ounces shiitake or other mushrooms
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 Tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp chives, rosemary, or other herbs
1/4 cup blue cheese, or other strong cheese
1/3 cup fresh greens such as arugula or chard, chopped.

Trim stems from mushrooms and save for soup stock. Heat 2 Tbsp of butter on medium low heat. Chop mushroom caps and saute for five minutes, or until soft and slightly browned. If mushroom look dry, add more butter to the pan. Set aside.

Add cream and chopped herbs to eggs and blend. Heat omelette pan on low heat and add 1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp butter. When the pan is hot, pour egg mixture into the pan so that the mixture extends to the edges of the pan. Top with crumbles of cheese, and add mushrooms and fresh greens to one half.

When the egg is cooked through, fold omelette in half and serve. Garnish with more herbs if you like. Serve with a green salad or slaw of kale, cabbage, and grated carrot. Enjoy!

Before and After

We had a lot of “before and after” on the farm this last week. As I mentioned last week, we got a start on turning all of that cut wood from last year into firewood. Jeremy thinks he got through maybe 1/3 of the pile of wood. There is a LOT of firewood!

 

Last weekend I was also working on that darn pack shed again. It’s SO CLOSE to being painted! But it’s not there yet. There are just a few bits at one end that are too high up for me to reach and we don’t have scaffolding. We have one ladder that is too tall and one that is too short!  So Jeremy has to finish those bits when he finds some free time. In between painting the pack shed and stacking firewood, I got to work painting a room in the upstairs of the farm house. We thought it could use some freshening and brightening up.

 

All this week Jeremy has had temporary folks coming by to help with the big fall project of moving the 5,000 logs in the woods up to the shade structure at the front of the farm. That is a bit of a long term project, though hopefully it will be wrapped up by the end of November if not sooner!  With the crew on hand Thursday, Jeremy decided it was time to take the shade fabric down from the shade structure. They’ll have to move the fabric on and off as they move more logs in and if the weather warms up to pick mushrooms. But with snow in the forecast, we don’t take any chances leaving the shade fabric up. We left it up once about 2-3 years ago and the weight of just a couple inches of snow from that early snowstorm bent the pipes of the shade structure!  We definitely don’t want to go through fixing that again.

 

We’ve got more to do to button up the farm for the winter and Jeremy is already contacting loggers looking for the new batch of 5,000 or so logs for inoculations to start in December.

I’m going to take a break from regular weekly email updates over the winter – you’ll just be hearing from us when there is a Winter Market happening. You won’t miss us too much though – Winter Markets are practically every other week now!

Recipe: Beef Burger with Shiitake

Beef Burger with Shiitake

Serves 4
4 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp butter or olive oil
3/4 to 1 pound ground beef
1/4 to 1/2 cup blue cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup onion
1/4 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
a little salt and pepper
4 hamburger buns
1 to 3 oz. salad mix, sprouts or shoots

Remove stems from mushrooms and save for soup stock in the freezer. Slice mushroom caps. Heat skillet or pan and add 2 Tbsp butter or olive oil, then add mushrooms when fat is hot. Saute until soft and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside and cover.  You can also saute the onions, separately, or use them raw – depending on your preference.

Prepare grill for burgers and buns. Blend cold ground meat with chopped onion, crumbled cheese, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper; then form into thick patties and place on hot grill. Flip patty once and grill on remaining side until done. You can also sear on cast iron skillet at medium-high heat. Remove burgers to platter and cover until ready to serve. While burgers are cooking, brush bun faces with butter or oil and grill or sear briefly, then set aside.

Place burgers on grilled buns, then top with sautéed mushrooms and salad mix, sprouts or shoots. Serve open face or top with remaining bun. Enjoy!

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Okay, our burgers never look perfect (all round like they were cut out by a giant cookie cutter), but they are fabulously tasty!

Recipe: Wild Rice and Shiitake Stew

Mmm, it is the season for soup and for wild rice. This recipe sounds amazing… but I have to be honest: I ran out of time this week and didn’t get to make a batch. I have no pictures to show you how yummy it looks!  You really can’t go wrong with wild rice, broth, and shiitakes though. So if you make this recipe, tell us how it turns out!

 

Wild Rice and Shiitake Stew

Serves 3 or 4
1 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms
or
8 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup wild rice
2 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks or small celery root, diced
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp. oregano
1-1/2 Tbsp. all-purpose Flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tsp. rosemary
1/2 cup milk or cream
1/2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt or to taste
pepper to taste
1/4 cup friesago or parmesan cheese, finely grated

If you’re using dried mushrooms, place them in a bowl and cover with water. Soak for at  least one hour, or until plump. Remove the mushrooms from the water (save the water) and pat dry.

Remove mushroom stems, chop caps and set aside. Place the wild rice in a wire strainer and rinse with cold water. Place the rice in a pot and add water so water is 3/4 of an inch above rice. Bring to rolling boil for ten minutes then simmer, covered, until the rice opens and becomes fluffy, or about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally while simmering.

While the rice cooks, heat butter or oil in dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and celery with salt and cook until the onions have softened and turned translucent, or about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and stir in the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are tender, or another 15-20 minutes.

Add the garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and stir until they become sticky and there is no more visible dry flour. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the wine and mushroom water (if you don’t have mushroom soaking water, you can put in about 1/2 cup of broth). Simmer the mixture until it has thickened and the liquid has reduced. Stir occasionally while simmering.

Add the bay leaf and stock. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes to meld the flavors. Add the rosemary, milk, and wild rice. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes, or until the soup has thickened to your liking. Stir in the vinegar, half the cheese, and pepper. Serve immediately with remaining cheese sprinkled on top.

 

adapted from recipe provided by Northern Lakes Wild Rice

Farmer of the Month

Last Sunday we had our Open House. It was fun to show the whole operation to a few folks, including “neighbors” from down the road in Rice Lake and a friend we hadn’t seen in years. After touring around checking out all the mushrooms and fruiting areas, we cooked mushroom brats over the fire, then we had apple crisp made with apples from the big grandfather apple tree on the farm. If you missed this open house, don’t worry – we’ll have one again some day!

I somehow failed to mention (all of last month) that Jeremy was “farmer of the month” at the Farm Table in Amery, Wisconsin. The Farm Table Foundation teaches classes and workshops, partners with and supports local farmers, and has a fabulous restaurant with very tasty food in downtown Amery.

Each month they have a featured farmer and Jeremy was the farmer for September.

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All month they have a couple of special recipes made up to highlight the products from the farm they’re featuring. For Jeremy they had made up a Mushroom Ragu Crostini and a Mushroom Paperdelle. Then towards the end of the month the farmer comes to the restaurant to hang out during dinner and answer questions.

I got to tag along, so I got to try the crostini. I wish I had tried the pasta dish too, because it looked amazing! It’s hard to describe what it’s like ordering a fancy dish from a fancy restaurant made with mushrooms that my husband picked and delivered himself. It’s pretty cool (but mostly it’s nice having someone else do the cooking!).

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After enjoying a taste of our mushrooms, we walked around with the Program Director, Brandie. She had put together a taste test tray of Jeremy’s log-grown shiitake and some “store-bought,” not-log-grown, crimini mushrooms.

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We walked around the restaurant handing out samples to diners to see if they could guess which was which. Well – everyone could! And everyone agreed the shiitake were better. We answered questions about our farm, growing mushrooms, inoculations, and all sorts of things.

It felt a little odd at first to walk up to people in a restaurant who were eating dinner and interrupt them. But no one seemed to mind and they were quite interested in finding out more. I really like this educational piece that the Farm Table Foundation does. It’s not just about making and serving really good local food; they really believe in educating people about food and agriculture too.

They’re probably on to a new featured farm now, but don’t let that stop you from taking a trip out there for a meal!

Recipe: Delicata squash and Mushroom butter

Okay, I can’t help myself: this is more of a “recipe” than a recipe. I had to use the quota marks! That’s because this is more of a serving suggestion than an actual recipe. I’m going to do my best to make this look and feel like an actual recipe, but it’s hard to do that when there are only a couple ingredients involved.

The first ingredient is delicata squash. Delicata is a kind of winter squash and it is absolutely amazing. They are relatively small and easy to work with and taste great. They’re in stores and farmers markets now, so make sure to pick some up soon if you’ve never tried one.

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The second ingredient is our very own mushroom butter. If you’re near the Twin Cities you can find our mushroom butters (and spreads!) either at the farmers market or at The Wedge Co-op. I chose our smoked shiitake butter for this. Jeremy starts with our shiitake and smokes them in a smoker. Then he cooks those up with shallots and herbs, adds butter and mixes it all up creating a fabulous smokey, mushroomy, herby butter.

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That’s pretty much it. So here is an official looking “recipe.” This dish is a great side to add to the rest of your dinner.

Delicata Squash and CTHM Mushroom Butter

Delicata squash (however many you need for your meal)
Jar of CTHM Smoked Shiitake Mushroom Butter
a little butter or olive oil

  1. Clean the squash in case there is any dirt still on it. Slice the squash in half and scrape out the seeds and guts. You can compost the insides, feed them to your chickens, or save the seeds and toast them just like pumpkin seeds.
  2. Spread a little bit of butter or olive oil on the squash. This just helps it not dry out while cooking and adds to the tasty flavor. Place the halves on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes check to see if the squash is done. It will be quite soft and creamy when done. If they aren’t done, check every 10 minutes or so until they’re done.
  4. Scoop a dollop of Mushroom Butter into the hot squash and enjoy!

Recipe: Mushroom Ragout over Creamy Polenta

Serves 4-6
1 lb. shiitake and/or oyster mushrooms – cleaned, stemmed & either chopped, sliced, or quartered (however you prefer)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
7 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano leaves
3/4 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste – optional
2 – 3  cups mushroom, vegetable, or chicken stock
1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 cups of whole milk
a pinch of ground mace
7/8 cup stone-ground polenta or course cornmeal
1/4 cup mascarpone or cream cheese
1/2 cup plus extra for garnish parmesan or Friesago cheese
1 Tbsp. chives

The Mushroom Ragout
Place a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, and add the olive oil and 2 Tbsp of butter. When the butter begins to foam, add the diced onion and sauté until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the mushrooms and another 3 tablespoons of butter and cook, stirring often, until they have released most of their liquid, about 10 minutes.

Add the thyme, oregano, diced tomatoes, tomato paste if desired, and 1 cup of stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced and the ragout has thickened, about 20 minutes. You can add another 1/4 cup or so of stock if the ragout seems to need it. Season with the salt and pepper, and stir in the parsley.

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The Creamy Polenta
Combine the 2 cups milk, 1 cup stock, 2 tablespoons butter, remaining salt, remaining pepper, and mace in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil on high heat. Whisk in the polenta and stir continuously until the mixture begins to thicken. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes, or until the polenta is creamy and tender and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. You can add up to another 1/2 cup of stock if the polenta seems to need more cooking and doesn’t feel creamy enough yet. When it’s cooked to the consistency you like, add the cheeses and stir to blend. Remove from the heat and stir for 3 minutes to cool the polenta.

Divide the Creamy Polenta among four to six shallow bowls, and top with mushroom ragout. Garnish with the parmesan and chives, and serve hot.

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adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s “Farm to Fork.”

Who’s your farmer?

It seems like you can read all about us on the farm website, but there isn’t actually that much about US – the actual farmers. Who the heck are we? Some of you know exactly who we are (hi family!) but others of you either signed up for our newsletter at a farmers market and didn’t meet either one of us, or you’re reading this on our website and you don’t know us (and didn’t even know we had a newsletter! That’s okay, you can sign up.)

So hello there! We are Aimee and Jeremy McAdams. Jeremy is your farmer and Aimee is… your farmer’s wife, sounding board, baker, house cleaner, nagger, and general voice of reason (and the newsletter writer). We work pretty well together even though, because of this farm, we don’t get to be together very much at the moment.

I (Aimee) grew up in Oregon and I have a background in libraries. I do like to organize things! I have crazy office skillz and do well in cubicle-land (though, full disclosure, due to working in nonprofits mostly, I’ve never actually worked in a cubicle). Jeremy grew up moving all around the country and then he became an architect. After a few years of that, he became a disillusioned former-architect, but he still has a great desire (and skill) in planning and designing things. He’s the only farmer I know of who uses AutoCAD to plan out chicken coop design, calculate how many logs can fit in a high tunnel, and double-check the best log stack configuration and log moving route in a shade structure.

As skilled as we are and as dedicated as we are, farming just doesn’t pay that much. That has long been the case; many farms have someone working off-farm to make extra money. We are no different in that respect, but we are a bit different in that my job is in Minneapolis and the farm is in Wisconsin. I live in Minneapolis and head off to work every day for my full time job. Jeremy lives at the farm, farming from sun-up to sun-down. We get to visit a day or two each week when Jeremy comes in for his weekly delivery and occasionally I make it out the farm. (My visits to the farm are so infrequent because I don’t drive.) And that’s the way it has been since we bought the farm in the spring of 2016. It’s not ideal but it’s what our finances can afford at the moment.

We are hoping to change that situation in the near future with me moving out to the farm. We are both super excited about this and all that it means for the farm. Not just a cleaner kitchen and the laundry getting done – but the possibility of a big garden, help for Jeremy with all the record keeping, and hopefully opening a small farm store in the old milk house! We have tons of plans. But it’s a while yet so we’re biding our time and making everything work the best we can for now.

That’s us – in a tiny nutshell! We hope you can make it out to visit the farm someday (like at our upcoming Open House) and you can get to know us even more!

Recipe: Mushroom Quiche

Quiche is one of my go to recipes. It takes a bit of prep work but it’s not too complicated and you can eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And brunch. At least, I do!

Our recipe is based on a quiche lorraine recipe from an old, falling apart copy of The New York Times cookbook. The original called for bacon also and I decided to throw some in because, hey, we have a TON of pork! This recipe will work pretty well in your standard store-bought frozen pie crust. If you have time to make your own pie crust and have a relatively deep pie plate, you probably will want an extra egg and another 1/2 cup of cream/milk.  Don’t worry if you end up with extra. I always end up with extra (depends on how many ingredients you pack into the crust) so I butter a small ramekin dish and toss in any leftover ingredients and egg mix for a crustless quiche. Yum!

Mushroom Quiche

Serves 6 to 8
3 to 6 oz. fresh oyster, nameko, or other mushrooms
or
1/2 oz. dried oyster, nameko, or other mushrooms
1 onion, thinly sliced or handful garlic tips, coarsely chopped
3 to 4 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
3/4 cup friesago or swiss cheese, cubed
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups milk or heavy cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. fish sauce (optional)

If using dried mushrooms, cover in hot water with a weight on top to keep them submerged. Soak for at least a half hour, then remove stems and chop caps to desired size. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line 8-inch pie plate with pastry and bake five minutes when oven gets up to temperature. After 5 minutes, pull the pastry crust out and set aside till you’re ready for it. It will probably have bubbled up (unless you used pie weights), but the bubbles will recede.

For fresh mushrooms, clean them if necessary. Remove the stems and save for soup stock. Heat 1 or 2 Tbsp. of butter or oil on medium heat. Chop or slice mushroom caps and sauté until soft and slightly browned, or about five minutes. If mushrooms look dry add more fat to the pan. Set mushrooms aside. Cook onion in remaining fat until onion is transparent. Spread onion, mushrooms, and cheese over the inside of the partly baked pastry.

Combine the eggs, milk, and seasoning and whisk until frothy. Add to the pie plate. Bake the pie fifteen minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. and bake until a knife inserted one inch from the pastry edge comes out clean – at least 10 minutes. You can also cook it longer till the egg is puffed up and nicely brown if you like it that way better, but you know it’s done when the knife comes out clean.

 

adapted from The New York Times Cookbook, edited by Craig Claiborne