Newsletter No. 2

IMG_3307Well, the Common Ground Country Fair has come and gone and we are simply reeling with inspiration and excitement from talking to so many passionate, apple-minded folks. As usual, there was a massive turnout, and we were thankful to have a larger space this year to accommodate the ever-growing interest in heirloom apples. Many thanks to those who stopped by our apple booth to marvel at the numerous heritage varieties that were traditionally found (and still can be, with some scouting around) in Maine orchards. We enjoyed talking apples with everyone and were truly impressed by the number of CSA members who stopped by to deliver their rave reviews of last week's share. For those who attended the apple tastings, you'll notice some newly-familiar varieties in this week's installment. And for those who couldn't make the trek to the fair, you'll still find an adventure in each of your CSA bags, not to mention there will be plenty of opportunities to catch one of John's workshops this fall.

fall 104Apple Tasting and Other Upcoming Events

Join us for an evening of apples, cheese and local hard cider!

On Thursday, Oct. 10th, from 5-7 pm Out on a Limb CSA will be teaming up with Vinolio and Eat More Cheese in Belfast for an apple, cheese and cider tasting. Come sample different cheese and apple pairings, taste apples that aren't in your CSA share, and learn more about the various types of cider being made in Maine. There will be apples, cheese, cider, olive oil and vinegar for sale as well. Tasting will be held at Vinolio, 74 Main Street, Belfast.

For those of you in the Portland area there will be two chances to learn more about and taste heirloom apples in the next few weeks. John will be speaking:

Thursday, September 26 at 7pm - Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress St., Portland.

Friday, October 11, 4-6pm - Rosemont Produce Company, 5 Commercial St., Portland.

We hope to see you at these events!

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This week's picks:

Maiden Blush

Sharon – new!

St. Edmund's Russet

St. Lawrence

Wealthy

Whitney Crab

Your share this week contains several fair favorites, as well as another new variety this year. St. Edmund's Russet is a highly-flavored dessert apple and tends to be a perennial winner in the apple tastings, and the sprightly Whitney Crabapple managed to snag a third place this year. Maiden Blush, which we last offered in 2010, was discovered in the 1700's so it is a tried and true favorite for cooking and fresh eating. We are offering Sharon for the first time. It is one of the many Mac crosses that has been around for a long time but is not grown much commercially. We are just experimenting with it ourselves. Let us know what you think.

And before you open your bags of apples, we think it is worth a moment to comment on the consequences of a rainy summer. On the plus side, the apples are huge. The Wealthies in your share are the biggest Wealthies we have ever seen; they look more like Pound Sweet. And some of the usually tiny Whitney Crabs are way too large to fit in a canning jar; you'll just have to eat them fresh. On the flip side, the many days of rain created an environment that was perfect for the growth of certain fungi that affect apples. You may notice on the skin of some fruit, small raised brown or black spots (scab) or a transparent, black haze (sooty blotch). Scab can cover the whole fruit and make it inedible, but the amount of scab and sooty blotch on the fruit you receive should not affect either the taste or the quality of the apples. And they are not bad for you or your family.

Our apples come to you straight from the tree, so, as with all fresh produce, please be sure to wash them thoroughly before eating. Unless otherwise specified, the apples are grown using Integrated Pest Management by the orchards we collaborate with throughout Maine.

Meet this year's crew! That's Radar the collie down in front. L-R are John Paul, Emily, Abbey, Cammy, and John. (Pssst! Guess who's the best apple picker on the crew?)

Out on a Limb Crew Member Spotlight

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John Paul Rietz

John Paul grew up in Columbus, Ohio, a sprawling metropolitan area surrounded by large-scale corn and soy farms. When he moved to rural New England, it became clear what he was missing. He spent a year volunteering for a small organic farm in central Massachusetts, and fell in love with agricultural life. He went on to get a sustainable agriculture degree at Warren Wilson College, but most wanted to learn subsistence/homestead agriculture. That brought him to Maine--specifically, Palermo--for an apprenticeship with John and Cammy in 2010. He couldn't help but catch the apple "bug," so he returned in 2011 to focus on apple pest and disease management, and joined the OOAL crew that Fall. John Paul is glad to be back for the 2013 season because harvesting apples is one of his favorite sports. His favorite apple variety is whichever one he happens to be eating at the moment.

Emily Skrobis

Emily grew up in a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where, being an enthusiastic eater and cook, she felt that the notion of creating a dish “from scratch” (i.e. not using a prepackaged mix) never satisfied her yearning to make food from the very beginning of the process. After a few twists and turns, she found herself hopping around New England, working on various farms and learning all she could about small-scale agriculture and homesteading, which included assisting with the OOAL CSA in 2010. Her education has also consisted of apprenticeships relating to maple sugaring, beekeeping, crafting furniture mostly using hand tools, and boat-building. She enjoys living an agrarian lifestyle and having her work largely divided by the seasons: spring for grafting fruit trees, summer for growing vegetables, fall for the harvest and food preservation, and winter for knitting and woodworking. Emily loves Black Oxford apples, singing out into the starry night sky, cooking with the freshest ingredients possible, and dancing to Bruce Springsteen in the kitchen while baking her delectable fruit bars.

Emily and John Paul are currently working on launching a business producing apple molasses, a purely apple-based sweetener.

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Fresh From the Palermo Test Kitchen, by Cammy Watts

As promised, here is another recipe from my new favorite cookbook, "Wild Flavors" by my friend Didi Emmons. I made this with the Gravenstein apples in the last share, and the dinner crowd loved it. Didi recommends serving it over quinoa or as a bed for pork chops. I served it on cooked millet, something I have recently moved from my "makes me gag" category to my "can't get enough of this" category. (Beets and brussels sprouts also made this move.) I liked the color contrast between the yellow grain and the bright green kale leaves. Although Didi prefers using Lacinato kale in this recipe, any kale will work as long as you remove the midribs. Collard greens are good too.

This recipe has inspired me to try a simpler version when I want a quick meal from the garden. I sauté apples in a bit of butter till they are slightly brown and tender. Then I sauté kale and garlic in another pan in olive oil. Just a minute or two before the kale is cooked through, I push the kale to one side of the pan and add some balsamic vinegar in the empty space so that it can bubble and thicken on its own. When it is reduced in half, I stir it into the greens, add a sprinkle of salt, and top with the apples. It makes a sweet/savory dish that is ready in minutes.

Kale with Apples, Raisins, Feta and Walnuts From "Wild Flavors" by Didi Emmons

(Serves 3)

Ingredients:

1-2 TBS olive oil 1 onion - thinly sliced 1 large tart apple (Maiden Blush, St. Lawrence, Wealthy), skin-on and diced 8 cups kale - thinly sliced 1/4 cup raisins, currents or dried cranberries 3 garlic cloves - minced 1 1/2 TBS balsamic vinegar 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans - toasted 2-3 TBS feta cheese - crumbled 1/2 tsp smoked paprika or 1 tsp adobo sauce from canned chipotles (optional) salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Directions:

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, and toast in the oven for 7-8 minutes until brown. Stir at least once. It is easy to burn them, so keep an eye on them.

2. Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions, and cook, stirring every few minutes for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and add the apple. The onions will start sticking to the pan; that's ok since it is good to let them brown, but stir them before they burn. Cook 10 minutes more until the onions are quite brown.

3. Add the kale, raisins, garlic and 3/4 cup water. Turn the heat to high, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

4. Add the vinegar, and continue to cook, stirring periodically until the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the nuts and feta and paprika. Stir well and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Are there any blackberries left on your bushes? I found two cups of berries that had been overlooked during the picking frenzy of August so I reduced the pie size by a third and baked it in a smaller pie plate - just perfect for the Dairy-free crust I wanted to try. The apple flavor was a bit lost in the blackberries so this would probably work if you only had a cup of berries and increased the apples by a cup. The texture was great, the taste was delightful and no complaints about the beautiful purple color of the filling. We topped it of with a scoop of pistachio ice cream from John's Ice Cream in Liberty. Who could argue with that?

Logging Road Blackberry Apple Pie from "Apple Pie" by Ken Haedrich

(Serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

1 double pie crust of your choice (refrigerated)

Filling:

3 cups fresh or frozen blackberries 1/2 cup plus 2 TBS sugar 2 tablespoons lemon juice 6 cups pie apples - cored, peeled and sliced 2 1/2 - 3 TBS cornstarch 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Glaze (optional):

milk sugar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

1. Prepare the crust, and refrigerate it till firm enough to roll. Roll out the bottom crust, and gently place it in a 9-inch, deep dish pie pan. Put it back in the refrigerator.

2. Place the blackberries in a large bowl, and add 1/2 cup sugar and the lemon juice. Crush the berries with a a potato masher until they are well mashed but still have a bit of texture.

3. Add the apples to the crushed berries, and toss well. Mix the remaining 2 TBS of sugar with the cornstarch; add the larger amount of cornstarch if you are going to be eating the pie while it is warm. Add the cornstarch and sugar and the nutmeg to the fruit, and mix till it is evenly distributed.

4. Turn the filling into the pie shell, and smooth the top. Lightly moisten the rim of the pie shell.

5. Roll out the remaining half of the dough, and cover the filling. Press the two crusts together along the edges. Trim the edges, leaving 1/2 inch of crust. Use this to sculpt the edges. Cut several vent holes in the crust, including a few near the outside edge so you can check the juices as it cooks.

6. If you wish to glaze the pie, brush the top with a little milk and sprinkle on some sugar.

7. Put the pie on the center oven rack, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and place the pie on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil. Reduce heat to 375 degrees, and place the pie back in the oven. Bake 35-40 minutes more, until the top is golden brown and the juices are bubbling through the steam vents.

8. Transfer to a cooling rack. Let it cool for a few minutes before serving.

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I tried this pie crust at the urging of a friend who does not eat dairy. I am not the best pie crust maker, but it came out quite flaky and light. I could taste the coconut oil on the first bite, and then I lost it in the flavor of the blackberry-apple pie. John, however, who doesn't like coconut was not as enthusiastic about the crust as he thought he could taste the coconut all the way though his piece. When I invited my friend to come try it, he informed me that he had just given up gluten too. So I had to eat three pieces myself.

Never Fail (Dairy-Free) Pie Crust From the Joyful Pantry Blog

Makes two 8″ pies

This crust is dependable and delicious. It will flake beneath your fork yet keep a tenderly crisp bottom— not too hard and not too soft. Although the coconut oil should work well straight out of the fridge or a cold cupboard, you may have to let it sit on the counter for ten minutes or so if it is too cold to be workable. Conversely, if the kitchen is warm and the dough is overly sticky, you may have to place it in the fridge for ten minutes to let it firm up a bit before attempting to roll it out. It is possible to make this stretch to cover two 9″ pans, but I like the extra wiggle room that using 8″ pans gives me.

Ingredients: 3/4 C coconut oil 2 C unbleached, all-purpose flour 1 t salt 5-6 T ice cold water

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Combine the flour and salt. You can do this by hand or with a food processor.

Cut in the coconut oil until it is mixed through the flour in pea-size pieces.

Stir in the water, mixing just until combined. Separate the dough into two equal portions and pat each into a flat, round disc.

On a floured surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll out one of the discs until about half the size of your pie pan. Using a spatula, carefully separate the dough from the counter, working around in a circle to make sure none of the dough is sticking to the surface below. Flip the dough. Continue to roll out until it is large enough to fill the pie pan with about 1″ overlap on all sides.

Again use the spatula to carefully separate the dough from the countertop. Then lift the crust off the counter and place in the pan. Press it down against the bottom and sides and crimp the edges. Prick the bottom with a fork about 5 or 6 times.

After filling the pie with your favorite pie filling, roll out the top crust and lay it over the top of the pie. Cut off any extra. Dab a bit of water on the edges and crimp together.

Cut vent holes in the top of the pie and cook as directed.

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That's it for week two! As always, if you have any comments, recipes, (hmm... crazy apple dreams?) don't hesitate to get in touch at csa.outonalimb@gmail.com. We love hearing your feedback!