Here we are coming to the end of the Wisconsin growing season and Local Choice CSA. Every week since June I have been writing the Local Choice blog and today I would like to introduce myself and my farm. I’m Bonnie Warndahl and my husband Josh and I own and run Winnowburrow Farm & Florals. We’ve been in the area now for three-and-a-half years after moving from St. Paul, and just this past March we were, (thankfully), finally able to purchase our own farm, just north of Colfax, WI in Grant Township.
Over the years we’ve grown a variety of things, nearly always falling into the category of “Heirloom”, but in the last year we’ve really been dialing in our niche markets and working toward a focus on some select specialty crops. My passion for flowers and creativity has really driven me toward cut flowers and floral design. In the last two years I have begun offering full-service floral design for weddings and events and next year I intend to launch a floral subscription with lots of options for local flower-lovers to enjoy fresh cut blooms all season long.
In addition to cut flowers, we also grow culinary herbs and gourmet mushrooms, including shiitake, wine cap and oyster mushrooms and plant over 20 varieties of Heirloom dried beans for restaurant sales. The mushroom production tends to rest on the shoulder seasons of spring and fall, giving us a little extra income before the growing season really fires up and after the field-grown crops have said goodbye for the year. The bean crop works nicely with the flowers, as once they get planted in late May/early June they require minimal upkeep until harvest time begins in fall.
As the flower season is wrapping up, all of those beans we planted in June are starting to dry on the vine. From approximately early September until as late as November much of our energy goes into harvesting and threshing pounds and pounds of beautiful, gem-like Heirloom beans. Rather than hand-picking each bean – which would be very time consuming at the scale we are now producing – we cut the entire plant and toss it into our new Grain Bike; a bicycle powered thresher. Thanks to the Fund Our Foodshed Grant that we were awarded this spring by the Menomonie Market Food Co-op, we were able to build this invaluable contraption which threshes out beans and other small grains in a fraction of the time it takes to hand thresh. The belt connecting the bike to the thresher turns a bar inside the hopper which flails chains to break the beans out of their pods. The beans fall through a screen in the bottom, while most of the spent pods and dried plant matter are removed by hand. Once the beans are threshed we “clean” them by blasting them with an air compressor to blow away all the dust and chaff. As part of the grant we were also able to purchase a large dehumidifier to finish drying the beans once they are threshed out so they don’t mold in storage. In 2020 and beyond it is our goal to continue to increase our production of dried Heirloom beans so that we can make them available to local consumers via on-farm purchase, farmers market and eventually retail.
When Josh and I started our farm journey nearly five years ago it was always with the intent of living a sustainable lifestyle, protecting natural resources and giving back, both to the land and to our community. We put a lot of emphasis on growing out rare and endangered heirloom varieties and saving seed and we have always committed to planting pollinator habitat. Now that we have our own farm and can plan long-term, we are excited to coax our farm toward the most bio-diverse, carbon-neutral, self-sustaining and beautiful version of itself, possible. We never use chemicals and are working toward eliminating soil tillage by implementing occultation tarps and using cover crops to kill weeds and build soil fertility. Over the next year we plan to finish our Certified Naturally Grown application so that our customers and neighbors can be more informed about our growing practices and we can increase our knowledge by engaging with fellow CNG farmers. In the very near future we hope to consult with a permaculture designer to further reduce our impact on soil and improve energy and water usage on the farm.
Other long-term plans for the farm include agritourism in the form of classes, workshops and a Farmstay. (Campsites and possibly a cabin or two). For more information about our farm or how to buy our products, or if you just want to come out for a tour, you can email me directly at email@example.com or check out our website. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
This week in Local Choice CSA
Bifrost Farms – Plain chevre
Essence Homestead – Onions and potatoes
Hexagon Projects & Farm – Rutabaga, carrots, kale, scallions and Tokyo Market turnip
Mary Dirty Face Farm – Two varieties of apples
Towering Heights Farm – Kielbasa and eggs
Valley Pasture Farm – Smoked ham steak, ground lamb and small hubbard squash
Winnowburrow Farm – Heirloom dried beans
Diving deeper into dried beans and rutabaga with Johnne Smalley of Towering Heights Farm
Beans have been a staple food for thousands of years. Beans were first domesticated over 7,000 years ago in Peru and southern Mexico. Both centers of domestication have a wide array of colors. In fact, in Mexico, indigenous peoples developed white beans, black beans, and all other colors and color patterns. In the Andes, the same is true, but very lively and bright colors were developed. The tribes in Mexico started cultivating small-seeded varieties, while at the same time, the natives of Peru were developing large-seeded types. Since native tribes crisscrossed the American continent, these beans and native farming practices spread gradually all over North and South America, as various groups explored, migrated, and traded with other tribes. By the time Portuguese and Spanish explorers discovered the New World, several varieties of beans were already flourishing. By the early 1700s, beans had become a popular crop in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Today, beans exist in hundreds of types with a wide array of color, taste, and texture variations.
Beans and legumes are some of the most underrated foods on the planet. They are excellent sources of dietary fiber, protein, B vitamins and many other important vitamins and minerals. There is good evidence that they can help reduce blood sugar, improve cholesterol levels and help maintain a healthy gut. Add them to soups, stews and salads, or just eat them on their own for a nutritious vegetarian meal. While there’s no scientific evidence to point to, it’s been written again and again that those who know their way around a kitchen prefer the taste, texture, and depth of flavor of homemade beans. In fact, canned beans can have a metallic taste, or they can be too salty or mushy.
Dried beans should be sorted and washed &/or soaked before cooking. One reason is to remove some of the indigestible complex sugars that cause gas. Another reason is that beans are dirty (since they cannot be washed before being sold or they can turn moldy), so you’re just cleaning them with the soaking. If the recipe wants the beans to be cooked in the water used for soaking, the washing needs to be done before the soaking. Otherwise, you can just drain the soak water and rinse the beans thoroughly before cooking. Soaking times vary depending on the type and age of the beans, but for heartier beans like white beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, the general rule of thumb is:
In a large pot, add 5 cups of water for each cup of dry beans. Heat to boiling; boil for 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and soak for at least 1 hour (Quick Soak) or up to 4 hours (Hot Soak).
Traditional Overnight Soak does not require boiling. Simply rinse your desired amount of beans, then soak them in water for 6-8 hours, using a ratio of 5 cups of water for every cup of beans. When dried beans are soaked in water, their volume increases as they absorb the water. Beans absorb hot water more quickly than cold water, thus the shorter soaking times with the Quick and Hot Soaks.
Note: some, more delicate legumes such as lentils can be just soaked for merely an hour.
There is no harm in either refrigerated or unrefrigerated soaks provided that you use the beans within 24 hours, otherwise refrigerate. Refrigerate soaked or uncooked beans until you are ready to use them (within 2-3 days). Cooked beans may be refrigerated, in a covered container, for up to five days. For longer storage, freeze cooked beans and use within one year. To use frozen cooked beans, thaw in the microwave or in the refrigerator.
Research dating back more than 25 years found that adding baking soda to the soak water of dried beans before cooking (about 1/16 teaspoon per quart) significantly decreases the content of the raffinose family of sugars (indigestible sugars that cause flatulence).
Acid in the form of vinegar, tomatoes, lemon juice, or something similar will prevent legumes from softening. When beans are softer, they’re also more digestible. Cook beans well before adding any acidic ingredients like tomatoes or molasses.
If you’re not sure how to substitute dried beans for canned in your recipes, here are some helpful conversions and rules of thumb:
- 2 cups of dried beans = 1 pound of dried beans.
- 1 part dry beans = 3 parts cooked beans.
- 1 cup dried beans = 3 cups of cooked beans.
- One 15-ounce can of beans equals 1½ cups of cooked beans.
- One pound of dry beans makes about 9 servings of baked beans or 12 servings of bean soup.
Uncooked dry beans can be stored in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry area. If kept for more than 12 months, dry beans will lose moisture and may require longer cooking times. Nutrient value is not lost with age.
The rutabaga, swede, neep or snagger, also called by several other names in different regions, is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip. The roots are eaten in a variety of ways, and the leaves can be eaten as a leaf vegetable. These vegetables are full of vitamins and nutrients, including beta carotene, calcium, potassium, and fiber, among others.
Nutritious and low in calories, 1 C contains:
- Calories: 51.
- Carbs: 12 grams.
- Protein: 4 grams.
- Fat: 0.5 grams.
- Fiber: 4 grams.
- Vitamin C: 107% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Potassium: 35% of the DV.
- Magnesium: 18% of the DV.
The rutabaga has a more mellow, golden appearance than turnips or potatoes, and when cooked it turns sweet yet savory — like the richest golden potato you can imagine. It’s less starchy, but still very satisfying. A 1-cup serving of boiled cubed rutabaga has 51 calories and 12 grams of carbs, compared to 136 calories and 31 grams of carbs in the same amount of potatoes.
Rutabagas can be roasted, sautéed, baked, fried, boiled, mashed and added to soups and stews. They can also be eaten raw as a snack or grated into salads or coleslaw. Mashing and roasting are two of the most popular ways of preparing them. The key is to cut it up into small, similar-sized chunks before cooking, otherwise cooking time will be long and the center may not heat through properly.
Rutabagas will keep for months in a cool storage place. They store well in plastic bags in a refrigerator or cold cellar. Keep rutabagas away from raw meat and meat juices to prevent cross contamination.
This week’s meal plans are provided by Rachel Henderson of Mary Dirty Face Farm
Hakurei Turnips with Greens, Beans and Pasta, adapted from MACSAC Cookbook
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 medium yellow onions, diced
- 1 bunch Tokyo market turnips and greens (about 10 small or 5 large turnips)
- 1 cup chopped dried apricots
- salt 12 oz of cooked bowtie (or other small noodle) pasta
- 2 cups of cooked heirloom beans
- Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and all the oil in a large skillet over medium flame. Add garlic and onions and cook, stirring often, until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, wash turnips and trim the leaves from the roots, Chop the roots into 1 inch cubes, or leave smaller turnips whole. Discard yellowed leaves and chop the rest. Add the turnips to the softened onions. Sprinkle with salt, stir and cover. Cook for about 8 minutes, or until the turnips can be easily pierced with a knife.
- Uncover and turn up the heat to medium high, cooking until the turnips are light brown at the edges.
- Add the greens and apricots and cook until the greens are wilted and tender, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and salt to taste.
- Stir in the pasta and beans.
Hubbard Squash with Parmesan and Brown Butter, adapted from Food and Wine
- 2 pounds peeled Hubbard or other winter squash, cut into 1/2-inch slices or a bit thinner
- Olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- 12 large sage leaves, roughly chopped, or a handful of smaller sage leaves
- Arugula or chopped parsley for garnish
- A chunk of Parmesan for shaving
- Lemon wedges
How to Make It
Heat the oven to 400°. Put the squash slices in a large bowl, season with salt and black pepper, and drizzle with enough olive oil to coat. Toss the squash with your hands to distribute the seasoning, then transfer to two baking sheets and spread out the slices. Roast until the squash is cooked through and the edges are browned here and there, about 15 minutes. (You can roast the squash up to 3 hours in advance and hold it at room temperature.)
Arrange the squash on a warm platter or on individual plates, then quickly make the brown butter sauce: Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the crushed red pepper and sage, season with a little salt and black pepper, and whisk the butter and aromatics as the butter begins to bubble and brown. When the butter is foamy and nutty-smelling, in a minute or so, spoon it over the squash. Garnish with a few arugula leaves or chopped parsley and use a sharp vegetable peeler to shave Parmesan over the squash. Serve with lemon wedges.
Ham Steak with Sautéed Apple and Onions, adapted from Food and Wine
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- One 1/2-pound ham steak
- 1 apple—peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
- 1/2 medium Vidalia or other sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 rosemary sprig
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 1 cup apple juice
How to Make It
In a medium skillet, melt the butter. Add the ham and cook over moderate heat until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer the ham to a plate and keep warm. Add the apple, onion, mustard seeds and rosemary to the skillet, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Off the heat, add the brandy and cook until evaporated. Add the apple juice, cover and cook over moderate heat until the apple is tender, about 10 minutes. Return the ham steak and cook, turning, until the pan juices are thickened, about 5 minutes longer. Serve the ham steak with the pan sauce.
Mashed Potatoes and Rutabagas, adapted from The Spruce
- 3 pounds rutabaga (peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces)
- 2 to 2 1/2 pounds potatoes (peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces, about 5 or 6 medium)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (or to taste)
Steps to Make It
- Gather the ingredients.
- Cook rutabaga and potatoes in salted water in separate saucepans.
- When both are tender, remove from heat. Rutabaga will take about 30 minutes, and potatoes will take about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Drain; purée or mash rutabaga well, then mash the potatoes. Combine mashed rutabaga and potatoes; add butter, milk, pepper, and nutmeg. Beat well. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.
- Serve and enjoy!
Thanks so much for reading and don’t forget to check back next week for the last weekly blog post of 2019. There are definitely some changes coming as we wrap up our first season and there will be new info and updates about Local Choice available soon! Have a great week and happy eating!