I am sorting through paper work today, cleaning up my desk. I have come across notes from when Zdenek was here teaching us about flax and flax processing equipment. I have no idea where to put these rough notes so I will be able to find them again (yes I have a hard time with organization that works for me later). I decided a blog post would work as a safe place to store this maybe necessary, maybe not necessary info. Note to reader: these are just a few things i jotted down in one of our talks.
So here are my rough notes:
Flax is a complicated plant. It is necessary to start step by step.
First summarize what you have done as of now.
Then what we will do up until the end of the year.
Check out laboratory equipment in Montreal.
Necessary to recognize what kind of weeds we have here.
Flax must be clean - very clean.
ready to harvest: 2 cm maximum, 120 lbs per acre, brown/black seeds too old.
Time to harvest for fibre is when seed are yellow/green
unretted fibre will be yellow
Dry until yellow 3-6 days it is okay to get wet.
1 kilo of good quality tow $1/CDN
1 kilo of long fibre $4 CDN
Prices of flax depend on cotton prices - cotton goes up flax goes up.
2% flax used in clothing around the world.
Polish Institute for Natural Fibres
Get quote for roller/breaker and small sctuching machine in Poland.
This week you will be receiving a TapRoot duck as well as a package of Helen's sausages from Salmontail River Farm. In addition to using our pork for these sausages, Helen has also used our own farm-grown leeks. We hope you enjoy your share!
At the end of this blog post, you'll find Justine's favourite duck recipe if you need a tried-and-true idea for preparing your duck.
Animal-related farm news:
As we get ready to enter a new calendar year, we do so with a new face around the farm. Justine's husband Nathan has started working at TapRoot farms! Nathan will be managing a lot of the animal husbandry responsibilities on the farm and will have direct input into what kinds of meats and cuts we will continue to offer through our meat shares. Welcome Nathan! Meanwhile, Justine is still enjoying her maternity leave with the young (and VERY adorable) Gilbert.
In other exciting news, TapRoot's own very first pastured beef will soon be available! Currently hanging at the butchers, cuts of our own beef will making their way into your shares in the new year. It feels great to be expanding our TapRoot-grown meat selection for you.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
As we take a break over the holidays here at the farm, we hope that you also have a chance to slow down and enjoy all the people in your life and celebrate this time of year in whatever way resonates with you. We'll see you in 2015!
Perfectly cooked crispy duck with spiced plum chutney
For the roast duck:
a small bunch of fresh sage, leaves picked
2 tsp sea salt
1 orange, halved
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 bulb of garlic, cloves separated and bashed
For the spiced plum chutney
1/3 C sugar
1/2 a cinnamon stick
1 star anise
6 large red ripe plums, pitted and chopped
a strip of orange zest
a pinch of ground cumin
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
a small bunch of watercress, washed and dried
Preheat your oven to 350F. Get 5 or 6 sage leaves and bash them up in a pestle and mortar or Flavor Shaker with salt. Rub this all over the skin of the duck, then shove the rest of the sage and the two orange halves inside the cavity.
Get yourself a roasting tray in which the duck and the veg will fit snugly, put the veg and garlic into it and pop the duck on top, breast-side down. Roast in the preheated oven for 2 hours, turning the duck a couple of times during cooking. Halfway through you will probably need to drain away most of the fat that has come out of the bird. Don't throw this away! You can pass it through a sieve and keep it in a jar for a couple of months (as long as it's just the fat; no meat juices) and use it to roast potatoes.
Meanwhile, make your spiced plum chutney. Pour the sugar in a saucepan and add just enough water to dissolve it. Place on the heat, drop in the cinnamon and star anise and bring to a boil.
Simmer the syrup until it reduces right down and the bubbles start to get bigger. As soon as the syrup starts to turn golden, add the chopped plums, orange zest and cumin and turn the heat down to low. The plums will release their sticky, sweet juices and after a few minutes the sauce will cook down to a thicker consistency. Take the pan off the heat, season the chutney with salt and pepper and leave to cool.
For the last half hour, make sure that the duck is breast-side up so the skin gets crispy. To test whether it's cooked, pinch the leg meat and if it comes easily off the bone it's ready. Shred the meat and crispy skin on to plates and serve with some watercress on top and your spiced plum chutney.
1 Pork Shoulder Steak OR Pork Chops from TapRoot Farms
1 lb pack Ground Pork, Ground Beef or Spare Ribs
Cost breakdown of this week's share:
1 Whole Chicken @ $4.50/lb, average weight 3.3lbs $14.85
1 Stewing Hen @ $3.50/lb, average weight 2.3lbs $8.05
1 Pork Shoulder Steak @ $5.00/lb, average weight 1.5lbs $7.50
1 pack Ground Pork @ $4.50/lb, average weight 1lb $4.50
Total value: $34.90
This week you are receiving stewing hens in your meat shares. The stewing hens are smaller than your meat chickens and are labelled so that you can tell them apart. Stewing hens are our old organic egg laying hens. They only lay productively for so long and after that we bring on new hens to replace them, so as to keep up with the egg demand. Stewing hens aren't like roasting or broiler chickens, that are sold when they reach the desired weight for market. These hens have been around for awhile and so need a little longer cooking time, and a liquid for cooking them in, hence the name stewing hen.
I thought I'd share some tips from Justine on how to make the best use of your stewing hen:
They make delicious stocks, just put them in a pot with water covering them, add whole peppercorns, and any other spice or vegetable you like to put in stocks. Turn it on high heat and let to come to a boil, then turn to low and simmer for a few hours, or until the meat is falling of the bones of the chicken. Strain out the chicken and other herbs. Making sure you're not pouring this nutritious stock down the drain by accident! When the chicken meat is cool, pick it apart and add back to the stock if your making a soup right away, or freeze for later use.
If I'm not going to use all the stock right away, I'll usually freeze it in ice cube trays in batches, then store them in a plastic bag. That way when I need a little stock for adding to rice or sauces I have just the right amount.
I hope you enjoy your meat share this week! As usual, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, comments, or concerns by emailing me (Jocelyn) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 (or more) Pork item (from TapRoot Farms) and/ or Beef item (from Longspell Point farm) @ varying prices
About this week's share:
Similar to the last meat share, this week's shares will vary in contents. This is because I'm trying to clear our current meat inventory out of our freezers to make room for our new incoming meat inventory.
Each share will contain a whole chicken and one or more pork or beef item. Given the individual nature of each meat share this week, I have personally weighed and valued out every share to ensure that each one values $35.00.
Pork items found in this week's share include bacon, ground pork, pork chops, spare ribs, pork steaks and sausage. Beef items include steaks, roasts, stewing beef and ground beef. In some cases, I have also included additional chicken cuts (quarters and wings) in order to reach the appropriate dollar value for each share.
Animal Update & New Animal Add-On Options:
Over the last few weeks, some of our pigs have been very happily (so it seems!) grazing in one of our apple orchards, feasting on fallen apples while turning over and fertilizing the orchard soil. These pigs will be heading to the butcher between now and your next meat share so everyone can look forward to some new apple-fed pork coming soon!
Our chickens continue to do well. Our egg-laying hens in particular are producing record numbers of eggs at the moment, which has allowed us to make these additional eggs available for purchase through our member add-on section if you're interested.
Another new meat item that is available for purchase through our member add-on section are beef soup bones from Longspell Point Farm. Without a doubt, we are now fully into soup season and these beef soup bones will certainly elevate the flavour and nutritional content of your homemade soups! Find out more info in our add-on purchase section by signing in to your member account and scrolling to the bottom of this week's share page.
I wanted to leave you with a photo of our pigs happily grazing beneath our apple trees, but when I approached the orchard to take a photo, they all ran over to the fence to say hello to me. So, here are the pigs greeting the camera, with their foraging orchard in the background :)