We’re getting ready to get in the fields

by Jay Reesor

Ever wonder what is on a farmer’s to do list in mid-April? Just in case you’re interested, here is what is on our list for the next few weeks.

This was the winter of flat tires, so we called in the tire repair guys to fix two flats on two different tractors and replace our cultivator’s tires. Then we have to replace the points on some of the cultivator shanks as they are worn out.  Next we have to get the corn planter out and make sure everything is working well to get the seeds planted at just the right depth and properly firmed into the soil. Next priority is to make sure all the oil and filters are changed on the tractors and all of the equipment is greased and ready to go when we get a sunny, dry day.  As well, any day now we need to take the straw off the strawberries with a small tractor and rake and then walk the entire field to touch up any areas that the machine didn’t do well. Yep. It’s going to be a busy few weeks!

I wish each of our readers a wonderful spring season!

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Jay was serving up free coffee at Reesor’s Market & Bakery recent open house.

Back on the land

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by Jay Reesor

When spring comes, it can come in a hurry! A little over a month ago all of us were wondering if spring would ever arrive.   We had endured a long winter and the cold stayed right into April.

But a few weeks can change everything. We are currently planting everything from strawberries to sweet corn, green and yellow beans, beets, peas, soy beans, oats and clover. The peas and the corn are even up already!

Every spring-planting season has its challenges and right now we are trying to manage all of our planting to maintain moisture. It hasn’t rained significantly for weeks so we have to be careful that every seed we plant finds enough moisture to germinate.We will figure it out.

I hope that you have a chance to do some planting this spring too!

Ready, set, melt!

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by Jay Reesor

The sap is running, the snow is melting, and the farmers, including Grahame and I, are getting anxious to be out in the fields. It has felt like a long winter and since there have finally been at least a few mild days, many of us are thinking about spring and growing things!

Grahame and I are excited about using some new planting techniques this spring, planting more cover and green manure crops, and trying out a new pumpkin seed to give us a basketball sized pumpkin in early September.

The very first outdoor task for the year will be removing straw from the strawberry plants. Straw has been on the plants all winter long to protect them from those frigid January and February temperatures. Once that job is done, the growing season will begin! So, let’s hope for favourable weather in 2015.

Remember, the best food is the food that you grow yourself. Can you find an area to grow a small garden this year?

New! Reesor’s Apple Pecan Crisp

We’re pleased to introduce classic Apple Pecan Crisp to our selection of desserts. It’s sweetened only with apples and apple concentrate without any white or brown sugar. It has large and small oats, pecans, cinnamon and butter for good, crunchy flavour. There’s no wheat flour, so it’s gluten free. Let us know what you think about it.

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Win A Gift Box!

You might win a gift box–please come fill out a ballot during our 10th anniversary celebrations!

As a way of saying thanks to our customers for your support for the past 10 years we have three gift baskets for you to enter your name to win this week. Just come in to the store and fill out a ballot–it’s free and no purchase is required.

We’ll be drawing a winner on Thurs., Fri. and Sat. So, come in early to enter for the best chance of winning a basket containing maple syrup, pancake mix, granola, cookies and more.

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Celebrate the flavours of spring at Reesor’s

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Are you ready to add fresher and livelier flavours to your cooking and eating after the long winter? Fresh rhubarb has already arrived and asparagus and strawberries will soon follow. 

Fans of our Rhubarb Streusel Muffins will find them every Saturday during May and June on our muffin racks. You’ll also find Ruthie’s Rhubarb Coffee Cake on our bakery shelves.

Check out The Rhubarb Compendium: for all things rhubarb including main course recipes such as Persian Beef & Rhubarb.

Asparagus Growers of Ontario give tips here about selecting, storing, and nutrition info about asparagus.  Did you know asparagus is a good source of protein and low in calories? Just 20 calories per serving (8 medium spears).

Here’s a simple pasta dish using ham and asparagus courtesy of Foodland Ontario.

ready, Set, GROW!

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by Jay Reesor

April is here and that means the Ontario growing season has begun.  Here’s my top 10 list of what has already happened or needs to happen this month on the farm: 

1. A walkabout of the farm to check what has happened around here over the winter such as ice storm damage.  
2. Check that the underground drainage system is operating properly.
3. Remove some of the straw from the strawberries.
4. Place the floating row cover on top of the early strawberries to warm the soil to allow it to be ready earlier.
5. Clean up our outdoor workshop and get it ready for our busy season.
6. Do maintenance and repairs on all of the tractors and farm equipment.
7. Make sure that all of our farm supplies are on hand and ready to go as soon as the weather cooperates.
8. Finalize our planting plans depending on the weather and the various field conditions.
9. Get started on any building and major improvement planning and construction.
10. And of course last but not least, begin planting!

We hope to plant sweet corn this month to be ready in mid-July.  Wow! So, ready, set, go…..here we grow!

Maple-glazed Pork Tenderloin

Maple Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Jay’s sister Karla recently prepared this recipe along with roasted broccoli in a warm lemon, butter, olive oil and garlic sauce; mashed sweet potatoes and a sorbet for dessert.  The leftover pork is great in sandwiches.

This dish is adapted from a recipe by the wonderful test kitchens of the publishers of Cook’s Illustrated.

SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

3/4 
cup maple syrup
1/4 
cup molasses, light or mild
1/8 
teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 
cup cornstarch
2 
tablespoons sugar
1 
tablespoon salt
2 
teaspoons ground black pepper
2 
pork tenderloins (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds each) (see Note)
2 
tablespoons vegetable oil
1 
tablespoon whole-grain mustard

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Stir ½ cup maple syrup, molasses, cinnamon, cloves, and cayenne together in 2-cup liquid measure; set aside. Whisk cornstarch, sugar, salt, and black pepper in small bowl until combined. Transfer cornstarch mixture to rimmed baking sheet. Pat tenderloins dry with paper towels, then roll in cornstarch mixture until evenly coated on all sides. Thoroughly pat off excess cornstarch mixture.
  2. Heat oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke. Reduce heat to medium and place both tenderloins in skillet, leaving at least 1 inch in between. Cook until well browned on all sides, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer tenderloins to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Pour off excess fat from skillet and return to medium heat. Add syrup mixture to skillet, scraping up browned bits with wooden spoon, and cook until reduced to ½ cup, about 2 minutes. Transfer 2 tablespoons glaze to small bowl and set aside. Using remaining glaze, brush each tenderloin with approximately 1 tablespoon glaze. Roast until instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of tenderloins registers 130 degrees, 12 to 20 minutes. Brush each tenderloin with another tablespoon glaze and continue to roast until instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of tenderloins registers 135 to 140 degrees, 2 to 4 minutes longer. Remove tenderloins from oven and brush each with remaining glaze; let rest, uncovered, 10 minutes.
  4. While tenderloins rest, stir remaining ¼ cup maple syrup and mustard into reserved 2 tablespoons glaze. Brush each tenderloin with 1 tablespoon mustard glaze. Transfer meat to cutting board and slice into ¼-inch-thick pieces. Serve, passing extra mustard glaze at table.

NOTE: If your tenderloins are smaller than 1¼ pounds, reduce the cooking time in step 3 (and use an instant-read thermometer for best results). If the tenderloins don’t fit in the skillet initially, let their ends curve toward each other; the meat will eventually shrink as it cooks. Make sure to cook the tenderloins until they turn deep golden brown in step 2 or they will appear pale after glazing. Be sure to pat off the cornstarch mixture thoroughly in step 1, as any excess will leave gummy spots on the tenderloins.

According to Cook’s Illustrated why this recipe works: 

To devise a pork tenderloin recipe with perfectly cooked meat, we settled on a stovetop-to-oven method that gave us a good crust and a succulent and tender interior. For a balanced and substantial maple glaze that would adhere to the meat, we mixed the syrup with molasses and mustard, primed the tenderloin with cornstarch so the glaze would bond to it, and applied a second coat of the glaze when the meat was nearly done.

Seeds–really small, but really important

by Jay Reesor

For those of you who follow us on Facebook you already know that we received some of our seeds to plant for this year’s crops at our farm. In the shipment boxes were sweet corn, bean, pumpkin and squash seeds.

I select vegetable seeds for many different characteristics. For example, I evaluate sweet corn seed based on the number of days from planting to harvest, the corn’s eating texture and flavour, its vigour when growing, its cob size, its disease resistance, its husked appearance, its unhusked appearance, its ease of picking, its tip cover….. you get the idea.

Every variety of sweet corn seed has a large number of traits and I need to select the seeds that are just right for our Markham growing location. The trait selection list is also lengthy for the other types of vegetable seeds that we grow.

By the way, none of the vegetable seeds that we plant or the strawberry plants that we grow are GMO. The seed varieties that I choose to plant are superior strictly because of the old-fashioned plant breeding techniques that have been around for generations.

GMO seeds and the food they produce are a topic of considerable debate for some people. Food is such an important issue worldwide and I am committed to learning more, and invite you to learn more, about food systems….from every perspective.

Now that I have these amazing small seeds in the shed I am starting to get very anxious to get on the land and get the growing season started!  Those seeds may be small, but like so many things in life that are small, they are really, really important.

Happy seed selection to all you gardeners. Choose some good ones!