Week 20, 2018 | Kristin Kimball | May 19, 2018

Let’s begin with the good news. The weather, since the storm, has been textbook perfect for May. The animals are eating fast-growing neon-green spring grass. Loads and loads of plants are going into the ground today, and also seed potatoes, in front of the gentle rain due to hit tomorrow.

Also, we have a new product to sample in the share today, one that we’ve been dreaming about and working on for a really long time: our very own Essex Farm tempeh. If you’re not familiar with it, tempeh is a traditional staple food from Indonesia. It’s made from whole soybeans that have been soaked, lightly cooked and cultured with rhizopus oligosporus – helpful little spores that ferment the beans and form a white mycelium that binds them together into a beautiful firm-textured cake. The fermentation does some remarkable things to the soybean’s nutritional profile, making it easily digestible and breaking down the anti-nutritional phytates that give soy a bad name. Unlike tofu, is a whole and high-fiber food. It also contains a large amount of good-quality protein, Vitamin B2, minerals, and concentrated cancer-fighting isoflavones. Ours is made from certified organic, local soybeans. So, it’s good for you, but how does it taste? I’ve been a fan ever since I ate it in Indonesia, marinated, grilled and served with a peanut dipping sauce. But on its own, it’s kind of a neutral and non-exciting entity. It’ll readily take on whatever flavor you want to give it, which makes it ideal as a substitute for meat no matter what culinary mood you’re in. For first-timers, try slicing it ¼” and marinating it for half an hour (or more!) in a bit of soy sauce and vinegar plus some flavorful extras, like crushed garlic and grated ginger, before pan frying it, until golden brown.

Huge thanks to Thanh for her painstaking development of the fermentation process for us, at the Hub’s kitchen. She spent many hours tracking down a good commercial-scale source for the culture (finding it, at last, in Belgium!), then tending to those magical little spores and coaxing them to grow. Thanks, Thanh!

We’ve long wanted to offer a delicious, locally grown and produced vegetarian alternative to meat, and we know many of you are interested in eating lower on the food chain. Even the way we raise it, meat is resource-intensive, environmentally and economically. Having a non-meat protein source will help shrink our carbon footprint. So, please tell us what you think of the tempeh, or if you would like suggestions for using it. It would be fantastic to know how much of it you think you’d eat each week so we can make plans to scale up. Shoot us an email when you get a chance.

And now the sad news, and I’m awfully sorry to break it. We lost our beloved dog Jet this morning after he was badly injured in an accident. Local members all know him well, but for others, he was the diplomat, the nicest creature on the farm, wise, gentle, and everyone’s friend. I know many of you will miss him almost as much as I will. Hard as it is to say goodbye, he was nearly 14, and had a great run. I’m too sad to write more now but expect a Jet tribute in the near future. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this farewell 20th week of 2018. Find us at essexfarm@gmail.com, 518-963-4613, online or on insta at essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

– Kristin & Mark Kimball