Ace of Spades Farm

Flavor Beauty Health

Farmers Market

Alex Ekins

We will be at the Thursday Perry Street Farmers Market this year. We are really excited to see all of you local food lovers out this season.  Check out @thursdaymarket on instagram for more details about the market.  

Ace of Spades Farm

Kombucha

Alex Ekins

Kombucha…. ITS ALIVE!!!

Kombucha is a fermented tea that is comprised of…

1.    A SCOBI: SCOBI stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.

2.    The Inoculant; a “starter” liquid from previously existing Kombucha.

3.    The Substrate: a sweat tea mixture i.e. tea + sugar

By combining the above ingredients and allowing the process of fermentation to occur, the tasty and delicious beverage known as Kombucha begins to take over your life.

 

A few more details…

Fermentation in food processing is the process of converting carbohydrates in to alcohol or organic acids using micro oraganisims, yeast or bacteria under anaerobic conditions.

 

History of Kombucha:

In the earliest Kombucha origin story, the 1st emperor of china consumed lingzhi or“The elixir of immortality”. The beverage dates back to 221 B.C. Many versions exist in cultures from Japan, and Russia that have individual recipes for fermented tea.

 

Kombucha fits into any lifestyle and diet and make a perfect starting point for anyone who wants more healthy bacteria and yeast in the body. Other benefits include:

1.    Promotes healthy bacteria in the gut

2.    Supports healthy liver function

3.    Boosts energy

4.    Reduces blood pressure

5.    Aids in healthy cell regeneration

Basically preparing and drinking Kombucha helps to support a healthy lifestyle and can improve ones ability to make further positive health choices leading to better overall body function and well being.

 

How to make Kombucha:

Basic ingredients:

1. Buy a SCOBI

2. A bottle of your favorite Kombucha that is “live” or unfiltered (Synergy brand seems to always work)

3. Black, green, white, pu-erh or oolong tea

4. Organic cane sugar, pasteurized honey, or pure maple syrup

5. Clean filtered, non chlorinated water

Brew in glass, porcelain, ceramic, food grade plastic. Don’t use any sort of metal.

Getting started simple batch method: 1 gallon

1.    Take 1 quart of the water and bring to just below boiling

2.    Take 4-6 tea bags or 1-2 tablespoons of loose leaf tea and steep in a separate container than the one in which the Kombucha will ferment in.

3.    Mix 1 cup of sugar into the hot steeping tea until dissolved completely.

4.    Steep for 5- 15 minutes

5.    Pour 3 quarts of water into Kombucha vessel.

6.    Add the sweetened tea to the water in the vessel.

7.    Allow for liquid to cool to luke warm temperature.

8.    Then place your SCOBI into the vessel.

9.    Add 1-2 cups of starter liquid (the bought kombucha)

10. Cover vessel with a breathable cloth, secured with a rubber band.

11. Place in a warm dark location at 75*- 85*

12. Allow fermentation to take place for 5-7 days.  This will vary by the temperature and other conditions such as batch size

13. Test your Kombucha and see if you like it!

 

Putting the starter on top of the scobi acidifies the ph to the top of the vessel and adds a layer protection from bad pathogens.

 

Don’t drink all your Kombucha if you want more!!!

How to make your next batch:

1.    Assemble tools

2.    Start water boiling

3.    Remove SCOBI and Starter Liquid (substrate) for next batch in separate bowl.

4.    Rinse the vessel

5.    Put tea in pot and steep

6.    Remove tea bags and stir sugar

7.    Pour cold water into vessel

8.    Add sweet tea

9.    Add SCOBI and Starter Liquid

10. Cover and allow to ferment

 

 

Continuous Brew Method:

2.5 gallon vessel with a spigot is used to brew up a batch. 

8-12 tea bags

2 gallons of water

2 cups of sugar

2 full size SCOBI

 2-4 cups starter liquid.

Brew as before…

When it tastes right start to drink, bottle or store. Do not take more than 50%. Add a “top- off” tea for the amount that has been used and wait for it to brew for 2-5 days.  This allows for a continuous brewing without the previous method of creating a whole new batch.

 

How to get sick on Kombucha:

When first starting to drink Kombucha you may get sick.  This is usually a response to drinking too much too fast.  Drink 2-4 ounces mixed with water to see if your body accepts it.  If you feel like you want to chug the buch it is probably a sign your body wants the good bacteria and is supplying nutrients to your bod! But take it easy and then you can enjoy more, more often. Back off if there is a problem.

 

The weird world of SCOBI:

The SCOBI is a zoogleal mat that is a mass of bacteria and yeast tied together with cellulose nanofibers.

The primary bacteria is acetobacter xylinum which produces a copious amount of cellulose, creating the thick spongy creamy white mass.

The byproducts of yeast fermentation feed the bacteria, and the byproducts of bacteria fermentation feed the yeast. As millions of micro beasties party like its 1999!!! 

The SCOBI reduces evaporation of the tea and carbonation that is brewing while protecting the bacteria and yeast of their food sources.

The symbiosis of yeast and bacteria create anti bacterial and anti microbial situation.

Often the SCOBI will look strange to you, if not simply gross.  This is okay and only is a problem when obviously molding, smells like rotten eggs or something has gone wrong.  If is seems bad just throw it out and start again.

Thank You Clover Restaurant

Alex Ekins
clover_logo_white-1.png

I was fortunate enough to take a bag of baked goods home from Clover Bakery after our last board meeting.  Well actually I started eating it before I even left.  All three varieties were gone within a day.  So good.

Thank you Clover Restaurant for choosing my delightful Baby Yellow Patty Pan Squash! May their raw form inspire your creations. 

Aces. 

 

Aug 18 CSA Contents

Alex Ekins

This weeks contents include:

Freckles Lettuce

Purple 68 Carrots

Yellow Baby Patty Pan Squash

Grey Zuch

Half Dozen Eggs

Orange Danvers Carrots

Bull's Blood Beets

Pink Beauty Radish Shoots

Bok Choy 

Swiss Chard

Prairie Pantry Five Color Pepper

Estella Farm Potato

Estella Farm Green Onion

Just a reminder to wash your produce before using.  I take every effort to provide clean produce however, taking the extra little step to wash in your own kitchen makes all the difference in food safety.  

Next week starts Wednesday Morning Deliveries.  Coolers will be picked up Saturday. 

Please let me know if you are unable to pick up your CSA.  You can have someone else take it if you want.

Enjoy!

 

August 4 CSA Contents

Alex Ekins

This weeks contents include:

Grey Baby Zuch 

Baby Neon Lights Swiss Chard:  So gorgeous!

Purple 68 Carrots:  Great roasted.

Lettuce Mix: Garnet Rose, Trout Back, Freckles.  I managed to grow this in the shade under the kale.

Bull's Blood Beets:  Pickled or Candied

Baby Siberian Kale:  You know we are winning when Walmart sells organic baby kale for $6 a pound.  I grew this and cut it this morning! Priceless. 

 

Full Leaf Neon Lights Swiss Chard:  Juice the stems!

Collard Greens: They never end!

Baking Apples: Just a few left until Fall

Thyme:  If you haven't used it yet you can also dry it and store for the winter.

Half dozen freedom eggs!  The hens have been loving this maple tree's shade this past week!

July 21 CSA Contents

Alex Ekins

This weeks contents inlude...

Danvers Carrots: The original Danvers Half Long dates back to the 1870s. This strain “126” was improved in the 1940s. The old standard American carrot, adaptable and dependable.   

I love to slice them down the middle and with a medium hot pan fry them in a little butter or bacon fat until they almost burn or blacken.  The combination of crunchy outside and sugary inside is wonderful.    

Cascadia Snap Peas

Neon Lights Swiss Chard

Tart Green Baking Apples:  No spray, No prune!  Just apples from a beautiful old tree on the farm.  I used to treat these like my natural sour patch kids when I was young.  Excellent for pies, crumbles, tarts, apple sauce or snacking if you love the tart!

Collard Greens

Bull's Blood Beets

Siberian Kale

Thyme:

Baba Lu, working the morning shift: Half dozen eggs

 

And yes Kevin, I am putting in the the pine apples, kiwis and avocados.  They should be ready for next week.

Aaron, we marked your cooler at Duratus, it has your extra eggs in it!

Thank you all for the kind words and encouragement!

-ACES

 

July 14 CSA Contents

Alex Ekins

This weeks contents include...

Chia Micro Greens Simply one of the most nutrient dense plants you can eat.  These are seriously loaded in omega 3's.  Better than any vitamin you can take.

Not sprouted, grown in soil! 

Neon Lights Swiss Chard Packed with phytonutrients shown in the deep color.  

Bull's Blood Beets 

Roast for 45 minutes at 450, remove and glaze with honey and THYME. 

Siberian Kale I had chopped kale in chicken tacos.  Just saying. 

Golden Ball Turnips The last of the turnips.  Maybe not a crowd pleaser.  Try roasted under a chicken with many other vegetables.  

Collard Greens 

Southern Style

1. Cook bacon in a 10-qt. stockpot over medium heat 10 to 12 minutes or until almost crisp. Add onion, and sauté 8 minutes; add ham and garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth and remaining ingredients. Cook 2 hours or to desired degree of tenderness.

Cascadia Snap Peas I Love growing snap peas.  They are one of the first seeds in the ground each year.  You can eat the whole pod! Great sweet crunchy snack.

Half Dozen Eggs The eggs return!  I gave the hens a good talking to about their performance last week.  And Aaron, I still owe you half a dozen. Sorry buddy!

I figured I still need to up my egg game so I picked up 20 new chicks.  These little ladies are six days old and will grow up to lay green and brown eggs in about 5 months.

Welcome to the farm little sweeties. 

Thyme 

Basil 

July 7 CSA Contents

Alex Ekins

This weeks contents include... 

Neon Lights Swiss Chard.  This variety of chard develops vivid pink, red and yellow stems reminiscent of the neon lights of Las Vegas. Brighten up any dish or BBQ with this wonderful vegetable. Eat the stems like a celery!

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Bull's Blood Beets.  Absolutely gorgeous! A recent publication touted beets as an excellent anti oxidant and cancer fighter. 

"Beets, the essence of life." - Tom Robbins

Siberian Kale. Kale+Bacon=❤️

 Golden Ball Turnips. 

  • 1 Bunch Turnips
  • 1 Bunch Beet Greens
  • 1 Bunch Collards
  • 6 slices bacon (or equivalent salt pork, ham hock, or smoked turkey wings)
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic 
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Wash the greens thoroughly in cold water. Remove any tough stems and roughly chop the leaves. Peel and slice the turnip into bite-sized pieces. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add greens and cook about 15 minutes, then drain and discard cooking water.  In a large skillet, fry the bacon until crisp and set aside. Add the onion (and garlic) and saute in remaining bacon grease until soft. Crumble the bacon and return to the pan along with the sliced turnip and the boiled greens. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup water or stock and cook 30 minutes over low heat. Serves 4 greens lovers.

 

Collards.  The collard greens return this week. They just keep giving and I just keep eating. Thanks to Hannah for bringing me an excellent curry made with the collard greens! 

Mesclun Salad Mix.  Tender blend of mixed greens including freckles lettuce, speckled trout back, bloomsdale spinach, mustard, kale, chard, mizuna, butternut crunch and more! 

There are no eggs this week as the 100* days have slowed the hens down a bit. They will be back as I build some reserves this week. I only have 10 birds and I need at least 50 eggs a week, so as you can see those little ladies are working hard! Right now they are out eating grasshoppers for you, so the grasshoppers don't eat all the tender little growies! 

Coming soon will be broccoli and carrots.  

Enjoy!

I started an Autumn round of vegetables starts believe it or not, which includes many Asian greens, herbs and more.  

I may be including a few items from fellow farmers in the next few weeks.  These are all LINC Foods Co-Op farmers who have the same level of integrity that I have but who have well established fruit, veggie and animal systems.  I want to offer you an additional array of products .  Some of these items I can include at no extra cost.  Think raspberries and specialty items like hot peppers. 

-Rant On-

Many people don't know that it takes at least one full year before raspberries produce fruit.  That a well rooted patch of strawberries takes two years.  Asparagus doesn't really begin to produce until its third year after planting.  I am planning on getting those types of crops established next season.  I won't be able to offer a complete line of products until say five years from now.

Farming takes time.  

It takes a long term perspective to both develop a farm and to have patrons who can see the value in supporting such a project. 

See, this food you get to eat, is raw.  It is fresh and natural.  It was grown in soil, that is alive, in an ecosystem that is healthy. It is free from chemical fertilizers and I didn't soak it in poisons. It wasn't grown and harvested with near slave labor.  It didn't have some crazy processing and delivery scheme to take it thousands of miles around the planet.

And I use deep, clean, cold, mineral rich water from my own well.  

I mean this plain and simple: the quality of the water that goes into this food is worth more than the food.

And as we watch the great experiment that was industrial agriculture in California come to a burning end, the water that I use to grow this food will become even more valuable. The produce from this farm will be better than gold.

It is something that is just simply hidden from sight these days.  Modern industrial food production allows us to assume that it is normal to have anything we want whenever we want it. To quote Joel Salatin, "Sorry folks, this ain't normal."  

- Rant Off-

So again I want to thank everyone for the support. 

It means so much to hear things like:

"Our friends are loving this!" 

Or

"You got my roommates in an uproar!" 

Or

"Man, you got me hooked all drug dealer style!" 

That makes the long hours, heavy lifting, blood, sweat and fears all worth it. 

So, please tell a friend about Ace of Spades Farm.

Better yet, cook them dinner!

Your friend and farmer,

Alexander 

Thank You Wandering Table

Alex Ekins
 

I love when a restaurant is willing to take risks.  That is what the Wandering Table does.  

By finding new inspiration in unique ingredients, this joint always offers flavorful and exciting plates.  

Thank you for purchasing my Bull's Blood Beet Greens!

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Many people don't know that the Beet Green is edible or that Chard is a beet bred for its greens rather than the roots.

So lets get old school on some beet greens.  They are excellent paired with any protein.

The stems can be cut to length and pickled for a vibrant winter snack or garnish.  Don't forget to shred the baby beet on a salad or juice that.  

Beets are so versatile, gorgeous and make for a very healthy individual. 

So get out to the Wandering Table and with your mouth full ask your server for more local food!

Aces,

Alexander

June 30 CSA Contents

Alex Ekins

This weeks contents include:

Big Wild Siberian Kale Mix:  Big fat kale for all your kale needs. Try making some chips!

Half Dozen Eggs: Hard boil for an on the go snack

Bunched Bull's Blood Beets: Get adventurous and pickle the stem. Eat beets raw by lightly skinning the beet, then shred with coarse cheese grater over salad.  

Spicy Mesclun Mix:  Wonderful mesclun greens mix.  A robust, diverse greens blend.

Spring Salad Mix: The last few remaining flavors of spring.  Great with all your grilling.

Golden Ball Turnip: Sweet, mellow and smooth. Try mashed or roasted. This is an old French variety.  Turnips are a forgotten food that has been used since the times of Rome.  

Garlic Scapes:  These are a once a year delight. These are the flowering buds of hard neck garlic. Cut like would any green onion or chive.  Excellent flavor, can be used like garlic in any dish. 

As always..

Thank you all for your support and kind words.  Know it is so rewarding to see the smiles on your faces and hear your surprise at how delicious veggies can be!

And you can give me a digital thumbs up on Facebook if you're into that. 

Alexander Ekins

Ace of Spades Farm

Eat Central Food

Alex Ekins
 
 

Thank You Central Food for your purchase!  

Those Pink Beauty Radish have been knocking folk's socks off! 

 
 

When I first got back into Spokane this past November, Lu and I went for a walk from the family house on 3rd Ave down to People's Park and across the new pedestrian bridge which links up with Kendal Yards.  My head was spinning with ideas about the farm.  My sister had told me of a little joint at the end of the path that I might like.  Sister Rose and I helped run some places in our college days and have always had an affinity for counter top service and a spinning stool.

Central Food just felt right. 

Weather worn vegetables growing in bins on the sidewalk, a view of downtown, an open kitchen, cordial and knowledgable staff.  It smelled hearty. The place felt present.  I could look West out the window and see the top of the Palisades where the farm is.   

This was definitely a place to sell my product to.  This was a place to have as a friend and ally.

I want to say thank you to David Blaine for all of his tremendous dedication to local food.  I sincerely look forward to working with you into the future. 

If : You love local food, want to support real tried and true small local business that puts its money where its mouth is...

Then:  I highly encourage you and every one you know to eat every single meal every single day at Central Food.

Really. 

Your friend and farmer,

Alexander

 

Thank You Stacks Restaurant!

Alex Ekins

I would like to encourage everyone to support the local restaurants that support local famers!  

Thank you STACKS at Steam Plant for purchasing my fresh Early Wonder Beets, Pink Beauty and Purple Plum Radish.

Get on over to Stacks and enjoy modern cuisine, with local ingredients, in a historic building.

June 23 CSA Contents

Alex Ekins

This weeks growies include:

Early Wonder Beets: These just straight up exploded this week.   These are an heirloom red beet.  Sweet, flavorful and versatile vegetable. 

 You can eat the beet greens just like you would chard.  In fact Swiss Chard is a beet that was bred not to make a beet so don't be scared! So you get the greens and the root in one vegetable.

Can be boiled, roasted or skinned and shredded into salads. Get creative and pickle your beets or make beet kimchee.

My favorite way to eat beets is to bring them to a boil, simmer until just fork tender. You want them to nearly be cooked all the way through.  Empty the water in a colander and quickly run cold water over the beets.  As you are doing this squeeze the skin off of the beet.  It should come off super easy if you move fast.  

Just don't get the beet juice on your clothes!!!

Now that the beets are cooked put them in the fridge until cool. Take the chilled beets and slice them in 1/4 inch rounds.  Not too thick, not too thin. Place in a bowl and drizzle balsamic vinegar over them letting it soak in a little.  Now take your favorite goat cheese and crumble over the top.  Enjoy!

Spring Greens Mix: Mix include Arugula, Bull's Blood Beet Greens, Red Russian Kale, Purple Mizuna Mustard, Cherry Belle Radish Greens and Salad Burnet! 

Absolutely beautiful spring greens mix.  Enjoy with a vinaigrette for a stand alone stunning bed of greens. 

Wild Kale: A mix of Siberian Kale.  Purple, green and blues. A delightful braising mix, sautéed or fresh as a salad. 

Pink Beauty Radish: This will be the last round of the Pink Beauty I think.  I hope you all aren't radished out!  These are the best with breakfast I think.  A little salt on a fresh slice adds a pep to your morning diet.  Make some salsa and tacos and get down on them. 

Collards: This might be nearly the last of the collards until late summer.  Enjoy this wonderful nutrient rich green in fried rice with the eggs! Great in any asian dish.

Basil: Purple and Greek  

I like to take some basil and put it in a big jug of water.  Makes a very refreshing drink.  Add it to your gin and tonic perhaps.  Sprinkle on tomatoes. Compliments garlic. 

Plus Basil is great for if you are feeling a little down as it stimulate the adrenal cortex and kidneys. 

 

Arugula: Last run of the spicy rocket Arugula.  The tastes of spring are fading to the summer. 

Half Dozen Smack Your Mama Delicious Eggs!

Enjoy!

P.S.  I would like to remind everyone that it is proper kitchen etiquette to wash your vegetables before using.  I take food safety seriously and do all I can to prevent any food born yuckies from coming into contact with any produce and yet, I still encourage everyone to give things a little wash.  

P.S.S.  Please return the small reusable containers and ice bottles with your coolers when possible. Thank You. 

-ACES

 

Thank You!

Alex EkinsComment

I would like to thank those of you at Gonzaga University who are participating in the CSA via LINCFoods!  I hope you enjoy the bountiful Wild Kale this week.  

I would like to also thank the University of Idaho for purchasing my beautiful purple plum radishes.  

To find out more about connecting local sustainable producers to regional institutional buyers go to www.lincfoods.com 

Eat on!