12147 Corey Lake Road, Three Rivers, Michigan (269) 244-5690

Monthly Archive: May 2013

Strawberries are coming!!

We will be winding down the asparagus picking on our farm this weekend.    The asparagus variety we grow is ending, but local asparagus will still be coming on for about two more weeks and we will be bringing it in to our market for you.

With May behind us, June gets everyone thinking about fresh Michigan strawberries.  Our strawberry crop looks good so far this year.  The rains are helping to them to be nicely sized and the forecast for the next several weeks is the kind of weather which strawberries like (not too many extremely hot days and some cooler nights coming).

We may have some early strawberries on the market this coming week  and we’re projecting U-Pick to be ready around June 8th, depending on the weather.   We will announce the opening date as soon as we know it.

We are taking orders now for picked strawberries.  Please call (269-244-5690) or email us your order and we will call you when we have them picked.  Already picked strawberries will be $3.25 a quart this year.  For larger quantities, pricing will be:

  • a flat of picked berries (8 quarts) is $24.00 ($3.00 a quart)
  • or a case of picked berries (16 quarts) for $44.00 ($2.75 qt)

U-Pick information:

  • U-Pick Strawberry pricing will be  $1.50 quart.  Please bring quart containers if you have them, if not, you may purchase or borrow ours but bring containers (bowls, tubs, etc.) to put them in to take home.
  • We have doubled the size of our U-Pick berry field from previous years in order to have more berries available for those who want to pick their own.
  • We are trying something new this year which is dedicating a section of the field for those who want to come out for the farm and U-Pick “experience.”  We know there are many families who would like to have their children understand where their food comes from and how it grows.    For this group, the “experience” is almost more important than how many berries are picked.  If you fall into this category, we will give your family information on how berries grow and show you how to pick them.  When picking in this section, each person picking will be allowed to pick up to one quart so we can hopefully accommodate all who come.
  • If you are trying to pick larger quantities of berries (over 5 cases or 80 quarts), please call us in advance and we would like to try to work with you to schedule you in on a day when we have lots of berry availability.  Ask to be put on our “large quantity list.”  269-244-5690.

U-Pick Strawberry times:  We will open the field at 8:00 am  and it will remain open until we are picked out or until 11:00 am.   We plan to open  each day weather permitting closing only for berries to ripen if the weather turns cold.   If we close the field for ripening, we will make that decision the day before, so please call us the day/night before you plan to come to make sure we are picking that day.   For safety, we will close the field during a lightening and thunder storm.

Greenhouse tomatoes:  We are getting a good supply of greenhouse tomatoes in now, come on out and get some for a BLT!  We still have rhubarb and hope to have it for a few more weeks.    There are a few bedding plants and hanging flower baskets left.

The Brandy House will be open on Saturday from 1 – 4.  Bruce would love to have you stop in.  The baked goods shelf has been stocked with pies, cookies and bread.  You really have to try the new cinnamon bread.

Happenings on the farm this week:  This week we spent a lot of time dashing out of the latest rain downpours as we tried to work out in the fields, orchards and vineyards.  The crew walked through all of our concord grape vineyards doing some touch-up pruning and we are pleasantly surprised at how many concord grapes it appears we are going to have this year.  So remember that come fall grape picking time!

Another project this week was removing a section of the grape vineyard adjacent to the market.  Those of you who saw all of the bulldozers, bobcats and large trucks here might have wondered what in the world we were building….. all the activity going on is to put in a new septic system to for the upcoming bakery and a long over due parking lot.

 

Taking grapes out sure goes a lot faster than the initial planting and multi-year wait for them to mature!

Sorry for all the commotion at the market this week with our construction….

Bakery update:   Michaela- our baker–will be giving you a weekly update about the upcoming bakery.   Many of you know that Michaela and her mother, Patti, have been baking 3 years for the farm market  under the guidelines of the Michigan cottage food law.  The Michigan cottage food law allows new entrepreneurs to “test the water” by baking non-perishable foods in their homes, which they are able to sell directly to customers.  Thanks to all our loyal customers who have come to love the baked goods they make,  we now feel we can take the next step and open a commercial, licensed farm-market bakery.  With a  licensed bakery we will be able to expand our offerings to other products!  In the next few weeks, Michaela will be letting you know what other products they will be baking.

Michaela and her mom Patti at work on this week’s baked goods

Michaela’s bakery update:  I wanted to let you know a little bit about how my baking got started.  I was fortunate enough to come from a family of bakers!  It all started back in the great depression, when my great-grandma Lena would sell chocolate cakes with fudge frosting along with her famous pies to support her large family.  Her special  fudge frosting recipe is the one that we still use today on our brownies; it remains a “top secret” recipe that only my mom and I know.  My other great- grandmother Susie was well known for her homemade bread, which she made every other day to feed her large family and we are still using her recipe for the bread we bake.   My mother developed the pie crust recipe that we use now.  It took years to perfect it.  But we feel it is the flakiest, “melt in your mouth” crust we have ever tried.  Between the two of us, we have developed the pie fillings that are made from the fresh fruit grown at the orchard.    The key to making a pie people love is the crust, the filling and how it is made.  In one of my future updates I will tell you a little bit more about how we make the pies.

We are always thinking of new ideas to try.  If you visited the market last weekend, you probably noticed a new item, Cinnamon Bread, which was the latest idea to pop into my head at 1 AM.  You must have liked it as we sold out quickly and had to go back and bake more!

As we continue the bakery planning–we would welcome any and all of your ideas on what you would like us to offer.   So feel free to email us back or fill out a card with your ideas the next time you are at the market.   We’re very excited about the new bakery, Michaela.

Preparing the cinnamon bread

So as always, thanks for buying local and we hope to see you soon.

Beth and everyone at Corey Lake Orchards

Memorial Day Weekend Update

Asparagus:  We still have asparagus coming on–since the quantity we pick daily depends on the weather, its always best to call when it cools off like it is supposed to this weekend to make sure we have it or place an order.    We think the asparagus will last through the month of May.

Rhubarb:  We have plenty of rhubarb, if you want to freeze it, please order larger quantities in advance, over ten pounds is $2 a pound.

We are slowly beginning to pick a few tomatoes and cucumbers out of the greenhouse.  This year we are raising a smaller size cucumber in the greenhouse in addition to the long ones we usually grow–try them, they are delicious!  It will take several weeks for there to be any quantity coming on so we tend to sell out quickly when we bring them in.   The cooler and longer spring has really held our greenhouse produce back.

Yeah–the first greenhouse tomatoes of the year–they even taste like tomatoes!

Memorial Day happenings:  Bruce will have the brandy house open for tours and tasting (sure to warm you up this cool weekend.) on Saturday from 1 – 4.  Our bakers will have their usual selections of home made pies, cookies and bread.    Since this is a holiday weekend, they will have peach pie (in short supply so available on holidays only) and will have red, white and blue cookies!  Baked goods will be available Friday thru the holiday on Monday.

Plants:  We still have tomato plants, herbs, flowers, squash, pumpkin, watermelon, cantaloupe and pepper plants.  We hope to have cucumber plants by Monday, May 27th.    Plants are going fast so if you are just beginning your garden preparations,  you might want to come get your plants as we will not be getting any more in.  We still have a nice selection of hanging baskets and the large tomato plants for your porch or patio.

The 2013 fruit season:  We felt very blessed when we checked our fruit crops after  the May 12th frost.   While the frost did some damage to our fruit depending on the stage of bloom it was in, compared to the 2012 loss it was minimal.

Fruit Timing:   It looks like the fruit will come in at its normal season, unlike last year when it was 3 weeks early.   This means strawberries the first half of June and cherries toward the end of June, maybe even into July.  We hope to have some early strawberries to sell on the market around June 1 and U-Pick strawberries around June 8th?  We will give you an update in a week when we will know more.

Happenings on the farm:  True to farm life, we spent most of last week moving irrigation around the farm trying to keep our young crops growing and then this week, we find ourselves unable to get in the wet fields with the several days of rain!  The rain and the couple of 80 plus degree days really got things growing–including the weeds–so we have spent a lot of time this week trying to keep the weeds under control–a never ending task.

Irrigation change overs can be a thankless job–thanks Jay

This week we planted peppers, eggplant, watermelon, cantaloupe, our U-Pick tomato field, pumpkins, squash, gladiolus, sunflowers and new this year:  sweet potatoes!    The flower cutting garden got put in adjacent to the market (there are extra flower plants available for sale if you want to do a small cutting garden.)  The orchards have  finished blooming, but the blueberries and strawberries are in full bloom, along with tiny grape clusters now in the vineyards.

Blueberries in bloom are exquisite

 

The strawberry field in full bloom and forming green berries

Little grape clusters forming

Happenings at the market:  Finally—we have all of our approvals in place and have started construction on a bakery!  We have been wanting to get this going now for several years and finally it is becoming a reality.  Thankfully we already have experienced bakers–Michaela and her mother Patti–who have been selling their baked goods here on weekends now for several years.  The bakery will allow us to expand our offerings to you in many ways—while continuing to provide baked goods that utilize the fruits and vegetables we grow here.  The bakery will be located at the market where  we are converting the cold storage room.  So we apologize in advance for some of the construction noise that will be going on for the next month.  When you are here, check out the weekly progress.   We hope to open by July 1.  In the upcoming email/posting updates–Michaela will be giving you more information on the bakery and all the exciting changes about to happen.  Stay tuned!

Pouring the cement floor for the bakery

Hope to see you soon and as always, thanks for buying local.

Beth and everyone at Corey Lake Orchards

Mother’s Day Weekend update!

Do you want to know more about how to find and prepare morel mushrooms?  Local author and biologist Vic Eichler will be at the market on Saturday afternoon, May 11th at 1:30 to give a presentation about morel mushrooms and answer your questions.  Several of his books will be available for sale, including the popular Morel Mushrooms in Michigan and other Great Lake States, Polished Petoskey Stones and Charlevoix Stones.  

Asparagus:  We should have plenty of asparagus this weekend, unless it cools down too much, which will slow it down.  Please see the end of this for some really interesting information about the nutritional value of asparagus.

Rhubarb is finally here, available by the pound.

Plants for sale:   We currently have a selection of cold crop plants: cabbage, kale, brussell sprouts, lettuce, broccoli, swiss chard, etc.   We also have many varieties of tomato plants for sale.    This weekend we will get our pepper and eggplants in–while it is okay to pick these up now, you should wait to plant them until this next cool spell is done.  In a few weeks we will have our “vine” crops:   squash,  melons and cucumbers.

Flowers for a cutting garden.  Many of you have admired the cutting garden that we put out each year by the market.  If you would like to start some of your own, we still have some left.    The annuals we use in the cutting garden are:  cosmos, snapdragons, asters, zinnias, and gomphrena.

Mother’s Day ideas:     This year, consider some of our special Mother’s day items we are putting together. Many of our local vendors will have their items on the market this weekend.  This will include local honey, cards, art and Ruth’s famous pecan and cashew brittle.  We have a nice variety of flower pots and hanging baskets.

Baked Goods for Mom:    This weekend we will have the following:

  • Cookies:  Large, pastel flower cut outs, Monster and Zucchini Chocolate Chip
  • Pies: Apple, Blueberry. Cherry. Cherry Berry and Peach.  Note: Peach pies will be only offered a few times this year until peach season as our frozen peach supplies are limited.  We are making peach available for Mother’s Day weekend.  In addition, since rhubarb is now ready, they will have rhubarb and strawberry-rhubarb pies as well!
  • Sugar Free Pies need to be ordered in advance
  • Also 12 Grain Bread, Whole Wheat Bread and Cinnamon Rolls

  Salad for Mom:  We still have large tomato plants for the patio or to set outside—they are already blooming, staked and some have little tomatoes on them.  Pair these with one of our lettuce bowls that can be put outside, the lettuce can be picked and it grows back! Add a bottle of your Mom’s favorite salad dressing and you have the healthy gift of a fresh salad!

An arranged flower container for the patio or door step for Mom. This year we are combining the best of two things, Cathy’s skills in creating beautiful  flower containers and Beth’s love of collecting vintage items, especially with fruit on them.  Come see the many unique containers available for sale at all price ranges.  If you have a container you would like Cathy to plant, bring it over.

 The Brandy House will be open on Saturday.  Bruce will be open for brandy and wine tasting along with tours of our distillery, on Saturday, May 11th from 1 – 4, and then all Saturdays for the rest of our 2013 season.  Ask to try our new “2D” grape brandy–I tried it today myself and was impressed.   He will be happy to give you some ideas on how to blend our brandies into some wonderful drinks for Mom.

Happenings on the farm:    This has been an exhausting but rewarding week for planting.  We put in 700 new blueberry bushes, replaced 70 pear trees, planted 80 new peach trees and 20 new plum trees.    Today we planted part of our new 4-acre U-Pick apple orchard.  This orchard is specially designed with a wide range of varieties and smaller trees to enhance the U-Pick apple experience in the future.  We just all have to be patient now for about 4 – 5 years!!

The fruit trees blooming this week were stunning.  In 50 years we have never seen so many blossoms on the trees–which is not unexpected due to the fruit loss we experienced last year.  And alas, we also had to start irrigating this week–a big thanks to Jay and the crew who had to get all the systems into a “go” mode, not easy after the irrigation is put away for the winter.

It was “all hands on deck” for the many steps involved in planting the blueberry bushes

 

Replacing pear trees–surrounded by this year’s stunning blooms

Jay searching for the right irrigation coupler, in front of the blooming pear orchard

The first several rows of the new U-Pick apple orchard

Happenings on the market:   We started some market renovations this week which we hope you will like.  We took the asphalt siding off the barn and restored it back to the original wood, we still have one side to go, so please excuse our temporary construction “mess.”  We also did some cement patching of the original 50 year old market floor.

Happy Mother’s Day to all.  This Mother’s Day will remind me and many of you of how much we miss my mother.   But her legacy and spirit continues as we all work to keep the farm and market in the manner in which she and my Dad started.  We like to think she would be pleased with the work we are doing.

Beth and everyone at Corey Lake Orchards thanks you for buying local!  Hope to see you this weekend.

 Special information on asparagus below:

Finally–for those who want to know more about the nutritional value of asparagus, Read on!  Tell us if you like this kind of info and we will try to put it together for other produce.  Thanks to Cathy for compiling this!  I learned a lot about asparagus that i didn’t know!!

Bet you didn’t know asparagus was so good for you…….

Not only is it delicious, but it is packed with nutrients –more than any other vegetable.   Consume only moderate amounts if you suffer from gout because it raises uric acid levels in the body.   Nutritionally speaking, the white variety doesn’t compare to the benefits of the green variety.   Asparagus has only 4 calories per spear or 40 calories per cup and is loaded with all these health benefits.

EXCELLENT SELECTION FOR:

Fiber (3 grams/serving).    Acts as a prebiotic by stimulating “friendly “bacteria which keeps the digestive system healthy

Folate (iron).   Vitamin B helps prevent cardiovascular disease, liver disease, birth defects.   Promotes energy, healing and fights infection

Vitamin K – essential for healthy blood clotting and strong bones.

Low Sodium and low carbohydrates

No Fat or Cholesterol

GOOD SOURCE OF:
Vitamin C – a strong disease- fighting antioxidant

Potassium – to support kidney function

Vitamin E – helps minimizes skin damage from sun exposure, also keeps heart & immune system healthy

Glutathione, which is an anti-inflammatory to help with arthritis

Vitamin A – to promote good vision

Antioxidants (including Zinc) to help fight cancer

HOW TO BUY & STORE:     Fresh is always best but it will keep in the refrigerator for days.    Storing with the stem end in cold water (put in plastic and cover) helps keep it fresh longer.

PREPARATION TIP:   You do not need to cut off the ends of our asparagus.  We pick it where it naturally breaks so it will not be tough.    Rinse in cold water before eating.    It can be  boiled, steamed, roasted, sautéed, grilled, pickled, or eaten au natural (raw).   Be sure to keep cooking time to a minimum as overcooking ruins the flavor, texture and nutritional value.

METHODS OF PREPARING:

·         Grilled:   Toss asparagus in olive oil (or lightly brush).  Grill directly on grate over medium heat (or use non-stick tin foil).   Turn once after 3-5 minutes.   Cooking time depends on how crisp you prefer, usually 6-10 min.   Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, garlic, or other favorite seasonings.

·         Boiled:   Add asparagus to pot of boiling water (optional salt, pepper, and butter)   Boil until bright green (about 3-4 minutes).   Rinse under cold water until cool.   This method is best for cold asparagus recipes.

·         Steamed:   Cook in basket or colander over simmering water until bright green and crisp (about 5 min)

·         Microwave:   Put 1 lb fresh spears in micro-wave safe rimmed plate or shallow dish.   Add ¼ cup of water and cover tightly.   Microwave @ 100% for 4-7 min for spears (4-5 min for pieces)   Stir or turn half way through cooking time.   When cooked you may drizzle lemon juice &/or butter for more flavor.

·         Sauteed:    Heat oil or butter in frying pan-add asparagus.   Cook about 5-7 minutes – stirring often

·         Roasted:    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.   Spread spears on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and roll them around to coat lightly.   Roast spears for about  10-15 min – shaking the pan to roll them around for even browning.   Test with a fork to determine doneness.   Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, garlic or other seasonings.

Raw:   Shave it lengthwise with a vegetable peeler or thinly slice it on an angle – then toss it in a salad.          

 

 


Quick asparagus update–we have lots available right now

These continued days of “summer-like” weather is really bringing on the asparagus–thus we find ourselves just the opposite of last week when we couldn’t bring in enough each day!    We now have plenty of asparagus–as after only 1 week it seems to already be in peak production.  So this is the time you want to stock up for your freezer or pickling & canning needs, or just get a bunch to eat fresh while it is in season.  If you buy 10 pounds or more it is $1.75/pound.  So please come help us with our extra-large pile of asparagus!

Beth & all of us at Corey Lake Orchards

 

 

 

 

Nothing like the first asparagus of the year….

I just finished eating my first asparagus of the year–and it was truly delicious.  I don’t know why the first asparagus of the year always tastes so good….is it because we are craving something fresh after the winter or maybe because we just love asparagus?  My favorite way to cook asparagus is to saute it in olive oil, add a little garlic salt and fresh pepper, and when it is tender—throw a handful of Parmesan cheese on top until it melts.  That for me is a complete meal–nothing else needed!

So what is the asparagus availability?  We did pick today but were sold out around noon.  It will take us a week or so, depending entirely on the weather, for the yield to improve.    On  “summer-like” spring days like today with 75 degrees, we will be able to pick daily.  If it cools off, we’ll pick every other day.

Also, we are in transition of moving out of an 18-year-old field (not very productive) to a new one planted last year (not in its peak production for another 3 years.)  All of these factors affect how much we have on hand to sell, so we do encourage you to call and place an order or call us before you come to make sure we have it on hand.  269-244-5690.    You can also get the latest info on availability by checking our facebook page.    We will post whether we are picking that day and also if we sell out.  If you haven’t, please join our Corey Lake Orchards facebook page.

Why does the asparagus look different this this year?  It is because for about a week, we will be picking in our new field which has two new varieties for us:

  1. Jersey Knight–which is traditional green asparagus but the spears are longer and fatter than the old variety we had.  Do not worry—even with the larger size–it is tender!
  2. Sweet Purple–this is a dark purple that is sweeter than standard green varieties.  The spears are large–but also very tender.   (This is what I had for dinner tonight!)

How long will the aparagus season last?  We hope to have it through the month of May–so about 4 weeks.  We are expecting a shorter season this year given that it started late.

Rhubarb:  We hope to have rhubarb available in about a week.

Please excuse our construction work going on at the market.  We are restoring the original wood barn siding and doing some concrete patching—it will be finished in a few weeks!

Thanks for buying local—and enjoy the asparagus while it is in season.

Beth and everyone at Corey Lake Orchards