Tuesday, February 4, 2014

BGF News 1/2014




Volume XXIII, Number 1    January 2014


Weather notes:  (COLD!)
Precipitation to date this month: Rain: trace
Snow: 5.6”

What’s up on the farm?

Happy New Year to everyone, just a bit late.  We hope the young 2014 has been as kind to you as it has to us.  

There hasn't been anything too exciting around the farm so far this year, besides our annual pilgrimage to the Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) conference.  This is one of our favorite events of the year and we look forward to learning about new farm-related skills, opportunities and techniques.  The best part of the conference though is catching up with farming friends, some of whom we only see “in person” this one time of the year.  

The colder-than-average temperatures have probably been the biggest news on the farm this winter. We are burning through wood much faster than in the past few years, but the additional wood-cutting chores help keep us from gaining too much winter-weight. The animals aren't particularly thrilled with the weather, but as long as we keep them supplied with feed, shelter and warm water, they are all just fine.

Blue and Luci have been enjoying the winter, especially on those sub-zero nights/days when they get to pretend they are house dogs. They do enjoy playing outside in nearly all weather, except rain, and are thrilled when we have visitors (especially kids) who will romp around the farm with them. They continue to take their farm-dog responsibilities very seriously and always let us know when someone drives up our lane, even if it is just us.

The chickens are amazingly hardy and are willing to venture out into all but the coldest temperatures, though on the snowiest days they have to be coaxed out onto the frozen whiteness with piles of fresh greens gleaned from the high tunnels.  Egg production has been slowly improving throughout the winter. We will make eggs available for sale as we have them. If you are in the area and want to stop by the farm for eggs, call and let us know, we will be happy to sell eggs if we have them available.

The bees are shivering the winter away, literally.  During cold weather a honey bee colony forms a ball with the queen in the center of the ball.   The worker bees “shiver” their wing muscles to create heat.  A colony with an ample population can maintain a temperature in the center of the ball in to the 80s! 

The seeds have all been ordered and the last of them arrived this week.  The annual sowing of transplants will begin in the sunroom in the next couple of weeks.  First on the schedule are: onions, leeks, shallots, green onions, edible flowers and perennial herbs. After that, things will start to get serious with the sowings of cabbages and broccoli and the direct sowing will begin in the high tunnels.  Before that can happen though, the winter crops will all be cleared from the tunnels and we will flood each of the beds to help clear the soils there of excess salts.  Then we should be about ready for planting.

We have starting organizing our farm crew for the upcoming season. We are thrilled that 2 of our 3 crew members from last year will be back on the farm with us for another season. We have one opening remaining and are talking to some interested candidates for that job. The line up is looking good!

2014 CSA Season
So, now that we’ve mentioned the 2014 crops and crew, let’s get to the 2014 Summer CSA.  The sign-up period for the season has already begun with veteran CSA members. These members will have until January 31st to let us know if they wish to continue their membership. The following week we will start contacting names from our waiting list to fill in any remaining slots.  If you are a (recent) veteran CSA member and didn't receive a subscription email, please let us know ASAP.  The 2014 Base CSA Membership is $490 for the 20 week season. Deposits ($50) are due at the end of February.  This year, for the first time, we are offering an Early Bird discount: any veteran member submitting their full payment by February 4th can subtract $20 from their total, otherwise, balance payments will be due on May 1st, and we will send out invoices for those amounts during April.  CSA payments can always be made via check or Dwolla. We anticipate the first delivery of the 2014 season to be the first week of June, weather-depending.

Is a monthly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  You can follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm

That’s about it this month, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 


Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Blue & Luci)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

BGF News 12/17/2013



In this week’s box:
Carrot Mix: Napoli, St Valery, Amarillo &/or Purple Haze
Fingerling Potatoes: Rose Finn
Garlic: hardneck & softneck
Kale Mix: Red Russian, Toscano & Vates
Napa Cabbage (also known as Chinese Cabbage)
Shallots: Ambition (tan) & Prisma (purple)
Storage Onions: Copra
Tapestry Salad Mix
Turnips: Hakurei and/or Scarlet Queen
                       
For those with the Egg option [full]: 18 ct  free-range pullet eggs (assorted colors)

Browned Cabbage with Pork

Precipitation this month: Snow 2.0"

What’s up on the farm?

Well here we are at the tail end of 2013 and the final CSA delivery of the season. Again we want to thank Mother Nature for providing us with a little window of warmer weather in which to harvest and deliver your produce. While it wasn't quite balmy, given some of the temperatures we've been experiencing recently, we are feeling pretty fortunate. Some of our crops aren't feeling nearly so fortunate, even the hearty kale has really suffered under the recent extreme cold. You will notice that the bundles of kale in today's delivery are quite a bit smaller and a little softer than in the past. We were shocked at how much damage the kale sustained in the high tunnels, under row cover. We picked every leaf that wasn't completely destroyed in order to send some out in every box, but we aren't particularly proud of the quantity or quality. We hope that the big, delicious, crazy carrots will distract you from the lack of green bounty.

As 2013 comes to a close we are already deep in planning for the new year. The seed catalogs have all arrived and the garden planning sessions are popping up amidst woodcutting chores. There are still a number of chores left to do this year, (all of the row cover is still in the fields from the fall crops) but we are trying to balance the old and the new amid breaks in the weather.

We hope that you have enjoyed your CSA experience this season. If you would like to join us again in 2014, we will start sending out emails to veteran members (you) in January. But you don't have to wait for next spring to get your fresh produce and eggs. Starting early next month, we plan to resume our custom egg and produce sales on an "as available" basis. We will send out an email listing available products and if you are interested, just respond to the email, requesting the items you would like. Currently we plan to continue to use Ritual Café and Peace Tree Brewing Company for these deliveries, so keep an eye on your email in early January.

Thank you for being a part of the BGF family. We wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a new year filled with peace and joy.

Upcoming events:
Prairieland Herbs Sample Sunday, 12/22, Noon-5pm Woodward, IA.
We'll be there (with all our non-perishable products) along with a bunch of other cool craftspeople and artists.


A little detail on your produce this week:
Leafy Greens- these all keep best loosely wrapped in plastic and stored in the crisper drawer.
Napa Cabbage- Store dry, unwashed cabbage in the refrigerator, preferably in the vegetable bin. The outer leaves may eventually get floppy or yellowish, but you can remove and discard them to reveal fresh inner leaves. Cabbage can keep for more than a month. Once it’s cut, seal it in a plastic bag and continue to refrigerate for several weeks. Napa cabbage can be used in nearly any recipe calling for cabbage.
Potatoes- Keep unwashed potatoes in a cool, dark place, such as a loosely closed paper bag in a cupboard or cool basement, and use them within a month. Do not store in the refrigerator; Scrub potatoes gently before cooking. Peeling is a matter of preference.

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  Follow us at our blog at http://beyondthebluegate.blogspot.com/ and on Facebook (just search Blue Gate Farm) and “Like” us.

That’s about it this week, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 

Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Blue & Luci)

This ragout is meant to be a throw-together-fast-on-a-weeknight kind of meal. If you have sweet potatoes instead of turnips, use them. If you have Swiss chard in the fridge but no kale, sub it instead. You may be surprised by how much flavor you can coax, with the help of a well-stocked pantry, out of the ingredients you have on hand.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 Italian chicken sausages, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups de-stemmed, chopped kale (about 1 bunch) or other greens
1/2 cup chicken or mushroom stock
2 16-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Saute onion and turnip for 8 minutes, or until bronzed. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add sausage and garlic to pan. Cook for 2 more minutes, then add kale and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender.

Recipe Source: www.nourishnetwork.com

Browned Cabbage with Pork

One small head cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 c. chopped onion
4 T. cooking oil of your choice, divided
1 lb. ground pork
¼ c. soy sauce
¼ c. water
1 T. cornstarch

            Heat 2 T. oil in a large skillet.  Brown onion and cabbage in oil with skillet partially covered over medium high heat, reducing to medium heat as moisture cooks off.  Remove to large bowl and reserve.  Add remaining 2 T. oil to skillet, add ground pork, and brown meat.  Remove any oil that remains once meat is browned.  Combine soy sauce and water and cornstarch in a small bowl.  Add to skillet with meat, and stir quickly as it thickens.  Return cabbage and onions to skillet and stir well. Serves 4.

Recipe: Angela Tedesco, Turtle Farm CSA

BGF News 12/3/2013




In this week’s box:
Beets: Chioggia (red) & Golden
Chard: Bright Lights Mix
Cabbage: Storage 4 &/or Super Red
Potatoes: German Butterball
Radish Mix: Cherryette, Easter Egg Mix and/or Icicle
Spinach Mix (open top bag): Space, Cardinal, Olympia & Tyee
Sweet Onions: Gold Coin
Tapestry Salad Mix (zip-top bag)
Tatsoi (dark green leafy rosette)
Winter Squash: Butternut (from our friends at Pierce's Pumpkin Patch)
                       
For those with the Egg option [full]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)

Featured Recipe(s) (see below): Rice Fried Vegetables
Steamed Greens with Balsamic Butter
Maple Glazed Beets & Greens

Precipitation in the past month: Rain- 0.75"
                                                   Snow- 1.50" 

What’s up on the farm?

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Mother Nature for her very kind consideration as we harvested for this week's delivery in unseasonably warm weather, especially since it is book-ended by unseasonably cold conditions! Our harvest and prep for the indoor farmer's market a week ago wasn't nearly so pleasant as we were racing the snow, sleet, ice and below freezing temps to get the vegetables in and keep them from freezing. While we did get lots of crops harvested, the ensuing single digit temps finally did in most of our remaining crops in the fields, the spinach, tatsoi and some of the salad mix are the hardy survivors out there but most of the rest of today's delivery was either harvested and stored before the ice (cabbage, potatoes, onions) or came from the high tunnels. Even the protection of the tunnels couldn't combat such deep, early cold and we lost a good amount of our radishes (and some of the chard) as they are in the northern-most high tunnel bed. You are getting a cute little bundle of radishes this week, little because that is all that survived, the chard fared a little better.

Speaking of survivors, every year we hope that some of the crops that challenge us, namely in the squash family will survive the onslaught of insects and produce a good crop. This past year we had pretty good luck with some of our squashes, enough so that both the Summer and Winter CSA's got to have squash once, which is better than we have had some years, but we had hoped for better. This past week we were chatting with our friends & neighbors the Pierce's of Pierce's Pumpkin Patch and they mentioned that they had quite a bit of squash left from their bumper crop. Ah  ha! So as we have done once before, we purchased some of their surplus to share with our members. This is conventionally-raised squash, not chemical-free, but the Pierce's are responsible with their chemical-use and we feel comfortable eating their products, in fact this is where we buy all of the squash for our own use as we never have enough of our own. So use it as you will, we think it is delicious and hope you enjoy it.

We have been doing a few things besides dodging the cold weather for harvesting. The alpaca shed has two new windows, much to the appreciation of Boris & Abby. The wood-cutting season has begun in earnest and will continue as a weekly outing through next March, at least. The chickens and alpacas have moved to their winter pasture locations and tomorrow we will start stripping all the low tunnels from the fields. We are also prepping for the remaining holiday markets and hosting visitors as they come thorough visiting family and friends.

Upcoming events:
First Annual Artisan Holiday Bazaar, Sunday 12/8, 11am-5pm
3108 49th St, Des Moines. In Beaverdale, between Douglas and Hickman (private home, public event). We'll be there (with all our non-perishable products) along with a bunch of other craftspeople and artists.

Downtown Des Moines Winter Market (indoors at Capitol Square) 12/13-14.
A great opportunity to stock up on fresh produce, gifts and supplies for the holiday season. We'll be on the ground floor near the Nolan Plaza exit, stop by and say hello!

A little detail on your produce this week:
Beets- Separate roots from tops. Store each in a plastic bag in the produce drawer. Roots will keep for a month or more and are delicious just sliced raw, but also tasty roasted. Leaves are a tasty cooked green very similar to chard.

Winter Squash- Store winter squash in a cool, dry, dark place with good ventilation for up to a month, depending on the variety. Once squash has been cut, you can wrap the pieces in plastic and refrigerate them for five to seven days. To make it easier to prep winter squash for your recipe, try the prebaking method: pierce the squash to allow heat to escape while it is in the oven, then bake the squash whole at 350° F until it is just barely tender to the poke of the finger, 20 to 30 minutes. This softens the shell and makes cutting and peeling much easier.

Leafy Greens (chard, tatsoi, beet/turnip tops, ect) - Store in a plastic bag in the produce drawer for up to two weeks.

Potatoes & Onions - store on the counter for short-term use. For longer storage, keep in a cool, dark place with good air circulation (garages and basements can be a good choice).

Cabbage- Very tender and sweet. Wrap in plastic and store in the produce drawer. Enjoy as you would any cabbage, but we particularly like them "leafed out" (pulled apart into their individual leaves) and then either spread with peanut butter and rolled up for a quick energy snack or even better, sauteed in butter until slightly wilted, then sprinkled with a touch of sea salt. YUM!


Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  Follow us at our blog at http://beyondthebluegate.blogspot.com/ and on Facebook (just search Blue Gate Farm) and “Like” us.

That’s about it this week, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 

Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Blue & Luci)

Rice Fried Vegetables
Serves 4

In this vegetable fried rice reversal, the vegetables are dominant and the rice secondary. Feel free to substitute, add, or augment the vegetables—just don’t subtract.

1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil or peanut oil, divided
3 large eggs, beaten
3 green onions, chopped (¼ cup)
3 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
4 cups chopped fresh broccoli
½ lb. chopped asparagus or green beans
1 medium carrot, cut in thin slices on the diagonal (½ cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
4 cups chopped kale, collards, spinach, or Swiss chard
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. sriracha chile sauce
1 ½ cups frozen peas, thawed
⅔ cup toasted sliced almonds

Heat small skillet over medium heat 1 minute. Add 1 tsp. oil, and swirl to coat pan. Wait 30 seconds, then add eggs. Tilt pan in all directions to let eggs flow to edges, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, lifting cooked eggs to allow uncooked eggs to flow underneath. Flip omelet, and cook 30 seconds more, or until dry, but not browned. Transfer to plate, and cut into strips.
Heat large, deep skillet or wok over medium heat 1 minute. Add remaining oil and swirl to coat pan. Add green onions and ginger, and sauté 5 minutes or until onions are soft. Stir in broccoli, asparagus, carrot, and garlic, and stir-fry 8 to 10 minutes, or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Fold in kale with tongs. Cook 2 minutes, or until kale is bright green and slightly wilted. Stir in rice, soy sauce, egg strips, and sriracha chile sauce. Serve topped with peas and almonds.

Recipe Source: www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/rice-fried-vegetables/
 
Maple Glazed Beets & Greens

1 bunch of beets (I used 3 beets total)
olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or more if you’re feeling saucy)

A word of caution: beets stain. everything. So be careful – paper towels are your friend when handling them.
Trim stems from beets, leaving about 1 inch on (so you have something to hold onto when removing skins later). Separate leaves from stems and reserve for later then give beets a good scrubbing. Admire their brilliant color.

Drizzle each beet with olive oil and wrap up with aluminum foil.

Be generous with the aluminum foil so your poor little beets don’t bleed through in the oven and leave a lovely stain on your favorite oven mitt….

Place beets in oven and cook at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until tender (poke a skewer in to check).  Remove from oven and let cool. Carefully unwrap each beet and use a knife to gently scrape off the skin. Chop beets into cubes.

Roughly chop or tear the reserved greens and add to pan heated with olive oil and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add in chopped beets, followed by maple syrup. Cook for another 2-3 minutes then remove from heat.

Plate up: Simply place on plate, step back & let the gorgeous colors of the beets speak for themselves.

Recipe Source: www.thesimplelens.com


Steamed Greens with Balsamic Butter
The recipe makes far more balsamic butter than you'll need for the spinach, so save the rest for another use, such as spreading on roasted salmon or braised endive.
Serves 6

1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-3 bunches Tatsoi or other greens (chard, choi, turnip greens), washed and trimmed

1. Combine the vinegar and wine in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and reduce by half. Remove from the heat and add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until all the butter is incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Steam the spinach for 2 to 3 minutes, or until wilted; use tongs to toss the leaves so they wilt evenly. Transfer to a serving bowl.
3. Spoon one-third of the balsamic butter over the spinach and toss to mix. Taste, adding more butter if needed (reserve the rest for another use).

Recipe Source: Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century by Amanda Hesser.

BGF News 11/5/2013



In this week’s box:
Broccoli: Pacman
Chard: Bright Lights Mix
Daikon (long, single white root with green leafy top)
Fingerling Potatoes: Banana
Mini cabbages: Gonzalez &/or Super Red
Spinach Mix (open top bag)
Sweet Onions: Ailsa Craig
Sweet Peppers: Ace (green/red), Golden Marconi (long, pointed, green/yellow), Islander (purple/orange) or      Sunray (green/yellow)
Tapestry Salad Mix (zip-top bag)
Turnips: Hakurei (white) & Scarlet Queen (pink) (round, pink & white roots with green leafy tops)
Winter Squash: Butternut
                       
For those with the Egg option [full]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Preserves option: first delivery on 11/19

Featured Recipe(s) (see below): Roasted Broccoli with Lemon & Pecorino
Easy Daikon Salad
Turnips Sauteed with Garlic and Onion

Precipitation in the past two weeks: 1.05"

What’s up on the farm?

Welcome to the first delivery of the 2013 Winter CSA season!  We hope you are looking forward to bountiful fresh, chemical-free produce for the next two months.  Just a reminder that the Winter CSA delivers every other week, so if you show up next week, you might be able to enjoy a nice cup of coffee or a good book, but we won’t be there. We will return with the next delivery on 11/19, please remember to bring your empty box along with you at that time so we can re-fill it for you for the December deliveries.

We have been celebrating the mild fall that nature has been sharing with us, not to mention the lovely rains of the past month.  It seems like we have more produce available now than we have had all year and we are putting as much as we can into your boxes this week, because you never know when this lovely weather trend will end.  I heard the word snow in the forecast for later this week, we like snow, but aren't necessarily ready for it now. Regardless, we have been celebrating the fine weather by getting a good start on our chores for the winter.  Tools and supplies are cleaned and put away, including the extensive irrigation system that we used so heavily this summer. We haven't yet started up the wood-fired boiler, which provides heat to the sunroom (our plant nursery) and supplemental heat to the house, but that will happen soon enough. So, too will begin the winter-long activity of wood-cutting, which is our primary source of winter exercise. We really prefer to wait until colder weather for that to begin.  The high tunnel crops are coming along well and we continue to do maintenance/care on those, as well as minor care of the field crops that are still going strong. Truly, at this time of year, our biggest challenge is keeping the 70' - 150' pieces of row cover fabric on the field crops and not tearing off or bludgeoning the vegetables in the brisk fall winds.

One of our most important fall tasks is the planting of the garlic!  We have gotten about 110 lbs of seed garlic planted so far. We ran a little shorter than we planned with our seed saving, so we added a new variety from a farm in New Mexico to try out for next year. Hopefully we will have good success with this variety and we look forward to sharing it with our members in the future. As soon as we finish planting this new variety, we will mulch the whole lot with straw and wait for the spring.

There has been much other excitement around the farm as we retired our oldest flock of laying hens to "freezer camp" on the same day that 120 new girls came to the farm as their replacements.  The new birds are just at six moths old - referred to as a "pullet" at this age - and were raised for us by an Amish farmer in Pulaski, IA (inches from the Missouri border).  Many haven't started to lay eggs yet but those that have are laying smaller eggs for the moment.  For those with the egg option you will discover one pullet egg in each dozen.  The larger eggs come from our slightly older flock (not the oldest ones sent to freezer camp).

However the biggest news on the farm has been the arrival of a breeding pair of alpacas. Boris & Abby came from friends near Perry that are retiring from the critter business. They are lovely, peaceful animals who mostly graze, soak up the late fall sun and keep us entertained with their unique noises. Come spring they will provide wonderful fiber for Jill's handspun yarns and some summer they may also provide us with a cria (baby alpaca), not to mention the added fertility that they will add to the compost piles. You can see photos of the new arrivals on the farm's Facebook page.

All that said, things have certainly started to slow down for the year. With the end of Daylight Savings Time, evening chores are done by 5pm. The winter tradition of attending farming conferences has begun, the farm crew is getting some days off and more household chores are being attended to. It has been quite a year here at BGF and I guess we are all ready for things to start to wind down. It is that time of year.

Upcoming events:
Downtown Des Moines Harvest Market (indoors at Capitol Square) 11/22-23 and 12/13-14.
A great opportunity to stock up on fresh produce, gifts and supplies for the holiday season. We'll be on the ground floor near the Nolan Plaza exit, stop by and say hello!

A little detail on your produce this week:
Broccoli-Wrap loosely in a plastic bag and keep it in the produce drawer of your refrigerator for up to a week. Immediately before cooking, soak broccoli, head down, in cold, salted water (1 teaspoon salt to a 8 cups of water) for 5 minutes. Any [organic] critters will float to the top where you can rescue them or allow them to suffer a salty death. (Note: If you soak broccoli in salt water before storing, it will become too rubbery and wilted to enjoy.) Slice the juicy, edible stems and use them wherever florets are called for. Peel particularly thick skin before using.

Daikon- a large member of the radish family, popular in many Asian cuisines. Store like you would smaller radishes, remove the greens and wrap in plastic in your produce drawer. Daikon can store for several weeks, but is best used in a week or two. Delicious sliced or grated and added to salads, soups or just enjoyed as a low calorie, high fiber snack with hummus or other dips. The greens can be stored in a separate bag and once separated from their tough stems, can be cooked just like any other green, leafy vegetable. We like them added to soups or egg dishes.

Leafy Greens (chard, kale, braising greens, spinach, ect) - Store in a plastic bag in the produce drawer for up to two weeks.

Potatoes, Winter Squash, Onions & Garlic- store on the counter for short-term use. For longer storage, keep in a cool, dark place with good air circulation (garages and basements can be a good choice).

Mini cabbage- just a dainty version of the larger cabbages. Very tender and sweet. Wrap in plastic and store in the produce drawer. Enjoy as you would any cabbage, but we particularly like them "leafed out" (pulled apart into their individual leaves) and then either spread with peanut butter and rolled up for a quick energy snack or even better, sauteed in butter until slightly wilted, then sprinkled with a touch of sea salt. YUM!

Turnips- Separate roots from tops. Store each in a plastic bag in the produce drawer. Roots will keep for a month or more and are delicious just sliced raw, but also tasty roasted, mashed or cubed and added to soups. Leaves are a tasty cooked green.

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  Follow us at our blog at http://beyondthebluegate.blogspot.com/ and on Facebook (just search Blue Gate Farm) and “Like” us.

That’s about it this week, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 

Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Blue & Luci)


Roasted Broccoli with Lemon & Pecorino
Serves 4

1 ½ lb broccoli
¼ cup plus 2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
2 TBS fresh lemon juice; more to taste
1/3 cup fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°. Tear off any broccoli leaves and trim the bottoms of the stems, Cut the florets just above where they join the large stem, and then cut each floret through its stem (but not the buds) so that each piece is about ¼ inch thick at the stem end. Using a paring knife, peel the tough outer skin from the large ste, removing as little flesh as possible. Cut the stem into baton shaped pieces about ¼” wide and 2 inches long.

Put the florets and stem pieces on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with the salt and toss well to combine. Spread the broccoli into an even layer and roast until tender and golden brown, 15 – 20 minutes. Transfer the broccoli to a serving platter, toss with the lemon juice and some of the grated Pecorino; save some to sprinkle on top.

Recipe Source: Fine Cooking: Weekend Cooking 2007


Easy Daikon Salad

2 cups julienne cut daikon radish (I used my food processor to cut it)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp sweet rice wine (mirin)
OPTIONAL crushed peanuts
  1. Place the daikon in a colander/mesh strainer over a bowl or the sink and sprinkle with salt. Mix well. Let sit for 30 minutes. Squeeze out excess water and then rinse well with cold water. Drain.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the seasoned rice vinegar, sugar and rice wine. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves (this will only take a few minutes).
  3. Transfer the daikon to an airtight container and pour the rice vinegar mixture over. Shake or stir well to combine. Chill for 20 minutes before serving.
  4. This can store for up to a few days in the fridge, if it lasts that long. If desired, serve topped with crushed peanuts.
Recipe Source: http://sarahscucinabella.com

Turnips Sauteed with Garlic and Onion

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup onion, finely minced
1 Tbsp olive oil

1 bunch Japanese or other turnips, approx 1 to 1 1/2 cups sliced  
In heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat, saute onion in olive oil until translucent.  Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add turnips and continue cooking over medium-low heat until turnips, onions, and garlic are all soft and caramelized (but not burned--watch carefully). 
Makes 2 servings.

Recipe Source: http://afridgefulloffood.typepad.com

BGF News 10/15/2013



In this week’s box:
Beets: Chioggia and/or Golden
Braising Greens: Osaka Purple Mustard, Senposai & Collards
Garlic: Northern White
Kohlrabi: Eder (green) and/or Koolibri (purple)
Storage Onions: Copra
Sweet Peppers: Ace (green/red), Golden Marconi (long, pointed, green/yellow), Islander (purple/orange) or      Sunray (green/yellow)
Sweet Potatoes: Beauregard
Tomatoes: asst, see descriptions in the 7/30 newsletter
and one of the following:                      
Broccoli florets
Broccoli Raab
            Mini Bell Peppers (in plastic bag)         
            Okra: Burgundy
            Tapestry Salad Mix
                       
For those with the Cheese option: Lemon Curd Chevre & Basil Feta
For those with the Egg option [full]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: lemongrass, anise hyssop & pineapple mint
For those with the Honey option: one bottle liquid honey

Featured Recipe(s) (see below): Slow-Roasted Peppers in Balsamic Garlic Glaze
Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes  
Kohlrabi Greens with Toasted Sesame Oil and Soy Sauce

Precipitation in the past week: 0.12"

What’s up on the farm?

Well here it is, the final delivery of the 2013 Summer CSA season. Every year it seems these 20 weeks go by faster and faster. In that time we've tilled, sowed, transplanted, weeded, mowed, tried new crops and tilled under failing ones. We've had fields that were too wet, too dry, too weedy and very nearly perfect for vegetables production. We've tried new varieties of crops and retired those that just weren't performing well and now we are looking forward to starting it all over again for next season (after a little winter's rest.)  We hope you have enjoyed our veggie adventure together this year and if you aren't joining us for the Winter Share, we will look forward to seeing you again next Summer! We will be starting the signup period for the 2014 season in early December, so you can anticipate receiving an email from us about that time. We want to take the opportunity to thank you all for being an important part of the BGF family and for helping to make it possible for us to raise and provide our members and customers with fresh, chemical-free produce. Our members are the core of that plan. We also want to thank The Next Chapter in Knoxville and Ritual Café in Des Moines for offering us a "home away from home" and a convenient place to deliver your produce. We hope you will show them the same generosity they have given all of us. This is a perfect embodiment of Buy Fresh, Buy Local!

The kohlrabi in your boxes this week is a little goofy, but we wanted you to have a chance to try it. We had an entire spring crop that just never did much, finally as we were ready to clean out that bed last week, we discovered that a number of the heads had finally sized up a bit so we harvested all of the usable ones yesterday and then added some from the new fall crop to them, so everyone will receive a couple of older heads and at least one new one. It will be easy to tell the difference just by looking at the skin and leaves, which is which. The older ones will want to be peeled before using, the fall bulbs will require no such attention before using.

The garlic is also a little special this time around. Due to the conditions when we harvested (rock hard, dry soil) we had a fairly high number of heads that were damaged this year. Generally there is one clove on the head that was scraped or stabbed during digging, making it unfit for sale. Normally that is "family garlic" or what we use in our house and offer to the crew. This year there is A LOT of it, way more than we can use, so in the interest of stocking you up for the weeks ahead, we've decided to send it out in this final delivery. You will find 2 undamaged heads and several with "issues". Use the damaged heads first, simply discarding the damaged clove and use the blemish-free heads for storage. This should extend your garlic stock a bit and keep us from wasting  it.

The Winter CSA is scheduled to start on Tuesday, November 5th. For those of you new to the group, we offer a separate season extension for the months of November & December.  The schedule is a little different as we do bi-weekly deliveries, with a larger produce volume at each delivery.  This works well because the cool weather produce has extended storage ability.  There will be a total of four deliveries spaced every other Tuesday on the following dates: 11/5, 11/19, 12/3, 12/17. Delivery locations will be the same as they are now. The base membership for produce is $240.  Add-on options include: eggs @ $16 (four deliveries) and preserves @ $12 (two deliveries).  We have to limit the number of members we can accommodate for the Winter membership due to significant challenges provided by the weather.  Veteran Winter CSA members have until end of day today to sign up and then any open slots will be made available to current CSA members on a first come-first served basis. If you haven't previously participated in the Winter CSA and would like to join us, please send us an email indicating your interest by Monday, Oct 21.

Upcoming events:
Downtown Des Moines Harvest Market (indoors at Capitol Square) 11/22-23 and 12/13-14.
A great opportunity to stock up on fresh produce, gifts and supplies for the holiday season.


A little detail on your produce this week:
Kohlrabi-Its almost like a fleet of alien spacecraft landed in the fields—green and purple orbs growing lightly on the soil, antennas splayed in all directions. If we left them there long enough, they might actually levitate. These oddities are in fact fellow earthlings and relatives of broccoli. Kohlrabi initiates know what a treasure these outlandish vegetables are in the kitchen. Their sweet crunch is excellent cooked or raw. If you plan to use it soon, wrap the whole unwashed kohlrabi— stem, stalks, leaves, and all—in a plastic bag and keep it in the refrigerator. Otherwise, remove the stalks and greens from the bulb and use them within a week. Store the bulb in another plastic bag in the fridge and use it within two weeks. Rinse kohlrabi under cold running water just before use. Unless the skin seems particularly tough, kohlrabi does not have to be peeled. Just trim off the remains of the stalks and root. Grate, slice, or chop kohlrabi as desired. We like the bulb sliced and eaten raw with a bit of salt. Don't forget about the leaves though, they are delightful cooked with garlic and olive oil or made into pesto.

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  Follow us at our blog at http://beyondthebluegate.blogspot.com/ and on Facebook (just search Blue Gate Farm) and “Like” us.

That’s about it this week, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 

Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Blue & Luci)

Slow-Roasted Peppers in Balsamic Garlic Glaze

3 ripe (red, yellow, orange) peppers, sliced into generous bite-size pieces
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
Sea salt & cracked pepper

Heat oven to 300 F

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce.

Meanwhile, place sliced peppers in an oven proof dish.  Sprinkle with garlic slices and top with well whisked balsamic glaze.  Add a sprinkle of sea salt and cracked pepper.

Roast peppers for 1 hour, turning on occasion.  Turn oven up to 375 and roast for another 10 minutes or until peppers are sizzling and just beginning to char.  Remove peppers from oven and allow them to cool slightly before serving warm.

Recipe Source: http://www.inspirededibles.ca

Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes    

Yields: 6 servings

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon     3/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (optional)

1.         Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Pour the oil into a 9x13 inch baking dish, and place in the oven until hot, about 5 minutes.
2.         Add potatoes to the oiled dish, and bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, turning after 10 minutes. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.
3.         After the 20 minutes is up, remove the potatoes from the oven, and sprinkle with the brown sugar mixture. Stir to coat. Return to the oven, and roast for another 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and golden brown. Stir potatoes as necessary to allow them to brown evenly.
4.         Remove potatoes to paper towels to drain, then transfer to a serving dish, and sprinkle with lime juice.

Recipe Source: www.allrecipes.com

   1        large bunch kohlrabi greens
   1        tsp. toasted sesame oil
   ~       Good-quality soy sauce, to taste
   ~       Shichimi, to garnish (see note)
  1. Tear the leaves away from tough ribs and stems. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the kohlrabi leaves, and boil until tender, 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the age of the leaves. Fish out a leaf and taste it after 1 minute to determine cooking time.
  2. Drain the greens in a colander and push on them with a spatula to remove as much water as possible. Roughly chop the cooked greens and place them on a serving plate. Toss with the sesame oil and soy sauce to taste. Sprinkle with shichimi and serve as a side dish with rice and steamed fish or a meat stir-fry.
Shichimi is a Japanese condiment made from sesame seeds, nori seaweed, and red chile flakes. It is available at most Asian grocery stores, or you can substitute toasted sesame seeds and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Recipe Source: unknown

Mental Updates

No, we are not updating our public on our mental statuses, which are questionable at best! But, much to your undoubted amazement, we have been updating the blog, mentally. Huh. Funny how that doesn't seem to have translated to ACTUAL blog updates. Must work on that skill in the future!

So hang on to your hats and get ready for some serious updating!
First we will start with the backlog of CSA newsletters...sorry, these wont include the actual vegetables, but maybe they will help us all to remember the bounty that was, and that will be!

There is so much to write about, like alpacas, CSA, farmers market, weather, events and, did I mention alpacas?

Well, let's get caught up!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

BGF News 10/8/2013

Volume XXI, Number 19

In this week’s box:
Carrots: Bolero, St. Valery, Amarillo & Rainbow
Cherry Tomato mix
Head Lettuce: Bronze Arrowhead (red) and Concept (green)
Kale Mix: Red Russian, Beedy's Camden, Toscano & Vates
Potatoes: Desiree
Scallions
Sweet Peppers
Tomatoes: asst varieties, see descriptions in the 7/30 newsletter
and perhaps one of the following:         
            Broccoli florets
            Broccoli raab
            Mini Bell Peppers (small, sweet, red, yellow & green) bagged to differentiate from hot peppers        
            Okra: Burgundy           
            Tapestry Salad Mix

For those with the Cheese option: we are experiencing a one week delay, expect a special cheese delivery next
            week (sorry for the inconvenience!)
For those with the Egg option [full & half]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: sweet basil, lemon thyme, par-cel
For those with the Honey option: final delivery next week, liquid honey only 

Featured Recipe(s) (see below): Warming Winter Kale & Potatoes

Tuscan Bean & Kale Soup
Heirloom Tomato Pasta with Scallions & Mozzarella

Precipitation in the past week: 0.39”  
   
What’s up on the farm?
This past week was a whirlwind of harvesting and preparation for Farm Crawl. We had a passel of family in for the weekend from Chicago, Denver and Australia and they were a helpful lot. Nearly the whole farm was mowed, trimmed, buffed, polished, tidied and tucked…there's nothing like inviting more than a thousand of your closest friends, neighbors and folks you've never seen before to come to your farm on a cold, rainy fall day. And what a day it was! Despite the weather, we had more than 1,280 people at BGF on Sunday. The other seven farms reported similar attendance and were similarly amazed at the enthusiasm of the crowds. If you were among the hearty "Crawlers", thanks for coming out to enjoy the rural countryside, if you weren't able to join us, you can put it on your calendar for next year, first Sunday in October!

Now back to your regularly scheduled program (farm)! Now that the big excitement is done, we are back to the seasonal tasks at hand. We will start clearing the warm weather crops from the high tunnels later this week and then the last rounds of sowing and transplanting will begin. We won't start the big clearing jobs in the field until we get a hard freeze, and we aren't seeing much sign of that in the immediate future.

The end is near! Next week is the final delivery of the Summer 2013 CSA season. It hardly seems possible that we started on this veggie adventure 20 weeks ago, but there it is. Please make a special effort to remember your empty box next week so you aren't stuck with it for the winter. We will pack your produce in bags so there wont be an empty box for you to worry about. If you are interested in joining us for the Winter season, you can read more details below.

The Winter CSA is scheduled to start on Tuesday, November 5th. For those of you new to the group, we offer a separate season extension for the months of November & December.  The schedule is a little different as we do bi-weekly deliveries, with a larger produce volume at each delivery.  This works well because the cool weather produce has extended storage ability.  There will be a total of four deliveries spaced every other Tuesday on the following dates: 11/5, 11/19, 12/3, 12/17. Delivery locations will be the same as they are now. The base membership for produce is $240.  Add-on options include: eggs @ $16 (four deliveries) and preserves @ $12 (two deliveries).  We have to limit the number of members we can accommodate for the Winter membership due to significant challenges provided by the weather.  We will open the sign-up period to our veteran Winter CSA members first and then any open slots will be made available to current CSA members on a first come-first served basis.  If you have participated in the Winter CSA in the past, you have until Tuesday, October 15th to send us an email indicating your interest and option choices.

A little detail on your produce this week:

Carrots: remove greens and store roots in a plastic bag in the produce drawer of your refrigerator. No need to peel (most of the nutrients are just beneath the skin) just a quick scrub and they are ready to enjoy.
Head Lettuce: We like to wrap heads in a clean dish towel and then place in a plastic bag in the produce drawer. They can last several weeks that way.

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  Follow us at our blog at http://beyondthebluegate.blogspot.com/ and on Facebook (just search Blue Gate Farm) and “Like” us.

That’s about it this week, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 

Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Blue & Luci)

Warming Winter Kale & Potatoes

Serves: 4
1lb potatoes
8oz kale
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onions, chopped
salt to taste      


1. Boil the potatoes until tender, cool in cold water and cut into thick slices.
2. Wash the kale, drain and remove the stems and midribs. Stack the leaves up and shred quite finely.
3. Saute the onion in the hot oil in a large skillet until it just begins to brown. Add the kale and toss it until it just begins to wilt.
4. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to stir fry for 5 more minutes.
5. Add the potatoes and cook until they are heated through. Season to taste and serve.
Recipe Source: Riverford Organic Vegetables Website  <www.riverford.co.uk>

Tuscan Bean & Kale Soup

1 c. diced carrots, celery, and onions
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 cans garbanzo beans (15.5 oz.), rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes (30 oz.) (or chopped, fresh tomatoes)
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme (or 2 tsp fresh)
3 bay leaves
1 tsp. ground coriander
salt and pepper, to taste
3 c. herbed tomato sauce
3-1/2 c. water
2 c. fresh kale greens, chopped

Saute carrots, celery, and onions in small amount of water until soft.  Add garlic, saute an additional minute.  Add garbanzo beans; stir.  Add diced tomatoes with juice and herbs and spices.  Cook 2 minutes.  Add tomato sauce and water.  On high heat, bring to simmer.  Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.  Add kale.  Cook, stirring as needed, an additional 10 minutes.  Remove bay leaves before serving.  Sprinkle individual servings with shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Recipe Source: The Rosemary House

Heirloom Tomato Pasta with Scallions & Mozzarella

3 garlic cloves, minced
extra-virgin olive oil
3 large heirloom tomatoes (the gnarlier the shape and crazier the color, the better)
kosher salt
bunch of scallions, thinly sliced lengthwise
bunch of basil, torn into large pieces
5 or 6 oz of fresh mozzarella balls (bocconcini), or one large piece cut into 1″ squares
1 lb pasta (I used fresh spinach spaghetti, but plain penne or linguine would work just as well)
 sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring pasta water to a boil in a large pot, add a healthy dose of kosher salt, then cook the pasta according to package directions. When it reaches al denté, drain. While  the pasta is cooking, start the sauce.
Chop the tomatoes into big, 1″ chunks. Over medium heat, swirl a tablespoon of olive oil to coat the bottom of a large sauté pan. Cook the minced garlic until it starts to turn golden, then add all the tomatoes and their juices. Let cook for 2 minutes, then add scallions. Let cook for a couple minutes just until the scallions start to get a bit soft. Sprinkle vegetables with kosher salt, then add basil (reserving a few sprigs) and cooked pasta.
Add fresh mozzarella, kosher salt and pepper, another drizzle of olive oil to get all the pasta strands lightly coated, and give it all a big toss. Serve in bowls garnished with a few sprigs of basil and freshly-grated parmesan.

Recipe Source: http://camillestyles.com/