Tuesday, July 17, 2018

BGF News - July 17, 2018-Vol. XL, No.7


In this week’s box:

Broccoli: Belstar
Choi: Vivid (leafy bundle with pink/purple stems) and/or Joi (dk green leaves, white stems)
Cucumber: Diva/Marketmore  (green, English), Suyo Long (long green, Asian)
                     or Lemon (round, yellow)
Garlic: Northern White
Head Lettuce: Kiribati (bright green), Muir (dk green) or Magenta (red)
Potatoes: Red Gold  
Summer Squash: Slik Pik (yellow), Zephyr (yellow & green), Golden Glory (yellow zucchini), 
                                Patty Pan (saucer-shaped, green/yellow/white) or 8 Ball (round, green)

and at least one of the following:
Bean Mix: Carson (yellow) & Empress (green)
Cherry Tomato Mix
Eggplant: Orient Express (dk purple), Orient Charm (lavendar) or Listada (striped)
Okra: Bowling Red & Candle Fire
Peppers: Ace (red)
Snow Peas: Oregon Giant

For those with the Egg option [full & half shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (asst. colors)
For those with the Herb option: Sweet basil, lemon thyme, chives 


What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: Trace

Coming to a CSA box near you!
It's hard to believe with all the crazy rains in the past month, that there are parts of Iowa still in drought conditions. Our area is rated "Abnormally Dry" which is just below the first "Drought" level. We are running the irrigation system in a near constant rotation to try and keep everything going. The greatest challenge is with newly transplanted crops and germinating seed. We also have crops that are "offended" by the high temperatures. Plants like beans will drop their blooms in high heat because the pollen isn't viable. No bloom means no bean. Now that the temperatures have moderated we are starting to see new bud set on the plants so there are many more beans to come, but our harvest this week is greatly decreased so beans are back on the "possible" list for today's delivery.

There are some crops that aren't nearly as "irritated" by the heat. The tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and okra are growing along steadily. We are starting to see our first ripening fruits on the smaller variety tomatoes and peppers so we'll be sending out the first tastes of those this week. Don't worry, if you don't see any in your box this week, there are many, many more to come!

Speaking of the heat and tomatoes, we decided to take advantage of this past week's hot, dry weather to finally get the rest of the tomato trellis posts put in. It takes a long time to pound posts in 95° weather, as frequent shade and water breaks are required, but we got it done. Now we are working to get the plants all pruned and trellised. It is a long task and we are late in getting it done, so the plants are much larger than normal.

The warm dry conditions were perfect for finishing off the garlic this week as well. The whole plot was pulled, bundled and hung in the barn to cure. Once it is dry (in a few weeks) we will trim and bag it for long term storage.

Collecting garlic bundles from the field
One of six loads headed to the barn for curing














We finished off this week with our annual CSA Member Ice Cream Social. It'a always fun to have members out to the farm and everyone seems to enjoy the afternoon, especially the dogs, who got lots of great attention! We played games, ate tasty treats and enjoyed some nice chats in the shade.



A little detail on your produce this week:

Broccoli: Wrap broccoli loosely in a plastic bag and keep it in the vegetable bin 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.

Choi (a.k.a. - pac choi, bok choy or pok choy) is a member of the cabbage family and is a traditional Asian stir-fry vegetable.  Both the stems and leaves of choi can be used and are especially tasty in cooked recipes.  If cooking them, separate the leaves and stems, and begin cooking stems first to avoid overcooking the more tender greens. You can also use the leaves like any green-leafy vegetable and the stems like celery.  We tend to use choi leaves as a sandwich wrap, or just roughly chop the whole thing and sauté with garlic and/or onion.  Cook until stems are tender and dress with a little seasoned rice vinegar. Store choi loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in your produce drawer.

Cucumber: Store unwashed cucumbers in a sealed plastic bag in the vegetable crisper bin for about a week. Keep cucumbers tucked far away from tomatoes, apples, and citrus—these give off ethylene gas that accelerates cucumber deterioration. You can do a lot of fancy things to the skin of a cucumber, but when it is young, fresh (and unwaxed), it really only needs to be thoroughly washed. However, if the skin seems tough or bitter you can remove it; if the seeds are bulky, slice the cucumber lengthwise and scoop them out.

Eggplant prefers to be kept at about 50° F, which is warmer than most refrigerators and cooler than most kitchen counters. Wrap unwashed eggplant in a towel, then place in a plastic bag to absorb any moisture and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Used within a week, it should still be fresh and mild. Many people like to peel, salt, and drain their eggplant to draw out any bitter flavor; however, bitterness develops only in eggplant that has been stored for a while, so with farm-fresh specimens this is generally not necessary. Many recipes call for salting in order to make the vegetable less watery and more absorbent—much like draining tofu. Salting is not an essential step, but it can greatly enhance the taste and texture of your dish and is well worth the extra effort.

Garlic: This is now partially cured, so just store on the counter for short term and in a dark place with good air circulation for long term storage. Keeps for 3-5 months.

Okra: These lovely, dark red, horn-shaped vegetables are a warm weather treat. Extremely cold sensitive, store in their plastic bag in the warmest part of your fridge, or place the plastic bag in a small paper sack and store in the crisper drawer and use within the week. Traditional southerners will cut into rounds, bread in cornmeal and fry, but our favorite version is our dear friend Annie's method, "All I do is rinse off the pods and lay them in a saucepan with a little water in the bottom. Ten to fifteen minutes is all it takes...twenty if the pods are really big and "woody" feeling. I put salt on them and eat as finger food. It reminds me of young sweet corn."

Potatoes: Keep unwashed potatoes in a cool, dark, dry place, such as a loosely closed paper bag in a cupboard. They will keep for weeks at room temperature, longer if you can provide their ideal temperature of 40 to 50 degrees. Beware: the low temperature of your refrigerator will convert the starch to sugars. Moisture causes potatoes to spoil, light turns them green, and proximity to onions causes them to sprout. (You can still use a potato that has sprouted, however; simply cut off the “eyes” before use.) Potatoes store best if they haven't been washed, so we send them out in their "dust jackets". Just before using, scrub potatoes well and cut off any sprouts or green skin. (Clean delicate new potatoes gently.) Peeling is a matter of preference.


Summer Squash/Zucchini: Refrigerate unwashed zucchini and summer squash for up to a week and a half in a perforated plastic bag or in a sealed plastic container lined with a kitchen towel.

A few other details: All of your GREENS will keep best if stored in a plastic bag, with the top folded over and placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator. 

** NOTE: You will notice over the course of the season that some box contents listed above say "Perhaps one of the following..."  These are items that we can’t harvest in sufficient quantities for the whole CSA to receive at one time.  We do track who gets what and we will do our best to ensure that everyone eventually receives each item.  On some items this may take several weeks, so please be patient.

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 on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm and/or share your recipes, experiences and questions with other BGF members at Blue Gate Farm Community.


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 Luci & Indigo)

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


BGF News - July 10, 2018-Vol. XL, No.6


In this week’s box:

Basil: Genovese or Italian Large Leaf
Bean Mix: Carson (yellow) & Empress (green)
Carrots: Rainbow mix
Cucumber: Diva/Marketmore  (green, English), Suyo Long (long green, Asian)
                     or Lemon (round, yellow)
Green-top Onions:
Head Lettuce: Kiribati
Squash Blossoms
Summer Squash: Slik Pik (yellow), Zephyr (yellow & green), Golden Glory (yellow zucchini), 
                                Patty Pan (saucer-shaped, green/yellow/white) or 8 Ball (round, green)

and at least one of the following:
Eggplant: Orient Express
Okra: Bowling Red & Candle Fire
Snow Peas: Oregon Giant

           
For those with the Egg option [full shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (asst. colors)
For those with the Herb option: Thai basil, savory, sorrel

   
Featured Recipes:  ** indicates a BGF favorite 
Roberta's Roasted Green Onion Tops** see below
Tangy Cucumbers & Sweet Onions** see below


What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 0.00"

Well, the past week has taken us through the full weather range, from hot and wet to delightfully cooler to hot and dry. It must be July on the farm! The crew was off for the July 4th holiday, but the rest of the week has been focused on weeding the cole crops (broccoli, cabbage ect), transplanting chard and lettuce, wrangling the tomatoes and harvesting summer squash and cucumbers. The high tunnel tomatoes were already trellised, but still require regular pruning and adding trellis lines. We are rather behind schedule on the field tomatoes and just got the end posts in yesterday, with interior posts and support lines to follow later this week. The garlic is telling us it is time to harvest, so that is another big task on the to-do list. 

Setting end posts for the tomato trellis

First harvest of our new Kiribati lettuce
Speaking of lettuce, we are super excited about the lettuce going out in today's delivery. It is a new variety that we are trialing and we think it is some of the prettiest, and more important, the sweetest summer lettuce we've every grown. It is from the Micronesian island of Kiribati and so far is handling the heat very well. We hope you enjoy it. 

We are also pleased to be sending out squash blossoms this week. We are so inundated with summer squash right now that we are enforcing a bit of a squash sabbatical which means you get to dig into the delight that is squash blossoms. If you haven't had them before, don't be intimidated, they are very easy to cook with and if you aren't up for stuffing them (which is simply divine), just chop them up and throw them into some scrambled eggs or an omelet. 

We are also sending out some extra cucumbers this week as bacterial wilt disease has started to run through the plants. This is spread by the cucumber beetles and for chemical-free producers, always heralds the end of the cuke season. So we wanted to be sure that you get your fill of cucumbers before the plants just suddenly wilt and die. It doesn't mean this is the last delivery of cukes, just that the end is in sight.

The CSA member Ice Cream Social is this Sunday, July 15th from 2 – 5pm at the farm. Come on out for an afternoon filled with fresh country air, homemade ice cream, farm-fresh desserts and a rousing match of water balloon volleyball. You should have received an "Evite" invitation via email last week. It would be very helpful to us if you would RSVP by this Friday so we know how much ice cream to make. We hope to see you on Sunday at the farm!

*Team Blue Gate-Market Opportunity*

Want to see another side of your farm? Join Team Blue Gate,  our group of volunteers who work with  Jill in the BGF tent during the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market season. We ask that interested individuals commit to at least 2 market dates over the course of the season and to be there for set-up, selling and tear down (basically 6am-12:30 or so). In appreciation for their time and efforts, volunteers earn a BGF T-shirt and a $30 credit at the booth that day. We have an awesome group and everyone seems to enjoy it, but we do have some open dates coming up. If you are interested in joining us, you can go to the online calendar here: 2018 BGF Market Team  and sign up for whenever works with your schedule.

A little detail on your produce this week:

Basil hates the cold and will turn black with exposure. Keep long stemmed basil in a glass/vase of water on your counter top (out of direct sunlight). Stems that are too short (trimmings/tops) should be placed in a plastic bag, with a dry paper towel. Then put inside of a paper bag (for insulation) and put in the warmest part of your refrigerator (usually the door) or on the top shelf towards the front. We don't pre-wash basil as it degrades the quality. Basil should be rinsed just before using.

Carrots: These "mid-season" carrots are a little different than the candy-sweet gems of cool weather carrots. They are a little more strongly flavored, a little earthy. This makes them perfect for cooking and more complicated recipes, as some might not love them for fresh eating. Remove the leafy green tops, leaving about an inch of stems. Refrigerate dry, unwashed carrots in a plastic bag for two weeks or longer. Peel carrots or scrub carrots well with a stiff brush just before using. Trim off any green spots, which can taste bitter. When slicing or chopping carrots for cooking, be sure to make all the pieces relatively the same size; this will ensure an evenly cooked dish. Greens can be added to soup stock for flavor.

Cucumber: Store unwashed cucumbers in a sealed plastic bag in the vegetable crisper bin for about a week. Keep cucumbers tucked far away from tomatoes, apples, and citrus—these give off ethylene gas that accelerates cucumber deterioration. You can do a lot of fancy things to the skin of a cucumber, but when it is young, fresh (and unwaxed), it really only needs to be thoroughly washed. However, if the skin seems tough or bitter you can remove it; if the seeds are bulky, slice the cucumber lengthwise and scoop them out.

 Eggplant prefers to be kept at about 50° F, which is warmer than most refrigerators and cooler than most kitchen counters. Wrap unwashed eggplant in a towel, then place in a plastic bag to absorb any moisture and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Used within a week, it should still be fresh and mild. Many people like to peel, salt, and drain their eggplant to draw out any bitter flavor; however, bitterness develops only in eggplant that has been stored for a while, so with farm-fresh specimens this is generally not necessary. Many recipes call for salting in order to make the vegetable less watery and more absorbent—much like draining tofu. Salting is not an essential step, but it can greatly enhance the taste and texture of your dish and is well worth the extra effort.

Okra: These lovely, dark red, horn-shaped vegetables are a warm weather treat. Extremely cold sensitive, store in their plastic bag in the warmest part of your fridge, or place the plastic bag in a small paper sack and store in the crisper drawer and use within the week. Traditional southerners will cut into rounds, bread in cornmeal and fry, but our favorite version is our dear friend Annie's method, "All I do is rinse off the pods and lay them in a saucepan with a little water in the bottom. Ten to fifteen minutes is all it takes...twenty if the pods are really big and "woody" feeling. I put salt on them and eat as finger food. It reminds me of young sweet corn."

Peas: We grow snow peas (flat pod with little bumps showing immature peas inside) and sugar snap peas (rounded pods with mature peas inside).  Both have edible pods and can be used interchangeably in recipes.  They are particularly good in stir-fries and salads, though we tend to eat them fresh as a snack.  Peas keep best in their plastic bag in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.

Squash Blossoms: 
Squash blossoms are very perishable.  Arrange them on paper towel lined tray, refrigerate and use within one day.  Blossoms will keep for 1 week at 50ºF (10°C) and 2 to 4 days at 40ºF (4°C).  Chilling injury will occur if held for several days at temperatures below 50ºF (10°C). You can also freeze, can, pickle, or dry squash blossoms.  If cooked, blossoms will store in the freezer for 6 to 8 months.  Open and inspect squash blossoms for insects before using them.  Pull off and discard the green calyxes surrounding the bottom of the blossom.  Clean blossoms by gently swishing them in a bowl of cold water.  Shake them dry.  Trim or snip out the anthers or style.  A few suggested uses for the squash blossoms:  as a garnish raw on crêpes, green salads, fruit salads, soups, and quesadillas; stuff blossoms with rice or minced meat and fry in batter; stuff blossoms with soft cheese, cooked and crumbled sausage, then bread and fry or bake; dip blossoms in a flour and cornstarch batter and fry until brown and crunchy; chop them up and add to quiche.

Summer Squash/Zucchini: Refrigerate unwashed zucchini and summer squash for up to a week and a half in a perforated plastic bag or in a sealed plastic container lined with a kitchen towel.
A few other details: All of your GREENS will keep best if stored in a plastic bag, with the top folded over and placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.  

** NOTE: You will notice over the course of the season that some box contents listed above say "Perhaps one of the following..."  These are items that we can’t harvest in sufficient quantities for the whole CSA to receive at one time.  We do track who gets what and we will do our best to ensure that everyone eventually receives each item.  On some items this may take several weeks, so please be patient.

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 on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm and/or share your recipes, experiences and questions with other BGF members at Blue Gate Farm Community.


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 Luci & Indigo)

Roberta's Roasted Green Onion Tops

Use scissors to slice the tops uniformly so they cook evenly. Then coat the tops with olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Cook at 350 degrees for 10 - 20 minutes depending on the size and how crispy you want them. 
We eat them as appetizers with cheese or use as an ingredient in eggs, etc.

Recipe Source: CSA member Roberta P.


Tangy Cucumbers and Sweet Onions

1 large Suyo Long cucumber or 2 medium cucumbers, peeled
1 small to medium sweet onion
2/3 c. cider or seasoned rice vinegar
¼ c. water
2 – 4 tbs. sugar (to taste)
¼ - ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 tbs chopped fresh fennel leaves (or dill), optional

Thinly slice cucumbers and onions. Separate onions into rings.
In a medium bowl with a tight fitting lid, combine remaining ingredients. Stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add cucumbers and onions to bowl and stir to coat. Seal lid and place in refrigerator for at least an hour before using. We eat this as a side dish, with the vegetables simply lifted out of the vinegar mixture when serving.  It can also be used as a condiment on sandwiches & burgers, as a salad topping or chopped into egg, chicken or ham salad.

Recipe Source: Blue Gate Farm

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

BGF News - July 3, 2018-Vol. XL, No.5


In this week’s box:

Beets
Choi: Vivid (leafy bundle with pink/purple stems) or baby choi
Cucumber: Diva/Marketmore  (green, English), Suyo Long (long green, Asian)
                     or Lemon (round, yellow)
Garlic Scapes (last time)
Green-top Shallots (look like green onions)
Kale Mix  (large mixed leaf bundle)
Purslane
Summer Squash: Slik Pik (yellow), Zephyr (yellow & green), Golden Glory (yellow zucchini), 
                                Patty Pan (saucer-shaped, green/yellow/white) or 8 Ball (round, green)
and at least one of the following:
Broccoli: Belstar
Eggplant: Orient Express
Okra: Bowling Red & Candle Fire
Snap Peas: Sugar Sprint
Snow Peas: Oregon Giant
           
For those with the Egg option [full & half shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (asst. colors)
For those with the Herb option:  sweet basil, parsley, dill

  
Featured Recipes:  ** indicates a BGF favorite 
Beet Hummus
Cucumber Lime Salsa
Best Stuffed Zucchini Ever (perfect for round 8 Ball squash too!)
Grilled Zucchini "Burgers" ** see recipe below
This is summer squash & cucumber season!

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 1.6"

Not where I'd prefer to find the chicken coop roof

It was a rather exciting week no the farm, weather-wise. Luckily Thursday's storms were well predicted and the crew was sent home for lunch, the high tunnels and coops were battened down and everyone was safe inside when the storm hit. And hit it did with 70mph winds roaring through the farm. All in all, it could have been much, much worse. The power was out for several hours, providing for some romantic "making jam by lantern-light." We lost part of the roof on the older chicken coop, damage on one endwall of the small high tunnel and some fan  damage on the large tunnel. Folks down the road and in the surrounding area lost some big trees, but only minimal tree damage here. Then there was Saturday's crazy weather. We know of at least a couple of CSA members that had unfortunate amounts of water in their basements. Undoubtedly there are more we don't know about. We hope everyone fared ok. Jill's parents live in Ankeny and the stories coming from there are simply astounding! Here's looking forward to quieter weeks ahead.

While we didn't have the extraordinary rain totals that many saw, we did have enough to really slow down our progress in the fields. It was far too wet to sow seeds or cultivate this week, so we were reduced to hand weeding, which is effective, but tedious and slow, especially in the hot weather. Our crew is amazingly willing to do whatever is put to them, so much of the week was spent on hands and knees (in the mud), pulling thousands of weeds by hand. It was rewarding to see the cabbages, hot peppers, edamame, and broccoli emerge from the forest of weeds that was claiming them. 

The rain and summer temperatures are certainly encouraging the warm weather crops and the weeds) to put on some serious growth. The summer squashes are growing like crazy and the cucumbers seem up to the challenge. Just a warning though, now is the time to really enjoy these two crops because they are both affected by the same insect-borne disease, for which there is no organic control. Once it starts, the plants will succumb, seemingly overnight and that will be the end of them for the season. Melons and winter squash are also affected by this issue, but seem to be the more resistant members of the cucurbit family. The tomatoes and peppers are putting on slow by steady growth. Both are fruiting, but it will be at least a couple of weeks before they ripen.  They broccoli has enjoyed the rain and the heads have developed almost overnight. It hasn't, however, appreciated the high temps, which we see in the funny color. Don't worry, it is still tasty and nutritious, just a little weird-looking. 

You'll notice a lack of lettuce this week. All our established beds have bolted and will be cleared this week. We've planted hundreds of row feet more, but they just aren't ready yet. We hope to have them back in the rotation next week. We are sending out beets today. The bundles aren't very impressive, but we harvested every singe beet on the farm to fill today's delivery. We are really battling the rabbits and deer on this crop...and they are winning. We will try again, but it will be a while before they appear (if we're more sneaky than the deer) in your box again.

**Save the Date** CSA member Ice Cream Social- Sunday, July 15th from 2 – 5pm at the farm. Come on out for an afternoon filled with fresh country air, homemade ice cream and farm-fresh desserts. We will send out an e-invitation in the next week, so keep your eyes open for it. We hope everyone can join us!

*Team Blue Gate-Market Opportunity*
Want to see another side of your farm? Join Team Blue Gate,  our group of volunteers who join Jill in the BGF tent during the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market season. We ask that interested individuals commit to at least 2 market dates over the course of the season and to be there for set-up, selling and tear down (basically 6am-12:30 or so). In appreciation for their time and efforts, volunteers earn a BGF T-shirt and a $30 credit at the booth that day. We have an awesome group and everyone seems to enjoy it, but we do have some open dates coming up. If you are interested in joining us, you can go to the online calendar here: 2018 BGF Market Team  and sign up for whenever works with your schedule.

A little detail on your produce this week:

Beets- Cut off greens, leaving an inch of stem. Refrigerate the unwashed greens in a closed plastic bag and use with your chard mix as beets and chard are closely related. Store the beet roots, unwashed, with the rootlets (or “tails”) attached, in a plastic bag in the crisper bin of your refrigerator. They will keep for several weeks, but their sweetness diminishes with time. Just before cooking, scrub beets well and remove any scraggly leaves and rootlets. If your recipe calls for raw beets, peel them with a knife or vegetable peeler, then grate or cut according to your needs baby/young beets usually don't need to be peeled.

Broccoli: Wrap broccoli loosely in a plastic bag and keep it in the vegetable bin 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.

Choi (a.k.a. - pac choi, bok choy or pok choy) is a member of the cabbage family and is a traditional Asian stir-fry vegetable.  Both the stems and leaves of choi can be used and are especially tasty in cooked recipes.  If cooking them, separate the leaves and stems, and begin cooking stems first to avoid overcooking the more tender greens. You can also use the leaves like any green-leafy vegetable and the stems like celery.  We tend to use choi leaves as a sandwich wrap, or just roughly chop the whole thing and sauté with garlic and/or onion.  Cook until stems are tender and dress with a little seasoned rice vinegar. Store choi loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in your produce drawer.

Cucumber: Store unwashed cucumbers in a sealed plastic bag in the vegetable crisper bin for about a week. Keep cucumbers tucked far away from tomatoes, apples, and citrus—these give off ethylene gas that accelerates cucumber deterioration. You can do a lot of fancy things to the skin of a cucumber, but when it is young, fresh (and unwaxed), it really only needs to be thoroughly washed. However, if the skin seems tough or bitter you can remove it; if the seeds are bulky, slice the cucumber lengthwise and scoop them out.

 Eggplant prefers to be kept at about 50° F, which is warmer than most refrigerators and cooler than most kitchen counters. Wrap unwashed eggplant in a towel, then place in a plastic bag to absorb any moisture and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Used within a week, it should still be fresh and mild. Many people like to peel, salt, and drain their eggplant to draw out any bitter flavor; however, bitterness develops only in eggplant that has been stored for a while, so with farm-fresh specimens this is generally not necessary. Many recipes call for salting in order to make the vegetable less watery and more absorbent—much like draining tofu. Salting is not an essential step, but it can greatly enhance the taste and texture of your dish and is well worth the extra effort.


Garlic Scapes: One of our favorite crops of the year. These curly green things are the emerging flower stalk from a hardneck garlic plant. We remove them to redirect more of the plant's energy into the bulb, but it also provides us with a delightful fresh garlic treat. These keep very well in a plastic bag in your produce drawer and can be used in any recipe calling for garlic. They would be perfect in last week's garlic salt recipe, make a great pesto and can be minced and added to room-temperature butter, which is then stored in log shape, in the freezer for a last minute dollop of goodness for vegetables, breads or meat.

Green-top Shallots: Store loosely wrapped in plastic in your produce drawer and use like you would scallions/green onions.  The flavor is so fresh and lovely that we like to use them in recipes that really highlight the flavor, like salad dressings, compound butter or with eggs, though it is also good with vegetables or topping salads.

Okra: These lovely, dark red, horn-shaped vegetables are a warm weather treat. Extremely cold sensitive, store in their plastic bag in the warmest part of your fridge, or place the plastic bag in a small paper sack and store in the crisper drawer and use within the week. Traditional southerners will cut into rounds, bread in cornmeal and fry, but our favorite version is our dear friend Annie's method, "All I do is rinse off the pods and lay them in a saucepan with a little water in the bottom. Ten to fifteen minutes is all it takes...twenty if the pods are really big and "woody" feeling. I put salt on them and eat as finger food. It reminds me of young sweet corn."

Peas: We grow snow peas (flat pod with little bumps showing immature peas inside) and sugar snap peas (rounded pods with mature peas inside).  Both have edible pods and can be used interchangeably in recipes.  They are particularly good in stir-fries and salads, though we tend to eat them fresh as a snack.  Peas keep best in their plastic bag in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.


Summer Squash/Zucchini: Refrigerate unwashed zucchini and summer squash for up to a week and a half in a perforated plastic bag or in a sealed plastic container lined with a kitchen towel.
A few other details: All of your GREENS will keep best if stored in a plastic bag, with the top folded over and placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.  

** NOTE: You will notice over the course of the season that some box contents listed above say "Perhaps one of the following..."  These are items that we can’t harvest in sufficient quantities for the whole CSA to receive at one time.  We do track who gets what and we will do our best to ensure that everyone eventually receives each item.  On some items this may take several weeks, so please be patient.

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 on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm and/or share your recipes, experiences and questions with other BGF members at Blue Gate Farm Community.


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 Luci & Indigo)

Grilled Zucchini (or Eggplant) “Burgers”
(2-4 servings)

zucchini (or eggplant) sliced in slices 1/2" thick.
1/2 cup your favorite Italian salad dressing
1 tsp. finely minced garlic or garlic scapes
1 -2 tsp. Italian seasoning (optional)
4-6 fresh basil leaves
2-4 slices provolone cheese
Crusty bread or large rolls

Cut zucchini (or eggplant) into slices, making sure the slices are the same thickness. Combine salad dressing with garlic and herbs, if using. Put slices into ziploc bag, pour in marinade and let zucchini marinate 4 hours or longer, can be as long as all day.

To cook, preheat grill to medium-high.

Place slices on grill. After about 4 minute, check for grill marks, and rotate a quarter turn. Cook 3-4 more minutes on first side.
Turn slices to second side, place 1-2 basil leaves on top side and cover with provolone. Cook about 4 minutes more, or until slice is starting to soften quite a bit, with the outside slightly charred and browned. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper and serve hot on bread or rolls.


Recipe Source: BGF, adapted from http://kalynskitchen.blogspot.com