Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bad Bloggers

We are bad bloggers. It seems with everything going on around the farm I am just not able to keep up with that "one more thing." So for now, I am terminating the blog for the foreseeable future. We will still post newsletters on the website for those of you who like to follow along during the season. We also do a much better job with the farm's Facebook page, as it links to the smartphone more easily. If you want to see what we are up to on a daily basis and see pics of the farm, you can find us there.
Blue Gate Farm

Until I get a personal assistant, we'll see you on the "farm-side!"

Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean
Blue, Luci & Indigo

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

BGF News 7/15/14



Volume XXIV, Number 7 –  July 15, 2014


In this week’s box:
Basil: Genovese and/or Italian Large Leaf (a little dirty from the weekend deluge, wash just before using)
Beans: Mix (Carson & Provider), Maxibel (green, filet) or Marvel of Venice (mostly yellow, lg, flat)
Carrots: St. Valerie (orange), Purple Haze (purple), Amarillo (yellow) & Rainbow mix
Green Garlic: asst hardneck
Kale mix: Red Russian, Toscano & Beedy's Camden,
Summer Squash: 8 Ball (round, green), Golden Glory (yellow zucchini), Patty Pan (lt. green, dk. green or yellow, round scallop), Slik Pik (lt. yellow, long) or Lemon (small, lemon-shaped, yellow)
and at least one of the following:
Broccoli (again, a little funny looking, but tasty)
Cherry Tomato Mix: Juliet (red mini roma), Golden Rave (yellow mini roma)
Cucumbers: Suyo Long (long, bumpy) or Diva (smooth, English-type)
Eggplant: Orient Express (dark purple, long & slender)
Peas (Snap or Snow)
Squash Blossoms
Tomatoes: asst. see list below
           
For those with the Egg option [full and half shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Thai Magic basil, sage, dill

Featured Recipes (see below):  BGF Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Stuffed Squash Blossoms
Spiced Carrot Salad
Precipitation in the past week:  1.60”

  What’s up on the farm?
We had such a great time this Sunday at the Ice Cream Social. Much fun, ice cream, desserts and laughter was had by all. Thanks to everyone who made the trek out and shared the day. For those of you who were unable to join us, don't worry, we'll do it again next year!

Writing this morning, it is hard to believe that on Sunday we had perfect ice cream eating weather. The crew, animals and some of the crops think this is heaven. We are seeing a 2nd flush of blooms/pods on the peas and the broccoli, cabbage and new lettuce transplants think they have hit the jackpot! Others out in the gardens aren't so sure about these temps. The tomatoes, basil, cucumbers and sweet potatoes are all quite sensitive to cold temps and this is almost too cool for them. It will definitely slow the ripening on the peppers, eggplant and tomatoes. As long as we stay above 50° though, we shouldn't see any serious damage.

And speaking of damage, we went out to Plot VI (the most distant garden) yesterday to harvest Romano Beans and were dismayed to find that sometime overnight, the deer had made a mad dash through the garden and run right into the 6' tall bean trellis. They clearly got caught up in it as the trellis was in pieces on the ground, posts were bent and there were beans strewn out in a 20' radius around the area. Amid the ruckus they managed to trample some of the nearby potatoes and melon plants. Ugh! Not what we had hoped to find, but nonetheless, the crew got new posts installed and the remaining bits of trellis re-strung. Hopefully the beans in that area will rally and continue to produce, as they were just getting started and we definitely want everyone to be able to try this tasty treat.

So besides fixing trellises and eating ice cream, what else have we been up to in the past week? Lots of harvesting! The vast majority of the garlic harvest is complete and we have a barn-full of garlic plants hanging from the rafters to dry. For the most part, we are very pleased with the harvest so far and should have plenty of cured garlic to get us through the end of the year. You will get to enjoy the last of the fresh garlic in your boxes today and hopefully that will hold you over until the curing process is complete, which should take two to four weeks depending on the weather. We are also harvesting the following crops daily or every 2 days: beans, summer squash, eggplant, and cucumbers. Soon the same will be true for the tomatoes and peppers. It does make it a little more challenging to keep up with the weeding, planting and other maintenance, but it sure is more fun! Starting today, we get to harvest one of the special fun crops…Squash blossoms! WE don't have enough to fill all the boxes at once, but be assured that we intend for everyone to get to try this lovely treat in the next few weeks. Be sure to use them as quickly as possible, as they are extremely perishable.

We are getting the first real start of the tomato harvest this week.  For today, they are a "at least one of the following" item so a few lucky members will be getting a taste of what is to come. We anticipate putting lots of tomatoes into all the boxes very soon so to get your palate primed, here is a full description of all the tomatoes we are growing this year.  You should anticipate seeing the majority of them over the course of the season.  As there is such a rainbow of colors (including green), the best way to tell if an individual tomato is ripe is by touch.  A ready-ripe tomato will yield to gentle pressure.  We try to send a range of ripeness in each delivery, so that you can enjoy them throughout the week, so do try to notice which are the most ripe and dig into those first.
Amish Paste: meaty, red roma-type with delicious flavor for fresh use or canning. Great salsa tomato!
Azoycha: Lemon-yellow medium-sized fruits with sweet, yet rich flavor.
Black Cherry: Beautiful black cherry tomato with rich flavor.
Black Krim: purple/red slicing tomato with excellent full flavor
Blondkopfchen: Small yellow 1” cherry tomato with excellent sweet taste.
Cosmonaut Volkov: medium-large red slicer with a full-rich flavor
Costoluto Genovese: red, fluted Italian heirloom with intensely flavored flesh
Dr. Wychee Yellow: Large orange tomato with meaty, rich tasting flavor.
Golden Rave: Small 1–2 oz yellow, plum shaped tomatoes with good tomato flavor. Perfect snacking tomato.
Green Zebra: Small, 2 1/2" olive yellow with green stripes and a sweet zingy flavor
Japanese Black Trifele: A dark maroon, pear-shaped tomato with green shoulders and sublime, rich flavor.
Juliet: Small 1 – 2 oz red fruits that are the perfect flavor and shape for slicing onto pizza or salad.
Paul Robeson: Large, brick-red fruits with dark green shoulders.  Has a sweet, rich, smoky flavor.
Pantano Romanesco: A large, deep red Roman heirloom. The flesh is very rich, flavorful & juicy.
Red Zebra: Smallish red tomato with irridescent green stripes with a bright, citrus-y flavor
Redfield Beauty: 3”– 4” flat pink fruits with excellent, full flavor.
Riesentraube: tasty little, red cherry with big, red tomato flavor
Rutgers: large, red with excellent flavor for fresh eating or canning
White Queen (Beauty): Medium-sized, smooth white-skinned tomato with sweet, juicy flesh, low acid.

The farm crew finds the range of tomato names quite inspiring and has been entertaining themselves while weeding by making up a "Farm Drama" using those names. If we are lucky, they will commit some of those entertainments to paper and we will share them with you in a future newsletter.

A little detail on your produce this week:
Carrots: These "mid-season" carrots are a little different than the candy-sweet gems of late-season/winter 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.

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, and 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: 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 (not in plastic) 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. The shape of an eggplant determines how it is best prepared. Slice a straight, narrow eggplant into rounds for grilling or broiling, and cut a rounded, bulbous eggplant into cubes for stews and stir-fries.

Green Garlic: Super-fresh tasting and juicy. This is the first taste of our full-season, freshly harvested garlic. As it is not yet cured, you will want to store it in a zip-top bag or glass jar in the refrigerator and use within a couple of weeks. To use, just peel down through the succulent wrapper layers until you get to the clove within.

Squash Blossoms: Squash blossoms are very perishable.  Arrange them on paper towel lined tray, cover with another cloth and then lightly wrap with plastic, refrigerate and use very soon.  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.

Leafy Greens will keep best if stored in a plastic bag, with the top folded over and placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.  For those of you who are new to our salad mix, yes you can eat the flowers. 

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 at Blue Gate Farm and/or 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 Blue, Luci & Indigo)

BGF Chocolate Zucchini Cake

2-3c. grated zucchini
2 c. flour
1 ½ c. sugar
1 tsp salt
½ c. oil
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1/3 c. cocoa
2 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients together, pour into greased & floured 9 x 13” pan.
Bake at 350° for 35 minutes.

When cool, frost with Hershey’s Cocoa Frosting
1 stick butter
2/3 c. cocoa
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. milk
1 tsp vanilla

In a medium mixer bowl melt butter, add cocoa and stir until combined. Alternating between powdered sugar and milk, add to cocoa and butter, mixing between. When thoroughly combined, beat in vanilla. Makes +/- 2 cups.


Stuffed Squash Blossoms

6-8 medium squash flowers
Filling:
1/2 cup cream cheese or chevre
2 tablespoon garlic scapes, scallions or fresh garlic, finely diced
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

Breading
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup egg white
2 tablespoon parmesan cheese
pinch salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine filling ingredients and stir until blended- set aside.
  3. In one bowl, place your egg whites and in another bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, and salt/pepper. Stuff each zucchini flower with about 1 tablespoon of cream cheese mixture. Fold over tops of the flower so that the flower is somewhat sealed. Dip each flower in egg whites and the roll in bread crumbs. Set aside and repeat with remaining flowers. Once each flower has been breaded once, dip each flower back in the eggs whites and bread crumbs one more time for a thicker breading.
  4. Place flowers on a parchment covered tray and bake for 15-18 minutes until breading is crisp and a nice golden color.
  5. These would work well as an appetizer, on a salad, or even as part of a pasta dish.
Recipe Source: www.naturallyella.com

Spiced Carrot Salad
In this exotic recipe from Morocco, carrots are blanched until they are barely tender, then marinated in a lemony-sweet spiced dressing. Slivered dried prunes and/or chopped black olives (both common Moroccan ingredients) or a handful of currants make great additions to this recipe. (Angelic Organics Kitchen.)
Serves 4 to 6

2 cups diagonally sliced or julienned carrots
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
lemon slices

1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the carrots; boil
until barely tender and still brightly colored, 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Drain the carrots and immediately run cold water over them
to stop the cooking. Drain well.
3. Transfer the carrots to a large salad bowl. Add the parsley,
cilantro, and mint; toss to combine.
4. Mix the lemon juice, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, and
cayenne in a small bowl. Stir in the sugar. Slowly pour in the olive
oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly, until the dressing is thick
and no longer separates.
5. Pour the dressing over the carrots and toss until well coated. Cover
and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
6. Let the salad come to room

Recipe Source: Angelic Organics Kitchen

BGF News 7/8/14



Volume XXIV, Number 6    July 8, 2014

In this week’s box:
Cabbage: Early Wakefield
Potatoes: Mountain Rose
Purslane
Scallions
Summer Squash: 8 Ball (round, green), Golden Glory (yellow zucchini), Patty Pan (lt. green, dk. green or
            yellow, round scallop), Slik Pik (lt. yellow, long) or Lemon (small, lemon-shaped, yellow)
and perhaps of the following:
Beans Mix (Carson-yellow & Maxibel-green filet)
Broccoli (the up and down temps are causing funny shapes, but still delicious flavor)
Cucumbers: Suyo Long (long, bumpy) or Diva (smooth, English-type)
Eggplant: Orient Express (dk purple, long & slender)
and anything else we can find to add in

For those with the Cheese option: Robiola, Basil Feta & [BONUS!] Cheesemaker's Choice Chevre
For those with the Egg option [full]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Lettuce leaf basil, oregano & par-cel

Featured Recipes (see below):  Grilled Zucchini Burgers
                                                     Purslane Potato Salad
Purslane & Basil Pesto

Precipitation since last week: .98”

What’s up on the farm?

Well, we should start out today with the declaration that we can't complain too much about the recent weather. We have had too much rain, but not nearly as much as many places and we have seen none of the severe weather that many areas experienced. That said, we have indeed had more rain than many crops are pleased about and some are starting to show their opinions on it with yellowing leaves, slowed growth and even a few losses in some of the lower areas. We are also starting to get behind on sowing new crops because the soil is just too wet to work. But again, that said, most of the crops are doing pretty well so far. We are starting to see the first few ripening cherry tomatoes and the eggplant, cukes, beans and peppers are right on the edge of really starting to produce. The summer squashes are probably the happiest of all, which is a nice change after the past 2 seasons of lack-luster performance by them and we are very pleased to be sending out the first of this year's potatoes this week. We are seeing the end of many of the early season crops, especially in the greens family, but we hope to have some variety of them back in the boxes before too many weeks pass. As the boxes aren't quite as bountiful as we would like this week, we are including an assortment of whatever we have available today. So you may find something in your box that isn't on the list above. Don't worry, it won't be anything that is hard to identify.

Progress continues on the walk-in cooler and the final stages are in sight. What a huge change that will make to our ability to harvest and store large volumes of crops at one time. It may not sound like a big deal, but I assure you it will be like getting to take a vacation for us, midseason!

Many of you have continued to follow our slow progress on naming the new baby alpaca. We are happy to officially introduce you to "Suvi" which is Estonian for "Summer" and we hope you will all come and say hello to her this Sunday at the CSA Ice Cream Social.

Speaking of which… CSA member Ice Cream Social- This coming Sunday, July 13th 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 be sending out an email today to gather RSVP’s or in Des Moines you may tell Jill when you pick up your box today. We hope everyone can join us!

Just a reminder, we have set up a new Facebook page for CSA members. You can find it here: Blue Gate Farm Community. If you have a Facebook account we encourage you to post recipes, photos and questions about your weekly produce box adventures. If you don't have an account, don't worry, you can still see/ read anything on the page, but you won't be able to post anything. We will keep an eye on the page and try to answer questions in a timely manner, but really this is to encourage the "Community" aspect of CSA and to provide you all a venue to share and connect with each other.

A little detail on your produce this week:
Scallions: (green onions) are best kept upright in a glass with about 1" of water in it, more like flowers than vegetables. Loosely cover the tops with plastic and you will be amazed at how long they will keep. We like to throw a handful of chopped scallions into nearly any savory dish, right near the end of the cooking time.

Beans: Store in their plastic bag in your crisper drawer and use within a week for best quality.

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 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.

Potatoes: Store in their paper bag at cool room temperatures and wash right before using (potatoes don't like to be washed straight out of the field, so we have to apologize for the extra soil they are carrying). Use in the next two weeks as these are fresh, uncured potatoes and will not store for a long period of time.

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. Before using, rinse zucchini and summer squash under cool running water to remove any dirt or prickles; then slice off the stem and blossom ends. Slice the vegetable into rounds, quarters, or chunks according to the specifications of your recipe. Summer squashes and zucchinis can be used interchangeably in recipes.

A few other details: 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.  For those of you who are new to our salad mix, yes you can eat the flowers. 

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 or hit the new CSA page 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 Blue, Luci & Indigo)


Grilled Zucchini (or eggplant) “Burgers”
(2 servings)

Eight Ball or other zucchini, sliced in slices 1/2 to 5/8 inch thick.
1/2 cup your favorite Italian salad dressing
1 tsp. finely minced garlic
1 -2 tsp. Italian seasoning (optional)
4-6 fresh basil leaves
2-4 slices provolone cheese
Crusty bread or large rolls

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

To cook zucchini, preheat grill to medium-high.

Place zucchini on grill. After about 4 minute, check for grill marks, and rotate zucchini a quarter turn. Cook 3-4 more minutes on first side.
Turn zucchini to second side, place 1-2 basil leaves on top side and cover with provolone. Cook about 4 minutes more, or until zucchini 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.

This recipe is also tasty with eggplant.
Recipe Source: BGF, adapted from http://kalynskitchen.blogspot.com

Purslane Potato Salad

Serves 4-6

In a medium pot, boil 5 cups chopped potatoes until tender. Drain and set aside to cool. In a bowl, mix 1 cucumber chopped into half moon slivers, 1 cup purslane leaves and buds (flowers and stalks are edible as well, if you choose), and 1 cup chopped scallions with greens. Add potatoes and mix well.

In a small, wide bowl, whisk 1 egg yolk until smooth. Drip in, whisking constantly, 1 cup olive oil, making sure to add slowly enough to keep mixture opaque. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1-2 finely chopped Serrano peppers. Mix well. Spoon over potato and vegetable mixture (there may be some spicy mayo leftover; it will keep in the fridge for at least a week, if not longer), adding several tablespoons white wine or cider vinegar and fresh ground pepper and salt to taste. Toss well and serve at room temperature.

Recipe Source: www.diaryofalocavore.com

Purslane & Basil Pesto

4 Cups Purslane
2 Cups Fresh Basil
1 Cup Roasted Pine Nuts
1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 Garlic Cloves
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Honey or Agave Nectar
1/4 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper 

Place all ingredients in the food processor and pulse until smooth.  Use this wonderful pesto in pasta... risotto, as a spread in sandwiches or as a dip for some crudite.  Enjoy!

Recipe Source: http://fergiesbites.blogspot.com

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

BGF News 7/1/14



Volume XXIV, Number 5 –  July 1, 2014

In this week’s box:
Basil: Genovese and/or Italian Large Leaf
Garlic Scapes (the final "e-scape" of the season)
Head Lettuce: Oakleaf- Bronze Arrowhead or Romaine-Crisp Mint or Green Towers (last of the head lettuce)
Kale mix: Red Russian, Toscano & Beedy's Camden,
Pac Choi: “Win-Win”
Peas: Snow or Sugar Snap
Summer Squash: 8 Ball (round, green), Golden Glory (yellow zucchini), Patty Pan (lt. green, dk. green or
            yellow, round scallop), Slik Pik (lt. yellow, long) or Lemon (small, lemon-shaped, yellow)
Turnips: Hakurei & Scarlet Queen
and possibly one of the following:
 Broccoli (again, a little funny looking, but tasty)
Cucumbers: Suyo Long (long, bumpy) or Diva (smooth, English-type)
Eggplant: Orient Express (dark purple, long & slender)
 
           
For those with the Egg option [full & half shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Red Rubin basil, lemon thyme & anise hyssop

Featured Recipes (see below):  Veggie Mac & Cheese
Sautéed Turnips with Butter and Sugar
Broccoli with Asian-Style Dressing

Precipitation in the past week:  2.80” 

What’s up on the farm?

It really feels like we spent most of the past week dodging weather bullets. While we got plenty of rain and more wind than we would like, we were very lucky to miss all of the severe and damaging weather that was rampaging across the state. And while we have a few areas in the gardens where plants look stressed from too much rain, we know other farmers whose whole fields are under water, so we are counting our blessings! All of us are looking forward to this week with its cooler temperatures and more stable weather pattern.

The wet soil conditions for most of the week kept us from doing much soil cultivation, but it was a great week for hand weeding and the crew spent much of their non-harvesting time rescuing the crops in Plot VI from the invasion of weeds. If feels like any time not spent weeding was spent harvesting peas! While not quite the truth, it certainly felt like it, but that time is mostly past. We will continue to get peas for a while but the big Pea Fest is done for the season. It appears that the summer squashes are taking over where the peas left off. The cucumbers and eggplant are just on the edge of really taking off, which is exciting as this is probably the earliest that we've ever harvested those two crops.

The animals are ready for a break in the rainy weather too, except possibly Indigo who LOVES tromping through mud puddles and can simultaneously drink, run and splash mud at a high rate of speed. The baby alpaca (still no name) continues to do well and is keeping us all entertained while she practices running and jumping in the pasture. It's amazing we are getting anything accomplished as it is so much fun to watch her.


Upcoming Event: CSA member Ice Cream Social- Sunday, July 13th 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 be sending out an email next week to gather RSVP’s for this event, but we wanted to give you time to get it on your calendar. We hope everyone can join us!

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.

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, and 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: 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 (not in plastic) 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. The shape of an eggplant determines how it is best prepared. Slice a straight, narrow eggplant into rounds for grilling or broiling, and cut a rounded, bulbous eggplant into cubes for stews and stir-fries.

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. Before using, rinse zucchini and summer squash under cool running water to remove any dirt or prickles; then slice off the stem and blossom ends. Slice the vegetable into rounds, quarters, or chunks according to the specifications of your recipe. Summer squashes and zucchinis can be used interchangeably in recipes.

Leafy Greens will keep best if stored in a plastic bag, with the top folded over and placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.  For those of you who are new to our salad mix, yes you can eat the flowers. 


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 at Blue Gate Farm and/or 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 Blue, Luci & Indigo)


Veggie Mac & Cheese (without the “mac”)

2 tbs olive oil
2-3 cups sliced summer squash (1/4” slices)
2 tbs green onions or garlic, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3-4 tbs chevre cheese (we especially like chive or pesto flavored)

Pour oil in sauté pan. Add garlic and summer squash. Saute 1-2 minutes and add green onion. Cook an additional 1-2 minutes until squash are cooked through, but still firm. Remove from heat and immediately stir cheese into squash. Serve hot.

Recipe source: Blue Gate Farm

Sautéed Turnips with Butter and Sugar
Serves 4

3 tbs. unsalted butter
1-2 tbs. sugar
1 pound turnips, scrubbed, halved and cut into ½” wide wedges
Salt
¼ c. water
Freshly ground black pepper

Melt butter and sugar in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook 3-4 minutes, or until sugar begins to color slightly. Add turnips, salt lightly, and toss to coat. Cook over medium heat, tossing occasionally, for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Add water, raise heat to medium-high and cook, tossing until the turnips are tender and the water has evaporated, coating the turnips with a light glaze, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with pepper and serve hot.

Recipe Source: From the Farmers’ Market by Richard Sax & Sandra Gluck

Broccoli with Asian-Style Dressing
Be careful—this can be addictive. You may not want your broccoli any other way after trying
this recipe. For variety, try adding matchstick size strips of steamed carrots or daikon.
Serves 2 to 4

1 medium head broccoli
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil (optional)

Separate the florets from the stalk; break into smaller florets. Cut the stalk into 1-inch lengths and then into matchstick-size strips.

Place the broccoli in a steamer basket set over 1 1/2 inches boiling water and cover. Steam for 5 minutes. Transfer the broccoli to a bowl.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl; stir until well combined. Pour the dressing over the broccoli and mix well.

Recipe Source: The Real Dirt on Farmer John Cookbook

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

BGF News 6/24/14



Blue Gate Farm News – Volume XXIV, Number 4    June 24, 2014


In this week’s box:
Baby Beets with greens
Chard: Bright Lights Mix (a little beat up this week, but tasty nonetheless)
Garlic Scapes
Head Lettuce: Crisp Mint or Green Towers romaine
Peas: Snap AND Snow (our pea beds are exploding, so you get to enjoy the ridiculous bounty)
Tapestry Salad Mix
and one of the following:
Broccoli (the up and down temps are causing funny shapes, but still delicious flavor)
Summer Squash: 8 Ball (round, green), Golden Glory (yellow zucchini), Patty Pan (lt. green, dk. green or yellow, round scallop) or Slik Pik (lt. yellow, long)
           
For those with the Cheese option: Robiola & Black Pepper Chevre
For those with the Egg option [full]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: lemon basil, tarragon & peppermint

Featured Recipes (see below):  Summer Garden Pasta
Braised Whole Baby Beets
Pasta with Swiss Chard Bacon and Lemony Ricotta

Precipitation since last week: 1.69”

What’s up on the farm?

Another busy week has gone by and there has been lots happening on the farm this past week. The most important news is that our waiting and watching is finally over. On Saturday, our alpaca "herd" grew by one when the new baby was (finally) born. We're pretty sure it is a little girl, creamy white in color and as cute as they come, all long spindly legs and big eyes. It is such fun to see her out in the pasture with her mom. We haven't decided on a name yet, but probably something to do with summer as she was born on the summer solstice. You can see photos on our Facebook page and we hope to have more up on the blog this week.

Our other big event of the week was hosting a field day at the farm for Practical Farmers of Iowa. We had more than 45 people on the farm on Sunday to learn about building a walk-in cooler and about local pollinators. The day started with a tour of the farm and culminated with a potluck supper. In between there was lots of good information exchanging and learning. The weather cooperated nicely and it was a good day. This event was the impetus for making progress on the walk-in and lots happened in the week leading up to it. The concrete pad was poured on Wednesday and construction began on Thursday. Sean & Jill's dad worked hard and fast and got to a great stage in the build so that the field day attendees could really see the internal design and construction. It is an exciting project to see taking shape!

The balance of the week has been more of the normal work of the farm. Much weeding, cultivating and harvesting and trellising was done and things are looking quite good. As always, there is the occasional exception. The salad is really starting to show the stress of the recent heat. So this is likely the final delivery of salad mix until fall. We hope to have head lettuce available for future deliveries, but high temperatures may put a crimp in that plan as well. The garlic scapes are also wrapping up and this is probably their final appearance in the box for the season. Never fear, there is much garlicky goodness to follow in its other forms.

Just a quick reminder to try and remember to return your CSA box each week. This past week we had a pretty high percentage of forgotten boxes and while we understand that things happen and boxes get misplaced or plans change, it does slow down our packing progress when we have to make up temporary boxes and bag produce for multiple members. Do remember that there is always the option of bringing a bag along with you and just unloading your box at the pick-up location. A number of our members do this and then they never have to remember to return their boxes.

Upcoming Event: CSA member Ice Cream Social- Sunday, July 13th 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 be sending out an email next week to gather RSVP’s for this event, but we wanted to give you time to get it on your calendar. We hope everyone can join us!

Just a reminder, we have set up a new Facebook page for CSA members. You can find it here: Blue Gate Farm Community. If you have a Facebook account we encourage you to post recipes, photos and questions about your weekly produce box adventures. If you don't have an account, don't worry, you can still see/ read anything on the page, but you won't be able to post anything. We will keep an eye on the page and try to answer questions in a timely manner, but really this is to encourage the "Community" aspect of CSA and to provide you all a venue to share and connect with each other.

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. 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 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.

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. Before using, rinse zucchini and summer squash under cool running water to remove any dirt or prickles; then slice off the stem and blossom ends. Slice the vegetable into rounds, quarters, or chunks according to the specifications of your recipe. Summer squashes and zucchinis can be used interchangeably in recipes.

A few other details: 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.  For those of you who are new to our salad mix, yes you can eat the flowers. 

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 or hit the new CSA page 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 Blue, Luci & Indigo)


Summer Garden Pasta

Small bunch young beets, assorted colors with greens
1 tbs Olive Oil
1 tsp garlic, minced or garlic scapes, chopped
1 cup fresh beans or peas, stemmed and snapped
2 tbs Dried Tomatoes, chopped
Feta or parmesan cheese. crumbled/shaved
1 tbs Balsamic vinegar
Penne pasta

Prepare pasta according to directions.
While pasta is cooking, separate beets from greens (discard stems), cut beets into quarters or eighths and
cut beet greens into a chiffonade.
Place dried tomatoes into a small heat-proof dish. When pasta is about half done, take 2 tbs of pasta water and pour over dried tomatoes to re-hydrate.
Place olive oil, garlic, beets and beans into a sauté pan over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Remove dried tomatoes from liquid (reserving liquid) and add tomatoes to sauté pan along with beet greens. Cook until greens are wilted and bright green.  Remove from heat.
Place pasta in a serving bowl, add sautéed vegetables and feta cheese. Sprinkle with reserved water from dried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar, toss gently to coat.

This recipe serves two as a main dish, but is easy to multiply to feed any number.

Recipe source: Blue Gate Farm

Braised Whole Baby Beets
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

1/4 cup butter
2 lbs beet thinnings or whole baby beets with their greens (washed well and patted dry)
2 cups fresh chicken broth or roasted chicken stock
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp cider vinegar

Melt butter in a skillet over a moderate flame. When it froths, neatly place beet thinnings into the skillet so that all the root tips rest in one direct and the greens in the other. Sear in butter until the greens are wilted. Pour two cups chicken broth or chicken stock into the skillet, cover, and simmer until roots become tender – about ten minutes.
Turn off the heat and transfer the beets to a serving dish using tongs. For best presentation, lay the beets together so that all the beetroots rest at one end of the serving dish with the greens resting at the other. Sprinkle with fresh chopped mint and dress with cider vinegar.

Recipe Source: http://nourishedkitchen.com/

Pasta with Chard, Bacon and Lemony Ricotta

1 lb corkscrew macaroni
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped (or garlic scapes)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bunch Swiss chard, cleaned and coarsely chopped
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup ricotta cheese (or chevre)
1 lemon, juice and zest of
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. When the water comes to a boil, add salt and cook the pasta al dente.  While the pasta cooks, preheat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the olive oil and bacon, and cook until the bacon crisps, about 3 minutes.

To the bacon add the garlic, onions, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until the onions are lightly caramelized.

Add the chopped Swiss chard, toss to coat, and wilt the chard down. Then turn the heat up to high and add the chicken stock. When the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 6 to 7 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta with the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Place ¼ cup of the ricotta mixture in the bottom of 4 bowls. Set aside.

Add the lemon juice to the Swiss chard. Drain the pasta well and toss with the greens for a minute to let the juices absorb into the pasta.

Turn the heat off and add the grated Parmesan cheese and toss to distribute. Serve immediately, dishing it up on top of the ricotta cheese. Stir before eating.

Recipe Source: www.food.com