Tuesday, September 19, 2017

BGF News - September 19, 2017-Vol. XXXIII, No.15

Beautiful (and tasty) Swiss Chard

In this week’s box:

Arugula
Basil: sweet
Chard: Rainbow mix
Cherry Tomato Mix
Garlic: Northern White
Head Lettuce; asst.
Summer Squash: asst
Sweet Peppers: asst.
Tomatoes:  see descriptions in 8/1 newsletter
Turnips: baby Hakurei
And at least one of the following:    
Beans: Mix or Maxibel
Broccoli: Belstar
Mini Cauliflower: Pusa Megna and/or Giant Purple of Sicily
Eggplant: Orient Express or Orient Charm
Okra: Bowling Red
Spinach Mix
Tapestry Salad Mix

For those with the Egg option [full & half shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Thai Magic basil, chives, bronze fennel

We were expecting small heads on the dwarf cauliflower










...but not quite this small










 Featured Recipes:  ** indicates a BGF favorite 
Chard Tomato Peasant Pasta **see below
Arugula & Cherry Tomato Pizza
Sweet and Sour Pan Roasted Turnips

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 1.25 beautiful inches of rain since Saturday night!!

Rain, rain, glorious rain!! While we are no where near made up on our drought status, that rain was a huge help to our fall crops. The only things that weren't improved by it were the field tomatoes, which will show more cracking due to the surge of moisture and the basil, which is a bit dirty due to the splashing. Basil hates to be washed and then stored, so just needs a rinse right before you use it.  All the rest of us are thrilled with the rain especially the seeds we just put in the ground this past week. It's funny every time I think we are finished with fall field sowing we clear a spent crop and someone says, "Hey, we should put another sowing of *this* there." So true to course, we cleared some field beds and sowed some more salad mix, radishes and spinach this week. These will be greatly improved by the recent rains! We also weeded and cultivated some of the fall crops and cleared and transplanted crops in the high tunnel. Most of the high tunnel tomatoes were declining, so they were given one final harvest and then "retired."  One of our more interesting accomplishments was finally planting some big (2-3 gallon) jostaberry plants that we'd gotten last month via our friends at Genuine Faux Farm. We've never grown them before, but hope they will be a nice addition to our future jam inventory. The other big task was getting the bulk of the winter squash harvested. Once they cure a bit we will send another round of them out in boxes.
A wagon-load of winter squash, with more to come

Upcoming events:
Farm Crawl is Sunday, October 1st from 11am-5pm.  Details can be found at www.farmcrawl.com.  Every year we invite CSA members not only to come out and tour the farms, but also to be part of the BGF team. So here is your chance for 2017. In the past, individuals/families have helped out with greeting visitors, sharing information, helping out at the chickens, parking and other various tasks. And, even better, you can still "Do the Crawl"! We are asking for volunteers to come for a 2 hour shift, so there is still time to visit the other farms. If you (and/or your family) would be interested in helping out at the farm please let us know. If you join us, we will set you up with some very fine BGF gear.
Final Summer CSA delivery:
Our final delivery of the 2017 summer season will be Tuesday, October 24th

VegEmail sales begin: Tuesday, November 7th 

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.

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.


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.  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
 
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."

Peppers: Place whole, unwashed peppers in a plastic bag, seal, and refrigerate for a week or more. Rinse peppers just before use. For sweet peppers, cut around the stem with a small knife and lift out the core. Slice down the side to open it up and then cut out the inner membranes. Store unused portions in a sealed bag or container in the refrigerator.

Turnips: keep best if separated from their greens.  Greens are stored in a plastic bag and can be cooked like mustard or collard greens (you can add them in with your Braising Greens Mix).  Trimmed roots can go into a lidded container or zip-close bag. These aren't your grandma's turnips. These are a sweet, Japanese salad variety that is particularly tasty for fresh eating. They will still work great in cooked dishes, but we love to eat them raw, often right out of hand, like an apple. One of the farm crew's favorite mid-field snacks.

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 Blue, Luci & Indigo)
Labels:

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

BGF News - September 12, 2017-Vol. XXXIII, No.14

In this week’s box:

Beans: Mix or Maxibel (filet-style)
Baby 'Shanghai Green' choi
Cabbage: Super Red
Carrots: Mix
Baby Choi: Shanghai Green or Joi
Head Lettuce: asst
Shallots: Ambition (tan) and/or Prisma (purple)
Sweet Peppers: asst
Summer Squash: asst
Tomatoes: see descriptions in 8/1 newsletter
And at least one of the following:    
Broccoli: Belstar
Cucumber: Lemon
Eggplant: Orient Express or Orient Charm
Okra: Bowling Red

Spinach Mix
Squash Blossoms
 

Tapestry Salad Mix  
      
For those with the Egg option [full shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: sweet basil, par-cel, sorrel


 
Featured Recipes:  ** indicates a BGF favorite 
Choi with Shallots and Mushrooms
Sesame, Carrot and red Cabbage Stir Fry
Sweet Pepper Pasta with Sausage

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 0.00"

Last week I commented on the changing color of our landscape, this week the difference is even more marked, with about half the trees starting to change color. There aren't many reds in our area so we are about to be surrounded in glowing golds and yellows from the trees as well as the flowers. The photo below is the other thing we've started seeing recently New England Aster. In fact, I saw the first one blooming on August 27th. Why is that significant? Because my grandpa always called these frost flowers and he said that four weeks after you see the first one blooming will be the first frost. YIKES! If that little bit of lore holds true, our first frost would be around the 24th of September...2 weeks from now! Just for reference, our first average frost date for this area is around October 10th. We're really hoping that specific specimen was just a little precocious, though we have seen others blooming since then. Surely it is just the lack of rain that is pushing them earlier???
New England Aster or frost flower
Regardless, the season is definitely progressing and so are we. I had predicted that the summer squash were about finished a couple of weeks ago...and yet, there are still squash in your boxes. Crazy plants just refuse to die, so we hope you aren't completely over them by this point, they will end soon enough. If you can't bear any more meals with them, try the chocolate cake recipe from 7/23 it uses up a fair amount of grated summer squash and is a favorite that freezes well. Or just grate it up (the squash, not the cake) and freeze it for later additions to cakes, breads or soups. The beans are finally starting to slow down and will probably be pulled out in the next week or so. They've had a good run as well. I wish the tomatoes were having as good a season. This is the least impressive tomato year we've ever had. The vines aren't dying (yet) but production, which was never great, is slowing. We'll continue to send tomatoes out in boxes, but it will probably be just a couple tomatoes in each. The crew is doing their darndest to keep the tomatoes producing, including lots of scouting for pests such as tomato fruitworm and our main nemesis, the tomato hornworm. Just today they found 120 of the hornworms, from tiny latchlings to giant tomato-eating monstrosities!

BGF Team Hornworm (I wish I had made a video instead!)
 
In the past week we cleared the early kale and broccoli crops but the later plantings are doing quite nicely and we expect kale to return to the boxes next week. Fall greens are doing quite well and you will start seeing those appearing in today's delivery. We had a final clearing of the high tunnel cantaloupe yesterday. Those crazy little melons, while small, certainly exceeded our expectations this year and deserve a return for next year. We've still got a bit of fall planting to do in the field, but we did get some more radishes sown this week and LOTS of weeding.

 

Upcoming events:

Farm Crawl is Sunday, October 1st from 11am-5pm.  Details can be found at www.farmcrawl.com.  Every year we invite CSA members not only to come out and tour the farms, but also to be part of the BGF team. So here is your chance for 2017. In the past, individuals/families have helped out with greeting visitors, sharing information, helping out at the chickens, parking and other various tasks. And, even better, you can still "Do the Crawl"! We are asking for volunteers to come for a 2 hour shift, so there is still time to visit the other farms. If you (and/or your family) would be interested in helping out at the farm please let us know. If you join us, we will set you up with some very fine BGF gear.

Final Summer CSA delivery: Our final delivery of the 2017 summer season will be Tuesday, October 24th

VegEmail sales begin: Tuesday, November 7th

A little detail on your produce this week:


Choi (a.k.a. - pac choi, bok choy or pok choy) is the large, structural-looking vegetable.  It 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. 


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."

Peppers: Place whole, unwashed peppers in a plastic bag, seal, and refrigerate for a week or more. Rinse peppers just before use. For sweet peppers, cut around the stem with a small knife and lift out the core. Slice down the side to open it up and then cut out the inner membranes. Store unused portions in a sealed bag or container in the refrigerator.
 

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.  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.

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 Blue, Luci & Indigo)

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

BGF News - September 5, 2017-Vol. XXXIII, No.13

In this week’s box:
Butternut Squash
Basil: sweet
Beans: Mix or Romano
Cherry Tomatoes
Head Lettuce: asst.
Sweet Onions: Ailsa Craig
Sweet Peppers: asst
Summer Squash: asst
Tomatoes: see descriptions in 8/1 newsletter
Winter Squash: Butternut 
And perhaps one of the following:    
Cantaloupe: Minnesota Midget
Cucumber: Lemon
Eggplant: Orient Express or Orient Charm
Okra: Bowling Red
Squash Blossoms
Watermelon: Sugar Baby (red interior) or Cream of Saskatchewan (white interior)

           
For those with the Egg option [full & half shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Thai Magic basil, thyme, peppermint
 
Featured Recipes:  ** indicates a BGF favorite 
Baked Eggs on Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Garlic Roasted Peppers and Butternut Squash


What’s up on the farm?

 Precipitation in the past week: 0.00"

As the morning light arrives this morning, it is not just the cool temperatures that show us that the seasons have changed. The color of the landscape is slowly shifting into its fall wardrobe. The the vibrant green of many of the trees has gone dull and are starting to shift to yellow. The sumac and ivys have started to turn red and the fall blooming wildflowers are a riot of yellows in the ditches and field margins. It is a beautiful time of year on the farm!

So what have we been up to in this beautiful weather? Irrigating and cultivating mostly. We continue to clear spent crops and are still sowing the final few in the fields. This week we will likely pull the last of the cantaloupe from the high tunnel as they are mostly dead. They sure provided some lovely melons over the course of the season. That bed will be renovated and planted with crops that will overwinter in the tunnel for our VegEmail sales (more on those later). We are harvesting the first of the winter squash today and the crop is looking outstanding! In fact, between the squashes and the potential popcorn harvest, we may be facing a bit of a storage issue. It is a good problem to have!

Speaking of storage, a couple of you have asked over the course of the season about the containers/packaging you receive in your boxes. I kept meaning to include that information in the newsletter and week after week, I got distracted by other things (I forgot). So now, in the final 3rd of the season, here's are the details:
Egg cartons: yes, if they are clean, we are happy to have them back for reusing
Pint & quart containers (cherry tomatoes):  yes, please return and we will reuse
Plastic bags: no, thank you. Please feel free to reuse at home
Paper bags (cherry tomatoes or potatoes): no, thank you, we don't trust them for a 2nd use.
Twist ties: no, thank you, they tend to fall apart on the 2nd use.

Finally, this is the time of the season when we start getting questions about our Winter CSA. After more than 10 years, this year we are doing something different. Instead of offering the regular Winter CSA program in November & December, we will be starting up our VegEmail sales in early November. They will run on a similar schedule as the CSA with deliveries every 2 weeks, but go from November to May. Every 2 weeks we will email out a link to the order form and you can simply request whatever you want from the available choices. If you are away or too busy one week, then you just don't place an order. We're hoping the added flexibility helps to engage more folks and keep fresh healthy food heading into homes for the entire winter and spring.

Save the date! 
Farm Crawl 2017 is coming up fast! Seven independent family farm operations, all within an easy drive of each other in south-central Iowa, are jointly hosting open houses. Enjoy a leisurely autumn day “crawling” from farm to farm (Okay, you don't actually crawl, you drive yourself between farms).
Come visit south Marion County/north Lucas County (one hour south of Des Moines) to see each of our individual operations. Tour the farms, visit the animals, meet the farmers, see demonstrations, sample the goodies, purchase locally grown & produced products, and have lots of fun in the beautiful Iowa countryside! Visit special guest vendors at many of the farms.  FREE admission onto all of the farms.
The seven farms include: Blue Gate Farm, Coyote Run Farm, Crooked Gap Farm, Pierce’s Pumpkin Patch, Schneider Orchards, White Breast Pottery and Weaving, and Trojan Iron Works.

 

A little detail on your produce this week:



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.  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.
Melons: If your cantaloupe seems a bit short of ripe, keep it at room temperature for a few days or until there is a sweet smell coming from the stem end. Once the melon ripens, store it in the refrigerator. Handle watermelons carefully. When harvested at their peak ripeness, they can crack or split easily if bumped or roughly handled. Refrigerate watermelons right away. (Watermelons do not ripen off the vine and do not emanate a ripe smell.)
Cut melon should be covered in plastic wrap, chunks or slices should be kept in an airtight container, and both should be refrigerated. Eat all melons within a week.

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."

Peppers: Place whole, unwashed peppers in a plastic bag, seal, and refrigerate for a week or more. Rinse peppers just before use. For sweet peppers, cut around the stem with a small knife and lift out the core. Slice down the side to open it up and then cut out the inner membranes. Store unused portions in a sealed bag or container in the refrigerator.

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.  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. 

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.

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 Blue, Luci & Indigo)
Labels:

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

BGF News - August 29, 2017-Vol. XXXIII, No.12

In this week’s box:

Beans: Mix, Romano or Maxibel (green, filet-style)
Broccoli: Belstar
Collards
Edamame
Head Lettuce: Coastal Star, Magenta or Muir
Potatoes: Kenebec or Carola
Scallions
Sweet Peppers: asst
Summer Squash: asst
Tomatoes: see descriptions in 8/1 newsletter
And perhaps one of the following: 
Cantaloupe: Minnesota Midget
Cucumber: Lemon
Eggplant: Orient Express (Asian-type, purple), Orient Charm (Asian-type, lavender) or
    Listada de Gandia (Italian, striped)

Okra: Bowling Red
Squash Blossoms
Watermelon: Sugar Baby (red interior) or Cream of Saskatchewan (white interior) 

For those with the Egg option [full shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: sweet basil, garlic chives & tarragon
Packing potatoes is closely supervised
 
Featured Recipes:  ** indicates a BGF favorite 
Finger Licking Edamame
Roasted Potatoes with Scallions
Green Beans with Peppers
Colcannon  (try it with your collard greens or left over kale from last week!)

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 0.00"
 
Counting our blessings. While our drought worries continue, they are nothing compared to what our friends and former neighbors are facing in Houston this week. We were living in Houston in 2001 during Tropical Storm Allison when we had 24" of rain over a 3 day period. By the time Harvey departs the Houston area later this week they are talking about the possibility of twice that much rain. The Alley Theater, our long-time home-away-from-home is again underwater, as are so many other buildings and homes. It is truly impossible to fathom without being there. Our hearts go out to all living in that disaster zone. We are so lucky to be here, to be healthy (surgery recovery is going well) and to have the privilege of growing good food here on the farm. We don't say it enough, thanks for being a part of our farm family!

With the fall field crops mostly all in the ground, we spent a fair amount of time cultivating this week. We also went after that last pesky row of potatoes, some of which are headed out in boxes today. Though we did other things, I feel like we spent half of our week harvesting beans. The rains from a week ago really kicked both the old and new plantings into gear so we are doing our best to keep them picked. We considered doing an "All Legume Box" this week, but decided you might like a few other things to go along with them. Not all is rosy on the legume front though. The weather did a real number on the edamame crop this year, after losing the first sowing to the furry eaters, the second sowing did ok and the 3rd sowing didn't even germinate. The pods on succession 2 were filled out and needed to be harvested, but the total yield was lower than we hoped. So we are sending all of them out today, with just enough for everyone to get a sample. They are pretty tasty added to a variety of pasta dishes, where you can enjoy them without needed a huge quantity. They are fairly dusty from the dry soil and morning dews, so you will want to give them a quick rinse before tossing them into your cooking pot. While harvesting the edamame, we took a look at the nearby collards and decided it was time to box some up for you. They are green & lush, though a bit "over-popular" with the local insect gangs. We hope you can overlook the leaf damage, it is certainly a badge of "no-chemicals-used-here".

Some of the mid-season crops are starting to look a bit tired. The summer squashes are really showing their age and are slowing down in their production. The Romano beans, while producing like crazy, look like they are on their final hurrah. Tomatoes are just having a rough year all around. They aren't really slowing down, they just never really took off this year with all of the crazy weather. We will continue to send them out as long as we have them. The fall crops are coming along surprisingly well, given our rain shortage, but that nice +1" ten days ago or so really gave them a boost. The Napa is putting on the most impressive show, but the lettuces, spinach and choi are looking nearly as good. We finally have a crop of chard coming along as well. We built it a little deer & rabbit-proof tunnel and as long as we can keep the blister beetles at bay, we should have some in boxes by the end of the season. The winter squash continue to do well and are at risk of taking over our El Norte field. Some of the Musque de Provence squashes we've seen hiding under the mounds of foliage are so big they look like overstuffed footstools! Now how are we going to get those into boxes???

A little detail on your produce this week:



Edamame (vegetable or green soy beans): Store beans on or off the branches in a bag in the crisper drawer and use within 1 week.  To use, separate beans from branches and cook in salted, boiling water in the pods or shelled, depending on how you plan to use them. In case this is a new vegetable for you, the pods of edamame are not edible, so be sure to shell them before eating.
 
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.  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.
Melons: If your cantaloupe seems a bit short of ripe, keep it at room temperature for a few days or until there is a sweet smell coming from the stem end. Once the melon ripens, store it in the refrigerator. Handle watermelons carefully. When harvested at their peak ripeness, they can crack or split easily if bumped or roughly handled. Refrigerate watermelons right away. (Watermelons do not ripen off the vine and do not emanate a ripe smell.)
Cut melon should be covered in plastic wrap, chunks or slices should be kept in an airtight container, and both should be refrigerated. Eat all melons within a week.

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."


Peppers: Place whole, unwashed peppers in a plastic bag, seal, and refrigerate for a week or more. Rinse peppers just before use. For sweet peppers, cut around the stem with a small knife and lift out the core. Slice down the side to open it up and then cut out the inner membranes. Store unused portions in a sealed bag or container in the refrigerator.

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.

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.  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. 

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 Blue, Luci & Indigo)
Labels:

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

BGF News - August 22, 2017-Vol. XXXIII, No.11

In this week’s box:

Basil: sweet
Beans: Mix or Romano
Carrots: Mix
Garlic: Northern White
Head Lettuce: Coastal Star, Magenta or Muir
Kale Mix
Onions: Cipollini or Ailsa Craig
Sweet Peppers: asst
Summer Squash: asst
Tomatoes: see descriptions in 8/1 newsletter

And at least one of the following:
Broccoli: Belstar
Cantaloupe: Minnesota Midget
Cucumber: Lemon
Eggplant: Orient Express (Asian-type, purple), Orient Charm (Asian-type, lavender) or
    Listada de Gandia (Italian, striped)

Okra: Bowling Red
Squash Blossoms
Watermelon: Sugar Baby (red interior) or Cream of Saskatchewan (white interior)
           
For those with the Egg option [full & half shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: lemon basil, lemon balm &savory

 
Featured Recipes:  ** indicates a BGF favorite 
Zucchini Butter
Roasted Pepper and Tomato Bruschetta
Slow Roasted Peppers in a Balsamic Glaze
15 Squash Blossom Recipes
Braised Green Beans and Summer Vegetables 

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 1.70"

The words I'm sure everyone has been waiting to hear, "we finally got some rain!" It took a week, but over the past 7 days, we got more than an inch of and a half of glorious rain. This is a game changer for some of our crops and it is definitely lowering the stress level of this farmHer. That said, it doesn't come close to addressing our deficit, but it sure made some farmers and plants very happy!

We got some big projects done this past week, including harvesting nearly all of the remaining potatoes. Luckily the yield was much better than the early potatoes we dug a few weeks ago. Certainly not a record yield, but a respectable showing. The crew was fairly sure we were trying to kill them that day , even though we used the tractor and potato plow to do the digging. They didn't seem to be believe me when I told them that it was MUCH harder when we dug them all by hand. We still have one row left that we couldn't get the potato plow into without running over the cabbages (bad farmHer planning). We did hook up the old horse-drawn plow to the tractor and ran that through the row to at least give us a start at digging, but I'm considering letting the crew hand dig the rest of that row just for the experience of it. :) 


Digging for buried (potato) treasure



Resorting to the old "horse-drawn" plow
















We also pulled all of the onions this week and racked them up in the barn loft to dry. The number of onions was pretty good but they are definitely smaller than we'd like to see. Given how little moisture they received, we are probably lucky we have any at all. Amidst these bigger harvesting projects this week, we prepped some high tunnel beds for new crops, shelled the last of the 2016 popcorn, cleaned another round of garlic, sowed kale, chard and Napa for high tunnel transplanting and did some more weeding. We also took a few breaks while harvesting the bounty of beans yesterday to check in on the eclipse.

 

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.

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.  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. 

Sweet Peppers: Place whole, unwashed peppers in a plastic bag, seal, and refrigerate for a week or more. Rinse peppers just before use then cut around the stem with a small knife and lift out the core. Slice down the side to open it up and then cut out the inner membranes. 

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 Blue, Luci & Indigo)
Labels: