Wednesday, December 21, 2011

BGF News 12/20/11

In this week’s box:
Carrots: Bolero (orange), Napoli (orange), Parisienne (little orange), Red Dragon (red), Amarillo (yellow)
Chard: Bright Lights Mix
Choi: baby
Cabbage: Arrowhead (conical) or Gonzales (round)
Garlic: Hardneck
Kale Mix: Red Russian, Beira, & Beedy’s Camden
Lemon Thyme
Tapestry Salad Mix
Turnips: Hakurei (white) & Scarlet Queen (pink)

For those with the Egg option: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Cheese option: Robiola & Roasted Red Pepper Chevre

Featured Recipe(s) (see below):
Lemon Garlic Dipping Oil
White Bean & Bacon Soup with Kale

Precipitation to date this month: Rain:2.9”

What’s up on the farm?

Here we are at the final delivery of 2011 and what a crazy, whirlwind season it has been. Never before have we still been harvesting produce, wearing nothing more than sweatshirts and jeans, from the fields the week before Christmas, a treat, but a bit surreal.  It has felt more like late October than mid-December, but I suspect that by the end of today, that may change.

We hosted a couple of groups on the farm in the past week, students from Marshalltown Community College’s Sustainable Ag. Program and a class from Maharishi University came out for a tour and talk about our experience in starting and running a small farm. They were bright, inquisitive students with lots of good questions. We appreciate the opportunity to share and learn in turn from the farmers of the future.

The warm weather also pushed us to get a few more “end of the season” chores done and we were able to get most of the row covers struck from the field and stored away before last week’s rains started. There are still a number of tasks on the outdoor “to-do list” but we are making progress working through them. Woodcutting is an ongoing winter activity and now that the wood-fired boiler is up and going again, they wood cutting has begun in earnest. Otherwise we are starting to hunker down for the winter ahead and looking forward to the New Year and its lineup of conferences and other “educating the farmer” activities.

We have started getting questions about sign up for the 2012 season. We will start the registration process in late January for the veteran members.  Look for the January edition of BGF News that will have more details.  We also plan to continue egg sales periodically through the winter – if you wish to be on that notification list, please let us know.

We want to thank you for joining us for the season and we wish you all health, joy and peace in upcoming year.

A few details on new stuff in the box:
Everything but the garlic should go into plastic bags and be stored in your refrigerator.
The cabbage is the only new thing this time around. It was a late harvest from the field and has some random bad leaves tucked in the inner layers, not apparent from the outside. Simply remove the offending spots and enjoy the sweet tender-crispness of late, cold-weather cabbage.
The garlic is still tasty, but you may find a few cloves that are starting to sprout. Simply flick the green bit out with the tip of a knife (it’s a bit bitter) and use your garlic usual.

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures?  Follow us at our blog at and on Facebook (just search Blue Gate Farm) and “Like” us.

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

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

Lemon-Garlic Oil with Herbs
This dipping oil is equally good with bread or just about any grilled meat or fish.
Yields about 3/4 cup.

2 small lemons
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 Tbs. minced garlic
Two 3- to 4-inch sprigs fresh rosemary
3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

With a vegetable peeler, peel the zest from the lemons in strips. Remove any white pith from the strips of zest, if necessary.

In a small saucepan heat the lemon zest, oil, garlic, and rosemary over low heat until the oil just begins to bubble, 3 to 5 minutes. The garlic should not brown, or it will taste bitter. Transfer the mixture to a small heatproof bowl and let cool to room temperature. Remove the zest and rosemary sprigs with a fork or tongs. Stir in the parsley.

You can make and refrigerate this dipping oil (hold the parsley) up to a day ahead. When ready to serve, bring it to room temperature and stir in the herbs.

Recipe Source:  Fine Cooking 93, pp. 43

White Bean & Bacon Soup with Kale
2 TBS olive oil
10 oz applewood smoked slab bacon, cut into ¾” cubes
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 qts chicken stock, homemade or low sodium
1 pound dried white beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
3 large thyme sprigs
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
coarse salt & freshly ground pepper
1 head escarole or kale, cut crosswise into strips

  1. Heat oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat and cook bacon until crisp, with a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate.
  2. Add onions and shallot to pan, cook until translucent and soft, about 8 minutes, add garlic, cook 1 minute more.
  3. Return bacon to pan. Stir in stock, beans, cayenne, and 1 tsp salt; season with pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 30 minutes. Uncover and cook until beans are tender, about 90 minutes more.
  4. Stir in escarole or kale. Cook 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Recipe source: Martha Stewert Living, March 2007.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

BGF News 12/06/11

In this week’s box:
Broccoli Raab: Piracicaba and/or Brocolini
Choi: Win-win
Kohlrabi: Eder (green) and Kolibri (purple)
Radishes: asst.
Spinach Mix: Bordeaux (red stems), Olympia, Space & Tyee
Tapestry Salad Mix
Turnips: Hakurei & Scarlet Queen

For those with the Egg option: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Cheese option: Classic Chevre & Cranberry Pecan Chevre

Featured Recipe(s) (see below):
Mizuna Greens Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Sliced Apple
Garlicy Mizuna with Koh Reh Gu Su
Broccoli Raab, Garlic Scallions and Pasta

Precipitation last month: Rain 2.5”
Snow: 3.5”
Precipitation to date this month: Rain:1.8

What’s up on the farm?

The cold weather finally started to catch up with us in the past couple of weeks.  The forecast of lows in the teens brought a rush of early harvesting of field crops for today’s delivery.  You may notice some freeze damage on the broccoli raab, kohlrabi and mizuna, but hopefully nothing too serious.  There is still much remaining out in the fields, but we can only store so much volume, so there is always some end of the season loss out there.  The high tunnel crops continue to thrive, though their growth is greatly slowed by the diminishing daylight hours.  Nonetheless, they should continue to provide delicious, high quality produce for much of the winter.

Around the farm, the dogs are now sporting fancy blaze orange collars, as the hunting season is upon us and the traffic on our gravel road has certainly increased.  Electrical work continues in the packing shed and we have finally settled on a layout for the produce processing line that will take up the bulk of the interior space.  The new boiler “bungalow” is complete and we fire up the boiler for the first time this season, later this week. Thus will begin our annual woodcutting chores as well.

A few details on new stuff in the box:
Everything can go into plastic bags and store in your produce drawers.  Remember that the leaves of raab, kohlrabi, radish and turnips can all be used as greens in your favorite recipes.  The kohlrabi leaves can be used raw, save the others for cooked recipes.
Broccoli Raab: broccoli raab is not related to broccoli.  It is, however, closely related to turnips which is probably why the leaves look like turnip greens.  Lots of broccoli-like buds appear here and there but a head never forms.  It is grown as much for its long-standing, tasty mustard-like tops as for their multiple small florets with clusters of broccoli-like buds.  The stems are generally uniform in size (hence cook evenly) and need not be peeled.  Clean it as you would other greens, removing the bottom portion of the stems which appear tough (sometimes the stems are tougher than other times depending on the age of the raab).  They stems can be removed up to where the leaves begin, and sautéed before adding the leaves to the pan.  This vegetable is a source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium.
Mizuna: Mizuna contains vitamin C, folic acid, and antioxidants.  Like other brassica vegetables, it contains glucosinolates, which may inhibit the development of certain cancers.  Mizuna can be used fresh in a salad or cooked in eggs, stir-fries, soups, or steamed dishes.

Upcoming Events:
Downtown Winter Market: Friday & Saturday, December 16th & 17th, Capitol Square
Next (and final) CSA Delivery: Tuesday, December 20th  

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures?  Follow us at our blog at and on Facebook (just search Blue Gate Farm) and “Like” us.

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

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

Mizuna Greens Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Sliced Apple
1/2 bunch mizuna, cleaned and roughly chopped
1 pomegranate, halved and seeds taken out (or 1/2 cup store bought seeds)
1 apple, sliced into thin wedges

Mizuna Salad Dressing Recipe
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
salt and pepper, to taste

For the dressing, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, honey and salt & pepper. Set aside.

Place mizuna greens and apple slices in a large bowl. Cut pomegranate in half and hit the back side with a rolling pin (or other device) to release seeds, see photo above. Pour in dressing and toss well. Arrange salad on serving plates.

Yield: 4 servings

Recipe Source:

Garlicy Mizuna with Koh Reh Gu Su
1 bunch of Mizuna
1 garlic clove
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 lemon
Koh Reh Gu Su (we use garlic chili sauce or sriracha, substitute with your favorite hot sauce)
Sea salt & Pepper
1. Wash the mizuna. Fill a large bowl with water, and gently shake the mizuna in the bowl to release any dirt of grime. Dry thoroughly by patting with a paper towel. Cut into 4-inch pieces.
2. Mince up a garlic clove. Heat olive oil over medium in a large saute pan, and throw in garlic – cook until aromatic. Throw in mizuna and stir fry.
3. When the mizuna begins to wilt, sprinkle in a pinch of sea salt, grind some pepper, and splash a generous amount of koh reh guu su. Stir fry until mizuna wilts to half its original amount.
4. Plate, and squeeze some lemon juice.

Recipe Source:

Broccoli Raab, Garlic Scallions and Pasta
1 medium onion, diced
1 garlic scallion( green garlic), sliced diagonally (or garlic chives, optional)
4-6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch broccoli raab, heavy stems removed and chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 to 1/2 lb Galletti Pasta (or other shaped pasta)

Prepare vegetables
Cover bottom of a skillet with olive oil, saute onions until translucent.
Prepare pasta while cooking vegetables.
Add scallion, garlic, and red pepper, toss.
Add broccoli raab and wine. Saute until tender, stirring and tossing frequently.
Toss with cooked and drained pasta

Recipe Source: