Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Blue Gate Farm News 6/19/12

In this week’s box:
Basil: asst varieties
Scallions (green onions): "Evergreen"
Head Lettuce: asst.
Pac Choi: “Win-Win”
"Wild Things" Greens Mix: Amaranth, Lambsquarter, Sorrel, Purslane
            and ONE of the following:
Squash Blossoms, Eggplant: Orient Express (long, thin, purple), Summer Squash : Patty Pan (fluted), 8-Ball (round), or Sebring (long, yellow) or Baby Kale: small bundle of purple/green ruffled leaves

For those with the Cheese option: Chive Chevre & Classic Feta
For those with the Egg option [full or half]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Herb share will begin next week

Featured Recipe(s) (see below): Baked Squash Blossoms
Asian Amaranth Greens
Cold Sesame Noodles with Greens

Precipitation in the past week:  1.9”

What’s up on the farm?

Around here, when rain is desperately needed, and it finally comes in adequate quantities, farmers call it a "million-dollar rain." The rain last Saturday and Sunday were definitely million dollar rains. While we do irrigate, there is nothing like natural, unadulterated rain from the sky. I swear the pole beans grew 8-10" overnight!  Otherwise things are just moving forward at a steady, not quite frantic, pace. Second and third sowings of most crops are in and weeding continues ad infinitum. Its hard to believe, but this past week we also sowed the first of the fall transplants in the sunroom, mostly cool-weather crops like Brussels sprouts and storage cabbages, although we also threw in some cucumbers to make up for those that are struggling. So now we have reached that time in the season where the early crops have finished (2-3 weeks ahead of schedule, thank you very much) and the mid-season crops aren't on yet. So begins the challenge of what to put into the boxes until crops like beans, tomatoes and peppers are ready? The summer squashes, kale and high tunnel eggplant have just started to produce, but not enough for everyone so here we are back at a stagger schedule. Barring some catastrophe, we do anticipate everyone will get eggplant, kale and squash, but just not all at once, at least in the beginning. The squash blossoms are a special treat that we try to get into everyone's box once, so that may stretch out for a few weeks, depending on the bloom production in the gardens.  However the "produce adventure" that everyone will get to experience this week is the Wild Things mix. We like to do this once a season as well, and with the recent rains, the wilds are at their peak. There are real nutrient powerhouses that are revered in many cultures as basic food sources, while here in the US, we tend to consider them weeds and they are featured mostly on the labels for herbicide sprays. Since we are "smarter than the average food consumer", we know enough to enjoy them, at least once during the season. Several years ago, one of our CSA members referred to them as a "Euell Gibbons Forage Retrospective" which we think is just perfect!

Just a gentle reminder to be sure to bring your empty box along with you to the weekly delivery. We were missing nearly 1/4 of the boxes last week and it does make our jobs more challenging to pack into boxes that we have to find replacements for. If you DO get to the delivery without your box, you are welcome to unpack your box into a bag (if you happen to have one with you) and leave the box with us, a number of members do this as a matter of course and it works quite nicely for them.

A little detail on your produce this week:
Basil: Basil is a special case, and should not be stored in the refrigerator, as it will turn black.  We like to keep ours in a vase of fresh water on the kitchen counter.  For some, a loose plastic bag on the counter works well for a couple of days; otherwise, put basil in a plastic bag inside a paper bag for insulation, and store in the warmest part of the refrigerator (usually the door).

Scallions (green onions): Remove ties and store scallions unwashed, wrapped in a paper towel and then in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week or upright in a glass or jar in about 1" of water in the fridge with a plastic bag over the whole thing.

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.

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

Wild Things Greens Mix: Keep these like other greens stored in a plastic bag, with the top folded over and placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator and use within a week. They can replace any hearty greens in a recipe and are wonderful juiced, if you are into that sort of thing. We especially like them in egg dishes. Amaranth (smooth green leaf in Wild Things Mix) is loaded with vitamin K. Amaranth greens are also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, calcium, potassium, and iron. Lambsquarters are very high in Vitamin A, high in Vitamin C, moderate in calcium and low in iron. They're also high in fiber but low in calories and fats. Lambsquarters contain known anti-inflammatory nutrients, including Beta Carotene and Vitamin K. Common lambsquarters also contain carbohydrates, which may increase blood sugar levels. Common lambsquarters are low in protein percentages but high in many amino acids. Just a heads up, if a person is on blood thinners, they need to consult their health care provider concerning foods high in vitamin K. Vitamin K is a blood coagulator.

Summer Squash: Refrigerate unwashed 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.

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 at Blue Gate Farm.

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)

Baked Squash Blossoms
Squash blossoms, stamens removed from inside
Fresh Chevre (goat cheese) plain or flavored
Olive Oil

Carefully open each blossom and place 1 – 2 teaspoons of chevre into the blossom. Fold or twist blossom closed. Place on a jelly roll pan, not touching one another. Drizzle in olive oil sprinkle with a smidgen of salt.
Bake at 425 degrees F for 20-25 minutes until they were slightly brown and crispy. 
Serve warm and savor the crispy, yet soft sensation in your mouth.

Recipe Source:

Asian Amaranth Greens
serves 2
4 cups amaranth leaves (or Wild Things Mix), chopped into bite-sized pieces, tough stems removed.
2 teaspoon white rice vinegar
2 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
Put the leaves, white rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a large sauté pan.
Cook on high heat for just a few minutes, turning frequently with tongs.
Top with sesame seeds.

Recipe Source:

Cold Sesame Noodles with Greens
2 lbs Chinese noodles, such as chow mein, usually found in the produce section (you can use vermicelli if you don’t have a resource for Chinese noodles)
1 bunch mustard (or other hearty greens,) trimmed and sliced into ribbons
3 carrots, sliced thinly on the bias
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
6 green onions, sliced thinly on the bias
1 cooked chicken breast, sliced into small pieces (about 1-1/2 cups)
5 Tbsp grapeseed or vegetable oil
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Sambal Olek
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp peanut butter
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
Mix together the dressing ingredients (grapeseed oil through peanut butter) and set aside.
Put on a large pot of water to boil.
In the meantime, heat a skillet over high heat. Saute the yellow onion and carrot together just until it begins to soften. Add the mustard greens and season with salt. Cook until the greens are wilted and cooked through. Add most of the green onions, reserving a few for garnish. Turn off the heat and let cool.
When the water boils, add the noodles and cook for just a few minutes until the noodles are done. Remove, drain and rinse with cold water. Toss noodles with vegetables, sliced chicken, sesame seeds and sauce. Top with the remaining green onions.
Recipe Source:
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