Tuesday, July 3, 2012

BGF News 6/26/12

In this week’s box: 
Beets: Chioggia & Golden
Chard: Bright lights Mix
Hardneck Garlic: Northern White
Head Lettuce: asst.
New Potatoes: Red Gold
            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 Peas(snap or snow)
For those with the Egg option [full]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Basil (Lemon or Lime), Thyme (German Hardy) & Peppermint

Featured Recipe(s) (see below): Parmesan Crusted Potatoes and Zucchini (or Eggplant)
Chard Wrapped Grilled Mozzarella

Precipitation in the past week:  .6”

What’s up on the farm?

Nice job on remembering your empty boxes this past week, we had almost 100% return rate, which makes our jobs much easier today, thanks!

This past week as the longest days of the summer stretched on, we were seeing lots of fledgling birds around the farm. We've had several families of Bluebirds and Barn Swallows, but this week was the one for little Oriels. We have both Eastern and Orchard Oriels here and the parents are now bringing the young to the jelly feeders outside our kitchen window and feeding them. It's one of our favorite things to watch of the whole season and it's a great way to get rid of the odd little overruns from our jam-making sessions. This week the Oriels are enjoying Gooseberry Jam in their feeders and the young seem to have few complaints except, "MORE!"

The other highlight of our week was the hosting of our "Gang of Four" farming friends. This group includes the farmers from Grinnell Heritage Farm, Genuine Faux Farm, Scattergood Friends School and BGF. For 4 months over the summer we take one day and all go work at one of the farms. This month was at our farm and the group (plus two of our farm crew) harvested ALL of the garlic and got it tied and hung in the barn, then they moved on and pruned ALL of the field tomatoes. By then everyone was hot and dirty, so a swim in the pond followed, then a big family-style dinner featuring foods from all of the farms. It is such a wonderful, knowledgeable, supportive group and we are thrilled to be a part of it!  And thanks to their efforts, the barn is again well protected from the threat of vampires for at least the next several weeks as the thousands of heads of garlic cures.

In addition to the group activities, we also got lots of weeding, hoeing and trellising done this week. Almost across the board, the crops look healthy and promising for upcoming harvests. The winter squash and melons are blooming and the first beans are just starting to appear on several of our bean varieties. The peppers are setting, but not yet coloring as are the tomatoes. We expect that in the next several weeks, the mid-season crops will start rolling in, in earnest and then the boxes will start getting significantly heavier.

A little detail on your produce this week:
Beets with greens: remove your leaves and add them to your chard for storage. Both beet roots and greens store better separated. The leaves can be used with the chard in any greens recipe, the flavor is very similar.

New Potatoes: These have only been cured for about a day, so be sure to store them in their paper bag, loosely folded if you aren't using them right away.

Fresh Garlic: The garlic was just harvested this weekend so is not cured. Fresh garlic needs to be stored in a well-sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator and used within a few weeks.  You will find that it is extra juicy at this stage and we find it particularly tasty. Later this season, we will have cured garlic that can be stored at room temperature.

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.

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 http://beyondthebluegate.blogspot.com/ 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)

Parmesan Crusted Potatoes and Zucchini (or eggplant)
Serves 4 for a side -or- 2 for a meal

4 small new potatoes, about 1-1/2 inches in diameter
2 T. butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 t. chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 small zucchini (or eggplant), halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Over high heat, bring a medium pot of water to a boil.  Add the potatoes and cook until tender 10-15 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and let cool.  Cut potatoes in half.

In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add the butter, garlic, thyme, and rosemary.  Heat until the butter melts.

Meanwhile, sprinkle salt and pepper over the cut sides of the zucchini (or eggplant) and potatoes.

Carefully place vegetables cut side down in the pan with the melted butter. Cook until golden brown, 12-15 minutes.

Pre-heat the broiler.  Line a sheet pan with foil.  Place the vegetables cut side up on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with Parmesan.  Broil until cheese is melted and golden, about 4 minutes.

Recipe Source: www.forksknivesandspades.blogspot.com

Chard Wrapped Grilled Mozzarella
4 large, whole, outside leaves of swiss chard
8 pieces of mozzarella sliced into 2-inch wide triangles, 1/2-inch thick
8 kalamata olives, pitted and halved lengthwise
8 pn fresh thyme)
8 pn red pepper flakes
salt, as needed
olive oil, as needed
4 slices rustic italian bread about 1/2-inch thick

Lay the chard leaves out in front of you. Using the tip of a sharp knife cut on either side of the center vein of all 4 leaves. Discard veins. You should have 8 segments of chard leaves approximately 8"x3".
Put the leaves in a large heat-proof bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let the leaves sit about 3 minutes then drain and dry them with paper towels. Take care to keep them intact.
Lay a leaf out flat on the surface in front of you, shiny side down. Place a slice of cheese at the wider end of the leaf. Top that with two halves of kalamata olives, a pinch of thyme, a pinch of red pepper flakes and a few grains of salt.
The next step is just like folding a flag. Fold the leaf over the cheese creating an angle which becomes one side of a triangle. Alternate this fold left and right creating a tight little triangular bundle. Brush the triangle with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle it with a bit more salt. Repeat with the remaining leaves and cheese.
The triangles may be made ahead several hours and kept covered in the refrigerator. Bring them to room temperature before continuing.
To grill: Place the triangles, seam side down, on an outdoor grill over indirect heat. Cook uncovered about 6 minutes, turning once. Make sure the cheese is completely melted by pressing on each one gently with your finger.
While the triangles cook, lightly brush the bread slices with olive oil on both sides. Give one side a light sprinkle of salt. Place them on the grill and toast them on both sides directly over the coals (no flame). Remove them from the grill and cut them in half on an angle.
To serve: Top each piece of toast with a grilled mozzarella triangle. Serve immediately with a drizzle of olive oil.
Recipe Source: www.sippitysup.com
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