Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Blue Gate Farm News 7/3/12

In this week’s box:
Basil: asst varieties
Fresh Beans: Bean Mix (Green: Empress  & Yellow: Carson) or Maxibel (green, filet-type)
Green Garlic
Kale Mix or Senposai
Lemon Balm
Pac Choi: “Win-Win”
            and ONE of the following:
Eggplant: Orient Express (long, thin, purple), Summer Squash : Patty Pan (fluted), 8-Ball (round), or Sebring (long, yellow),  Peas(snap or snow), or Broccoli: Packman

For those with the Cheese option: Basil Feta & Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Chevre
For those with the Egg option [full or half]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Basil: Red Rubin, tarragon, savory

Featured Recipe(s) (see below):  Lemon Balm Pesto
Zippy Sesame Beans
 Stir-fried Rice

Precipitation in the past week: 0.00 ”

What’s up on the farm?

Holy moly its hot out there!  This past week it seems like we've spent as much time stopping for water and shade breaks as we've spent working in the field.  The pond is certainly getting lots of attention at the end of the workday from farmers and field crew alike.  In addition to the heat, we are also struggling to keep up with the irrigation needs of the crops, as we missed nearly all the rain that worked its way across the state last week.  It is so dry in parts of the state that we heard one CSA in central Iowa has already shut down for the season due to an inability to irrigate.  A few of our crops are struggling, or finished earlier than we would like, but rest assured, we are nowhere near closing down.  Crops that are finished for the early season include lettuce mix, early potatoes and the last of the peas and maybe the choi.  Those crops will be tilled down and the beds prepared for fall crops, including turnips, cabbages, carrots , Brussels Sprouts and kale.  In spite of the heat, some of the crops look great (thanks to the irrigation lines) including the tomatoes, peppers and beans.  We ate the first little cherry tomatoes last night, sorry, there was only a few of them and we couldn't figure out how to divide 4 tomatoes among 43 boxes.  But know that the tomatoes are looking good, setting fruit and just on the cusp of ripening.  We expect them to start appearing in boxes in the next couple of weeks.  Beans are starting to appear in boxes this week, and we have just enough for everyone to get some. The broccoli is making its first appearance this week in just a few boxes.  The heads are small, and the plants aren't happy with this heat, they would prefer 65° over 100°, but so would we!  We'll do our best to get broccoli into all the boxes in the coming deliveries.  Starting with today's delivery, we will be including basil every other week in all the boxes, so get those pesto recipes ready.  As soon as we have tomatoes available, we will include our favorite new pesto recipe in the newsletter, as it includes tomatoes in the mix.

Our fun discovery of the week was a little ground-nesting sparrow (either a Henslow's or a Lark sparrow) that has decided to nest in Plot VI in the pathway between the Romano beans and Sweet Potatoes.  The crew discovered the nest with three tiny mottled eggs, while weeding and marked it with flags so that we don't accidentally step on it while working in the area.  The mother bird isn't very happy about our appearance in her neighborhood, but doesn't seem to mind the bright orange marker flags that now adorn her "doorstep".

A little detail on your produce this week:
Beans: Fresh beans are an easy "store."  Just leave them in their plastic bag and keep them in the produce drawer.  Can last up to 2 weeks.

Broccoli: Store in its plastic bag in the produce drawer and use in 7-10 days. Before cooking, soak heads in cold salted water to remove any "nature". Then rinse and use in your favorite recipes.

Green Garlic: this was a little experiment that we tried by planting some storage garlic early this spring.  It is just starting to "scape" so you might notice a few of those little treats among the bright green stalks.  Store loosely wrapped in plastic in your produce drawer and use like you would garlic scapes or bulb garlic.  The flavor is so fresh and green that we like to use them in recipes that really highlight the flavor, like pesto or garlic butter.

Lemon Balm: Our lemon balm is going crazy so you reap the rewards.  Store loosely wrapped in plastic in your produce drawer or upright in a glass of water in the refrigerator.  Makes delicious tea (iced or hot) and a pesto-like sauce.  Also delightful with fish or chicken.

Greens (Kale, Senposai, Choi): You know the drill by now, plastic bag, produce drawer.

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)

Lemon Balm Pesto
6 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
4 cloves garlic
2 cups tightly-packed lemon-balm leaves
1 cup shelled walnuts (or sunflower seeds)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup olive oil
pepper and more salt, to taste
Rinse lemon balm well in a bowl of water. Let it soak until needed.
Grate parmesan if needed.
Peel garlic. Set up your food processor with the cutting blade or use a blender. Turn the machine on and drop the garlic in while the blade is turning. Turn off when garlic is minced, after about 10 seconds.
Rinse the lemon balm well and pat dry with towel. Remove leaves and put in food processor or blender. Put walnuts and salt on top of leaves. Process until finely chopped but still a bit rough.
With the machine going, slowly pour in olive oil.
Stop the machine and add parmesan cheese. Process briefly to mix. Taste. Add salt and pepper as needed.
To serve, stir pesto into hot cooked pasta or spread on bread or crackers. Eat warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate or freeze any extra.
Recipe Source:

Zippy Sesame Beans

1 lb fresh green beans (whole)
2 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (or green garlic)
1 tsp sea salt
fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 tbs seasoned rice vinegar
¼ c. sesame seeds, toasted

Place beans in a large pot of boiling water for 3-5 minutes. You don’t want to cook them, they should still crunch, just blanch until bright green. Drain and allow to cool to room temperature or slightly warm. While beans are cooking, mix garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl, and allow to sit at room temperature until beans are cooled. Place beans in a large bowl and toss with garlic/olive oil mixture. Add vinegar and half of sesame seeds, toss again. Place beans in serving dish and sprinkle with remaining sesame seeds. We like this dish served at room temperature as a salad or as a somewhat messy appetizer, but it is also good served warm or chilled. This is a great party or potluck dish. If you have leftovers, you might want to add another splash of rice vinegar before serving them again, just to liven up the flavor a bit.

Recipe Source: Blue Gate Farm

2 1/4 cups
1 1/2 cups
2 1/2 tbsp.
3 cups
4 oz.
1/4 lb.
1 1/2 tbsp.
long-grain white rice
vegetable oil
eggs, beaten to blend
carrots, peeled, thinly sliced on diagonal, then slivered
thinly sliced bok choy stems and leaves
fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced
snow peas, trimmed, slivered
oriental sesame oil
green onions, sliced
Szechuan Salt-Pepper (If you don't have this, you can use regular black pepper.)
For Rice:
Bring 2 1/4 cups water to boil in medium saucepan. Add rice and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Fluff with fork. Transfer to bowl and cool completely. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil in wok or heavy large skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add eggs and cook until puffed around edge. Using spatula, push cooked egg toward back of pan while tipping pan forward, allowing uncooked egg to flow forward. Continue cooking until eggs are no longer runny but still soft and fluffy. Cut eggs into pieces with edge of spatula and transfer eggs to plate.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in wok over high heat. Add slivered carrots and stir-fry 1 minute. Add sliced bok choy, sliced shiitake mushroom caps and slivered snow peas. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir-fry until vegetables just begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add oriental sesame oil and heat mixture, then add cooked rice and stir-fry until heated through. Stir in eggs and sliced green onions. Season rice to taste with Szechuan Salt-Pepper and serve immediately.
Bon Appetit, June 1993

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