Wednesday, July 18, 2012

BGF News 7/17/12

In this week’s box:
Basil: Genovese or Italian Large Leaf
Fresh Beans: Bean Mix (Green: Empress & Yellow: Carson) or Maxibel (green, filet-type)
Shallots: Prisma (red/purple) looks like onions
Tomatoes, slicers (see descriptions below)
            and ONE of the following:
Eggplant: Orient Express (long, thin, purple), Summer Squash : Patty Pan (fluted), 8-Ball (round), or Sebring (long, yellow, Broccoli: Packman or Cherry Tomatoes mix

For those with the Cheese option: Roasted Red Pepper Chevre & Cranberry-Pecan Chevre + Robiola [Bonus!]
For those with the Egg option [full or half]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Basil: lemon, Parsley: Giant of Italy, Sage:Extracta
For those with the Honey option: look for your first delivery in the next couple of weeks

Featured Recipe(s) (see below):  Farmgirl Susan's Purple Basil Pesto (our favorite pesto recipe)
Green Beans with Shallots and Goat Cheese
 Purslane Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes

Precipitation in the past week: 0.10 ”

What’s up on the farm?

It feels like the most important thing is what isn't up on the farm, and that is rain.  Everything that comes our way seems to dissipate or split and go around up. We are desperately dry, even though we continue to irrigate daily. Because the surrounding soil is so parched, all the water that we put on the ground that isn't immediately used by the plant, is pulled away like water into a dry sponge, so while we are keeping most of the plants alive, we aren't making much headway at improving the soil moisture conditions. Unfortunately this won't improve until we get some decent rain. We are hopeful about the chances in the next two days. I wish we had better news, but the return of the high temps paired with the lack of rain will only make things more challenging for the crops.  We had a Gang of 4 farm workday this weekend and all of the farms are reporting similar conditions and challenges. Not everything is dying, in fact, right now, the only imminent deaths are the early cucumbers (evidently cucumber beetles really thrive on this weather). We've planted replacements, but if they survive, it will be a few weeks before we see any fruiting on them. However, most crops have either slowed or stopped flowering (sterile pollen from the extreme temps, again). So what does that mean for you? It's hard to say exactly, but you will likely notice a decrease in the volume of produce in your box, both number and variety.  We are trying to keep the boxes as bountiful and varied as possible, but we can't pack what we don't have. We don't want to sound overly negative or alarmist, but even the nightly news is doing regular reports on the drought and we want to be sure that we give you as much information as possible to help you understand the current conditions. So all grumbling (on my part), cursing and prayers aside, let's talk about something happier…

We harvested the first of the shallot crop last week and they are the best and biggest shallots we've ever grown,  in fact, a couple are the biggest we've ever seen. For those of you unfamiliar with this crop, they are in the onion/garlic family and have a rich flavor, almost a cross between garlic and sweet onion. They can be used in any recipe calling for onions or garlic, but we really like them in salad dressings and egg dishes where their flavor can really shine.

And, we are getting the first real tomato harvest this week.  We anticipate putting tomatoes into the boxes for the foreseeable future, but there are so many, that instead of listing each variety every week, here is a full description of all the tomatoes we are growing this year.  You should anticipate seeing the majority of them over the course of the season.  As there is such a rainbow of colors (including green), the best way to tell if an individual tomato is ripe is by touch.  A ready-ripe tomato will yield to gentle pressure.  We try to send a range of ripeness in each delivery, so that you can enjoy them throughout the week, so do try to notice which are the most ripe and dig into those first.
Azoycha: Lemon-yellow medium-sized fruits with sweet, yet rich flavor.
Black Cherry: Beautiful black cherry tomato with rich flavor.
Black Krim: purple/red slicing tomato with excellent full flavor
Blondkopfchen: Small yellow 1” fruits with excellent sweet taste.
Cosmonaut Volkov: medium-large red slicer with a full-rich flavor
Costoluto Sport: Red fluted tomato with few seeds and sweet flavor, great for roasting, and fresh eating
Dr. Wychee Yellow: Large orange tomato with meaty, rich tasting flavor.
Golden Rave: Small 1–2 oz yellow, plum shaped tomatoes with good tomato flavor. Perfect snacking tomato.
Green Zebra: Small, 2 1/2" olive yellow with green stripes and a sweet zingy flavor
Indigo Rose: Small black-red fruit with high acid and "plummy" overtones
Japanese Black Trifele: A dark maroon, pear-shaped tomato with green shoulders and sublime, rich flavor.
Jersey Giant: Large 6" long, pepper-shaped red tomato, paste-type tomato with good flavor and few seeds
Juliet: Small 1 – 2 oz red fruits that are the perfect flavor and shape for slicing onto pizza or salad.
Malachite Box: Large green-yellow fruit with chartreuse interior. Bright, fresh tomato flavor
Paul Robeson: Large, brick-red fruits with dark green shoulders.  Has a sweet, rich, smoky flavor.
Pantano Romanesco: A large, deep red Roman heirloom. The flesh is very rich, flavorful & juicy.
Redfield Beauty: 3”– 4” flat pink fruits with excellent, full flavor.
Speckled Roman: Long pointed fruits with red and yellow striped skin.  Meaty flesh with excellent flavor.
Weeping Charlie: Excellent tasting long, red tomato, similar to a paste tomato but sweeter and juicier.
White Queen (Beauty): Medium-sized, smooth white-skinned tomato with sweet, juicy flesh, low acid.

A little detail on your produce this week:
Mint: Best stored upright in a glass of water in the refrigerator. Can also be dried easily, just tie stems together and hang upside down in a cool dark place until leaves crumble easily. Excellent for adding to teas and pairs nicely in tomato recipes. We like to infuse fresh mint into a simple syrup (equal pts sugar and water) by boiling all together, then allow to cool for 30 min. Remove mint, strain to remove any bits and store resulting mint syrup in the fridge for adding to iced teas or making lemon or lime mint sodas.

Tomatoes: Always store tomatoes at room temperature unless you have sliced into them. Flat-topped tomatoes can be stored stem-end down to slow their ripening. To speed ripening, store unripe tomatoes in a paper bag (folded closed) with a fully ripe one and check progress frequently.

Shallots: A "high-brow" member of the onion family, shallots have a smooth, rich onion-y flavor that is perfect with egg, vegetable and salad dressing recipes. These shallots can be used at any time, but currently are not fully cured; please store them with the greens attached (if possible) and at room temperature with good air circulation until the greens are all dried down.  Just tie the tops together and hang them someplace out of the way (like a basement or "cool" garage). Once dried, they can be trimmed and stored like a cured onion or garlic (at room temp) for many months. Once you cut into a shallot, store the remainder in a sealed container in the fridge.

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)

Farmgirl Susan's Purple Basil Pesto
Makes about 1½ cups
This lower fat, reduced calorie pesto, which calls for less olive oil than most recipes, is bursting with freshly picked garden flavor. The tomatoes are a healthy way to replace some of the olive oil while adding a subtle new flavor.

When portioning out basil (and so many other ingredients), it works best if you weigh it rather than pack it into measuring cups.

Don't have any purple basil? Just use green instead!

1/2 cup (about 2½ ounces) roasted & salted whole almonds (or sunflower seeds)
3 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled (or shallots)
4 ounces fresh purple (or green) basil leaves (about 4 cups packed)
1 ounce (about 1/2 cup) finely grated Pecorino Romano (or other hard cheese)
10 ounces fresh tomatoes (about 3 smallish) any kind, quartered
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste

In the bowl of a food processor, use the S-blade to whiz the almonds and garlic until finely chopped.

Add the basil, cheese, tomatoes, and salt, and process until thoroughly combined and the consistency you like.

With the motor running running, slowly drizzle the olive oil through the chute. Add more salt to taste if desired. Store your pesto in the refrigerator for several days or freeze.

Recipe source:

Green Beans With Shallots And Goat Cheese
2 hand full of organic and local green beans
2 large cloves of garlic minced
4 large shallots sliced in rounds of half rounds
Organic goat cheese crumbles
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1.  Slice shallots and in a skillet on low to medium heat drizzle some olive oil, a dash of salt and your shallots.  You’re going to caramelize them so this requires attention, pretty consistent stirring and a close eye on the heat.  You want to bring out the sugars before they all burn.  It’s a slow process, but well worth it.  Do this until they are all browned.  Set aside.
2.  While I’m caramelizing my shallots, I set another larger skillet on the stove, around medium to high heat, add olive oil, the minced garlic and sautee them for a good 3 minutes.  Then add the green beans and mix them up a bit.  I sautee them all for about 5 minutes and then remove them from the pan.  Keep in mind I love my green beans crunchy, so they don’t cook much within the 5 minutes I have them on.  If you want a softer feel, leave them on longer.  Again, it’s up to you and what will feel and taste best for your palette
3.  You will have set the green beans aside a few minutes before you do your shallots.  This is good.  It will give your beans a short time to cool.  Once done, plate your beans, sprinkle the goat cheese crumbles over it and the top off with your shallots.  Salt and pepper to taste.
Side dish that easily serves 2
Recipe Source:

Purslane Pasta With Cherry Tomatoes
• 6 cups of cooked pasta.
• 3 cups of raw and fresh Purslane leaves
• 2 cups of cut in half cherry tomatoes
• ½ cup of green onion, minced (or shallots)

For Dressing
• Half cup of olive oil
• ¼ cup vinegar
• 1 clove of garlic (or shallot)
• pinch of salt
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon of honey
• 2/3 cup of parsley, chopped
• Prepare the dressing with all the above by whizzing all the above in a food processor or in a blender.

Procedure to be followed
• Add pasta, cherry tomatoes, Purslane and onions in a bowl
• Add the dressing and let it sit for whole night in a fridge.
• Very good to serve in cold.
Additionally you can add cheese, pepperoni or something else which you would prefer in your pasta to make it variable endlessly.

Based on a recipe from Prodigal Gardens
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