Thursday, August 2, 2012

BGF News 7/24/12

In this week’s box:
Chard: Bright Lights
Bell Peppers: Ace (green to red), Islander (purple to orange) or Golden Marconi (long, pointed, green to yellow)
Hot Peppers: Wenk's Yellow Hots (small cream to orange/red) & Georgia Flame (small, pointed green to red)
Onions: Gold Coin (cippolini-style)
Sorrel: French
Tomatoes, slicers
            and ONE of the following:
Eggplant: Orient Express (long, thin, purple) or Listada de Gandia (striped white & Purple), Summer Squash : Patty Pan, Broccoli: Packman, Cucumber: Suyo Long, Okra: Bowling Red,  Mini-Bell Pepper Mix (red, chocolate, green & yellow) or  Cherry Tomatoes mix

For those with the Egg option [full]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Basil: Genovese/Large Leaf, oregano & thyme
For those with the Honey option: 2 bottles of liquid honey (Spring honey-light amber) & (Fall honey (dark)

Featured Recipe(s) (see below):  Bhindi Masala
Fresh Garden Salsa
Fresh Tomato Sauce
Precipitation in the past week: 0.00 ”

What’s up on the farm? 

It's our annual Salsa Box (or sauce box if you prefer).
We have had no relief from the dry conditions in the past week. So though we continue to irrigate, we are starting to see increasing stress in many of the crops. The beans are the most notable victims, but we also lost the whole bed of napa cabbage this past week. It looks as though they just melted into the ground.  Things are starting to look pretty serious for a number of other crops. New sowings aren't germinating as the soil temps are too hot, and older crops are starting to give up in the heat. We hope to be able to continue to deliver bountiful boxes for the foreseeable future, but we want to be clear that conditions for crops other than tomatoes and basil aren't looking very good. If we don't start getting some rain and cooler temps, we may have to cancel some deliveries in the coming weeks. We don't anticipate that to happen next week though, we harvested a couple varieties of very nice potatoes today that will likely appear in your delivery next week, along with basil and newly cured garlic (and whatever else we can find to include in the boxes!)

We were able to start sowing seeds in flats for fall transplants, including cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and chard. These we wrapped with white plastic and put into a shady area. Three quarters of the seeds had germinated in 2 days (that is crazy fast!), the remainder came up in 4 days (still faster than normal). Now we just have to try to keep them adequately watered and cool until it is time to plant them in the gardens. Hopefully we will have some good rains before that time, or our productivity will continue to suffer. 

Honey Share: We found that we had a small amount of fall honey remaining after the winter so for those of you with the honey share, we decided to offer you the unusual opportunity to compare the colors and flavors of spring vs. fall honey. So this installation you will receive one bottle of each, which counts for 2 deliveries of honey.  We hope you enjoy comparing the difference between them. We find honey to be similar to beer in that light colored honeys are lighter in flavor, darker honeys are more robust. Some people find that they prefer one over the other for cooking vs fresh-use, so experiment a bit and let us know what you think. For the remaining 2 deliveries you will have your choice of liquid or comb honey.

Our friend Amy sent us a great looking fresh tomato sauce/salad recipe this week, you can check it out on her blog at

Finally, this coming week will be a rather crazy one at the farm. Early in the week we will be attending the funeral of Sean's dad, so you will likely see the faces of a couple of our farm crew at the Des Moines pick up. Then Friday is Sean's next surgery, so if you are looking for us at market on Sat, we likely won't be there. If you need to reach us this week, you can call Jill's cell at 641/203-1709 or send us an email, but don't be surprised if there is a delay in responding. We hope to be in recovery mode by the following week.

A little detail on your produce this week:
Hot Pepper-store in a loosely closed bag in the produce drawer. Note: The Georgia Flame peppers have very sweet flesh, but the seeds and membranes are fiery. So include them if you want the heat, exclude if you don't.
Onion- these are partly cured. To store, tie tops together and hang in a cool, dark place until all greens are brown and dry. Then they can be trimmed and stored like regular storage onions in a (cool, dark place with good circulation). Cippolini onions are mild flavored and can be stored in good conditions for 4-6 weeks, sometimes longer.
Sorrel-store in a closed plastic bag in the produce drawer, bright, lemony flavor that we like to add to salsa and pesto recipes
Mini Bells- These little miniature bell peppers are sweet and mild. They are perfect for adding little pepper rings to pizzas, pastas and egg dishes, not to mention stuffing with delightful things like goat cheese! Store in a plastic container in the fridge for a week or more

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)

BHINDI MASALA--South Indian Okra

Blanch 11/2 pound red or green okra in boiling water for 5 minutes. Cool briefly in ice water and wipe dry. With the point of a small sharp knife cut a slit in the side of each okra.
2Tbs. ground coriander
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin.

With a small spoon put about 1/4 tsp. of the spice mixture in each okra. You should have about a quarter of the mixture left. This much of the preparation can be done as much as 3 hours ahead; refrigerate okra until cooking time.
Just before serving, heat 2 tbs. each butter and shortening in a frying pan over medium heat; add the okra and stir-fry about 7 to 10 minutes adding the remaining spice mixture and more butter and shortening as needed. Spoon the okra into a warm serving dish.

Recipe Source: CSA membe r Mary CB-C

Fresh Garden Salsa
2 to 3 medium tomatoes, finely diced (or 10 to 12 mini tomatoes, what ever you have
½ cup white onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno, seeds removed (and set aside) and diced
½ cup red bell pepper, diced
1 TBS lime juice
1 TBS minced sorrel
1 TBS each of the following: chili powder, cumin, cilantro, oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine all of the ingredients. If you are a spicy kind of person, add leftover jalapeno seeds to add more of a kick.
2. Serve in your favorite way of eating salsa and ENJOY!

Recipe Source: adapted from

Fresh Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Chez Pim
Makes about 2 cups of sauce
2 lbs. fresh, ripe garden tomatoes
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, chopped; or none at all
1/4 c. olive oil, you can use less or barely any at all
salt to taste
1/2 Tbsp. of balsamic or sherry vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
Put a large pot of water on to heat.  With a sharp knife, make a cross mark at the bottom of each tomato.  When water is hot, add the tomatoes and let sit for just a minute or so, until you can see the skin come a little loose at the cross mark.  Remove the tomatoes from the hot water and give them a quick rinse in cold water.  (You can leave the hot water in the pot if you're going to make pasta to go with the sauce.  Add salt, bring to a boil.)  With a small knife, peel the skins from the tomatoes - they should slide right off.  With the tip of the knife, cut around each green crown and remove it.
Over a medium bowl, squeeze the tomatoes, crushing the pulp with your fingers to break it up into small chunks.
Add olive oil and garlic to a large skillet.  Heat over medium heat until garlic just starts to sizzle, then add tomatoes (keep the bowl handy) and a big pinch of salt.  Cook for a few minutes, until you can see the pulp breaking down and releasing the juices.  Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the chunks of pulp and put it back in the bowl, leaving the juices in the pan.
Continue cooking the juices until they thicken and are no longer watery.  Add the pulp back to the pan, as well as the vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper (and a little more vinegar if you think it needs it).
Recipe Source:
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