Wednesday, August 22, 2012

BGF News 8/14/12


In this week’s box:
Basil: Genovese or Italian Large Leaf
Fennel-bulb & greens
Purslane
Scallions (final for the season)
Sweet Peppers: Ace (green to red), Islander (purple to orange), Golden Marconi (long, green to red)
Tomatoes, slicers (see descriptions below)
            and perhaps ONE of the following:
Bean Mix: Empress & Carson, Eggplant: Orient Express (long, thin, purple), Broccoli: Packman, Okra: Bowling Red or Mini Bell Pepper Mix

For those with the Cheese option: Chive Chevre and Robiola di mia Nonna
For those with the Egg option [full and half]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Basil: Red Rubin, sorrel, parsley

Featured Recipe(s) (see below):  Fennel Egg Salad
Chicken with Fennel and Tomato
Purslane Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes
Mexican Purslane Stuffing
Precipitation in the past week: 0.5” (we are still very short on rain totals, but this did help!)

What’s up on the farm?

Most years as we get to the 10th/11th deliveries, I think holy cow, how can we be half way through the season already. This year has been a little different and as I filled in the delivery number, I thought, wow, how can we only be halfway through this season? That said, things do seem to be looking up. We have gotten a bit of rain and the break in temperatures has been simply amazing. We continue to clear and prep spent beds and sow seeds for fall crops. So far we have seeded: spinach, turnips, broccoli raab, kale, mustard, choi, arugula, head lettuce and salad mix. Yesterday's cool, overcast weather even prompted us to get the first round of fall transplants into the garden. Transplants have included: cabbage, Brussels sprouts and Chinese cabbage.

Some of our earlier, long-season crops that had been struggling have finally given up the fight, the zucchini and cukes are among these and while we still have a few late sown high tunnel cukes that are making an effort, I'm afraid they aren't going to amount to much. The patty pan squash have started blooming again, so we may seem some small production out of them yet this season, as long as we keep getting at least a little rain.

You will probably notice a slight decline in the number of tomatoes in your box this week. The plants are fine and still covered with green fruit, but you will recall a newsletter last month where we warned that because of high temps causing sterile pollen, there would be a break in tomato production down the road? Well, here we are. So don't be too alarmed, the tomatoes are fine and will pick back up again, they just took a little hot weather vacation.

As everyone knows this has been one heck of a crazy season, even without our personal "adventures". Weather, politics, the nightly news, it is a crazy world we live in. To add to the craziness here on the farm, we are seeing a number of perennial plants blooming out of season. Flowers that normally bloom in September/Oct. are now flushing with blooms, goldenrod, cup plant, sneezeweed, mums and asters are blooming. The asters are the most alarming, as the "old-timers" called them "frost-flower" and tradition said that the first frost would come a couple weeks after the first asters bloomed. I don't really think that we are due for an August frost, but it certainly is an indicator that we have had one weird run of weather and how knows what to expect for the fall & winter.

The Tall Farmer update: the short version of the story is that Sean was released from the hospital yesterday (Monday) and is tucked safely back on the farm in his own person hospital bed. Here's hoping that the fresh air, fresh food and plenty of rest will lead to a speedy and full recovery.

A little detail on your produce this week:
Fennel: Cut off the stalks where they emerge from the bulb. To use the feathery foliage as an herb, place the dry stalks upright in a glass filled with two inches of water, cover the glass loosely with a plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator for up to five days. The unwashed bulb will keep in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for at least a week. To use, remove any damaged spots or layers. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise and check the inner core. If it’s tough, remove it with a paring knife. Fennel should be washed carefully, because dirt can lodge between the layers of the bulb. Chop or mince the leaves.
Not much else new in the box this week.

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)

Fennel Egg Salad

6 large eggs (not too fresh or they will be hard to peel)
1/3 c. finely chopped fennel stalk
2-3 tbs. chopped fennel leaves
2-4 tbs. finely chopped sweet red onion (or scallions)
4 tbs. mayonnaise
1 ½ tbs. white wine vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Place eggs in saucepan and cover with cold water, Bring to boil. Turn off heat. Cover pan tightly and set timer for 9 minutes. When timer goes off, drain eggs and immerse them in ice water for 10-15 minutes. Peel and quarter eggs; place in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, 8-12 times. Add remaining ingredients; pulse until ingredients are well blended, 3-6 more times. Use as a sandwich filling, a spread for crackers, a cold sauce for chilled asparagus, or a garnish for tossed green salads. Makes 2 cups.

Recipe source: From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-fresh Seasonal Produce

Chicken with Fennel and Tomato
Serves 4 
              
6             plum tomatoes (about 1 pound), cored and cut in 3/4-inch pieces
2             fennel bulbs (10 to 12 ounces each), halved, cored, and thinly sliced crosswise, fronds reserved
½   cup dry white wine
 Coarse salt and ground pepper
 4           boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 8 ounces each)

 In a large, deep skillet, combine tomatoes, fennel, and wine; season with salt and pepper. Arrange chicken breasts in a single layer on top of vegetables, allowing as much space between pieces as possible; season with salt and pepper.

Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover skillet, and simmer gently until chicken is opaque throughout, 15 to 20 minutes.

Slice chicken breasts, and serve on top of vegetable mixture; garnish with reserved fennel fronds.

Per serving: 323 calories; 3.2 grams fat; 54.7 grams protein; 12.4 grams carbohydrates; 4.7 grams fiber
Recipe Source: unknown
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
• ¼th cup vinegar (better try your favorite herbal vinegars )
• 1 clove of garlic
• pinch of salt
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon of honey
• 2/3 cup of wild green, sorrel or parsley ( fresh and 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

MEXICAN PURSLANE STUFFING
This is a home-type dish that is as simple to prepare as "scrambled eggs with..." but much more nutritious. Serve as a side dish, a brunch main dish or as a filling in tortillas and pitas.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium-size ripe tomato, chopped (not skinned)
1 hot pepper, finely chopped, or freshly cracked black pepper, according to taste
2 to 3 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 egg beaten
Set aside a few raw springs of purslane for garnish. Steam or blanch the rest until tender-crisp (three to five minutes). Drain thoroughly, transfer to a plate covered with several layers of paper towels and blot dry.
In a large pan, saute garlic and onion in vegetable oil until soft. Add tomato and chile, and saute until the mixture becomes sauce-like. Season with soy sauce. (If you aren't using the chile, add freshly ground black pepper.) Saute until mixture is warm and the flavors marry.
When ready to serve, add the beaten egg to the warm mixture in the pan and mix gently. The egg will bind the mixture loosely but should not harden into scrambled eggs. Garnish plate servings with reserved sprigs.
YIELD: 4 servings

Recipe Source: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/98promotions/april/recipes.html
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