Thursday, June 20, 2013

BGF News 6/4/2013

Volume XXI, Number 1    June 4, 2013

In this week’s box:
Pac Choi: “Win-Win”
Radishes: Easter Egg & Cherryette (pink, red, purple and white, round roots with leafy tops)
Tapestry Salad Mix
and one of the following:
*Snow Peas (1st group in alphabetical order)
*Spinach (2nd group)
*Asparagus (3rd group)
For those with the Cheese option: (Seasonal flavor special!) Chive Blossom Feta & Chive Blossom Chevre
For those with the Egg option [full & half]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Herb share will begin in a couple of weeks as herbs mature
For those with the Honey option: We are on the bees' schedule, deliveries will likely start in July

Featured Recipes (see below):  Traditional Chinese Pac Choi
Sorrel Egg Salad

Precipitation since the last newsletter:  4.5”

What’s up on the farm?

Welcome to the first delivery of the 2013 season and the start of weekly newsletters!  The CSA boxes are a little light at this time of the season and you will notice the abundance of greensand not quite as much variety as we like.  This is part of the joy of eating fresh, seasonal foods.  As the season continues the weight and variety of the contents will increase with the arrival of heavier crops including beans, tomatoes, potatoes and squash.  One thing that does remain somewhat consistent is the presence of some cosmetic damage caused by our local insects.  This is another of the indications that we are truly a chemical-free farm.  We try to keep the insect population under control, but they are simply a fact of life in a naturally grown system.  We hope you can overlook some minor leaf damage and we will do our best to keep it to a minimum.  Also we do our best to provide you with clean produce, but you may find a little dirt here and there or, yikes, possibly an insect.  We do wash the produce and sort it to the best of our ability, but we are processing a significant volume and it is possible that at some point you will find a little “nature” in your box.  If and when it happens to you, we apologize ahead of time and hope you will forgive the oversight.  Remember, while we do clean the produce, it is always good practice to wash your vegetables before using.

A big thank you to our pick-up site hosts: Ritual Café in Des Moines and The Next Chapter in Knoxville.  Over the course of the season please consider supporting these independent, local businesses.

It has been a busy couple of weeks on the farm. The excess of rain has certainly kept us from making the progress we would like in the fields but we are making headway regardless. The high tunnels (HT's) have been mostly been stripped of their early crops and the warm-season crops (tomatoes, peppers, basil, eggplant, cukes) now rein there. The crops planted & seeded earlier in the fields are mostly up and doing fairly well despite the excess moisture. The snap and snow peas are both doing extremely well, easily the best crop of those we've ever had. They are a little behind the HT crop that is producing peas now, but those in the field are growing and blooming and looking quite promising, so we are hopeful for a bounty of peas in the not-to-distant future. We are mostly caught up on our seed sowing/direct seeding chores but are definitely a week (or two) behind in transplanting warm-season crops in the fields. We were able to get all of the eggplant and sweet peppers in the ground yesterday, but hot peppers, tomatoes, winter squash, melons and sweet potatoes are all still on the "to-do" list and the current rainy forecast isn't going to help us make progress on those in the next couple of days.

All in all things are looking very lush and green here at the farm. We are a little behind, but things are looking promising as the season moves ahead. We hope you enjoy this first, albeit small, delivery and are looking forward to this season as much as we are.

A little detail on your produce this week:
There might be a few unfamiliar items in your box this week, especially if you are new to the CSA.  Most people know what peas are, but maybe not the types that we are growing.  We have snow peas (flat pod with little bumps showing immature peas inside) and sugar snap peas (rounded pods with mature peas inside).  Both have edible pods and can be used interchangeably in recipes.  They are particularly good in stir-fries and salads, though we tend to eat them fresh as a snack.  Peas keep best in their plastic bag in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.

Scallions: (green onions) are best kept upright in a glass with about 1" of water in it, more like flowers than vegetables. Loosely cover the tops with plastic and you will be amazed at how long they will keep. We like to throw a handful of chopped scallions into nearly any savory dish, right near the end of the cooking time.

Asparagus: it was a strange year for asparagus, as the sudden cold and snow gave it quite the shock at the start of the month. It is trying to be finished for the season, but we will continue to harvest it as long as possible and hope to get it to everyone before it is done. Asparagus stores best like scallions, upright, in the refrigerator in a glass of water. A loose plastic bag or wrap will help keep in moisture. Our favorite cooking method is simply tossing with olive oil and grilling or broiling for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, sprinkle with lemon juice & sea salt and eat like finger food!

Pac Choi (a.k.a. - bok choy or pok choy) is the large, structural-looking vegetable.  It is a member of the cabbage family and is a traditional Asian stir-fry vegetable.  Both the stems and leaves of choi can be used and are especially tasty in cooked recipes.  If cooking them, separate the leaves and stems, and begin cooking stems first to avoid overcooking the more tender greens. You can also use the leaves like any green-leafy vegetable and the stems like celery.  We tend to use choi leaves as a sandwich wrap, or just roughly chop the whole thing and sauté with garlic and/or onion.  Cook until stems are tender and dress with a little seasoned rice vinegar. Store choi loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in your produce drawer.

Radishes keep best if separated from their greens.  Greens are stored in a plastic bag and can be cooked like mustard or collard greens.  Trimmed roots can go into a lidded container or zip-close bag.

Sorrel is a wonderful green, mostly used as an herb and is much more common in Europe than here. It has a bright, lemony flavor and is delicious minced and added to egg, chicken or tuna salad and we rarely make pesto or quiche without tossing some in. The most common use in Europe is probably sorrel soup, a cream-based potato soup with sorrel.

A few other details: Your greens will keep best if stored in a plastic bag, with the top folded over and placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.  For those of you who are new to our salad mix, yes you can eat the flowers. 

* You will notice that some of the box contents listed above say something about the first group, second group, ect.  These are items that we can’t harvest in sufficient quantities for the whole CSA to receive at one time.  We do track who gets what and we will do our best to ensure that everyone eventually receives each item.  On some items this may take several weeks, so please be patient.

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  Follow us at our blog at and on Facebook (just search Blue Gate Farm) and “Like” us.

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)

Traditional Chinese Pac Choi
1 lb Pac Choi, cut into 2” pieces                                                           Dressing
1 green onion, sliced the whole length, then cut 1” pieces                       1 T. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil                                                                                   ½ tsp. sugar
2 T. cooking oil             
Heat oil.  Add onion and cook until limp (1-2 min.).  Add Choi.  Quickly stir it around in pan.  Reduce heat to medium.  Cover and cook about 2 min. just until thoroughly hot.  (It should be crunchy.) 
 Mix the soy sauce mixed with sugar.  Season the hot vegetables with this sauce.
Recipe Source: Turtle Farm CSA

Sorrel Egg Salad

6 large eggs (not too fresh or they will be hard to peel)
1-2 TBS finely minced sorrel
2-4 tbs. finely chopped sweet red onion
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; chop by hand or 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: unknown
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