Monday, September 2, 2013

BGF News 8/27/2013

Volume XXI, Number 13    August 27, 2013

In this week’s box:
Beans: mix or Maxibel (green, filet-type)
Beets: Chioggia &/or Golden
Chard (Swiss Cheese-type)
Cherry Tomatoes (Golden Rave & Juliet, possibly Blondkopfchen & Black Cherry)
Eggplant: Orient Express (long, thin, dark purple), Listada (purple/white striped), Ping Tung (neon                                  purple) and/or Rosa Bianca (rounded, purple, fading to white at the top.)
Hot Peppers: Wenk's Yellow Hots (lt yellow to bright orange) and/pr Georgia Flame (dark red)
Shallots: Ambition (tan) and/or Prisma (purple)
Sweet Peppers: Ace (green to red), Golden Marconi (long, pointed, green to yellow), Islander (purple to orange)
Tomatoes: asst varieties, see descriptions in the 7/30 newsletter
and perhaps one of the following:         
            Broccoli florets
            Cucumbers: Suyo Long (Asian-style, long & bumpy) or Diva (English-style, torpedo-shaped, smooth)
            Okra: Burgundy           
            Summer Squash: Sebring (yellow zucchini),Yellow (bumpy, pear-shaped) or 8-Ball (small, round,                      green)

For those with the Cheese option: feta & chevre (Cheesemaker's Choice flavors)
For those with the Egg option [full & half]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: sweet basil, tarragon & bronze fennel

 Featured Recipe(s) (see below): Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
Roasted Beet and Barley Salad

Precipitation in the past week: 0.00”  (thanking our lucky stars for irrigation!)

What’s up on the farm?


It isn't often that the biggest focus on the farm is also the featured story on the news, but this week we are all about the heat and the drought. We are doing our best to keep crops, creatures and crews all adequately hydrated, but it is a challenge. All of those nice little new crops coming up are all cool-loving plants and they are not at all amused by these temps. We will see how many of them survive the coming week and what re-sowing is required. Our best ally right now is the nighttime temps which remain cool enough to be helpful, but we are certainly all looking forward to more seasonable days as well. We are shifting the crew's work schedule an hour earlier, to try and beat as much of the heat as possible and the animals are getting additional waterers and as much shade as we can provide. Other than that, all we can do is keep running the irrigation and hunker down until it passes. As Jill's dad likes to say, "One thing is for certain, the weather will change."
We are hoping that another thing that changes is the insect pressure in the large high tunnel, there has been an explosion of chard-eating critters in there, so we salvaged what we could for today's delivery and we are going in with a mission to remedy the problem tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy our new featured product, Swiss-cheese chard ;)

In the meantime, the melons are mostly done for the season and the cucumbers are showing the same signs, both brought down by the scourge of the organic gardener, the cucumber beetle. The edamame bed is cleared and will soon host head lettuce. Last week's cleared onion bed is now home to the Brussels Sprouts and we also sowed radishes and re-sowed some daikon and arugula that was slow to germinate. So crops are coming and others are going and we are ALL waiting for the rain!

On a side note, this past week was our most recent Gang of 4 work day, this time at Grinnell Heritage farm and Jill made a big batch of Mezair (cutting board salsa) to take along. It was a big hit and we were reminded how much we like it again. So this is a reminder that if you haven't already, make a point to try this quick and easy fresh salsa while the tomatoes are still full of flavor and bountiful! Recipe in the August 13th newsletter


A little detail on your produce this week:

Really nothing new this week, but the shallots are now fully cured, so store like you would onions and enjoy for the next several months.

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)

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
This is "THE" tomato sauce recipe. At the height of tomato season, use any assortment of your favorite meaty tomatoes. During the rest of the year, use a 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes in place of the fresh ones. This sauce freezes beautifully, so make extra!

2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes (meaty varieties are best)
5 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
To blanch the tomatoes, cut a small x in the end opposite the stem.
Punge the tomatoes in boiling water just until you see the skin start coming off (it will take less than one minute). Remove the tomatoes and plunge them in ice water to stop the cooking. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, peel the skins off, remove the cores and seeds and cut them up into coarse pieces.
Put the prepared tomatoes into a saucepan, add the butter, onion, and salt, and cook uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer for 45 minutes, or until the fat floats free from the tomato..
Stir from time to time, mash any large piece of tomato in the pan with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and correct for salt. Remove the onion before tossing the sauce with pasta. (But don’t throw it away – enjoy the sweet, soft onion deliciousness on bread! )
Recipe Source:, based on the original recipe from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

serves 4 to 6
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1 large bell pepper, deseeded and sliced thinly
3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juices (or 2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes (meaty     varieties are best)
salt and pepper to taste
1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups crumbled feta
6 large eggs
cilantro (parsley or basil is good too), hot sauce, pita bread (or any bread really), for serving
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and bell peppers and tomatoes, cook until very soft, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so until fragrant, then stir in the spices. Season with salt and pepper, and let simmer for about 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Stir in the feta cheese.
Gently crack in the eggs evenly around the pan over the sauce. Top them with a little more salt and pepper, then simmer until the eggs are just set, about 10 minutes. Serve with lots of pita bread to mop up the sauce.
Recipe Source: adapted from Melissa Clark for the New York Times

Roasted Beet and Barley Salad
This salad takes a bit of time to prepare, but it keeps pretty well. It will get dry over the course of time. Be prepared to add more lemon or olive oil or even yogurt on day 2 and 3.
4 medium or 6-8 small beets, scrubbed
1 c pearled barley, rinsed
4 oz goat cheese, divided
1/4 c. shallots, minced
1 bunch swiss chard (and/or beet greens), cut into thin ribbons (including stems)
Juice from 1-2 lemons
2 T olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
  • Heat oven to 400ºF
  • Cut the roots and tops off your beets. Place them on aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap them in the foil, forming steam-proof packets and bake for ~45 min to 1 hr, or until tender when stabbed with a fork
  • While the beets bake, boil the barley
  • In a small saucepan, bring 2 1/2 c  salted water to a boil. Add the rinsed barley, reduce the heat and simmer until the barley is tender and has absorbed the water, ~40 min
  • At the same time, saute shallots in olive oil until fragrant, add chard and saute until wilted, remove from heat.
  • Move the barley to a large bowl, add chard and, while warm, add 2 oz crumbled goat cheese, stirring to distribute and melt
  • After the beets are just cool enough to touch, peel them (the skin will rub off easily) and chop into bite-sized pieces
  • Add the chopped beets, lemon juice, and olive oil to the barley mixture
  • Allow to cool a little, then season with salt and pepper and stir in the remaining 2 oz of crumbled goat cheese
If you have colored bell peppers (not green) they are lovely chopped and added to the salad with the beets.
Recipe source: a BGF amalgamation of online recipes
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