Monday, September 2, 2013

BGF News 8/6/2013

Volume XXI, Number 10    August 6, 2013

In this week’s box:
Basil: Genovese and/or Thai Magic (purple blooms)
Beans: Carson (yellow) or Mix
Chard (a little uglier than we prefer, but the bugs LOVE this warm, dry weather)
Cipollini Onions
Cucumbers: Suyo Long (Asian-style, long & bumpy) or Diva (English-style, torpedo-shaped, smooth)
Sweet Peppers: Ace (green to red), Golden Marconi (long, pointed, green to yellow), Islander (purple to orange)
Tomatoes: asst, see descriptions in the 7/30 newsletter
and possibly one of the following:                     
            Broccoli florets
            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.)
            Melon: Cream of Saskatchewan
            Okra: Burgundy
            Summer Squash: Patty Pan (round, flattened), 8 Ball (round, green) or Yellow (bumpy, pear-shaped)
For those with the Egg option [full]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: basil: lemon, savory, anise hyssop
For those with the Honey option: jar of liquid honey

Featured Recipe(s) (see below): Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad
Giant Crusty and Creamy White Beans with Greens

Precipitation in the past week: 0.00" (now hiring experienced rain dancers!)

What’s up on the farm?

Here it is, August already (though it hardly feels like it) and we are half-way through the 2013 Summer CSA. I'm always amazed when we get to this point that the summer has gone so fast and the Back to School sales are in full swing.  This has been a season of extremes, wet now dry, hot now cool and we are seeing the results of those swings in the gardens. For the most part, the crops continue to do pretty well, but we are dumping thousands of gallons of water (drip by drip) on them to keep them going. At the same time we are fighting to keep up with the weeds. This dry period has pushed the annual weeds to go to seed with a vengeance in order to "continue their species." For every seed head we neglect to weed, it means hundreds of potential weed plants next year, it is a daunting vision! So weed and weed and weed we do! As our friends at Genuine Faux Farm say, "Oui, we weed!"

Beyond the weeding, we are harvesting, pruning tomatoes, clearing, composting and tilling spent beds and continuing to sow seeds and plant transplants for fall crops. This past week we got arugula, choi and broccoli raab seeds sown and baby head lettuce starts transplanted. Now we just have to keep them wet enough to get going, which is a challenge when all the surrounding soil is so dry.

This week marks the one year anniversary of Sean being cancer free!  We continue to be grateful to all our friends and members whose support and patience last year was invaluable. 

Honey Option members are receiving their second of four deliveries today.  This delivery was unannounced and you didn't get a choice this time between liquid or comb honey as we currently don't have any comb packages prepared.   We will be harvesting more honey in the next couple of weeks and should have a stock of comb for future deliveries.  You will find that today's honey is darker then last time.  Why? - Sean discovered a full honey super on one of our hives that we neglected to harvest last fall.  The bees made this honey late last summer when the blooms give a darker nectar, hence the honey is darker.  You'll find the flavor richer and more complex. 

FYI:  all honey eventually becomes opaque as it crystallizes.  Today’s bottle is a bit cloudy and if you keep it a cool place it crystallizes sooner.  We like to use crystallized honey as it spreads with much less mess.  However, to reverse crystallization the honey needs slow and low heat such as a very sunny windowsill, a closed up car in the sun, or in a pot of hot water on the stove (DO NOT put the glass jar directly on the pot bottom – use a rack or something to elevate bottle).  We are happy to take back your empty jars when you are finished with them.

Finally, we've had a few questions about the tomatoes and when we will be putting more of them into the boxes and the answer is, soon, we hope! The problem is the beautiful weather that we've all been enjoying. Tomatoes (and peppers) need really warm temps to ripen. This unseasonable cool weather, especially the delightful nighttime temps tell the plants to slow down and wait…so they do. The plants are healthy, and loaded with fruit, but it just isn't ripening very quickly. So they are coming, and we are waiting. We will continue to send them our in boxes as they ripen, but it could be a couple of weeks before we have them in greater quantities.

A little detail on your produce this week:
Not much new this week, as far as vegetables you haven't seen. The onions are a variety you may not be familiar with. They are an Italian onion, mild and sweet that cook up sweet, rich and mellow, perfect for shish kabobs, grilling or roasting. They are not completely cured down yet, so use them this week, or hang until dry for longer storage.

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)

Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad
Adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables
Serves 6
1 pound green beans, though if you can find a mix of green and yellow beans, it will be all the prettier
1 pound cherry tomatoes
1 large shallot
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Basil or other herb (optional)
Prepare the vegetables: Top and tail the beans and cut them into large segments. Parboil the beans in salted water until just tender, about four to five minutes. Drain and immediately spread them out to cool. Stem the cherry tomatoes and cut them in half.
Make the vinaigrette: Peel and mince the shallot and put it in a bowl with the vinegar and salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Taste and adjust the balance with more vinegar, oil, or salt, as needed. Toss the cherry tomatoes in with the vinaigrette; this can sit for a while. Do not add the green beans until just before serving or they will discolor from the acid in the vinaigrette. For variety, the salad can be garnished with basil or some other fresh herb such as parsley, chervil or hyssop.
Do ahead: Beans and vegetables can be prepared ahead of time. Simply toss with the dressing only at the last minute, as it can discolor the green beans after several hours.
Recipe Source:

Giant Crusty and Creamy White Beans with Greens
Adapted from Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson
½ pound medium or large dried white beans, cooked
3 tablespoons olive oil or clarified butter
Fine grained sea salt
1 onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ baby chard, washed and roughly chopped, or 1 bunch kale, cut into wide ribbons
Fresh ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Freshly grated parmesan for topping
Drain the beans, and then heat the oil or butter over med-high heat in the widest skillet available. Add the beans to the hot pan in a single layer. If you don’t have a big enough skillet, just do the sauté stop in two batches or save the extra beans for another use. Stir to coat the beans with the oil/butter, and then let them sit long enough to brown on one side, about 3 or 4 minutes, before turning to brown the other side, also about 3 or 4 minutes. The beans should be golden and a bit crunchy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. Salt to taste, then add the onion and garlic and cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until the onion softens. Stir in the greens and cook until just beginning to wilt. Remove from the heat and season to taste with a generous does of salt and pepper. Drizzle with a bit of top-quality extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan. Serves 6-8 as a side dish.
Recipe Source:

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