Sunday, September 8, 2013

BGF News 9/3/2013

Volume XXI, Number 14

In this week’s box:
Basil: Genovese and/or Large Leaf
Beans: Mix (green & yellow)
Greens: Collards/Mustard Mix or Kale Mix
Eggplant: Orient Express (long, thin, dark purple), Listada (purple/white striped), Ping Tung (neon                                  purple) and/or Rosa Bianca (rounded, purple, fading to white)
Sweet Peppers: Ace (green/red), Golden Marconi (long, pointed, green/yellow), Islander (purple/orange) or      Sunray (green/yellow)
Tomatoes: asst, 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
            Specialty Beans: Maxibel (green filet) or Marvel of Venice (yellow, Romano/flat)          
            Summer Squash: 8 Ball (round, green) or Sebring (yellow zucchini)
For those with the Egg option [full]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Thai Magic basil, thyme, parsley

Featured Recipe(s) (see below): Ratatouille’s Ratatouille
Crispy Kale
Roasted Baby Eggplant Halves with Herbs

Precipitation in the past week: 0.08" (we're starting to get rather desperate, but still hopeful) 

What’s up on the farm?

Well this week is certainly an improvement over last, cooler temps and a tiny fall of rain will certainly help everyone/thing here on the farm. The crew was on early starts all last week, trying to beat the worst temps of the day and we tried to stay away from the most physical tasks, but still, it was challenging to get much accomplished amid shade and water breaks. We aren't very excited to see 90's back in the forecast for later this week, but we are holding out hope that it will cool back down and rain again eventually.
We have been witnessing an interesting drought indicator here in the gardens. Everyday when we turn on the various irrigation lines, we get our own small version of "Dancing Waters" in Las Vegas. If you've never been, these are the "animated" water jets that are choreographed to music. Here, there is no music, and to call it choreographed might be overstating it but with each additional day without rain, the tiny (and not so tiny) fountains that shoot up to spray into the air are increasing. With their natural water sources dwindling (or gone) all the nasty little furrys that live in and around the gardens can smell the water in the irrigation lines and will bite through the plastic to make their own little drinking fountains. Isn't that cute? Grrrrrr! Can't say that I blame them, ok, I blame them, but I do understand their situation but it sure isn't helping my mood to imagine I hear Celine Dion singing the Titanic theme song every time I turn on the irrigation!

We do have one "furry" that we are rather excited about. With the new popularity of urban chickens, there are often some unfortunate discoveries of a new chick that starts crowing as it grows up. Most municipalities frown on backyard roosters and such was the case for our niece & nephew's new chickens. So we were able to offer "Farm Camp" to Darth Vader a little black silkie rooster. If you've never seen one, they look less like a chicken and more like a teddy bear. You can see a very similar bird here: black silkie He's pretty darn cute, so far he's hanging out with a few of our broody ladies, but before long we'll see how he does in the big pasture with the rest of the flock.

It looks like this week will bring the end of the cucumbers. They had a good run this year but the vines are nearly dead and we will go ahead and clear them our of the high tunnels this week to make space for fall crops. It will take longer than usual as our large settlement of Golden Orb Weaver spiders is mostly in the large tunnel cukes, so we will likely need to try a little relocation plan before the vines go out to the compost pile.  The tomatoes definitely took a break due to the high temps. There are still plenty of fruit on the vines, but not much happened with ripening last week, so you will notice a smaller number of tomatoes in your boxes this week. We hope to see another increase in the weeks ahead.

We will need to do some re-sowing this week of fall crops that just couldn't stand the heat, but others seem to be doing ok. The kale is doing well enough to start harvesting a bit for today's delivery and it looks like arugula will be returning to the boxes soon as well.

Upcoming events: Just a heads up that Farm Crawl is only a month away (10/6). If you haven't attended this free, 8-farm open house in our area, you should check it out. Details can be found at

A little detail on your produce this week:
Asst. Greens- (Collards/Senposai/Calaloo or Kale Mix) just like chard, store these leafy greens is a plastic bag in your produce drawer.
Romano Beans- also known as 'Italian string beans' or 'Italian pole beans' or 'Italian flat beans'. They're broader than "every day green beans" and have flat pods. They cook in a flash. And they're more tender, more velvety, more green-tasting, more alive-tasting than other beans. Store like other green beans.

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)

Ratatouille’s Ratatouille
As envisioned by Smitten Kitchen
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1 cup tomato puree (such as Pomi)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small eggplant (my store sells these “Italian Eggplant” that are less than half the size of regular ones; it worked perfectly)
1 smallish zucchini
1 smallish yellow squash
1 longish red bell pepper
Few sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
Few tablespoons soft goat cheese, for serving
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Pour tomato puree into bottom of an oval baking dish, approximately 10 inches across the long way. Drop the sliced garlic cloves and chopped onion into the sauce, stir in one tablespoon of the olive oil and season the sauce generously with salt and pepper.
Trim the ends off the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. As carefully as you can, trim the ends off the red pepper and remove the core, leaving the edges intact, like a tube.
On a mandoline, adjustable-blade slicer or with a very sharp knife, cut the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red pepper into very thin slices, approximately 1/16-inch thick.
Atop the tomato sauce, arrange slices of prepared vegetables concentrically from the outer edge to the inside of the baking dish, overlapping so just a smidgen of each flat surface is visible, alternating vegetables. You may have a handful leftover that do not fit.
Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season them generously with salt and pepper. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprigs with your fingertips, running them down the stem. Sprinkle the fresh thyme over the dish.
Cover dish with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside. (Tricky, I know, but the hardest thing about this.)
Bake for approximately 45 to 55 minutes, until vegetables have released their liquid and are clearly cooked, but with some structure left so they are not totally limp. They should not be brown at the edges, and you should see that the tomato sauce is bubbling up around them.
Serve with a dab of soft goat cheese on top, alone, or with some crusty French bread, atop polenta, couscous, or your choice of grain.
Recipe Source:

Crispy Kale Recipe

The biggest secret to getting the kale super-crisp is to dry them in a salad spinner. If there is moisture on the leaves, the kale will steam, not crisp. Also, do not salt the kale until after they have come out of the oven. If you salt beforehand, the salt will just cause the kale to release moisture…thus steaming instead of crisping. Have fun with this recipe, I sometimes mix the salt with Cajun or Creole seasoning.
4 giant handfuls of kale or other hearty greens, torn into bite-sized pieces and tough stems removed (about 1/3 pound)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt or kosher salt
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place the kale leaves into a salad spinner and spin all of the water out of the kale. Dump the water and repeat one or two times more just to make sure that the kale is extra dizzy and dry. Use a towel to blot any extra water on the leaves. Place the kale on the baking sheet.
3. Drizzle olive oil over the kale leaves and use your hands to toss and coat the leaves. Bake in the oven for 12-20 minutes until leaves are crisp. Take a peek at the 12 minute mark – the timing all depends on how much olive oil you use. Just use a spatula or tongs to touch the leaves, if they are paper-thin crackly, the kale is done. If the leaves are still a bit soft, leave them in for another 2 minutes. Do not let the leaves turn brown (they’ll be burnt and bitter) Remove from oven, sprinkle with salt and serve.
Recipe Source:

Roasted Baby Eggplant Halves with Herbs
Serves 2 (easily multiplied)

1 baby eggplant, sliced in half lengthwise

Fresh herbs - I used (no parsley!), rosemary, sage, thyme, about a tablespoon per half
Garlic - 1 clove per half
Good olive oil (yes, I used the really good olive oil)

Preheat oven to 450F. Cross-hatch the flesh of the eggplant with a sharp knife but do not pierce the skin. Whiz the herbs, garlic, salt and olive oil in a mini food processor and then press the paste into the grooves. Drizzle with oil. Place in baking dish and put into hot oven for about 30 minutes or until soft.

Recipe Source:
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