Thursday, January 23, 2014

BGF News 11/5/2013

In this week’s box:
Broccoli: Pacman
Chard: Bright Lights Mix
Daikon (long, single white root with green leafy top)
Fingerling Potatoes: Banana
Mini cabbages: Gonzalez &/or Super Red
Spinach Mix (open top bag)
Sweet Onions: Ailsa Craig
Sweet Peppers: Ace (green/red), Golden Marconi (long, pointed, green/yellow), Islander (purple/orange) or      Sunray (green/yellow)
Tapestry Salad Mix (zip-top bag)
Turnips: Hakurei (white) & Scarlet Queen (pink) (round, pink & white roots with green leafy tops)
Winter Squash: Butternut
For those with the Egg option [full]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Preserves option: first delivery on 11/19

Featured Recipe(s) (see below): Roasted Broccoli with Lemon & Pecorino
Easy Daikon Salad
Turnips Sauteed with Garlic and Onion

Precipitation in the past two weeks: 1.05"

What’s up on the farm?

Welcome to the first delivery of the 2013 Winter CSA season!  We hope you are looking forward to bountiful fresh, chemical-free produce for the next two months.  Just a reminder that the Winter CSA delivers every other week, so if you show up next week, you might be able to enjoy a nice cup of coffee or a good book, but we won’t be there. We will return with the next delivery on 11/19, please remember to bring your empty box along with you at that time so we can re-fill it for you for the December deliveries.

We have been celebrating the mild fall that nature has been sharing with us, not to mention the lovely rains of the past month.  It seems like we have more produce available now than we have had all year and we are putting as much as we can into your boxes this week, because you never know when this lovely weather trend will end.  I heard the word snow in the forecast for later this week, we like snow, but aren't necessarily ready for it now. Regardless, we have been celebrating the fine weather by getting a good start on our chores for the winter.  Tools and supplies are cleaned and put away, including the extensive irrigation system that we used so heavily this summer. We haven't yet started up the wood-fired boiler, which provides heat to the sunroom (our plant nursery) and supplemental heat to the house, but that will happen soon enough. So, too will begin the winter-long activity of wood-cutting, which is our primary source of winter exercise. We really prefer to wait until colder weather for that to begin.  The high tunnel crops are coming along well and we continue to do maintenance/care on those, as well as minor care of the field crops that are still going strong. Truly, at this time of year, our biggest challenge is keeping the 70' - 150' pieces of row cover fabric on the field crops and not tearing off or bludgeoning the vegetables in the brisk fall winds.

One of our most important fall tasks is the planting of the garlic!  We have gotten about 110 lbs of seed garlic planted so far. We ran a little shorter than we planned with our seed saving, so we added a new variety from a farm in New Mexico to try out for next year. Hopefully we will have good success with this variety and we look forward to sharing it with our members in the future. As soon as we finish planting this new variety, we will mulch the whole lot with straw and wait for the spring.

There has been much other excitement around the farm as we retired our oldest flock of laying hens to "freezer camp" on the same day that 120 new girls came to the farm as their replacements.  The new birds are just at six moths old - referred to as a "pullet" at this age - and were raised for us by an Amish farmer in Pulaski, IA (inches from the Missouri border).  Many haven't started to lay eggs yet but those that have are laying smaller eggs for the moment.  For those with the egg option you will discover one pullet egg in each dozen.  The larger eggs come from our slightly older flock (not the oldest ones sent to freezer camp).

However the biggest news on the farm has been the arrival of a breeding pair of alpacas. Boris & Abby came from friends near Perry that are retiring from the critter business. They are lovely, peaceful animals who mostly graze, soak up the late fall sun and keep us entertained with their unique noises. Come spring they will provide wonderful fiber for Jill's handspun yarns and some summer they may also provide us with a cria (baby alpaca), not to mention the added fertility that they will add to the compost piles. You can see photos of the new arrivals on the farm's Facebook page.

All that said, things have certainly started to slow down for the year. With the end of Daylight Savings Time, evening chores are done by 5pm. The winter tradition of attending farming conferences has begun, the farm crew is getting some days off and more household chores are being attended to. It has been quite a year here at BGF and I guess we are all ready for things to start to wind down. It is that time of year.

Upcoming events:
Downtown Des Moines Harvest Market (indoors at Capitol Square) 11/22-23 and 12/13-14.
A great opportunity to stock up on fresh produce, gifts and supplies for the holiday season. We'll be on the ground floor near the Nolan Plaza exit, stop by and say hello!

A little detail on your produce this week:
Broccoli-Wrap loosely in a plastic bag and keep it in the produce drawer of your refrigerator for up to a week. Immediately before cooking, soak broccoli, head down, in cold, salted water (1 teaspoon salt to a 8 cups of water) for 5 minutes. Any [organic] critters will float to the top where you can rescue them or allow them to suffer a salty death. (Note: If you soak broccoli in salt water before storing, it will become too rubbery and wilted to enjoy.) Slice the juicy, edible stems and use them wherever florets are called for. Peel particularly thick skin before using.

Daikon- a large member of the radish family, popular in many Asian cuisines. Store like you would smaller radishes, remove the greens and wrap in plastic in your produce drawer. Daikon can store for several weeks, but is best used in a week or two. Delicious sliced or grated and added to salads, soups or just enjoyed as a low calorie, high fiber snack with hummus or other dips. The greens can be stored in a separate bag and once separated from their tough stems, can be cooked just like any other green, leafy vegetable. We like them added to soups or egg dishes.

Leafy Greens (chard, kale, braising greens, spinach, ect) - Store in a plastic bag in the produce drawer for up to two weeks.

Potatoes, Winter Squash, Onions & Garlic- store on the counter for short-term use. For longer storage, keep in a cool, dark place with good air circulation (garages and basements can be a good choice).

Mini cabbage- just a dainty version of the larger cabbages. Very tender and sweet. Wrap in plastic and store in the produce drawer. Enjoy as you would any cabbage, but we particularly like them "leafed out" (pulled apart into their individual leaves) and then either spread with peanut butter and rolled up for a quick energy snack or even better, sauteed in butter until slightly wilted, then sprinkled with a touch of sea salt. YUM!

Turnips- Separate roots from tops. Store each in a plastic bag in the produce drawer. Roots will keep for a month or more and are delicious just sliced raw, but also tasty roasted, mashed or cubed and added to soups. Leaves are a tasty cooked green.

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)

Roasted Broccoli with Lemon & Pecorino
Serves 4

1 ½ lb broccoli
¼ cup plus 2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
2 TBS fresh lemon juice; more to taste
1/3 cup fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°. Tear off any broccoli leaves and trim the bottoms of the stems, Cut the florets just above where they join the large stem, and then cut each floret through its stem (but not the buds) so that each piece is about ¼ inch thick at the stem end. Using a paring knife, peel the tough outer skin from the large ste, removing as little flesh as possible. Cut the stem into baton shaped pieces about ¼” wide and 2 inches long.

Put the florets and stem pieces on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with the salt and toss well to combine. Spread the broccoli into an even layer and roast until tender and golden brown, 15 – 20 minutes. Transfer the broccoli to a serving platter, toss with the lemon juice and some of the grated Pecorino; save some to sprinkle on top.

Recipe Source: Fine Cooking: Weekend Cooking 2007

Easy Daikon Salad

2 cups julienne cut daikon radish (I used my food processor to cut it)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp sweet rice wine (mirin)
OPTIONAL crushed peanuts
  1. Place the daikon in a colander/mesh strainer over a bowl or the sink and sprinkle with salt. Mix well. Let sit for 30 minutes. Squeeze out excess water and then rinse well with cold water. Drain.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the seasoned rice vinegar, sugar and rice wine. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves (this will only take a few minutes).
  3. Transfer the daikon to an airtight container and pour the rice vinegar mixture over. Shake or stir well to combine. Chill for 20 minutes before serving.
  4. This can store for up to a few days in the fridge, if it lasts that long. If desired, serve topped with crushed peanuts.
Recipe Source:

Turnips Sauteed with Garlic and Onion

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup onion, finely minced
1 Tbsp olive oil

1 bunch Japanese or other turnips, approx 1 to 1 1/2 cups sliced  
In heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat, saute onion in olive oil until translucent.  Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add turnips and continue cooking over medium-low heat until turnips, onions, and garlic are all soft and caramelized (but not burned--watch carefully). 
Makes 2 servings.

Recipe Source:
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