Wednesday, June 11, 2014

BGF News 6/10/14

Volume XXIV, Number 2    June 10, 2014

In this week’s box:
Chard: Bright Lights Mix (big, leafy greens with bright, multicolored stems)
Garlic Scapes (the curly, green things)
Head Lettuce: Bronze Arrowhead (maroon oakleaf) and a bonus/misc. head
Purslane (small bundle of succulent green leaves)
Radishes (the final few)
Spinruts (baby turnips) Hakurei (white) & Scarlet Queen (pink)
Tapestry Salad Mix
and possibly one of the following:
*Snow Peas (next group in alphabetical order)
*Spinach (next group)
For those with the Cheese option: Roasted Red Pepper Chevre & Plain Chevre
For those with the Egg option [full]: 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):  Spring Turnips with greens and Raisins
                                                     Garlic Scape Pesto
                                                     The Great Chard E'scape
                                                     Huevos con Verdolagas
Precipitation since last week:  2.13”

What’s up on the farm?

The season is cruising on here at the farm and we are doing our best to keep up. The recent rains have been nearly perfect and we were so thankful to miss last week's damaging weather that took place south and west of us. Nearly everything here is green and lush, desirable plants and weeds alike! If we could possibly place an order for this weather to just continue through the season, we would all be perfectly happy (farmers, crew, animals and crops alike). Well, maybe not ALL of us. The very earliest crops have begun to decide that they are finished. Yesterday we cleared the early salad from the high tunnel and replaced it with the last of the tomatoes and peppers to be planted. Never fear, there is more salad in the field. The radishes are mostly done, so we will tuck the very last few into the boxes this week. The spinach was an unexpected loss, as we usually can coax it farther into June. Not this year, last week's rain and then warm-up put it over the edge and we were able to harvest just a few bags before the whole crop just melted. What this means is that the spinach is done until fall. We know that there are a number of you who won't have gotten spinach in these first two deliveries, so you will be the first to get it when the fall crop comes in. We wish we could have gotten it out to everyone now, but it just wasn't possible this time around.

Other notable crop happenings; the garlic is "scaping"! For those of you who are new to the CSA, scapes are the emerging flower stalk on a hardneck garlic plant. We remove them to redirect more of the plant's energy into the bulb, but it also provides us with a delightful fresh garlic treat. It is one of our favorite crops of the season and we hope you enjoy their curly, garlicky goodness as much as we do. They are a short season treat though, so we will likely have them in boxes for the next 2 weeks and then they will be done.  What else is happening? Main season transplanting and sowings are mostly done. Exceptions include melons and some succession sowings for things like beans, beets and edamame. So now our focus moves to cultivating/weeding, mowing, harvesting and otherwise attempting to manage the riot that is growing in the gardens. We have a little mulching left to complete and a lot of tomato trellising in our immediate future. We are still on "cria watch" for our impending baby alpaca. We thought there were some promising developments this weekend, but it appears we are just paying more attention now.

We had two swarms of bees on the farm this past week. No worries, it is a natural movement of bees from one home (hive) to find a new home, but it is always an impressive thing to see. Sean was able to re-hive one of them for sure, and hopefully yesterday's capture was successful as well. Both involved him standing at the top of a tall extension ladder, armed with an extended pole trimmer. So hopefully all will settle into their new digs and his efforts will translate into two new permanent hives of bees.

Just a reminder, we have set up a new Facebook page for CSA members. You can find it here: Blue Gate Farm Community. If you have a Facebook account we encourage you to post recipes, photos and questions about your weekly produce box adventures. If you don't have an account, don't worry, you can still see/ read anything on the page, but you won't be able to post anything. We will keep an eye on the page and try to answer questions in a timely manner, but really this is to encourage the "Community" aspect of CSA and to provide you all a venue to share and connect with each other.

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.

Chard: A mild-flavored, leafy member of the beet family that can be used raw or cooked. Chard will keep best if stored in a plastic bag, with the top folded over and placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.  When cooking chard with large stems, separate stems from leaves and start cooking the stems first, as they will take a bit more cooking time.

Garlic Scapes: One of our favorite crops of the year. These curly green things are the emerging flower stalk from a hardneck garlic plant. We remove them to redirect more of the plant's energy into the bulb, but it also provides us with a delightful fresh garlic treat. These keep very well in a plastic bag in your produce drawer and can be used in any recipe calling for garlic. They would be perfect in last week's garlic salt recipe, make a great pesto and can be minced and added to room-temperature butter, which is then stored in log shape, in the freezer for a last minute dollop of goodness for vegetables, breads or meat.

Head Lettuce: We prefer to store heads wrapped in a cotton or linen dish towel, then placed in a plastic bag. This helps maintain a little bit of moisture, while keeping the leaves from touching the plastic to extend their "drawer-life".  Wash lettuce just before using. The inner-most leaves of the head are the sweetest, so save those for salad use and take advantage of the bigger, outside leaves for use on sandwiches or wraps.

Purslane: This succulent plant is a valued green in many parts of the world, though here in the US, it is mostly known as an invasive weed. It is rich in vitamin E, vitamin C and beta carotene, and quite high in protein.  Most noteworthy of all, it is considered a better source of essential omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy plant.  Enjoy raw or cooked in any recipe calling for greens.  Store in a paper towel-lined plastic bag in your crisper drawer and use within a week.

Spinruts/turnips: 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. You are probably also wondering what the story is with the term "Spinruts"?  Well, “spinrut” is just the word turnip spelled backwards and we borrowed this from a larger CSA in northern Iowa.  They decided that people have some pre-conceived notions about turnips and many of them are not very nice.  But most people have also only experienced the old stand-by “purple-top turnip” and these glowing white orbs that we are growing are a totally different eating experience.  This is a Japanese spring (or salad) turnip.  It is sweet, crisp and juicy and our favorite way to eat them is straight out of hand, or maybe chilled with a quick sprinkle of sea salt.  It is tasty sliced or grated into salads and even thin-sliced on sandwiches.  Of course you can also use them in any turnip recipe, but fresh is when they really shine.

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 & Indigo)

Spring Turnips with Greens and Raisins
2 T butter, divided
2 t olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 bunch spring turnips and greens (about 10 small or 5 large turnips
about ½ cup raisins (we especially like this with dried cranberries)
12 ounces orzo or bowtie pasta, cooked and cooled (optional)
Heat 1 T of the butter and all of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium flame. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, wash turnips and trim the leaves from the root. Chop the roots into 1-inch dice. Discard any yellowed turnip leaves and roughly chop the nice ones. Once the onions are softened, add the turnip roots. Sprinkle with a bit of salt, stir and cover. Cook until the turnips can be easily pierced with a knife, about 8 minutes. Uncover, turn the heat up to medium high, and cook, stirring now and then, until turnips turn light brown at the edges. Add the chopped greens and raisins and cook until the greens are wilted and tender, another 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining 1 T butter and salt to taste. Eat this as a side dish or toss it with cooked pasta for a main dish. Makes 3-4 servings.

BGF Garlic Scape Pesto
1 bunch tender scapes, cut into pieces, and processed in a food processor until finely chopped
Add the following and process until well blended:
1/3 cup olive oil (add more if you like a thinner pesto)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
optional, toss in some basil for additional pesto flavor if you have it.

This can be served now or frozen for future use. I freeze it in small (1/2 c.) zip-top plastic bags, flattened. Then you can just break off whatever amount you need.

The Great Chard E’Scape
½ lb Swiss chard (or other greens like kale, choi, braising greens, ect)
1 tbs olive oil
5-6 fresh garlic scapes (or more to taste) or 1-3 cloves minced garlic
Sea salt

Cut garlic scapes into 1” chunks. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic scapes. Trim large stems from chard leaves. Cut stems into 1” pieces. Add stems to skillet. Stack chard leaves and roll into a tube. Cut into ½” strips. As scapes and stems just begin to soften, add leaves to skillet. Cook until leaves wilt. Sprinkle with salt to taste.
Great served over pasta with a red sauce or as a side dish. Leftovers are tasty in eggs the next day.

Recipe Source: Blue Gate Farm

Huevos con Verdolagas (Eggs with Purslane)
Ingredients for 2 servings

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (or garlic scape)
1/2 cup chopped Verdolagas (purslane)
Small ripe tomato, seeded and diced
4 eggs, beaten with a fork
salt and pepper
Salsa, your choice green or red
4 corn tortillas

1. Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet set over a medium flame. Add onions and verdolagas and cook for a few minutes or until the onions begin to soften and the verdolagas begins to wilt. Then pour in the eggs, and continuously lift and move them about with a spatula until they have firmly scrambled.

2. Set the corn tortillas between two paper towels, and microwave for exactly one minute. (If you don
't wish to microwave, heat the tortillas in the skillet after you've removed the egg mixture.)

3. Place an equal amount of egg mixture on each tortilla, top with diced tomato and a dollop of salsa. Then fold the tortilla over, taco-like.

Recipe Source:
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