Sunday, June 22, 2014

BGF News 6/17/4



Volume XXIV, Number 3 –  June 17, 2014


In this week’s box:
Basil Trimmings: asst varieties (Genovese, Italian Large Leaf, purple, Thai Magic and lemon)
Garlic Scapes
Head Lettuce:  Bronze Arrowhead
Kale mix: Red Russian, Toscano & Beedy's Camden,
Pac Choi: “Win-Win”
Peas: Snow or Sugar Snap
Tapestry Salad Mix
and possibly one of the following:
* Broccoli
*Summer Squash: 8 Ball (round, green) or Golden Glory (yellow zucchini)
           
For those with the Egg option [full & half shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Herb share will begin next week

Featured Recipes (see below):  BGF's Favorite Kale Salad
                                                     Blue Gate Farm Pesto
                                                     BGF Roasted Peas

Precipitation since the last newsletter:  0.43”

What’s up on the farm?

Well that was an exciting little storm last night that drove us leaping out of bed and running for the house windows and outside to shut down the high tunnels. Sixty mile an hour winds can do a real number on a tunnel with it's sides open. No immediate damage was seen during the lightning flashes last night, hopefully we won't find any more this morning. Not a huge rain event, but we did get a bit of needed moisture.
It has been a productive week on the farm and other than being a little short on rain, the weather was most agreeable. The first of the melons were transplanted out to the field as well as the last cucumbers in the high tunnels. We do still have some later sowings of melons, winter squash and lettuces to go out, but they will be delayed a bit as several flats were destroyed by our rambunctious porch cats (we might have had a few words with them over this transgression).  There was also much weeding, hoeing and cultivating in general and those beds look great! We got the all of the gardens mowed and the majority of the tomato trellis posts installed. The last of the mulching was completed and we started stringing the tomato trellis, which will be an ongoing task as the tomatoes grow taller. We started hilling the potatoes, but this too will require one more pass through.

One of the most exciting parts of this time of year is seeing the mid-season plants starting to set fruit, almost, but not quite as exciting as harvesting them (we farmers live simple lives)! The fruiting plants are really looking quite good and we are seeing fruit set on the tomatoes, peppers, summer squashes. The eggplants are blooming, but we haven't seen any baby eggplant yet. The potatoes are also blooming, which means they are starting to form potatoes, but we don't plan to start harvesting those until they size up some more.  Speaking of sizing up, the first of our broccoli is sizing up, larger and earlier than ever before so we will start sending those out in boxes today. These are just the first (overachievers) to be ready, but there are lots more to come, so don't fear if you don't find it in your box this time around, there are lots more to come!  The same is true of the summer squashes. The basil has also put on a bit of a growth spurt and needs to be pruned back to increase future production, so everyone is getting a bit of that today. It may be a weird assortment of sizes and varieties this time around, but we hope you enjoy this little preview of one of our favorite summer flavors!  The peas kicked it into high gear this week, so we are declaring this "Pea Appreciation Week" and we are pleased to get peas into all the boxes this time around. Enjoy!

Ok, it is possible that I might have overstated the excitement level of seeing baby vegetables growing, but that is nothing compared to the excitement that we are looking forward to with the birth of our baby alpaca…yep, no news there yet, still waiting.  There is a comparable surge of excitement over the birth of our "baby" walk-in cooler though! After a long delay, there is finally visual progress on our new cooler in the packing shed. The area is cleared, excavated, base layers of insulation laid and concrete forms set. The cement truck is scheduled to arrive tomorrow with four yards of beautifully messy muck that will make up the pad for the cooler as well as a new approach to the barn. Projects of this size are always a bit of a disruption in the regular work of the farm, but oh what a difference they make in the long run!

It seems that nearly everything is doing well on the farm right now. If there is an exception, it is the beans. Some of our first sowings took off quite nicely, but a couple were beset by some very hungry insects are are still trying to recover. Another bed simply didn't germinate, and even upon resowing, hasn't lived up to expndtations so that bed will be tilled under and resown to something else. What this means is that we should still have plenty of beans, but they might be a little later than past years.

A slight detour! We have been telling you about a cool new site we've set up on Facebook for CSA members to share info. Well, the theory was sound, but the reality wasn't great, so we've changed it out for a better version. You can find the new site here: Blue Gate Farm Community.  This one is a "group" rather than a "page" so that sharing info by the membership is much easier. 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, in fact there have already been some great looking recipes shared by a number of members. Thanks and keep up the great work! We will close the original (BGF Member Interchange) down next week to avoid confusion.

A little detail on your produce this week:
Basil: Basil should generally not be stored in the refrigerator, as it will turn black.  We like to keep ours in a vase of fresh water on the kitchen counter.  If stems are too short for a vase, wrap basil in a paper towel and place inside a plastic bag then store in the warmest part of the refrigerator (usually the door). For long-term storage, we like to process as pesto and freeze, see recipe below for details.

Broccoli: Wrap broccoli loosely in a plastic bag and keep it in the vegetable bin 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.

Summer Squash/Zucchini: Refrigerate unwashed zucchini and summer squash for up to a week and a half in a perforated plastic bag or in a sealed plastic container lined with a kitchen towel. Before using, rinse zucchini and summer squash under cool running water to remove any dirt or prickles; then slice off the stem and blossom ends. Slice the vegetable into rounds, quarters, or chunks according to the specifications of your recipe. Summer squashes and zucchinis can be used interchangeably in recipes.

Leafy 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 http://beyondthebluegate.blogspot.com/ and on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm and/or Blue Gate Farm Community

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)



BGF's Favorite Kale Salad  
(this is also our favorite balsamic vinaigrette recipe, so you might want to make extra of the dressing!)
Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 tablespoons dried cranberries
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
3 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 bunches kale (about 1 pound), center ribs and stems removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, (if using salted, cut down on the 1tsp salt above)
Parmesan cheese shavings

Place cranberries in small bowl; add balsamic vinegar, seasoned rice vinegar, honey oil and salt and allow to soak several hours (overnight is even better).
Place kale in a large bowl, add cranberry mixture and toss to coat. Let marinate 20 minutes at room temperature, tossing occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese shavings and sunflower seeds just before serving.

Recipe Source:  adapted from an epicurious recipe by Dan Barber


Blue Gate Farm Pesto

2 Tbs Sunflower seeds-toasted (can substitute pine nuts)
2 cloves Garlic (garlic lovers can add more) green garlic or garlic scapes are also good.
2 c. Basil (any variety, a mix is particularly nice)
1-2 leaves Sorrel (optional)
½ c. Olive oil
1 tsp Salt (if using pre-salted sunflower seeds, can reduce salt amount)
½ c. Parmesan cheese, fresh grated (not the stuff in the can)

Place sunflower seeds and garlic into food processor then pulse several times. Add basil and sorrel, drizzle with half of oil. Pulse several times.  Add remaining oil, Parmesan cheese and salt if desired.
Pesto should be stored for a week or less in the refrigerator in a sealed container.  If storing longer, freeze in snack-sized, zip-top bags (about 1 1/2 TBS per bag), pressed flat. Once frozen, they can be stored upright in a larger plastic bag. To use a little, just break off the amount needed and return the rest to the freezer.
Also, if we are making a large batch for the freezer, for best quality, we omit the cheese and seeds. Freeze as is and then add those items in when we are ready to use.


BGF Roasted Peas

Sugar Snap or Snow Peas
1-2 tbs olive oil, divided
garlic, garlic scapes or shallots, minced
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
seasoned rice vinegar

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss peas with olive oil. Spread in single layer on baking sheet and roast 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, salt and pepper. Roast for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven, place in serving dish, toss with rice vinegar. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. They are a little messy, but we like these as finger food.

Recipe Source: Blue Gate Farm
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