Thursday, June 5, 2014

BGF News 6/3/2014

Volume XXIV, June 3, 2014

In this week’s box:
Braising Greens Mix: Senposai (round, green leaf), Tokyo Bekana (chartreuse leaf) & Osaka Purple Mustard
Chive Blossoms
Green Garlic
Pac Choi: “Win-Win”
Radishes: Easter Egg & Cherryette (pink, red, purple and white, round roots with leafy tops)
Tapestry Salad Mix
and possibly one of the following:
*Snow Peas (1st group in alphabetical order)
*Spinach (2nd group)
For those with the Cheese option: first delivery next week.
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 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):  Braised Greens with Green Garlic and Lemon
Traditional Chinese Pac Choi
Chive Blossom Vinegar

Precipitation since the last newsletter:  1.52”

What’s up on the farm?

Welcome to the first delivery of the 2014 season and the start of weekly newsletters!  The CSA boxes are a little light at this time of the season and you will notice the abundance of greens and not quite as much variety as we like.  This is part of the joy of eating fresh, seasonal foods.  As the season continues the weight and variety of the contents will increase with the arrival of heavier crops including beans, tomatoes, potatoes and squash.  One thing that does remain somewhat consistent is the presence of some cosmetic damage caused by our local insects.  This is another of the indications that we are truly a chemical-free farm.  We try to keep the insect population under control, but they are simply a fact of life in a naturally grown system.  We hope you can overlook some minor leaf damage and we will do our best to keep it to a minimum.  Also we do our best to provide you with clean produce, but you may find a little dirt here and there or, yikes, possibly an insect.  We do wash the produce and sort it to the best of our ability, but we are processing a significant volume and it is possible that at some point you will find a little “nature” in your box.  If and when it happens to you, we apologize ahead of time and hope you will forgive the oversight.  Remember, while we do clean the produce, it is always good practice to wash your vegetables before using.

A big thank you to our pick-up site hosts: Ritual Café in Des Moines and The Next Chapter in Knoxville.  Over the course of the season please consider supporting these independent, local businesses who offer us a great place to deliver your produce.

It has been a busy couple of weeks on the farm. The warm-up in the weather pushed us into high gear for transplanting, and at this point we are nearly done with the early/mid-season crops including eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, okra, winter & summer squashes, sweet potatoes and more than 700 tomatoes plants (all of which are now tucked safely into their organic straw mulch).  Most of our earlier sown crops are looking pretty good. The snap and snow peas are both doing extremely well, possibly the best crop of those we've ever had. They are a little behind the HT crop that is producing peas now, but those in the field are growing and blooming and looking quite promising, so we are hopeful for a bounty of peas in the not-to-distant future. The only things that aren't doing quite so well are some of the potatoes, which were planted right before we got 4" of rain, which caused a number of them to rot. We did have some extra seed potatoes though, which we replanted into the failed rows, so we hope to see some progress on those soon. We also had some trouble with our melon transplants this year, with a large number of them not germinating or dampening off. So those are on the "try it again" list for later this week.

Other things on the farm are rolling forward. In the light of last week's unseasonable heat, the farm crew rolled out the full irrigation system, just in time for the rains to start again. We had hoped that would be the case! Amid planting, irrigation work and harvesting, we've also managed to get a fair amount of cultivating done and the weeds are being discouraged almost daily. Indigo is making very nice progress in his puppy-way and is learning to listen more and bite a little less. We are still on "Cria Watch" but no baby alpaca to report as of yet. Sean is beginning to suspect Abby is pretending to be pregnant, but Jill still thinks it will happen at any time.

All in all things are looking very lush and green here at the farm. We hope you enjoy this first delivery and are looking forward to this season as much as we are.

As we mentioned in the recent newsletter, we have set up a new Facebook page for CSA members. You can find it here: BGF Member Interchange. 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.

Pac Choi (a.k.a. - bok choy or pok choy) is the large, structural-looking vegetable.  It is a member of the cabbage family and is a traditional Asian stir-fry vegetable.  Both the stems and leaves of choi can be used and are especially tasty in cooked recipes.  If cooking them, separate the leaves and stems, and begin cooking stems first to avoid overcooking the more tender greens. You can also use the leaves like any green-leafy vegetable and the stems like celery.  We tend to use choi leaves as a sandwich wrap, or just roughly chop the whole thing and sauté with garlic and/or onion.  Cook until stems are tender and dress with a little seasoned rice vinegar. Store choi loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in your produce drawer.

Radishes 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.

Braising Greens: A combination of greens that are used mostly in cooked dishes.  Store like other greens, in a plastic bag, with the top folded over and placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator. 

Chive Blossoms: These lovely mauve-colored blooms top the chive plants for a couple of weeks at this time of year. Store in a glass of water, upright in the refrigerator. They are delightful pulled apart and sprinkled over salads or cooked vegetables, but we really like them with eggs. They are slightly sweet with a remarkably strong chive flavor, so use them sparingly, or just toss them all in a jar and make the prettiest (and tasty) vinegar you can imagine.
Green garlic: Looks like a bundle of big green onions, but don't be fooled, it is ALL garlic! Store loosely wrapped in plastic in your produce drawer and use the white parts like you would garlic scapes or bulb garlic.  The flavor is so fresh and green that we like to use them in recipes that really highlight the flavor, like pesto or garlic butter, though it is also darn tasty on homemade pizza and really, in anything that "needs" a little garlic flavor.

A few other details: All of 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 Beyond the Blue Gate and on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm and/or BGF Member Interchange

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)

Braised Greens with Green Garlic and Lemon

1 large bunch of Braising Greens (or other mixed greens)
olive oil
1 TBS green garlic, finely chopped
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
½ lemon

Half fill a large pot with salted water, bring to the boil and add your greens. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes until the greens are tender, or al dente, then drain in a colander.

To your empty pan add 4 large lugs of olive oil and the garlic. Fry the garlic until slightly softened, then throw in your greens Season and stir around to coat in all the lovely flavored oil.

After 1 minute, remove from the heat and squeeze in the lemon juice. Stir once more, check the seasoning again, and serve immediately. Great with grilled meats or scallops, or even served cold on an antipasti plate.

Adapted from a recipe at

Traditional Chinese Pac Choi
1 lb Pac Choi, cut into 2” pieces                                                           Dressing
1 green onion, sliced the whole length, then cut 1” pieces                       1 T. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil                                                                                   ½ tsp. sugar
2 T. cooking oil             
Heat oil.  Add onion and cook until limp (1-2 min.).  Add Choi.  Quickly stir it around in pan.  Reduce heat to medium.  Cover and cook about 2 min. just until thoroughly hot.  (It should be crunchy.) 
 Mix the soy sauce mixed with sugar.  Season the hot vegetables with this sauce.
Recipe Source: Turtle Farm CSA

Chive Blossom Vinegar Recipe Link
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