Tuesday, June 6, 2017

BGF News - June 6, 2017-Vol. XXXIII, No.1

In this week’s box:

Braising Greens: Senposai (green), Tokyo Bekana (chartreuse), Osaka Purple Mustard (purple)
French Sorrel (bunch of flat, arrow-shaped leaves with a tart, lemony flavor)
Garlic Scapes
Kale Mix: Red Russian, Toscano, Olymipc Red, Beedy's Camden (large mixed leaf bundle)
Tapestry Salad Mix (in the zip-top bag) ## (please see note in "A Little Detail..." below)
Turnips: Hakurei
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

garlic scapes
Hakurei turnips
Featured Recipes:  ** indicates a BGF favorite 
Braised Greens with Green Garlic and Lemon 
Sesame Noodles with Mustard Greens ** 
Dan Barber's Kale Salad  **

BGF Garlic Scape Pesto **
1 bunch tender scapes, cut into pieces, and processed in a food processor until finely chopped
1-3 sorrel leaves, rough chopped and processed with the scapes
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. Delicious as a pasta or pizza sauce, dip, sandwich spread or add a little seasoned rice vinegar and it becomes a tasty salad dressing.

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week:  0.13”
Welcome to the first delivery of the 2017 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: Peace Tree Brewing Co - Des Moines and the Grand Theater 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 week on the farm. The warm-up in the weather pushed us into high gear for transplanting, weeding and mulching. Most of our earlier sown crops are looking pretty good, although the rabbits are causing some significant damage, which means our dogs are getting lazy. So far the little furry beasts have shown a decided preference for peas and cauliflower. The cauliflower is gone, until fall when we will try again, as are 200 row feet of peas in the field. We do have peas remaining in the high tunnel, so all is not lost there, but we certainly wont have the volume we have had in some years.The tomatoes are all in, though we have to go back and replant about 20% of them as the deer came through and pulled them right out of the ground. We didn't discover this little prank until it was too late. Luckily we had plants left over from the original planting so have stock to use. It's been years since we saw this level of plant damage. We are chalking it up to a combination of a mild winter and aging farm dogs. We're going to have to work on making the crops less appealing to the bunny and deer. The sudden hot weather is also causing some issue for the cool weather-loving crops. The spinach overheated last week and is done until fall. The choi is also surrendering early with about 260 row feet of new plants bolting they are a bad influence on their neighbors the braising greens. This means by next week they will no longer be worth eating, so we are sending them out in boxes this week so they aren't a total loss.

Braising Greens and Choi
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 two weeks and then they will be done and we will go on to the next stage of garlic happiness. 

Other things on the farm are rolling forward. We've cleared most of the early crops from both high tunnels and are nearly done switching over to warm season crops in there. The majority of the irrigation system is installed. Amid planting, sowing, irrigation work and harvesting, we've also managed to get a fair amount of cultivating done and the weeds are being discouraged almost daily (they do seem to have a lot of encouragement from somewhere though). It seemed like just a couple of weeks ago we were so wet that we couldn't work soil and now we are starting to choreograph our rain dance. Such is the life of a vegetable-grower in Iowa.

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.

We hope you enjoy the new newsletter format. One of the goals for this change is so you can go to the blog/newsletter at any time and search for specific vegetables, that should allow you to see any archived recipes for that item. It also allows us to include photos and links to more recipes and information. As we mentioned in the recent newsletter, in addition to the regular BGF Facebook page, we also have a 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. 
Asparagus: Keeps best stored upright in a glass with about 1" of water, in the refrigerator. Delicious raw or cooked.

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. 

Choi (a.k.a. - pac choi, 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.

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.

 Sorrel: a traditional herb in French cooking, sorrel has a bright, lemony flavor that pairs well with other greens, potatoes, eggs and poultry. We like it added to pestos, in egg salad (or any egg dish) and as a lettuce replacement on sandwiches. Store like other greens, in a plastic bag in your produce drawer.

Tapestry Salad Mix: our signature salad mix with a combination of lettuces, greens, wilds herbs and flowers. Yes, you can eat the flowers. Store in your produce drawer with other greens. Special note this week: our salad spinner broke down this week so your salad mix contains more moisture than usual. Please add a paper towel or cotton napkin inside the bag (slide along one side between greens and plastic). This will help absorb excess moisture and keep the greens from getting too soggy. We hope to be back up and running with the spinner by the end of the week (fingers crossed!)

Turnips: keep best if separated from their greens.  Greens are stored in a plastic bag and can be cooked like mustard or collard greens (you can add them in with your Braising Greens Mix).  Trimmed roots can go into a lidded container or zip-close bag. These aren't your grandma's turnips. These are a sweet, Japanese salad variety that is particularly tasty for fresh eating. They will still work great in cooked dishes, but we love to eat them raw, often right out of hand, like an apple. One of the farm crew's favorite mid-field snacks.

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.  

* NOTE: You will notice over the course of the season that some box contents listed above say "Perhaps one of the following..."  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 on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm and/or share your recipes, experiences and questions with other BGF members at 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)

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