Tuesday, August 15, 2017

BGF News - August 15, 2017-Vol. XXXIII, No.10

In this week’s box:

Basil: Thai Magic
Cabbage: Super Red
Beets: Ace (dark red), Chioggia (red/white striped) and/or Golden (yellow)
Fennel
Head Lettuce: Coastal Star, Magenta or Muir
Baby Leeks
Summer Squash: 8 Ball( round, green), Slik Pik (long, light yellow), Patty Pan (dk green, lt. green or yellow "flying saucer-shaped") or Golden Glory (yellow zucchini)
Sweet Peppers: Ace & Revolution (red) Golden Marconi (yellow) and/or Islander (purple)
Tomatoes: see descriptions in 8/1 newsletter

Watermelon: Cream of Saskatchewan (white interior) or Sugar Baby (red interior)
 

And at least one of the following:
Beans: Mix or Romano
Broccoli: Belstar
Cantaloupe: Minnesota Midget

Cherry Tomato Mix:  see descriptions in 8/1 newsletter 
Cucumbers: Diva/Marketmore (green Euro.), Suyo Long (long, green Asian) or Lemon (round, yellow)
Eggplant: Orient Express (Asian-type, purple), Orient Charm (Asian-type, lavender) or
    Listada de Gandia (Italian, striped)
Okra: Bowling Red

          
For those with the Egg option [full shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: lemon basil, oregano, lemon thyme

 
Featured Recipes:  ** indicates a BGF favorite 
 Sauteed Cabbage and Fennel with Mustard
 Cheddar, Leek & Tomato Sandwiches
Mushroom & Leek Tagliatelle With Thyme, Garlic and Parmesan
Quick Summer Squash and Bell Pepper Gratin
BGF Summer Garden Pasta ** see recipe below


What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 0.08"
 
Well, it has been a week for sure. Sean's surgery went well and his recovery is progressing nicely. He is now home from the hospital and we look forward to continuing forward progress. It is a challenge to run a farm under the best conditions, but add obnoxious weather and a health issue and it becomes a bit overwhelming. Huge thanks to family, farm crew and friends that kept everything moving forward.

We did manage to forge ahead on a number of things over the past week. Still no appreciable rain, so the irrigation system continues to be our lifeline. Spent crops (like cucumbers, shallots and early turnips) have been cleared, the beds renovated and fresh crops planted for fall. In the past week we've sown or transplanted: beets, cabbage, cauliflower, arugula, head lettuce, kale, chard, turnips and broccoli raab.


Speaking of beets, we are sending out beets in the delivery this week. It is mostly just a taste, but we harvested every single beet on the farm. Never have we had so much trouble with the crops as we have this season. We sowed well over 1000 row feet of beets since the start of the season and between weather and furry eaters (deer & rabbits) we've had crop failure after crop failure. We had thought that this last bed of beets had gone unnoticed by the eaters and that it was progressing well. Then we checked them yesterday. Nope, sometime in the past week they found it and not only ate the tops off much of the bed, but also pulled them right out of the ground. Definitely a deer trick, and now that they've found them, they will return to finish the job, so we just cleared the bed and are sending them out to you with the reassurance that we have planted more and hope to send them out before the season.

So as not to just wallow in the frustrations of the season or week, we are celebrating a couple of things this week, in addition to Sean's successful surgery. We are sending out melons again in this delivery. This is hands down the best melon season we've ever had and we hope you are enjoying it as much as we (and the crew) are! The season for melons will start winding down soon, but we have been very pleased with these crops. And finally, there's this guy, who celebrated his 2nd birthday on the 14th.
 
Happy Birthday, Percy!

A little detail on your produce this week:



Basil hates the cold and will turn black with exposure. Keep long stemmed basil in a glass/vase of water on your counter top (out of direct sunlight). Stems that are too short (trimmings/tops) should be placed in a plastic bag, with a dry paper towel. Then put inside of a paper bag (for insulation) and put in the warmest part of your refrigerator (usually the door) or on the top shelf towards the front.

Beets- Cut off greens, leaving an inch of stem. Refrigerate the unwashed greens in a closed plastic bag and use with your chard mix as beets and chard are closely related. Store the beet roots, unwashed, with the rootlets (or “tails”) attached, in a plastic bag in the crisper bin of your refrigerator. They will keep for several weeks, but their sweetness diminishes with time. Just before cooking, scrub beets well and remove any scraggly leaves and rootlets. If your recipe calls for raw beets, peel them with a knife or vegetable peeler, then grate or cut according to your needs baby/young beets usually don't need to be peeled.

 Fennel: Cut off the stalks where they emerge from the bulb. To use the feathery foliage as an herb, place the dry stalks upright in a glass filled with two inches of water, cover the glass loosely with a plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator for up to five days. The unwashed bulb will keep in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for at least a week. To use: Remove any damaged spots or layers. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise and check the inner core. If it’s tough, remove it with a paring knife. Fennel should be washed carefully, because dirt can lodge between the layers of the bulb. Chop or mince the leaves.

Leeks: Loosely wrap unwashed leeks in a plastic bag and store them in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. They will keep for a couple of weeks. To use- Cut the leek about 1 inch above the white part, where the leaves begin changing from dark to light green. (Save the unused greens; they’ll give great flavor to your next vegetable stock.) Fan the leaves under running water to dislodge any dirt collected there, then pat thoroughly dry. You can julienne a leek by cutting it lengthwise, or slice it crosswise. If you want to clean a leek that you will be cooking whole, make a slit down one side to within an inch or two of the root end. Then spread the leaves under running lukewarm water to clean the leek. During cooking the leek will stay whole. When serving, arrange the leek with the cut side down.


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)
Labels:

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

BGF News - August 8, 2017-Vol. XXXIII, No.9

In this week’s box:

Basil: Sweet
Head Lettuce: Coastal Star, Magenta or Muir
Kale Mix
Shallots: Ambition (tan) and/or Prisma (red)
Potatoes: Mix
Sweet Peppers: Ace & Revolution (red) Golden Marconi (yellow) and/or Islander (purple)
Tomatoes: see descriptions in 8/1 newsletter
Watermelon: Sugar Baby (dk green skin, red flesh) or Cream of Saskatchewan (striped skin, white flesh) 

And at least one of the following:
Beans: Mix or Romano
Broccoli: Belstar
Cantaloupe: Minnesota Midget (orange interior) or Rocky Ford (green interior)

Cherry Tomato Mix
Eggplant: Orient Express (Asian-type, purple), Orient Charm (Asian-type, lavender) or
    Listada de Gandia (Italian, striped)
Okra: Bowling Red

         
For those with the Egg option [full & half shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Thai Magic basil, chocolate mint, par-cel

 
Featured Recipes:  ** indicates a BGF favorite 
Flower Power Eggs
Tomato Basil Vinaigrette
Roasted Tomato Basil Pesto
Pesto Pasta with Beans and Potatoes

What’s up on the farm?

Zinnias, melons and butternut squash in the El Norte plot
Precipitation in the past week: trace 
  
It's been a bit hard to believe it is August when spending time outdoors recently. The crew starts the day in sweatshirts and jackets...at state fair time! Crazy stuff this weather. Still no measurable rain at the farm. NOAA has moved our area to severe drought ratings and the pastures and lawns look more like late September than the first week of August. Things are progressing in the gardens, regardless of the weather challenges though. We continued our clearing and preparing spent beds for new fall crops. This past week we've sown head lettuce, salad mix, spinach, arugula and choi. Luckily we have a good irrigation system and by running it almost constantly, some of the seeds are already starting to germinate. We've also started planting fall transplants including: napa cabbage, broccoli and more head lettuce. Now if we can just keep the crazy rabbits and deer away from them, we should be in good shape. More sowing and transplanting to follow this week. The warm-weather crops are moseying along at a leisurely pace, the drought conditions and below-normal temperatures have them producing and ripening fruit, just at a slower pace than normal. You will see the first of our beautiful sweet peppers in today's boxes as well as a few more tomatoes and we are very excited to send out the first of the season's watermelons along with another round of cantaloupe. The crew is rather fond of this part of the season as we do a fair amount of "testing" melons to try and get all the clues right for harvesting them at their peak of ripeness. Everyone seems to be willing to bear the burden of this responsibility.
Indigo feels the burden of melon responsibility more than most

Some less than fun news that we need to share with you. As many of our veteran members know, Sean is a two time cancer survivor. Unfortunately, the 3rd cancer diagnosis was made earlier this year and after some unsuccessful treatment attempts he is now headed for a significant liver surgery this Wednesday. This will put him largely out of commission for a month or two and will certainly change our focus in the coming weeks. So what does this mean for you as our members? Likely, not much. Knoxville members will see a different face at the weekly pickup for a while. Des Moines members will probably not notice a difference at all, though it is possible we may send a sub for a delivery if need be. While the farmers will be spending more time away from the farm than is normal, our wonderful crew, family and friends will be keeping things moving forward at BGF. If you need to reach us in the next couple of weeks, please be patient if it takes longer than normal for us to respond.

A little detail on your produce this week:



Eggplant: Eggplant prefers to be kept at about 50° F, which is warmer than most refrigerators and cooler than most kitchen counters. Wrap unwashed eggplant in a towel (not in plastic) to absorb any moisture and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Used within a week, it should still be fresh and mild.  The shape of an eggplant determines how it is best prepared. Slice a straight, narrow eggplant into rounds for grilling or broiling, and cut a rounded, bulbous eggplant into cubes for stews and stir-fries.

Melons: If your cantaloupe seems a bit short of ripe, keep it at room temperature for a few days or until there is a sweet smell coming from the stem end. Once the melon ripens, store it in the refrigerator. Handle watermelons carefully. When harvested at their peak ripeness, they can crack or split easily if bumped or roughly handled. Refrigerate watermelons right away. (Watermelons do not ripen off the vine and do not emanate a ripe smell.)
Cut melon should be covered in plastic wrap, chunks or slices should be kept in an airtight container, and both should be refrigerated. Eat all melons within a week.

Okra: These lovely, dark red, horn-shaped vegetables are a warm weather treat. Extremely cold sensitive, store in their plastic bag in the warmest part of your fridge, or place the plastic bag in a small paper sack and store in the crisper drawer and use within the week. Traditional southerners will cut into rounds, bread in cornmeal and fry, but our favorite version is our dear friend Annie's method, "All I do is rinse off the pods and lay them in a saucepan with a little water in the bottom. Ten to fifteen minutes is all it takes...twenty if the pods are really big and "woody" feeling. I put salt on them and eat as finger food. It reminds me of young sweet corn."

Peppers: Place whole, unwashed peppers in a plastic bag, seal, and refrigerate for a week or more. Rinse peppers just before use. For sweet peppers, cut around the stem with a small knife and lift out the core. Slice down the side to open it up and then cut out the inner membranes. Store unused portions in a sealed bag or container in the refrigerator.
 
Shallots:  These are freshly harvested shallots that haven't had time to cure yet.. You can use them in any recipe calling for shallots or onions. Store loosely wrapped in the refrigerator for best keeping quality. Shallots have a rich, more delicate flavor than most in the onion family and are particularly tasty with vegetables, eggs and salad dressings.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes keep best at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. We prefer to only refrigerate tomatoes once they have been cut. Once tomato season is on, we try to include fruits that are a range of ripeness, so they will last longer for you. As we raise tomatoes of every color, the best ripeness test is a gentle squeeze. A ripe tomato will "yield" to gentle pressure.

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)
Labels:

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

BGF News - August 1, 2017-Vol. XXXIII, No.8

In this week’s box:

Cabbage: Golden Acre (round) or Early Jersey Wakefield (cone-shaped)
Fennel
Head Lettuce: Magenta or Muir
Beans: Mix or Romano
Cucumbers: Diva/Marketmore (green Euro.), Suyo Long (long, green Asian) or Lemon (round, yellow)
Cipollini Onions
Garlic: Northern White
Summer Squash: 8 Ball( round, green), Slik Pik (long, light yellow), Patty Pan (dk green, lt. green or
    yellow "flying saucer-shaped") or Golden Glory (yellow zucchini)
Tomatoes: assorted varieties (see details below)
And perhaps one of the following:
Broccoli: Belstar
Cantaloupe: Minnesota Midget (orange interior) or Rocky Ford (green interior)
Cherry Tomato Mix
Eggplant: Orient Express (Asian-type, purple), Orient Charm (Asian-type, lavender) or
    Listada de Gandia (Italian, striped)
Okra: Bowling Red 
For those with the Egg option [full shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: sweet basil, anise hyssop & garlic chives


 
Featured Recipes:  ** indicates a BGF favorite 
Sausage Egg Roll in a Bowl
Roasted Fennel and Green Beans
Sauteed Cabbage with Fennel** (see recipe below)

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 0.00"
 

Want to know how to make a farmer really grouchy?  Stick them in drought conditions for a couple of months, then predict a significant rain event for about a week, as the day gets closer, continue to increase the chances for precipitation (up to 90%) and then add flash flood warnings. And then...nothing. Our big rainy day totaled up to a brief sprinkle that wasn't even enough to show up in the rain gauge. Sigh. Ah well, at least the temperatures have been pleasant and we've gotten some good work done in the fields. We spent a fair amount of time clearing spent beds and getting the first of the direct-sown fall crops in, including daikon, carrots, beets and turnips. We're laying irrigation lines directly on top of the seeded rows in hopes of getting them to germinate, but the soil is so dry it is a bit of an uphill battle. The fall transplants are looking good and we are working on getting more beds ready for them to move into in the next week or so. The last of the cucumber plants are succumbing to the pressure of the cucumber beetles, so this will likely be our final delivery of cukes, but the peppers are starting to color and will soon be taking their place in your boxes. We are pleased to be sending out the first of the cantaloupes today. We raise miniature varieties of melons (so they will fit in your box) but what they lack in size, they make up for in taste! If you don't see them in your box this week, never fear, there are more to come!

Last week we sent out the very first of the cherry/mini Roma tomatoes and this week we are seeing the first of the slicers start to ripen. We won't have enough of any one variety for everyone today but don't worry, they are coming! Some of the fruits we are sending out are just shy of fully ripe, while others will still have green shoulders but be ready-to-eat-ripe. So how to tell if a tomato is perfectly ripe?  Give it a gentle squeeze; no matter the color, a ripe tomato will yield to the pressure.  If one doesn't feel quite ripe, just leave it on your counter top for a day or so.  Here's a quick description of the varieties that we are growing and that you can look forward to seeing in your box in the coming weeks:
Tomato varieties for 2017:
Amish Paste: meaty, red roma-type with delicious flavor for fresh use or canning. Great salsa tomato!
Azoycha: Lemon-yellow medium-sized fruits with sweet, yet rich flavor.
Berkley Pink Tye-Dye: large pink tomato with yellow/green stripes, excellent rich flavor
Black Cherry: Beautiful black cherry tomato with rich flavor.
Black Krim: purple/red slicing tomato with excellent full flavor
Black Vernissage: 2" brick red with green stripes, pleasant, rich flavor
Blondkopfchen: Small yellow 1” cherry tomato with excellent sweet taste.
Cosmonaut Volkov: medium-large red slicer with a full-rich flavor
Dr. Wychee Yellow: Large orange tomato with meaty, rich tasting flavor.
Golden Rave: Small 1–2 oz yellow, plum shaped tomatoes with good tomato flavor. Perfect snacking tomato.
Green Zebra: Small, 2 1/2" olive yellow with green stripes and a sweet zingy flavor
Jasper: Small red, 1/2" cherry tomato with chewy flesh and full tomato flavor
John Baer: meaty red heirloom slicer
Juliet: Small 1 – 2 oz red fruits that are the perfect flavor and shape for slicing onto pizza or salad.
Paul Robeson: Large, brick-red fruits with dark green shoulders.  Has a sweet, rich, smoky flavor.
Pantano Romanesco: A large, deep red Roman heirloom. The flesh is very rich, flavorful & juicy.
Redfield Beauty: 3”– 4” flat pink fruits with excellent, full flavor.
Rutgers: large, red with excellent flavor for fresh eating or canning
Sweetie: 1" round, red cherry with firm texture and sweet flavor
White Queen: Medium-sized, smooth white-skinned tomato with sweet, juicy flesh, low acid.
White Cherry: small, 1" creamy-white to light pink tomato with sweet flavor

A little detail on your produce this week:

Cantaloupe: Refrigerate ripe melons, but do not freeze. It is best not to cut a cantaloupe until you are ready to eat it. If you need to return cut melon to the refrigerator, do not remove the seeds from the remaining sections as they keep the flesh from drying out. Use within 3-5 days.

Fennel: Cut off the stalks where they emerge from the bulb. To use the feathery foliage as an herb, place the dry stalks upright in a glass filled with two inches of water, cover the glass loosely with a plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator for up to five days. The unwashed bulb will keep in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for at least a week. To use: Remove any damaged spots or layers. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise and check the inner core. If it’s tough, remove it with a paring knife. Fennel should be washed carefully, because dirt can lodge between the layers of the bulb. Chop or mince the leaves.
Green top onions: not the pencil-thin scallions, but nearly grown (though not-yet-cured) onions are an early summer treat. Keep sweet mild onions in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a week or two, but beware the fatal moisture accumulation that causes them to spoil. To prolong their storage, wrap in a paper or cloth towel before storing in plastic. 

Okra: These lovely, dark red, horn-shaped vegetables are a warm weather treat. Extremely cold sensitive, store in their plastic bag in the warmest part of your fridge, or place the plastic bag in a small paper sack and store in the crisper drawer and use within the week. Traditional southerners will cut into rounds, bread in cornmeal and fry, but our favorite version is our dear friend Annie's method, "All I do is rinse off the pods and lay them in a saucepan with a little water in the bottom. Ten to fifteen minutes is all it takes...twenty if the pods are really big and "woody" feeling. I put salt on them and eat as finger food. It reminds me of young sweet corn."


Tomatoes: Tomatoes keep best at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. We prefer to only refrigerate tomatoes once they have been cut. Once tomato season is on, we try to include fruits that are a range of ripeness, so they will last longer for you. As we raise tomatoes of every color, the best ripeness test is a gentle squeeze. A ripe tomato will "yield" to gentle pressure.

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)
Labels: