Tuesday, August 29, 2017

BGF News - August 29, 2017-Vol. XXXIII, No.12

In this week’s box:

Beans: Mix, Romano or Maxibel (green, filet-style)
Broccoli: Belstar
Head Lettuce: Coastal Star, Magenta or Muir
Potatoes: Kenebec or Carola
Sweet Peppers: asst
Summer Squash: asst
Tomatoes: see descriptions in 8/1 newsletter
And perhaps one of the following: 
Cantaloupe: Minnesota Midget
Cucumber: Lemon
Eggplant: Orient Express (Asian-type, purple), Orient Charm (Asian-type, lavender) or
    Listada de Gandia (Italian, striped)

Okra: Bowling Red
Squash Blossoms
Watermelon: Sugar Baby (red interior) or Cream of Saskatchewan (white interior) 

For those with the Egg option [full shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: sweet basil, garlic chives & tarragon
Packing potatoes is closely supervised
Featured Recipes:  ** indicates a BGF favorite 
Finger Licking Edamame
Roasted Potatoes with Scallions
Green Beans with Peppers
Colcannon  (try it with your collard greens or left over kale from last week!)

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 0.00"
Counting our blessings. While our drought worries continue, they are nothing compared to what our friends and former neighbors are facing in Houston this week. We were living in Houston in 2001 during Tropical Storm Allison when we had 24" of rain over a 3 day period. By the time Harvey departs the Houston area later this week they are talking about the possibility of twice that much rain. The Alley Theater, our long-time home-away-from-home is again underwater, as are so many other buildings and homes. It is truly impossible to fathom without being there. Our hearts go out to all living in that disaster zone. We are so lucky to be here, to be healthy (surgery recovery is going well) and to have the privilege of growing good food here on the farm. We don't say it enough, thanks for being a part of our farm family!

With the fall field crops mostly all in the ground, we spent a fair amount of time cultivating this week. We also went after that last pesky row of potatoes, some of which are headed out in boxes today. Though we did other things, I feel like we spent half of our week harvesting beans. The rains from a week ago really kicked both the old and new plantings into gear so we are doing our best to keep them picked. We considered doing an "All Legume Box" this week, but decided you might like a few other things to go along with them. Not all is rosy on the legume front though. The weather did a real number on the edamame crop this year, after losing the first sowing to the furry eaters, the second sowing did ok and the 3rd sowing didn't even germinate. The pods on succession 2 were filled out and needed to be harvested, but the total yield was lower than we hoped. So we are sending all of them out today, with just enough for everyone to get a sample. They are pretty tasty added to a variety of pasta dishes, where you can enjoy them without needed a huge quantity. They are fairly dusty from the dry soil and morning dews, so you will want to give them a quick rinse before tossing them into your cooking pot. While harvesting the edamame, we took a look at the nearby collards and decided it was time to box some up for you. They are green & lush, though a bit "over-popular" with the local insect gangs. We hope you can overlook the leaf damage, it is certainly a badge of "no-chemicals-used-here".

Some of the mid-season crops are starting to look a bit tired. The summer squashes are really showing their age and are slowing down in their production. The Romano beans, while producing like crazy, look like they are on their final hurrah. Tomatoes are just having a rough year all around. They aren't really slowing down, they just never really took off this year with all of the crazy weather. We will continue to send them out as long as we have them. The fall crops are coming along surprisingly well, given our rain shortage, but that nice +1" ten days ago or so really gave them a boost. The Napa is putting on the most impressive show, but the lettuces, spinach and choi are looking nearly as good. We finally have a crop of chard coming along as well. We built it a little deer & rabbit-proof tunnel and as long as we can keep the blister beetles at bay, we should have some in boxes by the end of the season. The winter squash continue to do well and are at risk of taking over our El Norte field. Some of the Musque de Provence squashes we've seen hiding under the mounds of foliage are so big they look like overstuffed footstools! Now how are we going to get those into boxes???

A little detail on your produce this week:

Edamame (vegetable or green soy beans): Store beans on or off the branches in a bag in the crisper drawer and use within 1 week.  To use, separate beans from branches and cook in salted, boiling water in the pods or shelled, depending on how you plan to use them. In case this is a new vegetable for you, the pods of edamame are not edible, so be sure to shell them before eating.
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.

Potatoes: Keep unwashed potatoes in a cool, dark, dry place, such as a loosely closed paper bag in a cupboard. They will keep for weeks at room temperature, longer if you can provide their ideal temperature of 40 to 50 degrees. Beware: the low temperature of your refrigerator will convert the starch to sugars. Moisture causes potatoes to spoil, light turns them green, and proximity to onions causes them to sprout. (You can still use a potato that has sprouted, however; simply cut off the “eyes” before use.) Potatoes store best if they haven't been washed, so we send them out in their "dust jackets". Just before using, scrub potatoes well and cut off any sprouts or green skin. (Clean delicate new potatoes gently.) Peeling is a matter of preference.

Squash Blossoms: Squash blossoms are very perishable.  Arrange them on paper towel lined tray, cover with another cloth and then lightly wrap with plastic, refrigerate and use very soon.  Blossoms will keep for 1 week at 50ºF.  Open and inspect squash blossoms for insects before using them.  Pull off and discard the green calyxes surrounding the bottom of the blossom.  Clean blossoms by gently swishing them in a bowl of cold water.  Shake them dry.  Trim or snip out the anthers or style.  A few suggested uses for the squash blossoms:  as a garnish raw on crêpes, green salads, fruit salads, soups, and quesadillas; stuff blossoms with rice or minced meat and fry in batter; stuff blossoms with soft cheese, cooked and crumbled sausage, then bread and fry or bake; dip blossoms in a flour and cornstarch batter and fry until brown and crunchy; chop them up and add to quiche. 

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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