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)
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