Tuesday, July 10, 2018

BGF News - July 10, 2018-Vol. XL, No.6

In this week’s box:

Basil: Genovese or Italian Large Leaf
Bean Mix: Carson (yellow) & Empress (green)
Carrots: Rainbow mix
Cucumber: Diva/Marketmore  (green, English), Suyo Long (long green, Asian)
                     or Lemon (round, yellow)
Green-top Onions:
Head Lettuce: Kiribati
Squash Blossoms
Summer Squash: Slik Pik (yellow), Zephyr (yellow & green), Golden Glory (yellow zucchini), 
                                Patty Pan (saucer-shaped, green/yellow/white) or 8 Ball (round, green)

and at least one of the following:
Eggplant: Orient Express
Okra: Bowling Red & Candle Fire
Snow Peas: Oregon Giant

For those with the Egg option [full shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (asst. colors)
For those with the Herb option: Thai basil, savory, sorrel

Featured Recipes:  ** indicates a BGF favorite 
Roberta's Roasted Green Onion Tops** see below
Tangy Cucumbers & Sweet Onions** see below

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 0.00"

Well, the past week has taken us through the full weather range, from hot and wet to delightfully cooler to hot and dry. It must be July on the farm! The crew was off for the July 4th holiday, but the rest of the week has been focused on weeding the cole crops (broccoli, cabbage ect), transplanting chard and lettuce, wrangling the tomatoes and harvesting summer squash and cucumbers. The high tunnel tomatoes were already trellised, but still require regular pruning and adding trellis lines. We are rather behind schedule on the field tomatoes and just got the end posts in yesterday, with interior posts and support lines to follow later this week. The garlic is telling us it is time to harvest, so that is another big task on the to-do list. 

Setting end posts for the tomato trellis

First harvest of our new Kiribati lettuce
Speaking of lettuce, we are super excited about the lettuce going out in today's delivery. It is a new variety that we are trialing and we think it is some of the prettiest, and more important, the sweetest summer lettuce we've every grown. It is from the Micronesian island of Kiribati and so far is handling the heat very well. We hope you enjoy it. 

We are also pleased to be sending out squash blossoms this week. We are so inundated with summer squash right now that we are enforcing a bit of a squash sabbatical which means you get to dig into the delight that is squash blossoms. If you haven't had them before, don't be intimidated, they are very easy to cook with and if you aren't up for stuffing them (which is simply divine), just chop them up and throw them into some scrambled eggs or an omelet. 

We are also sending out some extra cucumbers this week as bacterial wilt disease has started to run through the plants. This is spread by the cucumber beetles and for chemical-free producers, always heralds the end of the cuke season. So we wanted to be sure that you get your fill of cucumbers before the plants just suddenly wilt and die. It doesn't mean this is the last delivery of cukes, just that the end is in sight.

The CSA member Ice Cream Social is this Sunday, July 15th from 2 – 5pm at the farm. Come on out for an afternoon filled with fresh country air, homemade ice cream, farm-fresh desserts and a rousing match of water balloon volleyball. You should have received an "Evite" invitation via email last week. It would be very helpful to us if you would RSVP by this Friday so we know how much ice cream to make. We hope to see you on Sunday at the farm!

*Team Blue Gate-Market Opportunity*

Want to see another side of your farm? Join Team Blue Gate,  our group of volunteers who work with  Jill in the BGF tent during the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market season. We ask that interested individuals commit to at least 2 market dates over the course of the season and to be there for set-up, selling and tear down (basically 6am-12:30 or so). In appreciation for their time and efforts, volunteers earn a BGF T-shirt and a $30 credit at the booth that day. We have an awesome group and everyone seems to enjoy it, but we do have some open dates coming up. If you are interested in joining us, you can go to the online calendar here: 2018 BGF Market Team  and sign up for whenever works with your schedule.

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. We don't pre-wash basil as it degrades the quality. Basil should be rinsed just before using.

Carrots: These "mid-season" carrots are a little different than the candy-sweet gems of cool weather carrots. They are a little more strongly flavored, a little earthy. This makes them perfect for cooking and more complicated recipes, as some might not love them for fresh eating. Remove the leafy green tops, leaving about an inch of stems. Refrigerate dry, unwashed carrots in a plastic bag for two weeks or longer. Peel carrots or scrub carrots well with a stiff brush just before using. Trim off any green spots, which can taste bitter. When slicing or chopping carrots for cooking, be sure to make all the pieces relatively the same size; this will ensure an evenly cooked dish. Greens can be added to soup stock for flavor.

Cucumber: Store unwashed cucumbers in a sealed plastic bag in the vegetable crisper bin for about a week. Keep cucumbers tucked far away from tomatoes, apples, and citrus—these give off ethylene gas that accelerates cucumber deterioration. You can do a lot of fancy things to the skin of a cucumber, but when it is young, fresh (and unwaxed), it really only needs to be thoroughly washed. However, if the skin seems tough or bitter you can remove it; if the seeds are bulky, slice the cucumber lengthwise and scoop them out.

 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, then place in a plastic bag 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. Many people like to peel, salt, and drain their eggplant to draw out any bitter flavor; however, bitterness develops only in eggplant that has been stored for a while, so with farm-fresh specimens this is generally not necessary. Many recipes call for salting in order to make the vegetable less watery and more absorbent—much like draining tofu. Salting is not an essential step, but it can greatly enhance the taste and texture of your dish and is well worth the extra effort.

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."

Peas: We grow 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.

Squash Blossoms: 
Squash blossoms are very perishable.  Arrange them on paper towel lined tray, refrigerate and use within one day.  Blossoms will keep for 1 week at 50ºF (10°C) and 2 to 4 days at 40ºF (4°C).  Chilling injury will occur if held for several days at temperatures below 50ºF (10°C). You can also freeze, can, pickle, or dry squash blossoms.  If cooked, blossoms will store in the freezer for 6 to 8 months.  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.

Summer Squash/Zucchini: Refrigerate unwashed zucchini and summer squash for up to a week and a half in a perforated plastic bag or in a sealed plastic container lined with a kitchen towel.
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 Luci & Indigo)

Roberta's Roasted Green Onion Tops

Use scissors to slice the tops uniformly so they cook evenly. Then coat the tops with olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Cook at 350 degrees for 10 - 20 minutes depending on the size and how crispy you want them. 
We eat them as appetizers with cheese or use as an ingredient in eggs, etc.

Recipe Source: CSA member Roberta P.

Tangy Cucumbers and Sweet Onions

1 large Suyo Long cucumber or 2 medium cucumbers, peeled
1 small to medium sweet onion
2/3 c. cider or seasoned rice vinegar
¼ c. water
2 – 4 tbs. sugar (to taste)
¼ - ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 tbs chopped fresh fennel leaves (or dill), optional

Thinly slice cucumbers and onions. Separate onions into rings.
In a medium bowl with a tight fitting lid, combine remaining ingredients. Stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add cucumbers and onions to bowl and stir to coat. Seal lid and place in refrigerator for at least an hour before using. We eat this as a side dish, with the vegetables simply lifted out of the vinegar mixture when serving.  It can also be used as a condiment on sandwiches & burgers, as a salad topping or chopped into egg, chicken or ham salad.

Recipe Source: Blue Gate Farm

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