Monday, July 22, 2019

BGF News - July 23, 2019-Vol. XLII, No.8

In this week’s box:

Cucumbers: Lemon (round, yellow), Marketmore (English-type) or Suyo Long (long, Asian)
Garlic: Music (uncured)
Lettuce: Kiribati or Muir (green) & Magenta (red)
Summer Squash: 8 Ball (green,round), Golden Glory (bright yellow zucchini) Patty Pan(scalloped white, green or yellow), Slik Pik (thin, yellow) or Zephyr (green & yellow)

and at least one of the following: (please see **NOTE  after "A Little Detail..." below)     
Cauliflower: Cheddar (golden yellow)
Cherry Tomato Mix
Eggplant: Orient Express (dark purple) and/or Orient Charm (neon lavender)
Okra: Bowling Red (dark red) and Candle Fire (light red)

For those with the Egg option [Full shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (asst. colors)
For those with the Herb option: sweet basil, anise hyssop, ginger mint

Featured Recipes:  ** indicates a BGF favorite 
Cucumber Sandwiches (thanks Sara T. for the recommendation!)

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 2.00" YAY!!

Boris enjoying his shower
Much of the past week was a balancing act between getting things done and keeping everyone safe. With the extreme heat & humidity, we alternated between field tasks and water, working for an hour and then taking mandatory water and shade breaks. We spent a fair amount of time hosing down the alpacas and sometimes even the crew! Thursday and Friday, the crew was sent home at lunch as it just wasn't safe or smart to work outside those afternoons. Despite the challenges, we did get some things accomplished including finishing the tomato mulching, weeding and pruning the high tunnel tomatoes, cultivating squashes, eggplant and peppers. We also thoroughly enjoyed an hour sitting in the barn stemming gooseberries during Wednesday's surprise storm that dropped the temperatures and gave us a much needed inch of rain. 
The calm after the storm

We received a 2nd inch during Saturdays storm and appreciated that temperature drop even more! Taking advantage of the improved conditions, we spent much of Monday prepping beds and transplanting fall cabbages and New Zealand spinach into the field.

Minnesota Midget melons
All of the residents of the farm have appreciated the moderation in the weather. The tomatoes continue to make slow but steady progress and we will keep sending them out in boxes as they are ready. The mini cantaloupes (Minnesota Midgets) are producing fruit at an amazing rate, the most we've ever seen. They are still a couple of weeks from being ripe, but they are looking wonderful and we can't wait to be able to share them with you. 

We are finally able to send out a new crop that we are pretty excited about. It is called Roselle, a member of the hibiscus family and a relative of okra. It produces an edible flower bud in areas with very long growing seasons, but here we are raising it as a tasty summer green that can be used raw or cooked. We were introduced to it by a farming family from Burundi, where it is a common crop. We've learned it is also popular in Thailand and Burma. So this is our veggie adventure for this week. We hope you enjoy it! 

A little detail on your produce this week:

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.

Garlic: still uncured, please store this garlic in the refrigerator in a sealed container or bag. Use in 2-3 weeks.

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.

Head Lettuce: We prefer to store heads wrapped in a cotton or linen dish towel, then placed in a plastic bag. This helps maintain a little bit of moisture, while keeping the leaves from touching the plastic to extend their "drawer-life".  Wash lettuce just before using. The inner-most leaves of the head are the sweetest, so save those for salad use and take advantage of the bigger, outside leaves for use on sandwiches or wraps.

Herbs (other than basil): Most herbs keep best in a glass of water in the refrigerator, loosely covered with a plastic bag. You can keep them in a glass or base on your kitchen counter for a couple of days if you change the water daily.

Purslane: Considered an invasive weed in many gardens, purslane is a valued green in many parts of the world. The plant is rich in vitamin E, vitamin C and beta carotene, and quite high in protein.  Most noteworthy of all, it is considered a better source of essential omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy plant.  Enjoy raw or cooked in any recipe calling for greens.   We particularly like it in salads, smoothies, cooked with eggs and as a lettuce replacement in tacos. Store in a paper towel-lined plastic bag in your crisper drawer and use 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."

Roselle: Store in a cloth or paper-lined plastic bag in the produce drawer of your refrigerator and use within a week.

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. These do not need to be peeled to use, just slice them up and go!

Tomatoes: always store whole tomatoes at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Once cut, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

A few other details: All of your GREENS will keep best if stored in a cloth or paper-lined 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 & Sky)

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