Tuesday, June 2, 2020

BGF News - June 2, 2020 - Vol. XLV, No. 1

In this week’s box:

Baby Choi: Joi (white stems) and/or Shanghai Green (lt. green stems)
Golden Oyster Mushrooms (in plastic clamshell)
Green Garlic
Head Lettuce: asst varieties
Kale Mix  (large mixed leaf bundle)
Sorrel (bundle of long, dark green leaves with a tart, lemony flavor)

 and perhaps one of the following: (please see **NOTE  after "A Little Detail..." below)     
Snap or Snow Peas

For those with the Egg option [full & half shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (asst. colors)
For those with the Herb option: Herb share will begin in a couple of weeks as herbs mature

Featured Recipes:  
BGF Favorite Kale Salad (see recipe below)
BGF Sorrel Soup (see recipe below)
Bok Choy and Oyster Mushroom Stir Fry

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in May: 3.45"

Welcome to the first delivery of the 2020 CSA season and the start of weekly newsletters!  The boxes feel a little light at this time of the season and you will notice the abundance of greens and not quite as much variety as we expect later in the season.  This is part of the joy of eating fresh, seasonal foods.  As the season continues the weight and variety of the contents will increase with the arrival of heavier crops including beans, tomatoes, potatoes and squash.  One thing that does remain somewhat consistent is the presence of some cosmetic damage caused by our local insects.  This is an indication that we are truly a chemical-free farm.  We try to keep the insect population under control, but they are simply a fact of life in a naturally grown system.  We hope you can overlook some minor leaf damage and we will do our best to keep it to a minimum.  Also we do our best to provide you with clean produce, but you may find a little dirt here and there or, yikes, possibly an insect.  We do wash the produce and sort it to the best of our ability, but we are processing a significant volume and it is possible that at some point you will find a little “nature” in your box.  If and when it happens to you, we apologize ahead of time and hope you will forgive the oversight.  Remember, while we do clean the produce, it is always good practice to wash your vegetables before using.

Our new CSA tote drying station
A bit on our efforts be more mindful producers. Over the years we have tried to minimize our use of plastics and single-use products both in our field practices  and in the packing shed/kitchen. We now use long-term reusable totes for your CSA deliveries both for sanitation and low waste. You'll notice they have the name "Grinnell Heritage Farm" stamped on the sides. When our friends from GHF "retired" from farming earlier this year, we purchased their CSA totes. They met a need that we had, filled a need that GHF had and allowed us to not buy new plastic. We use paper-pulp egg cartons not plastic or styrofoam and we have switched over to twist-ties or rubber bands on products that we used to bag like chard, kale and lettuce bouquets. We haven't yet found a good solution for our baby greens like salad mix and arugula but we're always looking. So how can you help us on this journey?

Clean & Return to Us
Paper egg cartons (clean ones only, please)
Plastic pint/quart containers
Plastic or paper berry boxes

Please don't return plastic produce bags or twist ties, we can't reuse those in the packing shed but we encourage you to wash and reuse them in your own home. The less waste we create, the less we have to clean up later.

Do you have questions or suggestions on our use of packaging materials? Please let us know!

A big thank you to our pick-up site hosts: Peace Tree Brewing Co - Des Moines and the Grand Theater in Knoxville.  Over the course of the season please consider supporting these independent, local businesses who offer us a great place to deliver your produce.

Straw mulch vs ground cover cloth
It has been a busy spring on the farm with decent cycles of wet and dry weather that has put us far ahead of where we were at this time last year. The heat forecast for the coming week has us a bit concerned about our spring crops which don't appreciate 90° weather and tend to bolt, which ends their use as food crops, though the chickens love it. This past week we got the rest of the field tomatoes planted (and mulched) as well as basil and more zucchini. We also sowed more choi and arugula and re-sowed a failed edamame crop. 

The Purple Prom Dress pounds posts
We were lucky to miss the 4" rain last week so were able to get a lot of cultivating done, in all it's forms, hand weeding, hoeing, wheel hoeing, walking tractor and traditional tractor. Things are really starting to look like summer out there. Today we installed the trellises for the cucumbers to share with the peas. Many more crops to transplant and sow in the coming days, but the sunroom (which is our plant nursery) is now empty, with all of the plants moved out to the tunnel to get hardened off or already planted in the field.

Golden Oyster Mushroom
Another bright spot to our recent moisture...a huge flush of golden oyster mushrooms in our timber! This is the 2nd year we have been able to offer mushrooms as part of the CSA and we hope you are as excited about them as we are. 

 We hope you enjoy this first delivery and are looking forward to this season as much as we are.

We hope you also enjoy the weekly online newsletter. One of the goals for this format is so you can go to the blog/newsletter at any time and search for specific vegetables, that should allow you to see any archived recipes for that item. It also allows us to include photos and links to more recipes and information. As we mentioned in the recent newsletter, in addition to the regular BGF Facebook page, we also have a Facebook page for CSA members. You can find it here: Blue Gate Farm Community. If you have a Facebook account we encourage you to post recipes, photos and questions about your weekly produce box adventures. If you don't have an account, don't worry, you can still see/read anything on the page, but you won't be able to post anything. We will keep an eye on the page and try to answer questions in a timely manner, but really this is to encourage the "Community" aspect of CSA and to provide you all a venue to share and connect with each other.

A little detail on your produce this week:

Asparagus: Keeps best stored upright in a glass with about 1" of water, in the refrigerator. Delicious raw or cooked. 

Choi (a.k.a. - pac choi, bok choy or pok choy) is a member of the cabbage family and is a traditional Asian stir-fry vegetable.  Both the stems and leaves of choi can be used and are especially tasty in cooked recipes.  If cooking them, separate the leaves and stems, and begin cooking stems first to avoid overcooking the more tender greens. You can also use the leaves like any green-leafy vegetable and the stems like celery.  We tend to use choi leaves as a sandwich wrap, or just roughly chop the whole thing and sauté with garlic and/or onion.  Cook until stems are tender and dress with a little seasoned rice vinegar. Store choi loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in your produce drawer.

Green Garlic: is immature or "teenage" garlic and should be stored in the refrigerator, where it will keep for 5-7 days. Wrap the green garlic in a damp paper towel and place it in a plastic bag; or for a non-plastic alternative, stick the green garlic in a tall glass with some water in the bottom. You can use all of the tender white and light green parts in recipes calling for fresh garlic. Dark green leaves can be frozen and saved for stock, or used to add flavor to a soup (pop them in whole, like a bay leaf).

Oyster Mushrooms: To maximize the shelf life of raw mushrooms, refrigerate them in a paper bag; do not wrap in plastic or store in airtight container, as this will speed spoilage.  Properly stored, raw whole mushrooms will usually keep well for 4 to 7 days in the fridge. To use, trim off the stems as they are tough and either discard them or save to make a vegetable stock.

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 & Sky)

BGF's Favorite Kale Salad  

Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 tablespoons dried cranberries
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
3 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 bunches kale (about 1 pound), center ribs and stems removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, (if using salted, cut down on the 1tsp salt above)
Parmesan cheese shavings
Place cranberries in small bowl; add balsamic vinegar, seasoned rice vinegar, honey oil and salt and allow to soak several hours (overnight is even better).
Place kale in a large bowl, add cranberry mixture and toss to coat. Let marinate 20 minutes at room temperature, tossing occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese shavings and sunflower seeds just before serving.

Recipe Source:  adapted from an epicurious recipe by Dan Barber 

Sorrel Soup

2 C. Chopped Sorrel Leaves
3 Tbs. Butter
1 Med. Onion-chopped
1 Qt. Chicken Stock
½ lb Potatoes-peeled and cubed
1 Tsp. Salt
1 C. Milk
2 Tbs. Flour
1 Egg Yolk
1/8 Tsp. Nutmeg

In a medium saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Add chicken stock and sorrel and cook, stirring for 10 min.  Add potatoes and salt. Bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer for 30 min. Combine egg yolk and flour, then add to milk and mix well. Add egg mixture and nutmeg to soup, stirring to combine. Heat through, do not boil.  Delicious served with French bread.

Indigo, Luci & Sky

No comments: