Tuesday, August 25, 2020

BGF NEWS - AUGUST 25 , 2020 - VOL. XLV, NO. 13

In this week’s box:

Beans: Empress, Fortex and Golden Goal
Garlic: Northern White
Hot Peppers: Wenk's Yellow Hots (in paper bag)
Jubilee Cherry Tomato Mix (see 7/21 newsletter for details)
Mouse Apples: see "What's up on the farm" below for details
Onion: Red Carpet
Peppers: asst. (see 8/11 newsletter for details)
Roselle: reddish-green, star shaped leaves with tart flavor
Tomato: Slicers (see 7/28 newsletter for details)

and at least one of the following: (please see **NOTE  after "A Little Detail...)     
Broccoli: Gypsy
Cantaloupe: Minnesota Midget
Cauliflower: Goodman
Cucumbers: Suyo Long, Lemon, Marketmore or Striped Armenian
Eggplant: Orient Express
Mini Bell Peppers: bite-sized, sweet red, yellow & orange peppers
Okra: Bowling Red & Candle Fire
Summer Squash: see descriptions in "A little detail"

For those with the Egg option [Full & Half Shares]: one dozen free-range eggs
For those with the Herb option: sweet basil, parsley, sorrel

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 0.00"

Welcome to our annual Salsa Box! Or Sauce Box if you prefer. Every year when the tomato harvest is at it's heaviest, we "stuff" as many of them into the boxes as possible to give folks the opportunity to stock up on some salsa or sauce. 
We  try to include recipes to appeal to lots of difference salsa tastes, but always include our favorite: Mezair (a fresh Kurdish salsa). As many of you may know, the "FarmHer-in-charge" isn't particularly fond of cilantro so we always substitute parsley/par-cel or mint and sometimes sorrel or roselle in our salsa recipes. If you have the same issue, we encourage you to try one of these alternatives. If you do like cilantro, well, that's ok too.

Even the produce is grumpy!
So the weather is the big story again this week and no one is very happy about it. We are dust-dry and like all of you, we are HOT (which translates to crabby when you work outside). We are doing the bulk of our physical work in the mornings when it is cooler and taking LOTS of shade and water breaks. Then we spend the heat of the day doing tasks like cleaning garlic & onions and washing totes and containers. 
Drip tape on germinating turnips
Over the past week we finally got caught up on all our seeding and transplanting chores so now we are pretty much running laps from one irrigation controller to another throughout the daylight hours trying to get all our newly seeded crops to germinate and to keep all our new transplants alive. It's not an easy task and we've pulled out all our irrigation equipment to try and keep up. 
It is rewarding to turn on the mini sprayers on the newly sown greens crops and see all the birds and butterflies flock to the area. We even have a cadre of toads that pop out of the ground when we turn on the sprayers. It feels a bit like a Disney movie in the evenings with the low sun angle lighting up the water spray and the small wildlife flitting around it.
Though as much as the irrigation systems are keeping things alive right now, many of the crops are not amused by our current weather and lack of "natural" rain. The tomatoes, peppers and okra could kind of care less, though we will see a break in tomato production in about 2 weeks as tomato pollen sterilizes above 95°. But the summer squash, beans and lettuce are seriously unhappy. We're hoping if we can get them to this weekend and get some real rain, they might feel better about things, but they may not be up to the challenge. The cantaloupe are also failing fast. We had a good harvest of them this week, so we're hoping to be able to get them out to everyone at least once before the vines succumb. 
Asian Pears, aka "Mouse Apples"
But all is not gloom and doom. Two bright spots on the crop front today! One is that the edamame is FINALLY filling pods, which means we hope to be able to send it out in boxes next week! And our silly thing for the week, you might have noticed "Mouse Apples" on the list for this week. No, that name really isn't a thing, we just made it up. What they are is tiny Asian pears. One of our trees was just loaded with fruit, way too much for the tree to bear. So we did some aggressive fruit thinning and ended up with half a crate full of these tasty little Asian pears. What in the heck am I going to do with hundreds of little tiny "Mouse Apples"? You are my answer! I know they aren't much to look at, but they are fun, and very tasty, so we hope you can enjoy them and at the very least, get a laugh out of them.

 Meet the Crew: Rebekah
This week you meet Rebekah-the youngest, yet tallest of the sisters. I am also the one that keeps the others on their toes by bringing levity~dare I say jocularity~ to the farm.
Contrary to popular belief, I actually enjoy pulling weeds in the warm sunshine with the dog crew sweating along with us. Conversely, I would be much happier if I didn't have to spend another single second of time with a wheel-hoe EVER AGAIN!
My FAVORITE part of working at Blue Gate Farm is the dreamy, stimulating sodas created by our loving Mistress of BGF. They do indeed strengthen the soul and I firmly believe they make me taller!
Gathering majestic purple Islander peppers as they transform into a glowing sunset orange always makes me smile. I also enjoy my time harvesting the many sweet and savory herbs that Jill grows. May it be known from this point forward that creepy, little ticks have most definitely been cast off my "favorite" list, but as they are a part of the "nature" of the farm, I tolerate them in order to bring a plethora of nutritious vegetables variety to our faithful CSA members!

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 or clamshell, 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.

Beans:Fresh beans are an easy "store."  Just leave them in their plastic bag and keep them in the produce drawer.  Can last up to 2 weeks.

Broccoli & Cauliflower: Wrap loosely in a plastic bag and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator for up to a week. Immediately before cooking, soak, head down, in cold, salted water (1 teaspoon salt to a 8 cups of water) for 5 minutes. Any [organic] critters will float to the top where you can rescue them or allow them to suffer a salty death. (Note: If you soak broccoli/cauliflower in salt water before storing, it will become too rubbery and too wilted to enjoy.) Slice the juicy, edible stems and use them wherever florets are called for. Peel particularly thick skin before using.

Cantaloupe:  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. It is best not to cut a cantaloupe until you are ready to eat it. If you need to return cut melon to the refrigerator, do not remove the seeds from the remaining sections as they keep the flesh from drying out. Use within 3-5 days.
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: 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.
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.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! Our varieties: 8 Ball (green,round), Golden Glory (bright yellow zucchini),  Patty Pan(scalloped white, green or yellow), Slik Pik (thin, yellow) or Zephyr (green & yellow)

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 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)

Indigo, Luci & Sky

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