Tuesday, September 22, 2020

BGF NEWS - September 22 , 2020 - VOL. XLV, NO. 17

In this week’s box:

Baby Turnips: Hakurei
Celery: Chinese Pink
Jubilee Cherry Tomato Mix (see 7/21 newsletter for details)
Kale: asst bouquets
Lettuce: Magenta or Muir
Peppers: asst. (see 8/11 newsletter for details)
Tomato: Slicers (see 7/28 newsletter for details)
Winter Squash: Acorn (Thelma Sanders) or Delicata

and perhaps one of the following: (please see **NOTE  after "A Little Detail...)     
Broccoli: Gypsy
Cauliflower: Goodman
Eggplant: Orient Express
Mini Bell Peppers: bite-sized, sweet red, yellow & orange peppers
Okra: Bowling Red and Candle Fire (final harvest)
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, sorrel, savory

Featured Recipes:  
BGF New Favorite Kale Salad (recipe at the end of the 7/7/20 blog post)
Skillet Greens with Cumin and Tomatoes (use cherry tomatoes for this one)
Turnip and Cherry Tomato Salad 

What’s up on the farm?


Precipitation in the past week: 0.00" 

Happy Autumnal Equinox to you all! This is one of my favorite days of the year. I've always felt like it's the tipping point towards the "backside" backside of the calendar, a time of slower pace, hearty foods and crisp, clean air. It's a time of reflection on the farm, as we start looking back over the growing season to access our successes and our failures and to decide what crops, products and processes to keep or to retire. It quickly morphs into looking forward as we make our plans for next season and start placing seed and supply orders. It's also our wedding anniversary and this year marks 24 years of marriage for us. It's hard now to imagine what those crazy kids were thinking all those years ago, but it sure wasn't, "hey, let's move back to Iowa and become vegetable farmers!" And yet, here we are. No regrets, well, not many.

This past week we returned to our irrigating rotation. Our fall crops loved the nearly 3 inches of rain a couple weeks ago and are continuing to enjoy the cooler temperatures, but we are already dry on the soil surface with little to no rain in the forecast, so a-watering we will go! Last week we cleared more spent crops and transplanted chard and a couple beds of head lettuce, so the irrigation is particularly important for these new crops We also sowed some additional Asian greens and another planting of arugula.

In preparation for this week's delivery, we finally went out and harvested all the winter squash beds. I had been avoiding this task because we had a pretty disappointing squash year (after last year's bumper crop) with most of the plants dying off from insect pressure long before they could set a good crop. Once it was clear that those plots weren't going to produce much, we quit paying attention to them, so the weeds took over and served to hide the frustrating lack of squash. Well today was the day of truth, we waded into the tall grass to see what we could find. On some varieties, it was exactly what we expected, almost nothing. On a couple of others, it was an "ok" harvest.
 The crew did manage to get in one good round of their favorite annual farm game, Squash Your Boss!
"Squash the Boss"
So we are sending out some squash in today's boxes. They are good squash, but given their short plant life, I am not expecting them to store very long, so please plan to use then in the next couple of weeks.

We plan to spend the rest of the week clearing the high tunnel eggplant and tomatoes and getting those beds replanted with the final fall crops.
And speaking of "final" we've had some questions about the end of the CSA season, so here's the answer. The last CSA delivery of the season is scheduled to be on October 13th, so we have three more weeks after today. After that, you can order our produce and products via our weekly VegEmail deliveries through the end of October. Starting in November, we will move to bi-weekly deliveries that will continue throughout the winter until the start of the farmers market season.

And a final note, while we're on the subject of "the end." About two weeks ago we started seeing the first glimpses of purple flowers amongst all the fall yellows.
Frost flowers
Uh oh, those are New England asters, the plants my grandpa always called "frost flowers". He believed they were the indicators of frost and when you saw them blooming it meant the first frost would follow in two weeks. We've not found the "2 week" measurement to be particularly accurate, but they are indeed the harbingers of the end of the growing season.

A little detail on your produce this week:

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.

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. 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. 

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.

Scallions (green onions)- are best kept upright in a glass with about 1" of water in it, more like flowers than vegetables. Loosely cover the tops with plastic and you will be amazed at how long they will keep. We like to throw a handful of chopped scallions into nearly any savory dish, right near the end of the cooking time.

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)


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

Turnips: keep best if separated from their greens.  Greens are stored in a plastic bag and can be cooked like mustard or collard greens (you can add them in with your Braising Greens Mix).  Trimmed roots can go into a lidded container or zip-close bag. These aren't your grandma's turnips. These are a sweet, Japanese salad variety that is particularly tasty for fresh eating. They will still work great in cooked dishes, but we love to eat them raw, often right out of hand, like an apple. One of the farm crew's favorite mid-field snacks.

 Winter Squash:  Store winter squash in a cool, dry, dark place with good ventilation for up to a month, depending on the variety. Once squash has been cut, you can wrap the pieces in plastic and refrigerate them for five to seven days. To make it easier to prep winter squash for your recipe, try the prebaking method: pierce the squash to allow heat to escape while it is in the oven, then bake the squash whole at 350° F until it is just barely tender to the poke of the finger, 20 to 30 minutes. This softens the shell and makes cutting and peeling much easier. 

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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