Wednesday, December 21, 2011

BGF News 12/20/11

In this week’s box:
Carrots: Bolero (orange), Napoli (orange), Parisienne (little orange), Red Dragon (red), Amarillo (yellow)
Chard: Bright Lights Mix
Choi: baby
Cabbage: Arrowhead (conical) or Gonzales (round)
Garlic: Hardneck
Kale Mix: Red Russian, Beira, & Beedy’s Camden
Lemon Thyme
Tapestry Salad Mix
Turnips: Hakurei (white) & Scarlet Queen (pink)

For those with the Egg option: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Cheese option: Robiola & Roasted Red Pepper Chevre

Featured Recipe(s) (see below):
Lemon Garlic Dipping Oil
White Bean & Bacon Soup with Kale

Precipitation to date this month: Rain:2.9”

What’s up on the farm?

Here we are at the final delivery of 2011 and what a crazy, whirlwind season it has been. Never before have we still been harvesting produce, wearing nothing more than sweatshirts and jeans, from the fields the week before Christmas, a treat, but a bit surreal.  It has felt more like late October than mid-December, but I suspect that by the end of today, that may change.

We hosted a couple of groups on the farm in the past week, students from Marshalltown Community College’s Sustainable Ag. Program and a class from Maharishi University came out for a tour and talk about our experience in starting and running a small farm. They were bright, inquisitive students with lots of good questions. We appreciate the opportunity to share and learn in turn from the farmers of the future.

The warm weather also pushed us to get a few more “end of the season” chores done and we were able to get most of the row covers struck from the field and stored away before last week’s rains started. There are still a number of tasks on the outdoor “to-do list” but we are making progress working through them. Woodcutting is an ongoing winter activity and now that the wood-fired boiler is up and going again, they wood cutting has begun in earnest. Otherwise we are starting to hunker down for the winter ahead and looking forward to the New Year and its lineup of conferences and other “educating the farmer” activities.

We have started getting questions about sign up for the 2012 season. We will start the registration process in late January for the veteran members.  Look for the January edition of BGF News that will have more details.  We also plan to continue egg sales periodically through the winter – if you wish to be on that notification list, please let us know.

We want to thank you for joining us for the season and we wish you all health, joy and peace in upcoming year.

A few details on new stuff in the box:
Everything but the garlic should go into plastic bags and be stored in your refrigerator.
The cabbage is the only new thing this time around. It was a late harvest from the field and has some random bad leaves tucked in the inner layers, not apparent from the outside. Simply remove the offending spots and enjoy the sweet tender-crispness of late, cold-weather cabbage.
The garlic is still tasty, but you may find a few cloves that are starting to sprout. Simply flick the green bit out with the tip of a knife (it’s a bit bitter) and use your garlic usual.

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures?  Follow us at our blog at and on Facebook (just search Blue Gate Farm) and “Like” us.

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 Blue & Luci)

Lemon-Garlic Oil with Herbs
This dipping oil is equally good with bread or just about any grilled meat or fish.
Yields about 3/4 cup.

2 small lemons
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 Tbs. minced garlic
Two 3- to 4-inch sprigs fresh rosemary
3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

With a vegetable peeler, peel the zest from the lemons in strips. Remove any white pith from the strips of zest, if necessary.

In a small saucepan heat the lemon zest, oil, garlic, and rosemary over low heat until the oil just begins to bubble, 3 to 5 minutes. The garlic should not brown, or it will taste bitter. Transfer the mixture to a small heatproof bowl and let cool to room temperature. Remove the zest and rosemary sprigs with a fork or tongs. Stir in the parsley.

You can make and refrigerate this dipping oil (hold the parsley) up to a day ahead. When ready to serve, bring it to room temperature and stir in the herbs.

Recipe Source:  Fine Cooking 93, pp. 43

White Bean & Bacon Soup with Kale
2 TBS olive oil
10 oz applewood smoked slab bacon, cut into ¾” cubes
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 qts chicken stock, homemade or low sodium
1 pound dried white beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
3 large thyme sprigs
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
coarse salt & freshly ground pepper
1 head escarole or kale, cut crosswise into strips

  1. Heat oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat and cook bacon until crisp, with a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate.
  2. Add onions and shallot to pan, cook until translucent and soft, about 8 minutes, add garlic, cook 1 minute more.
  3. Return bacon to pan. Stir in stock, beans, cayenne, and 1 tsp salt; season with pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 30 minutes. Uncover and cook until beans are tender, about 90 minutes more.
  4. Stir in escarole or kale. Cook 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Recipe source: Martha Stewert Living, March 2007.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

BGF News 12/06/11

In this week’s box:
Broccoli Raab: Piracicaba and/or Brocolini
Choi: Win-win
Kohlrabi: Eder (green) and Kolibri (purple)
Radishes: asst.
Spinach Mix: Bordeaux (red stems), Olympia, Space & Tyee
Tapestry Salad Mix
Turnips: Hakurei & Scarlet Queen

For those with the Egg option: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Cheese option: Classic Chevre & Cranberry Pecan Chevre

Featured Recipe(s) (see below):
Mizuna Greens Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Sliced Apple
Garlicy Mizuna with Koh Reh Gu Su
Broccoli Raab, Garlic Scallions and Pasta

Precipitation last month: Rain 2.5”
Snow: 3.5”
Precipitation to date this month: Rain:1.8

What’s up on the farm?

The cold weather finally started to catch up with us in the past couple of weeks.  The forecast of lows in the teens brought a rush of early harvesting of field crops for today’s delivery.  You may notice some freeze damage on the broccoli raab, kohlrabi and mizuna, but hopefully nothing too serious.  There is still much remaining out in the fields, but we can only store so much volume, so there is always some end of the season loss out there.  The high tunnel crops continue to thrive, though their growth is greatly slowed by the diminishing daylight hours.  Nonetheless, they should continue to provide delicious, high quality produce for much of the winter.

Around the farm, the dogs are now sporting fancy blaze orange collars, as the hunting season is upon us and the traffic on our gravel road has certainly increased.  Electrical work continues in the packing shed and we have finally settled on a layout for the produce processing line that will take up the bulk of the interior space.  The new boiler “bungalow” is complete and we fire up the boiler for the first time this season, later this week. Thus will begin our annual woodcutting chores as well.

A few details on new stuff in the box:
Everything can go into plastic bags and store in your produce drawers.  Remember that the leaves of raab, kohlrabi, radish and turnips can all be used as greens in your favorite recipes.  The kohlrabi leaves can be used raw, save the others for cooked recipes.
Broccoli Raab: broccoli raab is not related to broccoli.  It is, however, closely related to turnips which is probably why the leaves look like turnip greens.  Lots of broccoli-like buds appear here and there but a head never forms.  It is grown as much for its long-standing, tasty mustard-like tops as for their multiple small florets with clusters of broccoli-like buds.  The stems are generally uniform in size (hence cook evenly) and need not be peeled.  Clean it as you would other greens, removing the bottom portion of the stems which appear tough (sometimes the stems are tougher than other times depending on the age of the raab).  They stems can be removed up to where the leaves begin, and sautéed before adding the leaves to the pan.  This vegetable is a source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium.
Mizuna: Mizuna contains vitamin C, folic acid, and antioxidants.  Like other brassica vegetables, it contains glucosinolates, which may inhibit the development of certain cancers.  Mizuna can be used fresh in a salad or cooked in eggs, stir-fries, soups, or steamed dishes.

Upcoming Events:
Downtown Winter Market: Friday & Saturday, December 16th & 17th, Capitol Square
Next (and final) CSA Delivery: Tuesday, December 20th  

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures?  Follow us at our blog at and on Facebook (just search Blue Gate Farm) and “Like” us.

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 Blue & Luci)

Mizuna Greens Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Sliced Apple
1/2 bunch mizuna, cleaned and roughly chopped
1 pomegranate, halved and seeds taken out (or 1/2 cup store bought seeds)
1 apple, sliced into thin wedges

Mizuna Salad Dressing Recipe
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
salt and pepper, to taste

For the dressing, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, honey and salt & pepper. Set aside.

Place mizuna greens and apple slices in a large bowl. Cut pomegranate in half and hit the back side with a rolling pin (or other device) to release seeds, see photo above. Pour in dressing and toss well. Arrange salad on serving plates.

Yield: 4 servings

Recipe Source:

Garlicy Mizuna with Koh Reh Gu Su
1 bunch of Mizuna
1 garlic clove
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 lemon
Koh Reh Gu Su (we use garlic chili sauce or sriracha, substitute with your favorite hot sauce)
Sea salt & Pepper
1. Wash the mizuna. Fill a large bowl with water, and gently shake the mizuna in the bowl to release any dirt of grime. Dry thoroughly by patting with a paper towel. Cut into 4-inch pieces.
2. Mince up a garlic clove. Heat olive oil over medium in a large saute pan, and throw in garlic – cook until aromatic. Throw in mizuna and stir fry.
3. When the mizuna begins to wilt, sprinkle in a pinch of sea salt, grind some pepper, and splash a generous amount of koh reh guu su. Stir fry until mizuna wilts to half its original amount.
4. Plate, and squeeze some lemon juice.

Recipe Source:

Broccoli Raab, Garlic Scallions and Pasta
1 medium onion, diced
1 garlic scallion( green garlic), sliced diagonally (or garlic chives, optional)
4-6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch broccoli raab, heavy stems removed and chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 to 1/2 lb Galletti Pasta (or other shaped pasta)

Prepare vegetables
Cover bottom of a skillet with olive oil, saute onions until translucent.
Prepare pasta while cooking vegetables.
Add scallion, garlic, and red pepper, toss.
Add broccoli raab and wine. Saute until tender, stirring and tossing frequently.
Toss with cooked and drained pasta

Recipe Source:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

BGF News 11/22/11

Blue Gate Farm News

Volume XVI, Number 2 – November 22, 2011

In this week’s box:
Baby Beets: Chioggia and/or Golden
Braising Greens Mix: Osaka Purple Mustard & Senposai
Broccoli: Marathon
Carrots: Bolero (orange), Napoli (orange), Parisienne (little orange), Red Dragon (red), Amarillo (yellow)
Chard: Bright Lights Mix
Chinese Cabbage (napa)
Hot Peppers: Ancho Gigantea
Kale Mix: Red Russian, Beira, & Beedy’s Camden
Shallots: Ambition (tan) & Prisma (red)
Sweet Peppers:asst
Sweet Potatoes: Beauregard & Georgia Jet
Tapestry Salad Mix

For those with the Egg option: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Cheese option: Blackberry-Sage infused Chevre & Classic Feta

Featured Recipe(s) (see below):   
Chorizo and Greens Quiche 
Creamy Braising Greens Soup
Roasted Baby Beets
Sweet Potato, Kale and Cheese Soup
Black Bean Soup with Pan-Roasted Poblano Peppers
Shallot Vinaigrette

Precipitation last month: .6”
Precipitation to date this month: Rain:2.25” (and counting)
Snow: 3.5”

What’s up on the farm?

Things are definitely slowing down as we reach the back side of November.  The majority of the garden chores are done, though there is still a lot of produce in the fields.  Our greatest challenge now is keeping the row covers on those crops and harvesting them for as long as possible.  After the surprise 3.5” of heavy, wet snow two weeks ago, all of the row covers were completely flattened so once the snow melted off we had to go out and reset nearly every hoop (that adds up to nearly 400 hoops).  It wasn’t a very pleasant job and we are really glad that that situation is a rare one!  And speaking of row covers and surprises, we were afraid the 20° lows last week would be too much for the Chinese cabbage so they were all harvested off and stored in the cooler.  That is why you are getting them in your boxes again this week, as there isn’t room to keep them all until the December delivery.  Our new favorite use of the Chinese cabbage is to shred it finely and add to homemade chicken soup at the last minute.  The added flavor and bulk puts it right over the top!  The cooler space issue is also why you are getting peppers this week.  There is only so much space, so you get to reap the benefits of our storage shortage!  The less-than-pleasant weather has encouraged us to get a number of indoor chores done as well, including re-claiming the sunroom from its mid-summer disaster status, book-keeping and even a little fiber spinning.

A few details on new stuff in the box:
Everything except the shallots and sweet potatoes can go into plastic bags and store in your produce drawers.
Hot Peppers: these are a poblano-type and are the peppers traditionally used for chile rellenos.  They are perfect for cutting in half, removing the innards and filling with cheese, rice, meat or anything else and baking.
Carrots: remove tops before storing them in a plastic bag in the fridge.  These cold-weather carrots are one of the favorite things that we grow all year.  You just can’t beat their sweet flavor.
Baby beets: yes, we know these are pretty small, but they are truly a gourmet treat at this stage (roots and leaves both) and we were afraid that the upcoming colder temperatures would damage them before the next delivery, so you get to enjoy them now.  The same is true with the broccoli, the heads are very young, but better to get a little bit to enjoy now than to lose the chance due to an overnight low!
Shallots: the grown-up cousins of onions, shallots have a rich flavor that really shines in soups, sauces, salad dressings and egg dishes.  Store in a cool, dark place with good air circulation.
Sweet Potatoes: sweet potatoes don’t like water, so for best storage, don’t wash until ready to use.  Store in a room-temperature area and unlike Irish potatoes, they don’t need to be kept in the dark.

Upcoming Events:
Downtown Winter Market: Friday & Saturday, December 16th & 17th, Capitol Square
Next CSA Delivery: Tuesday, December 6

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures?  Follow us at our blog at and on Facebook (just search Blue Gate Farm) and “Like” us.

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 Blue & Luci)

Chorizo and Greens Quiche
  Serves: 6-8
1 unbaked pie crust (homemade, bought, whatever you like)
1/2 pound chorizo (taken out of the casings if that's how you bought it)
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 cups roughly chopped greens (beet greens, radish greens, etc)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup shredded cheddar

Preheat your oven 375 degrees.

Place your pie crust in a 9-inch pie pan. Prick the bottom with a fork. Cover the dough with a sheet of parchment paper. Fill the crust with pie weights or dried beans. Place into your preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes until the crust is a touch golden and partially baked. Take out of the oven, set aside to cool on a baking race. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees.

In a large skillet oven medium heat, brown your chorizo, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and set aside.

In that same skillet, over medium heat again, add your onions and cook until tender. Add your teaspoon of minced garlic to the pan and cook until fragrant. You can now add your greens to the mix. Salt and pepper to taste and then add in your crushed red pepper. Cook the mixture until greens are soft and softly wilted. Set aside to cool.

Now, in a large bowl, beat together eggs, egg yolk, milk, heavy cream, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Next, add the chorizo, greens, and cheddar cheese to the egg mixture and stir until combined.

Pour the mixture into your cooled, partially-baked pie crust. Place into the oven and bake until the top is golden brown and the quiche is set in the middle. This will take about 30-35 minutes.

Allow to cool five minutes before serving.

Creamy Braising Greens Soup
1  slice thick-cut bacon, diced
1  large onion, peeled and diced
1  large carrot, peeled and diced
2  cloves garlic, minced
1/2  pound sausage, dried chorizo or smoked sausage, diced
6  medium potatoes, peeled and diced
7 1/2  cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 1/2  cups mixed braising greens, such as kale, Swiss chard, mustard greens and dandelion greens, thoroughly washed, stems removed, and cut into very fine strips
1/2  cup heavy cream
1/2  teaspoon kosher salt
1/2  teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
Coarsely ground black pepper
Sauté bacon in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside, reserving drippings in pan. Crumble bacon when cool.
Add onion and carrot to pan; cook over medium heat until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and sausage; cook, stirring frequently, until sausage is lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes.
Add potatoes and broth; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes.
Add greens, cream and salt and continue to simmer until soup is thoroughly heated, about 5 minutes. Add hot sauce, if using, and black pepper to taste.
Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with reserved bacon.
Recipe Source:

Roasted Baby Beets
2 pounds trimmed red and/or yellow baby beets or small beets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large orange
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons thinly sliced shallot
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. If using small beets, cut them into 1- to 1-1/2-inch wedges. Place beets in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil; toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to combine. Cover with foil and roast for 25 minutes. Uncover and roast about 15 minutes more or until beets are tender; cool. If using small beets, peel the beets. (Baby beets do not need to be peeled.)
2. Meanwhile, using a small sharp knife or citrus tool, remove long shreds of peel from the orange, taking care not to remove the white pith; measure 2 tablespoons peel. Squeeze juice from orange; measure 1/3 cup juice.
3. In a glass dish, whisk together the 1/3 cup orange juice, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, vinegar, shallot, and Dijon mustard. Add beets and orange peel; toss gently to combine. Cover and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours. Makes 8 servings.
Recipe Source:

Sweet Potato, Kale and Cheese Soup
     2 medium sweet potatoes (3 cups diced)
     1 large onion, chopped
     2 cups water
     1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
     3-4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
     1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, grated and lightly packed
     1-2 cups finely shredded kale
     1/2 cup skim milk (approximately)
     1 teaspoon sea salt

1. Place the sweet potatoes, onion, and water in a large kettle. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until tender. 2. Transfer the cooked vegetables and the liquid to a food processor or blender and  blend until creamy. In a blender, this will have to be done in two or three batches. 3. Return the creamed mixture to the kettle. Add the nutmeg, mustard, kale and cheese. Stir over medium heat until the cheese is melted. Add as much milk as needed to achieve the desired consistency. Season to taste with sea salt.

Recipe Source: Cooking with the Right Side of the Brain

Black Bean Soup with Pan-Roasted Poblano Peppers and Crispy Shoestring Tortillas
  serves 6
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium poblano peppers (12 oz) (340g) – seeded and cut in 1/4” dices (2 cups)
1 medium Spanish onion – peeled and cut in 1/4” dices (2 cups)
4 garlic cloves – skinned and minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle to taste
2 medium carrots (4 oz) (115g) – seeded and cut in 1/4” dices (3/4 cup)
6 cups reserved cooking liquid from the beans or water
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt to taste
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon Tequila
For the garnishes
4 corn tortillas
3 tablespoons sunflower or canola oil
large pinch sea salt
2 tablespoons crème fraîche or low-fat sour cream
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Step 1: Heat a large, heavy-bottom soup pot at medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and poblano peppers. Sauté for 2 minutes until the peppers soften. Add the onions and sauté for 7 to 8 minutes, until golden-brown. Add the garlic, chili powder, chipotle and carrots. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the black beans, reserved cooking liquid and salt.
Step 2: Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium to medium-low, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until carrots are tender. Purée the soup with a stick blender or food processor so that it’s creamy, but still a bit chunky. Add the lime juice and Tequila. Adjust the salt and thin the soup with additional water if needed.
Step 3: Cut the corn tortillas in half. Cut each half in 1/8” julienne strips. Heat a large skillet to high heat. Add the oil and the tortilla strips and reduce the heat to medium-high. Toss well so that the tortilla strips are well coated with the oil and spread them over the whole surface of the pan. Sauté for 6 to 8 minutes until the strips are golden, tossing occasionally. Remove from heat and spread on a tray lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with sea salt and let cool to room temperature.
Cook’s note: The tortilla strips can be made up to 3 days ahead. Store at room temperature in a sealed container.
Step 4: Ladle soup in bowls. Spoon a small dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream in the center of each bowl. Sprinkle with the cilantro, top with the shoestring tortillas and serve.
Recipe Source:


1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon
Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil (preferably French) or safflower oil

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Best Day...

I found this today and it really struck a chord:
“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours - it is an amazing journey - and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”
Bob Moawad
It started me thinking about what I (we) have chosen to do in this life and how important it is to actively participate, not to just let life happen to you. Sometimes when we are really scrambling during the "heat" of the season, its hard to do any more than just keep putting one foot in front of the other and forging ahead. But oh, how much we miss when that is how we spend our days.

I must always remind myself:

It is so simple, and yet, so easy to forget to chose to live rather than to just let life happen.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Liebster Award

This week we were awarded the Liebster Award from Granny Sue's News and Reviews

The "Liebster Blog" award is given to up-and-coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers ("Liebster" is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, beloved, loveliest, cutest etc.)
We definitely qualify for the "less than 200 followers" part, not so sure about the "sweetest and cutest" though! Sean would say, definitely not! LOL! What fun to get an award from a blog that I always enjoy reading by a fellow storyteller, canner, ginger-lover and noodle-maker! Thanks for the vote, Granny Sue!!

The rules for the Liebster Award are:

1. Thank the giver and link back to her/him.
2. Reveal your top picks and leave a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love too!

Part of the fun is picking the blogs to pass the love along to!
 In no particular order, here are my picks: 
Miss Effie's Diary one of my very favorites, as she says "Rantings of a woman bound to make history."
 three thirty three a fun-filled family and their daily adventures of life on earth
Adventures in Wonderland the irrepressible Maggie and her always inspiring life
The Beginning Farmer's Wife the adventures of a wonderful young family starting a farm "from scratch"

I hope you enjoy these blogs as much as I do!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Eureka Moments...Wowza Moments

So yesterday as I was finishing up the newsletter for our first Winter CSA delivery of the 2011 season, it occurred to me, duh, why don't I post these on the blog? I'm already writing about things going on on the farm, and the people who read this might enjoy the recipes as well. Besides that guarantees blog posts every week in the summer when I am challenged to do blog posts, plus bi-weekly posts in Nov & Dec...well just because. So there you go, starting now (yesterday, cause that's how my brain works) we will post all our CSA newsletters on the blog and readers can enjoy or skip them at will. Done!

That said, those posts will not generally include awe-inspiring photos, as Tuesdays (CSA days) are generally crazy busy. So today we will celebrate the photos of this week's harvest with a little viewing. Be forewarned, these are not for the faint-of-heart! So as you may have noticed in the CSA newsletter posted yesterday, daikon was on the schedule for Tuesday's delivery. So with the forecast for Tuesday being so ugly, we did our harvesting on Monday and this is what we found...

Yep, pulled it straight out of the ground like that...crazy! If you are on Facebook, go to my profile and look at the hysterical list of comments made on the photo...too funny!

Next we pulled this one...

You just never know what you will pull out of the gardens here! But this one had a destiny other than a CSA box. This one just had to go to our favorite DM coffee ladies at  Ritual Cafe, which is our DM CSA drop location. We like to share produce with them and this one just had to go!

 So when I got to the cafe, I presented Linda with her bag of BGF produce, crowned with this (these?) and her response was to take another photo of it, just to highlight its unique qualities...

Yep, we know how to grow 'em at Blue Gate Farm!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

BGF News 11/08/2011

 Blue Gate Farm News – Volume XVI, Number 1 – November 8, 2011

In this week’s box:
Chinese Cabbage
Choi: Win-win
Garlic (hardneck): Northern White or Music
Kohlrabi: Winner (green) and Kolibri (purple)
Potatoes: Banana (yellow fingerling) or Red Gold (red skin)
Spinach Mix: Bordeaux (red stems), Olympia, Space & Tyee
Sweet Peppers: asst
Tapestry Salad Mix
Turnips: Hakurei and/or Scarlet

For those with the Egg option: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Cheese option: Cranberry-Pecan Chevre and Classic Feta

Featured Recipe(s) (see below): Sesame Stir Fried Chinese Greens
Pasta with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Feta and Arugula
Slow-Roasted Red Peppers in Balsamic Garlic Glaze
Easy Daikon Salad 
Vietnamese Pickled Carrots and Daikon
Precipitation last month: .6
Precipitation to date this month: 1.5” (and counting)

What’s up on the farm?

Welcome to the first delivery of the 2011 Winter CSA season!  We hope you are looking forward to bountiful fresh, chemical-free produce for the next two months.  Just a reminder that the Winter CSA delivers every other week, so if you show up next week, you might be able to enjoy a nice cup of coffee, but we won’t be there.

We have been celebrating the mild fall that nature has been sharing with us for the past couple of months.  It seems like we have more produce available now than we have had all year and we are putting as much as we can into your boxes this week, because you never know when this lovely weather trend will end.  I heard the word snow in the forecast for later this week, so we packed the boxes extra full to protect you from an extra trip to the grocery store in ugly weather.  Regardless, we have been celebrating the fine weather by getting a good start on our chores for the winter.  The third week in October, we started putting row cover on all our remaining field crops, and there are a lot of them!  That complete, we moved to clearing the tomato beds, which is a significant task with all of the trellising and plant matter.  Once the tomatoes were out of the way we were able to get to our ultimate fall task, the planting of the garlic!  Given our bumper garlic crop this year, we were feeling enthusiastic, so we planted an extra 25 pounds over last year’s numbers, for a total of a little more than 100 pounds of seed garlic in the ground, around 1,500 row feet.  Hopefully they will do as well next year! Garlic prepped, planted and mulched, we then moved over to clearing all of the irrigation lines from all of the fields.  Given how dry our late summer and fall were, we had more irrigation tape out than ever before, so that was a more significant task than in the past.  We were really pleased to get to do this on a 70° day, as one tends to get a bit wet during this task, so it wasn’t nearly so arduous a chore as in some years.
In addition to the regular seasonal goings on, we have had a few special achievements in the past month. Progress has continued on the new barn and we are now fully enclosed, just in time for inclement weather and Jill’s dad (our contractor/builder/designer extraordinaire) has been splitting his time between that and moving our wood-fired boiler from the old packing shed location to its own, custom-designed boiler shed.  This entailed re-purposing an old metal roof that had once protected Jill’s great-grandfather’s buggy from the elements, to top our new little building, moving the boiler itself and then locating and moving the underground water lines.  It was quite the process.

Our other new acquisition was adding 80 new 6 month-old laying hens to our flock.  They came from a farm that raises their chickens like we do and they will replace our retiring birds that were past their productive years and keep us in better egg-counts through the winter and into next season.  The “new girls” are settling in very nicely here at BGF.  Look for messages later this week about purchasing our eggs during the winter.
So that’s about it around here, recently.

Special note: Lois, our favorite cheese-maker and the owner of Reichert’s Dairy Air, the supplier of our Cheese Share had a surplus of a couple varieties of her chevre cheese that are about to go “out of date”. So she sent them along with us for anyone who wants to try some of her excellent product. While they are still good now, you will want to use them sooner than later. These are on a first-come, first-serve basis, so you might want to try to get to the pick-up a little earlier today, so take advantage of her generosity! (However, I won’t be there before 4:45, so don’t get too ahead of yourselves). (Farm pick-ups, we left cheese in your box).

A few details on new stuff in the box:
Everything except the garlic, potatoes and rosemary can go into plastic bags and store in your produce drawers.
Chinese (napa) cabbage: keep outer leaves intact (to preserve moisture) until ready to use and store in the crisper drawer for up to two weeks. Mild, and tender with a fresh, cabbage-y flavor.
Daikon: The large, white single root with a crisp, mild flavor used raw or cooked in many Asian cuisines. Store up to two weeks in a damp-wrapped towel or plastic bag in the produce drawer, or for up to two months packed in damp sand in a cool location.
Kohlrabi: The alien-looking green and purple globes topped with green/purple-shaded leaves. Excellent, mild-cabbage flavor that can be used raw or cooked, we like them best sliced raw and sprinkled with salt. Store globes in a plastic bag for up to one month. Store leaves in a damp towel or plastic bag in the produce drawer and use as soon as possible.
Rosemary: put in a sealed plastic bag in your produce drawer, or hang it up in a clean, airy place to dry

Upcoming Events:
Downtown Farmers Harvest Market: Friday & Saturday, November 18th & 19th, Capitol Square
Next CSA Delivery: Tuesday, November 22

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures?  Follow us at our blog at and on Facebook (just search Blue Gate Farm) and “Like” us.

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 Blue & Luci)

Sesame Stir Fried Chinese Greens
I would also add a clove or 2 of garlic, some fresh ginger and a dash of Sriracha sauce to take this recipe over the top!
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 pounds baby bok choy and/or
Napa cabbage, sliced thin
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
In a wok or large frying pan heat the oil over high heat until very hot. Add the bok choy and stir-fry until they begin to soften slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil and cook until just done, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.
Recipe by Ellie Krieger

Pasta with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Feta and Arugula
1 1/2 lb sweet potatoes, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
4 leeks, chopped
1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
1 lb whole wheat pasta
6 oz feta cheese (I used Trader Joe's Mediterranean herb blend)
8 oz arugula
cracked black pepper

1. Toss the sweet potatoes with 1 tbsp oil, salt and pepper.  Spread on a baking sheet and roast at 400 for 30 minutes or until soft and browned.

2. Place 1 tbsp oil in a small skillet.  Add the leeks and rosemary and cook for 7 minutes, or until soft and golden.

3. Cook pasta in boiling, salted water.  Drain and place in a large bowl.  Toss with sweet potatoes, arugula, leeks and feta.

Recipe Source:

Slow-Roasted Red Peppers in Balsamic Garlic Glaze
3 red (or any ripe-colored) peppers, sliced into generous bite-size pieces
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
Sea salt & cracked pepper

Heat oven to 300 F

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce.

Meanwhile, place sliced peppers in an oven proof dish.  Sprinkle with garlic slices and top with well whisked balsamic glaze.  Add a sprinkle of sea salt and cracked pepper.

Roast peppers for 1 hour, turning on occasion.  Turn oven up to 375 and roast for another 10 minutes or until peppers are sizzling and just beginning to char.  Remove peppers from oven and allow them to cool slightly before serving warm.

Recipe Source:

Easy Daikon Salad
2 cups julienne cut daikon radish (I used my food processor to cut it)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp sweet rice wine (mirin)
OPTIONAL crushed peanuts
  1. Place the daikon in a colander/mesh strainer over a bowl or the sink and sprinkle with salt. Mix well. Let sit for 30 minutes. Squeeze out excess water and then rinse well with cold water. Drain.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the seasoned rice vinegar, sugar and rice wine. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves (this will only take a few minutes).
  3. Transfer the daikon to an airtight container and pour the rice vinegar mixture over. Shake or stir well to combine. Chill for 20 minutes before serving.
  4. This can store for up to a few days in the fridge, if it lasts that long. If desired, serve topped with crushed peanuts.


Vietnamese Pickled Carrots and Daikon

makes 2 cups, can just use daikon
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 pound carrots (peeled and cut to match stick size)
1/2 pound daikon radish (peeled and cut to match stick size)

1. Mix the water, vinegar, sugar and salt until the sugar and salt dissolves.
2. Place the carrots and radish in a container and cover with the pickling liquid.
3. Let pickle for at least and hour and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Recipe Source:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Birth of a Barn Quilt

Sean's brother, Paul, was our master carpenter on the project

and his sister, Carman provided the artistic skills

The farm crew discusses the installation plan

Up, up, up it goes...

Just a little higher...

The "Blue Gate Star" in its place of honor.

Wasn't there a contest???

Well, there is nothing like setting a deadline, announcing a contest and then falling flat on your face with the follow-through. Somehow, no matter how well we think we have planned everything, this time of year always catches up with us. Ah well, things like this are just proof we can learn...right??

Regardless, we did actually have the contest and we received more than twenty fabulous entries. The stumbling block was realizing that the design we thought we were looking for was actually far too complicated for the actual piece . So, after sifting and sorting through all the submissions, we finally took inspiration from one of them and created a final design that we felt portrayed Blue Gate Farm while still holding to the tradition of barn quilt designs.  Then looking back, we realized that we had actually received another submission with the same basic pattern.

Here is the cool submission from our CSA member Amy B. that was our launching pad:
a basket filled with produce!
and then the entry from Virginian Phyllis H. that we at first overlooked:

and finally, the design that we settled on after many hours of ruminating and "discussion"...

This is our Blue Gate Star design. The colors of each chevron represent important crops that we produce on the farm including honey, tomatoes, eggplant, summer squash, peppers, blue & brown eggs and the edible flower in our salad mix. The greens represent the myriad of greens that we grow and the corners are our trademark blue pickets.

Congratulations to our contest winners Amy & Phyllis. They have/will receive a package of goodies from the farm in thanks for their inspiration!

Here's a fun link to Amy's blog post about the contest: Design of the Times

Will post photos of the actual quilt in the next day or so.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Favorite Email Ever!

We received this drawing today of our Blue Heeler, "Blue" from Ellie, a 9yr old CSA member who (along with the rest of her family) helped out at Farm Crawl this weekend. It is the best email I have EVER received. Thanks for sharing your talents and your love for Blue, Ellie, we're so glad you are a part of the Blue Gate Farm Family!

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Day After

This kind of says it all
The 5th annual Farm Crawl has come and gone, and what a day it was! More than 1,350 people visited Blue Gate Farm on what may have been the most beautiful day of the entire season. There was much touring, chicken feeding, question asking (and answering) dog petting, and general fun all around. Thank you so much to everyone who came out and Crawled! We had such great help from friends, family and the farm crew this year. Huge thanks go out to Mom & Dad B, Brenda, Maggie, Terri, The Berger Family, David, Kristin, Jeff, Paul, Miranda, Willa & Spencer for all their fabulous help. Farm Crawl is a great fun event, but it truly does "take a village" to put it on.

So now, take a minute and get it on your calendar for next year...its always the first Sunday in October. Farm Crawl 2012 will be on Sunday, October 7th. We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Preview (Review?)

Farm Crawl 2011 is coming in just 21 days...just three short weeks. Wow, we've got a lot to do before then! But while we are wildly preparing, you can take a few minutes to watch this great video made by Patrick Boberg at last year's Crawl. Hopefully it will get you all primed and ready to come out for this year's event, Sunday, October 2 from 11:00 - 5:00. Crawl On!

Thanks for the great video, Patrick...beautiful work!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Pre-Announcement Announcement

I know that we said we would announce the winner of the Barn Quilt Contest on September 1, but it is more challenging than we dreamed it would be. We are very close to a final design, and expect to announce the "verdict" in a few short days. In the meantime, we beg your patience and hope that you can find something to do outside in this beautiful weather to occupy your creative attentions.
Be back soon!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Moment of Peace

 ...before the storm. Not every day starts with a double rainbow over the hayfield. As much as we need the rain, this is an auspicious start to the day!

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Little Friendly Competition

BGF Barn Quilt Contest
Blue Gate Farm (via Leo Beebout Construction) has been building a new barn/packing shed this season. It is a fairly large; two-story structure with a lovely peak expanse of light tan siding that is visible when you turn into the farm lane. We thought what a perfect place to highlight a barn quilt. We’ve looked around a bit, but haven’t found any design that speaks to us. Then we thought, we know a lot of creative people, maybe one of them would have the perfect idea, so here’s the challenge…

 The Timeline: 
Contest starts August 1, 2011 and submissions are due by August 21, 2011.
Winner will be announced September 1, 2011 

The Goal: 
To find/create a design to be realized (by BGF) in a painted 4-foot square wooden panel on the BGF barn 

The Prize: 
A basket of Blue Gate Farm products AND the realization of your design BGF barn, to be featured at Blue Gate Farm for the 2011 Farm Crawl on Sunday, October 2.

The Considerations:
Anyone can enter (though gift basket is only deliverable within the continental US)
We are a chemical-free vegetable, honey, egg and herb farm
Blue is the general theme at Blue Gate Farm
Our logo looks like this:

Our website is www.bluegatefarmfresh (take a look around if you aren’t familiar with us)
For ease of judging, submissions should be made in the form of a picture, (computer-generated or hand-drawn) and may be sent via email to or via post at the following address:

Blue Gate Farm
749 Wyoming St
Chariton, IA  50049

Please include your name, address and email address so that we may contact you if we have any questions about your entry or, more importantly, if you are the winner.

Not familiar with barn quilts? Here’s a website for a little background:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sweat and Sweet Corn

 Last week we hosted a bit of a Skeehan Family reunion here on the farm. Family members from Colorado, Chicago and Australia all converged on this little piece of land right at the start of the sweet corn season and one of the longest heat waves in a decade. We were quite the hive of activity, with much laughing, eating, swimming, eating, horseback riding, eating, photo-taking, eating and when we were done eating, we even managed to get a bit of work done.

The big project of the visit was to start to tear the roof off of the old packing shed. In the first picture you can see the hard-working crew pausing from their shingle-stripping fun. Notice the lovely green porch roof below them. That was the most recent (and wonderfully shady) progress before the Skeehans arrived.
The de-roofing crew (plus a wandering garlic harvester)

Dan inspecting the porch roof while Miranda, Carman Marie & Dominique take a much-deserved breather

big progress on the de-roofing front

Carman Marie & Miranda stripping the last of the tar paper
Sweaty, but still smiling, Australian brothers Dan & Tom
It was such crazy fun to have every here. Huge thanks to my parents for providing cabin-accommodations, work-crew wrangling and photographic skills and to all the Skeehans for their good humor, great company and hard work. We hope to see you all again soon!

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Lack of Blogging...

...doesn't mean we aren't doing anything, just that we are too busy to write about it.

This photo was taken by my mom (thanks Mom!) a week ago and already there have been changes. The porch roof, that Dad is working on, has it's green steel roofing and it looks great! We have a farm-full of Skeehan visitors arriving later today from Denver, Chicago and Australia, so the plan is to put some of those extra hands to work. We will put the steel up on the front of the building and then start the (hopefully) slow and measured removal of the old building. Here's hoping that it is fun, productive and not too exciting!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Glimpses of Early Summer

Summer Beauty

Summer Discovery

Summer Delicacy

Summer Bliss
Summer Respite