Wednesday, September 19, 2012

BGF News 9/18/12

In this week’s box:
Beans: Mix (Carson & Empress)
Cherry Tomato Mix
Cipollini Onions: Gold Coin
Hot Peppers: Wenk's Yellow Hots & Georgia Flame
Sweet Peppers: Islander (purple to orange), Ace (Green to Red), Golden Marconi (Long green to yellow)
Mustard Mix: Senposai, Osaka Purple Mustard, Mizuna & Tokyo Bekana
Tomatoes, slicers
            and perhaps ONE of the following:
Eggplant: Orient Express (long, thin, purple), Broccoli: Packman, Okra: Bowling Red, Patty Pan Squash, Mini Bell Pepper Mix, or melons

For those with the Egg option [full]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Basil-Genovese and/or Italian Large Leaf, sorrel, peppermint
For those with the Honey option: choice of liquid or comb honey

Featured Recipe(s) (see below):  Caprese Pasta Skillet
Flatbread Crostini with Cipollini Onions & Chèvre
 Mustard Greens with Hot Peppers

Precipitation in the past week: .3"

What’s up on the farm?

We woke up to a bit of frost on the farm this morning, it certainly wasn't a killing frost, but the predicted cold temps spurred us to do a last minute harvest of the melons and sweet potatoes yesterday afternoon, as those are two of our most cold-sensitive crops. The last of the melons are going out in some boxes today, but the sweet potatoes need some curing time before they are sent out. The basil and okra are the next most sensitive to cold, so if the below average temps keep up, we will see an early end to those as well.  The other cold effects you might notice are a waning amount of flavor in the tomatoes (cooking, especially roasting will bring out the most flavor) and an increasing sweetness in all the varieties of greens. This time of year is greens season and they are delicious and growing along beautifully.  Unless we get a significant rain soon, we will be bidding farewell to the beans in the next week or so. They are not so sensitive to cool weather, but just aren't getting enough water to bloom, and no bloom means no beans. And finally, today marks the end of the eggplant season. They have done their best for us this year, but they are now in the "geriatric stage" and no longer worth their space in the high tunnel, which is needed by the upcoming fall crops.

Speaking of "final" events. We anticipate that the final delivery of the 2012 Summer CSA Season will be Tuesday, Oct. 16th. So we still have 4 more deliveries after today to enjoy the fall bounty that we expect from the garden.  We will be sending out information about the Winter CSA in the next couple of weeks.

Farm Crawl: We still have slots available for individuals/families who are interested in being part of Team BGF for Farm Crawl. You can sign up for as little as 2 hours (or more if you'd like) and we will provide food, fun and some kind of BGF "swag".  Just a reminder that Farm Crawl is Sunday, Oct 7th from 11am-5pm. You can read more about it at

A little detail on your produce this week:
You've had fennel before, but this time it is a little more mature than we would like. So we recommend storing it as before, but use it in smaller pieces, or you may find it a bit tough. The greens are fine and can be used as before.
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 at Blue Gate Farm.

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)

Caprese Pasta Skillet
 Serves 2-3
Slightly adapted from Alexandra Cooks

8oz orecchiette pasta
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
salt & pepper
2 Tablespoons pesto (store bought, or 1/2 batch homemade pesto made with an additional 2 Tablespoons water)
1 cup cubed smoked mozzarella cheese (or mini mozzarella balls)
extra basil leaves for garnish

1. Prepare pesto, if making, then set aside. Cook pasta in salted, boiling water until just under al dente then drain and set aside. Place an oven rack to the very top, then preheat broiler.
2. Heat oil in a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add cherry tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, then toss and cook for 30 seconds. Add cooked pasta and pesto then toss to combine. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top then place skillet under the broiler until cheese melts. Using a pot holder, remove skillet from oven then sprinkle with fresh basil leaves and fresh cracked pepper. Serve immediately.

Recipe Source:

Flatbread Crostini with Cipollini Onions & Chèvre
When you peel the cipollinis, don’t completely cut off the stubs on the bottom, as these help to hold the onion together while roasting. It will get so tender that you won’t even notice it when you eat it.

For onions:
8-10 small cipollini onions, peeled (or fewer, larger ones)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Several sprigs rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
A few pinches sea salt

For flatbread: (or just buy a good, dense bread)
1 1/2 cups flour (here, I used 1 cup whole wheat and 1/2 cup all-purpose white)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup warm water
For assembly:
More rosemary

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together all flatbread dry ingredients. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Slowly add water, stirring with a fork until just wet and sticking together in a ball (you may not use all the water). Set aside to rest.
Toss peeled cipollini onions in olive oil, rosemary, and sea salt. Place in a roasting pan (I find that metal pans work best for roasting root veggies; for some reason, glass or ceramic never brown as well) and, when oven is heated, place in oven on middle rack. Roast, turning every 10 minutes or so, until unevenly caramelized and crispy on the outside, but tender inside.
Meanwhile, heat cast iron (or other heavy bottomed) skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil until very hot. Take a small piece of dough—about the size of a shooter marble—and roll into a ball. Flatten with your hands on the counter or a baking sheet into a ~3-4 inch round. Make it thinner than you think it should be. Put these rounds on the hot hot skillet, and flip when they begin to blister or brown in places. Don’t overcook your flatbreads.
To assemble, spread chèvre onto a flatbread. Place one roasted cippolini on top, squish it down, and spread it out. Sprinkle with rosemary.

Mustard Greens with Hot Peppers

8-10 ounces Mustard Greens, chopped - stems removed
2 hot peppers, coarsely chopped
1 small white onion, chopped
1 ounce pecans, chopped
olive oil

Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil.
Add mustard greens and boil about 2 minutes.
Immediately plungs mustard greens into ice water to stop the cooking process. Reserve.
Meanwhile, heat a saute pan to medium heat and add onions, jalapenos, pecans and about 1 teaspoon olive oil.
Cook about 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
Drain mustard greens and add to the saute pan. Saute about 10 more minutes, or until the greens achieve the desired consistency. At this point they might still be slightly stiff, though quite tasty. You can saute them longer if you'd like to soften them up.

Recipe Source:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

In Good Company

 In the past we have written about the informal farming group of which we are a part. The group was started over a year ago following an annual conference, to provide communal work days at each of the four farms. It has become a steadfast support system of shared knowledge, skilled hands, willing labor and emotional "scaffolding". These are the "Fairy Weeders" that came to our rescue early in the season this year as our lives reeled out of control. We have been so lucky to count these folks among our friends, and even more so when we were joined by a journalist who thought our group was interesting. After a year of joining in our adventures our talented writer-friend summed up each of  our farming operations and our shared reliance on one another. You can read Joshua Doležal's article which appears in the current issue of The Iowan Magazine.

BGF News 9/11/12

In this week’s box:
Basil: Genovese or Italian Large Leaf
Beans: Mix (Carson & Empress)
Beets: Chioggia &/or Golden
Leeks: Carentan &/or King Richard
Tomatoes, slicers
            and perhaps ONE of the following:
Eggplant: Orient Express (long, thin, purple), Broccoli: Packman, Okra: Bowling Red, Patty Pan Squash, Mini Bell Pepper Mix or Cherry Tomato mix

For those with the Cheese option: Basil Feta and [NEW] Caprine Curds (cheese curds)
For those with the Egg option [full and half]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Basil- Red Rubin, Curly Cress, Parsley

Featured Recipe(s) (see below):  Pasta with Arugula and Goat Cheese Sauce
Leek and Goat Cheese Pie
Cream of Chicken & Leeks on Buttered Toast

Precipitation in the past week: trace

What’s up on the farm?

One week into September and already things are looking up (except for the rain, which is still missing). The new crops continue to progress nicely, and more retiring crops have been removed from the field. The only crop we continue to struggle with is the salad beds, which are stubbornly not germinating. We think it is a combination of heat, dry soil and ever-drying winds, not to mention the massive flock of goldfinches that have developed a taste for lettuce seed. We have added mini irrigation sprinklers to the beds to try and aid in keeping the soil surface damp, and if a few finches get wet in the process, so be it.  The crew has been working hard at keeping the weeds in check and keeping ahead of the onslaught of tomato hornworms which are attempting to strip the entire tomato plot to twigs.  The chickens are the only ones who are a fan of this scenario.

The cool news of the week is that after receiving a phone call about a swarm of bees in an area tree, Jill's dad traveled over with appropriate equipment (diesel truck, skid loader, chain saw, ratchet straps and protective bee suit) and brought back a large section of a Mulberry tree complete with a colony of honey bees. So BGF now has its very own Honey Tree, which resides at the northwest corner of the pasture fence.

The biggest news of the week, however, is that Sean finally came home over the weekend and is doing very well, even walking about the farm with the aid of a cane. The big goal now is to keep him cruising along that path.  Thanks to everyone who has shared prayers, good thoughts and wishes for his recovery, I think we are finally seeing the progress we have been hoping for.

Honey Share: we did our 2nd honey extraction last night so Honey Share members can look forward to a delivery next week. Please send us an email or tell us at tonight's delivery if you would like liquid or comb honey for your next installment.

Recycling: We know that many of our CSA members are very ecologically-minded and since we try to recycle and re-use whatever we can here at the farm, we thought we would send out a request. Many of you already return your clean egg cartons to us to be re-used so we'd like to offer a new opportunity. We are in need of glass Starbucks Frappacino bottles, specifically the small-size (9.5 oz) botles AND lids. We sterilize them and reuse for honey packaging. Now, we are not asking you to go out and purchase them, but if anyone is ALREADY drinking them, we would be happy to take bottles and lids off your hands. You can bring them along to the CSA pickup or drop them at our booth at the market, whichever is easier.

Farm Crawl: We still have slots available for individuals/families who are interested in being part of Team BGF for Farm Crawl. You can sign up for as little as 2 hours (or more if you'd like) and we will provide food, fun and some kind of BGF "swag".  Just a reminder that Farm Crawl is Sunday, Oct 7th from 11am-5pm.

A little detail on your produce this week:
Arugula: Store in a plastic bag in the produce drawer. A great pesto, pizza, salad and pasta ingredient.

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 at Blue Gate Farm.

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)

Pasta with Arugula and Goat Cheese Sauce
4 servings

a bunch of fresh arugula
4 springs fresh parsley
1 8 ounce container low-fat yogurt or sour cream
1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled
S and P to taste
1 pound fusilli noodles
Grated parmesan cheese, as garnish
1. Before preparing sauce, fill a large casserole with water, and bring the water to a boil.
2 Wash and clean well the arugula and parsley. Dry thoroughly. Trim and chop both the arugula and the parsley.
3. Place the arugula and the parsley in a food processor. Add the yogurt or sour cream, goat cheese, salt, and pepper. Blend the ingredients thoroughly. Keep the sauce at room temperature until ready to use.
4. Add a pinch of salt to the boiling water, and cook the fusilli noodles following the instructions on the package. When the noodles are cooked, drain them, and place them in four serving dishes. Pour the sauce evenly over the top of each serving and add some cheese to each dish. Serve immediately.

Recipe Source: A Complete Menu Cookbook for All Occasions

Leek and Goat Cheese Pie
Adapted from a recipe in “Home Made“, by Yvette Van Boven

2 medium-sized leeks, thoroughly washed
1/2 cup white wine
Pat of butter
Salt and pepper
1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Thaw puff pastry on the counter whilst you prepare the leeks.
Remove the leek’s dark green stalks and layer of outer leaves. Halve them lengthwise and cut each into three pieces. Simmer leeks in wine and butter seasoned with salt and pepper, about twenty minutes. Remove from liquid and pat dry.
Fold each piece of puff pastry in half, layer one atop the other, and roll the dough into a rectangle. Use the back of a knife to score the pastry like a picture frame, making a one-inch border. Nestle leeks into the dough. Sprinke with goat cheese and brush the edges with egg white. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for approximately twenty-five minutes.

Recipe Source:

Cream of Chicken & Leeks on Buttered Toast

1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise (you want them pretty thin)
salt and pepper
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, peeled and halved, root end left intact
1 lemon, sliced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
a few sprigs fresh parsley
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2-3 medium sized leeks, halved lengthwise, sliced into 1/2-inch half moons, and thoroughly rinsed
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
4 sliced good quality bread, toasted, lightly buttered, and halved into triangles
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place in a deep skillet. Add the carrot, celery, onion, lemon, bay leaf, thyme and parsley. Add in just enough water to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low boil and poach chicken until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and shred or chop. Strain the stock and reserve.
Meanwhile, in another skillet, heat the butter and extra virgin olive oil. Add the leeks and cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and then sprinkle in the flour. Cook for 1 minute. Add in 1 1/2 cups of the reserved chicken stock. Stir in the cream, then cook until the sauce until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add more stock if the sauce gets too thick. Stir in the mustard and then add the chicken.
Place the toast on a plate, and top with the chicken and leeks.
Recipe Source:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Countdown Begins...

BGF News 9/4/12

In this week’s box:
Beans: Mix or Maxibel (filet-type)
Fingerling Potatoes: Rose Finn
Hot Peppers: Wenk's Yellow Hots & Georgia Flame
Mini Cabbages: Super Red (purple), Gonzales (tiny, green) or Storage 4 (slightly ruffled, green)
Sweet Peppers: Islander (purple to orange), Ace (Green to Red), Golden Marconi (Long green to yellow)
Tomatoes, slicers
…plus whatever else we can find to add to the fun!

For those with the Egg option [full]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: basil: lemon, nasturtium, tarragon

Featured Recipe(s) (see below):  Herb Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes and Green Beans
Sautéed Cabbage
Precipitation in the past week: 5 drops

What’s up on the farm?

It was a week of much tilling, weeding and worm patrolling at the farm. Most of the retired beds have been tilled and are being prepped for the winter. The fall field crops are all seeded as are a few of the cold weather, high tunnel crops. The rain from a couple weeks ago really brought on another flush of weeds, so the crew has been had at work keeping those under control. The "worm" patrol really has nothing to do with worms, but caterpillars. We are having a veritable explosion of tomato horn worms in the high tunnels and in the field. These little beasties have some of the most effective camouflage you can imagine and appetites the size of dinosaurs. They range in size from a tiny 1/4" up to the size of an adult man's thumb and are nothing more than fleshy green tubes of tomato eating teeth. Just one good-sized caterpillar can strip a tomato plant down to just stems overnight! So our hunt for them is never-ending right now. Yesterday the crew found five one-gallon buckets of the little nasties, which were promptly fed to the chickens, which is the farm version of poetic justice.
So, on to something more pleasant. The fall sowings of greens are mostly coming along nicely and I think you might see the first of those in next week's delivery. The exception to this is the salad, spinach and head lettuce. The combination of sudden high temps and dry surface conditions made for an almost complete failure of the first sowings of those crops. We have re-sown them, but will still be about a month away from harvesting those.

Farm Crawl is coming! Our 6th annual Farm Crawl will take place on Sunday, October 7th from 11-5. If you are unfamiliar with this fun, family-friendly event you can learn more about it at Every year we invite CSA members not only to come out and tour the farms, but also to be part of the BGF team. So here is your chance for 2012. In the past, individuals/families have helped out with greeting visitors, sharing information, helping out at the chickens, parking and other various tasks. And, even better, you can still "Do the Crawl"! We are asking for volunteers to come for a 2 hour shift, so there is still time to visit the other farms. . If you (and/or your family) would be interested in helping out at the please let us know.

The Tall Farmer Update: Sean is still at Mercy Hospital. He is getting stronger and eating better and hopefully the little complications that keep popping up will come to an end. We hope he will be moving to a rehab unit at Mercy sometime this week.

A little detail on your produce this week:
Cabbage: Store dry, unwashed cabbage in the refrigerator, preferably in the vegetable bin. The outer leaves may eventually get floppy or yellowish, but you can remove and discard them to reveal fresh inner
leaves. Cabbage can keep for more than a month. Once it’s cut, seal it in a plastic bag and continue to refrigerate for several weeks. Rinse the cabbage under cold running water just before use. Peel away a few of the outer leaves, then cut the cabbage according to your needs with a big, sharp knife, and then chop, sliver, or grate. Our favorite way to eat raw cabbage is as a "walking salad" which is to simply spread peanut butter over a leaf of cabbage, sprinkle with your favorite dried fruit, roll it up into a tube and enjoy. This is a kid-pleaser for sure!

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 at Blue Gate Farm.

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)

Herb Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

1 lb fingerling potatoes cut in 1 inch pieces or once lengthwise (just wash, no need to peel)
1-4 cloves garlic, chopped
3-4 tbs of your favorite fresh herb: chopped parsley, rosemary, thyme, dill, ect.
3-4 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat potatoes with other ingredients and spread out on a shallow baking dish. Roast until tender, 40-45 minutes. Makes 2-4 servings.

Adapted from a recipe in From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-fresh Seasonal Produce

Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green Beans
Serves 4
2  waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1  tablespoon salt
8  ounces cavatappi  (or other pasta)        
8  ounces green beans, trimmed and halved          
1/2 cup pesto        

Peel and cut 2 waxy potatoes into 1-inch cubes; place in a large pot of water; bring to a boil.

Add 1 tablespoon salt and 8 ounces cavatappi or other short tubular pasta; return to a boil; cook 2 minutes.

Add 8 ounces trimmed and halved green beans. Return to a boil; cook until vegetables are tender and pasta is al dente, about 6 minutes.

Drain; toss with 1/2 cup Pesto; season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Source: unknown

Sauteed Cabbage
 Serves 4           
2          tablespoons unsalted butter
1          small head cabbage, coarsely chopped
2          pinches caraway seeds (or fennel seed)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

 In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat.
Add cabbage and caraway seeds.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cook, stirring occasionally until soft, 7 to 10 minutes.
Taste and adjust for seasoning. Serve immediately.

Recipe Source: unknown

BGF News 8/28/12

In this week’s box:
Basil: Genovese or Italian Large Leaf
Beans: Mix (Carson & Empress)
Cherry Tomatoes
Garlic: Music
Tomatoes, slicers
Turnips with greens: Hakurei (white) &/or Scarlet Queen (red)
            and perhaps ONE of the following:
Eggplant: Orient Express (long, thin, purple), Broccoli: Packman, Okra: Bowling Red, Patty Pan Squash or Mini Bell Pepper Mix

For those with the Cheese option: Robiola, Chive Chevre and [bonus] Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Chevre
For those with the Egg option [full and half]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Basil: Thai Magic, Thyme, Oregano

Featured Recipe(s) (see below):  Turnips Sauteed with Garlic and Onion
Roasted Japanese Turnips with Honey
Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes with Garlic and Basil
Garlic Roasted Beans
Precipitation in the past week: 2.1" (woohoo!!)

What’s up on the farm?

Well again, the bulk of the farm work fell to the crew and Jill's parents this week as both farmers were occupied at the hospital. It was a fairly productive week on the farm, with more spent crops removed, (melons, cucumbers and field eggplant. Fall crops continue to go into the gardens, including transplants of broccoli and chard. The first salad sowing is up, but the germination was pretty weak, so we will likely need to start that one again. Given this weekend's rain, it should be a more successful endeavor. Many of the fall crops are growing nicely and we should be harvesting various leafy greens in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the bounty of beans, which have come on with a vengeance.

The Box of Shame: We could tell last week was back to school week for many families, as we were missing about 20% of our box returns. Just a reminder that it is much more challenging for us to get through the packing on time if we have to come up with an alternative for your regular box.  So as a friendly reminder and in light of our decrease in returns, we are re-instituting The Box of Shame into which we will put your produce if we don't receive your regular box. Just a reminder, if you don't have your return box, you can always bring in a bag to pick up your delivery. We're happy to help you transfer your produce to the bag and we will take your box back to the farm for use the following week.

The Tall Farmer update: Sean had a pretty tough week at Mercy, mostly caused by an overload of pain meds. Now that all of that has cleared his system he is again working towards regaining his strength and health, all of which take time. We anticipate that he will remain at Mercy for another week or so.

A little detail on your produce this week:
Turnips: separate greens and roots. Store each in a separate bag in the crisper drawer.

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 at Blue Gate Farm.

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)

Glenna's (Japanese) Turnips Sauteed with Garlic and Onion

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup onion, finely minced
1 Tbsp olive oil

1 bunch Japanese or other turnips, approx 1 to 1 1/2 cups sliced  
In heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat, saute onion in olive oil until translucent.  Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add turnips and continue cooking over medium-low heat until turnips, onions, and garlic are all soft and caramelized (but not burned--watch carefully). 
Makes 2 servings.

Recipe Source:

Roasted Japanese Turnips with Honey

20 small golf-ball-size Japanese-style turnips, sliced in half lengthwise (or larger turnips cut to this size)
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon vegetable oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon honey*
Pinch of cayenne 

In a medium bowl, toss the turnips with 1 tablespoon oil, the salt, and some pepper.
Heat a large cast-iron pan over medium-high heat.  When it is quite hot, coat the pan with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and add the turnips.  Reduce the heat to medium and toss the turnips.  Sauté, shaking the pan frequently, until the turnips are starting to turn golden brown, especially on the cut sides, and are almost tender but still slightly firm, 8 to 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the honey and cayenne with 1 tablespoon water.  Add this to the turnips and cook, tossing for another few minutes, until the turnips are tender.
Serves 4 

Recipe Source:

Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes with Garlic and Basil
Servings: 8

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
Salt and pepper            2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
Heat 1 Tb. olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high flame until it just starts to smoke. Add tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Saute, shaking pan frequently, until tomatoes soften and skins just begin to wrinkle, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and continue to shake the pan until garlic is fragrant. Off heat, stir in the basil and remaining 1 Tb. olive oil, then serve.

Recipe Source:

Garlic Roasted Beans
(based on a recipe from Angela Tedesco, Turtle Farm)

1 lb Haricot Vertes (or other fresh beans), washed and dried
4 tbs olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbs seasoned rice vinegar
¼ c. sesame seeds, roasted
¼ c. shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss beans with 1 tbs. olive oil. Spread in single layer on baking sheet and roast 15 minutes, stirring after 8 minutes. Stir garlic and salt together, add vinegar and remaining oil. When beans are roasted, toss with dressing and top with sesame seeds and Parmesan.  Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

BGF News 8/21/12

In this week’s box:
Beets: Chioggia & Golden
Greens Mix: Kale, Mustard & Kohlrabi
Hot Peppers: Wenk's Yellow Hots & Georgia Flame
Kohlrabi: Winner (green) & Kolibri (purple)
Sweet Onions: Ailsa Craig
Tomatoes, slicers
…plus whatever else we can find to add to the fun!

For those with the Egg option [full]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: basil: Genovese/Large Leaf , garlic chives, anise hyssop

Featured Recipe(s) (see below):  Sweet Onion Dip
Creamy Sweet Onion Balsamic Dressing 
Garlicky Greens
Precipitation in the past week: .5"

What’s up on the farm?

Well the adventures just keep coming. To start we have to say a very special thank you to our crew and to the Beebout parents for taking over last weeks CSA harvest and delivery. My parents mentioned how very nice everyone was as they picked up their boxes.  I can't imagine what I would have done, had our "team" not been there to help us out. The story that transpired was that Sean had come home from the hospital Monday evening following recovery from his 2nd surgery. He was weak, but seemed ok until he fell in the house on Tuesday morning while I was out working with the crew. When I returned to the house to check on him, I found him on the floor and in pain. Call the nurse, call the ambulance, head back to Des Moines Mercy. No new injuries found but Sean felt he was too weak to return home, so the next morning he was admitted to our local hospital (Knoxville) for rehab. Unfortunately he developed some additional post-surgery complications on Saturday and got to take another ambulance ride back to Mercy, where he is now, getting a heavy duty course of antibiotics.

So I have been away from the farm for much of the past week, but progress continues regardless.  Sean's mom and brother #3 have been visiting this week and helping out with of all sorts of projects big and small. The little bits of rain we've gotten over the past couple of weeks have encouraged the weeds to grow again, so weeding has been on the list this week. We've also got most of the remaining fall field crops sown and transplanted including: kohlrabi, broccoli raab, beets and broccoli. Many of the sowings done in the past 2 weeks are up and looking pretty good despite the dry conditions. The recent much cooler temperatures have been a great help in this, as with the comfort of the crew. The tomatoes, peppers, okra and eggplant however, are less than thrilled with the 50° nighttime lows, so while the plants still hold lots of fruit, the ripening has slowed dramatically. The challenges of 2012 continue, but we will just keep moving forward (slowly at times) until we work through it. Thank you for all your patience!

A little detail on your produce this week:
 Kohlrabi: This crop was mostly a failure, with just a small number of bulbs germinating and developing, but because it was in the farthest garden, we never got around to tilling it under, so when we happened to look at it this week, it appeared there was just enough to give everyone a taste. Our favorite way to eat it is just sliced, and stored in cold, lightly salted water. You can also grate it and serve with other salad greens. Store the bulb in another plastic bag in the fridge and use it within two weeks. Rinse kohlrabi under cold running water just before use. Unless the skin seems particularly tough, kohlrabi does not have to be peeled. Just trim off the remains of the stalks and root. Grate, slice, or chop kohlrabi as desired.

Sweet Onions: Store just like other onions, but they don't tend to keep quite as long, so use them in the next several weeks. How about a homemade pizza with tomatoes, sweet onions and finely shredded greens?

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 at Blue Gate Farm.

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)

Sweet Onion Dip
Makes 2 cups

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 Vidalia onions (1 pound total), finely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 ounces reduced-fat bar cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
Potato chips, for serving

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onions; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, combine onions, sour cream, cream cheese, vinegar, and chives; season with salt and pepper. Chill dip until slightly thickened, about 1 hour; or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Serve with chips.

Recipe Source:


Creamy Sweet Onion Balsamic Dressing

 6 2-Tbsp Servings

1 clove garlic, pressed
1/4 diced sweet onion
1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp coarse ground mustard
2 Tbsp honey
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
Blend all ingredients in a small blender or magic bullet.

Recipe Source:

Garlicky Greens
(think of it more as a condiment to add to other dishes, than a side dish)

A big bundle of any cooking greens

Separate the leaves from the rigid stalks if you’re using greens like kale or chard. You can chop the stalks and add them to soups, braise them, or use them for making broth. If your leaves are quite large, you can chop them very roughly — just one or two passes of the knife.
Mince a good amount of garlic. I like about three or four big cloves for about two pounds of greens.
Find your biggest skillet and place it on medium-low heat. Add a tablespoon or two of some kind of fat. Olive oil, butter, rendered bacon fat — your choice. Bacon fat goes well with collards and butter makes spinach especially silky.
Toss about a clove’s worth of garlic in the skillet and let it bubble for a few minutes, until just starting to turn golden. Then add a few big handfuls of greens and a pinch of salt. You can really pile them on, as they’ll wilt quite a bit. I can usually get about a third of a 2-pound batch in the skillet at one time.
Stir and toss with tongs until just wilted. This will only take a minute or two for spinach, much longer for hardier leaves like kale. Remove the cooked greens to  container and let them cool while you repeat the process for the rest of your greens: more oil, more garlic, more greens.
Once the greens are cool, you can pack them up in an airtight container and store them in the fridge. They’ll stay good for about a week, but you’ll probably have used it up by then.
  • Eat them as-is, heated up, as a side dish for any protein.
  • Mix into any pasta dish.
  • Make a gratin: mix with béchamel sauce, top with cheese, and bake.
  • Add to stir-fries.
  • Add to soups and ramen.
  • Add to sandwiches and wraps.
  • Use them to top pizza or focaccia.
  • Make eggs florentine: stack a toasted English muffin, a big spoonful of whatever greens you’ve got, and a poached egg, and top with hollandaise.
  • If all else fails, a piece of toast with a good amount of greens, a slick of olive oil, and perhaps a piece of cheese makes a hearty lunch.
Recipe Source:

BGF News 8/14/12

In this week’s box:
Basil: Genovese or Italian Large Leaf
Fennel-bulb & greens
Scallions (final for the season)
Sweet Peppers: Ace (green to red), Islander (purple to orange), Golden Marconi (long, green to red)
Tomatoes, slicers (see descriptions below)
            and perhaps ONE of the following:
Bean Mix: Empress & Carson, Eggplant: Orient Express (long, thin, purple), Broccoli: Packman, Okra: Bowling Red or Mini Bell Pepper Mix

For those with the Cheese option: Chive Chevre and Robiola di mia Nonna
For those with the Egg option [full and half]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Basil: Red Rubin, sorrel, parsley

Featured Recipe(s) (see below):  Fennel Egg Salad
Chicken with Fennel and Tomato
Purslane Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes
Mexican Purslane Stuffing
Precipitation in the past week: 0.5” (we are still very short on rain totals, but this did help!)

What’s up on the farm?

Most years as we get to the 10th/11th deliveries, I think holy cow, how can we be half way through the season already. This year has been a little different and as I filled in the delivery number, I thought, wow, how can we only be halfway through this season? That said, things do seem to be looking up. We have gotten a bit of rain and the break in temperatures has been simply amazing. We continue to clear and prep spent beds and sow seeds for fall crops. So far we have seeded: spinach, turnips, broccoli raab, kale, mustard, choi, arugula, head lettuce and salad mix. Yesterday's cool, overcast weather even prompted us to get the first round of fall transplants into the garden. Transplants have included: cabbage, Brussels sprouts and Chinese cabbage.

Some of our earlier, long-season crops that had been struggling have finally given up the fight, the zucchini and cukes are among these and while we still have a few late sown high tunnel cukes that are making an effort, I'm afraid they aren't going to amount to much. The patty pan squash have started blooming again, so we may seem some small production out of them yet this season, as long as we keep getting at least a little rain.

You will probably notice a slight decline in the number of tomatoes in your box this week. The plants are fine and still covered with green fruit, but you will recall a newsletter last month where we warned that because of high temps causing sterile pollen, there would be a break in tomato production down the road? Well, here we are. So don't be too alarmed, the tomatoes are fine and will pick back up again, they just took a little hot weather vacation.

As everyone knows this has been one heck of a crazy season, even without our personal "adventures". Weather, politics, the nightly news, it is a crazy world we live in. To add to the craziness here on the farm, we are seeing a number of perennial plants blooming out of season. Flowers that normally bloom in September/Oct. are now flushing with blooms, goldenrod, cup plant, sneezeweed, mums and asters are blooming. The asters are the most alarming, as the "old-timers" called them "frost-flower" and tradition said that the first frost would come a couple weeks after the first asters bloomed. I don't really think that we are due for an August frost, but it certainly is an indicator that we have had one weird run of weather and how knows what to expect for the fall & winter.

The Tall Farmer update: the short version of the story is that Sean was released from the hospital yesterday (Monday) and is tucked safely back on the farm in his own person hospital bed. Here's hoping that the fresh air, fresh food and plenty of rest will lead to a speedy and full recovery.

A little detail on your produce this week:
Fennel: Cut off the stalks where they emerge from the bulb. To use the feathery foliage as an herb, place the dry stalks upright in a glass filled with two inches of water, cover the glass loosely with a plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator for up to five days. The unwashed bulb will keep in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for at least a week. To use, remove any damaged spots or layers. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise and check the inner core. If it’s tough, remove it with a paring knife. Fennel should be washed carefully, because dirt can lodge between the layers of the bulb. Chop or mince the leaves.
Not much else new in the box this week.

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 at Blue Gate Farm.

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)

Fennel Egg Salad

6 large eggs (not too fresh or they will be hard to peel)
1/3 c. finely chopped fennel stalk
2-3 tbs. chopped fennel leaves
2-4 tbs. finely chopped sweet red onion (or scallions)
4 tbs. mayonnaise
1 ½ tbs. white wine vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Place eggs in saucepan and cover with cold water, Bring to boil. Turn off heat. Cover pan tightly and set timer for 9 minutes. When timer goes off, drain eggs and immerse them in ice water for 10-15 minutes. Peel and quarter eggs; place in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, 8-12 times. Add remaining ingredients; pulse until ingredients are well blended, 3-6 more times. Use as a sandwich filling, a spread for crackers, a cold sauce for chilled asparagus, or a garnish for tossed green salads. Makes 2 cups.

Recipe source: From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-fresh Seasonal Produce

Chicken with Fennel and Tomato
Serves 4 
6             plum tomatoes (about 1 pound), cored and cut in 3/4-inch pieces
2             fennel bulbs (10 to 12 ounces each), halved, cored, and thinly sliced crosswise, fronds reserved
½   cup dry white wine
 Coarse salt and ground pepper
 4           boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 8 ounces each)

 In a large, deep skillet, combine tomatoes, fennel, and wine; season with salt and pepper. Arrange chicken breasts in a single layer on top of vegetables, allowing as much space between pieces as possible; season with salt and pepper.

Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover skillet, and simmer gently until chicken is opaque throughout, 15 to 20 minutes.

Slice chicken breasts, and serve on top of vegetable mixture; garnish with reserved fennel fronds.

Per serving: 323 calories; 3.2 grams fat; 54.7 grams protein; 12.4 grams carbohydrates; 4.7 grams fiber
Recipe Source: unknown
Purslane Pasta With Cherry Tomatoes:

• 6 cups of cooked pasta.
• 3 cups of raw and fresh Purslane leaves
• 2 cups of cut in half cherry tomatoes
• ½ cup of green onion, minced (or shallots)

For Dressing
• Half cup of olive oil
• ¼th cup vinegar (better try your favorite herbal vinegars )
• 1 clove of garlic
• pinch of salt
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon of honey
• 2/3 cup of wild green, sorrel or parsley ( fresh and chopped)
• Prepare the dressing with all the above by whizzing all the above in a food processor or in a blender.

Procedure to be followed
• Add pasta, cherry tomatoes, Purslane and onions in a bowl
• Add the dressing and let it sit for whole night in a fridge.
• Very good to serve in cold.
Additionally you can add cheese, pepperoni or something else which you would prefer in your pasta to make it variable endlessly.
Based on a recipe from Prodigal Gardens

This is a home-type dish that is as simple to prepare as "scrambled eggs with..." but much more nutritious. Serve as a side dish, a brunch main dish or as a filling in tortillas and pitas.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium-size ripe tomato, chopped (not skinned)
1 hot pepper, finely chopped, or freshly cracked black pepper, according to taste
2 to 3 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 egg beaten
Set aside a few raw springs of purslane for garnish. Steam or blanch the rest until tender-crisp (three to five minutes). Drain thoroughly, transfer to a plate covered with several layers of paper towels and blot dry.
In a large pan, saute garlic and onion in vegetable oil until soft. Add tomato and chile, and saute until the mixture becomes sauce-like. Season with soy sauce. (If you aren't using the chile, add freshly ground black pepper.) Saute until mixture is warm and the flavors marry.
When ready to serve, add the beaten egg to the warm mixture in the pan and mix gently. The egg will bind the mixture loosely but should not harden into scrambled eggs. Garnish plate servings with reserved sprigs.
YIELD: 4 servings

Recipe Source: