Monday, May 31, 2021

BGF NEWS - June 1, 2021 - VOL. XLVII, NO. 1

In this week’s box:

Choi: Joi (white stems), Shanghai Green (lt. green stems) or Vivid (purple stems)
Golden Oyster Mushrooms (in plastic clamshell)
Green Garlic
Kale Mix  (large mixed leaf bundle)
Lemon Balm
Spinruts: Hakurei (baby Japanese salad turnips)
Tapestry Salad Mix

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

For those with the Herb option: Herb share will begin in a couple of weeks as herbs mature

BGF Favorite Kale Salad (see recipe below)
BGF Summer Herb Spritzer (see recipe below)

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 0.2"

Welcome to the first delivery of the 2021 CSA season and the start of weekly newsletters!  The boxes feel a little light at this time of the season and you will notice the abundance of greens and not quite as much variety as we expect later in the season.  This is part of the joy of eating fresh, seasonal foods.  As the season continues the weight and variety of the contents will increase with the arrival of heavier crops including beans, tomatoes, potatoes and squash.  One thing that does remain somewhat consistent is the presence of some cosmetic damage caused by our local insects.  This is an indication that we are truly a chemical-free farm.  We try to keep the insect population under control, but they are simply a fact of life in a naturally grown system.  We hope you can overlook some minor leaf damage and we will do our best to keep it to a minimum.  Also we do our best to provide you with clean produce, but you may find a little dirt here and there or, yikes, possibly an insect.  We do wash the produce and sort it to the best of our ability, but we are processing a significant volume and it is possible that at some point you will find a little “nature” in your box.  If and when it happens to you, we apologize ahead of time and hope you will forgive the oversight.  Remember, while we do clean the produce, it is always good practice to wash your vegetables before using.

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

Clean & Return to Us
Plastic pint/quart containers
Plastic or paper berry boxes
Half pint, pint and quart glass canning jars

Please don't return plastic produce bags or twist ties, we can't reuse those in the packing shed but we encourage you to wash and reuse them in your own home. The less waste we create, the less we have to clean up later. Do you have questions or suggestions on our use of packaging materials (or anything else)? Please let us know!

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

So what have we been up to this week in addition to preparing for CSA delivery #1? Mostly digging out from our abundance of weeds! While we needed last week's rains, the weeds took the opportunity to throw a party. That meant scrambling to get the fields back under control once the soil dried out (almost) enough. When it is that wet, the most we can do is edging and hand weeding, which is the least efficient method of weed control, but sometimes that's what is available to us.

We were able to finally get some cultivating done and even got the first round of hilling done on the potatoes.
More crops were transplanted including flowers, summer squash, hot peppers, additional cabbage and basil. We also did some replacement seeding in our beans and edamame which didn't germinate 
We've recently been battling a pest in our tomato plot which is mowing down tomato plants at an alarming rate. I thought it was voles, but my farmer friends suspect cutworm. 
We spent time today placing wire flags up against each plant stem so the critters have a harder time chewing through them and then we surrounded the stem with cayenne pepper. Here's hoping they don't think they're invited to a party! 

A bright spot to our recent moisture has been a huge flush of golden oyster mushrooms in our timber! This is the 4th year we have been able to offer mushrooms as part of the CSA and we hope you are as excited about them as we are. 

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

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

A little detail on your produce this week:

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

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

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

Herbs: Besides basil, most herbs keep best standing upright in a glass of water in your refrigerator with a loose plastic bag over the top. To use, simply pull a stem between your fingers and the leaves usually shear off. Chop with a sharp knife and add to your favorite recipes.

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

Peas: We grow snow peas (flat pod with little bumps showing immature peas inside) and sugar snap peas (rounded pods with mature peas inside).  Both have edible pods and can be used interchangeably in recipes.  They are particularly good in stir-fries and salads, though we tend to eat them fresh as a snack.  Peas keep best in their plastic container in the produce drawer of your 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.

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? Do you want to read more about our life on the farm and see more pictures? Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm or on Instagram at bluegatefarmfresh. CSA members can also connect with other BGF members to share recipes or ask questions on our FB community page at Blue Gate Farm Community.

That's about it for now. If you have any questions or comments, be sure to let us know.
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and the whole BGF crew)

Indigo, Luci & Sky

BGF's Favorite Kale Salad  

Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 tablespoons dried cranberries or cherries
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
3 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
a big bunch of kale (about 1 pound), center ribs and stems removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise
2 tablespoons sunflower  or pumpkin seeds, (if using salted, cut down on the 1tsp salt above)
Parmesan cheese shavings

Place cranberries in small bowl; add balsamic vinegar, seasoned rice vinegar, honey oil and salt and allow to soak several hours (overnight is even better).
Place kale in a large bowl, add cranberry mixture and toss to coat. Let marinate 20 minutes at room temperature, tossing occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese shavings and sunflower seeds just before serving.

Recipe Source:  adapted from an epicurious recipe by Dan Barber

BGF Summer Herb Spritzer
Besides pesto, this is one of our favorite ways to use herbs during warm weather. It is deceptively simple and delightfully refreshing! All you need is:

1 sprig of your favorite herb. Our favorites for this are lemon balm, lemon basil, lemon thyme, mint and anise hyssop.
ice cubes
plain seltzer water
Glass jar with leak-proof lid (or a martini shaker)

Place washed herb in the jar, add ice enough to fill 1/3 of jar. Secure lid and shake it, shake it, baby! A few vigorous shakes will do it, you are just trying to bruise the leaves and release the aromatic oils, not pulverize them.
Remove lid and top with seltzer. Enjoy! You could add a bit of your favorite sweetener, but I've never found it necessary.

No comments: