Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Greens and Rocky - Week 16

TOMATO (F/P) enough for every one to get one, on Saturday we might fill in with cherry tomatoes if they don’t last. We'll hand out whatever cherry tomatoes we pick tomorrow.
SWEET PEPPER (F) Mainly red bells and marconis, some yellow bells and a few others.
RATTLESNAKE BEANS (F/P) Our favorite bean is an heirloom climber that should be let to get a little larger than the average bush bean.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH (F/P) Just enough for everyone and they’re not very good keepers – eat soon.
GARLIC (F/P) Garlic is a choice for the partials with the herbs.
GREENS CHOICE: Collards or Kale (F/P) The greens have enjoyed the wet summer and producing lots of tasty leaves.
HERB CHOICE (F/P) thyme, chives or basil or a dried herb.

Also this week: Bread of Life bread shares

Next Week: More beans, peppers and greens. Potatoes and onions. Meat & egg share delivery.

Farm report
Everyone on the farm is excited to be ushering back in the greens. If you are new to cooking greens, Tom’s got some yummy and simple recipes for even the worst greenaphobe. Kale, collards, and their many brasica cousins are some of the tastiest and most nutritious vegetables there are. So far all of our plantings are growing well, save for some rutabagas that were lost early to the water and weeds. The different hues of purple to green are making for some pretty fields.

With Rocky’s first birthday just a month and a half away, we thought we’d update everyone on his progress. Our little pup, who weighed just forty pounds when we brought him home at four months has become quite the dog. At around 100 lbs, (we think. Its really hard to get a 100 lb. dog on a scale), he’s now at full size (we hope!) and is a handsome mix of Anatolian Shepard and Great Pyrennes. He has a stately air about him these days and is beginning to lose a bit of his youthful exuberance. In the mornings if there aren’t any new CSA members to sniff, he follow us through the fields, flopping in the closest shade and napping mostly. If it’s not too hot he might go on walkabout and scavenge for animal bones. Rarely he scores big, as he did last week when he greeted the CSA members in the bean patch with an entire deer leg in his mouth. He proudly pranced around us but didn't get too close thankfully. When he’s not performing for the farm’s visitors, he does guard his territory. In the evenings as the farm’s wildlife awaken, Rocky becomes alert to the world around him. Not a hunter, unless you count the mice that he steals from the cats, he prefers to guard his territory through the intimidating sound of his deep bark. However, a few days ago he apparently got too close to a skunk. A member suggested tomato juice to neutralize the smell. We had some tomato sauce from '04 and he didn’t seem to mind a bit. Around the same time, Rocky was almost re-named Barky after he began barking in all directions at once, day and night. The slightest whiff, of what we don’t know, would send him racing towards the back end of the farm . . . or to the neighbors. He kept it up for several days, but recently seems to be at a new more sensical level. We’re glad our pup is maturing into such a swell dog. We hope everyone is enjoying his presence on the farm. If you haven’t yet met him, you have surely enjoyed the fruits of his labors.

What’s in the Share---Week 16

For us greens become a welcome sight on the table as the summer winds down. We know what a valuable source of nu
trition they are and just how delicious they can be. The Greens recipe section has lots of helpful hints. One of our favorites is the Kale with Vinegar and Egg.

Winter Squash
We’ve been taste testing the various different varieties of winter squash stored in the barn, and enjoying it. Butternut, Carnival and Sunshine have all been delicious. We like to bake them in the toaster oven for a quick meal. You can either eat the squash right from the rind, or scoop it out for use in other recipes.

Baked Winter Squash

Winter squash
Olive oil
Optional: butter, honey, sorghum, maple syrup

Cut squash in half from top to bottom. Scoop out seeds. Prick the cut side of the squash with a fork a dozen or so times. Sprinkle some salt and drizzle a little olive oil on the squash. Rub to coat and bake at 350 F for 40 minutes.

Eat as is, or top with butter and sweetener.

Bulk List
CSA Bulk Week of
Member Cost Non- Member Cost
Dried herbs: $1.75 $2.00
thyme, marjoram, dried hot peppers, lovage, lavendar flowers, coriander, oregano

NEED TO KNOW MORE? Go to our Recipe page and search.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fall comes Early

In the Share: Week 15
TOMATOES (F/P) farewell, sweet fruit until next summer.
CHERRY TOMATOES or SALSA PACKS (F) The cherries continue on although in smaller quantities as the summer fades.
SWEET PEPPER (P) every other week for awhile.
RATTLESNAKE BEANS (F) See Tom’s blog for more on them.
CARROTS (F/P) More colorful ones from the last dig.
ONIONS (F/P) The last of the sweets and some Ailsa Craig.
GREENS CHOICE: Collards, Kale or Turnip Greens (F) the first picking off of the fall brasicas and the thinnings from the turnip patch.
HERB CHOICE (F/P) Mint, chives or basil or a dried herb.

Also this week: Parker Farms meat & egg shares

Next Week: More beans, peppers, and cherry tomatoes. The last of the potato crop and garlic. Bread share delivery.

Farm report
Here we are in the middle of August and the summer seems to be already gone. Fog blankets the fields most mornings until the sun warms the air into the mid-80s. We couldn’t ask for more gorgeous weather for working outdoors. All this pleasantness does come with a price as we’ve been hearing lately of it being an early fall. If our farm is any indication, it’s already here. The heavy dew and fog has been led to a quick end of the cucurbits as their leaves turned brown and crisp overnight.
Fortunately, the winter squash crop of butternuts, acorns and pie pumpkins had already ripened most of their fruit. We collected them and will store them in the upper barn until they go in the shares. It was a full load for the truck, quite a nice site since we don't always get a winter squash crop. It looks like we got at least a couple of week’s worth.
It’s been sad but rather satisfying at the same time to put away the summer crops. Jen and I made quick work of pulling tomato cages and fencing, then Tom mows the crop down and takes the spader thru to turn it all under. We’re holding on to a few beds with their last fruit, but another week and they’ll surely be gone. Tom spent the better part of today and yesterday turning under the summer beds and also turning in the summer cover crop of buckwheat in the spring field. The buckwheat responded to the wet weather by making a thick stand of organic matter that is now feeding the soil. The buckwheat is not just great organic matter, but a honeybee magnet. Working in the spring field recently with flowering buckwheat all around us there was a constant hum.

End of the summer means ripe peppers. The plants that made it thru the flooding look good and should be producing for the next month or so. A big thanks goes to Fran & Valerie Gillespie who came out a couple week’s back and weeded them. With plenty of sunshine and a handful of alfalfa meal at the base of each plant we’re hoping they’ll give kick in on the home stretch (I’ve been watching too much Olympics) and produce lots of fruit. For now we are alternating between the full and partial shares each week. We grow an assortment of colors and shapes including: Carmen, a long pointy red; Revolution and Red Ace, standard red bells; Pritavit, a squashed-flat red; Golden Cal Wonder, a yellow bell; Gourmet, and orange bell; Golden Marconi, a long pointy yellow Islander, the purple; and Bianca, the white (light yellow, really). We also grow some hot peppers. The Jalapenos are in the salsa packs. The green Ancho or Poblano peppers (for great chile rellenos) and the red Pimentos will be in the swap boxes. All spicy peppers have bright pink labels on the bags for the sake of those who don't like the heat.

What’s in the Share---Week 15

Giant Rattlesnakes
I’m talking of course of the purple striped Rattlesnake beans in the share this week. Some of them evade the picker’s eye for a round or two and grow quite large. These are still good, but will require some stringing.

The culinary suggestion for the week also relates to the beans. Whether it’s the Rattlesnake, Italian flat bean or regular green bean, they are all great with just the simplest of preparations. Steaming them and dressing with just a little salt and butter or oil is all you need. Enjoy the flavor of freshly picked beans while you can.

What’s Not in the Share
We’d been keeping an eye on several elderberry patches on and near the farm, and Sunday enjoyed a good harvest—over 12 pounds. Half of the berries are now fermenting, on their way, we hope, to becoming wine. The rest is destined to be jelly.

Elderberries abound in this area. Look for them along roadways and near culverts or other low areas. If you decide to forage some simply search the web for a recipe that suits you. Elderberries contain antioxidants and are know to exhibit anti-viral properties. It’s been a good year for elderberries, so take advantage if you dare.

Bulk List
CSA Bulk Week of
Member Cost Non- Member Cost

Dried herbs: $1.75 $2.00
thyme, marjoram, dried hot peppers, lovage, lavendar flowers, coriander, oregano

NEED TO KNOW MORE? Go to our Recipe page and search.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What’s in the Share---Week 14

The canning continues on the farm, as we save some more tomatoes from the compost pile. The seconds have been good in salsa and chili sauce, while the paste have been reserved for tomato sauce. The Speckled Paste variety has been a promising trial. I’ve never seen a better paste tomato. We hope to get an even better harvest next year.

While we feel we have found several excellent versions of orange carrots, we are still working on the red and yellow ones. They are not always as tender as the orange ones, and may need a little cooking to shine.

The recipe below was inspired by a dish that friend Liz Elmore treated us to. It as been modified from the version in the Week 15, 2006 newsletter, and is ready for whatever recipe change you can think of. Additions or substitutions of sesame oil, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, almond butter, hot pepper, etc. are all great. Try it on the kids.

Carrot Butter Spread


4 medium carrots, cut into bite-size pieces
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp chopped chives
Salt and pepper to taste


Cut carrots into bite-size pieces. Take three of the carrots and steam them until tender (10-15 minutes) Put the raw carrot, sunflower seeds, salt and pepper into a food processor and process on pulse to a coarse paste. Add the carrots and peanut butter and process again into a paste. Mix in the chives. Spread on bread or crackers, or use as a dip for vegetables.

Bulk List

Fair Share Farm
CSA Bulk Order Form Week of 8/11/08
Item Member Cost Non- Member Cost

Dried herbs $1.75 $2.00
thyme, marjoram, dried hot
peppers, lovage, lavendar
flowers, coriander, oregano

NEED TO KNOW MORE? Go to our Recipe page and search.

from the farm

In the Share: Week 14
TOMATOES (F/P) almost entirely heirlooms. Not too many more left in the field.
CHERRY TOMATOES (F/P) We think we’ll have enough for all or perhaps as a choice with the romas.
CARROTS (F/P) the colorful ones - best cooked, see Tom's blog.
SWEET PEPPER (F) the first of the ripe ones.
BEANS: (P) Jade, Roma and the Rattlesnake pole beans have started (purple-streaks fade when you cook them).
SALSA PACKS (?) We don’t quite have enough for everyone. They may be as a choice with the romas or cherry toms. Or they might just go in the swap boxes.
GARLIC (F) Partials will get a choice with the salsa or herbs.
SUMMER SQUASH & CUCUMBER (P) one of each minus a few squash. a second cucumber can be had instead.
POTATOES: (F/P) from the wreckage that is the ‘08 potato crop, we offer a rare treat – Bintge, yellow-fleshed and oh so creamy.
HERB CHOICE (F/P) Mint, chives or basil or a dried herb.

Also this week: Bread of Life bread shares

Next Week: End of the tomatoes, summer squash and cucumber season most likely. More onions and carrots. Meat and egg share delivery.

Farm report
As you can see from my scribbles above, the harvest is getting a wee bit tight. This is the point in the year where we enter a lull between seasons. The summer crops are slowing and the fall crops are a good three weeks from the first harvest. Every year so far we’ve been able to coast through this period on the late summer crops, including eggplant, okra and peppers and on our trifecta of storage crops, potatoes, onions and garlic until the first radishes, arugula, lettuce and kale start producing. However, this year is turning out to be quite a kicker with the cool, rainy weather continuing to rot our crops. The shares will be lighter for the next few weeks, but we’re hopeful that with some good weather (and a little luck) we can make it up to you in the fall.

The last two days were spent harvesting what’s left of the potato crop. Usually the farm crew is joined by the membership for the harvest, a perfect task for the whole family. You can thank us later for saving you from the experience (and aroma!) of a field of rotten potatoes. The only thing more shocking than picking up a nice-looking potato only to have your finger slide right thru it’s gooey center, is the fact that we got several crates of thoroughly solid, beautiful and tasty potatoes out of such a mess. Here are our seed potatoes laid out for sprouting back on April 5th . . . ah, such promise. Also of interest is the photo from the April 27th blog showing them underwater.

Here’s the tally so far: we lost at least 25% of the onions and 80% of the potatoes. The cukes, squash, peppers and tomatillos are at half-production. The melons so far are a zero. Half of the last bed of carrots rotted and the okra and eggplant are engulfed by crabgrass after repeatedly weeding them. We plan a 30% cushion into our plantings, expecting a certain amount of loss from pest, disease, weather, etc. But when we’ve got losses of 50-75% in some our most important crops, it becomes more difficult to stretch it amongst 100 shares. We do have a few bright notes. Most of the pole beans seemed to have survived the deluge, as did a fall planting of carrots and beets. There will be winter squash – it is next on the list to harvest. We are nervously eyeing the last planting of melons – best bet are the nearly-ripe Sugar Babies. There’s 500 feet of sweet potatoes growing well so far and most of the fall crops are already in the ground and growing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Soggy August

In the Share: Week 13
TOMATOES (F/P) the heirlooms are outlasting the hybrids this season – take that Monsanto! It’s the week to try one of our ripe green tomatoes: Aunt Ruby’s German Green or Green Zebra. CHERRY TOMATOES (F/P) Fulls get them. Partial shares get a choice with Romas
BEANS: (F) some choice of Jade, a standard green bean or some Roma II, a Italian flat-pod variety. It’s the first picking so we’ll have to see how far they go.
SALSA PACK (F) The best salsa starts with the right ingredients.
CANTALOUPE (P) There’s enough for the partial shares at the Bad Seed. Full shares are next in line for the melons.
WALLA WALLA ONIONS (F/P) Enjoy these sweet babies while you can; they are poor keepers. SUMMER SQUASH (F) Half of the crop is too soggy.
CUCUMBERS: (F) Ditto on the cuke beds. Partial shares get what we got next week of both.
SWISS CHARD OR BEETS: (P) try Tom’s delectable cheesy chard over pasta.
HERB CHOICE (F/P) Summer savory or basil or a dried herb.

Also this week: Parker Farms meat and egg shares –(rumor has it there’ll be chickens this week.)

Next Week: Fewer tomatoes, summer squash and cucumbers. More beans, garlic and carrots. Meat and egg share delivery.

Farm report
The farm is a busy place right now. With the summer crops still producing, the fall planting only half done with all the rain, and the weeds growing happily in this tropical weather, time is at a premium. Here's the signt that greeted us last Wednesday morning. That's the ends of the fall brassica beds with the 3 and a half inches of rain washing through them.
The farm crew is Farmer Tom, Apprentice Jenn and Farmer Rebecca (me, hi) and lately we've been wishing we could clone all three of us. We are very grateful to have another fabulous apprentice this season. Jenn is definitely one of the bright spots on an otherwise murky season. With her help, we did manage to get the garlic out before the rain last week and we finished the onion harvest on Monday. Luckily, the Walla Wallas and a bed of yellow onions were already harvested and in the barn when the rain came. Many that remained in the ground rotted . . . as did a lot of the cantaloupe and potatoes. If you get a cantaloupe this week, leave it on the counter to ripen and then eat it as soon as possible - they won't keep for long. We are giving no guarantee on them, but thought we'd hand out what we have of these rare fruits. The one we tried tasted more like water than the succelent cantaloupe we were hoping for. On top of watered-down flavor in the fruits, we are seeing lots of specks, molds and rots of all kind out there. We do our best to keep it out of the shares as a quick look in the compost bin will attest. In past Augusts, I would be talking irrigation and drip lines, instead the ground is too wet to prepare for the fall crops. Today we decided we had waited long enough and with more rain in the forecast, we prepped just enough to get the broccoli, lettuce, radishes, turnips, arugula and rapini planted. You gotta be on time for the fall crops because the daylight gets a lot shorter in August and the first fall frost will be here before we know it. Our strategy for any crop failure is to keep up with the planting schedule. We can’t do much now about the potatoes that rotted (did I mention that? Yes, a lot of them…. most, I'm afraid.), but we can get the fall broccoli planted in our best soil on the farm. We’re not panicking too much yet. The beans look nice both the bush and the Rattlesnake pole beans, although as you can see the middle of the beds where there's a slight dip are not faring as well. There’s lots of green peppers that should start ripening soon and our second planting of hybrid tomatoes is starting to produce. No matter the weather something always seems to flourish. Next time you curse the tropical weather, imagine you're a sweet potato vine and all will seem right in the world.

What’s in the Share---Week 13

What’s in the share may be slimming down a bit over the next few weeks due to the many factors surrounding farming this season. So it’s a good time to clean out the fridge of all those veggies you never quite got to.

You may be surprised at what you can still eat from a past share. Got some beets left from week 11, or a cabbage from week 9, or possibly even a kohlrabi from week 7? These items should store pretty well and still be edible. Other things no doubt got a little lost in the fridge and may need a good look over before cooking. But either way there is no doubt some items still around that will go good with this week’s share.

In keeping with that line of thinking, this week’s recipe is a mix of items from the last 2 shares. It was originally meant to be a type of stovetop au gratin, but it never set up, so Rebecca suggested putting it over pasta.

Onion and Chard Macaroni and Cheese

2 medium onions, cut into chunks and separated
1 bunch chard, stems and leaves chopped separately
2 cups grated sharp cheddar or other cheese
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk or cream
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or chives
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the onion, chard stems, salt and pepper and cook on high for 5 to 7 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Turn heat to medium, add chard leaves, water, stir and cover for 5 minutes. Uncover and cook off any remaining water.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium high heat, add the flour and stir for 30 seconds. Add the milk and cook until the mixture thickens. Add the cheese, stir until cheese is melted. Pour cheese sauce over vegetables. Stir and cook for 5 minutes or until desired thickness. Serve over macaroni such as elbows or fusilli.

CSA Bulk Order List Week of 8/4/08
Item Member Cost Non- Member Cost
Paste tomatoes (No. 1's) $2.25/lb $2.75/lb
$1.75/lb over 10 lb $2.25/lb over 10 lb
Tomato seconds $1.75/lb $2.00/lb
$1.50 over 10 lb $1.75 over 10 lb
Basil $1.75//bu $2.00/bu
Tarragon $1.75//bu $2.00/bu
Dried herbs $1.75 $2.00
thyme, marjoram, dried hot
peppers, lovage, lavendar
flowers, coriander, oregano

NEED TO KNOW MORE? Go to our Recipe page and search.