Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What to Do With Your Share --- Week 16

As I'm sure you are, we are happy when the shares are full. This week we are able to hand out an extra item as a way of saying thanks for your support, and to make up for any short week we might have had. Lots of produce calls for a recipe that uses as many items as possible, and this week's (see below) includes potatoes, peppers, onions, eggplant, garlic, beans and herbs.

Hot Peppers
On May 17 of this year, as our tiny hot pepper plants were in the ground and waiting for the hot weather to start, the overnight temperature dipped to 39 degrees F. The resulting damage to these heat loving vegetables made us wonder if we would have any hot peppers at all this year. To our suprise many of them not only recovered, but have produced as much as any past season. In particular our jalapenos are going strong, providing the kick to this year's salsa packs.

At this point we have more than we need for the packs and, based on our member survey comments calling for some spiciness, are putting the jalapenos in the shares as an herb choice. We presume that those who want them know what to do with them. For those not as familiar with how to best use them, we provide the following general comments:

- the spiciest part of a hot pepper is the insides...the seeds and the white pulp. See this video if you are a newbie. As they suggest, don't touch your eyes after handling them.
- add them to any dish that you want a little spiciness, from fresh corn relish to a pork roast
- in general jalapenos are hot, but the heat doesn't linger like the really hot ones, so their flavor can come through
- if you own a food mill, like member and Everything Begins With E blogger Emily Akins, you can make your own hot sauce, per the recipe in our August 30, 2006 newsletter. While supplies last, we are including jalapenos on the bulk list.

We also have pepperoncinis for sale on the bulk list. These are the spicy little pickled peppers that some restaurants serve with their pizza. They have a thin, tough skin which makes them good pickling. You do not have to seed them, as they are not as hot as other peppers, and the hotness does not linger too long. Pickling them is simple, and if you make a small batch there is no need to can them, just stick them in the fridge. Try our recipe, or check out the web for other similar ones. There is no salt in our recipe (no particular reason). If you are canning them, give the slashed peppers time to absorb the liquid you add, and then add more. If you don't the liquid will fill the pepper cavities and drop the level in the jar.

Fried Potatoes with Onions, Peppers, Eggplant, Garlic and Green Beans
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 sweet pepper, cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin or pressed
1 eggplant, cut into dice
1 lb potatoes, sliced thin
1/2 lb green beans cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tsp dried summer savory, marjoram or thyme
1 tsp salt
ground pepper or red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp olive oil

Saute the onions and pepper in the olive oil over medium high heat for 2 minutes, or until onions are translucent
Add the garlic, eggplant, herbs, pepper and salt and cook for 3 more minutes
Add the potatoes, toss, and cook for 3 minutes. Add water, turn heat to medium low, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Add green beans, more water if necessary, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Uncover and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender and browned.
Serve hot, lukewarm or cold

Bulk Order Week of 8/24/09
Jalapenos $2.50/pint, $4.00/quart
Pepperoncinis $2.50/pint, $4.00/quart
Tomato seconds (as available heirloom and hybrids) - $2.50/lb; $2.00/lb over 10 lbs
Carrot seconds $2.00/lb
Oregano, basil $2.oo/bunch
Dried herbs $2.00/tin (thyme, marjoram, dried hot peppers, lovage, lavendar flowers, coriander, oregano, rosemary)

In the Share - Week 16

Onions curing in the barn.

TOMATOES (F/P) The cool summer has really kept the plants producing steadily.
WATERMELONS (F) Mostly Sangria with a few round Sugar Babies.
SUMMER SQUASH, CUCUMBER OR PEPPER (F) An assortment of extras - take one.
HERB CHOICE (F/P) Basil, garlic chives with flowers or jalapenos. Chive flowers are edible and make a great garnish. Read Tom's blog for more on the jalapenos.
ONIONS (F/P) Mixture of red and yellow types, including some Tropea onions (red torpedo)
BEANS (F/P) More Rattlesnake (purple-striped) pole beans and Roma (flat-pod) bush beans.
ALSO THIS WEEK: Parker Farms delivery

NEXT WEEK: More tomatoes, watermelons, salsa packs, beans, peppers, eggplant and okra. Carrots and garlic. Broccoli raab (rapini).
NOTE: The arugula that was destined for your shares this week died a quick death with the 4 inches of rain we received. A second planting should be ready in a few weeks.

Rattlesnake pole bean harvest on Saturday
Last Saturday, the FSF CSA Core Group spent a lovely couple of hours on the Barth's back porch reviewing the results from the mid-season survey. We were all thrilled to see such a great response - 96 members out of 140 distinct email addresses. A big thank you goes to Gary Glauberman, FSF CSA Inreach Coordinator, who created a beautiful and easy-to-use survey. Thanks also to everyone who took the time to give us your two cents. Because of the number of responses, we are taking the next month to digest the results with a final review at our September meeting. In the meantime, I thought I'd share a few of the highlights that we have found so far.

1. The Distribution Teams Rock! According to your fellow members, everyone unanimously loves the distribution process. We are very lucky to have 10 Distribution Captains who keep the veggies flowing at pick-up and do it with a smile. Thank you Mary, Gary, Stacey, Jes, Emily and Traci. Thank you Heather, Kathy and Glenn, Fred and Carole, Kim-Marie and Judith. We literally could not do it without you.
2. The Partial Shares have veggie envy. Every survey we hear from some of the partial members who feel their shares are a bit underwhelming. There's alot we could say here about the balance between share costs and veggies, farm work and fairness. I will say that Tom and I ruminate about this every week as we are preparing the share list. We strive for balance between fulls and partials. If full shares get 9 items, then the partials get 6; if 7, then 4. If the full shares got the cherry tomatoes last week, then the partials get them this week, etc. With over 100 households, it is difficult to provide a share that everyone enjoys. If you are unhappy with a partial share, might we suggest for next year to try sharing a full share with a friend or family member. We have seen many a partial do just that with good results. Tom and I will continue to mull over this quandry and any suggestions are, as always, welcome.
3. And finally, you all care about your food. Here's a sprinkling of some of the many comments that filled the pages:

"It is about the vegetables ... and it is about valuing and working for the integrity of our food, which is the foundation of our health and well-being, as well as that of our community."

"I think the help given on the farm is an excellent way to contribute to a great cause. Not only is the activity fun, but it also has some emotional benefits because of being outside, being active and most importantly the thought that you are helping harvest so many people's dinners."

"Love the farmers, farm, veggies, other members. Love eating seasonally. Being a member of Fair Share Farm is nothing but rewarding and fulfilling for our family."

"Thank you all for what you do to give me and my family good, clean, fresh food!

"Being a part of the Fair Share Farm has been and continues to be a beautiful reminder for me of the connection that we all share and our interdependence on one another. I am enriched by my connection with the farm and am so grateful for that. I think that the farm continues to have a ripple effect out to the rest of the world every time a member talks to someone about the CSA and why they joined one, or an article in the paper is read by someone who may start then making a conscience choice to buy local, or one of the apprentices goes on to start another farm, etc. "

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In the Share - Week 15

TOMATOES (F/P) They are starting to slow down a bit but there's still lots of green ones on the vine.
CHERRY TOMATOES (F) We'll harvest just enough for the full shares tomorrow hopefully.
SUMMER SQUASH (F) A new planting is starting to kick out the fruits that go with everything.
GREEN BEANS OR SALSA PACKS (F) A choice of a variety of beans (Romas, Rattlesnake or Jade) or a kit for the salsa bowl.
SALSA PACKS (P) All the partials get one
EGGPLANT (F/P) A choice for the partials with the okra that is finally starting to produce.
SWEET PEPPERS (F) One ripe pepper this week
MUSIK GARLIC (F/P) A choice for the partials with the herbs.
CARROTS (F/P) We're pulling some big beauties out of the ground right now.
HERB CHOICE (F) Parsley, basil, chives or a dried herb

ALSO THIS WEEK: Bread of Life Bakery delivery.

NEXT WEEK: More tomatoes, beans, squash, eggplant and peppers. Potatoes and onions. Arugula perhaps. More watermelons.

THE FIELDS: Neither of us can remember an August like this one. The plant world is luciously alive and growing. Fresh new, green growth abounds in what is usually a dry, desicated time of year. Such a climatic abnormality has its upsides and downsides. On the upside, the plants are vibrant and full of life. While we only have 2 months until frost, the tomatoes and other summer plants continue to flower and sprout new leaves. At this rate we should have a good pre-frost harvest of the summer crops in early fall including lots of green tomatoes, peppers and baby eggplants. The wet summer also is providing ideal conditions for the growth of the fall crops. Below is pictured some of the fall broccoli which seems to be doubling in size every week. All of the direct seeded crops have sprouted well, all but guaranteeing a bountiful autumn.

But, of course, with every upside, there is a downside. Wet and warm are the ideal conditions for the fungi family. Leaf spot on the tomatoes is starting to reach the fruit, anthracnose on the peppers is keeping alot of ripe peppers out of your hands and in the #2 bin, our onion harvest is not curing well and many are ending up in the compost pile. Such is the tradeoffs of growing vegetables in an erratic climate. You've got to take the good with the bad as they say.

Before the recent rains (about 4 inches fell earlier this week) we managed to harvest the main potato crop. Above is the Saturday crew on task hunting in the dirt. We also pulled the last of the onions, a late red storage onion which so far appears promising. It is always nice when you can get the digging done before the rain. Nothing leads to rot faster than ripe veggies mired in mud. So, a big thanks to the Saturday crew. Today we pre-dug tomorrow's carrots. With the weather forecast calling for rain all day on Wednesday, we didn't want to chance not being able to hand out the beautifully big roots.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 15

Busy, Busy
No original dinner recipe this week, as we are busy on the farm preserving as much of the harvest and harvest seconds as we can. Tonight we are making onion marmalade (see below). Tomorrow we will can it, along with our 14-day pickles (it's day 14!) Also on the list are elderberries that we picked on Monday and are destined for jelly and wine. If we have time this weekend...more pickles and perhaps trying our hand at pickled watermelon rind for the first time.

In the meantime, we suggest the following dishes, which include many of the ingredients of the last two week's shares.

Eggplant and Vegetables with Lentils and Sorghum
Tomato Paella
Phat Thai Style Eggplant, Apples and Onion
Carrot Butter Spread

Onion Marmalade
First described in last years Week 9 blog, we have refined it as was noted and found it is what we are looking for. We made it with some Tropea onion seconds (some of the firsts will be in next week's shares). Below is our recipe. You can use whatever onions you have and reduce the batch size accordingly if you don't have a lot, and eat it right away. If you are using dried herbs use half as much.
10 cups chopped onions
2 tbsp
4 cups sugar (evaporated cane juice)
1 cup red wine
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1-1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp fresh summer savory
3 tbsp fresh thyme
3 tbsp fresh marjoram
Saute the onions in a large pot over medium high heat for 2 minutes. Turn heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until onions start to carmelize.
Add salt and herbs and cook 2 minutes more.
Add vinegar, wine and sugar. Stir. Cook over medium heat (simmer) for approximately 2 hours, or until reduced by about half.

Bulk Order Week of 8/17/09
Pickling pack* (small cukes) $17.00
Pickling pack* (med. cukes) $13.00
Pickling pack* (large cukes) $11.00
Tomato seconds (as available heirloom and hybrids) - $2.50/lb; $2.00/lb over 10 lbs
Kale - $3.00/bunch
Swiss chard - $3.00 per bunch
Carrots - $3.00 bunch
Carrot seconds $2.00/lb
Oregano, basil $2.oo/bunch
Dried herbs $2.00/tin (thyme, marjoram, dried hot peppers, lovage, lavendar flowers, coriander, oregano, rosemary)

* Pickling pack aromatics choices are garlic, dill, or cornichon

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What to Do With Your Share---Week 14

While I think everyone knows how to enjoy a good melon, a few notes on what you are getting from us. The watermelons were picked ripe in the field, with ripeness being a difficult thing to figure without cutting them all open. We expect that most all are ripe, however if you get one that is not, let us know and we will try to get you another sometime during the season. With the canteloupe, they are ripe when the stem end is fragrent and the green is gone from the skin.

Paste Tomatoes
Best for cooking, they are the meatiest of them all. Many of what you are getting are hybrid varieties that grow in a bush and produce a large bounty over a short time. The hybrids also hang well, and don't ripen too quick. So you may get a tomato that still needs a little time to redden and soften up. Just let them set out in a bright part of your kitchen (out of direct sunlight), and they will continue to ripen.

These tomates will be great in last week's recipe of Pasta Estate. They are also good for canned sauce, peeled and canned or frozen as whole tomatoes, or cut in half and dehydrated .

Pickling Cucumbers

Better late than never, this year's pickling cucumbers have arrived. The first planting did not do well and ended up in our larder as cornichon, dill, and lime pickles. This ones coming on now should be available for the next 2 to 3 weeks. They are for sale on a first come/first serve basis, based on their size. A pickle pack consists of 4 quarts of cucumbers and whatever aromatics you want for your pickles (thyme & tarragon, dill or garlic; onion, hot pepper)

Bulk Order Week of 8/10/09
Pickling pack* (small cukes) $17.00
Pickling pack* (med. cukes) $13.00
Pickling pack* (large cukes) $11.00
Green beans $2.50/lb
Summer squash/cucumbers-lg $1.25 ea
Summer sq/cucumbers-med $0.75 ea
Summer sq-small $3.25/qt
Paste tomatoes (firsts) - $3.00/lb; $2.50/lb over 10 lbs
Tomato seconds (heirloom and hybrids) - $2.50/lb; $2.00/lb over 10 lbs
Kale - $3.00/bunch
Swiss chard - $3.00 per bunch
Carrots - $3.00 bunch
Carrot seconds $2.00/lb
Onions $3.00/quart
Oregano, basil, mint, dill flowers $2.oo/bunch
Dried herbs $2.00/tin (thyme, marjoram, dried hot peppers, lovage, lavendar flowers, coriander, oregano, rosemary)

* Pickling pack aromatics choices are garlic, dill, or cornichon

In the Share - Week 14

TOMATOES (F/P) Lots of colorful heirlooms this week.
ROMA TOMATOES (F) A handful for the full shares - makes the best pasta sauce! Partial shares get a choice of romas or cherry tomatoes.
DESIREE POTATOES (F/P) Creamy, rose-skinned deliciousness
SUMMER SQUASH (P) Partial shares get one good sized squash and cucumber from the new patch
CUCUMBERS (F/P) Time for some cucumber soup! Full shares are getting two or three good-sized ones. Order extra on the bulk list this week.
MELONS (F/P) A choice of a cantaloupe or a Sangria watermelon
HERB (F) Pesto bunch of basil. Big enough for a dish or two.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Parker Farms delivery

NEXT WEEK: More tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, salsa and melons. The Roma- type beans (flat-pod) should be starting. Carrots and garlic return. The eggplant returns along with the first few ripe peppers.

THE FIELDS: Its a bountiful time of year at the farm. Above is a photo from the carrot digging last week. Those are the Bolero carrots - our favorite all-around producer of crunchy roots. The carrots should keep coming as we have more in that bed, plus 2 more plantings for fall.

The farm crew is spending at least half of each week harvesting the summer crops. The tomatoes continue to provide us with their delicate fruits. When the August heat is on it is difficult to keep up with them. We are trying our best to give you tomatoes that will keep for the week. We put less ripe fruit in the shares but when it's 95 degrees, they ripen quickly. Some farms have a room that is cooled to about 50 degrees to keep their tomatoes. That temperature keeps the fruit from ripening too quickly but doesn't harm the flavor and texture of the fruit like a refrigerator would. An insulated box with a window air conditioning unit would do the trick. Another project for the supposed 'off-season'.

Ah, there's nothing like an ice-cold melon in the heat of the summer. Tom and I are ecstatic when the melon crop comes in strong as they are one of the most difficult crops for us. It may be suprising as trucks full of cantaloupes and watermelons are ubiquitous this time of year. To grow an organic melon in our climate, however, is a real gamble. Melons are prey to a host of pests and diseases that thrive in our humid climate and heavy soils. So, while our melon crop is usually short-lived and rather plain-looking (we gave up long ago on the heirloom french beauties that chefs rave about, but the bugs always decimate), we treat each one like the rare jewel that it is. This week we have Retato d'Ortolani cantaloupe (an Italian variety that is hardy and tasty) and Sangria watermelon (a red-fleshed variety that has a crunchy texture and an almost spicy flavor).

In the few spare hours not spent harvesting this week, we managed to renovate the no-till beds. Although we heaped on the hay this spring the cover was getting thin and weeds were poking through. A thorough weeding and another thick layer should do it for the rest of the season. A big thanks to the Saturday crew that renovated the cherry tomato beds. On a hot day one cannot help but get bits of hay mixed with sweat stuck to every inch of you. Thanks to all of our sticky efforts the crops should keep producing until frost.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

In the Share - Week 13

TOMATOES (F/P) About the same as last week, with still many green ones on the vine
CHERRY TOMATOES (F/P) Enough for everyone this week
CARROTS (F/P) Some yellow and orange
GARLIC (F/P) A choice with herbs for the partial shares
EGGPLANT OR PURPLE PEPPERS (F) The peppers are still behind, but the eggplant continues to pump out fruits
CUCUMBERS AND SQUASH (F) Our third planting of squash arrives
SALSA PACK (F/P) Enough for you all - glad you like em.
BEANS (P) The partial's turn for the beans - the last of the green and yellow. Next up will be some romas.
HERB CHOICE (F/P) Basil, summer savory, chives, thai basil or dried herb

ALSO THIS WEEK: Bread of Life Bakery delivery

NEXT WEEK: more tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, summer squash and peppers. A break from beans for a bit. And we hope to finally get enough melons for the full shares at the Bad Seed.

PEAK SEASON: The end of July into the beginning of August is one of the busiest times of year on the farm. It rivals the April/May planting crunch. These hot days and warm nights ripen the summer crops as quick as we can pick them.
Hundreds of pounds of tomatoes are coming out of the field twice a week. Our tomato tying will soon be done as we are about to reach the tops of the posts. Both Wednesday and Saturday, we thankfully had reinforcements in the bean patch as it took most of the morning to harvest them. The bi-weekly harvests of tomatillos, eggplant, peppers, squashes, cucumbers and okra are on the increase. Sometime soon we need to find the time to harvest the bulk of the remaining carrots and potatoes.
Meanwhile all of our rows of tender little fall crops must be pampered through the hot weather with timely weeding and watering so they will grow big and strong by autumn. This two-headed monster -half summer, half fall - that we unleash on ourselves each year is sometimes a bit overwhelming.
Few growers in the area tackle the fall quite as vigorously as we do. They tell us that by Labor Day they want to turn their fields under and take a rest. It's very understandable. Many of our fellow farmers are busy harvesting and marketing right now and not much else. This is the make or break time for most farmers who need to make the bulk of their sales before school is back in session and the tomatoes are gone. By October the only local vegetable that gets any press is a big orange fruit that is bred not for it's flavor, but it's capacity to have funny faces carved on it.
Fall is different for us. Farming for the CSA allows the full expression of the autumnal season. We are able to squeeze in the fall planting during our summer harvest season thanks to the CSA itself. Between the extra hands on Wednesday and Saturday mornings and the fact that we don't spend time at markets or making deliveries to wholesale accounts, we instead plant rows of cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, turnips, lettuces, carrots and beets.

So, enjoy the summer fruits of all of our labors. Savor the season in all its bright juiciness. But don't forget that the growing season doesn't end with that last tomato sandwich. The vegetables will keep coming through the fall, thanks to all of you.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 13

Pasta Estate
You've heard of pasta primavera (spring), now is your chance to try pasta estate (summer). In Missouri, the vegetables of summer may be a bit later than in the Mediterranean, so this fresh pasta dish has to wait. It is simple enough to make rather quickly on a busy night, faster in fact than driving to a restaurant and waiting to be served.

You can use many of the things in your share or in your fridge. It gets a thumbs up from Rebecca.

1 medium green or red pepper
1 medium onion
1 cup mushrooms (we were lucky enough to have a wild puffball mushroom)
2 medium Asian eggplant
1 large tomato
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp fresh summer savory leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
grated Parmesan cheese and basil for garnish

Chop the onion and pepper and saute in olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes over medium high heat.
Chop the eggplant and mushroom and add to the pan. Add summer savory and salt, stir and cook for 2 minutes.
Core and chop the tomato. Crush and chop the garlic. Add to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Turn heat to medium low, cover, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes more, or until eggplant is tender.

Serve over pasta topped with grated cheese and basil.

Now is your chance to get some great paste tomatoes for making some high quality sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, or just for dinner. The paste tomatoes are at their peak, and may only be around for another couple weeks. There are also tomato seconds for sale. See the bulk list below for details.

We pick the tomatoes as they first blush on the vine, so we have them in various degrees of ripeness. Let us know what stage you want them at and we will try to accomodate you.

Bulk Order List (week of August 3)
Paste tomatoes (firsts) - $3.00/lb; $2.50/lb over 10 lbs
Tomato seconds (heirloom and hybrids) - $2.50/lb; $2.00/lb over 10 lbs
Kale - $3.00/bunch
Swiss chard - $3.00 per bunch
Carrots - $3.00 bunch
Carrot seconds $2.00/lb
Onions $3.00/quart
Oregano, basil, mint, dill flowers $2.oo/bunch
Dried herbs $2.00/tin (thyme, marjoram, dried hot peppers, lovage, lavendar flowers, coriander, oregano, rosemary)