Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In the Share - Week 21

Jade beans

LEEKS (F/P) The long ladies are ready just in time for a fall soup.
PIE PUMPKIN (F/P) These are for eating, not carving. See Tom's post for a recipe for pie.
LETTUCE (F) Just enough for the full shares this week unfortunately. We'll have to wait a week or so until the next batch is ready.
BROCCOLI (P) Everyone's favorite. We'll have more in another week or so.
TOMATOES (F) The last of them.
CHOICE OF BEANS (F/P) The bumper bean bonanza continues. You'll have a choice of Roma flat-podded, Yellow Wax or Jade green.
CHOICE OF GREENS (F/P) Partial shares get a choice of Chinese Cabbage, bok choi or tat soi. Full shares get a choice of kale, collards or Swiss Chard.
HAKUREI TURNIPS (F) Crisp and juicy enough to eat raw. The greens are great too.
HERB CHOICE (F/P) Rosemary, parsley or basil.
CAULIFLOWER, SWEET PEPPERS OR EGGPLANT (F) The first of what appears to be a good cauliflower crop. The eggplant have gotten over their late summer stress and are making pretty fruits again.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Bread of Life Bakery delivery

NEXT WEEK: More cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, turnips and greens. Perhaps the first kohlrabi of the fall and more arugula. The much-postponed sweet potatoes. Garlic.

We had quite an exciting time after our last post. We went to bed that night only to be awakened by the sound of driving rain and hail on the roof. There's nothing like listening to a hailstorm within the comfort of your home while you imagine all your delicate lettuces being pounded to pieces. Makes it hard to go back to sleep.

By the time it was all over we had 6.6 inches of rain, marble-sized bruises on the lettuce, bok choi and tat soi and no internet. As many of you know our internet service is dependent on a small antennae mounted on the top of our old grain silo. It works great most of the time but a close lightening strike takes it out.

Harvest was very muddy indeed! We used a 2-step washing program to try to get the mud out as best we could. Despite our efforts there was still alot of mud and those hail bruises don't seem to wash off. Remarkably, the bok choi and tat soi made a full recovery within a few days and by Saturday's harvest the hail bruises were gone! We had no idea that such tender greens could heal themselves so completely. Makes me want to eat them all the more!

bruised bok choi before it heals itself

All this excitement has made the month of September fly by. Here we are on the cusp of October, the final harvest of the CSA just a few short weeks away. Before I go, I'd like to give a quick rundown on what to expect over the remaining weeks.

This is week 21. We've got 24 weeks in all, so the last distributions will be Oct 20 & 23. It's a little early this year, due to the way the days fell on the calendar this year. The End of Season dinner will be Saturday, Oct. 23rd. There will be more info. on this coming soon but go ahead and get it on the calendar now. It is the best darn potluck in town so you really don't want to miss it.

As far as the food goes. The crops are looking good. Most survived the deluge last week except perhaps some radishes and spinach. Otherwise, we've got lots of sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cauliflower, leeks, lettuces, broccoli, turnips, kohlrabi, peppers and greens of various kinds. The beets and carrots came up pretty spotty this summer and then the wet took some of them out, so we may only have them as a choice at some point.

So, enjoy these last few weeks. We know we will. The air is crisp and cool, the sun is shining and the harvest is on.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 21

For the first time in several years (back when we had less members) we are able to give everyone in the CSA a pie pumpkin. Our cultivation of the crop, along with a warm, dry stretch in June/July did the trick.

These pumpkins are not Jack o' lanterns so don't let the small size discourage you. They are meant to be eaten. A hearty soup, casserole, or creamy pie is the reason for the season with these. We hope you enjoy them.

Pumpkin Pie
Rebecca put her baking skill to work this weekend, making a pumpkin pie that tasted like it could have been served at the first Thankgiving. The recipe below is from the 1961 edition of the New York Times Cookbook.

We used a small/medium pumpkin and got exactly 2 cups of pumpkin puree out of it. It was more than enough to fill a store-bought 9 inch pie shell. As some of the pumpkins may not give you a full 2 cups, we recommend seeing how much pumpkin you have first, and then adjusting the ingredient amounts down some if need be.

Unbaked 9-inch pie shell
2 large or 3 small eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp molasses or sorghum
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 to 2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves or allspice
2 cups cooked pumpkin
1-1/2 cup milk, light cream or evaporated milk

  • To cook the pumpkin: cut in half and scoop out the seeds, place face down on a baking sheet, poke pumpkin skin with a fork or knife, add some water to the baking sheet and bake at 350 deg F for 40 minutes or until tender. Let cool and scoop out pumpking pulp. You can run the pulp through a food processor if you want it to be smoother.
  • Prepare the pie shell with a fluted standing rim. Brush lightly with egg white or shortening.
  • Preheat oven to 450 deg F
  • Beat eggs with the sugar, sorghum, salt and spices until well blended. Add the pumpkin and milk and mix well. Adjust the seasonings.
  • Turn the mixture into the prepared curist and bake on the lower shelf of the oven for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 400 deg F and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, or about 30 minutes longer.
  • Let cool. Serve with whipped cream topping.

If you have extra pie filling you can fill small custard cups and bake them along with the pie.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bulk List---Week 20

Time to freeze some beans for the winter, or make some pickled beans if you've missed your chance so far. Buy some bulk okra to freeze and add to a nice New Years Day gumbo like we do.

Green Beans: $2.50/lb
Okra: $3.00/lb
Jalapenos: $2.50/pint
Pepperoncinis: $4.00/quart

What to Do With Your Share---Week 20

As this season winds down, we are looking forward to a good harvest, and full shares the rest of the way. The winter squash continues to come out of storage and into your kitchen, and if the weather continues to cooperate, lots of fresh green vegetables are to be harvested from the field.
This week you will see some nice acorn and butternut squash in the shares. There are two types of acorn; the familiar green type and a verigated variety called Carnival. They are one of the simplest vegetables to cook and eat, as this recipe demonstrates.

Baked Acorn Squash
One nice thing about acorn squash is that when you cut it in half, you have an edible bowl. Bake it, and all you need is a spoon to eat it. Cutting them in half at the start is the hardest part. It sometimes helps to stab the squash and slowly work the knife through it, rather than trying to cut it in half like an onion.

2 acorn squash
olive oil
sorghum, honey, or maple syrup

- Cut the squash in half, from stem to base. Scoop out the seeds (save to roast if you like).
- Poke with a fork or paring knife 25 times to tenderize.
- Wipe each squash with a small amount of olive oil (I just rub it on with my hands).
- Drizzle about 1 tsp of sorghum, honey, or maple syrup on each. Add a small piece of butter to each. Sprinkle with salt.
- Bake at 350 deg F for 40 to 50 minutes, or until tender and golden brown on top.

The options for how to "baste" the squash when roasting are many. Sage is a good herb to flavor squash. Goat cheese adds even more creaminess to the dish. What have you tried?

Bulk List
Don't forget to check out this week's bulk list. We have extra beans, okra and hot peppers.

In the Share - Week 20

broccoli - the favorite fall flower

TOMATOES (F/P) Enjoy this moment while we still have the summer fruits and the flavors of fall.
GREEN BEANS (F/P) We have a bumper crop at the moment as 4 beds of beans decided to ripen all at once! The green beans are called, Jade. Very sweet and long and tender. We have a few more yellow wax and Roma types. Extra Jade beans are on the bulk list this week only.
LETTUCE (F/P) More ruffled red leaf and some new green romaines.
RADISHES OR TURNIPS (F/P) Partial shares get radishes, full shares get a choice.
SWEET PEPPERS (F/P) September peppers are always the best, evenly-ripened and incredibly sweet.
BROCCOLI (F) Nice heads are beginning to form in the patch. Partial shares are next in line.
GARLIC (F/P) Artichoke soft-necked variety. Partial shares get a choice with the herbs.
WINTER SQUASH (F/P) This week you will be receiving acorn & carnival squash varieties with a few butternut thrown in. Check Tom's blog for our favorite way to eat them - so simple but good.
CHOICE OF GREENS (F/P) The greens are back and looking beautiful. This week we are catching up with the partials giving them a choice of kale, Swiss chard or collards. Full shares choose between Chinese cabbage, tat soi and bok choi.
HERBS OR HOT PEPPERS (F/P) Sage, garlic chives or hot peppers. Sage is nice with winter squash. The hot peppers are plentiful right now. See the bulk list if you'd like to buy some for freezing.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Parker Farms delivery
NEXT WEEK: More broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, greens, turnips and lettuce. The first sweet potatoes (we delayed this a week as they seem to need a bit more time to cure) and leeks.

Tom and I are routinely asked what our favorite job on the farm is. We both agree that harvesting a good crop ranks pretty high on our list of favorite things. It's even better when it's a highly-desireable crop like broccoli. The fall plantings are looking very good and we hope to have the cruciferous flower in the shares from now until the end of the season.

broccoli and it's paler cousin, cauliflower, in full leaf out.

The 2010 member survey shows that broccoli is your favorite too. You want us to produce more broccoli over any other vegetable. Only the juicy 'berries' catagory had more requests, but not many more. Other favorites were tomatoes and spinach.

Another tidbit from the survey include that 100% of you think your time at the farm was utilized 'effectively'. Glad to hear it. We surely appreciate your help. For example, this past Saturday a crew of about 16 picked 180 lbs. of green beans in addition to the greens and roots included in that day's shares. We're pretty sure that's a record for one morning's work. Check out the stop action video.

We thank you all for putting up with the 'very, very hot days', the bending over, waking up early on a Saturday and the dirt. Your comments are welcomed here and we hope to improve the experience, with the obvious caveats about weather included, for next season and beyond.

Getting 'hot and dirty' was also one of your favorite aspects about farm work. As was 'seeing where the food comes from', 'getting up and out that early and spending time with my son' and 'educating the kids'. One member stated they 'actually loved weeding the strawberry patch' and more of you liked harvest.

Meanwhile, our dedicated crew of FSF CSA Core Group members won high praises. We agree with you all that the distribution teams are doing a great job of making the process easy and flexible. While membership on the Core Group replaces the farm shift requirement, it surely requires more time and equal effort. Special thanks goes to the talented Gary Glauberman, who created and coordinated the survey. It was a beautiul thing.
And one last thanks to the talented Lauren, who has been working alongside us for over a week. She came to visit farm apprentice Emily and in the process harvested, planted and worked in the compost. We appreciate her fortitude and joyful spirit and wish her all the best on her travels.

Emily and Lauren at the Equinox sunrise.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fair Share Farm Art

The submissions are short of expectations, but still coming in for the Fair Share Farm Art Project. We hope you are still thinking of showing the world what you think of food. We have extended the deadline until the end of October. So, if you were going to enter but felt you didn't have the time, now's your chance to catch up on things.

Even if you don't enter, you are encouraged to view the entries for fun and inspiration. Click here to find out what a cherry tomato rainbow is, as well as to see a tomato quilt and some fine drawings.

In the Share - Week 19

freshly dug potatoes

TOMATOES (F/P) Another week out of the last planting
POTATOES (F) An assortment of types from the last of the crop. Sweet potatoes will fill their shoes starting next week.
ONIONS (F/P) Yellow storage types
GREEN BEANS (F/P) Everyone gets a choice of the green Jade, yellow wax or Roma flat-pod types.
PINK BEAUTY RADISHES (F/P) They are pretty. Partial shares get a choice of okra with theirs.
COLLARDS OR KALE (F) The fall greens are here. See Tom's blog for more info. on the collards.
BROCCOLI, SWEET PEPPERS OR CUCUMBERS (F) The first of the fall broccoli looks good with hopefully much more to come. This will be the last week of the cucumbers.
LETTUCE (F/P) Finally some nice big heads. One in each share.
ARUGULA, BASIL OR PARSLEY (F/P) Arugula is back along with the parsley. The basil is still kicking.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Bread of Life Bakery delivery

NEXT WEEK: More tomatoes, peppers, beans, lettuce and broccoli. Perhaps Hakurei turnips. Sweet potatoes and sage. Garlic and some bok choi. More radishes and arugula.

Well, the internet is a bit dicey tonight, so I dare not take too much time in posting. This week has been real pleasant. We have the fields cleaned up pretty nice. Every summer things get a little hectic and we fall behind until around mid-September when we finally catch up.

We planted another round of head lettuce on Monday. We were a bit late with that planting in the greenhouse, so it will be awhile before it's ready. We'll have lettuce for another couple of weeks and then it looks like we'll have a gap before this last planting is ready in October.

Before last night's .75 inches of rain we were able to sow the winter cover crops of rye and vetch. Tom also prepared some new ground above the strawberry patch. It will take awhile for the sod to decompose, but after a few spadings and a spring cover crop it should be ready for 2011 fall crops.

Well, I better get off of here before I get kicked off. We have a big day tomorrow. Lots of beans and greens to pick. If you have some free time, we'd love to see you out in the fields!

What to Do With Your Share---Week 19

The shares they are a'changin' right now. We are starting a shift from the fruits of summer to the heartiness of the fall crops. Here are a couple of suggestions for you.

Collards: A green often boiled until it's super soft, try Collards with Onions over Rice, or last week's Kale with Vinegar and Egg, substituting collards. If you are a meat eater, it's great to saute your veggies in bacon grease instead of olive oil. Mmmm...baconey.

Radishes: Try a radish sandwich. Some good quality bread, butter, salt, lettuce or arugula and radish slices is a known winner. Check out Google for some images to get you thinking.

We hope the rest of the items in the share...tomatoes, potatoes, onions, lettuce...are ready for use in your favorite recipe and need no such suggestions this week.

Farm to Table
We love the fall, and the harvest that it brings. But the vegetables don't plant themselves. Here is a little stop action action from August 23rd, when the kohlrabi went in the ground. They are doing quite well at the moment, green and happy, and much larger.

A sharper version of this is on YouTube.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What to Do With Your Share---Week 18

In the Spring we often tell ourselves "if we can make it to Labor Day, things will be a lot easier." I don't know why we think that, because this is always one of the busiest and best times of the year.

Preparing the fields for winter, harvesting Missouri grapes, stocking up, feeding the CSA. We enjoy being tired out by such good things. And look forward to some good rest.

A new fresh herb choice, it is a favorite in our kitchen. Marjoram is very versatile. It brings body to vegetables such as summer squash, turns tomato sauce into pizza sauce, and imparts a wonderfully savory flavor to meats.

Its aroma is quite intense. It is also known as wild oregano. Store bought oregano can be a mix of oregano and marjoram.

Pickled Beet Juice and Greens
The cooking of greens often involves the addition of a liquid, to help steam them and create a sauce. This liquid is often water, wine, soy sauce or vinegar. For us pickled beet juice beats them all (pun intended).

A recipe such as Kale with Vinegar and Egg is a great one to try this out on. Just substitute about 1/3 cup of pickled beet juice for the vinegar and water.

Yet Another Front
The sky is a constant show at the farm. This cloud bank to our north probably extended all the way to St. Joe. Looked like a giant dust cloud. It quickly moved on its way.

In the Share - Week 18

this week's harvest
TOMATOES (F/P) The last planting of the season is giving us some real red beauties.
GARLIC (F/P) Artichoke soft-neck.
SWEET PEPPERS (F/P) It is pepper season. With many green fruits on the plants we are hoping for a couple more weeks of warm weather to keep them ripening.
CUCUMBERS (F/P) They won't be around much longer so enjoy them while you can.
LETTUCE (F) Some small heads from the first fall planting that is starting to bolt.
YELLOW POTATOES (P) With all the rain last week we couldn't dig the potatoes for the partial shares. Here they are now.
CHOICE OF OKRA, HOT PEPPERS, SALSA PACK OR GREEN BEANS (F) Lots of okra and hot peppers. Only a few salsa packs and hopefully a decent amount of beans finally.
CHOICE OF GREENS: KALE OR SWISS CHARD (F) We may fill in with sweet potato greens if the kale and chard aren't enough.
HERB CHOICE: (F/P) Basil, marjoram or garlic chives.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Parker Farms delivery
NEXT WEEK: More tomatoes, cucumbers, okra and peppers. Potatoes for the full shares, lettuce for the partials. Arugula and maybe radishes. Yellow Onions.

Spring 2004

Eight years ago this November, Tom and I moved to the abandoned homestead of the family farm. The 1930s era farmhouse and the 100+yr old barn were still standing although wildlife seemed more at home in them in the beginning than we did. We had apprenticed on organic vegetable farms for two years and thought we knew what we were getting into. In reality we found that while the apprenticeships were invaluable, there really is no way to know how to farm a particular piece of land than through doing it.
We knew that our topsoil was a silty clay loam with a clay subsoil beneath. We would be farming wind-blown soil, or loess, blown here during the end of the last ice age as the glaciers receded. The Loess Plateau extends up through Iowa and is one of the most fertile regions of America's Breadbasket.

That is all fine and dandy until we realized what lay below our pretty glacial dust. Good ole Missouri clay. Just like the ponds that dot every farm around, our soil holds water. The clay forms an impermeable layer that allows excess moisture to pool and suffocate the roots of tender plants. We learned this lesson our second year of farming when all of our tomatoes and potatoes rottted in what had been productive ground the season before. Lucky for you, eight years later we have a few strategies that are helping us cope with the 7 inches of rain over the past 2 weeks. Here are a few examples of how the crops are doing.

Bolting lettuces after the rain.

It's interesting that different varieties respond differently to the weather. While the Forellenschluss and Quattro Stagioni lettuces are bolting, the New Red Fire in the foreground is holding firm.

Summer squash with mildew

Right next door the sweet potatoes show no signs of stress.