Farm News (8/18/15)


Important Reminders & Announcements:

  • This is a vegetable and fruit week for full-share members only.
  • Next week we will deliver vegetables, fruit, eggs, dairy and meat for full and half-share members.
  • We are now offering a half share option for fall vegetables. Visit our website for more info.
  • Are you interested in ordering bulk quantities of tomatoes or coming to the farm to pick your own? Scroll down to learn how.

This Week's Vegetable Share (full share only):
  • Carrots
  • Beefsteak and Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Red Potatoes
  • Green beans and/or Romano Beans
  • Lettuce Heads
  • Sweet Onion and Red Onion
  • Zucchini/Summer Squash
  • Curly Parsley
  • Watermelon or Cantaloupe
  • Garlic
  • Eggplant (some members will receive this week and some will receive next week)

This Week's Fruit Share (full share only):
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Peaches
  • Plums

Peg's Farm Journal
With the recent heat, tomatoes are  ripening quickly and in large quantities. In a matter of ten days, we went from needing to carefully ration those precious fruits to wondering what in the world we would do with all of them. Every August there comes a day when Matt turns to the rest of us and asks, "So... how many pounds of tomatoes do you think our CSA members can handle this week?" That's the day I know we need to fasten our seatbelts and get ready to enjoy the ride. It's tomato time! Tomato time means long hours in the field spent picking and long hours in the pack shed spent sorting and boxing. But it also means a six-week-long feast featuring the juicy homegrown fruits we've waited for all year.

So in answer to Matt's question the other day, I replied, like I always do, that there is no such thing as too many tomatoes in mid-August. Toward the end of September when we've all eaten our fill, then we become concerned about tomato fatigue. But not this week. I hope you enjoy tomato time as much as we will. It's an overwhelmingly hectic, busy, hot and delicious time of year!  


Did you know that a tomato starts out as a flower? Once the flower has been fertilized, it begins to grow into a tiny green fruit like the ones you see in the photo above.

 The variety called 'Big Beef' is one of our favorites. It produces lots of uniform fruits that resist cracking.

But we also love our more delicate heirlooms. These funny-looking tomatoes come in all sorts of colors, from pink to orange to purple, and in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Though some of them look quite different from the type of tomatoes you might buy in a grocery store, they don't need to be reserved for use in certain recipes. Use them in all of your favorite recipes--from BLTs to Caprese salads.
Tips for Preserving your Tomato Bounty
  • First, never store tomatoes in the refrigerator if you plan to eat them fresh. Temperatures below 50 degrees have a pretty significant negative impact on the texture of fresh tomatoes and certainly don't do anything for the flavor either. Place fresh tomatoes stem-side-down on a plate lined with a paper towel and keep on the counter.
  • On the other hand, if you know you are going to use some of your tomatoes in a sauce or other cooked dish, go ahead and put them in the fridge. You probably won't notice any negative effects on the texture, and when you have a large amount of tomatoes, this can be the best way to guarantee that none of them will go bad before you're ready to use them.
  • Another strategy is to freeze some of your tomatoes in order to enjoy them once the tomato season has ended. One of the simplest methods is simply to wash and dry the tomatoes and pop them in a freezer bag whole. When you remove them from the freezer, run them under warm water for a few seconds and you'll be able to slip the skin right off. While a defrosted tomato will no longer have the same sturdy texture as a fresh tomato, it will be perfectly delicious for use in almost any cooked dish

CSA Member Tomato U-Pick
What:  Members can pick up to 30 pounds of tomatoes for $1.50/lb.
Who:  Members of the Summer Vegetable Share (full and half)
Where:  At the Grayslake Farm (560 N Harris Rd, Grayslake IL)
When:  Members are welcome to sign up for one u-pick day. U-pick dates for August are the following:
  • Thursday, 8/20, 3:30-7:00 pm
  • Tuesday, 8/25, 3:30-7:00 pm
  • Saturday, 8/29, 9:00 am -noon
There will be additional u-pick days in September as long as the weather cooperates. We can only accommodate a certain number of members on each u-pick day to ensure that there are enough ripe tomatoes to go around. You can sign up for your u-pick day by emailing Jen at, and she will send you a confirmation email.

Bulk Quantities of Tomatoes are Available
Starting next week we'll have 20-lb cases of beefsteaks, heirlooms and paste tomatoes available for members. You can order cases by emailing Jen, and we'll deliver them right to your pickup site. Here are the prices:
  • Beefsteaks:  $38
  • Paste (Romas): $38
  • Heirlooms: $48
  • Mix of Beefsteak and Paste: $38
  • Mix of  Beefsteak and Heirloom: $43
  • Mix of Paste and Heirloom: $43
The minimum order is one 20-lb case. Order deadline is noon on Monday of the week you'd like to receive them. Please email tomato orders to and let her know when you would like to pick up your order.

Recipes from the Farm Kitchen

BLT Wrap with Parsley Mayo
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
4 whole-wheat wraps, 9 inches in diameter
4 large lettuce leaves
8 thin slices tomato
8 slices cooked bacon

Mix first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. Spread 1 tablespoon of the parsley mayonnaise onto each tortilla. Top each with 1 lettuce leaf, 2 slices of tomato, and 2 slices of bacon. Fold in the ends of each wrap and roll up tightly.

Eggplant Salad with Parsley & Lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 romaine leaves

In a large non-stick skillet heat 2 tablespoons oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté eggplant and onion with salt, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is browned well. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add water and cook, covered, until eggplant is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in parsley, lemon juice, remaining tablespoon oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Chill salad 15 minutes, or until ready to serve. Serve salad on romaine.

Spanish-Style Tortilla with Potatoes & Zucchini
2 medium zucchini, grated
2 teaspoons salt
¾ cup olive oil
1 pound potatoes, scrubbed and diced into ½-inch cubes
1 large onion, chopped
6 large eggs

Place grated zucchini in colander, toss with 1 teaspoon salt, and set in sink or over a bowl to drain. Heat oil, reduce heat to medium-low, add potatoes, onion, and ½ t salt, and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. If potatoes start to brown, reduce heat.

Squeeze handfuls of zucchini to get rid of as much water as possible, and add the zucchini to the potatoes. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for another 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and use the slotted spoon to transfer vegetables to a large bowl, allowing excess oil to remain in the pan.

In the small bowl, beat the eggs with remaining ½ t salt, then stir into the vegetables. Pour into pan, press everything down lightly, and cook, covered, over very low heat. After 7 minutes, use a rubber spatula to gently lift up one side and check the color of the bottom. When the tortilla is just about set and the bottom is lightly golden (no more than 12 minutes total), remove from heat and let stand, still covered, 5-10 minutes, until set.

Run rubber spatula all the way around the pan to make sure the tortilla isn’t stuck anywhere. (This should be easy if you use a non-stick pan.) Place plate upside-down over pan and quickly (and carefully!) flip both, so that the top of the tortilla is now the bottom. Slide tortilla back into the pan and cook over low heat for another five minutes. Let cool and serve.

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... tomatoes, beets, sweet corn, nectarines, lettuce, peppers, apples, potatoes, blueberries, melons and more!

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  • Margaret Sheaffer