Farm News 08/16/16


Important Announcements & Reminders

  • This is a pickup week for members registered for weekly vegetable &weekly fruit shares.
  • Next week we will deliver meat, eggs and dairy to neighborhood pickup sites and to home delivery members.
  • Tomato u-pick is full for the next two weeks. Spots are still open for tomato picking at the Grayslake farm on 8/30 and 9/1 from 3:30 to 7:00. The member price for u-pick is $1.50/lb (30 lb limit). To reserve a u-pick spot, email Jen at, and she will send you a confirmation email.
  • Case quantities of tomatoes will be available starting next week. You can find more information here.

This Week's Vegetable Share

  • Bok Choy
  • Carrots
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Heirloom and Red Tomatoes
  • Zucchini (off-farm pickup only)
  • Poblano Peppers (somewhat spicy)
  • Cucumbers
  • Parsley 
  • Basil 
  • Watermelon or Cantaloupe
This Week's Fruit Share
  • Nectarines
  • Green Grapes
  • Plums
Peg's Farm Journal
I stepped out the front door the other day, and was instantly aware that something felt different. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but there seemed to be just a hint of autumn in the air. It felt like one of those back-to-school kind of mornings--the air was definitely summertime-muggy but the rays of early-morning light streaming down from the sun as it rose over the treeline seemed somehow softer and more oblique than they had just a few days ago.

And then there was the dew hanging on the farmyard gate. Heavy dew seems to me to be a harbinger of fall, but I'm not quite sure I can produce the scientific data to prove a direct correlation. My best ameteur-scientist guess is that there is some causal relationship between the hot humid days of late August and the clear,cool nights that often start to creep back in at this time of year. So there I was, standing there the other morning, staring at the gate, sipping my coffee and struggling to recall the physics of condensation and evaporation when my wandering brain was called back to earth by my ever-on-task husband. "Time to pack the truck," he called over his shoulder as he wheeled a pallet of melons out of the walk-in cooler. "There's a lot to get done before we start picking tomatoes this afternoon." I knew this was true, so I reluctantly exchanged the coffee cup for a pair of work boots and a walkie talkie and headed out to the barn to lend Matt a hand. 

From mid-August to mid-September, almost all farm tasks are organized around the all-important job of picking those precious tomatoes. Hundreds of hours have gone into getting the crop to this point, and many more hours will need to go into picking them. On our farm, we start harvesting tomatoes only once the morning dew has burned off completely. The reason for this rule is that working in and among damp tomato plants is a sure-fire way to spread bacterial and fungal diseases from one tomato plant to another. A small disease problem in one part of the field can quickly become a crisis affecting the entire field if the plants are handled improperly.

And so we find ourselves during this lovely back-to-school time of year, rushing around to complete the morning's tasks before giving ourselves over completely to the tomato fields in the afternoon. It's a nice kind of surrender actually. Here in the Midwest, our relatively short tomato season is so precious that there's no other way to approach it. So be sure to savor late summer's fleeting tomato bounty. Add your tomatoes to salads, layer them on sandwiches and cook them into sauces. Or just cut yourself a nice thick slice, sprinkle liberally with sea salt and enjoy!

Have a great week,

Tips for Making the Most of your Share
Poblano peppers are hot, but not as hot as a jalapeno or a serrano. This week's poblanos are between 3 and 5 inches long and are dark green and glossy. Roasting poblano peppers before using them improves their flavor and allows you to remove their waxy skin. Once you've roasted them you can put them in a freezer bag and store them in the freezer for months. Poblanos can be used in many different Mexican-inspired dishes from rice dishes to casseroles to the well-known chiles rellenos. To roast them you can either put them under the broiler, use a skewer to hold them over an open flame on your stove top, or stick them in a very hot toaster oven.

Recipes from the Farm Kitchen

BLT Wrap with Basil Mayo
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
4 whole-wheat wraps, 9 inches in diameter
4 large bok choy or lettuce leaves
8 thin slices tomato
8 slices cooked bacon
Mix first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. Spread 1 tablespoon of the basil mayonnaise onto each tortilla. Top each with 1 bok choy or lettuce leaf, 2 slices of tomato, and 2 slices of bacon. Fold in the ends of each wrap and roll up tightly.

Spicy Nectarine & Yogurt Salsa
2 cups chopped fresh tomato
2 ripe nectarines, chopped
1 small shallot, chopped
1 poblano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Chill for at least an hour. Serve with grilled fish, chicken or tortilla chips.

Country House Tomatoes for Fusilli
1 clove garlic, split
2-1/2 to 3 pounds tomatoes, unpeeled, unseeded, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tightly packed tablespoons fresh basil leaves or other favorite herb, torn
3 to 4 tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fusilli, penne, linguine or spaghetti
6 quarts boiling salted water
1/2 to 1 cup freshly grated cheese of your choice

Vigorously rub a pasta serving bowl with the garlic. Add the tomatoes, basil, oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Let stand at room temperature while you cook the pasta, or up to several hours. Cook the pasta in fiercely boiling water, stirring often, until tender yet firm to the bite. Drain in a colander and turn it into the pasta bowl, tossing all the ingredients together. Taste for seasoning and serve. If you like, pass cheese at the table. 

from Lynne Rossetto Kasper of Minnesota Public Radio's The Splendid Table

Luscious Plum Tart
1 store-bought pie crust
6 plums, pitted and sliced 
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon of flour
1 egg, beaten, for egg wash (optional)
1 teaspoon cream for egg wash (optional)
Coarse sugar for sprinkling

In a medium sized bowl, gently toss the plum slices with the sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice and flour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough so that it is a little bit bigger than its original dimensions. Place rolled-out pie dough in the center of a lined or buttered baking sheet. Arrange the plum slices in a circular pattern, starting from 1 1/2 to 2 inches from the outside edge of the dough, working your way into the center. Fold the edges of the pie crust up and over so that a circle of the filling is visible in the middle.

If you want an attractive finish for the crust, whisk together the egg and cream in a small bowl. Brush on the exposed pie crust with a pastry brush. Sprinkle with some coarse sugar. Place in the middle rack of the oven. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned and the filling is bubbly. Cool on a rack for an hour before serving.

Fall Share Registration
We still have a few spots available for fall vegetables, fall meat, and fall dairy. (Egg shares are sold out.) The fall season starts the week of October 10th and runs through the week of November 14th. Register online at

Fall Vegetable Share (6 deliveries)  $200
Vegetable shares are delivered every week. There are 6 deliveries during the Fall Season. The Fall Share is the perfect way to savor the flavors of our Midwestern roots. You will receive beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, garlic, kale, herbs, leeks, onions, parsnips, potatoes, rutabagas, salad greens, shallots, spinach, sweet potatoes, turnips, winter squash and more. 
Fall Dairy Share (3 deliveries)  $55
Dairy shares are delivered every other week. There are 3 dairy deliveries during the 6-week Fall Season. Your participation in the dairy share supports family-scale dairy farms and small creameries. You can read more about our partner farms here. Each delivery consists of 1 or 2 different types of cheese (3/4 lb to 1 lb total), one quart of rBGH-free creamline yogurt and handmade butter. 
Fall Meat Share (2 deliveries) $155
Meat is delivered once a month. There are 2 deliveries during the 6-week Fall Share. The selection varies slightly from month to month, but each month you will receive 10-11 lbs of familiar and easy-to-prepare cuts of chicken, beef and pork. All meat included in the share comes from our farm in Brodhead and from nearby partner farms in Southern Wisconsin. (You can read more about our partner farms here.) Animals raised at Sandhill Family Farms and by our partner farms live in a healthy and humane environment. They eat a mixed diet of pasture grasses, non-GMO grains, and surplus produce from our vegetable operation. 

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... peppers, blueberries, tomatoes, grapes, corn, melons, eggplant, potatoes, garlic, beets, beans and more!

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  • Margaret Sheaffer