Farm News 7/19/16


Important Announcements & Reminders

  • This is a pickup week for members who are registered for weekly summer vegetable shares and weekly fruit shares.
  • Next week we will also distribute meat, eggs and dairy at all of our pickup sites and via home delivery. 

This Week's Vegetable Share (weekly members only)

  • Green Bell Peppers
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumbers
  • Swiss Chard
  • Green Beans
  • Sweet Onions
  • Kohlrabi
  • Basil
  • Popcorn
  • Zucchini (off-farm pickup sites only)

This Week's Fruit Share (weekly members only)

  • Blackberries
  • Sweet Cherries
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries

Peg's Farm Journal

As we head into the second half of July, the array of flowering plants on the farm becomes more beautiful every day. The little garden in front of the farmhouse, planted just last year,  is blooming its heart out. A tangled profusion of purple, pink, yellow and orange attracts pollinators of every kind, including squadrons of ruby-throated hummingbirds that appear out of nowhere and startle us with the loud buzzing of their wings.

A casual stroll through the vegetable fields this time of year can be a striking reminder of how much we rely on flowering plants to provide food as well as beauty. All of our favorite fruits, whether raspberries, watermelons, cucumbers or peppers, represent the delicious end product of the miraculous journey from flower to fruit. Some plants manage to pollinate themselves. Others are reliant on bees, birds, wasps, moths, butterflies, ants, beetles and bats to help spread pollen from the male parts to the female parts of the flower. Shortly after fertilization occurs, the petals of the flower wither and fall away and the ova begins to swell into a tiny fruit.

In the photo above you can clearly make out the many yellow flowers blooming in the melon field. Knowing that each flower represents a future fruit, it's easy to see that this field is going to be loaded with melons in August.

Meanwhile, a close inspection of the pepper field yielded this photo in which you can see three different stages of fruit formation. (1) First the flower blooms. (2) After fertilization the petals turn brown and fall off. (3) A tiny green pepper has begun to form.

Our pepper plants have been flowering for about a month, so some of those tiny fruits have become full-size peppers already. This morning the crew (pictured above) was out harvesting enough peppers to give out three per member this week. We'll continue to harvest various types of peppers, including colored bell peppers and hot peppers, through October. 

Chances are good that we'll add tomatoes, another flowering favorite, to the harvest list starting next week. The first watermelons, cantaloupes and eggplants should be ready shortly thereafter. There's so much to look forward to. We hope you're enjoying it all!

Have a good week,

Vegetable Notes: Making the Most of Your Farm Share

Our basil plants are at peak production right now. In order to keep the plants healthy and productive we have found that it's best to harvest the top leaves at least once a week. If we go much longer than that in between harvests, the plant will start to flower. In the case of basil, we don't want the plants to flower because flowering signals to the plant that its life cycle is almost over.

This is the third week for basil in the CSA shares. Starting next week we'll distribute basil on a rotating basis so that you won't receive it every week. If you haven't used up your basil from last week and don't want this week's basil to go to waste, consider freezing it for use later. All you need to do is remove the stems and place the leaves in a food processor.  While the food processor is running, add olive oil in a thin stream until it turns into a paste. Freeze the paste in a small container or plastic bag. When you're ready to use it, it can become the basis for pesto (just add pine nuts and cheese), or you can break off small chunks to add to vegetable salads, pasta, salad dressings, etc.

This week we're giving out the last of our 2015 popcorn crop. For those of you who didn't participate in our spring share and aren't familiar with popcorn on the cob, here's some info on how to use it. First of all, you should store it in a cupboard or other dry place until you're ready to pop it. Making popcorn on the stovetop is a little more work than the microwave version, but the results are well worth the effort. Start by removing the kernels from the cob. We like to work over a dish towel, pushing the kernels off with our thumbs. (The towel prevents the kernels from bouncing all over the place!) Cover the bottom of a medium sized pot with one layer of kernels. Then add enough vegetable oil to almost cover the kernels. Put a lid on the pot and place over medium-high heat. Once popping starts, shake the pot occasionally. Remove from heat when popping slows. Don't wait until popping stops completely or it will burn.

Recipes from the Farm Kitchen

Rick Bayless' Swiss Chard Tacos
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large or 2 medium sweet onions, sliced ¼ inch thick
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped or crushed through a garlic press
1 teaspoon chile flakes
1/2 cup chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
12 warm corn tortillas
1 cup salsa
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled or grated cheese of your choice

Cut the chard crosswise in ½-inch slices and chop the stems. In a very large (12-inch) skillet, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until browned but still crunchy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chile flakes, stir for a few seconds until aromatic, then add the broth or water, ½ teaspoon salt and the chard stems. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chard leaves and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Uncover the pan, raise the temperature to medium-high and cook, stirring continually, until the mixture is nearly dry. Taste and season with additional salt if needed. Serve with warm tortillas, salsa and cheese.

Beef & Green Pepper Stir Fry
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry white wine
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound beef, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup canned beef broth
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained
2 green bell peppers, thinly sliced
Freshly cooked rice

Combine 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, wine, sesame oil, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, ginger and garlic in medium bowl. Add beef and stir to coat. Let stand 30 minutes. Combine broth, remaining 1 teaspoon soy sauce and remaining 1 teaspoon cornstarch in small bowl.

Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in wok or heavy large skillet over high heat. Add water chestnuts and bell pepper and stir-fry 2 minutes. Remove from wok. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in wok. Add beef with marinade and stir-fry until just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Return water chestnuts and peppers to wok and mix well. Stir broth mixture. Add to wok and cook until sauce boils and thickens, about 30 seconds. Serve with freshly cooked

Crunchy Veg Bowl with Spicy Peanut Sauce
for the sauce:
2 red or green Thai chiles, chopped
1 garlic clove, grated
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce

for the salad:
1/4 head of cabbage, very thinly sliced
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded & thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1/3 cup unsalted, toasted peanuts, crushed

Start by making the sauce. Pulse chiles, garlic, peanut butter, coconut milk, brown sugar, lime juice, and soy sauce in a blender until smooth. Transfer peanut sauce to a small saucepan and add 1/4 cup water (if too thick, add a splash or so of water as needed). Heat over medium-low, whisking often, until smooth and hot, about 5 minutes; season with salt. Keep warm over low heat, whisking occasionally.

Toss cabbage, onion, cucumber, bell pepper and cilantro in a large bowl to combine. Top with peanuts. 
Drizzle salad with some peanut sauce, with more sauce on the side. 
Serve salad on its own or with rice noodles or brown rice.adapted from a recipe in the May 2016 issue of Bon Appetit.

Blueberry Fool
A fool is a lovely old-fashioned dessert made from a combination of cooked seasonal fruit and whipped cream or custard. The key to a beautiful presentation is to fold the cooked berries gently into the cream so that purple streaks run through the white cream. Be careful not to overmix or you will end up with purple whipped cream!

2 cups blueberries
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
7 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream

Combine blueberries, lemon juice, cinnamon, 4 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until blueberries burst and become very soft, about 8 minutes. Transfer mixture to a food processor and puree (or use an immersion blender). Pour into a fine sieve set over a bowl, stirring and pressing on solids to remove as much liquid as possible. Discard solids and refrigerate puree until cold and thickened slightly, at least 1 hour and, covered with plastic wrap, up to 1 day.

Beat cream with remaining 3 tablespoons sugar to soft peaks. Drizzle puree evenly over cream and fold cream over puree twice with a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon just until puree is streaked throughout cream. (Do not overmix!) Transfer to a large serving bowl or individual serving dishes and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours and, covered with plastic wrap, up to 1 day. Serve cold.

photo by Amy Johnson

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... peaches, sweet corn, cucumbers, zucchini, broccoli, arugula, red onions,  peppers, tomatoes and more!

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  • Margaret Sheaffer