Farm News 7/26/16


Important Announcements & Reminders

  • This is a pickup week for members registered for weekly and biweekly vegetable & fruit shares.
  • This week we are also delivering meat, eggs and dairy to neighborhood pickup sites and to home delivery members.
  • There are a few tickets left for Dinner on the Farm during Soil Sisters weekend. Soil Sisters events take place on family farms in southern Wisconsin, including our farm near Brodhead. You can find more infohere.

This Week's Vegetable Share

  • Broccoli
  • Bell Peppers
  • Zucchini (on-farm pickup only)
  • Eggplant (off-farm sites only)
  • Tomatoes
  • Beets
  • Cucumbers
  • Red Onions (these fresh onions need to be stored in the fridge)
  • Sweet Corn (from Didier Farm in Lincolnshire)
Thanks to last week's sizzling temperatures, we're getting an early start on harvesting our late-summer crops. Tomatoes are beginning to ripen, but the amount will be relatively small this week. Based on what we harvested yesterday and today, there will be enough for 1 tomato per member this week. The size of the harvest will increase steadily over the coming weeks, and your shares will contain more and more tomatoes. By late-August the crop will be be large enough to offer cases for canning and freezing. We know many of you look forward to this opportunity, and it looks like we will have a large supply this year. Keep an eye out for more details in a few weeks.

Our beautiful summer crops require so much of our attention right now that it's tempting to forget about the long list of tasks to be accomplished in preparation for the fall harvest season. 

Charlotte (above) was out early this morning on one of our old Farmall tractors basket weeding a field that will be planted to fall green beans. The basket weeder is a tool that moves quickly along the soil, disturbing only the top inch or so of soil. This disturbance is enough to pull up and kill any tiny little weeds that are just beginning to germinate. We like to go through the field with the basket weeder before planting because it's easier to kill tiny weeds than to wait until they become big weeds!

Tyler was also out cultivating this morning. He was using the International tractor and the multivator to remove weeds from a field of fall carrots. Because these carrot plants are only about 2 inches tall, they are pretty vulnerable right now. It takes practice and a steady hand on the wheel to remove the weeds without hurting the carrots. Fortunately for us, we've got a real expert on our team--Tyler has been doing this job for over 10 years. 

Back in the farm office, Jen and Jeff both keep a close eye on the fall crop production plan to make sure we are staying on target. So far things are looking pretty great. Jen has started getting fall membership lists together, and it would be great to have the lists finalized soon. If you haven't registered yet, you can sign up here. We're looking forward to sharing the fall harvest with you! 

This Week's Fruit Share

  • Peaches
  • Blueberries
  • Apricots
  • Plums

It's the start of peach season! Mick and his crew will be picking peaches well into September. Like many fruit and vegetable farmers, Mick plants a bunch of different varieties--early season, mid-season and late-season-- so that peach season lasts for as long as possible. Over the next couple of months you'll notice subtle differences in the size, flavor, and texture of your peaches. That's because the varieties change as the season moves along. This week's peaches are small and sweet. The flesh clings a bit to the pit, so they are best for fresh eating rather than baking. Store them on the counter until they are just ripe but not too soft. At that point you should put them in the refrigerator where they can be stored for up to 5 days. 

This Week's Dairy Share:

  • Chevre from LaClare Farms
  • 'Chandoka', a mixed cow and goat milk cheese from LaClare Farms
  • Saxony Alpine Style Cheese from Saxon Creamery
  • Vanilla Yogurt from Country View Dairy
(Home delivery members who registered for the Dairy and Egg Combo will also receive 2 dozen eggs, plain yogurt, and garlic basil butter.)
Our friend Ron Paris, long-time yogurt maker and owner of Sugar River Dairy, reached out to let us know that he is in the process of retiring. He introduced us to Dave and Carolee Rapson at Country View Dairy and recommended that we add their yogurt to our dairy share. Ron served as an important mentor to the Rapsons when they established their farmstead dairy in 2011. He even shared his recipes and techniques. The Rapsons and their 5 kids live on a dairy farm where they milk 280 cows twice a day. Once the cows have been milked, a pipeline takes the fresh milk directly from the milk house to their state-certified yogurt facility 200 feet away. Most dairy farmers sell their milk into the commodity market, and right now the average price they are being paid is actually below the cost of production. Building a dairy-processing facility right on their farm has allowed the Rapsons to bypass the commodity market and to make their farm an economically sustainable business for the next generation.  

The Meat Share:

This week you'll receive a whole pasture-raised chicken plus 4 items from the following list: bacon, ground beef, breakfast sausage, pork chops and naturally-cured ham steaks. Ham steaks are essentially thick slices of ham. We have our butcher cut the hams this way since it's not really feasible to include whole hams in the meat share. Ham steaks can be cooked in the oven, on the stove top or even on the grill. As with all pork, the internal temperature should reach 140-145 degrees. 


Recipes from the Farm Kitchen

Cold Beet and Yogurt Soup
4 cups (or more) chicken or vegetable stock
1 pound beets, peeled, chopped
1 cup chopped red onion
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons dried dill
Sour cream

Combine stock, beets, onions, and garlic in medium saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 35 minutes. Cool slightly. Puree in blender in batches until smooth. Transfer to bowl. Thin with additional broth if soup is too thick. Mix in sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill until cold, at least 4 hours or overnight. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.) Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with dried dill and top with sour cream. adapted from Bon Appetit, April 1995

Beet Tartare
4 medium beets, scrubbed
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
14 cup balsamic vinegar
zest of 2 oranges
crackers and chevre (fresh goat cheese) for serving

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place beets, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a 8" square baking dish and cover with foil; cook until tender, 1-1 12 hours. When cool enough to handle, peel and roughly chop. Transfer to a food processor; pulse until finely chopped, but not pureed. Transfer to a bowl; stir in vinegar, half the orange zest, salt, and pepper. Serve on crackers with a small dallop of chevre. adapted from Saveur, February 2013

Summer Minestrone
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups water or vegetable broth
2/3 cup elbow macaroni
1 bunch beet greens, washed and cut in 1/2-inch wide strips
2 medium zucchini, or 1 eggplant, washed and diced into 1-centimeter cubes
1 can white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup grated Chandoka cheese

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, pepper and garlic. Saute 6-8 minutes or until vegetables have softened.

Add diced tomatoes and water to the pot. Bring to a boil and add pasta, beet greens and zucchini or eggplant. Stir to mix and allow to cook at low boil for 7-10 minutes or until vegetables are soft and pasta is al dente. Stir often during this time to ensure even cooking of the vegetables. Add beans and remove from heat. Pasta and vegetables will continue to cook a little more. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with grated cheese.

Blueberry Lime Coolers
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
½ cup fresh blueberries
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 jiggers Vodka
lime-flavored seltzer
whole blueberries and lime slices for garnish

Prepare the simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Chill for several hours.Place the blueberries in a deep bowl and crush with a hand blender. Strain into a bowl, pressing on solids to extract all the juice, and refrigerate.

For each drink:
  • In a cocktail shaker, add a handful of ice cubes, ¼ cup lime juice, a tablespoon of simple syrup, 3 tablespoons blueberry juice and 1 jigger of vodka. Shake vigorously, and empty into a 16 ounce glass.
  • Add a few more ice cubes, and top off with lime seltzer.
  • Garnish each drink with a few whole blueberries and a couple slices of lime. Serve with a straw.

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... potatoes, peaches, tomatoes, lettuce, melons, fresh herbs, sweet corn, green onions, zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, blueberries and more!

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  • Margaret Sheaffer