Monday, September 21, 2009

CSA News, Week 20

From the Farm

We started the fall potato harvest this week. A few years ago, we acquired an antiquated potato harvester that cuts underneath the soil and brings the potatoes up into the machine where we can pick out rocks; cull potatoes, and plant material from the good potatoes that then fall into a large bin. It was probably used for baking potatoes as smaller potatoes fall through; so we still walk the rows to hand gather all of the potatoes pulled up to the surface.

In Your Share . . .
Items in shares may vary depending on your share size and harvest day. Each share may not have every item listed.

Bean, Half Runner - organic
Find some beans this week, an unexpected harvest from the last planting. Refrigerate.

Beets – organic, new this week for all the shares!
This week’s beets may be white, red, golden, or a pinkish rose color. The rose skinned beet has a striped flesh inside: Chioggia variety. Each color has similar beet flavor and makes a striking dish when prepared. You can also enjoy the beet tops in any recipe that calls for spinach, kale or chard. Store your tops and beetroots separately and use your tops soon while they are fresh. The beetroots will keep for several weeks in the crisper area of your refrigerator.

It seems this late in the season that some items will never be ready to harvest (we’ve been watching these cucumbers for several weeks). But definitely worth the wait. Though late in the year, they have a crisp flavor and the skin is not yet bitter since this is the first harvest from the last planting. Refrigerate to prevent dehydration as cucumbers are mostly made up of water.

Herb, Fresh – Sweet Basil – organic

Peppers, Bell
This week find both a sweet red bell and the little more tart green bell pepper. We wrote before about the ripening process of the pepper plant. They have high levels of Vits. A, C, E and iron and potassium. Store refrigerated. You can also freeze peppers either whole, chopped, or cut into strips for use later on.

Potatoes – organic

Raspberries - organic

Squash, Acorn
No need to refrigerate, can be stored for a few weeks.

Squash, Yellow Summer

Garlic – organic

Lettuce – organic

Radishes, French Breakfast – organic
Radishes, Easter Egg - organic
Radishes, Black Spanish - organic
Radishes are well-liked in Europe and grown all over. Most popular are the sandwiches made with thinly sliced breakfast radishes and good butter with freshly baked bread.

You can enjoy many ways and know that radishes are interchangeable in most recipes. Have you seen something you want to try that calls for a Daikon radish? Substitute instead.

The greens are also edible and can by used in soups, stews, stir-fry, and more. They are a great source of Vits. A, C, and Bs and help to cleanse your blood.

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Best Acorn Squash
Thanks to a CSA member who pulled this from The Joy of Cooking. She says, "Hands down, the best squash dish I've ever had.”

Preheat oven to 375°F. Scrub acorn squash and place on a rack. Bake until it can be pierced easily with a wooden pick (1 to 1.5 hours). Cut in halves; remove seeds. Peel the squash and mash the pulp.

For each cup of squash, add:
1 T butter
1 tsp brown sugar
¼ tsp t salt
1/8 tsp ginger
enough orange juice mixed in to make a good consistency

Place in a serving dish. Sprinkle on top:
raisins or nutmeats
¼ C crushed pineapple

Squash Casserole
Thanks to a CSA member for this recipe. She says, “It is truly delicious and I was genuinely amazed at how well it turned out - pretty easy to prepare, and it doesn't last long once its on the table. A real winner.” Serves 6.

1 lb squash
1 large sweet onion
1 egg
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ to ¾ C mayonnaise
½ to ¾ C parmesan cheesebread crumbs or Ritz-style cracker crumbs for topping
1/3 C butter, melted

Slice squash into bite-sized pieces and dice onion. Boil or steam together until just soft (5-8 minutes). Meanwhile, mix egg, mayo, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a bowl until well blended. Pour cooked onion and squash into a casserole dish and pour Parmesan mixture on top. Stir gently to cover vegetables. Sprinkle with enough bread or cracker crumbs to cover the mixture and then sprinkle all over with melted margarine. Bake, uncovered, at 350 F for 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Roasted Beet Salad with Beet Greens
Recipe from Bon Appetit magazine, makes 6 servings, beets can be roasted the day ahead and refrigerated

6 medium beets with beet greens attached
2 large oranges
1 small sweet onion, cut into thin wedges
For dressing:
1/3 C red wine vinegar
¼ C extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp grated orange peel

Preheat oven to 400°F. Trim greens from beets. Coarsely chop leaves and stems, reserve. Wrap each beet in foil. Place beets directly on oven rack and roast until tender when pierced with fork, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Cool. Peel beets, then cut each into 8 wedges. Place beets in medium bowl.

Cook beet greens in large saucepan of boiling water just until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain. Cool. Squeeze greens to remove excess moisture. Add greens to bowl with beets. Cut peel and white pith from oranges. Working over another bowl and using small sharp knife, cut between membranes to release segments. Add orange segments and onion to bowl with beet mixture. Whisk vinegar, oil, garlic, and orange peel in small bowl to blend; add to beet mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Flourless Chocolate Beet Cake

Though a little unusual to plan beets for dessert, we don’t bat en eye when thinking of carrot cake or zucchini bread. This recipe is absent any flour so will be dense and chocolaty = yummy! Thanks to a friend of the farm for suggesting this recipe she loves; found online at just braise (dot) com.

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
6 T butter
¼ C sugar
1 tsp orange zest
1 egg, separated plus 2 egg whites
1 ½ C grated (cooked) beets plus 2 T cooking juice
¼ C cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 375F. Butter an 8-inch cake pan, line it with parchment paper and butter the parchment paper. In a double boiler set over medium heat, melt the chocolate and butter. With an electric mixer, begin beating egg whites with a pinch of salt and the beet juice. As whites build, add the sugar, egg yolk and zest into the chocolate mixture, stirring to incorporate evenly. Add grated beets to the chocolate and incorporate. Gently fold in the egg whites and cocoa powder until just combined. Pour into the buttered cake pan and bake 25 minutes in the center of the oven. Cake is ready when a toothpick comes out clean on the sides, but slightly wet in the middle. Removefrom the oven and let cool 5 minutes. Invert the cake on a plate and refrigerate 30 minutes before serving.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Week 19, CSA

From the Farm . . .

There are a few more details we can share with you about crop production this season. As we mentioned in an earlier news report, the rainy weather is much preferred over drought conditions; it just brings its own set of challenges to the farm. Plant diseases are more prevalent and spread rapidly without enough of the sun’s solarization that helps kill disease spores. Even farms with regular chemical usage have found it difficult to eliminate airborne diseases. Cloudy conditions with heavy morning dew, cool temperatures, and regular rains encourage weed growth (as we shared earlier with you), promote high insect activity, and reduces the ripening times for warm-weather loving peppers, tomatoes, squashes, and other items.

From the farm’s perspective, the onions this season are disappointing to us in respect to the extremely low yield of good quality onions we were able to dry after harvesting the entire crop. Like the garlic, the onions require a lot of attention and labor to grow organically. Rather than using onion sets in the spring you see available locally (not organically grown), we must start onions from organic seed. We prepare our own transplants (not direct sown into the field) requiring greenhouse space, potting soil, someone’s time to handle each seed individually and then daily monitoring of the watering – this is during the late summer to put out in the fall. We keep weeded and mulch with straw over the winter. In the spring, we continue with weeding and fertilization to encourage the onion bulbs to size up for summer harvest. This year many onions had soft spots due to the summer rains keeping the soil so moist, and unfortunately could not be dried out to be edible. The smaller onions tended to dry better than any of the larger ones, reflected in your shares. We know that nationwide, many onion growers experienced this similar situation with wet soil conditions this year.

On the other hand, with summer rains we did not have to put so much work into irrigation as the last two years. Water-loving crops like cucumbers, beans, squashes, and tomatoes were still set up on the drip irrigation system to ensure their needs were met, but we did not have to set up pipe and move lines on root crops, early greens, sweet corn, potatoes, berries and herbs. This allows time for other work and reduces the long hours of keeping the water pumps going around the clock.

The fall raspberries have been producing well for only their first harvest season. We experienced bird pressure last month but in recent weeks the birds have backed off a little (maybe the tine thorns on the berry briars have something to do with it?) The raspberries seem to be one of the most fragile items on the farm with the shortest “shelf-life”. This term refers to the time period from harvest to when something is prepared or eaten. Grocery stores want items with a long shelf life so they have more days to sell their inventory. Raspberries taste best when picked really ripe – so days to keep before eating may be as few as one or two. Store refrigerated if you do store them. Or, lie out on a baking sheet in the freezer; once individually frozen, gather up in another container for efficient freezer storage to enjoy this winter.

In Your Share . . .
Shares may vary depending on your share size and harvest day. Each share may not have every item listed below.

Brussels Sprouts - organic
Store refrigerated and remember to cut the ends removing the outer wrapper leaves before preparing.

Corn, Sweet
This is really the last of the season – we are taking down the electric raccoon fence this week also – it seems to work as well as anything we have tried the last few years. We removed ends that may be damaged. Store refrigerated until ready to prepare.


Garlic – organic

Lettuce – organic
With cooler temperatures we have some lettuces ready for harvest this week. We sure have missed it this summer and you probably have also! We planted a mix of several varieties and your share may have a red or green head. Store refrigerated.

Onions, Red - organic

Potatoes – organic
These all-purpose cranberry all-red potatoes are wonderful baked. You can also boil to serve with a little herbs and butter, or make potato salad. Try slicing, coating with olive oil, and oven-roasting at a high temperature for more healthy French fries.

Raspberries - organic

Squash, Spaghetti
Store this hard skin squash in your pantry until ready to use, as this item will keep for you for weeks. Boil whole; or halve and bake with flesh side down in a little water until done; remove seeds, then enjoy with a little butter, fresh pesto, or your favorite pasta sauce.

Tomatoes – organic
Most likely this is the last tomato harvest of the season, one to enjoy with your lettuce salad this week.

Beets – organic
This week’s beets may be white, red, golden, or the pink skinned, striped flesh Chioggia variety. Each color has similar beet flavor and makes a striking dish when prepared. You can also enjoy the beet tops in any recipe that calls for spinach, kale or chard. Store your beet tops and beetroots separately and use your tops soon while they are fresh. The beetroots will keep for several weeks in the crisper area of your refrigerator.

Herb, Fresh – organic – Rosemary and Tarragon

Okra - organic

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Spaghetti Squash and Shrimp or Scallops
Thanks to a CSA member who shared this great recipe! She was thrilled that her whole family really enjoyed this one-dish meal. You can use your beet tops this week if desired.

1 med. spaghetti squash (about 3 lbs.)
¼ C olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
½ pound shrimp, shelled and cleaned (or scallops)
2 T lemon juice
1 ½ T fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 sm. tomatoes, chopped
1 lg. bunch watercress or ½ bag spinach, washed
¼ C toasted pine nuts (optional)
1 C crumbled Feta or grated Parmesan cheese

Cut squash lengthwise; bake face down on oiled cookie sheet at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until easily pierced by fork. Cool; scoop out insides. Heat oil and sauté garlic. Add shrimp, lemon juice, and spices. Sauté, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and watercress or spinach and cook 1 minute longer until vegetables are wilted. Add pine nuts and cheese and toss with squash. Serve heaped in squash shells or individual casseroles. Makes 2 generous servings.

Brussels Sprouts with Orange Butter
Recipe from Bluegrass Winners

2 pounds fresh Brussels sprouts
½ C unsalted butter
juice and zest of 1 orange
1 tsp Dijon type mustard
cracked black pepper to taste

Remove outer leaves and trim bases of sprouts. Rinse and score stems with an “X” to cook more evenly. Steam for 5 to 10 minutes until just tender and still bright green.

Melt butter in large sauté pan; add orange juice, zest, and mustard. Add sprouts to the sauce and coat. Outer leaves of the sprouts will begin to caramelize, yielding a lovely brown color. Serve immediately. Recipe serves 6 to 8, can be adjusted for quantity of sprouts on hand.

Eggplant Cakes

2 eggplant (roasted and mashed)
¼ C mayonnaise (preferable from scratch)
½ C whole wheat bread crumbs
¼ C chopped fresh parsley
Salt & fresh ground black pepper
1 whole egg (for breading)
¼ C whole wheat bread crumbs (for breading)
¼ C all purpose flower (for breading)

Cut both eggplants in half lengthwise, using a paring knife score the inside of the eggplant in a checkerboard pattern. Place the eggplants flesh side up in a sheet pant. Brush the eggplants with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 375 for thirty to forty-five minutes until golden brown, and allow cooling.
Using a spoon, scrape the meat away from the skin and lightly mash.

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the eggplant, mayonnaise, breadcrumbs, and parsley. Mix to combine and season with salt and pepper, refrigerate for ½ hr.

For breading; place the flour, egg wash, and breadcrumbs on three separate plates. Using your hands, form golf ball sized balls out of the cooled eggplant mixture. Lightly coat the balls first in flour, then egg wash, and finally bread crumbs. Using light pressure flatten the balls into discs. In a medium sized sauté pan on medium heat, carefully brown both sides of the cakes in vegetable oil. Drain on paper towels and season again with a touch of salt.

Monday, September 7, 2009

CSA News Week 18

From the Farm . . .
It has been a little while since we gave you a crop report from the farm. We have been very busy with harvesting, seeding, harvesting, transplanting, harvesting, weeding, weeding, weeding. Well, you get the picture.

The wonderful spring and summer rain gives everything an equal opportunity to grow and flourish – including both perennial and annual weeds. In the spring we plant ryegrass between some crop rows to crowd out the weeds and we can then mow those strips later on. Some crops are planted through mulch that shows its importance now as it keeps the weeds from taking over the desired crop. In other fields, between the plants within each row we can use tractor driven cultivators to remove small weeds. But, with lots of rain resulting in wet field conditions, we will not use the tractor as it will compact our precious soil (creating more of a long-term problem), and we resort to hand weeding and hand hoeing.

We are direct seeding fall season roots, cole crops, lettuces, and greens for harvest in October and later. Other crops must be planted this fall for harvest next year including onions (we start from seeds in the greenhouse to transplant out), strawberry cuttings we root for new plants, and garlic. These will all be transplanted out by hand, watered, and mulched with straw that we have been cutting and baling during the last few months to hopefully buffer them a bit during our winter weather.

We harvest most mornings (before the sun has a chance to wilt the plants) for your CSA shares, the farmers market, or a special restaurant or bulk order and try to work on other jobs in the afternoons. We feel fortunate to still have a few tomatoes to harvest with so much early and late blight disease around the area. So far, our late potato crop also seems unaffected by the devastating blight, as we still have the fall crop to harvest and get into storage, along with the sweet potatoes that take the entire summer season to grow.

In the weeks ahead we have late plantings of squash, zucchini, peppers, and cucumbers we hope to harvest before frost. There are early crops of beets, cabbage, lettuce, and the hard shelled winter squashes on the harvest schedule also. Both plant and vegetable growth slows down as the day length lessens and the temperatures cool a bit, but fortunately the weeds do too!

In Your Share . . .
Items in shares may vary depending on your harvest day and share size. Every share may not have every item listed below.

Beans, Green - organic
Enjoy a flashback to the middle of the season with such summer staples as corn, beans, potatoes and tomatoes this week. These stringless green beans are the first harvest from our last planting and really did not suffer from bean beetles or the rust spots that come when it rains so much. You can enjoy simmered with potatoes or blanched and prepared as a green bean salad. Store refrigerated for up to a week; or wash, snap, blanch and throw into a freezer bag.

Celery – organic
Your fresh celery can also be washed, cut into ½ inch pieces, and put in the freezer for use later on. Remember the leaves are useful as a fresh herb replacement (try in any recipe that calls for parsley, a cousin of celery). Dice it fresh into potato or egg salad – remember from earlier weeks that the center stalks are tenderer than the outer stalks – the darker green, the better for cooked dishes. Celery is a difficult crop to grow so we don’t see it very often at our local markets. As a result, most folks are surprised at how flavorful KY grown celery can be! Store refrigerated.

Corn, Sweet
Yeh! We are excited to have more corn, even though it is late in the season for it. The last for the year, enjoy it boiled to just eat off the cob, or put on the grill. It stores best in the husk in the coldest part of your refrigerator.

Garlic – organic
We shared the conditions of this season’s garlic crop in an earlier newsletter. As described, any more cleaning by us at the farm will result in the cloves being too exposed to keep well. Store in your pantry or a dry, dark space, not in your refrigerator.

Herb, Fresh – organic – Sweet Basil

Peppers, Bell

Potatoes – organic
As we do rinse the field dirt off the potatoes, you will want to store them in your refrigerator if possible. Also remember that light will cause the skins to turn green since the organic potatoes are not chemically treated to prevent it. If you do get greening while storing them, just cut it away before preparing. Try the large potatoes baked whole, or cut into 1-inch pieces and boil. The gold potatoes don’t even need butter, as their yellowy flesh is creamy already. Eat the skin also to get your full source of complex carbohydrates and minerals (especially potassium).

Squash, Acorn – new this week!
Store this hard skin squash in your pantry until ready to use, as this item will keep for you for weeks. Boil whole; or halve and bake with flesh side down in a little water until done; remove seeds, then enjoy with a little butter and honey or maple syrup.

Tomato, Salad, Heirloom & Red Slicing - organic

Purple Topped White Turnips – organic
Turnips as well as the turnip greens have so many vitamins as well as potassium and calcium. They are also one of the cruciferous vegetables said to help prevent cancer. The spicy, yet sweet, flavor is tempered when cooked. Turnips can also be peeled and eaten raw as an apple; or grated and eaten with radishes, kohlrabi, cabbage or carrots as a fresh salad with vinaigrette dressing.

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Fresh Tomato Salad
a Mark Bittman recipe. He reports that since the garlic in the dressing is strained out, it does not overpower the dish. Peeling the tomatoes is not necessary, but nice. Makes 4 servings.

4-6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
salt and black pepper to taste
1 T red wine vinegar
3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds tomatoes, cored, peeled if desired, sliced
20 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Whisk together the garlic, salt, vinegar, and olive oil. Place the tomatoes on a platter and strain the dressing over them. Top with basil leaves, a little more salt, and some pepper. Serve immediately.

Variation: Instead of dressing tomatoes, toss green beans with the strained dressing and place on top of the tomatoes. Then finish with basil, salt and pepper as above. To prepare beans, trim the ends of 1 pound of beans. Cook them in a large pot of boiling water for 2 minutes or until bright green, then immediately drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.

Balsamic Vinaigrette with Fresh Basil
Recipe from Bluegrass Winners: New Recipes and Menus from Kentucky’s Legendary Horse Farms

1 C good quality olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
½ C aged balsamic vinegar
1 T chopped fresh basil
1 tsp Dijon type mustard
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in Mason jar. Shake well and vigorously. Makes 2 cups.

Maple Glazed Turnips
Recipe from Culinary Institute of America’s Cook for the Home, serves 4. At a farm crew lunch, even the so-called turnip haters really enjoyed this dish. They assumed it was potatoes or never would have tried it to start with.

2 lb purple top turnips
2 T butter
3 T maple syrup
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1 T parsley, for garnish
2 tsp lemon juice

Peel turnips and cut into 1-inch pieces. Heat 1 T butter in a pan on medium heat. Add maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add turnips and ¼ inch water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and pan steam until tender, 7-8 minutes.

Remove cover and continue to cook the turnips until water has cooked away and syrup has glazed the turnips evenly, 3 more minutes. Add remaining T butter and lemon juice. Sprinkle with parsley and adjust salt and pepper if needed.

Winter Squash with Jam

1 acorn squash, cut in half, seeds removed
2 tsp butter
1 T raspberry, apricot, or peach jam

Heat oven to 350°F. Place squash in ovenproof dish. Fill each cavity with butter and jam. Cover and bake until tender, 35-45 minutes. Serves 2.