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.