Monday, August 15, 2011

CSA Newsletter, Week 15

Communing with Mother Nature

Our relationship with Mother Nature is the compelling motivation to care for this land and produce food for you. In past weeks, we have briefly described the intricacies of soil microbes, fungi, and minerals. We have briefly discussed the fascinating diversity of the insect world, and the wildlife that call the farm home. We have portrayed the frustration of relentless rain and the death of drought. Planning and preparing for the range of environmental conditions Mother Nature may send our way is the job of farming. Manipulating the ecosystem to efficiently harvest healthy food is the work of farming. Being in a position to see, feel, touch, smell and taste the bounty is the joy of farming.

This past Saturday Mother Nature came calling. She unleashed a torrential storm so violent that it laid over two 150-year-old trees, dozens of younger trees, and twisted limbs and branches off of countless others. Crops that stood tall and proud, now are bent or broken, lying on the ground. Some are resilient and will continue growing and producing, others compromised enough to be economically considered a total loss. Shorter plants like sweet potatoes are just disturbed for a few days, other taller plants like sweet corn, peppers, and tomatoes are blown over or the leaves stripped off that will cause sunburn on any existing fruit. Some of these we will just have to wait and see if they can bounce back as it is too late in the season to replant. One of the greenhouses suffered damage and electrical power was knocked out to the entire farm for about 30 hours.

The cattle and sheep, laying hens and broiler chickens are a little wind-blown, but happy to have cooler temperatures the weather front brought in. The turkey trailer flipped over and the young turkeys freaked out, but we found them safe and sound huddled together in the corner of the field. Several fences are down from fallen trees, but are shored up temporarily until we have more time to properly repair. Several electric fences are already running off battery systems, so the loss of power did not affect those areas helping to keep livestock safely where we want them.

In spite of the adjustment to our workload and schedule, the livestock are secure and thriving. Most of the crops will weather the storm and your boxes will show the stamina of the plants.

Last Thursday and Friday nights we saw one of the brightest fullest moons in awhile; it was so large and orange just before dawn on Friday it could have been mistaken for the rising sun. Just a day later, Mother Nature spoke loudly in a different voice reminding us to pay attention to her more subtle message of providing our nourishment while enjoying the beauty of her artistry.

In Your Share

Items in shares may vary depending on share size and harvest day. Every share may not contain each item listed below.

Fresh Berries – organic

Sweet Corn-organic


Edamame – organic
These fresh soybeans are podding up and ready to eat! Do not use the shell beans raw. Rinse the pods and put into boiling, salted water. Cook 5-8 minutes. After draining water, you may salt or season as desired. Pop beans out of the pod into your mouth for a healthy snack. Refrigerate.

Okra- organic

Yellow Onion – organic

Bell Pepper-organic

Acorn Squash
Find your first fall season squash of the year, no need to refrigerate, it stays fresh in the pantry or basement for several months if desired.

Tomatoes – organic
Depending on your situation, you may find yourself with too many tomatoes, or possibly wanting more. If you take the time to put some in the freezer now, you may find them useful for sauce or soup this winter. For best results, put whole tomatoes in boiling water, remove with slotted spoon and put into ice water to stop the cooking. When cool, remove the skin and pop whole or chopped tomatoes into a freezer bag.

If you find yourself wanting more, we have #2 tomatoes by the boxful at a very discounted price – just call or email the farm to arrange for an order.

Garlic – organic

Recipes to Enjoy

Fresh Summer Salsa
Our thanks to a CSA member for sharing her recipe, she reports, “My kids and husband eat my fresh summer salsa as fast as I can make it! Too yummy not to share the recipe! “ Serve with a bag of tortilla chips.

Dice the following and add to a medium size bowl:
4-5 ripe medium to large tomatoes
½ onion
1/3 large green pepper

Stir in:
1 spoonful minced garlic
2 spoonfuls of diced jalapeno peppers & juice (pickled) (more of less depending how spicy you like it)
Splash of white vinegar
1 T extra virgin olive oil
Sea Salt to taste

Corn and Tomato Salad Recipe
Our thanks to another CSA member for sharing one of her favorite summer recipes!

4 ears fresh corn husked and removed from the cob or one bag of frozen organic corn, thawed
1 pint baby tomatoes, cut in half
3 T fresh chopped basil leaves
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

Mix tomato halves with corn kernels in a bowl. Add the basil and remaining ingredients, mix gently until well combined and let sit to marinate for a few minutes at room temperature.

Okra Fritters

We are sharing a recipe from a few years back as it became a favorite. Originally given to us be a CSA member, she even brought a sample for us straight from her kitchen. You owe it to yourself to try fried okra at least once this summer, it has an original flavor that is satisfying and can’t be duplicated.

2 C vegetable oil

½ C all-purpose flour

coarse salt and ground pepper

2 C okra, coarsely chopped (can use frozen, sliced)

½ C yellow onion, diced (about ½ small onion)

1 large egg

¼ C butter

In a large, heavy skillet, heat oil over medium. In a medium bowl, combine flour, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add okra and onion and toss to coat.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg and buttermilk. Add to okra mixture and stir just until combined.

In two batches, drop batter in 2 tablespoonful mounds into oil. With a small spatula or butter knife, gently flatten each mound and fry until golden, about 4 minutes per side, flipping once (adjust heat if browning too quickly). Drain on paper towels. Season with salt and serve warm. Makes about 10.

Benedictine Finger Sandwiches
Though we have shared recipes for Benedictine before, this one comes from Entertaining with Bluegrass Winners. Recipe as written makes 24 small sandwiches.

1 ½ large cucumbers, seeded and chopped
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 green onions, white part only, finely chopped
a drop of green food coloring (optional)
2-3 T mayonnaise
6-7 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
salt and pepper to taste
2 loaves of very thin white or wheat bread

Using a paper towel, squeeze most of the water from cucumber pieces. Combine cucumbers, cream cheese, onions, food color, and mayonnaise with electric mixer. Add bacon and salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare slices of very thin bread by removing crusts. Spread Benedictine mixture on brad. Cover with second slice and cut diagonally to make two triangular sandwiches. Store in airtight container in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Roasted Corn Pudding in Acorn Squash
Recipe from 101 Cookbooks dot com

1 small (2 lb.) acorn squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded

1 T clarified butter or olive oil

1 C milk

1 egg plus 2 egg whites

½ C fresh corn kernels (or more if you like)

¼ tsp anise seed, chopped

¼ C chopped scallions (or use regular onion)

a tiny pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

¼ tsp fine grain sea salt

1/3 C grated white cheddar cheese
another ¼ C chopped scallions for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375F degrees with a rack in the middle.

Rub the orange flesh of the squash with the butter/oil. Place cut side up on a baking sheet. You will want it to sit flat (and not tip), if you are having trouble just level out the bottom using a knife. If the squash is tilting on the pan, the filling will run out - bad news. Cover the squash with foil and bake for 40 minutes or until the squash starts to get tender.

In a bowl combine the milk, eggs, corn, anise seed, scallions, nutmeg, and salt. Fill each of the squash bowls 3/4 full (you may have extra filling which you can put in a buttered ramekin and bake alongside your squash). Carefully transfer the squash back to the oven without spilling (tricky!). Continue baking uncovered for another 30 - 50 minutes, or until the squash is fully cooked through, and the pudding has set. The amount of time it takes can vary wildly depending on the squash and oven.

At the last minute sprinkle with cheese and finish with a flash under the broiler to brown the cheese. Keep an eye on things, you can go from melted cheese to burnt and inedible in a flash. Serve hot sprinkled with the remaining scallions.