Monday, September 14, 2015

Week 20, CSA News

Ready or Not, Here it Comes

     The relatively overnight plunge in temperatures from the mid-nineties, to the low forties, lets us know the summer season of 2015 is coming to an end. This year’s sequence of extreme cold with deep snow, cold May, extremely wet early mid-summer, followed by near record hot-dry September, has made for a challenging growing season, to say the least. Maybe this fall things will calm down to balance the swings so far, but we need to prepare for just about anything it seems.

     Despite all of these curveballs to a normal season, we managed to harvest some good crops. The greens were prolific this summer, maybe you blanched and froze some when we were sending you lots of them. If not, the fall crop looks pretty good. Heavy rains were hard on melons, tomatoes, and many other crops. Our later plantings of tomatoes are doing well though slowing down with the cooler temperatures. We grow the highly desirable San Marzano plum tomatoes and you are seeing them in your shares in recent weeks. This heirloom tomato has thicker flesh, fewer seeds, a sweet flavor, and is quoted by some chefs to be “the best tomato of its kind in the world!” You see them jarred or canned and available in specialty stores as they make the best sauce, and you may want to freeze any you don’t use fresh this week. If you want to secure a 10 or 15 lb. box for making your own sauce or to put in a jar or the freezer, now is the time, just email or phone the farm before they are gone. Be sure to share those favorite family recipes for us to include in a future newsletter.

     You are probably now realizing the sweet corn season in KY is only about 6-8 weeks long, in a good year.  We had some great harvests of certified organic sweet corn, making sure you were not exposed to GMOs and the related chemicals that are found in much of the corn available at local markets. We gladly overlooked the imperfections near the tip of some of the ears as a trade-off for clean corn. Perfection every time with sweet corn comes with lots of baggage.

     The first sweet potatoes were dug this past weekend, with a promising yield of more to come. The Irish potatoes are almost all harvested and stored in the cooler, with a mix of red, white, gold and blue varieties. There are some funny spots on some potatoes this season, most likely from the wet soil conditions for so long that kept them in the ground well past their normal digging time. Kinda like sweet corn, perfection is the goal, it just doesn’t happen every time. Winter squash are still growing and should be ripening soon, and the dry beans will have to be irrigated in order to make a crop as we had very little rain this past week. We were happy for farms and gardens in the Lexington area that received an inch of rain, Louisville up to 2 inches, and Norther KY even more; however at the farm we watched the rains move around us, only getting three-tenths this past week. The traveler irrigation gun is working day and night as it is so dry we can’t dig potatoes, or even till soil for planting or transplanting without irrigating first. Often we are putting the irrigation equipment away for the winter by now, but we’ve only seen rain twice since the end of July! Fall lettuces, greens, broccoli, beets and the like are out of the greenhouse, planted in the fields and poised to grow in the cool days of fall, while counting on us to get them enough water.

     It’s a good time to sign up for a fall share, to secure your supply of all these wholesome vegetables. As the days get shorter and the night’s cooler, you will have a sense of security knowing good food will be there for you and your family. The hens gradually lay less and less eggs as the days get shorter, so be sure not to miss out on getting your eggs as CSA shareholders get dibs when there is lower supply. We are stocking the freezer with beef, chicken, and lamb to have plenty for the fall season meat shares and the farmers markets. The heritage and broad-breasted turkeys are sizing up nicely, and they, like the other animals, like the cooler weather.

     With a diversified farming operation like ours, perfection in production is certainly a goal, but not always a reality. There are bound to be a few crops that under-perform, but optimism reigns supreme, and all-in-all, we are weathering a tough growing season pretty well. Cross your fingers that there is not an abnormally early killing frost, as Monday morning saw temperatures at the farm as low as 39°. The sun is shining, plants are in the fields, and there is water in the creek due to rains upstream. Ready or not, fall is here and winter is coming.

In Your Share :

Kale Greens
Green Onions
Bell Pepper
Hot Pepper
Sweet Potatoes
Heirloom Green Beans
Fresh Herb


Bhindi Masala, makes 4 servings. Our thanks to a CSA member for sharing this delicious recipe. She reports “Vegan, easy, and delicious. We left out the chickpea flour and amchoor, and used fresh chopped tomatoes with the skin on in place of the canned, and it still turned out great.”

½ C grapeseed or canola oil
1 lb okra, trimmed and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 T chickpea flour (optional)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 T ginger-garlic paste (or 1 inch fresh ginger and 3 garlic cloves, minced)
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp amchoor (dried mango) powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
¼ tsp ground garam masala
Juice of ¼ lemon
Cooked basmati rice for serving (optional)
Chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)

1. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the okra dry with a paper towel, and toss the okra with the chickpea flour, if you’re using it. When the oil is hot, add the okra and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender and deeply browned, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon, and season with salt.

2. Add the onion to the skillet and season it with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s soft and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the ginger-garlic paste, then add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, amchoor powder, and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and jalapeños and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to break down, 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Stir in the garam masala and cook for 1 minute, then turn off the heat and stir in the okra and lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot, over basmati rice and garnished with cilantro, if desired. (Leftover bhindi masala can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to several days.)

Kale and Lentil Bowl with Avocado Dressing, serves 4 from Martha Stewart
1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted and peeled
1 tsp minced garlic
2 T minced shallots
¼ C fresh lemon juice, plus wedges for serving
¼ C extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt
1 bunch kale, stems and center ribs removed, thinly sliced
2 2/3 C cooked lentils (if using 2 15oz cans, drain and rinse well)
Extra-sharp cheddar cheese
Roasted salted almonds, chopped

Pulse together avocado, garlic, shallot, lemon juice, oil, and 1 tsp salt in a blender or food processor until smooth. Toss two-thirds of the dressing with kale in a bowl. Divide mixture among 4 serving bowls along with lentils, cheese, almonds, sprouts and lemon wedges. Serve with remaining dressing on the side.

Sweet Potato Soup, from Simply in Season, serves 4-6.
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
5 C beef or vegetable broth
2 C diced tomatoes with juice
¼ tsp ground white pepper
¾ C orange juice

Sauté onion in 1 tsp oil in a soup pot until translucent. Add sweet potatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until sweet potatoes are tender, 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat. Add tomatoes and pepper, then puree in blender or processor until smooth. Return to soup pot. Add orange juice (and additional water to desired consistency) and heat gently until hot, then serve. Freezes well.

Cabbage Salad, a L.V.Anderson recipe
¼ large head cabbage, cored and shredded
1 to 2 ounces gorgonzola or other blue cheese, crumbled
⅓ C chopped walnuts
⅓ C golden raisins
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
Salt and black pepper

Put the cabbage, cheese, walnuts, raisins, oil, and vinegar in a medium bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Toss, taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve immediately.

Cabbage Soup, serves 4-6, adapted from 12 Tomatoes .com
1 lb sausage – use Elmwood’s organic beef sausage (hot or mild), sliced 1”
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 onion, diced
6 C chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T spicy brown mustard
1 T white wine vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, brown the sausage. Once cooked on all sides, add diced onion and sauté until softened and translucent. Then add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Next add the potatoes, mustard and vinegar, and stir everything together. Add chicken stock and cabbage, and season everything with salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Garnish with favorite freshly cut herbs (chives or dill suggested) and serve warm.

Sweet Potato Casserole, from Cooking Kelly dot com, a Paleo recipe
2 sweet potatoes (skin on)
1 ripe banana
full fat coconut milk (to desired consistency)
cinnamon, to taste
fresh grated nutmeg, to taste
flaked coconut, to top 

Bake the whole sweet potatoes in a 425° oven until they are fully baked and soft (around 45 minutes). Let cool until you can comfortably peel the skin off. Adjust oven heat to 350°. Once peeled, add the potatoes to a food processor. Add the peeled banana and cinnamon (amount depending on your tastes). Slowly add coconut milk to make the mixture blend into a thick paste. Scoop the mixture into a Pyrex pie dish that has been coated in coconut oil to prevent sticking. Sprinkle coconut flakes and add freshly grated nutmeg on top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until coconut flakes are slightly browned.

Optional: add pieces of your favorite nut to the top before baking
Optional: omit banana and coconut milk and blend in 3-4 oz. of applesauce and 1/2 apple