Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fall Deliveries week 2

This week, you're receiving: Collard Greens, White Turnips and their greens, long green radishes, and some round Misato Rose ones, big purple and little green pac choys, arugula, and sorrel – that's one bag. In the other bag, sweet potatoes, a few sweet peppers (dwindling supply now), onions, garlic, and a couple of green tomatoes for a fried treat.

This morning after the collards were picked, I headed up the hill to do some more harvesting. I was thinking: “I'll pick a few radishes, then see how the turnips are doing. If they're big enough, I'll pick a few of them, and maybe some kale to top it off.” But the turnips are doing much better than I thought – the bulbs are still a little small (but they taste so good that way!) - but the greens are really big and luscious. They don't hold up so well in the bag, waiting for delivery, but they're FINE to eat. By the time I picked some turnips, it felt like kale ontop of it all might be overwhelming. There will certainly be more kale available next week!

So, here's a few things about greens. Greens 101, if you like.

To store greens – wrap them well – tightly is OK – in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer if possible. If there are radish or turnip bulbs attached to your greens, cut them off about an inch above the stem and store them separately. Bulbs will keep longer than greens, if that helps your culinary decision making.
You can also wash and prep your greens before you store them. It's a fine thing to do. If you are getting really into greens and you don't yet have a salad spinner, I suggest you buy one. The ones they carry at Walmart aren't all that good – TJMaxx or Ross sometimes have nice ones in their kitchen sections, and Kroger and Target carry good ones. They're more expensive, but we've never regretted investing in a worthy kitchen tool.

Another word about cooking green storage. Sometimes it can be good to just cook a whole big batch of greens at once, then pop the leftovers into a baggy and keep them in the fridge. You can chop them up for an omelet, blend them into a soup from there with little hassle. The baggy could also go straight to the freezer for some cold day when greens aren't available.

As for eating these heartier greens, the same rules apply to them as do to salad fixings. A little oil (or butter, or bacon drippings if you're a really traditional southerner), and some vinegar (we like balsamic) make just about any of the basic cooking greens work. You can steam them with just a little water in the bottom of a pan, or steam-fry them with some coconut or olive oil (this works well with the thicker greens like the dark lacinato kale and collard greens). Some chopped garlic in the pan can add depth, as can additions like ground cumin and coriander, and a splash of lemon juice just before serving.

For more information, about more vegetables, please follow this link:

Scroll down and there will be a list of vegetables – linked with options for word or pdf docs to accompany them. The recipes are good. The storage information is good. If you like it, you might consider buying the book: Farmer John's Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables. We use it frequently.

Also – if you're not quite sure which greens are which, please go to our blog: http://redspringsfamilyfarm.blogspot.com/

I am putting up a new page for vegetable identification with some nice photos. I'll try to add to it as we go along. Also, you can find a HUGE backlog of recipes from our newsletters of several seasons past.

Ok – that's enough out of me. Keep warm and eat your greens. Safe and happy Halloween!


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

week 18

one bag: Lettuce Basil Arugula
Lacinato Kale one last Tomato

in another bag: Onions Garlic Potatoes
Variety Peppers Summer Squash Eggplants
Okra Sage and a Fairy Winter Squash

Just to quickly reiterate the plan here – there will be no veggie deliveries for the next two Tuesdays. We will miss our gardens, and we hope you miss our produce, but we'll be back to share whatever this Autumn has to offer. I'll drop a line out to you as a reminder when we return.

I love that somehow, as all the summer greens begin to turn earthward, we can coax a dark succulent green from the garden one more time. The kale this week is one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it. After the break, we will (God willing) have turnips and radishes and more good greens, along with the sweet potatoes and more squash. If it frosts while we're away, the peppers, eggplant, and basil will be gone, but the arugula will carry on through the first couple cold snaps.

It's time to start praying for rain again. Sometimes I think the NOAA weather predictions keep rain in the forecast just so we don't fall into despair. It was amazing that the last round missed us. But it did. So, it's dusty now, and slow, but good for drying out the field corn and beans. There's always a up-side, somewhere.

If you are struggling with your arugula, allow me to suggest you try it on pizza. As I was packing bags this morning, I was imagining a pizza, with grilled vegetables – like eggplant and patty pan squash, sliced thin and grilled before the pizza baked. The last thing to go on the very top would be a handful of sliced arugula. Cooking mellows the taste.

You can even grill pizza. A friend introduced me to this concept and it's wonderful. Start with your dough (if you've got time – make your own – it's not hard) rolled out and a hot grill. Put the dough on the grill, covered, for just a few minutes. Take it to the kitchen and dress the grilled side (NOT the raw side) with all your pizza fixings – don't load it up too much – and then put it back on the grill for about 5 minutes more. This time, obviously, the 'raw' side is going to go onto the grill. OH, so good.

Even though I hope you will come along with us into the Fall for as long as you like, I just want to take a second and thank you for sharing this season with us. You have been wonderful eaters. Thank you for not complaining about too many tomatoes, for enjoying eggplant, week after week. It is a joy to share our abundance with you. I hope your freezers are all stocked with some goodies for winter, and your memories stocked with good memories of the flavors of summer.

See you soon! Paul, Coree, Lulah and Levon
Red Springs Family Farm

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

week 16

one bag: Lettuce Basil Cilantro Arugula
Sage Cucumber
in another bag: Onions Garlic Okra
Variety Peppers Summer Squash Eggplants
And the first Winter Squash plus a few Tomatoes

We did an experiment with our winter squash this season, and it failed. What we did was try to contain the sprawling squash in the patch of field corn. In years past, we have rather successfully planted squash and corn together. We noticed that the squash set its best fruit when it crawled out from under the shade of the corn, but it still held some ground under the corn and kept down some weeds, so it worked out alright. This year, we put a little more space between each corn plant, and tried to keep the squash IN. If we persist in this experiment, we're going to have to put even more space between each corn plant, because it has grown quite obvious that winter squash wants more light than we've been giving it. We learn a lot from reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books. Farmer Boy, in particular, is a sort of an informal farm manual for Upstate New York a couple hundred years ago. Evidently, corn was planted VERY farm apart – so that the horse team could be driven between the rows, going both ways. After a certain amount of cultivation was done, the pumpkins could go in between the corn. It must have been beautiful to see. But it would take A LOT of room to grow enough corn that way.

So – these lovely squash are from Long Hungry Creek Farm. Enjoy.

There's something about sage and squash that really worked together, in my opinion. And the sage gets really big about now, just when the squashes are harvested. I like to gently fry a few leaves in butter as a tasty garnish. It's hard to go wrong with that combination.

We're thinking hard about planting garlic now, and will probably begin digging up sweet potatoes later this week.

The little patty pan squash are like tender buttery morsels out in the garden. It's a thrill to find them each time I harvest, though inevitably a few hide out and manage to sit on the vine until they become more like small alien spacecraft. They make a fine zucchini bread, now that it's gotten cool enough to want to bake again.

One of our favorite treatments for squash is Vegetable Fritters – very satisfying flavor, forgiving recipe, and easily doubled (from Simply In Season):

1/3 cup flour ½ tsp baking powder ½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper 2 eggs Mix to form a smooth batter. Add...
3 cups shredded summer squash 1/3 cup onion or 2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp fresh herbs – your choice Add to batter and then drop onto a hot greased skillet by the spoonful. Fry until golden on both sides and enjoy.
Have a great week!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

week 13

Red Springs Family Farm 8/26/14

Green Beans    Variety Peppers       Summer Squash
Eggplants        Garlic          Lettuce       Flat Leaf Parsley
Basil        Cilantro       Tomatoes
Cantaloupes & Watermelons

Here's the story on the peppers this year. Paul went out of town on business in the late spring, and I geared up to maintain the gardens without him. Just as he left, a big project that was not directly related to the garden fell right into my lap, so I did not accomplish my original goal of “keeping up.” When Paul came home, we were overjoyed to see him again, and the garden weeds were a bit further along than we usually let them grow. We set right to work on it, and salvaged the peppers and eggplants from weeds that were literally threatening to drown them. Once the weeds were gone, the peppers had to re-cover themselves with leaves before they set fruit. They are finally coming on, and looking good too.

This may be the last of the watermelons and cantaloupes. The vines are regenerating a little now, so there may be another little flush later. We'll see. These cantaloupes are Edisto. We're pleased with them and hope that you will be too. Watermelons this week are the heirloom Moon & Stars variety. It's an old timey one with big flavor and thick rinds. The leaves are spotted like the fruits.

The green beans this week would never win a beauty contest. The bean beetles seem to be thriving in the heat and humidity, so much that they've moved off the leaves and onto the beans themselves. Blanch them and toss them in a salad. The bean beetles didn't eat too much.

Tomatoes have reached their peak. The heat following the rain led to some heavy cracking and accelerated the blight on the leaves. There's still plenty of tomatoes out there, but we're seeing the beginning of their decline. If you want any tomatoes to can or freeze, please let me know now so I can pick and save some for you.

This week's basket is begging to be made into ratatouille. I've had many different flavors of success in my attempts with this dish. It's always good – but sometimes it's extraordinary! Since I don't have marjoram – I use basil, and some recipes call for rosemary. Yum. I also change the proportions of squash/pepper/eggplant according to what is most abundant. Here's one recipe framework, from foodnetwork.com. Try it out and see what you think...

2 eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices 2 large summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch slices
3 beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt 1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice Pinch crushed red pepper
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram leaves
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put the eggplant, zucchini, squash, and tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet or baking sheets, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt. Roast until the vegetables are soft and pliable, about 20 to 30 minutes, turning them halfway through the cooking. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle transfer them to a cutting board and cut them into 1/2-inch pieces.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat the bottom with olive oil. Add the onion, crushed red pepper and season with salt, to taste. Saute until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers and season again with salt, if needed. Cook until the peppers are soft, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the roasted vegetables to the pan along with the vinegar, marjoram, and thyme. Toss well to coat and add 2 to 3 more tablespoons olive oil, if needed. Taste to check the seasoning and transfer to a serving platter or bowl.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

week 11

Red Springs Family Farm 8/12/14

In one bag: Potatoes Golden Treasure Sweet Pepper
Carrots Garlic Onions
In the other bag: Lettuce Cucumber
Basil (green & purple) Cilantro Parsley
And then there are Tomatoes Cantaloupes & Watermelons
Well, that was a great rain. Our road is washed out and rough, but it's worth it, one hundred percent, to have refreshed the garden ground. I rinsed the muddy veggies once for you – they will need a slightly more thorough washing this week because of the rain.

There's another planting of green beans flowering now, and a second planting of squash, patty pan this time, about to flower. The next corn planting is making silks and new eggplants are fattening up. Fall crops are looking better and there's lots more that need to be planted now. Change is a-foot in the garden. It always is.

These first golden sweet peppers are just a sign of things to come. The plants are loaded and still blooming. There will be red bells, too, as the season progresses. These yellow ones are our personal favorites. We hope you enjoy them too.

Carrots come in many shapes, colors and sizes. Usually, I pick through the harvest a little, pulling out the ones with extra arms and legs. There were so many in this particular picking that I left several of the more interesting ones for you to enjoy. They are fun food. Levon eats them like apples.

This week might be the end of the Halona Cantaloupes. It's been a nice run of them. There are more, different varieties out there. We'll see how they do.

Herbs feature prominently in your salad bag this week. If you are overwhelmed, I have two diverse suggestions: 1) put a little basil, parsley, or cilantro on EVERYTHING. Every salad, every sandwich. Throw a handful into biscuit dough. Put them in marinades for grilling, in stuffings and breading batter. Chop them coarsely for salad, and as fine as possible for marinades and batters. 2) Make concentrated dishes, such as pesto (which can be made with cilantro or parsley, or cilantro and parsley and basil mixed) or tabbouli. This uses lots of herbs all at once, and then they can be put to use in different dishes throughout the weeks. Pesto also freezes well. If you don't want to mess with nuts and cheese and garlic, you can also just chop the herbs, add olive oil and freeze that, as is, for later use.

We don't do much grocery shopping in our house. We try to start from the base materials of food and make what we need. I have played around with making mayonnaise before, with mixed results. The worst thing is usually that we don't use it, so it sets in the fridge, where space is precious, until we forget what it is and throw it to the chickens. Then, on those rare events that we want mayo on something – oh well! My newest solution to mayonnaise aspirations, especially on potato or pasta salads, is plain yoghurt. I'm sure it's better for us, and when tossed, salad-style, with olive oil and some lemon juice, the effect is just plain wonderful.

There's another pot of tomatoes to cook down on the stove right now, and a million weeds growing before our eyes in the garden. I can hardly stay in front of the screen for another moment.

Thanks for your good eating – stay well!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

week 10

Red Springs Family Farm 8/5/14

In one bag: Cucumbers Yellow Crookneck Squash
Carrots Garlic Onions
In the other bag: Lettuce Basil
And then there are Tomatoes Corn
Halona Cantaloupe and Crimson Sweet Watermelons

Ten weeks marks the mid-point of our main season, and it feels just about right. The first flush of the summer fruits – cukes and squash, particularly, are slowing down. There are new vines beginning to bloom. Some of the fall crops are in the ground – broccoli and cabbages – we're hoping they can wait out the heat and put on some size before Fall arrives in earnest.

This sweet corn is spot on perfect this week. Thank you for partaking! There's another planting, quite a bit behind this one, but coming along nicely. So, there will be more corn, just not next week. There's no end in sight for the melons though. I think I've remarked before that we've never had such a wonderful melon patch, and it's holding true. This week, the larger Crimson Sweet watermelons are ripe, and the Halona cantaloupes are perfect. There are still jumbo Moon and Stars watermelons ripening in the field and two more varieties of cantaloupes that haven't started to turn yet. Plenty more melons to come.

Eggplants have gone on vacation, but they will return, hopefully with sweet peppers in tow.

Did you know that watermelon juice is yummy? Did you know that you can freeze cantaloupe puree and make delicious smoothies and sorbets later? Some folks even like to just eat the frozen chunks when they're not quite thawed. I'm not one of those people, but you might be.

Since it's election week, I just have to stand on my harvest basket for a moment here and make a statement. There are lots of ideas out there about how to vote. Vote with your religion, your principles, your political party, your friends, your family. It all boils down to this: it's a personal decision, and it matters. I think we should all vote, and I feel strongly that we are all voting every day – with our dollars.

Where your spend your money helps shape the world. Does your money enrich your community, or flow through long cyber-pipelines of large corporations and get spread in fraction of pennies to factory workers in South Asia? Probably both, of course, with a tendency to one direction or another.

The way I see it, eating is a physical necessity, but it is also a social and political action. How you choose your food helps to determine what this world looks like, probably in even more concrete and traceable ways than your average dollar at Wal-Mart. It's something to think about.

So, we thank you, during this election time, for voting not-so-much FOR us, but WITH us this season. We promise to do our best to bring your good food in exchange for your support. Now I'll get off my harvest basket and carry on...

If you want tomatoes for canning or freezing, let me know now so I can plan ahead to hold some for you. Also, if you would like extra basil for putting up pesto I'll be glad to make that available as the season progresses, too. Pesto is probably one of the easiest foods to “put up”. A food processor makes quick work of it. It just takes a LOT of basil. I don't think we've given what I consider a full pesto recipe's worth of basil in your bags as of yet, just to give you an idea.

Enjoy your veggies, have a great week, and please, pray for rain! Thanks.
Paul, Coree, Lulah and Levon

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

week 8

Red Springs Family Farm 7/22/14

In one bag: Eggplant New Potatoes Cucumbers
Green Beans Yellow Crookneck Squash
In the other bag: Lettuce Celery Basil
Carrots Garlic
And then another bag of tomatoes.

Sometimes the garden season feels like a flood, a wave, a marathon full of flavor, heat, fun, and lots of heavy lifting. We pulled the potatoes out of the ground and down the hill last week and have made a serious dent in the onions, too. Tomatoes are an on-going harvest. The plants are already spilling over the top of the cages and reaching for each other across the five or six feet rows.

Just want to let you know: your feedback is crucial. How many potatoes can you eat in a week? How many eggplant, tomatoes, green beans? Is this basket sufficient, a challenge, or not enough? Part of the joy of staying small is being able to really absorb meaningful feedback from YOU. Be kind, and share your experiences. Thanks.

Oh carrots - there will be plenty more of these. Even thought we had a nice carrot soup last week, I definitely recommend eating them raw. They are sweet and crisp and don't much resemble those long skinny things grown in the California sand and sold in plastic bunny bags. We don't grow long carrots because we have dense and rocky soil, but we enjoy growing short, stocky carrots that taste the way a carrot should.

Two words for next week's harvest: corn, and watermelons. Need I say more?

I dreamed a recipe, literally. After a busy night's sleep, I remembered grinding garlic and ginger with tamari and how beautiful and tasty it was. All Purpose Homemade Teriyaki Sauce: Take about equal portions of FRESH ginger root and FRESH garlic cloves and grind them to a mushy paste in a food processor. Add an abundant amount of tamari or soy sauce and blend some more. Add some lemon or lime juice and either coconut oil or olive oil (or both) and blend until emulsified.

We used this sauce to marinade thick slices of eggplant and yellow squash before they went on the grill. We slathered it on them while they were grilling as well. That worked wonderfully. We made more and poured it on steamed green beans, and then took what was left and dressed a cucumber salad with it. It was simple, versatile, forgiving, and even the kids loved it. Have fun!

For other taste sensations, here's a simple blended gazpacho, adapted from Martha Stewart:
1 cup small pieces white bread (torn from day-old rustic bread, crust removed)
1 small clove garlic, minced 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces, plus 8 very thin rounds for garnish
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped (about 1 1/2 peppers) jarred roasted red bell peppers
2 pounds tomatoes, cut into quarters 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Stir together bread, garlic, vinegar, and 3/4 cup cold water in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Process cucumber, roasted peppers, and bread mixture in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Puree half of the tomatoes in the blender, and transfer to the bowl with cucumber mixture. Puree remaining tomatoes, slowly adding oil while blender is running. Transfer to the bowl; whisk to combine. Stir in salt; season with pepper. Refrigerate, covered, until chilled, about 30 minutes. Divide gazpacho among 4 bowls. Garnish each with 2 cucumber rounds.                                                                                   

Enjoy your week and your veggies!