Thursday, August 21, 2008

Newsletter #13

Red Springs Family Farm
August 21, 2008, Week #13

This week:
Cantaloupe or Watermelon
Cucumbers Summer Squashes
Tomatoes Lettuce
Peppers Green Beans
Corn Cilantro
Parsley Basil
Green Onions

Ah, now this is more like August!

We are ready for a rain again, and inspired to spread more compost. Our homestead was steadily abused for many years, then neglected for many more. The ground is hard, but has responded well to care, and each time we till in a cover crop or layer on some compost, the softness of the ground increases. The surface is dusty and dry right now, and even hard and cracking in some places, but the arugula, buckwheat, beans, and peas are sprouting out of the dust. When we take a shovel to the soil, it’s always amazing to see how much moisture is being held in the cool dark under-ground.

This will be the last of the sweet corn – enjoy!

We’ve learned so much about scale this year. The parsley and basil rows have been perfect. The cucumbers are beyond the beyond, but we could stand to have about twice as many pepper plants as we do, especially these sweet long red Carmens. They are an Italian bull-horn style pepper, a pleasure to grow and joy to behold in their ripeness. Also, the Golden Treasures – long thin yellow peppers – have proven to be keepers as well. The Goldens didn’t germinate so well so we’re just enjoying what we get. There’s no heat in them, and they sauté so sweetly with summer squash and onion! Others in our selection are mildly hot – banana peppers of course, and then the lovely Mariachi – yellow bell-looking peppers with just a little bite to their flavor. A nice soaking rain would give the peppers (and eggplant, and melons) the boost they need to set another round of fruit.

A couple of you might receive a bonus melon – the Thai Round melon is yellow and orange striped, a real beauty. Its vines have spread all over the new test plot this year, and there are bushels of un-ripe fruit out there. We’ve only tried to eat one – and frankly, we weren’t sure what to make of it. It’s sort of like a melon that wanted to be a banana. Maybe it could be mixed in a smoothie? Maybe they make a wonderful decoration! It is certainly a unique melon. Let us know what you think.

In other news, the butternuts are looking nutty and there are acorn and carnival squashes bursting into color all over the garden. The deep glossy green of the hills in summer has slightly faded now. The St. John’s Wort has stopped blooming and there are sometimes brown leaves floating in the creek after a strong wind. Summer does fly.

FYI – Glutathione is a tripeptide – a substance composed of three amino acids. It acts as an antioxidant and can inactivate cancer-causing agents that may damage cells. It also seems to neutralize rancid, oxidized fats that initiate the artery-clogging process. Green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, parsley and spinach, are rich sources of glutathione – yet another reason to eat your greens. From 30-60% of glutathione is lost during cooking, and up to 100% in canning. Raw parsley is probably the best source of glutathione as raw spinach has substances that block calcium absorption, and raw broccoli contains goitrogens, substances that block thyroid function.

Just a little watermelon suggestion: fresh lime juice and salt. Very refreshing.

To dry extra herbs ~~~ Either: spread them on a tray and place it in the oven at its lowest setting (gas oven pilot lights are perfect) with the door ajar. Stir the herbs periodically. When the leaves crumble when pinched, they are dried. OR: you can hang bouquets of fresh herbs to dry. Puncture a large paper bag with holes. Tie the stalks of herbs in to skimpy bunches upside down in the bag. Tie the neck of the bag tightly and hang it with the leaves facing down in a warm, ventilated place. Check the herbs daily until they dry, about two weeks. When the herbs crumble when pinched, remove the stems and store the leaves in a sealed glass jar – away from heat and light – for up to a year. Crush them just before using.

Parsley Butter Sauce, from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
(makes about 1 cup)
3 Tablespoons minced green onions 2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
¼ cup dry white wine 1 cup of stock
½ cup crème fraiche (soft cream cheese will do) 3 Tablespoons softened butter
1 Tablespoon coarse mustard 2 Tablespoons fine chopped parsley

Combine green onions, vinegar, wine, stock and cream in a pan, bring to boil and reduce to about half, or until sauce thickens slightly. Reduce hat and whisk in butter and mustard. Season to taste. Just before serving, stir in the parsley.

Spiced Raita
3 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeds, removed, coarsely grated
½ tsp. cumin seeds ½ tsp. coriander seeds
2 cups plain yogurt 1 medium tomato, cut into thin strips
1 green chile pepper, seeds removed, cut into thin strips (optional)
½ cup finely chopped scallions or green onions 1/8 tsp. ground white pepper
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro (as a garnish)

1. Place a large strainer over a bowl or pot. Put the grated cucumber in the strainer; set aside to drain for 30 minutes.
2. Place a dry, heavy skillet (cast iron preferred) over medium heat. Add cumin and coriander seeds and stir constantly until toasted and fragrant, 3-5 minutes. Immediately transfer to a mortar and pestle and grind. (Freshly ground spices makes it sing, but pre-ground works fine.)
3. Pour the yogurt into a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Set aside for 10 minutes to drain.
4. Remove the drained, grated cucumber from the strainer with your hands and gently squeeze out the excess moisture. Spread the grated cucumber on clean dish towels and pat it dry. (Personally I think this is a little excessive, but I’m sure it helps.)
5. In a medium bowl, gently combine all ingredients. Garnish with cilantro. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for 1 hour.

We love cucumber salad. Cukes get sliced, sometimes along with some perfectly ripe tomatoes, and tossed with olive oil, salt, balsamic vinegar, feta cheese, and fresh basil. So simple. So good.

Thank you all for your support. Enjoy those veggies!

Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle

“Husbandry is the name of all the practices that sustain life by connecting us conservingly to our places and our world; it is the art of keeping tied all the strands in the living network that sustains us.- Wendell Berry from his essay Renewing Husbandry.

Red Springs Family Farm, PO Box 351 Red Boiling Springs TN 37150 ~

Sunday, August 17, 2008

new photos

Here's a few pictures of the upper garden, where the field corn is growing this year. The silks were just so stunning in their freshness. Thought you might like to see.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Newsletter #12

Red Springs Family Farm
August 14, 2008, Week #12

This week:
Cantaloupe or Watermelon
Cucumbers Summer Squashes
Tomatoes Lettuce
Beets Green Beans
Corn Sorrel
Parsley Basil
Little bits of Tomatillos and Cilantro

Sometimes life is more exciting than we’d like it to be.
I was tooling along, on my way to teach Tuesday afternoon yoga class, about half way out our rough gravel road, when around a blind curve comes our neighbor in her truck and boom, we are in the worn out world of fender-benders. So, if you notice our dusty little Kia looking more bent and misshapen than it oughta, there’s the story. Everyone’s ok, a little sore, but nothing unusual all things considered. Lulah was not with me, and we did our very best to not hit each other, making damages relatively minimal.

This weather is so beautiful – so unpredictable – so uncomplain-able!

Allow me to admit that I’m being a nervous-nelly about the watermelons. Having cracked a couple that acted ripe and then were not, I’m terrified to give them to you. The ripe ones are delicious, of course, but please accept our apologies in advance if you receive one that has not reached its apex of sweetness. We’ll have our thumping down to a science very soon. Note as well that we also grow a yellow watermelon, so if you slice into a color surprise, it’s name is Petite Yellow and we’ve found it to be one of the most delicious watermelons.

This corn, mmmm-mmmm, is called Ambrosia. Indeed. Enjoy. Toss some corn with the tomatillos and summer squash for a summery sauté. I haven’t tried it yet, but I suspect that these jumbo sized patty pans would be suitable substitutes for zucchini in sweet bread recipes. Sometimes the white patty pans hide from us, emerging later as flying saucers in the squash patch! To give you an idea of the harvest intensity here – we pick squashes every day, cucumbers every other day, and tomatoes, green beans, and melons every third day at the most. The gardens are so alive, we run to keep up with them!

If you’re wondering what on earth to do with all these cucumbers, please don’t. There’s only more to come. Our first planting of cukes this year was attacked with great speed and efficiency by vine borers and squash bugs. Obviously, we’ve still had a pretty good harvest, despite the losses. However, we still thought it best to make a second planting, not knowing how many plants would succumb in the battle for survival. The second planting is no less than perfect. They are just beginning to bear and the vines have overtaken their fence and are climbing over towards the first planting’s fence for more room. It will be a prickly, but productive, walk through the cucumber patch very soon. So I’ll toss in a couple recipes/inspirations for you.
These are mostly from The Real Dirt on Vegetables by Farmer John Peterson.

Cucumber salads have a cooling effect, so they are frequently served as a side salad with spicy dishes. Cucumbers make a good base for seafood salads. You can scoop them out and fill them, or slice them and use them like crackers!

Marinated Cucumber Salad in Honey-Cider Vinegar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar 2 Tbsp. water
1-3 Tbsp. Honey 4 medium cucumbers, peeled, thinly sliced
¼ tsp. Prepared Dijon mustard OR 1 ½ tsp. Caraway seeds OR 1 tsp. Celery seeds
OR 1 tsp. chopped fresh dill 6 thin slices of onion

1. Mix the vinegar, water, honey to taste, and mustard (or other seasoning) in a glass mixing bowl. Add the cucumber and onion; toss until well combined.
2. Marinate at least 30 minutes at room temperature or refrigerate overnight. Serve cold or room temp.

Something different:
Curried Rice and Cucumber Salad with Walnuts and Raisins, serves 6
3 cups cooked basmati or jasmine rice 1/3 cup sliced scallions
1/3 cup golden raisins 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (about one lemon)
Salt to taste ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 tbsp. ghee (or butter) 1 Tbsp. curry powder
1 large cucumber, peeled, halved length wise, seeds scooped out, thinly sliced

1. Combine the cooked rice, scallions, raisins, salt, and lemon juice in a large bowl and stir.
2. Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over high heat until fragrant. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
3. Quickly wipe the surface of the skillet with a clean towel; melt the ghee in the skillet over medium heat and stir in the curry powder; stir for 30 seconds.
4. Add the cucumber slices. Cook, stirring constantly, until cucumber is tender, 3-4 minutes. Remove the skillet from heat.
5. Add the cucumber to the rice mixture and toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
6. Toss the toasted walnuts with the salad, then sprinkle a generous amount of paprika over the top. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

And one more, a delicious classic, from the Seyer Family:
2 lbs tomatoes(seeded and halved)1 cucumbers (sliced)5 cloves of garlic(peeled, more/less depending on preference)1 green pepper(chopped)1 loaf of French Bread (torn into small pieces)(or similar bread)3 T. Extra Virgin Olive OilSalt/Pepper to Taste Blend all ingredients together in food processor or blender. Chill for at least two hours. Serve with bread and enjoy this refreshing cold, healthy soup. :) You can also add hot pepper if you want to spice it up.

Have a great weekend everyone! Thanks for sharing the harvest.

Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle
“… coral in its many fantastic colors and shapes and textures, the appearance of different kinds of fish at different times of the day, the colors changing rapturously with the passage of the sun from morning to night. It must be like that in our soils… if we could just see it – vibrant, ever changing, a great dancing picture of harmony and life.”
~Farmer John Peterson

Red Springs Family Farm, PO Box 351 Red Boiling Springs TN 37150 ~ ~

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Newsletter August 7, 08- week#11

Red Springs Family Farm
August 7, 2008, Week #11

This week:
First bite of melon Cucumbers Summer Squashes
Red Pepper Tomatoes Lettuce
Eggplant Carrots Green Beans
Sorrel Cilantro
Parsley Basil

Sweaty hot muggy intense August is here! Those of us living without air conditioning go frequently to the creek. This is the season of RANK GROWTH. What was once a relatively tidy row of tomatoes has become a jungle of green vines. And not just vines. As sure as there is Lulah, there are weeds. Importunate Bermuda grass has infiltrated the mulch and reaches through into the pathway. The melon and squash patch is a sea of foliage, some belonging to garden plants, but not all. As usual, the butternut squashes dominate their corner, reaching six rows over to invade even the sweet potatoes. We wade through, looking for ripening melons, rolling squash bug eggs off the leaves, and pulling particularly persistent morning glories before they bloom and set seed. The garden is a big messy wonderland of life.

And so, the melons are beginning. This week is only the harbinger of what’s to come. This is how cantaloupes work: it seems like they should be ready any day, and so we wait and wait and wait, then there’s ONE ripe melon, which is great. Then there are maybe FIVE melons. And the next day, there are FORTY, all ready for eating right away!

Fresh Dilled Eggplant
(sorry we aren’t offering the fresh dill this year – but this is a great recipe)
1 Bunch fresh Dill 1 medium Eggplant
3 Tbsp. sunflower oil ½ tsp. Turmeric
1/8 tsp. Hing 1 cup water
¾ tsp. Sea salt 1 tsp. Curry powder
2 Tbsp. honey or similar 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
¼ green pepper, chopped 1 tsp. Coriander powder

Wash and finely chop dill (I’ve used dried dill with good results, too). Wash and peel eggplant; cut into 1 inch cubes. Heat oil is mid-sized cooking pan. Add turmeric, hing, eggplant, dill, and water. Cover and cook 10 minutes over medium heat. Add rest of ingredients and cook 5 minutes more.

Vegetable Fritters (I like to double this one and snack on them later)
1/3 cup white or WW flour ½ tsp. Baking powder
½ tsp. Salt 1/8 tsp. Pepper
2 eggs, beaten
Mix to form a smooth batter. Add:
3 cups summer squash, shredded 1/3 cup minced onion OR 2 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbsp (at least) fresh chopped parsley (try chopping some sweet pepper in here too!)

Mix the veggies into the batter gently. Heat an oiled skillet to medium-hot. Drop large spoonfuls of batter onto the frypan. Fry each side until golden. Enjoy!

Thanks so much for your support.

Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle

“A nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

Red Springs Family Farm, PO Box 351 Red Boiling Springs TN 37150 ~

Friday, August 1, 2008

July 31, 2008 week #10

Red Springs Family Farm
July 31, 2008, Week #10

This week:
Corn Cucumbers
Summer Squashes Pepper
Tomatoes Lettuce
Carrots Garlic
Green Beans Green Onion
Celery Cilantro
Parsley Basil

After another two and a half inches of rain fell on us last weekend and periodic downpours through the night and into this morning, we’re enjoying a refreshingly unusual WET end of July. Here at “Week #10” we are counting ourselves half way through the main season. The garden is going strong, and we are so happy to be bringing you this abundant harvest.

These corn cobs are a little petite, but no less a treat! The variety is called Sugarbuns and the plant and cobs are made small. We have not been able to avoid corn ear worms this year, so get ready to meet and greet some fellow corn-lovers as you husk. Fortunately, they don’t eat much.

Paul was remembering to me one night how his family used to buy a pound block of butter during corn season and just roll the ears in them, making a corn ear melted butter trench in the block, and drenching the corn in butter. Some of us may cringe at the thought of so much butter now, but most of us also know just how good that tastes. If any of you have vegan tendencies, you might like to know that corn is also wonderfully delicious RAW, or steamed then coated with olive oil and umeboshi plum paste. Enjoy!

Fall planting has begun. This last rain will be a great help getting those kale seeds sprouted. We’re planning a whole new round of cabbages, kales, and broccolis for your dining pleasure, but don’t worry, the tomatoes are not even close to finished!

The cantaloupes are swelling to amazing proportions in the field. Each time we go to the top garden, and possibility of a ripe one is a major selling point for Lulah’s cooperation in the up-hill climb. There are blackberries, autumn olives, and snapping turtles in the pond along to way to help out, but the final sun drenched stretch is often difficult, and the prospect of a melon tones down the struggle. We don’t know when they will arrive, but certainly, it couldn’t be long now.

We grow our own field corn for cornmeal, as well as a patch of sweet corn. Cornmeal will be available a little later in the season. Right now, this year’s patch stands about eight feet high, some cobs not forming until five or six feet up the stalk. It’s a glorious sight now, gleaming green with red and white silks streaming.

The basil plants have officially out-produced us. If you’d like MORE basil, start emailing us requests and we’ll pick some larger bags as separate items. After we’ve made enough pesto for our family’s winter needs, and before the first frost, we will make the whole plants available for sale to basil and pesto lovers.

Remember – we love your clean used plastic grocery bags. Recycle! And check the web for back issues and photos sometimes:

Here’s some recipe ideas from Simply in Season:

Squash and Basil Salad
3-4 medium summer squash (julienned) 2-3 tablespoons fresh basil (chopped)
3-4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese Minced garlic to taste
Toss together

¼ cup red wine vinegar ¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp. Salt ¼ tsp pepper
Dollop of honey
Combine and pour over salad. Mix, chill 1 hour, and serve. Best eaten the same day.
Garnish with lettuce and green onions.

Summer Squash Skillet
4 cups summer squash (any kind, any cut) ½ cup onion (sliced or diced)
½ tsp salt ¼ tsp pepper
Saute together in 1 tablespoon olive oil until tender (time will vary according to cut of the squash – grated is much faster than other cuts). Then add…

½ cup diced green pepper 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil 1 bay leaf
½ cup cheese (optional, reserved)
Add everything else, cover, and steam a few minutes. Top with cheese before serving.

OR: ¼ cup chopped parsley, ½ tsp. Lemon peel, & ½ tsp. Lemon pepper
Add and simmer about 2 minutes longer.

Zucchini (or Summer Squash) Brownies!
Combine in a large bowl: 1 cup flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour 1/3 cup baking cocoa
½ tsp baking soda ½ tsp salt

Stir in 2-3 cups shredded zucchini (summer squashes work just fine, too).

Combine separately: 1 egg
¾ cup sugar ¾ cup brown sugar (or sorghum)
½ cup plain yoghurt ½ cup oil
1 tsp. Vanilla

Stir into zucchini mixture. Spread evenly into a greased 9X13 pan. Sprinkle with nuts or chocolate chips. Bake in a 350 degree pre-heated oven until a toothpick comes out clean – 35-40 minutes. They’ll never know they ate squash!

Have a great weekend!

Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle

“…it is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. The small landholders are the most precious part of a state.”
~Jefferson to Rev. James Madison, October 28, 1785