Thursday, August 27, 2009

Newsletter Week #14

Red Springs Family Farm
August 27, 2009, Week #14

Vegetable medley:
Tomatoes Lettuce Corn
Summer squash Sweet Peppers Garlic
Eggplants Beets Cucumbers
Potatoes Hot Peppers (choice)
Herb bag: Basil Parsley Sorrel

What a week! We’re grateful for the approach of rain clouds again. There are not enough hours in a day, or night, this month to accomplish the busy farm to-do list.

Where to begin – we’re glad to still have a few tomatoes to give. The blight seems to be loosening it’s grip, and the plants that are still alive show signs of successful blooming again. We hope to supply a trickle of tomatoes, maybe supplemented by the row of cherry tomatoes that have been sorely neglected this season. A garden/farm magazine we receive carried on its front page this month a story about blight and how rampant it has been this year. It was good to hear that we’ve not been alone. The blight that killed the tomato harvest is the same kind that brought on the Irish Potato Famine. It’s airborne, and even conventional farms have suffered, as fungicides suppress but don’t completely destroy the disease. You might stock up on your store bought canned tomatoes now – prices may go up as the repercussions of the blight hit the markets.

Cherry tomatoes remind me of the parsley. Those of you who have been with us awhile know that we usually treat parsley as a vegetable, not a garnish. It’s a wonderful “superfood”, especially consumed raw. We have scarcely given any parsley this season because we underestimated the vining potential of our cherry tomatoes, next row over from the parsley. They grew so big so fast, and then the catnip and mint on the other side of the row bushed out, and the parsley barely stood a chance. It’s still in there, and we’re hoping to cut it back hard and get some nice leaves out of there yet, as the tomatoes wilt back abit and we clean up the herbs for the Fall.

On the other side of the cherry tomatoes is a row of OKRA. If you like okra, please just let us know. We don’t have a long enough row to supply everyone with okra every week, but can arrange to send a bag here and there upon request.

Eggplants are slowing down, we’re sad to say. The flea beetles that we worked so diligently to protect the baby plants from are doing their worst now. I’ve honestly never seen such an infestation of them. Bit by bit they skeletonize the leaves, leaving the eggplant fruits with no protection from the sun. It’s very sad. I’m hoping a rain might knock them back a little. We’ll see.

The basil isn’t slowing down one bit. In fact, it may be speeding up. It’s definitely time to put up your pesto, if you’re a pesto fan. We’re happy to supply your basil needs. If you don’t so much love pesto and are swimming this sea of basil you can try drying it (single layer in a warm oven, or tied in a shady place in a paper bag), or freezing it – chopped, maybe doused in some olive oil. We like to put our pesto or basil into an ice cube tray. After it’s frozen, pop out the cubes and store them in a bag. This way the serving size is easy to control. If all else fails, scroll back through the archives of the newsletters, there is a recipe for basil cheesecake from last year about this time.

We were glad to clear out a part of the field of acorn squashes and baby pumpkins this week. The winter squashes look great. It won’t be long until we start sending them to you. In the meantime, we’re parsing out the melons to you in alphabetical order. Your turn will come.

Brinna, the bringer of blueberries, gave us the head’s up that September 10 is our last blueberry delivery. We’re so glad to have worked with Hidden Springs to bring this excellent crop to you.

Fall crops are growing in the fields. We keep clearing more space, making room for more and more. It’s exciting to see the season begin to change. Walnut trees are yellowing their leaves already and the hillsides have lost the verdant feel of summer. It will be great to have arugula and kale again.

We enjoyed a visit with shareholder John and his companion Pat this week. It’s a great exercise for us to see the gardens through someone else’s eyes. It is often difficult for us to slow down these days, but we really enjoy company and love to give a little tour of the gardens.

This is the last of our garden’s sweet corn. The variety is Candy Corn – all yellow. Eat up.

The cucumber harvest has slowed this week – but if you’re still storing waaaaay too many cucumbers in your fridge, this recipe, via Turtle, looks like a winning way to use them:

Easy Refrigerator Pickles
6 cups thinly sliced pickling cucumbers (about 2 pounds)
2 cups thinly sliced onion 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
3/4 cup sugar 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Place 3 cups cucumber in a medium glass bowl; top with 1 cup onion. Repeat procedure with the remaining 3 cups cucumber and remaining 1 cup onion.
Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan; stir well. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute. Pour over cucumber mixture; let cool. Cover and chill at least 4 days.
Note: Pickles may be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month.

6 beets (each 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter), scrubbed and trimmed, leaving about 1 inch of the stems 3/4 cup water 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled1 tbsp. olive oil 1 tbsp. minced fresh coriander1 1/2 tsp. red-wine vinegar, or to taste 1 tsp. minced white part of scallion5 walnut halves, toasted and chopped (about 2 teaspoons)

In a 2-quart microwave-safe round glass casserole with a lid, microwave the beets with the water and the garlic, covered, on high power(100%), stirring every 2 minutes, for 6-9 minutes, or until they are tender when pierced with a fork, transferring them to a cutting board as they are cooked and reserving the garlic, and let them cool. Peel the beets, halve them, and slice them 1/4 inch thick. Peel the reserved garlic, mash it to a paste with the flat side of a heavy knife, and in a serving bowl stir it together with the oil, the coriander, the vinegar, the scallion, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the sliced beets and sprinkle the mixture with the walnuts.
Gourmet, February 1993

Next week – more green beans!

Thanks for sharing the harvest. Have a lovely weekend.

Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle

“Below what we think we are we are something else, we are almost anything.”
~ D.H. Lawrence

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Newsletter Week #13

Red Springs Family Farm
August 20, 2009, Week #13

Vegetable medley:
Tomatoes Lettuce Corn
Summer squash Sweet Peppers Garlic
Eggplants Carrots Cucumbers
Watermelon Swiss Chard Hot Peppers
Herb bag: Basil Parsley

Should we apologize for having too many cucumbers?
It’s an ethical dilemma.

Lots of news around here this week. We found the veggie van – a white 1993 GMC Rally 12-seater (we wrestled a couple of the benches out of it to make room for the coolers) came into our possession this week. It’s not a young van, but seems to be well-maintained and strong, bought for a price we could manage. This is our maiden voyage. We’re glad to be able to ride together with greater spaciousness (and air conditioning).

Good news: We finally found some nice fat straight carrots out in the garden! Unfortunately, they’re the last ones we’ve got. August has taken a toll on the lettuce. We just eat it anyway, and hope you will do the same! Your patience will be rewarded with beautiful greens again in the Fall.

The tomatoes are taking a dive. We’ll feel lucky if we still have tomatoes to give next week. The tomato patch looks like it ordinarily would in late September, or even October. Our late planting is smaller, but doing OK, so there will be more tomatoes, just not quite so many.

This may be the last of the melons for the time being, too. We’re watching for another flush, and they should have a chance since the winter squash vines are dying back now.

This week’s corn picking is Ambrosia – our favorite. In spite of our well cleaned and charged electrical net around the corn, we are still giving up more of it than we’d like to critters. We have another week’s worth (maybe 2 weeks? Ask the critters.) of Candy Corn, on the way. The acorn and butternut squashes are beautiful. There will still be food, just different food.

We’re transplanting hundreds and hundreds of baby broccolis, cabbages, brussel sprouts, and kales into every open space we can find in the garden now. These spotty rains have been nice to moisten the soil. We’ll soon be ready for a real downpour, and it looks like one is coming our way today.

We’ve included some very creative cucumber recipes to help you with the harvest this week. You can find a truly astounding number of cucumber recipes at his web site (it will be hyperlinked on our blogsite):

Cucumber-Lemon Spritzer
3/4 cup water tablespoons brown sugar
1-1/2 cups diced peeled cucumber 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger 2 cups sparkling water, chilled
1 small cucumber, cut lengthwise into 4 spears
1. Combine 3/4 cup water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cool.
2. Place sugar mixture, diced cucumber, lemon juice, and ginger in a blender; process until smooth. Cover and chill.
3. Combine cucumber mixture and sparkling water in a pitcher; stir gently with a whisk until blended. Serve over ice; garnish each glass with a cucumber spear, if desired. Yield: 4, 1 cup servings.

We haven’t tried this yet, but it sure sounds good. Recipe notes said it’s a well loved treat in Mexico.

Agua de Pepino (Cucumber Limeade)
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks Juice of 2-3 limes
Sugar to taste (1/4 c or so is good) water and ice
Put cucumber, sugar and lime juice in blender with enough water to reach an inch and a half below the top. Blend well. Strain the pulp out of the mixture and serve over ice.

Su-no-Mono (Japanese Cucumber and Noodles)
1/4 c sake 1 1/2 oz cellophane noodles (mung bean thread)
1/3 c mild rice vinegar 2 T tamari soy sauce
2 T mirin 2 medium cucumbers
1/2 t salt 2 oz cooked crab meat OR 4 T chopped red bell pepper
Bring about 1/4 cup sake to a boil, immediately remove from heat, and cool. Reserve 2 tablespoons of boiled sake.
Cook the bean threads according to package directions (usually, boil for 3 minutes). Drain and place the noodles in a bowl of cold water. Run more cold water over the noodles until they are cool.
Combine 2 tablespoons of the sake with the vinegar, soy sauce, and mirin. Cool.
Peel the cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and slice as thinly as possible. Place in a bowl, sprinkle with salt, and allow to sit for a few minutes. Squeeze the salted cucumber slices. Rinse well, squeezing out all of the excess water after rinsing.
In a (beautiful) bowl, place the noodles and then the cucumbers. Sprinkle on the crabmeat or bell pepper. Pour the marinade over all and serve.
From: Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant by The Moosewood Collective

Baked Eggplant Parmesan
3 eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced 2 eggs, beaten
4 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs 6 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
1 (16 oz pack) mozzarella cheese, divided 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried basil Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in bread crumbs. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes on each side.
In a 9x13 inch baking dish spread spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the cheeses. Sprinkle basil on top.
Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

OH – Please note – Basil production has finally surpassed our ability to reasonably dole it out. If you want to buy extra, please let us know. We will sell it to you for $5/lb. Put up your pesto!

Thank you for your good eating and support. We appreciate you.

Your gardeners,

The Entwistles

“Man’s life on this earth – who has courage to face it? Yet there are the trees, against the dark sky, black bare trees, springing from the earth to flower, swaying in the wind, the low hollow moan of the wind. Who could live without this grace?” - Harlan Hubbard

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Newsletter Week #12

Red Springs Family Farm
August 13, 2009, Week #12

Vegetable medley:
Tomatoes Lettuce
Summer squash Peppers
Garlic Eggplants
Carrots & Beets Cucumbers
Cantaloupe/Watermelon Roma Green Beans
Herb bag: Basil, Green and Purple Dill Sorrel

Well, August feels like August after all, doesn’t it? July may have acted like September or even October, but August will not disguise itself. We’ve been back to the creek frequently. Busy in the hot kitchen, hot garden, grateful for every bit of shade, it’s definitely August again.

Have no fear, sweet corn will be back next week.

The upper garden is still a wild living chaos. Our friend and garden helper Wilson remarked that the watermelons were invading the tomatoes. It was clear though that they had little choice, since the Jumbo Pink Banana squashes had thoroughly invaded the watermelon rows. Squash vines are thinning a little bit, revealing loads of butternuts and acorn squashes. As we pulled out the first planting of corn this week, we found nearly full grown squashes growing almost all the way through the corn patch. We thought we were growing bushier varieties of acorns this year. If these are the bush varieties, the vining varieties must be amazing.


Thank you, Dessa, for this very good simple recipe:

Roasted Ratatouille From Cook’s Illustrated Family Cookbook

One large eggplant, diced into ¾” chunks 2 squash, diced into ¾” chunks
28 oz can diced tomatoes, drained, reserve 1/3 cup juice
one red onion, halved pole to pole then sliced ¼” thick and separated
5 cloves garlic, sliced 1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
¼ cup olive oil 1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl, including reserved tomato juice. Place in 13x9 baking dish. Bake one hour, stirring halfway through cooking time.

As for cucumbers, try this one:
Refrigerator Cucumbers

Several cucumbers Several Onions dill garlicpeppercorns bay leaf salt Rice Vinegar, alone or mixed with white vinegar

Slice the cucumbers and onions. Layer in a large glass bowl or jar with the dill, sliced garlic, a few peppercorns, and a couple of bay leaves. Mix the vinegar(s) & salt (about 1/2 teaspoon per cup of vinegar) and then pour over cucumbers. They can be eaten within the hour or in several days. Keep in refrigerator. (Experiment with a salt/vinegar ratio and spices and flavorings that work for you.)

August is long, but fast. We feel the earth’s tilt toward Autumn speeding up.

We are so grateful to have found this simple little trailer for our truck. Today is its maiden voyage, so I can’t rave too much just yet. Nonetheless, it’s a relief to travel together again. Traveling in both the truck and car for delivery was no fun. Even though freezing, canning, and transplanting Fall crops has taken precedent for the moment, we’re still on the lookout for the perfect veggie vehicle.

Pulled from Epicuriuos:

Cucumber Gazpacho
1 3/4 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped (about 3 1/4 cup), plus 1/4 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into small dice for garnish (about 1/4 cup)
2 scallions (white and green parts), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (loosely packed) assorted fresh herbs, such as basil, chives, and mint, coarsely chopped, plus ¼ cup finely chopped (for garnish) 1 (1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, chopped
1 small clove garlic, coarsely chopped 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound large shrimp (31 to 40 count per pound) peeled, cooked, and cut medium dice (8 shrimp)
1/2 cup seedless watermelon or cantaloupe, cut into small dice

In blender or food processor, combine coarsely chopped cucumber, scallions, coarsely chopped herbs, ginger, garlic, olive oil, and yogurt and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and hot sauce, then transfer to large airtight container and refrigerate 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Before serving, stir together shrimp and remaining cucumbers, herbs, and salt.
Fold watermelon or cantaloupe into soup. Divide soup evenly among 4 chilled bowls and top each with dollop of shrimp mixture. Serve immediately.

Dill is such a beautiful herb. I’m hoping we can manage another flush of it for a Fall harvest. I’ve used it with great success on poached salmon. It blends nicely with cucumbers. I recommend using it separately from the basil, so that the depths of its flavor are not overpowered. Rumor has it that the smell of dill can cure hiccups. It is a cooling herb, and a gentle digestive aid.

Please send us good recipes, bring us back blueberry clamshells, and clean grocery bags.

We wish you fun and good meals with these abundant mid-season harvests. Also remember that you have a standing invitation to visit the farm (pick your own cucumbers), wade in the creek, and see how we do things out here. Give us a couple days notice so we can make room for you in our day.

Thank you for taking part in our garden.

Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle

Eating with the fullest pleasure - pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance - is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.
– Wendell Berry

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Newsletter Week #11

August 6, 2009, Week #11

Vegetable medley:
Tomatoes Lettuce Carrots
Summer squash Green Pepper Cucumber
Garlic Cantaloupe/Watermelon
Sweet Corn Eggplants
Herb bag: Basil Celery Dill Tulsi

Happy August Everyone! The gardens are nearly at peak – we feel fortunate to have turned the open beds just before the Tuesday rains. We’re gearing up to plant the Autumn greens.

Eggplants, eggplants. It is the year of eggplant. Where as tomatoes have blight, carrots are twisty, peppers staying small, eggplants have been thriving. Here they are. They are a wonderful fruit, and if you’re not sure what to do, don’t worry – we’re here to help.

Storage and Handling of Eggplants
Eggplant prefers to be kept at about 50° F, which is warmer than most refrigerators and cooler than most kitchen counters. Wrap unwashed eggplant in a towel (not in plastic) to absorb any moisture and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Used within a week, it should still be fresh and mild. To use, rinse eggplant in cool water and cut off the stem. Many people like to peel, salt, and drain their eggplant to draw out any bitter flavor; however, bitterness develops only in eggplant that has been stored for a while, so with farm-fresh specimens this is generally not necessary. Many recipes call for salting in order to make the vegetable less watery and more absorbent—much like draining tofu. Salting is not an essential step, but it can greatly enhance the taste and texture of your dish and is well worth the extra effort. The shape of an eggplant determines how it is best prepared. Slice a straight, narrow eggplant into rounds for grilling or broiling, and cut a rounded, bulbous eggplant into cubes for stews and stir-fries. The long thin ones don’t need to be skinned – most folks like the standard round ones peeled.

One of our personal favorites:
Fresh Dilled Eggplant (from the Ayurvedic Cookbook)

1 bunch fresh dill 1 medium eggplant 3 Tbsp light oil
½ tsp turmeric 1/8 tsp. hing 1 cup water
¾ tsp sea salt 1 tsp curry powder 2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp lemon juice ¼ chopped green pepper 1 tsp coriander powder

Wash the dill and chop finely. Wash and peel the eggplant; cut in to 1 inch cubes. Heat oil in medium 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.

And to accompany the dilled eggplant, you might like some Cucumber Raita:

1 cup fresh plain yogurt ¼ cup cucumber, finely diced (I use a whole cuke here)
1 Tbsp fresh scallions, finely chopped ¼ dry ginger or 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1/8 tsp turmeric ¼ tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cinnamon (opt.) ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro leaves

Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. This goes well with most curries, dals, and Indian dishes. Other vegetables, such as grated daikon radish or carrots, can also be used here. Sorry our cilantro planting hasn’t come through in time for this recipe.

Baba Ghanouj
This is a traditional Middle Eastern recipe for baba ghanouj, a thick but light spread that is delicious as a dip for pita bread or vegetables or as a filling in a sandwich. Its distinct, nutty flavor comes from tahini, a sesame paste that is widely available in specialty stores and many supermarkets. Serves 4

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided 2 medium eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup pine nuts 1/4–1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup tahini 1–2 cloves garlic, minced (1/2–1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional) 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
2. Rub 1 tablespoon of the oil over both whole eggplants and place them on a baking sheet. Roast, turning once or twice, until very soft, 30 to 45 minutes depending on size. Let cool.
3. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a dry, heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over high heat until they start to brown in spots and become fragrant. (Be careful not to overtoast them, as they will burn very quickly once toasted.) Immediately transfer the nuts to a dish to cool.
4. Cut the eggplants in half and scoop out the flesh. Purée the eggplant flesh in a food processor or finely chop it on a cutting board. Transfer to a bowl.
5. Add the lemon juice, tahini, garlic, cumin, salt, cayenne, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix until well combined.
6. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with cilantro or parsley and toasted pine nuts.

Corn is another of our featured selections this week. We’ve been eating it for nearly every meal lately – it’s such a seasonal delicacy. What else is there in the world like fresh sweet corn? If you shuck some tonight (we hope you do), be sure to try a bite raw. So good. And please excuse our corn ear worms. They are our organic certifiers. If you have corn without them, it’s nearly a sure bet that some kind of poison has been applied. It is a little unusual for our sweet corn to be as infested with the worms as it is this early in the year. But, it’s just that kind of year.

Do you want more chard? The row has re-grown, and we could send it again. The baskets (AND the truck, AND the car) have been so full lately we’ve not felt it necessary. However, if you are missing the cooking greens, please drop us a line to let us know.

In the herb bag, the blooming tulsi is a brain clarifying tea or potpourri. Give it a try.

Jennifer sent a helpful note on celery: chop it up, lightly cook it in chicken broth (or vegetable broth) and freeze it in ice cube trays then put the cubes in bags in the freezer. Instant soup stock for winter!

Eggplant can also be frozen. Treat it as you would for Baba Ghanoush (see above), steps 1 and 2. Then just pop those cooled, soft eggplants into a freezer bag. The long skinny ones don’t need to be peeled – just roasted with a little olive oil and frozen. They thaw fast, and chop up nicely into lasagna or pasta sauce, or even eggplant parmesan if you don’t let them cook to complete mush!

Enjoy the bounty this week.

Thanks for your support.

Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle

“This life is a thump ripe melon, so sweet and such a mess.”
~Greg Brown, Rexroth’s Daughter