Tuesday, July 27, 2010

newsletter week 9

Red Springs Family Farm
July 22, 2010 week 9

Tomatoes Lettuce Pepper
Garlic Summer Squash Sweet Corn
Eggplant Green Beans
Okra or Cucumber Cantaloupe/Watermelon
Herb bag: Basil & Parsley

Welcome to the mid-season abundance ~ full heat, unseasonably regular rainfall, rampant growth, and big production. Enjoy!

Okra plants grew a foot taller over the past few days. Watermelons and tomatoes began to split as the recent downpours saturated the soil. Sad as that is, there’s still plenty to eat, and canning season has begun. Eggplants are just beginning. They won’t be a regular, weekly item for quite awhile, but these nice plump black globes were weighing down the eggplant branches.

We didn’t think there would be enough green beans to send this week, but we were proven wrong this morning. You have all the ingredients for a small batch of ratatouille this week.

It’s been a busy-bee week on land. Sunday night’s thunder and lightning storm shook the house and kept us awake. We felt fortunate the next day when we learned that Tompkinsville, (not too far from here) got a whopping FOUR INCHES of rain. We got just over a half inch, which was perfectly sufficient considering how fast and hard it fell. We took a day easy for Coree’s birthday, and enjoyed a meal at a new restaurant outside of Nashville, the Farm House. It is a thrill for us to pay someone else to cook and do dishes, and we were particularly satisfied because the restaurant uses primarily locally sourced and sustainably farmed meats and vegetables. Support local business – the quality is well worth the price.

The next round of corn isn’t quite tassling yet – this round sure came in nice.

Grilled Corn on the Cob
To prepare corn for grilling, peel back the husks but do not tear them off. Tear out he discard the corn silk, and then pull the husks back over the cobs. Some cooks moisten the husks with water before grilling which helps keep them from burning, especially over a very hot fire.) Put the cobs on the hot grill over medium-low fire for 7 to 8 minutes, turning every few minutes. Before serving, check one to make sure it is done. Serve with sweet butter and salt. Or serve with lime wedges and a mixture of salt and cayenne to sprinkle on the corn.

We’re short on time today. Harvest is a time consuming process these days!

Best regards, Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle

“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”
~ Wendell Berry, from his essay The Use of Energy

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Red Springs Family Farm
July 15, 2010 week 8

Tomatoes Lettuce Green Pepper
Garlic Summer Squash Melons
Green Beans Sweet Corn
Herb bag: Basil & Parsley

We are SO grateful for that rain. It was a good pleasant soaker, some a little fast, but not so fast that the ground couldn’t hold it. The cloud cover gave us a much needed break from the heat and the plants have all responded immediately. We are very glad, very grateful. Now, back to pulling weeds!

We took the rainy day opportunity to start the Fall garden. On trays in our living room and out in the shade shack in the yard are now many thousands of soil blocks with broccoli, Chinese cabbages, kales, collards, and kohlrabis sprouting within them. They are germinating well and we will be dedicating time in the next dry spell to preparing space for them in the soil.

Meanwhile, the gardens are exploding. As usual, there are booms and busts. There won’t be any more knowing what will come in the baskets for the next few weeks. We’ll just be taking up the harvest as it comes, and bringing you the best we’ve got. Peppers and tomatoes are thriving. Melons have ripened faster than usual in the heat, and threaten to explode after the rain. Some of the smaller eggplants that we thought were goners seem to be sending new growth up. We’ll hope for an extended harvest from those. Bean beetles are hard at work on the green beans, so we’re hard at work on the bean beetles.

Sweet corn news flash: Paul went to check the sweet corn Saturday morning and found three unripened ears stripped and chewed in the patch. Because of the rain, the empty rows around the corn had to be hand-weeded before we could put up electric fence. So, he spent a good part of the day doing that. Sunday he went to put the fence up and found a carnage of 60 ears chewed on the ground. Don’t fret, there’s still more, but it was loss. We’re sending you the first pick this week. We can’t even pretend to supply those of you who are corn enthusiasts with ALL your corn needs for the season, but we do hope to provide you with an exceptional corn experience while it lasts. This week’s pick is small – there will be more next week.

The sugars in corn very rapidly deteriorate into starches. We try to bring you corn at its very freshest, and hope you will enjoy it almost immediately (like, tonight!). If you can’t get around to eating your corn right away, it might be a good idea to cook it right away and store it so those sugars are preserved at their peak. Really fresh corn required very little heat to make it tender – just a few minutes (four) at a boil, or a few more than that if you steam it. We like it raw, too, and you could just cut some of the corn into a salsa or stir fry with the peppers, tomatoes, or green beans.

These little pint sized watermelons are called Petite Yellow. YES, they’re supposed to be yellow inside. The cantaloupes are mostly a variety called Halona, which we picked up after some of our friends grew them last year with beautiful success. There are more of these to come as well.

For those of you enjoying this luscious blueberry harvest, we thought this recipe might suite you on a hot day…

Blueberry Granita
2 ½ cups fresh blueberries ½ cup sugar ¾ cup water
1 tsp grated lemon rind 1 Tbsp lemon juice

Combine blueberries and sugar in a food processor and blend until smooth. Strain through the sieve, stirring with a spoon to extract the pulp and juice. Discard seeds. Add water and lemon rind and juice to blueberry puree. Pour mixture into a shallow dish or pie plate. Place in freezer and freeze 8 hours or overnight. Scrape with a fork until mixture is like shaved ice. Serves 4.

As for these tomatoes – aren’t they grand? We’re so glad to be able to give so many so early in the season. So far the vines are holding well and the rain has certainly helped them along. Alice Waters shares pleasant and useful comment and recipes on tomatoes in her book on vegetables:

“The first ripe, locally grown tomatoes still come as a shock. They stimulate all the senses at once, and place us firmly in summer. And they are a reminder of how far agriculture has drifted away from seasonality. When tomatoes are available in the supermarket year round, we lose that keen anticipatory yearning for the juiciness of summer. Instead, we accept a pale approximation of a tomato, a tomato completely severed from our daily reality, grown by farmers thousands of miles away.
Never store tomatoes in the refrigerator; cold temperatures kill their flavor. Keep them at room temperature. Perfectly ripe ones may keep only a day or two, but less ripe ones should keep for a few days to a week. If you find yourself with too many ripe tomatoes at once, make them into a quick sauce.”

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta
Slice large ripe tomatoes into thick slices and season well with salt and pepper. Fry thick slices of crusty country bread in a heavy skillet in 1/8 inch of olive oil until they are golden brown on both sides (or grill it). As the bread fries, you will need to add more oil to keep the pan from going dry. Remove the bread slices form the pan and drain them briefly on a towel. Rub the bread slices generously with garlic. Top each slice of bread with a thick tomato slice and a basil leaf, and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle a little extra-virgin olive oil over the tomatoes and serve.

Pasta with Tomato Confit
Allow about 2 tomatoes per serving. Make a bed of basil leaves in the bottom of an ovenproof dish that will hold the tomatoes snugly in one layer. Peel and core the tomatoes and place them core side down on the basil. Lightly salt and pepper. Pour in enough extra virgin olive oil to come halfway up the sides of the tomatoes. Bake for 1 ½ hours in a preheated 350 degree oven, until the tomatoes are soft and lightly caramelized and have infused the oil with their perfume. Season to taste and serve spooned over cooked and drained fresh noodles.

Remember, we need your cheese order no later than next week. Colby-Chipotle and Farm Jack both for $8/lb ($4 for ½ lb). Cheese will come to delivery August 5. Kenny’s Cheese only comes once a month!

Have a great weekend! Paul, Coree and Lulah Entwistle

“A good end cannot sanctify evil Means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it.”
~William Penn~

Thursday, July 8, 2010

And week 7

Red Springs Family Farm
July 7, 2010 week 7

Tomatoes Lettuces Cucumbers
Garlic Fennel Summer Squash
Onion Carrots & Beets
Herb bag: Basil Parsley Dill

Oh dear, it’s hot! I guess it IS July and all, but we’re ready for a “cold snap” and some beautiful rain. Who knew how much we would come to appreciate rain again after such a wet spring, but there’s no substitute for balanced weather. Drip tape is laid down in many rows now, and there’s nothing in the garden that wouldn’t benefit from a good soaker now.

So, the lettuce is suffering in the heat and dry. These beautiful red heads are, by most standards, pretty bitter. We recommend dressing them with a sweet or fruity dressing (blueberry vinaigrette anyone?), and if that doesn’t work, just use those beautiful leaves as a garnish for the very yummy tomatoes. Next week’s lettuce is looking better, and after that we’re relying on the graces of the weather.

Yes! Tomatoes! And there will be more, so many more! The very firm small, round ones are Early Girls, which didn’t turn out to be quite so early, since we planted them down in the bottom, but it was worth a try, and they’re lovely, right on time. The first time we tried an Early Girl, we thought “oh no, it’s so hard it won’t taste good”, but we were wrong. Their flavor is very good, and they don’t bruise as easily as our favorite Paul Robesons. The Robesons are worth the trouble to keep bruise-free. We’ll try to keep you informed about other tomato varieties as the season progresses. There are so many kinds, and they are great fun to eat!

Your carrots and beets may look a little smaller this week. They are. We’re thinning a new bed, hoping for the rain to swell the ones left behind into nice juicy roots. You’ll likely find a few unusual beets in your bag. Those are Chioggia beets, striped on the inside. It’s an old heirloom variety from Italy. We grew a few to see how they performed and have been impressed. Let us know what you think!

It’s my guess that any Italian immigrants who settled Tennessee and tried to grow their heirloom seeds soon figured out that fennel is finicky in the humidity. They probably resorted to great tomatoes, basil, garlic, zucchini, and maybe some Chioggia beets pretty quick. Fennel grows wild by the side of the road in places like northern California. Not here. So, here’s the last of it for this season. I think it would be yummy to slice the fennel, carrots and beets, throw in some whole peeled garlic cloves and toss it all with plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast that combo in the oven until the beets are tender, then squeeze some fresh lemon juice over it. Yum.

Our summer squashes and cucumbers are asking for a rain, too. The cucumbers may go on vacation next week. The Patty pan squashes in their pretty sunburst and pale greens will keep trickling in. We don’t like to be overwhelmed with summer squashes, and hope you are finding just the right things to do with yours. Here’s one classic recipe for you:


2 cups summer squash, sliced 1 cup carrot, grated
1 cup onion, diced 1 cup sour cream
2 cups seasoned croutons 2 tablespoons butter

In a 2-quart casserole dish, layer 1/2 of the croutons on bottom. Mix vegetables together with the sour cream and spread on top of the croutons.
Add the rest of the croutons then top with the butter. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour.
Serving Size: 4

Another way to embrace your beets:
Baked Beet Root with Yogurt Walnut Dressing
3/4 cup walnuts 5 medium beets, thoroughly washed
1 tablespoon butter 2 cups plain yogurt
1 minced hot green chile peppers 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro 1 red chili pepper, minced
salt to taste

1~Spread walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast at 300 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes. Chop coarsely.
2~Butter aluminum foil. Pierce beets with a fork, and wrap with foil. Bake at 375 degrees F for 1 hour, or until tender (it won’t take so long with these small beets). Cool.
3~In a medium bowl, beat yogurt until smooth. Mix in green chile pepper, coriander, and walnuts. Season to taste with salt. Chill for 30 minutes.
4~Peel beets, and quarter without cutting all the way through. Place in a serving dish, and spread open. Spoon dressing over beets, and garnish with cilantro, and minced red chile peppers.

Celebrating the start of tomato season…

Roasted Tomato Basil Pesto

2 pre-roasted tomatoes, or 1 large fresh tomato 2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled, halved
3 Tbsp pine nuts 2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh whole basil leaves ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp butter, softened Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1) Combine the tomatoes, garlic, pine nuts and oil in a blender and process until just combined. Add a handful of basil and process again briefly; continue adding the basil in small amounts until all is combined.
2) Stir in the Parmesan cheese and butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Next week we’ll have green beans again, and bell peppers too! Watermelons are looking promising, as is the okra. Join us in praying, hoping, dancing and singing for a good long gently soaking rain this weekend.

Be well,
Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle

“You talk of the mines of Australia,
They’ve wealth in red gold, without doubt;
But, ah! There is gold in the farm, boys –
If only you’ll shovel it out”

oops - newsletter week 6

I completely forgot to post this last week - here you go!

Red Springs Family Farm
July 1, 2010 week 6

Lettuces Swiss Chard Cucumbers
Fresh Garlic Carrots Tomatillos
Tomatoes Summer Squash Red Onion
Herb bag: Basil Parsley

What great cold snap! We were ready for this weather. The heat takes a toll on the garden, and though we’re really glad to see everything standing well so far, we may see some disruption in the lettuce schedule on down the road.

Summer crops like okra, tomatoes, and peppers love the dry heat, and we’re very near to seeing the first “real” tomatoes coming in. These little early tomatoes are nice and all, but they have only served to prime our palates for the big juicy red ones that are growing into a veritable jungle up in the hill garden. Sweet Corn is tassling, and bell peppers will be swelling to a harvest size soon too. The melons patch is full of miniature melons – fuzzy little cantaloupes and baseball sized watermelons, vining their way into the tomatoes and over the potato bed more quickly by the day.

We grew more tomatillos this year than ever before. We think they’re great fun, and hope you will enjoy them too. Here’s a wonderful use for yours this week:

Tomatillo Guacamole
3 avocados - peeled, pitted, and mashed 3 tomatillos, husked and chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped 3 small tomatoes, seeded, chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
3 drops hot pepper sauce salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, mix avocados, tomatillos, red onion, tomatoes, and lime juice. Season with red pepper flakes, hot pepper sauce, and salt and pepper. Cover, and refrigerate at least 45 minutes before serving. (Cilantro would be good in this too, if you like cilantro.)

Those of you partaking in cheese this month – we hope you enjoy your selection. Kenny told us at pick up that the Barren County Blue is his personal favorite. For August, we’d like to offer Farmhouse Jack and Colby Chipotle. Both are only $8/lb ($4/ ½ lb). In order to better work with Kenny’s farm schedule, we need to collect the orders a little earlier – no later than July 22.

Brinna’s bountiful blueberries begin! Here we go! Blueberries are $6 per lb. It looks like we will be able to establish standing orders pretty fast. Let us know what you want.

We are nearing the time of season in which we wonder exactly how many cucumbers a person CAN eat in one week. It’s a great time of year. Living in the summer without air conditioning has given us a hearty appreciation of the class of foods known as “refrigerants”. Cucumbers are among them. They are cooling to the body. The ones you are receiving now are Suhyo Long cukes – some of our very favorites. We’ll have some more common varieties later. Paul was not a cucumber fan until we began to grown these loooong, sometimes curly, spiny, burpless fruit.

Unwashed cucumbers can be kept in a sealed plastic bag in the vegetable crisper bin for about a week. Keep cucumbers tucked far away from tomatoes, apples, and citrus—these give off ethylene gas that accelerates cucumber deterioration. You can do a lot of fancy things to the skin of a cucumber, and when it is young, fresh, and unwaxed, it really only needs to be thoroughly washed. However, if the skin seems tough or bitter you can remove it; if the seeds are bulky, slice the cucumber lengthwise and scoop them out.

Chilled Cucumber-Mint Soup with Yogurt or Sour Cream
Angelic Organics Kitchen (adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook).

4 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped (about 4 cups) 1 to 2 cups water
2 cups plain yogurt (or 1 cup yogurt with 1 cup sour cream) 1 clve garlic, peeled, smashed
2 tablespoons fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill several fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon honey 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
2 scallions, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

1. Combine the chopped cucumber, 1 cup water, yogurt, garlic, mint, dill, honey, and 1 teaspoon salt in a blender or food processor. Purée the ingredients, adding more of the water until the soup is a consistency you like. Season with more salt to taste.
2. Transfer the soup to a large bowl and chill for several hours. Garnish each serving with chopped scallions.

Easy Greens with Peanuts
½ lb Chard or other greens, stems and ribs removed ½ cup peanuts (toasted if you like)
3 Tbsp. olive oil or butter salt and pepper to taste

1. Steam the greens until tender, 5-10 min. for chard, depending on the thickness of the leaves.
2. Transfer the greens to a colander and run cold water over them to stop them from cooking. When cool enough to handle, gently squeeze out the excess water from the greens and chop.
3. Place the peanuts in a plastic zip-top bag and crush them with a rolling pin or heavy skillet.
4. Heat the olive oil or butter in a large skillet over medium hat. Add the greens; sauté, stirring constantly until thoroughly coated and glossy, about 2 minutes.
5. Remove the skillet from heat; sprinkle the peanuts over the greens. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

As prickly as summer squashes and cucumber plants can be, it is still a pleasure to wander in the early morning green shade of the patch, hearing the bee-song as the busy bugs make their way from flower to flower, keeping the fruit coming on. In the morning, the bees are too intent on their work to both with a stray hand reaching into the plant interior to find squashes. They’re songs get worried, then they forget about us and carry on with the pollination frenzy. It’s great.

Everyone have a happy and safe Fourth of July weekend.

We’ll see you next week…

Paul, Coree, and Lulah

A free people [claim] their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate. -Thomas Jefferson