Thursday, October 14, 2010

newsletter catch up!

Wow - we got behind on posting these...

Red Springs Family Farm
September 30, 2010 week 19

Lettuce Tomatoes Sweet Peppers
Eggplant Garlic Sweet Potatoes
Acorn Squash Yokatta Na & Daikon Greens
Basil, Arugula, & Chives Hot peppers and Okra, choice

What a beautiful week. We’re so happy to be able to work in the garden without watering it with our sweat. The garden is due another rain, but it is so encouraging to see the greens finally thriving as they ought to in Fall. In the morning, if one looks closely, the intelligence of plant forms reveals itself. The soil all around the plants and the paths through the garden are dry, but the morning dew is funneled down the leaves to the stem and into the ground right at the base of the plant. Isn’t that fantastic?

New cooking greens for you this week are Yokatta Na (you might remember it from Spring – dark green oval leaves with nice thick edible stems) and Daikon Greens. The Daikons are thinnings from a hearty row of daikon radishes. The sun had been a little too hot for too long on the row by the time we got it picked, so some of the greens wilted abit. Soak them in cold water and they may perk back up abit. Otherwise, throw them straight into the wok and enjoy them wilted. You can use these greens together, steamed or stir-fried, or separate them to explore the different flavors and textures. You could use either of these greens, or both, in this recipe, which has been waiting since the early weeks of the season to finally be printed…

Yokatta Na Delight (from the Davis household)
2 heads Yokatta Na with stems, thinly sliced 1 Tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 2 Garlic scapes (or cloves), thinly sliced
3 Green onions (or chives?), thinly sliced 1 Red pepper (at least), thinly sliced
2 Skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2" strips 1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil

Heat olive oil in frying pan over med/high heat. When hot add ginger. Garlic, and green onions. Stir fry 2 mins.
Add red pepper and chicken and cook until chicken is done.
Add yokatta na, soy sauce, sesame oil and salt to taste.
Serves nicely over basmati rice. It would be also good with chick peas instead of chicken.

The sweet potatoes are almost ready to eat now. Keep them warm, dry, and dark and they will last a long time, probably all winter, and continue to get sweeter by the day. We haven’t sampled ours this week, but we hate to keep them back from you any longer. A slow bake is the best way to enhance the sweetness. This variety of sweet potato has been grown in Macon County and this region for well over 100 years. Some slips were passed to friends of ours who has shared them freely ever since. They are well adapted and very successful here. It was a good year for them – enjoy your sweets!

Another new flavor in your basket this week is Arugula. It’s in the herb bag with the basil and chives. It’s the salad herb that bites back. We love it and hope you do too. Primarily, arugula is a salad green, but if you have a notion, all sorts of other uses are possible. In Italy, they throw it on pizza, right on top at the end, so it gets a little mellower and somewhat crispy. It also mixes well into lasagna, just a thin layer on top of each layer of noodles. And, if you really want a taste bud thrill, there’s this one:

Arugula Pesto (from the Angelic Organics Kitchen)
In this recipe, the strong, peppery snap of mature arugula finds its counterpart in Asiago cheese. Blended to creamy smoothness with garlic, olive oil, and toasted pine nuts, this vibrant pesto will make something brilliant of a basic pasta meal. You can also try it tossed with roasted potatoes or steamed vegetables. If you plan to freeze it, don’t add the cheese until after the pesto has thawed. Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1/4 cup pine nuts 2 cups mature arugula
1/2 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 1 clove garlic, smashed
Salt freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
2. 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. Transfer the nuts to a dish to cool.
3. Combine the arugula, Asiago cheese, oil, garlic, and pine nuts in a blender or food processor; process until thoroughly combined and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Next week, October 7, is week 20 – the end of our projected “main season”. We hope to make a seasonal report, summarizing our experiences with the garden and the land this year, and also give you a survey to fill out and return to us, so that we can learn from your experiences of the season as well. Your feedback is invaluable to us, especially as we plan ahead for future seasons.

If you ordered cheese, it will be here at next week’s pick up.

Picking greens is a more time consuming task than we had remembered from Spring, so we are short on time today. Enjoy the harvest and we’ll see you next week!

Your gardeners,

Paul, Coree, Lulah, and the little mysterious Entwistle

Go With Muddy Feet

When you hear dirty story
Wash your ears.
When you see ugly stuff
Wash your eyes.
When you get bad thoughts
Wash your mind.
Keep your feet muddy.

-Nanao Sakaki

Red Springs Family Farm
October 7, 2010 week 20

State of the Farm Report

Lettuce Sweet Peppers Eggplant
Garlic Mustard & Kale Potatoes
Pumpkin Green Tomatoes
Mizuna, Arugula, & Green Onions
Hot peppers and Okra, choice

As this is Week # 20 and technically the end of our main season, we will make a “State of the Farm” Report. We will be emailing a season’s end survey to each of you. Your feedback means a lot to us. Your comments will help shape our future garden plans. We hope you will continue to share veggies with us this Fall and next Spring.

Before delving into the details, it is important to make some general statements, primarily of gratitude, to the people who have helped make this season possible. This includes you, shareholder-veggie-eater, as well as Coree’s nearby family who graciously and generously support us with their time and energy and willingness to help Lulah make it through long days of Mom and Dad’s work. We are also extremely grateful to our good friend Wilson who has made the trip down to our home each Wednesday, all season, to work with us, doing whatever needs to be done, and helping the extremely busy harvest day happen with much greater ease. As Coree’s belly has grown rounder, and the crops heavier, we have relied on him, and he has come through for us. He, as well as a couple other friends who have given hours of their mornings and afternoons for the cultivation, weeding, and care of our gardens have been life-savers.

This season, we found the limit. We wanted to grow the CSA, and succeeded. Had the weather been co-operative, we could have supported about 40 families from this land for the duration of the season. As it was, we were pushed to allow our numbers to fluctuate in order to better serve. We will not try to grow more than forty veggie shares from our current location. Besides the realities of finding enough space for potatoes, sweet corn, and lettuce, we also found the limitations of our work energy. As Coree’s work potential declined through the season, the weight of the manual labor fell squarely onto Paul, and it was a load. We realized at some point that we would have had less work later if we had more help earlier. Some crops did not receive the mulch they needed to stay weed-free throughout the season. Mulching is a heavy and hot job, and goes slowly alone. Timely cultivation of un-mulched rows is another crucial job that was often difficult to keep up with as a one man show. Sometimes maintaining the planting and harvesting schedule was nearly all that could be done. So, we have learned that we cannot do another season without MORE help. Many of our farmer friends welcome interns, young people looking to learn the crafts of gardening and farming in exchange for the season’s experience, room and board. Next season, we will be joining that club.

Now, for specifics. There’s really too many details to delve in a double sided page, but we’ll try. It was a good year to be diversified. Had we been green bean growers, we’d be in deep trouble now. We’re grateful the season gave as much as it did. We were pleased with basic crops – tomatoes, lettuces, garlic, basil, and potatoes all came through well.

Our spring greens suffered some, first from the flood, then from the heat. Cucumbers and green beans were what we missed the most this season. Those of you who have been with us for awhile can attest that we are fond of these fruits! Our timing wasn’t perfect for summer squash in either of our plantings, but we enjoyed what we got of those.
We finally succeeded in planting enough sweet peppers, and almost enough eggplant (some of our second planting succumbed to the early heat as well) for the season. We grew more tomatillos this year than ever before, and for completely unknown reasons, they failed to thrive.

And OKRA – well – we’d never really grown okra in enough quantity to consider before this year. The Star of David okra has reached nine feet tall in the field now and is finally slowing down. We know now that it’s a winner, and will learn how to modulate production to meet seasonal demand without overwhelming you. Meanwhile, it will likely take a chainsaw to get the stuff out of the field!

Halona muskmelons rocked our world this summer after two years of ho-hum results. We will be growing them again. We wish they were not a hybrid, and so we will continue to grow some heirlooms along with them. Watermelons were one of the crops that needed an extra hand to keep weed free, and they also suffered from excess rain and heat. We were pleased to give them as long as we did and look forward to seeing your feedback about their quantities and qualities.

It was a moderate year for sweet corn, not the best, not the worst. It was a tough year all around for caterpillars and the corn had it’s share of ear worms. We ran out of room altogether for our rainbow field corn, which pains us. The seed will keep and we’ll try again next year.

Planting the fall crops felt like a gamble in 100 degree grasshopper-ridden heat, and it was. Several areas needed re-seeding, and some more time and space intensive crops, like broccoli, could not be sprouted and tended in time to repair the damage. Still, the greens have come through and there’s a beautiful garden-full growing now. We hope to share more with you as Autumn progresses.

Lulah has grown like the weeds (or should I say, like the okra?) and thoroughly enjoyed the company of your children at the Farmer’s Market Pavilion. She dabbled with planting her own garden this year and learned to pitch compost from the tractor bucket with her pint-sized shovel. Our children are the most important crop to tend.

Here’s a recipe for you this week:
Fried Green Tomatoes with Crispy Cornmeal Crust Serves 4 to 6
1/2 cup milk, or 1 egg beaten with 1/4 cup water 1/2 cup cornmeal or flour, or a combination
1 1/4 teaspoons salt plus more to taste 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
mild-flavored vegetable oil 4 large firm green tomatoes, cored, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1. Line a plate with paper towels.
2. Put the milk or the egg-water mixture in a shallow bowl; set aside. Put the cornmeal or flour in another small, shallow bowl and stir in the salt and pepper.
3. Fill a large skillet 1/4-inch deep with oil. Heat over high heat until the oil just begins to smoke, about 3 minutes.
4. Dip each tomato slice into the liquid, then into the cornmeal or flour. Carefully place the tomato slices in the oil and cook until golden and soft (but not mushy), 3 to 4 minutes on each side (working in batches as necessary). Adjust the heat as necessary to prevent burning.
5. Transfer the fried tomatoes to the paper towel– lined plate to drain. Season with more salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Thanks so much for participating in our farm this year. We hope to see you soon.

The Entwistles

Season Extention...
Red Springs Family Farm
October 14, 2010 week 21

Lettuce Sweet Peppers Garlic Mustard
Turnip Greens Potatoes Arugula Mizuna Radishes Green Onion Sweet Potatoes

One cold snap was all it took. The leaves have changed and the canopy is rapidly thinning. Our fingers were wet and cold this morning during harvest and the early light through the trees has turned from green to yellow.

It’s all-you-can-eat greens time! We hope you know how much we appreciate those of you who appreciate these greens. The gardens are beautiful right now, and we will endeavor to bring in more abundant dark leafy greens as our family time allows. There are some stunning collards and kale and even a few heads of broccoli looking promising out there.

The turnip greens are thinnings of the RED turnip patch, so they look like radishes, but the real radishes are in the herb bag with the arugula, mizuna, and green onions. Some folks may not believe us, but those radish greens are really good to eat too! The mustards are listed in our seed catalog as “Pink Lettucy Mustard Gene Pool”. Last year they were much more pink, but much less prolific; they are a breeder’s work in progress. The description reads: “terrific salad fixings, mild but with just enough tang to keep you interested.” We’ve found that they just need to be wilted for a satisfying cooked green. A topping of garlicky seasoned olive oil suites them well.

Here’s a few tips for excessive amounts of greens:
Greens Tacos
You could use more or less of any one of these ingredients. Serves 2-3
3/4 pounds greens, cleaned and sliced into approximate 1 inch pieces
2 chopped garlic cloves, or whatever you have on hand (onion, green onion...)
2 teaspoons cooking oil Pinch red pepper flakes or cayenne
2 Tablespoons cream cheese 4-6 small corn tortillas or 2-3 larger flour ones
Heat the oil and add the garlic, having the greens ready to go, and cook garlic for about 30 seconds. Then add greens and cook until bright green and wilted, add red pepper (and salt and black pepper if you like). Take off heat and stir in cream cheese. Heat tortillas, divide filling among them. Eat and enjoy.

Quick Greens
(less than 10 minutes from start to finish)
Wash any type of greens that can be cooked (kale, radish greens, mustards, chard, spinach, etc.).
Saute with olive oil and garlic until wilted. Transfer to serving platter and add cracked black pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Easy yet delicious!

Take left-over greens, sauté them with onions, garlic, mushrooms and sliced sweet peppers, and freeze them in proportions to make a couple of omelets. Thaw them overnight (or in the microwave) and you’ve got a fresh green omelet anytime in the winter!

Enjoy! We’ll keep you posted…
The Entwistles

For my kingdom Thou gav’st me Nature,
Power to feel and delight in her wonders;
Thou sendest me, not as a stranger,
But as one who is privileged to search
Deep in the heart of a friend.
(Goethe, from Faust)