Thursday, June 28, 2012

week 6

Lettuce                        Onions                       Fresh Garlic
Carrots            Chioggia Beets            Summer Squash
Parsley                        Sorrel   Cilantro or Dill     Basil        Tulsi

A good community insures itself by trust, by good faith and good will, by mutual help.  A good community, in other words, is a good local economy.” ~ Wendell Berry (The Work of Local Culture)

Summer is off to a roaring start, folks.  Let us tell you about our week!  The good news is that Paul fixed the tractor PTO, which means we were finally able to mow the perimeter of the top garden and will be able to use the rototiller again when the soil is moist enough to till.  He's so handy – I think we would hire him out if we didn't keep him working full time here on the farm.  The not so good news is that Paul had a collision on our little one lane dirt road and our farm truck is wrecked beyond use.  The best part is that no one was injured.  We loved our twenty year old Ranger pick up.  We bought it in Seattle, on our way home from living on Maui.  It has been with us through some changes and served us well.  Now, if any of you see a full sized pick up truck, 4 wheel drive, extended cab for sale at a reasonable price – PLEASE let us know.

As for the drought, oh my.  We're fortunate to have created a way to irrigate our lower gardens.   The situation of our gardens is like this: there are lower gardens, where the lettuce and greens, summer squash, and most root crops are grown.  These are on our property, down in the hollow by our house.  Our property is not connected to city or county water.  We pump water from the spring fed stream on our perimeter into a holding tank on the hill above our home.  It gravity feeds down into our house where we filter it twice for home use and drinking water.  When we're not irrigating, we pump water up to the tank every two weeks or so.  Last year, we created a special line off the tank to feed drip lines in the field.  Almost ever row in the garden now has a line of drip tape at its base.  Lately, we're pumping the tank full twice and sometimes three times every day.  And so, the lower gardens are holding on.  We're wracking our brains to figure out a way to bring just a little irrigation to the upper gardens, which are not on our property but up the hill, quite a little hike, on our neighbor's place.  There's no well up there, no city water, and no electrical hook up.  The road is steep and narrow.   It's quiet and very beautiful, but not at all convenient. The tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, sweet potatoes, melons and winter squashes are up there.  Tomatoes are doing OK so far, and will likely begin ripening next week.  Tomato season may be fast and furious this year if the heat doesn't break.  The peppers and eggplant didn't have time to set their roots deep enough to be very happy with the current weather conditions.  The melons are doing surprisingly well, and we're amazed that the field corn is holding up as well as it is.  A nice long rain is definitely in order around here.  Just wanted to let you know how it goes around here in this long hot dry spell.

Our neighbors at Long Hungry Creek Farm grew an over abundance of these beautiful Chioggia beets.  They are exceptionally sweet and festive in coloration.  Carrots have struggled a little in the temperature extremes, but we're grateful to be pulling them through.  The white potatoes have been a little sad in the heat, but we're happy to share some new potatoes, harvested just yesterday, for your Fourth of July potato salad.
Recipes this week are courtesy of Deceptively Delicious (Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food), by Jessica Seinfeld.  If your family is rejecting vegetables, this might be a good book for you.  These creative recipes use vegetables, grated, mashed or pureed, in many surprising forms.  To puree your veggies, just steam (don't boil!) them until soft, then grind them in a blender or food processor for a minute or two, until they are really smooth, and proceed from there.  Purees freeze easily too.  Have fun!

Tortilla “Cigars” These pack well for picnics and lunches – enjoy hot or cold!
1 cup sauteed or roasted chicken or turkey, cubes (optional)
½ cup shredded Cheddar or American Cheese
½ cup yellow squash puree                           ½ cup carrot puree
4 oz cream cheese                                          ¼ tsp garlic powder (or tsp minced fresh!)
¼ tsp salt                                                        6 large whole wheat tortillas

1) Preheat oven to 350F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.
2) In a large bowl, stir together chicken, cheese, squash and carrot purees, cream cheese, garlic and salt.
3) Cut the tortillas in half.  Place one half on the work surface with the straight edge facing you.  Spread about 2 Tbsp. Of filling along the edge from one side to the other.  Starting at the edge, roll the tortilla into a cigar shape, completely enclosing the filling.  Place seam side down on the baking sheet. Stuff and roll the rest of the tortillas the same way.
4) Bake until the tortillas begin to brown, 4 to 5 minutes.  Let cool slightly before serving.

“Buttered” Noodles Very clever idea – she uses a trans-fat-free soft tub margarine spread, but I prefer to use a little real butter, or combo with olive oil, instead.
8 oz. Spaghetti, angel hair, or other pasta               ½ cup yellow squash puree
¼ cup milk                                                                  2 Tbsp butter or alternative spread
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan                                            ¼ tsp salt

1) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente.
2) Drain, return the pasta to the warm pot, and stir in the squash puree (make sure it is very creamy), milk, butter, Parmesan, and salt.
(You might try sprinkling some finely chopped parsley or other green herbs on here too!)

We're getting a little nutty around here waiting for tomatoes and cucumbers to come around.  In the meantime, use your extra veggie pieces to make some really good stock.  Use those carrot and beet tops and onion and garlic skins in simmering water (add meat bones if you want) for a long time.  Pull out the veggies and use that good liquid to make soup, beans, rice, or anything good.  Freeze it in quart or pint freezer bags for later.  If you like mint tea, try tulsi – it's the long purplish flower tops with the strong fragrance.  We're headed for iced tea days this weekend, so make the most of that.   Also, I use the pretty UFO shaped patty pans just like zucchini – shredded in a thick sweet quick bread with lots of raisins.  If I get a spare moment, I'll post my favorite recipe on the blog.  Please share your favorite recipes with me!  We love to hear from you.

Have a very happy, safe Fourth of July celebration.  Drink water and stay in the shade as much as possible on these hot days.  If you see any rain, please push it our way! 

Vegetably yours ~                                                                            Paul, Coree, Lulah and Levon

Thursday, June 21, 2012

week 5

 Attention - If you haven't already - please pick up a CSA Membership Information sheet - or ask us to email you one.  It's summer vacation time, so please make arrangements for your basket if  you are going away! Thanks a million...

Lettuce                        Green Beans              Fresh Garlic
Chard             little Beets                   Summer Squash
Parsley                        Sorrel Cilantro          Dill     Basil    

Elegant solutions will be predicated upon the uniqueness
of place. ~ John Todd

The summer solstice was yesterday - as hard as it is to believe, we are now beginning our earthly journey tilting away from the sun.  The days are hot hot hot and we're making the most of the mornings and evenings to finish the mulching and continue irrigating.  We've had some mighty good help from good friends lately.  That's a lot to be grateful for!  The gardens look amazingly beautiful for as dry as it has been.  The corn and beans keep growing.  Some plants are moving a little slower in the drought.  They are spending their energy reaching deeper to find the moisture they need.  One of the beauties of our low hollow location is that there is water for them to find under the ground!

A good thing about all the sun is that it will be bringing the tomatoes on a little earlier.  The larger fruits are looking less green, showing just the faintest blush. The eggplants and peppers are blooming profusely now and setting small fruit.  Watermelon and cantaloupe vines are stretching their tendrils long.  I'm sweating it out for the first cucumbers to fill out.  The first planting got lost in the heat and shuffle, so we're a little behind on those cooling fruits.  Summer squashes are fully on a roll now.  Send us your best squash casserole recipes.  Here we go!

These sweet little Beets were getting just right for salad.   We enjoy them curled onto the salad with a potato peeler.  The slices are thin enough to crunch right into the salad, adding a great color element and great rooty sweetness.  Feta cheese and toasted sunflower seeds are nice compliments as well.

All recipes this week are from the Mennonite Central Committee's excellent cookbook:
Simply In Season.

Stacked Vegetable Quesadillas
1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced                       saute in 1 Tbsp oil until translucent

1 clove garlic (or more) minced                    4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 carrots, julienned                                        1 summer squash, julienned
1 green or red sweet pepper, thinly sliced
Add and cook 5 minutes more just until vegetables are tender.  Salt and pepper to taste.

12 corn tortillas                                              1 1/2 cups pepper jack cheese, shredded
Assemble 4 stacks simultaneously on a baking sheet.  Start with a tortilla, top with a large spoonful of vegetables, some grated cheese, and then another tortilla.  Repeat layers, ending with a third tortilla. Place stacks in preheated over at 400F for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted and stacks are hot.  Cut into  quarters and serve warm with salsa, sour cream, avocado and/or chopped fresh cilantro.

Thai Green Beans
5 cup green beans                  Steam 5-8 minutes until bright green and lightly crunchy.

1/2 onion, chopped               2 Tbsp ginger root, peeled and minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
In a frypan or wok saute in 2 tsp sesame oil over medium heat until onion is tender, 5 minutes.

Add to taste: 3 Tbsp soy sauce                       2 Tbsp Thai sweet chili sauce

Add and cook 5 minutes:            1 cup firm tofu (cubed or crumbled, optional)
Add steamed beans and stir to coat with sauce.  Simmer over medium - low heat for 5 minutes.  Serve over rice.  Garnish with toasted cashews, sesame seeds, or slivered almonds.

I love these kinds of recipes!  perfect for summer birthdays...

Secret Chocolate Cake
2 cups beets, cooked, peeled, chopped         1/2 cup applesauce
puree until smooth, set aside.

1 1/2 cups sugar                                            1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt                                     3 eggs
combine a large mixing bowl.  beat with electric mixer 2 minutes.

1/2 cup baking cocoa, sifted                         1 1/2 tsp vanilla
add along with pureed beets; beat another 90 seconds.

2 1/2 cups flour, white, wheat or mixed     1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt                                                     1 tsp cinnamon
Gradually sift into the batter, mixing it in with a spoon but stirring only until blended.

1/2 cup chocolate chips and/or chopped nuts
Stir in.  Pour into a greased 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350F until knife tests clean, 40-50 minutes.  To bake in a bundt pan, pour half of batter into the greased pan, sprinkle chips or nuts evenly on top, then add remaining batter.

Variation: substitute 2-3 cups shredded raw summer squash for the cooked beets.  Use ground cinnamon and add 1/2 tsp allspice.

Paul is in the midst of fixing the tractor PTO.  Another truckload of hay is in order to mulch the melons.  Corn needs thinning.  Cucumbers need a trellis.  Lulah needs to spend most of the day up to her neck in the cool creekwater while Levon tries his hand at rock skipping and the various possibilities therein for good sound effects.  We're busy folks here, so I'll not tarry.

You be well and enjoy the harvest.

Paul, Coree, Lulah and Levon

Thursday, June 14, 2012

week 4

Lettuce                             Green Beans          Fresh Garlic
Chard             Baby Bok Choy           Summer Squash
Parsley                        Sorrel Cilantro          Dill      Anise Hyssop

“There is then, a politics of food that, like any politics, involves our freedom. We still (sometimes) remember that we cannot be free if our minds and voices are controlled by someone else.  But we have neglected to understand that we cannot be free if our food and its sources are controlled by someone else.  The condition of the passive consumer of food is not a democratic condition.  One reason to eat responsibly is to live free.” ~ Wendell Berry, from his essay “The Pleasures of Eating”
(To read more of this essay, look up Wendell Berry’s excellent book What Are People For.  We highly recommend it.)

How fast it comes, the middle of June.  The days are nearly at their peak of length, and the work fills the days completely, often with some spill-over into dusk and darkness.  We were disappointed with the tiny little 2/10 inch of rain that fell, but there is little to do about it except dance, pray, and keep irrigating. 

The garlic harvest is absolutely stunning this year.  Because of the extremely dry conditions, the stems are brittle and have cured faster than usual.  We enjoy spending some hours of these hot middays in the shade, braiding the soft-neck garlic to hang in the shady shed side of the barn.  The largest and most perfect are kept separate for planting in October.  This week we’ve brought you some of the least of the garlic – that which we decided NOT to braid for keeping.  There’s nothing wrong with it except that it’s a little small.  It will keep fine and you should take all you want and store it.  We will continue to bring you garlic each week – larger bulbs.  Garlic will cure and keep for many months in a dark, dry, well-ventilated place at a cool room temperature.

The flea beetles took the first nibbles at the baby bok choy as soon as they had leaves large enough to eat.  Then the grasshoppers started working on them.  Thankfully, there’s still some left.  The damage is cosmetic – the greens are still tasty steamed or stir-fried.  Soak them in water to dislodge the grit in the stems – rinse well and enjoy – leaves, stems, and all.

The first green beans are such a treat.  The kids snack on them raw, in the row.  We love the satisfying snap of them coming off the vine, and the beautiful way they have of hiding, hanging behind the heavy green foliage of the bean bush.  We like to make them in a very simple way.  We steam them, then coat them in butter or olive oil and chopped garlic.   If the raw garlic is too much for you, then heat it in the butter or oil for just a couple minutes.  Add a little lemon juice, a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  They really don’t need much.

The summer squash are picking up speed now.  So are the other herbs, like dill, cilantro, and parsley.  The anise hyssop is at its peak, with those dark leaves and purple flowers.  It’s a sweet treat for all the senses.  Use it in tea, or throw it on a salad.  Some people even mince it and use it in scones or sweet bread.   Oh Yum. 
Summer Squash Salad (Thank you Martha Stewart for inspiring)
One share’s worth of assorted Summer Squash, cut into bite-sized, 1/4-inch-thick pieces
2 tablespoons fresh herbs of choice               1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper                                  6 ounces pecorino cheese

Toss together squashes, herbs, and oil in a large bowl; season with pepper. Add cheese; toss. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.

Mongolian Garlic (from Angelic Organics)
Here’s a recipe to use a bounty of garlic, in a crock pot.  These intensely flavorful little gems are great as a condiment, or, for an hors d’oeuvre, stick toothpicks in them and serve in a shallow plate in a pool of the sauce. Any leftover sauce is delicious over rice or egg noodles.
(adapted from The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking).  Makes about 2 cups
5 large, firm heads garlic                   2/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock or water                                  
1/4 cup soy sauce                              3 tablespoons sake or Chinese rice wine
2 tablespoons sugar                           1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil (optional)

1. Separate the cloves of garlic from the head. Peel away all skins that fall away from the cloves, but leave the thin layer of skin that doesn’t fall away on each clove. Use only large, firm cloves.
2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. When the liquid is just about to simmer, add the garlic, turn the heat to low, and partially cover.
3. Stew the garlic in the liquid until the garlic is very soft, 3 to 4 hours depending on the size of the cloves and the variety of garlic. It is very important that the liquid does not come to a boil; the garlic will turn bitter if boiled. Uncover the pot now and then to check that the liquid is just barely simmering and to stir the garlic. At the end of the cooking time, turn off the heat, cover the pot tightly, and let the cloves marinate in the liquid for 2 hours.
4. The cloves can be served at this point or refrigerated for up to a week. They are best served warm or at room temperature. The cloves are still in their skins. Pop them in your mouth this way and use your tongue to squeeze out the clove (it comes out easily), or squeeze it out with the flat side of a knife.

Green Bean Salad with Walnuts and Shaved Parmesan in Lemon Dressing
Serves 4 to 6
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts                          1 pound green beans
1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste                             freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice       3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, thinly shaved (about 1/2 cup)

1. Toast the walnuts 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.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the beans and salt; cook until tender but still firm, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Transfer the beans to a colander in the sink and run cold water over them. Trim if neded.
4. Toss the beans and walnuts in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice and olive oil until well combined.  Pour this mixture over the beans and toss until well coated.  Transfer the salad to a serving platter or to individual plates. Scatter the Parmesan shavings on top.

Thanks for your good eating – Be Well!                                                                    The Entwistles

Thursday, June 7, 2012

week 3

June 7, 2012 week 3
Lettuce     Broccoli    Swiss Chard    Fresh Garlic    Summer Squash
Baby Carrots    Green Onions    Catnip    Parsley   Sorrel   Arugula   Fennel

This curious world we inhabit is more wonderful than convenient; more beautiful than it is useful; it is more to be admired and enjoyed than used.” - Henry David Thoreau

We can't claim to have lived up to that quote in its fullest sense this past week, as we have exerted great effort to extract USE from our relationship with the living world (he's spot on that it's not convenient to attempt such a thing!), but we have sincerely enjoyed the change in the weather. It's as if we're finally having a Spring, now that it's nearly Summer. It was 47 degrees down in the hollow this morning. The ¾ inch of rain that fell a couple nights ago set our minds at ease.

Mulching and caging 150 tomato plants was much more comfortable in 85 degree weather than 95 degree. And the garlic came out of the ground with much greater ease with a little moisture to help it along. The days have been long and full of labor, but beautiful and filled with gratitude for the good work. The corn will not be early this year, but we can finally exhale and believe that there will be sweet corn this season. The aviary predation seems to have relented and the corn sprouts are tall enough to no longer be easy for a crow to pull up by the root. Interestingly, the best deterrent that we found is to hang old CDs by string off of long sticks pounded into the ground. The CDs dance and spin in the wind and the flashes of light and motion scare away the birds. It is an unusual sight, and we're glad that it works.

The summer squash are just beginning! Varieties this week are the classic yellow crookneck and sunburst pattypan. We're sampling a new pattypan this year. It's an heirloom called Pattison de Melange and it promises to be beautiful, if not abundant. There will be more varieties to come – yellows, whites and greens - as the season progresses.

The baby carrots are just a nice little nibble. Levon and Lulah enjoyed crunching them so much, we thought we'd share the joy. I've been thinking of cooking them whole, with an onion, some garlic, maybe a hunk of ginger and some potatoes, then pureeing the whole thing, greens and all, together for a creamy soup. If you try it, let me know how it goes.

By the way – if you are ever struggling about what to do with a vegetable that you've received in your basket, please don't hesitate to drop us a line. We'll try to help guide you toward something appropriately tasty. Your feedback about these baskets is always helpful to us. We want to provide a good service.

Clearly, this is the week of broccoli! Enjoy it – we'll be lucky if there's any left in the field next week. If you don't want to eat it all this week, just blanche it for 4 minutes, cool it fast, and pop it in a zip lock in the freezer. It’s wonderful a little al dente – don’t overcook it!

Eating seasonally is akin to raising children. There are distinct phases, each with its own special effect. Just when you think you never want to see Chard again, its gone, and won't return until Fall, or maybe even next Spring. Broccoli is a flower of the Spring and Fall. Tomatoes, in their most enjoyable form, are truly a seasonal fruit. We hope you will be creative and savor the tastes of each season of the garden as it passes.

Your herb bag this week is quite the mix. Four different tastes are represented in that little sack. The Arugula represents pungent tastes. This picking is SPICY. The heat of early spring is reflected in the taste of this salad herb. The fennel, on the other hand, is all sweetness. There will most likely be fennel bulbs coming some time later, but for now, use these feather fennel fronds in a salad, or dip them into dressing and eat them like celery. Parsley is technically a bitter tasting herb (though there are certainly much worse out there!), and sorrel is sour. These basic tastes each have different effects on our bodies, and in balance, each contribute to our well-being. We hope that is will be so for you.

 Catnip is not a usual taste in the American palate, but it is edible for us as well as our feline friends. Snip a few leaves into your salads to get a feeling for it. Some folks claim that it works well as a meat seasoning. We like it in an herbal tea – alongside lemon balm or chamomile and a taste of honey. It is a relative of mint, has a soothing and digestive effect, and is mild enough to be safe for children. The effects of catnip on humans are markedly different than what it does to cats!

Here's a nice Broccoli Salad for you from Simply in Season:
3 cups broccoli florets                        1 cup raisins
10 slices bacon, fried and crumbled, or ½ cup bacon bits
½ cup red onion, diced                       ½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup cheese, shredded (optional)
Mix together in a bowl. Set aside.

2 Tbsp sugar                                    1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
¾ cup plain yogurt or mayo
Combine sugar and vinegar and stir to dissolve. Stir in yogurt until well blended. Pour over the broccoli mixture and stir together.

And one more from Angelic Organics - Broccoli with Asian-Style Dressing 
 For variety, try adding matchstick-size strips of steamed carrots or daikon. Serves 2 to 4
1 medium head broccoli                          1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons peanut oil                         2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger                1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil              1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil (optional)
1. Separate the florets from the stalk; break into smaller florets. Cut the stalk into 1-inch lengths and then into matchstick-size strips.
2. Place the broccoli in a steamer basket set over 1 1/2 inches boiling water and cover. Steam for 5 minutes. Transfer the broccoli to a bowl.
3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl; stir until well combined. Pour the dressing over the broccoli and mix well.

Next week the first flush of green beans will arrive. Until then, be well and eat your veggies.
Best regards, Paul, Coree, Lulah and Levon