Tuesday, July 22, 2014

week 8

Red Springs Family Farm 7/22/14

In one bag: Eggplant New Potatoes Cucumbers
Green Beans Yellow Crookneck Squash
In the other bag: Lettuce Celery Basil
Carrots Garlic
And then another bag of tomatoes.

Sometimes the garden season feels like a flood, a wave, a marathon full of flavor, heat, fun, and lots of heavy lifting. We pulled the potatoes out of the ground and down the hill last week and have made a serious dent in the onions, too. Tomatoes are an on-going harvest. The plants are already spilling over the top of the cages and reaching for each other across the five or six feet rows.

Just want to let you know: your feedback is crucial. How many potatoes can you eat in a week? How many eggplant, tomatoes, green beans? Is this basket sufficient, a challenge, or not enough? Part of the joy of staying small is being able to really absorb meaningful feedback from YOU. Be kind, and share your experiences. Thanks.

Oh carrots - there will be plenty more of these. Even thought we had a nice carrot soup last week, I definitely recommend eating them raw. They are sweet and crisp and don't much resemble those long skinny things grown in the California sand and sold in plastic bunny bags. We don't grow long carrots because we have dense and rocky soil, but we enjoy growing short, stocky carrots that taste the way a carrot should.

Two words for next week's harvest: corn, and watermelons. Need I say more?

I dreamed a recipe, literally. After a busy night's sleep, I remembered grinding garlic and ginger with tamari and how beautiful and tasty it was. All Purpose Homemade Teriyaki Sauce: Take about equal portions of FRESH ginger root and FRESH garlic cloves and grind them to a mushy paste in a food processor. Add an abundant amount of tamari or soy sauce and blend some more. Add some lemon or lime juice and either coconut oil or olive oil (or both) and blend until emulsified.

We used this sauce to marinade thick slices of eggplant and yellow squash before they went on the grill. We slathered it on them while they were grilling as well. That worked wonderfully. We made more and poured it on steamed green beans, and then took what was left and dressed a cucumber salad with it. It was simple, versatile, forgiving, and even the kids loved it. Have fun!

For other taste sensations, here's a simple blended gazpacho, adapted from Martha Stewart:
1 cup small pieces white bread (torn from day-old rustic bread, crust removed)
1 small clove garlic, minced 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces, plus 8 very thin rounds for garnish
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped (about 1 1/2 peppers) jarred roasted red bell peppers
2 pounds tomatoes, cut into quarters 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Stir together bread, garlic, vinegar, and 3/4 cup cold water in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Process cucumber, roasted peppers, and bread mixture in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Puree half of the tomatoes in the blender, and transfer to the bowl with cucumber mixture. Puree remaining tomatoes, slowly adding oil while blender is running. Transfer to the bowl; whisk to combine. Stir in salt; season with pepper. Refrigerate, covered, until chilled, about 30 minutes. Divide gazpacho among 4 bowls. Garnish each with 2 cucumber rounds.                                                                                   

Enjoy your week and your veggies!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

week 7

Red Springs Family Farm 7/15/14

In one bag: Eggplant New Potatoes
Green Beans Yellow Crookneck Squash
In the other bag: Lettuce Tomatoes Cucumbers
Parsley Basil Garlic

Summer is picking up speed! The nice rain last night will help everything out. Lettuce has been taking a whipping in the heat lately, but everything else is doing great, especially since the weeds are (almost) under control.

Sweet corn is tassling – ears aren't filled out yet, but it all looks good. Paul is putting up the electric fence now since something came in and sampled an ear of field corn already. We'll save as much as possible for you!

The cucumber variety you're getting right now is called Shintokiwa. It's a nice smooth one. We'll have different varieties as the season progresses. Oh, and those stories about cucumbers making your skin nice and taking away wrinkles around your eyes – they're all true. If you don't just eat your cucumber this week – put them on your face.

And a word about our tomatoes.... there are more every week. Some varieties haven't even started ripening yet. You might notice that the tomatoes we send don't look like store bought tomatoes. There are funny shapes and interesting shades of pink, orange, purple and maybe red. Some never lose all their green. If you take the time to notice – their flavors and textures are diverse too. Most vegetables are like that. What makes it to the store is selected in part for its capacity to survive a long trip and rough handling. Since the food we grow rarely travels over 40 miles, every size, shape, color, and flavor is welcome in our garden, and we hope you will enjoy giving them a try in your kitchen, too. The dark orange/purples and pink tomatoes are some of our personal favorites.

Levon and I had fun digging up these new potatoes. When the soil dries up, we'll dig them all and then they will be a regular, or semi-regular, part of a basket. There are some beauties out there, and there's just nothing quite like a fresh potato.

The eggplant are still under attack. Any fruit that touches the ground (which is a lot of them) gets chewed on. There would have been at least twice as many in the harvest this week if there weren't so many chewed up. I don't know how many of you would have appreciated twice as many eggplant, but we're scrambling for some kind of deterrent or trap for the hungry beasties.

As it is, I've been trimming the chew marks off and roasting the eggplant on the grill for Baba Ghanoush. If you don't know what Baba Ghanoush is, I'm sorry. It's wonderful. Here's a hint: if you like Hummous (Middle Eastern chick-pea dip or spread), you will like Baba Ghanoush.
Here's how:
1 large eggplant 1/4 cup tahini, plus more as needed
3 garlic cloves, minced 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
1 pinch ground cumin salt, to taste
Roast eggplant in the oven or on the grill until it is soft. Peel and then, using a fork or a food processor, mash the flesh with the remaining ingredients. Adjust seasonings to taste, and garnish with feta cheese, chopped parsley, and kalamata olives.
Enjoy your week and your veggies!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

week 6

In one bag: Fresh Garlic Eggplant
Wax Beans Yellow Crookneck Squash
In the other bag: Lettuce Tomatoes!
Celery Oregano Basil

Every season is different. I'm not sure how it happened, but this year we have managed to harvest eggplant before the cucumbers come in. The cukes are really getting close (can you tell I like cucumbers? I'm picky, but I really like cucumbers.), but aren't quite there yet. We did a serious weed-a-thon around the sweet peppers and eggplant and were fairly amazed to find so many beauties ready to harvest. We were also amazed to find a lot of eggplant remnants that had been eaten by something! That's a new one, too. Lots of critters like tomatoes, and there are signs that they are eating them as well, but WOW did they chow down on some pretty purple fruit. Hopefully now that the weeds are down whoever is doing the chewing will not feel quite so free to continue. I've tried to not include any fruits with more than a toothy blemish on them.

Anyway – there's still enough to share, and probably will be next week, too. Also, the beans may turn green, and there might even be carrots along with the cukes.

The gardens are just sparkling beautiful right now. There are still a few too many weeds, but I don't think we've ever had such a lovely melon bed, and the cantaloupes are really plumping up nicely. Potatoes are dying back and will be ready to dig very soon. This is the time of year when everything just grows!

We're pleased with the summer squash crop for more than just its abundant beauty. This round of squash came from seed we saved last year, and it was quite a process. We weren't sure it was not crossed with patty pan or zucchini, which were growing nearby. Paul was diligent about taping the blossoms shut, and it paid off. Only one out of 25 plants produced “off-type” fruits. Not bad for the first try, we think. Hope you enjoy the squash. It's a challenge for me to find ways to keep my kids eating these. Veggie fritters are one favorite, and I think we may try this recipe soon:

Squash Chips
Cooking Spray (Olive or Coconut Oil kind are best)
5 medium Yellow Crookneck Squash (or other summer squash), sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon fresh oregano

Preheat oven to 200ºF. Coat 1-2 large baking sheets with cooking spray. Place squash in a single layer on baking sheet(s). Spray cooking spray to cover squash. Sprinkle salt and oregano on top.
Roast for 1 hour and then rotate trays (if more than 1 used.). Roast about 30 to 60 minutes more or until chips are crisp. Notes: Store in a zip-lock bag for up to 3 days. Reheat on a baking sheet at 250 degrees for about 10 minutes.
(We found this recipe on a nice site: www.healthy-recipes-for-kids.com )

Enjoy your veggies and keep in touch. With love from the Entwistles

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

week 5

Red Springs Family Farm 7/1/14

In one bag: Fresh Garlic Green Onions
Wax Beans Yellow Crookneck Rainbow Chard
In the other bag: Lettuce First Tomatoes!
Parsley Sorrel Basil

July already? I guess so. With all this beautiful rain, everything is growing inches every day. We're working to keep the weeds in check, and the harvest intensity is picking up speed. Personally, I'm looking forward to cucumbers (coming soon). The tomatoes are a thrill. Each one is precious right now, but soon they will be abundant.

Yellow Wax beans are the french fries of the bean world. There will be more next week.

Here's a tip for your basket this week – everything in one bag – the one with the beans and squash and chard – will be excellent cooked with butter or olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Everything in the other bag will work well in salad – of course the herbs can go either way. Even sorrel (long, bright green leaves with the strong lemony flavor) can be cooked in a quiche, but we prefer it raw. Adding sorrel and basil to a salad nearly eliminates the need for a salad dressing. Notice I said “nearly”. We DO still dress our salads, though only lightly in the summer.

Here's a simple recipe for your chard stems. This is the time of year when it becomes more difficult to just chop them up and cook them with the leaves. They are so large and a little tougher than they were in the Spring. But so beautiful. Best find a way to use them...

Chard Stem Gratin (adapted with gratitude from myrecipes.com)

1 tablespoon salt Stems from Swiss chard, trimmed of discolored ends
1 clove garlic, halved About 1 tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 cup panko or fresh white bread crumbs 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt and chard stems. Boil until stems are tender to the bite, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Rub a medium-size shallow baking dish with the cut sides of the garlic clove halves. Butter the dish and then put in the chard stems. Mix bread crumbs, Parmesan, and 1 tbsp. butter. Sprinkle mixture on stems. Cook until top is browned and crisp, about 15 minutes. Serve hot or warm.
    I know it can be challenging to actually cook in these busy times. Even though we are surrounded by great fresh food here at our house, there are times it's all I can do to crank out a salad and a pot of rice. But, it's worth it. Every time I take the time to make something that takes just a little more effort, my family is grateful, and I am fed again, not just by the quality of the meal and the grateful family, but the act of connecting myself to this food. I hope you can be fed that way too.
    We're trying to make sure these little newsletters get onto our blog. If you would like to receive them that way, just sign up on the email link. We only post once a week for the half the year, so we won't fill up your inbox. The blog can be found at: www.redspringsfamilyfarm.blogspot.com .
    Thank you for eating well! Paul, Coree, Lulah and Levon