Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Week 19 9-21-2011

Week 19

It’s hard to believe that there are only two more weeks of CSA boxes! September just flew by! Wednesday September 28th will be the last week. After that, you can find us with more fresh fall vegetables at the season’s last Morganton Farmers’ Market on Saturday October 1st. From then on, we’ll have vegetables, chicken, eggs, and pork at Farmer Fridays at the Catawba Valley Brewing Company on Friday afternoons from 4-6:00 pm. We will continue to have vegetables like lettuce, Swiss chard, lettuce mix, kale, and radishes as the cooler weather continues.

Short Days

As the days shorten we can practically see the plants’ growth slow. Lettuce, arugula, and radishes that would have practically exploded form the ground in May are now slowly growing. A whole week after germination and the seedlings still only have their first set of leaves. Shorter days mean we can start work later and end a little earlier. But there is still plenty to do harvesting, cleaning up, and seeding cover crops. That means we have to run around faster while we do work to make sure we get it all done. The changing of the seasons does make us think of cooler days with a resting farm. Until then you can still find us out in the field.

Sweet Potato Harvest

Today we harvested sweet potatoes. We thought we were just looking for the colorful roots of sweet potatoes. But the harvest turned into an insect and spider safari. Sweet potatoes form a dense canopy of vines providing a great habitat for all kinds of critters. One of the more exciting finds of the day was a small salamander hiding in the debris on the soil surface. A gross find was a whole section of garden bed filled with large white grubs. We collected them as we dug through the soil and fed them to the layer hens-they loved them! We also found more of our arch-nemeses the squash bugs. They had headed into the cover of the sweet potatoes to begin bedding down for winter. In the cooler weather they are slow movers and we could easily squish them! Another exciting find in the jungle were hoards of young wolf spiders. Wolf spiders are the large brown spiders that move very quickly along the ground. They are great generalist predators to have in the garden. The whole surface of the soil had hundreds of little spiders (their bodies were only the size of a pencil led with legs extending out to the diameter of a dime.

Some of the insects we found were pests, but many of them like the spiders are beneficial creatures. Amphibians like toads and salamanders that we find in the garden also play helpful roles eating insects. This entire micro-ecosystem would not be possible with the extensive use of poisons for weeds or insects. Organic practices allow beneficial insects and animals to thrive because there is a diverse base of prey species. When they live in a good balance together problems are kept to a minimum while the whole farm ecosystem thrives.

In your box:

Sweet Potatoes: Not just for sweet potato casserole! These tasty jewels are great baked, boiled, or incorporated with black beans and perhaps chorizo sausage for a tasty main dish. See several amazing recipes at end of newsletter. This week we will be distributing a variety called Ginseng. Like many fruits and vegetables the grand variety of sweet potatoes has been reduced to only a few commercially available. As usual these varieties are selected for transport and storage ability, not necessarily flavor.

Sweet Potato Jungle with harvested potatoes in background

Another note on the sweet potatoes: we are mostly used to cured sweet potatoes. This means they have been dried out a little bit to increase storage capability. It is a widespread practice necessary to store the sweet potatoes through the winter. The curing slightly changes the texture and flavor of the sweet potatoes. These will cook a little differently than usual partly because they are fresh out of the ground.

Red sweet peppers: Small but packed with ripe flavor. I like to think of all of those antioxidants in the ripe red peppers.

Swiss Chard: Lightly steam or sauté and serve with the yummy Brazilian stew recipe below.

Lettuce: A early nibble of head lettuce. Think back 6 weeks ago…That’s when we planted these babies- as early as we could with the oppressing heat.

Arugula: perhaps only enough for large shares? We are going to harvest and see how much there is. I just can’t get enough of arugula and a sweet white vinegar.

Radish: Tiny baby radishes

Garlic: The last of the garlic. We hope you enjoyed your exploration of the other garlics of the world beyond the supermarket.

Sweet Italian Basil: Don’t forget to freeze some whole leaves of basil. Pull the frozen leaves out and crumble into winter’s soups.

Baby Lettuce





Thyme-Roasted Sweet Potatoes Epicurious | November 2005

by Kathryn Matthews

This slightly spicy, moist side dish is both deeply satisfying and nutritious. Sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber, giving them a low glycemic index (this means that they slow the body's absorption of sugar and help regulate blood-sugar levels). A bonus for weight watchers: All those complex carbs will make you feel fuller longer than white potatoes do.

Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings


4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch-thick rounds
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup fresh thyme leaves, plus 6 thyme sprigs for garnish

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes


Preheat oven to 450°F. In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and toss. Arrange potato slices in single layer on heavyweight rimmed baking sheet or in 13x9-inch baking dish. Place on top rack of oven and roast until tender and slightly browned, about 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with thyme sprigs.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/printerfriendly/Thyme-Roasted-Sweet-Potatoes-233085#ixzz1YXEB87Eb


New York Times

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad With Black Beans and Chili Dressing

Time: 45 minutes

4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 large onion, preferably red, chopped

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh hot chili, like jalapeño

1 clove garlic, peeled

Juice of 2 limes

2 cups cooked black beans, drained (canned are fine)

1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro.

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put sweet potatoes and onions on a large baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, toss to coat and spread out in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning occasionally, until potatoes begin to brown on corners and are just tender inside, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven; keep on pan until ready to mix with dressing.

2. Put chilies in a blender or mini food processor along with garlic, lime juice, remaining olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Process until blended.

3. Put warm vegetables in a large bowl with beans and bell pepper; toss with dressing and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to a day.

Yield: 4 servings.

· Copyright 2011 The New York Times Company


Vegetarian Times - Great Food, Good Health, Smart Living


Brazilian Black Bean Stew

Vegetarian Times Issue: February 1, 2000 p.34 — Member Rating: 111

Here's a quick vegetarian version of the Brazilian national dish known as feijoada. This stew entices the eye with the colorful contrast of black beans and sweet potatoes and pleases the palate with nourishing ingredients.


Ingredient List

6 servings

  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (1 to 1 1/4 lbs.), peeled and diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small hot green chili pepper, or more to taste, minced
  • 2 (16-oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 ripe mango, pitted, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp. salt


Meal plan:

1. Steam some Swiss chard while the stew is simmering and serve with warmed flour tortillas.
In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook, stirring, until onion is golden, about 3 minutes.

2. Stir in sweet potatoes, bell pepper, tomatoes (with liquid), chili and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender but still firm, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Stir in beans and simmer gently, uncovered, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in mango and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Stir in cilantro and salt. Serve hot.

Nutritional Information

Per serving: Calories: 326, Protein: 16g, Total fat: 4g, Saturated fat: g, Carbs: 61g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 211mg, Fiber: 17g, Sugars: g


Brazilian Black Bean Stew

recipe image



Submitted By: CRVGRL

Photo By: cebledsoe

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 30 Minutes

Ready In: 45 Minutes

Servings: 6

"Sweet potatoes, mango, black beans, and cilantro are featured in this flavorful stew from South America."


1 tablespoon canola oil

1/4 pound chorizo sausage, chopped

1/3 pound cooked ham, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 (1 pound) sweet potatoes, peeled and


1 large red bell pepper, diced

2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with


1 small hot green chile pepper, diced

1 1/2 cups water

2 (16 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed

and drained

1 mango - peeled, seeded and diced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 teaspoon salt



Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, and cook the chorizo and ham 2 to 3 minutes. Place the onion in the pot, and cook until tender. Stir in garlic, and cook until tender, then mix in the sweet potatoes, bell pepper, tomatoes with juice, chile pepper, and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender.


Stir the beans into the pot, and cook uncovered until heated through. Mix in the mango and cilantro, and season with salt.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2011 Allrecipes.com

Printed from Allrecipes.com 9/20/2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Week 18 9-14-2011

*A note for on farm pick up: some of your produce will be in your box in the fridge, other portions will be on the table in front of the fridge with signs indicating how much of an item you receive that day. Please always remember to check both your box and the table.*

*Remember you can always see old newsletter and their recipes as well as photos of the farm at our csa blog http://bluebirdfarmcsa.blogspot.com For general farm news you can see our regular blog BluebirdFarmNC.blogspot.com*

Week 18 box

Green Beans-probably a last taste for the season

Edamame-another week of delicious snacks


Swiss Chard

Sweet Peppers

Arugula-we had an interesting twist on the regular goat cheese and roasted nut arugula salad this week. We added roasted vegetables to the mix. We roasted small chunks of potatoes, onions, and beets coated in olive oil and spices at 350 for about 45 minutes or until tender. We then warm (not hot) roasted veggies over a bed of arugula and topped with goat cheese, nuts, and balsamic vinegar-a meal in a salad!

Basil- eat all you can of this delicious taste of summer-it won’t last much longer!

In the last two weeks look forward to:

Sweet Potatoes

Baby head lettuce

Red Russian Kale

CSA Farm Day and Farm Open House!

We would like to invite you all out to a CSA farm day this Friday September 16th 4-7 pm at Bluebird Farm. It is a chance for you to come out and see where all the delicious food comes from. We will be leading several tours of the garden and animals through the afternoon. There will also be a great kid’s area for digging!

If you can’t make it this Friday, come out next Friday September 23rd 4-7 pm for a farm open house.

It is also time to start thinking about ordering a family pork pack or half hog. We have several sizes available. The pork packs are a great way to buy in bulk for the winter season when we won’t be at farms markets. For complete information on our family pork packs and half hog pricing see the pork page on our website www.bluebirdfarmnc.com (You will be able to find us at Catawba Valley Brewery at least until Thanksgiving, you can also always call and arrange to come to the farm in the winter to pick up food).

Special on farm pricing on all of our pork will be available both days.

Cleaning Edamame

One of the defining activities of the last week was preparing the Edamame for bundling and distribution. Edemame is very easy to grow. It sprouts right up and turns into a bean filled jungle in no time at all. It is also easy to harvest, we simply snip the base of the plants’ stalks and carry them into the barn. Preparing the stalks is another story- hours of snipping leaves, cutting to rough lengths and taming unruly stalks into bundles. Of course, the rest of the farm doesn’t slow down, so we end up enjoying late night and early morning radio programs we prefer not to listen to on a regular basis while we work on the edamame. At least with this farm job we could enjoy a beer and work at the same time!

The insect assassins clean up summer garden beds

One of the reasons our summer squash and cucumber harvest met an early demise this fall was an over abundance of squash bugs and cucumber beetles. After killing off the late summer crops both of these insects will over winter in brush and debris around a garden ready to emerge again in the spring with their voracious appetites. Before they got a chance to go hide (at least we hope we caught them early enough) we went through the demolished squash patch turning over brush and shaking dead plants until they fell off. Then we ruthlessly hunted them down as the scurried for cover. We hope we got most of them! After taking care of the insect problem we put down our weapons of destruction and prepared the beds for late fall greens, hoeing out weeds and raking them smooth. The former jungle of summer now lays neatly tamed ready for sowing and transplants.

Your Farmers William and Marie

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Week 16 box

Tomatoes-The tomato harvest is winding down. But in the meantime we are still enjoying their fruits

Cherry Tomatoes- for a time it looked like they would never stop, but they too are slowing with the late summer season

Sweet Peppers- We grilled peppers and onions with our boneless ham pieces on kebabs last night-delicious! Marie has been carefully selecting peppers to leave on the plants and ripen to a red pepper. Hopefully after about 10-14 days, we may get some red peppers. Ripening peppers is very tricky when there is heavy fungus pressure from the weather.

Squash-large shares only-the final planting of squash suffered from a severe squash bug and cucumber beetle infestation. They have not produced well.

Cucumbers- Cool, crisp and delicious as a snack, in a salad, or in a sandwich. The cucumbers too are slowing down in the garden.

Bush Green Beans-The green beans love this weather and are flowering and producing profuse quantities of tender bush beans. We used green beans in a gumbo with our spicy andouille sausage, tomatoes, and peppers.


Basil- Try a basil marinade on your next vegetable or meat dish. Puree 1 bunch of basil leaves, 1 teaspoons dried thyme, olive oil, salt, and garlic in a food processor. Mix over large pieces of raw vegetables to make great veggie kabobs. The basil marinade is also great on chicken and fish.

Farm news

Despite our best efforts to slow time it is now Thursday morning instead of Tuesday evening when we are supposed to send out the newsletter. Oops! But everyone remembered to come out and get their boxes-enjoy!

Weighing chickens (and pigs) and training pigs.

Our meat chickens are very sensitive to the weather. In hot weather they spend most of the afternoon resting in the shade instead of exploring the pasture and eating. So they grow much more slowly in the heat than mild weather. With the cooler weather and more afternoon shade our current chickens have been growing a little faster. But we are not sure if they will be large enough at 9 weeks of age (next week) or if they need to grow 10 weeks (September 14th) like the summer chickens. One way we can try to tell is to weigh them at age 8 weeks. So we head out tot the pasture with a scale and box. We set those up on a flat spot then catch a chicken! They aren’t too excited about getting scooped up. They are freedom chickens!

An even funnier sight was me (William) trying to weigh our piglets. We were trying to see how much they had grown since we purchased them. They don’t fit in a box on our small scale. So I brought a bathroom scale to the pasture. I weighed myself, then I had to grab the little squealing, thrashing piglets and weigh again. The scale is the kind you have to tap with your toe then wait for it to zero out. So I am holding a 50ish pound thrashing piglet while I try to reach out with the toe of my boot to tap the scale. Then once it zeros I have to try to balance on the scale and somehow look around the piglet at the numbers. Most of the time I moved too much and the scale read error. So I had to try the whole this over again.

A more fun piglet job is training them to an electric fence. Once they grow large enough we set up a double electric line and have supervised training sessions. At first the little piglets don’t really understand what the fence is. When they get shocked they run all the way back to their old, un-electrified fence. Once they figure it out though they are so excited to munch their way through our patch of millet and cowpeas cover crop.

Some business

Thank you for all the returned boxes and egg cartons. We can also reuse the cherry tomato pints as long as they are clean and uncracked.

CSA Open House, Friday September 16th 4-7 pm

Come out to the farm and tour the garden and pastures! Talk to the farmers (and the animals.) Let your kids dig and get dirty in a special kid area of the garden and enjoy petting layer hens and feeding pigs.

We’ll also have a special deal on pork, Pork Family Packs, and ½ hogs available at the CSA Open House (and the following week at the Farm Day.)

We encourage everyone to visit the farm and see your community farm! This is an opportunity for a full tour of the gardens and pasture with your farmers. See how we raise animals on pasture and organic vegetables at Bluebird Farm and hear about our sustainable farm management .

Farm Day, Friday September 23rd 4-7pm

Farm Day is open to CSA members and the public. If you missed the CSA Open House, you can come on out to Bluebird Farm on September 23rd. Come out to the farm and tour the garden and pastures! Talk to the farmers (and the animals.) Let your kids dig and get dirty in a special kid area of the garden and enjoy petting layer hens and feeding pigs.

We’ll also have a special deal on pork, Pork Family Packs, and ½ hogs available at the Farm Day.

We encourage everyone to visit the farm and see your community farm! This is an opportunity for a full tour of the gardens and pasture with your farmers. See how we raise animals on pasture and organic vegetables at Bluebird Farm and hear about our sustainable farm management .