Tuesday, July 17, 2012

This week’s box:
Tomatoes-The tomato harvest has begun!  Try all the different colors and sizes, each one is a different variety
Cherry Tomatoes-Some of the most flavorful tomatoes are the little ones
Green Peppers-We are thrilled with this year’s pepper harvest so far.  We hope their strong growth continues and we have colored peppers later in the season
Cucumbers-There have been a lot of cucumbers lately.  But the heat is slowing them down.  We may have a lull in the harvest in the next week or two-so keep enjoying!
Squash/zucchini-See the note on cucumbers.  When the plants are happy the produce, when they are sad-no more fruit.
Green Beans- Another great harvest from the first planting of beans.  Like the cucumbers and squash there may be a break coming up before the next round is ready.
Basil-Nothing says summer like fresh basil in…..everything!  Try with in scrambled eggs, on a fresh tomato salad, make your own pasta sauce, or use with some garlic for pesto, the possibilities are endless.  Try a BBT-Bacon, basil, tomato sandwich.

Thoughts on tomatoes and Eating the bounty:
Tomatoes, they are the queen of the summer vegetables.  There is simply no substitute for a juicy tomato straight from the vine, so red its purple, meaty like no store tomato can hope to be, and full of flavor.  We sure are glad they are so good, otherwise they might not be worth it.  Tomatoes are also the divas of the vegetable field and they are vocal in their complaints.  Subpar soil nutrients, too much water, too little water, or some insects will all dramatically reduce yields.  Each season we learn a little more about the tomato’s specific needs.  This year we experienced some early blossom end rot.  Several of our first harvests we nothing but several buckets of ruined tomatoes all half rotted (the pigs enjoyed them though!).  One of the main techniques we use to help ensure a harvest is to grow many different varieties.  This year we are growing about 25 different types.  One or two have not really recovered from their early problems.  But most of them, we are happy to report, have been doing well.    Enjoy the tomatoes!
Sometimes in the summer we look at the heap of produce on the kitchen counter and wonder what we will do with all of it.  It can seem almost a daunting task to consume the food.  But don’t despair, I bet you can eat more of it than you first imagine. 
Some ideas for eating all the veggies:
-Eat them all the time-Every time it’s a meal or snack time-first look to the vegetables.  Right now there are tomatoes on our fried eggs.  Then fresh, raw green beans provide a crisp tasty snack.  If we make sandwiches they have pepper, tomato, and cucumber on them (my personal rule is that if the sandwich is easy to hold and eat there aren’t enough veggies in it!). 
-Summer salads all the time-Salads don’t have to have lettice.  One of our favorite dishes in the summer is a very simple tomato and cucumber salad.  Simply dice them up, add some vinegar, olive oil, and salt and eat with everything as a side. 
-Zucchinis-Then there are zucchinis.  What to do with all of them.  They are good sautéed with an onion on medium heat.   Then add green peppers, garlic, tomatoes, and basil and voila you have tomato sauce.  Or start out the same way onions, zucchinis, peppers, garlic, then add some black beans and now you have excellent burrito filling.  Or maybe start the same, but add soy sauce and serve with rice for Asian flavors.  In each case some pork or beef adds a nice body to the meal.
            We are now working with Jace, the landowner where our main vegetable field is, to raise some grass based and organically fed beef.  We have helped to create a beef raising protocol with him to create healthy, lean, and tasty beef.  The meat we have available now is 100% grass fed.  Many cattle are raised on pasture, but finished out (grown to full size) using corn.  The addition of corn drastically alters the fat profile of the meat creating a more unhealthy mix of omega-3s and omega-6 fatty acids.  100% grass creates the healthiest balance available in meat (except fish). 
            Right now the heat has greatly reduced the quality of the grass.  So the animals we have grazing can’t get their full nutrition requirements for optimal growth.  We have worked with our certified organic feed supplier to create a ration that is low in corn and 100% certified organic, so no GMOs or chemicals in the feed.  These animals are still always grazing on fresh grass, moving frequently, to ensure that the grain is a minimal part of their diet. 
            Right now we have Beef available at the farm during pick-up for $5.75/lb.  Look for emails soon about larger family packs and ¼ animals available this fall. 

Your farmers,
William and Marie

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