Wednesday, July 31, 2013

CSA Harvest Week 12: Gumboots and Farm Boot Fashion

CSA Harvest Week 12: Gumboots and Farm Boot Fashion

Around the farm
It’s looking like summer in your vegetable boxes! Juicy tomatoes, tender green beans, aromatic basil, crisp cucumbers, and more!  Vegetables are all about the sun. It’s what makes everything ripen on the plants.   And we just haven’t seen much sun this summer.

Tomato hoophouse 
Rain is the downfall of tomatoes. Well, how about building a rain-proof covering over the tomatoes?  It’s like an umbrella for the tomato plants since the fruit cracks so easily in the rain.  We currently have 2 of these structures built and we are building a third structure over 3 beds of tomatoes that will produce in late August.  We call these structures “tomato hoophouses” or “tomato umbrellas.”  They are long structures that look like greenhouses, but the plastic covering does not reach the ground on the two long sides, and the structure doesn’t keep the tomatoes warm in the spring or fall.  There are no end walls on the narrow ends or doors.  We have 2 goals: keep the tomatoes out of the rain and keep the humid air circulating.  What are the benefits?  We are keeping fungus/ blight from landing on the plants and killing them.  Conventional (not organic) tomatoes are sprayed with fungicides to kill these fungal diseases.  We are preventing these tomato problems and not using the conventional fungicides.  Another added benefit…rain on the fruit usually causes the fruit to crack before it ripens. 
Marie in the cherry tomatoes

Bush Beans- This week only! These tender bean are tender and juicy.  You can eat them raw too since they’re so sweet.  We sauté them in olive oil with some garlic and onion for about 10 minutes.  Then I add a spash of lemon juice and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.  We most likely will not have these beans next week.  Our vegetable field along the creek was saturated so many times this spring and summer that the other plantings of beans did not make it.

Have you purchased rain boots yet this year?  Did you already own rain boots and you live it in them this summer?  Several years ago, a friend of ours who’s from New Zealand, commented that North Carolinians needed to stop complaining about it being wet outside and just wear gumboots to the grocery store.  Yep. Gumboots.  Great name, right? William and I each spend about 5 hours a day in rain boots, so we both own very comfortable rain boots from Muck Boot.  Shoe fashion is still important on the farm, but shoe function is even more important.  Muck Boots are very flexible and the neoprene uppers roll down if it’s too hot for tall calf high boots.  I start each morning in these boots to keep my feet dry in the heavy morning dew.  I also have a 2nd “dirty” pair to wear into mucky animal pastures.  I think I need a third pair of fashion gumboots to wear into town, since my farm pairs live a rough, dirty life!  William and I think that Bluebird Farm should be sponsored by Muck Boot! 

Here's a few ripe ones!

Farm Fresh Harvest
Tomatoes  Here’s a few tomatoes for you! We usually pick several boxes of tomatoes a day (boxes have about 36 tomatoes in them).  So far, it’s been 5-10 total tomatoes a day.  We’ve saved up some tomatoes for you.  There is also a sampling of cherry tomatoes.
Basil- Store your basil in a little glass of water on the kitchen counter.  Basil does not like to be refrigerated.  What a welcome fresh, aromatic bunch of basil.  We won’t have very much basil this year unless the weather dries out a bit.  Make sure to rinse it well before using- the rains are splashing sand on the leaves.  Chop it up and sprinkle it over your summer dishes that include peppers, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers.  The flavor is so fresh and aromatic.
Bush Beans- These tender bean are tender and juicy.  You can eat them raw too since they’re so sweet.  We sauté them in olive oil with some garlic and onion for about 10 minutes.  Then I add a spash of lemon juice and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
Bell peppers- Here’s a few more for you!  The peppers are slowly catching up. 
Beets- Beautiful Beets!
Summer squash and Zucchini- Not a very good squash year.  Guess we just get to savor and appreciate the small harvest!
Cucumbers- The plants are doing well still.  We’re working hard to make sure there aren’t any gaps between harvest of cucumbers, since the plants only produce for a few weeks.  We have to always have young plants to start producing.  Cucumbers come in all shapes and sizes.  We grow little mini cucumbers, large crisp American slicers, and delicate slender European cucumbers.
Scallions- Scallions are a spring or green onion.  Eat the white stalk and the green leaves! They add a sweet, mild onion flavor to any dish! Great raw or substitute a few scallions for a big onion in cooking.

We're growing for you! 
We can't be around to farm great food without your support.  Thanks for the continued support! 
Please consider becoming a member of the 8 week Fall CSA in October and November.   We thank everyone for being a part of the Bluebird CSA farm membership and also for your additional purchases at the farmers' market and farm!

Fall CSA Vegetable Boxes

The Fall CSA is 8 weeks long and runs from October 2nd until November 20th.  Pickup on Wednesdays in Hickory or Morganton.  Fall CSA boxes are a little bit smaller than our full season CSA boxes and  cost $120 for 8 weeks. ($15 week average)
Here's an example Fall CSA box.
1 kale bunch
1 Swiss chard bunch (or tender baby collards)
1 head of lettuce
1 bag of arugula
1 bunch radishes (or 1 bunch of herbs)
plus a few others...
Other Possible Vegetables that may be included
Hawkerai turnips
sweet potatoes
sweet bell peppers

Weather challenges are always huge obstacles for farmers. 
The Positive Side...
We'll have some beautiful tomatoes and peppers if the plants can handle the weather stress.  We currently have beautiful cucumbers. Beautiful!  Beets aren't a sexy vegetable like a tomato. They just aren't natural divas like tomatoes are.  But we have some very handsome beets.  Very sweet tasting and good-natured beets for you to enjoy

And...We've got our packets of amazing organic seeds, the organic fertilizer, and a positive outlook on beautiful fall vegetables.  More kale, Swiss chard, lettuce, radishes, Hakerai turnips, carrots, beets, arugula, and scallions.  And hopefully peppers and tomatoes will produce well all the way into the end of September.  Sweet potatoes should be making an entrance around the 3rd week of September.
Here's to fine summer farm eating! 

Fresh Gingered Beets
Adapted from The Passionate Vegetarian, 2002.

Basic Cooking Method
1.       Wash beets well. Cut off and discard root tails and all except 1 inch of stems.  Do not peel.  Cook, covered in lightly salted boiling water for 40 to 50 minutes or until just tender. Drain.  Let cool until easy to handle.
2.       Slip skins off beets under running water.  Carefully slice each beet into 1/4 inch thick slices, removing and discarding remaining stem ends.
Once the beets are sliced, you may splash them with a bit of olive oil and store for about 2 days before using or creating them into a dish.  I like to store beets in Mason jars, so they don’t stain the Tupperware.
1 bunch of beets (approx 5 large beets or 10 golf ball size beets)
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1-2 teaspoons finely diced ginger
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons water

1.       Heat 1 teaspoon each butter and oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  When the oils are sizzling hot, add the cooked beets and toss them in the hot fat. 
2.       Then add 1 to 2 teaspoons peeled very finely dice ginger.  Toss for about 30 seconds.
3.       Then add 3 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 tablespoons water.  Cook, stirring, until the water and brown sugar have bubbled into a glaze, about 30 seconds.

Grilled Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad (from From Asparagus to Zucchini: A guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce)
This great pasta salad recipe can be made with a variety of summer vegetables.  It is easy to mix and match ingredients based on seasonal availability.
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1 eggplant
4 tomatoes
4 portobello mushrooms
1 red bell pepper
Olive oil spray
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound penne, cooked, rinsed, and cooled
4 oz. mozzarella, sliced
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Approximately 1 cup vinaigrette made with balsamic vinegar

Heat/prepare an outdoor grill.  Slice zucchini, squash, and eggplant into long ½ inch thick “planks.”   Cut tomatoes in half.  Remove stems from mushrooms.  Cut pepper into quarters; discard core and seeds.  Spray veggies with light coating of oil.  Sprinkle with minced garlic; season with salt and pepper.  Grill until lightly charred and barely tender.  Chop and place in large bowl with pasta, cheese, nuts, and basil.  Toss with vinaigrette.  Season with salt and pepper.  6-8 servings.

Late Summer Bruschetta
 (from From Asparagus to Zucchini: A guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce)
2-3 large tomatoes
1 crunchy sweet pepper
1 medium sweet onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Small handful fresh basil, chopped (optional)
Crusty bread (like baguette)
Shredded mozzarella or grated parmesan (optional)
Chop the vegetables into a midsize dice.  Combine with garlic 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, and optional basil.  Slice baguette down the middle and lay the two sides cut side up.  Brush with additional 1-2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle on cheese, if using.  Broil bread for several minutes until bread or cheese browns a bit.  Top the sections (you may cut them smaller, if desired) with some of the vegetable mixture.  Makes 4 servings

Mediterranean Salsa
Fresh flavor! This is a great salsa, salad or pita stuffing.

1 medium cucumber, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced, remove as much of the spicy ribs and seeds as needed
1 bell pepper, diced
1 bunch parsley, finely diced
2/3 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup pitted kalamata olives
Juice from 1-2 fresh lemons
Combine all ingredients and toss well.  Let marinate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.

How about some green bean recipe ideas? Martha Stewart provides inspiration again…
Healthy Green Bean Recipes
Three Bean Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
If you don’t have watercress or mache on hand (and you won’t, because mache doesn’t grow here when green beans grow), you can use arugula, lettuce, or any other salad green,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.