Tuesday, July 16, 2013

We haven't washed away...yet!

CSA Week 10: Still here, haven't washed away..yet!
We're growing for you! 
Trying to keep the weeds at bay.
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!

Box Fullness
Remember, your weekly vegetable boxes are based on a season average of either $20 or $25 per week for Small and Large vegetable shares, respectively.  Some weeks may be a bit less full than others.  This week’s boxes are quite full, but next week’s boxes may be under the average size. 
Tomatoes are coming soon!  The plants look great and are loaded with fruit- it’s just still green.  They are late due to cold weather back in May and the lack of sunshine.
 We can't be around to farm without your support.  Thanks for the continued support! Please consider becoming a member of the 8 week Fall CSA in October and November. See an overview below.

Fall CSA Vegetable Boxes
Become a Member

Look for an official Fall CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) email and signup link in the next few days.  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
Look for a CSA signup email in the next few days.

Farm news
We had a scare with Friday night’s storm.  The pounding rain came down as loud as hail and totaled 3 inches in 2 hours.  I was sure the fruit laden peppers were snapped in half.  They are not snapped, but they are bent sideways a few inches from the ground.  We’re pretty sure they will survive with a few setbacks.

Weather challenges are always huge obstacles for farmers. 
Garden and pasture
What is more disheartening than weather challenges  is to have losses from weather, harvest what you have left in the fields, and then not sell the harvested vegetables at the Farmers' Market.  That’s why you, our CSA members are so important to us! We know you are there for us! We’re growing for you!
We haven't had any severe damages with the flooding and wet weather (no floating cars or animals or completely wiped out plants), but many plants have been struggling and not producing well  (lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, squash, eggplant, potatoes, basil)  That's because it's been cool and the field has been flooded or saturated with water.  (roots don't like to drown.)

This is for all you out there that have wanted to know the details..We don't want to sound negative, but here's a bit of the damage in the vegetable field.  The water table is at the surface of the field for the 7th?(stopped counting) time.  This means there are small ponds and standing water in many places.  The squash blossoms have rotted on the plants. The bell peppers plants are alive but toppled over almost to the ground.  Some potatoes have rotted in the ground.  The weeds are ferocious and grow 3 inches a week.  Some beans plants and cucumbers plants are rotting at the base of their stems.  The pigs are happy "as a pig in mud," but we are keeping them moving around the farm into new paddocks so they don't make mud bricks!

baby cucumbers

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.

baby squash

baby dill

baby scallions

baby lettuce

beets, in the "wild"

Sweet potato jungle

edamame beans!

So green for July!

Here's to fine summer farm eating! 
Farm Fresh Harvest
(Garlic correction from last week…there was no garlic last week)
Bell peppers- Here’s a few more for you!  The peppers are slowly catching up.  Potatoes- King Harry. A white fleshed, all-round boiling, roasting, au gratin potato with a pleasant flavor.  These taters have been dried/cured for a short while in the barn, so they will keep for a medium length…2-4 weeks. Store them in the fridge.  You won’t get any potatoes next week.  This variety does well in the South; it’s resistant to Colorado Potato Beetle- a major pest.  
Beets- Beautiful Beets! This is our best crop of beets ever. Beets can be a love ‘em or hate ‘em crop.  You should love ‘em.  Their earthy flavor has sweet notes to it.  Try the Gingered Beets recipe.  Try my Orange Marinated Beet Salad recipe below.  It’s tasty!
Carrots- Mmmm. These tasty garden carrots are the last ones! We’ve harvested them all!
Summer squash and Zucchini- We are still waiting on a younger planting of squash and zucchini to come into production.  Enjoy the moderate amount of fruit- once the plants start producing they go all out!
Cucumbers- The smell of summer! They are really cranking out some tasty fruit. It is a beautiful patch of plants.  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.

Cool as a cucumbers: 10 Fresh Recipes for Summer
     -from www.Thekitchn.com

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.

Orange-Beet Salad
From Better Homes and Gardens annual Recipes 2001
Marie’s notes: I used olive oil instead of walnut oil and plain chevre instead of feta cheese. I also omitted the orange peel (the peel of conventional citrus have a high concentration of pesticides) and used 1 extra tablespoon of orange juice.
Tip: Roll the plain goat chevre or feta cheese in a black pepper and thyme mixture (coat the cheese in herbs)  to keep the red juice of the beets from staining the cheese.  I let the beets marinate overnight in the dressing, drained the beets, and then topped the beets with the walnuts and cheese on the dinner plates.   It was delicious!

3 medium beets (about 9 oz)
3 Tbsp. walnut oil or salad oil
1 tsp. shredded orange peel
2 Tbsp. orange juice
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar or white vinegar
2 Tbsp. broken walnuts toasted
3 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese
¼ coarsely ground pepper
  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.
  3. Meanwhile, for dressing, in a screw-top jar combine walnut oil or salad oil, orange peel, orange juice, and vinegar.  Cover and shake well.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl gently toss the beet slices with the dressing. Cover, and chill to marinade for 2 to 24 hours. 
  5. To serve, let mixture come to room temperature. Gently stir walnuts into beets. Sprinkle with feta cheese and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Roasted Carrot Stick Snack
Best when served hot out of the oven, these healthful substitutes for French fries are loaded with vitamin A.
6 medium carrots (1 lb.)
2 to 3 tsp olive oil
2 Tbsp. snipped fresh or dried dillweed or basil
Coarse sea salt or salt

1. Preheat oven to 475F.  Peel carrots.  Cut carrots into strips about 3 inches long and ½ inch wide.
2.  In a large bowl combine olive oil and snipped dillweed or basil.  Add carrots; toss to coat.
3.  In a 15x10x1 inch baking pan spread carrots in a single layer.  Roast, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until carrots are just tender, stirring once.  Sprinkle with coarse salt.  Makes 6 side dish or snack servings. 

Cucumber yogurt salad
            Wash cucumbers well.  Finely slice, dice, or grate cucumber.  Mix with plain yogurt (greek style yogurts are particularly good for this recipe).  Add as much yogurt as you prefer.  This salad can range from being almost purely cucumbers with a yogurt dressing to a bowl of yogurt with some cucumbers in it.  Salt to taste. 

Add fresh flavor. Try adding dill, crushed garlic, diced spring onion, parsley, or another of your favorite herbs. 

Creamy Cucumber Soup
From EatingWell:  May/June 2007
There's no reason to only use cucumbers raw—they are wonderful sautéed then pureed with avocado for a silken-textured soup that's good warm or cold.
4 servings, about 1 cup each Active Time: 35 minutes | Total Time: 35 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 cups peeled, seeded and thinly sliced cucumbers, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 1 to 4 minutes. Add lemon juice and cook for 1 minute. Add 3 3/4 cups cucumber slices, broth, salt, pepper and cayenne; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook at a gentle simmer until the cucumbers are soft, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Transfer the soup to a blender. Add avocado and parsley; blend on low speed until smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Pour into a serving bowl and stir in yogurt. Chop the remaining 1/4 cup cucumber slices. Serve the soup warm or refrigerate and serve it chilled. Just before serving, garnish with the chopped cucumber and more chopped parsley, if desired.
Per serving : 173 Calories; 12 g Fat; 2 g Sat; 8 g Mono; 2 mg Cholesterol; 15 g Carbohydrates; 4 g Protein; 5 g Fiber; 494 mg Sodium; 544 mg Potassium
1 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 2 fat
Tips & Notes
  • Make Ahead Tip: Refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Cold Cucumber Soup
  • 3  medium seedless cucumbers, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4  cup(s) thinly sliced green onions
  • 1  tablespoon(s) lemon juice
  • 1  teaspoon(s) lemon zest
  • 1  teaspoon(s) sea salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon(s) freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) vegetable broth
  • 1/2  cup(s) sour cream
  1. Place cucumbers, green onions, lemon juice, lemon zest, sea salt, pepper, and vegetable broth in a blender or food processor and puree.
  2. Stir in sour cream and chill until very cold, about 1 hour.
  3. Serve topped with additional chopped cucumber, green onion, and lemon zest.

We're growing for you! 

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