Thursday, July 29, 2010

Weekly CSA Newsletter

Week 16

Greetings from the Garden! This week's box has cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, salad greens, golden beets, green onions, radishes, summer squash, cucumbers, purslane, peppers, parsley, and basil.

Field Notes. Monday Ken pulled the garlic, shallots, and storage onions. That leaves the red onion to do. He got them into the yard, and we placed them on covered shelves to cure. The garlic looks beautiful. The onions are smaller this year, but small onions tend to keep better. There is some disappointing news: The Walla Walla sweet onions did not bulb up. I have called the seed company, and they are checking it out. One year we had bottle onions when we ordered leeks. Maybe onion seed is difficult to keep straight.

From the Kitchen. Cucumbers are a member of the cucurbit family like squash. I usually make cucumber salads by running a fork along the length of a cuke to make lines in the slices and break up the skin. Then I slice and salt for about a half hour. Rinse or not depending on how much salt was added. Then I use one of many dressings: yogurt, honey, pepper, and a little vinegar OR tamari/soy sauce, mild vinegar, honey, crushed red pepper, OR a simple olive oil and vinegar.

Ken has been making carrot juice from the number two carrots with a beet for sweetness. Adding cucumber to juice combinations is is refreshing. This summer I want to experiment with making a condiment with cucumber, mint and yogurt we had with curry in an Indian restaurant.

Golen beets are a real treat. Even though the seed costs more and germination is lower than other beet seed, we grow golden beets every year. They are sweeter, less earthy, and don't bleed pink. We like them in combinations for this reason. Beets and their greens are great sources of calcium, iron, vitamins A and C and the carotenes. I usually treat the greens like chard or any wilting green - great in egg dishes, soup, stir fry. Some people use them in salads with blue or goat cheese and walnuts and pecans.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Beans Available

We have beans available for freezing or pickling. We always like some dilly beans and beans from the freezer in winter.

To freeze beans, just snap off the ends, rinse, Cut to length if desired, blanch three to four minutes (they will turn bright green), chill with cold water or ice water, and freeze. Please call or email us if you are interested in buying beans.

Tomato Report

The tomatoes are coming. Tomatoes and the other members of the solanaceae family like peppers, eggplant, potatoes, tomatillos and ground cherries thrive in hot weather. Those wonderful cool nights mean later tomatoes. But they are coming - they are starting to turn from grass green to reds, yellow, etc. We will keep you posted

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Big Pig Rodeo

Early Tuesday morning Ken and I moved the eight pigs to their new larger spot at the bottom of the hill on the way to the field. Each year Ken starts the pigs on soft soil so they can dig. Then we move them to a digging project. They tilled up the old strawberries in the garden and cleared brush north of the garden. Now they are in an area we plan to turn into a third growing space, so we have more rotation options than the garden and field.

The move went smoothly and Ken has give the pigs a wallow for cooling off when it is hot. And they like it. Pigs don't sweat like people, so a cool mud bath is just the thing.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


In Europe since the fifteenth century purslane has been eaten as a salad herb and during the middle ages it was considered a medicinal herb for fevers and inflammation. When the plant was mixed with honey it was used for coughs and shortness of breath.

Purslane arrives in the garden once we have some hot and humid weather. It flourishes in loamy garden soil.

We toss purslane in salads and pasta salad and add to soups as its high vitamin C gives it a great lemon like zest. It is also is high in beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, omega 3, and alpha linolenic acid. Enjoy!

Basil Available

We have basil! And if you want to make pesto, contact us to buy some basil. Pesto is Italian for paste. People place basil and olive oil with optional salt, pepper and garlic in a food processor and blend to a paste. We freeze basil pesto in freezer jam jars with a thin layer of olive oil on top to preserve color and flavor. Many people freeze pesto in ice cube trays, and pop out the frozen pesto cubes into a bag for use in sauces and soups.

Ken makes various pestos and pesto combinations for a burst of green in winter - dill or cilantro are great on fish. Basil usually goes with pasta of tomatoes. Shiso is great in Asian cooking. And when Ken combines herbs, it makes for a great guessing game! Name that herb or herbs.

Weekly CSA Newsletter

Greetings form the Garden! This week's box has lettuce, chard, mizuna, Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage, radishes, green onions, carrots, broccoli, turnips, basil and mint.

Field Notes. We got 1 1/2 inches of rain in a very short period of time on Sunday. It started just as the folks on the farm tour were sampling snacks from the garden. We moved indoors before it began to pour. It was great to get rain again. The pattern this summer = once the rain began last month - has been for us to get rain before we desperately need it. That's great! If this continues, maybe lake levels and the water table will recover from the last four dry years.

The garden and field have some empty spots as crops come out and new ones go in. All season Ken plants greens every seven to ten days, so we usually have greens in various stages of growth. Ken has also been planting green manures this season as the rains have come. The past four years we mulched as soon as the soil was warm to conserve soil moisture. Ken's planting of green manures between crop rows add organic matter and nutrients to the soil and prevent soil erosion. With the rains they are looking good.

From the Kitchen. This week we have basil. Basil can be used for more than tomato sauces. We chop and add basil to pasta salads, rice dishes, salad dressing, and even grilled cheese sandwiches. Basil's fresh flavor tells us summer is here

Turnips are so underrated! The roots have vitamin C, potassium, and calcium. The greens are even more nutritious with vitamins A, B complex, C, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. After the farm tour I served raw turnips - great for dips - and thinly sliced and salted turnips. The salt changes the flavor of the chlorophyll and sweetens the turnip and maintains vitamin C which is lowered when vegetables are cooked. Turnips are great in medleys with carrots and other vegetables boiled and served with a bit of butter and salt and pepper. Cooked turnips are also good with a bit of cream. When we have a good turnip crop , I often blanch and freeze some turnips for zip to chase away those winter blahs.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Farm Tour 2010

Today was the farm tour at Keppers. We started in the garden and moved to the surrounding area - talking compost at the various piles and viewing the former strawberry area that has been tilled by pigs.

Then we toured the two larger flower beds where the daylilies and hollyhocks are in bloom.

Next people donned long sleeved shirts and hats to head out to the field to check crop progress

Upon return we enjoyed snacks from the garden - Asian Chinese cabbage salad, kale and carrots with pumpkin seed and umeboshi dressing, salted kohlrabi and turnips, turnip greens with two dressings - curry and a balsamic vinegar and walnuts, and many varieties of Ken's pickles.

The rain drove us indoors to finish our snack. We got an inch and a half in a short time period.

Thanks to those who came and participated.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Weekly CSA Newsletter

July 7 & 8, 2010 - Week 13

Greetings from the Garden! This week we have the following in the box: lettuce, Chinese cabbage, mizuna, radishes, green onions, garlic scapes, shell peas, carrots, broccoli,the first summer squash and green peppers, and shiso.

Field Notes. We are so glad to get more rain; the plants look great - and the weeds are growing, too. The top 1 inch of soil is like a seed bank, and in it are weed seeds. One of the reasons Ken gets out early and often to cultivate small weeds that are more easily killed, and so it doesn't disturb more weeds in the soil.

Ken has been hauling manure. This year we have a huge compost pile with llama, sheep, and horse manure with straw bedding and leaves. For Ken, compost is like money in the bank. As we grow and harvest vegetables, we are mining the soil and we need to put back those nutrients that we harvest off in the vegetables people eat. Compost is a major portion of what Ken adds back to the soil. He also adds minerals so the plants can take up minerals and make vitamins.

From the Kitchen. We have two wonderful Asian vegetables this week - a tall michillini type Chinese cabbage - great for braising or soup or stir fry, or tasty in salad. Mizuna is a mild Japanese mustard often found in baby mixes. Some people add mizuna to salads for a little zip. I usually saute an onion and wilt the mizuna then add dressing or we add mizuna to soup or stir fry just before serving. Add some shiso and you will amaze your family and friends with your authentic Asian cooking! For more shiso recipes, check the last blog entry.

Also this week we have shell peas - the traditional English pea that is shelled for the little round peas inside. And since I hate throwing anything out, I boil down the shelled pods for soup stock.

Farm Tour is Sunday, July 11th at 2 p.m. Please RSVP so I know how much food for snacks to prepare.

Til next week,
Ken and Judith

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Shiso Revisited

Here are more ideas for shiso, an Asian herb found in nearly all Japanese cooking.
We grow it as it has a fresh green flavor and is a great accent with any Asian dish. We use it wherever we use any of the following - tamari or soy sauce, miso, or rice.

Shiso is wonderful sliced in ribbons and added to a stir fry just before serving.

I add shiso to miso soup in the morning.

Shiso is great in an Asian dressing with sesame seeds, sesame butter (tahini) or any nut butter, a bit of honey and mild vinegar, salt and pepper or hot pepper - great on a Chinese cabbage and green onion salad.

In Japan people dry shiso and add shiso flakes to freshly cooked rice. I also add chopped shiso to rice.

And for an east meets west taste treat make a pesto with shiso and onions for pasta like you would basil. Ken made a great shiso and dill pesto last night for pasta.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Update on pigs

We have gotten several requests for more pig photos, so here they are. Ken expanded their area again yesterday, so they were busy digging. When I went to pick eggs in the evening, I brought along the camera.

These pigs had been digging most of the day - did not hear Ken approach with midday feed. And they were still digging when I came through about 7:30 p.m.

Not only were they digging deep, they were moving soil, too.

But as time went on, they began to yawn and get tired before my eyes.

First one pig lay down.

Then a another -

And then there were four sleeping pigs -

But mostly pigs like to dig and eat.
Curly tails usually mean the pigs are happy and content.