Monday, September 26, 2011

CSA Newsletter

Greetings form the Garden! This week's box has lettuce, salad and braising greens, mustard, tatsoi, bok choy, celery, tomatoes, onions, winter squash, cucumbers, apples, and grapes.

Field Notes. As the trees turn color, and the mornings are cooler, I think of Ken harvesting roots and me root cellaring. Ken is juggling putting up the mobile high tunnel and harvesting. He reports that this is the first week the volume of tomatoes has dropped. And he has been picking apples and grapes. He assesses which to pick based on keeping ability. We grow several types of apples, and summer apples do not keep. Later season, firm textured apples like Haralsons are the best keepers. This has been one of our best years for fruit - remarkable really.

Sunday a friend came out and helped Ken start laying the track for the mobile high tunnel. Once that is set he will start constructing the arches and components that then will be lifted into place and secured together. Like farming, building is a process. And also like farming, the care taken on the base whether it is the soil or the track is time well spent. No one wants to grow vegetables in poor, weedy soil, and no one put a building on a tipsy foundation! Our photo this week is of the heavy equipment that leveled the new field and dug an irrigation pond.

From the kitchen. Ken has been bringing in squash that has cracked or lost its stem or may be unripe. On these cool mornings it feels good to light the oven. I wash the squash, cut a jack - o - lantern top, scoop the seeds, replace the top and bake. The next meal I place some butter in a skillet and reheat the squash in the butter. Then Ken made some squash soup with sauteed onions, celery, and peppers. He put the squash in the blender with soup stock and added to the sauteed vegetables.

I have been using the cutting lettuce 50/50 with other lettuces and using a creamy garlicky dressing. It is also nice cooked - braised or grilled. Mustard is good in salad, but I prefer it braised or added to soups. Tatsoi is one of the most versatile greens we grow. Its dark green leaves and white stems add nice color contrast to a salad, and it is a bright, beautiful addition to soups or stir fry. Bok choy is great in a stir fry with onions, and either carrots or tomatoes for color. Traditionally bok choy was used in chop suey. I prefer it cooked, but many people eat it raw as well.

I dry the celery leaves and use them in winter soups and stews. And ken has been adding celery to breakfast soups. Cream of celery soup is nice served cold or hot. Saute and onion and some celery with any herbs you like - we like thyme and savory. Run through a blender with stock. Return to pan, heat, add salt and pepper to taste, and add cream, milk, or yogurt just before serving.

This week's apples are a russeted variety with good firm texture and nice flavor. We have been eating them raw as snacks and we often quarter core, and stew with apple or combinations of apple and grape or apple and raspberry juice, a cinnamon stick and a couple allspice berries for breakfast.

Monday, September 19, 2011

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden! This week's box has watermelon, grapes, tomatoes, cucumbers, salad greens, braising greens, bok choy, mizuna, celery, onions, thyme, parsley, and winter squash.

Field Notes. Frost last week means certain plants are done, but frost mellows kale and other greens. The push is on now as days shorten and the weather cools down to move into fall crops like squash and roots.

This week is a historic one here at Keppers. The heavy equipment operator arrived Monday to pull stumps and level the field for the mobile high tunnel. Once he wraps up, we will split our focus between harvest and building the mobile high tunnel. If you want to be involved in building a mobile high tunnel, send us an email or call us. We can use help, and it promises to be an interesting project. We are so excited about the possibilities this structure presents for extended season vegetables. Here is a "before" photo of the future site.

From the Kitchen. Ah winter squash - Ken pulled a couple that had cracks, and baked them - such a sweet taste of fall. We rinse, set on the counter, cut a "Jack - o - Lantern" like cap, scoop the seeds, replace the cap, and bake. I usually serve with a bit or butter and salt and pepper. Left overs can be steamed or made into squash soup.

Ken has been cooking down tomatoes so we have juice and stewed tomatoes. I have been adding the tomatoes to sauteed onions or leeks, herbs, and pasta or rice topped with some grated cheese for suppers as a side dish. Ken heats the juice for a morning warm up.

It is Asian week. Mizuna and tatsoi are mild mustard that are good in salad, braises, added at the last to soups, and just anywhere you want some green. Bok choy is not just for stir fry. It is great in a morning or evening soup as a warm up on these cooler days. I add it to clear broths or miso soups - first the stalks for about a minute and then the greens just before serving.

Celery is another flexible vegetable. I usually dry the leaves by setting them in a dry spot out of the sunlight. I use them like a herb in winter stews and soups.

Our grapes and watermelons have seeds. We have found older and hardier varieties that do well in our climate have seeds, but also the flavor is better, and the seeds are actually healthy to eat! Enjoy!

Monday, September 12, 2011

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden! This week's box has tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, leeks, carrots, celery, greens - lettuce, cutting lettuce, mustard and mizuna, grapes, melons, and basil.

Field Notes. There is frost on the horizon. If not this week it could be up to a month away. Frost signals the end of some crops - basil and summer squash are the first to go, and the beginning of others. We will be digging potatoes and sweet potatoes and harvesting winter squash.

Work continues on the preparation for the mobile high tunnel. This weekend a young, muscular friend, Clifton came out and helped with brush and wood splitting, buzzing and stacking. This week the man with heavy equipment comes and start to set a level plane. Then Ken will begin work on putting down the track.
The sooner we can get the greenhouse up and running, the sooner the soil can start warming up! Progress!

From the Kitchen. With cooler nights I am using lots of basil - it won't take frost, so that will be the end for the season. Last night we had sauteed leeks, tomatoes, and LOTS of basil on pasta. I have also made more tomato salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, minced garlic and Lots of basil for a pot luck picnic.

Enjoy the summer squash, too, as that will die with frost. A friend is buying our surplus and grating it and freezing it for future zucchini bread.

With the cool nights, the greens are bouncing back, and the mustards are beautiful! I tend to saute a leek or onion, add the greens to wilt and dress with interesting vinegars. I am also getting back to morning soups as the temps drop over night.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Incubator Works

Although we had some turkeys hatch out eggs this spring, they kept losing babies - lack of parental experience? We did not see any indication of predators - the dogs weren't barking...

So we decided to dust off the incubator and try it. We were between flushes of egg laying, so it was a small experiment. Just as I was losing hope, I went downstairs this morning and voila - turkey babies.

Now they have a box with light and water and feed. We will see how they do -

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Caught Purple Handed

OOOH! I was amazed when I came into the house.

Ken's hands were PURPLE!!!
Yes, he was making red cabbage kraut.

The trees, they are a - changing

Today as I walked out to the field, I noticed through the woods that the trees are starting to change color.

And through the sunlight it was just beautiful!

Ken gets a Haircut

Ken has not gotten around to getting a haircut for quite a while. But a friend came over with all her hair cutting equipment and took care of the problem.

We have the before ...

...and the after.

Thank you, Joy!

Monday, September 5, 2011

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden! This week we have salad and braising greens, endive, carrots, kohlrabi, Asian eggplant, corn, green cabbage, watermelon, leeks, tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers, and grapes.

Field Notes. Ken has been transplanting fall crops. Much of our spare time and energy has been in clearing the space for the mobile high tunnel. As I see people they ask if Ken has the green house up yet. Ken is a focused and diligent worker, but there are many steps to clearing the space and building. We are nearly done taking down trees, chipping the brush, and cutting and splitting the wood. Next we have a man with heavy equipment come to establish a flat plane for the track. We will keep you posted as this exciting project unfolds.

Although I love these cool nights for sleeping, I am saddened that they signal summer is waning. The days are getting shorter, and the push is on. We are assessing what we will have to go into the root cellar. This year two dependable crops did not do well with our extreme humid heat and heavy rainfall. We have never seen rust on the celery root foliage before. The rutabagas, a brassica did not do as well as usual either. So Ken is looking at more work to provide more greens this winter. We will know more as we dig them out.

From the kitchen. Now that it is cooler Ken makes his famous upside down pizza. He takes a shallow pan and drizzles olive oil and herbs. Then he layers summer vegetables like eggplant, summer squash, tomatoes, leeks and covers with a biscuit dough and bakes in a hot oven until the biscuit dough is done. Then he cuts wedges and flips as he serves. We top with grated cheese. A friend mixes cheese into the biscuit dough, but we haven't tried this yet, but it sounds good.

Ken made a couple batches of soup last week and we had them on cool mornings for breakfast. He takes various vegetables, cooks them in stock and purees for a cream soup. Last week he had some carrots, kohlrabi, leeks - it was great!

I have been making Spanish rice. I saute leeks, add peppers if I have them, and softer tomatoes. Summer squash added near the end would be good, too . Just before serving I add herbs and top with grated cheese. Turn off the heat and cover. Once the cheese melts I serve.

Sunday night we had a friend over and Ken grilled. He soaked some ears of corn and roasted those. We cut peppers and zucchini and eggplant lengthwise and marinated and grilled those and a new recipe. Cut the cores from a few tomatoes. Fill with chopped basil, minced garlic, and olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar. Set on the grill with the core side up. Cook so the bottom is soft and the top is warm, but firm - delicious!

We grow Asian eggplant as it is more tender and does not need to be peeled or salted. Eggplant is the only vegetable I know that always should be cooked. This is the time of year we also make ratatouille, a French stew of sauteed leeks, eggplant and tomatoes that is often served on rice.