Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fall Greens Identification

The cool weather and rain has meant we have a beautiful crop of fall greens. 
Here is a photo of some we harvested last week:  clockwise from the top we have teen brassicas, mizuna, tatsoi, green mustard and in the center red mustard.  In cool weather all these greens are mild enough for salad or they can be braised or wilted or added to soups just before serving.

Tatsoi is a mild green often found in baby salad mixes.  We like to grow it out to 3/4 size.  It is consistently mild.

Mizuna is a member of the brassica family as well.  It has a slight mustard flavor, but in cool weather it is not hot or spicy.
We grow both green and red mustard.  Mustards like radishes reflect the weather during the time it has grown.  In cool weather the flavor is mild.  In hot weather it is hotter and spicy - a zippy zesty addition to salads or tame it down by braising or wilting it.

I like to add it to salads.  When it has been grown during hot weather I like to roll it like so

and then cut it into sliced ribbons as a colorful and zippy addition.

The members of the brassica family are also know as the cruciferous vegetables as their first leaves grow in a cross formation.  They are nutritious and often cited in literature as cancer prevention food.  We just think they are green, nutritious, and delicious.  Add some to your diet - they are worth it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This CSA box has lettuce, salad and braising greens, red and teen green cabbage, kohlrabi, tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, carrots, radishes, apples, and sweet potatoes

Field Notes.  We are monitoring greenhouses this time of year.  If it is cloudy, they are cool, and when there is sun they warm up quickly.  With shorter days and more of an angle to the sun, they need to be closed up earlier.  We have had a slight nip of frost, and expect frost in either of two conditions: 1) a cool cloudy day that clears late in the day with no wind or often right around a full moon.  The full moon signals the end of some tender crops, but also the cool weather sweetens several crops - squash for example.

Cuke vines to pigs
Since we go year around, we still have many tasks.  Ken is still planting and he has started fall clean up and is assessing best conditions for digging the fall roots.  

Crop from prior season
From the Kitchen.  Sweet potatoes!  These are a real treat - and a nutritional power house!  They are great baked or boiled.  We do not cure them, but use them as we dig them. Ken also makes scalloped sweet potatoes and also sweet potato pie.  Enjoy!

Fall greens are so good - the texture, color and flavor are so beautiful and delicious.  I have been using all of them in salads as the flavor is mild, but they are also great braised as well.
'Til Next Week, Judith

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Kitten's New Spot

Once Big Red out grew the egg carton, he moved to a bus tub with newspaper.  Then even the bus tub became a bit small.  So I introduced him to the outdoor cat house and sunroof.

There is a sheepskin lined box set inside a cooler on the south side of the old kiln shed.  On top of the box are several old blankets that are a cozy space to sit and soak up the sun's rays and look out the window.

He seems to like both the blankets

and the view


Fall Foliage

This time of year I try to take time out from the push to get things done before the weather turns cold, and enjoy the change of view.  I am amazed at people looking for "peak color" and driving around to look at leaves.  In Vermont my parents used to call these folk "foliageurs."

I am fortunate.  I live in a place where each day I see small changes.  First there is just a hint of color among the fading green leaves.

Then more leaves change and there is a beautiful mix of color.  This is my favorite...

...when there is still some green to contrast with the color.

And I enjoy cloudy days as that is when the color pops.

Soon leaves will start falling in earnest, and for me this is a beautiful thing as there is a carpet of crunchy leaves and the woods open us for winter.

Getting Ready for the Change in Season

We had just a slight nip of frost last week!.  that afternoon Ken got in his houseplants that go outside for teh summer.  and I brought in the wood rack

and cleared off the cook stove.  The next morning I lit our first fire for the season.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  The CSA box this week has salad and braising greens, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, golden beets, peppers, leeks or onions,  radishes, beans and apples

Field Notes.  Last week we did see some tender plants nipped by frost  - a preview of what is to come.  Ken continues to harvest tomatoes and peppers, but is in the process of clearing the mobile high tunnel so we move it to a new location over some of the fall greens.  This should extend our greens season without setting up hoopettes in the garden. 

Ken's plan is to renovate the garden this winter - he has already fenced in certain areas for the pigs to dig, and he wants to have the egg mobile in position so the chickens have access to the garden.  Years ago we wintered the chickens in the garden, and they cleaned up many bugs and weed seeds.  With the flexibility of the mobile high tunnel, Ken wants to give the garden a rest.  

We are also clearing space and getting ready for those post frost tasks. I have been picking a great crop of dry beans, for example. There is a nip in the air, and we are looking at what will need to be harvested right after frost like squash and sweet potatoes, and what we will harvest after that, but before freeze up.

From the Kitchen.   This week we have fresh, beautiful greens from a late season planting.  Most are small, tender and sweet enough for salad, but the young brassicas like the kohlrabi greens are also great wilted or braised.

Golden beets are a real treat.  They are sweeter than red beets, and the flavor is lighter and less earthy.  And they don't bleed.  The tops are similar to chard - great braised or in a baked egg dish like quiche.

Enjoy the tomatoes as the end is coming!  The advantage of having some crops in greenhouses is not only having an early, but also a later harvest.  As I eat these late tomatoes I think ahead to next June when I will be answering that eternal question - how soon will we have tomatoes!  Once it gets cool, Ken and I really like to slice smaller tomatoes lengthwise and set the cut side down on the warm grill to cook the cut side and warm the rest.  It is a great blend of caramelized sweetness and uncooked, but warm tomato flavor as you eat them.  'Til Next Week, Judith

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This CSA box has tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, baby salad greens, golden beets, beans, red peppers, and corn.

Field Notes Welcome to September!  We have not only had shorter days, but also some cooler nights.  This preview of what is coming sets most plants into high gear - their goal is to set seed.  And the sun has dried out the wet soil so Ken can keep working - weeding, cultivating and planting.

The heat loving plants have crested their wave and if you plan on doing any preservation, now is the time to request extra to can or freeze or pickle.  Cool crops like rutabagas are taking off!  Once we have frost we will be harvesting winter squash and starting the big dig for the root cellar.  Yes, fall is a busy and satisfying time of year.

From the Kitchen.  With cool nights both Ken and I have returned to using the oven.  Ken has made apple pie a couple times, and I have been baking meats and vegetables.  Roasted beets are great!  These golden beets have beautiful tops for braising and the roots are sweeter and will not turn the dish you prepare pink.  We only grow one crop of these as the seed is more expensive, the germination rate is lower, they grow more slowly, the size is generally smaller, but the flavor is great.  Enjoy!

This is also a great time to make Ken's upside down pizza.  He starts with a pie plate, adds some olive oil, layers vegetables like summer squash, peppers, onions and tomatoes and tops with biscuit dough and bakes at 400 degrees until the top is browned.  Just before serving he flips it and often adds some grated cheese.  A friend adds cheese to the biscuit dough.  It is easy, tasty and satisfying to eat a warm supper as the temperature drops!

'Til Next Week, Judith

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This week's CSA box has lettuce, baby salad greens, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, green and /or Walla Walla sweet onions, parsley and basil and sweet corn.

Field Notes.  The garden and fields are lush and productive this time of year.  All of Ken's prior work comes to fruition.  We  have canned tomatoes, I have made jam, and we will continue to can and freeze food for later use.  Now is the time to consider making that batch of salsa or tomato sauce to save the flavor of the summer.  We balance our time harvesting and preserving and as the days shorten we feel like the ant, not the grasshopper.

Ken has been vigilant about weeds this season - this late rain has meant a whole new crop of weeds.  Each season presents its challenges.  The cool nights have meant heat loving crops are later - the corn for example.  And the dry weather meant some stress on the fall crops even with irrigation.  

Here we are at Labor Day, and change of season is apparent.  Shorter days, fewer hours of heat, and the plants are pushing to set fruit and seed.  Each year I wonder if I am up for this and each year the next crop and thought of having it from the root cellar pushes me onward.  Soon the leaves will change and we will be digging and root cellaring. 

From the Kitchen  Oh, ripe red bell peppers!  I have been waiting for them.  I add them to so many dishes - almost as many as onions. Ripe peppers are sweeter, mellower and have a more developed flavor.  They are high in vitamin C.  I like to add them to salads, and also to sauces for meat.  I like to saute an onion, add red pepper and wilt greens and top with vinegar or dressing.  They are great paired with tomatoes and basil.  Here is a Ken concoction with eggs, sliced pepper rings and parsley.  Enjoy!

Sweet corn is always worth the wait.  We grow an old variety with deep white kernels.  We believe a longer season corn has a more developed corn flavor.  We often steam and top with butter, or for a change Ken uses umeboshi paste to top corn.  Ken also likes to soak the unhusked ears in water and grill; it is delicious!

'Til Next Week, Judith

Monday, September 1, 2014

Kitten is Growing Up

Big Red has found a new cozy spot! 

Ken left a bus tub with newspapers in it for the next time he would harvest cucumbers.

And someone decided it is a cozy spot with a good vantage point

And a nearby spot for the food dish

The kitten is happy to be near the sprouter as the sprouting grain attracts rodents.

Ken has already seen him with a mouse - go Big Red!

Chicks Arrive

We ordered some chicks.  And they arrived Friday.  

I had problems this spring with my incubator thermostat and Ken's broody hens did not hatch out what we needed.

Here they are.  Soon they will be outside in the brooder coop.

Labor Day and the Pigs Become Hogs

Funny.  These small, lively agile piglets arrive in spring.  They dig, eat and romp.  As they get bigger they become "the pigs."

But then, sometime around Labor Day and 200 pounds, they become hogs. 

 Hog is not bad; it is big.

They still run (especially when startled or when there is a feed bucket approaching) and romp and play, but they are large and imposing animals that have come into their own and demand respect