Friday, July 31, 2015

Ken pulled the Garlic Today

Today Ken pulled the garlic - and he has set it down to dry.

Garlic is planted in fall, weeded, mulched, uncovered in spring, weeded 

Many steps required in growing garlic and now that Ken has pulled it, he will let it dry

Then he puts it on racks.  I sort it and set side the cloves needed to plant for next year

Summer Flowers - Daylilies and More

We are entering on of my favorite seasons - Hemorcallis  or day lily season!  These hardy, cheerful flowers appear in several colors.  I have acquired several - this peachy one from a friend named Ardys

This yellow was also from Ardys.

And one I purchased called prairie blue eyes

And this smaller pink

and finally this gorgeous red

The tiger lilies are also blooming

And Ken's medicinal milk thistle plant.

So much to see and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Farm Tour Recipes

Last Sunday was the annual Farm Tour.  It was a marvelous summer day, and a great group came, toured and asked questions.  We have had requests for the recipes.  Here we go!

Carrot, Onion and Kale salad.  Dressing: Toast 1 c sunflower or pumpkin seeds in a heavy skillet.  Place in blender or food processor with 1 c stock and umeboshi paste or plums without pits.  Puree and set aside.  Rinse vegetables. Slice carrots, onions and remove kale stems and slice or tear into pieces.  Steam or boil in order:  carrots, 4 min, onions 2 min.  Turn off stove and turn kale into the mixture until it turns bright green - about a minute.  Note carrot and onion cooking time varies with size of pieces.  Shoot for an al dente texture.  Drain cooking water for stock and rinse vegetables in cold water to stop cooking and cool.  Drain and even squeeze.  Add dressing and chill.

Tomato and basil salad.  Make dressing in the serving bowl: balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper and thinly sliced sweet summer onions and ribbons of basil leaves.  Cut tomatoes of various colors and textures into wedges.  Carefully turn into the dressing.  Let marinate at room temperature.  Serve with a slotted spoon.

Beets with mustard dressing.  Rinse and cook some beet roots.  Once tender rinse in cold water and slip the skins.  Chill.  Cut into chunks so they are a comfortable bite size.  Dressing: olive oil, lemon juice or mild vinegar, prepared Dijon mustard, salt and pepper and some chopped parsley or dill or arugula (for people who want HEAT add horseradish).  Combine and chill.

Cucumbers with Asian dressing.  Run fork tines length wise down cucumbers or use a vegetable peeler and alternately slice and leave peel lengthwise.  Slice and turn in some salt.  Set aside for at least a half hour. Drain off liquid (if salt is a problem, rinse) and add to dressing.  Dressing: sesame oil, a bit of toasted sesame oil, lemon juice or a mild vinegar like mirin, a bit of honey, a small amount of tamari or miso, toasted sesame seeds and black pepper or powdered cayenne or hot pepper.

Dry cooked green beans.  Rinse beans and snap stem ends, cut into 2" pieces - 4 cups.  Mince 1T garlic and 1 T finely grated ginger root.  In  a heavy cast iron skillet, heat 1T fat or oil that takes heat - sesame, sunflower or peanut.  Before it smokes, add beans, stir and cook until they change color and start to wrinkle - about 4 - 5 min.  Add garlic and ginger.  Cook an additional minute.  Add black pepper and salt or tamari to taste.

Applesauce.  We use yellow transparent apples - a soft,sweet apple that makes a velvety, flavorful applesauce.  If you want pink applesauce add an early red apple - I often use a couple chestnut crab apples.  Rinse, cut out blossom ends, stems, and quarter and remove seeds(leaving core is fine).  Place in large pan add some water to the bottom to avoid scorching and cook a few minutes to soft stage, Run through a food mill.  Add a minimum of organic cane sugar and a pinch or two of cinnamon.  If you are canning place in sterilized jars and place in a hot water bath for 10 min.

Annual Farm Tour

Each year we host a farm tour.  We invite friends and members of our CSA and personal produce service to visit and see the farm, hear about our history, current and future projects, and then enjoy a snack of food from the farm.  Everyone enjoys connecting food to farm and learning exactly how their food is grown.

This year we scheduled the tour later in the season.  Although plants are not so young, perky, and cute as the season progresses, there is more to see - garlic ready to pull, cukes and tomatoes and beans on the plants, etc We also discovered that more people could attend at this time - and what a nice group of people this year!

Ken started in the garden so we can incorporate any folks who arrive late.  I usually run out and snap a few pictures.  Then I head back into the kitchen with head count and finish snack preparations.  This year I had help, and I am grateful!

We also received photos via face book and email from other people. It was wonderful to see our farm as they saw it.  Thank you for sharing them.  To see them check out the Keppers Pottery page on face book.

Thank you to all who came and shared our farm with us

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Harvest Newsletter

Asparagus now
Greetings from the Garden!  This week's CSA box has beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, Walla Walla sweet onions, celery, basil, potatoes, beet thins, arugula, cabbage, carrots, radishes, and the last snap peas

Tour from prior year
Field Notes  This coming Sunday the 26th from 2 - 4 is the annual garden tour.  Admission is $5 and includes tour or garden and field and a snack from the garden.  Ken has been spiffing up the place in preparation

We got several bales of hay that another farmer could not feed livestock, but will work just fine for mulch and compost.  Ken moved the bulk of the hay - I went over with him a couple times to load up so it would go faster.  Ken is also excited as he got some llama manure last season and likes to mix a high percentage of plant material like hay, straw or leaves with the manure, and now he has plenty of plant material.

I feel ambivalence when we reach the pea season - I love peas, but it is hot and time to move on to beans that do best in heat.  As my dad would say, it has been a good run - all teh cool nights meant a longer pea season this year.

From the Kitchen  It has been a good cucumber year, and  Ken has been making pickles. He packs a gallon jar and this season used garlic scapes and some dill seed heads.  Then he makes a brine and weighs down the cucumbers so they stay below the liquid.  After a few days they are ready to go in the cooler.
I have been making cucumber salad.  I run a fork down the cucumber, slice and salt and set aside.  Then after a half hour I drain and then add dressing - either a yogurt, vinegar, honey and chopped onion or an Asian dressing with sesame oil, tamari, mild vinegar and some honey, and top with toasted sesame seeds.

Each year when I cook with Walla Walla sweet onions for the first time, Ken asks if I added sugar to the food.  These juicy sweet onions are a summer treat - not keepers.  I am always glad to see their arrival for raw salads like cucumbers or cole slaw.

Beans!  I steam and top with butter, salt and pepper.  For a change I steam and add a combination of sesame oil and umuboshi vinegar.  Umeboshi is a Japanese pickled plum that combines salty , sweet and sour flavors.

Brushing Oscar while Big Red watches
We are taking a harvest off next week so see you in two weeks.  If you need vegetables, please visit us on the farm.  Hope to see you at the Farm Tour, Judith

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ken's cactus is blooming!

Ken's sister gave him a cactus a few years ago.  

For the second time it has bloomed!  Both times it sends out two knobs that grow into "antennae."  

Then the flowers open.

They are exquisite, fragile and short lived - but oh so beautiful!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Harvest Newsletter

Onions in the field
Greetings from the Garden!  This week's CSA box has Romaine, cucumbers, potatoes, carrots or beets, green onions, bok choy, celery, cabbage - green or red, snap peas, beans, and the first tomatoes.

Field Notes.  Ken has had a new project pop up.  A neighbor farmer had some baled hay that got rained upon out in the field.  She couldn't use it for animal feed, but Ken can use it in several projects - mulching, composting, poultry bedding, etc.  So he made several trips to pick up hay.  I went along after hours - about half the time.   Ken has stacked it in various locations where he expects to use it.

Ken in the garlic
As summer progresses we look at the weather and have a wish list - we would wish for some nice dry weather as Ken will be harvesting garlic and onions soon.  If we have relatively dry weather the crops will cure and keep better than if we have wet weather.  Next week Ken will start harvesting the Walla Walla sweet onions with green tops.

We have cool nights and the tomatoes are starting to ripen.  The jalapeno peppers have begun.  The crops that love heat like cucumbers are producing and so it feels like summer!

From the Kitchen.  The cucumbers are "going great gonzos" as Ken would say.  He has made pickles and he made a refreshing drink of equal parts water and cucumbers run through the juicer with additions of fresh squeezed lime and lemon juice and mint leaves.  It looks beautiful in the two quart jar and is cooling in the heat - Thank you, Ken!

We were invited to friend's house for dinner.  She served a great pasta dish.  She cooked up some bacon (the original recipe called for prosciutto) and added chopped cabbage to wilt and grated cheese - It was delicious!  I have done broccoli but never cabbage - and this summer cabbage was sweet and tasty.  You could add the green onions or any other vegetables as you wish

'Til next Week, Judith

Monday, July 13, 2015

The first tomatoes

They are starting to arrive - the first tomatoes.  Everyone waits each year for the first of each crop - especially tomatoes and sweet corn.  Both like heat.  Ken remembers picking the first tomatoes around July 4th in the past when it has been hot early in the season.  Well, whenever they appear we are all happy to see them!

The Scents of Summer

Many people think of cut grass or mown hay as the way summer smells.  For others it is something cooking on an out door grill.  For me summer is a series - first there is valerian, then the milkweed, and right now it is the basswood or lindens north of our house.  

They have a slightly citrus scent.  And Ken has been chopping tall grass so there is that aroma in the mix


 Currently bears are doing well in close proximity to people - there are bird feeders and garbage cans and such.  Many sows have more cubs.  Often we see a yearling in spring that has been pushed from the den and is looking for a home.  We do our best to discourage them from moving close to our farm.  Ken and I put feed in coops at night and make sure pigs eat what they are given each day.

Oscar, our working dog, takes the night shift and barks and makes it an undesirable place to stay.  For a few nights last week Ken has gotten up to join Oscar in discouraging them.  Ken found these prints and told me about them.  This appears to be a sow with a cub.  Ken thinks the cub is climbing a tree when Oscar barks and the sow is circling.  It seems they have decided to keep moving.  We hope they find somewhere else to live!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This week's CSA box contains salad and braising greens, kale or cabbage, broccoli, carrots, basil, cucumbers, snap peas, green onions,  garlic scapes, and new potatoes.

Field Notes.  Ken has been busy as a beaver.  In addition to the usual planting and cultivating, he adds summer tasks of tying up tomatoes and cucumbers weekly,  picking some crops every other day like cucumbers and zucchini, along with  once a season jobs like mulching.  It is good he has long days to get all this done!  Actually he enjoys it and the crops look good, so it is quite satisfying.

I have added picking duties. The third crop of strawberries has crested.  I looked back and the strawberries started May 17th and with three different varieties that has meant a month and a half of strawberries.  Now the snap peas are producing in full force.  Next will be shell peas and green beans.  It is an exciting time of year as the food choices increase so dramatically.

From the Kitchen.  One day I added up the fruits and vegetables Ken and I ate that day - seven!  I had a couple of curved cukes.  Here is one of our favorite ways to prepare cucumbers.   After rinsing the cucumber run a fork lengthwise along the cuke to make grooves - it not only looks nice, it cuts the skin to smaller, more digestible pieces.  Slice and place in a bowl with salt for about a half hour.  Drain the liquid and save for stock or add to something you would add salt - sauces and gravies for example.  Then add to a bowl of a creamy dressing.  I use a bit of vinegar, pepper, sliced green onion tops, and any of the following: yogurt, cream, kefir.  Add herbs if you like - dill or parsley.  Voila!

It is also snap pea season!  Snap peas are an edible pod pea; just snap the little "cap" at the stem end and pull down toward the blossom end to remove any "strings."  I would also use the above dressing. for cooked snap peas.  I also like to combine peas with carrots The carrots take about 8 - 10 minutes to cook and snap peas take about 3 - 4 so I add them after the carrot slices have cooked about 4 minutes.

'Til Next Week, Judith and Ken

Friday, July 3, 2015

Midsummer on the Farm

The days are long, 

Ken works long hours, and all plants and weeds are growing!

The garden and field are mulched

Ken plants more crops

The sunflowers are already high

The garlic looks good

The corn is taller than knee high on the 4th of July

Ken succeeded in getting many crops earlier than usual - this year we have peas, potatoes, carrots and cabbage on July 4th

and Ken is happy