Late Fall CSA Box 2011

Cannot bear to think of what you are going to do when your vegetable boxes end? Fret no longer…

We are offering a late fall CSA! These boxes will be perfect for those of you who love root crops such as carrots, beets, turnips, celeriac, parsnips and potatoes! It will also include winter greens: kale, collards, chard, bok choy, and cabbage. Winter squash, leeks, and onions will be included in these boxes as well, along with a bag of salad mix every week!

We will be able to offer 2 pickup sites on Saturdays only:

1) Portland Saturday Market
2) the GTF Farm
We may be able to add another pickup location in Corvallis if someone has a nice sheltered garage or space by their house that they could offer.
It will run for 4 weeks, from November 19th-December 10th, $100 for 4 weeks.

CSA 2011 – Week 15: ‘Ode to the Johns’

Most of you are all aware of Farmer John, Sally, Rodrigo, Joelene, Frank, and all of the other characters that float around the farm daily. I wonder, however, how many CSA members are familiar with the Johns, meaning John Petillo and Jon Boro. These guys have a huge role in keeping the farm running, or shall I say, farm trucks running. These guys fix trucks on a daily basis. In fact, it wasn’t until this year that we even started tracking the repair jobs and since May there have been over 200. Most of these repairs are on trucks or tractors, although you would be surprised at the number of restorations that the Johns are responsible for all over the farm. For example, they have been known fix ovens, stoves, cash registers, CSA scales, building repairs, electrical appliances, anything with a motor, weed eaters, welding on market racks, computers, and much more. John P is a long time friend of Farmer John’s, and he tends to pop in almost every day. Jon B has been working here at the farm for a few years now. Together the Johns make quite a dynamic duo; needless to say we are lucky to have them here.

Mark your calendars for our CSA potluck October 16th!
3-5pm, pumpkin picking, 5-7pm potluck! We have a limited supply of pumpkins this year so if people could RSVP with the number of children coming so that we can try to assure that each child will receive a pumpkin that would be great! You can RSVP by e-mail or phone.

Acorn Squash Purée
1 acorn squash
2 eggs
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Cut the squash in half, remove seeds and set cut side down in a buttered glass baking pan with about 1/2 inch of water. Bake at 350 degrees until tender, about 1 hour. When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out into a food processor and blend until smooth. Add eggs and nutmeg and season to taste. Transfer purée to an ovenproof serving dish. Melt the butter and pour over purée. Sprinkle on pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

What’s in the Box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (Rose Gold)- Steam, roast, fry, mash, you can do just about anything!

Carrots, bunched – Shred them on salad, sauté in butter with salt, or eat plain.

2 onions (white)– Add to any sauté, or eat raw sliced thin on sandwiches, or add to a slaw or potato salad.

Cantaloupe– Eat just like it is!

1 acorn squash– Roast in halves or chunks with salt, pepper, olive oil and/or butter. You can use the acorn squash purée in place of pumpkin for pies, bread and more! (see recipe)

1 bunch of spinach– Sauté quickly in butter or olive oil with salt. Try using garlic and white wine.

2 colored peppers, 1 lipstick pepper— Grill, roast, or just eat raw, they are sweet.

1 shallot– Caramelize, or eat raw. They are wonderful!

Chinese cabbage– make slaw, steam in chunks or add to soup or stew. (see recipe)

Green Leaf lettuce– Make a salad, or add to sandwiches, make lettuce wraps.

Tomatoes (approximately 2 lbs)- Chop raw on salad, or sandwiches.

Stuffed Cabbage
1 Chinese cabbage, outer 12 or so leaves
2 lbs ground meat, sausage, tempeh, or tofu
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 onion or shallot, chopped finely
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 bunch cilantro
Salt and pepper
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons arrowroot or corn starch mixed with 2 tablespoons cool water (optional)
*Add any vegetables into this recipe for some variations.*

Remove several leaves from the outside of the cabbage and set aside.
Bring 4 quarts of water or so to boil. Blanch the leaves in the water for
about a minute or two, or until the cabbage leaves are malleable. Level out the leaves by cutting some of the thicker stalk part off or slicing it sideways. Anything cut off can be used in the stuffing. In a large skillet, cook the ground meat or tempeh until done to your liking. Add the onions, chopped trimmed cabbage, rice, sesame oil, ginger, soy sauce, chili flakes, and cilantro. Season to taste. Place a spoonful of stuffing in each cabbage leaf, fold in sides and roll up. Arrange in several layers in a ovenproof casserole dish and cover with stock. Bring to a boil and transfer to the oven. Bake at 300 degrees for about an hour. You can serve the rolls just like this, or you could remove the cabbage rolls from the dish, platter them, and place in the oven to keep warm. Bring the remaining stock to a boil and add the arrowroot/water mixture little by little to thicken. Ladle sauce onto cabbage rolls as you serve, or whenever desired.

Chinese cabbage soup
2-3 cups finely chopped cabbage
2 cups finely chopped carrots
1 onion, or shallot chopped
1 cup celery chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
6-8 cups water or stock
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat olive oil up in a large pot. Add onions, garlic, carrots, and celery. Sauté on medium heat for about 5-10 minutes or until cooked halfway through. Add a pinch of salt while cooking. Add a splash of white wine and let it simmer for a minute. Add the stock or water and bring to a boil. Once the vegetables are cooked, add the cabbage and turn the burner off. Salt to taste and serve. Variation: Add 1 cup of finely chopped potato in with the onions. Or try putting chopped pieces of bacon in when you add the onions. Other veggies or seasonings can go great in this soup as well. For a spice, add a pinch of red chili flakes.

Also, if anyone has not been receiving the newsletters in their e-mail and wants to, please let me know by e-mailing me at: csa@gatheringtogetherfarm.com. I’ll get you on the list.

CSA 2011 – Week 14: Hybrid vs. Open Pollinated vs. Heirloom seeds

Many of you have been receiving some of our specialty ‘heirloom’ tomatoes each week. They seem to come in all sorts of crazy shapes and colors. Along with these some of you also get some of our big beef tomatoes as well. The big beefs are fairly uniform in color and shape and the plants have a high yield. What is the main difference between these two types of tomatoes? The seeds. The heirloom tomato seeds are old varieties from which the seeds have been saved. On the other hand, big beef tomato seeds are a hybrid variety of seed. This means that the seed was produced by the mating of two “parents” in the same species.

So, one would purposefully cross a high-producing tomato plant with one that is disease resistant in order to create a tomato that would be both high producing and disease resistant. Nowadays, from a legal standpoint, the pollination of hybrid must be controlled and the parents must be known. Hybrid crops seem great from one angle: more tomatoes, disease resistance – what could be better? However, one fallback is that the seeds saved from hybrids do not stay true to their type. So, if you tried to save seeds from a big beef tomato, the seeds may not germinate, and if they do, they may not produce fruit. If they do produce, they may not be ‘big beefs’. On top of that, hybrid seeds are generally more expensive than open pollinated or heirloom seeds.

Now, a little bit about open pollinated seeds. ‘Heirloom seeds’ is just a name for old varieties of open pollinated seeds. Open pollinated seeds are ones that are true to their type in the way that you can save their seeds, replant them and they will produce the same plant that you saved the seeds from. Some species of plants are self pollinating (beans, peas, tomatoes, and lettuce), so these do not have to be isolated by types in order to keep from crossing. On the other hand, species such as beets, brassicas, carrots, corn, and squash are cross-pollinating species, and they need to be isolated in order to keep the resulting seeds true to their parent plant.

We grow a combination of hybrid and open pollinated vegetables here at GTF. I think that there is something very valuable about being able to save seed from your own crops. But at the same time there is something very valuable about a plant that will readily produce and be vigorous. I guess you can find both qualities in some hybrid and open pollinated varieties of vegetables. I think that it’s safe to say that both seem to have their place in the vegetable farming world today.

What’s in the Box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (Rose Gold)- Steam, roast, fry, mash, you can do just about anything!

Carrots, bunched – Shred them on salad, sauté in butter with salt, or eat plain.

2 onions (1 white, 1 yellow)– Add to any sauté, or eat raw sliced thin on sandwiches, or add to a slaw or potato salad.

Charantais melon– Eat just like it is!

Lemongrass– Use it as a seasoning in curry or Thai dishes, try steeped in soup too! Make lemongrass tea!

2 colored peppers—Grill, roast, or just eat raw, they are sweet.

1 cippolini onion– Caramelize, or eat raw. They are sweet when cooked.

1 Broccoli or cauliflower– Steam, eat raw, or blanch and then sauté in butter or olive oil. It’s tasty roasted as well.

1 green cabbage– make slaw, steam in chunks or add to soup or stew.

Cardinal or Red oak compact lettuce– Make a salad, or add to sandwiches, make lettuce wraps.

Tomatoes (approximately 2 lbs) – Chop raw on salad, or sandwiches.

1 pint of cherry tomatoes– eat on salads, cut in half and make a tomato salad with basil.

4 ears of corn– Grill in husk or steam; add salt and butter or just eat plain.

Vegetable curry
2-3 cups of chopped cabbage
3-4 carrots, sliced into 1/8 inch rounds
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 head of broccoli or cauliflower
1 small tomato
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped lemongrass, chopped
4 tablespoons red or green curry paste
1-2 cups of water or stock (vegetable or chicken work well)
Salt to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large pan or wok on medium. Add the onions, carrots and cabbage. Sautée for 10 minutes or so, or until the carrots are about half cooked. Add the broccoli and garlic and continue cooking for another couple of minutes.

Add the stock, coconut milk, curry paste, chopped tomato, and lemon grass. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Salt to taste. You may add more or less curry paste depending on how spicy you would like it to be.
*The lemongrass can be put in some sort of a cheesecloth baggie and steeped or put directly into the curry. It will stay woody even when cooked so I usually don’t eat the lemongrass, but infuse the flavor into the dish.
*Add some sort of cooked meat to this if you’d like! Cilantro or Thai basil goes well in this dish too.

Roasted pepper ‘pesto’
2 colored peppers
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 cup toasted nuts, almonds or filberts (optional)
Pinch of salt

Roast the peppers in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until skins start to brown. Place in a metal or glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit until somewhat cooled. Peel skins off of the peppers and remove the stem and seeds. Place the peppers aside.
Meanwhile in a blender or food processor, place the oil and garlic, Pulse until the garlic is no longer visible. Add the peppers and pulse a few times longer. Add the cheese and nuts, pulse a few more times and then salt to taste. This spread goes wonderfully on sandwiches, as a topping for many veggie dishes, or even as a dip for carrots or broccoli.

CSA 2011 – Week 13: Melons, Melons Everywhere!

The theme of the past few weeks here at the farm has been melons! I personally have been trying to eat at least one melon a day for the past couple of weeks, and I think that I’m succeeding. We plant four staggered plantings of melons in the season, intended to spread out our melon season for four weeks or more and assure that we will get a good harvest.

This year we transplanted them into the fields a little late and the lack of warm weather seemed to drag us behind with the melons, resulting in our first good melon harvest the last week of August. The amazing thing about all of this is that our 3rd and 4th melon plantings are both ready to be picked now! The hot weather ripened up those melons in a hurry. Thank you to Joelene and Sarah for spending their Sunday and other countless hours of their time devoting to the melon picking and boxing. We grow several different varieties of wonderful melons here. Those of you who attended our tasting last month got to try them all. For the melon type, we grow charentais, honey orange, honey pearl, and gaila. The watermelon varieties are sunshine, little baby flower, starlight, new orchid, and sorbet swirl. These melons are very special and are treated with special care. This week’s box contains the 4th melon for you all this season, and there will be more to come!

Assorted Veggie Casserole from CSA member Ruth:
1 lb potatoes
Several tomatoes
2-3 summer squash, chopped
Cheese (optional)
Herbs (marjoram, or thyme)
Salt
Olive oil

Slice the potatoes thinly, salt them, and layer in a casserole dish. Layer the dish with the tomatoes and squash, or any other appropriate vegetables. Sprinkle some layers with chopped garlic, salt, pepper, and herbs. Add some shredded cheese if you’d like in the layers – mozzarella works well. Drizzle with a significant amount of olive oil so that the layers all get some. Bake at 400 degrees covered for about 45 minutes– 1 hour.

What’s in the Box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (Nicola or Colorado Rose)– steam, roast, or mash.

Beets, bunched – They are great raw, roasted, or boiled.

2 onions– chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. Try them caramelized.

Watermelon, assorted types– Eat just like it is!

2 jimmy nardelo peppers– Chop and put on salads. (see recipe)

2 colored peppers— Grill, roast, or just eat raw, they are very sweet. (see recipe)

1 lipstick pepper– Chop raw for salads, add to a sauté or potato salad. (see recipe)

1 globe eggplant– Roast with olive oil, salt, and garlic. Try sautéing with tomatoes and onions.

2 Japanese cucumbers– Chop and add to a salad. Marinate and combine with tomatoes! Try combining with melons and eat together.

Bok Choy-Sauté with squash, and onions, serve with rice or quinoa.

Squash (zucchini and cocozelle)– Grate and make fritters, or zucchini bread. Bake or sauté with onions, olive oil and salt.

Romaine, Cardinal, or Red leaf lettuce– Make a salad, or add to sandwiches, make lettuce wraps!

Tomatoes (approximately 2 lbs)- Chop raw on salad, or sandwiches.

Cucumber Melon Soup
1 watermelon, rind removed and cut into chunks
2 cucumbers, peeled, cut in half, seeds removed
Pinch of salt
Spoonful of honey
Few sprigs of mint and/or cilantro
Tiny pinch of cayenne pepper

Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. For an even
smoother texture, strain after blending. Serve this soup cold. Add some
club soda or sparkling water before you serve for an extra kick!

Assorted pepper “slaw”
2 colored peppers
1 lipstick pepper
2 jimmy nardelo peppers
Aioli or mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Cut the colored peppers in half and then remove the seeds before slicing. Then, cut the peppers into thin strips (julienne). Mix with Aioli (recipe below) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Aioli
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4-1 cup extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil, or a combination of the two.
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped.
Pinch or two of salt

Place egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil slowly, while the motor is still running. Taste for seasoning. At this point you can add herbs if you’d like. Once the mixture gets thick it is just about done. Scoop out of the machine and into a container and put it in the fridge. Add to the peppers once they’re ready and chopped.

CSA 2011 – Week 12: Sugar Beet Case #3

Many of you know of Frank Morton, owner of Wild Garden Seed. Wild Garden Seed and GTF have been working together since 1994. Not all of you may be aware of the current court case going on between Frank Morton (represented along with others by the Center for Food Safety), the USDA, and the Sugar Beet Industry (Monsanto and other companies that financially benefit from the industry). The Center for Food Safety (CFS) originally filed a suit against the USDA when Frank and other growers of beet seeds realized that some growers in the Willamette Valley switched to GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) sugar beets. The USDA had allowed farmers close by to start growing these GMO sugar beets without any sort of testing. They sued the USDA simply because they did not want the sugar beets to contaminate their beets by cross pollinating.

Frank and the CFS wanted an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be done in order to protect organic growers and farmers from contamination. The Judge ruled in favor of CFS and Morton. However, then the USDA changed the rules and issued special permits to allow the commercial sugar beet growers to continue despite the judge’s ruling. The CFS and those who they represent decided to sue again after they had won, when nothing was going to be enforced. The goal was to make the growers remove what they had illegally planted. In this second case the Judge ruled in favor of Morton and the CFS again. Although, once again the USDA had completed a preliminary environmental assessment and said that the GMO sugar beet growers did not have to pull up the stecklings (roots of transplanted beets) because of safe guards (from cross-contamination) implemented by the USDA. The judges ruling was considered to be moot, or not valid, because of the rules being rewritten once again.

Following the second ruling, Morton and the CFS were getting ready to try again. Before they had time to file again, the sugar beet industry decided to sue CFS and the USDA for making it too hard for their industry. This means that the sugar beet industry got to choose where the case would be heard, and they chose Washington D.C, as opposed to San Francisco, where the previous cases had been heard. The D.C location makes it a bit harder for CFS and Frank, but I think that was their intention.

Contamination of Frank’s seed by the sugar beets would be terrible. The sugar beets could not only cross and contaminate his beets, but also chard seeds since they are all in the Beta vulgaris family. This threat of contamination could scare off customers, and he believes it does. Sugar beet contamination could affect his seed stock and future plantings. The whole thing is a sticky situation as well because of the patents that Monsanto has on the genes in the GMO sugar beets.

Because of these patents, no one but Monsanto can actually do any safety testing on their crops and publicize it. This patent also poses a threat to Frank and other growers like him; what if his crop does get contaminated? Does Monsanto own the rights to those seeds, or just the contaminated ones, or what? It’s not very clear, but one thing is – the USDA is obviously making up rules to keep the sugar beet industry in business while leaving Frank and many other growers like him feeling unprotected and unheard by the government. Hopefully the third time will be a charm!

What’s in the box? 

  • 1.5 lb Potatoes (nicola) – Steam, roast, or mash. These are versatile.
  • Carrots, bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw or stir fried.
  • 3 onions(1 walla, 1 superstar, 1 red ) – Chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. They are very good caramelized.
  • Honey Orange Melon – Eat just like it is!
  • Charentais melon – Very flavorful French melon. Try salting it slightly before eating.
  • 1 colored pepper – Grill, roast, or just eat raw, they are very sweet.
  • 1 poblano pepper– Grill, roast, or add to a sauté for an extra kick. These can be slightly spicy and have a great flavor.
  • 2 Japanese cucumbers– Chop and add to a salad. Marinate and combine with tomatoes!  Try combining with melons and eat together.
  • 1 lb green beans– Blanch them and then sauté with olive oil, salt, garlic and herbs.
  • Squash (zucchini and cocozelle) – Grate and make fritters, or zucchini bread. Bake or sauté with onions, olive oil and salt.
  • Celery– Snack on raw, or use in soups!
  • Green Leaf lettuce– Make a salad, or add to sandwiches, make lettuce wraps!
  • Tomatoes (approximately 2 lbs)- Chop raw on salad, or sandwiches.
  • Corn– Grill in husk or steam. Add some butter and salt if you’d like.

Stuffed Onions
4 large onions
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups whole grain bread crumbs or brown rice
1/4 cup toasted nuts (almonds work well)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 teaspoons parsley, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
Sea salt and pepper

Cut onions in half along the equator and remove the inner part of the onion, leaving a shell two or three layers thick. Make a small slice on the bottom of each onion shell so that it will stand upright. Place shells in a buttered glass oven dish.Chop the onion taken from the centers and sauté in olive oil until tender. Add rice or bread crumbs, nuts, oregano, cheese and parsley and mix well. Remove from heat, stir in the egg and season to taste. Fill the onion shells with the stuffing. Add a little water to the baking pan and bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour.

Stir Fry Green Beans with Cashews
1 pound string beans, each end cut off
1/2 cup crispy cashews, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup filtered water, orange juice or chicken stock
1 tablespoon arrowroot mixed with 1 tablespoon filtered water
1 teaspoon raw honey
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

Combine ginger, soy sauce, water or stock, honey, sesame oil, garlic and rosemary. Mix thoroughly with a wire whisk. Heat the oil in a skillet or wok. Stir fry the beans until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add cashews and the sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Add the arrowroot mixture and simmer until the sauce thickens and the beans are well coated.