First Cucumbers and Zucchinis

The crew picked the season’s first cucumbers about a week ago. The tender young fruits were small and had a few bug-bites scabs, but they tasted of pure summer. This year, we’re growing ‘Socrates‘ because our favorite ‘Sweet Slice’ was unavailable due to a seed shortage. So far, they’re doing well, and we think they’re pretty good.

All our cucumbers are grown in greenhouses. You can read/see more about our trellising system here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throughout the summer, the crew will harvest cucumbers about five times per week. It’s pretty amazing to see the size difference in one fruit after 24 hours of growth during the warm weather.

This week, the crew is also starting to harvest the first zucchinis grown in a greenhouse, and they will cut summer squash about five times per week for the rest of the season.

Often times, the first zucchini on every plant will be stunted and somewhat misshapen. These fruits must be cut off to encourage the plant to keep producing. The ugly ones are sent to the farmstand kitchen, or they’re taken home and enjoyed by staff.

The zucchini harvest can, at times, be a real hunt. When plants are young, the fruits are usually easy to spot, but as the foliage grows more robust, the green zucchinis can be a challenge to spot.

The first zucchinis will make their way to farmers’ markets this week and weekend.

These plants have been helped along by the extra warmth and protection of both the greenhouse plastic and plastic mulch laid on the ground. True zucchini and summer squash season won’t start for another month or six weeks when our outside plants begin to bear. By scheduling successive zucchini (as well as other summer squash) plantings both inside greenhouses and out in the fields, we should have a continuous supply throughout the summer and into the fall.

Ana Patty’s Cakes

A group of friends came out to the farm stand yesterday to celebrate a birthday. Here are a few tantalizing photos of this delightful strawberry cocoa cake created by Ana Patty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Views Around the Farm Stand + Lunch Menu for May 15-18

The farm stand is looking well-stocked as more spring produce ripens up (mostly under the cover of greenhouses). If you’re considering signing up for our 22-week CSA program, we do still have openings. You can find more information and an enrollment form here.

GTF salad with goat cheese and pistachio croquettes and taragon vinaigrette

The Menu (subject to change based on availability)

to start:

country pâte with pistachios served with cornichon and mustard
potted duck crostini with sour cherry mostarda on grilled baguette
 
mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette
GTF salad with goat cheese and pistachio croquettes and taragon vinaigrette 
 
white bean and pepper soup with artisan bread
creamy mushroom soup soup with artisan bread

 

pizze:

garlic/oregano/tomato/mozzarella
mushroom/roasted garlic/tomato/mozzarella
coppa/pear/blue cheese/tomato/mozzarella
prawn/bacon/shallot/mozzarella

 

secondi:

duck ravioli with parsley-almond pesto and shallot
pork ragú with bok choy and tagliatelle
Jess’s whole wheat sourdough bread pudding
ricotta crespelle with beets and chard
GTF brodetto with rockfish and prawns
beef short ribs on polenta
 
goat cheese and pistachio croquettes
potted duck crostini with sour cherry mostarda on grilled baguette
white bean and pepper soup with artisan bread
Izze soda, root beer, coffee, fresh-squeezed lemonade, coffee, iced tea, and Oregon Trail beer
prawn/bacon/shallot/mozzarella pizza
coppa/pear/blue cheese/tomato/mozzarella pizza
fresh, housemade tagliatelle
pork ragú with bok choy and tagliatelle
ricotta crespelle with beets and chard
duck ravioli
duck ravioli with parsley-almond pesto and shallot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

beef short ribs on polenta
apple-pear galette

Rhubarb: Growing, Harvesting, and Culinary Inspiration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s rhubarb season in Western Oregon, and the rhubarb patches at Gathering Together Farm are robust this year. The crew started harvesting stalks (technically petioles) almost a month ago, and the warm wet weather has been perfect for rhubarb regrowth. We will likely have rhubarb at our farmers’ markets and at the farm stand for another month or so until the weather starts to get truly hot and dry.

While rhubarb isn’t technically a fruit, it does make a nice fruit-like addition to an Oregon spring diet because it comes on earlier than true fruits like strawberries.

It seems that in the past few years, rhubarb has surged in popularity, but there is still quite a bit of misinformation circulating in the public lore about this ancient but still relatively unknown plant. Quite possibly the most common misconception about rhubarb has to do with the color. Rhubarb doesn’t “turn” red. It starts red and stays red unless it’s green (or greenish red) rhubarb in which case it starts green and stays green (or greenish red). Rhubarb is more like zucchini in that it can never be unripe; it just gets bigger until it gets overripe and starts to turn brown and woody.

At Gathering Together Farm, we grow mostly red rhubarb because that’s what people want even though there is essentially no difference between red and green varieties (except that sometimes the green stuff is sold at a lower price). Our original rhubarb patch was planted almost two decades ago, and rhubarb has become a mainstay for our farmers’ market booths in the spring.

Rhubarb is relatively easy to grow. It produces best when fertilized annually with composted manure and/or leaf mulch. We don’t usually water our patches because they produce most heavily during the rainy spring. The plants will continue to bear throughout the summer if they get enough water, but they will go dormant in really hot weather.

Rhubarb is generally grown from starts not seed, and we’ve heard from farming friends that good rhubarb starts are hard to find. Ideally, rhubarb should be dug up and divided every 3-5 years, so it doesn’t get overcrowded. Each time we’ve done this, we’ve planted the extra divisions in a new area, thus increasing our rhubarb acreage and yield. When we divide our own rhubarb starts this fall, we may have extras to sell, so if you’re interested in growing your own rhubarb, check back with us later.

For more info on growing rhubarb, read this article (though obviously herbicides are not part of our growing protocol) from the Rhubarb Compendium.

The crew picks the most developed stalks of rhubarb from a patch every two weeks or so at this time of year, rotating the harvest area from week to week, which allows patches to regenerate between pickings. Crew members (Carmelo above) harvest rhubarb by simply giving individual stalks a good yank, which will cleanly free them from the root masses.

A few crew members will do the pulling while others trim the stalks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A crew member (Cirilo above) uses a large, sharp knife to cleave off the large leaf and the papery flap by the base of the stalk.

Rhubarb leaves are beautiful but mildly poisonous. The discarded leaves are left to mulch the rhubarb patch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harvesting and cleaning rhubarb is not difficult or unpleasant. In fact, the crew can fill many tubs in a half hour or so.

Tubs of rhubarb stalks are transported back to the packing shed to be rinsed, repacked, and distributed to our farmers’ markets, the farm stand, and restaurant orders.

Though it can be used in savory dishes, rhubarb stalks are generally cooked into desserts or breakfast foods with generous sweeteners to counteract its inherently astringent flavor. For more info on how to cook and store rhubarb, along with its health benefits, check out this article on Foodal.com.

Here are a few rhubarb-centric recipes from around the web that look particularly delicious:

Sugared Coconut Raspberries and Rhubarb Polenta Cake from Desserts for Breakfast

Rhubarb Tarts with Orange-Honey Fromage Blanc from Desserts for Breakfast

Rhubarb Crisp from Nectar

Rhubarb Mojito from Not Without Salt

Honey Rhubarb Compote from The Bounty Hunter

Lavendar Panna Cotta with Poached Rhubarb from Tartelette

Rhubarb Tartelettes from Tartelette

Poached Rhubarb with Yoghurt, Pistachios, and Honeycomb from La Buena Vida

Orange Scented Honey Rhubarb Swirl Cake from Good Things Grow

Rhubarb and Rosewater Syrup from 101 Cookbooks

If you don’t feel like cooking/baking on your own, GTF pastry chef Ana Patty has various rhubarb pastries and desserts (like the unbaked brown butter-rhubarb tarts above) on the menu in the farm stand on a regular basis.

Views Around the Farm Stand + Lunch Menu for May 8-11

vegetable soup

The menu this week showcases several new spring offerings like rhubarb, oregano, bok choy, and white turnips. While the dishes are made up of a full spectrum of colors, green is everywhere, as it should be this time of year.

Last week’s breakfast on Saturday was one of the busiest on record at the farm stand. Thank YOU for coming out and supporting us.

The farm stand is open 9-5 Tuesday through Saturday. In addition to meal service, we always have a full selection of organic produce, coffee, pastries, and other local goods for sale in the store.

duck pâte with rhubarb mostarda

The Lunch Menu (subject to change based on availability)

to start:

duck pâte with rhubarb mostarda
duck liver crostini with sour cherry mostarda
 
mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette
GTF salad with grilled flat iron with white turnips and red wine vinaigrette
 
vegetable soup with artisan bread
white bean soup with artisan bread

 

pizze:

garlic/oregano/tomato/mozzarella
pesto/roasted peppers/tomato/mozzarella
ham/potato/spinach/tomato/mozzarella
duck/goat cheese/tomato/mozzarella

 

secondi:

agnolotti with porcini broth, leeks, and watercress
pork ragú with bok choy and tagliatelle
golden raisin and rosemary bread pudding
spring risotto
GTF brodetto with rockfish and prawns
lamb sausage with braised cabbage
 

In early fall of last year, we dried boxes of italian sweet peppers…

…and now the kitchen staff will occasionally turn those dried peppers into house-made chili paste that ends up in or on a variety of different dishes.

the pizza station
Before: pesto/roasted pepper/tomato/mozzarella pizza
After: pesto/roasted pepper/tomato/mozzarella pizza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re happy to pour a selection of wines from local wine makers Spindrift, Lumos, Tyee, or Pheasant Court.

The chives are blooming, so chive blossoms garnish many plates.
spring risotto in the works
Spring risotto
pork ragú with bok choy and tagliatelle
lamb sausage with braised cabbage
plates headed out to hungry folks with GTF salad in front
GTF brodetto with rockfish and prawns