CSA 2011 – Week 10: Cold Preparation Ideas

It’s official, it’s August and the heat is finally on. I think that everyone is feeling the pressure. We were able to harvest some of our first planting of melons that the crows attacked a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, we have been swimming in tomatoes, and yes, peppers are here! Hopefully soon we will be getting enough red and orange ones to give you all some of those!

This time of year I try to remind myself that it is normal to be stressed, and also that I am not the only one feeling it. I also tend to enjoy colder foods instead of hot prepared items. So here I will provide some cold preparation ideas for this week’s box. With a little innovation, you can pretty much prepare any vegetable in a cold manner, which is a nice relief in this hot weather. It’s sure hard to eat hot soup in the summer! More on cold soups next week.

Carrot/ Beet Slaw:
1 bunch of carrots, shredded
1 bunch of beets, shredded
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
This slaw would make a great addition to a sandwich
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
or wrap, or just eat it plain as a side dish.
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons stone ground mustard
2 Tablespoons honey
Salt to taste
1/2 cup chopped parsley

*Combine all ingredients and season to taste.

Bean and Potato salad
1 lb bag of green beans
1 lb or so of purple potatoes
1/2 red onion, finely chopped

Dressing:
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
1 tablespoon honey
Pinch of salt

Cut or snap tough ends of beans off. Blanch them in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes. Chill , set aside.

Boil potatoes whole for 20-30 minutes, or until cooked all the way. Cool and then chop into 1-inch cubes.

Combine beans with potatoes, onions, and the dressing. Serve cold.
Note: You may add more or less dressing to your liking, or use more or less vinegar or olive oil depending on how acidic you like your dressing.

If anyone has a recipe they would like to share with everyone else, feel free to e-mail it to me, and I will try to include it in a future newsletter.

*Reminder: CSA tour, melon and tomato tasting this weekend! August 28th, 2-5pm Be there or be square!*

What’s in the box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (purple majesty)– Steam, roast, or mash. These are versatile. (see recipe)

Carrots, bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw or stir fried.

2 Onions (1 Big Alsea craig white onion, 1 red) – Chop the onions and eat raw on salads
or soups. (see recipe)

1 Bunch Beets– Shred raw on salad, boil or roast and marinate. (see recipe)

1 Purple or Green Pepper—Grill, roast, or just eat raw. (see recipe)

1 Anaheim Pepper– Chop raw, and add to salsa, salad, or sauté with summer squash.

Assorted Summer Squash – Try them sautéed, grilled, in a soup, sautéed in butter, grated for fritters, or make muffins!

1 lb Green Beans– Blanch them and then sauté with olive oil, salt, garlic and herbs.

1 Bunch Fresh Shallots – chop and sauté in olive oil or butter, use in place of garlic with beans. Try roasted with potatoes, they have a wonderful flavor.

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

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

4 ears of Corn– First corn of the season! Grill in husk or steam for a few minutes. Eat plain or add salt and butter.

Recipes:

Peppers and Onions

1 large onion ( add shallots for more flavor), sliced
2 peppers (Anaheim and green or purple would work fine)
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried fine herbs (oregano, thyme, or sage work well)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 cup finely shredded basil leaves
Sea salt and pepper

  • Sauté onions and peppers gently in butter and olive oil for about 45 minutes until soft.
  • Add herbs, crushed garlic and basil and cook another few minutes, stirring constantly. The consistency should be like marmalade. Season to taste.
  • Serve as a side dish or as an appetizer on triangle croutons.

    Variation: Add cooked sausage to the mix and eat all together, on top of some smashed potatoes, or just on a roll with some mustard. Even add some chopped tomatoes towards the end for more flavor!

Stuffed Tomatoes

3 large tomatoes
Sea salt and pepper
2 slices whole grain bread
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon fine herbs

  • Slice tomatoes in half around the equator, remove the seeds and place cut side up in a buttered baking dish.
  • Sprinkle with a little sea salt and pepper. Process bread in a food processor to make fine crumbs.
  • Add butter, cheeseand herbs and pulse a few times until well blended.
  • Spread a spoonful of stuffing over each tomato half.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

    Variation: Try using sautéed summer squash in place of bread crumbs, or sauté shallots and add them in as well. A soft cheese goes well in this too.

CSA 2011 – Week 7: Soil Fertility and Cover Crops

I had the pleasure of following Farmer John around the barnyard this morning to get some knowledge of our soil fertility tactics here at GTF. We first discussed cover crops. John says that cover crops work well for farms that have long rotations, or space that they do not need to plant anything into for up to 6 months. In the traditional cover cropping system you let the crop go for awhile, sometimes until as much as 6 feet high. Then, you would disc it down and let the green material break down for another 6-8 weeks before it’s ready to plant in.

We have a bit more of an intensive rotational system because most of the land we farm is planted almost all year round without much of a break, since we over winter quite a bit of crops. We do however have some parcels of ground clear of food crops in the winter that we will utilize cover crops in. When we use cover crops we usually plant field peas, vetch, and rye. Our cover crop system is a little bit more modified than other farms. We will let them grow until just before we need to use the parcel to plant in, and then we use a forage chopper to truck away the greenery as one of our compost feed stocks. We can then plow, disc, and prepare the land to be ready to plant in the next day. This saves us the 6-8 weeks of waiting for the plants to break down in the field. In our case the cover still serves the purpose of holding the soil from eroding in the winter rains as well as keeping the micro-organisms healthy and happily eating away.

As I followed John around to assess a manure spreader that went out of commission last night, he explained that we will use this tactic especially in fields where we will be planting later summer crops such as melons. There is a point in the fall, towards the end of October, that it gets too late to plant a cover crop. If we don’t plant early enough the cover crop will not have a developed root system, and we will end up with an insignificant crop that will not hold the soil or build it. If we don’t plant anything into an empty field, winter weeds can serve the same purpose; or in fact chickweed, which grows in plenty around here, makes a great winter cover.

As John got out from under the manure spreader, diagnosed the problem, and then made a phone call to our loyal mechanic, he added that we tend to rely more on compost than cover cropping. Our compost is a stable addition to the soil. We do two main types of compost: your basic compost and composted chicken manure. The chicken manure compost along with a fish fertilizer that we run through our irrigation are our two main fertilization tactics for crops that need more nitrogen to thrive. We also apply gypsum to all of our fields since our soil is low in calcium. The good thing about gypsum is it doesn’t change the pH of the soil either, which is another important factor. As I wrapped up brain-picking with John this morning, socket wrench still in hand, I was just amazed with the amount of interesting information I had learned. Maybe I should do this more often!

Lisa Hargest
CSA coordinator


What’s in the Box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (purple viking) – See below.
Carrots, bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw or stir fried.
1 bunch baby Walla Walla onions – chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. Try them grilled! The top green part goes well with eggs, cheese, stir fries or pasta.
1 bunch beets – They are great boiled, roasted, or even grated raw and dressed. Eat the greens too; they are great sautéed with olive oil and salt.
1 green pepper– It is wonderful grilled, sautéed, roasted, or raw.
Summer squash (1lb) – Try them sautéed, grilled, in a soup or stir fried.
2 cucumbers – Eat raw, on salad, or marinate them.
1 bunch parsley – Chop it raw as an addition to a sauté, use in pesto with or without basil. See recipe.
1 bunch basil – Make pesto! Eat with tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar and salt.
Romaine lettuce – Make a salad, or add to sandwiches.
2 tomatoes – Chop raw on salad, eat plain like an apple!
1 pint of strawberries

On Purple Viking Potatoes
These purple Viking potatoes were freshly harvested this week. The skins are sensitive and have not hardened yet. These potatoes are a bit more starchy, but do well baked or boiled. I would mash them up with some butter and salt. If you wanted to try something different you could boil them whole, then chop and add some balsamic vinegar, mustard and salt while still warm. They are also quite tasty roasted with the usual rosemary, salt and olive oil.

Tabouli
1/2 cup bulgar
1 bunch parsley, chopped finely
1 bunch baby onions, chopped, greens and all
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, julienned (optional)
1/4 cup or more lemon juice
1/4 cup or more extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves chopped garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: chick peas, cucumbers, a pepper

Boil 3/4 cups water, add to bulgar and cover. Let sit for 15-20 minutes, or until bulgar is tender. Add lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Place in
refrigerator. Add the rest of the ingredients about 30 minutes before serving. Serve cold.

Raw Beet Salad
1 bunch beets, greens chopped off and beets grated
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons honey, maple syrup or sugar

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and season to taste. This is a very simple salad. It goes great on any green salad.
Variations: add grated carrots or chopped parsley to switch it up.

CSA 2011 – Week 5: Oh the Places Veggies Go

Yesterday morning was a lovely day in the lettuce field. We had over 500 heads of lettuce to pick, but it was Monday, my personal favorite day, and we were all ready to go. Claudia picked a wonderful head of off-type ‘cardinal’ crisp leaf lettuce that was huge and beautiful. It looked as if an artist had come to paint the shadows of red illuminating over the green heart of it right into the soil in which its roots sprang. Later on in the morning we got into a discussion about all of the possibilities of where the produce could go. When I really get to thinking about it, the options seem endless. Just take a head of romaine lettuce for example. Each week we send romaine lettuce to the eight different weekly markets.

So, this lettuce has the possibility of being eaten by people from Portland all the way down the Willamette Valley and out to Newport. We’ve also been selling lettuce to various restaurants and stores in the area. These may then go to other families, probably within the same areas as the markets. There are also some weeks where a head of romaine lettuce ends up in the CSA boxes – that’s 340 different households! That romaine will then get eaten by folks from the Portland vicinity to Newport, Yachats and back out to Corvallis.

What happens when these CSA members have visitors in town to share the produce with? Then the lettuce may get eaten by someone visiting from a different state or even country. There is always the chance that the lettuce won’t get eaten by a person. A head or two could end up not selling and may be too wilted to save. In this case we would compost it, feed it to Joelene’s chickens, or the neighbor’s pigs. These amazing animals will then turn the lettuce into fertilization and the whole cycle starts over again with compost, soil, a seed, sunshine, and water. That’s just romaine lettuce. Imagine where all the other veggies could end up: carrots, garlic, potatoes, oh my! It seems no matter where they go, something or someone enjoys them, whether it be a family, an employee, a customer, an earthworm, or a pig. That is what makes picking lettuce so fun.

Oh the places they go, the smiles they make!

Farmer of the Week: Kim Lamont
What is your job here at GTF? Farm Stand Manager
When did you start working at GTF? In 1988, I started cleaning garlic for John and Sally; we met at an organic gardening club meeting.
What do you do in your spare time? Play with my grandbaby, Luca, who grew on GTF food!
What would you be doing if you weren’t here?
Making yaro tincture, or picking red clover.
If you were a vegetable what would you be and why? A beet because they’re earthy, cleansing, and sweet at the same time!

What’s in the Box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (Nicola) – These are best steamed or fried.
Carrots, Bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw, or stir-fried.
1 Bunch Baby Onions – Chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. The top
green part goes well with eggs, cheese, stir fries or pasta.
1 Bunch Chioggia Beets – You can grate the beets raw on salad or slaw, boil or roast them in water, then peel and eat with greens or on salad. Eat the greens! (see recipe)
1 Pint Sugar Snap Peas – Eat them raw or do a quick sauté with olive oil and salt.
1 Fennel– The bulb is the most desirable part, chop it, and stir fry it or make a raw
salad with it. You can use the whole thing with experimenting – the stalk can be
stringy. (see recipe)
Summer Squash (1lb) – Try them sautéed, grilled, grated raw, soup or stir-fried.
Assorted Lettuce (green or red leaf, green butter, or green oak) – Make a salad, or add to sandwiches.
3 Cucumbers – Eat raw, on salad, or marinate them.
1 Garlic Head – Add it to stir fries, roast whole.
1 Siletz Tomato – Chop raw on salad, eat plain like an apple!
1 pint of Cherries

Recipes:

Marinated Beets

  • Cut the beets off of the greens.
  • Set the greens aside; save and use them by sautéeing or steaming.
  • Boil the beets in salted water for about 30 minutes or until a knife can slide through a beet easily.
  • Strain and let the beets cool until they are cool enough to handle. Peel the skins, they will slide right off.
  • Chop beets into pieces and add extra virgin olive oil, rice wine vinegar, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar, honey or maple syrup.
  • Use these as a topping for a salad; they go great with blue or goat cheeses.
  • You can even sauté the beet greens and then add the marinated beets at the very end.

Potato-Fennel Soup (from Moosewood)

1 Tbs. butter or olive oil
1-2 thinly sliced onions
2 tsp. salt
4 medium potatoes (1 lb), chopped
1 cup minced fennel bulb
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
4 cups water or stock
3 cloves garlic, minced
Optional toppings:
Sour cream, or fennel fronds, minced

  • Melt the butter or heat olive oil in large soup pot.
  • Add onions and 1 tsp salt.
  • Cook over medium-low heat, stirring 15-20 minutes or until the onions are very soft and light brown.
  • Add the potatoes, garlic, another pinch of salt, minced fennel bulb, and the caraway seeds.
  • Sauté over medium heat for another 5 minutes, then add the water or stock.
  • Bring to a boil, partially cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender (10-15 minutes).
  • Season to taste

CSA 2010 – Week 7: Small Town, USA

Philomath, Oregon

Year-round population of about 4,500. We have a library, post office, diner, bar, a great annual rodeo, and a museum that spotlights local history. There used to be one main street that split the town, but now there are two, one going in each direction. Other then that, not much appears to have changed in the last couple of years. The schools are still full of kids, and even though the economy is down, most of the small businesses managed to keep their doors open. Sounds ordinary, right? Classic small town America. But when compared with overall rural growth trends, its really not. All over the United States, small towns like this are packing up their bags and dragging their feet into the urban sprawl of the nearest big city, but strangely Philomath is growing – its population is up 17% since 2000. What is the glue that holds small towns like this together? And why are so many place like it falling apart? Maybe its not glue that sticks communities together, but food.

Canned goods, honey and herbal supplements come from local Willamette valley producers

In what we always seem to idealize as the golden years in our nation’s history, the 1950’s, about 12% of the total labor force claimed farming as their principle occupation. The total number of farms back then (as counted by the government) was 5,388,000. In the last 50 years that number has fallen to where it is today; now less than 1% of the labor force claim farming as the way they make their living, and the overall number of farms in the United States is about 2 million. Could this shift away from small scale farming be a big factor in the break-up of so many small communities?

Kali Lamont stocks produce at the farm stand.

While I don’t completely believe that the sole reason for this small town’s growth is Gathering Together Farm, I think it is undeniable that the presence and success of our farm has and will continue to build community support and connections that positively effect the area. Communities are built on issues of common ground or interest, such as local politics, or town development. But farms affect us on a level that goes beyond our petty differences: they produce food, and everyone has to eat. The greatest obvious commonality in a small town is the fact that the food source is shared. John and Sally have farmed here since 1987; they have sent their children to school here; they know their neighbors, fellow business owners; they know their customers; and in return everyone knows them. I think this investment in community goes beyond economic or demographic growth. It fills a need that we don’t always recognize because it is rapidly disappearing: the practice of looking out for the best interest of the people you share space with.

Regular customer Irene picking up GTF sausage, a favorite among her grandchildren.

Take our Farmstand for example. The diversity of local products reflects how community bonds are strengthened. Of course we sell vegetables that are grown on the farm, but there are also fresh eggs and cheese from neighbors, free range meat from several local providers in the greater Corvallis area. Canned goods from Sweet Creek farms, seeds from our sister company, Wild Garden Seeds, wines from local vineyards, and honey from both Blodgett and Corvallis. The list goes on, but the point is that all the people who produce these products have something to bring to the table. These small producers are given a venue to sell their wares, and we in turn have something special and unique to offer to the public that we otherwise would lack. When people help each other out like this, everyone benefits. It’s a lot harder for communities to fall apart and individuals within the community to fail, because people are literally invested in the health of a community, because of this they will go to greater measures to make sure that both issues and people aren’t falling through the cracks.

One of the original activists for a local food movement, Wendell Barry wrote on the idea that farming should be done by the measure of nature, that is, the nature and history of a place. This means that farmers tend farms that they love, farms that are small enough to know and to love, using tools and methods that they know and love, in the company of neighbors they know and love. Historically farming has been at the heart of small communities, and neighbors whose efforts help to feed other neighbors are going to care a lot more about each others’ well-being. With society changing like it is, it seems most communities could use a whole lot more of this food for the heart.

Devon Sanders, CSA Coordinator

What’s in the box?

  • 2 medium Siletz Tomatoes
  • Pint of Blueberries – Thank you Wilt Berry Farm, Corvallis, OR.
  • 1.5 lbs Yellow or All Red Potatoes
  • 2 Cucumbers – See recipe.
  • Carrots
  • Basil
  • Beets – See recipe.
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Baby Onions – You can use every bit of these onions, from bulb to the tasty green tops, just slice then into little rounds, sauté, or sprinkle on top of potatoes, eggs, or salads.
  • 2 Zucchinis
  • Summer Squash – You should have one of either the cocozella (a long striped green variety), magda (pale green and eggplant shaped), yellow crook neck, yellow patty pan (resembles a space ship), or zapallito (a round green variety).

Recipes:

Veggie Salad Wraps

These wraps are so easy to make, plus  they are light and refreshing on hot days when you don’t feel like turning on the stove. All you need are spring roll rice papers or wraps, which you can find in almost any Asian market, or co-op, or even the Asian foods aisle of many grocery stores. They are made out of rice flour, so no cooking is necessary. Just soak one at a time in a shallow container of luke-warm water (I use a pie pan) for about 15 – 20 seconds, until they are soft, but not too soft. Once the wrap is soft, remove it, and move to a flat plate to add your filling, then roll it up. Below are some suggestions for fillings, but you can put whatever you like in them. To really fancy them up, try shrimp and chopped mint, or cilantro on top of what I’ve suggested below.

The number of  wraps you want to make will affect the amount of veggies needed. The below suggestions will make between 10 and 15 wraps depending on size.

4-5 carrots (grated)
2 cucumbers – sliced into long thin strips
Green tops of one bunch of baby onions, chopped into 1/4 inch rounds
One head of lettuce, shredded thinly
Your choice of dipping sauce – Spicy peanut is my favorite

Place a line of veggies down  the center of one of  your  pre-soaked wraps, just like a burrito, leave about one inch on either side, and enough space on the top and bottom to roll closed. Carefully fold the bottom of the rice paper wrapper over the vegetables. Turn in the sides and keep it rather tight as you continue rolling up from the bottom.  Slice in half and serve with dipping sauce.

Roasted Beet and Beet Green Salad

1 bunch beets with greens
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped onion
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
a sprinkle of feta cheese
a sprinkle of chopped green onion tops

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Wash the beets thoroughly, leaving the skins on, and remove the greens. Rinse greens, and set aside.
  • Place the beets in a small baking dish or roasting pan, and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Cover, and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a knife can slide easily through the largest beet.
  • When the roasted beets are almost done, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat.
  • Add the garlic and onion, and cook for a minute.
  • Tear the beet greens into 2 to 3 inch pieces and add them to the skillet.
  • Cook and stir until greens are wilted and tender.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Cut beets into bite sized pieces, mix with greens and vinegar, this is great warm or cold,  garnish with a sprinkle of feta cheese, and onion tops. Yum!

Tomato, Zucchini Caprese Salad

2 vine-ripe tomato 1/4-inch thick slices
2  thinly sliced zucchini
1 pound fresh mozzarella, 1/4-inch thick slices
1 bunch (or a little less) fresh basil
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Coarse salt and pepper to taste

  • Layer alternating slices of tomatoes, zucchini, and mozzarella, adding a basil leaf between each, on a large, shallow platter.
  • Drizzle the salad with extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.