CSA 2011 – Week 11: Melon and Tomato Tasting Recap

Well, the delayed heat finally set in last week to help ripen up our outdoor tomatoes and peppers along with our melons too! The melon and tomato tasting was a success as well. About five families showed up to try our offerings, and we took a tour of the farm in the big red truck!

I even learned some new information. For example, we have been having issues with spider mites in the summer for the past couple of years because they thrive and readily reproduce in hot, dry weather. John explained to us that they came up with a new solution this year: running a sprinkler periodically to keep the humidity up. And it works!

We also got a chance to look at the Wild Garden Seed lettuce field. It looks like they have started to harvest some plants out there that were laying down on some white cloth. This time of year the lettuce seed field is just beautiful. Most of the 4-5 foot tall plants are still glowing red, green, purple, or a combination of the three and a lot of them are displaying their white fluffy seed heads. It looks like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Just think, each of those plants will produce hundreds of little lettuce seeds that will then produce more and more lettuce or seed, and it will just continue on and on! We will be having a fall potluck and tour, date to be decided. We’ll keep you posted on that.
Lisa Hargest– CSA coordinator

Words from Sally:
I hope your weekly box is nourishing you and your family. It feels as if the GTF bounty has finally kicked into gear. I think I have “stressed” about this year’s box more than any other year. Again I want to thank you for accepting the challenge of eating with the season or whatever that particular season offers. Joelene, Dan, and I have started to pick the 2nd planting of watermelons as the 1st planting got eaten by our local crow mob. We have four plantings, so be looking for melons in your upcoming boxes. We would love to hear about some of your creative menus from your CSA box!

Enjoy your vegetables!
Sally

What’s in the Box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (nicola)– 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 superstar)– Chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. They are very good caramelized.

Honey Pearl Melon– Eat just like it is!

1 yellow or orange pepper—Grill, roast, or just eat raw, they are very sweet.

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

1 broccoli – Steam, roast, or grill with salt and olive oil.

2 cucumbers– Chop and add to a salad. Marinate and combine with tomatoes!

1 lb romano, wax, or green beans– Blanch them and then sauté with olive oil, salt, garlic and herbs.

1 globe eggplant– Roast, or pan fry. Try breading and frying for eggplant parmesan.

1 bunch cilantro – Use in salsa, try salsa verde with the tomatillos. It goes well with cucumbers too. (see recipes)

1 garlic – Add to salsa, sautés, or try roasting in skins.

1 jalapeño– Use in salsa, or anything that you would like to spice up!

1 lb tomatillos– Make salsa verde! It’s a wonderful topping for tacos.

Assorted lettuce (oak leaf, romaine, little gem, or crisp leaf) – Make a salad, or add to sandwiches, make lettuce wraps!

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


Recipes:

Salsa Verde
1 lb tomatillos
1 teaspoon (more or less) chopped jalapeño
1/2 c cilantro, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons lime juice
Pinch of salt

Peel the papery outer husks off of the tomatillos. Simmer them in boiling water for 8-10 minutes, and then peel the skins off. Add the cilantro and garlic and then puree in a food processor or blender. Heat the oil over low heat. Stir in the chopped onion, and jalapeño cooking slowly until slightly wilted. Add the tomatillo mixture, lime juice and the salt. Remove from heat right away, then refrigerate until chilled. Serve chilled. Salsa will keep up to a week in the refrigerator.


Broiled Eggplant Slices

1 globe eggplant
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup cilantro marinade

Peel eggplant and slice 3/8 inch thick. Sprinkle with salt and let stand 1 hour. Rinse and pat dry. Place on a well– oiled cookie sheet and brush half the marinate on top of the slices . Broil until golden, turn, brush other side with remaining marinade and broil again.


Cilantro Marinade

1 bunch of cilantro
Juice of 1 lemon
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together. Refrigerate until needed.

Stuffed Potatoes
6 medium baking potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup crème fraiche or sour cream
1 onion, finely chopped                                                                                     1/2 cup parmesan or cheddar cheese
2-3 tablespoons basil, or parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

Place whole potatoes in a clay pot, cover and set in a cold oven and turn on to 250 degrees. The potatoes will cook in 2-3 hours depending on their size. Cut butter into cubes and place in a large bowl. When the potatoes are done, cut lengthwise and scoop out soft potato flesh into the bowl with the butter. Mash with a potato masher, mix in cultured cream, cheese, herbs and onions. Season to taste. Spoon the potato mixture back into the shells and return them to a 150– degree oven to keep warm.

CSA 2011 – Week 9: If I Had a CSA Box I Would…

I’ve decided to take this week to tell you how I would use all of the produce in a CSA box.
Candy Onions: I would caramelize them like the recipe on the back and then combine them with the sautéed green beans.
Beans: see recipe on back.

Potatoes: Boil them and mash them with butter and cream. You could also chop them into 2– inch pieces, toss in olive oil, salt, garlic and herbs. Roast them at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Try boiling them whole, let them cool and then grate them to make potato pan-cakes or pan-fried hash browns.

Green Pepper: My favorite way to eat these is grilled or roasted whole until the outside gets slightly charred. You can then peel the pepper or not and add it to a sandwich with arugula-basil pesto, lettuce and tomato.

Squash: Summer squash is wonderful chopped in half, coated with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and then grilled. Another way of preparing it is to chop it into thin strips and toss it in olive oil and salt and roast it at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until cooked thoroughly. I also hear that you can grate it raw and freeze it for later zucchini breads. Another CSA member told me she likes to chop the squash and layer it in a casserole dish with cheese and other veggies and bake it!

Cucumber: I like cucumbers raw dipped in hummus or salad dressings of some sort. The salad dressing on the back would be a perfect cucumber dip.

Arugula: Arugula is a tasty salad green. You can eat it raw with dressing (see recipe on back). Another great way to use the Arugula is in pesto with basil. I usually split the basil and arugula half and half so that you get to taste both equally. Their flavors complement each other well. This pesto goes nicely on a sandwich, as a dip or even as the base for a pesto pasta of some sort. I tend to like arugula slightly wilted as well because it cuts the spicy bitter edge that it tends to have. Try it wilted on top of pizza.

Romaine Lettuce: I really enjoy the grilled Caesar salad that I put a recipe for a few weeks ago. Romaine is a great crispy lettuce with a nice mild flavor. It goes well on sandwiches, or as salad. A woman I work with just suggested making lettuce rolls with the large leaves. You could stuff these with some tomato, pesto, and cucumbers. If you’re a meat eater, add some bacon! Mushrooms and cheese might go nicely as well.

Carrots: I enjoy these carrots as they are, raw! I know some CSA members who cut them up into carrot sticks for the week. Try them grated raw with raisins, oil and vinegar.

Basil: I am a huge pesto fan personally, but there are many ways to use basil. In fact, basil is a great addition to an Asian stir fry of squash, green beans, and carrots with soy sauce, sesame oil and seeds, some chili flakes and served over rice. Also, try making a tomato salad, or use in the salad dressing recipe.

Blueberries: Eat them raw, make a smoothie, or add them to pancakes!

Tomatoes: Eat them raw on salad. Combine with pesto. You could even try them stuffed with cheese and herbs and baked at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

What’s in the box?

…I suppose you just found out. 🙂

 

Recipes:

Simply Green Beans
1 lb green beans
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons Parsley or herbs chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt

First take both ends off of the beans simply by snapping and put beans into a bowl. Blanch beans quickly in salted boiling water for about 1-2 minutes. Heat olive oil in a pan and add beans and garlic. Add herbs last and season to taste. For extra flavor add butter at the very end. To spice it up, add some chili flakes.

Candy Onion Compote
2 candy onions, peeled and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Cook the onions in butter and olive oil on low heat for 30 minutes or more. Onions will turn a light brown color and develop a caramel taste. Use this as a topping for most savory dishes. Variations: Add thinly chopped carrots and/or summer squash or green pepper for more variety.

Arugula and Romaine Salad with Roasted Tomato Dressing
Dressing:
1 large tomato or a few small tomatoes
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt

Chop the tomato into 3-4 larger pieces, and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 30-45 minutes or until somewhat dried out, but not dark. Place tomatoes in a blender or food processor. On low speed, add garlic and vinegar. Drizzle in olive oil, add the basil last and salt to taste.

Use this dressing on top of washed and chopped Arugula and Romaine together. The
romaine will balance out the spice of the Arugula and the sweetness of the dressing will compliment the two. Add the other tomato chopped on top, the cucumber or even blanched green beans.

CSA 2011 – Week 8: Crop Rotation and Irrigation 101

Last week’s discussion with John was so interesting that I decided to follow Joelene Jebbia, our Irrigation manager, around for an hour to learn more about what she does. She began similarly to John, socket wrench in hand out to fix a spigot in the circle garden’s irrigation riser. I spent most of this time just watching what she was doing, and gazing at the amazing array of tools she has in her truck. Once she changed the spigot, we headed out to a greenhouse thatrecently had a fall crop of potatoes planted in it. Joelene was setting up the drip irrigation in it since the seedlings had started to pop out of the ground. As she was busy doing her thing, I got to pick her brain about how she decides what gets planted where and how intensive irrigating all 50 acres really is.

She explained to me that she keeps a record of everything that we plant each year, how much of it, and when it is planted. This aids her in the winter when she plans out where everything is going to go. For next season, for example, it is good to know where brassicas (kale, cabbage, broccoli, etc.) were planted so that we do not plant onions in those places because they seem to do poorly in an area where brassicas once were. It is also important to not plant the same crop into the same ground consecutively. For example, if you plant arugula in one area, and the last of the planting got flea beetles, as it often does, and then you plant more arugula into that same soil, then that new crop will not thrive because there are already existing flea beetles in the soil that will eat it before it gets a chance to thrive.

As Joelene pulled the drip lines down the rows of potatoes, she elaborated that she also takes into consideration the micro-climates of each field. For example, how much sun the field gets, and what time of day it gets sun, compared to how much sun the potential crop likes. Thinking about whether the field is on high or low ground, therefore if it will be wet or just moist early in the season, is another huge factor.

Joelene explained that every year her plans get thrown off a little just by the weather patterns. For example, this year she planned to plant our onion crop just west of the compost piles, but when it was time to plant, the ground was way too wet to plant into. So, she shifted the plan slightly and it will work out. When deciding where everything gets planted, she also thinks about ease of watering, her other main task at the farm. She has to make sure that she will be able to access all of the crops with either overhead or drip irrigation and make it logistically workable for her.

Irrigation takes up a lot of her time year round, and most intensively this time of year. We grow crops in 31 different hoop houses that need to be watered on top of our outdoor crops. For the outdoor crop irrigation, Joelene and Sarah will start laying pipes down in April and continue through June until all the fields are set. Of course, there are a lot of repairs on pumps, drip lines, and pipes that go along with this.

This time of year is the busiest for keeping up with all of the watering, and outdoor watering will usually continue well into October depending on the season. The variability of the weather patterns plays a huge role in all of this, and working with mother nature seems to be your best bet. The potato house was all set up for watering, 2 of 4 that would get done today. After she placed her tools back in their locations, she drove to the tractor where she would begin her next task.

What’s in the box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (Rose Gold) – Steam, roast, or mash. These are versatile.
Carrots, bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw or stir fried.
1 bunch 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 chard– steam, or sauté these greens, much like spinach but not quite as tender.
1 purple pepper– It is wonderful grilled, sautéed, roasted, or raw.
Assorted Summer squash – Try them sautéed, grilled, in a soup or stir fried. Try hollowing out and stuffing the round ones with a grain mixture, goes well with cheese, meat, mushrooms, then bake or grill them for 15-20 minutes.
1 cucumber – Eat raw, on salad, or marinate them.
1 radicchio– They are wonderful grilled and topped with balsamic vinegar.
1 bunch cilantro– Make salsa with the tomatoes! Eat with cucumbers or squash.
Romaine lettuce – Make a salad, or add to sandwiches.
2 tomatoes – Chop raw on salad, sandwiches, or make salsa with cilantro and onions.
1 pint blueberries – I would be surprised if these made it home!

Stuffed Squash
4-5 assorted summer squash
3-4 small-medium Walla Walla onions, chopped
3/4 cup nuts, (almonds work best) ground
1 cup cooked brown rice, quinoa, or bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated cheese, (your choice, Swiss, cheddar or parmesan work well)
2 eggs
2 cloves finely minced garlic
Salt and pepper

For Zucchini, cut ends off and cut them in half long ways and scoop out the inside and set aside. For the rounded squash (patty pans or 8-ball) cut the first inch top off and scoop the inside out. Sauté the onions in olive oil, chop the squash flesh and squeeze any water out. Add this to the onions and cook a little longer. Beat the eggs and add to the nuts, rice (or grain of some sort), cheese, garlic, pinch of salt If the mixture is too runny add more of the grain. Stuff the squash with the mixture and bake in a slightly oiled pan at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Variation: add other spices if you would like, cilantro would go nicely, or even add some chopped tomato or chard.

Radicchio Salad
1 head of radicchio finely shredded
2 oranges, peeled and divided into sections
3 baby onions, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Dressing:
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt
Touch of sugar or honey

Place onions on an oiled cookie sheet and brush with olive oil. Bake at 300 degrees for several hours, until onions are dried out and brown. Mix radicchio with dressing and top with orange wedges and onion slices.
Variations: Add cucumber, grated carrots or peppers to this salad. Also, chop your head of lettuce and mix it in with the radicchio for a larger size salad for more people.

 

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 4: More than Just Farming

When you think about farms and farming, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For me six years ago, it was fields of plenty, chickens, cows – you know the picturesque version of Old McDonald. Since I began working on farms four years ago, my vision is a little different. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it; I love getting up at the crack of dawn to go pick lettuce, or getting to feel the warmth of the morning sun while washing potatoes. However, farmers, small and large, have to deal with regulations, certifications and logistics constantly, probably just as much as any other business if not more.

One of these logistics is our basic organic certification. Oregon Tilth visits us every year in order for us to hold our organic standing. We have to list everything we grow and everything we use in growing our vegetables. We are also in the process of being certified by the AJP (Agricultural Justice Project). AJP is mostly all about treating employees fairly, similar to a fair trade certification. We completed the process for AJP, and we expect to be certified soon. OGC (Organically Grown Company) is going to be requiring all of their produce providers to have the AJP certification by 2012. This is a must for us, since we sell them quite a bit of overflow produce throughout the year. The ODA (Oregon Department of Agriculture) also pays us a visit just about every year, but mainly to inspect our on-site kitchen.

Last week, we had a surprise visit from an OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) inspector. OSHA mainly ensures worker safety, and this inspection went pretty well, but it reminded us that being safe in a work place, especially a place with a lot of equipment, is key. This is just one of many hurdles that any organic farm that wants to function as a business must deal with. On top of worrying about seeding, transplanting, prepping ground, composting, harvesting , weeding, washing, and conducting all eight weekly markets, we have these certifications and inspections annually.

Overall, these certifications are positive because they are made to ensure proper treating of the land and workers, a type of check and balance. However, it makes one realize that in order to make a business out of farming, there are a lot of little details to work out and make note of. At the end of the day, it all seems worth it when you get to settle into a lovely bowl of salad greens, cucumber salad and grilled zucchinis. I will be dreaming of August heat and melons and forget all about the acronyms until they come knocking next year.

Lisa Hargest
CSA coordinator

What’s in the Box?

1.5 lb Colorado Rose Potatoes – These are best steamed or fried
Carrots, bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw or even 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 Cabbage – Make slaw! I like my slaw with a oil and vinegar dressing
1 pint Snow Peas – Eat them raw or do a quick sauté with butter or olive oil and salt.
1 bunch of Basil – Make pesto, add to pasta dishes, salads, or even sandwiches. See recipe.
Assorted Summer Squash (1lb) – Try them sautéed, grilled, grated raw, soup or stir fried.
Romaine Lettuce – Great for salads or on sandwiches, Romaine is the traditional Caesar salad lettuce. See recipe.

 

Recipes:

  • Basic Basil Pesto
    1 bunch of basil, leaves removed
    3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
    2 Tablespoons chopped nuts (almonds or pine nuts work best)
    2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
    Juice of 1 lemon
    Pinch of salt
  • Combine olive oil and garlic in a blender or food processor, blend for 1 minute, or until garlic is fine.
  • Add basil leaves and nuts, pulse until the basil is as fine as you would like it. Add lemon juice and cheese and pulse a but more.
  • Salt to taste.

You can do this by hand if you don’t have a blender or food processor, by hand chopping everything and mixing. Note, you don’t have to use the lemon juice if you don’t wish to, but it does keep the pesto from turning brown on top.
Use Basil Pesto as a topping for roasted or steamed potatoes, or a dip for carrots, cucumbers or peas.

  • Dan the Man’s cucumber salad
    3 thinly sliced cucumbers
    1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
    2 Tablespoons sesame oil
    2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 teaspoon maple syrup/ or honey
    Pinch of salt
  • Combine all the ingredients and let marinate for 30 minutes before eating.

    Variations:
    Add chopped baby onions or onion tops.
    Add snow peas, chopped cabbage or shredded carrots to make a more slaw-like dish.

Caesar Salad Dressing:
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, chopped
Pinch of black pepper to taste

Use this dressing on Chopped Romaine lettuce for a lovely Caesar salad. Add parmesan cheese or home-made croutons out of leftover bread on top.

Grilled Caesar Variation:  Try cutting the head of romaine into quarters and brushing with olive oil and grill about 1-2 minutes on either side. Take off the grill, chop or keep whole and dress the salad, serve warm right away.