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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

2015 CSA Week 12

Hello friends,

Boy, this summer is going fast! I'm so glad we are getting such amazing fresh produce from Sustainable Harvest Farm for another month! Wait 'til you see below - sweet corn is ready! I'm excited!

In shares this week...

Item How to store it How long will it last?
Peppers washed or unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Early Tomatoes room temperature ~1 week
Cucumber washed or unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Eggplant unwashed, wrapped in a paper towel and placed in a reusable container or perforated plastic bag in the crisper section of your refrigerator 5-7 days
Sweet Corn shucked (my preference) or with husks on in the coldest part of your fridge (usually the bottom vegetable crisper) Enjoy as soon as possible!
Melons fridge or room temperature Enjoy as soon as possible!
Green Beans unwashed in fridge 3-4 days
Basil store in an unclosed container in fridge, or snip off bottom of stalks and immerse in water 1-2 weeks

From Amanda...

It is now week 12 of our regular summer CSA share program which means there's only one month to go! Wow! It seems like summer just began, but already the "return-to-school-rush" and preparation for fall are upon us. We hope you're enjoying the harvest and the summer.

This week you'll be getting a break from the steady flow of squash and zucchini in exchange for eggplant, green beans, sweet corn, melons, basil, cucumber, tomatoes, and peppers. It is such a good time of year for fresh veggies! Please take advantage of these great products while they are at their peak. You may have noticed that the long, slender eggplants in your share aren't the typical grocery store variety. We love these because they're a little more tender and less fibrous than the larger, pear-shaped variety. They're great sliced and sauteed in olive oil for pastas, pizza topping and more, but, if you like hummus, you may also love a wonderful, creamy eggplant dish called Baba Ganouj. The recipe is provided below.



Baba Ganouj
from the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen
(*note from Amanda - This freezes really well so whip some up, freeze it in a freezer bag and forget about it until you want a fresh, healthy dip at a fall party or a great vegetarian sandwich spread!)

2 medium-small eggplants (up to 3 if they are the small slender variety like the ones in your share)
Juice from one good-sized lemon
½ cup tahini (sesame paste – check the health food/organic section at Kroger to find this locally)
3 medium cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup finely-chopped parsley
1 tsp salt (more, to taste)
¼ cup finely-minced scallions (optional)
lots of fresh black pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 400oF.
Remove stem-ends and prick eggplants all over with a fork. (WARNING – if you don’t do this, they’ll explode!)
Roast 45 minutes. (When they are sagging, wrinkled, crumpled and totally soft, you’ll know they’re ready.)
Remove them from the oven to cool a bit, then as soon as you can touch them, discard the skin, scoop out the flesh and mash well.
Combine with all remaining ingredients except olive oil.
Chill completely, and drizzle the oil over the top just before serving.

(Note from Nancy: I love baba ganouj and will be making this! Thanks Amanda!)

We also hope your are enjoying our fresh, tasty melons. I know, they're super cheap at the grocery store right now but you just can't match the flavor of FRESH, LOCALLY GROWN, USDA-CERTIFIED ORGANIC melons! The only catch is that, despite our BEST efforts, we occasionally harvest a melon that has all the marks of ripeness but is STILL not quite ripe. See the photo below of a "test kitchen" trial about 2 weeks ago. We cut open about 6 watermelons and only 1 was perfectly ripe.


....so, we waited a little longer to begin harvesting them for you. We hope yours is perfect but if it's not, let us know and we'll do our best to replace it with another melon or a product of equal value.

We also sometimes have interesting experiences with our plants and veggies when there's a little glitch in our production system. Ford had a few extra melon plants in the greenhouse that never made it into the field (we over seed just a little in case there's a mishap in the greenhouse). Those neglected little plants were determined to pass on their DNA so, they fruited while still in a seeding tray and produced these cute little melons. Finley insists that we should use them for decoration around the house but his curious little mind also figured we better try one to see if it's ripe. This was the result: a golf ball sized melon that was pink (and tasty, according to Finley) on the inside! Who knew!
Happy melon eating!

####

Here's a nice fresh summer salad recipe found on Sparkpeople.com that utilizes some of the items in this week's shares - corn, cucumber, tomatoes and basil, and includes a great multipurpose vinaigrette recipe. You could even add beans. I can live on this stuff! Click on link for full recipe.

Summer Vegetables in a Basil Vinaigrette


Here's to healthy living and eating!

~ Nancy

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

2015 CSA Week 11

Hello,

Hope everyone's summer is going well! As usual, be sure to send me or Amanda any recipe ideas with photos!

In shares this week...

Item How to store it How long will it last?
Peppers washed or unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Tomatoes room temperature ~1 week
Cucumber washed or unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Summer Squash and Zucchini unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Cabbage unwashed in fridge 2-3 months
Melons fridge or room temperature Enjoy as soon as possible!
Green Beans unwashed in fridge 3-4 days
Basil store in an unclosed container in fridge, or snip off bottom of stalks and immerse in water 1-2 weeks
Fresh red or white Onions unwashed in fridge ~1 week

From Amanda...

New items in your share this week include melons, green beans and fresh white or red onion bulbs.

You probably have no trouble thinking of ways to enjoy fresh melon, but I would like to offer some guidance on the onions and green beans. Much like our fresh garlic bulbs, the fresh onions may look like grocery store varieties but they have NOT been dried and they won't last in a dark spot in your kitchen cabinet for weeks. Use them up right away. Enjoy their intense flavor and, put what's leftover in your fridge. I LOVE fresh onions with soup beans, cornbread, and fresh tomatoes.

The stringless green beans in your share are NOT like the green beans used for canning. If that's your favorite way to eat green beans, then check out this blog post from 2013 with my own recipe for turning "Fresh Pick" green beans  into a side dish like my grandma use to make. If you're not a fan of overcooked, southern-style green beans, you can stir fry or blanch them until bright green and enjoy a crisp, tender bean. (Nancy's note: add sliced almonds, too!)

#####

I see the makings for a wonderful summer salad with most ingredients from this week's bounty!
Here's an interesting take on the http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/tomato-and-cabbage-tabbouleh site:


Tomato and Cabbage Tabbouleh
A proper tabbouleh will be mainly vegetables and herbs, with just a smattering of bulgur threaded through.

Ingredients
Servings: 8
1 cup bulgur (not quick-cooking)
½ medium head green cabbage, cut into 1”-thick wedges, then very thinly sliced crosswise (about 4 cups)
1 small sweet onion (such as Vidalia), finely chopped (use fresh onion in share)
4 cups assorted small tomatoes, halved, quartered if large
3 cups coarsely chopped fresh mint (add the basil from the share)
¾ cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or ½ crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt

Preparation
Place bulgur in a large bowl and add 1½ cups boiling water. Let soak until softened and water is absorbed, 40–45 minutes.
Toss bulgur, cabbage, onion, tomatoes, mint, oil, lemon juice, and Aleppo pepper in a large bowl to combine; season with salt.
Do Ahead: Tabbouleh (without oil and lemon juice) can be made 4 hours ahead. Toss with oil and lemon juice just before serving.
Recipe by Anissa Helou
Photograph by Peden + Munk

Bon appetit, for sure!
~ Nancy

Monday, July 13, 2015

2015 CSA Week 10

Greetings,

Will this weather ever settle down? Maybe not, so let's just enjoy each long day of our summer, especially when we can eat this well!

In shares this week...

Item How to store it How long will it last?
Peppers washed or unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Tomatoes room temperature ~1 week
Cucumbers washed or unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Summer Squash and Zucchini unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Swiss Chard washed & thoroughly dried or unwashed, in fridge, sealed in container or plastic bag 1-2 weeks
Cabbage washed or unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Eggplant room temperature 3-4 days
Sweet Corn shucked or with husks on in the coldest part of your fridge (usually the bottom vegetable crisper) Enjoy as soon as possible!
Basil store in an unclosed container in fridge, or snip off bottom of stalks and immerse in water 1-2 weeks

One of the Waterstrat's favorite recipes, Zucchini Cheddar Squares, is a creamy, delicious casserole full of zucchini and cheese that is perfect in any shape (like the round dish below)!  Just add a salad, like the Creamy Mexican Kale Salad I found (recipe below) to make a complete meal with almost all of the veggies in your share!



Zucchini Cheddar Squares
from Serving Up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman

- 3 cups grated zucchini
- 2 tsp salt
-1½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cups grated Cheddar (I prefer sharp or extra sharp.)
- 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
-1 tsp freshly ground black pepper or lemon pepper
-1/2 cup canola oil
- 3 large eggs

Combine the zucchini and salt in a colander and toss to mix. Set aside to drain for 30 minutes. Squeeze out excess water.
Preheat oven to 350oF.   Grease a 7- by 11- inch baking dish with butter or use cast iron skillet.

Stir together the flour & baking powder in a medium bowl.  Add the onion, zucchini, cheese, thyme, and pepper.  Mix well with a fork, breaking up any clumps of zucchini.

Whisk together the oil and eggs and pour into the zucchini mixture, and thoroughly combine.

Spread evenly in the baking dish.

Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature or serve immediately as a warm, cheesy casserole.

#####

This salad from the website ifoodreal.com utilizes kale, tomato and corn from our shares.


Healthy Creamy Kale Salad

Ingredients
Salad:
4 cups baby or full-grown kale (stalks removed & coarsely chopped), packed
14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed (I used my cooked beans)
1 cup corn (thaw if using frozen)
2 large bell peppers (any colour), finely chopped
1 + 1/2 large avocado, finely chopped
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 tbsp jalapeño peppers, seeded & minced
Dressing:
1/2 large avocado
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 lime, juice of
1 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Directions
Add Salad ingredients to a large bowl. In a food processor, blender or Magic Bullet, process Dressing ingredients until smooth. Pour over salad, toss and serve. P.S. You could prepare Salad and Dressing in advance and combine before serving. The Dressing does get brown a bit but once mixed with the Salad, it's not noticeable.

Storage Instructions: Refrigerate tossed or separately for up to 24 hours.

#####

And, eggplant! I love it! The eggplant SHF grows is not the large, pear-shaped variety. They're long and slender and closer in size to zucchini.

This recipe on the same website ifoodreal.com looks super yummy and healthy.



Low Fat Roasted Eggplant & Feta Dip

I found gluten free chips at Aldi's that would go really well with this dip.
Enjoy and have a great week!

~ Nancy

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

2015 CSA Week 9

Greetings,

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend and had some fun between the rain drops!

In shares this week...

Item How to store it How long will it last?
Peppers washed or unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Tomatoes room temperature several days
Cucumbers, 1 or 2 washed or unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Summer Squash and Zucchini unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Kale washed & thoroughly dried or unwashed, in fridge, sealed in container or plastic bag 1-2 weeks
Cabbage washed or unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Cornmeal store in fridge, sealed in container or plastic bag weeks
Kohlrabi washed & thoroughly dried or unwashed, in fridge, sealed in container or plastic bag 1-2 weeks
Basil store in an unclosed container in fridge, or snip off bottom of stalks and immerse in water 1-2 weeks

From Amanda...

The July issue of Southern Living has a recipe that should have Sustainable Harvest Farm CSA written on top.  The recipe for Broiled Pork Chops with Basil Butter and Summer Squash includes 3 items from your share this week AND you can buy your pork chops from Ford when you pick up your share at the Somerset or London Farmers Market.


Another recipe you might enjoy are these Polenta-Stuffed Peppers from the Vegetarian Times.  I love to make stuffed peppers and, with a small tweak, you can make this one with the peppers and cornmeal from your share.  Simply replace the instant polenta with our cornmeal and prepare as directed.  Because the cornmeal is a little more finely ground, it will cook just fine in 5-7 minutes – but be sure to whisk thoroughly to keep it from clumping.  …also, I’ve found that polenta is MUCH creamier with a little butter and/or cream so, if you’re not afraid of the calories, add a few tablespoons of butter and whisk in a little cream or whole milk for a smooth, creamy consistency.

These sound wonderful, Amanda!

As for me, I continue to enjoy my beautiful, colorful meals with the week's bounty. This week, I seasoned the veggies with my fresh herbs, basil, oregano, even mint and spooned them over a combination of lentils and quinoa I cooked in vegetable broth. I like the consistency of the combination - not too soupy and not too dry - just right! I'm totally satisfied after these meals!


  Enjoy!
~ Nancy

Monday, June 29, 2015

2015 CSA Week 8

Greetings,

In shares this week...

Item How to store it How long will it last?
Peppers washed or unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Tomatoes room temperature several days
Cucumbers washed or unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Summer Squash and Zucchini unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Swiss Chard washed & thoroughly dried or unwashed, in fridge, sealed in container or plastic bag 1-2 weeks
Broccoli or Cabbage washed or unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks

As stated on the site: http://gluten-dairy-sugarfree.com:
Were you totally aware that tomatoes are one of the top 12 foods you should always buy organic, because of their thin skins and tendency to retain pesticide residue.  Non-organic produce not only contains traces of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, but also contains fewer nutrients because it is often a mass-produced monoculture grown in poor soil that has been stripped of nutrients from too many years of growing the same crop.

With the 4th of July holiday approaching, and if you are watching your gluten, sugar and dairy intake, this is a beautifully simple yet tasty salad using tomatoes and cucumbers. Add chopped green peppers, too!

Tomato Cucumber Cilantro Salad

Just chop each ingredient, add a fresh squeeze of lime, and season with sea salt and cracked pepper.

1 cucumber
2 ripe organic tomatoes
1 bunch scallions
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 lime
1/4 tsp sea salt
fresh cracked pepper

#####

From Amanda...

Here's a cool hummus recipe that incorporates Swiss Chard from site food52.com:


Tara Duggan's Chard Stalk Hummus
By Genius Recipes • June 23, 2015
Makes 1 cup

Chard stalks from 1 pound whole chard, trimmed and chopped
1 whole clove garlic, peeled
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the stalks until very tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Drain.

Place the garlic in a food processor and pulse until chopped. Add the chard stalks and purée, then add the remaining ingredients and process until very smooth.

Transfer to a shallow bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and serve at room temperature. The hummus also can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature before serving.

#####
On another note:
Update from the farm

Summer is in full swing. Favorite summer veggies like squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes are plentiful, these beautiful sweet potato vines are really taking off, and we’re scrambling to keep our farm’s finest produce out of the hands of our sneaky, four-legged neighbors.

The most recent acts of wildlife thievery have been from groundhogs. They’re really cute - like big, floppy, cuddly animals your children would like. One in particular likes to lay on the warm pavement in front of our house and I always think he’s injured until I get close and he scurries away. Those furry creatures seem cute and pleasant but I’ve learned that the groundhogs on Pistol Creek Road are NOT nice neighbors, particularly for farmers.

This year groundhogs have eaten no less than 200 young, tender fennel plants, 100 tomato plants, countless green beans, and more. …and once the young plants are snatched from the field, there’s not much you can do. We started the seeds weeks before in the greenhouse, so when the plants in the field are gone, if we don’t have extras going in the greenhouse, that crop is essentially gone for the entire season.

There’s no 24-hour super center for USDA-certified organic vegetable plants and, due to timing issues, sometimes it’s not even practical to try to start new plants from seeds. …so, farmers must plan carefully to have enough crops for all customers with enough excess to account for unexpected damage or loss but not so much excess that we are wasteful or compromise our profit margin. This is tricky because every year is different and the crop that the produces abundantly one year may be the one that is compromised the next. That’s why I’m so thankful that Ford is so smart, resourceful, and hard working. You won’t believe some of the cool tricks he uses to protect your food from our four-legged and winged neighbors.

So what did we do about the groundhogs? Ford went on a wild groundhog chase in the field last week that culminated in his throwing a box (open-side down) on top of a young groundhog. He thought he’d captured the little guy but, ironically, the box landed right on top of one of their burrows so it escaped into the earth. …almost too cartoon-like to believe.

Since running like a wild-man out in the field to chase surprisingly fast groundhogs is neither practical or successful (and potentially dangerous – they’re not as friendly as they look), my crafty husband uses tricks like this electrified netting to create a fence between the groundhogs and the veggies. It doesn’t even go all the way around the crops but it’s enough to create an effective barrier that fools the groundhogs and redirects their attention to other sources of food.

As you probably know, crows also prize young corn plants and ears of corn. One way we combat those feathered “friends” is with the tape from old VHS cassettes. That’s right. We take old VHS videos (I know, our kids don’t even know what those are), rip out the tape and hang them up in the corn field. It deters the crows. If you have old VHS cassettes you plan to discard, please consider donating them to us. We can always use extra tape in the corn.
The story doesn’t end there, however. In just a few weeks Ford will be using the same electrified netting to keep raccoons out of our sweet corn. Their nimble hands find the golden ears at their peak so if we aren’t careful, we’ll find evidence of a raccoon party in the corn field with only empty shucks on the ground.

We use single strands of electrified wire with metal squares covered in peanut butter to keep deer away from fruit and young plants. The deer are enticed by the smell of peanut butter but, upon tasting, they receive a mild shock that lets them know the area inside the fence is off-limits. Can you imagine getting shocked the next time you sneak into the peanut butter jar? We also use solar-powered, flashing, red lights to discourage the deer in areas where the electric fences aren’t practical.

The moral of the story? Farmers have to work extremely hard to grow food in ideal conditions, and they are always facing interesting new challenges presented by wildlife, weather, and all the things that everyone else faces when it comes to work / personal life balance. We hope it encourages you to know that we protect your crops in safe, humane ways that do not involve dangerous chemicals or unnecessary cruelty. We love living and farming out here even if it means finding creative ways to coexist with our four-legged and feathered neighbors. Thank you for supporting us and making it possible for us to do what we love in a way that we believe it should be done.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

2015 CSA Week 7

Greetings friends,

Can you believe it's been 7 weeks already? I know I feel the healthiest I've been in months from eating all the fresh organic produce provided so graciously by our hosts the Waterstats. They obviously work very hard in order to supply so many people with perfect food. I suggest we all take the time to thank them in an email or better yet, in person at the farmers markets. Thanks Ford, Amanda and boys!

In shares this week...

Item How to store it How long will it last?
Fresh Garlic unwashed, in fridge up to 1 week
Kohlrabi washed or unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Summer Squash and Zucchini unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Cabbage washed or unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Cucumbers washed or unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Basil stored in an unclosed container in fridge, or snip off bottom of stalks and immerse in water 1-2 weeks
Early Tomatoes room temperature several days

From Amanda...

The fresh basil in your share marks the height of summer flavor.  Add it to almost ANYTHING.  Although you'll receive a small quantity this week, look for more in the weeks to come!

Fresh garlic is a delight.  If you've never had the pleasure of enjoying freshly harvested garlic, you may be surprised, as I was, at just how nice and vibrant it is compared to the dried version in grocery stores.  For a lovely description of fresh garlic and step-by-step instructions for how to get the most out of every single morsel of your garlic, check out Fresh Garlic from Chocolate and Zucchini.



fresh garlic bulb - photo from Chocolate and Zucchini site.
Another new item in your share this week is cabbage.  I was never a big fan of cabbage until I tried the small tender heads that we grow here on our farm.  They are much more flavorful and tender than the large, mostly-white cabbage heads my grandparents grew.  These little beauties are delicious finely chopped in slaw or a salad like the famous house salad at Alfalfa in Lexington or slaw but our all-time favorite cabbage recipe is the simple, creamy cabbage casserole below.


Creamy Cabbage Casserole

1 small cabbage head, washed and cut into slender wedges

½ tsp salt

½ cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

1 small onion, finely chopped

½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Dash of paprika or ground red pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

-Bring pot of water to boil (enough to immerse all cabbage wedges simultaneously).-Immerse cabbage in boiling water for about 4-5 minutes, then drain.-Combine cabbage with salt, yogurt and onion and spread evenly into a 8x8” square baking dish.-Top with shredded cheddar and paprika/ground red pepper.-Bake for 30 minutes.
 *Note – this is very easy to double if you have two small cabbage heads or one large cabbage head. Just prepare in a 9x11” casserole dish.
##### 

I'm still enjoying chopping everything up and cooking in my wok with a little coconut oil & olive oil and water to steam, adding fresh herbs from my garden with other spices. I will cook either rice or lentils then ladle the veggies on top. One trick I've learned to complete the different tastes is squeezing lemon juice while cooking. Try it, you'll love it!

Have a great week!
Nancy

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

2015 CSA Week 6

Greetings,


Everything should be familiar in this week's shares EXCEPT the garlic scapes. These are beautiful and tasty morsels. See Amanda's description and photos below.

In shares this week...

Item How to store it How long will it last?
Swiss Chard washed & thoroughly dried or unwashed, in fridge, sealed in container or plastic bag 1-2 weeks
Kale washed & thoroughly dried or unwashed, in fridge, sealed in container or plastic bag 1-2 weeks
Summer Squash and Zucchini unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Bell Peppers washed or unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Cucumbers washed or unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Garlic Scapes washed or unwashed in fridge 1-2 weeks
Tomatoes room temperature several days

I really enjoyed the tomatoes from last week. I chop them into salads and pasta, then made big slices for sandwiches. Heaven!



From Amanda...

Garlic - a primer
In the spring and early summer, our garlic plants send up lots of long leaves and a thin shoot with a few interesting loops and a little knot called a "scape."  It is essentially the "flower" of the garlic plant although it doesn't actually look like a flower.


Finley dissected one in the field and exclaimed - "Look, there are garlic babies inside!"  



We clip these thin, curly shoots and scapes for two reasons: 1) they are delicious! and 2) it allows the plant to direct energy into the roots for a better harvest of garlic bulbs in the fall.  You can think of these as you might green onions - thin, tender versions of the familiar bulb.  Grill or sautee them as you might any other green vegetable and serve them as a flavorful side alone or mixed with other veggies.  If you're not a huge garlic fan and you'd prefer to use them as an accent rather than a main ingredient, chop and sautee them and add them into a salad, hummus, or pesto or create your own herbed butter.  The good news is, you can't go wrong. Enjoy!

#####

We express special thanks to Dr. Tara Horn for this beautiful shot of bok choy sauteed in sesame oil, soy sauce, and garlic.  We LOVE seeing the creative ways our CSA members enjoy products from the farm and this lovely photo and simple recipe delighted us.  Thank you Dr. Tara Horn!


 Have a great (and nutritious) week!
~Nancy