Tuesday, August 31, 2010

10th CSA Week

Week 10???? How did we get here so fast. It's hard to believe its August 31st with the weather we had today and will continue to have for the rest of the week. 30 degrees of hot PEI weather, it would be good if I were a beach bum but harvesting veggies in that heat is rather tiring. Luckily we had a wonderful breeze all morning which made the harvest bearable.

We had a small turnout for our Saturday open farm day but those that were able to make it had a good time and we were glad to see all of those smiling faces, especially Angus!!!

I planted another round of veggies on the weekend including lettuce mix, spinach, Asian greens (komatsuna, bok choy, tatsoi), arugula, radish, baby carrots & mache. I may be pushing the lateness of the plantings but if we are going to have a nice warm fall we should have time for the veggies to mature enough to be able to harvest before the end of the CSA pick-ups in late October. I'm hoping to have lettuce mix in next weeks share, it has grown alot since last weeks rain storm.

This weeks large share includes:
carrots - wonderful sweet delicious carrots

beets (candy cane) - these beets are very pretty and oh so sweet. Simply cook as you would regular beets, they are not as dark as a regular beet but just as good if not better. I boiled a few and added into a stir fry this week and it was delicious

basil or parsley or lovage - fresh tomatoes and basil go perfect together. A simple toasted tomato sandwich with basil leaves, cucumber and cheese. Lovage can be used like celery and adds an awesome flavour when used to make soups, stews or chili.

Chinese cabbage - check out a new recipe below

kale- Kale is a super food. It is the same family as cabbage, broccoli & cauliflower but does not form a head as the others do. Kale is really yummy served with sausages in a soup or for a simply tasty treat check out the recipe below.

zucchini - over run with zucchini yet?check out the recipe below for a great way to use up these summer super stars

cucumbers - Cucumber sandwiches are also yummy with salt and pepper and mayo

red onions - chop up and add to a salad or stir-fry.

garlic - Everyone loves garlic!!!

yellow beans - this is our third bean planting and the harvest is huge again. We like to steam our beans and add butter, oh yum.

tomatoes - A mixture of slicers and cherries. Nothing beats fresh tomatoes. Layer tomatoes, basil and havarti dill cheese on your favorite bread and place in the toaster oven and enjoy.

The grab box included lots of the above and fennel green & purple cabbage & cauliflower. The small shares get to enjoy the broccoli florets this week.

Feature Recipes

Crispy Kale
1 bunch of kale
olive oil
coarse sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Wash the kale and trim it by stripping each half of the leaves away from the tough center stems.

3. Place leaves on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil to coat (I used about a tablespoon).

4. Spread leaves in a single layer and roast for 5 minutes. Turn the leaves over and roast another 5-10 minutes until kale begins to brown and is thin and brittle. Remove from oven and sprinkle generously with sea salt.

Serves 2

Zucchini Soup
In a large saucepan sauté 2 large onions in 1/4 cup margarine or butter until tender. Add 8 cups sliced zucchini, 4 cups hot water, 2 chicken bouillon cubes, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp celery salt, and seasoning salt. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat 5-10 minutes. Cool. Stir in 1/2tsp chopped parsley and dill. Whirl in blender 3 cups a a time till smooth. Bring to a boil. Serve hot or cold. This can be frozen for up to 6 months.
Makes 12 servings.
Thanks to Mary-Claire for this great recipe.

Asian cole slaw
Big hit at pot lucks

16 ounces of cabbage, shredded, or cut thinly ( I use a small/med head, somewhere around 6 cups)
you can do this with Chinese cabbage or broccoli slaw
1 pack of Ramen noodles (or any instant asian noodles), UNCOOKED
1/4 cup green onion chopped, or more, or red onion instead
big handfuls of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, toasted sliced almonds (any combination)
grated carrot, optional
chopped red pepper, optional

Put all of above into bowl, just smush up the noodles with your fingers - they are terrific and crunchy and absorb the dressing.
Whisk together :
3/4 cup oil (could be vegetable, olive, maybe with dash of sesame oil?)
6 T sugar
6 T vinegar (could be rice vinegar)
Dash of chili sauce?

Pour on top, at least 10 minutes before serving.
Thanks to Marti for this recipe

If you have any cauliflower left from last week here is a wonderful recipe to help use it up.
Cream of Cauliflower Soup II (from allrecipes.com)

2 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, chopped
2 (14.5 oz) cans chicken broth (I started with 4 cups)
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp dry sherry
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

In a large pot, over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent, about 5 mins. Stir in potatoes and carrots and cook 5 minutes more. Pour in chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in cauliflower, cover, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, 10 - 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Puree in batches in blender, food processor or with an immersion blender. Return to low heat and stir in milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and sherry. Heat through.
Thanks to Laura for sharing this recipe.

What's coming up in the garden? Leeks, winter squash (butter-nut, buttercup, blue Hubbard, delicata) cilantro, dill, greens, pumpkins & shallots.

Garden and harvest photos to come later this week!!!!

Bush delicata winter squash

Onions laid out to start the curing process, over 600 storage onions

Butternut winter squash

The latest plantings

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

9th CSA Week

Another beautiful CSA harvest day again, this summer is definitely going to go down as one of the nicest harvest summers on record, or for at least me anyway. The first summer I started farming full time I think it rained at least 1 day every week that was a harvest day and I mean it rained hard. This year the worst its been has been a light shower and even then it wasn't bad. I remember one day in 2008 when I had a friend visiting from Ontario it rained so hard that we had to take refuge in the greenhouse shed because it was coming down in torrents. Even a good rain suit that summer could not keep one dry.

It's hard to believe but this week marks the half way point of the 2010 CSA season and the height of the summer harvest is on which is reflect in this weeks shares, they are full full full. This weeks large shares include:

carrots - orange and purple. We decided to do away with the tops from here on out so just find an empty bag, throw them in and put in the fridge. The orange carrots are a variety called sweetness III and they live up to their name, very tasty. The purple carrots are called Purple Haze and are very nice sliced up and eaten raw. They are very pretty because the inside is orange and the outside is purple.

beets - we are finishing up the "bulls blood" beets this week and next week will be on to another variety in another part of the garden. If you are finding a build-up of beets why not do up a few bottles for winter eating? I love pickled beets, yum.

green cabbage - see below for a great recipe.

cucumbers - enjoy a nice summer cucumber sandwich with hummus or babaganouse

Zucchini - yup, more zucchini, and more next week. See below for a few new ideas sent in from fellow CSA members

Onions - White & red. Both are very sweet and would make a great addition to a stir-fry or a fresh summer salad.

Green & Yellow Beans - If your getting behind in your bean eating try blanching for winter eating. Simply bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and drop in cleaned & snipped beans into the water for 2-3 minutes. Immediately remove the beans from the boiling water into a dish of ice cold water and leave until no longer hot. Let them drain and then put on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer. When they are frozen put them in a freezer bag and they are all set for chilly winter dinners.

Cauliflower - This is the first year I have actually gotten cauliflower bigger than my fist. See pics below.

Broccoli florets - When the main broccoli head is harvested the plant produces tiny broccoli florets called side shoots. They are tiny but they are tasty.

Tomatoes - A few small slicing tomatoes, perfect for tomato sandwiches.
Cherry tomatoes - The first of the season's tomato snacks. The yellow ones are super sweet!!!

Potatoes - Red & White potatoes. I harvested the last of the red potatoes on Monday so enjoy this last taste until next season. I still have one row of superiors left so there will still be at least 1 more week of potatoes coming up.

Fennel - A very interesting herb. Tastes like black licorice. You can use the whole plant or just the bulb. See below for a easy yummy recipe. You can snack on the stalk, its actually a very refreshing mouth cleanser.

This Weeks Feature Recipes

Zucchini Pancakes:

3 small (8 ") zucchinis grated (squeeze out the liquid)
1 small onion finely chopped
1/2 cup flour (add more if needed)
1 tsp baking powder
salt and pepper
2 eggs
1 cup grated cheese

Cook just like regular pancakes (using oil/spray etc). Drop 1/4 cup batter on grill or frying pan.
****Thanks to Carolyn for this new recipe***

Cabbage Roll Stir Fry
One taste of this hearty supper and you'll wonder why you ever wasted time rolling cabbage. It tastes just as comforting, with one quarter of the prep time.
(from Meals in minutes, Chatelaine Food, Dec 2008)
1 Large Onion Chopped
1 lb ground beef or pork
28 oz (796-ml) can plum tomatoes drained and coarsely chopped
71/2 oz (213 mL) can tomato sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp each dried oregano and thyme leaves
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1 green pepper
1/2 cabbage

Lightly coat a wok or large saucepan with oil and place over medium-high heat. Add onion and crumble in beef/pork. Using a fork, stir frequently to keep meat crumbly until it is almost cooked through. 3-4 mins. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, and seasonings. Stir often until flavour develops, about 5 mins.
Meanwhile, slice green pepper into thin strips. Thinly slice cabbage. Add pepper and cabbage to pan, stir often uncovered until cabbage is tender, 4-5 mins. Taste and add salt if needed.
It's good on rice or mashed potatoes, or wrapped in a tortilla.
*** Thanks to Jody for this recipe***

Fennel & Carrot Side-dish
I came across this recipe on All-recipes.com last night and it was quite tasty and easy too.

1tsp olive oil
3 carrots, shredded
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/3 cup heavy cream
**I did not have all of those ingredients so I adjusted it and it still turned out yummy, see the bottom of the recipe for my alterations**

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the carrots and fennel, and season with coriander and fennel seeds. Cook until lightly brown. Mix in the heavy cream and reduce heat to low. Simmer until the cream has been absorbed into the carrots and fennel. Serve hot.
Jen's version - I really wanted to try this but didn't have all the ingredients so I winged it, something totally uncharacteristic but it turned out quite well. I did not have coriander or fennel seeds so I just used a few shakes of cumin instead. I also did not have heavy cream so I used 3/4 cup of whole milk instead. I also used a good dash of pepper and salt. I would not sit down and eat a whole plate of this but it made a nice side dish. I also did not cook the fennel long enough, it was a bit chewy so make sure you let it cook till its soft.

We defiantly have the nicest CSA members!!! Today I was given a loaf of freshly baked zucchini bread and a dish of freshly picked black berries. Needless to say I was not at all hungry when I got home from the pick-up. All I can say is thanks and YUM!!!!!

Absolutely delicious!!! And so pretty too. Thanks Laura!!!

Marti's oh so tasty blackberries. Gorgeous.

Derek and I found a giant cauliflower on Sunday

Almost as big as my head

I'm very proud of my super giant cauliflower!! I weighed it and it was over 5 pounds. Now that's a lot of cauliflower

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

8th CSA Pick-up

Greetings from the farm, its been a busy week as usual but the weather has been great and for some crazy reason the black flies have taken a break from their constant pestering and the boys and I have gotten outside lots the past few days to enjoy strolling around the farm, exploring under new rocks and just plain getting dirty by walking and crawling around in the dirt.

This weeks CSA baskets include a large bunch of rainbow or green swiss chard, carrots, beets, green onion, yellow & red cooking onions, green & yellow beans, garlic, broccoli or cauliflower, bok choi, cucumbers and zucchini. The grab box had some parsley, cilantro, red potatoes and lots of the previously mentioned veggies as well. We also had two large bins of cucumbers and zucchini again for people to enjoy. Today I harvested 115 large slicing cucumbers and 137 zucchini. Needless to say we are being overrun with these veggies. The beans are also doing very well so the large share received both yellow and green, a total of 80lbs of beans was harvested Monday and I'm thinking close to that again will be picked on Thursday. Normally my back would be aching by this time of the season but for some reason I'm not feeling the pain which makes harvest days much more enjoyable.

A very exciting thing to mention is our pole barn is finally taking shape. It's been a work in progress that started officially last fall with the pad prep but winter weather set in and nothing happened until this past week. Since Thursday the holes have been dug, poles erected, strapping on and now we're waiting on the trusses and steel. It's amazing how fast things can happen when everything falls into place. The babies and I have enjoyed strolling over the barn and watching the construction taking place. They are quite happy to sit in their stroller and watch the excitement.

Day #1 - Thursday

Digging the holes - ran into a bit of shale. Took longer than expected to dig the holes but he was finally able to break through it.

And the poles are in - Day #2

Checking out the view of the new barn from the top of the field

The boys supervising Daddy & Grampy as they work on the new barn - Day #3

Getting the strapping on

Farm Fresh Veggies perfect for the steamer!!! Yum.

Ben was very excited to find these tiny red potatoes in the porch. Best new toys ever!!!!

Jake really enjoyed eating them

Checking out the tomato situation with the boys

Me and my boys enjoying the lack of black flies, finally!!!

Jake having fun in the sun

Ben also having fun in the sun

Enjoy your veggies and the wonderful summer sun!!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Garden Update - New Pictures

Onions, leeks, beans, broccoli, cauliflower and more beans can be seen from this side glance of the garden

A tiny purple pepper

The last of the four bean plantings

Tiny green pepper on a very small plant

Green beans ready to be picked, any volunteers???

Lots of onions

The garden is growing very well this year. We have a pretty good handle on the weeds and thanks to lots of compost in the spring and a fantastic growing season things are doing very well. All the garlic is harvested and hanging in the loft of the barn to dry for a few weeks.

Garlic drying outside before being bunched

Bunched garlic heading for the barn

All the garlic hanging in the loft

I am on almost daily tomato patrol to search out those delicious sweet treats. A few golden cherry tomatoes here and there and one almost medium sized tomato, oh how I love my tomato sandwich season!!

If all of the tomatoes ripen in the patch its going to be a very big harvest!!

Four rows in total this year for the tomato patch. All staked and mulched, hoping for NO blight in my tomatoes this year.

The first almost ripe medium tomato

Golden Cherry Tomato, by far the best cherry tomato out there!!!

7th CSA Pickup

Today sure turned out to be a warm one. The morning started overcast and cool, perfect for harvesting and then just as I was finishing up the last bunches of veggies the sun came out in full force. Luckily I was then able to hide in the shade of the barn cleaning veggies and getting the boxes ready for the Charlottetown delivery.

This is our 7th CSA pick-up and I must say I am really enjoying my summer this year. After the season we had last year this feels like a very happy dream. Not going to the farmers market has been a very good decision and we are both happy to have full weekends here on the farm; not up late Friday night getting everything just right, then up way too early Saturday morning to finish up the last minute things and then try to get to market at a good time to set up and then stand on the concrete all morning hoping to sell all the veggies. Now don't get me wrong, I do miss the other vendors and our wonderful customers and of course the extra income was nice, but having a bit more of a life along with having more time with the boys is fantastic.

This week the shares include a large bunch of carrots, beets, lots of yellow and green zucchini, cucumbers, basil, curly parsley, beans, sweet white & red onions, green cabbage, lettuce heads, fresh garlic and a bag of red (Norland) and white (Superior) potatoes. The grab box had some broccoli, cilantro, dill, purple cabbage, swiss chard, kale and lots of other goodies. I also took a whole bin of extra yellow and green zucchini that were perfect for making loaves, lots of people took some home so I would imagine zucchini will be on the menu a few times this week : )

- Basil is one of my favourite summer treats, especially when the tomatoes ripen, nothing better than a toasted tomato and basil sandwich with havarti dill cheese. Yum Yum Yum. The basil in today's share should be kept in a glass of cold water and preferable changed every day or so. If you keep it in the fridge it will turn black.

- The parsley can be kept the same way or put in a bag and kept in the fridge.

- The cabbage should be put in a bag as I had to strip off several of the outer leaves due to critter damage. Don't worry I checked each one throughly to make sure no little Brookvale "friends" made their way to the big city.

A few recipes that might help you this week to make your way through the baskets. Happy eating.

"Mom's Yummy Cucumber Salad" (this was a family favourite while I was growing up)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
mix till dissolved
add either 1/4 cup cream or 1/4 cup milk (if using milk add just before cucumbers)
Either slice cucumbers thinly or grate cucumbers (remove seeds first), add all together and enjoy.
This is very yummy and goes with everything.

Chocolate-chip zucchini loaf
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp each baking soda and cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/3 cup oil
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups packed, grated zucchini
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray two 8x4 inch loaf pans with non-stick spray. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, apple sauce, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Stir in zucchini. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in chocolate chips.
4. Spread batter evenly in prepared pans. Bake of 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in centre of loaf comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes i pans. Remove from pans and let cool on a wire rack before serving.
Source: "Looneyspoons"

Zucchini Jam
6 cups zucchini
5 cups sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup crushed pineapple
2 boxes peach jello

Prepare zucchini (peel and slice and cut into small pieces). Boil till clear, 6-10 minutes (no need to add water). Add sugar, lemon juice and pineapple. Boil hard for 6 minutes and remove from heat. Add jello and stir until dissolved. Pour into sterilised jars. This is not the most nutritious recipe but I really like this jam in the winter on toast with peanut butter.

Stuffed Zucchini "boats"

Slice a zucchini in half lenghth wise and take scoop out the seeds and some of the inner flesh. Fry up some onions, garlic and hamburger along with celery and green peppers and fill the zucchini boats. Sprinkle on some grated cheese and bake in the over at 350 until everything is heated through and zucchini is tender, about 35-40 minutes

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

6th CSA Pick-up

Another successful Tuesday pick-up has come and gone and now its time to sit down and post my weekly CSA pictures and veggie recipes. The boys have just gone to bed but they are protesting, not keen on the seven oclock bedtime tonight!!! This weeks baskets include, carrots, beets, yellow and green zucchini, broccoli, "Superstar" white sweet onions, red onion, green beans, summer turnip, fresh garlic, purple cabbage, lettuce mix and a cucumber. I am very excitied about the broccoli in this weeks share. I have been growing broccoli for a few years but without any luck. But this year with the excellent growing weather we have had and lots of fertility in our soil we are having a great broccoli crop. The only thing disappointing is that I did not plant more!!!! Luckily the plants I have harvested should all produce side shoots so more broccoli can still be harvested. I have another succession of broccoli planted so hopefully it will do as well as the current planting.

Farm Fresh Carrots, fresh from the field

The summer turnips are coming to an end. The pesky critters that eat into them and create tiny little tracks are getting a bit out of control and I'm afraid this might be the last week for them. Try out the recipe below, yum yum yum!!!
Honey Peppered Turnips
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp honey
1 lb turnip (approx 1 small or half large turnip, cut into 1/4" cubes
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
chopped fresh parsley (if you have some)

Melt the butter with the honey in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the turnips and pepper. Cook, uncovered, until tender, about 12 minutes. Add salt to taste and sprinkle with parsley if you have some. Source:Greene on Greens

This week the color of cabbage is purple. This pretty purple treat is wonderful chopped in a salad or try the below recipie from Chef Michael Smith's new cookbook.
Apple stewed red cabbage
vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 head of red cabbage, thinly sliced
2 or 3 apples, cored and chopped
2 tablespoons of honey
a few splashes of cider vinegar
a few splashes of cider, apple juice or water
a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper

Splash vegetable oil into a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until they're golden brown. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another minute or so. Add the cabbage, apples, honey, cider vinegar and the cider (or apple juice or water). Season with salt and pepper.
Bring everything to a simmer and then lower the heat just enough to maintain the simmer. Cover iwth a tight-fitting lid and continue cooking until the cabbage is tender, about 30 minutes.
Source: The Best of Chef at Home. Chef Michael Smith

I could not believe the amount of zucchini I harvested today, it was unreal.

I took a whole tray of extra yellow and green zucchini along with summer squash to the pick-up and everyone took a few extra but I still have 3 full bins in the cooler. Zucchini cake anyone??? I have a great recipie somewhere for chocolate chip zucchini cake but I can't put my fingers on it. I'm not sure if you can see in the picture but there are tonnes of zucchini laying in the row waiting to be picked up. Tis the season for zucchini!!!

Harvested veggies waiting to head to the wash station

Sweet white and red onions

This past week was a bit rough on poor little Jake. Between blackfly bites, causing black eyes, a nasty bang on the head, swollen ear due to possible mosquito bite and general brusing due to falling and bumping into Ben. Below is a picture showing off a swolen lip and bumped head. Poor little monkey

Below is a picture of the rock Derek dug out of the field this week with the tractor. He said there is another piece at least as big still there. Now that is a big rock!!!!