FARM NEWSLETTER // WEEK 6
Good afternoon All!
I hope everyone had a great week! I know we've had our hands full over here as we're starting to gear up with harvesting some of the bigger varieties!
We are forever grateful to admire this sunset every night. Operating a CSA big enough to support our livelihood is a lot to tackle but its' so worth every ounce of sweat and tears. Having a CSA is what allowed us to dive into farming like we did. As first generational farmers we didn't even have a tractor when we started 10 years ago. I know many of you have heard our story before so I won't go on, but to start our business with the support of our community and having our income up front (i.e. CSAs), we were able to put our everything into our CSAs and it's brough us this far. Thanks to YOU! Whether it's your first year or 9th year with us, or anywhere in between, please know that we are proud to be your farmers and forever grateful for the opportunity to grow for your precious families!
I have to say, I get pictures and sweet emails from our CSA families with some regularity- one kid is eating salads (voluntarily!) and one kid tried kohlrabi and actually asked for more. Our kids are about that same age where they're making intentional choices in the kitchen and not just choices of convenience. It's a beautiful thing!! Karli (8) actually made a stir fry the other day!!! There was a LOT more olive oil than necessary, the potatoes were slightly crunchy, and she even added olives, lol, "Just anything in the fridge, right mom?" haha! We all ate it with smiles too- because this is the start of something BIG! As you're seeing those moments in your own houses, we're seeing them here too. Finally, the day has come, they'll actually purposefully try something new!!! In case you wanted her recipe- here it is! (I didn't get a picture of her actual dish)
I had a question come into my inbox this past week and it prompted me to share a little more about my schedule on the farm here. Mon-Tues-Wed-Thurs, we are harvesting, packing loading and delivering CSAs. Then Fri-Sat-Sun we are operating the farm stand over at the Hardware Hank in Zimmerman (the only one we operate!). I'm in charge of everything CSAs so Mon-Thurs I'm all hands on deck in the fields and pack shed. Friday is supposed to be my office day after we're done harvesting and loading Ben for the stand. Then Saturday Sunday are supposed to be my catchup days and time to spend with the kids around our harvesting schedules and taking care of the 50 pigs we have here.
You're probably thinking, maybe I should hire an assistant, right? That's what my mom says, too! Lol! But that's part of the charm of working with a small family farm. If I were to hire an assistant I would be robbed of what makes our farm our farm, that's YOU! I would be insulated from the day to day operations and requests, and that's just not where we want to see our farm end up. So there will not be any assistants in my future, but I do look forward to hiring more talented caring staff to join our already awesome crew!
When you're changing your CSA sites or donating your CSA for a week, picking up late, etc. I am happy to help you with making those arrangements, but please give me a few days heads up if possible. I realize not all requests can be made with any heads up- which is fine too! Having a heads up when you're able to, is appreciated :)
This week in your CSA you can expect:
Jumbos & Families: Spaghetti Squash, Green Beans, Zucchini, Pickles, Gypsy Peppers, & Carrots!
Singles: Green Beans, Zucchini, Slicing Cucumbers, Sweet Banana Peppers, & Carrots!
Green beans! I hear very often that many of you have fond memories helping your Grandparents or parents snap beans. My favorite way to make beans (the only way, now! lol!) is cooking them with garlic, a little olive oil or butter, and then adding lemon juice right at the end. The citrus is what makes them pop! Of course I do love raw beans and we eat them just as they are, but when they're a supper side I can almost guarantee you I'll be cooking them with garlic and lemon ;)
To store: Store unwashed beans in a perforated plastic bag in the veggie bin of your fridge for up to 1 week. Rejuvenate limp beans by soaking them in ice water for 30 minutes.
Handling: Remove strings and stems of fresh beans before cooking. When eating super fresh beans, you’ll notice that the beans don’t seem to have a “string” which is much more prominent in peas. When I eat beans out of the garden, I don’t peel any stings, I just snap off the end of the bean that is attached to the stem and eat them (the other end isn’t hard).
To cook: Steam or simmer fresh beans in boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Watch carefully for beans to brighten in color and become tender, but not soft or mushy. If you’re adding these into a stir-fry make sure to add them towards the end because they won’t take long to cook.
They are beautiful! I can't wait for you to see them!!
We like to include the greens when we can because they are edible and contain a great amount of nutrients. They can be used in smoothies, salads, soups, and even in sautés. Save the tops to use for a pesto or seasoning (store those in a bag in the fridge). Or put them in a plastic Ziplock in your freezer and use them to make DIY vegetable or chicken stock. In the latter portion of the season, the carrots usually don’t come with tops in-tact. It depends on the season; but if the tops are beat up by the weather, sunlight, animals etc. we won’t include them with the carrots because they don’t serve a purpose to provide.
The most important thing you need to know about your carrots!!
To store: To avoid “floppy carrots,” you need to remove the green tops as soon as you can, leaving about an inch of stems. If you can only do one thing to prep your veggies for storage, this should be it. Refrigerate these carrots in a plastic bag. You can also store them in a bin of water to keep them crisp, changing out the water every few days.
To use: Garden carrots don’t need to be peeled but can be if that’s your preference. Boil 2-inch cubed carrots in rapidly boiling salt water, uncovered, for 7-10 minutes. Eat carrot spears plain or dipped in hummus, peanut butter, or creamy dressing. Combine carrots with other
root vegetables for a roasted vegetable platter.
Zucchini! Look at this little fella pollinating the zucchini flowers! Did you know, there are male and female zucchini flowers? The males are on a thinner stem towards the center and the female flowers are the ones that actually produce the zucchinis. Bees have to go back and forth carrying pollen to produce the zucchinis, but each zucchini plant has both male and female flowers (unlike some other varieties).
If you're new with us this season I want to take a second to explain the harvest schedules of different varieties. Zucchini, pickles and slicing cucumbers for example, are all picked every other day. Literally! Then there are some varieties that are only harvested once, for example a head of broccoli is only cut when it's big enough right? Well zucchini and cucumbers are different in that they're constantly putting on new flowers and new "fruits". They will continue at this rate until the plants die.
We don't want to oversaturate your CSAs with zucchini or cucumbers but this season we have a few varieties that should have been ready already and they're not. For example, the cabbage and cauliflower, the muskmelons, and a few others, just haven't gotten big enough when last season at this time they were. Our planting schedules stay very similar from season to season, but the weather that mother nature throws at us changes every day, week, month, you get it. Please be aware that we do our best to balance the varieties you're getting every week and we'll continue to monitor the other trouble-maker varieties that aren't ready yet this season.
Banana Peppers and Gypsy Peppers are very similar with a few differences. Banana peppers don't have as thick of a flesh as gypsy peppers, they're a bit thinner. Gypsy peppers remind me of a bell pepper when they're cut up. At this time of the season, both banana and gypsy peppers are a pale yellow but mid-season they'll start to ripen into some brilliant oranges and reds!
I realize we're just getting into peppers now so you're likely not starting to tuck anything away in your freezer but if you are- peppers are the basically the easiest thing on the farm to freeze. All you have to do is cut them into pieces and put them in zip lock bags, depressing all the air that you can. Keep in mind when you take them out they're slightly softened but they're still great for a lot of dishes. My favorite is adding them to my hamburger when I make sloppy joes or tacos for example. That might seem weird to some, but we try to fit veggies in wherever we can! We freeze peppers and onions every season without fail because they're so important to us!
Spaghetti squash! This is one that you might not be super familiar with, or it could be your absolute favorite! It took me a while to jump on the bandwagon for these but now that I understand how to cook them and how to rake the flesh out with a fork, their texture makes a lot of sense and holds a lot of value in our kitchen. The Family & Jumbo Shares are getting spaghetti squash this week! They are ripe when they're picked so you don't need to necessarily let them sit on the counter to ripen, but they will hold at room temperature for a very long time. We had one last 3 months last season!
They are often baked or boiled and then the mildly sweet flesh is combed out and topped with spaghetti sauce. To bake, slice in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds, and place face-down on cookie sheet. Add a 1/2 inch water to the pan to avoid drying out. Sometimes I'll wrap it in tin foil too. Bake at 400 degrees. Squash will need about an hour to cook, depending on size. Cook until tender (can be punctured with a fork with little effort). Comb the flesh out with a fork, and serve hot with butter and parmesan cheese or your favorite tomato sauce on top.
I promised the girls if they shucked corn for me (it's a lot, lol) so that I could freeze it later that I'd take them shopping. Gotta have time to squeeze in a little fun too, and this is their first choice! (Whose kids are these? lol!) William is at the stand with Ben today, so it's just me and my girls!! I'm looking forward to some fun this afternoon with my little ladies <3
Thank you for joining us this season, we've got a lot of goodies ahead of us still!!
Stay well Friends,
~The Farmers Wife