Summer CSA Week 16

Howdy food sharers,

This past week was the week of squash. To be honest, I’ll probably never see that much squash again in one place. On Wednesday we harvested around 8,000 pounds of Delicata alone. As much as it feels like it will never end when we are in the middle of harvesting, the end results are very satisfying to look at. 4 tons of Delicata sitting on drying racks is a sight for sore eyes (and arms). It is also very funny to be using old bakery racks as storage racks. They sure do get the job done though.

Delicata are not the only variety of squash we are growing this year. The others include: Winter Sweet, Acorn, Kabocha and Sunshine. To be honest I think I would name my pet after these squashes. Maybe not Delicata though… I sometimes think that squash is such an interesting crop so I decided to do a little research to spice up this newsletter. Here are some fun facts about squash:

  • The name “squash” comes from a Native American word “askutasquash” which means “eaten raw or uncooked” which is….ironic. Or at least I have always cooked my squash.
  • Squashes are some of the oldest crops. Some estimates are at 10,000 years old. 
  • The regions of Mexico and surrounding Central American countries are where squash is originally thought to come from. 
  • We grow both summer and winter squash here at Food Farm. Summer squashes are harvested when they’re immature and their skins are still soft. For example, zucchini is a well-known summer squash. Winter squashes are harvested when their skin is hard, making them suitable for long term storage.

Pretty soon your summer CSA will be over and your household may start to accumulate more and more squash. Pumpkins will be on their way to you soon. Jack-o-lanterns will be carved. Pies will be baked. Although this is the beginning of the end of our time being your summer farmers, we still have a LOT to get done on the farm before freeze-up. Best of all, the autumn equinox is on Wednesday. According to the MN DNR Fall Color Finder, between 10-25% of our trees in the area are turning color. Fall has quickly become my favorite time of the year since I started farming.

I’m keeping this newsletter short and sweet, just like our acorn squash.

Thanks for tuning in,

Emily 

In your shares this week: Arugula – Beans – Carrots – Cucumbers – Red Russian Kale – Leeks – Onions – Parsley – Peppers – Potatoes – Acorn and Sunshine Squash – Tomatoes – Zucchini

Chinese Chard with Almonds by TasteofHome

Ingredients

1 bunch chard (about 1 pound), chopped (the Red Russian Kale this week is tender enough to use in place of Chard)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large sweet red pepper, cut into strips

1 large tomato, diced

1 small red onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh gingerroot

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

3/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Dash crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Directions

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 2 in. of water to a boil. Add chard; cook, covered, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain; set aside.

In same saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add pepper, tomato and onion; saute until pepper is crisp-tender, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute more. Stir in next five ingredients; add cooked chard. Cook and stir until pepper is tender, 3-4 minutes ; add lemon juice. Top with almonds.

Kale and Leek Gratin by Food & Wine

3 pounds kale, de-stemmed

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 

5 medium leeks, white and tender green parts only, sliced 1/4 inch thick

Salt

3 garlic cloves, minced

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2/3 cup all-purpose flour 

1 quart whole milk

1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Freshly ground pepper

Directions

In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the kale in batches until wilted, about 1 minute. Drain, squeeze dry and chop it.

Heat the oil in the pot. Add the leeks and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until tender, 7 minutes. Uncover, add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the kale, season with salt and remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 425°. Butter a 10-by-15-inch baking dish. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour over moderate heat to form a paste. Gradually whisk in one-third of the milk and cook, whisking, until the mixture starts to thicken. Repeat two more times with the remaining milk. Bring the sauce to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking often, until thickened and no floury taste remains, 15 minutes. Whisk in the cheeses and the nutmeg; season with salt and pepper. Mix the sauce into the leeks and kale. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Bake in the upper third of the oven for about 25 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown on top. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Summer CSA Week 13

Every day was super eventful on the farm this past week. The crew adjusted the solar panels along the driveway to match the sun’s fall position in the sky. We are also gearing up for the fall harvesting that will be happening soon, especially for the storage crops. On Wednesday we harvested about 13 tons of carrots – all before lunch. It’s days like those that really make us realize the impact we have on the local food system. Also, not to scare anybody but there are at least 30 more tons (hopefully) that still need to be harvested before late October. And those are just the carrots. Our list of things to do seems like it should be getting smaller but let’s be honest – it’s definitely going to get bigger.

Early this week we said a heartfelt goodbye to Karin who has been the backbone of the farm crew for 7 seasons. She will be deeply missed, but we all wish her the best of luck with this transition in her life. In her honor we built a huge shrine with some parts we found laying around in the barn and it’s just outside the pack shed so she is never forgotten. It doubles as a second bucket-drying rack. Just kidding – that’d be weird. But truthfully, she deserves the recognition for being so cool.

As many of you probably experienced this week, the air quality was very poor from the wildfires burning north of us. As a farmer, I never realized how much I had been taking good air quality for granted. Luckily, wearing a mask helps a lot. There was some rain at the end of the week (yay!) that helped improve the air quality. As a bonus we got to finally experience some autumn-ish weather that the storms brought with them – cool breezes and chilly mornings. Rain also gives us all some excitement knowing that our veggies will be that much happier.

Our newer hens have been adjusting nicely to their new home in the last month. They live on the far side of the farm in a mobile coop that gets moved every few days. This ensures the field they are in is getting an equal distribution of fertilization from the chickens. Earlier this season Farmer Janaki taught us that the fields that have had chickens rotated around in them are significantly more fertile than their non-chicken bearing neighbors. This is just another way the Food Farm builds soil and improves soil quality. What that means for our share members is more nutrient dense veggies.

Thanks for reading my first newsletter, I am excited to carry on this task.

Emily

In your shares this week:

Cucumber – Zucchini – Potatoes – Carrots – Hot Peppers – Red and Green Peppers – Onion – Dill – Tomatoes – Greens Mix – Beans – Beets

Zucchini Lasagna from PBS

  • For the Tomato Sauce:
  • 1 – 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes (or about 4 pounds of fresh tomatoes)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fennel seed, crushed slightly to release the flavor
  • 1 tsp. ground oregano
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped basil
  • 1 tsp. cane sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • For the Cheese Filling:
  • 1 pound of ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese)
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • For the Vegetables:
  • 2 to 3 medium-sized zucchinis, no bigger than 4 inches diameter (or 4 to 5 small zucchinis)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bunch of swiss chard or spinach (about 4 cups, chopped)
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. flour (can be gluten-free flour)
  • A dozen or so fresh basil leaves (optional)
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella (about 1 pound)
  1. Slice the zucchinis lengthwise to between 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Use a mandolin if you have one, it will help you slice the zucchini faster and in perfect consistent slices. Otherwise, slicing with a knife is fine too. Place the slices on a clean towel and pat the zucchini very dry. Rub 1 Tbsp of olive oil onto an extra-large baking sheet (or 2 smaller ones) and place the zucchini slices in a single layer. Roast in a 375F oven for about 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
  2. If using fresh tomatoes, deseed the tomatoes (if you wish remove the skins). Bring the tomatoes to a boil and add the minced garlic, chopped basil, crushed fennel seeds, ground oregano, olive oil, sugar, and salt to taste. Simmer until thick and reduced. It’s important to use a thick lasagna sauce in this recipe because the lasagna can otherwise be on the soupy side without the pasta to soak up the extra liquid as it bakes.
  3. In a large skillet or wok, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and sauté the onions for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking. Once the mushrooms are soft, add the chopped swiss chard. When the chard is cooked, remove from heat and drain any juices (save these for great soup stock). Add 2 Tbsp flour to the mixture and mix well to incorporate.
  4. Oil a 9 x 13 inch lasagna dish and spread about one third of your sauce on the bottom. Add a layer of roasted zucchini to cover the tomato sauce. Add the ricotta and parmesan cheese mixture and spread evenly. Add another layer of zucchini slices. Add a second round of tomato sauce and spread evenly, followed by the vegetable mixture and half of the shredded mozzarella cheese. Add a last layer of zucchini slices followed by the third and last round of tomato sauce. Place the twelve basil leaves on top of the sauce and sprinkle the rest of the shredded mozzarella on top. Pro tip: place a baking tray on the rack beneath the lasagna pan to catch any bubbling juices from falling to the bottom of your oven. Bake for about 40 minutes at 350F until the cheese is melted.

Cucumber Tomato Salad from Spend With Pennies

  • 2 cucumbers (sliced)
  • 2 large tomatoes (diced)
  • 1/2 onion (sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon of dill
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a boil and toss well.