Summer CSA Week 18

That’s right farm sharers… It’s the final countdown (insert Europe guitarist). I think every one of us on the farm is shocked that the final CSA delivery is upon us. Not only because it’s still in the 70s during the day, but it also seems like only yesterday we were on the back of the transplanter planting the first of thousands of veggie starts. I don’t think we could have done it without that life-saving, and back-saving implement. Moreover, we could not have done it all without the support of our community and share members. It is all of you that keep the farm afloat and drive us to be the best farmers we can be. 18 weeks of shares have gone by in the blink of an eye yet we have so much to show for it. We have fed hundreds of people fresh, local, and organic veggies all while sustainably stewarding our farm.

This is not to say that with the end of the Summer CSA that comes the end of our work on the farm. In fact, we are just starting most of the large scale projects that will prepare us for our ’21-’22 Winter CSA, winter wholesale orders, and winter itself. On the farm hand side of things, this means clearing out the greenhouses, harvesting insane amounts of carrots, potatoes, beets, rutabagas, parsnips and cabbage, taking down trellises, and stowing the irrigation pipe that got our plants through this brutal summer. On the Janaki side of things, this means ensuring that fields are seeded with cover crops, compost is produced to feed our soil microbes, and operating the tractors so that us farm hands do not suffer at the expense of the insane amount of carrots I mentioned. Of course these aren’t the only things we will be doing over the next month, but you get the idea.

Just as we’re putting the farm to bed, we’re including a few sprigs of lavender in your share, long used as an aromatherapy sleep aide.

Here’s a list of things I have learned this season, even though nobody asked for it:

  • Do not waste time picking burs off of Chester. He will only come back around covered in more. He is also a professional skunk hunter and deer carcass finder.
  • Driving a very old tractor (we call it Stubby) is very fun and also terrifying at the same time.
  • Pigweed is a noxious plant that really makes you question whether or not being an organic farm is really worth it… (It is).
  • When a bee colony swarms they are actually super calm because they are not protecting their queen or hive anymore. I once walked through a swarm of thousands of bees to feed the chickens.
  • Raccoons sneak onto the farm for our tiny corn patch and nothing else.
  • Aside from the skunks that Chester brings around, the worst smell on the farm is hands down the smell of rotting daikon radish.
  • Do NOT harvest beets without gloves on unless you want to look like a murder suspect.
  • There is no such thing as a free meal.

Once again, we could not have done it without all of your support this season. We look forward to feeding you again in 2022. Until then, we will be here waiting and working the land to ensure you all receive high quality veggies next time around.

Take care,

Emily

“Agriculture is the noblest of all alchemy; for it turns earth, and even manure, into gold, conferring upon its cultivator the additional reward of health.” – Paul Chatfield

In your shares this week:

Beets – Carrots – Cilantro – Collar Greens – Lavender – Lettuce – Yellow Onions – Sweet Red Peppers – Hot Peppers – Potatoes – Rutabagas – Red Shallots – Delicata and Kabocha Winter Squash

A wonderful rainbow that made an appearance after we were rained on all day.
An absurdly large daikon radish that is destined for Spirit Creek Farm kimchi.

Red Flannel Hash (modified from NYT Cooking)

This recipe also works wonderfully with left-over roasted vegetables!

1.5 cups diced potatoes

1 cup diced squash

1/2 cup diced beets

1/2 cup diced carrots

1/2 cup diced peppers

1/4 cup diced onion

1/2 tsp each thyme and parsley

salt and pepper to taste


*Note:  Dice all the veggies into the similarly sized cubes (~1/2 inch) Heat oven to 425.  Place potatoes, squash, and beets on a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of oil and bake for 20 minutes.  Add remaining veggies and herbs to the pan with the remaining olive oil and bake another 25 minutes.   
Fry the baked veggies in a frying pan with butter in a single layer to achieve crispness.  Top with a fried egg and serve with a side salad.


Strata (savory bread pudding)

1/2 lb french bread (stale or leftover works best), enough to make 4 cups of bread cubes

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup diced peppers

1 cup diced or grated squash (~1/4″ cubes)

2 cups kale

1 clove garlic, minced

1.5 cups milk

1/2 cup grated hard cheese (swiss, gruyere, or cheddar)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp fresh rosemary (or 1/2tsp dried) 

1 tsp salt

4 large eggs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Soak the bread cubes in 3/4 c. of the milk. Oil or butter a 2 qt baking dish.  Heat a frying pan and add the kale.  Fry over medium heat until the leaves begin to soften and wilt.  Cover the pan and let the kale steam until cooked (3 minutes).  Remove from pan, press or squeeze out the excess liquid.  Chop coarsely and set aside.  Add 1 tbsp oil to the same frying pan and add the mushrooms and peppers.  Fry on medium heat until the mushrooms are cooked and the peppers have lost some of their moisture.  Add the minced garlic and the squash, and continue to fry for another minute.  Stir in the rosemary and kale.  Remove from heat, pour into a bowl with the cubed bread, the two cheeses, and toss together.  Arrange in a baking dish.
Beat eggs in a medium bowl and add the remaining milk and salt (and a few shakes of black pepper if you like it).  Pour over the bread and press the bread down into the custard mix.  Bake for 40-50 minutes until puffed up and brown and a knife poked into the strata comes out clean.
Note:  this can be assembled and left (covered) in the fridge for the night for a quick and easy morning bake, too!

Summer CSA Week 15

It’s hard to believe that we are already on the 15th week of the CSA, it feels like the season just started last week!? Anyways, while we are excited to share with you the vegetables of the week, there are still a few that you may not see this week, or next. Crops like brussels sprouts take a long time to mature–they’re seeded in early June and usually aren’t ready until the last week of the CSA. Most crops, like the celery in your shares today, are a couple of weeks ahead of schedule, but the brussels are actually slow enough that they may not even mature in time. I’m excited to eat them even if we have to wait for the winter shares.

This past weekend we attended the Harvest Festival at Bayfront and enjoyed seeing many familiar and new faces at the booth. The crew worked all day Friday harvesting vegetables to ensure that festival-goers received the freshest produce possible. It was great to see everyone after a year off from the festival.

The theme of last week seemed to be our potatoes. We worked on getting out the rest of the first planting of potatoes which included whites, russets, and yellows. Potatoes rock our world in so many ways and are incredibly versatile. I thought it might be useful to include a guide as to what potatoes are good for different potato cooking techniques. Disclaimer: this guide is based on a quick Google search and really, you can do whatever you want to your potatoes.

Fingerlings: great for baking, roasting, and potato salads. Not as good for soups.

Russets: These are the long brown potatoes in the share today. These are good for baking, mashing, french fries, and chips.

Reds: Unlike Russets, red potatoes do not fluff up as much when cooked. This makes them good for soups and stews.

Yellow/Gold: Creamier than most and are great for mashing, roasting, and grilling.

White: Great for french fries and hashbrowns. Doesn’t necessarily need peeling due to thin skin.

That’s the reference guide I use when choosing potatoes, but I use the different varieties interchangeably for the most part. Next up, I felt compelled to include a recipe for a classic potato dish that I grew up eating at every family gathering and holiday, and I hope you did too.

Thanks for reading,

Emily

We were fortunate to receive a few random rain showers and a big rainbow last week.

In your shares this week:

Beans – Broccoli – Carrots – Celery – Cucumbers – Dill – Lettuce – Onions – Red Peppers – POTATOES – Acorn Squash – Tomatoes

Farmer Kathleen driving the crew back to the potato fields for harvesting.

Potatoes au Gratin by RecipeTinEats

  • 1 1/2 cups cream
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter,melted
  • 2 lb starchy potatoes, Russet
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups gruyere cheese (or mozzarella)
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves
  • Cream Mixture: Place butter, cream and garlic in a jug or jar. Mix until combined.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Slice potatoes: Peel the potatoes and slice them 1/8″. Or use a slicer!
  • Layer 1: Spread 1/3 of the potatoes in a baking dish, then pour over 1/3 of the Cream Mixture, scatter with 1/3 of the salt, pepper and thyme. Sprinkle with 3/4 cups cheese.
  • Layers 2 & 3: Repeat for the 2nd and third layer, but do not finish with cheese on the top layer (will add later).
  • Cover & bake: Cover with lid or foil, and bake for 1 hr 15 min or until the potatoes in the middle are soft (use knife to test).
  • Top with cheese, bake again: Remove foil, top with cheese. Bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes until golden and bubbly. Stand 5 minutes before serving.

Cream of Celery Soup by AllRecipes

  • 3 quarts vegetable stock 
  • 1 head of celery, coarsely chopped
  • ½ pound carrots, julienned
  • ½ pound onions, chopped 
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 3 quarts hot milk
  • 1 cup margarine
  • Step 1 Pour the vegetable stock into a large pot, and bring to a boil. Add the celery, carrots and onion to the pot.
  • Step 2 Whisk together the flour, salt, pepper, and milk; add to the pot along with the margarine.
  • Step 3 Boil for 10 minutes, then strain out the vegetables by pouring through a sieve, or if the vegetables are large enough, a colander may be used.

Summer CSA Week 14

This week was a big week for our dear friends the alliums. Alliums are a genus of plants that include onions, garlic, leeks, and shallots. Onions! Enough to make a grown man cry. To say that these crops are the very backbone of savory dishes in the Midwest is an understatement. Not only do they provide great flavor and texture to our food, they also make the air smell great when you harvest them for several hours. And what do you say to a small onion that has helped you? Thanks shallot. We also started to sort out seed garlic which involves picking out the most perfect heads of garlic to use for next years garlic crop. This process, over the course of years, helps us yield the best looking heads of garlic to give to our dear members and the community.

Soup season is just around the corner, unless you’re like me and believe soup shall not be limited to colder weather. Either way, I feel compelled to throw in a decent soup recipe in these newsletters each week. They’re great for many things but amazing for using up random veggies in your fridges. Great for budgets and your stomachs. This may very well be the beginning of canning season for your household, for which soup is a fantastic candidate. Our dear friend the leek has been patiently waiting it’s arrival in your shares. And you had better believe there’s a soup recipe in this newsletter whose sole intention is to use a decent amount of leeks. Personally, I think the leeks this year look way bigger than last years. This is probably due to the warmer temperatures we have been experiencing.

This weekend you’ll find the Food Farm crew at the Sustainable Farm Association’s annual Harvest Festival at Bayfront Park in Duluth. Have you been wishing to have just a few more heads of broccoli this year? Perhaps you’re wishing for some more tomatoes? Fear not, as we will likely have a wide variety of food available to you. My favorite thing about these festivals as a consumer is seeing the value added goods that people create. Every year there is something new to try and it’s even better knowing it’s local. The annual Harvest Festival is a fun and great way to connect producers directly to consumers. Aside from these newsletters, there are only a handful of ways in which we are able to directly connect with our share members and the general public. We hope to see all of you there! We’ll be there from 10am – 4pm.

Some exciting news from our newest farm hens, they’ve laid their first eggs! These relatively tiny eggs will not be included in the egg shares yet. However, they are a reminder that these chickens play a valuable role on the farm. They provide our members with food and our fields with fertility. Plus they’re cute and full of personality – what more could you ask for in your coworkers?!

If anyone has a soup recipe suggestion, please do not be shy. We must all prosper in the richness that is liquid food.

Your local soup enthusiast,

Emily

In your shares this week:

Broccoli – Carrots – Cilantro – Cucumbers – Garlic – Greens Mix – Leeks – Onions – Hot Pepper – Red Peppers – Potatoes – Tomatoes – Zucchini

Bumble bees are fond of our bean plants and their flowers. I call this photo: “Bumble Bean”

Potato Leek Soup from Tasty

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 large leeks, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs potato, cubed
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup fresh chives, chopped
  • hot sauce, to taste
  1. Melt butter on medium heat in a large pot. Add the chopped leeks and stir until coated with butter.
  2. Cover the pot and lower heat, cook for around 10 minutes until the leeks have softened.
  3. Increase to medium-high. Add garlic, potatoes, salt, and pepper. Cook for 1 minute, then add vegetable broth, water, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil.
  4. Lower heat and cover pot with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and easily speared by a fork.
  5. Uncover and remove thyme and bay leaf.
  6. Use an immersion or countertop blender to blend the soup until smooth.
  7. Stir in chives and hot sauce (optional).
  8. Allow to cool 2 minutes and serve

Cucumber Avocado Salsa by To Simply Inspire

  • 1 large cucumber peeled, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 avocado finely chopped
  • 1 medium tomato finely chopped and seeded
  • 1/4 cup red onion finely chopped
  • 2 – 3 tablespoon fresh cilantro finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove minced

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 c reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the first six ingredients and gently toss
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the sour cream, lemon juice, lime juice, cumin and salt.
  3. Pour over cucumber mixture and gently toss to coat.
  4. Serve with tortilla chips.