Small Family Farm CSA

We Dig Vegetables

 

September Twenty-First

Your farmer’s left the farm this weekend past!  This is big news for us folks, so big in fact that it’s making it into the Weekly Dig Newsletter!  Our lives are usually re-arranged as such that we make it clear to most of our close friends and family members that other than a quick lunch, trip to town or chat after a CSA delivery, we’re mostly unavailable between, say, the months of April and October for vacations or outings that require being gone for more than an evening.  Planning such events also require months of advance notice. While it can be difficult to explain to our non-farmer friends and family why it is that we cannot vacation in July, we appreciate their patience with us.  frost_coverAdam covering the beans with remay row cover to protect them from frost on September 15th

Do I sound old?  Maybe I sound like a business owner.  Mostly, I think, I sound like a CSA farmer.  The weed, plant, harvest, and deliver routine becomes such a tight circle that getting the necessary tasks done on the farm that are needed to keep all systems running smoothly, leave a very small window of time for leisure activities for the farmers who drive the boat.  We’re not exactly proud of the all-work, little-play routine that governs our summer months, but we revel in the loosely structured off season that enables us to not only renovate, renew and remodel the farm but also provides us with time to re-claim centered lives and nurture the relationships that mean the most to us.

My immediate family of my sister, brother, mother, husband and my brother’s wife, children, and my sister’s partner escaped to Devil’s Lake for two days of hiking trails, sharing food and playing games and just knowing each other in our mature adult lives.   Ironically enough, the farm was still here when we returned.  Even though we left the farm in the trusted and able hands of Joe and Adrianne who live in the alternate housing on the farm and work with us, I half expected the farm to have crumbled in our absence.  I’m not sure if I thought chickens would be everywhere, pigs would be loose and the vegetables would have simply uprooted themselves and walked away because our eyes left them for 48 hours, but to our relief, everything was perfectly fine and just as we left it when we returned. 

It’s important for us…ahem, mostly me to remember the importance of distancing myself from the farm.  A step back from that which envelopes, drives and becomes me is ultimately essential for not only my personal health, but for the health of the farm.  A little extra planning may be required, but everyone involved benefits from a distancing from home and work.  Now the batteries feel a bit more re-charged to carry us through the next several weeks of harvesting and getting the gardens ready for winter. 

Sooo...What's in the Box???

Napa (Chinese) Cabbage-  Arguably one of the best kinds of cabbage ever grown.  Napa Cabbage is tender and is great shredded or chopped finely into raw asian salads, coleslaws or even making home-made Kim Chi with.  Store in a plastic bag in the fridge to preserve moisture.  

Bulk Beets-  A few beets for everyone this week.  There may be a few Chioggia Beets mixed in the bunch which are a pink beet with white rings on the inside of the beet like a target.  The Chioggio beets are an heirloom beet that is a bit more difficult to grow.  Store in a plastic bag in the fridge to preserve moisture.  

White Onion-  Another small onion offering for your regular cooking uses.  

Sweet Bell Peppers-  A nice mix of red, yellow and some purple and orange peppers.  We're so happy to be able to give everyone at least 3 nice peppers!  

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper- A mildly hot pepper for your salsas, currys and chilis.  Week_16Week 16 Bounty

Asian Tempest Garlic-  Another garlic for keeping your immunity up as the seasons begin to change.

Yellow and Green Beans-  Large bags of beans weighing almost a pound per member.  We were busy picking lots of beans this week!  

Spinach-  The first picking off of our fall spinach successions.  The leaves are so tender and succulent, they're a true delight!  

Tomato Mix-  More beautiful tomatoes to color your windowsil.  Allow the tomatoes to sit at room temperature to ripen and remember that tomatoes do not love refrigeration as it can affect their flavor.  Put the tomatoes in the fridge only if you need to buy yourself more time before you use them up.  This will be our last large tomato giving.  After this week, the tomatoes will begin to wane significantly.  

Sweet Basil-  The basil does not look lovely this week as it was nearly nipped by the frost last Wednesday night.  Basil loves warm weather and the cool nights and wind are apparant on the color of their leaves.  This will likely be our final basil giving for this summer!  Enjoy it while it's still here!  Pluck the leaves from the stems and dehydrate the leaves to have a dried basil to use in your winter cooking.  

Curly Green Kale- More cooking greens to keep everything running smoothly!  

Red or Green Leaf Lettuce-  Another small head of lettuce to go around!  I must say that I love having lettuce back!  

Next Week's Guess:  Tomatoes, Onion, Sweet Peppers, Hot Pepper, Yellow and Purple Beans, Radish, Lettuce, Delicata winter squash, Russet Potatoes, Carrots

Recipes:

Peanut Pasta Napa Cabbage Salad

Asian Marrinated Tofu Napa Cabbage Salad

Roasted Green Beans Salad with Pine Nuts and Parmesan

Cheddar Green Bean Casserole

September Twenty-Eighth

A very interesting thing is a woman farmer.  A female farmer with a husband and aspirations to have children is suddenly an astounding endeavor.  Who will farm when the woman becomes a mother?  Who will do a full day of tractor work while the mother is tending to a new life?  Who will lead a harvest crew for 8 hours in the wind, rain and heat while the mother is mothering?  How does a farmer-mother allocate her tasks?  What tasks can she afford to re-assign?  How much of a farmer will she still be when she becomes a mother? 

I find myself with a new found respect for the domestic farm wife.  For the life of me, I never understood why any woman would want to ‘enslave’ herself to the home and child rearing.  I believed that women were powerful, intelligent and capable creatures who couldn’t be contained to traditional roles or occupations.  So, finding myself to be one of those strong and “capable” women, I went right on ahead and turned myself into a farmer, of all things.  I imagiBrussel_HarvestAdrianne and Adam playing in the Brussel Sproutsned a farm with chickens and pigs and eggs and a big garden and a loving husband, and oh, yes, children!   But I never really had much more than the vision figured out, while I assumed that the details would be sorted out later.

I suspect that I’m not the first woman in the world to start wondering how she’s going to keep her job and raise her children at the same time.  After all, I must not forget that I’m an American woman and I should be able to do both of those things at the same time.  And because I am an American woman, I want to do both of these things at the same time.  Perhaps this is my dilemma.  Possibly traditional roles for men and women are much more practical and functional than we are willing to admit to in our twenty-first century lives. 

Female farmers are popping up all over this country.  The desire to reclaim land, nurture it to health and “heal” all that has been broken in the world of farming is drawing woman in from the depths of even the largest cities.  Farming has become and is still becoming so barbaric, so invasive, and so hostile that the land itself has given up.  Tender-hearted, idealistic, and passionately driven women are taking out loans, confusing their families and themselves and buying up old run-down farms with depleted soils and a few saved seeds in their coverall pockets.

I promise you that these women have no idea what they’re getting themselves into.  I know this because I am one of those women.  Many, if not most of them, also have loving husbands, boyfriends and partners.  No one can do this kind of work alone, as it would eventually defeat you.  Ultimately, though, these women wish to build families and the path before them is no longer straight, but split.  These women must learn how to unearth a new kind of strength, direction and motive within themselves.  One can only hope that the children these woman and their husbands are raising will carry with them a new kind of wisdom and respect for land that is foreign to even the most progressive of our minds.   

Sooo...What's in the Box???

Russet Potatoes-  Our Russets this year are on the medium size.  Definately some smaller ones mixed in the bunch, but russets are a nice mix to have thrown in.  They're skin is a bit more rough, but they have a firm, white flesh that holds up well when boiled and baked.  

Spaghetti Winter Squash or Buttercup Winter Squash-  The Spaghetti Squash are the yellow, football shaped squash.  Their flesh is stringy, yet soft like spaghetti.  Buttercup Squash has a blue-green outer skin with a nice orange flesh.  Buttercups are very creamy and soft when cooked.  They can be dry, so cooking with plenty of extra cream, butter, or your favorite forms of moisture-adding ingredients really makes the buttercups shine!  To cook winter squash, slice lengthwise, scoop seeds out and bake face down on a pan with a little water at the bottom for 1 hour until flesh is soft.  brusselsJillian and Adam poking around the brussels a little more.

Bulk Scarlet Nantes Carrots-  More orange carrots!  

Brussel Sprouts- Did you know that brussels grow on a stalk?  You do now!  This is our first time ever being able to give CSA members brussel sprouts in the history of our little CSA farm (6 years).  Every year we plant them, but are always disappointed in them somehow too much to give them.  There is a lot to learn in growing brussel sprouts!  They're still not perfect looking, but we'll keep working on that for future years.  You'll need to do a little clean-up work by peeling away one or two of the outer layers on the brussels before you cook them up.  Just snap them off the stalks and clean them up before cooking!  

Sweet Bell Peppers, Poblano Peppers-  We were able to give everyone around 4 peppers agian this week!  The dark green, pointed peppers are called Poblanos or Anchos.  Sometimes their seeds and the membrane between the pepper wall and the seeds can be hot on occasion, so be careful!  Technically Anchos are considered a hot pepper, but their flesh is rarely hot.  

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper or Cayenne Chile Pepper-  Hungarian hot wax peppers are yellow to orange to red and have a thicker wall, the cayenne peppers are long and skinny and have a very thin wall.  The cayennes are great for drying, just set it somewhere in the kitchen until you're ready to plop the whole thing into a pot of chile.  

Yellow Onion-  Another onion!  Oh boy!  

Tomatoes-  The tomatoes are on the green side this week.  They've been ripening in the field and in our cellar much more slowly these days.  This will surely be the final week of large bags of tomatoes!  A few more next week but much, much less.  Allow them to sit on your counter at room temperature to ripen.  Do not place them in your refrigerator until they are ripe and only if you need to buy yourself more time before you use them up.  

Yellow and Purple Beans-  The final week of beans.

Mustard Greens-  Yes, mustard greens.  Mustard greens work great anytime you want to add cooked greens to any of your favorite dishes.  They are also great in Indian/Nepali cooking when making Saag.  Mustard greens are also great mixed in with your lettuce salad greens to be eaten raw.  

French Breakfast Radish or Cherry Bell Radish- Yum!  The radishes are great this time of year! Not too spicy, very crunchy and far from woody!  Don't forget to use their greens in cooking as well!  Radish greens would be a nice addition to your Saag.  

Red or Green Leaf Lettuce-  Another head of lettuce this week.  They've really bulked out in size!  

Recipes

Fresh Greens Pasta Pie

Spaghetti Squash Recipe

Indian Saag for using Mustard Greens

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash

October Fifth

The garden is in pick-up, shut-down, and clean-out mode.  After two more consecutive frosts on Friday and Saturday night green tomatoes are left dangling on dried out, dead and brown plants.  The frosts put an end to any of the warm weather crops that have been hanging on and eeking out any last efforts at ripening or maturing.  What we’re left with now are only the cold-hardy and frost tolerant of the fall crops. 

Nature is shifting her energy downward.  We will no longer see flowering plants reaching their beautiful heads proudly up towards the sun or light green shoots expanding their reach and breadth.  The sun is going down and stays down longer with each passing day.  The leaves are falling down from the trees, the seeds are falling down from the plants and the insects and rodents are burrowing down and creating winter nests.  The farm is getting sleepy. 

In the morning when we wake in the darkness and dress ourselves to leave the house for chores, we put on layers to protect ourselves from the cold like beanie hats, scarves and I suspect that before long it will feel so cold we will want to wear gloves for carrying buckets to the animals fear our fingers will freeze off.  For some people this time of year is sad and calls for a reminiscing of the summer days that were.  But for your farmers on Salem Ridge Rd., we’re looking forward to a fire-lit winter that is warmed with apple cider, hot cocoa and mint tea. 

We’re looking forward to offering over the next few weeks some of the warming foods that nature provides in the fall to keep our cheeks rosy and our fingers nimble.  This week we have celeriac root for you (the big brother of celery) and beets.  In the coming weeks we will have leeks, parsnips, rutabaga and kohlrabi.  We’ll weight the boxes down with sweet squash like butternuts, pie pumpkins, delicatas and acorns.  We will long for the loss of our beloved tomatoes and crispy peppers and learn to appreciate the dense foods that will store for us in our garages, root cellars and refrigerators to sustain us through the long winter up ahead. 

Sooo.... What's in the Box????

Butternut Squash-  Beautiful, orange Butternuts!  They'll keep for a good month or so on your countertop, but they perfer dry, cold storage over time.  Slice them lengthwise, scoop the seeds out and bake them face down in a baking dish with a half inch of water for one hour.  Butternuts are one of the more popular of the winter squash and deserving of their good reputation!

Napa Cabbage (Chinese Cabbage)-  More of this tender fall cabbage.  Napas are great for making homemade fermented kim chi or to use fresh in oriental salads.  

Bulk Beets-  More bulk beets.  Beets will store best in a plastic bag in the fridge to preserve moisture.  

Red Onion-  A sweet red onion for all!  

German White Garlic-  Garlic will keep on your countertop until you're ready to use it, or it will also keep well in a refrigerator.  

Hot Pepper-  A small hot pepper for everyone!  

Sweet Bell Peppers-  We were able to give three or four sweet peppers for everyone again this week!  

Cherry Bell Radish or French Breakfast Radish-  The higher water content this fall made the radishes crispy and succulent.  They're not very spicy, which is making them very enjoyable!  

Celeriac Root-  Yes, this the funky, brainy looking thing in your box!  The celeriac is in the same family as celery.  Celeriac has a flavor like celery, but is dense and hard like a potato.  It is very nice peeled, boiled and mashed with potatoes.  The result is a celery-flavored mashed potatoe.  You can also use your celeriac greens for flavoring in a soup or stock like celery.

Tomatoes-  Definately the final week of a bag of tomatoes.  It's been remarkable that we've been able to give as many tomatoes this year as we have been.  It's truly been a remarkable tomato year for the Small Family Farm.  You've been able to reap many of the rewards of being a CSA member this season alone through the tomato harvest!  

Red Curly Kale or Lacinato Kale-  More sweet kale for your sauteeing needs.  

Spinach-  A large bag of spinch for everyone this week!  So many uses for spinach.  

Flat Leaf Italian Parsley-  Remember that you can dry parsley if you don't think you'll be able to use it all fresh!  Pluck the leaves from the stems and lay them out on your dehydrator trays.  In hours you'll have bright green dried parsley for your winter cooking!

Recipes

Mashed Potatoes with Celeriac Root

Celeriac Potato Hash Browns with Jalapeno and Cheddar

Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Shells-  You could also put your kale in this recipe to make up for what you lack in spinach!  

Napa Cabbage Picnic Salad Recipe

 

October Twelfth

We’re so thankful to everyone who came out the farm on Sunday to show their support, walk around with us, and share food with us!  We’re thankful for the beautiful weather that made Sunday a success and for a bountiful fall harvest that has allowed us to be able to fill your CSA boxes this season with higher value items than we have ever been able to fill CSA boxes before. Tractor_RidesThanks, Drew, for giving tractor rides around the farm!

This season has been incredible.  Our best growing season ever, in fact!

Doesn't it always feel like when you talk to farmers they have a very woeful story to tell about how the weather was too hot or too cold or too wet or too dry this year?  Some farmers I know are never quite happy with the hand that they’re dealt.  The prices of the crops are always too low and the cost of seeds, maintenance and repairs are always climbing higher.  Fertility is never quite right, disease pressure is persistent and the insect populations seem to get heavier.  We farmers have so many things to complain about!  Granted, they’re valid arguments!  But maybe we wouldn't be so sorrowful to listen to if once in a while we simply proclaimed “it’s been a good year”.   

Once in a while nature shows mercy on us.  She showed us a mild, dry season with no terrible national disasters, no devastating blights that whipped out entire sections of our fields and no major expensive tractor or farm repairs that could cripple our finances.  We’ve made it out the other end whole and nourished.  We feel a bit used, worn and tired, but that is to be expected after a demanding and productive season.  Increased harvest yields added more to our workload this summer than we projected, but it was a blessing that benefited us all! 

We’re thankful.  So very thankful for very few rainy harvest days that make harvesting miserable.  We’re thankful for increased soil fertility.  We’re thankful for really good neighbors.  We’re thankful for meeting our CSA membership and financial goals.  We’re thankful for a super rockin’ worker-share crew.  We’re thankful for the upcoming growth of our personal ‘small family’ and for all of the livestock and creatures that live on this farm and contribute to it’s ecosystem.  We’re thankful for all of the people out there in the world who are sharing information about food and food culture and showing that they care about where their food comes from, what’s in it and how it’s grown.  We’re thankful for the community of people who infuse this farm with life and for a damn good year! 

Sooo...What's in the Box????

Russet Potatoes-  More dense potatoes for storage!  

Scarlet Nantes Carrots-  Store carrots in the pastic bag in the fridge to preserve moisture.  

Acorn Winter Squash-  Yeah, this is the squash that looks like a large acorn with the blue skin.  Slice the acorn squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and place face down in a pan with a half inch of water.  Bake for 1 hour and serve with butter and maple syrup and you'll be in acorn squash heaven!

Parsnip Root-  These are the white roots that are loose in the box.  You're used to seeing them a bit larger in the stores coated in wax, but these are the real deal.  Parsnips will keep for monthes in a plastic bag in the fridge.  They're a delicious, sweet root that is best when cooked.  Can you tell that parsnips are in the same family as carrots?Walking_country_roadWalkin' on a country road!

Sweet Peppers-  The pepper plants were nailed by the frost twice last week exposing the fruits to an intense week of full sun.  Some fruits were even frosted on a bit.  The fruits don't seem quite as crisp and fresh as they did a month ago, but we figured that we still had a very nice pepper giving left to share with you.  Use these guys up sooner rather than later!  

Hot Pepper-  Either a small hungarian hot wax pepper or a long and skinny chili pepper.  

Kohlrabi-  You may have received a white or purple kohlrabi.  Peel kohlrabi and eat raw or use in a stir fry.  Remember that you can use the kohlrabi leaves like kale in cooking!

Zefa Fino Fennel-  Beautiful fennel bulbs!  You may remember the fennel from this spring.  It's the funky vegetable that's in the same family as celery and you can cook with it interchangable. It has a licorice flavor that is made mild when cooked.  You can also use the greens for garnishing or flavoring in cooking.  

Packman Broccoli-  Large broccoli heads for all!  Some of our broccoli became a bit overmature this week in the heat and with our busy schedules we didn't get it harvested on time.  But it still looked pretty good, we thought!  

Tomato Mix-  3.3lbs of tomatoes.  Tomatoes are looking a bit cracked, blemished and scuffed this week in our final week of tomatoes.  We figured that an ugly tomato is better than no tomato at all.  Some people like to cook with green tomatoes!  They should still ripen nicely on your countertop.  

Cut Spinach-  A huge bag of spinach this week for everyone!  .83 lbs of spinach!  Whoa!  

Leeks-  Leeks are in the same family as onions.  Cook with your leeks like you would with onions.  Use the entire stalk with greens.  You can even eat leek roots!  

Recipes-

Potato-Leek Soup with Celeriac

Creamy Coconut Carrot Ginger Soup-  (Thank you Adrianne for sharing this one at the potluck;)pasture_walkWalking the farm tour out to the pigs in the pasture under the hallmark maple tree on our farm.

Parsnip Cake with Lemon, Cream Cheese Frosting

October Nineteenth

Congratulations, you've officially become a Locavore!  You've eaten your way through the Spring, Summer and Fall of an entire Midwestern growing season.  You’ve learned how to identify the appropriate season in which certain vegetables are grown. You’ve finally warmed up to zucchini, gotten creative with a bag of tomatoes and tried at least one new funky veggie that you may have never boughten at the grocery store.  You’re not only eating seasonally, you’ve improved your cooking skills, expanded your recipe selection horizons and found that maybe you DO like to eat kale this one certain way after all. PumpkinsPumpkins ready for CSA packing

In my opinion, the smallest changes and expansions in your diet that may seem inconsequential to you are what is propelling this local food movement forward.  If the only thing that’s different about your diet now than what it was in May is that now you know that you like to eat kohlrabi and dip or that now you put spinach in your lasagna, then I am satisfied.  These small changes that you’re making in your life are impacting the people that you feed, the people you share recipe ideas with and let’s not forget, your own personal health. 

Local and fresh food (forget organic) is literally and metaphorically “gaining ground”.  New Farmer’s Markets, CSA Farms, community gardens and even small family farms are popping up all over the country.  The availability of local foods from meat to vegetable is becoming more important to all of us.  While not entirely ready to forfeit our cup of coffee or our bags of oranges, we are at least becoming more aware of their foreign nature and what is involved in bringing these foods to our tables.  

In the center of my heart lies the true sustainability of the idea.  It’s not just about the “20% growth of the organic industry”, or even whether or not “organic food can feed the world”.  Long before the economy of local foods lies the community of it.  Without the community surrounding food, there would be no economy to support it.  It’s really about a super tasty cup of locally roasted fresh coffee and knowing the names of the kind folks who roasted it.  It’s about knowing the names of the folks who raised your half cow this summer and that the cows were on fresh grass all season and remembering this while you’re grilling with your neighbors.  It’s also about eating some really, really good soft cheese and pears that you picked up at the farmer’s market on Saturday and knowing the name and face of the family that made and grew them. 

I care even less about what we eat than why we eat.  When we learn to eat with the knowledge that three times a day we can vote for something that we believe in.  We can eat because we love to share our home-made recipes with friends.  We eat because we want to preserve farmland, save the endangered family farm, prevent monocropping, and nurture the preservation of heirloom seed varieties.  At the Small Family Farm we are eternally thankful for your support of our small family farm.  We’re thankful for your e-mails, cards, showing up for our potlucks, your worker-share hours or simply your modest increase in vegetable consumption.  Thank you for a wonderful 2011 growing season.  We look forward to growing with you next year! 

Sooo...What's in the Box???Cleaning_LeeksMonday morning worker shares cleaning leeks in the field

Pie Pumpkins!-  Gorgeous little pie pumpkins for making home-made pumpkin pie with!  Cut a lid out of the top, scoop the seeds out, put a little water or milk inside and bake with the lid on the pumpkin for 45min-1 hour at 350.  

Green Cabbage-  Cute, small little green cabbages.  They barely matured in time for our final CSA delivery, but perfect little cabbages for all!  

Brussel Sprouts-  The stalks of brussels were so long, we had to crack most of them in half to fit them in the box.  Snap them off the stalk, peel back a couple of the outer layers and steam or pan fry until cooked through.

Rutabega-  Yep, a rutabaga!  These are great boiled and mashed with potatoes, cubed in a stew or soup or roasted with other roots in a roasted root veggie dish.  The greens on the rutabaga are also edible like turnip greens.  

Sweet Bell Peppers-  A few sweet peppers for everyone again this week.  Only once before have we had sweet peppers all the way into our Week 20 boxes.  What a fabulous pepper year!  

Chile Pepper-  A small, cute little red chile for cooking with your fall soups.  

Bulk Beets-  These beets will keep in the fridge in a plastic bag to preserve moisture for over a month or so.  

Leeks-  Beautiful white leeks.  Leeks are in the same family as onions.  You can eat the entire leek from the roots to the greens and cook it like you would cook onions.  

Broccoli-  At least two heads of broccoli for everyone.  That warm week in the 80's set all the broccolis to go off at once!  We had a major bumper crop of broccoli this week!

Cilantro-  Yum.  Wish we had this four weeks ago during the heavy tomato season.  Better late than never, eh?

Fresh Cut Leaf Lettuce-  A few of the leaves are a bit frosted on, but a small giving of cut lettuce leaves for a fall salad.  

Spinach-  Yum, a half pound of spinach goes a long way!  It should keep in the fridge for at least a week or so.  

Recipes-

Broccoli Stir Fry with Ginger and SesameBroccoli

Pumpkin Custard Pie

Zesty Roasted Rutabega and Carrots