Small Family Farm CSA

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August Fifteenth

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I have discovered that making dinner is my meditation. It clears my mind. It is the ritual that resets my brain, comforts me and brings me ‘home’ again. I’ve always been too much of a busy-body to deeply delve into meditation. I’m not against it, just wired in a way where I can’t sit for too long. I’m too pragmatic, too busy, too hungry! Some people run, some people read, some people watch TV, some people maybe even smoke or drink or sleep. I cook.   And I don’t mind spending hours doing it.

I find that it also calms the children. They love it when I stay in one place for while. After a day of everyone running around the farm and people going in and out the front door and the farm truck and tractors going up and down the road and the phone ringing and the chores calling, we settle it all down with the smell of onions and garlic sautéing in a pan with oil (probably the most amazing smell in the world). The kids are magically soothed to the sound of veggies being chopped on the cutting board, to the sound of something sizzling in the cast iron pan, and to the clinking and clanking of pans and dishes being rustled around on the stove and countertop. When mom is in the kitchen cooking, life feels good and safe and predictable.

I wouldn’t say that I’m an awesome cook. I’m learning, progressing and certainly logging in the practice hours. The kids like to ‘help’ too. Well, I shouldn’t say they like to help me, they like to make their own dishes. We make fantastic messes that might stress out the average mom, but I have fully surrendered to the messes with three small children. The mess is a sacrifice I have been willing to make for the sake of fostering a love for cooking and vegetables in these little people.

I don’t get a CSA box of #1 produce each week, but I do have access to the piles of ‘seconds’, as we call them. In an effort to use up these bins of veggies culled out at harvest or in the pack shed, I process more veggies than one might normally process in one meals preparation time. It sometimes takes longer to cut around the blemishes and curves of the mis-shapen and imperfect veggies, but I don’t mind because I feel rich with the bounty.

My senses are fully alive in the kitchen. I smell the fresh basil as I mince it and revel in the aroma. I feel the heat from the stove and the weight of the pot. I move swiftly and surely from one countertop to the sink to the stove and then back to the countertop in my familiar comfort zone. I hear that the pan is starting to sizzle and pop. I know the veggies need stirring. I take it slow and stir. Just stirring and watching and breathing. I taste the soup to know if it needs salt or more herbs or more time to cook.

When the food is ready to eat, the meditative practice doesn’t have to end. Finally I get to sit down after everyone has food on their plate, silverware, drinks, napkins and has come to the table. We share our simple blessing and words of gratitude and the meal feels intentional, purposeful and wholesome. Slowly, we fill our bellies and our hearts with the warmth that comes from being fed a meal made with love. I breathe again and feel full.

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

Broccoli/Pepper/Eggplant-   One head of broccoli per member or 1-2 peppers (depending on size) or 1 eggplant. We’re expecting sweet pepper production to pick up in the next few weeks. There will be a lul in broccoli and cauliflower for a little while until Fall Plantings come on and eggplants will likely be a low production crop this summer.

Sweet Corn- 6 Ears of Sweet corn per member this week.   This is the final sweet corn giving. Sweet corn is best eaten as soon as possible once harvested from the plant. If you must keep it for a few days, be sure to keep it in the refrigerator and keep it cold to preserve it’s sweetness and crispiness. The ears aren’t huge, but for the most part they look good and the flavor is excellent! We’re still keeping the coons out of the patch pretty well!

Eggplant or Cherry Tomatoes or Sweet Bell Pepper- Because eggplant plants don’t necessarily crank out eggplants, we supplemented with cherry tomatoes or a sweet bell pepper. It’s a bit of the luck of the draw on this one. The cherry tomatoes are the sun gold variety of you got these and they ripen orange. Don’t wait for them to turn red because they won’t! We love this cherry tomato variety because of how wonderfully sweet they are!   The remainder of members received a sweet bell pepper.

Green Beans- .64lbs of green beans per member this week. Beans are best eaten fresh! Don’t try to keep them long!

Summer Squash and Zucchini- 1-2 squash per member. Summer Squash are the yellow ones and zucchini are the green ones. Zucchini and summer squash actually keep best at 50 degrees. Some people will set them out at room temp and some will keep them in their fridge since most of us don't have the luxury of a 50 degree storage area. We may decide to quit picking zucchini and summer squash soon as they are starting to fizzle out fast. Thank you Sqash plants for all of your amazing gifts!

Celery- Smaller bunches of celery again this week. Local celery usually has a stronger celery flavor that what we’re all used to-California celery grown in more mild temperatures with high water inputs. With the diversity of crops we are growing on this farm, this is about the best celery we can offer. Celery is great in soups, egg salad, or even cold summer pasta dishes.

Cucumbers- 7 Cucumbers per member! Cucumbers are finally slowing down. We will be lucky if we are able to give one or two cucumbers next week, so enjoy them while they are lasting as they are quickly going out of season! It’s time to try out your favorite cucumber recipes that use a few of them. Think cucumber soup, tzatziki sauce, refrigerator pickles, cucumber salad….. My kids eat one for a snack almost every day!

White Onion- One nice and big white onion for everyone. Will keep just fine on your countertop.

Collards- Collards are in the same family as Kale and Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts. Don’t feel intimidated by the Collards. Find a classic southern collards recipe (you can’t go wrong with bacon;) or just sautee them with and eat them with eggs in the morning and you’ll never know they aren’t kale!

Tomatoes- 8 lbs. We grow a wide variety of tomatoes each year. About 12-15 different varieties. Some are romas (the longer more pear-shaped varieties with less water that are good for making sauce), yellow slicers, red slicers, tie-dye slicers, and the infamous herilooms that are slowly coming into season. Heirlooms usually ripen a little later in the season since they are a larger tomatoes and are not hybridized for early production. You are likely to receive a very wide selection of tomatoes over the tomato-growing season with a wide variety of colors. We recommend leaving tomatoes out at room temperature to ripen naturally. Remove them from their plastic bag and set them out on your counter or windowsill so they don’t get funky in the plastic bag and mold or rot on you. We pick tomatoes with a ‘blush’. This means that we pick anything that has any early signs of red or pink or color. Once a tomato begins to blush it will ripen fully off the vine and this still qualifies as a vine-ripened tomato. Their flavor will be much better if you just let them sit on the counter to ripen. We do not recommend putting tomatoes in the refrigerator at all, ever, unless they are nearly over-ripe and you need to buy yourself some time before you get a chance to use them up before they go bad. Refrigerators seem to suck flavor out of tomatoes as well. For the full experience, let them ripen on the counter!

Sungold Cherry Tomatoes- One pint of cherry tomatoes per member this week. Remember that these guys ripen orange, so please don’t wait for them to turn red. These are the best tasting tomato on earth. Check out our recipe for the cherry tomato tart below! It’s to DIE for and will be served at our Farm Dinner in a couple weeks! Wow your friends and family with this recipe!

Beets- Three large beets per member this week! Beets will keep very well for months in a plastic bag in the fridge. But I’m sure you can find a fun summer dish to use them up in!

Melon- You may have received a yellow watermelon, an orange cantelope or a green honeydew. We tried to give everyone a cantelope, but they weren’t all ready yet. We will have a melon for everyone again next week, but it’s hard to say which varieties will be ready. Watermelons will not ripen off the vine, so there is no need to wait to see if it is ready. The cantelopes and honeydews will ripen off the vine, so if you know they are ready, keep them in your fridge until you get a chance to use them up. If they are not ready, leave them on your countertop to ripen. You will know that a cantelope or honeydew is ready when they have a strong melon smell.

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper- These were tucked inside your tomato bags. Hungarian Hot wax are amongst the most mild of hot peppers, but they may surprise you!

Next Week's Best Guess: beets, cucumbers, summer squash and zucchini, tomatoes, onion, celery, swiss chard, melons, sweet peppers, Hungarian hot wax pepper, red cabbage?

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Recipes

Tomato Tart!

Marinated Celery Salad with Chickpeas and Parmesan

Chunky Celery Soup with Wild Rice