Sunday, August 30, 2009

Week Thirteen

CSA member Emma Kottler at farm pick up this week. Emma has an astonishingly diverse palate for someone who doesn't have much in the way of teeth.

This week everyone received a mix of heirloom tomatoes and a bag of cherry heirlooms, a selection of peppers, beets, chard, variety of basil, parsely, cilantro, and a container of raspberries (full shares received a large container).

Sick of raspberries yet? They'll be coming in like this for a few weeks at least. If you're interested in some recipes for preserves or pies, let me know. And something else I'm doing with the berries now for holiday gifts? Finding cute bottles, filling then with vodka and a bunch of raspberries and putting it in the freezer for a few months to make raspberry-infused vodka. I'm also going to try this with the lime basil.

I found a great recipe online for a fairly simple pasta with beets and beet greens - I cut up the chard as well and treated it the same way as the beet greens in this recipe.
And here is a fantastic recipe for summer squash (use your pattypans!) and heirloom tomato gratin

aaaaWe thought we wouldn't have onions this year due to an incident early on in the season - the entire bed was crushed when the tractor accidentally pulled the grapevines down on top of them (whoops). But on Sunday afternoon Todd and I harvested a surprising amount of wonderful red and white onions that are curing right now and will be in shares soon.

This is one of the beds of fall veggies we planted a few weeks ago. The tatsoi, Chinese blue cabbage, and snow peas are off to a great start.
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Lately we've found a few toads in and around the garden... this one peed on Todd's hand

Friday, August 28, 2009

In the news!

The Post-Gazette wrote a lovely profile of our farm, and I think it's also great publicity for local CSA programs in general. Yay!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Week Twelve

This week everyone received quite a few tomatoes! I posted some great recipes below for the fastest, tastiest farm dinner ever - starting with another great recipe from Jen for mock crab cakes (using patty pan squash instead of crab) with herb-caper mayo, beans with herb butter, and heirloom caprese salad. You might be suspicious of these squash-cakes but I assure you they are beyond delightful - much more than they should be for being so simple. Todd loved them, and he is not usually fond of "mock" anything.
Full shares received a container of cherry tomatoes, 6-8 large heirloom tomatoes (depending on size), pattypan squash, variety of peppers (the orange ones are called Yummy!), a mix of basils, a container of raspberries, peaches, and cut flowers, including some of our lovely sunflowers. Partial shares received cherry and heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, variety of basils (sweet, cinnamon, lime and Thai), a container of raspberries, and flowers.

There are less beans this time around because the second planting was a little smaller. And some sad news - I think this will be it for the cucumbers. The bacterial wilt virus has definitely killed off most of the plants at this point and I am planning to tear them out this week. I can use that space to plant some arugula and other tasty fall greens, and we'll move the support fence to where we've planted the snow peas, which are up and will soon need something to climb. We are going to combat this awful virus next year by moving all cucurbit crops (cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, squash) outside of the produce garden area and grow them in newly dug beds on a different part of the property. We will also spray regularly next season with an organic insecticide (made from chrysanthemum) called pryethrum which will help eliminate the cucumber beetle, the pest responsible for spreading the wilt virus.
The peaches were also a bit of a disappointment... we have a raccoon (or family of) that, apparently, enjoys climbing the peach tree and taking a bite from every other fruit. Hopefully next year we can combat this with some barrier fencing. Or firearms. Just kidding.
This Sunday was lively at the farm for CSA pick up... we had a few member families stick around to pick some extra berries for themselves. My friend Sarah, her husband Jason and sons Elliot and Jasper stopped by for an afternoon of berry picking, followed by a spirited round of throw-black-walnuts-at-the-barn-until-they-shatter-into-a-million-pieces which was seriously more fun than it should have been.
Sarah and Elliot
The raspberries are coming in strong and we are picking a few buckets every other day. If you would like to arrange to come to the farm on Sunday to pick some more of your own for pies, preserves, ice cream, etc, just let me know. There's plenty to go around.


pattypan "crab" cakes - 2c coarsely grated summer squash, 1c Italian bread crumbs, 1 onion (finely chopped), 1 Tbs mayonnaise, 1 Tbs Old Bay seasoning, 1 egg (beaten). Combine, adjust texture, form into patties. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 20-25 minutes covered loosely with foil, then broil until tops are golden. Makes 4 big or 6 medium cakes. I also made a mayo sauce to go on top - just a handful of whatever herbs you have, chopped finely and added to a cup of mayo and a bit of cour cream. Mix in a few capers and blop a spoonful on top of each cake.

Chop some more herbs and toss them in melted butter with the beans (blanched for barely a few minutes), and serve with a caprese salad (alternating slices of tomato and buffalo mozzarella, drizzle olive oil and sea or kosher salt on top with some torn basil leaves) and voila! Fast and amazingly delicious dinner right from your CSA bag. You might finish it off with some berries over ice cream drizzled with honey for dessert. And those of you who have peaches could dice them and serve in a bowl with raspberries, shredded cinnamon basil and honey on top.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

week eleven

Items for this week are heirloom tomatoes (full shares also received a container of cherry tomatoes), a variety of peppers, potatoes, a variety of beans, cucumbers (some of you also received a lemon cucumber), a mix of fresh herbs - basil for your tomatoes and parsley and dill for your potatoes, and fresh raspberries. Full shares also received eggplant.
Please remember to return your containers when you're finished with them! And we'd love to have any plastic clamshell containers that you don't use - these are perfect for the berries and cherry tomatoes.


Nothing is more lovely to me right now than a wagon full of heirloom tomatoes. You all have these in your shares this week. Keep an eye out for my current favorite - an heirloom I'm growing for the first time this year called Garden Peach. They are about the size of, well, a peach, with a yellowish color and skin that is slightly furry, like that of a peach. They taste amazing!

We've been lucky so far in controlling the tomato late blight that has been crippling farmers and gardeners all over the northeast, especially those who grow organically. Many have been completely wiped out, and unfortunately some of the CSA farms in our area had to tell their members not to expect many tomatoes at all this year. We are keeping it under control with an organic copper-based spray and by being vigilant about regularly checking for and removing infected leaves, but we are still definitely seeing the affects. While we feel extremely lucky to have tomatoes at all, there are a lot less than we normally would have.

You've been getting cucumbers pretty regularly, and especially if you held on to some from last week a great way to use them is to make chilled cucumber and dill soup: peel and seed three cucumbers. Chop and put in a blender with two cups buttermilk, half cup sour cream, tablespoon of olive oil, a few tablespoons of chopped dill, a pinch of sugar (or teaspoon of honey), and a splash of white wine vinegar. Puree and garnish with fresh dill.
The potatoes would be excellent simply roasted in the oven with herbs. Cut them into half or thirds, coat them with olive oil and and add your chopped parsley and dill with a sprinkle of salt, and roast.
I found a new tasty recipe for microwaved honey eggplant. Combine half a cup each of chopped parsley and breadcrumbs with three tablespoons of olive oil, two tablespoons honey, one minced garlic clove, and a pinch of salt. Cut a medium eggplant crosswise into one-inch slices and score the top of each slice. Put the slices in a dish and spread the breadcrumb mixture over the tops, pressing into the slits. Partially cover with wax paper and microwave for about five minutes. Remove the paper and cook for another two or three minutes until very soft. Sprinkle with lemon juice.
Also check out Rachel's comment from the week nine post, she shared a great recipe for a vinaigrette to dress potatoes and green beans.

Some turkeys in front of the berry patch (they are regular welcome visitors to the farm).

week ten

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Items for week ten: heirloom tomatoes, a container of cherry tomatoes, a variety of peppers, pattypan squash, cucumbers, herbs including sweet and lime basil, and a bouquet of fresh cut flowers grown on the farm.

This week the Post Gazette photographer visited for CSA pick up, taking photos for the piece they are writing on our farm! Rebecca got some great shots that will be included in the print and online editions of the article, which they tell me will probably be in the Thursday August 27th edition of the paper in the food section. A great group of shareholders came to the farm with their families, and everyone left with some delicious raspberries that they picked themselves. Well... some berries may not have made it home ;)

Thanks again to everyone who came! It was a fun afternoon.

Elliot in the berry patch, and Ziad with his haul. They are two talented and enthusiastic berry pickersaaaa

Dror, Heather, and their baby Zeev. Dror's mother Zahava, and her friend Izak were visiting from Israel

Folks who came to the farm also had a chance to see Todd do a brief hive inspection

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Week Nine

This week everyone has potatoes, cucumbers, kale, a big bunch of sweet basil, lime basil and parsley. Full shares also received pattypan squash, beans, and a container of a mix of heirloom cherry tomatoes. Because there weren't many melons and eggplant, these went to partial shares - fulls will get these the next time we harvest. Partial shares also received three full size heirloom tomatoes instead of the mix of cherries.

I know shares have been heavy on the greens this year, and I hope you aren't all sick to death of kale! I planted too much, but there are a lot of great ways to use it. Here is a link to a simple recipe for kale and potato hash -
if you don't have shallots just substitute onions.

The lemon basil is excellent in a vinaigrette, but it also makes an amazing pesto when mixed with regular basil, and parsley. In a food processor combine 2 cups (packed) basil leaves (lime and sweet), 1 cup parsley leaves, 1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts (toasting the nuts for a few minutes in a dry pan on the stove top gives them a great flavor), 3-4 garlic cloves, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese. Process into a paste, and slowly add 1/2 olive oil while the mixer is running. Pesto is wonderful on fish, chicken, in pastas, on bread, with your tomatoes... I love pesto in pretty much anything. My friend Jen makes a fried egg and pesto sandwich for breakfast, which is just an egg between two slices of toast smeared with pesto. I haven't tried yet but sounds like the tastiest breakfast sandwich ever.

For those of you who have eggplant this week, you might try slicing it, salting the slices lightly and letting them sit for a few minutes, brushing them with olive oil and tossing them on the grill with some pesto on top.