Small Family Farm CSA

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Small Family Farm
Below are current issues of The Weekly Dig Newsletter, from Jillian Varney, owner of the Small Family Farm. Stay up to date on what's happening on the farm!

September Thirtieth

Fall on the farm feels very different this season.   It feels different because we are getting many of our storage crops out of the ground a little sooner than in previous years. We are also not doing Farmer’s Markets this year due to the fact that the market that we usually attend on the Capitol Square in Madison has been reduced to drive-up pick-up for pre-orders only that we decided was not in the cards for us this year. Not having to spend every Friday harvesting and preparing for Farmer’s Market has freed up the crew’s time to do field clean-up, harvest and ready the farm for winter.

Not doing Farmer’s Markets also means that neither Adam nor I need to get up at 3am on Saturday mornings and be gone all day in Madison. Instead we spend our Saturdays at home with our children. We are also able to use Saturdays to keep up with many of the week’s preparations for the next CSA delivery, maintenance on farm equipment and the innumerable jobs to be done on a farm like this.   Our stress level is lower and our quality of life is higher. Strangely, we are enjoying a calm this time of year never before experienced in the history of our farm.

This week we begin our Sweet Potato harvest that we are very excited about. Our sweet potato slips arrived two weeks later this Spring than when we were expecting them, so we have been letting them sit in the field as long as we possibly can to give them the maximum time that we can afford to size up before harvest. We’re hoping for a moderate harvest. Likely the sweet potatoes won’t be huge this year, but we will definitely get a good crop! We are also excited to begin harvesting Brussels sprouts, leeks and parsnips. We will have fun items in the last couple Summer Share boxes like celeriac root and spinach as well.

The moral of the crew is strong. I am so impressed with the people who work on our farm. Even as the weather cools, the sunlight wanes, and the harvest is a little less fruitful and summery, workers continue to show up every day on time and ready to work as cheery as ever. We dress in layers now shedding slickers and hats and layers of coats and sweaters as the temperatures fluctuate from cool in the morning, to warm in the early afternoon, to cool again in the late afternoon. The farm truck and the packing shed are littered with sweatshirts, water bottles, sun hats and muck boots. Now there are scarves and winter caps in the mix. We change outfits and footwear depending on the temperature and the tasks ahead of us.

We are quickly entering a phase in the season that is not for the fair-weather friend. We will be working in the cool fall wind, sometimes rain if it’s a harvest day and we need to get the harvest in, and rain means mud. We will dig Fall Roots in cool, wet soil if needed and our gloves and sweaters and boots get muddy and somehow that mud gets on our faces, under our nails and it adds weight when we walk. Bins of fall roots are heavy to load onto the farm truck and there are many of them.

The crew will stay busy on the farm through the week of Thanksgiving when we pack out our final CSA boxes of the season. There is still much to do. We have garlic beds to prepare, plant and mulch. We have plastic mulch and drip tape to rip up and tomato trellising to take down. There are quite a few beds of carrots, parsnips and beets to dig as well as rutabaga, radishes and leeks. The harvest always get done thanks to the tremendous help of a crew of hardy workers and worker shares who think it’s pretty cool to work outside, on an organic farm and doing this kind of work that feels meaningful, even if it is a little rugged and heavy. I feel thankful that there are still people who are drawn to doing this kind of work, I know it sure appeals to me! Even after all these years.

Farm work builds character and hardiness in a person. When it starts to rain we don’t run for cover. When the wind picks up we put up our hoods. When our fingers get cold, we grab a pair of gloves or two. If we must endure a little discomfort at times, we are all the happier when we do feel warm and cozy. Interestingly, the connection between the workers becomes richer when we do hard things together and accomplish tasks in a time frame we would never have been able to do alone. It may be getting cooler, but fall is still my favorite time of year!

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

Red Beet- One large red beet for everyone this week. These beets are from a very thinly seeded planting and the beets all grew vary large. Beet greens are nutritious and delicious and they can be used like swiss chard in your cooking.  They have similar texture and flavor to spinach as well (because they're in the same family of plants, can you tell?)

Green Cabbage- Have fun with your cabbage.  Make sauerkraut, egg rolls, coleslaw!  This is not a storage variety of cabbage, so we recommend using it up rather than waiting.  

Red Potato- 3 pounds per member this week. Potatoes are one of the few crops that we do not wash.  They will keep better unwashed- and washing them can sometimes really scuff them up. The variety this week is called Red Pontiac.

Sweet Dumpling Squash- These is the squash that looks a little like delicata but are shaped like an acorn.  Sweet Dumplings are similar to carnival squash and can be used as a substitute for acorn, butternut or almost any recipe that calls for squash.  They make nice soup bowls as well if pre-baked and stuffed with your favorite soup/stew recipe.  

Yellow Onion- Because onions go with almost everything!

Garlic- Another bulb of garlic, tucked in the paper bag with the mini-sweet peppers.

Mini-Sweet Peppers- Just a small handful of mini-sweets for everyone. We picked the plants clean with the chance of frost approaching this week.

Bell Peppers- 4 small bell peppers for every member. This will likely be that last of the peppers for the season.

Tomatoes- Just 2 tomatoes this week. Tomato production has now come to an end for the 2020 season. We will miss you tomatoes!

Kohlrabi- 2 per member (white or purple). Remember this treat from Spring? It has the crunchiness, crispyness and mildness of an apple.  It's not as sweet as an apple, but can be eaten raw, cooked, spiralized, shaved, matchsticked, or prepared in almost any way you could dream up!  My dad use you love to to just slice them up and eat them raw with a veggie dip.  (Peel off the outer, tougher skin).  ALSO, don't forget that Kohlrabi leaves are perfectly edible!

Broccoli or Cauliflower- Either one large broccoli (or 2 banded) or one large cauliflower per member.   We expecting much more from these 2 crops for week 19 and 20,.

Red Kale- Lovely green bunches of kale this week.  Kale keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge. 

Flat Leaf Parsley – Big bunches of parsley this week. Parsley is lovely mixed into soups, sauces, marinades and salads of all kinds.  Find ways to sneak this super food into your meals. 

Next Week's Best Guess-  Sweet Potato, brussels sprouts, parsnip, leeks, celeraic root, broccoli and/or cauliflower, spinach, kohlrabi, squash, collards?

Recipes

 

 

September Twenty-Third

We have a humble tradition in our farm house of holding hands and taking turns saying at least one thing that we are grateful for before we share food together. It provides a moment of pause in our fast-paced lives to see, feel and recognize one small thing that we have to be grateful for in a sea of beauty and privilege in our lives. There are times when we sit down together calm, cheerful and well-prepared for this ritual, and times when we come to the table hungry, grumpy or still holding on to some kind of burden we have been carrying. I have found that even if we attempt to begin eating without this simple custom, the children feel the gap in our routine and will remind us all that it’s time to say ‘Thankful”. We will all say our ‘thankfuls’ each time, no matter the mood we’re in and this practice can work a magical power of helping us out of a stuck place.

I was recently asked by a CSA member and friend if I believed in God. I was caught off-guard by this question and responded by saying, “Yes, I think so…”. My answer felt unsatisfactory to us both but left me pondering my own response. I should know how to answer this question, but I don’t really. I was raised a Catholic school girl through middle school. God was an image of a man in a robe above the clouds in my head. I used to think that the word ‘God’ was owned by Catholics, Christians and all of the other religious denominations. I felt unsure how to use it and if I was caught using it, I would be called to examination of my beliefs. I no longer identify as a practicing Catholic or clearly belong to any organized religion. So who am I?

It wasn’t until much later in life that I began to see and experience God in a different way. Of course I believe in God! What was I thinking? God is everywhere! I live in God’s country!

I feel highly uncomfortable addressing this issue in a CSA Newsletter because I try to remain neutral on issues of politics and religion in these letters from the farm. I care immensely about possibly offending someone or saying the wrong thing. I am not deeply experienced and well-versed in the vocabulary of religion and spirituality. But it feels good to recognize that I can use the word God and that it is not owned by one religion. It feels a little awkward and rusty coming out of my mouth, but true and righteous nonetheless.

I feel God all around me in my daily work. I feel God in the wind on my cheeks, the sunshine on my back and in the plants and earth between my fingers. I aim to please God in my work of stewarding a small piece of land and tending to it with care and respect. I experience God through the warmth I feel in my chest when I see and embrace my children and husband and friends. I experience God when I am generous and giving. I experience God when I am captivated by the beauty I see on the horizon at sunset, the crimson red veins in the stunning chard leaves, and the bountiful harvest so lovingly packaged to the sound of laughter amongst friends in an old basement of a barn built 100 years ago turned into a produce packing shed on a small family farm.

My church is an open field with a seemingly acient Maple tree standing proudly on top. My fellows are the people who love and accept me. And my practice is hard work, grace and announcing all that I am thankful for before shared meals with my friends and family as my witnesses. My written response here still feels a little unsatisfactory, even to me. But I will continue to practice non-judgement, unending gratitude and servitude to the land and my fellow humans and animals through my words and deeds. This will just have to be good enough for now, but my journey isn’t over yet!

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

Green Cabbage-  This is the Artost variety.  Cabbage is great for making coleslaw, egg rolls, sauerkraut, cabbage rolls or whatever you love!  It is not a storage variety, but these heads will keep for a bit in the fridge!  

Gold Potatoes-  Three pounds per member this week.  We mostly had a very good potato year this year.  We're happy to be packing three pound bags this week instead of two pounds! 

Acorn Squash-  Acorn squash is a classic variety and is known for being one of the earliest season varieties out there.  Acorns can be used in just about any winter squash recipe you have-even home-made pumpkin pie!  They are very versatile!  Squash stores best between 50- and 60 degree storage temps.  It keeps very well just sitting on your counter in your home.  If it was to develope any signs of going bad, that would be your cue to eat it up!  

Tomatoes-  This could be the final tomato giving of the season!  These certainly wouldn't be the highest quality tomatoes we have shipped all year.  If they develope any spots on them, that would be a sign to use those up quickly!  The tomato plants on the farm are looking tired and thin these days!  Enjoy them while they last!  Always allow tomatoes to ripen outside the fridge!  Remember to remove them from your plastic bag to ripen with plenty of fresh air around them.  

Onion-  One onion for your everday needs!

Garlic-  This is our Metechi variety.  Metechi is a red-skinned garlic with 6-8 cloves per bulb.  This is one of our favorite varieties.  I bought a very small bag of seed from a man at the Kickapoo Country Fair back in 2009 and we have been propigating it ever since.  We had to do a little digging to discover the name of this variety as the farmer didn't know what it was, other than beautiful!  

Sweet Pepper-  Just one sweet pepper per member this week.  Peppers have slowed down dramatically in production.  We are thining we might have one more pepper to share next week, but it's getting late!  

Mint-  Aromatic bunches of mint for your tea, tabouli, or for drying.  Mint is lovely dried and then used in tea in the winter months.  

Carrots-  One pound bag per member again this week.  These carrots look a little rough because we harvested them and stored them dirty in our cooler for a couple weeks.  We barrel washed them before deliveries this week, but they look a little stained.  They're still yummy and fresh though!  

Swiss Chard-  Almost unbelievably, the chard plants still looked really good this Fall!  We noticed thier lush-ness had to harvest these for this week's box!  We made lasagna with chard this week at our house!

Fennel-  The fennel varried quite a lot this week in size.  Some of them were very sizable, but several of them towards the end of harvest were getting quite small.  We appolozie for the smaller fennel, but they are still very tender and add a great flavor to your soups or salads!  

Lettuce-  Either a red leaf or green leaf lettuce head per member.  Some of the heads were small, so you may have receive two small heads.  The deer discoverd our lettuce patch and cut into our harvest for this week!  

Broccoli-  One very fine head of broccoli per member this week.  The brcccoli is such a nice treat!  Stores best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Next Week's Best Guess:  Potatoes, squash, cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli, onion, garlic, beets?, kale or collards, pepper, spinach?, parsley

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Recipes

Cream of Broccoli and Fennel Soup

Sausage and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

Swiss Chard Tamales

Potato and Swiss Chard Gratin- Bad Manners Recipe

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September Sixteenth

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The kitchen on the farm this week has been steamy and warm and even a little sloppy. Momma Jane and I have been busy canning tomato sauce with the culled tomatoes from the farm this week. We’re peeling garlic, chopping onions, plucking herbs, cleaning jars and canning our little hearts out. It feels good to have the pantry filling up with jars of sunshine that will sustain us in the year ahead. We even did one small batch of grape jelly from grapes that the neighbors let us pick.

Tomato and pepper production is rapidly coming to an end on the farm. There are temperatures with lows in the 30s later this week. The nights will begin to dip down closer to frost and truly, it could be ‘any day now’ before we get our first frost. Most commonly the first frost comes around the 3rd week of September, but sometimes sooner and sometimes later. The only crops we are in the biggest danger of losing now are tomatoes and peppers, but both of those crops are waning quickly in production. Many of the crops we still have out there are ‘frost tolerant’ which means that a light frost will not hurt them at all, but will in fact make them sweeter turning the starches from the plant into sugars. Once we get frost and cooler weather, many of the fall brassicas and spinach will actually be sweeter.

The days are noticeably shorter now and cooler which slows down the growth of our Fall crops some. We’re watching our fall spinach plantings and waiting for those succulent greens to size up as we can’t wait to start sharing with you fall spinach again! We were very excited to be offering fall lettuce in this week’s box. Greens other than kale, chard and collards can be tricky to come by in the fall. Many of our fall plantings of broccoli, cauliflower, and kohlrabi are looking very good. We can look forward to these and a few other seasonal treats very soon!

We have had a bit of a switch with our workers this fall as some of our crew members have left us to go back to school teaching and/or studying. We’re sad to see our friends go but we wish then success in their next chapter. We have hired on a few new workers who come with fresh enthusiasm and energy to carry us to the finish line with their new pep and energy. There is a core group of us who have been at this hard labor thing since April and our bones and brains are getting a little weary. But those of us who make it through an entire season sure do have good character! Some of us even wake up from a winter slumber coming back and wanting more!

We feel so lucky and blessed to have some sense of normalcy on the farm. Even with the masks, no hugging and social distancing, getting to work out in an open field with the opportunity to interact with other humans LIVE, we enjoy the sensation for a little while that very little has changed in the world. How lucky we are to be surrounded by so much bounty while fostering community and nourishment in all the ways that we know how.

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

Napa Cabbage-  One head of Napa Cabbage per member this week.  The heads were a little bigger this week than last week.  This cabbage makes a terrific salad.  It is very commonly used to make KimChi, a fermented Korean sauerkraut with hot peppers and mixed veggies.  Keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Red Kabocha-  Sunshine Squash is the varity name of this squash.  It is my personal all-time favorite squash!  It has such a thick, creamy, bright orange flesh that makes butternuts fade into the background.  Cut your squash in half lengthwise, remove the seeds with a large spoon, and bake in the oven at 350 for about an hour with a little water in the pan to preven it from sticking.  

Broccoli or Romanesco-  You may have recevied either one broccoli or two small romanesco.  The broccoli the heads were beautiful and perfect this week!  

Red Potatoes-  2 lbs of gorgeous red potatoes for all this week!

Carrots-  1 pound per member.  

Green Curly Kale- One hearty bunch of green curly kale per member.  Keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Tomatoes-  2 lbs tomatoes per member.  Tomato production is waning quickly now.  Remember to remove your tomatoes from the plastic bag and allow them to continue ripening on your counter laid out.  Do not refrigerate tomatoes unless you need to buy yourself some time before you get to using them up!  

Thyme-  One very aromatic bunch of thyme per member this week.  Thyme is wonderful in soups, stews, tea or broth of any kind.  If you don't think you can use it all, you can remove the rubber band and lay your thyme out on a baking sheet and or dehydrator trays and dehydate it.  If you use the oven, turn it on the lowest setting and crack the oven door so it doesn't cook.  Store your dried herbs in a mason jar with a tight lid.  

Sweet Peppers-  Very small givings of peppers this week.  We tried to have at least two sweet peppers per member this week.  Some of them were smaller or on the green side.  We're feeling the effects of our pepper disease now late in the season when we normally have a lot more peppers to share!  Luckliy green peppers are still tasty in salsa, on pizza in relish or any other way you can dream up!

Yellow Onion-  One Yellow Onion per member.  

Lettuce-  Either a green leaf lettuce head or a red leaf lettuce head.  Stores best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

MiniSweet Peppers and Cherry Tomatoes-  1/4 pound paper sacks with a very small offering of mini-sweet peppers and a cherry tomato mix.  

Next Week's Best Guess-Potatoes, onion, garlic, kohlrabi?, fennel?, broccoli, lettuce, tomato, chard, winter squash, carrots

Recipes

Peanut Pasta Napa Cabbage Salad

Caldo Verde-Portugese Kale, Sausage and Potato Soup (I LOVE this Recipe!)

Thai Red Curry with Kabocha Squash

September Nineth

I knew from the very first time I worked on a farm at the ripe age of 18 that the countryside was where I belonged. The feel of plants and soil between my fingers, the feel of the breeze and sunshine on my skin and the subtle sounds of nature all around me called to me in a way that I could not deny. I am reminded of my love of this work on these cool Autumn days when the sun is shining and the air is cool and the crickets are chirping. I feel something of a ‘second wind’ that energizes me even after a long season of hard work and focus.

I especially love this time of year for the foods that the good earth offers us. We are still getting greens and juicy tomatoes and sweet peppers. We’re still getting freshness and sweetness, even as the warming and more starchy foods come into season. I am still fascinated after all these years at how meaningful and appropriate the seasonal diet is. My body begins to yearn for the warming winter squash and potatoes. My mouth waters at the thought of apple pie and cinnamon. Thoughts of chilis and soups make me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside.

Today we came in from the fields for dinner to the smells of pumpkin bars and stuffed squash coming out of the oven. Momma Jane warmed our home with the delicious feels, smells and flavors of Fall on a chilly Monday evening. We sometimes joke that Momma Jane is our farm wife. So that Adam and I can both work full days on Mondays and Tuesdays, we have the warmth of Grandma Jane watching the kids and feeding us delicious home-made meals-the work she loves most. While it feels like she’s taking care of us, I know that we’re really all taking care of one another, sharing with one another the gifts we know best how to give.

We broke out the wool hats and sweaters and put socks on our feet and wore our boots again this week. I feel so cozy and prepared even when a cool wind is blowing if my body is dry and warm. I still feel the same level of love for this work that I did as a young woman and I am especially reminded by the feeling I get after being in the fields all day and then coming into a warm house. My body feels tired and tried, but strangely satisfied and fulfilled. Perhaps this is the same feeling an athlete gets at the end of their practice or work out? Humans have always loved doing hard things and have found enjoyment and satisfaction out of it. I also get my socialization and dinner out of the deal, so it feels practical and positive.

The weather will be a little wet this week and the cool breeze will turn cold soon enough. There will be a sense of urgency to get the roots out of the ground and into storage or CSA boxes. We will focus on wrapping up the last five weeks of Summer Share deliveries with enthusiasm and valor. The new and exciting Fall foods like Brussels sprouts, parsnips, leeks, spinach, sweet potatoes, potatoes and all of the fun varieties of winter squash will get us through keeping us warm and well fed while nourishing our bodies as well as our nature-loving souls.

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

Tomatoes- 7 plus pounds of mixed tomatoes.  Tomato production is slowing now with the colder weather.  We pick tomatoes with a 'blush'.  This means that we pick any tomato that is showing any signs of color since tomatoes ripen so quickly off of the vine.  If your tomatoes need more ripening, we recommend letting them sit out on your counterop or windowsil.  Only put tomatoes in the refrigerator if they are fully ripe and you need to buy yourself some time before you get to using it up.  Refrigerators suck flavor out of tomatoes.  The more you can leave them to ripen on the counter, the better their flavor will be.  We grow all kinds of tomatoes in all different shapes and colors.  Some of them are heirloom tomatoes (but the herilooms ripen a little later still mostly), the oval shaped romas that are more of a paste tomato and less juicy like a slicer.  We also grow all kinds of slicers that range from yellow to red to purplish-black to orange.  You'll know if your tomato is ripe if it feels slightly soft to the touch.  Even though your tomatoes were bagged in a plastic bag, they much prefer to not be in their little plastic bags.  Remove them from their plastic bag and allow them to 'breathe' on the countertop.  

Peppers- 2-3 Green or Sweet Bell Peppers per member.   Peppers prefer 50 degree storage temps so the fridge is a little too cold and the couter is a little too warm, so choose your favorite spot!  They're so delicious, I'm sure they won't last long in any home!  We enjoy putting them in fresh pico or Salsa, on pizza, witih eggs or even stuffed peppers if you're feeling ambitious!  

Brussel Sprout Tops-  Everyone received 4 brussel sprout tops this week.  Sweet and tender with a collard-like flavor.  The leaves will wilt down like spinach when cooked.  Simply delicious as a noodle bowl or rice bowl ingredient.

Napa Cabbage-  It is refreshing and crunchy, perfect for a salad green substitute or slaw.  It can also be used in a stirfry, casserole (stuffed cabbage leaves) or soup.  It is like two greens in one.  The top portion is more tender and perfect for raw dishes where the bottom is ideal for cooking.

Green Beans and Dragon Tongue Beans-  .64 lb bags of beans this week.  A mix of green beans and Dragon Tongues.  The Dragon Tongue Beans are an heirloom variety of beans that is cream colored, wider and thicker than a green bean.  This will likely be the last giving of beans for this year.

Red Potatoes-  2 pounds of freshly dug red potatoes per member.  Potatoes are one of the few crops that we do not wash.  They will keep better unwashed- and washing them can sometimes really scuff them up.  We will have either potatoes or sweet potatoes in the remaining boxes of the season.  The first couple of givings will be modest (2 pounds), and once we get them all out of the ground, we hope to increase the amount per giving once we have a better ideas of how our yields will be this year.

Spaghetti Squash-  These are the large, hard, yellow items in your box.  Spaghetti squash have the shortest shelf life in our experience of growing squash.  They are also all the rage in the gluten-free world these days.  Spaghetti squash can be prepared similar to any other winter squash.  Cut in in half lenghtwise, scoop out the seeds and discard.  Place the two squash halves face down on a baking pan with about a half in of water all around them.  Bake at 350 for abount and hour.  After one hour, turn the squash face up, drain any excess water and allow them to steam out and loose some of the added moisture from the baking process.  Once it is cool enough to handle, use a fork and scrape the noodle-like flesh into a bowl for working with.  They can be used like 'noodles' for eating a gluten-free spaghetti meal.  My personal favorite is to make the Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl with Lime Peanut sauce.  They also make great 'hash browns'.  

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper-  Some of these were picked in the lime-green stage.  The hot peppers were tucked into the top of the tomato bags this week to tell them apart from the sweet peppers.  Some of these hungarian hot wax peppers were turning red too.  Hungarian Hot Wax peppers are amung the most mild of all hot peppers which is why we grow them for CSA.  This is a good one to add to your salsas or sauces if you like a little heat, but don't want the dish to be over-powered.  They can be sneaky though, some of them pack more punch than others.  Taste as you cook to make sure you don't over-do it! 

Red Onion-  Because life is much sweeter with onion in everything!

Basil- One last bunch of basil for 2020.  For use on your pizza, bruschetta, or however you fancy!  Basil will turn black in your refrigerator.  Keeps best like cut flowers in a glass of water.  

We were able to harvest a small amount of eggplant and romanesco this week.  We used these items to fill in some boxes that had the space.

Next Week's Best Guess-Potatoes, lettuce, kale or chard, thyme, tomatoes, peppers, napa cabbage?, onion, broccoli, carrots or beets

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Recipes

Crunchy Napa Cabbage Salad witih Ramen Noodles

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Hash Browns

Italian Chicken Pasta Skillet with Tomato and Pepper

Crisp Brussels Sprout Leaves

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September Second

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Dear Adam,

This is a letter for you because we don’t get all that much time to talk to each other these days between the sounds and needs of the children, the demands of the harvesting crew and the pressures of the farm. By the time the table is finally cleared and the dishes are finally done and the children are finally sleeping we’re both too tired to fill one another’s cup. We show our love for one another through the loyalty we play to our roles. You are so constant and steady and strong.

You’ve been busy up until last week irrigating around the clock spending all of your evenings running water lines, managing the pump and assessing the effects of the drought on the crops. I see the extra weight that you’re carrying these days and I want you to know that I see you as my real life super hero. You work the hours that you do for the farm and the CSA, but you’re doing it too, for our family and I don’t want that to go un-noticed. The children get the majority of our kisses and cuddles and extra love, but I feel that when we’re loving them, we’re strengthening our family bond and that includes the bond we share.

The farm really does look good, by the way. Awesome, in fact. I know that you’re seeing the farm through the lense of a farmer assessing the damage and yields. You’re too busy putting out fires to even get the chance to slow down and sniff the basil. The beautifully cultivated fall brassicas, the awesome winter-squash crop, and the greenhouse full of onions and garlic are just a few of the signs of success.   The Fall Carrot crop is a little thin, but I know that you did everything you could to get water to them when they needed it most. We did get them weeded eventually and there will be time to weed the parsnips after all!

Hay, the Sweet potatoes are looking good too and the yields of potatoes should be twice what they were last year! I know that my optimist lense doesn’t often work to cheer you up, but I do think you secretly like it. The farm is too heavy to shoulder and you need me to brush some of it off. You took over the torch when Aliza was born and what a job you’ve been doing! This farm wouldn’t run without either one of us, but seamlessly you stitched the years together and the CSA boxes are full and beautiful and quality standards have improved because of you! I’m a bit envious in fact because my identity as a farmer has been handed to you and I have faded into a mother and a farmer’s wife. The cloak of motherhood is radiant and floral and I am so thankful and I would wish for nothing other than exactly the way it is now.

But here you are, living out your boyhood dream to become a farmer, and rockin’ it! Remember that we’re dealing with mother nature here. We’re doing everything right. The seeding, the cultivating, the transplanting, the harvesting, it’s all on time. The soil is fertile, the stage is set, the crew is here, but mother nature really does call the shots. You know all of this, but I thought it might be helpful to remind you how much I love you and appreciate you and how I see that you’re doing more than enough. The season is waning now. We’re almost there!    

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

Tomatoes- 7 plus pounds of mixed tomatoes.  Tomato production is peaking now!  We pick tomatoes with a 'blush'.  This means that we pick any tomato that is showing any signs of color since tomatoes ripen so quickly off of the vine.  If your tomatoes need more ripening, we recommend letting them sit out on your counterop or windowsil.  Only put tomatoes in the refrigerator if they are fully ripe and you need to buy yourself some time before you get to using it up.  Refrigerators suck flavor out of tomatoes.  The more you can leave them to ripen on the counter, the better their flavor will be.  We grow all kinds of tomatoes in all different shapes and colors.  Some of them are heirloom tomatoes (but the herilooms ripen a little later still mostly), the oval shaped romas that are more of a paste tomato and less juicy like a slicer.  We also grow all kinds of slicers that range from yellow to red to purplish-black to orange.  You'll know if your tomato is ripe if it feels slightly soft to the touch.  Even though your tomatoes were bagged in a plastic bag, they much prefer to not be in their little plastic bags.  Remove them from their plastic bag and allow them to 'breathe' on the countertop.  

Peppers- 4-5 Sweet Bell Peppers per member.  Still a fair pepper harvest again this week.  We have been pleasantly surprised at how many we're getting despite the disease and the cull rate.  Hoping for another good couple weeks of pepper sharing!  Peppers prefer 50 degree storage temps so the fridge is a little too cold and the couter is a little too warm, so choose your favorite spot!  They're so delicious, I'm sure they won't last long in any home!  We enjoy putting them in fresh pico or Salsa, on pizza, witih eggs or even stuffed peppers if you're feeling ambitious!  

Green Curly Kale-  Lovely green bunches of kale this week.  Kale keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  Some people just gobble it all up, but one member told me she likes to dehydrate her kale and keep it in jars for enjoying in soups in the winter as a way of preserving what she can't use now for later.  

Green or Red Cabbage-  Cabbage is so common and usual, it can be difficult to remember to appreciate our old friend.  Where would the world be today without cabbage!  An old childhood friend.  

Green Beans and Dragon Tongue Beans-  1.3lb bags of beans this week.  A mix of green beans and Dragon Tongues.  The Dragon Tongue Beans are an heirloom variety of beans that is cream colored, wider and thicker than a green bean.  Don't feel discouraged, but the fun purple stripes on the 'dragon tongues' magically disappear when cooked!  

Yellow Onion-  Because life is much sweeter with onion in everything!  

Spaghetti Squash-  These are the large, hard, yellow items in your box.  This is the first "Winter Squash" giving of the season.  Spaghetti squash have the shortest storage life in our experience of growing squash.  They are also all the rage in the gluten-free world these days.  Spaghetti squash can be prepared similar to any other winter squash.  Cut in in half lenghtwise, scoop out the seeds and discard.  Place the two squash halves face down on a baking pan with about a half in of water all around them.  Bake at 350 for abount and hour.  After one hour, turn the squash face up, drain any excess water and allow them to steam out and loose some of the added moisture from the baking process.  Once it is cool enough to handle, use a fork and scrape the noodle-like flesh into a bowl for working with.  They can be used like 'noodles' for eating a gluten-free spaghetti meal.  My personal favorite is to make the Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl with Lime Peanut sauce.  They also make great 'hash browns'.  

Garlic-  One bulb per member.  Asian Tempest Variety again this week.  Asian Tempest is a red skinned hardneck variety with a spiicy flavor.  They hae 4-7 cloves per bulb.  This variety has been cultivated and in the care of the Varney family long before Adam and I started to grow it.  Will have longest shelf life in the fridge, but will keep terrifically well on your counter for a few months too!  

Flat Leaf Parsley-  Parsley is such a fun summer herb to cook with.  I find myself really missing parsley in the winter months.  Parsley is lovely mixed into soups, sauces, marinades and salads of all kinds.  Find ways to sneak this super food into your meals.  Check out the Chimichurri recipe below.  

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper-  Some of these were picked in the lime-green stage.  The hot peppers were tucked into the top of the tomato bags this week to tell them apart from the sweet peppers.  Some of these hungarian hot wax peppers were turning red too.  Hungarian Hot Wax peppers are amung the most mild of all hot peppers which is why we grow them for CSA.  This is a good one to add to your salsas or sauces if you like a little heat, but don't want the dish to be over-powered.  They can be sneaky though, some of them pack more punch than others.  Taste as you cook to make sure you don't over-do it!  

Jalapeno Pepper-  These were also tucked into the top of your tomato bags.  A little easier to identify, Jalapenos are green and smaller.  They have more heat than the Hungarian Hot Wax.  Taste as you cook with hot peppers so you're not disappointed with too much heat!  

Bag of Minisweet Peppers and Sungold Cherry Tomatoes-  .53 lbs.  We gave a combination of cherry tomatoes and minisweet peppers in one brown paper bag this week.  This little goody bag is excellet for snacking!  We usually give cherry tomatoes in plastic clamshell containers, but we're experimenting this summer with giving them in brown paper bags instead.  This is one small effort at using less plastic on the farm;)  We like using less plastic, but the containers possibly do a better job at keeping them from getting smooshed?  Let us know what you think!

Next Week's Best Guess:  Napa Cabbage?, Toatoes, green beans, onion, garlic, brussels sprouts tops, lettuce?, romanesco and/or broccoli?, spaghetti squash?, potatoes

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Recipes

Argentinian Chimichurri Recipe with Parsley

Cabbage Egg Roll Keto Bowl

Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bown with Lime Peanut Sauce